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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump To Appear In Court Tomorrow For January 6 Indictment; Charging Docs Cite Six Unindicted Trump Co-conspirators; Who is the Judge Who Will Oversee Trump's DC Case; Trump Indictment Includes Details Of Co-Conspirators' Comments About Possible Violence In Effort To Overturn 2020 Election; U.S. Credit Rating Downgraded For Second Time In American History; Ukraine: Russia Hits Grain Facility Near Romanian Border. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 02, 2023 - 16:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: We're going full mom and dad on that.


That sheriff's corporal today the teenager if you were an adult, maybe not surprising here, he would have gone straight to jail for reckless driving. Instead, he was given a speeding ticket requiring a court appearance, which is probably why he brought dad into the mix.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: I got to say, that was a great move by the cop there.


SCIUTTO: First one, he called a parent, not a call you want to get. But, boy, that kid I -- well, I hope learned a lesson.



KEILAR: An important one.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The former president of the United States is about to be arrested for a third time.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Donald Trump is expected to head to Washington, D.C. where he will make his first appearance in federal court in connection with the January 6 riot and attempts to overthrow the 2020 election. How the nation's Capitol is preparing for his possibility appearance just down the road from the site of the insurrection.

And then who are Trump's six co-conspirators listed in the indictment, though not named? And how do they fit into Trump's world? CNN has identified five of them. Who is number six? Plus, she was speaker of the House when the mob of MAGA rioters

stormed the Capitol.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We have got to get to finish the proceedings or else they will have a complete victory.


TAPPER: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, will join me life with her first interview since the January 6 indictment.


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

Just about 24 hours from right now, Donald Trump is expected to appear in federal court here in Washington, D.C. where he will face unprecedented criminal charges for his unprecedented alleged attempts to overthrow the 2020 election or as the grand jury put it, quote, despite having lost, the defendant was determined to remain in power, unquote.

Today, we're going to walk you through every angle of this stunning indictment of the former president, including the four charges. How did Donald Trump allegedly break the law? What kind of punishment could he face? Our legal experts are here to break it all down.

We're also going to take a closer look at the judge overseeing this case, District Judge Tanya Chutkan. She's presided over a dozen of criminal cases against the alleged January 6 rioters and she has ruled against Trump's legal team once before.

Plus, we're going to take a look at who are the coconspirators. CNN can identify five of the six unnamed coconspirators in the indictment, including former Trump lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman and Sidney Powell. None of them have yet been charged, although they still could be. What were their roles in this alleged scheme?

Then we'll also take a look at whether members of Trump's team suggested violence could be necessary to keep him in office. The references in the indictment about potential riots in the streets and sending the U.S. military to suppress any protesters.

And of course we'll take a look at the political impact of all this on the 2024 race. The White House has tried to distance itself from the Justice Department's actions. But will President Biden campaign on the charges against his top rival? And how will this arrest impact Trump, or any of his Republican opponents?

CNN's Katelyn Polantz starts off our coverage today from outside of the courthouse here in D.C.

Katelyn, will Trump be in court tomorrow in person, or can this arrest and arraignment take place remotely? KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Jake, this

court does do remote appearances sometimes for defendants that aren't in custody. But this is Donald Trump and he's going to be here in person in Washington, D.C. That is the full expectation of both the court and as well as everybody involved with this.

We did get a statement from the Secret Service a bit ago saying there are some short-term traffic implications. The Secret Service is the law enforcement entity to protect Donald Trump. But there are lots of law enforcement that is going to be in downtown Washington tomorrow, making sure everything around here is secure. There is building security from the federal government, city police, Capitol police, park police, all of that is going to come together to make sure that Donald Trump could get in and out of this courthouse to face these charges against him related to January 6th for the first time.

TAPPER: Kaitlan, we know about tomorrow, when are we going to find out about the schedule beyond that? The next time Trump will be in court in this case, for example?

