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Soon: Trump Leaves NJ, Heads To DC For Arraignment; Pence: Trump And "Crackpot Lawyers" Asked Me To Reject Votes On 1/6; One-On- One With Rep. Jason Crow. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 03, 2023 - 12:30   ET



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I mean, so that's what's always been the irony of this. But, look, there are many people in Trump's base, many true Trump believers, the one who are contributing to the Super PAC in small dollar donations, and large, who will never abandon him, who believe him without a doubt.

But that seven in 10 number is fascinating. But that is, in large, part to where people get their news. If you only get your news --


ZELENY: -- from a channel from a commentator, who is misleading on the facts, of course, you're going to believe that. We are not operating on the same set of facts here. If Watergate were to happen today, half the country would likely believe there was not a break in because there'd be some conspiracy. So that is what is different about this.

So it's very much unchartered territory here in terms of presidential campaign and in terms of what people believe. But as I travel around the country and talk to Republican voters who longed for a day of a Ronald Reagan conservatism, or even the George Bush conservatism or others, there are, you know, there is a fragment of the party, perhaps six and 10, who wants someone other than Donald Trump.

We'll see if anyone rises to the occasion here and challenges him here. But the Chris Christie argument and Mike Pence argument, Asa Hutchinson argument that is breaking through in a tiny sense, but Trump has a louder megaphone.

BASH: Let's -- you mentioned Mike Pence, let's look at what his statement is and what his message is after the indictment, because it was -- let's look at it and we'll talk about it afterwards.


MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's be clear on this point. It wasn't just that they asked for a pause. The president specifically asked me and his gaggle of crackpot lawyers asked me to literally reject votes to which would have resulted in the issue being turned over to the House of Representatives, and literally, chaos would have ensued. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: He's running against Donald Trump, he was his vice president, and it's not a consistent message. This is the kind of message we heard when he first announced in June, but post indictment that kind -- that Mike Pence is maybe the most sort of casual and -- the statement that he is making is clearly coming really straight from the heart.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: And Mike Pence is also mentioned multiple times in the indictment. And what's also -- and he said that message on Fox News talking about, you know, a news channel that has given sometimes an alternate reality. But what's interesting post-indictment is if you also look at the CNN polling numbers, how are those numbers going to change when for the past two years, you really had unanimity among Republicans who were either silent or supporting Trump's false claims?

How is that going to change post-indictment when there's a trial, when there is all this stuff constantly in the news, and perhaps, maybe that'll suck into the ether and people's opinions about Trump might change? Maybe that's optimistic?

BASH: I don't know. I don't know. I mean, I talk to political consultants, and they say, at least in the Republican electorate, as long as he is setting the agenda, and he's dominating the news, with something like this, it's hard for others to break through.

OK, everybody standby because on January 6, 2021, Congressman Jason Crow was inside the House chamber trying to help colleagues take cover as the violent mob broke in. He is here and will join me next.



BASH: As we wait for the former president to appear in federal court, our photojournalist Jay McMichael caught up with the current president in Delaware.


JAY MCMICHAEL, CNN PHOTOJOURNALIST: Mr. President, will you be following the arraignment today, sir?



BASH: An emphatic no there from President Biden who has been reluctant to weigh in on any of President Trump's legal battles to date. Joining me now to discuss the historic events unfolding today is Representative Jason Crow, the Democrat of Colorado. Thank you so much for joining me.

This is personal for you. We've talked about this before. Like so many other members, you were in the House chamber on January 6 2021. You feared for your life. You used your training in the United States military to help to shield and take cover from others who were there worried about the violent mob.

Is this where you expected -- I mean, I'm sure you weren't thinking anything more than that moment -- in that moment, but as you were able to digest it, is this today where you expected the Trump situation to be?

REP. JASON CROW (D), FMR. TRUMP IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: No, to give the Joe Biden answer, right? I didn't -- I haven't expected to be in any of these positions. I didn't come to Congress in 2019 thinking there would be an insurrection, thinking that I would have to defend against a violent mob on the House floor, thinking that we would have a president who not just that I disagree with politically, but it was a demagogue, really a sociopath who's capable of violence and inciting violence on his behalf to maintain power.

