Return to Transcripts main page

Laura Coates Live

Judge Orders Steve Bannon To Prison By July 1; Hunter Biden Faces Trial; Prosecutor: Gilgo Beach Killings Suspect Had "Planning Document"; Biden Pitch For Democracy; Donald Trump Heads West For Big Fundraiser In Silicon Valley; "Bad Boys" Is Back With Apparent Nod To Oscars Slap. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired June 06, 2024 - 23:00   ET



LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Does the fate of the summer box office ride or die on the new "Bad Boys" movie? What Hollywood might be thinking, tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

All right, let's begin with Steve Bannon, one of the architects of Donald Trump's political success, today failing at his own bid to stay out of jail. That is unless this man can save him. That's Attorney David Schoen, who I will speak to live in just a moment.

Look, it has been, what, two years now since Bannon was convicted of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the January 6 Committee. Remember that? His excuse back then? His lawyer at the time, Robert Costello, remember him from the hush money trial? One of the witnesses called him to defense. Well, at that time, he said he didn't have to comply because he thought Trump would assert executive privilege. Uh, he didn't, and Bannon was apparently on notice of that fact as well. Well, he has been appealing his conviction ever since that time. And up until now, the judge in this case had been kind of holding off on the sentence.

But today, the judge said, enough, there was no legal reason left to delay that sentence, and he told Bannon he has to report to prison on July 1st to serve a four-month sentence. Outside the courthouse, Steve Bannon was, well, Steve Bannon.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: But I want to say something specifically about the Justice Department. Merrick Garland, Lisa Monaco, the entire Justice Department, they're not going to shut up Trump, they're not going to shut up Navarro, they're not going to shut up Bannon, and they're certainly not going to shut up MAGA. There's not a prison -- there's not a prison built -- there's not a prison built or a jail built that will ever shut me up. All victory to MAGA.


COATES: Well, Donald Trump called this an American tragedy, and he was apparently so angry that he even called to indict the January 6th Committee. Remember, those are members of Congress.

Bannon is part of a long now and growing list of Trump allies who have been sentenced to prison, people who stretched back to the Trump Organization days and the 2016 election and the 2020 campaign, and that includes Peter Navarro, who is currently in a Miami prison right now for the same reason, contempt of Congress.

Joining me now, Steve Bannon's attorney, Dave Schoen. He also represented former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. David, thank you so much for being here this evening. We're all trying to unpack all that happened in the courthouse today, and I want to ask you about what has been described as a pretty heated moment between you and Judge Carl Nichols. After he ordered Bannon to report to prison next month, you objected. Obviously, you are his counsel.

And "The New York Times" was reporting that Judge Nichols responded in a way that let him -- you know, he wasn't too thrilled with your response, saying, one thing I need you to learn as a lawyer is that when a judge has decided, you do not get up and yell at them.

Look, I know you're an advocate for your client. Explain your reaction. Were you surprised by his decision to order him to go to jail?

DAVID SCHOEN, STEVE BANNON'S LAWYER: Shocked by it. It goes against everything that he has said in this case. Judge Nichols found substantial questions for the appeal, said twice that Bannon should not be serving his time while the appeals process runs. The appeal process has not run. There's nothing about the panel decision that changed that. Judge Nichols said that the definition of willfully used in this case cannot be reconciled with the modern or traditional definition of willfully.

Laura, you know, I'm a big fan of yours, but I have to correct something you said in the monologue. Former President Trump absolutely did invoke executive privilege. Nobody disputes that. Not only that, he wrote a letter before the trial started reaffirming it in case anyone had a question about it, and that's all in the record. That's different from the Navarro case. And Judge Nichols even said today, well, you know, the Court of Appeals opinion could have mentioned that, but they didn't, and so on.

The Court of Appeals opinion is an abomination. They misstate the facts, they omit the facts, they leave out the primary argument. The primary argument here is that in the 60 years since this Licavoli case which says, willfully, solely in the context of this statute, means did you get a subpoena and comply or not comply with, no reason matters. Sixty years since then, the court has -- the definition of willfully has evolved. So, 2019 --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

SCHOEN: -- the court said literally, when Congress wants to say an act is criminal --

COATES: Uh-huh. SCHOEN: -- then they say, willfully. You must know that the act you did was illegal or wrong, or we don't attribute criminal liability to it. That's this case --

COATES: Well, David, let me --

SCHOEN: -- and that's what Nichols had found earlier.

COATES: Yeah. Let me unpack a little bit of this. And certainly, I'm not above clarification if you think it's necessary to do so. But let me talk from the audience's perspective on the case you just described. Just in plain speak, this comes down to the notion of advice of counsel and whether that was a willful action by Steve Bannon to not comply with the subpoena. If it was advice of counsel, I think he wanted to argue that, listen, it wasn't a deliberate act. It was advice of counsel he was following, and that's why he didn't provide the information to respond.

