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Trump Subpoenaed For Records After Recording Surfaced Of Him Discussing Classified Doc On Iran; U.S. Adds 399,000 Jobs In May; DeSantis Meets Voters In South Carolina. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired June 02, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Former President Donald Trump's subpoenaed for records. All of this in the wake of that tape where he was caught discussing how he held onto a classified document about Iran. But CNN has learned his attorneys have not been able to find that key document. Our exclusive reporting, just ahead.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Jobs report just shattering expectations. President Biden is touting the still red-hot labor market. But could that mean the Federal Reserve may do more -- need to do more to rein it in? Could there be an 11th consecutive rate hike? We are following these major developing stories and many more, all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.
SANCHEZ: We have a major development in the special counsel probe of Donald Trump's handling of classified documents. Sources tell CNN the former president's attorneys turned over more material to the Justice Department, this time connected to a 2021 recording of him discussing a classified document. That tape sparked a subpoena in March seeking any and all documents related to General Mark Milley or Iran.
But the specific Iran document that Trump mentions on the recording was not among the materials his team handed over. Sources tell CNN It's unknown if that document was ever actually returned to the government. CNN's Paul Reid is part of the team that broke this exclusive story. So, Paula, give us a tick-tock of this subpoena in mid-March.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Sure. So, back in March, one of Trump's longtime aides, Margo Martin, went to testify before the grand jury. And they asked her about this recording that we've reported on.
Now, they asked her because she was one of the people in that meeting back in July 2021, where Trump claimed to have these classified documents that he wanted to share it but couldn't. Now, shortly after she left her grand jury appearance, Trump's attorneys received a subpoena seeking any and all materials related to Iran or General Milley.
SANCHEZ: Right. REID: And initially, I -- we've learned that they were a bit confused why is a special counsel asking about this. We've learned that this was actually the first time they had heard about this meeting or about this recording. Now, according to our sources, they made an effort to comply with this.
They talked to other aides. They gathered transcripts, other materials that were relevant to what the justice department wanted, but they were not able to find the document that Trump claims to have on the tape, this plan for a possible attack.
SANCHEZ: Yes. So, obviously, potentially sensitive information on that document.
SANCHEZ: Do we know where it is?
REID: At this point, it's unclear. We know on this tape, Trump claims to have this document in his possession. He's apparently referencing some of the details in this document that was described as sort of a general reference to what is in this document.
Now, we know that -- from our reporting, that General Milley did not author this document. It actually predates his time as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. But at this point, it's just unclear if this was something that was originally sent to the National Archives in those boxes that according to their letter to Congress, they didn't look through before they sent or if it could have been picked up at in the Mar-a-Lago raid.
But you would think that if the government already had a copy, they wouldn't be asking for another one. At this point, though, Boris, it's unclear where the document is and if the government actually has it.
SANCHEZ: So, what is Team Trump saying about this story and the previous exclusive about the recording?
REID: So, in a statement, the Trump spokesman dismisses the entire investigation as politically motivated, suggests that we are seizing on leaks. But as I've said many times that this is not based on a leak. This is based on weeks, arguably months of dogged reporting, particularly by our colleague, Katelyn Polantz, and then Kaitlan Collins and I came in to help her get it across the lines.
This has nothing to do with a leak. We've talked to multiple sources. While we have not heard the recording, multiple people have told us about it. And again his attorneys have had multiple opportunities on air to deny its existence, and they have not.
SANCHEZ: Absolutely. A lot to parse through in this reporting. Paula Reid, thank you so much for that. Jim?
SCIUTTO: All right, let's talk a little bit more about the National Security fallout with National Security attorney Bradley Moss. So, Bradley, good to have you. First, to this question here about neither the former president's lawyers nor it seems the federal government knows where this document is -- or if it exists, I suppose. We'll get to that. How alarming is that?
BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Oh, it's very alarming. And I think that the latter part of your comment, whether or not exists, is the biggest question here. We know who Donald Trump is.
Donald Trump likes to talk a big game. He likes to exaggerate. He's a serial fabulist.
So, there's a very real possibility he never had the document. He was just making a big show of it and talking about it in front of these people doing the autobiography for Mark Meadows. He didn't actually have anything in his possession, it's why they're making it seem like he did.
That's an -- that's a very you know, realistic possibility. But there's something eerier, something that Jack Smith's team has got that after that grand jury testimony, remember, they went to the judge. They tried to have the Trump team held in contempt for not turning over this stuff.
