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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Pelosi Responds To Trump Jan. 6 Indictment; Rep. Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA), Is Interviewed About Trump Indictment, China; Pelosi On McCarthy's Reaction To Latest Trump Indictment; Pelosi One Year After Controversial Taiwan Trip; Indictment: Trump Knowingly Spread "Prolific Lies"; Indictment: Trump Knowingly Lied About Voter Fraud; Trump Charged With 4 Counts In Historic Indictment; Jury Votes To Sentence Pittsburgh Synagogue Mass Shooter To Death. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 02, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Evan, Trump is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow. What are we expecting to happen? And what do we know about a possible timeline for a trial?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we expect this to happen very quickly. The former president is going to come into town. They'll make him -- they'll bring him to the federal courthouse very quickly from the airport, and then he'll be processed very, very quickly before he has this very short hearing before the federal magistrate there. He's already been fingerprinted, he's already been processed more recently in the case in Florida. So all of this should happen very, very quickly.

And then, we expect that the judge will start setting up a timeline, which the Justice Department wants to happen, obviously, before the 2024 election, something that I think is very, very possible.

TAPPER: What do we know about the judge assigned to hear this case? Because I believe she's had some pretty strong dealings with January 6 defendants.

PEREZ: She has. And look, Judge Tanya Chutkan, he -- she is a Jamaican born Obama appointee. She's been on the bench since 2014, Jake. And like a lot of the judges there, you know, they dealt with this violence at the Capitol. It was right across the way from the federal courthouse, and they've been processing a lot of the January 6 defendants in that courthouse.

One of the things that she and others have said is, you know, essentially that people who carried out this assault on American democracy needed to have their day in court, and they needed to make sure that they paid the consequences for what they did. And so, you can see that's going to hang over this case as it goes forward.

TAPPER: The indictment lays out six coconspirators, doesn't name them, but we figured out pretty much who five of the six are, they haven't been charged. What does that mean? And do we expect them to face charges in the future? PEREZ: It's very likely, Jake, that these people could face charges very, very soon. And look, we know, as you pointed out, five of the six. We know Rudy Giuliani, of course, John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Jeffrey Clark, all of these guys were integral in this effort to try to pressure state officials, to pressure legislators, to pressure the Congress to try to make sure -- find a way for Donald Trump to remain in power. And what the Justice Department did with this charge I'm sorry, with this indictment, it put them on notice that this investigation is continuing and that there's a lot of evidence that they already have against all of these people. So the question is, how soon could they bring charges against these people?

It's clear that they believe they were very much involved in what Donald Trump was doing. And so, it's possible some of those charges could come in the coming weeks and months.

TAPPER: Evan Perez, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Law enforcement here in the nation's capital is already making preparations for Donald Trump's initial court appearance tomorrow here in D.C. CNN's Kristen Holmes is following this all from Bridgewater, New Jersey, just down the road from Mr. Trump, who is at his Bedminster Golf Club.

Kristen, what is the Trump team saying ahead of tomorrow's hearing?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now we have every expectation that he is going to show up tomorrow. They have not confirmed that but I was told by political advisors for some time they were having conversations about whether or not to do this via Zoom. Would they be able to craft a media narrative around this if they did this via Zoom? And it seems what we expect is that Donald Trump is going to do this in person. And that, of course, is because they are going to continue to use this footage, to use these indictments, these arraignments, as fodder for the political campaign.

Donald Trump is saying that this is all political, that this is because he is the front runner of a GOP primary, that is because he is likely to run against Joe Biden. And in order to continue that narrative, they want the images out there of him showing up to a courthouse, of him getting arraigned. As we know, even from the first arraignment, they brought their own videographer and then used the images of that in campaign ads.

So that's what we expect to see again tomorrow, potentially remarks as well. All of this, again, as they try to spin their own narrative around his third indictment.

TAPPER: Kristen Holmes in Bridgewater, New Jersey, thank you so much.



