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CNN TONIGHT: Biden Calls On Senate To Change Filibuster Rules To Pass Voting Rights Bills: "I'm Tired Of Being Quiet"; Dr. Fauci Clashes With GOP Senators In COVID Response Hearing; NYPD Commissioner Meets With Manhattan D.A. After Clash Over New Prosecution Policies. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 11, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, if you ever miss 360, you can always listen to our podcast. Go to, or any of the major platforms, just search for "ANDERSON COOPER 360."

The news continues. Let's hand it over to Laura Coates, and CNN TONIGHT.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Anderson, Thank you. Good to see you.

And I am Laura Coates. And welcome to CNN TONIGHT.

The big headline, tonight, is President Biden's clarion call, for congressional action, on voting rights.

This, of course, hundreds of miles, away from the U.S. Capitol, which has been a big point of contention, for many voting rights advocates, who chose not to stand beside him, in Georgia today.

Now, they say, they want to see action, not just talk. And many are wondering, if this conversation is coming in too little too late, even though we're not yet a year into the Biden presidency.

You'll hear about more on that issue in just a moment.

Still, the President, a self-proclaimed creature, of the Senate, delivered his loudest call yet, for the Senate, to change its rules, on the filibuster, in order to get two stalled voting rights bills passed.

He says he's tired of being quiet. This, after apparently having quiet conversations, for months, with members of Congress, who are holding up voting reform.



Sadly, the United States Senate, designed to be the world's greatest deliberative body, has been rendered a shell of its former self.

We must find a way, to pass these voting rights bills.

We have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster, for this.



COATES: And ironically, tired is exactly what some of his staunchest supporters, now seem to be feeling. Some, I would add, in his own party, are growing fatigued, and voicing frustration that Biden hasn't done more, to get these critical pieces of legislation, he just referenced, through.

The Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, especially members of the African American community, who he recall, were promised this, after his election.


BIDEN: The African American community stood up again for me.

You always have my back. And I'll have yours.


COATES: Now, Biden said that he would have the backs, of Black voters, who had his back, back in 2020. But when it comes to voting rights, did he push them to the backburner?

I mean, it's no secret that more and more States, at least 19 States, have enacted 34 new laws, since the election of 2020. All which make it harder, to vote, particularly if you're a voter of color.

That's why members of Georgia's voting rights groups refused to attend today's speech, in Atlanta, fearing that they might be exploited, and used as part of a photo-op.

Now, President Biden did visit the crypt, of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with Vice President Kamala Harris, before going to the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King preached, and delivered his remarks, to a consortium, of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Prominent Civil Rights leaders, like Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton, they were there. But noticeably absent, was Georgia's voting rights super-warrior, Stacey Abrams, who, interestingly enough, cited a scheduling conflict.

She's the former Democratic candidate, for governor, and now another governor candidate, in Georgia, who was instrumental, in not only exposing discriminatory voting practices, in Georgia, but also helping to turn out the Black vote, for Biden, in her State of Georgia. Now, the President, he downplayed any tension that might be there, or inferred from her absence, telling reporters that he spoke to Abrams, this very morning, that they're on the, quote, "Same page and everything is fine."

But why exactly, would she turn down an opportunity like this? Man, I'm wondering, was that a scheduling conflict? Or was she herself conflicted about getting beside the President of the United States? And if so, what message does that send, to him, to members of Congress, and the Georgia electorate?

Now Abrams, she did put out tweets, thanking President Biden, for quote, "Refusing to relent" until the work of protecting voting rights is finished. And she also welcomed him, back to Georgia.

She also did mention that they spoke by phone, as President Biden said, and she reaffirmed their, quote, "Shared commitment to the American project of freedom and democracy."

I wonder, was that reactive or instructive, on her part!

Biden, for his part, is trying to fight through the blowback, for his decision, to wait, frankly, this long, to give a speech, of this caliber and strength, on the right to vote, nearly one year, into his presidency.

But, let's be clear, this is not just about one man, or even the speech of one president. I mean, look at the screen. The President doesn't have the votes, to get the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed, in a 50-50 Senate.


I mean, all 50 Republicans, I repeat, all 50 Republicans, are united against enacting these bills. And two Democratic senators, are with those Republicans, when it comes to changing rules, on the filibuster, to help get them over the finish line.

