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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Indicted, to Appear in Court on Tuesday; Russian Commander Accuses Wagner of Torture. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 08, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Trump bracing for an indictment in multiple investigations as we learn new details tonight about the case federal prosecutors are building against the former president. Trump's former attorney telling OUTFRONT an indictment maybe returned or unsealed this week.

Also, a Russian commander accusing the Russian private army, the Wagner group, of torturing him, saying the Wagner chief is stealing military equipment as fighting on the ground is intensifying in Ukraine tonight.

And a Supreme Court surprise. Two conservatives joining the liberal justices and giving Black voters a major victory. A decision that could help them win back the House. It's a significant decision from SCOTUS and the head of the NAACP will be my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening to all of you. I'm Erin Burnett.

And OUTFRONT tonight, Trump is bracing for an indictment in multiple investigations. The former president huddling with aides tonight at his Bedminster, New Jersey, home. One source telling CNN Trump believes an indictment is likely to happen sooner rather than later.

And former Trump White House attorney Ty Cobb, OUTFRONT regular, tells us his sources say an indictment may be returned or unsealed as early as this week. Cobb is also hearing charges Judges will come in Florida, which is ground zero for Trump's fight with federal officials over classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

And we are getting new and exclusive information tonight from a key former White House official who testified in that document's case. The former career official was in charge of advising the Trump administration on the entire declassification process and this person told federal prosecutors that Trump did know the proper process for declassifying documents and that he followed it correctly at times while in office.

We do know that to be a fact. I mean, we have this document, this actually proves it. It shows, and this is a document about declassifying materials related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation of the FBI. It's very specific. Trump's very last full day in office that he knew and used proper declassification procedures to release part, but not all of the classified documents related to the investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia.

Now, that investigation, as I said, was called Crossfire Hurricane, and in Trump's own words in this document makes it very clear he doesn't believe that he himself has the power to just release all of the documents. In fact, if you read through it and it continues to show the process, I requested, Trump states, the document that the declassification review can be performed so I can determine to what extent materials in the binder should be released in unclassified form.

I mean, it's all there and then here on the second page, the signature.

So this is obviously -- this is a process. These are the rules and these are the limitations and it's a far cry for how Trump and his inner circle have tried to portray the declassification process since the documents investigation began.


JOHN SOLOMON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "JUST THE NEWS": He had a standing order, there's the word I was looking for, that documents removed from the oval office were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it.

They become automatically declassified when I took them.


BURNETT: And, of course, this isn't the only potential indictment staring Trump down tonight because we are learning that Trump has privately told people that he believes he will be indicted in addition in the Georgia criminal probe. That is specifically over his efforts to overturn the election in the state of Georgia.

Trump's team is now reaching out to allies on Capitol Hill. They've been handing out talking points, encouraging Trump loyalists to go out in the media, in the former president's defense.

Katelyn Polantz has been following all of this from Miami and breaking so many of these details.

So, Katelyn, according to your sources tonight, what are you learning?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Erin, this is an mature investigation, where prosecutors are piecing together all of the bits that could lead them to charge Donald Trump with knowingly, willfully having classified or national security records outside of the protected hands of the federal government and in his position after he left the White House.

So, Erin, whenever you look back over the course of this investigation, it is quite lengthy, and there have been so many witnesses. I just want to walk through some of that because when you read their names back to back, it is not stacking up the people who fill out the puzzle on the entire arc of the story for Donald Trump, what he did after he left the White House.

Mark Meadows, his White House chief of staff who then was helping him with some of the document issues and had people writing a book that we're speaking with Trump. At a time where Trump was holding up a paper and captured on audio, talking about classified documents from the Pentagon.


There's Evan Corcoran, or his current defense attorney who in this investigation had been forced to talk about what his conversations with what his clients were last year leading up to that search of Mar- a-Lago by the FBI. There are top Trump Organization officials who handled security, Matthew Calamari Sr. and Junior. There's Kash Patel, an aide, Margo Martin, another aide, and then additional Trump attorneys tasked with dealing with the records of Donald Trump, as well as dozens more Mar-a-Lago staffers and political aides that we know have been subpoenaed by grand juries or the grand jury that has been investigating this for the special counsel's office.

We also did have this reporting today at CNN. My colleagues Zach Cohen and Paula Reid broke the story that a former White House official was interviewed by the special counsel's office to talk about Trump knowing and following the declassification process properly when he was in the White House. And so, that is a piece that puts into perspective whether he was able to continue to do that, or realize the declassification had a specific process after he left. And it wasn't a process where he could maybe do it with his mind or hold up a document that was his to keep.

We have to see what the prosecutors do it all of this and put it together. And now, we are just watching them. We are going to watch to see if we see them in Florida tomorrow at this courthouse. We're going to watch to see if we have the grand jury. We have seen them twice this week back to back days -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Katelyn, thank you very much in Florida.

And now with me: Ryan Goodman, Elliot Williams, Sarah Matthews and Scott Jennings.

All right. Thanks so much to all of you for being with me.

So, Ryan, obviously, Trump's team is preparing for indictments. Ty Cobb is saying it could come as early as this week, even if it is not unsealed until next week, that it could come down. Katelyn just mentioned, lead prosecutor in the investigation was seen leaving the federal prosecutors in Miami today.

So, is this imminent?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: It sure seems imminent, and there has been no reporting that there are any witnesses before the grand jury today. So, it's even consistent with the idea that that lead prosecutor might have been presenting to the grand jury the final summation on the precipice of them presenting the grand jury with an indictment for them to agree to or not.

So, I think -- I think we're that close.

