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Erin Burnett Outfront
Trump Faces New Charges In Docs Case For Total Of 40 Counts; Wagner Chief Spotted In Russia For First Time Since Mutiny. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 27, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett, and welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT.
We are following the breaking news as Wolf said and the additional indictments.
All right. Well, good evening and let's get straight to it. President Trump now facing additional charges in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. Those charges include willful retention of national defense information and two additional obstruction charges. Those are related to alleged attempts to delete surveillance video footage from Trump's Mar-a-Lago club last summer.
Now, according to the indictment, Trump requested, that's the word they used, that a Mar-a-Lago employee, quote, delete security camera footage in order to, quote, prevent the footage from being provided to a federal grand jury. These new charges are in addition to the 37 charges Trump is already facing.
And we're also learning tonight new charges were filed as well against Trump's aide, Walt Nauta. And a third individual is now charged, specifically related to this deleting of video, and that man is Carlos de Oliveira. He's the head of maintenance at Mar-a-Lago who helped Trump's aid Walt Nauta move boxes of classified documents after the Justice Department first subpoenaed Trump for those documents.
Now, we don't know exactly how many times he helped move them, but we know he did help, and we know those boxes sat for months in a ballroom where events and gatherings were taking place, that the public were able to access. The boxes were then moved to a business center and then to a bathroom. From there the boxes were moved today a storage room.
So, we've got a lot to get to tonight with these additional developments. So, let's begin with Evan Perez live in Washington.
And, Evan, let's start with what we're looking at tonight. You know, in June, we got an indictment in 49 pages. Tonight, we have a superseding indictment, meaning it is now it supersedes, it takes the place of. It is 60 pages. We have additional charges. They're alleging video is
deleted. They have a new document presented in here. How significant is this? What specifically are they adding?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the most significant things that you see in this document, Erin, is the addition of a 30-second document, classified document that prosecutors are alleging the former president is -- attempted to willfully retain against the law. That's what they're accusing him of here.
And that document has to do with those Iran attack plans that we've described in previous reporting from CNN. This, of course, was captured in that now famous video -- I'm sorry, audiotape that was recorded by biographers who were working on a biography for Mark Meadows, interviewing the former president in which he described his work of his efforts to, you know, try to stop what he said was a plan to attack Iran, that people from the Pentagon were trying to come up with plans to attack Iran.
And so, that document is now listed as one of the documents the former president was willfully retaining. We don't know much more about that, just the fact it is now listed. We also know according to this document that the former president is accused of working with his two aides, both Carlos de Oliveira who is now facing charges, a third person now charged as a defendant in this case, and Walt Nauta, his other -- his valet, attempting to delete surveillance video. They describe in very great detail the attempts in which they have a discussion, they walk the grounds, they go and they look at the place where you can see all the footage.
They even go in and take photographs of places where the cameras sit, and they describe talking to another Trump employee, another employee who is not named and he says the boss wants you to delete this footage. The employee responds I don't think I can do that, I don't know how to do that. And so, in the end, it appears, we don't know the footage is actually tempered with, but that is a crime, the attempt to delete that would still be a crime, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, which is obviously very significant, and we're going to talk in a moment about why all this would be added now. Again, the original charges are June 8th. Today, obviously, July 27th.
So, can you -- you mention Carlos de Oliveira, now the third defendant in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, Evan, and they still in this indictment list employee number 4, employee number 5. There are others that are not yet named, but we now have an additional named employee and now a defendant.
So, what do you know about him?
PEREZ: It is clear, Erin, that at least one of those employees, perhaps more provided very, very key information to prosecutors that allowed them to put together the puzzle here that we have. It's also clear that they have at least some text messages, from Signal text messages, in which they're describing whether Carlos can be trusted, whether he's good. And after that conversation, Donald Trump, according to prosecutors,
has a conversation with de Oliveira. And he tells de Oliveira that Trump is going to get him an attorney. All of this occurring, all of this occurring after the FBI comes down and retrieves those documents from Mar-a-Lago. But de Oliveira is one of those people seen on surveillance tapes moving boxes. He's working with Walt Nauta to remove boxes.
And prosecutors, some of those boxes don't come back to that storage room. Again, that is part of the key facts here in this case. And we also know he was responsible for putting a lock on that door, that it was supposed, you know, they had told the FBI that they were going to secure that room with those documents. Of course, it ended up not being secured because according to prosecutors, documents were moved out and not put back in.
BURNETT: All right, Evan, thank you very much.
And as Evan gets more, I'll bring this to you. I want to go to our experts here, of course, as you know them.
Ryan Goodman, former special counsel with the Defense Department, now with Just Security; Karen Friedman Agnifilo, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, a former close colleague to the special counsel Jack Smith; Alyssa Farah Griffin, former director of strategic communications in the Trump White House; and Jamal Simmons, former communications director for Vice President Kamala Harris.
All right. So, thanks very much to all of you. Let me start by bucking this and you've got a new document presented and then you have this whole new area of deleting security footage and these codefendants.
But before we even get to these big buckets, let me start with, Ryan, 49 pages on June 8th. Superseding indictment is now 69 pages on July 27th. Jack Smith at the time talked said -- talked about a speedy trial.
So, obviously, this is going to slow it down. It seems it's going to slow it down. You're adding all this. Why now?
RYAN GOODMAN, CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, JUST SECURITY: So why now might be just they came across the evidence after their first indictment because the grand jury continued to meet, continued to take additional witnesses and maybe they were looking at this third person who they sent a target letter to him.
When they get all that information, it doesn't just implicate him. It also implicates the former president. They in some sense have no choice given the explosive nature of these charges, but to add it and then, yes, it slows everything down. But what can you do?
BURNETT: But it's worth it. To them, it's worth it. So the may trial date is out pretty much, we can assume.
