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The Lead with Jake Tapper
First Televised Hearing In Georgia Election Case; Trump Says He'd "Absolutely" Testify In One Of His Trials; Mar-a-Lago I.T. Worker Agrees To Testify In Docs Case, Strikes Deal With Special Counsel To Avoid Prosecution; Special Counsel Intends To Indict Hunter Biden; Senate To Vote On Funding Bills, Sets Up Clash With House; Official: Inmate Escaped Prison By Crabwalking Up Wall And Pushed His Way Through Razor Wire; Leaders Of The Proud Boys And Oath Keepers Given Lengthy Prison Sentences For Seditious Conspiracy. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired September 06, 2023 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Donald Trump said he would absolutely testify in his own defense. What could go wrong?
THE LEAD starts right now.
Trump on trial. Cameras in the courtroom. A first real look at the case in Fulton County, Georgia, and the charges of conspiracy to overthrow that state's 16 electoral votes as two defendants get some bad news from the judge.
And in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case against the former president, a new cooperation deal between special counsel Jack Smith and the IT worker known as Trump employee number four. What might this mean for the prosecution's case?
Plus, a manhunt expands in Pennsylvania for a convicted brutal killer. Two entire school districts in the commonwealth have canceled classes as incredible new video is released showing just how that inmate escaped.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Donald Trump on trial. Moments ago, a critical hearing wrapped in the Fulton County, Georgia, election subversion case against Mr. Trump and his 18 defendants. Cameras were allowed in the courtroom, a first in any case against the former president.
One of the biggest topics discussed in the hearing, whether the 19 defendants in the case will be tried together or separately and when those trials might be held. The judge ruled from the bench that pro- Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro from Wisconsin, and former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell will go to trial together on October 23rd. But the judge has not yet decided whether the other 17 co-defendants will be tried together or when their trial will take place. Keep in mind, this is just the Georgia case. There are three other
criminal cases against Mr. Trump that also will be taking up time in his calendar and as we came on air today, some breaking news about President Biden's son Hunter. A brand new court filing from the special counsel investigating Hunter Biden, David Weiss said in that filing he intends to indict the president's son on federal gun charges by the end of the month. That reporting is just coming in. We'll have more for you there in just a moment.
Our coverage is going to start with CNN's Evan Perez.
Evan, in terms of the schedule in that Georgia case against Donald Trump and the other 18 defendants, prosecutors today laid out their ideal timeline. What was it and how did the judge respond to it?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's an aggressive timeline, Jake. They're talking about going to trial for all 19 defendants and they're talking about going to trial in October. They said this is going to be a four-month trial. They're talking about 150 witnesses potentially that they would have to put on. The judge immediately seemed to throw a little bit of cold water on this saying it just seemed -- at least he seemed very skeptical that this is something they could pull off. There's a number of reasons why.
Of course, one of them is the fact that Mark Meadows, one of the key defendants in this case, is asking for his case to be moved to federal court. And that motion that he is making, that request is still pending. A federal judge is still considering that. And that has a lot of potential implications for everyone else, because if he moves Meadows' case to federal court, it is possible that he might have to move all 19 defendants. That is something that is obviously something that is pending.
So the judge really had some skepticism about that. But, he also threw cold water on the idea that Powell and Chesebro get to just sever their cases and from the other defendants. The argument that both of them are making -- well, we weren't part of all parts of this conspiracy so therefore I shouldn't have to be tried together. And the judge said, well, that's not how the law works. Georgia RICO law, racketeering law requires that all of the defendants who were part of this conspiracy, even if they weren't part of all of it, get to be tried, have to be tried together. And so, that's part of the function of the Georgia law.
And so, the judge really dismissed that request. It was a very quick decision for the judge, Jake. One of the things that we heard about this judge was that he makes decisions very quickly and you saw that, of course, before the cameras in state court. Something that, of course, if this case moves to federal court, we are unlike, we're not going to be seeing.
But again, for the purposes of today, what this does is it gives a lot of incentive to some of these other defendants that you saw already. A few of them, I believe four of them now, have made similar requests to sever their cases, to separate themselves because they don't want to be tried as part of -- with the former president or with other defendants.
