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Biden Set To Meet With Zelenskyy At Japan Summit; G7 Leaders Vow To Support Ukraine; Wagner Group Mercenaries Claim Capture Of Bakhmut; Mother Arrested Nearly Four Years After Newborn Found In Plastic Bag; Key Attorney In Mar-A-Lago Docs Case Leaves Trump's Legal Team; Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson To Grads: "I'm A 'Survivor' Superfan". Aired 4-5p ET
Aired May 20, 2023 - 16:00 ET
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PAULA REID, CNN HOST: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Reid in Washington. Jim Acosta has a day off.
We're following several developing stories on this busy afternoon. The US takes another step closer to running out of money to pay its debts, despite a deadline as close as twelve days away, the high stakes negotiations between the White House and Republicans have broken down and it's not clear when they will resume.
Meanwhile, President Biden will cut short his Asia trip to address the looming debt crisis. But before heading home tomorrow from the G7 summit in Japan, Biden will meet with Ukraine's president. President Zelenskyy is making a dramatic appearance at the gathering to ask world leaders for more help in the war against Russia.
Zelenskyy's plea comes as Russia claims a major victory in Ukraine. Today, the head of the mercenary Wagner Group says his fighters have captured Bakhmut after months of brutal fighting. Ukraine, though, says it still holds a small portion of the city.
CNN's Bill Mattingly is at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan. Bill, President Biden's meeting with Zelenskyy is just hours away. So, what is expected to come out of it?
BILL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think you can be certain that President Zelenskyy Volodymyr Zelenskyy will not leave that meeting empty handed. In fact, US officials say they are working on another defense assistance package will be hundreds of millions of dollars, and really focus on the types of munitions that are needed for what is expected to be a Ukrainian counter offensive that could launch in the coming weeks.
I think that's one element of this, right. We saw this over the course of the last ten days. President Zelenskyy going to European capitals in France, in Italy, Germany, in the UK, also showing up in Saudi Arabia at the Arab League Summit before making that surprise visit. Here, doing it in person. He's been through kind of a diplomatic sprint over the course of his time since landing on Saturday afternoon here, meeting with, yes, G7 leaders. Their support for Ukraine has been steadfast and extraordinarily durable over the course of the 15- month conflict.
But also meeting with some leaders whose countries have remained more neutral, even to some degree, aiding Russia in some cases, including Prime Minister of India Modi, who had a lengthy sit down and conversation with President Zelenskyy.
When we talked to US officials, Paula, they make clear that is a critical piece of his visit here. Yes, there will be defense assistance. Yes, President Biden earlier this week signed off on a US participation in training of Ukrainian pilots for F-16s, made clear that the US would not block the export of F-16s from European allies. Those are critical given the conflict that's underway, but so too is meeting with and having a chance to present his side of the equation to leaders who perhaps haven't been willing to have those conversations or have been on the sidelines up to this point.
So this is a critical moment both in the war for President Zelenskyy and for the G7, given the durability of the support up to this point. The fact that there's no end in sight here that's going to have to be maintained for months, if not longer, to come, Paula.
MACCALLUM: Phil Mattingly, stand by. We'll come back to you in a few minutes. But right now, I want to go to the fighting in Ukraine. Wagner forces say they've taken complete control of Bakhmut after months of bloodshed. Ukrainian officials claim though the fight isn't over, though they do concede the situation is critical. That makes Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit to the G7 all the more important. CNN's Nic Robertson has more.
NIC ROBERTSON, INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. Paula, Zelenskyy has always been hugely important for pushing diplomacy, for pushing Ukraine's agenda with international leaders. For more than a year, at the beginning of the war, he was speaking virtually. Now he is literally traveling the globe to make that case face to face. And it's not just with allies and partners, it's with those who are yet to be convinced that Russia is wrong and Ukraine is right.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Volodymyr Zelenskyy's diplomatic reach is lengthening, landing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on his way to the G7 in Japan, appealing to Arab League leaders to reject Russia's propaganda.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: Unfortunately, there are some in the world and here among you who torn a blind eye to those cages and illegal annexations. And I'm here so that everyone can take an honest look no matter how hard the Russians try to influence. There must still be independence.
