Return to Transcripts main page
CNN News Central
Security Preps Underway For Trump Court Appearance; Special Counsel Unseals Federal Indictment Of Trump And An Aide In Classified Documents Probe; Trump Faces 31 Counts Of Willful Retention Of National Defense Information; Indictment: Trump Stored Info Including U.S. Defense, Weapons & Nuke Programs, Foreign Counties' Defense. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired June 09, 2023 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: We will have details on that next.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Prepare for a major security operation for Trump's court appearance next week. Federal, state and local authorities are meeting up now to strategize how to best protect, not just the former president, but also the courthouse itself, the judges and the downtown Miami area.
KEILAR: Now law enforcement sources telling CNN that a threat assessment of the federal courthouse has already been completed. They found no credible threats we're told.
Joining us now is John Miller, CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst.
This is a major scramble for law enforcement following yesterday's indictment. Tell us about this process. Who was involved, what are they doing?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT & INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So this is going to be similar to what we saw in New York.
But the key difference is, what we saw in New York City when Donald Trump, former president, was indicted and in this unprecedented charge, you know, several weeks ago, was a police department that had 36,000 officers, hundreds to throw at it, thousands to have on stand by and a good deal of time to plan.
The turnaround time here is much shorter. This is the Miami City P.D. That's 1,100 officers. It's Metro Dade, which is the county police. That's 2,400 officers.
So they're going to have to work with the Secret Service who will be responsible for the security of Donald Trump as a former president, which is always unusual when the person you're securing is also the suspect in a criminal matter.
The city police and the county will handle the traffic, crowds and getting him into that courthouse.
Once inside, the security is the bastion of the United States Marshall, which secures that courthouse.
So you've got agencies that are going to have to be working hand in glove to make sure he gets in and gets out without incident. But also that they have sufficient personnel for things like demonstrators, counterdemonstrators and of course the unforeseen.
KEILAR: You make quite a point, John Miller, how unusual it is that it's not just protecting a president but the president in this case is the person indicted for a crime.
I want to ask you, big picture here. Is the role of this information and the preparations primarily a safety issue for the former president or is it really a crowd management issue, given the interest in New York, for instance, there was the issue of protests and protesters, et cetera?
Do they consider this a genuine safety threat or is it really about managing what is a remarkable event?
MILLER: Well, it's both. For the Secret Service, it's for the safety of the president because he's going to be at a time and a place that has been publicly announced in advance.
And former President Trump has his detractors as well as his fans so they factor that threat into just the fact that where they're going to be is predictable. They're going to want to secure that.
From the Miami P.D. sense, though, and Metro Dade, it's going to be about the demonstrators, it's going to be about protests, it's going to be about anything like that.
KEILAR: All right. John Miller, thank you so much for that.
We do have some breaking news that we need to share with you.
Evan Perez, you are here with us.
This indictment has now been unsealed. What can you tell us?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The indictment has been unsealed and now we're waiting to see the document.
We are told that the document has now been unsealed. A judge has to sign off on the Justice Department unsealing this. And so now we're going to finally get to see what is in this document.
We understand that it has a lot of the details. There are photographs, there are things that will show what federal prosecutors, what the FBI has been able to gather during this 18 months of this investigation that has been ongoing. And so, again, we're waiting to see. We're refreshing as much as we can on our computers. And at the courthouse here trying to figure out -- trying to get this document in our hands so we can get to see what exactly these charges are.
SCIUTTO: Paula Reid, before we see those documents, tell us about the decision to unseal this because this is something that, for instance, the former vice president was saying yesterday urging the Justice Department to unseal, in effect, to show their case here.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
SCIUTTO: So people understand why they took this step.
REID: Absolutely. He's not the only one, as we've heard Evan say, me as well, it was surprising that they tipped off the Trump legal team, gave them the courtesy of informing them that this had happened.
And then allowed almost 16 hours before revealing to the American people exactly what is in these charges.
They absolutely could have lined this up so they had already gone, requested the unsealing, notified the team and unsealed it for the American people.
They've given the Trump team a 16-hour head start to try to set the narrative.
Right now, over the past almost day now, you've been relying on reporters to try to figure out exactly what is going on, were these Truth Social posts accurate.
