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Donald Trump Charged With 7 Counts In Docs Case; Former President Says He Has Been Summoned To Appear In Miami Tuesday. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired June 08, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Tonight, a former president is facing federal charges for the first time in U.S. history. As former President Trump announced earlier tonight that he has been indicted when it comes to the Special Counsel Jack Smith's documents investigation. CNN's Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is following all of this closely. All of this breaking news. Evan, I know so far, we have not heard from the Justice Department. We have heard from the former president not only in several posts, but also in a video. What else are you learning about these charges?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, I'm astonished really that the Justice Department really didn't seem to learn anything from last August when the FBI conducted a search of Mar-a-Lago. And they said nothing for three days, allowing the former president to sort of set the narrative to, frankly, spin falsehoods about what happened during the surge calling the FBI thugs, making all kinds of claims about what occurred at Mar-a-Lago that day.
It wasn't until threats were being made against FBI agents that the Attorney General was finally persuaded by people around him to finally go out and say something. And so, one of the things that I know, certainly was being discussed at the Justice Department in recent weeks was, if Jack Smith brought an indictment, how to handle this in order to avoid a repeat of what happened last August. And so, I'm kind of astonished, right, frankly, that we're sitting here, they've notified the former president knowing that he's going to go public and set the narrative about exactly what this is.
And we have no facts from the Justice Department to say what is true and what isn't. We don't know whether Jack Smith is going to speak tomorrow. We don't know whether the Attorney General, anyone is going to speak before Tuesday's court appearance for the former president. And it's one reason why I look, I respect Mr. Parlatore.
But we don't know -- we have no way of knowing whether what he's saying about the documents about whether those schedules, whether that's included in these charges. And so that's one of the things that I think -- again, I find myself just being like, truly astonished that the Justice Department is handling it this way, because they know, the person they're dealing with, the former president is unlike any other defendant.
COLLINS: Yes --
PEREZ: In the history of the United States.
COLLINS: It allows him to control the narrative. And obviously, the Justice Department may be doing that for their investigative purposes and not wanting to ruin their case, but it is allowing him, it does have a very odd similarity to what we saw happen back in August, when we saw some reporting --
PEREZ: And the Mueller investigation, right, the end of the Mueller investigation --
COLLINS: And the Mueller investigation as well.
PEREZ: Right. Exactly.
COLLINS: Yes. So, what do you expect if they don't say anything? If we hear nothing from Jack Smith and his team? I know a lot of them were in Miami today, our reporters outside that courthouse, saw them, what is -- is there a chance we don't hear from them until Tuesday, when the former president shows up there as he has let everyone know, the world know that he'll be there at 3 PM.
PEREZ: Well, the Attorney General Merrick Garland really has -- he really has this strict rule about we speak through our court documents. So, at some point perhaps tomorrow morning, we might see the prosecutors go to the judge and ask him -- ask the judge to unseal the indictment so that we can -- the public can read this, because, again, this is a matter of great public interest. Of course, we've never had a former president indicted before.
The fact that they've notified him about his indictment, and they've told him when to show up in court, and yet they have not told the public what exactly are the facts of this indictment? What the former president is accused of, it's incredible to believe that they would not, at least try to do that tomorrow, and certainly not wait till Tuesday.
COLLINS: And what's the sense of what Tuesday actually looks like then if once former president shows up, he has his legal team with him, which I should note, I heard earlier today that he's in New Jersey right now. He didn't have a lot of his attorneys with him, maybe none of them. I was told they were still spread out all over the place. It's not clear that they knew this indictment was going to happen as we believe it did today. But what would Tuesday look like since it's not Washington, DC where this is happening? It's Florida.
PEREZ: It is not. Right, exactly. And I think that's one of the concerns, the security folks, the law enforcement folks, Kaitlan, were not told in advance. They knew that Jack Smith obviously, was holding this very tight, and they were not going to be told until after the former president was notified. And so, at this hour, we know that the Secret Service is trying to get its resources together. They're going to have a meeting with the former president's team to arrange for how he gets down to Florida. How he gets down to that courthouse.
The U.S. Marshals of course are in-charge of securing that building, securing the judges, the FBI is involved in the overall security situation, all of that work is now ongoing. None of that stuff was done ahead of time, because, again, there was the concern of the information leaking. And so what we know is that on Tuesday, we expect there to be a pretty robust security cordon around that federal court down in downtown Miami.
We expect that the former president will be brought in, there's a secure way to bring him into that building. And then he'll be read -- he'll learn the charges. It's possible we may see them unseal before then. But again, that's -- all of that is now being worked out by Justice Department, security officials, the FBI, the Marshals and the Secret Service to make sure and the Miami Dade police department to make sure that the former president can get in there safely, securely, the judges everybody in that court can be protected ahead of time.
COLLINS: Yes, we saw what that looks like when he was indicted in New York, Evan Perez, thank you. I also want to go to Bedminster now where the former president is. He is not in Florida, where we were just talking about that case is going to look like on Tuesday, Alayna Treene. Alayna, what are you hearing from those around the former president about his reaction to being indicted?
ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Right, well, Kaitlan, I talked to some of Trump's advisors and people who are with him tonight and they said that the president and his team are very jacked up right now and that they're feeling emboldened by the indictment. They're also saying that he maintains to keep the same line that he's been saying now for the past several days that he thinks that this is a political witch hunt, that he's done nothing wrong, and that all of these investigations are very political.
