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Trump To Speak At Mar-a-Lago After Pleading Not Guilty To 34 Felony Counts; Trump Speaks At Mar-a-Lago After Indictment On 34 Felony Counts. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 04, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY UNDER TRUMP: The only issue here is, is that lately, I think a lot of Trump's rallies have centered around his own personal grievances, and instead of talking about the issues that Americans care about, he is more focused on talking about his own personal grievances, and this case, he won't be able to avoid it.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, well, we will see what will happen. Of course, he'll be speaking soon. And Sarah, thank you very much.
Thanks to all of you for joining us. Our special coverage of the indictment of Donald Trump continues now with Anderson and Jake.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We, in this country I've never seen a day like this before. There are several more like it to come and it is not even over yet.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Anderson, within the next few minutes, we expect to hear from Donald Trump speaking at Mar-a-Lago, his first on camera statements since returning from New York as a criminal defendant facing 34 felony charges in connection with an alleged scheme to cover up extramarital encounters one with a porn star, one with a former Playboy Playmate of the Year.
We ran the comments from District Attorney Alvin Bragg earlier, so too, we will bring Trump to you.
COOPER: And Jake, whichever Donald Trump shows up, whether he is angry, defiant, defensive, mocking or all of the above, it will be a far different Donald Trump from the one earlier today on the 15th floor of the Manhattan Criminal Court building with no one holding the door for him on the way into his arraignment, or the Donald Trump who sat stone faced at the defense table for the first of what could be many such appearances to come.
We don't yet know what the former President makes of this. We could learn shortly and as we wait for him to speak, we have, as only CNN can, a team of correspondents, legal and political analysts to help make sense of what happened today and what happens next.
Let's start with CNN's Kristen Holmes at Mar-a-Lago.
What about the mood there?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, this is a very different mood from these kinds of events that we normally see at Mar-a-Lago. Those are usually more subdued events. We saw it with his 2024 election or excuse me, campaign announcement. You have a seated event, lots of members.
This has much more of a rally feel. We just had some entrants, I guess you could call it by Don, Jr. and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz where they were escorted down the middle row. You have a lot of people standing. We've seen Roger Stone, Mike Lindell, a lot of cheering. At one point, the crowd broke out cheering "Kari Won" when they saw Kari Lake.
So it has become quite a who's who of Trump world that is here, but the big question is, as you said, what Trump are we going to get? I spoke to someone who is very close to the former president who said they were concerned about him, that after seeing him in that courthouse, that was not the Trump that they expected.
However, I also talked to another source who believes that Trump's messaging is going to remain political and that he is going to continue to beat down what we have heard time and time again since 2015 from Donald Trump, which is they are not coming for me, they are coming for you and I am just standing in the way.
So of course, we wait to see what Donald Trump we are going to get in just a few moments. We expect him any minute now.
COOPER: All right, Kristen Holmes, thanks very much.
As we wait for the former President to respond to the day's events, we want to check him with CNN's Paula Reid who is outside the Courthouse in lower Manhattan.
So can you just walk us through the charges that were unsealed today, Paula?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I've read through this indictment, Anderson and he is being charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records. These are being charged, though as a felony. And in order to charge these as a felony in New York State, you have to prove that these records were falsified in furtherance of another crime, and it is not clear exactly what that larger crime is, because it's not charged here.
Now, if prosecutors want to argue that these documents were falsified, and we're talking specifically, about the way Michael Cohen was reimbursed for the hush money that he paid to Stormy Daniels, if they want to argue that those documents were falsified in furtherance of something that is a Federal election law violation, that is shaky legal ground. I mean, that is an untested legal theory. It's not clear that that would ultimately be successful.
At a press conference, the District Attorney suggested that this might be a violation of State election law, but that's not in the indictment or the statement of facts. So at this point, look, this is one of the most historic cases, arguably, the most significant case right now in an American court system. It appears to be built on a pretty shaky foundation because it is not clear what the larger crime is.
And look, I've passed two Bar exams. I'm having a little trouble following Alvin Bragg's argument here. So, it's unclear if the average Manhattan juror will be able to follow it as well. And even if they can, even if they get a conviction, it still has to survive appeals, which is going to be difficult for cases built on novel legal theories.
COOPER: And obviously, members the grand jury did follow the case although it's a much different bar that has to pass in order to get the grand jury as opposed to an actual impaneled jury.
Paula, what is the next time timeline in this case because next the Court date is not until December, I think?
REID: Exactly. It'll be another eight months before they'll be back in Court before this Judge, but we can motions from the defense team. The three defense attorneys, three of them who are with the former President in Court today, they made a beeline for reporters, held a mini press conference out here, which is a little surprising, but they clearly wanted to talk about this indictment.
They've made it clear that they're going to file Motions to Dismiss and launch other challenges against this indictment. Now, that we've seen the facts, and it's, again unclear exactly what the larger crime is, we can expect that they're going to file a lot of motions likely also including a motion to change venue that they say they are not considering that at this point. They will have to do that to preserve all of their options on appeal.
