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Trump Aides Gather Ahead Of Potential Indictment; Biden, British PM Hold Joint News Conference. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired June 08, 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 HOST: At any moment, President Biden will hold a joint press conference with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak from the White House. You're looking at live pictures right now from two podiums where we are anticipating the two leaders. This follows the first meeting in the Oval Office between the two since Sunak took office summit of -- amid a bit of political turmoil in the U.K. We will, of course, bring this news conference live as it happens.
But first, right now Donald Trump and a small group of aides are gathering at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey. It comes as sources tell us the Justice Department has officially informed the former president that he is a target in the classified documents probe. This, the strongest signal yet that he could soon be indicted.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Yes, we're told that his team is bracing for the possibility that he could be indicted on multiple fronts. And that Trump himself now expects to be indicted. His team is now reaching out to key allies on Capitol Hill. They're circulating talking points as well, attacking Special Counsel Jack Smith.
We have CNN's Katelyn Polantz outside the federal courthouse in Miami where there has been a flurry of activity. CNN's Paul Reid and Zachary Cohen also joining us with their brand new reporting on this. And we have former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe with us now as well.
SANCHEZ: All right. Let's go to Miami now with Katelyn Polantz. And starting with the DOJ telling Trump that he is a target in this investigation. Katelyn, what more are you learning?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Boris, we are watching and waiting to see if there was some sort of combination of this special counsel investigation that's been going on for more than a year. We knew that there was this great amount of grand jury activity behind closed doors as investigators were pulling in all kinds of witnesses who were around Donald Trump, had conversations with him, were at Mar-a-Lago after he left the presidency, and particularly leading up to that moment where the FBI did the search of Mar-a-Lago and found more than a hundred classified records in rooms, including Donald Trump's private office.
And so, as we watch, we are watching the federal courthouse particularly because there's been grand jury activity two days in a row here. This is not the court where this originated. We had seen so much happening in the federal court in Washington, DC, where the grand jury also heard testimony about it.
But just yesterday, a witness came in, who was a spokesperson for Donald Trump, still someone in his close community of advisors, and that person is very likely to have testified about statements Donald Trump wanted to make after he wanted to say that he turned everything over to the National Archives just a year after he left the presidency, but had not at that point. And now today, we are seeing prosecutors. They're milling about, they're getting snacks, they're still inside the building. The grand jury, we believe is in today in that -- we are seeing the prosecutors around the grand jury area. But there is no additional information other than this target letter that we are confirming exists, and that was given to Donald Trump and his legal team. The sort of thing that happens at the very end of an investigation, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Katelyn, I'm glad that you mentioned snacks. Such an important part of this process. From testimony to a grand jury in Miami to testimony before another grand jury, I want to turn to Zack Cohen because you have some significant reporting. There's apparently a former White House official who testified before the grand jury that Donald Trump not only knew but also followed the proper procedure for declassification when he was president.
ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes. Boris, this former career official sat for a voluntary interview earlier this year but really laid out the facts for prosecutors not just in the Trump documents investigation, but also in the Biden documents investigation.
COHEN: And in the Trump probe, in his interview with prosecutors there, this former official made clear that Trump both knew the proper process for declassifying material while he was president. And you know, carried it out at times the correct way when it suited him.
But what's really interesting here is this is unique in the sense that this person has talked to prosecutors in both investigations. And really drew a colorful distinction between the line of questioning and the focus of those two investigations. So, while prosecutors were really aggressively focused on securing firsthand testimony and firsthand you know evidence about conversations with Trump, Biden, and prosecutors are more interested in logistics. They're interested in more of the mechanics of how documents were packed and moved to Delaware. So, some interesting insight and a rare insight into the comparison between the two investigations.
KEILAR: Paula, we should also note that an attorney for Trump told CNN last month also that Trump was aware of this process, for declassification while he was in office.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. There have been various at times conflicting explanations that the former president's lawyers have given for exactly what happened here, right? They've argued that there was a standing declassification order. They said that he could declassify things with his mind. They've also alternatively argued that he had no idea that any of these things were packed in boxes.
But just last month, one of his current attorneys, Jim Trusty, told CNN this. About his understanding of the process. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM TRUSTY, TRUMP ATTORNEY: He used that bureaucratic process in the middle of it as -- of his presidency to declassify the crossfire hurricane matters that are the subject of that 316-page report we saw this week. But at the end of his presidency, he relied on the constitutional authority as commander in chief, which is to take documents and take them to Mar-a-Lago while still president as he was at the time and to effectively declassify and personalize them.