Both Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, they said they oppose changes, to the 60-vote threshold, to pass legislation.

And well, frankly, Senator Manchin, dug in on that very position, just today.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Yes. The filibuster is what makes the Senate hopefully work, when it's supposed to work.

We need some good rules changes and we can do that together. But you change the rules with two-thirds of the people that are present. So, it's Democrats, Republicans, changing the rules, to make the place work better. Getting rid of the filibuster does not make it work better.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: So, what can Biden do now? I mean, how could he deliver, on his promises, to those who he says delivered for him, and did? And what about the promises of democracy?

And will all this inaction, or the perception of it, have consequences, for him, and his party, in the midterms, and even beyond? He's already said he wants to run for reelection. And the question is, would it discourage some of the people, in his own party, from turning out to vote?

Joining me now is a voting rights champion, who didn't attend the President's speech, today. Nse Ufot is the CEO of The New Georgia Project, which is founded, by the way, by Stacey Abrams. Why? Well, to defend the right to vote.

Welcome to CNN TONIGHT. Nice to see you, Nse.


COATES: I have to ask you, because there's a lot of questions, swirling around the decision, not to actually attend the speech.

And, for many, and I think you've expressed the same point, that it was the thought of just hearing the very things, you already know, to be true. The importance of voting rights, the reason, to fortify and protect.

Did the President express something today that encouraged you in any way?

UFOT: Yes, in fact, he did. I think that their presence was encouraging, right?

I also think that hearing him forcefully say that we need a carve-out, that we need to get rid of the filibuster, so that we can pass voting rights, is actually really encouraging, to hear, as well.

And to hear them say that we need to pass the For the People Act, we need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and that we need to pass those things now, those are things that we've been saying for the entire year, the entire time that he's been President. And, like, our demand has not changed.

And so, what we are looking for is yes, like the speech is important. It's lovely. We're happy to hear it. He hit the right notes.

And we are also looking for a path forward, to getting this legislation passed, or some real talk, with the American people, to say that bipartisanship, is not an option, in this moment.

Because this current version, of the Republican Party, is not interested in governing, that they have aligned themselves, with the Americans, who showed up on January 6, with a failed murder plot, to kill the Vice President, and to try to interfere with the Electoral College vote. I think that that is the last piece that we're trying to hear. How do we get this bill passed?

COATES: And Nse?

UFOT: These bills passed.

COATES: Nse, on that point, of course, it's curious.

Because, as much as the President spoke about these issues, and you found it encouraging, that he had the presence, to be there, is it discouraging that you chose, not to, in terms of voters, who are looking towards, the President of the United States?

And we're almost a year into the presidency. And I do wonder, to play devil's advocate here, I do wonder, Nse, what message it sends, if there is the perception, among voters, who were told, "Look, all you have to do is turn out, to secure the Democratic majority. Come out in record numbers. You got the majority in the House, the Senate and of course, in the White House."

If you're perceived as throwing up your hands that you think it's all bluster, does that disincentivize the engagement, for people, do, you, think, later on?

UFOT: It does. But I also don't think that that's what's happening right now, right?


UFOT: So, the legislative session started, in Georgia, yesterday. And the Republicans, the Georgia Republicans, showed up, to work, for the first day legislature - of the first day of the legislature, with a plan, to continue the attacks, on our elections infrastructure.

Now, their new ambition is to completely get rid of drop boxes, right? And vote-by-mail and drop boxes was a key component, to having the elevated turnout that we had in 2020, in the middle of a pandemic.

With 30,000 brand-new voting machines, that Georgians voted on, for the first time, with no paper trail, that having an opportunity, to vote-by-mail, made sure that people were - that there was a paper trail, so that we could have receipts, but also so that people could manage their exposure, to the virus. And now, the Republicans are attacking that.

Lincoln County, one of our Black vote counties, where they're trying to close seven, out of the eight polling locations. And we're supporting organizers, on the ground, who are collecting signatures, to try to block that.