So, Anderson, these lawyers are going to be busy long before that December hearing.
COOPER: Paula Reid, appreciate it. Thanks.
Now, for the first time today we are joined here by CNN political commentators Van Jones and David Urban. Van served as special adviser to President Obama, David as campaign adviser to the former President; also CNN political commentator and former Trump White House Communications Director, Alyssa Farah Griffin; CNN chief correspondent and anchor, Kaitlan Collins; and two former Federal prosecutors here from the Southern District of New York Cardozo, Law School professor Jessica Roth, and CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig.
Kaitlan, first of all, you are at the courthouse today in the hall. What are you hearing from Team Trump?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: One thing that everyone is reflecting on is his expression when he walked through those doors. As you showed earlier today, he had this incredibly stern look on. That is something that even people in his inner circle, people who are going there to Mar-a-Lago tonight have been talking about, is just the demeanor he had.
And publicly you are hearing that he is in great spirits. That is what all his attorneys are saying that he is very resolute. He's very determined. I think he's a lot angrier than that when you talk to people who speak more candidly about how he is viewing this. Obviously, he was charged today, he became a criminal defendant in a Court today, and that is obviously not something that we wanted to happen.
It remains to be seen, really even to people who are close to Trump what his demeanor is going to be tonight. They had written a version of the speech yesterday, of course, he often goes off prompter, especially with something that is solely focused on what happened.
COOPER: He also didn't make a call into some sort of a prayer call, in which he was obviously very defiant and probably echoed some of the things he's going to say.
COLLINS: And he said, essentially what he's been saying, which is that he believes this is a prosecution by people who hate the country framing it as this attack on him. That is something you can expect to hear tonight.
We will be watching to see two things. One is First Lady Melania Trump there, she did not come with him to New York. This is something that has caused really intense issues between the two of them. This case, particularly for obvious reasons.
The other thing is to see if he does continue with his attacks on Alvin Bragg, the District Attorney here because if you read the Court transcript today, what the Judge was saying is this is something that that investigators brought up, these attacks that he has continued to put out there. The Judge did say that people need to watch their language, but they --
COOPER: He said it to both by the way, to the prosecution and the defense.
COLLINS: Which really stood out to me. That's what I just underlined. He said such restraints are the most serious and least intolerable in First Amendment rights, saying he wasn't even considering or close to imposing a gag order on Trump here. But he did say I would encourage counsel on both sides, including the people, meaning the investigators here to please speak to your witnesses, because Trump's attorneys were arguing about Michael Cohen going out and talking so publicly about what he has said.
COOPER: I want to play something that Alvin Bragg, the District Attorney said at his press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALVIN BRAGG, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Under New York State law, it is a felony to falsify business records with intent to defraud and intent to conceal another crime. That is exactly what this case is about. Thirty-four false statements made to cover up other crimes.
These are felony crimes in New York State, no matter who you are. We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Elie, just in layman's terms, if you could walk us through what the indictment is and also why the other crimes were not named.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. So this is all about hush money, and more specifically, it's all about hush money paid to Stormy Daniels. The statement of facts mentions Karen McDougal and the doorman, they are not part of the actual indictment. They're there for overall background and color.
How do we get to 34 counts? The crime here is not paying hush money. The crime here is falsifying documents and what the prosecutors do in this indictment is they charge every check, every ledger, every invoice as its own count, as its own false document. That's a misdemeanor, low level offense.
The only way this gets bumped up -- each of these counts gets bumped up to a felony is if you can show that they falsified the records to commit some second crime, and here is where we're going to run into legal problems, because the indictment does not say what that second crime is, which is completely inexplicable to me.
The entire point of an indictment is to tell the defendant here is what you're charged with. Here is what you're defending against and in today's conference, the defense lawyer said we need to know that.
Now, Alvin Bragg gave us three options at his press conference. He said Federal campaign election law, but this is New York State, so he's going to have a legal problem there.
He said, State election law, but this is a campaign for President, which is a Federal office, and then very briefly and there is literally one word about this in the statement of facts said something about tax, but they didn't take a deduction. So, it's not clear what that theory is either.
So look, I am a big believer in Alvin Bragg. He is a former colleague of mine, I believe in his capacity and his integrity, but I have real questions about this.
COOPER: Alyssa, what do you think? What do you expect to hear tonight?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the President'-- the former President has already kind of alluded to where he's going. He truthed out something suggesting you know, there's no there, there. The biggest shock was how little there was in the indictment. So I think you're going to see a mix --
COOPER: Truthed out in his social --
COOPER: You know it is a verb.
GRIFFIN: We're going to make it a verb, but I think he's going to be indignant, but I also think he's going to be a little celebratory. I mean, the reality is he has people like Mitt Romney, a foe of his coming out and even defending him. He's got the entire field and you know, potential field that's going to be running against him coming out and saying, you know, this is a witch hunt. This is a miscarriage of justice.
I actually expect that this may be closer and have more fanfare to an election announcement than the original one we saw several months ago.
