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Laura Coates Live

Calls Grow For Biden To Step Down; Calls Grow For Harris To Step Up; DOJ Plans To Prosecute Trump Past Election Day; Sixteen-Year- Old Team USA Track Phenom Makes History. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 02, 2024 - 23:00   ET



ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And I've met those consistently. That is the type of person because they think the president's age is a -- is a kind of disqualifying fact. But I think the important part is this ball is just -- this train is just getting started.


HERNDON: It is going to be very hard for vulnerable Democrats in Senate districts and House districts to defend Joe Biden going forward if it becomes a 60, 70% issue for a lot of Americans that he's unfit to serve. If the polling moves further in Trump's direction --

PHILLIP: It actually is already a 70% issue.

HERNDON: It is already there. That's going to make it harder and harder for them to do it.

PHILLIP: Absolutely. Astead Wesley -- Astead Herndon, thank you very much.


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

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Tonight, a crisis of confidence in Joe Biden, but not in Kamala Harris. The case being made for her to step in. Plus, prosecuting the president-elect. New reporting on Jack Smith's plans if Donald Trump wins in November. And later, the 16-year-old track phenom making history on Team USA, live in studio. Tonight, on "Laura Coates Live."

So, President Biden has spent, what, 54 years in politics? But he has never faced the kind of political pressure and crisis that he is facing tonight. And how he handles it, it won't just dictate his own future, but also the nation's. Members of his own party are now openly calling for him to quit the race against Donald Trump. And some sources tell CNN that they want him out not later, but this week. Now, the choice may be his alone and entirely, but there will be a lot of voices in his ear. There already are. Tomorrow, he'll be with governors and top congressional Democrats, and they want to see and they want to hear for themselves that the president is capable and has a plan to course-correct and turn things around. Now, many of them are trying to stand by the president, even as others publicly begin to break ranks and tell him to say uncle. The first sitting Democrat in Congress to do so was none other than Lloyd Doggett of Texas. He blamed it on Biden's consistently bad poll numbers and what he called the great disappointment of Thursday's debate.


REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): I salute President Biden. I just feel that it's time for him to step aside if we were to be able to protect what he allowed us to gain in 2020, which was a victory for democracy. But he could -- he delivered us from Trump then. He could be delivering us to Trump this year if we had more of what happened last Thursday.


COATES: Now, as of this hour, Doggett is the only elected official to say what he has just said out loud. But he says that he's actually not alone, even if it's not publicly. Another Democratic congressman out of Washington State stopped just short of calling for Biden to drop out, but didn't pull any punches.


REP. MARIE GLUESENKAMP PEREZ (D-WA): Truth, I think, is that Biden is going to lose to Trump. I know that's difficult, but I think the damage has been done by that debate.


COATES: She echoed what we heard today from not one, but two former Democratic presidential candidates.


ANDREW YANG, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the Democrats would lose the House and the Senate as well as the White House if Joe Biden was at the top of the ticket. It's one reason why I believe the right thing for him to do is to step aside.

TIM RYAN, FORMER OHIO REPRESENTATIVE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: American people don't want Trump. They don't want Biden. They want someone different. Democrats, let's give them somebody different, a generational change here.


COATES: The former House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, one of the top Democrats, still standing by Biden. But it's the next part of what she said that people are starting to dissect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Now, again, I think it's a legitimate question to say, is this an episode or is this a condition?


COATES: And then there was Congressman Jim Clyburn, the man who arguably delivered Biden the presidency. He entertained hypotheticals that included the idea of Biden stepping down. And he said that if, if that were to happen, he's ready to rally around Vice President Kamala Harris.


ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you think it's hers to have if it is not his?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I will support her if he were to step aside.


COATES: Biden still has a lot of supporters who say the choice, it is his to make. And frankly, it is. And all the chatter in the world maybe can't force his hand. But there are those who include governors who've been floated as potential contenders to replace him like Kentucky's Andy Beshear, who offered this defense of the president.


GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): If you've got two separate grandparents that you can leave your kids with, one is -- is kind and has been good to them, maybe stiffer, may have had a bad debate, and one is angry and talks about getting revenge on people, who are you going to trust your kids with?



COATES: Joining me now, former presidential candidate and DNC chairman, Howard Dean. Good evening. Good to see you. Thank you for joining. Mr. Dean, I have been eager to ask you these questions because you have said that your advice to Biden would be hang in there. How long should he do that?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: Well, until January 20th, when he gets sworn in.

