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Laura Coates Live

First Seven Jurors Seated In Trump's Historic Criminal Trial; Laura Answers Calls And Questions; An 81-Year-Old Kills Uber Driver After Both Caught Up In Scam; SCOTUS Questions Obstruction Charges Facing Trump And Rioters; Laura Coates Interviews Actor Cary Elwes. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired April 16, 2024 - 23:00   ET



ELAINE WELTEROTH, AUTHOR: Stories and we need to help educate men on their role as advocates for their partners who are going through one of the biggest transitional moments and most vulnerable times in our lives.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: And, of course, Elaine, it's not just us. You've got so many other partners who are stepping in to help these families in all kinds of different ways.


PHILLIP: We can't list them all now --


-- but just to show people there's a lot that's going on behind the scenes --


PHILLIP: -- and every single person has a role in doing something about it. Elaine Welteroth, thank you so much for being here. It has been just such an honor and a privilege to work with this -- on this with you. Thank you.

WELTEROTH: Thank you for your support.

PHILLIP: And you can watch my full report on Black maternal health for "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper." That episode is available now, streaming on Max.

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

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: All right, it's day two, and we've got seven jurors and one defendant, who has already gotten a reprimand from the judge. I'll take you inside Donald Trump's criminal trial.

Plus, our phone line is open. I'll be answering your calls and your questions about the trial in just a moment. But wait, the next part might be inconceivable. Cary Elwes from "The Princess Bride" is here in studio with me tonight on "Laura Coates Live.


All right, forget the number 270 for a second during this election year. It's all going to come down, at least for Donald Trump right now, to 12 people, 12 New Yorkers who will decide the fate of the former president of the United States in a historic criminal case brought against him.

Now, they already got seven jurors chosen today. That means five more to go to get to that number 12. But they just can't stop there. They've got to get to seat six alternate jurors for a total of 18. And don't think for a moment that Donald Trump is not keenly aware that each of these people hold his, at least, fate for now in their hands.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Do you believe that the jurors seated today can be fair?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll let you know after -- after the trial depending on what happens.


COATES: Well, today, in that courtroom, Trump, well, he was in a little bit of trouble again with the judge. Why? Well, this time, over a potential juror whose Facebook posts included video of celebrations in New York after Joe Biden's 2020 win, which the juror told the court reminded her of a celebratory moment like the COVID era cheer for health care workers.

The juror saying -- quote -- "I very, very strongly believe that regardless of my thoughts about anyone or anything political. feelings or convictions, that the job of a juror is to understand the facts of a trial and be the judge of those facts." Well, Trump's team said, hmm, and tried to dismiss her.

Prosecutors argued against the dismissal and the judge frankly agree with the prosecutors. But then there was a moment of fireworks. After that juror apparently left the courtroom, Judge Merchan reprimanded Trump for his behavior, apparently speaking and gesturing in some way in the direction of the juror, telling Trump's attorney, "Your client was audibly uttering. I will not have any jurors intimidated in the courtroom."

Now, Trump's team got a win when the judge agreed to dismiss another potential juror whose Facebook post celebrated Trump losing a court battle over his travel ban and said, referring to Trump -- quote -- "get him out and lock him up."

Hmm, lock him up. Now, that sounds familiar, doesn't it?


TRUMP: Yeah, I agree with you. I used to just be quiet. And I agree with you 100%.


COATES: Of all people, Donald Trump is seeking jurors. I mean, he has never really had himself a clean social media history. Just this morning, he posted about the judge in his trial, calling him conflicted, Trump-hating. He wants to take a swipe and swing at New York's justice system and to throw around accusations of election interference and, of course -- all caps -- rigged unconstitutional trial.

He has posted about witnesses in this trial like his former fixer, Michael Cohen. Stormy Daniels, the adult film star and director, says that she had an affair with Trump. He denies that completely. He also called them, and I'm quoting here, "two sleaze bags."

He called Cohen and a former prosecutor in the D.A.'s office thugs. And prosecutors have asked the judge to hold Trump in contempt for violating the gag order, prohibiting him from talking about witnesses.

By the way, it's all that and it is only day two, you realize.

I want to bring in Devlin Barrett. He's a law enforcement reporter at "The Washington Post." He's also the co-author of the "Trump Trials" newsletter and was in the courtroom today. Also, here, Brian Jacobs, former federal prosecutor. And rounding out my all-star panel, James Schultz, senior legal commentator and former Trump White House lawyer.


I'm glad to have you all here. First, let me get to you here, Brian, because, look, we are just now getting these courtroom transcripts from today. And there is a lot of color in it, I should say, in thinking about this. There were a lot of moments, in fact, where the judge was very clear about his expectations, defense counsel, and prosecution. Sort of battling it out to figure out who could be deemed impartial and who was not. What stuck out to you?

