Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
Trump Faces 37 Counts in Total, Including Willful Retention of National Defense Information; Indictment Shows Trump Allegedly Stored Classified Info in Bathroom, Shower, Ballroom, Bedroom; Donald Trump Charged with 37 Counts in Classified Documents Case; Classified Documents Stored in Ballroom, Bathroom, Bedroom and Shower by Donald Trump. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 09, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: -- read the allegations and seen evidence in today's indictment that have never ever been associated with any occupant or former occupant of the Oval Office before.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And we've used phrases we have never used before about a former president, any former president, things such as surrendering to federal authorities and almost certainly there's going to be more to come.
COOPER: That's for sure. That's it for us tonight. Jake, thanks so much.
The news continues. I want to turn things over now to CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Abby Phillip.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Kaitlan Collins in New York.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: And I'm Abby Phillip here in Washington. Our special coverage of the federal indictment of Donald Trump continues.
COLLINS: This case, the United States of America versus Donald J. Trump, along with Walt Nauta, his body man, a former president of the United States now a defendant in a federal case, the first time that's ever happened. And if convicted, he could go to prison.
PHILLIP: The indictment's 49 pages accuse him of breaking seven federal laws, including willful retention of national defense information, withholding or concealing documents in a federal investigation, false statements and conspiracy to ob instruct justice.
COLLINS: He is facing 37 separate charges, including one for each classified document that he's accused of keeping illegally, documents allegedly stashed in a bathroom, a shower, a ballroom, a bedroom, the former president allegedly showing some of them to people and also trying to conceal them from investigators.
I want to begin with CNN's Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid, who's been tracking all of this. Paula, I mean, we've been breaking down this indictment ever since it was unsealed earlier today looking at just the trove of detail and evidence that Jack Smith has included here, knowing that there's more. What's the latest that you're learning?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Kaitlan, what's so surprising to me is, you and I and our entire team, we have been covering this case so closely, and it's clear we only knew a sliver of what investigators have uncovered here. Prosecutors in this indictment alleging the former president intentionally, knowingly retained hundreds of classified documents, secrets that include information about the U.S. nuclear weapons, about vulnerability to attacks, plans for potential retaliation against a foreign attack.
And this indictment lays out how these secrets were strewn about Mar- a-Lago, everywhere from a ballroom that was actively hosting events, to a bathroom, to a storage space. One of the really interesting things about this indictment is it included photos to illustrate just how vulnerable these secrets were. That one photo where you see in a storage room, they have documents strewn across the floor. We're talking about secrets in those documents that were only meant for a handful of very close allies.
Now, this indictment also lays out two incidents where Trump allegedly shared classified information in person with people who didn't have clearances. The first incident that prosecutors cite is the one you and me and Katelyn Polantz broke just last week, that's that meeting in his Bedminster Golf Club in the summer 2021, where he tells people that, yes, I have sensitive information, and, yes, he seems aware he can't declassify it.
But then there's a second previously unknown incident where he allegedly shares a classified map with someone who works for a political action committee. And I think this is so significant, all of these new details, and Jack smith, we heard from him for the first time today, and he reminded people that we need to enforce the laws that protect classified information because it is a matter of, in his words, life or death.
COLLINS: Yes. It was kind of jarring to hear from Jack Smith after we have not heard anything from him. Paula, you and I both covered the Trump White House. We knew the people in the west wing very well. Of course, the other person who was indicted today is one of those people, Walt Nauta. He was a Navy veteran, he was a valet to the president then, he now followed him to Mar-a-Lago. He was also indicted today. What do we know about that?
REID: That's right. So, Walt Nauta, as you noted, he's a valet, he's someone who has really unique access to the president when he was in the White House and now the former president at meals, at -- in the inner circle. Right now, he's at Bedminster with the former president. He's definitely considered part of the inner circle and there is an effort to keep him there, because for the past several months, as you know, we've been reporting on whether he could potentially face charges. There were allegations that he had given false or conflicting statements to investigators in his interviews. And in our reporting, we learned investigators were thinking about trying to charge him to get him to flip against the former president, to help make their case. Well, clearly, that didn't happen and he is now this valet at the center of a criminal conspiracy alleged by prosecutors.
