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Trump Expects Two More Indictments For Election Interference; Few Trump Cabinet Members Endorse Him For Second Run; Serial Killer Suspect's Wife Says, Kids Cry Themselves To Sleep; Police Investigating Cardi B For Her Response To Concert-Goer Throwing A drink At Her During Performance; Paul Reubens Dies Of Cancer; Former President Trump Walked Onto The Stage In Iowa With Going To Prison Background Music. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired July 31, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: This is the latest indication that the district attorney, Fani Willis, could plan to seek indictments in her criminal probe into Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn the 2020 election. We also know that meeting is something that has come and been of interest to the special counsel, Jack Smith.
I should note this was first reported by the Atlanta Journal- Constitution. CNN has confirmed it. And as you heard earlier, the district attorney in the state said that she and her fellow prosecutors, two and a half years into their investigation in the state of Georgia, are, quote, ready to go.
Thank you so much for joining us tonight. CNN Primetime with Laura Coates starts right now.
LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Kaitlan. I'm telling you, if you thought August for the summer was winding down, this is heating up.
COLLINS: Yes, cancel your vacations, anyone who's watching.
COATES: Oh, did you have vacation plan, Kaitlan? What is this thing called vacation? Does that mean like you go someplace and you don't work? I don't know how that goes.
COLLINS: Neither of us are the one to answer that question, I don't think.
COATES: Nope, we are not. But I'll do a staycation right here.
I'm Laura Coates, everyone, and thank you so much for joining me.
Listen, tonight, Donald Trump is bracing for two more indictments. You heard that right, one for Special Counsel Jack Smith for efforts to overturn the election, another in Atlanta for trying to overturn the results in Georgia.
And yet that name, that phrase, Teflon Don, well, it continues to be one of the oddest juxtapositions in all of politics, because as his legal problems start to pile up, guess what, so do his poll numbers.
Take a look while it's still early, of course. He is crushing the field. Look at the numbers, there the percentages. And there's a noteworthy trend when it comes to his cash, everyone, because his fundraising spikes whenever he is charged or whenever he's indicted or whenever he's arraigned, for that matter.
He's already been indicted twice now. An expert he expects to have a third soon for his efforts to overturn the election.
And take a look at this new revelation, everyone, his political action committee. Look at this number. He has spent more than $40 million just this year alone on legal fees. Put that in your mind for a second, $40 million this year alone, and it's not even August. The same PAC spent much less than half that on lawyers for all of last year. It's kind of like his campaign is almost designed to bankroll his legal fees, which, frankly, will only grow.
I want to talk about this now and all the legal developments with the former federal prosecutor, Gene Rossi, in just a moment.
But, everyone, first, I want to go to CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider with the news. Jessica, you got a Georgia judge rejecting Trump's efforts right now to disqualify Fani Willis. She's the D.A. down in Fulton County. So, what do we know now tonight about where that case stands?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Laura, so that ruling by that Superior Court judge, it was definitely a win for the district attorney moving forward here. The judge there, when they disregarded these claims that the district attorney should be disqualified, the judge really applauded the D.A. for staying non- partisan, non-political throughout this two-and-a-half year investigation. And Fani Willis does plan to announce whether there will be any indictment against the former president before September 1st.
So, right now in Georgia, there are currently two criminal grand juries convened in Fulton County. There are meetings several days this week. And the district attorney will, either this week or next, then present her case to that grand jury. So, the grand jury will then vote on any indictments. Whether it's against Trump or any of his associates who tried to overturn the 2020 election results in that state.
And, Laura, what we know is that law enforcement authorities in Atlanta, they are already prepping. There are security measures in place around the local courthouse and law enforcement agencies in that state, in that county. They actually observed the scene in Miami after the former president was indicted in the classified documents case.
So, they are ready for anything that could come down in the next few weeks here in Fulton County, Georgia, Laura.
COATES: Wow. Let's talk about this, Gene, because you think about that, I mean, all that she's laid out there, there's preparations being made, right? They looked at Miami, which, of course, we know resulted in, of course, an indictment. When you look at this, know that she has this promise of, by September 1st, I'm going to tell you all what the deal is going to be, is there an indictment looming in Georgia?
GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. And I want to think of a word named tasseography, reading tea leaves.
COATES: Tasseography, hold on.
COATES: Tasseography, I like that word.
ROSSI: I sleep with a dictionary, by the way.
