Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Twice-Impeached Trump Faces Second Criminal Indictment; U.K. Prime Minister Meets with Biden on Ukraine, Economy. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 09, 2023 - 05:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. We are glad you are with us, especially today on CNN THIS MORNING.

For the first time in the history of this country, a former president is facing federal charges. Donald Trump has been indicted.

It is Friday. June 9th.

Here are the latest developments: A grand jury in Florida has indicted Trump on seven counts related to the mishandling of classified documents. His lawyer says he is facing a charge under the Espionage Act. Plus, charges of obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy, and false statements.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Now, the former president released a video reeling against the investigation, and indictment, calling it a hoax, and, quote, election interference. He says he is an innocent man.

In a post on Truth Social, Trump says he has been summoned to appear in federal court in Miami at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Law enforcement officials say they did not give any advanced warning of the indictment. Secret Service is meeting today to come up with a plan for Tuesday's court appearance.

HARLOW: Now the former president's congressional allies quick to rally to his defense as some of his 2024 campaign rivals attack the legal system, but avoided direct support, notably of the former president.

So far, the Biden White House has not commented on this historic indictment, we will get to all of it as CNN THIS MORNING's special coverage begins now.


HARLOW: So we have been talking all week, especially after this target, letter news of the target letter came, out now it has happened. History has been made.

MATTINGLY: I think what is amazing. This is so imminent. Everybody felt like this was coming, said it was coming. And now, it's here and you realize, I think the importance, depth, and history of this moment.

And it is. It's historic. It's never happened before, what happens next I think is considered a lot of anxiety, but also a lot of open questions.

HARLOW: Yes, and a lot of import for this, country the rule of law and the fact that nobody is above the law.

So, let's get to all of the news. We have team coverage this morning.

Let's begin with our Alayna Treene. She's in Bedminster, New Jersey, where the former president is currently at his golf club. We will get there in a moment, but let's start with Sara Murray with all this news in Washington.

Good morning, Sara.


I mean, there's really no way to overstate the significance of this development. It is a first for a former president to be indicted on federal charges, and what is amazing is we still have not heard from the Justice Department, from the special counsel, we still have not seen this indictment. Donald Trump broke this news himself on the social media site.


MURRAY (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump indicted, again. The special counsel investigating his alleged mishandling of classified documents indicted Trump on seven counts, including a charge under the Espionage Act, and charges related to obstruction of justice, destruction, or falsification of records, conspiracy, and making false statements.

JIM TRUSTY, TRUMP ATTORNEY: They basically break out from an Espionage Act charge which is ludicrous, under the facts of this, case I can certainly explain, it and several obstruction-based type charges and then false statement charges which are actually again, kind of a crazy stretch to some of the facts as we know it. So, there's a lot to pick out eventually from the defense side.

MURRAY: Trump denies any wrongdoing, and says the indictment is political.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I just want to tell you, I'm an innocent man. I did nothing wrong, and I will fight this out just like we have been fighting for seven years.

MURRAY: As Biden earlier Thursday denied playing any role in tipping the scales, at the Justice Department.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do you notice, I have never once -- not one single time suggested the Justice Department what they should do or not to whether to bring or charge will not bring a charge. I'm honest. MURRAY: This is the first time a former president is facing federal

criminal charges. The classified documents fight began in May 2021, when the National Archives and Records Administration started reaching out to Trump aides for missing documents.

In January 2022, Trump sent 15 boxes of documents to the National Archives, in those boxes, classified documents were uncovered. As a result, the Justice Department got involved, and a subpoena was issued for any remaining classified material. In June, Trump's lawyers handed over an additional 38 classified records.

In August, the FBI obtained a warrant, and search Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago, we are more than 100 classified records were found.


In recent weeks, CNN has learned of mounting evidence against the former president. Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows testified before the grand jury, along with at least two dozen close aides and employees from Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

The prosecution has also viewed security footage that showed just one day before federal agents searched the property last summer, Trump's body man Walt Nauta and a maintenance worker were seen moving boxes of classified material, neither has been charged with any crime.

In October, that same maintenance worker was reportedly seen draining the pool at Mar-a-Lago, flooding a room where surveillance footage was held, according to sources familiar with the matter. This incident raised suspicion for prosecutors, although no equipment was damaged in the flood.

At the end of May, CNN was also told by sources that an audio recording existed of Trump speaking to at least three people with no security clearance, at his Bedminster golf club about classified materials he had retained, a recording that could directly contradict his past statements.

TRUMP: If you are the president of the United States, you can declassify by adjusting it is declassified, even thinking about it. I have no classified documents, and, by the, way they become automatically declassified when I took them.

