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CNN Live Event/Special

Special Counsel Probing Schemes to Overturn Election; Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Rivals Battle for Iowa Governor Support; Axios Reports President Biden Has Temper; 50 Cent Says L.A. Is Screwed Over Its Zero Bail Policy; Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 Survivors Are Not Taking No For An Answer. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 10, 2023 - 22:00   ET



AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One thing that's clear, both of these companies have had plenty of time and plenty of experience dealing with the problems that have come with disinformation, that have come with having poor guardrails from young people, and the fact that they don't really have a plan, that it's as messy as it is right, now is pretty surprising.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Audie Cornis, Donie O'Sullivan, thank you both.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Congrats on your new show.

COLLINS: Thank you. Thanks for being here for the first episode. Also thank you for joining us. CNN Primetime with Laura Coates starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Kaitlan, great show, congratulations.

COLLINS: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: Good to see you there, everyone, and good evening to all of you. Welcome to a special edition of CNN PRIMETIME. I'm Laura Coates.

And, look, Congress is returning and they are coming in hot, everyone. Republicans set to hold hearings on the perceived weaponization of the government, all the while Special Counsel Jack Smith, he may be very closely to decide whether Donald Trump over his weaponization of the government, of course, the efforts to overturn the election. And, separately, tomorrow in Georgia, selection begins for a grand jury that will also decide whether to indict him. In a moment, I will speak live with a key witness in the special counsel's investigation, former Trump official Ken Cuccinelli.

But, first, here is your evening's cliffs notes, or shall I say the Coates notes, for a second, on the various alleged schemes that Jack Smith is likely to be considering. Now, in one scheme, Trump considers a plan to use the military to seize voting machines. In another, military-related plot, allies floated the idea of even using martial law, using troops to redo an election.


MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He could also order, he could order the -- within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities, and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election in each of those states.


COATES: Could he? Well, in another, scheme the Trump campaign convinced fake electors in seven states that Biden won closely.


MESHAWN MADDOCK, CO-CHAIR, MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN PARTY: We fought to seat the electors. The Trump campaign asked us to do that.


COATES: Yet another focal point, the pressure campaign. Trump and his team call up state officials, well, including this, remember this infamous exchange?


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes. which is one more than we have because we won the state.


COATES: But as they, but wait, there is more, because another plot, Trump asked the Justice Department to declare the election corrupt. Now, of course, the DOJ refused.

But perhaps the most famous of the alleged schemes, Trump tries to bully his number two, then-Vice President Mike Pence, to reject Biden's electoral votes. Now, he did this privately, he did this publicly, eventually making the vice president a target of the January 6th mob.

Now, look, of all these schemes, you're likely asking yourself, well, what laws were broken, Laura? What could Jack Smith bring charges on or for? Well, I'm not going to speculate, since we do not yet know all of the evidence and the testimony. But I'll tell you what is clear. It's clear that this case is far more complicated and wide-ranging than the classified documents indictment that we have recently seen.

I want to start out tonight with Ken Cuccinelli, a former homeland security official under Trump. He's the founder of the Never Back Down PAC, a pro-DeSantis super PAC. Ken, longtime no see. Welcome. How are you doing?

KEN CUCCINELLI, FOUNDER, NEVER BACK DOWN PAC: Better than America, Laura, but I'm working on that. I hope you're doing well.

COATES: What an opening, better than America. That might be a T-shirt. You probably already have one, Ken. But let me ask you about this part of it, because I'm wondering what you had to say when you have been asked multiple times now about January 6th. You told the January 6th committee that both Giuliani and Trump asked you about whether DHS could seize voting machines. And I really want to know what those conversations were like, Ken?

CUCCINELLI: They were boring, Laura. I was asked a question and I answered it. And that was the end of it in each of two conversations. No one ever pushed me, no one ever asked again in the same conversation. So, the question was asked and the question was answered. So --

COATES: What was your answer?

CUCCINELLI: Oh, it was that we don't have any authority to do that.

COATES: How was that received, Ken?

CUCCINELLI: Well, in each case, with a conversational shrug, I was on the phone with Rudy Giuliani. So, there was no pushback, there was no follow-up questions.


And I was with the president. And he did not pushback, and he did not ask follow-up questions either.

COATES: Trump was content with your answer that there was no authority to seize those machines?

CUCCINELLI: Well, as I told the grand jury, it's really not for me to say what he thought but he did not push or get upset, or ask any further questions on the subject of me. He only ever asked once.

COATES: Were there others in the rooms that asked that question as a follow-up that he did not say?


