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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Indicted In January 6 Probe, Appears Before Judge Thursday; Pence On Trump Indictment: "Anyone Who Puts Himself Over The Constitution Should Never Be President; GOP Presidential Candidate Asa Hutchinson Reacts To Trump's Indictment In 2020 Election Probe. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 01, 2023 - 20:00   ET


GEORGE CHIDI, SUBPOENAED IN TRUMP'S GEORGIA GRAND JURY PROBE: And they've done that and I think it's extremely clever, so that any given grand juror can say, well, I'm not on the grand jury that's looking at the Donald Trump stuff. And that's clearly to avoid harassment because harassment has been an issue.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It certainly has for many involved in what's been going on in Georgia, and hopefully, it won't be for you if you do appear and tell your story, as I'm grateful you shared with us.

Thanks so much, George.

CHIDI: Happy to be here.

BURNETT: All right, and thanks so much to all of you. I'll be back later tonight.

Our breaking news coverage continues now with AC 360.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: For the first time in this country's history, a former president of the United States has been charged with felonies allegedly committed while he was president.

I'm Anderson Cooper here in New York along with Jake Tapper in Washington.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, the indictment charges Donald Trump with four counts. You see them there on your screen, allegedly motivated by one single goal, one that is antithetical to any functioning democracy, the peaceful transition of power, quoting from the indictment now: "Despite having lost, the defendant, Donald Trump, was determined to remain in power."

COOPER: We learned of the indictment in the five o'clock hour today, shortly after Special Counsel Jack Smith made a brief statement. Here it is now in full.


JACK SMITH, SPECIAL COUNSEL: Good evening. Today, an indictment was unsealed, charging Donald J. Trump with conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to disenfranchise voters, and conspiring and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding.

The indictment was issued by a grand jury of citizens here in the District of Columbia. And it sets forth the crimes charged in detail. I encourage everyone to read it in full.

The attack on our nation's Capitol on January 6, 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy. As described in the indictment, it was fueled by lies, lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the US government, the nation's process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election.

The men and women of law enforcement who defended the US Capitol on January 6 are heroes. There are patriots and they are the very best of us. They did not just defend a building or the people sheltering in it. They put their lives on the line to defend who we are as a country and as a people. They defended the very institutions and principles that define the United States.

Since the attack on our Capitol, the Department of Justice has remained committed to ensuring accountability for those criminally responsible for what happened that day.

This case is brought consistent with that commitment. And our investigation of other individuals continues. In this case, my office will seek a speedy trial, so that our evidence can be tested in court and judged by a jury of citizens.

In the meantime, I must emphasize that the indictment is only an allegation and that the defendant must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

I would like to thank the members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who are working on this investigation with my office, as well as the many career prosecutors and law enforcement agents from around the country who have worked on previous January 6 investigations.

These women and men are public servants of the very highest order, and it is a privilege to work alongside them.

Thank you.


COOPER: A short time later, camera crews caught up with the attorney general, Merrick Garland, who was in Philadelphia and had these brief remarks.


MERRICK GARLAND, US ATTORNEY GENERAL: Jack Smith, a special counsel to take on the ongoing investigation in order to underline the department's commitment to accountability and independence. Mr. Smith and his team are experienced, principled career agents and prosecutors, have followed the facts and the law wherever they lead.

Any questions about this matter will have to be answered by the filings made in the courtroom.


COOPER: The former president will be arraigned Thursday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Washington.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Paula Reid, and Evan Perez are there for us tonight.

So Kaitlan, what's the reaction from the former president's allies?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, of course they are not happy about this, Anderson. They were bracing for this and believed it was going to come today. They were waiting like we were to see what the actual charges were and then former President Trump was informed late this afternoon after that indictment had been returned that he was indeed the person who had been indicted there.


Obviously, they did not say his name or his initials in the courthouse earlier today. He has been lashing out personally asking why he wasn't indicted on these charges two-and-a-half years ago.

Of course, Anderson, two-and-a-half years ago would have been right after January 6 had happened, and so this is an investigation into a former sitting president. It took quite some time, clearly, as we've seen how this has played out.

His campaign for their party is also comparing it to the Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, essentially referring back to the 1930s, in a statement saying that it's a political persecution as they were arguing it. That's the comparison they made before the indictment had actually come down.

The reality of this is that he is now facing his second set of federal charges, while he is in the midst of being the Republican frontrunner and in the middle of this campaign, and he is very clearly going to tie it back to the campaign.

Another defense that he's making is that he was just listening to the advice of attorneys. Of course, we see how they are the ones that are referenced here as unnamed, but listed co-conspirators in this case, and that is one thing that his allies are wondering, which is why those people who were named in this indictment, but not indicted themselves, were not done so yet.

We've talked to many of them, the ones that we believe they are, they have said that they have not received target letters yet for the most part that we have heard and that is a question that his own legal team still has tonight about when that is going to happen, given of course, the allegations in this indictment.

COOPER: Paula, in terms of the indictment. I mean, it is a stunning document and Jack Smith was urging everybody to actually read it, what was expected. What if anything you think was unexpected.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, Anderson, the charges that we're seeing here were very much expected based on what the former president indicated, was in the target letter that he received. You know, conspiring to obstruct proceedings, conspiring to defraud the United States, and even that civil rights charge. That was not a surprise.

