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Erin Burnett Outfront

Tabloid Executive To Reveal New Details On Secret Trump Deal; Meadows, Giuliani, Epshteyn Indicted In Arizona Fake Electors Case; Interview With House Speaker Mike Johnson. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 24, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Pecker in the hot seat and a man who covered him for years is my guest. Why he says Pecker will not hold back tomorrow. This as Trump dares the judge to put him in jail.

Plus, pro-Palestinian protests grow across the United States. I was on the campus of Columbia University today. I spoke with the embattled speaker of the House who was there. His message to the president of Columbia University as his job is on the line.

And move over Moscow Marjorie, because Russia has a new favorite Republican and we will unveil it for you tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, not holding back. The man who covered David Pecker's every move as boss of the "National Enquirer" tells OUTFRONT the Pecker is going to tell all tomorrow when he's back on the stand.

Keith Kelly, who covered Pecker for decades for "The New York Post", says Pecker will not be holding back. He's my guest tonight and has a whole lot more to say about Pecker's testimony.

And that testimony is going to include all the details about the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. Pecker will be asked about it in detail when he's back in court tomorrow morning. And remember, Pecker was the one who helped broker the deal between Michael Cohen, Trump's fixer, and former attorney, and Stormy Daniels. And this whole deal was about keeping Daniels quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.

Here is the secret audio tape between Michael Cohen and Trump himself.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David, you know, so that -- I'm going to do that right away. I've actually come up and I've spoken --


COHEN: And I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with --

TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?

COHEN: -- funding. Yes. And it's all the stuff.


BURNETT: I mean, Trump on tape. So what do we got to pay for this, 150?

And "our friend David" that they're referring to is David Pecker.

And tomorrow, that "friend" because now I put that in quotes, apparently they're not speaking, will be just feet away from Trump's speaking about Daniels and all of these details.

Meanwhile, Daniels close friend told us exclusively that Daniels is scared. She said that the threats have been increasing and getting scarier just since the trial began, she told me so just in these past few days. But she told me that Stormy Daniels is ready to testify if called.

Brynn Gingras begins our coverage OUTFRONT live here in New York.

And, Brynn, what more are you learning about what we can expect here in just hours when court is back in session?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, listen, you hit it right on the head there. We're talking about David Pecker, a man has been friends with Donald Trump's since the '80s, sitting right across from him in a witness stand, just feet away from the former president as he stares him down, giving these dirty details about this catch and kill scheme in full detail.

That is what we are expecting more for up tomorrow. And that all started of course, as we've learned from the testimony in August 2015, when they made that deal between Trump, Michael Cohen and David Pecker about being the eyes and the ears of a campaign and how they were going to find the stories that were negative about Trump or salacious about Trump bury them and promote stories that were positive ahead of that, campaign.

They went into detail about that Trump Tower doorman who had a story about a woman who claimed that she fathered a child -- or he fathered a child of hers.

And then before court wrapped up and David Pecker was done for the day, they got into the details about another Playboy playmate, Karen McDougal, who, of course, alleged of an affair with Donald Trump, going to the "National Enquirer" with her story in June of 2016, and really worrying Trump according to Pecker's testimony, so much so that Michael Cohen was badgering him for more information about exactly what Karen McDougal had on Donald Trump's.

So that's where it left off, a very tense moment in the testimony by the prosecution. That is where we are going to pick up and then likely -- very likely get into those details that you just talked about, with what happened with the Stormy Daniels incident.

Now, it's very important to put this all into context, right? David Pecker is a huge witness for this prosecution because again, Trump is -- has 34 charges of falsifying business records, right? That's a misdemeanor.


They need to connect the dots for jurors as to why this is a felony to cover up another crime. David Pecker is one of those witnesses. He's also going to help corroborate another major witness, of course, Michael Cohen.

So there's a lot to get to when court resumes tomorrow. In addition to that, we're still, of course, waiting to hear how the judge is going to rule on that gag order. We still don't know with that -- if that ruling is going to come tomorrow or when, but certainly a lot of details there, that we're waiting for, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Brynn, absolutely. And, of course, that ruling could come at any time and our experts are all here with me.

Keith Kelly, so no reporter covered David Pecker longer than you have covered him? Former "New York Post" media columnist. So, you know this and you know him. He is set to take the stand again tomorrow and he's been granted immunity in exchange for this testimony, right? It wasn't that he wanted to be here necessarily, but he's gotten immunity.

And you think that he won't hold back?

KEITH KELLY, FORMER NY POST MEDIA COLUMNIST: I don't think he will hold. He will not hold back at all. He has nothing to lose now. His immunity deal is basically he has to testify and tell the truth. If he doesn't tell the truth, the deal's off.

So he's under the gun and he's probably smiling inwardly that he is not in the same seat that Trump is in or that Michael Cohen is in. His testimony, he turned rat on then Michael Cohen and that's why Michael Cohen went to jail. So it could have been just as easily them sweating Pecker and he could have gone to jail. So --

BURNETT: So, everything -- everything will come out?

KELLY: I think everything. He has nothing to hold back. He's probably relieved that he can actually honestly tell the truth.

BURNETT: So, Jeremy, you know, you've inside the courtroom, right? So you've seen Trump as Pecker started the start testimony, we've seen a bit up. You've seen Trump watching Pecker, Pecker watching Trump, each of them watching the other one, watch.

I mean, you're really getting the dynamics and the body language here. So what is your sense about how they feel about each other? Guys have known each other for decades, were friends as much of a sense of the word is probably either one of them have friends. And now, far from it.

JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: The one -- there was really only one light moment in court on Tuesday and that was when the prosecutor just Steinglass.

He asked David Pecker to basically identify Donald Trump, who is Donald Trump in the courtroom? Can you point at -- what does he wearing and he pointed to Trump. And he said he's wearing a blue suit and that was the only time where we saw the former president. He stood up he sat up in his chair and he gave us smirk literally the only smile I saw him flashed the entire day of that smirk.

BURNETT: That you would describe as a smirk.

HERB: I would say it was a smirk. It was, you know, one of the faces he likes to give.

He was certain -- he -- Trump was paying attention, I think, especially when David Pecker took the stand on Monday, Trump was very focused on his testimony. I think on Tuesday, as it's settled in, and we listened to him, you know, speak for hours, Trump sort of dialed back, he leaned back in his chair. He shuffled through his papers and I think he was a little less focus on every word that he was saying.

BURNETT: Well, that's going to be -- I mean, tomorrow is going to be a crucial day.

So, what more do prosecutors need from David Pecker right now, Ryan?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: So he's done a tremendous job for them, the opening presentation and already in some sense corroborating what Michael Cohen will say down the line. But I think there are a couple of other pieces of evidence that we know are probably coming. David Pecker knows from a December conversation directly with Donald Trump and Michael Cohen what the financial arrangement was because Michael Cohen wasn't being paid at the time and asked Pecker to intervene and prevail upon the president- elect at the time to pay him. So he knows about that conversation.

And then there's a big one. Summer 2017, the president of the United States invokes David Pecker to his -- to the White House, to thank him for helping him on the campaign. That's an important nexus because the entire theory of the cases that all of this hush-money payments schemes were related to trying to win the election, and there's the president --

BURNETT: The meeting --

GOODMAN: -- thanking him.

BURNETT: -- to thank him for successfully doing what he is alleged to have done.


BURNETT: Nothing like a meeting where you thank somebody for something else you've done.

So, Joey, okay, now, you are looking at this from the defense side of things given all of that, then he's going to -- Pecker is going to go under cross-examination by Trump's team. So what are they going to do?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They have to do a lot, Erin, and here's why. He gives them, Pecker does, the conspiracy and the cover- up. That's the theory of the case. Speaking about the issues of the meeting and what was arranged at the meeting. And so you've got to go after him. The first thing you're going to do is to start with this non-prosecution agreement.

So you're here, sir, because you have a deal. Is that correct? And that deal means that you're not going to be prosecuted and you're saying to tell the truth whose truth is that? Objection, but here's the reality.

The reality is, is that you have to hit them hard. He gave you, and let's start here. He talks about how Trump is so meticulous, how he monitors everything. What does that mean? It means that the defense saying he didn't know anything about ledgers, he didn't know anything about invoices, right?

Through Pecker, it shows he knows everything. You are in those meetings. You don't know how he runs his organization. You don't know what he does with those ledgers. You have to get them away from having knowledge of the organization.

In addition to that, you weren't in meetings with Michael Cohen and Mr. Trump. You don't know what Trump said to him if anything, that is Michael Cohen with respect to conversations with you, whether he is acting on the loyalty fealty, et cetera, you have to go out them a bit.


They may have been friends before, but now, I'm not so sure they need to be friends now.

BURNETT: I'm just looking here at our, quote, when Trump and Cohen and they're talking about it in, Trump says to Cohen. So, what do we got to pay for this, 150? I mean, you know, there is the reality that you have, lordy, I hope there are tapes, Jim Comey.

Okay. So, Keith, Jerry George worked for the "National Enquirer" for nearly 30 years as the L.A. bureau chief. He came on the show a few years ago. He has since passed away, but I want to play something he told us. This is about Trump and Pecker in their relationship, and he told us this all the way back in 2018. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JERRY GEORGE, FORMER L.A. BUREAU CHIEF, NATIONAL ENQUIRER: David Pecker knows where the bodies are buried. David Pecker knows all of the Trump's stories that were -- that were killed, all the story leads. He pretty much, you know, knows the worst of President Trump's personal life.


BURNETT: The implication there being that what the American public knows is not anywhere near the worst and the context here, Keith, if your name is Michael Cohen or Stormy Daniels, Trump's gone after you aggressively. They've been hinting about David Pecker.

KELLY: It's very curious that he has not attacked him. And my theory is that he knows that Pecker knows a lot more than he's disclosed. Right now, he's disclosing financial transactions which he thinks he can explain away, but there's probably a lot more and that's got to be the only reason Trump would not attack him.

BURNETT: Because he's scared.

KELLY: He doesn't want to stir them up any further than he is. He thinks as long as he sticks to the basic numbers, facts his lawyers can kind of dissuade, hopefully, in Trump's view, the jury. But if he starts going in with much more salacious stuff, which he may know and Trump will know he knows, that could be a lot worse picture for Trump, will put to him as, as an even more unsavory character. If -- if he knows what he feels, he knows.

BURNETT: And that could -- could come out. I mean, that would certainly -- the change the whole the tenor of the situation.

Jeremy, interesting Trump hasn't gone after David Pecker.

HERB: Yeah.

BURNETT: There had been he had as part of this process, been critical of a juror or two, but the jurors in that room right now, he has not been. What is his demeanor like when the jury's in the room?

HERB: It really is. I think different from what we've seen in past cases and even during some portions of this case. And one of the things I'm going to watch for tomorrow is we could get the judge's decision saying that he has violated that gag order. We don't know for sure, the judge didn't give a timeline, but that could be what we get first thing in the morning and it will be very interesting to see if Trump is because as stoic as he was during that hearing is his lawyer was getting attack with some very difficult questions from the judge.