COATES: You met with the grand jury at least twice, interestingly enough. And I wonder what those investigators are most interested in. Your earlier discussions, you say, may have been boring. What were those meetings like?

CUCCINELLI: Well, it was pretty tedious to be in front of the grand jury. The second time was a result of awaiting court rulings on conversations directly with the president. But more interesting was the clear zeal of certain grand jurors to find something, A. And the second visit, I actually finished with a bit of a philosophical legal argument with the prosecutors, which was shocking to me, having, as you know, I've been the former attorney general.

And to see -- I understand the disagreements, and I'm just talking about the legal disagreements. I'm not talking about the violence. No one condones the violence, I certainly don't. COATES: Well, I don't want to be theatrical and I want to know (INAUDIBLE), but let's not be theatrical. What were they asking? What was the argument?

CUCCINELLI: They are clearly trying to make first impression legal disputes into crimes. And there may be other crimes, but having a different view of how one can contest their own election was a bit much. They are clearly there with an agenda and it was fairly sad to see.

COATES: Ken, just for the audience's perspective, obviously, I love talking to a fellow lawyer, but most people don't realize that grand jurors are able to ask questions. They are able to actually be involved in that probable cause discussion and finding whether to indict someone or not, so them being proactive is not the abnormal aspect of it.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, that was not the problem at all.

COATES: Yes. But your point about the notion that you believe that the prosecutors had an agenda to use a first impression, you call that sort of thing, what was your understanding of what they were considering as likely charges based on that first impression?

CUCCINELLI: Well, Laura, I came on here to talk about Ron DeSantis and why he's a great candidate for president. I'm a little surprised to be talking about this subject. This has been reported on pretty widely, including my two -- testimony about twice answering the question that voting machines could not be seized by DHS, and we will see what Jack Smith does.

I certainly believe that this system is being weaponized. I noticed in your introduction that you referred to it as purportedly being weaponized. And I'm very disappointed in that very unobjective approach that you have.

COATES: The word purported is unobjective, Ken. In fact, it's the definition being somebody who knows full well, I'm not going to prosecute and litigate a matter to conclusion on air.

CUCCINELLI: Look at the Russia hoax, Laura, I mean, and the FBI's role in it, and the Clinton campaign's role in it. And the notion that that agency has not been in engaged in injecting itself into elections is already wrapped up in a comment, like purported weaponization of the government, when you're referencing the Republican Congress.

COATES: Well, Ken, let me stop you for a moment. I want to both have a conversation. I don't want to talk over each, other but I do want to say, you said that you wanted to talk about DeSantis. One of the reasons I brought up the notion of weaponization is because this has been something he has most recently said, at least over the weekend, with respect to the purported, I'm sorry to use the word again, but it happens to be in my lexicon, Ken, the idea of the purported frontrunner in the campaign for the RNC nomination. And he has come out to suggest that Trump somehow colluded with social media to squash his story and beyond. But I bring it more fulsomely in this way, Ken, and I'd love to talk to you about this very notion, because the idea of weaponization and the government, is that going to be one of Governor Ron DeSantis' lead campaign platform points? Because it certainly is part of what several leaders of Congress are invested in right now.

CUCCINELLI: Well, I would not call it lead. It is part of an array of policies that he has announced he would pursue. And one of those is returning federal law enforcement, specifically the FBI and the Department of Justice, back to a status of objectivity.


And to being the federal police towards that the FBI is supposed to be, in addition to being the counterintelligence force. That is not how they have acted for ten years. And Donald Trump complains about it, and he complains about Christopher Wray, but he hired Christopher Wray, and he was in charge of the Department of Justice for four years.

And the comparison between those two on the Republican side is very stark, particularly when you look at the governor's record in Florida, where when they had intransigent elements of their government, he dealt with them effectively, and, by the way, in the largest swing state in America, got the overwhelming approval of not just Republican voters but the middle 20 percent that gave him a nearly 60-40 victory in 2022. So, he's had voter approval for this approach. His vision --

COATES: It is undeniable -- excuse me, it is indisputable. I don't want to cut you off, but it is indisputable, he has been successful in successive gubernatorial campaigns. It's absolutely one that no one can take away from Governor Ron DeSantis.

But I am surprised, Ken, given the fact that you have been an official in the government, you have been an attorney general in the state of Virginia, among many other positions that you've actually had as well. Doesn't it seem odd to you that the notion that the government is weaponized only if it is leading to an unfavorable result for you or your candidate of choice, that can't be the only time that it's noted as weaponization, wouldn't you agree?

