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Trump Faces 37 Counts In Total, Including Willful Retention Of National Defense Information; McCarthy: Trump Indictment "Will Disrupt The Nation"; Florida Voters React To Trump Indictment. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired June 09, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Just about at the top of the hour, the end of another historic day, and another historic first, for Donald Trump.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Mere weeks after becoming the first former President, charged, on state felony offenses, he's now also the first to be charged with the federal kind, specifically 37 counts, connected to retaining, mishandling, moving, concealing, government documents, some of them highly classified.
COOPER: The indictment also details allegations of two occasions he shared highly sensitive material with people not cleared to see it. He's also accused of hiding documents, from his own attorneys, and allegedly conspiring to obstruct government efforts, to get them back.
TAPPER: Just a short time ago, we got our first read on how long the government expects it will take, to make its case, in court, against Donald Trump, according to a court document, filed along with the indictment, the estimate that Jack Smith, the Special Counsel's team is making its 21 business days, it's about a month. That does not include how long the defense might want to make their case.
All in all, a stunning document, at the end of a historic day.
Joining us, with much more insight, right now, our Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez.
Evan, what stands out to you the most, in this indictment?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the thing that stands out the most, Jake, is the fact that prosecutors portray the former President, as someone, who's just reckless, in his handling of the nation's most closely-guarded secrets, things that require special handling.
And we're talking about top-secret documents, things that are Special Access Programs that require special handling of those documents. You can only read it in some certain specific rooms that are protected from spies. We know that these were documents that had to do with the U.S. defense capabilities, nuclear capabilities, of the United States, as well as foreign countries, some of the vulnerabilities, of the United States, and of its our allies, from foreign attack and, of course, some of the vulnerabilities that we have, should we get attacked, by other countries.
So, these are the things that certainly should never be stored, in the White and Gold Ballroom, of Mar-a-Lago, which is one of the places that the former President was storing these things, in a storage room, his bedroom, and a bathroom and a shower.
One of the ironies there, of course, is he was putting these things in a shower. He was obsessed, if you remember back in 2016, with the fact that Hillary Clinton had a server, in her bathtub, in Chappaqua.
TAPPER: And there are specific interactions, detailed, in the indictment that involve the former President. Tell us about those.
PEREZ: Yes, I think the one that stands out really is the fact that his former attorney -- sorry, his current attorney, Evan Corcoran records, contemporaneously, some interactions that he has with the former President, in which, he says that the former President says things like this. "Well, look, isn't it better if there are no documents?" This is after they get a subpoena, from the federal government, demanding that he return these documents.
He's trying to get Evan Corcoran, to lie to the FBI, according to prosecutors. He's trying to say to him, "Well, why can't you just pretend like none of this happened, and also take it back to your hotel room, and pick out the classified documents, and pretend there was none of -- none of those are there?"
TAPPER: What more can you tell us about this Walt Nauta, the former President's aide, who was also indicted today?
PEREZ: Right. He is facing six counts for concealment and for obstruction. He was the former President's body man. You saw him a lot, especially at the White House. And then, he moved to Mar-a-Lago. He was very close to the former President, and he trusted him clearly, to move some of these boxes.
According to prosecutors, he is responsible -- he's the one that is seen on some of the surveillance video, moving boxes out, before one of the searches happens, and then moving things back.
We know that one of the -- one of the pictures that you see there, Jake, in the indictment, is one that Walt Nauta took, according to prosecutors. He enters the storage room. He finds some of the boxes have spilled.
And the photograph show -- depicts a document, a secret document that is classified as "Secret" that shows the military capabilities, of a foreign country, something that the Intelligence Community spends a lot of resources, to try to collect. And so, that becomes count number eight, in this indictment, Jake. TAPPER: Yes, and the place, where these documents were kept, should have resembled Fort Knox. And instead, it looked like a Chuck E. Cheese. Evan Perez, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
TAPPER: Turning now to CNN's Kara Scannell. She's lived at the Miami courthouse, where Donald Trump will surrender to authorities, on Tuesday.
And Kara, I know, you have some details, about the kinds of threats the FBI is looking for, around the trial, and how they're going about looking into them.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, law enforcement sources tell us that FBI agents, in the Domestic Terrorism squads, around the country, are looking for any possible threats, through chat rooms, through other mechanisms that these things pop up, surrounding the arraignment on Tuesday.
Now, this is something that the FBI does, on a routine basis. But obviously, Trump has a lot of supporters. He also has people, who might come and protest. And Trump, as you remember, before his arraignment, in New York, he was calling, for protests. So, the FBI agents are looking for any possible threats that could arise, on Tuesday.
Now, we also know from other law enforcement sources that this morning, they conducted an assessment of this federal courthouse, as well as the surrounding area, looking for any possible threats. And what were told from the source is that they have not come up with any credible threats.
But all of this work will continue, over the next several days, leading up to Tuesday. Now, we don't see any enhanced security measures that are obvious to us today. But there still are several days, before they can put that into place.
TAPPER: So Kara, as you know, two of Donald Trump's attorneys abruptly resigned, this morning. Who do we think is going to represent Donald Trump in court?
SCANNELL: Yes. So, I mean, this was a surprise move. Two of the attorneys that had led him through this investigation, resigned this morning.
And now, Trump has said that he has hired a New York former federal prosecutor, by the name of Todd Blanche. He also retained Blanche, to represent him, in the New York State case, involving the charges related to the hush money payments.
[21:05:00] Now, Blanche is someone, who is well-regarded, in New York. He's a former prosecutor. He knows his ways, ins and around, these court issues, and these allegations. So, he's someone that Trump has brought on, and he is expected to be here, in court, on Tuesday. Now, Trump is also exploring hiring another attorney, someone who is based in Florida, to help work on this case, and he's talking to several attorneys, sources, tell our colleagues, and working to potentially have someone else in place by Tuesday.
