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Laura Coates Live

A.G. Merrick Garland Faces Barrage Of Weaponization Claims; U.S.-Mexico Border Is Shutting Down; Hunter Biden Faces Trial; Juror Received A Shocking $120,000 Bribe; Lawsuit Targets First Reparations Program In The Country. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired June 04, 2024 - 23:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Universal mail-in voting is going to be catastrophic.

You look at some of the corruption having to do with universal mail-in voting.

They know it's -- it's going to be fraudulent.

This is the greatest scam in the history of politics.

It's going to make our country a laughingstock all over the world.

We must return to the historical norm of voting in person on Election Day.

We should eliminate the insanity of mass and very corrupt mail-in voting.

Mail-in, universal, is very, very bad.

You automatically have fraud.

It's a disgrace.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Surprise. That's a disgrace that he's now counting on.

And thank you for watching "NewsNight." "Laura Coates Live" wills start right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Well, the verdict may have been against Donald Trump, but some in the GOP are now trying to put Attorney General Merrick Garland on a kind of trial.

And we are just minutes away from the U.S.-Mexico border shutting down. The new executive order from the president, but it's not all smooth sailing within his own party. You know that, right?

Plus, a mysterious bribe in a federal fraud trial that sounds like it's straight out of Hollywood. A $120,000 in cash left at a juror's home with a message: Acquit and get even more. The story tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

It has been nearly a week now since a jury of 12 convicted Trump of 34 accounts of falsified business records. And from the looks of it, Donald Trump's so-called revenge tour, well, it's well underway. His Republican allies on the Hill are saying that they are going to stall business in the Senate, they're going to launch new investigations into the legal cases surrounding Trump, and even consider cutting funding to states like New York.

Now, it's all talk for now, but the power of the purse, we all know, in Congress is very real. Today, Republicans took their anger out on this man, the attorney general, Merrick Garland, who, for several hours, probably the longest hours he has spent in a long time, refuted their claims that the DOJ is being weaponized against Trump.

Their most popular conspiracy theory? Well, the baseless accusation that the DOJ sent and directed one of its top deputies, a man by the name of Matthew Colangelo, to join the Manhattan D.A.'s office in their case against Donald Trump. Now, if you had his name on your bingo board, congratulations!


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): But you had no problem dispatching Matthew Colangelo.

REP. JEFF VAN DREW (R-NJ): How is it that a man, Matthew Colangelo --

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Communications with Mr. Colangelo --

UNKNOWN: Mr. Attorney General, I want to go back to the Mr. Colangelo questions.


COATES: Well, time and time again, they were swatting at this fly of a claim that the DOJ had anything to do with the Manhattan D.A.'s case. He tried.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm saying it's false. I did not dispatch Mr. Colangelo anywhere. That conspiracy theory is an attack on the judicial process itself.


COATES: Now, given the headlines, you might think that Garland was actually brought in to testify about the Manhattan D.A.'s case and conviction, right? Well, you'd be wrong. He was actually there because Republicans want to hold him in contempt for refusing to turn over the audio of the special counsel's interview with President Biden in the classified documents case. And we should note, nearly a dozen news outlets, including this one, CNN, have sued for the audio. His reason for not releasing it, well --


GARLAND: Releasing the audio would shield cooperation with the department in future investigations.


COATES: Joining us now, former January 6 committee investigative counsel, Marcus Childress, former senior advisor to the Bernie Sanders 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, Chuck Rocha, and former Republican congressman of Pennsylvania, Charlie Dent. So glad to have all of you here.

First of all, let me begin with you here, Charlie. So, I hate to even ask this question. What do you think Republicans accomplished or were trying to accomplish with having him there as really kind of a punching bag?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, they're trying to sully up Garland, trying to sully up, you know, the whole conviction of Donald Trump. This, of course, relates to this investigation, relates to Hunter Biden. And so, I think they're just trying to muddy the waters. And by the way, holding attorney generals in contempt is nothing new.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

DENT: I believe Eric Holder was held in contempt. I think Bill Barr was held in contempt.

COATES: And by the way, for similar reasons, right?

DENT: Yeah.

COATES: The idea of asserting executive privilege --

DENT: Executive privilege, yeah.

COATES: -- because they said -- and also for Bill Barr, it was about the idea of not having documents to turn over about the citizenship question on the census. So, this has been part of it. And they both said, all three have said executive privilege, about having these documents out there, and they have not been prosecuted.


DENT: It's not a -- at the end of the day, I mean, as a political matter, I don't think it's going to make a lick of difference to anybody. But this is good theater. You know, this is about motivating your base, showing you're fighting, distracting away from Trump's conviction, trying to move on to Hunter Biden. I think it's just a big show, but it won't have much impact on the election.

