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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Grand Jury Investigating 2020 Election Interference Has Finished For The Day; Trump's Team Prepares For Potential Indictment In Special Counsel's Election Interference Case; NYT Poll: Biden And Trump Neck-And-Neck In Possible Rematch; Gilgo Beach Suspect Appears In Court; Trump-Backed Candidate For Michigan Attorney General Faces State Charges Over Alleged Voting Machine Plot; Trump Predicts He Will Be Indicted Again. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 01, 2023 - 16:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for watching "CNN NEWS CENTRAL".

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER, who, of course, will be covering this as well, starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Back in the anchor chair.

We begin today in our law and justice lead. As the federal grand jury investigating efforts by former President Trump and his top allies to try to overturn the 2020 election, that grand jury has finished meeting for the day. The big question, will we learn in the next few minutes or hours if the grand jury here in Washington, D.C. has, in fact, indicted Donald Trump or anyone else involved in the plot to overturn the election. This would mark the third criminal indictment against the twice arrested, twice impeached former president of the United States and current front-runner by far for the Republican presidential nomination.

There is quite a bit here that we just don't know about any potential charge, and it is unclear when or if the federal grand jury here in D.C. has even voted. But based upon what we have reported over the last three years, potential charges in special counsel Jack Smith's probe may relate to Trump and his allies efforts to pressure state election officials, their disinformation about the election, creating fake slates of state electors and potentially inciting the deadly January 6 Capitol insurrection, among other potential charges.

Just yesterday, the former president posted on his social media website that he expects criminal charges to come any day now.

Let's get right to CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez who is following all of the latest developments.

Evan, how do we expect to get word if and when this indictment is handed up to the judge from the grand jury? EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we have a

team inside of the courthouse. They're watching the magistrate proceedings. Typically the way this works is the grand jury votes on an indictment, the foreperson and the prosecutor hand up the indictment to the judge, often what they do is you don't know the name of the person, but they have the initials of that person who is being indicted is read in open court.

Today could be a lot different. We certainly have seen in for example in the Mar-a-Lago case in Miami, where they did it behind the scenes, away from reporters who were watching every single court proceeding. So that could happen in this case as well.

We do know, as you pointed out, the grand jury has left, but the foreperson stayed behind. We have not seen that person leave the courthouse. So, that's one indication possibly that there is still more action to be taken by the foreperson on behalf of the grand jury and prosecutors in Jack Smith's office, Jake.

TAPPER: So, obviously, law enforcement has been preparing for this likelihood that he will be indicted for sometime.

PEREZ: Right.

TAPPER: Have you heard anything from law enforcement about any indications that they may have seen about possible threats that could come from whatever the grand jury has decided? Donald Trump himself was issuing vague pronouncements that if he were sentenced to jail, there could be violence.

PEREZ: Right. Exactly. And look, because of that, law enforcement has been looking very closely at all of those online platforms where some of the threats come from, Jake. And so far, you know, everything indicates that they haven't seen anything abnormal, anything to indicate that there is an active threat to the courthouse.

Now, when the former president -- if and when he's indicted, then he has the option to come to court and that would about then present additional possible threats. But at this point, law enforcement said that everything seems completely normal. They don't see any indication of people coming to Washington at this point, Jake.

TAPPER: If he were to be indicted, Donald Trump, would we expect him to appear in person for the arrest, arraignment? And if so, when might that happen? How soon after any indictment is handed up?

PEREZ: Well, we anticipate that that could happen as soon as later this week. It is certainly in the next couple of days. And here is the thing -- this court allows for presentment for first appearance to be done over Zoom. So he could do it remotely from his club in Bedminster.

However, we know that the former president, of course, is the kind who wants to show up in person, of course, as you know, Jake, every one of these things have been used by him to do more fundraising. And so we know that one of the conversations that has happened already, between the special counsel's office and the former president's legal team is how they would do this.

[16:05:03] They've offered him the option of doing a Zoom presentment or first appearance, we anticipate, Jake, that the former president will want to do this in person, again, simply because that's how he's done all of the others.

TAPPER: All right. Very interesting. Evan Perez, thank you so much.

As Mr. Trump huddles with his advisers for yet another potential indictment to be filed, this one by special counsel Jack Smith.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is tracking this from Bridgewater, New Jersey, just down the road from Trump's Bedminster golf club where Donald Trump is right now.