TAPPER: All right, Kara Scannell, in Miami. Thank you so much.
COOPER: Jake, joining us now is New Hampshire governor, Chris Sununu, who recently decided not to seek the Republican nomination out of concern a crowded field would benefit the former President.
He met today, in New Hampshire, with former Vice President Pence, who is running, and who launched his campaign, with a rebuke to Mr. Trump, but then tempered it by saying he hoped his old boss would not face charges.
Governor Sununu, appreciate you being with us.
Did you, by the way, talk to the Vice President, Pence, about this indictment today?
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): A little bit. I spoke to him kind of very shortly, after it was all released. I hadn't even read it myself, so, we -- a couple glancing comments. But I hadn't -- I didn't dove into it. So, the conversation was more about how to win New Hampshire.
COOPER: What is your reaction after having read the indictment?
SUNUNU: Well, look, I think there's a couple problems here that folks are glossing over. The average American saw boxes sitting in Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago. They saw boxes behind Biden's Corvette. And the average American is going, "What's the difference? Why do you charge one and not the other?"
I'm not saying there's not validity -- more validity on one in terms of the conduct. And I think Governor Christie brought that up, very clearly, it's the conduct, and what was going on, and the intention behind what was going on, with those documents, with the former President.
But the onus, the burden of proof, right now, is actually on the Department of Justice. There's a cloud of politicalization around that group. They've made some enormous errors. They really have to come out and be clear, not just about what they are charging the former President with, but how it differs.
How does it differ from the emails of Hillary Clinton? How does it differ? Because without doing that, it's kind of like the boy who cried wolf, right? They've made a bunch of mistakes, here, before. Folks are going to think it's political. But this is really serious stuff, without a doubt. And he has to be held to bear.
I'm actually a little surprised, the other candidates running against him, for president, are not more aggressive, about calling out for what it is. It's a huge problem. And mostly, it's a huge problem for the Republican Party. Once again, the former President is just a terrible message-bearer, for the Republican Party. And it's scaring Independents away.
COOPER: Does it surprise you, I mean, that Nikki Haley, or Tim Scott or others haven't been vocally -- vocal about this?
SUNUNU: Yes. Yes.
SUNUNU: Look, you're down 40 points in the polls. I don't know why they're doing this. They're down 40 points in the polls. They should be --
COOPER: No. I mean, why are you surprised by it, I guess, is my question.
SUNUNU: Well, they're running against him. When you're running in a race, you're trying to beat the guy ahead of you. You're trying to knock him down. And given all the things and the rap sheet there that is a mile long, you think that they'd be more aggressive.
I get it. They're trying to focus on the problems around DOJ. And there are real problems there. That place needs an overhaul, no question. We can do hours on that.
But let's focus at the facts at hand. You're running against a guy with 37 indictments against him. You almost look like you're defending him, at this point. That is not a -- those are not -- does not look like a serious candidate that's willing to take him on, over the next six months, to knock his poll numbers down, and shoot you to the top. Either you want to run for president, and beat the guy, or you don't.
COOPER: I'm wondering what you think that we have not heard as much as we heard, yesterday, from folks in the House, Republicans, in the House, in support of the former President.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, earlier today, was saying that maybe people are kind of laying low, seeing if somebody comes up with a line that everybody can kind of glom on, to use to defend the former President.
What do you think they are going to -- what do you think the response is going to be?
SUNUNU: Well, look, I think they're looking -- I give them credit. They're looking at the facts. They're keeping their powder dry. Because they're realizing this is actually quite serious stuff. It's very easy to say, "Oh, there's a double standard." And maybe there is. But again, the burden of proof, on the Department of Justice, is to show that there isn't. That is a paramount issue here. Otherwise, they're going to get killed, in the court of public opinion, not just with Republicans, but across the board. But they are looking at the facts. They're looking at what the reality of this indictment is. And it's obviously very severe. There was clearly based on the conversations that were had, this isn't hearsay. These are the President's direct words, in terms of his attempts, to not let the documents out.
And as Governor Christie brought up, on your show, a little bit ago, he had every chance, to put them -- to bring them back. He had every chance, to return them. He chose not. This is purely self-inflicted, on his part.
But again, I think the Department of Justice has a lot of work to do, to get their messaging straight, and understand that again, that it just -- this is going to look like there's a double standard, and the burden of proof is on them, not on the other side.
COOPER: Traditionally, the Department of Justice is loathed to kind of engage in that way, about an upcoming case.
SUNUNU: But they have to. See, they've made so many mistakes that they now are -- it's now upon them that they have to acknowledge them that A, that mistakes were made, that politics had been involved in their department.
And they have to take it on themselves that there may have been a double standard, in the past, but we're not doing that going forward. And they have to explain it.
You and I have been reading this indictment, today. You've been reporting on it, for a couple hours. Understand that the average American, right now, might listen to this story for 90 seconds to two minutes.
So again, a lot of the lead, it just has to be that not just what the details of the 37 charges are, but really the hows and whys of this, but not that. Why are they going after Trump but not Clinton? Why they're going after Trump, but not Biden? I'm not saying it's not legitimate. But you have to be able to show that in order to build that level of confidence, with the American people, given it's so unprecedented.
They handled the taking of the files, terribly, at Mar-a-Lago. They did a terrible job there. They took files. They left people in the dark. Days went by. Weeks went by. We didn't get any information. No one knew why they had taken this unprecedented step. They have to be much more clear and transparent about the hows and whys, and really answer those questions that the American people is posing.
COOPER: House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, as you know, spoke out against the indictment, today. I just want to play some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This is going to disrupt this nation, because it goes to the core of equal justice for all, which is not being seen today. And we're not going to stand for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: When he talks about equal justice, there are certainly a number of people, who look at that and think, "Well, the former President has actually gotten more lenient treatment than just about anybody else would have -- who would had these documents in their possession."
