Return to Transcripts main page

Laura Coates Live

Biden's Doctor Releases Rare Letter; Democrats Face Time Crunch Over Whether To Replace Biden On Ticket; Trump Veepstakes Is Down To The Wire; Jury Selection To Begin In Alec Baldwin Trial. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 23:00   ET



ELAINA PLOTT CALABRO, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: But is Kamala Harris fixing El Salvador in her vice presidency? I don't think so. I don't think anybody would.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: It's interesting also you point out that her supporters were a little miffed by how she has been sort of praised for how she responded to President Biden afterward. Real quick, why are -- why are they upset that she's being praised now?

PLOTT CALABRO: Because what they saw on television, giving interviews on networks like CNN, where she was so widely, you know, revered for those interviews, they say this is what she has been doing the entire time.


PLOTT CALABRO: And they don't understand why Americans haven't seen it until now.

PHILLIP: All right, Elaina Plott Calabro, thank you very much for joining us.

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

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Well, breaking tonight, President Biden's doctor releases a letter to try to quiet speculation of any Parkinson's diagnosis. This as Biden himself tries to end all speculation that he will not be the nominee. Also, tonight, does the debate change who Trump might pick as his VP? The new case being made against one of the top contenders. Tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

All right, so it has been, what, 12 days now since the debate that launched a thousand skeptics? Well, Trump has been laying pretty low, hoping that this spotlight that has been over Biden won't reveal what maybe he's working on in the shadows. Now, voters, they may have the same questions about both candidates.

But with only one visible, only one is trying to answer them, and it has led to one particularly frustrated Biden. President Biden is telling his party it's time for everyone to move on, not from him but from the conversation that he is fit. He is ready to take on Donald Trump and win, he believes. Now, tonight, he got a heck of an assist from that from his personal doctor. I'll explain all that in just a second to you.

But first, some context about the moment that President Biden is facing. Now, he says he is done talking about this debate, but his party doesn't seem to be on the same page. And while we think about it, neither is he.

Tonight is one example. The president huddled via Zoom with the Congressional Black Caucus at their request, mind you, and about 60 lawmakers in all were a part of it. And they wanted to see him. They wanted to hear from him directly in order to see if he can get past what happened, like, 12 days ago. And the reviews of that call are in. And several members say that Biden -- I'm quoting here -- "is fit to serve" -- unquote.

Now, we'll see if that firewall does hold when Democrats gather for their full caucus meeting tomorrow. Now, if any of them had concerns about whether President Biden's health is a concern, they may be breathing a sigh of relief tonight by a rare letter just out from Biden's doctor. In it, Dr. Kevin O'Connor tries to end speculation over why a top Parkinson's disease specialist would have visited the White House eight times in eight months.

He has released a letter saying -- quote -- "Biden has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physical," basically concluding this is all perhaps much ado about nothing. And this comes after very testy exchanges during today's White House press briefing where Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was sparring with reporters about the visits by the Parkinson's specialist.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Has the president been treated for Parkinson's? No. Is he being treated for Parkinson's? No.

UNKNOWN: Clear this all up just by saying what he was doing here and if it was connected to the president. Yes or no?

JEAN-PIERRE: I am not going to confirm a particular neurologist, anybody. It doesn't matter if they're a dermatologist or a neurologist. I'm just not going to do that.


COATES: On top of that, the White House is also having to defend against questions over whether President Biden should take a cognitive test.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Have you had the specific cognitive test and have you had a neurologist, a specialist, do an examination?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No. No one said I had to. No one said. They said I'm good.

UNKNOWN: Why don't you have a cognitive test just to rule out that there are any issues?

JEAN-PIERRE: The neurologist has said it is not warranted.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Look, I'd be happy if both the president and Donald Trump took cognitive tests.

UNKNOWN: So that's a yes.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): What I'd like to see is President Biden take a cognitive test.


COATES: Okay. So, the operative words here are cognitive tests. But sitting here right now, can any of you tell me what that test would look like? Everyone is using the term. They're throwing it around. They're talking about who needs to take one and what. But what does it actually entail? What would it tell you? Is it sort of a term of art or does it really mean something?

Well, let me bring in a doctor, Dr. Ziad Nasreddine. He is a cognitive neurologist who created the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test. It was created back in 1996.


It's a well-known tool that doctors can quickly use to detect mild cognitive dysfunction. The doctor joins me now. Dr. Nasreddine, thank you so much for joining. I want to get to the cognitive test in just a moment. But -- but first, I do want to ask you about Biden's doctor putting out this letter tonight, which says that the president has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physical. Does that, for you, effectively dispel any speculation he is being seen for that condition? He has only been seen for neurologists as a part of a physical.

