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CNN Covers The Historical Day Of A Former President Being Arrested And Arraigned. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired April 04, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It has also been jarring in a purely visual sense in the stark contrast between the two sets of images you see on the screen right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: President appearing drawn, small, surrounded by council in the Manhattan courtroom, limiting his words yes, I do, and not guilty. Then later in the one place, he can truly feel larger than life, surrounded by fans.
TAPPER: He can shape his reality at Mar-a-Lago, of course, feeling in control of his destiny. That makes sense.
COOPER: But in reality, starting today and likely for months to come in this case and others, his true reality will likely involve courtrooms, attorneys, and a defense fight. The news continues next.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to "CNN Tonight." We continue our live coverage of the historical day of a former president being arrested and arraigned. This afternoon, Donald Trump faced 34 felony counts for falsifying business records in connection with the hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Hours later, an aggrieved Donald Trump appeared in front of a very friendly MAGA-outfitted crowd at Mar-a-Lago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never thought anything like this could happen in America. Never thought it could happen. The only crime that I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: From there, he went on to spout his usual litany of lies and grievances. But that was the only part of today that was familiar. Everything else we've never before seen. A former U.S. president under arrest and walking into a courtroom, sitting with his defense team, having to answer to charges just as any other criminal defendant would. So now that we know what's in the indictment, is this a week or a strong case? We have two attorneys with very different positions here in a moment. But let's begin with CNN's Kirsten Holmes. She is live for us in Palm Beach. Kirsten, tell us what happened tonight.
KIRSTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So, after he got back, he came into this room. And as you said, it was full of supporters: his allies, his family members, lawmakers who support him, even members of "Bikers for Trump" club. And he gave a very uncharacteristically short speech. We're talking about roughly 25 minutes.
And it was an airing of grievances. He did talk about the New York case. But he also talked about all of the other federal and state investigations into him, spending more time on some of those, then the case in New York. When he did pivot to that New York case, he went after the judge again. He attacked the district attorney. That was actually one of the lines that got the most applause of the night. And he also said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As it turns out, virtually everybody that has looked at this case, including rhinos and even hardcore Democrats, say there is no crime and that it should never have been brought.
Never have been brought, everybody. Even people that aren't big fans have said it. They said this is not the right thing to do. It's an insult to our country as the world is already laughing at us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And I will note that I talked to several people close to him who said that he was very upset after today, but that he was in an uplifted mood after he saw some of the coverage. He really does believe what his lawyers are telling him, that this is a weak case.
And I also want to show you some video because this is what happened just moments after the speech. He is on the patio of his Mar-a-Lago club. He went up to have dinner. And while he was eating dinner, this song that he recorded with the January 6th choir, that men who are incarcerated for their alleged actions on January 6th, he recorded the pledge of allegiance for that, came on. He stood up and as did all of the club members and listen to the entire song.
Now, I am told that he is deejaying up on the patio. He is with his biggest admirers. And that's what you really take away from that video there. Every single person was standing up when he stood up.
And the other takeaway there is that these are core beliefs. They're not just core beliefs of the former president but also of his base. He is playing that song that he recorded with this January 6th choir in a private setting where there are no cameras. This is not just for a show. But I did talk to one source tonight who is close with the former president, who said that he is concerned that the president, the former president has created an echo chamber that could hurt him politically in the long run.
CAMEROTA: Okay. And Kirsten, also, Donald Trump brought up the classified documents that he was keeping at Mar-a-Lago. So, what did he say about that?
HOLMES: He really talked about that more than anything else. It was clear that that is bothering him, that that is something that's under his skin. And we have heard from many legal experts who believe that's actually the most solid investigation into him.
One of the things I found the most interesting that he said was when he started talking about how people were being squeezed essentially by the Department of Justice. They were trying to get people to flip on the former president.
That is something that we know that the special counsel, Jack Smith, has been putting in aggressive amount of pressure on certain witnesses. And it's clear now that the former president knows about that and that there is a level of concern there.