Now, even though Donald Trump's team is saying they think that he's emboldened by this, they're feeling ready to fight back. We do know that some of his other advisors do think that they're -- they have some reservations about this. And they do worry about what a federal indictment could mean for Donald Trump in the long-term. And a lot of them are wondering how this could politically affect him.
They know that he saw a boost in the polls and some, favorability, from his base after the indictment by the Manhattan district attorney earlier this year, they're thinking that that's going to happen again, they're feeling good about a lot of the allies from people on Capitol Hill and Republicans on Twitter, defending him and pushing back against this indictment.
But again, I do think there's a good portion of his team as well, that is worried about what this indictment could mean. And I know you know, this, Kaitlan, as we've been covering this, Donald Trump's moods do change. I mean, this is how he's feeling right now. But that doesn't mean that as this news sinks in, and in the coming days, that he may start to get a little bit more concerned about this. COLLINS: Yes. Alayna, thank you, as he is making history to become the first former president to face federal charges. Anderson, back to you in New York.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Kaitlan, thanks very much. Joining us now someone who's witnessed more than a little history, author and legendary investigative journalist Carl Bernstein, also his Watergate counterparts, CNN contributor, and former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean.
Carl, what do you make of what we have heard so far?
CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR, That this is a very serious matter that the Attorney General of the United States has let go forward. Merrick Garland is a very careful man. And I think that we're going to see, once we see the indictment, what this is about, and if it is not a great narrative, that tells something about Donald Trump and his recklessness, which this case is partly about playing fast and loose with national security. If that is not demonstrated very quickly, then this can work to the president, former president's advantage.
But I think we need to presume that Jack Smith has got his ducks in a row, this is going to be a very long process. And more than that, we need to see this in the context of who Donald Trump is. That once again, there's going to be a story told here, we already know from Maggie Haberman's reporting and others, that this is about Donald Trump flouting the law, thinking he's above the law. It's about what Bob Woodward and I have written about talked about on this air for seven years now and Donald Trump.
And so when the story is told, then we are going to have legal analysis and gradually we're going to also find out what do members, Republican members of the Senate of the United States who are predisposed to not Republican members who are predisposed to not liking Trump and holding him in contempt, what are they going to think about this if it is a solid case, and we know how members of the House might react to this.
BERNSTEIN: And how the people we've been talking about his followers are going to react. But how is the established Republican Party, are they going to go along with something that is demonstrated in this indictment that may be a terrible, terrible story and we'll find out
COOPER: Yes, Carl, I want to bring in John Dean. John, I mean the Maggie Haberman's reporting conspiracy to obstruct false statements willful retention of defense information, that the seven counts are each is different. How serious is this, you think for the former president, and I'm wondering, what do you think about the Justice Department, at this point, not filling in any of the question marks about what actually has been charged and allowing it all to be announced by the former president. JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson, you took that right out of my head. That's my concern for the last hour, because special counsel regularly announce indictments. John Durham did, had several indictments. So, I don't get it, that they're letting Trump really frame the whole -- all the issues and explain what's going on, and lay these out, piecemeal where we -- what an hour plus now into this thing. We really have no idea other than what's leaked is in this indictment.
I think Maggie's got good sources. So, hopefully she's correct. And that would cover pretty much the entire waterfront of what we know has been investigated. But as I say the -- your first question is the one that is most troubling, that justice isn't really running the show here and putting out what they've done and why they've done it.
COOPER: John Dean, Carl Bernstein. I appreciate it. Carl Bernstein just mentioned congressional reaction for that. I want to go to CNN's Manu Raju, who is on Capitol Hill. Manu, what are you hearing there?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, right now we have -- it's almost a repeat of what happened earlier this year when Donald Trump became the first president, he was indicted on local -- on New York -- in the New York case involving those hush money payments. Instantly in that situation, Trump's staunchest allies rush to his defense. We're seeing this right now, in the aftermath of news of Trump being the first president ever indicted on federal charges, his staunchest supporters coming out on Twitter issuing statement- after-statement attacking the Justice Department saying that Joe Biden is getting a pass for the allegations against him.
But the Justice Department is being weaponized against Donald Trump. We're seeing that from one member after another. We have not though heard from some of the top members of Congress, including the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, who I am told is expected to comment tonight. He did also comment against the New York prosecution as well and Republicans in the House, went after that prosecutor. It's uncertain how the Republicans plan to go after the case here as well.
But some of them have called for defunding the FBI and dismantling the FBI. That's what the words coming from some of Trump's closest supporters such as Andy Biggs, a congressman from Arizona, someone who sits on the House Judiciary Committee. But there has also been some notable silence too, Anderson, from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, someone who has not been a fan of Donald Trump, someone who is publicly neutral in this race and someone who has criticized Donald Trump for his role in the aftermath of January 6th.
McConnell has not commented yet. It's unclear if he will. Also the number two Senator Republican John Thune, silence from him as well. Thune has supported his -- one of his rivals in the race, Tim Scott, and we're seeing this kind of down the line, a number of Republicans on the Senate sides staying quiet on this right now. And they have the liberty of doing that, Anderson, because right now, Congress has gone until next week, both in the House and the Senate side. So, only if members want to respond, they will. They're not going to be approached in the hallways because they're all gone from the Capitol right now. But we do expect the Speaker of the House to issue a statement sometime soon, likely in defense of the president. And on the Democratic side, the leadership too quiet. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not yet weighed in, neither is the House Democratic Leader, Hakeem Jeffries, as some Democrats have pushed back on the Republican attacks and crowed about the charges.
