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Michael Cohen Talks About Trump Facing 34 Felony Charges; Trump Speaks At Mar-A-Lago After Indictment On 34 Felony Counts; House Democrat Who Helped Impeach Trump On Historic Arraignment. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 04, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT & CNN ANCHOR: 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.
Andy McCabe, let me start with you, because you thought this was a missed opportunity, given the fact that this indictment was not resoundingly embraced by Democrats and legal experts, across the country.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes.
TAPPER: And yet, we got that mess of a speech.
MCCABE: Massive missed opportunity. I have never seen a defendant indicted, and actually come away, from the indictment, with a little bit of momentum. You saw that today. That indictment landed, like a dud, right?
Commentators, across the spectrum, are saying, "Boy, there's really not much in here," raises all kinds of questions about the legal theory, behind this case, he's going to - they're going to have a tough time, facing motions to dismiss. An unimpressive document!
And he could have stood in front of that group of supporters, this evening, and pointed simply to that fact, and highlighted his own claim to innocence, and use this, as a moment, to say, "See? Rally behind me. This shouldn't happen to anyone, in this country. We've debased the criminal justice system, which we all rely on."
But no. Instead, what you got was "Millions of votes illegally stuffed into ballot boxes in front of government camera."
TAPPER: That's right.
MCCABE: Not even sure what that means.
Or the fact that we're right on the brink apparently of all-out nuclear World War III?
MCCABE: It's just a - it's just a swing and a miss.
TAPPER: There was a lot of--
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: The ballot boxes thing is just a lie.
TAPPER: Oh, yes, it was a--
TAPPER: --it was a ton of false statements, and airing of grievances.
With us now to talk about everything today, former Trump attorney, and fixer, and named as "Lawyer A," in the court documents, Michael Cohen.
He's the Author of the book, "Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the US Department of Justice Against His Critics." He's also the host of two podcasts. "Political Beatdown" is the first. The other is called "Mea Culpa."
Michael, my understanding is that you were not watching his remarks, this evening. But today is obviously a day that you've talked about, and thought about, for a long time.
Was anything that came out, today, in any way, surprising? Was there anything that stood out to you?
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP, "MEA CULPA" & "POLITICAL BEATDOWN" PODCAST HOST, AUTHOR, "REVENGE": Well, when it comes to the District Attorney's case, this is the District Attorney's case. I was merely someone who provided testimony and documentation. And this is for Alvin Bragg, to make the case, before the judge, and the jury, if in fact that it gets that far, which I suspect that it will.
At the end of the day, you're right. I wasn't watching, today. I had some personal things, to take care of that took me out of New York.
Obviously, as soon as I came back, I started to read all of the nonsense, with the typical Donald Trump rallies, despite the fact it was inside of Mar-a-Lago. It's the typical grievance, complaining, moaning, and bellyaching, about how bad the industry, how bad this country, has been treating him. TAPPER: Yes. One of the things that I thought was interesting, that you can speak about now, that the indictment is public, comes in the statement of facts.
One of the criticisms of the potential case, against Donald Trump, is not the misdemeanor charges of business fraud that by all accounts seems pretty solid. It's the question of whether or not this rises to become a felony, which it does, if these, this business fraud can be proven, to have been done, to hide other crimes.
And the argument, although Mr. Bragg did not specify, what those other crimes might be, the argument was, it might have something to do with the campaign election financing, and whether or not these were campaign contributions--
TAPPER: --that you made that David Pecker of the National Enquirer, and its parent company made.
And here's something interesting, because we were talking about this earlier, about whether or not Donald Trump could say, as John Edwards did, "I wasn't trying to hide any of these affairs from voters. I was just trying to hide it from my wife and my family."
But twice in this document?
TAPPER: You are cited. Once, the defendant, Donald Trump did not want the information about Karen McDougal, the affair with Karen McDougal, to become public, because he was concerned, about the effect it could have, on his candidacy. That's on page four of the statement.
And then, again, on page six, on the Stormy Daniels matter, Trump instructed you that if they could delay the payment, until after the election, they could avoid paying altogether, because at that point, it would not matter if the story became public.
He's clearly, Mr. Bragg, based on your comments, based on your testimony, under oath, making the argument that Donald Trump didn't care if Melania found out about this. This was all about hiding these affairs, from voters.
COHEN: And I can promise you that Mr. Bragg, and his qualified team, will be providing, a significant amount of documentary evidence that will corroborate all of the allegations, or the statements that he has, in this document.
TAPPER: And - but is that not only your testimony, before the grand jury, but also your view that you would say, this evening, Donald Trump did this, ordered this, asked these payments, these hush money payments, to be made, because he wanted to keep this information from voters, not because he cared about-- COHEN: Yes. Jake? Jake? I--
TAPPER: --keeping it from Melania.
COHEN: Jake, I apologize. Yes, I apologize. I don't want to get into what my future testimony, or what the testimony that I provided, to the grand jury. I stand by the statements of fact that exist in this document.
And I assure you that Alvin Bragg, will be able to provide the documentary evidence that he relied upon, and he used, in the drafting, of this.
TAPPER: The counts, in the indictment, involve incidents that took place, including in 2017, when you were still, in Donald Trump's circle. You would work for him for many years.
Can you just remind people when the relationship began to sour between you and Donald Trump?
COHEN: It was around the time of the raid, on my home, in April.
TAPPER: Yes. And the statement of fact in the indictment also talks about veiled threats that he was making towards you, through social media.
COHEN: No, and he continues to do that. I mean, Donald has been very consistent, using his "Untruth Social" platform, in order to make these threats. He doesn't just make them against me. He makes them against anyone that he finds to be critical of him, or that he has concern of.
