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Laura Coates Live

Trump Faces Criminal Trial; Laura Answers Callers' Questions; Israel Weighs Response To Unprecedented Iranian Attack; CNN Shares The WNBA Draft Highlights; Mark Cuban Reveals Nine-Figure Tax Bill. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired April 15, 2024 - 23:00   ET



MASIH ALINEJAD, IRANIAN JOURNALIST AND ACTIVIST: Exactly, through their proxies. They're using different proxies everywhere to create chaos. So, I have to say that this should be a tipping point for democratic countries to do something because the ultimate solution for ending war is to end Islamic Republic. This is what the Iranian people want, regime change, whether the, you know, the rest of the world want to use this, you know, or not.


ALINEJAD: But this is the ultimate solution.

PHILLIP: Well, we'll see so much that can unfold in the coming days. Thank you both very much. Reena Ninan and Masih Alinejad, thank you very much.

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

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: So, what's in and what's out in Donald Trump's criminal trial and the big story prosecutors need to tell. Plus, you've got questions about the trial? Well, we've got answers. I'll be taking your calls and your questions live in just a few moments. Tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

All right, so the first thing we all learned today, it's not going to be easy to find jurors in the first ever criminal trial of a former president. Ninety-six prospective jurors brought in for questioning. At least 50 of them. That's more than half for those of you who don't want to do math at 11 p.m. They raised their hand and said they could not be fair or impartial. And precisely zero have been selected so far.

You know, we did get some clues today about the strategy the D.A. is going to take. Clues that came from the evidence that they asked the judge to allow in and that he granted. Notably, Karen McDougal, a name from the past. She will be allowed to testify. Now, you may remember her. She's the former Playboy model who alleges that she had an affair with Donald Trump. He, of course, denies that.

But prosecutors say that American Media Inc., the parent company of the "National Enquirer," agreed to pay McDougal a-150,000 bucks five months before the 2016 election to keep quiet about the alleged affair. The D.A.'s office has argued that the A.M. ideal shows a pattern, along with Stormy Daniels's hush money payment at the heart of this very matter.

We also learned that Judge Merchan will allow evidence of the "National Enquirer" suppressing stories that might have been harmful to Trump and publishing others that attacked Trump's opponents.

From the transcript, one of the prosecutors saying they expect testimony that -- quote -- "many of the headlines and the stories behind them were shown to Mr. Trump before they were published so that he could approve, reject or suggest changes," going on to cite "a series of headlines attacking Ted Cruz by accusing him of infidelities and having a family connection to JFK's assassin."

But the judge will not allow that infamous Access Hollywood tape to be played. He did, however, say the comments Trump made on the tape could be introduced as evidence, presumably including him bragging about grabbing women by the "P" word. Prosecutors allege once the tape came out, the campaign scrambled to bury the Daniels affair allegation because they were worried about what female voters might think. And amid his usual litany of unsubstantiated charges, well, Donald Trump said this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is about election interference. That's all it's about.


COATES: Hmm. Well, that's funny. He's right. According to the D.A., Alvin Bragg, he, too, thinks it's all about election interference. That is the story that prosecutors say they're going to present to a jury whenever they actually find one. A story much bigger than just that check to Stormy Daniels. A story of what they allege was a scheme by Trump and his allies to keep voters from hearing damaging information that might cost him the election. But the question, of course, is, can the D.A. actually prove it?

I want to bring in CNN political commentator and host of the new national show, "The Big Deal with Errol Louis" on Spectrum News, Errol Louis, and CNN legal analyst, former U.S. attorney, Michael Moore, and former House Judiciary special counsel in Trump's first impeachment trial, Norm Eisen. He also investigated Trump as counsel to House Democrats and litigated cases involving him previously, and a brand- new book out called "Trying Trump," just in time to meet trying Trump.

Let's talk about this. Let's begin with all of you. Norm, actually, you were in the courtroom today, and I have to know what that was like seeing Donald Trump walk down the courtroom to actually face a criminal trial.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it was a first in American history, Laura. [23:05:00]

And as a student of our almost two and a half centuries of national life, the image of a president, former president of the United States, being held to account just like any other defendant, one of the jurors, he was being questioned today, said, I believe no one is above the law, a president, a former president or a plumber, and that was the line that captured the day for me because that's the American idea.

But he's also -- he's not above the law, but he's not below the law. He's exercising all his rights. That's why we had a little bit of a slow day with juror picking today.

COATES: You know, the jury selection process, first of all, we all know it's not law and order when you have a crime committed, a defendant identified, and everything is complete with Sam Waterston down the courthouse steps at the end of 48 minutes with commercials.

