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Erin Burnett Outfront
. Trump Attorney Likens Classified Documents Case To An Overdue Library Book; January 6 Panel Seeks Cooperation From Newt Gingrich; Trump Attorney Admits Trump Frequently Has Guests At Mar-a-Lago Office; Moments Away: Biden Delivers Rare Prime-Time Address To The Nation; Trump Says He's Financially Supporting Some Jan 6 Defendants; A Dominion Voting Machine Ended Up On Ebay, Sold for $1,200. Aired 7- 7:50p ET
Aired September 01, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, once the ongoing state investigation has finished, they will be turned over to the county prosecutor for a decision on any potential charges -- Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: CNN's Omar Jimenez, thank you.
And thank you very much for watching. I'm Pamela Brown in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
Erin Burnett, OUTFRONT starts now.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, former President Trump's defense team now comparing classified material kept at Mar-a-Lago to overdue library books -- that was their term -- as Trump and the Justice Department square off over Trump's request for that Special Master.
Plus, live pictures tonight from Philadelphia where President Biden is about to deliver a rare primetime address about the attack on democracy. This, as we learn Trump is considering full pardons for the January 6th insurrectionists, if he runs and wins the presidency in 2024.
And a troubling find, a Dominion voting machine for sale on eBay. The price tag $1,200.00 How did it get there? Who bought it? Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow, in for Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, an overdue library book. That is the Trump team's new defense. Tonight, the former President's attorneys downplaying the classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago, that comparison to an overdue library book made by Trump's new lawyer that is Florida's former Solicitor General, Chris Kise.
To be clear here, during the search of Trump's home last month, the FBI seized 33 boxes which included more than 100 classified documents, which were marked confidential, secret, and also top-secret. That is on top of 15 boxes that Trump's team turned over in January where there were 184 classified documents.
Kise also reiterating Trump's request for a Special Master to examine the documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago home. The Judge in all this, Aileen Cannon did today stop short of making a final decision at the hearing. We could get her ruling, though on that any minute. We could also soon learn more about what the FBI took exactly in those boxes from Trump's home last month.
Judge Cannon said she is thinking about publicly releasing a more detailed list of what was taken from Mar-a-Lago. So, this all comes as there is news on another Justice Department investigation involving Trump, the DOJ's probe into January 6th.
We are now learning that Trump's White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and his former deputy Patrick Philbin are expected to appear before a grand jury investigating the riot tomorrow.
Cipollone and Philbin have already been interviewed by the FBI about the sensitive documents stored at Mar-a-Lago. They have also testified behind closed doors before with the January 6th Committee.
So, let's begin there. Evan Perez is OUTFRONT tonight in Washington.
Evan, what more can you tell us about what happened today in that hearing in Florida?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, it was about a two-hour hearing and Judge Aileen Cannon made clear that she is still thinking about appointing the Special Master. The Justice Department obviously disagrees with that. They say that there is no need for appointing a Special Master.
They pointed out that this separate team of lawyers that is not connected to the investigation has already gone through these documents, has separated about more than 500 pages of documents that could have some kind of attorney-client privilege material, and they've already removed that and they have a whole procedure set up to review that information.
She, however, seems to think and she said in Court, what would be the harm to have a third party come and look at these documents not only for attorney-client privilege, but she also said that she also -- this issue of executive privilege, which the former President says he still has, even though he is not President, something the Justice Department, by the way disagrees with.
She says that that is something that is not settled law, and it is something that she is obviously still considering. As you pointed out, she said that she is going to, if she appoints a Special Master, she is going to make sure that the Justice Department, the FBI don't have access to those documents during the time that that is being reviewed.
But she said that potentially the Intelligence Community would still be able to do their damage assessment, their review of those documents, which is something that obviously is very, very important from a national security perspective -- Poppy. HARLOW: No question about it. Again, her ruling in all of this could
come in a little bit.
Evan, thanks very much for the reporting from Washington.
OUTFRONT tonight, Ryan Goodman, former Special Counsel at the Department of Defense, now co-editor-in-chief of the Just Security Legal Blog and a Professor of Law at NYU; also Elie Honig, our senior legal analyst and a former Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Thanks, gentlemen, both.