COOPER: Just quick thoughts from everybody.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, I would say CNN just had a poll this week that said 76 percent of Americans believe that this prosecution was politically motivated, and I think after listening to Elie and others today, and reading this indictment, I think Trump's going to waive it and say this is politically motivated and Americans are going to believe it, because there is no there, there.
He's going to wave jubilantly and say, you know, come get me. We're going to get this dismissed in motions. There is not going to be a trial. I think that's you're going to hear Trump talk about just a little bit.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I had hoped that there would be more in the indictment, and I think because it is so thin, it is giving aid and comfort to some of the worst people in American politics. I mean, it is like a rogue's gallery of people just jumping up and down and being happy, I think that's not a good thing.
But I also want to stick up for Alvin Bragg. Listen, it takes courage to take on Donald Trump. How do you know? Nobody else has done it, and so to the extent that you do have a prosecutor who believes in the rule of law, and who also thinks that our elections shouldn't be polluted with lies, and hush money and false statements, and he is trying to take a stand, I think we need to be at least as supportive of Alvin Bragg at this stage, as this rogue's gallery is of Donald Trump.
COOPER: Jessica, what do you think of the case?
JESSICA ROTH, NEW YORK CARDOZO LAW SCHOOL LAW PROFESSOR AND FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I was disappointed that there wasn't more in the indictment in terms of laying out what the legal theory was with more precision. Today was supposed to be the big reveal, where we would get that information. And to the extent that we have a sense of what the theory of the case is, in terms of what are the crimes that would have been furthered or concealed by the falsification of records, it is not in the indictment. It's alluded to obliquely in the statement of facts, it is --
COOPER: Alvin Bragg said in his press conference that, under the law, he doesn't have to state what the underlying crimes are.
ROTH: That may be the case, and it may be also that he's trying to leave options open in terms of what the evidence most firmly supports in terms of what that other crime was. But it would have been, I think, helpful if he had committed to a theory of the case, or even if it was in the alternative, to lay out exactly what those crimes were, even if ultimately, the jury would decide, well, at least one of them was furthered by the falsification.
COOPER: And no matter what, Elie, we're not going to see this go to Court until when?
HONIG: December is the next hearing date, which to me is notable because --
COOPER: But actually go to trial.
HONIG: Oh, well, that right. So the next court date is December. Now, if we do the math from there, a Judge is not going to set a trial date within four, or five, six months. Now we're looking middle of 2024. Can you see a Judge trying this right in the middle of primary season?
COOPER: I want to go back to Jake in DC -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, thank you so much, Anderson.
With me here tonight, CNN's John King, Abby Phillip, and Dana Bash. We also have CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, and CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel.
Andrew, let me start with you. When you talk to your former colleagues in the legal profession, what are you hearing from them in terms of their take on this indictment.
What I'm hearing now, just to tee you up is, it looks like the District Attorney, Bragg has set up, you know, a very solid case for 34 misdemeanors related to business fraud, but not a huge amount of confidence in the attempt by Mr. Bragg to turn this into 34 felony charges. What are you hearing?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Very, very similar commentary, Jake.
So I if I had to characterize it, it's disappointment. I think everyone was hoping we would see more about the direction that they intend to take this prosecution. What is the legal theory that ties that very solid misdemeanor case, 34 counts of misdemeanors to the intent to conceal another crime, which is what makes it a felony. It simply isn't there.
Now, it's possible that the DA has an elaborate and solid theory that's backed up by a lot of evidence and he has just decided to conceal that at this point. That would be, I think it's a strange decision on his part. But nevertheless, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.
At the end of the day, if all of our legal friends read this indictment and don't see a way to a felony, it's hard to imagine convincing a jury that that they should get there.
TAPPER: And we and we heard the former national security adviser to Donald Trump, John Bolton, not a fan of Donald Trump.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: The opposite.
MCCABE: Expressing disappointment, and saying he thinks that Donald Trump is guilty of sin of what's alleged, but this is not enough to go after a President with an indictment for the first time in American history.
GANGEL: As I think all of our parents have told us at one time or another, first impressions count and legal sources said there was not enough detail. They thought that it was a mistake from a historical point of view, that this was the first case to come out that way. One source said to me, this is Donald Trump, you don't bring a knife to a gunfight. So, we don't know what we don't know, but this was not --
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR OF "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY": Yes, I mean, I think that that's, in some ways, it doesn't even matter what order this came in. I think, either way, whether this is the first case or the last case, I think the burden, in a case involving a former President is a lot more information, a lot more legal justification for the charges, and it is puzzling as the previous panel with Anderson was just discussing why the statutes that would make this a felony weren't even laid out clearly, so that people can really see what laws they're alleging that he broke.
I think that's really puzzling to me, because the public interest in this case is so high. As a prosecutor, I think the legal underpinnings of all of this really does need to be rock solid. You know, I'm not a lawyer, I can't say whether this is going to be a good case or a bad case, will they win or will they lose? It's clearly not a slam dunk case.