ROSSI: But my prediction is this. Probably next Thursday, Thursday, next week or the week after, you'll see an indictment from Fani Willis, because that reporter is probably going to test testify Tuesday of next week.
And the other --
COATES: They meet Monday and Tuesday in this grand jury out there? All right.
ROSSI: Yes. And the other tell is she was at an event Saturday or Sunday. And when you have a prosecutor that makes a statement that, quote, we're ready to go, I think that's a red flag and loud gong that we're going to be seeing some serious charges. But I could be wrong. I could be wrong.
COATES: She was at, what, a backpack giveaway event for kids, be ready for school. She's out in the community already, and then she's saying, the work is accomplished, we're ready to go. And, of course, everyone thought to themselves, what does this mean really in terms of everything else that's going on? And especially because we can't look at it in a vacuum, right? Donald Trump has got that potentially looming. He's got two indictments, a superseding indictment in Florida as well. He's got to be arraigned for. That's a whole lot to consider, to have the work accomplished already and still have a grand jury subpoena.
ROSSI: Well, I think maybe they're just tying up a loose end because I think this reporter came out of the woodwork. But if that reporter allegedly says what we think he will --
COATES: Which is what?
ROSSI: He walked into a meeting in mid-December at the Georgia capitol or nearby, and he came upon people meeting to develop a slate of fake electors. That is a crime, number one. Number two, that could be part of Jack Smith's indictment, which means that he may call this person to the grand jury and push back his indictment just a little bit. I'm predicting, I could be wrong.
COATES: What was that phrase again?
COATES: Tasseography, everyone. We've learned some new stuff.
Jessica, we'll go back to you here because I want to switch gears for a second to the special counsel's documents investigation, very important case. We're learning that the surveillance footage that's tied to the new obstruction charges was actually only obtained in recent weeks. What can you tell us?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, this is actually new information, Laura, and it's coming from that filing tonight from the special counsel. They're saying, they're telling the judge that they have this surveillance video that they're saying in the filing, quote, pertains to the new obstruction allegations. Those, of course, are the new charges made last week in that superseding indictment against Trump, also Walt Nauta, and that new defendant in the case that we saw in court today, Carlos De Oliveira.
And the new indictment, of course, has those new allegations that all three of them engaged in a conspiracy to attempt to delete security footage. And the security footage referenced in this filing was actually just obtained in the last few weeks.
It's not clear what this newly obtained surveillance footage shows, Laura, but this latest filing that we're just seeing from the special counsel, it does make clear one thing, that this investigation is still very much ongoing despite the charges that came down late last week. And it also shows how this case against former President Trump, it continues to grow, all as we wait potentially another indictment related to January 6th and efforts to subvert the 2020 election.
So, a lot swirling here as the president continues to be in even more legal peril. Laura?
COATES: I mean, Gene, when you're a defendant and you hear newly obtained evidence and you've already got an indictment, are you shaking in your boots or what?
ROSSI: I'm not sleeping at night, let's put it that way. I'm now a defense attorney. I was a prosecutor for almost 30 years.
I do have to say this, though. When I was a prosecutor, the presumption of innocent was cherished to me. It was sacred. And, of course, as a defense attorney, it also is. Here's what concerns me. We could have four indictments against Donald Trump. The due process clause kicks into me and also Speedy Trial Act. We have to be careful that he has given enough time because he's presumed innocent to fight these charges. So, these cases have to be spread out.
Do I think the first two indictments, the one from Mar-a-Lago and Manhattan, the Manhattan one is not the strongest, in my view. But the one at Mar-a-Lago is just slam dunk. If he gets indicted by Fani Willis, which appears to be a strong case, the allegations, and he gets the January 6th indictment, which I think is going to be strong, I'm still concerned about the timing.
So, the judges should get together somehow to talk about their schedules, because you can't just make even the president of the United States or a normal person fight four charges simultaneously.
COATES: On that part, we talk about due process, right, that notice opportunity to be heard. But, really, you're talking about, I've got to have time to defend myself. I've got to have time to prepare. He has a select few number of attorneys. He appears to be very affluent and have a number of resources at his disposal to be able to maybe acquire additional counsel, it takes a learning curve.
COATES: But compare that to the average Joe, though, right. Because people will say to you, hold on a second, if you don't want to have four trials against you, then don't commit four different acts that would warrant probable cause findings of an indictment. Is that going to have someone to say, it's so sad, too bad for you that you have to juggle this, but maybe it's your own conduct and I don't have to give you the same benefit of the doubt?
