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Trump Calls For Judge Chutkan To Recuse Herself From Federal 2020 Election Subversion Case; Police Has Confirmed Sighting Of Danelo Cavalcante; Is Trump Under The Impression That Attorneys General Are Waiting For Instruction From The President? Ex-Secret Service Agent Breaks Silence On JFK Assassination. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired September 11, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Breaking news tonight, Pennsylvania State Police say they have confirmed now a sighting on this very night of the escaped killer, Danelo Cavalcante. A trooper telling CNN -- quote -- "There has a confirmed sighting tonight and that is still being investigated further." We've got a live report coming up.
Plus, the legal challenge is coming fast and furious tonight as Donald Trump's team is battling the criminal charges against him on multiple fronts. In Washington, he wants the federal judge, one Tanya Chutkan, to recuse herself from the 2020 election subversion case, the one that's brought, of course, by special counsel Jack Smith, and he's arguing the public will not accept the outcome of the case if she doesn't recuse herself. Hmm.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, he's also asking a court to dismiss several criminal charges against him in that election interference case. And let's not forget, tomorrow is the deadline for one Fani Willis to explain how all 19 cases there would possibly or could possibly be tried together. That's "Tomorrow's News Tonight."
Plus, what is the strategy of those 19 defendants behind the scenes in the Georgia RICO case? And are they getting a little bit of a preview of the government's case? I'll tell you all about it. And listen to what Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Anderson Cooper tonight.
We've got much more to come, everyone, on all of that. But I want to begin with all the fast-moving developments tonight in their criminal cases against Donald Trump. Joining me now, former Trump White House lawyer James Shultz and former Georgia prosecutor Chris Timmons. I'm glad to see you both here, gentlemen.
Let me begin with you here, Jim, because Trump's lawyers are honing in on this comment that was made by Judge Chutkan in a case of a rioter from January 6th. Does that argument stand out?
Listen, the filing says this: The people who mobbed that Capitol were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man -- not to the Constitution. It's a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this very day. People who exhorted you and encouraged you and rallied you to go and take an action and to fight have not been charged.
I wonder when you think about that statement there and what she is saying. Are you seeing that as a cause to justify the request from Trump's team to have her recuse herself because, frankly, Jim, a lot of judges on this very docket have had to grapple with and preside over cases involving January 6th defendants. Is it enough to recuse her?
JAMES SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Which this is why it's very difficult to get a judge to, uh, be removed from a case, right? It's going to be largely in her own discretion to make that determination, and I think she -- there is not a chance that she is going to recuse herself from this case.
And I think she's going to -- she has already asked for expedited briefing on this from the -- from Jack Smith's team. And I think they're going put it in context, right? I think they're going put it in context in the way that -- in such a way that these comments were made in response to claims that were made by folks who were being sentenced in those cases. And they deserve the response, and she made an appropriate response.
And I think that's how it's going to be -- that's how it is going to be portrayed by Jack Smith's team on it. I think it will give her that roadmap and context to what she said. And I think, ultimately, she's going be the one hearing the case.
COATES: You know, it's likely, of course, that she's not going recuse herself for that very reason. Again, as I mentioned, there are so many judges in the D.C. federal courts who've had to preside over the many cases already.
But Chris, in another filing, Trump is asking the court to dismiss several of the state charges that he's facing, of course, in the Fulton County case. He's arguing there that the state's case is deficient. He's also saying that he wants maybe to move to federal court. We're going see a lot of these motions first of all. What is the likelihood of success in Georgia? We know that Mark Meadows was already not successful so far. How about Trump?
CHRIS TIMMONS, FORMER GEORGIA PROSECUTOR: Laura, his motion that he filed today is kind of a "me too," tagging on Ray Smith's motion that was filed by Don Samuel, who's a very prominent defense attorney here in Atlanta. And Don's motion basically says that the enterprise in RICO is too broad to really be appropriate here for a RICO charge.