Whether it's Michael Cohen, whether it's Alvin Bragg, whether it's the judge, whether it's the prosecutors, whoever it might be that he deems to be a threat to him, he uses whatever method that he has available to him, in order to try to denigrate you, and to harm you.
TAPPER: The indictment also talks about you discussing with then- President Trump, his need, to repay you, for the $130,000, paid to Stormy Daniels, as hush money, a discussion that you had in the Oval Office, of the White House.
I don't know how you felt about it, then. But looking back on it? Is it weird that you were having that conversation, in the Oval Office, of the White House?
COHEN: Yes, again, we're going into conversations that may or may not have been part of the grand jury testimony, or my interviews, with the prosecutors, at the D.A.'s office. So, I'm going to sort of step aside from that.
But yes, it would be - it's not the sort of thing that you would expect, to take place, inside of the Oval Office.
TAPPER: Yes. Although certainly other things have happened, near the Oval Office. Are you concerned-- COHEN: That's also true.
TAPPER: --that this case could come down to who the jury finds more credible, you or Donald Trump? Or is that a comparison, you welcome?
COHEN: Well it's definitely a comparison that I welcome.
One of the things that I consistently say, I hear on all the stations, including this one, "We have to be concerned about Michael Cohen. He's a convicted perjurer. He's a convicted liar." Now, these are all great lines that Donald Trump has put out there, for many people, to continue to promote.
What they need to do is to continue the sentence, which is the lie that I had provided to Congress, which was done at the direction of, in coordination with, and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump.
And if I could take it just another moment, and remind your viewers what my big lie was about? It was about the number of times that I spoke to Donald, about the failed Trump Tower Moscow real estate project. I was instructed to say three, when in fact, the true answer was 10.
And if that's the big lie that's going to prevent a juror, from believing me, in terms of, my credibility, versus the guy who's lied to the American public, over 35,000 times? That's fact-checked, by the way. We'll see what happens. But I would - I'd put my money on Cohen, on this one.
TAPPER: One of the things that's so interesting, about the Stormy Daniels hush money payment? I'm not a big reader of In Touch magazine. But apparently, in 2011, Stormy Daniels was featured, on the cover of In Touch magazine, talking about her encounter, her sexual encounter, with Donald Trump. This is obviously years before he announced he was running for president.
If the fact, if it was already public, why pay her money, to keep it quiet? Was it just because people didn't remember, or didn't notice, the first time, it was on the cover of In Touch magazine?
It's either In Touch or In Style.
COHEN: Actually, I'm--
TAPPER: One of those.
COHEN: Yes. I'm not - yes, I'm not sure. I don't recall that specific document or that newspaper.
During that time period, there was something else that had transpired, where Stormy - there was a story about Stormy Daniels, and Donald Trump, in a online website, called the Dirty.com that ultimately was taken down. So, I'm not sure about the article that you're referring to. TAPPER: What did you think of the indictment today? What did you think of the strength of the chargers, and the strength of the case, given how much you have invested of your time, to bring these facts to light?
COHEN: Well, again, this is not Michael Cohen's case. This is an Alvin Bragg, District Attorney of New York, case, against the defendant, Donald J. Trump.
I was merely asked to provide information, which I did. I provided not only testimony. I provided documentary evidence, something that I said, going back to when I had spoken, with George Stephanopoulos, and said that my loyalty belongs to my wife, my daughter, my son and my country.
And I believe that it's important that everyone, who commits a crime be held accountable. And if those crimes were relevant enough, by the Southern District of New York, to hold against me, then certainly, it should be - it shouldn't matter that it's Donald J. Trump, or a former President, or anyone.
Now, this is up to Alvin Bragg, and his prosecutorial team, to provide, the information to, again, the judge and the jury, at the appropriate time.
TAPPER: In court today, Trump attorney, Todd Blanche, he defended the former president's various statements, on social media, which as you know, many people have considered to be a beyond the pale, in terms of the names he's called individuals, including calling District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, an animal.
He defended them by citing your podcasts, your other interviews that you've done, in the run-up to the case. Perhaps, this interview itself will be cited, in the future.
What's your take on that?
COHEN: I'm not the defendant, in this case.
When I was the defendant, in the case, Donald was very quick, along with his acolytes, to attack me on whatever platform that they had access to, at the time.
This is not - Michael Cohen is not the defendant, Donald, You are. And so, I will continue to speak truth to power. I will continue to provide transparency, to the American people, so that they understand to the extent that I can, information that I have. And I don't care that they want to keep razing me.
It's amazing how, once again, Donald is trying to shift all of the blame, which he's so good at. It's always somebody else's fault.
"Yes, Michael Cohen is speaking on his podcast. Michael Cohen wrote a book. Michael Cohen wrote a second book. Therefore, he should be allowed to turn around into say the things that he is saying against, again, the judge, the judge's family, prosecutors, and so on." That's not the way the system works. And obviously, Mr. Blanche should know that.
TAPPER: Well, one last question for you, just having been in Trump- world, for so long? When he calls the General Counsel - the Special Counsel rather, Jack Smith, when he calls him a lunatic? When he calls the District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, an animal? When he criticizes Alvin Bragg, for being backed by George Soros? When he criticizes the judge, and the judge's daughter?
Is this just being pugilistic, just being a fighter? Is this just being attacking? Or does he actually want his supporters, to go after these people, either rhetorically or even worse?
COHEN: Or I hate to say the combination of both. He's always trying to show that he's strong. It's an appearance of strength. And he thinks, by attacking people, whether it's a judge, or the judge's daughter, myself, or anybody that this gives the appearance of strength. It doesn't. It actually gives the appearance of ignorance and stupidity.
