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Laura Coates Live

Biden And Trump Agreed To Historic Debate Rematch; Laura Coates Interviews Chris Gibbs; Bobby Menendez Bribery Trial Begins; Massive Manhunt Underway For Notorious French Prisoner; Return Of "Roaring Kitty" And The Memes Rocked Wall Street. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 15, 2024 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: All right, Donald Trump and Joe Biden agreed to finally face off, twice no less. But know who's not there? RFK Jr. Could they come to maybe regret this decision? I'll explain.

Also, tonight, we'll take you inside the other criminal trial in Manhattan. How Senator Bob Menendez is trying to explain away those gold bars and stacks of cash in his bribery trial.

Plus, after years of silence, he tweeted one image and sent meme stocks soaring. The bizarre comeback of the one they call "Roaring Kitty," tonight on "Laura Coates Live." Well, it's one of the longest presidential campaigns ever. But who's counting? With the oldest candidates ever. Everyone is counting. And now, it'll feature the earliest debates ever. Welcome to the latest twist in this 2024 race. Donald Trump and President Biden have now agreed to face off in June and September.

The June 27th debate will take place right here on CNN, long before any votes are cast. So, what's the reaction been like? Well, it's been sort of mixed. But listen to Senator Romney's view on all of it.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Well, the image that comes to mind is those two old guys on "The Muppets," you know, that sat in the balcony.

UNKNOWN: Statler and Waldorf.

ROMNEY: Statler and Waldorf, all right. That's what comes to mind.


(LAUGHTER) COATES: I remember that. Does that make me old? I don't know. Just in case you forgot who he's talking about, here you go.


UNKNOWN: Looks like two ancient old guys sitting in a theater box watching television.


UNKNOWN: That's crazy. No one would watch chunk like that.



COATES: All right, but seriously, Romney is putting his finger on a real issue that we've all been hearing about and talking about. The age of the candidates. Biden is 81. Trump will be 78 by the first debate. And yet, polls consistently show that voters think it's Biden who's too old for the job.

Now, having them both side-by-side in a real-life split screen will allow voters to see the dynamic for themselves and what could be a decisive moment, frankly, one way or another.

Let's not forget, though, what we've seen what a Trump debate and Biden debate looks like in the past, right? It was a lot of, well, this the last go-round.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Now, make sure you, in fact, let people know you're a senator.


BIDEN: I'm not going to answer the question because --

TRUMP: Why won't you answer that question?

BIDEN: -- Because the question is --

TRUMP: You want to put a lot of new Supreme Court justices --

BIDEN: The question --

TRUMP: -- radical left -- who is your -- listen -- BIDEN: Will you shut up, man?


COATES: I mean, that's what happened last time. Years later, but will it happen again? I mean, according to the rules, though, that won't fly this time. I'm not sure they were according to the last rules either, but I digress. For one, there's actually no audience. Maybe there's no reason to maybe thump one's chest.

The CNN debate will be held in our own Atlanta studio with just the moderators, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, present. And Biden's team wants the microphones to be cut off automatically when the time runs out to avoid interruptions. It's unclear if that's actually going to be agreed upon. Also, our microphones are really great, and so you could hear people who are next to you even when it's not your microphone. But, you know, details.

The elephant in the 2024 race won't be in that room, though, at least for now. I'm talking about RFK Jr., who currently does not make the cut and has a pretty tough hill to climb to make that cut. He'd have to hit 15% in four national polls and be on enough ballots to maybe reach 270 electoral votes. And by the way, he's nowhere near that right now, but he claims that he will get there in time for at least the June, if not later, debate.

I want to bring in two campaign veterans, former chief media adviser of presidential campaigns, including President George W. Bush and the late senator, John McCain, I'm talking about Mark McKinnon, also CNN political commentator and senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, Karen Finney. So glad to have both of you here. I usually see you in a screen, but it's always the hat. It's really here.


COATES: Nice to see you, Karen.

MCKINNON: Here to pay my respects in person. COATES: Oh, it came out for a second.


COATES: Did we get it on camera? Did we get it? Oh, my God! MCKINNON: I have hair. I have hair. Everybody thinks I'm bald.


I'm not bald.