CUCCINELLI: I would agree vehemently with that, just as Congressman Raskin objects to electoral votes when it's Donald Trump winning the election in 2016 but thinks it's a form of insurrection when it happens in 2020 by other congressmen doing the exact same thing that he did. You can go back to the Bush v. Gore election in 2000 and seeing election after election where Republicans won, that Democrats were making the kind of objections that have now been taken to a higher level by the Democrats themselves.

I would like us to see all Americans get to the point where each of our states has such clean, clear, transparent elections that we can all have confidence, even when we're on the losing side, that the outcome most righteous and appropriate. They will never be perfect but that should be a shared goal. It's one I work toward and parallel right now in my life today, and I think that we're gradually having some success in that area, but that happens at the state level, Laura, much more so than at the federal level.

And Governor DeSantis has been a leader in that as well in Florida, and all of the challenges that have come along have been well-handled, and they count their votes quickly and cleanly and there are not major complaints from either side. And you just can't say that about many of the other swing states.

COATES: Well, Florida certainly has been under the microscope for a lot of this voting-related legislation, where some feel it's not transparent, fair or free, and not in the way that you're speaking about it.

However, I do want to give you the last word on this because your Never Back Down PAC spokesman, Steve Cortez, recently said, look, even with -- despite of all the things you just said about the success of Governor DeSantis while in office as governor, he is still far behind. And he's well ahead certainly of those who are in the single digits but he is still behind Donald Trump. Why do you think that? Is he's blamed the media, but why do you think that is?

CUCCINELLI: So, he's the most accomplished chief executive of our lifetimes, president or governor. And I have great faith in the American people and in those I expect both Republicans and independents to participate in the actual voting for the nomination in 2024. And at the end of this marathon, I'm confident that the governor will come out on top.

That does not mean it will be easy, but he's the hardest worker in the field, and he has a great personal record. He worked his way through college. He served in the military. He's the only veteran running for president. I don't know how far back you have to go for that, but that's the situation he's in. And he's done a great job and has recognized at least by independents and Republicans, many of whom switch sides to vote for him in Florida as a success, and with a vision that will work for an entire country, not just a state.

So, Donald Trump is -- he is not incumbent obviously but he comes into the race with that kind of voter knowledge of him, and it takes a while to get known to that same level and depth. And I believe that Ron DeSantis will shine in debates regardless of who shows up, just as he has in dealing with the press, and sometimes a combative fashion that is afraid to --


COATES: Do you mean purported combative fashion, purported, Ken? I have to give it right back to you. Because I've got to tell you, there have been moments that has not necessarily been the case. But I hear the case you are making for the governor. We will see how everything goes down the line. I appreciate talking to you today. It's been a long time. Nice to see you.

CUCCINELLI: Good to talk to you, Laura.

COATES: Thank you.

Next, everyone, the big question, do actions speak louder than endorsements? Well, Trump is going off on Iowa's Republican governor tonight. I'll speak with one governor who has also been in the same crosshairs. Governor Sununu joins me next.

Plus, new reporting suggests that President Biden has a bit of a temper, and I'm being generous, according to the reporting. And he is constantly yelling and cursing at his staff. That reporter is going to join me live with all of the four-letter details.


COATES: Iowa, home to hawk eyes, sweet corn, Ray Kinsella and the first Republican contest right out of the 2024 gate. And now, it's home to a new war of words between rivals. The governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, has said that she will not endorse a candidate in the January caucuses. But as The New York Times points out, she's taking a liking to maybe one of her colleagues, Florida's Ron DeSantis.


Now, DeSantis has hit Iowa four times already this year, and three of those times, the governor has appeared with him. In fact, she appeared alongside Casey DeSantis, the governor's wife, last week in her first solo campaign event.


CASEY DESANTIS, FLORIDA FIRST LADY: I am the same thing, a woman on a mission. And I think you are a woman on a mission too.


COATES: Ron DeSantis and Reynolds have been, well, very generous with the praise of each other.


REPORTER: If you are elected president, would you consider Kim Reynolds for a cabinet position?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I mean, I think Kim could be considered for just about anything that a president would pick.

GOV. KIM REYNOLDS (R-IA): Iowa, the Florida of the north.

R. DESANTIS: Could very well maybe that Florida is the Iowa of the southeast.


COATES: That have to have been planned. But because Reynolds won't actually endorse, well, guess what, Trump rage at her online today, and why? Well, he expected Reynolds to be in his corner, since it was Trump who gave her predecessor an ambassadorship, which, of course, then elevated Reynolds. And after all, it was Trump who held a late rally back in 2018 in a race that Reynolds won with just over 50 percent of the vote.


