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Laura Coates Live

Judge Clears Courtroom After Tense Exchange With Witness; Diddy Apologizes After Video; ICC Seeks Arrest Warrants; Scarlett Johansson Slams OpenAI. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 20, 2024 - 23:00   ET



LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: It is putting the company on blast. Tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

All right, so just hours from now, we could get the answer to the one -- well, one of the main questions we've all had in Donald Trump's criminal trial. Will he actually take the stand and testify in his own defense?

Now, Trump, he has previously dangled the possibility. But, now, we're getting to the point where it's put up or shut up. Now, his attorney said that they don't call -- they're not going to call any more witnesses. And so, based on that, it seems like they're not going to call him. But in Trump world, you really don't know until the very last second, do you? And they really don't have to tell us until that very last second.

Now, if he doesn't, it will put a lot more weight on Michael Cohen's testimony. And today, Cohen's credibility took quite another hit with the revelation that he had stolen money from a Trump Organization. More on that in a "New York Minute."

But there was another person on the hot seat today, this time an eye- rolling, side-eye giving witness who annoyed the judge so much, the judge cleared the courtroom to dress him down. I'm talking about Robert Costello. A former adviser to Michael Cohen took the stand for the defense today and described an April 2018 meeting that he had with Cohen about the Stormy Daniels payments.

Now, from the transcript, and I'm quoting a question, "What did he say about that specific topic?" Costello answers, "Michael Cohen said numerous times that President Trump knew nothing about those payments, that he did this on his own, and he repeated that numerous times."

Now, that disputes, as you're aware, Cohen's assertion that he paid off Stormy Daniels at the direction of Trump and that Trump was aware of the alleged scheme to disguise reimbursements to Cohen. Now, the D.A. has provided documents and checks and invoices to try to support their 34-account case. But the D.A. has still relied quite heavily, even though it was pre-corroborated on Cohen's testimony to connect all of these different dots.

Now, throughout the entire trial, the jury has heard a lot of nasty things about Michael Cohen from various witnesses. Here is just a sampling on your screen. And today, they got one more bit of unflattering information to consider, because on the stand today, Cohen himself admitted to stealing from the Trump Organization. Cohen admitted that he -- when he said he needs to be reimbursed $50,000 from paying an I.T. firm to help Trump for polling and such, it turns out he only paid them 20 grands. And by the way, it was in a brown paper bag, I can't make this up, meaning he was selling $30,000 for himself.

Now, point blank from the transcript question, "You never gave the $30,000 that was owed to the guy that owned Red Finch, did you? Answer: No. No, sir. Question: So, you stole from the Trump Organization, right? Answer: Yes, sir.

Well, I want to bring in a reporter who was in court today, law enforcement reporter for "The Washington Post," Devlin Barrett. Devlin, I have been looking to you as my -- well, not the David Pecker type, but my eyes and ears into the courtroom day in and day out in Manhattan. It was another dramatic day. Let me read for our audience what happened after Judge Merchan cleared the courtroom. Okay?

Judge Merchan told Costello, "I'm putting you on notice that your conduct is contemptuous. If you try to stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand. I will strike his entire testimony. Do you understand me?" Defense attorney Bove replied, yes, judge, I understand. Then the judge said, "Listen to the question and answer the question." Costello then chimed in, "Can I say something, please?" The judge, "No. No. This is not a conversation."

Now, frankly, this could also have been in my house talking to my children. But peel back the curtain for us because this point tells us so much. What was the atmosphere like?

DEVLIN BARRETT, LAW ENFORCEMENT REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: So, as telling as those words are and they are very telling, I got to say, in the room, you could see the anger boiling between those two guys a long time before it actually came to actual words between them. And that's important.

COATES: Between the judge and the witness?

BARRETT: Yes. The judge and the witness were mad at each other. They were driving each other bonkers before the jury left the room. It was -- it was not really verbal but the body language between them was terrible as Costello kept talking over the judge's sustained objections. And, you know, look, Bob Costello is a very long practicing lawyer. He knows exactly what objection sustained means, and he kept going. And that clearly infuriated the judge. And the body language was terrible. And at that moment, the jury gets sent out of the room.

And, you know -- you know, I've talked about this before. I think jurors really, really focus in on the body language of the lawyers, particularly the judge.

COATES: Uh-hmm. [23:05:00]

BARRETT: And I think the jury saw everything they needed to see just in the facial expressions and the posture of those two men before the judge and the witness started really -- when -- before the judge really started going after the witness.

COATES: What was the terrible body language? What was going on?