DEVLIN BARRETT, LAW ENFORCEMENT REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: So, a couple things stuck out to me. One, a lot of the jurors really do seem to understand the importance and the gravity of what they're doing. One juror said she couldn't sleep the night before just thinking about not her views of Trump and not her views of the facts, but just the significance of what this trial is going to be for the country. So that stands out. A lot of these jurors are clearly already wrestling with what their roles might be in this process.

And the other thing that stuck out is just, you know, everyone knows who Trump is. There's no -- you know, even the folks who said positive things about him said it in sort of a lighthearted but a little worrisome way. They said, you know, he says what he thinks. My mother taught me to say nice things, and so I don't do that.

I think this jury is -- this jury, as it's coming together, is really wrestling with, how do you judge a president? How do you judge someone that, in theory, we all think we know but is going to be, you know, the center of this case?

COATES: You know, I keep looking back in our time at trials. All of us have tried cases, of course, and thought about these matters. It's a lot of intuition, a lot of human psychology and study of body language otherwise, and really trying to identify a con artist who wants to maybe be on the jury for whatever reasons, and others who are giving you what you want to hear, and in reality, might be a self-juror either way.

BRIAN JACOBS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, you were listening to all that was unfolding today. I wonder what was your impression.

I was impressed by how fast it all went --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

-- how little information came out for the lawyers to go on, and how nothing all that surprising or unusual really happened. There were no particular fireworks. There were a handful of instances where the Trump team asked for a juror to be struck for a cause. The judge didn't do it. That could be an appeal issue, and they had to strike the juror with a peremptory. But other than that, it was a relatively routine day of jury selection that resulted in seven jurors being sat, which is pretty fast.

COATES: Was that fast to you as well? I mean, people have been making a big stink, including Trump, by the way, to suggest that he couldn't possibly get an impartial jury in Manhattan. I point, of course, that there was at least one juror today who was excused not because he was so anti-Trump, but because he said that he seemed to be partial towards him and didn't think he could truly be unbiased and that would have actually benefited him.

So, there's at least one. You got that going for you, as they say. Are you surprised that seven were able to be found?

JAMES SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: No, I wasn't surprised at all. This is about fundamental fairness. This is about folks wanting to participate in this process. It's about people coming forward. And look, yes, some people want to be part of the process and will be eager and sometimes overly eager to be part of the process, and that's for the lawyers and the judge to kind of sort out.

But I think at the end of the day, you know, the seven that were seated were pretty expected biographies at the end of the day of folks, of New Yorkers, that you thought would be seated on the jury.

COATES: Let's go through what we know about some of these jurors here, everyone. So, you had four women. You've got three -- four men, three women, an oncology nurse, an IT professional, some married, some single, lots of "New York Times" reader. Who was the most interesting jury for you all?

JACOBS: So, I thought it was interesting to see that there's only one juror who is a little bit older, has kids, has a job. The -- most of the other jurors, they're younger, they don't have kids, they're starting out in their professional lives.

COATES: Why does that matter to you?

JACOBS: Well, a lot of times the prototypical prosecutor juror is somebody middle-aged, lives in the suburbs, although not in this case, and has a job. In this case, younger jurors tend to skew, that tends to be who the defense looks for. And so, in some ways, this group could be seen as a Trump victory.

COATES: Now, why would that be, a younger person in favor of the defense? I mean, in part, by the way, the younger they are, the more likely is they didn't even recall Access Hollywood tape eight years ago, Trump's earlier career.

SCHULTZ: I think it depends, right? You have to look at the history. Some college-educated, some have some college education. I think the age part of it, I don't think -- the one that really interests me the most is the first juror, the one from Ireland, who came to the United States, was born in Ireland. We don't know whether he's an immigrant or not, probably has family that is Irish, comes to this country, you know, has some education, in sales, somewhat of a blue-collar background, if you will, watches Fox News, watches MSNBC for the news.

That's your swing vote, if you will, if you're looking at this jury pool. I think you're looking at that person and saying, okay, is this person, you know, a Donald Trump person? Is this person not a Donald Trump person?


Is it conservative? Is it just somebody who -- you know, where do they fit, you know, in that -- in kind of -- if you look at it from a jury and an electorate perspective, that's your swing voter.

COATES: That's true. The idea of how revealing it can be, what you're watching and how you get some information, that was, obviously, very telling for the Trump and the prosecution team.

But let's just talk about this moment in the courtroom when the judge, I think, waits for a juror to leave after being questioned about this celebratory video of sorts, and Trump is audibly uttering. I mean, that sounds like consciously uncoupling. Translate that to English. What was he doing to be audibly uttering?

BARRETT: So, one of the things Trump -- one of, I think, Trump's challenges in court, having watched him in the E. Jean Carroll case as well in federal court, is that he seems to have two main settings in court. And one setting is angry, and the other setting is bored. And neither of those settings are great for a jury.

