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Trump Co-Defendant Makes Court Appearance; Judge Rejects Trump Bid To Halt Fulton County Case; Trump: "I Never Told Anybody To Delete" Security Footage; Trump Relies On Donors To Pay Legal Bills; Source: Trump PAC Spends $40+ Million On Legal Bills; Trump: "They're Not Indicting Me, They're Indicting You"; New Poll Shows Trump Leads DeSantis By 37 Points; Poll: 58 Percent Voters Think Trump More Electable Than DeSantis. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 31, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, more problems, more money. Donald Trump's donors' foot an enormous legal bill. And the Trump coconspirator accused of trying to destroy evidence for the boss, sees the inside of a federal court.

Plus, the polls. All of them. All for Donald Trump. Republican voters fall in line behind the frontrunner as Ron DeSantis' reasons for running appear to fall flat and the president corrects how he counts. Joe Biden acknowledges his seventh grandchild for the first time and now he hopes it returns to being a private matter.

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

Up first, saving America or saving his skin. Today, we see on paper just how much money from donors Donald Trump spent on legal bills. Sources put that number north of $40 million for his own defense and the defense of those who are sticking with him.

This morning, CNN cameras captured the glimpse of one of those individuals Carlos de Oliveira. The man federal prosecutors say schemed with Mr. Trump and Walt Nauta to shield evidence from federal investigators. The Mar-a-Lago property manager made his first appearance inside of federal court.

And we're going to start there in South Florida, where CNN's Randi Kaye is posted. So, what did we see this morning, Randi?

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana. This was our first look at Carlos de Oliveira, as he entered into the courthouse here. Just behind me, he was wearing a navy-blue suit and a tie. He went inside with his lawyer John Irving, who was here from Washington, D.C.

When he stood at the lectern to address the judge. He said, good morning. And then the judge proceeded to lay out the charges that he is facing. He said he understood the charges. He said he understood that he had a right to remain silent and speak to a lawyer. Then they went on to talk about a bond. The judge went on to set a $100,000 what they call a personal signature bond, so he doesn't have to pay it, but he doesn't have to stay behind bars right now. He was also asked, Dana, about a passport. He says that -- he said he does have a U.S. passport, but it's expired.

Still, the judge told him that he had to turn that over within 48 hours. He was also told he can't leave South Florida without permission, the area of South Florida. And then he was also given a witness list of the list of government witnesses, and he was informed that he cannot speak to any of those witnesses that are on that, that have been identified as witnesses for the government.

I can't tell you he did not enter a plea that will take place on August 10. There is going to be an actual arraignment on August 10 in Fort Pierce, Florida. He did not have a Florida barred attorney, which means he couldn't enter play. He needs somebody who can practice law in the state of Florida to do that. So that will happen on August 10.

And of course, Dana, all lives are watching this because as we know his case is now pushed back. His arraignment is pushed back, which could impact Donald Trump's case when it comes to the Mar-a-Lago documents, and that we, of course, want to see whether or not he would go to trial before election day. That's certainly something a lot of people are watching, Dana?

BASH: Randi, thank you so much. Not having an attorney present, delaying things that sounds pretty familiar at this point in terms of tactics. Again, thanks Randi. Also, today a nine-page dressing down from a judge to Donald Trump's legal team. An Atlanta judge told Mr. Trump that he will not intervene in any way. Right now, admonishing Trump's lawyers for asking that he play a "guessing game."

CNN's Sara Murray is in Atlanta. So, Sara, explain more what this ruling was and what it means.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it really is a smackdown from Fulton County Judge Robert McBurney. Trump's team wanted district attorney Fani Willis disqualified from overseeing this case. And they also wanted all the evidence, the special grand jury collected. So, interviews with more than 75 witnesses, documents, et cetera, thrown out.

And McBurney is making clear in this ruling that he is not going to do that. Here's a portion of what he wrote. He said, while being the subject or even target of a highly publicized criminal investigation is likely an unwelcome and unpleasant experience, no court has ever held that that status alone provides a basis for the courts to interfere with or halt the investigation.


Now, part of the Trump team, Bush (Ph) is also trying to get McBurney tossed off this case, the judge who ruled today. Another judge had set a hearing on August 10 on that matter. So, we'll see if that hearing goes forward or if this is just the final word we get before we head into potential indictment. Dana?