GOODMAN: I would assume. So, these additional person has to a get a new lawyer, that person has to have a security clearances. BURNETT: All that starts again, to reset the clock. All right. Karen,
what do you say to why now?
KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, WORKED WITH SPECIAL COUNSEL: I think this is kind of a blockbuster of a superseding indictment. I think partly Jack Smith wanted to show that Donald Trump was claiming oh, no, at Bedminster those were just magazine and newspaper clippings, it was just paper, there's nothing there, this is Jack Smith calling his bluff and saying we have the document.
I think they had the document all along. If you recall they recovered over 100 documents that had a classified marking, but they only used 31 of them in the 32 counts partly because some were so sensitive that they're not going to use them.
But when Donald Trump came out and was taunting the special counsel and lying and saying it wasn't there, I think Jack Smith must have worked with the national security officials to negotiate and say we've got to show that we have this document and we've got to include it in there. So they added a count related to that. I think that's very significant.
And also with Mr. Oliveira adding it, I think, you know, look he lied. And there's a lot of false statements. It's spelled out in the indictment in the final count about count 42 about Mr. Oliveira. And it's like question after question, did you move the boxes, did you see the boxes, no. Did you see anything like that, never. Never saw anything -- no, no, no, no.
And they have the video showing the opposite. It's just these people are lying, they're obstructing the investigation. They're destroying evidence, and they're -- it's just so blatant. This is not an inadvertent, gee, I didn't realize I had these papers. These are people trying to cover it up.
BURNETT: All right. So, Alyssa, now, let's get into the two buckets, right, and let's start here with where Karen started (ph) when she's talking about the attempt to destroy the video that they lay out. So Mr. De Oliveira is the head of maintenance at the Trump Organization -- at Mar-a-Lago, I'm sorry, Mar-a-Lago.
In one of these, I'm going to go to the timeline in a moment, but Trump calls de Oliveira and they speak for 24 minutes. That's a lot of time for the former president of the United States to spend on the phone with his head of maintenance.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's quite a bit. This is a remarkably detailed indictment. It talks specifically about -- it has this quote, the boss wanted the server deleted, talking about the video footage that could have showed the documents being moved and transported, which we now know that they have the evidence of. They've now confirmed of, course as that they have this document of details war plans against one of our adversaries, nations something that could jeopardize the security of the United States in a way that we can't even truly fathom.
But, then this detail about Walt Nauta was supposed to be traveling with the former presidents. He then rushed back to Palm Beach after having some sort of -- directed by the former president to go and deal with this issue. I mean, this is laid out in a narrative where it's clear cut and you can see very specifically that the Justice Department reach out and they look, at every turn, they were looking to cover-up.
BURNETT: I'm going to lay at the timeline in a moment. Jamal, first to what Ryan was saying, if the outcome here, appears to be, appears to be, an inevitable delay pushing off, far from a speedy trial, anything but, right? Clearly, the special counsel reached the conclusion that it was worth it, whatever that may do through the political calendar, or the outcome. Is it?
JAMAL SIMMONS, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR VP KAMALA HARRIS: You know, the person to ask, the people to ask that question are going to be the Republicans who are bringing against Donald. Trump during this primary. They are the ones who want to have an answer to this question. All the people who are voting in this primary, won't have an answer this question, they have to choose who the next leader of the free world is.
I have to tell you, I got my first security clearance when I worked at the White House when I was 21 years old. And I just had another one when I was there with the vice president. You just take this so seriously, and it's in part on you, how important it is for you to guard these secrets.
And here you have the president of the United States who've shown stuff to people as if it's a deck of cards that he's had -- that he has at his club.
BURNETT: Go ahead.
GRIFFIN: It did stand out to me, by the way. The one person we know who was trained on how to handle classified documents was Donald. Trump. It's possible that Walt Nauta may have had a security clearance because of his proximity. But he put these other people around him sort of in jeopardy by exposing them to information they never should've had access to, they never should've seen, they never should have been handling. The buck stops with him, he should've done better.
BURNETT: All right. So, now, can we go through the timeline because it is damning, as Alyssa points out, that lay it out, this is when you get to 11 extra pages of indictment. This is why.
So, they say FBI agents come to the Mar-a-Lago club on June 3rd, 2022. They come to collect the documents, they are getting from the Trump lawyers. It's all agreed to, we're going to hand it all over. Okay. So, they come, and while they are there, they notice some security camera footage -- some security camera.
So, they then, on June 22nd, they email saying, look, we'll get a grand jury subpoena for the stuff if we need to, here's a draft, but we want the video. June 23rd, so the day after they have this draft grand jury that we're going to be getting the stuff. That's when Trump calls de Oliveira and it's a 24-minute phone call.
And then the next day, they email, this is going to be the subpoena. This is going to be it. And then on that same day, it all starts, Nauta delays his plans to travel. He stays and all of this is triggered as they then lay out the -- hey, buddy, I want to get rid of this footage, and the part about, as you say, the boss. The boss wants this stuff gone.
It's incredible -- incredibly damning, and it also shows that somebody is providing all this text information, and all of this to investigators.
GOODMAN: A hundred percent, and just as you laid it out, just imagine that is the opening argument in a trial, and then you got these other individuals who are named -- not named here but are identified as like -- you know, employee number one, or your cooperating witnesses, which it appears that they are.
BURNETT: It certainly this, right? It appears -- it appears that the director of I.T., who knew about the video, is number 4. It appears from the text messages here, that that individual cooperated.
GOODMAN: Yes, I can't think of another explanation for it.
GOODMAN: It's so damning, and it's -- and just imagining that, that is what a defense counsel would say to the dependant to say, you need to plea. In any normal circumstance, it's only because he's a former president, and might be a future president that we are in this abnormal circumstance, in which somebody doesn't plea.
