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Donald Trump And 18 Other Defendants Indicted In Georgia; Trump and Alleged Co-conspirators Indicted in Georgia Elections Case. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 15, 2023 - 00:00   ET


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Headline grabbing the -- you know, Donald Trump ordering Johnny McEntee to draft a memo of how to overturn the results of the election. I mean, that's remarkable. I don't think we ever heard that one before.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, McEntee not indicted in this.

MCCABE: Yes, notably not indicted. And then others there's just a million phone calls and e-mails.

TAPPER: Last word.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I were -- if I were some of these people who were indicted, I want to find out who was not named, and not indicted and figure out who was talking. And what did -- and what do they have on me? Because she said to people, OK, I have until Friday to come on in and fess up.

Well, I'd want to know, OK, which one of my friends and my colleagues who believed in the fake electors fraudulently were the ones talking to Fani Willis.

TAPPER: So, I want to thank everyone for staying up late. I'm going to leave, so Laura Coates can take my seat. She's going to be anchoring with Kaitlan Collins, so I want to hand it over to her right now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And our special breaking news coverage continues now, the grand jury indictment of Donald Trump and others in Fulton County, Georgia. I'm Kaitlan Collins.

The indictment 98 pages and what it contains is stunning. 45th President of the United States indicted on state charges stemming from his and others efforts to overturn Joe Biden's election win in the state of Georgia.

Prosecutors alleging tonight that Trump and others joined in a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the 2020 election. 18 other defendants are named in this indictment, including Trump Attorney Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, John Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro, Jeffrey Clark, and Jenna Ellis just to name a few. All 19 are facing racketeering charges, and prosecutors allege that they participated in a criminal enterprise with 30 unindicted coconspirators.

Let's begin tonight's coverage with CNN's Paula Reid who is outside the courthouse there in Atlanta. I mean, Paula Reid through these 98 pages, but what's remarkable is that we just heard from the district attorney Fani Willis, and she was saying that she is going to try all of these 19 defendants together, she says.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was really surprising that that is how she would want to proceed on this case, you can do it but as one of our colleagues said earlier, it's sort of like trying an entire football team at one time.

Now, in the immediate future, she has given all of those defendants until next Friday at noon to surrender, and she wouldn't commit to exactly when she wants to bring this case, but did seem to suggest that she would request a date in the next six months.

And Kaitlan, as we know, the calendar is getting quite crowded with all of the possible trials, both criminal and civil that the former president is facing.

Now, looking at this indictment as sort of about 20 pages in, she lays out her theory of the case and highlights the key areas that she then goes into really specific detail on, including the efforts to install fake electors to put forth fake slates of electors to undermine the electoral college process, the harassment of election worker Ruby Freeman, also alleged efforts to solicit the Justice Department.

We know the former president was leaning on his own Justice Department to try to interfere here in Georgia. And she also points to the pressure campaign faced by former Vice President Mike Pence.

She also talks about breaching voting equipment, and then filing false statements. So, at a high level, that's how she lays out her case.

And Kaitlan, one of the things that really struck out to me is she doesn't just include details from Georgia, she also includes details from Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

So, this is a case that, yes, it's being brought in Georgia, but the conspiracy that she is laying out, the story that she is telling stretches across the United States.

COLLINS: Yes. And Paula, another thing, I mean, from that press conference, Sara Murray, our colleague asked her about coordination with Jack Smith, the special counsel here. Any contact between the two of them? I just thought it stood out, she did not say no.

REID: I know it was so weird, because there wouldn't be anything improper, particularly just logistically talking to the Special Counsel. So, it was surprising that she wouldn't answer. Now, perhaps, she's trying not to feed into political attacks from former president and other people as suggesting, right, it's a part of a larger, politically biased conspiracy that could have been her motivation.

But it was surprising that she really dodged on that, in addition to the bigger question that she will likely as some point have to talk to special counsel about, which is the timing for this trial, she has punted on that. And then kind of said as an aside, there'll be requesting something in the next six months.

It was surprising since she had this press conference, that she didn't give more specificity on some of these key questions.


COLLINS: Yes, we'll see what else she has to say about this and of course, a response from the former president and these others that have been indicted here.

Paula Reid outside the court house in Atlanta, thank you.

Joining me here tonight at the table CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers, our Senior Political commentator Scott Jennings, legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor and Temidayo Aganga-Williams, a former senior investigative counsel for the January 6 committee.

And let me start with you Temidayo. I mean, just reading through this indictment, but also seeing what the district attorney had to say there. Does it surprise you that she said, we chose to trial all 19 of these codefendants together?

TEMIDAYO AGANGA-WILLIAMS, FORMER SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL, JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE: I think it's quite surprising. I mean, prior to committee, I was a federal prosecutor. And I think the logistics of that trial would be daunting.

So, I do think she may want to do that. But I think practically there may be some issues with that going forward.

COLLINS: And Jennifer Rodgers, what do you make of not just that, but also she's saying they have until August 25th at noon to come and surrender themselves? That's also two days after the first Republican primary debate.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, these are not career criminals. These are not folks that you think are going to flee the country. So, there's really not much concerned about letting them come in on their own. I mean, that's why they were indicted now publicly, and not just arrested through an arrest warrant. So, that's not that surprising to me.