BARRETT: Merchan, I think, was just flabbergasted that this, again, veteran lawyer, who knows what objection sustained means, keeps talking over the objection. And, you know, I think there was --there was a moment where -- where Bob Costello waved his hand and in sort of exasperation, like, can you believe this? He didn't say those words but, you know, you know what that hand expression is. I feel like human beings actually understand each other's body language pretty well.

And he just sorts of waved his hand, like, give me a break with this. And boy, the judge did not like that, and the judge stiffened. And from that point on, it really was just a matter of time before the judge ordered -- ordered the jury out to talk to Costello.

COATES: What are the jury -- were they obviously reacting to this today? Were they kind of having, you know, a tennis match head looking -- because up until now, I mean, Merchan has been described as somebody who has been even killed. I've been in the courtroom. He has been. He's quite in control.

There was even a point in time, a few weeks ago now in the trial, where the defense counsel asked the judge not to, if Trump were to testify, bring up any ruling that he had made about holding in contempt of court or fighting a violation because it looked they respect you so much and they're going to -- if you say it and tell them that you ordered this or rule this, it will be very prejudicial. So, they've already respected him. What was a jury doing now?

BARRETT: So, in that moment, you got to remember that the judge and the witness sit very close to each other. I think that was part of the reason why there was so much tension, because there wasn't any distance. They were all of two or three feet away from each other. So, the juror -- the jury was just trained on the two of them.

And you could see the jurors, you know, sort of center of gravity, their center of focus sort of shift just to what was happening on the witness stand. And like I said, it was very clear that what Costello was doing was infuriating to the judge, so much so that when he did he starts yelling -- yelling at the witness, right?

And then, at some point, he gets so mad that Costello was angrily staring at him. And to be clear, I was in the room, he was definitely angrily staring at him that he ordered the courtroom cleared so that he could yell at the witness some more without all the reporters around which -- to be honest, I haven't seen that before. You know, plenty of people like to yell at each other in front of reporters in my experience. But he -- COATES: You know what, I don't think that was clear to the audience. I think when people talk about the courtroom being cleared, they thought the jury was alone to leave. You mean the whole courtroom was cleared for this dress down?

BARRETT: Oh, the whole -- well, the whole courtroom except for Trump supporters who are in his rows. It was really just the press and the public that had to leave.


BARRETT: And so, the -- as soon as the judge said that, the court officer started yelling at all the reporters. Fair enough. That's sort of how court officers operate. But it was really a fairly loud confusing situation because at that point, the reporters themselves start objecting and asking to be heard on the question of, if you're going to yell at this witness, shouldn't the public know that, shouldn't the public hear that? And so, it was a fairly confusing few minutes.

COATES: Wow! Devlin, stick around. This is adding a whole another element. I want to continue the conversation with senior political correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal," Molly Ball, CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams, criminal defense attorney Bill Brennan represented Donald Trump's payroll corporation in a tax fraud trial and Trump's counsel during second impeachment, and former assistant U.S. attorney Kim Wehle.

I mean, first of all, let me just for a moment take a second. To clear the courtroom to have someone and a witness be dressed down, have you ever seen anything like that, Elliot? And then, of course, the press to say, we want to stay not because they're just nosy, we want to know what's going on, that, for this judge, seems shocking.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, how abnormal this is, it goes back to the Constitution, Kim's world, which is that the Constitution guarantees open trials and virtually every proceeding. It's not just that we'd like to have people and the media visiting court. It's because this -- it's -- it's a value in the United States. And so the idea that a judge is kicking the press out for at least a temporary moment is quite significant.

Now, why did that happen? Think of it this way. That there are -- Bill and I were talking about this earlier today -- there are circumstances where jurors don't like a prosecutor. Some people didn't like me, as odd as that may seem.

COATES: It's very odd.

WILLIAMS: It's very odd.

COATES: You're very likable.

WILLIAMS: Very likeable. Likeable enough. Some may not like the defense attorney. Everybody respects the judge. They -- they see the robe, they see the authority, they see the person sitting from up on high. And when that is questioned or challenged, it's a problem in the courtroom and it's an anomaly. And so, the judge had to maintain some order. This is not something you see because it was a remarkable moment.

COATES: Well, we think about the value of his testimony that we think about this. I mean, the fact that he's there, up until that point, everyone had been talking about Michael Cohen, right?


They've been talking about the revelations although the prosecution had tangentially referenced the idea that he had taken some money in the past and direct. It was a bombshell that came out for at least us observing it. But then it fitted entirely to Costello. Did he serve a purpose other than to have this headline now about having to clear a courtroom?