But nobody's able to tell him to knock it off, because Donald Trump doesn't care what anybody says, or what anybody thinks. He's going to continue to run the show, the way he wants, which is why he has this clown car of counsel, right now, representing him, because no legitimate firm wants to take him on.
Because you have an out-of-control client that doesn't listen to any advice, and at the end of the day isn't going to pay you either. So, this is, you get what you pay for, I guess!
TAPPER: One last question, Michael, which is Donald Trump, and also, a lot of his supporters, in Congress, and elsewhere, are constantly talking about Alvin Bragg, as being supported by George Soros, who is a very wealthy progressive, who funds a lot of progressive prosecutors, clearly, on the liberal end of the spectrum.
George Soros is also somebody that is a Holocaust survivor. He's Jewish. And a lot of anti-Semites also happen to criticize George Soros. I'm not saying criticizing George Soros is necessarily anti- Semitic. It isn't.
But do you think the way that Donald Trump and his supporters invoke George Soros' name, does that bother you? Do you think they're doing it for any anti-Semitic reason?
COHEN: I do. I think it's an anti-Semitic trope. And I think Donald knows that. And that's why he continues to do it.
Look, we've seen Donald do things like this all the time. Every time that he refers, for example, to Alvin Bragg, or to Fani Willis, or to someone, who's Black, he calls them, an animal. I mean, this is just the way that the man behaves.
There's no - again, it's why he's having such a difficult time, in terms of getting competent counsel, because he refuses to listen to anyone. He allows his worst nature to come forward. And that's not going to help him, in this case.
It's not just this case. He knows that there's the Georgia case, the Fani Willis, the D.A. case, coming down the pike, very soon. You have both of Jack Smith's case, also.
And this notion that "Well, why did Alvin Bragg go first?" What's the difference? Why all of a sudden, are we treating this like it's a horse race, who's coming in first, second, third, and fourth? It shouldn't matter. If you break the law, it's called accountability, and it goes right back to the adage that no one is above the law. And that includes Donald J. Trump.
TAPPER: Michael Cohen, thank you so much for coming in tonight. Really appreciate it.
COHEN: Thank you.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Jake, Michael Cohen fact-checked - mentioned fact-checking, a moment ago. In the former President's rambling appearance, tonight, he repeated a whole slew of lies.
CNN's Daniel Dale is with us, tonight, with some of the fact-checks.
So, Daniel, what did you hear? What did you want to talk about?
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Anderson, it was a Donald Trump speech, which means it was a barrage of false claims, many of which I'm comfortable calling, lies, because they've been debunked repeatedly. And yet, he keeps saying them.
Things like $85 billion worth of equipment left in Afghanistan, when it was actually about $7 billion. Or that nobody had a problem with his call with Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, until months later. No, people had a problem right away that very week.
And, Anderson, I found him particularly dishonest, when he tried to pivot, to the federal investigation, into his handling of official documents. Listen to some of the things he said on that subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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, as dangerous and triggering. Can you imagine, this is what we have to deal with!
Even though that 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 Bushes have done, Jimmy Carter's done, Ronald Reagan has done. Everybody's done.
I was working with NARA very nicely until the raid on my home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DALE: So, three separate clips there we played. This is a triple whammy of nonsense. None of that is true.
On the first claim that the Presidential Records Act said that he's supposed to negotiate with NARA, over the return of documents? Absolutely false. That law is open and shut, clear-cut. It says that the moment a President leaves office? The Archivist of the United States takes custody of presidential records. There was nothing in there that envisions a prolonged negotiation.
The second claim that Obama, Bush - the Bushes, Reagan and so on, also took documents, like he did, has been debunked, by the National Archives and Records Administration itself.
It says that it took custody, as required by that law, immediately upon those presidents leaving office, and NARA itself was the entity that moved the documents, to temporary NARA-managed facilities. So, not like their own house club resort, near where their presidential libraries would be built.
And then, the third claim that he was working very nicely with NARA, until this August FBI search? That is obvious nonsense.
Look, NARA had been trying, for more than a year, to get back these documents that were rightfully theirs. Trump did not even return all the documents, we know, even after the Department of Justice took over, and issued him a subpoena. So "Very nicely," I guess, is debatable. But in this case, it's just obviously wrong.
COOPER: He also continued to spread the same election lies that he's talked about before, the claim he said before about millions of illegal votes?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The millions of votes, illegally stuffed into ballot boxes, and all caught on government cameras.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Obviously that is not true.
DALE: I mean what more can we say about this? We've been dealing with this for two years, now. It did not happen.
There was a tiny smattering of fraud, throughout the country that even many of Trump's own former top officials, former Attorney General, Bill Barr, various campaign officials, have concluded, would not have changed the outcome. We've addressed this dozens, probably hundreds of times. He keeps saying it. Well keeps saying it in perpetuity, doesn't make it any more correct.
COOPER: Yes. Daniel Dale, a lot more to get to. We will. Daniel, thank you.
Joining the panel now, CNN Political Analyst, New York Times Senior Political Correspondent, and Trump biographer, Maggie Haberman.
First of all, Maggie, I don't know if you heard the rambling speech, the President gave, tonight. What did you make of that? What are your thoughts on the day?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "CONFIDENCE MAN": The day I actually thought went, as well as it could have gone, for Trump, in a lot of ways, because this was an indictment that did not have, as a bunch of people, on his team, put it to me, a ton of surprises. They felt as if they were able to deal with this well.
And then, he gave a speech, where he didn't really talk about that indictment very much at all. He did do exactly what he was warned against doing, by the judge, which is, talked about the prosecutor, and his family, and talked about the judge, and his family. And I don't know how that's going to go over.
