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Trump Indicted in Classified Documents Probe; Trump Indicted on Seven Counts in Documents Case; Twice Impeached Trump Faces Second Criminal Indictment. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired June 09, 2023 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Why? Why did Trump take the documents? Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Willful retention or mishandling of defense information, that's part of the Espionage Act.
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): The weaponization of the Department of Justice against a former president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The witnesses before this grand jury are Donald Trump's people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Donald Trump himself in the audiotape.
JIM TRUSTY, TRUMP ATTORNEY: He knows there're fundamental flaws in each one of the counts.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm an innocent man. I did nothing wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes he reacts a certain way initially, and then his behavior changes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When your name is Donald Trump, you are going to get hit hard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They believe it's a witch hunt. They called it political garbage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will there be a trial before a campaign? And what other possible outcomes are there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is in for the fight of his life. This is a whole different ballgame.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning, everyone. It is the top of the hour, 07:00 A.M. here on the East Coast. We are so glad you're with us for a very historic warning in America. Phil Mattingly is here, glad to have you by my side.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for having me, big news today.
HARLOW: History was made last night when Donald Trump became the first president in American history to face federal criminal charges. These are the front pages this morning after a grand jury indicted him in the special counsel's investigation of top secret documents. Trump allegedly kept them, stashed them away, largely at Mar-a-Lago, after leaving office. His lawyer says he is facing a charge under the Espionage Act. Also charges of obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy and false statements.
MATTINGLY: And right now, the former president is at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. He says he's been ordered to appear at a federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday. It was Trump who announced the indictment himself on social media. He released a video last night declaring his innocence. We're now learning Trump recorded that video before he even heard from the Justice Department about the indictment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's election interference at the highest level. There's never been anything like what's happened. I'm an innocent man. I'm an innocent person. They come after me because now we're leading in the polls again by a lot against Biden and against the Republicans by a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Let's start with CNN's Sara Murray to break down what we're learning about the latest in the indictment. Sara, nobody has seen the indictment yet, including the former president's legal team. What do we know?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, look, this is a historic moment, the first time a former president has faced federal charges. And as you said, he broke the news of the indictment on a social media page. But Trump and his legal team still have not seen this indictment. The public still has not seen this indictment, and, incredibly, we still have not heard from the Justice Department or the special counsel.
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.
TRUSTY: They basically break out from an Espionage Act charge, which is ludicrous under the facts of this case, and 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 just from the facts as we know it. So, there's a lot to pick at eventually from the defense side.
MURRAY: Trump denies any wrongdoing and says the indictment is political.
TRUMP: I just want to tell you, I'm an innocent man, I did nothing wrong, and we will fight this out just like we've been fighting for seven years.
MURRAY: As Biden earlier Thursday denied playing any role in tipping the scales at the Justice Department.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Do you notice I have never once, not one single time suggested the Justice Department what they should do or not do, whether to bringing a charge or not bringing 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 searched Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago, where 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 bodyman, 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 suspicions 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're the President of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it.
I have no classified documents. And, by the way, they become automatically declassified when I took them.
REPORTER: How did 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, Trump is expected to appear in federal court in Miami at 03:00 P.M. on Tuesday. But, guys, look, the Trump team was bracing for this all day yesterday. They were getting ready for this to come down. My colleagues, Alayna Treene and Kristen Holmes, reporting that even before the news of the indictment made its way to Trump, they had already recorded that video statement that you saw in this piece.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're a nation in decline.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: The inevitability was certainly apparent.
HARLOW: Yes. Well, they believed it because they taped that.
MATTINGLY: Yes, seismic moment. Sara Murray, thanks so much.
Let's take a step back, because I think this is important in this moment, in such a huge moment, to actually take a look at how we ended up here.
CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig, he was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, former federal and New Jersey state prosecutor. All right, we don't have the indictment physically, nor does the Trump legal team. What do we know about the charges?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, there is an indictment. You're right, Phil. We've not seen it. But we do know quite a bit about what is in there from Donald Trump's legal team. First of all, we know there are seven counts in this indictment. Federal indictments can be as short as one count. There can be several dozen counts. We know that one of the counts in this indictment is for willful retention of defense information.
Now, that's part of the Espionage Act. You're going to hear references to the Espionage Act, but that word tends to have a broader meaning that we sometimes associate with it. All it means here is that Donald Trump intentionally retained, held onto defense information. It doesn't actually matter under this law whether that information was classified or whether it was ever declassified, as long as it relates to information relating to the defense.
We also know that there is a charge relating to obstruction. Any effort by Donald Trump, any effort ordered by Donald Trump to interfere with the investigation in any way will be obstruction of justice. We also know there's a charge for destruction or falsification of records. Let's keep in mind, this could relate to a certification that Trump's team submitted to DOJ at the point when they served a subpoena response. They said, we searched everywhere in Mar-a-Lago. This is all we found. It turned out there were many, many more documents. That certification was false but was it intentionally false? The prosecutors alleged that it was.