POLANTZ: Jake, in this courthouse, we often do hear the next date at the end of these initial hearings. So, it's very possible we're getting even a beginning sense of the timeline as soon as tomorrow. So the hearing tomorrow, it is expected to be quite short. It's before a magistrate judge, Judge Moxila Upadhyaya.

And she's going to be just essentially making sure Donald Trump knows what he's charged with and then potentially giving him the opportunity to put his initial pleading of in not guilty.


Then the case goes to District Judge Tanya Chutkan and she's the one that really sets the schedule and sets essentially the schedule not just the trial, but everything that happens up to trial. This case could be fairly straightforward in that he's the only defendant and not like in Florida, there's no classified information. It is these charges much of which is already well-known because of the ongoing investigations -- Jake.

TAPPER: Katelyn Polantz outside the courthouse here in Washington, D.C., thanks so much.

Let's take a closer look now at the charges that Donald Trump will be arrested and arraigned on tomorrow.

CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid is here with us.

Paula, let's start with the conspiracy to defraud the United States. What exactly does that mean?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Jake, no real surprises here in the list of charges for that particular charge. What you're alleging here is a scheme between any two people to either break federal law or defraud the U.S. government. And here, they're alleging that former president not only conspired with one person but conspired with six other people to try to undermine the outcome of the 2020 election.

And then they use the indictment to try to explain exactly how they believe he did that, alleging that he tried to install these slates of fake electors, tried to pressure states, pressure his own vice president and even use his own Justice Department to overturn the results of the election. Now, a key component of successfully prosecuting someone under this charge is proving deceit which is why you see throughout this indictment they continue to emphasize how Trump knew that these claims of election fraud were false and how many people told him there is no evidence to support this.

TAPPER: Counts two and three that Trump faces are about an official proceeding. Walk us through those. What does that mean?

REID: So, this is about January 6 itself and certifying the election results. So, here, they're alleging that he conspired to interfere that day with that proceeding. And this is -- interestingly, this is one of the frequently used felony charges against the people who actually rioted on January 6.

TAPPER: And then, of course, there's count four, conspiracy against rights. Do we know for sure this is specifically alleging that Donald Trump violated the voting rights of individuals?

REID: Yeah, this was so interesting. This is one of the few surprises, when we learned about these civil rights charge from the original target letter. But this charge criminalized any effort to quote, injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate people to stop them from exercising their constitutional rights and prosecutors are alleging that Trump tried to prevent people from being able to properly exercise their right to vote.

And the history of this particular law is interesting. This is passed after the civil war to prevent groups like the Ku Klux Klan from trying to terrorize black people who are trying to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

So, it's been limited in terms of its use. The Supreme Court has limited its use. It could fit here, but it is up to prosecutors to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.

TAPPER: Just quickly, Paula, is this about trying to prevent individuals from voting or trying to prevent those individuals from their votes being counted?

REID: They're votes being counted because one of the key aspects of this scheme. It wasn't to prevent people from walking into a voting booth but instead to prevent the slate of electors who would represent their votes from actually being represented in Congress.

TAPPER: Very interesting. OK. Paula Reid, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Let's talk about this with CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Jamie Gangel. Also with us, former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig. Kaitlan, for voters who might think just turning out another Trump indictment and I can't keep track of what these are all about any more. Give us the 30,000-foot view on why what's happening tomorrow and this general indictment and case are significant?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: I think because this is the legacy of the Trump administration. I mean, for everything that happened while he was in office, the way he left office and the way he fought to maintain his grip on power is the story of the Trump presidency. And it was an attack on democracy and to try to overturn votes.

I mean, you could see it in the description of the way that people who worked there have even talked about it and the way they talked about that day. Whether or not they believe what he did was criminal or wrong, I mean, look at what Mike Pence himself has been saying about this, saying that he was asked to overturn the election on that day. And so, that's why this is such a big part of this.