Ryan, let me just begin where we started this hour and that is the legal argument -- I am not sure it is based on any legal doctrine, but the legal argument the Trump's team made the classified documents are essentially like a "overdue library book."
RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Yes, it was a startling suggestion, and it is very cavalier when we're talking really about the nation's most heavily-guarded secrets, the most highly classified information even higher than top secret, and that they're being placed in an environment that's very insecure, a resort, subject to public coming in and out, where it also means that the Intelligence Community is currently engaged in a damage assessment to see whether or not this implicates the US national security, human sources whose lives might be at danger, surveillance programs that might have to be suspended, because we have to assume that they're compromised.
So, I think it's really an unfortunate statement, to put it mildly, and it is not just you know, receiving a note from your librarian. It's a grand jury subpoena, which they seem to have disobeyed. So, it's something of a much greater magnitude.
HARLOW: It is so interesting that they made that argument, which is not even a legal argument to make and then didn't address one of Trump's key defenses, which is why he declassified all of them. They dint even get into that.
Elie, I mean, one of Trump's lawyers in this argued today in Court that the government is the, "latest boogeyman," that a Special Master would need top security clearance, right? And therefore, it could take a while.
How much, if they get it, if Trump's team gets a Special Master that they want, who by the way, would need very high security clearance? This is what they're asking for. How much would that slow down the DOJ's case?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Poppy, that's DOJ's main argument essentially that to impose a Special Master here will slow us down, will gum up the works. We will have to settle on who is going to be the Special Master, that person will have to be cleared. And then we'll have to actually do the review.
And I do think if the Judge orders a Special Master, I do think she will take specific steps to try to make this as streamlined and narrow as possible.
DOJ even argued in their brief, Judge, if you do order a Special Master, we don't want you to do that, but please order us to get this done within really by the end of September.
I think the counter argument from Trump's people is, it is worth it. It's worth it if there is some more bureaucracy here, there's some delay because we're trying to protect a person's interests and rights here and we want the American public to be assured that his rights were fully protected, and that it's not solely in the hands of DOJ. That's sort of the competing arguments that we heard today.
HARLOW: The Judge is going to let either way the Intelligence Community, to Ryan keep going through these materials. However, she did indicate that she may temporarily block the Justice Department from accessing those materials in its criminal probe, while the Special Master, if they get one, does their job. What do you make of that?
GOODMAN: It's really perplexing, because it's so hard to even see how this could be wrapped up in executive privilege, which she suggested that that would be the scope of the review, and therefore deny executive materials to the executive branch. That's just not how executive privilege works.
It's really about whether or not certain materials will go to Congress or to Courts or to the public. So, that part is on its own, a nonstarter in certain sense in terms of how the legal theory works. And then the second part is, what does it even mean? How is it workable that you'd share with one part of the executive branch, the Office of Director of National Intelligence to conduct an Intelligence Review --
HARLOW: And not the other.
GOODMAN: And not the other, the FBI, which is also a part of the Intelligence Community that needs to do the damage assessment. I don't think she can actually write it that way. So, when she goes back to her chambers and tries to write the order that way, I hope that something else will prevail and she won't try to go down that path because it doesn't seem workable and it is not what executive privilege is actually about.
HARLOW: And Elie, Trump's lawyer today, in this hearing, also arguing that appointing a Special Master would restore order, increase trust in the investigation, "lower the temperature." And the Judge asked prosecutors, DOJ, what's the harm? Do you think the Trump team is right on that?
HONIG: Well, I think that's their core argument, and I think it does carry some weight to say, look, we understand this may take a bit more time, but exactly, what's the harm? It will be difficult, it will be inconvenient for you, Federal government, DOJ, but that's life. I mean, DOJ gets ordered to do things that are difficult all the time and Trump's argument is we, will have our client's interests fully protected, the public will be reassured.
Now I'm not so sure, given the track record that Donald Trump's legal team will be fully satisfied and not complain about his rights being violated ever again if they get their Special Master, but that is the argument here. It really comes down to one of convenience and workability on one side, versus how far do we go to protect someone's interest, constitutional interest, and privilege interests on the other hand.