REPORTER: So how do you plead President Trump?

MURRAY: In April, Trump was indicted on 34 felony counts in New York for his alleged role in falsifying business records, in connection to hush money payments made in 2016, to former adult film star Stormy Daniels. Trump has pleaded not guilty.


MURRAY (on camera): Now we are still waiting to see if we are going to hear from the Justice Department today, or if this indictment could be unsealed today, we do know because Donald Trump shared, that he's expected to appear in federal court in Miami at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday. HARLOW: And, Sara, this is as you said, the second of Trump's

indictment so far. Notable this is federal, but how does this Florida federal indictment compare with the other ongoing criminal probes, including the one still by the same special counsel?

MURRAY: Yeah, Donald Trump already has one indictment under his belt at this point, but as you mentioned. That one is in Manhattan. You know, it was a case that for a while seemed like it was falling, part then came back together, did not include a lot of surprises it was related to those hush money payments.

We may get more surprises in some of these other criminal investigations, again we don't know the full details of what we will see in the statement about this classified records case. Donald Trump is still under scrutiny by the same special counsel, and the sprawling probe into the January 6th attack on the Capitol, the efforts to subvert a peaceful transfer of power. And there is a separate criminal probe that is going on down in the Atlanta area in Georgia. The district attorney there is expected to make an announcement on whether anyone, including the former president is going to face charges in August.

So there are still all of these other criminal probes that are swirling around, him even though he has now been twice indicted.

MATTINGLY: You know, Sara, it seemed like law enforcement was scrambling a little bit last night to try and get their heads around what comes next. The New York indictment was such a surreal event to watch play out live.

Do we have any sense of what next Tuesday is going to look like?

MURRAY: Well, look, I think we're going to look for a couple things on Tuesday, right? One of them is just going to be the logistics of how this all plays out. We know Donald Trump is in Bedminster right now. At some point, he is going to have to head back to Florida. He's going to have to appear in court. We'll be watching for all that to happen.

I think the other big question, of course, is the security question, the question of Donald Trump's supporters. You know, talking about a venue in Florida is a very different than talking about a courthouse that is in New York, where Donald Trump perhaps has fewer supporters than he does across the state of Florida. You know, he has made at the time, the location of his appearance, public and as you pointed out, we learned from our colleagues last night that the U.S. Marshals, the Secret Service, were not given a heads of about this.

So there is a scramble to try and prepare for law enforcement to prepare for Trump's appearance. Frankly, as Trump's attorney said, for the Trump team and prosecutors, to work out how they are going to do this, and as organized fashion as possible?

HARLOW: Yeah, that is what we heard from Jim Trusty, one of the attorneys from talking to Kaitlan last night.

Sara, thank you for your reporting.

MATTINGY: Well, former president and his advisers are, quote, jacked up and ready to fight. That is what one person who has spoken with the former president tells CNN. Before we learn about the indictment, Trump and his advisors had already started huddling at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey.

CNN's Alayna Treene is live in Bedminster this morning.

And, Alayna, what are you here right now from the Trump team?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: All right, well, good morning, Poppy and Phil. We are. We are very near to where Donald Trump and his team are huddling right now at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

And they have been expecting this indictment and bracing for it for a couple days now. They had pretaped that video that Sarah showed that Donald Trump had released on social media following news of the indictment, they had also began circulating talking points and reaching out 48 hours before to his Hill allies on Capitol Hill, some of his most fierce defenders, readying them with talking points, so that they could be ready to go and push back against this indictment once news of it dropped.


And we did see that happen.

Now I am told, I talk to some of his aides who were with him last night, people who had spoken with the president after the news of the indictment, and they said they were jacked up and ready to go as you said, Phil. They really do want to fight, this but, of course, I will say, I have covered Donald Trump for years now, and that is his first mood I think.

But we have seen in the past that could change over the next few days as the reality of what a federal indictment means sinks in for him. I will also just add that we do know in the past, Donald Trump has really not wanted to be indicted, of course, but he also doesn't want history books to look at him like this.

But in the meantime, in the short term, they think they could see a political boost from this.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, Alayna, you make a great point, there is a well played playbook for the former president and his team, whether it works with a specific instance, a question, in Bedminster, thank you so much.

HARLOW: It certainly hasn't been tested, this is a first. Let's bring in former prosecutor Jeremy Saland, and executive director of the national security institute at George Washington University Law School, Jamil Jaffer.