So, they have something that makes them think that document was in Trump's possession at the time. It obviously wasn't enough to persuade the judge. We don't yet know where this is going. But it's enough that Donald Trump could have talked himself into a whole lot of trouble here just because he can't find a way to hold on to the truth.
SCIUTTO: Well, what could that something be that would give justice department investigators a sense at least an indication that he does still have possession or did at least at some time?
MOSS: So, that's a -- that's kind of the $64,000 question. We know that they've subpoenaed his business records tied to the Saudi government in the aftermath of this testimony in March at the grand jury. We don't know if that's related or if that's a separate issue.
But it also will go to the question of his understanding and knowledge of how classification rules work. Even if he didn't have the document, the fact that on the recording he's talking about how he can't share classified documents that he has in his possession, he understands these limitations on his abilities now that he's not the president, will go to undercut his potential defenses if he's separately charged under the Espionage Act for the documents we know he had. That they found in August, and that was turned over in June of last year. It would undermine that entire defense.
SCIUTTO: Understood. OK. Now, the fact is we know he had many hundreds of classified documents, and many of those in the top secret category. How central is this particular document? It's less about the document itself, I imagine, right? It's more about as you were just referring to his knowledge of what the law is here and what his -- what his responsibility would be. MOSS: So, the only reason this document in my view could be relevant and material important in terms of a charging decision is if either there's evidence and the special counsel has sufficient evidence to bring a charge for trying to disseminate or sell the document to someone. We don't know if that's where they're going with it. Or if it's tied up in the obstruction angle in the sense of he's been taking efforts to conceal this from the investigators to defy the subpoena --
MOSS: -- to defy the search warrants and the supplemental searches. Unless it's tied up in those kinds of supplemental issues, it just goes to the fact pattern about his knowledge of the declassification rules.
SCIUTTO: Yes. And the key question you raise obstruction. Knowing but refusing to give at least some of it back. Bradley Moss, good to have you on. Boris, back to you.
SANCHEZ: We are also following new CNN reporting on the DOJ investigation into former Vice President Mike Pence and his handling of classified documents. That case now closed with prosecutors not bringing charges against the former VP. The probe was sparked after about a dozen classified materials were recovered from Pence's Indiana home in January.
CNN's Evan Perez joins us now to walk us through this move by the Department of Justice. No charges against former Vice President Pence.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: No charges. And look, this is an extraordinary situation where we have ongoing investigations of not only the former vice president but the former president and the sitting president, right?
PEREZ: All for potentially mishandling classified information. All of this, of course, dating back to November when Donald Trump announced for president, and the Justice Department appoints a special counsel to look into that situation. Shortly afterward, President Biden announces that he has found some documents at his home. Again, a special counsel is announced.
And that prompts Mike Pence and his team to go looking to see whether there's any documents found and they find some, about a dozen documents. Again in January, they turn it over to the FBI and to the National Archives. And this -- now, this is -- this review that we now know has been ongoing. That's when that begins.
As a result of this, in February, we know that the FBI did a search of Mike Pence's home in Indiana, his office here in Washington, they found one more document at the home and they've been looking at the -- you know, investigating -- looking -- talking to people who may have been involved in this during interviews, trying to see whether there's any damage to national security. The difference with the way this has been handled, and the Justice Department finally notifying them yesterday that this investigation is closed, is the level of cooperation you saw from the former vice president. Here he is talking about what he -- what he found, and his belief and the way he's handling it. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And while I was not aware that those classified documents were in our personal residence, let me be clear. Those classified documents should not have been in my personal residence. Mistakes were made. And I take full responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: Full responsibility, right? That's the markedly different tone from what you've heard, certainly from the former president, President Trump. And so that's one reason why you see this investigation wrapped up very quickly for cooperation. They opened up his home and his office for the FBI to come search.
And of course, the timing is very important, Boris. You know that the -- that former vice president says he's going to launch a presidential bid, perhaps as soon as next week. And getting this out of the way means that the Justice Department is not faced with the decision of having to open another special counsel, which is something that obviously, is something that's been done in the other ones.
SANCHEZ: Yes, to avoid any appearance of election interference --
SANCHEZ: -- which is what one of the many things the former president is claiming about the investigation into him. And on that note, obviously, as this investigation into Pence wraps up without charges, what does that tell you about the process for the DOJ in a potential decision to indict the former president over classified documents?
PEREZ: Well, you know, I don't -- I don't think you can make certainly the -- any comparisons between the two.
