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Trump Expected to Surrender Tuesday and Face Arraignment; Trump Indicted, First Former President Criminally Charged; Security Concerns Ahead of Trump's Court Appearance. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 31, 2023 - 07:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Coming after me, they're coming after you and I'm just standing in their way.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I think the unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: If that crime was enough for me to be charged, fined, convicted and sent to prison, why am I any different than Donald Trump?

JOE TACOPINA, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Today, the rule of law in the United States of America died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is a much stronger case than people recognize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You follow the facts. It doesn't matter what party you are. It doesn't matter your background.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you do and what does the law say?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This is literally legal voodoo. This is political persecution. This is a combination of political hatred and selective prosecution on steroids.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): This is necessary, but, obviously, it's a momentous and tragic day.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, and here we are, an unprecedented moment in American history, Donald Trump now the first ex-president in the history of this country to be indicted and face criminal charges. Sources are telling CNN he is facing more than 30 counts related to business fraud here in New York. He is expected to turn himself in on Tuesday.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And the Manhattan district attorney's case is centered around the accounting of hush money payments to Stormy Daniels. We've learned about the grand jury's historic decision. We learned about that last night. Kaitlan is reporting that some members of Trump's camp were caught off guard because his legal team was speculating that maybe this case by the Manhattan D.A. was falling apart.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: So, later this hour, one of Trump's current attorneys is going to join us live. Also this morning, we want to show you just what everyone is waking up to and reading. These are some of the morning's front pages, as Don has been talking about here and showing us what everyone is looking at.

LEMON: Every major newspaper around the country, The New York Times this morning, Trump indicted above the fold, here is The Wall Street Journal, same thing, Trump indicted over hush money payment above the fold, Washington Post as well, just to show you, a grand jury indicted Trump and, of course, always the orthodox headline, you see there, the center the gathering Stormy from the New York Post here. But as you saw the full screen of all the papers there of the former president's picture and what is happening, that's in every major newspaper around the country.

Right now, I want to talk about how we got here and what is going on what we can expect going forward. I want to bring in now our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid. She has been following this from the very beginning. Good morning to you.

What are you learning about still the indictment and what we have to go through and it is still yet to be unsealed?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's amazing. Even the former president's attorneys still don't know the charges that he has been -- that have been filed under seal. Now, that's because they want to treat him the same way they would treat any other defendant. And what we are expected to see on Tuesday is that he will go before judge, he will be fingerprinted, he will be photographed. Again, they want this to be like any other case, but, Don, we know this is unlike any other case in us history.


REID (voice over): A Manhattan grand jury voting to indict former President Donald Trump Thursday. While the case is still under seal, sources tell CNN he faces more than 30 counts related to business fraud. The former president, responding to the indictment, calling the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, a disgrace and claiming the entire investigation is a witch hunt.

TACOPINA: He's ready to fight. You know, he's the toughest guy. And he was shocked, you know, because we really were -- I was shocked.

Today, the rule of law in the United States of America died.

REID: Indictment concludes a years' long probe investigating a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to remain silent about an alleged affair with Trump, an affair Trump denies relies.

The case relies in part on the testimony of Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who has in the past pleaded guilty to nine federal crimes, including lying.

COHEN: I am a convicted felon. I am a disbarred lawyer. But I also brought the documents. There's plenty of testimony corroborating testimony to go around.

REID: Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 just weeks before the 2016 presidential election. According to court filings, the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen $420,000.

CLARK BREWSTER, STORMY DANIEL'S ATTORNER: It's a fight against his rejection of truth and his manufacturing of stories that really motivated her.

REID: The Manhattan district attorney's office was also asking questions during the grand jury proceedings about Karen McDougal.


She was paid $150,000 by the company that publishes The National Enquirer to stay silent about another alleged affair with Trump. Trump has denied any affair with McDougal.

Trump's longtime friend and then chairman of The National Enquirer's parent company, David Pecker, is believed to have orchestrated the payment and was one of the last witnesses to testify before the grand jury Monday. But even Trump's potential Republican presidential rivals criticizing the indictment, Governor Ron DeSantis tweeting it's un- American and Trump's former vice president mike pence, telling CNN --

PENCE: I think the unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage.


REID (on camera): And one of the former president's attorneys tells me that the district attorney actually wanted him to surrender today. That would have been a really tight turnaround considering all the security that they would need to get in place.

LEMON: They wanted to tamp down the circus-like atmosphere that is sure to follow, so they want it instead of waiting until Tuesday over the weekend, time for people to gather and so forth, they wanted him to turn himself in so that this can be over and done with, at least the appearance.

