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CNN TONIGHT: President Biden Announces Student Loan Forgiveness Plan; Uvalde School Board Votes Unanimously To Fire Police Chief; WAPO: National Archives Asked For Records In 2021 After Trump Lawyer Agreed They Should Be Returned. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 24, 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: Those ripples can then be translated into sound, or a remix, as NASA has called it, previously. It is remarkable!
The news continues. Let's hand it over to Laura Coates and CNN TONIGHT.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: I believe that's exactly how I thought a black hole would sound! I don't know why. But I feel like, if I had to think about it--
COOPER: It's true.
COATES: --either that or like the Charlie Brown parents. But that's pretty amazing. That might be my new--
COOPER: Wah Wa Wa Wah Wa!
COATES: Wah Wa Wah! See? He was on to something. Got to think about the Minnesotan. Thank you, Charles Schulz.
Anderson, thank you so much.
I'm Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.
And look, something, well it's shifted, not exactly how sure, and how much that actually has been the case. But we've written the political rollercoaster enough, to know that no one knows for sure what's going to happen, in the November midterms.
But remember, that big red Republican wave that so many political soothsayers were predicting? Well, if last night's primary results were any indication, we might have some clues that look, that may not hit so hard after all.
Here's the first clue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT RYAN, (D) U.S. HOUSE NOMINEE: We've been watching a little news coverage on the - on the edge of our seat.
(AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
RYAN: I - I honestly can't believe it. I cannot believe it.
(AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Well, that's Democrat Pat Ryan. He apparently surprised himself that he won a special election, against a Republican in a New York swing district that many expected to swing toward the GOP.
After all, Biden only won the district by what, a point and a half, in 2020? And we all know that when it comes to midterm elections, if past is prologue, the party in the Oval Office doesn't really get the benefit of the spoils.
And that leads us to clue number two. I'll let Pat Ryan explain that one, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: I think these Supreme Court decisions, especially, on both guns, and on Roe, or Dobbs, I should say, struck a real nerve that's much deeper than some of the other issues, people are experiencing, and kind of hit guardrails of democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: We saw that in other place as well, right? I mean, this was the fourth special election, post Dobbs, or post the overturning of Roe v. Wade. It's also the fourth in a row, where Democrats have actually improved their margins, over Biden's numbers, back in 2020.
Now, let's be honest, and we can keep in mind, a special election, on its own, is not going to be entirely instructive, or tell us exactly everything, about the political environment. But may be grouped together, you might begin to tell a bit of a story. Now, we don't know actually how this story is going to end. But there seems to be a trend.
Look at clue number three. The President still can't be happy, of course, with his low approval ratings, or almost going down the way he's coming out of that particular aircraft.
But Joe Biden's got some of his mojo back, as they say, winning a string of legislative victories, like the CHIPS bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, the burn pits bill, and a major gun safety bill. Inflation, it is easing. And gas prices, they are coming down. The world's most wanted terrorist has now been killed.
And that brings us to today's major announcement, from the President of the United States that the federal government is going to forgive $10,000, in student loans, for most borrowers, upwards of $20,000, for others. And that means some relief for some 43 million people. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: All this means people can start - finally crawl out from under that mountain of debt to get on top of their rent and their utilities. To finally think about buying a home or starting a family or starting a business. And, by the way, when this happens, the whole economy is better off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Well, that might be the case. But look, not everyone's been cheering. I mean, some on the Left say "Great," but it doesn't go nearly far enough, not what they wanted, in terms of an overall forgiveness.
Then you got the Right that this is President Biden trying to buy votes.
Then there are complaints, like those that were laid out by "The Washington Post" editorial board, which calls this a quote, "Regressive, expensive mistake," unquote. They argue that this could potentially actually drive up inflation, and that is it just shifts the debt to the larger tax base.
The question now is what does all of this mean for Biden, who is adding this to his list of accomplishments, knowing that we are less than three months away, what 11 weeks now, from the midterm elections, less than 11 weeks to go until Election Day?
The primaries certainly are winding down. But we know, when it comes to politics, and certainly when it comes to congressional politics, the fight among both parties, is far from over.
Joining me now, CNN Political Commentators, Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist; David Swerdlick, a Senior Staff Editor at The New York Times; and Scott Jennings, former Special Assistant to former President George W. Bush.
I'm so glad that you are all here. And I have to ask, when you think about this - why are you already smirking? What's happening right now? Hold on. I didn't even - just tell me why you're smirking. Go ahead. What is your reaction?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Oh, to the student loan debacle?
COATES: Oh, is it--
JENNINGS: The disgrace that the President had forced upon the--
COATES: Oh, is it a debacle? A disgrace? There you go!
JENNINGS: I mean, well, where do I start? It's inflationary. It's illegal. It's immoral. It's irrational. It's idiotic. It's inequitable. And those are just the things that start with a letter, "I." I mean, I could go on to other letters in the alphabet.