Now it's unclear if this has always been their plan or if they are bowing to pressure from Evan and others to unseal this.
But really the American people deserve to know exactly what the facts are, as did the former president. He is innocent until proven guilty. And people deserve to know, what are the facts and what are the real charges?
KEILAR: If you are talking about photographs and things that are going to back up why they have decided to proceed this way, that is going to go a long way to explaining to some people, although no doubt there are going to be some people, supporters of the former president who are going to dismiss this anyway.
But that is going to carry a lot of weight.
LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It will if it's included in the indictment.
KEILAR: If it is.
COATES: There is no requirement that they lay out their full case. That's for a trial. And they have an obvious burden of proof, but they need not do it all right now at this particular juncture.
It would behoove them to do so and be as authorize joe as they can with an eye toward the extraordinary circumstances but they need not play to a court of public opinion. They have to play to a particular jury.
The reason why you seal documents of any kind of nature is because we don't, as a society, believe it's appropriate to tar and feather someone in the public square.
Because there is a presumption of innocence, it benefits the defendant -- although this is an extraordinary defendant, it benefits the defendant not to have it out in the public until there is a presentment and arraignment.
He's making the extraordinary step to say he wants it public, part of the track record, is likely what would also prompt them to be even considerate of that very notion.
Otherwise, most defendants would want the opportunity to have the charges either be private until they had the arraignment possibility and, up until now, a grand jury is required to be that way.
SCIUTTO: Quite a balance. They have to strike here, right, because to your point you have -- there is a public duty here. That's the argument that pence and others were making.
If you are going to be charging federal charges, including the Espionage Act, against a former president who also happens to be running for president today --
SCIUTTO: -- you can argue there is an obligation to lift the veil a bit so you understand this is why we came to this decision.
To your point, you don't want to reveal too much, one, to -- I don't know if embarrass is the right word -- but to put out in the public sphere before conviction the evidence that might hurt the evidence defendant.
But on the flipside, help his defense lawyers begin making their case.
COATES: Well --
SCIUTTO: That's quite a difficult balance to strike.
COATES: I mean, who can thread that needle?
COATES: It's a quite impossible task.
But at the same token, remember, of course, this is a pattern. The reason we knew about the execution of a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was because it was revealed by the very person whose home was the subject of that executed search warrant.
But in this instance, the timeline that it needs to follow is always with an eye towards the impartiality of a prospective jury.
The political talking points that are obviously going to be there -- you already see them, they're already laid out quite well by Jessica Dean and others about the idea of the weaponization statements that have been made.
Remember, this is a special counsel, who will only answer to Merrick Garland in the sense of Garland having through regulations the ability to essentially pooh-pooh or agree with.
And if he declines to follow the logic or follow the recommendations, then Congress can get involved.
So the politics of this under the regulations only would really be evident inside of a court of law or the court of DOJ if that happens.
PEREZ: One of the things -- I think one of the things that the Justice Department, you know, certainly struggles with often is the idea of speaking indictments.
The idea of when is it appropriate to say a lot in the narrative of your court documents.
And the idea is -- you know, I think Merrick Garland says all the time -- he doesn't want to litigate these things in the media. He wants to only speak through court cases before the judges.
So the challenge, however, is that this case is not like anything else.
PEREZ: It's never been done before. This has never happened before. So the Justice Department really has to sort of bend to fit the times, the situation that we're in.
KEILAR: This case is unlike anything. It is.
And for those who are just tuning in, the federal indictment of Donald Trump and also an aide, an aide who was by him in the White House and continues to be by him, have just been unsealed.
We are awaiting those. As soon as they come into our hands, we are going to bring them to you.
I do want to bring in our colleagues, Dana Bash and John King. They are also following this.
What is really truly an extraordinary moment as we are awaiting these documents.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Brianna, thank you.
Yes, what has been, so far, since last night, a pretty much one-sided conversation. Donald Trump disclosing he's been indicted. Donald Trump saying he is due in court at 3:00 on Tuesday.
We are moments away now from seeing the details and the bar, because Donald Trump has dominated the political conversation for the first hour, I think, it even higher now for the conversation the new Special Counsel Jack Smith to make his case.
Dana Bash is at the table, also Abby Phillip and Sara Murray.
