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Laura Coates Live

CNN Covers Trump Hush Money Trial; Trump Backtracks On Potential Birth Control Restrictions; Criminal Investigation Is Underway In Matthew Perry's Death; Laura Coates Interviews NFL Legend Emmitt Smith; Laura Coates Interviews The Original Siri Voice Actor. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 21, 2024 - 23:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Now, that is quite a life for any person. But now, he finally got to cross become an astronaut off of his bucket list.


ED DWIGHT, FIRST BLACK ASTRONAUT CANDIDATE: There are a lot of people that are happy, and I'm more worried about making other people happy than making myself happy, so that all worked out.



PHILLIP: If it were up to Dwight, this would be just the beginning. When he was asked what else on his bucket list is there that he wants to do, Dwight says he'd like to go into orbit.

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

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: No more testimony. no more witnesses. The jury in the Trump trial gets ready to finally have its say. Plus, Trump says one thing about birth control restrictions, only to then say another. So, what does he actually believe? And there's a new twist in the death of Matthew Perry. Why a criminal investigation has now been launched? All tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

You know, it occurs to me that some nights, it might be really easy to forget that none of what we've been seeing is actually anywhere near normal. That might be in the rearview mirror, frankly. A former president running for re-election surrounded by legal carnage, one might also become numb to the headlines.

But, you know, tonight is one of those nights where the flood of news very quickly reminds you just how unusual this really all is. Just bear with me for just a moment. Remember the classified documents case? Well, today, we learned something new, that Trump had some classified docs in his Mar-a-Lago bedroom, yes, his bedroom, months after the FBI searched the resort. That's according to new court documents.

And today, we got some new photos showing his body man and co- defendant, Walt Nauta, moving boxes around Mar-a-Lago before Trump's attorney was even to review them. Nata and Trump, they've both pleaded not guilty to mishandling the documents. And that trial, however, likely won't happen before the election.

In Arizona, go west, Trump is not facing any charges there, but his allies are. Today, 11 of them, including Rudy Giuliani, were arraigned on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election. They're in favor, of course, of Donald Trump. Giuliani and others have pleaded not guilty to what, fraud, conspiracy, forgery?

Then there's Atlanta where Trump himself now is facing state charges for his efforts in trying to interfere with the 2020 election. And today, the D.A. there, Fani Willis, well, she just won her democratic primary. But as far as the trial goes, there is absolutely no guarantee that she will be able to prosecute this case before the election.

And the case is stalled while a court hears an appeal to kick her off of the case. The judge that presides over that case, by the way, he was also up for an election. Remember, he'd been appointed initially. Well, he just won his election and now a four-year term as a result.

Now, it's a lot, I confess, and it is very unusual. And it's all part of the reason why the very case that people initially criticized the Manhattan D.A., Alvin Bragg, for having the audacity to go first on, well, that criminal trial in Manhattan, it didn't just go first. We don't know how distant a second or a third or a fourth trial will ever be.

So, all eyes now are on that very trial precisely because it is currently, as we are sitting here today talking, the only case that is guaranteed to have a conclusion at all, let alone one that might come before the election. It should come before the election. I mean, you have closing arguments next week. God help us all if it does not come before the election, but a conclusion that could now come in just a matter of days.

And today, on the day 20 of his hush money trial, the defense rested their case. And lo and behold, Trump did not testify, surprising exactly no one. But the jury is going to have a lot of time to think things over, aren't they? Because the trial, it's dark until next Tuesday for closing arguments. So now forget 11,780 votes, 270 electoral college votes, 420,000 bucks, or even the number 34 for the counts. Now, it's down to 12 jurors and six alternates.

Joining us now, retired California superior court judge, LaDoris Cordell. She's also the author of "Her Honor." Also, law enforcement reporter for "The Washington Post," Devlin Barrett, who is in court today as he has been throughout this trial.

Your Honor, let me begin with you because lawyers will see the final jury instructions the day after tomorrow. This case is complicated in trying to connect the different dots, the felony from a misdemeanor and beyond.


Tell me just how important it's going to be to make these instructions clear cut and also amenable to both sides.

LADORIS CORDELL, RETIRED CALIFORNIA SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE: Thank you for having me on. The jurors have two jobs. One is to be the finders of fact. And once they determine what the facts are, then they must apply the law. And the law is given to them in these jury instructions. And it is really interesting to note that when guilty verdicts are reversed by the appellate courts, the most frequent reason is faulty jury instructions. So, the judge is determined, most judges are, to get it right.