[16:30:00] A day later among allies in Hiroshima, the furthest has been from Kyiv since the war began, maximizing the diplomatic moment, meeting with leaders individually, shoring up what has been tantalizingly beyond his grasp for so long. A commitment from the US and partners to get Ukrainian pilots, F-16 fighter jets. The news broke while he was still on his way, Zelenskyy tweeting his gratitude for the historic step, saying, this will greatly enhance our army in the sky. I count on discussing this practical implementation of this decision at the G7 summit in Hiroshima.
The G7 not just an F-16 victory lap for Zelenskyy. On the sidelines, meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, an outreach invitee of the summit who continues to help fund Putin's war by buying Russian oil and has yet to directly call out Russia's brutal aggression. Zelenskyy pushing Modi for more support and apparently getting it.
NARENDRA MODI, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA: I want to assure you that to provide a solution to your difficulties, India and I personally will definitely do everything we can.
[16:30:00] Back in Ukraine, less positive news, Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin claiming to have taken Bakhmut. Not surprising, given the heavy fighting and months of losses Ukrainians have endured there, but they are yet to call it quits on the town. Zelenskyy's diplomatic triumph trumping Prigozhin's propaganda.
(on camera): You feel better if you have an F-16?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. And every single soldier could say that, yes. It will change the gameplay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Radically.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): In what way?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every way. First of all, you have air superiority.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Reality here that every soldier knows, promises count for little until the weapons are in their hands.
(on camera): And I don't think anyone here is really expecting the F- 16s to be in the soldiers hands, so to speak, when the counter offensive kicks off. But the recognition here on the battlefield and commanders that we speak to is that this is not a fast one and done in a couple of days. This is going to be a hard fight that they hope to be able to punch through, get the initiative, take a lot of territory, but no one thinks that this is going to be over fast. Those F-16s, when they do come, are still going to be hugely important in the fight here. Paula?
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Nic Robertson, thank you. Let's continue this conversation now with CNN global affairs analyst Kim Dozier. She is a senior managing editor at the Military Times. Kim, Ukraine, of course, depends heavily on the support and weapons from G7 leaders. And today that group released a statement saying, "we reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes." How important was President Zelenskyy's visit to this gathering? KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hugely important. Also the
trip ahead of time, where he got aid promised from Germany, from Britain and the Netherlands was able to get US permission for its offer to transfer F-16 jets to Ukraine. All of this adds up to new aid pouring into the country in the coming months.
Now, there is a tale between when this kind of thing is approved and then when it finally arrives. And what Zelenskyy has been doing is making sure that these tranches of aid keep arriving to keep his troops going on the ground.
We've heard much about this spring counter offensive. There's only a month left in spring for the Ukrainian forces to launch that. But one of the reasons they've apparently delayed is they want to get the maximum number of sophisticated weapons systems into the country, combined with troops that have been trained outside the country. These are Ukrainian troops that have had a chance to absorb technological information to run these systems.
Bu also they've had time in terms of resiliency to get three hots and a cot, time to sleep, rest, have square meals in a safe environment. And now they're all coming back to the aid of their tired colleagues to really make a smash of this counter offensive, which probably is going to be the only offensive this year, considering that two or three months is usually the stand or time and offensive, then you're into the fall and the winter months when everything freezes.
REID: This gathering of G7 leaders and, of course, nonmembers who are invited, it also gives Zelenskyy a chance to make his case to those countries who have tried to remain neutral, right?
DOZIER: Yes. And especially with Russia and China trying to portray this as the West against the global south, including countries like India, Latin America, Africa, it's important for this symbolism to have those leaders at this summit together with Western leaders. For someone like Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, to meet with Zelenskyy. It's a chance to talk behind closed doors about some of the things India has been up against.
India needs Russia to offset its enemy, China. India still needs Russia as the supplier of the parts for most of its Soviet era weaponry. But Ukraine and India had good relations before this invasion, and that is the kind of thing that they would like the Ukrainians would like to remind them of and restore. So it's a way to come to an understanding, again behind closed doors.