But it was interesting to see how much more time he spent on what he called the documents hoax than on any other investigation. And again, we are at a place we started to see movement in that case, where many legal experts believe that it is coming to a head.
CAMEROTA: Okay, Kirsten Holmes, thank you very much for the reporting. Here with me tonight, we have CNN political commentator Karen Finney, Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman, founder of Mo News, Mosheh Oinounou, host of "Conversations with Coleman" podcast Coleman Hughes, and also joining us, Attorney Jon Sale, who turned down an offer to join the Trump legal team on the Mar-a-Lago documents case.
Guys, great to have all of you here tonight with us to figure out what happened today and what we saw. Nick, let me start with you.
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Sure.
CAMEROTA: Now that you have seen the indictment, is that a strong or weak case?
AKERMAN: It looks to me like a very strong case.
CAMEROTA: How so?
AKERMAN: In the fact that it goes through. You've got two witnesses. You've got Michael Cohen and you've got David Pecker at a minimum. You've got lots of documents. You've got them corroborated by those documents. You've got a tape that is referenced in there. You've got activity at the end where they basically take it right out of the Mueller report to show that there was a major effort to try and keep Michael Cohen in the camp and to keep tabs on him to make sure that he wouldn't cooperate.
The entire case is really almost like a book end to the other two investigations, one going on in Atlanta and the other by Jack Smith with respect to the insurrection and the attempt to undermine the election.
What you really have in this case is Donald Trump trying to cheat his way into the election by fraudulently failing omit from the public very important facts about his life that would bear directly on his chances for election in 2016 after the Access Hollywood tape came out, when the Republicans were actually thinking of dumping him from the ticket.
And so, there you have him paying off individual who is a doorman at a building, who presumably had information about some child he had out of wedlock. You have another instance with a woman who is a playboy playmate, Karen McDougal, that he -- they were paying $150,000, too. And then of course, there was Stormy Daniels who they paid at 132. And all of this was phoning up to make it look like it was really legitimate funds for a lawyer's fee.
AKERMAN: So, what it was, really a fraud on the public because they went into the voting booth not knowing any of this.
AKERMAN: And then you go to the other end of the extreme when he tried to keep power to himself. He made up another big lie, which was that there was election fraud, and he used that to perpetrate other kinds of crimes --
CAMEROTA: Yes, but that is not in this.
AKERMAN: It is not in this.
AKERMAN: But when you look at it, you ask, is this too serious? Damn truth it is serious --
AKERMAN: -- because it shows what he did in the beginning and it shows what he did in the end. It shows what he did to gain power and what he did to keep power.
CAMEROTA: Let me bring in our other attorney, John Sale. John, do you agree?
JON SALE, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I don't. It is good to be on with my friend and former colleague, Nick. He was also a Watergate prosecutor. So, Nick and everybody else, I disagree. I think the case is weak legally and factually. Uh, well, let me say before I go on, I think this is a very sad day for the country. I think it was a sad day for the presidency. The whole world is watching. And Nick, I think you may recall that when President Nixon resigned, we were reminded in our office we shouldn't be celebrating, that it was a tragedy. So, I think this was just unfortunate.
But getting back to the question at hand, I think legally, elevating this to a felony is -- I'm not going to say it's incorrect, but I think it's untested. And I think it's more of a federal case.
Nick and my former office where we work, the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney's Office, they took a pass on this. And it was not all the bar Justice Department which did, but then the Biden Justice Department. The U.S. attorney also took a look at it. And they also decided for whatever reason, it was not appropriate to go on.
And to prosecute -- and one other thing, in terms of my offer to join the Trump legal team, I've been asked if I had any regrets, and until the last couple of days, my answer was absolutely not. I still don't have any except as a trial lawyer, I would just love to cross examine Michael Cohen.
Every time he goes on TV -- Nick -- I would ask Nick or anyone else. Have you ever had a cooperator when you're a prosecutor who goes on every possible TV show and talks and talks and talks and gives you more (INAUDIBLE) to cross examine? If you can create reasonable doubt with one juror that Michael Cohen is not telling the truth, I don't care how much so-called corroboration you have, that's a not guilty verdict.