BURNETT: And then, Elliot, Florida. You know, a couple weeks ago, there had -- I mean, it just wasn't the center of the conversation. Now it is very much the center of the conversation, that this could happen there.

So, do you think that is better or worse for the prosecution?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's different for the prosecution. Really, it all depends on where different crimes were alleged to have been committed. Retention is different from possession is different from obstruction is different from destroying a document.

Those things might have happen in different jurisdictions. Some might happen in Washington, D.C. Some might have happened in Florida, you can only charge it where the law says that thing happened. It looks like there is a cleaner and more straightforward path to finding what's called venue in Florida. But that does not mean that they cannot also bring charges in Washington, D.C. and have a whole bunch of trials around the country for the same sort of crime.

BURNETT: For the same sort of thing.


BURNETT: Okay, well, that's interesting. I mean, just to put that context on it.

So, you know, Sarah, obviously, you were a deputy White House press secretary. You've dealt with him. Now, sources close have been telling our teams that he's not angry or agitated about this right now, at least this is what they are presenting.

But on social media, it's been a lot of all caps, right? One of the ones the other day was DOJ, FBI, New York A.G., New York D.A., Atlanta D.A., fascists all.

So, where -- is he ready for an indictment?

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY UNDER TRUMP: I think it sounds like his team is saying that he's putting on a brave face and they are trying to convince themselves of this is a nothingburger. I think they are kind of looking back at what the fallout was with the Alvin Bragg indictment, which we are not really talking about that much anymore.

BURNETT: Fair. MATTHEWS: But I think the level of charges in the crimes that he is being potentially accused of with this potential indictment are much more severe than what he was facing with the Manhattan D.A. case. I think they are going to try to say that it's all a witch hunt, and politically motivated, but these are two different cases, so it's going to be hard for them to equate the two.

BURNETT: Right. And as Sarah is pointing out, right, of course, then you've got January 6th coming and Georgia. I mean, this is just another piece in an ongoing Rubik's cube, Scott. But in terms of the response to this -- Mike Pence is running for president now, right, and he has now decided to come out left, right and center swimming. Not Chris Christie style, but aggressively for Mike Pence on Trump, on a lot of issues.

But not on this one. Here he is with Dana Bash last night.


MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATED: This kind of action by the department of justice I think would only fuel further division in the country. I hope the DOJ thinks better of it and resolve these issues without an indictment.



BURNETT: All right. So, it wasn't -- that -- you know, like I said, he's punching him everywhere he can, but not on this.


SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, the interesting duality of Mike Pence who is going to defend the Constitution no matter what, uphold the rule of law, but, meh, obstruction of justice, Espionage Act, we will just let that go because it's Donald Trump. I mean, it's a -- this shows the trouble that his candidacy is going to run into, running the kind of race he is going to have to run.

However, I do think he is an important barometer for what you're going to see out of the party. I think virtually every Republican is going to scream double standard, why isn't Joe Biden in trouble for this? Why isn't Hillary Clinton in trouble for this? You know, why is the corrupt FBI allowed to do this to Donald Trump?

And there is going to be a lot of pressure from team Trump on the House Republicans to fight back.


JENNINGS: Could that be an impeachment of Merrick Garland? Could it be calls to defund the DOJ or the FBI, or the people who are working on this investigation? So, you're going to see I think a combination of tactics here to really turn up the heat inside the Republican Party, and I think most Republicans are going to fall in line with it.

BURNETT: Yeah, political circus in this case. Again, they are the ones coming, we will see. I mean, you know, maybe at some point, something does move the needle, I don't know, we'll see. But, Elliott, to the point that Scott just raised at Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden -- specifically, Joe Biden, one of the witnesses that we mentioned that came in and said, you know, how Trump handled the classified documents. The Biden and Trump handled the case is being handled very differently, right?

Trump aggressively focused on every interaction anybody had with him, and the case of Biden, it was in the process on how they got the boxes out of the garage with the Corvette, and to where they needed to go. Does it surprise you that they were handled differently?

WILLIAMS: It doesn't because there is not evidence to suggest that Joe -- that the conduct of the two individuals was the same. And as Scott made a great point on air last night, Mike Pence's own case is the best example of this, where there simply was not evidence to suggest that Mike Pence had mishandled intentionally, allegedly, documents in the same way that Donald Trump had.

What it appears the Justice Department is doing is pursuing an investigation on the conduct that they have uncovered, and the president's own statements himself as to how he might have handled the documents. You just don't have the same situations with either Pence or Biden. I would lump two of them together.

JENNINGS: It does strike me that there is a high public relations threshold here, because half the country is going to believe that this is a complete and total politically motivated double standard. And so, whatever in that incident come down, whatever the evidence is, whatever the case is, there is going to have to be a very clear explanation. What is the difference? Or people will not accept it.

WILLIAMS: You know, lawyers are very guilty of explaining everything better to everyone, else because everyone will know what's right, and that's simply not the case.

BURNETT: Well, look, this is a problem this entire country is existentially facing, right? Don't let facts get in the way of a good story. I mean, this is -- you know, it's an issue, right? You put the facts out there and people don't necessarily believe them. This, though, here's some facts, right?

Right before he leaves office, Trump has this very formal document wanting to declassify some of the Russia investigation, talking about requesting review and maybe some can and some can't. He signs it, and this isn't just like, I think therefore I declassify.

GOODMAN: Right. If he thought that he could just, as long as he took the papers with him they would be magically be declassified, why didn't he just do that, right?

BURNETT: No, right. GOODMAN: How about the document and go through all those processes, especially because he had such a strong interest in having that material declassified and that Russia investigation. So, I think that's going to be a bit of a slam dunk for the prosecutors. They seems to have a ton of evidence.

