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Inside Politics

Giuliani Lands In Atlanta To Surrender; Tomorrow: Trump Turns Himself In At Fulton County Jail; Giuliani Lands To Turn Himself In To GA Authorities; Burgum's Debate Night Status In Question After Injury; Trump's Absence Soaks Up GOP Debate Spotlight; Tonight: 8 Candidates Spar In First GOP Debate; CNN Poll Of Polls: Trump Leads GOP Field By 40-Points; DeSantis, Ramaswamy Center Stage For First GOP Debate. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 23, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: I'm Dana Bash, live from Milwaukee. Today on Inside Politics, as split screen like no other. Nine hours from now, eight people are slated to stride across the debate stage here in Wisconsin, more in a minute on why eight may shrink to seven.

The Republican who should be at the center of the stage, Donald Trump won't be here. But he still is very much the center of attention, and he's sharing some of the spotlight with Rudy Giuliani. Moments ago, the indicted Trump attorney landed in Atlanta. He's expected to negotiate his bond and then surrender at the Fulton County jail.

I want to go straight to Fulton County, where CNN's Paula Reid is. Paula, Rudy Giuliani is now on the ground in Atlanta preparing to surrender to authorities. Set the scene there.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, Dana, in just moments, we expect that Rudy Giuliani's team will come here to the Fulton County courthouse. They are scheduled to meet with the district attorney's office to negotiate the terms of Rudy Giuliani's release.

Once they get that bond agreement in place, then Giuliani can head to the Fulton County Sheriff's Office to surrender. I mean, that's truly remarkable, Dana. When you consider the career he's had, at one point, he was one of the nation's top law enforcement officials in New York as a U.S. attorney. But as part of his surrender, he will have his fingerprints taken, and also a mugshot, a mugshot that is expected to eventually become public.

Now as we know, Rudy Giuliani has had a difficult time finding a lawyer here in Georgia to represent him. He owes his other attorneys millions of dollars in unpaid legal bills right now. All he needs today is someone with a Georgia license to sign his bond agreement. And we have learned that they do have someone who can help him through that process.

He's also traveling with a spokesman and his longtime friend and unindicted co-conspirator in this case, Bernie Kerik. Now Kerik has been helping him reach out to possible lawyers, helping them sort of work through this process. Kerik is not a lawyer himself, but he has a lot of experience with the criminal justice system, not only as the former New York police commissioner, but also as a criminal defendant. He was convicted and ultimately pardoned by former President Trump.

Now I want to note, Dana, when Giuliani arrived here today, he did not come into Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta airport like the rest of us do when we fly Delta to come down here. He arrived to a private airport in a private plane. And it is unclear how he paid for that, considering the fact that his lawyers were in court just last week, insisting that he has no money to pay his legal bills.

So that's something we're working to report out, but we'll be watching every step of the way. As Rudy Giuliani goes through this process, most defendants has spread this out over two days, meeting with the D.A. to do bond and then surrendering. He wants to do it all today. I'm told by a source, Dana, he wants to get it all completed before former President Trump comes to Atlanta tomorrow.

BASH: I'm sure he does. Pretty amazing detail about flying private. We're obviously digging into see what the details of that are, as we wait for him to show up where you are, Paula. I want to bring in. Thank you, Paula.

I want to bring in former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams and Gwen Keyes Fleming, a former DeKalb County District Attorney. Thank you to both of you. Gwen, I want to start with you. Somebody who is familiar with how things go down there in Georgia. What are you looking for, in particular in the short term as Rudy Giuliani shows up?

GWEN KEYES FLEMING, FORMER DEKALB COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, I think first and foremost, looking to see what Judge McAfee sets as the bond, presumably, Mr. Giuliani is coming to Atlanta in part to talk with the D.A.s' office possibly to enter into some sort of consent order for bond, like we've seen with some of the other defendants.

We could see what amounts may be assigned to the various charges that he has been named in. And that could range anywhere from $10,000 to as much as $80,000 that we saw for the former president for the RICO charge. I don't know that it would be that high. But again, those would be discussions that the D.A. and the defense lawyers would have amongst themselves and present some sort of agreement or recommendations to the judge.

BASH: And Elliot, what are you looking for?


ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm looking for how quickly they can come to some sort of agreement as to the terms here. I know the reporting before it had said that Mayor Giuliani intended to wrap this all up in the day. But frankly, as Gwen knows better than anybody else, court proceedings take a long time, negotiations take a long time. And what are the terms that they're going to be able to get Rudy Giuliani's ministers to agree to. Starting with number one, the dollar amount. Number two, the terms and his conditions, the terms of his release, the conditions. But also, restrictions on speech or comments or other activity he can do. All of those things will have to be hammered out. And I think it's ambitious that they think they'll get done in one day.

