Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Department of Justice Releases Secret Recording of Meeting of Members of Oath Keepers which Discusses Possible Violence and Former President Trump Invoking Insurrection Act; Man Arrested in Connection with Kidnapping of Family in California; Parts of Florida Continue Recovery Efforts after Hurricane Ian; Former President Trump Asks Supreme Court to Intervene in Review of Documents Seized from His Residence at Mar-a-Lago. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 05, 2022 - 08:00   ET



DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: But again, we know for sure that there were some guns on Capitol grounds.

And Brianna, that doesn't even count what happened off Capitol grounds. Alleged riot participants affiliated with the far-right Oath Keepers are currently on trial for the crime of seditious conspiracy, and prosecutors have alleged that they stored guns across the river in Virginia for a so-called quick reaction force on that day, January 6th.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Daniel, thank you so much for taking us through that. We appreciate it.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

A secret recording released this morning in the nation's historic sedition trial. It is Wednesday, October 5th. I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman. The Justice Department releasing tapes that prosecutors played during day two of the sedition trial of five members of the Oath Keepers, as Daniel Dale just mentioned there. The recordings come from an alleged November 2020, Oath Keepers meeting.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Members of the far-right militia group were secretly recorded by a meeting attendee. In the discussion they talked about bringing weapons to Washington and being prepared to fight for former President Trump.

KEILAR: CNN law enforcement correspondent Whitney Wild is here with more on this. Whitney?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it was a huge moment at the very beginning of a trial that could last six weeks and one that Defense as well as the Department of Justice agree is one of the most important trials in decades.


WILD: A new recording released by the Department of Justice of an alleged November 2020 planning meeting of the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers.

STEWART RHODES, OATH KEEPERS: You've got to be willing to go D.C. and street fight Antifa. And you've got to get them to street fight, because they're going to try to attack people. Don't be afraid. Go there in large numbers. That's why we need to be there.

WILD: Federal prosecutors played the secretly recorded audio during the second day of the trial of five associates of the Oath Keepers facing seditious conspiracy charges. All five defendants have pleaded not guilty. This is the first major piece of evidence presented at the trial that prosecutors have used to support their allegation the group planned to descend on Washington to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.

RHODES: If the fight comes, let the fight come. Let Antifa go. If they go kinetic on us, then we'll go kinetic back on them. I'm willing to sacrifice myself for that. That would give President Trump what he needs, frankly. If things go kinetic, good. If they throw bombs up and shoot us, great, because that brings the president his reason and rationale for dropping the Insurrection Act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the things you have to prove in a conspiracy case is that there's an agreement to commit a future crime. And this tape actually is that agreement occurring in real time as it's happening. So it's very powerful evidence.

WILD: In his second day on the stand, the prosecution's first witness, FBI agent Michael Palian, confirming the authenticity of the audio Tuesday, testifying the meeting lasted two hours and was secretly recorded by an attendee. Palian confirmed during cross examination that the audio does not state January 6th as the date the group wanted to go to Washington but instead was referencing a March in November 2020 that saw no violation.

The audio predominately features Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes who advocates for pressure on Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and tells members they should be prepared to fight.

RHODES: We're not getting out of this without a fight. There's going to be a fight. But let's do it smart, and let's do it while President Trump is still Commander in Chief, and let's try to get him to do his duty and step up and do it . So that's why you guys have to have discipline. Don't make it easy for them to pop you with a conspiracy charge.

WILD: Also on the recording is Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs discussing what weapons are legal in Washington D.C.

KELLY MEGGS, OATH KEEPERS: Pepper spray is legal, Tasers are legal, and stun guns are legal. And it doesn't hurt to have a led pipe with a flag on it.

WILD: Palian testified the person who recorded the meeting sent the tip to the FBI later in 2020 but was not contacted by agents. The person resubmitted the tip in March 2021, and it was then investigated. One defendant in the case, Thomas Caldwell, says he was not an active member of the group. Palian testified that he was, quote, part of the group, even if he did not formally pay dues. Caldwell spoke outside the courthouse.

THOMAS CALDWELL, DEFENDANT, ALLEGED OATH KEEPER: It went well. It went well. There's a long way to go, and the truth is going to come out. The truth is going to come out. And I have all faith in my lord and savior Jesus Christ. It going to be fine.


WILD: The defense brought a different perspective about what this audio actually shows, and Brianna, what they were trying to get the jury to believe is that in fact what the audio shows is that they were working very diligently to stay within the confines of the law, and admitting at one point that while the comments are bombastic, they are not illegal.