SALE: He's walking (INAUDIBLE).
CAMEROTA: Well, it's interesting you say that because the judge today talked about how everybody basically needs to quiet down. But that was because of, you know, creating civil unrest and of threats. But we'll get to that in a moment.
But first, to your question of why the other, um, other prosecutors passed on it, Alvin Bragg talked about that today. So, here's what he said is different about his case than his predecessors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALVIN BRAGG, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The scheme violated New York election law, which makes it a crime to conspire, to promote a candidacy by unlawful means. The $130,000 wire payment exceeded the federal campaign contribution cap. And the false statements in AMI's books violated New York law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Let me play one more thing because the one that I wanted was Alvin Bragg talking about the evidence. So, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAGG: We have had available to the office additional evidence that was not in the office's possession prior to my time here. Text messages, emails, contemporaneous phone records, multiple witnesses, all of that will be, as you saw in the fall, born out in a public courtroom in downtown Manhattan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Okay, Karen, so that's why he says that he was able to do it when his predecessors, as Jon Sale just pointed out, did not. They had -- he had more evidence, he says.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right, he did say that. Actually, that supports the case. But, you know, I think the other thing that's really critically important is -- again, we've talked about this as hush money. It wasn't just hush money. Number one, let's think about this, hush money is used so that people in power can continue to abuse their power. We have many instances of that.
But secondly, this was about, as you said, subverting democracy. The American people had a right to know the details, make their own decision, and he decided that we didn't need -- the voters didn't need to know that.
And so, you know, weak or strong case, I think it's -- we're going to have to continue to (INAUDIBLE) between the political -- political story versus the legal. And I think what is good legally may not always be good politically. Clearly, Donald Trump doesn't care based on his speech tonight. He's just going to say what he wants to say.
COLEMAN HUGHES, PODCAST HOST: So, I think one thing we've learned with Trump is that voters don't actually care as much as we thought about that personal stuff, like voters knew who Donald Trump was when they vote, when they pulled the lever. They knew he was the kind of guy that would have an affair, frankly. And we've seen other politicians do this, too.
And so, for me, it seems this legal case faces two uphill battles. One is that it's not clear whether the payout was a federal crime and that's -- we see this equivocation from the Biden's Justice Department.
And then there's this second hurdle of, can you actually use a federal crime to upgrade that state misdemeanor to a felony? And that has never been done before. Right?
And so, right now, it seems that odds are against Alvin Bragg. He has a lot to prove. He has everything to prove right here. And Trump's legal team is probably feeling somewhat confident. CAMEROTA: Mosheh, here is what the statement of facts, why Alvin Bragg was able to connect it at least in his argument to the campaign finance laws. And he says, the defendant directed lawyer A, Michael Cohen, to delay making a payment to woman 2, Stormy Daniels, as long as possible. He instructed, basically Michael Cohen, that if they could delay the payment until after the election, they could avoid paying altogether, because at that point, it would not matter if the story became public.
MOSHEH OINOUNOU, FOUNDER, MO NEWS: Absolutely. But I think that, you know, one of the questions people are asking is number one, the Department of Justice didn't pursue this. Number two, the Federal Election Commission didn't pursue this.
Incidentally, there was one fine paid related to, uh, misallocation or are not correctly allocating your expenses in 2016. Hillary Clinton paid a fine to the FEC in 2016 for what they paid to Steele -- for the Steele dossier, right? The opposition research against Trump. What did they file that in as the Clinton campaign? As legal expense. They paid a fine for that.
So, I think there are ways to look at the data. I mean, I've been talking to voters today, Democrats, independents and Republicans, people who have voted for Trump, people who never voted for Trump, and a lot of people are asking, like, uh, this feels like a stretch. I don't know that this changes my opinion on him and, um, and they're just generally confused.
And I think that speaks to Jon's point, which is, how you can convince a jury unanimously to convict this guy, if trying to explain what this crime is, is so complex.