ZIAD NASREDDINE, COGNITIVE NEUROLOGIST: Yeah, I mean, it is reassuring if the neurologist didn't have to see him many times. If they saw him just once during his annual physical, it's reassuring. It could be that they just checked for that condition and didn't find anything significant or they might have found something that is starting but not enough to be treated for.

COATES: Well, let's talk about this sample version because, again, I want to go back to what it means to have this cognitive test. I keep hearing everyone talk about it. But here's what a sample version of the test on the screen right now for the audience. It includes questions like naming animals, drawing a line between a number and a letter in ascending order, drawing a copy of a cube. Explain exactly what this combination of things is testing for.

NASREDDINE: Yes. Each part of the test is assessing a different part of the brain. It's like a cognitive scan. So, alternating between letters and numbers is testing executive functions. These are supported by the frontal lobes and the subcortical circuits in the brain.

So, these are different networks of neurons that are supporting cognitive processes. Some of them are affecting or supporting memory. Some of them are supporting language skills, spatial skills, calculation, language skills. It's a -- its' a test that's assessing different domains of cognition that are important for us and that we take for granted and that we need for everyday use.

Actually, we need to remember what we're saying. We need to -- the politicians need to remember their promises. So, it's an important part of our cognition to have these functions.

COATES: Well, if you have a test that reminds every politician about their promises, Capitol Hill never wants the world to see that. Thank you very much. Let me ask you about how this test is actually scored because I do wonder. Time and time, everyone gets something wrong. Everyone is going to have a little bit of a memory lapse. Maybe a word won't come to them. How is this test scored and what's considered a score that's not normal that would give you concern?

NASREDDINE: I mean, this test has been validated. Thousands of patients that passed this test and determined the ones who have above 26 out of 30 are considered to have normal cognition. If you get less than 26 out of 30, you're becoming -- you probably have cognitive impairment. It doesn't mean you have like a neurological condition, but it does point that there is cognitive impairment and we need to do more investigation to determine the cause.

COATES: Is it common that everyone at some point in their lives, as they're getting older in age, would there be a normal trajectory of cognitive decline or you're saying this test would specifically test people where it's in the abnormal range?

NASREDDINE: Yeah, I mean, this test is usually done by the clinicians to try to distinguish patients who are complaining about their cognitive difficulties but they're still actually very functional, very autonomous, and it does reassure those patients that they're not actually on the decline and they're just experiencing just age-related cognitive changes.

COATES: Interesting, what you just said, that it's for patients who are expressing concern. Is it given even regardless if a patient expresses that concern or that be a common thing to give?

NASREDDINE: It's not as common, but the American Academy of Neurology did recommend after 65 that you should be doing this in an annual way to assess your cognition. I think it's not unreasonable to do that.

COATES: Do you recommend that? And you had said that you think that President Biden should take it. Why do you say that?

NASREDDINE: I mean, when I observed President Biden's performance in the debate and even in the year before this debate, he was having sometimes difficulty keeping his train of thought. Sometimes, he has slurred speech. Sometimes, he's having trouble finding his words. So, it does suggest maybe there's some cognitive impairment happening which is difficult to tell just by looking at him on the video clips. We would need definitely to do more testing if you want to be reassured about his cognitive performance.

COATES: We had this letter this evening and many people are pointing not only for this test to be given to one person but also the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, as well. Really helpful to get this context of what the test is used for and how. Dr. Ziad Nasreddine, thank you for joining me this evening.


NASREDDINE: It's a pleasure, Laura. Thank you for having me.

COATES: Well, here to discuss more, CNN political commentators Bakari Sellers and Scott Jennings. Glad to have you both here this evening and welcome. Let me begin with you tonight, Bakari. Good to see you. Look, Dr. Conley (ph) is making clear in this letter that President Biden's exam found no signs of Parkinson's. He was not tested outside of his physicals. He's not on Parkinson's medication. You heard from the doctor just now that it's reassuring to know there was not multiple visits within the same span of a year and beyond. Why do you think the White House chose maybe to release the information this way and at this pace?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I think it's patently absurd that we're having this discussion, to be completely honest with you. I think we're chasing this rabbit of "The New York Times" saying that, I believe, Parkinson's expert visited the White House eight times without even corroborating that with whether or not the president was there or who that doctor actually saw. It's extremely clear now that he did not see the president of the United States.

And to use visitor logs to simply say or deduce that someone has Parkinson's is not journalism. It's beyond the pale. We spent more time talking about Joe Biden's age than we have Project '25, than we had the Chevron ruling, than we have what the Supreme Court did about presidential immunity. I think that's an utter disservice to -- it's an utter disservice to voters in this country.

