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CNN TONIGHT: Trump-Pence Rift Widens As Pence Campaigns For Georgia Governor Who Wouldn't Help Overturn 2020 Election; Nearly 100 Monkeypox Cases Confirmed In 15 Countries; Life Sentence For Russian Soldier In First War Crimes Trial. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 23, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: For those who love the nostalgic phone, you can still find a few private pay phones, including the Superman-styled fully-enclosed booths, on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

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


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: You know? My 9-year-old son once asked me, Anderson, "Mommy, why do we say, 'Hang up the phone?'" And I felt so old, in that moment. So now, showing him this? I'm probably going to be prehistoric! I'm like, "You hang up this - oh, God, forget it!"


COATES: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Thanks.

COATES: You feel old too now. I know!

I'm Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

I know that for a while, with the pandemic, we were all kind of in Bill Murray's perpetual Groundhog Day movie. And we stopped, in many respects, knowing what day it really was.

We can all agree on one thing, that we are both old enough, and young enough, to remember when Trump and Pence were on the same side. After all, they were running on the same ticket, for reelection, asking for yet another four years, in the White House, together, just 18 months ago.

And then, they lost. But when only one was prepared to acknowledge that, it seems well that there's no love that has now been lost between them. And talking January 6, Pence once said, he didn't think he and Trump would ever see eye-to-eye about that day, intimating that it was time, to move beyond the 2020 election.

Today, Pence has solidified that disconnect, stumping for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a candidate, who has wholly rejected Trump's Big Lie, at least as a campaign platform-winning strategy.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am here, to support Brian Kemp, in tomorrow's Republican primaries.


PENCE: I can honestly say, I was for Brian Kemp, before it was cool.

When you say yes, to Governor Brian Kemp, tomorrow, you will send a deafening message, all across America that the Republican Party is the party of the future.



COATES: And with that, Trump's former Vice President just may have made the biggest and boldest break yet, from the man that is still mad that he certified the election, for Biden.

Now, we already knew that Trump was angry with Brian Kemp. I mean, he's been actively working, to oust him, from office, ever since, and calling him a turncoat, calling him, a coward, and a complete disaster. Remember, he even enlisted former senator, David Perdue, to run against him, in the gubernatorial primary.

Now, Governor Kemp has said today that, look, the bad blood, it doesn't go both ways.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): I had a great relationship with President Trump. I've never said anything bad about him. I don't plan on doing that. I'm not mad at him. I think he's just mad at me, and that's something that I can't control.


COATES: The question is how all this is playing, with Republican voters, in Georgia, and possibly beyond.

I mean, despite Trump's backing, Perdue, who has campaigned, on the Big Lie, he's struggled to gain traction, in the polls. He's been trailing Kemp, by a wide margin, in these final hours, in spite of Trump's tele-rally, for Perdue, even tonight.

He's making a last-ditch effort, to turn out his MAGA voters, while taking, frankly, yet another dig, at Kemp.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Brian Kemp is truly a embarrassment to the Republican Party because of what's taken place in your great state, Georgia. And David will make a massive upgrade as your Governor.


COATES: And as for whether Georgia Republicans are Team Trump or Team Punts (ph) when it - punts - Pence, when it comes to endorsements? Excuse me. Anything can happen, of course. There could be a run-off, if Kemp doesn't win more than 50 percent of the vote. But, as of now, it seems, at least in the primary, it's Kemp's race to lose.

But you know, what's not happening? I doubt we'll be seeing another Trump-Pence ticket, anytime soon, if ever, well now that the Trump spokesperson said this today.

Quote, "Mike Pence was set to lose a Governor's race in 2016 before he was plucked up and his political career was salvaged. Now, desperate to chase his lost relevance, Pence is parachuting in to races, hoping someone is paying attention."

Remember, this was once his one-time closest political partner, he's talking about.

But the question now is, is this Pence attempting to maybe be on the top of a ticket, in 2024?

I want to bring in our power political team for their take. Former Ohio State Senator, Nina Turner, who co-chaired Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. And Scott Jennings, former adviser, to Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell.

I'm glad to have you both here, especially on the eve of Election Night in America, as we know it, so well.

Let me start with you Scott, on this. Because, did it surprise you that the former Vice President, has essentially extended that 10-foot pole, and said "Look, I'm for Kemp, even before it was cool."


SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SENIOR CAMPAIGN COMMS ADVISER TO SEN. MCCONNELL: No. I'm not surprised, at Mike Pence's engagement, here. Because, in a lot of ways, what Brian Kemp is doing, in Georgia, is blazing the trail that Mike Pence himself wants to go down, in 2024.

