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CNN TONIGHT: U.S.: Russia Adds Additional 7,000 Troops To Ukraine Border Despite Claims Of Pullback; Prosecution Presents Evidence Of Racist Text Messages In Federal Hate Crimes Trial For Arbery's Killers; Police Handling Of Black NJ Teen Sparks Outrage. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 16, 2022 - 21:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The news continues. So, let's hand it over to Laura Coates, and "CNN TONIGHT."


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: And thank you so much.

I am Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

There is what Russia says, and then there is what Russia does, according to the White House. And tonight, there are new assessments from high up that Putin is trying to play the West for fools.

According to a senior U.S. official, there is, quote, "Every indication," unquote, that Russia is privately mobilizing for war, while of course publicly offering to talk.

This official tells CNN, the Russian claims of pulling forces back, from Ukraine and de-escalating, well, they're all false, they say, when in fact, Putin's amassed approximately 7,000 more troops, at Ukraine's borders, in just recent days.

These new build-up estimates would now place the number of Russian forces that are circling around Ukraine at around 157,000. President Biden cited 150,000 estimates, just yesterday, in his televised address.

So, all those videos, put out by Russia's Ministry of Defense, of tanks leaving Crimea, and elsewhere, all that talk, of troops, allegedly, returning to home bases? I got to ask was that part of a choreograph scheme, by the Kremlin, to make it look like Moscow is de- escalating, when in fact, it's doing the opposite?

Because there are new satellite images that show a new bridge being built across a key river in Belarus, less than four miles, I might add, from the Ukrainian border, along with a new road construction. Sources believe the roads and bridge could be used by Russian forces currently, in Belarus, to drive to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Belarus is Russia's closest international ally, in the standoff.

The senior Biden administration official warns to expect more false reports, from Russia state media, over the few coming days. And also, to watch out, for Putin's public openness to diplomacy, because this official suggests that it's all perhaps a guise. But they do say, the U.S. will still continue to pursue diplomacy, over the coming days.

So, what kind of game exactly might Putin be playing? Does he realize, of course, this is the age of satellite technology, where cameras, and the world, are watching, and someone could be on to it? Or does he even care? Frankly, there are a lot of unanswered questions.

It's impossible, as you know, to assess what exactly Putin wants. But both NATO and President Biden say the U.S. and Allies are prepared. And part of that preparation is NATO, increasing its presence, in Eastern Europe, to bolster allies that are neighboring Ukraine, and, of course, with the help of U.S. forces.

More are arriving in Poland. And that's where our Nick Paton Walsh is tonight, near that very border, with Ukraine.

Nick, I'm glad you're there. What are you seeing on the ground? And really, my first question, above all else, is it happening? Or isn't it? There is the sort of Tale of Two Countries, and what's being told. What are you seeing?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Well, certainly, in terms of what the signals are, of what's been happening, around Ukraine, on its eastern flank, where Russian troops are, it is very hard to define precisely, whether we're beginning to see, a de- escalation, or as we heard very emphatically, from the White House, from the U.S. Secretary of State, from U.K. officials, from the NATO Secretary General, that we are in fact seeing a slow continued mobilization.

You mentioned the figures there, rising by 7,000, up from the 150,000, President Joe Biden, mentioned yesterday. It may be that it takes a number of days for President Putin's suggestion of withdrawal, to come into effect.

But you have to remember, over the past 10 years, 20 years, we've seen in other conflicts, Russia talking piece, while advancing its Military position, on the ground. That may be what we're seeing here. And it's consistent with the Russian idea of kind of maskirovka, of hiding, what your true intentions, are.


Here, though, in Poland, on the other western side of Ukraine, today, at the airport, not far from where I'm standing, in Rzeszow, we saw hundreds of U.S. troops coming in, from the 82nd Airborne, from Fort Bragg, large passenger aircraft, Blackhawks in accompaniment too, Cessna light aircraft, it seemed, bring in some of the top brass, trucks, pallets, a lot of equipment being moved in.

This is no small measure, we're seeing here. It is essentially, we're told, adjusting case measure, in case they are required to help U.S. citizens, inside of Ukraine, get out of that country, if there is a conflict.

But you can see resources here that seem to suggest the potential for a wider mission as well. We saw a tent encampment, where the 82nd were essentially going to live, but also nearby, larger white tents being erected too, perhaps for some more extensive operation here.

This is not symbolic. Clearly, the strength of forces here shows they feel they may have to actually do something, at some point, in the weeks ahead, although I'm sure the abiding sentiment is they'd much rather find themselves bored, and cold, on the canvas here, doing little.