BASH: And Gwen, I'm sure you heard the former New York City mayor talking before he left New York, when he came out of his apartment building, about the fact that now the prosecutors are going after lawyers, and it's a new day, and it's a disgrace, and all of those, those arguments. You are a lawyer, but you also are somebody who understands Georgia law. How do you think that the judge and ultimately, a jury is going to look at and maybe absorb those arguments?

KEYES FLEMING: So obviously, lawyers are a critical part of the criminal justice system, and they are bound by ethics in every state. However, our laws do recognize that even when lawyers cross the line and commit acts that constitute a crime or constitute a conspiracy, or are part of the RICO indictment, like we see here.

They can be charged. And it will be up to a jury based on evidence from both sides, but particularly the D.A. to demonstrate how far across the ethical line or the criminal line, any of the lawyers that have been charged actually went.

And so again, she bears the burden of proof. But I think you've heard from her the confidence that she has in the evidence to demonstrate that these were not within the bounds of zealously representing a client, that these acts crossed the line, and therefore the defendants should be held accountable for that.

BASH: Elliot?

WILLIAMS: Yes. I'd say the same thing. I think, you know, we can't understate the point that lawyers, look, it's important for lawyers to be able to provide their clients with zealous advocacy in a secret one-on-one relationship where they're providing good advice to people in a time of need, that does not entitle attorneys to break the law.

And there is certainly sometimes a fine line, the courts and juries will have to tow in assessing how appropriate attorneys conduct was, but simply being an attorney doesn't give anybody carte blanche to violate the law. And I think we're seeing some of those arguments coming from the Trump attorney and some of the attorneys here, in fact, hiding behind their law licenses when they were accused of quite serious misconduct.

BASH: OK. Elliot Williams, Gwen Keyes Fleming, thank you so much for your insights. I really appreciate it. And now to some news you heard first here on CNN and a debate night question. Will Doug Burgum be on the stage?

We have some new information right now about what happened and the severity of his injury. A source tells me that last night that North Dakota governor suffered a high-grade tear to his Achilles. He did it while playing pickup basketball with his staff. The injury required a trip to the emergency room and now Burgum is using crutches to walk.

My source describes Burgum as a lifelong athlete translation. He's not a stranger to pain. He remains focused on the debate and gutting it out, tonight is a serious consideration. He's going to test if that's possible when he comes right here behind me, he is going to come to the forum to do a walkthrough this afternoon. And his possible absence really may shrink the stage. But Donald Trump's absence really presents every single candidate with an essential choice.

Do they spend their time talking about the frontrunner? Or the man likely to be on the other end of the ballot in 2024 of November? That is, of course, Joe Biden. CNN's David Chalian is live with me here in Milwaukee. Hi, David.


BASH: Nice to see you here. Nice to see you anywhere, but especially here. What are your sort of big picture thoughts that people should be focused on, that you're focused on heading into tonight?

CHALIAN: Well, one thought that I had in looking at the setup without Trump there is, how much is Trump going to be a factor, right? We've heard from the Fox hosts in some pre debate interviews and previews they've given. They plan to bring Donald Trump up. They plan to make him a character on that debate stage, even in absentia.


And so, I'm wondering is how much time are these candidates who -- many of whom are not all that interested in talking about Donald Trump, going to have to be forced to sort of spend on Donald Trump versus what they really liked to be talking about Joe Biden. I think looking at that comparison will be interesting.

BASH: Is there any other way to look at this, other than these individuals will be debating for a chance to be a consideration as number two?

CHALIAN: Yes. I would look at it, not just as a consideration for number two. But we know in all the early state polling in Iowa, New Hampshire, there is still roughly half or slightly larger than half of the Republican primary electorate or caucus going electorate in Iowa, that is open to an alternative.

And so, I think tonight is the big opportunity for these candidates, not named Donald Trump to begin the work of being the one to start consolidating that side of the Republican Party. I doubt we're going to see something tonight that suggests that any one of them are going to really dig into Donald Trump's support, which is so locked in. So, I think they've got to start consolidating that non-Trump side of the party and being the single person to emerge as the leader of that group.

BASH: Donald -- excuse me, Ron DeSantis, his team is ready for what they call a pylon. They believe that he is going to be sort of the source of a lot of any attacks that we see tonight. And that is sort of one of the dynamics.

The other interesting thing is that right next to him will be the Vivek Ramaswamy, who's never been a candidate before, never obviously debated on this kind of forum or anything close to it. And he is somebody who has -- it looks like taken a lot of DeSantis's early support. So, what do you see as that dynamic between the two of them and when you look at each of them individually?

CHALIAN: Yes. First, looking at DeSantis, if indeed his team is right, and I know they're doing expectation setting. I know it's going to be a balance. If indeed, they are right, that he is going to take a lot of incoming, how he handles that?