And this is going to be such a question for candidates on the campaign trail because when you talk to the die hard loyal supporters of the former president, they don't believe what happened on January 6 by enlarge was wrong or anything happened that day. You see how he has whitewashed it and said it is a peaceful protest and people letting their voices be heard.

But when you talk to independent and middle of the road voters which helped get him to office the first time, that is not how they see it. So I think it is a question for the other candidates in stark terms as this is playing out now that these charges have been brought against him.

TAPPER: Yeah, not just Trump, of course, whitewashing. He has an entire conservative MAGA media network, with Fox and others that are lying and whitewashing this.


Jamie, we've heard these arguments now from the Trump team. What do you make them? One, that the things he said were constitutionally protected free speech, and two there is no way that prosecutors would be able to prove that Trump knew the lies he was telling about the election were lies?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, first of all, the indictment is filled with examples of incidents they believe prove that Trump knew that he lied. I mean, page after page after page.

I'll just say from a practical point of view, Jack Smith would not have brought this case if he didn't think he was going to get a conviction here. Look, common sense. Donald Trump knew he had lost. He heard it from his attorney general, from his White House counsel and from his campaign officials, from Mike Pence, these are all close advisers and allies, if he had stayed in power, they have would have stayed in power. It was to their benefit to stay in power. So this was not about free speech. This was not about the fact that he

didn't understand the advice he was getting, it wasn't the advice he wanted. He wanted to stay in power, so he went looking for people who would back that up with these crazy plots like John Eastman.

TAPPER: Yeah, and, Elie, earlier today, Trump attorney John Lauro raised the notion that the Trump team might try to move this trial out of Washington, D.C. Take a listen.


HOST: Would you seek a venue change?


HOST: Where do you want it to go instead?

LAURO: Well, there's other options. I mean, there's certainly West Virginia which is close by. There's other areas of the country.

HOST: West Virginia?

LAURO: Absolutely. It's very in close proximity to D.C.

HOST: Which is like the political opposite of Washington, D.C. You think you'll get a fair trial there.

LAURO: Well, listen, it's much more diverse than Washington, D.C., which I think were 95 percent for Mr. Biden.


TAPPER: Putting aside for a second the notion that West Virginia is more, quote, diverse than Washington, D.C., what do you think about the argument for a change of venue?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it is a motion that Donald Trump's team is smart to make but certain to lose. I fully understand why Donald Trump wants to get out of the District of Columbia as Mr. Lauro said. Donald Trump got 5.4 percent of the vote there in 2020. By the way, he got 68 percent of the vote in West Virginia.

But in order to succeed on this motion, you need first of all, one option is if DOJ agrees, they're not going to agree. So then you have to go to the judge. The judge can move the case to a different venue, one, if it's more convenient, this would be wildly inconvenient to move this from D.C. to West Virginia, or, tow, if it's necessary to ensure the fairness of the trial.

But judge will say, look, we have jury selection processes. Donald Trump as a defendant will have the right to strike, to get rid of many jurors, and I, the judge, will instruct jurors that they're to put aside their political beliefs. So, I think any such motion, I get why Trump will make, it's doomed to lose. TAPPER: Kaitlan, take a listen, you were talking about Vice President

Mike Pence a second ago. Take a listen to what he had to say -- his latest sound on the indictment.


MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sadly, the president was sour rounded by a group of crackpot lawyers that kept telling him what his itching ears wanted to hear. And while I made my case to him, the president ultimately -- ultimately, you know, continued to demand that I choose him over the Constitution.


TAPPER: I mean, no lies detected. But do you think Pence's team was prepared for how much his view of what happened during that period was going to be part of the indictment.

COLLINS: I think they definitely knew after he was forced to speak to Jack Smith's team. I mean, they did fight it on a different reason and why Trump's legal team fought it. And obviously he had to go in.

Obviously, he either quoted his notes to Jack Smith or he gave Jack Smith the notes that he took after a meeting that he had with Donald Trump on January 4th.

