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CNN Tonight

Trump Faces New Charges In Docs Case, Including Obstruction; Trump's Team Meets with Special Counsel; Bronny James is Released from Hospital. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 27, 2023 - 23:00   ET



REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): We can't have people that are confused. And I -- it's sad to say, um, we should -- we should have some humanity here and some compassion, but at the same time, we need generational change in our government.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: All right, Congressman Tim Ryan, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

RYAN: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

PHILLIP: And thank you for joining me tonight on "CNN PRIMETIME". I'm Abby Phillip. CNN TONIGHT with Alisyn Camerota starts right now. Alisyn, hey.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hey, Abby, great to see you. Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN TONIGHT.

New charges against Donald Trump in the classified documents case. Prosecutors allege that Trump instructed two of his employees, Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira, to delete security camera footage of Mar-a-Lago that showed top secret documents being moved around.

Page 29 of the superseding indictment out tonight reads -- quote -- "De Oliveira then insisted to Trump Employee 4 that 'the boss' wanted the server deleted and asked, 'what are we going to do?'"

And you'll remember that audio tape that CNN obtained that captured Donald Trump apparently showing secret documents to a group of people who did not have security clearances. We now know that the special counsel knows exactly what was on that secret document. Just to remind you, here is how Donald Trump described it then.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): These are bad sick people, but --

UNKNOWN (voice-over): That was your coup, you know, against you. That --

TRUMP (voice-over): Well, it started right at the -- UNKNOWN (voice-over): Like when Milley is talking about, oh, you were going to try to do a coup. No, they were trying to do that before you even were sworn in.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): That's right.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Trying to overthrow your election.

TRUMP (voice-over): Well, with Milley, uh, let me see that, I'll show you an example. He said that I wanted to attack Iran.


TRUMP (voice-over): Isn't it amazing? I have a big pile of papers. This thing just came up. 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.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Wow.

TRUMP (voice-over): We looked at some. This was him. This wasn't done by me, this was him. All sorts of stuff-pages long, look.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Hmm.

TRUMP (voice-over): Wait a minute, let's see here.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Oh my gosh.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah.

TRUMP (voice-over): I just found -- isn't that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Uh-hmm.

TRUMP (voice-over): Except it is like, highly confidential.



TRUMP (voice-over): Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this. You attack, and --

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Hillary would print that out all the time, you know.

TRUMP (voice-over): She'd send it --

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Her private emails.

TRUMP (voice-over): No, she'd send it to Anthony Weiner.


The pervert.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Please print.

TRUMP (voice-over): By the way, isn't that incredible?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah.

TRUMP (voice-over): I was just thinking, because we were talking about it. And you know, he said, he wanted to attack Iran, and what -- these are the papers.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): You did.

TRUMP (voice-over): This was done by the military and given to me. Uh, I think we can probably, right?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): I don't know, we'll -- we'll have to see. Yeah, we'll have to try to --

TRUMP (voice-over): Declassify it.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): -- figure out a -- yeah.

TRUMP (voice-over): See as president I could have declassified it.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah.


TRUMP (voice-over): Now I can't, you know, but this is still a secret.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah.


Now we have a problem.

TRUMP (voice-over): Isn't that interesting?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah.

TRUMP (voice-over): It's so cool. I mean, it's so -- look, her and I, and you probably almost didn't believe me, but now you believe me.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): No, I believed you.

TRUMP (voice-over): It's incredible, right? UNKNOWN (voice-over): No, they never met a war they didn't want.

TRUMP (voice-over): Hey, bring some, uh, bring some Cokes in please.


CAMEROTA: Let's get right to CNN's Zachary Cohen in Washington. Zach, that was just amazing, to hear that all again. So, tell us how these new charges relate to that audio.

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: This indictment does relate to that audio recording you just listened to that CNN broke about a month ago. And it relates to an Iran military attack plan that Trump, you know, as you heard for yourself there, was showing off to people in his office and talking about Mark Milley and his role in that document.

And that -- that document was noticeably absent in the first indictment, which included 31 classified documents. But today's indictment included one additional one, making it 32. We now know that document relates to the Iran attack plan that was mentioned in that recording.

And look, this really does go a long way in contradicting Trump's subsequent denials that what he's talking about in that recording were even a document at all. He has, you know, come up with various excuses, saying that maybe there were press clippings or whatever.