It has a feeling of Trump is almost daring the judge, to issue a gag order, which a lot of Trump supporters had been predicting, defiantly, would happen. Trump, as we know, pushes the bounds of conduct over and over again. I expect you will see that here.
Basically, his argument is what it has been, which is "Any investigation into me is unjust." I was really surprised at how much time he spent talking about the Mar-a-Lago boxes investigation, the documents case, which we know he is very preoccupied with, and concerned about, and talks about a lot. But that was much more top-of- mind for him, tonight.
COOPER: Kaitlan, what are you hearing from your sources about it?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, CNN CO-ANCHOR, CNN THIS MORNING: I mean, the documents thing really stood out to me, where he was talking about also saying that prosecutors, or investigators, are threatening people, with jail time, when they're trying to talk to people.
We know Jack Smith, the Special Counsel, has been moving very aggressively, very tight deadlines, not just for Trump attorneys, but for witnesses that they've been subpoenaing. We confirmed the other day that they have called him members of the Secret Service to come in and testify as well. They're basically asking anyone and everyone.
His comments, tonight, seemed to indicate just such a high level of concern, when it comes to the documents investigation, in a really notable way.
Obviously, the New York case is top of mind, because that is where he was, today. I think his comments about the judge were really notable, given that was what his legal team was most worried about, going into today, was what he would say, about that, and about Alvin Bragg.
But the documents thing, it really stood out to me.
COOPER: Have either of you heard anything about what happened behind- the-scenes, at the courthouse, in the court's building, what the President thought about the process of actually being under arrest?
HABERMAN: He didn't enjoy it, Anderson. It was generally how I have had it described to me.
I mean, he didn't speak to cameras, and Kaitlan knows this, she was there, in part because the camera had been pushed very far down the hall, and I think he couldn't get close enough to it. But that was surprising that he didn't make an address ahead of time, or after, because we have been expecting it.
He was very angry. He was not enjoying it. There was some longer period of time, leading up to him, going into the courtroom, while he was being processed. And I still don't know exactly what accounted for that delay. But something did happen there.
COLLINS: And can I just say one other thing today that also happened was there's infighting, in the legal team, over who is taking the lead, on the New York case.
COLLINS: And you could see it in the transcript, where the prosecutors brought up Joe Tacopina, saying that he may have a conflict of interest, when it comes to Stormy Daniels, saying they got a letter, from her attorney, yesterday, implying that.
He denied it, I should note, to the judge, today. It wasn't even a hearing focused on that. He went out of his way to deny it. That comes after they brought on that new attorney that was there, today. So, I do think there is a lot of legal issues as well as to who is actually defending Trump, in the lead position, on that situation.
COOPER: I mean, the former President has been fundraising on this. I mean, I'm not sure, at this point, how much they have raised. I'm not sure how much more they raised, today. They're now selling, I guess, T-shirts with a fake mugshot that they have done.
How do you think, politically, this plays for him, in the coming weeks and months?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATION, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, this wasn't a good day for Donald Trump. But he is the master of taking lemons and making lemonade. He likes the theatrics. He likes to kind of build up the branding around this.
We had heard there were negotiations, of doing something even more potentially scaled back than what we saw today. He wanted the mugshot. He wanted that imagery of the defiant leader, taking on the Establishment. And it's working. That's the problem, is like we're seeing it, all the polls are showing, he is leading. The fact that the other Republicans in the field are coming out and defending him, it is hard, at this juncture, in a primary season, if people are not willing to challenge, for example, this indictment, or any of the other investigations into him? What lane is there to run against him in?
Because, this is not going well - he's not a substantive person. We're now seven years, into this endeavor. This isn't something, where people vote for him, purely on policy. It's the characters, the theatrics that follow him. He is taking up all the oxygen, in the room, and I think he's making the most of it.
COOPER: It also makes it impossible, for other Republican candidates, to talk about actual issues. He's not looking to talk about issues.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, he's not. And, I mean, look? Look at the arc of the day.
He starts off, as a small guy, in a small caravan, with a small entourage, going into a big building. And you can see on his face that it's, he's gone from reality TV to reality that this is real. This is not "Judge Judy." This is a real situation. And he looks shaken up. He looks ashen.
But then, he gets to get in a big plane, and go to his big resort, and have a big event, and get all this stuff.
And he's - there's something about what's happening to me that's very disturbing, that he's kind of slipped the noose, even today, and is somehow having the conversation he wants to have, about all this nonsense he wants to talk about.
He's not talking about the country. He's not even talking about the case. He's just pulling people down, to his own mirror world. And I'm afraid it's going to be working.
I think it's up to Republicans, to figure out how to get us out of this situation, because this is not good.
HABERMAN: They don't know how.
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We have - yes.
HABERMAN: If Republicans knew how to do that?
HABERMAN: I think that we would have seen it a long time ago.
And I do think that that is a point that you're making, and is a point Alyssa is making. We hear a lot from people around Ron DeSantis, for instance, that he's not changing how he's behaving, based on Donald Trump. He's going to run his game. Donald Trump is doing what he's doing.
And that's fine, except that Donald Trump was carried live, on Fox News, tonight. That doesn't happen that often anymore. And that tells you a lot about how the oxygen is getting sucked.
HABERMAN: Yes. And I don't think Republicans know how to go at Donald Trump. I don't think they have ever known how to go at Donald Trump. I don't think that's changed. I do think he has, in some ways, tightened his hold, on the party, even as his support has slipped.
URBAN: Well I'll just say that Alvin Bragg made it much more difficult, today, to go at Donald Trump. Alvin Bragg provided fodder, for Republicans, to say, "Look, this is what's going on. This is what's happening to Donald Trump (ph)."
