Return to Transcripts main page
Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Source: Trump Charged with Seven Counts in Documents Case; Source: Trump Charged With 7 Counts In Docs Case; Former Pres. Says He Has Been Summoned To Appear In Miami Tuesday; Source: At Least One Charge Against Trump Is Conspiracy. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 08, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I get it. I get it. I get it. But you know, it is a different game when you're charging a president of the United States with a crime, and that's what we are seeing here.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Right. And sometimes, you have to play it right within, and you've got to play -- you've got to play by a different game.
All right, all, thank you so very much on this historic day with this breaking news. The former president of the United States, Donald J. Trump has been indicted on seven counts in the Mar-a-Lago documents case.
Let's hand it off now for our breaking news coverage continuing with Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening.
What has never happened before has just happened tonight. For the first time ever, a former president of the United States has been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Donald John Trump charged according to a source familiar with the matter with seven counts in the classified documents case. This is a Special Edition of 360 from New York. I'm Anderson Cooper.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And here in Washington, I'm Kaitlan Collins.
And in keeping with his reality TV roots, the former president preempted any Justice Department announcement of the charges against him in a series of posts on his social media network.
In one, just a few moments ago, he wrote: "I have been summoned to appear at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday at 3:00 PM." He goes on to say he never thought it was possible that such a thing like this could happen, then drifts into boasting about how he won all the votes in the presidential election, which we know is not true.
He also wrote in all caps: "I am an innocent man." COOPER: Kaitlan, joining us now, our senior justice department correspondent, Evan Perez.
Evan, what do we know about these seven counts?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know the details of exactly what these seven counts are, Anderson. We know that the former president was on notice. He knew that he was being investigated for a couple of particular statutes. One is 793, the Espionage Act. That's the willful retention of national defense information.
We know he was also notified that he was under investigation for 2071, which is concealment of these documents -- government documents -- depriving them from the use of federal government officials, and of course, obstruction of justice. The question is, what other charges -- possible charges. We know that there are seven charges, and you know, again, the fact is that this has never happened before.
And this is something that Jack Smith, the prosecutors in that office, have weighed for some time before making this decision. Everything, including, of course, the target letter that the former president received only recently had to go through Merrick Garland. Merrick Garland, the attorney general would have had to review this and decide whether to allow it to go forward.
So the idea that this indictment, we don't know exactly when it was returned, if it was returned today. He is certainly -- the former president says he was notified this evening, tells us that, you know, the Justice Department had certainly gotten to this stage very recently that they knew they had enough evidence, they believed they had enough evidence to bring this to a jury.
COOPER: Evan, also just talk about this being in Florida, the change of venue.
PEREZ: Yes, no, actually, Anderson. This is one of the fascinating things for us. We've been following this. We've seen dozens of witnesses go to the federal courthouse here in Washington and be brought before the grand jury here. That was hearing witnesses, again, testimony with regard to this and the January 6 investigation, and it is only recently that we understand that this grand jury in Miami has started hearing testimony.
What we heard from Trump lawyers, including on our air was that they believed there was an issue with venue. We are told that this is something they raised with the Justice Department that they believed it would be improper to bring this case in Washington because any possible crimes, any accusations against the former president happened in the Southern District of Florida, which is of course where Mar-a- Lago is located.
It appears, Anderson that Justice Department officials eventually got to that point, they clearly at some point, thought it would be better to do it here in Washington, but then changed their mind and decided that Miami is the place to bring these charges. Again, we don't know the exact details of these charges, but clearly, you know, that's why this sudden change of venue. And now we expect the former president to appear on Tuesday for his first appearance before a magistrate in Miami.
COOPER: Yes, he said 3:00 PM. Evan, we'll check back in with you over the next two hours.
I'm joined now by our political and legal analysts, "New York Times'" Maggie Haberman; former Obama senior adviser, David Axelrod, former assistant US attorney, Elie Honig, and Republican strategist, David Urban, one time campaign adviser to the former president.
Maggie, I want to start with you. What are you hearing personally?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think everyone is still in shock, who is hearing the news, both people around the former president and frankly people across the political spectrum because we have been hearing the drip, drip of this case for so long.
His team was prepared for this to happen this week, didn't have information that it was going to. Seven counts is a lot. You know, we don't know exactly what all of the charges are yet. We're going to have to see what the complaint is. We won't know until presumably it is unsealed.
So there's a lot of unknowns, but this is obviously not a good development and it's one that he was hoping to avoid.
COOPER: Elie Honig, from a legal perspective, what do you think the seven counts are?
Or what do we know based on what's been presented thus far?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The best indicator we have so far is the search warrant affidavit for Mar-a-Lago, and when the Justice Department went to a judge, they said, we have probable cause to believe that three different crimes were committed -- willful retention or mishandling of Defense information, that's part of the Espionage Act; destruction or concealment of government documents, and then third, obstruction of justice.
Now, federal prosecutors can break this out any way they want. It's possible we see multiple counts of some of those. It's possible we see any combination of those that adds up to seven, it could be that we see other accounts, because what you put in your search warrant affidavit may not necessarily be what you indict on.
And Anderson, bigger picture, even without seeing the specifics of this indictment. I think it's clear that Donald Trump is in for the fight of his life. This is a man who has been sued, deposed, taken the Fifth, impeached twice, tried in the Senate, investigated by Congress, even indicted by the state authorities here in Manhattan, but being indicted by the Justice Department is different. This is a whole different ballgame. DOJ has way more resources. The conduct here is going to be, I think, it's safe to say more significant than what he was indicted for in Manhattan and the consequences if he's convicted are going to be much more severe than what he's looking at in Manhattan.
COOPER: What about there was an espionage charge as a possibility?
HONIG: Yes, that is one of the crimes that was listed and that relates to miss handling of Defense information, not necessarily classified information. I should note this also. One of the statutes that was listed in the search warrant application, destruction and concealment of government documents, says on the face of the law, if a person is convicted of this crime, he is disqualified from holding federal office.
Now a big thing we need to know here, that may not be constitutional. That's never been challenged in court. I think there's a good chance that that would not hold up in court. Also, I think it's unlikely well, but we don't know whether this case will be tried before the election. And even if it is, nothing is final until the appeal is over. That will not happen until after the election.
COOPER: David Urban I mean, you know, the former president quite well. His statement on his social media, it paints the picture of how he is going to portray this.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Obviously, but, you know, we saw this kind of played out in an ad that the wolves are coming for me, right, the campaign has put together. And we've heard this over and over. I'm standing between you and them, right?