But it's clear now in this indictment that prosecutors feel they have enough to charge this document specifically as a 32nd classified document that Trump willfully retained after he left office.

CAMEROTA: So, Zachary, when we first -- I remember when CNN first obtained that audio, we didn't know exactly where that document was or what was on it. Now, do we?

COHEN: That was sort of the big mystery in the first indictment, right? It was noticeably absent. It now appears that prosecutors have managed to get a hold of that document that he has mentioned on that recording. And it's still not clear how they managed to do that or in what form.


But it does -- it is very clear that prosecutors feel they have enough evidence now to bring criminal charges related to that document specifically as they've added it as the 32nd document that Trump kept after he left office.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So -- and what about the new charges surrounding the destruction of video evidence?

COHEN: Yeah, the indictment is really remarkable since it lays out a really detailed timeline of how Trump allegedly with these two Mar-a- Lago employees sought to delete security footage from Mar-a-Lago, footage that we know shows two employees moving boxes allegedly containing classified documents in them.

The indictment includes a new co-defendant, Carlos de Oliveira, who is, you know, was not included in the first indictment, obviously, but he's now being charged with crimes related to this alleged destruction or attempted destruction of the surveillance videotape at Mar-a-Lago.

And one of the most remarkable things is after the FBI searched Mar-a- Lago, and there's text messages that prosecutors have clearly obtained that they say shows that President Trump himself, these two Mar-a-Lago employees were talking about how Trump himself is the one who wanted the surveillance video ultimately deleted.

And so, it really, for the first time, does provide evidence that Trump may have been the one who ordered the surveillance video to be destroyed, and that has been a big question to investigations to the very beginning.

CAMEROTA: Okay, Zachary, thank you very much for all of that reporting. I want to bring in now former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams. We also have John Miller, our chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, and James Schultz, who was a Trump White House lawyer. Gentlemen, great to have you tonight.

Elliot, as though the original allegations of mishandling top secret and classified documents weren't enough.


CAMEROTA: These are worse. I mean, this allege attempting to alter, destroy, mutilate and conceal evidence, am I right that legally, these are worse?

WILLIAMS: It's bad and it's also if you look at the timeline that's laid out in the indictment, it's after they received a draft grand jury subpoena. So, they are on notice that the feds are looking for information that's at Mar-a-Lago. It's then at that point that they say, you know what, there's probably incriminating information on our security footage, let's work together and get it deleted.

And in fact, there's at least one phone call from the president to the head of maintenance, I believe, was his role at Mar-a-Lago. They speak on the telephone. And then thereafter, there -- a number of employees get together to delete security footage.

It is the kind of literally Abbott and Costello level incompetence of individuals who were -- we'll just back up. What possesses somebody when there's word of a federal investigation to say, you know what, it might be a good idea for us to just go through the footage of us doing incriminating acts and get it deleted? It's just senseless --

CAMEROTA: I don't know. John --

WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean --

CAMEROTA: -- someone to want to delete video evidence. JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I invoke Rose Mary Woods at this point. You know, if you go back to Watergate and, you know, the 18 minutes of the Nixon tapes that were deleted, this is a failed technique that we know from history.

So, it's just amazing that in a case where you might be charged with obstruction of justice for hiding the documents or lying about it, that you actually drill down into the very definition of obstruction of justice, which is to take multiple affirmative steps to do away with evidence that could prove the case. It's kind of remarkable.

CAMEROTA: Uh, Jim, what are Donald Trump's attorneys doing tonight and thinking about tonight?

JAMES SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Look -- I mean, the government's case -- they had a very strong case when they brought the indictment in first place. The case just got better. Right? When we have facts like these with corroborating witnesses, with text messages, with telephone calls, you know, that is very, very strong evidence.

And, you know, as far as what they're thinking tonight, I mean, I have to be thinking that they're reviewing the superseding indictment and trying to come up with some strategy to limit evidence from making its way before the jury. I'm not sure they get there.

CAMEROTA: You can't think of any strategy that would work.

SCHULTZ: No, I don't see any pathway, you know, from what we know, and we don't know some things, but any strategy where they could limit evidence by motions (INAUDIBLE) and the like to try to prevent the jury from seeing certain evidence that might have -- that might otherwise be incriminating. So, without limiting evidence, this is a really strong case.

