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CNN TONIGHT: McCarthy Claims He Has Nothing To Provide January 6 Committee; Patrick McEnroe On Djokovic Legal Fight; DeSantis Draws Ire After Bashing Dem-Led States. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 14, 2022 - 21:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Created her own production company, getting films made.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marilyn Monroe is a mirror, for people's ideas, about women's sexuality, and women's power.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to know where to start, if you don't start with the truth.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: It's fascinating. Be sure to check it out, Sunday night, 9 P.M.

The news continues. Want to hand it over to Laura Coates, and "CNN TONIGHT."


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Anderson, thank you. That song is stuck in all of our heads now. All week long, we're all going to be singing it. Have a great weekend, with that earworm now! I appreciate it.

COOPER: You too!

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

You know what? Today's news could be filed under the category of, "Well, well, well!" That's exactly what you've probably been thinking, as you heard the day's news unfold.

First, when Stewart Rhodes, the Head of the Oath Keepers, a far-right fringe militia group, and another defendant, Edward Vallejo, pleaded not guilty, to one of the most serious charges, we have, on our books. Seditious conspiracy. Now, you know, these men are two of the 11 suspects, accused, of plotting to basically try to use force, to stop Congress, from carrying out the job, of certifying the presidential election.

You know, the thing we all assume will happen after a free and fair election? And that same thing that's part of a peaceful transition of power? The kind of thing that stops us from being a dictatorship, when someone says, "You know what? No. I'd rather stay right here."

The reason the charges are so serious? Well because the stakes are too high not to be. And believe me, I know, from experience, that charges alone aren't going to convince a jury. Proving your burden is certainly no cakewalk. Why? Well, for the same reason, I just said. That the stakes are too high.

And it remains to be seen, frankly, of whether the government can actually meet its burden of proof, on these charges. But boy, I'd tell you, evidence, like this little tidbit right here, if it gets in? Well, let's just say it will help their case.

You know, when, on November 10, after the election was called, for Biden? Rhodes, he was bragging about how men, positioned outside, he had them outside, of Washington, D.C., prepared to engage in violence, on Trump's command.


STEWART RHODES, LEADER, OATH KEEPERS: We have men, already stationed, outside D.C., as a nuclear option. In case the attempt to remove the President illegally? We will step in and stop it.

It'd be inside D.C., will also be on the outside of D.C., armed, prepared to go in, if the President called us in.



COATES: Nuclear option? Hmm! What did I tell you the theme was today? Well, well, well!

Because recall that just last night, when I was speaking with Rhodes' attorney, who is his counsel, before the committee? Well, he said they were just there for protection, to just walk people through, and guide them. No nefarious intent!

Well, well, well! But it doesn't stop there. Because speaking of potentially damning evidence, well enter Congressman Kevin McCarthy.

There's some pretty interesting audio that's just resurfaced that further proves why the January 6 committee wants the House Minority Leader, to voluntarily testify, a request that we know he repeatedly has refused, to comply with.

Yesterday, he seemed pretty emboldened. And today, looking a little bit more like a cat that ate the canary. So, allow me to paint the picture, this Friday evening. Because here he is, yesterday, feigning amnesia, about a conversation that he had with Trump, five days, after an attack, on the Capitol.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you tell House Republicans, on the January 11 phone call that President Trump told you he agreed that he bore some responsibility, for January 6, as Chairman Thompson's letter indicates?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I'm not sure what call you're talking about.


COATES: Really? Now, when that kind of thing would happen in my courtroom? Well, this is the moment that we would show, let's call it a receipt.

So, receipt number one, America. And this is close to my heart, as a radio talk show host, myself. I admit, it's a radio interview that he did, the day after the January 11, 2021, phone call, with Trump. That's January 12, for those keeping score. And said himself that Trump took partial blame, for the Insurrection.


MCCARTHY: I say he has responsibility. He told me personally that he does have some responsibility. I think a lot of people do.