COATES: Well, will it have an impact in terms of focusing on -- I mean, the American public sees this and the idea of trying to talk about the system being weaponized, the DOJ being under Biden. It is, but not a Manhattan D.A.'s office. And, of course, they want the information about the audio, Chuck. They want to have an audio recording to what? Be able to play what Biden sounded like talking to her.

CHUCK ROCHA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: They want to be able to make TV commercials --


ROCHA: -- like I make every single day. They want to make this very political. And today, they made the whole thing very political. They knew Donald Trump raised more money in 24 hours after a conviction than he had raised his entire campaign. And they'd like to make some of that money, too, by having a big spectacle. They all probably would not want to be a convicted felon, but they want to make a spectacle nonetheless.

And they see Marjorie Taylor Greene acting a fool, in my opinion, and raising all this money and getting all of the spotlight. And they use the opportunity today to kind of do that, feed to their base, give some red meat to the base, but also say, look, we are trying to fight the system, fight the system with us. Anybody who feel like you've ever been wronged, we're fighting for you, which is a false narrative.

COATES: Well, how do you -- I mean, how do you combat the narrative? If it's -- you know, every time a seed is planted, that the government is weaponized or that the DOJ is weaponized, and you can say things like, you know, what the average voter cannot fact check about Colangelo, and that suddenly he would go -- he would do this because he was dispatched in some way, and this all really being about a hearing about contempt, I mean, they're trying to muddy the waters enough to say you can't trust Biden and Garland. Is this effective?

MARCUS CHILDRESS, FORMER JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: Look, I think this is how all congressional hearings play out to some extent. You have politicians on the dais sitting there making, you know, political points of their questions, and you have the witness who's able to publicly rebut those.

And I thought the attorney general did a good job by highlighting illustrative, like, points of what the DOJ is doing to try to protect the institution. We heard Attorney General Garland talk about the institution a lot today. He highlighted the prosecution, for example, of the individual who detonated a bomb outside the Alabama attorney general's office. He highlighted prosecuting people who were threatening Michigan election workers. So, he is showing that this is not political. It's about protecting democracy here.

And I thought by raising those -- those clear examples of what the Department of Justice was doing to protect the institution and democracy was maybe not effective for the members themselves, but there's a bigger audience at play as we talk about the political spectacle and who you're trying to address by making these points.

COATES: Charlie, you know, this was obviously a legislative body and their job is to legislate and, obviously, potentially deter problems in the future, have a bureaucratic solution at the ready. But Garland challenged the very reason why they'd want a -- had a legislative purpose to have this audio. Listen to what he said in an exchange about why hearing it means you have a legislative purpose. Listen.


GARLAND: I've not been shown any reason why audio evidence of demeanor would make a difference in any legislative purpose.

REP. DAN BISHOP (R-NC): Well, that's exactly what demeanor evidence is, sir, witnessing -- observing a witness as they testify. And what can be done by this committee is to observe the audio recording of the president testifying to see whether it comports with the transcript or whether it reveals things about his capacity or his veracity or anything else that comes from his demeanor as he is interviewed.


COATES: You're chuckling. Is this something that is a legitimate legislative purpose?

DENT: You know, it's dubious, dubious, but it's a really good political purpose. I mean, that's what this is about. They want -- as it was stated, they want the -- they want the audio tape. And you can make a lot of good -- a lot of good commercials out of this. You can get a lot of good audio and really bludgeon Joe Biden with it. I think that's what this is all about. I mean, a legislative purpose. I mean, you have the transcript. I mean, is the audio really providing that much more? I doubt it. But it's great politics.

COATES: Do you think that Biden should be pushing back so hard on it? I mean, obviously, this is the executive privilege being asserted. But then there's Merrick Garland, a separate, obviously, entity. But is it useful for Biden to have this pushback because of the commercials, et cetera?

ROCHA: Any time Democrats are pushing back, it's a good thing, because Democrats are seen as weak in lots of focus groups just because Joe Biden is our leader, because he's an elderly man. Luckily, he's running against a crazy elderly man in our focus group. So, that helps. There's an old saying in Texas that says, if you lie long enough about having a horse, eventually, somebody will buy you a saddle. And that is --


-- that is what the Republicans are doing now. And because of social media, because it spreads so much more than when I was a young man running campaigns, it runs more rapid. Does that get everybody? No. But it gets enough of the electorate, push them over into their corner where we're running to the blue or the red corner, where lots of folks in the middle are just left out.