You know, CNN also had the reports from a few months ago where there were well of over a diverse officials from the administration that says there was no such thing as a standing declassification order, it would have sent off all alarms if there were such a thing, if any -- anything like it. So, I think that one will be easily defeated.

BURNETT: So, you were there and you know, does -- did he know the proper process? I mean, it certainly indicates he -- I mean, he cared a lot about this particular issue. That's why I mentioned it was Russia. This isn't just like a sign, sorry, he's looking in the distance. This is like, where is the documents for the Russia investigation?

MATTHEWS: This was not necessarily something I would have had handed exactly been in the communications office, but I will say that I know the career officials there are of the highest, you know -- I mean, in their field there highly respected, and so I know that they would follow the proper processes and they would inform them of what it was clearly, we know that he has gone through this process with declassifying documents already.

And so, he knows better, but he is trying to kind of tried to mislead the public by saying things, like, oh, well, I took these documents, therefore they are declassified, or he's going to, say Joe Biden and Mike Pence did it. But the difference here is that it was not just being reckless and taking classified documents from the White House mistakenly, it was that when asked, he did not return them.

BURNETT: Right, right, and the obstruction portion of it. It is amazing, though, you think back to those times and he said so clearly who he was and he said, if you just say it enough, they will believe you and we see that again and again with so many.

All right. Thank you all very much.

And next, new and intense fighting in Ukraine as OUTFRONT obtained shocking video of a Russian soldier claiming he was abducted and tortured by members of Putin's private army.


And now, tonight, he's saying he is not the only soldier that was beaten by Wagner fighters.

And The Supreme Court tonight rules in favor of Black voters. It's a surprising decision. Two of the most conservative judges backed that ruling. The head of the NAACP is OUTFRONT next.

And Joran van der Sloot is now in the United States, landing a short time ago on an FBI plane. Sloot is the prime suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, and he is hours away for the first time in that entire situation in facing a judge in America.


BURNETT: Tonight, abduction and torture. That's what a Russian brigade commander who was previously in the Wagner group's custody is accusing the brutal private army of doing to him and other Russian soldiers.


ROMAN GENNADYEVICH, RUSSIAN BRIGADE COMMANDER (through translator): I was captured, held in a basement and abused in a way that no embittered Russian soldier, dammit, would have used a captive Ukrainian soldier. I was beaten, not allowed to sleep and I was dragged out of the basement three times during the night. They tried to shoot me.


BURNETT: Now, CNN can't independently verify those allegations, of course, but the Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin dismisses them, no surprise, as, quote, absolute nonsense.


But they are another example of the bitter public feud between the Russian military and the Wagner fighting group. And it comes as intense fighting is under way now. Ukrainian forces are moving and attempting to breach Russia's defensive lines in both the east and the south. Senior U.S. officials tonight telling CNN that Ukraine's military has suffered, quote, significant losses in soldiers and heavy equipment after meeting greater Russian resistance than expected.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Breaking news on Kremlin-controlled TV, claiming Moscow's forces are facing massive attacks in southern Ukraine.

OLGA SKABEEVA, RUSSIAN STATE TV ANCHOR (through translator): Ukrainian forces attacked with NATO tanks and light armored vehicles. Our army has fought off these attacks.

PLEITGEN: Russia's defense ministry releasing aerial videos like this one allegedly showing their forces targeting, advancing Ukrainian formations in the Zaporizhzhia region. Moscow also claims to have taken out a modern Western anti-aircraft radar system close to the front lines.

On a visit to an arms depot, Russia's defense minister urging faster weapons deliveries.

The enemy tried to advance today, he says, so this equipment is needed. Let's hurry up. While the Ukrainians have not confirmed offensive operations and CNN

can't independently verify the specific Russian claims, U.S. officials have told CNN the Russians are putting up stiff resistance.

Ukraine's leadership says they understand their counteroffensive will be long and tough and they will need lots of armor to penetrate Russia's defenses. They showed us this repair and modification shop where they fix up mostly vehicles captured from the Russians, including this modern troop transporter.

Even with all the Western equipment that the Ukrainians have already received, they still have a lot less than the Russians do. That's why every tank and every armored vehicle that they can get back on the battlefield will be vital for Ukraine's war effort.

That includes even seemingly destroyed vehicles like this blown up armored personnel carrier, the project manager tells me.

BOHDAN OSTAPCHUK, PROJECT COORDINATOR: All this we can restore the units.

PLEITGEN: Further along the southern front line, the situation in the areas flooded by the recent destruction of a major dam is deteriorating. Ukraine and Russia accusing each other of targeting operations to rescue flood victims.

Ukraine's chief rabbi dodging for cover as shells rain down.

MOSHE AZMAN, CHIEF RABBI OF UKRAINE: To bring people here from over the river and the Russians --

PLEITGEN: The Ukrainians say several people were wounded in Kherson as the authorities continue to fight to bring those stranded to safety.


BURNETT: So, Fred, how is the Ukrainian military responding after suffering what U.S. defense officials are saying were significant losses on the front lines?

PLEITGEN: Yeah, Erin, they're trying to show that they still have the initiative not just here in the south, but in all parts of the battlefield in Ukraine. And it was interesting because there was an operational update where they were saying on the southern front line where allegedly all of this happened that the Russians there are actively defending in that sector which obviously means that the Ukrainians are the ones who still have the initiative and that more is to come.