I've seen all these other espionage cases, the person would plea. And then also to Alyssa's point, especially because there are involving other people in the crime. That is also unusual about the case. Other espionage cases are about people acting as a robe, individual secret information, this is a principal organizing an entire scheme with his underlings, that makes it even more, aggravating and will be very compelling to a jury.
BURNETT: So, Karen, they laid this out again, employee number four is the director of information technology for Mar-a-Lago, and it does appear this individual cooperated. So, they -- de Oliveira goes into the I.T. office, talks to employee number 4, takes him to a small room, pulls him away from everybody and tells this individual, I want this conversation to remain between the two of us, and asks how many days the server retains the video.
The person responds, about 45 days. And then de Oliveira insisted to Trump employee four that the boss wanted the server deleted, and asks what we are going to do. It's -- it's all here. AGNIFILO: It's all there. I mean, it reads like a spy novel. Like,
you know, that's what you would do. You would try to get the I.T. guy to wipe out the video footage. I mean, it's astonishing that this is what Trump wanted to do. He wanted to destroy evidence of a crime. I mean, that's really what this is.
BURNETT: And I should note, though, Ryan, what I jut said is obviously what somebody said somebody said.
BURNETT: This is a little different than a text message. But when you add it together with what I just laid out, the dates, the timestamps, the text messages, is this black and white?
GOODMAN: Oh, yes. And also, as Karen pointed out, like if you just look at that question, and answer, de Oliveira obviously lied to the FBI. So, just add that into it. He's lying to them, because --
BURNETT: Right, when he says, no, I knew nothing, I knew nothing about boxes, I knew nothing.
GOODMAN: And I just want to add one more point, which is that it's not just about the charge of the obstruction of the extra -- that adds to everything, else because to try to destroy the evidence is incriminating. What are you trying to hide?
GOODMAN: You are trying to hide the underlying crime, which is the Espionage Act.
BURNETT: All right. And can I just emphasize again, Alyssa, from your knowledge. Trump talking for 24 minutes to his head of maintenance.
GRIFFIN: Would be very unusual, and abnormal. And what stands out to me, I almost had a moment when I read this feeling sorry for this head of maintenance who's now wrapped up and what is going to be, you know, a massive investigation by the Department of Justice.
But, of course, he should've known better, and he should have cooperated with law enforcements. But I can't help but think about the pressure that he must have felt. I also think Walt Nauta probably did from the former president of the United States who's probably telling him, I'm going to president again. I'm going to wipe these charges.
You stick by me into the right thing. I hate to say it -- but he this is how he has operated throughout his career, throughout his presidency. And these men are going to feel the consequences of sticking up by side.
SIMMONS: Yeah, you just feel the noose sort of tightening around Donald Trump's neck, as this is all taking place and the thing that strikes me is, the last time he was president, there were people around who are trying to stop him from his worst instincts. And now he we see what the world looks like and those people go away, and he's surrounded by people who are saying telling yes, and try to carry out his orders. What happens of this man gets back in the White House, and throughout the entire government with people who only do the things this megalomaniac want them to do?
BURNETT: And, of course, we'll see what the reaction is, you know, among voters and the public when you say, okay, this is superseding and this is important stuff. But how do people perceive it?
I want to go to Ty Cobb, the Trump White House lawyer.
So, Ty, I know you've read through the new indictments, and you've been able to sort of compare every count, see the new document added, which appears to be those Iran attack plans shown to a biographic. Trump said that, by the way, he showed nothing, it was just articles. They now have the proof that it was not. It was actually the documents he was waving around.
As you go through everything in this now 60-page superseding indictments, what stands out to you, Ty?
Well, I think this original indictment was engineered to last a thousand years, and now, it will last, the superseding indictment to last antiquity. I mean, it's -- this is such a tight case. The evidence is so overwhelming.
It's very difficult to imagine how Trump could say that his lawyers met with Jack Smith's today to explain to him that he hadn't done anything wrong on the same day that Jack Smith produced this -- you know, this evidence of overwhelming evidence of additional wrongdoing on his part.
So, this is -- this is par of the course. I think one thing that has been ignored in the discussion so far, though, is that this is Trump dealing directly with Nauta and de Oliveira, you know, at a time where Evan Corcoran, you know, has been told by him that there are no -- there are no additional documents, they don't have anything. And his lawyers certainly, you know, were advising him at some point not to destroy move or obstruct this grand jury subpoena in any way, or the government's request in anyway.
So, this is Trump not going just behind the -- you know, the back of the prosecutors, this is Trump going in the back of his own lawyers --
COBB: -- and dealing with two people who, you know, were extremely loyal to him.
BURNETT: Right. And, well, and to Alyssa's point, while you are having a 24 minute competition with your head of maintenance about the video, because you didn't want your lawyers to know, you don't want anyone else to know, so you're actually doing it yourself.
COBB: I can assure you at Trump's time in the White House, he never had a 24-minute conversation with Walt Nauta.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, 24-minute conversations as a general frame would've been -- in any case.
This is a long conversation. It does stand out in this.
So, Ty, what about the document? It says they added an additional document, top secret, it is marked here going through it, top secret described as plans, I'm just looking at it here but, specifically plans about invading a foreign country's military. Presentation concerning military in a foreign country, we understand that that now appears to be the Iran attack plan that he was waiting around to biographers.
Now, he said to Bret Baier after the original indictment, very clearly, oh, that it was just newspaper articles, who knows what it was I was waving around. They are not making the point of, yeah, it was what you are waving around, and we have the documents.
What does this do to the indictment?
COBB: So, it doesn't add all that much to the indictment, but it takes away a lot of, you know, the platform that Trump has been trying to build for himself. So they have these ridiculous stories, they're talking about, you know, Milley's plan to invade Iran, and they, you know, count even produce a. I think he felt he was under the protection of the --
BURNETT: All right. It looks like Ty just -- Ty just froze.
Ryan, on that point though, the significance I don't to put words in Ty's mouth, but it is Trump's whole thing has just been horsing around, I was joking, I was -- it does take the wind out of those sales.
