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Soon: Special Counsel Speaks as Trump Indictment Unsealed; Special Counsel Statement on Trump Indictment; Trump Faces 37 Counts Total, Including Willful Retention of National Defense Information; Indictment: Trump Showed Classified Documents to Others on Two Occasions. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired June 09, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The second one is he chose a - showed a representative of his political action committee who did not have a security clearance, a classified map related to a military operation.
Those are the two incidents - instances that the prosecutors cite in this document, as you know, the former president sharing information with people who are not clear to have it.
Secondly, the obstruction of justice charges. According to prosecutors, the former president suggested to his attorney that he falsely tell the FBI and the grand jury that didn't have any documents and they go through chapter and verse of his conversations with Evan Corcoran, who is identified here as attorney number one.
They also say that the former president directed his valet, his assistant, his aide, Walt Nauta, to move boxes and - back and forth to conceal them from Evan Corcoran, before Evan Corcoran did a search and then was able to tell the Justice Department that there were only - there were fewer documents than there really were at Mar-A-Lago.
Again, the justice department saying that these are some of the things that the foreign president did to try to get his attorney to hide or destroy documents. He said that they say that he provided the FBI with just only some of the documents that had been demanded under a grand jury subpoena. And he's also caused a certification that was submitted to the FBI saying that they are producing all the documents. When, in fact, as you know, when the FBI did a search in Mar-A-Lago in August, they found hundreds of additional classified documents.
Again, this is a 49-page indictment of the former president and his aide, Walt Nauta, are both charged in this. This is now a case that's going to be heard in Miami or in the Southern District of Florida. It is right now assigned to Aileen Cannon, a judge that was appointed by the former president. This is, of course, something that's going to go down on Tuesday, when the former president is brought down to Miami, is formally arrested and processed before entering a plea to these charges. JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Right. And for anyone listening - I mean, so obviously, two individuals - two incidents rather I should say - where Trump showed documents to individuals that didn't have security clearances. One was somebody that work for a pro Trump Super PAC, another was a room full of individuals working on the autobiography of his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
In addition to that, just go to Google and look up Mar-A-Lago intruder ...
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Right.
TAPPER: ... and you will see there have been a number of individuals that have gotten in there and those are just the ones we know about. And in terms of the documents, point three, which I know you all have read, says the unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States foreign relations, the safety of the U.S. military, human sources, the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods. It includes U.S. nuclear programs ...
TAPPER: ... potential vulnerabilities of the U.S., plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack, it's just staggering.
Paula, Evan just mentioned Trump aide, Walt Nauta, who's also been indicted, what exactly - what are the charges he's facing and what is his alleged role in all this?
REID: Well, I've been following Walt Nauta for quite some time. It's actually been one of the first people that we asked about when we were curious about whether anyone would be charged in this case. We know that he has been under a lot of pressure in recent months to cooperate to try to avoid charges, specifically charges of making false statements to investigators during the course of this investigation.
Now here, yes, he is clearly facing false statement charges along with others. But for a long time, the former president's attorneys argued, look if Walt is not going to cooperate, they won't have any case against the former president. Clearly, from this indictment, Jake, that is not true.
This case does not rest on the testimony of the cooperation of Walt Nauta. Instead, it appears to be built on the testimony of dozens and dozens of people have gone before the grand jury. Almost every single one of them works for former President Trump. In addition to that, they have the audio recording that we reported last week, they clearly have phone records, other evidence, including these incredible photographs, showing the boxes just sitting in the ballroom before Walt Nauta moved them.
I mean, they're sitting in a ballroom where they're having events for two months, some of the nation's most sensitive secrets, so it really is interesting. For so long, people were trying to argue that the whole case rests on Walt Nauta, where clearly it does not. He is now facing charges, so he clearly has an incentive to cooperate. But we know that he is currently in Bedminster, New Jersey, with the former president still very much in the follow, has a Trump-aligned lawyer. So it does not appear at this point anyway, that he is likely to flip.
But Jake, I have to say reading this indictment, there's been such incredible reporting, particularly here at CNN about this investigation. It really confirms so many of the things that we've said, but it also shows that we just had a sliver have the evidence that the special counsel has in its possession.