PATON WALSH: But it is stark, frankly, Laura, to having seen, over the years, NATO practicing drills, Military maneuvers like this, because of their concerns on the eastern flank, since Russia moved into Crimea, in 2014. To see it now actually occur--

COATES: Well it's--

PATON WALSH: --in reality, on the ground here, because of a perceived actual threat, startling in Europe, 2022, Laura.

COATES: Absolutely. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much, for your excellent reporting, as always.

And, as he said, I mean, there's news of yet another 7,000 Russian troops that are arriving at the Ukrainian border. And this comes as a Ukrainian Intelligence report, obtained exclusively by CNN, says the number of Russian forces remain still insufficient, for a full-scale invasion.

Let's discuss now the Military options that Vladimir Putin has, with retired Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis.

Colonel, welcome. I'm so glad that you're here, to help us try to understand this.

And the initial question, of course, for everyone, as Nick was talking about, look, is Putin the great provocateur? Or is this gamesmanship, it puts us all at the brink?

LT. COL. DANIEL DAVIS, U.S. ARMY (RET.), SENIOR FELLOW AND MILITARY EXPERT, DEFENSE PRIORITIES: Yes. Without question, it's gamesmanship. But with very decidedly deadly potential consequences.

And look, there's something we got to understand, right up front. It is the stone-cold reality that everybody needs to come to grips with, especially in Washington. And that is that Ukraine does not matter to American national security but avoiding nuclear war with Russia does.

And that's the reason why you've seen President Biden, absolutely take off the table, there's no possibility, he's going to send U.S. troops in, to fight Russia, on behalf of Ukraine. NATO has said that they're not going to. So, it's clear that if there's an invasion, Ukraine is on their own.

Now, if we understand that, then we have to come to ask the question, if Ukraine membership, in NATO, is what's absolutely driving Putin? And it is. He's been saying that literally, since 2007.

Then, we have to just say, why should we keep saying the door's going to be open, when we are never going to allow Ukraine in NATO? There's no way they would come in. We don't even want them in.

COATES: But isn't--

DAVIS: So, let's don't keep that door open, if it's going to get Ukraine invaded.

COATES: I understand that. But isn't that part of the gamesmanship that Putin may be playing, right?

The idea that if Ukraine is always perceived, as a permanent liability, where it triggers the affirmative obligation, to then act in support, as if they're NATO ally, then it's in Putin's interest, to continue the gamesmanship, to put the constant threat, as a Sword of Damocles, over them?

But is that part of the thought here? Or is it also equal parts, perhaps emotional? I mean, we can't always read into the tea leaves. But is Putin saying "No, the reason is also Ukraine, should belong to me."

DAVIS: Well, he actually doesn't want to it to belong to him.

He just wants to make sure it doesn't belong to NATO, which is why, just a couple of days ago, when the Ukrainian Ambassador, just floated the idea that "Well, maybe we should take our request for NATO off the table," and then Zelenskyy actually echoed it, at some number of hours later? The Kremlin immediately jumped on that, and said, "Yes, that is a great idea. That could definitely de-escalate things. And something we would like to proceed and talk about."

COATES: Let me ask you, though, on de-escalation, how are we supposed to know? I mean, I know, not me sitting here, and you sitting here, at this table. But is there some sort of warning, and the idea of how will the United States know that we are no longer in the reactive?

Are we sitting ducks, waiting for every sort of chess piece, to be made, by Putin? Are we going to have some understanding of, do they have everything in place, to accomplish this? I mean, the troop number's still very substantial. Is it enough?

DAVIS: Yes. I'm telling you, as one, who has engaged, in direct combat, with tanks and armored vehicles, they absolutely have enough combat power, to slash Ukraine in half, and do whatever they want to--

COATES: Really? DAVIS: --especially in the eastern part. There's no doubt. It is, and of course, it's growing by the day. So, we have to take these dispositions very seriously.

And, to your point, earlier, about, is he - is Putin saying one thing, but then he's doing another?

COATES: Right.

DAVIS: We have to look at what he's doing. Forget about what he said. We have to look at the top of forces, their physical location, and the fact that they are ready for action.


And I have been in that situation before. And once you get ready for action, it's hard to pull it back down, which is why we need to de- escalate the situation, and just acknowledge reality, and take NATO membership, off the table, for Ukraine.