I mean -- and so, my disappointment comes with, yes, we got our behind kicked in a presidential debate, up, down, left, right and sideways, President Joe Biden is old, he is old, but there is an argument about policy and what he has done.

And the question that people have to ask themselves and the question that the mainstream media is not asking themselves and journalists are not asking themselves about, his ability to lead. Has he not led us from COVID? Has he not led us to a bipartisan infrastructure bill? Has he not led us to a bipartisan infrastructure reduction act? Has he not selected a Black woman as vice president? Has he not put a Black woman on the Supreme Court?

I mean, let's talk tangibly about the things that he has done. Yes, he's old. And, you know, the question is, do you want someone older? Do you want a sociopath? That is legitimately the question.

But we still -- we are harping on this mainly because there are a lot of journalists within the beltway who feel as if somehow, they've been lied to or betrayed. They're emotional. And that emotionalism is not journalism. But instead, this is what we get.

So now we're chasing this rabbit of whether or not the president has Parkinson's because they had an expert in Parkinson's come to the White House eight times. But yet this president of the United States literally signed one of the most landmark and consequential pieces of legislation on Parkinson's research. And so, I just find it to be absurd.

COATES: I hear your -- your points, Bakari. And certainly, I don't ask the questions out of emotion. I don't just begin to diagnose the president of the United States. But certainly, this idea, Scott, of having cognitive tests and the statements being made, asking for them, calling for them, and you have a letter from the president's doctor undermining and saying that this is not actually necessary and you've got this cognition test as part of it, why -- to Bakari's point, why do you think this continues to have legs?

And frankly, the White House responding and putting this forward in ways we haven't seen from his predecessor, offering a candid or transparent statement about one's health. Why do you think it continues to have legs?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it has legs because everybody saw what they saw at the debate. And then subsequently, we've learned from all kinds of important journalism in a wide variety of outlets that there has been a widespread attempt to cover up just how bad the president's condition is. Whether you call that condition, as Bakari just said, just being old or not, he clearly has limitations.

The reporting is he's not very good outside the hours of 10 to 4. The reporting is he often forgets people that he should remember in meetings. There's reporting in "The Wall Street Journal" tonight about some of his slip ups in meetings with world leaders, including the German chancellor, where he didn't show up for a meeting on an overseas trip. And obviously, Joe Biden has limitations. So, the reason it has legs is because we're having an election and we're trying to assess the fitness for office of these two men.

Bakari wants to talk about Joe Biden's record. I think that's perfectly good fodder for the election. Of course, that doesn't get you very far when you consider he's got a 37% approval rating. So, his entire record has brought him to a 37% approval. And now, his fitness is on full display for the American people. That's why it has legs and that's why he's losing this election right now to Donald Trump.

COATES: Well, Bakari, let me ask you on this point. And I -- I don't begin to believe that a 90-minute window should give you full insight into one's tenure or be predictive in every capacity.

[23:15:00] Any more than one isolated poll would do so. But I do wonder the idea that he is answering the questions, talking about it, not simply because of the media, but there are Democrats who are talking about this, that are having conversations about whether they believe he should remain on the ticket.

And if he does, how they can course correct effectively to address the points that you have raised, an emphasis on Donald Trump pointing out that we have not heard from him, that he seems to be somewhere in the shadows watching what is imploding in terms of intraparty disputes?

So, how does the Democratic Party, given that he has said he's not stepping down, how do they course correct to address this campaign and the candidacy of Trump and the way you've articulated?

SELLERS: Let me read a quote, though. It says, "Gettysburg, wow. I go to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to look and to watch. And the statement of Robert E. Lee, who's no longer in favor, did you ever notice it? He's no longer in favor. 'Never fight uphill, me boys, never fight uphill.' They were fighting uphill. He said, 'Wow, that was a big mistake.' He lost his general. He lost a great general. 'Never fight uphill, me boys.' But it was too late."

That literally makes no sense. And that's the 45th president of the United States. That's a quote directly from a stump speech of Donald Trump. And so, yes, I think that there are a lot of people who I do not want in a foxhole with me who are part of the Democratic Party. I think there are a lot of disloyal people. And I think that Scott's party does something very good. Scott's party. And he'll tell you, they don't really stand for core values or principles. They instead fall in line. There's nobody who will tell you --

JENNINGS: False. I will not -- I will not tell you that. False. That's absolutely false.

SELLERS: Well --

JENNINGS: I would not -- I would not --

SELLERS: There's nobody who will tell you that. Donald Trump --

JENNINGS: I would not tell you that.