SUNUNU: Based on what? He's being treated -- is he being treated more lenient than Joe Biden, who had boxes sitting behind his Corvette? See, the average American doesn't get that. You can't say that.
COOPER: But that's not the same comparison.
SUNUNU: He's under indictment and nobody else is.
COOPER: Right. But that's not the same comparison. As you know, Joe Biden is not trying to hide those documents, has not been moving boxes around, avoiding a subpoena.
SUNUNU: Well, look, I don't want to get into the weeds. But Joe Biden had those documents, and no one -- and they knew about it. No one went to his house for over 80 days. The public wasn't notified till two months after that.
So, I'm just saying, I understand there's two very different situations. These are the details that have to be really -- that really need to lead the story, to get that vote of confidence, amongst the American people.
And Kevin McCarthy is absolutely right. This is going to be massively disruptive. This is going to be the story of the presidential election, for the next few weeks. And the downside is the other candidates aren't going to have the opportunity, to really be leading on inflation, and energy independence, and mental health issues, and all these things that really plague the country that the government can't provide opportunity to, for our citizens.
So, it's going to be a huge distraction. I'm not saying it's not valid. They have to go forward. But so far, how they're going forward, is not being super-transparent, and acknowledging the questions and issues, not just amongst Republicans, but Independents, and really the American people.
COOPER: So --
SUNUNU: You got to prove the lack of a double standard.
COOPER: But what do you want? Do you want, like the Department of Justice, like Jack Smith, to go on cable news, and talk about this? I mean, isn't his job to prove this in a courtroom?
SUNUNU: Yes. Yes, I do.
COOPER: Rather than the court of public opinion?
SUNUNU: No, well, of course. But they have to acknowledge that they've screwed up so badly, publicly, on previous things that yes, somebody -- I'm not saying it has to be Jack.
But somebody has to go out and say, "Look, here's the issue. Here's why we didn't go after Clinton, even though she had servers in her bathtub. Here's why we're going after Trump based on this. Here's why we haven't done anything with Joe Biden and his files. Here's where we found other files."
They have to talk about it all. Because otherwise, it looks like you're just going after one, and not the other. And I just think that not acknowledging that is allowing this giant vacuum of questioning, to permeate here. And that's going to put doubt, no matter what the verdict might be.
I mean, look, we know at the end of the day, there's going to be a huge bunch of Trump supporters that no matter what the verdict is, they're never going to buy into it, no matter what.
That there's also a good swath of the American people, who really want to know, what is the story here? How are we holding folks accountable? Is there a double standard? Do we have an even sense of justice?
The Department of Justice has made huge mistakes. They have to own that. They have to own that, before and during they're taking these unprecedented steps, so folks understand why such unprecedented steps are justified.
COOPER: I guess I just don't understand what does that mean the Department of Justice has to own that? I mean, you can have -- two things can be true. They can have -- made mistakes in the past, and in this case, play everything --
COOPER: -- by the book, no?
SUNUNU: That's absolutely true. And that's what we hope happens, right? It's OK. Look, they made mistakes. That happened. Let's make sure that we're going forward.
You have to earn back a lot of the trust, right? And so, whether it's talking about some of the other cases, some of the issues, how this one differs? If they do it just in the courtroom, that's fine legally. But it's going to just again, allow this doubt to permeate.
And I think all the other candidates need to be talking about that. I think everybody needs to be acknowledging, it's OK to acknowledge mistakes in the past. You can't just ignore them. But by acknowledging them, you're putting transparency, and that builds up public trust. Transparency is what really builds that trust.
COOPER: Right. But isn't it --
SUNUNU: And all the candidates running for president have to acknowledge it.
COOPER: Right. But isn't a responsible -- responsible leader, whether it's on the left or right, would not put out a statement saying that Joe Biden is prosecuting his political opponent.
I mean, do you believe that Joe Biden is prosecuting, which is what we've heard from many Republicans, in the House, including Speaker McCarthy? Do you believe that Joe Biden is prosecuting Donald Trump, to hurt him in the race?
SUNUNU: Joe Biden's Department of Justice is prosecuting the former President, who's running against him. Look, that's just a fact, right?
Now, whether you like the tone of that statement, and why it's being said, and how it's being drummed up by the other side, doesn't matter. Those are the facts. And so, it's very easy. I guess that's my point. It's so easy to make a statement like that, where the average American goes, "Yes, it looks like that's happening."
So, get out in front of it. Explain. You have to acknowledge those types of things, and not just say, "Well, it's A, B and C in the courtroom. And as long as we win in the courtroom, it's OK."
SUNUNU: They've won the courtroom before. And people don't buy it. His poll numbers didn't move, right? So again, you're just going to allow this guy to be even more, quote-unquote, "Victimized." He's going to play that victim card again. His poll numbers will go up. He's raising money off it, as we speak. Folks have to acknowledge that.
And so, again, I just think that the whole Department of Justice has a huge burden of proof, on their shoulders. They can do it. But they have to look at the whole picture, to build that level of confidence, with the American people.
And you have to get the American people on board. If this wasn't unprecedented, if this was just another case, you've done this a whole bunch of times? Not a big deal. But the fact that it has never been done, we've never seen anything like it --
SUNUNU: -- in American history? That means they have to be unprecedented, in their approach.
COOPER: Governor Sununu, I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.
SUNUNU: You bet. COOPER: Back now with the panel.
Joining us this hour, CNN Political Commentator, Margaret Hoover, Republican consultant, and Host of "Firing Line" on PBS. Margaret, what do you make of the Governor's comments?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm -- my head is exploding.
Because, you know, what we need from Republicans, right now, Anderson? We need leadership. We need leadership, from Republicans, who don't say, it's up to the Department of Justice to explain this to American people. Actually, it takes Republicans, explaining the difference, to the American people.
