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CNN Live Event/Special

DOJ Wants January 2nd Date For Trump Election Trial; Trump Couches Election Lies With Opinion Qualifiers; At Least 53 Dead In Catastrophic Hawaii Fires; Riverboat Captain In Massive Alabama Brawl Speaks Out; Senator Joe Manchin Says He's One Step Closer To Leaving The Democratic Party; Laura Coates Discusses The Power, Influence And Success Of Women In Various Fields; Evangelical Christian Leader Russell Moore Reveals Pastors' Concern About Politics' Role On Congregants. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 10, 2023 - 22:00   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Not an everyday resident of Alabama. I should note, that did not seem to negatively affect his campaign. He was, in the end, elected in a landslide.

Thank you so much for joining us for what was a very busy hour tonight. CNN PRIMETIME with Laura Coates starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Busy, indeed, Kaitlan. There was so much to cover and still so much ahead. So nice to see you.

And good evening, everyone, I'm Laura Coates. Thank you so much for joining me. We've got some notable guests joining me tonight, including Bob McDonnell, the Virginia governor who Jack Smith once prosecuted. I'm eager to hear what he has to say about all of these matters.

Bill Weir is standing by in Hawaii as we unpack that devastation.

Also, a top American pastor who says the teachings of Jesus are apparently too woke, yes, you heard me say that, for Trump supporting evangelicals.

And the riverboat captain in that Alabama brawl, he is speaking out for the first time right here tonight.

And, by the way, if you haven't noticed, it is the summer of women, from the Beehive to Barbie and the Swifties.

But, first, everyone, look, Jack Smith has already made his New Year's plans. It's not going to be singing Sweet Caroline, I can tell you that. He'll be getting ready for trial. His office is now declaring that they want to see the election interference case against the former president. They want to go to trial on January 2nd.

That date, by the way, if you're looking at the calendar, might seem glaringly obvious and has some significance. It's just a few days, by the way, before the third anniversary of the attack on the Capitol and, yes, less than two weeks before the Iowa caucus, and also, of course, the day after New Year's Day. So, he obviously came to play.

It sets up some very legal and public clashes as well as right at the beginning of the 2024 presidential race year and it also means that the case that some people consider the most consequential test of our democracy might be the first one to go to trial, even if that was the last criminal case to actually be indicted. More on all that in just a moment.

But tonight, have you seen this interesting, I'll call it, new trend? Now, you'll recall, one of Team Trump's defenses so far has been Jack Smith can't get into his head, he's not a mind reader. He can't prove mindset. In other words, they can't really prove that Trump didn't really believe his own lies.

And someone must have actually maybe had a conversation with Trump, maybe explaining a little bit more about what mens rea really means, the idea of the criminal intent and the mental intent to actually perform the crime, not necessarily what you believe.

But listen to why this conversation is likely to have happened, because Trump is now sort of couching his normal language and his normal misstatements and lies.

Now, we added captions so you can follow along with these phrases.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm telling them that, in my opinion, the election was rigged. And they're saying that I did something incorrect. I didn't do anything wrong. I believe I won that election by many, many votes, many, many hundreds of thousands of votes. That's what I think.

And I expressed that on the phone call, and I said, I don't know what the number was, like 11,000 or something. I said, what I need is 11,000 votes. I won this thing by hundreds of thousands of votes. That's my opinion. And it's a strong opinion, and I think it's borne out by the facts, and we'll see that.


COATES: Now, that's interesting, I believe my opinion, I think. Why is it interesting? Well, because you've obviously been watching him in the past, and Trump doesn't normally couch his language in this way. In fact, we'll just take one speech, the one, well, from January 6th.


TRUMP: They rigged an election. They rigged it like they've never rigged an election before. I won them both. And the second one, I won much bigger than the first.

The states got defrauded. And our election was so corrupt that in the history of this country, we've amassed overwhelming evidence about a fake election.

They cheated like hell anyway. Make no mistake, this election Was stolen from you, from me, and from the country.

We won in a landslide. This was a landslide. This is the most corrupt election in the history, maybe of the world.


COATES: I don't remember hearing on that day or in the days that would follow and as recently as more recent rallies about the opinion, in my opinion, and I believe, and you must be wondering, well, why is that? Maybe it has a lawyer's hand all over it.

And, you know, the lies have -- well, they have legal risks now and complications, considering, well, this was the disclaimer from the network on which he appeared.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, folks, now, just a note, Newsmax has accepted the election results as legal and final.


COATES: To tell you, lawyers are everywhere, and they're also here tonight. But I want to begin now with CNN Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz, who, really -- Katelyn, you work 24/7, have been getting us all the information we need.


So, thank you for being so diligent and persistent.

