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Attorneys for Former President Trump Argue Special Master Needed to Review Documents Seized by FBI from Mar-a-Lago; President Biden to Give Speech in Pennsylvania about Threats to American Democracy; Residents of Jackson, Mississippi, Without Clean Water after Failure of Water Treatment Plant. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired September 01, 2022 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The DOJ argued that the appointment of a special master would impede the government's ongoing criminal investigation and if the special master was tasked with reviewing classified documents would impede the intelligence community from conducting its ongoing review of the national security risk that improper storage of these highly sensitive materials may have caused.
Trump's lawyers made several arguments in a court filing last night defending the presence of the documents at his beach resort. And moments ago, I spoke with Trump's lead defense lawyer during his second impeachment trial, David Schoen. He's not representing him now, but he did weigh in on the issue of a special master. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID SCHOEN, TRUMP'S DEFENSE LAWYER DURING SECOND IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: If the government's case is as they think it is, let's just play it straight. Let a special master come in, say have at it. It has to be the right person with the right security clearance, and so on, but why not let that process run out? Because a part of this whole scenario has to be satisfy the public that there has been a full and fair airing of everything, that all concerns have been addressed, and so on.
There was an amicus filing of a very political nature in this case. I don't think we need any of those things. You have Norm Eisen filing a brief in the case. He's been all over anti-Trump stuff forever. Just play it straight. If the documents are as the government says, they're going to have to be a lot of answers provided.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And here now is the aforementioned Norm Eisen, former House Judiciary special counsel in Donald Trump's first impeachment trial, and as you heard, Norm filed a brief in opposition to Trump's request for a special master. Ambassador, thank you for being with us. Your name was invoked. Your response?
NORM EISEN, FORMER HOUSE JUDICIARY SPECIAL COUNSEL IN TRUMP'S FRIST IMPEACH TRIAL: Well, John, this is such an important case that, not me, I was just one of the lawyers for the case with a distinguished group of co-counsel, but seven leading GOP legal voices from every administration prior to Donald Trump's, going back to the Reagan administration, put together this brief because they wanted to say to the judge -- and there is not a political word in it. It's about the law. And they wanted to say two key points to the judge, John. Number one, this is an executive privilege dispute, so there's no place for a special master. Number two, special masters are used for attorney- client privilege documents. So just to explain to the judge why her preliminary indication really didn't make sense, is a Republican brief not a political one.
BERMAN: Would it be reasonable to have a special master to look at the issue of attorney-client privilege for some of these documents?
EISEN: It would be reasonable. The cases go both ways on that, John. As you know, we were chatting about this over the break. Sometimes courts appoint special masters for attorney-client privilege documents. Sometimes they don't. There's a small number of those documents here. But an executive privilege document of which there are hundreds of classified ones here, that is -- the Supreme Court has been very clear, and the judge would be committing error if she rules that way, the Supreme Court has been clear that that's up to the current executive branch to decide, and there is no place for a special master.
BERMAN: I think everyone agree these would be novel law. No one knows how a special master would even behave or filter things on the issue of executive privilege. It's unclear to me how that would work. Maybe the judge will spell that out if she rules in favor of it. We'll see on that.
In terms of the timing on this, if they agree, and both sides said this can be done quickly, if this can be done in a few weeks, how would that impede the investigation?
EISEN: Well, even a delay of a single day, by occasion, by a special master, John, with respect to these hundreds of classified documents, and we all saw that shocking picture, attachment f, the intelligence community is assessing now the risks. When I look at those documents spread all over the floor of Mar-a-Lago, I don't just see paper, John. I had the highest security clearances that our nation offers when I was ambassador. I see the human beings standing behind those, our American intelligence agents, our foreign allies, who gather this information to keep America and Americans safe. So I see the human lives at risk. We can't afford to delay for a single day the intelligence community review of the damage here. So those kinds of harms.
BERMAN: I want to ask you about a couple of developments that happened outside of these filings, and they had to do with either Donald Trump himself or his attorneys, weighing in in ways that some people suggest could put him in greater jeopardy.