REID: What do you expect to come out of the Biden-Zelenskyy meeting tomorrow?
DOZIER: Well, I think the important thing is for Biden to be able to reassure Zelenskyy that the weaponry will continue. There is concern both among Ukrainians and European and Western officials that Biden might not have much time left. There's concern that if there's a Donald Trump victory in 2024, or just a GOP victory, that Washington will pivot away for support for this war.
So by Biden saying yes, for instance, to the F-16s now, that leaves Ukraine in a better position in the long term. For instance, if the battle gets frozen after this latest Ukrainian offensive, Ukraine will always have those F-16s if Russia tries to attack the larger country and seize it again. Because if you might remember from the second Gulf War, those were F-16 style jets against Soviet T-72 style tanks, the kind the Russian is using now, and the F-16s won every time.
REID: Well, Russia's foreign minister says decisions made at the G7 Summit are designed to deter Russia and China. Do these shows of Western unity really, in some ways, push China and Russia closer together?
DOZIER: That has been the worry of countries like India that need Russia still as an ally for oil supplies and weapons supplies. Russia is getting weaker and weaker as time goes on in terms of those sanctions fighting and China being one of its only suppliers for many things it can't now get from elsewhere. But it's a reminder to China that if it gives any aid to Russia, like lethal aid, that there's this economic might array against them that can be really damaging to Beijing.
REID: Kim Dozier, thank you.
DOZIER: Thank you.
REID: And another topic at the G7 Summit is the US debt crisis and the possible default that could hurt economies around the world. During a meeting with Australia's prime minister, President Biden was asked about the stalled negotiations, but he said he's not concerned at all.
Phil Mattingly is now back with us from Hiroshima, Japan. Phil, a default could happen as soon as twelve days from now. So what's the level of concern there? And where do things stand right now?
MATTINGLY: It's interesting, Paula. You talked to White House officials. They maintain there is a path forward. They believe that these negotiations are both underway. And while perhaps there's of posturing or perhaps a lot of posturing right now, they believe that at some point they will kind of get down to work and be able to find that path forward.
Here's the problem, and I think it's the fact that I'm talking to you about this at all from a G7 Summit in Hiroshima that underscores the fact that this isn't just a domestic issue. The cascading effect of the first US. Default in history would be dramatic, wide ranging, and would have a tangible effect on the leaders here at the G7. And that's exactly why I posed a question to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan earlier today, where I asked him, is this something the President has had to deal with? Is this something Sullivan has heard from his counterparts? This was how he responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, US NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It is definitely a subject of interest here at the G7. Countries want to have a sense of how these negotiations are going to play out. The President has expressed confidence that he believes that we can drive to an outcome where we do avoid default. And part of the reason that he's returning home tomorrow, rather than continuing with the rest of the trip, is so that he can help lead the effort to bring it home.
This is not generating alarm or a kind of vibration in the room. I would just say that the countries are keenly interested in what is a significant story, and the President has been able to tell them, you know, that he believes that we can get to a good result here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Paula, what was interesting is Jake Sullivan saying that this hasn't been kind of creating vibrations here, it hasn't been creating any type of dramatic moments. To some degree that reflects what I've been hearing from diplomatic advisors to some of the other leaders in the lead up to this summit where they said, look, you guys do this every single year. We're kind of used to it at this point, and I think that's the risk here and that's the danger given the twelve days out at this point. What happens if this time is different? Leaders right now not willing to really engage in that but at least trying to secure reassurances from President Biden that something will get done and soon, Paula?
MATTINGLY: Phil Mattingly, thank you. And coming up, nearly four years after a newborn girl in Georgia was found abandoned in a plastic bag in the woods, police have identified and arrested the girl's mother. Details on how they found her ahead. Plus, former Trump attorney Tim Parlatore joins me live to explain why he left former President's legal team and what it means for the legal challenges Trump is now facing.