What do we need to know tonight, not just about the fact that Jack Smith wants this to happen on January 2nd, which Trump is not happy about, I should mention, but how long does he anticipate that taking? Because, of course, there is this little November election date.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. So, the trial date or trial schedule that the Justice Department wants would be jury selection in December, so, four months from now. That's not a long time from now. And then the trial in January 2nd would be the day it starts. And then they're saying their case to present, it would take four to six weeks, four to six weeks that Donald Trump may actually have to be sitting physically in a courtroom in front of a jury as the federal criminal defendant.

And you mentioned just a few moments ago about how Donald Trump -- this is the third indictment against Trump, and it potentially could be one of the first to go to trial if the judge agrees with this timeline. We already know that she wants things to be moving here, just from what we've seen so far, without seeing her in person yet.

And the Justice Department is actually arguing that that is -- this one really should go to trial so quickly.


POLANTZ: Because it's a public importance that deserves a prompt resolution. Those are some of their words. And particularly they say it's because this is a former president charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate election results in 2020.

And so that idea that this is happening in the election year, they're actually making a bit of the argument to say that's a reason why we should do this trial, to have the public see how it concludes pretty quickly.

Now, Donald Trump and his team, they are quite clearly going to be asking not for that date, much later than that. Trump is out there already saying it should be held after the election. They asked for after the election in their Florida federal case related to documents. And they are saying that there's a lot of matters here that have never been tested in the court before, that they're going to need judges to look at. It doesn't mean that those can be appealed and take a long time, but they are matters of potentially great significance.

COATES: I mean, it's going to be interesting needle to thread if you're Jack Smith to, on the one hand say, this is not under any political considerations, and yet we know full well this looming trial date and, of course, the looming election date. And then you've got Trump, who's already trying to say, I can't get a fair trial here and maybe wanting to push that even further.

Katelyn, it's so great to see you. Thank you so much for your reporting, as always.

Everyone, I want to bring in former Republican Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell. McDonnell was prosecuted, actually by Jack Smith back in 2014 on federal corruption charges. I have to tell you, there's only to have that conviction, by the way, vacated in a unanimous decision from the Supreme Court back in 2016. Governor, thank you for being here today.

I have to tell you, I had been thinking about you and your case as there has been a lot of criticism of one Jack Smith. And your name frequently comes up in the long list of people that Jack Smith has prosecuted. And I've been wondering, given the fact that there is all this talk about the weaponization of the government and the idea of him being a partisan prosecutor, that's the accusation being leveled against him, what did you think, what did you make of it when Jack Smith was named the special counsel overseeing this investigation?

FMR. GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R-VA): Well, first of all, thank you for having me on. I appreciate it. It's a very important topic for the public to think about. Jack Smith is a smart guy, Harvard educated, prosecuted complicated war crimes, former U.S. attorney. What I walked away in my own case, Laura, is I thought he was overzealous in stretching the bounds of the law. That's what John Roberts said in the final opinion. I think he didn't use good judgment and that's why it was unanimously vacated. When Clarence Thomas and Ruth Ginsburg agreed, you got to admit there's something that's unanimously wrong.

So, I guess I was surprised --

COATES: Hold on, I don't want to cut you off there, but just to clarify, and, obviously, you are intimately aware of all the details of your case, but for the audience's perspective, one of the reasons the Supreme Court overturned unanimously had to do with jury instructions about the notion of an official act, official conduct. And they felt that he was boundless was the words they use in the jury instructions. Is that the same thing as why you believe he was overzealous or this was a notion of the novelty of a case like yours?

MCDONNELL: Well, no, with the jury instructions, Laura, you're a former prosecutor like I am, when you get the jury instructions wrong, it means you got the law wrong. And so when the whole theory of the case collapsed and they had a chance to retry the case, they dropped it because they had the law wrong.

And in my case, Laura, I had the five former White House counsel from Reagan to Obama, 83 former attorneys general of the states, Democrats and Republicans, all file briefs in this case, and yet Mr. Smith and the attorney general of the United States persisted in going after me. And, of course, the opinion said that what you're doing is criminalizing thing that political figures do virtually every day in the country.


So, I don't think Jack Smith -- to answer your question, Laura, I didn't see him to be partisan, because if you look at the record during the time he was head of the Public Integrity section, it was not just my case and the conservative non-profits with Lois Lerner that he went after, but it was also John Edwards, it was Bob Menendez. I think in high-profile cases, he showed a propensity to stretch the law.

And, you know, prosecutors have a unique duty. They're supposed to seek truth and justice, not merely convict. That's the ABA prosecutorial standards. And I think he's just fallen short on the judgment on that law.

COATES: So you don't think he's partisan. You think he stretched the law. I wonder, do you believe that Jack Smith is fair in his approach to even this case? Obviously, it's distinct than yours. But do you think that he has the ability to be fair and has he exercised a different level of judgment in the indictments that you have seen?