TAPPER: So Sidney Powell's lawyer today argued that she was not actually the driving force behind the breach of voter machines in Coffee County, Georgia. So if she wasn't the driving force behind it, who are they suggesting is?
PEREZ: Well, part of what they're saying is that she really -- you know, they're disputing what the -- what the prosecutors in Georgia are saying. And they produced, of course -- the prosecutors have produced evidence that they say shows that her -- that her legal organization was really the driving force, that they hired consultants to try to get access to voting machines in Georgia.
Of course, CNN reporting from our Zachary Cohen has shown this is a something that went beyond just Michigan. It went to Coffee County. It went to other parts in other states as well. And so, what she is saying is you can't put this all on her.
But we know from some of our own reporting that all of this, of course, ties back to former president and at the White House. We know that back in December, this issue, this idea of getting access to voting machines came up at that one meeting in December where Sidney Powell was present and where everyone was talking about getting access to voting machines.
TAPPER: All right. Evan Perez, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Let's talk about this more with CNN's Elie Honig and Karen Friedman Agnifilo.
Elie, you think that today's hearing was a bad day for the prosecutors, a bad day for district attorney Fani Willis's office, why?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, on balance. The good news for Fani Willis is she won the motion to keep Chesebro and Sidney Powell together. So, that will be one trial of the two of them. She doesn't have to try each of them separately. The bad news is she lost the trial on the other 17, all but lost. The judge said, I'm, quote, very skeptical of your ability to try all 19 at once and he said, I'll give you a couple of days to brief it. But he all but signaled that he's not going to keep all 19 defendants together.
The other thing is I think there's a bit of hypocrisy that's been exposed now from the D.A.'s office because the public rhetoric is we're ready. We want everyone. We're ready to go right now. But here is the reality. Fani Willis took two and a half plus years to indict this case. She indicted in August and then said I want a trial of everybody two months from now. I take two and a half years to investigate and they get a trial in two months.
And then she said, well, I'm not ready to produce discovery until September 15th. That is half of the time. She should have been ready to produce discovery on day one. And then today when the judge says, how long do you need to brief this issue about keeping defendants together, her lawyers say, we need two weeks. That's a quarter of the remaining time. So the talk here is we're ready, ready, ready, but their actions are not consistent with that.
TAPPER: And, Karen, does it surprise you that the judge would not separate Chesebro's case from Powell's?
KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, it doesn't at all. I mean, this is a RICO conspiracy case. And really the charges and the acts and the events are applicable to everybody. It's a whole story and different pieces of the story belong together. This is an enterprise, a group that worked together to try and illegally overturn the Georgia election that went for Biden to Trump.
And so, that's a whole story that belongs together and should stay together. So, there really isn't any reason to separate the two Chesebro and Sidney Powell here.
TAPPER: So, Elie, as you noted, the judge seems skeptical that the trial could be held for all 19 defendants together in October. But for those that don't know, in Georgia, you have a right to a speedy trial. You have the rocket docket idea, which some states have and some don't. In Georgia, you have a speedy trial.
So Chesebro and Powell are like we wanted to be tried now, and they're exercising that right, and Fani Willis is like, well, we could do all 19 right now. You don't think so, though. The judge doesn't think so.
Is Fani Willis not ready for this case?
HONIG: Well, she's certainly not ready to try 19 defendants in October. And the reason that is not going to happen, part of it is legal. A defendant has a right under Georgia, a very strong right to say I want my speedy trial. You get it within essentially what amounts to two months from now. But you can't force the others into doing that too.
Also, there was an interesting I think unexpected wrinkle that caught the D.A.'s office flat-footed today. The judge said, well, hang on, one the other defendants in this case, Mark Meadows, he's trying to get into federal court.
HONIG: And that's pending right now with the federal district judge and the judge today said, no matter that comes out, that's going to be appealed, that could take up to six months, and the D.A. said, right. And the judge said, so aren't we sort of, aren't our hands tied until then, and the D.A.'s office didn't have an answer. They said, we're going to have to get back to you on that one, judge. They weren't ready for that either.