SELLERS: Donald Trump is not -- Donald Trump is not a core conservative. The same person who donated thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood is not a core conservative. He's not a Reagan conservative. He's not a Bush conservative. He's not a Mitt Romney conservative, a Paul Ryan conservative. He's not even a Mitch McConnell conservative. He's not conservative at all. But what they have done is they have gotten in line around someone who abuses every notion of morality.

I mean, you've got to realize that every Christian conservative you bring on, Laura, ask them how they felt when Donald Trump said that he would grab a woman by the vagina. And you know what they still did? They voted for him. They voted for him. Why? Because he gave them three justices to abandon and outlaw abortion. They got in line. We fall in love.

COATES: So, Scott, to the point that he's raising, he speaks of compartmentalizing. And certainly, we heard that a great deal. Those who were able to compartmentalize and decide that even with a list of things that they never wanted, it was a cost benefit analysis in the end. When you're looking at this from a democratic -- I'm going to ask you to go outside of yourself from a democratic perspective. Is that what's happening right now in terms of compartmentalization or is this somebody who is a strong candidate who ought to remain because, well, if he does not remain, chaos could potentially consume the convention?

JENNINGS: Are you talking about Joe Biden? Yeah, look --


JENNINGS: I actually think he should remain. I mean, I think he -- I think he won his primary. I do think the White House may have trimmed the sails a little on it, but I think he won the primary. Democrats had a chance to vote. All kinds of people could have run against him and they didn't. But he has the delegates.

And so, I think it's his right to be the party's nominee. I question whether he's their best candidate. He still could win. I mean, there's a definite world here where Joe Biden could win this election. He did, after all, win the 2020 election. And Joe Biden, you know, he's got a bunch of people who are going to vote for him who just hate Donald Trump. And that condition is not going to change between now and November.

But at the same time, I do think -- I think the Democrats are finally coming to grips with an honest conversation about the limitations of Biden's candidacy. There's more to being the president of the United States than simply not being Donald Trump. He has a low approval rating. His fitness is being called into question. And now, the Democrats are in a panic mode about it.

But it's probably too late to do anything about it. So, we're going to have an election between Trump and Biden. We'll see if the American people want to return Joe Biden to the White House and make the decision that they think he could serve for four more years which, candidly, I think anybody who has watched the debate or the George Stephanopoulos interview with a straight face could not say, yeah, he looks like he's capable of serving.

COATES: Well, we'll see. The voters have the ultimate control in a democracy. I wonder if they'll judge the 90 minutes or the one-hour Stephanopoulos or they'll look at the last four years. We'll see. It's up to them. Bakari, Scott, thank you both so much.

Ahead, how much time does President Biden have to make his case to stay in the race? Meanwhile, we're not seeing Trump. I repeat, where has he been making his case in the affirmative? Well, I'll ask Democratic Congressman Greg Landsman, who flipped his district back in 2022, next.



COATES: So far, only six House Democrats have come out publicly to say that President Biden should step down. And dozens more, well, they are standing right beside him. And as of now, not a single senator has openly called for him to step aside. But, apparently, some have and plenty have expressed some concern and doubt how that translates. We'll have to see.

Senator Patty Murray this evening said that Biden must do more to demonstrate that he can campaign strong enough to beat Donald Trump. That's this thing about this crisis engulfing Democrats. Every single one of them agrees that they need to defeat Trump. What they don't seem to agree on now, what, 11, 12 days after the debate, is whether Biden is capable of prosecuting that case effectively and consistently in the public side.

Take Project 2025, for example. I mean, Democrats have been shouting from the rooftops that this Project 2025 is a blueprint for Trump to gut democracy if he wins.


Biden's own campaign says making Project 2025 a household phrase is essential to making the case against Donald Trump, saying -- quote -- "Project 2025 is one of the most effective ways we can make that point."

And the campaign's online team and their statements, they hammer that point home. Biden's surrogates, they mentioned every chance they get. But Biden didn't mention it at the debate when 50 million people were watching. And he didn't mention it during the George Stephanopoulos interview when eight million people were watching. He did, though, briefly mention it this morning.


BIDEN (voice-over): This guy is going to give a blank check to the Supreme Court and you can use it to pass the -- the -- the 2025 agenda. You know, extremely dangerous. This guy is extremely dangerous.


COATES: Was that a good enough reference? Did it go far enough? And how much do more Democrats need to see to feel comfortable about his positioning or to render their opinion, and a final one at that? These are all open questions right now as are why hasn't 2025 been discussed more so, especially for those who are on the fence.

