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CNN This Morning
Meadows Testifies Before Grand Jury In Special Counsel Probe; Examining Key Witnesses In Classified Documents Case; Federal Prosecutors Using A Second Grand Jury In Florida As Part Of Trump Classified Documents Probe. 8-8:30a ET
Aired June 07, 2023 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BEN MCKENZIE, AMERICAN ACTOR: I'll just say that Twitter has a mute button, which is my favorite thing in the world. I wish the mute button existed in real life. People would just scream at you, they have no idea you can't hear them.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I want to try that. Ben McKenzie --
MCKENZIE: Wouldn't it be nice?
HARLOW: Thank you very much. And I should also note, Brian Armstrong had a Coinbase. We'd love to have any of these folks join us on the program.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.
HARLOW: Have this dialogue with them. They're always welcome. You are always welcome. Thank you very much. CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.
MIKE PENCE (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Different times call for different leadership. Today, our party and our country need a leader that will appeal as Lincoln said, to the better angels of our nature. Today, before God and my family. I'm announcing I'm running for President of the United States.
HARLOW: Good morning, everyone. It's a big day if you want to be president.
MATTINGLY: I'm still --
HARLOW: Are you jumping in?
MATTINGLY: -- waiting to check my text messages from my wife knowing that I talked to --
HARLOW: Ben -- my husband already texted and I know it's about crypto segment.
MATTINGLY: No, we're talking crypto. She's like, wait, really? HARLOW: Yes.
MATTINGLY: Yes. And we were. Watch the segment. Really good. But to your point, it is a huge day, week, month. 2024 --
HARLOW: It's like who want to be a millionaire? Who wants to be president? Right?
MATTINGLY: Top in.
HARLOW: Mike Pence does. He's in. He jumped in this morning. Chris Christie has jumped in. Doug Burgum, North Dakota. A lot of folks. This is going to be a historic battle. When we talk about pence versus his former boss, Donald Trump. Pence's brother is going to join us live in just a few minutes on the big announcement.
MATTINGLY: And the PGA Tour shocking the world of golf. Shocking the world to some degree. The Commissioner announcing a surprise partnership with Saudi-backed LIV Golf. He was reportedly blasted as a hypocrite in a heated meeting with his own players.
HARLOW: And a live look at New York City if you're waking up in the Midwest or the Northeast, it might look like this. This is smoke pouring down from the Canadian wildfires. Air quality plunging across the Northeast and the Midwest. How long is this is going to last, where is it headed? This morning of -- this hour CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.
All right. Here's where we begin this morning. Big developments in the Special Counsel's investigation of former President Donald Trump. We are now learning former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has testified before that federal grand jury. Meadows could be a key witness on multiple fronts.
MATTINGLY: And today, another witness is expected to appear before grand jury in Miami. It remains unclear why the Special Counsel is using a grand jury in southern Florida after months of relying on grand juries in Washington, D.C. All to help gather evidence and testimony in that classified document's case. He'll explain it all to us. CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez. Evan, what do we know about today's witnesses and what's going out of Florida?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, just as just exactly what we need in this story which is another mystery, right? We know that this witness any moment now is going to be walking out into the federal courthouse there in Miami. And as you pointed out, you know, the prosecutors here, the Jack Smith -- Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigators have been getting evidence, taking testimony and getting out -- gathering evidence using the grand jury here in Washington for months.
And then suddenly, recently, they've taken testimony from witnesses there in Miami. And so, we don't know exactly why. We know that at least one more witness beyond today is expected to appear down there. It is possible that prosecutors simply want to -- there are -- there are -- there are certain crimes that they're investigating that they believe could be brought down there better than in Washington.
Again, that's one of the mysteries that has emerged from all of this.
HARLOW: Elie Honig who's going to be with us in just a minute, said last hour, essentially, Mark Meadows could be the most important witness in all of this. Potentially even in both probes because he's the guy who's next to the guy.
HARLOW: Well, the questions are about all the time.
PEREZ: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think -- I think it's very clear that he is the most important witnesses. Again, he was the former chief of staff to the former president. He was there for everything. He was there when the former president was trying to figure out how to remain in power despite losing the election. He was involved in some of those phone calls, pressuring state officials to try to set aside their election results.
You have his e-mails that the January 6 committee showed the world where he discusses the plan that they ended up following, which was to try to send alternate electors and try to figure out a way again for the former president to remain in power. And on the document's investigation, again, he -- because he was chief of staff, he was involved in helping to pack up --essentially prepare that the White House for the departure of the former president.
