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This Afternoon: Trump Legal Team Faces Deadline; Atty: Trump Asked In "Aspirational Way" For Pence To Break Law; Lauro: "Technical Violation" Of Constitution Isn't A Crime; Pence On CNN: Trump "Wrong" That I Had Right To Reject Votes; Street Closed Near GA Courthouse As Charging Decision Nears; DeSantis On 2020: "Of Course," Trump Lost; Trump's Rivals Court Iowa Voters, Ignore Indictment; Christie: Trump Will Talk About Himself, Not Biden; Biden Heads West This Week To Sell Bidenomics. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 07, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, law and disorder. Donald Trump faces a 5pm deadline to fight a Justice Department request. The former president claims it's an attempt to shut him up. Prosecutors say, it's to stop the defense from bullying witnesses into silence.

Plus, seeing is believing. Joe Biden heads west to literally point to progress. It's part of his plan to make Americans feel and see how Bidenomics is changing their lives for the better. And a woke up call. New polling suggests, a red meat term is now overcooked, even among Republicans with plenty of appetite for owning the left.

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

Up first, looming legal deadline. The Trump legal team has until the close of business today to respond to a Justice Department demand for a protective order. The order would restrict what Mr. Trump can say about what evidence prosecutors turnover.

Let's start with CNN's Katelyn Polantz. Katelyn, what are you hearing?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Dana, this is a typical provision. It's called a protective order. And that's what Donald Trump and the Justice Department are fighting over now. And a judge is going to have to figure out what to do here. This is one of the things that happens very early in nearly every criminal case. And essentially, the Justice Department wants something like this to protect the integrity of the trial. So, the trial doesn't take place before the actual trial begins in court before juries.

And so right now, what is being fought over is whether or not there can be a nondisclosure provision placed over all of the evidence that the prosecutors have to give to Donald Trump's defense team, so that they can get ready for trial.

And the fight right now seems to be sort of a meta fight over timing, because Donald Trump's team is saying publicly and in court already that they want to go to trial as quickly as possible, but they're refusing to come to some sort of terms with the Justice Department on one of these nondisclosure provisions, a protective order.

And so, the judge has moved pretty fast here. Judge Tanya Chutkan has set this deadline for 5pm today, for Donald Trump's team to respond to the Justice Department. Here Trump too is on social media essentially saying, he's going to oppose this. We have to wait and see what his lawyers are going to say in court.

He's writing. No, I shouldn't have a protective order placed on me because it would impinge upon my right to free speech. Deranged Jack Smith, a special counsel and the department of injustice should, however, because they are illegally leaking all over the place. That's Trump on social media.

Now, calling this a free speech issue is extremely reductive. This is not a gag order. It's pretty typical in cases like this. Even Steve Bannon, his aide to him had something like this in his own criminal case.

BASH: Oh, that's important context. Thank you for that Katelyn, appreciate it. And here at the table is CNN's Paula Reid, former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams, and former Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe. Elliot, you just heard Katelyn say that this is not a proposal for a gag order, which means you can't speak at all.

Protective order is, my understanding you obviously, you're all attorneys, but you're somebody who've done this -- you've done this in court is pretty standard. Talk about the dynamics, and frankly, the posturing that's going on right now.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Big, big, big difference between those things. A gag order is where you in effect silence a defendant or a party in a case where a witness about talking about the case publicly for whatever reason, judges hate doing that. But that's not what this is here.

A protective order governs how evidence that the prosecution has in its possession gets handled. They have to turn it over to the defense prior to trial. What does the defense do with it? Can the defense show it to other people? Where can the defense view it? How can the defense view it? Who has access to it? That's a protective order.

The judge will hammer out all of that. This is on her and I'm really curious to see how quickly she comes rolling on it. She's probably doing research on it right now with her folks and could issue a ruling pretty quickly, I think.


BASH: Paula, what are you hearing from your sources?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're questions about exactly how this was handled, right? I mean this request came in late on a Friday. There's some people in the Trump camp suggested that it was really Jack Smith just being upset about the social media posts. But that is a well-founded concern, right? We know the former president has weaponized his social media.

BASH: I don't mean to interrupt you. But as you're talking, I just want to put up for our viewers exactly what you're talking about. When you talk about the social media post. This was in the request, if you go after me, I'm coming after you. That's what Donald Trump posted. Go ahead.