You have two politicians here that at least in some ways owe their national political prominence, to Donald Trump. Kemp came to power, during the Trump years, and was endorsed by Donald Trump. Pence obviously joined the Trump ticket. But both of them broke with Donald Trump, after the 2020 election.

So, if Brian Kemp, can pull this off in Georgia, and be authentic, and be conservative, and be that kind of a Republican, and win a primary, and then beat the Stacey Abrams team, in November? That is exactly the argument Mike Pence is going to try to make, to national Republicans, all over the country, in 2024. So, it makes a lot of sense, for Pence, to be there. And honestly, if Kemp pulls this off, that's exactly the blueprint that people like Mike Pence are going to need to follow, if they want to challenge Trump, in the next presidential election.

COATES: You know want I find interesting, Nina? The idea that Brian Kemp is not focusing on sort of the rehashing of a former election. And it seems to be working, for him, at least compared to Perdue.

And then, on the other side, his maybe eventual opponent, who is not running a contested race, Stacey Abrams, well she has been quite focused, on the fact that she believes that there was, not on the up and up, when it came to her gubernatorial run.

And so, you had this sort of tension going on, in Georgia. The idea of, "Yes, you want to leave things, in the past, but not towards saying, but we remember what happened here."

What do you think is going to be more effective, we're talking about, for the Republicans or Democrats? The distancing for Republicans, or acknowledging what happened, if you're a proponent of Stacey Abrams, from several years ago?


Both, acknowledge the transgressions that happened, the last time around, and focus on moving forward. You have to be able to do both, because you need to remind voters what happened before, and what could possibly happen again.

COATES: I look at Georgia. And, of course, we've all been looking at Georgia, for so many reasons. Not the least of which is how, although Kemp is now campaigning, distancing from the Big Lie, Georgia has codified, as you well know, Scott, portions of the thoughts behind the Big Lie. It was a very controversial Election Integrity Act that was initiated, implemented, speaking of blueprints.

And now, you've got the same token, here, of well, you're hearing about voter turnout, being very high, at least in the early voting stages, upwards of 800,000, or more. A comparison, in fact, from looking at how this has gone before, in prior primaries.

What do you make of the idea that the voter turnout has been high, in spite of it?

At least, Stacey Abrams has had this to say. I want you to react to this, in terms of thinking about, the why. Why there is higher voter turnout, still, even in spite of these election integrity type legislation.

Here's what she had to say about why it's a fallacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STACEY ABRAMS, (D) GEORGIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: The moral equivalent of saying that voter turnout diffuses or disproves voter suppression is like saying that more people getting in the water means there're no longer any sharks. Those two things are just not true.

And we know that voter suppression is alive, and well, in Georgia. And we're going to continue to fight back.


COATES: What do you make of that, Scott, in terms of the fact that she's pointing at the idea, "Look, you can't very well say, because people are turning out, that there were not things that were going wrong in legislation." What's your retort?

JENNINGS: Well, I mean, the numbers, the data. I mean, what's happening on the ground. You have people voting, in droves, in both parties.

To my knowledge, no one is dying of thirst, which was the main promise that people were going to not be able to get water. That's a lie. I'm reading account after account of people who were saying--

COATES: Well, hold on, Scott. Hold on. Wait. One thing.

JENNINGS: --"Well, I had no idea how easy it was to vote."

COATES: Excuse me. You laugh about that point. But that was one of the controversial aspect of - this is early voting, we're talking about, people before having to stand in line. And so, that point, I get why that's controversial, and why there's a little bit of humor that you're trying to display.

But in terms of the actual notion, of why people turned out, do you really think that they turned out, because in spite of, or because of the legislation?

JENNINGS: I think - I don't think the legislation is causing people, to turn out, or not to turn out.

The issue with the legislation - we spent months, and months, and months, hearing that "People were going to be suppressed. People were going to be kept from the polls. People were going to be turned away." And it was all a huge lie.

This law has made it easy for people, to vote, in both parties. You have Republicans and Democrats turning out in droves. And, by the way, I suspect, we're going to have really high turnout, in November, as well.

So, everybody who wanted the law, Brian Kemp included, have been proven right. And everybody, who said it was a disaster, had been proven wrong.