COATES: But let me ask. I mean, at what cost, to Russia? I mean, the idea of being able to accomplish, as you say, turn it in half? It feels as though you're talking about perhaps a maybe of a Kamikaze type of situation here.

Do they have the ability to pull it off, and at no great risk or cost to Russia? Because obviously, I'm sure Putin is thinking about the ability to do it, versus what cost it would be, in the long run. And, of course, we know that we have American troops, at least, in position, to actually bolster the NATO allies.

So, what is the cost to Russia, if they do, do this?

DAVIS: Yes, well, I'm telling you, all these troops that are in Poland, and elsewhere, Russia is not even threatening to do anything into NATO.

COATES: Right.

DAVIS: So, those troops have no impact, on Putin's calculation here. They're literally inconsequential.

But the other thing that we like to talk about, is all these catastrophic sanctions, and everything else, so this pain it would cause. Well, the problem is, that's a double-edged sword.

And I can assure you, there's many countries in Europe, Germany being one of the leading ones that are not excited about that, because it will harm their economy. I mean, 50 percent of their daily gas supplies come from Russia.

And if Russia decides to turn it off, because they get sanctioned, what's Germany going to do? It's going to just decimate their economic output, because they literally won't have enough gas, to keep the electricity on. So, we have to be careful that we don't hurt our own self over something that we're never going to do anyway. We are never going to bring Ukraine into NATO.

COATES: So, in that respect, I mean, the fact that you heard just yesterday, I mean, President Biden was speaking, but he was speaking as Commander-in-Chief, at this point in time, also top diplomat, in many respects.

Is the White House doing what they need to do, taking consideration what you've just articulated, the idea of it being a fool's errand, to have them enter into NATO? Are they doing enough, for the right course of action?

DAVIS: Right, I don't think so. I think that we are stuck in a Cold War mentality, where we get to call all the shots, as we have, since 1991. And the balance of power has now come back to something near equilibrium.

We don't have the luxury to just tell Russia what we're going to do anymore. And if we keep trying to push that line, we're going to get Ukraine invaded, unnecessarily, because this can be pulled down, and not even happen, or at least a good chance for it not to happen.

But if we press forward this, and just say, "No, we're not going to let Putin tell us what to do," most likely, Ukraine is going to pay in blood, for that decision.

COATES: I mean, this can never be just about chest-beating, right? This can't be about bravado. There's so many things at stake.

DAVIS: It shouldn't be.

COATES: And it's really, really be a humanity - it shouldn't be, right? But we also know the history of the world.

DAVIS: We do.

COATES: Thank you so much, Lieutenant Colonel. Nice talking to you.

DAVIS: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

COATES: And I'm glad that you were here.

Up ahead, prosecutors presented new evidence today, in the federal hate crimes trial, for the killers of Ahmaud Arbery, the Black man trapped and murdered, while just jogging, in Georgia.

Key evidence, past racist text messages, and social media posts. But will a jury connect the dots, in a way, in any way, to Arbery's murder?

We'll show you what some of what the prosecution unearthed, up next.



COATES: Federal prosecutors finding more damning evidence, today, to show that the three White men, who killed Ahmaud Arbery, did so because of racial animus. An FBI intelligence analyst led the jury, through a litany, and I do mean a litany, of racist text messages, and social media posts, particularly, from two of them.

And honestly, I'm going to be honest here, it's too sickening to read all of them, and the vitriol. But this is just a sliver, so you can understand what the jury is hearing.

In one text message, by Travis McMichael - remember, he's the one, who actually shot Ahmaud Arbery.

In a text, he sent to a friend, on why he liked his new job? He said, it was because he didn't work with Black people. Quote, "They ruin everything. That's why I love what I do now. Not a" N-word "in sight," unquote.

In another instance, he responded to a video, where a Black man put barbecue sauce, on a White man's head, as a prank, responding, "I'd kill that" effing N-word.

He repeatedly described Black people as monkeys, and savages, and even commented, under a video, of Black Lives Matter protests that he wished for a semi-automatic gun, to shoot them.

Meanwhile, his daddy shared racist memes, claiming in one of them that White Irish slaves were treated worse than any other race in the U.S., but that they aren't asking for handouts.

Their accomplice, William "Roddie" Bryan, the neighbor, you remember, he regularly used slurs, and mocked Martin Luther King Day, at one point referencing it as a "Monkey parade."

I want to bring in CNN Legal Analyst, Joey Jackson. And I do repeat that was but a sliver.