Does that get under his skin in some way? Or is he actually able to dispatch with the criticism and get to his own message of how he wants to, you know, provide what he is looking to provide for American leadership to voters who are just tuning it.

Ramaswamy, I think is really interesting because he really is running down as you know, as sort of a next generation Trump 2.0. And so, when Trump is the conversation, is Ramaswamy going to be his biggest defender because he is trying to get the slice of the electorate that is with Trump, even though they're locked into him. He's really presenting himself as next gen. And I just don't know if DeSantis is going to won or like clash with that or see if Ramaswamy can develop any kind of strength whatsoever.

BASH: Yes. It's going to be one of the interesting dynamics. I was talking to a senior Republican who may or may not be a governor, who is not endorsed who was talking about the fact that Ramaswamy, it's going to be very interesting to see how much he defends Donald Trump, or how much he at least, whether he tries to separate himself just a little bit, one of the many dynamics we're going to be looking for. Good to see you, David.

CHALIAN: You too.

BASH: And up next more on the breaking news out of Georgia. But first, he is not attending the debate, as we have said. So, what is former President Donald Trump doing tonight? We're going to have details on that. Next.




BASH: What we are all watching right now, Rudy Giuliani in Fulton County, Georgia. As we speak, he landed last hour, and we expect him to surrender to authorities there shortly. While Mr. Giuliani is in Georgia, Donald Trump is at his golf club in New Jersey, while his Republican rivals are here where I am in Milwaukee, 700 miles away getting ready to debate.

CNN's Alayna Treene though, is with Mr. Trump near his Bedminster estate in New Jersey. The GOP frontrunner is not debating as we've said. So, what's he going to do tonight?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Dana, Donald Trump will remain in New Jersey tonight at his golf club just near where I am now. And I'm told that he's expected to be watching the debate tonight as well as his own interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and that interview is going to be airing live at the same exact time that the debate starts at 9pm Eastern, and obviously a big move from Donald Trump's camp to try and counter program this.

Now, even though Donald Trump is here in Bedminster, he normally has a lot of his top aides around him, but many of those advisors are actually going to be in Milwaukee where you are and trying to coordinate some media around the debate. They'll be in the spin room and really trying to get the post-debate coverage for Donald Trump, even though he's not going to be participating.

But Dana, I really think the biggest kind of upstaging of the debate that we'll see from Trump's team is when he heads to Georgia tomorrow, he'll be surrendering tomorrow evening. And you know, it's a day when a lot of coverage is focused on dissecting what happened at the debate. But tomorrow instead, a lot of it's going to be on Trump's surrender. Dana?

BASH: Thank you so much for that reporting. It is impossible to imagine that Donald Trump will not be watching this. This will not be one he TiVos and watch his back. Thank you so much for that reporting. Now here with me an all-star panel, CNN's Kaitlan Collins, CNN's Abby Phillip, and Jonah Goldberg of The Dispatch. Great to see you all.

I actually want to start sort of set the table for this discussion with something that Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, who will be on the debate stage said about what he expects tonight.


ASA HUTCHINSON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every appearance he has in court, every hearing, every filing, overshadows everything else. And so sure, and that's the reason that it's not fair to the voters to have four criminal cases pending against you, and you can't even attend a debate. Also, how can you effectively lead whenever you have those distractions?



BASH: Abby?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I mean, look, I think that is going to be an argument that you'll hear from some of the candidates on that debate stage. But what's amazing about the Republican field and how where it stands right now is that so many of the other candidates will be making Trump's argument that he's being wrongfully pursued by law enforcement, with a liberal agenda, et cetera, et cetera.

I think that Asa Hutchinson is trying to make the best version of the argument to Republican voters, which is something that you kind of heard Ron DeSantis say, which is, we want someone who's unencumbered by all of this stuff, and who can from day one get to the job at hand.

And that may be the best version of this argument that you can make, the best case you can make because Republican voters don't necessarily want to hear attacks on Trump. But they might be swayed by this idea that perhaps he just has simply too much baggage to be in the job. And we'll see who else is willing to make that case as well.

BASH: Too much baggage. But Kaitlan, I just want our viewers to see the snapshot of the national mood among Republicans with regard to these candidates. Donald Trump, this is CNN's poll of polls. 57 percent, Ron DeSantis is 40 points below him. He's the closest at 17, Ramaswamy six, all other candidates even below that.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR, THE SOURCE: Yes, it's remarkable. I mean, and that is why Donald Trump is not showing up in that state -- in that auditorium behind you tonight, Dana, in Milwaukee, it's because the concern that if he does come, if someone was able to effectively criticize him or take a shot at him, whether or not it could hurt that lead. It is so significant. He's been arguing, basically that he doesn't feel the need to come.