(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: The sound of the mob on January 6 chanting, Nancy. Nancy Pelosi, of course, was speaker of the House on that day and a target of the mob's rage as they ransacked her office, some brazenly calling to kill her. In a documentary from Pelosi's daughter, Alexandra, we saw how then speaker, along with the other congressional leaders, gathered in a secure location, urgently calling military and law enforcement to try to end the violent siege.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: We're being told it could take days to clear the Capitol.



TAPPER: And joining us now for her first interview since Donald Trump was indicted for the events leading up to that day, Speaker Emerita Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California. It's good to see you.

First of all, how's Paul? How's your husband?

PELOSI: Thank you for asking. He's making progress. I said to him yesterday, I think millions of people around the world are praying for you, do your therapy so that you can get well soon. But he's making great progress. Thank you for asking.

TAPPER: That's good to hear. That's good to hear.

So, you have a singular experience of January 6. As you read the indictment, what was your reaction and what jumped out to you?

PELOSI: It's heartbreaking for our country to have a President of the United States with this list of charges against him. And I just want to commend the January 6 committee, the House committee, bipartisan committee, Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney and all the members of the committee and the staff for the work that they did. They laid a foundation of facts about facts and the law and made a criminal referral to the Justice Department. That was the end of -- that was in December of the end of last year, 2022, and we didn't know what we couldn't know, it wasn't our role to know what the Justice Department would do, if anything. So when it became clear that there would be criminal charges made, it's interesting to see how similar they are to some of the charges recommended by the January 6 committee.

And I commend again the committee. I'm so proud of them, their courage, their bravery, and the courage, really, of all of those who are making the case now. Of course, the former president is innocent until proven guilty, no one is above the law. And the assault that they are making on the rule of law in our country is really a sad thing. I'm sure it would bring tears to the eyes of our founders.

TAPPER: The current speaker of the House, your successor, Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, he responded to the latest indictment by posting on the social media site formerly known as Twitter, quote, "House Republicans will continue to uncover the truth about Biden Incorporated and the two tiered system of justice," unquote. He went on from there. What's your response to Speaker McCarthy trying to refocus this to Hunter Biden and President Biden?

PELOSI: What I would say isn't to remind the American people that on the night when it was very clear to the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives and in the United States Senate that there was an incitement instigated by the president of the United States on the Capitol, on the Congress, more importantly, on the Constitution of the United States. They saw the danger, the danger that we were in. They saw the lack of response from the president for not sending the National Guard, which we pleaded for and pleaded for him and pleaded for him, and Chuck Schumer and I kept pleading with him also to call off his troops, but to send in the National Guard. They saw that.

They saw the danger. They made statements about it that recognized the involvement of President Trump. And then so many of them, majority of them in the House, voted to reject the peaceful transfer of government, accepting the numbers that the vote of the American people as demonstrated by the Electoral College vote. It was heartbreaking that of all the tragedy of that night and then to see them say, OK, we're not supporting the peaceful transfer of power in our country, that means more to me than any of this nonsense that he's engaged in now.

TAPPER: We've also seen a similar response from many of the Republican presidential hopefuls. I want you to take a listen to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis talking to Fox.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the reasons I'm running for president, Harris, is to reconstitutionalize the federal government and these agencies that have become weaponized, the FBI, the DOJ, against political opponents. A D.C. jury would indict a ham sandwich and convict a ham sandwich if it was a Republican ham sandwich.


TAPPER: This is largely the response from Republicans in the House and Republican presidential candidates, with the exception of Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson, and Will Hurd attacking the Justice Department instead of talking about the allegations made in the indictment. What's your response?

PELOSI: It's not my response. I'm not responding to them. I'm speaking as I always have, with or without them, the rule of law is central to a democracy. The fact that the former president was always attacking the rule of law in our country, and now these guys are parroting that, shame on them. Shame on them.


But again, let's not talk about them. Let's just talk about our Constitution, our country, our respect for the rule of law. And by the way, while he was undermining the rule of law, he was also undermining a pillar of our democracy. Part of the First Amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press. So if he can diminish the role of the press and mind of the people to know what the facts are, and he can diminish the role of -- rule of law in our country, we're on a path that is not a good one for our democracy.

