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Laura Coates Live

SCOTUS Rules Trump Is Entitled To Some Immunity In January 6 Case; Laura Coates Interviews Rep. Eric Swalwell; Laura Coates Interviews Anthony Scaramucci; President Biden Dodges Questions. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 01, 2024 - 23:00   ET



JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let's have people and more people know about that. They know about the Supreme Court, right? Let's have people get attached to these candidates in a way that they're used to seeing, and then we can go ahead and run a campaign.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: I was not on my bingo card tonight.


PHILLIP: Vanderpump Rules.

OSBORNE: I'd love to see an open convention on the Dems side --


-- because they're guaranteeing Trump wins.

PHILLIP: Well --

SIMMONS: I don't think so. I think it's a way to capture the public and people would have their imaginations.

PHILLIP: All right, guys, thank you very much. And thank you for watching "NewsNight." "Laura Coates Live" starts right now.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Well, the Supreme Court largely co-signs Richard Nixon's infamous argument. What it means for the cases against Donald Trump, and could it help President Joe Biden survive the calls for him to step down? Tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

All right, let me ask you a question, America. Do you believe the following statement, no one is above the law? Do you? It's not actually a rhetorical question. I'm genuinely curious. Do you believe, sitting where you are today, that no one is above the law? And I bet, for many of you, at one time, you would have answered yes, and probably emphatically and maybe especially when it came to the president of the United States.

But today, tonight, I wonder if that answer may have changed, say it feels less like a declaratory statement and more of a kind of Valley upspeak. No one is above the law. Well, at least one person no longer believes it. Quote -- "The president is now a king above the law" -- unquote. That came from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

I'll read her words again. "The president is now a king above the law." That's how she characterized the impact of the court's historic six to three ruling today, one that found that Donald Trump and, well, any other president for that matter, has substantial immunity for official acts. In other words, if it's part of the official job description laid out in the Constitution, you can't prosecute him in criminal court.

Now, here's the thing. That part of the decision is not really that surprising to us. Most people thought that would happen, that a president couldn't be criminally prosecuted for actually doing the job of the president. What was surprising? The kinds of thing the Supreme Court said the work of the president was. And when they punted to the trial court to figure out the exact duties, that same foot kicked the can down the road for any trial, certainly past November.

Now, if Jack Smith's case was a kind of one of those Jenga towers, built one block after another of evidence, of testimony, well, today the Supreme Court's conservative majority poked out so many blocks, the case is teetering. Take, for example, this from the court's ruling. "Trump is therefore absolutely immune from prosecution for the alleged conduct involving his discussions with Justice Department officials."

So, any discussion that he had with his DOJ cannot be used with Jack Smith or by Jack Smith. Why is that a big blow? Well, a lot of the indictment cites the fact that Trump's own DOJ told him that the election fraud claims were untrue. Testimony, well, like this from Trump's own former attorney general.


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit.


COATES: Jack Smith will never be able to use that, nor can he use any other conversation Trump may have had with any other DOJ officials, right? Okay, well, what about his pressure campaign against Vice President Pence? Well, according to the court, that's official conduct, too. Quote -- "Trump is at least presumptively immune from prosecution for such conduct."

The court (INAUDIBLE) to Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the case, to -- that -- decide to that issue for sure, along with two other components laid out in the indictment.

Trump's alleged pressuring of state officials and the official act? Chutkan decides. The alleged plan to create false electors? Chutkan decides. But she doesn't even get the last word. You realize all of this will be open to appeal once again.

So, if Trump doesn't like how Judge Chutkan rules, he can drag it out with another appeal. That's why it's near impossible for this case to be tried, let alone concluded by November. Immunity by delay. Donald Trump, I'm sure, is very happy. Quote -- he is. "Big win for our Constitution and democracy. Proud to be an American."

President Joe Biden tonight besieged with questions about his own campaign, delivering a pretty rare address to mark the stakes.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Now, the American people have to do what the court should have been willing to do but will not. The American people have to render a judgment about Donald Trump's behavior. Perhaps most importantly, the American people must decide if they want to entrust the president -- once again the presidency to Donald Trump now knowing he'll be even more emboldened to do whatever he pleases whenever he wants to do it.


COATES: So, here's my question to you again. Do you, sitting here tonight, believe no one is above the law?

We're going to talk about this historic ruling. Kim Wehle, former assistant U.S. attorney and professor at American University Washington College of Law; Tim Parlatore, senior legal commentator and former Trump attorney; Devlin Barrett, national security reporter at "The Washington Post"; and Tiffany Wright, former law clerk for Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Quite a panel on a day like this. Quite a day, shall we say.