And it seems very clear that they have a lot of legal proving to do in the courtroom, and the Trump team has a lot to challenge them on.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, as we've been able to digest this and really sit with the actual indictment, I've been thinking a lot about the fact that we have to potentially differentiate between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. The letter or the actual case might be hard to prove, but what it is laying out, particularly in the statement that goes along with it is a fundamental attempt, alleged attempt by then candidate Trump, when he saw that he was in big trouble, after "Access Hollywood" came out, thought he was to, to change and alter the outcome of the election by using money to pay off somebody who he thought would hurt him.
And the question is whether or not this is the forum, and these are the actual laws that will be used successfully to prosecute him for that. And, you know, even other people who know him, nobody has really said, oh, no, he didn't do it. We know he did it according to Michael Cohen, who went to jail for in part for this.
So the question is whether or not Donald Trump will be found culpable under this New York statute.
TAPPER: And, John, do you think there's any case to be made here that what District Attorney Bragg assuming there isn't some rabbit that he is going to pull out of a hat, the critics of his who say he has now just severely lowered the threshold for the kinds of charges that a local District Attorney, even in a place as large as Manhattan can bring against a major political figure for what, at least as of now, all we know, are misdemeanor business fraud, that that is something -- that that's a line that he has now crossed that will be used against Democrats and others.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that is a huge risk in the long term. Again, to Andrew's point, to give him the benefit of the doubt, he gets to make his case in court, but he says he had no legal requirement to explain the underpinnings that make it a felony.
He may not have a legal requirement. Did you have a public requirement? Did you have a public good requirement when you're going to bring 34 felony counts against a former President of the United States, if you're a Democrat, if you're under attack, if you do have past statements on the record about going after Trump? Yes, I believe he did. I believe he did have more of a public requirement at this moment, not to lay out his entire case. He doesn't have to give the Trump people everything, but to give a stronger explanation of how to connect the dots between a very strong case of just bad behavior by a business and bad behavior by a man who happened to be President in cooking the books of a business to pay, to cover up personal misconduct.
Did he have a public responsibility to say more? I think that's going to be the conversation until we get to the legal, until he gets to prove it in court. In the meantime, you're looking at this picture and I can just tell you the incoming -- I have the same incoming from legal experts tonight, but the incoming from adult Republicans who think Donald Trump is bad for the party is horrible today, because they believe this helps him in the short term.
Anyone who tells you they know how this is going to affect when people vote in Iowa next February, these other legal cases coming, we all need to be extra careful. We don't know.
KING: But today, this helps Donald Trump makes him stronger for the Republican nomination, puts his opponents in a bit of a box, requires those who oppose him to have courage to step out about this, so it helps him in the short term.
Does it move the 25 percent of Republicans who are Never Trumpers? Something to watch over the next few months. Can he win a General Election if 25 percent of Republicans are still Never Trumpers, never mind independents, never mind people in the suburbs. So Republicans have a long-term problem thinking if Donald Trump wins the nomination, it hurts them, but those Republicans who believe that are looking at today and saying he is stronger today. Who knows about tomorrow?
TAPPER: And we're watching right now people coming out. This is a live from Mar-a-Lago. We are expecting Donald Trump to come out and speak.
We see Eric Trump and his wife, Lara; other people from the inside circle. Dan Scavino, Jason Miller, names that we have heard in recent months mainly for legal fights to try to get them to testify in different investigations having to do with January 6th or having to do with the classified documents.
And I do expect Jamie Gangel, you tell me what you think, I do expect that we will see a much more boisterous, much more, to use one of his favorite words, braggadocious Donald Trump, than we saw earlier today, when he seems much more chastened in Court.
We did think that he was going to speak in New York. We were told by his people that he might and he chose not to. I'm sure his lawyers want him to be somber. But there's only so much you can do when it comes to trying to control Donald Trump -- Jamie.
GANGEL: He has been speaking in one way and that is on social media. He's had these outrageous posts, including fundraising with a pretend mug shot, not a real mug shot, they just made one up, put it on a t- shirt to raise money, and I think that now he's back on his home turf. He is not in custody anymore.
I wonder whether he did not speak going in to the arraignment this morning because even though we were led to believe that he wanted to, he was in custody at that point. And they may have said no, no stopping. But I think Jake, you're absolutely correct, and the Republican sources that I spoke to today, like Ambassador Bolton who do not want Trump to be the nominee think he has a greater chance now.
TAPPER: Let's listen in.
ANNOUNCER: ... President Donald J. Trump.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
TAPPER: He is coming out with proud to be an American song, as typical for one of his rallies. This, of course is not a rally per se. It's his first public remarks since being arrested and indicted and arraigned in New York.
Whatever one thinks of Donald Trump, that is a sad turn of events for the country, on its face. This is an opportunity he is taking a course to try to rally his supporters and trying to make something good out of what is empirically a bad experience.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
(CROWD chanting "USA.")
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.
God bless you all. God bless you all.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
TRUMP: And I never thought anything like this could happen in America. I never thought it could happen.