I think that what he did today is a direct reaction to the fact that young Democrats, in all the polling we've seen, hate Joe Biden. They're done with Joe Biden. And he's sending them all a $10,000 check, in an effort to buy their support.
Even Nancy Pelosi, who I'm not often aligned with, as you know, stated on the record unequivocally that this is illegal. The President of the United States does not have the authority to do this.
And the final question is, there is no world, where you would consider this to be fair.
What makes this debt more righteous than the small plumber, who took out a loan, to buy a new van, or the person, who got a mortgage, or the person, who got a loan, to buy a car, so they could drive themselves back and forth to work?
Or what makes it fair, to the person, who paid off their debts, to the parent, who just wrote the last check, for their son or daughter, to go to college?
There's no world in which this isn't a cynical political ploy by an elderly President, trying to buy the votes, of the youngest people, of his party.
COATES: I want to tell you, Maria Cardona literally moved her phone, away from her, just now, as you were talking.
JENNINGS: I hope she was recording it!
COATES: I don't know if you were going to - were you going to throw it? Where you like, "Let me just hold on something. Hold on a second."
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:
JENNINGS: Warming up! Warming up!
COATES: What is your reaction, Maria?
CARDONA: Shocker that a Republican would be against something that a Democratic president is doing that is wildly popular, at a time, when Democrats are gaining momentum, going into the midterm election, showing that it is yet another promise, kept by this President.
And, by the way, it was a promise that he made, to voters, to constituents, not just young people, but yes, young people, during the campaign. He didn't just come up with this.
And by the way, it's rich, that Republicans are talking about fairness, when they have passed billions and billions of dollars in corporate tax cuts, and Corporate Socialism. And now, they're talking about fairness? Give me an effing break!
COATES: Well, I got to say, I mean, I want to hear from you too, because you think about that and - good censorship. I liked that. I guess, he had the letter "I." You had the letter, "F."
JENNINGS: It's cable. We should just censor!
CARDONA: I know!
COATES: Cable, I don't know. I don't know, we're there yet. We're not there yet. But on the point?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, SENIOR STAFF EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes.
COATES: I mean, we do have--
JENNINGS: I give a lot--
COATES: --we do have other forgiveness programs, right? I mean it's not--
COATES: --this is not totally novel, and the idea of this debt, as Scott mentioned, being so righteous. There are certainly generations, who are going to benefit from some laws that the last will not, and the future did not, and the past ones.
COATES: So why - where do you come out on this?
SWERDLICK: So, I agree with one point that you made, Maria, and one point that you made, Scott.
COATES: That's very diplomatic!
SWERDLICK: I - but yes--
COATES: That was very diplomatic!
SWERDLICK: Look, you're right. This kind of debt is not more righteous than a small business loan.
One difference though, small business loan, other kinds of personal debt, you can discharge in bankruptcy. Right now, you can't discharge this in bankruptcy. Treasury Secretary Summers, the other day, proposed doing that, instead of this, but it still stands out right now, this is debt that people are really dragging along.
The other thing about this is that when you're talking about policy, Scott, you've got to remember that every - just as Laura said, every sort of giveaway, if you will, is a giveaway to somebody. President Trump gave money, to farmers, who voted for him, to do a trade war with China. And then, he subsidized the trade war, by subsidizing their products that China was putting tariffs on. President Trump did the 2017 tax cut. And that was a sort of a giveaway, in a lot of people's eyes, to wealthier Americans.
COATES: Well hold on, but--
JENNINGS: Whose money do you think it is?
COATES: Well before I - well hold on, before I - before I get there.
JENNINGS: I mean, it's a tax.
COATES: No. Excuse me. Before I get there, though, I want to put up this.
COATES: I mean, this will infuse the conversation, because we're talking about equity and fairness. We know a part of the Biden administration--
COATES: --has been about intergenerational wealth and fairness--
CARDONA: That's right.
COATES: --particularly, in the communities of color. And I wanted to take a pause. And we mentioned this student debt plan. But I want to look at who it will actually impact. I mean, look at the screen there. Biden says it's going to help ease the pain, in communities, who most - are most hampered by debt, racial minorities.
But the NAACP maybe to a different point says that it's not enough, and they say, quote, "Canceling just $10,000 of debt is like pouring a bucket of ice water on a forest fire. It hardly achieves anything - only making a mere dent in the problem."
And we know the problem is that. You have federal student loan debt, now outstanding in the U.S. at around $1.6 trillion. There was a model from the Urban Institute that showed that 62 percent of the canceled student loan dollars would go to White borrowers versus the 25 percent that would go toward Black borrowers, 8 percent for Hispanic borrowers.
