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CNN TONIGHT: NY Times: Federal Agents Seized The Phones Of Two Top Trump Advisers As Part Of January 6 Probe; Justice Kagan: Judges Create Legitimacy Problems When They Ignore Legal Precedent, Impose Personal Preferences On Cases; Education Secretary: College Ranking System Is "A Joke". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 12, 2022 - 21:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Anderson's been working on a new podcast that premieres Wednesday. It's called "ALL THERE IS." He started recording it, while packing up his mother's apartment, after her passing. It's a podcast about the people we lose, the things they have - they leave behind, and how we can all move forward.

Again, the first episode will premiere, this Wednesday. You'll find it on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

The news continues. So, let's hand it over to Laura Coates and CNN TONIGHT.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: John Berman, thank you. I can't wait to listen to that podcast, from Anderson, as well. And nice to see you, as well, tonight.


And look, we've got some pretty big news, to take apart. I mean, there's a lot of news coming out, and it might feel a little incremental, at times, the drip-drip of different information, coming from DOJ, a subpoena here, a subpoena there, which investigation?

Well, look, the drip-drip is now raining down all over Trump-world. We're talking about more than 30 issued, by the DOJ, just in recent days, 30 of them, in the investigation, into the attack on January 6th.

Now, the question is who has been ensnared by all this, and really what it could ultimately mean for Donald Trump, and really, our nation, next. We'll talk more about that in just a few moments.

But you can't lose the irony here. The idea that we've been talking a lot about January 6th, about the election-related lies, about the idea of how the U.S. democracy, is imperiled, because there was not this expectation that was met, of a peaceful transition of power.

And then, you've got this idea of over across the pond, as they say, the fact that as they say, "No king ever dies," that once somebody has passed in the monarchy, the next person is able to take up that position immediately.


COATES: And it's 2 AM, in Scotland, right now. And you're looking at this unfold, as live pictures, are coming in, at the scenes, of the very public payment of respects that, to the late Queen Elizabeth, whose coffin now lies at rest, at St. Giles' Cathedral, in the capital of Edinburgh.

It will be flown to London, tomorrow, ahead of her funeral, which is now one week from today. And frankly, it's been another very moving day, there'll be many other moving days, of emotional ceremonies, and reflection, about the longest reigning monarch there, and in this very grand farewell that you're seeing.

Now, the Crown of Scotland placed atop the Queen's coffin, during a prayer service, earlier. And especially moving was to see the Queen's four children, including the now king, King Charles the Third that is, standing vigil, around their mother's casket, mounting their guard, symbolically.

And we also saw them all march in lockstep, in a procession, along that Royal Mile, to the church, when Her Majesty's coffin, was moved there, from her official Scottish home, in Edinburgh.

Throngs of people, lining the streets, get a chance to witness history, and say goodbye. Now, this really has been, and will continue to be, a celebration of life, a commemoration, of a beloved public servant, Britain's longest-serving monarch.

But I also want to be clear that the idea of a monarch is not a universally-loved concept. I mean, look at us, here in the United States of America, we defined ourselves, as a nation, by our rejection of the Monarchy, our Declaration of Independence, and our rejection from that centralized power.

And as it is, the Queen's death has become more of a conversation, not only here, but all across the globe, that's broadened beyond her individual life. And there have been questions, about whether there should even be a monarchy anymore. Some see it as a time, to reevaluate what the future should actually hold, and really answer the question of well can, or maybe should the Commonwealth survive the death of a queen?

Now, the global reaction, it's been interesting. If you're following along online, or seeing what's happening, I mean, it is quite mixed, and it ranges on a big spectrum. King Charles is now the Monarch of 14 of the 56 Commonwealth countries, which are mostly British colonies.

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbados - Barbuda, excuse me, head of the Caribbean country, will hold a referendum, in the next few years, on whether to become a republic, and remove King Charles, as their head of state. Remember, Barbados severed its final Imperial links, to Britain, just last year by, well, declaring itself a republic.

Now, there are major debates, in other parts of the Caribbean, about the Monarchy's continued role, in countries like the Bahamas, like Belize, like Jamaica, as well, but with conversations about the impact of British colonialism, which the history, let's just call it fraught, shall we?


Now, among those, who have strongly questioned the merits of a monarchy, in the U.K., surprisingly, if tapes are right, and they are, is Britain's own new Prime Minister, Liz Truss. But not recently. Back when she was a teenager, back in 1994, at a Liberal Democrats conference. Watch this.


LIZ TRUSS, PRESIDENT, OXFORD UNIVERSITY LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: We do not believe that people should be born to rule, or that they should put up, and shut up, about decisions that affect their everyday lives.

We met another group of people, and another group of people, and all three groups of people said, "Abolish the Monarchy." In fact, Conference, we couldn't find a single monarchist outside the Royal Pavilion. How ironic!



COATES: How ironic indeed? Because she's now a conservative, who met the Queen, two days before her death, and is seen in the last public photos with her.

