Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
Trump To Be Arraigned Tuesday After Historic Criminal Indictment; Trump Lawyer Says Former President Will Not Accept Plea Deal; Graham Mocks NYC Crime: Trump Should "Punch A Cop" & Get Released. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 31, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Kaitlan Collins. Welcome to CNN PRIMETIME.
We have brand-new details, tonight, on the first-ever indictment, of a former President, just days before Donald Trump's expected surrender, including new reporting, on when cameras are expected to capture the President, as he makes his first court appearance.
It's an unprecedented moment, in United States' history. And we're learning of extensive security measures that are being taken, both here in New York, and on Capitol Hill, in anticipation of possible protest.
Maggie Haberman will join us, in a moment, with her new reporting, on the hush money case, against him.
Also, one of the Republicans, who voted to impeach Trump, says of all the things to go after him for? This isn't it. He's also going to join us, in this hour.
We also have one of the former President's attorneys, right now.
Publicly, Trump has not been keeping his feelings close to the vest, on all of this. Instead, lashing out at the judge that he is actually due to appear before, on Tuesday, alleging on social media that Judge Juan Manuel Merchan was quote, "Handpicked" by the prosecution, and "Hates me."
This is also the same judge, we should note, who oversaw the Trump Organization trial, and the sentencing of the former Trump financial chief, Allen Weisselberg.
And for the first time, since Trump's indictment, we are also now hearing from the woman, at the center of it all, Stormy Daniels, who was the recipient of the hush money payout, at the center of this case. The adult film star says that the threats against her are only intensifying, tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM STAR: This time it's straight up violent. You know, like, the first time it was like, gold digger, slut, whore, you know, liar, whatever. And this time it's like - I'm going to murder you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you frightened?
DANIELS: For the first time ever, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: More on that interview, in a moment, as Daniels also told the British paper, The Times, that she believes the Trump indictment is monumental. But she added this, quote, "He's done so much worse that he should have been taken down [for] before. I am fully aware of the insanity of it being a porn star."
Let's bring in CNN's Katelyn Polantz now, with more, on what we know is coming next.
Katelyn, obviously, the big questions, tonight, are what is going to happen, over the next several days. What is this going to look like, before we get to Tuesday?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE SENIOR REPORTER: Well, Kaitlan, there's going to be a couple days of waiting, until Donald Trump then makes the journey, from Florida, his resort, in Mar-a-Lago, where he has been, to New York City, where he's going to be facing, the justice system, for the first time, on Tuesday.
Tuesday is going to be a day of a lot of activity, inside the courthouse, in Manhattan. He's going to be surrendering, on Tuesday. He's going to be fingerprinted. He's going to be processed. There will be photographs taken, of him.
He's going to be walking down a hall, into the courtroom, where we do expect there to be cameras, capturing him, as he enters that courtroom.
It's not clear just yet if there's going to be cameras that will also be allowed, inside the courtroom, to see what happens then. Perhaps, there will be still photographers, there. That's going to be up to the judge.
But then, once Donald Trump is inside the courtroom, he's going to be arraigned, like anyone, who faces charges would be. He's going to be read his charges. He will be able to enter a plea. We do expect him to claim that he is not guilty, right now, that there is no plea deal in the future, at any point that he's going to be fighting his charges.
And then, his attorneys, we know, they have been out there, saying what might happen, in the future, of this case. Some of that could be discussed, in court, before the judge, on Tuesday. But the attorneys have already said that they're planning on challenging these charges, filing motions, to get them thrown out.
But, at this point in time, we don't know the charges. Donald Trump, and his team, they don't know the charges. We know there are many, somewhere around 30 or more very, very likely, there's at least one felony charge in there, with that many, being levied against him.
And we do know that as this case progresses, there's going to be a lot of legal tests applied to it, and the judge will have a chance, to consider all of Trump's behavior, as well as what is being alleged, in those charges, whether they can go to trial.
COLLINS: Yes, a lot of questions that still remain, as we wait for Tuesday.
Katelyn Polantz, thank you.
As Katelyn noted there, former President Trump, and his advisers, are still waiting to see what these charges are looking like. While they do, they're gaming out how the surrender is going to play out, on Tuesday.
Kristen Holmes is outside Mar-a-Lago, where the former President is expected to remain this weekend, before he heads here, to New York, on Monday.
Kristen, I know you've been talking to people, around Trump, and in his inner circle. What are they saying about how he's been responding behind-the-scenes?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, right now, what's going on is that we're really hearing from sources that that plan for Trump's trip, to New York, is coming into focus.
What we had seen, in the last 24 hours, was essentially Trump's team behind the curve. They seem to be learning, all of their information, from news reports, from leaks. They were not actually, understanding, forming a plan, and they said to me that they were operating, really, in the dark.
Now it seems as though they're coming forward with a plan, for Tuesday. As you said, they are planning, to arrive, on Monday, in New York. And I was told, by a source, close to Trump, this is expected to be a quick trip.
Now, as for former President Trump, you said this yourself. He is not holding back what he is doing, behind closed doors. He is all over social media. He is forming his own narrative, as he loves to do. He is attacking Alvin Bragg. He is calling this a political witch-hunt, a hoax. He is linking Bragg to Joe Biden.