But one of the other things that Ukrainians are also trying to say as well is, look, this is a very long front line, it's a big battlefield and no place where the Russians are making significant gains and one of the places that Ukrainians are pointed to, by the way, is still Bakhmut, where they say they've been making significant gains against the Russians in the last couple of days. In fact, the commander of the Ukraine's forces, he posted on his Telegram channel tonight a picture of Ukrainians destroying a Russian tank and saying Ukrainians in that sector are hitting the Russians in the teeth -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Fred, thank you very much.

And next, the surprising ruling for the Supreme Court in favor of Black voters in Alabama. Both Roberts and Kavanaugh siding with the liberal justices and that is what turned the tide here. Did they just help Democrats win back the House?

And Robert Kennedy Jr. still polling 20 percent among Democrats, even wild comments just like this just tonight.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. (D), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE : We've killed 350,000 Ukrainian kids in a -- in a -- for a sham.




BURNETT: Okay. We have some breaking news, and I want to go straight to Paula Reid for that in Washington -- Paula.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Right. That's -- okay. Yes. Hi there, sorry.

We're working the sources and working my phone right now, Erin. At this point, former President Trump has posted on Truth Social that his attorneys have been informed by the Justice Department that he has been indicted. We have been on the phone with Justice Department sources. We did not have any independent confirmation that this is true.

We have obviously been watching for this, we have been waiting for this, after the former president received a letter from the Justice Department informing him that he is, indeed a target of the federal investigation after the possible mishandling of classified documents.

Erin, as you know, that is really a formal step notifying someone that they have the opportunity to go before a grand jury that they could be charged. At this point again, this is just the former president posting to social media that he's been informed that he's been indicted and at this point, there is no official confirmation from the Justice Department, the special counsel's office or the FBI.

BURNETT: All right. Paula, thank you very much.

I should note, of course, there have been other times when he said I have no idea and I didn't know anything about this, right, when we knew that his lawyers had been -- had been told. So, you know, I'm not trying to make implications about what this is or isn't, but either way, it is significant that he is going ahead and posting that he's been indicted.

REID: Now I can hear you. We rushed over here, so --


BURNETT: No, I know you did.

REID: Technology was second to the reporting. I'm sorry. Can you repeat your question?

BURNETT: No, no, I'm just saying, other times on social media, of course, you know, he's posted he didn't know anything about this when his lawyer his been notified and other situations whether it be E. Jean Carroll or Alvin Bragg. So, the fact that he's come out and saying he's being indicted could be the case although we don't yet know if it is.

REID: Exactly. We did reach out to the special counsel's office and they were not able to confirm and we did speak to his spokesman and we are not able to get confirmation on this.

We were previously told that they would issue some sort of press release if and when this happened. So, as of right now, all we have is a social media post from the former president says that his attorneys have been informed that he has been indicted. But at this time again, absolutely no confirmation. We're working the phones and we've reached out to the Justice Department and the special counsel.

BURNETT: Al right. So, Paula, I'll let you back on the phone here as we're trying to figure out what this is, and, you know, if an indictment really has come down, what that is that indictment, what counts, what it's about, all of those details are crucial in this.

Ryan Goodman, let me ask you here, obviously, to emphasize to everyone. Donald Trump is posting on his own social media site that he has been indicted. We do not yet know when that is true or not or the details. But, obviously, in the sense of this being imminent, it would be completely consistent with the situation if it's true.

GOODMAN: A hundred percent. Just ten minutes ago we were saying when could this happen? It could happen today because of the tea leaves that we've been able to see, that, in fact, the senior prosecutor was down there in Miami and there's no reporting of any witnesses and it was consistent of him presenting evidence to the grand jury for them to agree to an indictment or not.

So I think that it's fully realistic that this has happened, and it would be no surprise. The only thing that is a surprise might be what's actually in the indictment and how egregious some of the conduct that might be there and what exactly the crimes are.

BURNETT: Right, right.

And, Elliot, we don't know yet and there's an indictment and never mind what's in it, but that is going to be obviously very crucial. How far it goes and what they extend it to and whether it's merely obstruction, how many documents and whether it extends to espionage. WILLIAMS: And, well, as we were talking about earlier in the show,

where it is. Is it Florida? Is it Washington, D.C.? And for what particular crimes? We just simply do not know.

You know, it's always with great caution that we pounce on something that comes on Donald Trump's truth feed, but Ryan's points are exactly correct. This would be consistent with the imminent --

BURNETT: And on that front, I believe Paula Reid, let me go back to you, that, Paula, you have confirmed, indeed, that the former president of the United States has been indicted.

REID: Erin, I am told by an official familiar with the matter that this social media post is correct. The former president has been indicted and I don't have details beyond that in terms of the specific charges and in terms of the specific counts. But it does appear that the former president got out ahead of the official announcement of the special counsel to announce that yes, he has been indicted by a federal grand jury in the ongoing investigation into the possible mishandling of classified materials.

BURNETT: All right. So, Paula, thank you.

Paula is obviously going to continue working this, Katelyn Polantz, as they get more information about what's in the indictment, we're going to bring to you, because that's obviously now the next crucial question.

Ryan, let me ask you, though, if the president, former president, Donald J. Trump, has now been indicted, we know that, would he know all those details? Would they have been presented with all of that in this situation whether they be in Florida or Washington? Those are details we simply don't know yet?

GOODMAN: It's difficult to know, but he might have been informed of what's in it and I would imagine that the Justice Department will release it tomorrow so that the entire public can see what's in it.

And the big question is, is it a speaking indictment? Is it written for the American public so that people can understand what happened --

BURNETT: Tell the story.

GOODMAN: Tell the story, a narrative of what they found and what their theory of the case is and high likelihood and it doesn't get higher than this case that it would be a speaking indictment that informs us of that kind of information and it goes from the news pages that have been reporting on this to what the actual allegations are.