COOPER: It is fascinating, Manu, to hear Republicans talking about defunding the FBI, defunding the Department of Justice.
RAJU: Yes, and that is coming from some of the rank-and-file members that is not yet coming from any of the members of the Republican leadership. But some of those members have said that defund the FBI, dismantle the FBI. That's the words from Congressman Andy Biggs some other members in the rank and file pushing that. That's going to be an issue in which the Republican leadership they have not embracing that, but they'll have to listen to, if they especially if they need to get the votes when it comes time to passing legislation, passing bills, defund the government, efforts to try to tie up the floor of the house.
We have seen happened here in the House. Just this week, there is some leverage for some of those members. Will they choose to use that? That is not rhetoric that the Republican leadership wants to embrace. Instead, they want to more broadly attack the Justice Department as being weaponized against former President Donald Trump.
But of course, Anderson, no one has seen any of the charges. No one knows the merits of the investigation. They are just merely attacking the Department based on public reports and based on Donald Trump's own social media posts without any knowing any of the evidence here. But again, that's a lot like what happened in the New York case as well. A lot of members quick to react without seeing the evidence first.
COOPER: Yes. Manu Raju, appreciate it. Back now with our panel. We're also joined now by CNN Legal Analyst and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Elliot Williams. Elliot, we haven't heard from you. We just have the graphic up about the New York Times reporting Maggie Haberman saying conspiracy to obstruct, false statements, willful retention or defense information are among three of the counts.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right. So, a few things. One, obviously as was said a little bit earlier, conspiracy is a big deal, because there you would have found some agreement to violate the law by multiple people there will be individuals other than the former president who was involved in some sort of criminal scheme there. And that's obviously quite significant. We step back and talk about it.
Something we haven't talked about is judges and what might happen when this gets in front of a judge. Now, look, there are, I believe, a little more than two dozen federal judges that sit on the Southern District of Florida, in Miami, Fort Pierce, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. We don't quite know which judge will get this. Now, I would assume that barring someone extreme, it is in the interest of any federal judge that hears this case to make it not about a political campaign and try to stick to the facts and the law.
Now, look, that's probably the worst possible outcome for former President Trump. But I think that that's far more likely than not even for -- I think people like to regard the art of judging in terms of who the presidents were, the people on the bench. But even Trump judges could potentially handle this matter in a fair and reasonable and responsible way. And I think it's far more likely to get someone who would than someone who wouldn't.
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's interesting, there are three different really lanes here. There's the court of law, which you guys are familiar with. There's a court of public opinion. Then there's the MAGA court, and we've already heard Donald Trump say that this is a witch hunt. This is them going after him for no reason.
Speaking with several Republicans across the country, as I'm sure David has as well. They have no confidence in the FBI. They think the FBI is only doing this because Donald Trump is running for president again. And they say that this is overreach by the FBI. Even speaking with, he's having big rallies in North Carolina and Georgia this weekend, speaking with one of the big Georgia organizers, they say that they have had more interest since this has come out as a result of this. This is emboldening Donald Trump's base because they look at him as a victim, as a martyr for an overreach of the FBI.
And you have to look at this from the standpoint of this may potentially help Donald Trump. And then you also look at his challengers for the GOP nomination. We've even heard from Ron DeSantis, who thinks this is weaponization of the FBI, as well as Nikki Haley. There are other challengers. Obviously, Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson says that if he has done the crime, he should do the time. But there's a stark contrast between what we're seeing and the legal challenges and what Donald Trump and his base are willing to look at.
COOPER: It is amazing last night to have heard former Vice President Mike Pence going after Democrats saying that they want to defund police, and tonight to be hearing from member -- Republican members of Congress talking literally about defunding the FBI.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it's through the looking glass. And I think that that this is the negative and dangerous impact of the Trump effect on American life. And it goes to what David was talking about earlier, to teach a whole now, generation and young conservatives, that the FBI, which you know, obviously as a progressive, I have my criticisms, you can go back to Dr. King.
But these are the best law enforcement agents in the world. They've been given some of the toughest assignments, they keep us safe every day. And to say that these people are somehow have been hypnotized. They've been hypnotized. And now they're just zombies coming after Donald Trump for no reason. The idea that people except that shows you that we are in real trouble.
And my concern about it is simply this, Tuesday, you're going to have the opportunity for our court system to do its job. And it could be a circus, because already on -- through social, he's giving out the date, the time, the place, he may as well be organizing another January 6th next week. And it is very, very dangerous what he's doing.
WILLIAMS: You know, Van, to your point, if only we lived in a world where people would -- where everybody would universally recognize the truth that in order to get a search warrant for agents to enter your home, the facts and evidence have to be presented to a federal judge --
WILLIAMS: Who would sign off on it in order for an indictment to be brought, there has to be probable cause found that you are linked to the commission of a crime. These are basic facts and not -- even -- sorry, go ahead.