COATES: Now, I'm going to admit that I am skeptical about Trump being contrite. I mean, do you recall him apologizing? Ever? Me either, which is exactly the reason why I find it odd that you wouldn't remember something like that, particularly an event that followed an attack, on the Capitol.

So, my question is, and I'm sure, yours is, as well, what exactly did he say? I want the words. And the committee does as well.

And I also want to mention that point about, a lot of people bearing responsibility? Well, who, pray tell, are you talking about? These might be things that a committee would want to know, just like you.

And receipt number two, this was the GOP leader, on the day of the impeachment vote, in the House.


MCCARTHY: The President bears responsibility, for Wednesday's attack, on Congress, by mob rioters.


COATES: So, not only did he say that Trump bore responsibility. He said publicly, the day before, that Trump admitted that he bore some of that responsibility. Now, just try to - try to wrap your head, around that.

But wait, as they say, there's more. Receipt number three. Here's another portion of that radio interview, from a week, after the Insurrection that CNN's KFILE team dug up.


MCCARTHY: Look, I spoke to the President, during the riot. I was the first person to call him. I told him to go on national TV, tell these people to stop it. He said he didn't know what was happening. We went to the news then and worked through that.


COATES: You were the first person, to call Trump, on January 6, to tell him about an attack? And you urged him to call off the mob? What?

So, Trump wasn't watching the news, before you called him? You alerted him and notified what was happening on the screen? OK. That sounds hard to believe, right? But there's certainly a lot there for the House Select Committee to ask you about.

So, I wonder, why did you say this, yesterday?


MCCARTHY: My conversation was very short, advising the President of what was happening here.

There is nothing that I can provide the January 6 committee for legislation of them moving forward.


COATES: First, note the pregnant pauses, right? "I spoke to him." Pause. "Nothing I could actually provide to the committee."

I want what's actually right here, this part, the pregnant pause part, because does that sound like a man, who has nothing to offer the committee, who, by the way, shouldn't they be in the position, to let you know what they actually want to hear about?

I know, that's how investigations work. You don't say, "You know? Actually, officer, I don't think I have anything to tell you. I'll let you know. I'll let you know."

The self-proclaimed first person, to call the then-President, after the attack, broke out? Trump later admitted he had a role in it or bore some sort of responsibility? That's a lot to digest, on a Friday, or any day. So, I want to just do a little recap, to run through this timeline of all of this, so we're all on the same page, following along this long, like CVS-size receipt, at this point that keeps going and going and going.

So first, McCarthy claims that he spoke to Trump, as the attack was unfolding, on January 6. OK. He claims he was the first person to call him, to tell him, to call off the mob. Oh, and by the way, Trump had no idea perhaps that it was actually happening?

Then five days later, on January 11, McCarthy said he spoke to Trump again, and said, that Trump admitted to him that he bore some blame?

And then two days later, January 13, the day I might add, of the impeachment vote, for Trump's alleged incitement, of the very thing that McCarthy says, he said, he admitted to bearing some blame, or responsibility for? McCarthy said point-blank that Trump bears responsibility, and he should have immediately denounced the mob, when he saw what was unfolding. And he also said that Congress should form a commission to investigate.

Now, I'm just going to go out, on a limb here, and think that it's probably safe to say that after all of that, looking through those receipts, McCarthy was probably in the doghouse, with Trump. And whatever bromance politically existed? He was probably on the couch.

So after that, zoom ahead, two weeks, to January 28, after Trump was then gone from office. The House GOP leader then flies down - there they are, flies down to Mar-a-Lago, to have a little chitchat. And voila! His whole position, on January 6, noticeably shifts, after that.


Now, I just want you to fast-forward to the day before yesterday, that's Wednesday, on this Friday night, when he asked to voluntarily provide information, when he was asked, to voluntarily provide information, to the panel. And what did he say? Nope!

So, the question is, what are they going to do about it? With all these receipts and questions, still lingering, and skepticism, frankly, at the forefront of a non-amnesia mind?