COLLINS: What were your first thoughts reading through this 97 page indictment?

RODGERS: Yes, just the scope of it. I mean, we had heard it was going to be of sweeping scope. But no, the notion of all of these people, including new people, we really hadn't been hearing about, like Jenna Ellis, for example, Mark Meadows, who has been MIA for so long in all of these cases, and everyone's been wondering if he's cooperating.

Apparently, he's not cooperating, at least not with Fani Willis because he's been indicted. So, those were some of the surprises for me.

COLLINS: What about you?

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: I think I'm not quite as surprised. I mean, I think from the perspective of the committee, Jenna Ellis was one character that we had been well aware of that she was really in the belly of the beast of this conspiracy.

I think I'm surprised that Fani has chosen to charge people at the same time, I think comparing that to what Jack Smith did, where you could have a focus on just the president. When you have more defendants, you're going to have a diffuse focus, more motions, going to be a little bit more of a beast, I think to handle.

RODGERS: Well, she went the other way, right? Jack Smith clearly went with just to Trump, try to get it done as soon as possible. She clearly at some point along the way decided, I'm not going to really worry about the timing. I'm just going to put everything in and everybody in and let the rest of it shake out.

COLLINS: What's the calculation in a decision like that? Because it's not just Trump and the 18 other codefendants here, there's 30 unindicted coconspirators that are listed in this indictment as well.

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: I think what she's doing here is really telling the story. I think Jack Smith's story is about what if President Trump do -- former President Trump by himself, he's sitting there on a pedestal by himself.

And I think here, we're talking about a massive conspiracy, a group of individuals coming together, I think her RICO charges support that narrative.

So, what she wants us to take from this indictment is that all these people coordinated, conspired, work together to try to overturn this election.

COLLINS: Yes. And Scott Jennings, I mean, one of the things that we heard from Trump even before it was confirmed that he was indeed indicted, which we expected was saying this is political interference in the election and whatnot. I mean, she was just asked about that. And she said she -- this is completely nonpartisan when it comes to the law.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's not how Trump and his supporters are going to portray her. They're going to portray her as a partisan Democrat who's doing this for political reasons in a county that overwhelmingly voted for Joe Biden, and in a county where she's elected by those people.

You know, all the indictment, I have to say, whether you're pro-Trump or anti-Trump on this, it is a startling thing to read that the President of the United States was the head of a, "criminal organization", when you see that on a printed paper. It's pretty startling. And when you think about Georgia, for Trump, all the -- I mean, this

is -- this is a waterloo place for him. You know, he lost in 2020, failed to house Brian Kemp the governor, his handpicked candidate for the Senate lost. And now he's indicted in this sprawling indictment.

And so, you think about the role that the state of Georgia may play in his, you know, ultimate downfall or resurgence if he somehow beats all this.

And I'll just say one final issue. This case, the January 6 case, the documents case, I don't see how the American people cannot know the outcomes of these things before they vote.

I recognize you can't get all these things before the primary. But if he's the nominee of the Republican Party, how can the American people not see the results of this before they were to cast votes next November when you consider everything that's been alleged here?

COLLINS: Well, I mean, she wants them to know, she wants this trial. She said she's in a requested date, Bakari, within six months.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. But I want to push back a little bit on the narrative about the number of defendants that she actually indicted in the biting off this big apple. When you look at what Fani has done over her tenure there, whether or not it's YFN, whether or not as YSL, two very large, well-known rap groups in Atlanta, Georgia, she's actually indicted Young Thug right now. And our viewers are like Googling, like crazy, who was Young Thug, all of them at one time. It's like the longest jury selection process going on right now in a RICO conspiracy case.


And yes, it's taking more time than six months. And so, I do think that she can handle this, I do think that she can indict all of these individuals at one time.

I think that Fani's issue is going to be when you try to get this done in six months to Scott's point. But this was also a very thorough process. Many times when you see a civil rights case, or when you see something happen, let's not forget that I believe this incident occurred or this incident conspiracy began one day after she was elected.

We want people to rush the judgment, she actually had a grand jury that was in place for months, although the grand jury could not have the -- did not have the power to indict. The grand jury was in place for months with the power to subpoena, the power to investigate. This is a very thorough investigation.

That's why when you look through this and you read it, I'm like, it gets juicy around at 30, 31. I mean, you can pick out which one of these is your favorite character.

And I also think that there's going to be a sympathetic figure throughout all of this, people are going to start to look. I mean, we hear Donald Trump's name, we hear Fani Willis's name, she's a bad bad woman, I love her and want to protect her.

But Ruby Freeman, for example, these individuals are going to come to play, the victims of this are not just the voters of Georgia, but they're real people. When you start to look at it, it's not some abstract voter this vote or that, but the persecution that Ruby Freeman had to go through is a torture. The torment that she had to go through, I think that is going to do very well in front of a jury regardless of whether or not they're Democrats or Republicans.

COLLINS: And one of the people who is indicted here as someone who tried to intimidate Ruby Freeman personally, and tried to kind of coerce her into making false statements, which is bizarre aspect of this, but also a really concerning part.

I mean, you're laughing and people at home are like, what? It's Kanye West, his former publicist I believe is one of the 19 that was indicted here.

