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Two Of Trump's GA Co-Defendants Surrender At Fulton County Jail; Pro-Trump Lawyer John Eastman Surrenders; Two Trump Co- Defendants Surrender Today In GA As Fulton County Jail Prepares For Trump's Arrest & Booking Thursday. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 22, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on "Inside Politics," TikTok, a lawyer and a bail bondsman. The first pair of Donald Trump's co-conspirators turn themselves in as the clock barrels towards the former presidents Thursday surrender in Fulton County.

Plus, the quiet game. A Georgia judge challenges the former president to obey the Golden Rule warning any threats against the quote community there will come with legal whiplash and outwit, outplay, outlast. Milwaukee pits, eight candidates against each other in a showdown to survive, while Fox News hangs out not welcome sign for the spin doctors repping the front runner skipping the debate.

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

It begins with the architect of the conspiracy and inmate number P01135732. Today the first two of the Trump 19 surrender in Georgia. This morning in Fulton County, one of the big named defendants John Eastman, the lawyer who concocted the legal theories at the center of the Trump 2020 plot was booked and released on charges in the sweeping election subversion case.

And a largely unknown character in this drama Scott Hall, who allegedly helped break into voting systems was the first known Trump co-conspirator to turn himself in. Hall a bail bondsman is accused of trying to steal election data in Coffee County. He was seen on video arriving at an election office the day of the breach January 7, 2021. The former president listed at the top of the indictment, Donald Trump, says he will make another trip into history. That will be on Thursday.

We're going to start our coverage where he will go and that of course is Atlanta. That's where Katelyn Polantz is. So, Katelyn, walk us through the developments we've already seen this morning.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Dana, there are things happening both at the jail and at the courthouse here in Fulton County as these 19 defendants one by one, send their lawyers in to negotiate their bond agreements and then head over to the jail to be arrested in response to the criminal charges from the Georgia -- Fulton County, Georgia district attorney's office related to what they did for Trump around the election. Donald Trump, he has his bond negotiated now. And that bond is stricter than anything we have seen in any of the other cases that he is facing as a defendant for total now. He has a specific outline that he can't intimidate any witnesses or defendants, including on social media that's spelled out in the agreement. And he's posting $200,000 bond, meaning that if he violates that bond, he has to pay the amount if he doesn't show up or he can be sent to jail if he doesn't follow the terms of release.

And so, by my count, there are still 12 other defendants in this racketeering case in Georgia that have to start working through their bond and go be arrested and go to the jail to be processed as criminal defendants who are in custody of the sheriff's office. We only know of two so far that have been in custody so far have reported over there. And we just saw one person leave John Eastman, the prominent attorney from right wing circles who was working for Donald Trump after the election.

BASH: And Katelyn, John Eastman also released a statement. What did he say?

POLANTZ: He did. He essentially said in his statement, that this was a shame that he was criminally being criminalized for being an attorney. But he also spoke to two of our reporters outside of the jail, just now Zach Cohen and Nick Valencia spoke with John Eastman.

And he said that he's not talked to Donald Trump, first and foremost, that he's paying for his own legal bills that Donald Trump is not helping him in that regard. We haven't seen any evidence of that, but just to make sure we're clear on that. And then also, Dana, that he has no regrets representing Donald Trump after the 2020 election that what he did, he believes in.

BASH: All right. You and our colleagues are all over it there. I'm sure we're going to hear from them from John Eastman soon. One other thing, you just saw a motion from Jeffrey Clark. What do his lawyers want? And also remind our viewers who Jeffrey Clark is? We have a lot of characters in what we're seeing here.


POLANTZ: 19. Yes, Jeffrey Clark is one of the people who was in the administration at the time of the Trump -- the end of the Trump presidency at the time of the election, and was essentially wanting to become attorney general or Donald Trump wanted to install him as attorney general, so that Trump could use the Justice Department to either pressure or overturn election results in different states, specifically in Georgia.

And Jeffrey Clark had plans to try and mount the legislator in Georgia to overturn what the popular vote was in this state. That's what he's accused of doing. The Georgia D.A. says that that's a crime. He also is a co-conspirator in the case that the federal authorities have brought against Donald Trump alone in federal court in Washington, D.C. But here in this case, because Jeffrey Clark was a federal official at that time working within the Justice Department, even if he's being accused of a crime, he's arguing his case should have to move out of state court into federal court where we'll remind you there are no cameras. So, a bit of a different environment there for capturing what those proceedings would be like. He'd be able to raise additional constitutional arguments there.