Joining me now is CNN Royal Historian, Kate Williams; Also Niall Stanage, Associate Editor and White House Columnist, at The Hill; and Harvard history professor, Maya Jasanoff, author of three books, on the British Empire.

Great to have all of you here, today, and really contextualize, this conversation further. Because, as I alluded to, and frankly outright stated, there is a lot of pomp and pageantry that's happening right now. And this is the longest-reigning monarch. And she, and her power, and her force, and of course, her intellect, and how she was revered, is undeniable.

There's also a broader conversation, happening, right now, about what will be next? Where will the Monarchy go from here? Will it remain intact, in the way it is?

Let me begin with you here, Kate, on this issue. Because, I wonder, from your perspective, of just the way that there has been transition? Obviously, this is a 70-year plus monarch, and the way that she has been in that position. Are there real conversations happening, for the first time, about the true future, and the reception, of the Monarchy?

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN, ROYAL HISTORIAN & AUTHOR: Yes, Laura, I think that's a fair point to make.

There has been this, as you say, incredible reign, 70 years on the throne, the Queen was born just after World War I. She was born, when women didn't even all have the vote, has seen so much of the 20th Century, and the beginning of the 21st.

And yet, her reign also saw the great, the great horrors of - the great horrors of Empire, still continuing. We have to note that even in the 90s - in the early parts of her reign, countries were fighting for independence, such as Kenya, who became independent, in 1963.

And there are these big conversations, going on, about the questions you were raising, in your introduction, about whether or not Britain will still have like the head of state of other countries, the British Monarch.

And, as you said, Antigua's looking into it, Australia, Jamaica. New Zealand, the Prime Minister has just said that she expects New Zealand, to become a republic, in her lifetime. I do think Jamaica probably will go quite quickly as well.

And I think it will be a domino effect, I think country after country. Let's remember that quite recently, an Australian female politician said she wasn't going to swear allegiance to the Queen, because of the suffering of indigenous people.

And so King Charles, as he is now, King Charles has, on his plate, really, I think, the transition that of Britain. And certainly, a lot of these countries said they weren't going to do anything, while the Queen was around. Now the queen is no longer with us, under Charles, I think, they will look into the question of becoming republics.

Now, for some of them, it's quite constitutionally-difficult. But I do think the political will is there, and also the public will as well.

COATES: Niall, let me go to the idea of the public will, and political will. I mean, Scotland - I mean the - Scotland's First Minister says the country "Stands ready" that was his word, stands ready to support King Charles the Third.

But they had previously pushed and pledged for independence. And I'm wondering in that - it was a referendum, by the way, there's going to be a vote held, I think, in October, of next year.

Is there a likelihood that Scotland might have independence, and move towards it?

NIALL STANAGE, ASSOCIATE EDITOR & WHITE HOUSE COLUMNIST, THE HILL: It's certainly likely. The main party that is advocating that, the Scottish National Party, is the primary party, in Scotland, right now.

But the broader picture here, Laura, is that this is a very disunited kingdom. As you say, the Scots did have a referendum, in 2014. That was defeated. The pro-union side won that. But it didn't quell the desire for independence. And, in my own native Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein, the party that would hope to remove Northern Ireland, from the United Kingdom, entirely, and creating a united Ireland, became the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly, back in May. So, there is clearly a groundswell.

These of course, are very, very old issues. We don't have time, here, to rehearse the whole vexing history, of England and Ireland, or the fact that I think in "God Save the King," we should say now, there's a verse that no one sings anymore, but "Rebellious Scots to crush," I think, is the line. That whole friction has been present for centuries.


COATES: Yes. I mean, and thinking about that, and speaking - and Maya, I want to bring you in here, because you wrote eloquently, in a piece, about this very issue, in an Op-Ed. And I believe your phrase was to "Mourn the Queen," but not the "Empire," and that's - "Not her empire."

This is a phrase I'm hearing all over now. I mean, it's trending on social media, the conversations that really delve into this conflicted notion. On the one hand, the celebration of a woman, and for the reasons we articulated, and then the idea of the ills of a monarchy.

I mean, the United States in and of itself can't begin to pretend as though we have revered indefinitely, universally, the Monarchs. We are United States, for that reason, hashtag, the Tea Party. But - I mean, the other one, not the most recent one, the original Boston Tea Party, on these issues.

Maya, let me ask you, how should the King handle the calls that are happening, right now, to try to contend with the past? There's calls for reparations, for apologies, for colonization? Where do you stand?

MAYA JASANOFF, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, my feeling is that these conversations should have been happening already a while ago.

And I've heard a lot of things, being said, in recent days, about now is not the time to bring up this, or bring up that. I think for people, in parts of the former British Empire, it's felt like time, for a long time.

I think and expect that King Charles will undertake more open sorts of discussions that he personally, of course, probably will not, but he will allow to have happen, discussions about the legacies of British imperialism, about the appropriate forms of apology, or other kinds of redress that might come from, from the Monarchy, and so on.

