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Trump Expected to be Arraigned Tuesday; Impact of Trump Indictment on 2024; Lawmakers React to Trump Charges. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired June 09, 2023 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Bac to CNN's special coverage.
Former President Trump is expected to be arraigned Tuesday in a Maimi federal court following his historic indictment for mishandling classified documents. Now officials say law enforcement is scrambling to prepare security measures and the Justice Department is already moving additional resources to south Florida. Now, it's notable that Special Counsel Jack Smith obtained the indictment in Miami and not in Washington, D.C., to help protect the case from potential backlash over the location of the trial.
CNN's Katelyn Polantz is live for us outside the courthouse in Miami.
And, Katelyn, I guess the first question is, what can we expect to actually see on Tuesday?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Phil, we are going to be able to see what happens outside the courthouse. But as far as pictures, video of what happens inside the courthouse, that just is not something that federal court does. Federal court does not allow the sort of images of defendants inside courtrooms, walking into courtrooms, anything inside the courthouse that you even saw in the New York state arraignment of Donald Trump, where there were images of him walking down the hall into the courtroom, and then there were photographs of him inside the courtroom before the proceeding started. No video, no photos in federal court, so that is a big difference.
But this is, you know, federal property all around us. This is a pretty secure complex. And so we do expect to see a lot of security here, a lot of presence from the federal government to make sure that the former president of the United States is protected as a criminal defendant and that these grounds stay secure.
So this is quite a complex. And this is also Miami federal court. This is not a federal court that hasn't seen high security defendants before. Manuel Noriega was on trial here for seven months several years ago in the federal court in Miami. He was held here as well, a Panamanian dictator. So, this is a very - this is the sort of thing that this courthouse has already been through really high security incidents. But we're going to have to see how this plays out with Donald Trump himself. He is a defendant like no other. MATTINGLY: You know, Kate -
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I -
MATTINGLY: Oh, go ahead.
HARLOW: Go ahead. It's fine.
MATTINGLY: There's just so much going on, so many questions.
Katelyn, part of the reason I think we both want to talk to you is because you've covered this so closely, so in-depth, so in the weeds over the course of the better part of the last year to some degree. There's one element that I think we've heard more from President Trump's team over the course of the last day or two, that they seem to be focusing on. Trump attorney Jim Trusty accused the top DOJ national security lawyer of misconduct in the process of forming this indictment. Help us understand the context and potential validity of those claims.
POLANTZ: Right. Well, we're still trying to gather more information on this because it appears that there is some communication to a judge in D.C. that is under seal. So, still secret. So we can't get a full understanding of that at this time.
But what Jim Trusty did say on CNN last night is that they are very unhappy with a prosecutor on this special counsel's office team. That they believe that he may have been trying to pressure a lawyer to -- a number of witnesses in this investigation. And so that is something that we should be watching.
But in this situation, and also with the indictment itself, there is a lot of material in the court system that' I being looked at by judges, including the indictment that we just have not seen, right? It is all confidential at this time. And so there is this effort now to understand, you know, what is actually on paper versus what people are saying publicly about what's happening behind the scenes in federal court.
HARLOW: And as this happens, and as this indictment is brought, Jack Smith, the special counsel, is still in the midst of his other probe in terms of 2020 election interference, in terms of efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. That's still going on right now.
POLANTZ: Very much so. And that grand jury was meeting yesterday. We believe they heard from Newt Gingrich yesterday in that secret proceeding in Washington, D.C., and that there are others, witnesses that I've been hearing about coming in the coming days who have been asked by investigators to speak in that investigation as well.
So, that January 6th investigation around what happened at the White House after the 2020 election, leading up to the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, very much a real investigation that continues on with a very active grand jury in the Washington, D.C. federal courthouse.
HARLOW: Yes, no question about it. Katelyn, thank you.
MATTINGLY: Well, the 2024 candidates are, as you would expect, sounding off on their opponent's indictment. But there's a divide. Some are taking aim at the Justice Department. Others, Trump. How this could impact the race for the White House, coming up next.
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And what we've seen over the last several years is the weaponization of the Department of Justice against a former president. What we see is a justice system where the scales are weighted. That seems to be the outcome of where we are today. As president of the United States, I would purge all of the injustices and impurities in our system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: That was Senator Tim Scott, who is running for president against Donald Trump. And Donald Trump's 2024 GOP primary rivals, they are reacting to his second indictment. Governor Ron DeSantis and, as you just heard, Tim Scott, calling it a weaponization of the Justice Department. Vivek Ramaswamy, taking it a step further, saying he would pardon Trump, even though no one has seen the indictment yet, if Trump - if he is elected.
