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Trump Indicted on Federal Charges; Trump Tape's Transcript, Which He Didn't Declassify as "Secret information," Obtained by CNN; McCarthy Promises to "Hold Brazen Weaponization of Power Accountable"; Speaker McCarthy Refers to the Indictment as "Grave Injustice"; Romney Opposes Republican Senator on Trump Indictment While Defending the DOJ; "Before the sun sets today", Pence Requests Garland Publicize the Indictment and Address the American People; Interview with Former RNC Communications Director and Republican Strategist Doug Heye; Trump Should End His Campaign, Says Asa Hutchinson; On Tuesday, a Miami Court is Scheduled to Arraign Trump; Supporters of Trump Congregate at Mar-a-Lago; Congress Who Support Trump Rush to Stand Up for Him; Federal Judge Appointed by Trump Will Hear the Former President's Criminal Case; Canadian Wildfire Smoke is Marginally Getting Better. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired June 09, 2023 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: You are looking at live pictures of Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews. President Biden has departed the White House. He is on his way to Joint Base Andrews where he will leave for North Carolina. Now, the reason we're watching this very closely is this will be the first chance to see if President Biden will comment on the indictment against Former President Trump. This is his first public appearance since word of that indictment became public last night.
Now, President Biden has assiduously avoided commenting on the investigation into Donald Trump. It might be unusual to hear him comment on it this morning, but rest assured the reporters who are there, and they are there, will try to get comment from President Biden as he arrives at Joint Base Andrews to depart from North Carolina. We'll go back there in just a moment.
Also, this morning, CNN broke the news of a transcript where Donald Trump is on tape, apparently showing people national security documents that he had described as secret and then indicating he had not declassified them as president. The stunning revelation came after a spate of Republicans jumped to Trump's defense the Trump team had asked them to. We are waiting for reaction to the new reporting.
CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. Has anyone commented on this stunning new reporting from Paula Reid, Donald Trump saying, "This is secret. Secret. Look at this"?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have not heard a whole lot, John. And one big reason why is the halls here are empty. Other than tourists and reporters, there's pretty much who are occupying right now. Members of Congress are gone, probably much to the relief of a lot of Republicans who have not yet weighed in on the news that Donald Trump has, in fact, been indicted on federal charges.
We have not heard from the Senate Republican leaders. Mitch McConnell, silent. John Thune, number two Republican, silent. There have been Trump supporters who have issued tweets in his defense, including Republicans Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, showing the divide within the upper ranks of Republican leadership over how to deal with Donald Trump.
McCarthy rushing to Donald Trump's defense last night, indicating they planned to use the power of the house to go after the Justice Department. Saying in a tweet that it is unconscionable for a president to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades. And he says, I, and every American who believes in the rule of law stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable.
Now, just to be clear, it was not President Biden who indicted Donald Trump. It was a federal grand jury led by a special counsel that led to this indictment of -- to Donald Trump. And also, you're seeing an effort to try to compare Joe Biden mishandling classified documents with what happened with Donald Trump.
But we know from Trump's own attorneys it's much broader than that. It involves issues of obstruction of justice, other charges as well beyond just the handling of documents. And we also have not seen any of the charges at all. And even as Republicans are vowing to try to go after the Justice Department, it's unclear exactly what they mean by that and whether they'll use the power of their subpoena power to try to go after the special counsel.
But there are some Republicans who are speaking out against Donald Trump, namely some of those Donald Trump critics, like Senator Mitt Romney who just issued a statement saying that, by all appearances, he says, the Justice Department has exercised due care. He said, it afforded Donald Trump the time and opportunity to avoid charges that would generally have been -- not been afforded to others. He adds, the allegations are serious, and if proven, would be consistent with his other actions offensive to hit the national interests.
So, it really just shows you the divide that continues within the Republican Party. We'll see how people -- members speak when they return to Congress next week. We will be asking questions about what they plan to do next and how they plan to respond. John.
BERMAN: Yes, and we'll have some specifics also to ask them about in terms of what might be in the indictment then might change and how they choose to defend it. Manu Raju, great to have you. Thanks so much for being with us.
Sara. SARA SIDNER, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: All right. Former Vice President Mike Pence is calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to unseal that federal indictment against Donald Trump, and address the American people before, "The sun sets today." Pence who was cleared of any charges after classified documents were found in his Indiana home says, the American people should be able to judge the indictment for themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE (R), U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's remember, first and foremost, is -- every American is innocent until proven guilty. That is a bedrock principle of American justice here. You know that. And the other principle is that no one is above the law. The handling of classified materials is a very serious matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean joins us now. Jessica, what are other candidates saying about this indictment, sort of, the first person, I think, we've heard from so far?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sara, this has been the looming X-factor in this race, it will continue to be the looming X-factor. What happens to Former President Trump both legally, and then what kind of political trouble does that spell for him, or does it become a political boost? And that's what a lot of these candidates are waiting to see.