It takes time, right? The jury process takes time. You know this, Michael. And before that began, there were the motions about what might come into evidence and what might not. Just walk us through what your impression was about the judge's decision to allow some things in already.

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. You know -- I'm glad to be with you here -- it's no surprise that the judge is going to let some of this evidence in. Prosecutors like to get in evidence of pattern and practice, motive, bent of mind, scheme. These are things that sometimes we call similar transaction type-evidence. And so, this extra payment that was made, these other things that they have talked about, that's not -- that's not a shock to me at all.

COATES: You mean Karen McDougal?

MOORE: That's right. At the same time, he kept out the playing of the tape itself because that could be too prejudicial in the case. It could introduce some error in the case. So, he kept that out. So, he's doing a balancing act, trying to get in evidence that may, in fact, go to the government's efforts to prove the crime. At the same time, not putting in evidence and allowing them to present evidence that could -- you know, could ultimately outweigh its usefulness in the case.

And so, that's -- you know, no grand surprise. But no surprise either. This is slow. What is a little surprising to me, and you don't always see this and we practice mostly in federal court, you know, you see judges move things quicker. And you may not always take up time when you've got jurors waiting to have motion hearings and that type of thing.

These are the kind of things that sometimes judges like to take up first thing in the morning or during breaks so that they don't inconvenience the jury pool. So, not a surprise that it's a slow day. We'll see how it goes, you know, throughout the rest of the week and, I think, probably weeks as they try to pick a jury in the case. COATES: You know, the idea that they're not going to allow in testimony about sexual misconduct or otherwise, there's always this balancing act of what's probative, meaning is it informative versus what's prejudicial. Is it going to hurt the actual defendant? This balancing act took place.

But Donald Trump was in a criminal courtroom today, Errol, right? He was actually present. He had to be a participant. It wasn't voluntary. He may or may not have had his eyes closed for a few moments. Maybe he was meditating. We do not know. But he was also at one point sarcastically chuckling. And, you know, you have to wonder what impact that has to have Donald Trump, former president, a larger-than-life figure for many of these jurors seeing him for the very first time in that courtroom.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, look, the court and the procedure and the reality of the situation has a way of bringing you down to size, even if you are a wealthy businessman, even if you used to be the most powerful man in the world. I mean, he was read his rights today. He was --

COATES: Literally.

LOUIS: He was literally read his rights. He was told like any other defendant, if you don't show up for some reason, a warrant will go out, and you will be arrested, you will be dragged here in chains. That must have been a sobering moment, I would think, for him.

He's not in a position to really sort of spin this the way that he tried so hard to do in some of those civil cases where you have a little bit of leeway. You can show up or not show up. You can show up and kind of make a spectacle of it. In this case, no. All of that is gone. You are here because you're on trial. Your freedom is at stake. You have the right to remain silent. You should probably do whatever your lawyers tell you to do.

Now, even within that, of course, Donald Trump is bucking and pushing against that and trying through little chuckles and statements outside of the courthouse to try and convince his followers that this is all something that they should ignore. That it's all politics. That it's all made up. That somehow the Justice Department is controlling this elected prosecutor in Manhattan.

But the reality is, I think we'll see over the next six weeks, that many people, if they're fair and they're watching this, will see that that's not true. The facts of the case are not being dictated from the outside. It's what he did and what the prosecutors can prove he did.

COATES: Well, first of all, let's just see what he's going to do in the courtroom. And just imagine, if you will, for a second, I'm a judge, because I like that feeling for a second. There's a moment that people talk about sidebar, right? Where you're going to go up to where the judge is sitting, you're going to go before the judge, you're going to have a little hushing machine. Just look at the amount of space that three individuals are taking up. Then you add a juror getting questioned. And you add someone who's, what, 6'3" and Donald Trump as well, sitting there as well, the former president.


That's what he would like to do, Norm. He wants to sit there or stand there during the actual questioning process while a potential juror is next to him.

EISEN: Well, and this was discussed today because it's not just Donald Trump. He can't move without his Secret Service entourage.

COATES: Right. You're right. Add them, too.

EISEN: And they wanted -- And there's a posse of lawyers, the defense lawyers, the prosecutor's side. So, there are special features when you have a former president who is appearing. But it should not detract from the fact he wants to go to his son's graduation. No, he wants to go to the Supreme Court. He's very bitter. He can't be in the Supreme Court next week to talk about the 2020 election interference case. So, he is --

COATES: That's the immunity argument.