SELLERS: I mean, you got to dig a little bit. I mean, you not only have that, but you have one of the coordinators for black voices for Trump. I mean, this entire conspiracy, just it's -- and I don't -- I mean, let's back up a minute. I mean, this is going to be one of the few trials in everything you're going to be able to see live on T.V.

The judge has already said that cameras are going to be there, there are going to be mug shots, there are going to be fingerprints, every hearing, every motion is going to be live on T.V. This is going to be a very different setting for Donald Trump.

COLLINS: I think one thing that also stands out to me as we look at all the tentacles that this has, I mean, Rudy Giuliani is the second name on this list of the co-defendants here who has been indicted.

The fact that he has been indicted on racketeering charges, what is now going to be known to everyone as these RICO charges. That is what he used to bring down members of organized crime, mafia members. That's how he made his name as a prosecutor here in New York, he was using these exact same laws that are now being used against him.

RODGERS: Yes, as the head of the office that I used to work for when I was at DOJ. I mean, it's a -- it's a sad thing to see what Rudy has fallen to, from, you know, the crime buster, the mafia buster that he used to be but, you know, I got to -- Bakari, I mean, you read through all of the allegations here, and we saw a lot of this evidence before it came out in the public eye in the January 6 committee hearings and elsewhere, and it is a compelling story of Rudy Giuliani, knowingly blatantly lying, knowingly blatantly defrauding the state legislature in Georgia.

I mean, you know, this is backed up by stuff. It's sad to see him fall this far. But he's done it to himself.

SELLERS: And I just wanted to comment really quickly in Scott, please like, chime in, because you know, there's better than I.

But even in Georgia, he doesn't have any Republicans rushing to his rescue. I mean, you have the legal -- you have the legal downfalls and pitfalls. But you also have the political -- I mean, the governor of Georgia is not going to come out with a statement and say, oh, my God, this is an abuse of justice, the Lieutenant Governor is a star witness. I mean, --

COLLINS: He testified today.

SELLERS: He testified today.

JENNINGS: And on top of that, the governor of Georgia, I guess, can't pardon. The way -- the way it works in other states, or the way it works for the president.

COLLINS: I actually asked this question today to Brian Kemp's team, is it up to him? And they said, you know, no.

JENNINGS: And so, it does raise a lot of issues. I mean, you know, part of his campaign on this federal charges he's facing and these other cases, you know, if this is going on, or he gets convicted, but he wins, I guess he can get himself out of that.

I don't know how you get out of this. You know, how do you get yourself out of this? I mean, it's obviously a, you know, a crazy scenario to think about but one that's, you know, nonzero at this point.

COLLINS: But that's why it's so striking because it is the one where he doesn't have that insulation from being reelected.

I wonder what you think reading through this given the work with the January 6 committee and Bakari said there, you're reading about Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss and their names and how they came and testified. I mean, that was the most gripping testimony of the entire public January 6, you know, congressional hearings, and now to see them cited specifically in here, and the intimidation and coercion that they faced.


AGANGA-WILLIAMS: I think -- I mean, first of all, you're right. That was an incredibly gripping testimony. And I think what it showed was how the former president was willing to use his bully pulpit against individual citizens, people who he knew did nothing wrong, and he attacked them, he sent his dogs on them. And they suffered great harm because of that.

I think that moment in our hearings, really showed the American people the damage that's done on a very individual basis, when the president -- the former president attacks specific people.

And I think to Mayor Giuliani's point as well. He also use a lot of racial language when he talks about these two women suggesting that they were passing drugs between them more or somehow and you know, calling them hustlers.

And I think that part of the tone here when we're talking about Georgia, we're talking about Fulton County, I think it's a critical component as well.

JENNINGS: Can I just say one thing about these ladies, I've worked in elections for over 20 years all over the country. I've known volunteer election workers and just about every jurisdiction all over this country, our elections are diffused for a reason. And they depend on people just like this, and to watch them get dragged, was sickening.

I hope they get justice for what happened to them criminally or civilly or whatever they've got coming. Because what happened to them, we can't have elections if you take private citizens and have famous people dragged them through the mud, we won't have election workers if this was allowed to stand.

So, I thought that was one of the most sickening things that had met with this election. I'm glad to see that maybe something is going to be done about it.

COLLINS: Yes. Laura, of course, looking through this. I mean, just reading the names in here, Mark Meadows, Mike Roman, Harrison Floyd, you know, those are high ranking White House officials to Trump campaign officials that have all now been indicted in these state charges in Georgia.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, look at this yearbook photograph here in this spread, Kaitlan. I mean, think about it. While I look at this, I think to myself, there are some who are very powerful, and maybe have the means, others who are not going to be comparatively speaking and how that might influence the level of cooperation, knowing that there's mandatory minimums if convicted, as well.

Thank you, we'll come right back to you. I want to bring in right now David Schoen, who is the lead counsel for then President Trump in his second impeachment trial.

David, it's good to see you on another, frankly, well, history continues. And it continues to be in the making when it comes to Donald Trump.

By my tabulation, and it's a rough one, it's after midnight, we're talking nearly a hundred different charges in total for this former president. Here alone 13, he's been accused of participating in a multi-state criminal enterprise. This is in addition to the other cases against him, how is he supposed to or is he going to defend himself?

