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CNN Live Event/Special

Drone Flying Near Jail During Inmate's Daring Jailbreak; Conspiracies, Baseless Claims Fill Raucous FBI Hearing; Trump Voter Sues Fox News for Defamation Over Conspiracies; Boris Jonson Speaks On Ukraine's Expected NATO Membership; Iowa Advances Abortion Ban Now After Six Weeks. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 12, 2023 - 22:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: A set of marine heat wave is even surprising scientists. Sea surface temperatures are registering at the 90-degree mark between the southern tip of the state and the Florida Keys. The hot water there could kill coral reefs in the area. That's why it's of such concern. There's also fear that it may provide fuel for a devastating hurricane season.

Thank you so much for joining us tonight, as you have every night this week. CNN Primetime with Laura Coates described right now. Hi, Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey. What you just described is my personal hell, a hot tub in the summer.

COLLINS: I don't get in hot tubs anyway, so it's fine.

COATES: Well, that's a different germaphobia. I'm with you there as well. Kaitlan, thank you so much.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates. A big show for you tonight. Among my guests, Chris Wallace, Audie Cornish and former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has some very passionate things to say about Vladimir Putin's war and a potential Trump/Biden rematch.

But, first, we begin with a nationwide manhunt after a dramatic jailbreak. And tonight, we're learning about a suspicious coincidence around the time of the escape. And the inmate's name Michael Burham. Apparently, he tied bed sheets together to climb down from the roof of a Pennsylvania jail last week. Yes, bed sheets.

We're told the murder suspect is a self-taught survivalist who may indeed be hiding in the woods. And as this search intensifies, investigators are now saying a drone was seen flying near the jail just before he escaped.


LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: I'm not a big believer in coincidences. But what I would tell you is that just prior to the escape, there was a drone flying in that area. It could be that there is a perfectly innocent and reasonable explanation. It could also be that it was somehow connected to his escape.


COATES: CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins me now. Shimon, what do we know? I mean a drone outside of the jail before and the bed sheets, there's a lot to this story, and an active manhunt.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And you sort of get the sense that the police really know a lot more than they're telling us. I think you saw the leader there, the head of the state police there in all these press conferences. He's been very careful about how much information he wants to give up.

COATES: Why do you think that is, though?

PROKUPECZ: Because I think they know a lot more than they're telling us. They seem to have clues and indications, strong indications that he's getting help, strong indications that he somehow is still in this area, perhaps in the woods. And that's maybe why they're sort of just kind of pushing in and pushing in because they expect perhaps he's going to just get tired and somehow give up.

But the drone was something that we just learned about. And, basically, it's based off of witness accounts. Witnesses have come forward to say that they heard something that sounded --

COATES: In the community?

PROKUPECZ: In the community. And this is kind of a remote area. And why would someone be flying a drone around the jail? So, of course, there's a lot of suspicion over this.

And you bring up the point of this bed sheet. I mean, this is not just one bed sheet. These are several bed sheets that were tied together in these very specific and kind of tight knots that he had to use to climb down three stories. So, this isn't two bed sheets, this isn't one bed sheet. These are several bed sheets that would indicate that perhaps he was stockpiling them.

And then the other thing that we learned today which is significant is that there's some security concerns at this jail. There was a hole in this fence. There was construction going on and there were some issues with the fence. So, now, the town is saying, wait a second, we need to improve security, we need to start doing some construction in order to secure this facility. So, there's a lot of questions still that need to be answered by the town and by the city officials there at the jail.

COATES: And the nature of the crimes that he has committed, I mean, these are significant crimes.

PROKUPECZ: Significant.

COATES: Abduction of an elderly couple, I mean, homicide.

PROKUPECZ: He's also a suspect in a homicide. And he was being held on $1 million bail and potentially facing the rest of his life in prison.

And so the fact is that it seems that there was sort of this kind of, we have cameras there, we're watching him. There's no way people are going to escape. And then you have this hole in this fence that he was able to get out of. So, there's some real concerns, as I said there.

And the other thing they want to know is who's helping him?

COATES: Right.

PROKUPECZ: They seem to keep indicating that they believe he's getting help. Who's helping him?

And the other thing I think today that was also very significant that they released information that indicates they do believe he's armed more today than they did yesterday. So, they keep getting new information. They're being very careful about how much they're telling us. But, obviously, they're learning new things. And there are just so many questions still remaining here.

COATES: Absolutely. Well, I can tell you one thing. If you are investigating it, we're going to find out the information in short order, and the community, of course, totally on edge, as they would be. And, by the way, this is part of a string of a -- we've heard a lot of reports about manhunts and escapees from a variety of different facilities. There's an investigation, I'm sure, under way at a more national level.