And what he's really trying to do, Laura, is he's trying to gain sympathy for his client, both nationwide and among potential jurors, by alleging that anybody who thought that there was election fraud and did anything about it could potentially be swept up in this RICO conspiracy enterprise.
I don't think it's going to be successful. I think the judge can see through it. I don't think that's a motion that was filed for the court. I think it was filed for the public.
COATES: Oh, kind of the reverse of the audience of one, now the audience of the public on this very notion. Let me simply take one second here because Mark Meadows is asking the 11th Circuit to intervene, to pause the decision that says he can't move to federal court and take it up on appeal on an expedited basis.
Now, I should remind the public, of course, the Supreme Court justice assigned to the 11th Circuit to oversee and decide whether to bring it to the full justice is Clarence Thomas. An interesting, perhaps, turn of events.
But you're a Georgia prosecutor. How long could this process take? And what happen to those who are currently pursuing the state charges? Are they in limbo?
TIMMONS: Well, so, we've got a speedy trial demand pending on two of the defendants. And so, I think no matter what, those two are going to be headed to trial on October 23rd unless either they ask for a continuance or they plead guilty.
The thing that's really up in the air, though, is who's going to be with them, Laura, and a lot of it depends on how quickly the 11th Circuit acts and also how much -- I mean, the further we get toward October 23rd without any sort of ruling from the 11th Circuit, the less likely we are to have anybody but the two going.
But I think if I were the judge in this particular case, knowing that I'm going to have to tie up my courtroom for probably nine months to a year, just trying one trial, looking at that times two, and then thinking about the thousands of other cases that are going to be held up or at least a thousand cases are going to be held up while those cases are pending, that's going to be problematic.
You've got people who are in jail. You've got couples that want to get divorces. None of that can happen while the courtroom is being tied up with these Trump defendants.
COATES: It's a great point, Jim, that obviously, this will take a lot of resources. I mean, 19 defendants. It's not the first time, though, in Georgia this has happened. Right? I mean, you've got other cases that Fani Willis has tried, one involving school officials and administrators, one involving a rapper and those who were alleged to be a part of a criminal enterprise as well.
Not unheard of to have multiple defendants. They might whittle down, obviously, to a smaller number by the time it actually goes to a trial. And right now, as Chris said, it's only two.
But I'm wondering what impact you think the idea of the appellate process will have, because you remember, last week at the hearing, Judge McAfee said, look, are we sort of kicking the can down the road? Are we prolonging the inevitable here? Because people are going to want to appeal. And as one says, let me have my turn, maybe it's theirs next, and we'll wait and see.
SCHULTZ: I've said since day one, as clean as Jack Smith's case is, this case is just messy, right? And it's necessarily messy because it's a RICO case. There's a lot of defendants in the case. There's going to be a ton of motions filed. We're probably two years out from any real trial on this thing, other than the folks who have, you know, availed themselves of the speedy trial provisions. And you're going to see motion practice after motion practice.
As it relates to the Meadows matter, I do think there's a good chance that the circuit court may try to ask for expedited briefing on that because they're going to want to address that issue, take it up, and either overturn it or send it back down so that they can do what they need to do at the state court level.
COATES: But gentlemen, the court was pretty clear in deciding not to have Meadows be able to have his case removed. It was really about Mark Meadows. It didn't sort of become extrapolation for every other case or every other defendant. But you can foresee a time, can we not, when one will say, okay, it's my turn to prolong this, and we know at least one person does not want to go this year.
So, tomorrow, Chris, is going to be very consequential. The briefing will be very important to figure out whether to convince the judges can all be done logistically.
But the real question in Georgia everyone is wondering is, okay, say Fani Willis's team comes back and convinces the judge, look, I've got it all covered, I can logistically do this case of 19 people at once, look at this lovely yearbook photo we have right here of all these different people, assuming they all go forward with trial, if they're able to convince the judge of that, does the fact that two have already asked for their speedy trial and have an October 23rd date, me and the other 17 could actually also have to go on that date?
TIMMONS: And that's what that means, Laura. I mean, the only concern here that's -- oh, I'm sorry. Did you ask me? I apologize --
SCHULTZ: No, no, good.