DAVID SCHOEN, LEAD COUNSEL FOR DONALD TRUMP 'S SECOND IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: Well, it certainly has to break down each case, you know, on its own merits.

I have to say, I know that you and Kaitlan are scrupulously fair at all times. So, I was disappointed to not hear any member of the panel talk about the presumption of innocence. We're talking about this indictment as if, you know, everything is a fact in here.

But beyond all that, let me just raise a couple other issues too, for you, if I may. I don't think it's going to be possible to try them all together. Your panel, I think, accurately discussed the logistical problems, the Young Thug case, you know, as months and months of jury selection, we learned a lesson in organized crime cases in New Jersey about the problems with these mass indictments.

But I also think as a practical matter, former President Trump is going to move to remove this case to federal court. This case is much different from the New York case. I think this case clearly fits within the statute 28 USC 1442a, as an act performed under color of office. The Eleventh Circuit construes that pretty broadly, it doesn't require a causal connection. There's a case on it, Caver versus Alabama --

COATES: Let me lean in, I don't want to cut you up. I want to -- I want to just translate for a second for the audience. I don't want to cut you off. But I want to lean into what your point is that you're making. We were talking about this because to remove it to Federal Court essentially means it would no longer be under the purview of Fani Willis as the D.A. from Fulton County, it would no longer be a state issue. It would go to a federal judge instead and you're naming the criteria for how you get there. Why do you think this is right for that consideration?

SCHOEN: First of all, I do think Ms. Willis could carry on with the case, I think that her staff could certainly follow it to federal court and try the case there. That's one.

But I think, look, the statute is pretty clear. It's charges -- officers of the United States can remove a criminal case brought against them in state court, if the case is for or relating to any act performed by or for them under color of their office.

So, the idea here would be he was acting as in his role as president, that's why he had sway with the officials. That's why he took the actions he did, whether it was successful or right or wrong, or otherwise, it was under color of office.


And, as I say, the Eleventh Circuit among other Circuits construes it pretty broadly, Congress amended the act to construe it a bit broadly, more broadly, although some Circuits haven't come along with that.

And so, the idea, you know in the New York case had tried to do it --

COATES: Excuse me, only one person, though, conceivably, there are some elected officials. But one of the main ones here, of course, is Donald Trump, if that was the color of office, there are, you know, more than a dozen people who are listed here who would not be able to rely on that same philosophy of under the, "color of office".

But I do want to focus on the color of television for a second, because unlike some of the other trials that he will be facing, this we've already seen today, we watch it be the actual indictment be walked over to the judge, the clerk then walked it out. We have a lens and a view inside of the courtroom. No more courtroom sketches here. I wonder what you make of that, does Trump benefit from having the

whole world see? Because it occurs to me, this might be a double edged sword.

SCHOEN: I think you're 100 percent right. And back to your first point. You're right, I was really just speaking about President Trump, there may -- on the removal issue. There may be others who tried to come under it, and maybe they were successful.

You're 100 percent right, I was really just referring to him. I think you're also 100 percent right, as usual, that this is a double edged sword. He plays the publicity very well. He's -- you know, he knows how to appeal to certain people.

And I think quite frankly, in Georgia -- in Georgia, you're going to find many people, but to prospective jurors, who find it hard to believe, however detail the charges are, that this effort by former President Trump and others constitutes a criminal enterprise as a matter of common sense. Not just, you know, the legal definition.

So, I think all of those things play into it. But yes, I think the cameras may well be playing to him. If he's actually tried in state court.

COATES: You know, there's the camera. And then there's the audio, right? It's almost that combination. We remember that call. And I need to tell you and remind our audience of that, what 11,780 votes, one more than Biden had.

We heard that tape we heard the former President then President speaking to Brad Raffensperger, for example. You know, all these details quite well, of course, having handled the impeachment trial, it's like an impeachment trial.

But I wonder the fact that that is on tape, the fact that it's there, and we can play it for a second to remind the audience what it sounded like, I want you to listen to it and try to tell me what you do with that as defense counsel, listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.


COATES: Now, of course, as you rightly pointed out, and as Fani Willis pointed out, the presumption of innocence is certainly here. This is an indictment about probable cause.

But prospective jurors have likely heard this as well, you'd be hard pressed to find jurors who are completely ostriches, who've never heard any of this and have had their head in the sand and maybe the Rip Van Winkles of the world. How do you defend against when it's on tape? SCHOEN: It's a great question, tapes are very powerful. I think in this case, though, the clear answer is especially playing to a juror who feels this is piling on or politically motivated, you play the rest of the tape, and the rest of the tape, you know, this is the snippet that's always played.

But the rest of the tape reasonably could be construed by a listener as saying, he President Trump and others on the tape. You know, there were these lawyers on the tape to believe that they were in several kinds of irregularities in the election, that votes were stolen, whatever it is they believed or said on the tape.

And that, therefore, all we need to come up with is the difference of this amount of votes. Even though we on that tape, the folks on the tape, believed that there were many more votes that were stolen or lost or improperly cast, or whatever the theory is.

