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Federal Indictment of Donald Trump And An Aide Unsealed In Classified Documents Probe; Trump Faces 37 Counts Total, Including Willful Retention Of National Defense Information; Former Trump Attorney On Ex-President Indictment. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired June 09, 2023 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is military information that he acknowledged was top secret information, and it is sitting in a box at Mar-a-Lago. And here's the thing. This is the very activity and action that he went after Hillary Clinton on. As you said, he talked in his 2015 2016 campaign so much about locking her up. Here is a quote from November of 2016 about Hillary Clinton.
He said, her current scandals and controversies will continue throughout her presidency and will make it honestly look bad. It's going to virtually make it impossible for her to govern.
Well, the same standard applies right here. I think it's really important for people to understand now that we know what we are talking about, this is a different situation. But it still shocks me, Anderson. I talked with Republicans across the country. And many are still standing by him. There's a cult of personality behind Donald Trump that will continue to stay with him.
And even the more information they have, they will continue to say. Because they feel this is an unequal distribution of justice. But as we heard Jack Smith say quite plainly, there is one rule of law in this country, and it applies equally to everyone. And Donald Trump is finding that out.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, I mean, the hypocrisy here, do the Barack Obama test. If Barack Obama, in his retirement, had been recorded in L.A. at a Hollywood party, say this at this exact stuff about a secret document, the Republican's heads would explode.
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Apoplectic.
KINZINGER: I think about it so on January 6th, right? Imagine if that was actually Antifa or BLM that did that, you know, the talk out of the Republican side would be very different. If this was Barack Obama, I mean, they would have started, you know, impeachment proceedings, even though he wasn't president any more still. Like hindsight impeachment proceedings, because they would be going absolutely crazy over this. And there's a lot of hypocrisy in politics, OK? No surprise to
anybody. This is a whole new level of hypocrisy. And when that hypocrisy infects national defense secrets -- by the way, these national defense secrets they don't change. It's not like every week there is a new plan to -- you know whether it's war in Iran or something like that being planned. They stay on the shelf. So, these are evergreen plans, and I just look at that and go, man, the hypocrisy of it all, particularly when in 2016, the whole "lock her up" chant that we all know so well, is about classified material.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: To Alice's point, though, we saw almost a Pavlovian reaction last night when this came out, including the Speaker of the House, including Ron DeSantis.
COOPER: The Speaker of the House's statement was extraordinary. Because I mean, it was so disingenuous. Because I mean, he is saying Joe Biden has prompted --
AXELROD: Which is Trump's line as well, the president has done this to me. But this is Donald Trump's gift is to sell the sort of conspiracy theories and narratives, and the narrative is, they're coming to get us, me and you, the deep state, the corrupt Biden administration, and so on. And this is all -- now the question is, does that stand up under the weight of all of this? I suspect in the short run, maybe yes.
COOPER: But it also -- just to step back for a second. This is all completely unnecessary. All of this is -- had he just given the stuff back.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: According to his own former Attorney General, who said if he had just turned the stuff -- this is what Bill Barr said --
COOPER: And requested to look at it for his records. He had power to look at stuff. It's incredible, this is completely self-inflicted.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN PRIMETIME ANCHOR: Also the fact that this is based off of notes from his attorney and an audio recording of him. He has famously always hated when anyone around him took notes in meetings. He was always suspicious of it when White House counsel and other officials did it. He didn't like it. His attorneys here felt the need to do it in great detail -- according to the "New York Times," when it comes to Evan Corcoran. And that's what is at the center of a lot of this.
COOPER: Yes, I want to go back to Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR THE LEAD: Thank you so much, Anderson. So the indictment releases this afternoon details among many other alleged crimes. The movement of boxes at Mar-a-Lago, including their storage in a ballroom, in a bathroom, in a shower. I want to bring in CNN's Kristen Holmes, who's in New Jersey near where Trump and his allies are gathered at a different prompt property in Bedminster. Kristen, What do we know about how secure -- more to the point -- insecure these documents, these classified documents containing important national secrets were when stored at Mar-a-Lago?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I reached out to a Mar-a-Lago member when we got these photos. We know it's not a house. It is a club that people have access. But I wanted to know exactly how much access. Were these pictures familiar to them? And this is what this member told me.