Good morning to you both. Thank you for being here. Jeremy, let me begin with you, let's dissect the charges here. Willful

retention of defense that is under the Espionage Act. We understand, these are -- these are all from Trump's attorneys -- obstruction, false statements, notably conspiracy which means the Department of Justice believes that there were someone else evolved there, that the former president coordinated to commit a crime with someone else.

What's striking to you?

JEREMY SALAND, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Unfortunately, it is not striking to me. This is something we saw coming and expected and are learning more, the allegation in terms of conspiracy, we use a general term that he was in cahoots with somebody, meaning they shared that same intent to take that crime and make this crime happen.

And here, one of the big issues as we know he is alleged to have these documents that he was supposed to return, he should not have had, and they were detrimental to the production or defense of the United States or aiding another country, some of which he made reference to on a recording.

So, unfortunately, none of this is overly shocking though as you just noted. We haven't seen the indictment yet, so that is yet to be seen.

MATTINGLY: Jamil, given your experience both in -- a former White House, in the national security division at the Justice Department, when you look through what we know about the charges so far, what stands out to you? What was this the most risk for the former president?

JAMIL JAFFER, FOUNDER, NATIONAL SECURITY INSTITUTE AT GWU LAW SCHOOL: Well, I think the biggest challenge here, Phil, the president has essentially admitted to having had these classified documents in his possession. We know there were over 100 documents that the Justice Department retrieved after the president was subpoenaed for those documents, so the real challenge the president faces is, what is the explanation?

He said at times he could be classified documents were thinking about them, that is not obviously true, you cannot do that. The real risk for the president here is, it is not just the willful retention of classified documents, it is also questions of obstruction, to move the boxes around. Did he engage and overact an agreement with somebody to not allow this investigation to go forward as he may have with some of his aides?

This is a politically fraught investigation both for the president and the Justice Department because they are doing in the middle of an election cycle where the president of the United States who is just about the charges is of course running for office as well.

HARLOW: We use the word classification a lot, and classified documents a lot, which is important here, but not the word under the law. When you look at the Espionage Act, it is about National Defense Information here, and the fact and willful retention of it. Can you speak -- because the Espionage Act is old. It's from 1917. But

can you speak to how that relates specifically here to what these charges say the president did?

SALAND: Well, it says that he had these confidential documents, these materials, boxers of them initially, and National Archives that we're missing these documents. They go directly for example to the issue of Iran, although I believe that document is nowhere to be found. But, whatever he was in position, of was classified, top secret, use that term, because it could really adversely affect our country.

We do not know what those, are we may never know where all of them were. So, that is where it is based in, and I would add this is not unique to the president or former president, meaning lesser people, lesser offenses have been charged for military contractors, for example, who have seen significant time. Our country takes those documents seriously, if they fall in the wrong, hands or if they are used to benefit themselves.

HARLOW: Just quickly, Jamil, if he's found -- the president is found guilty on all, or if it's connected to all of these charges, will he serve time in jail?

JAFFER: You know, there's certainly a possibility. I mean, most people convicted of charges like this have to serve some sort of amount of time, until it is likely he would. The question is, can he run for office if he's in jail? There's an open debate going on about that in the media, and on Twitter right now.

MATTINGLY: I mean, how wild is --

HARLOW: There is no playbook, right? As you were saying earlier.


MATTINGLY: Yeah, no, that is the reality we are in right now. We will ask both of you to stick around. We have a lot more to get into. Please stay with.

HARLOW: That's right. The former president says he has been summoned to appear in federal court. That will happen on Tuesday afternoon, his team says, in Miami. More on what that is actually going to look like.

And the former president's legal team is responding to that indictment, how they plan to defend him.

CNN special coverage continues after a short break.


MATTINGLY: For the first time now our nation's history, a former president is facing federal charges. Donald Trump now indicted on seven counts and the special counsel's classified documents probe. Trump says he's been told to appear in federal court Tuesday afternoon in Miami. We want to bring back former prosecutor Jeremy Saland, founder and

executive director of the National Security Institute at GWU Law School, Jamil Jaffer.

Jamil, swinging back to what we were talking about before the break.


I want you to take a listen to what Trump attorney Jim Trusty said about the charges.


TRUSTY: They are basically breaking out from an Espionage Act charge, which is ludicrous, under the facts of this case and I can certainly explain, and several obstruction based type charges, and then false statement charges which are again, a crazy stretch to some of the facts as we know it.

So there is a lot to pick out eventually from the defense side, but that appears to be the charges and appears to be something that will get off the ground on Tuesday.


MATTINGLY: Not unexpected, no defense attorney would be attacking the charges, calling them ludicrous to some degree. What you've heard from the defense so far? How do you feel they are prepared right now?