Shimon, nice to see you.

PROKUPECZ: Nice to see you.

COATES: Now, to a fact-check and a real one on that, well, can we call it the raucous hearing on Capitol Hill with FBI Director Christopher Wray in the hot seat, as he would have expected to have been after all of the buildup.


Republicans were grilling Wray about Hunter Biden and accusations of a weaponized government, while Democrats seem to be grilling Republicans. There were some moments that caught the eye of CNN's Daniel Dale. Here's one of them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is Matthew Graves?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: I believe Matthew Graves, at least the person I'm thinking of, is I think he was U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the person I'm thinking of too. Are you aware that he has promised more than 1,000 more individuals will be charged or indicted related to January 6th?

WRAY: I had not heard that he had said that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it seems arbitrary and there's reports that it's kind of a quasi quota system that he's put together for January 6th prosecutions.


COATES: All right. So, Daniel, hearing this, and, wow, it started out with a lot of we'll call it momentum. What are the real facts about this claim of a quota? What's this about?

DANIEL DALE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: The facts are, Laura, that there was no quota, there was no promised number of arrests or charges. What appeared to be happening here was that Congressman Biggs was grossly misstating the contents of a Bloomberg News story. That's story was about a letter that the chief federal prosecutor in D.C., Matthew Graves, wrote to the chief judge of the D.C. courts trying to estimate just how many cases they have coming down the pipeline clogging up the courts. And that letter estimated, it was a broad range, it said, we'll have about, we think, 700 to 1,200 cases.

And he emphasized over and over -- I have part of the letter from Bloomberg -- he said, it's incredibly difficult to predict future cases given the nature and complexity of the investigation. And Bloomberg said the estimates could change as the office continues to monitor charging statistics. So, it would be terrible if a prosecutor had an arrest or charge quota, but it just didn't happen here.

COATES: But that was only the point, right? The point was to get that talking point out there and have people wonder. And do they have the time to fact-check? Good thing we have you here.

There was another moment as well, and that was a claim that another Republican congressman was floating about the idea that President Biden is weaponizing the Department of Justice against Trump specifically because he is afraid that he might lose the upcoming election. Listen to this.


REP. WESLEY HUNT (R-TX): Now, it's my opinion that Joe Biden is the most unpopular president we have seen in a century, and that's why he knows the only way to stop President Trump from beating him in November is by putting him in jail.


COATES: What do we need to know?

DALE: Look, this claim has become gospel among Trump allies in Congress and elsewhere. There's no basis for it. There's simply no evidence that Joe Biden had any role whatsoever in the decision to prosecute, to charge President Trump in this document case. President Biden says he hasn't even spoken to his attorney general, Merrick Garland, about it, and there's no evidence to contradict that claim to-date. COATES: And one of the things that people are wondering, though, is, is the absence of evidence going to be something that will be coming out in all these hearings and can be confirmed? Because, obviously, part of this is trying to prove a negative, the absence of it there, it's very hard to be able to prove and guard against that.

DALE: It is. It's a constant challenge for fact-checkers, and for people more broadly who are interested in the truth. It's much easier to throw something out there and say, well, we don't have the facts, so, therefore, he probably was involved and you can't debunk it. Well, we can't debunk it, but I think the onus is on the people making dramatic claims to prove it, not the other way around.

COATES: There was a moment the director was asked more than once today, actually, Daniel, about an Arizona man with conspiracy theories that have been swirling around him for quite some time. Listen to this particular question from GOP Congressman Troy Nehls.


REP. TROY NEHLS (R-TX): He was at the first breach, and he breached the restricted area. Everybody, a lot of people getting arrested for not going into the Capitol, but during the restricted area, but, yes, Ray Epps, who many people feel, fed, fed, fed, right? And there's a lot of the cloud over this.


COATES: Walk us through this entire notion.

DALE: So, I'll start at the end, that is there's no evidence for this conspiracy theory and Mr. Epps today announced a lawsuit, defamation lawsuit, against Fox News for propagating the conspiracy theories.

The broader point, Laura, is that this conspiracy theory about Mr. Epps is a subset of the broader conspiracy theory that this insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was actually incited not by Donald Trump, who fired people up with lies about the election, not by, say, Fox News that promoted those lies too, but by the FBI under the presidency of Donald Trump for reasons. It's complicated to follow.

But Mr. Epps, as you said, is an Arizona man. He was seen in videos on January 5th and January 6th, again, urging people to go to the Capitol. He was seen at the site of the first breach. There's a famous video of him saying something, we can't hear it, to someone else at the breach. He was on Capitol grounds.

Now, the conspiracy theory is that because he wasn't arrested, he was probably a fed, he was an undercover FBI, something or other.