So let's not spend too much time on them. Let's spend time on where we need to be as a country. Let's spend time on the greatness of Joe Biden's administration and what he's done for the country, creation of jobs, cutting unemployment in half and the rest. And, you know, you bring up a political question by talking about their political candidates for president. Let's -- if you want to talk about that, let's talk about good things, give -- let's give people hope.

But there is a moment of tragedy in our country in these days and actually days leading up to now because there have been other indictments. The former person who held the office of president of the United States had no respect for the office he held, no respect for the rule of law, no respect for free press in our country to tell the story one side or another. I don't always like the way the press talks about me, but that doesn't mean that should diminish the freedom of the press to speak. So we're at a place, we have an opportunity, a real opportunity to save our country and to do it in a unifying way, to be respectful of people who may have voted for him, may have been, for whatever reason that they did, and that's their vote and that's their right. But they should not be dragged into the gutter with him in terms of his undermining, the United States of America, our democracy, our rule of law our -- again, our Constitution.

TAPPER: Given all your concerns about what Donald Trump has done and all of his behavior and transgressions, et cetera, but also, given the note you just made, the comments you just made about unity, about trying to move forward, about trying to unite the country --


TAPPER: -- I wonder what concerns you may have, if any, about the fact that a former president of the United States is going to be put on trial in at least three, if not four, different venues. And what that will do to the country? He is supported by a majority of Republican voters, and I just -- I'm sure that as a patriot, you are concerned about what these trials might do even if you support the accountability and the principle of equal justice under the law.

PELOSI: I know how thoughtful you are about this subject and I appreciate your question. But just because somebody has been president of the United States doesn't give him a license to break the law. When he became president, we said, he's the president, we want him to succeed, let's see how we could work together, became clear that many of us had more respect for the office that held than he ever did. And so, because he disrespected his office, disrespect the rule of law and the rest doesn't mean that we -- he should not be, anybody, I'm not even talking about him, I mean, anybody should not be having to answer for their actions. So let's not say, well, you know, no.

Yes, we know. We know that there is a body of knowledge, of facts in violation of the law that have to -- have the test of the court system, innocent until proven guilty. But if we become a country that says, well, it, you know, it might offend the people who voted for him and it might be disunifying, no, let's unify around the truth. Let's unify about what our country stands for and the rest. Let's unify about those people who are willing to take risks in the political arena that may not be popular but are right for our country rather than saying, well, let's give him a pass because he, you know, for whatever reason, has convinced people don't want to pay more taxes --



PELOSI: -- or whether they don't like LGBTQ people or women or people of color or newcomers to our country, whatever they're -- or they just may have a philosophical view of a lesser role of government, which is to be respected, but it does not license to commit crimes and go uncharged.

TAPPER: So, I want to ask you about a topic that has always fascinated me, which has been your hawkish, if you don't mind me using that term, hawkish position on China and the threat of China and the --


TAPPER: -- oppressive government of China.

PELOSI: I didn't understand the word you said. What was the word?

TAPPER: Hawkish.

PELOSI: My what on China?

TAPPER: Hawkish. Your hawkish position on China, not militarily, but just your --

PELOSI: Oh, hawkish.


PELOSI: Hawkish, yes, yes.

TAPPER: You've always been very clear eyed about the communist regime --


TAPPER: -- being oppressive and -- for decades. And --


TAPPER: -- I just -- I've long appreciated it. It's been a year since you, as speaker traveled to Taiwan --

PELOSI: Yes. TAPPER: -- which obviously angered the Communist government of China and caused some ripples across Asia. The tensions with Beijing, the threat of a possible invasion of Taiwan have only increased since that visit. I wonder how concerned you are about the United States potentially being headed to a war with China over the independence of Taiwan.

PELOSI: Well, I have been hawkish about the regime in Beijing for a long time, yes, since they rolled over students in tanks in Tiananmen Square and again, have now have a genocide going on with Uyghurs Muslims in China and have suppressed democracy so visibly and sadly in Hong Kong. And the list goes on, again, what they're doing to the culture, the language, the religion throughout the whole country. So, I've had a human rights concern about China. A, I've had a security concern about China.