Kim, I'll begin with you here because you and I have talked about this case many times, as we all have, frankly, together. And the idea that they were not going to give you an enumerated list of what constitutes an official act, perhaps unsurprising. But by giving it back to the lower court to decide this issue, what are the risks?

KIM WEHLE, AUTHOR: Well, they did say some things were official, just the chief justice was not willing to say some things were unofficial. And let's just be clear, this is in response to January 6th. The only reason we're even in this moment is because of transgressions of January 6th. It's a reward, really, for what the president did, former President Trump. A reward for the presidency itself. The court is basically saying we cannot trust good faith of prosecutors, we need to protect the president. So, what will happen now is this line between official and unofficial acts and ambiguity galore. As you indicated, we're going to see appeals. It could go on and on. And ultimately, the court could say what's left of the case is actually also immune. But at the end of the day, this comes down to incentives.


WEHLE: The reason we have checks and balances under the Constitution is to disincentivize presidents from crossing boundaries. And in 236 years, we haven't needed criminal immunity for presidents. And without consequences for drawing boundaries, I think the big issue is, will presidents just blow through every stop sign? Because there's no risk. There's no downside. I think that's the big danger moving forward that goes far beyond the case before Judge Chutkan or, frankly, the other two pending criminal cases where Donald Trump did have official -- had conduct in the Oval Office --

COATES: Right.

WEHLE: -- that get -- you know, gave rise to these indictments that could now be axed from the case.

COATES: Let's talk more broadly. You two are talking about this issue because it's not just a matter of whether he would have immunity. It's also about whether evidence is excluded at trial, right? And you're making a trial, you're trying to create a story, you're -- not create -- you're trying to relay a story, you're trying to convince a jury of something. Something in the opinion also talks about that they cannot use as evidence discussions like he had with DOJ and others. How do you craft a story about what happened without that?

TIFFANY R. WRIGHT, FORMER LAW CLERK FOR JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Well, that's what makes the opinion somewhat disingenuous, right? Because they try to leave open the door that, yes, there are some things that can be prosecuted, but the practical question is, how? So, the court says you can't introduce evidence of motive.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

WRIGHT: Well, most crimes require proof of motive. And if you can't even inquire into it, then how can you ever prove a crime? The second thing the court says is you can't introduce evidence of any official act. So, if, using the famous SEAL Team 6 example, you have a number of conversations with your military generals or Department of Justice officials before you order the assassination, none of that can be used as evidence. And so, the court says, yeah, sure, there are some things that can be prosecuted, but that's really empty because the practical reality is that I don't see how it's possible.

COATES: I mean, Tim, when you're thinking about this, just to play devil's advocate, perhaps, Justice Roberts was very clear. The reason that they wanted to make sure that motive, for example, would not be questioned is because they were afraid that the very allegation against a sitting president or otherwise would disincentivize their ability to do their job. If they're always wondering an allegation alone is enough to derail me, that's a problem. But to her point, doesn't this go a bit beyond the practicality of trying to make sure that there is accountability?

TIM PARLATORE, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that there's a difference in, you know, what everybody is thinking right now, what this is ultimately going to look like when implemented.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

PARLATORE: The idea of not looking into motive, that's really talking about the things that the Supreme Court has said are absolutely immune, that you can't then look into motive to see if you can somehow overturn that immunity. But the things that are presumptively immune, and then if you have the hearing and Judge Chutkan says, okay, they've overcome that rebuttable presumption and so that is something that's prosecutable, absolutely, you can still go into motive --


COATES: But wait, back up for a second. I think I want to hear more about this for the audience in particular. They did have a concern about essentially using it, and using a trial to go and back -- go back around the ability to undermine immunity. But how would that look in trial? If they were to -- how would they do that?

PARLATORE: It wouldn't go to trial. That'd be something that would be happening in a pretrial hearing. And that's the thing that we have to remember here is, this is now going to go to a pretrial hearing where all of these issues are going to be brought out in front of Judge Chutkan. She's going to have a hearing that I predict will be at least three weeks long, where they're going to have a bunch of witnesses that come in. You know, the rules of evidence aren't going to apply, so it'll be much more efficient than a trial. But Mike Pence will probably testify.

