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Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-NY) is Interviewed about the Trump Indictment; Trump Followers Gather at Mar-a-Lago; Richard Gregorie is Interviewed about the Trump Indictment. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 09, 2023 - 08:30   ET




PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to special coverage. We have more on our breaking news this morning.

CNN obtaining the transcript of that audio recording from 2021 where President Trump acknowledges he had retained, quote, secret military information that he did not declassify. He was showing those alleged documents to people who did not have security clearance. And that recording now in the hands of federal prosecutors.

Joining us now to discuss, a former prosecutor himself, Democratic Congressman Daniel Goldman. He served as a lead counsel in Trump's first impeachment trial.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

To start with, you heard Paula's reporting, read Paula's reporting. What's your takeaway on the context of things given that we haven't seen the actual indictment yet but what it may mean?

REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (D-NY): Well, it means a lot. Remember, every single thing Donald Trump has ever said can be admitted at a trial. And so what you have here is him admitting in secret that he knows that the documents he had were not declassified and he knows that they are classified information. The difference between a criminal case and any kind of civil case is, you have to show that knowledge. That's what draws a distinction between Donald Trump's case and Joe Biden and Mike Pence, where the question here is, is it knowingly and intentionally done to maintain possession of those documents and then to refuse to give them back?

And so what he is essentially doing is neutering all of the public defenses that he's made. And the prosecutors will be able to show his public defense and then show the recording, and it will eviscerate all of the credibility of his defense.

HARLOW: You were a prosecutor. Can you help us understand why the Justice Department would not have unsealed the indictment already, would not have gone to a judge and asked for it to be able to be unsealed for the - for the -- GOLDMAN: That's standard. It's standard. So --

HARLOW: Do you think - do you think until Tuesday no one's going to see it?

GOLDMAN: Yes. Y es.

HARLOW: You do?

GOLDMAN: Uh-huh.

HARLOW: And do you -- do you agree with what we just heard from our colleagues, Paula, Evan, et cetera, that for the sake of the country, for transparency, that we should hear from the special counsel before Tuesday, maybe not taking questions, but explaining why this he did this and unseal the indictment?

MATTINGLY: Take off your prosecutor hat.


MATTINGLY: Use your congressman/political knowledge.

HARLOW: Or just American citizen hat.

GOLDMAN: Well, you know, I understand why you all and we all really want it. But the important thing to remember is the Department of Justice has done everything by the book with this case. And their whole rationale has been from the day Merrick Garland was nominated, where he said he was simply going to follow the facts and the law, to where we are today, which is, they are doing things by the book. This is how investigations are done.

We want to see the indictment. It's Friday. That's going to be Tuesday. In the grand scheme of things, it's not that long to wait. Sure, I want see the indictment. We will see it Tuesday. I don't know that there's a compelling reason why we need to hear from the special counsel or the attorney general before Tuesday. That's what happened in the Manhattan case. We had a delay, you recall, and we didn't get the indictment until the day of, and the district attorney made a comment that day.


MATTINGLY: So, in the meantime, the president, even before -- the former president and his team, even before the indictment came down, had been reaching out to their allies on Capitol Hill. You work across the aisle from them. You're on committees where they are on the other side. Some of the leading voices in support of the president. You ask, you know, what's the - in the grand scheme of things. Well, in this moment in time they are the ones that are out there making very clear, while the Justice Department is staying silent, that this is a dark day for the country. That this is, you know, a weaponization of the Justice Department.

You don't feel like the Justice Department has any - there's no necessity for them to try and counter that will -

HARLOW: Facts.


GOLDMAN: So, yes, they would love to. And there's no question that there's a complete imbalance in terms of messaging and public relations. But the nature of a prosecution is that the Department of Justice will only speak through indictments, through public information, through court information. They are not going to respond to all these allegations. I can respond because what they're saying is total garbage. It's gibberish.

The notion that Kevin McCarthy has said that this is an affront on the rule of law. You know what he says? He says because he was a former president and because he's a candidate for elected office.

Our country was founded on the rule of law. And that means that we are a government of laws, not men. And that there is no one above the law. That's what the rule of law means. The rule of law does not mean we can't charge a former president and we can't charge a candidate for elected office. If that were the case, every member of Congress could never be charged.

