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CNN TONIGHT: Jury In Alex Jones Trial Awards $45 Million More To Sandy Hook Parents; President Biden Notches Wins On Jobs Report, Gas Prices, Legislation And Fighting Terror; Phil Mickelson And 10 Other Golfers On Saudi-Backed LIV Series File Antitrust Lawsuit Against PGA Tour. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 05, 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 (voice-over): More and more officers arrive, but no one makes a move, to neutralize the shooter. Though, clearly, some officers know time is of the essence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to get in there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: BPS is setting up people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to get in there. He's keep shooting. We got to get in there.
COOPER (voice-over): And it's clear police know where the gunman is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, guys. He's armed. He's under (ph) the building. We have him contained. He's going to be on the building, on the (BLEEP) property.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: You could watch the AC 360 Special Report "WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN UVALDE?" Sunday, 8 PM Eastern, here, on CNN.
The news continues, of course. So, let's hand it over to the great Laura Coates and "CNN TONIGHT."
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Aw! Thank you. From the great Jim Sciutto! That's nice of you to say. Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
COATES: And thank you, everyone.
I'm Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.
Look, we've all been waiting, to see what lies might cost, eventually. You already know what they can actually cost a family, maybe a country, maybe a democracy, the toll, the human misery.
But the question for a Texas jury, today, was what it should cause conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones. We now have our answer. Nearly $50 million.
Now recall, Jones was already ordered to pay, more than $4 million in what's called compensatory damages, just yesterday. That, to the parents of a beautiful 6-year-old child, a little boy killed in the 2012 attack.
But today, they added $45.2 million, on top of that, awarded in punitive or the punishment side of damages. Why? For spewing lies that have caused unthinkable harm, to one family, of many families, destroyed by the Sandy Hook massacre. $50 million!
And that's just one case. He has two more defamation trials awaiting him. So, this is really far from over, for the far-right conspiratorial host of InfoWars.
This has really been a case that's centered around lies. And throughout this trial, it felt like so many additional lies, kept getting exposed, like those texts that Jones said he never sent, didn't know where they were, never existed, all of a sudden surfacing, in the inbox, of the lawyers, for the other side, after his own lawyers, reportedly, accidentally hit "Send."
Was he caught, yet again, today, in even more lies? Remember, earlier this week, he was begging, for mercy, to a jury, saying this very thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX JONES, HOST, THE ALEX JONES SHOW: Any compensation above $2 million will sink us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: "Will sink us."
Now, he awarded - he argued an award, of more than $2 million, would put him in financial ruin. And then, last night, still trying to paint himself as some kind of a pauper, he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: $4.2 million, now that's more money than my company, and I personally have.
I don't have all these millions of dollars, they claim I have.
Hundreds of millions of dollars, we don't have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Well, that's fascinating, because an economist, who testified, in his trial today, well, he begged to differ about what the "We" was, in this scenario. He went through, methodically, all the forensics, of Jones' finances, and estimated to the jury that not only does Jones have $4.2 million, he may have a net worth of as much as $270 million.
So, where is all that money? Well, this economist argued that Jones tries to hide his wealth, with personal loans and shell companies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNARD PETTINGILL, JR., ECONOMIST: The way that the shell company would apply, in this case is, is an internal set of affiliates that Alex Jones set up.
I think, Alex Jones knows where the money is. He knows where that money went. And he knows that he's going to eventually benefit by that money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: He actually listed nine companies that Jones controls. Now, look at all of them, on the screen, there, nine companies.
Now, this financial expert, who is testifying, also said that last year, the year that Jones was found liable, for his default, for his very harmful behavior, he started moving $11,000 a day, into one of his companies, and then withdrew $62 million, as well. You heard me right, he withdrew $62 million!
So, would more than $2 million really put Jones in a place of financial ruin, if he actually has $270 million, somehow, according to that witness, stashed in different places? Well, as of today, he's about to be poorer.
Reaction now, from a high-profile attorney, who works on defamation cases.
Ken Turkel was an attorney, for Sarah Palin, in her libel suit, against The New York Times and, also, for Hulk Hogan, in his privacy lawsuit, against Gawker.
Ken, nice to see you, here, this evening.
The last time we spoke, we were talking about the Sarah Palin case. And here we are, with Alex Jones.