And she'll hear all of the evidence. In fact, the American people will hear all the evidence in this case before the election, even though the trial will not happen before November, so that she can decide what -- what fits within the structure that the Supreme Court has laid out for immunity, what is outside of that, and therefore can go forward in a trial, you know, presumably next year, if ever.

And, you know, that is something that is going to be done at a pretrial hearing. And I believe the standard there is going to be a preponderance standard, so she'll be able to figure out it's more likely than not that this is immune or is not immune.

COATES: Well, Devlin, I need you to clear your calendar. He told three weeks. I mean --


-- knowing your schedule, you're like, wait, what three-week period are we talking about right now? Do you need to have a moment?



What I need is for lawyers to stop. I really -- I have covered trials for a long time. I'm not a lawyer. I'm the dumbest person at this table. I'll cop to that any day. But honestly, Laura, this decision speaks to what I think is the fundamental problem of where we are in the country, which is that we keep asking the criminal justice system to solve political problems. And this decision shows that the criminal justice system is not up to it. Stop asking lawyers to fix these problems. These are political problems.

The voters of this country, the country itself, needs to decide what the right thing to do is here because the courts will not do it, the lawyers will not do it, the government will not do it. And if we don't just accept that, we're going to spend our time in three-week hearings that lead nowhere, that resolve nothing, and that are just billable hours.

And I don't care about billable hours. I personally, as a reporter, I want to explain facts and I want to explain what's right and wrong. And it is not going to be lawyers who decide that. To me, the big lesson of this decision is that lawyers are not the solution to anything.

COATES: Do you -- are you suggesting that the political problem here is one that voters have to identify and decide what to do about? And that if there is a criminal allegation, then the courts should just not be a part of it? It's only the exercise of democracy?

BARRETT: Not be, not -- not be a part of it. I think that's too extreme. I think you're asking the courts to -- to sort of like front run --


BARRETT: -- the political process. And clearly, they're not going to do that. There's no trial that's proceeding in a way that is going to resolve this issue for the body politic.

COATES: How do you feel about it, guys?

WEHLE: Well, you just go back to the United States versus Nixon case. It was a 9-0 decision by the United States Supreme Court. These were the Oval Office tapes, core executive communications. And the court said, listen, the rule of law and justice and the American people require that this evidence be turned over and ultimately brought down the Nixon presidency. So, so I -- and you could argue, too.

BARRETT: But under this formulation, Nixon win. That's win under this formulation.

WEHLE: Right, right, they've flipped the whole thing on its head. But the idea that somehow the courts aren't functioning and don't have a role in the constitutional separation of powers, I don't think is -- is borne out by history. This court, I don't think this court is willing to respect the separation of powers, which is no more kings. I think Justice Sotomayor, two other justices joined her.

If you've got unaccountable, unlimited power, that is like a monarch with -- where the power comes from the divine and there is no checks and balances. I -- you know, I would argue that why we're here in part is because the political system has failed, the impeachment process failed, congressional oversight failed. All the other checks and balances that are built into constraining the president's power did not work with Trump.

And just to be clear, it's when presidents use their official power, when they use the commander in chief power, they use the military, they use the spy mechanisms, they use the FBI, they use law enforcement, they use prosecutors, that's when it's most dangerous. That's exactly the place we need accountability.

BARRETT: But doesn't this court say Nixon was right? Isn't that what's most strange and uncomforting, uncomfortable about this decision?

COATES: Tiffany has a response.

WRIGHT: They say Nixon is right, but in a disingenuous way.


It goes back to this idea of paying lip service to constitutional principles, but not actually living them out. I totally agree with Kim that what we have here is a case where you should be able to count on the Supreme Court to stand up for checks and balances and the rule of law. This is a failure of this court.

But I want to go to Justice Sotomayor's dissent because I think it was powerful. I think we should pay attention because judges are very judicious in their work. So, when you have a Supreme Court justice say something like, I am afraid for our democracy, that is something that I think does draw attention to. What she's saying is this institution is down. You can't count on us. It's up to you, right? If we're going to save it, it's going to be through another democratic mechanism.

And so, I think, yes, lawyers are not the answer anymore. It should have been, but we have failed for many reasons. And now, I think it's up to the people.

COATES: Wow. I didn't fail.


Why are the lawyers going to fail?

WEHLE: Your profession has failed you.

COATES: Okay, now, everyone -- Okay, there you go. That was a very lawyerly moment.

BARRETT: The lawyers.

COATES: Wait, now you all talk. Are the other lawyers? Thank you so much.