Joey, in the grand endeavor, to pursue justice, in the form of a hate crime, they're off to a heck of a start, from the prosecution. Do you think so?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, without question, Laura. Always good to see you, and being with you.

Look, the bottom line here is that I know that you have to make the connection, right?


JACKSON: Between the prior comments, and statements, and beliefs, and values, of the defendants, to this particular case. But that, to your point, is a pretty good start, when you're talking about the things that you believe.

And so yes, you can make the argument, as the defense is here, Laura, that, "Hey, my clients may have said these things, in the past. They may have espoused all of these values, et cetera. But look the other way, because that's not the basis or reason that they charged, and ran after, and hunted down, and shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery. That had nothing to do with it."


And so, the defense is trying to disconnect the two, and saying that "The defendants had a good-faith belief. They were protecting the neighborhood. They thought Ahmaud Arbery was doing something that was amiss, or illegal. And that ladies and gentlemen was the basis for what they're doing."


JACKSON: But it's hard to make that argument, when you read all the ugly things that you read. When it looks, and sounds, and quacks, like a duck, Laura, what is it? A duck!

COATES: I got to tell you, look, I mean you and I both know, that it all comes down to the strength of the case. Things that might seem extraordinarily the shock and awe for a jury, sometimes, they're the most unpredictable dozen of people, you've ever seen in your life. And they don't always make the connection.

Let's talk about that composition of the jury, though. I think it's important to show the audience, about how it is comprised, and the race of the different jurors that we - as we now know it.

In the state trial, it was 11 White jurors, one Black judge, three Whites were alternates. And, of course, a lot was made about the idea of would they be able to connect the dots, in light of the defense counsel's statement in the homicide.

At the federal trial, you have a more diverse, it seems, jury, at pool here, eight White people, three Blacks, one Hispanic.

In terms of how a jury might receive this information, Joey, what do you think is the way that these prosecutors have to approach this scenario?

Because if you're talking about the element of having to prove the racial animus, it's not enough just to prove, for example, that somebody generally has these viewpoints. They've got to show that it was the reason why they acted.

Well, either or any of these three, take the stand, do you think, in defense of their actions? At least, at the state trial, the shooter did.

JACKSON: Yes. So, excellent points, Laura, right? So, to unpack that, number one, jurors, if you look at the state case, where it was a lot less diverse, what did they do, right? In the Deep South, they convicted.

Now, we know the issues were different. It was not about race. It was about whether they killed Ahmaud Arbery, and whether or not they kidnapped, and confined him, and whether or not they engaged in those activities. Nothing relating to race, right? You could make those inferences.

This case is all about that.

Now, with respect to a composition of the jury? You've tried a lot of cases successfully, as the stellar prosecutor that you were. And you know, just like, I know, from the defense perspective, that you're picking people. And people, you want to be fair-minded, in the people you pick. You want them to be impartial.

And there are some people, who could be African American, who may not espouse the same views of African Americans.

COATES: Right.

JACKSON: There could be White jurists, who are more sympathetic to African Americans, et cetera.

So, you have to evaluate the jury, for who they are, not particularly what they look like. That's why we're here, in the first place, you can argue. But I do think that the defendants have a lot of explaining to do.

When you asked about the issue of will they testify? You have to look and evaluate, "Why did you say those things in the past? And how can we believe as jurors that they're not connected to this case? And why don't they represent who you are?"

And when you look at the father and the son, you know, and I know that you can make reasonable inferences, from the evidence.

No one's born a racist. That is taught behavior. Tell me who you're eating dinner with. Tell me who's raising you. Tell me what they're talking to you about. And I'll tell you who you are, because it's based on who you taught.

So, you can't tell me that the son believes all these things, but the father "Oh, because his cell phone was encrypted, and we don't have that much from him, maybe he believes something else."

And so, I think, at the end of the day, they may very well testify, because they have to tell that jury that "You know what? What I did wasn't based on race. It was based on my good-faith belief that he was doing something to the neighborhood." It's a very tough argument to make, Laura.

COATES: Well, we know that impartiality is supposed to be the driving factor between - behind every juror, the idea of, this is a high profile case. I can't believe that any of the jurors have not heard about this. But can they be impartial in the moment?

And we know, the realities of America, and just human psyche, that impartiality might be infused in a very distinct way. When we're talking about having people bring in views, on race and racism, it has a way of impacting and influencing a jury. And I wonder how this comes out.

And to that point, Joey? I'll leave it at this. That's one of the reason the prosecution has called other people in the neighborhood, to see did anyone else view him as a threat?

