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Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-NY) is Interviewed about Trump's Indictment; Marc Short is Interviewed about Pence's Statements on Trump. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired March 31, 2023 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Motion to dismiss coming soon. Your response?
REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (D-NY): Well, my response is, nobody knows what the indictment sets. Nobody know what he's being charged with. Nobody knows what the evidence is. Nobody knows what the legal theory is. There's a tremendous amount of speculation because there have been a few leaks and people just are taking those as true. And I can tell you, as a former prosecutor I used to always say, about 50 percent of the information and leaks is accurate. You just don't know which 50 percent that is.
But if reports are true that this is more than 30 counts in the indictment, I think there's going to be more than just the Stormy Daniels hush money payment.
And so, you know, I see my colleagues on the Republican side bashing the district attorney is partisan and that this is an attack on justice. They don't know what the evidence is, so how can they actually say that legitimately and on - and with any foundation when they don't know what the charges are?
HARLOW: So, let's get back to what it appears the charges from John Miller's reporting are about business records and falsification. But let's talk about, in a moment, the sort of unprecedented nature of putting a federal charge on top of a state charge. But you just talked about some of the Republican pushback on this has been to say Alvin Bragg is politicizing this et cetera. Are you comfortable with the statements that he made about prosecuting Trump, et cetera. He said -- he boasted while he was running in 2021 for this position, it's a fact that I have sued Trump more than 100 times. Are you comfortable with those statements?
GOLDMAN: Yes, because he's talking about retrospectively. He didn't ever say that he was going to do anything. And -
HARLOW: But he said it while he was campaigning.
GOLDMAN: Yes. And -- but let's look at what he has done in office. And this is what people forget. He rejected the recommendation of very senior and experienced prosecutors to indict Donald Trump.
HARLOW: You mean like Mark Pomerantz?
GOLDMAN: Yes, to indict Donald Trump a year ago. And at the time, all -- many Republican supporters of Donald Trump said, oh, what a virtuous and valuable rule of law follower he is that he didn't indict. Now that he's indicting on a different case, all of a sudden he's a partisan hack. You can't have it both ways.
HARLOW: It's - it's not a completely different cases. It's sort of half of the case that Pomerantz was talking about.
GOLDMAN: We don't know.
HARLOW: Fair enough.
GOLDMAN: We don't know.
HARLOW: Our reporting leads to that.
GOLDMAN: But, by the way, the value - the Pomerantz case was a valuations case about his properties, about insurance fraud, about bank fraud.
HARLOW: That was part of it. That was - that was -- that was a big part of it.
But let me ask you about -- because you yourself, Congressman, have said that this case, that hush money payments and the accounting of them is not -- is not the most dangerous case the former president faces. If this is what our reporting indicates, and if this would put federal charges on stop -- on top of a state charges here, and a state crime, it is uncharted legal territory. How high -- as a prosecutor with your knowledge -- how difficult is that to get a conviction on?
GOLDMAN: Well, let's be clear that the notion of a false business records offense, becoming a felony, is very common. The question here is whether you can use the concealment of a federal crime in order to make it a felony.
GOLDMAN: But I'm confident that that will play out in the court. And if Donald Trump is right, and his lawyers are right, and this is an untested and unfounded legal theory, then they'll win a motion to dismiss. But what's really important, Poppy, is this has to play out in a court of law. It should not play out in the political sphere. And is certainly should not play out in the halls of Congress because Congress has no jurisdiction to intervene and interfere in a local prosecution, and that's what the Republicans are trying to do.
When you talk about weaponizing the government, they are trying to interfere in an ongoing prosecution in support of their leader, and not with any basis or jurisdiction.
HARLOW: By sending that letter to Bragg, et cetera, trying to -
GOLDMAN: Yes. HARLOW: Speak to him about it now.
You're an attorney, as well as a congressman. If you were Trump's attorney in this case this morning, how would you be advising him? What would you be doing?