KEILAR: We'll see if it flies, right. Whitney, thank you so much for that report.

And ahead we're going to speak to Stewart Rhodes' ex-wife with her reaction to the newly released audio.

BERMAN: This morning, police in California have a person of interest in custody in connection with the kidnapping of a family of four. The family has not been seen since Monday. CNN's Natasha Chen live in Los Angeles. Natasha, what's the latest here.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The 48-year-old person of interest taken into custody was arrested after the sheriff's office in the Merced area said that an ATM card belonging to one of the kidnap victims was used in a bank transaction. Now, the 48-year-old in custody, they're still working to confirm whether that person is the same as the man seen in these surveillance pictures taken on Monday from the original kidnapping scene. The man described on Monday was a man with a shaved head, last seen wearing a hooded sweatshirt there, considered armed and dangerous.

The 48-year-old they had in custody tried to take his own life before law enforcement involvement yesterday. So he's now receiving medical treatment and considered in critical condition, John.

BERMAN: Any notion of a possible motive or connection?

CHEN: This is extremely strange. The Merced County sheriff posted a video to Facebook saying we have no motive behind it, we just know that they are gone. And that includes that eight-month-old baby you saw, Aroohi Dheri, her parents, Jasleen Kaur, Jasdeep Singh, and the child's uncle Amandeep Singh. We also know the timeline of events. This all started on Monday at about 11:40 in the morning when they CHP California Highway Patrol, responded to a 2020 Dodge Ram on fire. They tracked down the truck's owner, went to that address. A family member was there, but nobody could reach the adults that were missing. And by 1:00 p.m. on Monday, the Merced County sheriff responded to a

business on Highway 59, determined that the family was taken against their will, and then, of course, Tuesday morning found that an ATM card was used in Atwater, California, just 15 to 20 minutes away, all of this about 130, 140 miles southeast of San Francisco. So we know very little about potential motive here, but we're also expecting a press conference in about five hours. So we're hoping to learn more then, John.

BERMAN: Perhaps. Is all so, so troubling. Natasha Chen, thank you so much.

KEILAR: Happening today, President Biden and the first lady will head to one of the hardest hit areas of southwest Florida to see firsthand the devastation left behind by hurricane Ian. The storm is now blamed for the death of at least 109 people. Let's bring in CNN's Carlos Suarez who is standing by live in Matlacha, Florida. Carlos, tell us about the president's schedule today.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, good morning. The president and the first lady are expected here in southwest Florida later this afternoon. He'll be joined by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the FEMA administrator. According to the White House schedule, Air Force One will be wheels down in Fort Myers at 12:45 this afternoon. From there the president and first lady will board Marine One, and they're going to get an aerial look at some of the hardest hit areas of southwest Florida. We're talking about Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, and Pine Island. From there the president and the first lady are expected to get a look at the damage on the ground near Fort Myers Beach. Then they're going to meet with emergency officials as well as residents. And then at some point this afternoon the president is expected to deliver remarks on the damage as well as the rebuilding effort. John?

BERMAN: Carlos, I've seen that damage from the air there. It is jaw- dropping to just look at a what has been destroyed, particularly on Fort Myers Beach. Sanibel Island, which has been cut off because that causeway as knocked down, or parts of the causeway knocked down, we do understand that people will be taken back to the island by boat today. What can you tell us about this, Carlos?

SUAREZ: Yes, John, so folks that live on Sanibel Island are getting their first chance to go back home since this storm. However, it's not without a bit of controversy. Emergency officials out here understandably are being very strict with the folks that can get back on to Sanibel. You have to have a special pass, you have to be a resident, and they're only allowing one guest.

Now here in Matlacha, folks have been taking boats every single day out to a barrier island in Pine Island because the bridge that connects the barrier island out to Cape Coral and Matlacha here was taken out. The National Guard has been working around the clock to try to get a temporary bridge. The effort out here is also not without its own controversy. Some residents have expressed some discomfort with the fact that they felt they were not being given enough supplies to remain on Pine Island, which is why imagine officials made the effort to get the National Guard to start air dropping some of these supplies, food and water.


The folks out here, we were here yesterday, rather, and the folks are literally just showing up here, boats will pull up to this stock behind me, and the boat captains will just ask, does anybody need to get out on to Pine Island? They say yes, you board that boat, they'll take you over there. You get a look at what you can, and then they bring you right back. John?

BERMAN: People helping out where they can. Carlos Suarez in Matlacha, thank you so much.