COATES: Nina, what's your reaction to that? Is it all a lie that suppression doesn't exist? It's the big boogeyman? TURNER: No, it's not a lie. And voters are turning out, in spite of. I mean, just because people are turning out to vote does not mean that the hurdle was not higher.

Especially, we know that the law deals primarily with the absentee voting portion of it, by making it harder, making it more stringent, to do so. So, people are out voting, more, in-person. And that is absolutely a good thing.


We know that we had the scourge of COVID. Well, we still have it. But in the heat of the 2020 elections, a lot of states were doing what was necessary, to expand, and protect access, to the ballot box, knowing that people had to vote. It was life or death, to vote absentee, and be able to mail in a ballot.

So, any elected officials, anybody that runs for office, for a living, should all want to make sure that we make it easier that we expand it that we protect it, and stop leaning on the fallacy somehow that there're this large scourge of people, trying to impersonate somebody.

I mean, what do you get? I mean, I don't understand if somebody's trying to rob a bank. We know that if they're successful, they get the money.

But most people are not going to go into a polling place, or turn in an absentee ballot application, trying to impersonate somebody else. That is the big lie that the Republicans continue to push.

And state after state, including my great state of Ohio, we have less voting opportunities, than we had 10 years ago, because the Republicans continue to strip, strip, strip away.


TURNER: And that is not the right thing to do. So, I'm glad to see the voters, in Georgia, pushing forward, anyway.

COATES: Well, whether it's in spite of, or because? It's kind of the big political question, in all fronts. Why do people show up? Is it because they're voting in favor, or against something? We'll have to follow up, what's happening, tomorrow. Nina Turner, Scott Jennings, we shall see.

I want to go to a neighbor of the great state of Ohio, though. And nearly a week, since the GOP Senate primary, in Pennsylvania, that race is still too close to call.

In fact, right now, Dr. Mehmet Oz leads moderate Dave McCormick by just under 1,000 votes, making it all but certain that this race is in fact going to head to a recount. And this comes, of course, as interestingly enough, McCormick's campaign has filed a lawsuit, this evening, to have undated ballots, be a part of the count.

Well, Michael Smerconish, he knows all in Pennsylvania politics. Thank you for joining me, tonight. Michael, I have to ask you about this. Because, the idea of him trying to say, "Let's count the undated ballots," what is the significance, people understand that, right now? Why is that such an important point, just given how we've seen the last year or two?



SMERCONISH: It's another day - another day of counting ballots. The margin gets slightly more narrow, between Oz and McCormick. But still, it's McCormick, who trails, as you pointed out, by close to 1,000 votes.

The answer to your question is that Dave McCormick, has outperformed Dr. Oz, among the write-in ballots, and the absentee ballots. And so, his perspective, McCormick, is one of "Count anything that was not cast on Election Day, because chances are, I'll fare better than will Dr. Oz."

Oz, you will not be surprised to hear, and with the support of Ronna McDaniel, from the RNC, says, "No, if they're lacking a date on the ballot, it shouldn't be cast. It shouldn't be counted."

I should point this out. We are talking about ballots that came in by Election Day.


SMERCONISH: So, this is not an issue of, were they received on time? There's a state law requirement that says you've got to write down the date that you actually filled out your ballot.

A federal court decision, last Friday, from the Third Circuit, in an unrelated case, said, "Even if you lack a date, it ought to be counted." So, McCormick is pointing to that decision, and saying "That ought to be the standard."

COATES: So, it's interesting because, of course, the former President, Donald Trump, was really saying, "Look, declare that you're the victor, Oz, before any of this happens," sort of an eye towards thinking, "If votes are coming in, they may chop away at the margin that you have. And so, you've got to do it for the recount sake to avoid it."

Is there any way you see this actually avoiding a recount, at this point? And, by the way, if this does go to a recount, which we think it's going to go to a recount, are there any special precautions, or guardrails that are unique to Pennsylvania that makes this out of the ordinary?

SMERCONISH: Well, former President Trump, of course, remembers the red mirage, and the blue wave. How he looked strong, on Tuesday night, at least to the uninitiated, who weren't aware of just what potency those mail-in ballots would hold for Democrats. And it was by the following Saturday, that Joe Biden eclipsed him, was declared the winner, in Pennsylvania, and that's what put him over the top.

So, Trump probably looks at Oz, whom he supported, and thinks, "This is deja vu. Get out ahead of it."

My hunch is that Dr. Oz is probably somewhat confident, nervous, but somewhat confident, that he's got enough built-in. So that even if there's a recount? And there will be. It may get chipped away, but probably not enough to overturn it. So that's probably where we're headed.