Let's put the question to a January 6 committee member, Congressman Pete Aguilar, Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

Thank you for being here, Congressman. It's nice to see you, on this Friday evening.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Good to see you, Laura.

COATES: Now, I've just provided some receipts, and context, for the viewing audience, who was following along, thinking about all the moments and head-scratching things.

And I just wonder, given all of this, the committee has asked Kevin McCarthy, to voluntarily provide information. And I'm just wondering, why is this courtesy being extended? Is it because he's a colleague? I would probably assume so.

But is there another strategy, or reason, as to why not just going to the subpoena, and then still handling it in a professional way?

AGUILAR: Well, as you mentioned, look, we just want to get to the truth.

And we think that this is - we think that our colleagues, who take the same oath, to the Constitution, that we do, we think that they would want to help us, get to the truth, on why mob rioters, Kevin McCarthy's own words, entered into the Capitol, and why, the President, just stood there, in his study, public reporting indicates, watching TV, while Kevin McCarthy and who knows who else called him?

Those are questions that we want answered. And it's important that the public knows those. Why didn't the President, the then-President, walk 25 feet, to the press room, to tell those folks, not to be at the Capitol? Those are important questions.

And what we are asking is any member of Congress, including Leader McCarthy, including someone, who says that they're a leader, should want to give us that information. They should want to protect the Capitol building and the Constitution.

COATES: I understand that. And I agree. I mean, that's one of the - probably, the incredulous parts, for so many Americans, watching, when you see such resistance from members of Congress.

I mean, I was not in the Capitol that day. Many Americans, most Americans, were not there. And yet, we felt the personal affront, of the Citadel, being attacked, nonetheless. So, we're all scratching our heads as to why.

And I get that you want to attract more bees with honey. But, given the gravitas, given the need, to get those answers, why not just draw a straight line, from A to B, and say, "All right, we tried now to ask you. You don't want to do it."

Is the next step then, to actually subpoena? Because, unfortunately, there's a Sword of Damocles, over your head, with the potential, for the subpoena power, not being effective, in the long run, if you're not in the majority, any longer.

AGUILAR: Well, Chairman Thompson has said that we're not taking any tools out of the - out of the tool belt. We're not taking them off the table yet.

So, we will continue to have discussions. We will weigh the options and the equities of the decisions that we want to make. If our colleagues choose not to participate, that's something that we'll have to weigh, and consider, moving forward.

But I will just say broadly, look, for every Kevin McCarthy, or Scott Perry, or these individuals, who aren't talking to us, there are dozens of individuals who are. We've had almost 400 interviews, so far. We continue to piece this puzzle together, and to make significant investigative progress.

COATES: That's really good to hear, and reassuring, because the American public does deserve the transparency. And, of course, members of Congress should obviously endeavor, to provide that.

Part of the people, who have cooperated? And I'm glad to think about the voluntary compliance.

But of those members, who have chosen not to? It's notable that those three congressmen, I'm talking about, Perry, and Jordan, and McCarthy, they haven't given you a privilege-based reason, really, as to why, just talking about, the close, as you can get, is the idea of this request "Violates core constitutional principles."

What do you make of that excuse? Is it pretextual? Is it essentially fishing and just hoping that you will run out the clock?

AGUILAR: It's just political. When you think of the cast characters that we're talking to here? These are folks, who are going to do the President's - the former President's bidding. And so, I don't think we're surprised by it.

We're hopeful that they would be bound to the Constitution, and to the rule of law, and to the truth, and to understand that this was a legitimate select committee that was stood up in Congress, just like other select committees in Congress have.

But if they choose to go down that path, we will deal with it.


AGUILAR: We have other tools that we can use. And so, we will weigh those equities, and move forward.


COATES: Well, I hope that toolbox is as transparent. Because, talking about hope, I guess, the American people, when it comes to democracy, keep hope alive.

Congressman Pete Aguilar, thank you for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

AGUILAR: Thank you.

COATES: Well there are two simultaneous investigations, we're talking about. The one on the congressional side, they're trying to get to the bottom, of who may be, well, at the top, of this alleged seditious conspiracy.