There are a lot of holes in this. First of all, again, I think the onus is on people to prove the theory. Second of all, a whole lot of people on Capitol grounds but did not commit violence --


COATES: Weren't arrested.

DALE: They weren't arrested. So, Mr. Nehls suggested here that was rare and unusual. It's not. In fact, it is the norm.

Second of all, in this defamation lawsuit today, Mr. Epps' lawyer said that they have been informed or they were informed in May by federal authorities that they did plan to pursue criminal charges against him. Now, whether or not that happens, it hasn't happened yet, but I think that would undercut this claim that they're giving him special treatment because he was somehow a fed.

COATES: And, of course, that's being responded to as well. You're just pretending to have wanted to charge him in some way. It goes on and on.

DALE: It never stops, yes.

COATES: Daniel Dale, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

And as Daniel mentioned, Ray Epps tonight is suing Fox News now for defamation, well, frankly, over clips just like these.


TUCKER CARLSON, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: We do know from contemporaneous videotape that a mysterious figure called Ray Epps encouraged the crowd to go into the Capitol. For some reason, Epps has never been indicted for that.

He's never been charged, much less imprisoned in solitary confinement, like so many others. Why is that?

Well, let's just stop lying. At this point, it's pretty obvious why that is.


COATES: Is it? I want to bring in Attorney Ken Turkel, who represented clients like Hulk Hogan and Sarah Palin. Ken, I'm glad that you're here.

First of all, we're talking about the umbrella of defamation. It's not enough to prove that the claims are false. More has to happen when you're talking about figures, and, of course, Fox News. Walk me through a little bit what was this has to -- what you have to prove in a case like this.

KEN TURKEL, REPRESENTED HULK HOGAN AND SARAH PALIN: It's going to be an actual malice case. They pled it as an actual malice case. I read the complaint pretty carefully. Probably limited public figure status because you don't know who he is before this happens.

But what I like to tell people is proving actual malice is to prove Carlson knew that it was false when he said it or acted in reckless disregard of that truth, which I tell people is a subjective, undisclosed mental process. How do you know when someone knows they're lying? Unless they tell you, which is Dominion, because we had the emails and all this documentary evidence, right? But you're in that pond.

And I don't care how good the case looks. I don't care how out of bounds a reporter was. It is the hardest standard of proof. I've tried these cases. They are exceedingly difficult. This one is interesting. I like this one a little bit. It's got some different stuff to it, but it's hard.

COATES: Well, Ken, given the Dominion case, though, does -- what happened in Dominion, is that somehow going to be transferrable to a claim right now? He filed it in the same jurisdiction, I believe, in Delaware, where you had the Dominion lawsuit also being filed. Is this going to be cross-referenced in some way? Because if it is, you have a whole lot of things in those emails and conversations about the duty to even investigate or whether you were recklessly disregarding the truth or never in pursuit of it and about falsity.

TURKEL: They've pled the case in a way that incorporates Dominion in what I would call background facts, specifically that Epps and his wife relied on what Fox was broadcasting about Dominion as a predicate for why he goes to D.C., that he believed the stolen election theory because he was a loyal Fox viewer, a Trump loyalist, voted for him twice, they alleged that. So, I like the way they've incorporated it because it makes sense if it's actually what happened.

How far do you go? Do you get into exactly what's ultimately proved? The settlement is confidential. How far did they get? How much mileage? I don't know. But it's interesting. I kind of usually have a viscerally bad taste for that kind of linking things up to exploit. This one made sense enough to me. It fit the story.

COATES: Well, the story continues, as you know, and we're following along. Ken Turkel, thank you for your expertise. We'll continue to lean on you. I appreciate it.

TURKEL: Good seeing you again, Laura. Thanks for having me again.

COATES: Thank you.

And, look, speaking of Fox, Rupert Murdoch is reportedly souring on Governor Ron DeSantis. Hear who he wants to jump into the GOP race. Chris Wallace will join me to discuss. Plus, why an answer from RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel surprised Chris?

And should Ukrainian be accepted into NATO? I mean, now? Did President Biden do the right thing on cluster munitions? Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will join me for a lively interview, including his thoughts on the 2024 election.



COATES: So, here's a question. Is there room in the 2024 race for another Republican candidate? Well, tonight, there seems to be an appetite. The New York Times reports that Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News, of course, has soured on the chances of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis against Donald Trump, and that he actually wants Virginia's Glenn Youngkin to join the field.

Joining me now is Chris Wallace, host of Who's Talking to Chris Wallace? Glad to see you here today, Chris, looking forward to our conversation.