And later, what a new study is revealing about how the Big Apple is literally sinking under the weight of its skyscrapers. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
REID: Police in Lafayette, Indiana, say a three-year-old child shot and wounded two people. One of those hurt was a man wanted for murder. Police have since arrested him and are working with officials from the county where the warrant was issued. The other victim was the three- year-old's mother. Police didn't say how the child got access to the gun. They only say only one shot was fired but wounded both victims.
Now to a major development in an abandoned baby case that you may remember. A newborn girl in Georgia found wrapped in a plastic bag in the woods. Now, nearly four years later, police say they've tracked down and arrested the baby's mother.
Let's get straight to Isabel Rosales with the latest. Isabel, the mother just appeared in court. Tell us what happened.
ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, Karima Jawani is facing serious charges here, including a criminal attempt to commit murder and aggravated assault. Today she had her first appearance in front of a judge and that judge denied her bond, viewing her as a flight risk.
We also heard here in the past couple of days from the Forsyth County Sheriff, Ron Freeman, who says it was things to advance DNA that they found the baby's mother here ten months ago using DNA. They identified the baby's father. And then in the past week or so, they identified the mother as Jiwani, and arrested her as of two days ago.
The sheriff says that the investigation, their investigation also revealed a history here of hidden and surprised pregnancies. The sheriff says that they have evidence that Jiwani knew of this particular evidence -- of this particular pregnancy. They don't have evidence that the baby's father knew of the pregnancy or the abandonment of the baby. Hear what else the sheriff had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON FREEMAN, FORSYTH COUNTY, GEORGIA: Additional evidence reveals that Karima Jiwani drove along for a significant period of time after the birth of Baby India with the child in the car. And she made no effort to leave this child at any safe place where there was any remote possibility of her being located, until she decided to tie the baby in a plastic bag and throw it into the woods to die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROSALES: And we also heard from the defense attorney for Jiwani who says she's a stay at home mom, she has three minor children and has a husband. Listen to what else he's saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
E. JAY A LOT, ATTORNEY FOR KARIMA JIWANI: This woman suffered from postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. There's going to be and there are extensive medical records to demonstrate that, and ultimately expert testimony to prove that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROSALES: And the DA Penny Penn rebuked those claims, saying that postpartum depression happens in a long period of time after the birth, but this dumping of the baby happened in mere hours after the birth. She also says that they have evidence that during the interviews with investigators, Jiwani admitted to attempting to kill the baby. Obviously, Paula, they'll have to prove that in court.
REID: Isabel Rosales, thank you. And up next, just days after leaving Trump's, legal team attorney, Tim Parlatore joins me next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
REID: Special Counsel Jack Smith appears to be in the final stretch of his investigations into former President Donald Trump. Smith has been looking into the possible mishandling of classified documents and efforts to obstruct the 2020 election. Now, notable development this week, Tim Parlatore, one of Donald Trump's key attorneys, announced he is leaving the team. Now, in addition to working on the January 6 investigation, he also played a key role in the Mar-a-Lago documents probe, including organizing additional searches at Trump Tower, Bedminster and an office in Palm Beach, as well as a Florida storage unit.
Parlatore also appeared before the grand jury for several hours back in December. And Tim joins me now. Tim, thanks so much for being here with us. I think everybody wants to know after the news this week, why did you leave the former president's legal team?
TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: So, as I said at the time, it had nothing to do with the case itself for the client. The real reason is because there are certain individuals that made defending the president much harder than it needed to be. In particular, there's one individual who works for him, Boris Epstein, who had really done everything he could to try to block us, to prevent us from doing what we could to defend the President. And ultimately, it got to a point where it's difficult enough fighting against DOJ and in this case, special counsel.
But when you also have people within the tent that are also trying to undermine you, block you and really make it so that I can't do what I know that I need to do as a lawyer and when I am getting into fights like that's detracting from what is necessary to defend the client and ultimately was not in the client's best interest, so I made the decision to withdraw.
REID: Infighting is certainly nothing new in Trump world. Is there any specific incidents of something he did to, as you say, prevent you from being able to properly represent your client?
