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Laura Coates Live

Four Officers Were Killed In Deadly Standoff In North Carolina; Pro-Palestinian Protests Grow On Campuses From Coast To Coast; Murder Trial Divides Small Suburb Of Boston; Laura Coates Interviews Professor Allan Lichtman; Trump Praises DeSantis. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired April 29, 2024 - 23:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Kennedy is proving there are new reasons why it won't. He just announced tonight that his name will appear on the ballot in the state of California.

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

UNKNOWN (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: We begin with breaking news in what is now one of the deadliest days for law enforcement in America. CNN has learned that a fourth officer has died after a shooting and standoff in Charlotte, North Carolina.

We're told the U.S. Marshals Task Force was trying to serve a warrant for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. But local police chief says that as officers approached the suspect's home, someone began shooting with a high-powered rifle. Officers killed a suspect. But as the police approached, they faced more gunfire. Four other officers were injured.

And we just got a photo of one of the officers killed, Charlotte Officer Joshua Eyer. Police say the six-year veteran died with his wife and his family by his side.


MAYOR VI LYLES, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: Every one of us wants to be in a situation where they got -- you get up this morning and you -get to come back home. And someone didn't today. Keep your prayers. Keep your faith. Make sure that these officers who have families have people to reach out and held them up because they will need this.


COATES: Officers took a woman and 17-year-old into custody. This is one of the deadliest days for police in 2016 when five officers were shot and killed in Dallas.

Joining us now is Sylvester Jones, former assistant director of the U.S. Marshals Service and author of the book "Hunting Criminals to Hiding Them." He joins us now. Sylvester, thank you so much for joining us on what is a very difficult night. I can't imagine what those families are enduring this very evening. I mean, the local police chief called it the most tragic shooting that he has seen in his more than 30-year career. What is your reaction tonight?

SYLVESTER JONES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMENTATOR: Laura, thank you for having me. You know, my heart is heavy. I was watching news coverage early with my family. I just, you know, couldn't believe it. My sincere prayers and thoughts are with the families of the fallen officers.

And obviously, I'm retired from the U.S. Marshals Service. We lost a deputy marshal today. So, you know, my heart is heavy. And then I just, you know, learned that the fourth officer, you know, passed. So, it's like you said, it's a very tough day.

Like I said, I just send my prayers and thoughts out to those family members, the survivors, especially I heard early on. One of the things that we want to do when we go out, and I've been on many a fugitive operation, you know, we want to go come home to our families. And so, it's a difficult day.

COATES: I mean, the execution of a warrant and trying to get a warrant out to have someone -- I mean, it really is a service to the community, to try to ensure that someone who is thought to be dangerous is not out and about on the streets.

And as someone who has worked for the Marshals Office, as you have, I do wonder what questions do you have now about how the task force approached the operation. Do we know any details about the nature of the person they were trying to serve or anything else?

JONES: As I understand it, this person was -- you know, had firearm issues or violations. And, you know, we take those who are known to have firearms and have the propensity to use them very seriously.

I'm not certain how the approach went and what type of residential apartment that they were entering because, you know, I've been on hundreds of these operations and, you know, the Fugitive Task Force, you know, is led by the U.S. Marshals Service, and we partner with the state and local partners, you know, that gives us a lot more as far as force projection, you know, we get more officers.

The local officers, obviously, a lot of times, know the local areas better than some of us working in the Marshals Service. So, it's a great partner. But, you know, it seems like, and I don't know, Laura, that as they made the approach, that somehow the person they were trying to serve the warrant on may have seen them and just opened up on them, took the advantage.



JONES: So, it looks like surprise was not on law enforcement's side. COATES: Which is, of course, what you would want to happen. You want to have the surprise element of it to undermine anyone's opportunity to do anything such as this. And someone who lives near the crime scene says that Marshals actually set up a sniper in one of his rooms during the standoff. So, what does that tell you about how all this unfolded?

JONES: Well, I heard the same thing, that a sniper was set up. So, that lets me know that, you know, we had to react to the force that was put on the officers, the team that tried to serve the warrant.

So, in order to take away the advantage of the -- I'm going to call them a perpetrator or a bandit, it was warranted by the courts, when you put a sniper in there, we leverage it a playing field so that we can, you know, take him out. Obviously, this individual, to me, somehow found out or, you know, saw them, the officers, and the force come in and opened up first.