And you saw today where the lawyers were going back and forth primarily about the instructions of what the law says about these crimes. There are going to be standard instructions about the credibility of witnesses and all of that. That's kind of standard stuff, but the key to this is what instruction the judge is going to give about the crime, the elements of the crime. What intent? Will there be an instruction about misdemeanors? So, this is absolutely important.

And the concern I have, Laura, is that jury instructions, my understanding, and I hope I'm wrong, that in New York, the jury instructions on paper do not go in with the jurors when they deliberate. How in the world can 12 people, even if two of them are lawyers, they were civil lawyers, they didn't do criminal work, how can they possibly have the ability to remember all the verbal instructions, pages and pages, that the judge will give them? When I was a trial judge, I always provided the jurors with printed copies.

COATES: Well, Your Honor, I think in New York, there might be a possibility for the judge to make a motion or have on the record for them to do that for the very reasons I'm sure you're talking about because I actually cannot imagine the idea of having a jury without at least something in front of them. It also goes to reasons in part why Judge Merchan wants to have this not a start and stop deliberation because jury notes and beyond are going to be impactful in all of this.

Let me bring you in here, Devlin, because based on what you heard today, do you have an idea of what the key instruction the jury will be tasked with next week? I mean, the judge is obviously talking about the idea of what goes into the crime, all the different elements. But what was the most talked about today?

DEVLIN BARRETT, LAW ENFORCEMENT REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: I think a lot of what they argued about today was really centered around something the judge mentioned, which is intent. This is a -- the legal theory of this prosecution is pretty complicated. It's basically a crime within a crime within another crime. And so that's going to be complicated for the jury to sort out.

But a lot of the argument today was about what do you have to prove Trump knew or wanted out of this sequence of events. And so, I think intent is a big part. There's a lot of different fights about that in different pieces of language. But again, this stuff is very complicated. I think it's very difficult for a layperson to sort it through, even when lawyers think they're being clear.

COATES: I mean, let's be honest. Sometimes, lawyers don't get it right, which is why you have the appeal process and people have this conundrum going on. Your Honor, let me turn back to you, though, because you mentioned something about there could be a misdemeanor instruction. This has been a very important point of reference because, obviously, there is the falsified business records. In New York law, that is a misdemeanor. It becomes a felony when it's done to try to hide another crime.

It appears that the theory they're using is either a conspiracy base or a campaign finance violation or contribution or maybe even tax fraud. That has to come out in summation, in full. But what would be the instruction for the jurors? Are you saying they could possibly be spying for a misdemeanor nonetheless?

CORDELL: Right. The misdemeanor is called a lesser-included offense. So, a felony is more serious because the penalty is more serious than a misdemeanor. So, it's really interesting because on the defense side, they may say, yeah, we want judge included instruction that says you could just convict him of the misdemeanor or misdemeanors. The prosecution, however, may say, oh, no, no, no, we don't want this lesser included. We're going with the felony. It's all or nothing.

So, sometimes these lesser-included end up being a compromise by jurors if they just want to get unanimous on something. So, the prosecution may say, nope, we don't want it. The defense may say, yes, we do. And then it's left to the judge to decide. And sometimes, for example, in California, there are mandatory instructions that say if there is a lesser included, it has to be given. So, I don't know what the procedure is in New York, but it's certainly an issue of importance to both sides.

COATES: Judge LaDoris Cordell, thank you so much for joining us. Devlin Barrett, please stand by as well because we are a week away from closing arguments in this trial. I mean, another week. I want to talk about it now with CNN legal commentator and former Trump attorney, Tim Parlatore. Also, former federal prosecutor Alyse Adamson is with us as well.

Okay, let's just get to this idea of instructions.


I know this is the nerdy part. We're talking about the law. This is the most important part, though, because first of all, the closing arguments, you want this primacy recency, right? What the jury is going to hear. They got a whole week, Alyse, before they hear that. And then come the instructions by the judge. If you're prosecuting this case, what are you going to hang your hat on for these instructions? ALYSE ADAMSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I would definitely be fighting the defense on what they want included. I mean, again, there are standard instructions. You're going to get the reasonable instructions. You're going to get the credibility of the witness instructions. This is true in all case. But what we've seen today is the defense wanting extra instructions included like they're telling of how the jury needs to be explained what the intent to defraud means, for instance.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

ADAMSON: So, if I was the prosecutor right now, I'd be thinking two things. Number one, and we just heard this, how are we going to protect the record on appeal? You don't want to fight too hard because if something is not given to the jury that is later to be determined should have been, then the case is going to be reversed, and you don't want that. But you also don't want too much coming in. You don't want the jury to be so confused by the instructions that it almost seems like their burden is enhanced, right? So, that's -- it's a -- it's a difficult needle to thread, but that's what I would do.