MCDONNELL: I hate trying cases in the press, as you know. You don't get all the facts. We know what the law is.

Here's my view on the two cases. I think in the Florida case, if he can actually prove and has evidence that is believable on the allegations leading to these charges in Florida, I think the president has got serious criminal culpability if he's got the evidence.

I think differently, though, in the January 6th cases because he doesn't charge an insurrection offense per se. It's these conspiracies theories that I think are rather novel, that even if he can prove the underlying facts in the indictment, I'm not sure a jury will convict the president on these conspiracy charges. I look at that differently. But that's my honest assessment of the cases as I see it.

COATES: I can appreciate the idea of not wanting to try this case in the court of public opinion. You know full well the merit of having this be adjudicated before the jury, having the parameters of a judge set the actual pace, the tone, the evidentiary burdens, all these things, and yet we know that the former president is attempting to, in many ways, try this case or present the evidence in a court of public opinion.

Obviously, he's running for re-election. He knows the consequences of this. What do you make of the timing here? Because I don't know if you realize this, but the special counsel team actually cited your case in their briefing in support of their trial date of January 2nd, because they say, look, that was a rocket docket sort of case. It absolutely can be done in a shorter window than others maybe believe. What do you make of the timeline that Jack Smith is laying out and the ability to get this case either tried and done before an election?

MCDONNELL: Well, you're right about that. My case was from indictment to trial was about six months. When an investigation has gone on for two years and the defendant only has four and a half, five months to get ready, I think there's a little sense among the public that maybe that's not fair.

But I think in an election year, when the president is going to have trials in January, March and May, he's going to be in a courtroom the entire primary season. And I think some people look at that, especially Republicans, and say that that doesn't seem quite fair. Is he going to be able to mount a defense and campaign at the same time or are the charges being brought just to stop him from winning an election? I don't know what's in Jack Smith's heart on that one.

COATES: I have not seen any evidence. I'm not sure you're aware of any either. I'm certainly eager to hear it if it's available or there that there is some effort to try to undermine his explicit candidacy as the president of the United States as if that was the motivation. But one would look at this possibly on the other side of the coin, Governor, and say, well, yes, it's true that these will be a matter of perhaps legal inconvenience. But if you have done these actions as alleged, then should the fact that you're a candidate be any way influential in the decision to actually go forward with the cases?

MCDONNELL: Well, you make a good point. Our whole premise of the American justice system that we all learned our first year in law school is the rule of law, and we treat everybody -- the law has no respective person, whether you're president or whether you're homeless. You get the same due process rights in a courtroom. And so, speedy trial laws are out there.

It just seems -- and, again, I'm looking at it from as a Republican, and if I was solely political, I'd say they're putting them out of business, and so he can't campaign because they don't want them to win. But on the other hand, knowing the justice system, I would say this is the way my case went as well, six months to trial and then two and a half years of appeal.

I think the problem is the government has got all the cards, Laura, as you know, all the money, all the investigators, all the stripes, and having a defendant being ready for trial now.


Presidents got a lot of resources. I have the best law firms in the country representing me, three and a half years, $28 million, and I get unanimously reversed.

It's tough with the federal government and all the resources that they have. And I don't see how we can mount a legitimate campaign when he's in court for six months. So, I think that's the public perception that there's something not right here.

COATES: Well, it's important from your perspective, of course, as there might be the public perception, then there's the actual reality of what it's like for the average defendant, who, by the way, the notion of even $28 million available to try to fight one's case is unbelievable. It's a pie in the sky notion.

But as a Republican, let me ask you --

MCDONNELL: Well, that's why so many people plead guilty in the federal system. As you know, Laura, 95 percent or so, they don't have the resources to fight, whether they're charges are legitimate or not, and that's tough.

COATES: For many reasons, people call it a legal system, not a justice system. But that's a conversation for another day.

But as a Republican, let me ask you this. Obviously, Donald Trump is presumed at this point, based on polling, to be the frontrunner to get the RNC nomination. Would you vote for Donald Trump next year if he, in fact, does clinch that nomination?

MCDONNELL: If he gets the nomination, yes. He's not my first choice. I don't like the tongue. I don't like the arrogance. I don't like the name-calling. I don't like the bullying. I think we have better standard bearers. I'd love to see the governor of my state, Glenn Youngkin, who's a civil, humble public servant who knows how to get things done. That's what I want to see as a Republican leader.

But I like the policies that Donald Trump governed with, with he and his team. I thought were better for America. I think we've got two of the most flawed candidates -- nominations that I've seen in modern history. And I've left with a question, can we not do better in America with people who care and will unite the country and bring people together or not to divide us?

