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Laura Coates Live

Biden Faces Calls To Quite The Race; Laura Coates Interviews Michigan Undecided Voters; Supreme Court Limits Obstruction Charges And To Issue Decision On Trump Immunity. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired June 28, 2024 - 23:00   ET



PAM HEMPHILL, SERVED TWO MONTHS IN PRISON FOR INVOLVEMENT IN J6 RIOT: Yeah, because he has done a great job of brainwashing them.


HEMPHIL: But it won't happen. But it won't happen. Biden is going to win. It's going to be close. But in my opinion, I don't even -- the way they think, there won't be -- why wait for an election? Because the election will be rigged again. Remember how he answered that? Oh, yeah. Same way he did before. So, because of what I'm learning and the connection now that they have with Ammon Bundy, I foresee a revolt happening before the election.

PHILLIP: All right, Pam Hemphil, thank you very much for joining us.

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

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Panic at 1600. Can President Biden survive the pressure to drop out of the race? A former Democratic presidential candidate is here to make the case that now is the time for a new nominee. But is it too late or a hasty decision and wrong? We'll see about that.

Plus, forget the pundits. What do the people think? My riveting conversation with voters in battleground Michigan, who may very well decide this race, and their answers may surprise you.

Sudden, uncontrollable fear. That is the textbook definition of panic, and it's exactly what we're seeing across the Democratic Party tonight after President Biden's halting debate. But is it warranted or not?

Well, by now, you have probably seen the moments that triggered a lot of this anxiety, haven't you? Either you were one of the more than 50 million Americans who saw it live or the tens of millions of others who watch clips on social media, clips like this one.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What I've been able to do with the -- with the COVID -- excuse me, with dealing with everything we have to do with. Look, if we finally beat Medicare -- (END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: The second the debate was over, the seeds of doubt were planted.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there's a lot of people who are going to want to see him consider taking a different course now. We're still far from our convention and there is time for this party to figure out a different way forward if he will allow us to do that.


COATES: Twenty-four hours later, "The New York Times" editorial board in black and white with this headline tonight, "To Serve His Country, President Biden Should Leave the Race." Quote -- "given that very danger, the stakes for the country and the uneven abilities of Mr. Biden, the United States needs a stronger opponent to the presumptive Republican nominee" -- unquote.

Now, that op-ed was published after the president tried to compete with a very energetic speech at a North Carolina rally, albeit off of a teleprompter midday in front of a very generously cheering crowd.


BIDEN: I know I'm not a young man.


State the obvious.

I don't walk as easy as I used to. I don't speak as smoothly as I used to. I don't debate as well as I used to. But I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth! I know how to do this job!


I know how to get things done!



COATES: He went on to say that he intends to win this election. Translation, he's not going anywhere. Well, Donald Trump actually seems to agree.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many people are saying that after last night's performance, that Joe Biden is leaving the race. But the fact is, I don't really believe that because he does better in polls than any of the Democrats are talking about.


COATES: Now, some of the top Democrats in the country are just trying to woosah everyone to calm everyone down. They chalk it up to a bad night. I'm talking about people like President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Congressman James Clyburn, Vice President Harris, too, who argues that Biden -- Biden may have had a bad debate, but she says Trump is a bad president.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For all the punditry last night, for all of that, our president made clear there is a contrast between someone who lies and someone who leads.



COATES: Joining us now, former Democratic congressman and presidential candidate Tim Ryan. So good to see you this evening. Thank you for joining. It has been a pretty wild 24 hours. Everyone was anticipating this debate.

Back in 2022, I remember you called for what was generational change. At that point in time, you suggested that President Biden should not run for re-election. Now, he didn't announce until, I think, April of 2023 that he would.


There was that would he, won't he moment. For you, is this feeling like an "I told you so" kind of moment?

TIM RYAN, FORMER OHIO REPRESENTATIVE: Well, there's too much at stake, really, to get into the personal stuff. I just -- I always felt, like in 2020, he was the bridge candidate. I was one of the first people who ran in 2020 to endorse him because I thought, you know what, that's a good idea, let's beat Donald Trump, let's have a bridge, but then let's get to the next generation, and it's looking like that may not happen.

COATES: When you were watching the performance last night and, of course, the fallout since then, there has been people talking about the substance or lack thereof from some of the responses. There's about the -- the -- personalities that were at play. It's about the actual performance as well. It really has run the gamut, but not overwhelmingly favorable at all.