Thank you, everyone. I appreciate it. Look, my next guest says, everyone, calm down, don't panic over the Supreme Court's decision on immunity, even though he himself is certainly no fan of Trump. Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell joins me on that point and on the growing concerns about President Biden's fitness for office in just a moment.



COATES: Republicans on Capitol Hill are taking a victory lap after the Supreme Court ruling on immunity. Trump's V.P contender, Senator J.D. Vance, calling the ruling -- quote -- "a massive win, not just for Trump but the rule of law." Senator Marsha Blackburn saying the decision "rebukes Democrats' blatant attempts to weaponize our legal system against Donald Trump." House Speaker Mike Johnson noting it's a victory for former President Trump and all future presidents.

I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. He sued former President Trump and his close allies over the Capitol insurrection riot and served as a House impeachment manager in Trump's second impeachment.

Congressman, thank you so much for joining me this evening. There is a lot happening, a lot of panic surrounding a number of things. And you are saying, look, don't panic, this is not a Trump victory. How so?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Well, first, this is an assassination attempt on democracy by Donald Trump's Supreme Court. And they're doing it the same week that we're celebrating our independence from a monarchy. And they're doing it because they want to make Donald Trump king, the person who appointed so many of them.

But don't panic because they do lay out a narrow path. And it's a path that we've been successful in -- in our civil suit that says that if there are unofficial acts, that those acts could be charged and outside of absolute immunity.

And, by the way, it's completely unofficial to fire up, aim, and mobilize a mob against the people who are counting Americans' votes to carry out violence.


SWALWELL: That's what the courts have found unanimously in my cases. And that's, I think, the path that Jack Smith is going to have to take. But Laura, this is about more than just the Supreme Court.

COATES: Well, before you go, one moment, congressman. I don't want to cut you off --


COATES: -- but I do want to clarify a point because I am curious. You know, you say, by the way, when it comes to official versus unofficial, it's going to have to go to the district court to decide these issues, whether or not what constitutes official, what's unofficial, an evidentiary hearing of sorts to see what might go before a jury trial. That can be appealed, though. And in this game of immunity by delay, are you not concerned that this could be the ultimate perpetual kicking the can down the road?

SWALWELL: That's why it's up to all of us, because it's about more than the Supreme Court. It's about a man who has declared he'll be a dictator on day one, and he will destroy everything that makes America work.

It's about the FBI that will be gutted. It's about the CIA. It's about the State Department. It's about living in a country under a dictator where you could have IRS agents, you know, darkening your door to go after their political opponents. It's about having to whisper to your wife any dissent you have about your country like they do in Russia and China, countries that this wannabe dictator admires. It's about completely changing who we are as a country.

And so, when you say, Laura, who is it on? What can we do? It's on all of us. And so, I will do everything I can to help defeat Donald Trump. But the best bet, the guarantee to stop him is to take control of the House. And so, we have to take and hold the House. And that's what I'm going to work to do every day over the next four months, is to be a guardrail so that we can hold on to our Constitution, our way of life, to hold on to everything we hold dear. So, it's really about we have to hold the House.

COATES: You know, congressman, most people have been focusing on, what, 120-something days from now, a presidential election. Really, it is an election that includes the down ballot and congressional races as well, to your larger point, about what both Democrats and Republicans are hoping to accomplish.

The debate performance that we've seen, though, the conversations around who should be the ultimate candidates as well, it is having an impact, shall we say, on discussions around the strength of the Democratic Party to do just what you're talking about. He is, as President Biden, under enormous pressure, including inside the Democratic Party, to step aside, possibly. I want to play for you what you said back in 2019 when, frankly, you were a candidate for president and you were debating then-former Vice President Biden. Listen.


SWALWELL: I was six years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic Convention and said, it's time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. That candidate was then- Senator Joe Biden. Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago. He's still right today.


COATES: Now, that was 2019. Do you feel that way today?


SWALWELL: I do. I'm actually less worried about a one-hour debate and more worried about the next four years. Hell, the next 40 to 50 years. And I'm not saying that, you know, as an overreaction or some cheap campaign tactic. I'm saying that to the women in America who were protected by the Roe decision for over 50 years, and then, like that, poof, it's gone because Donald Trump stole it from them.

And so, I know and I'm clear-eyed about what we have to do and who we have to defeat, and that's to make sure Donald Trump never, as a wannabe dictator, somebody who will change the composition of this country, gets back in the White House.

COATES: Does that mean that you think that President Joe Biden should step aside and no longer run?

