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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Back In New Jersey After Not Guilty Plea; Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); Soon: Trump Speaks In New Jersey After Pleading Not Guilty In Classified Docs Case. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 13, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Our special coverage continues right now with AC 360.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening from New York at the end of yet another day like none this country has ever seen before.

JAKE TAPER, CNN HOST: Good evening from Washington, Anderson and yes, today, was yet another first, courtesy of the first president ever to be impeached twice, the first ever to be found liable after leaving office for sexual abuse, and the first president ever to face state felony charges. Today, Donald Trump also, that's just -- those are three, I have a new one, Donald Trump also became the first ever to be arrested and arraigned in federal court also on felony charges.

COOPER: Thirty-seven in all, and I want to put them on the screen. They include 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information, three of withholding or concealing documents in a federal investigation, plus false statements and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

We're showing them because for all the spectacle, this is what the day will be remembered for years from now.

Donald Trump made the short trip today by motorcade from his Miami golf resort to the federal courthouse downtown where a small, but vocal crowd greeted him.

TAPPER: Inside after being booked and electronically fingerprinted, Mr. Trump was arraigned and his attorney pleaded him not guilty to all 37 charges. His co-defendant, body man, Walt Nauta entered no plea.

The former president then left the courthouse in a slow speed procession, not unlike what we saw in the OJ case, slow speed. He was under orders not to speak with Nauta about the case, although we could speak to him about other things, not to speak to potential witnesses to be named later by prosecutors.

COOPER: Nauta, however, was by the former president's side during a stop on the way to the airport at a restaurant in Little Havana where a group of clergy gathered around the former president and prayed for him. A source telling CNN the location was chosen because the Cuban community knows "all too well about political persecution." The former president clearly trying to link himself to people who have actually been persecuted in Cuba.

A short time ago, he landed at Newark Airport heading for his New Jersey golf club where he is expected to make his first formal remarks sometime within the hour.

We are not going to take his speech live, but we will of course monitor them as they come in and bring you anything that is actually newsworthy.

TAPPER: In the meantime, as we wait for the next development in the story, we are going to talk about what just happened, the historical moment and all that we are expecting to come next.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins will start us off from outside the courthouse along with CNN's Evan Perez who witnessed the arraignment today.

Kaitlan, what are your impressions of what happened today? What sticks out to you?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Jake, I think one thing reflecting on this is just the split screen of what actually happened in the courtroom according to what we know and what Trump looked like after when he was at that restaurant here in Miami, because as Evan and others who were actually in the room today told us, they said he came in. His shoulders were kind of slumped, he had his arms crossed during those proceedings as was his attorney, Todd Blanche, who was the one who pleaded not guilty on his behalf.

He did not say much, of course, as he was in that room for just under an hour, the first time that he came face-to-face with the special counsel, Jack Smith, as he is facing what even those closest to him will admit is potentially the most perilous legal trouble that he's ever been in.

But then to compare that with the bravado that he showed us, he was inside that restaurant just a short time later with his co-defendant, Walt Nauta, right by his side. Nauta, who we should note, as I've been talking to Trump allies in the hours since Trump left this we're saying they were even shocked that Trump went in there with Walt Nauta, who was the person who moved the boxes on his behalf at Mar-a- Lago containing classified information, yet did not have a Florida- based attorney there to represent him today, meaning he's going back or actually have to come back to plead not guilty. Just that split screen of what was going on inside the courtroom to what he was projecting when he was no longer in the courtroom.

TAPPER: And Evan, you were in the overflow room today, what more can you tell us about Donald Trump's demeanor, which you got to see from the overflow room?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jake. Look, the former president, as you know, does have a lot of bravado. He is a performer, he plays to the crowd, and that room was not his crowd, right?

You have a very -- obviously, a very serious occasion that the former president being arraigned on these charges, these federal charges and, you know, I think even for him, it is a meaningful thing and one of the things that I noticed is he sat there waiting for the judge for about 20 minutes or so before the judge made his way into the room, the former president sat sort of glumly.


He had his arms folded for a period, twiddling his thumbs at other parts. When some of the members of the prosecution, Jay Bratt, in particular, were sitting there, he would once in a while glance over at them, but by and large, you know, he just looked forward.

And because you know, this was an arraignment, normally, defendants get to stand up, acknowledge the judge. They get told what the charges are, if they understand the charges. In this case, they often waive the reading of the charges, Donald Trump didn't have to do any of that.

He sat there, and then Todd Blanche was the one who said -- who certainly pleaded "Not guilty, Your Honor." And so that was sort of like, again, as Kaitlan points out, a split screen moment, because he is a former president, so you know, there was a different --a disparate treatment between the two men.

TAPPER: Yes and it's a sad day. I mean, we should just acknowledge it's a sad day to have a former president of the United States arrested and arraigned.

Kaitlan, the judge told the prosecutors to make a list of possible witnesses to whom Donald Trump cannot speak about the case, unless the conversation goes through a lawyer. Did that surprise you?