WILLIAM J. BRENNAN, FORMER TRUMP PAYROLL CORPORATION ATTORNEY: Laura, whatever benefit that they hope to get from Mr. Costello was far outweighed by the detriment of this interchange with Judge Merchan. And the proof of that is we're sitting here tonight not talking about a disbarred lawyer stealing $60,000 from his client, we're talking about --

COATES: You mean, the 30 plus times 2 --


COATES: -- 30 from the Fred Finch and then times 2 for the tax purposes to then get to that eventual for a point?



BRENANN: Which is, as you say, a bombshell. Instead, we're talking about this nonsense because a witness decides to make it all about himself. You know, Elliot is right. Jurors like judges as a rule, and I spent a lot of time with Judge Merchan. He's exceptionally likable. He's Steven Spielberg's version of a judge. And the jury, it's not going to play well with the jury. And again, just from a strategy standpoint, they knocked it out of the park today with this $60,000 theft. You know, in the world of attorney misdeeds, stealing from a client is like first-degree murder.

COATES: I mean --

BRENNAN: We're talking about some -- some guy that made it all about himself and picked a battle he couldn't win.

COATES: Kim, the purpose of Costello, it seems, was to suggest that Michael Cohen was not to be believed. That there was, in fact -- no dangling of pardon, I think, was part of what his strategy is supposed to be in talking about -- and wholly discredit him in that realm. We are not talking about that. The jury likely remembers the moment they were cleared from a courtroom. But what purpose would he have started with the prosecution? Were you nervous about having Costello testify?

KIM WEHLE, AUTHOR: Well, it -- it sounds like, as you indicated, that they wanted him to, first of all, dispute Michael Cohen's story about what Trump did and did not know, which is almost a stand-in for Donald Trump himself, right? So, that's the key issue here. Did Donald Trump direct these payments? Really, the only direct testimony is Michael Cohen's testimony.

I think the other piece is this this kind of insinuation that Cohen had, that Donald Trump was somehow messaging through Costello and Giuliani. Listen, if you keep quiet, you know, I'll take care of you. And it sounds like the defense thought that was significant enough that they needed to rebut it.

But I agree to disrespect the judge like this, particularly given that Trump and his posse are out there trashing the judge every day after court. We've got multiple contempt citations for Donald Trump for disrespecting the judge. The judge has to understand there are much bigger implications around the country for this behavior, not just in front of the jury, which might be why, to Elliot's point, that he decided to balance the fairness of the trial and the security of the trial in -- over the right of the press to be there.

WILLIAMS: Even though -- even though it didn't have -- the conference with the attorneys didn't happen in front of the jury, they saw --

WEHLE: They saw.

WILLIAMS: -- they saw the conflagration right before that and no full well that the witness was getting scolded. And they're going to judge that witness. And quite frankly, the defendant --


All of the above it that.

COATES: This is the equivalent of, give us a moment, would you? Right? Let me -- let me talk to you for a second, privately. They know what's going on in the realm. But you know what? Donald Trump came out and talked about this. He said he alluded, after the courthouse conference, to suggest that the way he treated Costello. He mentioned it.

But there was a moment -- I wonder if you can explain for us, too. There has always been this tension politically. Trump on the campaign trail, Trump as the president, Trump as his own best spokesperson, wants people to believe that he is in control. Full stop. But this defense has to suggest that he was hustled by someone like Michael Cohen. Can he balance that in a way that he comes out looking good on the campaign trail?

MOLLY BALL, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, the other thing we know about Donald Trump is that he demands that people defend him at all times, right? He's always got to be surrounded by these sorts of yes men who are singing his praises and the -- all of the coterie of Republican politicians who have come to court to stand beside him and say the things that he can't say.

And so, you do get the sense. I mean, this is the first and potentially only defense witness and -- and they didn't have to call anyone. But -- but you get the sense that, you know, Trump felt he needed to be defended. He needed someone up there saying what he couldn't say even if it was going to end up being damaging, even if it wasn't a good idea legally. He always demands that there is someone, you know, speaking in his defense, and you get the sense, you know, he probably wants to do it, he probably will be talked out of it.

It seemed that -- I'm not a legal expert, but it seems to be the unanimous opinion of the legal profession, that he should not testify by any means, but you can feel how much he wants to do it and how much he yearns to have someone up there speaking for him in this case even if that's not necessarily a good idea in court.


COATES: And, of course, the people who are behind him in the courtroom. He's certainly trying to send a message that way. I wonder what the jurors feel. That's -- that's the big question that everyone is wondering still. We don't have the answer to. How do they receive the information? Are they following along? Are they leaning in on what we perceive as the biggest moment in the court, or they're thinking, uh, about it, or are they thinking on other issues? That's the moment. This is what is so telling and so intriguing, really, about the justice system in America. Thank you to all of you.