COATES: You sound very confident about the prospects of him being victorious in the election. I'm sure that he also wants that to be the case. And then you've got this new CNN poll, and polls are always can be a doozy this time of year. It shows that 75% of voters think that Democrats would be better off if someone other than Biden at the top of the ticket. And that's a pretty substantial figure. I know it's a poll and the ultimate poll is actually the voting booth, but that's an undeniable moment to pause, is it not? DEAN: Not exactly, because the numbers on both candidates have never been terribly good. So, you know, 75, 25, whatever it is, the truth is we -- what we -- first of all, only Joe Biden has the power to say whether he's going to run or not at this point in the -- in the business. We're three or four weeks away from the convention at most. Secondly, Biden has beaten Trump once before. And third, I personally believe that Biden has had the best domestic policy run since Lyndon Johnson.

He has created jobs, particularly in red states that aren't going to vote for him, with battery plants and chip plants. He has done a lot for students for giving student loans. He has done a tremendous amount for global warming, which young people should like. And he understands foreign policy certainly better than Donald Trump ever will. And he's -- and he's not a -- not a convicted felon. So, you know, maybe you'd prefer somebody else, but this is a guy who I think can win.

COATES: You certainly make the case, but -- and -- this is one of the frustrations, I'm sure, for the Biden team throughout his presidency. The disconnect. It's how people may be in his mind ought to feel and then how they do feel. And I don't want to reduce any person, candidate or otherwise to a moment in time or a snapshot. I do think you ought to give people the breadth of their experience and their tenure. However, people are really skeptical about whether this was a one off or otherwise. Do you think that the response has been completely overblown?

DEAN: Well, that's going to be up to the American people. I think this -- frankly, this business about the debate and him not doing well is likely to blow over in four or five, six more days. Something else is going to come along. You know, there's a short attention span in America, both for the media and for the public. And unless Biden does this again, in which case then we have a whole different discussion.

But he has managed to get through four years pretty well, and he understands the business much better than Trump, who has also been here for four years and is three years younger than Biden with, I would say, a lot more mental incapacity than Joe Biden.

So, I -- you know, this has to be left up to the electorate. I respect American voters, and we do or we did live in a democracy until the Supreme Court went off the rails. Now, we have a new court system. But I respect the American voters. I think they are going to prefer somebody with experience and integrity over somebody with neither.

COATES: Not only are the American people watching what's happening, but the world is watching. I mean, there not has not been an American presidential election that the world has not been extremely interested in the outcome of.

And "The New York Times" asked a former U.S. official who actually helped prep the president for his most recent trip overseas if they could imagine a Biden-Putin meeting today, and they said, I just don't know. A former senior European official also had the same question asked, and they responded flatly, no. And I'm wondering if you're concerned about how other countries are viewing the reaction to all of this.

DEAN: Look, people really care about what happens in the United States because we are the indispensable nation right now, although we won't be if Trump becomes president because he'll throw it all away. The meeting with foreign leaders is helpful when you have a foreign leader that someday will cooperate with you. Putin will never cooperate with us. And Putin just made a fool of Donald Trump when Trump met with him in Russia, when he was president of the United States.

So, first of all, I don't worry about Biden meeting foreign leaders. He has one of the best staffs that has ever been assembled, especially the foreign policy staff. The secretary of state has been absolutely terrific. His -- his national security adviser is absolutely terrific.


I have no worries at all about Joe Biden and foreign policy. And to say, oh, what would happen if he got in a room with Putin? I can tell you one thing. He wouldn't agree to all the things that Trump agreed to or say all the ridiculous things that Trump said when he met with Kim Jong-un. Biden is an experienced guy. His staff is incredibly experienced. I have every confidence they can run the country for the next four years.

COATES: You've also mentioned, by the way, the court system a few times during our conversation. The next president of the United States may very well have the opportunity to appoint, nominate an additional Supreme Court justice, if not more. Does that add to why you think President Biden ought to get the reelection?

DEAN: No. The court is beyond repair right now. It needs to be totally reformed. There need to be new justices. We need to turn limits on justices. And we can do that. The federal government says an appointment of the federal bench is for life, but it doesn't say an appointment of the Supreme Court is for life. They need to rotate some of these people off. We've got two of them involved in corruption. We've got others that were appointed because they had -- the Federalist Society has had so much.

We have a court system that doesn't work right now in the United States. Sixty-eight percent of the American people disapprove of what the Supreme Court is doing. You need three legs of the stool: The court system, the Congress, and the president. Right now, we only have two functioning legs of the stool, and we've got to -- we've got to repair the court system in order to live in a real democracy. We do not live in a real democracy now.

COATES: Howard Dean, very strong words. I think a lot of people are leaning in for that very reason. Thank you so much for joining.

DEAN: Thank you.