That the Justice Department has been weaponized. The FBI has been weaponized. You know, one of the points I think that makes it tougher here is this Espionage Act charge. Right?
COOPER: And we don't know if that is one of the seven.
URBAN: Well, I don't know if it is one of the seven counts, but it will based upon the search warrant, you know, the Espionage Act.
When you paint yourself and you're a patriot and you're the president of the United States, I can't imagine a worse phrase to be used with the president United States than the Espionage Act. When you hear it, it just -- it makes us sick to your stomach. Right?
And so I think people will viscerally react to it differently than anything else that he's been charged with so far. Conspiracy, obstruction -- I think those things, the president can make go away. And the people who follow the president won't pay that much attention.
When you push somebody and say, the president is alleged to have violated the Espionage Act. That just hits differently, and I think it's going to be tougher.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know -- oh, go ahead, Maggie.
HABERMAN: No, I just -- I mean, I think I still think obstruction and other charges that might be in here are still going to be problematic for him, maybe not in the Republican primary.
URBAN: No, legally.
AXELROD: I agree.
HABERMAN: Yes, I just -- but I think that once he gets to a general election as the frontrunning nominee that he appear -- the frontrunner for the nominee that he appears to be right now, if that holds, if what happened last time he was indicted happens again, and it basically acts a political buoy, he still faces a problem explaining this in the general.
Now he will then use that as a political cudgel against Joe Biden. There's no question about it.
URBAN: But if you're standing as a Republican on a debate stage, if you're being asked tomorrow, if you're Mike Pence, and you're being asked like, okay, now what? Now, there is a violation there, will you still support him in a general election? I think the answer is going to be completely different. That's just my take on it.
AXELROD: Well, it may be. You know, the one thing that Donald Trump probably has taught us in the last eight years or so is humility in these discussions for six years.
I haven't lived inside his head like Maggie has, but I've always -- but it seems to me there's always been this interplay between his decision to run again, and the possibility that he was going to be indicted, so that he could actually weaponize his campaign against these indictments.
And I think that's what we're going to see, just as we did here in New York. He is going to say that, as you say, you know, they're coming after us. They're trying to take our voice away. And you know, and no president has ever faced this before. They are not doing it to Biden, they're not -- notwithstanding the fact that there's no real relationship between the two cases here.
So, you know I think it's TBD and I'll tell you those -- not to question the courage of those Republican candidates. But I think they're going to wait and see how people react to this and Trump and he's meeting with his political advisers and not just his lawyers tonight, he is going to run a full fledge campaign to try and use his supporters as his shield and his sword against these charges.
COOPER: Maggie, I saw you nodding when David was saying about his decision to run, that this may have been a part of that calculation.
HABERMAN: Oh, yes. I mean, I don't think it's the only thing. I think part of it is that if he didn't run, he's not relevant. It's a huge opportunity to continue to raise a ton of money and have events at his clubs and so forth, but it is absolutely the case that he believes that this is something that he could use, a campaign, a political campaign that could be used to say, this case is political, that everything is political.
COOPER: We are getting the information in dribs and drabs. I want to get to Kristen Holmes right now who has some new information.
Kristen, what have you learned?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, we have learned that of these seven charges, at least one of them is related to a conspiracy charge. Now, we don't know exactly what that means, but this is something that we believe that the Department of Justice was trying to prove.
We know they had brought in a number of lower level aides trying to prove this conspiracy theory that there had been a larger conspiracy around obstruction of justice.
Now, again, I want to be very clear, we do not know exactly what this conspiracy charge is. All we know so far, is that there are seven charges and that one of them at least, is related to conspiracy.
And we also know that the Department of Justice had brought in multiple sources, trying to prove this point of conspiracy, trying to bring in these lower level sources, essentially, from these lawyers that I've talked to, Trump lawyers, trying to prove that Trump had instructed these lower level employees in some way, which would make for a possible conspiracy charge.
Again, we do not have details on this. All we know is that there are seven charges and that at least one is related to conspiracy -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Kristen, we will obviously come back to you.
Elie Honig, talk about conspiracy here.
HONIG: Yes, so all that a conspiracy means legally is an agreement between two or more people to violate the law, a meeting of the minds. And so what we know based on Kristen's reporting is this was not Donald Trump acting alone. There were others in on it with him who knew that this was criminal.
And I think it's fair to speculate that when we see this indictment that Donald Trump will be cast as the head of the conspiracy. It's impossible to do it --
COOPER: So multiple actors in a conspiracy have to be aware that the activity is illegal.
HONIG: Yes. Because let's say for example, Donald Trump told an unwitting person move that box and that person didn't know anything about that. That's not a conspiracy. That's a crime by Donald Trump, not the guy moving the box. If they both knew and had a meeting of the minds, this is illegal, and we're doing it, that is a conspiracy. And I also want to underscore the fact that this has been charged in Florida is enormously significant.
Legally, I think it's the right move by DOJ because they're going to avoid a messy question about venue. Unquestionably, this crime happened in Florida. Had they charged in DC, they would have had a major legal problem on their hand.
But getting to the political point that David and Maggie were making, Donald Trump got 5.4 percent of the vote in DC in 2020. He is enormously unpopular there. He would have had a very unfavorable jury pool. In Florida, he won Florida in 2020. He's going to have a much more favorable jury pool politically, that can make a very big difference.
HABERMAN: That's a point that a bunch of lawyers had had to make close to him.
COOPER: I want to go back to DC and Kaitlan Collins -- Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Yes, and Anderson back with us now is our senior Justice Department correspondent, Evan Perez, with new information on security at the courthouse in Miami, Evan, which is where we expect that these charges happen. What do you know?
PEREZ: Well, that's right, Kaitlan.
We know that the Justice Department is scrambling to move resources, security resources, law enforcement resources ahead of the former president making his first appearance there in Miami on Tuesday.
Just to sort of back this up a little bit, the fact is that Jack Smith has run a very tight ship, very little has come out from the special counsel's office, walled off even from other parts of the Justice Department.
So it wasn't until after this indictment was handed out, it wasn't until after the former president was notified that the law enforcement folks were told, okay, now you have to get ready to deal with security situation, a potential security situation in Miami.
And so now we know that, for example, the Secret Service, they need at least a couple of days to make sure they do an assessment and to make sure they are safe to bring the former president to that courthouse in Miami.