COATES: Look at this beautiful like chivalry happening right now. It's wonderful to see. I love it. It's like -- my heart is warmed just now. Chris, you can go, and then, Jim, if you want to respond just for the whole notion here.
TIMMONS: Jim, I'm sorry.
COATES: Go ahead, Chris.
TIMMONS: Yeah, Jim, and my apologies. I say so anyhow, Laura. Yeah. I mean, I think it's -- I think if you're the judge, you want it all to go at one time. The big wild card here, though, is the federal removal and potential of double jeopardy. I don't think anybody completely understands when -- well, they know when jeopardy attaches. That's when the jury is sworn in and the first witness is sworn in. But the question is, if jeopardy attaches in the state level and then the case is removed to federal court, do you have double jeopardy at that point? And so, the judge seemed concerned about that at the initial hearing. I think he still has those concerns. And I don't think anybody has completely answered that question yet.
COATES: Jim, really quick.
SCHULTZ: No, and I think it'll be really difficult to try all of these at one time, right? I think the other folks haven't invoked their speeding trial rights. I think they're going to continue to file motions. And I do think that -- you know, I think she's going to have a hard time making the case that all of them should go at one time in that short timeframe that we're looking at.
COATES: Jim Schultz, Chris Timmons, as always, thank you so much. Listen, my next guest argues that the 19 defendants in the Fulton County case actually have a bit of a coordinated strategy behind the scenes.
Nick Akerman is a former assistant special Watergate prosecutor, and he joins me now. I'm glad you're here because there has been a lot --
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Sure.
COATES: -- about RICO, right, which is this criminal enterprise statute.
COATES: But you say that there is not anything like illegal happening behind the scenes. But these 19 co-defendants lawyers, they're not on islands unto themselves, are they?
AKERMAN: Of course not. Of course not. I mean, I've been in multi- defendant cases before, and what you wind up doing in those cases is entering into a joint defense agreement with all the other lawyers to protect the privilege and to also come up with a strategy and a way to go after the government's case to somehow try to muck it up and try to make things difficult for the government.
COATES: When people hear agreement, they think, oh, is it a signed document? Does the judge have to look at this and agree to it? Who has to sign off on this joint defense?
AKERMAN: Well, first of all, it doesn't have to be a signed document. The courts say preferable that it be signed, but it can be oral, that they can agree to do this. It's totally proper. And they come up with a strategy. And it's pretty obvious to me what the strategy is here.
COATES: What is it?
AKERMAN: It is to try and break up this trial any way they can into multiple trials so that they essentially cause the government to be have to try this case more than one time. Right now, it's possible they could be trying it two times because of the two people that have demanded speedy trials.
And I think what they really have to do, the D.A. has got to be very firm that she is prepared to go ahead with all 19 defendants in October, that the two people that have demanded speedy trial are basically doing it on behalf of all the other defendants to try and break up the trial so that the government is put through the burden of having to do this twice, that they get a preview of the case, that they're put in a position where the government sort of has to go under the burden of doing this, and then being in a position where they may have to make better deals with individual defendants. So, what --
COATES: Well, you know, on the point though in terms of thinking about the why, why they'd want to break it up. One, you -- of course, if you want to have a preview of the defense, you want to be able to say, show me what you got.
COATES: There's obviously the more times a case is tried, a prosecutor would like to think they get better and better. But there might be room for error or motions that were successful that went against the government in some way. Maybe there's that Brady exculpatory evidence that might come into play. But -- but, um, if you're talking about having to prove the criminal enterprise, right, if you're Fani Willis's team --
AKERMAN: You have to do it every time.
COATES: They got to do it every single day.
COATES: They got to have everyone. So, what's to stop a jury, for example, from saying, hold on a second, well, where is everyone? Why is everyone not here? And how do you force them if they're not ready to go to trial yet?
AKERMAN: Well, very simple.
COATES: The defense, I mean.
AKERMAN: The force of defense. The judge has to be firm. The judge has to say, look, there are two people that say that they are in a position to go ahead with trial in October.