FINNEY: But yet he was able to get an indictment. I mean, there was, you know, a grand jury of everyday Americans who heard the evidence on both sides and said, yes, we will vote to indict.
I mean, that --
It's a different standard but it still carries weight.
AKERMAN: You can always get an indictment, though. That is the problem.
FINNEY: I think that -- I don't want to take issue with that because I think that suggests that the American people who sat on that grand jury didn't take the seriousness. If you're going to vote to indict a former president, that is not just around Joe around the corner, and I think they took that very seriously.
AKERMAN: I'm sure you're right but I've done zillions of grand juries, and if you present something to him and you ask them to vote for it, they vote for it. That real key here is this is not a complicated case. That's why this indictment is so good. It is very simple.
The violations here are state income tax violations. You're going to get some boring accountant up on the witness stand who is going to take the jury right from the false documents, right straight through the tax returns, false returns that were filed in New York State. That's a felony. That's simple. There's nothing strange or novel about that at all.
There are also New York State election law violations that they're going to be able to tie it to. So, it's not tied just to federal law, which is not so strange either because a lot of federal law and state law relies on each other's laws in order to come up with a crime.
CAMEROTA: Okay. Obviously, we shall see. Thank you all for your perspectives. Panel, stick around. When we come back, we're going to talk about how Donald Trump looked in court today. It was a different Trump than we're used to, from his body language to his facial expressions.
FINNEY: It worked out.
CAMEROTA: Well done. Well done. All right, no one has ever seen this before in the United States. A former president sitting at a defense table inside a criminal courtroom. And the visuals were striking, from Donald Trump's body language to his facial expression, what it all telegraphed.
I'm back with Karen, Nick, Mosheh, and Coleman. So, guys, as viewers can tell you, I'm a body language expert --
-- or I can't see myself one. And so, Mosheh, what I saw was Donald Trump looking different than he is. You know, sometimes, he comes in and commands a room, as we know, or commands a rally. This was him at a table. We have pictures. He looks sort of tired. His eyes look kind of glazed. He was sort of hunched over.
He wasn't sort of sitting proudly as though I've got this, I'm going to -- he didn't -- reporters in the courtroom describe him as walking in noticeably markedly slowly. He didn't sort of comment, spoiling for a fight. It just -- what -- what did you see in the courtroom today?
OINOUNOU: I saw that he definitely had a talking to by his lawyers in advance. I mean -- and ultimately, I imagine they said to him, listen, this is unpredictable, we need to go in humble to extent that is possible --
-- and then ultimately, this is a rare situation for Mr. President where you aren't in charge of the room, you aren't in charge of the meeting, you aren't in charge of what's going to be the result. And so, this is a rare situation in the past, I don't know, seven years where he hasn't -- he has gone into a situation where he hasn't, you know, it's like this in the presidential debates. And even there, he has an ability to kind of take control. In this case, no control.
HUGHES: Can I completely disagree with that?
CAMEROTA: Yeah, please.
HUGHES: Donald Trump doesn't strike me as a kind of man who becomes humble after one conversation, you know, like this. He doesn't strike me as the type of person that can snap into a kind of mellow humility. Right? I think he is on all the time.
So, what I read when I see his -- and I agree, kind of lack of energy both in the courtroom and in his speech. Actually, the speech was short and it was also only about 70 to 80% the volume and intensity --
CAMEROTA: It was also on prompter. I thought it was interesting. He wasn't just riffing. He had written that. Somebody had written that out for him.
CAMEROTA: But what did you see?
HUGHES: Well, what I see is someone that really is tired. Someone that is exhausted. Maybe even a little bit, uh, afraid of what's happening. Like I said, I think the odds are still with his legal team over Bragg at this stage, but it looks like genuine exhaustion rather than a strategy for the court.
AKERMAN: Let me just say, I've done this hundreds of times as a prosecutor, going to arrangements and having people come in, nobody comes in happy. Nobody comes skipping into the courtroom. They don't take control. They can't take control. There's a judge sitting in a bench that's above you. You're down there. All you can do is say, yes, your honor and yes, sir. You cannot take control. You can't be a bully like Donald Trump normally does when he's out in public.