They said that they have never seen anything, including that white and gold ballroom that is on there, locked at all of Mar-a-Lago.
And the direct quote is: Once you are on the property, you can really go anywhere. I do. Being a private club, they can't really stop you from going into the public spaces.
Now one thing to note is that you do have to be a member to go on the property, but you can also be the guest of a member. And this has been a long-term issue for security around the former president. We know that while he was president, his advanced team, his body men, they had very specific protocols in place for when members brought a, quote, unsavory character as a guest. They were trying to keep this person away from the former president.
And that is actually proximity to the president, not to boxes in a room that is having an event. This source just said they had taken guests to the white and gold ballroom on multiple occasions. Never had an issue going in and out of there. It was never secured in any way.
The other thing to note, is since he has been president, since these documents were there, we know that those protocols have gone wayside. He had dinner with Kanye West and a White Supremacist, Nick Fuentes. None of that was vetted by any staff. So all of those protocols were no longer in place, which gives you an idea of who could have been on this property.
TAPPER: Yes, and we should note, I said this earlier, go to Google and google Mar-a-Lago intruder, and you'll see at least two Chinese nationals were caught on the property. One of them was deported back to China. There's another allegation about somebody that appears to have been some sort of con artist. And those are just the three we know about.
Mr. Trump, Kristen, he's scheduled to have two campaign events tomorrow. I think one in Georgia. Do we know if they are going to go ahead as scheduled?
HOLMES: I am told that everything is going to be business as usual. Look, this is exactly what we heard after the Manhattan indictment. That they are going to continue the campaign, and Trump has said time and time again, that no matter what happens, he is not dropping out of the race.
Now obviously, we do not know what the long-term impact of this indictment is, but as of now, they are still going to attend to those campaign events. And I will say, we are waiting to see if he's going to deliver any remarks directly on this. I'm told that that is still in discussion.
If that does happen, it's going to mirror what we saw after that Manhattan arraignment when he gave those remarks at Mar-a-Largo. He'd be back here at Bedminster. But nothing is set in stone yet. They are still processing this. And I will say, you know, I talked to sources all day long. It has been very, very quiet since this indictment was unsealed.
All right, Kristen Holmes, with Donald Trump in Bedminster, New Jersey. Thanks so much.
More details from this bombshell indictment against Donald Trump now unsealed. An attorney who recently represented the former president will join us next. Keep it here. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: And we're back with our special coverage of the federal indictment of former President Donald Trump. The indictment shows Mr. Trump facing 31 charges. And joining me now to discuss is one of Mr. Trump's former attorneys in this case until a few weeks ago. Tim Parlatore thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it. First, let me get your reaction to the indictment and to the statement made by special counsel Jack Smith.
TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: The indictment has a lot in it. A lot of stuff that, you know, that I wasn't aware of.
TAPPER: What were you not aware of?
PARLATORE: A lot of the specifics -- specific allegations about moving boxes before the search that Evan did. You know, there are things in here that I think, you know, if they have backup for are certainly problematic.
TAPPER: Like what?
PARLATORE: That whole discussion about, you know, talking to Walt. Walt moving the boxes up to the residence and everything. You know, that's -- that is potentially problematic. Especially if backed up by video. That being said, there are some parts of this like about the, you know, trying to convince Evan to do certain things that I think are improperly included in here. And I think that those counts certainly would be subject to a proper motion to dismiss. Honestly, the, you know, statement that he gave, which was very short --
TAPPER: Jack smith?
PARLATORE: Yes, Jack Smith's statement all yet. The one part of it that stuck out to me is where he talked about how his prosecutors kept to the highest ethical standards. You know, to, if you have a good, solid case, if everything in here is completely supported by the evidence, you don't need to play games. You don't need to do a lot of the things that we saw the prosecutors do. You know, I always say that my biggest fear is a reasonable prosecutor, because they won't play those games and they won't give me an opening.