Kristen, what are we hearing about how Donald Trump is planning to respond if an indictment does, in fact, come?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, well, his team is expecting an indictment. They feel like they are actually prepared for this. They've been waiting tor this since they got the target letter and it's something that they have been putting together, their response. We're told that there are paper statements and videos and they plan to roll out surrogates all over conservative media to really make the case for the former president. And as you remember, last Thursday, they expected, they believe that there was a potential indictment coming down.

And then they were surprised by that Mar-a-Lago superseding indictment. That is not the case today. They do feel like they are prepared now, they do expect this to happen. And we do know that Donald Trump has been having conversations with his closest allies on Capitol Hill since he received that target letter talking to them about how they're going to defend him, to come to his defense when it comes to January 6.

And it's interesting, talking to many of this advisers, they really believe that they have a playbook down on how to respond to these indictments. They believe that it starts with these fundraising emails and then it turns into videos, and in which Trump is directly addressing voters. And they do think that it will lead to a spike in fundraising and poll numbers.

But as we have reported, multiple times, even if these advisers believe the short-term gain is there for a primary, there are still larger concerns about what these legal implications will mean for a general if Donald Trump is to be the nominee, and as you mentioned he is still leading in the polls, on whether or not he could actually go through a general election with all of these looming over him.

So, a lot of questions. But again, they do feel in this one particularly prepared. They have statements ready, ready to hit the airwaves to go to Donald Trump's defense.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes in Bridgewater, New Jersey, thanks so much.

Let's discuss. Kaitlan, let me start with you.

So, Trump could face charges related to any number of a variety of actions having to do with the 2020 election, just to name a few. There is the pressure campaign that he and his allies launched on state election officials. The fake state elector plots, as well as potential charges for inciting that riot on the Capitol on January 6.

I don't know how much you could read in the tea leaves from the special counsel investigation in terms of the individuals he's interviewed and those who he hasn't.

Which charges do you think -- do you think are the most likely that he will face?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that they kind of indicated some of them in the target letter. I think the question the Trump's own orbits has, his attorneys and political advisers that Kristen was talking about there, is it -- is it limited to those three that were detailed in the target letter he got about two weeks ago? Or is it bigger than that? Is it more expensive than that?

Because they have looked at a lot of different aspects here, from fundraising, to the fake electors, to Trump's mindset in and of itself. So, there is a big potential for a lot to come out of this. Obviously, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an official proceeding, that Reconstruction Era civil rights thing that looked at, also reference in the target letter. That's what they're looking for.

But I think the question is also how much bigger can be it? Because from the target letter in the documents case to the charges, it was much bigger than we believe.

TAPPER: So, Laura, just to go through those -- the target letter, it cites three statutes, you say the English version of them. There is the deprivation of rights, basically taking away voting rights from people. Conspiracy to commit offense against or defraud the United States, that's pretty obvious.


TAPPER: And tampering with the witness. What do you think of in terms of what's likely?

COATES: Well, that last one, tampering, is actually more expansive than it actually sounds like on its face. You know, the statues actually calls for that, but it could mean more than actually trying to persuade or corruptly influenced a witness. It could also mean any number of other things. Some statutes have a more expansive notion.

But the big part of all this, remember, is that Congress, the January 6 Committee, also recommended charges, recommending ones in buckets including conspiracy, including obstruction. The target letter is really a kind of courtesy. I don't mean like it's a friendly thing to actually receive, but it's a currency. It's not required that as a prosecutor, you give this to someone. And so, you need not give them all the information they are looking at.

Ultimately, if they are indicted, they have to give them anything that might be exculpatory. That has to be comprehensive, meaning what tends to show you're actually innocent.


But this is essentially a place holder. You're on notice, due process requires you'd be in some kind of notice, and opportunity to be heard. That's all this is.

I would expect, though, given the amount of time since the January 6 committee's recommendations, that really speaks to the thing you're talking about, Kaitlan and Jake, that there's been a lot of time that's transpired. There's been more investigations.

They had dozens and dozens of people who are on the record, mostly Republicans, they put out in the report, who are on the record testifying. Since that time, what else has Jack Smith and his team uncovered? They got a criminal jury subpoena power, they don't have the same hurdles as a congressional subpoena which is essentially saying, thank you. You can't see me to jail or it's not going to be enforced. You can kind of rocks.

They got the power at the DOJ. So you have a lot more that I expect to see to buttress what we've already seen from January 6th.