HARLOW: By the way, this is all about actions after the presidency, too. I mean, just to put a - put a - put a fine point on it.

GOLDMAN: Look, there's no question -- Special Counsel Mueller, who adhered to that memo in the Department of Justice very, very closely, played everything as much by the book to Department of Justice protocol, said, and other Republicans have acknowledged, Senator McConnell has acknowledged, that Donald - there's nothing prohibiting Donald Trump from being indicted when he's not the president. You could make an argument he's - that you can be when the president.

But this is - this is a complete bastardization of the rule of law and we cannot allow that kind of rhetoric to stand.

HARLOW: We did want to also ask you about President Biden's classified document investigation. It goes on. There's a different special counsel, Robert Hur. There are a lot of differences. I'm not equating the two. But this is still ongoing. And we've heard Trump's team in the last 12 hours bring that up a lot.

GOLDMAN: Well, they're going to bring up everything they can. And what you're going to see, and this is the critical difference, you're going to see Donald Trump and all of his backers in Congress both use the court of public opinion to try to frame this. Unfortunately, I expect that we will see the official authority of Congress being used to support Donald Trump, a private citizen, criminal defense.


GOLDMAN: They're going to open investigations. They're going to --

MATTINGLY: Into the special counsel, you think? GOLDMAN: Of course. I mean they did -- look at what they did with the

Manhattan DA, which is a local district attorney. And they opened an entire investigation. That came to New York City for some sham field hearing on crime in New York City when crime, you know, all around the country is in many cases worse. They will use their official power as a taxpayer funded defense team for Donald Trump.

But the problem that Donald Trump has, and the problem with this recording is, that will be played out in a court of law. And there are very specific and different rules. And all of his political defenses, all of the congressional defenses will be irrelevant to what happens in court and what happens with his court case.

MATTINGLY: Congressman Daniel Goldman, you've got some experience in these types of issues, transcripts, too, if I recall correctly, from your past life.


MATTINGLY: Appreciate the time. Thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: Thank you, guys.

HARLOW: People should also note, if they do go after - you know, if they do open investigations into Jack Smith, this is a prosecutor who has gone after Republicans in office and after -- and Democrats, you know, his team, like John Edwards.

GOLDMAN: There is no basis to think that anything was done other than by the book.

HARLOW: Thank you. Appreciate it, Congressman.

Donald Trump's faithful supporters gathering outside Mar-a-Lago overnight. They're insisting he's innocent. We're going to take you live there.

MATTINGLY: And the 2024 candidates are sounding off on their opponent's -- keep in mind, technically their opponent's indictment. There's a divide. Some are taking aim at DOJ, others at the former president. How Republicans are reacting coming up next.



HARLOW: Overnight, former President Trump's faithful supporters gathering near his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida proclaiming his innocence. He is expected to return there ahead of his arraignment Tuesday in Miami, about 70 miles from Mar-a-Lago. Trump supporters say they think the charges will give him a political boost.

Randi Kaye is live in Palm Beach.

And you saw this play out in real time. RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I did, Poppy. We were here just a short time after news broke of the indictment yesterday evening and there were quite a few protesters gathered here coming out to support the former president. As you know, this is ground zero. This is where this case originated. Fifteen boxes of documents removed from Mar-a-Lago. More than 300 documents marked as classified.

So, I spoke with his supporters last night. There are just a few here this morning. Very peaceful, very quiet here, but they did say they were going to come back today.

But those last night told me that they do believe this is a witch hunt, using the word the former president likes to use, and one called it political garbage. Another one suggested that perhaps some of these documents were planted here at Mar-a-Lago.

Listen to what one protester told me.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, they don't want him to run for president. They have to go after him in some fashion. So, that's what they are doing. It's no surprise to anybody. We already knew this was going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is only firing him up more. The people who don't know President Trump, the more they go after him, the harder he fights. And he's not fighting for himself, he's fighting for the people.


KAYE: And there was a lot of horn honking as well while we were here during that time and many of them yelling out their window, lock him up. So, certainly mixed feelings about the former president and this case.