COATES: You know, the closing arguments, Tim, so important. I mean, this is the time that a lot of lawyers become all the more performative, right? They are trying to shine. They are going to cherry pick the heck out of their cases and say, remember this, this, this, this and this on the defense side, at least pointing out they're going to counter in every way.

You've been a defense attorney. You've also done these cases that are similar to the fact pattern of falsified records and beyond. When it's a documents case, how do you make it so the jury is not eyes glazed over? What are you going to turn to?

TIM PARLATORE, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, you got to keep it interesting. I mean, that's a -- trial is drama, it's a show, and it is theater. So, you have to keep the jury interested.

And here, I would structure it all around the jury instructions. You know, the jury instructions, specifically on the falsified business records, are very clear as to what all the elements are. And so, I would keep coming back to that. But then, you know, weave in you saw this, you saw that, keep going back to the testimony.

And at the same time, I think they're going to spend a lot of time talking about Michael Cohen.

COATES: As the defense side.

PARLATORE: Absolutely. I think they're going to spend a lot of time talking about Michael Cohen and his credibility. I wouldn't be surprised. In fact, I would advise them to stay away from Stormy Daniels.

COATES: Why would you ignore Stormy?

PARLATORE: You don't have to -- you don't have to talk about her at all because the reality is, it is a totally irrelevant trial within a trial as to whether what she said is true, because the reality is whether there was relation between the two of them or not, it doesn't matter. What matters is she had an embarrassing story to tell, they paid the hush money to keep her from telling it. Whether it was true or not is irrelevant. So, I would kind of try to, you know, shove her to the side as much as possible and just say, you know, that's not really relevant, what we're really here to talk about is this.

You know, when the prosecution -- they're going to go on for a very long time.

COATES: Well, do you agree with that, Alyse? Would you also have a similar philosophy?

ADAMSON: You know, personally, I wouldn't, because I think Stormy Daniels provides a very powerful motive for the former president to want this story kept out of the public eye. And I hear what you're saying, that even if it's not true, and I think that's what Michael Cohen initially said, right, and what he's saying now is his false statement, wven if something is not true, it can still be harmful.


ADAMSON: But I think it being true kind of lends more credibility to the entire narrative. Why was he so panicked? Well, he didn't want this to come out. This was an embarrassing story. We heard Stormy Daniels in kind of painful detail recount this encounter. He didn't want that out in the public eye.

So, I wouldn't necessarily sidestep it. I wouldn't spend too much time on it because I agree there are more relevant issues that you're going to want to describe to the jury, but I would spend a little time on it.

COATES: They want to focus on it. So, if you're the prosecution, right, obviously, you're making your burden approved, you want to focus on the fact that there was an incentive to actually have him pay someone because of the election. But that's the part because the election part is where I think the jury is going to have some questions, don't you think? Because, you know, is it for personal reasons that he was trying to cover it up, because he's trying to protect his wife and his family, or is it for the election? They only have the word substantial to go on. How do they judge it?

PARLATORE: You know, it becomes very difficult. And really, what I would do is -- you know, the prosecution is going to go on for a very long time. And even though they're going second, you know that they're going to go on for a very long time. They're going to get very detailed. They're going to get very, quite frankly, boring.

As a defense, the best way to counter that is to take the whole story and make it as simple as possible and kind of acknowledge right out the gate. There are a lot of aspects to this case that are not in dispute.

[23:15:00] So, we don't need to spend a whole bunch of time on it. They've proven beyond a reasonable doubt that there was catch and kill.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

PARLATORE: They've proven that there was hush money paid. They've proven that Michael Cohen was paid back for it. But that's not what he's charged with. What he's charged with is the falsification of these records. So, really try and focus in on that. I mean, I tried a case in front of Judge Merchan once. I went to him. It was a mixture of misdemeanor and felony. And I said to the jury, hey, counts two and three, go ahead and find them guilty on that. They did that. Let's talk about count one.

And as much of the stuff, you know, the stuff is not in dispute, just kind of throw it to the side. You know the prosecutor is going to spend a bunch of time trying to prove the already admitted piece. Focus them and just say, this is the one piece. If you can't, if they can't prove this one tiny little piece, then the whole case falls apart.

