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Indictment: Trump Stored Classified Info In Bathroom, Shower, Public Ballroom, Bedroom; Indictment: Trump Faces 37 Counts Total, Including Willful Retention of National Defense Information; Trump Stored Info Including U.S. Defense, Weapons & Nuke Programs, Foreign Countries' Defense; Soon: Special Counsel Speaks As Trump Indictment Unsealed. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired June 09, 2023 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: So it's not just the intelligence and national security of the United States. You have allies around the world looking at these photos, looking at this indictment, and saying this is putting our sources and methods at risk.
Brianna and Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: To that point, Evan made the point earlier that Trump tightened the penalties for retaining classified information in the law he signed in 2018, quoting very briefly from it:
"Whoever being an officer, employee, contractor, consultant to the U.S. and by virtue of his office becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information in the United States, knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location" -- note the language on several fronts as relevant to Trump's own case -- "shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year or both."
And it became defined in prison for not more than five years or both."
So both tightened the language but also tightened the penalties for exactly such behavior.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. One of the criticisms of Donald Trump, the candidate in 2016, had of the law is that Hillary Clinton, he believed, right -- and he said this repeatedly at his rallies -- that she was so careless with the national security of the country. She did not deserve to be president.
And also one of the complaints they had was that the FBI dropped this case and did not bring any charges. The Justice Department did not bring any charges.
And you know, at the time the law, the Republicans were complaining that the law said that this was a misdemeanor. That was their complaint.
One of the things they did in that law was to improve -- was to raise the penalties, to make it a felony. So that's one of the issues.
SCIUTTO: Yes. That's the key.
PEREZ: That is the key here for the former president.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Another key here, too, we're using the word "cavalier," and "mishandling." Jack Smith is telling you it's criminal. That's the word, twice, they're using with the prosecution.
To one point that I know is often raised in conversations about trying to go for the bigger fish. It's often asked of prosecutors, you want to try to flip someone to be a cooperate, that may happen.
But this is not a game of chicken where the prosecutors are hoping, if I push you enough, maybe this time you'll acquiesce, you'll do what I want you to do.
Note in the actual document, on page 44 is one example. One of the reasons they know and believe and are calling that Nauta made a false statement is they have Trump employee number two who's able to have shown that he provided assistance.
So this reads, to me, that there is somebody else who was cooperating, who's already given information to the Department of Justice and the prosecutors, that could corroborate about what their allegations are.
That's important because it then lessens the need if there ever is one to try to flip Nauta with an eye toward that being the only successful way to prosecute this case.
We're talking about the Trump attorneys and there are multiple ones. But every time you see a reference to another person unidentified who is giving further credence to what has been said, that might be an indication of somebody who is providing information.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: We believe that we know who that witness is. That is someone who's gone before the grand jury to testify. It is a lower-level maintenance worker at the clubs.
This is someone who has done their use diligence, done what they were asked to do, testify before the grand jury.
But it's a great example of one of the many people called before the grand jury. I mean, the majority of the people who have gone before the grand jury are people who work for the former president. So this is a case --
PEREZ: Everybody, everybody who worked at Mar-a-Lago pretty much has been called.
REID: The gardener, all the way to the former White House chief of staff has been facing questions in this investigation. So it's a case that is built on the people around the former president.
And it will be fascinating to see if this makes it to trial how this plays out in court.
But I also want to talk about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She looms so large in this case.
In the audio recording, one of the things that you can hear at the outset, before they get into the substance, they do make jokes about Hillary Clinton's handling of classified materials. They make Anthony Weiner jokes.
Everyone is laughing about her moments before he makes comments that are clearly one of the central pieces of evidence now in a criminal charge against him.
As Evan noted, it prompted him to change the law. It was a core part of his campaign.
You can argue -- some people have argued that the way the Justice Department handled that case, Comey coming out to give a press conference to discuss why she wasn't being charged, completely unprecedented.
And then also making a decision just days before the election to announce that additional emails had been found. People argue that helped former President Trump get elected.