And, as you mentioned, he is also attacking the judge that he's expected to appear before, on Tuesday. And I talked to a number of security experts, who are really concerned about that, in particular.
This is Donald Trump airing his grievances. And it's not just Trump, who is taking this on, who is waging war, who is creating this narrative. It's also his team, and his Republican allies. We have seen Republican after Republican, in the House, step forward, say, they support Donald Trump, put out these tweets, defend him. And they are all spinning a narrative that this is a Democrat's fault, and that Donald Trump didn't do anything wrong. Obviously, also heard that, from his own rival, a potential rival, in 2024, Ron DeSantis.
So, this is playing out the way his team wants it to, in terms of Republicans, rallying, behind him. Of course, the question still remains what this all looks like, as we enter this 2024 race, and if this actually does continue to help him in politically, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Yes. It's clearly putting Republicans behind him, for right now. We'll see if that holds.
Kristen Holmes, thank you very much.
For more on all of this, I want to bring in Maggie Haberman, who is Senior Political Correspondent, for The New York Times, and a CNN Political Analyst, and of course, the Author of "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America."
And also Joey Jackson, a criminal defense attorney, and CNN Senior - CNN Legal Analyst.
Thank you both for joining me tonight.
Maggie, I mean, you heard what Kristen was talking about there, what's happening behind-the-scenes, with Trump. They're also coming out with these new fundraising numbers, claiming that they have raised a ton of cash, in the last 24 hours, since Trump was indicted.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. And they're very happy about that. And they had been gearing up for that.
One thing that had been very striking in the last two days is Trump's political team was - they were all caught off-guard, his political team and his legal team.
But his political team had been preparing, for this moment. They had all sorts of things in place. And this fundraising effort was a part of that. They are trying to push as much as they can, to make sure they are capitalizing, on this moment.
And they're doing it fairly effectively. I mean, if you look at the results so far, in terms of how many Republicans are, including his opponents, are in the primary, are speaking out in support of him? That only gets him so far.
There is still the legal reality. And they know that. And they know that it is a very long weekend, until Tuesday. And they need to keep him from - you know, he's been attacking the judge, as you noted. We have seen a bunch of that. They want to keep him from doing something even more explosive.
COLLINS: What have you heard, about his mindset? Because, Joe Tacopina did confirm your reporting, about them being shocked about it this morning. That's the Trump attorney, handling this case. Has he digested it, in the 24 hours, since it's come down? What is that looking like?
HABERMAN: As you know, we have seen, with Trump, over many, many explosive moments, there's a little bit of calm, when it first happens. And then, as he stews on it, he has and--
COLLINS: Watches the coverage.
HABERMAN: --and watches the coverage, he has a more significant reaction. We're still in that stewing on it, and watching, and not exploding period, yet.
What he is doing is soliciting opinions, from almost everyone around him. "How's it playing politically? What do you think of my lawyers? What should I be doing, in case of X, Y, or Z?" When he feels cornered or trapped or under pressure, he tends to open more avenues, for people, to reach him. He doesn't close them down. And so, there is a lot of soliciting comment.
COLLINS: And Joey, of course, what we're waiting to see are what the charges actually look like. Because, yes, he's coming to surrender, but that's also, when we expect them to be unsealed.
You do expect there to be felonies in there, I assume, given the number of the charges and the seriousness of this. What do you think that's going to look like?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, so I do.
So before that, just an issue about the judge? Juan Merchan, I know Juan Merchan.
COLLINS: You know him.
JACKSON: I do, indeed. We went to law school, together. He was a year ahead of me. We served in the District Attorney's Office. He's a jurist, a very intelligent man, very God-fearing, Christian man. And I think he's certainly up to this task, notwithstanding the attacks.
Pivoting to the actual question at hand, we understand that it will be 30 counts or more. That's from reporting. But it is sealed. And to the extent that it's sealed, what happens, Kaitlan, is that we don't have an opportunity, to digest it. What does it say? What are the legal theories, right? What did the counts actually pertain to?
But I would just imagine, although you can indict certainly, on a misdemeanor, that there would be felonies of import. So, we're all pundits and, trying to even defend or game-out. It's tough to do, because I don't know what specifically Alvin Bragg put in there, with respect to the grand jury.
[21:10:00] Last point, and that's this. There's a process. And we could attack it all we want, and talk about Alvin Bragg, and everything else. The end of the day, there are mechanisms.
You have a grand jury, consisting of 23 people. A majority vote out an indictment, right? It says, "Is there a reasonable cause to believe that a crime was committed? And did Donald Trump commit it?"
And then thereafter, there are motions. You could attack the legal sufficiency of the charges. You can attack whether or not the legal theories are appropriate, and should they be charged. You can have various hearings.
You have a proceeding where, and then of course, you have a jury, where 12 people have to decide. So, not what whatever anyone says about it, there's a process. This is how our democracy works. And I think we should wait and see what the specifics are of the indictment before people pass judgment.
COLLINS: You think Trump could get himself in trouble, with his attacks on the judge?