BURNETT: All right. So, here is the one detail that he is posting on Truth Social. So, again, I emphasize this is the former president, although given this, it appears to be accurate, that he has been summoned to appear before the courthouse in Miami, Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. So translate, Elliot.

WILLIAMS: So, it's an indictment in the southern district of Florida. It is a federal district that serves Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and I was a clerk in that courthouse many, many years ago.

So, again, I hesitate to speculate as to what the actual charges are. They are certainly different than charges that could have been brought in Washington, D.C. But we know that Mar-a-Lago was there and they were certainly reporting to suggest that obstruction of justice and a number of offenses related to the retention --


BURNETT: Obstruction, retention, dissemination, whatever it is, all could have happened there.


Now, can I just -- Ryan, Miami. I understand the grand jury was there, but there have been questions about whether this would be in Miami- Dade or whether this would be in Palm Beach, which would be potentially different jurisdictions in terms of how this can go for him.

Does appearing in Miami say anything to you?

GOODMAN: It's not clear I think at this point as to what the jury pool will be like and who the judge will be. I think that's another thing everybody is going to be watching for because on the wheel is Aileen Cannon who was the judge in the prior proceedings that kind of went off the rails. The judge that I think most people in the legal community felt was highly biased and a trial judge would have enormous control. So that's another big question that people should be looking for.

BURNETT: All right. Let's get back to Paula Reid who has a bit more information now.

REID: That's right, Erin.

We now have two sources confirming to myself and our colleague Kristen Holmes that former President Trump has been indicted in the ongoing investigation into the possible mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago beach club and potentially other locations. But at this point, we do not know the specific charges. We do not know the number of charges, but, Erin, as you know, this does not come as a terrible surprise because we know the former president's attorneys have received a target letter recently informing him that he was the target, which usually is followed pretty closely thereafter by an indictment.

So, this is something that we've been watching for and waiting for and the former president, again, seemed to get out ahead of the announcement on social media. But we have two sources confirming and we're continuing to work the phones to get more information about the nature of the charges and how many counts he will face.

BURNETT: Right, and those are crucial piece of information, but, Scott and Mondaire, I mean, what she just said is true, right? This was anticipated that this was going to happen. Nonetheless, when something happens and you are hit with the meaning of it, it matters, but politically, there he is once again, going ahead of it.


BURNETT: And he's going to try to seize it and turn it to fund-raising and everything else.

JENNINGS: Absolutely. And you can see in his first post tonight, he's trying to go ahead and juxtapose it against Joe Biden, why isn't Joe Biden in trouble? Look what he did over this long period of time. That will be the message that they want Republicans to carry.

One thing I'm looking for over the next few days, maybe the lawyers can tell us, is if you think about where we are in the context of the campaign cycle, well there be a trial before a campaign and what other possible outcomes are there? Could he a reach a plea agreement in which he serves no jail time which could potentially serve his political ends?

I'm curious to know --

BURNETT: In that case, he says yeah, I kept it, okay. So did Joe Biden. So did Mike Pence.

JENNINGS: And it's all corrupt and we'll clean it out when we get there. I mean, I -- to me as a political, you know, strategist looking at this and not as a lawyer, how do you get out of it and keep running for president, or does he think maybe running for president and winning is his best defense? Those are the kinds of things I'm thinking about tonight.

BURNETT: Go ahead.

MONDAIRE JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It doesn't make him any less likely to get the Republican nomination even after having been indicted. I mean, I don't -- I'm not an expert on Republican politics, but I suspect it doesn't make him less likely to get the nomination. And so, so long as he can --


JENNINGS: One issue that we didn't discuss earlier, however, if in the evidence it were made clear or said that he somehow took classified material and it got into the hands of a foreign national, that would complicate his arguments that he constantly makes against Biden and Hunter Biden about their ties in Ukraine and China. If he somehow caused American classified material to get into the hands -- again, we have no idea and we haven't seen any of this, but to me that would be more destabilizing than just some of the things we heard.

BURNETT: All right. Hit pause for one moment.

We're here -- Paula Reid, I know you have a little bit more. Paula is on her phone talking and then pops up here. Go ahead, Paula.

REID: I'm literally texting colleagues and writing at the same time.


REID: So, one of the questions is where would these charges be filed and it appears form this Truth Social post that we're told is accurate. The former president has been asked to report next Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. in Miami for his initial appearance, and that is significant because it suggests that this indictment likely came out of the Florida grand jury.

And that's something we only really known about for about a week now. We believe this is a recent development and investigators have been using a grand jury down in Florida. The entire investigation, Erin, has been conducted her in Washington, D.C. Witnesses have traveled from all over the country, dozens of them, to testify here in Washington before the grand jury, here in D.C. where the special counsel is located.

So, the fact that they chose to pick up and move this entire case down to Florida suggests that may have had some concerns about whether it would be upheld in court for D.C. to be the venue. This is arguably a ray of hope for the Trump team that had hoped between D.C. and Florida that any potential trial will be down in Florida. But I think the first challenge, according to my sources, that you're going to see to any case, even one in Florida, is his lawyers will try to conduct this entire probe, this entire investigation here in D.C. so they could get favorable rulings on the executive privilege challenges and then move the case to Florida.


I am told that will be one of the first challenges that will be launched here.

BURNETT: All right. Paula, thank you.

And as Paula was speaking, we just were confirming one other part of this, according to a source familiar. There are seven counts in this indictment which is coming out of south Florida.

So, Ryan, take this, what she's saying about all of the work, all of the testimony and everything that was done in front of a grand jury in Washington. Does it all get handed to Florida and then in a week, they're able to return this with seven counts? What does all of this mean?