What documents needed to be returned to the agencies. He was also a records custodian. Someone who was in touch with the National Archives when they were trying to retrieve the documents that the former president took with him. We know also guys that he has his own, you know, criminal exposure, essentially legal exposure because when he was subpoenaed to testify in Georgia, he pleaded the Fifth.
And so, all of that has led to a lot of speculation in the Trump World. Certainly, people close to the former president, that Mike -- that Mark Meadows perhaps has been providing some kind of cooperation. I'll read you just a part of the statement that we got from George Terwilliger. He's very capable lawyer who says that Mr. Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth, wherever he has a legal obligation to do so.
Again, that -- those are words that I think a lot of people around the former president had been fearing because they suspected again, that Mark Meadows has been cooperating with investigators.
MATTINGLY: And Evan, just for clarity, because I know -- I know you've got new reporting on this. The testimony was for both cases, right? Do we -- do we think that that's the case at this point?
PEREZ: That's right. We now have from the source who's told our Jamie Gangel that Mark Meadows was asked questions about both investigations. MATTINGLY: Which would make sense because they're both happening. Evan Perez, great reporting.
MATTINGLY: Yes. A lot of clarity as always. Evan Perez.
HARLOW: It's really important reporting from Evan and from Jamie Gangel because now we know that Mark Meadows has testified in both cases before Special Counsel Jack Smith. It appears that Smith is getting closer to making a decision in recommending charges on the former president. Questions about which front that would be on or both if they are recommended.
Dozens of people have testified before these grand juries. Let's take a look at a few of the key witnesses with the man I just brought up. Our Senior Legal Analyst Elie Hoenig with all of it. So, let's start, Elie, with Trump attorney Evan Corcoran who not only wrote a lot, he recorded a lot after these meetings and all of those recordings -- audio recordings are now in the hands of Jack Smith.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. This is a really unusual scenario, Poppy. So, Evan Corcoran is an attorney. He was part of Donald Trump's legal team. Now, a year ago in June of 2022, DOJ sent a subpoena to Trump's legal team saying we need you to give us all classified and sensitive government documents that you may have at Mar-a-Lago. Now Corcoran was directed by people within the Trump team to this very important storage room where there are boxes of documents.
Corcoran goes through those documents, pulls out 38 documents, hands them over to DOJ with a sworn certification that says we did our due diligence. This is all we have at Mar-a-Lago. Turned out two months later, DOJ does a search and finds over 100 more classified documents. So, prosecutors are going to be asking about that. And Poppy, as you noted, DOJ actually has Evan Corcoran's written notes and his recorded notes, even though he was the attorney for Donald Trump.
Normally that would be protected, of course, by the attorney-client privilege. But in this case, prosecutors were able to pierce through that privilege using something called the crime fraud exception, which means prosecutors convinced the judge that there could be evidence of a crime not necessarily that Evan Corcoran himself participated in but there could be evidence of a crime in those notes. It's very rare the prosecutors get them.
MATTINGLY: Can I swing back over the storage room for a second?
MATTINGLY: Can you remind us who was actually moving the boxes out at that key moment?
HONIG: Yes. So, this is again the key storage. Walt Nauta. So, Mr. Nauta was Donald Trump's valet, his body person. And while nada originally told investigators that well, I don't know anything about classified documents. Turned out later, he sort of took that back and said, actually, because he was caught on surveillance, I did move boxes into and out of this storage room. We know that in part because of surveillance video.
Also, helping out Mr. Nauta was an unknown maintenance worker whose surveillance video captures also moving boxes into and out of that storage room. Also, that same maintenance worker is the person who our reporting tells us drained this pool, the water then ran into a room that housed the servers that housed the surveillance video. Now, we don't know prosecutors surely are trying to figure out whether that was on purpose or whether that was unintentional.
So, that is the unknown maintenance worker. And then finally, we know that Matthew Calamari Senior and Junior who were in charge of security for the Trump Organization, they too have testified about the surveillance video. As the heads of security, they were in charge of maintaining it. And we have reporting that they were asked about how surveillance video was maintained, whether any of it might be missing, whether any of it could have been tampered with.
So, we're getting a sense now and I guess given Evan Perez's very interesting to reporting, we can add Mark Meadows to this list, but we're getting a sense of what the witness list might look like.
HARLOW: Elie, so grateful we have you especially on days like today.
HONIG: Anytime, thanks.
HARLOW: For making it digestible.
MATTINGLY: And joining us now is former Trump attorney Timothy Parlatore. Evan just reported that Mark Meadows has been asked about both cases, classified documents and January 6. What -- he testified about your former client. I guess my big question is, are you concerned that Mark Meadows testifying to a grand jury or would his current legal team be concerned given the scale of his knowledge about the former president and his time?