And use that basically as an admission against all the other defendants. If these two people can do it, the rest of you can do it, and you're all going to be in here on October 23rd. And I guarantee you, if the judge does that, all of a sudden, these two people, Chesebro and Powell, who have asked for speedy trials, are suddenly going to withdraw those two demands.
COATES: You know, it's interesting. We heard a lot about this thing called antagonistic defenses, a short way of saying, you know, we're going to point our fingers at each other in some way and maybe try to confuse a jury for a variety of reasons. Is that part of what this joint defense agreement seems to be?
AKERMAN: No, no.
COATES: What's that about?
AKERMAN: There's not antagonistic defenses here.
COATES: Well, they've said as much last week.
AKERMAN: Well, they may have said that, but there is nothing antagonistic about what they're going do.
AKERMAN: I have been in various multiple defendant trials. I have never been involved in antagonistic defenses between clients in a multi-defendant case. You just don't do that because you're then having people point fingers at each other and it's bad for all the defendants. So, it never happens. There's no such thing as a real antagonistic defense among multiple defendants. That's not going happen here.
COATES: Well, you know, interesting because that is one of the criteria the judge used to determine whether you could actually sever. If you have antagonistic defenses, that sort of finger pointing, confusion among the jury --
COATES: -- and then the idea of the judicial economy and expedience of trial. So, he was pretty honed in on that. He did not think it was a valid argument being made, and the defendants conceded. They didn't have those sorts of defenses. But you can imagine that jurors might be saying to themselves, well, who is more at fault and are they eventually going to point the finger at one another? Because that's kind of what happens when somebody flips.
AKERMAN: Well, that's if they flip. And if they flip, it's a whole different story.
AKERMAN: But there's no reason to think that any of these people right now are going to flip or turn on the others.
And these are all the hardcore MAGA people, the Trump fans, the Trump sycophants. They're all going to stick by him. There's nobody.
COATES: You think so? You really think so? All of them?
AKERMAN: Yeah, I really think so, absolutely.
AKERMAN: I think that they all think that somehow Donald Trump is going to take care of him, that he's going to take care of the legal fees despite what everybody is saying. They're all hanging in there. And they have no other choice at this point because they're all in this together. There are eight different basically schemes among this RICO account.
AKERMAN: And it's very easy to compartmentalize people here. I mean, there's not real finger pointing if you're accused of stealing data in Coffee County, and then you're accused of being part of the fake electors, which has nothing to do with stealing the data in Coffee County. So, there's not a lot of finger pointing to be done here among these defendants. They really are very distinct schemes within the enterprise.
And all of this is considered by the jury against all of the defendants. And there's really no reason not to try them all at the same time, and there's no reason why if two can be prepared to take on all of this evidence at once, why the others can't do it at the same time? And if I were the judge, I would assume that that's just an admission by two of these defendants that they can do it. Why can't everybody else do it?
COATES: Well, you know, I think the judge is quite clear that if -- they can make this convincing argument. But here's where we disagree. And that's -- I just got to tell you, I don't know if I have a $20 bill on me or not to bet you, but I bet there's every reason at some point because Trump is not paying everyone's bills, right? He's not the person who's holding all the purse strings.
I hear you when you say that there is a likelihood that people will stick together, but you and I have seen stranger things and people realize that jail time might be ahead of them. They think things differently sometimes. We got to wait and see.
AKERMAN: Right, but that depends. As you get closer to trial --
AKERMAN: -- and they realize there's a problem, somebody could flip, there will be witnesses, but that is part of the joint defense agreement. Certain things can't be used if a person does that. But the case goes ahead. And the rest of the people will go ahead in front of a jury with no one pointing the finger at anyone.
COATES: Hmm, you don't want to lose $20. You're hedging. I get it right now.
AKERMAN: Oh, I'll bet you $20. I'll bet you $20.
COATES: Nick Akerman, thank you so much. AKERMAN: Thank you.