GOODMAN: A hundred percent, all of the information that they accumulated in D.C. from that grand jury could be transferred over to Florida and just read in for the Florida jury which has been sitting now for a few weeks so that may have happened way back when, and then they had maybe additional witnesses and just a few apparently, and they get presented with the entire package and they vote on the indictment.

If we've got this many counts, based on the historical practice of when the Justice Department does charge for something like the Espionage Act, I would guess that each of those counts were a separate offense and they're different conduct, and each count might have multiple documents.

BURNETT: Right. That's because that's what I was wondering. Is it a count per document or is it a clump, and is espionage? I mean, you know, I guess, is it possible to, you know, read anything into seven counts?

GOODMAN: I think it would be -- I would guess --

BURNETT: Right --

JONES: Could obstruction be brought?

GOODMAN: Absolutely. So I would go like this, based on the evidence that's publicly available to us, including prior DOJ filings, and also "The New York Times" report that explain what the theory of the case was when they tried to piercer and successfully pierce the attorney- client privilege, one is obstruction. But this is not thin.

It is also the Espionage Act. They said that to Beryl Howell, the chief judge at the time in D.C., so it's likely those two. And then in addition to that it could be defiance of a grand jury subpoena, that's another one, another form of obstruction.

I also think they would go forward on classified documents charges and other parts of the Espionage Act, and not just retention of documents and they refer to the national defense information but classified documents. I don't think they'll blink one bit on the idea that these were declassified. So, I think it could be the full gamut to have that many counts. It sounds like that's the -- those are the most likely.

BURNETT: They went big.

GOODMAN: They went big. And then -- the one thing they think that may be in Trump's favor is conspiracy, the idea that we have not heard of anybody else being indicted.

BURNETT: Right, no. The fact that it's in Miami, because if there were conspiracy, there is actually a strong legal argument that you can bring it to D.C. It doesn't matter where the conduct took place.

So, the fact that it's in Miami is maybe one positive thing for him tonight, but I do think that to Scott's point, the one thing I'll be looking for is, is there a charge or a count for dissemination of information, not just that he retained it, but he disseminated it, because "The Washington Post's" most recent reporting is that he did share it with age and visitors at Mar-a-Lago. That could be big and if they say something, including a foreign national for --

BURNETT: Right, and just -- right?

WILLIAMS: And I think in just basic terms, just go back to the search warrant that was executed at Mar-a-Lago back I believe was August 8, my -- of 2022, and what the three crimes that were identified in that search warrant were.

One was the Espionage Act and sort of the mishandling of defense- specific information. Two, was the mishandling of classified or sensitive government documents. And three, was obstruction of justice. All of the information that sort of leaked out or been reported about since then seems to support that somewhere in those three crimes might have been charged and obviously, obstruction of justice being one that -- given the other charges that they seem to be talking about or bringing, obstruction is probably --

BURNETT: All right. Let's go to Kristen Holmes now. She's got the details here, breaking details on the seven counts.

Kristen, what are you learning?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, right now, they're still on a call. They are talking about political team and the lawyers and they're trying to find out exactly what this means. Trump putting this out on social media almost immediately after learning it, but what we do know is that there are seven counts here, seven charges here in this indictment.

Now, again, all I know is that they are working through it at this second. They were not expecting it at this point.

As we've reported all day, he and his top aides have been huddled at Bedminster. They have been waiting for this to happen. They believe it was going to happen imminently, and now, of course, it has. So, what they are working through, what I have learned is that there are seven charges, they are talking through with the lawyers right now, what exactly that means, what those charges are, and as soon as we have them, we will bring to you, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Absolutely, Kristen, as we're awaiting that, it's still knowing seven charges.

Go ahead, Mondaire.

JONES: You've been talking about the legal merits and the potential counts against him. We haven't talked about the gravity of even a twice-impeached former president of the United States being criminally prosecuted by the federal Department of Justice, a department that he used to oversee just a few years ago.


I mean, this is extraordinarily sad as a day and a moment in history for the United States, even as many people, myself included, would take solace in knowing that the rule of law can still apply even to a former president of the United States.

BURNETT: Right. And that's certainly what we're seeing.

Scott, yeah?

JENNINGS: The Department of Justice that he used to oversee and that he's now overseen by his once and probable future rival for the presidency. I mean, that has obviously never happened before, but that will be

lost on a lot of Republicans. This Department of Justice is now overseen by an appointee of Joe Biden.

JONES: You will say that.

JENNINGS: I think you can see this as a key talking point for Republicans, I mean, just how weaponized. I mean, you're hearing this in other venue, but that weaponization word you will hear it over and over again that Joe Biden has to weaponize the federal government to keep Donald Trump --

JONES: And they will be B.S. because we have someone who has been very methodical about this. Frankly, there are other things that President Trump could have been charged for that he wasn't. There was a lot of, in fact, criticism for Merrick Garland for the pace at which this is being charged, there has been charged, and the lack of charge for other crimes. So, I think the weaponization, you know, allegation may resonate with some Republicans who are listening to --

BURNETT: Well, there's the politics of it --

JONES: But it won't be -- it won't be accurate.

BURNETT: He's already, in fact, raising -- fund-raising off of this right now, but there are some movements happening with security. Evan Perez is learning a bit about that.

Evan, again, we understand the former president will be appearing in front of a courthouse in Miami Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. Already, though, you have news of security moving.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's right, Erin. We expect that the -- that the Justice Department is expecting obviously that they need to boost the security down there in Miami. So they're moving resources beginning early next week ahead of that expected first appearance before a magistrate down in Miami federal court. That tells us that they -- that this is where the case has been brought after months of taking testimony from witnesses here in Washington. For whatever reason they decided that Miami is the place to bring this case.

