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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Soon: Trump Departs for Atlanta to Surrender at Jail; Authorities Release Mug Shot of Mark Meadows. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired August 24, 2023 - 15:00   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: And a lot of ...

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Truth Social - sorry, Truth Social.

SCIUTTO: A lot of security in place there as well for all involved.

KEILAR: So stay with CNN for all of the breaking news. The lead: the Georgia indictment of Donald Trump will start right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You are looking live at the Fulton County, Georgia jail where in just a few hours the former president, Donald Trump, will surrender and be placed under arrest.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C.

In just minutes, we expect Donald Trump to begin his journey down to Georgia. Today's events, of course, will be unlike even Trump's previous three arrests because he will have to surrender this time at the Fulton County jail instead of at a courthouse and it is likely that today Trump will have a mug shot taken. All of this stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election in that battleground state, Georgia.

Ahead of Trump's surrender one of his most high-profile co-defendants, former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows turned himself in at the Fulton County jail. We believe that happened within the last hour. This after losing a legal fight he was attempting to avoid arrest.

We also got some new insight into when Meadows and Trump could theoretically go on trial. The Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis, has requested a trial start date of October 23rd of this year, less than two months away.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is live in Bedminster, New Jersey for us right now. She's down the street from where Trump and his team are gathered.

And Kristen, Mr. Trump just announced he will be arrested at 7 30 PM Eastern this evening. What are you hearing from his team right now?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So let's walk through a little bit of what today is going to look like. We expect him to leave his Bedminster club, which as you noted is right behind me in the next hour. He will drive to what is expected to be Newark Airport. That's where he left from when he went to his arraignment in Washington, D.C. earlier this month and go to Atlanta.

We are told that this is a straight shot. This is going to be a very quick trip that they're going to be closing down roads to make this as fast as possible, all of this would be part of the negotiations between former president, Trump, and local law enforcement among others to try and make sure that Trump gets in and out of the city as quickly as possible.

As you know, Atlanta is a city that can have a major traffic buildup so that's how they ended up with this time. Now we are also told that he is going to possibly give remarks on the tarmac after he is processed. You walked a little bit through that processing. We're still wondering what exactly that looks like. Is he going to be fingerprinted, is he going to have that mug shot, all of which is possible. But again, this is going to depend completely on his mood.

Now, I am also told that there will be no sort of event at Bedminster coming back late tonight, not like what we saw at the beginning. The first two arraignments when they held big speeches with gatherings, with club members, that is not what is happening here. And a lot of this is the annoyance and the anger that Trump feels about these charges, something we've reported extensively on.

Two things can be true at once, Jake. He can think that this will help him politically at least in the primaries with his poll numbers and fundraising, and he cannot want to continue to be arrested and processed and charged and have to face these trials and we know that to be the case. And that is what we are hearing from all of these advisors. Right now, they are gearing up for this trip.

Everyone's hope as of right now they just want to make this as quick and as easy as possible and they are expecting to still have to come back for that actual arraignment, Jake.

TAPPER: We have seen publicly, at least, Trump and his team putting on a tough face, bravado. Take a look at Rudy Giuliani's mug shot from yesterday where he's giving this expression, angry staring right at the camera. I guess my question would be how much of that is for the camera and how much of that is real that behind the scenes they are defiant and confident.

HOLMES: I Think things come in ebbs and flows from the advisors that I talked to. There are moments where they feel defiant, where they do feel like they can sell this as election interference where they are angry. But there are also moments where this is exhausting.

Remember, after that first arraignment in New York I spoke to an advisor who said that they were all completely drained from this trip and that included former president, Trump. There are two things going on here.


They have seen that spike in the poll numbers. They have seen that spike in donations and fundraising after each of these indictments, after each of these arraignments, after potentially the processing today, but that doesn't mean that this is something that they're enjoying. It is not what they would like to be focused on.

We know former president, Trump, would rather be focused on last night's debate talking about the winners and losers talking about his poll numbers, not heading down to Atlanta to be processed in a jail.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes in New Jersey, we'll come back to you in a moment.

I want to bring it right now CNN's Sara Murray who is due south, outside the Fulton County Georgia jail.

Sara, what's the scene down there ahead of the former president's arrival? I imagine there would be quite a showing of security.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. I mean we are hours until the former president arrives here, but we've already seen security ramped up around here. Of course, we expect that when he lands he's going to get the full lights and siren treatment to escort him here over to the jail.