COATES: I mean, this is 34 counts. And, of course, the jury is not going to be asked just one question if it was a wire fraud in a federal case. They're going to be asked to look through each of these different documents each time. But speaking of documents, I have to turn to Mar-a-Lago for a second. I'm looking at you for a second here, Tim.



COATES: Because I -- we have learned that there are new unsealed court filings in the classified documents case. One of what? Three or four now that Trump is facing. A federal judge saying that additional classified docs were discovered months after the FBI search. And they were in the bedroom in Mar-a-Lago. Trump's bedroom.

PARLATORE: Judge Howell is wrong.

COATES: Judge Howell is wrong. Okay.

PARLATORE: Judge Howell is wrong. I was there. So --

COATES: You were in the bedroom?

PARLATORE: I wasn't in his bedroom, but I did help to recover what they're talking about. It was an empty folder that said "classified evening summary" on it. It didn't have anything in it. And classified is not a level of classification. The exact same folder is on display in the bar in Trump Tower. The exact same folder is -- you can buy it off of eBay. It was something -- I was here on CNN talking about it at the time with Paula Reid, where he had this "classified evening summary" folder covering his phone, his desk phone, to keep the blue light out when he was sleeping.

COATES: Okay. Tim --

PARLATORE: And it was there when the FBI searched.

COATES: Tim, I do a lot of things. I do a lot of booby traps in my house as well.


COATES: I'm just saying, to try to figure out how to get the best sleep possible. But you know, and I want to bring you into this, Alyse, on this issue, we have seen images of documents being moved around.


COATES: We know that there are different places in Mar-a-Lago, the crux of this entire case. Can there be ultimate confidence that, looking at it here right now, that he was fully forthcoming about where all the documents were? I mean, you're talking about one file. Is it popular? There's not more than one?

PARLATORE: My team is the one that recovered it. I led the team.

COATES: And you fully trust that they showed you everything, all of this?

PARLATORE: Yeah. Absolutely. Because I hired the team. I supervised the team that did it. Jim Trusty supervised that search in Mar-a-Lago. That particular folder was there on his phone, in his bedroom, when the FBI searched. The FBI knew that that was not something that was responsive to the search warrant, and they left it there.

COATES: But, Tim, how can you be so confident about Trump having had everything in the locations he told you to search, when we have seen in co-defendant cases and superseding indictments that changed where they are showing that others knew and they moved it? It sounds like they were not on the up-and-up even counsel. Why are you so confident?

PARLATORE: Well, my team, they gave us no --

COATES: I'm talking not just your team. I'm talking about what the defendants did.

PARLATORE: Evan Corcoran's search was a bit different. When my team went in, they gave us no restrictions. We could go anywhere we wanted. We chose where to search.

COATES: Okay. Alyse, what are your thoughts on this issue? I mean -- and look, I wasn't there, although I would have been in the medicine cabinet. That's just me. I'm nosy.


But when you look at this issue, the fact that we're finding this information out now and are no more closer to a trial date in that case, does that surprise you? ADAMSON: I mean, nothing surprises me at this point with these cases, right? I mean, we're in unprecedented territory here. And, look, it's hard for me to speculate. I'm sitting next to somebody who actually performed these searches. You know, what happened before you got there? Who can say? We do have some evidence, I think, where there were some photos of people moving boxes. So, who knows? We don't know.

To your point, Laura, we're learning more and more as we go along. So, I think we're just going to have to wait and see how this turns out, but nothing -- nothing would surprise me.

COATES: If only we had a thing called a trial where we could figure this out --


-- there could be a presentation of evidence, and then we could figure out if the prosecution has met their burden of proof. What was that called? It's something. It's on the tip of my tongue. Tim Parlatore, Alyse Adamson, thank you both so much.

Ahead, Donald Trump's contraception confusion, his big walk back after suggesting that he was open to restricting birth control, and how the Biden campaign was all over it.


Plus, a criminal investigation into Matthew Perry's death. What law enforcement is now looking into that has multiple different agencies all working together?


COATES: Donald Trump having to backtrack on comments he made about potentially wanting to impose restrictions on birth control. Here's what he said earlier today.


UNKNOWN: Do you support any restrictions on a person's right to contraception?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're looking at that, I'm going to have a policy on that very shortly, and I think it is something you will find interesting.

UNKNOWN: Well, that suggests that you may want to support some restrictions? Like the morning after pill or something?

TRUMP: We are also -- you know, things really do have a lot to do with the states. And some states are going to have different policies than others. But I'm coming out within a week or so with a very comprehensive policy, which I'll get to you immediately.


COATES: A week or so, but immediately. Okay. Well, then hours later, came the cleanup.