CAMEROTA: Elliot, here are some of the evidence that at least the prosecutors are presenting in the indictment. I'll just read you a quote about Trump Employee 4 and someone trying to get him to delete this stuff, this surveillance video.

So here it is. Quote -- "De Oliveira told Trump employee number four," we don't know who that is, "that the boss wanted the server deleted."


"Trump Employee 4 responded that he would not know how to do that, and that he did not believe that he would have the right to do that. Trump Employee 4 told de Oliveira," who was the chief by the way of maintenance at Mar-a-Lago, "that de Oliveira would have to reach out to another employee who was a supervisor of security for Trump's business organization. De Oliveira then insisted to Employee 4 that the boss wanted the server deleted and asked, what are we going to do?"

WILLIAMS: So, if -- let me take off my prosecutor hat and put on my defense attorney hat. Here's how you would poke holes in all of that. Number one, in order to bring that evidence in front of a jury, you've got to have the testimony of Employee 4.

CAMEROTA: Sounds like they do.

WILLIAMS: Well -- well, you got to put him in front of the jury. And that he's subject or she is being subject to cross-examined to having their credibility poked at. So, wait, do you have an axe to grind with the former president, your former boss?

Were you disgruntled in some way and you plant that seed in one jury's head that this person -- did you vote for John Kerry or did you vote for whoever -- what other Democrats -- Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, whoever else it might have been along the way? Are you a registered Democrat?

All of these things could be used to attack the credibility of this witness, and it's all fair game for court.

CAMEROTA: On the timeline that Elliot was referring to before, I don't know if we put that up, but let's do it again. So, on June 24th, John, the DOJ emails Trump's attorney with a subpoena requiring all surveillance records. Okay, then at 1.25 p.m., Trump's attorney speaks with Trump about this subpoena.

Then two hours later, 3:44, Walt Nauta informed -- it was informed that Trump wants to see him. And then two hours later, Walt Nauta changes his own travel plans and goes to Palm Beach, and he meets with de Oliveira, who's the head of maintenance, and they contact the IT director.

So, is that damning evidence in your mind, that timeline there?

MILLER: I think when you look at it, Walt Nauta is supposed to go to Bedminster with Donald Trump and instead is dispatched back to Mar-a- Lago where he does two important things.

First, he reaches out to the head of maintenance and has a series of calls and then a meeting just off the property, which is followed by going to Employee 4, who in context could be the head of IT services where the video is kept, and asked him about deleting the entire server.

So, you see a chain there. But you also see something else. As Elliot knows far better than I do, a prosecution can hang on a witness or can hang on a tape. But a good prosecution is elemental, which is apparently, if they attempted to delete it as it's written in the indictment, it suggests that they didn't succeed, which could mean two things.

One, that they deleted it, so they thought, and the FBI was able to recover it from the bottom of those servers and bring it back. That has happened in many cases where they recover information that people believe they deleted.

Either way, the indictment describes going down the tunnel, de Oliveira and Walt Nauta with flashlights towards the storage room, pointing out the cameras. This is highly suggestive that they have all those videotapes. In the original indictment, there's references to videotapes of boxes being moved.

So when you string all that together, the change of travel plans, going down the tunnel with the flashlights, talking to the IT people, asking for deletions, and when he says, I don't know how to do that and I don't have the right to do it in technical speak, in IT world speak, that means probably I don't think I have the administrative rights on the system to delete the entire server, I'm going the next level up to talk to the head of security. So, there's a lot there.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Jim, remember when President Trump spoke to Bret Baier about these classified documents? He referred to them as -- in that audio tape that we heard as top secret, okay? And he spoke to Bret Baier about what he was doing with them and why he was showing them to people without security clearances. So, here's that moment.


TRUMP: There was no document. That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things. And it may have been held up or may not, but that was not a document. I didn't have a document per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles.


CAMEROTA: Jim, do you think that that causes him trouble, that trial? Because it's so different than what we hear on the audiotape and what the prosecutors reportedly have in their possession?

SCHULTZ: Well, they purportedly have the document now, that 32nd document. And there were people in the room that likely saw that document. Those folks were likely interviewed and testified before the grand jury and likely corroborated that was the document that was put before them.