159 counties in Georgia, and several Republicans, are trying to unceremoniously, and unilaterally, remove Black county elected officials, from their - from duty. And so, we are in a crisis moment. And so, I think that when we talk to the 600,000 young people, and people of color that we've registered to vote, that we - they understand what we are doing. They understand that we are working to sustain, the demand, for urgent and immediate action, to protect voting rights, for all Americans.

This isn't just a Georgia issue. This isn't just a Red-state issue. This is a problem, nationally. You mentioned 19 States have passed anti-voting legislation. 48 States have introduced nearly 400 anti- voting bills.

COATES: And I suspect and say there's not--

UFOT: This is a--

COATES: --that's not going to be the end of it. I mean, when you're talking about that, the numbers alone, I say to myself, is going to be more.

I wonder what you make of this, though, with Senator Mitch McConnell, having this statement, earlier today, when he was talking about, well, is there some need to change the filibuster the way that the President articulated today?

Listen to what he says.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The Senate isn't broken and doesn't need fixing.


COATES: I mean, the Senate's not - that wasn't the question, he was asked, of course.

And you and I are, both, cocking our head, at the same time, and say, thinking to ourselves, "Well, there's something broken about the idea that even the concept of voting rights has become partisan."

There's obviously clearly things happening, and it's in broad daylight. What do you say to that?

UFOT: Not only is the Senate broken, he broke it, right?

COATES: If you want to be direct about it, Nse!

UFOT: And--

COATES: Yes, go ahead.

UFOT: Yes. Absolutely. He broke it. I refuse to pretend like he is a good actor, in this moment, that they are statesmen or patriots, or people, who care about protecting American democracy.

Everything that they have done, from the what, over 100 members of Congress, who signed a letter, and refused to try to certify the elections, in 2022, to January 6 deniers, apologists for the insurrectionists, again to, basically saying that there's nothing going to move, on the Biden agenda?

I absolutely want to see Build Back Better become the law of the land. We absolutely want to see a path forward for immigration reform.

There are things that the American people want to see that were promised, by the President, on the campaign trail. And we are trying to flank him, so we can create and sustain, the demand, for these bills, these laws that we have to have.

COATES: Nse Ufot, thank you. And everything you just mentioned, of course, depends on people having access, to speak their minds, representatively, through the polls. Thank you so much for your time. Nice talking to you.

I want to bring in a different perspective here, on all this issue, as well, because my next guest well, he calls the Biden voting rights agenda, quote, "An attempt to weaken election security under the guise of voting rights."

Georgia's Republican Secretary of State, claims Democrats are trying to rig the rules. And he's the official, who was on the other end of that infamous Trump "Can you find me about 11,000 votes?" call.

Lot to tackle with, Brad Raffensperger, up ahead.



COATES: Our last guest talked about the impatience. But Georgia's Republican governor, he refused to wait and hear, what the President said, about voting rights before offering his own take, and analysis.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Make no mistake, Georgia is ground zero for the Biden-Harris assault, on election integrity, as well as attempts to federalize everything, from how hard-working Georgians run their businesses, to what our kids are taught, in school, to how we run elections.


COATES: Brian Kemp is right about one thing. Georgia, it is ground zero, but not maybe for the reasons, he's talking about. I mean, it started, not, with today's visit.

But maybe it was ground zero, beginning with this call. Do you remember?


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.


COATES: Every time I hear that number, and the precision of the request, makes me raise my eyebrow, and wonder what's next.

The former president's lies, about Georgia, it didn't stop, when the state passed a controversial voting law, last year. And frankly, it's fueling a wave of new bills, and prompting primary challenges, for Republicans, like my next guest, frankly, Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, whose new book, is called, "Integrity Counts."

Thank you for being with me tonight. I see your book there. And I love the play on words. I'll dig into that as well, Secretary, on that very issue.

Because, what has been your reaction to this idea that the Biden administration, you say, is somehow the one that is attacking voting rights, and the integrity of our elections? It's interesting, because, as you know, you yourself have been accused, of being complicit, in the same.

What's your take now?

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, (R) GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE, AUTHOR, "INTEGRITY COUNTS," REJECTED TRUMP REQUEST TO "FIND" VOTES TO CHANGE ELECTION OUTCOME: Well, if I look at, in fact, your last speaker talked about wanting Americans to be able to vote. And so, today, I asked for (ph) United States constitutional amendment that only American citizens vote in our elections.