This was a whole new setting for Donald Trump. He was there just like any other defendant that is brought into a courtroom, who sits there and cowers in front of the judge.
When the judge walks in, everybody stands up. When the judge walks out, then people stand up and then they sit down. This is a whole new world for Donald Trump where he is not the king of the room, and that's what you saw today. FINNEY: Actually, you know, what I feel like I saw shifted after I saw him speak, because knowing the psychology of Donald Trump, in 2016, one of the things in the aftermath we heard from his people is they would -- you know, build a wall. Right? He couldn't remember the policy on immigration, so they said, just say build the wall. And he got a great reaction. So, he kept saying it rallies. They would just give him phrases to say. Right?
This looks more to me like they said, look, from door to door, you got to do what we say, then you get to go to your press conference. That was sort of more of a carrot and stick. Now, they probably -- I would imagine the lawyers were probably not so happy with what was in the prompter, and I wonder if that will come back and bite them simply because it was clearly written out.
It was the best hits of grievances, but very specific attacks again on the judge, his daughter, the other prosecutors. To see that in a written speech in the teleprompter completely flouting what the judge --
FINNEY: -- just hours prior --
CAMEROTA: We are going to talk about that in a minute in our next segment because the judge gave very explicit instruction about what -- how to tone it down, and it took Donald Trump about four hours to break -- to violate that request from the judge.
FINNEY: He was probably --
CAMEROTA: We will play that.
FINNEY: He was probably sitting there thinking, oh, I'm -- oh, I got you, I'm going to -- like he was probably writing that speech in his head as he sat there.
AKERMAN: Let me just make one other point. One other thing that the Trump team tried to do and they did it successfully was to keep the judge from having cameras in the courtroom so that they could actually televised the whole proceeding, and they claimed that was because it would be a circus atmosphere.
They did it because they knew that that would make Donald Trump look really small and that it would put him in a very unfavorable light and would not make great footage for a campaign commercial.
CAMEROTA: Fair. But the judge did allow a still photographer, five pool still photographers, which is why we have these photos of him, which I just think sometimes still photos are even more telling. I mean, they captured these moments. I just think that we don't often see this expression of him looking again in that sort of hunched posture. What the way, Mosheh, I saw it, having been, you know, around Donald Trump personally and in the same room several times, is that this is when he didn't know what was in the indictment. This is when he didn't know what was coming. And, you know, pundits have been saying there might be a surprise in there. We don't know what those 34 counts are. We have no idea. So, I see someone bracing a little bit more here, and then tonight back in his element.
OINOUNOU: Right. During the court appearance today is when the prosecutors asked for a gag order. Right? There were a bunch of intangibles, unpredictable things that were about to take place. So, the last thing he wanted to do was to potentially bring that upon himself.
So, in this case, he's deferential, you know, like -- I know you disagree, but ultimately, this is -- this is the man that has been described by multiple reporters in the courtroom today. And then he was back home at Mar-a-Lago. What did the reporters say? Deejaying and, you know, doing his thing amongst his crew.
So, he was on good behavior today in court, and he doesn't have to be back till what? December 4th?
FINNEY: For this one.
AKERMAN: There's going to be another one by the end of April.
CAMEROTA: What makes you think that?
AKERMAN: Simply because the special grand jury came down in the middle of January. In Fulton County, the regular grand juries are two months each. They went from January to February this year. The new ones came in on March 1st. So, it will be March to April 1st. So, my guess, best guess is that by the end of April, we're going to see an indictment from Fulton County.
CAMEROTA: Okay, friends, thank you very much. You heard it here first.
Meanwhile, as we've been discussing, the judge told everyone connected to the case today to refrain from making any statements that could jeopardize the well-being of anyone. It took Donald Trump about four hours to violate that. So now, what? That's next.
CAMEROTA: The judge in Trump's case warning everyone today not to make statements that could incite violence or civil unrest or threatened the well-being of any person. It took Donald Trump about four hours to do the opposite of that request when, during his speech at Mar-a-Lago, he personally attacked the judge.