And I just wonder when you hear the amounts of money that are being talked about? I mean, compensatory damages, $4.1 million? The idea of now the exponent of that very amount, nearly $50 million, for the punitive side as well? Are you thinking, one, will this stick? And two, what is the trend that's being set?
KEN TURKEL, TRIAL LAWYER SPECIALIZING IN REPUTATION PRIVACY CASES, ATTORNEY FOR HULK HOGAN IN GAWKER CASE, ATTORNEY FOR SARAH PALIN AGAINST THE NEW YORK TIMES: Good evening, Laura. And thanks for having me back. So, these cases, generally, are what I call outrage cases. And the conduct in them is usually very aggressive offensive type conduct.
And, in that respect, juries can - it happened in Hogan, where we got an emotional distress award of $60 million. And our punitive $60 million - then our punitive award was only $25 million, because at that time, Gawker's represented net worth was, I think, $150 million, or whatever, and the law would have bankrupted them.
You can't - most states will have a law that says punitives cannot be used to bankrupt a company, which is why there's the discussion of net worth.
The numbers don't offend me. Whether they hold up, becomes a byproduct of Texas law, where they're trying it. And that usually is going to be somewhat well-established state law, on the relationship punitives bear to the compensatory award.
So, you get a compensatory award of $4 million or $4.1 million. I thought, I saw $4.1 million. A kind of - I don't want to say default standard, but you'll often see punitives shouldn't be more than three times the compensatory award. But there, again, there are exceptions to that.
The numbers do not offend me. They hear the numbers thrown around by a net worth analyst, a forensic accountant, they hear hundreds of millions. And this is the province we give the jury to punish for conduct.
COATES: On that notion though--
TURKEL: So, they can be runaway--
COATES: Well on that notion, I want to dig into that because you're calling it the outrage cases. And I think, it absolutely, it sparks outrage, to think about the level of defamation which, of course, he was found to be liable for, but also the duration, the extent of it.
I note that his attorney wanted them to sort of calculate it, from the idea of, I think, it was like $14,000 an hour, for every single hour, he talked about it, to the tune of about a quarter of a million dollars. That was the thought. Obviously, they far exceeded that very notion.
But on the idea of greater outrage, you have an opinion, about the idea of how these outrage cases continue to be in the headlines, and maybe setting perhaps a difficult precedent, in the future. What's your thought?
TURKEL: I wouldn't call the precedent, difficult. I think what we're seeing? We're in August, right now. We've seen three high-profile national-level speech privacy cases. Hogan was a privacy case, as you correctly stated, but with a speech defense.
These other ones, today, they characterized this as a defamation case. When I looked at the default judgment, it's the default was on an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.
I don't know that I'd call the trend, difficult, or disturbing. I think what I would call it is the byproduct of this technology, we have, where information is traveling at speeds we never anticipated, before, and being disseminated, so broadly, we just haven't accounted for in the law. So, juries are taking that mantle. They're accounting for it.
COATES: Literally, accounting for it, in these very notions, and the idea--
TURKEL: Yes, yes.
COATES: --you mentioned different cases, of course.
But, for many, this case is even broader. I mean, obviously, it's about the tragedy of what happened in Sandy Hook. And it relates to the parents of this little boy, and the personal lawsuit that's involved here.
But broadly, people are talking about this case, in the context of how one punishes disinformation, lies, how they punish and hold accountable, when it's time to pay the piper.
We've seen really, that train has left the station, in so many respects, about people feeling emboldened, to continue to say things, to make and turn $1, on what they're doing, and what they're saying, to their advantage, whether it's political or otherwise.
When you look at it from that context, do you see a reason why this was the tipping point?
TURKEL: I've thought about it a lot. And I had a perspective on this case that was outside of the vacuum of this case, right?
If you remember, we talked about Depp-Heard, and my constant refrain was, "This isn't a speech case." I went back and looked at it. And I still don't know that the speech was actionable.
This case to be felt more like an intentional infliction case, which was the default. And what, in some respects, I don't get into metrics, when I argue these, trying to, this many false statements, this many offensive comments, times this amount.
You get a sense that there's an anger and a rage. And I think I'll use two examples, for instance, in Hogan.
People identified with the idea that the privacy rights being a threat in an internet age, in other words, the idea that by participating on these platforms, we somehow are being construed as giving up our privacy, is not going to work.
And they were outraged at the idea that they couldn't use social media, and things like that, to visit with friends, whatever, without getting this argument from a Gawker that "We were just using the First Amendment, to publish speech," et cetera, right? And I really think that resonated.