REID: So much for that. We'll see him on Tuesday, right, in what will surely be a circus-like atmosphere.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much, Paula Reid. We will continue to follow this. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: I think it's important this morning to step back and look at how we got here. This didn't just come out of nowhere, and it was back in 2006, actually, that Trump first met both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Five years after that is when Stormy Daniels tried to sell her story to a publication known as Life and Style, but Michael Cohen, then working for Trump, threatened a lawsuit and the story was never published.

Fast forward to 2015, Trump announces that he's running for president. Of course, he came down the escalator at Trump Tower. It's the following spring that Daniels tries to sell her story again. No one bites, not even The National Enquirer.

That summer, Karen McDougal's story is caught and killed. And, remember, CNN obtained a secret audiotape at the time of Trump and Cohen discussing how all of it would play out. You hear them mentioned David, as in David Pecker of The National Enquirer, who also testified this week before the grand jury, and Allen, that's Allen Weisselberg, who was the CFO of the Trump Organization, is right now still serving a jail sentence.


COHEN: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David.

So, I'm all over that. And I spoke to Allen about it. And when it comes time for the financing, which will be awesome.

TRUMP: What financing.

COHEN: We'll have (INAUDIBLE). No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I got it. No, no, no.


COLLINS: A few months after that conversation is one of bombshell dropped in the Access Hollywood published a tape of former President Trump, that's candidate Trump at the time.

The very next day on October, 8th is when Daniels seemed to sense there was an opportunity to pitch her story once again. After years of failing to sell it, this time there was interest.

On October 10th, three days after the Access Hollywood tape, about a month before the presidential election, Michael Cohen agreed to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence. That deal threatened Daniels with severe financial penalties if she ever spoke about the alleged affair.

On the 28th, that agreement was signed 11 days before Election Day, of course, an election we now all know. Trump won. Probably all of this is the heart of what the district attorney is now looking at what they are going into.

It is remarkable the time that has lapsed here and the fact that it has culminated with this indictment that we saw.

HARLOW: The walkthrough from 2006 until where we were and where we are now is remarkable indeed. Kaitlan, thank you.

So, that's the timeline. Let's talk about what came immediately after, right, 2016. 2017, Donald Trump paid Michael Cohen back with a series of monthly checks, right, $35,000 a month, month-after-month. Different case, but when Michael Cohen was looking at charges, the DOJ said that those checks were accounted for his legal expenses, even though they were not part of any legal services that he provided to Trump that year. So now what?

Elie Honig is back, our CNN Senior Legal Analyst. Okay. Elie let's start, I guess where we are now, where we will be on Tuesday? What happens now?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Poppy. So, this is historic . This is unprecedented. But you know what? It's just a case as well. It will be titled people of the state of New York versus Donald Trump.

So, what are we going to see on Tuesday? This is what we call an arraignment. It's a first appearance in court. Donald Trump will be, in all likelihood, fingerprinted. He may have his mug shot taken as well. Mug shots, by the way, are typically not available to the public under New York State law.

At that proceeding, the indictment will be unsealed. That's what and we'll see it. That's when we'll know what the charges are. The judge will read the charges to Donald Trump, ask him to enter his plea.


He will certainly plead not guilty. And then the judge will almost certainly released Donald Trump. What we call his own recognizance, meaning come back when you will.

One important thing I want to note is this court where we're going to be is a state court. It is called somewhat confusingly New York Supreme Court. You hear Supreme Court, you think of nine justices in robes. The Supreme Court here means the trial level court in Downtown Manhattan. After that arraignment, we're going to be in to the trial process. We're going to have motions. Watch for Donald Trump's team to ask to downgrade or dismiss some of the charges. Then discovery, prosecutors have to turn over all their evidence, good and bad, to the defense and we will get to a trial. If there's a conviction, we will get to sentencing and then it's all got to go up on appeal. So, we are at the very beginning of a long process.

HARLOW: Very beginning of a very long process.

Let's talk about potential charges. Here are John Miller broke the news last night. This indictment has 30-plus counts. What could they be?

HONIG: So, we know that there's over 30 counts. That doesn't necessarily correlate with seriousness. But let's take a look at what it could be. If these charges are based on the hush money payments that Kaitlan laid out, we could be looking at a state charge for falsification of business records. The idea there is if they falsely logged these payments as attorneys' fees, that would be a misdemeanor, meaning the maximum penalties one year. No one is realistically going to go to jail on a misdemeanor. However, if prosecutors can prove that those records were falsified in order to conceal or commit some other crime, some second crime, then we're talking about a class E felony. That's the lowest class. It goes A to E. The max there will be four years, but the judge still has discretion to give no prison time.