What was a surprise, especially because three of these are conspiracy charges, is the fact that under his name, there's about six inches, and it's blank. The fact that no one else was charged, while they did list six co-conspirators, it was still somewhat surprising that no one else was charged today, but of course, we know the investigation continues.

And lastly, there's not a lot of new information here. This has been this issue, this day, the lead up to January 6 has been exhaustively investigated, and there are not many new details.

And unlike the Mar-a-Lago indictment where you have the sensational pictures, you had a pretty, at times just shocking and somewhat entertaining story, really supporting some very serious criminal charges. This indictment, it is pretty difficult if you're not an attorney to really follow the entire conspiracy. So it's not clear if it's really going to break through to regular voters.

COOPER: Evan, I mean, it is, if you read this document, though it does point by point address a number of the lies that the former president has told or has repeatedly told. I mean, it goes in order of how many people in the former president's orbit explained to him why what he was saying was a lie and was factually incorrect.

I mean, no one reading this document of the people all around the former president from you know, his own attorneys, the Department of Homeland Security, security people, senior leaders of the Justice Department, his own Justice Department, the vice president -- all of these people explained to him why what he was saying was not true. And yet, he just stopped listening to them and moved over to the Giuliani's and the Sidney Powell's.


Anderson, look, I think -- that is I think part of the focus of what I think Jack Smith and the prosecution are trying to portray to prove that despite the fact that the former president has a right or he had a right to challenge the election result he has a right to lie, right, and to say that there was fraud. He had all of those rights.

What he doesn't have a right to do is to concoct a scheme to defraud the United States, to have this conspiracy to try to deprive the citizens of their right to have their vote counted. And so that's what they go through chapter and verse. And what prosecutors sort of draw a picture here of, is of someone who was being told, as you pointed out by his vice president, by his White House counsel, by his intelligence community, by the Homeland Security Department, the people who do the protection of the election system, all of whom were responsible for securing the election, all of whom he picked, right?

These are people he chose, all of them telling him the truth, and then he continued to listen to the people who are saying, you know, that there were Italian satellites or Venezuela or China that were responsible for fictional fraud and so, that's how prosecutors are trying to draw the picture that Donald Trump even if he is claiming to this day, right, that there was fraud, that he knew better. He was -- he is absolutely lying when he was concocting these claims.


COOPER: Kaitlan, the former president has been summoned to federal court in Washington for his initial appearance Thursday. Do you have any sense of how that will play out? What he'll be doing in the meantime? And will he actually go?

COLLINS: I think that's the big question that we have not gotten answered yet whether he's actually planning to show up, what the logistics of that are going to look like here.

Obviously, we've seen a trial run of this before when it happened in Miami. Trump's attorney, John Laura will be on with mem I should note, in just a little bit. Obviously, we will be asking him those questions of what exactly that looks like because we know John Laura, his new attorney who has only been added to the team in recent weeks, he and Todd Blanche are going to be the ones who are handling this case now that it has become actual charges that have been brought down.

And so I think it's a question of what Thursday actually looks like, but we've already seen what Trump has been saying online, if you want to guess what he is going to be saying over the next 48 hours or so.

I will note the what's different here about this indictment, these federal charges that he's facing, is that the indictment was unsealed almost immediately. You've got to read through it yourself and see what is laid out here in detail by Jack Smith and his team.

Anderson, that wasn't the case the last time Trump was indicted. I mean, of course, you and I were on air that night when he told us about the indictment in the documents investigation. There was a kind of a vacuum where we had not seen the indictment yet. And so it was Trump's legal team who were kind of filling the void there making their argument before we saw the government's argument.

This is different here, obviously, you can read in this and that's what Jack Smith encourage people to do when he made that rare statement earlier.

COOPER: Paula, you mentioned the co-conspirators the people mentioned, but not actually charged yet. The special counsel made a point of saying this investigation continues. Is it clear to you what areas he's still looking into?

REID: Well, we know from our reporting that they have looked into fundraising, possible campaign finance violations, fundraising off of statements and claims that they knew were not true. That's clearly not charged here. It's unclear if it will be.

We also know that the special counsel will be speaking to several new witnesses over the next few weeks. Those witnesses include the former New York Police Commissioner, Bernie Kerik, who worked very closely with Rudy Giuliani on his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

We also know of at least one former Trump attorney who is going to go in and speak to investigators. These are not anticipated grand jury appearances. These are interviews with prosecutors, but it's clear they're continuing to gather evidence.

It's not just him saying yes, we continue to investigate. We see exactly what steps they're taking and if any of those co-conspirators, even though they weren't charged today, doesn't mean they cannot be charged in the future, and I don't think any of them should be sleeping too easy right now.

COOPER: Yes. I appreciate it, all from DC. Let's go back to Jake -- Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson.

With me here in studio, CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Andrew McCabe; as well as CNN's Abby Phillip, Dana Bash, and Jamie Gangel; also CNN senior chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Laura Coates.

So let's just talk about some of what's in this indictment. First of all, we should note, Dana. What is being alleged is no short of a criminal conspiracy. And in fact, it really resembles in many ways that closing statement we heard from then Congresswoman Liz Cheney, about the degree to which this was not just happenstance and it wasn't just chaos.

It was a concerted effort with many conspiracists coming up with various ways to try to overturn the results of a free and fair election.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: From state to state to state, details from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania and beyond, and then the climax, of course, is what the former president did with regard to his then vice president and yes, you're absolutely right, the January 6 committee plowed a lot of this ground for the special counsel and his office, but they didn't talk to Mike Pence.