Next, we have a charge of conspiracy. Now, conspiracy simply means an agreement, a meeting of the minds between two or more people. Really important, because that tells us Donald Trump, according to prosecutors, did not act alone. There was at least one other person who knowingly agreed to commit a crime with him.
And the last charge that we know about relates to false statements. It's not a crime to make false statements the public. It is a crime if you make a false statement to DOJ or the FBI. So, I think that's where this one is going.
HARLOW: So, where do we go next? What happens next?
HONIG: Yes. So, here's the process as it will play out. The next time in court -- the first time in court in this case -- will be at the arraignment, the initial appearance, that's Tuesday at 03:00 P.M. down in Florida. After that, prosecutors will have to turn over discovery. That means, as a prosecutor, you have to give over all your information, all your evidence to the defense.
Then Donald Trump's defense team will bring motions. Rest assured, they will make motions. They'll try to get the case dismissed. They've already told us they're going to be arguing there's prosecutorial misconduct.
Then at some point, we will have a trial query whether we will get that in before the 2024 election or not. That's going to be a really important issue. Of course, only if there's a conviction, we'll then move to sentencing. And only if there's a conviction, we will then move to appeal.
MATTINGLY: Elie, I'm not asking you this in the political context, but in the legal context, could this actually prevent the former president from becoming president again?
HONIG: So, the short answer is no, Phil. Believe it or not, someone can run for and be president while they're under indictment. Someone can run for and be president even if they've been convicted, theoretically even from prison.
I will say this. There's one law that could be in play here. It's not one of the ones that we know is in the indictment, but it was part of what got them the search warrant that says if a person is convicted of this, he's disqualified from holding federal office. Not clear whether that provision is constitutional.
And in any event, it would have to go all the way through trial and appeal before that bar could be put in place.
HARLOW: Fascinating. Elie Honig, thank you very much. Stay with us, actually.
The former president will appear in court in Tuesday in Miami. That brings a slew of concerns, right, in terms of just how do you do this right in South Florida.
John Miller, CNN Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst, joins us, also our Katelyn Polantz is live outside of that courthouse in Miami.
Katelyn, to you first. What do we know about what is going to happen on Tuesday afternoon?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPRTER: Well, we're going to be watching to see just how much we're going to be able to see of Donald Trump himself as a criminal defendant coming into this court to enter his initial appearance, full expectation he would enter a plea of not guilty at that time.
And whenever he does arrive here, this is a federal complex that is surrounding this Miami federal courthouse here. And so there is question, do they bring him in a backdoor and we never see him on camera or have video or photos of him? Because once he's inside the building, there is none of that.
It is a very locked down scenario in any federal court building where you have to be there in person to witness what's going on if you want to see exactly what a defendant looks like, what a judge looks like, what the rooms look like. And so that is how federal court works.
We're still waiting to see what paperwork comes out as well, as far as the indictment, and any other things that the Justice Department may have to say to the court at this time, that is still a question. But we also know that there's a lot of provisions that are being put in place by federal security officers.
The Secret Service and the U.S. Marshals Service were both caught off guard by this announcement yesterday, but we do know that the Secret Service is going to be meeting with staff today to make preparations for the former president, a person they still have in their protective custody or protection, at least.
MATTINGLY: John Miller, Katelyn gets at the question I want to ask because it's going to take coordination with the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals. How does an arrest of a former president or this moment for a former president when it comes to the FBI, when it comes to federal law enforcement work? What are we going to see?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So, I mean, we've had a little preview of that because we went through this in New York City, although that wasn't a federal arrest.
So, first, this is going to come in three parts. One is getting him there. So, he's in Bedminster, New Jersey. They're going to have to fly down to Miami. Is he going to be coming from Palm Beach or straight to the courthouse? But that's going to be a Secret Service operation, not a thing where the FBI goes to Bedminster, puts him in handcuffs and takes -- it's going to be a surrender to the FBI. He's going to be presented by his lawyers.
But then there's a tried and true procedure. And this is where it gets a little interesting, because, normally, you'd be taken to the FBI office. They'd fill out the arrest form. They would take your prints there. They would do your mug shots there. Then they would transport you to the courthouse. The courthouse in Miami is a great distance from the FBI field office.
So, what we're going to be looking for is between the Secret Service, the FBI and the court, are they going to change any of these procedures? Will they do the arrest processing at the courthouse by altering that? Will there be a mug shot? Of course, procedure says there will be, but the last time in the New York indictment, they skipped that part of the process.
MATTINGLY: Is there precedent for changing procedures in a high- profile case?
HARLOW: There's not precedent for any of these.
MATTINGLY: There's also not precedent for anything we're dealing with right now.