So a number of resources are now being rushed in there, over the weekend, again in time ahead of this this Tuesday court appearance by the former president -- Kaitlan.
COLLINS: And Evan, that's what sticks out to me, is that we should remind people, Trump is the one who announced this news similar to the way he announced when the search warrant was executed in Mar-a-Lago, also when he said he was going to be indicted. [20:15:10]
We should remind people, Trump is the one who announced this news similar to the way he announced when the search warrant was executed at Mar-a-Lago, also when he said he was going to be indicted in that hush money case in New York. He publicly broadcast much of this information.
And now he is letting everyone know that this is happening, the specific time, the specific place. And so I imagine that has to do with a lot of the security as well, because of the question of whether or not his supporters will show up?
PEREZ: Absolutely, Kaitlan.
Look, I mean, everybody has learned from what happened on January , that the former president does have a hold on a particular set of his base. And, you know, nobody wants to make the mistake of not being ready for a situation, you know, should it entail -- nobody is saying, of course that there is going to be violence.
But if you're law enforcement, and you saw what happened on January 6, and you saw how unprepared everybody was for January 6th, and the fact that the former president, you know, he uses -- you can see some of the language he is using on his Truth Social posts, some of the language he is using, you know.
As we speak, he is posting a video about this event. Those are the things that law enforcement folks worry about, again, trying to make sure he gets in there safely, make sure that there is safety for of course, the prosecutors and the judges in that courthouse down there in Miami.
Look, for months, law enforcement was getting ready for a possible indictment in Washington. It's much easier to do here. You know, there's a lot more resources here and everybody knows exactly what to do.
What was going to be more complicated was an indictment in Miami, and so that is one reason why you see everybody is scrambling, even at this hour trying to make sure that the proper resources are down there ahead of this Tuesday court hearing by the former president.
COLLINS: Yes, we knew the Trump legal team was bracing for this, but they seem to be caught off guard even by this timing as of today.
COLLINS: Evan, I know you'll keep tracking this.
I want to go to CNN's Kara Scannell. She is actually live outside that courthouse in Miami that Evan was referencing there.
Kara, what does it look like right now? Did it seem quiet before the former president posted on Truth Social that he had, in fact, been told that he's been indicted here? KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kaitlan. I mean, it is very quiet here. There is just only really a handful of media that were still in place when Trump made that posting.
I mean, all day, it was pretty quiet. We did see some of the key prosecutors who were on the special counsel's team working on the documents case. And we saw that one of them going out to get lunch, we saw them going back into the cafeteria to get some snacks, some chips and cookies.
And then we also had heard at the end of the day after everyone had gone that there were a bunch of pizza boxes back in the grand jury room, but we weren't sure if the grand jury had met or even that they had voted.
But it has been a relatively tranquil scene here today. You know, of course, you remember back in New York after Trump was indicted on the state charges by the Manhattan district attorney's office, it was a similar thing.
The indictment came down on a Thursday, he was arraigned the following Tuesday. That gave everyone time to get into place.
So you can imagine this scene here will become quite busy, not only the media descending, but also potentially some Trump supporters, some members of the public.
You know, as Evan was just explaining, they will have to get a security parameter in place here. And you know, Trump being at Mar-a- Lago as you well know, I mean, they are used to having him, transporting him around, but this is certainly of a different magnitude and dimension, the first time a former president facing federal charges.
You know, we there was this run through in New York. We saw how that worked. What is unclear here is how they will handle it internally. Will they shut down the courthouse, like they essentially did in New York? Freezing the building, freezing the floors that the former president was going to be on and then creating a pretty rigorous system of who would be able to get into the courtroom to witness this, you know, because there are no cameras in court, and there are no cameras in federal court, so the public won't get a glimpse of this and it remains to be seen how they're going to figure out the logistics of having this arraignment take place here on Tuesday -- Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Remarkable to see a second indictment in just such a short period of time. Thank you, Kara.
More perspective now. Joining me is our senior political correspondent, Abby Phillip; our CNN senior legal affairs correspondent, Paul Reid; chief national correspondent, John King; and also conservative lawyer and "Washington Post" contributing columnist, George Conway who has long predicted that this moment would come to pass, but its historic.
GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER AND WASHINGTON POST CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST: It is absolutely.
COLLINS: I mean, we've never seen a former president face federal charges before.
CONWAY: Yes. it is absolutely historic. I mean, this is probably the most significant politically most significant, historically -- the most historical important criminal case since the Aaron Burr case at the beginning of the 19th century when he was tried for treason.
This is -- it is stunning to see. It is breathtaking to see, but it's not surprising at all. I mean, the fact of the matter is -- and Donald Trump is going to argue that he was mistreated and he has been singled out and he is being abused, but fact of the matter is, he has gotten the benefit of the doubt.
If you or any of us at this table had been a government official in the White House during the Trump administration and we took this volume of documents home and we jerked around the National Archives and Records Administration for a year-and-a-half plus, and then forced the government to get a search warrant, it wouldn't have taken a year- and-a-half for them to get that search warrant, they would have been knocking. The FBI would have been at our doors, any like within months.
And the fact of the matter is it when this search warrant came out, we saw the affidavit. We saw a redacted affidavit that the FBI used to get the search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago, and the amount of information in there was absolutely stunning at the time.
I mean, it was shocking at the time that they had such a powerful case already, simply by virtue of the fact that they found the stolen property in his office and at his home.
So the fact of the matter is, he could have been indicted months ago. And again, if it was one of us, he would have been indicted months ago. He has gotten special treatment in his favor, and this is not a criticism of the Justice Department, it's a statement of fact that the Justice Department has to be extra careful and extra cautious and make sure that it has all its ducks in a row before bringing charges against the former president and presidential candidate, but these charges could have been brought long ago.
And one other point on the venue, there have been these suggestions that that somehow this was a sudden change in venue. The fact of the matter is, we knew back in August that there was going to be a potential venue issue and people were discussing it -- legal nerds were discussing it, not in the cafes, not in coffee shops of America. But there was a legal issue.
Because so much of the illegal conduct that was described in the FBI affidavit took place at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida. And the constitution, the Sixth Amendment provides that a criminal defendant, here Donald Trump, the criminal defendant, is entitled to a jury in the district and the state in which he committed the crime. COLLINS: You mentioned the Justice Department. We haven't heard anything from them yet, Paula. Do you expect that we will? How does the special counsel's office handle this?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, reporting right now, Kaitlan, is that the we will not hear anything from Special Counsel Jack Smith or his office, and that is a deliberate choice.