First, I want to play some sound from one of Donald Trump's attorneys, and this had to do with, as you said, the documents that the FBI put on the floor to take a picture of when they were -- when they were at Mar-a-Lago searching there. But she was talking about the fact that that's not how the documents would have ever looked in Donald Trump's office, but she also said this. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALINA HABBA, LAWYER TO DONALD TRUMP: I have been down there. I'm down there frequently. I have never seen that. I have never, ever seen that. That is not the way his office looks. Anybody that knows President Trump's office, he has guests frequently there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: He has guests frequently there. Why is that statement in and of itself a problem if there were, as we now believe there were, classified documents sitting in his desk?
EISEN: John, these documents expose the United States' national interests and Americans and our allies, human beings, to risk, a single one of these documents. So the notion that you have guests and workers and others who are coming in and out of Mar-a-Lago, they're only supposed to be read in a SCIF -- my office actually was a SCIF when I was ambassador -- a special facility where it is safe to look at documents. The admissions, the incompetence, that sound may very well be used at a trial of Donald Trump, if there is one.
BERMAN: There was no SCIF as far as we know at Mar-a-Lago. Now --
EISEN: There was when he was president.
BERMAN: But not post presidency.
EISEN: And then Donald Trump himself posted on Truth Social, his social media outlet, and he was talking again about the photo that was released and the appendix of the DOJ filing, and he writes, "There seems to be some confusion as to the picture where document where sloppily thrown on the floor and then released photographically for the world to see, as if that's what the FBI found when they broke into my home. Wrong. They took them out of cartons and spread them around the carpet, making it look like a big find for them. They dropped them, not me, very deceiving. And remember, we could have no representative including lawyers present during the raid. They were told to wait outside." They took them out of cartons, he says, which is very different than what he had been saying, which is they planted them.
EISEN: John, the -- one of the key issues in this case, we have some evidence on this. It's really the last key issue that will determine whether or not Donald Trump is charged, is his personal knowledge that these classified documents were -- where they were. And there is also very disturbing allegations in the government's filing yesterday about the way the documents were moved after they were requested by the government. You've got to prove Donald Trump's intent. Well, guess what, he just provided by admitting that he knew they were in the cartons, he just provided the government with more proof that, yes, he was involved in this. So it's a mosaic. You put together all the evidence. That's another piece of evidence, incompetence.
BERMAN: Ambassador Norm Eisen, appreciate you being with us this morning. Thank you.
EISEN: Thanks, John.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Biden will address the nation to talk about the, quote, the soul of our nation. The president has delivered several primetime speeches since the beginning of his presidency, addressing issues like COVID, Russia's war in Ukraine, and gun violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The worst pandemic in a century, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War. Now after just 100 days, I can report to the nation, America is on the move again.
Tonight, I say to the Russian oligarchs and the corrupt leaders who bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime, no more.
What in God's name do you need to solve it for, except to kill someone?
How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say enough?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Joining us now are the author of "The Early 202" and "Washington Post Live" anchor Leigh Ann Caldwell, and CNN contributor and staff writer at "The New Yorker" Evan Osnos. He's also a Biden biographer, and he's the author of the book. "Joe Biden, The Life, The Run, and What Matters Now." OK, Evan, starting with you, how would you describe what we're expecting to hear in the theme of this speech tonight?
EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is not a speech about rallying people against the threat against COVID, the threat from COVID, or the threat posed by Russia against Ukraine. This is about something very close to home and very fundamental about what the president and the people around him call an extremist threat to democracy. And it's something, an idea that's been germinating over the summer at the White House, beginning with the fact that you have now candidates who have gotten through the primaries in half a dozen battleground states, people who say they reject not only the 2020 election, but if they are put into jobs like secretary of state, like governor, that they will seek to try to shape the election process.
This worries not only Democrats, but people who are concerned about democracy. More recently you've got calls to defund the FBI, and, of course, you had that attack on an FBI office in Cincinnati. The combination of these facts represents what the White House thinks is a genuine extremist threat to democracy, and they need to start ringing alarm bells about it to alert Americans to how great it is. KEILAR: It is quite the pivot, Leigh Ann, from President Biden, the
governing president, pushing through all of these initiatives through Congress.
LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, AUTHOR, "THE EARLY 202," "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes. And I think that might be what Kevin McCarthy focuses on a little bit today in his prebuttal to President Biden. He's going to talk about Biden, the problems with crime, the problems with the border.
But really, what President Biden is doing, he reads polls just like the rest of us, too. The timing of this, it is not some anniversary of January 6th, there is no one moment for the reason of the speech, except we're gearing into the midterm elections, the sprint to the November elections, and he's doing it in Pennsylvania, in a state that is critical to those elections. But he's doing it at Independence Hall, a place where President Obama has given a big speech before. So he wants to lay out the weight of this speech. But there are going to be political undertones, even if he doesn't directly name candidates, and then tries to draw a line between MAGA Republicans and moderate Republicans who he will probably say he's willing and able to work with.
KEILAR: Is this believable, Evan, a shift from kumbaya, we can work together, kind of maybe pulling his punches, he faced some criticism on that, to scaring the hell out of people about what Republican rule would mean?
OSNOS: Well, I think there's been two sides to Biden's message from the very beginning. One has been I can bring the country together. But remember, from the very beginning of his candidacy, he talked about a struggle for the soul of the nation. Initially it meant the hate groups that marched in Charlottesville. Later when he talked about that idea at the inauguration, he was talking about the armed attack on the Capitol, the effort to subvert the 2020 election.
This is a new phase, really a third phase, which is about going forward, is our election system vulnerable to manipulation and attack. I think that's something the White House believes many Americans, perhaps a majority of Americans, believe is a credible threat that needs to be talked about seriously.
KEILAR: I want to ask you, Leigh Ann, about something that former President Obama said. He was speaking at a national Democratic redistricting committee fundraiser earlier this week, and he criticized Republicans. He said they're systematically in power political minorities. He's talking about minority blocs of voters here, to get more power and more seats and to do whatever it takes to hang on to power, and the stakes have never been higher. This is according to the group that provided excerpts of his speech to CNN. What do you think of that?
CALDWELL: I think that's going to be a similar message to what President Biden is going to say tonight. And what President Obama is talking about, he's not talking about minorities as African Americans or Latinos in this country, but he's talking about thought minorities, people in this country perhaps who feel like they are falling behind, or an extremist, aggressive, violent minority as well.
And you look at polling, and these people aren't a majority, but they are very loud, they have the leadership of former President Donald Trump, who is espousing and echoing what they have to say. This is all coming in the backdrop of just this week, Donald Trump again said that the 2020 election should be overturned and he should be crowned the rightful winner.
KEILAR: Leigh Ann, Evan, great to have you this morning and getting your analysis. Thanks for being here.
BERMAN: Residents of Jackson, Mississippi, are waking up to a new day without clean running water. Crews are scrambling to fix a compromised water treatment plant that was further damaged by flooding. Residents lined up for hours to get bottled water, really no timeline for when the clean water will be restored. CNN's Amara Walker live in Jackson, at a Salvation Army water distribution site. How much longer will they have to wait, Amara?
AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: First off, getting drinking water to the residents of Jackson is the most pressing need right now. We are at the Salvation Army on Beasley Road. We're actually in a neighborhood that has not had a water distribution site, so the need is extremely high. You can see here behind me this tractor trailer is filled with cases of water bottles. We're talking about 800 cases. The distribution is about to begin in a couple hours from now.
And I do want to bring in Major Ethan Frizzell of the Salvation Army. Thanks so much for talking with us this morning. Tell me more about your water distribution efforts today. Today is going to be the second day. Yesterday was your first. How did yesterday go in terms of demand and having to turn some people away?
MAJOR ETHAN FRIZZELL, SALVATION ARMY: True. Yesterday we did three tractor trailer loads of water, over 2,700 cases, and there was a line all day. When we got to the last truck, I walked the line to let those know at the end they would have to wait until today. Unfortunately, people are very kind and patient, but we hate moving anyone away. So today we'll deliver water here for the next three days and we'll also be delivering water into the neighborhoods.