DAVID URBAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I was just going to say, so we were (inaudible) during the break briefly. So what is it about America? Right? What is it about Americans that that we're willing to believe this, willing to accept it that so many Americans, not a fringe number, it's not a small group. Remember when Trump ran against Biden in 2020, it's 74 million people voted for the guy, right. And so, I'm guessing that number may have decreased some between now and then, but there's still a massive amount of Americans and they're not rubes, some toothless rubes have been in some hot someplace. Right?
This is your neighbors, your friends, people you go to church with that they love this guy. What is it? What is it about it? Did it exist before Donald Trump? Is he just reflecting American culture? Is he -- back in the day, you know, you hear rappers say like I'm just telling you what I hear on the street in my neighborhoods, right? That's what -- that's what I'm rapping about. So, is Trump out there doing that now? Is he reflecting but the community he lives in and sees?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN COMMENTATOR: Listen, I mean, this has been unfolding for a very long time. This is not something new. This is the project that he's been working on. And he was building on things that went before him and social media has helped contributed to it, the whole modern media environment where people get one side of a story, and take it as gospel. And there are a whole bunch of people in this country --
URBAN: But the distrust --
AXELROD: Who believe his narrative that the institutions of our country are corrupt and rigged against them.
URBAN: And they don't believe just because of Donald Trump, though, Axe?
AXELROD: No, no, I think that this is -- these are memes that have been, I mean, this is a really, really deep and complex question. But it goes to the misplaced incentives and media and politics that drive people into these holes.
JONES: He's pimping people's pain. That's what he's doing. People have been left behind. People have been screwed over. The system doesn't help everybody. That's true. But that's not what's happening here. That's not what's happening here. Any other American that stole a bunch of federal documents and lied about it would also be going to court. There's no two-tiered thing happening, except that it took two years for it for him to get in trouble.
So, he's pimping people's pain. I think the problem that we have at the elite political level is that we forget there are people out there that are hurt and uncertain every day. They have not gotten a good explanation for why they haven't had a good raise and that type of stuff. And we leave the door open when we just defend the system as it is for people to come along and take advantage.
But it is disgusting what he's doing. It's disgusting. He is being treated better than any American in similar circumstances would be treated, there's no doubt about that. And he's (inaudible) he's being treated worse.
COOPER: I want to go back to Kaitlan in DC. Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Yes, Anderson joining our panel now is CNN's Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel. Jamie, I know you've been watching this all since Trump himself announcements -- . Trump himself announced it. What do you say?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, I've been talking to sort of two groups of people, former Justice Department officials who've been in roles very similar to this and how they look at it also political sources in the Republican Party. The former Justice Department officials who are really familiar with how all of this works, point out not only that this is historic, unprecedented. Now, the second time, the former president is being indicted first New York now, but they said to me, in many ways, this is anticlimactic because former President Trump has been doing this in plain sight.
One former Justice Department sort of said to me, he's been daring Merrick Garland and the Special Counsel, in fact, to indict him by saying all of these things and claiming that it's -- that they're his.
But I think the other point politically is, as we've all been discussing this evening, how this is going to play out over the next year, when could this come to trial. And while we have seen that Donald Trump politically has seen Teflon thus far, we're just beginning to hear about these charges. We're just beginning to find out about the evidence. Maybe some of these, his base is going to stick with him forever, no matter what if he goes out and shoot someone, as he said on Fifth Avenue. But I think that there are Republicans out there who really want to know what is in this evidence. And they're not convinced yet that it won't hurt him,
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kind of jump in on that point, because it came up in the conversation and associates having as well about views of Trump's constant attacks on institutions. In this case, let's focus on the FBI. Bill McInturff is one of the best Republican pollsters in the business. He just released this 30-slide study, looking at the polarization in American politics, and what's at the roots of it, and this is one of them.
And this is from NBC polling. And they asked the question, do you have a favorable positive view of a bunch of institutions, July 1995, Republicans do you have a positive view of the FBI? 52 percent yes. September 2022, Republicans do you have a positive view of the FBI? 18 percent. 18 percent. It's not all Trump to David Axelrod's point in 2013, so it was 52 percent yes, positive view of the FBI in 1995. In 2013 it was 41 percent.
Waco, general lack of field, eroding trust in institutions as part of American politics anyway, so it was coming down some 41 percent in 2013, 18 percent, a little more than a year ago. And Trump knows that and Trump plays to it. And it's cynically effective with his base. And that's why you see the Jim Jordan's and the Ted Cruz's and Elise Stefanik's people in senior leadership positions in the Republican Party, attacking the FBI.
The Republican Party, when I started doing this a long time ago was the party of law and order, the Republican Party is now attack law and order, because they make the case that they're out to get him, which number one is effective with Donald Trump's base. This helps Donald Trump, as upside down as that may seem in the current political debate, he's in, can I be your next Republican nominee for president? Can I be the nominee to try to get my old job back? This helps him. We know that for a fact.
It also in my view, to the point the conversation you're having earlier, bringing a case against a former president pretty high bar for any prosecutor anyway. The climate that Jack Smith does this in, the skepticism about the federal government, about institutions that Donald Trump has put on steroids among Republicans raises the bar even more.
LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it's always interesting when we talk about the law-and-order party, but there is a law-and-order office, and that's the President of the United States, the head of the executive branch, the org chart will tell everyone under that follows the FBI with the first person deal to enforce a law, that's their entire job. And so, you've got the optics already there.