TRUMP: She has become our real star in the Republican Party.


COATES: Well, fast forward to now, and this is Trump recently at a campaign event in Iowa.


TRUMP: I hate to say it, without me, you know she was not going to. You know that, right?


COATES: Joining me now is New Hampshire's Republican governor, Chris Sununu, who has also been in the crosshairs of Trump. Last month, he announced that he would not seek the GOP nomination in 2024. Governor, it's good to see you. How are you this evening?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): I'm doing great. I'm still giggling on the idea that Kim Reynolds would not win without Trump's help. But Kim Reynolds is a superstar of a governor out of Iowa. She did not need anybody's help. But that's Donald Trump. He is going to take credit for the sun shining and the stars twinkling. That's just the way he rolls, right?

COATES: I mean, you've not been a stranger to these attacks, the idea that trying to take credit for things, interestingly enough, is one of the issues in terms of last year's midterm elections, right, the idea of wanting to take credit but not wanting to assume responsibility. You've spoken about this very issue.

But let me ask you, why do you think that Trump is so antagonistic about the governor right now and the perception that she is cozying up to DeSantis?

SUNUNU: Well, look, the former president has been, I would think, actually politically smart and that he knows how to get his base ginned up. And that's to antagonize anyone about anything, and have his quick lines. It's not a very appealing charm to many except for the base, and he does it. And so he just kind of takes his jabs and all that, he wants to take credit for everything that happens, he wants to, again, as you said, carry none of the responsibility.

The fact of the matter is we lost big in 2018 because of the former president. We lost, he lost, we lost the Senate and the House in 2020. We should have had huge ones in '22, but we lost with him, his candidate, his messaging. So, we are kind of 0-3 here, right? We should have done much better in all of those races, which is why I keep saying to the Trump supporters out there, if you vote for this guy and as the nominee, you are just handing into Biden, and likely then handing it to Kamala Harris, by the way, because whether it's a health issue or whatever, I think a lot of folks are concerned that the current president won't make it through a second term. So, I joke but I'm kind of serious when I say, hey, Trump supporters, thank you for giving us Kamala Harris is the next president.

COATES: Well, I certainly heard a talking point that seems to be dismissive of her own ability to try to serve and the notion of the age of President Biden, which isn't that far away from one Donald Trump, we all know as well, by the way.

But let me ask you just to extend the ports analogy you raised, is you're 0-3. DeSantis is in second place. He is in the double digits, that's true, but there's a double-digit lead that Trump now enjoys. Do you see DeSantis as the greatest threat to Trump? Is his presence in this race something that's going to contribute to Donald Trump securing a nomination, or is there somebody who might be a more viable prospect for that RNC nomination? You say it's not you.

SUNUNU: Yes. Well, look, I think there's a lot of nominees and potential nominees in the presidential race that not only could be great presidents but could win the nomination.


SUNUNU: DeSantis in particular is most likely to pull from the -- who could win?


SUNUNU: Oh my goodness. I mean, whether it's Nikki Haley or Tim Scott or Doug Burgum, who just got in the race, DeSantis could. I mean, DeSantis is the most likely to pull the Trump voter away from the Trump base because they kind of share a lot of those same voters.


But then you have more than 50 percent of the voter base in the Republican Party that's going to choose amongst six, seven, eight, nine candidates, however many might get on stage.

But, again we always talk about it. It's so early. We're still a month-and-a-half away from the first debate. Is Trump even going to get on that stage or is he going to wimp out? Are the other candidates going to push back on him en masse, as they should, or are they going to kind of try to hedge their bets? And I think, overall, the field has been a little bit weak, a lot a bit weak, frankly, on hitting back on the former president, as they should.

The former president stands for yesterday. He stands for re-litigating his past, as opposed to the Republicans making a great case for the future. And we've got a great product as Republicans. I think we do. I think we forget the concepts of fiscal responsibility and limited government, local control, you come first, individual responsibility. These are things that get independents and even conservative Democrats excited. But I don't hear a whole lot of it coming out of the party right now, which is why I'm just trying to keep that message, trying to make the party bigger, get independents back on board, get some of those young voters back on board. I think there's a lot of time to do that as a party.

COATES: Governor, on that point about the timing of things, I know, obviously, New Hampshire first to have a primary, which is, of course, causing, as my mother would say, agita to all of South Carolina, and the DNC hoping to go first particularly on these issues.