And the other part of the indictment is where Trump was telling people who were saying, you know, Pence doesn't have that power and Trump was saying, well, you don't need to talk to Pence. I will talk to the vice president, essentially saying people who were undercutting his argument shouldn't be talking to Pence.

But the other thing that Pence said while he was in Iowa is directly refuting what John Lauro told me last night, which is he said, you know, they didn't ask for Pence to do anything wrong, they just asked for a pause on the vote count, which we know is not true. But Pence goes, quote, it wasn't that they asked for a pause. They specifically asked me to literally reject votes which would have resulted in an issue being turned over to the House of Representatives and then ensued in chaos.

TAPPER: How is this playing in Pence's camp?

GANGEL: Look, I think this -- Mike Pence, there is no surprise to them that he was in the indictment. He is a firsthand fact witness. There was meeting after meeting, phone call after phone call. He may have been a reluctant witness, but now that he's there, he can provide evidence that nobody else could provide, of what Donald Trump was saying, thinking and doing.


TAPPER: A group of crackpot lawyers -- I'm going to be quoting that.

COLLINS: Crackpot is one word and I accidently did it as two earlier on Twitter. TAPPER: Yeah, that means something else entirely.

Elie, special counsel Jack Smith says he's going to seek a speedy trial. Do you think this trial could happen theoretically before the classified documents case, which is scheduled for when again?

HONIG: May of 2024. So, Jake, it is theoretically possible this January 6 trial gets heard before the election but something has to give, because as it stands right now, we have essentially a five-month continual block in the middle of 2024. The New York case, the hush money case, that one starts in late March. That's going to go through to April.

The Mar-a-Lago documents case starts in late May. That's going to go through to June and July. You're not going to start a January 6 trial in August of 2024. That's going to carry through the election. So, the only other possibility is before. You'd have to start that basically tomorrow, in order to get that in. So, only if one of these two trials set right now moves.

TAPPER: All right. Elie, Jamie, Kaitlan, thanks one and all.

Coming up, she'll be overseeing the most high profile criminal case in the United States. So who is the judge in the Donald Trump January 6 case? That's next.

And how the latest Trump indictment could have an impact on your money after one agency downgrades the U.S. credit rating.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Sticking with our law and justice lead, Trump may not end up being the only person to face legal troubles stemming from Jack Smith's investigation into the efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In fact, the indictment lists six coconspirators who could face charges as the special counsel continues his investigation.

CNN's Tom Foreman joins me now.

Tom, they don't say who they are, who do we think they are?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, who we think they are based on what we have here is -- I don't mean to impugn, but very likely the crackpot lawyers.

TAPPER: Just quoting Mike Pence, just quoting Mike Pence.

FOREMAN: What he said about this, right?


FOREMAN: So let's go through the list of who believe it is. Number one, Rudy Giuliani here, former Trump lawyer. He pushed

election lies in public and in court. Everybody knows that, if you follow this case at all, already facing lawsuits about some of the things he said. Disciplinary actions related to that.

John Eastman, former Trump lawyer, promoted the idea that the electoral certification could be stopped. A big champion of that idea and we know from all of our coverage. Indictment, he also pushed -- he says he pushed a memorandum that Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the election. We know that's not true. He never had that legal right.

Sidney Powell, she was out there. Former Trump lawyer, widely promoted the baseless allegations of election fraud. Notably, she was one of the really big names out there pushing the idea that there was something wrong with the voting machines, which also is not true.

Jeffrey Clark, he was over in the Justice Department, the indictment quotes email suggesting he tried to use the Justice Department to overturn the election. He pushed the idea of alternate slates of electors in each state, like okay the state has chosen the electors, let's name other ones for Trump and have them pretend to be the right ones all in what looked like exchange for a big promotion.

TAPPER: Yeah, to become the attorney general. Right.

FOREMAN: Which did not happen.

And then, Kenneth Chesebro is the last one here, pro-Trump lawyer. He also worked on the alternate electors plan.

But that's what we know about those people. You can also take it for granted, as most of team Trump. Everyone denies doing anything wrong. But these are the people that we believe are the unindicted coconspirators.