But I should note, as you mentioned, he is going to return here before heading to Miami for his court date on Tuesday, expected to be here on Monday. I spoke with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department and Palm Beach Police earlier this morning. They said they're likely going to be taking their marching orders from the Secret Service.

Of course, Mar-a-Lago sits here on the intercoastal. It's also on Southern Boulevard, along the ocean. So, they have quite a few areas to protect. But they said that they will be looking into protecting the waterways here, Southern Boulevard, as well as looking at Mar-a- Lago from the air and making sure that it is secure.


HARLOW: Randi Kaye, thank you very, very much. Appreciate the reporting.

So, how will Trump's legal issues impact the race, right? What does it mean for the politics of it all? CNN's senior political commentator Scott Jennings and President Trump's former campaign and Republican strategist David Urban join me now.

Why you guys chuckling?

MATTINGLY: I'm sorry, you guys - why did you guys start laughing?


HARLOW: It's like, I'm trying to read and you're laughing.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You act like we - you act like we know.

MATTINGLY: Well, you've got a lot of past precedent here that you can kind of point to, to some degree. So, tell us exactly what's going to happen over the course of the -- no, but - but I do think this is important. And I think you can listen to some of the voices that Randi had spoken to last night and you know where that kind of chunk of the Republican Party, the former president's base, ain't going anywhere. They are rock solid. My biggest question, and I've been asking this all morning, probably boring Poppy at this point -

HARLOW: Never.

MATTINGLY: But if you are in a Republican campaign and he is leading by 30 points and this massive thing happens and the only thing you can do is not attack him on it for fear of losing support, how can you possibly win a primary?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think you can, right? I think that's the answer, right? Phil, think about this, 74 million people voted for President Trump in the - in 2020. And, the numbers, he's polling someplace, you know, in the 30, 40s. So, let's assume that there's 25, 26 million, 30 million Americans who still love and follow Donald Trump. And you're not going to be able to pry those folks free. They're going to only - the president's going to double down on being indignant and, you know, is - is -- even saying in the - this -- yesterday and in previous -- after the Alvin Bragg indictment. And, you know, there's not going to be any damage (ph).

People will - people will flock to him and feel that this is - this is a political prosecution. And, you know, I think Scott and I were talking about this before, the best thing DOJ could do - and I don't want to step on his line, is what, Scott, today?

JENNINGS: Oh, well, if I were Hunter Biden, I'd be very nervous. I mean - I mean the Republican answer to these things overnight has been, how is it that Donald Trump's the only person that gets persecuted (ph). You've got Hunter Biden running around out there doing stuff. You've got Joe Biden documents in the garage. Hillary Clinton bleaching servers. You know, the one guy who's currently under federal investigation that we know of. So I - I was just postulating outside that what - what if -- what if they did indict him today? Would that take that off the table? (CROSS TALK)

JENNINGS: So, the other the way this is going to play out, if other things happen (ph).

MATTINGLY: To be - to be clear, though, all of those things either had been investigated or are still parts of ongoing investigations.

HARLOW: Still being investigated.

JENNINGS: That's what I'm saying, it's happening right now.


JENNINGS: And so -- but the Republican mindset is, if you're a Republican or if you're Donald Trump, you get held to one standard. If you're these other people you get held --


JENNINGS: That's the mindset.

HARLOW: Mindset - mindset is different than fact - than fact - than facts.

MATTINGLY: Right or wrong, what do you do (ph).

URBAN: Yes, but those fact - but those could -- but they could both be true at the same time, right? You could say that listen this - this case against Donald Trump moving forward is - is true and current. And the mindset that -- held by -


URBAN: A third of Americans is true and correct.

HARLOW: Fine (ph).

URBAN: Those could both exist and be true.

HARLOW: OK. Can I ask you this, as a former strategist for former President Trump.

URBAN: Yes. Sure. Absolutely.

HARLOW: I thought it was really interesting that renowned legal scholar Jonathan Turley said basically he can really, really run on this effectively, and he said he could even run on pardoning himself. Would you --

URBAN: Well, I don't think he'd have to pardon himself. I think -

HARLOW: No, run on that.

URBAN: You know, I do - I -- oh, running. That if you elect me --


URBAN: I'll pardon myself.