COATES: Listen, coming up, our breaking news, a confirmed sighting of the escaped inmate, Danelo Cavalcante, tonight in Pennsylvania. The latest tonight.
COATES: Well, there is breaking news tonight, everyone. The Pennsylvania State Police are confirming tonight another sighting of the escaped murderer, Danelo Cavalcante.
Joining me now is CNN's Brian Todd and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, and retired FBI special agent Daniel Brunner. Thank you all for being here. I want to begin now with Brian who's out there. This is another sighting tonight of him? It is in real time? What do you know?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pretty much in real time, Laura. We just got word a short time ago from Pennsylvania State Police Trooper James McKee. He has confirmed there has been another sighting of Danelo Cavalcante tonight.
Trooper McKee was not able to provide more details, but I can tell you that within the last two hours, my team and I saw and moved through some visibly ramped up areas of -- ramped up police presence. That was in the area of East Nantmeal township.
And that was the area where Danelo Cavalcante, according to local residents and police, ditched a van that he had stolen. He ditched that van late Saturday. He had stolen it earlier on Saturday from a dairy farm. That very area where he ditched that van behind a barn is the area that we're talking about, where we saw a ramped-up police presence a short time ago.
We can also tell you that the Pennsylvania State Police just moments ago issued a series of reverse 911 calls to all the residents in that area. I'm going to read you the contents of this reverse 911 call. Stand by here, calling it up.
This is from Pennsylvania State Police that says -- it says the Pennsylvania State Police are receiving reports of escaped convict, Danelo Cavalcante, in the area of Ridge Road, Coventryville Road, and Daisy Point Road in South Coventry Township, possibly armed with a weapon.
Residents in the area are asked to lock all external doors and windows, secure vehicles, and remain indoors. Please review your surveillance cameras and contact police. If you observe anything suspicious, if you see this individual, do not approach him, call 911.
Very significant there, Laura, because they are saying that Danelo Cavalcante possibly has a weapon. Up until this point, the police have not confirmed that he has a weapon. We have asked them repeatedly over the last week, do you have any indication that he has a weapon? They have said, no, we do not have any indication. This is significant. Not only a sighting, but that he possibly has a weapon on him, and it's in the area where he allegedly ditched that van on Saturday night.
This is the second confirmed -- well, basically the third confirmed sighting of him in the last 48 hours. On Saturday night, he was captured on two ring doorbell cameras that are connected to former work associates of his. Police say he went to those residents on Saturday evening seeking help. He did not get it.
He did converse with someone over the ring door, you know, the audio speaker there in Portuguese asking for help. That person was not able to help him and the other person that he tried to get help from was not home. So, three confirmed sightings in the last 48 hours, this one tonight, and now a reverse 911 call to local residents saying that he possibly has a weapon. That's pretty significant, Laura.
COATES: It is. I mean, Andrew, I'm hearing -- this is 12 days now in. His appearance has changed. He's bold enough to go to people's ring to actually communicate, asking for help as well. He now may be possibly armed.
Does this change a lot in terms of the ground operations?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Laura, what I think it does is it indicates a kind of that elevated degree of desperation on the part of Mr. Cavalcante. I mean, he is engaged in a non-stop hunt for resources, right? He cannot stay where he is. He's got to get away. And to do that, he needs transportation, he needs food, he needs shelter and clothing periodically. And so, he is constantly, 24 hours a day, on the hunt for those items.
He improved the situation over the weekend by changing his appearance. He changed his clothes. He acquired some transportation, but seems like he ran out of gas with that van. And now, he has been in the same area for at least 24 hours, which tells us that he has not acquired new transportation.
If he has armed himself with either a gun or a knife or any other sort of weapon, that elevates the concern in law enforcement significantly because his next interaction with a citizen, whose home maybe he approaches in an effort to kind of get those things that he needs, could turn violent.
We know this is a person who has used violence before, he has killed twice before, and he desperately does not want to go back to prison. So, they're looking in the right places, but the desperation is elevated.