COLLINS: I don't think it's surprising, but this was borne about because initially, the judge had suggested this idea of Trump not being able to speak to any of the witnesses here, which as you know, Jake, and Evan it would be very difficult given just about everyone who is around him is technically a witness in this case. They have all been called before the grand jury to talk about this.

The people who are maintenance workers at Mar-a-Lago, his own Secret Service protection, basically everyone around him has gone in and spoken about this. And so obviously, his attorney said they don't believe that's workable, given the fact that some Secret Service members went, obviously people who work for Trump and rely on him for their livelihoods.

So what they've worked out is this idea of prosecutors, the government submitting a list of witnesses that they don't want him to be able to speak to, except through attorneys, obviously, Walt Nauta, he is also not supposed to discuss this case with either except through attorneys, of course.

I think a lot of people are questioning whether or not that is going to be something that he actually follows through on.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan and Evan, thanks so much -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jake, with me here tonight from across the partisan spectrum, CNN political commentators Van Jones, Ashley Allison, Alyssa Farah Griffin, David Urban; also senior chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Laura Coates; and John Miller, CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst.

Laura, today's arraignment, did it go as you expected, and I'm wondering what you made of the judge's decision to try to limit the president's communications with certain witnesses.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It did go as expected in terms of the brevity of it and not having any evidentiary motions resolved, obviously, any motions to sever, to not have a joint trial, that's never was going to happen today. What was surprising, though, was the fact that the co-defendant who we've known about since at least last week from the indictment, did not have local counsel present to actually --

COOPER: How is it possible?

COATES: How is it possible? Well, there's two explanations. One, lack of planning and preparation or two, lack of inventory of willing attorneys to do so.

As a prosecutor, certainly, I support the Department of Justice, but you also have to reconcile the fact that every defendant needs to have counsel, they need to have great counsel.

COOPER: But the former president's supporters are a PAC along with the former president is paying for the counsel for Mr. Nauta.

COATES: They are paying for counsel, but you have to have somebody who is local, who is able to actually be in that courtroom in particular, and Florida more broadly. And that's the reason for that is because you want to have the nuance of jury selection, the rules that might be likely to be unique to the Florida court and that judge in particular, you want that.

You want robust counsel. It is no small thing to have your name on the other side of the United States' versus.

Also this notion of not communicating with one another about the nature of the case, that can be advised. One of the reasons to do so is so that you do not exploit a power dynamic of one person over the other. Another reason is because you do not want to be maybe conspiring to do something that might further obstruct or add to charges. But it's unlikely that they're going to be able to outside the joint defense claim, which essentially what you say, to acknowledge look, we have a shared interest here. What I'm looking for is to figure out in the future, whether Nauta, the co-defendant remains a co-defendant that is tried jointly with the former president of the United States. The power dynamic here is really leveraged in favor of Trump.

COOPER: David Urban, you know the former president well. Do you think he learned a lesson from Michael Cohen and that lesson being keep people who could testify against you incredibly close?


DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, actually believe it or not I actually think that the president likes Walt Nauta, just you know, Walt is an affable guy and he has spent a great deal of time in the president's company, and I think he really just actually doesn't --

COOPER: He has incentive, though, certainly to like him even more.

URBAN: Now, he has a great incentive, right? He is a potential witness against him, but I do believe that he actually just -- you know, that they get along. And if you ever see the dynamics, I mean, Walt is fixing his collar and getting in his ear, you know helping his earpiece --

COOPER: Yes, in the restaurant he was handing him a pen.

URBAN: Yes, I mean, they're kind of inextricably linked for several years now and kind of the most intimate moments, right, like, he hand him combs and brushes, and when the president is kind of most vulnerable behind the stage --

COOPER: Have they ever been more linked in an intimate and vulnerable moment than today in federal court?

URBAN: Well, absolutely. But I do believe that this is not a marriage of convenience at this point. It was, they were friends before that, and now maybe more so a marriage of convenience.

COOPER: John, we learned today that the Fulton County sheriff has sent teams both to when Mr. Trump was indicted here in New York, but also today in Miami. They were there to assess sort of security situations in case there are charges brought in Fulton County, Georgia.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So they are doing their homework, which is what are the crowds like? What are the wild cards? What is the experience like and they are comparing notes with their intelligence partners, but also their planning partners in New York and in Florida, because, you know, we have this traffic jam of cases.

You have the district attorney in New York, who has the hush money case with Michael Cohen as the witness in the Paula Jones case, you've got the documents case in Mar-a-Lago, which was dealt with today, you know, at the earliest stages. You've got the E. Jean case, which he lost in the civil thing, and is now possibly going into round two, as she seeks further damages. You've got the New York State attorney general, Tish James, with a very complex civil case about Trump overvaluing and undervaluing properties and assets for his own advantage, allegedly.

You've got all of these things with the January 6th case, the Georgia case, the voting case, which is part of the special prosecutor's brief. That's a lot to manage and schedule.

So the question is, which one of these cases is going to assume precedent? Which one of these judges is going to become the driver? And there's a good likelihood because this has made it to a to arraignment that it may be this case, that it may be Judge Cannon and then it's a question of who's going to set that aggressive schedule?