KEILAR: Former president Donald Trump is asking the Supreme Court to intervene in the dispute over the classified material that was seized from his Mar-a-Lago home. Justice Clarence Thomas, the recipient of Trump's Abby Phillip, is giving the Justice Department one week to respond. Joining us now is CNN senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic. What is the likelihood here that the Supreme Court will actually take this case?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: I think they'd be inclined not to take it up. It's the atmosphere that seems so big. The legal issue is actually quite narrow. First of all, it involves the former president, materials from his estate in Mar-a-Lago, materials that the Department of Justice says have national security implications. So it's all cloaked in everything that has to do with Donald Trump, and it comes to the Supreme Court at a time when the court itself is under intense scrutiny because of how much it reordered national life during its most recent term.

But the actual legal question here, Brianna, is very narrow. It has to do only with the portion of the document that the Department of Justice does not want to turn over to the special master for review because they have been marked classified and the department says there are national security implications here.

Now, the Supreme Court has -- coming to the Supreme Court in this emergency posture, as the former president has done, he needs five votes of the nine. He has to also show that there would be some harm to him if the Supreme Court didn't intervene at this point. And the standard is pretty high because it's out of the normal order of things. The court has given -- or I should say Justice Clarence Thomas, always in the news when it regards former President Trump and his supporters, such as his wife, Ginni Thomas, but Justice Clarence Thomas is involved specifically here because he happens to have authority over the 11th Circuit that covers Florida, and he has given the Department of Justice until next week, October 11th, 5:00 p.m. to file its response. Then the court is likely to let former President Trump come in one last time, and then it will issue an order, or actually say we want more briefing, or maybe oral arguments. Unlikely, very unlikely that it would take that drastic step.

KEILAR: Very unlikely. All right, Joan. We will be watching to see if maybe they do defy expectations and decide to take it up. We'll see. Joan Biskupic, thank you so much. More on the secret recordings of the Oath Keepers allegedly planning for violence on January 6th. The leader's ex-wife will join NEW DAY next.

BERMAN: Angelina Jolie accusing ex-husband Brad Pitt of choking one of their children back in 2016. What a new court filing reveals.

And emotional testimony this morning for the families of Sandy Hook victims as conspiracy theorist Alex Jones decides not to take the stand in the defamation trial against him.



BERMAN: New audio released by the Department of Justice of members of the Oath Keepers allegedly making preparations for violence before January 6th.


STEWART RHODES, OATH KEEPERS LEADER: If the fight comes, let the fight come. Let Antifa go -- if they go kinetic on us, then we'll go kinetic back on them. I'm willing to sacrifice myself for that.

If they go kinetic, good. If they blow bombs up and shoot us, great. Because that brings the president his reason and rationale for dropping the Insurrection Act.

If you're going to have to a fight guys, you want to start now while he's commander in chief. You do not want to waste this opportunity and het him feel like he has no support.

So, our mission is going to be to go into DC, but I do want some Oath Keepers to stay on the outside and to stay fully armed and prepared to go in armed if they have to. So if the shit kicks off, then you rock and roll.


BERMAN: Federal prosecutors played the audio from the Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes on the second day of the group's seditious conspiracy trial. It's a first major piece of evidence prosecutors have used to establish a plan by a far right group to allegedly descend on Washington, D.C. and opposed a lawful transfer of power.

Rhodes' ex-wife Tasha Adams is with us. She did help Rhodes start the Oath Keeper which she has since said she regrets.

Tasha, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

You've obviously known Stewart a lot longer than the rest of the world and in a lot of different ways. When you hear that recording, what do you hear?

TASHA ADAMS, EX-WIFE OF STEWART RHODES: It's just how Stewart talked. I can't count the number of times I've heard that there was a quote in there, don't make it easy to get a conspiracy charge and toward the end there, this was a phrase I heard again and again and again. It's interesting that someone finally recorded him saying it.

He would huddle his guy up like a football team before they went out and give them a lecture on conspiracy and why they're at risk for it. And yet, part of that is because he was so good at walking those legal lines, each individual act would in most cases be considered technically legal, just not when you put it all together, when you look at what they were, you know, planning to do eventually.

BERMAN: Let me actually play the exact clip you're talking about there where he refers to the notion of a conspiracy. Let's listen.


RHODES: We're in an era now, where everything you say is being monitored, but now this phone call is being recorded by the NSA and the FBI and CIA, I'm sure. And everything you say can and will be used against you. So, that's why you guys got to have discipline. Don't make it easy for them to pop you with a conspiracy charge and do what they did to those guys in Michigan they got them hot on the collar, probably after a few beers, and they got them talking smack. So, be disciplined.