I think that, as Kate already - Niall pointed out, the move of the current Dominions, to get rid of the Monarch, as Head of State, is going to accelerate.

And I think this is really a great opportunity, to educate the British public, about what has happened, in the last seven decades of Britain's global history, and just bring the conversations that have long been going on, in former colonies, a little bit more in line with Britain's own understanding, of what imperial history was, what its legacies are, and how to--

COATES: You know?

JASANOFF: --forge, hopefully, a good relationship, going forward.

COATES: You mentioned, and I couldn't help but think, in my mind, about the conversations, we're having here, stateside, about how to contend with one's history, how it's taught, how it's contextualized, how to bring about the very obvious notions, of what's happening.

I wonder, Kate, is this the - have these conversations, taken place, before, I mean, to the point that Maya raised that it should be happening all along? Have they been taking place, and swept under a proverbial rug, by virtue of the respect, conferred to this queen?

K. WILLIAMS: Well, I think what we've had certainly is a surge of reassessment of the Empire. Particularly, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, people are reconsidering, but - in terms of slavery and slavery reparations, and apologies. And I think that is really important. And I think that Britain is coming to terms.

But very recently, very recently, one of our very foremost politicians, was on a TV show, and discussing the Boer War. And he was saying that the concentration camps that the British Army, set up, in the Boer War, where they put the Boer ladies and children, they were to help them. So, we still have that being comported by - these kinds of myths been reported.

And I would also mention Laura, that history is so important, the legacy of slavery and Empire, but also in terms of how the Dominions are looking at Britain. There were also more current issues as well, in the sense that there was a very - there's a huge scandal, in Britain, called the Windrush scandal--


K. WILLIAMS: --which was about when young people, from Jamaica came over, just after World War II, to rebuild the country with their families, and they lived here all their lives, they felt they were citizens.

And suddenly, just in 2011, 2012, the government threw away, all their landing cards. They didn't have proof that they belonged here. And suddenly, they were trying to deport them, said they had to - you know, couldn't have benefits. And there was even a lady chef, in the House of Lords, and they were trying to deport her.

So, this huge scandal, treating people of Jamaican and Caribbean origin, these two impact, on perceptions, of what is our relationship, when we were in the Caribbean, to the British throne?

And I think also, there is a questioning, especially I will say, since Brexit, of what leaving the European Union, what is the benefit of aligning with Britain?



K. WILLIAMS: There's been interesting survey was done by the House of Lords, into the other - the countries, in the Caribbean, and across the world, wanted to ally with different countries, not Britain that we are not seen as a source of power anymore. So, there were lot of big questions, and to engage with.

COATES: I'm so glad that you've made it current, as well. I'm thinking about, especially the Windrush generation, I myself am married to a first-generation American, whose family is from Jamaica.

And I remember, I am Black American. And, in my grandmother's home, it was a picture of like Martin Luther King, and you have a picture of Jesus, on the wall. And, in his family, it was the Queen!

And I remember thinking about the conversation that that ensued, about the distinctions, between what it's like to be of Caribbean descent, and what it's like to be a Black American, and just the conversations parallel, so often, around issues of immigration, in particular. So, that's a really important point to raise.

Kate Williams, Niall Stanage, Maya Jasanoff, thank you so much.

STANAGE: Thanks.

COATES: Well, back here, in the U.S., important developments, in the DOJ's criminal probe, into January 6th. What we're learning tonight, about new grand jury subpoenas, served to dozens of people, with ties to former President Donald Trump. We're talking about that next.



COATES: New signs, tonight, the DOJ's criminal probe, into January 6th, is intensifying.

Sources telling CNN that the DOJ has subpoenaed more than 30 people, within Trump's orbit, in just recent days. That includes Trump's former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, his former Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, and even groups, like Women for America First.

What's more? "The New York Times" reporting that federal agents, armed with search warrants, seized cell phones, of two key Trump allies, just last week, Boris Epshteyn, and Mike Roman, both linked to Trump's alternate electors scheme.

Here with me now, to talk about all this, is Miles Taylor, former Chief of Staff, to Trump's Homeland Security Secretary; former Assistant Attorney General, Elliot Williams; and Senior Staff Editor at the New York Times Opinion, David Swerdlick. I'm glad you're all here, looking very intense, but dapper, nonetheless. But this is an intense time. We're talking about more than 30 subpoenas. I mean, every time you think you can look away, from discussions, around Trump, and the orbit? Bam! Here we are, again! What does it say to you?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, look, it's these are investigations around January 6th. But what does that even mean?

Number one, you've got - what happened on January 6th, the day, investigations into the violence and the rioting that happened there. Number two, the fake electors scheme that led to January 6th, that's a whole separate set of crimes being investigated. Number three, President - former President Trump's Save America PAC, and possible campaign finance, and wire fraud and mail fraud allegations there.

So what was just quote-unquote, "January 6th," is now almost a web of different crimes, being investigated separately. This is a very far- reaching investigation. And when people say that this is the biggest one the Justice Department's ever been a part of? Well, well, yes, that's what's happening here.