But, you know, it's pretty early, Chris, but there does seem to be some Republicans who are really worried about Governor Ron DeSantis. So, what do you make of these rumblings of an appetite to have maybe more candidates enter into the race?

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Well, politics abhors a vacuum, Laura. And when you see Ron DeSantis, who a lot of people thought was going to be very competitive with, if not blow past Donald Trump and he's languishing in the polls, actually lower now than he was when he first announced, other politicians are going to look and think, well, maybe there's a lane to be the prime contender against Donald Trump. And two of the names you hear are Governors Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, Brian Kemp of Georgia.

It's easy to put out rumblings. It's a lot different to actually commit. But I would say that if Ron DeSantis -- if he continues in trouble, let's say after the first presidential debate in August of this year, I think they could get a little bit more serious than rumblings.

COATES: Chris, speaking about candidates, of course, and whether they'll enter, you look at places like Iowa, of course, as one of the main indicators of where people might be going if they intend to actually run. Trump has now decided he is missing a second big event there and it's coming amidst a time when he's been attacking the very popular state governor.


So, is that going to hurt him there?

WALLACE: Well, I can kind of understand his reluctance. There's a big evangelical family values event this weekend in Iowa. And, you know, as the former president and as the dominating frontrunner at this point for the Republican nomination, I'm not sure he wants to be in one of these cattle shows.

It is interesting that he's taking some shots at the very popular Republican governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds. I don't know that that's anything more than the fact that she is trying to stay neutral. She's been quite friendly to Ron DeSantis, and I think he's just ticked off.

And in addition to which, you know, I know that we love to get ahead of ourselves here, Laura, but I think what happens in July of '23 is going to have a limited effect on what's going to happen during the caucuses in January of '24.

COATES: Me get ahead of my skis, never, Chris Wallace, what do you mean? I'll tell you, speaking of the Republican race, you did sat down with the RNC chair, Ronna McDaniel, for your show this week, and she is still -- well, frankly, she's hedging on whether Biden actually fairly won the 2020 election. Let's have a listen.


WALLACE: When did you stop being an election denier?

RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN, RNC: I think saying there were problems with 2020 is very real. I don't think that's election denying. I mean, Chris, I am from Wayne County. We had a woman send a note saying, I'm being told to backdate ballots. We had to look into that. That is deeply concerning. When you laugh friends who are poll watching and being kicked out, that's deeply concerning. We have a right to look at that. And I think everybody should have a little more concern about -- listen, look at --

WALLACE: Wait a minute, are you saying, as the chair of the Republican Party, that you still have questions as to whether or not Joe Biden was the duly elected president in 2020?

MCDANIEL: Joe Biden is the president.

WALLACE: No, I didn't ask you whether he's the president.

MCDANIEL: No, I don't think that --

WALLACE: Do you think he won the election?

MCDANIEL: I think there were lots of problems with question 2020.

WALLACE: Do you think he won the --

MCDANIEL: But, ultimately, he won the election.

WALLACE: Pardon?

MCDANIEL: But, ultimately, he won the election but there were lots of problems with the 2020 election, 100 percent.

WALLACE: And that's fair.

MCDANIEL: But I don't think he won it fair. I don't. I am not going to say that.

WALLACE: You're saying you're not sure, as the Republican Party chair, that he was the legitimately elected president.

MCDANIEL: I am saying there were lots of problems with the 2020 election and we need to fix it going forward.


COATES: I mean, Chris, I understand the value of a yes-or-no response. You didn't get one there. So, what does that portend for the tone of this entire race now? WALLACE: Well, look, there are an awful lot of people, an awful lot of Republicans who don't think that Joe Biden won the election fairly in 2020, even though he did, even though there were 60 court cases that said he did. And you've also got the frontrunner, the overwhelming frontrunner, Donald Trump, who flatly says that he won 2020.

So, I think as counterintuitive, counter-logical, counterfactual as it may be, it's hard for the chair of the Republican National Committee to come out and say flatly, no, it was a fair election and Joe Biden won it, even if we all -- well, I say we all, if most people know, believe that that's the case.

COATES: Chris, stick around. We'll be right back. I got to ask you about Joe Manchin being cagey about a third party run.

Plus, in moments, my interview Boris Johnson, his thoughts on Ukraine, President Biden and Donald Trump. Don't miss it.



COATES: Is Joe Manchin considering a third party run? The Democratic senator is not ruling it out as Manchin announces that he is going to New Hampshire for a no-labels conference. Listen to his explanation.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): The most important thing is how do we help democracy do what it's supposed to do? How do we help the process, the legal process that we do what it's supposed to? That's to have commonsense discussions to find out what the American people would like to see accomplished, not just basically the toxic atmosphere we have because of political parties. That's what I think about.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, are you ruling out a third party bid?