Ohio Congressman Greg Landsman, who flipped his district in 2022, wrote today, "President Biden has to be able to make this case clearly to the American people, again and again and again. Now is the time for action, but time is running out."

Well, Congressman Landsman joins me now. Congressman, so good to see you this evening. How are you doing?

REP. GREG LANDSMAN (D-OH): I'm good. Thanks for having me.

COATES: It's already shaping up to be quite the July, perhaps unexpectedly for a lot of reasons. And we know that the debate is still lingering. And Biden has gone on the offense, at least I think now 15 times by my account, campaign events. He's had public events. He's had four different interviews as well since the June 27th debate. What more do you think he has to do to make the case again and again and again, maybe times 15, that he is, in fact, the right person at the top of the ticket?

LANDSMAN: Trump is unfit for office. He tried to overturn an election. That alone is disqualifying. And not to mention the fact that a court held him liable for rape, that he's a convicted felon, he took reproductive health care away from tens of millions of women and girls, he wasted trillions of dollars on billionaires and big corporations at the expense of the rest of us.

And the president has to be in a position to say all of those things and then to offer the alternative, which is, I am not a chaos machine like Donald Trump, I'm a normal, pragmatic, bipartisan leader who gets things done, who will strengthen our democracy, restore freedom, build a tax code and an economy around working folks, not the super wealthy, and I'm going to do it with character and integrity and reliability.

Him doing that over and over and over again is going to make a big difference, whether he's calling into shows, whether he's showing up, as opposed to arguing about whether or not he should step aside and sort of, you know, getting into it with elected officials. Just go tell voters why Donald Trump is so categorically unfit to be president of the United States and what a danger he presents to our democracy and to our lives.

COATES: Well, you know, congressman, I think he would probably say, I want to put words to the mouth of the president of the United States, but he feels as though it's the -- I think he calls it the media or the elite of your party, who is deciding that they know better than he does, that he's challenging them really to then race against him if they can do a better job.

But there's also the idea of whether or not he can shift the focus to the things you're talking about. I'm sure he wants the story to be about the things you've mentioned, articulating why he is the better candidate, he feels. But there is still this brewing sentiment. It's coming from members of your own, you know, legislative branch who feel as though this conversation is not over.

And I would say that he actually sent a letter to your caucus and he said, "The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it's time for it to end." Okay, that might be true, but it's not ending. Is it because of the reasons you're saying, he's not articulating enough? LANDSMAN: Well, I think, partly, it's not ending because he keeps talking about it. I mean, you know, and --

COATES: He is being asked about it.

LANDSMAN: Well, sure. I've only been elected. Well, I guess I've been -- I've only been a member of Congress for 18 months.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

LANDSMAN: So not long. He was in the Senate for decades. Vice president, now president. You pivot. You know, you start to say, hey, look, this has been debated. The debate has been debated. Let me tell you what matters most. The fact that Donald Trump could be president again is -- is terrifying, especially when the Supreme Court has said, hey, there -- there are no guardrails for Donald Trump if he becomes president. That is a terrifying reality.


And the only thing more terrifying than Trump being president of United States is if Trump has control over all three branches of government, if -- if he and those who follow him have the court, have the presidency, and have the House and the Senate. I mean, that is when our democracy and our lives are truly upended. And to be able to continue to talk about those things is something that certainly the president can do. All I'm encouraged him -- him to do and I think my colleagues are saying, like, go do it. Just go do that.

COATES: Congressman, excuse me, is there a deadline by which you think --


COATES: It's fish or cut bait. I mean, I don't mean like by noon or high noon.

LANDSMAN: No, I think --

COATES: But I mean --

LANDSMAN: He's got -- the -- the -- the republican convention is next week. So that will -- that will, I would assume, give him an opportunity to talk about how unfit Donald Trump is to be president every day, every -- every 10 minutes of every day. That is why I think those of us who are, you know, speaking out are speaking out, because we're -- we're very worried.

We care deeply about this country. We care deeply about our districts. We care deeply about our democracy. We care deeply about freedom and what was taken away from women and girls. We care deeply about this economy and fixing it for working people.

And we're back home hearing from folks that they're scared. I mean, genuinely, that's what I hear, is that there is a -- including some Republicans, Democrats, independents. And some Republicans are saying, we do not want to go back to the chaos of Donald Trump.

COATES: Would -- would -- would -- President Biden no longer being on top of the ticket. Would that contribute to some of the chaos and concerns of your constituents or would that alleviate it?

LANDSMAN: It's a great question. I think the thing that would alleviate it right now, because the president has said he's not going anywhere, is to just go out there, call into as many places as he can, you know, as many town halls, rallies, and make the case.