The court, though, did find, although they did wait some time, that they were -- their hands were tied on the idea of it had to be a deliberate, intentional act, and that was enough to go forward in this case.


And so here you are, getting ready to appeal this matter, likely, I'm assuming, all the way up to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Peter Navarro, though, did try to appeal to the Supreme Court. What would make this instance different to you?

SCHOEN: Peter Navarro's case is completely different. There was no executive privilege ever invoked in the case. That's what the court found. And there's no advice of counsel. Listen, the case is even before Licavoli. And in the Licavoli case, the 1961 case that Nichols says he was following, the defendant was permitted to testify as to his reasons.

At the government's behest, this Department of Justice's behest, Bannon was barred from testifying, Costello was barred from testifying about what happened and what their reasons were, and the jury was told they may not consider the reasons.

Remember, Costello got the subpoena, not Bannon. Costello, as an experienced lawyer, told Bannon, executive privilege has been invoked, you may not comply, period. It would be against the law, it's not your privilege. But, he told the committee, if you take him before a court and the court says privilege doesn't apply or it's not this broad, he will comply fully. They decided not to do that. They went on the air, posturing and so on. They're going to pursue this criminally. And that's what they chose to do.

COATES: So, what is --

SCHOEN: We don't impose criminal liability. Yeah.

COATES: I hear you. Excuse me. What is the argument you would make to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court that you think would allow your client not to serve those four months in jail time? What would be a successful legal appellate argument?

SCHOEN: Two arguments. The definition of willfully used by the Licavoli court, that this court said their hands were tied by, is no longer a valid definition of willfully in the criminal law, period. The Supreme Court has said it since 2015. In 2019, they said it expressly. There's absolutely no question about it. They say willfully means different things in different contexts.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

SCHOEN: The threshold for criminal liability is that you knew or believed you were doing something wrong. Steve Bannon believed the only thing he could do to comply with the law was what he did in this case. That's what his lawyer told him, and that's what he was entitled to rely on. The jury should have been told that. That's number one.

Number two, if you want to apply willfully this way, then you've created a separation of powers problem. Congress isn't the final arbiter when a president or former president invokes executive privilege, period. It's presumptively valid, and Congress can't decide that.

Go to a court. A court could decide it, and that's what Bannon asked them to do. They refused to do it. There's a constitutional mandate to accommodate, try to work in accommodation. D.C. Circuit has said that. They refused to do it for Steve Bannon. And that's why people lose faith in the system. We have to treat people equally.

COATES: Well, Steve Bannon has argued something different than what you were describing today. He's talking about weaponization in more loaded terms. He's talking about this being an issue that is more broadly with the narrative we're hearing about, an attack on Trump, an attempt to try to suppress MAGA as well. I mean, shutting down the MAGA movement, he has accused this judge of doing.

This is, by the way, a Trump-appointed judge. This is somebody who was a clerk, I believe, of, if I'm not mistaken, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He has been a partner at a number of law firms as well, and well-regarded. Does that undermine the arguments that you are now making?

SCHOEN: I don't think so. He undermines his own argument. He is the one who said five or six times during the trial that he thinks Licavoli was wrongly decided, but his hands are tied. He acknowledged today that this panel, the Court of Appeals panel, hands were tied. The government acknowledged it. The government argued to them, you don't have the authority to overturn Licavoli. So, nothing changed. He shouldn't have changed his bail status.

Listen, it's not such a major event in the sense that all he could have done was let him out on bail until rehearing and rehearing en banc is decided. In this case, what he did, though, is pull the rug out from under him because he has to file now. He's going to send a person to prison who he himself has said didn't comply, who he himself has said was convicted under a definition of willfully that simply is not consistent with the law. We don't do that. There's no reason to send him to prison now.


SCHOEN: Let this case play out. This is a misdemeanor.

COATES: I hear you, David. Of course, the judge disagrees and believes there's no moral legal recourse in this action. And that willfulness and that Licavoli case you're talking about seem to stand as precedent. We'll see if an appellate court agrees with you. David Schoen, thank you so much.

SCHOEN: Thank you very much.

COATES: Let's continue this conversation now with former White House Deputy Press Secretary under the Trump administration, Sarah Matthews, also CNN political commentators, former deputy chief of staff for HUD under the Trump administration, Shermichael Singleton, and senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, Karen Finney. Glad to have all of you here.

First of all, Sarah, you've testified before the House January 6th Committee. Obviously, you complied with the obligation under a subpoena. It wasn't like you raised your hand and said, pick me, pick me. The fact that this has been two years in the making and only now is the judge ordering him to go to jail, and the arguments he's making in response are about the weaponization again, what is your reaction to all of this?


SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Yeah, it's really rich, I think, to hear Steve Bannon complain that this is a weaponization of government and that MAGA is being targeted. Look, he could have just complied with the subpoena. And by complying, it doesn't even mean that he had to answer the questions of the January 6th Committee. I do wish that he had, because I think he could have shed light on the plot to try to overturn the 2020 election but, obviously, he could have just showed up and pled the Fifth. And I think General Michael Flynn did that.

So, there were other people who are loyal MAGA-like figures who complied with the subpoena, who don't find themselves in the same position that now Steve Bannon finds himself in, and he has no one to really blame but himself for now having to report to jail.

COATES: It almost strikes me as a kind of badge of honor. We keep hearing this, the idea of the honor of going to jail. I think Trump has said that in the past. He has compared himself to Nelson Mandela. Full stop. That's ridiculous.


Period. Then you've got the idea of what this would mean to prove that you, in fact, were sticking it to the man. And then you had this moment that Trump is out there talking to a number of outlets, including Dr. Phil today. And he was ranting some familiar grievances. And Dr. Phil tried to encourage him to take a higher road. Listen to what he said.


DR. PHIL MCGRAW, CNN HOST: Every situation needs a hero. What a great opportunity to step up and say, you know what? It stops here. It stops with me.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think you'll be impressed. We have to unite the country. We have to save the country. That's not really saving the country. There are people that did some bad things. I know who they are.

MCGRAW: I think you have so much to do. You don't have time to get even. You only have time to get right.

TRUMP: Well, revenge does take time. I will say that.

MCGRAW: It does.

TRUMP: And sometimes, revenge can be justified.


COATES: I mean, the phrase is a dish served cold but, apparently, he says he has -- he has time. My understanding of the presidency is that you would not have time to engage in endeavors that would not be justified under the criminal system. But what do you make of his doubling down and believing that this revenge tour is justified?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, I think Dr. Phil was trying to give the former president an out on that discussion.

COATES: We call it a softball question.

SINGLETON: I actually agree with Dr. Phil. I mean, if you want to get revenge on a group of people or your political adversaries, then let the revenge be your success in governing. Let the revenge be your ability to say, you know, I've brought down unemployment further or the economy is booming and everybody of every ethnicity seems to be making more money and their savings accounts are flushed with cash. That, to me, is an articulable political revenge, if you will.

COATES: What were you talking about? I was talking about Trump. Who do you mean?



COATES: Who do you mean?

SINGLETON: I'm just answering the question, Laura, in terms of if I were to say, hey, I'm going to seek revenge, my revenge would be look at my success and my accomplishments under my tenure.

COATES: You know, you look at the idea of somebody who's trying to be the head of the executive branch and could wield power. That's what he's trying to do in this revenge tour of sorts and talking about the future.

There is a current head of the executive branch, President Biden. His son is in trial in a federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. He has said, look, if he's convicted, he's not going to pardon him, he's not going to use the power that he could. What did you -- listen to what he actually said about this point, by the way.


DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Let me ask you, will you accept the jury's outcome, their verdict, no matter what it is?


MUIR: And have you ruled out a pardon for your son?



COATES: What did you make of that answer?

FINNEY: Full stop. Easy answer, actually, for the president of the United States of America, Joe Biden, because he is a decent, honorable human being who understands that his son did something wrong and needs to be held accountable --

COATES: If he's convicted.

FINNEY: -- if he's convicted. And as we've seen throughout all of the trials and tribulations, frankly, with Hunter, this president has not once tried to put his finger on the scale, tried to massage the evidence, tried to do anything. He hasn't threatened anybody. He has stayed out of it, quite frankly, and just said, I'm his father and I love him, which, you know, I think -- I think a lot of people can actually relate to.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

FINNEY: And so, I hope that for those voters in the middle who are still trying to decide, when we talk about character and what matters, that's what matters. That's a man of honor. Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are cowards. I mean, they are doing everything they can to avoid accountability. And you only do that when you're a coward and you don't want to be held accountable.

And you know, Trump is saying, like, well, I'm not afraid to go to jail. That's such a load of BS, and we know it, that he's terrified of it. But this is the kind of big sort of bully talk that he, you know, likes to bluster.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

FINNEY: Sarah would know far better than I. But -- and again, I hope people see through it and see that's a coward, that is not a man of character.

COATES: Let me bring you into this, Sarah, because there are a number of people who share the sentiment that Karen has just said.