The only crime that I've committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
TRUMP: From the beginning, the Democrats spied on my campaign. Remember that? They attacked me with an onslaught of fraudulent investigations. Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine. Impeachment hoax number one. Impeachment hoax number two. The illegal and unconstitutional raid on Mar-a-Lago right here.
TRUMP: The lying to the FISA Courts, the FBI and DOJ relentlessly pursuing Republicans. The unconstitutional changes to election laws by not getting approvals from State Legislators, the millions of votes illegally stuffed into ballot boxes and all caught on government cameras.
And just recently, the FBI and DOJ in collusion with Twitter and Facebook, in order not to say anything bad about the Hunter Biden laptop from hell, which exposes the Biden family as criminals in which, according to the pollsters would have made a 17-point difference in the election result, and we needed a lot less than that like about 16.9.
It would have been in our favor, not my favor, our favor because our country is going to hell.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
TRUMP: Now, we remember the 51 Intelligence agents who said Hunter Biden's laptop was Russian disinformation. It didn't exist. It was Russian disinformation. Remember that? And that was all confirmed strongly by the FBI when they all knew that it wasn't Russian disinformation. And so much more.
Our elections were like those of a third world country, and now this massive election interference at a scale never seen before in our country beginning with the radical left George Soros backed prosecutor, Alvin Bragg of New York.
TRUMP: Who campaigned on the fact that he would "Get President Trump." I'm got to get him, I'm going to get him. This is a guy campaigning. He wanted to get President Trump at any cost and this, before he knew anything about me, didn't know a thing about me, he was campaigning.
As it turns out, virtually everybody that has looked at this case, including RINOs, and even hardcore Democrats say there is no crime and that it should never have been brought.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
TRUMP: Never have been brought. Everybody.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
TRUMP: Even people that aren't big fans have said it, they said this is not the right thing to do. It's an insult to our country as the world is already laughing at us for so many other reasons, like our open borders, our incompetent withdrawal from Afghanistan where we left behind American citizens, $85 billion worth of the best military equipment in the world, lost 13 magnificent young lives and far too many to mention that are so badly hurt with the loss of arms and legs and facial obliteration.
The most embarrassing time in our country's history in my opinion.
Then our give up on energy independence and even energy dominance, we're going to be dominant within six months more than any other nation times two.
We had this all just three years ago are raging crimes statistics.
If you look in Democrat run cities numbers, the likes of which we have never seen before, the open threats by various countries of the use of nuclear weapons, something never mentioned or discussed by outside nations during the Trump administration in which could very well lead under the Biden administration's leadership to an all-out nuclear World War III can happen.
We're not very far away from it, believe it or not. An economy that has been crippled by the biggest inflation we have seen in more than 60 years, and a military that I used to defeat ISIS. In four weeks, they said it would take four years, four weeks to kill Al Baghdadi and Suleimani, that has now gone woke at the top levels by trying to indoctrinate everyone down to the lowest ranking patriot. But now they have really stepped up their efforts by indicting the 45th President of the United States who received 75 million votes, which is more than any sitting president in the history of our country.
And in the wings, they've got a local racist Democrat district attorney in Atlanta, who is doing everything in their power to indict me over an absolutely perfect phone call, even more perfect than the one I made with the President of Ukraine. Remember, I kept saying that's a perfect call. This one was more perfect.
Nobody said, sir, you shouldn't say that. Many people on the phone or hung up in disgust because of something I inappropriately said. Because nothing was said wrong. In fact, at the end of the call, we agreed to continue our conversation about election fraud and election fraud, specifically in Georgia.
At a later time, many people on the phone including lots of lawyers, nobody found anything wrong with that perfect call until a book promotion tour. Many months later, all of a sudden, they say, you know, I remember Trump making a call. Let's look at that.
This fake case was brought only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election and it should be dropped immediately. And maybe I can.
Then you have a radical left lunatic known as a bomb thrower, who is harassing hundreds of my people day after day over the boxes hoax. You know the boxes hoax, as we call it. Just so everyone knows, I come under what's known as the Presidential Records Act, which was designed and approved by Congress long ago, just for this reason.
Under the Act, I'm supposed to negotiate with NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration, which as of this date is a radical left troublemaking organization that red flags the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights says dangerous and triggering. Can you imagine this is what we have to deal with.
But there is no criminality under the Presidential Records Act. That is not what it's all about. We were negotiating in very good faith, proper way in order to return some or all of the documents that I openly and in very plain sight brought with me to Mar-a-Lago from our beautiful White House just as virtually every other president has done in the past.
When FBI and DOJ officials with narrow were here, I told my lawyer to show them the very secure storage room in which they were locked. The FBI cell request in writing was, could you please put another lock on the door? We immediately complied. It's a lot different than the Biden situation, isn't it?
The next thing I know we were raided by many gun toting FBI agents who took whatever they wanted including my passports and medical records.