Now, Chris Christie declared that, quote, no one is above the law. And Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas governor, called on Trump to, quote, end his campaign.
Joining us now to discuss the impact on the race, CNN anchor and host of "The Assignment" podcast, Audie Cornish, and politics reporter at "Semafor," Shelby Talcott.
All right, Audie, you know, in moments like this it feels a little bit trite to talk about the politics except for this is the frontrunner in the Republican nomination. He is running against many of these individuals who are either attacking the Justice Department or kind of at least implicitly defending him.
Audie, what do you feel like is the political impact of this?
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the problem is we don't know. So, most of these candidates probably shouldn't say anything, to be honest. We don't know the exact charges. We don't know what the evidence will be. That will be - that will be available in court. We don't know when a court date would land. The case in New York, with Alvin Bragg, the DA there, I think the next court date is December.
All of this injects a high level of uncertainty into the race. And I think sort of jumping in prematurely to comment on that is not to anybody's benefit. But clearly these candidates think there is something they need to say just to signal, even as they're running against him, that they're on team Trump.
SHELBY TALCOTT, POLITICS REPORTER, "SEMAFOR": Yes, I completely agree with Audie. And I think there's a reason that we only saw Vivek take that step further and actually promise that he would pardon Trump. I think that these campaigns, in talking to them in the weeks leading up to this indictment, understand that this is, a, very serious, and that, b, we're not going to know all the information right away.
At the same time, there is still this kind of a Trump is the frontrunner. He has a huge base of support. And so they do feel obligated to say something. And the way that they're getting around supporting Trump, or seeming to support Trump, without outright saying, oh, well, he's innocent, you know, this is all - this is all politicalization is by just directly targeting the Department of Justice.
HARLOW: So, Audie, I am just -- Peter Baker's analysis is so good in "The New York Times" this morning because he reminds us of the quote that President Trump said when he was running against Hillary Clinton in 2016 and the whole e-mail server thing. I'm going to enforce - this is Trump - that I'm going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law. And Peter Baker writes, even in the what goes around comes around department of American politics, it is rather remarkable that the issue that helped propel Mr. Trump to the White House in the first place now threatens his -- to ruin his chances of getting back there. What do you think?
CORNISH: Yes, I mean, history has a sense of humor. I don't know. And I think part of it is like, do the -- what the voter will be asking themselves over the next couple of months is, how long do you want to be in this dialogue. How long do you want to keep talking about this issue. How long do you want to follow up on the defense and/or potential vendetta of the former president.
And, at the same time, you know, I think it's interesting that people aren't able to attack Jack Smith himself, the special counsel. They're going after sort of the whole justice community holistically. And that really speaks to how he has conducted this investigation. He's not an elected prosecutor, right. You can't point to him running for office and yelling about Trump. And I think you're -- that is going to be sort of trickier for Trump advocates to talk about over the coming weeks.
MATTINGLY: Shelby, you know, I think one of the -- and this has been a consistent dynamic, but in this case, you know, the difference between talking to Republican operatives, Republican campaigns behind the scenes about this case in particular, and about Jack Smith in particular, and obviously what they're saying publicly is very dramatic, and yet they're not saying anything about -- with the exception of Asa Hutchinson, maybe Chris Christie -- splitting with the former president at all.
You're super wired in the Republican campaign sphere. You're on the ground in Iowa talking to voters. Explain to people why Republicans don't say, this is my opponent who's about to be - or has been indicted. I'm going to light him up and try and take him down. Why not?
TALCOTT: I think it's really simple, Trump still has this massive hold over the Republican base. And even voters that I talked to -- and this is not the minority of voters, this is the majority of voters -- even the ones who don't want Trump to be president again still, at the same time, don't want to vote for someone who directly attacks him. They feel - they liked his policies. They liked what he did. They feel a little bit defensive over the former president. And so it's this constant balancing act that people running against Trump are having to deal with, and it's incredibly difficult, as we're seeing with this indictment case in particular.
HARLOW: Audie, do you think it matters to those voters, that Shelby is just talking about, what this indictment actually says? All we know now is what the charges are in the category of from his attorneys. But when we get the story behind it and the details and the quotes and the actions, politically does it matter to those that love Trump?
CORNISH: I know we ask this question a lot. And I think we all know the answer. If there's that 39 percent, 40 percent of supporters that will vote for him no matter what, you have your answer.