So, if all of that happened, that's a big problem for Donald Trump. No doubt about it. And all this comes back to, okay, the moving of the boxes, the attempt of deleting of the videotape, all of those things.


That comes back to -- remember, his argument in the beginning was, I could just declassify all these documents. Well, if he could just declassify all the documents, why go to all those steps, right? That's certainly troubling for him. And now, they actually have the document that, you know, we had been looking for at the time of the last indictment and the superseding indictments as reference.

CAMEROTA: And also, on that audiotape, you hear him say, as president, I could have declassified this. Now, I can't. So, that --


CAMEROTA: -- also seems to be problematic. All right, we have much more info on this developing story. Next, we're going to speak to a Watergate prosecutor about what he hears in these new charges. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: Donald Trump faces new charges tonight in his mishandling of top-secret documents. We've also learned of a new co-defendant in that case. With me now is Jon Sale, who worked as an assistant prosecutor on the legal team investigating Watergate.


Jon is also the former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. Jon, great to see you. So, Jon, prosecutors say that Donald Trump asked his personal aide, Walt Nauta, and his head of maintenance, Carlos de Oliveira, to delete security camera footage at his Florida home in an attempt to keep them out of the hands of investigators. You, of course, were a prosecutor in Watergate. Does any of that ring a bell?

JON SALE, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Alisyn, Watergate -- one of the lessons of Watergate is the cover-up is worse than the crime. If this story could have had a whole different ending and it's -- this involves a former president. That's what makes it different.

But the issues here, we face them every day, those of us who are in this kind of a practice. We get a subpoena, and the first thing we tell a client is, we don't only say don't delete, we say take every precaution you can so that there's not even an inadvertent deletion, and then gather everything, don't go around. Like Elliot said, I think Abbott and Costello, I'd say like "Keystone Cops," go around deleting everything, produce everything.

And if that had happened, we wouldn't be here, we wouldn't be talking about this tonight. And if there are things you think you shouldn't produce, let's say the Presidential Records Act, which doesn't apply, but if you want to say it does, you submit what's called a log to the judge and you'll litigate that. And none of this would have happened.

But here we are. And you asked if I or if John or somebody who's a Trump lawyer, what would you do tonight besides tear my hair out? I would say, Mr. President, please don't go on television and talk about deleting servers and deleting surveillance footage. I mean, talk about political stuff. Please, I beg you, you can only make that as worse.

CAMEROTA: Hmm. We'll see if he takes that advice. I mean, Jon, as we were just talking about with Elliot, at first, we were talking about mishandling top secret documents, okay, which is bad enough. But now, it has changed to talking about destroying or trying to destroy evidence. So, does that change the timeline in your mind of being able to go to trial 10 months from now? It was set for May.

SALE: It should not. I mean, the only thing that potentially could is you have a new defendant and the new defendant has to get counsel, and they're going to come out and say, hey, I haven't even arraigned yet. So, I need more time to prepare, which would play into the Trump delay playbook. But this new defendant who -- Carlos, uh --

CAMEROTA: De Oliveira.

SALE: That's his last name. I don't even know his name, but tomorrow, he's going to be a household word all over the country. He is an ideal cooperator. He is somebody who the government would make a deal with, could use him.

And when they put in the indictment that Trump said, hey, we'll get you a lawyer, don't worry about it, something like that, third party paying, that's what we call it, that in and of itself is okay, but if he has an honest lawyer, an ethical lawyer, he's going to say, hey, Carlos, do what's best for you, do what's best for your family.

And if you want to go to trial, that's your absolute right because like in Watergate, the top aides to Richard Nixon went to trial and went to jail for him. But if these guys, either one of them, want to cooperate, they would make a strong case even stronger for the prosecution.

CAMEROTA: Jon, do you have a sense of why this info, which sounds very fundamental and critical to the case, wasn't part of the first indictment on June 8th about, you know, corruptly concealing national security info?

SALE: Well, they probably didn't have enough information to charge Carlos de Oliveira. They were continuing the investigation. And he's the head of maintenance. I mean, my God -- I mean, this is a relatively low-level person. I read somewhere that I think he was parking cars a year ago.