JACKSON: So, I don't. I think that the end of the day, like any other defendant, he's entitled to his due process. I don't think it really helps the system along, when you attack personally, the judge, the prosecutor, anyone else involved.
But, I think, we have to be very careful, because like any other defendant, you want to preserve and protect his rights, give him his due process, allow him his day in court, and to allow him to air his grievances.
On that issue, it's one thing to talk about the fact that "You know what? This is all political. It's a witch-hunt. It's this-that." That's public relations. That's for electioneering.
It's going to be another matter, to specifically defend the charges, and talk about, right, what your justifications are, for doing that, which is alleged that you have done. So, I think those are going to be totally separate attacks.
HABERMAN: But Trump tends to conflate those two things, and always has, PR strategy with legal strategy. That is something that we saw play out over and over, in the White House, as he was under multiple investigations. He did that for decades, when he was a private businessman.
At a certain point, the PR strategy, I think, can be undermining, to the legal strategy. And, I think, you're right, we don't know what the charges are. His team can't form a legal strategy yet, because they don't know what the charges are.
HABERMAN: They are in the dark as much as we are. And, as I understand it, they're getting minimal information, from the D.A.'s office, even just in the lead up, to the arraignment.
HABERMAN: But I do think that that is a risk for them.
COLLINS: Yes. And a big question, of course, of the legal strategy, of attacking the judge that you're going to appear before, on Tuesday, what does that look like? What is that strategy?
There have been a lot of questions, about this indictment. And as we are still waiting to see what they look like, there are some basic ones that we do know, which is obviously Trump is running for office. He is indicted. He has said he's not going to drop out of the race, if he is indicted. Clearly, he can still run, given that he's indicted.
What's it going to look like, in reality, on Tuesday, when it comes to the fingerprints, to the mug shot? What Katelyn Polantz was talking about there, that there will be a camera, to capture him, walking down the hall? Maybe not in actual courtroom, but there will be one to see him going in?
JACKSON: Yes, Kaitlan, I think, the first reality is New York has a very strict, really, rule with respect to cameras in the courtroom. And it is up to individual judges, as to whether they allow, or don't allow. We're like the only State in the Union, right--
JACKSON: --that does not permit and allow for these cameras.
And I'm wondering, in furtherance of your question, because the public wants to know, and this is very much a public interest kind of situation? And so, does it further the interests of the public, to have cameras, in the courtroom, so that there cannot be any one spin, as to whether the judge was unfair, whether he was treated, in a way that was disrespectful or inappropriate.
Let everyone see the process, witness how it works, right, so that we can buy in and trust the process. But with respect to how it'll work? It'll work like every defendant, and it should, because every defendant is entitled to go up before the court, and be treated the same.
And what that'll look like is I think he'll waive a public reading of the charges. I don't think we'll see a judge up there, reading count one, count two, count three, or a clerk.
I think his attorneys will do what most of us do, which is waive a formal reading of the charges, enter a plea of not guilty, and let's get it on. And get it on, means, there'll be discovery, at some subsequent time. That's legal documents that are submitted, right? What does the evidence say? What does it show?
And then, to the point you made earlier, because the attorneys don't know what it looks like, they then will.
JACKSON: And could make the appropriate motions, to challenge the evidence, before them.
COLLINS: Yes. I mean, what do you think? I mean, if there is a camera, in the room? That's a remarkable moment in and of itself. But it could be important to actually get a clear view of what happened inside that courtroom.
HABERMAN: Absolutely. And there is a compelling public interest argument to make. It is absolutely true that New York--
HABERMAN: --is really regressive, in terms of cameras in the courtroom. I do expect there'll be an argument made. I'm not sure what the ruling will be on that.
But it's interesting. I was thinking, as you were asking that question, there, one of the things we saw over and over, both with Michael Cohen, in terms of Trump, and then other people, in the White House? People have a habit of taping Donald Trump. And they have a habit of taping Donald Trump, because he spins his own reality, and will contradict whatever people say about him.
A camera would be pretty vital, in terms of people understanding what happened, and not being told that something, it's fake news. And in an era, where Trump is saying that--
HABERMAN: --all of these reports are not true? I think there is a compelling argument for it. I am skeptical that it will happen. Just I covered courts in the State. I know how against cameras in the courtroom judges are here.
HABERMAN: But I do think there is going to be a compelling argument made.
JACKSON: And even toggling to the actual trial itself, imagine, right, what the public interest in that will be?
JACKSON: And so, will there be cameras allowed, to depict what occurs, on the day-to-day, because I think certainly people would want to know.
HABERMAN: That's right.
COLLINS: Yes, obviously, remains to be seen. We'll see what we do see.
Joey Jackson, Maggie Haberman, thank you both for being here.
JACKSON: Thanks, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: All right, so of course, the big question is how Trump will actually fight these charges? One of the former President's defense attorneys will be here, with us, next.
COLLINS: Trump's own lawyers don't know what's in the indictment that we are waiting to be unsealed. That's because it remains under that secretive seal. But his attorneys are already laying out their plans, to fight it, including saying that there is quote, "Zero chance" that he takes a plea deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE TACOPINA, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: President Trump will not take a plea deal, in this case. It's not going to happen. There's no crime. I don't know if it's going to make the trial because we have substantial legal challenges that we have to front before we get to that point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Another of the former President's attorneys joins us now.