So to find ourselves here, I'd be curious to know what she thinks.
SCIUTTO: A lot of unprecedented.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: We are awaiting, by the way, the special counsel making a statement here in about 25 minutes. That is the expectation here.
But also just -- when we're talking about the sheer amount of documents, we've touched upon this a little bit.
But this period of time, from May 23rd to June 2nd, it says, in sum, before Trump attorney one's -- Evan Corcoran's -- review of Trump's boxes in the storage room, which we know is a review of incomplete, hugely incomplete amount of documents, Nauta, his valet, at Trump's direction, moved approximately 64 boxes from the storage room to Trump's residence and brought to the storage room only approximately 30 boxes.
There's a lot of missing boxes there. (CROSSTALK)
KEILAR: That's right. And neither Trump, nor Nauta informed Evan Corcoran of this information.
There's also -- they are in their phone records, right? You have right here Trump and Nauta on May 30th speaking by phone for approximately 30 seconds. At 9:08 a.m., less than an hour later, Nauta is removing a total of 50 boxes from the storage room.
PEREZ: By the way, that -- that passage you just read is something that appears in some of the documents that the Justice Department used to get the search warrant of Mar-a-Lago.
They knew, they knew at the time that documents had been moved and that fewer boxes had been moved back to the storage room. They knew that, back in August of last year.
So a lot of the investigation that has gone on since then has been focused exactly on explaining, you know, exactly what the former president was doing to obstruct. The ways he was instructing his employees to help him obstruct this investigation.
COATES: And the importance of surveillance footage. Surveillance footage has been a key piece of evidence. We've seen in reporting questions to witnesses to make sure that they had all of the surveillance footage that they had requested.
SCIUTTO: Going back repeatedly.
COATES: Going back repeatedly. Questions about whether there was any effort to compromise or to hide or destroy the surveillance footage. That is also how they learned a lot about what was going on with the boxes.
SCIUTTO: It's as if you had video cameras in the Watergate Hotel.
COATES: Exactly. Yes.
SCIUTTO: They see the folks moving the boxes.
To the point of not letting the lawyer know, if you go to page 37, court 34, corruptly concealing a document or record, which the brilliant Laura Coates drew our attention to, this was deliberately not letting the lawyer know.
Quoting from this that, "Trump and Nauta did conceal a record or document." That they hid concealed boxes that had these documents. And they deliberately kept that from Trump attorney. Which it tells the significance of what we find on page 37 and count 34.
COATES: Well, it lends -- it lends further credence to the idea that you're corruptly acting in a way -- as the complaint articulates why you are holding the information. What don't you want to happen?
And they go painstakingly point after point -- clearly the counsel for Trump does not want me to speak what I know.
COATES: But the chai will not fool me. Not today, Satan.
COATES: The point, when you know that a lawyer has an affirmative obligation to make a certification to the Department of Justice that says, here is what has been given over, it is comprehensive, I'm certifying, I'm attesting to this very notion, here you have it.
If they know that person is unwilling to go that extra mile, they will withhold information. And that's the significance here.
They were having a tour of the ethical obligation. They were hoping to evade that very notion.
And as they articulate in the complaint, they would like very much for the purpose of not allowing a federal grand jury to have access to this. That is the intent.
To your point which was the question we asked going in, tell us can they prove intent? You giving an indication there -- well, at least they -- up to a judge, up to a jury. But a sign that they have something to back that up.
John and Dana, enormous legal implications from this document, political, as well.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And I think it's striking, as we've gone through since we have this 49-page document, gone through detail after detail after detail, damning photo after damning photo after damning photo.
I think it's also important to remember, the lawyers know this better than me. But when you bring an indictment, put enough in, just enough in to prove your count, to give your probable cause, your threshold evidence that you're presenting this charge. You don't put everything in it.
BASH: That's right.
KING: So we're looking at this, and it's damning.
