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CNN TONIGHT: Prosecutors Preparing For Court Battle To Force Former Trump White House Officials To Testify; Biden Dismisses Recession Fears As Inflation Plagues Americans; Trump Defends Hosting Saudi-Backed Golf Tour: "Nobody's Gotten To The Bottom Of 9/11". Aired 9-10p ET
Aired July 28, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: There is more rain in the forecast.
Obviously, continue to follow the story, and the people that stayed, are in our thoughts, and in our prayers, tonight, and in the days ahead.
The news continues. Want to hand it over to Laura Coates and CNN TONIGHT.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson. Those images really are devastating. I'm so glad that we're continuing to cover, and hope everyone will be safe.
I am Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.
Federal prosecutors taking aim, directly, at Donald Trump's own words, and deeds. The proof? The aggressive court fights, they're gearing up for, and who might be trying to hide behind privilege. So, for those of you who thought that all the privilege issues had been resolved? Think again!
CNN has exclusive reporting, tonight that the DOJ is prepping for a kind of constitutional showdown, over whether there is, in fact, any applicable privilege that could possibly shield the former President, or any of his former officials. About what? Their communications, with him, when he was the president.
Now, the Department, they want to take the muzzle off, of course. And keep in mind, when two former Pence aides, testified, to the federal grand jury, there have been a deal that had already been negotiated, in advance, to try to steer clear of any of their direct interactions with Trump. That happened through the same approach we've seen used by the House Select Committee.
But the fact that the DOJ is sort of dotting their I's and crossing their T's, and preparing for a court battle, over a potential executive privilege issue, signals that if information is what you want, the negotiation approach, let alone the muzzle, isn't going to cut it.
Now remember, concerns about privilege are believed to be why they chose not to pursue any contempt of Congress charges, against say, a Mark Meadows, or a Dan Scavino, as opposed to, of course, a Steve Bannon, and Navarro.
But, at the same time, the Department has now green-lit all of the access to the House Select committee's transcripts. That's more than about a thousand witnesses, I might add. And in the words of Chairman Bennie Thompson, no one the committee has talked to is off limits.
Now that list is about to include some household names, including some with potential political futures. These witnesses have unique insight into the chaos of the administration, of course, after the Capitol was attacked.
And today, it was former acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney. Now, at the time, he had been serving overseas. But he has certainly not been shy about what he saw, as a dysfunctional executive branch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING WH CHIEF OF STAFF UNDER TRUMP: The West Wing was broken. It was not functioning properly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: And the committee is really moving on up the totem pole, from assistants, to some of the highest positions, in government.
They've interviewed Trump's Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, who was one of only four cabinet secretaries, to serve for the entire Trump administration. We know that former Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, is in talks, as is former acting Homeland Security Secretary, Chad Wolf, and former Secretary of State, and potential 2024 candidate, Mike Pompeo, who had this to say, on Fox.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: As I always did, when I was in service, to America, I'm happy to cooperate with things that are fair and transparent, and deliver good outcomes, to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Of course, seconds later, he added this part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: It's been a monkey court.
It's been a circus.
It's been totally unfair. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: So, cooperate? No? Talk? No? Not entirely clear as of yet. Hopefully, the committee has an answer.
We know that one of the topics the committee wants to learn more about is just how serious the Cabinet members were, about trying to remove Trump from power, by way of the 25th Amendment, which we know, from sworn testimony, Pompeo was worried enough to give Mark Meadows, a heads-up, about the prospect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WH CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: Mr. Pompeo reached out to have the conversation with Mr. Meadows in case he hadn't heard the discussions amongst cabinet secretaries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Now, as we know, in the words of Sean Hannity's own text messages, quote, "Yes, impeachment and 25th Amendment are real."
Now politically, let's just say, it's never a good look, when your highest profile supporters are talking about whether two more weeks of you being in office poses a threat to the country, and it's 14 days too long.
And folks like Mike Pompeo see the same polls that we do, where a majority of Republicans, well, they now want someone other than Trump, in 2024. Seems to be opening a bit of the floodgates. And, of course, Steve Bannon just showed what happened when you refuse to cooperate with the committee.
I want to talk about this with former federal prosecutor, Shan Wu, former Democratic senator, Doug Jones, and former RNC Communications Director, Doug Heye.
All of you had the former, but you're all presently here. I'm sorry. It was like "Former! Former! Former!" You're all currently experts, at all these topics.
I had to ask you, Shan, when you hear about their privilege issues, more broadly, I mean, it's a bit more nuanced, right? It's not just who might have the privilege. Biden says he's not going to assert the privilege, here. But they're kind of figuring out, "Is this a fight, we can win, if we go there?" Is it smart?