And so, that's what now the Justice Department is having to scramble to bring -- to bring resources in to handle an expected, obviously, a very complicated security situation.

Erin, for months, frankly, the Justice Department was expecting that maybe they would be dealing with possible security issues here in Washington where they are more equipped, right? There's a lot more resources here in Washington to deal with this, so having to do something in Miami certainly, I think, you can tell has taken some of these folks by a -- a little bit by surprise which is why they're scrambling to make those resources brought to Miami ahead of the former president's first appearance before a magistrate down there in Miami.

BURNETT: All right. Evan, thank you very much.

As our reporting team is working these details, Ryan, one thing I find amazing, Kristen Holmes reporting seven counts and she's saying they're literally on a call right now on a Trump team, reading through it, trying to understand what they are and what's going on. That that's literally happening as we're sitting here having this conversation.

GOODMAN: Yeah. And I wrote a piece in "The Washington Post" published two days ago, looking at an indictment.


GOODMAN: So, one of them is like retention versus dissemination. There's one other piece that I didn't have in that piece, but it's something I'd also be curious to see what Scott thinks about. The indictment wouldn't just include the charges. It would also include other information.

There's a big question here. Will it also say, which we've seen reported, that the Department of Justice believes that there's still documents out there in the wild that are either in Trump's control or he's lost control of them? So, in terms of the national security implications of this case, does that also potentially change the equation?

JENNINGS: Well, it certainly goes on what Mike Pence was saying yesterday that Donald Trump violated his oath of office and abused the Constitution in his role as commander in chief. That -- if there are national security implications to these documents, if they were disseminated, if they're very sensitive and whatever we find out. Oh, you can certainly see a Mike Pence even though he said Trump shouldn't be indicted on this, it does speak to exactly what he said, that when he had the power of the office of the presidency, when he was the commander in chief, he put himself above the Constitution.

And so, if you were Mike Pence, you could potentially make hay of that, although he may already have boxed outside out of that argument because he said the Department of Justice should let him go.

BURNETT: Right. The former president's team is on the phone going through this right now. He, we understand, is in Bedminster New Jersey at his home there.

Our Alayna Treene is there.

Alina, what are you learning? I mean, he's there at Bedminster right now.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is. He is. Yes, so we are just very near to Bedminster where the former president is. And he is there with some of his aides.


And I'll tell you, Erin, he has been bracing for this potential indictment for some time now. I mean, for the past couple of days, he knew that the special counsel was closing in on the probe, and really, I think learning that he was the target of the special counsel's investigation was really the sharpest signal yet that they were closing in on this, and that possible charges against the former president were imminent.

Now, we're told -- I've been talking to a lot of the former president's advisers, as have my colleagues, and they say they don't think he's been angry in the past few day, knowing that indictment was potentially looming, and he's really seemed to kind of take this little -- we'll see if that's the case now. I know that he's been posting on Truth Social and releasing details of this indictment.


TREENE: And definitely continuing to call it a political witch hunt, continuing to say that he hasn't done any wrongdoing. But they're still trying to formulate how they're going to officially respond to this.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Alayna. She is in Bedminster, New Jersey, where, of course, the former president is with his advisers right now.

I want to get back to Paula Reid in Washington with some breaking news on the special counsel.

What are you learning, Paula?

REID: At this point, Erin, we do not expect to hear anything from the office of special counsel Jack Smith. Of course the former president clearly got out in front of any intended announcement that they had planned, and I'm told not to expect anything officially from their office tonight. It is a little surprising, Erin, because this is a historic moment. This is the first time a former president of the United States is facing a federal indictment, much of the information we're getting right now is from Truth Social. Then of course we're going to our sources.

But the fact that the prosecutor heading up this investigation, who pursued this indictment is not going to come out and say something today, you know, that is their decision. So far throughout the course of this investigation, Jack Smith has had absolutely no interest in engaging with the press.


REID: So at this point, we don't expect to hear anything from him or his office, and it's unclear if and when we will hear from the office.

BURNETT: All right. Paula, thank you very much.

Can I just -- I want to get a better understanding of Trump's role in this right now.

But,, Ryan and Elliot, first, quickly to you. When you hear all of this happen in D.C., and suddenly -- I'm not saying -- we only found out when we found out about that south Florida grand jury a week ago, okay? I'm not saying that it wasn't happening -- I'm just saying, that's when we found out everything was happening in Washington.

What does it say to you it appears there was a sudden shift and now all of this is happening in terms of what special counsel is thinking or was special counsel surprised, or did something unexpected happen?

GOODMAN: So, difficult to know.


GOODMAN: But it does seem that some of the things we do know, there was a grand jury that issued a subpoena back in 2022 to just get the material back.


GOODMAN: That's the subpoena that he got. That's the subpoena that he defied by the allegations of the Justice Department. And then they started building a case.

Now a lot of the conduct happens by removal of the documents from D.C. and taken to Miami. Maybe they don't make their decision as to where exactly they'll file the charges until later in the day. And then when they make that decision, they need to go to the grand jury and the venue and jurisdiction where they'll file the charges. But at time one, they're just accumulating all the evidence that they have.

BURNETT: But then they had to have like basically a really quick PowerPoint to go down in there in a few days and say okay, guy, read through these through bullet points. Go ahead and hand us this indictment.

WILLIAMS: Sure. But my sense as they were building the case, this is backing up Ryan's point, eventually they found what was indictable, and it was -- they were just going to run into tougher venue problems in Washington, D.C. That happens when you're building cases.