Up next, Diddy releasing -- I'm not going to call it an apology, but the word "sorry" was in there, sure, days after video showed him assaulting Cassie in a Los Angeles hotel.


SEAN "DIDDY" COMBS, RAPPER, RECORD PRODUCER, RECORD EXECUTIVE: I'm not asking for forgiveness. I'm truly sorry.


COATES: My next guest says his words, meaningless. Plus, did one of the most well-known A.I. companies try to imitate the voice of Scar Jo even after her refusals? She says, yes. And now, she has lawyered up.



COATES: Tonight, backlash is growing after CNN exclusively revealed video showing music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs attacking his then- girlfriend, Cassie Ventura, in 2016. Well, now, Diddy says that he's apologizing.


COMBS: My behavior on that video is inexcusable. I take full responsibility for my actions in that video. I'm disgusted. I was disgusted then when I did it. I'm disgusted now.


COATES: Diddy is disgusted now. That's not how he felt in December after Cassie sued him for rape and abuse because back then, Diddy said he didn't do it. Back then, Diddy said that people like Cassie were trying to -- quote -- "assassinate my character, destroy my reputation and my legacy." Diddy said then, they were -- quote -- "looking for a quick payday." Then, remember the timeline, the video came out on Friday. Video I'm about to show you again. I must remind you, it is very disturbing, because it shows a woman cowering on a hotel floor in Los Angeles as Diddy was kicking her and dragging her, throwing objects toward her.

The L.A. County D.A. said it cannot prosecute Diddy for this incident because the statute of limitations on domestic violence cases is five years. And recall, this was 2016. The public fallout is snowballing. "The Hollywood Reporter" says that streaming activity for Diddy dropped by as much as 50% last week compared to December of 2023. New York City's mayor, Eric Adams, is considering revoking Diddy's key to the city after watching the video. Remember, Mayor Adams is a former police officer. And Diddy faces at least five civil lawsuits and a federal criminal probe, all of which came after Cassie's lawsuit.

Well, joining me now is Salamishah Tillett. She's a Pulitzer Prize- winning professor at Rutgers University and also president of the nonprofit Along Walk Home, which works to end violence against women and girls. Salamishah, thank you so much for being here.

I had to tell you, when I heard that -- well, I guess we're calling it an apology video, that's how he'd like people to think about it. As an apology video, I'm assuming. It began a whole lot about him. His dark place, he said, that he was in. His feelings about being disgusted by it. I do know that Diddy not mention Cassie in the apology. Apparently, neither of them is allowed to speak about the other publicly because of the terms of their settlement. But did he Approach this or apologize in a way that demonstrated remorse?

SALAMISHAH TILLET, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING PROFESSOR AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Well, first of all, thank you for having me on your show and also just for the work that you've done for so long on behalf of victims of domestic violence.

COATES: Thank you.

TILLET: So, the apology -- yeah, you're welcome. So the apology -- so one question, you know, that comes to mind quickly is, would he have given this apology if there were no video? And the answer is clearly no, because he had several months since the lawsuit was filed in December to come forward with remorse, contrition or some accountability. So, we didn't see any of that. And I think pretty consistently until this moment, he has denied all of these allegations.

So, now, we have this video, this very clear video of violence. And now, we have an apology. And so, I think that's why it kind of rings hollow for so many people, because there have been so many opportunities before this moment to make amends or to show some remorse or accountability. In fact, what he has been saying consistently is that these people are liars, that she's, in fact, a liar. So, that's -- that's one thing.

The other thing I want to say, too, is that, as you pointed out, according to the settlement agreement, they can't speak about each other. But it does seem to me that if you're genuinely honest in your desire to make amends, to tone, to be held accountable by some standard, you may want to go back and look at that, and maybe have her -- release her from her inability to speak about you publicly.

So, it doesn't really seem like there's any actual attempts to make amends with the victim of the violence, in this case, Cassie, and there's no attempt to really show a systemic way of -- toning -- toning oneself in public. It just seems like the video is the only form in which we're seeing contrition.

COATES: You make a great point although you are free to contract and settlements as you see fit.


There is a level of silence that now you have to abide by and giving some protection to the person that you are accusing. You talk about accountability. I think it's important to mention this. People may recall Megan Thee Stallion. And she had this incredible op-ed that she wrote. And I think it's poignant now to revisit because of the way she described how she was treated when she made an allegation against somebody in the industry, and how, as a woman, she was received. And there -- there was this -- remember, the -- she alluded to this after the fellow rapper, Tory Lanez, is convicted of shooting her in the foot.