And so, we are seeing in their response to what's happened in the last 24 hours. We're starting to kind of see the contours of how they want to respond to this. What kind of needle they're going to thread. And if you just listened to Manu talking about what the House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, said, you noticed that language, the weaponization of the Department of Justice, of the federal government against the former president, against Republicans.
That is a talking point that we hear over and over again from Republican leadership on the Hill, but what we are now starting to hear from these Republican presidential candidates as well. So, you turn to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, he tweeted out a statement about this as it was unfolding, and he talked about ending the weaponization of the federal government should he be elected, that's what he believes this is, that the former president is being targeted.
Senator Tim Scott, from South Carolina, saying something similar that he believes that the DOJ has been weaponized. That he would look to clear all of that out should he be elected. And then you hear the former vice president there in that clip you just played where he is talking about both that no one is above the law, but also, that, you know, that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But it was interesting in his statement, he said that the American people, as you mentioned, should judge for themselves. And it went on to say, if this is the weaponization of the federal government or if this is something else. Sara.
SIDNER: So, I'm sure it is safe to assume, Jessica, that there is no one, you know, in a position of power or that has a big platform asking for Trump to remove himself from the race?
DEAN: Well, so far, we have heard from one candidate, that is former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson who did say that he believes that the former president should step aside. He said that this reaffirms the need for Donald Trump to respect the office and end his campaign. And that's really the most explicit, and really the only explicit call for him to end his campaign that we've heard. We did hear from Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Sara, again saying, no one is above the law. He wants to see what's in the indictment. But that's kind of how we're starting to see this all play out in this very large field.
SIDNER: Really helpful. Thank you so much, Jessica Dean.
We are also joined by Republican Strategist Doug Heye. Thank you for joining us, Doug, on this --
DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you.
SIDNER: -- really eventful day. What does this indictment do to the 2024 presidential race, we are in the middle of the campaign, right now, for the primary?
HEYE: You know, I don't think we know yet, but this weekend is certainly going to be interesting as we see Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Ron DeSantis are all going to be in Greensboro, North Carolina, addressing the Republican convention there, where Donald Trump two years ago, very early endorsed Ted Budd, and had a huge impact on that race.
And what we're so often in politics but not with Republicans over the past few years is that, when there's an opportunity, politically you take it. So, candidates are being cautious at this point, that might be prudent. But as we see more about this indictment, as we read the transcripts that Paula Reid unveiled this morning, it's clear that there is a mounting -- there's mounting evidence against Donald Trump. And I would tell these Republican candidates, take this opportunity and take it for two reasons.
One, Donald Trump is vulnerable now. And you can either go after him for misdeed whether he's done that or not. And yes, there is the presumption of innocence, but you have a political opportunity here. And also, you can highlight that Donald Trump has too much drama. He's distracted and he can't beat Joe Biden. If your message is one of winning, this gives you an opportunity to do so.
Also, for congressional or Senate Republicans, talking about weaponization of the DOJ starts to sound a little bit like defunding the FBI. It cuts at the anti-crime message that Republican have skillfully put on Democrats in the last cycle.
SIDNER: But I do want to ask you about this because you heard from Senator Mitt Romney, we've also heard Asa Hutchinson calling for Donald Trump to just step down from the race. But you haven't heard much more is that partly because the base still supports Donald Trump and everyone is being careful because they don't want to upset the base who will be voting on them in the primary.
HEYE: That's exactly right. And there's a challenge here for Republicans. Look, they rally behind Donald Trump on the first indictment in New York because it was seen by, not just Republicans, even a lot of Democrats thought it was a largely political indictment that if it weren't Donald Trump, this wouldn't happen. This is different. What may happen in Georgia is different.
They can take this opportunity, if they choose to. And again, you don't have to attack Donald Trump for wrongdoing. You can say, he is distracted, there's too much drama, and we need to win. And they can be cautious in this -- in these initial hours. But as we see more evidence. As we hopefully hear from DOJ, and Mike Pence is right, we need to hear from the attorney general on this. This provides them the opportunity. Greensboro, this weekend, is the perfect opportunity for a Mike Pence or Ron DeSantis to make that case and to make that break.
SIDNER: Doug Heye, thank you so much for your analysis. Appreciate it.
HEYE: Thank you.
SIDNER: Kate, obviously, first you have to win the primary, but the general election is something totally different.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: Yes, this is just an unprecedented moment. And as Doug says very well, it's impossible to know exactly how it's going to impact the primary but we will soon start finding out.
Coming up for us, Former President Donald Trump hunkering down with his legal team right now in his golf club in New Jersey. Making clear that this morning -- making clear already this morning that he is preparing to fight these federal charges. Next week, he'll have to head back to Florida for that arraignment, and he's now preparing -- because of that, there are now security preps underway there for his arrival and that arraignment. We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: Today, Former President Trump is meeting with his team in Bedminster, New Jersey, and soon he will be heading back to Florida, because he is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday on federal criminal charges now. Even before that, we have already started seeing some of his supporters gathering near his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach.