And that -- if that does come in the morning, that's going to set the day where we then go straight from him presumably losing on the gag order to then going into testimony about Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels. And I think to this point, the first two days of this trial, he is not really reacted to -- when the jury is there. We'll see if that changes as the trial moves forward. BURNETT: Is there a risk for Trump that David Pecker does in any of

these questionings come out and reveal new information about Trump's personal life that would be very damaging.

GOODMAN: I think it's more that David Pecker could reveal that to the public. And Trump is running a presidential campaign. I think he would have had to probably told the prosecutors at this point everything he knows for them to now come up with new information, I don't see that happening in the trial context. But he might know so much information about Trump's life over multiple years that is not necessarily related to this particular scheme or the 2016 election, but much more broadly.

JACKSON: But that would be objectionable, right? Obviously, if new things start to be revealed, that a damaging to Trump that are not on- point are relevant to the case, the defense is going to jump out of their chair for that.


JACKSON: And so -- but I do think you have to keep -- it really is interesting how Trump attacks everybody else, but Pecker we sort of not to this point been assailed. If his testimony gets any more damaging than it is because he lays the entire foundation of the case, maybe that'll change two.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. And these hours before court goes back into session, we do have some more breaking news here. We have just learned that an Arizona grand jury has just indicted more than a dozen of Trump's allies who are accused of trying to overturn the election in Arizona. This is significant development and we have the breaking details on this. We're going to have that free with just as this is coming in after this break.

Plus, pro-Palestinian protests growing across the United States on college campuses. Students have been clashing with police on several today. I was at the campus of Columbia University and I was there with the speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, who came to New York with a very split specific message tonight.

And the Nikki Haley factor. So Trump's got a hold on the GOP nomination, right?


She's been off the ballot for what? I mean, months? But guess what? She just got a brutal reminder of his challenges heading into the election, thanks to a Nikki Haley performance.


BURNETT: And we have breaking news. Arizona's attorney general has just announced multiple charges in connection to the 2020 fake electors scheme to try to help Donald Trump overturn the election in the crucial state of Arizona which was, of course, won by just over 10,000 votes. Among those charged, the 11 alleged fake electors for Trump. [19:20:02]

And here's the full -- the full indictment. The -- there's others that we know here as they are serving these individuals. Some of these names are redacted, but we can figure out who some of them are. Several others also indicted.

They are, as I said, some of these names going to be redacted until they have been served, but we can tell you because we are learning that Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows are among them, as well as other crucial names in the inner circle of Trump's.

So lets go straight to Zachary Cohen outside the Maricopa County superior courthouse, breaking this.

So, Zach, just going through this. Look, I'm just going through the number of pages, 58 pages. You've been able to go through this here literally as this is breaking, what else can you tell us about who is being charged and with what?

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY & JUSTICE REPORTER: Yeah, Erin, like you said, look, the 11 fake electors from Arizona that Trump fake electors, they were all indicted. That includes Kelli Ward, who was the former head of the Republican Party here in Arizona, along with her husband, Michael Ward.

But more importantly, these names that are redacted were wondering more about who those people are. They include, as you mentioned, Rudy Giuliani, the former personal attorney of Donald Trump, that includes the former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and it includes Boris Epshteyn, who is still a very close adviser to Donald Trump. And in fact, sources have told us and people close to Trump told us that the reason Boris Epshteyn hasn't been seen with Trump in New York for the start of this criminal trial there is because of concerns of this looming indictment that come into fruition today.

BURNETT: And so, the -- some of these defendants and some of these that you're naming Boris, obviously, Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, their names are redacted in the version that we have now because I understand there's still actually in the process of serving them. So when I say this is breaking, it's breaking to that level. Is there anything else you can tell us about some of these redacted names which by the way are written, some of them in the context of unindicted coconspirator number one was unwilling to accept that he lost the election, right? That unindicted coconspirator number one, obviously then is Donald J. Trump?

COHEN: Right, absolutely. And look, these are all individuals from the Trump world, from the Trump universe, the three we've identified so far are obviously very close to Trump, or were very close to Trump at a certain time, especially when you are trying to overturn the 2020 election. And we'll learn more about these other redacted name probably about in the next few minutes here, but we are told that they're all from that inner circle, from those people that were working in Trump's orbit to help them overturn the 2020 election. Look, this investigation here in Arizona, it's obviously coming years after those efforts were first exposed. But it will be always thought that it was really focused on the fake electors themselves. Myself and Marshall Cohen reported though in the last few months that the probe did seem to be expanding and did seem to be looking into people who were connected to the Trump campaign on a national level. And now, we know that some of these names and this indictment are in that really that inner circle of Trump's orbit.

So we'll bring you more when we have it. But for now, we do know that some of these really close advisers to Donald Trump are included in this indictment.

BURNETT: Zach, thank you very much. All right. So as you get more and you go through this, please, we're going to bring you back into this conversation because as I said, this 58-page document, were having a chance here to go through it as we speak. So, Zach, we'll continue with that.

Ryan Goodman, Joey Jackson are back with me and we're also now joined by former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb here with us in New York.

All right. So, we're all just going getting a chance to look through this here. Ryan, I'm just going through quickly nine felony counts. But can we just hone in here on this, obviously, the fake electors in the state of Arizona charged. Can we just hone in on this inner circle of Trump page 20? I'm just going to hold up for everyone to see, all these black marks are redacted names but some of these names are include Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, Boris Epshteyn, and what else can you tell?