EISEN: Yes. So, he is -- it's in the Supreme Court in Washington on Thursday. His lawyer, Todd Blanche, begged. He says, this is very important to my client. No. And Donald Trump complained about it afterwards. He came out in the hall. So, he is definitely feeling -- that's why he fought so hard. Over 10 efforts to delay this. He's feeling that pressure of the justice system on him, the same as any other defendant.

COATES: But imagine if you were a juror in this courtroom, right? And in the pressure that he is trying to avoid, you're going to have to answer questions like, have you ever attended a Trump rally or an anti-Trump rally or someone in your circle? How do you feel that Trump is being treated by the system? Do you think a president should be charged in a state criminal action?

And they got to sit there and what? Make eye contact, not make eye contact, show impartiality. It's a lot of pressure for a juror knowing you've got a gag order in place where someone doesn't want to abide by it.

MOORE: Yeah. I mean, it is pressure. I mean, people don't like to have to answer questions anyway when they get called in for jury duty.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

MOORE: So, you take that and you now exponentially increase the pressure by putting a former president there, this sort of circus that's going on outside the courthouse. And then, of course, as they come in and then in the courtroom where you have the former president sitting there and you're face to face and you're having to talk about your feelings about a particular, the way he's either being treated or the things that you've done or these, I mean, those aren't comfortable questions. And so, it does add to it.

And I think that, at the end of the day, it's what's going to really add to the length of time that it takes to get an impartial jury in the case. You know, we can say, they've already asked more questions. I mean, typically, they would ask 15 or so questions the court would to get, and we've got about 42 now. So, we're already way past what the norm would be.

But we are seeing now, the public is at least seeing through this process, what I think would be just regular sausage-making trial. That is that you pick a jury, you go through this process, you have some motions here. It just happens to be different because it's a former president and it's going to be more drawn out.

COATES: Well --

LOUIS: You know, I was born in Manhattan, spent most of my adult working life here. I think people may be surprised at their ability to find fair-minded jurors who really didn't follow every bit of the 2016 campaign or the 2020 campaign or what goes on in the world of politics or, frankly, the news media.

There are worlds within Manhattan. You know, people who are in their various -- their artistic community, involved in their family life, involved in their neighborhood life, they've got a whole different world going on.

And so, it's going to be really interesting to see what out of this very, very diverse county we're going to find, and I think we will find people who don't feel particularly one way or the other about Donald Trump.

COATES: I think that's going to be an important point. I do think that even if the sarcastic cynic in me is also saying, or someone who could present that way, absolutely, in front of the lawyers, right? That's going to be the key.

Errol Louis, Norm, Eisen, thank you all so much. Michael Moore, stick around, please, as well.

So, one of the prospective jurors who got dismissed today said something that encapsulates just maybe how hard or difficult this process might be in Manhattan. The person was overheard saying in the hallway -- quote -- "I just couldn't do it." Now, they were one of the jurors who said they couldn't be fair or impartial.

Remember, this jury pool comes from a deep blue Manhattan. More than 85% of the population did vote for Biden in 2020. It doesn't mean they're actually going to find one way or the other based on how they voted, but that's a focus from the Trump team especially.

Now, there were a couple jurors who started being questioned at the end of the day who were not ruled out, at least not yet. And one of them remarked, "I feel that nobody is above the law, whether it be a former president or a sitting president or a janitor." Well, joining me now, jury consultant Jason Bloom, who worked for former baseball ace pitcher Roger Clemens on his federal perjury trial. Good to have you here, Jason. Let me ask your guidance here because the struggle might be real.


You've got at least 50 of 96 potential jurors let go in one day, in one really few-hour period, saying they could not possibly be fair. Walk us through how normal that would be in a high-profile case such as this.

JASON BLOOM, JURY CONSULTANT: Well, I find that to be extremely rare because what I've basically gleaned from that is there are now about half of the people that have been in the courtroom who can say they can serve on a jury for six, seven or eight weeks.

When they say that they can be fair and impartial, I have a little bit of trouble with that. As someone who does jury focus groups day in and day out, studies the psychology of jury decision making, I know one thing: Donald Trump is famous, so people have formed opinions about him already. Those opinions are very rigid, and they've been there for a long time.

We also have to layer in the notion that the facts in this case are already out there. These jurors are not going to learn about a new story, about a new scenario, about a new thing that happened. These facts have been all over for about six, maybe seven or eight years. And when we learn things, we form opinions about things. And when we form opinions about things, we then form biases about things.

So, it's nice that many of these perspective jurors can say, I think I can be fair, I can be fair and impartial. Eight weeks from now when I have to decide who's right and who's wrong, I can set aside my biases. But I think that's a very, very difficult thing to do. And I'll add to it that people, jurors actually, they vote with their politics.