COATES: Daniel, I mean, when you've got someone with their back against the wall, as he is, the desperation, the idea that he has been convicted of a horrific homicide in front of two young children, might now be armed, they've been able to triangulate a little bit, it sounds like, by having this reverse 911 call to warn residents about the areas he might be in. What is sticking out to you about this?
DANIEL BRUNNER, RETIRED FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, Laura, what's really sticking out to me is that he's really, as Andrew was saying, he's at this point desperate. He's moving at night and he's getting -- he's getting seen by the community, whether the tip came in from someone looking at their security camera or whether he tripped up and was seen by a law enforcement and they were able to see the firearm.
At this point, he is getting desperate. The fact that law enforcement is pushing into this area with all their assets that are available, you have canine, you have air assets who have infrared moving into the area, pushing in really hard at this point, you're going to get him running backwards on his feet.
And, as Andrew stated, this point can get really dangerous because if he is armed, there is no reason why he won't go all out into a house and create a barricade situation, which then causes a situation where civilians may get caught in a crossfire.
COATES: Now, early on, we heard from law enforcement who talked about wanting to stress him, wanting to essentially encircle him in a way that he felt as though the walls were closing in on him. Of course, then the question becomes, what happens if there cannot be, in his mind, a peaceful surrender? I also wonder if he's watching the news, knowing that his picture is out there. He has changed his appearance. He now knows to become clean-shaven and beyond.
Brian, let me go to you here. I'm wondering about this stolen van that's being mentioned. What do we know about the van? Have you learned anything?
TODD: We have learned some details, Laura. We know that the van was stolen on Saturday from a dairy farm. Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police told us today that the people who owned that van left the keys in it. So, he took advantage of an opportunity there. He stole the van. He had it for several hours before he ditched it. They did say that there were indications that he was running out of gas and that he parked behind a barn.
That's significant because we drove out to that barn. We went live from that barn earlier this evening. It seems like a very random and remote place for him to have driven, especially so far away from the area where he was previously -- where they had a search perimeter previously in the area of Longwood Gardens. That's about roughly 20 miles away from there, also about 20 miles away from the prison itself.
It's a long way to drive. It is a long, again, series of meandering, kind of random country roads out there. The fact that he chose that place to ditch the van, it could have been that he ran out of gas. It also could have been that there was another reason for him to ditch the van there. But if indeed he has been sighted in that area, you know, the suspicions that we had that maybe he got another vehicle, which again they have not said that he has. Maybe that's unfounded, maybe he did go off on foot, and maybe he's still in that area. It's also very, very dark out there. You know, if anyone has seen him as we've been told there's been a confirmed sighting, that's pretty extraordinary. It is pitch black in that area.
COATES: It is. And Daniel, I mean, there's so much. Daniel, Brian, Andrew, thank you so much, all of you. There's so much to still unpack. A lot of maybes, a lot of conversation around the desperation.
At the end of the day, this man is still not been caught. He is supposed to be serving life without parole. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Stay with me.
Former President Trump, everyone, is hitting the campaign trail. He's telling voters to fight like hell or lose the country, and giving a hint as to maybe how he might try to keep the country in his power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But remember, it's a -- it's a Democrat charging his opponent. Nobody has ever seen anything like it. That means that if I win and somebody wants to run against me, I call my attorney general.
I say, listen, indict him. Well, he hasn't done anything wrong. I don't know. Indict him on income tax evasion. You'll figure it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Now, look, I know that Donald Trump was likely being sarcastic there. But you have to wonder if he really is under the impression that attorneys general are waiting for instruction from the president of the United States. They're not. Yes, they are political appointees to serve the pleasure of the President, but it doesn't make them puppets.
But look, sarcastic or not, he is suggesting that President Biden has somehow directed Merrick Garland to pursue indictments against the Republican frontrunner, not because he's guilty of a crime, but to simply hurt his political chances and figure something out.