Look, if you are a normal defendant who's being processed in the Fulton County jail, this is an unpleasant experience. It could last hours.

In fact, one of the co-defendants in this case, Harrison Floyd just turned himself in at jail without a set bond agreement. So he could face the more miserable version of this processing. That's not what we're expecting for the former president. I think everyone involved in this, the former president's team as well as the sheriff's office wants Donald Trump in and out of this jail as quickly as possible.

Again, normally a defendant would be searched. They would go through a medical screening. They would get fingerprinted. They would get a mug shot.

The sheriff here has been adamant that the 19 defendants in this case will get a mug shot. They will be fingerprinted as close to a traditional defendant as you could expect. But, of course, this is something we haven't seen from Trump's three previous arrests. He's not had a mug shot in any of those three cases. We're waiting to see if he does this time.

And Jake, the optics of this are just different. He's turning himself in at a jail, not a courthouse this time.

TAPPER: Yes. And Sara this afternoon we learned that the Fulton County district attorney wants to begin this trial on October 23rd, a shockingly ambitious schedule. Not surprisingly, Trump's team has just come out against that proposal.

MURRAY: That's right. I mean, Fani Willis' team suggested an October trial date. I haven't talked to you a single lawyer involved in this case or not who thought that that would be a realistic timeline for her to move forward. And Trump's new attorney, he of course shook up his legal team earlier today, has already shot back in a filing saying they oppose this trial date. They essentially oppose some of the speedy trial motions we've seen from other co-defendants.

So again, we're waiting to see what the judge assigned to this case actually says as far as what he thinks is a Realistic timeline for this case to proceed. He hasn't even set the first court appearance in this case. So we'll see what a potential trial looks like Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray, thanks so much. We'll check back with you in a minute.

With us now here in studio to discuss, CNN Anchor and Senior Political Correspondent, Abby Phillip, CNN Special Correspondent, Jamie Gangel, Michael Moore the former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia and, of course CNN Anchor Chief Legal Analyst, Laura Coates.

Let me start with the legal wing here.

Laura, October 23rd, is that a realistic proposal?

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: No. But you know what, closed mouths don't get fed, right? So she has to ask for what she wants and maybe hope that when they come back with their response maybe they'll split the baby somewhere in the middle.

But we're talking about, what, 19 defendants, the Fulton County 19. Some of them don't have a lawyer at that point in time, so it's very ambitious to try to set that schedule. But it is setting a very big signal here. It's saying look, I'm ready to go.

When a prosecutor goes in front of a court and in front of defense council, they call ready. Meaning I'm here, I've done my due diligence. I've done the work and we're prepared to go forward. But even that is a very - if it was one defendant, it might be ambitious.

This, with removal, motion still around federal court, I don't see it happening.

TAPPER: Michael?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Georgia has a speedy trial act and it's a unique statute to the state. And basically what it says is that a Defendant can come in after they're indicted during that time of court and file a motion for a speedy trial and they have to be tried in that term of court or the next. And so the next ...

TAPPER: What is the term of court?

MOORE: Two months.

TAPPER: Two months, okay.

MOORE: Two months in Fulton County. So that means this trial has to be scheduled before November, because juries have been impaneled during the September term and now they'll have it during October. If the DA did not try the case during that time, then it's an

automatic acquittal and the charges are dismissed. So Chesbrough's lawyers called her bluff a little bit about the time (inaudible) ...

TAPPER: So Kenneth Chesbrough, one of the ...

MOORE: That's right.

TAPPER: ... one of the co-defendants.

MOORE: That's right, called her bluff a little bit about the timing and she had to set the trial for October. Now, that does not mean the trial could happen as to all defendants. But as to Chesbrough, she's got to deal with his case.

So I think you're fixing to see a lot of motions to sever, that means that the defendants don't want to try their case together.

TAPPER: Right.

MOORE: There'll be challenges because the defendants will say, well, my lawyers hadn't had time to prepare.


We hadn't had time and the Constitution gives us a - the right to have an effective lawyer who's prepared to represent us. And so I think that she's got to make a decision about whether she tries them all together, whether she just deals with Chesbrough's case.

TAPPER: So ...

MOORE: I don't think the judge is going to make them all go in October.