And as you've already framed, there's also this wildcard of a co- defendant, which has other dynamics.

COOPER: Alyssa, I mean, given your knowledge of the former president, I'm wondering what you saw today in him and also what today thinks -- what does this foretell about the next year?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So I think that Donald Trump is very struck by the words to Laura Coates' point of United States versus Donald Trump, I think that that carries a weight that is more significant, frankly, to him and in his mind, than frankly, the case -- the indictment in New York was.

That is a federal charge, that is a government he used to oversee that he is now being prosecuted by and I have to imagine that weight is hitting him.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, I think that he's going to be very -- he's going to be in fighting mode tonight, when he speaks to his audience and to his donors, but something interesting is happening in the Republican field.

I've been critical that Republicans didn't seize this moment. I mean, this is the best political gift you could get when you're polling 30 points behind, is for your chief opponent to get indicted. But there's a bit of a tide turning. Nikki Haley has kind of changed her remarks and said it's serious. Tim Scott has and tonight, former Vice President Mike Pence sat down with "The Wall Street Journal" Editorial Board and said these are very serious charges. I have family who are in the military, this puts them at risk.

So I think the gravity of the actual details is starting to set and to Chris Sununu's point who was on in the previous hour, this is the moment. Don't wait for the third indictment to take on Donald Trump, this is your moment, especially if you're polling down in double digits to take him on.

COOPER: Ashley, what stood out to you today?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't doubt that the former president definitely understands the weight of United States versus Trump, but I also find him very performative, because the moment that he left the courthouse, he went right back into character of pretending like nothing had ever happened.

And you often stay in character when you continue to have an audience. At some point, the audience has to start throwing rotten tomatoes at him because the show is so terrible that we want to turn the channel and I don't think it is just enough. I have been critical too that people who are in the Republican primary field should be coming out.

But I think elected officials at every level in the Senate, in the House, the governors, state legislators, we have to build a course. Republican and Democrat condemning these behaviors because I mean, you listed all the indictments and potential indictments, his rap sheet is going to be longer than his accomplishments as president. I mean, at what point when is enough, enough?



I think it's hard to understand how divided the country is on this. All my friends on the left see a very clear narrative, which is what you just said, that we have a dangerous scofflaw who stole documents that contain precious secrets that people risked their lives to get and left them in the toilet for anybody to look at, and wants to get away with it and that is a threat to the country.

And then my friends on the right say, hey, this guy is it least a martyr, if not a hero, because the system is coming down on him and he is standing up for himself and standing up for us.

And so you had the split screen moment looking at the same image, the split screen moment, and you know, I think trying to get people to understand if there is a two-tier system, it's benefiting Trump, even today. No mug shot, no bail, no bond. He can travel wherever he wants to.

I mean, who -- what person stealing stuff from the government ever got treated like this today. If it's two-tiers, it is benefiting him, but a whole section of the country does not see it that way at all.

COOPER: The arguments so many Republicans have been making and we've heard it a lot today as well on all different channels, is essentially that Donald Trump is being treated differently, but in a negative way that they point to a few of them are willing to talk about the actual charges in the indictment, Alyssa.

They're talking about Hillary Clinton's e-mails, they're talking about investigations of Hunter Biden, anything but what's in the indictment.

GRIFFIN: I think about my time working on the Oversight Committee with Jim Jordan and some of these members of Congress. If this came down that Barack Obama did this, the calls for impeachment that would have been ringing across the halls of Congress. I mean, this is as clear cut as it comes.

And I would know based on CNN's own reporting, Walt Nauta did get a mug shot. He did get the full arraignment treatment that a normal US citizen gets. Donald Trump is actually benefiting from a system that favors a former president.

MILLER: I mean, what other federal accused, alleged felon, you know, is allowed to keep his passport and declared not a flight risk when he owns his own plane.

URBAN: It's not like he's hiding anywhere, John.


COATES: Well, by the way, I mean, at some point, how many now defendants get to say, you know what, I might get a job one day, so can I now have a trial schedule that's actually going to accommodate me. I really can't have a trial that's going to last 21 days, maybe because I might get a job at some point in time. That's one of the parts I will talking with the RNC hopefuls. They're going to have to look at this and say, wait a second, he could be off the campaign trail, you have to sit in the courtroom.

Unlike the E. Jean Carroll state civil trial, he has to be there present, off the campaign trail for three weeks, nobody else would get the benefit of saying, well, let's take that into consideration.

URBAN: I was going to say he does happen to be the leading candidate for president on the Republican ticket, and right now, I think ahead in the RealClearPolitics average ahead of Joe Biden's, so you know, it's not just he's like applied for an internship someplace.

COOPER: Next, reaction from Republican defenders and critics of the former president, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, his thoughts on the day and potential payback from Republicans for his role in the Russia probe.

And later, a live report from Bedminster, New Jersey where the former president is heading and expected to make his first formal remarks tonight as a federal felony defendant.