COATES: And now to the White House briefing room where Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pressed time and time again on camera for the first time since last Thursday's debate.


UNKNOWN: Does President Biden, at 81 years old, have Alzheimer's, any form of dementia or degenerative illness that cause these sorts of lapses? And it's a yes or no question.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's a no, and I hope you're asking the other guy the same exact question.

UNKNOWN: Well, if you get it, why not release more about his medical, his physical and mental health?

JEAN-PIERRE: We -- what we have released has been very comprehensive.

UNKNOWN: Is anyone in the White House hiding information about the president's health or his ability to do the job day to day?

JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely not.


COATES: Joining me now, "Politico" White House correspondent and co- author of "The West Wing" playbook, Eli Stokols. He wrote this stunning report that is out today. "'We've all enabled the situation': Dems turn on Biden's inner sanctum post-debate." Eli, glad to have you here.


COATES: A very enviable position that Karine Jean-Pierre found herself in, although it certainly is the job. She must have expected there'd be the barrage of questions that she got. One of the last ones we heard was that -- she said this -- no one is hiding information about the president's health. But your reporting says the administration has become a kind of cocoon for Biden, increasingly insular. What do you make of what's happening?

STOKOLS: It's stunning, really. I mean, you know, to -- to be precise here, they have been transparent about putting out his medical records, the letter from the physician. He has gotten a physical every year. They've put out the full letter and detailed his medications and what he's taking medicine for.

But they have also gone over three and a half years to great lengths to mitigate coverage of his age. They have pushed back the press shop. They have attacked stories, coverage of his age. They have said the press has its priorities wrong. Donald Trump is out there, he's a threat, why so much focus on the president's age? They've also taken a lot of steps to, you know, avoid more of a focus on this.

He doesn't come down the big stairs from the plane anymore. He wears black sneakers that look like dress shoes. His schedule is such that most of his events are in the middle of the day. All these things are in plain sight. They've been written about a bunch.

But, you know, for a long time, the White House could kind of say, no, no, no, the media is just over -- overly focusing on this. I think that all blew up this week. You're now seeing a press secretary and even the president himself saying, I'm not -- I'm an older man now, I'm not the best debater, I'm not -- not as sharp as I used to be. The press secretary said that explicitly today, and that is crisis management in the short term, obviously.

But it's also a remarkable shift from an administration that spent three and a half years. It's a remarkable concession to this reality that they have denied for a really long time.

COATES: It seems that they believe the media is perhaps planting seeds as opposed to reporting on what is happening. And then, obviously, they're watered and they appear to grow. But who's making these calls about how insular to keep it? I mean, is this something that is at the behest of Biden, according to your reporting, or are there others who are running the show?

STOKOLS: Biden has always kept a very small circle. And a lot of these aides have been with him for decades, going back to his days in the Senate, his time as vice president.


Some have, you know, come on board more recently in the last 10 years and taken on very prominent positions and have the president's ear. But, you know, they have kept a very tight inner circle. The White House will say, well, look, that's every presidency. You can't have a bunch of aides in the room all the time. It's not efficient. The president needs to have counsel from the people that he trusts.

I think what the finger pointing, the frustration that we have heard in the days after the debate from a lot of Democrats, more than two dozen who have a lot of contact with the senior team, is that they have cloistered the president, and they have gotten so deep into the bunker that they have really stopped listening to other voices outside, that they have not taken much feedback on the strategy with the campaign, be it about messaging, be it about the debate, moving up the debate.

There are a lot of frustrations. When things go sideways, there's a lot of finger pointing. So that's understandable in this context. But it's also just the management of the president and trying to kind of keep him on track and keep him from hearing some of these, you know, people questioning the program.

COATES: So, what do you make of the decision? I mean, there have been some who said, you've got to get him out there. He's got to be out there, he's got to stay out there, he's got to talk to people, he's got to interact, he's got to show this is a one off. There's an interview coming up on Friday with George Stephanopoulos. Is that in the right direction, according to your reporting of what people in the campaign or in the administration think?

STOKOLS: I think that's what everyone has said he has to do to prove that he can go on as a presidential candidate, as the party's nominee. I think a lot of people say it has been very telling that they haven't done that.

I mean, this is a president who turned down a Super Bowl pregame audience earlier this year with a friendlier network, not Fox News like the year before. CBS had the game this year. They didn't do the interview with CBS. They've done very few network TV interviews. They've done only three print interviews his entire presidency. They just -- they will say, oh, well, the media has changed, it's not really where you need to go to reach people anymore. That may be true, but it also seems like avoidance.