TAPPER: Yeah. The prisons are full of people who didn't do anything wrong, or claimed --

FOREMAN: Almost exclusive.

TAPPER: Claimed that way.


TAPPER: So I would say, so that's a coconspirators one through five.


TAPPER: Who do we think number six could be essentially? What do we know about him or her?

FOREMAN: Number six is the wild card in all of this. We don't know who this is. What we could learn from the indictment about him. Identity is unclear. This person helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of

electors, what we talked about moments ago, was on a conference call with Giuliani and Chesebro about Pennsylvania electors. I know you've covered that a great deal.


FOREMAN: And tried to confirm phone numbers for senators for Giuliani and Trump on January 6 when we know there is a real push to say, let's just let things keep boiling to give us a little more time to see if maybe we could stop this from being certified.

So we don't know name, yet, we have guesses, but mainly, we know a little bit about the person.

TAPPER: Interesting. Tom Foreman, thank you so much.

Coming up, the judge who will preside over Trump's criminal case in D.C. is no stranger to cases involving the January 6 riot. Judge Tanya Chutkan forcefully rejected Trump's attempts to block the January 6 Select Committee from accessing White House records.

CNN's Jessica Schneider drove into Chutkan's background and compiled some of her prior remarks that have Trump defenders raising their eyebrows.



JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Judge Tanya Chutkan was confirmed 95-nothing by the U.S. Senate in 2014 after being nominated by President Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The nomination is confirmed.

SCHNEIDER: For nearly a decade, she served as one of about two dozen judges at the federal trial court in Washington, D.C.

CHUTKAN: The ideal judge has always been for me one who is open- minded, fair, and prepared.

SCHNEIDER: But now that she's been selected at random to preside over Donald Trump's criminal case, for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, her impartiality is being questioned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She worked for Boies Schiller which, of course, is Hunter Biden's firm of choice.

SCHNEIDER: In November 2021, Chutkan forcefully rejected Trump's attempts to block the January 6 committee from accessing more than 700 pages of his White House records, writing: Presidents are not kings and plaintiff is not president.

Her decision was slammed by Trump but delighted Democrats, leading the congressional investigation into the Capitol attack.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): It's a big deal. We have a lot of information we've requested.

SCHNEIDER: Judge Chutkan has also overseen dozens of criminal cases against capitol rioters and implicated Trump on several occasions, telling one rioter during sentencing that he did not go to the United States Capitol out of any love for our country. He went for one man.


She also pushed back against claims that the protesters on January 6 can be compared to other people protesting against racial inequality in recent years, saying during one hearing in 2021: to compare the action of people protesting mostly peacefully for civil rights to those of a violent mob seeking to overthrow the lawfully elected government is a false equivalence and ignores a very real danger that the January 6 riot posed to the foundation of our democracy.

HONIG: The judge has been strong in her rulings related to January 6. She has given many memorable entertainments, presidents are not kings and like. So, good draw for the prosecution.


SCHNEIDER: Now, Judge Chutkan has come down hard sentencing some of the convicted Capitol rioters. She often denounced their disdain for the rule of law. Now, notably, Jake, tomorrow's arraignment of the former president, it will be in front of a magistrate judge and after that, the case will be handed over to Judge Chutkan. She'll conduct the criminal trial proceedings -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

Coming up, a deep dive in one of the most troubling details from inside of the indictment.



TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, one of the most striking takeaways from the new indictment of former Donald Trump, the flip references to violence allegedly made by Trump's coconspirators. Put together with the public calls for violence that we saw from Trump and others at the January 6th rally, it's really quite chilling.


TAPPER (voice-over): The indictment includes some startling details about the alleged willingness of Trump's coconspirators to foment violence. In a meeting on January 4th, one of former President Trump senior advisers told coconspirator number two, John Eastman, his plan to undermine the Democratic election would, quote, cause riots in the streets. The indictment says that Eastman, quote, responded that there had

previously been points in the nation's history where violence was necessary to protect the republic, unquote.