COATES: There's a big meeting tomorrow. Leader Jeffries will obviously lead that. Do you have any concerns or expectations of any kind of how that meeting will result? Do you think the Democrats are unified behind that common goal you said about Trump not being the president of the United States again? And are they unified in the vehicle by which you get there?

LANDSMAN: Yeah, I think with the exception of one member, everyone is unified. I mean, this is why there's this sort of, I guess, panic, you know, worry within the party, but across the country. That's how scary a Trump presidency is. And so, there will be agreement in that room tomorrow that we have to do everything in our power together, not just to ensure that we keep Donald Trump out of the presidency and away from upending our democracy in our lives, but that we're in a position to take back the House so that we can govern again.

COATES: Well, we'll see what happens. If you want to invite me, I'll be with you in the meeting. It's fine. If you want me --


COATES: Okay. Great. I'll be the fly on the wall. I'll be next to you. Either way, it's good with me. Congressman, thank you so much for joining me this evening.

LANDSMAN: Thank you. I appreciate it.

COATES: I appreciate it.


COATES: Well, the clock is ticking for Donald Trump -- where, by the way, is he? -- to pick a VP candidate. And a new op-ed suggests there may be a reason for Trump not to pick Senator J.D. Vance. We'll talk about it next.



COATES: With the Republican National Convention just now one week away, the political world is waiting with bated breath for Donald Trump to finally announce his running mate. The shortlist? Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Notably, Rubio is set to attend Trump's Florida rally tomorrow. But while we're all waiting and we are waiting and no one knows what Trump is going to do in the end, The Wall Street Journal's editorial board is warning that after the Biden debate performance, there is a new imperative for Trump's VP pick, and the experience.

The Journal says that "The need for stability and experience should eliminate the young MAGA-in-a-hurry types like Senator J.D. Vance or even members of the House. They lack experience and wouldn't be a reassuring contrast to Vice President Kamala Harris."

Joining us, Molly Ball, senior Political Correspondent at "The Wall Street Journal," and Brian Lanza, former Deputy Communications Director for the Trump 2016 campaign. Let me begin with you for a second, Brian, here because I wonder what you make of this editorial and the idea of J.D. Vance, the senator, not being as enticing in their editorial decision and opinion.

BRYAN LANZA, FORMER DEPUTY COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TRUMP 2016 CAMPAIGN: Well, first of all, thank you for having me. Listen, I think it's pretty clear that Senator Vance sort of does not appeal to the corporate types that read "The Wall Street Journal" and sort of that corporate type that has been the establishment of the GOP. He's a disrupter just like President Trump.

So, if you're "The Wall Street Journal," you're going to look for something that's not disruptive. You're going to look for something that is status quo. You're going to look for something that actually the American people have now rejected for two, you know, nearly three presidential elections.

So, you know, "The Wall Street Journal" is staling the recommendation. We're not surprised because that's what they depend on. They depend on sort of the establishment business type, putting corporate interests ahead of American interests and certainly ahead of the interests of voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.

And so, I'm not surprised by it. We'll see more of this sort of, you know, (INAUDIBLE) come out because, you know, J.D. represents probably the first threat to a structural change of the Republican Party's economics going forward, and that's scary.

COATES: Molly, let me ask you, because you've got a piece out today about Vance's sort of ascendancy to the short list. I mean, there are a number of people who are on the longer list.


And you write about how he sorts of rocketed to this short list. How did he get to this particular stature?

MOLLY BALL, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, first of all, I just want to make clear that I don't have anything to do with "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board, which is separate from "The Wall Street Journal" news section. And so, you know, the things that Bryan is saying about the editorial board have nothing to do with me. I did write the profile of J.D. Vance in the news section. And, yeah, he's someone who -- it's pretty remarkable if you think about it. This is someone who won his very first elected office less than two years ago.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

BALL: And now, he might be the next vice president of the United States. And the way he did that really is by becoming the chief sort of ideologue and propagandist for the MAGA movement.

He is a -- you know, in the way that he describes in his book, you know, having escaped his very difficult, hardscrabble upbringing, going, you know, into finishing college, joining the Marines, going to Yale Law School, that same, you know, intellect that enabled him to ascend into those elite circles has also made him a very lucid and articulate arguer for Trump's policies, sometimes more so than Trump himself. And so, he prides himself on, whether you're talking about on the campaign trail or in the Senate or on television, being able to articulate a philosophy behind Trumpism.