BASH: Yes. And that is, of course, the obvious question. Any tea leaves that you're able to read down there in Georgia about when and if that could happen?

MURRAY: Well, we're officially in the window for when she could potentially announce indictments, security precautions are already being taken. I still think we're probably more like a week or two away rather than a day or two away. But our affiliate here in Georgia caught up with Fani Willis over the weekend at a back-to-school event. And she was very clear that even though people may not like the decisions she's come to at the end of this investigation, she's ready to go. Take a listen.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Some people may not be happy with the decisions that we're making. And sometimes when people are unhappy, they act in a way that could create harm. The work is accomplished. And we've been working for two and a half years, we're ready to go.


MURRAY: And again, Willis still not tipping her hand on whether she plans to charge former President Donald Trump, or his allies, or all of them together, but we should get an answer to that in the coming weeks. Dana?

BASH: OK. Thank you so much, Sara Murray for that reporting. And here with me, CNN's Evan Perez, CNN's Kristen Holmes, and former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams. Happy Monday, one and all. Evan, am I being too cynical in my expression of skepticism that de Oliveira went down there without a Florida based attorney. What maybe wasn't an accident because it automatically delays things?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is very hard to find lawyers in Florida, very difficult things. We saw Walt Nauta, you know, eat up, essentially a month. In between the indictment and the time by which he was finally brought for arraignment. And today, the judge pushed back when de Oliveira's attorney asked for a hearing sometime at the end of August. And he said no, let's work on August 10.

So, every day of delay counts, every bit of it will add up and the foreign president's overall goal is made it very clear is to have this happen until, you know, wait till after the election to actually go to trial. So, we'll see whether the judge, Judge Cannon is going to be tolerant of this, but we know what the strategy is.

BASH: And inside the substance of this is, of course, what we learned late last week about the superseding indictment, alleging that the former president had this individual -- wanted this individual to delete security fake footage that showed that he allegedly had documents that he wasn't supposed to have over the weekend. Actually yesterday, the former president did one of those all-caps posts. Mar- a-Lago security tapes were not deleted. I never told anybody to delete them. Decode that in legal speak.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you're wrong in legal speak, because he's saying that -- he seems to be saying that because the act of deletion wasn't completed, there's no crime. What the charges say is that number one, inducing another person to obstruct justice to delete footage is itself a crime. And also, conspiring with others to obstruct justice in the form of deleting video footage is a crime.

You don't have to have actually deleted the footage. But if I say to you, go delete that footage so that law enforcement can't have access to it. And then you take steps toward doing that, that's a crime, even if the footage doesn't get deleted.

BASH: What if he doesn't say it explicitly? What if he says, it in a subtle way that the people who know him know what he's saying.

WILLIAMS: It's harder to prove, but it's certainly provable in court? And clearly, they appear to have a witness that's Trump employee number four. And as listed in the indictment, who seems to be ready to testify that no, we understood fully what the president was asking us to do.

BASH: So, Kristen, you had some reporting over the weekend about how the former president is paying for not only his legal fees, but maybe more importantly, the legal fees of those like the aide who went into the courthouse in Florida today, talking about the legal defense fund that he is creating.

But it is really striking that separate from the legal defense fund, how much money political donors have given to his political campaign and how much of that he has used to help keep him himself and the people around him out of jail.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Actually, that number has gone up in terms of the structure that they had for fundraising. Remember at the beginning of the campaign, they were donating, you know, of the dollar one percent went to the Save America PAC, which is what puts these legal bills, and 99 percent of the dollar went to the campaign.


Then quietly they change the fundraising structure, so that 10 percent went to Save America PAC and 90 percent went to the campaign. That's actually a big number there. Now, I will say when I talk to their political advisors, they say these donors know what they're getting into. They know Donald Trump. They know he has legal issues. They know that this money could be going towards that.

BASH: And it's not illegal?

HOLMES: Right. It's not illegal. And he they don't think it's going to necessarily dry up because all of a sudden, we're going to be outraged learning that this is going towards some of these legal bills. But $40 million is an enormous amount of money. And again, this isn't just for his bills, but it's also all of these associates, these various investigations essentially got swept up in this and talk about this Mar-a-Lago case, and you just mentioned this, both of his co-defendants have lawyers who've been paid enormous amounts of money from the Save America PAC. I mean, that is what they are footing the bill with here.