A case, like this, you're seeing a pushback, to the idea that this new type of journalism, that basically, you can do it on a grand scale, like in InfoWars, but you can also do it with a computer, an internet connection and an attitude.
And we just haven't - we haven't developed jurisprudence, we haven't developed laws that are meant to compensate beyond these common law claims. And so, when I say outrage, I think, it's people say, "Wait a minute. Do we want to be in this society, right? We want to punish this. We want to make it, 'No, we don't like this.'"
TURKEL: Or the next question becomes, when is it entertainment? When is it journalist? And when are we going to do something about Section 230, to get this under control, because, you have to apply this.
You can't just say, "Extreme right wing conduct is going to create this." But does the analysis become any different, if it's extreme left-wing conduct, right?
COATES: Well, Ken, I think that's a great question. And I'm going to--
TURKEL: We're still dealing with this.
COATES: --I'm going to turn that to our panel, because, I think that's a really important point to think about, the idea of, and is this really a Left-Right issue, or a right-wrong issue, when it comes to this, and the idea of the law catching up, as you have said, to what actually happens.
Ken Turkel, thank you so much.
TURKEL: Laura, thanks, nice talking to you again.
COATES: For me, too.
And for more, on the political and legal aspects, of this case, I want to bring in Abby Finkenauer, Elliot Williams, and Alice Stewart.
And also, we just got new audio, from Scarlett Lewis, who was the mother of Jesse Lewis, about what she was thinking, as she was testifying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARLETT LEWIS, MOTHER OF JESSE LEWIS: You know, when I got up on the witness stand, and I looked at Alex, I thought about Jesse. You know I had been so nervous, I think that was obvious before I faced Alex.
But once I looked into his eyes, I realized that's exactly what Jesse did to the shooter that came into his first grade classroom after just having murdered his principal, and guidance counselor, and he stood up to his, the bully and - Adam Lanza - and saved nine of his classmates lives.
And I hope that I did that incredible courage, justice, when I was able to confront Alex Jones, who is also a bully, and I hope that that inspires other people to do the same in their own lives. We all have the capacity for the courage that Jesse showed, and sometimes it does take courage to choose love, but we all have that capacity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Wow! I mean, that's just amazing to think about the idea of standing up to a bully, and thinking about how to see it through what her son, last saw, before the tragedy.
I want to turn to our panel now, because that's - it's really heavy to think about. And it's very difficult to even conceptualize, as we see the mass shootings, and school shootings, in particular, we can't look at this in a vacuum at all.
And nor can we look at the idea of disinformation, and lies, and profiteering off of that in a vacuum. This - what is happening in the outrage that our guest spoke about, is even broader than what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, right?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Laura, this past semester, I was a Fellow, at Georgetown, at the Institute of Politics. And I used to tell the students, every single week, "Now there is this blurry line between fake news and reality, and this idea that the guy posting craziness, and lies, on Facebook, or Infowars, is actually a real news source."
The most beautiful line, today, in the closing argument was that speech is free, but lies, you pay for.
ABBY FINKENAUER, (D) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE - IOWA: Yes.
WILLIAMS: And you ought to pay for lies. And hopefully, what happened today will be a deterrent, to these liars, and conspiracy peddlers, on the internet, who are spewing this stuff, and people are buying it.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER TED CRUZ COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: And that was an important point that the attorney made, for these parents was, as - we have the freedom of speech. We can speak, and that's the great thing about this country. But when you spread lies and misinformation? There's punishments for that.
And what we're seeing now, this is a first, I think, a very important step, in monetizing misinformation.
STEWART: When you put out misinformation and lies, there are monetary consequences for this. And Alex Jones is finding out very abruptly, that this is what the consequences are for his actions.
And Ken made an interesting point about the difference between the vast difference between the compensatory damage and the punitive damage. And he says he's not upset by this. The punitive damages, today, were much greater than what was handed down, yesterday.
STEWART: But when we know that Alex Jones has a worth of $270 million? I'm not upset by a $50 million punishment.
FINKENAUER: No. And to your point, Laura, I don't think this is about Right or Left. It is about right and wrong. And you can have your opinions. But you aren't entitled to your own facts, to then go terrorize, and take advantage of people, and grift off of lies and misinformation.
And that, again, I think is why this is so monumental. And I think there should be a lot of folks, around the country, paying attention, to what is happening, here, and making sure that they understand the difference, as well.