Now, what might that other crime be? Could be a potential campaign finance crime? A little bit of a legal difficulty there, though, because it's state court, remember, what we're talking about a federal election.

HARLOW: Can you talk, though, Elie about the fact that what the prosecution is going to have to argue here to try to succeed on these charges is they're going to try to put a -- have to tie a federal crime to a state charge. And that is uncharted. It has never been done in this way ever in the history of the state of New York.

HONIG: When you hear Trump's legal team say these charges are unprecedented, to an extent, they're not. I mean, falsification of business records charges happen all the time.

HARLOW: But the combination, the way they're doing it.

HONIG: That's the unprecedented part. Again, we are in state court here and they're looking at potentially charging a violation of federal campaign law. That's going to go to the judge before it ever gets to a jury.

HARLOW: Quickly, Trump's defense?

HONIG: Trump's defense is going to be -- the main defense is going to be he is going to attack Michael Cohen, Michael Cohen is the star witness. People can decide -- the jury will decide if they believe him. Trump's team is going to point out that Michael Cohen has been convicted of perjury and fraud. Personal animosity, I mean, to say the least, Michael Cohen despises Donald Trump, and they're going to argue that he's made inconsistent prior statements. But Michael Cohen, the prosecutors are going to argue, he's backed up by other evidence, and you can believe him.

HARLOW: Or other people, which Bragg's team may need. Okay, Elie, thank you, so helpful. Don?

LEMON: All right, Elie, Poppy. New York City ramping up security this morning, they have been for a while. But yesterday and even the weeks before, they're preparing for possible protests in the wake of the former president's unprecedented indictment, the NYPD coordinating with federal law enforcement and the Secret Service to be ready for whatever might happen.

CNN's Brynn Gingras live near the Manhattan courthouse for us this morning. Good morning, Brynn. Police, other security agencies, what are they doing to prepare right now?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don. Well, this is not what the courthouse typically looks like. But to your point, this has been what it's looked like for the past almost two weeks now. Let's take a look at all the barricades that are all around this lower Manhattan courthouse.

This is where actually the district attorney's office is. This is where he, the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, comes in day and night under heavy security. But you can see there is a large police presence out here. But, again, this is something that we have been seeing for about the past two weeks.

What we've learned is that the NYPD is going to be in full uniform. That is every single member of the NYPD, whether it's rank or position, they will be in full uniform. A huge presence posturing, getting ready for what might come today, in the next days, possibilities of any protests.

I was talking to a source who said, you know, the chatter online had subsided, but, certainly, they fully expected it to possibly be ramping back up. So, they are anticipating what could be any sort of demonstrations or protests, and they are prepared for that at the ready.

And, essentially, basically, everyone is preparing, waiting again for that now indictment or rather, the arraignment to happen on Tuesday is what we're learning and, of course, all preparations for that, as well and learning also from a source that there are still discussions they have begun on how that arrangement is going to happen, where it will take place, and, of course, all of law enforcement coordinating that as well, Don.

LEMON: This is the NYPD, so unrest at your own risk. Brynn Gingras, thank you so much, I appreciate that.

COLLINS: All right. Joining us now on this historic indictment, CNN Political Analyst and New York Times Senior Political Correspondent Maggie Haberman and former associate counsel to President George W. Bush Jameel Jaffer back at the table so soon.

But, Maggie, let's start with this, because you've been doing reporting on what's happening in Trump world leading up to this, they were surprised by this, by the fact that it came down last night.


And some people have even been telling Trump maybe it would never come down at all.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, it's often hard to tell how much of this is them actually believing what they're saying and how much of this is projection and wish casting, but there's no question that people around Trump were completely caught off guard by this. They did believe, you know, the reports that the grand jury was done for a month and that they would not be coming back for several weeks. They thought they had time if this was going to happen at all, and they were all sort of exhaling, and then suddenly this happened. Trump, my understanding, has recalibrated pretty quickly. He clearly had been thinking about what he was going to say, and it's not that different than what he had been saying before. But this was not where they thought they were going to be today. There's no question about that.

LEMON: But my question is why? But, really, you know, do they really believe what the former president and really believe that if you live here in New York City, you saw the security, all the security that was ramping up, the sources were saying, was this just wishful thinking on the Trump folks part?

HABERMAN: I don't know what information they say that they were getting. They do clearly have some lines into, I think, folks -- some folks in the prosecutor's office and people around the courthouse. So, I think that they were getting bits and pieces of information, they were cobbling that together and then I think, in some cases, they were projecting and suggesting that, therefore, this is not going to happen.