GOODMAN: So I think what's incredible here is that Donald Trump is unindicted coconspirator number one, unindicted, yet his to alter egos, Mark Meadows, who was his chief of staff, and Rudy Giuliani, his personal attorney, are indicted. So how is it explicable that he -- that Donald Trump is not indicted? I think that's the key question.

Just to take a page from the federal indictment, which identifies Rudy Giuliani running with Donald Trump in Arizona to overturn the popular vote, popular vote. The federal indictment says Giuliani and Trump, quote, made knowingly false claims of election fraud aimed at interfering with the ascertainment and voting by an Arizona's electors, end quote, when they're on the call with Rusty Bowers, the Republican head of the Arizona legislature, Rudy Giuliani, as a coconspirator of Donald Trump.

But here in the Arizona indictment, Donald Trump is left out. That's a huge question.

BURNETT: Ty, what do you make of that? I mean, it's very clear here, page 21, unindicted coconspirator number one.


BURNETT: Can I just read the description here? A former president of the United States who spread false claims of election fraud following the 2020 election, there's a "Jeopardy" question.

COBB: Right.


BURNETT: Sorry, yeah. Who is unindicted coconspirator number one? What do you make of that?

COBB: So I think the distinction may be having not had sufficient time to be certain to this, but I think the distinction may be people who actually acted in Arizona.

I think as I review it, it appears that Giuliani was active in organizing the fake electors worked with Kelli Ward. I think the same thing is true of the other people who were indicted, in conversations with Meadows and Giuliani and Trump.


So, Eastman is unindicted coconspirator number four as that seems to be --

BURNETT: There are there are five unindicted coconspirator. So, you're saying four, you think as clearly Eastman.

COBB: I think four is clearly Eastman, and -- but those are people who didn't conduct the electric scheme on the ground or, you know, organize it in a way actively in Arizona. They were people who were above the above that fray. Giuliani was there actually taking action. Same thing with Meadows in terms of coordination.

So I think that's the distinction.

BURNETT: All right. So, Joey, I'm just going through this nine felony counts, as I said, and this is just to give the summary, conspiracy, fraudulent schemes, fraudulent schemes, forgery, forgery, forgery, forgery, forgery, forgery.

JACKSON: Problematic. Let me be prosecuted before I'm defense, right?

Now, the issue from the prosecutions of prospective and people at home is saying, look, whether you acted on the ground or not, if you were a mastermind of an enterprise, it doesn't matter where you are. The issue is to what extent were you involved? To what extent did you aid, abet or do any activity that might further the interests of forgery, forgery, et cetera, as you say.


JACKSON: And so, I think people are wondering, well, why isn't everyone accountable? Prosecutors -- prosecutors have a great deal of discretion, right? And so prosecutor is going to do what they feel is in the best interests to secure the indictment. They secure, but it's a fair question as to why these unindicted people are not actually indicted. Now, from the defense perspective, you know, Erin, and you have to get

into the realm of politics, even in law, because it's become so political.

You know what Trump's going to say, who is the attorney general, Democrat or Republican? Democrat? Why did it take so long to do this? She's going to say because I came after a person who was in office for two germs who did nothing.

But you can look to this to be attacked on political grounds as the basis for which it's moving forward. I guarantee you that's what all the news reports are going to be. It was because of this Democratic attorney general at lacks evidence at lacks information, et cetera, the proof will be in the specific details of an indictment.

BURNETT: And I know we are literally trying to, as were talk sort of skim through this. But what I'm noticing already, Ryan just going through it here, that there are a lot of text messages and other corroborating data, just even going through this in terms of some of the allegations.

Yes, what one would call proof?

GOODMAN: Absolutely. And some of it actually spilled out into "The New York Times" earlier. So they actually had a lot of the written communications in which some of the Arizona players referred to the alternative electors as fake electors. And then they said, maybe that's not the best term that we should use for it. They're also going to try to hide the information about the false electors until January 6, and then spring it on Congress, which is not the way you go about submitting your electors slate to Congress if it was a legitimate operation.

So that internal documentation is damning when now we're getting into a prosecution setting. And I think that's going to be very important. It actually does set aside Arizona is different than other states because I think the evidence is just much stronger here prosecutor.

BURNETT: I mean, it is -- it is very, very laid out.

So, Ty, when you go through nine felony count, the allegations, can you just lay out the significance of that? What actually -- what does that mean in terms of what these people would, these people who are being charged, what would be repercussions of conviction be?

COBB: So, the repercussions of conviction I think are very serious. I think that that's highly likely that jail time is on the table for some of these people. I think particularly those who were at the -- at the head of the table in terms of organizing this and some and getting the scheme off could be subjected to jail time.

I do think the nine counts actually as a former prosecutor, I view that as good prosecuting. I mean, I think you see these 34 count indictment like we haven't, you know --

BURNETT: You're saying you see nine is narrow? COBB: Yeah, I see nine is focused. I mean, it's -- keep in mind. This

is the 14th month investigation and the Arizona attorney general who is going to get criticized for this course, but she's a serious lawyer. And this is as far as I can tell, having gone through this, it looks pretty well organized, and the approval proof will be in the actual trial. But the way the indictment is laid out, it's carefully crafted and seems to be very serious document.

JACKSON: And, Erin, just in terms of ties point, which is a very good one, of course, as it relates to what prosecutors do. They charge these multiple indictments, right? And the issue with that is anyone will do if you get one conviction as it relates to a multiple indicted case, you're a winner.


And really the offense, it really depends upon what you've been convicted of, but some of these sentences, right, are quite significant. And so when you have a multi count indictment, it really enhances the exposure of the individuals who were indicted.