MILES TAYLOR, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO DHS SECRETARY UNDER TRUMP, "ANONYMOUS" AUTHOR OF OP-ED CRITICAL OF TRUMP: Including, the Attorney General. I mean, Merrick Garland said this is the most significant case, in the Justice Department's history.

And, I think, right now, there are shutters, going through Donald Trump's orbit, and people who haven't been subpoenaed are worried. I kind of feel like from here on set, we can hear the sound of phones being thrown, into the Potomac River, right now--


TAYLOR: --because people are worried about this.

But we've said all along that Merrick Garland was going to work his way up the pyramid. He's doing exactly what he did. He came under, withering pressure, from social media mobs, for not doing enough quickly. But this is what they're doing. They prosecuted the low-level offenders, tied to the insurrection, and they're working their way, up to the very top.

Look, I think, at this point, for folks, in Trump-world, who used the "Game of Thrones" metaphors, they like to create memes with Trump? Right now, that meme would say, "Justice is coming," and they really felt that hit the airwaves, tonight, when they heard that news.

E. WILLIAMS: You're really proud of that metaphor.

COATES: I know. That was - I know.

E. WILLIAMS: I was going to say it.

TAYLOR: I was ready (ph). COATES: It was like "Winter is coming," people all say (ph)--

E. WILLIAMS: I know he did, sorry.

COATES: --was really great. I know.



COATES: Oh? You liked it.

SWERDLICK: --the only thing I would add is, the - a lot of the people, who watched "Game of Thrones," also should have watched "The Wire." They would have seen how law enforcement rolls up people, another HBO show, yes.

TAYLOR: And in the next segment, we will do a review of "The Wire."

SWERDLICK: Right, right, yes--


E. WILLIAMS: Yes, we're - and this is--

COATES: Do you have an analogy you want to raise now?

E. WILLIAMS: You know?

COATES: I would say "Golden Girls." But that won't work here--

E. WILLIAMS: I know.

COATES: --for some reason.

E. WILLIAMS: Right. We're going through HBO shows. We need to do "Insecure"--


SWERDLICK: Quick point, Laura.

E. WILLIAMS: What are we talking about?

SWERDLICK: This - the events between Election Day 2020, and January 6th, 2021, were like a jigsaw puzzle.

And now, between the work of the January 6th committee, and between the work of the Justice Department, which a lot of people thought was just sort of hanging back? And it turns out, no, they have been building the case. As you said, pieces on a jigsaw puzzle are being put together.

We don't know if that means that the speech on The Ellipse, or that the events, at the Capitol, or what happened, in all of these various states, are connected, what crimes were committed, but a picture is starting to emerge, and the Justice Department is putting it together. That is what I take away from these news.

COATES: Well, the thing about it, a jigsaw puzzle too, is that you can see the visible cracks, right? You can see the way this has actually been put together. And part of that is involved with the Mar-a-Lago matter, the idea of the Special Master, the search warrant, the affidavit, and all the different notions, we are seeing, in real-time, a lot of things happening.

And, in fact, I mean, as you know, the DOJ has responded to the idea of a Special Master. Last week, when we were talking about this, they had about four people, on their list, of who they wanted to have.


COATES: Two from Trump's side, two from their side. Where are we?


E. WILLIAMS: OK. So, the Justice Department, today, issued a filing, saying that one of the two Trump folks that Trump's folks have put forward, they could actually support.

Judge Raymond J. Dearie, from the Eastern District of New York, who is as close to a consensus pick, for Special Master, as could be, sort of respected on all sides, and also has background. He was a former judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

COATES: So, probably has clearance?

E. WILLIAMS: Clear and getting--


COATES: Right.

E. WILLIAMS: Has clearance and experience in dealing with these matters.

One of the picks that the Trump folks had put forward was almost a non-starter. His wife is on the court that's ultimately going to get this. It was a clear conflict of interest.

So, the judge just has to rule on it. But both parties are in agreement that it should be Judge Dearie. So, I guess, if she's going to have a Special Master, it ought to be him.

COATES: Is it easy to have - I mean, if this person is going to be reviewing everything, and some things are going to have to have help, at some points, is it easy to try to get these clearances? I mean, how long are we talking about this process that might last?

TAYLOR: Well, look, it's going to be at the discretion of the Executive branch. It could happen quickly. But Laura, you point to something here that's really significant, which is that this information has already gotten into hands that it wasn't supposed to get in the hands of.

I mean, by just by taking these documents to his private residence, Trump has forced agents, and prosecutors, and soon potentially judges, and special masters, in a whole cast of characters, to have access to materials that according to public reporting, in some cases, was only known by a tiny handful of Cabinet Secretaries, and maybe a few others.

So, that's it. The documents, without knowing whether they've leaked to foreign intelligence agencies, are already in hands, they shouldn't have.