Again, I'm a broken record but Trump is innocent until proven guilty, Walt Nauta, as well. They deserve their day in court.
But this is detailing, with Trump's testimony notes from his attorneys, recordings from Trump himself, text messages from his aides, the inconsistencies.
And more importantly, I would argue, for those who want to dismiss this as a misunderstanding over some boxes, as Trump likes to call the boxes hoax, nuclear secrets, maps, military commands, things that belong under lock and key, and that are the property of the United States government.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we're past the possible misunderstanding defense. I think back to what we learned in court documents after the search at Mar-a-Lago.
There were all of these questions of, you know, could Evan Corcoran be in legal trouble because he did the search and missed all of these classified documents.
Could Christina Bobb be in legal trouble because she signed this certification saying, according to her knowledge, there was this diligent search.
All of this just brings to light how much Trump was doing, allegedly, at the center of all of this. The working with Nauta to have boxes moved out of that storage room before Evan Corcoran did the search.
But Trump sticking around while officials came to get that envelope that his attorneys were handing over, telling them that he was an open book.
And this indictment saying, earlier that same day, Nauta and others loaded Trump's boxes and other items on the aircraft that flew Trump and his family north for the summer.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And that sound that you hear is silence. Largely from Republicans in these moments.
Maybe they're reading this 50-page document. But you're not hearing the same kind of strident language that we heard last night.
That's not to say that there won't be defenses, and I think we're already starting to see them formulating this idea that, well, he kept them, he waved them around, he talked about how he couldn't show them to people.
But he didn't actually hand them over to a foreign adversary. He didn't actually give them to somebody that wasn't supposed to see these documents. The goalposts are going to continue to move.
But on its face, these allegations are very damaging. That's why you would have to stretch to say that, well, at least he didn't give them to an enemy of the United States.
That's not really -- that's certainly not the legal bar. That's not even close to the political bar.
And people know this by this point. There have been so many of these cases publicly that have been out there. People understand these issues on a very basic, commonsense level.
BASH: That's such an important point. Who's to say that an enemy of the United States wouldn't be able to somehow get, say, into the ballroom of Mar-a-Lago, into the bathroom of Mar-a-Lago, to get the information that the president allegedly took, that looks like -- the former president's -- that looks like we see in those photos?
MURRAY: The other thing I want to point out about this, we've talked a lot about this being Donald Trump's second Indictment. What we're looking at is different from what we saw in New York.
When people were waiting for the paper to come through in the New York indictment and they finally saw it, they thought, OK, you know, we knew this.
We knew these sorts of basic allegations about the Trump hush-money payments. We knew this was the case that sort of came together, fell apart, came back together. There were not a lot of surprises.
What we're seeing in this is a very different indictment, a very different level of detail. A lot of new information that the public was not privy to before.
And it comes when this is not the only case that Donald Trump is still at the center of. We still have the special counsel's January 6th investigation. We still have a criminal investigation ongoing in Georgia.
BASH: You know, how many prosecutors have we all talked to who say that, particularly when you're going for somebody high profile, if you're going to go for an indictment, you better really have it buttoned up.
And there is no bigger, more high-profile person than what we're seeing here. The first time in American history a federal indictment of a former president. And boy, does it look like just from this, they've got a lot of goods.
KING: To that point, we are moments away from hearing for the first time from Jack Smith, the special counsel who brought this 49-page indictment.
And in the details here, in the meticulous listing of the chronology and the documents and the stakes and the classified markings and the text messages from Trump aides, the notes to Trump attorneys, at first glance here, it seems to be that Jack Smith not only studied the law but studied the Mueller report, the two impeachments and how Trump works.
And there was a big conversation last night was, why was Jack Smith yielding the first 12 hours to Donald Trump? I think he's answered the question here.
And it will be fascinating to hear what he does and also what he doesn't say, what he will say, is he willing to answer questions, or does he take no questions? But this is the counter. Last night was a vacuum. This is a thud.
PHILLIP: It bears repeating that this was the crime that really didn't have to happen. He didn't have to face these charges.