Tim Parlatore is representing Trump, in the Department of Justice's investigation, of efforts, to overturn the 2020 election, and January 6.
Good evening, Tim, and thank you so much for being here.
What do you expect Tuesday to look like?
TIMOTHY PARLATORE, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I think Tuesday is going to be relatively anticlimactic.
Arraignments, in New York State court, are pretty fast. I think the whole thing probably is going to take less than five minutes. They'll waive the reading, as Joey just said a few minutes ago. They won't really be arguing about bail. And then, he'll be out of there pretty quickly, I think.
COLLINS: There's been a question about the--
PARLATORE: So, I wouldn't expect too much--
PARLATORE: --the fireworks, if you will.
COLLINS: There's been a question of what the details of this will look like, including whether or not Trump is expected to be placed into handcuffs. Is it your understanding that that will not be happening, on Tuesday?
PARLATORE: I wouldn't think that that'd be happening. It's not really necessary. It's something that they do, when they have to transport somebody from the precinct.
But, here, he's coming in voluntarily. He's under a Secret Service detail protection. So, handcuffing him, for the protection of the officers, is not really something that's necessary. So, I wouldn't - I would not expect that at all.
COLLINS: You said, you think Tuesday will be anticlimactic. We've seen, of course, how law enforcement, here in New York, is preparing for this.
You know that courthouse well, and it does get a bit crazy down there. Are you concerned about security on that day?
PARLATORE: Oh, well, no. When I say anticlimactic, I mean, in the courtroom. What's going to happen outside is anybody's--
COLLINS: What about outside?
PARLATORE: --outside is anybody's guess. I mean, that's something I'm sure that the NYPD is putting in the extra hours, to make sure that they keep safe.
But it is definitely, it's a difficult area, of the city. You've got open parks, on both sides. It's a difficult area, to really control, with everything going on, down there, and as well as all the other court operations.
I mean, let's not forget, this is the New York City Criminal Court. So, every single day, you have hundreds of accused criminals, right, by the nature of the building, walking in and out.
So, it is, I think, it's going to be a massive problem, for the NYPD. But I'm sure they're working on that right now.
COLLINS: We've seen Republicans, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, and others, say that they plan to come to protest the indictment. Does that help, or does that hurt?
PARLATORE: I don't think that it may - has any effect on what happens in the courtroom. Certainly, to the extent that the public - the public reaction will influence, whether the D.A. thinks that this is a good idea to proceed with this.
This is a case that everything that I've seen indicates that it's likely to get dismissed by a judge anyway. So, I don't know how much the public protests are really going to sway the judge on that. COLLINS: Yes. We don't really actually know if it's going to get dismissed. I know that's certainly a possibility. It still remains to be seen what these charges are. But I'm glad you brought up--
PARLATORE: Yes that's--
COLLINS: --I'm glad you brought up the judge.
COLLINS: Because Trump has been trashing him, been heavily critical, saying that the judge he believe, quote, "Hates me," spells his name incorrectly, in that process, earlier.
Is anyone counseling him that it may not be the best idea to go and criticize the judge that he is going to be arraigned before, on Tuesday?
PARLATORE: Well, here's the problem. You have a client, who is also a presidential candidate. And so, it's not like a normal situation, where you tell the client, "Hey, don't say anything, don't talk about anything," because the case is the single most important thing in their life. He is running for president. So, he's already - got the campaign apparatus, and everything else.
I mean, I know Judge Merchan. I've tried a case, in front of him, before. He can be tough. I don't think that it's necessarily going to be something that's going to change his ability, to evaluate the facts, and the law, in this case.
So, you really do have that kind of balancing act when you have a client, who is also a candidate for office.
COLLINS: Well, no one is saying that Trump shouldn't be able to defend himself. But it sounds like you think this judge will actually be fair, and does not hate Trump, as he said?
PARLATORE: I wouldn't say that. I mean, I tried a case, in front of him, a few years ago that had different political implications. I don't know what he would specifically - what his specific views on this client would be. But, he's tough. He was definitely not easy on us, in that case. I did win.
But I - the law on these types of things, whether it's the campaign finance issue, or the intent to defraud that is within the business records, falsification statutes, are things that there is pretty significant case law on, controlling case law, from the New York Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.
So, I think that it'd be - he would be very hard-pressed, to ignore that precedent, and allow this case to go forward, in light of that.
COLLINS: Yes. We'll see what the judge decides, on Tuesday.
This is such a significant case. And, of course, everyone has noted, just how historic, this indictment is. You heard from Joe Tacopina, earlier today, saying there is no chance there's a plea deal here.
Do you think that Joe Tacopina is the right person to take this case, to trial, for your client, Trump?
PARLATORE: Well, I know that Susan Necheles is a phenomenal attorney, who's working on all the legal aspects of this.
As to who's going to try the case? I know that Joe has certain potential conflict issues, given his prior contacts, with Stormy Daniels. So, who's the right attorney, to take it to trial, is something that the client will have to decide. Ultimately, the decision of who to stand next to, before a jury, is a decision that only the client can make.