But frankly, it's been such a bizarre election, Laura, who the hell knows where it ends up?


COATES: Well, to use your analogy, and extend it, I guess, Punxsutawney Phil is seeing the shadow of Donald Trump. We'll just put it that way, and see what actually happens there.

Michael, don't go far. See, I know Bill Murray movies. See "What About Bob?" is one of the all-time classics, anyway. Michael, don't go far. I want to talk to you about this new lawsuit against Bill Cosby, by a female accuser, later this hour.

But, up next, everyone, the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation lawsuit could actually go to the jury, soon. The question is, why is Amber Heard's legal team, apparently changing its mind, about calling Depp, to the stand? Which I think is a little odd, in the first instance, to call him! But I wonder what insight could Kate Moss offer in court, decades after they have dated?

All of this, when CNN returns.




AMBER HEARD, EX-WIFE OF JOHNNY DEPP: I just see my little sister, with her back - face - her back, to the staircase. And Johnny swings at her. And I don't even wait - don't even wait.

In my head, instantly think of Kate Moss, and the stairs, and I swung at him.


COATES: Well, that's actress Amber Heard admitting to swinging at her then-husband, Johnny Depp. She claims, it was to protect her sister, and that she felt an impulse, to do so, because of that rumor that, you may have seen the fist-bumping, a rumor she heard about Depp, shoving former girlfriend, Kate Moss, down a staircase.

Now, whether or not that happened, we may learn that, on Wednesday, when Kate Moss is taking the stand, expectedly, in Depp's $50 million defamation case.

I want to bring in attorney, Ken Turkel, who specializes in celebrity defamation cases.

Ken, I know that you saw, what I saw, just now. And I know, as lawyers, we're almost taught, or maybe if you don't - if you're not taught, you're going to realize pretty quickly, when that jury returns a verdict, you don't want, to not show a whole lot of emotion, when you're at that counsel table. Because, you never know, how it's going to be read.

And so, you saw the defense attorney, sort of pumping his fist, at the mere mention of Kate Moss. Here, it is. What do you think was behind that? It was the idea - look at his - he's excited. What's behind that? I think it's because someone opened a door. What do you think?

KEN TURKEL, TRIAL LAWYER SPECIALIZING IN REPUTATION PRIVACY CASES, ATTORNEY FOR HULK HOGAN IN GAWKER LAWSUIT, ATTORNEY FOR SARAH PALIN IN NY TIMES LAWSUIT: Yes. It was, obviously, on that side of it, either through a deposition, or anecdotally, somewhere, maybe they were waiting for it.

But obviously, they saw a door being opened, kind of an over-the-top celebration, in some respects, for what's a somewhat ancillary fact. In other words, it's an undisclosed mental impression. Maybe Amber Heard actually did believe the rumor, about that.

But whatever the case may be, the machinery, I think, would have to have gone into place, at that point, to arrange for her, to come testify, to disavow the jury that there was any real incident, between Kate Moss and Johnny Depp.

So, that show of celebration, though, there's been a lot of that nonverbal conduct, at both counsel tables that sort of - you sort of strive to not do that. Juries are looking at everything. And we talk a lot before trial, about not showing emotion, one way or the other, in those situations.

COATES: And, of course, this can be hard.

TURKEL: So, that was it--

COATES: At times, you're pretty invested in it. And obviously, there is some level of theatrics. The old saying goes, "Whoever tells the best story is going to win," in some instances. The truth should prevail at all times, of course.

But I have to ask you, when you hear about, say, a, Kate Moss testifying, or we've heard about Ellen Barkin, last week, testifying, an actress? A part of me wonders, in terms of how, and why, there has been a decision, to have this prior testimony, of either uncharged prior bad acts, they call it in the law, or the idea of opening up a door.

Walk us through a little bit, for the audience, to understand why he'd have the opportunity, to call these sort of either character witnesses, to help, or to hurt Johnny Depp's case?

TURKEL: Yes, and I think the focus is these aren't character witnesses, in the truest sense, because they're talking about significant - or specific instances of conduct.

And evidence codes, whether they're in a codified actual code, or it's common law, case law, generally, are very weighted against the idea that we're going to say, "Somebody did something in the past. Therefore, they did the same thing, this time" specific instances to prove character, identified by a Virginia's evidence rules, though. And I think they're corollary Rule 608, in most states, or federally, which includes some of that, is actually it's a little broader.

COATES: Interesting!