I do wonder, from your perspective, seeing things like "The New York Times" editorial board saying, I'll read a quote for you. "Democrats who have deferred to Mr. Biden must now find the courage to speak plain truths to the party's leader."

They're saying essentially that he should not be in this race any longer. Do you agree with that?

RYAN: I do. I do, which is sad because I remember Joe Biden kicking Paul Ryan's rear end on the debate stage, and I remember being at rallies with him and feeling good. But seasons change, and we're in a position now where even Joe Biden has said the most important thing is to beat Donald Trump. So, we have to make the decision as a party to beat Donald Trump. And what was most, I think, threatening last night is the way Trump was able to start reshaping COVID, reshaping the economy, reshaping abortion rights.

And look, there's so much at stake for women in this election. We have to have a candidate that can articulate the pro-choice position and how it's the largest governmental overreach in this country. These women in America are free. They don't want the government in their bodies.

If we can't make that basic democratic argument, if we can't push back against the lies and then put a big vision forward for the country, we're in a really bad spot. And I think, you know, the leaders in the Democratic Party have to come together, and we've got to move towards a plan B.

And it's not like I don't think there's a problem with that, like, we have so much talent. We have Gretchen Whitmer and Governor Shapiro and Senator Warnock and Kelly and Sherrod Brown in Ohio. We've got so much talent. What is wrong with going to a convention and showing the American people that we have a talented group of people, especially our governors, that are doing a phenomenal job?

Our senators have passed bills to reindustrialize the country, Infrastructure Chips Act, inflation reduction, dealing with climate. Let's -- let's go show the world what we got.

COATES: Well, just two points. One, I noticed you did not include Vice President Harris as part of that list of people. Why not?

RYAN: I think she'd be -- I've rarely seen a political figure evolve as much as I thought. Heard her interviews last night, absolutely incredible, like, I thought she did a phenomenal job. I think she has grown so much in the job. I don't say that in a condescending way, like, these jobs are tough.


RYAN: She has grown into this job. I think she meets the sweet spot around choice around what the younger generation wants. And she would have four months to go out and campaign. I mean, why wouldn't we want to give her a chance to do that and, you know, put a V.P on --


RYAN: -- and like, let's go.

COATES: Let me ask --

RYAN: So, I think that would be -- that would be very exciting. COATES: The second point, though, the question, why not? And it can

feel rhetorical when people ask that the way you have. But then again, some people have a response. The, why not? They will look at the calendar, and they'll say, hold on. Democrats have had four years to do something. We're talking weeks from the RNC convention. We're talking a few more weeks from that to the DNC convention. And then what? A hundred twenty-nine days to the presidential general election.

RYAN: Yeah.

COATES: Is it too late to do anything different now?

RYAN: No. I mean, it's not like 1920 where you have to get on a train and go around the country. We have a big convention. Whoever emerges from that will be a household name around the world within 24 hours.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

RYAN: And with social media today, and I think the excitement that it would generate -- and it's not a stepping down for Joe Biden. It's a -- it's a stepping up to meet the responsibilities that we have. You know, I thought a lot about, in the last couple of weeks, we traveled to Germany, the Berlin Wall, we saw these things, I thought about President Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis.


And I think this is what the average person in Ohio thinks about, whether it's consciously or subconsciously, he had the Joint Chiefs of Staff pushing him, humiliating him, calling him names because he was afraid to go to World War III. And he had the force to stand up to them.

And I think when the American people watch a debate like that, they want someone who is able to not just present during a debate or give a fiery speech, but in those tough moments, historical moments, are you able to stand up and understand what's going on, understand the context, understand the details and be able to say no, and stand up to forces that are coming your way, whether it's interest groups or protesters or Vladimir Putin or whatever it may be?

And unfortunately, as sad as it is, they didn't see that last night. And that's a problem because Trump, as many times as he's lied, he came off as stronger.

COATES: You have to wonder, in a debate format, the things you've just described, to me, speak about governance. I don't know you can capture the breadth of what you've just described and what it would take to govern in a debate performance for either candidate, for any candidate, to be able to capture all those things. That's probably one of the main conundrums of thinking about it.

But before I let you go, I know we don't have much time, let's say Biden stays in because he doesn't seem to say or suggest in any way that he is stepping down, he has fight in him, he says, and that, of course, means that Vice President Harris would be debating whoever would be the inevitable choice of Donald Trump as their running mate.

There was a conversation we had on this very show where a former communications director to Vice President Harris said that she felt the most formidable opponent for a V.P debate, let alone the opposition, would be Senator J.D. Vance --

RYAN: Uh-hmm.