TAPPER: So, Jamie Gangel, deprivation of rights. That's about an attempt to take away voting rights of individuals. Let's talk about the Trump pressure campaign on state election officials in that context, the effect to nullify people to vote who voted legally and cleanly and fairly for his rival, Joe Biden.

Perhaps this is best illustrated in his infamous phone call with secretary state of Georgia, which Biden won very narrowly, with Brad Raffensperger during which Trump asked him to find enough votes to flip Georgia from Biden to Trump. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more thing we have because we won the state.


TAPPER: Do you say this is one of the strongest bits of evidence against Donald Trump, at least that we know of?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: There is no question that that phone call is a very impressive in the worst since of the word. I mean, you see him there. You hear him there.

And when you hear Donald Trump's voice saying that, there's no denying it either. So that's true.

I also spoke to several former very senior justice sources who said that we should expect this lovely indictment, if it comes, to be what one said the mother of all speaking indictments. They said expected to be very long, a lot of detail. They said to also look at who else might be named.

Are their coconspirators? Unnamed coconspirators? What if any role does Mark Meadows play in this? There has been some talk that he's been cooperating.

But the main thing that they say about this indictment is that it will be overwhelming evidence, plus --


GANGEL: -- was the quote, because this is the former president.

TAPPER: And, Kaitlan, one of the arguments Laura was just making was that as strong as the January 6 Committee was, there were individuals that they were not able to get testify, such as Vice President Mike Pence, such as some of the White House aides like Dan Scavino and others, individuals who did testify before the special counsel, because of the special counsel had more ability to force them to do so.

What might we learn?

COLLINS: Yeah, they viewed it completely differently. If you talk to people in Trump's orbit. I mean, Pence fought it, he still had to go anyway and testify. He fought it on different grounds than what Trump voted on.

But he still to go and talk to them, and that in and of itself is remarkable given he is at the center of all of this. He felt the pressure campaign. And when you talk to sources in Trump world, they say that's what they're looking for, is the congressional committee report obviously is very -- it kind of laid a roadmap for what we've seen Jack Smith --

TAPPER: Absolutely, yeah.

COLLINS: -- and it really remarkable way, in a way that, you know, it was reported that the Justice Department really lag on a lot of its investigations into things like a fake electors, and then you start seeing the January 6 committee come out, you saw their public hearings, and that's part of our subpoenas summit going out from the Justice Department.


COATES: But, by the way, Kaitlan, remember, they wouldn't always give everything to DOJ, right? You reported, I mean, they wouldn't --


COATES: -- they were not handing everything over until they were done.

COLLINS: Yeah, which is something that you'll still hear people -- DOJ prosecutors talk about. But in a sense of what they could be looking for? I think they are looking for quotes from Vice President Mike Pence. What is he detailing in there? What are other scenes that are potentially included in the indictment that we didn't know about from the January 6 congressional committee?

TAPPER: And, Jamie, the investigation theoretically could go back to before the election, because Donald Trump was paving the way. He was setting the table to challenge his pending loss, of which we kind of all saw coming, by going after paper ballots and mail-in ballots, which his campaign was saying, please don't bad-mouth paper ballots. We need our voters, it was in the throes of COVID, the first year, we need them to vote by mail, we need to vote them to vote by mail.

And he decided to set the stage for blaming fraudulent paper ballots, which there is no evidence that there was enough of that to turn the election in any state.


But take a listen.


TRUMP: I don't want to see a crooked election. This election will be the most rigged election in history.

They know it's going to be fraudulent. There is going to be fraud all over the place.

I'll be complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.


TAPPER: We saw this coming a mile away.

GANGEL: This is a critical point. Not just the ballots. The fact that as the January 6th Committee said over and over, that's premeditated.

He was setting it up because his pollsters had told him, you know, you're not going to win. And so what do you do if you're not going to win? You have to say the election is a fraud.

And then there's something else we haven't talked about for a while, but remember, he came out election night early and he wanted them to stop counting the ballots.

TAPPER: Stop counting, right.

GANGEL: So this was all, you know, potentially a setup for then what came afterwards.

TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around. Coming up, Trump's legal fight is dominating the 2024 presidential

campaign trail, including how much donor money is going toward paying for Donald Trump's legal fees. That's ahead.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, but we're in the midst of an historic moment. We're waiting to learn whether a special grand jury here in Washington, D.C., has returned an indictment against Donald Trump. This would stem from special counsel Jack Smith's investigation into Trump's conduct before, during and after the 2020 election, where he tried to overturn the result of a free and fair election.