This is a legal case against Donald Trump. But it also has enormous, hard-to-comprehend political implications because he is not only a former president, he is the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination.
We are about to get the beef, if you will, the details.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it has huge political ramifications.
And, frankly, it's a political win for Donald Trump that he has been able to control the narrative since we learned of this indictment since he was the one who shared the news of it on his social media platform last night.
Because all we've known is the sort of top line that there are these seven criminal charges. Again, that information shared by his now former attorney, Jim Trusty.
But we don't have the beef. We don't have the underlying allegations and any of the details of his conduct in the indictment.
We, of course, have some details from our on team's stellar reporting.
But this is going to be a big moment to learn the underlying facts, both when it comes to Donald Trump, but one of his aides, Walt Nauta, has been indicted.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Yes. Just the idea of hearing from Jack Smith, the man who has been toiling away with his team, doing the investigation, now obviously has an indictment that we are going to see momentarily.
The fact that he decided not just to put the indictment out and let the indictment people for itself, but to actually speak before cameras and to let the world know with his own voice exactly what he's doing and why he's doing it is very, very telling.
Particularly given the conversation that we had all night last night and even up to this morning, which is the question of Donald Trump, as he is want to do, filling the vacuum with his point of view and not having the other side.
Now we're going to not only have the other side in the paper, which is the legal document and is so important, but to see and hear the man who led the investigation.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It looks like we just got the text. It has just landed. So obviously, we have to go through it and see what it says. But this is going to be very significant.
And I think this puts me at, perhaps, a little bit at odds with some of my colleagues. I'm not as concerned about the public relations head start that Donald Trump had.
I don't think that, in reality, that will matter very much because this is going to be a court case, a very serious federal court case that's going to get adjudicated.
On top of that, Trump's narrative about this case has been pretty consistent from the beginning. Indictment or no indictment, he has said that he is being, you know -- this is a witch-hunt, he's being targeted. He would have said that no matter what sequence of events this took.
The Republican Party is going to have to deal with the facts of this case. No matter how Trump spins it, the documents will speak for themselves.
The American people will decide not just about this case, but about the overwhelming evidence around Donald Trump and his activities in this and all the other cases that he faces.
I just believe that it's all going to be -- it's all going to shake out as people evaluate the fulsomeness of it, not just the spin, which I think, frankly, people are used to at this point.
At a certain point, Trump can no longer just say, I'm being targeted and that be the end of the story. The facts are the facts.
KING: It's striking. I'm having some flashbacks to when the Ken Starr report released when I was covering the White House. You have a political conversation first and then you get the document with the allegations.
KING: Very different. Now we have it.
That's the point I was going to make.
Yes, Abby, you're absolutely right. Donald Trump may have won the last 12 hours, or whatever it is. He might have been able to raise a lot of money.
The question is, where does this end? Where does the legal case end? You have a document in front of you, United States of America versus
Donald J. Trump. That's the headline of the document. It's never happened before in our history, a former president of the United States under federal indictment. And now you have the paper.
Waltine Nauta, his body person, who is in there, and then you go on through the counts.
BASH: I just want to start reading it, if I may. I know people are actually reading it with a fine-tooth comb, but let's just start with the basics.
That, at 12:00 p.m. on January 20th, 2021, Trump ceased to be president. He departed the White House.
"Trump caused scores of boxes, many of which contained classified documents, to be transported to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach where he maintained his residence. Trump was not authorized to possess or retain those classified documents."
Let's go to Evan Perez.
SCIUTTO: Thanks very much, Dana.
We have Evan Perez and Paula Reid here.
And by the way, here is that document, as printed out, as John said, the United States of America versus Donald Trump and Waltine Nauta, who is his valet.
Paula, first to you, as you've been going through. What stands out?
REID: The first thing that stands out is let's recall our town hall where our colleague, Kaitlan Collins, asked former President Trump if he had showed anyone classified information. His response was, "not really."
This indictment suggests that, quote, "on two occasions in 2021, the former president showed classified documents to others."
Now, this indictment specifically lists two instances. The first is in July 2021 at his Bedminster Golf Club. This is the audio recording. We broke this news last week. Today, we exclusively brought people the exact transcript, which is reflected here.