And former Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, coconspirator number four, expressed a similar sentiment in a meeting on January 3rd when he was told by a deputy White House counsel that there would be, quote, riots and every major city if Trump didn't leave office. According to the indictment, Clark responded, quote, well, that's why there's an Insurrection Act, unquote -- a reference to the 1807 lot empowering the president to use the military to suppress any civil disorder.

The indictment mentions how Trump and two coconspirators spoke at the Save America rally in Washington, D.C. a few hours before the official counting of electoral votes at the Capitol.

Rudy Giuliani, riling up the crowd.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Let's have trial by combat.

TAPPER: And then, President Trump saying flat out, the rules no longer applied.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Fraud breaks up everything, doesn't it? When you catch somebody in a fraud, you're allowed to go by very different rules.

TAPPER: The indictment also notes how Trump and his coconspirators deceived the crowd gathered that morning, encouraging them to believe Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the election results.

JOHN EASTMAN, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: All we are demanding of Vice President Pence is this afternoon at 1:00, he led the legislators of the state look into this so that we get to the bottom of it.

TRUMP: I hope mike is going to do the right thing, I hope so. I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.

TAPPER: And then, Trump said this.

TRUMP: We fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country any more.

TAPPER: And a few hours later, some in the crowd chanted --

CROWD: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence.


TAPPER: Now, Charles Burnham, an attorney for John Eastman says the indictment, quote, relies on a misleading presentation of the record, unquote, and that his client would decline a plea deal if offered one. Burnham also said, quote, the fact is if Dr. Eastman is indicted, he'll go to trial. If convicted, he will appeal. The Eastman legal team is confident of its legal position in this matter, unquote.

CNN also reached out to the attorney for Jeffrey Clark. We have not received a response yet.

And even within the past two weeks, we should note, Donald Trump issued another veiled threat of violence saying it would be, quote, very dangerous if he were jailed over the 2020 election case. He pointed to so-called passion of his fan base. Trump has rejected any suggestion he was if the wrong in any way after the election.

Let's talk about this all with former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger who served as a member of the Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack.

Congressman, obviously, a lot of this information, though not all of it, but a lot was revealed by your committee, the January 6 Committee. But what do you think about the four counts Trump was charged with and did anything in the indictment surprise you at all?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm glad, obviously, he's being charged. We can't be a county that allows -- you know, we can't first off just go after former presidents but we can't allow former presidents to get away with attempted coups. So, a lot of it is what we saw.

There are some things that surprise. I think what you just laid out, the level of acknowledgment that there would be violence and kind of the cavalier attitude towards or the callousness. I think the intent, the extent to which Rudy Giuliani continued to try to lobby Congress both during and after the violence, it still blows me away. It surprises me.

And I think, you know, just listening to all of this, I still just can't wrap my head around that all of this, everything that our country has been through is based on one man's inability to accept that he lost and he lied.


So, there's not a lot that surprises me. But I'm certainly glad DOJ has seemed to be able to get even deeper than we were.

TAPPER: Are you disappointed that Trump is not facing any charges directly connected with the violence on January 6. I mean, five people did lose their lives and four of them were Trump supporters.

KINZINGER: So, I would like to see it happen. You know, that's up to, frankly, the DOJ to figure out what that avenue is, to charge somebody with. And I'm holding out hope here that there's still going to be a superseding indictment, maybe more charges against the former president as they continue to get more information. Maybe that next tier is going to be indicted, these unindicted co-conspirators, or even others, particularly on January 6.

So, I'm still holding out a little hope in that. But regardless of what happens, this is important that the former president's being held accountable to this level.

TAPPER: Trump attorney John Lauro is previewing how he and the legal team, the Trump legal team, intend to defend him in this case. Take a listen.


JOHN LAURO, TRUMP ATTORNEY: Our defense is focusing on the fact that we have now is an administration that has criminalized the free speech and advocacy of a prior administration during time that there is a political election going on.