TAPPER: Yes, so the indictment says that the classified documents that Mr. Trump stored in these boxes included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of the U.S. and foreign countries, the U.S. nuclear program, potential vulnerabilities of the U.S. and its allies to military attack and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack. He alleges -- Jack Smith -- that the unauthorized disclosure of these documents could put at risk the national security of the U.S., foreign relations, the safety of the U.S. military and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods.
That is some serious stuff. This is not, you know, just the overclassification -- obviously, there's a overclassification problem in the United States government. We've talked about it on the show. I was wondering, well what is exactly in these boxes? Is it just the Kim Jong-un letters, which, you know --
PARLATORE: Those weren't classified.
TAPPER: Well, OK, but I mean, my point is just like, I didn't know what it was. This sounds really serious.
PARLATORE: It does. And one of the things that I found interesting here is that they've, you know, in this 37 counts, they've separated out each of these separate documents as a separate count. So 31 counts for 31 separate individual documents.
Out of the, you know, couple of hundred that they say had markings, so that indicates to me that they've already kind of done, you know, some type of a triage to say, OK, the vast majority of these, we're not going to charge, because they don't actually --
TAPPER: But these 31 are serious.
PARLATORE: It does seem that they are saying that these 31 at least, they think they can prove that these are national defense --
TAPPER: Yes, because we're talking about hundreds if not thousands of documents, but they're always pointing to 31. That's interesting. That's a good point. I do want to ask you -- I do want to get back to the indictment in a second. But since you're a former attorney for Mr. Trump, Jim Trusty and John Rowley are now also former attorneys for Mr. Trump. They abruptly resigned today. Why? What was your reaction?
PARLATORE: Look, it's surprising and yet at the same time unsurprising. It's a difficult situation to be in. And I think that it was interesting to me that Todd Blanche is taking over. Obviously, I have spoken before about my reasons for leaving.
TAPPER: Yes, you testified before the grand jury.
PARLATORE: That was unrelated.
PARLATORE: That was unrelated to my decision to leave. But --
TAPPER: But it was about the classified documents is my point.
PARLATORE: Yes, I went in to testify about our efforts to do the other searches, to search the other properties, and the additional documents which we found. Which I'm glad to read in this thing that there is nothing related to any of the searches I did, because obviously everything we did there was --
TAPPER: But there's stuff in here suggesting that Mr. Trump either misled his attorneys or asked his attorneys -- suggested in some way for them to not be honest with the FBI. Is that a reason why you no longer work for him?
PARLATORE: No. No, no. My reasoning as I stated the first time, I came on here with Paula Reid, it was because of difficulties with, specifically Boris Epstein.
TAPPER: OK, fair enough. But we have here, I mean, in this indictment, it does seem like Mr. Trump -- and they don't mention the lawyers, they call them lawyer one, two, three. But lawyer three especially -- I think we know who she is -- giving false statements to the government. Did Mr. Trump ever ask you to say something that wasn't true?
PARLATORE: Oh no. Never, he never did that.
TAPPER: Some of the other things, there are two instances in here that the indictment goes into where Mr. Trump allegedly -- according to the indictment -- talked about some of these classified materials with individuals that clearly did not have classification. One of them we knew about already because of the excellent reporting of CNN, Paula Reid and others, it was the Mark Meadows autobiographers -- that's a whole other conversation -- coming to their office and him talking about a supposedly an attack plan on Iran.
TAPPER: And then the other is him talking about some other military related maneuver, top secret or classified, with somebody who worked for Trump's super PAC.
TAPPER: You knew about both these instances?
PARLATORE: No, the second one is something that's new to me.
TAPPER: The first one you knew about.
PARLATORE: The first one I knew about. The first one I had, you know, listened to the tape. I don't think -- you know, when you listen to the actual tape, it's a little bit more -- a little bit more open to interpretation as to whether there's an actual -- an actual document that he's talked about, or whether it's more bluster.
PARLATORE: You know, there's certain segments of that conversation that I saw that were cut out. But, you know, that was a thing that -- I quite frankly was expecting that if they had that in here, that they would have actually matched it up with a document.
PARLATORE: But apparently, the lack of a match to a document, or mention of a document, indicates to me that they probably went through all the documents that they took, and showed them to witnesses, people were in that meeting. And they were not able to identify any.