Everybody was in shock. Nobody had ever heard of such a raid before. We can't even believe it who would think that that could happen today? I immediately thought of the Fourth Amendment that protects against unreasonable search and seizure. But they did it anyway, because our justice system has become lawless.
They're using it now in addition to everything else to win elections. Apparently, they're not looking at me through the view of the non- criminal Presidential Records Act. They came up with a new one. This is a new one. And they're looking at me through the Espionage Act.
They get that -- how does that sound -- of 1917 where the penalty is death, even though there has absolutely nothing to do with openly taking boxes of documents and mostly clothing and other things to my home, which President Obama has done, the Bush's have done, Jimmy Carter's done, Ronald Reagan has done.
Everybody's done. In fact, Hillary Clinton got rid of 33,000 emails and that was OK. But nobody's done it like Joe Biden. This lunatic special prosecutor named Jack Smith, I wonder what it was prior to a change, who others of his ilk say he is even worse than they are. He's only looking at Trump, get Joe Biden took massive amounts more documents, even removed many boxes to Chinatown.
We believe that. Just got $10 million from China. Where did that come from? I guess they were banking on Hunter's expertise, and had others stored in unsecured offices in Pennsylvania and strewn all over his garage floor where his now very famous Corvette is also stored. All over the floor, including classified documents, but that's OK.
Perhaps most importantly, he has 1,850 boxes in Delaware, which he is refusing to give up. But isn't that real obstruction? That's obstruction. As president, I have the right to declassify documents. And the process is automatic. If I take them with me, it's automatic. Declassified.
Biden was vice president. He had absolutely no right to declassify as vice president. He doesn't come under the non-criminal Presidential Records Act. He comes under the very criminal Federal Records Act, unfortunately for him, but it's not going to matter because they don't follow the law, which has very severe penalties.
He had classified documents that he took while he was a senator, which is absolutely inexcusable and other senators, including Democrats are outraged. But he's not being harassed and hounded, like the people who worked for me are. In fact, they seem to have forgotten about his documents entirely. So many thousands and thousands, it's OK with him.
They like to say that I'm obstructing which I'm not. Because I was working with NARA, very nicely until the raid on my home. But Biden is obstructing by making it impossible to get the 1,850 boxes or explain why many documents were located in Chinatown. Can't explain it why were they in Chinatown? I don't know. Lastly, I'm under investigation. This time of civil investigation by another racist in reverse, who also campaigned on, I will get Trump. I will get him. This was her campaign. Never ran for office. I will get him. Her name is Letitia James.
And she proclaimed while campaigning, quote, I look forward to going into the office of the Attorney General every single day suing him and then going home. Before she knew me, she announced what is fueling my soul right now is Trump and that she had her eyes on Trump Tower. Those eyes are focused on Trump Tower.
Didn't know the young lady. She even assured her supporters in an election promise that we're going to definitely sue him. We're going to be a real pain in the ass. He's going to know my name personally.
And then she plans aim that I was an illegitimate president. Thank you. I think of that.
With all we did, with all we did on energy, with all we did on the military, on taxes, because tax cuts in history, biggest regulation cuts in history, right to try, people able to get drugs now that aren't approved. Hopefully you don't have that problem.
Letitia James vowed to use every area of the law to, quote, investigate President Trump and his business transactions. Those transactions are going to be investigated, she said. And that of her family, and his family, because we're going after his family, and we're going after them hard.
This is all before entering office and all before knowing anything at all about me, but she's going to get me. This is why along with unrelenting crime, so many people in companies are leaving New York. She said that I falsified my financial statements, but in fact, we're proving and will prove that my financial statements were substantially more than we submitted, not less.
And in all cases, have a strong disclaimer clause in there, which tells the institutions that may look at that if they want to, not to rely on the statement. But they've got a problem with their case, because number one, I'm very underleveraged. They can't believe it, all the stuff they read and gave and have very little debt relative to the value of assets.
And importantly, not one bank has lost even $1. She was investigating me to save banks. They have very good lawyers. But they didn't lose $1 with us during this period of time. In fact, the banks we're talking about, made almost $200 million off Donald Trump. And they liked me very much.
We never missed a payment, never got a default notice, had a great relationship with all of them. I don't eat banks. I have a lot of cash. I built a great business with my family, built a fantastic business.
I have a son here, he's done a great job and I have another son here he's done a great job.
And Ivanka and Baron will be great someday. He's tall. He's tall, and he's smart. But I have a great family and they've done a fantastic job and we appreciate it very much. They've gone through hell.
So she's suing me over banks that weren't defrauded, when she should be focused on violent crime that's driving people out of the state. This is a persecution not an investigation. She's put our family through hell. It's cost hundreds of millions of dollars to defend. But our heads are held very, very high. They want to settle the case. But I want no part of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
TRUMP: So here we are now where we were today in a city that was so great, just four or five years ago. But now we're there, spend time there today as you possibly read with a local failed district attorney, charging a former president of the United States for the first time in history on a basis that every single pundit and legal analyst said there is no case, there's no case. They kept saying there's no case.