WALKER: You're doing that today with a tractor trailer as well?
FRIZZELL: We are. There is a lot of people who don't have the funds for gas or don't have the ability with their cars to come and get water.
So the Salvation Army's strength is bringing hope and resources to the point of pain, so today we'll go to the communities, let them know no one is forgotten and that we'll bring all the resources we can find to them.
WALKER: Speaking of no one is forgotten, we heard a lady here arriving upset, understandably, what was she saying?
FRIZZELL: She's saying, no one has delivered water in this neighborhood yet and for some people, driving across town and waiting all day in a line is very difficult. So we're glad to be here.
And people are mourning normalcy, right? Uncertainty on top of uncertainty, a flood in the water causes fear. So, one thing the Salvation Army does is bring hope to that fear and to say together, we will get through it, it is a difficult time, unfortunate time, but there is hope if we work together.
WALKER: You have been seeing some really heart breaking images of children and the back seats of these vehicles as their parents are waiting in line for hours. Tell me how that's been for you to witness that and what exactly you can say?
FRIZZELL: One of our ministry members said it looks like people are living in their cars and what we know is that unfortunately they are living in their cars while they're waiting for water. School is out. So kids are doing their best to do a little school work in the back of a car.
And so, the Salvation Army, even next week, is saying how can we make sure we serve the whole family and help children catch back up in school because the cascading crisis is the poverty of education that is going to come during the season and how do we remedy that. Water for today and families for tomorrow, how do we recover families in the future of our children who are doing school work in the back of cars.
WALKER: So, let's talk about the water for today. You have 800 cases, we did the math, there are 24 bottles in each case, that's 19,000 bottles, families are getting about two cases.
And so thank you so much, Major Ethan Frizzle for joining us. I appreciate it. Good luck to you on that.
FRIZZLE: Thank you very much.
WALKER: There are also seven mega distribution sites that will be set up today as well around Jackson, Mississippi -- John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Amara Walker, a great discussion. Thank you so much for showing the efforts that people are going through just to get a drink of water.
So, Sarah Palin just lost in her congressional comeback bid for now. What this tells us about the state of politics in the country and what might happen in November.
And inspectors just arrived at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine as one of its last working reactors is shut down.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, a huge night for Serena Williams at the U.S. Open. We're joined next by her coach.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:21:14]
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Serena Williams, just supreme. And the final set, when she had to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: You know, when Serena Williams won her first U.S. Open in 1999, Tom Brady was still at Michigan. LeBron James hadn't yet played a high school game. Bill Clinton was in the White House. Harry Styles, he was still in preschool, Napster debuted, TLC was demanding no scrubs and the Backstreet Boys wanted it that way.
Well, now, Serena is one step closer to another title on her way out the door. The almost 41-year-old defeating the number two player in the world, bringing the crowd to its feet as she advanced to round three in another magical performance at the U.S. Open.
Here is what she said after the match.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERENA WILLIAMS, 23-TIME GRAND SLAM CHAMPION: I'm super competitive. Honestly, I'm looking at it as a bonus. I don't have anything to prove. I don't have anything to win. And I have absolutely nothing to lose.
I really enjoy just coming out and enjoying it. And it has been a long time since I've been able to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Joining us now is ESPN tennis analyst Rennae Stubbs. She is one of Serena Williams' coaches, as well as a Wimbledon and U.S. Open doubles champion herself.
Rennae, it's great to have you this morning. What did you think of this performance last night that stunned us all?
RENNAE STUBBS, COACH FOR SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, remarkable. Just there were periods in the match where I actually said to myself, especially after playing such a long point or arduous point, I was, like, she's 40 years of age. This is what people forget.
Not only is she so great and she's trying to achieve something pretty spectacular here at the U.S. Open, but the fact she's 40 and she's running down balls, as athletic as we have seen her in a long time, I was so proud of her, the way she handled the entire situation last night. And, boy, oh, boy, she looked really fantastic yesterday.
KEILAR: She made a coaching change recently. You're part of that. What have you focused on? What have you tweaked?