There's the congressional one, we talked to Congressman Aguilar about, you all know very well, and the criminal side. So, let's take it to someone, who can help analyze, where both are headed.

A former Acting Assistant Attorney General, who now represents the January 6 committee, in a suit, brought by Trump. That's up, next.


COATES: So, we've all seen the video of last January 6. You might think, "God I can't imagine having this happen!" And it really did.


But when you read the words of the people, who are now charged with seditious conspiracy, you now see, where the investigation, might be heading, next.

Like, when they say, quote, "We have been issued a call to action for D.C." Or when one of the few names, missing in the DOJ documents, is that of an unknown "Operation leader." Well, at this point, the key question is, like, it so often is, exactly who ordered the Code Red? I can't help myself by bringing that in.

And we're all going to be better, if we're hearing from the Georgetown Law Professor, Mary McCord, who we should mention, is representing the House Select Committee, in the lawsuit, over the former President's claim of executive privilege. We worked together, at the Department of Justice, as well.

It's good to see you, Mary. How are you?


COATES: You know, it's unfortunate, to think that we're here, right now, because, in the greater picture of things - and I know, we won't talk about the specifics of the case, you're representing, in talking about these issues.

But in the grand scheme of thing, what does it tell you, Mary, to know that seditious conspiracy is the next direction? I mean, these are kind of analogous to cases, where you've got the minions carrying things out, maybe drug pushers. And then you've got the kingpins, who are actually directing traffic. Is that where we're going?

MCCORD: Well, I think, ever since January 6, I have been wondering, whether this is a charge that would be returned, because, it seems to fit, so completely, with the actions that we saw, and the preparation, and the organization, and the conspiracy, to commit this attack on the Capitol, in order to prevent, and delay, the counting of the Electoral College votes.

So, I think what this shows is, it takes time, to build that case, just as the Attorney General said last week.

And just as you and I know, from our previous experience, as prosecutors, you do start with the most readily-provable cases, the people on the ground, who are on videos, committing the attack. And then, you work your way from there. And investigators pull evidence. They pull phone records. They pull digital media. They see, where the connections are.

And here, of course, the speaking indictment shows us the many, many communications, organizing specific logistical details, about the attack. And it takes a while to build up. But the Department has now built that case.

COATES: You mentioned the idea, that concept of low-hanging fruit, right?

And part of the reason that that is, I'm sure, of concern, of looking around, in a case like this, charges like this, not brought very often, and frankly, with good cause? We're comforted that this is not a readily-available or widely-used thing, because it would require conspiracy and sedition charges to be filed.

But the idea here, of trying to build that case, I wonder, if you can reflect, Mary, on what you think the considerations, were?

Is it about - of course, there was a case, a few years ago, out of Michigan, where the charges were not able to stick? Because the evidence was about conversations. They thought the First Amendment applied. I'm talking about, in Michigan.

Is the concern about, look, if it didn't stick there, even if we've got the low-hanging fruit, we're going to have to go to the root, and have enough substantive tree trunk, to really make this stick?

MCCORD: Yes, so the Department, will not bring a case, unless it believes it has admissible evidence, enough to prove its every element of a charge, beyond a reasonable doubt.

And in cases of seditious conspiracy, the Department proceeds with caution, because the very nature of the crime, necessarily means you're going to be relying, on communications, to determine whether a conspiracy existed.

And there is an inherently political nature, to the charge of seditious conspiracy, which means that there will sometimes be a First Amendment defense.

And in that Michigan case, you're talking about, from back in 2010 that involved the Hutaree militia, the judge there, determined that this was really just braggadocio, really just the members of that alleged conspiracy, just talking about their goals, and their ideologies, but not - the judge was not convinced that they really intended to carry out their attacks.

What's very different about this case is they did carry out the attacks, right? We don't have an inchoate crime, which is a crime that never got past that planning stage. Conspiracy exists as a charge, so that the government can, when it finds out about it, thwart an attack, before it happens, and still have a criminal charge of conspiracy.