So, this is somebody who they probably were reluctant to charge. They probably reached out to him. They probably said, look, if you cooperate, you're going to have a lot less, if any, exposure. And they gave him a chance, and he didn't. So, they chose -- they had no choice but to supersede and include him because he was culpable.

CAMEROTA: Jon Sale, always great to get your opinion and expertise on this. Thank you very much.

SALE: Hey, thanks, Alisyn. Nice to see you.

CAMEROTA: You, too. Let's bring in our guests. We're back with Elliot Williams, John Miller, and Jim Schultz. Do you, Elliot, think that this will change the timeline? Can they still go to trial in May?

WILLIAMS: Well, they couldn't go to trial in May to begin with. That was a date that the judge had put on the calendar, which is common for judges to do, that I think many people, myself included, would have expected, would have slipped at some point.

Once those motions start coming in and once they start contesting evidence and so on, it would take more time. In addition, now you have an additional defendant and more charges. This case ain't going to trial in May.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So, how long does it extend to by? WILLIAMS: I'm not going even try to predict. It's going to be a long time. I know the big million-dollar question is, does it happen before the 2024 election? I can't make that prediction. But these classified documents cases, while they can be brought in several months, often they tend to take well more than a year to come to trial.

CAMEROTA: John, in terms of preparing for the trial, the government wants Donald Trump and his lawyers to have to go into a SCIF.


You know, a secure room, to talk about these highly classified top- secret documents. And tonight, his attorneys are making the case, can't we just do it at his house because it's more convenient? Your thoughts on that?

MILLER: It's a little ironic. I mean, the heart of the case is these documents were in an unprotected, unsecure environment, and they're putting their best foot forward saying we would like to keep them in this unsecured environment and talk about them out loud in a place that hasn't been swept for bugs, that isn't a lead-lined room.

These are extraordinarily high classifications, secret, no foreign distribution, top secret, SAP, Special Access Programs. These are things that only people with the highest clearances are supposed to even see. And they can only be kept, stored or discussed in a secure environment like a SCIF.

So, the idea of kind of casting all that to the side for the sake of convenience is a little tone deaf.

WILLIAMS: You know, there's tremendous irony, an additional point of irony, in the fact that often, presidents, attorneys, general and national security people have SCIFs at their houses. They will build these secure facilities into the residences of people who have to handle this information.

Again, it's not clear that there's one at Mar-a-Lago. And even if there is, he is a criminal defendant and it would be truly remarkable to put evidence in his hands to view at home. It's just how it works.

CAMEROTA: Jim, let's talk about another -- the other case that the special counsel, Jack Smith, is investigating, and that's January 6. So, today, we understand that Donald Trump's lawyers met with Jack Smith himself. Do you have a sense of what they were hoping for with this meeting?

SCHULTZ: So, we heard today or they came out of that, that they went in and they didn't talk about facts in the law, that they went in and talked about the impact this would have on the country. I don't think that's going to move Jack Smith one bit.

And prosecutors, typically, when you go in and have these discussions, they do a lot of listening and not a lot of talking. And that's probably what happened in this instance. They were given their opportunity to make their pitch. The pitch probably fell on deaf ears. And I think indictments coming soon.

CAMEROTA: Um, Jim, one more follow-up to you, because you raised it, Trump is apparently -- oh, well, this was in a Truth Social post. He says, my attorneys had a productive meeting with the DOJ this morning explaining that I did nothing wrong and was advised by many lawyers, and an indictment of me would only further destroy our country.

So, I understand that the destroying our country part probably won't move the special counsel. But what about I was advised by many lawyers? Is that a good defense? I mean, if your lawyers -- if his lawyers told him he could keep the classified documents, would that be a good defense?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think, you know, this was in the context of the January 6 case and in the context of discussing the overturning of the outcome of the ballot election --


SCHULTZ: -- and the discussions he had and the things that he -- information that he was getting from his lawyers. And he's going to try to rely upon that. The problem is he got a lot of information from a lot of folks. And we don't know what they have.

I expect there's going to be a very voluminous speaking indictment here that is going to go chapter and verse about people that had talked with him about, you know, the results of that election, the actual results of that election. And it's going to come into play as to whether or not, you know, he believed he won or lost that election, and whether it's reasonable that he believed that he won or lost that election.