There are a lot of people who look at that and say, okay, you're going to get the president out there, he's going to travel, he's going to lean in, he's going to be more visible, but what are we going to see? And if you've kept him under wraps this whole time, can we trust that when he's out there more, he's going to be able to articulate a stronger message and be more convincing than he was on the stage Thursday night?

COATES: Sounds like the dam has some holes that are poking through. Eli Stokols, thank you so much for joining me.

STOKOLS: Thank you.

COATES: Let's continue this conversation now with former adviser to President George W. Bush and the late Senator John McCain, Mark McKinnon. He is also the co-creator of Showtime's "The Circus." Mark, good to see you. I was just talking to Eli about what's happening in the reporting. There's a real change in this story over just the last 24 hours, since last Thursday.

I mean, "The Washington Post" is reporting tonight that former President Obama privately told allies that Biden's path to reelection just got more challenging following last Thursday in his debate performance. So, where do things stand? Well, do you think Biden is going to step aside? Should he?

MARK MCKINNON, THE DAILY BEAST CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. I've said that for a long time. I said he shouldn't run in the first place. And then I said it was smart to do the first debate, but that is very high-risk strategy, and that it was very possible that he'd fall off the wire and there's no net.

And the good news about that was that there would be time to make a change before the convention, which is what I absolutely think should happen. Seventy-five percent of the country think that he's not competent to be president. That includes a whole lot of Democrats.

One of the very first people that I advised, in fact, the first person I advised, was Lloyd Doggett 40 years ago in a campaign with James Carville and Paul Begala. If you ask me for a list of Congress people or members of Congress who -- who would -- who would call on Biden to withdraw, I would put Lloyd last.

COATES: Really?

MCKINNON: There's no more team -- team democracy, team Democrat, team player for the Democratic Party that I've known in my entire professional career than Lloyd Doggett. So, I was stunned when Lloyd came out. So, to me, that's a huge deal. It's not just any congressman. This is not some rogue congressman. This is not some independent guy. This is a party guy who's very dedicated to the party. So, you know that he didn't do this out of -- you know, Lloyd Doggett is not trying to get some press. He's doing it because he thinks it's better for the party. And he knows, as I think -- certainly I feel strongly about, if Biden runs, he loses. Period.

COATES: Mark, I mean, if there -- if he is one voice or if he is a multiple number of voices, that's going to be very telling, given the fact that many people interpret the idea of doing it early to course correct. They thought to do it early, and you can course correct to beef up your next performance, not the idea of being off the ticket.

But the White House has been struggling to explain what happened. I mean, tonight, Biden was blaming his poor debate performance on his grueling travel schedule, saying that he -- quote -- "almost fell asleep on stage." He did travel to France, back to the U.S., traveled to Italy before returning to California. I mean, there was a lot going on. Just look at this map that shows you what happened before the June 27th debate.


But he was back on U.S. soil for nearly two weeks before the debate. Do you think the -- the statement that he has made is -- is any comforting to those who are doubting his ability to maintain this nomination?

MCKINNON: Frankly, I think it's pathetic. I think that a president would be complaining about his travel schedule before debate. I mean, that's what you do when you're a president. I mean, for God's sake, he wiped out a week, he was taking naps.

You know, listen, he had plenty of time to prepare. And the reality is that they -- they put it all on -- they put all the marbles on the table, as they should have, to -- to make clear to people that he was competent enough to get on stage for 90 minutes with Donald Trump toe to toe. And guess what? He couldn't do it. He didn't do it. He can't do it. People tuned in to see if he really looked 80. He looked 90. And that's not going to get any better between now in November. And if -- if he doesn't withdraw and if they don't change the ticket, Democrats will lose.

COATES: You know, there has been a lot of focus, as we've been talking, about President Joe Biden. Politics, as you know, can be kind of a feeding frenzy and the coming days could bring even more bad polls and possibly even indication that it could impact down ballot races and could be at risk. But also, there are many who are looking at this and saying, look, Joe Biden may have had a bad performance, Donald Trump wasn't great. Do you think that the form and substance is going to even out for the American people in public?

MCKINNON: It doesn't matter. The issue for anybody who cares about this country, who thinks that Donald Trump is a true threat to democracy, and I'm one of them, knows that Joe Biden is not the best candidate to put up against Trump because Trump will win.

COATES: So, who is now?

MCKINNON: So, the question is, what do you do? Anybody with a pulse, any Democrat with a pulse. Put up anybody. They'll do a better job than Joe Biden. I mean, the fact is that wasn't just one night. He's had lots of bad nights. And we know that. And there's going to be more between now and November. And as soon as one of those bad nights happens, everybody is going to go crazy and say, see, he's got cognitive decline. I'm 70. I'm not as good as I was at 60. You can't be 66 in America and be a park ranger, but you can run for president if you're 80.