Another thing to note here is right now, this whole negotiation, in front of the judge, is about whether the Justice Department, and the Intelligence community, can continue their review, on the sensitivity of these documents, in general. So, right now, they're having to sit on their hands--


TAYLOR: --and not be able to look into what the Intelligence Community blowback is. That might mean that sensitive Intelligence sources, around the world, are at risk. There could be a whole range of national security damages--


TAYLOR: --they haven't been able to investigate yet.

COATES: It obliterates the need-to-know basis, right?

TAYLOR: Of course.

COATES: That old saying, a "Need to know," is that's gone?

SWERDLICK: Yes, Trump's lawyers, made the argument, in this latest round, saying that the government hasn't proved that all these documents are classified, or the documents they want to look at are classified.


SWERDLICK: But that logic is completely backward. To your point, these documents belong to the United States of America, to the people of the United States of America. We're not talking about a commemorative mug, from Trump, leaving Putin, in Helsinki, right? OK.

And so, the logic, the onus should be on President Trump, to prove why he had them, why he kept them, why he didn't give them back, when the National Archives requested.

COATES: Everyone, David wants my newest CNN mug. That's what's going on right now.



TAYLOR: Shapes--

COATES: He was - that was a little bit of shade, you all didn't realize.

Miles Taylor, David Swerdlick, thank you.

Elliot, stick around, please. We have more to talk about.

And still ahead, there is great backlash, against the Supreme Court, since the fall of Roe v. Wade. Well, now it's Chief Justice defending the "Legitimacy," of the court, ahead of its brand-new term. Plus, new remarks, tonight, from Justice Kagan, on the subject. Next.



COATES: Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan just weighed in on the plummeting perception, of the Supreme Court, saying, quote, "I think judges create legitimacy problems for themselves... If one judge dies or leaves a court, and another judge comes in and all of a sudden the law changes on you, what does that say? You know, that just doesn't seem a lot like law."

Joining me now, CNN Legal Analyst, and Supreme Court biographer, Joan Biskupic.

Joan, I wonder what she's referencing? It doesn't sound hypothetical at all.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: 19 - in 2020, one Justice died, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

COATES: Right.

BISKUPIC: Another justice came on. And what did we get? The end of Roe v. Wade, completely, and only because of that change in justices.

So, there was Elena Kagan, tonight, in New York, repeating what she had said, earlier this summer, about how when the justices suddenly switch gears, on the law, because of a change of personnel, what does that do, to public confidence, in the court, into the court's legitimacy?

COATES: And it's coming, of course, after you already have a political process, by how you actually have a Supreme Court, confirm that's a very political feeling thing. There's already mistrust issues. This adds to the idea of, what's it all about?

BISKUPIC: Completely does. And this is - this is her theme. But get this, Laura, they disagree, not just on cases, but they disagree on why people are questioning the court's legitimacy.

Just last weekend, in Colorado Springs, the Chief Justice said people shouldn't question the legitimacy of the court. It's just that they're disagreeing with the rulings. He sort of is sidestepping this whole argument, saying, "We don't have a crisis of integrity here. We don't have a crisis of legitimacy. We only have people disagreeing with our opinions."

But what he's ignoring is the fact that what people are seeing is a very politically-motivated majority, a supermajority, plowing through all sorts of norms, rolling back half century of abortion rights, and also changing gun rights, changing regulatory authority, doing all those things, based on patterns that arise from their partisan roots.

So, what Elena Kagan is saying is that "When you appear that way, when you're doing - when you're acting, not like a court, not like you're relying on the law, but that you're relying on politics? That's necessarily going to undercut the integrity of the court." And the Chief is saying, "Well, that's not exactly what's happening here"--

COATES: Well it sounds--

BISKUPIC: --even though we know he--

COATES: Right. I was going to say--

BISKUPIC: We know that's how he thinks.

COATES: I mean, on that point, you've written about this extensively, Joan, the idea, he's not a - he's not a silly man.


COATES: He's not - he's not ignorant to the fact that there is public perception.


COATES: And perception is king, in some respects.

The question though, is, I mean, yes, we have political grievances, as part of our political discussions, all the time. Should the Supreme Court though cater to the perception? That's the real question.

They have a new term coming up where, look, they've got a whole host of issues to tackle. If people believe they're political, and they try hard not to proceed - be perceived that way, aren't they catering?

BISKUPIC: Well, wait a minute, though. That's not really catering to public perceptions.

There's a whole other first step of how are they going to decide cases? Are they going to rely on precedent? Are they going to give honest rationales that people can believe in? Are they going to vote in ways that do not appear to be pushing boundaries, becoming more activists? And that's the issue.

[21:35:00] It's not so much - it's not catering to the public. I don't think. I mean, obviously you have to the - many of the justices, over time, have taken into consideration, public perceptions. But that's not exactly what's happening here. It's the idea of public confidence.

And what polls have shown is that people believe that the justices are now voting, based on their politics, not on their ideology, necessarily, and not on what the law says, but based on their politics. And certainly, the court, as a whole, shouldn't want that.

