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Special Counsel: Trump, Aides Tried To Destroy Evidence; Mar-A- Lago Worker Becomes Third Person Charged; Trump Charged With Retaining Top-Secret Iran Attack Plan; Indictment: Trump Tried To "Destroy" Evidence; More Obstruction, Retention Charges Leveled Against Trump; Trump Faces New Charges, Blames Democrats; Mccarthy Deflects Questions On New Trump Charges; Trump: Legal Woes "Lifted My Poll Numbers". Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 28, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on Inside Politics, the boss, the plan, the surveillance video, the alleged cover up. A superseding indictment charges the former president with more crimes and puts a new co-conspirator in the crosshairs.

Plus, how many indictments is too many indictments? Some Republicans reflexively rush to Donald Trump's defense, others including some inside the Trump orbit worry criminal charges will eat away at his general election chances.

And tonight, Iowa is all a stage can anyone deliver a breakout performance, or will the indictment make every single Republican running for the nomination just another player and a story all about Trump?

Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

Up first, it is always the cover up. Jack Smith hits Donald Trump with three new charges connected to his effort to allegedly conceal classified documents. The superseding indictment from the special counsel out 60 pages of meat to the case against the former president. The document reads like something ripped from the pages of the untouchables.

Federal prosecutors tick through with exacting precision, dates, times, phone calls, encrypted chats, a search of tunnels at Mar-a-Lago arrangements for a secret trip, fake family emergency and orders from the boss to make sure surveillance video disappears. Ask the former president about it. And he says, well, that's all made up.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: This is harassment. This is election interference. For now, maybe a January 6 case. I don't know, maybe not to because it's nothing wrong. They did this in order to get me out.


BASH: Let's go straight to Sara Murray to get more details. Sara?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana. Look, I think the big thing, of course, are these additional new charges against former President Donald Trump. One of them for the willful retention of national defense information, which is that Iran document that we've talked so much about that Donald Trump allegedly flashed to a bunch of people in a meeting with writers working on a Mark Meadows biography.

But the other ones, as you pointed out, are related to this scheme to attempt to destroy surveillance footage at Mar-a-Lago. And you know, you nailed it on the head, when you said that there is a lot of detail in this new superseding indictment.

It runs through at some point, almost minute by minute, hour by hour about interactions from some of these Trump employees, Walt Nauta, as well as this other man who's now a defendant in the case, Carlos De Oliveira. Of when the Trump world gets a subpoena for these surveillance tapes.

You know, it shows that Donald Trump's attorney informs him of this subpoena that Donald Trump then makes it clear he wants to speak to Walt Nauta. Walt Nauta all of a sudden changes his travel plans to stick around Palm Beach.

And then we get all of the detail of Carlos De Oliveira, talking to other Trump employees about how the boss wants this surveillance footage to be deleted, establishing that it's kept on the server for 45 days and essentially trying to figure out what he's going to do about this conundrum of all this surveillance footage out there, when the boss wants it gone. Dana?

BASH: The boss, I'm from New Jersey, the boss meet something else there. Thank you so much, Sara. And here with me to talk -- oh, before we talk at the table. I want to make sure that you all know that you should tune in on Sunday night for more of Sara's reporting in the case against Donald Trump. It's a new episode of The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper. What happened in Georgia? That is Sunday at 8 pm eastern and Pacific only on CNN.

Now let's get to the table and talk to former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams, CNN legal analyst, Carrie Cordero, CNN's Paula Reid, and CNN's Evan Perez. I just was appreciating the fact that every one of us brought our homework. And that is, we all have our 60-page superseding indictment, something that I never highlighted -- --


BASH: Oh, that's great. I love that you've done that. And since you've highlighted it, we'll highlight some of the most salient parts of this 60-page superseding indictment. Let's start with this. De Oliveira, who is the new co-conspirator, told Trump employee four that the boss wanted the server deleted. De Oliveira then insisted to Trump employee number four that the boss wanted the server deleted.


And then, let's go to another part. And this is the question about keeping these alleged co-conspirators loyal. On August 26 2022, Walt Nauta, called Trump employee five and said words the effect of, someone just wants to make sure Carlos is good. In response to Trump employee five, told Nauta that de Oliveira was loyal. I mean, wow.

PEREZ: And that's at a point weeks after the really extraordinary surge at Mar-a-Lago where, I think everybody is having the holy cow moment, that's censored for the audience, right? Where everyone is really realizing how serious this is. And the former president and everybody around him are trying to make sure they're circling the wagons, and to make sure that everybody stays on the team.