That there is a fundamental difference, between the Department of Justice indictment that says the former President of the United States put "Nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack," the safety of the United States military, human sources and continued viability is sensitive -- though, nothing like that was in Joe Biden's garage. Nothing like that was in Hillary Clinton's 30,000 emails.
It is up to Republicans, to explain this to Republicans, that this is not apples and apples. There are fundamental material differences between the content of these email cases, not the least of which Joe Biden admitted that he found them on accident. He didn't spend 18 months, carrying them around the country, evading justice.
This is not the media's fault. We're telling it, right now. You guys are telling it right now. We're trying to unpack it for the audience.
There are fundamental differences. And the leadership of the Republican Party, people like Chris Sununu, who, by the way, represents the more sane wing of the Republican Party, right now? It is on people, like him, and Chris Christie, and Larry Hogan, and Charlie Baker, the folks, who have stood up to the extremes in the party, Blue-state Republicans that can speak broadly, to Independents, and to a broad swath of Americans, to explain what is going on.
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was crawling out of my skin, during that entire interview, because Chris Sununu is, as Margaret said, one of the normal guys.
And I'm going to tell you exactly what he was doing. He tried to put this, on the DOJ, to say they have to go out and somehow be politicians, which then if they went out to be politicians, Jack Smith (ph), they'd be going after them for being political.
KINZINGER: But secondarily, he was trying to have his cake and eat it too. So, on the one hand, he's acknowledging, "Yes, this is bad." But then he's trying to assuage the base by saying --
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
KINZINGER: -- "Oh, this is a political message, in justice, and people don't trust justice, and absolutely Kevin McCarthy was right."
Kevin McCarthy was right, is what he said? Really? I mean, I -- it was one of the more disappointing interviews I've seen with Chris Sununu. And I like him, so, I don't even understand where he's coming from, on that.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: With respect to the Justice Department itself, that entire premise was false.
Joe Biden has not been cleared. Let's remember. The DOJ appointed a Special Counsel, who is still doing his work, on Joe Biden. And that Special Counsel, Robert Hur, is a former Trump appointee.
So they're actually, Trump and Biden, both being given the exact same process. They both had Special Counsels appointed. One has come back, and we're waiting on the other.
COOPER: He makes -- he makes this 80-day point, which is a talking point, you hear from a lot of Republicans.
HONIG: Yes, the 80-day point meaning what? 80 days that oh, how long, Biden was given before DOJ went into -- yes.
COOPER: I believe that's the case.
HONIG: The point is right. DOJ waited 80 days before going in, to get documents, from Biden.
But if you look at this indictment, the amount of patience, and latitude, that they gave Donald Trump, starting with the Archives?
Donald Trump, in this indictment, strings out the Archives, for nearly a year. They're negotiating. They're begging. They're pleading. Then, DOJ takes over, same thing, negotiating, "Can we work this out?" serve a subpoena, the nice way. They get a very impartial or non-complete response. And then, only after they had no other options did they execute the search warrant.
So, I think the facts are the opposite.
AXELROD: Well, yes, and I think that Jack Smith, in his presentation, today, and certainly these 49 pages, were meant to send a very clear message, which is, "This is serious. This is not frivolous. These are national secrets. Our national security was jeopardized. This is why we are doing what we're doing."
The whole thing was constructed, to explain to people why they had to act. But you're absolutely -- this is what so many Republicans are doing now, including Ron DeSantis, who said yesterday, well, he didn't talk about Trump. But he talked about the weaponization of the criminal justice -- of the justice system and so on.
People are trying to touch a base with the base, without fully committing to Trump. It's unbelievable that given the nature of this complaint, of this indictment, that Governor Sununu spent three quarters of his time, in speaking with you, assailing the Justice Department, for Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden.
And that is -- but that is the meme that is going on, in conservative talk circles, and in the President's circles, and among his supporters. And so, this notion that as stunning as this was today, the idea that they're going to walk away from him, I think, is still a very open question.
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he kept saying in the interview, it's easy to say that, but it's irresponsible to say that.
ALLISON: Because to lead the voter to think that the Department of Justice should, in this indictment, talk about Hillary Clinton, talk about Joe Biden? That is not how cases work. This indictment is about Donald Trump. And so, if there is an indictment that comes down on those people, so be it, and let the court do what they do there too.
But it is so irresponsible, for a Governor, in our country, to go on national television, and put it on the Department of Justice, to persuade --
ALLISON: -- the people, in the court of public opinion. And that's exactly the opposite of what the Department of Justice is.
AXELROD: They're --
ALLISON: And for so long, for so long, our Department of Justice had a firewall, between the White House, and its -- as an institution. And it was like that, so that we did not get to undermine our court system, because we wanted everyone to be able to go in front of the court, and have equal justice of the law.
But under Donald Trump's administration, that firewall was torn down. And that is why people think that Jack Smith should go out.
They're actually, Jack Smith and Merrick Garland? Merrick Garland is getting trashed, on the left, for so long, because they don't think that he was being assertive enough, against Donald Trump. But he took his time. He stepped away from this case, because he did think that every person, even the former President, deserves equal justice under law. And today is what he got. It just might not be what he wants.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I just also think there was a lack of context in Chris Sununu's kind of wrapping this around, which is that Justice Department has problems, and they need to explain this. We've heard Donald Trump's own former Attorney General, Bill Barr say, A, this is terrible, B, this is serious, C, this was unnecessary, if he had only complied with the law and not obstructed justice. And we've seen an investigation, carried out by an FBI, led by a Director, who was handpicked and appointed by Donald Trump, to replace Jim Comey. And it seems like -- it seems like there's this kind of other worldview that these people are operating in some vacuum.
AXELROD: Well, there is no universe, in which you can defend the actions that are reflected, in this indictment, which is why all of Trump's supporters and, apparently, people, who want to mollify Trump's supporters, are talking about the Justice Department --
HOOVER: That's right.