And I just want to add that I remember about 15 years ago when we had several similar shootings with a task force involving deputy marshals and local officers, that I know that, you know, there was some additional training put in place --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

JONES: -- and the use of those heavy shields was put in place. So, it doesn't look like this task force even had a chance to employ shields.

COATES: Oh, my goodness.

JONES: It can fire.

COATES: Well, Sylvester Jones, what a truly sad day to think about the loss of life and simply trying to do their jobs. And again, now we learned that a fourth officer has passed, surrounded by his wife and his family. Such a tragedy. Thank you so much for joining us.

JONES: Thank you for having me, Laura. And again, prayers and, you know, my thoughts are with the family and the survivors. So --

COATES: Absolutely.

JONES: -- which include the cops, the officers. You know, it's tough on everyone. So, thank you.

COATES: Thank you so much. So tragic. And also, tonight, we are following unrest and that is spreading on college campuses from coast to coast, really. I mean, hundreds of people have now been arrested.

And tonight, Columbia University says it has begun suspending students who refuse to vacate the on-campus encampment by the 2 p.m. deadline they set by the administration.

Now, Texas State Police was also in riot gear. They arrested at least six people at the University of Texas at Austin just this very afternoon. And then there's this new video out of Virginia Commonwealth University. Police have begun arresting pro-Palestine protesters tonight during what the university now calls a -- quote, unquote -- "violent protest." And there are no signs of the protests ending any time soon.

Donald Trump and Republicans are seizing on the chaos. Trump doubling down, demanding in all caps, stop the protests now.

Looking at pictures like this, by the way, showing the Columbia campus back in 1968 flooded with protesters has led some people to draw parallels to that era. In an op-ed on, Princeton Professor Julian Zelizer lays it out in black and white, saying -- quote -- "The turmoil we're seeing brings back memories of the widespread student protests of 1968 -- a comparison that won't be lost given that the Democratic National Convention this year will take place in Chicago."

Chicago, where in 1968, violence spread from the streets onto the convention floor. But there are some crucial differences. The most important, in 1968, young men in America were being sent to fight and die, unfortunately, in Vietnam.

And that may be why there's such a stark difference when you look at the polling about these issues. In 1968, Gallup asked people under the age of 30 what was the most important problem facing the United States. Forty-six percent said Vietnam. That's nearly half, of course. Now, compared to what Harvard's Institute of Politics found when they asked people, young people, which foreign policy issue concerns them most, 2% said Gaza.

In a moment, the presidential candidate who was arrested in the middle of a protest, Jill Stein, is here. Also, Tom Foreman at the Magic Wall to explain what protesters say they actually want.

But first, Miguel Marquez is just across the street from Columbia University for us tonight. Miguel, thank you so much for being there and following this story for us so closely as you have been. Tell me, what is happening at this hour?


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the protesters are still in the quad, in the center, about 300 feet from where we're standing right now. The suspensions have begun, which means however many are in there, probably several dozen, once they try to use their IDs to get into other buildings, the student union building or other places to get food, use the restroom, go back to their rooms, they won't be able to do that.

Also, today, there were fairly sizable, several dozen protesters outside the gates here. This is the front gate to Columbia University in support of the protesters inside. We've heard a couple of chants, a little bit of cheering tonight. But, right now, everything is very, very calm up here. Laura?

COATES: Is that the way they're notifying students of their suspension, that they will understand that they are suspended at that point in time? There's no advance notice otherwise?

MARQUEZ: Well, they've already told them that if they did not clear out by 2 p.m., that they face expulsion and/or suspension. So, they're making good on that promise.


MARQUEZ: It does seem that the way this thing will play out is that they will suspend -- try to identify all of the students who are in that area, the encampment, because it's lots and lots of tents in there.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

MARQUEZ: It doesn't seem that a lot of those tents are being used. Once they identify them, they can suspend them. Once there are no more -- quote, unquote -- "students" in that encampment, then it seems at some point, the push is going to come to shove and they're going to have to get them to move out. Laura?

COATES: Miguel, do you have a sense of how long Columbia is going to, I mean, let the tents or the encampment remain at this point?

MARQUEZ: That is the big question. So, classes ended today. We're getting into finals very soon. In a couple of weeks is commencement. The area where those tents are right now is part of this massive sort of commencement area that they set up in the main lawn at Columbia University. So, they will have to get in there and set all that up at some point.