SWALWELL: No, I'm saying we have to do everything we can to make sure Donald Trump does not win. We know what he will do. Look, this is a guy who did not accept the outcome of the last election, and he prefers violence over voting. We don't -- we don't have to imagine what he will do if he actually wins. And it could be the last time in our lifetime that any of us go to the polls and vote in a fair election. Those are the stakes.

COATES: Congressman, you know, there is oftentimes, in my experience in Washington, D.C., this disconnect between what's said publicly and then what other private conversations behind the scenes. And this is across the political spectrum, full stop.

There was a Democratic congressman who only agreed to speak to CNN anonymously, and they said that the dam would break if data shows that Biden's debate performance will cost Democrats the House.

And, by the way, you've just talked about the idea of having to hold on the House in order to preserve democracy and to have Democrats be in control. Is that the tipping point, do you think?

SWALWELL: The data points that I see is vast concern about what would happen if Donald Trump is elected president. You didn't see Donald Trump's numbers skyrocket after that debate because we also had the opportunity to see who he is. He's a monster. He's a dictator. He is somebody who will completely change what America looks like.

He tried it once and the competent people who restrained him, like Mattis, like Kelly, like Tillerson, they're not going to be around. It's going to be yes men, goons, and people who hate freedom. And that's what the stakes are. And I'm clear eyed and every person in this country should be clear eyed about what the choice will be.

COATES: I certainly mean the headline would normally be based on the data points that we've seen about, you know, the popularity or lack thereof of either candidate. The conversation continues to develop surrounding issues of age and competency. And then ultimately, for voters, the substance behind each candidate's policy positions. And that, of course, is the next frontier of any democracy.

Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you so much.

SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Laura.

COATES: Well, President Biden's campaign is trying to ease donor concerns about his health. But you know what? All indications are that many are not buying what the campaign is saying. Anthony Scaramucci was at a Biden fundraiser this past weekend, and he's my guest next.



COATES: The Biden campaign today holding a very important call with donors to try and calm their panic following the president's debate performance last Thursday. The DNC finance chair saying on the call -- quote -- "everyone just needs to breathe through their nose for a minute."

But some participants are saying the meeting did very little to stem that anxiety, even though the campaign claims to have raised more than 33 million bucks in just the two days after the debate. Calls for Biden to drop out don't appear to be slowing down, even though he has given no indication that he would do so.

Now, protesters are urging Biden to leave the race during his East Hampton fundraiser just this weekend. One person with a sign saying, "We love you but it's time." And the polls, they appear to echo the sentiment. CBS News poll connected after the debate shows that 72% of voters say the president should not be running for reelection. But the Biden campaign, they're doubling down, and they are referring to those who are raising concerns as the -- quote -- "bedwetting brigade."

I want to bring in Anthony Scaramucci. He's a former Trump White House communications director, also the author of "From Wall Street to the White House and Back." Anthony, so good to see you. There's been a lot happening. How are you?



I mean, you know, maybe I was at some point in my life, but not tonight, you know. But I don't -- I don't think those concerns are bedwetting concerns. I think they're legitimate concerns. And all the campaign has to do is say the president is ready to go take questions, press conferences, rigorous discussion with journalists, and it would put to bed what happened, which -- if it is a 90-minute blip, and let's take his word on it that it is, show the American people. Get out there, push yourself past the teleprompter, and encourage more viral discussion and more interactive discussion. If he does that, I think it would help him at this time, and I think it would shift the poll numbers back towards him.

COATES: You know, we're not -- we are not seeing a lot of that. We did see him come out tonight to talk about the immunity decision. [23:35:00]

He did not take any questions. I wonder if that was the same tone, as you're striking, at this East Hampton fundraiser over the weekend. You were actually there. I wonder how did it go. Did Biden behave the way we saw him at the debate or was it the rally? It seems like there are a number of different, you know, personas that come out. Which one arrives?

SCARAMUCCI: So, I thought it was more like the rally. I thought it was more like what we're traditionally used to seeing the president. You know, the president looked like he was underhydrated at the debate and they probably jammed too many facts and figures in his head. That happened to Ronald Reagan in his first debate.

But I think if the president sticks to three things, the economy is robust, the dollar is stronger, the stock market is at an all-time high, he has restored our global alliances and he's protecting people from totalitarianism. There's 5.7 billion people that live under totalitarianism. His opponent likes totalitarian leaders. I think he has to state that.