China had been proliferating weapons of technology for weapons of mass destruction as well as delivery systems for them. They got away with it because the corporate interest in America had so much influence here that we couldn't upset that apple cart while they were blocking trade going in, pirating our intellectual property. So human rights, trade, security in terms of the weapons.

Just think of Iran. Do you think that Iran had an indigenous nuclear program? Most of the technology, the scientists, the delivery system that was needed for such a thing came from China. The only thing indigenous to Iran was if they had the intent to use it. But everything else came from elsewhere.

And I've visited right across in Bahrain and seen the silkworm boats and ships there, you know, that's a right to arm and to buy weapons and the rest of that. But when it comes to the next step, which is the weapons of mass destruction, we have to show the price that is paid. And I can give you chapter and verse on ring magnets for centrifuge to enrich, and you know, we can have a longer session on this. So, I -- what I have said with all of my concerns about China's violations of human rights, complete, ridiculous violations of our trade agreements, which, because of corporate America, who was -- you know, were making the money --

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: -- at the expense of manufacturers in America. We had to -- we had to -- and I said, if we refuse to speak out against human rights in China because of commercial interest, we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights anyway.


PELOSI: Now, having said all of that --

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: -- I have said we must continue our conversations with China, whether it's on climate, whether it's possibly on security and the rest, despite their actions in the South China Sea. I think that President Trump's approach to it was completely wrong. And being such a hard line when he was vis-a-vis China -- we're talking about specific interests, issues that needed to be addressed, he was just painting them as the villain for everything that happens, that happened poorly in people's lives in the United States.


PELOSI: So, no, I don't think that the Chinese did anything differently because I went there. They know I've been their for a long time --


PELOSI: -- because I've had the goods on them. But I was not going to have the President of China tell me the Speaker of the House, you have to ignore the democracy in Taiwan, because I'm really going to get very upset with you.


TAPPER: We'll come back and we'll talk more about China.

PELOSI: And today is the one year anniversary.

TAPPER: Yes, I know. I know.

PELOSI: Today is the one year anniversary of our trip. We have received so much praise from around the world and around the country about our visit there. The courage to make it, to identify with democracy and not to be running into a corner because a dictator in China is a coward and throws a temper.

TAPPER: A tantrum (ph), yes.

PELOSI: But again, the people of China deserve better and we -- hopefully we can get to a better place.

TAPPER: Come back soon, Democratic Congresswoman --

PELOSI: Thank you.

TAPPER: -- former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. Appreciate your time.

PELOSI: Thank you. Thank you, Jake. OK.

TAPPER: Are there any parts of the indictment that might go too far? We're going to talk to a first amendment and constitutional attorney, next. Then from America's mayor to conspirator number one, a look at all the lies Rudy Giuliani surfed into that indictment.


TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, the indictment of Donald Trump states that his, quote, "knowingly false statements were integral to his criminal plans," unquote, to overturn the election. But last night on Fox Trump's attorney, John Lauro, countered with this.



JOHN LAURO, TRUMP ATTORNEY: I would like them to try to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Donald Trump believed that these allegations were false.


TAPPER: Constitutional and First Amendment Attorney Floyd Abrams joins me now.

Mr. Abrams, thanks so much for joining us. So the burden of proof is on Jack Smith, the special counsel, his team, to prove that Trump knew that these election fraud allegations were false. Will that be difficult?

FLOYD ABRAMS, CONSTITUTIONAL & FIRST AMENDMENT ATTORNEY: I think they have a strong case, we won't know until the trial itself. But there seems to be a great deal of evidence supporting the proposition that he did know, that he knew well, that he indicated that in so many words speaking to the vice president, Vice President Pence, he's indicated it elsewhere. There's a very strong case, and I think the government, the Department of Justice looks forward to proving it, that he knew very well what he was saying was not true.

TAPPER: You're a celebrated First Amendment attorney, what do you make of the arguments that we're hearing from the Trump legal team and also from Trump supporters, Republican officials, saying that this is the criminalization of free speech, that Donald Trump has every right to share his beliefs, even if they are false about how free and fair the election of 2020 was?