COATES: Governor Bob McDonnell, a really interesting perspective and unique coming from you as well. Thank you so much.

MCDONNELL: I appreciate to be on, Laura. Thank you.

COATES: Well, tonight, we've got the first T.V. interview with the riverboat captain from this massive brawl. Hear what he saw.

Plus, Joe Manchin, a key vote in the Senate, and some would say a thorn in the side of the Democrats over the past several years, is now one step closer to leaving the Democratic Party. We'll talk about the impact on the Biden agenda.

And more on the breaking news out of Hawaii, look at this devastation and the death toll is rising. Our Bill Weir is on the ground, so stand by.



COATES: There is really just devastating news tonight out of fire- ravaged Hawaii. The death toll is rising to now 53 people, and that number is expected to grow.

The island of Maui is now a federal disaster area. And the governor saying this just a few moments ago.


GOV. JOSH GREEN (D-HI): What we saw was the utter devastation of Lahaina. We walked from end to end today as a team, Mayor Bissen for the county, Senator Schatz, the federal level and myself, plus all of our teams. And what we saw was likely the largest natural disaster in Hawaii State history.


COATES: I mean, these images, they speak to just how catastrophic the damage really is. I mean, look at this. Look at the before image and then the after image of a beach resort in Lahaina. And this is the before and after of an outlet in Maui. Now, it's nothing more than a heap of ash.

I want to bring in CNN's Bill Weir on the line in Maui. Bill, I mean, I'm seeing you right now in FaceTime. This is unbelievable to think about. You just got there, we're looking at the images, you're on the ground. How bad is it?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It's worse than I had anticipated. Lauren I had anticipated it to be bad. I covered the Paradise Fire, the campfire, which is the deadliest in U.S. history, and was hearing similar stories of what's happening here.

And the harbor is everything I feared and worse. It's completely devastated. The Front Street buildings, all the iconic tourist spots, so popular with people who come to this west side of Maui completely raised to the ground. It looks like a World War II disaster film, almost, as if a bomb went off in the center of town. It came through so fast. I'm hearing tales of folks who were just pinned. They had nowhere to go. They got into their car and got onto the highway. It was bumper to bumper traffic with fire, wall of fire on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other side.

One woman stood in the ocean for 8 hours before she came out, before the flames had passed for her to come out of the ocean. Others now, you have to think about while this is happening, it's 60, 70 miles an hour winds, the surf is pounding. If you could get to your boat, you couldn't get it out of the harbor in this kind of weather.

So, people who are trying to swim, there's also you got to think about all of the chemicals in the water, the fuel spills in that harbor for people, poor people trying to escape. So, the folks you talk around here are just bracing themselves for a death toll that is going to go higher unfortunately now.

It's already the second deadliest fire in U.S. history in an island in the middle of the South Pacific. That is just inconceivable for people who are used to hurricane warnings, tsunami warnings, volcanic eruptions. The idea that a wildfire could move this quickly and devastate a community like this in the South Pacific is just something people are still coming to grips with.

COATES: I mean, Bill, these stories are absolutely heartbreaking. We're watching and looking at the images as you are talking, right. And, you know, when you have a hurricane in places like Florida or on the coast of the United States, when you've got obviously bordering states and beyond, it can be difficult to get people aid, to get people the resources they need to get them out of harm's way. And this is in, as you mentioned, what's happening in Maui now in what was a paradise location.

Was there any notice? Did people have any time? How much lead time did they have when they realized just the danger they were in?

WEIR: It was minutes. It was minutes people had to decide they would see embers blowing. The prudent ones who took this seriously and jumped in their cars, I spoke to a gentleman who owns -- Bill Wyland (ph), who owns art galleries in beach towns around the world.


You've probably seen them. They have whale murals on the side. He jumped on his Harley Davidson and was able then to get around lines of traffic. And he says he thinks that might have saved him because he was more nimble on a motorcycle than stuck bumper to bumper in a car.

And, yes, no, it's -- I hear story after story about just how fast it moved because these winds they've never seen before. They're used to 30, 40-mile-an-hour trade winds in the islands here. But this was -- one local farmer here that I'm actually using his Wi-Fi signal, which is why I can talk to you. I'm not near the devastation. This is the only place we could get a signal out. So, many of the cell towers have burned down. So, there's just lack of communication. People are worried they can't get proof of life from people. And so that's scary as you wait for the confirmation that your loved one's okay out there as well.

But he was telling me the stories of the wind. And as a kite surfer, he knows that when the palm tree leaves get vertical like that, you're in the 70, 80-mile-an-hour range. And when they start snapping off, it's over that. And all this dry timber and fuel around us with those blowtorch winds, people just didn't have a chance. They just didn't have a chance to get out.