TAPPER: And I think Trump, just this afternoon, filed a motion - his lawyers did - to file the motion to sever from anybody asking for that speedy trial, right?

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And that could be advantageous to him and also the other defendants, because of course if you've got conflicting defenses among the different defendants or that it's inconsistent in a way or if I want to testify or call you to testify on my behalf for whatever reason, I've got to have some way to actually make this expeditious - that's the word I'm looking for.

But in any event when you're talking about severing, the court has to look at judicial efficiency, because what a court does not want to have is 19 of the same trials, same witnesses, same motions because then you're just dragging out something that could be done in one. But here you already have the removal motions to get - to go to federal court. And so you already know this is on the horizon.

What might be novel is if one removes the federal court, does it mean all of them now have a chance to do so like Mark Meadows, for example, that's the next horizon. TAPPER: So what about - let's take the 30,000 foot look at this now.

Donald Trump is about to, for the first time, it's not the first time he's been arraigned or arrested, but for the first time he's reporting to a prison, to a jail to be booked. Does - is that going to look different? What - how is today different from the three previous arrests?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems that the Fulton County officials have said we're going to just make this look like what it's going to look like for most other people and maybe not everybody else in the world, but certainly the other co-defendants who've come in.

They've had their photos taken. Some of them have been allowed to wear their street clothes, their suits, their ties or what have you. But they're still coming in, they're taking their photos. They're getting their fingerprints taken.

And so that did not happen in some of the other cases because everyone recognizes Donald Trump. It's not really necessary. I think that's going to feel different for him. Trump is not happy about being indicted once twice or four times. And certainly this one is perhaps the one that he's - the most irritated by because he's been accusing this particular prosecutor of going after him.

And this is almost - it almost feels like a local matter.

TAPPER: Mm-hm.

PHILLIP: But that's because the conduct occurred at this level. And so Trump has experienced this from top to bottom of our legal system, from the federal system all the way down to a county jail. And that doesn't feel good for him and he's not going to get as many accommodations as he is used to in these proceedings as he has in the previous ones.

TAPPER: And Jamie, Donald Trump on his social media platform Truth Social posted just about 20 minutes or so ago talking about how he has to head down to Atlanta, Georgia, where murder and other violent crimes have reached levels never seen before to get arrested, all caps, by a radical left, low-life district attorney Fani Willis for a perfect phone call and having the audacity to challenge a rigged and stolen election. The evidence is irrefutable. Arrest time 7:30 PM.

Once again, we see somebody - a client who doesn't listen to his lawyers (inaudible) assuredly telling him please stop posting things like that and attacking public officials.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Not a surprise that Donald Trump is posting or (inaudible), look, big picture, this is another bad day for Donald Trump. He is making history yet again. This is, as you said, the fourth arrest. It will be different with the mug shots and the fingerprints.

I would add one other way that it's different, as his co-defendants have gone to the Fulton County jail, it is a notorious jail, we've talked about it, there's nothing that quite concentrates the mind as seeing what this is like and the way it feels. And I think it is fair to say none of these people have ever gone through this before.

I would say that Donald Trump has to think about something new today, which is keep your friends close, keep your co-defendants closer.

TAPPER: Mm-hm.

GANGEL: Because we don't know who might be quietly cooperating already, who might flip down the road, that's something he has to worry about.

PHILLIP: Yes. Look, so many of these defendants that - as Laura was saying, they don't have lawyers, some of them have already made motions to try - to basically blame Trump saying I did this on Trump's behalf, it should be moved to federal court because he's a federal official.

But I also think that Trump is demonstrating today with that post a certain degree of a lack of a - remorse or self-awareness.


I mean, he's saying come down - come on down 7 30 PM. He wants the notoriety. He doesn't want to do this quietly. He wants everyone to know and everyone to be there and all the attention to be on him, because he still thinks that he can turn this around into something positive from a public relations perspective.

TAPPER: Everyone stick with me. We expect Donald Trump to leave his New Jersey golf club soon to head to Georgia to turn himself in at the Fulton County jail. This as there has been a shake-up today on his legal team. We're going to take a closer look at his new lawyer. That's next.



TAPPER: And welcome back to CNN Special Coverage. Just moments ago, we obtained the mug shot of former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.