Trump posting to the social media site in all caps, of course, saying, I have never and will never advocate imposing restrictions on birth control.

Let's go right to Sarah Matthews, former Trump White House deputy press secretary. Also here, Charlie Dent, a Republican former congressman, and Lulu Garcia-Navarro, a CNN contributor and "The New York Times" journalist and podcast host.

Okay, let me begin with you, Sarah, here because some things are just a yes or no answer. Why do you think he, more than once now, when it come to reproductive rights, abortion, now birth control, he is waiting to give a policy a week or so immediately from now?

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Yeah, this is the classic Trump answer. When he doesn't know how to answer a policy question, he says, oh, we are going to be issuing our policy opinion on this in two weeks, it's going to be great, everyone is going to love it, and then two weeks comes and never happens

And so, I think with this one, he's very concerned with how voters feel about this and particularly the base. So that's why I think you kind of saw him try to push this off in answering because he doesn't maybe know where his base lands on contraceptives.

I also think there's a chance, too, that he might have been confused between contraceptives and Mifepristone, the abortion pill. And so, those are two totally different things. And so, I think that there's a chance that he was also maybe confused on that.

But I think that at the end of the day, when you're looking at the Project 25, which is backed by Trump former staffers who are creating an agenda for what a potential second Trump term would look like, they float ideas like this, of banning or restricting things like contraceptives and Mifepristone. And so, Trump needs to have his feet held to the fire and have an answer on this.

COATES: I mean, it strikes me, maybe, is anyone else feeling like old enough to remember when, I don't know, the candidate had a position and then they waited to see if the base would follow as opposed to --- it is not a focus group. It's an election.

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He doesn't understand public policy on a nuanced basis. I've been in meetings with him. He doesn't care about public policy. So, contraception, emergency contraception, the abortion pills, Mifepristone, he doesn't understand the difference.

And so, he gets on there, he's asked about contraception, he probably thinks we're talking about the abortion pills. He doesn't understand this. So that's why they have to do mop duty afterwards because he just simply doesn't have a basic grasp on many public policy issues, and particularly one as complex as contraception and abortion pills. He just doesn't understand it.

COATES: That's shocking.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think what's interesting to me is that it isn't complicated. Contraception, I mean, this is one of the founding things that women understand what it does and what it's for. Men agree. If you see polling on this, this is not the abortion issue. This is to do with women's right to actually decide when they have children.

And the big fear, this is a gift for Democrats. I mean, they've already -- the minute he said this, this was like a cheer went up in the White House because they've been campaigning on abortion. But the idea that Trump might take a position on something like contraception, this is what Democrats have been warning about and this is what they want to hear from Trump, and he walked in.

COATES: I mean, the vice president, Harris, reposted Trump's comments along with the campaign statement that says, it's not enough for Trump that women's lives are being put at risk. Doctors are being threatened with jail time, and extreme bans are being enacted with no exceptions for rape or incest. He wants to rip away our freedom to access birth control, too.

I have to tell you, I mean, I don't understand. When you're talking about contraceptives, I find it very stunning that a presidential candidate, who, by the way, has been a president before, could not decipher and delineate in his response between, I don't know, say, a condom, a birth control pill, an emergency contraceptive pill or the idea of medical abortions. These are not that complex. What are his real views? Do you know?

MATTHEWS: Well, I just think, as we kind of noted, it seems like he just doesn't have a grasp on what the policy is. He's obviously distracted with things like his current trials. And so, this isn't necessarily a focus for him when it should be because this is a pressing issue. And Americans want to know where he stands on these things. And so, he should answer these questions.

And I think it's smart of the Biden campaign to seize on this and capitalize on it, but it is why you saw such a quick clean-up from Trump in his camp because they know that this is an issue that is concerning to women, and that is the group most that he needs to win over in a general election to be successful.

COATES: And I wonder if he's -- Lulu, I want to get your opinion on this as well, but I also want to bring in this because you mentioned the idea of maybe he's, you know, overwhelmed with other things and distracted. I mean, there was also this, this shocking video that Trump reposted on Truth Social. I know what you were talking about it, and here it is. It was under an image headline for a Trump second term, the words, Unified Reich.

The campaign says that it was not created by the campaign, but was reposted by a staffer and has since deleted the ad. This is antisemitic messaging, really, to the core. You're talking about this. We've also seen part of this before and this drumbeat continues.