ABRAMS: I think it is true that he has the right, and I don't think that there's anything that the Department of Justice has done which is inconsistent with that. I mean, if they'd gone after him on the ground that he said, I won the election and Joe Biden lost the election, that is a false statement, but they are not prosecuting him because of that statement. They're prosecuting him in this area because of a variety of his conduct, which involves, in effect, supporting, not counting real votes and counting phony votes and a variety of other things which are not only untrue, but destructive of getting an accurate answer to the question of who won the election. Because once you start down that road, once a president, no less, starts down that road of falsely saying and trying to support steps in support of that which result in an incorrect answer to the question of who won, then we're in a lot of trouble. And that is not what the First Amendment protects.

It protects the widest range of speech and as I said, it would fully protect, and that there's been no effort to suppress him saying, you know, I really won this election. But there are lots of other things on this stage in this case where he's done things and supported things. I mean, we all heard the call to Florida -- TAPPER: Yes.

ABRAMS: -- in which the president is, in effect, saying, don't count those votes.

TAPPER: Right.

ABRAMS: I know who won, you don't know who, et cetera.

TAPPER: Georgia, I think you mean. But, yes, I take your point. Is there anything in the indictment that you think goes too far? In other words, Donald Trump telling the crowd, we have to fight like hell, otherwise we won't have a country. And then a few minutes later, the riot is going on on the Capitol.

He's not charged with inciting violence in this indictment, but he is charged with interrupting a procedure of government even though he did not go into the Capitol himself. Is there anything you think that goes too far?

ABRAMS: Look, taking this as a whole no, by a whole, I mean, all the things that led to this disturbance and far worse than that, this insurrection on January 6. No, I don't think it -- I don't think it violates the first amendment. I don't think it's threatening to first amendment interests. I think there was a direct connection between what the president and certainly everyone else at that rally, including his son, had to say and the misconduct and the effort, in effect, to all but overthrow the government, not to allow the government to proceed to make the decision that the voters had made to effectuate that decision. So, no, we're in touchy dangerous areas here. But that's not because the government or the special prosecutor has gone, in my view, too far down the road in their efforts. I don't think that's happened.


TAPPER: Celebrated First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, thank you so much for your wisdom today, sir. I appreciate it.


TAPPER: More than 50 million Americans impacted by key details in the Trump indictment. We're going to break down the state by state election fraud accusations next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Oh, how the mighty have fallen from Time Magazine's Person of the Year to co-conspirator number one, Special Counsel Jack Smith's clear reference to Rudy Giuliani. The indictment quotes conspirator, number one, as a person who left a voicemail for a, quote, United States Senator while the deadly insurrection was unfolding. Quotes laid out in black and white that match word for word Giuliani's infamous call intended for Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville, where Giuliani thought he was asking Tuberville to delay the official certification of the election.

It was actually Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee who got the voicemail on his phone instead. After the indictment was released last night, Giuliani's advisor reacted in a statement, quote, every fact Mayor Rudy Giuliani possesses about this case establishes the good faith basis president Donald Trump had for the actions he took during the two-month period charged in the indictment, unquote.

It is, of course, worth remembering Giuliani's seemingly unstoppable lava flow of lies about voter fraud during those months. The same day that most news networks, I believe, led by CNN, called the election for Joe Biden. There was this, of course, infamous and embarrassing news conference full of sound and fury and no evidence taking place. Infamously at Philadelphia's four seasons total landscaping, you know, total landscaping, right, near the porn shop and crematorium north of the Tacony Palmyra Bridge.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Philadelphia is a professional place for voter fraud because you have a decrepit Democrat machine that you have had in power for 60 years.


TAPPER: Lots of rhetoric, no evidence. Then he went after Michigan with these provable lies.


GIULIANI: The city of Detroit probably had more voters than it had citizens. I'm exaggerating a bit, but all you have to do is look at statistical data.