Now, look a little closer, and it's Black women, I'm pointing at myself, who hold the majority of student debt. Shouldn't come as a surprise, considering messages, well, like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A college man, I got me a college man. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma, this letter just means I got accepted. It doesn't mean we can afford it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nonsense. You're just smart, you worked for it, and you deserve it. Honey, this is your chance. And we're going to get you on that bus somehow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're the first, in this family, to get into college.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so proud of you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't go, can I?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just can't afford to send you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: I remember ads like that when they were playing, and they would play all the time, and be really fomented in the minds of so many people. And yet, we see Americans, people of color, who must spend way more, for a chance at the American Dream.
The Brookings analysis showed that Black college graduates owe $7,400 more just on average, than their White peers. And take into account differences in interest accrual, and graduate school borrowing? Well, then you're talking about Black graduates ending up holding nearly $53,000, in student loan debt, after graduating. It's almost twice as much as their White counterparts.
Now, I bring that up in the panel, and have that moment, because you're talking about fairness, right? And we know that, at times, we compartmentalize when equity ought to be doled out. But equality is not like pie, right? You don't get less, because I get a piece?
COATES: But it's a part of the conversation. How do you - how does that change - does it change or influence you at all?
JENNINGS: Oh, I think some of these things are extremely fair. And I think every time you peel a layer back, like you just did, on the difference between White borrowers, and African American borrowers, you see how little thought was put into this.
But the part of Joe Biden's political base that he is most worried about are these young, White, privileged, liberal, gender studies majors, who are so unhappy with him, none of them want to support this guy for president again, that's who he's writing a check to today. It is simply trying to buy off the people, who he can't get, today, in the current polling, and taking for granted, everybody you just mentioned.
And I can't believe that I'm the only person at this table, who is more bothered - who isn't more bothered by the fact that this is totally illegal. There is no authority for the President to do this at all.
And Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democrat leader today said, "With the flick of a pen, Joe Biden has" dot-dot. Why even have a Congress! Where is the co-equal or more important branch of government in all this? I am stunned!
CARDONA: Because, for so long, Congress, Republicans specifically has said "No," on any kind of policy that would give any kind of equity, to the American people, especially those who need it the most.
And I think it's insulting Scott, that you say that this policy will not help Black students, will not help Latino students.
JENNINGS: I didn't. She said it. I didn't say it. She laid it out.
CARDONA: I know a--
COATES: I didn't say it. I read you the facts of Brookings.
JENNINGS: You just gave a very compelling report!
COATES: I read you the reports that would happen.
CARDONA: I know. But--
CARDONA: --you said that this would only help White students that are studying gender studies, whatever that means, I don't know. It sounds insulting, because people in my--
JENNINGS: It is insulting! I'm insulted!
CARDONA: --people in my--
COATES: By gender studies?
CARDONA: --people in my community, people in Laura's community, people in many communities, including White people, will benefit from this. That's why it is equitable.
Laura, is it the be all and end all? No. But it will be a step, in the right direction. We need to reform the way that we send our students to school.
When my parents brought us to this country, it was because we had this dream, of being able to do anything you wanted, if you studied hard, if you played by the rules. And my parents were able to send us to college, because of the opportunities in this country.
CARDONA: I want everyone to have that. And apparently, Republicans don't. SWERDLICK: I--
COATES: Well, go ahead, David.
SWERDLICK: I was just going to quickly say, I didn't get to say where I agreed with Maria, which was that yes, this was not a surprise. Biden and other Democrats campaigned on this.
SWERDLICK: There will be court challenges.
SWERDLICK: And it may go down in court, in the same way that some of the things that President Obama Executive Order, like the DAPA program did go down at the Supreme Court level. So, I don't think you're wrong there.
But this was something that Democrats campaigned on. It was not a secret.
SWERDLICK: And Biden is bringing it out at the time--
JENNINGS: I agree with you.
CARDONA: And it is a promise--
SWERDLICK: --when he's on a little bit of ice.
CARDONA: --and it is a promise kept.
JENNINGS: I agree about this - about that he campaigned on it.
COATES: He did.
JENNINGS: A, that's not - I guess I could campaign on all sorts of illegal things. And that doesn't make it right.
But B, if he thought this was legal and proper, he would have done it on day one. Instead, we're doing it 11 weeks before an election? There's nothing legal or proper or good policy about it. It's pure politics.
COATES: Well we're going to come back to this point. But just suffice to say, one of the reasons they have said they did this, in fact, is because of the impact that COVID-19 has had, on people's ability to pay.
COATES: Hence the delay of the actual payments and beyond. That might explain part of the reason why. I hear your point. We'll come back to it. Maria Cardona, thank you.
David and Scott, stick around. I want to hear from all of you.
And there's major news, coming in tonight, in the aftermath of the tragic Uvalde school massacre. Minutes ago, while we were having these conversations, the school board voted, to fire School Police Chief, Pete Arredondo.
We'll talk to the state lawmaker, represents Uvalde, and believes the blame should not stop, with Arredondo. That's next.