PARLATORE: Oh, sure. I mean, there was -- he served as kind of a filter to prevent us from getting information to the client, getting information from the client.
In my opinion, he was not very honest with us or with the client on certain things. There were certain things like the searches that he had attempted to interfere with.
And then more recently, as we're coming down to the end of this investigation where Jack Smith and ultimately Merrick Garland is going to make a decision as to what to do, as we put together our defense strategy to educate Merrick Garland as to how best to handle this matter, he was preventing us from engaging in that strategy.
REID: You said that Boris tried to prevent you from conducting searches. What searches were they? PARLATORE: The search at Bedminster, initially. There was a lot of
push back from him. He didn't want us doing the search. And we had to eventually overcome him.
REID: Why didn't he want you doing the search?
PARLATORE: I don't know. You know, Boris is -- you know, he is a lawyer. He spent about 18 months at a big firm doing transactional work. And I think he thinks, based on that experience, he knows better than all of us.
REID: You previously testified before the grand jury in December.
REID: Some people speculated you couldn't represent the former president because you're a witness. What is your response to that?
PARLATORE: That, unfortunately, is a lack of understanding of what happened there.
So first of all, I was not subpoenaed. What that was is the original subpoena to the office of the former president, they wanted a custodian of records to come and appear.
They really wanted somebody, a staffer from Palm Beach, to come in and talk about, you know, what searches were done so they could beat them up, and ultimately there wasn't really a good person on the staff to send.
So we made the decision, I made the decision to go in myself and to face the prosecutors and to actually speak directly to the grand jury and explain to them what was really going on here.
So as I went in and I talked about what we, as a legal team, had done in searching all the properties, that doesn't make me a material witness or anything like that.
So there is no conflict. There is no issue or -- I would expect to ever be called back in there.
In fact, there were a couple of opportunities where I offered to come back. The prosecutors didn't want me back. So it really has nothing to do with that.
REID: So you recently sent a letter with the other attorneys on the legal team to the House Select -- the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
REID: One of the arguments you make is the reason the documents ended up in Mar-a-Lago is because, at the end of any administration, particularly this one, it's chaotic.
And specifically you said that the fact that these ended up at Mar-a- Lago is, quote, "indicative of the staff's packing process and not any criminal intent by former President Trump."
The problem is, the former president and his allies and even one of your fellow attorneys have all publicly contradicted that explanation for how these things ended up down at Mar-a-Lago.
These are at least four official explanations that they have put down about the status of these documents. I want to go through them chronologically.
REID: Starting shortly after the search warrant was executed at Mar-a- Lago, some of the former president's allies came out and said that he issued a sweeping declassification order on multiple occasions so that the documents removed from the Oval Office were deemed declassified when he removed them.
Did you ever see any evidence of any such order?
PARLATORE: I never saw the order. You know, that would not be something that we would have access to, if it was a written order as opposed to an oral order. I didn't see that.
REID: So the former president, then a couple weeks later, said this to Sean Hannity:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you are the president of the United States, you can declassify by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: So the letter says that he wasn't really aware of these documents being placed because it was chaotic, they all were shipped to Mar-a-Lago.
How can you declassify something with your mind if you don't know that it's in one of these boxes?
PARLATORE: These are two unrelated concepts. So there is the issue of classification or declassification, which is separate and apart from the issue of document management and what goes in the boxes.
One of the things that we were trying to explain there is that the processes that are in play in the White House, in the Oval Office, they don't match the same level of, you know, care, if you will, that are done in the intelligence agencies and in the military.
And so marked documents, whether classified or declassified, and unclassified documents get mixed in. This is not just about when packed up to leave. This is about the four years while they are in office.
[16:35:04] Now, since we submitted this letter, we found out that the archivist testified that every administration, going back to Reagan, has had the exact same issue. That's what we were talking about there.
So the procedures for declassification is a separate issue from how these boxes were packed and how the documents were kept during that four years.
REID: Now, we know from CNN reporting this week, Jack Smith, the special counsel, is interested in this process and especially how much your former client knew and understood about the process.