TAPPER: What's your reaction to this free speech defense?

KINZINGER: Well, it's asinine.

So, a couple of things. First off, they're not saying, if you notice, not saying -- well, we think the election was stolen. They're not making that argument. They're saying the president has a right to lie. Okay. Fine.

The president really doesn't have a right to lie when it leads to an attempted coup. And that's what I think people are missing. This is just not a president speaking.

The president first off, when you make an oath, when you swear an oath to Constitution, to uphold and defend it, you have to live by their standards. But secondly, when you attempt a coup, and that is what this was. You have to be held accountable.

What they're in essence saying is, as long as the coup fails, well, then it's just freedom of speech. If it succeeds, then, of course, they're in power and they could do whatever they want. That is very dangerous for this country and I think that's probably the only defense they could make in terms of the First Amendment. But I think it's asinine.

TAPPER: Speaker McCarthy is slamming the indictment, calling it an example of a two-tiered system of justice, accusing the Justice Department of only doing this to distract from news about Hunter Biden. This is obviously a different message from what McCarthy was saying shortly after the riot.

Just to remind our viewers. Take a look.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.

I've had with this guy. What he did is unacceptable. Nobody could defend that and nobody should defend it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The last part is from January 10th, 2021. A conference call that McCarthy was on.

Why is he now one of Trump's biggest defenders and pretending that horrific day didn't happen?

KINZINGER: Well, I could make this quick. When you give a little bit of your soul, you have to give all of your soul, because of the sunken cause fallacy. You cannot admit you were wrong the whole time, and he knows better. I wouldn't -- I wouldn't want to carry around the burden he carries of misleading the entire country but that's his burden to bear.

TAPPER: Former Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thank you so much. Appreciate your time, sir.

Coming up, how the latest Trump indictment could impact the U.S. economy and your wallet. That's next.



TAPPER: The United States' previously pristine AAA credit rating has been downgraded a notch by Fitch ratings, a credit rating agency. The reason, Fitch says its, quote, steady deterioration and standards of governance over the last 20 years, including on fiscal and debt matters, unquote.

So, what might that mean for you and your money?

CNN's Richard Quest joins us.

Richard, should every day Americans be worried?


Janet Yellen has described this move as entirely unwarranted saying she strongly disagreed and most economists say the timing of it is all a bit weird and bizarre on a random Tuesday in August to be downgrading in this way.

Longer term, though, Jake, yes, because longer term, what Fitch was doing was sending a shot across the bows, saying basically, the erosion of governance, the repeated failure to run the economy in that way properly, normally, if you will, without nearly going over the cliff every few years an that is what this is really all about.

TAPPER: Yeah, it's hard to disagree with Fitch's assessment.

But the U.S. economy as you note is going strong. The private sector added more than 320,000 jobs in the U.S. in July. Recession fears are dwindling and inflation is getting better.

Why now?

QUEST: That's the heart of it. Why now? Because if you remember, S&P did it in 2011 at the height of a debt crisis. And S&P has never restored AAA back to the United States. So, it's all about the long- term trend.

If you talk to Fitch, they basically said they didn't like what was happening. They don't like the direction it is going. There doesn't seem to be an improvement in the functionability of the decision- making in the U.S. Why now? Why not?

TAPPER: Could investors start to turn away from the U.S. market if the Fed continues to hike rates?

QUEST: No. Absolutely not. If the Fed hikes rates, it will draw in more money on higher interest rates. But longer term? Absolutely -- I mean, medium term, no. This is still the cleanest dirty shirt in the laundry.


Money is being sucked in left, right and center.

TAPPER: All right. Richard Quest, thanks you so much. Appreciate it.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is going to join me live in the first interview since Donald Trump was indicted for what happened on January 6. Her responses to the charges, that's ahead.