But you know the grand juries are unpredictable, number one, and they don't really understand Alvin Bragg, and I think that Alvin Bragg's office, whether intentionally or not, took all the reports that there was going to be a break and use that to almost dial down the heat and then move forward.

HARLOW: One of the outstanding questions, Jameel, is, is this just about Michael Cohen's testimony and Stormy Daniels or is this about a lot more? We know that David Pecker, right, who ran the company that runs The National Enquirer, that's fine, not once but twice. And we also know that Bragg's team of prosecutors asked many questions regarding Karen McDougal and $150,000 catch and killed to silence her story.

So, when you listen to Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen's attorney, last night on CNN, saying, it's not just about one person's testimony, where does that leave you?

JAMEEL JAFFER, FORMER ASSOCIATE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, Poppy, I think that's probably right. I mean, you know, we've heard that there are 30-plus charges being brought. It's hard to imagine that many charges being brought just around the one Stormy Daniels issues. So, I think it's likely there is more going on, whether it's Karen McDougal, other business dealings going on inside the Trump Organization. Obviously, the Trump Organization convicted of tax fraud earlier last year, and so we know there was stuff going on with the organization hasn't yet been tied to the former president, but we could very well see that going forward in this case.

HARLOW: You don't think 30-plus charges could be just about Stormy Daniels, is that what you're saying?

JAFFER: I mean, it's hard to imagine. I suppose it's possible. But how many things can you bring, right? So, you've got obviously the payment, right, the tax issues related to it, the side payments to Cohen. It's hard to imagine 30 different charges coming out of that. It's possible, I suppose.

HARLOW: Unless it's every one of those checks?

JAFFER: That's right. That's actually true. It could be that.

HARLOW: Jameel Jaffer, thank you very much. Maggie Haberman, stick around, don't go far. We have a lot ahead.

We are hearing from a key witness in the case, Michael Cohen, Don talked to him his first television interview after this indictment came down, what he thinks will happen next.



LEMON: Of course, the star witness in all of this is the former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney and fixer, the star witness in this hush money case against the former president, Donald Trump, speaking directly to CNN last night. I want you to listen to what he called himself a former fixer told me and my colleague, Alisyn Camerota, about the case. Here it is.


LEMON: I want to talk about Robert Costello, because Donald Trump's team sent Robert Costello in directly to try to counteract what you were saying. What does this say about the importance of the significance of what they saw in his testimony?

COHEN: Yes, it was a mistake. You know, Bob Costello provided clearly nothing. There was no testimony that he gave that I was even needed to rebut. That's all been reported. They had me there waiting for about two hours to be a rebuttal witness, but I wasn't needed, which means that the information that he provided was worthless.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You know who else is talking about this? Donald Trump. And he basically said in this email to his supporters, Alvin Bragg is relying on the testimony of a convicted felon and a disbarred lawyer. So, what is your response to Donald Trump tonight?

COHEN: Well, he's right. I am a convicted felon. I am disbarred lawyer, but I also brought the documents. There's plenty of testimony, corroborating testimony to go around. And at the end of the day, we have an indictment today. So, clearly, that means that the information provided was more than enough for the grand jury to come back with the determination for an indictment.

By the way for Donald, since we're talking about convicted felons, see you on Tuesday, pal.

LEMON: They can coordinate court dates but they don't coordinate indictments. And they have to go when they have to go where the evidence leads. And there are things like the statute of limitations or what have you. But, technically, Fani Willis in Georgia, if she does indict, could go first. They could coordinate and allow her to go to trial first, and this could go second.

COHEN: This notion of, oh, this is a weaker case than the January 6th, I acknowledge that. January 6th was an insurrection like we haven't seen in, what, 150 years in this country, but it doesn't make this any less of a crime.

You know, I always call this the Capone theory, the Al Capone theory. They couldn't get him on murder, extortion, racketeering, bootlegging, et cetera. They got him on tax evasion. If that crime, Don, was enough for me to be charged, fined, convicted and sent to prison, why am I any different than Donald Trump?


LEMON: Back with us now, CNN Political Analyst and New York Times Senior Political Correspondent Maggie Haberman and former Associate Counsel to President George W. Bush Jameel Jaffer.

Listen, this is the interesting thing, my sources, saying the notion that this shouldn't be berth for political reasons doesn't align with the justice system. You have to go when you're ready. There are statutes of limitations and other factors that force them to move in a time that they have to move.


And, Jameel, Fani Willis could actually go first. If there are indictments in multiple jurisdictions, they can coordinate the court dates because defendants often face indictment in multiple jurisdictions. So, Georgia could actually end up going first to that whole argument about why is this first, was what they're saying it doesn't really matter, and Michael Cohen is saying similar there in that interview.