COATES: It strikes me too. And you all touched this point. I mean, I remember, beginning my career, as a media lawyer--
COATES: --and sort of vetting sort of comments that were being made, and thinking to myself about, how you have media networks, et cetera, who are talking about the First Amendment. And we know how people misuse that.
Everyone, your mother telling you to shut up has not violated the First Amendment for you.
COATES: It's not what's happening. And I would know, because I hear it often from my beautiful mother to stop talking to me.
But the idea here of people like an Alex Jones, or people, who are saying, "Oh, I'm a journalist, because I've said something, and people responded to it. That's enough. And I want the protections, of the media, without any of the requirements of journalistic integrity?" That's also a lesson here, right, that people have to think about what are the consequences?
But will this actually put sort of the fear of the judicial gods (ph) in people?
WILLIAMS: I don't know, and I don't think so. Because when we think about the First Amendment, and talk about the First Amendment, set aside the fact that it was written, however, many hundred years ago. The law, as it developed was for newspapers, in print and television, and not being able to click a button, and post lies, around the world.
And Ken said this, in his comments, before. It's just a different world, in terms of the ability to disseminate information. How's that going to affect how people proceed on the internet? I don't know. But look, $50 million is a lot of money.
STEWART: And when he put out this misinformation, and wrong information, about these shootings?
COATES: And lies.
STEWART: And lies.
WILLIAMS: And lies, yes.
STEWART: And lies about these - this young child? He not only was shot by this person. He stood up and protected his friends, and he was a hero, in this situation.
STEWART: And for Alex Jones, to dismiss it, is really disgusting. But for him to put out this, all of these lies, time after time, and finally be held accountable?
What you two know, in the court, in law, if you're found guilty of something, and you show some semblance of remorse? There's a slight bit of leniency, when it comes to sentencing or damages.
He's shown no remorse, no regret, no - no even idea that he wanted to pull back on this information. What he's done is he has taken this as an opportunity to sell products and make even more money on this.
I tortured myself to go to InfoWars, tonight, to see what kind of stuff they have on there. And they are talking about how this is harmful to him, and how this is a kind of a witch-hunt, against him, and going against him for speaking out. And they are making money off this, selling these snake-oil products, on that site. I'm just surprised there are people that are still buying into this nonsense.
COATES: I'll tell you, on that point, Alice, it's a really good point about what's - how you're monetizing it.
And - but also, for anyone, who says that this is just about a kind of censorship, and trying to attack someone, who's in the right-wing? He has spewed a great many conspiracy theories, over the course of his career. This is the straw that didn't just break the camel's back. This is where the law and the rubber met the road.
And so, it's not about silencing him, entirely. It's about when you violated a law, or violated the notion of intentional infliction of emotional distress? That's why he got dinged. No one telling him to stop every other time.
But, on that note, everyone stick around. I'm going to get more into this. And some good news, on this Friday! Jobs! Jobs! Like, you get a job! And you get a job! Oprah-style jobs! I've always wanted to do them. Jobs! Jobs! It was cars, right?
STEWART: Cars. I'll take it apart.
COATES: All right, well, you get a job! And you get a job! And you get a job!
FINKENAUER: Electric cars.
COATES: More than expected job growth completely blowing away economists' predictions. Should he be getting more credit, especially after this very big week of victories? We'll debate it, next, and my Oprah impersonation.
COATES: Well, what a week for President Biden! It was over, today and, of course, what's going on.
It's been an incredible time, in the jobs reports, as well, and the numbers, the U.S. economy adding over a half a million jobs, just last month, which more than doubled expectations.
The world's most wanted terrorist killed in a CIA drone strike that Biden authorized. The Democrats' climate and tax bill, back on track, after Senator Sinema gave the green light. And gas prices down for more than 50 straight days.
This is called a string of wins, for the President, who's been battling very low poll numbers
Let's talk about it now, with Abby Finkenauer, Harry Enten is with us now, and also Alice Stewart.
I'm so glad you're all here.
Abby, we'll start with you. I mean, do you think this is going to change the trajectory or the thoughts about Democrats maybe being able to maintain the majority?
FINKENAUER: Look, I think, this week, in particular, when you saw, what happened, in Kansas, the turnout, people paying attention, the hope that we felt again, and then to see the jobs numbers come out?