And she wrote before the verdict -- quote -- "Even some of my peers in the music industry piled on with memes, jokes, and sneak disses, and completely ignored the fact that I could have lost my life. Instead of condemning any form of violence against a woman, these individuals tried to justify my attacker's actions."

Similarly, when her allegations first came out, Cassie I'm talking about, there were so many who doubted, so many who were blaming her, and there appeared to be this culture of silence that she was supposed to have abided by. Why is that present?

TILLET: Well, one of the things I find striking about this video and people now suddenly believing that she may have been, in fact, telling the truth is that the lawsuit was so detailed in its description. And so, detailed in the repetition of the behavior that it seemed to me that it would be hard not to believe her.

But now that we have this video evidence, I guess there are more people who are seeing that this, in fact, may have happened and that at least in this one moment, that she wasn't telling a lie.

For me, when I watched this video and probably for you and many other people out there, I also see a woman who's trying to escape a violent situation. And so, oftentimes, domestic violence victims are blamed because people say, why didn't they leave or why couldn't they get out? And so, what you see here repeatedly is someone trying to escape a really, really, really deadly -- almost deadly or very violent situation, right? She's going to the elevator. She's on the telephone. She's literally on the ground trying to avoid blows.

And so, if anything, and I think this is a really humiliating video to be released, I think this is something that she would not have wanted to be in the public sphere for us to see. And yet, I do think it proves how difficult it is and how many individuals and institutions cover up or basically allow this behavior to happen, right? So there had to be someone who watched this video and didn't send it to the police.

I mean, there's just so many layers to that video and the ways in which she remained trapped in that situation despite the fact that she was trying to escape. So, that's one thing. I just want to say that we have evidence of her leaving and being pulled back literally into a situation that she could not offend herself or defend herself from.

But then the other question is, why wasn't she believed when there's -- there was someone had physical evidence of this? And I think it goes back to this idea that very few survivors, when they come forward, are believed. Most people, I think, you know, are identified with the people who are the perpetrators of the crime or the people who are -- the allegations are against. Very few people identify with the victims.

And so, that thing that happens in our head that we naturally identify with those who are in power versus those we see as powerless often happens with, you know, you've seen this in your work, with victims of domestic violence or in other cases, sexual assault.

And then you have the race aspect here. African-American women, Black women, women of color are oftentimes under-believed. We're not seen as the ideal or the perfect victim of sexual assault for a lot of reasons but mostly historical reasons going back to who was seen as someone --

COATES: Jezebel.

TILLET: -- who could be raped. The Jezebel image back to slavery. And that just stays with us. It hasn't really just gone away because we've had gains. It's still there. So, I think Black women in general, women of color, often are not seen as victims of violence. And therefore, when they come forward with these allegations, there's a knee-jerk response of, well, they're probably lying or it's maybe more complicated than what we hear --


TILLET: -- or we have video evidence. But now, maybe we finally believe them. Sorry.

COATES: No, no. I'm so glad you're speaking because it's so important. I really do hear you when you speak about these issues because, you know, maybe it's time for us -- you use the word humiliating. To me, it's humiliating to be a part of a society that would engage in behavior that assumes that one can have a presumption of innocence for one who is accused, but then give an extraordinary burden on somebody who is seeking help. It doesn't compute in some of these minds.


Salamishah Tillet, thank you so much.

TILLET: Thank you.

COATES: And if you or someone that you know is a victim of domestic violence and needs help, you can call the domestic violence hotline. That number, 800-799-SAFE. That's 800-799-7233.

Well, up next, the International Criminal Court said that it is seeking arrest warrants for the leader of Hamas and Israel's prime minister. And President Biden isn't having it.

Plus, did OpenAI rip off Scarlett Johansson's voice? Tonight, she's calling out one of the top tech companies, and she's lawyering up.


COATES: The International Criminal Court is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leader of Hamas. I say seek because a panel of ICC judges will now consider the application for the warrants.


That's not stopping President Biden from coming out forcefully against the ICC, saying there is no equivalency between Israel and Hamas.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Let me be clear. We reject the ICC's application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders.


Whatever these warrants may imply, there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.


Contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice, what's happening is not genocide.