He talked about declassifying them, but he didn't need to. And if you look at the Constitution, you look at the Presidential Records Act, there is absolutely no basis for saying that bureaucracy rules and the president doesn't have the authority entrusted in him by the voters to possess and to declassify and to hold on to document.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: So, the translation there is that Trusty is saying that former President Trump followed the process until the end of his administration when he followed a different process. But what's so interesting about Zach's reporting is it his expert is completely undercutting that confusing explanation. Saying, look, he was well aware of the process, he followed it, he should have continued to follow it. So, that's one of the reasons this is so significant. Clearly, prosecutors are not buying really anything that the defense team is selling in the court of public opinion.
SANCHEZ: Yes. It's not just a question of whether he had the documents or not, but the intent behind keeping them. And for that, we want to turn to former FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe.
Andy, I want to take a step back and talk about the historical significance of this. You have a former president receiving this letter indicating that he's a target, not just the subject, a target of this investigation. In your -- right, in your estimation, how likely is it that he's going to be indicted?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think it's very likely. I think most legal experts would say with the many signals we've received over the last few weeks, it's extraordinarily likely that he's going to be indicted, that you know, go back to the battles over piercing attorney-client privilege, which required the prosecutors to go in front of a federal judge and prove at least to make a prima facia case that the -- that former President Trump had used his attorney to commit a crime. Once you've made a showing of proof like that in federal court, in front of a judge who agrees with it, it's almost impossible to imagine walking back from that cliff and saying, we're not going to go forward with an indictment.
KEILAR: I know we all smirked when Katelyn said snacks. But I think it's also an important detail. Because --
COHEN: That's a great detail.
KEILAR: -- you don't -- you don't grab a snack if you can go get a sandwich in a half hour, right? So, they're going to be there -- they're going to be there from a moment. There's been a lot of activity with the Florida grand jury recently. What do you make of that?
MCCABE: Well, there's a lot of work to do. So, it's very hard to predict with any degree of confidence exactly when the indictment will happen if it happens at all. But some of the things you would look for are exactly what you're seeing in Miami.
There's clearly been testimony taken in different grand juries, the one here in DC, now we have witnesses appearing in Miami. Wherever they are going to be asked to vote, that grand jury has to be read or give it -- given a chance to read the testimony that was taken in the other grand jury.
After that happens, the prosecutors put on essentially an informal kind of closing argument where they summarize the case and then they read the indictment to the grand jurors before they ask them to go vote on it. So, there's a fair amount of logistical kind of mechanics that have to happen before the decision is made.
SANCHEZ: On the note about not only logistics but the fact that there are two grand juries now. If you're the Special Counsel, Jack Smith, and you have to weigh filing charges in one or the other, walk us through the pros and cons.
MCCABE: Yes. It's a very simple math, right? Prosecutors would love to have this case in the -- in the district that has the most likely favorable jury.
That is clearly here in DC in an -- in an issue of DC versus Southern Florida. However, they are required to bring the case where there is a venue. Venue means where some elements of the crime were committed.
There certainly is an argument to say that you could do that here in DC, but there's probably a stronger argument to say that venue should be in Southern Florida because it depends of course what the charge would be. But if the charge is retaining documents, that's where they were retained.
If the charge is obstructing justice, if that's where the acts of obstruction took place, that of course, would make venue in Southern Florida an easier argument. If they choose to go with the tougher argument, they can certainly expect to face appeals and legal challenges about that decision. And that could cause them some trouble.
KEILAR: Nothing about this, even as you see the special counsel trying to make clear that he is treating the former president as really any sort of person in any case, that would be like this. He isn't any person. He's the former president, and we saw some of the challenges, that that posed when it came to the Manhattan arraignment, right? What could -- what challenges could this bring, if you were to see that in this special counsel case?
REID: Well, if they were to bring charges in DC, that's going to be a little more seamless because here they're used to motorcades, right? They're used to the secret service. There's all kinds of protocols already in place.
Now, if this was to be brought down in Miami, in the initial appearances in Miami, there will need to be a plan to accommodate the former president to account for any potential security threats, protests, there is also potentially the option of a virtual appearance. Now, unlike what we saw in Manhattan where there were still photographers allowed in the courtroom and there actually cameras in the hall of the courtrooms that Trump got his "photo op," that's not going to happen in federal court.
So, it'll be interesting to see how they weigh this -- these you know, federal criminal charges, new cameras in the court, if it still is appealing to come in person, or if they'll potentially if he is charged try to do something virtually. Because it's extremely complicated. Like you said, we are once again as we are so often with former President Trump just in a completely unprecedented situation.
SANCHEZ: Yes. Paula, Zack, Andy, please grab some snacks. Again, very important to this process. And stick around because we're waiting for a potential indictment of former President Trump. Thank you so much.
KEILAR: And any moment now, President Biden is going to be taking questions alongside the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. We're going to bring this to you as soon as it begins, live.