COATES: This just in, the Uvalde school board, voting tonight, to fire the embattled Uvalde Police Chief, Pete Arredondo. This comes exactly, can you believe it, three months after 19 children, and two teachers, were murdered at Robb Elementary.
The unanimous decision came, after a heated school board meeting, where members of the community, well, they demanded accountability.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our babies are dead. Our teachers are dead. Our parents were dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The least y'all can do is show us the respect to do this in the public.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't care a spot on (ph) those families. If it was one of your children, heads would be rolling right now. But because it's not, you don't care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have messages for Pete Arredondo and all the law enforcement over there that day. Turn in your badge and step down. You don't deserve to wear one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Arredondo, he may not be going quietly, however. His lawyer released a 17-page statement, just minutes before the meeting, explaining why Arredondo chose not to attend, and calling the vote a, quote, "Public lynching."
I want to bring in Texas State Senator, Roland Gutierrez, who was there, tonight, and he represents Uvalde.
You and I have been talking, Senator, for some time. And this has been a tragedy that continues to unfold. You have been a part of this, from the inception.
Can you tell us what it was like, at tonight's meeting? What was the atmosphere, in that room? We are watching it. I can't imagine what that must have been like.
ROLAND GUTIERREZ, (D) TEXAS STATE SENATE: So, Laura, you got a lot of broken families, out here. I mean, they had been waiting, for some accountability, any accountability, for now going on three months.
And this is certainly a step in the right direction. But we have a long road to go on this issue. Arredondo was simply one small aspect, of what needed to happen here. What occurred on May 24th, should never have happened in Texas. You have to go straight to the top, as to why it did. People are very upset, and rightly so.
COATES: You mentioned the idea as "One of." Are you suggesting that he either was scapegoated, or is simply not the only one, who needs to be held to account?
GUTIERREZ: Laura, we had a House committee report, which very directly stated that you had many other law enforcement agencies, with more firepower, more personnel, more ammunition that should have gone in.
And indeed, there were protocols within law enforcement handbooks that suggested that if he wasn't going to take accountability, or step into the position, of Incident Commander then others should. Clearly, there was nobody in command. That was what Robb Report indicated.
We needed to do a heck of a lot better than we've done, for the community, of Uvalde. Sadly, it took 90 days, for a school board to act.
But here we have a governor, who the Department of Public Safety direct reports to, who's failed to ask accountability, from one of his own agency heads. He didn't need a committee to do anything. He didn't need a board to decide. Greg Abbott should have asked for accountability since day one. And that still has not happened in Texas.
COATES: Well, speaking of accountability, or people who don't believe that they should be held to account, I want to read for you a part of what Chief Arredondo's statement, at least through his attorney, actually said.
And he said, and I quote, "Chief Arredondo was brave, led other officers in saving lives, and took all reasonable actions to prevent further injuries or loss of life, as the Active Shooter protocol demands."
Given what you've said, I mean, there's equal parts, sort of the audacity that people would think about, and that notion of it. What is your response to that statement? GUTIERREZ: There was bravery in that building. It wasn't from the Police. It was from the children, in those classrooms. They were the brave ones.
The fact is law enforcement, and I know I can't play Monday-morning quarterback, but the fact is law enforcement walked around that hallway, like it was a Sunday afternoon. And they walked around it, because they knew they were scared. They were scared of the awesome power of that machine gun that that young man had.
But, at the end of the day, they violated, egged every protocol that said that they needed to go in. To place it on the cafeteria school cop, all the responsibility, is wrong. He is absolutely responsible.
But so is every other cop that was in that hallway, including a Texas Ranger that was on the phone with higher-ups at DPS. And they did nothing. They told him that - they didn't say "Hey, go get 12 of our guys and go in." That didn't happen. So, Steve McCraw has to account for why his officers failed to act on May 24th.
COATES: I've often wondered why we all really know what's influencing the name, Pete Arredondo. But some of the names you've mentioned as well, I wonder if we will hear more information about that. I just can't believe that it's been three months. Every day, I'm sure, for the families, it's felt like a 1,000!
Thank you, State Senator, Roland Gutierrez. I appreciate your time tonight.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you so much, Laura.
COATES: Up ahead, this Democrat, you're about to see, he could be the first member of what's called Generation Z, to serve in Congress. And he calls Gen Z, the mass shooting generation. 25-years-old, and beat out seasoned former member of Congress. How? He'll tell us next.
COATES: So, Congress could get its first Gen Z member, this fall. 25- year-old Maxwell Frost won the Democratic nomination, in Florida's 10th congressional district. That's the one that Val Demings is leaving behind, as she runs for Senate.
So how did he best, well, a crowded field of experience candidates? It could be maybe his story, an activist working with - with working- class roots. He drove Uber, for extra cash, or maybe that he was backed by powerhouses, like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren.
But why don't we just ask the man himself, and not talk around him? Maxwell Frost joins me now.