This is truly a speaking indictment, laying out the extraordinary amount of information that they have collected.
And I'm just hearing in my ear that it's a couple more minutes before we hear from Special Counsel Jack Smith. He'll probably, Jake, take just a few minutes to give brief remarks and it will be fascinating to see what he says. I won't say that it's at the end of his investigation, but about halfway through, maybe halftime on his job here.
TAPPER: Yes. And some of that reporting, some of that excellent reporting, obviously, Paula, also by you, including today, the information that you broke that is contained in this indictment having to do with the transcript of the audio tape where Donald Trump in one of these two instances where he's telling this roomful of Mark Meadows employees about this top secret document.
And Evan, this document is full of firsthand information, text messages, transcripts, photographs, testimony, including testimony or things that were memorialized by Trump's attorneys, which I suspect means that they wrote it down at the time.
Trump saying, wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything here, a lie about the fact that they had classified documents. This is firsthand information. Look, we're going - we're being told right now that Jack Smith and his team are coming out, so let's listen in.
JACK SMITH, SPECIAL COUNSEL: Good afternoon. Today, an indictment was unsealed charging Donald J. Trump with felony violations of our national security laws as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice.
This indictment was voted by a grand jury of citizens in the Southern District of Florida, and I invite everyone to read it in full to understand the scope and the gravity of the crimes charged.
The men and women of the United States intelligence community and our armed forces dedicate their lives to protecting our nation and its people. Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced. Violations of those laws put our country at risk.
Adherence to the rule of law is a bedrock principle of the Department of Justice. And our nation's commitment to the rule of law sets an example for the world. We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone. Applying those laws. Collecting facts. That's what determines the outcome of an investigation. Nothing more and nothing less.
The prosecutors in my office are among the most talented and experienced in the Department of Justice. They have investigated this case hewing to the highest ethical standards. And they will continue to do so as this case proceeds.
It's very important for me to note that the defendants in this case must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. To that end, my office will seek a speedy trial in this matter consistent with the public interest and the rights of the accused. We very much look forward to presenting our case to a jury of citizens in the Southern District of Florida.
In conclusion: I would like to thank the dedicated public servants of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with whom my office is conducting this investigation and who worked tirelessly every day upholding the rule of law in our country. I'm deeply proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with them. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why Florida, sir? Why did you decided to bring the case in Florida?
TAPPER: That was Special Counsel Jack Smith. We knew he wasn't going to take questions even though one eager reporter attempted there, speaking at the Justice Department talking about the federal charges facing former President Donald Trump and one of his aides.
The indictment released this afternoon detailing 37 charges facing Mr. Trump including the willful retention of National Defense Information and obstruction of justice. Let's discuss with my panel.
And Laura Coates, let me start with you because I want you to translate for us when Jack Smith says that they are going to pursue a speedy trial pursuant to all the rights that the accused has. What does that mean? How soon might this trial begin?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he obviously is aware that the Department of Justice has a policy they don't want to do anything that might interfere with an election. We know we are 500 some days away from the presidential election ...
TAPPER: And two months from the first debate.
COATES: ... and Coates from the first debate and, of course, primaries ahead of that after that as well. He's aware of that and the talking point is, obviously, out there. And he tried to undermine the idea of the adherence to the law as a bedrock principle and nothing else was actually the reason to do this, he's aware of that.
And so with an eye towards that notion, he is trying to confirm to the people of the United States who are hearing him right now that they are going to do everything that they can. Now, that does not mean that the judge or everyone else in this case, will do everything that they can to do this before any of those timelines. Because as you can imagine, if for example, Donald Trump somehow secures the RNC nomination, and if he is able to become the president United States yet again and win over the Democratic incumbent, then that would mean that any (inaudible) at that point, because now you can no longer continue to pursue a case against a sitting president based on DOJ guidelines. And so the speed and the timing will both be a friend and a foe of Jack Smith.
TAPPER: And Andy McCabe, let me ask you, as a former FBI official, is it unusual that the Justice Department decided to release the indictment today? And if so, what why do you think they did?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: MCCABE: Highly unusual, the normal order is the indictment remains sealed until the defendant is presented in court at the arraignment, which we know in this case ...
TAPPER: That'll be Tuesday in Miami, right.