But what's also interesting is the reason we have Jack Smith, the Special Counsel is for the concerns that are being raised that you would have somebody who obviously is the purported front runner, even if he were not, he's running against the person who has appointed the Attorney General of the United States of America. And so, Jack Smith's very role was called on by people was to have somebody to remove even the slightest hint of impropriety. And now that that's there, the idea of the talking points, but I'll say, I don't think it's a bad thing that we have yet to hear from the Department of Justice. Number one, it's a great thing that a lot of us are in the dark, because that's how grand juries are supposed to operate. That's how you know, the system is not the tarring and feathering in the public square.
But the second point, it's a good thing that we don't have all these information from the DOJ because their role as every prosecutor in any trial will know we love the rebuttal. We love the closing argument, the final word and everything he lays out will be a part of the court of public opinion notion of is that all you have, well, here is the truth. If you've got that, that's a good position to be in for a jury that's ahead.
COLLINS: And also, they could still be interviewing witnesses --
COATES: Absolutely Kaitlan --
COLLINS: We also know that January 6th investigation is happening as well. We'll get back to breaking this down as we are learning more about these charges and we'll also be joined shortly by Trump's current Attorney Jim Trusty. That is going to be here. We're going to take a break first on his history making night
COLLINS: The former president indicted that is according to him and other sources confirming it to CNN tonight. Joining us now is one of his attorneys Jim Trusty. This is his first interview since news of the indictment broke just a few hours ago. Jim, thanks for joining us. My first question, do you have a copy of this indictment?
JIM TRUSTY, TRUMP'S ATTORNEY IN DOCS CASE: No, we haven't been provided with the indictment yet. What we have right now is essentially a summons, which is a replacement for a warrant, right. Normally indictments are accompanied by a warrant where there's an arrest. Here we've received a summons from the Department of Justice asking us to be at the courthouse, Tuesday at 3 o'clock.
COLLINS: And does it say how many charges there are against your client?
TRUSTY: Again, it doesn't perfectly mirror an indictment. But it does have some language in it that suggest what the seven charges would be, not 100 percent clear that all of those are separate charges. But they basically break out from an Espionage Act charge, which is ludicrous under the facts of this case. And I can certainly explain it, and several obstruction-based type charges. And then false statement charges which are actually, again, kind of a crazy stretch just from the facts as we know it.
So, there's a lot to pick out eventually from the defense side. But that appears to be the charges. And it appears to be something that will get off the ground on Tuesday. COLLINS: OK, so you're confirming it is seven charges. You said there's an Espionage Act charge. Is there one on the willful retention of documents?
TRUSTY: Yes, that's -- we're talking about 18 USC 793. And then there's several 18 USC 1512, 1519. I know it's great television, right, to cite these numbers. But the bottom-line is it breaks down to the retention charge, as you would call it obstructions and false statement.
COLLINS: And is there a conspiracy charge in here?
TRUSTY: I believe so. I don't have in front of me right now. Again, this is not biblically accurate, because I'm not looking at a charging document. I'm looking at a summary sheet. So, there's language in there that might actually be reflecting a single count instead of two. But I think there was a conspiracy count as well.
COLLINS: And so that means there could be other indictments. Have you told that -- have you been told that anyone else was indicted here?
TRUSTY: We weren't advised if anyone else being indicted. I have a theory that maybe some of the outrageous misconduct has affected the equation, in some other case, a potential target. But bottom-line is right now all we know about is our client.
COLLINS: What's your theory?
TRUSTY: Well, over the last 24 hours, it's become public, that members of the Department of Justice led by Jay Bratt who was a pivotal figure in this investigation. This is the guy who wanted to do a raid before they even had a subpoena out. He apparently along with five other people in his presence from DOJ extorted, a very well-respected, very intelligent lawyer from Washington, DC, saying essentially, if you want this judgeship that's on Joe Biden's desk, you have to flip your guy to cooperate against the President of the United States. That should be a headline across the world --
COLLINS: Do you have evidence of that. I know that that's been something that Republican allies of Trump have been saying, but do you have evidence that that happened?
TRUSTY: Yes, this is no political talker. This is something that was reported at the time by the attorney. It has been -- is basically sworn to by him. He's written a letter that's been submitted to a U.S. District Court Judge, confirming it happened and I think it'd be really interesting to find out whether DOJ, whether the five people that sat in the room and watch that extortion, have threads of text messages or emails where they comment about that.
So, we're going to want some discovery about just how far ranging this criminal activity was by a prosecutor. And think of the irony, once again, you've got prosecutors saying, we're going after this guy because of obstruction. You know, that's their theoretical distinction from Delaware, while they literally obstructed justice, they literally tampered with a witness in the fall of 2022.
COLLINS: Let's get back to the indictment here. We don't have any evidence of what you're claiming there. I know that the legal team has been --
TRUSTY: Other than sworn testimony, right.
COLLINS: Prosecutorial -- that's what you're saying. I'm taking you at your word on that. We don't have any evidence of that ourselves. I just want to note for our audience, but I want to get back to the indictment here, because this is the breaking news tonight from your own clients. How did you find out about this? Did you hear from the Special Counsel Jack Smith? How did you get this summons that you're referencing?