Mr. Meadows surrendered at the Fulton County jail earlier today and was just released. He is charged with racketeering and with solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer, trying to get somebody to violate their oath. The deadline for the defendants to turn themselves, in all 19 of them is tomorrow at noon. As of right now, eight defendants have yet to surrender the former president.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz is at the Fulton County courthouse for us.

Katelyn, what more can you tell us about the individuals who have not yet complied with District Attorney Fani Willis' request?

POLANTZ: Well, Jake, it does appear that there could be others turning themselves into the jail as soon as today and not waiting until that deadline tomorrow or the overnight period. And Jeffrey Clark, another very well-known official from the Trump administration who served in the Justice Department.

He has tweeted that he is in Atlanta right now, so very likely he would be here to turn himself in. He did reach a bond agreement after being denied the ability to hold off his arrest when he tried to fight it, but we're waiting for Trump, we're waiting for Clark.

And then there's a few others that have not turned themselves in that sort of represent the waterfront of these charges. There is one person accused in the computer breaches related to Coffee County, Georgia. There are two people related to the intimidation campaign or alleged intimidation of Georgia election worker, Ruby Freeman, who have yet to turn themselves in. And then three others, some campaign folks as well as GOP officials who worked on the fake elector scheme allegedly in the state of Georgia who are still not yet booked in the jail in Fulton County. So that's eight total including Trump himself have yet to arrive at the jail.

TAPPER: Katelyn, tell us about the legal disputes brewing now that the arrest process is in its last 24 hours?

POLANTZ: Well, there are legal disputes brewing. That is without a doubt on two fronts. One, we now have filings showing that the district attorney's office, some of the defendants at least one of them and Donald Trump are not all on the same page on what people what - would want to go to trial.

The DA's office wants a very aggressive timeline, at least one defendant, Ken Chesbrough, wants a pretty fast timeline. He wants to go to trial as is his right asking for a speedy trial and Donald Trump, he doesn't want any part of that. He wants to be separated from any speedy trial.

And so that could be something that could come up soon in court that a judge may want to get a handle on very quickly. And then the other thing out there is that there is a hearing that we are gearing up for Monday where the Fulton County district attorney is ready to bring in witnesses to show a judge in federal court a glimpse into this case specifically around that phone call Donald Trump made to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. It looks like Raffensperger may even be testifying at that hearing about whether this case could move out of state court into federal court.

TAPPER: All right. Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much.

Let's bring in Clark Cunningham. He's an expert on legal ethics and constitutional law. Also, let's bring in Charlie Bailey a former senior assistant district attorney of Fulton County. We should note that your wife works in the communications department for Fani Willis.

Charlie, let me start with these new mug shots we're getting including that of Trump's former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Such a stark indication of how serious this case is and high Level of public officials obviously up to and including the president who have been charged.

CHARLIE BAILEY, FORMER FULTON COUNTY SENIOR ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Yes. I mean in some ways it's rather surreal to see these people coming in and turning themselves in and what we expect tonight, a former president of the United States, none of us have ever seen anything like this.

And so I think probably people with the DA's office just like the rest of us might be taking a deep breath and gearing themselves, because this is not the end of the process. We're probably more in the middle of the process.

TAPPER: And in a matter of hours, we expect to see the former president go to that jail and surrender. As somebody who worked closely with DA Fani Willis, what do you think is on her mind as she moves forward with her case against a former president, unprecedented actions, but also unprecedented charges.

BAILEY: Well, I think the first part you said, unprecedented actions is the key here. No one's ever had to do this before because no former president and no president's ever taken these kinds of actions before.

But knowing Fani as I do, none of these legal maneuverings are a surprise to her. They didn't investigate for over two years to be caught flat-footed, so I'm sure she's got people delegated to take on certain tasks and that's why you've seen responses to the federal removal motions, responses to the speedy trial demand as quickly as you have.

Fani is a very what's next kind of person, take care of this task, what's next, let's move on.


And she doesn't waste time and so I think she's probably focused calm and just moving along and responding as she needs to do these motions.

TAPPER: Clark, President Trump is going forward with a new attorney. He just replaced his old attorney. He has a brand new defense attorney, replacing Drew Findling with Steven Sadow. Sadow has previously challenged RICO's - Georgia's RICO law for other defendants. Tell us, first of all, who - more about Steven Sadow.