But let me ask you about the prospects there. You have said in an op- ed where you said you were not going to run in 2024, you essentially said, look, if you are in single-digit polling by the winter, you should pull out of this particular race. But then when you just said, if Trump does not, for example, show up for the debate, which, of course, part of the criteria for getting there, the RNC has laid out that criteria, will you stick to that? If Trump chooses not to debate, not to appear, will you have the same criteria or should the RNC have the same critieria for the loyalty pledge and beyond if he does not show?

SUNUNU: Well, the loyalty pledge stuff is kind of bogus. I mean, people are going to sign whatever pledge they want to get on the stage, knowing at the end of the day the voters are going to decide who their nominee is. So, I don't worry about that stuff so much.

I think what you brought up is the most important point come November, December, if there are candidates that are sitting in low single digits, you've got to go. You have to have the responsibility to clear the field. Their donor base has to have the responsibility to tell their candidates to clear the field, get this down to two or three. If it's a one-on-one race, Trump and someone else, Trump loses and win as Republicans in November. And all that matters is winning in November of '24.

And if you can't clear that hurdle, if the math isn't there and it's not for Trump, you have got to find somebody else. And I think the Republican Party will kind of embrace that and really take advantage of that both through Iowa, New Hampshire, and as we go into Super Tuesday.

COATES: The first debate is coming up just in about less than a month now, and many of the candidates have not even qualified for it. So, do you even think the RNC's rules are fair? I mean, obviously, you are talking about the winter and we're, what, 480 some days away from the actual November election. What do you think about the rules right now? Because if you don't have people who qualify, won't it be only Trump on that stage?

SUNUNU: No, no. I mean, my guess is you're going to have six or seven other candidates on that stage, other than the former president. They still have another month or so. The hardest hurdle is the 40,000 small donors that they have to collect over 20 different states. That's a challenge, to be sure. But it says we're going to only to look at serious candidates. We don't necessarily want a field of 15 candidates on that stage. I mean, if they all make the threshold, great, have at it. But that threshold will also increase as you go to October, November and December, as it should, and just kind of force the field down a little bit.

And, again, if you're galvanizing voters, if you're doing well in the polls, you're going to maintain your position on that stage and you're going to have the opportunity to really show what you're all about, show what this party can do and where it can go.

COATES: Gosh, I've seen this movie of a very big debate stage before. I think it was 2016. Remember those days, not too long ago.

Governor Sununu, thank you so. Nice to see you.

SUNUNU: You bet.

COATES: Everyone, just ahead, did you know that behind closed doors, President Biden reportedly has quite the temper and curses at staff members? Well, my next guest wants to talk about it, next.



COATES: All right, we know that President Biden likes to cultivate his public image as kindly Uncle Joe, he's often referred to. But apparently behind the scenes, I'm talking about in private. He reportedly has a bit of a temper and unleashes it on his staff. That's according to an article by Axios.

Alex Thompson is the National Political Reporter and he joins me now. Alex, I'm glad that you're here. We've been on SiriusXM together. We can't swear here right now on cable. But let me ask you, maybe have read this in full to fully understand what exactly President Biden is being accused of doing or how he's behaving. Break it down for me.

ALEX THOMPSON, NATIONAL POLICE REPORTER, AXIOS: Yeah, so, you know, in public, maybe he'll whisper a bit when he's trying to make a point, but behind closed doors, he's prone to yelling. It's much saltier language, and he'll really angrily grill into his staff to the point that some staffers are actually a bit afraid to meet alone with the President.

COATES: Really?

THOMPSON: Sometimes, they'll bring in an extra person or two in order so that the firing line is a little bit distributed among several different staffers.

COATES: This runs really counter to the image that most people I think would have of President Biden. How are we knowing this? I mean, how do you get the reporting? Who is complaining about this? Is it current, former staff? Who?

THOMPSON: Both. Current, former, and by former I mean former White House staff, current White House and administration staff. Plus, you even have people going back, you know, we had a headline today, we called it old yeller. But I can confirm to you that Joe Biden was a young yeller, too. And so, we even talked to staff that went back to the early 2000s. And the fact is that this is a guy that has been professionally staffed for more than half of his life, and he's had a long life. So, it's been over 50 years where he's had people staffing him. And as a result, there's a generational difference, too. Yup, he's really, really tough on staff.


And he already had that, as he calls, you know, get his Irish up. He already had that Irish temper, you know, really lay into people and in some cases, you know, make them feel humiliated, make them feel embarrassed, and really feel like and truly be cussed out.