ROSSI: Well, you and I both worked at DOJ, and we had some great years, but there were many times when there was a state prosecution, and then feds come in, and there's counting, and, Laura, you know, the feds and the state folks talk, okay, which trial goes first, how long is that going to be, then you can go second or whatever. So, there has to be some coordination between the fed prosecutors and the state.
Which, by the way, I don't mean to cut you off, the coordination doesn't mean more than just the calendar or the schedule. Isn't there actually comparing notes and saying, here you go, here's all of my case? That's not what you mean, just the idea of your prospect.
ROSSI: Well, I got to add to that. I think they're going to talk scheduling.
ROSSI: But under the due process clause of the Constitution, prosecutors have to disclose and produce information. And so if a state prosecutor has information that can hurt or help a defendant, that may have to be turned over in the federal case and vice versa. It's Brady and Giglio, as we call it. So, there may be some coordination between the state and the federal prosecutors.
COATES: Well, we'll see about the judges too, and they know their own docket as well.
ROSSI: Yes. COATES: Gene, stand by, because CNN's Melanie Zanona is also here to talk about some drama, imagine that, on the Hill today, everyone.
Tonight, there are three House GOP chairmen announcing an inquiry into Hunter Biden's plea deal on the very same day a former business associate of Hunter's testified on Capitol Hill. Melanie, what are we learning tonight?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes. So, Laura, this testimony from Devon Archer, a key business associate, was highly anticipated by Republicans. They have been trying to establish a direct link between President Joe Biden and his son's foreign business deals.
That is a link that the White House has consistently denied, and it appears that Republicans are still coming up short in trying to prove definitively that there was a connection between the president and his son's business deals.
Now, Devon Archer did testify that Hunter Biden put Joe Biden on speakerphone at least 20 times over the course of a ten-year period in front of his business associates. But sources who were in the room today said that Archer testified that business was never discussed on those calls and that it was more casual sort of check-ins, casual conversations. And sources also said that Archer testified he was not aware of any bribery scheme involving Joe Biden and a foreign national. That's something that has been alleged by Republicans.
But Republicans say they don't believe that it was just niceties discussed on these speakerphone calls. They say those calls, in addition to a dinner that Joe Biden popped into at one point, are proof that Joe Biden did intimately have knowledge of his son's business deals, and they are vowing to continue digging in. Laura?
COATES: I mean, Gene, look, the associate's testimony doesn't actually have concrete evidence, but it's pretty clear that Biden, President Biden, the target, they've got impeachment also on the brain, do you see evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors or anything to justify even that pursuit?
ROSSI: At this time, I don't see high crimes and misdemeanors. I know you can see a low crime. I see a son who's using his father to pop in on a meeting or a speakerphone and give the illusion that I, Hunter Biden, have power.
Now, I got to say this. I don't care if you're Republican, Democrat, or independent. If you're a prosecutor and you have concrete evidence of quid pro quo, honest services violated, or any, you know, you scratch my back or I scratch yours, if there's concrete evidence of that, you got to investigate that.
But based on what I know now, I see a lot of smoke, but I would never base my case criminally on just Devon Archer. You need corroboration and something concrete. I don't see it.
COATES: Well, we'll see. Gene Rossi, thank you so much. It's nice talking to you, everyone.
As we talk about Trump's poll numbers going up, despite all of his legal troubles, there's actually an NBC report that says, get this, only four of his 44 cabinet members have even endorsed his latest run for president. That's just four people out of a possible 44. Former A.G. Bill Barr telling NBC when asked who he would support in a Trump- Biden rematch, well, quote, I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it, unquote.
I want to bring in John Bolton, former Trump national security adviser, who's also a former U.N. ambassador. Ambassador, it's good to see you. But I got to tell you, I mean, those odds, number one, not too good, four out of 44, we'll get to that in a second, but you've been pretty clear of your own critique and criticism of Donald Trump.
But I wonder, if you were asked the same question that Bill Barr was asked, if it came down to a Trump-Biden matchup, what would you do?
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I would do the same thing I did in 2020.
I live in Maryland, which permits write-in voting. I always like to vote for a conservative Republican between Biden and Trump. There was no conservative on the ballot. So, I wrote in the name of a conservative, and I would do the same in 2024.