COATES: Do you do you want to be a park ranger, Mark McKinnon?

MCKINNON: I do. That's why (INAUDIBLE) but I can't. I'm too old.


COATES: I was going to -- I mean, the hat, I always had questions about it. I didn't want to go there. But you know what? You can open the door.

MCKINNON: I want to (INAUDIBLE) my hat now.

COATES: Now, the questions are resolved. Mark McKinnon, shout out to all the park rangers out there, by the way, thank you so much.

Well, with one sitting Democratic lawmaker calling on President Biden to step aside, well, others follow suit. Are we back to see some floodgates open or something very different? And is president -- Vice President Kamala Harris next in line? Well, those are the questions for Congresswoman Barbara Lee in Alaska next. And does Jack Smith have a little bit of an ace up his sleeve, even if Trump wins the election? The new reporting tonight on his timeline to prosecute.



COATES: Well, just in tonight, we've learned that President Biden called House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries today, the first time they've spoken since apparently Thursday's debate. The call comes as president -- as Vice President Kamala Harris is facing questions about whether she's ready to replace Biden on the ticket. Here's her answer.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, Joe Biden is our nominee. We beat Trump once, and we're going to beat him again. Period.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Are you ready to lead the country if necessary?

HARRIS: I am proud to be Joe Biden's running mate.


COATES: And today, a new CNN poll conducted after Thursday's debate shows in a head to head matchup with Trump. Kamala Harris is within striking distance of the former president, 47% favoring Trump with 45% going to Harris. And that's just one poll. But here's a Trump and Biden matchup from the same poll, 49% for Trump and 43% for Biden.

Let's go to Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who represents California, and she was the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse Kamala Harris when she ran for president in 2019. Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining me this evening. It's good to see you.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Nice to be with you, Laura. Thank you.

COATES: Thank you. Your -- your colleague, Congressman Jim Clyburn, he was asked a series of hypotheticals. And in response, he said that he would back Vice President Harris if she were to replace Biden. Would you want to see Vice President Harris now at the top of that ticket?

LEE: Laura, let me first say I am supporting the Biden-Harris ticket and will continue to support them. They have done phenomenal work for this country. They took us away and out of this horrific pandemic. They've created a record number of jobs. They've created an environment now in our country where young people especially can move forward when you're looking at student loan debt forgiveness. And so, I am supporting the ticket and will continue to do that.

Again, as I said a couple of days ago, you can't sugarcoat what took place at the debate. Everyone knows it was a terrible debate. Even the president acknowledged that it was not his best performance. But I'm telling you, this ticket, the Biden-Harris ticket, one, they beat Donald Trump before. And if we do our work and if we take the work that they have done and what they intend to do in terms of protecting our democracy, protecting a woman's right to reproductive freedom, creating good paying jobs, reducing the cost of living, if we take this to the voters, then I'm confident that the voters will -- will vote for them.

COATES: So, speaking of work, look, there are -- is work to be done to try to put that perhaps in the rearview mirror for many voters who, for the first time, we're seeing that rematch four years later. Why do you think there has been such a kind of panic surrounding the debate? Is it because people don't believe that it's a one off?


LEE: Well, you know, people have been on edge this debate. I mean, look at Donald Trump's performance. This man lied. I heard one report where it was over 30 times. He's a convicted felon. People are on edge. We know that our democracy is being threatened. We see the Supreme Court, which was Donald Trump's Supreme Court, saying now that the president is above the law. So, people are concerned.

And one thing about this moment is that I think we have a teachable moment, a moment where we could talk about how to protect our democracy and what we have to do as voters to make sure that Democrats win. The House, Senate, and the White House.

COATES: I certainly think voters are leaning in with bated breath because there is always the risk that if all the things that they don't trust about the process seem to be happening, everything, everywhere, all at once, they might lean out and then the couch becomes another candidate in the race. So, there's always that concern.

But there's so much chatter, congresswoman, about the prospect, the discussion about whether Biden should remain in the race that people are already starting to think about, would they support the vice president? And her favorability is only at 29%. I'm wondering what you would say about her as a candidate if she were on the top of the ticket. Do you -- would you support her?

LEE: Well, let me just talk about the chatter very quickly. Laura, chatter is good. You know, this is what our democracy is about. Finally, people are talking, people are clued in, and I don't see that as a negative. The Democratic Party -- Democrats will come together, unified out of the convention and move forward and do everything we can do to win.