And I think Bryan is exactly right. It is not the philosophy of the old Republican Party. It is not the philosophy of, you know, Mitt Romney's GOP. It is a Trumpist philosophy that is much more about tariffs and isolationism and a muscular state intervening in the economy. It is not the Laissez-faire free trade and free markets of the Republican Party of old.

So, you know, I argue in my profile that the others under consideration to be Trump's VP would be sort of like Pence, a reassuring view to old -- reassuring gesture to old school conservatives. But if he does pick J.D. Vance, it would be a symbol that he is going all in on this populist philosophy.

COATES: Well, speaking of that, I mean, the Republican Party platform released today ahead of the RNC, to Molly's point, and it reflects the majority of Trump's ideas. There's a softening on abortion language there. The platform says -- quote -- "We will oppose late term abortion while supporting mothers and policies that advance prenatal care, access to birth control, and IVF." And I wonder, given the dynamic at play, is this going to upset the more conservative factions of the Republican Party?

LANZA: No, I don't think so. I think, listen, the conservative factions like what the President Trump did with respect to the Supreme Court and his three nominations and actually three Supreme Court justices, I think they look and see the potential of him nominating more Supreme Court justices who line up with that.

And I think it's important to remember, you know, President Trump, when he ran for president in 2016, he put together a list of people who were going to be -- you know, who are going to overturn Roe v. Wade and sort of return it to the states. So, he kept that promise.

So, you know, the public wasn't as scared in 2016 when President Trump released these judges that we knew were going to overturn Roe v. Wade. Where the public and where the reaction was is when the national Republicans sort of tried to move it to a federal ban. And President Trump had the philosophy that let's return it to the states. And so, it's a completion of that promise, and that promise was an acceptable term and an acceptable sort of position for voters in 2016.

And I think it's going to be an acceptable position for the party going forward. It's changing. It no longer has sort of that far-right wing view on abortion. I mean, Trump's position is more and more mainstream every day, which scares the Democrats because they like to demonize Republicans on that position. That's not a demonizing platform by any measurement.

COATES: Well, one thing at the debate, we always talk about what Biden said at the debate. Trump's core moments where I think people were bristling particularly with his comments about abortion, that they seem to be out of line with what many voters wanted to have. And the polls have said that. And also, the citizen ballot initiatives also were a part of that as well. And so, I do wonder, the more focus away from his responses, the less people maybe know about those positions.

But, Molly, I mean, the platform only has one line about the national debt. And that's where he is touted in the past about his business savvy, his economic savvy and beyond, saying "Republicans will immediately stabilize the economy by slashing wasteful government spending and promoting economic growth." Those used to be core republican principles, by the way. And I when I hear that, I feel like I've heard this exact phrase my entire life, the exact combination of words my entire life without the specificity of the how. So, is this a sign that that Trump's sort of guidance and leadership of this party is complete?

BALL: Absolutely. I think, you know, Trump has shifted the focus of the Republican Party away from the fiscal conservatism of yore to a new and more populist philosophy. And so where -- you know, the platform as recently as 2016 had language about reforming Social Security to make it fiscally sustainable.


Trump has -- has always promised to protect Social Security, although you could argue there were times when his administration considered other approaches to it. And so, this platform is clearly much more on that page. It also talks about tariffs. So, the Trumpian economic philosophy, which, again, is very different from the sort of economic philosophy of like a Paul Ryan or a Milton Friedman, is reflected in this document and it really symbolizes the extent to which Trump has taken over the party and shifted what it stands for.

COATES: I mean, one line, we'll see if we hear more at the actual conventions as well. This used to be the meat and potatoes of what the republican platform really was in their insults to the Democrats.

BALL: Well, and I will say, I had this conversation with Kevin Roberts of the Heritage Foundation recently, and I said, you know, I noticed that when you talk about conservative principles, you're not -- you don't usually mention these things about small government and fiscal responsibility that I'm used to hearing from Republicans, and he said, it's not that we don't believe in those things, it's that we're in a national emergency that has to do with our border and our culture and different -- it's a different moment that we're in and when we look at, you know, the wars going on overseas.

And so, the argument, I think, that some of these populist conservatives make is that some of those issues have fallen down the priority list because they consider other things more essential.

COATES: Well, we'll have to see if the American voters are convinced. Molly, Bryan, thank you both so much.

And ahead, Alec Baldwin's involuntary manslaughter trial set for jury selection tomorrow, and there was a big pretrial ruling today that will impact this case. I've got the details outside the court next.



COATES: Jury selection is set to begin tomorrow in Alec Baldwin's trial over the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. She was killed on the set of the movie "Rust" nearly three years ago when a gun held by Baldwin fired a live round during a scene rehearsal. Alec Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter. But if he is convicted, he could face 18 months in prison.