Virtually, everyone, but it's far worse than that, because he knew there was no case. That's why last week, he delayed for a month and then immediately took that back. And through this ridiculous indictment together came out today, everybody said, this is not really an indictment. There's nothing here.
I learned this came to me and they said there's nothing here. They're not even saying what you did. The criminal is the district attorney because he illegally leaked massive amounts of grand jury information, for which he should be prosecuted, or at a minimum, he should resign. And Alvin Bragg's wife confirmed a report that claimed her husband has Trump nailed on felonies.
She has since locked down her Twitter account. His chief prosecutor who represented the Democrats and crooked Hillary Clinton and a firm run by Chuck Schumer's brother, Robert, he quit the firm in order to go to work in the D.A. office in order to get Trump. Can you imagine that? Hillary Clinton's lawyer, Democrat lawyer, Democrat firm. Ultimately, he quit as chief prosecutor because Bragg didn't think he had a case. Think of that same guy that brought this ridiculous thing today. Yet during his investigation, this prosecutor named Mark Pomerantz wrote and published a book saying all sorts of privileged things and has been very strongly -- really reprimand, he was reprimanded so strongly.
I've never seen anything like it. I've probably the end of it. But what he did was probably very illegal. But he was very, very strongly reprimanded. Even District Attorney Bragg was furious with him. They were having a tremendous fight in the office because of it.
But hope is never lost because various prosecutors in the D.A.'s office also quit because they thought President Trump was being treated very unfairly. How about that in that great -- oh, I love them. I'd like to meet them. I'd like to meet them.
The D.A.'s office even had a webpage. Meet the team of executives who have done this to President Trump, that was the title and that nice. They immediately had to take it down.
Meanwhile, overall crime in New York was up 30 percent last year, much more than that the year before, with felony assaults, robberies and burglaries all up by massive, massive numbers. Not the same place that I know, not the same place that you know.
And this is where we are right now I have a Trump hating judge with a Trump hating wife and family, whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris, and now receives money from the Biden-Harris campaign, and a lot of it. We recently had another trial. And the same judge told the fine man who worked for me for many, many years, that if you admit your guilt, you will be in jail for 90 days.
But if you don't, if we go through a trial and you're found guilty, you're going away for 10 years and maybe longer, which for 75 year old man with a great family really means life. What the prosecutors and judge did to that man, I will never forget because it's right out of the old Soviet Union. That's where we are.
They said you say anything about Trump, meaning that's bad. And you won't even have to serve the 90 days you'll walk free. And they say that to many of my employees. We have this Jack Smith, lunatic, threatening people every single day, through his representatives. They're threatening jail terms.
But talk about Trump and you'll go free. This is where we are as a nation who would have thought they can't beat us at the ballot box. So they try and beat us through the law. That's the country in which we live. However, right now, the USA is a mess. Our economy is crashing, inflation is out of control. Russia has joined with China, can you believe that?
Saudi Arabia has joined with Iran. China, Russia, Iran and North Korea have formed together as a menacing and destructive coalition. Would have never happened, if I were your president. Would never have happened. Nor would Russia attack in Ukraine have happened. All of those lives will be saved. All of those beautiful cities would be standing.
Our currency is crashing and will soon no longer --
COOPER: That's the former president speaking tonight at Mar-a-Lago.
Back here in New York with the panel. Allyssa, I mean, this is a reprise of -- we're waiting for him to talk about what happened today. He finally talked about a little bit of the end there, and now we're cutting out of it. But a reprise of pretty much every grievance.
If you were a Republican who cares about the Republican Party in the future of the Republican Party and you are watching this tonight, realizing this man now may be more powerful in the Republican Party than he was yesterday. Or at least a little bit more safe in the Republican Party than it was yesterday, what is going through your mind?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, at first, you want to laugh. You want to say, I mean, this is the opposite of Reaganesque. It's absurd, it's an airing of grievances, almost the greatest hits of Donald Trump. But today he solidifies his place as the consummate leader of the Republican Party.
He's been beating the number two Ron DeSantis by near double digits in a number of polls. And now he's in a place where the party is consolidating around him, and he is running on a message that is, you cannot trust your institutions. He's going through everything from the Jack Smith investigation, the Mar-a-Lago investigation. I'll be curious to see if he brings up January 6. He is playing to the base of the base.
Now, as a Republican, I'm stunned by the idea that we think this is a smart general election candidate, somebody who lost in 2020, who lost his seats in 2022 and in 2018. But here he is, the party is still squarely behind him. Elected Republicans are defending him, despite being the first indicted president and former president in history.
COOPER: I mean for somebody who has not paid attention to the ramblings of the former president for quite a while, it's -- not surprising, but it's remarkable that he is still, I mean, you could look at this and think, oh, this is four years ago.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And it's interesting, because the former president, you know, is a -- was his television star 13 seasons. He had his own show. And I would think that he would realize, you know, if people see the same show over and over, they're going to change the channel. At some points, we need to refresh the programming.