Some of them are Republicans and some of them are anti-Trump Republicans. Biden, we understand, is just now more fulsomely reaching out to those particular people who could be his allies. I guess the idea of the enemy of my enemy is my political friend We understand he has reached out to Cassidy Hutchinson as well. Has anyone reached out to you, do you expect them to, and would you be receptive?

MATTHEWS: No one has reached out to me. I am open to a conversation. I have said publicly that if my choices in November are Joe Biden and Donald Trump, that I will have no choice but to vote for Joe Biden. I don't really necessarily view it as a vote for Joe Biden, but more so a vote against Trump. I just can't in good faith vote for someone who has shown us that he will not uphold the Constitution and who to this day will not admit that he lost the 2020 election and was the first president to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

And so, I would encourage other Americans to follow suit. I know right now, I think there are a lot of people like myself, whether that be moderate Republicans or independents, who are hugely disappointed with their options in 2024. And I empathize with that.

But at the end of the day, I can put policy aside and know that Joe Biden is a person of good character and who will be a good leader for us, whereas Donald Trump has shown us what kind of leader he was at the end of his first administration.

COATES: Well, look, if that is a shared sentiment, he's got about 150 days to try to envelop more people into the fold. That's the whole point of the general election. The primary season is really done for the presidency. Now, what are they going to do about it? Thank you so much to all of you.

Ahead, some really shocking new details in the Gilgo Beach killings as suspect Rex Heuermann is now indicted on two additional murder charges. Prosecutors say that they found some kind of an actual planning document that outlined future killings. The D.A. who is leading this case joins me next.



COATES: I need to give you a warning about our next story. Now, what you are about to hear, I mean, is extremely graphic, and it brings us inside the mind of an alleged serial killer, suspected murderer Rex Heuermann, who is now charged in the grisly deaths of two additional women, Jessica Taylor, killed in 2003, and Sandra Costilla in 1993. Now, Heuermann is already charged with killing four other women known as the Gilgo Four. And today, this mountain of evidence against this defendant, it continues to grow.

Prosecutors detailing a document recovered from a laptop in March that they say was some kind of a blueprint for his alleged serial killings. Prosecutors allege that that document was created back in 2000 and updated over the years before Heuermann tried to delete it.

There were sections about how to prep a body for disposal, saying -- quote -- "remove trace evidence, remove ID marks, and remove marks from torture." Additional horrific details in the document under -- quote -- "things to remember" section like hit harder and more sleep and noise control equals more playtime. Heuermann maintaining his innocence and pleading not guilty to these new charges.

I want to bring in Raymond Tierney, the Suffolk County, New York district attorney. I mean, it's -- it's so disturbing to hear these allegations. I mean, this -- this planning document alone, it is just chilling to think about. In your years as a D.A., have you ever seen anything like a document that is now part of the allegations?

RAYMOND TIERNEY, SUFFOLK COUNTY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: No, I've never seen a written document such as this.

COATES: Where did you find it?

TIERNEY: We found it in a laptop that we recovered from his -- the basement in his house. It had been erased, and we used forensic tools to recover it.

COATES: What has taken this amount of time to get to this point? Obviously, these were very cold cases. There's -- they're getting hotter and hotter. Additional indictments now. Can you just walk me through this new physical evidence that you say allegedly connects Heuermann to these additional murders? Is it -- is it DNA-based?

TIERNEY: So, it's a number of things. I think the key evidence is DNA. We recovered a hair from Jessica Taylor. That hair matches the DNA profile of the defendant. And then with regard to Sandra Costilla in 1993, two -- two hairs were recovered from her, a female and a male. The male hair matches the DNA profile of the defendant and the female hair matches the DNA profile of a woman who was cohabitating with the defendant shortly before the murder.

COATES: Does that mean that we should anticipate a potential co- defendant?

TIERNEY: No, I think it's something known as transfer DNA. When -- you know, if you live with some -- somebody, their DNA can get on -- get on your -- your -- your clothes and then you could transfer it to a third party. I think the theory and our allegation in this case is in -- with regard to all six of the murders.

All of the people close to the defendant were out of town or out of the house during the time of the commission of the -- of the murders, which gave the defendant to perform some of the acts which we allege were -- were -- were listed in the -- in the planning document.

COATES: I mean, this was a married man with children. The idea that this would have been committed possibly to this evidence found in the home, allegedly. I mean, it's also the timeline here. I mean, some of these murders and some of these bodies, this had been committed over decades.


And frankly, it has been a year since even Heuermann himself was arrested and that house was searched multiple times. Why do you think it took so long to get this planning document and other evidence to come to light?

TIERNEY: So, we -- my office -- you know, we -- I occupied the office beginning in 2022. You know, we -- we formed a task force. We had success. Obviously, when you talk about a case that's 12 or 13 years old, it takes a lot of time. There's a lot of evidence to sift through. And then once we made arrests and made the arrest and searched, he had over 350 smart devices in his house --


TIERNEY: -- many of whom were encrypted. So, it takes a while forensically to go through all that stuff.