And I think what you saw at that moment was a little bit of the anger coming out because he clearly believes his lawyer's argument that this person has no business being, you know, judging him.

But I think the difficulty for his legal team is Trump presents often in court as either one of those two things, and those are not particularly sympathetic things for the jury to look at. I think that is going to be a continuing difficulty or challenge for his legal team to try to -- he's in physical space with them. He can't be just those two things all the time and have a chance of winning this case.

COATES: I mean, he's under a microscope. We know that.

SCHULTZ: Right. I agree with that. I think some of the -- some of the campaign, Donald Trump needs to come out in the courtroom if he's going to be successful here. Let's remember, you know, look at him like he looks at voters, right? He's trying to attract votes from a jury at the end of the day.

And in this particular instance, the bristling, if you will, you know, and pointing or whatever it is he's doing and making the utterances he's making is not helping himself, right? He needs to be the person that he is on the campaign trail because that's where kind of his success has lied over the years. So, I think he needs to do the same thing in the courtroom.

COATES: I mean, can his lawyers, you think, possibly convince him to do that, even if it's in his best interest?

JACOBS: Well, absolutely. He does seem to have a good rapport with his lawyers from all the reports. I mean, of course, he is entitled to participate in his defense. He's entitled to talk to his lawyers. And it's difficult to tell from the reports, you know, just how aggressive he was. Clearly, the judge was concerned and the judge has to step in when that happens. But he does need to talk with his lawyers.

COATES: It is so counterintuitive to people, though, because when you think about how would you react if you thought that you were innocent of a crime, would you sit there and be poised and composed or would you try with your body language? How odd this was, how incredulous you felt, how irritated. It's this balancing act, right? You have to play if you're the defendant. And certainly, he knows how to be a performance artist, whether the judge likes or not.

Devlin, Brian, and James, stick around, please. There are still a lot of questions about the trial. We're going to answer some of them right now, live. We've got your questions. And, of course, if you want to participate, just go to, fill out the form, type in your question there, and then we'll reach out to you and have you call in as the trial unfolds.

Let's get to our first caller tonight. We've got Robert from Ohio. Robert, what's your question?

ROBERT, CALLER FROM OHIO (via telephone): Hi, Laura, I love your show.

COATES: Thank you.

ROBERT (via telephone): So, my question is, in terms of the upcoming trial regarding the former president, why is the jury selection and whether they can be impartial being questioned so much? There have been many very high-profile trials where everyone has been told they will be judged by a selection of their peers. Is this special treatment or does every American get this level of scrutiny for potential jurors for a fair trial?

COATES: That's a great question, Robert, and thank you so much for calling in. You know, there's a lot of attention on this case because of the high-profile nature of the actual defendant to really test to see whether or not it's an honor system, so to speak, or one that you can actually have a jury of one's peers.

I think this is going to be a real challenge for people, without having cameras in the courtroom, to understand what the nature of the voir dire process is like. It's not the first time someone is questioned whether a jury is telling the truth when they are talking about their views or absence of bias, but it will be a real test of our justice system to figure out if people have continued trust in that prospect. Let's hear from you all out there as well in a second.

Brian from Evanston, Illinois, what's your question?

BRIAN, CALLER FROM ILLINOIS (via telephone): Hi, Laura and fellows on the panel. Thanks for taking my question. I'm curious, if the prosecution deems it necessary, can they put Trump on the stand for examination? If not, why not?

COATES: That's a great question. Brian, what's your thought?

JACOBS: No. Defendants have a Fifth Amendment right under the Constitution not to be a witness against themselves. That's true of President Trump, just as it's true of any other defendant. And so, he can't be called to testify against himself. Of course, he can if he wants to in the defense case.


COATES: And they had this Sandoval hearing as well, which is kind of unique to New York, where before the trial, you get a sense of what is the scope of the cross examination, like, what am I walking into if I'm a defendant here to figure out do I want to do this, do I not? But you have until really the defense's case put on to figure out if you want to do it.

Anita from New Jersey, what's your question?

ANITA, CALLER FROM NEW JERSEY (via telephone): Hi, Laura. Thank you for taking my call and it is a pleasure to speak with you.

COATES: Thank you.

ANITA (via telephone): My question is, will background checks be done on the 12 plus the six alternate chosen jurors?

COATES: You know, well, so far, we've certainly seen that they know how to find their social media posts. It has been a part of all the conversations today, whether it's Facebook or otherwise. And certainly, defense has every invested interest in figuring out who might be on this panel. What do you think, James?

SCHULTZ: The court administration and the court administrators make those determinations. There's not a background check process for that. They have a process by which they select jurors from the particular jurisdiction, and it has nothing to do with a background check, if you will. It has to do with qualifications to be -- to be a juror.