TAPPER: Giuliani admitted having no actual facts in a December 1st, 2020 phone call with Arizona's Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers. Bowers asked Giuliani provide evidence to which Giuliani replied, quote, we don't have the evidence, but we have lots of theories, unquote. Despite that, in late December, Giuliani pressed on and told this bald faced lie to Georgia State lawmakers contradicting Republican election officials in Georgia.


GIULIANI: And you can see them counting the ballots more than once, two, three, four, five times. You would have to be a moron not to realize that's voter fraud.


TAPPER: Not true. But all of this culminated in this rather lucid prediction made on January 6th, 2021.


GIULIANI: We get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent, and if we're wrong, we will be made fools of.


TAPPER: OK, well, he said it, not me. We should note, Giuliani is just one of six co-conspirators who, per the indictment, systematically targeted seven key battleground states. CNN's Sara Murray is with us to break this down. Sara, more than 50 million Americans live in these states where Trump and his conspirators allegedly tried to dismantle the free and fair election process.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jake. I mean, this was the plan to have fake slates of electors put forward in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Wisconsin, in Georgia, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. And the indictment even notes that a number of the fake electors in these states were essentially duped into this scheme because they believed what the Trump campaign told them, that these would only be put forward if Donald Trump's legal challenges were successful. Other people, it seemed, went along with it, knowing that the Trump campaign had other plans.

TAPPER: New Mexico is interesting also, because I think Biden won by, like, more than 10 percentage points there.

MURRAY: But not close.

TAPPER: How did the Special Counsel lay out his case that Trump knew his voter fraud claims about each of these states were lies?

MURRAY: He sort of goes through and explains, look, in Georgia, Trump claims more than 10,000 dead voters had voted. He'd already been told by the Georgia Secretary of State that was not true. In Pennsylvania, Trump says 205,000 more votes than voters took place. He'd already been told by his Attorney General that was not the case. In Michigan, Trump believed there was a suspicious vote dump in Detroit. Again, Attorney General Bill Barr said that was not true. Allies in the Michigan State House told him that was not true.

When you get over to Nevada, Trump claimed there were tens of thousands of doubled votes and other fraud. The Nevada Secretary of State put up a handy public website debunking these claims. And judges in Nevada also rejected these claims. And in Arizona, Trump claimed 30,000 noncitizens had voted. The indictment points out his own campaign manager had told him it was not the case. So they really tick through how Trump had been informed in each one of these cases that the numbers he was putting out there just weren't true.


TAPPER: I don't think he really cared, though, honestly. It just seemed that way to me. Sara Murray, thank you so much.

Donald Trump's 2024 opponent and former Vice President Mike Pence just weighed in on the indictment. He's not the only presidential candidate commenting, stick around.


TAPPER: In our Politics Lead, former Vice President Mike Pence reacted to Trump's third criminal indictment on the campaign trail earlier today.


MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sadly, the president was surrounded 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, you know, continued to demand that I choose him over the constitution.


TAPPER: Crackpot lawyers, huh. All right. This comes as the White House and President Biden's reelection campaign have been declining to comment on the indictment. The campaign has pledged to not fundraise off of Trump's legal woes, a pledge they have so far followed through on. But the night is still young. My panel is here to discuss. Karen, it's the first time Mike Pence ever said anything that I saw you give arousing?


KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, that was tough talk from Mike Pence, crackpot. Yeah.

TAPPER: Crackpot lawyers he said lawyers.

FINNEY: Crackpot lawyers, some of whom I bet he actually knew and had worked with. Look, clearly the vice president is trying to distance himself from Trump. He and his team knew that when this indictment came down, the more fulsomeness of his actual role, like the contemporaneous notes that we would learn more about his actual role.

And clearly, he's trying to, you know, he did an ad in Iowa kind of casting himself as something of a hero who it's all about the Constitution for him. We'll see if it works. I don't think it will simply because, as we saw in that "New York Times" poll this week, one of the numbers I thought was most interesting, 71 percent of Republican primary voters do not want other Republicans attacking Trump about any of these indictments, which means we're going to not hear much more tough talk. We're going to hear a lot more attacks of Joe Biden.