You know, a lot of the individuals that are graduating this year were denied a graduation at their high school because of the pandemic. So, you know, administrators here at Columbia are quick to point that out to them as well, that at some point, they have to get back to being an institution of higher learning. Laura?

COATES: Miguel Marquez, thank you so much for your report. We'll continue to follow along with what's happening.

You know, while the demands from protesters are varying at each university, there is some connective tissue. Most are calling for divestment. But what exactly does divestment mean?

CNN's Tom Foreman is at the magic wall to break it all down for us. Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Laura. Divestment, simply put, means to sever financial ties with corporations that profit from Israeli actions toward Palestinians. That's the core definition. There are other things I may add to it, but that's mainly what they're driving at here.

And potentially, there would be a lot of targets for that. U.S. trade with Israel in 2022, $50.6 billion. So, in a nutshell, that's what they're saying, cut off the financial ties from the people who are benefiting from what Israel is doing right now. COATES: So, how practical or easy would this be for universities to divest and heed this request?

FOREMAN: That's when it gets tricky. We know already that Portland State has said they will take no more gifts or grants from Boeing because Boeing makes some weapons. Brown is saying that if the students will break up there, they will discuss divestment.

Here's the tricky part. Yeah, if you talk about something like weapons, it's fairly easy to say if universities' money can go into a company that makes weapons that are being used in Gaza right now, fairly easy for them to say, we see your complaint here.

But what about other things like technology, computer science, public health, transportation, space, energy and renewables, all of which are in trade in some fashion with Israel? For example, what if you said we as a university are invested in computer science?

We do Cloud storage and cloud storage that's used by public health. Suddenly, everyone says that's great. But what if that same Cloud storage is also used by a weapons company or by a military firm? That's why this gets so tricky so soon to figure out what this is being used for.

And it's also complicated, as you know, Laura, because so much investing these days is done by funds that include a lot of different hedge funds and mutual funds. And it's harder to figure out exactly what you're investing in because most of these universities aren't just invested in individual companies. They're invested in funds that involve a lot of things all at once.

COATES: So, I mean, the question would be then, given the process and the complexity of it, does divesting work, so to speak?

FOREMAN: The proponents of it will say it does work. One example they would use goes back almost 40 years at Columbia when they had protests there about apartheid in South Africa. They wanted the university to cut ties there. The protests went on for several weeks.

A good bit of time later, the university indeed did step away from investments that involved American Express, Ford, Coca-Cola and Chevron, simply because those companies were doing business in South Africa.


Now, the question is, did they step away because of the protest or because they just thought, we just don't want to be tied up in this anymore? People can debate that till the cows come home. The reality is there is certainly a big symbolic importance to these types of protests. For the people out there, they think that's enough. It puts it in the front pages. It makes people discuss it.

But in terms of financial impact, there's a researcher at Yale who said, look, universities, all of them, in all of their investments, only own about one-tenth of 1% of public companies. They could divest themselves of everything they own on that front. And financially, it might not make such a difference, especially since there are other people out there ready to scoop up what they get rid of. So, symbolically, very important to people. In a practical sense, you could have a big debate about whether it really makes much difference.

I want to point out one more thing, Laura, worth thinking about here. We all, not all, but many, many, many Americans have retirement funds and they have college funds. They have all sorts of things where they have invested money. It's fully possible that people who are very much against this, people who are involved in this protest, may have in their own families' portfolios moneys tied to the very cause that they're fighting against right now, and they haven't been able to tease that out either. It's complicated. Symbolically, it means a lot to them.

COATES: So important. It's really complex, as you describe it. And, of course, it's always important to understand what the message is and then whether you can get from point A to point B in a meaningful way, especially, as you mentioned, I think you said Brown would say, if you guys disperse, then we can even discuss this. Is this where they begin? Tom Foreman, thank you so much.

FOREMAN: You're welcome.

COATES: Well, as pro-Palestinian demonstrations spread on the nation's college campuses, protesters have been arrested by the dozens. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is one of them. Here is video posted on social media of the moment Dr. Stein was arrested at a pro- Palestinian rally at Washington University in St. Louis over the weekend.

She joins me now. Thank you so much for being here, Dr. Stein. We were just talking with my colleague about, you know, the connective tissue and the ask and what's happening. I am really interested in why were you at the protest, and did you intend or know or even anticipate that you could get arrested?