Donald Trump could point to Alvin Bragg, and say, "I'm being attacked," and it's hard for Republicans to say, "Well, no, he's really not," when in fact, when Mitt Romney comes out and defends Donald Trump? There's a problem.
There's no space for a Mike Pence, or a Chris Sununu, or someone else who's getting in the race, to say, "We put some daylight here, let me try to get, like separate myself." How can you do that in this instance, when we have this case, right here, this indictment, which is largely, as the polls said, based on politics?
FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, and keep in mind, today, Nikki Haley was at the border. I believe Mike Pompeo traveled to Ukraine.
URBAN: Yes, nothing.
FARAH GRIFFIN: And those things are not breaking through.
What's breaking through of the message is, "Law enforcement is being weaponized against us. The system is being weaponized against Americans." That's what the Republican base wants to hear. And that's what Donald Trump is selling them. You can't really break through, on the policy substance.
Just ahead, New York congressman, Daniel Goldman, joins us. More coverage, more conversation, what comes next, the end of this historic day.
COOPER: Moments ago, the former President spoke, at his Mar-a-Lago residence, in front of a roomful of supporters, hours after he became the first former President, to be criminally charged. He called the prosecutor, criminal, and also criticized the judge, also mentioned the judge's wife and daughter.
CNN's Kristen Holmes joins us, from outside Mar-a-Lago.
I guess the event is over, the party's over? What stood out to you?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, one thing that really stood out to me? And this is - I know you guys have not been watching these speeches, in whole. And I've been at almost every single one, for the last several months.
HOLMES: This was an incredibly short speech. He usually talks for up to two hours. So, this 30-minute speech was very short.
Now, I will say that I talked to a number of sources, who have spoken with him, today, talked to members of his inner circle, who say that he was not pleased with what happened today.
But he was encouraged, watching that coverage, afterwards, hearing legal pundits, talking about how this was a weak case, and that Trump himself still believes what his lawyers are telling him, which is, again, that this is a weak case.
But I did speak to one ally, who was here, tonight, who supports Trump, in 2024, who did raise some concerns, which is that they believe that Trump might be entering an echo chamber. And that was certainly what we saw here, tonight. Almost everyone here was a rabid Trump supporter, the Matt Gaetzes, the Marjorie Taylor Greenes.
He exists on a social media platform, Truth Social, which is, again, an echo chamber. It's all people, who are supporting him, who are repeating his ideas. And there is a concern about what this means, politically.
I've talked to a number of allies, and advisers, who say that while they do believe that this indictment is going to give him a quick boost, it's hard-pressed, to find someone who thinks that this actually will help him, long-term, or has any idea.
So, it's interesting to hear actual people, close to him, talking about this idea that he's entered into this echo chamber, and might not be able to come out, and that could actually hurt him, politically, Anderson.
COOPER: Kristen, just in the room, when the speech is actually happening, tonight, does that play well in the room?
HOLMES: It does. You have a lot of people, who are cheering.
I think, probably the loudest cheer was when he said something about how Alvin Bragg himself should be charged, or he is the real criminal. I don't know the exact line. But when he was talking about Alvin Bragg, we heard a large cheer for that.
There were certain notes that played well. But overall, it was a lot of going back-and-forth, a little bit of rambling. They - I think it was hard to follow, if you're not well-versed, in all of these cases.
As, I know, both Maggie and Kaitlan said, he spent a lot of time, on what he called the documents hoax. We know that he is concerned about that investigation, that's one of the top investigations he cares about.
But those kind of in-the-weeds details were not something that elicited the cheers. The cheers came for the lobs at Alvin Bragg, the lobs at the prosecutors, the lobs at the Special Counsel. That's what actually got the cheers, here in the crowd.
And I do want to point out one thing that one of the biggest cheers I heard, all night, was actually before he even spoke, when I heard the crowd breakout, chanting "Kari won!" when Kari Lake walked in.
And that is what we really saw here, tonight. Kari Lake was a celebrity, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mike Lindell. That was who was here. And again, it does raise this question about this echo chamber that has been created.
COOPER: Kristen Holmes, appreciate it. Thanks.
TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson.
One of the things, one of the reasons, why lawyers did not want Donald Trump, to speak, is because he has a tendency to admit things that he did that were wrong, even though he doesn't view them as wrong.
One of those has to do with the Special Counsel investigation, into his improper storage of classified documents. He falsely claimed that previous Presidents have done exactly what he did, which is not true.
And he admitted some behaviors, I don't know if we have the clip ready, but in what he calls the boxes hoax.
This has to do with boxes full of classified documents that were improperly brought down to Mar-a-Lago, that the officials, in the government, who needed them back had difficulty, getting them back, and were not confident that Donald Trump would store them securely.
This is part of what he had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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. (END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Again, that's not accurate, that virtually every President has done what he did, which is untold amounts of documents that were classified and improperly stored, Jamie Gangel.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: None of them have done it on purpose. There were some, who accidentally took things.
First of all, the Act was signed by Jimmy Carter, just to go back, but it did not apply to him. But there is some reporting that he did find a document, and he quickly returned it. It is not true, for any of the others that they purposely took that.
I have to say, I've been covering the Archives story in some depth. And I confess that I was sitting here doing call and response, with him, as he said these things, and shaking my head, and saying "No." But the reality is, he just confessed--
GANGEL: --to this.
TAPPER: Yes. It wasn't he--
BASH: Twice, yes.
GANGEL: This was a confession, over and over, I - openly, and in very plain sight, Jack Smith, or someone, who works for him, is like--
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY: And it's not just - I mean, the documents thing was the part, he seemed to be really eager to confess, that particular part of it, that he took the documents.