COATES: Who's that name?
BOLTON: I haven't told anybody, but someday I may, but I've not revealed it.
COATES: Tonight is a good night to do so, John Bolton. I don't know. We should just go ahead and share everything with each other all of a sudden. Did you write your own name in? Was your own name written in?
BOLTON: I did not write my own name in. No. And it was a living Republican conservative.
COATES: The plot thickens. Let me ask you this. Do you foresee a time when your own name might be on a ballot for this 2024 race?
BOLTON: Well, I'm still considering it. If you look at The New York Times poll that came out today with Trump at 54 percent and only Ron DeSantis in double digits, I don't think anybody has caught fire yet. It's entirely possible one or more of them will by the time of the debate later in August. But right now, I don't see that path. We should give them a chance.
But I think August, late August, could be a very important point for the Republican Party. I really think people should be saying that if the candidates haven't shown a chance to defeat Trump, they ought to seriously consider getting out at that point. And maybe other people who have not entered the race should consider coming in.
COATES: So, we'll look to hear from you in August, perhaps, John Bolton, on that very notion.
But let me ask you, given the odds, right, I mean, four out of 44 former cabinet members supporting him, I mean, what should Americans take away from that fact? I mean, this is stunning in modern or really any American history. What do you take away from the fact it's four out of 44?
BOLTON: Well, I don't know exactly who the 44 were who were surveyed, but I would say this. I think in private, honest conversations, almost all of Trump's cabinet members and other senior advisers would say that their conclusion after watching him during their time in office is that Trump is not fit to be president.
It's not a question of the drama or his personality or something like that. It's a question of his basic lack of competence to do the job. And I think people really don't want to be out front endorsing somebody they know can't do the job.
COATES: Well, then why do you think it is? I mean, there's one thing to talk about competence, the other thing about maybe availability, for example. I mean, you know that he is facing a great number of legal troubles.
On the overall bingo card of America, I cannot imagine an RNC hopeful who thought they would have an opposing candidate who had been impeached twice, twice been indicted, maybe another one around the corner, the mounting legal troubles, and they can't actually capitalize on that or criticize it. And, in fact, you mentioned that new polling, he's only gaining ground around his rivals, even as all of this starts to come to a head.
What is your view on that? And is it inevitable, given these numbers and given where we are right now, that Donald Trump will, in fact, secure the nomination?
BOLTON: No, I think it's far from inevitable. I think this poll may be his high point. I think, really, the poll could turn out to be an outlier. I think there are a lot more people that are willing to consider alternatives. I think they rate the MAGA base too highly, too large. But I think what people are looking for is a candidate who will take Trump on and really demonstrate that to beat Trump, you have to go after Trump.
Now, some of the candidates are criticizing Trump directly. But I think it's not just a question of criticism. It's a question of convincing people that a second Trump term would be bad for the country and, frankly, bad for conservative principles. Remember, Trump cannot serve a third term, which means he's free from any electoral constraint. It would have been true if he had been re-elected in 2020. It would be true if he wins in '24.
And once free from those political constraints, which were often the only thing that brought him to sensible decisions, people who think he would be more conservative in a second term are going to be very disappointed.
COATES: John Bolton, thank you so much for joining.
Everyone, up next, the wife of the alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer, she is speaking out again tonight, as obsessed true crime fans are showing up to their home. Imagine that. The wife's lawyer is going to join me live.
Plus, we've been told -- we told you about the trend of onstage incidents. Well, now a singer who fought back is under investigation.
Look at the artist, Cardi B., right there.
And also Senator Tommy Tuberville is livid tonight after President Biden reversed a decision involving the Space Command. I'll tell you about it, next.
COATES: Well, tonight. Asa Ellerup, the wife of the suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer, Rex Heureman, is speaking out again. In a statement provided to CNN by her lawyer, she writes, in part, I am pleading with you all to give us space so that we may regain some normalcy in our neighborhood.
Now, just like other famous serial killings that have garnered nationwide attention, the fascination around these murders have actually led to obsessive, can we call them, fans and to what's called murderabilia? Yes, that's apparently a thing, which is the selling of items connected to the murder suspects.
Now, Heuermann is charged with the murder of three of the Gilgo Four, a group of women whose remains were found along a short stretch of Gilgo Beach on Long Island back in 2010. Now, he is the prime suspect of the killing of the fourth woman, but has yet to be charged.