I know Vice President Kamala Harris well. And yes, you mentioned I was the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus, probably the first member of Congress to support her when she ran for president. I mean, she's -- she's prepared. She has been our vice president. Who else?

But we are confident that President Biden, his decision is his decision. And if it's a Biden-Harris ticket, then Democrats will round -- you know, circle the wagons and support the Biden-Harris ticket. And that's what we have to do. But I would always say because I know her well and I've seen what she has done, I know what she would do in the future, and I did support her when she ran for president before. But that's not even the issue. The issue is winning and the issue is making sure Donald Trump does not win in November.

COATES: Now, congresswoman, even the way in which people will assess. As -- as you well know, as a Black woman in politics, the way that a woman is assessed in politics and evaluated, the way that Black women are evaluated and assessed in politics, there will be and there is existing different standard in terms of how she will be viewed. I'll be curious to see how the voters think. Thank you so much.

LEE: Laura, how well -- how well I know.


How well I know.


COATES: Hello. Preach. Here is the choir.

LEE: And still we rise. Okay? And still we rise.

(LAUGHTER) COATES: There you go.

LEE: We've carried this Democratic Party to victory before.

COATES: That is true. And will it happen again is what everyone's reading will be about. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, always nice to talk to you. Thank you.

LEE: Nice being with you. Thank you, Laura.

COATES: Ahead, the Supreme Court's immunity decision delivered a blow to Jack Smith's case against Donald Trump. But there is some new reporting out there that suggests that the DOJ, they may have another plan. I'll explain next.



COATES: A new legal wildcard emerging tonight at the Supreme Court's ruling on presidential immunity. "The Washington Post" reporting the Justice Department plans to pursue its federal cases against Trump, even if he wins the election right up until Inauguration Day. Justice Department policy does prevent sitting presidents from being prosecuting. But the "Post" is reporting that -- quote -- "Lawyers in the department do not believe the policy bars them from proceeding against a president-elect."

And that would throw America into some pretty uncharted territory, right? Never before has a president-elect been on trial. And we are 120, what, six days away from the election? And just 76 days separate Election Day from Inauguration Day. And if Trump wins, he will likely kill the case as soon as he takes office.

A spokesperson for Special Counsel Jack Smith did not comment. And a Trump spokesperson called the cases hoaxes. With me now, retired California superior court judge, LaDoris Cordell. So nice to see, Your Honor. How are you this evening?


COATES: Don't we? This is uncharted territory, to say the least. And, you know, the fact that Jack Smith is perhaps talking about prosecuting Trump right up until Inauguration Day, that would be very striking. What would be standing in his way?

CORDELL: Well, whether or not the president-elect has absolute immunity, it's just another issue that no doubt is going to head to the Supreme Court at some point. Even though I think the answer is obvious to all --

COATES: You mean back to the Supreme Court? You mean back to the Supreme Court? That's the irony here.

CORDELL: I mean back, right. COATES: Right.

CORDELL: So, exactly, because, you know, it's pretty obvious to, I think, most people. One is not a president until one officially takes the oath of office. But let's -- let's play it out. Let's say the Justice Department charges Trump and is convicted, actually goes to trial as president-elect.


Well, once he's sworn in into office on January 20th or the latest, January 21st, he'll just pardon himself. And why can he do that? Pardon power is one of the core duties of the president. So, he gets a get-out-of-jail-free card. So, I'm just thinking, you know, the DOJ might want to stop and kind of rethink this one. Of course, if he's not elected, then the prosecution could proceed, provided the charges don't include any official acts when he was president.

COATES: And that provided part, that caveat, that's part of what Judge Chutkan, who's presiding over the election subversion case in Washington, D.C., the federal trial is going to have to grapple with, and the thumb is a bit on the scale by the justices on that issue of what defines official acts, what defines unofficial acts. Is there any reason that you think Judge Chutkan shouldn't move forward the trial even after the election?

CORDELL: So, the issue is, indeed, what -- what are official acts?

COATES: Uh-hmm.

CORDELL: And quite frankly, official acts or whatever the Supreme Court says they are. That is that ambiguous. So, they've talked about the core constitutional duties. But what does even that mean? They've talked about the perimeter of official acts. What does that mean? So, she has so much on her plate. She's got to determine if the indictments -- the conduct that's alleged in the indictments. Any of that conduct is immune from prosecution. And she can't rely on any evidence that was the product of an official act.

And so, you know what? This is going to take weeks, months, maybe years before she can sort this out with the attorneys. They're going to be filing briefs. They're going to be arguing.


CORDELL: It's like, here we go. And Trump is, you know, Mr. Teflon. He's going to, I think, slip through on this.