They must have known when they offered the courtesy of informing him that he had been indicted, that is standard, that's what you would do with most defendants, you knew that this was very likely to wind up on social media, which is exactly what has happened.
But they're not going to offer any statements, any additional details or unseal any indictment tonight. And you know, again, that is their choice, but we have to look at how this worked out with past special counsels in terms of letting other people craft the narrative, not just releasing the evidence or the charges and the Justice Department and the FBI, they have been under siege, criticism about political bias from both sides of the aisle for the past seven or eight years since the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server.
One of the reasons we have a special counsel is because the attorney general is trying to protect the integrity, right, the public's view of the Justice Department. So tonight, the fact that the special counsel is not going to say anything, that we're getting most of the breaking news from the former president who has just been indicted, that is something that history will ultimately judge. It's unclear, though, if this is the correct decision.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR OF "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY": Although, I think we can probably say that, regardless of whether they said something or not, the accusations of bias would always be there, because this was the plan all along.
You know, Trump and his allies have been trying to sow the seeds of this doubt about whether this case was significant or not, and notably, you know, even the people who are running against him are sort of accepting this narrative that because he is a former president, and because he is running for president again, that that ought to subject him to some kind of other standard. And that is, I think, what will be tested here, once we actually know the details of it.
The significance of the reporting that you and the rest of the team reported about that tape in which he is talking about a specific document, we don't know whether that document is involved in this. We don't know whether that was all.
But even if it were that alone, I think it really opens the door to a really serious set of issues about national security, about Trump trying to utilize the documents in a way -- in any kind of way, frankly, and not just to peruse them, but to use them to prove a point about General Mark Milley, and those are really serious issues and ones that cannot really be spun once we know the details. COLLINS: That is national defense information.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have not heard one word publicly from the special counsel since he took this job, which if you're talking about the gravity of the case, investigating a former president, the gravity of the issues, classified documents, potentially national security secrets, you can understand that.
But if you study the lessons of the Mueller report, if you study the lessons of two impeachments, you also understand what Donald Trump is going to do and what he is doing it.
What he has been doing for weeks and weeks even before this moment, and he has put it on steroids tonight. He is telling his people, don't listen to this man. The FBI is corrupt. The deep state is corrupt.
They're after me again, trying to convince them, don't listen to them. Because Trump's smart. He is smart, he is cynical, but he's smart. Because when they lay it out, if you read the Mueller report, you know, did it prove collusion? No. Did it say a lot of really bad things about Donald Trump? Yes, it did.
But his people don't believe it, because he poisoned the well beforehand and said do not listen to anything these people say.
So I'm not a lawyer. Jack Smith's biggest job is going to be to prove his case in court. We are in Never Neverland. We have never had a former president of the united states who is an active candidate and the faraway frontrunner in the next election indicted on federal charges that are incredibly serious.
This is not shoplifting. This is not stealing a car. This is not running a bad business. This is taking the most secret -- top secret documents when he begrudgingly left the White House, mad that he had to leave after he tried to fight so that he wouldn't have to leave.
So the biggest challenge is in court, but the first words Jack Smith and his team do say first on paper when we see it, and then if they speak to this publicly, are going to be critical to determine whether or not Donald Trump's argument gets outside of his base.
If that's the only argument Donald Trump wins with his base, he may win the Republican nomination off it, but he is a former president, because the rest of America stopped listening to him. We'll see what happens.
COLLINS: Within hour, he was already fundraising off of this. I want to get back to Maggie Haberman.
Maggie, I understand you're learning new details about these charges. We know there's about seven of them, I believe. What are you learning?
HABERMAN: Kaitlan, we've been told through our reporting that there's seven counts -- none of these counts is the same. That one is a willful retention of the documents. One is a conspiracy to obstruct, which as Elie noted before, involves more than one person. We don't quite know what that means yet. And then another is false statements, but there are others that we're not aware of.
A lot is going to matter when this indictment is unsealed, when we get to look at it, when we get to see the criminal complaint, we will know much more, but you know, this tracks with everything that you and I both know about this investigation over the last however many months it has been, more than a year.
COLLINS: Yes, it has been over a year. But when it comes to these counts, even though the former president was bracing for this, he is in New Jersey right now. He's going to have to go to Miami as he has said himself on Truth Social on Tuesday for this.
What's your reporting on how his mindset is? I know, he has been making a lot of phone calls to Republicans, asking them to attack Jack Smith, to be out there defending him, more vociferously than they are now. But what is your sense of how he is viewing this?
HABERMAN: Defiantly, and I think that's not a surprise. That's what we've seen him do over and over again. He and his team have been preparing for this for a while. He has been telling people for many days that he expected that he was going to get indicted. And frankly, I think he's thought it's happened long before this meeting that his lawyers had with the DOJ on Monday.
But Kaitlan, as you and I both know, sometimes he reacts a certain way initially and then as the event sinks in or the facts sinks in, his behavior changes.
So I'm not quite sure what this is going to look like. We know he has two political events planned for Saturday. Those are going to be pretty significant to watch. And then obviously, whatever happens in Miami on Tuesday, outside of the courtroom will be significant, too. And does he do another press conference, as he did at Mar-a-Lago after he was indicted in Manhattan?
COLLINS: Yes, he is supposed to be in Georgia at the state's Republican convention over the weekend. We'll see what that looks like.
Maggie, thank you.
I want to go to CNN's Kristen Holmes now.
Kristen, we are waiting to see more about what exactly the charges look like. What are you learning about when they could be unsealed?
HOLMES: So right now, I am told by members of the Trump team that they do believe there is one conspiracy charge, that it is seven charges altogether, but they do not expect all the charges to be unsealed tonight.
They are waiting to understand what exactly those charges were. Now, obviously, Maggie has a source that is telling her some of these charges. The Trump people that I am speaking to do not know what these charges are, other than this potential conspiracy charge, which is one of the seven charges that they believe that he has been charged with, or they've been told that he has been charged with.
So that is something that they are watching closely right now. And as Maggie said, they have been preparing for this for many days. Trump has been saying that he believes that he is going to be indicted and I have talked to at least half a dozen people who have spoken to him in the last three days who say that he is not agitated, that he has actually been remarkably calm, a very different demeanor than what they saw with that Manhattan indictment.