AXELROD: -- talking about Hillary Clinton, because there isn't an answer --
ALLISON: That's right.
AXELROD: -- to what this indictment --
AXELROD: -- lays out.
HONIG: And to the point about the Justice Department, to Ashley's point about how prosecutors ought to be different? When Jack Smith spoke today, he was so boring. And I mean that as the highest compliment. That's exactly what a prosecutor should do.
The notion that a prosecutor should go out there and give some long comparative speech, "Well, here's what happened with Hillary Clinton a long time ago versus now," is ridiculous, and would undermine everything that DOJ is about.
Jack Smith went out there today. He defended his people. He said, "These are good people, non-political, and the facts will speak for themselves." He looked like he was miserable. He was done in two and a half minutes.
MILLER: And he said, "Read my documents."
HONIG: And, as a prosecutor, I applaud him for doing it.
AXELROD: He's not --
MILLER: He said, "Read my documents."
HONIG: He said -- exactly.
AXELROD: He's not wrong that the FBI has made some mistakes. And the biggest mistake they made was in 2016, in the way they handled the Hillary Clinton case, which materially affected the election, and probably elected Donald Trump.
HOOVER: The most telling part about the fact that Chris Sununu spent 80 percent of the interview talking about something other than Trump's indictment is that they're not even trying to defend Trump.
HOOVER: They're not even trying to say, "Yes," make an argument in his defense. They're deflecting. The whataboutism and hypocrisy argument is a deflection, because they can't even defend what the former President has done.
KINZINGER: And I'll tell you what you saw -- and I'm just trying not to sieve about it, because I expected so much better from him. He's not running. He's a reasonable guy.
KINZINGER: Like, I don't know what he's running for.
What you saw from him, though, again, it's like that, like, "Hey, guys," to the concerned group, "I'm concerned too." But to the base, it's like-
KINZINGER: -- "I'm still with you."
KINZINGER: And what you saw in the argument he made is what you're going to see the quote-unquote, "Reasonable" Republicans now make. They're going to say, "Yes, it was bad." The DOJ needs to come out and convince people why a totally different Department of Justice, years ago --
KINZINGER: -- screwed up, and therefore we have to mea culpa, to be able to do any justice whatsoever.
ALLISON: I also think he is right, though, that the average American is only going to get a 90-second sound bite, which is why when you get a platform like this, you use it responsibly.
HOOVER: Well --
ALLISON: And what he did tonight was irresponsible. And it -- I do -- I'm surprised. I mean, I feel like Tamara Holmes (ph) announced that he's running for president. That is what it felt like.
ALLISON: It felt like he was trying to get the 35 percent of Trump voters that could actually get you over to the Republican primary. That is who he was speaking to today. COOPER: We got to take a quick break.
Coming up next, we'll get reaction from some of the former President's Palm Beach neighbors.
Also, tonight, Democratic congresswoman, and House Judiciary Committee member, Pramila Jayapal, her take on the history made today.
COOPER: Donald Trump apparently went golfing today, before the country learned the scope of the government's unprecedented criminal charges against him.
Florida congressman, Carlos Gimenez, posted this picture, with the ex- President, flashing a smile, at his New Jersey club.
Meanwhile, back near at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, there are mixed reactions, among voters, to this federal indictment.
CNN's Randi Kaye is live in Palm Beach County, with that.
What is the scene, near Mar-a-Lago, tonight?
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there's a few supporters here, perhaps a handful of supporters. They've been here sort of coming and going since news of the indictment broke, here to show their support, for the former President.
But what's interesting is I spoke with them, just a short time before coming on air. And I talked to them about the indictment, and what was revealed, in the indictment, today, and I showed them the pictures, of the alleged documents, in the bathroom, in the shower, and in the ballroom, here at Mar-a-Lago. And they just did not want to hear anything about it.
They believe that those pictures are fake. They believe that if those documents were here at Mar-a-Lago, they were planted. But the bottom line is they don't believe that any of the documents were actually classified, and that the former President did not have any classified material, Anderson, here, at Mar-a-Lago.
COOPER: Well, that's pretty clear.
I know you talked to some voters, in Palm Beach, today. What was their reaction?
KAYE: Yes, we went over into the town of Palm Beach, to talk to people. A lot of people did not want to speak on camera, including one woman, who was ready to break out the champagne, she said. She was so happy about the indictment. But she wouldn't speak to us on camera.
But those who did speak to us on camera, Anderson, were pretty split in how they feel, about this indictment, and how they feel about the former President.
We spoke to two people, who actually had voted for the former President. And here's what they told me. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's political. Oh, gosh, yes. And I think it's one-sided, one-sided, political, everything towards him, and they're going to do whatever they can to get rid of him.
KAYE: Do you think Donald Trump should run for president? Or should he be kept out of the White House?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think probably, he needs to not run. That's what I think.
KAYE: And why is that? Not good for the party? Not good for him? Why do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not good for the party.
ROBERT KIRKLAND, INDEPENDENT VOTER, VOTED FOR TRUMP: I think that it is fair for a prosecutor to prosecute something that they feel is legitimate. I don't think it's fair for a prosecutor to go and prosecute someone or pursue someone for a political reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Randi, what did other people you talked to say?
KAYE: We spoke to a few people, who had some pretty harsh words, for the former President, Anderson. One was a Democrat. One was also an Independent. And here's what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: What do you think about Donald Trump being indicted in the documents case?
PHIL HEFFERNAN, INDEPENDENT VOTER: I think it's long overdue.
KAYE: Why is that?
HEFFERNAN: It's obvious from what I read that those documents were mishandled. I think some of them are missing. And I'm very concerned about where they are and who may have access to them.
KAYE: Do you think he should be able to run, given this indictment?