And I think the last point is forget about the convictions, you know. You know, President Trump has something psychologically wrong with him, as evidenced by 40 people that worked inside of his cabinet. We're giving out a surgeon general's warning label of his sociopathic behavior. And so, he's got to hammer that home to people.

And I have said this before, Laura. If you had 40 of us work for a pharmaceutical company and we told you that that pill is going to kill you, why are you going to take that pill? And I think the president has to do those things consistently and stay in that narrative, but he needs to be way more interactive to reassure his base.

COATES: That opportunity presented itself at the debate. And one of the lesser discussed moments, Anthony, where he spoke about the -- including a general who talked about the losers and suckers' comment. He talked about how there were many that were not supportive of him. That quickly devolved and the repartee simply was not there, even eight feet from him. How can he make the case going forward in a way that broadens the base, not just preaches to a choir?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, call -- call some of those people up. You know, enlist them, enlist their help. You have the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, on the ballot twice with President Trump that is telling you under no circumstances would he endorse him.

You know, the Supreme Court can rule whatever way that they want, but people know the facts and circumstances about this situation at the Capitol. Mark Meadows knows that. Mike Pence knows that. There are people inside the inner sanctum that are patriotic Americans that do not want Donald Trump to return to the presidency.

So, I would encourage the campaign and the president himself, pick up the phone and call some of those generals. They'll tell you the truth. They'll provide more insight into the instability and the general insanity that is Donald Trump. And if you're a patriot, you're going to speak out and you're going to tell the American people the truth, even if it costs you business or it gets you lit up on Twitter screens. So, what?

Tell the truth. Help President Biden right now. If he's going to stay in the race, God bless him. But be more interactive, sir. Get out there, speak to as many people as possible, and let's put this 90- minute debacle behind us.

COATES: You know, what you describe is almost these days like telling a baby not to cry. I mean, you have people who are more than willing to be very vocal. And then when a camera gets in front of them, it's almost like, or you're asked to be a public source on something, suddenly mums the word. And the patriotism you speak about, if that's how they define it for themselves, is very, very different. And instead, you do have people who are far more outspoken on the other side.

Steve Bannon, for example, has been very outspoken about his views. He is somebody who is reporting to prison today. And he said that replacing Biden actually would be a huge risk for Trump, that his best shot for winning is against Biden himself. Do you agree with that?

SCARAMUCCI: No. I'm not -- I'm not exactly sure because there's a coalition around President Biden, and he built a coalition to get him to that election in 2020. And I think that coalition is still with him, but we've just got to make sure that he is capable of the job, not just today, but over the next four years into 2028.

So, I don't necessarily agree with Steve Bannon on that. Having said that, that's not up for me to decide. The Democrats have to make decision. The President and his family have to make decision. But I know what my decision is, I will not be supporting Donald Trump and I will help anybody that is contending against him.


And you're right, it is a hard thing to do. You get death threats, you get screeds, all kinds of nonsense thrown your way. But it's very important for me and my family to be on record, telling people what I saw, telling people what my colleagues saw. And so, when they make this decision about the race, they're making it with great clarity.

I would take President Biden, who may be a little older and somewhat cautious in terms of his stutter, over somebody that I think is unstable and is someone who's going to put a big hurt on America, not only reproductive rights, women's rights, family issues.

But I don't want "The Handmaid's Tale" streamed in America for real life when he tries to deport 15 million people. And remember, Laura, you can't just get them in the armored vehicle and pull them out of people's houses. You got to put them in concentration camps before you can figure out where to deport them. So, read Project 2025, understand what they want to do to the country, and get behind President Biden.

COATES: Anthony Scaramucci, thank you so much for joining. SCARAMUCCI: Good to be here. Thank you.

COATES: Up next, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer trashing a report claiming that she said Biden couldn't win Michigan after the debate. But is there democratic wrangling going on behind the scenes? We'll talk about it next.



COATES: President Biden tonight making an unscheduled address to the nation, telling the American people the Supreme Court's ruling makes the president a king, someone above the law. In fact, echoing Justice Sotomayor saying, "I dissent." These were his first remarks since last week's debate performance. And while he didn't stumble over his words tonight, he did use a teleprompter. He did ignore shouted questions from the reporters in the room as well.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Mr. President, Mr. President, will you drop out of the race?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Why are you the best Democrat to beat Trump?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): What makes you so confident you should be the president?


COATES: And, of course, we have heard him in rallies and he has spoken before this moment, but this was a moment when he could have been before reporters as opposed to the voters in the different constituencies.