COATES: And there will, of course, be that mini trial of the evidence of what would come and what would not. It's all appealable, though. That's part of the way it was baked into the Supreme Court decision, which has a lot of eyebrows raised.

Let me turn your attention, though, to what's happening in Manhattan, because we were supposed to be at this point, what, nine days away from a sentencing of the former president in his hush money conviction. That has now been delayed until September 18th.

His legal team is actually trying to get the whole conviction tossed out. They're arguing that some of the evidence against Trump stemmed from his so-called official acts and, therefore, should never have been presented. That includes testimony from Hope Hicks, who was the White House communications director, tweets that Trump sent while in office, and also phone records while Trump was president. Do you think this could be a basis on which to toss the conviction and maybe secure a new trial?

CORDELL: I don't think so. I think that what Judge Merchan is going to have to do is go through each one of the convictions and determine what evidence supported them. And let's say one of the convictions, there was some evidence of an official act. Well, he is directed now by the Supreme Court to exclude that evidence. But if there is other sufficient evidence, basically, if it was harmless error to include the official acts evidence, then the conviction could still stand. He just has a lot of work to do to go through each one of these convictions to determine whether or not they're related to any kind of official act, whatever that means.

And I think generally it means anything that Trump did when he was president is an official act, even if it was writing a check or checks out to reimburse Michael Cohen for a cover up using hush money. That could be interpreted as being an official act, although I have no idea how that can be construed to be a core constitutional duty of the office of the president.

COATES: You and many lawyers who've taken a lot of issues with the Supreme Court's decision on this case, but one of many. Judge LaDoris Cordell, thank you so much for joining.

CORDELL: Thank you.

COATES: Well, ahead, he is a record-breaking track star, and he is headed to the Olympics. But you know what? He's not really old enough to drive. But why would he? He could run. Sixteen-year-old Quincy Wilson and his coach are here to talk about his incredible runs and how he feels about going to Paris next. Hello. Welcome. How are you doing? Nice to see you. Oh, your hands are warm, thank you, because it's cold in here. Thank you. welcome.



COATES: All right, we are just 24 days away from the Paris Olympics. And when it comes, you can bet there will be legions of fans here at home cheering on a teenager who will be sprinting to, well, history. He is just 16 years old. He was born in 2008, four years after Michael Phelps had already won six Olympic gold medals. He doesn't even have his driver's license yet, but man, this kid can run. His name is Quincy Wilson, and he will be the youngest ever male track Olympian for the United States of America.

During trials last week, he broke the 400-world record, the 400-meter world record for someone under the age of 18, not once, but twice. He first notched it in 44.66 seconds. And two days later, in the semifinals, he ran it in 44.59 seconds.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) on the inside (INAUDIBLE). Look at this! The kid is coming back. Oh! What (INAUDIBLE) 16-year-old.


COATES: Now, he ultimately did not qualify for the 400-meter, finishing sixth in that final. But days later, he got the news that he has been picked for the 4 by 400 relay roster, and sharing his excitement on Instagram, we go into the Olympics. Well, Quincy Wilson joins me now along with his coach, Joe Lee. I am so proud that you're here. So proud to see you.

QUINCY WILSON, YOUNGEST U.S. TRACK & FIELD OLYMPIAN: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

COATES: Congratulations to you.

WILSON: Thank you so much.

COATES: How does it feel to have this? I mean, 16 years old.


First of all, forget the age. Look how you run. How does it feel to have this talent?

WILSON: You know, I never knew that I would be able to be in this position. You know, it's every kid's dream to be in the position that I am in right now. So, ever since I've gotten the call, ever since I've been on the track, running on the track, I've been giving it my all, running my hardest. And so, I'm just so thankful for the moment and just enjoying it.

COATES: Take me to the moment that you got the call that you had made it. I mean, what was that like? I would never get that call. Tell me what it's like for everyone who cannot be a star like you.

WILSON: So, actually, my coach called me, Coach Joe Lee. He called me around 11:00. I was supposed to get the call around 9:30, around 10:30, 9:30 to 1030, but he called me at 11:00, and I'm just, like, oh, my goodness. In my head, I'm thinking I already didn't make it. So, he gets the call and he's, like, unfortunately, we have bad news.

COATES: What did you do that to him for? Why?

JOE LEE, QUINCY WILSON'S COACH: That's our relationship. We joke all the time. I got, you know, something so big. I just couldn't let it -- let it get past me and just have a fun moment with him, and then have the real moment after that. So, we did it. I told him the truth afterwards. He's jumping up and screaming and running around the room. He's super excited and well-deserved. And it was just -- just having fun like we normally do.