COATES: Three hundred and fifty smart devices. I mean, I cannot believe you're talking about the literal mountain of evidence that you were building in this case. But this planning document, I mean, it outlined something that said possible problems at a murder scene and supplies needed. It is shocking in its detail and specificity. Is there a hunch that this suspect might be connected to even more killings?

TIERNEY: So, on Gilgo Beach, there were -- there are 10 bodies on Gilgo Beach. We've charged five of those 10 bodies. We -- we initially charged what we known as the Gilgo Four. We said we weren't going to stop. We said we were going to -- we were going to investigate the bodies on the beach as well as the bodies in Suffolk County in general. We've done that. And the indictment for the charges pertaining to Miss Costilla and Miss Taylor are the fruits of those labors. We're going to continue. We're not going to stop.

COATES: He had property, I understand, in other areas of the country. Is there a coordinated effort to also have investigations in those areas as well?

TIERNEY: Yes. You know, I have jurisdiction in Suffolk County.

COATES: Right.

TIERNEY: And as part of the task force, we've accumulated a massive amount of evidence with regard to this defendant, and we collaborate with all of our partners in all the jurisdictions.

COATES: When do you think the trial in this case might take place? You mentioned over 300 different smart devices. Is there a sense of when this trial might actually happen?

TIERNEY: Well, you know, one of the things that we have is a tremendous amount of evidence. We also have cutting edge scientific evidence with regard to phone. We also have cutting edge DNA evidence. So, all of that has to be vetted by the court. Motions need to be made. Experts need to come in and testify. So, we have a long way to go. We're prepared. These are allegations. We look forward to proving them in court.

COATES: While you were speaking, there was a screenshot of all the different types of evidence and devices. I mean, it is mind-boggling and bone-chilling to even hear these allegations. District Attorney Raymond Tierney, thank you for joining us this evening.

TIERNEY: Thank you.

COATES: Ahead, President Biden meeting with D-Day vets in France as he prepares to deliver a big pitch on the global stage. His case for democracy at a time of extraordinary uncertainty, next.


BIDEN: Isolationism was not the answer 80 years ago and is not the answer today.




COATES: Well, tomorrow, President Biden will use the historic backdrop of Normandy, France to illustrate the binary choice that he says America and the world face, democracy or authoritarianism. He is expected to target both Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Donald Trump. The president giving a bit of a glimpse of that message while speaking at the 80th anniversary of D-Day today.


BIDEN: Now we have to ask ourselves, will we stand against tyranny, against evil, against crushing brutality of the iron fist? Will we stand for freedom? Will we defend democracy? Will we stand together? My answer is yes. It only can be yes.



COATES: Well, this speech comes as the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II is raging right now in Ukraine. Biden is going to speak at a cliff that U.S. forces captured from the Germans and where another president gave a powerful speech some 40 years ago.




These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.


COATES: With me now, retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore. Thank you so much for joining us today, general. The Biden administration is -- is billing this speech as a message to the entire world about not only freedom, but American democracy. Can you tell me from your perspective, what do you think President Biden needs to convey to try to reassure allies?

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, RETIRED U.S. ARMY: Well, we have a term we throw around, lessons learned. The lesson learned is unleashed tyranny, as was in World War 11. These men recognized the living that was recognized today, and the honor given to the dead, those that did not come home, 9,000, in that one cemetery there, in Normandy, recognized the fact the sacrifice they made so we could live free in democracies and countries had the opportunity to do that.


The president is using this stage, I think, in a very artful way to remind the American people and remind the world that this war was fought because of the aggression of the Hitler fascist regime, which wanted to take over the world and wanted -- and dominated that part of Europe --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

HONORE: -- and murdered people because of their religion. The president is reminding us, using this point of honor for those that are living, and to honor the dead tomorrow, that this could happen again.

And only Ukraine is another example. When we look at the Russian aggression in the Ukraine, I think it's adequate that the president -- because a lot of people don't know this history. They haven't studied it. They don't know the sacrifices that were made.

So, I think the president, like President Reagan and every president in between, has used this moment to recognize the sacrifice.


HONORE: But this president is using it to remind us the importance of defending democracy.

COATES: Well, general, you know, he is the commander in chief. He's also a political figure, as you well know, and there is going to be an intersection of these two points. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell actually called out the isolationist members of the Republican Party in an op-ed that he wrote in "The New York Times" today. And I'm going to quote a part of it for you.

He says, it should not take another catastrophic attack like Pearl Harbor to wake today's isolationists from the delusion that regional conflicts have no consequences for the world's most powerful and prosperous nation.