TAPPER: And, Karen, prosecutors say the trial could take four months. The judge said he thinks it could take eight months. Who do you side with?
AGNIFILO: I think it's probably closer to the eight months. I mean, think about how much going into a trial. They said it excludes jury selection and there is a jury selection case in the RICO -- a trial going on right near in a RICO case in Georgia, they're still in jury selection and that's eight months.
So jury selection takes time.
The other side that's an unknown is the defense case. Will the defense put on a case? And the more defendants that are going on trial, the more lawyers will cross-examine witnesses, the more openings, the more closing, it will extend the trial.
So I think -- I think it's going to be closer to the eight months for this particular trial than the four months.
TAPPER: The prosecutors said something like 150 witnesses or something like that.
TAPPER: Elie, this was the first televised hearing in a Trump case. We are expecting that the case -- the trial would be televised as they do in Georgia. How does that impact the case?
HONIG: So, first of all, I thought it was interesting. I know -- do you think it's interesting, the (INAUDIBLE) lawyer?
HONIG: Yeah, I'm glad people are interested in severance. I thought it was high quality lawyering on both sides. Good arguments.
TAPPER: And the judge seems solid.
HONIG: Sober. And the judge was in control.
So the concerns about, oh, we're going to have a circus, I think were undercut by today. One --
TAPPER: This is not Ito part two.
HONIG: Right. No, dancing Itos are going to come out of this.
One thing that I think is important, if there is a trial of the early group, Chesebro and Powell together, we will see that, and Donald Trump won't be a defendant at that table. But you could bet he will be mentioned and implicated while that's going on.
TAPPER: And, Karen, Special Counsel Jack Smith and the election subversion case in the federal court said in the court filing that Trump had made, quote, daily extrajudicial statements that threaten to prejudice the jury pool. Do you that that's accurate, that his social media statements are tainting possible jurors?
AGNIFILO: I mean, it's hard to know because those submissions are largely under seal. So we don't know what he's referring to. But Donald Trump has recently created these short videos on this Truth Social account where he's on a daily basis talking about cases and the issues and what's going on in these four prosecutions. So I do think there is a possibility and a risk that he could taint the jury pool for sure.
TAPPER: All right. Thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
And then there's Donald Trump who said today he would absolutely take the stand in one of his trials, given the 91 charges against him. Is that such a wise choice? I'm going to talk to one of his former lawyers.
Plus, what Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said just moments ago about his future in the Senate after those recent bouts of freezing in front of cameras.
Plus, incredible new video from inside of a Pennsylvania prison showing just how that ruthless brutal inmate escaped, scaling a wall. What authorities are saying now, seven days into the manhunt.
TAPPER: And we're back with more on our law and justice lead. Donald Trump wants to take the stand in his own defense -- at least that's what he told Hugh Hewitt earlier today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO HOST: If you have to go to trial, will you testify in your own defense?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Oh, yes. Absolutely.
HEWITT: You'll take the stand?
TRUMP: That I would. That I look forward to.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: Former Trump attorney Tim Parlatore joins me now.
Tim, as Trump's former attorney, do you think him taking the stand at a trial would he about a good idea?
TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: You know, personally, I don't like of any clients taking the stand in a criminal case. This is not something they're required to do. And I have not generally had any clients take the stand unless they first undergo a very rigorous cross-examination by me and pass. And more times than not, when they're going through that process, all right, Tim, stop, time out. I don't believe myself, I'm not testifying. So, I can't see it being a good idea here.
TAPPER: I can't help but think about the last time that he kind of testified in his own defense. It was -- when he was deposed in the E. Jean Carroll civil case and it was a videotaped deposition, and there was one woman where he confused the woman suing him with his second wife Marla Maples, and then there was this moment when he was asked about that infamous quote about grabbing women by their genitals. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's true with starts that they can grab women by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
TRUMP: Well, that's what -- if you look over the last million years, I guess that's been largely true, not always, but largely true, unfortunately or fortunately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Unfortunately or fortunately. I mean, it seems like putting him on the stand would be risky?