I'll also say this. President Biden has gotten more done, than would - definitely more than our last president, and more than most other presidents have, at this point, in time, in his tenure.
I mean something that we keep losing sight of too, and I don't think it's talked about enough? How incredible it was that he got infrastructure done, when he did.
I think that's also a piece of why we have the economy hanging on the way that it is, and actually now not just hanging on, but doing well, and soaring. And seeing the job numbers, where they're at, the unemployment being the lowest, it's been in 50 yours?
He deserves credit for that. His administration deserves credit for that. And I think it's something that again we just need to continue to push forward, here, and see what happens next.
COATES: And yet, I wonder, Harry, do the poll numbers reflect that credit that she thinks is due?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I mean, it depends which polls you look at, right? I can always give you a poll that tells you what you want to hear, right? But I've been - look?
COATES: Give us that one, OK.
ENTEN: Exactly, you know?
COATES: Or the other one.
ENTEN: You know it. Look, the president is still unpopular, right? Perhaps he's gotten a little bit of a bounce, right? He was not at the lowest level he is. He's gotten a little bit of bounce, over the last few weeks. He was at like, 37 percent. Now he's at like, 39 percent. I guess 39 percent is better than 37 percent, right?
But the one thing we have certainly seen, over the past few months, is that congressional Democrats have seen their poll numbers improve. We've seen on the generic ballot, you know?
ENTEN: A few months ago, the Republicans were up by 3 points. Now that generic ballot is even.
And I'd be honest with you. I'm much more used to the fact of seeing a congressional ballot come and meet the President's approval rating. But instead, it's going the other way, where instead of the congressional ballot becoming worse, for Democrats, it's becoming better. So, I think, it just depends which polling metric you look at.
STEWART: If I can say? I applaud Abby's optimism. And this has been a good day, for the Biden administration. It's been a pretty good week, with regard to some successes.
But this comes on the heels of what we had last week. We have historic inflation. We have the second quarter of GDP, at a rise, which is by textbook definition, a recession. We still have high gas - grocery prices, home prices, interest rates.
FINKENAUER: But not gas prices.
STEWART: Not gas prices, I'll give you that. I'll give you that. FINKENAUER: I want you to know (ph).
STEWART: But we also have to see what's the - what are the Feds going to do with these jobs numbers, how's that going to impact what they do, in terms of interest rates.
I am encouraged by the numbers we're seeing today. But I still see the fact we are in a recession. And it's not turning around. And the policies that they are putting in place are not helping.
This Manchin-Schumer proposal that Sinema has signed off on, the Inflation Recovery Act? That is a tax-and-spend policy. It is the last thing we need, when we're in an inflationary period.
FINKENAUER: I don't know--
STEWART: And when we get down to November, and if this passes?
FINKENAUER: --I don't know about that. Wait.
STEWART: This isn't - this is not going to be a win-win for people--
FINKENAUER: Look, you know?
STEWART: --across this country.
FINKENAUER: We know it's going to be a win for people across this country, and everyday Americans, when you've got Big Pharma coming out wanting to spend millions of dollars trying to stop people for voting for it.
It is a win, for the American people. And it is a win, for folks, struggling to pay for their prescription drugs, choosing between groceries, and being able to get the life-saving medication that they need.
That is going to be though up to Democrats to go out and talk about what they did, and make sure that it's getting in front of people, because this is huge.
Actually, seeing these wins, whether it is on gun violence reform, whether it is on prescription drugs, whether it's infrastructure, again, I think one of the biggest reasons, we are going to continue to see a bounce, here, is because there is real investment that's going to continue to be made, across these communities, all across this country.
ENTEN: I would just call the economy, confusing, perfectly. And, as you know, I try and put together these formulas, right, to try and predict how the midterms are going to go. You tell me the last election, which unemployment was the lowest it's been since 1969, while inflation is the highest it's been since the early 1980s.
ENTEN: And I think that the American people are trying to figure it out for themselves. And they're getting mixed signals, as you're saying, last week, we're talking about high inflation, real disposable income dropping from a year ago. And this week, we're talking about record low unemployment. It's just confusing.
COATES: I don't know. I mean, think about it, in politics, they say, the person talking about the past is losing, except that seems to be the trend, right now, in one party. We'll talk more about this in a moment. Everyone stick around.
Because ahead, a big development, in the ongoing fight, to bring basketball star, and human being, an American citizen, Brittney Griner home, from Russia, where she was just sentenced to nine years, following a politically-charged trial.