COATES: -- for Vice President Harris. Do you agree with that?

RYAN: He's a talented guy. I mean, I ran against him. I debated him.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

RYAN: Thought I'd beat him in the debates. But he's -- he knows, I think, how to present, and I think put lipstick on the Trumpism pig and make it -- make it seem like there's this intellectual coherence behind that. He's very talented at doing that.

And yeah, I think -- I think -- but I think she would do very, very well against him because at the end of the day, he is like the top bootlicker for -- for Donald Trump, like, he is the one who I think Trump would feel the most comfortable with because he would be very subservient to him. So, I think that would make Trump feel very comfortable.

But he does have a way of articulating this right-wing extreme agenda and kind of make it sometimes seem palatable. I think that that would make it, I think, challenging for her, but I think she would do fantastic.

COATES: Well, we've got a lot of days between now and the general election, not as many as I'm sure they would like, but your position seems very clear. Congressman, thank you for joining.

RYAN: Thank you.

COATES: I want to bring in the author of "The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden's White House," Chris Whipple. Chris, thank you for joining this evening.

CHRIS WHIPPLE, AUTHOR: Good to be with you.

COATES: It has been quite a 24-hour period, I have to say.

WHIPPLE: It has.

COATES: And before Biden decided to run, you said that Dr. Jill Biden would have been the only person who could have talked him out of running. Is that still the case today?

WHIPPLE: Yeah, I believe it is. And look, I think, obviously, Joe Biden had a terrible night. But unless there's something wrong with him that we're not aware of, he's going to be the nominee. And by the way, nothing will make him more determined to keep running than a "New York Times" editorial suggesting that he get out. There's no love lost between Joe Biden and "The New York Times."

But the notion that the cavalry will somehow come riding in magically and persuade Joe Biden to step aside in favor of some other candidate is just a fantasy. I mean, it really would require a kind of family intervention by Jill Biden, Hunter, his sister, Val, God knows who else, Ted Kaufman, perhaps Mike Donilon, to persuade him to step aside. There's no indication that they want to do that.

Even if that succeeded, then you have the problem of this disparate Democratic Party somehow magically coalescing around some candidate, and who knows who that would be? And, of course, the notion of the whole idea of an open convention, that way just lies disaster. I mean, we've been down that road before. So, look, there is no plan B, no viable plan B. I think it's going to be Joe Biden.

COATES: Well, you know what? There's a lot of ifs to get to, even a potential consideration for somebody else. Stick around. I want to come right back to you.

But I want to expand our conversation with CNN political commentator Karen Finney, CNN opinion contributor Sophia Nelson, and Republican strategist Melik Abdul. Thank you all.

And you heard a little bit about what he was saying. You know, first of all, there has been a lot of criticism of the president's performance.


But there's also a lot of criticism about the former president's performance in terms of the amount of lies he was saying and beyond. And really, I wonder, for many voters, it was form or substance, not over or under.

Karen, I want to get this point, though, "The New York Times" editorial board. They are not mincing words. Are they being rash or rational?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, if I were Joe Biden, I would actually take a page out of the Donald Trump playbook and go on offense against "The New York Times" on this one and say, I am not going to let "The New York Times" tell me what to do or how to run this country. Right? Like, I actually would do that because part of what they need to do right now is get back on offense. I mean, you know, I've said this earlier today. I will stipulate to the facts of the case. It was a terrible night. No question.

Now, the question is, between now and election, which is really September, by the way, when early voting starts, how do you make sure that you regain people's confidence?

And look, two things can be true. Yes, the president had a bad night last night. No question. At the same time, we also saw Donald Trump stand up there for 90 minutes with a torrent of lies, doubling down on policies that our own reporting has said would increase costs for the middle class. So, there's plenty there, you know, in terms of, you know, should he get out and what does that mean?

Look, I agree with Chris. I think it's unrealistic. I don't think it's going to happen, I think, the chances of then coalescing behind one person. But also, I think Joe Biden -- look, he has done the job. And I think the point that you made is this one 90-minute debate tell us everything we need to know.

COATES: Well, let me ask you about this, Melik, because first of all, this is -- it's not the oddest thing that an incumbent, all issues aside, an incumbent president doesn't often perform well the first time around there while they're being the president at some points in time. Having said that, though, both of these men want eight years. They don't want to be one-term presidents.