GOLDMAN: Well, as I said long ago, Donald Trump is perhaps the most difficult client any lawyer has ever had. What I would recommend he do is shut up, but that's not what he's ever going to do. And he views all of this as political. And he views his defense as a political defense made to the public. But the problem is, this is not even like impeachment when I led the impeachment -
GOLDMAN: Because it's not a political system. It is a legal process. And when you get in the confines of a court -
GOLDMAN: All these rules are different. And you can't be making these political statements. The judge will not allow it.
HARLOW: Quickly, if indeed Michael Cohen is the star witness, he appeared before this grand jury so many times, how concerned would you be then, if you were in Bragg - on Bragg's team prosecuting this, about his credibility issues?
The fact that, you know, he has nine different counts of lying, including -- of -- including tax evasion, including one kind of lying to Congress.
GOLDMAN: Right. So, there's no question Michael Cohen brings a lot of baggage. And he is a difficult witness. And I'm sure, from the Manhattan DA's perspective, they would very much like Michael Cohen to also shut up. But what they will have evaluated in great depth is what corroborating evidence there is for Michael Cohen's testimony. What is David Pecker, from AMI, saying that is consistent with what Michael Cohen is saying? What do the documents say? What do the records say? What do the recording -- there's a recording of Michael Cohen and Donald Trump.
GOLDMAN: Let's not forget that.
HARLOW: We played it earlier (INAUDIBLE).
GOLDMAN: And so that's very, very powerful evidence. And so the evaluation you make is, of course he brings all this baggage, but what can you say to the jury? And one thing that's very powerful to the jury is to say, I pled guilty to campaign finance fraud, and I did it at the direction of Donald Trump. So, they can throw as much mud as they want at Michael Cohen, but as we used to say as a prosecutor, it bounces back from Cohen right onto Donald Trump, who directed him to do that crime.
HARLOW: Congressman Dan Goldman, thank you.
GOLDMAN: Thank you.
HARLOW: It's good to have you in person. Appreciate it.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of perspective this morning.
Also, Russia now crossing a line it has not crossed since 1986. They have arrested an American journalist on charges of espionage. President Biden actually just weighted in moment ago. And we spoke exclusively to Trevor Reed, who obviously has experience with this. He was released from a Russian prison less than a year ago. We'll show you what he said, next.
COLLINS: Moments ago, President Biden was just asked about the arrest of an American reporter for "The Wall Street Journal" who has been detained in Moscow, now accused of espionage. Biden's answer, quote, let him go. He was also asked if the U.S. would expel Russian diplomats over the matter. He said that is not the plan right now.
To bring you up to speed, Evan Gershkovich was accused of trying to steal state secrets about a Russian military factory. You can see him here. These are accusations, obviously, we should take with a grain of salt considering where they are coming from. In a statement, "The Journal" said it vehemently denies the allegation and is seeking the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter.
Few people know what Evan Gershkovich is going through right now, but one of them is a Marine veteran, Trevor Reed. He was released last April in a prisoner swap after he was detained in Russia for 985 days. I spoke to Trevor about the arrest of Evan Gershkovich and what he's going through.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: You have an experience that so few people have because, to a degree, you know what he's going through. Can you just remind us, what were your first few hours in detention like? What do you imagine that he's going through right now?
TREVOR REED, IMPRISONED IN RUSSIA FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS: The first few hours, when you're wrongfully detained, are extremely confusing. You're in a state of shock. You're also in a state of denial. You're thinking that there's no possible way that this is happening to me. Maybe it's just a nightmare. Maybe I'm going to wake up and this didn't happen.
And, unfortunately for me that, that - that kind of, you know, just surreal feeling lasted for - for basically the whole -- almost three years that I was detained.
COLLINS: Yes. And when he was - when Evan was formally arrested, his own attorney wasn't even allowed in the courtroom. You, obviously, dealt up close and personally with the Russian judicial system, as I guess we'll call it. How do you fear that he's going to be treated by them?
REED: There's no -- there's no question that the Russian judicial system is a joke. It's a facade. They violate all of their own rules, regulations, laws there. And there's no type of accountability for Russian officials who break those laws. They can basically do anything that they want. And, unfortunately, they will do whatever they want.