A potential breakthrough, could that be next? We'll talk about it.
COATES: All right, so Russia is now ready to talk prisoner swaps, according to its Foreign Minister. This comes just a day after Brittney Griner, was convicted, in a Russian court, of drug smuggling, and sentenced to nine and a half years, in a penal colony.
But the U.S. is hoping to get Griner and, another American, Paul Whelan, out of Russia, by swapping them, for convicted Russian arms trafficker, Viktor Bout, also known as the "Merchant of Death."
So, why does Russia want Bout back so badly? And what exactly will happen to Griner, while negotiations are playing out?
Former CIA Chief of Russian Operations, Steve Hall, joins me now.
Steve, my first question, when I think about this entire scenario, a day after hearing the sentence is, what is a penal colony, exactly, compared to what we're expecting or thinking of in an American prison?
There's a lot being talked about what it might be like, for Brittney Griner, in particular, to be in a Russian jail, Russian prison, let alone a penal colony. What will this look like?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Yes, Laura, the penal colonies, and the entire incarceration system, in Russia, is extremely dangerous, to all human life. I mean, it's most comparable to the gulag, sort of like gulag- light. And I think any Russian, who survives that type of incarceration, is fortunate.
But an American, who doesn't have the language skills, necessarily, who doesn't understand the system, as well, and certainly, because they're an American, not a good time to be incarcerated in Russia? It's not going to be good. I don't know how many people have died, from tuberculosis, for example, other communicable diseases, in these prisons. I mean, it's downright horrible.
COATES: And I have the sound, from Trevor Reed, who you know, was obviously released earlier this year, in a different exchange. He had this to say about why that particular person, Brittney Griner, why this might be all the more harsh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREVOR REED, AMERICAN FORMERLY HELD IN RUSSIA: Anyone, who is in a forced labor camp, in Russia, is obviously, you know, facing serious threats, to their health, because of malnutrition.
There's little to no medical attention there whatsoever. Tuberculosis runs rampant in Russian prisons. You know, there's diseases that they have there in Russia which are largely extinct in the United States now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Will her race, and the fact that she is openly a lesbian, be added to the problems she faces there?
HALL: Yes, it's she - Brittney Griner, is, I think, for Vladimir Putin, sort of, a combination, symbolically, almost, if you will, of all the things that he hates about, about the United States.
So first of all, she's an American. And because of Ukraine, and because of a whole lot of other things, Vladimir Putin just doesn't like Americans.
She's African-American. Putin is a racist. There's a tremendously large racism problem, inside of Russia. So, that's an issue.
Openly gay? Vladimir Putin has said he finds openly gay people disgusting.
And she's a professional athlete. You have to remember that not too many years ago, the Russians were - the Russian national team was banned, from competition, from the Olympics, the largest athletic stage. So, he has an American athlete, who is - who he's accusing of using marijuana, but when his own teams were expelled from the Olympics, because of drug use?
It all comes together in Brittney Griner. And that does not - it's not going to make it any easier for her at all.
COATES: It's also the conversation about not only her, but Paul Whelan, and Viktor Bout.
And this has, I mean, many people have talked about, including the former President spoke about, over the weekend, the idea of what is perceived as the imbalance, here, in terms of the crimes that Viktor Bout has been convicted up here in the States, and that which Brittney Griner is now convicted of, and of course, Paul Whelan.
Tell me about Viktor Bout, and the idea of why would it be that this is the person that Russia wants so badly? And if they want him so badly, why are they slow to negotiate and get this done?
HALL: So, first of all, it's important to realize there is absolutely no moral equivalency, between a guy like Viktor Bout, and either Brittney Griner, or Paul Whelan.
Paul Whelan was set up in a fake Intelligence operation. He was not involved in the Intelligence operation. Griner, we don't know - we don't exactly know because you can never know what the evidence is against people in Russia, because there's no rule of law.
Viktor Bout, on the other hand, was convicted of attempting to, kill American citizens. He's a well-known arms dealer.
But the thing about the Russians are, is that they don't - while, they don't have rule of law, they have these formalities. And so, one of the things they're very big on is something they refer to as reciprocity.
So, if we got two Americans, in a Russian jail, and we're saying, "Here's Viktor Bout, a much worse guy," they're going to say "Yes, Viktor Bout, and who else, so that we can get the even, two plus two."