COATES: It's a whole head of hair. Oh, my -- well, all right, that's the interview. So glad you stopped by. That was the entire show. Thank you. Well, I'm glad that you're both here.


And I have to ask you, and I'll start with you because I made you show your hair. What did you think about this decision to have this debate? I mean, it seemed like Biden was trying to call his bluff and he's like, I'll be there.

MCKINNON: I think it's the smartest decision the campaign has made. I think --


MCKINNON: I think, a year from now, if Joe Biden is president, it will be because of this decision today. I just think it's super smart strategically, tactically.

There was no way that Joe Biden was going to go through this election and not debate. That's not an option. So what else do you do? You sit and you wait around for Trump to have all the leverage to control the strategy, control the dialogue, and have months of Trump beating the hell out of Biden saying --


MCKINNON: -- are you going to debate, are you going to debate, are you going to debate? The most important asset, as you know, in a presidential campaign is the perception of strength. Right now, Biden is seen as weak. This shows confidence and it shows strength. And by the way, he's got to get on stage and prove to people that he's vital. You know, the rap on both of them is that they're old. Okay, we'll get on stage without a net. We'll see who's really old.

FINNEY: That's right.

COATES: It's important to think about that confidence. And it is conveyed when you say, look, anytime, anywhere, you know, meet me after school in the playground, right

(LAUGHTER)? The problem is, though, if you roll in the mud, there can be some consequences.

FINNEY: Absolutely. I think that's going to be -- look, having helped prepare a candidate for a debate with Donald Trump, it is -- it's not easy because he is very unpredictable. And you always prepare people, as Mark knows so well, for what you want to try to get out.

You saw even in that clip, Joe Biden had a strategy that he was trying to stick to. And clearly, he had had some kind of rhetorical tool in case it went off the rails to just say, you know, come on, man. So, he'll have to do that again, and he'll have to do it in a way that illustrates and reminds people.

This is one of the reasons why I think this is so smart. People have not really been tuning in and seeing Donald Trump in full effect --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

FINNEY: -- in quite some time. It will be front and center. And if Joe Biden can almost stand back and let him be, you know, the toddler having a tantrum and instead be the president who brought us out of COVID, who is moving our country forward, that will be quite a feat.

COATES: You know, it's an important point you raise. We've often been talking about the split screen, but normally, it's, you know, Biden not on the campaign trail but governing. And then you've got Trump in front of the courthouse. And I will note that there was the shaded aspect of Biden's announcement of, I hear you're free on Wednesdays. It's obviously pointing to --


I mean, that's quite a punch to throw, right? There you go. It's coming. He's also -- he's right. He's free on Wednesdays. FINNEY: Yeah.

COATES: But let me ask you, when you're talking about the focus being on these two singularly, you and I have talked in the past, Mark, about the value of maybe even a third-party candidate. I know that the no labels ticket did not reveal one at all. But there's no RFK Jr. He thinks he could probably get there. Would RFK Jr.'s presence have been helpful to either of these candidates to have that third person to play off of?

MCKINNON: No. That's why they're agreeing to this debate.


It's an unusual situation because it's unclear right now if it hurts Trump or Biden worse. But it's an unknown impact that neither one of them want in the equation because it is a factor. And so, how do you -- the best way to deal with that? Don't give it oxygen. And so -- I mean, from sort of big democracy point of view, I think it's better to have those things. But if I were on the Biden team, I'd go. I think that's the best strategy. Absolutely.

COATES: Let me ask you about the strategy, the timing of it. I mean, this is still pretty early. June and September. This is going to be one of the earliest ever, which means that there's probably time to recover, right?


COATES: If you, you know, early enough in the race, you're able to if something goes wrong. And, you know, I think it was then candidate or then President Obama who did not fare that well against Romney, I think, initially and then came back strong again. Is that part of the strategy?

FINNEY: You know, I think President Biden has to be prepared that there may only be one debate. I don't necessarily think they'll have to because, as you know, as we know, things can get cagey after the first one. And so, absolutely. I mean, he's got to, again, be prepared to be the grown up, be the person who has shown up ready to have the conversation.

I think the other thing in the strategy, you know, they talked a bit about the fact that it's before voting has started. I think that's smart because early vote starts sooner, earlier and earlier. But it also gives people a chance. Again, I think people are waiting to see the two of them on stage together.