HEFFERNAN: He'll be able to. But I don't think he's qualified for Office. He showed that in the first four years, he was in office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very happy about it. I think he did things that were illegal and wrong. And I'm glad he's finally being held accountable.
KAYE: Does any of this surprise you? And what questions do you have?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not surprised at all. I think everyone has to ask what his intentions were, and what he was planning on doing with that. So, I'm thrilled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: And Anderson, one thing that all of those voters agree on, no matter which party they're from, and whether or not they voted for Donald Trump, is that they all believe that this indictment is actually going to benefit him. They believe that at least in the short-term, his supporters will come out, his base will come out, even stronger, and he will benefit, at least in that capacity.
Legally, of course, it's another question.
COOPER: And we should point out, if this goes to trial, in West Palm Beach, some of the people there will be members of the jury.
COOPER: Jake, back to you.
TAPPER: Anderson, thanks so much.
There's definitely a bit of hypocrisy, when you look back, on some of Donald Trump's attacks, on Hillary Clinton, in 2015, 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She bleached and deleted 33,000 emails after receiving a congressional subpoena.
She lied about it over and over and over again.
We may not know what's in those deleted emails. Our enemies probably know every single one of them. So, they probably now have a blackmail file, over someone, who wants to be the President of the United States. This fact alone disqualifies her from the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: For more reaction now, this time, from a Democrat, in Congress, Washington State Representative, Pramila Jayapal, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, joined me earlier, this evening.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Jayapal, thank you so much for joining us.
So, what do you make of the indictment?
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Well, I'll tell you, I read it. I'm still going through. I'm going to go back and read it again. I think a couple things stood out to me.
One is the seriousness of the counts that are in this indictment. I mean, this is counts against a President, for taking, knowingly taking classified information, and then knowingly sharing that classified information, with numerous people, it appears, leaving the classified information in places that were completely unprotected, that this is a serious issue of national security.
Secondly, I was just taken back to, I guess it was 2016, when Trump said, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and shoot somebody, and the voters would not penalize me," I forget exactly what words he used. But it was along those lines.
And it occurred to me again, the brazenness, of this individual, who occupied the highest seat, in the land, and is absolutely, from the charges, from what I read, absolutely, knowingly, taking, concealing and bragging about this information, using it, for his own personal gain.
TAPPER: One of the things that's interesting is looking at statements by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, about Hillary Clinton's --
TAPPER: -- unsecure email server at her home, and that issue. Which, I mean, I think a lot of law enforcement people and even some Democrats and legal experts would say that that was reckless by her, if not criminal.
But Kevin McCarthy had a standard for her that is different from the one he applies to President Trump. But can the same not also be said, even though this Trump -- that allegations against Trump are far more serious than the ones about Hillary Clinton?
Can the same not be said about Democrats that maybe some Democrats should have taken that more seriously, because the handling of classified documents, whether President Biden, or President Trump, or Hillary Clinton, or Vice President Pence, it's all very serious and should be taken very seriously?
JAYAPAL: It absolutely is all very serious. And I know I said at the time that we needed to be concerned about any lapses in classified information and -- but I think that there are big differences, in terms of how this President, this last president actually handled this.
JAYAPAL: I mean, he was on this perhaps (ph), when the information was handed over, saying that he had no more boxes, at Mar-a-Lago. I mean, there are a number of places, where he was given an opportunity, to correct the record. He did not. And he actually continued to lie, to obfuscate, according to, again, according to what we read, today. But this is very compelling evidence.
But I don't disagree with you, Jake. I think we -- look, I have also said that we need a whole different process around --
JAYAPAL: -- how these end up leaving classified places. We need to make sure that they stay where they need to be.
TAPPER: Unquestionably, I'm not saying that it's the same thing at all, and just for anybody, any members of resistance, Twitter out there, I am not saying that that's the same thing at all. I'm just talking about the fundamental issue of classified documents.
So Congresswoman, Republican congressman, Andy Biggs, tweeted, quote, "We have now reached a war phase." Congressman Clay Higgins also had a bizarre tweet that sounded like some sort of war code for the MAGA folks out there.
You were in the House, on January 6. How concerned are you, about political violence, in the days or months ahead, and these -- this language used by your colleagues?
JAYAPAL: Well, I am very concerned, Jake.
I can tell you that today, already -- we have a group called the Gallery Group. It's the group of members that were trapped up in the gallery, on January 6th. We've gotten very close. We share a lot of things.
And when that tweet, from Clay Higgins came out, I can tell you, it caught all of our attention. We believe that it is -- it absolutely should be taken down. He should be called on to take it down. It should be investigated. It has serious war language that reminds us of some of the things that were being said prior to January 6, and that people actually followed.
Now, is this just a throwaway tweet? Is there a group that's actually following along with this tweet and planning as per the tweet? We don't know.
But this shouldn't be happening, it certainly shouldn't be happening, for members of Congress. And I think that the former President Trump is, again, relying on this kind of violent rhetoric to, quote, "Protect" him.
And so, I think it's we are -- we are watching it. I was going to say we're afraid, and I would say we're afraid for our country. And we need to make sure that this is not the kind of rhetoric that once again leads to some of the things we saw on January 6.
TAPPER: All right, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.
JAYAPAL: Thank you, Jake.
(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: And we're back now with our panel, which includes CNN Legal Analyst, Carrie Cordero; and CNN Special Correspondent, Jamie Gangel.
Jamie, what are you hearing from, FBI folks, about the indictment? Are they impressed with it? Do they hate it? What do they think?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, just to be clear, because they like to? These are former FBI.
TAPPER: Former FBI folks.
GANGEL: But they're senior people.
And the thing that's striking to them is that there is so much evidence here.
I heard from one, who was sort of on a group text with people, and they said, "We used to have to work so hard to make these cases," he said, "But Trump made it so easy for the FBI."