CHILDRESS: This is part of the traditional accommodations process that goes on between branches of government, Congress and the Department of Justice right here. There's a back and forth over evidence.


We did it on the Jan 6th committee, where there was a back and forth with the Department of Justice and other agencies to collect information. And if you look at the letters outside of the hearings today, it highlights the requests that were made and how DOJ provided the transcript. And now, you're hearing legal arguments of, like, the audio is just cumulative. It adds nothing to the legislative purpose, to the congressman's point.

But it's a pretty, I would say, routine thing for a congressional committee to continue to push to get additional information. And you know, on the other side, if you're an added agency, look, there's only so many tools that the Congress can use to get that information, whether it be the bully pulpit of a hearing, Twitter and social media, and maybe contempt or now, like you heard, the appropriations process.

But once you've hit a point where you're not budging, right, this is just a classic civics case of separation of powers and Congress not having unlimited power although they do have great power to collect information for their legislative purpose.

DENT: It just seems, though, we seem to be trivializing all these sanctions. You know, we've had impeachments of Mayorkas over a policy difference. You know, members are being routinely censured on the House floor. I was chair of the Ethics Committee. I mean, it just seems that these sanctions don't mean what they used to. A contempt, it's happening so often. I remember Harriet Miers and Karl Rove were held in contempt. I mean, it just seems -- it's just politics anymore. These should be reserved for really serious matters. And we just do it all the time anymore.

COATES: So, it sounds like you want to go back to Congress?

DENT: I --

COATES: You want to back in crazy town?


DENT: I hope my wife is not watching right now. She's going to come after you.

COATES: I'm just -- I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you have some solutions. I don't know. Thank you, gentlemen. All great to have you on. Thank you so much.

Ahead, President Biden's drastic new border restrictions go into effect, well, frankly, just a few moments from now. It's creating a pretty big divide in his party. Democratic Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett of Texas is here live next.


[23:16:09] COATES: Well, in a few minutes from now, sweeping new restrictions are going to take effect at the southern border. President Biden is using the same type of executive authority as former President Trump to clamp down on illegal crossings. And depending on who you ask, really, it's either too extreme, not enough, overtly political or the only thing that can be done given the circumstances.

Now, here is what it does do. Requests for asylum get shut down once the average daily number of illegal border crossings hits 2,500. It's above that right now, meaning that this triggers at midnight. Now, when the average number falls below 1,500, you lift the restrictions. Now, there are exceptions, including unaccompanied minors, victims of trafficking, people in medical distress or are facing threats to their life.

And there is one thing for sure. It's a pretty big shift for President Biden. Remember, part of his 2020 campaign was attacking Trump for some of the very same measures that he is now going to be employing.

But the border is a very clear political flashpoint at any point, let alone a few months before the general election and in an election year. And their efforts to pass legislation to fix it, we know, have failed. Biden is laying the blame for that failure on the Republican doorstep, who they believe bowed to Trump. Now, well, Trump is claiming tonight that all of this, it's a political move.


TRUMP (voice-over): This is a public relations executive order and it's meaningless. Meaningless. He can -- he can stop the millions of people coming into our country with one order and one signature. It's all there for him. I did it.


COATES: Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett of Texas on the Oversight Committee she sits, and also a member of the Progressive Caucus. Now, obviously, when I hear statements like that, you could stop everything in one order, one thing, and stop all crossings. There is a bit of comedy involved. But that talking point seems to have a lot of traction and people think of this and say, well, if that's true, then why did Biden wait? What's your reaction?

REP. JASMINE CROCKETT (D-TX): Listen, immigration is one of the most complicated things that we can talk about, and it's probably one of the reasons that people don't talk about it unless you are going to be someone like Trump who's going to be disingenuous. The reality is that the numbers were abysmal under Trump. And if I could really turn the page back and remind people that Trump was putting children in cages.

And for everybody that's concerned about our money and where our money goes, I do want people to understand that we got sued for separating families, and we've been paying out your tax dollars because of his failed leadership.

I also want to remind people that Trump thought that he could do everything with a pen.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

CROCKETT: He really does believe in being a king of the United States, but we don't have that in the United States. And his pen was consistently getting him in trouble. He was getting shut down.

But right now, because they continue to push so much misinformation and disinformation and people are frustrated, I do feel like the president said, let me show you all that I'm willing to do what needs to be done. But we have a real president who has actual experience --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

CROCKETT: -- who decided that he wanted to get this done legislatively. And ultimately, the person that killed it was Donald Trump.