So what do Republican voters make of this and Trump's current legal issues? Well, 13 percent of Republicans now say they believe Trump committed crimes and yet they still support him. That's according to a new "New York Times"/Siena poll.

Our panel is here to discuss.

David, the share of Republicans who say they believe Donald Trump has committed crimes has gone up slightly from 10 percent in September of 2022 to 13 percent in July. But does that matter?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it doesn't seem to matter in terms of where his overall horse race numbers is, which is in a dominant position in this race. I would just note, Jake, while talking about the Republican nomination race, you're, of course, wisely looking at the numbers among Republicans. That question, if you look at among registered voters overall, a majority of the country says in that poll that he committed serious crimes, and that he threatens democracy.

And this is Donald Trump -- I realize he's tied with Joe Biden. We're a polarized nation and he is in a dead heat race overall. But this is the problem for Donald Trump. What doesn't seem to be a problem for him in the nomination race may prove to be a problem for him in the general election.

TAPPER: Right, because it's not just a majority of voters who think that he tried to undermine democracy. It's also a majority of independent voters who will be important swing voters.

S.E., one Republican voter told "The New York Times", quote, I think he, meaning Donald Trump, has committed crimes. I think he's done terrible things, but he's also done a lot of good, and I like Trump, but I like the Democrats a lot less, unquote. As Trump's GOP rivals all trail him in the Republican race by at least 37 percentage points in the latest "New York Times" poll, what should his rivals take away from this, do you think?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, a reminder is constant that Donald Trump is a cause. Paul will not enjoy this comparison, but this reminds me a little bit of Hillary versus Bernie in 2016 where I was saying, listen, Hillary Clinton is a corporation. Bernie Sanders is a cause. And that's why so much of the passion for voters was with Bernie.

Now, she, obviously, ended up clinching the nomination, but this is very much the same kind of thing for Trump and Trump v. DeSantis for example. DeSantis feels like a fabrication, a corporation. Donald Trump is a cause to a lot of Republican voters.

So what he did, or didn't do, what he's being accused of, what he, in fact, maybe indicted for is so beyond the point for so many of his voters, because that would literally, as you know, Jake, a lot of them died for him.

TAPPER: And, Paul, there is a new warning sign for Democrats in this poll, as David alluded to. President Biden is neck and neck with Donald Trump in this possible rematch, 43 percent to 43 percent. What's going on here?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there is some good news for Biden. First, he is solidifying his place with the Democrats, right? He has improved his position, with Democrats.

But he is still tied. Exactly right. At look of other national polls have Biden up maybe 2 to 4 points. Well, that's margin of error. So, let's call it a tie race.

This means that with Trump, there's almost nothing keeping him from the Republican nomination and with that nomination having 43, maybe 45 percent of the national vote. He got 47 in the last election. There seems to be nothing there, but the climb for Trump from 43 where he is today to 50 is far steeper than Biden's climb from that same 43 to 50, because in that poll, that "New York Times" poll, people who hate them both, disapprove of them both, Biden is winning them.

Now, he won them handily last time. He has to win them handily again this time. It's going to be an unlovely election, that's for sure.

TAPPER: And, David, Trump's joint fundraising committee has brought in more than $53 million during in the first six months of the year. His political action committee has spent even more, much of it on legal fees. That's a considerable amount.

CHALIAN: It really is, and this is an astonishing development to continue to watch, Jake, because this is a bit of a crunch, financially, for Donald Trump because he has to take -- doesn't have to, but has chosen to take all that money from grassroots donors and actually apply that to his legal bills, rather than on the work of the campaign. This shows how inextricably linked his legal and political lives are at this moment.


In fact, one of his committees asked for a $60 million-dollar refund from another. It was initially a transfer to a super PAC to put ads on the air and start making an argument politically to voters. Yet, they are asking for a refund now because they spent all the money on legal bills, and, obviously, he has a lot more legal bills coming down the pipe.

TAPPER: And, S.E., listen to how Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie reacted to the news of Trump's spending on legal bills.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And this guy is a billionaire, and how about -- down the stream, maybe he just sells Trump Tower and pays for his legal fees that way. Or maybe sell the plane. He could do that. Or one of the golf courses.

But instead, he's taking $25, $50, $100 from everyday Americans who believe they're giving it to him to help elect him for president.