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's smart to figure that out. And really, this is a role that A.G. Garland was born to do. He's a Federal Court of Appeals judge, really, for most of his career. So, he's a good guy, to lead DOJ, into this type of legal fight. That's the good news.
I think the bad news is it's still going to take a while, anywhere between months, to maybe even longer. Trump's people want to play this out through the district court, Court of Appeals, and then, of course, going to the Supreme Court, where we can have a big long talk, about which way that's going to go, depending on the votes. I--
COATES: I mean, yes, you're at the intersection of obviously, of being a former prosecutor, and also a member of Congress, and the idea of that you've had the wheels of justice turning?
DOUG JONES, (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Right.
COATES: But you have the bureaucratic wheels, turning them back, sometimes, and being slow and contemplative, but almost to the point of paralysis. And I wonder what you make of the timing of that contemplation?
JONES: Well, I think that clearly Shan's right about the fact that they're going to play the old equivalent of Dean Smith's four corner offense, at North Carolina.
DOUG HEYE, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RNC, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR REP. ERIC CANTOR: That's my alma mater.
JONES: Exactly. OK. So, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Run the clock out, score as little as you can, run the clock out, score enough to win. That's what this is all about, for them. I don't think that they really have much of a legal standing.
And remember, this is not the January 6th committee, where the remedy is contempt, and a misdemeanor, even if it is, from a misdemeanor, and held it - kind of froze over, for Steve Bannon.
This is a more of a contempt of a grand jury subpoena. This is going to be much more serious. They can hold them in jail, until they purge themselves of the contempt, if that's the case.
I think this is a delaying tactic. And I agree with Shan, exactly. This is the kind of thing that they have been preparing for. They knew it was coming. They have got their legal briefs, all ready to go.
JONES: As soon as it happens.
COATES: But so are the people who, I'm sure - and obviously, we're talking a lot about the former President, Donald Trump.
But there are a lot of people, who want to be the next Republican president, who are watching this, I'm sure you can imagine, and thinking to themselves, "All right. How can I make this inure to my benefit? How do I make sure that while they're running off the clock, to have the privilege issues, I'm ramping up my ability to be the next viable candidate?"
HEYE: Yes. Well, you do two things simultaneously, if you can. You do what you have to, and you do what you want to, and you hope to. And so, what you see Mike Pompeo talking about is, "I'll participate in anything," because he has to do what he has to. But he also wants to do what he wants to, as a potential candidate, which is to then criticize the process, and so forth.
I would say, when Mike Pompeo was a member of Congress, he was one of the members, who voted to hold Eric - Eric--
HEYE: --Holder in contempt, on the guns issue, and Fast and Furious.
And the point for Republicans doing that is when Congress asks for something, the answer is yes. And it's yes, as quickly as possible. And so, for those, in the Trump administration, who have defied that, they do so, at their own peril. Some of whom have gotten away with it, but a lot of whom may not.
COATES: We're also getting really close, though, to Donald Trump. I mean, before it was Cassidy Hutchinson, and there was the discussion of "I don't know who this person is," right, the idea of "Who is this person you speak of?"
Then you've got the idea of, "Well, it's this person. It's the chief aide of Mike Pence." Now it's Pompeo. It's Mick Mulvaney. It's Mnuchin. You've heard of them. None of whom are coffee boys, right? But the idea here - well, they might be. I don't know. Maybe they're chai latte people. I don't know what they're into, or what they've done, for the President.
But they're getting closer and closer here, Shan. Does that tell you something about the focus of the federal prosecutors now?
WU: I think it tells us that the focus is where it's supposed to be. I don't know if we can make the jump. I've heard some people talking about that, now we can say there's an investigation open on Trump.
I mean, I would assume these questions, about Trump, would have been asked, from folks, who were in the grand jury, where they answered a different question. It's just that we're hearing for the first time the confirmation that they were asking about Trump.
So, I don't think we're quite there yet. Nor would Garland be in a rush to say, "We're investigating the former President." But they're certainly asking the right questions. And I think you can see how nervous Trump is, because it seems like it may be accelerating his intentions, to announce his candidacy.
COATES: Is the 25th Amendment, really, I mean, the right focus? Because, on the one hand, Doug, you think to yourself, "All right, look, that shows a matter of the absence of capacity that people were urging to try to remove him, or thought about it."
But if you're the DOJ, you're thinking about intent, and you need the certain state of mind, to suggest they knew what they were doing. So, the 25th Amendment is actually more likely be about the notion of this person was not upholding their oath, any longer. Is that the right focus?
JONES: Well, I think it can be. I mean, remember, we don't know what they might say. We don't know what was going on in there. And we just saw January 6th, and that riot, that insurrection, where Police officers died, one woman was shot, it was unbelievable of violence.