Mike Pence wouldn't do it. He did speak to the special counsel. And some of the most detailed and new anecdotes in this indictment are in and about what happened between Donald Trump and Mike Pence in conversation after conversation including a Christmas call saying, Mike, you've got to do this, going on as they got closer to the actual day of January 6th, pushing the vice president, the then vice president to overturn the election.

And the fact that Mike Pence had notes in this indictment. It said that some of the quotes in here were from Mike Pence's contemporaneous notes that he took at the time.

It is really, really stunning in that it turns the corner to the then president not having the sway with Mike Pence in private and taking it public and we all know what happened then.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And one of the things that you heard, Paula talking about is just how dense this indictment is, but the reason it's so dense is because they're really methodically going through point by point, date by date, all of the actions and then reactions.

And what struck out to me was the way in which it would detail Trump being told specifically that a specific claim was false. That, for example, that Georgia, that there were dead voters or that the votes were not being brought in from nowhere.

His own chief-of-staff telling him that a specific claim about Georgia votes was not true, and then the very next day, he goes out and amplifies or spreads those false claims, or in some cases, very shortly after something has been told to people, Trump or co- conspirators in this case, that they that those things were untrue.

You know, you know, Rudy Giuliani, who is sort of unnamed as a co- conspirator here, picks up the phone and calls state lawmakers and says, I need you to do this, I need you to cast more doubt on the election results.

So they're really detailing, not just words, I think what we are already hearing from Trump's lawyers is that how are they going to prove that Trump didn't just genuinely believe that, that he wasn't just using his First Amendment rights, so to speak.

What the what the special counsel does in the indictment is say, he was told first of all, by people close to him who he trusted and then he went out and did things, not just said things, but did things that are alleged here to be violations of the law.

TAPPER: And one of the things we should just know, because you talked about the degree to which former Vice President Mike Pence cooperated with the special counsel, he did not cooperate with the January 6 committee. In between, of course, he did sell a book in which he did give some of his for profit, his version of events.

Pence today issued a statement and I'd like to read some of it. I'm not sure if we have the full screen ready. He said: "Today's indictment serves an important reminder. Anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be president of the United States. Our country is more important than one man. Our Constitution is more important than any one man's career. On January 6, former President Trump demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution, I chose the Constitution and I always will."

Now look, Trump and his minions will note that Mike Pence might not even make the debate in August. He might not have enough support, but his statement is accurate. I mean, this is not a matter of opinion. I mean, the first part is, but the idea that the Constitution is supposed to be more important than any one man's career, that is empirically true.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: That's true. There are also some points in there that are clearly political points that he shouldn't be the party's nominee and run for president again.

TAPPER: Right.

GANGEL: To me, though, what is interesting is we're already seeing across the board, the Republican talking points and there is always a phrase you hear, this time, it's two-tiered justice system.

Kevin McCarthy put out a statement, he really didn't even talk about the indictment. He talked about Hunter Biden. And I think we're going to see that over and over again.

And just one of the things I found striking look, this is as Dana said, what the January 6 Committee laid out, and it's clear that this special counsel, he did not go broad. He has -- this is a narrow indictment of things where he thinks he can get a conviction, but Donald Trump is front and center from the very first page, just the way it's phrased that Trump "enlisted co-conspirators." He is the boss of this, he is the one in charge.

TAPPER: And in fact, let's talk about one of those co-conspirators because co-conspirator four, I believe, yes, Jeffrey Clark. He is the individual who is alleged and we've known about this for some time, Trump had told him he would be acting attorney general. He would make him acting attorney general.

And in fact, there's even a White House visitor log in which he's identified as Attorney General Clark, and he is -- well let me just read from this. This is on Point 78, Paragraph 78: "On January 2, 2021, just four days before Congress' certification proceeding, co- conspirator four, (that's Jeffrey Clark) tried to coerce the acting attorney general (that's Jeffrey Rosen) and acting deputy attorney general (that's Richard Donoghue) to sign and send Clark's draft letter which contained false statements to state officials."

"He told them that Donald Trump was considering making him (Clark) the new acting attorney general."


But that Clark would decline the Trump's offer if Rosen and Donoghue would agree to send the proposed letter to the targeted states, but they refused.

That is an allegation of a criminal act to commit fraud against the United States. LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Indeed, it is. It is part of the factual predicate, as they say behind all of this, and it has to mean -- sometimes cases, come down to one question, why? Why did you do engage in all of this behavior? Conspiracies, you talk a lot about that phrase, the meeting of the mind.

A conspiracy, really at its core, asks the jurors to understand the why. What was the purpose? Why were you agreeing? Why did you want as they articulate in the actual indictment, the purpose of the conspiracy was to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election.

Going to the why? Because then certain things would happen. Why would you have co-conspirators? Why would they buy into it? Why would they go along? Why would they be enticed to engage in what is alleged to be criminal activity?

Well, there's a bit of a carrot at the end of that stick, is they are not. It is the idea of trying to maybe become the attorney general of the United States. If I buy into this, I now have some skin in the game.