How is it that this sort of messages can still be a part of the political conversation with the hopes of a successful campaign?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So, the intern did it, is a very tried and true tactic from politicians, which we've seen over and over again, particularly from the Trump campaign, so it was not surprising that that was immediately some unknown staffer was apparently behind this.

But it is not just antisemitic. This isn't -- this is actually nodding to the Third Reich, this is nodding to Nazism, this is nodding to Hitler, and the very fact that this was put out there is a stain, if you needed another stain, on the Trump campaign.

But I will say, I do not think that it will matter. I say this --

COATES: Really?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: -- I say this sadly. But it -- he has been -- he said things like this before, the campaign has put out very questionable things before, and what we've seen is that it really hasn't made a dent.

COATES: Well, dent. Your name has been invoked. Charlie Dent, what do you think? Will it make a dent, Charlie?

DENT: Uh, probably not. But you would think that after Charlottesville, with the blood and soil comments and Jews will not replace us, they would be really careful with things that go out in the name of the campaign. And Reich, the references to the Third Reich, 1933 to 1945, they're not talking about the First Reich, the Holy Roman Empire, the Second Reich, 1871 to 1918. They're talking about the Third Reich. That's the problem.

So, they're tone-deaf. There's a -- there's a -- this is a disaster -- disaster for Trump today. I mean, you shouldn't be talking about Reich and Nazis, and you shouldn't be saying birth control should be --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: At a moment when you're seeing a rise in antisemitic attacks, when you're having, you know, the terrible events of October 7th in Israel, and so it is a very sensitive time. And the very fact that they put this out at this moment should raise questions.

MATTHEWS: And I will say, too, that it follows a disturbing trend with the campaign, though, that we've seen, where they have used Nazi-esque rhetoric. He said that his political enemies were vermin. He said that he -- immigrants are poisoning the blood of this country. Unfortunately, it probably won't make a dent because I think that Republicans have normalized this behavior by refusing to condemn him when he makes these kinds of comments, they choose to stay silent and, therefore, are complicit.

COATES: I mean, it did take several hours, I believe, to take it down. This is part of our conversation earlier today, Charlie, about your new organization. What is it called?

DENT: Our Republican Legacy.


DENT: We're trying to get the party back to something normal based on thoughtful principles instead of this cult of personality.

COATES: Sarah, Charlie, Lulu, thank you both so -- all three so much.

Next, the LAPD making a huge announcement in the death of Matthew Perry. Why they're conducting a criminal investigation?

Plus, the battle between ChatGPT and Scarlett Johansson. Who says the company's voice assistant sounds eerily similar to her? The original voice of Siri is my guest.



COATES: Tonight, new details related to Matthew Perry's death and why the Los Angeles Police Department is carrying out a criminal investigation. You remember that Perry was found face down in his heated pool last October, with the medical examiner saying that he died of -- quote -- "acute effects of ketamine."

I want to bring in CNN's Veronica Miracle. Veronica, thank you for being here. It's just not just the LAPD, but two federal agencies are now involved in the investigation. What are they looking for?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Laura. The DEA and the United States Postal Service are part of this joint investigation, and they are all looking into the source of the ketamine that was found in Matthew Perry's body at the time of his death.

Now, when he died, he was reportedly receiving ketamine infusion therapy for his anxiety and his depression, but his last treatment was about a week and a half prior to his death, which would have been enough time for that ketamine to have left his body. And the autopsy report states that he actually had a very high level of ketamine in his body at the time of his death.

So, these agencies, they are looking into where did Matthew Perry get these drugs and who supplied them. Right now, the LAPD says this investigation is criminal in nature. There is potential for criminal culpability, but they're not ready to release any more information at this point. Laura?

COATES: Veronica Miracle, thank you. Please keep us posted.

These next three words may be the most stigmatized in politics right now. Diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nineteen states have either passed or introduced bills banning or regulating DEI at colleges all across this country. And some businesses are backing away from DEI and approaching it -- quote -- "under the radar and in less prominent ways."

But the retreat from DEI, creating its own backlash. NFL legend Emmitt Smith, who is from Florida, put it this way to the "USA Today." Quote, when I see them destroying DEI for the sake of politics, it's not even common sense. This is just sheer out of spite and sheer power."

Well, tonight, Smith's former league, the NFL, is doubling down on DEI efforts with what it calls its most expansive program to date, launching a program aimed at increasing the number of minority and women-owned businesses that work with the NFL.

Here to talk about it is Jonathan Beane, chief DEI officer at the NFL. I gave you a whole new title. I was putting you in the CIA all of a sudden, Jonathan. I'm glad you're here. Thank you so much. Listen, at a time when businesses are pulling back from diversity initiatives, tell me, why is the league doubling down?