COLLINS: It sounds like you don't think that Joe Tacopina can. And you think he has a conflict of interest here and will ultimately be the person, representing Trump, in this case?
PARLATORE: I'm not going to comment on Joe Tacopina.
My last question for you is you were representing Trump, in the January 6 investigation. You recently went before the grand jury, in that investigation, in December.
COLLINS: Can you still represent Trump, and do so effectively, if you have gone before the grand jury, and are technically a witness?
PARLATORE: Sure. Because what I went in for - into the grand jury was in the place of a Custodian of Records.
And so, it was really to talk about our efforts, to comply with this subpoena, and to search all of the locations, and to find any marked documents, after the raid, on Mar-a-Lago. And so, everything that we did, there, is something that we wanted to tell the jury. It's all very exonerating.
And so, it's something that I've - we discussed it, and we decided that I was going to go in, I'd be the best person to go in, and explain to the jury that in a case, where they have to prove willful retention of documents? What the facts actually show is a persistent pattern of willful return of marked documents, whenever they were found. And so, I went through all that with the jury.
COLLINS: OK. I think there definitely would be some dispute over that. Clearly, they are looking at obstruction, we know, from our reporting. But we will discuss much more on that another time, when we have you on again, for longer, hopefully.
COLLINS: Thank you for your time tonight.
PARLATORE: All right. Thank you.
COLLINS: All right. And as we noted, former President Trump has been calling, on protests, on his behalf, ahead of his arraignment, on Tuesday. We know law enforcement is increasing their presence, here, in New York City, but also, in Washington. The ramped-up security measures, that's ahead.
Plus, more from a new interview, with Stormy Daniels, who says she is now frightened. Does she wish that she never came forward? We'll tell you what she said. Stay with us.
COLLINS: The first-ever indictment of a former President has brought unique security challenges, to the lower Manhattan court complex, where Trump is expected to be arraigned, on Tuesday.
That's where CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is, right now.
Shimon, obviously, this is an extraordinary situation. It has raised just so many questions, about physically what this will look like, on Tuesday. What are you hearing, from people, on the ground, over there?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really is, Kaitlan.
When you think about it, and for the Manhattan D.A.'s office, who is used to dealing with high-profile cases, celebrities, who have walked through this door, behind me, to surrender? This is One Hogan Place, a really, a storied famous place, where many significant defendants, celebrities have surrendered.
And it is expected that potentially those are the doors that the former President could walk through.
Keep in mind, interestingly enough his friends have walked through that door, to surrender. Steve Bannon, Weisselberg, who was the former CFO of Trump Org, they all walked through that door, after they surrendered.
But then just the security all around here, really, right now, already heightened.
Let me just show you here, Kaitlan, there are barricades, like this, all across, and around the building here. As already, police officials and court officials anticipating what Tuesday could look like, but they have already all of these security measures in place.
And then, come Monday, and then certainly Tuesday, we're going to see a much larger presence here, of police officers. Also, the courthouse here, under 24-hour security, now. The floor, the 15th floor that Donald Trump, is expected to appear on? That is now closed, so no one from the public can even go, on that floor, as everyone anticipates, and expect for that - waits, for that appearance, on Tuesday, here, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Yes, so many questions, about actually seeing him, walk down those halls, and such a good point about the people he's - he knows that have turned themselves in there.
Shimon Prokupecz, we know you'll be on top of this. Thank you.
In the wake of Trump's indictment, Stormy Daniels, tonight, is talking about the growing threats, to her own personal safety.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: The first time around, I probably got a straight up, like, death threat, you know, one in 100. It's like one in 10. And it's especially scary because Trump himself is inciting violence and encouraging it and getting away with it.
And I don't, I'm not afraid of him or the, you know, the government. But it just takes one crazy supporter who thinks they're doing, you know, God's work or you know, protecting democracy, you know. And it's - I mean I'm just looking at a couple of things that have come through in the last two hours and they're way more violent and graphic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: I want to bring in John Miller, CNN's Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst, who is also the former NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism.
You hear from Stormy Daniels there, saying the threats are worse to her, this time. They're actually death threats. They're not just criticisms, or insults.
Trump obviously has been calling her out, at his rallies, recently saying, she's not someone he would have an affair with.
He's also criticizing the judge, tonight, saying that Judge hates him, even though his own attorney just seem to disagree with that.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: And the D.A.
COLLINS: And, of course, Alvin Bragg, we all know he's been attacking him.
What does the protection look like, just for them, not just outside the courthouse, but also for these individuals, who are at the center of this?
MILLER: Really interesting question. And we've been tracking those threats all day. I've kind of been scrolling through them, on different social media platforms. And they come with everything, from talking about Civil War, to threats to the District Attorney, threats to the courthouse building, bomb scares.
So, Stormy Daniels is in that kind of vitriolic mix now. Stormy Daniels, as a private citizen, will have to deal with local law enforcement, wherever she is, and they'll have to determine whether these are credible threats, or hot air, online.
The NYPD is literally going through an inventory of these threats, on a streaming basis, every day. Last week, I think around midweek, they were up to 82. And I know the people in that unit, the Threat Assessment Unit. This week, were, way past 100. And--
COLLINS: And they kind of have to go through each one, and determine--
MILLER: And they'll--
COLLINS: --how credible it is--
COLLINS: --and whatnot?