COATES: Of course not. And we've got a few weeks before the - it's really coming quickly, the new term, and a lot of the issues they're going to tackle are going to be politically significant, as well. Again, we'll see what happens.

Joan Biskupic, thank you so much.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

COATES: Always great to have you here.

Look, there's now a new approach, to curbing gun violence, in America, some are talking about, and it has to do with the financial organizations. Could credit card companies be stepping into the fight? And if they are, will it make a difference? We'll talk about it next.


COATES: So, credit card companies are going to begin tracking sales, for something we buy a lot, in this country. More than new cars, more than refrigerators, we're talking about guns.


Right now, when we use a credit card, at all sorts of stores, whether it's a hair salon, or a movie theater, something called a Merchant Category Code tracks that purchase.

Well now, the international group that manages the codes, and sets these codes, and determine what they are, it's called the International Organization for Standardization, ISO (ph), and they have approved a code, for sales, at gun stores.

Now, keep in mind, stores like Walmart that sell more than just guns, they have different codes.

Here to talk about the political, legal and practical implications, is Paul Begala, Scott Jennings; and Elliot Williams, is back with this as well.

Gentlemen, I mean, first of all, just let's talk about this, this is not tracking everyone's gun sales, to have a database. But that is the fear people have that by having a corresponding code, you'll know who's buying what, when and where. Issue?

E. WILLIAMS: Well-- COATES: Are you guys quiet, right now? I said the word, "Gun," I said, "Sale," I said, "Tracking." Are you guys joking?

E. WILLIAMS: I was - I was waiting for Scott Jennings' head to explode.

COATES: I know.



JENNINGS: I was at a gun range, yesterday, shooting my guns. And--


JENNINGS: Look, you just said, "It's not going to be a gun registry." And then you said, "We're going to know who, what, when, where?" I mean, how is it not--

COATES: I said, the fear is that.

E. WILLIAMS: Federal law prohibits a gun registry. So look, let's--

JENNINGS: So, they went outside of the law.

E. WILLIAMS: Scott - no, they didn't, Scott.


JENNINGS: And intimidated--


JENNINGS: --the credit companies into doing it.

E. WILLIAMS: OK. OK. Number one - let me say two things. Number one, your right to purchase all the ammunition that you bought, at the gun range, that's important. It's a beautiful thing. It's your right as a citizen, right?

Now, look, people ought to be suspicious, whenever some tech company, or bank, gets access to their data. The problem is that there is a framework, for tracking suspicious activity.

JENNINGS: What is the definition?

E. WILLIAMS: We - let me finish.

JENNINGS: What's the definition of suspicious activity?

E. WILLIAMS: Let me finish. Human trafficking, OK, is a great example, where when an individual uses a credit card, to purchase hotel rooms, clothing, fast food, gasoline, and makes a big deposit right after? That's an immediate flag, for human trafficking, under the law. It's for suspicious activity.

You could create a similar framework, for straw purchases of firearms, or mass purchases of firearms. You could do that. Now, I'm with you that of course, you ought to be suspicious, if you're talking about cutting down on folks' lawful conduct.

But people also kill citizens with guns. And if someone's going to commit a mass shooting, there ought to be a way, to flag a suspicious purchase. I think we agree on this more than you think it, Scott.

BEGALA: Hey, the thing you're both missing, is it's not the government.

E. WILLIAMS: Number one, yes.

BEGALA: It's Corporate America. The government is constrained by this misreading by the morons of the Supreme Court by the Second Amendment. I say this, as a gun owner, and a responsible gun owner, I want gun safety laws. But this is credit card companies.

You were at the gun range? I was at a bar, Saturday night, in Austin, Texas--


BEGALA: --drowning my sorrows, after Alabama squeaked off a win against my Longhorns. Credit Card Company knows that.

They ought to know that that animal, who murdered over 40 people, at the Pulse nightclub, in Orlando, in 2016, spent $26,000, with a credit card, on guns and ammo. We should know that. I'm not saying that you should even stop him, although I would have liked to have. But that can send up a fight (ph). There's nothing wrong with that.

But it's not the government doing. It's private business. Private business already knows everything you buy.


COATES: Well, Paul, is it the when?


COATES: Is it the when, for you, they know it? Because obviously, we know about the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooter, and many others--


COATES: --because of the FBI investigations, after the fact, and the credit card receipts. But your point is the proactive - the knowing it beforehand, seems like it is discrimination, in some way?

JENNINGS: Well, who's going to know it? And to me, the whole term here that matters is suspicious activity. Because what's suspicious to Elizabeth Warren, who's out banging the drum, to say, is probably less suspicious-- E. WILLIAMS: But--

JENNINGS: --to me.

E. WILLIAMS: But I'm literally saying, there is - you can do this.

JENNINGS: Who? Who can do it?

BEGALA: Corporations.

JENNINGS: You want?

BEGALA: You're conflating the corporations--

JENNINGS: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

E. WILLIAMS: I think you're--


BEGALA: Corporations exist to make money.