HARLOW: All right, Elie, Ryan, stay right there. Don't go anywhere. We do have new news.
Just in, this is the January 6 Committee. The Select Committee now wants to hear from Newt Gingrich.
In a letter to the former Republican House Speaker, the January 6 Committee writes that it wants to discuss his role in pushing bogus claims about the 2020 election being stolen.
Our Whitney Wild is OUTFRONT in Washington.
Whitney, this just crossed and I have to tell you, the letter in this language is stunning.
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: What they're trying to do here, Poppy, is draw this really tight line between efforts by Newt Gingrich to get people angry and to get people to act on that anger. That is the core theme at the center of this letter.
Again, the Committee is accusing Newt Gingrich of trying to push others to pursue and exploit claims of election fraud before, and Poppy even after the riot at the Capitol, the Committee says that it wants to learn more about communications Gingrich had with senior advisers in former President Donald Trump's White House about television ads that perpetuated false claims about the election being stolen.
Here is a quote from that letter. This was from Chairman Bennie Thompson. These advertising efforts were not designed to encourage voting for a particular candidate. But here is the key quote, and you see it on your screen right here, that they're really trying to build this letter on and it is this, this is a letter that Newt Gingrich sent, again, trying to really offer guidance on these television ads:
"The goal is to arouse the country's anger through new verifiable information that the American people have never seen before. If we inform the American people, in a way they find convincing, and it arouses their anger, they will then bring pressure on legislators and governors."
And again, this is really at the core of this, Poppy, the Committee continues to push forward this effort that people were exploiting falsehoods that they knew to be false, that they were doing it to get people angry, and that that they meant for that anger to manifest in such a way and we saw it happen at the Capitol, people did act on their anger in a very violent way -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Whitney, thank you very much.
So, let me bring back end, Ryan and Elie.
Ryan, you just heard Whitney read that e-mail that the January 6 Committee says Gingrich sent to Jared Kushner and other Trump advisers talking about the goal here, and by the way, this is after the election, "The goal is to arouse the country's anger," et cetera, et cetera.
What do you make of seeing this?
GOODMAN: I think it's really incredible information, and it suggests that Gingrich is involved in two of the schemes that the Committee has mapped out. One scheme is to pressure State officials, and the other one is to push violence, or at least the anger of the public.
So, it is remarkable to see that's actually his goal. It doesn't say violence, but he does say to push them into anger, to pressure the State officials ahead of December 14th. So, I think that's remarkable. And then --
HARLOW: Arouse their anger, he says.
HARLOW: And pressure public officials.
GOODMAN: Yes, and at the core of it is this false claim about the State Farm Arena and the suitcases, which was completely disproven by the Justice Department.
But it's also interesting, the New York State Court that suspended Giuliani's license, part of it was because of this video that they used and advertised and they said this was clearly false. Nobody could actually see the whole video and then think that there was tampering in the election.
HARLOW: You know, Elie, I would just note the timing of this, right? What Bennie Thompson is pointing out is that what Newt Gingrich sent in this e-mail and his goal was one week after Gabe Sterling, a senior Georgia official, right, warned -- remember that? When he went to the lectern, and he warned people and he really condemned those making these statements that were really egging people on.
I mean, it was one week after that. He says, though, here, Elie, "The goal is to arouse," this as Newt Gingrich "... the country's anger through new verifiable information."
Okay, even though it's known that this was a bunch of bogus, but Elie, illegally would that be a protection against intent?
HONIG: Yes, this is not a crime, Poppy. I mean, you are allowed to try to motivate people politically by arousing their anger. I mean, Joe Biden is about to speak in front of the building where the Constitution was signed, the framers would tell you, it's okay to try to motivate people through anger. You're not allowed to incite people to violence.
HARLOW: That's the question.
HONIG: The way that letter is framed says we want to arouse people, so they will pressure their legislators. You're allowed to do that.
But one thing that does jump out at me about the Newt Gingrich letter is Jared Kushner, the letter says, you coordinate with Jared Kushner to put out false propaganda about election fraud. Jared Kushner has gone out of his way to keep himself distanced, healthfully distance from all of this, and this is really the first indication that I've seen that perhaps if the Committee is correct, that Jared Kushner was involved, at least in the disinformation campaign that preceded the attack on the Capitol.