TIMOTHY PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Well, you know, certainly when I was a member of the team, I wasn't really concerned about any of these witnesses. Because, you know, while we certainly did fight issues of privilege to make sure that those things are maintained, you know, our position always was as long as everybody tells the truth, that is the best offense.
So, you know, if Mark Meadows went in, and he told everything as it actually happened, you know, I think that that's going to be perfectly fine.
MATTINGLY: Can I just quickly follow up on that? I mean, he -- between text messages that we've all seen because they were revealed by the committee between staffers that had been around him. I think there were a lot of questions raised about whether or not on several fronts, Mark Meadows had information or was aware of information or was in rooms tied to information that would present potential legal Jeopardy, not just for him, but also potentially for the former president as well.
You're saying that explicitly, not possible, there's absolutely nothing Mark Meadows could have said or known about that would be problematic?
PARLATORE: No, what I'm saying is based on the information that I have, if he goes in and tells the truth as his lawyer said that he did, then he's going to be able to place all these things in context so that people can understand that there is a -- an explanation for these things. That is very different from what the public narrative has been.
HARLOW: How do you explain defying a subpoena and keeping classified documents?
PARLATORE: Well, who defied a subpoena? You know, the information --
HARLOW: More than a hundred --
PARLATORE: -- related to this case -- sure. Well, first of all, if we look at the actual evidence in this case, as opposed to some of the leak public narrative, what happened was a subpoena was issued, a certain period of time was given for compliance, although additional time was requested. The additional time needed was not granted. Evan did the search that he was able to within the period of time that he was given.
He gave a certification saying this is what I found during that diligent search, actually signed by Christina Bobb. And then, whereas normally, you would have conversations with DOJ about continuing searches, you know, they would, you know, anytime I talk with a U.S. attorney, they would say, OK, give us what you can within that period of time, but we'd like you to keep searching. That didn't happen here.
Jay Brandt kind of cut it off and said, no, do everything by this date. He gave everything that he could by that date. And then there was no continued conversations as they would normally be with any professional U.S. Attorney's Office. And so, any of the subsequent searches that were after the time period in which Evan had, you know, to search. A lot of that could have been avoided through, you know, normal interactions.
You know, this is something that we do all the time. You know, Elie Hoenig and I had a case years ago. We've worked well together on these types of things. That is not have this DOJ case team handled it. And so, they do create this situation where you can then say that they ignored a subpoena. But that's not the reality when you get down to the brass tacks of the actual facts here.
MATTINGLY: I want to play it for you given that point. And I think this has been a consistent point you and I think some of the current legal team have made. Some sound from the former Attorney General Bill Barr, obviously, in the Trump administration. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: I think over time, people will see that this is not a case of the Department of Justice, you know, conducting a witch hunt. In fact, they approached this very delicately and with deference to the President, and this would have gotten nowhere had the President just returned the documents. But he jerked him around for a year and a half. And the question is, did he deceive them?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And I just -- I think -- and I think that's the dissonance here between what you're laying out, what the legal team has been laying out. Bill Barr is not a partisan. He is not in terms of somebody who would want to necessarily take down the former president. What's your response to that?
PARLATORE: Sure. And that's a great word to used, dissonance, because there is -- with this case, and with many cases, a dissonance between what has actually happened, what the full facts are, and what selected portions get put out into the public sphere. And so, Bill Barr is making a comment there based on the information that he's been provided which is definitely not everything. It's certainly not in context.
And it's one of the reasons why I've been willing to come out at this time. I'm a former member of the team. I'm not here to defend the president. I am here to answer your questions about, you know, what the actual facts are to the extent I can say it legally. And what the actual law is, as opposed to a lot of the spin that's been going on.
HARLOW: We've learned this week that there is a second grand jury in these probes in Florida. There are venue questions, right? This is legally part would have a alleged crime has to have happened where our grand jury is convened.
What are your thoughts on the fact the queue witness we know is going before this grand jury today? I believe, I understand that Florida may be a more desirable jury pool for the president's legal team, correct me if I'm wrong. But what do you make of the fact that there is now this second grand jury in Florida?
PARLATORE: Well, you know, I would actually kind of put it in the inverse, that D.C. is a more favorable jury pool for what Jack Smith wants. And, you know, they started that investigation in D.C. they've had all these witnesses before the D.C. grand jury. Without ever really examining is their venue in D.C. And so, I interpret this latest action is them getting down to the end trying to make a decision and saying, oh, we totally forgot one of these threshold issues. And, you know, now they have to kind of go back and fix a lot of the mistakes that they made. You know, if this was something where they were going to do a grand jury investigation, and ultimately just issue a report as opposed to an indictment. Then, there's no court in which we would be challenging the sufficiency of any venue, you know, or whether a warrant was properly issued or anything like that.