And so part of the reason you're not seeing the charges, for example of heroes of maybe First Amendment Defense, they might want to raise or as they say, have every right to criticize, every right to call into question. He had every right to, at times even lie, but if the purpose of the conspiracy was to do something unlawful, which according to allegations, it was, the jury, and all the presentation of evidence will have to be answering that why and every co- conspirator that is named or unnamed at the moment, but are referenced in this case is going to go back in that continue to thread, why?

Why are you part of this? And he now in terms of allegation, it becomes increasingly clear that he had some benefit of that bargain.

TAPPER: And what's interesting also about this, Andy McCabe, former deputy FBI director, is the allegation about the fake electors, and the idea that this is not just an organic protest in seven states where people said, well, you know what, I feel like I support Trump, and therefore, I'm going to pretend to be an elector; that it was organized, and it talks about how Trump, this is on Page 5 of the indictment, how Trump and the co-conspirators organized these fraudulent slates.

They didn't just spontaneously happen. They organized and it said that the strategy, "included causing the fraudulent electors to meet on the day appointed by federal law in which legitimate electors were to gather and cast their votes, cast fraudulent votes for Trump, signed certificates, falsely representing that they were legitimate electors."

And then it says, "Some of these fake electors," and I'm just quoting here, "were tricked into participating based on the understanding that their votes would be used only if Trump succeeded in the lawsuits within their state, which he never did. So this is not only, I mean, as always with Donald Trump, he is often committing these offenses, not just against the American people, but against his own supporters.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's right. That's right. That's why the election or the electoral scheme is so fascinating. There are so many specific tangible acts that took place in the course of that scheme.

It didn't rely simply on coercive phone calls or things like that. They actually started with, if you believe the allegations, the legal theory, right, which evolved into an overt plan to submit fraudulent electors to replace --

TAPPER: We're having issues with your microphone, I'm sorry. So we're going to fix that. But let's keep talking about this, Dana Bash, because the idea of these fake electors is fascinating, because it's beyond just Rudy Giuliani going out and lying, which we saw a whole lot of, or Donald Trump on Twitter or wherever going out and lying.

It is lying to specific groups of people in order to have the conspiracy succeed, lying to legislators, lying to fake electors and trying to get all of the stage set, so that either Vice President Pence or some legislators or a member of Congress could object and say, hey, you've got these fake electors here. This just -- you know, we need to send this back to the states.

BASH: It is really stunning, especially with a group of people that didn't necessarily seem like they could get it together to, you know, find evidence or to get a scheme together that was this elaborate, but they certainly did.

And they tried to, the way this is described in state after state after state and the slate of fake electors is one of the things I agree with you that is the most troubling for just the basics of democracy, not only because they lied to the people who they were talking to when they thought that this would only happen if they won in court.


But also because this was an early move to get to the point where they hoped they could convince going back to Mike Pence, him, to throw out the real slates of electors and put in these fake electors and therefore, keeping Trump in the White House.

TAPPER: Why is it do you think, Jamie Gangel, that the only legal action we've seen against these fake electors has been as of now, in Michigan.

The Michigan Attorney General Nessel, she has brought charges, but there were these fake electors in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania -- like why haven't we seen the attorneys generals in those states doing the same thing?

Although Fani Willis in Georgia may well do so in her Atlanta investigation.

GANGEL: I would stress the words, as of now. We are beginning to hear that other investigations have picked up. We've been -- we've heard that in Arizona, the attorney general there has now started investigation.

So I think we will see more of those, and those can be very important, because if there are charges against Donald Trump in a state. If you can connect Donald Trump and he becomes president again, he cannot pardon himself if he is convicted in a state case as opposed to a federal case.

TAPPER: Andy, I'm told you your microphone is working. So the point you were making, again about the depths of the conspiracy and how much is in this document. Let me just take a step back.

Now having read this 45-page document, as a law man, what are your impressions of the case that he's bringing forward?

MCCABE: It's vast, it's detailed. It clearly took a strong roadmap from the January 6 Committee, a lot of the things that we're reading about here we've heard in the hearings, and read in the committee report.

There were a couple of things that jump out to me. There has been a lot of talk about Mark Meadows and whether or not what his role may have been as a cooperating witness in the course of the investigation.

He is very clearly referred to in the document as the defendant's chief-of-staff, so not referred to as a co-conspirator. So I think that lends a lot of credence to the theory that he is working with or cooperating with or has provided significant information to Jack Smith and his team.

TAPPER: Yes, and just to interject for one second. There is a part where he is, I think that -- Mark Meadows, I think is in Georgia, and he texts Donald Trump, I am misquoting because I don't have it right in front of me, but paraphrasing here, but it's something along the lines of everything here is airtight. The Georgia officials know what they're doing.

That could only have come from either Donald Trump or Mark Meadows. We know it didn't come from Trump. So --

MCCABE: That's exactly right --

PHILLIP: To then lie about exactly the thing that Mark Meadows witnessed with his own eyes.

TAPPER: We are going to come back and have more of this conversation.

Let me throw it back to Anderson.

COOPER: All right, thanks very much. Joining us as well, CNN political commentator Van Jones, former federal prosecutor, Jessica Roth, former federal prosecutor now, CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Hoenig, along with CNN political commentators, Alyssa Farah Griffin, David Urban and Geoff Duncan.

Listen, David have worked for the former president, Geoff Duncan is the former Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia.