TURKEL: There's a few menu items there that show up, and provide a little more latitude. But, I think, the Kate Moss thing is somewhat different than the Ellen Barkin thing.


TURKEL: Because the Ellen Barkin, was a wholesale, "Let's bring in something from the past, and say this happened in the past. So, it must have happened now."


TURKEL: Whereas the Kate Moss thing is really the credibility attack.

COATES: So, what do you make of the decision? I mean, at one point, Amber Heard's team, which might surprise people, Amber Heard's team, was thinking about calling, not somebody in his past, but Johnny Depp, himself, to testify. Now, I think, that's now changed. They're not going to do that any longer.

But what was the sort of the method to the madness of calling or considering calling Johnny Depp, if you're Amber Heard?

TURKEL: Yes. I heard your lead into it that it's not something - I think it's very much a lawyer preference thing. I - when you're putting on your case-in-chief, you want to control the flow, presentation of evidence, right? That's your chance to control your witnesses, under direct, and to put your story together.

Calling the other side, behind your lines, puts you in the position, of having to controlling, through cross examination, which obviously good lawyers can do. And it's not like it's unheard of.


But generally, Laura, when that happens, it's on a very sort of technical point, or maybe something you need to prove, for your case- in-chief. Because they already took their shot, at him, on cross.

COATES: Right.

TURKEL: I don't like to do it, particularly in the video depo age, where you can put the video depo on, to get those technical points in. So, they may have just done a risk benefit balance to it. I think it's always risky.


TURKEL: No matter how good you are controlling that witness.

COATES: Well, Ken, I mean, it also gives an opportunity. To talk about second bite at the apple? You've got an actor, who's able to now clean up, whatever he needs to, or talk about, or expand upon, or undermine, in some way. This trial continues.

Ken Turkel - Turkel, excuse me, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

TURKEL: Always.

COATES: And from one sort of celebrity trial, to well, Bill Cosby. Remember Bill Cosby? While he may be a free man, since Pennsylvania's highest court, overturned his sexual assault conviction? But his legal troubles are not over. In fact, it's far from that.

You know? There's actually a new trial that is starting for him, this week. We'll tell you why, and what Cosby could face, this time, next.


COATES: So, listen to this. After being released, from prison, last year, Bill Cosby is headed back to a trial, for sexual assault accusations.


Now, this time, it's not a criminal case. It's a civil case. You have an accuser, named Judy Huth, who says Cosby forced her, to perform a sex act, on him, when she was only 16-years-old. Now, she claims that it happened, at the Playboy Mansion, back in the 70s. Now, Cosby has denied these allegations.

Back with me now, is CNN's Michael Smerconish. He's one of the last people, to interview Cosby, on the radio, before his 2018 trial.

Also joining me, is CNN Legal Analyst, Joey Jackson.

I'm glad to have you both here, right now.

Michael, let me just start with you, here. Because, I want you to help orient this conversation, in the sense that people are wondering, still, "Why was he released from prison?" It came down to due process, right, and the idea of a former prosecutor making certain guarantees. What happened?

SMERCONISH: Right. So, the Montgomery County Prosecutor, at the time, Bruce Castor, who, by the way, good trivia, Laura, would later represent Donald Trump, in the impeachment trial, in front of the United States Senate, he said, to Bill Cosby, that he would not be prosecuting him, criminally.

Castor's story was that he didn't think he could meet his burden, and that he, Castor, wanted to help Andrea Constand, in civil litigation, and remove the opportunity, for Cosby, to plead the Fifth.

By the way, Constand, and her team, they dispute all of this. I need to make that clear.

But what ended up happening, is that Castor didn't prosecute. A subsequent D.A. did. Constand was successful, for more than $3 million, in her civil suit.

And years later, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, said, "Hey, Cosby should never have been prosecuted, to begin with, because the D.A. committed that he wouldn't bring the case."

COATES: And, of course then, the other prosecutors thus really should have been bound by that very notion.

But Joey, the next question, of course, from people, is "OK. If that's the case for Bill Cosby, as to why we're here, now, or why he's out of prison, now, unable to be prosecuted, at least civilly, at this point in time, how is it that we're able to hear about a case from the 1970s?"

Talk to me, about the absence, of a statute of limitations period. Because this is kind of a newer phenomenon, in the law, the ability to bring a case, like this, all these years later, even though this case has been brewing, since at least, I think, 2014.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, it really is, Laura. Good evening, to you, and Michael.