He is facing at least six counts of orchestrating this alleged conspiracy to, again, according to prosecutors, move boxes that contained classified information to hide them not only from investigators but also from former President Trump's own lawyers.
So, over the next few months, Walt Nauta is going to have a very serious decision to make about whether he wants to go ahead and face this criminal case, he has a Trump-backed lawyer, or if he would be willing to cooperate and potentially face few fewer charges. That is likely an option prosecutors will give him.
COLLINS: Yes. And as he waive that premise, it's worth noting that Trump was praising him as a patriot earlier today. Paula, thank you.
Speaking of the former president, what he is saying publicly, he is unsurprisingly attacking the special counsel, Jack Smith, in a series of posts on his website, Truth Social, following the indictment. This is just few of them. Even though his legal team, I am told, has warned him repeatedly that everything he says publicly could be used against him, he is going after Jack Smith today calling him deranged, a Trump hater, labeling him a thug after he made that brief statement that Paula referenced there about this indictment. The former president saying he looked weak and sheepish.
CNN's Kristen Holmes is in New Jersey where the former president is in his golf club tonight. Kristen, the legal team is telling him it's not a good idea to be attacking the special counsel who's investigating him. I know you've been talking to people in the former president's orbit. What are they saying?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, not only are people telling him not to post this as it could be used against him, but it's also coming at a time in which he's down a few lawyers and looking to staff up his legal team. So, I would be weary when you're going to represent Donald Trump that this is what you get. Of course, we've been covering him for years. Lawyers tell him to do something, and he often does not heed that advice.
Now, I am told by advisers who are close to him that he is defiant behind closed doors, that he is ready to fight this. This morning, he went out and played golf. He watched part of the video, the Jack Smith video. He even thumbed through the indictment. However, I am told that advisers and those in Trump's orbit are a little bit more hesitant than they were yesterday after seeing those charges.
Again, this isn't everybody but there was a lot of rallying behind the former president that we saw yesterday. A lot of these allies getting out there, making statements, saying that this was a political hoax, a witch hunt, all of what we have heard before.
Today, it was a little bit quieter. When I was talking to these allies, they said, we have to wait and see. I was told by at least one ally that it felt like the weight of the actual legal implications was there now. That wasn't something they had felt yesterday. Yesterday was all about the politics. We're going to fight this, we hope we get more money, like we saw through the Manhattan indictment, we hope we get a boost in the polls. Today was about, what does this actually mean for Trump legally, and what does this actually mean for a 2024 campaign?
And I will note, nothing in his campaign is changing. He has two events tomorrow. He'll be in Georgia. I'll be there with him. We expect him to address this. He'll also be in North Carolina later in the day, all, of course, before he heads down to Miami next week.
COLLINS: Yes. We'll see if he comments when he's on the road. Kristen Holmes, thank you.
Speaking of the special counsel, Jack Smith, as he made this rare appearance earlier, he expressed the gravity of the crimes that he is charging against the former president and the need, he says, for a speedy trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK SMITH, SPECIAL COUNSEL: The defendants in this case must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. To that end, my office will seek a speedy trial in this matter consistent with the public interest and the rights of the accused.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: And joining me now is former Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. Cy, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
As you well know, the bar for indicting a former president is incredibly high but we did see a wealth of evidence in this indictment today, in these allegations. What stood out to you in the 49 pages?
CY VANCE, FORMER MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I think, Kaitlan, two things stood out to me. First and foremost, it's another example of the cover-up is worse, in some sense, than the crime itself. And that is to say that what appears to have happened as alleged in the indictment is that documents were moved and then secreted and the president allegedly lied about the status of those documents. I think that's the hardest thing that he will have to overcome in terms of presenting a defense to the jury.
But the second thing is, I think, the hypocrisy, the president's repeated statements before he was president, during the time he was president, about the importance of maintaining the integrity of confidentiality of documents, exactly like the ones he's alleged to have kept in the ballroom and the storage room and the bathroom and all other places in Florida and New Jersey. I think that the prior statements and the hypocrisy of those statements married against the evidence is going to be a problem for him.