When it comes to Trump, who is really claiming a kind of victory, there are many who are criticizing the statements that he has made, the lies that were said. And I'm wondering from your perspective for voters on the republican side in particular, did they get enough to hang their hat on to say, aha, Trump can be my guy?

MELIK ABDUL, RADIO HOST: I think they did in this case because there is a difference in the type of debate performances that both of them initially gave. So, Joe Biden, the problem that Joe Biden has is that his debate performance fed into narratives about Joe Biden.

In Donald Trump's case, are you surprised that Donald Trump was lying? Probably people would say no. But Donald Trump, because the expectations that Democrats and many people had of Donald Trump that he wouldn't do as well, they actually lowered expectations for Donald Trump.

And I think that Donald Trump actually outperformed. He focused on policy. Yes, Donald Trump said things that he exaggerated because he does that all the time, but if you are a Republican and you were wondering, can Donald Trump be disciplined? Can Donald Trump for 90 minutes in a debate with Joe Biden be disciplined, not feel compelled to just cut Joe Biden off because that's what we've seen with Donald Trump?

So, Donald Trump actually showed, he showed at least Republican voters, and I'm hearing this all over the place, something different, and it was the discipline that he demonstrated on last night.

COATES: Wow. Sophia, I got to tell you, and I think that a lot of what you say is accurate, I'm not challenging that, but what a low bar.


I mean -- I mean, I'm not that old, but I'm from a generation when we didn't get anything past a third-place ribbon, like, if you came in fourth, you just lost. Your parents weren't like, oh, no, it was great, you really tried. It was one, two, three. This sounds like 1,046 --


-- is the standard here. Is that what Republican voters want?

SOPHIA NELSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I can't speak to what Republican voters want, but I thought that the fact of the matter is Donald Trump didn't have a good debate either.

But the bar is so low, as you said, that we aren't going to focus on that because what you saw the way that CNN split the screen and, of course, we love CNN, was the focus on President Biden, like he just looked like he was lost, like he didn't look into the camera, you know, like we're looking into the camera now to talk to the audience. Even when you are off camera, you're looking into the camera.

And so, the contrast was stark in just the way it appeared. So, you didn't pay attention to what Trump said because you couldn't take your eyes off of Biden and what Biden was doing. And that's what I heard. So, I'm not sure what Republican voters want, but, you know, my take on this debate is a little bit different. So, I'll let you ask the question. I won't just cut you in.


COATES: Okay, let me see. Now that I've been prompted by Sophia Nelson, there's an amazing op-ed that was written in "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution." Who was it written by? Oh, it was you! It was talking about Kamala Harris, obviously, the vice president, but really that the focus is now on her.

NELSON. Yeah. I think that she was the winner last night, and you heard Congressman Ryan and others talk about it.


And obviously, anybody who's as old as we are, Karen, I'm going to out us here --

COATES: (INAUDIBLE) right now. We've been around a long time, right?

FINNEY: (INAUDIBLE) you're talking about.

NELSON: And -- and what I mean by that is the vice president is traditionally the hatchet person, right? They're the person you send out to do the job, to deal with the hard things in the campaign. Vice President Harris stepped all the way up last night, and she did it.

COATES: Let me go back to you, Chris, because you're in the wings for us as well. I mean, what do you make of that? Obviously, normally a vice presidential candidate is not going to control the voters' momentum, but it's increasingly important, as we've seen. We still don't know who the running mate will be for Donald Trump. We know it won't be Mike Pence.

When you look at this contrast between the potential V.P. pick and who Vice President Kamala Harris has shown herself to be, including last night, in a lot of her interviews, what do you think is going to be the focus? WHIPPLE: Well, I think she has found her voice. I think, and particularly last night, she was terrific doing cleanup for Joe Biden. And I think she's been really effective, especially on women's reproductive rights, and she'll be deployed for that. But the vice president at the end of the day really doesn't make much difference in presidential elections.

Just one point on something Sophia said. This was a bizarre debate. And I think Bob Woodward put his finger on something important, and it's the question, what happened? The State of the Union Joe Biden was very effective on his feet, so was the Joe Biden who was campaigning yesterday in North Carolina. Somebody else was on the stage last night.

And I think we need to find out why. We need to do more reporting about this because it was really a jaw-droppingly bad performance, and there's got to be some explanation for it.

COATES: Well, I won't speculate as to what the North Carolina was today, but what are you suggesting between the difference between these different dates? Obviously, these are months apart, State of the Union.