It really raises an important thing that I think, we don't -- it's not necessarily charged in this case, but which you might see appear at a trial, right, which is that one of the features of the obstruction that the former president is accused of right, is paying the legal fees of some of his employees. People who are around him to try to make sure that they stay on board.

And also, to try to make sure that he is aware of what they're saying, what testimony they provided, and make sure he has all the intelligence of what Jack Smith and what prosecutors are getting. And right there, you see that Donald Trump calls De Oliveira and says, he's going to get him an attorney. Again, this is not exactly crystal- clear charge. There's not a separate charge for this, but it is something that, you know, you can get the sense that prosecutors could use in an upcoming trial.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: They're trying to obstruct their obstruction, right, that's next level. And because this surveillance footage is so critical to investigators and to prosecutors, this is where you can see these boxes moving around the property, Walt Nauta, we now know Carlos De Oliveira. Also, in these videos, this is essential evidence.

And at this point, they realize that, so then they're trying to destroy it. Now, of course, this is an attempt to destroy it. It's our understanding that the surveillance footage was not destroyed. But these are fascinating charges to add on. And you also ask, well, why now. And it appears they would have liked to have gotten a plea deal out of Carlos, maybe gotten him even as a cooperator.

But look, if he's not going to join team America, he's going to be charged. And then of course, they also added on that document from the tape. A big question, why now? And it's just not clear if that was to just put Trump on notice that they heard him in his Fox News interview, where he said I didn't have a document. And they want to add that or if there was some issue with the intelligence community. But it's really interesting to see these additional charges.

BASH: Well, because you mentioned that, let's play the former president in that Fox interview, just to put a finer point on what you're alluding to.


TRUMP: There was no document. That was a massive amount of papers and everything else, talking about Iran and other things. And it may have been held up or may not. But that was not a document. I didn't have a document per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles.


BASH: So, this is in reference to an audio tape that you first reported on Paula, way back about the idea that he the former president was waving around war plans against Iran. He said after the indictment came out. No, I was bravado. I didn't mean it. That's what you just heard in the Fox tape. And what Paula was saying was, well, maybe the special counsel was just trying to say, look, I've got the goods on you, and you know, don't mess with me.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think there's -- it'll be interesting to see how the reporting develops in terms of what we learn for why this document was only revealed in this new superseding indictment versus the original indictment. But I can come up with a couple of theories of why that might be the case.

So, one reason might be that between the time of the original indictment and now additional witnesses have confirmed there were other people in that room, writers and the other individuals who were there, they have confirmed under oath in front of the grand jury as witnesses, that in fact, he really did show a document. Because one of the questions we had at the time of the first indictment was, did he really show it or was it just bravado? So that's one possible theory.

The other theory that Paula, I think is alluding to is the fact that it may have been that the intelligence community was reluctant, originally to authorize the justice department to use that document at trial. And it could be that in the intervening time, the justice department was able to convince the intelligence community to authorize the use.


BASH: Now Elliot, let's talk a little bit more about some of the, you know, script like Hollywood script if the writers were not on strike, Hollywood script like pros and this based on alleged facts that happened about, you know, trying to in an undercover way, get into the place where they could, you know, go through a tunnel and get to the place where they could find the surveillance video and get rid of this surveillance video and lying about being there and making it a secret trip. I mean, this is -- this reads in a way that you really can't believe it.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's evocatively written, and they're just allegations, they haven't been challenged or disproven. Yet, however, they read as a textbook script for how you would instruct someone to obstruct justice, because what you have is number one, and if you just go through that timeline where they say, number one, they receive a draft subpoena for the materials that are at Mar- a-Lago, then they start the conversations both with the president and with each other about how to start deleting evidence in effect.

It is a level of Keystone Cops type, almost I don't know if it's incompetence or arrogance, but the mere fact that they all the above, but the mere fact that they knew an investigation was happening, they knew they had evidence, and they knew that they had to suppress it is right out of the elements of obstruction of justice.

And frankly, obstruction compared to all the other things Donald Trump is charged with, whether that's here or potentially, with January 6, is the far more straightforward crime because you don't have to tie in classified documents to it. You just have to prove that they knew that there was an investigation that they were trying to get the way of it.

BASH: Yes. And it's what makes this different from the other alleged problems?

WILLIAMS: The allegation here too, is that these are new crimes that he committed right, after the original crimes, they were committed to a new crime (crosstalk) after being put on notice that we need to produce this.