COOPER: The former president is back in New Jersey on the way to Bedminster where he is expected to speak shortly. Just moments ago, "The Wall Street Journal" as Alyssa mentioned, published reaction from former Vice President Pence. He tells the journal the indictment includes "very serious allegations" and that he "can't defend what is alleged."

Meantime, the last several days since the indictment was unsealed, we have seen quite a few Republican lawmakers tie themselves in knots in support of the former president, some even defending his storing sensitive documents in a Mar-a-Lago bathroom saying and there is no making this up that it's okay because bathroom doors lock. Never mind that most bathroom doors only lock from the inside. I digress.

Key House Republicans meantime are planning to take their defense beyond just rhetoric. Multiple GOP sources telling us Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan is exploring ways of making special counsel, Jack Smith testify or otherwise divulge information about the probe. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is proposing Congress defund the special counsel's office, that said, it's not a united front. Here's Alaska senator, Lisa Murkowski.


SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): Pretty comprehensive I'd say condemnation of the president's actions here.

Being classified documents, and from what we understand from the indictment out there, the types of documents that were retained, and then further to the point, that when this came to his attention, he chose to not return it.


COOPER: Over on the House side, Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado offered support for the special counsel.


REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): I think the allegations are very serious. I think there were national security implications from having documents in an unsecure area. I think that the prosecutor really went into a lot of detail to explain to the American public why it was necessary to indict a former president.


COOPER: Joining us now in California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, who is facing censure from House Republicans over his role in the Trump-Russia investigation.

Congressman Schiff, I appreciate you joining us.

First of all, just big picture, what do you make of this historic arraignment today?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, it had happened, when you read the allegations in the indictment, they're so serious. The allegations are so premeditated in terms of Donald Trump's deliberate effort to hide these materials, his willingness to use his own lawyers to mislead the Justice Department.

You couldn't fail to bring this indictment if the rule of law applying equally to everyone was to mean something to the Justice Department. So it had to be done.

Nonetheless, it's a sad day when a president is again indicted, and what so many Republicans are doing to defend him by attacking the Justice Department, by sowing -- you know, an effort to sow disbelief and discredit the FBI, this is another way they're damaging the country, damaging our national security besides the risk it was already taken by having these documents in an unsecure place.

[20:25:01] COOPER: I'm wondering what you make of the arguments that many of your Republican colleagues in the House are making, the kind of what-about- ism, what about Hillary Clinton's e-mail server? What about Hunter Biden investigation of him?

SCHIFF: Well, there's always this false equivalence argument made by Republicans. What those cases never presented was evidence of a deliberate intent to misuse classified information, or to put it somewhere that it wasn't supposed to belong or to obstruct an investigation, all things that are very much present in the Trump situation.

Had Trump returned the documents, had he made no effort to hide them, had he not lied through his lawyers to investigators, he wouldn't be in this situation and it is that malicious conduct that distinguishes it from any kind of incidental use of classified information or the incidental bringing materials back after the presidency. This was anything but incidental in Trump's case.

COOPER: And that's what makes it different in your mind, but between that and former Vice President Pence or President Biden having national security documents in various locations, an attempt to deceive and an attempt to obstruct and hide.

SCHIFF: Well, absolutely. Well, first you have the president in the case of Trump, the decision to affirmatively bring these documents home, when he knew that he was not supposed to do so, you then have the effort to hide them, you have the effort to deceive investigators about them, all of the efforts to mislead and obstruct the investigation.

None of those circumstances are present in the case of Pence or of Biden or of Clinton. There was never any evidence of ill intent on any of their part. This is really what distinguishes Donald Trump. And, you know, this is someone in Donald Trump, who always believed, it was certainly most evident while he was president that he was above the law.

The law didn't apply to him, he could do what he wanted. And, you know, I think what this indictment and the arraignment show is no, actually you can be held accountable, and you are going to be held accountable.

COOPER: A handful of Republican senators have gone so far as to say that it could be a drag on Republican candidates in 2024. Do you think there could be some truth to that?

SCHIFF: Well, you know, I think, look, if they're defending the indefensible, then moderate Republicans and Independents, they are going to be disillusioned with the GOP. This was supposed to be a party of law and order and a party of national security, and they are anything but now.

They are a party that cozies up to dictators in the Kremlin, they're a party that thinks it's perfectly fine if your party leader has classified information in their bathroom. You know, they will excuse anything, including a president who incites a violent attack on the Capitol. And yes, that's going to drag their party down. What is amazing is that that Donald Trump still has any support whatsoever.

You would think with the lengthy and growing list of scandals, abuses of power, violations of law, that he would be certainly discredited for running for anything. But nonetheless, he retains a strong base of support within one of America's great political parties.

COOPER: Do you think this would go to trial before the election?

SCHIFF: You know, that's really hard to tell and it is even more difficult now that we see the judge who has been assigned this case who made some very questionable rulings in Donald Trump's favor earlier on regarding this investigation.

I have to think that any judge would probably bend over backwards to make sure they were being fair to the president in every way. This judge may take it even beyond that.