MANCHIN: I've never ruled out anything or ruled in anything. This is just strictly a conference that we're having for commonsense.


COATES: Back with Chris Wallace right after the buzzer there. Chris, what do you make of this consideration? I mean, David Axelrod recently warned that a third party candidate could very well hurt President Biden's chances for re-election.

WALLACE: Well, in the last segment, we were talking about Ronna McDaniel not getting a yes-or-no answer. We didn't get one from Joe Manchin either.

Look, a third party candidacy, and he's talking about doing that on the no-labels banner potentially, you've got Cornell West talking about doing it in the green party. Remember, back in 2020, Joe Biden won some of these key swing states. I think it was Georgia by 11,000 votes, Arizona by 10,000 votes. If you get Joe Manchin on the ballot, if, if you get Cornell West on the ballot.

And I think most people would think that they would draw more votes from Biden than they would from Trump, then this is -- you know, it's a three-person, a four-person race, this absolutely hurts Joe Biden and increases the chances for Donald Trump if he's the Republican nominee, whoever the Republican nominee, of actually taking a lot of those swing states. So, it's a very big deal. And if you're in the Biden White House, this has got to scare the heck out of you.

COATES: And, I mean, to have the noncommittal answer, not ruling anything out, if you're a strategist looking ahead trying to figure out where to go from here, you want to nail down an answer so you can actually essentially do what you need to do to course correct, if that's the case here.

Let's get to the good stuff, though, here. Not that the whole political discussion is not great stuff. But I want to get to the golden stuff, shall we say, because you sat down with Goldie Hawn and asked her about her famous decades-long relationship with Kurt Russell and about why they're not married. Listen.


WALLACE: So, the question I have, which people have been asking for more than 40 years, we're going to get into it, why aren't the two of you married?


GOLDIE HAWN, ACTRESS: Why should we get married? Isn't that a better question?

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: No, I suppose. Why aren't you married?

HAWN: Because we had been married and because when it doesn't work out, it ends up to be big business. Somebody has to own something, it's always ugly. Somebody has to, you know, actually take a look and say, how many -- how many divorces are fun? How many divorces actually don't cost money?

WALLACE: None that I ever heard.

HAWN: How many divorces make you even hate the person more than you did before? How many divorces have hurt children?

WALLACE: But you've been living with him for 40 years, you're not gonna get divorced.

HAWN: Well, how did you know that then?

WALLACE: Well, I suppose that's a good question.

HAWN: I like the idea that I could wake up in the morning and make decisions every day if I want to be here.

WALLACE: Sort of every day you're making the choice, do I want to? HAWN: Yeah, I mean, you know, relationships are hard, they're not

always easy, there's all kinds of hurdles that we go through, there's things that we believe in, things that we don't believe in, we agree on. So, I think, you know, ultimately staying independent with independent thinking is important so you can hold on to yourself and you can actually have that feeling.


COATES: I mean I was a Goldie Hawn fan before but just hearing her articulate in the way she has and just the way that she seems to have thought it through and all of what she said seems very transferable in other contexts in life, frankly, Chris.

WALLACE: Yeah, I loved my interview with Goldie Hawn. We talked about her whole career and how she started as that. I have to say this to you, Laura. I don't think I've ever seen a bigger difference between the public persona and the private persona of a public figure, particularly of a movie star, than Goldie Hawn.

COATES: Really?

WALLACE: Because I think an awful lot of us think of her, you know, whether it was from "Laugh-In" or from "Private Benjamin", you know, the kind of ditzy, charming, sweet, not especially bright, young, very attractive girl. She is such a smart, such a thoughtful person.

She's got a program right now in brain science called "Mind Up". They teach brain science to kids in school to help them understand literally the physiology of what's going on up there so they can deal with their emotions. She's a fascinating, very thoughtful person.

I will also tell you, my last trip out to L.A., I ended up having dinner. I guess this is dinner dropping with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. They fought like anything about a lot of subjects. He's very conservative. She's not. He watches TV, the news in one room, she watches it in another room, and they love each other to death.

COATES: Wow. Okay, fine. I'll come with you on your next trip, Chris Wallace. You don't have to convince me any longer. It's fine. I got to tell you, really fascinating. I cannot wait. Thank you for joining us today. And be sure to tune in to "Who's Talking to Chris Wallace". It's every Friday night at 10 Eastern on CNN.

Boris Johnson sounding off on NATO's reluctance to accept Ukraine as a member and the Russia conspiracy he thinks is, quote, baloney. My interview with the former British Prime Minister, next.