As you know, Trump is arguably one of the leading voices on this notion of isolationism. What message will it send the world if that particular political philosophy is leading the nation again?

HONORE: It could have catastrophic impact on us. Not just people in Europe that's getting a taste of this authoritarianism. We see it spreading throughout Europe and throughout the world. And democracy is losing ground. And I agree with Senator McConnell on this or more statements that he has ever made in recent years.

But it scares me, the voice and the rhetoric coming out of former President Trump and this idea of isolationism, backing away from NATO, he is friends with Putin. It scares the hell out of me.

And it's time to do this on this stage in the front of these veterans who -- this may be their last trip to one of these anniversary meetings, that they will go on to the big bivouac in the sky knowing that America is still free in a democracy, which so many of their friends, 9,000 of them in Normandy, gave their lives for. So, I think this speech tomorrow is very important for President Biden to give, and the world needs to hear it and need to be reminded.

COATES: Indeed, the weight of this moment is certainly upon us. I'm sure the president does feel this at a time like this. And yet there are polls that show that more Americans believe that the United States is providing too much assistance to Ukraine compared to the start of the war. And some who support an isolationist stance argue that America just spends too much money, too much time on foreign problems and not enough on domestic issues.

I don't know you can separate the two in a world that we are in, but how do you think the American electorate could balance these two notions?

HONORE: I think Americans need to be reminded, we are 5% of the world population. We consume 25% of the world's stuff. We are blessed with a great economy, a great workforce, with a great ethic, with a great education system.

Yeah, there are issues here we need to deal with. We need to deal with our water, we need to deal with our air, we need to deal with our coastline, but this war in Ukraine is the front line to stop Putin from going through Europe just like Hitler marched through 80 years ago. Because he will not stop in Ukraine. It's a given fact.

He wants to reimpose the Soviet empire through kinetic artillery, air support and naval support, and overtake Europe. That's his objective. He's an old KGB agent with a lot of oil fields and gas. That's all he is. We have to stop Putin in Ukraine, and we have to save the people of Ukraine. And oh, by the way, we're doing this with materiel and money, not with boots on the ground. The whole NATO war plan was to stop the Soviets from attacking. We let them go into Georgia, and we let them go into Croatia. We look the other way. We cannot look the other way.


He must be stopped in Ukraine, and we must help the people of Ukraine by providing them the equipment we need. We're doing this with no boots on the ground.

COATES: Lieutenant General Russel Honore, what a pleasure to speak with you this evening. Thank you for your service and for joining us tonight.

HONORE: God bless America. I'm wearing the First Army patch here. The patch that General Omar Bradley wore as he led the U.S. Army in the invasion of Normandy.

COATES: What an incredible moment to see that on you. Thank you, sir.

HONORE: Good evening. God bless America.

COATES: Next, big names in Silicon Valley are turning to Trump. Why more and more tech entrepreneurs are embracing MAGA and even hosting some pretty lavish fundraisers in the heart of left-leaning San Francisco.



COATES: Well, what's going on in Silicon Valley? For one, Donald Trump is there tonight attending a private fundraiser co-hosted by well- known tech entrepreneurs. The price for entry? A cool $300,000 a head, as much as $500,000 per couple. So, you get a little bit deal, a discount. Trump's visit is raising questions about whether the once- liberal stronghold is becoming a bit more red.

Recent headlines, they might tell the story. Silicon Valley elite warms to Donald Trump. Trump's Silicon Valley supporters are all in this time. One of the obvious ones, Elon Musk, who's been getting a whole lot Trumpier, perhaps as of late. Trump himself praising Musk today.


TRUMP: I'm a fan of Elon. I like Elon.


But, you know, I like him. And I think a lot of people are going to want to buy electric cars. But if you want to buy a different type of car, you're going to have a -- you have to have a choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: But, you know, it's not just Elon Musk. I mean, one of the men hosting tonight's fundraiser, David Sachs, hopes events like his will give cover to other tech bigwigs to publicly embrace MAGA. Sachs telling "The New York Times" -- quote -- "It's safe to say there's a wellspring of support in Silicon Valley.

Joining me now, "New York Times" reporter Teddy Schleifer, who has been all over how big money is impacting politics. Teddy, so glad you're here. So, why are these techies doing this? What do they want from Trump?

THEODORE SCHLEIFER, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think that there has been a reaction to Biden in Silicon Valley that I don't even think Democrats predicted. This is not really about Trump's kind of appeal to folks in Silicon Valley because I don't necessarily think there's that much of a mind meld between the two of them.