COATES: Bill, I mean, the mommy and me is just thinking about all the people who are trying to keep their children calm, trying to make sure their children are accounted for, that their loved ones are safe. The fact that people had even minutes is just so unbelievable to think about. Bill Weir, thank you for being on the ground. Keep us all posted, please.

WEIR: You bet.

COATES: Man, CNN's impact, your world team has vetted organizations that are now aiding in recovery efforts, and you can find out how you can help Hawaii wildfire victims at, or you can text Hawaii to 707070 to donate.

Up next, everyone, the riverboat captain and that Alabama brawl is speaking out on television for the very first time about what he saw and why he says it was racially motivated. Don't miss this conversation.



COATES: In moments, Riverboat captain in that massive Alabama brawl is speaking out for the very first time. He joins me live. But first, some new developments tonight in the investigation. Police are now charging another person, this time Mary Todd with third degree assault, making her the fourth person now facing charges. A 21-year- old turned herself in today, is expected to make her first court appearance tomorrow morning.

Earlier this week, police also charged three men with third degree assault. That now viral and massive brawl broke out after Riverboat Co-Captain Damian Pickett, the man that you saw struck just now in the white shirt, asked a private pontoon boat to move so that his boat could park. Pickett, a black man along with a 16-year-old white young man, were victims in the fight.

Tonight, in an exclusive interview, the captain of that Riverboat is speaking out about just what happened that day. Captain Jim Kittrell joins me now. Thank you for joining us today. First of all, we've all been watching --


COATES: We've seen this video. Everyone has been talking about this. We see where the video picks up, but tell us what you saw happen. KITTRELL: Well, what everybody hadn't seen yet is what happened to

make all these other things happen. And that was, we were doing our five to seven cruise last Saturday, coming into the dock and I noticed there were a lot of boats at the dock. I noticed that one of the pontoons is too far back for me to align my exit ramp with the - my exit gate with the exit ramp. So, I said, okay, well I blow my horn a few times. Nothing happens.

So, I did that another time. Nothing happened. So, I got on the P.A. and I said, folks in the pontoon boat there, could you please move your boat up a few feet so I can pull into the dock. Nothing happened, no response at all. I did that maybe five, six times and it still hadn't moved. So, I said, okay, so I said, listen now, I've got to get these people to dock. I've got 200 passengers on here. I need you to move the boat forward. Still nothing.

So, I said, okay, well. I'm going to have to call the police and the police are going to come down here and if you've got alcohol on your boat or whatever it's going to be a bad day, so, let's just move the boat up and avoid that. Still -- still nothing. I said, okay, so, okay, so I call the police.

COATES: This is all the PA system. You're saying this to them? They can -- they're within earshot. You call the police. They still don't respond -- KITTRELL: Oh yeah.

COATES: Until this moment when you have your co-captain get off and that's what he's confronted with?

KITTRELL: Well, not yet. After I called the police, I went back on the P.A. one more time. And I said, okay, I've called the police. They're going to be down here. They're coming on their way. Well, the passengers and crew said, hey, they're shooting. They're flipping you off there, Captain. I said, okay. So, I knew that I wasn't going to get any cooperation. Well, then they just left. Everybody on the boat left. Off the dock. They're gone. As far as I know, they're gone, gone. I didn't know. So, I said, okay, what am I going to do now?

By that time, a friend of mine who was the captain of the Shipping Cycle (ph), he called me up. He was at the scene, too. He was doing cruises. And he said, what you going to do captain? He said, I tried to talk to them to get them to move and they refused to move. I said, well, do you think you could come over here and you put a couple of deckhands on your boat and send them over there and let them move the boat for me.

And that's common practice in the boat world. Yeah, sometimes you have to move a boat here and there just to fit in. It happens a lot to fuel docks or whatever. You have to move the boat sometimes. It's not --

COATES: It's not every day that you have to do something like that. And so, would that and when that happened, we then see that obviously, these men were approached, they came back on the scene.

[22:35:00] Either they have gone and then this violence escalates, you know, watching this, people immediately thought, just because of the racial dynamic in particular, obviously here, they saw a group of white men attacking a singular, black man wo was struck. It looks like, first, did you believe that race played an impact and a role on this entire thing?

KITTRELL: Well, initially now, Damien, who is actually my first mate and -- I've been mentoring him -- he's been on the boat for --

COATES: He's who was struck.

KITRELL: He's been on the boat for -- yes, he's the one that was struck. He's been a dear friend of mine for a long time. When the first guy hit him, I said, oh my God, you know, and he threw his hat up, I said, oh no, we've got problems. Then another guy got involved. Three or four more guys came running down the dock. I said, thank God they're going to stop this, but they didn't stop if they jumped in, as well. So, he had like five or six folks on there. Another guy that's on the dock, his name's Daniel, and he's 16 years old. He's a deck candidate and he did his best you know trying he stepped in there and tried to help as best he could he got punched fairly early there. So --

COATES: Have you talked to Daniel?