Here's what one of your fellow attorney, who signed this letter, Jim Trusty, told Erin Burnett earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM TRUSTY, TRUMP ATTORNEY: He is aware of a bureaucratic process that can be used.
But at the end of his presidency, he relied on the constitutional authority as commander-in-chief, which is to take documents and take them to Mar-a-Lago while still president, as he was at the time, and to effectively declassify and personalize them.
He talked about declassifying them but he didn't need to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: So it appears that he is saying that during the presidency, former President Trump followed the process for declassifying but, towards the end of the presidency, he did not.
Does that contradict what you guys told Congress?
PARLATORE: It doesn't because, again, we are talking about document management, not declassification.
And when it comes to all the declassification procedures, one thing you have to remember, when you get a security clearance, particularly a top-secret security clearance, you get all of the training and all of the forms that you have to fill out and agreements to sign.
Presidents don't get that. Elected officials, they don't have security clearances. They gain access to this material simply by virtue of the fact that they were elected.
So when you're the president, you are not the one who is actually going into the logbook and doing the entries to declassify something. You're just saying to your staff, hey, this document here, I want declassified. Then you kind of take it with you.
Now, should the staff have followed certain procedures? Sure. But again, declassification procedures is one of the things that we were not dealing with in this letter. And in fact, I even put a footnote in there that we weren't dealing
with declassification, simply document management, moving, storage, and what narrow procedures are upon the administration change with the Presidential Records Act.
REID: So we are talking about the presidential records, the record created during the administration, that belong to the government and should be returned and also classified documents. And they were both in the boxes at Mar-a-Lago.
Last question before we break for a minute. Is there any evidence that the former president declassified the classified documents that were found in the boxes?
PARLATORE: The problem is that we don't have an inventory of what those documents are to be able to chase that down. So once DOJ gives an inventory so we would know actually what's in there, that's something we can chase down.
It's kind of shooting in the dark. We don't know what they are, and so we can't follow the paper trail about declassification.
REID: All right, we'll take a quick break and then we'll come back.
REID: We are back now with Tim Parlatore, who has recently departed from Trump's legal team.
I want to pick up where we left off.
There has been a lot of talk, and in this letter you mention, the certification done by the Trump legal team about the extent to which they searched for documents. A lot of questions about whether it was accurate.
In this letter you said, quote, "The certification stated that a search was conducted and all responsive documents found were provided. Not that the search turned up all possible materials."
Why that phrasing?
PARLATORE: Evan Corcoran used a standard form certification at the time. This is what happens. When you get a subpoena, you do your search, you send back the certification saying all responsive documents that were found were attached.
In my opinion, it probably could have been a little bit more clear to say, "all that were found."
If I were writing -- I am a little bit more of a smart guy and you know -- I would probably have said, "Dear DOJ, since you didn't give me as much time as I wanted, we did as complete of a search as we could and this is all we found within that limited period of time. You want to give me more time?"
REID: Was there any concern that the client may have been retaining additional classified documents and that's why --
PARLATORE: No. Not at all. That's standard language. He took it from a standard form certification and that is what is used.
So it's not, you know, an attempt to hide additional things, nor is it intended to be a blanket statement that nothing else remains.
If a lawyer were going to write that, they would actually put in "nothing else remains."
REID: A lot of questions in terms of these documents being brought down to Mar-a-Lago, if the nation's secrets were in any way compromised.
Former President Trump was asked at CNN's town hall if he ever shared documents with people.
Let's take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN TOWN HALL MODERATOR: Did you ever show those classified documents to anyone?
TRUMP: Not really. I would have the right to. By the way, they were declassified -
COLLINS: What do you mean, not really?
TRUMP: Not that I can think of.
Let me just tell you. I have the absolute right to do whatever I want with them. I had the right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: As his defense attorney, what is your reaction to that answer, "not really?"
PARLATORE: I was focusing on the question, did you show any classified documents to anybody, where he hasn't really admitted that there were any classified documents there because the classification --
REID: Well, he said he declassified them and he had a right to.