The reason that they're so concerned - one of the reasons that they're so concerned about Viktor Bout, is because, in my assessment, he probably has ties to the GRU, the Russian military intelligence. He went to several schools to learn languages that basically sort of feed into the GRU. His activities indicate that he's had contacts.
The Russians are very big about trying to make sure that Russians, who have assisted their intelligence services, or are members of their intelligence services, are taken care of.
So, if you're in jail, the Russians want you to know, as a Russian spy, "Don't worry. We're going to get you out. It might take some time. But we're going to get you out." So, they're sending a message by trying to get Viktor Bout out that others are also going to be gotten out.
COATES: Steve Hall, thank you so much for the context. It's so important to see where we are, right now. Appreciate it.
COATES: Well now, to a ruling, expected soon, on whether police can continue using get this, keyword search warrants. That means using your online searches against you in a court of law. It will be one of the first editions of their constitutionality. I mean, the growing controversy is up next.
[21:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COATES: So, here's a question. You ever wonder, who might have access, to what someone, or you, are Googling?
Pay attention to this, a new case, out of Colorado that tests the limits of the law, when it comes to the reach of technology. I'm talking about what's called so-called keyword search warrant. It's where a police officer can get a warrant, for a company, like Google, to hand over everyone, who searched for a certain keyword.
Now, in the new post-Roe era, one fear is that it could include people in states that banned abortion, maybe search for an out-of-state provider, or abortion-inducing drugs.
Now, the theoretical isn't that far from reality. Detectives, in Denver, got one of these keyword warrants, forcing Google, to turn over everyone, who searched for a certain address, in the days, before a fire. A family of five died, in that fire, which turned out to be arson.
My next guest is challenging the constitutionality of the warrant that was used, in that Denver case.
Michael Price, thanks for joining me, this evening.
This is, for many people, Michael, bit stunning, to think about the prospect of a keyword search warrant. And yet, we often think about, in the backdrop of violent crimes, and shootings, and those that have sort of manifestos, how they're searching things. And so, it seems to cut both ways.
You represent a client, who is challenging the idea of being able to have these warrants. Why?
MICHAEL PRICE, ATTORNEY FOR GAVIN SEYMOUR, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS: Thanks for having me, Laura.
These warrants are not like regular search warrants. They're the exact opposite way, the way that normal search warrants work.
Usually, investigators have a suspect. They develop probable cause. They go to a court, and they get a warrant, to say, search that person's house.
Here, what you have is police saying that they'd like to do the digital equivalent, of searching everybody's house, and figure out who the suspect is, later.
That's not the way that warrants work. It's not the way that the Fourth Amendment works. In fact, it's the digital equivalent of a general warrant, the very thing that the Constitution was designed to protect against.
[21:45:00] COATES: Is this though, to think about how it's being used? Obviously, technology, and the way, in which you can solve, or investigate crimes, has been expanded by the very notion of how people may be committing crimes, allegedly.
And so, in this notion, isn't it the equivalent of almost looking, and working backwards, and then still having to have information, to substantiate their claims? You can't just convict somebody, necessarily, on the idea of a general warrant. But why not permit the authorities, the opportunity, to narrow down their suspects, using technology?
PRICE: So, these are called reverse warrants for a reason. It's, instead of developing a suspect, and making a case, and saying, "Hey, Google, tell us who did the crime? Can you please search through billions of people's search history, to give us a lead?"
Every time one of these warrants are executed, it searches not just one person or people in one state, but everybody who has done a Google search, whether you're logged in or not. It's a massive digital dragnet. And the implications for privacy are broad and deep.
COATES: I understand that. And, of course, I think there are concerns that many people have, Michael, about that notion, of that digital dragnet. However, they are sort of triangulating other factors, right? It's not as if you can meet a burden of proof. I know, as a prosecutor, on that notion alone.
But is the idea of having to do even more than that? You ask Google for the information, you have this warrant, then you have to narrow down, by other factors, and cross reference, does that push it closer to, in your mind, to not violating the Fourth Amendment, which is against unreasonable searches and seizures? That triangulation?
PRICE: So, in our legal context, probable cause has to be tied to an individual. It's not enough to just say "A crime occurred. So, let me just go searching. And I'll tell you who I think did it afterwards." It might be an effective way, of solving a crime, but it's not a constitutional way of solving a crime.