But here, we don't have to wonder whether this was just fantasy, whether this was just braggadocio. They actually committed that attack. And we see that on the video.

Now, not every person charged, was on that video. But their communications show the planning, the logistical details, down to things, you were talking about, at the top of the hour.


Where the guns would be stored, just outside of Washington, D.C., with a Quick Reaction Force that could be transported into the city, quickly, including, in one of the allegations, by boat, as needed.

COATES: Right.

MCCORD: And on and on and on, details about where to meet, and who would be where, and who would be carrying what, where they would be staying. That's not fantasy. That is detailed planning. And then, of course, we can all see with our own eyes, on videos, it then took place.

COATES: We absolutely can. And their own words have been used, as we talk about, Mary. And the idea of - the idea of, you've mentioned the inherently political nature, not to suggest, of course, that this is a partisan endeavor, but just the idea of having to overcome, the hurdles, of the perception, of this.

And you have, as you methodically laid out there, think of all the things that are showing, and demonstrating. It wasn't just talk. It wasn't just chest-beating. We saw it with our own eyes, over a period of hours.

Mary McCord, thank you for your time. Nice talking to you.

MCCORD: Nice being here, Laura. Thank you.

COATES: Talking about braggadocios, or maybe a little bit of chest- beating, the world's number one men's tennis player, Novak Djokovic, well, he's been detained again tonight, as he awaits his fate.

So, will he play in the Australian Open, on Monday, or is he going to get booted out of Australia, before the weekend, is even out?

Patrick McEnroe, is here, to look at tonight's developments, and the tennis' world reaction, to this extraordinary legal saga, unfolding. That's next.



COATES: So, as you know, tennis fans, around the entire world, are anxiously waiting, to see whether Novak Djokovic, will be playing, in the Australian Open, after all. But the 34-year-old tennis star likely has his focus, well, on a different court, right now.

Djokovic is being detained, by Australian authorities, as he awaits a hearing. You've got immigration officials, who've revoked his visa, for now, a second time, because he hasn't gotten the COVID vaccine, which is required, apparently, to play. And he also is accused, of providing false information, on his visa.

He's appealing the decision. And a hearing is expected tomorrow. But if his appeal fails, he could be deported, and even barred, from even entering the country, again.

Let's discuss now, with a new member, of the CNN family, CNN Contributor and former professional tennis player, Patrick McEnroe.

Good to see you, Patrick. I'm glad, especially, to have you on a night like this. How are you doing?

PATRICK MCENROE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER, HOST, "HOLDING COURT" PODCAST, ESPN TENNIS COMMENTATOR: I'm doing well. Thanks for mentioning that. I'm very proud to be joining the team. So, thank you, and thanks for having me.

COATES: Well, I'm glad you're here because you can help us, especially, break down not only what's happening, but what the reaction really is, to this.

Because, we're days away from the Australian Open. It's no secret he is the number one men's tennis player. But I'm wondering, with all of the hoopla, all the conversation? He hasn't been practicing either. He's waiting to have a hearing.

What is the reaction, from other tennis players, who are already in the Open, and did follow the rules?

MCENROE: Well, quite frankly, Laura, the rest of the players are getting a little bit fed up, with this whole Novak saga that's continued, for the last week. They've had enough.

We've heard from multiple players, over the last couple of days that they want to get on, with the tournament.

Novak made his decision, as Rafael Nadal said, to not get vaccinated, a long time ago. And he knew that this was coming down the road, meaning, these rules in Australia. And so, he's suffering the consequences now.

But, you said something, Laura, that was very interesting, and the two points you made, as to why potentially the government's trying to deport him.

But here's the problem with the case. And I know you're a lawyer, so you could probably help me out with this. That they're not actually arguing, the government, that this is the reason they're trying to deport him, from the country.

And I'm going to read this note, because I want to make sure, I get it right, since I'm talking to the lawyer.