PARLATORE: Right. You know, we have no evidence to suggest that he showed any classified documents to anyone. And I think it was something where he got caught on the spot and gave maybe an inartful answer. Ultimately, we have no evidence that he showed the documents to anybody.
REID: Did you ask him if he showed documents that didn't go through the traditional declassification process to anyone?
PARLATORE: That would not be a discussion that would be -- even if I did have that conversation, ethically, I am not allowed to talk about my conversation with him.
REID: I mean, I am a journalist. I'm a recovering attorney. As a lawyer, what was it like watching that town hall with your client under multiple criminal investigations?
PARLATORE: It's -- look, it's different when you have a client that is talking. You know, most of my clients, when the criminal investigation is going on, that is the only most important thing in their life and they don't talk to anybody except for me and their spouse.
So it's always a little nerve-racking, especially when you know that he is going to be questioned about it.
But ultimately, I didn't think that he said anything too terrible in there. Maybe some inartful things like that, but ultimately nothing that really changes the tenor of the investigation.
REID: The special counsel's investigation, CNN recently learned that the special counsel is particularly interested in the survey footage from Mar-a-Lago, particularly what happened to it after they asked.
Are you aware of any gaps in the surveillance footage that has been provided to the special counsel?
PARLATORE: Not at all. None.
REID: And on that surveillance footage, a lower-level Trump aide is seen moving boxes out of storage. He has spoken with the investigators. They believe he may have given misstatements to investigators.
Do you think he will be charged?
PARLATORE: I don't. I don't. I think that, if there were some inartful statements made because he was a little bit confused.
Ultimately, the fact that somebody is moving boxes is not evidence of obstruction. It's evidence of an ongoing operating business. There is a lot more in that storage room than simply boxes from the White House.
And so if you have somebody moving boxes around -- I mean, if I went outside and surveilled CNN headquarters, there would be people moving things around. That's not evidence of obstruction.
And because this is during the time period when he should be reviewing the documents anyway to determine what is personal, what is presidential as part of the process, there is nothing wrong with that.
REID: I will note that Trump's chief operating officer, head of security, did testify. One of the things they wanted to ask was about a text message he received from the staffer.
If you don't know what he said, but investigators have a lot of questions about him and what is on that surveillance footage.
Wrapping up here, where do you think the special counsel's investigation is at this point?
PARLATORE: I think, at this point, they have kind of turned over every stone, interviewed every witness, and now they just have to write up the report to Merrick Garland to say this is all of the stuff we've done, this is how many millions of taxpayer dollars we spent and, ultimately, we have absolutely nothing.
REID: You don't think he is going to file any charges against anyone?
PARLATORE: I don't believe there will be any charges filed against anyone in the Mar-a-Lago case.
REID: January 6th?
PARLATORE: Perhaps some people at a different level, not related to my client.
I mean, honestly, this is one of the biggest conflicts I had about leaving the team is that I do strongly believe that we are heading for no charges at all against my client.
And I kind of -- I am a little disappointed that I had to depart before the victory party, if you will.
REID: One of the big questions is what's going on with Mark Meadows. He is the most significant witness in the January 6th investigation. Could potentially be helpful in Mar-a-Lago.
Do you have any idea what's going on with Mark Meadows in this investigation?
PARLATORE: No, I don't.
REID: Did you have any communication with his lawyers?
PARLATORE: I do not personally.
REID: Is your former client in touch with Mark Meadows about these investigations?
PARLATORE: I do not know.
REID: Is that concerning. I mean, this is a key witness. This is someone who there has been questions about whether he would cooperate against the former president? PARLATORE: So Mark Meadows was not part of my particular scope within
this. Other members of the team are dealing with that. Don't take my lack of knowledge as indicative of anything.
REID: If Trump was to be indicted, would you encourage him to postpone the trial until after the election?
PARLATORE: You know, a lot of that would depend. It would be something we'd have to consider at the time based on what the charges are, when the charges are brought. Is it something that can be brought to trial quickly? And disposed of quickly?
That would have -- that's a hypothetical. I would need more info on.