PEREZ: The prosecutors noticed that right on page 31, of the superseding indictment, they mention, you know, this signal, encrypted text chain, where people are wondering whether Carlos de Oliveira is actually loyal. And they described -- the prosecutors described that the former president gets on the phone with de Oliveira, and says, you know, I'm going to pay for your lawyer.

So clearly, prosecutors are paying attention. They did not charge it in that document in the new indictment, but you can tell that there it is something that's on their mind, it's probably something that they can bring up a trial. And the question is, is it something that they want to charge perhaps, in the new indictment.

BASH: And it's so mind bending, the sort of layers to this. And by that, I mean that, so we're talking about the former president using political donations for the defense fund. We were talking among our team this morning, about the fact that, if you layer that on top of the notion that the special counsel, part of what they're looking at is whether or not the, I guess, post candidate Donald Trump was trying to get donors to give -- to push an election lie, knowing that it was a lie.

WILLIAMS: All right. That second part is if he is misrepresenting how he is using people's money, that itself can be a crime in the form of mail fraud or wire fraud. If you say, I am going to use this money to pay for a campaign bus, and then you use it to pay for lawyers, then of course, and once you click send on that email becomes wire fraud. Now, again, this is to Kristen's point, it's not illegal, because people kind of know what they're getting into but there is that fine line.

BASH: OK. So, let's -- because we can't say this enough, we say this all the time, but people might get sick of it, but we're going to say it over and over again. Trump legal, Trump political, completely and totally intertwined. And that was evident again, listening to the former president on the campaign trail over the weekend in Erie, Pennsylvania.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Eating Biden by a lot, and they want to try and demean and hurt us, all of us. You know, they're not indicting me. They're indicting you. I just happened to be standing in their way. That's all it is.


BASH: It's not about me, it's about all of you. That is probably one of his most potent arguments as you go around with him, isn't it? HOLMES: It is, and it works. I mean, when we look at these different various cases, these different investigations and compare that to what's going on in the House with Hunter Biden and those investigations, we see clear differences when Donald Trump stands up there and faces the crowd. And he outlines these things as fundamentally unfair, and one person is getting a plea deal, and I'm not getting a plea deal.

People in the audience believe what he is saying. They are looking at this at face value. They're not looking at the nuance of what these investigations mean, and people are angry. And there's always been a little bit of resentment when it comes to Republicans and this feeling of the deep state or that these elitists are out to get them. But it's been intensified with Donald Trump, as we obviously saw in 2016. And even more intensified as these investigations have continued.

BASH: OK. Thank you so much, everybody for your reporting and your insight. Up next. New data to support the current Republican reality. It is Donald Trump, and then everyone else way behind. Stay with us.




BASH: Moments ago, Ron DeSantis out on the trail, tried to introduce a new policy plan that he hopes voters will use to take a second look at him.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot be satisfied with simply managing this decline a little bit better than the Democrats. The elites in this country have failed. Time and again, they've imposed policies that have proven short sighted and have proven counterproductive.


BASH: That is part of DeSantis' moved to rollout a new economic plan today. He does it as he finds himself looking way up at Donald Trump. Do national poll numbers show more than half of likely Republican primary voters, say the former president is their first choice, that is 37 points. 37 points ahead of Ron DeSantis, who is again hoping to regain momentum as he falls further behind Trump and closer to the rest of the Republican pack. The Florida governor is at 17 percent, the next five highest polling candidates trail in the single digits.

Joining me now is CNN's Manu Raju, Laura Barron-Lopez of the PBS NewsHour, and Kristen Holmes is still at the table. I mean, those numbers are absolutely striking.

HOLMES: They are, and when you look at what Donald Trump is facing in terms of these legal issues that continue to mount. It this is what is keeping them going and keeping them in the fight, and also really giving them the momentum to continue to say that this is election interference and that this is going to affect the 2024 election.


I mean, he is the frontrunner, and he remains the frontrunner. And that is why they feel like they have the kind of wind under their sails, even though obviously this is draining them financially. They do not want to be spending their time on this. But when you see those numbers, they feel like they have the backing at least of a majority of the Republican Party right now, so that they can say that this is going to impact the election.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And look, it just underscores that no one has figured out how to take on Donald Trump. I mean, Ron DeSantis, for so much of his campaign has tried to run to Donald Trump's right, but there just really is not much room to run Donald Trump's right. A lot of voters supported him because they liked his policies.