The government is essentially are going to argue in court, that Djokovic should be deported from Australia, because, and I'm quoting now, he may risk lives and civil order by eroding regard for COVID rules and vaccinations.

Now, I'm sorry, Laura. I'm not a lawyer. But are you kidding me? That's the reason they want to deport him? They have multiple other avenues, they could go down.

And all Novak Djokovic has to do, from my understanding, of the legality of this situation, is present, that he has a serious case to be tried, and that he could get a temporary injunction. That's all he needs.

And it sounds pretty likely that he's going to get that. And that means he's going to be able to stay, and he's going to be able to play, in the Australian Open.

COATES: What's interesting about that - and I don't pretend to be a barrister, from the Australian courts and lawyers.

But I can tell you, from a perspective of what we're looking at, it sounds like the argument is that they're trying to stop this perception of an anti-vaxxer. And of course, there's going to be the pushback from that.

And if you have a legitimate reason, as you articulate, if there's a legitimate reason that somebody has not followed the rules that were set for everyone else, I mean, you have to actually do what you're supposed to do? If you offer this sort of public policy-based argument, then you're going to have the perception in the public that you are trying to push a particular agenda.

But I will say that agenda, in where we are right now, the idea of not wanting to risk people's lives, or perpetuate, say, infection, as opposed to the viewpoint, I mean, that is actually a legitimate basis, by which they've held every other person, going into Australia.

And so, the question from me, and from the public, oftentimes is, is it right that this athlete, in particular, even though he's a star, or maybe because he's a star, is getting this sort of separate treatment, and consideration? Or is it in line with what other players did?

There was a woman, who had to leave Australia, who was supposed to play in the Open, right? And she didn't get the same attention and consideration.

MCENROE: No, she certainly did not. Her name was Renata Voracova, from the Czech Republic. She's already back in her home country.


In fact, four Police officers came to her hotel, when she was taking a swim in the pool, and escorted her, essentially out of the country. She didn't have the wherewithal to hire the legal team that Novak Djokovic has.

And, by the way, Laura, I'll point out to you, and to the viewers out there, if Novak Djokovic actually plays, in the Australian Open, he'll be the only unvaccinated player, in either draw, male or female. So, that's got the whole Australian public in an uproar.

But it's become just a political firestorm in Australia. There's so much going on, behind-the-scenes, politically that's playing into this decision.

But, from a legal standpoint, it sounds like Novak Djokovic is going to be able to get that temporary injunction, get out of one court, and get on to the other court, which he's dominated for many years.

COATES: Something tells me that in an otherwise and normally silent tennis match, he might hear a lot of boos, if he actually does take that position.

But, I got to tell you, Patrick, you can't very well complain about the circus, if you're a seal, with a bouncing ball, on your nose. He's brought a lot of this on himself, in fact, everything, about this notion, as Nadal has talked about.

Patrick McEnroe, nice talking to you. I knew you'd be the right person to have the conversation with.

MCENROE: Thanks a lot, Laura.

COATES: Well, the question again, talking about the rules, and who has to follow them, and who doesn't? Forget tennis for a second. Let's talk about the Supreme Court. Because the question now is who gets to ignore the United States Supreme Court?

Well, Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, seem to think that well he can. How he's vowing to fight the one smaller part, of the Biden vaccine mandate, the justices did keep in place, and why hospitals could suffer. That's next.



COATES: So, two of America's most high-profile governors, are now going, well, head-to-head, after Florida Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, made this declaration, in his State of the State Address.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Together, we have made Florida, the freest state in these United States.


DESANTIS: Florida has become the escape hatch for those chafing under authoritarian, arbitrary and seemingly never-ending mandates and restrictions.


COATES: That prompted, California's Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, to respond. This, in an interview, with "Yahoo! News," he said, "Is DeSantis referring reflexively to himself? With respect, we'd have 40,000 more Californians dead if we took his approach, arguably even more, with the density and population of this state. And it" wouldn't have been - "would have been much, much worse in Florida, if they didn't get the blowback from all the local folks."