PHILLIP: But it's not just that. The entire speech was really about all of the legal jeopardy that he's in, reminding voters, for whatever reason, that this is a former President, who has four active criminal investigations, into his conduct.
There has never been a president, who has had this much of his conduct, the scope of his conduct, under so much legal criminal scrutiny. And he just went to Mar-a-Lago, to remind millions of Americans that that's the case.
And this is why it's going to be an issue for him. Alvin Bragg's case is going to be adjudicated. Maybe it's strong, or maybe it's not. But the American voters are going to have to decide whether that - what they saw, in Mar-a-Lago, a former President, who has all this conduct, under scrutiny, whether that is acceptable to them?
And he wants the voters, to basically say, "Just ignore it all. It's all corrupt."
PHILLIP: "It's all political."
And the echo chamber, as Kristen was saying, in that room might believe that. But that's a really hard-sell, for the American public. And that's why this is going to be really problematic.
BASH: There are so many reasons why, listening to Donald Trump, and having to fact-check, as Daniel Dale did, and as we will have to continue to do, probably for days to come, so many of the things he said is a challenge.
GANGEL: Months to come.
BASH: For months to come, like talking about stuffing ballot boxes, he's, of course, still trying to re-litigate 2020, which there was absolutely no proof of, and there are many, many more things.
But if there is one nugget of sort of interest, for all of us, and that is to listen to him? You really get a window into what he's most worried about.
BASH: And the fact that he talked about not just all of these, but specifically he seemed to talk the most about?
GANGEL: The boxes.
BASH: The boxes?
BASH: And about Jack Smith, the Special Counsel? And this is happening, as he is very well aware that the investigation is not really focused, it doesn't seem, right now, on taking the boxes. It is on him, potentially obstructing, in an active way, the return--
MCCABE: That's right. That's right.
BASH: --of the classified documents that he took.
MCCABE: So, let's remember where we are, in that case.
Just two weeks ago, the government went before a federal judge, and convinced that judge, proffered evidence, to prove a prima facie case that Donald Trump engaged in with his - tried to use his lawyer, to conceal or commit a crime.
[21:40:00] And that level of proof enabled the prosecutors, to pierce his attorney-client privilege, the next day. That attorney, Evan Corcoran, was in front of the grand jury, testifying against his client--
TAPPER: Right. But--
MCCABE: --in a case that he represents him.
TAPPER: Because the question is Donald Trump's attorneys made false representations, to the government, to the Justice Department.
MCCABE: That's right.
TAPPER: And the question is, were they knowingly lying, or had Donald Trump lied to them?
MCCABE: Lied to them?
And so, that's at the core of this obstruction of justice investigation.
So, now let's think about the comments he made, tonight. In the least case, saying, "I openly and admittedly took the documents, from the White House, to Mar-a-Lago," he's basically laid the groundwork for two crimes that we know they're looking at, from the search warrant.
I mean, the affidavit supporting the search warrant, last summer, we know they're looking at unlawful retention of classified. We also know they're looking at the E&S (ph) Espionage Act, which is unlawful retention, of National--
TAPPER: Which he mentions, the Espionage Act.
MCCABE: --National Defense material.
MCCABE: So, it goes to that.
But it also goes to the question of intent, right? "I took this material. I engaged in a negotiation with NARA. And I agreed to give some back. But I kept others," all that goes to the intent to obstruct this effort to return the documents.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS: We're having a logical fact-based conversation, about Donald Trump, which is dangerous! Andy's right. Dana is right. Abby's right. Jamie's right.
It's not this - but politically, politically, we keep calling it echo chambers. It's a parallel universe. Mike Lindell, who still to this day, says, Hugo Chavez, from the grave, somehow manipulated voting machines, and stole the election from Donald Trump?
KING: OK, the fact he had to say those things, about explaining to people, he's in the room with, tells you something.
But the strategy here for Trump is pretty simple. Keep the 35 percent he's got, who believe it, when he says "It's a witch-hunt. The Deep State, they're out to get me." And he needs to keep them there, because that's his 35 percent.
Most smart Republicans think he'll get into the mid-40s, among Republicans, a rally-around-Trump moment, right now, above this. If he can stay there, and you have three or four other candidates, in the race--
GANGEL: He's got them--
KING: --then he may well be the next Republican nominee. That doesn't mean he's the next President of the United States. If we take this one step at a time, he's stronger politically, today, in the Republican cocoon, because he keeps his core, believing his lies.
TAPPER: And also, so few Republicans are willing to say what they really think, about him, and these charges.
Coming up, next, New York Democratic congressman, and former impeachment counsel, Dan Goldman, as our special coverage continues. Stay with us.
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of THE INDICTMENT OF DONALD TRUMP.
We're joined now by Congressman Dan Goldman, from New York.
Congressman, I appreciate you being with us.
Hearing the former President, at Mar-a-Lago, tonight, after being told, by the judge, today, or the judge telling attorneys, on both sides, the defense and the prosecution, "Please refrain from making comments?"
Or telling - the judge - telling the attorneys, to tell the witness, Donald Trump, and their client, Donald Trump, and the witnesses, Michael Cohen, and others, "Please refrain from making comments or engaging in conduct that has the potential to incite violence, create civil unrest or jeopardize the safety of well-being of any individuals."
Hearing the former President, once again, go after the judge, his wife, and his daughter? Is that in violation of the judge's instructions already?
REP. DAN GOLDMAN (D-NY): Look, I think he's starting to get up against that line, and not necessarily, if you read the - if you were to read it on a transcript, but because we know what his threats have done, in the past, and we know that his followers have used violence, when he has made similar statements. So, in the context of what he's saying, yes, he needs to be very careful.