COATES: Well, he made those remarks from the White House at a Jewish American Heritage Month celebration. Now, while Biden is trying to show up Jewish support, he's still facing a growing faction of his own party that wants to see him doing more to help the Palestinian people. Molly Ball is back with us now along with Dan Raviv, a former CBS News foreign correspondent and the author of "Spies Against Armageddon." Karen Finney, a CNN political commentator, is also joining us, and Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman. First of all, Karen, that's a pretty full-throated response and reaction. How will that play for him politically?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's going to please some people. And as we've seen, it is going to anger others. I mean, for the folks who have been protesting, I don't -- they're not going to like that. They probably were happy with what they heard coming out of the ICC today.

But I thought it was interesting the way this played out. So, the president was very strong. You had Secretary of State Antony Blinken also with a very strong statement that really undermined the investigation. At the same time, the readout that we saw from the meeting that Jake Sullivan had in the region, he still raised concerns about Rafah and about humanitarian assistance and what's happening to the Palestinian people, which I think is important, right?

Again, it goes to something you and I have talked about before. What you have to do diplomatically is not necessarily what you have to do politically although, in this instance, the president, I think, is leading with what is the right thing to do.

DAN RAVIV, AUTHOR: Well, Karen, you're right, there is still division, therefore, between Biden and Netanyahu. They've been friends, as they like to say, or maybe frenemies, for decades. And lately, of course, President Biden has stepped up the criticism of Netanyahu. And I think the administration here in Washington has generally been saying that Israel would be better off without Netanyahu. The message has been clear to Israelis.

But this attempt to bring Netanyahu, well, under arrest to the international court, suddenly, the U.S. and Israel make common cause. Even inside Israel, Netanyahu's opposition has come out in favor of him. They're so insulted by this ICC move. So, for today, at least, it's good for Netanyahu.

BALL: It really seems to have been a gift to him. I mean, you have a lot of the Democrats who have been increasingly critical of Israel. As the war has gone on, we are coming to it. It reminded me a little bit of when the rocket attack on Israel happened. And suddenly, Israel has allies. It really was a reminder of which side the U.S. is on. And I think it may backfire on the court more than anything.

COATES: You know, there was a moment I want to play for everyone. He was speaking at Morehouse's commencement over the weekend, the president of the United States was. And you remember, there were calls for him not to even deliver the speech at the college over the White House's stance on Israel. Here's what he said.


BIDEN: It's a humanitarian crisis in God. That's why I've called for an immediate ceasefire. An immediate ceasefire to stop the fighting.


Bring the hostages home. And I've been working on a deal as we speak. Working around the clock to lead an international effort to get more aid into Gaza.


COATES: As Karen made the point, Joe, I mean, he's going to have to placate a lot of different sides of an issue and try to be the panacea politically. Is it working? Can he do that?

JOE WALSH, FORMER ILLINOIS REPRESENTATIVE: He's trying to play it both ways. This is a tough issue because this divides his coalition. But he's got to do and say what he believes. And what we heard from Biden today again is what he believes. It is outrageous, what the ICC did. There is no moral equivalence. Israel is not committing genocide. Forget what I believe. That's what Biden believes. He's got a divided coalition. I think, Laura, what hurts him is when American voters see him vacillating back and forth on this issue. Be strong. Be what he believes. And he needs to get those voters in the middle.

COATES: You know, one thing, the U.S. and Israel, they're not members of the ICC, by the way. But they still are supporting the ICC's investigation into the Russian war and the war crimes in Ukraine. You talk about playing both sides. Can the U.S. have it both ways in that realm?

RAVIV: In general, the U.S. is against the ICC. It is true. Russia, Vladimir Putin, they are bad guys, so the U.S. didn't mind that there's even a warrant for Putin. That's true. But in general, the U.S. is against the ICC.

COATES: Why is that?

RAVIV: Well, frankly, because there's a fear among U.S. officials that the U.S. military, U.S. commanders, also could be named for alleged war crimes in a lot of the action that the U.S. military takes.


Don't forget, if we're talking about the Middle East, especially, war is dirty, war is difficult, and so all sorts of charges can come up, and it could be a problem for the U.S. if the U.S. allowed itself to be open to that.


BALL: It's exactly for the reason of things like this, right, where you have warrants issued that are questionable in the eyes of many, certainly in the eyes of allies of Israel, and that's precisely the reason that the U.S. and Israel haven't joined the ICC, because they don't trust it to be fair and impartial and give all nations the same treatment. COATES: What's next, though? I mean, let's just -- it is the first time the ICC is targeting a U.S. ally, by the way. Wouldn't a member country actually seek to enforce these arrest warrants if this actually goes through, and what would be the reaction of the United States? What ought it to be?