I think we can all agree that it's not reasonable that he would have said that he won the election. But, you know, I think that's how that's going to play out. I think that's going to be an important -- they're going to be important facts they're going to play out throughout that indictment.

CAMEROTA: And when do you think that voluminous indictment is going to happen, Elliot?

WILLIAMS: Well, they're scheduled, I believe, to be back in session on Tuesday.

CAMEROTA: And they have to be in session to hand down the indictment.

WILLIAMS: Because they have to vote on the draft indictment that prosecutors provide to them. So, as long as the grand jury is in session, they can do it. Look, the former president received a letter about a week and a half ago indicating that he was about to be charged with a crime. Usually, an indictment follows from that pretty soon.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, indicating that he was a target.


WILLIAMS: Indicating, let me be clear, that he was a target --


WILLIAMS: -- it is incredibly unlikely that anyone who receives a target letter does not eventually get charged with a crime in relatively short order.

MILLER: And an invitation to testify on his own behalf in the grand jury without immunity. All of this spell out, we're wrapping up here, we're about to ring the bell, this is your chance to come in and tell your story.

And it's interesting because, as Mr. Schultz was saying, you know, the Trump defense in the Manhattan D.A.'s case is going to be essentially, Stormy Daniels shook me down for money, I paid her for her silence, then she broke her silence, why am I the defendant here?

His defense in the January 6 case is going to be, I had a bunch of lawyers telling me I was on solid ground, we had people doing investigations, we brought it to dozens of courts.


Yes, we got thrown out of all of those courts with our court papers, but on technical grounds, not on our evidence, and we were doing this by the book. This just makes the documents case --


MILLER: -- more important from a prosecutorial standpoint because you have facts that are more black and white here. Did you have the documents and were they classified? Did you try to hide them? Did you take affirmative steps to obstruct justice when people came looking for them? It may be the lesser offense than something that led to near insurrection on the steps of the Capitol, but it is the clearer of the cases as it's emerging.

WILLIAMS: He's got First Amendment. He can say that I was a -- you know, I was a candidate, I was running, this was free, protected speech. There are far more legal avenues he has.

CAMEROTA: For the January 6 case.

WILLIAMS: For the January 6.


WILLIAMS: With the documents, did you possess it and know you had it or not? Did you obstruct justice or not? Did you know there was investigation? If you get it to trial, it's going to take a while. Like I said, it's pretty straightforward.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Really appreciate all the help with this.

All right, Republican senators react to the mounting charges against Donald Trump. What they're saying now?





UNKNOWN: Every time he gets indicted, his numbers go up.

UNKNOWN: I actually think that these indictments drive more people to Donald Trump's side than they do the other way around.

SEN. CYNTHIA LUMMIS (R-WY): These strategies to dig back as far as you can and trump up some charges against him is just backfiring.


CAMEROTA: House Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill today arguing that support for Donald Trump only grows with another potential indictment.

Let's discuss with CNN senior political commentator Scott Jennings and CNN political commentator Van Jones. Gentlemen, great to have you here. Van, those senators are not wrong if you look at the polls in terms of Republican support. So, the latest Quinnipiac poll out this week actually -- yeah, out this week -- it shows that in terms of Republican voters, in February, Donald Trump's support was 42%. This month, it's 54%.


CAMEROTA: Your thoughts on that?

JONES: Well, it's tribalism. In other words, I know my guy is wrong, but you're not going to make him right. I'm going to say, I'll be with my guy against your guy regardless. And so that's where we are, and I think that that's going to be true for a while.

And I think that Democrats and progressives, we just have this belief, if more people just knew how bad Donald Trump was, then they'd suddenly start acting differently.

I think people know how bad he is. I think some people actually like how bad he is. Some people like the antihero. They like the rogue. They like the law breaker. They like the rule breaker. That is who he's appealing to. And obviously, that's -- his only strategy is to triple down on it, and that's what you're seeing.

CAMEROTA: Scott, if you were advising any of Donald Trump's competitors, the Republican competitors, would you tell them to lean into this or to avoid it?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I mean, it may not matter what you do. I mean, look at the polling you just cited. Over -- little over half the party wants to do Trump again.

And it wouldn't matter whether any of his competitors said, he's being persecuted or he's an idiot. It wouldn't matter because their views are not going to impact Republican voters. They're just not. I think Republican voters, most of them want them to defend Trump, but how does that help you win a primary? I mean, it really doesn't.