So it's hard to see. Trump says he wants to go to trial quickly, but he often says things that are at odds with the truth and are contradicted by his own lawyers. I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to draw this out as a way of trying to heighten the argument that is political, when it would be the Trump defense team trying to make this political.

COOPER: House Republicans as you well know plan to put forward a resolution that would censure and fine you in relation to the Russia investigation as soon as tomorrow. Is it clear to you what you're being accused of? And I'm wondering what your response is the allegations?

SCHIFF: Well, it's clear to me that this is, you know, extreme MAGA House members who want to distract attention from the president. They want to go after one of his perceived enemies, the one who investigated and impeached him.

This is political payback, but it's also I think, you know, frankly, quite flattering. They must view me as very effective and they want to go after me to gratify the former president, but it will do harm to the House to bring this kind of frivolous censure resolution that would fine me $16 million. It's an absurdity.

But part of the goal is to try to intimidate or so silence me or silence others who would stand up to a corrupt president, but it is certainly not going to silence me or stop me. It is just further impetus for me to do my job and hold them accountable.

COOPER: Congressman Schiff, I appreciate your time. Thank you.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Anderson, to talk more now about the intersection of politics and law, a place where the former president now seems to own yet another Trump property, I am joined by CNN's John King, Abby Phillip and Dana Bash. Also with us, Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honing, Senior Law Enforcement Analyst, Andrew McCabe, and Conservative Lawyer George Conway.

Abby, let me start with you. We've begun to see some of the Republicans running for president. Some of them offer some criticism of the former president. Obviously, Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson have been pretty strong, but we've seen Nikki Haley and today, we saw something of criticism from Vice President Pence.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think Republicans are realizing that this is a problem. It's a pretty easy case for regular voters to understand. We've been, I think, as a country talking about the significance of classified documents, how they need to be kept a secret, the importance for national security.

For most Americans, natural lives. They've been hearing about that concept. And I think spin all, spin aside what we're seeing coming from most many Republicans now, including many I should note on Capitol Hill, especially the ones with national security backgrounds, is a recognition that you cannot spin these facts away.

The courts will decide what they will, but the American public understands these details and, you know, they might still support Trump, by the way. I mean, I don't think that you should take this as Republicans necessarily walking away from Trump fully, but they're finding it difficult to defend him on these particular charges.

And that also I think speaks to not so much a primary problem for Trump, but a general election problem for him where I think, you know, this broad, middle, independent voters who are persuadable, who are looking at this, it's going to be an issue for him. And I think that's why we're seeing this shift over the last couple of days.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Now as we've been talking about the reality that Donald Trump believes, all evidence supports this, that he's being helped in the short term during the primary process by what's happening to him legally.

It is still baffling when you sort of stop and take a breath and think about it, that all of the candidates aren't saying what Chris Christie said last night, which is, I mean, never mind on the just the basics of the law, but just if you look at the politics, why wouldn't they be just kicking him as much as they can, metaphorically speaking.

Because he's in trouble, like, why wouldn't they try -- be trying to take him down? They're running against him. It really doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you just think about these other candidates and their goal is supposedly, to be the nominee and they have to beat him.

TAPPER: Well because they've been fed this diet from the conservative ecosystem that the FBI and the Justice Department are corrupt organizations and out to get Republicans.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And their voters believe that. And so that's the hard part for, quote unquote, "leaders" in the Republican Party who are trying to beat Donald Trump, which is hard enough in the Republican base -- within the Republican base.

Trump has, whether it's 35 percent, 42 percent, 50 percent support. If you go state by state, look at the very early polling, but Trump has a formidable hold, especially when you have nine other candidates in the race. So the question is what can you do about it?

But to Dan's point, I talked to senior officials in several of the other Republican campaigns tonight. I'm not saying they think Chris Christie's about to take off like a rocket. They were impressed with the case he made last night, is what I'm saying.

Where he went, he said, even if you don't trust the FBI, even if you think Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted, even if you think there's a double standard of justice in this country, does Donald Trump have the judgment and character to go back inside the Oval Office? That's the argument Christie was making.

Be mad about all those other things if you so choose. But look at Donald Trump, look at those boxes in the shower. Look at those boxes on the stage. Look at what he did as president too. Christie tried to make that argument, but is that -- does that person have the judgment and the character you want back behind the Oval Office?

And a lot of the campaigns were impressed. I'm not saying they're going to copy that, but they're all trying to figure out what to do. You know, they're all trying to figure out what do you do when you know so many of the voters are loyal to Trump, when you know, even beyond, the percentage that's loyal to Trump have doubts about the FBI. Why is that?

You know, some of it goes -- some of it is before Donald Trump, but Donald Trump puts everything on steroids, and that's why he attacks institutions every day to either solidify that or grow it. And he's been successful in growing it. It's more than half of Republicans in the late 90s said they had a positive view of the FBI. It's less than 20 percent now.

So it's a hard sell to make, but Christie tried to make it and the others are trying to find their place.

TAPPER: George Conway, what are you hearing from your fellow conservative lawyers? Are -- is there any belief that this is different from previous --


TAPPER: -- campaigns against Donald Trump?

