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Trump Indicted On 7 Counts In Documents Case; DOJ Probes Effort In Wyoming To Infiltrate DNC; Donald Trump Admits On Tape He Didn't Declassify "Secret Information. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 09, 2023 - 07:30   ET



TIMOTHY PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: But certainly, when you do have a case that has a lot of political aura to it, when there is a lot of talk about that and unfortunately for DOJ, they've given a lot of fodder through the conduct of this team, I think that a lot of that publicity from him having the largest podium in the country will also potentially go to his benefit. So I think it's a double-edged sword.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: A quick yes or no before we let you go. Given these charges have been brought do you now expect charges to be brought based on the D.C. grand jury in Washington D.C. given this?

PARLATORE: On Mar-a-Lago? No.

HARLOW: No on --

PARLATORE: And I don't think it affects the January 6 investigation at all.

HARLOW: Tim Parlatore, thank you for your time this morning.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump is the Republican presidential frontrunner for 2024. How will this indictment impact that race? How his rivals are reacting to the news coming up next.



MATTINGLY: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage.

Donald Trump charged with seven counts in the special counsel's classified documents probe and at this moment, the same moment, he's leading the Republican primary -- leading to be the Republican presidential nominee for 2024. So how will this actually impact the race or will it impact the race?

Joining us now are CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, Errol Louis. And national political correspondent for The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher.

Shane, somehow, you turned around a piece detailing all of these dynamics in a remarkably short period of time, which as a fellow journalist is frustrating and a little bit annoying, but is also -- I want you to kind of dive in on that a little bit because contextually, I thought you really kind of laid things out in a really smart way. What were you seeing picking up when you were reporting this piece out?

SHANE GOLDMACHER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. I mean, so the thing is that a lot of Republican rivals to Trump thought that this was coming and there were conversations. Can we take advantage of the fact the former president is going to be the first former president to face criminal federal charges? And the answer was mostly likely no. They were not looking forward to this moment because it puts them in a place where they could be against the autoimmune response of Republican primary voters to defend Donald Trump.

And so, instead of getting to argue their own case -- why they should be president, why they would make a better president, and even why they are more electable as president, they're stuck defending him, talking about the weaponization of the Department of Justice, which is what this statement from Ron DeSantis said. They had to come up with something to say that doesn't put them out of line with 80 to 90 percent of Republican voters, and that puts them in line with the candidate they're trailing in the polls.

HARLOW: And it's about where it leaves them as candidates with the voters. I mean, Phil was making this good point earlier in the show, Errol, that it's like they could just come out -- the Republican contenders -- and say -- like Asa Hutchinson said, by the way -- this guy should be disqualified because of this. It's too much of a distraction.

The power of them banding together to do that would be significant, but the big caveat is oh, no -- so many Republican voters in America are on Trump's train.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, POLITICAL ANCHOR, SPECTRUM NEWS: That's right. I mean, you could -- you could imagine all of them, other than Asa Hutchinson, getting together and saying hey, maybe we should all get together. And I can imagine each of them saying you know what, you go first, right? Because there -- it -- there is --

MATTINGLY: I think that happened in 2016 at various points.

LOUIS: I mean, we did see this in --


LOUIS: -- 2015, 2016. They all got up on stage and said we can't have this. He's a chaos candidate. Isn't that what Jeb Bush called him? I mean, on and on and on, and it absolutely didn't work. He picked them off one at a time very much the way he, right now, is attacking Ron DeSantis and nobody else, and ignoring the rest of them.

Asa Hutchinson -- it almost sounds quaint -- sort of a voice from another era saying this is just not right. This is at best a distraction at a time when we have to make a case to the country that we, as the Republican Party, should be leading the country. That voice is not going to be heard. That's not the political dynamic right now.

MATTINGLY: So, Shane, to kind of take this all the way through -- and this is what I've been stuck on all morning -- one, because this feels very familiar despite the fact that this isn't and it's not being hyperbolic to say that --

GOLDMACHER: Well, it's familiar because he was indicted only a couple of months ago, right? This is the second time we've been through this.

MATTINGLY: Every element of this but, particularly, on the political dynamics --


MATTINGLY: -- every element of this feels like some element of something we've gone through over the course of the last seven years.