COATES: So, do you support this initiative? Obviously, it's an executive order, which means it's not going to have the same ability and tenure and longevity of a legislative act. But do you support that in its current iteration? Because there are members of the Progressive Caucus who believe, including Pramila Jayapal earlier today, who thought that this was not the right approach at all.


CROCKETT: Listen, I'm a lawmaker, so I believe in actually making laws. I don't believe that this is an issue that can be fixed. We've had an immigration problem in this country for decades. This isn't something that's new.

COATES: Well, fix this way or you mean fixed in a short run?

CROCKETT: I'm saying that we can't fix immigration overnight, period.


CROCKETT: It will have to be done in a legislative way, in a very thoughtful way. And even once we get the legislation, it will not be fixed overnight. Nothing happens overnight. But when people are living in a microwave era where they're like, listen, this is a problem today, I need a fix tomorrow, I think that this will provide some resolve for some people that are concerned and saying immigration is a problem, and they'll say the president is trying to do something.

COATES: You know, I had a conversation earlier this morning on Sirius XM with Congressman Byron Donalds about the idea of a piecemeal approach to things that, as you say, can't be solved overnight. And the analogy we were talking about more broadly was, look, you can't tell hungry people, oh, I'm sorry, I can't give you a slice, I wanted to give you a loaf.


COATES: When it comes to immigration more broadly, do you think that the measures that are enacted right now, even though they are not ideal, they're not going to be fully comprehensive, you talk about, will this actually do a lot in terms of the campaign for President Biden because it's viewed very politically?

CROCKETT: I think it will be helpful because what people want to know is that, number one, they're being heard, and we know for sure that people all around this country are concerned about immigration. And number two, that not only do you hear me, but what are you going to do?

COATES: Uh-hmm.

CROCKETT: I just want to kind of provide people with the reality check that this isn't going to fix anything overnight, like it's not going to happen that fast. Will it hopefully provide some relief to those people that are working at the border and trying to process people? Absolutely, because now, it's like, well, after 2500, we're shutting things down.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

CROCKETT: Well, we don't have the funds to take care of them. We don't have the funds to hire the staff that is needed because the Republicans refuse to do it, because their leader, they're now 34- count convicted felon leader has told them, do not do this, do not go forward on this legislation that you worked together on in a bipartisan way.

And I'm going to tell you the truth. It was a very conservative piece of legislation that they were going to get, and that was because the president understands what it looks like when you're in a divided government, and he was willing to do something that really was pretty conservative.

I prefer this approach for now because I would rather have a piece of legislation that I think would not be as conservative as what was being proposed.

COATES: Well, speaking of a divided government, I have to say, I mean, last time you and I spoke, it was after a hearing about a potential contempt motion or action against Attorney General Merrick Garland. He has now appeared in front of a hearing. He had a much more confrontational tone than he normally has had, likely because of the circumstances he's under right now.

How did you think about that hearing and the idea of this narrative that persists, that there is a weaponized DOJ when it comes to a decision not to hand over the audio that Robert Herr has taken in terms of President Biden, and also referencing the Manhattan D.A.'s trial, which is a totally separate entity?

CROCKETT: Hmm. Um --

COATES: I'm going to take your two comments to mean what you think about it.


CROCKETT: You know, because you're a lawyer, too.


CROCKETT: And the idea that these are the people that are running our country and you don't understand how any of our systems work.

COATES: Well, they do understand --

CROCKETT: Do they?

COATES: -- the point. I would assume that this is a way --

CROCKETT: Do they?

COATES: Okay, well, you tell me.


You tell me.

CROCKETT: I'm not going to necessarily say that they do fully understand, but I do believe that they are the ones that are projecting. They are the ones that are weaponizing our government. The idea that you disagree with what a state has done. And listen, I know everybody was looking forward to Georgia. Lord knows I've been rooting for Fani and I've been waiting on that Georgia case.

But this New York case is actually the right one. It is the one because no matter what happens, Trump can't do anything about it. And he doesn't have a governor and a legislature that will change the law to fit him, unlike what may have happened in Georgia if there was a conviction. So, I just wanted to get that out of the way.

As it relates to Merrick Garland, you know, it is a game and it's sad because they are playing a serious game. I mean, when we were in that hearing where most people only remember the B-6 commentary that was made, um, one of the people on the committee was talking about how we need to jail --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

CROCKETT: -- the attorney general of the United States. Now, juxtapose that with the fact that our hearing was taking place at 8 p.m. because they skipped out on work that day so that they could go hang out in court with Trump, where they were saying he should not go to jail, where he was being accused of felonies.


COATES: Uh-hmm.