COATES: There's an audience in one, there's a crowd and a campaign in the other --

WHIPPLE: Well, it can be --

COATES: -- and last night.

WHIPPLE: Any number of things. I mean, in 1984, you know, Ronald Reagan had a terrible first debate, and Nancy Reagan was convinced that he was just over-briefed, and she tried to fire the guy, Dick Darman (ph), who was in charge of the briefing.

Maybe that happened here. But I think when you look at that, again, that stunning performance by Biden or lack of performance, I think there's something bigger there, and I think we need to do more reporting and find out what it is.

COATES: Well, assuming there is something, I'm sure that the diligent reporting will uncover it. It has not to this date, but maybe it's like President Obama said, who articulates, sometimes you just have a bad day. Not everyone can come to life at night, like Laura Coates.


Thank you so much, everyone. I appreciate it.

Donald Trump trying to take advantage of Biden's stumbles last night by holding a rally in a state he thinks he can flip, but he repeated several falsehoods while he was there. Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was at that rally and supported Trump, and he joins me next.



COATES: Well, today, Donald Trump hoping to use his debate momentum in states like Virginia, holding a rally in Chesapeake and taking more swipes at President Biden's performance.


TRUMP: Despite the fact that crooked Joe Biden spent the entire week at Camp David resting, working, studying, he studied very hard, he studied so hard that he didn't know what the hell he was doing.

We're even leading in this state, or as you would say, the Commonwealth of Virginia.



COATES: Well, the latest polls actually do not show Trump leading, but they do show a very tight race with both candidates tied at 48%. Back in 2020, remember that President Biden won the Commonwealth by seven- percentage points, helping propel him to a victory.

Now, Trump may be looking to expand the electoral map, but his debate performance included, frankly, an avalanche of lies, more than 30, according to CNN's fact checker. Many, well, they were pretty big fish.


TRUMP: In addition to the speech I made in front of, I believe, the largest crowd I've ever spoken to, and I will tell you, nobody ever talks about that, they talk about a relatively small number of people that went to the Capitol and in many cases were ushered in by the police.

I heard him say before insulin. I'm the one that got the insulin down for the seniors. He can take the life of the baby in the ninth month and even after birth because some states, Democrat-run, take it after birth. He's willing to, as we say, rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month and kill the baby.


COATES: With me now, Republican and Trump supporter who knows Virginia quite well, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who was at Trump's rally. Governor, thank you so much for joining me this evening. How are you?

ROBERT MCDONNELL, FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: Good to be with you. Laura. I'm fine, thank you. Long day in the -- long day in the sweltering heat with the president.

COATES: Well, there -- that's quite the combination. Trump has actually been taking a bit of a victory lap at his rally today, and he repeated some of the statements that we've just played and, frankly, about January 6th and also abortion. Do you think that those messages are going to resonate with a general electorate one, and is it the right message to be sending now?

MCDONNELL: Well, first, let me just say about the debate. I want to commend CNN. The questions that were given by the moderators were short, they were clear, they were pithy. They gave all the time for the -- for the two candidates to answer the questions uninterrupted. And if they didn't answer, they held them accountable and ask it again. I thought it was as good a presidential debate by the moderators as I've -- I've seen. So, anyway, kudos. Well done on that.

I think on the question, I think the president, at least from the message that he delivered today at this rally here down the road for me in Chesapeake, Virginia, was double downing on some of the key points that he made last night.


He sees this economy -- sees this election of really about three things. One is the economy, it's inflation, it's gas prices, it's the overall cost of living, it's the deficit that has been run under -- under this president and the debt, and then solutions on Medicare and Social Security, which is going to be bankrupt in 10 years. So, we've got real practical things he's raising there.

And the other thing, of course, is immigration. You know, the message today was every state is now a border state, and I think the numbers from the Border Patrol and others are pretty clear about what has happened in the last three years with the very border security. It's a -- it's a concern for people all over the country.

COATES: But also --

MCDONNELL: And the third thing, of course --

COATES: Go ahead, excuse me.

MCDONNELL: -- is security. He is pretty clear today, and I've heard this from a lot of experts, including some of the military, about, you know, what's going on in the Ukraine and with Hamas attack in Israel, the saber rattling of China, Iran being maybe a year away from nuclear armaments, that this is an increasingly dangerous world.

And I think that's why, Laura, you saw some of the -- some of the gaps and some of those long stares and rambling answers that President Biden gave a couple of times were of great concern. The leader of the free world has got to be clear and on ball all the time.