FINNEY: So, let's just get it out of the way. Why wait till September or October? Let's get it out of the way. And I think, potentially, it will infuse a lot of energy into both of their campaigns, quite frankly.

COATES: Yeah. I mean -- by the way, Speaker Pelosi did not agree with you, guys. She doesn't think it's a great idea to do this. But I'll put that aside for a second and just turn to -- okay, now, we're in the room where it's happening. Now it's content of the conversation that is going to be really important. And we know that part of what Trump has been talking about is the weaponized government.


He's accusing Biden, falsely, of controlling even local elected officials like Alvin Bragg, like Fani Willis. There's also a lot of these issues and cultural wars that are happening. One of the things that has come up recently has been this conversation from the Kansas City Chiefs kicker. I don't know if you've heard this. His name is Harrison Butker. he's a devout Catholic. He gave a commencement address to the graduating class of Benedict -- Benedictine College. Listen to what he had to say.


HARRISON BUTKER, KICKER, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you. How many of you are sitting here now about to cross this stage and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career? Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.

As men, we set the tone of the culture. Be unapologetic in your masculinity. Fighting against the cultural emasculation of men. Do hard things. Never settle for what is easy.


COATES: Hmm. I'm guessing you both wholeheartedly agree with everything he said.


Skip past the part where you react and say you do not and just assume for a second. Let me go on, though, as to why this is impactful and why I'm asking this question now. One of the things that could be described at prior debates, especially when Trump is speaking, is about toxic masculinity. Number one. Also, about the idea of reproductive rights and the agency of women going to come up as a proxy discussion for abortion and reproductive rights more broadly.

When you have comments like this being made, it's going to be a part of the conversation. How do you think either will fare?

MCKINNON: First of all, I would say stick to kicking, Harrison.


You wonder why Nikki Haley is still getting 20% of the vote --

COATES: Hmm. MCKINNON: -- and she's not even running? Well, it's because of this kind of dialogue that's going on largely in the Republican Party. John Bolton said a really interesting thing to me which really struck me and this is just evidence of. He said, Mark, there is no arc to -- there is no arc to history. Progress is not guaranteed. And this kind of thing just makes us feel like, God, we're going back to the 50s?


MCKINNON: I mean, it's just nuts. I just have made the assumption that we've moved well past this and it's a reminder that the work of justice has to be done day after day after day.

COATES: I mean, the Dobbs decision was a heck of a reminder, too.

FINNEY: It was. You know, here's the other thing about that kind of comment and this ties into what I think is so toxic about Donald Trump and the MAGA movement. It is a scarcity mindset instead of an abundance mindset, right? It is about scarcity. There's not enough. So, hold on to what you have because there's not enough, and be afraid of anybody who's trying to take it away from you.

Instead of saying, you know what? There's plenty for everybody. It's okay if some women want to stay home and raise their kids and other women want to work outside the home. That's fine. There's plenty of opportunity and that doesn't hurt you. It does not harm your masculinity.

And so, I think, again, part of what Biden brings to the table constantly is his optimism. And I think you will see that scarcity, divisiveness coming out of Trump and just much broader -- there's enough for everybody kind of mindset and the progress message that Mark was just talking about.

COATES: It's such a sharp point. I mean, they say equality is not like pie. You don't get less if I get some. But that's such an interesting framing of the scarcity and the abundance. Abundance, really quick though on this, too.

One of the split screens has been that the former president, Donald Trump, is involved in a case where we're reminding a lot about the Access Hollywood tape, about alleged misogyny, about his views on women, all these things. This can play very badly for him if he doesn't handle the cards right in a debate with someone like President Joe Biden.

MCKINNON: Yeah. If he doesn't handle his cards right with this jury, they could find him guilty. And, you know, even though some may dismiss it as kind of a minor crime, at the end of the day, I think there's enough voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to say, I'm not sure I want a criminal being president.

COATES: Hmm. Well --

MCKINNON: He has been found guilty by a jury. COATES: Yeah, and that -- that might actually happen in this instance. We'll have to wait and see what the jurors find. Really fascinating conversation. Glad to have you both. Mark McKinnon, Karen Finney, thank you so much.

Hey, up next, we've got a farmer from Ohio defecting from GOP leadership to Democratic Party leadership. And why? Donald Trump. Now, he's trying to turn rural Ohio from red to blue.