JAFFER: Look, I think they are going to argue a variety of things. They're going to throw the kitchen sink at this. One of the arguments will be the president somehow declassified these documents, either by having a standing order, by removing them, which of course if he was -- did do while as president, he can do that. He's authorized to declassify materials.

There's no evidence we have heard of thus far he did. It's hard to defend the idea though that he didn't will fully retain documents, and didn't turn them over when asked. That is what is in the statute of the Espionage Act. He clearly did those things, and so, that's the real challenge for the president. No surprise that Jim Trusty says that they're ludicrous, hard to believe though on the facts that we know thus far, that are actually ludicrous.

HARLOW: Just again for everyone waking up joining us this morning, all that we know about these charges is what has been told to us by the Trump legal team. We have not seen the indictment, but, Jeremy, when we do see this indictment, because it includes according to Trump lawyers, a conspiracy charge, wouldn't that mean it is going to be what is a speaking indictment? Meaning it is longer, it tells us a story, it doesn't just list charges, it tells us the why?

SALAND: Right, normally, an indictment is pretty bland. It sets the elements of the crime, and the dates the locations, with a speedy indictment will give you a narrative. That helps the public understand what this is about, generally not feeling bad not just of the public, but in such an important case, is significant case now or history it will take you, through and I'm sure there will be things in there that makes the prices that you won't expect, maybe we'll learn about certain people, and other evidence. But that will take us through the entire story, or nothing, entire but a lot of that story.

MATTINGLY: It is such an important point, there's so much we don't know. We don't have the indictment. We don't know what exactly is in here. We know what has been reported, but not what prosecutors have actually had physically.

HARLOW: And conspiracy means at least two.


HARLOW: At least two.

MATTINGLY: A lot more to learn. Jeremy, Jamil, thank you for helping us with what we know up to this point. Appreciate it, guys.

Well, at least one Republican rival now says Donald Trump should get out of the 2024 race. More GOP reaction just ahead.

HARLOW: Also, our friend Kaitlan Collins' exclusive sit-down with the British prime minister.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Former President Donald Trump as mentioned earlier as the front runner for the Republican nomination. If he does succeed, and you are working alongside him, what do you envision Trump-Sunak relationship would look like?





We are following the historic indictment of former President Donald Trump on seven counts and the special counsel's classified documents probe. A Trump attorney says his client has been charged with violating the Espionage Act, in addition to obstruction, conspiracy and lying to a government official. The former president released a video last, night he called himself, quote, an innocent man. He said the charge is about to, quote, election interference and at stopping's reelection.


MATTINGLY: Well, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited the White House Thursday, unveiling a new economic partnership between the U.K. and U.S. that stopped short of being a free trade agreement. President Biden also showcase the two countries' cooperation on Ukraine, the war there and the destruction of the dam in Kherson region were key questions for CNN's Kaitlan Collins when she sat down yesterday to interview the prime minister.

She also asked Prime Minister Sunak what he thought about the relationship with Donald Trump and what it would be like if Trump wins in 2024.


COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for being here.

The war on Ukraine, what is happening right now and that everyone is tracking so closely is this dam on the front lines that has collapsed. Does your government believe that Russia is behind that?

RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think it is too early to definitively say, our military and security services are working through that as are the U.S. But if it does prove to be an intentional attack by the Russians, it would fit a pattern of behavior that we have seen throughout this war which is Russia's deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure.

COLLINS: If you determine it is, Russia will there be repercussions?

SUNAK: Well, we are already supporting efforts to hold those responsible for war crimes accountable, the U.K. is working together with other allies is putting resources, funding, gathering evidence, and its' right that those who commit these appalling climbs or brought to justice and held accountable we will play our part in doing that. Just continuing to support Ukraine in the way that we are proud to have played a leadership role on providing the military support, alongside the U.S. we have obviously played very significant role.

That is what we should be doing because these values are universal, and it is right that we stand up to unprovoked illegal aggression. We do it together. That's what the U.S. and U.K. do.

COLLINS: And a lot of what that U.S. and U.K. provided in addition to other countries is to help with the counteroffensive that is expected. Do you believe this counteroffensive is Ukraine's best shot at winning this war?

SUNAK: You know, I think the first thing to say is, in one sense, Ukraine has been engaged in a counter offensive for over a year. Remember, thinking about a, year people thought this would be over, in days or weeks.

But I think Russia completely miscalculated, and the Ukrainians have been incredible in their bravery, their resilience. They have now recaptured almost half the territory.