BLOOM: And it's hard to set that aside. Theoretically, it would be fantastic if we could set aside our biases. And we'll always tell a judge that we can or we'd like to think that we can or that we will try. But the reality is that's a very, very difficult ask of anyone.

COATES: So how do you help the attorneys on their respective sides weed out the B.S.?

BLOOM: Yeah.

COATES: The overzealous juror who is like, absolutely, I can do that. Sure, no problem. Every answer is correct. It's what you want to be, which makes you all the more skeptical. How do you identify the red flags and course correct?

BLOOM: Yeah. There are two things we've got to do here in the courtroom. One is to identify the stealth jurors. COATES: Hmm.

BLOOM: These are the people that are going to have the ulterior motives for sitting on a jury. I mean, think about this, Laura, who wants to sit on a jury for eight weeks? That's a long, long time. And you talk about how New York City is mostly blue, which I agree with. But what we have to think about is the people that are remaining that can sit on a jury for six, seven or eight weeks. Are they equally cut between red and blue?

But we're looking for the stealth jurors. How do we find them? We ask the same question several different ways, such as, do you like oranges? Do you like fruit? Do you like fruit that can be peeled? And you're looking for the consistency there.

What you're also looking for is people who can -- who are not there to settle a score with Donald Trump or settle a score with the government. That's this jury nullification argument, because the facts are out there, but what the jury has to decide at the end of the day, that these prospective jurors probably do not realize, is whether or not there was a falsification of documents, as opposed to did Donald Trump pay out some hush money? Did Donald Trump have an affair with a porn star? Things like that. But there's so much out there about this right now. It's hard to set aside what you have already learned.

And the last thing I'll say about it, in terms of what needs to go on in the courtroom, is it's the way you frame these questions. If you just simply ask a prospective juror, can you be fair? Everyone wants to get along and go along, so they're always going to say yes.


BLOOM: The better way to frame it is, can we agree that because of the way you feel about Donald Trump or can we agree that the way that you feel about the criminal justice system is going to make it difficult for you to be a fair and impartial juror in this particular case?

And you have to make it easy for them to say yes because, quite frankly, and you did this earlier, put yourself in the seat of a prospective juror. When they say I can't be fair, when they say I can't follow the law in a courtroom, in front of a judge, in front of prosecutors, in front of defense lawyers, in front of Donald Trump, this prospective juror doesn't know what's going to happen.

COATES: It's such an important point, Jason, you've raised, and just thinking about you've got to do all that as the prosecution and defense, and striking jurors trying to figure out who you don't want on your team or on your jury panel, and have a former president standing beside you, and sort of the entire atmosphere around it as well.

Jason Bloom, thank you so much.

BLOOM: Thank you.

[23:20:00] COATES: Listen, I bet you've all got plenty of questions about this trial. I know. I do. When we come back, I'm going to answer some of them live.


COATES: All right, with day one of the jury selection of Donald Trump's New York hush money trial now concluded, there are still a lot of questions about the trial, and so we're going to answer them live. Your questions. We always invite you into the conversation.

And Michael Moore is back with me to help as well. If you ever want to participate, you can just go to, fill out the form, type in your question there, and then we'll reach out to you, have you call in as the trial unfolds.


Let's go to our first caller of the night. We got Rich from Colorado. Rich, what's your question?

RICH, CALLER FROM COLORADO (via telephone): Well, I'm kind of curious. What can prosecutors do to prevent a Trump supporter from using this opportunity to lie their way into the jury? Are there investigations allowed or penalties if such a juror is exposed once the trial begins?

COATES: That's a great question. I'm glad that you've asked both of them. First of all, the idea of trying to navigate how to select a jury is a lot of gut intuition and some research in terms of having past experiences of things. You might have somebody who is a -- quote, unquote -- "stealth juror," as we've discussed, who has a different motive for being on the trial. That's why you have to ask a lot of questions to figure out what they actually are thinking and can they be consistent in their responses.

And as for the second part of it, once the jury panel has been in panels, you're going to have 12 and then six alternates as well, there'll be a way to track to figure out if there's anything that they're doing to violate the judge's orders about what they can and cannot do going forward. And if they are violating, that's when you have the alternate jurors coming in. And no one at that time will know until the trial is over if they are an alternate. That's a great question.

Nancy from Allentown, Pennsylvania. What's your question?

NANCY, CALLER FROM ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA (via telephone): During his civil trial, he just got up and left the courtroom. Is he allowed to do that during his criminal trial?

COATES: You know, trying to predict his behavior might be a little bit odd, but he's not allowed to leave in a criminal trial, unlike a civil where it's voluntary. But, Michael, what's your take?