We don't know these - these folks, these are cabinet - they're responsible people. They may be afraid that there would be more violence, in the coming days, more violence at the Inauguration. They may have been very worried about this.
And it's not just the state of mind. But it might have been the only way that they could prevent that violence, or do something, at the time. So, we just don't know, because we don't know what those comments were.
But I can't imagine there will be a privilege that anybody can exert, between a conversation, with Mike Pompeo, and Steve Mnuchin. I just--
JONES: --I have never - that's just beyond the pale, I think.
COATES: But is it a feather in their cap, politically, to not even be called in? I mean, you heard, for example, Josh Hawley, saying he doesn't regret anything, to our own Manu Raju, about the fist bump in the air--
COATES: --and that "Thank you for the campaign financing or funding this is giving me." Is this a feather in the cap, for somebody, who's a 2024 Republican prospect, to say, "All right, I'll come in and talk to you."
HEYE: Sure, if you're all Trump all the time, you can benefit either way.
If you say, "I'll come in and talk to you," and then you thumb your nose, either to a grand jury, good luck with that, by the way, or certainly the January 6th committee? You can benefit from that.
If you stall, you might be able to benefit as well. But you then would have to be in a position where you have some privilege issues.
And one thing we should remember, what we've seen, so often, in these January 6th hearings, is the committee knows more than we do.
HEYE: So now we need to see does the grand jury know more than we do? Does Georgia know more than we do? And that's going to be what plays out, I think, over the coming years.
JONES: And they know more than those witnesses do too.
JONES: And so, yes, it could go either way. But it could also go really bad.
COATES: Either way, we'll be watching and following along.
Shan Wu, thank you.
The Dougs, extra title, the Dougs will stick around with us here.
And so, the question really is, not for them, but for the powers that be, are we in a recession or not? I mean, you got the President, the Fed Chief, and a lot of economists saying "No." But what about your bank account, and your monthly statements, what are they telling you? We'll dive into the R-word, next.
Plus, Democrats are furious, and some Republicans are frustrated. And sick veterans could be the ones to pay the price, because a bill, to help them, suddenly hit a giant wall of D.C. dysfunction!
COATES: Confirmation of the painful reality, successive quarters, of the economy, going in the wrong direction.
The President's trying to put a positive spin, and well he's arguing semantics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have a record job market of - record unemployment of 3.6 percent, today. We've created 9 million new jobs so far, just since I've become President.
Businesses are investing in America at record rates.
That doesn't sound like a recession to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Well, he's not alone. The Fed Chair said the same thing, just yesterday. But does it really matter what you call it, especially for anybody struggling to put food, on their table?
Millions of families are now facing this new reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I spent close to $400, and it wasn't even hardly on much meat, because meat is so high. It was just like bread, juice and stuff for my kids, snacks. It was ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to make a decision whether or not you're going to pay your rent, or go buy some food.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: When the cost of just about everything is going up, and back- to-school time is here, for many, there's no way of spinning the bill, at checkout.
We've got Doug Jones, and Doug Heye. They're with me. But let's bring in Jeff Stein, the White House Economics Reporter, for The Washington Post.
We're all going to have like a Wimbledon (ph) stare at you, right now, as we all look for you, to give us the expertise. Because look, tomato-tomahto.
They're saying it's not a recession. But does that technical definition, which is cited by what, eight economists, in the world - in the country, does that really ring true for people? Is it true, we're not really in one? Or are we talking about semantics?
JEFF STEIN, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMICS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: So, the White House is correct that, at some level, two negative quarters of GDP growth does not necessarily mean that we're in recession.
The NBER, which you alluded to, which declares these things, looks at a range of statistics, many of which are still positive. Unemployment, as the President alluded to.
But to your fundamental point, so much of the economy, so much of economic policy, is psychological, in nature. We see someone else on our block, maybe the two Dougs pulling back investment, pulling back spending, and maybe that affects what we do.
And so, over the next few months, what is very scary is the possibility that the gains that we've made, coming out of COVID, over the last year, could be erased, could go backwards.
And we had a really bad sign of that today. Investment, which is normally the first thing to go in a downturn, we saw a really big decline, a cratering, really, of residential investment, which means the housing market is starting to pull back, which is very scary.
We saw a slight decline, in business investment, which is also scary. Consumption from consumers, just average people, they also pulled back, not as dramatically, but in a way that's scary.
And the fact that we have low unemployment is a buffer. But how long that buffer lasts and how meaningful it is? We'll have to see.