REID: So, you filed something really (Inaudible), a request like this late on a Friday afternoon. As we know, judges, they don't tend to work on summer, summer Fridays, so you're not going to get an answer. So, there's some suggestion inside the Trump camp, that they will really just upset about the social media posts, which also feeds into this narrative.

They're arguing that there's somehow this effort to infringe on Trump's free speech. But that's not what they're getting at here. I mean, they want to make sure that if he reads a sensitive part of a grand jury interview, or some other key piece of evidence that he's not going to throw it up there on social media.

Now, as I was told, usually, this is handled more on a piece-by-piece, evidence-by-evidence basis, as opposed to one blanket order. But this is certainly not a gag order, and no one is fringing on his first amendment.

BASH: So, this is the first sort of the opening salvo, and I think maybe it'll set the table for how the judge handles both sides. But let's look at the big picture of this case. I spoke with John Lauro, who's one of the former president's attorneys. And specifically, was talking to him about the allegation in the indictment about what the former president asked his vice president to do, which was completely send back the slate of electors, at least initially, and then eventually to put a pause. Listen to the way he described it.


JOHN LAURO, TRUMP ATTORNEY: What President Trump did not do is direct Vice President Pence to do anything. He asked him in an aspirational way, asking is covered by the first amendment.


BASH: Can you talk about that term aspirational? And is that a legal thing?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No. It's not. I mean, in any -- let's take this to the employment law context, right? When your boss asks you to do something, and that's coming from your boss, that's more than an ask. It carries the -- it carries the significance. It can carry the significance of coercion and influence, right? We know this from decades and decades of employment law. This is like the most obvious employment situation. Your boss is the leader of the country (Ph).

BASH: Your choosing employment because Donald Trump was Mike Pence's boss. MCCABE: Exactly, exactly. So, it's not an ask, is not just an ask. At law, if it's comes from someone who has power and authority over you that's uniformly recognized as a different thing. But put that aside, what Donald Trump has been accused of doing is conspiring to defraud the government, conspiring to obstruct that official proceeding.

So, he's not being charged to because specifically, he asked they had this one conversation. Those conversations are evidence of the agreement and the effort that he put in with his coconspirators, allegedly, to defraud the government, and to obstruct an official proceeding and to deny proximately 80 million Americans their right to have their votes counted.

BASH: And yet, it is a window into the defense that we are likely to see during this trial. Another window into that John Lauro did all the rounds. We did every Sunday show yesterday. This is another thing that he said with regard to violating the constitution.


LAURO: He never said, no, that's wrong, that's wrong. A technical violation of the constitution is not a violation of criminal law. That's just plain wrong. And to say that is contrary to decade of legal statute.


REID: A technical violation of the constitution, I'm not sure exactly what he is referring to there. But what they lay out in the indictment, is that this alleged conspiracy right, to completely undermine the democratic process. It's not a technical violation of the constitution. It's a pressure campaign built on states, on his own vice president, on his own Justice Department. This is not a "technical violation of the constitution." So, I'm not sure that's going to be John Lauro's strongest defense.

WILLIAMS: Yes. I think what they're getting at it sort of reading between the lines is that the constitution doesn't set a lot of rules. It sort of sets out broad principles. And says, well, we have the electoral system where states will each have votes on presidents, but it doesn't lay out the mechanics of things will happen on December 14, and June 6, and so on.

I think he's saying that because the president was tinkering with that, none of that's expressly prohibited by the constitution. So, it's just a technical violation. To Paula's point, it's just a little confusing where they're going with it but.


MCCABE: And those counts aren't counts of violating the constitution. They are counts of violating U.S. federal criminal laws, 18 U.S.C. 371. I mean there, he is conflating the two to try to say, look it was a trivial argument about dates, about just postponing the count from this day to that day. Well, it's not trivial. But that's not actually what he's been charged. He charges violating law. WILLIAMS: You know, both of this and the aspirational thing it was at the heart of their defense is going to be, we were bouncing ideas around. We were just testing things out and this was where we landed.

MCCABE: Absolutely.

BASH: You know, where they were trying to test things out with the vice president. Let's listen to what he told me yesterday.


MIKE PENCE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What the president was convinced, it seemed to me in December was that I had some right to reject or return electoral votes. I don't know what was in his heart. I don't know what his intentions were. But I do know what he and his lawyers asked me to do. What I want the American people to know is that President Trump was wrong then and he's wrong now, that I had no right to overturn the election, I had no right to reject or return votes.