MCCABE: ... that's right Tuesday in Miami. About the same time we're at today. So that's how it normally happens. I'm a little bit surprised that they released it early here simply because I think it would have been in their advantage to be able to say we follow the normal process with respect to this remarkable defendant in every possible instance.
However, I think that DOJ capitulated in some respect to the enormous pressure that's been put on them by we in the media and some political figures saying like this thing is so volatile, people are so interested in it and the American people need to see these facts today, so that's what they did.
But this press conference very clearly - this was like a cover letter, right? There was no substance here. What Jack Smith wants us to do is read the indictment and he started his comments by saying exactly that. We have one set of laws, protecting information for national security sake is incredibly important and read the indictment and that's basically all you got.
TAPPER: Dana Bash, a lot of the Republicans out there running for president against Donald Trump with the exceptions of Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson, a lot of them running to Donald Trump's defense.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And I literally just got a text from a veteran Republican strategist, not affiliated with any of the presidential campaign saying, if a candidate can't make an effective argument that this guy might very well be in jail, I don't know what they can do. ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they probably won't. I mean, many of the candidates, I mean, even down to former Vice President Mike Pence, who you were speaking to just a couple of days ago, not wanting to talk about it really going out of his way today to discuss - to not discuss the substance of this case. Pence is not quite in the Asa Hutchinson camp, not quite in the - maybe the Chris Sununu or the Chris Christie camp, but he is taking his campaign on this premise that Trump violated his oath on January 6th and should not be president again.
But he is reluctant, it seems, at this very moment and that could change in the future. But right now is reluctant to weigh in on this case. A lot of these candidates, a lot of Republicans right now probably understand what the poll numbers have shown us over a long period of time, which is that, at the very least, it's probably about half of Republicans will - are willing to or have been willing up until this point to give Trump a pass on this case and on many others.
Will that change based on this indictment? We don't know. But a lot of Republicans in the field right now are looking to see where the wind is blowing to determine where they go and not enough time has passed as of right now.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I would just say beyond reluctant. I mean, we saw Pence come out with his announcement and finally say these things. On the other hand, he also said he did not think charges should be pursued against Trump, right?
GANGEL: No one should be above the law, but don't do this.
TAPPER: So let's talk a little bit about the substance if we can, John, we'll talk to former governor, Asa Hutchinson, later in the show. He's actually calling for Donald Trump to drop out of the race because of this indictment. I mean, when you read the indictment, it's stunning. And it's entirely credible, because it's based on contemporaneous notes, texts, photographs and transcripts.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And the detail in it is stunning. Also important to note, when you craft an indictment, the lawyers can say this better than I do, you want to prove your case, probable cause to make the count. There's a lot in there. There's also that's not in there. You don't have to put it all in there.
And so what they put in there Trump's conversation with his lawyers, text messages, testimony from Mar-A-Lago employees, again, Donald Trump wants to make this about anything but him and the people around him that this is him and the people around him. I want to quickly talk about what we just heard from Jack Smith, though, because we've never heard his voice before.
TAPPER: Right. KING: And he took this job and he is now bringing a historic case against a former president and a current front runner for the Republican nomination. That was an economy of words, but I think they were very important words.
Number one, he said Donald Trump put our country at risk.
He's trying to break through to all Americans, but especially the 33, 35 - what's the number - percent of Americans who believe anything Donald Trump tells them. Donald Trump says this is a boxer's hope, this is casual, this is not a big deal.
That was the Special Counsel saying Donald Trump put our country at risk, put the men and women and the military at risk, put the intelligence services at risk. And then in the END, when he defended the work of the FBI, that tells me he is very aware even though his job is to prove this case in court, he understands the political argument underway right now.
Donald Trump has attacked the FBI for months, and months, and months and months, but he's forcefully doing so now. And a member of the House Republican Party, Andy Biggs, says we are - we need to - this is time for an eye for an eye and that we have reached a war phase.
January 6th is not too far in the rearview mirror.
KING: And you have people who put their hand on a Bible or swear an oath to the Constitution, who are now saying things I'm sorry, Donald Trump as the Special Counsel noted, is innocent until proven.