COATES: I mean are you - I wonder, can you course-correct? I mean, the idea of thinking about, if it's psychological, and the idea of how one feels, I mean, oftentimes policy decisions are driven by how you perceive, your constituents are going to feel about an issue.
You've got this Inflation Reduction Act, from Senator Manchin and Senator Schumer. And I'm wondering will that, in your minds, bring this down? I mean, will it sort of align the feelings of the electorate, and those, who are consumers, with what's actually in the bill?
JONES: I think it's going to help, clearly. I mean, you've got a big bill. Democrats have been looking to lower the cost of prescription drugs, for a long, long time, particularly allowing Medicare to negotiate those prices. You've got climate issues.
As Jeff said it, a lot of this is psychological. So, these wins like this will help. It will help, when people go to the gas pump, and they see the price down $0.60, or so, over the last five weeks or six weeks.
And they're pulling back, on a lot of consumer spending, but it's also on consumer goods. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, I don't think, for the economy. It's that old supply and demand that's really hurt us a little bit.
So, I'm not as bearish, on all this, as most people are. I know that people are suffering, and that they are going to continue for a little bit. But I think that there's light at the end of the tunnel.
I think the policies that are being put in place, with this bill, and the things that the Administration done in the past, is helping. And I think people will recognize that. And that's what they want. They want to know somebody is working for them. And I think that that's a key.
COATES: Well, the question, I mean, helping, it seems relative, right? I mean, you're telling me, I'm going to spend no longer, at least, in California, you're spending $7 or $8 a dozen of eggs, which is, for those of you who actually go shopping, still, me, right here? That's a very high price. And the idea of maybe now it's $6? Still not going to be good, if it's helpful, right?
Is that going to be part of psychology here?
HEYE: Yes, I think it's part of the challenge for the Biden administration, and the bearishness is the politics of this, and the disconnect that this administration has in its rhetoric, and how they're trying to explain things, versus what people are feeling.
So, we use the R-word. Last year, they were using the T-word that this is transitory. And folks, in America, don't use the word, transitory, when they're talking about the price of their eggs, a gallon of gas, a gallon of milk, whatever it may be. And that's the emotional part of this, for Americans, who are still really struggling.
And Biden usually is our Empathizer-in-Chief. He's always been very good at this. And this administration has really struggled here. And it partly explains why so much of the country is disapproving of his presidency, and feels we're on the wrong track.
COATES: Yes. STEIN: I think part of the real problem here, just to put the politics aside, for a second, is, economically, what the Federal Reserve is doing, right, is raising interest rates, which makes borrowing more expensive, which sucks demand out of the economy.
But the inflation that you guys are talking about that we've been talking about is in part caused, especially since the war of Ukraine, by short-term supply and commodity shocks.
So, the tools that the Federal Reserve and the Central Bank have, to deal with higher inflation, really are targeting demand, which has been supercharged over the last year. But over 50 percent, of the increase of inflation, recently, has been due to commodity shocks, from the war, in Ukraine.
And so, you have what, I think, is a potentially devastating combination of demand being crushed, in attempt to deal with inflation. But the tool that's being used, to crush that demand, is not going to deal with the supply issue that's causing the bulk of the problem, right now.
COATES: So what else can be done? What else should be happening? I mean, these are two unprecedented bumps in, as many months, essentially. We've got more, in September, coming out their policy meeting.
But in that meantime, people are suffering. They were told, initially, by President Biden, "Patience would be the key."
The invasion into Ukraine, a global humanitarian crisis, with the breadbasket of Europe now being impacted, deals being made? I mean, look at Africa, and the famine is going to be coming, from what's lost there.
But the patience factor, how does that weigh in? We're talking about the economy. I mean, it's one thing to have the esoteric debates between the eight economists. Then, there's the reality for Americans. Is patience really the request?
STEIN: So, what the White House will tell you, and I think this is worth crediting, because I think it's true, Americans' bank accounts, consumer spending, a lot of economic indicators, not just the unemployment rate, are a lot better than they were before COVID.
And the White House will say, I think, correctly, that our economic policies really helped ensure that we didn't have the same situation, after the 2008 recession, millions of people stayed unemployed for far too long, there was great horrific scarring.
That said, over the last year, people have really felt like they're losing ground. Because even if people are doing better than they were, before COVID started? Since the last year, they've really been suffering.
And, to get to your point, the problem we're facing, right now, and that, you ask how do we deal with this? And I ask economists this, all day, and they don't know.
Because normally, when we have a downturn, the tools we use, cut interest rates, expand, increase federal spending, give people cash? That goes against the inflation imperative that they're fighting against, right? So, the normal toolkit has been thrown out the window, to deal with this. And that's part of the reason why this is so scary.