MOORE: I mean, that's right. He did kind of get up as he pleased or didn't show up at points of some of his civil cases. This is different. You know, part of sitting in a criminal court is because you have a right to confront the people against you. And so, the court is essentially protecting that constitutional right and saying, you know, you're going to be here. And so, you have to be in the courtroom, you're going to be present every day, and then that way I can be sure as the judge that your rights are protected and that we keep things moving forward.

So, he's going to be there. I think the judge in this case has made it clear he's not going to give him a pass, even for things that Trump asked to do.

COATES: But interestingly enough, if he were to violate or not show up on his own accord, they could still go with the trial. But he'd have a warrant out for his arrest.

MOORE: That's exactly -- that's exactly right. At that point, he could be arrested for not showing up.

COATES: Let's go to Scott from Levittown, New York. Scott, what's your question?

SCOTT, CALLER FROM LEVITTOWN, NEW YORK (via telephone): Good evening, Laura. Thank you for having me.


SCOTT (via telephone): How will the jury be treated during and after the trial? Will the names and addresses be known by the lawyers?

COATES: Well, what we do know right now is that none of this will be public at this time because of protection for the jurors. Obviously, you can imagine how the prospect of intimidation or just media interest or general public interest in the individuals would be. So, they're going to have that be confidential.

Now, after a trial, it gets a little bit murkier, Michael, right, to figure out how they can preserve the anonymity of these individual jurors.

MOORE: That's right.

COATES: They might want to come forward of their own accord following the trial, but during it, they cannot.

MOORE: That's right. And it's not unusual after a trial for a judge to tell the jury, you know, at this point, you're free to discuss it. At this point, you know, you're outside. The case is over. You've made your decision. The lawyers may have a question. The media may have a question. But pretty much, he turns it loose to them at that point to decide whether they want to remain anonymous or whether they want to talk about the deliberation of their case.

COATES: Emma from Norwalk, Connecticut, what's your question?

EMMA, CALLER FROM NORWALK, CONNECTICUT (via telephone): Is it possible that the Trump team and the D.A. will ultimately work out a plea deal prior to trial that prevents it from going forward like a plea deal? If so, how likely is that and what would happen procedurally?

COATES: Michael is already shaking his head.


MOORE: I mean, I think it's a great question, and it's a good thought. I think under normal circumstances, you would think that this might be something that happens. But I just think it's unlikely at this point that we've seen sort of this long, drawn out process to delay the trial. We're now here.

And I think of all the cases that Trump may want to sit in, this is probably the one that he wants to have go to court if he had to pick one. I'm not saying he wants to be here.

So, at this point, he's likely to use this as probably the best advertising for his campaign that he can do. We're going to hear his litanies after each court day, I guess. And so, he will continue to pound the hammer that he's being abused by the justice system. This, to him, is some evidence of that.

He would give all that up if he talked about a plea. He would have to actually admit he had done something wrong. That seems to me at this point to be unlikely.

Again, in a regular case, I think you would always have a discussion between the defendants, the lawyers, and the prosecutors. This seems to be an unlikely move, I think, at this point.

COATES: And, of course, if he were to plead guilty, it's not up to the prosecution or the defense to serve your sentence.

MOORE: That's right.

COATES: It's in the judge's hand, that same judge that he has had an antagonistic approach towards. We'll see if that impacts anything at all. Michael, thank you for helping to answer our questions.

MOORE: Thank you.

COATES: Thank you to everyone who called in. Hey, do you have a question you'd like to answer on the upcoming Trump trial? We'd love to hear from you. Submit your questions at

Up next, Israel vowing to retaliate after Iran's attack over the weekend.


But Western allies are urging restraint. So what kind of response should we expect? We'll discuss next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COATES: Well, the world is waiting and watching tonight to see how Israel responds to Iran's unprecedented attack on Saturday. Right now, Israel's war cabinet is figuring out what to do.

CNN is learning that it's determined to act and likely to act soon. Israel's army chief telling soldiers that Iran's strike will be met with a response. So, when will it happen and what will it look like?

Israel is facing a tough decision because how it responds will impact the growing powder keg in the Middle East. Now, remember, Iran's attack was in response to Israel's strike on Iran's embassy complex in Syria just earlier this month. Iran's response was the first time that it launched a direct military attack on Israel.



UNKNOWN (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE).

COATES: The country firing more than 300 projectiles in the form of drones and missiles, mostly launched directly from Iran's own territory. Israel's military says more than 99% of them were intercepted. But it was a harrowing moment. And for several hours, it was unclear how it would all play out.



NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: What we saw about a minute ago was a bright red light shooting off in that direction. And then you could hear the sound of a fighter jet sort of turning on its afterburner as it appeared and zooming off towards the distant horizon. It gave the impression that the fighter jet had just got instructions. There's something out in that direction. Get out and meet it fast. And I'm hearing the sound of the jet again.


COATES: Well, Israel's government is now facing a lot of outside pressure to exercise restraint, including from the United States. We're learning President Biden has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the U.S. will not participate in any offensive action against Iran.

Joining me now, someone who has covered the region extensively, senior editor at "Bloomberg," Bobby Ghosh. Thank you so much for being here today. You know, I wonder what do you think Israel's response will ultimately look like? We're hearing that it would be soon. But what will it look like?

BOBBY GHOSH, SENIOR EDITOR, BLOOMBERG: So, the challenge for Israel and for Prime Minister Netanyahu is to respond without escalating, and those are two very hard needles to thread simultaneously. There's a lot of pressure from within Israel, particularly from the political spectrum to the right of Netanyahu, to respond.

After all, if your enemy fires 300 missiles and drones in your direction, even if the -- even if this was primarily a performative operation with lots of advance warning, with no realistic chance of actually striking Israeli targets, even if all that, the fact that these were launched, that they were launched from Iran, is an act of war, and a country like Israel has to respond.

But as you pointed out, all of Israel's allies, the United States, all the European countries, are urging Israel not to respond in a way that would escalate.

So, the message from the White House to Bibi is take the win. You can -- you can declare victory because none of those drones and missiles really did much damage. Israel's defense systems worked. Israel's allies rallied to its support. The United States, Jordan, France, Britain helped to block and defend Israel from the attack. Declare victory and move on.

The trouble is that's not what Israelis, particularly those from the Israeli right, that's not what they want to hear. They want Iran to be punished for an act of war.

COATES: Well, let me ask you about the performative aspect of it. I mean, obviously, 99% of the drones and missiles were intercepted, the IDF and the Iron Dome obviously quite strong. Was this truly symbolic and performative or do they think they actually had an opportunity or a chance to inflict some pain and damage? Why engage in a performative act?

GHOSH: Well, it is to show a degree of seriousness that Iran has not previously done. I mean, the fact that they were launched from Iran is not a small thing. Yes, it is performative, but it is also serious in its own way. The reason I say --

COATES: But launch from Iran as opposed to through a proxy?

GHOSH: Through a proxy from Lebanon, which it has done before, from Iraq, which it has done before, from Yemen through the Houthis, another proxy for Iran, which it has done before. Iran has escalated by launching these directly from Iranian soil.

But the manner in which this was done, by signaling well in advance that an attack was coming, by the fact that it was launched from Iran, meant that the trajectory of all of these flying objects would be spotted well in advance, that Israel and its allies would have lots of opportunity, hours, to prepare to strike down. That's the performative aspect. Nobody in Iran seriously could have expected any of these missiles or drones to actually land and hit a target in Israel.

COATES: So, is there -- if there's a performative aspect, is there a psychological aspect to this as well of trying to -- I guess it is chest-beating in a way, but --

GHOSH: Yes. So, the Iranian political leadership, the Grand Ayatollah and Supreme Leader Khamenei, had to respond to the Israeli attack on the embassy. The Iranians essentially backed themselves into a corner here by -- forgive me -- by constantly warning that they would respond, they would respond, they would respond.


They got to a point where they had to respond. And it wouldn't do to have a small response because a small response, just shooting off a few rockets in the general direction of Israel, would not satisfy -- they, too, have a constituency within their country, Khamenei does, of the hard right in the Iranian spectrum, particularly from the IRGC, the Iranian military. They also were demanding some sort of response.

So, Khamenei had to come up with something that would show a greater degree of seriousness, a greater degree of purpose than he has ever done before. He has done that. The question is, now that Bibi Netanyahu is facing those same kinds of pressures, how does he respond?

COATES: What if Netanyahu does not exercise restraint as being urged?

GHOSH: Well, so then we've already reached -- look, with every little escalation that has taken place so far, and there has been -- Israel assassinates Iranian nuclear scientists in Iran. Iran responds by firing off missiles from Lebanon. Israel strikes Syrian targets. Iranian targets in Syria, Israel responds with some more rocket attacks. The escalation has taken place.

The trouble with this escalation ladder, I think military planners call it, the trouble with this escalation ladder is you reach a point where you can't go back down anymore. And the next step up takes things beyond the point of control, beyond the point where you can be certain of the outcome. And that's when we enter very, very dangerous territory, in a place, in a part of the world that's already dangerous, where there's already so much chaos because of the Israeli war on Hamas in Gaza.