CROCKETT: And now, you're saying you want to jail the A.G. literally simply because of the audio.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

CROCKETT: They don't want the audio for any other purposes than to use it for campaign purposes. That's it.

COATES: The attorney general also found it wanting to figure out a legislative purpose for having it as opposed to transcript. And here we are, 150 or so days away from a general election. And it is a serious game, but hopefully there is some electoral course correction in trying to lower the temperature of everything.

CROCKETT: Absolutely.

COATES: Jasmine Crockett, congresswoman from Texas, thank you for joining me as always.

CROCKETT: It is nice to see you.

COATES: We got a lot more, including a dramatic day in court for Hunter Biden. Prosecutors using his own words against him by playing audio passages from his memoir describing his addiction.

Plus, a different ongoing federal trial where a juror was offered more than $120,000 in a shocking attempt at a bribe.



COATES: A crying juror, pictures of crack cocaine, and now the infamous laptop, all key moments in a Delaware courtroom for day two of Hunter Biden's federal gun trial.

Now, after opening statements, a jury heard from an FBI agent whose testimony allowed the prosecution to introduce potentially damning evidence from that laptop, the one he left at the Delaware repair shop back in 2019. Remember that? Well, there were images of drugs, shirtless videos, other evidence that came in from Hunter Biden's memoir.

And by the way, it was an audio book version as well that was read by Hunter Biden himself. There were harrowing stories of Biden's addiction that were played for this jury for nearly an hour.


HUNTER BIDEN, SON OF JOE BIDEN (voice-over): I possessed a new superpower, the ability to find crack in any town at any time, no matter how unfamiliar the terrain. It was easy.


COATES: Now, let's remember that Biden is facing three charges in this case. They're not drug cases. Two are around a 2018 gun purchase where prosecutors allege that he lied on a federal form, saying that he was not an addict at the time of the purchase. Now, that form was actually put into evidence today. I want to get right to Devlin Barrett. He's a law enforcement reporter for "The Washington Post," and he was in the courtroom today. Also, with me, Tim Parlatore, a CNN legal commentator.

Devlin, you are the man in the courtroom, in the courthouses all across this nation, from New York now to Wilmington, Delaware. There was a juror who broke out into tears and a nearly an hour of listening to Hunter Biden through the audio describe sinking into drug addiction. There were some pretty emotional moments for the Biden family. Tell me about what you saw in that courtroom.

DEVLIN BARRETT, LAW ENFORCEMENT REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: So, I think what struck me was the degree to which the Biden family members who are supporting him in this trial, specifically Jill Biden, the first lady, Ashley Biden, Hunter's sister, Ashley in particular was pretty emotional at times, particularly when listening to her brother's voice, talking about his addiction. And at one point, Ashley and her mother, Jill, just sort of, you know, rested their heads against each other, a very sort of quiet and soft way to console each other a little bit.

And to me, what stood out to me about that is just that there's going to be a lot of testimony coming forward in the next few days from people who were very close to Hunter Biden. And a lot of that is going to be painful testimony for the family. And that's just going to be part of this process.

COATES: Devlin, what -- what was the moment that made a juror cry? Do you know?

BARRETT: So, CNN has reported that that happened essentially at a moment when Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden's attorney, was talking about Hunter's struggles, Hunter's addiction. So, it didn't really stand out as a very specific reason. I can't point to anything right now. But, you know, a lot of these jurors said in their jury selection process that they know someone who has struggled with drug addiction.

You know, there's enough drug abuse in this country that you cannot really probably pick a jury that has no experience with that. So, I think -- I think that is going to hang over it. And -- and the prosecutors sort of acknowledge that in their opening today by saying, look, we know some of this is going to be sad and depressing and grim, but we have to get there to show you why we think there should be a conviction here.

COATES: Tim, let me bring you in here. Speaking of that, because we do know -- I mean, there are 12 jurors. Half of them own or have family who own firearms. Half are touched by drug addiction or alcoholism. Six jurors are men, five are women, one was already dismissed, and there's an alternate that's been added. When you look at the -- the perception, when you're thinking about picking a jury, would this have an impact in the way you presented a defense in this case or even the prosecution, but a defense in this case?

TIM PARLATORE, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, absolutely. I mean, these are people that are going to have experience, you know, both with the -- the addiction side but also with purchasing a firearm and knowing what that's like and going through the federal firearms licensed dealer.

And so, I think that that's going to -- that's going to help out a lot. You know, they're going to have -- you know, some of these gun owners are going to be of the mind that we have too much regulation.