One neighbor, I understand, called the non-emergency number, because they didn't perceive him as a threat. And then, three others pursue, hunt and chase him down, and what was said afterwards?

Joey, we got to stay on this story and stay on this trial. It's always great to have you here, in particular.

JACKSON: Yes, it's always good to be with you, Laura.

And I'll just say this, as we close. We're in 2022. And all of the things you started this segment with, with respect to the thoughts and beliefs and values, it's really horrific to see and to think that in this day and age, there are people out there, who believe this, and talk about this, and spread this.

It's just very hard to sit here, as you, I'm sure, and to just digest what was told to that jury. Horrible!

COATES: Not just for me. For everyone, I mean, right? I mean, I - don't you get the feeling? There are moments, when I think my great grandmother, God rest her soul, Josie, I could have these conversations with her, and they'd be evergreen, to what I'm experiencing, right now, and seeing.


And the idea of - even the idea of people chasing somebody, because they're Black, allegedly, because he committed a crime, he did not commit? I mean, this is something that has such resonance, for so many Black people and Brown people, in this country.

And I think these sort of echoes of the past, it's horrifying, but also the reason why federal hate crime legislation remains, because it's not just about the individual. It's about anyone at any time being vulnerable, whether it's race, religion or other factors.

Joey Jackson, this remains important. Thank you.

JACKSON: It does. Thank you, Laura, so much.

COATES: One of the nation's largest airlines, well, they're growing quite tired, of scenes, like this.


COATES: But would the proposed solution go too far? While some Republicans argue that it treats unruly passengers, like terrorists, well, the debate about whether that's right or wrong? We're going to have that next.


COATES: Eight members of the self-proclaimed Law and Order Party, rushing to the defense of those, who can't follow the rules, on airplanes. But let's be clear, these days that the friendly skies, as they once were known, well, they've gone from this to this.





COATES: I mean, just this year, the FAA received 394 reports of unruly passengers. I remind you, I said, this year. And it is only February, right?

In most cases, the beefs were, well, they were over masks. That's got people from the CEO of Delta, to the Transportation Secretary, talking about adding those, who get out of hand, on a flight, to the no-fly list.

A group of Republican senators, well, they oppose that. And in a letter, to the Attorney General, they said that that would equate Americans skeptical of mask rules to terrorists.

Keep in mind, about one in five flight attendants say they were involved in a physical incident, with a passenger, just last year.

Let's bring in two, to discuss, from different perspectives as well, security and political, in different worlds, the Juliette Kayyem, and Scott Jennings.


COATES: I gave you thee, Juliette Kayyem. I gave you thee, Scott Jennings, as well. I don't want to leave any of that off for both of you. But now you are both here.

Let me begin with you, Juliette, because it's so important--


COATES: --to lean on your expertise, in particular, on this issue, and with Homeland Security-related.


COATES: What is your thought about the idea of equating people, who are unruly, based on the mask mandates, et cetera, with perceived terrorists?


COATES: What's your thought?

KAYYEM: So, unruly is a really nice way, of putting disruptive and dangerous. I mean, unruly makes them sound like they're playing their music too loud.


KAYYEM: But what we're seeing, in a lot of these instances, is essentially criminal behavior, and a dangerous instrument that if things go wrong, on an airplane, they actually can go terribly, terribly wrong.

And so, I just want to make it clear, the no-fly list is about disruptive or dangerous airport behavior. It started off, or was triggered by, of course, the terrorist attacks of 9/11. But that's like acting like nothing has changed, in terms of our threat environment, for the last 20 years.

Anyone in Homeland Security knows, Homeland Security isn't about stopping 19 terrorists, from getting on, four airplanes, anymore. It's about all the risks that Americans face, whether it's climate, or violent people, on airplanes, or a pandemic, and lowering that risk.

So, it'd be totally appropriate to have a floor that simply says, "If you do something disruptive like this," right, in other words, something of a magnitude of a - of a degree, and we can define it, that it was disruptive--

COATES: Right.

KAYYEM: --right?


KAYYEM: Then you can apply on any airplane, because the only remedy we have now is one airline takes them off their list, or a criminal remedy.

There has to be something in between, to actually tell people, "You cannot behave this way." It will motivate others to behave better. So routing (ph), I think it's just an easy way out for these Republicans to--

COATES: Well, Juliette?

KAYYEM: --to not support it.

COATES: I hear you. And, on that point, the idea of defining it? That sticks in my mind, Scott, and I want to invite you into the conversation.