BASH: So, you both have been mentioning the idea that we're now hearing about this additional aid Carlos De Oliveira, in part perhaps because the federal government were hoping that they were hoping that he would flip. Let's listen to something that Michael Cohen, a former Trump aide who did flip, said it by way of giving advice to Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP PERSONAL LAWYER: Walt Nauta run, Carlos run. Let me says, first of all, he's not going to get you an attorney. He's not going to pay for it unless you stay on message. And if you stay on message, you will end up behind bars. There's no doubt about it.


REID: I don't know if anyone should take legal advice from Michael Cohen. He may not like to hear me say that, but obviously he has had extensive legal problems on not only related former President Trump but also related to his own business dealings.

Yes, of course, that if they you flip, you are going to lose your lawyer that is paid for by a Trump affiliated political action committee. But these two gentlemen need to assess their own situations, assess the fact that the former president could become the president once again, potentially make this go away.

They need to look at their situation carefully, right, because neither one of these men is going to have the resources to go up against the justice department on their own. But former President Trump, he has two jobs right now. One he wants to get reelected to the White House. And the second is to keep Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira very close.

And I'm told that actually he has learned a lot from what happened with Michael Cohen. I'm told by people close to him that he's gotten a lot better about keeping people who could potentially be a very helpful to investigators closer to the fold, so far, so good. They pressured Walt, he didn't flip. They pressured Carlos, he didn't flip. Let's see what happens.

BASH: That does not sound like the mob at all.

PEREZ: So, jersey.

BASH: I know, sorry, I can't help it. Everybody, thank you for that really important discussion. And as Trump is hit with three new charges, Republicans on Capitol Hill are singing an all too familiar to stand by your man. Stay with us.




BASH: Donald Trump is raging over the latest charges against him in a special counsel's classified documents case, the 2024 Republican frontrunner sat down with Breitbart moments after the news broke.


TRUMP: This is a two-tier system of injustice. They'll end up being an embarrassment to the Democrats and an embarrassment to our country, and they have lifted my poll numbers. In all fairness, they didn't want to run against me. That's why they did it.

They did this, so that I wouldn't get the nomination. And it actually had the reverse effect is lifted my numbers, but I was winning anyway by a lot. I'm also beating Biden by a lot and DeSantis or just DeSanctimonious, as I call him is losing very badly to Biden. I'm winning by a lot to Biden.


BASH: But how are the former president's allies on Capitol Hill reacting? Manu Raju just cut up with the House Speaker. Manu, what are you hearing?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I asked him about these charges that were filed last night alleging that the former president obstructed this investigation sought to destroy evidence, sought to delete surveillance footage at Mar-a-Lago, and relevant engage about the obstruction charges.

He instead pointed the finger back at the current president, President Biden, over Biden's mishandling of classified records, over Biden having classified records from his highest time as a senator. He and McCarthy's words says that he believes is worse than what was laid out in that indictment last night. And he questioned, why Joe Biden himself has not been indicted.


RAJU: Because any of that concern here.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA): What concerns me is, you have a sitting president that has a situation like this, but even worse, that had documented, but nothing's happened. (crosstalk) Well, the current president had documents as a senator.

REP. DON BACON, (R-NE): And we should protect them, protect them, and this is not something to take lightly.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, (R-TX): I mean, it's always a serious concern.



RAJU: So those last two members had a different tune than the Speaker of the House. Don Bacon, who represents a swing district from Nebraska saying, he has major concerns about what is detailed in the indictment. He also called it a strong case of the justice department is put forward.

Mike McCaul also, he's the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said, there's always a serious concern and over any allegations involving the mishandling of classified records. But what you'd hear from the Speaker of the House, defending Donald Trump and pointing back the finger at Joe Biden, even as he did not want to engage in the substance of the indictment, but it shows you what the speaker is thinking, he tries to protect the House as well as the speakership ahead of 2024. Dana?

BASH: I think, the technical political term is deflection. That was really, really interesting. Thank you, Manu, as always. I'm here to share their insights, CNN's David Chalian, CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson and Astead Herndon of The New York Times. Nice to see you all. It is Friday, happy Friday.

What is your take on, not only what Manu just reported from the Hill, but the way that the former president reacted? I have my thoughts, and I'm curious if they dovetail with yours?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, the former president now has a pretty reliable playbook that he uses here. So, I think you could go back to each of the indictments. And the reaction is, Donald Trump outraged at the indictment and says its political and election interference. And he doesn't talk about deflection. He has no desire to engage on the actual facts of what's being presented in the indictment.