MILLER: They're looking at the threats to the judge, and to the court. So, those threats go to the court officers. That's Intel for them, and they determine that protection.
Threats to the D.A.? His own detective squad provides his security. And we have seen that visibly amped up.
And threats to the building? Well, you were just with Shimon, a second ago. You see that ring is getting larger and harder, around.
COLLINS: It's quite large.
MILLER: You saw the detectives that said, "TARU," on the back, putting up cameras. That's the Technical Assistance Response Unit. They're creating video that will not only give them the ability, in the Operations Unit, to look around, at what's going on, and make command and control decisions, but also record any suspicious activity as well.
COLLINS: We're also talking about this, the logistics, of Tuesday, and what it looks like. You're hearing there may not actually be a mug shot, after all?
MILLER: So, they did the walkthrough, today. And they said, "This is where he's going in. This is where he's going to be booked. He's going to be fingerprinted here." That's going to Live Scan up to Albany. They have to run the prints. The prints come back. He's not wanted. We kind of know that already. But it's part of the process.
MILLER: What they don't have, where they're doing the booking, is the photo manager system that feeds into the mug shot database.
But the discussion on that has been actually fascinating, which is A, "We can worry about this later." B, it's not like everybody in the world doesn't know what he looks like. It's not like, if he flees to Switzerland, they're going to say, "Damn, we should have had that picture of him."
So they're saying, "This is something we can create from other photos, or add later." If he's convicted, that becomes a factor. If he's not convicted, in this case, and he's presumed innocent, obviously, that mug shot would be sealed anyway. And they're worried about the inevitable leak.
MILLER: So, the mug shot is an issue that they're going to get to later. So, no mug shot. Yes, fingerprints. He will get a NCIC (ph) number, which is in the criminal justice system. He will be charged with a felony. He won't be handcuffed. So, they're working through details that they normally wouldn't have to work through.
COLLINS: Yes, it's just extraordinary that the situation in and of itself and bizarre.
John Miller, we'll see if we actually see that mug shot. Thank you very much.
All right, also legally, the former President is in great jeopardy. But politically, do the criminal charges help him? Do they hurt his electability? What does history tell us? We're going to look at that.
Plus, one of the Republicans, who actually voted, to impeach Trump, is going to join me, live, here tonight. He says this indictment is quote, "Weak sauce."
COLLINS: Donald Trump's political life keeps making history. You can now add first former President indicted, for a crime, to that list.
He is certainly though not the first politician, to run, while under indictment, not even actually the first to run, for the White House. That was Eugene Debs, who ran for president, back in 1920, while in an Atlanta penitentiary. He still almost got a million votes.
There are more than two dozen members of Congress, who have also been indicted, since 1980. We've seen plenty of politicians actually still win office, while under indictment.
The banner year for it was actually in 2018, when Trump was in office, as President. That was the year that voters, in New York, reelected Republican Chris Collins, despite those charges of insider trading. As we know, he later pled guilty, to a single charge there. Also, in California, Duncan Hunter was sent back to Congress, as he was facing federal campaign corruption charges, to which he also later pleaded guilty.
Trump's familiar with both Collins' and Hunter's cases. Of course, he pardoned both men.
That year, also in Montana, Representative Greg Gianforte was reelected, even though he had been convicted of assault, after he body-slammed a journalist. He is now the Governor of Montana.
Democrats, in New Jersey, sent Bob Menendez, back to the Senate, after a jury deadlocked on 14 charges, including conspiracy, bribery and fraud against him.
Then there's also that case of Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton. He has actually been under indictment, for almost eight years now. In that time, the Republican has won reelection twice.
At least recent history would seem to indicate that indictment alone may not be enough for voters to see past the R, or the D, in front of their name.
Trump, of course, has long made clear, how he thinks his supporters will react to an indictment of his.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know what else they say about my people? The polls, they say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?
TRUMP: It's like incredible!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: One of the things that could also help Trump politically is the rush of Republicans that we have seen, racing to defend him.
Some of them, who even thought he was unfit for office, and voted to impeach him, are now criticizing the decision, to indict him. That includes our next guest, former Michigan congressman, Peter Meijer, who lost his primary, after he voted to impeach Trump.
Congressman, thank you for being here, tonight.
You have been critical, of this indictment. What do you make of it?
PETER MEIJER, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN, (R) VOTED TO IMPEACH DONALD TRUMP: Yes. Kaitlan, I care about precedent, right? And I think that is the hard thing, for so many to do, because Donald Trump, the man, is really hard to separate from anything. People have an opinion on him. Nobody is indifferent to him. Folks love him. They hate him. But the important point to remember about this issue is it's not about Donald Trump. It is about the idea of whether or not we should have a higher threshold, for folks, who are members of - or who are former Presidents, should we be treating them - we should - certainly shouldn't be treating them above the law, right? Nobody should be above the law.
But that question of whether or not this individual is also below the law, setting aside the salacious elements of this case, setting aside the fact that we're talking about allegedly, hush money, to a porn star, for an affair, right? That is salacious. But we're not talking about whether or not he's morally culpable, right?