I'm back with my panel. Okay, so here's what the judge said in the courtroom today. Let me read it to everybody. He said, please refrain from making comments or engaging in conduct that has the potential to incite violence, create civil unrest or jeopardize the safety or well- being of any individuals. Please do not engage in words or conduct which jeopardizes the rule of law, particularly as it applies to these proceedings in this court.
Four hours later, Nick, Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago went after -- insulted the judge, called him names, went after his wife and his daughter, talked about where his daughter has worked. Don, Jr., the former president's son, put up a picture on social media of the daughter. Does that violate the judge's request?
AKERMAN: I would think it would. But the judge is kind of in a bind here. He's got to be very careful what he does. I mean, I wouldn't think that right away, he's going to put a gag order on Donald Trump.
I mean, what's different about this case is that Donald Trump is running for president and for political office, and he's out there campaigning. So, my guess is he's going to do pretty much as the judge did in the Roger Stone situation. If you recall, Roger Stone actually had a photograph of the judge with crosshairs in kind of a site for a rifle, and she brought him in and basically read him the Riot Act and that sort of took care of the problem.
And I kind of think that's what the judge is going to do here. I don't see them -- see him entering a gag order so quickly because this is -- this is a tough case.
CAMEROTA: (INAUDIBLE) with the warning.
FINNEY: The judge actually did during the proceedings say that because of his First Amendment rights, doubly so because he is a candidate for president. So, he already kind of gave him a special accommodation as a candidate.
And again, not even for hours on his way back to Mar-a-Lago, tweets go out. They're trying to raise money. There was a t-shirt and already made with the fake mug shot. So, as the judge was talking, they were already violating that.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. I mean, this is -- this has real life consequences, as we know, tragically. I've interviewed many times Judge Esther Salas whose son and husband were shot by, you know, an aggrieved attorney who had appeared in their courtroom.
This -- this happens. This is real. And so, you know, it is not fun and games. I mean, I know that Don, Jr. puts out this stuff without thinking about how reckless it is. But the judge said, if you don't comply -- the judge said, as you point out, that he's very reluctant to do a gag order. But if they don't comply, that he would call them back in, basically. Your thoughts, Coleman?
HUGHES: These words can have real consequences. I mean, we saw what happened to Paul Pelosi. We saw the threats on Brett Kavanaugh. This is a disturbing trend in American political life of, you know, people stirring up, you know, violent and mentally unsound individuals to go commit violence against our public figures.
And Trump should be ashamed of himself for contributing to that rhetoric. But again, it has been his style for years. This is nothing new. Um, but it's worth reiterating that this is a very harmful trend in American life.
CAMEROTA: Mosheh, one person who has used violent rhetoric against various elected officials as well as other people is the congresswoman from Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Greene. She announced that she was coming to New York to stage a protest in support of Donald Trump. She did that. But she was greeted by counter protesters today.
And she beat an extremely hasty retreat away from her protest. She had gone there to try to, you know, speak out in terms of Donald Trump. And she was able to for a few minutes. And then she was shouted down by, again, counter protesters. And that's her basically retreating because this is New York City. This isn't Georgia.
OINOUNOU: It's not home court. It is the home stadium. It was interesting. I mean, for as calm as things were inside the sort of circus outside. Right? So, we had a reporter out there. They counted about 300 media, 300 journalists, about 150 protesters, 100 of them anti-Trump, 50 pro-Trump.
Marjorie is out there. I guess George Santos made an appearance as well. Um, and then Congresswoman Greene did an interview where she then compared former president to Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ.
FINNEY: On the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. Let's just add that.
Right. Actually, the interview, I was told by a Republican operative, was with her boyfriend. He actually was the person conducting the interview. He happens to be a podcaster.
CAMEROTA: Marjorie Taylor Greene?
FINNEY: Yes, apparently.
CAMEROTA: Did she have a husband?
AKERMAN: She did.
CAMEROTA: That I can't tell you. Got it.
CAMEROTA: It is intriguing.
FINNEY: Just going to keep getting more bizarre.