Welcome to the show. How are you?
MAXWELL FROST, (D) U.S. HOUSE NOMINEE: Doing well, feeling blessed. Thank you so much for having me tonight.
COATES: Well, congratulations on your win. I have to say, and I hate to almost couch it in the language of the first Generation Z person, because it seems very dismissive, of what - of who you are, and what you bring to the table.
But it can't - it must be said, many are looking at this, and saying "He's very young. He might be a member of Congress." How do you feel about it?
FROST: Yes. I mean, I feel like it's a great example, and symbol, to where we need to go, in our country.
Look, we need a Congress that looks like the country. And what that means is yes, race, yes, ideology, but also the experiences someone's had, and also their age. We know that young folks in this country are going through new challenges, and I think it's important to have that perspective, at the table.
But let's be clear, and honest about it too. I didn't run to be the First Gen Z member of Congress. I so happen to be 25-years-old. But I'm running because of the issues going on in my district, because I see what folks are going through here in Orlando, and all across Florida.
And I'm really dedicated to fighting, for true justice, for people, and ensuring that people have the resources, they need, to live their best lives, to not worry about whether or not they're going to have a next meal, to not worry about picking between rent and medicine. I mean, these are real issues people are going through right now.
And my age gives me a different perspective. But we need different perspectives in Congress, so it can really work for everybody.
COATES: It's always interesting. People want to appeal to younger voters, but suddenly they think you might be too young to actually lead. It's always a funny thing where they do these notions.
But I want to ask you about one of the things you've talked about in terms of what's been very important to you. And I can't help but notice, in a place like Florida, where you had the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, you had Parkland, unfortunately, mass shootings in this country had become far too common. We just talked about what happened in Uvalde, at Robb Elementary School.
You've spoken about the generation that you represent, in part, as the mass shooting generation. Do you intend, to act in Congress, to do more than what has already been done?
FROST: 110 percent, I intend to be a vocal champion, on ending gun violence, in Congress, taking a holistic approach, to ending the violence, and building a world, where we don't have to fear, going to church, going to the store, walking in our own communities. And, for folks, who don't know, just a few months ago, the leading cause of death, for children, went from automobile accidents, to gun violence. Our children are literally on the frontlines of this issue. And we need bold champions to fight.
I want everyone to think about how serious of a problem mass shootings are, and the carnage that it wreaks havoc on our communities, and know that that's 1 percent of gun violence.
This issue is so broad, it is ruining so many lives, taking the lives of so many Americans. And we need folks, who are going to be bold leaders on it. And I intend to join the group of great advocates, in Congress, to work to build a world that we deserve to live in, and that's one that we're safe in.
COATES: A lot of what you have talked about, tonight, and I know what came on your campaign trail, was very appealing to the voters, hence, of course, your victory, was that your experience resonates with them, who you are, as a person, with the experiences you've had to date, your work.
The idea that you - actually, you haven't finished college, I understand. But I am wondering about what you view as to what today's issue, in particular that has been so impactful for so many people. There's been a lot of reactions, even here today, on this show.
What do you make of President Biden's decision, to cancel certain amounts of student loan debt? It's a very important issue, for people, who are coming out of college, who are under $125,000 (ph) a year. It is a huge saddling burden.
FROST: Yes. I think it's a great step, in the right direction, and the direction that we need to move in.
And people need to realize, when we think about the word, "College," we only think about young people. And this does impact many, many young people, all across the country. But there's also older folks, who have gone to college, as well, who have debt themselves. This isn't just an issue that impacts one small group of people. It impacts many Americans, and really all Americans.
And what this campaign has been about is about a campaign of love that "Because I love you, I want you to have health care. I don't want you to have any debt. I want you to have the resources you need." And when we move to that type of politics, we can look at folks, who have debt, and say "Yes, that that should be forgiven, so you don't have that chain on you, and you can live your life."
And so, I think it's a great step in the right direction. Hopefully, it's a call to action, to people, across the country, to join this movement, to work to end student debt, for all people, and cancel all student debt.
But I believe this is something that shows that the President is looking at the issue, very seriously. This is going to help tons of people. And we know that folks of color, Black and Brown people, are disproportionately impacted, by the student debt crisis. And so, this is also a racial justice issue. It's an economic issue, and it's just the right thing to do.
COATES: Thank you so much. I hope that people no longer lead, with your age, but instead, what you'd have to say and the substance.
Maxwell Frost, thank you so much.
FROST: Thank you for having me. And if folks want to support, they can go to frostforcongress.com.
COATES: Thank you.
Look, each day we're learning something new, about the many classified documents, retrieved, from Mar-a-Lago. And, frankly, tonight's no exception to that. A deadline, is looming, for Donald Trump, and his legal team. We're going to tell you about it next.
COATES: New tonight, Donald Trump's refusal, to turn over records, to the National Archives, stretches back, well, even further than we thought, from before, back to when, apparently, he was still in the White House.