TAPPER: An unabashed Russian attack on global food security tops our world lead today. Those words from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after drones blew up grain warehouses in the Ukrainian port city on the Danube River, a river that divides Ukraine and Romania.

Remember, Romania is a NATO country. Romania's president said the proximity of the strikes to the border is, quote, unacceptable.


This all comes as Ukraine continues to try to claw back its rightful land to the east.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has some stunning video from the frontlines.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's usually only the dead lying here and the craters of Ukraine's southern front. But sometimes, a glimpse of life shines. This drone spotting a Ukrainian soldier, Serhiy, separated from his unit. Wounded in the chest and leg by shelling, he filmed this as he lay alone, bleeding. He feared whatever fight he would put up would not be enough he later told CNN from his hospital bed. SERHIY, UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): I was ready to fight

for my life, and I did, laying there under the blazing sun. I realized I was too close to the Russians, and you even look at your gun in a different way.

WALSH: But the drone operators had other plans. They attached water, medicine, and a note to the drone and sent it back. It found him again and dropped the package. But he didn't know if it was friendly or a Russian bomb.

SERHIY: All the time I was crawling, a drone was always hovering above. We didn't realize if it was friend or foe. It was a lottery.

WALSH: This is the moment he realized the drone may save him. The water and medicine kept coming, easing the pain that was visible, even from up high. And then he crawled back to safety.

SERHIY: The combat medics who gave me first aid when they found me were very surprised I survived for two days with a pierced lung.

WALSH: Serhiy is recovering and talks now of a new life with greater value and purpose. They don't want to leave anyone behind, said the drone operator.

Every life is important to us. I could not live with myself if we just left someone behind in the field.


Probably only several miles away, salvation was uglier. Here, as Ukrainian assaults by the 15th National Guard on a Russian position.


It is ferocious, and eventually forced a dozen Russian troops to pull back. Artillery had injured the Russian commander badly, and the Russians left him behind, presuming he was dead.

But this video supplied by Ukrainian forces shows they found him alive. He received medical treatment. Without naming him for his safety, he was later awarded a posthumous medal according to Russian media reports. Left behind and declared dead by his comrades.

The Ukrainians who found him say he may have wished he didn't survive. We said, don't try anything or you'll die, he says. And he asked us to shoot him. When we offered him a chance to do it himself, but he said he could not do that. He's an enemy, and I had no real desire to save him. But orders are orders, and they had our guys, and we can swap prisoners.

As a human, another says, I was shocked that they had left him behind. But as a soldier, I know my enemy, and I know it's not an uncommon practice for them.

The opposite fates on different sides in these wide, ugly expanses of violence. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH (on camera): Now, parts, of course, of Ukraine's renewed push south in this counteroffensive is losses on both sides. You can see they are mounting. That remarkable rescue and taking into captivity of a Russian commander. We may see more of what we saw today, Jake, attacks near the Romanian border on grain facilities by Russia, perhaps a bid to taunt NATO who is staunchly backing Ukraine and perhaps also a reflection of how vulnerable Russia feels as Ukraine begins to increase the pressure in the south, Jake.

TAPPER: Remarkable story from CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in Zaporizhzhia. Thank you so much, Nick.

She was on the House floor when those MAGA rioters stormed the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. Now, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is going to talk to us about the latest Trump charges in her first interview since the indictment came down. That's next.



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

This hour, sentenced to death. The gunman who shot and killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, he will be executed for carrying out the worst antisemitic attack on American soil. The families of the victims respond to the jury's verdict.

And then, she was in the Capitol when rioters stormed and tried to stop lawmakers from certifying the 2020 election results. In just moments, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins me live in her first interview since Trump's indictment for the insurrection.

And leading this hour, Donald Trump preparing to appear before a federal judge here in the nation's capitol in less than 24 hours. He is facing allegations from special counsel Jack Smith that he was the pivotal figure in a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election, which the special counsel called, an unprecedented assault on American democracy.

Let's get right to CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez.

Evan, Trump is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow. What are we expecting to happen?