I think if the numbers were closer, he would likely be in that room behind you tonight. But he obviously wanted to also add to this suspense here. I mean, he pre-taped the interview that Alayna was talking about that is going to be airing. So, it's not like he's going to be engaging in this live interview at 9pm.

He'll be able to watch the debate himself. He didn't actually want people to know that he had taped that interview because he wanted this, you know, will he -- won't he show up in Milwaukee? It's very clear, he is not showing up in Milwaukee and said, he's preparing to show up in Atlanta tomorrow.

But I do think the numbers there is part of that. And you look at polls in certain states in Iowa and New Hampshire, and you see that he still has a sizable lead there. And you look at polls in Iowa, where it says that voters there, Republican voters value what he says over their religious leaders, their family, their friends. You can clearly see just the poll he has on the voters that everyone else is trying to win over.

BASH: Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think Abby was right before that, like the best possible rational argument, you know, using earth logic from the before times, is to say whatever you think about Trump, this guy has just got, you know, he's like, Jaws and the original movie. He's got like three barrels in it, right? And like he has -- he can't, this is not sustainable.

But the problem is, is that -- is this -- I think Kaitlan is pointing to, which is you have almost this weird magical thing where you can put, you can ask Republican voters, whether they like something, and they'll say, I hate it. And then you say, you put the word Trump in front of it. And they say, no, no, no, I really like it.

Trump should have as this sort of transmogrifying effect, where if it's inconvenient for Trump, people hate it, if it reflects badly on Trump, people hate it. And that makes it really difficult to make those kinds of arguments on a debate stage because people hear them as criticisms of Trump, even if they're not.

BASH: God. It's such an important point. Let's talk about the two people who are going to sort of share center stage, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy. Abby, first just to you on DeSantis. We know as I was talking about earlier with David Chalian, the sort of expectations game that his campaign and also his Super PAC, that they're setting is that he's going to take all the incoming tonight. But the pressure could not be any greater on him to turn his campaign around.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, look, in some ways this debate is actually really about organizing the sort of bottom half of the Republican field. The Trump is going to be a specter there. But really what it is, is about where did the rest of them stack up? And DeSantis is going to take quite a lot of incoming, I think so will Ramaswamy.

A lot of these other candidates are signaling that he might be a proxy for Trump in some ways, but this will be about which among them is going to be able to stand out. And I do think that DeSantis, he has a lot to prove tonight. He has to show that he can be quick on his feet that he can take it when everybody is coming at him. He's not going to get a chance to show that he can take on Trump. So, he has to at the very least be able to take on most of the rest of the people on that stage and make a compelling argument for his candidacy.

So, a lot is riding on it for DeSantis. But I think now actually, it's helps DeSantis that he has some company, and Ramaswamy at the center of that stage, because a lot of the other candidates have signaled, they're going to go after both of them. Those are the two next vote getters after Trump. And it's very important for some of those other candidates to start to pull on some of the votes that they've been getting in these early states and at a national level.

BASH: And Kaitlan, you recently had a very robust interview with Vivek Ramaswamy. What is your expectation tonight?

COLLINS: I think what you are going to see are people who are worried that he is getting into that that threshold of polling much higher than he was just a few months ago. He's getting closer to people like a Ron DeSantis, potentially as you're going to see, obviously, we've seen DeSantis's plans from his Super PAC to go after him.

But also, the people like Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, and others who are going to drill down. One part that they've really been going after him on -- our robust conversation was some remarks he made on 9/11, and his claims about what he had actually said. But also on foreign policy and what he has said about that, because he is someone who we've never seen on a debate stage like this.

The questions of, you know, where the specifics are on the policies he has, including talking about what Taiwan it's important is to the U.S. after the United States becomes a semiconductor independent, something that is not likely to happen by 2028, when he's predicting, but also aid to Israel. These top issues that really matter to the Republican primary voters is he pressed for specifics on that and on issues like abortion. That is something I think he will be -- he will be pressed on tonight, and certainly his campaign is aware of that.

BASH: Yes. We have to take a quick break. But Jonah, your thoughts in 15 seconds, something that you didn't get to. We're going to get more on the other side.

GOLDBERG: I just think not only is Ramaswamy a proxy for Trump. He's running basically as Trump's press secretary. And you know, and it shows and it's going to -- it's going to attract a lot of grief, I think tonight?

BASH: All right, everybody, don't go away. We are going to take a live look outside the Fulton County jail in Georgia. Any moment, Rudy Giuliani, the co-defendant. One of them facing the most -- he's at least facing the most charges with Trump. He's expected to surrender in Georgia. How he went from America's mayor to soon to be arrestee. We're going to talk about that, next.