PEREZ: -- again, just because of the fact that we know that Mike Pence was extremely cooperative. That's not at all what the Justice Department is faced with Donald Trump. They -- you know, he resisted the efforts to retrieve these government records from his home, from his possession at Mar-a-Lago. The FBI had to go get it.
There's all of these allegations that the Justice Department has laid out in court documents, explaining that they believe the former President and his team, people, perhaps around him, were being obstructive to this investigation. So, I think the decision-making in that case is going to be so different. It's under a special counsel for one. And secondly, as you've seen some of the evidence that Kaitlan Collins, Katelyn Polantz, and Paula had been talking about in recent days. there's a lot of evidence there that indicates the former president was certainly holding on to things that he shouldn't have, and was trying to prevent the Justice Department from doing its investigation.
SANCHEZ: Safe to say this is going to be a Republican primary in 2020, for the likes of which we've never seen before. Evan Perez, thanks so much for guiding us through that. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Well, tonight, President Biden will address the nation. His first time speaking to the country since the final passage of the bill that raises the debt ceiling, and avoids catastrophic default. It will also follow a red-hot jobs report. The U.S. economy adding 339,000 jobs last month, nearly doubling expectations.
CNN's Phil Mattingly, he is at the White House. Phil, the president calling today a good day for the U.S. economy. What's the message tonight?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. White House officials who have been pretty close to the vest in terms of what the president is going to say, a very rare occasion. Now, the president giving Oval Office remarks at 7:00 p.m. later tonight. But I think if you look at the context of this moment, particularly in those two very critical elements you were just walking through, you'll get a sense of a moment where White House officials feel like they can, to some degree, turn the page on the major issue hanging over them over the course of the last several months.
Those debt ceiling negotiations, the longtime stalemate, the very real possibility for the first default in U.S. history, and economic catastrophe, while also tying it to the fact that the U.S. economy despite many different projections, despite the expectation that a recession was imminent -- imminent recession over the course of the last several months that has never actually come to pass, and instead remains incredibly robust. And Stead continues to beat economist estimates, at least when it comes to the jobs market. The president making very clear or planning to make very clear tonight, that this is a moment where the country, and frankly Washington can start to move forward.
Now, this doesn't mean that there's going to be some dramatic shift in the partisan tensions that have long been pervasive in this town. But I think when you talk to White House officials and they acknowledge just what a heavy lift the last several weeks have been, and then now coming through that moment, what opportunities they feel like they have both on the policy side of things but also on the political side of things. Remember. The president is already an announced candidate for re-election. This would be a pretty good moment to focus on that as well, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Another example of him pursuing bipartisanship with something of a positive outcome. Phil Mattingly at the White House, Thanks very much. Boris. SANCHEZ: The campaign trail is heating up as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis heads to another key state. We're going to show you what he told voters in South Carolina.
Also, the ground in Arizona is so dry that state authorities are taking drastic measures to protect their water supply. We're going to detail what those are. Plus, clinical trials finding a brand new breast cancer drug is decreasing the risk of recurrence for certain patients. Some promising results to share with you when CNN NEWS CENTRAL returns.
SANCHEZ: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is back on the campaign trail today continuing his early primary state swing, this time in South Carolina. DeSantis is meeting voters there as he vies for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. CNN's Steve Contorno was on the ground in the Palmetto State, following all of DeSantis's moves. Steve, what is Florida's governor saying today?
STEVE CONTORNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, Governor DeSantis just got off the stage behind me for a second event in South Carolina. And he spent a lot of time talking to voters here about his record in Florida. That of course includes a long list of conservative victories, including a six-week abortion ban, constitutional carry of firearms.
And this is all part of DeSantis's war on woke that he has talked so much about and has made him so popular among Republicans, and he hammered that home -- message home today when speaking to these voters here. Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I believe that the woke ideology represents a war on truth itself. And so, as president, we will wage a war on the woke. We will fight the woke in the schools.
We will fight the woke in the corporations. We will fight the woke in the halls of Congress. We will never ever surrender to the woke mob. We are going to leave woke ideology in the dustbin of history where it belongs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONTORNO: Now, the governor -- President Trump has actually spent much of the last couple of days making fun of Governor DeSantis, including for his use of the word woke over and over again. And as a dynamic, we are starting to see -- now that DeSantis is in this race, we are seeing Trump and DeSantis go after each other on a whole number of issues. Interestingly left out of that conversation though, is two of South Carolina's politicians Nikki Haley, the former governor, and Tim Scott, the key state senator. In two events here, DeSantis did not mention either of those two individuals so far, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Yes. Notably, two of the biggest figures to come out of South Carolina politics and DeSantis did not mention them. So, Steve, we also learned that the judge overseeing the legal case that Disney brought against Governor DeSantis, that judge is recusing himself. The judge accusing the governor's legal team of rank judge shopping. What's going on in that case?