The vast majority of Americans believe that only Americans should be voting in our elections. And they're now voting in city elections, in New York, San Francisco. And even, San Jose is looking at that.

Another one that has strong bipartisan support, is having photo ID. That is actually supported by majorities, of both parties, both political parties, and every single demographic group.

80 percent of all Americans support photo ID. And H.R.1, H.R.4, would do away with photo ID, and also have same-day registration. And that in effect would end up with people that could vote multiple times. And also doing away with the citizenship check.



RAFFENSPERGER: It also really makes it difficult to update voter rolls.

I also think that we should have a national ban on ballot harvesting. The only person that should ever touch your absentee ballot is you, the voter, or the election official, once they - and the election worker, when they receive your ballot. That's it. COATES: I understand the litany of things you've just presented. And it's been echoed by other people as well.

One of the big flaws that has been addressed, and criticized, about those lists is the idea that many of them, well, one with the idea of who's been able to vote, in a place like Georgia, it's already part of the laws that are existing.

And then the rest seem to be, in many respects, a codified legislative initiative, in search of an actual problem. And I want to get to right there, because this idea of each of the things you raised really is premised on the idea that these were all significant problems that were so prevalent, so pervasive that they needed to actually ne corrected.

In thinking about that litany, are you afraid that by promoting these principles, you actually are instilling more fear, about the integrity of our elections?

RAFFENSPERGER: There's no other country - there's not a single other country, in the rest of the world that allows non-citizens, to vote, in their elections. We would be the outlier, be the only country in the world that allows non-citizens, to vote in their elections.

And then photo ID, we've had that for in-person voting, for 10 years. And now, we've incorporated that, for absentee voting. And they've been using that, in Minnesota, for over 10 years. And that's a Democrat state.

So, it's a nonpartisan, bipartisan, it's an objective measure, that you can identify the voters. And it helps give people confidence in the process. And so, it is about confidence. It's about accessibility. It's about security.

And there's a tension there. I understand that. I think Georgia struck the proper balance. We've now have 17 days early voting. That's more than anything they have in New York, New Jersey or Delaware.

COATES: Now, you're talking about Minnesota. You're also talking about my home state as well. And there's many States, across the country that have been looking at these issues.

And the problem for voter ID laws, and I want you to address this, people's criticism of voter ID is not on the concept that they are somehow against the idea, of those, who are supposed to be voting, where you are who you say you are.

It's about the devil being in the details, about the availability of having access to the actual IDs, the type of IDs that are permitted, versus those that are taken away, the ideas that which count, and which do not.

And your book, by the way, is called "Integrity Counts." And I do wonder, for all those things, there is an element happening, in Georgia, right now, where the power is being removed, from officials, like yourself, in the ability, to oversee, fully, these elections. Do you see a problem with that, based on the issues that you have raised? I mean, if you believe, truly, genuinely, that these are indeed our problems, do you think that it's incumbent upon an elected official, as opposed to one, who is not, to oversee these elections?

RAFFENSPERGER: Well, as it relates to photo ID, that we've had that in place with Motor Voter, over five years now. And most people are being registered to vote, through Department of Driver Services. So, it has photo ID, also a robust citizenship check.

And 98.5 percent of all of our registered voters have a driver's license number. And then if they've been registered, a long time ago, we'll probably have their Social Security number. And that gets you up to 99 percent.

But we also accept 12 to 14 other forms of identification. And we'll give you a free ID, just like we do, for in-person voting. So, it's not been an issue. In fact, studies, peer-reviewed studies, have shown photo ID does not decrease turnout.

COATES: But I just want to - I know we are out of time here. But you don't have a problem with your own power being removed to oversee elections? I mean I know you mentioned them, voter ID. But what about the latter issue?

RAFFENSPERGER: Well, I've obviously been very clear that I believe that the Secretary of State should be the Chair of the State Election Board.

But be that as it may, I do believe that having an accountability measure now, for the very first time, that when you're the county that can't run an election, well? And Fulton County hasn't run elections, well, since 1993, long before I was here. This is 30 years that they've been having issues in Fulton County.