JONATHAN BEANE, CHIEF DEI OFFICER, NFL: We're doubling down because we see it as a foundation of our values and our culture, and we fundamentally believe that if we want to continue to be the league we are and be better and grow and mature and welcome people from a variety of different backgrounds to witness this game, play this game, work in the organization of the NFL, we have to be committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.


It's fundamental to our progress as growing as an organization, and we believe it will lead to better business solutions, more innovation, and more creativity.

COATES: Do you expect or fear backlash from politicians or voters and states that have passed bills that restrict DEI?

BEANE: Look, when we're doing this, we are going by our North Star. We're going by what we feel is the right thing to do. We see ourselves as a unifying organization, and we're also seeing ourselves, we want to be a leader in this space, and we don't want to be -- we're not going to be influenced by any of the other things that are going on outside of whether it's at other states and what's going on politically.

Now, we do not see DEI as a political issue. We see it as a foundational human issue. And we want to be a place that's inclusive. We want to welcome people from a variety of different backgrounds. We believe the only way that we are going to continue to grow and be the league that we want to be and have the platform to unify people is to continue to be committed to inclusion.

COATES: You know, there was a December 2023 report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, and the majority of the players are people of color, and the NFL hit a milestone with nine minority head coaches now that are in the league. But you know the league still faces a lot of criticism for the lack of diversity among actual team owners. How is the NFL's efforts regarding DEI addressing this? BEANE: Yeah, it's a great question and something we're certainly working on. We feel really good about the -- we've had increase of diverse representation when it comes to the league office. And as you mentioned, GM positions and president positions and head coach positions, those are some of the highest numbers we've ever had as a league.

But we still have challenges. We still have a long way to go. That biggest area is the area of ownership. And that has been something that we're very, very focused on. One, right now, we have one person of color who's a primary owner, that's Shahid Khan. We are looking to have more primary owners who happen to be women and people of color.

And also, when it comes to limited partnerships, we continue to make progress in that area. Today, there was an announcement by Arthur Blank that there are two new -- I mean, four new limited partners who all happen to be African-American, who are limited partners in terms of owners of the Atlanta Falcons.

Also, the last two deals in terms of purchasing clubs, which was the Denver Broncos and also the Washington Commanders, have multiple people, diverse people, that are limited partners of those purchases.

So, we know that we still have a long way to go, but we are making progress. We believe that primary owners, in addition to limited partnerships, are critical for us to focus on.

COATES: Well, the combination of such might move the needle, but there is also the in the meantime and what people are seeing, and sometimes the NFL is in the limelight for areas outside of what's happening in the ownership, case in point.

Jonathan, the Kansas City Chiefs kicker, Harrison Butker, sparked a lot of controversy after his speech at Benedictine College that some are calling not only sexist, but misogynistic, homophobic. He has received support, though, from people like Whoopi Goldberg and from the family of the Chiefs' owner about his ability to speak his mind and his beliefs, having been invited, and they were aware of his viewpoints.

I do wonder, given the efforts with DEI and the attention something like this, for example, has received, what role should the NFL be playing, if any, in addressing the reaction to his speech?

BEANE: Well, you know, we stand by the statement, which I made last week, is, look, he was speaking in his personal capacity, and he has every right to do that. We all do, as citizens of this country, have the right to share your point of view and speak out about that.

But at the same time, I think, as an organization, we have that right to also say that that does not fall in line with the beliefs of the National Football League, which is exactly what the quote says. So, I stand behind that quote. We, as an organization, do. Yet, as you said, everyone in this country has the right to express their point of view.

[23:45:00] COATES: Well, we will see. We remember that statement quite well. We'll continue to follow the efforts that are being discussed, and will they be implemented in full, in the NFL and beyond? Thank you, Jonathan Beane, for joining us.

BEANE: Thank you.

COATES: Well, up next, did the maker of ChatGPT steal Scarlett Johansson's voice or not? And where do the A.I. voice wars go from here? Look, the original voice of Siri is here to weigh in.



UNKNOWN (voice-over): Hey, there. It is going great. How about you?


COATES: Well, it may not be going quite as great as ChatGPT maker OpenAI wants it to.


The bruhaha over Scarlett Johansson versus OpenAI digital assistant Sky generating all sorts of takes online. Just some of the headlines. One, Scarlett Johansson is right to protect herself. Another, exactly how stupid was what OpenAI did to Scarlett Johansson.