GOODMAN: That, and more. I've actually always taught about the Bedminster episode as also driving a hole through one of the other defenses, which is, oh, the National Archives sent this material to me in Mar-a-Lago. It wasn't me. I didn't do anything.
Okay. Then, why did you transported to Bedminster?
BURNETT: Why was it in Bedminster? Right.
GOODMAN: Yeah, there is no justification for that. And to share with people who had no security clearance. I think that's one.
And just also to build on something else that Ty said, which he mentions look, at all these allegations and now we can see with the timeline, Trump is keeping us all away from his lawyers. That actually also destroys a defense of advise of counsel. You cannot rely on the defense of I was being told something by my counsel, that it was legal to keep these documents if you had kept information from your counsel. You have to fully inform them what you are doing to be able to claim that defense that was maybe his best hopes that kind of evaporates when we see this new evidence.
BURNETT: So, Karen, can I ask you one other thing, did they know about this -- this with the video back in -- on June 8th when they did this? And didn't kind of have it all buttoned up or they were -- maybe, they didn't have the IT cooperation or -- I mean, it's very buttoned up now. Did they or did they not have it at all? Do you -- can you tell?
AGNIFILO: I don't know that you can so, I mean, I wonder whether they were working to get de Oliveira to cooperate the way I think they were trying to get Nauta to cooperate. I mean, in the end, you don't want -- there is such a disparity between Trump and the head of maintenance or his valet, right? There's -- you've got the top guy and the lower level people who are clearly, as Alyssa was saying, you know, pressured by him, or scared of him, whatever it is.
As a prosecutor you do not want to have those people on the indictment with the big guy, right? You don't want juries to feel sorry for them, so you probably would have tried to get them to cooperate, which is why they spoke with them so many times and asked them so many questions.
But at a certain point when you lie to your teeth so blatantly the way they both have to investigators and it turns out they were just as much part of this cover up, they can't turn away, and they have to bring these charges.
BURNETT: It is amazing to me that are, you know, are just willing to die on the source for him, when you think about it.
Ty is back with us.
And, Ty, there was one more point I believe you are trying to make about the Iran document.
COBB: Yeah, I was just trying to make the simple point that I think Trump thought he was safe because the intelligence community may have objected to originally including that document. I think Smith probably had to go back to the intelligence community, you know, once Trump started, you know, make that part of his fake defense, to get permission to declassify and uses at trial, or at least use it in CIPA (INAUDIBLE) away. But, he kneecapped him by putting that back end.
And, you know, and I also think one of the things that you see in the new indictment is additional references to the PAC representative who is previously mentioned. I believe that there's a lot of reporting indicating that Susie Wiles from --
COBB: -- Florida, and I think that as we know, she was in contact recently with the officer of the special counsel, and that may explain why.
BURNETT: One quick thing, Ty, when you look at the document itself, the Iran document, the fact that it was included I wasn't before -- COBB: Right.
BURNETT: -- does that mean that means that Jack Smith is acknowledging that he is going to go through the whole process of a possibly becoming public, right? I mean, you know, part of this events, some of these -- these are classified, it's hard to get clearances.
COBB: Well, so that --
BURNETT: Sorry, go ahead.
COBB: So, under CIPA, it won't be completely public. They will have to work out some, you know, some summary, and that's why they have the proceedings for the government to come up with a way that judges satisfied that essence is adequately presented without actually declassifying the documents. So, that will -- that will take place.
I do disagree with people who think that this pushes a trial back significantly because this is really straightforward stuff. I mean, it's simple proof as to the obstruction, the signal messages alone, open and shut that door. So, I don't think that, I don't think -- I think the government will push back to any significant delay. It could delay a week perhaps, but this is information to get on in the defendant's lap pretty quickly.
BURNETT: Well, it's an interesting point.
All right. Stay with me, Ty. Everyone is stay with me.
I do want to update everyone of another major development in the other special counsel investigation, Jack Smith's other -- on election interference where indictment could be imminent. Lawyers for the former president meeting with special counsel Jack Smith with the hope of avoiding or at best delaying third criminal indictment.
Now, this effort today, we understand ended without Trump's lawyer giving any guidance about indictment, or the timing of a possible indictment.
Paula Reid is OUTFRONT on this.
And, Paula, this happened, you know, today, obviously an important meeting. What happened there as you understand it?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It was a big day, Erin, in the January 6 investigation. As you noted, the grand jury that's hearing evidence in this case, was in today. Several of the key prosecutors were working on this case were also spotted at the court, but no indictment was returned.
But, really, the biggest event today in this investigation is the meeting between Trump's legal team and the prosecutors, and this meeting comes after former President Trump has received a target letter informing him that he's a target of the investigation, and he's also received an invitation to go for this grand jury. Now, he declined that invitation but his lawyers are meeting with special counsel prosecutors today. This is just another sign that indictment is likely eminent.
Now, we are told that his lawyers did not expect that they would be able to dissuade prosecutors from bringing charges. And said we are told that they were hoping to have these possibly just delay this a little bit. Now, it's unclear if tomorrow, if the grand jury will be back in, Erin.
But we'll continue to look next week. This grand jury usually meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but that schedule can be amended to suit the needs of prosecutors, or the court. But, Erin, one other thing is some people have questioned why they would bring a January 6th case against former president before they've completed all the interviews or completed all their evidence-gathering. We know there additional interviews scheduled through the summer.
REID: What we saw today in Mar-a-Lago, this is the perfect example. You can bring charges, and then file additional charges later.
BURNETT: Right, right, and it's important to make that point because, right, you can -- past can be precedent.
All right. I want to bring in former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe now.
And, Director McCabe, obviously, you're very familiar with the types of meetings like the one Paul is describing that happened today between the DOJ and special counsel and Trump's legal team. Can you take us inside what it would be like?