Because the first thought, and I'm playing devil's advocate here, the first thought is, well, how are maybe passengers, or flight marshals, or others, to determine, whether this is a passenger who is, as you know, the word, unruly, are somebody, who could pose a threat, to embolden others, to then use a pretextual reason, and lull people, into a false sense of security?

Do you see this, Scott, as a potential threat, and the idea of saying, "They ought to be on the no-fly list, in general, not just in airline- specific, but you can't take to any skies?"


Because I think there's a huge difference, between people, who put their hands, on other people, commit violence, some of the things flight attendants are reporting, where people are actually getting physical with them, I absolutely think that would qualify you to be prosecuted, to then put on a no-fly list.

But when you start to then define down other interactions, such as a heated conversation, or a misunderstanding, that becomes a heated conversation, I worry that certain people, could be defined as, no- fly-list-worthy, when it was nothing more than a heated interaction. So, I think the definition would be critical.

Now, I will tell you, the way, to end all of this, and the way to make all of this go away, is for the FAA, to end the stupid mask mandate, on airplanes, right now. We do not need mask mandates on airplanes. It is completely unnecessary.

You got Democrat governors, all over the country, ending mask mandates. There's not a reason in this world, we need them on airplanes. We get on an airplane, I get on a lot of them, most, everybody on there is wearing a cloth mask, which now are pretty much called facial decorations or fashion statements.

So, you want to make this go away? End the mask mandate. And don't put in rules that could--

KAYYEM: Well--


JENNINGS: --follow somebody around, for the rest of their life--

KAYYEM: Right.

JENNINGS: --when it may have been an overblown interaction.

COATES: Juliette, is it a stupid mask mandate, to have them on the planes?


COATES: Obviously, it's the prerogative, of the federal government. It's the FAA. It's under the President's purview, particularly.

KAYYEM: It's-- COATES: Is it stupid?

KAYYEM: It's a rule. I mean, this is such a side tangent, to the issue, right? It is a rule. We can debate the rule, like rational people.

You cannot debate it, by getting on an airplane, with a mask on, because we wouldn't be allowed on, without the mask on, and then pretending all of a sudden that you view this as an impediment, to your freedoms.

And also, I wanted to just say, where we agree. There has to be a floor, of which violent behavior, unwillingness to put on, to follow the rules, to listen to flight attendants, who are security officers? They're not cocktail waitresses.

They are frontline security officers, that if you don't listen to them, if you don't abide by the rules, and you're violent, or threatening, or threaten the airplane, to the extent, that in a lot of these cases the airplanes are getting diverted, right?

So, that in and of itself is a dangerous thing, in terms of moving airplanes, from their flight plans. Then we agree, right? In other words, you want the bar to be high enough, to violence or threat of violence.

But the idea that these guys, who are threatening flight attendants, get to have a heckler's veto, over a federal mandate rule, regarding masks, on a highly - in highly-regulated industry, is ridiculous. I'm not having this debate. I'm not going to have the masking debate.

COATES: And yet, Juliette? Hold on one--

KAYYEM: There are, say, rules, right? And they're not--

COATES: I hear you too. Excuse me.


KAYYEM: --debate.

COATES: Excuse me. I hear you on the debate, you don't want to have.

But I do, in the interest of just, I see you nodding, Scott, and thinking about that, when it comes down to it? This is in fact, the debate that's happening, on Capitol Hill, in some respects, and in different governor's offices.


COATES: Not because it's about whether it's stupid or not, but the debate of - and I do agree, in the notion of, look, I'm not comfortable with just saying, "OK, let's avoid having to have a conversation, about passengers, who pose perhaps a deadly threat," by just saying, "Get rid of the rule." That's like saying, let's stop having conversations about terrorism-- KAYYEM: Yes.

COATES: --by just talking - just do away with the rule about taking your shoes off before you got an airplane. There are rules there.

KAYYEM: Right.

COATES: But unfortunately, we're out of time. And we'll have to leave it there, with me having the last word. Sorry, Scott Jennings. Thank you so much.

KAYYEM: That's right, thank you.

COATES: My smile, I hope, will be endearing enough to you, Scott. Call me later.

Nice talking to you both, Juliette and Scott.


COATES: OK. Please do so. I appreciate it.

We turn now to another disturbing piece of video that we'll show you after the break. Speaking of fighting, how about two teens, this time, fighting inside of a shopping mall.

But the controversy starts, when the police show up. Their response is raising questions of racial bias. I'll show you why, next.