With me now is Robert Macedonio, the attorney representing Asa Ellerup. Rob, thank you so much for joining us.
I have to ask, just for the people hearing terms like murderabilia or even use the word, fan, so to speak, I have to understand what has it been like for your client since her husband was arrested?
ROBERT MACEDONIO, ATTORNEY OF WIFE OF GILGO BEACH MURDERS SUSPECT: It's been extremely overwhelming for her and her two children, as you can imagine. It attracts, for lack of a better word, fans from all across the spectrum just to get a glimpse of what's going on at the house, what's going on with her, the children. And it's been chaotic, to say the least.
COATES: Are they shouting things to her? Are they trying to communicate with her or the children? I mean, I can imagine with that spotlight so bright and for what has been (INAUDIBLE). Has she said anything that they've talked to her about? MACEDONIO: I think the media is more shouting questions at them. Anybody is just trying to get interview or comment out of her more than the fans or the neighbors.
COATES: Your client spoke briefly to reporters just on Friday about returning to her home. This is after it was searched as a crime scene. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got over the hurdle of what I saw inside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Can you elaborate on what exactly she came home to?
MACEDONIO: She came home to complete destruction of her family residence where she lived and raised the children. Everything in the house was turned upside-down. Dresser drawers were emptied out. The bathroom tub, which was a vinyl tub, was actually cut open. The floors were ripped up. The couches and the mattresses have been removed and just piles and piles of debris that were left in the residence where you barely had walking space to get into the house.
COATES: Did she notice anything was missing of any kind?
MACEDONIO: They haven't even had the opportunity to go through all the items the way it's been left. So, they're taking the time to do that, as we speak. And each day, it's bringing more and more emotions from them and memories of living in the house and what it was like prior to all this happening.
COATES: I mean, it's just a short time ago when that memory would extend. And I should note, Asa was out of the state or even out of the country when all of these killings allegedly happened. But the spotlight and the focus and attention on the family has been extensive.
And I wonder what you would say to critics who would question how she could have not known about these allegations that her husband was an alleged serial killer. Has she had a chance to reflect on what people are thinking perhaps?
MACEDONIO: At this point, no, but she had no idea any of this was going on or the allegations were even her husband was a suspect. She's not a suspect. She has not been questioned by the police regarding any of this.
It's been extremely overwhelming for her and the children trying to piece life back together, what it was two and a half weeks ago. I don't know if they're ever going to return to normalcy. But day-by- day, she's getting better. She needs to show her strength so her children have something to focus on, a strong focal point of their mom being in charge and everything. She's getting better each day.
COATES: The officers or investigators never interviewed her? MACEDONIO: They did not question her? No.
COATES: You're using the word, question. Do you mean in sense of that you were with her, with counsel, or that she has never been questioned about these crimes at all?
MACEDONIO: She's never been interrogated. There might have been some basic questions that when they first arrived upon the scene, but she has not been interrogated or questioned by the law enforcement regarding the incident or the timeline or the factual allegations or anything to do with the criminal case.
COATES: Has her husband tried to contact her from jail at all?
MACEDONIO: Whatever conversation she had with her husband, I'm not privy to discuss. But she has not discussed the crimes with him or the allegations.
COATES: I understand that she did file for divorce after his arrest. Does that indicate somehow her belief on his innocence or guilt?
MACEDONIO: No, it does not. Because the only thing she knows about the allegations is what the media has reported. And there's a long way to go with the criminal trial she has filed to protect herself and her family moving forward.
COATES: What does that protection mean?
MACEDONIO: It just means you anticipate there may be lawsuits, there may be financial situations she arises in. She needs to focus on herself and her children moving forward. This criminal trial could take two to three years to play out. And she sees it on moving on with her life and her children's life. And however that works out, she'll deal with that at the time.
COATES: And just to be clear, I know the nature of the communication is something you're not privy to discuss, but has there been contact between --
MACEDONIO: I believe there has, but you have to realize any phone calls are recorded out of the facility. So, she's been very -- very basic phone calls. Everything is recorded. She's not to discuss anything, and nor does his attorneys want him discussing anything about the allegations.
So, she's also received, I'll put it out there, a ton of support for her and her family. One in particular was there's the Happy Face Killer, which we remember from 1990s, Keith Jasperson. His daughter, Melissa Moore, has reached out on numerous occasions, who is probably one of the few people have been in situations like Asa, who her father was arrested as an alleged serial killer and convicted for murdering at least eight women. She has started a Go Fund Me page on behalf of Asa and her family and has been extremely supportive of Asa and, you know, getting her through this time of need.