HARLOW: Elie Honig, Ryan Goodman, thank you on both those fronts.
OUTFRONT, next, Donald Trump's Former Attorney Michael Cohen is here. Does he think Trump's lawyers could be the ones to take the fall for classified documents that remained at Mar-a-Lago?
Plus, live pictures out of Philadelphia tonight where President Biden is about to address the nation. His warning about the threat to American democracy.
And tonight, raising the issue, Trump raising the issue of pardoning -- full pardons for some of the January 6th rioters. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I decide to run and if I win, I will be looking very, very strongly about pardons. Full pardons.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HARLOW: Tonight, one of Donald Trump's current lawyers raising eyebrows by admitting that Mar-a-Lago guests are frequently in the same office that classified documents were found during the FBI's search, saying: "I do have firsthand knowledge. I'm down there frequently." She went on to say, "Anybody that knows President Trump's office, he has guests frequently there." So OUTFRONT now, one of Donald Trump's former attorneys, Michael
Cohen. He received a three-year sentence for making hush money payments during the 2016 election to women who had claimed they had affairs with Donald Trump, something Trump denies.
Cohen is also the host of the "Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen" Podcast and the author of a new book that comes out pretty soon, "Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the US Justice Department against His Critics." That will be released October 11.
And Michael, thank you for the time tonight.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: Good to see you, Poppy.
HARLOW: It's been a few years.
COHEN: Yes, it has been a while.
HARLOW: Thank you for being here. What do you think? I mean, you were one of Trump's lawyers. Are you surprised to hear things like I just read at a moment like this from one have his attorneys?
COHEN: Absolutely not. It is something I've been saying for a long time now.
That place is completely open. It is directly above the catering hall, so it's not just guests. It's not just members. It's anybody that's there, hypothetically for a wedding or a christening, a bar mitzvah -- any event that they have and all that separated these individuals from top-secret classified documents, 10 stairs and one little Master Lock key.
HARLOW: So one of Trump's attorneys, I just read one of her quotes there, Alina Habba raised eyebrows for multiple comments, right, talking about being at Mar-a-Lago, talking about what charges Donald Trump could face.
Let me just play some of this sound and get your thoughts on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALINA HABBA, ATTORNEY: They found these three mundane statutes, espionage, and the two others, obstruction.
I do have firsthand knowledge, as you know, I have been down there, I'm down there frequently. So anybody that knows, President Trump's office, he has guests frequently there.
I think that they wanted to show that there were things with top- secret markings for the public to justify the raid. What that doesn't tell you is that things are declassified that are marked classified, they don't change the marking when they do that. (END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: So, I mean, not just that, but between that and the other attorneys. I've heard many different defenses here. What's interesting is his legal team didn't actually address some of the core defenses.
Trump himself has made, he declassified all of that et cetera. The lawyers didn't even go there in their filing. Who do you think these defenses are coming from? Trump? Or the legal team? Or what do you make of them?
COHEN: It is originally coming from Trump and then he directs them through a document, I'm sure. "This is what I want you to say, if and when you're asked."
I mean, Alina Habba is possibly the last lawyer on the planet that should be out there right now defending this grotesque possession of national security secrets at Mar-a-Lago.
HARLOW: Are you saying that's what he did to you?
COHEN: Yes, it's what he did to everyone. That's even during the campaign, you would get a sheet that would say, these are your talking points. It's the same thing he did with the GOP members when I was testifying before the House Oversight Committee, "Use the following words" or "These are the things, the talking points I want you to use."
But Alina Habba goes on and she does the same thing that Donald is doing, and that's spreading misinformation, disinformation, malinformation. She has no clue what she is talking about.
How does she know how declassified documents look? Yes, maybe she knows the inside of Trump's office, but she has no clue when it comes to the DOJ. She's working in parking lots, not in the Justice Department.
And then she makes all other sorts of allegations that he declassified them. Really? Show me. Show me how you declassified them, because everybody else that was around him at the time states said he did not.