Plus, the corruption trial involving a powerful Democratic senator. Gold bars, a luxury convertible. Well, we're talking about this man.



COATES: From Republican county chair to Democratic chair, that's really the evolution of my next guest, Chris Gibbs, a farmer from Ohio who long identified as a moderate Republican until the straw that broke the camel's back. The Trump administration.

In a "New York Times" profile, Gibbs says -- quote -- "In today's Republican Party, you either speak with a Trump voice or you're vaporized."

Joining me now, chairman of the now Democratic Party in Shelby County, Chris Gibbs. Chris, thank you for joining me. I'm really fascinated by your evolution or your conversion, whatever is the appropriate word to describe what we have just said. And that is the idea of how you have gone from one party to the next and the straw that broke the camel's back for you. Walk me through your political conversion. Was the Trumpification, so to speak, of the Republican Party that straw?

CHRIS GIBBS, CURRENT SHELBY COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR: Well, thanks, Laura, for having me, and thanks for helping tell the story. I spent 20 years within the republican administration in Shelby County, much of that as chair, I think seven years as chair.

And in 2014, I stepped down as chair voluntarily because I was starting to feel that Tea Party movement that eventually moved into what we now know as the MAGA movement.


I specifically look at Steve King out of Iowa and others who were extremely hard on immigrants. And I was a proponent of good immigration reform. If you remember in 2013, I think we had the Gang of Eight bill in the Senate that did not ever make it because John Boehner didn't want to bring it up in the House. So, that bill that would have really done real good immigration reform failed. So, I was a proponent of that.

I stepped down as chair at that time, stayed on in leadership, got up to the 2016 election, and begrudgingly voted for Donald Trump because I thought, you know what, there's nothing he can do that our institutions and our Congress couldn't fix. COATES: Hmm.

GIBBS: But, Laura, what's the punchline? Boy, was I wrong. Now, our institutions, of course, they're holding. A little rough on the judicial system, I'd say. But I never considered that Congress would fold like a cheap lawn chair. So, they just folded. And what I found out about the Republican Party right then, that I had given 20 years of my most important possession beyond family, and that was my name --


GIBBS: -- is that the ideals of diplomacy, statesmanship, personal responsibility, compassion for other people wasn't only a lie, it was a damn lie. And so, I left the Republican Party, actually over trade, we can talk about that later, Trump's tariffs in 2019, '18 and '19, became an independent for a while, and then found the Democratic Party and found where I needed to be.

COATES: I'm really fascinated by that process, particularly even becoming an independent in the interim and then becoming a Democrat in a leadership position, no less. And the way you've described it, it didn't come at, you know, a zero cost to you. It came at a cost. You lost dear friends, your job on the board of elections. When you reflect six years later now, do you have any regrets?

GIBBS: No. No, I don't, because now I'm part of a party that looks for solutions for people, that provides solutions for people, and doesn't look for retribution and revenge against individuals. And that's why I'm part of the Democratic Party. So, I don't have any regrets.

On the losing the friends from the Republican Party, what I found out there is that those were simply friends of proximity, just that wanted to be in proximity of leadership. So, that's the bad news. The good news, I saved a whole hell of a lot of money on Christmas cards.


COATES: I still can't find the time to get them out. My kids have grown, and I'm still sending out the old pictures. So good for you on that, Chris Gibbs. Let me ask you, though, finally, when you look at -- I mean, registered Republicans outnumber Democrats more than, I think, eight to one in your county. And I can't help but think your frustrations over tariffs, your frustrations about retribution as a priority as opposed to perhaps policy stances that could move a needle for your concerns.

I wonder if you're alone in thinking and feeling those frustrations, even if your, you know, decision has been public. Are there more Chris Gibbs, you think, in your county?

GIBBS: There are. There are. And I know they're out there. I know these legacy Republicans are out there. And they're looking for a place. They may not come clear to the Democratic Party. That's all right. But when we get them into the voting booth, it's all private in there, and I think they'll vote the way we'd like them to vote, particularly for Sherrod Brown and for President Biden in the fall. So, what we're doing is trying to get people out from hiding. You know, in Shelby County, the Democrats are in hiding. In these red rural counties, they're literally in hiding. I hear these stories every single week, about folks that are scared to put out a sign because they've got neighbors that are either legacy Republicans or some MAGA Republicans, for sure.