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Sure, Erin, I am very familiar with these meetings both as an investigator and leader in the FBI, and also as my own unfortunate experience of being investigator first several years baselessly and I should add fruitlessly. I had the experience of sending my own attorneys into a meeting like this.
So, the way these meetings work is they go with the request of the -- of the defense attorneys. They are allowed to -- they typically meet with some high-level Justice Department person. This case is a little bit different because it is in the hands of a special counsel. We know that Jack Smith was there today.
The defense attorneys are basically given the floor to present whatever they want to present. It's usually they will make legal arguments about, you know, challenging the strength of the case, or they might just make kind of interest of justice sort of arguments to try to convince the prosecutors not to go forward.
Typically, DOJ says absolutely nothing. They sit there. They listen to what the defense attorney say and, the conclusion of the meeting, they say, okay, thank you very much. We'll take what you said under advisement and we will let you know what our position will be and then it's over.
BURNETT: Which is more of a presentation than it is conversation or meeting that way some of us may have imagined it. So, how much time, Director, do you think Trump's team was able to buy themselves today? If any? And, obviously, you should note, you know, we are getting to 12-plus days passed the target letter soon.
MCCABE: Yeah. So, it's really interesting, Erin. I think the prosecutors actually factor this into their decision to serve the target last week. We know that they served it early on Sunday evening apparently and they gave the former president until Thursday to appear in the grand jury.
He very skillfully didn't answer that invitation and was able to and use each of those days as essentially additional delay. He said off the bat, I'm not going to come in, then they would've sped things up. I think probably prosecutors anticipated that after that period they would receive a request like today.
So, it is my guest, my speculation that they factored all of this into their timing as to when the actual indictment, anticipating each one of these moves that the defense would probably make.
So, where does that leave us now? I think the indictment could happen as likely Tuesday when the grand jury intervenes, but we'll have to see it can come at any point after that as well.
BURNETT: All right. Director, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
So, Karen, what do you make of the timing as Director McCabe is laying it out, more of a presentation, right? You go in and say this, this, and this. But they not only had they laid out all that factored in, they also knew about this superseding indictment. I mean, it wasn't like that got written yesterday or even a few days ago. They had that.
So, they did know all of these things.
AGNIFILO: Yeah, absolutely. I think that you can also call the grand jury in tomorrow or Monday. They typically meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but they can be called in a different day. I'm sure will be reporter sticking out the courthouse or will know if they are called back and if there's potentially an indictment.
But I do agree that this was all factored in and they couldn't vote today because that it would be like they're actually listening to the lawyers, right? They have to at least consider, to have an open mind consider what they have to say. I'm sure they're considering it and if they still decide to bring an indictment which, I think they will, then that should happen any day.
My -- the reporting is that the lawyers didn't try to argue the substance it was more talking about what this will do to the country. And that's not really appropriate for Jack Smith to consider. He is supposed to just follow the facts wherever they lead and look at the evidence if a charge was warranted he can bring it. That's more something that potentially Merrick Garland would -- you know, because that's a political question.
BURNETT: Right, that he would then -- Jack Smith will go with the recommendation of Merrick Garland and makes that decision.
AGNIFILO: Yes, then he can go and say this is with the lawyer said, and Merrick Garland can make that decision.
BURNETT: All right. So, Elizabeth, in this moment, you got Trump watching all of this. Superseding indictment comes down, waiting for -- lawyers going in. What is this like?
GRIFFIN: This is got to be extremely scary for him, I don't say this lightly, I think Donald Trump tries to project an image of strength when the walls are closing in around him. He is always been legally afraid of this documents case. I think even the original indictment so many around him told him that this was rocks solid. This is a very strong legal case.
But he is also very nervous about the January 6 investigation and potential indictment there, because what it does is remind everyone of the worst day of his presidency, the imagery that we all saw that day, the many people who have not gone back to supporting him when he denounced him that day. So, this is a very dark, bad moment to be Donald Trump.
But I would be remiss if I didn't mention, there are Republicans who are already coming to his defense, just trying to keep track in real time as we're looking at this. Elise Stefanik came out, you know, saying this is a witch hunt. Senator Hawley is defending him. Marsha Blackburn --
BURNETT: You're talking about these superseding indictments.
GRIFFIN: In the last, you know, half hour since has been out. So, I think there is an expectation that he has some cover from most supporters, but this is a dark moment to be Donald Trump.
BURNETT: And, of course, Jamal, it does raise a point of -- it doesn't, as Ty said, right, it went from being an indictment for 1000 years to an indictment for antiquity. But, the reality of it is for many, it does not matter when it comes to the politics of this, right? It only shores of the supports when you have this immediate rush of people to defend him. Have they even read it?
SIMMONS: Right. In the base, that's certainly true, right? People who are watching this are Donald Trump supporters. They're not going to be shaken from this. I think for everyone else who is watching this -- first of all, some of these things begin to blend together. There are so many charges, there are so many cases.
BURNETT: That is fair.
SIMMONS: So there will be in a city for Trump's political opponents, the Democrats next year, to find a way to tell the story in a way that people can follow it and follow along.
Chaos is a word that kept coming up on some of thee calls I've made today. This looks like chaos for a lot of people who are watching this.
And I think, you have to think about this last thing, elections are almost always about the voter's future. This election is going to be about Donald Trump. I think the voters have decided three times now that the election is about Donald Trump, they'd rather go a different direction.
BURNETT: To this point, can I just ask -- and I understand your strategy about this, just getting your ducks in all of it. But even though you go from an indictment where thousand years to indictment for antiquity. If the perception among some is, well, why didn't you have it earlier? Did you not have your ducks in a row? You didn't have your T's crossed and your I's dotted, or chaos. Is that a risk?