And just the way DeSantis fought mask and vaccine mandates, by threatening businesses, and cities, and schools, with fines, he's doing the same, now, this time, with hospitals. Even though, as you recall, the Supreme Court, just yesterday, ruled that President Biden's vaccine mandate, on some health care workers, could actually stand.

Joining me now, to discuss, is fellow legal mind, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, good to talk to you tonight. I got to ask you this question. I think the concern, perhaps was with Texas, that people would look at the idea, of ignoring Supreme Court precedent, and say, "That's going to be confined to that particular space."

This is the different type of blueprint that we didn't expect. Or did you?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN HEIRESS": Well, good evening, Counselor. It is - well it remains to be seen somewhat what exactly DeSantis plans to do.

I noticed something interesting about what his press secretary said today. The press secretary said, "I will not," or "We, Florida, will not enforce the ban" that Biden has insisted, on hospitals.

"Enforce" was an interesting word, because Florida doesn't have to enforce that. That's a rule from Medicare and Medicaid.

COATES: Right.

TOOBIN: Medicare and Medicaid are saying "We will not pay you, hospital, if you allow people, who are unvaccinated, to work in your hospital," in dealing with patients.

Florida has nothing to do with that. That is a transaction between Florida - between the federal government and the health care providers. So, DeSantis--

COATES: And, I mean, Jeff, for that reason, I mean, it feels a lot like sort of if you saw someone to get out, and they say, "I wanted to leave anyway." You don't really have the power here, right? I mean, they have no ability--


COATES: --to enforce, because the power of the purse, is already very, very closely held by Congress, Medicare, the ability to do so.

So, is it just the whole point, then, Jeffrey, if you're saying, "I won't enforce it?" Well, you couldn't anyway. It's just bravado!

TOOBIN: Well, that's right. Although the question is, he has - they have threatened fines, on businesses, and certain institutions that insist on mandates, internally. And the question is, will they try to find the hospitals that comply with the federal government? That would create a direct conflict.

But I think Florida loses in that case. Because, the law seems pretty clear that, he who pays the piper calls the tune. If the federal government can insist that if you take their money, you better wear - you better have a mask mandate? I don't think Florida has any right to interfere with that. I think it's the preemption area of the law. It's the federal supremacy.

So, I think this is a lot of showmanship from DeSantis. But I don't think he can do anything about this.


COATES: And on those two elements, I mean, the preemption, the Supremacy Clause, all ways of essentially saying, "Look, if there is a perception of being caught between a rock and a hard place, between the federal government, and the state governments? We already win, if it's the federal government. We already have the ability to say we trump it, in these respects, provided that you have the authority to do so." And you do here.

So, if that's the case, and I do wonder about this, if that's the case, what does this say about them, essentially ignoring the Supreme Court ruling, even publicly trying to pretend they can?

Because, I remember a time, and I guess I'm old enough, and well, Jeffrey Toobin, I'm also young enough, to remember a time when Supreme Court precedent, actually meant you didn't mess with the Supreme Court.

But I'm thinking back, just months ago, when you could thumb your nose, and say--

TOOBIN: Yes, that's correct.

COATES: --"Oh, I guess Roe v. Wade was optional to follow along."

So, I mean, this is a case where, has the Supreme Court, in its own behavior, essentially invited people, to challenge, at least on a public level, the respect that normally is given to their authority, as they say?

TOOBIN: Well, I do think the court has become such a deeply- politicized institution. I know the justices hate it, when we always point out that there are six Republican, and three Democratic appointees.

But when you look at how often they split, on that basis, in major cases? Interestingly, the Medicare mandate case was not won. You had a Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh sided with the Democrats there.

But, by and large, it is a deeply politicized institution in high- profile cases. And I think that does tend to affect the - its reputation.

Also, I mean, DeSantis is now running for president, 24 hours a day. And he's running to win the Fox News primary.

And in the Fox News primary, the more you can be, against vaccine mandates, the more you can be against testing, the more you can be against masks, the more attention you'll get. And that seems to be how he's playing.