TAPPER: And on that note, Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who a lot of Republicans like, I think including you, I think it's fair to say, he tweets, quote, I remain concerned about the weaponization of Biden's Department of Justice and its immense power used against political opponents. What we see today are two different tracks of justice, one for political opponents and another for the son of the current President. We're watching Biden's Department of Justice continue to hunt Republicans while protecting Democrats. Your thoughts?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Jake, a lot of the challengers against Donald Trump are sharing that same sentiment. Whether they truly feel that way or not, that is the politically appropriate thing to do in order to not alienate Trump's base. Many of them are pointing out what they view as the weaponization of the DOJ, the two tier justice system. A few of them have even said if they're elected president, they would pardon President Trump. But then there are others, Asa Hutchinson, Chris Christie, Will Hurd say that Donald Trump is responsible for wrongdoing and should be held accountable.

But big picture, I've spoken with all of the campaigns, and they say, look, people out there in Iowa and New Hampshire aren't talking about this. They're concerned about issues that are important to them. So they're focused on those issues. Rational Republicans in D.C. are concerned about this. They do see that Donald Trump committed wrongdoing and should be held accountable. And they're also concerned if he's at the top of the ticket in 2024, which it could possibly be that way, that's going to really impact the House, maintaining -- Republicans maintaining the House and trying to control the Senate, it's going to have a big drag on the ticket.

That's why many rational Republicans are trying to say, if we're going to stop this right now, now is the time to hold him accountable for his wrongdoing.

FINNEY: -- rational Republican, the MAGA, the rational and the never.

TAPPER: David Chalian today, the Secretary of State of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, who was mentioned in the indictment because Donald Trump allegedly tried to lean on him to change the vote result. He responded to the indictment. Take a listen.


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: I've been consistent since day one that there weren't thousands of dead people. We had eventually found four. And there weren't 66,000 underage voters. There were zero. There were zero non-registered voters. So every allegation that was made, we ran down the trap line, made sure that we had the facts.


TAPPER: Well, I mean, he did have the facts, but I don't know how much that matters to Donald Trump.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, clearly it didn't. I mean, we heard in real time that it didn't matter. We saw his actions in the days after that phone call where he was pressuring him to find exactly the number of votes plus one that he needed to win a state that he didn't legitimately win. But the fact of the facts didn't matter, Jake, this has been part of the entire strategy.

This is why roughly, you know, seven in 10 Republicans to this day do not believe that Joe Biden was legitimately elected. So what's laid out in this indictment, Brad Raffensperger is just one of a slew of government officials that Jack Smith cites in the indictment explaining to Donald Trump that he actually did not win this election. Which is why Smith goes on to say that he knowingly made these false comments and then acted on them in this conspiratorial way.

TAPPER: And why do they believe it? Yes, Donald Trump is lying about it, and yes, other Republican officials are lying about it. But also there is this "Fox" and MAGA Media echo chamber that continues to share these lies. Let us remind our viewers, "Fox" had to pay nearly $800 million in a settlement with Dominion Voting System for spreading lies about the 2020 election being rigged. Nonetheless, this is "Fox" responding to the Trump indictment. Take a listen.


JESSE WATERS, FOX NEWS HOST: These are political war crimes. It's an atrocity. It's like not just dropping one atomic bomb. You drop 15 dozen. If this goes to trial, are we going to now have to go back and find fraud in the 2020 election?



TAPPER: Well, aside from not really understanding the point of Oppenheimer, what would your response be to that?

CHALIAN: Yes, so I'm not a media critic. I'll leave that aside. But I do think politically, you are right to know the echo chamber. I have little doubt that we will hear some Republicans, whether on Capitol Hill or maybe on the presidential campaign trail, start echoing some of the points that you just heard here.

And I don't understand the last point made there. Do we have to go back and find fraud either there's an acknowledgment there that no fraud was found? So now he's going to be on a mission to go find fraud. And we know that there is no determinative election outcome, determinative fraud that was a part of the 2020 election.

TAPPER: According to Republican election officials, governors, secretaries of state, judges, and on and on. Alice, how does the country fix this if "Fox" is not going to be part of the solution?