HARLOW: Actually, 18 Trump administration officials, including two former Trump Chiefs of Staff said that it's essentially ludicrous to say that he -- make an assertion that he would sort of blanket declassify --
COHEN: And I am shocked that her next statement is probably talking about executive privilege.
HARLOW: Let's not surmise what might come. Let's talk about the facts we know because there's a lot of facts to go through.
Christina Bobb, another attorney, representing the former President. She is the one who critically signed that June 3rd letter saying, all right, you know, DOJ, you've got all the classified stuff. That appears to be false. There is a question the DOJ did lay out in their filing as to whether
or not some classified documents were moved out of the storage room at Mar-a-Lago before she and the attorneys surveyed it. So, that's a question. Did she know what she signed was false? But does she need her own lawyer?
COHEN: Yes, hundred percent she needs to lawyer up.
Here is the thing about Donald, what he did with her, and I'm sure because I've seen him do it a hundred times, he tells you, "There's nothing there. I already sent everything back. I just need a lawyer to sign this." And she doesn't want to argue with the guy. She is his client. It's Donald Trump, now former President. So, what did she do? She foolishly signed the document.
Now, she is going to have to testify and explain exactly what she did in order to verify that these documents were no longer on the premises. She's going to have to turn around and say, "I didn't because Donald just told me." She has a right to rely upon her client's statement, but not when it's Donald Trump. The guy lies with impunity.
I mean, he lies the way people breathe, and she should have known that. She should have seen, not just -- it's not just Bobb, it's -- take a look at Eastman, now you have Corcoran, you have Rudy, you have myself. You have Sidney Powell, you have Lin.
I mean, there's a plethora of lawyers that have all gone down or are going down or need to lawyer up simply because they did Donald Trump's bidding.
HARLOW: Look, you've said, "I felt it was my duty to cover up his deeds rather than listen to my own inner voice."
Look, we appreciate you being here, Michael.
COHEN: Good to see you.
HARLOW: Thank you very much. Look forward to seeing the book.
HARLOW: In about a month.
All right, OUTFRONT, next, live pictures from Philadelphia tonight. In just about 40 minutes, President Biden will address the nation. And now we're learning just how forcefully he will take on what he calls the MAGA forces.
Plus, it is a story you'll see first right here on OUTFRONT, how does a Dominion voting machine end up on eBay, sold for $1,200.00 and who bought it? That's ahead.
[19:29:23] HARLOW: You're looking at live pictures of Independence Park in
Philadelphia where moments from now, President Biden will give what the White House calls a "Battle for the Soul of the Nation" speech about the anti-democratic forces he sees growing across America.
And according to newly released excerpts, Biden will say: "MAGA forces are determined to take this country backward, backward to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love."
It comes as Biden is increasingly concerned about former President Trump's influence on this growing movement.
OUTFRONT tonight, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Karine, thank you for being here on a big night like this.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thank you, Poppy.
HARLOW: What will we hear -- what more other than what I just read -- what more will we hear from the President tonight?
PIERRE: So Poppy, tonight you're going to hear from the President on some core themes that we've heard from him for the past three years, the need to protect our democracy, the need to protect our freedom, the need to protect our rights, you've been showing photos of where he's at, he's going to make that speech in less than 40 minutes, which is Independence Hall where a lot of those rights were debated. And they were drafted. And we talk about the core rights that we have those freedoms. And so, it's such an important place he believes to have that conversation.
Look, the President is also going to talk about how the for the past two centuries, America has been the beacon for the world. And he's going to lay out what we have seen most recently, what you have seen for the past several years about how all of those rights that I just laid out, are under attack, they're under assault. And he's going to call on where it's coming from, he's going to lay out how those will assault are have been and what they are.
And here's the last part, I'll say, Poppy, is that the President is an optimist. He believes in this country. He believes in the American people, he believes have -- on our foundation, foundational rights, on our freedoms, and he's going to do everything that he can to fight for those rights, to fight for those (INAUDIBLE), to fight for equality.
HARLOW: So from our reporting, the President's been working on this for months, it comes from a deeply personal place. I'm interested in what specifically he is seeing on those fronts that he is even more concerned about now than ever before, why he's giving the speech in this moment.