COATES: And, of course, the qualifications, people to know out there what they really are, you've got to, I think, be 18 years of age. You cannot have been convicted of a felony in New York. And, of course, this is a Class E felony case for Donald Trump, 34 counts with a maximum penalty for each of four years, accumulating, if he were convicted of all of them, in a 20-year sentence, if not, obviously, probation or some other combination of things.

Let's go to Heather from Sevierville, Tennessee. Heather, what's your question?

HEATHER, CALLER FROM SEVIERVILLE, TENNESSEE (via telephone): Hi, Laura. I love you so much.

COATES: Thank you. I love you, too.

HEATHER (via telephone): Thank you. Would Trump's lawyers ever take the risk in allowing an unfair, like, "sleeper" juror to get selected on purpose so they can make attempt at a mistrial later on, to delay the trial past the election?

COATES: Gosh, you know, I've heard a lot about this, this idea of a sleeper juror, the stealth juror, other synonyms, describe somebody who's trying to say what they need to say to get on to the jury panel with the hope of maybe being the one to swing the jury in one direction or another or maybe even hang the case.

The thing about it is you've got to have 12 jurors and then six additional alternate jurors who are there in case there's any violation of a court order. The judge will instruct about what they can and cannot do during the duration of the actual trial. So, if there is one so-called sleeper juror, they've got to contemplate maybe five additional ones or a total of 17 others to figure out who that would be. That's quite a game of Russian roulette, as you would say, on this issue.

But there's every possibility there is someone on the jury panel who is seated right now or might be who has a different interest. The job of the prosecution and the defense counsel, the judge, really, is to figure out whether there are genuinely answered questions about impartiality on that very point.

Let me turn to you, though, on this because that's one of the concerns inside the courtroom, is it not, that someone there is just trying to -- people, please, smile their way, and then have some of their hands behind their back?

BARRETT: Right. There was an amazing moment, I think, in the prosecution presentation today when the prosecution basically laid out a set of things that were posed as questions about how they could be impartial. But really what he was suggesting was a set of answers for the jurors to offer about their impartiality. The prosecutor said, you know, this isn't about politics. We don't care what you think about, you know, him as a politician. We care what you think of the facts and the evidence.

And yes, he was presenting that to them and arguing that that was important and asking them if they could do that, but he was also laying out a roadmap for how they could answer those questions in a way that would not get them bounced from the jury. And I thought that was a fascinating back and forth through the day.

COATES: Really important. Heather, I have a question for you, by the way, while you're on the line still. You actually voted for Trump, I understand, in 2016. You changed your mind after Charlottesville. Do you think that one's political opinion of Trump might have an impact whether they could be a fair juror?

HEATHER (via telephone): I would hope not. One of the reasons that I pray he doesn't get back into office is he obviously doesn't respect our institution. And as much as I don't like him, I would hold myself to a very high standard of remaining impartial because nobody deserves to be found guilty when they're innocent, not even Trump.

COATES: Hmm, this is the rub for everyone in that courtroom today. Thank you so much. Brian and James also, and Devlin. Thank you, everyone, for helping to answer those questions. And thanks to everyone who called in. Hey, do you have a question you want answered on an upcoming trial date? Well, we'd love to hear from you. Submit your questions at

Ahead, a horrible trick that has turned deadly. An 81-year-old man now facing murder charges after shooting an Uber driver he mistakenly believed was a scammer. This tragic encounter recorded on dash cam will explain it all next.



COATES: This next video will stop you in your tracks. And I'm going to warn you, it is difficult to both watch and to hear. Sheriff deputies in Western Ohio believe it shows two people ensnared by a scammer who orchestrated a deadly meetup via their phones last month. Dash cam video shows 81-year-old William Brock pointing a gun at 61-year-old Loletha Hall as she tries to escape.

Investigators say Brock had been on the phone with the scammer who tried to extort him and threatened his family when Hall pulled up. Brock thought Hall was in on the scam. But police say that she had no idea about it. They say she was scammed into going there to pick up a package. In the dash cam video, you can hear Hall plead for her life before Brock shot her.


LOLETHA HALL, UBER DRIVER: Stop, stop, or I will call 9-1-1. Stop, stop, stop.


HALL: Stop. Help!


Help! Help!

WILLIAM BROCK, SHOOTER: I will shoot the other leg.

HALL: Help! Help!

BROCK: Come on, get out.

HALL: Help! Help! Sir --


HALL: I am here to pick up a package.

BROCK: Yes. Yeah, I know what you are after. You are after that.

HALL: Help! Help! Help!


COATES: Hall did not survive. Brock has been charged with murder and pleaded not guilty.

CNN correspondent Danny Freeman and CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson join us now. Danny, this is such a tragedy. People are hearing about this maybe for the first time. Walk us through what happened before the shooting and this scam.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Laura, such a tragedy and really a story that hits so many people for so many different reasons. But make no mistake, law enforcement at this point believed that both of these two people, these two strangers, were part of this larger scam.