KITTRELL: Yeah, you know I saw --

COATES: Have you talked to him? How is he holding up?

KITTRELL: Oh, yeah, I mean I took him to the hospital that night, we've been, oh, he's doing well, he's still having some headaches and stuff but he's doing well. But you know, I saw it like everybody else saw it looks like white people attacking a black man. Yeah, I thought of that, I felt that -- I felt that was the case, what everybody's thinking. But you know, I don't know the hearts of those men. I have no idea what's in their hearts. Now, I do know the hearts of my crew. And my crew was like frustrated because they couldn't get to the dock and protective. So, I know that's what was going through their mind because that's what was going through mine. But --

COATES: Had you had any other experiences before with this same group of people?

KITTRELL: Well, I don't know about the same group of people. This is a group that comes up from downriver, from Selma. They come up every year and they park their boats and they go have fun downtown and we have a couple of years ago We came back from the cruise to get our golf cart that we used to get people up the hill that are handicapped or elderly.

And we get back and the golf cart is gone. We don't know where it is. Well, eventually we get a call from the hotel, the Embassy Suites hotel, and they say, hey, man, your golf cart is in our lobby. So, we go down there and get the golf cart and we see the video, find out who it is, we call the police. The police, we all get together with the guy that stole it. You know, police say you know it's just kind of a prank, you know. I called my boss because that the boat belongs to the city, right he said a city property and but so he wanted me to press charges. But the police say hey man you know just a little prank and let's let it slide. I said okay.

COATES: Well, Captain, there's been a very different response to this. This does not feel like a prank, it's not being treated like a prank. There are criminal charges people turning themselves in, arrest warrants issued and as you say really we've been all watching this unfold and, what struck me is that you thought that the people coming in, were gonna help and we saw what ultimately occurred. Captain, thank you for sharing this story with us and telling us what we were not seeing. I know there's more to it. We want to hear from you again. Thank you so much.

KITTRELL: Sure. And trust the process. The process will work its way out. It'll all come through in the end. So --

COATES: Trust the process. Very prescient words.

KITTRELL: Trust the process.

COATES: Thank you so much. Thank you. Up next, Senator Joe Manchin's gambit. The question, will he throw a wrench in the Democratic Party's plans and potentially maybe the presidential race by becoming an independent?


JOE MANCHIN (D), SENATOR, WEST VIRGINIA: I would think very seriously about that. I've been thinking about that for quite some time.


COATES: Plus, the teachings of Jesus described by some Christians as liberal talking points. I'll tell you who's saying that. Next, evangelical leader Russell Moore is here to talk about what he calls a crisis in Christianity.




COATES: Well tonight, Senator Joe Manchin says that he's one step closer to leaving the Democratic Party. Take a look at the evolution, shall we say, just over the past decade. We've got a spokesman that he says that he's not in 2010. He's not switching parties. Remember that. In 2016, Manchin says that he hasn't spent a day considering a party switch. Then 2021 comes up. He says he's never even considered it. Later that year, he'd switch if he ever becomes an embarrassment to the party. Then you got last year, bottom line, he's a West Virginia Democrat.

Late last year, no intentions. Earlier this year, quote, I identify as an American. Last month, we'll see what happens. And today?


MANCHIN: I'm thinking seriously, what's the best? For me, I have to have peace of mind, basically. The brand has become so bad, the D brand and our brand. In West Virginia, the D brand, because it's nationally branded. It's not the Democrats in West Virginia, it's the Democrats in Washington or the Washington policies of the Democrats. You've heard me say a million times, I'm not a Washington Democrat. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: I want to bring in CNN Media Analyst Sara Fischer and Former Senior Advisor to the Biden 2020 campaign, Alencia Johnson. So glad to have you both here. Obviously, Joe Manchin is not maybe the favorite darling of all Democrats who are looking at him and Sinema at different times as being a bit of a thorn in their side.


He has said that he is steadfastly for West Virginia, not just a party. How do you take it?

ALENCIA JOHNSON, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, BIDEN 2020 CAMPAIGN: Well, I take this as Joe Manchin realizes he might have a difficult GOP challenger in 2024. And also, look, you all mentioned it in the package. He has not always been helpful to the party. He has sometimes been a thorn on our side when it comes to things like voting rights, some of the key pieces of President Biden's legislation. And so, if he decides that he doesn't want to be part of the Democratic Party, I am open to someone who wants to be a true Democrat running and taking that seat.

COATES: Yet often people talk about West Virginia. You could not have a successful Democrat be elected other than Joe Manchin whether that's true or not. It's untested. He certainly is trying to play the field media-wise. He's well-aware of the attention that he receives. He's well-aware of the no labels conversation before. Is he capitalizing on the uncertainty?