The conduct happens in various places around the country. You can't charge it everywhere. And what they could have done is try to bring it in Washington, D.C., but just end up in a fight in court for a year litigating.

BURNETT: Standing jurisdiction.

WILLIAMS: These arcane questions about jurisdiction. They're very hard to prove.


But, Kara Scannell, has anyone watching knows has been a big part of this. And, Kara, you've done a lot of work on this crucial venue question and why we are going to see the former president appear in Miami to answer to this indictment at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday. KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so, Erin, one question here is

on venue. One of the areas that prosecutors look to when they're bringing a case is trying to put it in the place where the alleged crime took place. Mar-a-Lago is about 70 miles north of where I'm standing right now, and, you know, that is where a lot of the allegations that have -- we don't know what the actual charges are right now, but that's what this investigation has been looking at the handling of these documents.

Some of them are classified since the former president left office. And he brought those documents here to Florida. So that is in essence of where some of this investigation can be. You'll remember that a lot of this investigation, one of the things that came out in some of the early court filings is that they're looking at possible obstruction of justice.

There were a number of subpoenas sent to the president's legal team here in Florida. DOJ came here to look for documents, and then they did not believe that they got all the cooperation that they needed, and they got a court-ordered search warrant to come and have the FBI search the premises at Mar-a-Lago.


So if this indictment is focusing on obstruction, that is where that activity would have allegedly taken place. And we do know from my colleague and our team of reporters that a number of witnesses that prosecutors have spoken to have been some low level employees of Mar- a-Lago, some close aides of the former President Trump who were involved in the moving of some of these documents in the storage area just as the Justice Department was coming to look for them.

So that is often a key reason why prosecutors charge in one place, because they get the jurisdiction there and the venue there. So that could give us a sense of what the focus of these charges are, though we're still waiting to see exactly what they are, Erin.

BURNETT: Right, right. All we know is that there are seven counts being brought in Miami and southern Florida, and that the former president will be appearing in Miami to answer to those on Tuesday.

We know that his team, our Kristen Holmes has been reporting has been on a call going through this, trying to figure out what these charges are.

Sarah Matthews, former press secretary for former President Trump, here we are knowing his inner circle and who is left of it, who it is now. How does all this go down right now as they're trying to figure this out?

MATTHEWS: Yeah, I think that you're going to see that they're going to reach out to their allies and they're going to say that we need to blow this up and say that this is a political witch hunt, that he is being indicted because he is running for president and he is performing so well in the polls. I think the messaging that they're going to try to portray is going to be similar to what he put out on his truth social. But the issue is that from what I know about Trump, he is going to say that he is being indicted because he is running for president.

But I believe that he is running for president because he knew he was facing legal trouble, and that he could use his campaign as a shield then and say this is politically motivated and they're coming after me because they don't want me to be president again. But the thing is, this shows that no one is above the law, not even a former president.

BURNETT: No, absolutely.

All right. Let's get back the Paula Reid.

Paula, as you're breaking this kind of moment by moment, we are still here at a point where we understand the former president, Donald J. Trump has been indicted in southern Florida by the DOJ and that it's seven counts.

REID: That's exactly right. This is the first time a former president of the United States, Erin, has faced a federal indictment. As you said, we believe there are seven counts. At this point, though, we do not know the specific charges. The former president, as we understand it, is expected to appear in Miami on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. for his initial appearance.

Now he is calling this, quote, a dark day for the country. And at this point, we do not, I am told, we should not expect to hear from special counsel Jack Smith or his office at any point today. It's unclear if we'll hear from them tomorrow.

But we're continuing to work the phones to find out exactly what the former president has been charged with. We know he was under investigation for several different crimes, including possible mishandling of classified documents, potential crimes related to defense information, and also possible efforts to obstruct this, even potentially conspiracy. But at this point, it's unclear what the seven counts are.

BURNETT: All right, Paula, thank you, as we await that.

Ryan, one thing I think everyone in this country should be able to agree on, perhaps for different reasons, obviously, is that it is a dark day. It is a dark day to see a former president of the United States charged with obstructing justice and with taking classified documents, national security documents out of the White House and preventing them from being returned.

GOODMAN: It's the exact same thought I had when he said that, that it's actually a truth. It's a dark day for the country. And it's obviously an enormous historic moment. But will be looked back as a dark day that this has happened, that it's reached this point, and that the allegations are this serious, and it's of a national security matter this large.

BURNETT: And as we await those counts, Elliot, one thing we should be looking for. You talk about a talking indictment, right, which I know we talked a lot about in the Alvin Bragg case in New York that would include a lot of detail, all the context. Do you think we're going to get something like this? Is it going to be documents?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think it might. Now look, the Justice Department almost as a platitude said we speak through our documents, not through the words of the attorney general or Jack Smith or anyone else, and that's lawyer speak and not the real world we live in.

And Donald Trump is right now out there eating the Justice Department's lunch by issues statements and getting ahead of the public narrative.

Now, look, I was prosecutor in federal government for 15 years. I support the fact that the Justice Department is not getting into the silly season, but, again, a lot of this is a sort of public communications and political fight.

JONES: I think they should issue a statement, right? They don't have to go tit for tat.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. They're not going to until -- until tomorrow or the point at which either charges are unsealed or made public. I get it. I get it. I get it.

But you know, this is a different game when you're charging a president of the United States of crime and that's' what we're seeing here.

BURNETT: Right. And sometimes you have to play -- right, you got to play -- you got to play by a different game.

All right. All thank you so very much on this historic day with this breaking news, the former president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has been indicted on seven counts in the Mar-a-Lago documents case.

Let's hand it off now for our breaking news coverage continuing with Anderson.