Now, this could likely be because he believed that he was going to be indicted multiple times during this campaign season. The other one being in Georgia, during that probe, he believes he will be indicted there.
But right now, his team is trying to figure out what exactly this is, and you mentioned those two campaign events on Saturday. There is no indication that that will be canceled. He is still scheduled to appear in Georgia and North Carolina.
They believe this could happen. They said that this was likely going to happen and they were still going to do those campaign events. So that is something to watch.
The other thing is we talked about that speaking. Trump and his team right now are weighing whether or not he wants to actually give remarks after his trip there, after his court appearance on Tuesday.
So right now, this is all in the works. His team is figuring this out. Again, even though they suspected this, they anticipated this, they are just now trying to work out the details as they learn about these charges in real time -- Kaitlan.
COLLINS: All right, Kristen Holmes, thank you.
Back with my panel now. Paula, I mean, one of the things that stuck out to me today as we were reporting out what Trump was doing at Bedminster, is that one of the aids, who is at the center of this Walt Nauta was with him --
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
COLLINS: -- in Bedminster. And of course, what Kristen was talking about there, what Tuesday's going to look like. It also raises the question about what the legal team will look like on Tuesday. Who goes in with him for this appearance?
REID: That's a great question because off the top of my head, I believe only one of his attorneys is barred in Florida.
COLLINS: Chris Kise.
REID: Exactly. And I think --
COLLINS: And Lindsey Halligan.
REID: Yes. And so depending on how, you know, which foreign the legal team is taking this week, one or two people barred in Florida, but they will likely be looking and I know some folks who have even volunteered to potentially be on the case down there thinking it would be interesting ones that, hey, it could even be an adventure to join this case.
They said, you have no idea. But yes, they will absolutely likely need to bring in additional counsel in Florida, people with a kind of expertise in this matter who are barred down there, who know the judges. So it'll be interesting to see because as we know, he has had a little bit of difficulty retaining lawyers.
There are a lot of law firms who won't take him on. They're worried their bills won't get paid in terms of reputational damage. But there are some really interesting constitutional questions here. But he will absolutely have to recruit likely one or two more lawyers because I don't think he has the right team to bring this to Florida.
GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: And not only he had --
REID: I knew you're going to jump in.
CONWAY: -- has had difficult -- you know, I was (INAUDIBLE) --
REID: I knew you're going to do it.
CONWAY: Not only has he had difficulty obtaining and retaining lawyers, the lawyers that he has are mostly witnesses against him now.
CONWAY: So they can't, they can't -- you know, there's a lawyer advocacy rule that you cannot be an advocate and a witness in the same trial.
REID: You make a great point.
CONWAY: So these guys are conflicted out.
REID: Absolutely. Multiple lawyers have been witnesses in this case alone.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: It's a great legal point and it's also a very important political point because Trump is doing it again. We have all lived this. He's saying it's the same people who are after me. It's a witch hunt. It's Biden, it's Garland, it's George Soros, it's anybody else.
Just like in the January 6th hearings, I think it's very critically important that we in our business follow the facts and the information, the witnesses before the grand jury who have done this include Trump's lawyers, include senior officials in the Trump White House, junior officials in the Trump White House, his staff at Mar-a- Lago.
These are people who work for Donald Trump, who get checks from Donald Trump, who have been loyal to Donald Trump, who have eyes on Donald Trump. Who Donald Trump asked to move documents, so on and so forth.
This is the -- the witnesses before this grand jury are Donald Trump's people. He is saying this --
COLLINS: And Donald Trump himself in the audio tape --
COLLINS: He is the one on the audio tape talking about it.
KING: And Donald Trump's standing as close to you as I am now saying three times in 30 seconds, I took the documents.
CONWAY: And not only that.
KING: So this -- it's just -- he constantly says that he's a victim and that he's under attack. He's innocent to proven guilty. He has every right to make his case in court, and he has every right to get the best lawyers. But what he is saying publicly about what he knew about the classification rules, who is behind this or simply lies.
CONWAY: I mean, he -- his people are all going to put him in jail. And the other thing is, what we know about this case has come as the result of Donald Trump. That affidavit was unsealed because Donald Trump asked for it to be unsealed.
REID: We've also did some really good reporting so I think --
CONWAY: But the reporting -- well, where's the reporting coming from? The reporting isn't coming from Jack Smith. The reporting is coming into that -- that in fact that this investigation has been going on so long, that you have all these witnesses and all these lawyers, all these witnesses who know what's going on in the investigation, and after a certain point it pours out into the public domain as it has over the last couple weeks.
COLLINS: And so this has just obviously legal significance. We'll wait to see what do the bail arrangements look like, what does everything look like? But this also just injected this into the 2024 race. I mean, we had three candidates announce that they're running against Donald Trump this week, but now this is about to be the story.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, look, short term and long term, we always have to keep in that in mind when it comes to Donald Trump. I think in the near term, you know, Trump and his legal troubles, of which there are many, have often been used as both a sword and a shield for him.
He uses the fact that he's a candidate in order to try to make a case that he's being treated unfairly and that he also uses the fact that he's been charged in cases indicted or under investigation to raise money, to rally support.
But in the long term, this is going to be a negative thing. This is a bad moment for the country, of course, but certainly for Donald Trump. And as you guys were talking about the attorneys, I mean, it just strikes me that the fact that, you know, the crime fraud exception was found to be -- to meet that bar.
And then on top of that, I don't know that DOJ would move a case to a less optimal venue if they didn't think that they had a very strong case. So it really just raises the Trump team, they've been saying, well, you guys did all of these things because your case is so weak. I don't think that that's really what this evidence shows.
COLLINS: Yes. And instead they can avoid them trying to move the venue later on once this is already --
COLLINS: -- had the ball rolling. Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: Kaitlan, thanks.
Joining our panel now, CNN Political Commentators Van Jones and Alice Stewart from the left and the right respectfully. Also former White House -- Whitewater Independent Counsel Robert Ray, who served as counsel to the former president during the first Trump impeachment.
Before we go to conversation, I want to show you a clip taken from a longer post from the former president, just posted on Truth Social.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's called Election interference. They're trying to destroy a reputation so they can win an election. That's just as bad as doing any of the other things that have been done over the last number of years. I'm an innocent man, I did nothing wrong. I'm innocent and we will prove that very, very soundly and hopefully very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I want to talk more about the possible charges. Elie Honig, Maggie Haberman was reporting conspiracy to obstruct false statements, willful retention or defense information.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So a few really important indicators in Maggie's reporting that she just gave us on air. First of all, Maggie reported that there is a document retention charge, and that tells us that this is not all obstruction. There had been some question, is this only going to be an obstruction case? No.