GOODMAN: I think so. I think that they took multiple risks with the superseding indictment, because it does look like, oh what's happening here, are you super organizing, you know everything, you have great visibilities, so when you go you go. And when you tell the judge you want to speedy trial, you want a speedy trial no delays, everything is ready to go. We are giving him more discovery than anyone ever received right up front. That doesn't look like that well oiled machine in this instance, but I think it was worth the trade-off of why they had to bring these counter targets.
BURNETT: And do you think this is it? I mean, I'm just noting it's clear that employ number four cooperative but there's an employee number five of L.A. There's an employee number three. There's a -- is this it?
AGNIFILO: I mean, look, I think if the judge had set the December trial date that the government asked for, maybe we would not have seen this. But now that they have more time and it has been pushed out, it does give them more time to do this. So, if the trial -- the longer it goes, they can supersede as much as they can. They can add as much as they want.
So, it just depends. But I bet if they had done a shorter date, I'm not sure we would've necessarily -- necessarily seen additions.
BURNETT: You know, it's interesting, Alyssa, I'm sure there are people watching in Trump world who are watching with Ty just said, the possibilities and who doesn't think that this necessarily means it is a start, right? Maybe a week later, because it doesn't change some of the terms about classified documents. So, they're going to be that concerned. And maybe their initial hope
is, okay, great, this puts it out a few months, this gets for sure to the election, we don't have anything to worry about, it may not be the case.
GRIFFIN: Yeah, I'm sure they're watching, hoping that Ty Cobb is wrong, and that doesn't at least, if nothing else, buy them time. The only legal strategy that I can see on Trump's side is to drag this on until the election and win the election so that he oversees the Department of Justice and can, you know, shut down this investigation. I don't see a coherent, you know, defense that he has beyond that, so buying time is the key.
SIMMONS: Well, as you remember, though, there are a couple of states that are looking at Donald Trump, he's already got one indictment in Manhattan and maybe another one coming in Georgia. If he wins the presidency, he cannot absolve himself from those two --
BURNETT: State charges.
SIMMONS: State charges.
All right. So, what's your overall perception right now on what this does to the timing? I know you thought it might put out a little further but --
GOODMAN: I think it might because you do have a new defendant, three players on the defense side, so the coordination of that can take time.
GOODMAN: We know from Nauta that he didn't have representation that delay the clock by a month. It depends as to whether or not with the new defendant, he has to get representation with security clearances, because the charges against him, if you really start to look through them, don't depend on the information being classified.
GOODMAN: So, maybe that's the reason as to why time might be right --
BURNETT: Right, it's more purely on the obstruction.
BURNETT: That's right.
GOODMAN: Were there boxes that you moved?
BURNETT: Yes, right.
GOODMAN: Right. And was there a video surveillance in which you try to destroy it? BURNETT: Right.
GOODMAN: That would be maybe enough. So, there's reasons behind Ty's point, but so the idea of getting this all set up and this person needs to be arraigned at all the rest of it.
BURNETT: It takes time.
GOODMAN: Yeah, every day in the clock, every week on the clock gets it to be potentially push all the way over past the election.
GRIFFIN: You know this from DOD days, even -- if those were security clearances, if there were of the documents, they cannot even acknowledge that it exists, that would be protocol. You cannot talk about what country might be mentioned it, that exists, what it may contain. So, trying to work this out in a courtroom where people don't have security clearances could get extremely complicated, when you're especially dealing with the classified documents.
BURNETT: Right, right, all right, let's bring Ty tie back in, of course, former Trump house lawyer.
So, Ty, you said earlier, two days ago, that if you were Trump's new lawyer, John Lauro who's been brought into the January 6 investigation, that this would be your first move to meet with Jack Smith. So, he's gone and done that now. Does this is impact your view of a potential indictment in the January 6th case? I guess now I have to layer and that they have now put the superseding indictment out today. Does that affect it?
COBB: I don't believe so. I think there are several things that are driving this. I think the fact that that I surprise it wasn't present today because we are all surprised by the superseding indictment.
But, that's a well-justified reason not to -- not to do both on the same day.
And I think it's ordinary courtesy and typical DOJ protocol. Keep in mind that when the target letter went out, Lauro wasn't even on the scene.
COBB: So, you know, he's been there really lesson a week. He couldn't have spoken knowledgably about, you know, all of the detailed tracks. And so, the fact that it was a plea about please protect the country, which seems a little unseemly given the fact that the cases about the worst constitutional insult in the history of our country committed by a sitting president, it's a little late for Trump to start thinking about the country in my view.
But I think -- I think the indictment will come down on Tuesday, if not before.
BURNETT: So, on that front, though, and you say it's a little late for Trump to start thinking about the country, and maybe it's attorneys are pausing in, but they're thinking about the country. I mean, we're learning that they went into this meeting today with a broader appeal. That they -- as Karen said, they didn't dispute the substance we understand of what potential charges might be or who did what.
But the argument was that an indictment would cause political turmoil on the United States, but it would be the wrong thing to do for the country. As Ryan was saying, that is an argument Jack Smith may not listen to, it is on his remit, but Merrick Garland might when he makes a final decision.
Do you think that argument got them anywhere?
COBB: No, I don't think so. In light of Trump's railing last week about how he would bring hell held down on the country if they tried to sentence him -- you know, I don't think that in combination those arguments -- I don't think they can be melded, and I don't think that they deserve any consideration. I think -- I think those decisions have already been made.
BURNETT: All right. Ty, thanks, and all staying with me.
I want to go now to Kristen Holmes. She joins us from outside Trump's Bedminster, New Jersey home.
Kristen, what can you tell us about the reaction thus far to this surprising, superseding indictment on the Mar-a-Lago case by Trump's team and Trump?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, we have just heard from the former president. He did an interview saying that these charges were election interference in the highest form. He also said, they're harassing my company, they're harassing my family, and by far, the least importantly of all, they are harassing me.