Now, investigators say, like you said, William Brock, he was actually receiving calls from a scammer who told him that his nephew was in jail and Brock needed to take out $12,000 in cash in order to bail his nephew out. Now, none of that was true. But according to investigators, Brock, actually, while he was talking to this scammer, he actually was hesitant, he was resistant at times, and it was then where Brock says the scammer starts to threaten his life and also threaten his nephew's life.

Now, meanwhile, at the same time, police say the same scammer or an accomplice of that scammer contacted Loletha Hall, like you said, through Uber, and said, go over to Brock's house and pick up a package. Well, that's when the shooting started. Brock told police that he thought Loletha was coming there to harm him and to take that money.

But Laura, I mean, take a listen to the 9-1-1 call that Brock placed right after he ultimately shot and killed Loletha.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Why did you do that?

BROCK (voice-over): Because I was threatened that she was going come and kill me.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): She threatened to kill you?

BROCK (voice-over): No, it was the guy on the phone that has been trying to get money out of me.


FREEMAN: Now, it's really important to note, Laura, you see it on the video, investigators said that Miss Hall made no threats, no assaults, no demands, no anything other than just ask for the package that she was told to pick up by Uber. Police said there was no threat ever posed by Miss Hall, and that's part of the reason why Mr. Brock was charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty.

But the one other thing I'll add, Laura, is that Uber, they actually provided a statement to us about this, saying, "This is a horrific tragedy and our hearts continue to be with Loletha's loved ones as they grieve." They're cooperating with investigators in this case, Laura.

COATES: This is truly unbelievable, Joey. I mean, Ohio, for those wondering, Ohio has what's called a stand-your-ground law. But the state's concealed carry manual says -- quote -- "If the defendant escalated a confrontation by throwing the first punch, attacking, or drawing a handgun, the defendant is the aggressor."

So, given that this person may have been scammed, but ultimately did shoot this person, this woman who was just trying to come and pick up a package, does Brock have a viable stand-your-ground defense at all?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. Laura, good to be with you and Danny. Here's the reality. Stand-your-ground means you have no duty to retreat. What was he retreating from? This is person who apparently was acting, you know, certainly out of concern based upon the threat, but I think it was too much of a concern.

We don't have vigilantes in this country, at least we shouldn't. We have professional police officers. If you think you're getting scammed, you call the police, you take those steps. If you look at the body cam, Laura, I don't see the threat that was posed. As Danny noted, there was no threat, much less an immediate threat, which is what you need for self-defense.

And so, stand-your-ground in the event that he was in an imminent fear of a threat or attack would be viable. He would not have to retreat. But there's no stand-your-ground when, in fact, you're the first aggressor. And so, I don't think that's going to apply. I think the charges are appropriate. I think the scammers, if found, will be brought to justice as well under a felony murder rule, as you know, the commission of another felony, the scamming, or under some other involuntary manslaughter rule. Tragedy by all accounts. The shooting did not have to occur. There were other alternatives. They were not used.

COATES: I mean, it's an unbelievable story, thinking about the victimization of not only this woman who's 61 years old, who is simply trying to pick up a package, and the scammers as well involved in all this.

Danny Freeman, Joey Jackson, we will keep following what has happened in this tragic loss of life. Thank you.

JACKSON: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: Up next, a critical case right now before the Supreme Court that, frankly, it could upend charges that Donald Trump and hundreds, hundreds of January 6th rioters are now facing. I'll explain when we come back.



COATES: Well, a crucial Supreme Court hearing could impact the convictions of at least 350 people charged with obstructing an official proceeding at the Capitol on January 6th, including one Donald Trump.

The case was brought before the high court by the former Pennsylvania police officer, a man by the name of Joseph Fisher, seen here inside the Capitol, speaking to an officer on January 6th.

Now, his attorney claims that prosecutors overreached by charging him with obstruction. Now, it's important to note that Fisher also faces six other charges coming from that very day.

But the justices, they debated at length how literally to read the law that was written 20 years ago after the Enron scandal. Now, the law criminalized the destruction of documents that would impede an investigation, but also says it's the important part or otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding or attempts to do so.


So, the big question for the court is, should the law, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, be applied to January 6 defendants who didn't necessarily destroy documents but were convicted of obstructing the certification of the election? Here's Justice Sotomayor questioning the defense on that point.


SONIA SOTOMAYOR, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): Let me give you an example. There is a sign on the theater, you will be kicked out of the theater if you photograph or record the actors or otherwise disrupt the performance.

If you start yelling, I think no one would question that you can be expected to be kicked out under this policy even though yelling has nothing to do with photograph or recording.