MILLER: I mean, the idea of -- I don't remember a discussion where they said, well, we're going to skip the mug shot or the fingerprinting or anything else in a federal case, yet they did that in the New York case. And then the third piece, as Katelyn said, is going to be in the courtroom, which is he'll be presented to the magistrate. They'll waive the -- you know, the hearing for identification. Everybody will stipulate, he's Donald Trump. And then it will get right down to, have you seen the charges? Will they unseal the indictment, or has that been done already before that? And then the question of remand, which is going to be he's going to release on his own recognizance.
So, as Katelyn Poland said, he may come in through the garage of the courthouse, go up, have a hearing, go out through the garage of the courthouse. We may actually never see a picture of him. We learned from the last time, the New York case, that when he answered that in a public forum, he did it on his own turf at Mar-a-Lago, in his own forum. So, this is a strategy question for the Trump Team.
HONIG: Just to add to that, one of the things that I'm looking for is when is DOJ going to unseal this indictment? Right now, it's under seal, meaning the only people who have seen it are prosecutors, grand jurors, and court clerks. Even Trump's team hasn't seen it. They gave the information that we just talked about because they were given summons, which is basically a one-page worksheet.
Now, the decision whether to unseal is entirely up to prosecutors.
It's entirely up to Jack Smith and his team. And they have to unseal it at the arraignment. But they have the ability to unseal it today if they want. And the reasons, by the way, you typically seal an indictment, you're afraid the guy's going to take off, become a fugitive, Donald Trump is not doing that. You're afraid he's a physical danger to the community? Donald Trump is not that. So, I think they're going to have to have a discussion today about do we unseal this thing before Tuesday?
HARLOW: That's really interesting. Katelyn, to you. What's so interesting also is that there is a potential, at least conflict for the Secret Service here, because 20 Secret Service agents on Trump's detail testified in this investigation, and now they're organizing his surrender. What do we need to know about that?
POLANTZ: Right. So, part of the question here -- I mean, we don't know exactly what the indictment is going to say, but part of the question here in this investigation is what actually happened on the grounds around Mar-a-Lago, a place where the Secret Service exists and does work regularly protecting the former president.
And so whenever the investigation has moved in any direction, they have talked to every single person that you can think of around Mar-a- Lago, staff aides, attorneys that work for Donald Trump, and, of course, many Secret Service agents in the grand jury that we know of.
Now, I have been told that much of the legal representation of the Secret Service is separated from any legal representation of Donald Trump and others who are in that bubble of communication. So, it is not totally clear how much information, because the Secret Service gets their own lawyers for their agents.
But whether those people are part of a case and would potentially be called as witnesses at a trial, that is a really possible question that we're just going to have to wait and see what the indictment says to see if that's plausible, and then also, as it moves toward trial, the Secret Service will have to figure out what they're doing about that.
MATTINGLY: It really is. Elie, Katelyn, John Miller, a lot more ahead. Thanks, guys.
HARLOW: One of former President Trump's previous attorneys in this case, Tim Parlatore, is going to join us, live his reaction to this indictment and what Trump's camp will likely use in their defense. That's ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUSTY: His reaction was personal, but it wasn't. He thought about it and said, this is just a sad day. I can't believe I've been indicted. You know, those are kind of my summary words of what he had to say. But at the same time, he immediately recognizes the historic nature of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: That was Donald Trump's current attorney, Jim Trusty, talking about his client's reaction to being indicted on multiple federal charges. The former president has been charged with seven counts in the special counsel's classified documents probe. He is facing a charge under the Espionage Act, according to his attorney, as well as charges of obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy, and false statements. It marks the first time a former president has faced federal charges.
Let's bring in now one of Donald Trump's former attorneys in this case until pretty recently, Tim Parlatore. He testified before the grand jury in the investigation in December. Tim, thank you for your time this morning. We appreciate you joining us.
You were skeptical that charges would be brought. You certainly have made clear that you didn't think that they should be brought. Now that we have seven counts here, which do you think poses the most harm to your former client?
TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: You know, obviously, you focus on the first count here, which is the willful retention. That is really going to be where everything rises and falls, because all of these other charges that they're talking about really are kind of in support or collateral to that because it's obstruction, false statements, but that still all relates back to that one charge of the willful retentions. I think that's going to be really where a lot of the focus is going to be.
MATTINGLY: Along those lines, do you know the substance -- do you think you know the substance of the documents are in question here, whether or not they may have contained the type of information that would have jeopardized national security?
PARLATORE: Yes, I know what some of them are. I certainly know what was in the 15 boxes that were returned to the National Archives. As to what the FBI sees during the raid, that's something we never got an inventory on. We never got a readout on any of what that was. So, that I don't know. And, quite frankly, all of the ones that we returned in the subsequent searches, because the subpoena was worded in a way that we weren't allowed to keep an inventory or copies of anything we returned, our team basically went through and anything that said secret or any type of other marking, even if it was clear that it had already been declassified, we didn't read them, we just immediately threw them in the folder and passed them over.