COATES: Many might be surprised by this because you might recall when he spoke about respect and dignity and the idea that if you're working with him, if you act in that way, you get fired. Well, listen to what he had to say.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm not joking when I say this. If you're ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot. On the spot. No ifs, ands, or buts. Everybody, everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That's been missing in a big way the last four years. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: So, you hear that and then there's the moment when he was calling a Fox reporter a stupid SOB. Not my words. You know what? Let me play it. You know, it's not Laura Coates' words. Listen to this.


UNKNOWN: Will you take questions on inflation then?

UNKNOWN: Thank you. Thank you all.

UNKNOWN: Do you think inflation is a political liability ahead of the midterms?

BIDEN: That's a great asset. More inflation. What a stupid son of a (BEEP).



COATES: Okay, so there has been different sides we have certainly seen. Why are we just hearing this now though? If you're talking about this reputation or the idea of more than 50 years worth of staffing. Has this been known throughout Washington and it's just not been covered, or this is something that's now become an issue? THOMPSON: So, there's a few different pieces to this. One is that Joe

Biden, because he's been in the public life 50 years, he knows the difference between a public persona and a private persona. And he's a very, you know, he didn't become president by accident, right? I mean, that requires a level of public persona skill that sometimes is different than your private persona.

In this case, why it's so interesting is that his public persona leans so much on him being civil, on his civility. And that clip you just showed about, you know, the standard he was setting for his White House, I can tell you some former Biden administration aides don't think that he's lived up even to his own standard.

Now, the other thing I would point out as well is that a lot of, you know, Biden does have a side of him that is incredibly generous, that is incredibly compassionate. It's why, despite being a really tough boss, he has had this very similar, same inner core of advisors for sometimes going back several decades.

You know, they go, they realize what they've gone into, and they can sort of go with the highs and lows. And I think that's part of the reason why he's actually had a relatively stable staff. So, it's a little bit public persona versus private persona, and also the fact that he does actually have that compassionate, generous side.

COATES: I mean, the political cynic in me wonders if this now makes him more attractive to voters in the sense of away from the ways being perceived by some as sort of the friendly Uncle Joe and how he's being talked about pejoratively by Donald Trump to the firebrand mentality of things. How has the White House received this? They must be thrilled by your reporting.

THOMPSON: I wouldn't say they were thrilled. I would say there were a few advisors in the White House that I think part of the reason they may have talked to me is because they thought it wouldn't necessarily be the worst thing in the world if this side of him got out a little bit.

COATES: So, I was wondering. Exactly. I mean, I think some people were like, you think he's senile? Let me tell you. You know, sort of that thing. Like, I just got cussed out behind closed doors for, you know, 10, 15 minutes for messing up this little small thing in a briefing. You know, that being said, when I went to the White House, what's really interesting because this White House's comms team is very tough.

They really defend their people. You know, even a slight, like a little comma out of line, they really go after. In this case, it was like, yeah, a lot of this stuff happens. Let's give you a little bit more context. It was a little bit out of character, where sometimes they really go to the mat. In this case, they're like, yeah, this is who he is, sometimes behind closed doors.

COATES: Alex Thompson, thank you for your reporting. Really interesting. Thank you so much. Everyone, Rapper 50 Cent. How's that for a transition? Biden to 50 Cent. Rapper 50 cent is saying that Los Angeles at that fact that it has reinstated a Zero Bail Policy is a problem. And he's predicting that things are going to go and get very bad. Does he have a point? Listen, we're going to debate it, next.




COATES: 50 Cent essentially says that Los Angeles is screwed over its Zero Bail Policy. Talk about what that policy is. Under it, those arrested for non-violent, low-level offenses are not forced to post bail. And that was initially implemented during the pandemic to reduce crowding in the jails and also in an effort to stop the spread of COVID. But in an Instagram post, the rapper shared a clip from a local newscast on the policy, writing, L.A. is finished. Watch how bad it gets out there. SMH.

For two different perspectives on this, I want to bring in CNN Political Commentator Van Jones and Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig. I'm glad to have both of you here. Listen, I know both of you are very passionate about this topic and about the idea of bail or no bail.

Let me begin with you and I want the two of you to have the conversation because that is what is most intriguing and we'll learn more from each of you. Van, what is your initial reaction to these comments? Is he right about the No Bail Policy headed for disaster?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Now, I'm glad he has raised the issues so we can talk about it, but in fact, what happened here in Los Angeles, maybe different other places, is that when they stopped forcing people to pay just because they had been arrested, again, this is not about people who have been convicted.