COATES: Yes, the leader of the free world, as we call it, needs to be clear, but there also is a requirement there ought to be of honesty. And I do wonder what you make of the fact that there were a number of times, even save for the points that you would like a candidate to make on message in the way that you have, there is ample ammunition to suggest that he was not -- not only truthful or mistaken in what he was saying, but there were a number of statements that were outright lies.

And doubling down, as you point it, is that going to be enough to convince voters who might be teetering on the fence or wondering how they want their leader to be received and -- and present themselves? Doesn't the lying concern you?

MCDONNELL: Of course, I want a candidate in both parties that will tell the truth.

COATES: What do you do about it?

MCDONNELL: A lot of hype and a lot of loose looseness with the facts, Laura. I mean, President Biden has said that he inherited a 9% inflation rate. That's not true with 1.9% percent. President Trump has said that when you add in all the other factors, that the inflation rate under -- under Biden has been 30% or 40%. That's not true.

And so, I don't like it at all. Be straight. Be honest. People do miss -- miss the facts because there's a lot of details on these policy issues. But I think that both candidates last night at times were so full of hyperbole. I'm the best, you're the worst, you're a criminal, I'm bad.

I mean, I don't think that's the fitting of a president or nominee for president. You ought to be leveling with the American people. Tell them what you're going to do to make their lives better and create better opportunity for all, preserve the American dream. I think the more positive flows in this race is going to carry the day in these post swing states.

COATES: You mean you didn't want to hear about their golf handicap? That wasn't of interest to you, governor? I'm obviously being facetious in that moment.



COATES: That was a moment as well.


COATES: Well, let me ask you, though, because the issues are important, but so is the democracy more broadly. And we believe in the peaceful transition of power. He has been asked, the former president, a number of times in different iterations. Would he stand by and accept the results of whatever comes in November? He has been caveating it, making it contingent.

Does that give you pause given, frankly, the last time they debated, democracy in peril was not a huge headline because January 6th had not happened? Does it give you pause that he is not just simply saying, yes, and I believe in a fair and free elections that we have?

MCDONNELL: The only thing worse than your particular candidate losing is that there are things that happened during the election that so undermine the people's faith in a fair and free and honest election that they lose faith in American institutions.

I think we've had a little bit of that with both political parties in their rhetoric the last -- the last couple of years. I've never bought that there is any rigged election. There was no dishonest election last time. There were 60 lawsuits. Every state, including half of them being Republican states, certified the election.

So, you know, I don't buy that. There hadn't been any evidence presented that carried the day. I wish he just said unequivocally, yes, I will accept the election. Now, of course, if there's evidence of widespread fraud by either political party, the other one has the right to contest that, you know, through the statutes that are available.

So, I guess that was the caveat. But it was in light of what has happened the last time. I wish it had just been said, yes, I'll accept it and I'm going to win fair and square.

COATES: Yes, as my father always says, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. Former Governor Robert McDonnell, thank you so much for joining.


MCDONNELL: Okay, Laura. Thank you.

COATES: Ahead, how did undecided voters see last night's debate? I spoke with a group of them in Michigan, in a very important county, afterwards. And their thoughts on the age question, yep, it came up. We'll share it next.


COATES: Many Americans were already concerned about the ages of both 2024 presidential candidates going into last night's debate. I got the chance to watch the showdown with undecided voters in the key battleground state of Michigan, in the purple Detroit suburb of Warren. Here's what they told me after it was all over.



COATES: I want to hear from all of you by your show of hands. Who thinks this debate went well for the former President Donald Trump? And who thought this debate went well for President Biden? By a show of hands, how many of your minds were changed in favor of one candidate or another in this debate? Okay. Whose mind was changed, with respect to those who raised their hand, with respect to President Trump? In what way?

UNKNOWN: I think, Mr. Biden, President Biden's cognitive level has definitely decreased, and I don't trust that in the next four years, he will be making the decisions that he needs to for our country.

COATES: Age was a big issue for all of you going in. And a big issue, as you're talking about, cognitive decline, but age more broadly. Did anyone else share her concern, Wendy's concern, about the cognitive ability of either candidate today? Show of hands. Your hand went up pretty quickly. Tell me why.

UNKNOWN: Concerned with the elderly of his -- Biden's responses seemed -- like his lack of his knowledge of his data. He kept mixing his numbers, even from 400 to 4 million. So, I'm just really concerned with him not being able to handle on the spot, let alone representing our country and speaking to other debates of regarding -- he's got to know his facts. He's got to know his data. He's got to know the numbers. He's got to be truthful in that.