The difference is, this is not a media report. This is a case.
CORNISH: These are legal cases that are going to be in court, with evidence, going potentially before juries, have already been before grand juries. These are not sort of vague rumors that can be waved away.
And please don't underestimate how much work it will be for the Trump campaign to spend time on this defense, to spend time fending off all of these challenges while also trying to deal with those voters in Iowa or South Carolina or New Hampshire. You know, a campaign is no small thing. Fighting these battles on two different fronts are -- it's going to be taxing, and it will be interesting to see what effect that takes on the former president.
MATTINGLY: That's a really good point. That's -- there are a lot of elements here. And, Audie, per usual, points them out. Shelby, per usual, gives us what's actually happening behind the scenes.
HARLOW: Yes, thank you guys.
MATTINGLY: Guys, thanks so much. We really appreciate it.
HARLOW: Trump's Republican allies in the House are rushing to his defense, but so far there's been significant silence from Senate Republican leadership. We'll take you to Capitol Hill, next.
HARLOW: Well, this morning, reaction to former President Trump's historic federal indictment over classified documents falling largely along party lines. In the House, Speaker Kevin McCarthy called it a, quote, dark day, with the Republican conference chair, Elise Stefanik, and majority leader Steve Scalise also denouncing the investigation, calling it partisan.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader, Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, tweeting the rule of law is central to our integrity - to the integrity of our democracy. It must be applied without fear or favor to everyone.
Notably, though, no reaction yet from Senate leadership, including Chuck Schumer or Mitch McConnell.
Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill with more.
It is notable, right?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it's absolutely notable, Poppy, although it's not that different than what we saw in the last round in which they wanted to wait for more information about what the charges were. They wanted to see the full indictment before responding.
But in the House of Representatives, a swift response to this news last night, including from Republican leaders like Kevin McCarthy, the House speaker. He tweeted, quote, today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America. It is unconscionable for the president to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades. I and every American who believes in the rule of law stand with President Trump.
And I want to put that statement in context of the week that the speaker has had in the House of Representatives. That's because his House of Representatives, the floor of the House, was really held hostage by a flank of conservatives to his right who argued that they were unhappy with the deal that McCarthy cut with Democrats to pass that debt ceiling bill last week. This, obviously, a clear moment for McCarthy to once again reassert himself as a conservative, to show those in his right flank that he is with them, with the former president on this indictment.
There's also a swift response from people like Jim Jordan, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who, in the past, has argued potentially against taking funding from federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI. It will be interesting to see what he does in the future. He is another key ally of former President Donald Trump.
Expect more of the same over the next several hours as we get more information about this indictment.
We also should note that next week lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill, and we'll have much more to ask them in terms of what they are hearing, if they're talking to the former president, and see much more about what that defense looks like of Donald Trump.
MATTINGLY: Fox, I'm going to put you on the spot here and transfer our like six-year running Congress nerd text chain back and forth with one another onto television.
Senate Republican have been - Senate Republican leadership has not said anything. I am neither surprised by that fact, nor do I think you are. Tell -- take people behind the scenes. Why?
FOX: Yes, I mean, the relationship with Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump is non-existent, right, and has been since the insurrection on January 6th. That is part of the reason why we haven't seen a response from Mitch McConnell, although I do think that there is something to be said about people wanting more information.
We should also note that we haven't heard from John Thune, the Republican whip, who also has been very careful in the past about weighing in. The reality is that many Senate Republicans would like to move on beyond Donald Trump. They don't want to be involved in the day-to-day nitty-gritty, responding to everything that the former president does. Obviously, they are going to have to respond when they return to Washington next week. This is going to be the first question at a Republican press conference on Tuesday that lawmakers hold. But there is a reason that they are holding back, and part of that is they believe that it's just not worth defending the former president.
HARLOW: That says a lot. What is not said says a whole lot.
HARLOW: Lauren Fox, thank you for the reporting.
MATTINGLY: Thanks, buddy.
HARLOW: Next, one of President Trump's former attorneys, until very recently, in this case, by the way.
Tim Parlatore will join us live. This week he said the classified documents in the former president's possession were photocopies. We'll ask him about that and all of this now that charges have been brought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Former President Trump says he's been summoned to appear at a Miami federal courthouse Tuesday afternoon after being indicted on seven counts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why? Why did Trump take the documents? Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Willful retention or mishandling of defense information, that's part of the Espionage Act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The weaponization.