FINNEY: Well, I think it depends on how the rest of this unfolds. I mean, it's sort of interesting if you think about, you know, leading up to this, even internally in Israel, the war cabinet, we were seeing reports, was pushing Netanyahu to say, where's the plan? So, I think part of it will depend on can they get the warrants and how does the rest of this unfold, as to whether -- and I mean the full system, as to whether or not people would then try to enforce those.

RAVIV: Karen, if the warrant is approved by the ICC judges, you'll find Netanyahu and his defense minister not visiting key countries like Britain and France that are committed to carrying out warrants like this. But you're right, within Israel right now, it's are you -- are they going to completely invade Rafah or not?

Jake Sullivan, the president's national security advisor, had meetings with all the top Israelis, and he was listening. In that readout also from the U.S. side, he was listening to the Israelis and their Rafah plan. He wasn't negating it.

FINNEY: That's right.

WALSH: But politically, this was a gift to Biden, and he took advantage of it, because I think this really strengthens him.

COATES: Hmm. It's very curious to see how this will all unfold, and what will happen next. Thank you so much, everyone.

Ahead, does this sound familiar?


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Are you about to reveal something about A.I., or more specifically about me as a part of Open A.I?


COATES: Scarlett Johansson says it really does sound familiar, and she is calling out the A.I. company behind it. What does Kara Swisher think about it? Well, she's here. Well, she's there. She's here, next.





UNKNOWN (voice-over): Keep going. Keep going. And stop. Now, walk forward. Everyone thinks you're really drunk right now. And stop. Now say, I'd like a slice of cheese, please.

UNKNOWN: I'd like a slice of cheese, please.

UNKNOWN: You want a Coke with that?


UNKNOWN: Uh, sure.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): I figured you were hungry.


COATES: What you just saw was a clip from the 2013 movie, "Her." The scene depicts what a date with artificial intelligence might just look like. The A.I.-assistant voiced by none other than Scarlett Johansson. And let's fast forward to today because the tech company, OpenAI, announces ChatGPT version 4.0. And as part of the launch, it debuted a voice assistant. So, what does it sound like? Well, let's watch the demo.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): The announcement is about me? Well, color me intrigued. Are you about to reveal something about A.I, or more specifically about me as a part of OpenAI? You've got me on the edge of my, well, I don't really have a seat, but you get the idea. What's the big news?


COATES: Now, that's OpenAI's new Sky voice. Does it sound familiar? Well, immediately following the demo, in that demo, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman sent out a tweet. One word. Her. Now, Johansson is speaking up. She's saying that she turned down not one, but two offers from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman to have her voice the chat GPT system.

She's saying this in a statement: "When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered, and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine." Scarlett Johansson lawyered up. And tonight, the Sky voice is on pause. OpenAI saying the Sky voice was not derived from Johansson's, but instead belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice.

Joining me now, CNN contributor and author of "Burn" book, Kara Swisher. All right, Kara, first of all, is the Sky voice yours? Is that the big news right now? What's going on?



Yes, Kara A.I. I'm not even here right now. This Kara is gone. This is Kara A.I.

COATES: I always suspected that. But what do you think? Did it actually sound like Scarlett Johansson to you?

SWISHER: A little bit. I mean, they were trying for that tone of voice. I mean, people in Silicon Valley have been long been intrigued by the movie for many, many years. I never liked it that much. And also, they didn't realize how it ended, which was not happy. But they, for some reason, think this is the ideal thing to create, which is an A.I. you can date, you know, as a geeky person.

But, you know, it does sound like her. It's her tone of voice, and they were going for it. And obviously, they pursued her, so they wanted that voice. And I do know many people in Silicon Valley are intrigued with the concept of that --

COATES: Interesting.

SWISHER: -- of a flirty, you know, color me surprised, I don't have a seat, sort of this idea of an A.I. you can have a relationship with.

COATES: I mean, having watched the movie, it is intriguing that they didn't maybe watch all the way to the end.


But OpenAI's ChatGPT -- GPT, excuse me, is the name when it comes to artificial intelligence. But this seems like a pretty big -- I mean, blunder to have launched it, and then to have it be on pause. What does this say about the way the company maybe predicted or is operating? What would come next?

SWISHER: Well, welcome to startup land. This is not a big company even though it is worth a lot. You know, it is competing against big companies, including Microsoft, which is an investor, but Amazon, Meta, Google, Google Alphabet.

And so, it is trying very hard to maintain a lead, so it doesn't become Netscape, which is what happened in the first iteration of the internet where a very pioneering company got crushed, essentially.