BEGALA: They are doing this because they will make money.


BEGALA: Why, Scott? Because they're responding to the market.

E. WILLIAMS: I just--

COATES: I want - I want to hear--


COATES: I want to hear from all of you.

BEGALA: I think it's really interesting.

COATES: It's all important. But finish your point, Paul.


BEGALA: Corporate America responds to the market. And the market says, they want this. And I believe in markets. I'm not a socialist guy. You may be. But this is what the market wants.

COATES: You can respond to that. That's OK, Scott.

BEGALA: And it responds better--


BEGALA: --than the political market, because they have things in the politics, like the Supreme Court and the filibuster rule, your friend, Mitch McConnell, abuses, all the time. They have the imbalance of representation in the Senate. So, political markets are, right now, dysfunctional.

Thank God, economic markets are not. Then that's all they're doing is just trying to maximize profit.

JENNINGS: If Paul keeps saying out loud, he's not a socialist, they're not going to let him into the--


JENNINGS: --they're not going to let him into the next Democratic National Convention. That's number one.

Number two, here's the deal. To me, this is the new left-wing way, to get things done. The reason the government is not doing it is because the people, who want this, can't convince the Congress to do.

E. WILLIAMS: That is nonsense. And let me--

JENNINGS: No, no, no, no, no, like--

BEGALA: Congress' dysfunction.

JENNINGS: You talked. Let me talk.


JENNINGS: You can't convince the Congress to pay off student debt? Go--

E. WILLIAMS: Oh, you're--


JENNINGS: Ah, ah, ah, ah!

E. WILLIAMS: Oh, Scott, no, no.

JENNINGS: Go convince--

COATES: Hold on. I want to--

JENNINGS: Go convince Joe Biden--

COATES: --I want to hear you.

JENNINGS: --to break the law. You get mad about what the Supreme Court is or is going to do? Go right out in front of their house. Here - this is the new way to do it.


JENNINGS: The politics of intimidation and bullying. And now, they've bullied these credit card companies into doing this. And all we're going to end up doing is fighting about what is a suspicious purchase? E. WILLIAMS: Yes.


JENNINGS: And they're going to end up inundating police--


JENNINGS: --police precincts with thousands--

E. WILLIAMS: OK. All right. All right, look?

JENNINGS: --of pages of people like me--

E. WILLIAMS: Here's the thing. I spent - I spent my--

JENNINGS: --who went to the gun range, for shooting 38--

E. WILLIAMS: I appreciate your passion, my brother. But look, I spent my entire career, prior to this life, in law enforcement, right? If someone rents a big U-Haul truck, and a lot of fertilizer, and any other number of other materials, and uses their credit card? They are going to be flagged, for making a suspicious purchase, for a terrorist act. You can do that same framework for--

BEGALA: Right.

E. WILLIAMS: --and I'm just speaking, as a matter of law enforcement, you can do the same thing, for mass shooting, straw purchases, and other serious firearm crimes. I'm not talking about lawful citizens, or their right to own firearms, which is--

JENNINGS: But it's not law enforcement doing it.


JENNINGS: It's credit card, it's people sitting in--

E. WILLIAMS: But they are flagging the transaction--

JENNINGS: It's people sitting in the PR office, at the credit company--


JENNINGS: --in their view--

E. WILLIAMS: Flagging it's--

JENNINGS: --in their view of what suspicious is and what might not.

E. WILLIAMS: It's not.

JENNINGS: Vastly different things.

E. WILLIAMS: It's clearly - what I'm saying, Scott, is there's not a guy, and a laptop, watching--

BEGALA: Right.

E. WILLIAMS: --and then deciding what's a--

JENNINGS: Well who is this?

BEGALA: It's an algorithm.

E. WILLIAMS: It's an algorithm!


JENNINGS: Oh, that's - that'll help us.


BEGALA: But it is a--

COATES: Last point, Paul.

BEGALA: It's a corporation. They're doing it because the market wants it. The political market can't act because you guys have broken it. But so now the corporate market is acting. That's why they're doing this.

JENNINGS: Don't worry. We'll--

BEGALA: And so, take it up with hundreds of millions of Americans--


BEGALA: --who want some sensible, commonsense prevention, to keep some animal, from shooting up a nightclub.

JENNINGS: He's not a socialist, and he loves markets. We'll invite you to our convention. You can come to the GOP convention.

BEGALA: And you--

JENNINGS: You feel?

COATES: Oh, on that as occasion, I'm just saying, no soup for any of you, right now, let me tell you. But let me just tell you, the beauty of this conversation, you guys realize that all that's really happened is there is now a code. None of the slippery slope has happened yet.

E. WILLIAMS: Literally.

BEGALA: Right.

COATES: But this is where--


COATES: --we're going with this conversation, all across the country. E. WILLIAMS: Oh, yes.

COATES: Paul Begala, Scott Jennings, Elliot Williams. And Paul has an invitation to the RNC convention. Will he take it? That's up next!