PIERRE: Yes, Poppy, to your point, as you just said, this is a speech that he's been thinking about for some time, and has been wanting to really speak to the American people, which is why he we chose to do it tonight during prime time. So we can make sure that majority of Americans who by the way, stand with us on a lot of this -- on a lot of the issues that are important to them. These are the things that the President is going to speak about.
Look, we've -- you've talked about this from the top, we've seen the extremism from the Republican Party that MAGA Republicans in Congress, those office holders who have talked about just blatantly, just clearly about how they want to take away our rights, who have talked about when you think about jobs, and you think about the decision that SCOTUS made on June 24th. They have said they've been out there and said they want to put a national ban. They want to take away the freedoms --
HARLOW: So Karine --
PIERRE: -- that women have to make their own decision on their health care. That's one part of it. But there's also the also what we've seen January 6, not standing up for free and fair elections, not standing up for a law enforcement officers when we had a mob attacking our democracy, attacking the Capitol, all of these things matters. And all of these things have been extreme views.
HARLOW: House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, as you know, just spoke a few minutes ago in the President's hometown. No coincidence there, off-screens (ph) of pre-battle, if you will, arguing the President's trying to distract Americans from the problems many folks at home face, kitchen table issues, the economy, education. He also called on the president to apologize tonight for saying as you know, a few days ago that the MAGA movement is quote like, semi-fascism. He said that at that private donor event. Take a listen to what McCarthy's asking for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: When the President speaks tonight, at Independence Hall, the first lines out of his mouth should be to apologize for slandering tens of millions of Americans as fascists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Will the President apologize?
PIERRE: You know, I'll say this, Poppy. I will let the actions of Kevin McCarthy for over the past two years just speak for itself. There was a moment on January 6, or around January 6, where Kevin McCarthy, Martha McCarthy spoke very forcefully about what happened on that day, about what that attack meant for our nation. But you may have missed it if you blinked an eye, because sadly right after that, soon after that he aligned with the most extreme part of his party. And that is a sad thing to say, that is not a great thing to say. That is a sad thing to say as we talk about that mob, that insurrection that I just spoke about that landed on Capitol to attack on democracy, to attack law enforcement officers. Again, he spoke to it and then you blink an eye again, you may have missed that.
HARLOW: So can I -- we -- I understand our viewers I think fully understand the shift that Kevin McCarthy made from what he said then to what he said later on, but I asked you about the President, and what the President will say tonight. So I'm going to take it as a no, the President will not apologize.
But you made a clarification earlier in our conversation, that you guys are talking about MAGA Republican lawmakers, not millions of MAGA voters. Is that a clarification that President will make tonight? Because there are many of those voters out there that feel like he was disparaging them?
PIERRE: We've always said that the first time the --
HARLOW: He didn't say that in these remarks.
PIERRE: Well, I'll say this. Well, we have to hear his remarks. You guys are going to hear from him in just a few moments. You'll hear everything that he has to say to the American people. You'll hear that soon enough. But the first time he ever mentioned MAGA Republicans was when Senator, a senator from -- one of the Republican senators put out a plan that was incredibly extreme and talked about sun setting Medicare and talked about chopping, Social Security. That was the plan that they put forward. And he'd call that extreme. He called out the MAGA Republicans in the Senate for that. And that was also going to cut taxes on middle class. So there has been many times where the President has been very clear about who he is talking about.
Look, when it comes to Republicans they're hiding. They're hiding behind by calling us to divisive or divisive. They're hiding behind that and not taking responsibility for the extreme agenda that they have put forward in their party by these MAGA Republican officeholders.
HARLOW: Karine Jean-Pierre, thank you for your time tonight.
PIERRE: Thanks, Poppy.
HARLOW: We will all be watching in just less than 30 minutes on the President's speech.
PIERRE: Thank you. Bye.
HARLOW: So let me bring in right now CNN political commentators, Van Jones, who has served as a special adviser to President Obama and Jonah Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief of The Dispatch.