COATES: You were also responding in a similar way. What was your reaction?

UNKNOWN: Um, I actually was the opposite. I was more impressed with the way Biden handled things. I've seen situations where he doesn't necessarily know what to say. For many people, we have to remember, we also stutter when we're thinking about what to say. We also sometimes need to take time to process through the thoughts and arrange them correctly.

So, when you're put under this time constraint and there's a lot of things, you're older, I get that it's obviously not the best situation, but I think he did a great job presenting his -- what he has done in office, his policies, the way that he has, you know, kind of reshaped some things in America.

I really just thought he did a great job with the factual side of things, the political side of things, whereas -- both of them are around the same age. So, it's a fear for me for both of them, really.

But I did also notice a very big difference, was that seemed to be a focus for Biden but nobody seemed to focus on the fact that Trump didn't really share facts. He didn't really share policies, he didn't really share much other than attacks So, you can't really judge his cognitive function other than knowing how to attack a person, which is like inherent.

So, there's a lot of different factors that go into age, but I think Biden did a better job than I expected him to.

COATES: Norman, you're actually nodding a lot about that. Do you agree with that notion?

UNKNOWN: I do agree because going into the debate, I was concerned about Biden's cognitive ability because I was worried that his age, whether he'd be able to handle it. And at the beginning of the debate, I actually thought, when he first came out and started talking, I was like, oh no, I could see his age.

But as the debate went on, I actually thought his performance -- I mean, his actions on stage, he actually improved, in my opinion. So, I actually felt more -- a little bit more confident.

COATES: Does anyone disagree with either of what they've said back there?

UNKNOWN: I have a loved one in cognitive decline and nobody can tell me that Biden is not in cognitive decline. I mean, it's pretty apparent. He did get better as it went on, I think. But still, I mean, two, three years from now, it's only going to get worse.

COATES: Let me turn for a second to the issue of January 6th. The last time these two gentlemen debated, January 6th, 2021 had not occurred. The notion of democracy in peril was not a part of the debate. Now, it has become front and center for a variety of reasons.

One of the things that the former president spoke about, and he said, and I watched the reactions, he said, I did nothing wrong, and there was kind of a visceral reaction that some of you had on that moment in time.

But there was also an equal reaction that many of you had when the former president, Trump, suggested that it was only because he's a political opponent of President Biden, that he has even been prosecuted in a number of matters.

By a show of hands, who thinks that the justice system or the prosecutions were weaponized because of political reasons? Raise your hand. Kate?

UNKNOWN: I think the timing is suspicious. You know, we're -- now that the polls are showing that Trump is leading, we're going to arrest him and throw him in jail. This is not Russia. This is not North Korea. They do that stuff, not in America. Debt charges should have been brought prior to this election years ago. But they decided to do it right now. I don't appreciate that. I feel like the Department of Justice was used for political gain on Mr. Biden's part.


COATES: Who agrees with that statement here? For those of you who disagree, why? Yes, go ahead.

UNKNOWN: Well, in this case, we're talking about the 34 felonies being state charges. So, that's not DOJ. But I am pretty confident that if he had made any attempt whatsoever to plea bargain, even no contest, that he would not be facing 34 felonies, he'd be facing a single count where he would be either on probation or definitely no jail time. But he has antagonized the process the whole way and he should expect jail time now.


COATES: A special thanks to those voters in Warren, Michigan and Macomb County for taking the time to speak with me. And, of course, thank you to Macomb Community College for hosting us as well.

A hugely consequential Supreme Court ruling is coming down Monday. I'm talking about the question of Trump immunity, and we'll discuss what's at stake as well as another SCOTUS ruling that could impact Trump's federal election subversion case. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COATES: In just three days, the Supreme Court will make a ruling that found and could fundamentally reshape the office of the presidency, and it will have huge implications for the 2024 race and Donald Trump's legal fate. Monday is when the court will rule and tell us finally on whether Trump will be immune from criminal prosecution. It'll be the final day of decisions for the Supreme Court this term.

And just today, that same court ruled that the Justice Department overstepped in charging January 6th rioters with obstruction, and that could impact the prosecutions of dozens of people who stormed that Capitol. Trump, he is seizing on the moment.


TRUMP: They have been treated so badly. So, we're asking, based on the decision, they should immediately be released, immediately, the J6 hostages.