So, I do have an idea based on that first tranche, but not the other two. I would assume that they're pretty similar, though.
HARLOW: What can you tell us about the conspiracy charge here, because conspiracy means more than one? And, again, you represented the former president up until literally days ago in this. Is there any insight you can give us into the conspiracy aspect of this?
PARLATORE: Well, one of the interesting things there is going to be which -- conspiracy count has to have a target offense. So, is it a conspiracy to willfully retain or is it a conspiracy to obstruct? Obviously, those two are going to present a different world of alleged co-conspirators, and so that I'm curious to see.
They have always pushed the idea of that he conspired with Walt Nauta to obstruct. I haven't seen anything indicating that Walt has been indicted as well. And as Jim intimated last night, that may be because there is pretty significant allegations of misconduct by Jay Bratt in trying to extort Walt Nauta's attorney and really tamper with him as a witness.
So, I think that that may have something to do with it, too.
HARLOW: We heard your former colleague, Jim Trusty, bring that up with Kaitlan again last night, but there has been no evidence presented to us. We have none of that reporting. I just want to make clear that is an allegation. But I do want to know, based on your dealings with --
PARLATORE: You know what, though? Actually --
HARLOW: Go ahead.
PARLATORE: -- if I may.
PARLATORE: An indictment is an allegation. An indictment is an allegation. And, ordinarily, DOJ would put out a press release where they say these are just allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent, because they haven't done sealed the indictment. They've kind of skipped that piece. But they've made allegations. They haven't presented any evidence yet. Jim Trusty made an allegation. There is evidence. Certainly there is eyewitness testimony.
MATTINGLY: I understand what you're saying, but this is different in the sense that the Justice Department hasn't said anything at all publicly. The president was the one who announced that he'd been indicted. The president was the one who made the video. The president's team was the one who detailed elements of the summary charges that they -- so, I mean, I don't know that that's necessarily a fact comparison to some degree.
PARLATORE: Well, I'm just saying let's not simply dismiss the allegations of prosecutorial misconduct because they are allegations. If we're going to dismiss allegations, it has go both ways. HARLOW: Just to be clear, let's move on, but I didn't dismiss it. I asked for the evidence and told our viewers that we don't have that because they deserve to know that.
Based on your dealings with the DOJ on Trump's behalf until, again, just days ago, do you think the DOJ has approached your client fairly?
PARLATORE: No, not at all. It is something that has been stunning to me from the beginning of the manner in which this DOJ team has treated this case. That is a stunning departure from how DOJ normally handles any other case. And I'm going to go back into it. There has been significant prosecutorial misconduct.
I've seen it with my own eyes. I saw members of Jack Smith's team stand up in a sealed courtroom and lie to a federal judge. I saw a federal prosecutor in the grand jury room asking improper questions, making improper inferences to the jury, and trying to convince them that the invocation of a constitutional right is evidence of guilt.
And I've also heard firsthand the story about what happened with Jay Bratt and that witness.
HARLOW: I'm sure that was part of the meeting that your former colleagues had at Justice on Monday, and that can be brought into the defense. But now that the president himself has made so many different defenses along the way about declassification, what is his defense going to be in court? What is the team's defense going to be now in court?
PARLATORE: Well, the defense is going to be twofold. It's going to be factual and it's going to be legal. They're going to go through the Presidential Records Act and the various laws as to what he's allowed to do, what he's not allowed to do, because a lot of this is going to come down to an interpretation of the law.
Also, they're going to attack the facts here. Certainly, was this willful, was this accidental? Did he even know that these things existed? And also, do the documents themselves constitute national defense information, which is not just that it relates to national defense, it has to be specifically that the disclosure of this document would be damaging to the national security of this country.
So, if we're talking about a lot of daily schedules and briefings that he received before, phone calls and things like that, even if they were classified at the time, and even if they weren't declassified, as has been argued back and forth, that type of information would not constitute national defense information under the statute.
MATTINGLY: Tim, real quick, before we let you go, obviously having formerly represented the president, we were just talking about the fact that he was the one who announced the indictment. He has his own very particular way that sometimes lawyers bristle at in terms of dealing with situations like this. Now, that this is coming, do you think he will be able to help his case personally by the way he often treats these types of moments or do you think that he may need to change how he operates given it's a federal case? PARLATORE: I think a lot of that's going to come down to what is in the indictment, because you obviously want to always present a coherent message about a case. In other circumstances, you always want the client to not be speaking about the case. I've only ever had one other client that I couldn't stop from going on Twitter to talk about their case. And a lot of that's going to depend very fact-specific.
But certainly when you do have a case that has a lot of political aura to it, when there is.