CONWAY: Absolutely. I don't think there's any doubt in the mind of any intelligent lawyer that he is in deep do-do, to use a former president's word. He is in deep trouble. He doesn't have a defense.

[20:35:08] We've listened to this now for what? Since August. And, you know, he said a lot of things. He's had his lawyer say a lot of things and a lot of the things his lawyers said right here, sitting in this chair. And we haven't heard a valid factual or legal defense. And what is it the factual defense?

I mean, if you glom the charges together just to -- and figure -- just boil it down to what it takes to put him away on all 37 counts, you just have to show that he had the documents. Well, there's no -- there is no dispute --

TAPPER: Right.

CONWAY: -- on -- in the universe on that. He knew he had them. Well, yes, he's got the -- on tape, waving them around and talked about them. He looked through the boxes himself, one by one. The government asked for them back. Why that's documented. Asked for it back multiple times, issued a subpoena. He didn't give them back as shown by the fact that ultimately in the end when they broke -- when the FBI went into Mar-a-Lago with the search warrant, lo and behold, there were hundreds of them.

And then he lied about them. He had lawyers lie about them. There's no dispute about that. That certification issued after the subpoena, that was false. And then he was moving the boxes around. And with timestamped, we have timestamped videos showing that he moved the boxes around in anticipation of the government's visits.

There is no factual defense. We have not heard it. And the legal defense, the only legal defense you've heard is something about the Presidential Records Act, which basically in its very first provision says precisely the opposite of what Donald Trump says, which it says these documents belong to the United States of America.

So we haven't heard anything. And as for the political implications, I have to say, it's like, you know, if I were a half shameless -- I'm not -- or three quarter shameless Republican candidate for president, I'd say something like, wow, I just read this indictment and, you know -- Donald Trump -- we love Donald Trump. He's done such great things for our party and for our country.

And I served, you know, from Pence, I said, I served him loyally for four years and tried to keep him out of trouble. But he gets carried away. He gets carried away. He's a good Christian man, but he gets carried away. And what we have to do is he, you know, the deep state is fake tapper and the fake news are all out to get him. That's absolutely right.

They're lying about him. But Democrats, shifty shafer (ph), they're out to get him. And the woke mob absolutely hates him, but he makes it too easy for them. So we, you know, God bless Donald Trump. I know he's going to get mad at me for saying all this but, you know, I love him. I hope he forgives me for saying this, but we need to move on and we need not to make it so easy for the left.

I don't know why they -- PHILLIPS: They will. I think Lindsey Graham said all that you said,

except for that last part --

CONWAY: Right.

PHILLIPS: -- about we need to move on, I think that's the -- it's the last piece, that's where they don't want to go. Many of them are saying --


PHILLIPS: -- that, you know, he's making it too easy for the other side.

TAPPER: What are you expecting to hear as a defense in court --


TAPPER: -- not on Truth Social?

HONIG: So I read this indictment the first time, and as I said to you on air, I was very impressed with it. I remain impressed with it. It is one of the best crafted, best supported indictments that I've ever seen. And then I read it again and I did what good prosecutors do, which is you say, well, what's the other guy going to say? And I came up blank.

I mean, similar to George. I can't think of -- no, that said, let's not assume he is just going to go in there with nothing. The lawyers on this case, Todd Blanche, in particular, who I worked with at the Southern District of New York, are very good lawyers. They will come up with something, and in fairness, they've only just been added to the case. All we've seen is in the indictment.

But here's the best defense of this case. Do not have to defend this case, meaning, to delay it. And to me, watch that. Watch the battle over the calendar because if Donald Trump and his team can get this thing dragged out beyond the election, which I think is a, not certain, but a very good chance, and he wins, it's over. If he loses, he's going to get trapped.

TAPPER: But not just if he wins, Andy McCabe, because also, I think what we're going to hear is a lot of pressure on Republican presidential candidates to say, no matter what they think, even if they do with the, bless his heart speech that you just did, George, that they'll pardon him for the good of the country. They'll a preemptive Gerald Ford.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely. There's no question for all those reasons. Time is on his side and the delay that's his number one tactic. I think we've also seen some signals of arguments that he will make. I don't mean to suggest any of these would be particularly effective defenses, but we expect to see a motion regarding alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

This claim that one of the DOJ lawyers made an inappropriate or improper comment to Walt Nauta's lawyer during the course of trying to convince him to cooperate.

TAPPER: Saying that I hear you put your -- you're up for a judgeship or something.

MCCABE: That's right.


MCCABE: That's right. Now it's, I think, highly unlikely that even if those comments are deemed to have been, you know, improper or what have you, it's not -- doesn't seem like the kind of thing that would get the entire case thrown out simply because it was a comment to Walt Nauta's lawyer, not Walt Nauta, who'd never actually agreed to cooperate. So it's seems a little attenuated.


But in addition to that, I think we can expect to see a full-throated attack on the use of Evan Corcoran's notes. There's some very powerful evidence against Donald Trump in the words of his own attorney. That relationship that they had, the attorney-client relationship is, as we know, pierced by the Justice Department's motion. I suspect they'll go right at that decision and try to get all that evidence excluded.