COATES: And what else is scary? I mean, taking away from the economy, for a moment. The fact that a lot of people are looking at Washington, D.C., to solve problems. And when we're on the cusp of solving a problem, sometimes, politics takes right off the table.
The Burn Pits legislation, for example.
COATES: I mean, you had some gains. It was snatched right back. A month ago, it was overwhelmingly bipartisan. Republicans were supporting it. Yesterday? "Forget about it!"
JONES: Yes. They were - Republicans were not only supporting it, they were touting it. They were talking about how proud they were, to be able to do this, for our veterans, because they have given so much.
And now, because they're pouting, literally, they're pouting, they're acting like school kids, and taking their marbles, and talking about--
COATES: Pouting about what? Why would--
JONES: They're pouting because McConnell - I mean, I'm sorry, Schumer and Manchin came up with this deal, and they think they got played. They may have. They may have. I mean, this was not an agreement in principle, yesterday. There was a 720-page bill that was introduced at this announcement.
McConnell had wanted to hold the CHIPS bill that is going to protect us from China, hostage, so that he wouldn't get this reconciliation bill. Well, it didn't look like you're going to get reconciliation. So they went - the CHIPS bill was passed.
The minute it got passed? They come up with this. And now, they pull back. 86 senators voted for that Burn Pits. I was a co-sponsor of that. It is important. It is now the number one issue for all of the Military and the Veterans groups.
And 86 senators, 36 Republicans voted for it. And now, 41 decide, "Oh, no, no, no. We're going to punish the Democrats for working on climate change, for reducing prescription drugs, for doing all the things that are necessary. We think we got played. So, we're going to try to punish them by punishing the veterans."
COATES: Only they're playing the veterans.
JONES: They're playing the veterans. COATES: And they're playing - I mean, you--
JONES: It's awful.
COATES: You, Doug, worked on a PR portion of a bill, not included--
COATES: --in the Burn Pits, we want to disclose. But, I mean, this is the tactic? I mean--
COATES: --veterans as political pawns?
HEYE: Yes, I worked on the Camp Lejeune groundwater issue--
JONES: Yes, which is a big deal.
HEYE: --which just got tucked into the bill--
HEYE: --which is also an important bipartisan--
JONES: Big deal
HEYE: Look, I think, when we see these kinds of politics happen, what often happens is everybody gets outraged, for a few days, rightfully so, quite often. And then there's a pullback. And I'd be surprised if we're still talking about this issue being held hostage, certainly in the next week and a half or, coming out of the August recess.
It should be passed. The majority, in both houses, support it, of both parties. So, we should get it done. But these are the politics, unfortunately, that happen quite often. They fortunately tend to be short-term.
JONES: And that's - but it's why Congress is in such low esteem.
HEYE: Absolutely, yes.
JONES: Even though a short term, they're got the lowest approval ratings, of any government agency, at this point.
COATES: Well you know who ought to have the highest?
JONES: Government, yes.
COATES: Those, who are willing to, put their lives, on the line, for the country.
Jeff Stein, Doug Jones, and Doug Heye, thank you so much.
Look, Russia might be trying to bring back the Cold War. But it's already brought back the cold shoulder, and giving it to Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. So, why isn't Moscow jumping on the chance, to get the Merchant of Death back?
I'll ask his lawyer, next.
COATES: So, after weeks of silence, Russia has finally responded to the Biden administration's prisoner swap proposal. Wait for it. "We'll get back to you," something along those particular lines.
A spokesperson, for Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, says that he'll pay attention to the U.S. State Department's request, for talks, when, quote, "Time permits."
Well, meanwhile, time is of the essence, for Americans, Brittney Griner, and Paul Whelan, who remain locked up, in a Russian prison. Now, Biden proposes, swapping them, for convicted Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, a.k.a., the Merchant of Death.
So, will Russia agree? Well, first, they got to pick up the phone, right?
Here to weigh in, Bout's attorney, Steve Zissou.
Thank you for being here, today.
I'm looking at this, and hearing, and you almost got to paraphrase, "I'm going to pay attention, when time permits," you have to wonder, why the lack of response?
And does it worry you? Obviously, your client is one of the people, whose name is being mentioned. Are they essentially blowing off your client as well? Is he no longer as important as they once said he was?
STEVE ZISSOU, VIKTOR BOUT'S ATTORNEY: Well, first, thanks for having me, Ms. Coates, a pleasure to be here, and be able to speak, on behalf of Mr. Bout.
Look, I don't think this is anything more than what the Russians, and the Foreign Ministry have been saying, for some time, now, which is "We're going to wait until the judicial process, in Ms. Griner's case, concludes. When it's over - we're not going to interfere with the judicial process. We're going to let it happen. And when it's over, we'll figure out what to do next."