Plus, smoke from Canadian wildfires, we're seeing it here in DC. It is moving South in a big way, moving West as well forcing vulnerable adults and kids inside. It's also disrupting travel.
As I said, in the DC metro area, it's a level six out of six of poor air quality. We can attest to that. So how long is this going to last? We'll have more on that ahead.
SANCHEZ: And an Intel source tells CNN that China struck a deal with Cuba to build a spy facility attempting to eavesdrop on communications in the Southeastern United States. Those stories and more, next on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.
[14:16:09] KEILAR: All right, you're looking at the East Room of the White House. It's actually a pretty nice day here in DC, temperature-wise, but the air is terrible and so you're seeing this take place in the East Room. We're going to hear from Rishi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister and President Biden here shortly. We just got a warning that they are about to make an appearance.
In the meantime, though -- oh, and here, they are about to -- they're coming. Is that right? OK, they're starting to show up there in the East Room for this press conference that is coming at a very critical time in the partnership between the U.S. and the UK as it pertains to Ukraine. Let's listen in as this gets underway in the East Room.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon. Please have -- please be seated. I like to start with the permission of my British friends to just say a few words about the wildfires in Canada and the quality of the air here on the East Coast. This blanketed the communities in East Coast and smoke this past few days.
I just put out a more detailed statement so for the press and for the people to see. But I spoke yesterday with Prime Minister Trudeau and I've decided -- dictated a National Interagency Fire Center response to Canada's request for additional firefighters and the fire suppression assets, such as air tankers.
We already have 600 American firefighters on the ground and have been there for a while in Canada, including hot shots and the smoke jumper crews. And it's very important that affects communities, listen to the guidance of their state and local officials from this point forward. To keep up to date on the air quality in real-time, go to the app that we provide. It's called airnow.gov. And check on one another.
And by the way, what you'll get is something that looks like this with a -- with a calibrated piece that says when the air is clean and when the air is dangerous and hazardous. And dictates what the -- to tell you the air quality in your neighborhood.
Now, it's a -- it's my honor -- my honor to welcome Prime Minister Sunak to the White House. Rishi, we've probably tired of meeting. We met in March in San Diego to discuss the aqueous and -- with the Prime Minister of Australia. In April, we were there for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in Belfast. We met and discussed again today the need to get the Stormont Institution Northern Ireland up and running.
Last month together with our G7 partners in Hiroshima, we draw progress in everything from our shared support for the brave people of Ukraine to the common principles of engaging with China. Today in Washington, we've had important and positive discussions to deepen our bilateral economic relationship and expand our cooperation to shape the challenges and future for this the remainder of this century. It's a testament to the depth and breadth and I would argue the intensity of our cooperation and coordination, which existed -- continues to exist between the United Kingdom and the United States.
There's no issue of the global point of importance, none, that we're -- our nations are not leading together. And we're not just sharing our common values to make things better. And our conversations today, we continue to build on all that we've achieved over these past months.
We discussed how we can continue to adapt and upgrade our partnership to ensure our countries remain at the cutting edge of -- in a rapidly changing world. Our economic partnership is an enormous strength and source of strength that anchors everything that we do together. We want to harness that power to make sure we're creating good jobs and supporting working-class families in both our countries. And that growth is shared broadly, and no one gets left behind.
So, today, we're releasing a new plan to equip our economic partnership for the 21st Century. It outlines how we can enhance our cooperation to accelerate the clean energy transition that must take place and is taking place. Lead the development of emerging technologies that are going to shape so much of our future. And protect technologies critical to our national security.
And a key piece of that is working together to strengthen our critical mineral supply chains and to make them more resilient so we're not dependent on any one country to meet our goals. When it came -- when it comes to technology that will shape the future like semiconductors, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, the U.K. and the U.S. are working together to make sure they are developed safely and responsibly, and jointly. We're going to do more on joint research and development to ensure the future we're building remains fundamentally aligned with our value set in both our countries. And we're doing more to prevent technologies that are invented and developed in our countries from being used for military or intelligence purposes by countries that do not share our values.
Today, we're also discussed our unwavering support for the people of Ukraine, and defending the -- who are defending themselves against the most brutal aggression we've seen a long time at the hands of Russia and Putin. The U.K. and United States together with more than 50 partners have committed historic levels of security assistance to Ukraine.
And I want to thank the prime minister for a strong, strong leadership, contributing significant amounts of security assistance, and training Ukrainian troops, so they can effectively use the equipment and ammunition we've collectively provided them. And I'm bringing the world together later this month to drive support from Ukraine's long-term economic recovery. You're doing a great deal.
So, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for making the journey to Washington. Earlier this week, we marked the 79th anniversary of D- Day, and timely reminder of the proud history of our nation's share, and the values -- the values that we have long stood together to defend.