TAPPER: And, S.E., I mean, that's true. But one could argue that many of the small donors don't care or know exactly that the money is going to help pay the legal bills for Trump and his officials.

CUPP: Again, he is a cause. He is something to believe in. And don't tell they're lying eyes anything differently.

So, you know, he is -- has been willing to milk his own voters but also the Republican Party, right? He used RNC money for his legal bills. So, he doesn't want to spend his own money, that's clear. He's happy to spend yours, even if it's not on what you think it might be going toward.

TAPPER: Paul, doesn't the fact that Joe Biden's neck and neck with this guy who has these unprecedented charges against him really undermine a fundamental weakness of Joe Biden?

BEGALA: No, I think it shows that -- I disagree with S.E. Donald Trump is not a cause. He is a cult of personality. That's a big difference.

CUPP: Same thing.

BEGALA: Bernie was a cause, and Bernie is a friend of mine, and it's not fair to compare Bernie and Trump. Bernie really was about national health care and taxing the billionaires, issues and ideas and a cause.

For a time, Trump was a cause. He talked about the wall, and expelling Muslims and all this stuff, I didn't agree with, but those were at least issues. Now it is simply a cult of personality. And he has solidified an iron grip on one of the two great parties in America.

It does mean Biden's work is cut out for him. It means any Democrat is going to cede 43 to 45 percent of the vote to the Republicans. The fact that Republicans have rallied around this cult of personality is really quite amazing.

I think Christie has the right way to go at him, which is he's on it for himself, not for you.

TAPPER: Yeah. BEGALA: I don't know if that can crack with Republicans, but there are a lot of independents, there's 14 percent in this poll who haven't chosen between Biden and Trump. I think Biden can make that case to them far better than Trump.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks, everyone. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer appears in court as prosecutors hand over more than 2,500 pages of documents seized in the investigation. That story is next.



TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, Rex Heuermann, the alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer, is back in court. His first appearance since being charged with murdering three women and being labeled the prime suspect in killing a fourth victim.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is outside of the courthouse in Riverhead, New York, where Heuermann's made his appearance.

Brynn, tell us what happened in court.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, it was a short hearing for discovery. Heuermann was there wearing a khaki pants, a suit jacket and was handcuffed. He didn't say anything to the judge, just spoke to his attorney when they had a little bit of a conversation.

But this again was just handing over discovery, handing over evidence in the next process of this case and the district attorney here describing it as a tremendous amount of evidence. It includes 2,500 pages of evidence that they've checked at numerous locations, including crime scene photos, autopsy and DNA reports from the medical examiner's office as well as surveillance video of not just Heuermann but one of the motels allegedly of where one of the victims visited Heuermann according to the district attorney's office.

I want to hear from district attorney as well as Heuermann's attorney who spoke after this hearing.


RAYMOND TIERNEY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK: This as 13-year case so as you saw, we have a great deal of -- of information, evidence, photographs, reports to provide to the defense counsel. We've begun that process.

MICHAEL BROWN, REX HEUERMANN'S ATTORNEY: At this point in time, I can't tell you what defects, if any, are in any of their evidence because I haven't seen it yet.

REPORTER: What has your client told you?

BROWN: What has my client told me? He told me he didn't do this.


GINGRAS: Yeah. Michael Brown, Heuermann's attorney says he's met with his client several times while Heuermann remains behind bars, again, maintaining that he didn't do this. He also said he's going to be adding more staff just to go through all of this evidence in the next court date is going to be in about -- next month, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Brynn, Heuermann's estranged wife, soon to be ex-wife, one presumes, told the "New York Post" that investigators left her long island home a wreck in her view, as they looked for evidence. How is Rex Heuermann's family handling this shocking news?

GINGRAS: Yeah, well just that, Jake. She said she's still somewhat in shock. She and her two children that she shared with Heuermann have been visiting the home and have been trying to get their life back together to some sort of normalcy, piecing together what investigators took, what they didn't take.


And she kind of said to the "New York Post", this is all I've got is this house.

So it does seem that she has somewhat distanced herself from her husband in the sense that she hasn't visited him in jail but we do know that they have been communicating. But certainly, she's someone that investigators are continuing to talk to as they continue this process and this investigation.

TAPPER: All right. Brynn Gingras in Riverhead, New York, for us, thank you so much.

Joining us to discuss, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson.