JILL STEIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, GREEN PARTY: No, I certainly wasn't thinking about getting arrested. I attended the encampment to basically show support for the students because they are putting everything on the line. Their careers, their graduation, their housing, you name it. Really, their lives are very much on the line here in taking these actions.

And, you know, to my mind, they are upholding the highest values of American society in opposing genocide and also standing up for our constitutional rights to free speech and to the right to protest.

So, I had been invited by some students to stop by the encampment, which I did. Then I was asked to please try to de-escalate the situation with the administration. And I went to talk to one of the assistant chancellors who was there, along with some of the select board members who were also there from St. Louis. We went, we tried, we didn't succeed.

And within an hour or two, it's not just that we got arrested, we got assaulted. We were assaulted with bikes used as weapons and really brutalized and beat up and, you know, and then thrown to the ground, arms, you know, handcuffed behind our backs with the zip ties, and then walked over. So, in that film you showed at the start, that was the very end of a process that was extremely brutalizing and violent.

And I would point out that these tactics that are being used by the police have actually been imported from the Israeli Defense Forces, which we now call the Israeli Occupation Forces, who've been undertaking these training programs in most of states, at least many states, and certainly in Georgia, in Louisiana, in Texas. The Israeli Occupation Forces are part of these international training programs for police. And importing these very oppressive techniques that are used on Palestinians, they're now coming back.

COATES: Excuse me, Dr. Stein, I want to hear what you have to say, but there are many people who would obviously hear that and say, well, police have been engaged in arrests and are taking people down in the way that we've seen on the screen and done, certainly well before if there has been any involvement of the IDF whatsoever.


What you've described, the experience of it, is certainly nothing to thumb one's nose at, but I do wonder what you called their highest of ideals and people who are the highest values --

STEIN: Let me just stop you for a moment, if I may, because --


STEIN: -- it actually began in 2011, and this was analyzed after the Michael Brown riots and the very brutal actions of the police force. In fact, in taking down Michael Brown, that that police force, the St. Louis Police Force, had actually been trained, starting at that time, by the IDF.

And in an analysis done by Ebony magazine, it was pointed out that extremely violent tactics were being imported, along with these programs of sending surplus military equipment to our states --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

STEIN: -- and to our city towns for the use of, you know, armored vehicles and things.

COATES: I absolutely hear you. I do hear you, Dr. Stein. My point remains that police and the allegation of police brutality has far predated 2011, even without the training of Israel, if that fails to exist (ph).

But I want to move on to the other point, and that is the larger issue you're talking about, because the use of force in whatever manner has been used at a school and has been used in this context.

And, of course, the idea that you're describing, some schools have started suspending student protesters. They've asked officers to come on to the grounds as well. Do you think that suspension or the type of punishment that you have endured is appropriate for the student body?

STEIN: Absolutely not. You know, I do think that the students are standing up for our right to protest, our right to free speech, and for a value, which is basically stopping this genocide and seeking to use economic boycotts and sanctions in order to raise the pressure to do that, much like the boycotts in South Africa.

And to your point, yes, violence has been inflicted by police for a long time. In the Columbia protests against the Vietnam War, you know, 700 students were arrested and 150 were actually hospitalized due to the police brutality at that time. So, yes, you know, this is a problem.

COATES: And yet it seems there's not the lesson, what you're describing. If the lesson is to recall and course correct from those moments, what should the schools be doing? I know this is an issue that's very important to you. What do you think ought to be done, especially when you do have some divergent viewpoints from the student body as to the violation of school policies? What do you think ought to be done here?

STEIN: So, after the Columbia unrest in 1968, there were policies adopted by the university to ensure that there would be due process, that there would be sufficient warning in advance.

And that's all being violated right now. It's being violated by the administration, which is why the faculty vehemently objects to what's being done, and why the faculty came out in great numbers to actually surround the encampment and to help protect the students, because they feel like due process is being violated. There's the fear of an emergency.

But there is no danger here. The danger is being imported along with the police. These are riot police which are creating a riot. The protests themselves and the encampments, I've been to many of them. They've been extremely peaceful. They've been educational. They have been, you know, extremely calm and community building. So, I think the use of police here is entirely unjustified.