PROF. CLARK CUNNINGHAM, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Well, he has a very good reputation, but I'm not surprised that the former president fired Drew Findling. Findling, never since last March has done, at least according to court records, a really counterproductive work for the former president, including a disastrous strange emergency appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court that then slapped him down with a unanimous decision. So I frankly expected Findling to be gone before now.

TAPPER: And Charlie, we expect to see Donald Trump go into that jail and surrender. Walk us through the process of being processed.

BAILEY: Well, it's rather mundane, but they've got to take certain biographical information. They got to do the fingerprints. They've got to process the warrants. That's one of the main things that's got to happen at the jail.

He's got the consent bond so he doesn't have to be held on the warrant. He's already got released from the judge that he can be released back out, but they'll take a weight. They'll take height. They'll take a photograph so that they have a full capture of this is the person we have in our custody. That goes into a database that is accessed around the state.

I don't imagine it'll take that long. They've been processing a few of these this week and they'll be ready to process the former president through and I think it'll be rather uneventful.

TAPPER: All right. Clark Cunningham and Charlie Bailey, thanks so much.

We're learning that Donald Trump is set to leave his Bedminster golf club in New York - I'm sorry, in New Jersey - this hour and he will of course then head to Fulton County, Georgia via aircraft to turn himself in. This would be his fourth surrender in a criminal case in 2023 alone from New Jersey to Georgia. More live coverage ahead. Stay with us.


TAPPER: A live look for you now from Bedminster, New Jersey, just down the road from Donald Trump's golf club in New Jersey. President is expected to leave that golf club at any moment now to head to Newark Airport. From there he will fly privately down to Atlanta and then he will turn himself in at the Fulton County Jail.

I'm back with my panel. And Abby Phillip, as Trump is expected to head to Georgia to surrender, just in the past 24 hours, we have seen former Trump attorney, one of his closest allies, Rudy Giuliani surrender. Then we just saw the mugshot of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. I mean, it's really hard to wrap your brain around the momentousness of this moment. The idea that Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows and soon a former president, booked, arrested, mugshots.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it's huge and it's sad, really. These are all former high-ranking officials, former mayor of New York at one point, viewed in very high esteem. I mean, a presidential candidate in his own right.

TAPPER: "Time" magazine's person of the year in 2002.

PHILLIP: All of that. And Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of Staff, which is an extremely high-ranking position in the United States government. Who Mike Pence's advisor, Marc Short, called a ring leader of this whole thing. This is happening because the conduct that was alleged here is extremely serious. I think we lost track of that because we've been down this road a few times. But they are being accused of trying to steal an election. And there's probably no crime that is more significant than that in a democracy. They've got to be tried and they have to go through their process, but what they're being accused of, it reaches the very highest levels.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: This is what happens when you try to overturn an election. Democracy, yes, they are innocent until proven guilty. But we all saw this happen in real-time in public. We've heard the famous phone call that Trump made to the Georgia Secretary of State. 11,000, just find me 11,780. And Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, was very involved with that. He helped set up the call.

So let's remember when people talk about it being political. This is not normal. And we are here today because Donald Trump did not want to admit he had lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the way -- oh, sorry

PHILLIP: It wasn't normal at the time, too.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: As you say, nothing is normal about any of this except, well, one thing and you and I both know this.


Any suggestion that somehow, he is being treated worse than the average defendant who has to go to the Fulton County Jail house is absurd. The notion that people have a two-tiered justice system is not news to anyone except people who maybe felt privileged or entitled and never been a part of it.

But I will say this, this is no more about a single phone call than January 6th was about just that very day. This has all been what led up to it as well. The phone call is a part of it. The idea that there're 18 other defendants all part of this idea that more people were allegedly involved in a scheme. The RICO charge alone, there was an enterprise afoot. And yes, I said afoot on a Thursday afternoon but it's real in this context. It all tells you that -- this is all something so significant but it's also telling you that her case has to be about that entirety of it. It can't just be about a single phone call we've already heard.

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I think that's right. I mean, I think the way she told the story and the indictment is going to be important. But remember, there's a tendency, I think, to think that it's very clear to everybody that he must be guilty of something for that this case is an automatic slam-dunk for the state. It's not.

TAPPER: Why not?