So, Joey, the judge issued a protective order which would prohibit the release of copies of the evidence in this case. Is that normal?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's quite normal, Jake. It's normal because you want to protect any potential witnesses or anybody else, right? The fact is that attorneys need to evaluate the discovery. It's the essence of the case. What does that discovery say?

That, of course, is the information provided by prosecutors which they believe prosecutors would establish the defendant's guilt but that information needs to be protected it. There needs to have the integrity. No one should be intimidated. No one should be threatened, or no one at all should be approached or contacted by anyone relating to the defense counsel really to evaluate and over see that information to ensure and understand that it needs to be in they're care so there are no issues moving forward respect to the defendant intimidating or reaching out to anyone.

TAPPER: So the prosecutors are talking a big game here. They're talking about how many pages of evidence they have, how much do you take their claims at face value versus how much do you think this might not necessarily be the slam dunk that they're suggesting it might be?

JACKSON: So, early to tell. And that's the whole essence of discovery, right? You can have a press conference as they have. You could have voluminous information within a document, which was their bail application, 32 pages noting triangulations of cell phones, noting data with regard to what they have to identify him as we look at their at the victims of the case, at allegedly his hands, noting all types of information which pinpoint him.

Now, it's incumbent upon any defense attorney to assemble a team to evaluate everything, to assemble experts, to look at DNA, to establish whether or not there's a connection, to look at hair fibers, to look at any shred of evidence, to look at any witnesses who identified not to the actual killings, of course, but just giving information about the defendant. What's their credibility like? What's their veracity like?

So there'd be a lot of challenges and before that discovery is turned over and looked at in all details and before experts evaluate everything, it's too early to say that this is slam dunk case. Certainly, prosecutors believe the evidence is compelling, but that will be up to a careful assessment and evaluation of that evidence to determine whether or not that suggestion by the prosecution is actually valid, credible and true.

TAPPER: Joey, what kind of arguments do you think Heuermann's defense should be making?

JACKSON: I'm sorry, Jake. Can you repeat that?

TAPPER: What kind of arg -- yeah, what kind of arguments do you think Heuermann's defense team should be making?

JACKSON: I think they're going to make a whole assortment of arguments. I think the argument, first of all, will be, let me have the discovery and let me have all of it. I think once they do that, they'll have any motions to challenge any evidence. Although we may hear about evidence in public, it doesn't mean we're not -- they won't be moving by the defense to preclude that evidence so it never sees light of day.

They will argue about any expert testimony. They will talk about self triangulation to be junk science. They will look at DNA and say, hey, it may be DNA but perhaps it's not his, perhaps it's a valid reason as to why it's there, et cetera.

There'd be a whole assortment of arguments that the defense will make to challenge the evidence, to go to show it was not their client who did this. We're ways from that. This will develop and we'll learn more as it goes forward, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks, Joey. Appreciate it. Just in to CNN, an update on a different 2020 related investigation,

the Michigan attorney general has brought criminal charges against two prominent Republicans in Michigan over their alleged roles in the plot to access and seize voting machines across the state of Michigan.

Let's go to CNN's Jessica Schneider who's covering this for us.

Jessica, who exactly are the defendants in this case and what charges are they facing?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, we've been tracking all of these developments out of Michigan and the two defendants that have been most recently caught up in being charged with these plots as part of, you know, the plots to overturn the 2020 election, the latest charges coming against two prominent Republicans in the state of Michigan.

One of them, Matthew DePerno, he actually ran for attorney general in that state very recently. The second, a former state representative, Daire Rendon. Now, they have both been arrested and charged in Michigan and they're facing these charges stemming from their alleged efforts to seize and then access voting machines.

Now, remember back in 2020, there were all of the claims from Donald Trump that the votes were rigged and in Detroit and that also voting machines in rural parts of Michigan were somehow manipulated.


Of course, none of those claims turned out to be true. But as part of this effort, Republican allies of Donald Trump in Michigan, they attempted to seize and then access various voting machines throughout the state. Because of that, investigations have been ob ongoing.

This particular investigation conducted by a special prosecutor that was named by the state attorney general because of some conflict of interest from the attorney general. And today, we're learning for the first time that at least two of those prominent Republicans have been charged. This is a special prosecutor DJ Hilson and we got a release from the prosecutor's office saying that this is not the end of the investigation, that we should be potentially expecting more charges, because it wasn't just these two defendants involved. There were numerous Republican allies involved in this alleged plot.