COLLINS: Some members of Congress have said they think he - they basically just outright called this a hostage situation. Do you agree with that?
REED: Yes, absolutely. I think that it's a -- the wrongful detention is equivalent to taking a hostage. They've clearly done this for political purposes, to gain some kind of leverage over the United States or make an example out of him to make a point. Maybe it's like a revenge thing.
COLLINS: Do you worry that that treatment, the way that they treated you, has only gotten worse the way that they're treating Americans now?
REED: Absolutely. I think that, as Russia becomes more desperate due to sanctions, their war in Ukraine failing, you know, political pressure from the United States, I think that the more desperate they get, the more brutal and kind of apathetic they're going to be regarding, you know, our citizens there.
COLLINS: What does it say to you about the state of U.S./Russia relations at this point?
REED: Taking a journalist, that kind of puts it into perspective for you how desperate the Russians have become. I think, you know, the next step after taking our journalists hostage there is basically diplomats is -- is the next level. And that says something about how far they're willing to go.
COLLINS: What do you think President Biden should do in this moment? What do you want to see from the U.S. government here?
REED: I want to see some definite action. You know, they're going to have to -- to make some type of agreement to get him out. I don't know if that's going to involve a prisoner exchange. But I think that it's our government's duty to do whatever it takes to get innocent Americans out.
And also, on that note, I want to thank you, because it's actually a year since you asked President Biden if he would meet with my parents at the White House. COLLINS: Will you meet with Trevor Reed's parents, Mr. President, while they're here in Washington?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to see if I can get to see them.
Biden: They're good -- they're good people. I haven't -- we're trying to work that out.
REED: My mom will get real angry with me if I don't -- don't mention that and say thank you from all of us.
COLLINS: Well, your parents are amazing, and that was what any reporter should do, and anything to help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It was good to see him. It was a very good interview. And it's good to say - I said it a little bit earlier, he's in good mental health right now, it appears.
COLLINS: Perspective like no one else.
HARLOW: Yes. For sure.
LEMON: Mike Pence, sitting down with CNN for an exclusive interview not long after news broke of the indictment against his former boss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Up next, we will talk to Pence's former chief of staff about the historic Trump indictment -- there he is -- live on the other side of the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you expect this to go to trial? Do you see any scenario in which you or the former president would take a plea deal?
JOE TACOPINA, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Zero. Zero. First of all, I'm not taking a plea deal to anything. But - but, you know, President Trump will not take a plea deal in this case. It's not going to happen. There's no crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That is Joe Tacopina, one of the president -- former president's attorneys saying that there's no way his client will take a plea deal after his indictment.
What does Trump's former VP and possible presidential candidate Mike Pence think about it? Here's what he told our Wolf Blitzer just last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: No one is above the law, including former presidents. Let me be clear on that point. And - and the American people know this. But in this case, and a controversy over campaign finance, I can't speak to the merits of this case at all, but I can speak to the issue emanating out of a question over campaign finance, should never have risen to the level to bring an unprecedented and historic prosecution against a former president.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: So, should Trump have been treated -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, let's discuss now with Pence's former chief of staff, Marc Short.
Marc, good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.
MARC SHORT, FORMER PENCE CHIEF OF STAFF: Don, thanks for having me. Good morning.
LEMON: IS it -- is it a contradiction to, on one hand, say that nobody, even a former president, is above the law, but then, on the other hand, say that there shouldn't be an indictment for Trump, because the details are unknown now, Marc.
SHORT: Yes, that that's fair, Don. I think there's a paradox there, but I think you're asking for the prosecutor to have some discretion. If the reality is the prosecutor has campaigned on a pledge to voters that he's going to prosecute Donald Trump regardless of the facts, and if the federal government has passed on the prosecution, and the district attorney who preceded him passed on prosecuting, but he has made a campaign promise he's going to do this, I think it does leave a lot of question in voter's minds is whether or not this is a political trial and a political persecution. So, your point's well taken. I think that no one is above the law, but I do think as well there has to be some level of prosecutorial discretion here.