And so, it's trying to do all kinds of things. It also had a little history of, you know, the fight between the safety people and the move ahead with products people. That sort of reared its head last week when several safety people left the company and said they're focusing on shiny new products and not safety.

So, it has been a bit of turmoil at the startup, but this is super common to companies. This one is not great because you're going against Scarlett Johansson. As you know, from the Disney fight, I would bet on Scarlett Johansson. I'll be honest with you.

COATES: Probably five to seven days a week, you should bet on her in that capacity.


COATES: But let me ask you, I mean, we're talking about it. I mean, sometimes, startups love to have some buzz, and people are now talking about the Sky voice, and is it her, is it not her, and you say it's not her.

SWISHER: Uh-hmm.

COATES: Will this actually hurt or help the company in the long run?

SWISHER: I don't think it's good. It goes to credibility and things like that, along with this other stuff that was happening there last week of some departures. You know, I think the question is, OpenAI started with this idea of a public-private partnership, and it's very difficult to maintain because it really is a for-profit company and there's so much money to be made. And so, you're going to see these kinds of shortcuts happening.

You know, the image of tech right now around A.I. is it's stealing and grabbing everything. So, this is not good for the general idea. And then, a couple weeks ago, Apple had its crushed video, where they were crushing artwork and things like that. It looked like they were crushing creators. You know, creators, especially in Hollywood, are very worried about what A.I. means in terms of taking their voices, and here they did it.

COATES: That's a very interesting point, about the way it's perceived. It's not necessarily perceived as additive in so many ways. It's often perceived as a threat.


COATES: Remember the strikes of just, what, last summer?

SWISHER: Uh-hmm.

COATES: "The Daily Show' recently had some words for ChatGPT 4-0's new voice assistant. Listen to this.


UNKNOWN: You can really tell that a man built this tech. She's like, I have all the information in the world, but I don't know anything.


Teach me, daddy.




COATES: I mean, is there a point that she's making here? I mean, this idea of -- is bro culture part of Silicon Valley?

SWISHER: You know, it is, obviously. But I think more importantly is they just take whatever they want. I have always called, you know, from Google to Facebook to all the others. They're sort of rapacious information thieves. And so, this is what that feels like. It's like they tried to get Scarlett Johansson. She said no. And they're like, oh, we'll make someone who's like Scarlett Johansson.

You know, it sorts of shows that lack of care, and it's not a good look for Silicon Valley, this idea that they can take and grab anything they want. And this is why I always talk about with you, Laura, regulators getting in here and understanding who's running things. But right now, it's big companies and well-funded companies like OpenAI. They can do what they want.

COATES: I got to tell you, I nominate you to be the voice of whatever it would be. I would take it seriously in a heartbeat.

SWISHER: Really?

COATES: I mean, I want you to be my new Waze voice, frankly, and just navigate it on.

SWISHER: I'll just say, put down that phone, Laura. You're on it too much.


Put it down.

COATES: It's coming across the car play. What are you talking about, Kara? Don't call me out. I would never, never. Kara Swisher, thank you so much.

SWISHER: Thanks a lot, Laura.

COATES: You know, ahead, I smile just thinking about her. A tribute to a dear friend and one of CNN's own back in a moment.



COATES: Before we say good night, I want to say a few words about a dear friend and colleagues to all of here at CNN, Alice Stewart. Alice was a veteran Republican political adviser and a CNN political commentator since 2016. She died this weekend after a medical emergency while she was outside. It was sudden, it was shocking, and it was -- and is absolutely heartbreaking. She was just 58 years old.

I had the pleasure of knowing Alice on air where she was on this show so many times. But I also knew her behind the scenes. And what I saw was someone who was beloved, a straight shooter with what she believed, incredibly kind with how she treated others. You will always know that she was guided by her moral compass.

And she was unapologetic about her views. But she was always civil, and she was always interested in your viewpoints as much as her own. She never tried to change your mind, but she did have the ability to change hearts. Every time she was in the room, you were met with the same smile that always made your date that much better.

You know, we, in the worlds now, we think about a true believer, and we use it as a disparaging term. But to me, I knew that she truly believed in her values. She truly believed in the things that she said. And she didn't blame you for the things you believed in. She was not a provocateur as so many who proclaim to believe are. She said what she felt because it was her calling.


And I will always hold very dear our conversations, our private moments together. Her being my guest host on Sirius XM where I look forward to her curious and wonderful wit, and her ability to welcome everyone in the conversation and make it that much better. And where will you say you should never talk politics with friends? She broke that rule because she remained a friend to so many.

And I will deeply miss Alice Stewart, her grace and spirit, and so will so many others who she touched.