COATES: Just hours after Ukrainian President Zelenskyy sharply criticized NATO for saying that his country isn't ready to join the alliance, President Biden and allies reassuring him at their summit in Lithuania, but giving, of course, no specific timeline. I sat down for a one-on-one interview today with Boris Johnson, Britain's Former Prime Minister, who insists there's no excuse for delaying Ukraine's membership. Here's my conversation.


COATES: Mr. Prime Minister --


COATES: Thank you so much for joining us here today. Thank you so much. And congratulations on the birth of your son. Congratulations to you.

JOHNSON: You're very kind. Thank you, thank you.

COATES: This has been quite a week, as you can imagine. I want to begin with what's happening in NATO because President Zelenskyy is quite upset for NATO not having a particular timeline or a definitive one on the table for when Ukraine might be considered for admission to membership. I wonder if you think that right now, given all that's happened and is currently occurring, shouldn't exception be made for Ukraine to be accepted in light of them being embroiled in an active conflict?

JOHNSON: Laura, I think it's very, very important that we establish that Ukraine is on the path now to NATO membership. There can be no possible excuse or reason to keep faffing around and delaying. The last remaining objection, you remember, was that it was going to be provocative to Vladimir Putin. Well, we've seen what happens when you don't have Ukraine in NATO, you provoke the worst war in Europe for 80 years. You need Ukraine in for certainty, for stability, and for the security, not just of Ukraine, but of Russia, as well. So, everybody knows where the boundaries are, and everybody knows who's protecting whom.

COATES: The President of Ukraine talked about uncertainty, the word you're using, as well, as a kind of weakness, and the idea of being able to delineate the power dynamic, the role of the different countries, and of course the longevity of this now 500-plus day invasion into Ukraine. Is it factoring this somehow going to be an inevitable notion that Ukraine will join the alliance in light of all those things?

JOHNSON: Yeah, Ukraine's going to join the alliance, but first of all, Ukraine's got to win. And that's absolutely crucial. And I just say to everybody, you know, if you think there's a negotiated solution we can do with Vladimir Putin, you know, forget about it. There's no way that he's going to do a trade of land for peace.


He's going to continue to keep attacking Ukraine if he possibly can. That's clear from everything he's done. So, the only way through this thing is for the Ukrainians to win. We need to keep supplying them with the weaponry that they need and we're being very effective in that and that is good. We're now training them in the use of the F-16s in the jets. But after that, two things happen.

First of all, we're going to make some security guarantees, as you've heard from the NATO Summit. Some countries are going in advance of NATO membership, so like the U.K. and the U.S., and we're saying we're going to help fortify Ukraine, give it NATO quality equipment, send our troops there, put British soldiers, why not British troops, in bases in Ukraine. And so, kind of fortify the quills of the Ukrainian porcupine that it is never attacked again by Russia. That's step one. Step two is to negotiate full NATO membership. But I think that's now a question of when, not if.

COATES: Speaking of the former aspect of the quills of the Ukrainian porcupine, as you pointed out, one of the aspects of trying to arm and trying to support Ukraine has been the provision or the decision to now provide cluster munitions to Ukraine. In fact, President Zelenskyy spoke to the reporters earlier today to suggest, look, I know people have been very, very critical of the use of this particular notion.

He alerted the public, of course, reminding them that Russia has within its own weapon arsenal similar things that have been banned by other nations. The U.K. has denounced the U.S. over the decision to send these cluster munitions. Are you against President Biden's decision to send these cluster munitions?

JOHNSON: No, Laura, I'm for what the President has done. I think it is brave and right. It was a difficult decision. Look, the U.K. is a signatory, like many countries, of the anti-cluster munitions weapons convention. And that's because traditionally, historically, these weapons have been used in a way that leaves behind little bomblets, little bits of ordinance, lying around in fields in the developing world where they're picked up by kids and have appalling consequences.

And so, that's why there's been a general reluctance to see the use of the proliferation of cluster munitions. But this is a very different case. We're talking about helping the Ukrainians to win a war in their own country, when what they need to do is to punch through these very heavily protected Russian dugouts and trenches, get the Russians out of the land bridge as fast as possible.

COATES: Mr. Prime Minister, as you well know, recently, President Vladimir Putin faced a short-lived rebellion from the Wagner Group. Of course, Prigozhin has said he was not engaged in a rebellion, he was engaged in a protest. You can quibble with whether there's the accuracy of that statement or believability of that. But I wonder what you made of that short-lived rebellion, and do you think that Vladimir Putin's grip on power is now, as a result, in peril?

JOHNSON: Look, I think all sorts of people come up with all sorts of theories about what was really happening and they're claiming that it was now all kind of orchestrated by Putin to show that, you know, there could be someone worse than Putin or whatever. I think, frankly, that's a load of baloney. I think that what happened was that this guy Prigozhin showed that he's no great respecter of Vladimir Putin. He showed he's no great respecter of the authority of the Kremlin. And I think that sent a real signal around the world about the political mortality of Vladimir Putin.