COATES: Back with me now, Devlin Barrett, Brian Jacobs, and James Schultz. Devlin, begin with you here. The justices, surprise, surprise, perhaps, appear to be split along ideological lines here. Which way is it going to go from your reading of oral arguments?

BARRETT: Well, I think based on oral arguments and the fact that the conservatives have a six to three advantage on the court, I think the conservatives have a lot of questions and doubts and skepticism about this law. They have shown over a bunch of years skepticism about the application of this kind of law.

The conservative justices don't like what they view as a sort of ever- expanding use of the obstruction statutes. They view this as a possible misuse and overuse. Obviously, that has tremendous implications, potentially, for the January 6 cases. If they go broadly, if they rule very broadly and tough on this law, it could even have implications for the Trump case.

COATES: I mean, Brian, there's the title of a statute, right, and then there's the ways you could apply it. Why wouldn't it fall into the or otherwise impede beyond you're talking about non-destruction of documents? Why not read it more broadly?

JACOBS: Well, the one subsection of the statute says that you can't obstruct an official proceeding by tampering with evidence. And then the other section says you can't do it otherwise. And the idea is that tampering with evidence has to modify the otherwise clause, too, so that even under that clause, the only thing that's unlawful is doing something that relates to evidence tampering. That's the reading that many justices today seem to be getting at with their questions.

COATES: So not looking at it in a vacuum and following what the actual intent of the law may be. I wonder, listen to what Justice Gorsuch had to say, James, today, because he appeared to argue that this could apply beyond January 6 in detrimental ways. Listen to this.


NEIL GORSUCH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): Would a sit-in that disrupts a trial or access to a federal courthouse qualify? Would a heckler in today's audience qualify or at the State of the Union address? Would pulling a fire alarm before a vote qualify for 20 years in federal prison?


COATES: Now, when you have a string of hypotheticals, obviously, these all become rhetorical questions for a justice. Do you agree that these would be things that should not happen under the obstruction or could not be prosecuted?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think the solicitor general actually said that -- the Office of Solicitor General actually said that, no, this would not fall under that category and made the argument that there has to be something more. In this case, they made the example of people arming themselves and going in and trying to obstruct.

And I think Justice Kavanaugh came back and said, okay, well, in that instance, you know, isn't charging with assault, isn't charging with civil disorder, isn't that enough? And I think that signals where the conservative justices are going here. They think this is a far overreach, almost like an overcharge, almost, of this case, and that's what Justice Kavanaugh was getting at, but certainly an overreach as it relates to kind of the interpretation of what the more liberal justices are calling a catch-all phrase.

COATES: Well, you know, Brian, interestingly enough, this one person who is before the court has, I think, six other charges against him. This has been one of them. But Jack Smith is also basing an indictment against Donald Trump that includes two charges out of a total, I think, of four. That would be very significant if the justices say that this is an overreach in the application.

JACOBS: It would be, except that both Justice Jackson and Justice Barrett suggested their questionings. A reading of the statute, even a narrow reading, that says that the otherwise clause includes only evidence tampering, could still apply to the January 6th cases because those cases, of course, relate to the electoral count, which involves documents, and the effort going into the Capitol and interfering with those documents could fall even within a narrow reading of that clause.

COATES: So, you think it could impact a possible dismissal of those charges against Trump if they were to find that an overreach for Fisher? It wouldn't necessarily apply to everyone, you suggest?

JACOBS: I think the charges against Trump would have to be modified in some way to accommodate whatever the Supreme Court says, but it is possible.


And Jack Smith has essentially said this in papers, that there's a way to modify the charges to fit what the Supreme Court might do here.

COATES: Modify and then what? Happens to a trial date if it's ever set?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think then that kicks it down the road even farther. You're going to have more appeals. But I also think he was looking -- Jack Smith, specifically referenced the fake electors' scheme as it relates to this particular statute and its applicability there.

COATES: You know, politically, you look at this, Trump has already called the January 6 defendants hostages. He has, you know, talked about them being as heroic actors in some respects, where I'm obviously paraphrasing here. If the Supreme Court finds that there was an overreach by the prosecutorial decisions, that is ample ammunition to validate his statements in his mind.

BARRETT: Right. And look, if the Supreme Court agrees in a sense that the Justice Department has overcharged and over-prosecuted January 6th, that is unquestionably giving some ammunition to President Trump and to a bunch of Republicans who have made similar arguments about how this case has been handled.

It is -- to your earlier point, though, it is really important to remember, it's not as if even if this charge goes away, all of these people just walk out of jail. Like, this is one part of a bunch of charges that a bunch of people face.

COATES: It's true, to think about what the impact would be. And also, just looking ahead, I mean, we are, what, 200 days away from another presidential election, which means we are a little more than that away from another inauguration or certification of electoral account votes. So, what happens if people feel somehow emboldened to think, well, you can't charge me under this statute? Are there others to follow? Is it a deterrent? A lot of food for thought on all these things.