It's pretty simple, you just give the documents back. And honestly, the federal code, if he wanted to see these documents, all he had on this do was ask to see them.
There's -- it's not to say that a former president cannot seek to have records that memorialize his time in office. He can ask for them. But he kept them, did not give them back, and tried to apparently, based on evidence, tell his attorneys not to.
And using the language, the really bad stuff in that note from went one of his attorneys, look, this is Trump, largely, in his own words basically saying, I know I'm not supposed to have this, I'm not supposed to show it to people, I know it's bad.
And that's going to be really strong evidence, I think.
KING: You covered the Trump White House so you know his language and mindset better than most. The repeated references here to my boxes, my boxes, even though he knows they were not his boxes, tells us what Trump thinks. If I want it, I will take it.
KEILAR: Yes. One other thing to touch on as we are looking here and digging in, there are obviously so many pages in this indictment, but something else that stood out to us.
This is talking about something that happened on May 30th, and a Trump family member -- so this is a family member of Trump who says to his aide, "Good afternoon, Walt, happy Memorial Day," which obviously it isn't happy.
But says, "I saw you put boxes to POTUS room, just FYI, and I will tell him as well" -- so this is a Trump family member who speaks director to him -- "not sure how many he wants to take on Friday on the plane. We will not have a room for them. Plane will be full with luggage. Thank you."
Nauta replied, "I think he wanted to pick from them. I don't imagine him wanting to take the boxes."
What do you make of that, Evan?
PEREZ: I think it shows that, at least what the prosecutors are trying to show is that the former president was deeply interested in picking out things that he wanted to take.
So that conversation with a family member, they're not going to have enough room. We've seen some images before that indicated they were trying to take stuff to Bedminster, he moves, he and his family go up to Bedminster for the summer.
So the question here is, you know, did the former president actually do that? I mean, maybe that's something, some evidence that they're going to present at trial.
But did he actually do that? Did he go out and pick and choose the things that he was going to take with him? SCIUTTO: As you look at these, again, 38 counts, you have three
buckets, it seems. The retention, multiple cases of retention of highly classified documents on some, which we discussed, highly sensitive subject matter, including nuclear capabilities of the United States. You have the effort to corruptly conceal those documents in effect.
And then counts 37 and 38 are about false statements and representations. Reading from count 37, Trump caused the following false statements and representations to be made to the grand jury and FBI in a sworn certification executed by Trump attorney number three.
We remember there's been some report being this, right, that that document that was signed saying everything's been returned was not true.
But what stood out to me is that Trump caused those false statements to be made by people working for him. Significance of that. Significance of that and, when you read the two counts, do they have the goods to back up that?
COATES: Well, it's really significant to know that most people would think for a false statement to be charged -- remember, they are co- defendants in this action, co-defendants, whether they'll be tried together is a very different story.
People have a tendency to try to separate when they know that one might have an interest in testifying against the other with separate defenses.
But for now, we know they're co-defendants. You, as the person who has induced another to make a false statement, can be held liable, as if you yourself was the actual speaker.
Because we don't want people to get away with pawning off the responsibility or using somebody as kind of a verbal hit man and not have any accountability at that point in time.
So it's very -- legally, you can still prove it, even if you weren't the one to make the statement.
Another aspect of it, of course, is just the breadth of the information they have. You asked whether or not this helps in the aiding of the prosecution in this case.
Remember, Jack Smith still has a report to file with the attorney general. If this is this 40 some-odd-page document that is going to the court of law for a judge to look at, for the arraignment, the defense council, obviously the court of public opinion, imagine what the report includes in terms of declinations.
What did they decide not to pursue and why?
And the number-one question that keeps going on in my mind as I look at all those boxes, look at the photographs, why those documents? How does one accumulate all of those documents? And for how long was that process undergoing?
These don't appear to be tchotchkes. Or of course, looking at a podium for when we have Jack Smith coming.