STEWART: Well, "Fox" viewers believe what "Fox" is saying. "Fox" viewers believe what Donald Trump is saying, that there was widespread election fraud. And Donald Trump, certainly they believe he won the election. And "Fox" is going to continue to feed that narrative because that is certainly what's worked for them.

The question is, what happens with Republicans after the primary? What happens if Donald Trump is elected? And we need to appeal to independent voters or the disaffected Republican voters who actually believe correctly that we do have a fair and accurate voting system and every vote is important. What happens, how do we make that case to them? That's where they're going to really face a challenge in appealing to the independent voters who are not sitting there glued to "Fox" every day and believing all of the nonsense that they're spreading.

FINNEY: I think, also, look, this is why democracy and concerns for democracy are going to be on the ballot again in 2024. That's going to be a big part of the case that President Biden and Vice President Harris make and again, mobilizing people, because I think we also have to acknowledge, this is very sad. I mean, if you're -- just as an American, forget about being a partisan. So we've also got to remind people that your vote matters, your voice matters. Our systems of government can work, do work. The justice system, I hope, can handle the Trump MAGA machine because Lord knows the presidency almost didn't.

TAPPER: Thanks, one and all. Appreciate it.

The jury decides the fate of the gunman behind the worst anti-Semitic attack on American soil in American history, the Tree of Life synagogue shooting. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Earlier today, a federal jury decided that Robert Bowers will be sentenced to death for the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue mass murders, incited by the false anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant white replacement conspiracy theory pushed by MAGA politicians and far right media. Bowers killed 11 worshippers and injured six others at the Tree of Life synagogue in what has been the deadliest attack in American history ever on Jewish people. CNN's Danny Freeman has more for us now on the first death penalty imposed under the Biden administration.


DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After more than nine weeks of trial, over 100 witnesses, and nearly five years since the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, a jury of five men and seven women unanimously voted to sentence shooter Robert Bowers to death. The jury deliberated for 10 hours.

ALAN MALLINGER, SON OF ROSE MALLINGER, SHOOTING VICTIM: Today was the hardest day, and I think it was the hardest day for the jury, too. And it was a hard day for the judge. I'm sure everyone here as we move on and, you know, see justice, the justice system work and just thankful for, you know, the jurors doing what they did.

FREEMAN (voice-over): As the verdict was read, survivors of the shooting hugged each other in the courtroom. The judge presiding over the case choked up as he thanked the jury. Fifty-year-old Bowers only briefly looked up at the jurors as they affirmed their death penalty decision.

ANDREA WEDNER, INJURED IN SHOOTING, MOTHER KILLED IN SHOOTING: Returning a sentence of death is not a decision that comes easy, but we must hold accountable those who wish to commit such terrible acts of anti-Semitism, hate and violence. FREEMAN (voice-over): The verdict include a stunning rebuke of the defense's core arguments to spare Bower's life. The jurors were not convinced Bowers suffered from schizophrenia or was motivated by delusions, and not a single juror believed he committed the offenses under mental or emotional disturbance. During the trial, the prosecution detailed how Bowers had been convinced of the anti-Semitic and anti-Latino white replacement conspiracy theory that has been pushed by some on the extreme right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you guys have any statements?

FREEMAN (voice-over): His defense team not commenting on the verdict. In contrast, the jurors unanimously agreed with federal prosecutors the killing of 11 Jewish worshippers was premeditated, motivated by his hatred of Jews. And the jury found Bowers had no remorse for the attack.

ERIC OLSHAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: When people who espouse white supremacist, anti-Semitic and bigoted views pick up weapons and use them to kill or to try to kill people because of their faith, our office and our partners in law enforcement will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law each and every time.


FREEMAN: Now, Jake, formal sentencing is expected to happen tomorrow morning, and we still expect to hear even more victim impact statements from some of the people who were most directly impacted by this shooting. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Danny Freeman in Pittsburgh. Thank you so much.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, X, I guess it's called, Bluesky, if you have an invite, the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN.


Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.