PARLATORE: It is. And that is kind of an illustration of why it is an uncontrolled environment. You don't know necessarily what the client is going to say. Even a very well-practiced client can say things that they would regret after the fact. So, you try to -- you try to remember, a trial is a presentation for the jury where you're going to try and control it as much as you can and that's an uncontrollable risk, try to avoid it.
TAPPER: Yeah. And to say the least, he's not the most disciplined on message individual I've ever met. Today on Mar-a-Lago --
PARLATORE: At the same time --
TAPPER: Yeah, go ahead.
PARLATORE: At the same time, constitutionally, a defendant has the right to do it --
TAPPER: Of course.
PARLATORE: -- and if the lawyer said it is the worst idea in the world, the client could do it anyway. So --
TAPPER: Oh, yeah. And it's televised, of course.
TAPPER: Today, a Mar-a-Lago I.T. worker struck a deal with special counsel Jack Smith's office. The employee has agreed to testify in order to avoid prosecution. How nervous do you think this makes Donald Trump? And this is in the
classified documents case. And could we begin to see more people flip, cooperating with prosecutors, as these cases intensify?
PARLATORE: It is a common theme in any one of these cases, where you have somebody who is being threatened with prosecution and they see their co-workers being arrested and charged and told, hey, if you just come in and tell us the story that we want to hear, you could avoid being charged yourself.
So, yeah, I do think that it's something to be concerned about. At the same time, you know, what is he going to say? Is it something that could be backed up or cross-examined on. Yeah, I don't know that it will significantly change the case any more so than the surveillance video, I think, is the biggest hurdle that they have to over come.
TAPPER: Well, I mean, I suppose it would just be more testimony if somebody -- if there is testimony that Donald Trump instructed somebody to destroy evidence, that's obstruction of justice. Not that -- not that it was destroyed but that if he told somebody to do it and if this I.T. guy would testify that he was instructed to do it, that's evidence, further evidence of obstruction of justice?
PARLATORE: Correct. It would be. And I don't know whether he's going to say that Donald Trump told them directly, or whether it was told through an intermediary. Which that would change the admissibility in a lot of issues with it.
TAPPER: We're also getting new insight on a key piece of evidence in the -- in the classified documents case. ABC News reported that Trump's lawyer Evan Corcoran recorded voice memos that showed that he warned Donald Trump, the FBI might raid Mar-a-Lago if he didn't comply with the Justice Department subpoena to return the documents and another attorney warned him if you push Trump to hard to comply, quote, he's going to go ballistic.
Does this new reporting paint the president's mindset in your opinion accurately that he would have gone ballistic if pushed to comply with the subpoena. And if you would, talk about the crime fraud exemption here when it comes to getting information that's -- that normally would be protected by attorney/client privilege.
PARLATORE: Sure. Look, I've read all of these notes. And, obviously, it's still under seal. It's not something I can, you know, just release. But at the same time, this article takes some of the highlights out of the -- out of the notes, and doesn't really unfortunately give the full context, because the full context of this conversation largely is standard attorney/client discussions about when you receive a subpoena, what are the left and right limits?
Sure, there's a lot of Trumpisms added in there. It's a little bit more meandering at times. But at the same time, it is exactly what is classically attorney/client communications. I will say, you know, you asked me about the crime fraud exception, there is one piece of it that I would concede under the government's theory would be discoverable under the crime fraud exception.
We didn't know this at the time because, you know, we litigated this motion where we weren't allowed to see their papers and when they got up in court to speak, they told us we have to leave the room. So, now, that I see the indictment and I know their theory, I would say that the portion where he's talking about when he's going to come back, when he's going to do the search and where he's going to do the search, that portion would be discoverable under the crime fraud exception based on their theory that he had Walt move boxes the night before. So, I think that that part would be discoverable.
TAPPER: So not the other part of the ABC article --
PARLATORE: No, not the part that he would go ballistic because the actual context is not that Evan was warned that he would go ballistic but rather that another lawyer was warned by a campaign lawyer. And the campaign lawyer said, oh, don't push him to comply with the subpoena because he'll go ballistic.
So when the two criminal lawyers got together, they discussed what the campaign lawyer said and they said, okay, you know what, we're going to ask him any way. They did and Trump said, sure. Go ahead and do the search.