TRUSTY: Yes, we got an email from the guy who actually did the extortion. I think that was cute little message from DOJ that they're not going to, they're not going to worry about their own dirty house. And so we got an email that basically had a summons and invitation to have a call to kind of work on some of the logistics. And we'll work on those logistics, there's a lot to kind of figure out between the U.S. Marshals and the U.S. Secret Service to make this as smooth as possible, make it safe for the public, and make it efficient in the courthouse. So that's all coming. It would be nice to actually have a copy of the indictment. But we don't have that quite yet.
COLLINS: When do you expect that you'll get --
TRUSTY: Hold him hostage until we agree.
COLLINS: When do you expect you'll get a copy of that indictment?
TRUSTY: Sometime between now and Tuesday afternoon, if they want to continue to play games, they'll give it to us at 3:01 PM, Tuesday?
COLLINS: What was the former president's reaction when you told him that he had been indicted in this case?
TRUSTY: Yes, it's a combination of things. I mean, look, anytime you advise a client that they've been indicted, when they know it's just fundamentally wrong, I know all attorneys go on the air and say my clients innocent. And then after the trial, we're going to win the appeal. Well, here he is innocent. I mean, everything about this case is absolutely rotten, the misconduct that we've documented for an Attorney General, who hides behind Jack Smith, and so his reaction was personal, but it wasn't. He thought about and he said, this is just a sad day. I can't believe I've been indicted. You know, those are kind of my summary words of what he had to say.
But at the same time, he immediately recognizes the historic nature of this, this is crossing the Rubicon. You know, when we have a weaponized DOJ serving as the Praetorian guard for the Democratic Party, for the incumbent administration, and the Attorney General, who is in-charge of Jack Smith, hides from meetings, hides from conversations, and just says, go talk to Jack.
COLLINS: Well, Jack Smith is --
TRUSTY: It is a crazy new world.
COLLINS: Jack Smith is the special counsel, he acts independent. That's why he was appointed in this, but he was in that meeting that you were in on Monday at the Justice Department, we are told, did he say anything to you in that meeting? Was there any indication that these charges were coming?
TRUSTY: I'm not going to talk about the meeting. But to go back to your premise there, Kaitlan. This is not an independent counsel statute. That changed. This is special counsel. They are still answerable to the Attorney General. Now for whatever political reason, maybe it's all about Delaware, where apparently cases go to die. Everything that the Attorney General should be doing, in terms of transparency is not happening. That started with his impromptu press conference to announce the president's guilt. It's continued with the misconduct that we've documented and it's not just the smoking gun that I've mentioned in terms of extortion.
Obviously, you got Tim Parlatore there. He can tell you about the grand jury abuse that he went through directly. That's pretty solid evidence. And there's a whole bunch of other stories of mistreating, intimidating, browbeating witnesses and gamesmanship. So, we're going to --
COLLINS: I know those are your allegations --
TRUSTY: Come out smoking on this thing.
COLLINS: Jim, and I know I know, that's why you went to the justice webinar on Monday to air your grievances about how this investigation has been conducted. But again, this is historic. You're right. Your client has been indicted. He's the first former president to face federal charges. What day did you get the target letter letting you know that he was indeed a target in this investigation?
TRUSTY: Look, I mean just put it this way. Witnesses don't have raids at their houses. OK. We've known he's a target.
COLLINS: But when did you get the formal letter because that changes it.
TRUSTY: Probably for seven years, but we've certainly known -- I'm not going to get into that. The internal --
COLLINS: Why not?
TRUSTY: Communication stuff is not something I'm comfortable throwing out, because it's between the attorneys, OK.
COLLINS: Well, you feel comfortable coming on and making these allegations?
TRUSTY: I didn't tell you what the conversations -- COLLINS: But Jim, you feel comfortable making these allegations about who's the special counsels team? Why can't you say when they sent you the target letter?
TRUSTY: Because I have no interest in reporting on those types of facts of communication. So, sorry,
COLLINS: Which legal team will be with Trump when he shows up on Tuesday? Will he show up on Tuesday?
TRUSTY: Yes, he's going to show up. Look, he knows he's innocent. He knows this is garbage. He knows there's fundamental flaws with each one of the counts that they're apparently putting in this indictment and he knows that the whole process starting from the archive is, was a corrupt and politicized one.
So, he's not shrinking from the fight. He's disappointed that this is where we are as a country. And this is where the Department of Justice is, but he's not, you're not going to see him hide in Scotland, he's going to be ready to handle this case and help his attorneys fight it. And we'll see, it'll make some excitement to see who shows up at the table on Tuesday, I guess.
COLLINS: So, it's not clear which attorneys will be with him. Is that what you're saying? Because so far. It's been you, John Rowley, Lindsey Halligan handling this?
TRUSTY: Yes, we'll see where it all goes.
COLLINS: OK, so you're leaving the door open that other attorneys could be joining? We'll see what that looks like. Is your understanding that all of this is now happening only in Florida, not in Washington at the Grand Jury here any longer?
TRUSTY: Yes, that's a good question. I mean, it's -- look, it's kind of an interesting scenario as to why they would be in a grand jury in Washington, DC for the better part of whatever, maybe 10 months or more, and then make this shift. I know that some of the colleagues from the Department of Justice had even published articles talking about some of the venue problems that they might have with some of these charges.
But I think it might go back to the misconduct, I think there was so much that was wrong about how they conducted the investigation in DC, that they might be going down to Florida to kind of sanitize the process, make it look to the Florida grand jury, like there's nothing to see here, when they drag in vice president's violate attorney client privilege, you know, make for personal attorneys and seven secret service agents and a vice president testify, maybe they're trying to get away from the damage they did in DC.