And there is already a hearing set Monday for another defendant Mark Meadows, who's also tried to move his case to federal court, arguing something very similar. And so, people are doing all kinds of things in the legal system. We're going to have to watch and see exactly how they play out here, Dana, but it is notable if that case were to move.

BASH: No question. A head spinning number of developments, and it will only continue as the day continues, as the week continues, and frankly, as the month continues. Katelyn, fantastic reporting to you and to the team there as always.

We're going to talk now to reporters here, legal analyst Carrie Cordero, but also Evan Perez, who of course, is our senior justice correspondent, also in Atlanta, former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore. Thanks, one and all for joining us.

Michael Moore, let me start with you. Since you are there in Georgia, what do you make of the developments that we've seen so far? And kind of paint a picture of what it looks like down in Georgia as all of these co-conspirators and of course, as we see the big defendant come down on Thursday?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Well, good morning. I'm glad to be with all of you. It's unique here in the state right now and the security is obviously at an all-time high. The secret service has been on the ground for some period of time, and in coordinating and preparing ultimately, for the former president to surrender himself.

But to have this number of defendants, in this type of case, these sorts of high profile, VIP type defendants is a little unusual. It's not the only time it's happened in Fulton County, but certainly a little different now. They're reported to a jail, which is not at the height of its game, if you will. It's not a place you'd want to be. There have been a number of problems there. And so, it's probably a humbling experience as they come in.

But you know, typically, they'll turn themselves in, they'll give some biographical information. They'll go through a general security screening, be fingerprinted, have a mugshot typically move forward. I think this is a little different, though.

And really, if you think about it, primarily because the former president, as he is planning to turn himself in, there'll be some really strict coordination with secret service, who, as their job has control of his body, if you will, as opposed to just the process. The idea of taking a picture of the fingerprints is something that's in the process, but searching and coming in, they'll be put in an orange jumpsuit, they'll have a standard processing at that point.

BASH: And Evan, we know that John Eastman, who's the most-high profile, most well-known and maybe most important character in this. Again, I keep saying this drama because there's really no other way to look at it. He went in and we just heard from Katelyn -- yes, he's come out.

Just want to show our viewers what a booking sheet looks like and what the booking sheet specifically looks like for John Eastman. And then, as we continue to talk about him in particular, let's just look at the part of the indictment that came out last week.

There are a lot of accounts that he's being charged with, but one of them, on or about the third day of December 2020, Rudolph Giuliani, Eastman, Jenna Ellis, Ray Smith, committed the felony offense of solicitation of violation of oath by public officer.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, so John Eastman, and all of these characters, you know, were -- he had his finger in a lot of the parts of this. One of the things that he's arguing in his defense is that he was giving just legal advice to the former president.


And so, one of the things that is a problematic for him is that there's testimony by Greg Jacob and others around Mike Pence, when Eastman was trying to persuade everybody that there was this -- that the vice president had the power to reject, unilaterally the election results from Georgia and from other states.

One of the problems is that Greg Jacob says that Eastman knew that the Supreme Court was going to reject -- --

BASH: Greg Jacob and Pence's lawyer.

PEREZ: Pence's chief -- yes, former general counsel knew that this would be rejected by a Supreme Court, and yet he kept pushing forward, partly because they wanted the chaos. They just simply wanted enough time to be able to get the political actors to come in and essentially overturn the election results.

And so that's part of what you see in the Georgia election there -- I'm sorry, the Georgia charges is this idea that they were pressuring people in Georgia. They were legislators. They were trying to get access to voting machines. They were doing all kinds of things, all in the pursuit of buying time, so that then the political actors could take over and then sway the election to the former president that he had lost.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This role of the lawyers though, and the fact that they've been charged in this case, really, I think, goes to the crux of what a major portion of what the prosecutors are going to have to prove. And what the defendants are going to assert is really functioning on the role of the lawyers, and whether or not the advice that they were giving to the former president fell into the scope of legal advice, or whether it constitutes criminal behavior.