So, what I have to do is get these people lifted up and get them out from hiding and tell what they're for. And that's what we're doing here in Shelby County. I tell people, hey, get in behind me. I'm just a farmer. They can't hurt me. I don't have a storefront to protect. Let's go. I'm self-made.

Get in behind me. I'll cut, brush, and we'll do this together. We'll put out yard signs. We'll knock doors, whatever it takes. But we're going to raise people up, and that's what we're doing here in Shelby County with our program.

COATES: Pounding the pavement is really, in so many ways, the essence of democracy. I have such a visual image of you cutting that brush and making the path better for those ahead. But it's a sad testament that bravery is required in order to speak one's mind in a democracy like you have. Chris Gibbs, thank you so much for joining.

GIBBS: Take care.


Well, up ahead, a corruption trial. It has got gold bars, it has got cash. It has got a Mercedes Benz, and it has got a Democratic senator named Bob Menendez. He is fighting back against these charges. What's his defense? It's his wife's fault. A reporter who is in court is going to join me next.


COATES: Well, it's a refrain almost as old as time. Stand by your man. In politics, it usually means a wife may be supporting their husband when they are in trouble. But what if that man doesn't stand by you? Just saying.

That's what appeared to happen as opening statements began in the federal bribery trial against New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat, and his wife, Nadine. Now, U.S. attorneys argue that the couple accepted bribes in exchange for favors. Bribes like 13 gold bars or a Mercedes Benz. Investigators also found that there was more than $486,000 in cash at the Menendez home.

The senator's own attorney told jurors not to be -- quote -- "blinded by the gold and cash." And he has partially blamed Menendez's wife, adding -- quote -- "Bob does not necessarily know what's going on with Nadine." But prosecutors insist that Menendez knew what was going on and was motivated by nothing other than greed. Senator Menendez maintains his innocence and, of course, he has that presumption as well.


Joining me now, trial attorney Seth Berenzweig and "Washington Post" court reporter Salvador Rizzo. Salvador, I want to begin with you because you have been following this so closely. You, in fact, have been in court, I understand, as well at different times. The attorney for Senator Menendez, he basically -- I mean, he threw his wife under the bus. Is that going to work?

SALVADOR RIZZO, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: It's a high-risk strategy, of course, because you never know what kind of impact that will have with the jury. You know, some may see it as ungallant or as, you know, trying to, you know, concoct a story that's convenient and that, you know, sort of, you know, gives the lie to this romance that he's supposed to be, you know, also claiming was the source of all these, you know, allegations.

COATES: I mean, but thinking about it -- I mean, the jury, I wonder how they'll respond. He is Senator Menendez. He had a leadership role, I think, on the Foreign Affairs Committee, if I'm not mistaken. I mean, a pretty powerful committee as well. The idea that he would be completely, you know, unaware and ignorant to what was going on within his home might not strike the jurors as credible.

RIZZO: And that was the undertone of the assistant United States attorney's opening statement this afternoon. You know, Menendez is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, you know, at turns also the ranking member, the top Democrat when Republicans control the committee.

You know, he had a big say over billions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Egypt. In this case, Egypt is, you know, the country that, you know, he is alleged to have been a foreign agent for, you know, as he was taking bribes from a businessman who was a co-defendant in this case, who had connections to that government.

COATES: It's an interesting point you raise. And, Seth, I want to bring you in here because there's a co-defendant, but also Nadine, his wife. They're tried separately because her attorney says that she is suffering from medical issues. You're an attorney. Tell me about the impact of these separate trials and why you might want to do that if you're hoping to point the finger.

SETH BERENZWEIG, ATTORNEY: Well, traditionally, the defendants often argue prejudice. And in a case like this, you probably would have seen that kind of an argument. But she, apparently, is recovering from some kind of surgery. So, as a practical matter, she's going to be out of the courtroom even though, apparently, she's going to be thrown under the bus for almost all of the counts in the indictment. This case reads and sits somewhere between a spy novel and a cartoon.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

BERENZWEIG: It is absolutely unbelievable. The allegations are that the senator basically went on a globetrotting crime spree in Egypt and Qatar and engineered all of these things for cash, gold, car, mortgage payments. And even though it does sound implausible to say it wasn't me, it is my wife, it's interesting to note that when you look at the 16 counts, almost all of them show Nadine taking the lead.