MEIJER: This is a question of whether or not it is worthwhile to have a former President being indicted for what is essentially a minor accounting charge.
COLLINS: But on that, does it change--
MEIJER: And I am--
COLLINS: Does it change your view if there are--
MEIJER: --very, very concerned.
COLLINS: Does it change your view, if when we do see this indictment, once it is unsealed, if there's felony charges in there, does that change how you're seeing this at all?
MEIJER: Well, the most likely reason, from my understanding, of why it could be elevated to a felony, is if that falsification of business documents is in furtherance of another alleged crime.
In this case, I think the assumption is it's around a campaign finance charge that the FEC already looked at, at the federal level, shrug their shoulders out, and it did not pursue, right? So, there are attempts to now reengage that charge to elevate this falsification of business documents.
But again, I mean, this is a tenuous, tenuous test case. This is a novel theory. And I guarantee you, what we will see, after this - because, Donald Trump, let's be very clear, he was one of the least sympathetic defendants, in the history of criminal courts, right?
But this is not about Donald Trump. This is about how this will impact what could very well become a test pattern, of political prosecutions, going forward, because we do have prosecutorial discretion.
But there's also that deep, deep concern that this is going to lead to retributive acts. And we're just going to go onto a period of escalation that will be terrible, for this Republic. It will be terrible, for the rule of law. It'll be terrible for the perception of justice, as blind and a neutral arbiter.
COLLINS: Do you think Trump is innocent?
MEIJER: I have no idea. I think I don't believe, as Nancy Pelosi does, that it is up to him to prove his innocence.
Again, in the eyes of the law, we have a presumption of innocence. As my colleague, Kelly Armstrong, from North Dakota says, all you need to do is watch a Law & Order episode. And you'll get that in the first 30 seconds. But I think it's important that we let the facts of the actual case play out, right?
Now, we're assuming, based on what we've understood, from the D.A.'s, what's been kind of leaked out of the D.A.'s office that we have a rough understanding of that parameter. If it is something markedly different, I will reevaluate.
But I think it's also, if you look at the criminal liability, that is believed to be kind of swirling around Donald Trump, right now? The porn star hush money makes for the best headlines.
The Fulton County D.A. case, around election interference, and the January 6 special prosecutor, occurring at the federal level, those are cases that could have real meat on their bones.
And instead, this is where we are going. This is what is dominating the headlines. This is what is, improving ratings for news organizations, is boosting Donald Trump's fundraising, and probably even Joe Biden having a pretty great week.
COLLINS: Yes, you have seen even liberal legal experts raise concerns, about the other cases, and how this would affect those.
Peter Meijer, thank you so much, for joining us, on this Friday night, for your perspective. We really appreciate you.
MEIJER: Thank you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Ahead, more tonight, from Stormy Daniels, whether she regrets the entire episode. She is now speaking out.
Plus, we have Van Jones, and Scott Jennings, joining me live, as the indictment, as you heard the former Congressman noting there, becomes politicized.
COLLINS: Republicans in Congress are leaping to former President Trump's defense, tonight.
Few as fervently as South Carolina Senator, Lindsey Graham, who mused on social media, earlier today, as to how Trump could avoid prosecution, in New York, sarcastically tweeting, quote, "Trump should smash some windows, rob a few shops," maybe "punch a cop. He would be released IMMEDIATELY!"
Joining us now, for all the reaction, we are seeing, on Capitol Hill, CNN Political Commentators, Scott Jennings and Van Jones.
Good evening to you both. And thank you for being here.
Scott, I saw Lindsey Graham, later tweeted that he said people were not getting the irony of his tweet. But are you surprised by the Republican reaction that we've seen, overall, on Capitol Hill, in response to this indictment?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO MITCH MCCONNELL: Not really, at all.
I saw the Quinnipiac survey that came out this week. They took a large survey. Over 60 percent of Americans agreed that the indictment was more politically-motivated than legally-motivated. And that was including 93 percent of Republicans.
So, if you're a Republican politician, on Capitol Hill, and you've got 93 percent of the people, in your party, believing something is politically-motivated, it was pretty easy to predict how Republicans were going to react, to this thing. And that's what you're seeing play out over the last couple of days.
COLLINS: I noticed that McConnell has not said anything. What do you make of that?
JENNINGS: Well, I think he doesn't make a habit of commenting, on Donald Trump, these days. And whether it's about him, or Trump, or anything else, going on, he's tended to leave the former President alone, even though the former President spends quite a bit of time, antagonizing him, as Senate Republican leader. He just has chosen not to respond in kind.
COLLINS: Van Jones, what do you make of what we're hearing from people, Republicans, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who say they're going to come to New York, on Tuesday, and they're encouraging others to come, with them, to protest this indictment?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Just it's remarkable, complete lack of respect for law and order.
You have a Republican Party now that has a big chunk of people in it, beating up cops, January 6? No problem. Disrespecting the FBI, call them all Deep State people? No problem. Trying to bully and intimidate the top cop, in Manhattan, Bragg, who is a elected District Attorney, trying to do his job? No problem.