MOORE: Well, remember that in 2021, after the election, the Georgia legislature and the Republican governor enacted reforms to change the voting laws because they alleged that they had had problems with the election. And so, that sort of stokes the fire for people who say, well maybe he was right. Maybe there was something wrong. I mean, they changed who could pick up absentee ballots. Whether or not you can take people to -- take water to folks waiting in line. Doing away with (INAUDIBLE).

COATES: But this isn't that kind of situation,

MOORE: It is but --

PHILLIP: Trump claims the fraud. It's a lie. Then the Republican --

TAPPER: And we should note that the Republican governor, very conservative, Brian Kemp, has said very clearly -- and I know you know this -- but they said very clearly that there was not significant fraud in 2020 and Georgia has safe and secure elections.

MOORE: But I promise you, you'll be asked by Steve Sadow when he gets on the stand. Then why did you change the election law? Did you do it because you were trying to disenfranchise African American voters? He's not going to admit that. I mean, he's got to come up with something to say this is why we did. Why did change something that's worked for years?

PHILLIP: And by the way, I think that is a really important point for someone like Governor Kemp who has said, there was no fraud to change the outcome of the election. But still went along basically this ploy to change election laws in Georgia after Trump lost it. Only because it was politically expedient. Not because there was ever any fraud.

So I think you're totally right that that's going to be problem for Kemp and it might be a problem for Fani Willis as well. But from a, you know, where I sit here as a nonlawyer from a factual perspective. It was clear at the time in 2021 that these laws were being changed based on a factually incorrect premise that no one has been able to substantiate any significant fraud at all. It's that people were voting and they didn't like that.

COATES: She anticipated a part of this discussion though. Because that's why part of the narrative she talks about -- and these are allegations, absolutely -- about what was said to members of the legislature branch to say, hold on. You were told wrong information. You were given lies. You were told misinformation. Rudy Giuliani accused of that and others part of this whole context, different committees on these very notions. I think she's aware of that may be next step to say, well, maybe they acted based on your lies which is why they're all the more criminal in this allegation. So I think she has probably thought at least a little bit -- I'm not going to read her mind. I'm thinking as a prosecutor in my own head. Would I know the next several steps that are going to be litigated?

MOORE: Yes, I think a prosecutor, just a lawyer, but a prosecutor especially needs to think about how they'll lose a case. As opposed to how they can win it. And that way you prepare to fill in the holes that you know the defense is going to make in your case.

And so, you know, when we think about this, remember that the committee that met for the state Senate was not a sanctioned committee meeting. The lieutenant governor at the time did not authorize, you know, this special meeting. So the whole thing was sort of a sham. But they still went ahead with it anyway.

PHILLIP: And Giuliani -- I spoke to one of the state lawmakers who was there when Rudy Giuliani came. He wasn't sworn in. They knew that that committee wouldn't swear in witnesses. So they could lie all they want and they wouldn't be under the address of the law.

TAPPER: Everyone, stay with me. Trump is about to leave the state of New Jersey and head to Georgia to turn himself in. In the Fulton County 2020 election case. Joining me next, two of the witnesses who testified in the case. More on CNN's live coverage of this historic day ahead.



TAPPER: Welcome back. Right now President Trump -- former President Trump is preparing to leave his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club to begin the journey to Atlanta, Georgia in the southern United States. Once there, the former president plans on surrendering to charges of interfering with the 2020 election in Georgia, racketeering and more.

I want to bring in the former Republican Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, Jeff Duncan, and former Georgia Democratic State Senator, Jen Jordan. Both were witnesses before the Fulton County grand jury this month. Lieutenant Governor Duncan, you testified to that grand jury twice within the last couple weeks.


Can you give us any sense of what Trump and his 18 co-defendants are facing here?

JEFF DUNCAN, (R) FORMER GEORGIA LT. GOVERNOR: Well, my experience was a very laser-focused district attorney and staff of the district attorney and also a very intense grand jury and very focused questions. So I anticipate this being a very fact-based case. And of course, reading the full indictment shows that there's a very elaborate story to tell.

You know, I think it's interesting, Jake, that we sit here today. The average American would be completely having the worst day of their life if they were walking into their fourth indictment in four months. But it just seems like the average par for the course. I mean, the cameras know where to set up now outside Bedminster. Where to set up at the FBO's up at the airport. This is not normal. And we cannot ever get to a point where we think this is normal as Americans -- and specifically Republicans. This is not OK.