And so, I think that that is going to also potentially help them. You know, things that they would be raising on appeal. Some jurors may look at that almost in a jury nullification point of view of, you know, I don't want to criminalize somebody for buying a gun. So, I do think this is a very good jury for the defense.

COATES: Now, the prosecution, I mean, they have to prove that Biden knowingly lied about being a drug addict when he bought that gun. It's got to be beyond a reasonable doubt. And they have a slim window in which they're focusing on when the gun was in his possession and when he allegedly lied on the form.


That presents a pretty daunting task to be able to pinpoint addiction, to pinpoint use, and pinpoint the allegations that it was knowing. Is that an insurmountable climb?

PARLATORE: I think it's very difficult for them because a lot of what they're presenting today, they're talking about addiction from different time periods.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

PARLATORE: A much wider range of time. And it doesn't matter whether he was addicted or using weeks before, weeks after. It's this specific period of time that is the most important.

Additionally -- and I think it's going to be very interesting once they get the dealer on the stand because, you know, these forms -- you know, gun owners have filled out these forms many times. I've filled them out myself. Some dealers are very careful of, you know, make sure you check all the boxes, you do this carefully. I've had some that just hand me -- hand it to me. They say, put your information at the top, check, note all the questions, then hand it back to me.

COATES: Sounds like a larger issue in our society, frankly, you just described.

PARLATORE: Exactly. And then when you take that, combined with if the prosecution overplays their hand as far as the addiction piece of it, to the point where they are actually undermining his ability to form the criminal intent, that also plays into the defense.

COATES: Devlin, do you get a sense of what the defense was going to be in this case?

BARRETT: Well, Tim talked about it there, and I think it's important. You talked about it, too. It's the knowingly question. Did he knowingly -- did he know that he was an addict? Did he view himself as an addict and a drug abuser when he bought this gun? The prosecution argument is you can see from his text messages around that time period that he knew that he was abusing and addicted to drugs.

As you said, the defense here is basically, no, you have to -- you have to look at this point just alone. And in this point, just alone, he wasn't. And that's going to be -- you know, that's one of the classic things the jury is going to have to make determination on.

COATES: We're going to hear from, it seems, people who he was in a relationship with. People in his past as well are going to be taking the stand, at least on the witness list. This is going to be a quite in-depth examination of that period of his life.

Devlin, thank you so much, Tim, stand by, because next, a high-profile federal fraud trial that has been going on for seven weeks. And then it was discovered that someone tried to bribe a juror by showing up at their door with more than $120,000 in cash. What happened next in just a moment.



COATES: All right, now, for this next story, I want to play a little game. Listen to what I'm about to lay out. I want you to think to yourself, is this a mob movie? Is this reality? You might be surprised by your own answer.

Now, a jury is set to begin deliberations on Monday in a high-profile federal fraud trial that connected to allegations of $250 million in stolen federal child nutrition program funds when a jury was dismissed and a juror was dismissed and replaced with an alternate. The question is, why? Because of a bribery attempt.

Now, that juror, known as juror number 52, told the FBI that a woman rang their doorbell the night before. Juror number 52 was not home at the time, but a relative answered the door. And that's when the woman handed over a gift bag with a curly ribbon, images of flowers and butterflies, and told the relative it was a -- quote -- "present for juror number 52." And that's not all. They said there'd be more if juror number 52 voted to acquit. Now, what was that present? It was $100 bills, $50 bills, and $20 bills, $120,000 total in cash.

The woman knew the juror's name, obviously knew where they live, they were at the house, even though the FBI says the general public shouldn't actually have had that information. You know who did have the information? Counsel for the government, counsel for the defense, and the seven defendants who are on trial. Now, after learning of these allegations, the judge in the case ordered all seven defendants to be held without bond, and then they sequestered the remaining jurors.

So, I ask you again, movie or reality? Now, if you thought reality, you would be right, because this happened to a real juror sitting on a real jury deciding a real case in Minneapolis where seven defendants are on trial connected to the nonprofit "Feeding Our Future." That was allegedly used to skim that, what, quarter of a billion dollars I told you about?

CNN legal commentator Tim Parlatore is back with me now. This reads like a movie for so many reasons, and they're reporting that a second juror now has been dismissed, according to CNN Affiliate Care in Minnesota, that they are learning about the bribe. So, what happens now in a case like this? If you're the prosecution, you don't want to retry this case. If you're the defense, what's your deal?

PARLATORE: Oh, it's a mess. I mean, you know, on one hand, you have the jury that's all of a sudden being sequestered and told that, you know, it's for their safety. So, the jury is definitely, you know, going to be so prejudiced against you.