JAFFER: Right. I think that's right. Now, look, in this case, New York has a six year statute of limitations when it comes to fraud, criminal fraud. And so there's a real possibility that the reason why this happened now is because they're out of time.

HARLOW: But that was paused in 2020 by then Governor Cuomo because of COVID, and it was also -- Trump lived out of state for four years. So, they have they have more time. I don't think he was rushed by the statute of limitations.

JAFFER: Interesting. So, if that's the case, then the question is why bring it now, right? That does raise these questions about politics, right? Georgia, of course, concerned about their about their litigation. You've got the New York State attorney general. You've got a variety of things going on around the country, if course, the federal investigations into January 6th as well as the Mar-a-Lago documents, there's a lot going on.

The challenge, though, politically, is the president going to say, look at all this stuff going on. All these Democrats coming after me. I'm the victim, which is a story he's played out during his entire time in office and since he's been out.

HABERMAN: Well, it's also something that, you know, to be to be real about it, Alvin Bragg sort of gave him that when he was campaigning for this office. He spoke in stark terms about the potential of prosecuting Donald Trump. So, you are going to hear a lot about that in the coming months, and it's not surprising that you would hear a lot about that.

COLLINS: But Alvin Bragg did that here on the set. He came and did an interview with the two of you and he said, essentially, like stay tuned, basically did indicate that something could be coming here.

HABERMAN: Yes. It's not surprising. I mean, it's less surprising that he did it once he was in office, to some extent. It was surprising to a lot of people in New York who have a long history with that particular office, where one man sat in that district attorney's office for decades, Robert Morganthal, who, P.S., Donald Trump considered a personal friend, and told me in an interview in 2021, that Morganthal would not have stood for this kind of thing, which I think is really important in terms of Trump's mindset. But Bragg, during his campaign in 2021, spoke openly about the possibility of prosecuting Donald Trump. And I think you'll hear more of that.

To Don's point, we don't know what the charges are. We are not going to know for several days. So, some of this is just waiting on it.

COLLINS: Can I ask another question about your reporting yesterday, which is that as this was coming out, there were people who worked in the Trump Organization that were quietly cheering this, you said.

HABERMAN: And by quietly, I'm sure they were loudly on their end of the phone but were texting me. And there is a long trail of people who feel burned in one way or another by Donald Trump. We certainly saw that in the White House. This was a pattern that existed for decades before the Trump Organization and the number of people I heard from yesterday who worked for his company who were really happy. One person texted with the words, wonderful news. I mean, that really sort of tells you something about where these folks' heads are.

HARLOW: I was fascinated last night. As you know, Kaitlan was on the air and listening to her. I'm reading your reporting in real-time in The Times about what's happening behind the scenes at Mar-a-Lago right now.

HABERMAN: Well, like we've said, they were caught by surprise. I think some of Trump's advisers learned it from me and my colleagues that this was happening. I think they recalibrated quickly. He's very angry. It should not really surprise anybody. I don't think that means that he's throwing staplers, but I think he's really angry. Everything that you were seeing in his statement about how this is a political persecution or a political prosecution. I think, it's something that he genuinely believes. And I expect that it is going to be said with greater degrees of intensity. There's so much -- I just want to stress, we expect or it's likely that he's going to surrender on Tuesday. They're still working out how that's going to look. You know, this is not an ordinary defendant. He comes with the phalanx of Secret Service. This is going to require multiagency protection. He's not just any other defendant in reality. And so because of that, what the lead-up will look like I think is really also --

LEMON: and they're so coordinating. Listen, you bring up a very good point and Kaitlan asked you about your reporting the people who have been affected, and that's others, there are other cases, right, in the documents case, right, and, you know, just other cases, there are many out there, a number out there.

But look at this, David Pecker, who is a witness, that's Karen McDougal, the catch and kill, Dylan Howard, who worked for Pecker, Deborah Tarasoff, who has also testified, worked for Trump Org, Jeff Makani, the assistant comptroller, work directly with Allen Weisselberg, Donald Bender, the accountant there who worked for Trump, Kellyanne Conway, of course, we know who worked closely with Trump, Hope Hicks, who worked closely with Trump, and then Michael Cohen, so many people have been affected, and Robert Costello as well by this former president. Great reporting, thank you, Maggie. Thank you.

COLLINS: Thanks, Maggie. Thanks, Jameel.

HARLOW: All right. Sources tell CNN, as Maggie was just saying, that Trump is expected to turn himself in on Tuesday. They're still working out the details. We're going to talk to one of his attorneys about this unprecedented indictment.