So, I think you play the rest of the tape and highlight those areas. Also, to put this in that context of your theory of defense.

COATES: You know, I wonder because there's a number of lawyers that are mentioned in this indictment, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, just to name a few. And there has been the perception and there has been sort of the thought that Donald Trump's legal counsel, we've even seen it and if previous case among his counsel, I believe Mr. Lauro talking about the advice of counsel, obviously, an umbrella term to suggest that he was -- listen, just following the advice of counsel here. And that can't be wrong, that can't be all that bad.

Do you have some concerns? Obviously, you've been his counsel and to some degree on this notion, do you have some concerns about what that's like, when you are the defendant, and you are either the counsel, obviously, the attorneys, or you are Donald Trump or anyone else, there is going to be a tension there, because you're going to have to, on the one hand, decide one if the attorney client privilege is going to stand, two, whether or not you're going to jump a ship, so to speak and say, hold on. I didn't tell you that. Or yes, I did and have that be perhaps an escape hatch for your codefendant in these matters?


What do you make of the advice of counsel defense, especially in this case?

SCHOEN: Again, as usual, you're asking the right questions. This case has a couple of twists on advice of counsel.

One, as you pointed out, you see some of the lawyers on whose advice he relied, indicted, coconspirators or co-defendants in the case.

And by the way, and we have to point out very clear in the RICO law, they're going to have to prove more than a conspiracy.

But anyway, so you have them part of the indictment, I think you're going to see people flipping left and right, probably in this case, over to the other side of the case, because they don't want to be defendants in the case if that's possible.

And then therefore, that's the other twist on it. That's going to affect what they say the advice was that they gave.

Remember, he was heavily going to be rely on the fact that several of these lawyers were on the call, people whose advice he got before the call. And during the call were actually on the call, and you can hear them interrupting. You can hear him asking for their advice during the call. You can hear him asking for them as Mitchell (PH) for example, you know, to speak up and say what it is she had told him and so on. It's a fascinating dynamic that really highlights this issue.

COATES: There's a lot of fascination here. And this is certainly not going away perhaps at the speed that Fani Willis thinks that may in a six month trial.

David Schoen, nice speaking to you.

SCHOEN: Thank you very much.

COATES: Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Someone who knows the Trump legal team well, Laura. We have said, you know, 19 people have been indicted in this case, including the ones that you see here, Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, his former chief of staff at the White House, Mark Meadows, John Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro, Jeffrey Clark, Trump campaign attorney, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell.

We have a lot more on the stakes that Donald Trump and those names mentioned there and the others who were indicted tonight in Georgia.

We're joined now by CNN contributor and former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean. I mean, John, just on first thought, looking at this 98 page indictment, what went through your head?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: My first reaction was, she didn't just charge him, she threw the book at him. It's a very, very impressive document. I've only made it through a little bit of it, scanned a lot of it.

And the very problem you're just raising Kaitlan, is the people you named are both federally charged, and they're being charged in Georgia as well. That's the sort of thing during Watergate that was worked out in advance.

So, I think I understand why Fani did not want to address whether she talked to Jack Smith or not. Because I think they're in conversation right now because they are stepping on each other's toes.

COLLINS: And what could that mean for this? I mean, there was a reason Sara Murray asked that question, because it has raised the prospect here of what these two simultaneous cases and trials could look like.

I mean, we've seen how quickly Jack Smith is trying to move. There's a judge there that moves very quickly as well. And you heard the District Attorney in Georgia tonight in Fulton County saying she wants to see a trial date within -- they're going to request for one within six months.

DEAN: Well, what it could mean, for example, is Mark Meadows is not really named as an individual other than his chief of staff position in the federal indictment.

It appears in that indictment, that he's a cooperating witness, that he's going to assist. If he's been charged in Georgia, that might cause some reluctance or certainly taint his testimony as to what he'd be willing to testify to in the federal case. That's the sort of thing I think they have to work out. And I'm surprised it did not get worked out.

COLLINS: You heard David Schoen there. I mean, he's someone who represented Trump at one of his impeachment trials. I mean, he knows the Trump legal world. He said he predicts that some of these 18 others that are listed underneath Donald John Trump are going to flip, is that something that you think the former president should be worried about tonight as well?

DEAN: I think he should be very worried about it and I suspect a Georgia judge will step in quickly and let them know that they're not going to tolerate it.

I'm sure the prosecutor is very aware of Trump's behavior. His effort to intimidate witnesses is well known now.

So, yes, it is very likely some will flip. And they just want to see the indictment. And they've seen it now. And it's not pretty.

COLLINS: You worked -- I mean, you were obviously the White House Counsel in the Nixon administration. The White House Counsel's Office as it stands now is not that far from the Chief of Staff's office.

Mark Meadows, with the exception of the former president is the highest ranking White House official to be charged here listed in this indictment. I think he's like the fifth or sixth person listed.

I mean, what do you make of the fact that a former White House Chief of Staff has been indicted on state charges of racketeering in this, you know, enterprise, Fani Willis says, to overturn the election?


JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, he didn't learn much history, because he's not the first chief of staff to be indicted, obviously. H.R. Haldeman, who is sort of the model, still today, of how a chief of staff can effectively operate.