KING: However, the words of elected officials, leader official - leadership officials, people in positions of authority and standing in our country are incredibly important always, but all the more so at this moment. And you have these --
KING: ... you have Republican officials who even before they saw this indictment said these charges were baseless. The Special Counsel - his test is in a court of law, but he was trying right there to shake people to say at least please read the damn thing.
TAPPER: Well, and also just, I mean, an obvious note, but Donald Trump was elected in 2016 in no small part, because he was taking issue with Hillary Clinton's treatment of classified documents on her email server. "Lock Her Up" was about her recklessness with classified information - alleged recklessness.
KING: And to your point about the details, you're making a great point because look at the photographs in that ... TAPPER: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
KING: ... they lock her up because of the email server.
KING: Hundreds of documents, maps ...
PHILLIP: And they use ...
KING: ... the military information, nuclear information on foreign country ...
TAPPER: And control room ...
KING: ... (inaudible) ...
TAPPER: ... show that one at the ...
TAPPER: ... of all the documents filled out that have the Five Eyes labels ...
PHILLIP: Five Eyes.
TAPPER: ... Five Eyes is the five allies: United States, Australia, New Zealand and others - U.K. And these are documents that are only accessible, only allowable to be seen by people in the intelligence community in these five countries and that there's a photograph that I'm sure our team will find of the documents spilled all over the storage room in the - in a facility that is not secure.
GANGEL: It's the opposite of secure. This - that ballroom had hundreds of events during this period of time.
TAPPER: There - is that it? I'm not sure, but that's ...
GANGEL: There you are. There you go.
TAPPER: That's the docs - put it back, guys - the Five Eyes documents, okay, I don't know what's going on. But the Five Eyes documents spilled all over the ground.
And Andy McCabe, if you worked for the intelligence community of New Zealand, Australia, the U.K., et cetera, and you saw that - these are our documents, this is our intelligence alliance, what would you think?
MCCABE: It's one of the many ways this sort of activity makes us less safe, because it discourages our allies, even our closest allies.
TAPPER: That's it right there. That's the doc - that's the photograph. MCCABE: That group - in that Five Eyes group, we enjoy unfettered information sharing, right, from our very closest friends. This is the sort of thing that makes them think twice before they share their most sensitive information with us.
BASH: Andy, I just - if I may, Jake, the - you've not had the greatest history with Donald Trump, but you have an incredible history with looking at indictments and being a part of major investigations. Have you ever seen an indictment quite like this?
MCCABE: This is extraordinary. I have worked on and around many mishandling cases, Espionage Act cases, all kinds of national security cases. I've never seen an indictment with this level of granularity of detail.
The photographs, just to mention those photographs, to drive home this point of what you were just referring to, Jake, the unmitigated recklessness of how our absolutely most sensitive information was handled, it's off the charts stratospheric.
GANGEL: Not just reckless, intentional.
TAPPER: Yes, we just note, this is this is not the presidential - this is not like George W. Bush's ...
TAPPER: ... home guarded by Secret Service agents. Nobody has - this is a hotel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mm-hm, yes.
MCCABE: It's a public entity that has a long history of intruders, people with ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.
MCCABE: ... suspicious backgrounds actually being taken into custody and investigated for their - for the activities they engaged in there, so it's absolutely a spies dream.
TAPPER: Yes. Jamie?
GANGEL: These foreign nationals - I just want to remind everyone, that storage room even once they get some boxes in the storage room, you may all remember there was no lock on the storage room.
And if you read the indictment carefully, it talks about how, oh, it was right next door to where they keep the glasses and the liquor and that there were all of these exits and entrances to it. Just a former senior justice source just texted me, this is, to your point, the mother of all talking indictments. He has never seen this level of detail.
TAPPER: Laura Coates, final word here, yes.
COATES: This also details - this details an ongoing threat, because just as these - this was used in this way or distributed in this way or perhaps this has emanated, look at the human element that Jack Smith spoke about, the human aspect, the people who are in danger, every document every iota of information attached often to a human being and a human source, and our relationships can be at jeopardy. So this is really a part of a greater discussion to be having and this indictment is not even the report that is due to Merrick Garland.
TAPPER: So let's go and throw it back to Anderson in New York. Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, Jake. The team here in New York, we've all just been poring over the 49 pages of this indictment, the level of detail that Andrew McCabe just spoke about, Elie Honig, I mean, you've looked at a lot of indictments, discussions with Trump's attorney.