TAPPER: And Senator Jordan, you witnessed Rudy Giuliani and other Trump allies telling these lies, this fraudulent information, sharing it with Georgia state lawmakers in 2020. Mr. Giuliani spoke publicly after surrendering yesterday. Let's play that for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: This is an attack on the American people. If this could happen to me, who is probably the most prolific prosecutor maybe in American history, and the most effective mayor for sure, it can happen to you.


TAPPER: What do you make of that? Giuliani maintaining his innocence and claiming this is an orchestrated attack. If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.

JEN JORDAN, (D) FORMER GEORGIA STATE SENATOR: Look, if you break the laws, it can happen to you. I mean, even for if you are someone like Rudy Giuliani who has the reputation that he has, who has kind of the past history he has in terms of actually being a prosecutor with respect to RICO cases, if you break the law, you're going to be held accountable. And it doesn't matter who you are. That's what we're witnessing. This is not normal in the sense that the president, you know, is going to present himself and be arrested at Rice Street in Fulton County. But it is normal, in that if you break the laws, you should be held accountable no matter who you are.

TAPPER: Senator Jordan, how do you think your testimony might have shaped the prosecutions pursuit of these indictments in any way?

JORDAN: Look, I think it really was about what we've seen from the January 6th Committee and then the indictment at the federal level. They talk about really this overarching scheme to overturn the election. The state of Georgia and what happened with respect to my committee and what I witnessed, really was the implementation of that plan on the ground.

All of these people that you see that have been presenting themselves, that have been indicted, including John Eastman, and Jenna Ellis and David Shafer, they were all present and accounted for. They were part of the scheme. They were moving it along. They were doing the overt acts, and not only that, but they got called on camera. So it's one of those things where thank goodness that did happen. Because, of course, they would be saying that it didn't if we didn't have video proof of it.

And it's one of those things where, I even went back the other day and I watched the seven-hour hearing that I was in. And I was just absolutely dumb-founded and actually a little bit angry that they thought that they could get away with that.

TAPPER: Lieutenant Governor Duncan, as we watch on the right side of the screen, police cars, flashing sirens at Bedminster, New Jersey. And we anticipate that former President Trump will be leaving his golf club in New Jersey on his way Newark airport any moment now. and we'll tell if you he's in one of those cars. In fact, let me go to Kristen Holmes right now and I'll come back to you Lieutenant Governor.

Kristen Holmes, this motorcade certainly looks like the one Donald Trump would be in. What can you tell us? KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are on their way (INAUDIBLE)

you can see the ambulance. You can see the several SUV vehicles and it's these larger motorcades This is what has been happening when he's been going to his arraignments and obviously, in this case, the booking. They will go to New York -- Newark Airport as we have reported. They will fly straight to Atlanta. Then they will go straight to that jail for him to be processed. We are told this is going to be a very quick trip. He will then turn around and leave. He will fly back here to Bedminster.

As we have reported, there's not going to be any fanfare when he arrives back here. No club members waiting for him for a party or any sort of big speech like we've seen in the past. This is just going to him possibly giving remarks after he is processed to reporters who are traveling with him. And so again, we've now seen -- that was the end of it. That was the end of the motorcade. The next stop is Newark Airport where he will fly out to Atlanta for this processing.

TAPPER: All right, just to be clear. Because you were breaking up a little at the top.


The president, the former president, is in that motorcade on his way from his Bedminster golf club to the Newark Airport. And he will fly commercially down Georgia. Is that right?

HOLMES: Not commercially. He will fly privately --

TAPPER: I'm sorry privately, right.

HOLMES: -- on his plane down to Georgia to Atlanta. Yes, but he is -- that was him in that motorcade. They just departed. They are on their way now for processing.

TAPPER: All right, thank you so much. We'll check back in in a sec.

Let me go back to Lieutenant Governor Jeff Duncan -- former Lieutenant Governor Duncan. So Mr. Duncan, former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark will have no choice but to turn themselves in by noon. And in fact we know that Meadows already turned himself in, despite efforts to avoid arrest and booking at the jail. Both say they were doing their jobs. Do you think that argument has any merit?

DUNCAN: Well, it's going to be interesting. I mean, some of these folks that have turned themselves and released statements, have talked about they were told to do it. Some of them were like, David Shafer said that the president's attorneys directed them to. But nobody is pointing to the box of proof, right? That just doubling down on, well, that was 12,000 dead people that voted and here's the proof.