But Meadows, you know, he was overwhelmed by his -- his boss, the president. And it appears, I think he's cooperating. That's my read. And so I think he'll probably find a solution to get out of the Georgia case, too.

COLLINS: Do you see echoes of Watergate in this? Or is it -- is it bigger than that? How do you see it?

DEAN: It's much bigger than Watergate, Kaitlan. It's of a whole different dimension. It goes to the very foundation of democracy.

Nixon abused some powers. He exceeded his authority when he shouldn't. But he was not taking on the basics of the country. Whereas Trump wanted to stay in office. He wanted to use Georgia and abuse Georgia as part of that plan. And so this is very different and much more serious and much more troubling.

COLLINS: John Dean, thank you for joining us tonight.

DEAN: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And we'll be back with much more of our breaking news, breaking down this 98-page indictment. Former President Donald Trump and 18 others have been indicted on what prosecutors allege was a wide-ranging, multi-state conspiracy. How far did it stretch? That's next.



LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR/CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Our breaking news tonight, the former president of the United States and 18 others facing criminal charges in the Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury's investigation of the Trump 2020 election subversion case.

Here with me now to talk about this display, yearbook photo of sorts, is senior justice correspondent Evan Perez; Washington correspondent for "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," TIA Mitchell; CNN political commentators Jonah Goldberg and Ashley Allison; and CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen.

We've got the perfect panel to talk about all of this, because first of all, I know we make history a lot in terms of these indictments. We're now on No. 4. It was expected to come in. But I don't think people really thought it would be the exponential notion of everything else.

And I want to start with you, Evan, here because this happened in Georgia, of course. But they are very precise that this actually, this enterprise, as they're calling it, happened in more than just Georgia. It happened in places like Arizona and Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and D.C., the enterprise operating in all those places. We have a map, actually, too, which shows people where we're talking about, just to give you the spread of where they allege the enterprise to have operated. What's your takeaway?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think one of the things that -- that stuck out to me in reading the document, was that the scope of -- of the acts that she uses and the prosecutors use to support the racketeering charge, it goes beyond things that happened in Georgia. And I wondered why that was. She addressed it at the press conference. But certainly, you know, if you notice, I think, act seven involves a

call to top officials in Arizona, right, again, trying to address the election results there.

At eight, it has to do with a meeting that happened in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with Pennsylvania -- Pennsylvania legislators.

Act 50 involves a call to Wisconsin's senior officials in Wisconsin state.

And then, of course, act number seven is -- happened here in Washington, where they were pressuring top officials at the Justice Department to say that there was fraud, and then let us take care of it. Right?

And she said that, basically, the reason why she was using all of these -- these acts that did not happen in her jurisdiction was because they were all in the furtherance of trying to overturn the Georgia election results. And so that explains it.

And I think that that's a very -- it's a very interesting and, certainly, expansive way for her to approach this. Because a lot of us, I think, before we saw this document, were anticipating that this is going to be a lot more limited, right? That they were going to, like, just home in and drill down on everything that happened in Georgia, including of course, the fake electors, and the effort to get into those Coffee County election machines.

So the idea that she's gone big and expensive on this is, I think, very interesting.

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. But it's also interesting -- you know, it's been a while since I read the Jack Smith indictments, because that was what, like, weeks ago.

COATES: That was an eternity ago.

GOLDBERG: Yes, I know.

COATES: We're on No. 4 now.

GOLDBERG: So, in dog years, it was a long time ago.

But my recollection of the Smith indictments is that temporally, like in the timeline, they basically begin with January 6. They happen -- you know -- it's -- or they begin with the election, I should say.

And this, act one, is really interesting to me. It's about how on October 31st, Donald Trump discussed a draft speech in which he was going to claim that the election was stolen because of voter fraud, which means there was a plan going into it all along, which was something we've heard other things, like from Steve Bannon --

PEREZ: Right.

GOLDBERG: -- much earlier. He was making those intimations. But this shows that this was not a reaction in real time on election night, but this was a strategy, because they knew, they were going into it from the beginning, likely to lose.

COATES: Important word used, the speech, right? This was not really present in the Jack Smith indictment, the idea of speech and opening himself now to the notion of the First Amendment issues and beyond. That is certainly -- they have tweets in here.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: But she's very careful. To Evan's point, it's a nationwide sweep. It's a nationwide story. But she's very careful to charge the crimes that were in Georgia or that hit Georgia.

So she captures -- it's a very important contribution, I think. And you're, Jonah, right to contrast it with Jack Smith, who started with November 14. He went narrow. You go narrow, you go fast. He wants to get Trump to trial fast and first, I think.


She wants to tell the story, and that is a service to the country, particularly because this is going to be a televised trial, and this indictment is our pardon insurance.

If Trump or another Republican wins, they can pardon their way out of that Jack Smith case, or just order DOJ to drop the case. This is the insurance, so it should be big. I think it's done carefully; it's done well. And I think it's historic.

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think it's interesting. Many people before the election of 2020 were waving the flag that Donald Trump was going to try and undermine this election, and were casted as people who were radical and just didn't want Donald Trump to win. When now we have parts of the indictment citing that that was actually his intention.