COATES: What started as a scuffle, between two teenage boys, in a New Jersey mall, has escalated to a much bigger outcry, over race, even prompting comments from the Jersey governor.

And it's not the teens facing backlash. Take a look at this video that was taken on Saturday.




COATES: You see the Black teen. CNN has learned that his first name is "Kye," arguing with the White teen, whose name we have not confirmed. It goes from finger pointing to flying fists.

But look what happens when police officers come to break up the fight.


COATES: They toss the White teen to a nearby couch. But they seem to take a more aggressive action, with respect to "Kye," pitting him to the floor, and straddling him. One officer appears to have her knee on his back.

The Bridgewater Police says it's investigating the incident. But in the meantime, both teens are speaking out.


"KYE," TEEN INVOLVED IN NEW JERSEY MALL FIGHT: And then, the cops come over. And they come tackle me and, like, put me in handcuffs, and then just leave him, by himself, on the couch, free, just able to do anything.

I was, like, confused, like, why they saw me as the bad person, like me as like aggressive, the one that started everything, and they automatically assume.


COATES: And the White teen was also alarmed at the response, telling a TV station, quote, "I knew it was wrong, and I knew there was going to be problems when they did that. They didn't go for me. She said stay put. That's all she said. I didn't understand why. I even offered to get handcuffed as well."

CNN has not been able to speak to either of the teenagers, or their parents.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted he is "Deeply disturbed by what appears to be racially disparate treatment in this video."

Well, my next guest leads racial justice training, around the entire country, for juvenile defenders, prosecutors and judges. Joining us now, Georgetown Law Professor, Kristin Henning, Author of the great, incredible new book, "The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth."

Kristin, I can't think of a more appropriate person, to talk about this with, Professor. What's your reaction when you see that?

KRISTIN HENNING, GEORGETOWN LAW PROFESSOR, DIRECTOR, JUVENILE JUSTICE CLINIC AND INITIATIVE AT GEORGETOWN LAW: This is a video, for anyone, who does not believe that implicit racial bias exists.

You've got two officers, called to the scene. Less than 20 seconds, into a fight, they go straight to the Black boy, right? And the assumption is he's the one, who's out of place, he's the one, who's a threat. So, my first reaction is indeed concern about racial bias.

I'm also concerned about the ways, in which, we respond, to adolescent behaviors, with traditional law enforcement responses. Why are we taking this young boy, down to the ground, putting a knee, in his back, and handcuffing him, as opposed to just separating these two boys, and de-escalating the situation? So, there's so much to talk about, with this video. [21:45:00]

COATES: And, of course, hearing the other boy, in the video, talking about the idea of him offering to be handcuffed too, and not understanding. I mean, you've done a lot of research. He talks about "Kye," this - the Black teenager. He talks about being scared. And you've done research, on the treatment of Black children.

What are the ramifications, long-term, of what this looks like? I mean, this is quite scarring and traumatizing, not only for the Black teen, who was impacted, but for others, who are looking on.

HENNING: Absolutely. There is a growing body of research, documenting the extraordinary psychological trauma, to Black and Brown children, who are the frequent targets of police stops, frisk, violence, of this nature.

Young people become depressed, and fearful, and anxious, and hyper vigilant, meaning that they're always on guard, and not trusting others.

And just as you said, Laura, what's so powerful about this research is that it shows that the trauma occurs, even when you're not the direct target. Just witnessing these types of incidents, lead to the same traumatic effects, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleeplessness, other signs of depression.

So, it really has a profound long-term consequences, on children, who are observing, especially Black and Brown children, who know that they are disproportionately targeted.

COATES: Now, let's be clear. And I know you know this. And we're talking about this issue. We don't have all the answers. We have not interviewed every person. This story is still developing. And so, I'm always reluctant to put a stamp on what our opinions must be.

But just watching it, it really dredges up, so much of the research and exploration, you have done, so eloquently, and well, to talk about this issue, even from a more removed perspective.

Professor Kristin Henning, thank you so much.

HENNING: Thank you.

COATES: And coming up, a remarkable story, of a little girl, who was found alive, after vanishing more than two years ago. The clues that led investigators to a suspicious-looking staircase, and who they found with the 6-year-old.

Look, a lot of questions remain in this case. We'll ask them, next.



COATES: A tip, a warrant, and keen eyes, by an officer, in New York, leads to the rescue of a 6-year-old girl, who was reported missing, get this, two years ago. She was found living under a staircase.