OINOUNOU: But I think, you know, it speaks to -- they feel energized. In another network tonight, Lindsey Graham was on begging viewers, if you have $4, $3, donate it to Donald Trump right now.
CAMEROTA: And it is working, by the way. I mean, they have raised millions. We don't know exactly how many because we can't necessarily trust the Trump team to give us the exact amount.
OINOUNOU: But we are going to see it reported (ph).
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. And it has worked.
CAMEROTA: This has energized.
OINOUNOU: Ultimately, his -- one of his court arguments is they're out to get me. Well, they literally indicted -- they indicted him today. So, you know, he has had his stick for years, you know. Ket's go back to 2016. They came after me on impeachment one, impeachment two, yada, yada and yada. And it felt old for a bit until today. It has received a fresh boost, right, literally from the D.A. of New York.
So, that has energized him. That has energized the court base. Now, the question is, he has a primary campaign to run against the Republicans and he has got a general election campaign to run, and I'm, you know, curious as to how independent -- this will play with independents out there in the fall of '24.
FINNEY: I think what it showed and today I think really helped Democrats and independents. I think democracy -- we just saw last week with the PBS/Marist poll that independents and Democrats' concerns about protecting democracy are like number one and number two. And we know that from the post-election polls in 2022. People who moved from Republican to vote Democrat did so because of their concerns from January 6th.
I think the other thing, you know, Lindsey Graham and all these Republicans have to worry, if there is violence. They own that. All those republicans who have been in the tank for him and defending him, obviously, they will try to step away if that happens, but I do think they own that because they are also contributing -- CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, you say that, but January 6th, they've managed to sort of step away from a recast, I guess, as not violence that they own.
FINNEY: That's true. But they did take a hit at the -- during the election, 2022. They didn't win the big majority they thought they were going to get.
AKERMAN: And there is going to be a big indictment from Georgia. It could change all that because you're not going to just have Donald Trump in the dock. It's going to be some of his cohorts.
CAMEROTA: You are full of predictions, Nick.
Nick ends every one of our blocks with a bombshell prediction. All right, well done. Thank you. All right, meanwhile, multiple investigations, now an arrest and arraignment. Our presidential historian is here next with what this all means.
CAMEROTA: A former U.S. president standing before a judge answering to 34 criminal charges. In our 245-year history, this has never happened. The panel is back with me, and we're joined by presidential historian Timothy Naftali. Tim, great to have you here. Your thoughts as you watched all of this today?
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, my first thought was that the founders anticipated that this would happen at some point. Not involving these details, but they did anticipate in Article I of our Constitution that this could happen, that someone could commit a crime while they were in office, and then once they left office, they could face criminal charges.
So, in a sense, it took us a long time to get here, but this is a road that was not unpredicted by our founders.
CAMEROTA: That's really interesting. And it is interesting that it took so long to get here. We had a few close calls before this.
NAFTALI: Well, I want to talk about a couple of close calls because I think it puts into context what we saw tonight.
NAFTALI: And I'm talking about the Mar-a-Lago speech. For me, I felt like this was a split screen day, and the first screen was the morning -- the afternoon, I mean. The second was the evening. It was somber, sad. It's never nice to watch somebody come and be arraigned. Uh, um, the president, former president, looked sad. He looked -- it looked as if he had finally understood the nature of what he was facing.
And then in the evening, the show, where President Trump spoke as if this is one long narrative of victimhood. He went back to 2016. He took us through every -- every station of the cross until now. And he spoke with venom about those moments that we as a nation are still coming to grips with.
I mean, he talked about having been stolen, having the election stolen from him. It's like January 6th never happened. We were trying to process to this day. The violence that occurred on Capitol Hill and the speech tonight, it was magical thinking it never happened.
So, the two indictments, to a certain degree, both Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon showed some contrition. To some degree, both Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon understood the pain that they had taken this country through. And to some extent, both the independent counsel and the special prosecutor of the day, the name changed.