Bash: He suggested to me that he would be a witness, he said, you know, he would do his duty. And John Lauro on another network said, that he thinks Mike Pence would be one of their best witnesses at a trial.

REID: Well clearly, he's speaking to an audience of one suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence would be their best witness at a trial. It would be extraordinary to have the former vice president take the stand and talk about this pressure campaign that he faced, right, almost every conversation he had with the former president between the time of the actual election day and January 6 of his peers that this issue came up, even on Christmas Day up until January 6 itself. That would be truly extraordinary if Pence took the stand, and he would be an incredibly valuable witness.

BASH: OK. Now, we're going to go to one of the other investigations into the former presidency, and it's Nick Valencia is in Atlanta. Nick, you're seeing some new signs. Fulton County is preparing for an indictment against Mr. Trump. What do you think?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Security preparations have really ramped up here, Dana. In the course of last several weeks, they've been putting up metal barricades here. We understand some of these plastic barricades that they put up they filled with water to make them harder to move. And of course, part of these ramped up security preparations have to do with the countless threats that the Fulton County D.A. has received.

Since leading this investigation, over the course of last year some of those threats Fani Willis says, have been credible. She's spoken about it publicly saying that she's needed to change her own personal security detail. Of course, the rhetoric coming from the former president does not help that. He's called Fani Willis a racist. He said that this investigation is politically motivated. And now we're seeing road closures around Fulton County Courthouse, Pryor Street, this road right in front of the courthouse has been shut down. I mentioned those barricades. We're seeing a heavier than normal police presence. And the results of this letter that Fani Willis send to law enforcement agencies around Fulton County, telling them to be prepared for the potential of an indictment to happen anytime between now and the end of the month or September 1.

There is two currently, two grand jury is seated here in Fulton County. One of them is going to be tasked with hearing the evidence gathered by the special purpose grand jury. Remember Dana, they handed over their charging recommendations in February. It will be that evidence that the grand jury looks at to decide whether or not indictments will be leveled here, and Trump will be arrested and indicted for the fourth time. Dana?

BASH: Nick, thank you so much for that report. And up next, 2024 GOP hopefuls not named Trump are trying to focus on anything other than the indictments of the current frontrunner. We're going to show you what is happening on the campaign trail after a quick break.




BASH: Mark your calendar, day 930 of the Biden presidency and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just said point blank, Donald Trump lost the 2020 election.


DASHA BURNS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes or no. Did Donald Trump lose the 2020 election?

GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whoever puts their hand on the Bible on January 20 at every four years, is the winner.

BURNS: If you can't give a yes or no one or not Trump loss, then how -- -

GOV. DESANTIS: Of course, no. Of course, he lost.

BURNS: Trump loss the 2020.

GOV. DESANTIS: Of course, Joe Biden is the president.


BASH: But for years, literally years, DeSantis danced around questions on Trump's 2020 election lies, but apparently, as you heard that's changing in his campaign. That reset is continuing to take shape. Still, the Florida Republican made no mention of the 2024 frontrunner at a campaign event in Iowa yesterday. Neither did Asa Hutchinson, the Vivek Ramaswamy, nor North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, all of whom attended a barbecue fundraiser.

Nikki Haley referenced Trump but only anecdotally. If you listen to their pitches, what they're trying to tell voters. It is as if Trump's third indictment never happened.


GOV. DESANTIS: The state of Florida stood as a refuge of sanity as a citadel of freedom.

ASA HUTCHINSON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand the rule of law and the importance of it.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you want incremental reform? Or do you want revolution?

GOV. DOUG BURGUM, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're taking mass casualties because of our open border.

NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of these issues are big issues. But if we don't have national security, none of it matters.


BASH: Here to share their reporting and insights, CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Rhonda Colvin of The Washington Post, and Margaret Talev of Axios. Nice to see you all. Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Jeff, you're on the campaign trail a lot. And we just think it's important to show viewers what voters in these early states are hearing. And, you know, it's probably not surprising that at a cattle call like that, that they're trying to kind of put the issues forward. It's nice to hear them talking about the issues.


Are they getting any traction with what they're talking about? I mean, we know we don't see them in the polls, but when you talk to the voters. What are you hearing?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think you. So, I mean there is still a sense that the market is wide open among Republican voters for at least half the party, of course not for all of the party, at least half is going with Donald Trump at this point.

But as we've seen in poll-after-poll, at least six in 10 Republicans or about six and 10 Republicans are at least very interested or open to going a new direction. So, I do think that we have to be slightly patient and watch the campaign play out. These candidates now are introducing themselves.