CNN has confirmed a report, from "The Washington Post," an email, from the National Archives, says about two dozen boxes of presidential records stored, in then-President Trump's White House residents, were not returned, in the final days of his term. Even after Archive officials say they were told by the former Trump White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone that they should, his words, be given back.
David Swerdlick, and Scott Jennings, are here, and with me, right now, as long as well with my friend here, Elie Honig, Senior Legal Analyst for CNN.
So nice to see all of you.
And you, here in Washington, D.C., look at you.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I'll go anywhere for you!
COATES: Oh! See? I got to wear my boots for this one. I got to ask you, though, Elie, what do you make of this?
HONIG: Well, look, the timeline just keeps getting longer and longer here. And it's definitely not good for Trump.
It's also raises some questions, frankly, about DOJ, and what took so long. I mean, we now know this go - went back to the time Donald Trump was in office. We know from the letter that came out from Archives, the other day that they were negotiating, calmly, patiently, maybe too patiently, with Trump's people, throughout 2021. Then they got some boxes that first 15 documents, but not all.
Then finally DOJ gets involved. They try the subpoena. Finally, they get to the search bar. So big takeaway, the search warrant was a last resort. DOJ tried everything and, arguably, DOJ was even too precipitous, allow this to go on, for too long, and were too solicitous, I should say--
HONIG: --and too passive in the way they handled this.
COATES: I think it's - well, I mean, it's not - it's not your ex- boyfriend's sweater, he wants back, right? I mean you're talking about classified documents, and you're talking about - and, by the way, he's not getting it back. I'm a married woman, now.
But you think about all these things. It's - these are classified documents. You're talking - you're telling me that when he was the President of the United States, and they were asking for it back, it was still negotiable?
But springing to your point, you've raised, we talked about this yesterday, because, Scott, you look at this, and think about how far back this goes. You don't think this means that Biden knew nothing?
COATES: You think it means that Biden might know more than he's letting on?
JENNINGS: Well, we don't know, because we don't exactly know - we keep calling them classified documents.
But then at the same time, the search warrant, the laws that they say he may have broken don't require the material to be classified. We don't know. Then there was a report that it was nuclear secrets. That seems to have faded away. Now, no one seems to be owning up to that. So we don't actually know.
And I think Elie brought up a good point. What took so long? If this were, and this is a question, I think many people should be asking, if this were the highest level of secrets, that put the United States' national security in grave danger, which is the words that people are using, why did they wait so long?
I think you raise an excellent question. But the reality, we can't answer it, because we have no idea, which is why I think the DOJ ultimately here is going to have to succumb to some kind of transparency, to the Intelligence--
COATES: No. Biden - first of all, Biden did say - I want to put - he did - he was asked today about whether he had any advance notice of the search, today. Hear this part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, how much advance notice did you have of the FBI's plan to search Mar-a-Lago?
BIDEN: I didn't have any advance notice. None. Zero. Not one single bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JENNINGS: OK, quick question on that. If that's true, you're saying that one of the most sensitive documents, in the federal government, is on the loose, out in the open, in Mar-a-Lago, and the President of the United States doesn't know about it, or hasn't been told about it? Either that cannot possibly be true, or the document isn't as grave as people have said.
SWERDLICK: He's put himself, on the hook, with that statement. No question. You're--
COATES: But wait, why? Why?
SWERDLICK: Well because he's right there on national TV today--
COATES: About the search though?
SWERDLICK: --look, saying, he knew nothing. If it later comes out that he was in a meeting, with the Attorney General, then he'll have to backpedal, and explain that.
You're right, that we don't know what we don't know. You're right that we in the media and the public should be patient. But it's possible that the delay was to make it not appear political, just as much as possible that the delay could have been to make it appear political.
Just one more quick point. Elie, former federal prosecutor, you're totally right. Legally, this doesn't redound well, for the President, right now.
Politically, though, the messier it gets, I think, the more it gets strung out, Special Masters, affidavits, magistrates, what happened here, what happened? The President can keep churning and churning politically on it, instead of it being boiled down, to what this is, at a certain fundamental level.
These are documents, to your point, Laura, that belong to the people of the United States that National Archives asked for them back, and they didn't get them back, and now here we are.
COATES: For a long time. But to that point, you mentioned the affidavit?
COATES: The affidavit deadline, I mean, let's unpack this a little bit, Elie, because I want people to have their expectations managed. Tomorrow is Thursday. But it doesn't mean we're actually going to see the affidavit, in a redacted form, or otherwise, tomorrow.
HONIG: Prepare yourselves for not much, tomorrow, and possibly nothing, tomorrow, because let's be clear on what tomorrow is. That is the deadline by which DOJ has to submit something, privately, to the judge saying, "OK, Judge, here's the part of the affidavit, we can live, with you unsealing."