But if you talked with kind of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, they think that Joe Biden is Darth Vader. There is a sense that the regulatory state has gone overboard and, you know, that who cares what Joe Biden thinks about climate change or immigration, all these issues that used to matter a lot to the industry during the Obama era and certainly maybe during the beginning of the Biden era.

Now, there has been this intense backlash. I'm not saying this is true for all people in tech or maybe not even for the median person in tech, but in the uppermost elite echelon of Silicon Valley, people who are billionaires, Joe Biden has never been less popular.

COATES: Are there certain sectors of Silicon Valley that this impacts more than others?

SCHLEIFER: You know, I think that -- you mentioned Elon Musk. Elon is sort of, I think, as the tip of the spear, of kind of -- a type of center-left tech leader who cares primarily about economic issues. But, you know, if you look at Elon Musk's Twitter feed, you don't have to know that he cares a lot about the border --


SCHLEIFER: -- cares a lot about, you know, what he calls the woke mind virus. I don't really think it's necessarily a certain sub-industry in tech that is upset about Joe Biden, but it's a certain class of entrepreneur who's usually male, usually white and usually very wealthy, who is just fed up with what they see as, you know, a Biden dictatorship, so to speak.

COATES: So, who is David Sachs?

SCHLEIFER: So, David Sachs is somebody who, a couple years ago, was just Silicon Valley famous. But he has kind of become like a media sensation. He's the host of a podcast called "All In," which has really taken off in popularity, found product market fit in tech speak. He's a close friend of Elon Musk. They used to work together at PayPal 20 years ago, 25 years ago. Also, very close friend with Peter Thiel. And over the last couple of years, David Sachs has become sort of this unlikely political maestro. He is hiring aides to guide his political giving. He's starting political action committees. And tonight, he's hosting a fundraiser at his mansion in San Francisco, which is going to raise about $12 or $13 million for the Trump campaign.

COATES: That's no light lift. Why Trump in particular? Why do you think he's putting his weight behind him?

SCHLEIFER: So, it actually wasn't Trump at first. You know, David Sachs probably -- if they've heard of him -- if they've heard from him, the reason why they might have, was last spring, David Sachs and Elon Musk were the two people who launched the Ron DeSantis campaign on Twitter. You may remember that the Twitter stream was very glitchy. It was -- you know, it has become this metaphor maybe for the glitches of the DeSantis campaign itself. David Sachs wanted DeSantis to win. And lots of people in Silicon Valley -- sorry, David Sachs wanted Ron DeSantis to win.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

SCHLEIFER: And, you know, for lots of folks in the industry, Donald Trump was not their first choice. But if your choice is Robert F. Kennedy or Donald Trump, when you're deciding you don't want a Joe Biden president, Republicans in Silicon Valley are getting on the Trump train.

And, you know, I think that Trump is going to be making more trips to the Valley. This is his first trip to San Francisco in over a decade. But he is finding that this industry, which is so associated with liberalism, with openness, with sort of the Obama-era (INAUDIBLE) between, you know, the optimism of the tech industry, that's done. It's a pretty dark place in some corners of Silicon Valley now.

COATES: Is this a one-off or there are other people or other fundraisers up ahead? I mean, the amount of money, you're talking about raising --


COATES: -- is an already huge haul from the hush money trial.


SCHLEIFER: So, Donald Trump is there in part because of J.D. Vance, who is a, you know, possible vice-presidential candidate.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

SCHLEIFER: And Vance has really been encouraging the Trump campaign to not write off these rich tech people. Lots of Republicans have for a long time. And, you know, Trump did in 2016 and 2020. He barely cultivated these people. But his crew is not stupid. They can see the energy that is kind of fomenting against Joe Biden, and they can see the fact there's an opportunity here for the first time in decades for conservatives to become, you know, big fundraisers in the tech industry. I think there's a good chance Trump does another one of these before November.

COATES: I mean, you talk about the upper echelon and the elite. That's not the average voter.


COATES: But Silicon Valley must have a cost-benefit analysis for this campaign to think about. So great to hear your perspective, Teddy Schleifer. Always so informative. Thank you so much.

Up ahead, Will Smith is back on the big screen with the new "Bad Boys" movie hitting theaters. It gives a bit of a wink and a nod to that infamous Oscar slap. But will it give a boost to a summer of already movie flops? That's next.



MARTIN LAWRENCE, ACTOR: Are these dogs fresh? Get me one. Put some relish on that (bleep).

UNKNOWN: Open the register. Stay right there.

WILL SMITH, ACTOR: Is that Skittles on the counter, Marcus?

LAWRENCE: They ain't mine.

UNKNOWN: Yes, it is.

SMITH: Marcus, get in the car.

LAWRENCE: He has a gun to my head.

SMITH: You want to deal with him or you want to deal with me?

LAWRENCE: Sorry, sir, but I got to go.