So, I don't think this minimizes their interest in getting Viktor home. They've been clear about that for, well, frankly, for more than a decade. He's been in jail for almost 15 years. He's ready to go home. They're ready to bring him back. But they do have a judicial process, there. And that's what they've said.
And I should say, Ms. Coates, they've been saying that, and they've done that, with other cases, in the past. They wait until the judicial process is over. And then, they figure out what they're going to do next.
COATES: Well, it's true. They have said they had a process. But the thing is, for the very reason you talk about, 10 years or 15 years in prison, why isn't there a fire lit under them, to try to get the deal?
I mean, there's Paul Whelan, at the very least, not including Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan has already had his case fully adjudicated. He, of course, professes his innocence, to this very day.
Have there been conversations prior to even Brittney Griner's arrest, and now trial that would have included your client, in a prisoner swap?
ZISSOU: Well, look, there have been lots of proposals.
But the reality is, I think, Paul Whelan presents a difficult issue, for the folks, in Russia because, as you know, he was convicted of espionage. Here, he is viewed as a hostage. But, in Moscow, he's viewed as a notorious arms dealer. Whereas here in the U.S., Viktor is viewed as a notorious arms dealer, in Moscow, he's a respected citizen, who's a hostage.
So, I think this is nothing more than the Foreign Ministry saying, "Look, we understand your proposal. We'll get to it. We're looking forward to talking to you about it."
But look, I think, some of the things are counterproductive. I think, while I understand and understood the motivations, for Secretary Blinken, going public, with this kind of a thing is just the opposite kind of approach you want to take, when you're dealing with the Russian government, right?
Again, I understand that the President wanted to communicate to the families that he was doing everything, in his power, as President of the United States, to get them home. Look, we all know that's the most important obligation, of the president, is to protect its citizens. I think Joe Biden has done a great job doing that.
But, at same time, look, you've got to let it play out a little bit, and you got - really want to avoid making these public comments that again the Russian Foreign Ministry, and spokesman, have been saying, "Hey, look, the more you're talking about this, the more complicated you're making it."
COATES: But why is that? I mean the idea of certainly, there were concerns, early on, in the arrest of Brittney Griner, many people thought and reacted. But why are they just now hearing about this? She had been detained for many weeks, by the time the American public more generally knew about it.
The concern, I believe, was in part, we understand that they didn't want to have it be a political pawn, and a game, happening, right before, and during, the invasion, into Ukraine.
But I wonder when it comes to essentially explaining that there has been a proposal, does it in a way give Russia an upper hand, to suggest that, "Hey, look, we can sort of be dismissive, or delay, and not be urgent, to show a power dynamic that's upper and above the United States," is why would it be so detrimental to actually make it public?
ZISSOU: Well, yes, I mean, look, if you're asking me, whether or not they're feeling a little slighted, by the non-stop discussions, of Americans, in Russian jails, being hostages, and being wrongly held and wrongfully detained? Yes, I think, I'm not surprised that they're a little bit offended.
Because, it's a constant attack, on the Russian system, "Russian trials are unfair. But U.S. trials are fair. And Russian folks here get what they - get what they deserve." It's the opposite there.
You're thinking about it, from the point of view, of an American, and what we get fed with here. But the reality is there's a different point of view.
It's not just the State Department, mind you, who had been quiet about it. But remember, politicians are out there, all the time, talking about how terrible it is in Russia, and how we've got to free these hostages.
Look, even in your piece, the other day, which was, from an unnamed source, talking about how we - we don't - "We don't want to trade these innocent Americans, for these terrible Russians." It's just an insult. That's not the way it's viewed there.
And so, if you want to make this kind of a thing happen, you really got to keep your mouth shut, and keep the - tone the rhetoric down.
COATES: Well, I'm so glad that you did watch the program. But the word I used was "Parity," Steve.
I mean, on that particular notion, about the wrongfully-detained, as was described by the State Department? Part of the concern, I think, for many people, in discussing, these issues, has been about, and I understand the rhetoric, on both sides, from the notion of who is the bigger criminal.
The parity issue, in terms of prisoner swaps, as you can imagine, is often about incentivizing, for foreign nations, whether it's Russia, or other nations--
COATES: --believing that there's going to be a viable swap, the more prestige, the particular defendant has.
I want to know from you, though, Steve, have you spoken to your client? Is your client optimistic about the potential to be released?
ZISSOU: Well, Viktor Bout is always optimistic. He's very strong, man. He's very well-read, very knowledgeable.
But unfortunately, the way the prison is, where he is held, he's in a communication monitoring unit, we can only get a message to him, every 48 hours or 72 hours. And not - sometimes, it takes days to get messages there.