Now the judge may see that it's possible, get it mid-day, and say, "I agree. Here you go public." We may have it at 3 PM. Or the judge may say, "I need to sit on this. I need to look at it for a day, or two, or a week," or the judge may disagree.
The affidavit? I can put myself back in the shoes that we were once in the DOJ. I mean, these affidavits, the notion of them coming out, during the investigation, goes against everything we were taught. It is unheard of.
And so, I guarantee you, prosecutors have spent the last week, saying, "OK, how do we look like we're telling something while telling as little as humanly possible?" You cannot out your investigation. You cannot out part of your investigation, because if you redact out some of your investigation, but not some other part? It's going to look like you were select.
COATES: But you have both Democrats and Republicans, now, who are--
COATES: I mean, Congressman Ro Khanna came out, to talk about wanting that transparency, and the least part, because of the fact that it's a former President.
I mean, there are - I mean, you have to assume that even in writing it, they probably thought "If this gets out, then what?" I mean, the idea of transparency--
COATES: --is not going to be the most effective way, prosecutorially.
COATES: But politically?
JENNINGS: Well, I mean, the fact that you have serious Democrats, and Republicans, in the Congress, wanting it that you have news outlets wanting it? I mean, there's obviously a public interest in this, not just because he was a former President, but he is quite likely going to be a presidential candidate.
JENNINGS: I mean, you guys tell me. I feel like Merrick Garland is so in over his head, on this. They failed to predict what the outcome of this was going to be. And then he sort of gave his hostage video statement, has not really answered any questions. They've leaked. But they haven't really answered any direct questions.
COATES: They haven't leaked though. I mean, I want to say, when we talk about this, I want to be clear. Let's be fair though. I don't think he's in over his head, in the sense of being inept. I think he really is a man of credentials.
But I also think that a lot of the statements, we're talking about, we have to impart, call ourselves out, in the media, and punditry, and of course, social media that tries to get ahead of it, and tries to fill in gaps, through speculation.
DOJ did not make all the statements we're talking about. We haven't speculated to the point where it's irresponsible. But I'm saying, I don't think it's all coming from DOJ, to suggest that it's nuclear documents, the acceptance of the classified documents. They haven't put that out.
SWERDLICK: And I think that's part of your point. Right, Merrick Garland, Attorney General, former federal judge, the guy who handled the Oklahoma City bombing?
SWERDLICK: He's not incompetent. He knows what he's doing. He's an old Washington and (ph) but I think what you're saying is to not have anticipated the firestorm--
JENNINGS: Oh, yes, yes.
SWERDLICK: --that has come out here is his biggest problem, right.
HONIG: I agree. I've been critical of Merrick Garland on many levels.
COATES: You have.
HONIG: Here, I give him credit, because he's acting as sort of the platonic ideal, of a prosecutor. The way that we were trained, as young kids, when we started that you don't do politics, you operate in a vacuum.
Now, that doesn't fly for the Attorney General of the United States. You have to be aware that you don't operate in a vacuum. As much as we, Laura, and I had the luxury, to operate in a vacuum, when all we had to focus on was our cases. If you're the A.G., you have to see the world on a little more than that.
COATES: Yes. But I mean, and you wrote a great book about this. I mean, Bill Barr wasn't most transparent about telling-- HONIG: Not at all.
COATES: --everyone everything he knows, and he's the most recent A.G. It can't be both ways. One's an FBI Director, and James Comey, of course, and Garland, but you can't have both the Garland and a Comey, and everyone be satisfied about transparency.
Elie Honig, David Swerdlick, Scott Jennings, thank you so much.
And coming up, look, his team accurately made a crucial call, for Joe Biden, in the 2020 election. But did the honesty and the transparency cost him his job at Fox News?
The now former Fox Political Editor tells us about the backlash he faced, and why he now accuses the network, of inciting quote, "Black- helicopter-level paranoia and hatred." The conversation is next.
COATES: All right, it's time for the conversation. My guest tonight was the Political Editor, at Fox News, for 10 years. And in 2020, he made the decision to call Arizona, for Joe Biden, a victory that ultimately signaled the beginning of the end for President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS STIREWALT, FORMER FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR, AUTHOR, "BROKEN NEWS: WHY THE MEDIA RAGE MACHINE DIVIDES AMERICA AND HOW TO FIGHT BACK": We knew it would be a consequential call, because it was one of five States that really mattered, right? Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, were the ones that we were watching. We knew it would be significant, to call any one of those five.
But we already knew Trump's chances were very small, and getting smaller, based on what we had seen. So, we were able to make the call, early. We are able to beat the competition. We looked around the room, everybody says "Yay!" And on we go.
And by the time we found out how much everybody was freaking out, and losing their minds, over this call, we were already trying to call the next state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Now, Chris Stirewalt says that that decision ultimately cost him his job.