The last thing we need is another front, and this one against a much more powerful enemy being Iran.

COATES: Bobby Ghosh, thank you so much for breaking this all down. I appreciate it so much.

GHOSH: A pleasure.

COATES: Ahead, the big moment for women's basketball. Well, getting even bigger. I'm talking about tonight's WNBA draft. We've got the picks and the fashion. And we'll talk about it with someone who was there next.




UNKNOWN: With the first pick in the 2024 WNBA draft, the Indiana Fever select Caitlin Clark, University of Iowa.



COATES: The NCAA stars are about to become rookies again. The next generation of stars hit the orange carpet tonight in New York for the WNBA draft. Caitlin Clark went first overall to the Indiana Fever, followed by Cameron Brink going to L.A., and third pick and NCAA champion Kamilla Cardoso is heading to Chicago alongside Angel Reese, who went seventh overall.

This was the first time that fans have come to the draft since 2016, and all 1,000 tickets were sold in 15 minutes. It is the culmination of an incredible NCAA season, which came to close with record viewership numbers for the championship game. Simply put, women's basketball is having a long-awaited moment.

Joining me now, fresh from the draft, CNN sports anchor Coy Wire. Also, with us, CNN contributor Cari Champion. So glad to have you both here. How lucky am I tonight?




CARI CHAMPION, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Boy -- boy dressed up. We planned it. I said, are we going to do a three-piece or what?

WIRE: Orange carpet ready, right?

COATES: Wait, both three pieces? Is the lining good, too?

WIRE: Oh, yeah.


CHAMPION: I don't have the same lining.

COATES: Get closer with that. All right.

CHAMPION: You got me. I don't have that.

COATES: Well, there you go. Then I'll begin with you tonight. Thank you --

WIRE: All right, we'll see this.

CHAMPION: You win.

COATES: Take me into this draft.

WIRE: Yeah.

COATES: This was a big night.

WIRE: It was a big night and a culmination of a lot of years of hard work, decades of hard work. The WNBA has been around for 27 years, and I think we've all felt this growth, this boom, and the popularity of not just college hoops, but women's sports in general.

And when I got there tonight at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, this historic venue, right? They had their first event there in 1861, and tonight they're hosting the next stars of the WNBA.

And from the busload out, when they started to come out, there were kids of all ages, parents with jerseys on, cheering these superstars into the venue. And then when you were in there, I mean, that place was popping. I mean, there was so much energy. It almost blew the lid off the place.

And you had legendary coaches like Dawn Staley in the house to see their players like Kamilla Cardoso get drafted third overall. And it had this family vibe to it. I've been to a lot of NFL drafts, and you do get this great sense of fandom, but you kind of get that division because there's like us versus them. But no matter which team's jersey they had on, they were all cheering --

CHAMPION: That's a good point.

WIRE: -- for every pick. And I love that sense of community that I saw and felt there tonight.

COATES: It's important. Go ahead.

CHAMPION: Well, to his point, I think going to WNBA games, everyone wants to compare, and I don't think we should, because there is more of a familial community and it feels more like a family event. And this is their moment, as you well know, because they have Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese and Dawn Staley and Cameron Brink, and they have, obviously, Cardoso. They have all these huge superstars that we're familiar with, and we can say their names.

But there is still this intimacy that I think is really important, that we don't need to try to make them not have any more by comparing it to the NBA. This was a big night, a huge night. And for me, watching, I'm sitting at home, I'm thinking, this is so special. And I hope that they can really, really capitalize on the momentum of what is happening.


And by "they," I mean the WNBA.

COATES: Is it similar in this draft? Many of you have probably watched the NBA draft in terms of if you go first overall, you're really not going to stay at that team in the long run.

CHAMPION: No, it's not.

COATES: That's not the same thing here, right? CHAMPION: No, because they only have 13 teams, and that includes the new team that's coming from -- that'll be in San Francisco. And then, obviously, today, they said they wanted to hopefully expand to 16 teams. They don't have the depth. So usually you're going where you're going to go --

WIRE: Yeah.

CHAMPION: -- once you get drafted. You don't get switched out at the last minute. They don't have that many roster spots, and that's something also that they're going to hope to work on, obviously, with these new stars who are going to create a new generation of people and popularity to watch the game.

WIRE: Right. And, you know, Caitlin Clark, for example, she's projected to sign a four-year deal with Indiana Fever, so she will most likely be there for the long term because they're not going to trade her away, right?