Notably here, this is the second time we've seen prominent Republicans in Michigan charged in just a matter of weeks. I was up in Lansing, Michigan, just about two weeks ago when we saw 16 Republicans who were charged in this fake electors plot. They had tried to submit those fake certificates saying that Donald Trump had won the state of Michigan. When, of course, it was actually Joe Biden who had won.

So the attorney general in the state, Dana Nessel, she's really been moving full force to prosecute these crimes. She prosecuted the 16 Republicans that are actually due in court a little bit later this month and then today, we're learning that the special prosecutor, that she named, DJ Hilson, out of one of the counties there in Michigan, has brought these two charges again these prominent Republicans.

And, Jake, this special prosecutor saying this isn't the end. This isn't over. The investigation is continuing and we should be expecting more charges.

But a lot unfolding in Michigan in recent weeks all around, you know, January 6th and the attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

TAPPER: Yeah, especially with the fake electors. Are we hearing any reaction from the two who are charged today?

SCHNEIDER: Yeah, we are. So, obviously, Matthew DePerno is a prominent Republican in the state of Michigan. He ran against the Attorney General Dana Nessel, ultimately losing. But, of course, he was backed prominently by former President Trump.

His attorney has issued a lengthy statement here completely denying any wrongdoing here, and he says that he, Matthew DePerno, categorically denies any wrongdoing and firmly asserts that these charges are unfounded and lack merit. He continues to say that DePerno looks forward to the date when his innocence will be demonstrated in a court of law. So, really coming out full throated on his innocence here.

But, you know, this won't be the end likely in these charges. The special prosecutor is continuing this. So we could see more charges in the days and weeks to come, Jake.

TAPPER: So there was a different district attorney who began the investigation. But that district attorney bowed out. Do we know why?

SCHNEIDER: It was actually the attorney general of the state, Dana Nessel. She began this investigation as she began the investigation to the fake electors plot, but then she realized that there was a likely conflict of interest because one of the people charged today, Matthew DePerno, was the one who was running against her, as the Republican nominee for attorney general. That's when she handed it over to the special prosecutor DJ Hilson. He's been working on this since the beginning of the year here and now, coming out with these two charges against -- or more than two charges, multiple charges actually, but against two defendants. So, that was the reason for the recusal of the attorney general to the special prosecutor.

TAPPER: Got it. Jessica Schneider, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: As we await word on whether the federal grand jury here in Washington, D.C. has decided to indict Donald Trump, or not. Donald Trump is responding to information he's received on his Truth Social account. CNN's Kristen Holmes is tracking this from Bridgewater, New Jersey,

just down the road from the former president who is at his Bedminster golf club.

Kristen, we don't know where he got this information but what exactly is he claiming?

Okay, Kristen Holmes -- some sort of sound problem we have there with Kristen.

But let's talk about this. Because what Donald Trump has written, panel, he says, I hear that deranged Jack Smith -- that is the special council and deranged is not actually his name -- in order to interfere with the president's election of 2024 will be putting out yet another fake indictment of your favorite president, me, at 5:00 p.m. Why didn't they do this 2.5 years ago? Why did they wait so long? Because they wanted to put it right in the middle of my campaign. Prosecutorial misconduct.

Okay. You were a former prosecutor.


TAPPER: Why didn't they do a 2.5 years ago?

COATES: Well, first of all, they don't have work on his timeline. They could work on timeline of the evidence that actually lends itself to. And so, this notion that they are supposedly considering the political calendar is what the DOJ tries to guard fully against.

Also, when you talk about before, they didn't have all of information. The fact that the January 6 committee had really the monopoly on a lot of the data points, a lot of the information they had been trying to get it from the January 6 committee, they had been waiting for that to actually occur. They did have it. They could take the amount of time necessary until the statute of limitations period actually runs. That's the clock that DOJ looks at.

Now, you don't want to wait until the last minute. And why? Because if you're obviously talking about fairness to a defendant but also from the prosecutor's selfish standpoint. Memories fade. People could be -- who were cooperative no longer are cooperative. Grudges and axes to grind could continue. You want to be as efficient as you could be without compromise anything.

And, finally, you know, you have to be able to see where the evident leads you. Some things involve subpoena, getting information back, having follow-ups, having discussions about what else is happening.


So a lot of things take place.