[22:30:18] COATES: Certainly, never a member of an organization or group or sorority or family that you'd want to be a part of in terms of what has happened to this family, of course, and naturally the families of the victims who are hearing and learning about this all in real time, as well. Robert Macedonio, thank you so much.
MACEDONIO: Thank you, I appreciate it. Have a good night.
COATES: You as well. Up next, police are now investigating Cardi B, after she retaliated against a fan who threw a drink at her on stage while she was performing. Plus, Elon Musk has now reinstated Kanye West's Twitter account after a swastika scandal. And Hollywood is mourning Pee Wee Herman, the message he wanted to be released after his death.
COATES: We've got disturbing trend at concerts. You've got fans who are throwing things on stage while people are performing. And now there's even a new twist, because tonight police are now investigating Cardi B after a fan threw a drink at her and she responded by throwing her microphone into the crowd. This comes after now several incidents of singers being on the receiving end, including Ava Max and Harry Styles, Drake, Pink, Kelsea Ballerini and Bebe Rexha who by the way was hospitalized after being hit in the eye with a flying cell phone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEBE REXHA, SINGER, SONGWRITER: I'm good, yeah, I'm feeling alright.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Joining me now, Eric Deggans, the TV critic for NPR and the author of "Race Spader: How Media Wield Dangerous Words to Aide to Divide a Nation". Also here with me now is CNN Political Commentator Ashley Allison. Listen, I think we're all watching this all unfold. And I have to say, when you saw this, what was your reaction, Ashley, when you first saw the water being filled or some liquid and her reaction?
ASHLEY ALLISON, OBAMA-BIDEN ADMINISTRATION AND BIDEN-HARRIS CAMPAIGN SENIOR STAFFER: Well, to be honest, I don't condone violence, but I will say that people have a right to defend themselves. Concert-goers need to stop this. It's attacking the artists, and they're helpless. They're on stage. They're totally exposed, and people have a right to defend themselves. I hope that this does not go into a legal matter, because the person who threw the water was wrong.
And if this continues, they need to explore what consequences the content-goers need to face for instigating the event, whether it's water or a cell phone or whatever the case may be. If you're throwing something at someone, you've instigated an incident. And I think that, you know, it's a human reaction to respond in a, I'm defending myself way. COATES: You know, you look at this, Eric, and I wonder because she
has, you know, had other instances she had -- she pleaded guilty to assault charges before in an entirely unrelated matter. I will note that, unrelated matter. But then people are looking at this. You already see the commentary surrounding this. And I wonder how the public will perceive her situation compared to all the others who have been on stage, as well, and perhaps maybe even wanted to respond and were not efficient to do so. What is your take on this?
ERIC DEGGANS, TV CRITIC, NPR: So many thoughts. I'm actually a musician myself when I was in college. I was in a band that was signed to Motown. I've done a lot of similar kind of performing and you are very vulnerable when you're on stage.
COATES: I'm gonna need you to just sing the rest of your response tonight since you've been signed to Motown. So, let's go ahead and do it. I'm a drummer. All right, well, I don't have the sticks. That's fine. Carry on, carry on.
DEGGANS: Nice try. Nice try. But no, I'll get the drum and play a little something for you later. But what's interesting about this, as somebody who's also a pop music critic for a long time, throwing things on stage for certain kinds of acts is something that has happened for a very long time with punk bands, with alternative bands, with hard rock bands. And but now, we're seeing it happen with pop music artists, where that's not a part of the ritual.
And so, part of what we're seeing now is, we're seeing people doing at concerts and with artists where that is not expected and the artist is not expecting it. And, you know, call me a curmudgeon, but I feel like we have these audiences that are so used to being in front of tablets and phones and TV sets at home, that they don't know how to handle themselves when they're actually in public and they're being entertained by somebody who is flesh and blood. And they treat that as some kind of video game or some kind of, you know, video presentation on MTV, but they are actual people who can be heard by flying projectiles particularly if they're not expecting it.
And so, at some point, security is going to get more strenuous at the shows because these artists are not going to tolerate going out and delivering these multimillion-dollar, you know, productions and having to worry about somebody's thrown a bottle at their head.