It's great to have you both tonight. So Van, let let's just jump off where we just ended with Karine, there's this early excerpt from the President's speech tonight. And in it, he says, we've reassured ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed, but it's not. We have to defend it, protect it, stand up for each and every one of us. The White House is saying this is not about Trump. Do you buy that?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Biden is speaking for tens of millions of Americans that are afraid. It is very scary to see this insurrection being defended by big Republican leaders, by big Republican media officials. It's scary to see voting rights on the chopping block in too many states. And so I think there's an important conversation, and I'm proud that he's helped to lead it. He does have to be careful. If he pays with too broad a brush, it sounds like he's saying anybody who voted for Trump is an enemy of America. He's got to clarify that.
But I think there are Republicans that are concerned that you do have people in their party now who are trafficking in violence, who are trafficking in white nationalism, that has no place in either party. And it's appropriate for the commander-in-chief to stand up and say, those kinds of threats are inappropriate, and I'm glad he's doing that tonight.
HARLOW: We'll see if that clarification comes that you mentioned. And Jonah as the President's getting ready to address the nation on these threats to democracy. In a brand new interview, former President Trump is defending the people charged for the January 6 attack on the Capitol and going even further. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R) FMR PRESIDENT: I met with and I'm financially supporting people that are incredible. And they were my office actually two days ago, it's very much on my mind. It's a disgrace what they've done to them.
If I decide to run and if I win, I will be looking very, very strongly about pardons.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amen.
TRUMP: Full pardons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Our polling clearly shows 55% of Republicans Jonah, think Trump could have done more to stop the insurrection. So is it smart for him to be defending the rioters right now? You know, weeks out from the midterm elections.
JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Trump defends anybody who heaps preys on Donald Trump. And that includes rioters, people who defecate in the halls of Congress, people who question the validity of elections, all of that, that standard Trump procedure, he always does it, he thinks as long as he feeds his base, he's under this delusion that his base is the real majority in this country. And it's all delusional nonsense.
I have to say, though, I also think that this idea that tonight's speech from Joe Biden, at least from the excerpts, at least from the pre-spin that we just heard from the White House, that this is not just simply a political speech that is intended to be ambiguous about whether, you know, it's one of these sort of, you know, in logic, you call it a Motte-and-bailey argument, you take the sweeping position where you try to indict all Republicans, or you trying to indict Republican leadership, Republican policies going back 30 years. And then when you say, how dare you indict all these people? How dare you paint with such a broad brush? You retreat to say, oh, no, no, I'm not just talking to this tiny sliver of extremists these insurrectionists and the rest.
This is the first as far, as I can tell the first official primetime presidential address in like 40 years, the breaks no news, it is just basically attention America --
HARLOW: Well, we don't -- all right --
GOLDBERG: -- the President has an opinion.
HARLOW: -- let's wait.
GOLDBERG: I might agree with his opinion -- OK, but we've heard nothing in the White House all day, nothing in the excerpts hints at all if there's any news to be made here.
HARLOW: All right, let's let the President make the news or not make the news. Van, I do want to ask you, though about significant development just now about Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, and efforts to have her is to help overturn Biden's victory. There are e-mails now that CNN has that show that she reached out to Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin, two days after the election, and called for Biden -- and was called for Biden I should say, and she said, quote, please stand strong in the face of political pressure and media pressure, please reflect on the awesome authority granted to you by our Constitution. And then please take action to ensure that a clean slate of electors is chosen for our state.
And this comes after we previously reported that she had reached out to lawmakers in Arizona doing the same thing. What do you make of that?
JONES: Listen, I think first of all, we have to say she's an American citizen. The First Amendment protects her, she has the right to express herself. I think it is incredibly ill considered for her to do the things that she's doing. Say the things she's saying and conduct herself in the way that she is. Now that she's done as criminal. She has that right. But just because you have the right doesn't make it right. I think she is bringing incredible harm to the reputation of Supreme Court. I think she's doing her husband a disservice and the country a disservice in conducting herself in this way. And I think she owes the country an apology. She should not be doing this kind of thing. But she has a right to do it.
HARLOW: We are up against the clock here, Jonah, you go first next time, OK.
GOLDBERG: I agree with all that by the way.