Trump attorney one, he said to Trump attorney one, "I don't want anybody looking it at, I don't want anybody looking through my boxes, I really don't. I don't want you looking through my boxes."
And then he also said, "Well, what if we - what happens if we just don't respond at all and don't play ball with them? Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have any here? Well, look, isn't it better if there are no documents?"
Later telling that same attorney who was at that point already removing some documents, bringing them to his hotel room. According to the attorney, "He made a funny motion as though, 'Well, okay, why don't you take them with you to your hotel room? And if there's anything really bad in there, like, you know, pluck it out,' he made that motion that he made." He didn't actually say those words. It's extraordinary.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, the level of detail here is remarkable. The job of any prosecutor in any scenario is to tell the story and make it matter. And I think when you look at the very brief remarks we just heard from Jack Smith and the indictment, he manages to do just that.
Yes, there is an extraordinary amount of detail in this indictment, quotes, text, documents, photos, but still he tells a story that I think is very digestible. The president took these documents, which were highly sensitive, he tried to hide them and he lied about it. That's it.
Anyone can understand that and he made it matter. He said, this is not about pieces of paper and cardboard boxes. This is about our national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system. So he took a very prosecutorial approach today in the indictment in his remarks (inaudible) ...
COOPER: He also ran through in broad brushstrokes what the documents were about, information about defense and weapons capabilities of the U.S. and foreign countries, United States nuclear programs, potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies' to military attack, plans for possible retaliation response to a foreign attack, the unauthorized disclosure of these documents could put a risk in the national security United States.
HONIG: That's why it matters. What could matter more than that? In particular, the vulnerabilities really jumped out at me.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Now listen, as someone who worked in the White House, I mean, this is absolutely stunning. We all had safes in our office to store documents much less sensitive than these. And to look at those kinds of documents you had to be in the situation room, not Wolf's, but the real one and - or in a SCIF and for a very good reason.
My question, honestly, is - is this just a function of ego? Because these documents are incredibly valuable.
I mean, there are governments and actors all over the world who would like to get their hands on these documents. So - I mean, I guess we will maybe find out.
COOPER: Well, Congressman Kinzinger, it'd be interesting to see if there's any correlation between the documents, do they describe certain countries in particular or are those countries Mr. Trump might like to have business dealings with? I mean, why those particular documents?
ADAM KINZINGER, (D) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Yes. I mean, that's very interesting. And it's - you'll hear probably a talking point that will emerge in the defense of the former president will be like, oh, we have an over classification problem. How many times we've heard that. And we do have an over classification problem.
These are not documents that are over classified. These are things like nuclear secrets. And I'll tell you, Anderson, just in - for two years, I flew the KC-135, which is a - the air refueler - it has a nuclear mission.
We would go into practice our nuclear mission. We had to have top secret clearance to do that. We weren't allowed to take notes. We weren't even allowed in that process to know where our supposed target was. And these documents which you're seeing, particularly the nuclear ones are the ones that stand out to me, is an essence appears to be all of those secrets out there in the bathroom for somebody to go route through and find out.
COOPER: John Miller?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I just look at this in the context that David did, in the context that Andy McCabe did. As a former Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence, you're working in a world of these documents, but it meant you had to get a top secret clearance, you had to go through a polygraph exam. You had to work in a SCIF of lead-lined walls. There were no cell phones allowed in the building or in the SCIF in case somebody might have taken a picture or a document.
When you get through what was the day-to-day routine life of living in the classified world and then you change channels to Mar-A-Lago where they're certifying to the FBI and the DOJ that there are no more documents on the same day they're loading them onto a plane in boxes to fly them to Bedminster.
Classified documents were going on a Donald Trump road show between different resorts, stored in a shower, stored in a bathroom, stored in a ball room.
COOPER: And they moved ahead of his attorneys coming to look to certify where the documents were.
MILLER: So I mean, when you look at the complete and utter lack of discipline, and in violation of security protocols, but also federal law that had become routine, it's just - if you've gone through the proper handling of these documents, as several of us at this table have, it's stunning.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But it's also not just a lack of discipline. There's a lot of intent in this indictment.