We finally have a process, as a thoughtful process, of a bipartisan review panel. They can look at their procedures, and say, "Are you going to improve it? And what's your plan of action?" And if they can't, then you can replace that board. The new board can hire a new Election Director.

They had this issue, in Florida, years ago. Governor Scott fired one of the election directors. Governor DeSantis fired another. You don't hear about Palm Beach County and Broward County election issues anymore.

And think accountability is always good thing. If you don't check Little Johnny's homework, Little Johnny may not do his homework. And that's we're talking about doing, is checking people's homework, making sure they do the job well.

We have 159 counties. And we can't have one county holding up, the whole rest of the state, waiting for results.

COATES: Well, Fulton County is waiting on the results of one of their prosecutorial investigations. We'll see, really, whether Johnny was a good little boy, or a bad little boy, when it comes to that one. Won't we?

Secretary Brad Raffensperger, thank you so much, for your time tonight.


COATES: Nice talking to you.



COATES: We're going to turn now to COVID, and fireworks on Capitol Hill, as Dr. Fauci grows furious, at his biggest critics.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): So your desire to take down people--



FAUCI: Almost everything you've said.

PAUL: Well, no, you deny. You deny.

FAUCI: Right.

PAUL: But the emails tell the truth of this.



COATES: And that, by the way was the polite part, compared with what Fauci called, another Republican senator today. But the frustration over Omicron may be leaving some pro-vaccine Americans, having them sound more like right-wing anti-vaxxers.

We'll talk about it, with a former Biden COVID advisor, next.


COATES: As top health experts, were grilled, on Capitol Hill, today, it was Dr. Anthony Fauci's fiery exchanges, with Republican senators that well, they stole the show!


Now, Dr. Fauci, as you know, you've seen it, he's butted heads with Rand Paul before, many times, frankly. But today, it was the way he fired back that really caught our attention.


FAUCI: I think, in usual fashion, Senator, you are distorting everything about me.

Senator, you are incorrect.


FAUCI: Almost everything you've said.

PAUL: Well no, you deny. You deny.

FAUCI: Right.

PAUL: But the emails tell the truth of this.

FAUCI: You keep - you keep distorting the truth.

PAUL: Did you?

FAUCI: It is - it is stunning how you do that.

PAUL: Did you talk? Did you talk to--

FAUCI: You keep coming back to personal attacks on me that have absolutely no relevance to reality.

PAUL: Do you think anybody has had more influence over our response to this than you have?

FAUCI: Let me finish.

PAUL: Do you think it's a great success?

FAUCI: Madam Chair, can I?

PAUL: Do you think it's a great success what's happened so far?

FAUCI: Right.

What happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue, is that all of a sudden that kindles the crazies out there. And I have life - threats upon my life, harassments of my family, and my children, with obscene phone calls, because people are lying about me.

It makes a difference. Because as some of you may know, just about three or four weeks ago, on December 21, a person was arrested, who was on their way, from Sacramento to Washington, D.C., at a speed stop, in Iowa.

And they asked - the police asked him, where he was going. And he was going to Washington, D.C., to kill Dr. Fauci. And they found in his car an AR-15, and multiple magazines of ammunition. Because he thinks that maybe I'm killing people.

So I asked myself, "Why would Senator want to do this?"

So, go to Rand Paul website, and you see "Fire Dr. Fauci" with a little box that says, "Contribute here." You can do $5, $10, $20, $100.

So, you are making a catastrophic epidemic, for your political gain.


COATES: Unbelievable, what the experience of Dr. Fauci has been!

But there was more, because there was this moment, a hot mic moment where Dr. Fauci lashed out, at Senator Roger Marshall. I want you to listen carefully, here.


SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): You see things before members of Congress would see them.

FAUCI: What?

MARSHALL: So that there's an air of appearance that - that maybe some shenanigans are going on. You know, I don't think that that's - I assume that's not the case.

FAUCI: Senator, what are you talking about?

MARSHALL: I assume it's not the case.

FAUCI: My financial disclosures are public knowledge, and have been so. You are getting amazingly wrong information.

MARSHALL: So, what - I cannot find them.

FAUCI: What are you talking about?

MARSHALL: Our office cannot find them. Where would they be, if they're public knowledge?

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): Senator - Senator?