I want to start with the two attorneys over here. Elie, I mean, you've had time now to absorb this. There's so much detail on this. And yes, it can be hard to wade through but it is fascinating.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, you know, we've been referring to this as sort of shorthand for two-and-a-half years now as January 6, the January 6 case, the January 6 indictment, but this indictment is largely not about the actual events of January 6, 2021. It's a last chapter, maybe a footnote.

But really what this indictment is focused on is the fraud scheme that predated this, over the prior months and weeks leading up to January 6th and this is a masterwork, prosecutorially.

I mean, I've read countless indictments, this is remarkably persuasive and the fundamental point that they're getting across is there is such thing as truth and there is such thing as knowing what the truth is and there is such thing as knowing that you're telling a lie, and you can only bury your head in the sand for so long and that is crucial, because that's going to go to Donald Trump's intent and this whole ballgame is going to swing on that point.

COOPER: Jessica?

JESSICA ROTH, NEW YORK CARDOZO LAW SCHOOL LAW PROFESSOR: And I would add on to that that indictment commit though to the proposition that Donald Trump knew that he was telling lies, but it goes on to say that even if a person thinks that they had won an election for an example, there are lawful means available to them to pursue that theory. They can ask for a recount, they can contest the election in court, which Donald Trump did and lost.

COOPER: All of which the former president did.

ROTH: And that is recounted in the indictment.

COOPER: They even pointed out that he has the right to tell lies.

ROTH: Absolutely. But what they can't do is take action to subvert the election. They can talk about it, but when you actually translate those lies into action, such as creating false slates of electors, which is what the conspiracy did in part and then taking action to actually substitute those slates of electors for the true slates of electors in Congress and in addition pressure the vice president and members of Congress to accept the false electors.

Now you've gotten into a whole different realm beyond mere speech, and that's very powerfully conveyed in this indictment.


COOPER: It also documents very much the role that the Vice President, Mike Pence, played. The pressure he was under, the pressure that he was put under and his pushing back on it. You know, it talks about January 1. The defendant called the Vice President berated him.

He'd learned the Vice President opposed a lawsuit. In response, defendant told the Vice President, you're too honest, which is incredible.

ROTH: And there's a timeline of communications between the former President and the former Vice President leading up to January 6 and on January 6 that really sort of, in a sense, puts you in that moment between the two of them and the incredible pressure that was being brought to bear on Vice President Pence.

And I think also the indictment draws the connection between the violence of the mob and what transpired and the lead up to it, and actually says that essentially that Trump and his co-conspirators exploited that violence to increase the pressure.

COOPER: In paragraph 94, page 35 says also on January 4, when co- conspirator two, which is Attorney Eastman, acknowledged the defendant's senior adviser to the President's senior adviser, that no court would support his proposal, senior adviser told co-conspirator two, quote, "You're going to cause riots in the streets". Co- conspirator two responded that there had previously been points in the nation's history where violence was necessary to protect the Republic.

HONIG: Goes right to the intended. Shows the -- what they knew were doing was dishonest, was wrong, was illegal, and was dangerous. And one thing that I think is really important, to Jessica's point, it's clear Mike Pence is a witness.

We know he's spoken to the committee. But it's clear to me from this indictment, DOJ has assessed his testimony, has decided he is credible. You wouldn't have his testimony sort of laid out in this indictment if you were not going to rely on it.

So we're going to have a scenario when this goes to trial where Donald Trump's own former Vice President will be testifying against him.

COOPER: You were, I mean, you were there at the time, would you --


COOPER: Would reading this, does it come back? Does it ring true?

GRIFFIN: It does. And this goes even further than some of the January 6 investigation. You know, the part that you just read, there's another detail that talks about co-conspirator three talking to Deputy White House Counsel Pat Philbin, who we know spoke to the grand jury.

And he tells him, point blank, Donald Trump will be leaving office on January 20th. And he responds by saying that's what the Insurrection Act is for. If there's protests in the street trying to stop him, that is terrifying. And just to put that in context, I also worked at the Department of Defense and our Chairman Milley and others. If the acting Secretary of Defense had ordered active duty military to be deployed to quell protests who are protesting an election being stolen by Donald Trump, I think the entirety of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have resigned before they would let that happen.

Like, we are talking about democracy on the brink as you read through this indictment. Nothing about this makes me happy. Like, it's actually quite scary. It shows how close we got. And by the way, he's the GOP front runner and nothing to say he wouldn't do the same thing again if he lost or worse, if he's in office.

COOPER: I just want to read what conservative retired Judge Luttig statement he put out. We've had him on the program. We're going to talk to him in the 09:00 hour. He said -- highly respected conservative jurists, he said, "These are as grave of offenses against the United States as a president could commit, save possibly treason. The former president is neither a victim nor martyr today. America is Donald Trump's victim, and Donald Trump has martyred America for his own selfish, personal and political ambitions".


DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Look, and yet still he's, as Alyssa just alluded to, he's still a frontrunner, right? The New York Times had a poll out just yesterday that shows him tied with the current president in a race. So what is it about Trump that America is missing, right?

Listen, there are lots of good people that I know in America, right, that believe that the 2020 election was stolen. They believe it. I mean, they're otherwise rational, normal people. You'd see them walking around town, you wouldn't be able to pick them out of a crowd.

And if you ask them what happened in the election, they think it was stolen. And I'm not quite sure why. I'm not quite sure -- it's not just because Donald Trump said so. There's something going on in America that, you know, that we need to pay attention to. When Trump gone, it's not just going to heal.