BURNETT: All right. So, now, let's just talk about I guess first take a step back, unindicted coconspirator number one, Donald J. Trump, former president of the United States.

What happens when you get a conviction to unindicted coconspirator number one? I mean, that is legally nothing?

COBB: Legally nothing, yeah, legally nothing.

GOODMAN: Yeah, and the only other point maybe make here is just to remind everybody this is a state prosecution of state crimes. If Donald Trump is elected president, he can't do anything about it. He can pardon these people because that's only about federal crimes. He cannot quash the investigation because that's only about the Justice Department, not about state law enforcement authorities.

So he's just left out there as unindicted coconspirator. And then these folks might be left holding the bag.

COBB: I would say there's an interesting nuance point here, too, because you get the forgery, forgery, forgery. You know, keep in mind that in the 1512c discussion before the Supreme Court, the issue is evidentiary interference as opposed lets to just any obstruction. So the forgery is actually highlight the strength of Jack Smith's case because that is evidenced, know those forgeries are evidence, and interference are obstruction in that manner is -- will be actionable no matter what the Supreme Court decides.

BURNETT: All right. So there's also I guess let's just compare this now because when you bring up that Trump would beyond able to pardon, et cetera, right. And the other case that were talking about is Georgia --

COBB: Right. BURNETT: -- which I know is perceived as a strong case and has had a lot of challenges just maybe in terms of public perception because of the whole imbroglio with Fani Willis.

How does this stand up to that? Obviously Trump is not in this one in the same way, but how would you compare the cases?

COBB: I think this is -- this is a laser and not a kitchen sink.

BURNETT: And that ones more -- that ones much broader.

GOODMAN: No one sprawling. That one includes like pressure being placed on election officials and trying to get them to change --

BURNETT: The racketeering aspect of this?

GOODMAN: Absolutely. The racketeering and racketeering law in Georgia is even broader than federal racketeering laws, which are -- so in terms is very broad. And there's so many aspects to the Georgia one and its also got many more defendants operating at the national and state level.

The fact that it included Donald Trump also did gum up the works and litigation to some extent because then he's being able to make arguments like presidential immunity or supremacy clause type claims, there are special to the president. And so that's why that case is it very difficult case to move forward. This case is built for speed and I agree laser-focused.

JACKSON: But having said that, Erin, I think there is something to be said for charging the racketeering, which was charged in Georgia. If there's an enterprise and that enterprise is significant with respect to its goal and purpose to commit criminality, that's the right call. And as a prosecutor, I think you have to be committed to the notion of justice, right? Some do it more efficiently, some will do it --

BURNETT: They could have gone much bigger on this, clearly.

JACKSON: Given the facts --

BURNETT: They could have charged the former president, they chose not to.

JACKSON: Absolutely, right, for whatever their discretionary reason, as a prosecutor, they have, some do things differently. The end result well be what it'll be. Everyone's presumed innocent until proven guilty.

But I think the racketeering nature of the Georgia case, whether you agree or disagree, I think was the right call based on their theory in Georgia.

BURNETT: All right. As we did the spring, Jeff Zeleny into this conversation. Obviously, he's been covering -- covering this from the beginning.

And, Jeff Zeleny, what have you been learning here as we just go through this 58-page indictment coming out of the state of Arizona?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, one thing is clear, Arizona, like Georgia, another key battleground state. I mean, Joe Biden, only won Arizona by about 10,000 votes. So Arizona has always going to be ground zero of this reelection. Certainly, the abortion measured by the Supreme Court has added then to that. And now this yes, latest round of indictments well add to it as well.

Both campaigns are assessing this, talking to someone in the Biden campaign just a few moments ago, really reading this page of indictments as well, where Trump campaign also assessing this. So the reality is, we do not know the political fallout or impact from any of these cases, just like the case in New York or Georgia, we do not know if this will enhance former President Donald Trump or will impede him politically.

These are operating on two very different tracks. We've seen him enhanced over the last year, Donald Trump by these criminal charges. Some of his supporters believe how people are piling on, if you will, these various prosecutors.

But as the information comes in from all these separate indictments, this is definitely something that Trump campaign obviously does not welcome or want, something the Republicans do not welcome or want. So as we digest this, keep in mind, Arizona is so important to the pieces of the puzzle here that go into the battleground states.

And this new piece of evidence always reminds us, we don't know what elections are going to be about.


This is a dynamic process for six months to come certainly impacts that as well.

BURNETT: And we certainly don't know. I mean, everyone points to polls of what people say they will do or how they will react. And the conviction and you know what I mean? I know we talked about polls, they're all we've got, but I don't think we have any idea until something actually happens. And you see what people think.

Ty, I know you were going through what you thought maybe the distinction between who is actually charged and who's an unindicted coconspirator. But what do you think? And obviously, can't get in the head in the decision to charge here. But they could have obviously charged Donald J. Trump in this.

COBB: Right.

BURNETT: He's front center and all that. I mean, even just going through it now, as quickly as I can unindicted coconspirator number one, it's right, left, and center all the way through this.

What do you think that thinking may have been as to why not to charge him here when they certainly was a precedent to do so in Georgia? COBB: Sure. I think Joey's right. I mean in the sense of pointing out

that prosecutors have a great deal of discretion. And if you look at this through prosecutorial lens, Donald Trump's indicted twice federally, once in connection with this whole scheme, and that he has benefited from the playing the martyr and as the cases pile up, I think -- I think I can see a prosecutors thinking, there's really no reason for us to do this. It's being done. You know, we owe the taxpayers some loyalty to, and why take on that burden?