BERMAN: So, you hear his legal mind, Yale law graduate, his legal mind at work there.


ADAMS: Yes. That is just something he was hyper aware of at all times. You even hear him saying this call is probably being monitored. That's how he lived. He spoke in the house as though he was continually being monitored at any given time.

It was why I was so afraid he had not been arrested, because I thought maybe he had walked that line just fine enough but I don't think he did this time.

BERMAN: What's his relationship or attitude toward violence?

ADAMS: He has no limits when it comes to violence. His only limit on violence is, what does he think he can get away with. Though he is risk adverse for himself, he doesn't want to get hurt, he certainly has not limits on engineering violence from the other side, from no limits on justifying it for anything that he thinks is a good cause, whatever that may be at any given time and that can change with someone like him.

BERMAN: How much faith do you believe he had in others to walk the line that he's calling on them to act and for others to behave in the way he was hoping, namely the former President Donald Trump?

ADAMS: He really believed he could control people with his voice, as long as he got in front of them, which is why I did believe that there was a moment where he asked to speak to Trump directly. It sounds like him. It sounds like he was becoming fearful and he wanted to regain that control and wanted to use his voice to manipulate even Donald Trump.

BERMAN: So, look, this is a court case. And a jury could decide that he is not guilty. What do you think happens if Stewart Rhodes is found not guilty?

ADAMS: If he is found not guilty, he rises again. The only thing stopping him from being the great hero on the extreme right was that for a short time there they suspected he might be some type of informant. Well, now he's paid his dues in that department, he's been in jail.

I believe he even said going to jail would help him in the movement, at least in the eyes of the movement. There's nothing if he's acquitted stopping him from rising up, becoming a great hero and a martyr and a leader all at once and doing this again.

BERMAN: Tasha Adams, we do appreciate your unique perspective on this. Thank you.

ADAMS: Thank you.

BERMAN: Angelina Jolie details abuse allegations against ex-husband Brad Pitt. How Pitt is responding this morning.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And Aaron Judge hitting a record breaking home run.


SPORTS ANCHOR: He's done it! He has done it! Sixty-two! Aaron judge is the American League single season --




BERMAN: Actress Angelina Jolie is countersuing her ex-husband Brad Pitt and the filing details an alleged 2016 physical altercation. The two were currently battling over what used to be a jointly owned French winery, but a court document also alleged Pitt abused Jolie during a flight.

I want to bring in CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas.

Chloe, give us the story here.


Well, more details are coming to light about that incident that took place in 2016 that caused Angelina Jolie to file for divorce a few days later. But Brad Pitt, he has a lot to say about it.


MELAS (voice-over): Brad Pitt denying new allegations about an alleged 2016 physical altercation with his then wife Angelina Jolie after Jolie's legal team made disturbing claims of violence in a counter suit filed Tuesday.

In a statement to CNN, a representative for Pitt responded, quote, Jolie's story continues to evolve each time she tells it, with new unsubstantiated claims.

Brad has accepted responsibility for what he did but will not for the things he didn't do. These new allegations are completely untrue.

The new allegations of violence are the latest in the bitter legal battle involving the couple's French estate and winery, Chateau Miraval.

In a countersuit, while trying to explain why Jolie separated from Pitt, Jolie claims the marriage came to an end while flying to their Los Angeles home from Chateau Miraval in 2016. Jolie claims Pitt was, quote, physically and emotionally abusive to Jolie and her children during the flight and at one point Pitt grabbed Jolie by the head and shook her and then grabbed her shoulders and shook her again.

The document continues, quote, Pitt shook one of the children and struck another in the face. Some of the children pleaded with Pitt to stop. They were all frightened, many were crying.

The countersuit also claims that the children, quote, rushed in and bravely tried to protect each other. For this reason, the legal documents state Jolie and her six children had not been able to return to Chateau Miraval due to the, quote, pain Pitt inflicted on the family that day.

CNN previously reported some of these details from a heavily redacted FBI report the home because of what happened that day. Pitt was not arrested or charged in connection with the incident after the FBI's investigation.

Pitt filed a lawsuit in February against Jolie after Jolie sold her stake in the winery. Pitt claims he and Jolie had an agreement neither with sell without the other's consent. In her countersuit, Jolie claims there was no such agreement.

The Oscar winning couple who starred in two movies together split after that flight in September 2016, and Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt five days later.

A dissolution of their marriage was granted in 2019, but their legal battles over property and custody of their children continue.