COATES: Well, yes.

TOOBIN: As Governor Newsom pointed out, that may be costing people in Florida, their lives. But that appears to be a calculus that Fox News and DeSantis seem to be worth taking.


COATES: I mean, it is worth pointing out too, I mean, there is an element of richness, to hear Governor Newsom, talk about people following the protocols, when he himself was almost recalled, for failing to do so, and admitted to such. But let's give someone a clean slate. It's a New Year!

And Happy New Year to you, Jeffrey Toobin.

TOOBIN: To you as well, Counselor.

COATES: We'll be right back.

And it's like it - but I want to say, the battles, we see playing out, right now, well, they may feel unprecedented, given all of our talk, about precedents. But many really aren't so new. That's why we need to take a step back, and think about the larger issues that demand action.

And I'll make my case, next.



COATES: It's been one heck of a week! A week that began, with people refusing, to attend President Biden's powerful speech, on voting rights, because they feared it might be an example of a Johnny-come- lately, using them, as a photo-op. We heard the complaints. And well, they registered.

And even when voting rights activists, found themselves, pleasantly surprised, by the speech, they still asked, "What took so long?" We heard that same question, asked again, when it came to the Department of Justice. More than a year after the Insurrection, and a year to the date, of a second presidential impeachment, we saw sedition charges, filed against 11 people, including the leader of the Oath Keepers.

But the charges, they didn't target a former president, or his inner circle. So, people still asked, "Does this mean that there will be equal prosecution of the laws?" That question was asked of GOP members, in Congress, who refused to cooperate with their own colleagues' request for information.

And we saw an emerging Republican midterm election campaign platform that seems to prioritize retaliation over legislation. Apparently, tit for tat is the New Black!

And, in a different chamber, we saw Republican Senator Mitch McConnell reduce a call for voting rights, to a "Rant," and that apparently the traditions at the Senate were more important than the expectation of democracy. And we asked, "When will the hypocrisy end?"

And this week, we've heard the continued criticism, of the mixed messaging, from the CDC, and in our COVID fatigue, asked incredulously, "You mean, I've done all that you have required of me, and it still feels like I'm sitting here, on square one?" You've heard the questions.

But in a week, where people are frustrated, at every level, about campaign promises, not yet realized, let's talk, for a second, about the people, for whom dreams remain deferred. I'm talking about equity.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: These words, are the basis for the American creed. Equality. Equity. Fairness. Decency.

Equity, is at the core of everything, we do, in urban and rural communities alike.

We have a real chance, to deliver, real equity, across the board.


COATES: It was a campaign promise. Hell, it's a democratic promise!

And if you think you're tired of mixed messagings, and delayed justice, and constitutional hypocrisy? Well, just imagine how millions of Americans of color, and Americans, who comprise the working poor, also feel?

How about the native and indigenous populations? How about people from Seattle, all the way to Appalachia? Now, square one might be a temporary inconvenience for you. But it's the reality, for far too many and, by no fault of their own.


Because, long before, there was frustration, over a delayed voting speech? There's been frustration about waiting in vain to be treated like you count.

Long before, there were questions about congressional hypocrisy? James Baldwin told you "I can't believe what you say, because I see what you do."

Long before, there was a question about whether a Senate rule should be upheld? Voters had been waiting for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to be honored, restored, and fortified, by the very legislative body that wrote it.

And long before, there was irritation, about the inability, to find masks, or COVID tests? Far too many people have been tested by economic inequality, denied intergenerational wealth, and can't find a way, to make ends meet, on a shoestring budget that splits every way, but solvent.

Now, as important as each of our collective complaints, have been, this week, and they are important, I hope we realize the luxury that we have, to focus on the big-picture issues, like it's a Georges Seurat painting, and not bother to examine the individual dots, let alone connect them.

So, listen? You are entitled to be frustrated. But be productive. Be impatient. But be vigilant. Be opinionated. But please stay informed.

I rest my case.