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: I think so and it's important to remember that was a West Virginia local radio outlet that he did that interview with. He wasn't coming on a big national network to send that message. But this state is a state that voted 40 percent for Donald Trump in the 2020 election. It's a different kind of state than it used to be. And so, for him, he needs to make sure, one, he's catering to the local media, but two, he's catering to the national media that could potentially support him if he were to make this switch.

The other thing I want to note just on the media side, the parties don't have the power they used to. The DNC, the RNC, they don't have the power that they used to. I think he recognizes that.

COATES: You know who has the power right now? And frankly, who runs the world? Girls. But you guys missed your cue. Are you serious right now, ladies? I said who runs the world? JOHNSON: I was making sure we went there.

COATES: Okay, we're going there right now because, enough about Joe Manchin and politics. Let's talk about the summer of women right now. Because look at these numbers. I mean, you guys, you've got Beyonce's Renaissance World Tour is on the verge of bringing in more than half a billion dollars. That's a B for Beyonce, half a billion dollars, alongside, says, "Barbie", Taylor Swift, as well. This has become such a phenomenal moment because each of them carries such great influence and weight, and they're wielding it. You actually went at the concert on Sunday, weren't you?

JOHNSON: I was out there at the concert on Sunday in the rain, and I told everyone, fellow Virgo, a Virgo that Beyonce is, will not stop the show just because of some rain. But listen, it was a magical experience. And let me just play a little history here. Twenty years ago this summer, Beyonce released her first solo single, Crazy In Love, that actually took over summer of 2003. Twenty years later, it is the soundtrack of the year and the concert that everyone is going to.

But you mentioned "Barbie", you mentioned Taylor Swift. Listen, Barbie's influence, we've seen it not just in the media, but in the stores - Barbiecore pink. We've seen the Renaissance metallic in sequence all over the stores. We've also seen local economies talking about the boost to local businesses, to hospitality industry. So, it's the summer of women and I think, you know, if we continue this trend, you know, maybe one day we'll have the summer of women where women will be presidents.

COATES: From the she-demic, right, we heard about in the she-session and the impact, as you mentioned, all those different sectors, now really being spearheaded in terms of recovery, the Airbnb industry, I understand. All sorts of facets around this sector because of what they're doing. They are transcending, obviously, the musical space for so many reasons. And in a world where we've got a lot of influencers for the sake of influencing, they're wielding it, and they know their power.

FISCHER: They absolutely know their power. And by the way, the common woman knows her power, too. Coming out of the pandemic, yes, we're going back to work, but there's also remote work. And that's been very empowering for a lot of women who are now able to use their disposable income to go see concerts, to go to movies, and they're driving the economy in a whole new way. By the way, this is forcing the establishment, the established corporations to totally rethink how they're putting out entertainment, movies, and music.

You see Disney taking a look at the success of "Barbie", Warner Bros. Discovery and thinking we need to rethink our superhero strategy. It's not all going to be big blockbuster franchises of action and adventure that's going to lure people to theaters anymore. Same thing if you talk to folks at Vivid Seats or Ticketmaster. They recognize that this is what's getting people out to the concert venues and fueling the recovery. It's going to force a huge shift and I don't think it's going away. COATES: And by the way, none of it's in the vacuum. We remember, you

know, Beyonce just recently talking about a man who was killed in what seems to be a hate crime for voguing to her music at a gas station in New York. You've got Taylor Swift taking agency and autonomy over her own record collection, of course, and her repertoire. People are paying attention, and obviously the numbers track that, as well. Ladies, thank you so much, Sara and Alencia.

Well, here's a question I didn't think would be on the bingo card, I mean, ever. Is Jesus too woke for evangelical Christians? Well, some congregations are telling their pastors the teachings of Jesus are, in their words, weak. Christian leader Russell Moore is my guest. He'll explain what's happening next.




COATES: Well, as you might imagine, politics is not staying out of even the church pews these days. Evangelical Christian leader Russell Moore revealing in a recent interview with "NPR" that many pastors are expressing concern about the role that Politics is having on through their congregants with some now calling Jesus' teachings, weak. Russell Moore, Editor in Chief of "Christianity Today" joins me now. He's also author of the new book, "Losing Our Religion: An Alter Call for Evangelical America".

Russell, I'm glad that you're here. I got to tell you, I've heard the term woke a lot these days, either people condemning it or praising it. I never thought I'd see weak, however, being used as the new condemnation of the teachings of Jesus in congregations. Why?

RUSSELL MOORE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "CHRISTIANITY TODAY": Well, pastors are under a lot right now and I started hearing from them about having situations where they would say in a sermon, turn the other cheek or something along those lines, to have someone come up after and say, where are you getting these weak talking points? We need to fight.