According to Maggie's reporting, there's a document retention charge or charges, and separately, as Maggie just reported, there's an obstruction angle. So it's not all about obstruction, it's documents and obstruction.
Maggie also reported, she just told us that none of the charges are the same. You can have in a federal indictment, multiple counts of the same crime. Four counts of obstruction, et cetera. This tells us that there are, again, according to Maggie's reporting, seven different counts. We know one of them is conspiracy from prior reporting.
And then the last thing that Maggie tells us is that there's an obstruction count and a false statements count, meaning somebody in Trump's camp or Donald Trump himself knew about, or made or authorized the false statement, presumably either to archives or the DOJ. So we're getting indicators from Maggie and Paula's reporting.
COOPER: Robert Ray, you were former Whitewater Independent Counsel. What do you make of what we've heard thus far?
ROBERT RAY, TRUMP COUNSEL IN FIRST IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: I think the venue was probably one that the Department of Justice felt that they were stuck with because I think there are charges contained in this indictment that could only have been brought in the Southern District of Florida. So I think that's sort of the first significant thing.
COOPER: What would those -- what would that be?
RAY: Probably the obstruction things that happened in Mar-a-Lago that only could have, have happened in Mar-a-Lago. That they are charging those things that happened in Mar-a-Lago. And if that's the gravamen of a particular charge, that would be the only place that charge could be brought.
And then I think the -- related to that is because it is in the southern district of Florida and although there's a court appearance scheduled in Miami, I think for administrative reasons you would expect this case if it in is centered around Mar-a-Lago to be one that would draw from a Palm Beach County jury pool and a judge assigned to that particular vicinage.
COOPER: Why is that?
RAY: Because again, that's where the alleged crime is alleged to have taken place and you would expect therefore to -- for the case -- under the Constitution, the case is broad and the district nearest to where the charge is located and filed and where the facts are. So the defendant has a right to a jury pool from that location, and that location happens to be Palm Beach County.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well --
COOPER: The -- go ahead.
STEWART: No, I think the jurisdiction as you say is critical to this, the jury pool is critical. The charges are critical, and as Maggie has reported seven charges, including, you know, conspiracy to obstruct, obstruction of justice, false statements. This is not just one charge of alleged witch hunt by prosecutors. This is quite serious.
But here's the thing. We have a jury of law that is going after him, which is quite serious. But Donald Trump is trying to make his case, whether it's untruth, social, or with his people. I have a friend that met with him yesterday in Bedminster. He is not worried about this whatsoever. He is relaxed, he is resolute. He is telling his people he has done nothing wrong. He is innocent.
This is a witch hunt. And here's the thing, there's going to be two competing factions here. There is the court of law, which is quite serious and is going to come down heavy and hard on Donald Trump in the next few days. And then what Donald Trump thinks he's going to get away with the court of public opinion and the political spectrum and his base and his supporters are going to support him.
Whatever he says, they're going to believe him and they are doubling down. And he will be more embolden with his base on this. But these are serious charges. And when this comes down, the heavy arm of the law is going to be swift and firm on Donald Trump.
COOPER: Yes. Robert, just in terms of the --
RAY: It's not going to be so swift. I mean, that's a big question.
COOPER: Through the historic nature of this.
COOPER: What do you -- I mean, how do you see this?
RAY: Look, I will believe it when I see it, but I find it hard to imagine how there is going to be a trial of these charges, which is what would one would ordinarily expect sometime next year, which happens to be 2024 and an election cycle.
The charges are serious enough and the evidence seems to be voluminous enough that I wouldn't think this would be a two or three-day trial. This is likely to be a two or three week or longer trial, and I cannot imagine under the Constitution where the defendant is required and has the obligation to be present and has a right to be present, that he's going to take and be afforded, two to three weeks to sit in a courtroom trying this case in 2024 on top of which the Manhattan DA's office's case is another probably two or three-week trial.
I just don't see how we are going to have two trials next to --
COOPER: I want to start with the lawyer right now. Do you agree with that?
HONIG: I do agree with that analysis actually. You have to think about this practically, OK? We have a trial date in the Manhattan case, late March, March 25th. That's going to take you into April. You have to build in some time to prep for each case.
No way that I can see that this federal case gets tried before that. You'd have to start in January or February. That's not going to be enough time. Trump is going to fight this. He's going to bring motions. There's going to be voluminous discovery.
So now we're saying, OK, if the Manhattan DA case holds March into April, you can't just have back to back trials. As Robert said, you have a constitutional right to prepare your defense, to participate in your defense, so you have to build in even more time.
Now, we're aware. A year from now, the summer of 2024, when we're right upon conventions, when we're months away from an actual presidential election, I don't think a judge is going to do that. If I'm a prosecutor, I don't want to try this case consistent with DOJ policy, but also as a strategic matter in let's say, August, September 2024.
AXELROD: Can I just ask a question? What if Donald Trump were elected president, then what happens?
RAY: Well, this has gone.
RAY: Because, first of all, he would control the Justice Department. So if you're talking about this case, he controls the Justice Department. Just -- he just dismisses the -- if it's still pending, he dismisses the case. It's gone.
COOPER: Couldn't he pardon himself, or?
RAY: Well, there's a debate about that. But he -- if it's a pending case, he just basically withdraws the authority of the United States behind the prosecution. And he has the absolute right to do that.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The conversation we just heard is a conversation that lawyers had with Donald Trump months ago.
RAY: I'm sure that's right.
JONES: This explains why he threw his hat in the ring. This explains the whole deal. He has gamed this thing out and he thinks he's going to get away with it. What I would say to everybody who's watching this, nobody has seen this indictment. We don't know what's in it.
Republicans are jumping out there saying, this is all about, you know, Joe Biden. Joe Biden has nothing to do with this as a special prosecutor. This is not a porn star thing. This isn't robbing the piggy bank of your charity. This is a federal government talking about possible espionage and a presidential candidate that has gamed this thing out to get away with it by running for office.
If that's what's happening here, we should take this very, very seriously.
URBAN: No, and I think people do, people around this table doing a lot of people in America do. But Alice and myself and others on the Republican side, been talking to our friends and the rider died Trumpers, right? They want to abolish the FBI. They don't trust the FBI, they don't trust any of this stuff in.