It's about people who have just been arrested. If you are guilty but have money, you can get out. If you're innocent and you're poor, you have to stay in jail sometimes for a year or two just waiting for trial. During COVID, they stopped doing that and it actually turned out that it improved the situation when it comes to crime.

And what the judge says is, hold on a second, six people sued saying keeping people in jail when they are innocent and just because they're poor is not fair. And the judge looked at the evidence and said, you know what, you're right, it's not fair to you.

And these policies are actually crime-ogenic. The judge said it's actually creating more crime in L.A. to let people buy the way out just because they have money. And so, here, it makes sense. And in fact, no officials in this town are willing to defend the old policy. And so, that's what's happening here in Los Angeles.

COATES: But Van, Jeff, I'm sure you have a different perspective because I know there is a study that talks about this concept of recidivism, essentially someone's likelihood to commit a crime once again. What's your take? Is Van right?

JEFF REISIG, YOLO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, no, 50 Cent is right on this one and you know in Yolo County, I'm one of fifty eight counties in California and last year was the president of the DS Association. We're the only county in California that measured this Zero Bail Policy and what we found unfortunately was when people were released on zero bail, they committed a hundred sixty three percent more crime than people who had been released for the same types of crimes on posted bail, and they committed 200 percent more violent crime than people who had posted bail.

So, you know, this is the only study of its kind in California that I've seen. I'm confident Los Angeles did not do its own independent study. And so, you know, I support Smart Bail Reform, I actually do. But zero bail policies without more are bad policy.

COATES: I will say though, and Van, to this point, I mean L.A. enacted a Zero Bail Policy back in, I think, late May and since then total arrests are actually down, I believe nearly 14 percent and total property crime down 6.4 percent. Violent crime has seen a slight uptick by 2.1 percent. So, I wonder why don't you think L.A. has seen the same impact from this policy as what Jeff is talking about in Yolo County?

JONES: You know, different localities are different. I do not argue with what my colleague just put forward. Now, correlation does not mean causation. It could be that there's other factors that are pushing crime up there. But what I will say is this. We have to get smarter about bail. I agree. There's something off here because, as I said, I don't think anybody who's listening would agree that somebody who's done something terrible, they're a predator, just because they have money, after they get arrested, they should be able to go home, particularly have money. And somebody else has got to sit in jail for a year and a half, lose their job, lose their place in school, lose their kids to the system, just because they don't have enough money to give somebody before they get to trial.

So, that's what this judge is concerned about. That said, if it turns out that there is a smarter, better way to do it, using other factors, maybe for some kinds of crime, maybe you might want to apply bail, I'm open to something that's reasonable. But what this judge found is that in our county we have 13,000 people in jail, half of whom have not been convicted of anything. You got 6000 people sitting in jail right now, haven't been convicted of anything, and they can't get out because they're poor. That doesn't work for Los Angeles.

COATES: Jeff, on that point, I mean, we all should believe in the presumption of innocence. I certainly do. But having to pay for access to that presumption of innocence is what confounds many when we're talking about the bill reform policies. What do you think is the appropriate balance to strike?

REISIG: Yeah, it's a good question. There's lots of things that we could do differently, and one of them is simply have a risk assessment on every single individual when they're arrested before you make the decision to release or not. And that's the problem with zero bail, is it's just an automatic release when they're arrested. They're not seen by a judge. They're not evaluated for their prior criminal history, their risk. They don't talk to the victims. They just release them. That's dangerous.

And, you know, to the L.A. case, unfortunately, my understanding is neither the district attorney nor any member of law enforcement appeared in that court case and offered a contrary opinion. I think Van knows that. And that's unfortunate because there is good data out there that tells another story than what the judge found.

COATES: Really important to hear both your perspectives. And this conversation certainly is not going to end today, but it will for now. Van Jones, Jeff Reisig, thank you so much, both of you.

REISIG: Thank you.

COATES: Everyone, the last three known survivors of the Tulsa Mass Race Massacre of 1921, all of whom are over 100 years old, are now vowing to appeal a judge's decision dismissing their case for reparations.


Their attorney says that they will not go away quietly. And he joins me next.


COATES: The last remaining survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 are not taking no for an answer. On Friday, a judge threw out their lawsuit seeking reparations from the city of Tulsa. But today, attorneys for the survivors announced they plan to appeal that decision. For more, I want to bring in one of the attorneys for the survivors, Damario Solomon Simmons. Thank you for joining me. I'm glad to see you right now.