Interestingly, he added hopefully the Republican Party will do something about it. Obviously, a jab there to try and get the Republican Party to comment on this, and something that they believe will help him politically are these charges. So, it'll be interesting to see tomorrow when they're at this event in Iowa, all these candidates, how much time they actually spent talking about their policies and running for president, and how much time they're going to end up being focused on the Department of Justice and Trump's legal issues.
But I will tell you, this was a surprise. They were not stumping anything like this today. After that meeting, it was radio silent. I had several advisers saying that it feels uncomfortably silence. We feel like something is coming.
They weren't sure if this was going to be this indictment in the January 6th case as we have reported. In that meeting, the lawyers were not given guidance or notification of an indictment. They do believe that Trump will be indicted in the January 6 investigation.
However, that is what they were looking at, that is what they were waiting for. Then this news broke. So, there's a lot of trying to figure out exactly what this means, exactly what this looks like, and then of course, now, hearing from Trump himself once again saying this is election interference.
It's important to remember that this is an unprecedented in time and, such an unprecedented situation. You have somebody who is running for president, his third bid for the White House, who is facing all of these legal troubles. It is allowing him, the fact that he has this campaign, to say that this is election interference.
The question is, of course, whether or not voters are going to believe that? We've talked to some of these voters on the ground, they do believe that it's election interference. They do believe that the Justice Department is out to get Donald Trump.
HOLMES: And just something to continue to keep in mind as we are watching this unfold. Even with these legal problems, there are a lot of voters out there who still support the former president.
BURNETT: Certainly, obviously right now by far the front runner for the GOP nomination. We will see if those poll numbers changes the result of. This they've had -- they have gone up.
So, Kristen, thank you very much. Let's bring in Scott Jennings now, the formal special assistant to President George W. Bush.
And, Scott, the context here in which Kirsten just said, she said that Trump gave an interview and said Republicans are going to do anything about this. You guys are supposed to come nights and shining armor to his defense.
What's your response to that?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there will be a lot of Republicans will come to his rhetorical defense and help him with a public relations matter. But, there is no one that can help him from this evidence and these indictments. I heard Ty Cobb say it was a really strong indictment. I read through it, I mean, you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes. What it looks like to me.
I think there's going to be a lot of Republicans and especially House Republicans in purple districts who are going to look at this and say, do I really want to go through the next cycle dealing with this as every single day when the voters of my district don't like it, A, and, B, want me to be dealing with other topics.
To Kristen's point, though, and I do -- she is exactly right, they are going to be voters who don't believe any of this, who don't think he ever had classified documents, and they're going to -- they are going to look at the news this week and so, wait a minute, the Department of Justice was trying to give Hunter Biden a blanket immunity deal yesterday is today piling on to Donald Trump. That's how they are going to react to it.
And that is not an insubstantial number of Republicans. As you noted, you know, half -- more than half of the party is with Trump on this and, we saw what happened in the previous reiterations of these legal issues.
BURNETT: Alyssa was tracking, Alyssa Farah Griffin, you know, who's here. And she was -- she was tracking the number of Republicans, even just the past hour who have come to Trump's defense. Elise Stefanik, right, some of the big names have jumped to his defense.
Our Manu Raju on Capitol Hill has asked a bunch of Republican senators tonight about the charges, and a lot of them took the dodge of, they need to review the superseding indictment first. Fair enough. They hadn't a chance to read.
One senator sidestepped the question, tried to turn to other issues. You are very plugged into Republicans in the Senate, Scott, obviously you spent years working with Senator McConnell. What do they really think of this?
JENNINGS: Well, I think most of them find this all to be patently ridiculous, that he took the documents, that he is obviously was trying to cover-up having had the documents, I mean read through this stuff it's like they were criminal masterminds here. I mean, this is like eight, you know, eighth grade buffoonery. I mean, go destroy the server. I mean, this is exact same stuff he was attacking Hillary Clinton for back in 2016.
BURNETT: Yes, indeed.
JENNINGS: Now, the political operative in me on the Senate side would look at the map and say, what are our best chances to win races? West Virginia, Trump's fine, Ohio, Trump, probably fine. Montana, Trump fine.
So, you know, the cold blooded political operative would say in the three places we got a way to take the Senate, he is not going to be as big of a drag politically as you might have expected him to be and more purple areas. But the way the Senate map stacks up next year, we don't have any purple areas, other than Pennsylvania, but I put that outside the top three.
So, I think most of the Senate Republicans honestly and I think what most honest Republicans in their hearts know this is terrible, and what is about to happen is terrible. January 6th, Georgia, it's all terrible. No Republican wants to answer for it because they did not do it. He did it but he's going to make them answer for it, and nobody wants to own someone else's garbage, you know?
BURNETT: Well, no, but if they're going to be carrying it around for them, now, they're going to start to stink.
All right. Well, Scott, thank you very much.
So, Alyssa, can I just ask on this point that Scott is making. You know, one thing -- he said stupid is -- win stupid prizes, right? It is interesting and all these times the Trump says people say or he insinuated but didn't direct, he did it all here, the fingerprints are covered in Cheetos everywhere.
GRIFFIN: No, this is remarkable. I mean, very much -- I think Ryan said this. It speaks to the fact that he was circumventing his lawyers. He knew what he was doing. Any lawyer would have stopped him, and Ty Cobb said, well, I served in the White House with Walt Nauta. I'll be shocked they had more than a two minute conversation.
So, for him to refund head of maintenance, an IT worker, Walt Nauta, having lengthy calls where he's directing them to do things, the reeks of him knowing what he's doing is wrong, trying to bring other people into his wrongdoing and it is a shame because it is going to affect these two men for the rest of their lives or they don't fess up.
BURNETT: And yet you hear about Scott laying out that for some this is going to come out to math. What are the three states we need to win? Going out against Trump in those states is not a good thing. Put your hands in the air.