COATES: How does it feel to coach someone with this unbelievable amount of talent at this age?

LEE: It's still -- it's great. I mean, you know, I know him just as a person first. He's a phenomenal character kid. He's a straight A student, won the Joy of Living Award at our school at Bullis. And so, he's just a great overall person. That translates to the track phenomenally because he gives his best. And it's still kind of surreal because he's not some big imposing figure. You know, he's about 5'8", 5'9". You know, he'll tell you 5'10" but --


LEE: -- you know, but he makes up for that with great heart and great effort. And, you know, he gives us everything. And it's a pleasure to coach him.

COATES: I mean, the joy of living seems to shine through in your smile right now. I've met your family. They're unbelievably proud of you. We all feel like we are trying to lift you up even further, although we can even catch you to do so.

Let me ask you, you know, everyone thinks they're great and talented, especially when they're as fast as you are and among great athletes. When did you know, I could really do this, I could make it to the Olympics?


COATES: When did that moment occur?

WILSON: I think that moment occurred just when I came out, started running track. I knew that I had a gift that God has blessed me with. And, you know, when you're running with the kids your age, everybody at the youth age is around your -- is around your speed, your talent level, and your strength level. And it's the matter of fact of what will happen in the next couple of years. I took the next couple of years and focused in on my strength, focusing more on the sport in general, looking up, reading more things. And I think that's what took me the long way. My hard work and my talent coming together, I think that's what got me to the point that I am at right -- that I'm at right now. And I hope I can keep showcasing my talents to be able to, like some of them out there right now, still have maybe five more Olympics to go.

COATES: Oh, my -- look, my heart is just beating so fast. I'm so excited for you. I have to tell you, I watched you. If the world has not seen this performance in the Penn Relays this year, you need to start Googling that right now because you will start playing the Rocky theme behind you, like you'll start thinking that you are with you.

You came from behind. There was a dropped baton. I mean, you came. If people didn't know you had heart before that, the fact that you were able to succeed the way you did, tell me what it is within you that said, I'm going to keep going, I'm going to keep trying, I'm not going to give up.

WILSON: So, I'm going to relate Penn Relays to Team USA. When I came, I knew that I had -- we had a job. It was America versus every other team out there. You know, I had my brothers. I was running with my brothers against everybody out there. And so, I took -- I was running for my why, I was running for my brothers. And when I run for my brothers, everything was -- that was the reason why I got to the finish line is and the reason I did. It was my why that pushed me to the end.

Just like I said, in Team USA, that's my goal. I'm running for my bigger brothers. Everybody is older than me. So, they're my bigger brothers. And I'm running for my why. I want to get around to the track for the Team USA to bring Team USA back the gold. If I'm able to showcase my talents, I want to be able to give them the best possible chance to be able to get a gold medal and bring it back home to the United States.

COATES: He's running for his why. I mean, this kid is so inspirational. I don't want to call you a kid. I feel old. So, I'm calling you a kid, but I should be looking up to you as I am. Running for his why. Is that something you've helped instill in him?

LEE: Well, you know, we talked to all of our kids on our team about that, what's your why? You know, what is the reason you're doing this beyond just being out here to get some recreation? You know, is it -- are you inspired to, you know, show others your talent? Are you inspired to make your parents proud? Are you inspired to take this all the way to the highest level? Like, what is your why? We talk about that a lot. And, you know, Quincy's why is always about others, which is phenomenal.


His parents raised him really well, and he has a strong foundation with them. So, he's always others first. And even in that example with Penn Relays, he was totally focused on doing it for his teammates. It wasn't for the crowd or for the hype. It was for his friends. So, his why is about other people and making them better. And with him on the team and just in life in general, people are better because they're around them.

COATES: Have you visualized the success? I wore gold today. I always wear gold, but I wore gold especially for you today.

WILSON: Yes, ma'am. Honestly, just visualizing the success. Honestly, I've been just taking it and enjoying the moment. But this last couple of months has just been -- it has been a lot. You know, you go from one meet to the next meet to the next meet to the next meet. So, I think I'm going to go home and chill for --


-- after the Olympics. So, that's my goal. I can't wait to, like you said, showcase my talents at the Olympics and see where my talents can take me for the next couple of years. COATES: When you go home and chill, pick out a place for the medal. You can't wait to see it around your neck.

WILSON: Yes, ma'am.

COATES: Quincy Wilson, so nice to see you, as well Joe Lee. Unbelievably proud of this young man. The world will be watching, cheering him on. Go USA. If this is but an example of what we have, we are already at our best.

Thank you all for watching. "Anderson Cooper 360" is next.