You know, Senator Jordan had a front-row seat for the multiple indictments in the faux meetings that they ran or unofficial meetings. It will be interesting to have them try to explain some of that stuff.

TAPPER: All right, former Lieutenant Governor Duncan, former Senator Jordan, thanks to both of you, appreciate it.

I want to bring in now Marc Short, the former Chief of Staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Marc, thanks for joining us. So we just got the latest mug shots out of Fulton County, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, whom you have said was the ringleader of this attempt to subvert the election. What is it like to see mug shots of people with whom you worked who were inside the Trump inner circle while you were working there for Vice President Pence.

MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Jake, I think it's sad. It's tragic. It's not something that you want to see anyone endure. And I think that, you know, the reality is that, even if I had significant differences with Mark leading up to January 6th and the way it was characterized after, it's still not something that you want any former colleagues to have go through. It's not -- it's a somber day.

TAPPER: But do you think -- I mean there's a lot of people saying, oh, this is just political. These people were just trying to root out election fraud. This is the criminalization of their free speech rights, et cetera, et cetera. What do you think of the indictment and the charges?

SHORT: Well, Jake, what I know is that it was absolutely wrong and that the plot was wrong, the plan to ask the vice president to overthrow the election was dead wrong. I think it's something that I think history will judge. I don't know the extent to which the criminality of it, Jake. I just simply know it was wrong. But I do think that there is an interesting play publicly about saying, hey, it's just my First Amendment right to mislead the American people. Elected officials do it all the time.

Versus an argument that says, hey, I have evidence that there was an election was stolen. I'll going to come forth with that evidence and when I do, you'll see that this prosecution is politically charged. Well, it's hard to say it's both. Like it's either, yes, I intentionally misled the people but I'm protected by the First Amendment. Or its, I have the evidence to prove it was stolen. But it seems like they're making the same -- they're making both arguments, which I think is contradictory.

TAPPER: The former vice president obviously participated in the first presidential debate -- Republican presidential debate last night. And there was a moment where he was basically challenging, after the moderators had asked his rivals on stage, do you think what it does in upholding the Constitution was the right thing to do or not? He really had to kind of press to get a straight answer out of at least one of the rivals. So what do you think of that moment?

SHORT: Well, I think it's important, Jake. Every public official raises the right hand and pledges to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That's what our men and women in uniform swear to do. And so, it's the most basic of the pledges you made to the American people in that role. And I think if you can't affirm that that is what you would do in a similar situation, I think it's very important for the American people to know that. And so, I think it was an important conversation to have last night. And I think that, you know, it's going to be a hallmark of the vice president's career that when pressure was put upon him, he made sure he upheld his oath to the Constitution.

TAPPER: Yes, and obviously you're supporting Vice President Pence's run for the presidency. I'm wondering what you think of the answers from his rivals on the stage.


The only one I heard really effusively praise what Vice President Pence did on January 6, 2021, was Governor Chris Christie, but maybe I'm mistaken.

SHORT: Well, I think Christie was very full throated and that. But I think I was heartened by the fact that the vast majority had no equivocation in saying that they agreed that the vice president upheld his oath to the Constitution.

I think there's a lot of other very interesting exchanges as well, Jake, that I think does show a big divide inside our party. And I think that, you know, there's certainly a different strain perhaps of populism. But there's populism in there and thinking a fraud perpetrating on many Republican primary voters, and I think that some of that was exposed last night as well.

TAPPER: We'll have you back and we will have Vice President Pence back to talk about that. I appreciate your time, Marc, thank you so much.

SHORT: Thanks a lot, Jake, appreciate it.

TAPPER: Former President Donald Trump just left his New Jersey golf club head for the Newark Airport as he makes his way to Georgia to surrender in the Fulton County election case. More coverage ahead, including a conversation with a former trump attorney who will join me live. Stay with us.


TAPPER: And you're looking at live images right now of the Fulton County Georgia Jail, where in just a few hours former President Donald Trump will be placed under arrest.

Welcome to THE LEAD and CNN special coverage of this historical event. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C.

Trump is now making his way down to Georgia. Just a few minutes ago we saw his motorcade leave his New Jersey golf resort and head to the Newark Airport. The former president announcing his plans on his social media. Posting, quote:

Arrest time 7:30 p.m.