And you may remember it has been quite a back and forth after charges against Baldwin were initially brought, then they were dropped, and then they were brought again. The prosecution is attempting to prove Baldwin acted with disregard for the safety of others and the negligent use of a firearm. Now, his defense team is arguing it's not an actor's job to make sure live rounds are not loaded in a gun.

Now, jury selection will officially start the trial, but it comes after a whole slew of pretrial motions. And today, the judge ruling that Baldwin's role of co-producer for the film can't be considered during the trial.

Here to discuss, Kelly Krapf, legal correspondent for CourtTV. She's actually in Santa Fe covering the trial. Kelly, so good to see you. This is really important. This was a very big ruling today, that the jury is not going to know that Alec Baldwin was a producer on this film. How big of a win is that going to be for the defense?

KELLY KRAPF, LEGAL CORRESPONDENT FOR COURT TV: Laura, I think this is a huge win for the defense. We were out here for the Hannah Gutierrez trial. So, she's the armorer who was found guilty and serving 18 months behind bars, convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

And so now we have Alec Baldwin's trial. And one of the things that Kari Morrissey, the special prosecutor in this case, wanted to argue was that the buck stops here. This is Alec Baldwin, he was a producer on the movie set of "Rust," so he had a responsibility for the safety of everyone that was on that set. But the judge disagreed and said that the jurors will not hear about his role as a producer on the movie set of "Rust." They will just hear about him being, you know, an actor on the movie set.

So, it was a huge loss for the prosecution. And as you can imagine, Laura, thinking about going into this trial this week and the prosecutorial strategy of talking about him being a producer, and all of a sudden, that strategy does have to change because of this ruling.

COATES: I mean, the rug will be pulled over from underneath you. If your whole plan was just there was responsibility and the accountability, he wasn't just somebody who was handed the actual weapon, but instead somebody who had oversight in some way or shape or form for those responsible for handling the weapons and beyond, that's a very, very big deal.

There's also another ruling, though, today, Kelly. The judge specified what videos can actually even be shown in court. And apparently, she said yes to videos of Baldwin handling the firearm on set, but that they could not show videos of him yelling at people on set, saying they weren't relevant to the charge at hand. They're trying to paint him as somebody who had a blatant disregard for the safety of others on set and maybe was unapologetic about that. Will this decision by the court make their job harder?

KRAPF: Absolutely. So, again, another win for the defense here, because during the Hannah Gutierrez trial, we saw a lot of these videos, Laura, as to how Alec Baldwin was acting on set, how it appeared that he was rushing a lot of the crew members, that he was flagging, waving around the guns. At times after a cut would be called, he still would fire the weapon. And so, a lot of these videos are not going to be shown to the jury who ends up being seated in this case.

So, again, the prosecutor is going to have to really kind of focus on the videos that the judge said are relevant, that can come in and can't show all of this blatant disregard that the prosecutorial team wanted to talk about and did talk about during the Hannah Gutierrez retrial, in which it talked about Hannah Gutierrez, but then also talked about Alec Baldwin and how there was a total disregard for safety on the movie set of "Rust."

COATES: And as importantly, as you've mentioned, there was a trial of the actual armorer.


And so, now, you've got the sort of the empty chair sort of defense of this person who has been held to account and convicted. I'm sure they'll point the fingers as part of the defense strategy, given all these wins. But also, Alec Baldwin, I mean, he is very well known. He's a very high-profile celebrity and that can tend to complicate jury selection. What are you expecting to see?

KRAPF: Tomorrow, jury selection is going to kick off, Laura, about 9:00 this morning or tomorrow morning here in Santa Fe. And one of the things that we got to take away from the Hannah Gutierrez trial, which can kind of give us a little bit of insight going forward here with the Alec Baldwin trial, is that they asked them about the media attention, how much exposure they had to the media attention during the Hannah Gutierrez trial. They asked them about that, as well as their exposure to things that were said online in social chats.

So that's, of course, going to be a big part of the voir dire as they bring in. First, they're going to bring in a panel of 79, and then they're going to weed through those if they have to. They're going to get about 50 minutes to interview the potential jurors. And then they have another panel of 80, and then another panel of 80 after that. So, a lot of questions probably about if they are gun owners, what is their feelings on guns? What's their feeling about Alec Baldwin? Put aside those feelings, etc. So, we'll have to see what happens there.

COATES: This will be really important. Kelly Krapf, thank you so much. It starts tomorrow with jury selection. We'll be watching.

KRAPF: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: Thank you for watching. "Anderson Cooper 360" is next.