At the same time, you surely could have. But I don't think its necessary, particularly when you've already got this serious federal -- federal indictment and you've got the indictment of Georgia. So I can see why they would have done it.

Also, I think it makes the case a little bit easier for him and I think they will be focused largely on people in the state and people who have actual, have had actual interactions with those fake elector.

BURNETT: So these 58-page document when it comes out right now, were hours away from the Supreme Court hearing, the immunity case on whether Donald Trump is immune from actions that he did while president of the United States, as he says, that he has so that he says he can't be charged in Mar-a-Lago, can't be charged in January 6. What -- what could that ruling mean for cases like this in Arizona and cases in Georgia?

GOODMAN: That's a great question. I mean, I do think that in a certain sense, theoretically, if the president is immune from federal prosecution for all acts while in office, then as we say in the law for sure, I even more, so he is immune where she used to be immune for prosecution by state and local officials.

BURNETT: Even more so.

GOODMAN: Yeah, because if there's federal immunity for something like that because of federal law, then he would be even more protected against state and local prosecutors in trying to intrude on the president's powers. That would be anathema in that vision of the world. But that vision is going to die tomorrow before the Supreme Court, the absolutist idea that the Trump lawyers are putting forward will not survive Supreme Court scrutiny. They will find that he does not have that kind of immunity at person who's in the office can commit crimes.

And that's been the understanding. Nixon was, there was a draft indictment for Nixon, independent investigator for Clinton was thinking of indicting him. That's just the general understanding. So I think you could imagine a world in which this day prosecutors in Arizona say, wait, just wait to see how the Supreme Court goes and then we can move forward.

BURNETT: All right. All stay with me as we go back to Zach Cohen.

I know, Zach, you've got some more breaking details here. What you just learned? COHEN: Yeah, Erin, look at this indictment, it looks like there's nine counts total including multiple felony, is one of those felonies is conspiracy. Again, that goes back to what we were talking about earlier about how this specification really did seem to initially be just focused on the electors.

We've seen in Michigan, for example, just the electors were charged. There, but the conspiracy count does underscore how this investigation did expand, did widen to include some of the people in Trump's inner orbits, some people that are working on his national campaign to put these fake electors forward to have them sign these fraudulent documents.

It's really more reminiscent of the indictment we saw in Georgia, the RICO charge in Georgia than it is of some of the other big electric charges we've seen. Also really interesting, as you mentioned previously play that Donald Trump is an unindicted coconspirator in this case. We learned it as well that he is an unindicted coconspirator in Michigan.

So, he's now being named in two different criminal investigation at the state level. We know he's charged in Georgia, making that a third case. So, really interesting that he is included in this charging document, albeit as an unindicted coconspirator.

I want to look at Boris Epshteyn as being indicted in this case, too, because Boris Epshteyn is somebody who, like I said, the main really close to the former president. He was there in court in Manhattan back when Donald Trump was are in the New York hush money case.

But we're told by sources, Kristen Holmes, our great colleague is told that the reason Boris Epshteyn has been kept at a distance recently from Donald Trump is because of concerns that this indictment was coming. They thought that he was going to be implicated in that indictment and we know now that he was.

So lot of big boldfaced names in this indictment, including one that were identifying now is Christina Bobb, the former OANN anchor. She's somebody who we've previously reported was working with Rudy Giuliani to help organize these fake electors in multiple states, including Arizona. She's on multiple planning calls with different representative from the Trump campaign from these various states, too.


So, really, a bigger swing that maybe we were expecting at first, but Arizona with that conspiracy charges, multiple felonies and potentially pretty serious consequences.

BURNETT: And, Ty, interesting. The point is he said took a bigger swing than some might have expected. You have Christina Bobb, who is an anchor for the far-right network on there as well?

COBB: Yes. So I think that's true and I think in both Michigan and Arizona, she's an unindicted coconspirator I think I believe. And again, that goes to mind my point of I can see them fashioning

this in a way that tries to scope in all the people who actually contacted fake electors, organized fake electors, helped policy-wise in terms of how they were going to do this, which would include Epshteyn. So I think that's -- that seems to be the distinction that they use in identifying the people that they were going to mention in the indictment, either as unindicted coconspirators or actual defendants.

I do think that Epshteyn is fascinating as a defendant in this case. As you know, from your conversations with Tim Parlatore and Jim Trusty, they're not going to lose any sleep over Boris's fate tonight.


COBB: And --

BURNETT: And he's been with Trump a lot. I mean, everybody was going down for the Mar-a-Lago indictment appearances, he's -- of all these people still so in his inner circle.

COBB: Right, were very much in his inner circle, and very protective of the former president and protective to the point that Giuliani reached when he arguably sold his soul to protect the president and under circumstances that were improper.


All right. All stay with me. I do want to bring in Rusty Bowers, central to this entire indictment. Rusty is the former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives in Arizona. Famously, Rusty, you testified before the January 6 committee about how Trump and Giuliani pressure you to overturn the 2020 election results in Arizona. I know you and I've had a chance to speak many times, but now here we are.

Rusty, we've got 58-page indictment in your state. What's your reaction from what you know so far.

RUSTY BOWERS (R), FORMER ARIZONA HOUSE SPEAKER (via telephone): Well, from what I know is what you just told me. If that's the case, then I'm a witness and I hesitate in talking about its length other than what I publicly have said previously.

BURNETT: Rusty, I am, you know, literally, we are breaking this on the air, so I will admit here I'm reading as we are covering it. But I'm just looking at page 31 in his one of the places where you are introduced.