So I haven't really anticipated all of this --

BASH: But did you expect that he would be facing an indictment and an arraignment, like threat?

CROW: I had hoped that the legal process would bring us where it needed to bring us. Now not any predetermined outcome, because it's really important that we not look at a predetermined outcome because that's not how our legal process works.


We're being tested right now, Dana. We're being tested to see whether our rule of law, whether our democracy can withstand someone like Donald Trump and his supporters. And to pass that test, we can't be looking at predetermined outcomes. We have to apply the facts to the law and see where that takes us.

Now, I believed personally, that Donald Trump incited that mob, that he committed legal violations to do that, that he continues to scoff the law and that he should be held accountable. But with regard to this specific process, we have to let it play out.

BASH: Understand. The former Attorney General, Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr was on last night with Kaitlan Collins, and he says he has concerns about the timing of the indictment because Donald Trump is in the middle of a Republican primary race to be president. And again, he's worried about the impact it could have on the upcoming election. Do you share that concern?

CROW: Well, I'm worried about the consequences of not following the process. Think about what the -- what he's really trying to say, that politics and campaigns should bear on our legal process and our rule of law and who is and is not accountable to the law. That cannot possibly be the case in the United States of America. That's not who we are.

Who we are is a country that should equally apply the law depend -- regardless whether you're the president or anybody else for that matter. So in my view, it's the reverse is true, that we must follow the process. The Justice has to be blind in the situation, regardless of who is running.

BASH: Do you want it to be finished at least this case, in particular, January 6, before Election Day 2024?

CROW: I want it to be finished when it is finished.


CROW: Not, again, with regard to any political campaign cycle or timeline.

BASH: There is a new CNN poll out today that shows a number that's pretty stunning. 58 percent, so that's nearly six in 10 Americans do not believe elections in the United States reflect the will of the people. You are an elected official, how do we fix this?

CROW: Well, we fix it by continuing to tell the truth, by continuing to build coalitions to address the real needs of the people. And, you know, I struggled with this actually a lot the last few years. When I was sitting in the House gallery on January 6, I was sitting there, and on the other side of the door was a violent mob, trying to beat down that door to get to me and my colleagues.

In many of the folks in that mob were combat veterans, just like me. And I asked myself, how do we get to the point in our country where fellow combat veterans who raised the right hand, took the oath in good faith that were my brothers and sisters in arms, were trying to kill me?

And this is a broader challenge of our society. This is, in part, about Donald Trump, but the whole story isn't about Donald Trump. So we have to have honest conversations about who we are as a country and have reconciliation.

BASH: You say, tell the truth but then you have Trump who, again today, he's about to get in the car to come here to Washington saying, "I'm now going to Washington to be arrested for having challenged a corrupt, rigged and stolen election and it's a great honor because I'm being arrested for you", perpetuating that lie, even though and maybe because he is now facing criminal charges because of alleged conspiracies for that lie.

I hear you about the truth, but how do you penetrate with the truth when you have somebody this powerful, stirring up the lies and people are believing it?

CROW: Well, the only way you do it, as you counter it with the facts, and you're consistent, and you're focused, and you're clear-eyed, and you keep on repeating that truth. And you continue to reinvigorate institutions, democratic institutions and rule of law and legal processes that support the facts and the truth, there's really no other way to do it. And I, for one, regardless of those facts, and that troubling trends, still believe very strongly in the positive spirit of the American people. And in the vast majority, the people that I see, still want government to work for them. They want legitimate people to be in charge of their institutions. And I believe that if you provide that alternative, that we will go that way.

BASH: And Joe Biden is that alternative, you feel confident he can beat Trump because the polls show them neck and neck?

CROW: Absolutely. He's that alternative. When it is time to tell that story, elections are always contrast elections, right? It's not in isolation, it's always what are the options. The story of the economy rebounding, the very strong middle class economy that Joe Biden is building, how he's checked inflation, how a consumer confidence is up, how we passed six, six major pieces of legislation to address climate change, to restore American manufacturing.

When we start telling that story, people will certainly hear it.