FAUCI: It is totally accessible to you, if you want it.

MARSHALL: For the public? Is that accessible to the public?

FAUCI: To the public.


FAUCI: To the public.

MARSHALL: Great. We look forward to reviewing it.

MURRAY: Senator Marshall?

FAUCI: You are totally incorrect.

MURRAY: Senator Marshall?

MARSHALL: Well we look forward to reviewing it.

MURRAY: Senator Marshall, Dr. Fauci has answered you. It is public information. And he's happy to give it to you, if you were to ask.

VOICE OF FAUCI: What a moron! Jesus Christ!


COATES: So, clearly, he's had quite enough, of all the shenanigans.

And for what it's worth? Senator Marshall is a former physician himself. That makes it all the more stunning, frankly, to think about why Dr. Fauci, is being attacked, by his colleagues, and what has he done wrong, is really the question that he himself is asking, right now.

I want to bring in another doctor, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a former member of then-President-elect Biden's COVID Advisory Board.

Dr. Emanuel, you clearly see the frustration. You hear Dr. Fauci express the frustration, the anger, frankly, and the sadness, involved in his being attacked, based on misinformation.

What is your reaction to seeing him frustrated, in this way? Do you share that frustration?


Tony Fauci is a man of incredible integrity, devoted to the country, and devoted to the American public's health.

And the Senate, unfortunately, first of all, doesn't treat him with respect. And second of all, we have an epidemic - pandemic, that's actually caused over 830,000 deaths, almost 62 million people infected. And we're arguing about, various emails that have nothing to do with trying to solve problems.

And point of fact, the email Rand Paul was referring to, was not authored by Tony Fauci. And the group that was referred to, it has been totally thoroughly discredited, as was suggested in the email. So, I am not sure what gets accomplished here. But certainly helping solve this Pandemic, is not one of them.


COATES: I mean, it's obviously counterproductive, right? It's also dangerous, as well. And, as you articulated, Dr. Emanuel, it's not as if there have not been more than 800,000 deaths, in this country. It's not as if we don't have issues, surrounding vaccine diplomacy.

And for every new letter, in the Greek alphabet, there's one more waiting to be named, on a variant, in this point. We know this is all happening. And - but yet there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

And you have seen, obviously, the frustration that has been wielded, in the direction of a Dr. Fauci, of a Dr. Rochelle Walensky, as well, because there is this notion of confusion, confusing messaging.

Do you think that's truly the case that the CDC is somehow falling short in messaging? Or do you think that it's perhaps a little bit of a frustration with the fact that the Pandemic has yet to end, people don't want to hear it anymore?

EMANUEL: Look, we're all frustrated by the Pandemic. It's now been two years, our lives have been upended. Taking it out on government officials, who are working tirelessly?

I've been in their position. I was in the government, from 2009 to 2011. You're working 6 A.M., to 12, to try to solve serious, serious problems. And then, to have people attack you, and attack your person, your - declaring conflicts of interest, false things? That's horrible.

It is the case that we didn't anticipate the development of Delta and then Omicron. And we need a new strategy. And that is quite clear.

But the basic message, of the administration, "We've got to get people vaccinated. We've got to get people wearing good quality masks," those are really been the same. And the problem is that people have been arguing against it, like Rand Paul. And that is not helping address and solve this Pandemic.

COATES: In many ways, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, you're almost wondering what happened to that phrase, "We're all in it together." It seems to be pitting people more and more, nearly three years in.

Dr. Emanuel, thank you for your time, as always. I appreciate it.

EMANUEL: Thank you.

COATES: And, I also wonder, on different areas that we've been focusing on, and thinking about, over time, issues surrounding criminal justice reform. I mean, is there an instance when it can go too far?

New York's Police Commissioner and Manhattan D.A. have each been on the job, for what, less than two weeks, at this point? But they're already clashing over a new strategy that Police say, puts them, and the public, in danger. Could suspects resist arrest, with no charges, in some cases?

We have a policing veteran, here to discuss, next, and one of my favorites, in just a moment.



COATES: So, first came a disagreement. Then came a crucial meeting.

Today, the brand-new district attorney, in Manhattan, had a sit down with the new NYPD Commissioner, after he got some harsh blowback, for his prosecution reforms.