Here's how they introduced you. They say Russell "Rusty" Bowers served in the Arizona legislature from 2015 to the beginning of 2023. They lay out who you are, and then they talk about the extensive pressure that you spoke about being under to overturn the election in the state house, that you said you were getting hundreds of emails demanding that I do my constitutional duty and name electors that will vote for Trump. That you then said you were, quote, getting very strange and unsettling phone calls telling me to do my duty and vote to elect vote or electors who will vote for Trump.

Rusty, how intense was this pressure?

BOWERS: Well, there was pressure and it was intense and it was its now going on almost three years, but it's -- it was intense, you know? But for some, that might have been real troubling. I don't know how I feel about it now, but at the time, it was -- it was certainly demanding of my staff, my assistance. They had to put up with thousands, not hundreds, thousands of emails and calls.

So they're troopers. Erin, can you hear me?

BURNETT: Yes, I can hear you, Rusty, I know you're on the phone and we were dealing with that connection, but I got you loud and clear.

We were just going through here a lot of these names Rusty are redacted because they're still in the process of serving some of the individuals being charged. So you have the false electoral slate in your state of Arizona, and you also have others who are close to Trump and were very much a part of this. Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Boris Epshteyn.

Do any of those -- and Christina Bobb -- a news anchor for the far- right network, OAN, and I believe -- do any of those names surprise you, Rusty?

BOWERS: No, it doesn't surprise me, no, not at all. I mean, I did -- I did get calls from some of them, not Bobb. I never talked to her, but others, yes. And some of those people were famously in our state involved and did videos of themselves and other things, but --

BURNETT: So, Rusty, yeah --

BOWERS: And it's sad to see it come to this, that we make a -- well, I better not comment. I really say, yeah, they did tell (ph) me.

BURNETT: They did.

Well, the other person in here unindicted coconspirator number one, I just want to read you how he's described.


Unindicted coconspirator number one, Rusty, on page 21, a former president of the United States who spread false claims of election fraud following the 2020 election.

Rusty, are you surprised that Donald Trump is unindicted as a coconspirator?

BOWERS: Well, I'm not -- I'm not that prosecutor. I'm not -- I'm not an advocate. I'm just a witness. I only talk about things that happened to me and I can, you know, I could --

BURNETT: I mean, from your perspective as a witness, does that -- does that surprise you? I mean, you lived this in a way that everyone watching didn't, right? You know more than anybody else, probably more than anybody else, what actually happened. So does it surprise you given what you've dealt with, that that he is not indicted?

BOWERS: I do remember the phone call. I do remember his involvement. I do remember how he couched his beat in his terms and some ways, I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised in the Arizona case, at least as far as I'm concerned.

I mean, the fact that he was the president, he called me, yeah, that's -- that's impressive, but all that testimony is going to have to come out in court and it looks like -- if they've indicted him, it looks like I'm going to be involved and I don't give my feelings about it too deeply.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Rusty --

BOWERS: And I hope you all understand that.

BURNETT: No, I do understand that. I do understand that. I do want to be clear that he is unindicted coconspirator number one.

Rusty, thank you so much for taking the time and being with us.

BOWERS: Thank you so much for the call.

BURNETT: All right. Good to talk to you, Rusty.

We're going to take a break. We're going to be back at a conversation with the speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, today about the campus protests raging around the country. His decision to leave Washington and come make a call for a major resignation at Columbia University. His message to America tonight, next.



BURNETT: The breaking news, there are pro-Palestinian protests across the United States spreading violent clashes today between police and students at USC and UT-Austin where more than 20 people were arrested. This follows protests at NYU, Brown University and Columbia University, where an encampment has taken over part of the center of campus, more than 100 had been arrested, in-person classes have been canceled after eight straight days of demonstrations.

I was on that campus earlier today to interview the House Speaker Mike Johnson.

This is what I saw and heard -- Johnson walked out. There were hundreds of people on the steps where he and other GOP representatives that he had brought along with him and his entourage spoke.

They were -- I'm going to show you here, this is my cell phone video -- chanting "free Palestine", heckling, booing when Johnson called for the president of the school to resign. They were not friendly. They couldn't actually hear the speaker, which

I can tell you is a good thing, because much of what he said would have incensed that crowd.

And after the press conference, the speaker's team moved us inside in the -- into the Columbia library where the speaker did interviews. They put that entire space under lockdown because of that large crowd.

So here's our conversation. Right after that, hundreds of people outside when we moved rushed inside, inside the library, moments after that tense press conference.


BURNETT: Speaker Johnson, you know, thanks for your time.

Obviously, there's a lot going on in Congress right now. You've chosen to travel to New York and as you were just out on those steps, calling for the resignation of the president of here of Columbia.

There was heckling. There was shouting. It was not a warm reception.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Enjoy your free speech.

BURNETT: Were you surprised at all by what happened?

JOHNSON: Well, there was a sea of students who apparently have been involved in the protest here. And I'm not surprised that they didn't welcome our visit because we're calling out their activities.

What -- the point we tried to make today is that this is not who we are as Americans. This is not an expression of the First Amendment. This is not an exchange of ideas. This is -- this is threats and intimidation of violence against Jewish students for who they are, for their faith.

And that's a terrible trend that's going on in the country right now. We have these similar types of activities and what are becoming violent protests on campuses around the country. And members of Congress I believe have an obligation and responsibility to speak about this and to demand that it come to an end because it's not good for us.

BURNETT: The main thing they were chanting was "free Palestine". How is that antisemitic?

JOHNSON: Well, what's antisemitic is that Hamas endorsed this protests today. Within the last two hours, they issued an endorsement statement and heralded the students here and said this -- this is the next generation of leadership in America.