BASH: Congressman Jason Crow, thank you. Nice to see you in person.

CROW: Good to see you.

BASH: At any moment now, former President Trump will leave his Bedminster golf club to head to Washington, D.C., where we are, to be arranged for a third time. We're going to bring you all the movements live just ahead. Stay with us.



BASH: Any moment now Donald Trump will depart his home in New Jersey and head to Washington for his latest arraignment. CNN's Alayna Treene is in Bedminster. Alayna, any sign of the former President as he prepares to leave?


ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Not yet, Dana. He will be passing on this road here in his motorcade shortly. I just spoke, right before I came on, spoke to a Trump adviser who said they have not yet left but already there's a lot of people here. There's helicopters circling the area, and so he will be leaving soon to head to that court appearance.

And then I also just wanted to add, Dana, there is a chance that we may hear directly from the former president today. I'm told that immediately after his 4:00 p.m. court appearance, he's going to be heading back to the airport. He may speak with reporters before getting back on his plane and then heading back to New Jersey where he'll stay the night.

BASH: Alayna, thank you. And once Donald Trump is wills up, it will be a short flight here to Washington to Reagan National Airport. CNN's Kristen Holmes is nearby. Kristen, you will be traveling in the Trump motorcade to the courthouse from the airport. What will the next few hours look like for the former president?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dana. So we expect him to land just behind me at Reagan airport in Washington, D.C. We know he is traveling with his lawyers, Todd Blanche and John Lauro, as well as some of his closest political advisers, Jason Miller, Susie Wiles, Chris LaCivita. They will land here and they will be met by a small press pool that I will be a part of. We'll take that motorcade down to the courthouse.

Now I'm told by a number of aides, they do not believe this is going to be a lengthy the time that he spends at the courthouse. That will be behind closed doors. And as of now, we are told, he's only going to be accompanied by his lawyers, but that might change.

Now, as Alayna mentioned, he wants to leave almost immediately after he does that appearance. So they will be coming immediately back here to the airport in that motorcade. And we do anticipate the possibility of some remarks, all going to depend on how that arraignment actually goes.

As it always is, with the former president, it is up to him if he wants to actually talk to the press. But given what we have seen, Dana, at all of these arrangements, the other two, he wants to create his own narrative. This is something his campaign feels strongly about. They want to have all of the control over the images of the day.

That is why he goes to these off the record stops at different locations after these indictments because that's where they're getting their pictures from for that day. We know that he's carried videographers with them before on these trips. It's been the narrative that way to use the footage for campaign ads.

So if I were a betting woman, Dana, I would bet that we're going to hear from the former president today and we'll just have to wait and see.

BASH: I think that you can be a betting woman today. Kristen, thank you so much for that.

And hundreds of Donald Trump supporters have appeared in the very D.C. courthouse that the former president will come -- will be coming to. They have appeared and many have been convicted for their actions in and around January 6. We're going to talk more about that and about this arraign this arraignment in this case, in general, with our panel here.

Seung Min, I want to play for you another part of Kaitlan Collins interview with Bill Barr tonight, because -- last night -- because he tries to poke a hole in one of the major Republican talking points about the DOJ being weaponized against Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: As a legal matter, I don't see a problem with the indictment. I think that it's not an abuse, the Department of Justice is not acting to weaponize the department by proceeding against the president for a conspiracy to subvert the electoral electoral process.


BASH: I'm guessing you don't expect all the Republicans to be rewriting their talking points and their statements?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I just feel that if we had had this conversation, you know, seven or 10 years ago, and if you were telling me that the Republican Party would be the party, that would be demonizing the DOJ, the FBI, law enforcement officials, it would be shocking, I think, to a lot of us.

But I think that's kind of the power, again, that we discussed earlier, the power that Donald Trump has had over Republican Party officials and Republican Party voters to make them convinced and make them act on what he wants them to act. So we're going to see, you know, we're going to see more actions from the congressional front in terms of in terms of continuing to really kind of demonize the FBI and the DOJ.

And then conversely, I think, in some way, if people feel that this will also bolster the prospects that President Biden himself gets impeached by -- or launches the impeachment inquiry by the House Republicans.