And it's a really important issue, because lawyers make arguments all the time. And they make arguments in the interests of their clients that they think is the, a plausible reading of the law, doesn't necessarily have to be the best reading of the law. I mean, yet, as a lawyer, that's what you want to do. But sometimes, a lawyer will make what is a plausible argument.

And I think the fact that Eastman has been charged, Giuliani, Mr. Chesebro, all of them are going to argue in this case, that what they were doing was providing legal advice, and people can disagree with it. People can think that it's wrong, but it's not criminal behavior.

And then as it comes to the former president, and those who relied on that advice, they're going to flip that argument into their benefit and say, well, I was relying on this legal advice that was provided to us -- even if it turned out to be wrong.

PEREZ: Right. And the question is where you draw that line, right? Whether it was reasonable to think that legal advice was actually something that, you know, was legit, or whether it was just, again.

CORDERO: But what they're going to argue is that this potentially is the criminalization of legal practice. And so, I think, lawyers and the bars are going to be looking at this case to understand where these prosecutions end up on where that line is.

BASH: And Michael Moore, let me bring you back in here and let's look at the big defendant, the former president. And just remind our viewers what he agreed to in his bond deal yesterday. $200,000, no direct communication with co-defendants, no direct communication with witnesses, bars direct or indirect threats on social media. You know, the legal community there. How serious do you think that the judge will take those specific bans on communications, but also the social media threats?

MOORE: I think they'll be, you know, look at him pretty seriously. I mean, and he'll enforce those. The problem is, he's going to have to balance Trump's First Amendment right, as he is engaging in this campaign, because one of his -- one of the witnesses in the case against him is his former vice president, who's also a candidate for the office. He too seeks.

And so, this political back and forth, you don't want to interpret it as a threat. You know that's the risk. And so, how will those things be seen. This case is going to be full of sort of these lines and people have to decide what crosses the line as we go forward. And the courts going to have to do that as it relates to political speech, public or social media posting and that type of thing.

Remember, I want to tell you too. Remember, they're going to have to get into Trump's state of mind and this idea about getting legal advice. We don't want to criminal and legal tactics, but the issue that they may face as well as at the Georgia legislature that came back after this election and change the election laws in Georgia because they claim they're having problems. But that's going to be interesting to see the Republicans especially, the Republican governor tried to backtrack on that and just this is a trial against Trump.

BASH: That is such a good point. I was down in Georgia, doing some stories on that. And that's really interesting subplot that we're going to see. Everybody thanks for that great discussion. We are not done a lot more on the breaking news, particularly what Michael Moore was just talking about the jail where the former president and his co- defendants will turn themselves in, a storied history, some of it infamous. We're going to go there next.



BASH: Overcrowding, inmate deaths, excessive force, lice, scabies and Donald Trump. The Fulton County jail is known for such deplorable conditions, and it is the site of the bookings for the former president and his co-conspirators. CNN's Zach Cohen is outside the Fulton County jail. Zach, it is known as rice street, and it has a pretty infamous reputation, doesn't it?

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Dana. It has a reputation for trouble conditions for inmates inside. You know, there has been a Department of Justice civil rights investigation that was opened up last month into things like lack of access to healthcare for detainees.


These troubling deaths that you just mentioned earlier, and things like, you know, treatment between the inmates really, really, really deplorable conditions all around, and it is going to be the site where the former president is going to turn himself in and surrender to authorities here in the next coming days. And you know, this site really has been a problem in recent years. You know, these debts that you mentioned before, it really been an issue and have led to a federal investigation and as such so.

You know, we have seen two of Trumps co-defendants already show up at this jail today. This morning, we saw his former attorney or one of his former attorneys, John Eastman, leave the jail just moments ago. His lawyer told my colleague, Nick Valencia, that he was processed like any other inmate. He got a mugshot, and he was searched. So, it seems like the defendants in the Trump case are really not getting any sort of special treatment than any other defendant word that shows up here.

BASH: Zach, thank you so much for that reporting. Appreciate it. And now, how do you keep a moth from a flame? And how do you keep Donald Trump away from his phone or a microphone or a television camera? Today and every day from here until the conclusion of Donald Trump's election subversion trial will double as a test of impulse control.

It took fewer than five hours once the judge said Mr. Trump's bond for him to flirt with the limits of what he can say and what qualifies as a threat meant to intimidate those involved in the Georgia prosecution. He said, "radical left district attorney is what" that's what he called Fani Willis last night.