If you're getting endorsed by Hamas, that's not a good look. It's not a good sign. Some of these students apparently are unaware of the atrocities of

October 7, or they're denying it. They denied that women and children were brutally raped and murdered, that infants were placed into ovens and cooked alive.

The things that happen there are unspeakable and yet they're out there waving flags for the very people who committed those atrocities.

This -- this is not who we are.

BURNETT: Speaker, in those early days, I was in some of the kibbutz and you could smell the death and the bodies. It was horrific. And yet, what's happened since has been horrific, too.

And there's a student here, a PhD student at Columbia.


I wanted to quote him. He is Jewish.

He has written a testimonial about what's going on here right now, his experience on campus. And he says, I'll read it to you: The most pressing threats to our safety is Jewish students do not come from tents on campus. We should be focusing on the material reality of war: the munitions our government is sending to Israel, which kill Palestinians by the thousands, and the Americans participating in the violence.

Do you think that protesting the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, protesting the tens of thousands of innocent people who have died there is antisemitic in and of itself?

JOHNSON: I think there's always a place for debate and the free exchange of ideas. But let's not equivocated on what's happening in Hamas -- with Hamas and in Gaza. This is a battle, as Netanyahu said, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, between good versus evil, light versus darkness, civilization versus barbarism. This isn't a close call.

We have terrorist who preyed upon and attacked viciously and killed many innocent Israelis. And the idea that there would be out here in support of that -- Hamas is using civilians as shields for themselves. They put their operations under hospitals and schools. They are -- they are using civilians in a theater of war.

And so it's difficult. Why would someone blame Israel for trying to stamp out the very terrorist threats that are right there on the doorstep? We should not be dictating to Israel their military strategy. We should be supporting our ally, which is the only stable democracy in the Middle East.

BURNETT: Is there anything Israel could do that would be over the line for you? Because when you talk about stamping it out -- I mean, many innocent children have died and are dying at Israel's hands and the IDF.

JOHNSON: They have. There have been civilians murdered, but that is not the fault of Israel. It's the fault of the terrorists -- the Hamas operators and soldiers, the terrorist who have used these people and put them into harms way.

Israel, I'm convinced, is doing its very best to prevent civilian casualties. But this is a war and they're fighting for their very existence. And they are not the aggressors. It is the other side.

Some of the people here seem not to understand that. And I think that's a real problem.

We can debate the merits of all these things. But what they're doing here is intimidating Jewish students. That's the thing that is so problematic.

BURNETT: All right. So let me ask you about that because when it comes to that, the NYPD, at least as of Monday said they've not received a single call from Columbia University of reports of any physical harm?

JOHNSON: Well --

BURNETT: No physical harm.

JOHNSON: Right. But you have to speak to these Jewish students who are in fear of their lives, who were cowering in their apartments right now, who are not coming to class. In fact, the administration recognized the threat was so great, they canceled classes. Now they've come out with this hybrid idea.

Well, if you're Jewish, maybe you do want to stay at home. Maybe you'd be better off for you.

It is so discriminatory. It's so wrong in every way. The responsibility of a university administrator is to keep peace on campus and ensure the safety of students -- job number one.

If they're incapable of doing that, they need different leadership. I think this is time for a really strong hand.

BURNETT: I'm trying to understand though, why a speaker of the House, this is an issue you would want to get involved with? It's a private university. It's an issue happening here.

Why is this something that you are choosing to get involved and in calling for the removal of the president of a private university?

JOHNSON: Well, they receive federal funding as well. And Congress is looking at all of these aspects to determine how they're using those funds. Is that appropriate?

If they can't fulfill their basic obligations, I don't think the American taxpayers want to be funding this kind of thing.

We know that professors are engaging in this as well, some of their professors. Some have been supportive of the Jewish your students, but I believe it's a small subset from what I'm told. They've allowed this to go on and it is not okay with the American

people. This isn't a partisan issue. This is about right and wrong, and we've got to call it for what it is.

BURNETT: And so, when -- when people talk about genocide and say that Israel is engaging in genocide, do you think that that is a legitimate conversation that they should be allowed to have as part of First Amendment rights here, or no?

JOHNSON: Of course, look, I was a First Amendment lawyer. For 20 years, I went to the courts and defendant the -- our First Amendment freedoms, religious expression, the right of free speech on campus. I litigated those cases.

Of course, the university is supposed to be the free marketplace of ideas. But when you shout down and physically threatened with intimidation and threats of violence the other side, that is not a peaceful expression, as peaceful (ph) -- peaceful exchange of ideas. That's something very different and that's what we're saying that they need to get control of.

When they camp out around the campus and they prevent students from exercising their rights, that's the problem.

BURNETT: Before you go -- obviously, we're here in New York, as there's been threats to your speakership back in Washington.

What does it say about your standing as speaker that you are here at Columbia University dealing with them this issue right now?

JOHNSON: The speaker of the House is -- has a very important constitutional responsibility. It's an officer listed in the Constitution. The speaker speaks for the House of Representatives and I felt it was very important -- important for that voice be heard, not just about what happens at Columbia, but about what is happening right now around the country.

And we have to stand unequivocally for the right and the good. And I'm calling on all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to speak out against this. Not to -- not to endorse it, not to cuddle these people, but to say this has to stop.

We have to treat every single person with dignity and respect and that's not happening here, and it's an atrocity.

BURNETT: Speaker Johnson, thanks very much for your time.

JOHNSON: Thank you.


BURNETT: I conducted that interview just about a couple of hours ago.

Thanks so much for joining us. Hope you stay here with CNN.

"AC360" begins right now.