There's still a lot of unknowns in this case. I mean, the Saugerties Police Department is still investigating. And officers say that young Paislee Shultis, was removed, from her parents' custody, before she was reported missing. Officers visited the parents' home, several times, over the years, but they found no evidence of Paislee.

But then, this week, they got a tip, which led to a search warrant.


CHIEF JOSEPH SINAGRA, SAUGERTIES, NY POLICE DEPARTMENT: The detective said there was something odd about the stairs, just the way they were constructed, the way they felt, when he was walking on them. And he said he took a closer look at the stairs.

And between two of the stair boards, there was a crack. He used a flashlight, looked in there, and he saw what he believed was a blanket, at the bottom. So, they used a Halligan tool, and they started removing the steps of the staircase. And sure and behold, they found a little pair of feet.


COATES: Wow! That's good police work!

And the police believe that the mom and the girl had been staying at the home, since they disappeared, in 2019. They believe the staircase appeared to have been built, for the purpose of hiding them both.

Paislee's mother, father and grandfather were arrested. All three, are before a judge today.

I want to turn now to Miguel Marquez, who is in Saugerties, New York, for us, tonight.

Miguel, what a story! I mean, first, when people saw this headline, they probably thought, "Oh my god, what are we talking about, right now."

But where is this little girl right now? Has she been released to a legal guardian? Who is caring for this little girl?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She is with her legal guardian. This was the person that was given custody of her, two years ago. She never showed up there. So, she's with her legal guardian now, and her older sister. She's doing well.

Police saying that she - there was no sign of abuse with her, which is the good thing. The problem is, police also say that she wasn't able to go to the school, over the last two years, not even to a doctor. So, it's not clear what that long-term trauma is going to be. Laura?

COATES: And tell me a little bit about that. What was her reaction, when police rescued her? I understand that there was something - some apprehension, initially? MARQUEZ: Yes, I mean, look, she came out, apparently. The police say that she was calm at first, and a little sheepish, when they - crawled out of that staircase. But then, she became upset, and fearful, of what was going on.

But they also - look, there's a lot of police around. They were armed. They had lots of gear on. So, that would probably upset any child. They were able to sort of calm her down, and get her checked out. And she's in a much better place right now.

COATES: I understand also that, at one point, on their way, to the police headquarters, they passed by a McDonald's, and she somehow remembered, at some point that perhaps she'd eaten something, like that before, and they went to the drive-thru, with her, to help make her feel more comfortable. I'd tell you those Golden Arches!

MARQUEZ: Well, yes, she--

COATES: But that's - it's unbelievable. She's a child. She's 6-years- old, remember.

Miguel, where do things stand right now? Because, you know, there are so many questions, left to be answered here. Where does the investigation stand right now? They've been charged?

MARQUEZ: Yes. Yes, look, this is a custody case, at the very core. And it's a very complicated one. It's across several jurisdictions. It's across a lot of time. And there are several family members here that are involved.

Custodial interference is what they've all been charged with, the grandfather and the father, with a felony custodial interference, and the mom, with a misdemeanor.


They have not pled yet. They were in court today. It was mostly administrative. They've not pled anything yet. They have court dates, down the road. So, we'll hear from that. The lawyer for the mother says, you have to wait until you hear all the information.

So, I think it's going to be a long difficult drawn-out time. But I suspect, there may be more charges coming. And the parents, these were, they were her biological parents. The parents, I think, will want to make their own case, as well, Laura.

COATES: I'd be interested in hearing it. And - but the great news, thank God, this girl is alive, and saved. So many cases of missing children do not end this way.


COATES: Miguel Marquez, thank you so much.

MARQUEZ: Exactly.

COATES: We'll be right back.

MARQUEZ: You got it.


COATES: Hey, thanks for watching. I'll be back, tomorrow night.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts with who else? Don Lemon, right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: It'd be interesting, if my name was something like Laura Coates, "This is DON LEMON TONIGHT," add Laura Coates, I mean.


COATES: Wouldn't that be--

LEMON: But it is sometimes though, when you're--

COATES: But you know?

LEMON: --here sitting.

COATES: Then, I just say, "And hello, I am not Don Lemon. Sorry to disappoint the masses."

LEMON: I think they know.

COATES: "He will be back."

LEMON: I mean, look at you.

COATES: "He will be back."

LEMON: Nobody thinks that I am you. I mean, I could never look like you.

But we're going to - of course, we're going to cover the big news, Laura that's happening in Ukraine.