I will - I would expect the judge to continue to admonish him. If it goes any further, rather than just to call out the judge's daughter, or the D.A's wife? I do think that the judge will admonish him, and perhaps begin the process, of moving towards a gag order.
COOPER: We know the President faces 34 counts of falsifying business records. That's only a felony, if the records were falsified, with the intent of concealing another crime.
Some legal analysts have expressed surprise that the indictment fails to identify, what that concealed crime is. Do you see that as problematic?
GOLDMAN: No. I think, in the end, it'll be pretty clear. If nothing else, the defense will ask, for a bill of particulars, to specify exactly what the crimes are that they're charging.
Mr. Bragg said himself that it's state election law, and federal election law. And, I think, ultimately, that's not going to be an issue, as this case moves forward. It very well may lead to a motion to dismiss, because of the legal theory that they are charging, but not because they don't specify the specific felony statutory number.
COOPER: As someone, who was involved, prosecuting the impeachment, of the then-President, and as a Congress - sitting congressman now, representing the New York City, Downtown New York, what did you make of seeing Donald Trump, driving through your district, heading toward his court appearance?
GOLDMAN: It was surreal. It's obviously historic, and unprecedented, to have a former President charged, in an indictment.
When you read the indictment, it says the "People versus Donald J. Trump." That's pretty stark. And it appeared as if he understood the gravity of that when he was in the courthouse.
I think what's most important, here, Anderson, is that the courthouse is where this has to play out. Donald Trump has a number of constitutional rights. He can challenge the indictment. He can challenge the witnesses. He can go to trial, where 12 jurors have to convict him, unanimously, beyond a reasonable doubt. That's where this has to play out.
And where we get off into dangerous territory is when this turns into a political football, so to speak, and that Donald Trump is using this charge, using the court of public opinion, to incite a lot of either violence, or threats, or concern that the rule of law, in our country, is made for this. He will have an opportunity to defend himself. And that's where this should happen. COOPER: Alvin Bragg has obviously faced a lot of questions, over the timing, of these charges, the strength of the evidence.
I just want to play, for our viewers, something he said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALVIN BRAGG, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We have had available to the office additional evidence that was not in the office's possession prior to my time here.
Text messages, e-mails, contemporaneous phone records, multiple witnesses, all of that will be, as you saw, in the fall, born out in a public courtroom, in Downtown Manhattan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Do you think the public will have to wait until the trial, to find out what that evidence is?
GOLDMAN: A lot of it, yes. Certainly, the defense, Donald Trump will see it. It may leak out somehow. But it will not be made public, until the trial.
But you captured, I think, two of the clips that really jumped out to me. The first is that this is not just based, on Michael Cohen's testimony. There are text messages, and documents, and Mr. Cohen said that earlier, on your show, that are going to corroborate Michael Cohen.
But notably, that's - a lot of that material is new. And I think what we lose sight of here is that the Trump Organization forced the prosecution, the District Attorney's office, to go to trial, in tax and other fraud-related charges. When prosecutors prepare for trial, they dig in much deeper.
And, I think, I suspect that some of this new evidence that became available to the District Attorney, probably related to that trial, that the Trump Organization, as is their right, forced the District Attorney, to prepare for. And I'm not saying that they shouldn't have done it. They did it. They were convicted, very swiftly. They will have to pay a fine.
But it kept this investigation into the Trump Organization, into Donald Trump, not only alive, but even, burning. And I don't - that was something that jumped out to me that Mr. Bragg said today, is that they had new evidence, from when he took over, as District Attorney.
COOPER: Separating from the legal issues, do you think this helps the former President, politically, maybe not in a general election, but in the Republican primary?
GOLDMAN: It remains to be seen. Clearly, it has helped him now, in this short-term.
But we're a long way away, from the primary season. There may be further indictments. There may be more information that comes out of this. Ultimately, Donald Trump is a criminal defendant, right now. And he may be able to capitalize, in this moment. But as that sets in, we'll have to see how it impacts the race.
COOPER: Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Mr. Trump, during both impeachment trials, and who has been a consistently harsh critic, of the former President, said today, quote, "The New York prosecutor has stretched to reach felony criminal charges in order to fit a political agenda."
Does it concern you that a Mitt Romney views this as political?
GOLDMAN: Well, it concerns me, when anyone says, this is political.
I think what's the - Donald Trump mentioned in his speech tonight, that Alvin Bragg declined to prosecute, a different fraud case, a year ago that was strongly recommended, to him, by senior prosecutors. And, at the time, Donald Trump's lawyer lauded Alvin Bragg's adherence, to the rule of law.
Now, he charges him, and all of a sudden he's a partisan hack!
You can't have it both ways. And there is no evidence at all, that this was political in nature. Notwithstanding all of the allegations, from the right, there's nothing to support that other than it's their preferred political narrative.
So, I think, we need to be very careful, when people are throwing those terms around, especially with someone, who has demonstrated that he is willing to decline to prosecute, this very same defendant.
COOPER: Congressman Goldman, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
GOLDMAN: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: We should note, we asked each and every Republican member, of the House Judiciary Committee, to come on the program, tonight. None was available.
Back with us, our political and legal team.
What happens tomorrow, Kaitlan?
COLLINS: It's a good question. There's going to be a lot of questions on what Trump said about the judge, tonight, I think, and his attacks, on the judge there.
I mean, saying that he was this Trump-hating judge, with a Trump- hating wife, specifically targeting him, really stood out, obviously, because that was something that the judge had specifically just talked about, going after members of the District Attorney's office, the concerns they had.