This is not the right question, by the way. Of course, Republicans are rallying around Trump. The correct question is, what do voters who will decide the general election think about it? I think I know what independent voters think about it. I think I know what swing voters and -- I don't know, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin probably think about it. We found out in the last election what they thought about it.

So, that's the right question, and I know why these Republican senators have to say what they have to say, but --

CAMEROTA: Why? They're already elected. Why --

JENNINGS: They got -- they got -- these Republicans with their constituents -- I mean, they're servicing what they think their constituents want to hear. It's just that -- you know, look at the election results from Georgia, where we lost. Look at the election results from Pennsylvania and Arizona, where we lost. This is where the race is going to be decided among non-hardcore Republican voters.

CAMEROTA: Here's the general in terms of a general election matchup. This is another Quinnipiac poll out this week. So, Biden right now has 49% and Trump has 44%. So, to your point, I suppose.

JONES: I think that Donald Trump is making a bet, a triple slump scenario. Three slumps give you Trump. The first slump would be -- because these numbers are -- they are where they are, but they'll be different tomorrow and different next day.

If there's an economic slump next year, that helps Trump. If there's a real serious health or performance slump from Biden that's really undeniable, that helps Trump, and then that could lead to a turnout slump for Democrats.

Democrats are never going to vote for Trump. But they may be so discouraged by a bad economy and a poorly performing president that they don't come out to vote.

So, in a triple slump scenario, then you would wind up with Trump, and then he could say, none of that stuff matters. If it comes down to what some district attorney or some federal prosecutor says about me, well, then maybe I lose. But I think, if you're Donald Trump, he's going to say, I think that's not going to matter as much as the economy and the bad things I can say about and point out about Joe Biden.

JENNINGS: Back to the Republicans for just one moment. The other thing that's going on with them, and I know you're going to say this is crazy, but let me just tell you what the average Republican is looking at this week.


One day, the Department of Justice shows up in a courtroom and tries to give blanket immunity to Hunter Biden, the president's son and the chief rival of Donald Trump for the White House. And the next day, they show up and continue to pile on Donald Trump. I recognize there's no real linkage between these cases --


JENNINGS: -- but in the minds of the average Republican or Trump supporter --


JENNINGS: -- they see DOJ going soft on Biden and hard on Trump, and it enrages them.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. I'm interested in this. I do want to talk about this. I want to hear your thoughts on that, man, in a second, so hold that thought. We'll be right back. We have a lot more to talk about.



CAMEROTA: Okay, I'm back with Scott Jennings and Van Jones. Hunter Biden.


CAMEROTA: So, Scott was just making the point that basically, it's two tiers of justice because Hunter Biden seemed to be getting a sweetheart deal and now Donald Trump is not. Is that how you see it, Van?

JONES: Well, I don't see it that way. But here is what I know. I know that when somebody is on your team and they get in trouble, you may have heard of OJ Simpson.


JONES: Okay. There's this tendency to start rallying around even the most nefarious horrible people.

CAMEROTA: I understand it's tribal.

JONES: Yeah.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But do you think that there was something fishy with the Hunter Biden deal with the DOJ and his defense and he was going to get blanket immunity but Donald Trump is not? Because you know that Republicans feel that way very strongly.

JONES: I'll let the Republicans speak for the Republicans. Here is what I know. If you're a little bit richer and a little bit more famous and maybe a little bit paler, you do get better treatment from prosecutors. That's just the facts. And so, did Hunter Biden get a better deal than the average person going through the federal court system? He did get a better deal.

But did he get a deal that is commensurate with what he did? A gun charge --


JONES: -- that he didn't use, first time offense, you should get diversion for that. That's normal.

CAMEROTA: I think that Scott is saying that he's getting a better deal than Donald Trump.

JENNINGS: Well, I'm not. Look, I think all cases should be judged on their own merits. I don't -- but in this particular case, if you knowingly failed to pay millions of dollars in taxes on income that you derive from peddling your father's name to overseas actors, do you believe you would be sitting here tonight or somewhere else?

JONES: Well --


CAMEROTA: I mean, can't you? Scott, I understand, but can you say that if you had hundreds of top-secret classified documents at your house that you refuse to give back, you'd be sitting here tonight or somewhere else? I mean, can't we use that same setup for Donald Trump?