This is deep state coming after the president. So this doesn't -- it is not going to matter. He's going to have a big rally on Saturday. He's going to have a big rally in Georgia, North Carolina. I promise, when he shows up on Tuesday, it'll look like a Trump rally outside that Miami Day.
Do you remember the Brooks Brothers riot in 2000? That'll look like a Boy Scout camp compared to what's going to happen (INAUDIBLE).
JONES: And this is to me, when constitutional conservatives need to stand up. At a certain point, people have to be cleared when -- we have a system of laws. There's a reason to special prosecutor. This was not the normal -- listen, if it's the normal thing, if it was handled in an inappropriate way, they took a very long time to do this, and I don't understand how you can be a patriot.
And then at the same time, stand by why people are running into the ground, law enforcement running into ground, our system lost.
AXELROD: But Van, Donald Trump's whole political project has been to disqualify rules, laws, norms and institutions to disqualify the media, to disqualify the FBI, to disqualify the Justice Department for the express purpose of being able to make the case when these things come that this is a corrupt system. And the question is, how much take up will they have? I suspect among his base that's going to happen.
Minutes -- a sec, you know, minutes I guess after this indictment was announced, Jim Jordan was already tweeting, this is a sad day for America. And we'll see what happens tomorrow. But I expect to see a lot of House Republicans sort of galvanized here and attacking the Justice Department.
STEWART: And you -- like, look, this is potential espionage here. This is absolutely serious. But we can all remember back before January 6th, Steve Bannon telling the world, hell will break out on January 6th. I'm not convinced that the exact same thing is not going to happen when all of this becomes public and all of those people that were at the Capitol on January 6th will have hell breaking loose, whether it is in South Florida or Washington, D.C. 10 times more.
RAY: I know it may not be sufficient for many, but you know, understand that the former president also has limits. The public doesn't seem to recognize that, but he will obey process. He will appear at 3:00 p.m. in a Miami courthouse to answer the federal charges next week.
He's not ignoring the process. He didn't ignore the process before the Manhattan, DA's office. He has the right to dispute the merits of a prosecution, which he's fully going to do. Is he going to take advantage of the political process? You bet. And you would expect him to do so.
I don't think the country is going to fall to pieces as a result of the fact that he's going to contest these charges. And it's also a reality that he is the leading presidential candidate on the Republican side. He's likely to be the nominee. And he's likely to run for president in an environment where his poll numbers far surpass everybody.
So in that context, I think we need to also sort of afford their -- a bit of a timeout to say how are we as a country going to get through this in 2024? OK, in the best interest of the country. I'm not sure how we're going to do that, but I think we all should be able, on both sides of this, to try to sort that out, talk about it and figure it out.
I don't know the answer to that question, but it raises some serious questions and I think we all need to think about that for the future --
AXELROD: One of the interests --
URBAN: By the way, the only --
RAY: -- otherwise --
URBAN: -- man here who did not indict a president who looked out for the best interest of the countries anyway.
RAY: And we're going to rule the day. If we don't get this right, we're going to rule the day that we ever traveled down this path. That's all I'm asking people to think about.
AXELROD: I hear you. You know, one of the interesting things though is as the president tries the case outside the courtroom, he's already making arguments that his lawyers won't make inside the courtroom. Like what his ability to declassify documents were, you know, by fiat.
AXELROD: And so, that's going to --
RAY: But David, you know, that's a factor because I'm sure the discussion on Monday by his lawyers with the Justice Department was something along the lines. Elie will tell you this. You understand Justice Department prosecutors, that you're going to have to prove that Donald Trump did not have inherent authority to declassify material and that he was bound, notwithstanding the fact that he's the commander in chief, to follow the procedure and that he knew that, and that by failing to follow that procedure, he violated the Espionage Act. Let me tell you something. I think there's a lot of questions in just that little discussion there that raises some questions about whether or not the President, as the commander in chief has some inherent authority that Congress cannot disturb relative to classified information. I think it's an open question and the Justice Department is not going to have to stand behind the position as an absolute that the -- that a president doesn't have that authority there.
COOPER: Yes, but --
HONIG: There will be for sure, as David says, a disconnect between what we hear Donald Trump saying publicly, what we see him saying on Truth Social and what his lawyers are saying in the courtroom. However, know that those statements that Donald Trump is making outside the courtroom can be used against him in the courtroom --
RAY: And they can catch up to you. Absolutely, right.
HONIG: And he's already made statements including at our town hall to Kaitlan, that I assure you will be used against him.
JONES: Yes, look, I mean, part of what I think we should deal with, and we want to deal with the political implications is, why? Why did Trump take the documents? Why? Why did he keep them? Why? Why is he lying about it? Why?
There is a potential serious national security issue here. And that is something that he's trying desperately to make sure that we don't talk about.
RAY: Well, we don't know what that's going to be, and that may well come out at trial.
JONES: But that's what -- again, all the people who are jumping on the bandwagon saying, this is all deep state, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You don't know what's coming. You don't know what this Department of Justice has found and discovered. There is no reason in the world to think that a special prosecutor would risk his career and all the things that we're talking about for nothing.
There is something here, something is going on. This president took these documents and he lied about them and he hid them and we need to find out why.
RAY: My first reaction to hearing that this was coming --
RAY: Van is right. OK. That's a legitimate point. And the first thing that my head went around, OK, there's seven counts and it's an indictment is, OK, was there harm to the United States?
As an American, I would like to know the answer. That's a relevant question, not only for the criminal justice process, which is what you're suggesting.
RAY: It's also a relevant question in the best interest of the country and the state of the republic. Yes, he's -- you're right about that. You're right about that. And -- but I'm not going to speculate. I don't know, but it's the first question in my mind when I saw this, OK, what are we doing here?
Well, if we're about something that's serious and there was harm to the country, that's one thing. If it's all this rest of this atmospheric, the bottom line is if it's a documents case --
RAY: -- the president of the United States has all of that information in his head, what are you going to do? Take it out of his head. I mean, really, if that's all this is about is a bunch of misplaced documents, that's not really a reason to bring a prosecution. There is a reason to bring a prosecution if it does involve harm to the United States.
AXELROD: Accepting everything you say, Van, I would just say to you that 60 courts throughout the allegations that the last election was fraudulent and yet, two-thirds of Republican voters still believe that the last election was illegitimate. So you can't underestimate the power of this man to command his base. And I think he's going to try and invoke all of it to navigate his way through this legal thicket he's in.