But the argument that has not been really made effectively by the opponents is the electability argument. And that is what really concerns so many Republican voters that Donald Trump could get nominated and then lose the general election costs of the house, cost of the Senate, who they're not making that argument effectively.

And there's hardly any discussion about all the ammunition that could be in -- that are in these indictments to go after Trump. And said, they're siding with Trump's argument that he is being unfairly targeted here. So, you're just seeing an uncertainty among the Republican field about how to go after?

BASH: I'm glad that you brought up that electability question because that is one of the many data points inside this poll, the cross tabs as they, like to say in the biz. That kind of is surprising, because if you look at get things done, OK, you see the 67 percent for Trump, DeSantis 22 percent able to beat Joe Biden that's electability. 58 percent of Republicans say, he can beat Joe Biden when the next person behind him, way behind him, 30 points behind him is Ron DeSantis.

Also, by the way, just keep that up there fun. Because why not, 54 percent and DeSantis only 16 percent, think that he's fun, but it's the electability and all seriousness, that is the key question for a lot of Republicans. And the people in this poll say, we think you'll beat him.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Yes. The Republican voters think that Trump would be great in a rematch against President Biden. Despite the fact that Ron DeSantis is really trying to and other Republicans that are running against the former president are trying to say that he can't possibly beat Biden with all of these legal issues and this legal peril looming over him.

But one thing I think that was also striking in the poll, Dana, was the fact that when they -- when voters were asked, when Republican voters were asked, do you want a candidate who will go after corporations who practice "woke ideology?" Or do you want a candidate who will not exert government control over corporations? Republican voters sided with the latter. They didn't want that at all, which shows why DeSantis' entire message up until this point has not been resonating or helping him.

BASH: Which is traditionally the way Republicans operate and has been one of the -- sort of dividing lines within this field, right? You have the DeSantis, mostly DeSantis saying, I'm going to use government to further Republican cultural ideals. And then you have other saying, no, no, no. I mean, there are fewer others. But no, that's not what Republicans do.

We keep government out of your lives, even if it's for things that that we don't like. I just want to pull up another number, and it is just the Trump leading DeSantis by 31 percent. If this isn't a one-on- one race, again, Trump 62 percent, DeSantis 31 percent. And that's interesting, because of the Mitt Romney, Chris Sununu argument, which is everybody needs to clear the field. Get out and let this be a one- on-one matchup. If it were to Ron DeSantis, right now, it is early, but right now, he doesn't even come close.

RAJU: Yes. I mean, that's though it was a pretty striking number in that poll, because that has been the argument all along that this should be a one-on-one race. But you're right, there is we shouldn't lose sight of that key fact. We have a long time. We have five months of the Iowa caucuses. There are debates that are going to happen, advertising on TV is going to pick up.

We'll see what ultimately comes out of the potential January 6 indictment, the Mar-a-Lago in the new evidence seems to be coming out in the Mar-a-Lago case will that hurt him politically, we'll see. But there's just a lot of time left to shake up this field. But that New York Times poll notes that no one has edited, believe that large has eventually lost it. So that's one thing.

BASH: We've to take a quick break. I just want to read this one quote, from a voter who was part of the New York Times poll. David Greene, who was from New Hampshire. Trump might say mean things and make all men cry because all the men are wearing your wife's underpants and you can't be a man anymore.

You got to be a little sissy and cry about everything. But at the end of the day, you want results. Donald Trump's my guy. He proved it on a national level. That quote spoke to so many things, I'm sure you hear on the campaign trail at the time.

HOLMES: Well, that's absolutely right. And honestly, this is exactly what we heard in 2016. And this is now exactly we're still hearing. They want somebody who is going to be a fighter, who they believe is going to take on this establishment as we just talked about in the last segment. I mean, they want somebody they think who's going to go up there and name call. You have all these candidates, not wanting to do that and then they're saying that Donald Trump's the only one who can.


BASH: Coming up President Biden acknowledges for the first time that he is not six but seven grandchildren. What prompted the public admission, details next?


BASH: Fridays are the days and the nights when politicians play headlines, they would prefer the world not see. So, you decide what President Biden intended by announcing after 5pm on Friday.