He will not allow an interview. He would have loved to have been on your show tonight, with me. But the U.S. government Bureau of Prisons will not permit him any interviews, with any reporters, whatsoever. They turn him down, routinely.
So look, he's strong. He's strong-willed. He's ready. He's been through it, for almost 15 years, now. Remember, he was targeted, retired Russian citizen, living in Moscow, had never done anything, to harm the United States, when the U.S. government, the Drug Enforcement Agency, target him, in this sting operation.
Mind you now, this is a Russian citizen, and a respected Russian citizen, who had committed no crime, targeted by the DEA, and then prosecuted, in the Southern District of New York, which, and frankly, for - never even stepped foot, in the United States.
As you know, the Southern District, is small, one of 94 federal districts, in the country, decided that without thinking, what the consequences would be, of targeting Viktor Bout, they did it, just simply because they did. And the--
COATES: Well, Steve, there's no need to litigate it with me. And here's the reason. A jury disagreed. He was convicted. He is now serving time. The question now will be will he be released?
We look forward to talking to you again. Thank you, Steve.
ZISSOU: Well, thank you very much. It was pleasure to be here.
COATES: Thank you.
Donald Trump was already getting slammed, for hosting a Saudi-backed tournament, at his golf club. But what he said about it, today, might be one of his most mind-boggling comments, yet.
Christine Brennan joins us next.
COATES: Tonight, words you probably never thought, you'd hear from a former American president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say to those family members, who protested, earlier this week, and will be doing so, again, on Friday?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, nobody's gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately, and they should have, as to the maniacs that did that horrible thing, to our city, to our country, to the world. So, nobody's really been there.
But I can tell you that there are a lot of really great people that are out here, today, and we're going to have a lot of fun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Nobody's gotten to the bottom of September 11th?
Trump is now responding to 9/11 families, who have been critical, of his support, for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tournament, which kicks off, tomorrow, at his New Jersey Sports Club.
Let's discuss now, with CNN Sports Analyst, and USA TODAY Sports Columnist, Christine Brennan. She's been following this event.
In fact, you were at the event, and part, as well. First of all, give us a little bit of background here. I'm hearing a lot about the LIV Golf Association. Tell me how this started, and is it pulling in PGA players more and more?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: It's getting more players. Most of them are has-beens, older players, basically want to kick back, "Laura, I don't want to work as hard anymore."
It's all about the money. It's hundreds of millions of dollars that's being thrown at some of these golfers. The biggest name is Phil Mickelson. Dustin Johnson is another name maybe people will know.
But most of these players are veterans. Most of them have seen their best days. They're not the top players, in golf, anymore. Tiger Woods said, no way. Rory McIlroy, no way, on and on it goes.
But it is Saudi-backed. It is - the money is MBS. It's Mohammed bin Salman, of course, is linked to, and officials have said, ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, in 2018, the murder and dismemberment.
And so, basically, what I've written, and said, is that these players, who have decided, to jump, to LIV Golf, which is mostly an exhibition, three rounds, no cut, not at all competitive, the way we're used to seeing Tiger Woods? They're taking blood money. They're taking money from the Saudi Investment Fund, run by MBS, MBS, of course, linked to Khashoggi and then, of course, you also link them to the 9/11.
COATES: Have they compartmentalized? And that's quite a statement to make. But have they thought, and outspoken, about the idea of the compartmentalizing? Have they spoken about the politics, the optics, the socio-political structure, in a place, like Saudi Arabia?
BRENNAN: We're talking about golfers, here, and we're talking about athletes, who just want to play golf.
I have asked. I asked at the U.S. Open, up in Boston, in June. I just was, as you mentioned, I was at Bedminster, yesterday, asking them specific questions.
My questions have been about the 9/11 families, "Not what you'd say, to us, as journalists? What would you say to them," to Phil Mickelson. He cut me off. And he basically said he has - had a lot of empathy, for the families. That was it, very bristling. Not at all the Phil Mickelson, the gregarious guy that we used to see, angry, upset, snippy, whatever. That was, Phil, to me, back in June.
Yesterday, with a golfer, a Ryder Cup veteran, named Paul Casey, I asked him, now that he has this forum, and he has the ear of MBS, would he work, on women's rights which, of course, are horrendous, in Saudi Arabia and, even worse, gay rights, LGBTQ rights.
And, in both cases, basically, Paul Casey talked about a 17-year-old girl that he had played golf with. That was his answer about the women's issue. Sportswashing 101! And then, when I followed up about gay rights, he said, "I don't know enough about the topic to talk about it."
BRENNAN: He's 45-years-old. He's travelled around the world.