Hey, Devlin Barrett, Brian Jacobs, James Schultz, thank you for holding down the fort with me today and talking through all these issues. There's a lot more ahead. We're all, at this point, out there. You're all armchair lawyers as well.

Hey, ahead, remember this famous movie scene?


UNKNOWN: Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide, and we both drink, and we find out who is right and who is dead.


COATES: Well, hey, what's Cary Elwes up to now? Well, he's got a lot of new projects going on. And he's here to talk about them and test his wits in our rapid- fire quiz and it's coming up next.





UNKNOWN: Tell me truly, when you found out he was gone, did you get engaged to your prince that same hour or did you wait a whole week out of respect for the dead?

UNKNOWN: You mocked me once. Never do it again. I died that day. You can die, too, for all I care!

UNKNOWN: As you wish.


COATES: Well, you know him as Westley A.K.A. the Dread Pirate Roberts in the classic tale "The Princess Bride." But that's hardly all that Cary Elwes has done. He has starred in more iconic movies than we can fit on this screen. And he's got a new slate of projects coming soon to a screen near you like the new Paramount Plus TV series "Knuckles."


UNKNOWN: You think you can take my power?

UNKNOWN: Do I look like I need your power?

UNKNOWN: What are you talking about? Of course, we need his power. It's the whole reason we're here.


COATES: And, of course, Guy Ritchie's new action-packed flick out this week in theaters, "The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare."


UNKNOWN: Gus March-Phillips, I have a mission. I want you to lead.

UNKNOWN: Thank you, sergeant. What's the plan?

UNKNOWN: To neutralize the German U-boats in the North Atlantic.


COATES: I want to give a very warm welcome to actor Cary Elwes. I am so excited you're here. I'm so happy to see you again. It has been too long.

CARY ELWES, ACTOR: Yeah, five years.

COATES: I know.

ELWES: Crazy.

COATES: Now, everyone wants to know how we know each other. Let's not tell them.


COATES: We'll tell them.

ELWES: I am a huge, crazy Laura Coates fan for those who want to know.

COATES: Oh, tell them that. That's good. That's a good one.


ELWES: Yes. I'm not the only one. Believe me. They're a legion.

COATES: Oh, my goodness. Well, I would blush, but I already have on blush.


So, it's a whole -- it's a whole process to try to undo that. But you know I'm a huge fan of your work. And I'm so excited. You're always on the screen. I love when you have a new project out. Today is no exception. Of course, you've got this new thing, "Knuckles."

ELWES: Yeah.

COATES: You're officially part of the Sonic universe.


COATES: So, tell us about this eccentric character you're playing.

ELWES: I play a crazy, egotistical championship bowler from Reno, Nevada.

COATES: Is there any other kind?


ELWES: Yes. Yes, that's a good question. Yeah, he's a guy. He's called Pistol Pete. And he has the most absurd mustache and goatee. And yeah, he loves fandom. He has no connection with anyone other than his fans and himself because he loves himself.

COATES: There's also "The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare." Tell me about this because it's very personal for you. You're a fan of history --


COATES: -- as well, some might not know. You and I get along greatly because we talk so much about the world around us --

ELWES: Yeah.

COATES: -- and why history is often repeated if we don't study it --


COATES: -- in so many ways. But this movie has a special connection for you and your family.

ELWES: Yeah. So, um, my grandfather on my mother's side of the family was in Special Operations Executive. And so, when I was shooting "Operation Fortune" in Turkey with Guy Ritchie, I asked him what his next project is, and he said, oh, you wouldn't know anything about it. So, it's about this little-known organization called Special Operations Executive.


I go, my grandfather was in "Special Operations Executive."

COATES: Really?

ELWES: So, you have to put me in this movie. So, that's how it went down, yeah.

COATES: That's amazing. And so, when you were taking on this role, that must have been a little bit surreal to know that fiction and reality were merging.

ELWES: Yeah. Well, you know, he was my real-life hero, Laura, growing up, you know. He was dropped into Albania in 1943 behind enemy lines to blow up bridges and railways and create a fifth column. So, he was really much like the characters in this movie. And yeah, he was amazing. Real hero.

COATES: Let's talk about "Princess Bride," though, because it is one of my all-time favorite movies. And I tell you -- I mean, I quote it all the time. My kids, I make them watch everything from my childhood, so they know that Mommy is funny, and they can often repeat everything now --


-- including things like "Inconceivable" and "As You Wish" translate to love in our household.

ELWES: Yes, yes.

COATES: But it's interesting because every great thing that people do in Hollywood, someone says, oh, let's remake it --

ELWES: Yeah.

COATES: -- and change it completely and have a new cast.

ELWES: Yeah.

COATES: You've been against that.