I want to get right to Mychael Schnell, a congressional reporter with "The Hill," Mike Dubke, a former Trump White House communications director, Maria Cardona, a CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, and Shermichael Singleton, a CNN political commentator and Republican strategist. And yes, apparently, tonight's Wordle is Michael.


Okay, this is more than five words, five letters. Whatever. We'll try again. Listen, I want to go to you first, Maria, on this because a 2023 "New York Times" analysis found that in the last 100 years, Biden has held the fewest number of news conferences and, actually, since any president since Reagan.

And I was just talking to Anthony Scaramucci, you've heard, where he was talking about getting Biden out there --


COATES: -- talking to the public, getting more interactive --

CARDONA: Uh-hmm.

COATES: -- facing maybe tough questions because he's good at the one- on-one.

CARDONA: Uh-hmm.

COATES: Why is he not doing that immediately?

CARDONA: I think that they are taking a beat to figure out what to do after Thursday night. Everyone understands just how problematic Thursday night was, Laura, right? That is not something that anyone can pretend didn't happen. And they are not. They're having calls with their allies, the donor call that Anthony talked about, they're having calls with other supporters, people around the country, and they are acknowledging that it was a bad night. They're also, though, saying that he is staying in this and that the contrast is what is still going to be so important in this election, that that has not gone away.

And, you know, everyone talks about the polls, about, you know, now the majority of the people don't think that he should be running or that he's in mental decline. The polls that really matter or not even the polls, what really matters is what voters think. And what we have seen, at least as of now, Laura, is that the fundamentals of the race, of the election, have not changed.


CARDONA: And that key parts of Biden's coalition are sticking with him. And not just sticking with him, Laura, because I've talked to several of them around the country. Black voters, Latinos, women, they are tripling down because not just of what they saw from Biden in the debate, but what they saw from Donald Trump, which was so offensive and so scary and so just deliriously horrific, that they cannot risk that man getting elected.

COATES: I mean, my eyes are going from Shermichael's face --


-- to the back of my -- the mom eyes in the back of my head are going to Mike's face.


What are you thinking, fellas? Obviously, you disagree.

MIKE DUBKE, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: First of all, the numbers that we saw there on press conferences was off. So, I think it was 22 for Trump. At one point in the administration --

COATES: Just the average per year.

DUBKE: -- we decided that it was better for him to do these ad hoc press conferences as he's walking out to Marine One. He was -- almost every day, he was in front of the press answering questions.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

DUBKE: I can't think of the last time President Biden was out answering questions from the press. So, all of this conversation about he just needs to do one interview, he needs to show this level of energy with, you know, in a press conference or something else, I just don't think it's going to be -- I don't think it's going to change what the American people saw on Thursday night.

COATES: You know --

DUBKE: It was shocking to see that Thursday night.

COATES: Carl Bernstein was speaking with Anderson Cooper just a few moments ago, and he seemed to describe this as not being a one-off. Listen.



CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: These are people, several of them, who are very close to President Biden, who love him. They are adamant that what we saw the other night, the Joe Biden we saw, is not a one-off, that there have been 15, 20 occasions in the last year and a half when the president has appeared somewhat as he did in that horror show.


COATES: Mychael, when you hear this and, of course, I mean, good days, bad days, and the idea of the 15 to 20, what's your reaction? Because I know you covered the Hill very wonderfully, for "the Hill," frankly, and thinking about how this is impacting other races, how it is being talked about on Capitol Hill. Describe it.

MYCHAEL SCHNELL, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE HILL: Yeah. Well, I spoke to a lot of House Democrats on Friday, the day after that debate. And I spoke to one in particular who opened up when we were talking on background. So, the source remained anonymous, but this lawmaker said that they believe it is time for Joe Biden to step aside right now.

And I asked, you know, a lot of folks are saying, well, let's wait, take a breath, let the dust settle and see what the polls say and see what they shake out. I said, do you think we should wait until that point, or should Democrats just pull the trigger and get a replacement now?

And this Democrat said that it should happen now because no polls matter, what matters is what the American people saw on that debate stage. And this Democrat told me that the majority of folks that they've spoken to were saying this behind the scenes, that it's time for a replacement for Joe Biden.

Now, of course, that's just one Democrat and what they're saying behind the scenes, but a lot of folks are saying that it's going to be difficult to brush out what was shown on national television on Thursday. And there's reporting that there are a lot of down-ballot lawmakers, Democrats, vulnerable Democrats who are up for re-election this year who are concerned about Joe Biden's drag on the ticket.