COATES: Talking points.

MOORE: Yeah. When the pastor says, I'm just literally quoting Jesus Christ, the congregant would say, well, that used to work, but it won't work now. As though the fruit of the spirit in the way of Jesus is something that was reserved for some other time.


And I think that's really showing us what's happening all around American life. And there are a lot of pastors bracing for how far is this going to go? This sense of division and opposition to one another, sometimes even a spirit of cruelty. That's just not the way of Jesus.

COATES: But where do you think this is coming from? Where do they believe it's coming from? Because obviously you talk a lot about the political rhetoric and the divisive rhetoric, but normally, people think about that in the political space. Is that now infiltrating into this space?

MOORE: Well, I think we're in such a tribalized moment that people's political identities have become all-encompassing. And we start trying to prove our loyalty to whatever our own tribe is by hating the other group all the more. That's just not the way of Jesus Christ, who is to transform us both in our relationship with God, our relationship with one another, and even with people who disagree with us. And one of the things that's really hopeful to me is that I'm seeing a lot of my fellow evangelical Christians who are exhausted with this.

COATES: You're hopeful. I know about that. I'm hopeful because they're saying, you know, I don't want to go through this. Again, we've seen all the division. We've seen all the cruelty and the hatred, and there has to be a better way. I was just talking to some young government officials tonight who were saying, how do we as Christians make sure that we don't become power hungry and we don't become cruel? How do we actually follow Jesus? And so, I think there's hope and signs for renewal, but that means being really honest about what the crisis is.

Well, let's be honest about what you think the crisis might be attributed to, or people who are talking to you about this very issue, because you're talking about the way, and I mean the political avenues here in particular. Do you think that this is being, and the fans are being flamed by particular actors in, you know, in politics? I mean, Donald Trump has been somebody who has been criticized for a very long time about the kind of otherism and the idea of sort of vilifying people in ways that people latch onto. Are you seeing his influence in these conversations?

MOORE: Well, I've been very clear about what I think about Donald Trump, but I don't think he is the originator of this. I think this has been brewing in American life, including in church life, for a while.


MOORE: And that means I don't think we can't just outlast any one political figure. I think we're in a moment where we're being driven by the limbic system. We're being driven by fear and by anger and by a sense of theatrical outrage. And there's just, there is a different way. And I believe that as somebody who believes the Bible, believes Jesus is alive, and believes the Spirit actually can lead us toward loving even people who disagree with us.

COATES: Allow me a level of political cynicism here for a moment because we're in Washington DC and why not? And you know how much politicians and candidates will often lean on the evangelical community and talk about independent voters, Democrats, Republicans, suburban women, college educated rule, evangelical, they'll have a whole category and knowing there is a very big relationship and getting out the vote and beyond, is that changing now given what you're saying? Are you finding candidates still relying on the invalid, the evangelicals, excuse me, to come out and get people to vote?

MOORE: Oh, politicians definitely rely on that. But all evangelicals are not the same thing. And I think that we're in an American moment where people think of evangelicals as simply a political constituency.

COATES: Right.

MOORE: Come out in time for the Iowa caucuses. And there's actually a deep rich heritage of a people who really are committed to Christ and one another to renewal. And I have hope for that being reborn.

COATES: Do you see or think about... issues. As you well know, abortion has been a huge issue on the polls and for other reasons and conversations all across this country and frankly the globe. Knowing that this has been such an issue and knowing that it continues to be on the ballot, perhaps at times in invisible ink in the form of ballot referendums and beyond, what are you seeing in communities and among the evangelicals in particular about how they are addressing this in politics?

MOORE: Well, I'm a committed pro-life Christian but I think we have to persuade people who don't agree with us and that means explaining why we believe in protection for vulnerable human beings and for their mothers and to care for women and children in crisis. We have to -- we have to not simply deal on the legal front although I think we should do that on the political front, but also in terms of hearts and minds.

COATES: Really fascinating conversation. I'm looking forward to reading your book. It's called Losing Our Religion and Alter Call for Evangelical America. Really fascinating to think about, you know. Is there no sacred space? Is there -- politics infuses every and any little thing and every big thing, as well. Thank you for tonight.

MOORE: Thank you.

COATES: Really important. Russell Moore, thank you everyone. And that's it from me everyone. Sara Sidner and her illustrious, beautiful volume hair picks it up right now for CNN tonight. Hey sis.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, Laura, you forgot to ask the one big question.

COATES: What was the question?

SIDNER: What would Jesus do if he heard this conversation?

COATES: What would Jesus do -- man, I don't -- where is my bracelet? Sara Sidner, I took out the Apple watch and I forgot everything.

SIDNER: It's all good. See you soon.

COATES: See you later.