REID: We know, in Georgia, there is also another investigation. You do not represent him in that probe. But do you expect he will be charged by Fani Willis?
PARLATORE: I don't think that he should. Of course, you hear all --
REID: Of course, you don't. You're his lawyer. That's good lawyering.
PARLATORE: But based on the facts and the law, no. Based on the fact that state elected district attorneys, particularly in one-party districts from either side of the aisle, they are not really as accountable as DOJ.
And so I never put anything past, you know, state prosecutors as to what they will charge, just as Alvin Bragg went ahead and charged something that I believe he clearly shouldn't have.
REID: It sounds like you think there is a good chance he will be charged in Georgia?
PARLATORE: I think it's a possibility. I mean, I think, in Georgia, there is a very strong case to have it removed to federal court and immediately dismissed.
REID: Would you ever return to the Trump legal team?
PARLATORE: If the situation changes and the lawyers are allowed to be lawyers without obstruction from people like Boris Epstein, I would be happy to come back.
REID: We reached out to Boris to try to get a reaction to what he said.
But you asked me to give you the chance to explain where these documents went after they left the White House.
REID: To clarify that.
PARLATORE: Sure. This is an important point.
PARLATORE: I told them.
PARLATORE: This is an important point. NARA has gotten a facility in the location where every president has moved after they left the White House, except for Donald Trump.
So they moved all the boxes up to Chicago for Barack Obama. Then, going through the boxes, they found the same mixture of marked classified documents and unclassified documents.
And for George Bush, for George W. Bush, for Bill Clinton, for all of them.
For whatever reason, they chose not to get a facility in Palm Beach for President Trump and, instead, allowed the boxes to go to Mar-a- Lago, knowing, based on four decades of data, going back to Reagan, there would be a mixture of marked and unmarked documents there.
That really, to me, is the key to this whole case, is that, since NARA didn't do it him and they also don't do it for vice presidents, which is why you have documents in Delaware and Illinois -- and Indiana --
REID: Is there any reason there might not have been great communication with NARA at the end of the administration considering your client really didn't accept that he had lost?
PARLATORE: It is possible. But this is why we want wrote to the HIPSY (?) Because we want Congress to get involved to say, look, these documents should never have gone to the house.
If we modify the Presidential Records Act to put a procedure in place to mandate that NARA do what it has done as a custom for all the presidents they liked, mandate they do it for all former presidents and all former vice presidents, then this situation will not repeat.
REID: Then there's bipartisan agreement that the process at the end of the administration is a little messy, but there are a lot more questions for your client, including whether he declassified them and whether he tried to obstruct an investigation.
We'll find out with Jack Smith what he thinks at the end of his investigation.
Thank you so much for coming to help us to make sense of some of this.
PARLATORE: Thank you very much for having me.
REID: Of course.
REID: Today, here in Washington, Justice Ketanji Jackson Brown made her first commencement address since joining the Supreme Court. In advice to American University Law School graduates, the court's newest justice revealed she gets inspiration from an unlikely place, a reality TV show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KETANJI JACKSON BROWN, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I am a "Survivor" super fan.
JACKSON BROWN: I have seen every episode since the second season, and I watch it with my husband and my daughters, even now, which I will admit, it's not easy to do with the demands of my day job. But you have to set priorities, people.
If you make the most of the resources you have, use your strengths to make your mark, and play the long game in your interactions with others, you will not only survive, you will thrive.
And not only now, at the start of your career, but for the rest of your professional lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: A "Survivor" super fan. Who knew? On Sunday, the justice will deliver the commencement address at Boston University's Law School.
And a quick programming note. A look back at former President Barack Obama's historic presidency and the defining moments that shaped the decade's politics.
The CNN original series "THE 2010s" continues with "OBAMA: LEGACY ONLINE," airing tomorrow on 9:00 p.m. on CNN.
Coming up, President Biden continues his overseas trip at the G-7 summit in Japan. But back here in Washington, debt ceiling negotiations are stalling. More on that ahead, live, in the CNN NEWSROOM.