COATES: One could imagine perhaps his life given the fact that Putin is no real friend of those who oppose him. Do you think Prigozhin's life is at risk as a result of him identifying or suggesting that it was propaganda-based, its entire invasion and trying to persuade the Russian people in the military to go along with what Putin wanted, even when there was not the evidence that was there to support his reasoning?

JOHNSON: I think you're absolutely right. I think that it was a most extraordinary moment when Prigozhin, who everybody has hitherto believed to be kind of Putin's jeeves, his sort of his manservant, the guy who hands him the cordon bleu cooking or whatever, suddenly seemed to rebel and said that the war in Ukraine wasn't justified. And I think that the impact is going to be very, very considerable. Whether Prigozhin's own physical safety can be guaranteed or not, I don't know, Laura.


I think the truth is that, you know, there may be, he may yet get his comeuppance. On the other hand, he did see Putin, as we understand it, just a few hours after his aborted coup.

COATES: When it comes to Ukraine, of course, we are about a year and a half now away, Mr. Prime Minister, from a presidential election. There is a purported front-runner who has been the president before, of course, speaking of Donald Trump. What do you think a potential Donald Trump second term might do for support for the country of Ukraine, would it be in jeopardy?

JOHNSON: Never forget, Laura, that whatever people say about President Trump, it was Donald Trump who authorized the shipment of those Javelin missiles to Ukraine, which I think were indispensable in breaking the taboo on arming the Ukrainians in the way that so many other countries, particularly the U.K., have done. And I can tell you, frankly, that when I took the decision to send NLAW, shoulder- launched, anti-tank weaponry from the UK to help the Ukrainians, that was very much encouraged by what President Trump had already done in sending the Javelins. The Javelins were very important.

So, you know, President Trump has a strong record already in helping the Ukrainians. I appreciate that in the, you know, it's not for me to comment on -- on what's happening in the American presidential campaign. I can appreciate that all sorts of people will say all sorts of things. But I believe very strongly that when that election is finished, and if it were, if President Trump were to be elected, or indeed if President Biden were to continue, I have absolutely no doubt that the interests of the United States of America would remain four- square behind freedom and Ukraine.

COATES: You know, we are here in the United States obviously grappling with a whole host of issues surrounding governmental transparency and the like. And I know the U.K. and the world is still coming to terms with the loss of the COVID-19 outbreak. And there has been an inquiry, of course, into the government, your government's handling of the crisis. And it stands very important to get to the bottom of a number of issues.

You've been asked to hand over all of your WhatsApp messages and phones from the period that was requested. Why haven't you done so in the investigation?

JOHNSON: I'm very happy to do this. This is a pretty abstruse issue. As you rightly say, there's an inquiry going on. It's very important that they have the access to the maximum possible information. As it happens, I'm very happy for my stuff to be handed over in unredacted form and for the head of the inquiry, named Heather Hallett, to have a look and say, well, you know, this is relevant, this isn't relevant.

And there is an objection from the U.K. government itself, which I don't any longer represent, and, you know, they're just anxious that in future ministers' correspondence should not be handed over wholesale to inquiries. As it happens in my own particular case, that's fine. I want the whole thing out there.

COATES: You have a new son, his name, Frank Alfred Odysseus Johnson. I happen to be a great fan of Greek mythology, but tell me what's behind the name.

JOHNSON: Well, how kind of you to ask. He's a, I just like, we just like the names. And Odysseus, Odysseus was the great, you know, he was the great, he was the Polymetis Odysseus. He was a very, he was the, he was the, he was a man of many wiles and he came here, went through all sorts of experiences and came through them. And he was a pretty -- he heard the Siren voices, you remember, Laura. He heard the -- and he lashed himself to the mast in order not to be tempted by the Sirens then he meets Calypso there on the island.

What else does he get up to? Also, he goes through the Clashing Rocks. He has Scylla and Charybdis on, then he goes into the Underworld. He goes in the Underworld. He takes, I think, what does he do in the Underworld? I come to what it is he does in the Underworld.

COATES: I think he was trying to best them from being able to reclaim people who wanted to leave and beyond -- in other words, he's got quite a journey is that we are hoping for your son because as a mother I'm wondering all the things you just named I'm about to have a heart attack, Mr. Prime Minister on the jury that might be ahead.

JONSON: No, no, no. Well, I guess I'm sure I'm sure he'll have a bill. I'm sure his Odyssey will be much calmer and more enjoyable than the ancient Odysseys, provided Ukrainians win.