So what happens is, is that we're seeing this movement, across the country, where we're giving victims, who were younger, an opportunity, now, to pursue claims, as an adult.

In this specific jurisdiction, in California, it used to be 26, or up until, five years, thereafter, in the event that you would recall the incident, as it occurred. This some repression issue, in terms of you trying to forget, as any sexual assault victim would, trying to forget it, you have a psychologist, to say, "Hey, you may be past this age. But yet, you repressed it. And now, you remember."

It was since amended to allow for it to be 40, or, again, thereafter you could pursue it, if it were repressed. And now you remember that it occurred. And so, they've made statutes, across the country that are much more favorable, with respect to bringing up claims that may be very stale, and old, but yet provide you, an opportunity, to seek legal redress, notwithstanding the fact that you're an adult now.


JACKSON: And so, in this particular case, very quickly, the victim said, "Look, I remembered it now, although I repressed it," and she was permitted, based upon that statute, to bring the claim forward. So, here we are, from 1974, or 1975, depending upon which one is the notion that she ultimately decides to pursue.

COATES: And you mentioned that point, of course, because I believe that the accuser, after having been provided documents, from the Cosby team, recalled then a different year that this allegedly took place.

But Smerconish, I got to ask you. Because, we're talking about still a civil trial, here. And I'm wondering to what extent the Supreme Court's decision, and the Pennsylvania, of course, would have any bearing, or the philosophy?

Is there a connective tissue, in terms of the idea of having some kind of civil immunity, in this instance, for this case, if you're Bill Cosby?

SMERCONISH: So, the biggest difference to me, or the biggest point, I guess, to be made, is that the standard, as the two of you well know, was beyond a reasonable doubt, in the criminal case. This is going to be by a preponderance of the evidence.

I don't see any bearing of the outcome in Pennsylvania that it would have on this case. I think this will be a fresh circumstance. And it'd be very interesting, to see how the passage, of nearly a half a century? I mean, does that bode better for the alleged victim in this case, or for Cosby, in this case? I could argue that both ways.

I'm also fascinated by the fact that apparently he won't be present. Is that going to be perceived as disrespectful of the jury? Or will they say, "Hey, he believes this is such a ridiculous case that he's not even going to show up, 3,000 miles away, from where he's now living?"


COATES: I got to say, I don't know how you'd see it, Joey. But the client's got to show up. I mean, just - you got to show up. But, of course, this is an interesting time, we live in!

But gentlemen, thank you. Look at this beautiful law firm here! Look at this wonderful thing! Can my name please go first? It's alphabetical. Thank you so much.

JACKSON: You deserve it, absolutely.

COATES: We'll call it Coates-Jackson-Smerconish, in that order. We'll see you--

JACKSON: I'll take it!

COATES: Joey's like "Don't try it, Laura." Thank you for biting your tongue!

JACKSON: Anything for you!


Well, from this, to now, the Monkeypox scare, ahead. A lot of people are understandably concerned, about this new virus, with a lot of unknowns. We've got the point person, for the White House, response to this outbreak, next. And it looks nasty!


COATES: Tonight, a sixth presumptive case, of Monkeypox in America, just announced today, in Washington State. Officials say the man recently traveled to a country, where other cases have been reported. Now, cases are confirmed in 15 countries.


In an interview, with the Associated Press, a World Health Organization adviser says sex rave parties, may have contributed, to the spread, in Europe. But the CDC says Monkeypox is not a sexually- transmitted disease.

So, why is it spreading? And how do we avoid contracting it? Let's get some insight, from the person, leading the White House pandemic office, responsible for coordinating the Monkeypox response, Dr. Raj Panjabi.

I'm glad you're here, Doctor.

I have to tell you, when you look at the pictures, of Monkeypox, and you see the idea of cases being confirmed, stateside? The immediate questions, for people, coming out of this pandemic, and in the middle of it, and we're showing this picture, again, is how contagious and infectious is it? And could people possibly get it here?


So, how contagious and infectious is it? It is not as contagious as COVID. This is a disease, a virus that causes a flu-like illness, fevers, headaches, muscle aches, followed by pretty characteristic rash, basically, think of bumps, across your skin that get fluid- filled, and pus-filled. Those can be painful.

The disease usually lasts two weeks to four weeks. And those who are most at risk of getting it are those who are in direct contact with those skin lesions, or in contact with the respiratory droplets, of someone, who is infected with the virus.

It cannot be transmitted, as far as we know, in past outbreaks, as well as so far in this one, through airborne transmission, like COVID can.