A judge will now have to decide if that crosses a line. But Mr. Trump has always treated lines or like suggestions made to be trampled on. He sees men and women overseeing his for prosecutions as villains in his own story. The insults have ranged from run of the mill complaining like Judge Tanya Chutkan very biased and unfair to vile and fact free. Jack Smith, a crackhead.

Trump treating the Georgia restrictions as rules meant to be broken risks real punishment, including more rules, revoked bond and maybe remand. But the people closest to the former president see no downside at least right now to saying things like this.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm sure, I won't be able to go to Iowa today. I won't be able to go to New Hampshire today because I'm sitting in a courtroom on bullshit the range Jack Smith, as they looked arrange. The criminal is the district attorney because he illegally leaked massive amounts of grand jury information. I have a Trump hating judge, with the Trump hating wife and family whose daughter work for Kamala Harris.


BASH: Here with me around the table CNN's Jeremy Diamond, Leigh Ann Caldwell of The Washington Post, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs f The New York Times. Nice to see you all. Jeremy, I know firsthand that you have been covering Donald Trump since pretty much since he came down that golden escalator in 20 June of 2015.

So, knowing him the way you do from covering him for all these years. How do you think he's going to take these limits put on him from the judge in Georgia?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think what we tend to see with Donald Trump is that things tend to have a snowball effects, rather than any kind of cooling effect. And so, the notion that things are going to get better from here that he's going to be more restrained from here, I think he's farfetched.

I think what's more likely to happen is that Donald Trump is going to continue to test these limits of the restrictions that have been placed upon him. He's going to bridle against them. And the question is, will he ultimately cross a line that will actually result in some real consequences?

And I think it's clear that the Georgia case is perhaps the one where that is most likely, and where he is most likely to face consequences. And I think part of that has to do with the fact that these federal cases I think, have treated him like a former president. They recognize that notion. And I think there are fewer kid gloves perhaps in this case.

BASH: Let me give an example of perhaps why the judge put these restrictions in the bond agreement, something that he said on his social media account. August 14, I'm reading reports that failed former Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, Geoff Duncan, will be testifying before Fulton County grand jury, he shouldn't. I mean, that looks like a threat for a witness.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. So, I think there's a couple things here. First, my colleagues at the Post are reporting that it's going to be up to the judge to determine, are they going to really provide Trump with any repercussions on what he says. And then risk looking like, making him look like a victim and being persecuted and his free speech rights being taken away.

But what it seems like might happen here is that the judges will probably draw a line between attacking the judge, attacking the prosecutor and what you just read, which was intimidating witnesses. And so, while he has gone on rampages against the prosecutors and the judges -- some of the judges will see what happens if and when he continues to intimidate witnesses.


ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Even statements like that still there's going to be a tension here because statements like intimidating witnesses or even just broadly attacking judicial systems, courts, judges, that's also part of the political strategy for the Trump campaign. Each time you see one of these indictments, how long does it take for comments to come out to rile his base and rile voters and say, look, this is a witch hunt, et cetera.

So, now you have a warning, saying we need actually a fair judicial system to occur here, which would happen for another defendant. But that's going to run directly into a campaign strategy here, which should raise some doubt over whether or not you actually see a more muted response going froward.

BASH: It's such an important point. And I feel like a broken record here, but it's important, it's all connected. And the things that he says, and so on social media and elsewhere, it's all part of his political strategy to build himself as a martyr to build himself as somebody who's fighting for others and to create villains on the other side of this.

I just also want to play for our viewers, some of the examples of what Donald Trump said about judges in other cases.


TRUMP: Somebody said, I should not criticize judges. OK, I'll criticize judges. I think judge curial should be ashamed of himself. I have had horrible rulings. I've been treated very unfairly by this judge. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace. Judge has been very unfair, has not done a good job. He's been a very bad judge.


DIAMOND: Yes. This is a continuation. But now the difference is that he's actually an indicted defendants in these cases. And so, the rules are different. The rules of the road are different in this case. So, I don't know. We'll see how he continues to proceed with it. But certainly, if past is prologue, he's going to keep it up.

BASH: Right. We're going to continue to watch the courthouse in Georgia. We're going to continue to watch that breaking news. Also, just in the debate stage is officially set who's in the middle, who's not. We're going to tell you after a quick break.