PARLATORE: And there are documents that it could theoretically be. Nothing that kind of fits on all fours with what he's describing there.
TAPPER: Right, but we're going by a Trump description, so it's not necessarily -- doesn't necessarily hew to the four corners of the page to the paper.
PARLATORE: But even in there he says it's confidential, it's secret. Which are two different classifications.
TAPPER: But he acknowledges that he can't share it with them, which is I think the point of the special counsel. He knew. He said see, as president, I could have declassified it. This is a quote. This is in the transcript. Now I can't. So, the knows that he doesn't have the power just to do it with his mind as he has stated in interviews with Fox and others.
PARLATORE: Well, he's stating that he can do it now that he's out of office. And, you know, again, whether there's an actual document or whether that's one of those, you know, Jake, I'd love to show you this, but it's classified. So I can't. You know, just trust me what's on the other side of this paper.
TAPPER: Right, but the other -- the other one of the allegations in the indictment is specifically there is a document there.
TAPPER: And he's showing it to this guy who does not have classified status, classification status.
PARLATORE: That's what it says.
TAPPER: That's shocking.
PARLATORE: If true, yeah.
TAPPER: If true, I mean, that is a real problem for the former president.
PARLATORE: If it's true. You know, and again, indictments are, you know, these are allegations --
TAPPER: Inside the documents.
PARLATORE: -- these are allegations. You know, I can't speak specifically to some of those because I haven't seen, you know, what's behind those. I know that, you know, obviously I have a career of going into court and proving that some of these things turned out not to be true.
TAPPER: Right, OK.
PARLATORE: So I always just -- because it is what I do, I have this experience, I always look at these things somewhat skeptically. But if the exchange that they're talking about Walt as far as taking all of these boxes out, putting some back, if that's something that is backed up with evidence, that's certainly a problem.
TAPPER: So let me show you this picture because this is a picture from the storage facility at Mar-a-Lago in which a bunch of documents are on the ground. I think Walt Nauta, the Trump aide who has also been indicted alerted somebody as to this. These documents according to the indictment are supposed to only be accessible and releasable -- I think is the word used in the indictment. Releasable to members of the five eyes countries.
Those are obviously an intelligence alliance between the United States, New Zealand, Australia, the U.K. and I mean, that's shocking. And look at this storage of this. Look at the storage of this. This is not exactly Fort Knox. I mean, and what you had earlier in the day with Kristen Holmes -- let's show the one -- guys in the control room -- with all the boxes on the stage in Mar-a-Lago. Because it just seems like I had assumed that there was at least some -- look at that. I mean, that's a room where everybody who is in Mar-a-Lago has access to.
TAPPER: I had assumed that there was some effort to at least put them in a room and lock them away. That looks -- that's incredibly reckless.
PARLATORE: If they knew what was in the boxes.
TAPPER: But there have been at least two Chinese national intruders.
TAPPER: Plus another con woman who pretended she was a member of the Rothschild family -- and people at home you can google this if you want, it's all out there. Who got access to Mar-a-Lago? Those are just the three we know about. I mean, this is a country club in Florida, I have no idea who had access to it. That's not secure, right?
PARLATORE: That's absolutely right, that is not secure. And that's actually one of the reasons why -- separate and apart from whether an indictment is appropriate -- one of the reasons why we were pushing to Congress to say, you know, there needs to be an amendment, you know, to the Presidential Records Act of setting up these Nara controlled facilities. Because how these documents -- and the indictment does kind of gloss over this piece a little bit. It says that he caused them to be taken to Florida, but doesn't really get into all the specifics, you know, which you and I talked about the other night.
PARLATORE: Why did they go to Mar-a-Lago? Why were they not sent to a Nara facility? Who --
TAPPER: It doesn't ever -- I mean, one of the reasons is as you know, that he doesn't have a presidential library and museum that's being built, unlike every other president. I'm not saying that as a criticism, it's just a fact. That's one of the reasons.