And the idea that there doesn't need to be a suspect, ahead of time, that the police can just go on a massive fishing expedition, to see if anybody pops up, is really antithetical to our entire system of justice. The issue here is that the police had no probable cause, they had no idea, who committed the crime, until they went to Google.
COATES: This will be a really interesting case, I hope people are sticking by, and thinking about what's happening here, because it does have really broad-reaching implications. Obviously, from post-Roe, to the case you're talking about as well, and what it means to generate a lead, or the methodical practice, of investigating.
Michael Price, thank you so much.
PRICE: Thank you. COATES: Phil Mickelson and other pro golfers are suing the PGA, over their suspensions, for being a part of the Saudi-backed LIV series. Are they being unlawfully punished, or not? Next.
COATES: Phil Mickelson, and 10 other golfers, who have played for LIV Golf are now suing the PGA, saying the Association is trying to protect its monopoly, on professional golf, by unfairly controlling its players.
Now, the golfers want to play in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, starting next week. But the PGA suspended them, for playing, in the controversial LIV series, funded by Saudi Arabia.
I'm joined now by the great CNN Sports Analyst, and USA Today Sports Columnist, Christine Brennan.
Glad to have you back, on this story, Christine, because look, next week, the tournaments supposed to start. They're saying "PGA, this isn't about what you think about, in terms of the LIV Golf tournaments. It's about you wanting to be in control."
How do you see it?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: I think, Laura that we are watching golf, spontaneously combust, men's golf. Literally, a civil war is going on. And this is a sport that could implode in on itself.
This staid Country Club Sport of men's golf and women's golf too, for that matter, mostly old White guys and rich White guys, whatever? They are now at war. And it is - it's absolutely fascinating. For golf fans, I think, it's infuriating and confusing. And it may well affect the fan interest, in the sport.
Tiger Woods is certainly on the way out. And TV ratings have gone down without Tiger. Phil Mickelson, as you, of course, referred to, is part of this lawsuit. He's 52-years-old, and is playing some of his worst golf ever. And, golf is really at a crossroads and, really, in trouble, as they fight it out.
Obviously, the issue, of course, is these athletes, independent contractors, do they have the right to move around, and play, wherever they want? We will find out what a court or what a judge says eventually. But, in the meantime, the collateral damage, for this revered game, is really something to behold.
COATES: That's a fascinating thought, because I remember, and you and I have talked about this in the past, when politics and football intersected, or politics and basketball intersected.
And there was a - there was collateral damage, in terms of fan interest. There were calls for boycotts, in some aspects, of things. There were, the idea of "Can't we just have anything in sports as true escapism, and why do it?"
This though, puts cold water on the idea of "No, no, no, you're not going to be able to escape the controversy of that intersection." I mean, Saudi Arabia, MBS, the fist-bumps, seen around the world, the idea of whether you can still play, in the PGA? I mean, that's part of this, the idea of trying to, for some fans, possibly, and the players, wanting to escape politics.
BRENNAN: Oh, totally. This is bringing everything home, all the dirty laundry, as you said, Laura.
It's everything that sports fans don't want to have to deal with, and especially golf fans. I mean, these are often well-to-do people. They want their Sunday afternoon, to watch Tiger, win the Masters, or Tiger playing the Masters, to Philip win the Masters. And now, the real world has crashed in, and it's fascinating.
I mean, Phil Mickelson, and these other LIV golfers? I've been very critical of the LIV Tour, as you know, Saudi blood money, MBS, the killing of and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, all of this is put into play here. But they left the PGA Tour. Now, they're suing to come back to the PGA Tour.
It has really rankled a lot of their good friends, and their buddies, their pals, their playing partners, who are still on the PGA Tour, saying, "What are you doing? You left. Now, you want to come back? How dare you do that?"
So, it is extraordinary, to see what we would consider, as I said, a staid, calm game, the Country Club Sport, the sport of ladies and gentlemen, in complete civil war, with these athletes, and really at each other's throats.
COATES: Well, you know, what they say? The grass is always greener. But so then is greed! Christine Brennan - actually, I just made that up. You can quote me, sometime. That's a really good quote! Take a note! That's a good one, everyone!
Thank you so much, Christine Brennan. Have a great weekend.
BRENNAN: And to you.
COATES: We'll see you soon.
BRENNAN: You too, Laura. Thank you.
COATES: And hey, coming up, a $45 million judgment against Alex Jones. Will it stop the lies that built him an empire? Right back.