CNN's Randi Kaye is standing by. She is there. She's joining us now. Randi, what are you seeing there? RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we are seeing some police presence here at Mar-a-Lago, which is just behind me. Also, we are seeing a fair amount of media. What we're not seeing yet today are protesters. There were a couple of dozen protesters here yesterday evening as soon as news of the indictment broke.
We had a chance to speak with some of them, and they were telling me that they believe this is a witch hunt, that's a common refrain that we hear from the former president. Also, that's it's politically motivated. Political garbage is what one of them said to me. And then another suggested that these documents, these classified documents that were found here at Mar-a-Lago, were actually planted there.
So, that is what we are hearing from some of his supporters. And of course, we know that this is ground zero for this case. 15 boxes of documents were removed. Also, more than 300 documents marked as classified were removed from here. But as we spoke with the supporters about that, they did not budge on their full support for the former president. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, they don't want him to run for president, they have to go after him in some fashion. So, that's what they're doing. It's no surprise to anybody. We already knew that was going to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is only firing him up more. The people who don't know President Trump, the more they go after him, the harder he fights. And he's not fighting for himself. He's fighting for the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: And Kate, we also heard a lot of horn honking, also as well in this area. Many of them yelling out their window, lock him up. So, certainly a mixed bag of reaction to this indictment, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yes, I'd say so. And understandably so right now, there is a big conversation around security. We've -- there's security around the federal courthouse in Miami, but also around Mar-a-Lago. What are you learning about security preparations that could now be underway for his return to Mar-a-Lago after all of this?
KAYE: Yes, absolutely. I mean, obviously, he lives here, so they're used to this. But there is certainly a heightened sense of awareness here. I spoke with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department and Palm Beach Police as well, and also some law enforcement sources, and they said that they will be looking at putting all their assets into play. Their helicopters, their boats here on the intercoastal, just in front of Mar-a-Lago. And they'll also be checking social media and making sure that there isn't any actionable intelligence that they need to know about. So, certainly, they are hyperaware of the president's return. Kate -- former president.
BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Randi. Thank you so much. John.
BERMAN: So, Kate. a major new legal development in the case against Donald Trump. CNN has just confirmed that the judge who will oversee the case, at least initially, is Federal District Judge Aileen Cannon. She is a Donald Trump appointee, who you'll remember, made every favorable ruling for Donald Trump early on in this investigation. She called for the appointment of a special master to go over the documents. This is something that the Trump team will be pleased about. We'll tell you what it all means. "CNN News Central" continues.
SIDNER: More breaking news for you. Federal District Aileen Cannon, a Donald Trump appointee has been initially assigned to oversee the criminal case against the former president in federal court, that is according to multiple sources. Cannon, of course, oversaw court proceedings related to the FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida last year. She took a number of extraordinary steps in her handling of the dispute over a so-called special master who reviewed the documents seized at Mar-a-Lago. Raising eyebrows and criticism, even among legal experts on the right. We'll have much more on this coming up.
BERMAN: So, Sara, better air conditions in New York City this morning after several days of that dangerous smoky haze. Racing at Belmont Park will resume today. The Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown scheduled for tomorrow. In Philadelphia, the air quality index is higher than 400, which leaves the city in the hazardous category. Students in that city will remain at home today. All public schools have scheduled virtual classes.
CNN's Derek Van Dam is tracking all of this for us. Derek, give us a sense of what things are going to be like the next few days.
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, what a difference a day makes, right, John? I mean, it's just incredible to see what was yesterday in Washington, D.C., you can see in the graphics behind me, and what it looks like today. I mean, the smoke has generally improved, the hazy conditions have vanished for the most part. But we still have a large part of the eastern half of the country under these air quality alerts.
And what you're looking at right now is the over 50 million Americans that have these alerts. But I'm going to highlight an area, you can see from Indiana to Ohio, Pennsylvania and parts of Maryland, that is for the smoke. Now, you look where I'm actually centered over, Atlanta, this is an air quality alert for ozone. The difference being that ozone is the pollutants that we receive close to the surface from, let's say, driving vehicles or the industry in this area. So, there's a different reason we have an air quality alert in Atlanta.
But one thing's for sure, improvement all around. We still have some thick haze out there in some certain locations. But the forecast going forward, John, calls for this clearing trend to continue through the weekend.
BERMAN: Good riddance. Derek Van Dam, thank you very much.
SIDNER: All right. A former president is facing a federal indictment, it's never happened before in our history. There are so many questions. First, what is the actual indictment? And how will Trump's own voice caught on tape be used by prosecutors? More on that key piece of evidence ahead.