COOPER: I want to go back to Kaitlan in Washington. Kaitlan?
COLLINS: Yes, Anderson. Two new guests have joined us on our panel here. CNN Anchor and former Federal Prosecutor Laura Coates. And Tim Parlatore, a former attorney for former President Trump. Tim, you were his attorney not that long ago.
TIMOTHY PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Yes.
COLLINS: You said, also not that long ago, you didn't think he was going to be indicted in this case, and now he has been. What do you think changed?
PARLATORE: Well, I never thought that there should be an indictment. You know, obviously, there's always a possibility of it, and I'm very interested to see, you know, what's in it, you know, to see what the theory is. You know, this is the kind of thing where, you know, obviously, they've been investigating for a long time. They have, you know, a lot of evidence that they could show to a jury, but then there's the other side of it.
And so I'm really curious to see how it goes. I'm also curious to see how a lot of the more recent revelations of prosecutorial misconduct play into it. You know, when they were talking about how this can be used to rile up the base, unfortunately, the prosecutors assigned to this team have given him a lot of red meat on that point.
COLLINS: Well, we've seen those allegations. We haven't heard a lot of substance from the Trump team. I should note on that. We'll have a Trump attorney join us in a little bit, so we'll ask him about that. But when it comes to what Maggie Haberman is reporting that some of these charges are conspiracy to obstruct, willful retention of documents, false statements, what do you make of those if those are indeed the charges when it gets unsealed?
PARLATORE: You know, ultimately this comes down to -- it's a document retention case and an allegation of an obstruction. And so those two things, you know, prosecutors will take that and they'll put it in multiple different ways. You'll have, you know, conspiracy to obstruct, obstruct. Conspiracy to retain documents, you know, retention of documents.
And then they can split things up, you know, perhaps, you know, different counts for the documents that are in the storage room versus in the office, things like that. So, you know, the number of counts itself doesn't necessarily mean as much as what is the substance of those counts. Like, what is the range of conduct that is alleged?
COLLINS: If it's conspiracy, do you expect that other people either have been indicted or will be indicted?
PARLATORE: That'll be interesting to see. You know, we've only really considered up until now that there are certain individuals, you know, the employees who could be part of an obstruction, count. But as far as a larger document retention, co-defendants, that's not something that I've seen yet but certainly something I'd be interested to say.
COLLINS: You, since leaving the legal team -- and I want to hear what Laura has to ask you of this as well -- have criticized who the current legal team is. Do you think the current legal team that he has right now, is prepared to handle this documents investigation out of Florida?
PARLATORE: So when you say the current legal team, John Rowley, Jim Trusty, Lindsey Halligan, I have not criticized them. I have nothing, you know, to criticize them about. And I do think that they are capable of handling this.
You know, Jim and John are both very experienced attorneys. They both spent a lot of years at DOJ. So I do think that they'd be capable of handling this, yes.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I want to be clear, but when we're talking about these as document retentions, that no one's being dismissive of the gravity that's involved.
COATES: When I hear that phrase, document retention or you heard from the other panel about this being something relegated to a minor thing. These are current laws on the books involving the Presidential Records Act, involving congressional legislative initiatives to say we as a society, do not want documents that are classified or of national security interests or otherwise, or defense information to be out and about retained, released, disclosed in some way.
And so when you're talking about the document retention aspect of it, do you think that people see it as minimized based on the fact that these are documents and the fact that the information himself, yes, it's in Trump's head. But if you disclose the information, there is validity and gravitas about what that means for our national security and our way of legislative life, don't you think?
PARLATORE: No, absolutely. It's not to minimize, you know, by calling it document retention, it's, you know, it's really going to come down to what's in those documents. And, you know, classification is not something that's part of the elements here. It's whether it constitutes national defense information.
Meaning that the contents of these documents, if disclosed, will be damaging to the national security of the United States are evade to the enemy. And so, really, it is definitely going to come down to which documents are we talking about, what are the severity of these? And, you know, simply being classified is not going to be enough.
You know, for example, one potential document here is daily schedules. You know, the one saying, tomorrow we're going to fly to Afghanistan to have Thanksgiving dinner with the troops. That was highly classified at the time because you don't want the Taliban to know that the biggest juiciest target in the world is about to fly over.
But as soon as he walks into the dining hall and there's all the cameras there, it's no longer classified. And so, I believe one of the documents, you know, potentially at play here would be that schedule. And so if that's what we're talking about is a lot of those types of documents, then it does become a much less severe case.
COATES: I would be surprised, as I'm sure you would be, to have the special counsel emphasize and focus on something of, as you're talking about, relative minor consequence, but really in the long run, lawyer to lawyer thinking about this. The fact that the information is no longer lawfully in the lawful possession of a person who's no longer the president.
That carries a great deal of weight, whether we want to discuss it. I don't know what's on the documents, nor do you fully about those things. But I know that there has been a lot of talking points that have been raised about what Jack Smith may be looking at in this, in the actual substance of the documents. But the fact that they longer belong to him, that is significant in and of itself, and his refusal to return them, right?
PARLATORE: The issue -- and, by the way, I separate out, you know, when we talk about the refusal to return them, I kind of separate out the first year where they're talking with NARA year and a half versus when the subpoena gets involved because those are kind of two different standards.
Under the Presidential Records Act, a president is supposed to take the next two years after they leave office to go through all these documents and figure out what's personal, what's presidential. And one of the issues that we started to get into when we looked at how did these documents even get out of the White House? How'd they get down there to begin with? Which is a legitimate question.
And the reason that we were able to discern is upon the change of administration, the National Archives ordinarily rents a facility in the town where the president's moving to, and then they move all the boxes from the White House directly to that facility where they remain under National Archives control.
They're locked, they're secured. There's a guard there. They have a skiff in the building so that if there's any classified documents, they put them in the skiff. And for whatever reason, NARA chose not to do that with Donald Trump.
COLLINS: I should note -- I want to note National Archives has pushed back on that. We'll get back to this discussion because I also have more questions for you on the audio tape --
COLLINS: -- at the center of this that you've said you've listened to do. Everyone standby because we do have much more ahead on this historic night, including one of the former president's current attorneys that Tim just referenced there. Jim Trusty is going to join us here. It'll be his first interview since the news of the indictment of his client, the former president broke.