TAPPER: What was the other point you were going to make?
PARLATORE: With the full context is a very -- with the full context, it's a bit different.
TAPPER: Okay. There was another point you were going to make. I don't know if you remember what it was?
PARLATORE: Probably not.
TAPPER: Okay. Tim Parlatore, really appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
PARLATORE: All right. Thank you.
TAPPER: Then there is the special counsel investigating President Biden's son, Hunter Biden, in a brand-new court filing just in indicating that an indictment in that case is coming soon.
Keep it here. More to come.
TAPPER: Breaking news now on Hunter Biden's continuing legal woes, an indictment is imminent.
Let's get straight to CNN's Kara Scannell.
Kara, what is the news?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, we've got new court filing from special counsel David Weiss's office and they say they're going to seek an indictment related to Hunter Biden's purchase and possession of a gun by the end of this month. You may remember, he initially agreed to what's known as a pretrial diversion agreement, meaning that he would avoid prosecution for possessing a gun while addicted to a controlled substance. That's a felony that carries a maximum of ten years in prison.
And they made a deal that the charge would go away if he abided by it over 24 months. That all seemingly fell apart when the tax agreement also fell apart because he was going to plead guilty to tax misdemeanor charges. Now, the special counsel's office saying to the judge that they're going to move forward and seek an indictment related to the guns, the gun position by the end of this month.
Now, it's not clear what exactly they will charge. But, you know, they were looking at possibly charging with false statements, they ultimately reached this deal related to the gun possession. But that's something that they are now saying they're going to move forward with.
And it's important to note that the statute of limitations on this gun possession would expire in October. So they need to move quickly anyway if they're going to bring a case related to that. Biden purchased this gun in Delaware. He had it for 11 days. And so that is the essence of what this charge is.
Now, Biden's team says, though, that they have a binding deal in this diversion agreement. They're still fighting that, telling the judge that he's abiding by that to this day. So this is going to end up being a legal fight anyway but it looks now, the prosecutors saying they're going to seek an indictment on this gun issue by the end of this month.
TAPPER: And this tax charges are still looming out there?
SCANNELL: Well, so those tax charges were dismissed. That was something that the prosecution and Biden's team agreed upon because the plea deal that they reached had fallen apart and he ended up entering a plea of not guilty, in that case. But the special counsel's office they wanted to dismiss so they could seek it another jurisdiction but Biden's tax issues did not reside in Delaware where this issue was before the judge.
TAPPER: They're in D.C. and L.A., right?
SCANNELL: D.C. and L.A., so the prosecutors said they want the chance to bring these charges and again those were misdemeanors, it is possible they could look at felonies now. Whatever they might want to charge related to taxes in the jurisdictions where the alleged crime took place.
TAPPER: All right. Kara Scannell, thank you so much.
In our politics lead, the U.S. Senate will move forward on three spending bills next week. And that will leave House Speaker Kevin McCarthy caught between a rock and a hard right Republican blockade of sorts. Congress still needs to pass a short-term government spending bill to avoid an October 1st government shutdown. That's exactly what Speaker McCarthy is urging his members to do, a short-term spending bill.
But members of the more conservative caucuses are ready to go to battle over lower spending right now. So if McCarthy overrides them, they are -- some of them threatening to oust him from the speakership.
And with us now, Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado. He's a member of both of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Freedom Caucus. He's pushing for pre-2019 spending levels and he's leading charge against McCarthy's effort to cut a deal with Democrats.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
So, Speaker McCarthy warns that this in-fighting among Republicans is going to likely backfire and ultimately Congress is going to end up with higher spending levels because you are opposed by not just Democrats and some Republicans in the House, but by the U.S. Senate, most in the U.S. Senate because there's bipartisan agreement on spending there. You could pass a short-term spending bill right now and save your big spending fight for later this year.
Why not do that?
REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Well, the spending bill that the speaker is talking about passing, the continuing resolution in the next few weeks so that the government stays open after September 30th would be at the 2023 number. The speaker has promised that he won't go above the 2022 number. And there are many of us that want to see a number even lower than that as a result of this burgeoning national debt that we have.