I mean, and when he does, he tends to cause himself perhaps even greater legal peril. So instead, he does this broad race. This is just politics. And it works for him in the short-term. It rallies his troops to his side. It brings in more of those grassroots donations. It does no doubt sort of blot out the sun. And he continues to be the dominant force in the race.

So, I don't expect that we're going to see a change in approach from Donald Trump at each stage. If there are two more indictments to come, I'm sure that Breitbart interview that you played there, you could hit on repeat.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I will say, and this might make me sound very superficial. Well, he looks a little disheveled and stressed out, right? And I think, of course, he wouldn't be the legal problems that he has are piling up. He's got people who work for him. He's got to keep them in his circle. Probably there are people who are -- who used to work with him or work for him now, who may be cooperating with the folks who are investigating this.

So, this is a very stressful time for him. Sure, he can go in these interviews and sort of say, it's no big deal. And he's beating Joe Biden in the polls. I actually don't think that's true. He's certainly beating Ron DeSantis. But listen, this is not good for him, right? Who wants to be indicted, or possibly a third time, possibly a fourth time, as he's seeking the White House?

BASH: I talked to a source this morning, who is very much a supporter of Donald Trump speaks to him, who said that? The question at this point is about how the Republican electorate looks at him when it comes to his electability. And right now, it's pretty strong. If you look at the latest Monmouth University poll on this question.

The strongest candidate against Biden, definitely Trump is 45 percent. And this person I talked to said that even he, the former president is a bit concerned that the cumulative effect of all of this, despite his bravado might have take a toll on that.

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I think that's the key point to hit on, is not necessarily our Republican voters going to ditch Donald Trump or absolutely flip on them. This is someone that they've had a personal and political connection to for the last six, eight years.

The question is whether these indictments pile up in a way that starts to see him as someone who can't win a general election. But the issue for the other candidates is that Republican voters haven't really prioritized electability over everything else.

Remembering the Democratic primary in 2020. This was the pitch, Joe Biden was able to make above all the other candidates to say, OK, put all those things aside. It's about who can win in November. That's not the priority for most of the Republican voter electorate.

And so, even Donald Trump's general election problems, which would come with these indictments because swing voters and independents universally find this to be something that makes it distasteful to for him to get back to the White House. But if that's not the priority for the primary voters, he still has a clear path to that nomination.

HENDERSON: But it's also true that many primary voters in the Republican party believe that Donald Trump did win in 2020, right? So, this idea that you have to sort of convince him of his electability, they already think he was elected.

CHALIAN: And the electability argument, which is something we talk about every cycle in both parties, as you noted. It's not necessarily the thing at the end of the day that people do end up casting their ballots on. It is part of the conversation. It's part of the calculus, but there are a whole bunch of other things in there too, including that very strong bond that instead is talking about the Republican primary voters do have with Donald Trump.


And I would just note they heard the electability argument in 2015, 2016, and it was before all these legal troubles. They heard it nonstop for a year. And he said went on to win the election and proving that electability argument wrong.

HERNDON: Republican voters mentioned that all the time.

BASH: Yes. No, that's absolutely true. I just want to play one thing and that is part of an ad that an outside conservative group is playing in Iowa, trying to make this point to voters.


HERNDON: Yes. It would be helpful if people who were running against Donald Trump were actually making this argument as well. They're not really going after Donald Trump in this sort of full-frontal way. So, we'll see how something like that.

BASH: And is your sense in talking to voters out there that there is an appetite for that kind of -- are their ears open to that kind of message?

HERNDON: I think it's especially true in Iowa. I think it makes sense that that ad is placed there. That's a place that shown real openness. Remember, didn't vote for Donald Trump in 2016. You go there and you hear people really open to alternatives. I remember talking Bob Vander Plaats, evangelical leader there, and his point -- Donald Trump fan.

But his point was people who like Trump dig in, after these indictments, if people are open to alternatives will be more open to alternatives. The problem is, if Trump remains at the national prominence, it could be where Iowa, New Hampshire anointing an alternative that really has legs to keep going.

BASH: OK. Speaking about alternatives. In just a few hours, the former president and more than a dozen Republican presidential hopefuls will descend on Iowa. A big question is, as we've been talking about, will any of his opponents pounce on the frontrunners' legal trouble. We're going to talk about that after a quick break.