SIMMONS: So, I'm listening to Scott say that, I'm thinking about Steve Daines, a senator who is the chair of the Republican Senatorial Committee.
SIMMONS: And I've got to believe that they also know this. Donald Trump is not improving his reputation with a single swing voter by being indicted over and over again. So, at some point, you are not going to have to win the faithful, you're going to have to win swing voters.
And I remember last year in 2022, when I was at the White House, and everyone said, we shouldn't be talking about democracy and we shouldn't be talking about abortion, it's an election about the economy, and we talked about democracy, and we talked about the right to abortion, and particularly swing voting women came over to the Democratic side.
I think there is a silent army out there that doesn't want to have anything else to do with Donald Trump.
BURNETT: All right. Well, all, thank you very much as our breaking news coverage of Trump's additional charges continues in just a moment.
And also this, new video that we are getting into the show tonight of major new fighting in Ukraine, as the head of the Wagner group whose lead a short-lived revolt is now back in public in Russia, in the same place as Putin. What's going on? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: All right. We're going to closely continue to follow the breaking news tonight of Donald Trump now facing three additional federal charges in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, including attempts to destroy video surveillance tapes.
But right now, new video into OUTFRONT of intense fighting in Ukraine that we wanted to be sure we shared with you, forces are pushing south. In the video posted here that we have Ukrainians claim they are pushing back the Russians, forcing retreat and they say they captured two of them.
Now, we cannot confirm exactly where the video was filmed. Ukrainians say it shows Russian soldiers surrendering. And, of course, the heaviest fighting right now is near Zaporizhzhia.
This comes as Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner chief who engineered the attempted coup against Putin, has been spotted not in Belarus, in St. Petersburg, in Russia, in the same city where Putin is right now. In fact, it is the first time that he has been seen in Russia since the insurrection.
Nic Robertson is OUTFRONT.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): In public, in Russia, Wagner affiliated account saying mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin openly greeting a delegate to President Putin's Africa conference.
The last time Prigozhin was seen in Russia was his mutiny to overthrow Putin's defense chiefs. He sent tanks and troops towards Moscow, a direct challenge to Putin's authority.
Putin accused his long-time henchman of betrayal, vowing inevitable punishment. Prigozhin backed down, reportedly cut a deal, was last seen in Russia a month ago, seemingly headed for exile in Belarus.
Yet here he is in public in Russia, apparently on the periphery of Putin's biggest international conference since he invaded Ukraine, hosting dozens of African nations. Until his failed mutiny and apparent banishment to Belarus, Prigozhin wasn't just vital in the war in Ukraine, he was Putin's biggest off-books overseas enforcer, cutting deals with Kremlin-friendly African leaders.
This week in a voice note sent to an African broadcaster, Afrique Media, Prigozhin reportedly said Wagner is still in business in Africa. His only caveat, Wagner mustn't damage Russia's interests.
Whatever punishments have been forced on Prigozhin are far from clear. The British MOD say they're short of cash, selling Russian and international assets to pay his fighters. The CIA Director Bill Burns says that Prigozhin shows no intent on retiring and far from a hard exile in Belarus, is able to move freely in and out of Russia.
Prigozhin's first post-mutiny appearance on camera seems to have come in Belarus last week. Now, he seems to be back in Russia on Putin's doorstep. Hard to believe it could have happened without his old friend, the Russian president's say so.
ROBERTSON: And I think the real question now for Prigozhin is how long is this currency of involvement for Putin in Africa with these different leaders, with these different shady types of business deals that apparently have been going on, how long is that currency good to keep him out of the type of vengeance that we've seen Putin wreak on other opponents who have been so brazen as to try to challenge him.
So far, Prigozhin seems to have had barely a flesh wound, if you will. Perhaps worse is yet to come -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Nic, thank you very much.
And I want to good now to retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, the former commanding general for Europe and the Seventh Army.
So, General Hertling, Putin calls Prigozhin a traitor to his country, for the whole world to hear. And now here is Prigozhin back in Russia in St. Petersburg, same place, same time, same event as Putin, in fact.
What in the world is going on here?
LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yeah, it seems a little bit bizarre, doesn't it, Erin? The African nexus is a great power competition between the U.S., China and Russia. What Russia does there, what Prigozhin does there is he tries to erode Western influence while also extracting as much natural resources for Putin as he can.
He is the lead in all this. So, you know, even though he almost committed a coup against Mr. Putin, and we can't look at their government and their military the same we do at ours, he is still in control of Russia -- or excuse me, in control of the troops in Africa, and some troops in the Middle East as well. So he's not going to go away.
But there are indicators that many African countries saw what happened in Russia with Prigozhin and are now doubting his capabilities even in Africa. That's why this Russia-Africa conference is so important.
BURNETT: Right, and, of course, going on in Niger and all these things as Russia is trying to extend its influence. And Niger, a crucial producer of uranium.
I'm curious, though, this whole African summit, general, how you see it, because, obviously, the U.S. government sees it as 17 heads of state from African countries came to St. Petersburg. That's half that attended the last summit. So it's a sign of Putin's isolation.
OK, it's still 17 countries, and a lot of those other countries still sent senior people, though not the heads of state. But even when I look at those 17, three of them, three of the 17 that sent heads of state to Moscow right now are in the top ten recipients of U.S. foreign assistance right now, three of them.
BURNETT: Egypt, yeah.
HERTLING: It is a little bit -- it's bizarre, isn't it? That foreign assistance that we provide most of those countries, though, Erin is mostly through USAID. So it's developmental assistance.
China on the other hand, different from Russia, is the continent's bilateral trade partner. Russia provides protective alliances with corrupt and mostly authoritarian governments. So, some of the countries you've seen like Egypt, you know, they run the boundary line between all three of those countries.
BURNETT: Absolutely. Well, General, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.
And thanks so much to all of you for yours.
"AC360" starts now.