This is a difficult subject. You know, as a person of Jewish background, I know there's a lot emerging now about Zionism that merits a review, a relook. This is a very hard conversation for people who are new to it. As Jews, we've been raised to be extremely dedicated to Zionism, based on really a false history, with revelations and disclosures of documents that have previously been kept secret, historical documents.

COATES: Do you no longer share that sentiment of Zionism? Excuse me. I'm sorry. Do you not believe in Zionism?

STEIN: Absolutely not. No. And I think that Zionism is different from Judaism. And it is entirely wrong to conflate the two, being against Zionism, which I regard as essentially a matter of ethnic cleansing and land theft, essentially. That is the purpose of Zionism, to take land that belonged to other people. Yes, Jews have indeed been, you know, horribly traumatized and victimized, but that doesn't then allow one group to take land and displace another group. So - -

COATES: You know, the definition, and I don't want to cut you off, I do want to have a conversation, but the definition of Zionism as I understand it, and obviously this is part of, I think, the challenge for so many people, that perhaps the learning curve for many is steeper in the times we're in.


But I do wonder, I mean, the definition of Zionism is not synonymous with ethnic cleansing by definition, but you think it is?

STEIN: You know, it depends who's defining it, I guess. But the --

COATES: Well, I'm asking how you're defining it.

STEIN: I understand the Zionist movement as the influx of Jews who presume that this land belonged to them. And to look at the actions of the Israeli government, they are attempting to take this land back and to drive the occupants out of this land altogether. And that has been very much the policy of Israel well before it was a state, since the Zionist movement began.

You can talk to Jews who lived together with Muslims and Christians in Palestine for centuries, and it was a peaceful place. It was only with the advent of the Zionists, who felt like this land belonged to them, that the violence came. And many Jews left, as well as Christians and Palestinians, with the entry of the Zionists. This is a very difficult topic for people of Jewish background to come to terms with.

And I see this, as someone who grew up in the 60s, I see this as remarkably similar to the very difficult wake-up of the white community with the civil rights movement in the 1960s. This was a difficult conversation that involved confronting the many institutions of white supremacy and, you know, the very challenging conditions of racism that were endemic in our schools, in housing, and so on.

COATES: I hear you.

STEIN: It's a hard conversation, but it has to be had, and it cannot be shut down. I think it's really important to have it, especially because our tax dollars are funding this war, which the American people vehemently protest.

COATES: Well, you know, this is the interesting thing about politics and generalizations. There are so many people who, and I often hear this in my line of work, as I'm sure you do as well, that I hear varying different viewpoints on the complexity of this issue and personal opinions to that regard. And I do wonder if politics considers each and every aspect of it. My suspicion is that it does not.

But this conversation has been very thought-provoking for me today. Thank you for joining us. Dr. Jill Stein, everyone. Opening statements in the case that has become a true crime obsession. Did Karen Read kill her police officer boyfriend, running him down and leaving him to die in the snow, or is she the victim of a massive cover-up in Boston? A live report, next.



COATES: A murder trial is now underway, and it is bitterly dividing in Massachusetts' community and raising accusations of bias and politics. Opening statements began today in the trial of Karen Read.

Now, she is accused of killing her then-boyfriend, John O'Keefe. A Boston police officer was found dead in the suburb of Canton during a blizzard in January 2022. Now, prosecutors charged Read backed over him in her Lexus SUV after a fight, apparently, they had, they alleged, and left him to die as the snow piled up on him for hours just outside of a friend's home.


ADAM LALLY, PROSECUTOR: At least from three of those firefighters, you'll hear testimony, I anticipate, detailing statements that the defendant made to them. They had asked about the origination of some of those injuries. The defendant stated repeatedly, I hit him, I hit him, I hit him.


COATES: Read faced a second-degree murder charge. But she insists that she didn't do this. Her attorney says Read is the fall woman in a murder cover-up that she had nothing to do with.


DAVID YANNETTI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Karen Reed was framed. Her car never struck John O'Keefe. She did not cause his death. And that means that somebody else did.


COATES: The true crime case has riveted this nation, fueled speculation, and pitted people in the town of 25,000 people against each other. Protesters flooded town meetings calling for an independent investigation. Allegations of a cover-up and police corruption are running rampant. The local D.A. refutes those theories. But some people aren't buying it.