BASH: What are your thoughts on hearing the former Attorney General saying that this is not evidence of the DOJ being weaponized against Republicans?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, again, he's in a tough spot, right? He has been the Attorney General twice. And as much as he may want to embrace the current Republican talking points, he can because he knows better. He knows the men and women, the professionals, the career prosecutors and analysts and folks who work in that building and their colleagues across the street in the FBI.


He knows how cases are brought, that they're not brought on politics, they're brought based on evidence and information. He knows the thresholds that we must reach before we even open a case. And he can read the indictment. And that indictment speaks for itself.

It's based on tangible, verifiable fact. The charges are reasonable and appropriate. And he knows that as a professional. So he's got to come out and acknowledge the legal legitimacy of what's happening here. And that intrinsically undermines the Republican political charges of weaponization, and all this other nonsense.

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And even in his, you know, his professional capacity, he's lived through having these moments when he's in the room where it happened, when he's having to go toe to toe with the former president, when he was then-president to talk about the campaign to try to undermine or try to get information from secretaries of state and beyond.

And so he's well aware, whose own personal history about what it's like to try to either convince, persuade or even believe that which is not credible. But it's also the interesting talking point, you know, I have been a prosecutor, I will be the first to tell you, yes, when it comes to the justice system, there is a divide between the haves and the have nots.

You can walk into any courthouse in America and find people who are of extraordinary means having a very different experience and those who are not have extraordinary means or any means. But the conflation of this notion of these two-tiered justice system, only applicable if your person is the one who is now going to be held to account is just not a fair or accurate assessment of it.

And I think it's really disingenuous to have a talking point that suggests that this is a continuation of what the rest of the nation has been talking about, about injustices in our system of justice. But this is part of a valuable talking point that's going to be used continuous because it has legs and it has not been on done quite yet.

BASH: I want to go back to something that the former president put on his social media platform within the last hour. And it's just the one sense. I need one more indictment to ensure my election. That says it all.

ZELENY: It does say at all. And look, he's right about one thing. This is politicized, because he is politicizing it. For all we do not know about what is going to transpire over the next a year to 15 months. One thing we do know, as you were just saying about that there's a greater likelihood of impeachment proceedings against President Biden.

We know that the next year plus, more than that, is going to be a very tumultuous time politically in this country. Democracy is very strong and resilient. So, but it's going to be tested in ways that I think it even hasn't been tested yet. Because the former president is making the campaign the courtroom part of his reelection effort.

And don't forget, he announced last year early, so he would be a candidate at this normally. But Bill Barr said something else interesting last night, I'm in that great interview with Kaitlan Collins. He said that before that Manhattan indictment, Trump was flagging, and was sagging in the polls and in fundraising, that is true, but of March.

So that's how he has risen. But it's because of the reaction or lack thereof, from Republicans who have brought him to this point. So we just have to buckle up, sit down and watch this unfold. But we do know that now all of this is unfortunately linked.

BASH: It is kind of a good moment to take a step back and remember that we are at a point where you have a former president, a front runner for the Republican nomination to be president again, is about to go in to a federal courthouse for a second federal indictment, third indictment and as many months. And he has seen this as and use this successfully so far as a political bonus. I mean, it's just what?

COATES: I mean, who had on it -- I mean, I'm not a strategist, but can you imagine the bingo card and someone said, wait a second. If only there was something you could use against your opponent, twice impeached, three times indicted, if there was only something I could use that would actually make sense to get the person, they can seize on and they can't capitalize on it. And you're seeing, in many respects, the strength of his political resilience as a result.

BASH: Ye, and it is definitely a big question about what it means for nothing short of democracy

Everybody, thank you so much. Thank you for joining Inside Politics. CNN special coverage of the federal arraignment of Donald Trump with Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett begins right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We're on the verge right now of another historic arrest and arraignment. I'm joined by my colleague, Erin Burnett, she's in New York. I'd like to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

Just a short time from now, Donald Trump will be arrested and arraigned for the third time. In minutes, the former president of the United States heads to Newark Airport in New Jersey.