So, most Republicans voted against the 2023 number in the last Congress. I can't imagine that most of them are going to want to vote for a continuing resolution of a number that they voted against. So it puts the speaker, as you said, between a rock and a hard place.
TAPPER: Have you tried to meet with, say, a Senate Democrat to try -- I mean, you know, everybody can look at the math and see that we as a country have been for too many years under Democrat and Republican administrations spending more money than we take in. I mean, it's just right there on the page. Have you tried to talk to anybody in the Senate who is of the other party to say, is there any way we could get on some sort of sustainable path?
BUCK: I have had conversations with Democrats in the House. I'm not going to go through names or the negotiations. But I have talked to people in the House, and other Republicans.
I think this is really where the speaker's leadership comes in play. He needs to present a case for how much wasteful spending there is in the federal government, as well as a path forward. I have suggested to the speaker that every committee, judiciary committee, foreign affairs and education committee, all have a subcommittee that is dedicated to finding waste and cutting it out of the authorization so that the appropriations committee doesn't appropriate money to those programs.
That is not being followed. There are a lot of suggestions from a lot of people on how on strategies that we could use to reduce spending that largely have been ignored and we end up with this crisis.
TAPPER: I'm sure there are plenty of ways for fraud and abuse and isn't that a campaign slogan. The real problem here is that we're spending money on things that we can't afford and a lot of them are good programs. It's just that we can't afford those programs, you know, at the rate of the money that is coming in. Isn't that the real issue, that this is going to take some really difficult decisions?
BUCK: It absolutely is. Jake, that is really the problem with Congress. Congress doesn't make difficult decisions unless there is a crisis. And the most difficult decision are the entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid.
All we need to do is to make sure that the younger workers, the 25, 26, 30-year-old workers are going to see a retirement age further down the road. There are other strategies that have to be adopted but that is the real driver of the debt. I don't think you could get to that side of the equation before you cut every single penny that you can on the discretionary side, on the programs that form the bulk of the government.
TAPPER: I want to get your take on your colleague Congressman Matt Gaetz saying he is prepared to force a floor vote on impeaching President Biden. And if Speaker McCarthy blocks the effort, he is threatened to make a motion to oust Speaker McCarthy. What do you think of that?
BUCK: Well, I think -- I think Speaker McCarthy has set a number of times that he wants to bring a vote on the impeachment inquiry. Not necessarily the impeachment, but the inquiry. So I think he and Congressman Gaetz are on the same page there.
I don't think there is an appetite right now for a motion to vacate Speaker McCarthy. I think that we have three committees that are working very hard on uncovering evidence of Hunter Biden's wrongdoing. They are looking to see if there is a connection with Joe Biden. If they reach that point, where they could find evidence of a connection, fine, I think that the Republicans will move forward with an impeachment inquiry.
Right now, I'm not convinced that that evidence exists. And I'm not supporting an impeachment inquiry.
TAPPER: All right. Republican Congressman Ken Buck of the great state of the Colorado, good to see you. Thank you, sir.
BUCK: Thank you.
Coming up next, the new video just out showing that inmate who escaped the Pennsylvania prison climbing a wall to make his big getaway. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
TAPPER: In our national lead, just a short while ago, police in Pennsylvania released this video of Danelo Cavalcante climbing his way out of the Chester County prison just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two entire school districts still are closed as this manhunt for this escaped killer enters its seventh day.
Joining us to discuss, CNN's Josh Campbell and Brian Todd who is outside of the prison in West Chester where the inmate escaped.
Brian, this video of this inmate basically scaling the wall without getting caught is pretty shocking. What else did police have to say about his escape today?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, that video dramatic, extraordinary, we can get right back to it if you can replay that video just released a short time ago by law enforcement at this briefing, showing Danelo Cavalcante, the moment of his escape on last Thursday, August 31st, this is in the exercise yard at the Chester County prison.
He's crab walking up between two walls and if you see that, it is till just looks extraordinary. His deftness in getting up the wall. And then he pushed through razor wire and ran across a roof and scaled another fence and pushed his way through more razor wire and then got away.