And that you thought you might see that tonight by having some refresh programming, or even more concise program, or you could really talk about maybe why Alvin Bragg went after -- maybe you've talked about it. You know, look, this wasn't getting prosecuted. Cy Vance didn't do it. Bragg wasn't doing it.
What happened? Pomerantz went out, wrote a book, and kind of put Bragg in a bad spot. Bragg tried to stop the publication of the book.
COOPER: But that was a written speech.
URBAN: I know. But I'm saying, you could have written a speech like that that really pulled it together and made it a coherent narrative. So most Americans are turning in, could watch it and say, oh, that makes sense. And that's why I did it, you know?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's what the Trump attorneys want is to attack the merits of the case. That's what they have been talking about saying it's not strong. You saw him there. He was going after the judge saying it as a Trump hating judge, he attacked Alvin Bragg, who's the district --
COOPER: Who's after judge's daughter.
COLLINS: He went up to the judge's daughter as well for her ties. He talked about the judge's wife. I'll say today, the judge said that he was not close to putting a gag order in place on Trump. But he did say, please refrain from making comments or engaging in conduct that has the potential to incite violence, create civil unrest or jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of any individuals.
COOPER: That was at the same time on the judge -- basically on same time judge was saying that wasn't Donnie Jr. tweeting out something about the judge's daughter.
COLLINS: He tweeted a link to --
URBAN: Well, the point I think they're trying to make is that she's very -- she's a --
URBAN: -- she's a political operative. She's been a political operative whole life. And she's partisan. I think --
COLLINS: But --
URBAN: -- that's there --
COLLINS: -- who say --
URBAN: -- a point they're trying to make.
COLLINS: That's the point Trump and Trump Jr. make.
COLLINS: We had a Trump attorney on last week, and we asked about the judge in the merits. And they said that they believe the judge here was fair and was going to --
URBAN: I'm not disputing, I'm just saying that's what I think was being --
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me just one thing that I think is important, like that was a black hole of grievance that he pulled the country into. And I think Democrats should be relieved, because there was a moment that he has tonight as somebody who has been victimized in his mind.
And he could have made a bridge to other people in the country who are hurting. There are a lot of people in the country who are hurting, who felt they had been mistreated. He didn't talk about any of those people. He didn't talked about people in Appalachia, he didn't talk about people in the hood. He didn't talk about people, he talked about himself.
And he continued to pull people down into this black hole, his own personal grievance. And I think that to the extent that people were disappointed by what Alvin Bragg did earlier, they can be equally disappointed by what Trump just did tonight.
COOPER: It's also a reminder of what the next two years is going to look like. What does this race is going to look like?
COOPER: If you think there has been some change, if you think that this is a forward looking campaign, as of now, it certainly doesn't seem to be.
URBAN: And that's why I think you'll see a lot of these candidates who get in this race, that 1 percent, 2 percent now, I don't think they plan on going anywhere for a while. But I think they think that, at some point in the future, whether it's indictment two or indictment three, that Americans will get tired of hearing that watching the same old show, and they'll change the channel. They're going to want a different candidate.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Let's just remember, the occasion for this grand celebration is the man got indicted. He is charged in a criminal case state of New York against Donald Trump. He sat at the defendants table today. That's what is kicked off this raucous, bizarre celebration.
And I just have to call this up. The attacks on the judge --
HONIG: -- on Alvin Bragg, on family members are utterly reprehensible. We can disagree. We have disagreed, have substantive conversations about the merits of the charges here, of the merits of the evidence, but these attacks are out of bounds and they're dangerous, and we need to continue to call them out. JONES: Amen.
JESSICA ROTH, PROFESSOR, CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW: Yes. I want to second what Elie just said. I mean, these were veiled threats. I mean, this was an effort just to put out there among his supporters, the existence of the judge's wife and judge's daughter and to insinuate that they were problematic for him. And I really hope that Todd Blanche and his other lawyers are going to be speaking with him sternly this evening and bringing it to his attention exactly what the judge said at the arraignment today.
We have the judge now is not going to impose a gag order, but clearly would entertain an order if he thought that was appropriate.
COLLINS: And part of the reason the judge said that he wasn't close to a gag order is because Trump is a candidate for president of the United States. But can I know Trump's been very worried about the Jack Smith investigations, much more so maybe than even what happened today.
He was implying that special counsel has changed his name, that is something I've heard that he said privately, but much more time on the documents investigation, which really stood out.
COOPER: We're going to have Daniel Dale with the fact check of a number of the lives of the former president just spoke. We'll also be hearing from Michael Cohen in this next hour. We're going to have continuing coverage in just a moment.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Donald Trump has been speaking this evening at Mar-a-Lago seemingly disregarding the judge's admonition. Earlier today, he verbally attacked the prosecutor, he verbally attacked the judge, he verbally attacked the judge's daughter.
We felt that it was important after a day in which we were bringing you news of his arrest and arraignment that we allow the president, the former president to give his view of the proceeding and then obviously, it was somewhat incoherent and then began turning into a campaign event at which point we cut away.