COATES: And by the way, nor should they have to tolerate that and, of course, it detracts from the experience of people who are going to these concerts with that thing. But you raised an interesting point that people are so accustomed it seems at times to having the anonymity of doing what they want, you know, hurling whether it's words or other things, and then having the anonymity and saying, well, I don't have to be held accountable for anything. It's interesting to see if this is going to be the blueprint or the reaction or what will happen if, in fact, she is charged.
I want to talk now about Twitter, which was recently renamed to X, and I would note that the X has now apparently come down from the San Francisco building. But Elon Musk has now reinstated Kanye West's Twitter account. That account, as you remember had been initially suspended for inciting violence after Ye's death con 3 on Jewish people tweet.
Now, I wonder, Ashley, why do you think Musk would want to risk tweets like that back on his platform? Is it part of the notion of, look, free speech, he says, and he doesn't want anything to get in the way of people being able to voice whatever they feel, no matter how problematic?
ALLISON: Yeah. I mean, I think he changed the name of the company, but not the practices of the company. And so, there's no surprise he let Donald Trump back on. He also inside it.
COATES: Who hasn't joined.
ALLISON: Who hasn't joined but X or Twitter at the time allowed someone who incited a very dangerous mob to come to Washington on January 6th. And now you have someone who has said very anti-Semitic things to come back on. So, while they might have changed the name, the intention behind what this platform is supposed to be is changing and it's not for the best. I also think though, a lot has happened since they've changed the name to X and since Kanye has come back on and we have new platforms, as well.
So, we have Threads. We have Spill. We have other alternatives for people to go and actually have conversations in a similar but not identical way. And the audience is finding it to be more refreshing. And so, I think Elon Musk is trying to invigorate his Twitter audience, but that day may be gone because people don't like the experiences they're having, especially when he's letting people like Kanye West back online.
COATES: I don't know. Social media inertia is a really big thing. Eric, let me give you the last word here because I wonder what you think. I think there was some new reporting in the Wall Street Journal that Ye did promise not to post anti-Semitic or other harmful language to X. But -- and by the way, his account has only 32 million followers so to Ashley's point, the idea of having someone back on to reinvigorate. Is that what this is?
DEGGGANS: Yeah, it's hard to know what Elon Musk is doing with this. Ye hasn't posted yet. I just checked right before we got on, unless he posted something in the last 20 minutes or so. He hasn't even posted yet. But, you know, for a company that has seen its value plummet, that has seen advertisers flee, the last thing you want to do to try to restore confidence to advertisers is to say, hey, stick your message right next to an anti-summoner who got kicked off the platform not too long ago.
I don't understand the reasoning and bring somebody like Ye back when what they really need to do is convince advertisers and so many users who have fled uh that the place is a more welcoming place that it's a place where brands can congregate. We're hearing that, you know, Elon Musk has some kind of plan to turn X into an everything app. Actually, to get people to trust their financial information and other
kinds of information to this app in addition to talking to each other on it. And if he wants to achieve that, the last thing he needs to do is welcome toxic people who are known for prejudice speech. So, I don't understand other reason in bringing Ye back. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me but so many things that he's done with X including running away from a brand like Twitter that's been established for 15 years. Makes no sense to me.
COATES: Maybe he just doesn't like bluebirds. Everyone, I just don't know about it. Eric Jenkins and Ashley Allison, thank you so much. And by the way, the cynic in me is thinking, I wonder how many advertisers want to have eyeballs no matter what cost. Everyone, next. Remembering the iconic and wacky actor and comedian who brought a whole lot of fun to generations of kids. I'll speak to one of Paul Rubin's very good friends.
COATES: Well, there's sad news tonight in the world of entertainment. Actor Paul Rubens, who created the quirky man-child character Pee-wee Herman, has now died at the age of 70. Representatives saying that Rubens privately fought cancer for years. He's best known for Pee- wee's "Playhouse" which ran on CBS for five years in the late 1980s. But Rubens also acted in many movies.
Joining me now is one of Paul's dearest friends, Phil Rosenthal, Creator and Showrunner of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and Creator and Host of "Somebody Feed Phil". Phil, thank you so much for joining us tonight. It's just a very sad day to think about for so many people who grew up watching him, whose children, like my own, are now discovering him for the first time, thinking that he is a brand new artist and talent and comedian. You were close to him. In fact, you were able to reach out before his passing. Can you tell us what you shared with him?