BEGALA: I know!

COATES: Along with news about this whole college ranking system. What's going on? Something fishy might be happening. We'll talk about it.



COATES: For years, the U.S. News & World Report college ranking system has dictated, well, the hierarchy of America's higher education system. But beyond the bragging rights, which we know, were always there, does the ranking, does it really mean anything?

Here's Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona.


MIGUEL CARDONA, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Too often, our best resource schools are chasing rankings that mean very little on measures that truly count. College completion, economic mobility, narrowing gaps in access to opportunity for all Americans. That system of ranking is a joke.


COATES: "A joke," he says.

Well, on Friday, Columbia University admitted that it submitted inaccurate data, for last year's ranking. Its ranking has now fallen from second to 18th.

We're going to have the conversation now with Jeffrey Selingo, who's a professor, at Arizona State University, and Author of "Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions."

Jeff, I'm so glad you're here. First of all, is he right? Is the ranking system a joke?

JEFFREY SELINGO, AUTHOR, "WHO GETS IN AND WHY: A YEAR INSIDE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS": Well, the rankings basically confirm, what we already think of higher education, right?

We already think that the Ivy Leagues are some of the best institutions. What he's really right about is that it measures inputs, it measures, the students coming in the door, not the students going out the door.

What I really want to know, as a tuition-paying parent, is do these kids get jobs, right? Do they lead good lives? That's really what I want to know, out of the rankings. And U.S. News & World Report doesn't really measure that at all.

COATES: So, what are they measuring?

SELINGO: They're really measuring how much they spend on faculty salaries, how many faculty members per student there are, do faculty members have PhDs? By the way, two of the things that Columbia got in trouble about.

They're measuring things, volumes in the library. They're measuring things that for most parents and students they don't think they're really paying for, when they go to college.

COATES: So, what did Columbia do wrong? They lied about certain aspects of how they factor in these rankings and then tried to put those forward?

SELINGO: Yes, basically, they self-report most of the data to U.S. News & World Report. And U.S. News & World Report doesn't audit any of this data.

What's interesting about this is that if like a random school, in the middle of nowhere, submitted questionable data, U.S. News & World Report will probably be all over it, right, if a school suddenly went from 100, to number 10?

But here was Columbia. It's an Ivy League school. Of course, it probably should rank in the top 10. And that's part of the problem, with the rankings, is it really confirms that schools that we think already rank at the top.

COATES: Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, the idea we want that.

SELINGO: That's right.

COATES: But I'm asking, I mean, how - Columbia can't be the only one, to have maybe fudged the numbers. And I don't mean that every school does that. But just based on what you describe, self-reporting, as a prosecutor, I'm not really into the trust system.

SELINGO: No, and even indeed, U.S. News also relies on U.S. government data, which also isn't audited. So, a lot of these numbers could be wrong.

I don't think most institutions are misleading people, and putting wrong numbers. There's some mistakes being made. But there were other schools, over the years, Temple, and Emory, and others. But Columbia is definitely probably the most prestigious that has been caught doing this, over the years.

COATES: Well, the prestige notion of it? I mean, this speaks volumes, about higher education, in general. I mean, if the idea of rankings chasing is the goal, as opposed to the factors, you talked about, what happens after that degree? It's a larger political discussion about the value we put on higher education.

SELINGO: And also, these schools at the top are tiny, right? You have to go - you basically - the top 20 universities, in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, educate maybe 150,000 undergraduates, out of like, 14 million, 15 million undergraduates, across the country. So, they're so tiny, but yet they take up so much of our time, like right now.

COATES: A really important conversation. Jeff Selingo, thank you so much.

Listen, we'll be right back, in just a moment.



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

But "DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now. And he's live, from London.

Hey, Don Lemon?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Hi, Laura. It's interesting that I'm here, as this is all going on. But I started a conversation, at the top of the show, about whether - about the future of the Monarchy, so to speak. We've been speaking of that here as well.

But I think it is - there's more interest in that or talk about that in the States, since we don't come from a monarchy--


LEMON: --and trying to understand why all the pomp and circumstance, why there's a queen, why there's a king. It is something that is foreign, to most Americans, even though we're interested in the drama of it all.

COATES: It's true. I mean, I'll tell you what. I have been fascinated with the covers that you've been doing, and everyone's doing over there, because although it is maybe foreign, politically, to us, we are the descendants, politically-speaking, of a monarchy, the idea from Magna Carta to our Constitution.

LEMON: Right.

COATES: If you're a history fan, of any kind, you've got to look and see what's happening.

And certainly, this is a woman, who is a force to be reckoned with, in terms of the moments she had, in the long tenure, on the throne that really she's seen so much. And I just wish we had more personal insight about the things that she really thought about.

LEMON: Well, if you think about 1952, right, you think about all of it?

COATES: Yes. LEMON: Decolonization of this country, you think about the Civil Rights movement, you think about Nelson Mandela, South Africa, you think about 9/11 all - just, I mean, amazing.