D.A. Alvin Bragg said that he will only prosecute serious crime, meaning he would no longer prosecute citizens, for minor and non- violent infractions, like trespassing, or traffic violations, and resisting arrest, and even misdemeanor marijuana violations.

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the policy would put officers and the public in danger.

She and Bragg released a joint statement, after their meeting, which in part says, "It was agreed that police and prosecutors would weigh the individual facts and circumstances of each case with a view toward justice and work together to keep New Yorkers safe."

Joining me now, to discuss, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Charles Ramsey. He was also Chief of Police, in Washington, D.C., as well.

Commissioner Ramsey, always nice to see you, and get your expertise. I can't think of a better person, than you, to talk about this, because the Prosecutor's priorities here, obviously got, under the skin, of the Police Commissioner.

What is your take? Is that the right call, to essentially prioritize the non-violent crimes? Is that a good call, to make, if you're the Police Commissioner?


Because, you have to have open lines of communication, between the D.A. and the Police Commissioner. You can't just butt heads on everything. You're going to disagree on a few things, obviously. But you do need to have open lines of communication.

So they've both been in office, for a short period of time. Having a meeting, early on, to kind of iron a few things out, I think, is very important, to try to get, if not on the same page, at least in the same book, so that you can at least move forward.

And I understand some of what the D.A. is trying to do. Find alternatives to incarceration, focus on the more violent crimes.

But I also think it's a mistake, when prosecutors, before they've even had a chance, to evaluate an individual case, just make these kinds of statements, "We're no longer going to prosecute this," or "We're no longer going to prosecute that."

Each case has to stand on its own merits. And they need to review these cases, before they make those kinds of comments. Because, I think, it just does a disservice, to everyone involved, Victims of Crime, Police officers, everybody.

COATES: Now look, I've been a federal prosecutor. I know, of course, you've been a Commissioner, and a well-respected one at that.

And we make decisions, as prosecutors, right, based on not only the facts in the case, obviously, our burden, but also, you know, the volume of cases is going to impact the ability to allocate resources.

You know, that you got to prioritize certain cases. And every case, particularly, the non-violent ones, where you're weighing whether to pursue those, or use your resource, on the violent ones.

It can be the right decision in some instances, to prioritize, not ignore, but prioritize. But what about the safety of officers here? That's a concern that this Commissioner has raised.


If you do not have these charges, like resisting arrest, for example--

RAMSEY: Right.

COATES: --which we know has been the cause, for concern, for Fourth Amendment violations, for many trials, just this year alone. Do you have concern that that will somehow incentivize violence towards Police officers? Is that the crux of our issue?

RAMSEY: I think it could. I think she's legitimately concerned about that. I would be too. I think you have to scrutinize resisting cases, very carefully, to make sure they're legitimate.

Now that officers wear body cameras, and I review a lot of use-of- force cases now, in my current role, as a consultant, and the body cameras make a huge difference. Believe me, you can tell whether or not, the officer used excessive force, did they try to de-escalate, all those kinds of things. So, certainly looking at them carefully.

But you can't say you're not going to prosecute these cases. You have to look at each one, individually. Because what you don't want to do is create an environment, where people think it's OK, to resist arrest.

That arrest is still going to take place. But what you're going to wind up with, is maybe higher levels of force, being used, to bring a person under control. You'll have more instances, where, officers will be involved in struggles, with individuals who've taken into custody.

And so, you have to take these matters seriously. And I think words matter. You have to just be careful, on how you say things. I don't think his intention is to harm anyone. But he has to be careful how he presents these things, so that he doesn't give the wrong impression. COATES: Yes, it's the idea of priorities versus inviting behavior, right? Prioritizing prosecution.

RAMSEY: Right, exactly.

COATES: But, I wonder? Pardon me. And I saw this. Wonder, just given the volume of cases, we've seen, on officer-involved shootings, and excessive use of force, I wondered, in part of knowing full well, that I write about this, in my book, I mean, just thinking about the overwhelming and disproportionate impact, of these cases, on Black and Brown communities, was a part of this more thinking of the idea of luck.