HARLOW: Yes. Would you advise that if you were still in the camp?

URBAN: That's the campaign - that's the campaign motto. Pardon me. Trump '24.

No, I wouldn't say - I don't think that's a great strategy. I think the strategy is, look, I did nothing wrong here. I think that the strategy is - and these - these documents, I declassified them. I have the authority to do so. And --

HARLOW: But we know from Paula Reid's reporting that he can --

URBAN: No, no, I understand, but that's - that's - that's the strategy I'd run on.


URBAN: And if people are waiting to see Donald Trump in, you know, in the box during a trial, that's not going to happen. Here's what's going to happen. There will not be a trial in this case ever. Donald Trump - I'm just saying, there won't -- it will happen in 2025 if it's going to happen. Donald Trump's going to become president and there won't be a trial. That's my prediction.

HARLOW: You raised your eyebrows.

JENNINGS: Well, let me - let me just say, there is polling that indicates that a majority of Americans take these cases seriously, even though Republicans, in the short term, are definitely rallying to Trump. Independents --

MATTINGLY: And it's not like a one or two point majority. We saw Harry's numbers this morning.

JENNINGS: Independents don't like this. If he's under these clouds. And he never got a majority of the popular vote or the most popular votes twice. Has anything happened since that to change that? Does this change -- highly unlikely that if you're under four -- two, three or four indictments this enhances your chances of winning a national election.

MATTINGLY: But, look, this is about - what we're talking about. This is - this is actually the point that I wanted to get at. I've been trying to figure out how any Republican opponent, if they can't attack him on this, can possibly win but the spin forward, which I also think is relevant to, you know, somebody you're very close to in terms of the Senate minority leader, and, Republicans - there's a reason why Republican leaders in the Senate have not said a lot up to this point. The ability to keep the House.

There's a general election, too. Love the primaries.

JENNINGS: Yes. MATTINGLY: There is a general election.

URBAN: And all of the base voters.

MATTINGLY: If you are a Republican looking around right now, what - this cannot be viewed as a positive development.

JENNINGS: Well, I -- let me - let me push back on you because look at the individual maps. In the Senate, the total battleground to win back the Senate is in West Virginia, Ohio, and Montana. Donald Trump could get indicted 400 times and he's going to win those states by 30 plus points.

MATTINGLY: You think Sherrod Brown is going to lose by 30 points?


JENNINGS: No, I'm saying Donald Trump's going to win those states.

MATTINGLY: You think Jon Tester is going to lose - oh, you're talking - OK, so Trump (INAUDIBLE) on the - on the (INAUDIBLE).

JENNINGS: I'm saying Trump's going to win those states (INAUDIBLE).


JENNINGS: And so if you're - if you're - if you're thinking about the Senate math -


JENNINGS: You've got, running in red states -


MATTINGLY: I hear you.

JENNINGS: And there were really no Republicans on defense either.

MATTINGLY: No, that's fair. It's -

HARLOW: Can I - can I take you guys really quickly to this sound because Peter -- I've been talking about Peter Baker's great analysis in "The Times" this morning pointing out this sound. This was Trump in 2016.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (August 18, 2016): In my administration I'm going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.

TRUMP (September 7, 2016): One of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules and to enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.

TRUMP (September 19, 2016): We also need the best protection of classified information.

Hillary's private email scandal, which put our classified information in the reach of our enemies, disqualifies her from the presidency. Totally.


URBAN: I bet - I bet he regrets that.

HARLOW: But so then he actually acted on it.

JENNINGS: Yes. Yes, they signed a law making the penalties even stiffer over this. So, yes.

URBAN: And, look, it's serious stuff. What -- I said this last night, Espionage Act.

HARLOW: But the irony of it --

URBAN: The word, the phraseology Espionage Act being charged -- and the same word as you're running for president you're being charged with a violation of the Espionage Act hits different, right, than obstruction. It just viscerally feels differently, right? I mean -- and I think Americans will receive it differently. I - it just -

HARLOW: You do?

URBAN: It's a much - well, absolutely. It's a much more serious charge.