The thing that is so interesting is that Mark Meadows is actually named as a coconspirator. And one of the things under the Jacks Smith indictment is everybody wanted to know where is Mark Meadows, because we assume that he's probably working with the special counsel.

People have mentioned the Young Thug case before. One of the things that the D.A. did in that case was that she pleaded out a lot of the coconspirators in that RICO case.

So my question in this is that we have, what, 19 other folks, or 19 other folks listed here. Will they also, now that they've been indicted, turn on Donald Trump?

PEREZ: The lesser known names, I mean, the pressure begins now.


PEREZ: Right? The pressure begins immediately for people who don't want -- their -- with racketeering, it's at least five years, right?

ALLISON: That's right.

PEREZ: And she addressed this.

COATES: At least five years.

PEREZ: Right. At least five years.

COATES: That's -- that's a huge power dynamic, because you're talking about one of these people has a whole lot of money to actually defend against these cases. And the rest probably don't have much.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION": Right, and I think it's -- I think what's so interesting about the indictment is that she takes a lot of time. Most of the indictment is laying out these RICO charges, this criminal enterprise, and not saying that it was in silos.

She's saying it's all connected. The -- the fake electors, the tampering of the election evidence in Coffee County, the calls to state officials, the misinformation and disinformation that was shared at the legislative hearings, that they're all connected.

And so, you can't sever Donald Trump from, you know, Rudy Giuliani, or -- or anybody else, Eastman and all these others, that they're all -- that they all were working together, and calling each other, and texting each other.

Again, innocent until proven guilty. But I think it's going to be harder to -- to try to sever it. And it's going to be interesting how to do that legally, because they've been working together. But now, they've all got to have to win for themselves.

COATES: I bet, too, on one point, Evan, the idea of the severance. They could likely be tried -- she wants them to be tried together, all 19, but they could individually move to sever, if there are issues of efficiency or judicial fairness. Last word.

PEREZ: Real quick. On reading this document, also, I was looking for hints at what -- what we might see next from Jack Smith. And we know the investigation is continuing there, right?

And the question is, you know, some of these, she's telling us a lot about some of the specific acts that happened in Coffee County, which could be federal crimes, by the way. Some of the things that she is -- is citing here, some of those counts could also be federal crimes.

COATES: You guys, we are talking about a former president, who now has 91 charges against him, cumulatively, across four separate criminal allegations and indictments. Ninety-one.

Everyone, thank you so much. We're going to come back, as well.

And Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis speaking tonight. She has set a deadline for the defendants to surrender, her use of words, and talked about how she sees this trial and the timeline moving forward. We'll bring you all those details next. Back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COATES: Our breaking news tonight, the former president, Donald Trump, indicted in the 2020 election subversion case in Georgia, along, by the way, with 18 other defendants.

He is charged with 13 counts in this indictment, including a racketeering charge for allegedly attempting to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in Georgia back in 2020.

Joining me now, CNN political correspondent Sara Murray, who is at the courthouse for us now. Sara, I mean, we have just heard, I understand from Trump, and his attorneys. How are they responding?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, as you might expect, they're not particularly thrilled by how things have gone down today. We've heard from Drew Findling, one of Trump's attorneys here in Georgia, as well as his associate, saying, "The events that have unfolded today have been shocking and absurd." They go on in this statement to say that it was -- the district attorney "clearly decided to force through and rush this 98-page indictment."

And they say, "This one-sided grand jury presentation relied on witnesses who harbor their own personal and political interests, some of whom ran campaigns touting -- touting their efforts against the accused, and/or profited from book deals and employment opportunities as a result."

Whereas, you know, most grand jury presentations are pretty one-sided. You know, that's why they say you're innocent until proven guilty. This is the indictment stage.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is obviously still going to have a lot of work ahead of her to bring this case to trial and to try to get convictions against these defendants.

COATES: A really important point about the grand jury, Sara. I mean, it's not as if there are other two-sided grand juries. It's really a probable cause finding, as you well know. And so you're not going to have the defendants in the actual grand jury, or even have attorneys present there to answer and respond, let alone a judge.

But, the credibility attacks, as you have said, are already beginning, whether it's book deals or other ways. But you've been covering and did a fine job, by the way, the different Trump investigations and indictments for a while now, Sara.


I wonder what is standing out to you about this latest one? It's the fourth.

MURRAY: It is the fourth. And I think that there was, in a lot of ways, a different kind of pressure on this district attorney, because she is a state-level prosecutor, and because this investigation has been going on for so long. It's been going on for two and a half years.

There were points where we thought that District Attorney Fani Willis was going to be the first person to bring charges against Trump, and now it appears that she's the last.

And I think what we saw in this indictment today is a reflection of how much of their work they wanted to show. They wanted to make it very clear that this was a granular indictment. You see that in all of these different acts they lay out in furtherance of the conspiracy.

And of course, one of the biggest differences here is that you don't see Donald Trump's name listed at the top of the indictment, with no other names listed alongside him. Yes, this indictment includes 30 unindicted coconspirators, but it also includes 18 other named defendants. A number of people around Donald Trump, a number of people who were in his inner circle, who are facing very serious charges, Laura.

COATES: A great point, Sara. And I mean, Kaitlan, the thought that this is all going to be about a so-called rushed proceeding, that we're going to hear a lot about that, given the timeline.