JONES: And that's the problem that we have, is that I think there are Republicans who legitimately will say there's a two-tier system of justice. There is. And Donald Trump is the beneficiary of that because if Ilhan Omar had sick 10,000 Muslims on a joint session of Congress, she'd be under Guantanamo right now.

So, the fact that Donald Trump is wandering around this earth having done what he has done is proof, yes, there's two tiers. But he's benefiting from it. He's not being persecuted by it. He's benefiting from it.

JENNINGS: I'll answer your question.

CAMEROTA: Quickly.

JENNINGS: If my last name were Biden, yeah, I guess I would be sitting here, because they did -- I'm just -- I'm getting you a window into how the average Republican --

CAMEROTA: I know you are.

JENNINGS: -- is reading this news --

CAMEROTA: I get it.

JENNINGS: -- and saying, wait a minute, the DOJ doesn't appear to care about Joe Biden's documents. They appear to think it's okay for --

CAMEROTA: He gave them back.

JONES: He gave them back.

JENNINGS: I mean --

JONES: What was asked.

CAMEROTA: But I don't want to go too far down (INAUDIBLE). I just want -- I appreciate you articulating how -- because I've heard so many Republicans say that and drawing that equivalent.

JENNINGS: By the way, none of this makes what Donald Trump is doing okay. This is weapons-grade buffoonery. If you read this indictment, what they're doing, it doesn't make any of it okay, but you can see how a reasonable person might look at the whole thing and go, okay, this seems weird to me.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, gentlemen. Great to see you. All right, meanwhile, LeBron James' son, Bronny, suffered cardiac arrest earlier this week. We have an update on his condition, next.




CAMEROTA: Bronny James was released from the hospital today after suffering cardiac arrest during basketball practice on Monday. In a statement, doctors say -- quote -- "that they are hopeful for his continued progress and are encouraged by his response."

Earlier today, LeBron James tweeted about his son saying, in part, I want to thank the countless people sending my family love and prayers. We feel you, and I'm so grateful. Everyone is doing great.

Let's bring in CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. Dr. Reiner, always great to see you. But it is alarming to hear doctors say that Bronny James had recently, like a couple of months ago, had a cardiac screening and an EKG, and they both came back with normal results. So, why do you think this happened to him?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, it's hard to know. The specific cardiac screening that Bronny James had a few months ago, including echocardiogram, which is really designed to identify the most common cause of cardiac arrest in athletes, which is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle, but that only accounts for 40% of the cardiac arrest in young athletes like Bronny. So, there's still a big basket of potential causes, including primary cardiac arrhythmias, things like long QT syndrome, and much of that still has yet to be teased out.

CAMEROTA: Do you think he'll be able to play basketball?

REINER: You know, it's really hard to know without knowing the specific cause of the event. Most of these etiologies for cardiac arrest in young athletes are lifelong problems.

You know, unlike the event that Damar Hamlin had, which was a one-off traumatic injury to the chest resulting in arrhythmia, these other kinds of abnormalities that causes sudden cardiac arrest are lifelong problems and the risk will continue. So, it's hard to know.

Right now, I think the best news for Bronny James is that he was resuscitated very quickly. He left the hospital in really rocket fast time, three days --


REINER: -- and apparently feeling well. So, he should do well going forward. I place his basketball career in far second place to that. So, I hope he can play, but I'm glad that he's alive.


CAMEROTA: Yeah. How are they going to monitor him now?

REINER: Well, there are various tests that one can do to determine his risk going forward. First of all, there are genetic tests that can be performed. There are implantable heart rhythm monitors that can detect in real time. that can be performed. There are implantable heart rhythm monitors that can detect in real time whether he is having any abnormalities.

Many people like Bronny, who survived an out of hospital cardiac arrest, will have an implantable defibrillator placed. Now, we don't know whether that happened. Leaving the hospital in three days, I doubt he was fitted with one of those, and it would be super hard to play in the NBA with an implanted defibrillator. But the details will be sorted out in the coming weeks about what happened to him and then what to do going forward.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thanks so much for being with us tonight.

REINER: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: And thanks to all of you for watching CNN TONIGHT. Our coverage continues now.