But why were these documents? Did this entire discussion and plan start long before? And what was the motivation for wanting to retain them?
This complaint does not go into that. But you better believe that a jury pool is going to be wondering, why do you want those documents and inferring something.
KEILAR: Because these are dangerous to be out there in a public ballroom, in a bathroom, in a bedroom, in a --
COATES: Shower --
KEILAR: An insecure shower, insecure storage facility spilling out. We see that in the photos, in an insecure estate or resort, which Mar-a- Lago is. Yes, there is some security. But this is not the White House. This is not a large SCIF. It just isn't.
It's dangerous for this information --
KEILAR: Far from it.
KEILAR: Dangerous for this to be there.
SCIUTTO: Everyone else --
COATES: They know that from Bedminster.
SCIUTTO: Just to be clear, everyone else with a security clearance, from an airman up to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is required to consume these documents or store these documents in highly secured facilities.
KEILAR: And we're looking right now, as you see on the screen there to the left, we are awaiting the special counsel, making a statement.
This is going to be, for many people, their first introduction to Jack Smith. Someone they may have heard about but don't know much about, Paula.
REID: No. We've tried.
REID: I mean, this is someone who has taken a posture that he doesn't want to know what stories are being reported. He does not want to correct things, he doesn't want to make public statements.
I'll tell you, early on, we asked for a more professional government head shot, because the only photo we had of Jack Smith, he's in that purple and black attire, so people joked it looked like he was in Hogwarts.
But he declined to provide another photo. So that's the level of media disinterest, shall we say.
The fact that he's coming out and giving a statement, it will be fascinating for the American people and for former President Trump to hear from this individual for the first time.
He has popped up a few times in testimony for former Vice President Mike Pence in the January 6th probe. We're told he was also at the meeting with Trump lawyers, but he didn't say much. So I'm really curious what he has to say.
KEILAR: We are going to let you go, because you have to mobilize for our special coverage, which is going to begin here in about three and a half minutes. So we're going to let you do that so you can make sure that you are in place for that.
As we turn back here to Laura to talk about what is ahead and what you were expecting to hear here.
COATES: Well, I don't expect to hear from Merrick Garland at this particular podium.
Remember, the special counsel regulations here. This has been handed over, the reins given to Jack Smith. Because to remove any hint of impropriety.
This is the frontrunner of the GOP nomination and a former president. There are already political talking points about why this seems to be a weaponization.
We see from this document that this has little to do, if anything at all, about politics. But it will be spoken about, nonetheless.
But I expect that the document itself will be far more verbose than ever Jack Smith will be. Precisely for the reason that he articulated in this complaint, which includes statements from the former president from 2016 and beyond, to point out, hey, what you say can be used against you in a court of law in the future.
In this case in the complaint, it was used to suggest that Donald Trump was well aware of the classification process, and the gravitas assigned to it. So I'll doubt he will want to open himself up.
But one point here, you mentioned that a National Guardsman. And I'm thinking about one in Massachusetts, in particular. SCIUTTO: Yes.
COATES: Because I would love to hear from members of Congress, especially those who followed that particular story and have been quite adamant about the nature of that alleged offense.
Now, imagine that correspondence. The sounds I'm hearing now is striking, given, of course, we're talking about statutes, as in congressional laws and beyond. So what they will have to say will be very telling.
SCIUTTO: That's why they say it, from airman down, because we're dealing with the case of the mishandling of classified documents, taken very seriously by both parties.
I think also, moments like this, as we prepare to hand it over to special coverage, we can take a breath to acknowledge the seriousness of this, and the historic nature of this.
It is the third legal entangle entanglement for this president. You have the Manhattan cases, charges rather, the E. Jean Carroll case.
This one, though, these are federal charges. We knew last night he was going to be indicted. Now we have seen that indictment. It's 38 counts. It is serious, comprehensive, and it involves some of the nation's most sensitive intelligence.
KEILAR: It does. Nuclear secrets and many other things that have to do with the vulnerabilities of U.S. national security. Dangerous information to have hanging out there.