But bottom-line is, no sign of a second case, or a separate case that would be kind of the ultimate overreach by these guys. COLLINS: You're referencing all the people that have gone in, a lot of them are people who work for Trump or worked for him that you mentioned there. Do you believe that Florida is a more favorable venue though, for your client here?
TRUSTY: Yes, look, you don't know the details of how the jury selection is going to play out, we don't even know 100 percent. whether it'll stay in Miami as opposed to West Palm, I think there's a likelihood that the case could be actually venue specifically over there. So there's a lot of kind of tactical considerations and thoughts that will go into that. But as a general rule, look, Washington, DC, you look at the numbers politically, you look at how the bench has treated things like the crime fraud exception being this incredibly rare thing that came to life here.
Vice presidents having no executive privilege. I have to think that the culture in anywhere in Southern Florida is probably more favorable to this particular client than Washington, DC would be.
COLLINS: What does Tuesday look like? Does he -- I know he's in New Jersey right now. I was told a lot of the attorneys aren't there in New Jersey with him. Walk me through what Tuesday looks like? Does he goes straight to the courthouse? Do we expect him to be arrested? What are your expectations?
TRUSTY: Yes, I don't want to get crazy specific. I mean, look, I think Secret Service would not be thrilled with me for that. So, you really can't telegraph --
COLLINS: Well, your client posted on social media that it was happening at 3 PM on Tuesday.
TRUSTY: Right. I'm not -- we're not hiding the court appearance, Kaitlan. I'm talking about where does he come from? What time does he show up? That kind of stuff needs to be kind of close hold between the Marshals and Secret Service. In terms of the hearing itself, it should be a fairly routine hearing, we still have to iron out some -- we have to have some conversations with DOJ to see if they'll be remotely reasonable about things like conditions of release and setting a timetable.
But look, the hearing itself is actually a pretty typical thing. It's just atypical prosecution and atypical defendant. But on the logistics of it, we'll work that out. The one thing you did mention, an arrest, there's not going to be an arrest. This is coming in on a summons, that was appropriate. This is not somebody who's going to flee. This is not somebody that poses a danger to the community, which are the factors that you would normally consider when you're talking about release. So again, no arrests, no warrant, none of that kind of nonsense, but we'll go through the bureaucratic process we have to on Tuesday.
COLLINS: He announced this publicly, was that against your advice?
TRUSTY: Well, even if it was, I would not get into that. I mean, look, DOJ has leaked stuff every day of the week in this case. You and I kind of butted heads on that maybe about a week ago
COLLINS: Yes, because I told you it was because of good reporting --
TRUSTY: Including pressuring that --
COLLINS: Learned more.
TRUSTY: Of course, well I'm shocked at CNN said they had good reporting. You stunned me with that. But look --
COLLINS: We do have good reporting.
TRUSTY: The Washington Post is run probably -- Washington Post is probably run 25 stories about the same guy that DOJ tried to extort into cooperating. You can't tell me that's coming from us. OK, that's coming from them. It was a leak campaign. That's just one example of it. And again, this is the new rule of anything goes when you're going after President Trump, it started with probably seven years ago, but certainly the FBI culture of Comey and the current administration going after their leading candidate in opposition are writing new rules every step of the way.
So, you know, we'll be fighting that stuff left and right. You may not like to hear everything I have to say or you may say there's not enough evidence yet. But I'm evidence driven, and we're going to bear it out.
COLLINS: Yes, I do believe we need to get evidence on those allegations you are making but we do appreciate you coming on. Your first interview since the former president was indicted earlier today. Jim Trusty, thank you for your time.
TRUSTY: All right. Sure thing.
COLLINS: Back with the panel. Now we are joined by CNN's Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero. The subject of these charges is right in your wheelhouse, of course, because you're a former assistant to the Attorney General for national security. You hear Jim talking there, they don't actually have their hands on this indictment. They have what he said was a summons, so basically a summary of the charges. What did you make, though, of him saying espionage, willful retention of documents, false statements, a conspiracy charge as well, I believe.
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Right, so one of the things that he pointed out that I think is probably worth unpacking a little bit for our viewers is, his statement that I think he used the word ludicrous with respect to potential charges under the Espionage Act.
CORDERO: And I think that can be a little bit misleading, because when we hear Espionage Act, people think spies and things like that working for a foreign government. The statute that we refer to as the Espionage Act, really is the statute that mishandling of classified information is prosecuted under. So just because an individual is charged with one of the provisions of mishandling classified information, or mishandling National Defense Information, that doesn't mean that they are engaged or being accused of being engaged in the act of espionage. it just means that they have mishandled this National Defense Information. And there's all sorts of definitions that go with that. But it can be a little bit misleading.
The other provision with respect to, there's other charges with respect to mishandling classified information that could be less consequential as the charges under the Espionage Act, but those are really serious charges. And they tend to be charges that sometimes individuals who have leaked information or turned information over to people that shouldn't see it, fall under that section,
COLLINS: What stood out to you?