Trump will get swapped off the stage, and that still -- that scab still going to be left there. And we got to figure out what it is that's eating America and that's causing all this. You know, Trump may just be a symptom of it. And, you know, I think it's worth talking about.

And interestingly, Alyssa worked for the former -- the Chief of Staff to the president. You know, he's not mentioned in this document at all.

COOPER: He is actually -- he --

URBAN: He calls the Secret Service to say that Mike Pence is in danger.

GRIFFIN: To put your guy in some danger. COOPER: Well, it also brings us to Georgia because he is actually mentioned in this indictment early on as telling the president -- because Mark Meadows went -- who has been kind of a shadow figure, who's kind of disappeared from public view, he did go down to Georgia, and he reported back to the president that Georgia election officials there were all doing their job dutifully.


Former president ignored that, put out a tweet saying that, you know, what they're doing is shameful or something.

GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This indictment reads like a diary entry, right, in Georgia, right? As you go page by page, and you see what we could feel, right? We didn't have 3D visibility behind the scenes, but you could feel that there was this coordinated effort of stoke the fire on some silly little idea, put out a couple of tweets, send a couple of officials down there to create faux meetings and proper status to these rumors.

And then all of a sudden, next thing you know, that's how you trick the Republican base. And, you know, there's tons of legal advice here. I come as a political pundit, I'm embarrassed as a lifelong Republican. I'm embarrassed that millions of people think he's the head of my party. He's the head of the conservative future of this party.

He's forfeited the right to be the leader. And it's just -- it's our job to prove to people, good people, that this is not true and we have a better future for this party that involves conservatism and not chaos.

COOPER: Also embarrassing that the party of Ronald Reagan is clutching this man's hand like Thelma and Louise and just heading off the cliff. I don't even like --

URBAN: I don't know if it's the party of Ronald Reagan anymore, right? This is the party of Donald Trump right now. I think it's clear, this is Donald Trump's party. He has reshaped the Republican Party in his own image, right?

The party --

COOPER: But they have willingly leapt off -- I mean, they had the opportunity, after January 6, Van, to disassociate themselves and out of fear and whatever else they went with him.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They did. And you talk about embarrassment, and I'll talk a little bit about some pride. I'm actually proud of Jack Smith. Count number four, count number four, conspiracy against rights. What rights? What rights? The right to vote.

The right to vote and have your vote count in this country. That's what this whole thing is about. And somebody stood up for that. We stand in very long lines in my community, by the way, to vote. We shed blood in this country to vote. And somebody tried to take that away, just take it away, because he didn't want to leave office.

And somebody finally stood up to him today and said, you know what? Any fifth grade class knows you can't cheat and lie and bully and use violence to get your way. And guess what, applies what applies in the fifth grade applies to the Oval Office, too.

So I'm proud. I'm proud that Jack Smith stood up. I'm proud that people who vote, who work -- the election workers in this country who've been bullied and tormented, had somebody stick up for them today. I'm proud today.

COOPER: You know, if this had occurred in a developing country --

JONES: Oh my God.

COOPER: And these characters appeared on TV with little epileps on them, the coup -- the American government would look at them and be like, this is the most ridiculous thing. Look what's happening in this, you know, developing nation. This is --

JONES: And hypothetic.

COOPER: That's who these people are.

JONES: And I do encourage people to read it. You know, the January 6 commission, I mean, you have to really be, you know, committed to read that stuff. It was long. There's a whole bunch of names in it. This is clean. It's lean. It's clear.

If you want to argue with your best friend on Facebook or your uncle or your aunt, read this first. It's all laid out.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break.

Next, how the former president's Republican opponents are reacting. One of them, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson joins us. Also a former member of the House January 6 select committee, Congressman Jamie Raskin, as our breaking news continues on this historic and sad night.



COOPER: Four more felony counts against the former president, alleging that he, along with six unindicted co-conspirators, tried to overturn the election he lost. I want to go back to Kaitlan Collins outside the Washington Federal Courthouse, where he'll be arraigned Thursday afternoon. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Yes, Anderson. Of course, former Vice President Mike Pence reacting to that new indictment with quite a strong statement against the former president, the person he served with for four years.

Joining me now to talk about that is Marc Short, Mike Pence's former chief of staff, who is now obviously helping with his 2024 campaign. Pence put out a statement after the indictment came out, a pretty strong one. It says, "Today's indictment serves as an important reminder that anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States". I mean, what was his reaction to reading through that indictment?

MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, Kaitlan, I think it's very similar to, actually, the comments he gave on June 7 when he announced his candidacy. He made very similar comments about the reality that anyone who puts himself above the Constitution should not be serving in that role as president of the United States or anybody who asks his Vice President to violate his oath to the Constitution as well.

COLLINS: One thing we learned in this indictment that it was new is that Pence had these contemporaneous notes from a meeting that he had with Trump, who is obviously referred to as the defendant here on January 4. Trump had asked the White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone to stay -- to deliberately not attend that meeting, according to this indictment. Did Pence usually take notes why did he feel the need to take notes after that meeting?

SHORT: I think he took some notes, Kaitlan. I think the reality was it wasn't specific to that meeting, and those notes were subpoenaed by the Special Counsel. And so it was part of the testimony that he gave. But I think that, you know, that particular meeting was obviously incredibly important because it was in that meeting that the President was more or less asking the Vice President to throw out the electors.