Ah, reflected on that, and it shaped their decision about whether to indict or not. In the case of the special prosecutor, the pardon came first. But I think the evidence is reasonably clear. Nick may have some other thoughts on this, too, that Leon Jaworski, who was the special prosecutor in the Nixon case, actually didn't want to indict Nixon because he didn't think Nixon would get a fair trial.
So, think about the contrition and to some extent the willingness to admit error of Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon and contrast it with tonight. One of the things that we are facing today isn't on chasing demagogue. And our country is not good at dealing with demagogues. There wasn't a lot of courage shown in the McCarthy period. There wasn't a lot of courage shown in the George Wallace period. We are not good at processing demagogues.
Now, smarter people than me will tell you why. I don't know why, but we're bad at it. And tonight, we heard a demagogue who was pretending that he had committed no errors. And at the very least, say what you will about what happened today in New York, but a group of grand jurors felt strong enough to say that the former commander-in-chief should at least go to trial on the basis of alleged crimes.
That commander-in-chief showed no contrition, no respect for the institutions of the criminal law, and once again, I think -- I think dared us all. His approach, again, unlike Bill Clinton and unlike Richard Nixon, was not to explain what he did and then accept that he had made errors --
NAFTALI-- but to tear down the system that dared challenge him.
CAMEROTA: And so, Nick, did you see that difference?
AKERMAN: Absolutely. It goes back to Huey Long. We've had this problem for a number of years in this country. With Huey Long, it was just pure happenstance that he got assassinated. I mean, he posed a real threat to Roosevelt back in 1934 along with Reverend Coughlin. I mean, that was right in the middle of the depression when Germany had the same problem and wound up with Adolf Hitler. And we didn't.
I mean, our democracy survived, but it's hard to deal with a demagogue. I totally agree with you. I mean, Richard Nixon at least could listen to reason when Barry Goldwater and a group of senators went to the Oval Office and said, look, the jig is up, we've got you the tape, you've been lying to us, you've got to go. He left.
NAFTALI: Can you imagine if Richard -- you know -- and when Richard Nixon accepted the Supreme Court decision that was against him. Could you imagine Donald Trump accepting a decision that went against him? He would attack the Supreme Court. He would tear down each person individually. He would try to bring the system down around him for his own sake.
HUGHES: How do you think Nixon would have reacted if he got indicted, actually?
NAFTALI: Nixon expected to. In fact, he had a conversation with Nelson Rockefeller, who had just been nominated vice president of United States, where he anticipated he would be indicted. And he was asking people what it be like to be in jail. Richard Nixon expected to be indicted. And he knew he was guilty.
AKERMAN: And all of his -- all of his cohorts have been indicted.
HUGHES: -- he have gone like secret Nixon tapes on the -- on the country.
CAMEROTA: Very quickly. Ten seconds.
NAFTALI: I think Richard Nixon would have accepted the indictment.
Ah, Richard Nixon cared even though he committed crimes. He cared about the institutions of this country, and he wanted his legacy to be that he was a great president. Donald Trump has yet to show that he cares about the institution of the presidency.
CAMEROTA: Tim, thank you very much, really great to get historical perspective always. We are going to have much more on today's events. Donald Trump arrested and arraigned. Next, some election results are coming in to CNN in Chicago and Wisconsin, races that have implications for some of the most hotly debated issues facing this country.
CAMEROTA: It's election night and CNN can project that Janet Protasiewicz, a Milwaukee County circuit court judge, will win a critical seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, shifting the balance towards liberals for the first time in more than a decade.
This is a consequential outcome since the state's highest court is getting ready to settle a legal battle over Wisconsin's law that bans abortion in nearly all circumstances.
This race shattered spending records on the state judicial elections and shows how abortion is motivating voters nearly a year after Roe versus Wade was overturned.
We can also project that progressive Brandon Johnson will become the next mayor of Chicago, defeating Paul Vallas, a moderate Democrat. Johnson campaigned on promoting more detectives, arguing that solving more crimes would increase Chicago residents trust in police and deter more crimes.
Our live coverage continues right after this. We have more on Donald Trump's arrest and what happens next.