COATES: Well, the primary thing that stood out to me was the way in which little of his conversation dealt with the substance of the allegations, and instead of trying to divert the attention to what he's alleging to be prosecutorial misconduct, I think the word he was looking for was discretion in the way in which the Department of Justice looks at cases and decides whether or not there is an evidentiary foundation. Whether there is corresponding statutes that will actually address the issue and allegations charged, and whether there is support enough for a grand jury.
The fact that this took place in Florida, I think, is quite telling, because of course, a lot of the conduct has occurred there. We're talking about the allegations of either moving documents, obstructing the willful retention. And keep in mind that word willful because we're talking about the intent. It's not an inadvertent, I think of as a mom, you know, your kid accidentally has something in your grocery cart, once the ding, ding, ding goes outside, you realize it means that was your cart, you bring it back, you don't double down, triple down, quadruple down and say, I'm taking it, take it from my bloody hands no matter what.
That's the equivalent we're talking about here. And that's just for a toy, let alone national security document. And finally, when you look at the allegations of misconduct, I mean, I'm an alum of the Department of Justice. I take great umbrage the notion of there being some axe to grind. But the grand jury is the one to make that ultimate call. And if it happened in a place where it would have been more sympathetic to the former president that's telling about this notion of political witch hunt.
COLLINS: Yes. And he seem to say it could actually be more favorable depending on what the jury looks like. We'll be right back. We've got to take a quick break of course, a lot of news coming in here and tonight. Also next, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has just weighed in on all of this. What he said may not surprise you, but we'll tell you what it is when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:50:00]
COOPER: Lawmakers of all stripes have been weighing in throughout the night on the indictment of Donald Trump, now the top House Republican has (inaudible) CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill with reaction from Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Manu.
RAJU: Yes, rushing to resident -- former President Trump's defense saying in his statement McCarthy does, he says today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America is unconscionable for president to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades. He goes on to say, I and every other American who believes in the rule of law stand with President Trump against his grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable, so suggesting they're going to use their power in the House majority to do something as part of this, to look into this investigation.
Now, just a couple things to point out here, Anderson, he says President Biden indicted Donald Trump. It wasn't President Biden, it's a federal grand jury led by a special counsel. He said that Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades trying to compare the two, but we know from -- what we heard from Trump's own attorney on our air just a few minutes ago that these charges stem beyond just holding classified documents, dealing with obstruction and other issues as well.
And also Anderson to point out to, there is a divide among the top Republican leaders in the House side McCarthy, Steve Scalise and number two Republican rushing to Trump's defense, attacking the Justice Department even before seeing any of the facts and evidence on the Republican side of the Senate. silence from Mitch McConnell, the number one the leading Republican and the number two Republican John Thune yet to comment so far.
COOPER: Manu, thanks very much. Back now with our panel. Should we be surprised to hear Kevin McCarthy say that it's Joe Biden indicting Donald Trump.
JONES: Kevin McCarthy never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to be a real leader. That was disgusting. He knows and anybody who's got an 11th grade understanding of civics knows that the President of the United States doesn't indict people. That's done by the Department of Justice, in this case by special counsel. This is what I'm talking about. misleading the east. That's not leadership that's misleadership, he should be ashamed of himself.
AXELROD: Yes, you're right about leadership, but he also wants to stay the leader and that's part of what's going on here, the most outspoken members in his caucus have tied up his house in the last week because they're mad at what he did on the debt ceiling issue, and this is a way to express the solidarity and he needs Donald Trump, frankly, to keep those guys on his reservation. So, there's a lot of layers of this, but I do think it reflects his read of where the Republican constituency is going to be on this question.
And I, you know, we saw it last night with Vice President Pence. I mean, as Scott Jennings pointed out last night, I mean, Trump almost had the guy killed, and he was defending him on this, on this issue last night. So, I think Kevin McCarthy, he may not be a great leader, but he has a great weather vane. And this is the way the winds are blowing.
URBAN: There's also look, there's the legal case as Alice point out before, there's the political case, this is -- we've clearly now, we're into the political case here, right? You've heard the president's attorney on here, just earlier talking to Kaitlan. And that the case is going to be made out. It's the weaponization of the DOJ, these -- this prosecutor was -- they threatened this person's judgeship, if they didn't do these things, that's where we're going to hear from now until the election, you're right.
And maybe if there is a trial ever, which I doubt you'll ever see, in our lifetime, I don't think it's ever going to come. But you're going to continue to hear that, right? It's the politicization of this, both sides are going to go to their corners, they're going to come back out, touch gloves and fight from now to Election Day.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The reality is, we are going to have political back and forth. Part of the beauty if I can say so of our criminal justice system is none of that should matter in the court. We're going to have a jury of 12 civilians in Florida deciding this case. And I also think that some of the things I'm going to be looking for when we see this indictment that are legally important, may influence and shape the political debate, for example, of course, we need to see the specific charges on the willful retention of documents charge. What did Donald Trump do with those documents that may or may not be specified in the indictment, but if he did something with them of import, that's going to make it --
COOPER: I've got to take a break back with more in just a moment. We'll be right back.
COOPER: It is not every day you can go to bed knowing you've just seen something no one has ever seen before. It's both the great joy and sometimes the great sorrow reporting the news or watching it.
COLLINS: Yes, and one thing is certain Anderson is there is more of this tomorrow and also more tonight. So, we'll turn things over to Dana Bash and Erin Burnett.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: And I'm Dana Bash. Our breaking news tonight, the federal indictment of Donald Trump.