UNKNOWN: Karen Read could be any one of us. Thank God she has the money and the means to fight this. But if it was us, one everyday person, we'd be in jail by now, and you wouldn't even know about this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: Joining us now, Peter Elikann, criminal defense attorney, and Abby Patkin, staff writer with Thank you both for being here. This story intrigued me from the very moment that I saw this case, Abby. I want to ask you, what do we know happened the night that John O'Keefe died back in January of 2022?

ABBY PATKIN, STAFF WRITER, BOSTON.COM: Yeah, so, we know that he and Karen Read went out with friends. They had a night of drinking. There was an after-party at one person's home. They were invited back with the group. Witnesses say that they saw Karen Read's car pull up outside the home. They claim that O'Keefe never entered the home. They saw the car pull away. They assume that the couple had left.

COATES: So, I mean, there's a lot of theories about what really happened because, obviously, I think his body was found in that location. Why do you think this case is getting so much attention?

PATKIN: So, we've really seen this movement build up around Karen Read. Protests, hashtags, people wearing pink in solidarity with her outside her trial. And as we saw in the clip earlier, if you speak to some of the folks at the heart of this movement, they really see themselves in Karen. They think of this as an underdog tale, and they would want someone to stand up for them if they were in her shoes.

COATES: Peter, let me bring you in here, Peter Elikann, because Karen Read has a pretty high-powered defense attorney.


But what is her alibi?

PETER ELIKANN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, what they are saying is that he -- inside the -- that he went inside the house and that he was beaten up. And they said that all the evidence the defense is saying is that it looked like he was badly beaten and not hit by a car. And as a matter of fact, the FBI actually brought in some experts. They also said nobody has concluded how he was actually killed. So those are the two competing arguments.

And this is very rare. Most times I see a murder trial, you know, we know how the person died. Yeah, there's a bullet in him. Now, let's figure out if you have proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Here, they haven't even nailed down after over two years the cause of death. Was he hit by a car or was he beaten? And they said there's all kinds of dog bite marks on his -- up and down the arms and all kinds of different defensive wounds. It's nothing like being hit by a car.

And that's why -- I hate to say this. This case may come down to, and I hate to use this cliche, battle of the experts, because for every sort of forensic study you have in this case, there's another opposing one from the other side. Hopefully, we can get to the bottom of things in this case.

COATES: It's unbelievable to think about what has been happening and how so many people have been looking at this case. And, of course, the allegations of, you know, these bombshell claims and the police investigation and everything that has happened. We'll be following this so closely.

Peter Elikann, Abby Patkin, what happened to this man that night? Thank you so much.

PATKIN: Thank you.

ELIKANN: Thank you.

COATES: Ahead, new polls spell bad news for President Biden. But my next guest says, ignore the polls. The professor who has correctly predicted nearly every election since 1984 is here to look into his, well, crystal ball.



COATES: All right, my next guest says, pay no attention to the new poll I'm about to reference. But it does show Donald Trump with a steady lead in a head-to-head rematch against President Biden, putting Trump at 49%, Biden at 43%.

But my next guest goes as far as to say that you can co-sign that poll and even the ones showing Trump losing and just consign to the flames. He insists Biden is still the man to beat in 2024.

Just to tell you who I'm talking about, it's Professor Allan Lichtman, who has correctly predicted nine of the last 10 elections. And the one he got wrong, 2000. He argues he actually got right since Al Gore beat George W. Bush in the popular vote.

So, if not the polls, what's he using as his barometer? Well, Lichtman says we should follow his 13 keys to the White House. Now, they're all listed here for you, and they include things like incumbency and third-party candidates, the state of the economy and, of course, social unrest. Now, if six or more go against the party in the White House, its candidate will lose. Fewer than six, its candidate will win. So where do things stand right now?

Let's bring in Alan Lichtman to talk all about it. Thank you so much for being here. Listen, you have not made your official prediction yet. I see the keys. But why do you think that Biden is in the driver's seat now when all these polls seem to say he should be worried?

ALLAN LICHTMAN, DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Remember, all the polls told us that Hillary Clinton would win in 2016. I predicted Trump would win. In 1988, as late as May and June, George H.W. Bush was trailing his opponent, Mike Dukakis, by 18- percentage points. He went on to win handily.

Polls are snapshots. They are abused as predictors. The keys are different because they tap into the structure of how elections really work, which is that there are votes up or down on the strength and performance of the White House party.

Now, why does Biden have an advantage?