That's the unshakable foundation of this special relationship. And it is a special relationship. There's no country closer to us than Great Britain. Today, as NATO allies, partners in innovation, as friends, and a shared vision of the future, and the two nations -- our two nations are ready to meet the challenges of our time and meet them together. And I'm confident the United Kingdom and the United States will continue to lead the world toward greater peace, prosperity, and security for all. So, thank you again, Mr. Prime Minister and the floor is yours.
RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, Mr. President. Before I begin my remarks, a word if I may on what happened in France this morning. All our thoughts are with those affected by this unfathomable attack, including a British child and with their families. I've been in touch with President Macron. We stand ready to offer any assistance that we can.
Mr. President, Joe, it is an honor to be here at the White House. And thank you for your very warm welcome. Not for decades has the relationship between our two nations been so important. The values we share, our belief in freedom, democracy, and the rule of law have never changed. They never will.
But what has changed are the challenges that we face. And standing here together as our predecessors have done for generations, I feel confident that through the strength of our relationship, we can shape the world Once again in our pursuit of liberty, prosperity, and the possibilities of a new age.
And that begins with our highest priority, national security. The last time I was here in the U.S., we signed AUKUS, the most significant Defense Partnership in generations because we recognize that the security of the Atlantic and Pacific regions are indivisible.
And just a fortnight ago in Hiroshima, President Biden and I stood with President Zelenskyy and our G7 allies in a powerful display of unity. The UK is proud of our contribution, including providing tanks, long-range weapons, and training Ukrainian soldiers.
But let no one doubt, U.S. leadership and resources are the decisive contribution allowing the forces of democracy and freedom to prevail. As I said in Congress and I say again now to President Biden and to the American people, thank you.
And just as we collaborate to protect our national security, so whilst we increasingly do the same to protect our economic security on which our prosperity depends. Countries like China and Russia are willing to manipulate and exploit our openness, steal our intellectual property, use technology for authoritarian ends, or withdraw crucial resources like energy. They will not succeed.
Today, we have agreed to the Atlantic Declaration, a new economic partnership for a new age of a kind that has never been agreed before. Yes, a partnership that protects our citizens. But more than that, a test case for the kind of reimagined alliances President Biden has spoken so eloquently about. That means new investment. This week alone, 14 billion pounds of new American investment has been committed into the U.K., creating thousands of jobs. It means stronger supply chains with a new action plan on clean energy. And it means reducing trade barriers and the technologies of the future with a new secure U.K.-U.S. data bridge helping tens of thousands of small businesses.
And agreement to work towards mutual recognition of more professional qualifications, and areas like engineering. And we're launching negotiations on a new critical minerals agreement. Once concluded, this will give UK companies stronger access to the U.S. market. And we're building on our extraordinary shared strengths in cutting-edge future technologies with joint research collaborations in areas like quantum, semiconductors, and AI.
Now our job as leaders is to ensure that this technological revolution makes us more secure and not less. Last week, the pioneers of artificial intelligence warned us about the scale of the challenge, as well as the opportunity. The U.S. and the U.K. are the world's foremost democratic AI powers. So, today, the president and I agreed to work together on AI safety, including multilaterally.
Now, the U.K. looks forward to hosting the first global summit on AI safety later this year so that we can seize the extraordinary possibilities of this new technological age, and do so with confidence. And we are well placed to do so.
I know some people have wondered what kind of partner Britain would be after we left the E.U. I'd say judge us by our actions. We're committed to our values as ever, as reliable an ally as ever, as attractive an investment destination as ever. But we're changing too. We're strengthening our relationships, not just with old friends like America or in Europe, but with new friends in the Indo-Pacific too. And we now have the freedom to regulate the new technologies that will shape our economic future like AI more quickly and flexibly. That is the future that we are creating in Britain, confident, proud, and free.
Now, let me close with a personal reflection. As Joe mentioned, he and I have seen quite a lot of each other in recent months. I gather our wives have even started to take spin classes together.
And we were talking earlier about our hometowns. Joe is very rightly proud of Scranton. And I was telling him a little bit about Southampton in England where I'm from. Now, not everyone knows this, but it was in a church in Southampton where in the days before he set sail for the shores that John Winthrop first spoke about his dream of building a city on a hill.
And that reminds us The relationship between our two nations is unlike any other. Our alliance is so strong because it is not abstract. It is rooted in our people.
And it's never been about our history alone, but about our ability to grasp the future. We share the same beliefs, pursue the same purpose, and act according to the same ideals. And that's why today, as we meet the challenges of our time, we can depend on each other with absolute conviction.
When the United States and the United Kingdom stand together, the world is a safer, better, and more prosperous place. And that's why ours is an indispensable alliance. Thank you.
BIDEN: Thank you, Prime Minister. All right. The first question goes to James of the Financial Times -- unless he left.