COATES: Well, do we know how it started? I mean, I know the phrase, Monkeypox, is an origin for lab monkeys. But it seems to have expanded to rodents and prairie dogs, being carriers, as well. What is the origins of how this would have started, now?

PANJABI: Well, you're right. This is a disease, Monkeypox that is, is present in endemic, as it's called, in parts of West and Central Africa. I actually grew up in Liberia. And I've practiced in West Africa, and I've seen cases of Monkeypox, there.

What's unusual about this outbreak, Laura, is that it's spreading in places that don't typically have infections. And so, how it started is still unclear. We're getting new clues, every day.

Currently, we have clusters of outbreaks, in places, like Spain, and Portugal, and the United Kingdom. We have a few cases, as you noted here, in the United States, most of which have been travel-related or related to people, who have had direct contact, with people, who have had Monkeypox.

COATES: So, how do you treat it? I mean, is incubation period pretty quick? I hear, it's a few weeks, before you might develop symptoms. How do you treat it? Is it about quarantining? Is there a solution, a vaccine, to prevent, or treat?

I mean, I'm a little bit nervous. I don't - I look at the pictures. And I got to tell you, I'm not a doctor. I'm a lawyer. And I look at this and say, "My God, I do not want this. I want no one to have it."

So, how do you cure it?

PANJABI: Yes, it looks really terrifying. And, I think, one of the things that we're doing, in the pandemic office, is working across our departments and agencies, first of all, with empathy, first and foremost. People's anxieties and fears around this disease are real.

The second thing, we're focused on, is science. And we have already worked, to procure the fruits of science, if I may? The vaccines that are effective against this virus, we have sufficient amounts of them. And we also have procured effective treatments.

I'm happy to report, even with the first case, in Boston, at Massachusetts General Hospital, our colleagues, across the government, have been able to get vaccines, to that hospital. And just yesterday, they've already started offering the vaccines, to healthcare workers, who've been exposed. So, that's the second part.

The first part is to identify those, who are infected, and to isolate them, and make sure that they get the care, they need, Laura. The second part is to ensure we vaccinate those, who've been exposed, to the infected individuals. If we do that, again and again, and that's our approach, at the White House, and across the government, then, we have a better chance at ending this outbreak.

COATES: So, why is there talk about sex raves, as the ideas of potential origins, or the idea of it being a sexually-transmitted disease? I mean, it strikes me, as if all the things you're saying, seem to run counter to that. So, why is this even out there? And what impact is that having?

PANJABI: Yes. So, it's really important to clarify. Direct contact with the skin lesions is one of the easiest ways of contracting the disease. When people have sex, there is more direct contact. And so, it is not a sexually-transmitted disease, even though it can be transmitted through sex. But it also can be transmitted just through touch.

Currently, the outbreak, in several countries, has been reported amongst certain demographics, of the population, who have had more intimate partner contact. You mentioned the festival, for instance. But that is - we're early in the outbreak.

COATES: What demographic are you talking about?

PANJABI: And it's really important--

COATES: What demographic are you talking about?


PANJABI: Well, it has been - yes, it has been - it has been identified, as people who self-identify as men, who have sex with men, or in the gay community.

But it's really, really important. Because, we've seen this, with other infectious diseases, like HIV. This is early in the outbreak. It's where we've seen current clusters, of infections. But it does not mean that this is a disease, confined just to that community.

Again, anyone who has direct contact, with the skin lesions, and anyone who has had direct contact, through sex, with the skin lesions, again, someone who's been infected, is at risk, whether you are gay or not gay.

COATES: I'm really glad that you've addressed this point. Because, there's always a concern, about a stigma, being associated. I know, you lead with empathy. But the idea of the stigma can have dire consequences, as well--


COATES: --if that is presumed there to be a causal connection, here. When you think about that stigma, are you seeing how many instances--

PANJABI: Well, Laura, I started - and I started my career, as an HIV doctor. And I-- COATES: OK.

PANJABI: I started my career as an HIV doctor. I know exactly what you mean. And that is really, really critical.

COATES: Well, you said it here, and we all should know now that there are - the causal connection, is not there, and that the idea of how to treat and cure, we're still on the, really, origins of figuring out what to do next.

Dr. Raj Panjabi, thank you so much. I appreciate your time, and for addressing, what I hope, will not be on the horizon, for stigma purposes, as well. Thank you.