And I was talking to one of the team owners tonight, and it was really interesting. Unlike in, say, the NFL or NBA draft where these last- minute deals and teams moving and shaking and trying to steal picks, if you will, and players for their team, they kind of all --


WIRE: -- try to be on the same page and communicate, and this is who we're thinking we're going to take. And everyone kind of knows within that first round there specifically who they're going to pick --


WIRE: -- and so they do their background checks, they study their character, and then -- so that when they draft that player, they want to help support them. Where are they from? Is it Kamilla Cardoso from Brazil? What does she need for us as an organization, from us, to help her thrive when she gets here? And all these other players, it's really well-thought-out, well-planned-out for them to help them succeed.

COATES: Well-thought-out, well-planned?


COATES: I guess women have something to do with this.

WIRE: Yes.


COATES: What could be the connective tissue here, Coy? Let me just ask you, though. You mentioned Kamilla also Angel Reese.

WIRE: That's a good point.

COATES: They're now on the same team. They were playing against each other since high school, right?

CHAMPION: They played against each other since high school, and there was a lot of trash talk back and forth between them in that last game, which I loved to see.

WIRE: The passion.

CHAMPION: The passion, as we call it. But, obviously, as teammates, they're going to get along. They asked Kamilla, did you see? They said, how do you think about her being your teammate? And she was, like, great! And I was just like, wait, is that great?


Because I want the drama. Here's the thing. The reason why college basketball, women's college basketball, was so good, because we had storylines, we had characters, we had good guys, we had bad guys, good gals, bad gals, whatever you want to call it, we had something to invest in. I don't want them to lose that when they get to the WNBA.

Serena said it best the other day. Serena Williams said, for so long, they've needed their moment. And obviously, in tennis, she was -- she was the lightning rod. Serena Williams was. And we need this in this moment. Don't dull it down. Make it competitive. Let them trash talk. It is their rite of passage. Let's get into it as if we're watching it the way we should.

COATES: And let them strut, because that fashion was on display as well today. I mean, Coy --


CHAMPION: Coy shut them down. Coy said, you all think you all doing it? I have it.

WIRE: I was talking to a friend earlier today. I said, like, I felt like I was in a room full of magical unicorns. And they were floating. Their feet weren't even touching the ground. Caitlin Clark there that you're seeing, she's the first time any NBA or WNBA player wore Prada on an orange or red carpet. And yes, they really put some thought into it.

Angel Reese told me, she said, can I tell you something? I had to switch out my outfit last minute because the other one I had planned was too small. So, she went out and threw that masterpiece together.

CHAMPION: Together.

WIRE: Just killing it out there. It was --

CHAMPION: The ladies look good.

WIRE: It was a big moment. It was a great moment for these young women who are really helping to champion women's sports, but also inspire the next generation. CHAMPION: That's right.

COATES: It's so important. I mean, when my kids are watching the tournament, they were watching with the same amount of excitement as they do for the NBA, as they do for any other sports, and I thought it was amazing, especially my daughter and my son, who's a basketball phenom, if I do say so.


CHAMPION: I love it.

WIRE: Recruiting others.

CHAMPION: So says the mom.

COATES: The mom who brings the orange slices to the game. She's 11, guys.

Coy Wire, Cari Champion, so great to have both of you there.

WIRE: Glad to be there.

COATES: Thank you. Oh, this is a buzzkill. It's Tax Day. Who put this in the next thing? Especially for Mark Cuban. Next, the billionaire reveals his nine-figure bill. Well, now I guess I feel better to the tax man taking a swipe at a certain former president in the process.



COATES: Happy Tax Day! Well, no. Sorry. I'm not kidding, though. But today is a happy day. Well, if you're anybody but Mark Cuban. Why, you may ask? Well, take a look at this.

Mark Cuban posting to "X" today that he is set to wire $275,900,000 to the IRS. Cuban saying -- quote -- "After military service, paying your taxes is the most patriotic thing we can do."

So, what could that tax money actually pay for? Well, in New York, it costs around $375,000 per mile of road. So, Cuban's tax bill could pay for 735.7 miles of road. So, how far is that really? Well, that could get you from L.A. to the Arches National Park in Utah.

What else could that money do? Well, experts estimate that it could cost $400 million at the low end to rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Mark Cuban could foot nearly 68% of that bill.

But that's not all. According to ZipRecruiter, the average federal employee makes around $113,000 a year. Cuban could pay the annual salary for nearly 2,442 employees.

Cuban saying in his post about paying taxes -- quote -- "Tag a former president that you know doesn't." Well, the Bidens also posting their tax returns today, paying nearly $146,629 in federal income tax. [00:00:03]

I wonder who Cuban could be talking about then. Hmm. Happy Tax Day. Thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.