PHIL ROSENTHAL, SHOWRUNNER, "EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND": Yeah, you know, he called me a couple nights ago out of the blue to say goodbye. And I didn't even know he was sick. And it turns out he called several of his friends to say goodbye. And he didn't pass immediately. And so, I took the opportunity to write him a short thing that I then posted today. I'll read it to you if you like. Dear Paul, the world is better because you've been here. You're a genius, an artist, a unique and singular voice, and best of all, funny as hell. I've loved you since the first time I saw Pee-wee, and from that first special, never missed an episode. I've bought and kept every single thing available you've done. Very few people have had the ability to create such a lovable character, plus an entire universe around it. Your entire sensibility is so brilliant and hilarious and kind-hearted. You tapped into and literally personified the joy of childhood. You were always one of my heroes and a huge influence.
So, when we met some 25 years ago and got to work together and actually become great friends, it was blessing upon blessing. I love you. My family loves you. You are family. Thank you for being so generous and kind and caring and above all funny. Your impact on the world will last forever. You made my life better.
COATES: Oh, that's beautiful. Did he respond?
ROSENTHAL: He sent me a heart, and then he was gone.
COATES: Knowing that he read that, knowing that he heard and saw those words from you, I mean, your friendship must mean so much to you. Can you share with us a little bit about what legacy Pee Wee Herman, of course, your friend Paul Reubens. What does he really have as terms of a legacy to you?
ROSENTHAL: His body of work, I think, speaks for itself. And the work was so beautiful and unique and so, like I said, kind-hearted and loving. And he really did, if you're looking at these clips now, look at this world he created. It's iconic. And it was all from his head. Yes, he had help in the brilliant art design and everything, but a lot of the sensibility was right from him. He studied art in school. He knew what art was. This was a form of art to him. And it was the most important kind, the kind that connects to people and makes them a little kinder and more loving. He also had this wicked sense of humor.
So, he knew that inside every kid was not just this loving soul, but kind of, you know, a selfish narcissist inside every little kid. But it's still innocent because, listen, when you're a little kid, four or five years old, like what he was playing, the world does revolve around you. Your parents tell you that the whole world revolves around you, so why wouldn't you? Now, hopefully you grow up a little and you're kind to other people and you realize there's other people in the world.
And these were the lessons that he was actually learning as the child character in the show and then imparting it to not just children who were his primary target. He used to say, I want to kill the five-year- olds with this comedy. I want them to die laughing. You know? Look what he's doing. But look at the other levels it appealed to us as adults. We could laugh hysterically at Pee-wee. It was such a brilliant, comedic creation, I'd say one of the best in history.
COATES: Phil, you know, so oftentimes people fail to appreciate the true intellect of all comedians, understand what art form they're creating and to know what it takes to tap into all of that. It's no wonder he ended his statement by saying, "I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you." Phil Rosenthal, thank you so much.
ROSENTHAL: Love to you, love to everybody. We're lucky that we had him.
COATES: I'm sorry for your loss and for people to now discover or to remember and recall and reflect on that life. We'll be back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COATES: Well, the former president, Donald Trump, he does like an entrance, doesn't he? Especially, if it's accompanied by a song. But these, well, ironic lyrics playing when he walked onto the stage in Iowa, it might even make Alanis Morissette blush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
("GOING TO PRISON" SONG PLAYING)
One could end up going to prison. One just might be president.
COATES: Okay, now you think I'm kidding here, but that's actually a Brooks and Dunn song talking about prison. And it seems like he might have been trolling until you realize, well, all the candidates walked up to the same song at the Lincoln dinner. It isn't, by the way, Trump's first, well, shall we say, ironic walk-up song.
("FORTUNATE SON" PLAYING)
COATES: "Fortunate Son", about wealthy people dodging the draft for the war in Vietnam. Of course, you know Trump avoided the draft five times, citing bone spurs. Well, here's another.
("THE RALLYING CRY" PLAYING)
COATES: "The Rallying Cry" in this Les Miserables song urges those to fight against the rich elite people in power. Trump, of course, is a billionaire who is seeking a presidency for a second time. A reminder, dozens of artists have now taken issue with Trump playing their music at any of his rallies, from Bruce Springsteen to The Stones. I wonder who'll be next.
Up next, everyone, Alisyn Camerota speaks to the long-time Republican operative who just quit a pack for Ron DeSantis. Hear why he says, look, it's not the campaign, it's the candidate.