And we stick up for peace and democracy. That's the -- it's a -- what's happening now is a pivotal war in the early 21st century. This really matters. America has been brilliant. I wanna tell all your viewers, America has been wonderful. America has made possible an eventual Ukrainian victory. All we need now is for America to stick with it.

COATES: Thank you for coming full circle in the conversation and joining us today, Mr. Prime Minister. I appreciate your time.

JOHNSON: Privilege, thank you.


COATES: So now, will we finally learn who brought cocaine into the White House? There are some new developments, ahead. Plus, could you be prosecuted if you should have an abortion? Well, Audie Cornish joins me on the legal landscape in this now post-Roe America.


COATES: A post-Roe v. Wade America, well, it's getting clearer tonight. Iowa becoming the latest state to make it harder to get an abortion, advancing a ban now after six weeks. Now, the bill does include exceptions for miscarriages, for abnormalities, and when the life of the woman is in danger. There are also limited exceptions for rape and incest.

Let's take a look now at the legal view of this. CNN's Audie Cornish recently sat down with attorneys who've been defending women who are criminally prosecuted under various state laws.


AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What we were most afraid of happening has come to pass and probably even worse because we've got patients who are traveling hundreds of miles to get care. They're deciding whether to pay their light bill or, you know, use that money for their abortion and their travel. And we're seeing doctors who are so afraid of being prosecuted, even in cases where the abortion would clearly fall under an exception.

The fetus had absolutely no chance of surviving. The patient was literally bleeding out near sepsis. And we're seeing those doctors so afraid because of the criminal penalties associated with that abortion ban, that those patients are, again, traveling hundreds of miles, leaving the state.


COATES: Audie Cornish joins me now. Audie, just thinking about how every day it seems, every month almost, we are seeing another legislative initiative at times and also coming to the question of how do these attorneys now navigate this new landscape? Your podcast goes into great detail in these conversations. So, what are they doing?

CORNISH: What they're finding is that there's sort of two tiers that they're dealing with. If you are a doctor or care provider who does perform abortions, obviously in states where it's now criminalized, you might need support or defending.


Also, what we heard in that clip, the idea of traveling from state to state. There's a whole network of people now who are helping people get hotel rooms, giving them money to travel. Those people under certain state laws could be charged with abetting.

The other thing we've learned is that it has opened wider the prosecutorial discretion to charge people with kind of criminal charges such as child neglect, right? It has opened the door for fetal personhood laws to be used in criminal cases, which means you can be in the hospital, you have a stillbirth or a miscarriage, maybe child services or maybe the hospital itself tests you for drugs.

And if it's found that you had some sort of substance in your system, there is a world where you could be charged with child neglect. This happened a lot during the war on drugs in the late 80s, mid 90s, and people are looking now at the potential resurgence of this, and that's what some of the attorneys we spoke to talked about.

COATES: You know, interestingly enough, at the Supreme Court level, in all of the cases leading up to the Dobbs decision, some of the chilling effect that you're speaking about now, were the concerns were evident and they were there and they were discussed, about the notion of a medical provider having to think about the cost-benefit analysis of the legalities and the implications as opposed to the provision of care.

CORNISH: Exactly.

COATES: And that was part of the argument. And so, on the legal horizon now, and on the horizon more broadly, you know, we see legislative initiatives obviously in Iowa and beyond. But what is the next frontier now of this discussion? When the states are in control, when we are in this post-Dobbs world, it might be an invisible ink on every ballot, the issue of abortion. But what is this next political frontier in addressing it?

CORNISH: Right, so, first of all, you're going to see a push for fetal personhood laws or pushes for legislation that would say you can't cross state lines, et cetera. So, just because a state has a ban doesn't mean that's the end of the story. There may be a further legislative push to say, look, people can't cross state lines to get an abortion elsewhere. There's also an ongoing battle with the FDA over abortion pills.

COATES: Mifepristone.

CORNISH: Exactly. So, medicated abortions are going to be a huge battle because that is actually, I think at this point, the majority way that women do administer abortions for themselves. And so that conversation is happening at the national level, right, with the government and the administration. But I bet you're also going to see more of that being discussed and legislated. in the states.

COATES: And a part of a political litmus test at the state and local level, as well. Audie Cornish, fascinating. Thank you so much.

CORNISH: Thank you so much for having me.

COATES: Well, you can catch Audie's podcast. It's called "The Assignment", wherever you get your podcast. Trust me, you don't want to miss out. Up next, another incident on a singer's stage. See what happened now during the Summer of 69.


COATES: All right, so before we go, we've seen all these objects being thrown at artists on stages recently. And now it seems one fan has actually thrown himself onto Bryan Adams' stage.