I think just as Andy McCabe said to me, earlier, there is an embarrassment of riches here.
And just to go back to your interview, with Chris Christie earlier, just over and over again, you have to ask, how did we get here? Why did we get here?
The National Archives, Justice Sources who said to me over and over again, if he just said, "Oops, this was a mistake. Here it is," we wouldn't be here today.
TAPPER: And what are you hearing, Carrie Cordero, from?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, 100 percent that this entire case is just a completely self-inflicted wound.
I mean, there's just there's no question about it at every opportunity that the former President had to keep himself from the legal jeopardy that he now faces, he let that opportunity go, whether it was dealing with the National Archives, whether it was dealing with the Justice Department lawyers, who kept going down there, and trying to talk to him, and get him to respond. So, he -- this is of his own doing.
I think what the evidence shows in this indictment that is so noticeable, to those of us, who've worked on national security cases before, is that it really does move the story forward, in terms of our following of the investigation, that not only did he have all this documents, not only did he keep all these boxes of information that shouldn't have been there, but that he knew what was in them. GANGEL: Right.
CORDERO: That's the key piece that comes through in the narrative of this indictment, that he knew there was classified information in them.
And the other piece that I've been looking at that I have wondered throughout the course of the investigation that I thought might push the Justice Department over that edge of making the decision that they really needed to prosecute this case, is whether or not the documents were shown to people, who did not have access, to see them, like not just that the boxes were sitting there, in places they weren't supposed to be, which is bad enough, but that he actually showed them.
And the indictment has two examples. And those are just the ones that are in the indictment. But there's two examples of circumstances, where he revealed the contents of classified information, to people, not authorized to do it. And if there was anybody else in government, they would be prosecuted for that.
TAPPER: And Marc, I just want to note that I mean, Vice President Pence, there were some classified documents in his house. I guess it was. And he alerted the authorities. And they came.
And no allegation that he did it on purpose, or that he even knew what the document was, right? Somebody else found it. And then, certainly didn't try to keep it from anybody.
GANGEL: Yes --
TAPPER: Certainly didn't show it to anybody.
I believe the same with President Biden, to be fair. We certainly haven't heard anything to the contrary. Documents have shown up here and there. I'm not saying that that excuses anything. But there's no allegation that we've heard of him knowing what the documents were, knowing that they were there, showing them to anybody, keeping them from people, et cetera. Same with Pence.
MARC LOTTER, TRUMP 2020 DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Yes, with Pence, I know, he set up a really rigorous process. And somehow, it still got in there.
The one thing I remember from obviously, my former colleagues, in the Vice President's world, is that the boxes were still sealed. They had not even been untaped and unpacked.
And when they went back, because of the documents, involving the former President, then later, the President, they said, "Let's go double-check," and they found a few more documents, and they're like, "How did these even get in here?" But they were still in the taped sealed boxes, when they left the White House --
LOTTER: -- or left the Vice President's residence. And, obviously, each of these cases is different.
LOTTER: Whether it's Joe Biden, whether it's Mike Pence, whether it's Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton. And that's where the legal aspect comes through.
As we've discussed, and I know Chris Christie, was discussing, as well, as well as Governor Sununu, it's the public -- it's the public court battle, the court of opinion, that's going to be different here, rather than the slam-dunk or the --
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well in the court --
LOTTER: -- the wealth of riches that you have in the legal case.
PHILLIP: -- in the court of public opinion, to your point, I think this is why the tape is so significant, of Trump talking about that document, in Bedminster, because it speaks to all the elements that Carrie was just laying out.
He knew that the document was there. He knew exactly which document it was. And in fact, he must have brought it with him, to Bedminster, for the purpose of using it, in that conversation. He had a point he wanted to prove, and pulled that document, from wherever it was, to show he thought that Mark Milley was really the warmonger of the group, whatever point he wanted to make.
I think that's pretty easy to understand. That's not hard to understand. And it's made worse by the fact that it's coming out of his own mouth. And he's saying, in the tape, "I know I can't show this to you. I didn't declassify it before I left. I can't declassify it now."
The difference here, I think, between this case, and really all of the others, is a bunch of elements, of just willfully and knowingly having this stuff, and then also, Trump himself actually vocalizing the elements of the charges against him.
And it's a federal court. There will be no cameras in those federal courts. But that information is out there. Those tapes are out there. And I don't think that that's going to be very difficult for people to digest.
CORDERO: Well here's --
TAPPER: Laura Coates, I want to get your reaction to this, because this is breaking news, right now.
And it's another way that Trump is different from Biden, Hillary and Pence on this is according to Kaitlan Collins, Trump is on his social media site, Truth Social, attacking Special Counsel Jack Smith, in a series of posts, despite repeated warnings, from his legal team, that everything he says on socially and publicly can be used against him.
Trump is claiming the Special Counsel is deranged, calling him a Trump-hater, labeling him a thug.
How can that be used against Trump that he's saying these things about the Special Counsel?
LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first, how utterly predictable, and yet another self-inflicted wound to one's own foot?
TAPPER: Shocking but not surprising.
COATES: Shocking but not surprising.
COATES: Although this is probably one, one of the reasons that Jack Smith does not prefer the limelight, to give additional fodder, to try to substantiate anyone's allegations, against him.
There's no indication of any of the things that have been listed on this Truth Social account, about Jack Smith. What this is, is a not so veiled attack, and trying to help people, to see the lens of Donald Trump, to undermine somebody, whose job it is to have investigated his own behavior.
And we're looking at all this. Remember, we're talking a lot about the documents and willful retention. That's the number -- but the first charge here. But there are many others, including obstruction, including conspiracy, false statements. This is all going to be before a jury at some point in time if it goes there.
And all of those activities are, if this is true, and as alleged, and they have to prove it up, this is all going to be corroborated in a courtroom, that you have the opportunity, not just to have the documents retained, but to answer truthfully, not to induce false statements, not to conspire to move documents, that they couldn't have a grand jury looking at these things. This is very, very consequential here.