HARLOW: But, in fact, didn't Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan DA, exercise that prosecutorial discretion a year ago when he decided not to pursue these charges at that time, something that infuriated some of his own prosecutors? Some of them even quit, like Mark Pomerantz, at the time.
SHORT: Yes, Poppy, I don't know. I don't know enough about the details of this particular case. But I also think that if you step back politically, I think that for President Trump, you know, it enables him to sort of cast a shadow on other perhaps more serious liabilities that he faces, whether or not from the Department of Justice or potentially in Georgia. And so it enables him to cast a shadow on potentially things that are more serious allegations than this.
HARLOW: Why? What do you -- what do you mean? I mean multiple - multiple charges can be brought at similar times by different offices.
SHORT: Because - because it - sure. Sure they can, Poppy. But I think, at the same time, from a political perspective, if - if your supporters believe that all of these are now politically charged and all are politically based, I think it does just naturally have a -- have an impact on voters to say, look, all of this is politically motivated. When I think the reality is that I, as I said, I think that there's more serious liabilities related around the document case, the January 6th cases.
COLLINS: Marc, can I ask you a question about something Pence was pressed on by Wolf Blitzer in that great interview last night.
COLLINS: He was asked if he's going to appeal this decision that we got from a judge saying that Pence must go and testify, basically shutting down the executive order argument that Trump's legal team was trying to make, a more nuanced version of the argument that Pence's legal team was trying to make. He's meeting with his attorneys today. What's the -- what's the decision on that going to be?
SHORT: Well, Kaitlan, I think it's important to note that the vice president did not allege any executive privilege over his testimony. He was fighting on a constitutional principle on Speech or Debate. And this was a landmark decision that the judge passed down this week, for the first time acknowledging the vice president of the United States is protected by that clause in the Constitution.
It was just a ruling that we received this week. He's meeting with his attorneys today. I don't think this will be long before he makes a final decision on that.
COLLINS: Will we get that today, and will you publicly say what the decision is on it?
SHORT: I think he'll make his decision public.
SHORT: I can't promise you it will be today. But it's not going to be long.
LEMON: You're putting a lot here on the political calculus versus the legal, right? So, to Kaitlan's question, do you think that Mike Pence -- I should say Vice President Mike Pence, testifying against Donald Trump in the January 6th investigation, that if you do the calculations here, that it could actually help him as a candidate, because I'm sure you'll agree, Marc, and correct me if I'm wrong, most of the country is not on the side of an insurrection of January 6th.
Most people are politically moderate in the way that they believe that what happened on January 6th was terrible, that Mike Pence was a big focus of that and could have lost his life. Don't you think that that could possibly help him if he actually said, you know what, I am going to testify. I want you to hear everything.
SHORT: You know, Don, I don't think that the political implication is going to be part of his consideration. They weren't on January 6th. Many people have argued the easiest thing for him to do politically would have been to violate his oath to the Constitution. But he stood on his principle. He stood on what his oath was. He's going to do the same here and he's going to follow the rule of law. And if he's - if a judge requires that he testify, then he will testify.
As he's said multiple times, there's nothing to hide. He's written about it publicly. He's spoken about it publicly. He's spoken about his disagreement. He's spoken about how tragic the day of January 6th was. And so I don't think there's that much new that a jury will find, but I do think it was a principle he wanted to stand on, on Speech or Debate.
LEMON: Marc, we love having you. Seriously.
SHORT: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: It's good - and it's good to see you again. We remember when you were a part of the family. I don't know if you fondly remember that, but we did like having you as part of the family.
HARLOW: Thanks, Marc.
LEMON: Thank you.
SHORT: Thanks for having me back on this morning.
LEMON: You be well. Thank you so much.
SHORT: Thanks. Appreciate it.
LEMON: And Thank you for joining us, everyone, this morning, CNN THIS MORNING. We hope you have a great weekend.
CNN's coverage of former President Donald Trump's indictment continues right after this break.