And don't forget that a president actually cannot and should not put his thumb on the scale. And don't forget that the Department of Justice is actually a lot more than Merrick Garland or Jack Smith. There are more than 115,000 employees across 40 separate components. You got the criminal division, the civil division, the antitrust division, the civil rights division, the national security division, the tax division, the DEA is under the umbrella, the FBI, the ATF, the Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals, even Interpol. And I only scratched the surface just now. So, if you think that the Department of Justice's work comes down to two federal indictments against a former president, you've really got another thing coming. You have to wonder why the person asking to be the head of the executive branch over that whole org chart and asking to be the president again, by the way, doesn't already understand that. But then again, maybe he's just being sarcastic.
We'll talk about all this once again with Andrew McCabe, CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former deputy director of the FBI. Andrew, look, you were a former FBI deputy director. I have to say, how alarmed are you to hear a former president and, by the way, a current GOP frontrunner float the idea of sham prosecutions that are retaliatory and on the campaign trail?
MCCABE: Yeah, boy, where do you start with this one? I mean, maybe we should make a mention of the deep hypocrisy of Donald Trump. So, the person who spent the last several months, year, whatever it has been, decrying the alleged politicization of the Department of Justice and the FBI, is basically telling the American voters that if elected, that's exactly what he'll do.
I mean, we know he has a plan in place already to replace many of those Department of Justice career professional civil servants who you just mentioned in all those different divisions, the different ways they serve around the department, to reclassify their positions so they can be replaced with political appointees.
So, I -- you know, the one thing I disagree with you on, Laura, is I don't think he's being sarcastic at all. I think Donald Trump has always been incredibly artful about hiding his true meaning or giving himself a way out of what he's saying by saying it in a way that he could always later say, oh, well, I was only joking.
I don't think he's kidding at all. I think what he's saying is exactly what he intends to do if he becomes president, and that is to use the department and its resources and its people to seek retribution against those people who he feels have injured him in some way.
So, it's completely un-American and it totally undermines the system of justice and the rule of law that all United States citizens and persons in this country depend upon every day.
COATES: I mean, speaking of that vast depending, dependence that the American people have, every now and then, I get the impression, personally, that people must think that the DOJ is just waiting for instruction to figure out, what are we going do next? We have all this idle time on our hands. What can we possibly be doing today?
I mean, one of the real issues of being a prosecutor, and I've been one, is you are expected to be perfect. You have time to be because the sheer volume of cases that you have is going to be, for many people, exponentially greater than the time that you have to actually prosecute these cases. And you still must do it correctly.
And the DOJ, as you know, is involved in hundreds, if not thousands, of cases every single month. They don't grab any headlines, but certainly matter to people's safety. So, I mean, the idea of a president thinking that the agencies, these different components, are only waiting to talk about political attribution, I mean, human trafficking then would not be focused on, the drug enforcement issues, the ATF and beyond. That's just a little minor part of all that happens across DOJ.
I mean, do people just not understand, do you think, when they're clapping or applauding, that that is a vast department?
MCCABE: I -- you know, I think they don't.
I like to think that people are just kind of getting caught up in the moment and the performative aspect of Trump and everything that he does. But you're absolutely right. The biggest challenge when you work for DOJ or the FBI is resources. There's not enough people and time and money to do the things that you feel compelled that you have to do to protect the American people.
They are buried in cases. And beyond those cases that they're responsible for, there are many, many more threats and problems and strategic issues that need the attention of the good people who work at the Department of Justice.
And to tell American voters that it's all just politics and the president can order them around is just doing a disservice to all those hundreds of thousands of people who do this work every day and keep us safe and try to maintain this country as a place of rule of law where we can all expect to be treated the same under the law.
COATES: So, we had a perfect system, but the idea of reallocating resources for retribution seems entirely counterproductive to the overall mission. Andrew McCabe, thank you so much.
COATES: Look, a former Secret Service agent is speaking out for the first time in 60 years, everyone, telling his version of what happened when JFK was assassinated. Now, someone close to that agent is going to join us next.
COATES: A former Secret Service agent who has kept silent for 60 years is now finally speaking out. In his new book, "The Final Witness," Paul Landis claims that he found a bullet in the backseat of Kennedy's limo. He says that after discovering the bullet, he picked it up, put it in his pocket, and later placed it on the president's stretcher. Now, if that's true, this could upend key facts of the official government investigation of what actually happened on November 22, 1963.