It's a story I brought you last night. And to remind you how we got here, well, why don't we ask ChatGPT? Hey, ChatGPT, is it Laura.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Hi, Laura. How can I assist you today?

COATES: Well, can you tell me why Scarlett Johansson released a statement last night calling out your company, OpenAI?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Scarlett Johansson recently released a statement claiming that OpenAI used her voice without permission to create one of its voice options in ChatGPT, despite her declining a collaboration offer from OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman. Johansson's statement emphasized her disapproval of this unauthorized use of her voice, indicating that she had specifically refused the offer to voice the system. This incident has sparked discussions about the ethics and legality of using synthetic voices based on real individuals without their consent.

COATES: Thanks, ChatGPT.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): You're welcome, Laura.

COATES: Now, it's important to know the voice you just heard talking to me, that was Juniper, because OpenAI removed Sky after Scar Jo's statement.

But speaking of those ethical and legal concerns, we have got the perfect person to talk about all of that. Joining me now, Susan Bennett, a voice actor and the original voice of Apple's digital assistant, Siri. Hi, Susan. How are you?



COATES: My phone picked up. It tried to answer just now.


I even have it on "do not disturb." Apparently, you're a very powerful person. You can clone the voice. That's amazing. Okay. I'm not talking to my phone. I'm talking to Susan. Stop it. Susan, I want to know how are you thinking about all of this. I mean, you obviously have heard about what's gone on. Are you happy to see that OpenAI is appearing to capitulate to Johansson's complaints about her voice or likeness?

BENNETT: Yes, and I really congratulate her for coming -- you know, coming out about it and try -- and getting them to realize that they're not doing right, by her, to have a voice on their device that sounds so much like hers.

COATES: You know, your voice, obviously, the original of -- I'll spell it, S-I-R-I, so my phone does not go crazy all of a sudden over here.


COATES: But, you know, it must be a little bit spooky and eerie when that happens. Just tell me, I'm always wondering, how did that come to pass and you became this voice? Did you have all of these ideas that this would actually become what it did?

BENNETT: No. Actually, I did the recordings almost 20 years ago. And I had to read thousands and thousands of these weird sentences and phrases to get all the sound combinations in the language. And I've talked to the other original series, and they had the same experience. We thought we were just doing recordings for phone messaging. And all of a sudden, you know, I got a phone call from a fellow voice actor in 2011 saying, we're playing around with this new iPhone 4S. Isn't this you? And I went, what? So --

COATES: That's how you learned about it? My goodness, how did you feel when that happened? I mean, on the one hand, it's probably pretty cool, but on the other hand, wait a second --

BENNETT: Yeah. Yeah, I really had --

COATES: -- that's me.

BENNET: Yes, I had -- definitely had both reactions. Part of it was like, oh, wow, and then I, what?


So, yeah. And, you know, it ended up being kind of a life lesson because, unfortunately, none of the original series were paid, and that is because we didn't have non-disclosure agreements, so we can, you know, promote ourselves. I guess that was the feeling. After us, the next group of voices did get paid.

COATES: You know, OpenAI, to be fair, says that you could have a real dialogue with their new system, even having the virtual assistant look at and react to what you were actually seeing in the world. What does that feel like, instinctively, to you? Do you have reservations about what that future could look like?

BENNETT: For me, personally, I find it extremely creepy.


I really -- when my voice was on the iPhone, I couldn't talk to Siri.


It was like, I know her.


COATES: How do you feel about the trajectory of AI and the idea of it being able to be so responsive to be able to absorb, compile, and then convey information? I mean, you were at, really, inadvertently, at the, you know, the ground of this all. How do you feel about it today?

BENNETT: Well, I think AI is going to be really incredibly helpful to the human race if it's used appropriately.


I don't think it should have anything to do with voiceover.



BENNETT: You know, it's a -- it's -- I just think that a lot of people will lose work because of it if it's used in that way. So, I'm very glad that Scarlett Johansson came forward and just said, look, this isn't right.

COATES: But for her, do you think they would listen?

BENNETT: I think that they listen a lot more because of her, you know, success and her persona. You know, they would certainly listen to her more than they would listen to just a regular voice actor, you know. So, I think, you know, she has a bit more clout than -- than many of us. So, I'm very glad that she did.

COATES: And yet people listen to your voice all around the world, all the time, as authoritative.

BENNETT: Yes, they do.

COATES: So maybe we should just ask you how to respect one's intellectual property and individuality, Siri.


BENNETT: Maybe they should, yeah.


COATES: Susan Bennett, what a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us.

BENNETT: Thank you.

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