PANJABI: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: Well, less than three months, after Russia invaded Ukraine, the first war crimes trial, is already over, ending in a conviction, today, for this Russian soldier. While Vladimir Putin's actions seem clear, there are many questions, about how this case, may have been handled. And we're going to examine them, next.



COATES: A life sentence, in the first war crimes trial, of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, by them. Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty, to shooting a 62-year-old civilian. That shooting happened on the fourth day of the conflict. And here we are, nearly three months later.

And Ukraine's Chief Prosecutor says the 21-year-old won't be the last Russian, to stand trial, for suspected war crimes.


IRYNA VENEDIKTOVA, UKRAINE'S CHIEF PROSECUTOR: For today, more than 13,000 cases only about war crimes. And now, we have first sentence. What - it's not enough. It's only beginning.


COATES: Well, a few know, the unique aspects, of this area of law, better than my next guest.

Robert Goldman, I want to thank you, for joining me, today. Because, we talked about this before, and what's been happening, in this trial.

You've been pretty outspoken, at the idea of how surprising, the timing of this trial is that it's happening, right now, during the middle of the conflict - or that I don't know what time it is in the conflict. But, at some point, during the conflict.


COATES: Why is that so unique here?

GOLDMAN: Because, ordinarily, conditions are not conducive, to the gathering of evidence. When you really think about ongoing hostilities, and the gathering of evidence, it's just not that easy.

I mean, a lot of credit has to go to the Ukrainian prosecution team. And now, we have international prosecutors that is from the Prosecutor's Office, from the International Criminal Court, who are also in Ukraine, gathering evidence.

But that raises questions, also, about the wisdom of conducting trials, in the midst of an ongoing armed conflict, particularly one which as it looks, is going to be rather protracted, in time.

One aspect I want to point out, today, which I found somewhat unusual, as you mentioned? He was indicted, tried, and convicted, of a single count of a war crime, of intentionally murdering, in essence, an individual.

But in sentencing him, the court, characterized his crime, as a crime against peace, humanity, and security. And that was not what he was charged with.

In essence, what they're talking about is the crime of aggression, which you cannot really charge a foot soldier with. This is a charge that should be brought, against Vladimir Putin, and the high command, who planned and executed this war.

COATES: But is there a jurisdiction for that of Vladimir Putin?

GOLDMAN: And this may very well have played--

COATES: Is there a jurisdiction to do that, in this court with that - I mean, you've spoken about a military tribunal is what is expected in a war crime trial.

GOLDMAN: Well, in absentia. But the point is - I understand your point. But the problem is, what it makes it look like, is that this kid has become the vessel, in which you pour the totality of crimes, if you will, that have been committed.

In my view, it should have been limited, to the specific thing, and the language should have been that he was found guilty. There could have been a sentence from as little as 10, up to life imprisonment.

Now, I note that his defense lawyer, today, said they are going to file an appeal. He has 30 days. And he implied that if things don't go well, they're going to go to the European Court of Human Rights.

COATES: Well thinking of that notion though, I know--

GOLDMAN: So, as I said, the--

COATES: --Robert, there have been people.

GOLDMAN: Yes. COATES: I would - real quickly, if I can get to this. We keep calling this a trial. But he's already pleaded guilty. There wasn't the sort of protracted trial, or process, even of a lengthy period of time.


COATES: Do you - are you concerned about the guilty plea, as well?

GOLDMAN: Well, I don't know - look, all I know, is probably, like you, Laura, the information that is coming out, by reliable reporting.


And I still don't know the conditions, under which he pled guilty. Did he have his lawyer present, at the time? Did he know the full implications of what he was pleading to?

I have concerns that, from what I have seen, what the defense attorney was arguing, there were other plausible arguments that certainly could have mitigated, against punishment, certainly life imprisonment, had those been argued. So, we don't know the full circumstance.

COATES: I see.

GOLDMAN: But when you think five-day trial, basically, on something as serious as this, with the guilty plea?


GOLDMAN: And given that the Geneva Conventions are very categorical, on this issue, of no coercion?


GOLDMAN: I'm not saying there was.

COATES: Well there's still a lot to--

GOLDMAN: But this guy's in a very vulnerable position.

COATES: He certainly is. And we're going to talk more about this, Robert Goldman. There is this, essentially, as the Chief Prosecutor said, "This is just the beginning."

We'll be right back.


COATES: Thanks for watching. I'll be back, on Wednesday.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts, right now.

Hey, Don Lemon?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Wait a minute. I'll be back on Wednesday, too. But that's only because I'm burning the midnight oil!