COLLINS: And you can see that he is telling his attorney ...
COOPER: Right. It's not just sloppiness ...
COLLINS: ... no, I mean, the - what stood out to me as we started reading it when he said he suggested that his attorney hide or destroy documents that were called for by the grand jury subpoena. And when you look at all of this evidence that clearly they have, and we don't even have just the full scope of it. But when you look at this and how detailed it is, I'm just thinking about the fact that the top two attorneys who have been litigating this for several months since the search of Mar-A-Lago happened in August have just departed the legal ...
COOPER: The interview you - the attorney you interviewed last night quite brilliantly ...
COLLIJNS: Like 16 hours ago.
COOPER: ... yes, who was talking about Tuesday three o'clock Miami, he's gone.
COLLINS: Oh, notice I asked last night ...
COOPER: Right. COLLINS: ... because I had an inkling because this always happens with Trump's legal teams. Obviously, this is a much more serious matter that something happened to them and they both resigned this morning, John (inaudible) ...
COOPER: Right. You were trying to put them down on who - which attorneys were actually going to be in the courtroom and he was very cagey about it.
COLLINS: And he said, we'll see. And what I'm told right now is they are searching for another attorney who is a Florida based attorney. It's one person they're considering as someone who's based out of Miami, that person hasn't even started yet. It's June - Friday, June 9th, he's going to court on Tuesday. Obviously, Jack Smith said that they have a speedy trial.
But it just is really striking that the two attorneys who know this the best are no longer on his legal team to deal with all of this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And remember, just a few weeks before that the one attorney, Tim Parlatore, who was - this was his portfolio and that team of lawyers also left. And we've talked about kind of the infighting and meltdowns within the - that are typical within the Trump legal teams, which are revolving.
COOPER: Actually, one of the things that is also pointed out in this indictment are past statements that the then-candidate Trump or even President Trump said about classified documents August in 2016. He said, "In my administration, I'm going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information, no one will be above the law."
September 6, same year, he said, "We can't have someone in the Oval Office who doesn't understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified."
September 7th, the next day, "One of the first things we must do is enforce all classification rules to enforce all laws relating to handling classified information, let alone the whole 'Lock Her Up' email thing."
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm actually not surprised with the hypocrisy in those statements and his actual behavior. If you remember that one night when the photo of those documents brought out of Mar-A-Lago and we - it was like the first time we saw the documents outside of a safe area, he would lead us to believe that that was it. That was all I had. I - it was an accident.
And now we see photos of boxes upon boxes with high national security risk that he knew he had in that very moment just months ago. So to think in 2016, for him to say that that is his character, that is his behavior, there is this feeling of him - David, you said his ego - it is - that is bigger than ego.
There - I have a real question about what he was going to do with those documents and why he wanted to continue to hide them, after he knew that the search was going to happen, trying to really bring in his lawyer and have him lie to the Department of Justice. The level of intent behind his behavior is not surprising, but it is quite disgusting and it's very scary that he's still the front runner.
COOPER: And as our Paula Reid had reported earlier, there is a transcript of the recording of the former president talking with a group of people, none of whom were - had proper classification, about documents that he was holding. And I want to bring in Alice Stewart, Republican strategist, it's on page 50 (ph) in the indictment for those of you who are following along at home and have it printed out.
Trump says, "To this group of people assembled, I have a big pile of papers. This thing just came up. Look, this was him. They presented me this. This is off the record, but they presented me this. This was him," talking about Mark - Gen. Mark Milley, "this was the Defense Department and him. Let's see here."
He's got a document, people were laughing in the room he says, "I just found it. Isn't it amazing? This totally wins my case. Except it's like, highly confidential." They laugh. He says, "Secret. This is secret information. Look. Look at this." I mean, he literally says this is secret information. Look, look at this.\
He then goes on to say, "See as President, I could have declassified it," people in the room laughed. "Now I can't you know, but this is still a secret."
AXELROD: I mean, that's a fascinating conversation.
COOPER: (Inaudible) to Alice. Alice ...
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
COOPER: ... it's insane.
STEWART: ... it is. And look, we're not talking about a love letter with - he's sending to a foreign leader.
This specific reference you made was about invading another country.