PARLATORE: Right. And that, you know, that all goes into if these things become mandated as opposed to, you know, being more, you know, discretionary and --
TAPPER: Absolutely the law should be clearer, there is no question about that and, look, I'm sure Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Mike Pence would all agree with you on that too. But here we are because there is a real difference between those three and this, which is, I mean, if you look at the comments made according to contemporaneous notes by Trump's attorneys, things that Trump said to his attorneys about such as, can't we just pretend -- I'm paraphrasing now -- oh, here it is. What happens if we just don't respond at all to the subpoena?
TAPPER: Or don't play with them? Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything here? Isn't it better if there are no documents? This is as memorialized by Trump attorney 1. Do you know who Trump attorney 1 is?
TAPPER: Who is that?
PARLATORE: That would be Evan.
TAPPER: That would be Evan, So, if this is Mr. Corcoran and it says it's memorialized by him does that mean he recorded it or wrote it down?
PARLATORE: These are his notes.
TAPPER: His notes. I mean, those are pretty shocking suggestions here. Don't be honest with the FBI. PARLATORE: So they -- here is part of the problem, is a lot of those
questions are really standard questions that any client will ask when they receive a subpoena. Do we have to do this? Are we required to do this? And so one of the reasons --
TAPPER: Wouldn't it be better if we lied?
PARLATORE: I mean --
TAPPER: Well, that's question three essentially. Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything here when he has hundreds of documents?
PARLATORE: That's not a great question but here is the thing --
TAPPER: Wouldn't it be better if we lied to the government is not a great question. OK, yes.
PARLATORE: And look, here's is the thing, you want clients to be able to be free to ask these questions and then as long as the answer to that question is no, we can't do that, and the client says OK --
TAPPER: Presumably, it was.
PARLATORE: Yes, that's correct.
PARLATORE: As long as the answer is no, we're not going to do that and the client says OK then it's not a problem, it's not a crime. And so, one of the, you know, I guess most disturbing things in here to me is, that they, in my opinion, improperly pierced the attorney/client privilege and then used attorney/client privileged discussions to form the basis of charges.
TAPPER: So I mean, look, I was --
PARLATORE: I do see a viable motion to dismiss.
TAPPER: That part of it.
PARLATORE: That part of it, absolutely.
TAPPER: Yes, I was surprised that he did do that as well. Although the questions are as with so many things having to do with Mr. Trump shocking but not surprising.
Last question for you because I know you have to go. This looks really bad for Donald Trump, right? I mean, you admit like you would acknowledge this indictment is based on transcripts, photographs, text messages, evidence, not just like, you know, some anonymous informant.
TAPPER: Evidence. I mean, this is -- you've seen a lot of indictments, this is a pretty strong indictment.
PARLATORE: It appears to be. It appears to be. A lot of it I am curious to see if the evidence fully backs it up, you know, again, this is an allegation.
PARLATORE: And so --
TAPPER: And he's innocent until proven guilty, absolutely.
PARLATORE: They do have to prove all these things. And also there are certain legal hurdles that they're going to have to get over with regard to, you know, interpretations of Presidential Records Act, things like that, that I'm sure will be properly briefed and argued before the court.
TAPPER: But first blush I'm sure if you're sitting there, you're like, wow, this is bad.
PARLATORE: Yes, and again, it kind of goes back to if you really did have a solid case like this, then as a prosecutor why do you have to play games and potentially lose a case. I mean, a case like this can be dismissed based on prosecutorial misconduct.
TAPPER: Well, we'll see.
PARLATORE: Why would they even -- why would they even risk it?
TAPPER: We'll see about the prosecutorial misconduct allegation. But look, I appreciate your coming here and talking to us about this.
PARLATORE: Thank you.
TAPPER: Nice to get your insights.
We're more of our breaking news coverage, former president Donald Trump indicted again, this is historic. The 2024 rivals of Mr. Trump reacting to the news as well as Trump allies. We're also going to hear from the former Attorney General and get his thoughts on how the Justice Department is handling this investigation. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome to "THE LEAD" I'm Jake Tapper. We're going to start today with our law and justice league, believe it or not. The federal indictment of Donald Trump it's historic, it's shocking, I'm jake tapper in Washington, D.C.