And if they are actually considering now, you know, to go the indict route, then they have to go back and fix a lot of the mistakes. And don't forget this investigation that started before Jack Smith got involved. The National Security Division, as opposed to Criminal Division started this way back in May of last year. And so, now that they have more of the professional experienced criminal prosecutors on the case, they have to go back and kind of fix these things.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Can I just briefly ask you -- we don't have a lot of time left. But did you guys ever raise why you were there issues of venue to the special counsel's team to Jack Smith at any point?
PARLATORE: Unfortunately, your question presupposes that we had actual conversations with that team. It was not something that they were, you know, really open to having conversations about anything with us. At least while I was there.
HARLOW: It's a, no?
PARLATORE: No. No, unfortunately, I would have liked to, but yes.
MATTINGLY: Well, these conversations are happening now at least happened at once.
MATTINGLY: Timothy Parlatore, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.
HARLOW: Great to have you. So, really this morning. It was supposed to be a very sunny week all week. But this morning the skies brown, very hazy, heavy smoke from Canadian wildfires is blanketing cities across the Northeast and the Midwest. Right now, the city's air quality here in Manhattan, among the worst in the entire world. Tens of millions of Americans from Minnesota to New England all the way down in North Carolina, are at risk of breathing unhealthy air today. Forecasters say we could see more and more rounds of smoke through tomorrow, at least as wildfires continue to rage out of control in Quebec and across Canada. Athena Jones is live in Manhattan. Wearing a mask as, you know, I think a lot of people will be today as they commute to and from work.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, good morning, Poppy, that's right. We've seen some people out on the street already wearing masks while they're walking their dogs. One guy was even wearing a mask while running. But we're also seeing a lot of people doing their usual morning routine out here along the West Side Highway along the Hudson River. going for a run. We saw a sightseeing boat take off a little while further, a little while ago.
In the distance, that's Jersey City, you can usually easily make out the Statue of Liberty, you can maybe just now begin to see it. But again, this is a serious issue that the New York -- New York Mayor Eric Adams, I'm just going to be talking about in a couple of hours in terms of what we can expect here. And what we know that schools, public schools here in New York are going to be opened but all outdoor activity has been cancelled because of the danger of this smoke.
We also saw several school districts in Central New York north of here, so closer to (INAUDIBLE) where these fires are burning, also cancelling outdoor activity. And look, what this really comes down to is that this air quality index level is unhealthy for sensitive people. So, young children, adults -- elderly, people who are pregnant, those who have respiratory issues or cardiovascular issues. And that is because wildfire smoke, just like burning fossil fuels and other things, has a lot of very, very tiny, dangerous pollutants that can really get into the lungs and cause major health problems. Poppy?
HARLOW: Athena, thank you for that update. I think a lot of folks are listening as they get ready to leave for work.
HARLOW: At their kids to school.
MATTINGLY: Activities school.
HARLOW: All that.
MATTINGLY: Lot of questions to that. All right, also this morning, protest turning violent outside an L.A. School District meeting. Its administrators discuss recognizing June as Pride Month. That's ahead.
HARLOW: Also, former Vice President Mike Pence making it official entering the race for the White House this morning. Pitting himself directly against his former boss Donald Trump. Well, Mike Pence is Brother Indiana Congressman Greg Pence is here to join us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Every time our nation has produced leadership that has called upon this country to do hard things, the American people have always risen to the challenge, and we will again. We just need government as good as our people to do. I believe in the American people. And I have faith. God has not done with America yet. And together, we could bring this country back and the best days for the greatest nation on Earth are yet to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: That is the announcement from former Vice President Mike Pence announcing his run for the White House and a new video released early this morning. Setting up quite a battle with his former boss Donald Trump notably missing from the video any images of former President Trump. U.S. history is only had a handful of instances where vice president is running into President. Pence will hold a rally in Des Moines, Iowa where later today his campaign says he'll lean on his conservative and religious ideals. So, also, headline in CNN Town Hall tonight, moderated by our friend Dana Bash. Joining us now from Des Moines is Mike Pence's brother, Republican Congressman Greg Pence, of Indiana. Nice to have you, thanks for coming on CNN this morning.
REP. GREG PENCE (R-IN): Good morning, Poppy and Phil.
HARLOW: Your brother has said a lot of nice things about the former President a lot of them. Is that going to change now that he's running against him? Will he directly take on Trump? We know Chris Christie will. Will your brother?