They've described how he tried to show a document to members of his staff, people who were there writing a book, none of whom, quote, "possessed a security clearance."
He described his plan of attack this week, confirming our reporting.
The second incident is in August or September of 2021, they say, also at Bedminster. The former president showed a representative of his Political Action Committee, a PAC, who also did not have a security clearance, a classified map related to a military operation.
And told that person he should not be showing it to them and that their representative should not get too close.
Just in the first couple pages, we have two instances of the former president months after he left the White House sharing classified documents.
SCIUTTO: The other thing that stands out to me, as I look at what I believe is the first addendum, counts 1 to 31. There are 31 courts listed --
SCIUTTO: -- one by one. And as often happens, if you look at the Manhattan case, counts under the same category, right?
SCIUTTO: So tell us what stands out to you.
PEREZ: They're specific crimes. I think one of the big items here is the fact that the former president was -- was obstructing this investigation. And what this indictment does is it goes through some of the instances, what they say they accuse of former president of doing.
They say he falsely had his -- he told his lawyer to falsely tell the FBI and the grand jury that he did not have these documents that were called for by -- he was demanded to produce.
SCIUTTO: He instructed his attorney to lie.
PEREZ: Right. And it doesn't say which one. But we know Evan Corcoran is one of his attorneys who did testify and was forced to testify. And whose attorney-client work was produced to prosecutors as a result of a court order.
SCIUTTO: Does this presume that Corcoran told federal procedures that he was told to lie?
PEREZ: Again, we don't -- from what we're reading right now -- and we're still going through it -- it doesn't lay this out. But it lists the various obstruction items that the former president is being accused of.
It also says that the former president directed the defendant, Walt Nauta, to move boxes of documents, to conceal them from his attorney.
Again, we know that Evan Corcoran is the person who was going to do a search to try to satisfy this subpoena that he was under, that the former president was under, to produce these documents. This happened last summer. Again, according to the federal prosecution here, is that Walt Nauta
was being told to move documents, these boxes of documents, to conceal them from Evan Corcoran ahead of time before he conducted this search.
KEILAR: Yes, and also, we are now able to report that here, at 3:00 p.m., so here in just about an hour or so, the special counsel is going to be making a statement.
So this is very unusual. You do not often see this, right? And so what should we be looking for here?
What do you think, Evan, that this is going to be like?
PEREZ: I think the importance of Jack Smith -- I know the Justice Department and the way that the system operates right now, they're trying to restore normalcy to the department after the last few tumultuous years.
And there's this great reluctance for them to speak anything or say anything outside of these court documents.
But the importance of Jack Smith coming out today is that you need to have someone who can explain to the American public, this is what we've done, this is what this investigation has done.
According to this document, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a criminal investigation of the former president on March 30th of 2022. So this investigation has been going on since March 30th of last year.
And you know, it's important for Jack Smith, who has run this investigation since he became special counsel, for someone to stand before the cameras and the American public and explain what it is that this investigation has done, why it's important to do these things, why it's important to bring these charges.
SCIUTTO: I think we should note, it's actually not just 31 counts.
REID: It's one to 31 for willful retention of national defense information. But it goes on to list additional counts, conspiracy to obstruct justice, 32, count 33, withholding a document or record, count 34, corruptly concealing a document or record.
By the way, each of those listing Donald Trump either by himself or along with Nauta.
Court 35, concealing a document in a federal investigation, court 36, scheme to conceal, court 37, false statements and representations, count 38 -- it's a long list.
SCIUTTO: Each document is
PEREZ: Each document is a count.
COATES: And we know which document we're talking about. All this time, we haven't known all the documents --
PEREZ: So thirty-eight counts in all. So 38 is the count.
COATES: They listed 31 documents, as well.
REID: I just had a jaw-dropper here. And I've been covering this with Evan for a year now on.
On page 10, they describe how Walt Nauta helped him pack his boxes. The boxes went from the White House -- they contained classified information -- to the Mar-a-Lago club.
But they say, from January through March 15th, 2021, some of those boxes were stored in the Mar-a-Lago club's white and gold ballroom. They have a picture of it.