Look, his poll numbers were already pretty low going into the debate, so there's some thought that he may not be too much more of a drag on the ticket right now because he was starting at such a low point.

But there are a number of these vulnerable Democrats, particularly in the Senate, places like Montana, Ohio, West Virginia, where the upper chamber is really up for grabs, and the fact that Joe Biden is now going into, closer to November, in a weaker position could start to cause some concern among some of those vulnerable Democrats as they try to not just fight for the presidency, but to fight for their seat as well.

COATES: You know, I had a chance to be in Michigan on the date of the debate. I was in Warren at Macomb Community College talking to undecided voters in this purple district that, you know, Michigan went for Trump in 2016, went for Biden in 2020, but Macomb County went for Trump.

And there is some reporting from "Politico today, Shermichael, that Michigan's governor, Gretchen Whitmer, said they called up a senior Biden campaign official to say that Michigan is no longer winnable for Biden. Now, Whitmer is denying the reporting, saying anyone who believes that is -- quote -- "full of shit." There you go. So, I wonder what you think about this, Shermichael, the fact that this is the reporting, she's denying it, and Michigan, a consequential state for both.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I mean, of course she's denying it. That's to be expected. There's a good chance she probably did say it or something very close to it. Look, Biden numbers, poll numbers were already decreasing. People were already worried about his mental fitness and cognitive abilities before. Everything was just confirmed Thursday night. And I got a feeling in the next week or two, those numbers are only going to decrease further.

I don't think Democrats can win this election with President Biden as is. And there are millions of Americans across this country who have senior family members, and they have seen them in a slower state, they have seen their cognitive abilities decline over time.

And then you have Carl Bernstein, who's a reporter that we all trust, saying, I'm talking to reliable sources that are saying that this has occurred 20 times in the past six months. He went on to say that the president's cognitive ability, according to those people, is not what it was a year ago.

So, if you're the average American, let's take Trump out of this, you want someone who can actually do the job, not someone who's going to say, well, my advisors are going to do the job when I'm not doing the job after four o'clock. DUBKE: That's a problem for Democrats.

COATES: I don't want to cut you off. I'm sorry to talk over you, Shermichael. But one thing is, most of these presidents have a cabinet for that very reason. I hear your point, but I want to bring this into you really quickly, Maria, in the time we have, a very small amount of time. But you and I were having this conversation about how voters were actually receiving it, those who were on CNN en Espanol and beyond, who were receiving information through translators and interpreters.


COATES: Talk to us about that because I think that was really interesting, why it was received differently.

CARDONA: That's exactly right, Laura. So, I was doing analysis on CNN en Espanol that night. And on CNN en Espanol, Univision, and Telemundo, which are the biggest, you know, the three biggest Spanish language networks, they use translators. And they were doing focus groups and dials in a lot of the swing states of Spanish-speaking Latinos who were hearing the speech through translators. The independents, the undecided Latinos after the debate, most of them moved to Joe Biden, because we can sit here and talk about how horrific that night was for Joe Biden, and it was, but you cannot deny the lies and the disgusting, horrific things that Donald Trump said.


When you look at how voters are receiving it, it is not just Latino voters, it's Black voters, too, talking about Black jobs, talking -- trying to pit immigrants against Black voters, talking about ripping babies from the arms of their mother, talking about deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, talking about how immigrants poison the blood of the country. This is what matters to voters.

They understand that Joe Biden is old, but they also understand that Donald Trump represents an existential threat not just to our democracy, but to their family.

COATES: Quick last word from Mike. Go ahead.

DUBKE: The Biden campaign needs translators for 18 to 32-year-olds because they're losing a great swath of --

CARDONA: Not according to the 18 and 32-year-olds that I spoke to. They're all doubling down because they also understand the future of this country and what that would represent if Donald Trump becomes president.

SINGLETON: If Democrats want to run on this message, I promise you, you will lose in November. So, run on that message, Maria.

COATES: I guess --

CARDONA: And run with Donald Trump's message of destroying our democracy.

COATES: I mean --

CARDONA: That is a losing message.

SINGLETON: The poll numbers say otherwise.

COATES: I guess Sabrina Carpenter came. This was that me "Espresso" moment coming on right now. You all came to life at 55. Are you serious? Thank you, everyone. Thank you so much for watching. "Anderson Cooper at 360" is next.