On the District Attorney's office, they have a tab, on the page, that says "Meet our Team." It was removed, earlier this week, I think, because of all the threats that you had seen-- COOPER: Yes.
COLLINS: --and all the targets that were going after them. I think that's a big part of it.
But I also just think it's the other investigations that are also facing Trump, that's notable.
With this case, it's expected to take time. I mean, they're not supposed to have another court date, until December. Even Trump's attorneys, today, were previewing, a trial may not happen until next spring.
COOPER: Elie, I mean do we have any sense of the timeline of these? Obviously, it's an unknowable, at this point. But the timeline in these other investigations, these other potential indictments?
ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "HATCHET MAN": We don't have any way to know that. But we do have indicators.
First of all, in Georgia, their grand jury starts every two months. One started in March. That one's clearly bygone by now. But another one starts in May. And all indications are that Fani Willis is getting towards the end of her case.
Now, if we look at DOJ? Donald Trump just made a series of false claims, about Jack Smith, and his investigation. He said, "Jack Smith is out there threatening people with prison, if they don't cooperate." That's not what's happening.
Jack Smith is going after people with lawful subpoenas. They're claiming executive privilege. And Jack Smith is cleaning their clocks in court.
Jack Smith is winning these executive privilege, at the Federal District Court of Appeal - federal district court level, at the Federal Court of Appeals level. Just today, he won at the Court of Appeals level, with respect to Mark Meadows, and various other close aides. So, Jack Smith is playing hard and playing clean here, so.
And I think Donald Trump did himself a disservice, in his speech, because he reminded us that he has way bigger problems, ahead. For all the, I think, legitimate and valid critiques, we've made, of this case, from the Manhattan D.A., the others are far more serious, and, I think, far better-supported by the evidence.
HABERMAN: Except that speech was for Republicans. That speech really was about him, galvanizing his supporters, and galvanizing non- supporters, Republicans who don't like him, who have still been critical, of the Bragg investigation, in the hopes that it will taint the investigation.
COOPER: But it's amazing (ph) to me that that is his idea, at this stage, in life, of a galvanizing rallying speech that like--
HABERMAN: While he's still left in something (ph).
COOPER: --"I want to join the barricades, because he's fighting for us." This is - it was all about the details of his obsessional cases.
HABERMAN: No. That's a - that is a big difference, from 2016. I mean, it's not - I don't think he was not solipsistic in 2016. He certainly was. But he was much better at suggesting, to people, in his rally addresses, "Here's problems in the country, and I'm fighting for you on them." Now it's, "Here's my problems, come help me with them."
And that said, he doesn't - you know this. We've talked about this many times before. He's not somebody, who thinks in really long-term strategy.
HABERMAN: He thinks, in terms of quick survival. And I think that's just what he's looking at this, right now.
COOPER: Does he - has he lost that - I mean, is it just being in an echo chamber, for so long, being on the golf field too long, and just being in the swamp of Mar-a-Lago? I mean, David? Or Alyssa?
URBAN: Well, in terms of being able to connect with that 2016 base?
COOPER: Yes. Of being able to take it from--
COOPER: --from, "Here's what happening to me," but also, this is, "I'm the guy fighting for you."
URBAN: Listen, Maggie's correct, and Van pointed this earlier. In 2016, it was about everyone else's grievances. And then, somewhere along the way, it became about, his grievances.
And along that way, he's kind of lost followers, right? He became a - he was a general election candidate, became a much stronger primary election candidate. And so, it will be - this is primary, it's going to be all about is how he can differentiate himself, and how others could differentiate themselves, from this ongoing--
URBAN: --grievance-fest, about the current president, right?
I mean, you said, how do people campaign? What are they going to campaign on, tomorrow? If you're Ron DeSantis, who doesn't want to mention Donald Trump, in your campaigns, when you go out, and people ask you about it, what's your response? You have to speak about it.
FARAH GRIFFIN: But I would go further, and to state the obvious, maybe 2016 was a bit of a fluke, like, I don't know that there's some secret magic that he's had, since then. Sure, he has a lock-solid hold on about 30 percent of the Republican base. And nobody else can become the nominee, so long as he keeps about that percentage of the base, just due to the primary system. But he's not won something, nationally, since then. So, I'm not sure that there was--
URBAN: But no. He did get 70 - you know, 75 million-plus people that voted for him. So, I wouldn't de minimis that. It's - or minimize that or diminish that at all, right? I mean, there is a movement, right, there's a movement still really supports this guy.
URBAN: And it can't be overlooked.
JONES: But the difference - a movement, though, a healthy one, tries to get new people, and tries to get converts--
FARAH GRIFFIN: Yes.
HABERMAN: Yes, right.
JONES: --and tries to grow.
What happens with movements is sometimes they started curdle. And then start looking, instead of for converts, they start looking for apostates, and start looking for people, to throw out, and to demonize.
And so, I think he's in real danger. I think he's in real trouble, here.
Another thing is, if somebody does something, to hurt a member of the family, of any of these people, we're going to test that theory that he could shoot somebody, and wouldn't lose any support.
He is being incredibly reckless. I agree with you, it's completely irresponsible for him to continue to put the pictures up, of family members, of judges and prosecutors. That is not done. And he's playing with fire.
So, not only is this movement starting to feel like it's really curdling. I don't think he expanded his base, tonight. He just consolidated this curdled milk. And now, he's also encouraging people, to possibly do things that are dangerous and violent. We could be in a very, very different moment, for this President, very soon - ex- president, very soon.
FARAH GRIFFIN: And a factor that I think we have to remember, as many of us have been saying, for weeks that this was the weakest of the cases that he's facing. And, of course, now he is indicted, you can't diminish the facts of the case.