So boxes with classified documents in a ballroom where they, quote, "had events and gatherings taking place." They were, for a time, stacked on the ballroom stage, as depicted in this photograph.
And they obscured the person's identity. They appear to have taken a picture with these boxes.
I mean, that is a stunning detail that our classified secrets were in a ballroom in southern Florida.
COATES: And here's why I think about the context, that we talk about the Espionage Act and why it is so important.
Normally, when we think about espionage, we think about the traditional spy apparatus. But the Espionage Act is to guard against the disclosure or the careless detention of documents by those not authorized to have them, who do not have the lawful custodial responsibility of those.
It includes people who otherwise would have had the authority to have the documents and had placed them in a position, as Paula is alluding to, where it could be viewed or disclosed.
And they have listed for the first time now the 31 documents of different levels of top security clearance, top security clearance at different points to suggest that the issue of whether or not this will fall under the category of defense-related information, this has now been clearly identified.
SCIUTTO: Let's just, to note that I've covered the intelligence agencies. I had a security clearance myself for a couple of years. I'm going to read some descriptions of the documents involved here.
Number four, top-secret special handling, including military activities and planning of foreign countries.
Number five, document dated June, 2020, concerning nuclear capabilities of a foreign country.
Number nine, undated document concerning military attacks by a foreign country.
Some of them not just the top-secret label but the "no foreign" label. That stands for no foreign, meaning these documents were not to be shared with anybody outside the U.S. intelligence community due to their sensitivity.
In other words, these are not low-level classification markings. And by the way, not low-level topics for classified intelligence markings -- nuclear, foreign attacks, military activities by foreign countries. It's sensitive, sensitive material.
KEILAR: Yes. And this indictment is fascinating, I will say. As you read part of it, you can see they're looking at the deposition of Walt Nauta where his testimony and underscoring what they say they know to be false about the movement of some of these documents.
There's a lot that this reveals. There's a lot that it also does not reveal, to your point, Laura Coates.
I do want to go back to Dana and John as we look over this indictment and these dozens of counts here.
KING: And, Brianna, I think it's just striking how much having some facts before you, having some allegations before you can reset a conversation like that.
Donald Trump was controlling the conversation until we received these 49 pages.
And they detail -- again, Donald Trump is innocent until proven guilty, Donald Trump will have his day in court. But this indictment just details -- in stunning detail.
Number one, text messages from his employees. "Donald Trump routinely says outside forces are against him. This indictment is built on information from within Trump's inner circle."
"Former White House officials, current political aides, current Mar-a- Lago employees, text messages, photographs of sloppy handling of documents, of deliberate, -- as you noted, on page three, they lay out that Trump asked his attorney to lie to the federal government about these documents.
And so now that you that you have the scope of this from the special counsel, who we will hear from today for the first time since he took this job, I suspect the conversation is going to change quickly.
Again, the legal consequences are what matter most in this historic unprecedented now case against a former president.
But politically, a lot of people rushed out to say things yesterday that when they read this they may come to regret.
BASH: Details an incredible, incredible details, right?
MURRAY: Yes. We've talked a lot about the difference between a full indictment that we have now and this sort of summary that we got from Trump's attorney.
Yesterday, this morning, we were talking about seven charges. Today, we now know this is a 38-count indictment. This document is 49 pages long.
It not only lays out a number of instances in detail, as you pointed out, it has photos in it.
BASH: These photos are stunning.
MURRAY: Thirty-eight counts across Donald Trump and Walt Nauta. The first 31 are the willful retention of national defense information. There's a count to the conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Another count on withholding a document or record. Corruptly concealing a document or record. Concealing a document in a federal investigation. The scheme to conceal and false statements.
And at the beginning of this indictment, it talks about the kinds of classified documents that Donald Trump had in these boxes.
And it said they included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of the U.S. and foreign countries, United States nuclear programs, vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign track.
And says the unauthorized disclosure of this information could put at risk the national security of the United States.
PHILLIP: That is so incredibly significant because, actually, just last night here on CNN, Tim Parlatore, who was until recently part of the Trump legal team, started to formulate this argument that I think is mulling around in Trump world that the nature the documents matter.
And he was absolutely right about that, but suggested that, perhaps, old schedules that would have been top secret, classified at a certain point, would not rise to the occasion.