But the flip side of it is if you move forward, maybe the jury can get past it. But if you take a mistrial and then retry the case later, they're going to figure this thing out. They're going to present evidence to the next jury, maybe even to this jury, about this to show evidence of guilt, you know, consciousness of guilt that if you went to go bribe this juror, if they can connect it to one of the defendants.


COATES: That's going to be the important part.

PARLATORE: It's a mess.

COATES: It's a mess. I mean, have you ever heard anything like this before? I mean, this reads like, if you told me this was a movie, I'd go, well, that wouldn't happen. But I suspect you've got a story.

PARLATORE: Well, so, you know, I came up in New York City learning from all the old mob lawyers, and one of my mentors told me a story about he had a trial, the alternate story had been dismissed, and they found out one of the jurors had been gotten to. And it was deadlocked at that point, 11 to 1. So, they dismissed the one. They went forward to the verdict of 11 to nothing. And it was first time it ever happened.

He goes in the back and the jurors or the defendant is mad at him. He says, you've got to be the stupidest lawyer ever. What do you mean? Well, this whole time, you keep saying they need 12, I need one. They need 12, I need one. I got you one. If you told me you needed two, I would've gotten you two.


COATES: Wait a second.

PARLATORE: That's not a movie. That's true.

COATES: Can you do impersonations? I am --

PARLATORE: A little. COATES: I am impressed by this. And also, that's mind boggling to think about that actually happened. And here you are, this -- I mean, dropping off cash. First of all, who is the person? We don't know who did it. But what happens to the person who dropped off from there? Are they now part of the case? It's a new case.

PARLATORE: They're going to be the next defendant. I mean --


PARLATORE: -- this is -- this is an old school gangster stuff right here. This is, you know, like the old mob.

COATES: Well, you know what, Tim, next time I have you on, we're going to do all sorts of impersonations.


I want everything. I want your biggest repertoire ever. Thank you for joining me. It's always great to have you here.

PARLATORE: Thank you.

COATES: Up next, the first reparations program in the United States is now under attack by conservatives. They're filing a lawsuit to end reparations in Evanston, Illinois. So, what does it mean for the push to grapple with past discrimination and the lingering impact of slavery? We'll talk about it next.



COATES: A sleepy suburb outside Chicago is the new battleground for reparations in America. There has been a lawsuit has been filed by a right-wing legal group that wants to kill the program in Evanston, Illinois. Reparations program gives out $25,000 to Black people who are direct descendants of Evanston residents from 1919 to 1969 and living in the city today.

It was celebrated when Evanston introduced this back in 2021. But Judicial Watch wants to end the program, saying -- quote -- "Remedying societal discrimination is not a compelling governmental interest."

Basically, it's not Evanston's job to fix America's past. But communities across the country are stepping in to fulfill one of America's broken promises, compensation for centuries of unpaid labor by people against their will, of course, while under the ownership of others. And just this evening, the L.A. Daily News reported that the L.A. County voted to explore reparations efforts.

Joining me now, Robin Rue Simmons, executive director of FirstRepair, a nonprofit supporting reparations policy. She was previously an alderman in Evanston and helped to create the reparations program there. Also, here, Dr. Rashawn Ray, sociology professor at the University of Maryland and vice president of the American Institutes for Research.

So, we begin with you here, Robin. So, the reparations program in Evanston, it has drawn hundreds of applications and applicants, and the city has paid out, I understand, nearly $5 million. What kind of impact is this program having on the Black community in Evanston?

ROBIN RUE SIMMONS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FIRSTREPAIR: Well, it has brought great hope that our city has said we will take our first steps towards repair. We have, as you mentioned, dispersed nearly $5 million, around $4.8 million to our elders and our direct descendants. And it has, first of all, brought tangible repair in the amount of $25,000, which in most cases have had a great value add with additional programs that have been added to the reparations. And it has brought a sense of hope, belief, place, ownership to the Black community that we've been building on. And so, we've started with this $20 million commitment in Evanston, and we hope to do more.

COATES: Yeah, there has been criticism, though, of the program, as I'm sure you have heard. One has been that, according to Judicial Watch, it's too broad. In the lawsuit, they say -- quote -- "At no point in the application process are persons required to present evidence that they or their ancestors experienced housing discrimination or otherwise suffered harm because of an unlawful Evanston ordinance, policy, or procedure."

Now, I know you can't comment on this case specifically, but what do you say to people who believe that the bar is just far too low?