So just to get to the end, if you can't attack your opponent who is leading the polls by 30 points when he's federally indicted on seven counts --


MATTINGLY: -- where when you look at the evidence that we've seen it's pretty damning, and when you see the indicted I imagine it's going to be more so -- obviously, innocent until proven guilty -- there's no way to win this race if you're another Republican candidate. How -- I don't understand. If you can't attack him for that and you're going to have to fall in line with him for that, and you're already down by 30 points, tell me how anyone beats Donald Trump in this race.

GOLDMACHER: I mean, I think that the hope is that there's an accumulation of issues that he has and the baggage --

MATTINGLY: How's that going for people over the last seven years?


GOLDMACHER: It's not going well for them and that's the reason why he's the Republican frontrunner.

And I think it's really important to listen to how he talked about the indictment, both in that video and in the statement that he put out on --


GOLDMACHER: -- Truth Social. He puts this in a long line of accusations that he has faced --


GOLDMACHER: -- that he says and that most Republican voters have dismissed over time, right? So when he says boxes hoax that resonates with people because he's talked about the Mueller hoax and he's talked about all of these things.

And I had a conversation two weeks ago with the current governor of New Hampshire who decided not to run for president, Chris Sununu. And he said look -- and he wasn't talking about this indictment. It hadn't come yet. But he said there's this intuitive instinctive response to just defend Donald Trump because they've seen all of this and Democrats are the boy who cried wolf. This has happened so many times that Republican voters, even if -- and Chris Sununu does not --


GOLDMACHER: -- Donald Trump to be the nominee. He still says Republican voters -- they're going to side with him right away.

HARLOW: Everything can't be an 11 because when it is an 11 then it feels like everything else.

Shane points out, Errol, in his piece that Trump raised four million bucks in the 24 hours after his last indictment. It's like, what, 12 hours after this one.


LOUIS: Sure.

HARLOW: He's probably going to raise a lot of money.

LOUIS: Well, let's say he raises $5 million. I think that probably the lawyers are going to charge him at least $5 million, so --

HARLOW: But it says -- it speaks to how people who support him feel.

LOUIS: Well -- and look, it speaks to his ability to sort of master the moment, right? I mean, everyone is talking about him and not the other candidates. And so, there's a certain amount of buzz. If he can sort of convert that into rallying his followers to give him another $24.00 or whatever the ask is, then fine -- that's what works out.

On the other hand, the bill is going to come due -- and not just the legal bill I was sort of mockingly referring to, but the political bill comes due when it's time to talk to Independent voters. When it's time to get past the nomination --

HARLOW: Good point.

LOUIS: -- if he does get the nomination.

And I understand in politics you've got to fight the battle that's right in front of you and worry about the long-term later --


LOUIS: -- but the long-term is fast approaching and the bill will come due. HARLOW: The long-term is the whole ballgame if you want to be president.

LOUIS: Exactly -- well, exactly right. And that's the case that his rivals have tried here and there to make but I don't -- you know, look, it didn't work in 2015, 2016 --


LOUIS: -- and it's probably not going to work this time.

MATTINGLY: Or hold the House or win back the Senate.

Can I ask you -- we've got like 10 seconds left --

HARLOW: How are you going to make a guy answer in 10 seconds?

MATTINGLY: I haven't heard a lot from -- we're in TV. That's how we roll, man. They're shouting in your ear. That's what producers do, by the way.

I haven't heard much from the White House. I never really expected to. Do you expect to hear anything from the White House, the Biden team?

GOLDMACHER: I bet they're disappointed that Joe Biden was on tape talking about the issue at all yesterday.


GOLDMACHER: You know, he -- they don't want to be involved in this. They like that this is happening. The Republican side -- they want to keep him as far away from it as possible.

HARLOW: Ten seconds -- thank you.

LOUIS: Which is as it should be.

MATTINGLY: And another four seconds.

HARLOW: Thank you, Errol. Thank you, Shane.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, guys. We appreciate it.

HARLOW: Good to have you both.

We heard how Trump's 2024 rivals responded to the federal indictment, but let's talk a little bit more ahead about voters and how they feel. That's next.



MATTINGLY: Welcome back.