Call 911.



COATES: The "Bad Boys" are back now for the fourth installment. They're calling it the fourth quill. Do I like that? I don't know. It's of the fourth quill of the franchise, "Bad Boys: Ride or Die," and it hits theaters on Friday. And this time, the world's famous bad boys are now fugitives. Now, filmmakers are hoping for huge box office numbers after some pretty poor showings recently.

And this, by the way, is Will Smith's second big movie after what they know is the slap heard around the world of the 2022 Oscars. And apparently, we're being told that he gets slapped repeatedly in this new movie and what reviews are citing as some sort of a homage to the incident. I don't know if that's the right phrasing for it. But Will Smith is posting to his Instagram this behind-the-scenes footage of him operating the camera while acting, showing everyone, hey, I still got it.

So, are people ready to embrace the "Bad Boys" yet again or will "Bad Boys 4" take a hit? Here with me now to crunch some numbers, CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten. We'll call him a good boy today.


COATES: How you doing?

ENTEN: You know, I want to call myself a bad boy. Why don't I get called? There are no number crunchers who are bad boys. I feel like I could be the bad boys of the number crunchers. Steve Kornacki can be the good boy of the number crunchers, okay?

COATES: I don't know. Do you have like rolled up sleeves and some chinos you're going to wear? That's like the good boy uniform. What are you wearing right now?

ENTEN: I'm wearing shorts right now. If I could possibly lift up my legs to the camera --


ENTEN: -- you could see I'm wearing red shorts. So, I am a bad boy.

COATES: Well, for that, you are John McEnroe and you are officially a bad boy.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COATES: So, there you go. That's what we're going to do. Now, I have a whole vision of what's happening down below.


COATES: So, are people still hungry for this franchise and for Will Smith in particular? Because, as you know, there was a huge backlash to what happened.

ENTEN: Yeah. You know, I rarely give professional advice to folks, but on this one, I do have to give, and that is do not slap somebody in public. All right? Do not do it. Because we can see in Will Smith's Q score, which is essentially the amounts of Americans who say that he is one of their favorites, pre-slap, it was a 39. It has now dropped to less than half of that, at 19. So, no, Will Smith is not anywhere near as popular as he once was, and it's very clear that Americans do not like their stars slapping other American stars.

COATES: I didn't know there was a thing called a Q score, but I do wonder how that compares, because 19 still sounds pretty high. At the end of the day, you know, he was and still is a very popular actor, even if it has gone down. And this is a very popular franchise, though. So, what's usually expected from the first three "Bad Boys" movies, let alone the first one? ENTEN: Yeah, yeah. So, you know, what is expected on this opening weekend, right? What could be considered decent? So, we can look back at what the third film pulled in on its opening weekend. It was 62.5 million. This fourth film, the forecast is for at least $40 million. If it doesn't hit that, let's say it comes in at $25 million, that may seem pretty decent.

But remember, this is a film whose budget, I believe, was $100 million. Twenty-five million ain't going to cut it. Forty plus million is the benchmark we're looking at. That is under what the third film made. But, of course, the third film grossed well more, well into the hundreds of millions of dollars. So, at this point, $40+ million, I think, is a good benchmark for "Bad Boys 4."

COATES: That's your budget, right? About $100 million?

ENTEN: Yeah, of course.

COATES: There you go. Same thing.

ENTEN: For this thing. For this thing.

COATES: I mean, what are we going to do? Also, I wonder -- look, there might be the slap effect, but there's also a world where everyone is streaming. I mean, are people even going to the movies enough to make the same sort of money that they used to make before that was the omnipresent option?

ENTEN: Yeah, no. Look, people have not been turning out to films as much as they used to. Look at the 2024 domestic box office year to date versus just last year. It's down 27%. Versus 2019 pre-pandemic, down 43%. Folks are not going to the movies as much as they used to.

I'm trying to think back up. I've been to a movie this year, and I don't believe that I have. I've been at home streaming those films. It's very easy. You know, I flip over. When I'm not on your show, I go -- you know, I'm able to stream your show, and then I'm able to flip over to another film. It's one of these things. I can't watch you, at least in a movie. Not yet, but maybe one day for you, Laura.


COATES: It's funny you should say something. I'm up for an Oscar. It's the whole thing. Don't ask me about it. I'm just kidding. Seriously. But I'm always the movies. I love -- I'm a go to the movies like the "Annie." Let's go to the movies. Let's go see a show. For some reason, I always love it. And I don't mind an empty theater for the matinee, but don't tell anyone that I'm not at a meeting for that reason.

ENTEN: Sure, of course.

COATES: Harry Enten, thank you so much. And thank you all for watching. "Anderson Cooper 360" is next.