COATES: And we can't lose sight of the entirety of this.
And I really, I have to tell you, I just don't buy the argument that suggests that the average American? Whatever the average American looks like, to Chris Sununu? Whatever the average American has no ability to distinguish between categories of documents that include things, about the vulnerabilities of the United States of America, and our allies, compared to documents we have not revealed in other instances?
But I think people do get and should have a lot more credit, to be able to understand that the difference between the Hillary Clinton scenario, the Joe Biden scenario, the Mike Pence and Donald Trump --
COATES: -- is an indictment.
TAPPER: Right. I don't think he was saying they don't have the capability. I think he was saying, I don't speak for him, but I think he was saying, they're not there yet. Nobody's explained it to them, in a way, and they don't have the time to read the indictment.
COATES: Isn't that the same thing, Jake?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But Donald Trump is not --
KING: -- trying, right now, to speak to 320 million Americans. Donald Trump, right now, is trying to keep 30-something percent, he hopes 36 percent or 37 percent of the Republican primary vote. That is task number one.
And so, we sit here. We're having a different conversation than Trump has. We have a different focus than Trump has. We say, "Read the indictment. Maybe have an open mind. Talk to smart people and learn."
No. Trump has done this for seven years. He attacks and attacks and attacks and attacks. Look at your inbox today. There's 20 or 30 of them in there, right?
KING: He's doing it on Truth Social.
They're going to do it every way they can communicate with their people. He'll be on the radio. He'll do it at his rallies, tomorrow. He'll be on the -- in the conservative MAGA media silo.
Why? Because he repeats it, repeats it, repeats it. He tells his people, "Do not listen to anyone, who works for the Justice Department. Do not listen to anyone, who works at the FBI. Do not listen to anyone on CNN. Do not listen to anyone in the mainstream media." And guess what? It's cynical. It's often full of things that are not true. But it works.
TAPPER: Yes, it works.
KING: It works to keep his base. That's probably -- he does this one step at a time, on purpose. And it works for him.
The question is, over time, do people read it? Do some people peel away? That's why we have elections. And we have seven months till anybody votes.
TAPPER: Just ahead, an in-depth look at the judge, who is overseeing Tuesday's trial, whose previous opinions, about this investigation, were favorable to Trump, until they were overturned.
What we know about Judge Aileen Cannon? That's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Two Sources tell CNN that the Florida federal judge, assigned, to oversee Tuesday's proceedings, against the former President, is Aileen Cannon, who was appointed, to the bench, by the former President.
More on her, and the controversy, in her recent history, with the case, from CNN's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This 42-year-old judge, from South Florida, now faces enormous scrutiny, because of her history with former President Trump.
Multiple sources, familiar with the matter, tell CNN, Federal District Judge, Aileen Cannon, has been assigned, at least initially, to oversee the criminal case, against Trump, in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If she does end up with this case, on a permanent basis, I am concerned that her bias is out there that she will not handle the case fairly.
TODD (voice-over): The concern, stemming not only from the fact that Donald Trump appointed candidate, to the federal bench, when he was President, but also from her earlier involvement, in the Mar-a-Lago documents probe.
Last year, she approved Trump's request, to block Justice Department access, to the recovered documents, until a Special Master could review them, for potential executive privilege. A ruling that even surprised legal conservatives.
BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER TRUMP: The opinion, I think, was wrong, and I think the government should appeal it. It's deeply flawed in a number of ways.
TODD (voice-over): The government did appeal Cannon's ruling. And the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned it.
If she now oversees Trump's federal criminal trial?
RODGERS: She only has to take really small steps, in order to throw this thing, off track, for the Justice Department, by delaying it until we're past the election. And Trump, of course, hopes that if he manages to get himself elected again, this case goes away, as he would direct his Justice Department, to drop it.
TODD (voice-over): But a former colleague of Cannon's, in private practice, disputes accusations that she favors Trump.
JASON MENDRO, WORKED WITH JUDGE CANNON IN PRIVATE PRACTICE: I don't think she has any bias at all. I know that she would do the right thing. TODD (voice-over): Judge Cannon was nominated, to the federal bench, by Trump in May of 2020, confirmed later that year.
During her confirmation hearing, Cannon thanked members of her family, including her maternal grandparents, who she said had to flee Cuba in 1960, and her mother.
AILEEN CANNON, FEDERAL JUDICIAL NOMINEE: To my loving mother, Mercedes, who at the age of seven had to flee the repressive Castro regime in search of freedom and security -- thank you for teaching me about the blessing that is this country and for the importance of securing the rule of law for generations to come.
TODD (voice-over): A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Aileen Cannon once practiced law, at a firm, in Washington, where she said she handled cases, related to government investigations.
She also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, in Florida, in the Major Crimes Division.
MENDRO: If I learned one thing about working with Judge Cannon, I know that she can be counted upon to work as hard as she can work to get the right answers.
TODD (on camera): We reached out to Judge Cannon's chambers, to ask for a response, to the criticism that she has been biased in favor of former President Trump. We didn't hear back.
During her confirmation hearings, she was asked, if she'd ever had any discussions, about loyalty to Trump. She decisively responded, no.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: And we'll be right back.
COOPER: It is no exaggeration to call this a day like none that we or the country has ever experienced. We've read the allegations and seen evidence, in today's indictment that had never ever been associated with any occupant or former occupant of the Oval Office before.
TAPPER: We've used phrases we've never used before, about a former President, any former President, things such as surrendering to federal authorities, and almost, certainly there's going to be more to come. COOPER: That's for sure.
That's it for us, tonight.
Jake, thanks so much. The news continues. Want to turn things over now to CNN's Kaitlan Collins, and Abby Phillip.