But, again, I don't think it changes the outcome. I think, you know - Scott, you know, makes a point, I'll just quote Joe Biden, don't compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative. And I think Republicans will look at that and say, we'll take Trump and let's say Tim Scott over Joe Biden and Kamala Harris any day. I think that's what you're going to see.

HARLOW: David, Scott, thank you both very, very much.

JENNINGS: Thanks. Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: So nice to have you.

Well, former President Trump says that he was summoned to appear at a federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday. Next, we're going to ask a former federal prosecutor at the U.S. attorney's office there. What we should expect.



MATTINGLY: Well, welcome back. Former President Trump will be in federal court in Florida next week,

just days after we found out that a grand jury was meeting there on the classified documents case. So, what does it mean that the case is likely to be brought there -- is going to be brought there? No one knows better than Richard Gregorie, a renowned federal prosecutor there - former federal prosecutor.

Richard, thanks so much for taking the time.

I want to start with - I want to get into Florida a little bit, but I want to start with what you've seen given your experience that's been reported about the indictment up to this point. What stands out to you?

RICHARD GREGORIE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR IN MAIMI: Well, I think right now we haven't seen the actual indictment itself. So I think people are doing a little bit of speculation.

But what I would tell you is that in the local rules if a case -- the events in a case take place in a particular county, in this case Palm Beach County, the case most likely would be tried in the Palm Beach Courthouse. There are federal courthouses in Key West, in Miami, in Fort Lauderdale, in Palm Beach and in Fort Pierce. So, this particular case would go to Palm Beach, I assume.

HARLOW: You're quoted in a really interesting new piece. The headline is "prosecuting politicians is hard here: why south Florida is a tough place for the DOJ to try Trump." And your quote is, prosecuting politicians is hard here. Why is it so hard here?

GREGORIE: Well, I think that Miami is a very interesting city and it's one where we have a citizenry made up of people who came from a lot of different places. Miami is full of Cubans, New Yorkers, Hondurans, people from Haiti. We have a great mixture. And the trust in government is sometimes at issue.

This is also the place where we tried Falcon and Magluta back in the 1990s and three jurors were convicted of being paid off. So, it's a very difficult place to guess or try to speculate on how a jury is going to take particular information.

This case will be interesting because it isn't really as much a political case as it might be a case of national security. And I think if you give a Miami jury a case that involves the national security, you have a lot of potential jurors who are coming from places where they are very concerned about national security.

MATTINGLY: Can I - we've got about a minute left. Can you take us inside how - are prosecutors thinking about that when they're thinking about - are they thinking about locations? Are they thinking about makeup? Are they thinking about the melting pot element of a particular place where they may bring a case?

GREGORIE: Well, I would hope that the team that's going to be prosecuting this case is going to include a member from the Southern District of Florida. I think that's a very important thing to do when you're trying a case. I know defense attorneys will tell you that if you're going to be tried in a particular case, you want to have a local lawyer on your team so that he has some feel for who he's trying the case before, how they react to certain facts and certain evidence. I would certainly hope that the prosecution team in this case would include somebody from the Southern District of Florida just so that they would have that kind of input.

It's very interesting, I mean, if you ask any other situation in life in the United States of America where you could get 12 U.S. citizens to sit together who don't know each other and agree to a -- any fact beyond a reasonable doubt, I think you would find that very difficult.

HARLOW: Richard Gregorie, thank you for the insight very much this morning.

GREGORIE: Glad to be with you.

HARLOW: What a morning it is, what a night it was last night when this news broke. Again, history being made. The first time ever any U.S. president has been faced with federal charges.

MATTINGLY: I think it's also a recognition that this is a moment that isn't just a one day, 12 hour, one night. This is - this is reality going forward. This is reality on the legal side. This is reality on the political side.


MATTINGLY: This is reality for the country.

HARLOW: And stunning to have this new reporting this hour from our colleague Paula Reid -



HARLOW: With the words of former President Trump on tape about knowing how to declassify what is classified. It goes to the heart of a lot of this. So, we'll have much more coverage throughout the day of all of this and then the president will appear in federal court on Tuesday afternoon.


HARLOW: Our special coverage of the federal indictment of Donald Trump continues right now. Thanks for being with us.

MATTINGLY: Have a good weekend, folks.