ELWES: Well, you know -- yeah, I don't think -- my theory is if it ain't broke, why fix it, Laura? You know, there was a studio head at one point who had the rights to the movie and he tweeted, yeah, I have the rights to "Princess Bride" and I'm going to cast these big A-list actors. And I tweeted back at him, there's a shortage of perfect movies in the world. It'd be a pity to damage this one. That kind of put a stop to it right there, yeah.

COATES: That's the perfect response.

ELWES: Thank you. COATES: I love that life. Again, I love that movie so much, I got to tell you. But it hasn't stopped, maybe not your film, but others wanting to have sequels or remakes and beyond.

ELWES: Yeah.

COATES: And I just wonder, in a world where we are so often craving creativity --

ELWES: Yeah.

COATES: -- why do you think there is the reinventing of the wheel?

ELWES: Because studios don't want to spend money on P&A, publicity and advertising. They just don't want to spend that kind of money. It costs so much. So, they'd rather remake something or do a TV show and reboot it as a movie because it has a built-in audience. they don't have to spend so much on publicity.

COATES: I think that's not a good enough reason to do it.


COATES: But in the world of AI, the other part of it, how do you see that playing into the idea of maybe stifling creativity or does it enhance it?

ELWES: Absolutely. Well, I saw your interview with Neo the other day. He had a very good point, which is that's going to take money out of his pocket, right? And I think it's a terrible thing. It's going to be terrible for writers, I think.

COATES: I thought you might indulge me as you often do.

ELWES: Always, Laura. For you, anything.

COATES: This is a bit of a rapid-fire quiz because you know what? It's fun. It's night time. I'm excited about it. So, your game, right?

ELWES: Of course.

COATES: All right. All right, it's a multiple choice.

ELWES: Okay.

COATES: So, it's pretty easy to think about as opposed to maybe just the simple thing being yes or no. Oh, I have a prompt.

ELWES: Oh, my God.

COATES: Oh, my God. Where did these come from? Oh, they're right here. How did that work out? Well, good. It's A and B.

ELWES: I love it.

COATES: And A -- ELWES: Yes.

COATES: -- A is for as you wish.

ELWES: Oh my gosh, Laura.

COATES: B is for inconceivable.

ELWES: Okay.

COATES: You hate me, don't you? It's fine. Okay --

ELWES: No, I don't. I can never hate. We banished that word from our household.

COATES: Oh, well, thank you. There you go. Well, all right, number one question.


COATES: Remember, A is as you wish.


COATES: B is inconceivable.


COATES: Do you sing in the shower?

ELWES: Uh, inconceivable.

COATES: Inconceivable. He had the list, too? God, I love him. Oh. Okay, have you ever stolen from your daughter's Halloween candy stash?

ELWES: Uh, inconceivable. She wouldn't let me.

COATES: Oh, my God. You're lying.


COATES: How can you lie to me?

ELWES: No, no, no, I can't. No. Honestly, those days are over. I used to be really into candy. It's all gone now.


That's it. No, I have a strict diet, yeah.

COATES: Do you Google yourself, which is an entire faux pas?

ELWES: I do, yeah.

COATES: You do, as you wish.

ELWES: Sure, just to make sure that everything's, you know, kosher.

COATES: And you're not mostly dead.


ELWES: And I'm not mostly dead.


COATES: All right, how about this? Is there life on other planets, as my Uber driver told me today?

ELWES: Well, I have to say, as you wish. Carl Sagan said it's literally inconceivable, given the amounts of stars and planets in the cosmos, that there isn't some sort of intelligent life, you know. So, I have to go with as you wish on that one, yeah.

COATES: Did you happen to notice, audience, that his tendril went over his eye at the exact moment in time? I mean, just Hollywood can't script Cary Elwes. Okay, how about this one? Is there one movie you could watch every day?

ELWES: Yes, absolutely, as you wish.

COATES: And, of course, what is it?

ELWES: Well, my favorite film of all time, believe it or not, is "Apocalypse Now." I got to work with Coppola, so it was a dream for me. And I just think he's one of the great filmmakers of all time, really. Besides Guy Ritchie, of course.

COATES: If you could, would you want to live forever?

ELWES: No, inconceivable.


I think we have a limited time. I don't want to live forever. I'd like to spend as much time as I can with my family, but I don't know that I want to just be living past my due date or -- I think we all have our due date. When it's time, it's time, you know.

COATES: Last question. Do you think that if there were a "Princess Bride" remake, you would cast me in it?

ELWES: As you wish.

COATES: Okay, there we go.


And we know there won't be a remake, so I know that was a lovely way to respond to that at that point in time, but thank you for that. Listen, always such a pleasure to talk to you.

ELWES: Always a joy. COATES: I can't wait to watch the series, to watch the films. Everyone is always a big fan, and I see why.

ELWES: Thank you.

COATES: Thanks for stopping by.

ELWES: Always a joy. Thank you, Laura.

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