RUE SIMMONS: Well, I'll say this. In 2019, when I called the question that led to this, and not just Evanston, now over a hundred localities that have taken their step towards reparations, I knew, we all knew this day would come. We know that there are other communities that don't believe repair is just. And so, we have been well prepared. Our legal department has been well prepared for this day. And as you -- as you stated, I'm not able to make comment, but our legal department and other legal professionals across this nation are ready to defend this case.

COATES: Let me bring in Dr. Rashawn Ray. I always value your intellect on matters like this. You know, this is not the first area, as she mentioned, to have a program that even discussed and evaluated. We saw a map where it's happening all across the country.


Why do you think programs like this continue to have the backlash? Is it the nuance of, well, it's not specific enough or is it broader?

RASHAWN RAY, VICE PRESIDENT, AMERICAN INSTITUTES FOR RESEARCH: Well, look, I think the backlash is primarily about the group that is going to potentially get some redress or repair, as Robin said, for these particular programs. See, it's important for Americans to realize and even people around the world that the United States is not against reparations. It's only against reparations for Black people. We've seen reparations for other groups. And one thing that we know historically is that in 1860, Black people's physical bodies was worth $3 billion. In that time, that was more than railroads and also factories put together.

When we look at Evanston, it's actually a consummate example where you have an incident. Redlining Chicago and the suburb are one of the classic examples where we see this around the country. And the targeted program is to specifically deal with housing. That is actually what we want. We also have to recognize that this was not that long ago.

So, part of what we have to look at is there are some people who actually want to roll back time, who actually don't want to see America actually fulfill its values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

COATES: This strikes me a real difficulty of having someone prove discrimination more broadly. You know, we had in the last hour programming with Abby Phillip. She had on an actor who talked about his own experience of having been denied his rental application even though he certainly met the economic criteria. He certainly was somebody who was well-known, and yet it was denied. He talked about bigotry being real even to this day. And there will be those who will say anecdotes are not proof of anything. It's difficult to prove discrimination more broadly.

RAY: Yeah. But look, the research is very, very clear, particularly in housing in the state of Maryland. I'm on a state of Maryland task force dealing with appraisals, dealing with home values. We know across the country that if you live in neighborhoods that are predominantly Black, holding all else equal, that that equals about $50,000 less per home. That is real money that actually contributes to the wealth gap between Blacks and whites, which is oftentimes 10 to 1.

That also contributes to what happens in the labor market, what happens in commercial real estate. There is sociological research actually documenting what happens when people enter the labor market, when it comes to whether or not a person is graduated from an Ivy League school or not, whether or not a person has a criminal record.

And here goes a key statistic for people when it comes to work and as it relates to housing and what's happening in communities. Research documents that Black people without a criminal record are less likely to get hired for a job than white people with a criminal record. That is racism. That is systemic racism.

It happens in housing. When all of a sudden you put up pictures of Black people in your home, all of a sudden, you're going to get less value for your home. That's why they tell Black homeowners to remove their pictures. Everybody knows that.

COATES: I was told -- I was told that -- I was told that exact thing. We were trying to sell more houses. It was the idea of, you know, just don't have any evidence. Remove black dolls, remove pictures of your family when they have the walkthroughs, any evidence that there might be a person of color living there. That's a very real thing. People probably are thinking, is that true? Yes.

Let me go back to our other guest who is here as well. I want to understand in terms of, Robin, where things stand here, because this is not just reparations. Conservatives have been targeting DEI programs across the country with several states who are trying to address issues, pass legislation in a variety of ways that go to a central theme that the reparations program was looking at. When you see the attack that's happening there, do you see parallels to what's happening right now in Evanston?

RUE SIMMONS: Yeah, there's no question, and this really doesn't come as any surprise. We are looking at the fearless fund, the attacks on affirmative action and voter rights and so on. So, this is in the same vein.

I also want to note that Evanston is looking to address its harm in the community. We know that we can't address the institution of slavery, but what we can do and what we're responsible to do and have made a commitment to do is address Evanston's harm. That specifically has been in the housing space, as was mentioned. And so, this does not come as a surprise, and it is an attack on the entire movement. We are looking to fight this. We will fight it. Other communities will fight it as well.

COATES: Well, the struggle will continue when addressing all these issues and seeing how this definitely will play out in the long run. And I think both of you make such really salient points trying to talk about the context and the nuance of what is really at stake. And the conversation is simply -- I mean, it could never be held in a vacuum, but really important to consider each jurisdiction trying to find their particular way.

Robin Rue Simmons, Dr. Rashawn Ray, thank you both so much.


SUE SIMMONS: Thank you.

COATES: And I want to thank you all, of course, as well, for watching this evening. "Anderson Cooper 360" is coming up next.