They are trying to get some semblance of traction, but it's very hard with Donald Trump in the race, not only that he's in the race, even if he was in the race without all these indictments. But it's even harder with the indictments in the investigation because the candidates don't want to talk about that. But Governor DeSantis they're finally being asked. And finally answering that question. I think is a bit of an acknowledgment. Most Republican voters I talked to except perhaps very hardcore, true believers. They all believe that, that the Joe Biden won the election as the president.

Yes, there were some issues, perhaps. But there's, I think he was just sort of catching up to reality there. But yet polls show that many Republicans have questions and about Biden's legitimacy -- -

BASH: More than the majority.

ZELENY: But that doesn't necessarily mean that they think that he lost the election. I think there's some gray space in there.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS: Yes. I think that's right. And I think DeSantis sort of proves the adage that, you know, it's easier to take risks when you have nothing to lose, like he's seen himself, you know, be stuck in so far behind in this number two spot, that this is a risk we're taking, especially he's got some pressure from donors saying, you know, you got to move your numbers.

What I think this has the potential to do as the potential to bring some of the other Republican rivals into the fold to also say, we all know that Donald Trump didn't win the election and the Joe Biden won it. You've had a couple so far, right? There's been like sort of a Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson block, and then you have others who just don't want to talk about it.

And if by being more openly, like let's just say the truth out loud, if DeSantis ends up moving the needle, and making it so that all of the rest of the Republican field is saying it, that could change the dynamic, no sign yet.

BASH: No, no. I'm shaking my head. As you're talking, I'm just thinking to myself, your points are absolutely dead on. But how are we talking about this? Are they 930 of the Biden presidency? And the answer we know is because Donald Trump keeps talking about it. And that was an interesting point that one of his other opponents who doesn't go to Iowa because he's not competing there.

Chris Christie said to me on State of the Union yesterday pretty much unprompted. Listen to this.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president wanted what happened to happen. He sat, ate his overdone hamburger in the White House dining room, he has off the Oval Office and enjoyed watching what was going on. The bigger lie now is that Donald Trump says he's doing this for us. If Donald Trump's the nominee, he'll be talking about Donald Trump rather than Joe Biden. And what we should be focused on is talking about Joe Biden in his record.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RHONDA COLVIN, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, overdone hamburger. And I think the takeaway of all of this is that all of these candidates seem to be in real time trying to calculate what to say. I mean, we saw it in the beginning, in the earlier in the spring. We're seeing them kind of have more of a tepid response, especially last week, when it came down to the indictment news.

It seems like they just don't know where to go, or how to handle the overshadowing issue of Trump. And I wonder though, how long is that going to last? Because as we get into primary election season, some of the big dates like super Tuesday, the caucuses, there are going to be a lot of, you know, Trump developments, especially when it comes to trials and new developments in these cases that they're likely either going to ignore full on or they're going to have to find an answer for.

ZELENY: I think that's right. And the, so many uncertainties in this. There's going to be much more time spent in the courtroom than on the campaign trail. But I think what one thing that the Florida Governor is doing, boy, he's investing heavily in Iowa. He's been there every weekend for long stretches. His campaign just announced, our Super PAC announced, he's going again on Thursday and Friday coming up.

He's really trying to take advantage of the fact that yes, he has a day job as Florida Governor, sort of that boy spent a lot of time in Iowa, and Donald Trump is not. He's not -- -

BASH: No, he's not.

ZELENY: As he's in Alabama or other places, but he is going to be a lot busier in the court. And we know what consumes his mind for all of his bluster of the fundraising appeals and things. This is getting to him in some respects, I think always indictment, so that's something also to keep it up.

BASH: Thank you so much. On the road again, President Biden head west to sell his economic message. Stay with us.



BASH: President Biden is heading west with Bidenomics. The president will visit three states this week to sell his economic agenda and legislative accomplishments to voters. It comes one year after he signed key economic legislation into law.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us live from the White House. Jeremy, what is on this Bidenomics agenda?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana. President Biden is going to be hitting three states to highlight his economic record and his legislative accomplishments because as you noted, it is the one-year anniversary of several key pieces of legislation and the president is going to be highlighting each one of them on the different stops of this tour.

He heads to Arizona this evening or tomorrow. He's going to be focusing on The Inflation Reduction Act, which marks the largest ever investments in fighting climate change. On Wednesday, the president will be in New Mexico where he's going to be touting the clean energy