STUBBS: You know, honestly, it is not very hard to coach the greatest player of all time. But I have the pleasure of being able to be on the court with her.
The bottom line it is just about bringing positivity, just reinforcing the positives, reinforcing the positives. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel here, as I said, as a greatest player of all time. She knows how to win more than anybody else. But just making her be in the right, you know, mindset and I -- that's really been my goal over the last few weeks.
KEILAR: She answered questions about just this on fire performance yesterday. Here is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: And you just beat the number two player in the world. How did you do it?
WILLIAMS: Well, I'm a pretty good player.
INTERVIEWER: Are you surprising yourself with your level at the moment?
INTERVIEWER: Are you surprising yourself with your level?
WILLIAMS: No. I know. I mean, I'm just Serena, you know. So --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Rennae, we know -- she's the goat, yes, right? She is, but we also -- we have seen her recently, she played in Cincinnati, she didn't play as well, and we are now seeing her just channel her power. So she knows that's what the questions are about.
So what do you make of her answer there, she is saying, of course, I'm Serena, I'm the best?
STUBBS: Well, I mean, I think the bottom line is she is not surprised that she's played great (AUDIO GAP) she played great her whole career. Bottom line is, look, in Cincinnati, you talk about the lead-up tournaments, she hasn't played a match in a year.
I don't think you understand how hard it is, even for someone as great as Serena Williams, any player finds it hard to win and have confidence when they haven't played a match in a long time. So I think what you are getting right now is somebody who had finally a couple of matches under their belt and she remembers really easily what it is like to win a lot of matches.
And I think she's just tapped into the old Serena right now and we (AUDIO GAP) obviously last night.
KEILAR: She is so clearly has her feet beneath her. She also said something I thought was so interesting, which was, you know, she said she just -- this is a bonus for her. And she's just able to enjoy this moment.
She said, since 1998 she hasn't been able to play with this, she had an X on her back since 1999. And I think what struck me about that was, she's not bitter about it at all the way she describes it, but she is acknowledging some of the animosity that has come her way over the last few decades.
STUBBS: Well, I think animosity, but more so, Brianna, it is more about the pressure on her shoulders. She had as she said last night, she had an X on her back since she won the tournament here back a long, long time ago, and since that moment, everyone expects her to win every single match, and even herself. And so, you know, the pressure on her every day, you know, to quantify her greatness, the thing to talk about is how much she dealt with the pressure over two decades and how she's come through.
I think this is finally a time she can play a tournament where she's not the favorite. So, it feels good for her to walk on the court and not as much pressure on her shoulders and she showed it last night. It was fantastic.
KEILAR: You were sitting next to her sister Venus yesterday. What were you talking about?
STUBBS: Well, you know, the match sometimes, just having a laugh about something else random, but, you know, to have Venus there, she said to me at one point, I'm the most chill person in this player box, which is true. It is indicative of Venus and how great she is.
She gets an opportunity to go back on Arthur Ashe tonight with Serena at 7:00 p.m. primetime on ESPN. She will be there with her sister, so it is going to be great to see them playing doubles again.
KEILAR: What does this mean for Serena and all that she has done for the sport and the arc of her career and just her acceptance as a player and as the very best?
STUBBS: I mean, listen, you know, Serena is, I think, just such a great ambassador for the sport. There are so many players pulling for her out there on the court. She is just above and beyond sometimes the sport.
But the sport -- no one is bigger than the sport. Serena certainly gets really close to that and she just has overwhelmed the crowd here, the experience I had being here. And just being around her through this tournament has been magical.
So hopefully the celebration will keep continuing here at the U.S. Open.
KEILAR: Yeah, look, it is overwhelming, even watching from home. I know so many people glued to their sets feel that way.
Rennae, thank you so much. It is so special to be able to speak with you this morning.
STUBBS: Thank you, guys.
KEILAR: History made in Alaska as a Democrat upsets Sarah Palin in a special House election. What will happen in a November rematch?
BERMAN: And just released, new body cam footage showing a police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man in his bed. The details just coming in to CNN.