KING: This is why these conversations are why the campaigns are all trying to rethink as they go, every hour trying to rethink, what are we going to do here?


KING: How hard is this? What should we do? Because they all do understand that the Iowa caucuses, the date's not set yet. But by the time we get to March, we either stop Donald Trump or you don't. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina.

If Donald Trump wins two of those three, just like he did in 2016, he might have 42 percent here, 28 percent there.


KING: Then the snowball's down the hill, and so they're all trying to figure out when is this going to be and they're not going to know for a long time.

MCCABE: That's right.

TAPPER: Yes. Very, very interesting. The former president has just arrived at his Bedminster property and we are waiting for former President Trump to make his first formal remarks since the indictment.

Plus, what John Dean and Carl Bernstein, who have been a part of or reported on so much history themselves, make of this historic and historically sad day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: The former president has just arrived at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey. As we've mentioned, he's expected to speak shortly. We are not going to take it live, but we'll monitor it and run anything that might be newsworthy for you. Unsurprisingly, he'll be addressing a fundraiser panel. And he's expected to speak shortly.


We are not going to take it live, but we'll monitor it and run anything that might be newsworthy for you. Unsurprisingly, he'll be addressing a fundraiser perhaps. Also unsurprising, the campaign has already sent out a mass emailing fundraising on the indictments.

CNN Kristen Holmes is at Bedminster for us tonight. So what do you expect from the former president tonight? It sounds like a ruckus crowd.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, I think the president is -- the former president is walking out right now. Yes, you can see him right there. Look, we expect this crowd to be very supportive of him. It is, not only his staunchest allies, but as you notice some of his highest donors.

One of the things that we've been reporting is that Trump has had problems this cycle with a lot of high-profile donor defections. So he really needs this crowd. He needs to be talking to this group, and we expect him to make this extremely political as we have seen, to say that this is election interference, that this is Democrats trying to go up against him because he is the front runner for the 2024 Republican nomination.

It will remains to be seen if he will say anything about his experience in court today. Now, I will note just a moment ago, right before Trump came out, we saw a number of his staffers who had flown on the plane with him that included his top campaign advisers. Notably not there was Walt Nauta.

Now there are other people in this crowd that I've seen who testified in front of the grand jury. So there are a lot of questions as to whether or not these people are going to be on that witness list that you can't communicate with about the case. And it just became very clear when I was here today that there's going to be very, very difficult for the former president because he's kept such a tight inner circle since he left office.

So a lot of questions as to how exactly that will work. And one person, one source pointed out to me that many of these people are lower level staffers. And it's complicated to have them try to not talk about the case if Donald Trump were to bring it up, for example.

So a lot of questions as to how exactly this will work, but of course, we'll be keeping our ear to the ground to see how this speech plays out as well.

COOPER: Kristen Holmes, appreciate it. Thanks. We'll be monitoring your remarks and bring you any if they're (INAUDIBLE). Thanks so much. Jake?

TAPPER: Anderson, as we have mentioned, the former president once again made history today becoming the very first former president of the United States of America to ever be arrested and arraigned in a federal court and the first to face federal charges.

Before heading into court today, Mr. Trump wrote on his social media site, quote, "One of the saddest days in the history of the country", unquote. I think that that's true, although, probably not in the way he intended it.

Joining me, two people who know about another sad and historic moment, the Watergate scandal. Legendary investigative journalist and author of "Chasing History: A Kid in The Newsroom", Carl Bernstein. Also with me, is CNN Contributor and Former Counsel for the Nixon White House, John Dean.

Carl, first, I just want to get your reaction to what happened today, these historic images out of Miami. Donald Trump arriving at the courthouse. What went through your mind watching it all?

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: That we are being tested in this country in a way that we never have been before. That our political institutions are being tested, the Republican Party is being tested. That the judicial system is being tested. That all of the elements of who we are as a people are being tested as a result of one man's recklessness.

One man's not caring about what he does as president of the United States to the country, but rather his own interests throughout his presidency and the recklessness, and disregard for truth, for established procedure. And what's so stunning to me today is to hear from the Republican Party.

And this is one of the great differences with Watergate where the Republican Party eventually coalesced against Richard Nixon and said a criminal president of the United States had to leave office. We don't see that happening now. Rather what we see is this indictment, Trump's fellow Republicans are saying, yes, he did it.

It's evident from the indictment. He did it. He did those things. It's incontrovertible, and yet they're trying to make the issue, the judiciary, the president of the United States, Hunter Biden, Hillary Clinton. What about the criminal acts that are incontrovertible in this document --


BERNSTEIN: -- and made so clear in that courtroom.

TAPPER: John Dean, the former president's co-defendant, Walt Nauta, is an interesting figure in all of this. He did not enter a plea today. He did not have an attorney from Florida. His arraignment will be later this month. What do you make of that? Donald Trump shows up with attorneys, they are co-defendants, Walt Nauta does not have an attorney?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I remember when there was another group of co-conspirators who after Watergate, certainly went their own direction and did not hang out together. So it's kind of surprising. And I think if he had a good lawyer, he'd be telling him that he ought to be doing his own thing and strike his own pose.