There is no assault on law and order, on law enforcement that the Republican Party won't sign on to. And it's very scary.
COLLINS: Overall, Van, as you're viewing this, I think, people, who are fans of Trump, and people, who are his biggest critics, agree that we have kind of crossed this turning point now with this indictment of what this looks like. How do you view it from that perspective, historically speaking?
JONES: Look, it is scary.
I think, a lot of Democrats, kind of swing back and forth between being relieved that something is happening, there may be some accountability, for Donald Trump.
Because look, you've got all these cases, all these charges, all these prosecutors, all just kind of standing at the edge of the swimming pool, looking in, but nobody's done anything until now. So, there's a sense of relief that somebody's finally done something.
And yet, there is this worry, that of all the charges you could bring, against Donald Trump, to make history with, this may not be the one, in terms of a novel theory, about a hush money, for a porn star, when you've got the coup, and the insurrection, and voter election interference. So, I think even Democrats are nervous about this.
But I think that if you're talking about where the Democrats are coming from, somebody needs to do something. Donald Trump has done so many things for so long, there is a sense of relief that maybe he won't get away with everything.
COLLINS: Scott, what's your view of it?
JENNINGS: Well, I think what Van just said is an authentic representation, of what some Democrats want.
They just want Donald Trump, to get his comeuppance, for anything. They don't even care whether it is a good case. They don't care whether it's a seven-year old paperwork case, about a 16-year-old affair. They don't care what it is. They just want this man punished, for something.
And Republicans believe that as a complete weaponization of the criminal justice system. This is not to excuse the underlying behavior in all this. And I don't know that anyone is excusing the underlying behavior.
But, as Van pointed out, there are a lot bigger boulders coming down the hill, Georgia, January 6, the Mar-a-Lago documents case. This is a small pebble, inconsequential, to our national public affairs.
But I think it's going to taint everything else that may be coming Donald Trump's way. And that'll be at a time, when we don't need those cases tainted, because they actually matter, unlike this baloney, coming out of New York's prosecutor.
COLLINS: If it is that kind of a case? And you've heard - we heard Trump's attorney, earlier tonight, talking about the merits of it. They don't think it's very strong. Why are we seeing Trump go out and attack the judge, and say that he hates Trump, even though that was something Trump's own attorney seem to disagree with, saying, he's been before him, before.
JENNINGS: Well whenever bad something happens to Donald Trump-- JONES: Are you asking me, or asking--
JENNINGS: Yes, I'll say. I mean, look, it's when something bad happens to Donald Trump, he attacks everything, within a 50-yard radius. I mean, judges, prosecutors, politicians. I mean, remember, he once said Ted Cruz's dad assassinated JFK. He once made fun of Rand Paul, who was at 1 percent, in the polls, in 2016, for having a weird haircut. He attacks everything!
And, in this particular case, I'm sure he's embarrassed, for why he's being indicted. And so, he tends to react to embarrassment, by lashing out. I don't think it's a good legal strategy, to lash out, at the judge, who holds your future in his hands. And so, it's par for the course.
COLLINS: Van, final word?
JONES: Look, I think that it's very dangerous, the growing attacks, on Alvin Bragg. I think this is a risky situation for him.
I don't think there's a physically less-safe District Attorney, in the country, right now than Alvin Bragg. I think people need to calm down, and let him do his job. If this is a bad case, the judge will throw it out. If it's a good case, a jury is going to look at it.
But calling him "Soros-backed?" That goes into the fever swamps of a lot of conspiracy theories, about Jewish people. There's a lot of stuff that's being said now, about Alvin Bragg that are dangerous that are wrong-spirited and should be cooled off.
Tuesday, we will see. Tuesday, we will see. Let's look at the facts, and let's apply the law. But I'm very concerned now about the safety of Alvin Bragg.
COLLINS: Yes. And we've seen the increased security around him. Scott and Van, thank you both, for spending your Friday night, with us.
JONES: Thank you.
JENNINGS: Thank you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: All right, the other big legal development, this week, was not for Trump, but for actress, Gwyneth Paltrow. She was found not liable, for a skiing collision that happened in Utah.
Tonight, Alisyn Camerota is going to speak to a juror in that trial, on what led to the ultimate decision. That's coming up, on "CNN TONIGHT."
Also, she was paid for her silence. That is what all of this is about. But Stormy Daniels has certainly not been quiet, about that hush money, or Donald Trump, or now, his indictment. You might be surprised to hear though whether or not she has any regrets. We'll tell you what she said next. [22:00:00]
COLLINS: Before we go, tonight, Stormy Daniels is now speaking out about whether or not it was worth ever sharing her story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: I get these moments where I get emotional and I'm like, "I wish I'd never done this. This was so stupid. What the f*** was I thinking?" But I'd still do the same thing because it was the right thing to do. If I could go far enough back to where I didn't go to the hotel room that night, I stand by that. I wouldn't have done it. But if I go back only so far as coming forward, I would - I would do the same thing again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: She says she would do it again. Daniels has also said she is ready to face Trump, in court, if it ever comes to that. Of course, we shall see.
Thank you so much for joining us tonight. We had a great evening.
"CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota starts, right now.