So, these guys have already got the playbook. They've already got the script. And the Saudis are loving it, because they're getting exactly what they want, from them. Sportswashing, from big names, in the game.
COATES: And now you have a former President, making a statement about not being able to get to the bottom of 9/11. Really unbelievable!
Christine Brennan, glad you're here. Thank you so much.
BRENNAN: Thank you, Laura.
COATES: Well, it's an outrageous fortune! I'm talking about a billion bucks and change. You've probably seen the Mega Millions, called maybe billions jackpot. It's snowballing, this week.
Winning the lottery can make you rich, but can it make you happy? I'll ask a guy, who knows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(VIDEO - (I'VE GOT A) GOLDEN TICKET SONG - WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY - TM & WARNER BROS./1971) I never dreamed that I would climb Over the moon in ecstasy But nevertheless It's there that I'm Shortly about to be
'Cause I've got a golden ticket
I've got a golden chance To make my way
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Great! Stuck in my head, now, this song, and I now want Chocolate! Wonderful! You can buy all the candy you can stomach, if you get the golden ticket. Well guess what? Winning numbers for the Mega Millions might be the next way to do it.
The jackpot is $1.1 billion. But before you buy your ticket, we'll listen to my next guest's advice. Timothy Schultz was 21-years-old, when he won the $28 million Powerball, back in 1999. He's now the host of a podcast called "Lottery, Dreams and Fortune."
Good to have you on, Timothy.
The idea of winning that amount of money, at that particular age, give me the advice you'd give someone, today, who might just win this huge lottery.
TIMOTHY SCHULTZ, LOTTERY WINNER IN 1999, HOST, "LOTTERY, DREAMS + FORTUNE" PODCAST: Well, I would say, buckle up, because it can be one of the most life-altering, surreal things that can possibly happen to someone.
And I would also say, once the exhilaration of winning wears off, it's - my advice would be to relax, and sit back, and find some financial advisers, and figure out, learn, understand, what you can do, with the money. And once you have an understanding of that, sit back and enjoy life. I mean, but it can be a whirlwind, it can really turn life on its head.
COATES: Timothy, we rehearsed, you saying, "Also the advice would be to give Laura Coates, part of the money." I'm not sure why you did not include that, in your statement, just now. But we'll work on the next opportunity, we talk about this.
But you know what? Look, there is no (ph) such thing as the lottery curse. We've seen the headlines, right, people who won the lottery? Then they, something awful happen, to their lives, in some form or fashion. I mean, did it ever impact your life, negatively, in some way? And how do you think it can?
SCHULTZ: Well, for myself, I did receive letters, and people coming out of the woodwork, way back in the day. And it's still like it can go on. But it's been mostly positive.
But, I interview quite a few lottery winners, other lottery winners, and I know my own experiences, and the experiences of other people. And, I think, it really matters, who surrounds you, who your peers are, where you come from, and of course, how much you win. All of these things factor into whether it's a positive or negative experience for your life.
And, I think, if you win the lottery, then it really magnifies, it tends to magnify your personality. So, I've met a lot of people that have won the lottery. And, I know, from my own experience, that it tends to make you a larger version of yourself, for most of the people that I've met.
COATES: Has it--
SCHULTZ: So if you're really into sports cars? Oh, go ahead.
COATES: No. I was going to say, has it changed the way you even perceive money? I mean, that amount, maybe a larger-than-life it might do, for your personality, whatever was already within you. But I mean, does it change you? $28 million, at the age of 21, at the age of 71, that's a huge sum of money. Did it change the way you sort of had a perception about money?
SCHULTZ: It did, actually. It absolutely did. I mean, when I won, as you mentioned, I was 21-years-old. I was a college student, working at a gas station, trying to just put myself through college. And I wasn't on the street. But I definitely wasn't wealthy. And so, I didn't really have an understanding of that kind of money.
And I feel as if one of the things that has changed is a perception that money can really buy time, which can be very, very positive. I mean, of course, you can buy all these material possessions.
But I think time is invaluable, for people, not - if you can pursue your passions, which you don't need to win the lottery, to pursue your passions. You absolutely don't. 99.9 percent of anyone that's achieved their dreams has not won the lottery. But it can help buy some time.
SCHULTZ: And I think that's invaluable.
COATES: I think it's like the Arthur Ashe quote. "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can," at any amount.
Thank you, Timothy Schultz. We'll see who ultimately wins this, and whether they'll join your podcast, next, to talk about their winnings, in particular.
We'll be right back, everyone.
COATES: Well that's it for us.
"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.
Hey, Don Lemon?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: "Hey, Don Lemon?" You know? It's going to sound weird. You sound like my sister does that she goes "Hey, Don Lemon. How are you?" And there you are.