Another important piece of information, there was a tower security guard present but that guard did not observe this happening and did not report it. He was not reported missing until almost an hour later when they did a head count. That guard is now on administrative leave.
Danelo Cavalcante is described as 5 feet tall, 120 pounds and again, if you see this video, we did ask them about certain details of kind of that hallway type opening there that you see where he's wedging himself between the two walls, how wide it is. One of the officials said maybe five feet, maybe less than five feet. So if that is the case, he's wedging himself between two walls that are about the length of his body, maybe a little bit shorter, Jake. Again, just extraordinary.
One other quick piece of information, they have another sighting of him last night. A resident observed him in a creek bed on their property. But the time law enforcement got there, he had a vanished -- Jake.
TAPPER: Josh, you've had previous experience with working in manhunts. What kind of challenges are police facing as they try to capture this fugitive?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, these are resource intensive efforts. You have hundreds of law enforcement officers who are searching for someone who doesn't want to be found, in an area where there is plenty of opportunity for him to secrete himself into hiding places. Now I've been part of the manhunts where you have command posts that are operational.
Just to tell you about the work that's going on behind the scenes, you have intel teams that are working together, joint interagency efforts, fielding tips, fielding leads. They also typically have behavioral analysts to try to study the suspect, his support structure, to try to predict where he might go.
Finally, it's important to note that law enforcement certainly understands the strain that a manhunt like this puts on the community. You have people obviously that are gripped by fear with this dangerous person that is out there. But they sometimes take time.
I mean, one manhunt that I worked in Pennsylvania took 48 days for us to finally find that suspect who was hiding out in the woods. And so that certainly takes time. But authorities are trying to remind the public, this is a dangerous suspect. We know he's dangerous because Pennsylvania state police have issued a directive saying that authorities can shoot the suspect on sight if he's actively surrendering.
TAPPER: All right. Brian Todd and Josh Campbell, thanks to you.
Coming up next, among the 91 charges against Donald Trump, why seditious conspiracy is not on the list. Despite the claims about January 6 that prosecutors have already laid out.
TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, the top leaders of two far right groups that helped orchestrate the January 6 insurrection each got lengthy prison sentences for the charge of seditious conspiracy.
In May, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years, and he claimed he was waiting for Donald Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, which never happened.
And just yesterday, former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio was sentenced to 22 years, the longest sentence for anyone involved in the Capitol attack. Now, Tarrio's lawyers called their client a scapegoat for Mr. Trump.
Prosecutors said they saw themselves as Donald Trump's army, that they are riled up by the president's stand back and stand by comment in that 2020 debate. We should note, Donald Trump is facing four counts in the federal indictment related to trying to overturn the 2020 election. Two of them are directly related to obstruct, again, conspiring to obstruct the vote certification proceedings at the Capitol that day.
But Donald Trump has not himself been charged with seditious conspiracy.
Let's bring back former assistant U.S. attorney, Elie Honig, along with CNN's Elle Reeve.
Elie Honig, let me start with you.
Okay. So the indictment says on the morning of January 6th, Mr. Trump and co-conspirators repeatedly knowingly false claims, repeated knowingly false claims of election fraud to gather supporters, falsely told them, the vice president had the authority to alter the election results, directed them to the Capitol to obstruct the certification proceeding. The indictment adds, as violence ensued, Trump and co- conspirators exploited the disruption by redoubling efforts to levy false claims of election fraud and convince members of Congress to further delay the certification based on those claims.
But Trump is not facing seditious conspiracy charges. Why not?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So it's a fair question. I think if Jack Smith were to answer that question, he would say the difference between the obstruction charge that they did file against Trump and the seditious conspiracy charge which they did not file against Trump, but did file against the Proud Boys is the use of force. If you look at the law, that's what makes the difference.
In Enrique Tarrio's case --
TAPPER: He wasn't even there. He was in jail, right?
HONIG: Right, exactly. But he was involved in planning to use force, discussions about ammunition, how are we going to sort of infiltrate the Capitol? And, Donald Trump, yes, he directs the mob down to the Capitol, but he also says, and maybe he didn't really mean this, but he says, be peaceful and patriotic, and I think Jack Smith would say, I stayed with the simpler charge to prove with the cleaner charge.