Joining me now is James Robenalt. He's a lawyer, presidential historian, and contributor for "Vanity Fair." Thank you for joining us today. This is a huge and very significant moment. If this is true, I do wonder, though, why wait till now to say anything about this?
JAMES ROBENALT, CONTRIBUTOR, VANITY FAIR: Yeah, well, I wrote an 8,000- word "Vanity Fair" article that kind of explains it in greater detail. But the thumbnail is that after the assassination, Paul Landis, who is the Secret Service agent, spent the week in tremendous turmoil taking care of Jackie Kennedy that entire week. And then after that, he was assigned to take care of her.
Jackie Kennedy could not sit down after the assassination. She was traveling all over the place. Paul was having severe PTSD. He saw the president's head explode. He was looping in his head over and over. He couldn't sleep. And so, he finally left six months later and did not want to look back. And he read nothing about the assassination until 2014. And then, when he read a book, he saw that it had a critical fact wrong. And so, he began his odyssey and his journey to write his book.
COATES: So, no one ever questioned him? He didn't have an official interview of any kind to talk about this -- in light of obviously the significance of him being on the scene. Nobody asked these details before then?
ROBENALT: Yeah, remarkably enough, the Warren Commission did not interview him and the FBI did not interview him. In fact, there were several agents in that follow-up car who were never interviewed even though they were the closest eyewitnesses to what happened. Paul was on the running board on the right side of the follow-up car, which was code named "halfback", and he was a direct witness.
And then, of course, once he gets to Parkland Hospital, he discovers these -- he discovers a bullet and some bullet fragments that are critical to what happened here. And nobody talked to him. Nobody questioned him. By the time he left Jackie Kennedy's service, the Warren Commission wasn't even out yet. Nobody even heard of the single bullet theory. And he just went on his way thinking he had left the bullet with the president and that it was used in the autopsy.
COATES: Now, I've read your piece in Vanity Fair and you clearly believe what he has to say. You think he's credible in what he is describing and what he has relayed as the facts.
I want to take a step back though in the significance of this because there's this magic bullet theory, right, that has been talked about, that this single bullet not only struck the president but also the governor in Texas as well, and this idea that it was able to cause all these injuries in this way, either through ricocheting or otherwise, has really been a head-scratcher for some people who've been following all of this.
What would this story, if true, and you do believe it, what would that mean to that theory? Is it gone?
ROBENALT: Well, Laura, first of all, I'm like you. I started my relationship with Paul in May after his book was done. I had nothing to do with the writing of the book. I have no stake in the book. But I knew he needed help to get ready for the big onslaught that was coming.
I was extremely skeptical. And so, I really think that the major thing here is that if the bullet lodged in Kennedy's back superficially, did not penetrate and did not transit, you know, transit through his neck, then the single bullet theory is dead because it stops there.
Governor Connally gets hit within a second on this Zapruder film of Kennedy putting his arms up when he gets hit. And that's not enough time for Oswald with this bolt action rifle to cock it, reload, aim and fire.
The commission figured it took 2.3 seconds to do that and there's only a second between that. So, it means it's highly likely somebody else was shooting and they kind of got hit by a second bullet, not one fired by Oswald.
COATES: This is unbelievable. Obviously, the stories and the thoughts surrounding this significant day in American history continues to this day to torment us all with the question of what really happened. James Robenalt, thank you so much.
ROBENALT: Thank you.
COATES: We'll be right back.
COATES: Before we leave you this September 11th, we want to share a look at the famous Tribute in Light, twin beams of light that reach up to four miles into the sky south of the 9/11 memorial. It echoes the shape of the Twin Towers, where 22 years ago, 2,753 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, were intentionally crashed into the North and South Towers. A total of 2,977 people were killed in New York City, Washington, D.C., and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on "360" breaking news, new push by the former president to get the judge in his January 6 trial off the case.