COATES: Now, important to note, Trump himself is facing two obstruction charges based on the statute that's at the issue in this ruling. It's still unclear how it will affect him in that instance. But sources telling CNN his legal team is already thinking about filing motions to get those charges dismissed.

Joining me now, former federal prosecutor, Gene Rossi, and former January 6th investigative counsel, Marcus Childress. Glad to have you both here. Gene, let me start with you here.


COATES: You represented an Oath keeper, William Isaacs.


COATES: He actually was one of the January 6th defendants --

ROSSI: Uh-hmm.

COATES: -- who was convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding. What happens now in a case like that?

ROSSI: Well, William is very lucky. He was one of the first Oath Keepers into the U.S. Capitol. His conduct does not fall within the exception that they carved out. When he went into the Capitol, he wasn't trying to get documents or obstruct the access to the documents, and he wasn't part of a conspiracy to submit false claims. So, he will not be prosecuted. Good news for him is he got five years of probation. So, even if you get rid of that 1512(c)(2) count or (c)(2) count, he still probably would get probation.

COATES: What about Trump? He's got those two charges. His counsel is going to try to get those dismissed. Jack Smith may or may not be amenable. What's going to happen?

MARCUS CHILDRESS, FORMER JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: We know that former President Trump files appeals for anything. I don't think this is going to be very strong. I mean, if there is an argument that someone's conduct falls between 1512(c)(2), it's what former President Trump was doing, fake electors or even like certain documents that were submitted to the Capitol to try to, you know, stop the certification of the vote that day.

So, I actually think that his conduct falls more squarely within 1512(c)(2) than on Oath Keeper, per se. So, I think he's fighting another uphill battle of trying to kick those charges out.

COATES: And the numbers you're referencing, the Supreme Court has an exception --


COATES: -- saying that it can be applied in a certain context. It's not totally overbroad and overused in certain ways. And Jack Smith likely thought, this is the area in which I can still maintain my case.

Let's talk about immunity, though, because, Marcus, this sets the stage for this ruling that is going to finally happen on Monday. They obviously have already made their decision. They're not waiting to figure it out till the weekend. What are you looking for? Are you thinking they're going to really preserve or have some attitude of blanket immunity for a president?

CHILDRESS: I do not expect that there will be absolute immunity for a president. I just don't see the Supreme Court doing that. Reading today's opinion, I'm curious. There was a lot of reading into congressional intent, right? What did Congress mean when 1512(c)(2), which you just talked about, was passed after Enron?

I'm curious if they have that, just as the kids said, the same energy with immunity, right? We left the monarchy. And when our country was established, it was so that we could hold everyone accountable, a nation of laws of everyone. So, will they consider our nation's founding, what we were escaping when we formed our country, when holding the opinion on Monday? And if they do that, then you have to have some type of liability for presidents when they commit crimes.

And so, I'll be curious to see if they look at the historical context that they did with congressional intent here today, but I'm not that hopeful to be completely candid.

COATES: I mean, if you don't -- if you say that a president is above the law for whatever they are doing at any given point in time, and they have to wait, like you said, in the argument at some point for the Defense Council until there was some impeachment and removal or otherwise and/or conviction to even bring charges, you do undermine the checks and balances system of this country more broadly.


COATES: But let me ask you about the timing. I mean, this technically is the 11th hour of CNN, but a good 11th hour. But this is the 11th hour --


COATES: There you go. This will be the 11th hour, like, for the Supreme Court --

ROSSI: Right.

COATES: -- the last possible moment --

ROSSI: Yeah.

COATES: -- the last possible day. Why? What's the logic?


ROSSI: Okay, my cynical side says that they want to delay, delay, delay.


They wait till July 1st to issue this opinion. If it's issued on Monday, of course, it will be.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

ROSSI: There's no trial this year. It's impossible. But what this opinion is going to do is it's going to be three buckets. There's personal conduct, campaign conduct, and official acts. They're going to draw guardrails for each one. And there will not be any blanket immunity, but there will be a definition of campaign versus official acts. And the whole concept of that, you can order Navy Team Six to kill people, that's going to be thrown out the window.

COATES: I mean, I don't think that the Supreme Court is going to want to enumerate a list of official acts, to your larger point, and try to dictate everything. But we'll see. Also happening on Monday, though, Steve Bannon reports to prison. A lot coming up on Monday.

Gene and Marcus, thank you both so much.

ROSSI: Thank you.

COATES: And hey, thank you all for watching. "AC 360" is next.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on "360," the day after the debate --