PENCE: Well, Poppy, I'm not going to spoil the evening on your -- his announcement this afternoon and then tonight, right? But I will say, you know, I have to be nice to him today. I'm his older brother as most people know, and today, he's turned 64 years old. So, I'm going to wish him happy birthday, and let him speak for himself.
HARLOW: But in all seriousness, that's not a no.
MATTINGLY: You're -- are you leaving that intentionally ambiguous?
PENCE: I honestly don't know what he's going to say. You know, that's a benefit of being the older brother, you don't have to pay attention to your younger brothers.
MATTINGLY: Somewhat tied to that, slightly more serious note. All the questions that I've long had you voted to reject the electors in one state back on January 6 Your brother has been very clear about his belief and views of his legal authority, which I think he have been backed up by lawyers on both sides of the aisle. Do you feel like you made the wrong decision there? Or do you guys still disagree about his role on January 6, and what he was either able to do or should have done?
PENCE: Well, you know, it's interesting, Phil, I get that -- I get that question a lot. My constitutional duty along with the other 434 people was to vote, when a vote was called for as the presider of the joint session between the House and the Senate. He did what he was supposed to do. So, there was no disagreement between us in my vote yes or no, or how I voted and the fact, of course, he didn't vote. He did what he was supposed to do.
HARLOW: But you did vote to object to Pennsylvania's Presidential Electoral College results in 2020. I think, you know, the build on, what Phil's getting to here, your brother said last year, he was speaking to the Federal Society in Florida, and he said it is, quote, an American, to suggest that one person could have decided the outcome. He said, under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election. Do you believe that is accurate? Do you believe or do you believe your brother did have that power? PENCE: Well, today, since it's his birthday, let's keep it about Michael, my brother, OK? I think he was referring to his position as Vice President --
PENCE: -- of the United States and whether he had the authority to do anything different than what he did. And his actions speak louder than words. He did what he said.
MATTINGLY: So, since it is your brother's birthday, are you going to endorse your brother when he announces his candidacy for president?
PENCE: I absolutely am. I'm actually going to speak this afternoon, around noon, in support of my brother. After all, my mother's watching right now, so I have to be supportive.
HARLOW: One of the things that I think is going to be really interesting to watch here is how your brother convinces a majority of Republicans who are standing behind Trump, many of whom believe Trump when he says the 2020 election, you know, was stolen from him, that is just not factually true. How does Mike Pence convince them all that they're wrong?
PENCE: Well, I think my brother -- my brother was my congressman for 12 years. He was my governor for four, and, of course, all of our Vice President for four. He -- I think he'll talk about the future. I think he always has talked about the future. And I think that's what you heard today. You know, in the good book, it says, if they're not against us, they're for us. I think my brother's for the future. He's not going to look back. He's going to talk about what his vision for America is going forward. And I think he's the right man at the right time in this country.
HARLOW: Come back, wish we had a little bit more time with you, Congressman.
MATTINGLY: I feel like you have an easy way out, you could just endorse your brother, instead of trying to weigh the other dozen candidates. This is an unfair advantage that you have in this particular (INAUDIBLE) Congressman.
PENCE: I am endorsing him.
MATTINGLY: No. I know, that's unfair. It's an easy way out. Because you don't have to try and figure it out through the other dynamics of the primaries.
PENCE: Yes, but I know him very well. I know him very well.
MATTINGLY: Yes, I appreciate it, sir. Well, we appreciate it.
PENCE: He's the right guy.
MATTINGLY: Thank you very much sir.
PENCE: OK, thank you.
HARLOW: Yes, please do come back.
PENCE: All right.
HARLOW: Tune in tonight, Dana Bash, moderate to CNN Republican Town Hall that may be even more exciting than we were expecting, given what Mike Pence's brother just said that's 9:00 p.m. Eastern, tonight. I'm going to leave you in great hands with my buddy Sara Sidner, who is here early --
SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Just got in.
HARLOW: -- so I can go watch my son graduate from preschool. Thank you, my friend. Thank you, my friend. I will see you tomorrow.
MATTINGLY: This is a personal thing?
MATTINGLY: Are you sure? Have fun and enjoy. Enjoy the graduation.
HARLOW: Thank you. OK, glad you made it.
SIDNER: All right. Now, just some more news. Golfers and fans around the world reacting to the PGA Tours announcement, a surprise announcement that is partnering with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf League. What led up to that shocking decision.
MATTINGLY: Plus, a mass shooting after high school graduation ceremony leaves two dead including an 18-year-old graduate. Live report, ahead.