Now of course, rushed, they mean by the fact that it happened over yesterday it was. It didn't start on Monday, did it? This has been years in the making now?

COLLINS: Yes, she started investigating right after he placed that phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. And of course, we have seen where it has come here now. He is accused of illegally soliciting votes from Brad Raffensperger in that call, Laura.

Back here with my panel: Bakari Sellers, Scott Jennings, Jennifer Rodgers, and Temidayo Aganga-Williams.

I mean, Trump is now facing -- you just do some simple math here -- 91 criminal charges in four different cases. He has ten days to surrender himself in this case, along with the other defendants. The first Republican debate is nine days away.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, this kind of stuff wreaks havoc on a presidential campaign scheduling office. You know, when you're constantly turning yourself in.

I don't -- you know, I don't know when he's going to turn himself in. We were joking off-air a moment ago. What if he turns himself in the day of the debate? And just kind of -- kind of take -- I mean, kind of takes over.

I mean, I don't know what he's going to do. But you know, there's clear evidence that every time something happens to him, all of the media's attention goes to him. All the Republican attention goes to him. And it sucks the oxygen out of the room for -- for everyone else.

If I might, Republicans tonight, here's what -- here's what some are thinking. Trying to put a spin on it.

He's innocent until proven guilty. This is only one side of the story, hearing that. Anybody remember the jury foreperson? Who was a little weird. That came out, and it's still on people's minds.

The document that was posted today and then pulled down before the grand jury saw it, that's being chatted about.

Partisan Democrat prosecutor. And why aren't Democrats ever held accountable for claiming elections were stolen and trying to interrupt Electoral College counts when they do it to Republicans?

That's what you're going to hear, I think, over the next, it seems to me, few hours from people who are trying to be defensive of Trump tonight.

COLLINS: Yes. You're going to hear that. I mean, that last part is something that is often trotted out. But I mean, you can read the 98 pages here of why this is different.

JENNINGS: Oh, it doesn't make this good.

COLLINS: This is -- A lot of this is not even inside testimony, or what we hear. I mean, these are public statements from Trump --


COLLINS: -- what we heard with Mark Meadows, what Sidney Powell was saying on TV.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And one of the things, and one of the arguments that falls flat often when you hear Republicans, or Republican legal, quote unquote, "scholars," who may skew further to the right, is they say that it's very difficult to prove intent in these crimes.

And I say, well, that may be one thing. But if you can couple that intent with an overt act, then you have the elements of a criminal enterprise or a criminal activity.

And here she actually laid out I don't know how many acts it is, but she actually laid out act after act after act, these overt, outward things that Donald Trump and the other 18, 19 individuals did.

And so I think what Fani did tonight was really, really comprehensive.

And I just want to take a moment to acknowledge who she is. Because we've seen Donald Trump, whether or not it's April Ryan, or whether or not it's our own Abby Phillip, or Yamiche, I mean, we've seen him snap at black women in journalism. We've seen him be decently antagonistic towards black women in particular.

And here he has Fani Willis, who's -- "Fani" is Swahili. It means prosperous. She's the daughter of a criminal defense attorney who was a Black Panther. Right? And so, they're going to attempt to smear someone who grew up in the

movement, who grew up as part of an activist culture, who went to an HBCU for part of her scholarship, and who is now on the other side of the table.


And what she's shown in this indictment, is not only is she more than adequate to stand up toe-to-toe with any legal scholar, Schoen or whomever else, but she's also put together a thorough indictment, which speaks to those overt acts, coupled with that intent.

COLLINS: Yes. We've seen those attacks almost immediately. I mean, it's not surprising, I don't think. But I mean, they'll raise questions about what she has said publicly about this. Sara Murray was alluding to that before the press conference started. When she was asked about whether or not it's a political prosecution, she went out of her way to say, I mean, it's nonpartisan.

SELLERS: And I think -- I mean, look, it is what it's going to be. I mean, we're in this time period where Twitter, or what's it called? What's it called now? X --


SELLERS: Whatever it is. Where whatever this new website that we spend way too much time on. Or he's on Truth Social, actually. It will be just copied and pasted and reposted.

People are going to say all of these other things. But the fact is, it's going to be 12 jurors in Georgia who are going to be able to decide this. Excuse me. Georgia, the Southern District of New York, Washington, D.C., and Miami, Florida, which determine his fate.

JENNINGS: Before we get there, it's months until we get there, and we are going to fight this out in the court of public opinion. She is a partisan Democrat. And that's what they're going to say.

And so if you're Trump, and you're thinking about how do I keep my people together, how do I keep folks in line, I mean, this is obviously one of the arguments that they're going to make.

Now, the counter-argument to that, if I were in a Republican primary against him, is we have a simple choice to make. Do we want this election to be about Donald Trump's legal proceedings? Or do we want it to be about Joe Biden's job performance? And every time something like this happens, the answer to that question, in my opinion, becomes more and more clear.

COLLINS: Yes, but not to voters, or at least not what we're seeing in the polls. We'll see if this changes this. Thanks, everyone. Stand by.

Our special coverage is going to continue. Breaking down and looking at this 98-page indictment, a new round of charges for the former president but also 18 more new co-defendants.