So it was a little bit confusing that he is hanging and tidy. I guess he's still employed by Mr. Trump. He's still his valet and he doesn't seem to appreciate that Mr. Trump is the one who got him in the whole heap of trouble he's in and he is in a heap of trouble. So it was unusual today.


TAPPER: I remember the saying, the aphorism, no man is a hero to his valet. But that might not be true when the case of Mr. Nauta. He might actually still be quite enamored of Mr. Trump.

John, who do you think the obstruction case is more clear-cut against? Walt Nauta or Donald Trump?

DEAN: Well, with a conspiracy, all you have to do is show that there is a mutual agreement, either openly or by tacitly to commit a criminal act. I think they're -- it's the evidence that's pretty strong. They both agreed to undertake these activities and did the first step -- in fact, they did many steps to implement the conspiracy.

So I think that charge is going to be very easy. It's a favorite of the federal prosecutors. They use 18 U.S.C. 371 regularly, and that's the one they're charged under. So I think that the conspiracy count is probably equal. I think the obstruction count is certainly stronger against Mr. Trump.

TAPPER: Carl, immediately after his arrest and arraignment, Donald Trump stopped at a Cuban American Cafe in Miami where he was greeted by supporters or greeted by religious leaders. They had a little prayer circle for him. Then he flew to New Jersey. He's holding a fundraiser in Bedminster this evening. Does this behavior surprise you at all?

BERNSTEIN: Not in the least. There's every bit of evidence that this event, that these indictments, plural and others, in all likelihood to come, work to his advantage so far in terms of who Republican voters are. There was just some comment a couple moments ago about when Iowa, the primary, the caucuses and primaries there in New Hampshire occur.

Everybody I've talked to, Republicans, and I've talked to more Republicans today than I have Democrats, see that this is working to Trump's advantage electorally. But there are some subtle shifts. We heard Chris Sununu tonight on this earlier broadcast, and he makes great sense.

But our fellow Republicans going to go along and dump Trump, we don't see much evidence of that. And a really horrible thing is, what does the Republican Party stand for today? If this law and order party is willing to go along with a president who has broken the law throughout his presidency, who is being indicted in multiple cases with incontrovertible evidence of what he did, might he be acquitted by a jury? Sure.

But is the evidence there, has it been there in terms of what he did? Let's look at January 6th. We know what he did. Republicans know what he did. So the question becomes, what about the rule of law in this country? And is one party ready to scuttle the principle of the rule of law being paramount in our culture and in our politics?

TAPPER: John Dean, the former president is quoted in the indictment saying, quote, "I don't want anybody looking through my boxes", unquote. And also, quote, "Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything here?" These are comments he made to his attorneys.

There's also apparently an audio recording of him telling Mark Meadow's autobiographers that the document he is showing them is secret, that he could -- when he was president, he could declassify it. But since he's no longer president, he had no ability to do so. Do you see any parallels to the Watergate tape where Nixon has heard plotting with his chief of staff?

DEAN: Well, of course, almost virtually every conversation that Nixon had, he had over 1,000 conversations that were recorded. Some of them as short as five minutes. Some of them eight hours, one of them, where he's talking about Watergate.

So the volume certainly is much vaster with Nixon, but these are quite incriminating and very powerful evidence. The ones that they've got. Some of those, the tapes, are Mr. Corcoran himself, giving his recollection of meetings and apparently simultaneously with the events are relatively close based on notes, those are going to be contested.

I'm sure in this criminal trial, they'll probably try to get those thrown out as George Conway was suggesting. I think that's one of their strategies to get eliminate those. So anyway, tapes are always very powerful for juries and there were about 12 of them were played during the trial of Haldeman, Erlichman, Mitchell at all who were Nixon's closest aide, and they were very persuasive to the jury.


TAPPER: John Dean, Carl Bernstein, thank you so much.

CNN's coverage on this historic day and the historic arraignment of the former president continues.

COOPER: That's right up next. Kaitlan Collins and Jake Tapper will have more reaction on this unprecedented day from New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also a former federal prosecutor in Florida and others.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: In the nearly 234 years of the American presidency, no former president has ever had to answer to anything more daunting than the verdict of history. Tonight, former President Trump returned to his club in New Jersey having made history by becoming the first former president to ever face federal charges.

Good evening from Miami. I'm Kaitlan Collins, along with Jake Tapper in Washington.

TAPPER: And Kaitlan, there in the federal courthouse behind you, Mr. Trump answered to 37 felony criminal counts, all connected with keeping federal documents, some highly classified and conspiring to obstruct federal investigators who wanted those documents back.

A lot of firsts today, the first former president ever to surrender to federal authorities. The first former president to ever be fingerprinted by authorities. The first to go before a federal magistrate for arrest and arraignment, the first ever to face years in prison if convicted.