And then, subsequently, there came a strategy to say, well, how about we just return them to the states?

COLLINS: Neither of which were possible.

SHORT: Neither of -- no, neither of which is 250 years of our republic, neither of which any vice president has done, nor what should I say, Kaitlan, would any Republican want Kamala Harris to have that authority in 2024. So, you know, even for many of us who had concerns initially about the election in 2020 and do believe that some of the state laws were changed inappropriately, the reality was there was no evidence that supported the notion that any of that fraud would have overturned the results of any of the states.

COLLINS: And also that's a state decision. But on the note --

SHORT: And it is a state decision. That's important.

COLLINS: Did he actually hand the notes over to Jack Smith or did he quote them to the Special Counsel's team?

SHORT: I'm not sure. You'd have to ask Mike's lawyer.

COLLINS: Did he hand over anything else? Text messages, phone calls?

SHORT: I think he was subpoenaed for those notes and he complied with a subpoena. COLLINS: There was also another meeting where it said at the day of the January 6 actual riot that Trump refused a request from the White House Council to withdraw the election certification objections. Was that something that was know? I mean, we did not know that Pat Cipollone had asked that.

SHORT: I didn't know. Which, as you probably are aware, on January 6, we did not have much direct communication with the White House. I think that once the riots began, the Vice-President was in the basement, the loading dock, and he was working with General Milley to make sure that the National Guard was deployed.

He was working with Senators McConnell, Schumer, McCarthy, and Pelosi to make sure that everybody was safe, and to get everybody back in. He met for a long time with Capitol Police Chief to make sure that the building was secure and what other sources they needed.


So our focus wasn't on what was happening back at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. It was securing the Capitol.

COLLINS: Well, and if I remember correctly, there was a question of whether or not you could get back on the White House grounds that night because there was so much anger, at your direction, from -- coming from the West Wing.

SHORT: You know, actually, when that night ended at about 05:00 a.m., I went back to the White House and went back into my office. And so, yes, there were plenty of stories that I had had my credentials taken away because of the counsel I provided the vice president.

COLLINS: Which is that he couldn't do what he legally could not do. John Lareau, Trump's attorney who is handling this case in addition to Todd Blanche, was making the argument after this indictment came out that this is really just a free speech issue and that Trump had the right to contest the results of the election. I mean, as someone who was here there on January 6, what do you say when you hear that?

SHORT: Well, to me, I think it's a tremendous shift in their argument because I think for a longtime it's been that the election was stolen and Mike Pence had the authority to overturn it. If now basically the premise is to say, well, look, all politicians lie, and this basically was a misrepresentation of the American people and it's protected the First Amendment, I'm not a lawyer, I don't know the criminality of that.

But it's a big shift and more or less accept that what the president was telling the American people was false and that what Mike Pence did was right.

COLLINS: Yes. And, of course, the question is, do they argue that in court? Marc Short, thank you so much for joining tonight.

SHORT: Kaitlan, thanks for having me. COLLINS: Jake, obviously, of course, he was there on January 6. Someone who is as close to this as the former Vice President Mike Pence was himself as you look through this indictment.

TAPPER: Yes. And that was a rough day for the Pence team, no doubt. Kaitlan, thanks so much.

So throughout the evening, we have been getting reaction to the indictment from Trump's various rivals for the Republican nomination for president. We just heard former Vice President Mike Pence's statement a few moments ago. Also tonight, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis criticized what he is calling the weaponization of government.

DeSantis also says, quote, "While I've seen reports, I have not read the indictment. I do, though, believe we need to enact reform so that Americans have the right to remove cases from Washington, D.C. to their home districts". Not really addressing the allegations of the charges in the indictment itself.

Vivek Ramaswamy has called the indictment, quote, "un-American". Will Hurd, the former CIA officer and Republican congressman says Trump is, quote, "driven by an attempt to stay out of prison and scam his supporters into footing his legal bills," unquote.

I'm joined now by another Republican presidential candidate, Asa Hutchinson, a former governor of Arkansas, Governor Hutchinson, broad view now, what is your reaction to today's indictment and what do you think of the specific charges against Donald Trump?

ASA HUTCHINSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's another sad day for America when a former president is indicted, particularly dealing with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another administration. That's the hallmark of our democracy. The world looks on us as amazing that we can do this.

And so this indictment goes to the heart of our democracy, the heart of what it means to be an American, that we can peacefully transfer power from one administration to the next. So it's very sad day for us. Obviously, there are most serious charges that is imaginable.

And what strikes me, Jake, is that the voters that Donald Trump has misled, the indictment talks about that he knew that he had not won the election, but he continued to propagate this idea that he had. He misled his voters, and he continues to do that today.

TAPPER: Yes, it also says that some of the fake electors had been misled, that the conspiracy which involved Donald Trump and six others, some of the people who were these bogus electors, had been told that the slates were only going to be filed if Donald Trump prevailed in court in that specific state, and that wasn't true. So, once again, we have Trump supporters being victimized by these lies.

HUTCHINSON: Well, that's right. And there's two impacts to this indictment, obviously. The first one is that it's a very serious criminal charge that Donald Trump has to face on the most serious issue to a democracy.