Resisting arrest cases can often be pretextual. And it's perceived by the public, as pretextual, in some instances, as some way to trump up charges against someone. Could that be part of the calculus, in terms of assuring that there is greater trust, between the community, and the Police, who should have this symbiotic relationship?

RAMSEY: It could be. But also, again, you have to look at these cases, individually. I don't have a problem with very close scrutiny, when it comes to resisting cases. And any case, for that matter.

But, I think, when you start making statements, or start acting, as if all cases of resisting arrest, are somehow just trumped up, and they didn't need to happen, it wasn't legitimate, on the part of the officer, I think, is a mistake as well.

I mean, I've been involved in a lot of arrests. Not everybody wants to go to jail. And so, you wind up with a struggle, you know? Some struggles take longer than other struggles. But they do take place.

So, you just have to look at these cases individually, and make a judgment, based on what you see, now that we have body-worn cameras, the facts in the case, all those things combined, and then make a decision, as to whether or not you're going to charge.

COATES: Commissioner Ramsey, thank you for your time, and expertise, as always. I appreciate it.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

COATES: Something is still on the top of my mind, on the fight, over voting rights, in America, something, I think that, should blow all of our minds, as this battle comes to the forefront again. I'll make my case about it, next.



COATES: A big win for Georgia, last night. The Bulldogs defeated Alabama's Crimson Tide. It's George's first national title, in football, in 41 years.

But look, it's not the only reason Georgia, has been, on all of our minds, not just the mind of President Biden, who delivered a strong speech, today, in support, of fortifying voting rights.

It was on the mind of his predecessor, if only to find 11,000 votes.

And the mind of President Biden's Attorney General, Merrick Garland, who's Justice Department, has sued the State, for its alleged discriminatory voting laws.

And the mind of Senator Mitch McConnell, who is trying to reclaim the title of Majority Leader, a title he lost, from the Georgia Senate runoff elections, while they painted the State, Blue.

It's on the mind of Democrats and Republicans alike, as they debate the merits and viability of a bill that bears the name of the late Representative John Lewis, himself, a son of Georgia.

And Georgia, is on the minds of political strategists, weighing whether the choice of voting rights champion, and second-time gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, her choice, not to attend President Biden's speech today, if it wasn't about a scheduling conflict, but perhaps a decision, to follow the blueprint of Virginia Governor-elect, Glenn Youngkin, who distanced himself from an unpopular president.

But there's another blueprint that should be top of mind, the one that has guided far too many elected officials, and their ability, to undermine needed legislation that protects the rights of voters of color.

I'm talking about the filibuster. Now, I'm not going to debate you here, whether it was first introduced, for racist reasons. I'll leave it to historians, to debate Aaron Burr's intentions.

But one cannot ignore that, in its modern form, and application, the Senate rule that people argue is meant to protect a political minority's rights, senators in the minority, that is, it's been used as a weapon against the protection of the rights of racial minorities.

And it's been successfully deployed again, and again, to defeat civil rights bills, including anti-lynching bills.

And yes, it has been used by Democrats and Republicans alike, and for perfectly legitimate reasons, sometimes separate and apart, from any issues of race, whatsoever. And frankly, it still can be.


But maintaining a blanket rule, to protect elected officials, already in power, at the expense of the powerless? Well, that poses a threat to a government that is by design, of, for and by the people.

And yes, you can call the "Big lie" out, for what it is, a lie, because we do have free and fair elections. And there is no widespread voter fraud. But we must still acknowledge that our elections will only continue, to be free and fair, if voting rights are preserved.

Now, you're never guaranteed to vote for the winner. But you ought to have the chance to participate and fully.

And we're told, in the Senate, that the votes just aren't there that there's no appetite, for eliminating the filibuster. And yet, there's certainly been an appetite, for carving out exceptions to it, I mean, for Supreme Court nominees and reconciliation.

In the past few weeks alone, we've seen the Senate create a carve-out, when it comes to raising the debt ceiling, after Yellen sounded the alarm, at the thought of the U.S. defaulting on its debt.

Well, then we can also surely carve-out an exception at the thought of our country defaulting on its own promise of democracy, right? I mean, Georgia is on our minds. But it should blow all of our minds that we could ever be weak, on protecting voting rights, and still think our democracy could ever be strong.

I'll chat with Don, next.