And what she does in the allegations is she's basically scouting out the opportunities, she gets paid in cash, she sets up a shell LLC, and she has a low show or no-show job. She's taking the lead on a lot of this. But then it's time for her to ultimately pass the football to her husband, who gets the ball over the goal line. He helps the Egyptian military get military aid. He gets a critical Senate resolution passed and takes the lead in protecting Qatar as well as hooking up his friends.

So, I think it's an implausible defense, but it's interesting in terms of how the case is structured.

COATES: It is really interesting to think about all those aspects. And Salvador, I mean, the judge, we have a lot about cash that's happening right now. And whether it's, you know, Fani Willis in Fulton County in a trial about how much cash she held in her home or another Manhattan courtroom about $400,000, and now you've got a judge in this case talking about $400,000, I think, plus $1,000, the judge is not going to allow a psychiatrist, though, to testify about some sort of family trauma that Senator Menendez experienced that his defense says will explain why he had so much cash in his home. How did that play out today?

RIZZO: You know, the defense attorney for Menendez who gave the opening statement, Avi Weitzman, he really hammered home this idea that intergenerational trauma as, you know, the defense has described it in court filings, is what led to the development of this habit that Menendez had to withdraw $400 or $500 from his bank account every now and then, you know, a couple times per month, a few times per month, and just go and store that in his home.

And the reason, they say, is because his parents, as Cuban refugees, you know, they lost everything. All their money was confiscated. All they had was, you know, some funds that they had stashed inside a grandfather clock when they moved to the United States.

And so, they said, you know, this psychiatrist, a forensic psychiatrist, will testify to all that, how he developed, you know, a mental condition from these traumas that he experienced vicariously through the stories told by his parents and relatives.


COATES: This is fascinating.

RIZZO: The judge did not allow that --


RIZZO: -- witness to come in.

COATES: Well, I mean, this is the really infancy of this trial. But, I mean, the prosecution is going to try to make their very strongest case in front of this jury. And for those who are thinking about deja vu, yes, Senator Menendez did face federal bribery charges related to a different scandal back in 2017 that ended in a mistrial.

Thank you both, Salvador Rizzo, Seth Berenzweig for your insight today. Thank you.

Well, up next, talking about spy novels, a daring escape by a notorious inmate, and it was all caught on camera. Gunmen ambush a prison convoy and bust out a convict known as "The Fly." How they did it and the international manhunt that is now underway, next.



COATES: A notorious prisoner in transport from court to prison. An ambush by mysterious gunmen. An escape and a manhunt. No, it is not the plot to the "Prison Break" remake or even the next great Shawshank. It is a true story out of France.

Mohamed Amra, a.k.a. "La Mouche," in English, "The Fly," he escaped after the prison convoy transporting him was hit head-on by another car, and then was attacked by gunmen. Two prison guards were killed and three were seriously injured. "The Fly" escaped. A massive international manhunt is now underway.

And here to break it all down is CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller. I mean, John, this is unbelievable. Walk us through this video. What are we seeing here? How did this go down?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So, Laura, what you look at when you see this video is basically law enforcement, SWAT, U.S. Special Forces tactics. That's a vehicle containment technique. It requires split-second timing. Ram the front, block them from behind, the toll booth traps them in so there's no escape.

And then you see, as soon as the truck passes, these gunmen deploy calmly, swiftly. There's no talk, there's no negotiation, they open fire, they take out the guards, then they extract the prisoner, Mohamed Amra, and they move him to a getaway car.

And while they're doing this, you see there's not a lot of running around. They manage their crossfire. And you'll note the guy in the rear, back by the back of the toll booth, you know, he's watching their flank. What you're seeing is almost Special Forces tactics. It's split-second timing, speed, the element of surprise, violence of action to overwhelm your opponents.