LICHTMAN: You know, we hear all this confirmation there should have been a younger candidate. But look at this. Biden wins the incumbency key, which you saw on your chart. He wins the contest key because he's not seriously opposed to the nomination. That means six more of my keys would have to fall to predict his defeat.

Right now, he only loses two, party mandate based on House elections in 2022 and incumbent charisma because he's no Franklin Roosevelt. So, four more keys would have to fall. And there are four shaky keys that I haven't called yet.

And this is what your viewers should keep your eye on. Forget the pundits, forget the polls. Third party. Will RFK Jr. emerge as we get closer as a truly significant third-party candidate? Social unrest, which we now see emerging at campuses, will that be sustained? We don't know. And, of course, foreign failure and success, which depend upon what's going to happen in the Middle East and in Ukraine.

All four would have to go against Biden to predict his defeat. That's possible, but not highly likely.

COATES: So, what about the timeline for all this? Obviously, as you mentioned, some aspects of it, it's up and down, depending on the day. The length of these perhaps shakiest of the keys might not endure, but they could go longer. Is there a particular cutoff when these keys have to be in hand?

LICHTMAN: There's no exact cutoff. Sometimes, the keys fall into place very early. I predicted the hard to call 2012 election in 2010.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

LICHTMAN: But right now, because things are so fluid, I can't make a final prediction. But I will tell you, and you can have me on again, I expect to make my final call in early August like I did in 2020.


COATES: Oh, come on. Give me a hint right now. Tell me. Tell me everything. Pretend it's just you and me, Allan.

LICHTMAN: Don't you have a whole bunch of viewers also listening here?


COATES: Well, if you're going to be technical about it, yes.

LICHTMAN: I will tell you, as I said, I'll reiterate, you know. If it wasn't Biden running, Democrats would have lost the incumbency key and the contest key and would be in a terrible position. But with Biden winning those two keys and only being down four -- only being down two, the four shaky keys that I pointed out, all would have to fall against him. So, unlike the polls and the pundits, I've told your viewers exactly what they should look for over the next several months. That's as far as I can go right now.

COATES: All right. Well, I appreciate that. Just -- next time, we'll whisper. Think it'd be great. Just you and I. Forget all the many viewers that are watching right now. Allan Lichtman, I'll see you back in August.

LICHTMAN: I'll give you the true inside scoop, but it's no different from what I've told the world.

COATES: Oh, good. Well, I will buy the lunch, but you only get water. Thanks, Allan Lichtman. Nice to see you.


Thanks so much.

LICHTMAN: Anytime, Laurel. It's always a pleasure.

COATES: See you in August. Okay. Well, ahead, Trump dubbed Florida's governor, Ron DeSanctimonious, during the peak of their primary fight. Well, now it's a very different tune after they met privately, not for lunch, but for breakfast. Why they're burying the hatchet is next.



COATES: Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis meeting at a golf course in Florida over the weekend for the first time since DeSantis dropped out of the presidential race. Trump posting after the meeting that DeSantis is supporting him for president enthusiastically. Trump also saying the meeting was -- quote -- "great." But let's remember, here's what Trump said about DeSantis, well, back in January.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can't vote for DeSanctimonious. But he's only at 4% or 5%. What the hell happened to him, by the way? Man, did he go down? Ron DeSanctimonious.


COATES: And here's what DeSantis said about Trump.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can be the most worthless Republican in America. But if you kiss the ring, he'll say you're wonderful.


COATES: Hmm. I want to bring in CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton. Also here is CNN contributor and "New York Times" journalist and podcast host Lulu Garcia-Navarro. Glad to have both of you here. Well, you giggled first, Shermichael, so I'm going to go to you first.


Why is DeSantis kissing the ring now? Does he want to be called wonderful?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think Republicans are looking at Biden and they smell blood. They think the president is weak. Republicans who several months ago believed that Donald Trump didn't have a shot are now --


SINGLETON: Lulu, I see the face, but I'm being honest.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm just going to give you the face.

SINGLETON: I think a lot of Republicans, those who are now saying, you know what, we're going to support him, a lot of the donors who a couple of months ago were saying, you know what, we're just going to watch and let the process play out, are now saying, wait a minute, we think Biden is weak because of a plethora of issues, the economy, immigration, young voters, et cetera. Let's go ahead and back Trump because Trump might actually be able to pull off a victory.