I mean, this has been a very long process. And I just wanna focus for a second on one of the arguments that was made here and that had to do with the notion of what happened as a public nuisance. Some might be surprised as that particular theory, which is of course defined as, when a person or entity unreasonably interferes with the right that the general public shares in common. Of course, Tulsa is saying in response that just one's proximity to an event ought not to be enough. What will be the next stage here?

DAMARIO SOLOMON-SIMMONS, ATTORNEY FOR TULSA RACE MASSACRE SURVIVORS: Well, good to see you, Laura. Thank you so much for having me on tonight. Our public nuisance law here in Oklahoma is much more specific and more on point for our particular issue. It deals with something interferes with someone's right to property, the use of their property, or destroys it, or commits a crime by doing that. The Tulsa Race Massacre meets that definition 100 percent. And so, we feel that this decision by our judge, Judge Wall, is completely against the law.

Laura, and for the listeners to understand. We're not asking her for her to do a special favor for these three beautiful survivors that we have -- that you have on the screen. We were simply asking her to follow the black letter to Oklahoma law that's been on the books since 1910.

COATES: What will be the basis for the appeal?

SOLOMON-SIMMONS: The basis for the appeal is that we are right on the law. That this law, this lawsuit, she kicked us out a motion to dismiss. In Oklahoma, a motion to dismiss is at a very, very minimum, a hurdle, a bar.


All we had to put in force in front of the court is a plain statement of facts that stated that we believe we had a claim and believe we had a case. As you know, Laura, as a very experienced lawyer, for cases to get kicked out, motion dismissed is really disfavor in our legal system. We were simply asking for the opportunity to move forward in discovery.

We have waited almost three years. We filed this case on September 1st, 2020. We waited almost three years, had multiple court hearings, thousands of pages of documents to get kicked out on a motion to dismiss when last year, Laura, if you will remember, last year our same judge said we could move forward. And then a year later, she reverses herself and kicks us out of court with prejudice.

COATES: With prejudice, of course, meaning that they intend not to have you bring this action again for that reason. It's quite significant. But you mentioned it's taken years to get here just in the past several years, litigation-wise. We're talking -- these survivors over the age of a hundred years old. And thinking about what took place in Tulsa, these survivors, what are their spirits like to all of this, to think about getting to this point only to have this happen?

SOLOMON-SIMMONS: Yeah, you know, you have 109 year old mother, Violet, the fourth Fletcher, 108 year old Leslie Bennett, Phil Randall, and 102 plus, Uncle Hughes Van Ellis. And you're right, they've waited 102 years trying to get justice and reparations for themselves, their families in our community here in Tulsa. And for me to get the phone call, I got a text message, Laura, Friday night from a reporter asking me that I want to make a statement based upon our case being dismissed.

It was a gut punch. I could not believe it. We were completely blown away, could not believe that this had happened. And as I sat in my car in disbelief, it just pained me knowing I had to call my clients because I didn't want them to learn about this on the news because I know a story was coming out.

And I had to call them and talk to them. And these people are over 105, 109 years old, but they're still very lucid. And I had to tell them what happened. And the question was, why? The judge said we can move forward, what's the deal? And our judge did not provide us with any explanation. So, that's why we're so disgruntled today and why we believe we can

move forward with an appeal to Oklahoma Supreme Court because we think the law is very clear. No one disputes that the massacre happened. No one disputes that my client suffered a great loss. No one disputes that their property was burnt down. They're simply saying, we don't care.

COATES: Damario Solomon-Simmons, thank you so much. It's not the end of this story. I've had a chance to visit Greenwood Rising and taken my children to Tulsa to see the history that happened there. Thank you for joining us today.

SOLOMON-SIMMONS: Thank you. Well, he's the truth challenged Congressman and George Santos is now comparing himself to Rosa Parks. That's next.



GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY), U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Have you ever watched "Mean Girls?"


SANTOS: That's Congress in a nutshell.


SANTOS: There is a "Mean Girl" there. I'm not saying that's me, but I'm like the Katie, the Lindsay Lohan just coming in, kind of like, oh, wow, this is strange.


COATES: Well, George Santos apparently likes comparing himself to others. Well, the embattled lawmaker facing charges. Well, he has a new comparison. Here he is responding to Mitt Romney, telling him he didn't belong at the State of the Union.


SANTOS: Well, guess what? Rosa Parks didn't sit in the back and neither am I gonna sit in the back.