TAPPER: Elle Reeve, what is the current state of the Proud Boys now that their former leader and other top members are facing serious jail time?
ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, there's no more big national rallies. Instead, you mostly see small groups protesting drag queens. It is a big shift from fighting Antifa. It looks kind of like a bid to stay relevant.
So, there's also a lot of infighting over whether to allow in white nationalist members. So, one Proud Boy called me in great distress because he discovered members of his group had white supremacist tattoos. But the bigger picture is that Proud Boys pitch themselves as a fun drinking club, where everything was a joke, and these sentences are not a joke and that really kills the appeal.
TAPPER: Hmm. If Trump were facing seditious conspiracy charges, do you think that would deter these far-right groups or people who follow Trump from repeating the January 6th kind of insurrection? Do you think it matters?
REEVE: I actually think it matters in an opposite way because before January 6th, a lot of these far-right groups thought Trump had their back. And among those I've interviewed, that evaporated, because he did not pardon the Jan 6 rioters. So they say anyone who shows up in protest for him now is a sucker. You saw this in court when one of the Proud Boys said he was done, quote, peddling lies for people who don't care about me.
TAPPER: So, he could -- that Donald Trump -- could Donald Trump have preemptively on this way out of the door pardoned anyone involved in January 6th?
REEVE: Yeah, you can pardon -- a president can pardon someone for anything in the past. You can't say I pardon you for something you might do in the future. But, sure, January 8th, 11th, 12th, 19th, he could have said, I pardon everyone with everything to do with January 6th and as Elle said, he did not.
TAPPER: One of the reason prosecutors are doing this, and they're especially asking for these lengthy prison sentences and they're asking for longer sentences that they're getting, even though they're getting lengthy sentences, is to deter any future insurrections. Do you think that these groups are getting the message?
REEVE: I do think so. I think Elle's reporting is consistent with that. I mean, I give DOJ real credit here. They did an exceptional job in the way they prosecuted the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, 18 years, 22 years. Judges I think hit the nail on the head.
I think it's hard to overlook that. You can't write that off as just, oh, it's 18 months, it's two years. I think if you are thinking about doing anything like this, that's a clear message.
TAPPER: Do you think so, that it's a deterrence for any future insurrection?
REEVE: Absolutely. You saw them say in court. I mean, this group was all about projecting masculine strength and what are they saying in court? They're like, please let me have a chance to build a family.
TAPPER: Were you surprised at how many of them started crying in court?
REEVE: No, they wore military outfits, but they weren't military guys, for the most part, somewhere. You know, they want to project being tough, but they -- other members have told me that they needed a crew to have their back to actually say what they believed.
TAPPER: It wasn't so proud.
REEVE: No, no. Not when they are on their own.
TAPPER: They were boys, though, not so proud.
All right. Thanks one and all. Appreciate it. The lead prosecutor in Fulton County believes she can bring her case against Trump and 18 defendants by October 23rd. That's in 6 1/2 weeks. Hear what the judge had to say about that, call it, ambitious plan, next.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, new attention on the race for 2024 in the Senate. One of the so-called Tennessee three, the Democrats reprimanded for their protest in the statehouse, Gloria Johnson wants to face off against a powerhouse Republican. Ms. Johnson will be here this hour to talk about why she's taking on this tough race.
As another new candidate, a Republican quite familiar to CNN viewers, launches his own campaign in the battleground state of Michigan.
Also this hour, the unannounced trip to Ukraine by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. What his visit they really say about the relative strength of Ukraine's counteroffensive and White House efforts to send Kyiv more money.
And leading this hour, the Fulton County face into the alleged conspiracy to steal Georgia's 16 electoral votes. Today, the judge in that case shut down two defendants who wanted their case separated from 19 co-defendants, including Donald Trump. It was the first televised hearing in the case.
Let's go to CNN's Evan Perez.
Evan, we just watched the pilot episode in this televised trial against Donald Trump. The judge addressing questions about the trial's start. When can we expect to see any sort of schedule, when are we going to -- when are we going to see Donald Trump in the courtroom?