HARLOW: All right. There you go. Thanks. You got me to the next thing on time. Thank you both very much. Stick with us as we watch the President.
Outfront next, it is a story you'll see first right here how an Uber driver ended up with a Dominion voting machine and was able to sell it on eBay for $1,200. You cannot make this up. Let's see the reporting next.
HARLOW: Tonight we are waiting President Biden's primetime address. This is CNN has learned about a shocking find on eBay, missing Dominion voting machine that can be used to mark ballots sold for $1,200. It is a story you'll see first year on "Outfront."
Our Donie O'Sullivan has more on how it wound up on the internet, who bought it, and the possible threat it could pose.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Harri what's in the box?
HARRI HURSTI, VOTING MACHINE EXPERT: That is a device which can be configured either be a voting machine as a DRE or ballot marking device.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): This box should not be here on Harri Hursti's kitchen table in Connecticut.
HURSTI: Yes, I have been asked not to open it so that it's a part of criminal investigation. It's preserved as evidence.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Hursti is an elections expert. He bought this voting machine for $1,200 on eBay.
EAN HUDSON, EBAY SELLER: As far as I was aware, it was a completely legal sale on my end.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): eBay seller is Ean Hudson, an Uber driver in Ohio.
(on-camera): In your eBay ad your own Dominion image Cast X voting machine from Michigan own a piece of history. This voting machine was one of thousands use in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
(voice-over): But how did an Uber driver in Ohio get his hands on a Michigan voting machine? He bought it from Goodwill online.
HUDSON: I saw a listing for what looked like just an industrial touchscreen computer. And I got to looking through the pictures. And in one of the pictures I saw on the bottom corner of the screen, it said Dominion voting. So, I just on a whim bid on it. And I was the only bidder and I won the auction.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): So how much did you pay for the voting machine?
HUDSON: I paid $7.99.
HURSTI: I'm really surprised about this. I mean $8. He made a good profit.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): It turns out someone dropped the voting machine off at this Goodwill in northern Michigan, who that person is remains a mystery. But the Goodwill put the voting machine for sale up on its website.
HUDSON: I wasn't even aware that they were supposed to be sold, let alone donated to Goodwill.
HURSTI: It is shocking that only when we started asking doesn't belong somewhere. Only after that they realized it has been stolen.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): They being the Michigan Secretary of State's office.
(on-camera): One of Michigan's voting machines showed up on eBay.
JOCELYN BENSON (D-MI) SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes. We immediately referred it to law enforcement.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Clearly it's raised some issues about the chain of custody and how these machines are secured.
BENSON: We basically have 1600 jurisdictions, typically in between elections. Clerks have the responsibility of securing all election equipment and protecting it from attempts -- illegal attempts to access it by unauthorized individuals.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Michigan is one of several swing states where authorities are already investigating unauthorized access to voting systems by people who are trying to prove the false claim the 2020 election was stolen.
BENSON: There is a nationally coordinated effort to try to interfere with our elections that's manifesting itself at the local level in incidents like these in Michigan. What you really have is individuals who don't seem to understand the technicalities of the elections process or election security, trying to gain access to machines to keep the misinformation alive.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): What do you say to the voter who is skeptical, is watching this and saying they lost the voting machine in Michigan?
BENSON: Well, a couple of things. One, Michigan's elections are secure before every election, we test every machine for accuracy. We've never seen even with this unauthorized access to machines, any actual evidence of any challenges or wrongdoing or lack of security in the process.
(END VIDEOTAPE) O'SULLIVAN: Police now trying to figure out how that voting machines ended up here at this Goodwill in Cadillac, Michigan. And look Goodwill telling us they process thousands of items every week here in northern Michigan. And it's not clear that Goodwill even realize that this actually was a voting machine when they posted it on its website, I mean to the untrained eye this kind of just looks like a big computer screen. Of course, lots of security concerns here. But Poppy, you'll never know just what you'll find at a Goodwill or on eBay.
HARLOW: Donie, once again, your reporting has my jaw on the floor. Thank you very much for that.
Thanks, everyone for joining us. President Biden about to speak in 10 minutes live in Philadelphia. "AC360" starts now.