CONTORNO: Yes. This is the latest development in this ongoing back- and-forth between DeSantis and Disney. And what this judge is basically responding to an accusation from DeSantis's legal team that he should recuse himself because of things he has said about DeSantis in the past and previous rulings, the judge said I'm not going to rule that on its merits.
But he is stepping away from the case because he did find that a relative of his, a third-degree connection he called it, had made -- has owned some Disney stock. And so, therefore, he is going to step out of the case.
And his involvement in the case was seen as a victory for Disney early on because this is a judge who was appointed by President Obama, who had repeatedly ruled against the DeSantis administration on a number of his agenda priorities. Now, this case will go into the hands of a new judge who actually was appointed by President Trump. And so, therefore, we'll see how he handles the case going forward. But DeSantis at this event today actually told the crowd here in South Carolina that he will be victorious in that battle with Disney, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Steve Contorno, live from South Carolina. Thanks so much for the update, Steve. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Well, also in Florida new restrictive laws there means scaling back a plant Pride events. June is supposed to be a month of celebration for the LGBTQ Plus community. But now, some groups are actually canceling their events altogether. CNN's Victor Blackwell has more.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voiceover): Pride across Florida will be noticeably less colorful this year. Festival organizers are making significant changes or canceling altogether some LGBTQ Plus celebrations. They fear potential consequences from Governor Ron DeSantis's new law that many believe targets public drag performances, a mainstay of pride events.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome. Welcome to St. Cloud's first Pride event.
KRISTINA BOZANICH, COORDINATOR, PRIDE IN ST. CLOUD: It's very disheartening. BLACKWELL (voiceover): Kristina Bozanich, coordinator of Pride in St. Cloud canceled the Orlando area event that was planned to include drag performers. According to the new laws signed by DeSantis just weeks ago, local governments are banned from issuing public permits for events that include some adult live performances, venues risk steep fines and losing licensing if a child is present, knowingly admitting a child would be a first-degree misdemeanor.
BOZANICH: Once the bill was signed. I said we can restructure the event. We'll make sure it's only 18 and up for that portion. They went and talked with all the performers and came back to me and said we're really sorry, but we just don't feel safe.
BLACKWELL (voiceover): Organizers in Port St. Lucie canceled its annual Pride Parade. They reached an agreement with the city to host a slimmed-down festival. Drag performers were welcome but anyone under 21 was not.
STEPHANIE PEYMAN, STUDENT: I was in the closet for so many years and I still face hatred and oppression. And I came up with my own pride fest.
BLACKWELL (voiceover): Kissimmee Pride is on but drag, indoors only.
STEPHANIE BECHARA, COMMUNICATIONS & PUBLIC AFFAIRS MANAGER, CITY OF KISSIMMEE: For example, drag bingo will be taking place inside of our civic center. And it will be an event where we will be requiring IDs and we're also asking folks to go ahead and pre-register online to participate.
BLACKWELL (voiceover): John Panesar is Orlando restaurant Hamburger Mary's, host drag shows most nights. He's filed a federal lawsuit against the state. He claims he's losing business because of the new law. DeSantis's office has not responded to a CNN request for comment on the lawsuit.
JOHN PAONESSA, OWNER, HAMBURGER MARY'S: We have a street party with a stage with performers out front during Pride, we usually get three or 4000 people in the street watching. That's something we can't do.
BLACKWELL (voiceover): At the start of a month, that's in part a celebration of visibility. Some feel that the Sunshine State is shoving them back into darkness.
PAONESSA: Now, with the governor stepping in and the legislation that's going through, it's -- we're moving back in time. And it's unfortunate for us and everybody else in the state because what they're doing, it's heartbreaking.
BLACKWELL (voiceover): Victor Blackwell, CNN, Orlando.
SANCHEZ: Our thanks to Victor for that report. Still to come. A gruesome discovery in Mexico. Ahead, what police found inside dozens of bags in a ravine. Plus, it's only the second day of hurricane season and we have our first name storm. Details on that when we come back.