But then, secondly, from a political standpoint, his relationship with his supporters has been so rock solid, and yet this undermines it because clearly he has misled them all along to his own benefit and to his own ego. And so that very well could have a political impact as well as the criminal case as it proceeds.

TAPPER: It hasn't yet, though, has it? I mean, all the polling that we've seen up until before this indictment came out suggests that Donald Trump's hold on the Republican Party, and perhaps even more importantly, the lies that he's told about the election are now disregarded as party dogma by Republicans. Why do you think that is?


HUTCHINSON: Well, because they believed a trusted leader. That is the bottom line on it. And he developed that trust relationship with them, and that continues to today. We'll see if this disrupts that.

I'm here in New Hampshire, just had a great barbecue, and with Scott Brown, we had many people there, and I read my statement to them. They didn't really ask a whole lot of questions about Donald Trump. We did have many people there that understand we need to have a new direction in our country.

And so, there's a division among the Republican Party right now. And our job as candidates is to grow the idea that we ought to have new leadership in our country. That's why I'm engaged in this. That's why I'm fighting to get on the debate schedule, debate stage next month.

TAPPER: Scott Brown, we should note, the former Republican senator from Massachusetts who also owns property up there in New Hampshire. Trump was the only person indicted today, but the indictment specifically names six co-conspirators who we've identified five of Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Jeffrey Clark, and Kenneth Chesebro. Why do you think none of them were indicted today? What do you think is going on there? You're a former prosecutor.

HUTCHINSON: Well, as a former United States attorney, it seems to me that he's going to give those other co-conspirators an opportunity to cooperate, to make agreements with the special prosecutor, and they could line up some very significant testimony to support the case.

And so, I think he was balancing needing, because of the urgency of the matter, to get the first indictment done against Donald Trump. And then, as you can see, what happened in the Florida case, he's either going to indict additional defendants in this case, or there's going to be deals with cooperation where they'll be testifying against Donald Trump in this case.

TAPPER: All right, Governor Asa Hutchinson, enjoy New Hampshire. Thanks so much. Anderson?

COOPER: Jake, I'm joined now by Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, former member of the House Select Committee investigating January 6. Congressman Raskin, given all the work that you and your committee put into this, you sent a criminal referral on this matter to the Department of Justice. Are you satisfied with his indictment?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), FORMER MEMBER, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: Well, sure, it's a powerful vindication of the rule of law in democracy, Anderson. And, you know, the counts closely track what we had recommended to the Department of Justice. There's a lot of overlap there, but I was especially impressed by the count about how this was a massive violation of the voting rights of the people.

And this is, you know, precisely what Abraham Lincoln said about the problem with insurrections and coups, that it's an attempt to steal from the people their right to choose their own leaders. And that's what this was. And we've got people spending a year or more, several years in jail for casting one additional vote.

As voter fraud, what is the proper punishment for someone who tries to steal an entire presidential election from the people?

COOPER: A lot of the details about the president being told, then- president being told by the people around him that what he was saying was false and just simply factually incorrect are certainly borne out in this indictment in great detail. I mean, it's very hard to read this indictment and all the people and all the organizations that told the president at the time in real time, his statements were false, that anybody could believe he actually believed he had won the election.

RASKIN: Well, you'll recall that Attorney General William Barr, who was nothing if not Trump's sycophant for several years, told him that his claims and his alleged facts were BS. The White House Counsel told him there was nothing there.

All of the serious lawyers in his inner circle told him there was nothing there, which is why he reached to the outlandish circle of, you know, the bar scene from StarWars to advise him to go ahead with what it was he just wanted to do. He clearly knew that he had lost the election and had made several statements to that effect.

One of the new facts that appears in this indictment that we didn't have, that does not appear in the January 6 Select Committee report, is Trump saying directly to Pence, you're too honest --


RASKIN: -- which jumped out at me as, you know, a statement that probably came from Mike Pence. I don't know where it came from, but if he did say that to him, undoubtedly, it was something that Pence himself heard.


But Trump, obviously, operates on lies. And, in fact, even the people who defend him don't say that he operates based on the truth. They just say all the politicians do it because Trump has basically lowered everybody's sense of what is expected from politicians in the country.

COOPER: Yes, Jack Smith's team actually clearly had access to contemporaneous notes that then-Vice President Pence had kept, which your committee did not. Are you surprised no one else was indicted among these other co-conspirators?

Asa Hutchinson was just on the program talking to Jake, saying that as a former state's attorney, he thinks that not naming anyone, not actually bringing charges against any of these co-conspirators, is basically an opportunity for one of them to -- or some of them to make a deal.

RASKIN: Sure, that there might be strategic dimensions into the staging, the sequencing of different prosecutions. The, you know, the sole prosecution of Donald Trump, I think, properly lays responsibility where it belongs. None of this would have happened without Donald Trump.

I mean, remember that he was the one that pushed the idea that January 6 could be a moment for stealing the election away from the rightful victor, when the -- would most of the right-wing demonstrators were focused on January the 20th and having just a counter protest at Biden's inauguration.

But Trump got them to shift everything over to January 6, saying, in essence, this wasn't over. Be there. We'll be wild. All of this flowed out of his determination to get Pence to step outside of his constitutional role and to declare unilateral powers to nullify the election and to hand it over to Trump.

COOPER: Congressman Jamie Raskin, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Our special coverage continues in a moment. We'll be joined by one of the former president's attorneys who recently joined his legal team ahead of this indictment.