COATES: This is really predictable of Trump. TAPPER: And, Jamie, we should note, I mean, why didn't it take place

2.5 years ago?

Any number of people who are still allegiance to Donald Trump and some who aren't, like Mike Pence, were fighting cooperating with the special counsel.

GANGEL: No question. Some of this had to play out in the courts, but I spoke to a senior justice official who said to me, eight months is actually a land speed record for a case that's as complicated as this. They looked at it as if, you know, he was going as fast as he could. There are a lot of moving parts.

Who is cooperating to your point, getting people to cooperate, you know, the January 6th committee did give the Justice Department a road map. They did give them a running start. Just remember, they interviewed more than a thousand witnesses, but they also held back that information for a while. So the Justice Department had to start when they could start.

TAPPER: And, Kaitlan, go ahead.

COLLINS: Well, I also, I mean, two and a half years ago would have been I believe a month after January 6th happened.

TAPPER: Right.

COLLINS: I don't think anyone would have brought charges against a sitting president who just left office a month before with only one month of investigation -- of investigative work done. I mean, obviously, they do take time.

There was a lot of extensive reporting, including "The Washington Post", that the DOJ was a little slow at getting into this, not just because of the January 6th committee, but also because there was this concern of a perception of going after and investigating a former president, something that Attorney General Garland did not take lightly and neither did FBI Director Chris Wray and others and how they looked at the people who actually broke into the Capitol before they looked into the fake elector scheme, the fundraising, and everything else here.

Trump is claiming that this is coming in nine minutes. It's not clear to us. I should note that he has been notified that he has been indicted. Our sense right now is this could be him looking at press speculation, and that is why he's saying that. His team, we've been talking to them. They've been waiting to see if this is actually going to happen. They've been bracing for it. They don't know that it will be nine minutes. But they're obviously waiting for it to happen any moment now.

COATES: And, by the way, I mean, this is -- if this were just about January 6th as the date, maybe the timeline that he is trying to put forth might make sense to someone. Not me. But this is about what happened leading up to January 6th, not just what was 187 minutes of dereliction of duty as they outlined in terms of what he was not doing while a mob was attacking the Capitol.

It goes back to the preparation leading up to the election. Various states have been implicated. Data points from all the different entities, et cetera. You've got so much more here than just that actual date, which was bad enough to build that case.

It takes time. And I repeat again, the Department of Justice is not beholden to the pleasure and schedule of a potential defendant.

TAPPER: Yeah. No, I mean, you know this as a former prosecutor and also as a journalist, but those of us who cover any kinds of trials, whether, you know, any -- any alleged crime, it takes time. You have to talk to witnesses. You have to get your facts straight.

And you can't, you know, as Omar said on "The Wire", if you come for the king, you best not miss. If you're going make a criminal complaint against a former president, it better be rock solid.

GANGEL: That was a critical point here. I mean, how many people thought in the beginning there was all this speculation that Attorney General Merrick Garland was not going to do this, that it was too high a bar, even though he then famously came out and said, no one is above the law.

But exactly to your point, Jake, they wanted to make sure this case was beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the former president. This is Donald Trump, who does not behave like most former presidents.


We continue to await word from the Justice Department on whether the D.C. grand jury hearing the 2020 election interference case has taken any action on an indictment. We're waiting to hear whether Donald Trump is right when he says that special counsel Jack Smith is planning a press statement in minutes.

We'll have latest from our team of correspondents, just ahead. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we begin this hour in our law and justice lead, as we could soon learn any minute right now whether former President Donald Trump and his top allies face criminal charges from a federal grand jury who has been investigating their efforts to try to overturn the 2020 election, which of course led up to the deadly January 6th Capitol insurrection.

Just moments ago, Donald Trump adding to the speculation that an indictment could be imminent in a post on his social media account. He wrote, quote, I hear that deranged Jack Smith in order to interfere with the presidential election of 2024 will be putting out yet another fake indictment of your favorite president, me, at 5:00 p.m. If that does come to pass, this would mark the third criminal

indictment in addition to superseding indictment filed by special counsel Jack Smith last week, against Donald Trump twice arrested, twice impeached former president of the United States, currently the dominant front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

We're going to begin this hour with CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid who is tracking all the latest developments.

And, Paula, it's unclear when or if the federal grand jury has even voted on whether or not they want to indict Donald Trump. What do we know about how and when we might find out?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Here's what we know, Jake. We know the grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the special counsel's investigation into January 6th.