Last time former President Trump was indicted -- that's kind of a wild thing to say -- last time --

HARLOW: Well, it was not even that long ago.

MATTINGLY: All right. Here we go again. His poll numbers actually went up. Can he keep defying gravity, though, after this federal indictment?

CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten is here. Harry, give it to us. What's the morning number?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. So, I mean, look, Phil, here is the situation. If there's one number you should focus on it's this one. And it's should Trump be criminally charged over his handling of classified documents? Look, overall, 54 percent of the American public say yes, he should be criminally charged. But here is the key number. Just 17 percent of Republicans feel that same way. Seventy-five percent of them say no, he should not be criminally charged over his handling of classified documents.

And I want to give you an indication about how feelings on whether or not Trump should be charged for his handling of classified documents line up perfectly with how voters and Americans, and Republicans feel overall.

So, should Trump be charged? Look, again, 54 percent overall say yes. Seventeen percent of Republicans say yes.

But look at viewing Trump unfavorably. Just 18 percent of Republicans say yes, and 57 percent overall say yes. So how you feel about Trump overall dictates very strongly about whether you think he should, in fact, be criminally charged over his handling of classified documents.

HARLOW: I know it's too early to know, like, how polling on Republican voters feel about this indictment versus the last one. But we do have a sense of how Republican voters felt knowing a lot more about this Mar-a-Lago documents case and if they thought he should be charged, right, versus the last case in New York State.

ENTEN: Yes. So I think this sort of gives it away, right? Republicans who think Trump should be charged federally for his handling of classified documents, 17 percent. Look how perfectly close that lines up with the 15 percent of Republicans who felt that Trump should be criminally charged in New York for allegedly falsifying business records. So how you feel about one, again, dictates very strongly how you felt about the other one.

And, of course, we were saying about how Trump's polling actually went up after he got charged in New York. Look at this. Pre-New York indictment for allegedly falsifying records -- business records -- Trump was at 47 percent nationally in the Republican primary poll. Guess where he stands today? He's at 53 percent. His lead over Ron DeSantis, which was about 20 points, is now over 30 points.

Now, we'll see what happens going forward here but the fact is there is no real history of Trump's numbers going down after he gets charged, at least among Republicans. HARLOW: That says a lot.

Thank you, Harry.

ENTEN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Appreciate it very much.

Well, sources tell CNN federal prosecutors are investigating conservative-backed efforts in Wyoming to infiltrate the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2020 election -- that that happened. We have the details on that reporting ahead.

MATTINGLY: And also coming up we have brand-new reporting on the historic federal indictment of Donald Trump. You don't want to miss this. Stay tuned.



MATTINGLY: Brand-new reporting in to CNN -- an exclusive.

Federal prosecutors are investigating conservative-backed efforts in Wyoming to infiltrate the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2020 election. Sources say prosecutors are looking into whether any campaign finance laws were violated.

Former British intelligence official Richard Seddon and Republican donor and Gore-Tex fortune heiress Susan Gore have been subpoenaed. Now, The New York Times says Seddon secured funding from Gore to train two operatives from Project Veritas. The operatives then made donations of up to $10,000, some of which gained them entry to fundraisers and even a Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas.

Now, at this point, no one has been accused of any wrongdoing. It's not clear where the operatives got the money but it is illegal to use another person's name to make political donations.

HARLOW: We will continue to follow that.

Also this morning, China announcing plans for another round of joint military drills with Russia. It comes after the top generals of both militaries held a video meeting to discuss deepening the cooperation between the two armies. They also held joint Air Force drills Tuesday over the Sea of Japan for the sixth time since 2019. Beijing and Moscow's joint patrols are part of what has been deemed a no-limits partnership.

MATTINGLY: Well, also this morning, air quality conditions over much of the eastern U.S. are expected to slowly improve after smoke from hundreds of Canadian wildfires drifted south. They've been around all week.

New York City should start to see significant improvement after it saw some of the worst air quality in the world over the course of the last several days. But schools in New York and Philadelphia will use remote learning today just to be safe. And Washington, D.C. schools will continue to suspend outdoor activities.


Now, roughly 50 million people from the Midwest to the east coast have been under air quality alerts.