COATES: They said that before. It's one reason that he was running, because he thought that Biden was weak. He presumed he'd be the candidate and the incumbent. Why do you think he's doing this now? Is he thinking it's an action VIP pick?


GARCIA-NAVARRO: So, yeah, let me just give you the face. First of all, I'm a Floridian. It's my governor. So, let me just say this. First of all, he's kissing the ring because he wants to remain in the Republican Party. And so, like, that is the Republican nominee. And he was playing hard to get. He was always going to come home to MAGA. There was never any doubt that that was going to happen. There was a bitter contest, and he wanted to play hard to get.

And he has finally come home, and they've apparently patched it up, according to Donald Trump. Also, Donald Trump needs Florida. I mean, he -- you know, notice that Ron DeSantis isn't the one that made this announcement. It was Donald Trump, you know. And it was them having this meeting, and it was all kind of -- you know, this is all being kind of made as a public relations tour. You know, Donald Trump needs Florida and Ron DeSantis needs Donald Trump.

SINGLETON: But, Lulu, is it not fair to say that President Biden is struggling?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Okay, but I don't think this has anything to do with President Biden. SINGLETON: I disagree with that. I disagree with that. I mean, I think we can all say that, sure, Republicans want to stick with the party by supporting the former president because they want those voters, but I also think Republicans are aware of the electoral realities here. And the electoral realities are, several months ago, most people would say Joe Biden is going to win this thing by a landslide. Most people are not saying that today.

I think Republicans are looking at that data. They're looking at what people are saying. They're saying, wait a minute here, maybe we should go ahead and, I guess, kiss the ring, if you will, because we might pull this off.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What data were you looking at that ever said that Joe Biden was going to win by a landslide?

SINGLETON: Oh, Lulu, there were a lot of people saying that several months ago.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is a country that is very, very closely divided. This is a country in which this election was always going to be very contested. And at no point did anyone think that it was going to go, be handed to Biden.

SINGLETON: Well, a lot of my Democratic friends thought that, Lulu. A lot of them were saying, oh, there's no way you guys are going to win with Donald Trump. President Biden is going to win this thing by a landslide. Well, that doesn't appear to be the case today.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think DeSantis -- listen, DeSantis is making a political calculation. Donald Trump is making a political calculation. And, you know, what's so joyous about this is seeing those comments that you played where you could actually see what they think of each other.

COATES: Well, it's funny. I wouldn't have had a kumbaya prediction with golf clubs present for the two of them. I just feel like they were a little bit -- I don't know. It was just my interpretation.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I actually don't think DeSantis is a very good golfer.

COATES: Well, that probably would be his favor if he was not good. You don't want to necessarily lose the person you need to kiss the ring of. But let me ask you, one person who was in Mar-a-Lago a lot was Kari Lake, right? She was vying for the governorship in Arizona. Now, of course, she is a Senate candidate.


And a source telling "The Post" that Trump has complained that she is spending too much time at Mar-a-Lago and has soured on her in many ways. And Lake has responded now just a few hours ago saying -- quote -- "My friendship with the greatest president in American history has never been stronger." So, it seems like DeSantis is back in the good graces, but she seems to be out. GARCIA-NAVARRO: But notice how interesting. So, it was Donald Trump who said that now they've made up with DeSantis, but it is Kari Lake who's having to say that she has made up with Trump, whereas Trump has not said anything about this. So, this to me says one thing is true and the other thing is not true. I am not convinced that Kari Lake is in Donald Trump's good graces.

SINGLETON: Yeah, but let's be honest. Kari Lake Carrie doesn't bring anything to Donald Trump. She brings nothing to the table. Ron DeSantis, to Lulu's point, is governor of a very popular state, a state where --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Republican-leaning now.

SINGLETON: Republican-leaning. But also, DeSantis can also help Donald Trump on the campaign trail. There are a lot of conservative Republicans who aren't necessarily excited about voting for Trump in November. And someone like Ron DeSantis could be persuadable to some of those individuals.

Kari Lake is someone who has failed multiple times running for office. A lot of Republicans are sick of her. They're ready for her to move on. That's not the case with DeSantis.

COATES: I don't care what you guys say. She brings the best lighting in the business.

SINGLETON: That's true.

COATES: She's got great lighting.


I don't know. That lighting, I don't know if it's a ring light. I don't know what it is, but it's there. Shermichael, Lulu, both, thank you so much.

And thank you all for watching. Anderson Cooper is next.