As we are understanding that this special counsel is in the former president's phone records, or the phone records of those who have spoken to him, in the text messages of those who have spoken with Trump, family members actually even possibly it may even be Donald Trump's spouse.
That appears what it may be, but we are working to confirm that.
This is laid out here. And as you said, and we are awaiting the special coverage, those details may have to speak for themselves in this long document here.
SCIUTTO: A weighty document both in literal and figurative terms.
COATES: I think we're all on the same page. None of us takes any pleasure in the fact that this is in existence right now.
Because we're talking about, for every document and classified detail, there is a human being or human information source that is connected to it.
And there are countries and allies that are relying on the United States of America, particularly in times like this, to protect. (CROSSTALK)
COATES: And I deeply, as a parent and an American, wonder what our future will be.
KEILAR: And we are turning now to our special coverage, which begins right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world to CNN special coverage of this historic event, the federal indictment of former President Donald Trump.
I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And I'm Anderson Cooper in New York.
Any moment, we are expecting to hear from Special Counsel Jack Smith live at the Justice Department, addressing the 37 charges against the former president and six charges against one of his aides.
The indictment was unsealed just over an hour ago.
And, Jake, it is incredibly detailed and deeply troubling.
TAPPER: I think that is an accurate assessment.
The allegations, Anderson, outlined in this indictment, as you know, include that Donald Trump kept documents so sensitive they required special handling.
Storing documents about U.S. defense, weapons and nuclear programs and those of foreign countries, defense programs, vulnerabilities that the United States has.
That he stored them improperly and illegally at Mar-a-Lago, rather recklessly as well for multiple months, including in a ballroom, on the stage where events were being held, and in bathrooms, and even in a shower seen here inside his Florida resort.
The indictment also alleges Trump asked his attorney to lie to the federal government, to the FBI, about his possession of these classified documents. Some of them at least. And he tried to hide or destroy documents, ones that had been subpoenaed.
The indictment states then on at least two occasions, Trump showed classified material to others who did not have the clearance to see them.
We're just moments away from the special counsel in this investigation, Jack Smith, speaking about the indictment.
But I want to bring in CNN's Paula Reid and CNN's Evan Perez, who have been all over this story.
Paula, the Justice Department has basically ceded control of the narrative to Trump and his lawyers about the indictment since last night, but now we are about to hear from the prosecutors.
REID: That's right. We're about to hear from special counsel, Jack Smith, for the first time since he took over this investigation back in November.
He's only actually been spotted out in public once during the entire course of this probe. It will be very interesting to see. I expect he will speak maybe for a couple of minutes. He's not expected to take questions, though I expect the press corps in attendance is going to try.
But he's given former President Trump about 16 hours of lead time to fill a void of information here.
We have just gotten the indictment unsealed. We've been going through it and reporting on it.
It will be interesting to see what Jack Smith has to say to the American people about the work that he's been doing and about this historic indictment that's just been unsealed, the first time a former president of the United States has faced federal criminal charges.
TAPPER: Evan, walk us through exactly what the charges are. 31 of them are about the documents themselves, right?
PEREZ: Right, exactly, Jake. And this is how typically these documents, these indictments are structured. The allegation is that, again, this is typically how these things are structured. Every document represents a separate charge.
What we know is that there's 38 counts that the former president is being charged with. Willful retention of those documents, related to 31 of those, I believe.
The details here are key, though. The key details are that the former president not only stored these 300 or so documents in a reckless manner.
But also that he shared them with people who had no right to see them, that did not have the clearances to see them.
They give two examples. One in July of 2021, which is the audio recording that Paula and the team have been reporting on for the last couple of weeks.
The prosecutors cite the conversations that the former president is having with people in that room.
There is -- right there, it shows you that Trump showed and described a plan of attack that Trump said was prepared for him by the Department of Defense, and Mark Milley, who is, of course, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He showed a representative of his Political Action Committee.