And in just a couple of minutes, they are off the set, they are in their getaway cars, they set fire to the car they used here, which he's doing in a minute, and then they find the getaway car is burned out, which means they already had switched cars. They leave the highway. They take the local roads, avoiding the license plate readers and the cameras. They trained for this. They knew what they were doing. COATES: The way you described it is unbelievable. I mean, there are Hollywood movies that can't pull off that sequence of events as fiction. This is real life with deadly consequences. I understand that Interpol has now put out a red notice. What does that mean for the manhunt? What will be the next steps?

MILLER: Well, a red notice for the International Police Organization is like being on the 10 most wanted list, but for the whole world.


MILLER: It means any border crossing, any passport reading, any arrest in a foreign country. And this, because he was in prison and had many more arrests, will include his fingerprints, which means if he's stopped by police, if he's arrested in another case, red lights just start blinking that you have an international fugitive on your hands.

But for the kind of criminal who put the level of planning into this escape and the level of violence where two guards were killed and three others wounded, he's going to be a little more careful than using anything with his real name on it.

COATES: Well, who is this guy? I mean, he's known as "The Fly," "La Mouche." We know his name, Mohamed Amra. But who is he? Why is he so infamous?

MILLER: You know, Laura, that's the most interesting question because he's not so infamous until today. He's a drug dealer with international connections, but not a cartel boss. He's in jail for 18 months on a string of burglaries of supermarkets, not exactly what a successful drug kingpin does in his spare time.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

MILLER: There's something about Mohamed Amra, "La Mouche," "The Fly," that we don't know, that made him worth getting out with a tactical team of criminals that could execute this job. We'll be following that to see if we can find out what that is.

COATES: This is unbelievable. John Miller, it's almost a little bit of your stomach drops trying to think about who and what and what entity wanted him to be out and why. John Miller, thank you so much.

MILLER: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: Well, ahead, here's another name, "Roaring Kitty." For the last few days, he may have been the most powerful person on Wall Street, motivating ordinary people to flood millions of dollars into meme stocks just by posting memes. The author who inspired the movie about the man joins me next.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNKNOWN: Everybody, Roaring Kitty here. I'm going to pick stock and talk about why I think it's interesting. And that stock is GameStop.

UNKNOWN: I love this guy.


COATES: Well, apparently, a lot of people do. So much so that "Roaring Kitty" is back in a very big way. And by that, I mean, he has managed to mobilize internet and moved markets again.

You might remember "Roaring Kitty" a.k.a. deep effing value, a.k.a. Keith Gill back from what? 2021. He was one of the leading forces that had non-professionals investors go up against big time hedge funds and drive up the price of stocks like GameStop, like AMC.


GameStop surged around 1600%, meaning if you had 100 bucks in GameStop right before the spike and sold all your shares at peak, you would have had $1,700. Sounds like a real David and Goliath kind of story, right?

Well, "Roaring Kitty" broke his three-years silence just on Sunday night, posting this on X, "It's a meme." GameStop itself posted months back showing a gamer leaning forward. Now, it basically means that things are getting serious. And then things not only got serious. Monday morning, GameStop stock price surged 74%. AMC, their shares went up, too.

And since then, "Roaring Kitty" has posted meme after meme. GameStop and AMC shares have pulled back, but they're still up significantly for the week. And a big question remained. Are these meme stock frenzies the new normal? Is it truly righteous rage against the machine or simply people looking to ride the wave and cash in?

I want to bring in Ben Mezrich, who is the author of "Dumb Money," which was made into the movie about all of this, part of which you saw off the top. Ben Mezrich, thank you so much for joining us. I wonder, he has now reemerged. Do you think that "Roaring Kitty" anticipated this rally when he made that post on Sunday?

BEN MEZRICH, AUTHOR: You know, it's crazy. I mean, nobody really knows what's going on or whether it's really even him or not. But I think it's more like he's retelling his story. If you look at what he has been posting, it's lots of movie scenes and things like that, which are kind of building up the sort of icon that he was when that all transpired.

And he talks about GameStop here and there, but it's less that he's trying to make people go buy GameStop than he is saying, look at what happened and this is who I am.

So, I don't know if people are interpreting it right, and I'm not sure whether he meant it to be interpreted one way or the other. But everyone rallied around him being back and the stock exploded. COATES: Gosh, if you're right and he was just sort of doing an autobiographical walkthrough history, remember this moment, maybe kind of the Google photos you might have on your phone that says, remember this from 2021? If he didn't intend this, what does this say then about the meme stock movement that all these investors were ready to go the second that he posted?