HARLOW: And we're hoping it gets a whole lot better after a whole week of this --

MATTINGLY: Yes. It's -- it feels like it's --

HARLOW: -- including my kids.

MATTINGLY: -- starting to change. You're looking at Washington, D.C.


MATTINGLY: Now you can see some of the pictures. That's where my family has been. And it just kind of drifted down. It's been a lot and a little jarring.


MATTINGLY: And also recognition for those of you out west who have been dealing with this regularly like --

HARLOW: What you go through -- exactly.

MATTINGLY: Hey, it's about time, east coasters, you paid attention. This is a serious issue.

HARLOW: All right. We do have new developments in the federal indictment of Donald Trump. CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

HARLOW: Well, good morning, everyone. We are so glad you're with us.

And we do begin this hour with really significant breaking news and brand-new reporting in the federal indictment of Donald Trump.

Last week, CNN exclusively reported that prosecutors had an audio recording of Trump admitting he kept a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran. Well, now -- and this is what is new -- we are learning exactly what former President Trump said during that private meeting in 2021.

MATTINGLY: Now, according to a transcript of that recording, Trump acknowledged he hadn't declassified the document and they didn't have the power to do so. He told people in the room, quote, "As president, I could have declassified, but now I can't." You'll note that goes completely against what the former president has been saying publicly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Do you still have any classified documents in your possession?


COLLINS: Do you?

TRUMP: No, no. I don't have anything. I have no classified documents. And by the way, they become automatically declassified when I took them.

If you're the President of the United States you can declassify just by saying it's declassified -- even by thinking about it -- because you're sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you're sending it. When you send it, it's declassified. We -- I declassified everything.


MATTINGLY: Well, CNN's Paula Reid broke this story. Paula Reid joins us now. Paula, big, big developments. Walk us through the transcript.


This exclusive, of course, building on our bombshell report last week with Kaitlan Collins and Katelyn Polantz about this recording where the former president not only claims to have retained classified information but also acknowledges the limits of his power to do so.

And now, we have the transcript of the relevant portion and I want to read some parts of that. But it's clear he acknowledges or claims that he kept secret information.

Now, in this recording -- this was back in July 2021 -- he is speaking to some visitors at his New Jersey golf club. We know from our sources that among the people in the room were at least two people working on Mark Meadows' autobiography as well as some Trump aides.

He is referring here to Gen. Mark Milley. He says, quote, "Well, with Milley -- uh, let me see that. I'll show you an example. He said that I wanted to attack Iran. Isn't that amazing? I have a big pile of papers. This thing just came up."

On the tape, we're told that you can hear him rustling the papers at this point.

"Look. This was him. They presented me this. This is off the record, but they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him. We looked at some. This was him. This wasn't done by me. This was him."

I'll keep reading but you can tell at least four times he emphasizes that this was Milley.

He goes on to say, "All sorts of stuff -- pages long -- look. Wait a minute. Let's see here. I just found -- isn't that amazing? This totally wins my case."

And I want to note here his case he is referring to here is this dispute with Milley, not the current pending criminal investigation.

"Except it is like highly confidential -- secret. This is secret information. Look -- look at this."

I will note that secret and confidential are both, of course, levels of classification.

And then, arguably, the most damning quote, he says -- he asks someone in the room if he can declassify it. And then he says, "As president, I could have declassified, but now I can't."

And, of course, that last quote undercutting all of the public arguments that he, his allies, and his attorneys have made about how he was able to declassify things once he left office or that he may have even had a standing declassification order to declassify any materials in his possession before he left office.

But in terms of the investigation, prosecutors are likely going to be most interested in the fact that he is claiming to have retained secret information and is appearing to try to share that with a room full of people, none of whom had security clearances. So again, this is a really key piece of evidence in this ongoing investigation.

MATTINGLY: Yes, Paula. This was -- reading your reporting this morning it was a genuine, kind of jaw-drop moment for a minute just because of how many things it seemed to rebut about what the president --

REID: Yes.

MATTINGLY: -- has said publicly.

You kind of got at this a little bit but what is your sense of how this will factor into things going forward or into the indictments that we haven't seen yet?

REID: When we were doing our reporting on the existence of this audio.