And in a new book, he's accusing Fox News of inciting quote, "Black- helicopter-level paranoia and hatred." He is the Author of a new book, "Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back." And he joins me now
Chris, it's good to see you. And we did - we coordinated our outfit. So, I always-- STIREWALT: The energy, the vibe is strong!
COATES: I appreciate the vibe, right now.
STIREWALT: The vibe is strong!
COATES: Thank you so much.
Speaking of that, I mean, we remember your testimony, in front of the January 6th committee. And one of the things that Fox News has had to say about is they don't believe that was reason, you were let go, at all, or your end of your job.
What do you say to their statements?
STIREWALT: Well, I never said that's why they fired me. A lot of people said that's why they fired me.
STIREWALT: I don't care. They don't owe me a job. Fox News doesn't owe me a job. That's OK. I had a great time at the network. I did - I'm proud of all the work I did. I'm proud of the work that I did with other people. The News Division in Fox was great, when I was there. I worked with and for and around great people. So, that was all fun. They fired me. It's their network. That's OK.
But I do know that the viewers of Fox News were incredibly angry. I didn't make that call. I was part of a Decision Desk team that made a call.
COATES: To call Arizona?
STIREWALT: To call Arizona. But I did have to go - I got to go, on air, to defend the call, and explain the call. And Lordy-day did people get very angry about that?
I had one U.S. Senator, call for my firing, and say that we were engaged in a cover-up. And I thought "Are there ballots under the table that I haven't looked? What are you talking about?"
So, I was able to observe, and part of the reason I wrote this book, was that I observed in these viewers, and these folks that they had been so deceived, and they had been so flattered, and they had been so coddled, over the years, that when the ice cream dish, was taken away, and me, Mr. Green Beans, is put in front of them, and I said, "Well, too bad, Donald Trump's not going to get reelected," they were not ready for that. They were not - they were not in a position to do that.
COATES: Well, if they've been told for so long that Green Beans, or ice cream, or ice cream is supposed to be your daily diet?
COATES: I mean, there's a lot of - you're very critical, hands down, at Fox News, and the work that you - is happening there, although you've just said that you're proud of your work, and your colleagues, to sort of an extent.
So, what do you say to those, who say, "Well, you contributed to, that." So why come out now, only after you have gone to suggest that there were problems?
STIREWALT: Well, this isn't really a book about Fox News. I am critical of a lot--
STIREWALT: --a lot, a lot of people in this.
STIREWALT: Now, I worked at Fox News for a long time. So obviously, my experiences there inform my insights, on this stuff.
But here's the point of this book. As journalists, as American journalists, we have an obligation to our country. If we love our country, then we have an obligation, to make sure that the work that we're doing? I'm not saying it can't be fun. I'm not saying it can't be exciting. I'm not saying there isn't time for ice cream, sometimes.
COATES: But there's ethics.
STIREWALT: But we have to do - if we love our country, and we love our fellow countrymen, and countrywomen, what we have to do, is make sure that the work that we're doing, is in service of, and not destructive to, those ambitions.
And when we use fear, and when we use hate, and when we use anger, and when we use paranoia, to keep ratings high, and keep people attached, then we are not living up to - I mean I think about this all the time.
A million American men and women died, to preserve, protect and defend this country, and our Constitution. If I don't try to do a good job, and love my country, and love my fellow Americans, in my work, then I am letting them down. And we have obligations as journalists.
I loved your last segment. I loved the way that you talked about this stuff, and you cooled it down, you let the partisanship, you pulled it back a little bit. That's what I'm talking about, a little bit of patriotic grace.
And then, as news consumers, let's not kid ourselves, this isn't a supply side problem. This is a demand side, right?
COATES: Well, on that point, I mean, I think it's - and you are correct, and the idea of truth, not supposed to having been the novelty. I mean, the idea of the responsibility, and true reporting, because we are in many respects, not only the last, but the first line of defense, and sort of the information to be actually out there. One of the things, you did, you spoke in front of that January 6th committee, and speaking about what you're saying here today. It's also a part of the book more broadly.
What impact you think that committee is having, in terms of a parallel endeavor, to present what they say, are the facts of what happened, leading up to and on January 6th?
STIREWALT: Well, thanks to televised committee hearings, most hearings in Congress stink, right? Most of them are performative art, where these members are trying to get the sound bite that they can put, in a fundraising video, or whatever else.
I want to credit the January 6th committee. I thought it might turn into another goat rodeo, or as all that performative stuff. But they have really made an effort, to reach out to Republicans, and convince people. And the witnesses they chose reflected that. And I thought that was good.
COATES: Well, you were one of them. And the book tells the rest of the story that I think people are very interested in hearing.
Chris Stirewalt, thank you so much.
We'll be right back.
COATES: Thanks for watching, everyone. I'll be back, tomorrow night.
Guess who's next? Don Lemon, and "DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now
Hey, Don Lemon?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Hey, Don Lemon?
COATES: You're like, "Hey, Don Lemon?"