MEZRICH: Well, I mean, there's Tinder out there. You know, there's a lot of smoldering animosity. There's anger towards Wall Street. There's a lot of people who felt burned by what happened last time around. If you watch "Dumb Money," I mean, when they pulled out the buy button and you couldn't buy anymore and the rally crashed, a lot of people harbor a lot of anger about what happened and are just ready to go.

I think there's this huge untapped number of retail traders out there waiting for something like this. So, yeah, it's wild, but I think we're seeing the beginning of something and not the end.

COATES: You know, one of the things that has always fascinated me, and you see this time and time again, I mean, this idea of the everyday person, the everyman investor versus the Wall Street bigwigs. You know, they'll be quoting Gordon Gekko one moment and hoping for their own David and Goliath theme story the next. You've got Barstool's Dave Portnoy who had -- well, he had this theory. Listen.


DAVID PORTNOY, FOUNDER AND OWNER OF BARSTOOL SPORTS: The stock market is the world's, and I've said this, the world's biggest casino. And you have people in suits on Wall Street who act better than the everyday trader and like, oh, you're not informed and this isn't a game and you shouldn't be involved. Shut the (bleep) up. Those people are full of (bleep). It's all a game.


COATES: I mean, is that all this is? A game?


MEZRICH: You've got to love Dave. I mean, I think there's some of that. It's certainly a casino, but it's certainly a rigged casino to some extent. And for a lot of people, it's not a game. I think for a lot of people -- yeah, people want to make money. I mean, everyone wants to make money.

But everyone I've interviewed about this story, they aren't buying GameStop just to make money. They're trying to stick it to the man or make a statement or fight the good fight. I mean, people don't want to sell. Nobody wants to sell. Everyone wants to buy and nobody wants to sell. And that's why a lot of people get hurt in the end.

So, it's a little different than a casino in that you're not trying to walk out of it with money. You're trying to keep going and keep going all the way to the moon. So, there's something a little bit more complex going on. But listen, in the end, yeah, it is a casino.

COATES: That's interesting to think about, especially and I think a lot of people who are listening, you know, it's a learning curve to get to the point where you can really understand the stock world. And now, they're potentially back in this meme stock world. There's a whole lingo that comes along with it. I want you to help me with some of the definitions, please, on these things. So, a couple of them, paper hands and diamond hands. What do those terms mean?


MEZRICH: Yeah, diamond hands is like, you know, you're going to hold on forever. You're never going to let go. And paper hands is the people who, as soon as it goes up doubles or whatever, they sell.


MEZRICH: So, in the end, everyone kind of ends up being paper hands but the goal is to be diamond hands as long as you can.

COATES: All right. Well, how about this one? To the moon. Not, I'm assuming, a honeymooners' reference.

MEZRICH: No. This is one that's also carried on to the crypto phase. So, everyone in crypto says it, too. You know, nobody is happy with doubling their money or tripling their money anymore, especially young people. They want 10X, they want 100X, they want a thousand X. So, to the moon is really the new operating principle for young investors. Everyone is trying to go to the moon with their investment.

COATES: All right. Well, how about this one? I think this is a "Planet of the Apes" reference, but apes together strong.


MEZRICH: Yeah. So, everyone on Reddit called themselves apes. That's where it started. And all of Roaring Kitty's followers. And it really comes from, you know, the idea of "Planet Apes" movies where they bond together and apes together are stronger than sort of Wall Street than anybody. And when Wall Street took down -- when the apes took down Melvin Capital in the original story, I think that was, you know, the battle where the apes won in one instance. So, apes together strong is the rallying cry of the people who are jumping into this.

COATES: Oh, I love the original, especially in a spoiler. But when you see the statue, the head of the Statue of Liberty on the sand and you guys, it really went down. I'm just saying it's a heck of a movie and the whole lobotomy thing happening. Okay, I won't worry anymore for anyone. But anyway, Ben Mezrich, thank you so much for joining us and getting us understand all these memes. I appreciate it.

MEZRICH: Good luck. Thanks to the moon, everyone.


COATES: To the moon. There you go. MEZRICH: Yeah.

COATES: Well, thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues with "Anderson Cooper 360" next.