COLLINS: Yes, of course you're referencing everything that he said about Hillary Clinton's emails. We learned today that some of this classified information was kept in the shower.
Also what stood, out and this was the pressure on his attorneys. At one point in the indictment, it says that, as they're arguing that he tried to obstruct this investigation included one time suggesting that his attorney hide or destroy documents that were called for by the grand jury subpoena. And, of course, we know a lot of this because they have the notes from one of his attorneys, Evan Corcoran. Do you expect that Evan Corcoran would have to take the stand in a trial for this?
VANCE: Well, presumably, if Mr. Corcoran has already given grand jury testimony, which I would presume that he had or else he wouldn't be in the indictment, or in an interview, that the government may have proceeded and won on an argument of the crime fraud exceptions of the attorney-client privilege, in which case, I think, Mr. Corcoran should expect to have to testify at any trial.
COLLINS: Yes. And, obviously, Trump has also been indicted by your former office, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, for falsification of business records. Now, he's also been indicted by the special counsel. When you look at the two of them side by side, which one do you believe poses a more serious threat to him?
VANCE: I think the work that has been done in Manhattan, which began with our investigation, our trip to the Supreme Court to access his tax returns and ultimately the indictment of his company, and then the indictment of Mr. Trump by my successor, is an important and was a serious chapter in holding the former president accountable for his misconduct.
This indictment, however, stands, I think, in a different magnitude, the quality of the evidence, the volume of the evidence, the severity of the evidence. This is not a hush money. However, you view hush money payments, and I don't know how one would answer that question, national security secrets, battle plans, material that is obviously extremely sensitive, the disclosure of that and the lying about where that was and whether it had been turned over, is a whole different level of severity than the New York county indictment.
COLLINS: Do you think Jack Smith has more than even what's in this indictment from today?
VANCE: I assume Mr. Smith does. I don't think -- I think this is obviously a fulsome indictment, what people call a speaking indictment. The story is told and I think he's told the story in order to educate the public in a legitimate way.
COLLINS: We also heard from Jack Smith today, something that we don't often -- I don't know if we've ever heard him speak. He said today that they would pursue a speedy trial. Of course, we know the trial from the case here in Manhattan is supposed to start in March 2024. In your view, is there any realistic chance that the Justice Department gets this case tried before the 2024 election or maybe before your old office's trial that's supposed to start in March?
VANCE: Well, I can tell you from personal experience that the Trump Team will likely try to delay. They did so in our case by filing a lawsuit against me and our office in the federal court, even though it was a state case. And that took us on a year-and-a-half journey to the Supreme Court.
I think what will drive the timing however in the federal court, where I think judges -- this is a federal case. One can argue in the Manhattan case that trying to apply federal crimes to elevate the state case to a felony, that that leads one into federal jurisdiction issue. One can't make that argument here.
I think it's going to depend on how tough the judge is to both sides. And judges should be tough to both sides when it comes to moving cases forward. And so we'll have to await the response of the federal judge, which will probably be signaled during the arraignment on Tuesday what's the date for trial and what's the expected plan for resolving all issues that are disputed before trial?
COLLINS: Yes. And right now, we know it is Judge Aileen Cannon, of course, who has been incredibly involved in this case as they were trying to get a special master assigned to this. Cy Vance, thank you for your time and for your perspective on this tonight.
VANCE: Thanks, Kaitlan.
PHILLIP: All right. There's a lot to discuss on this historic day with my panel. With me tonight is CNN Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero, former deputy FBI Director Andy McCabe, CNN's Audie Cornish and CNN Political Commentator Jonah Goldberg, who is also with The Dispatch.
Carrie, we've been talking all day about just the amount of evidence, the volume of it, the variety of sources that the evidence came from, but I wonder, though, because there are unanswered questions that are just not in the indictment.
We know from some of the reporting that Jack Smith's team were asking about Trump's business deals, for example. We know that a key witness would have been Mark Meadows. Do you expect we will learn even more in a potential trial for this case?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the purpose of the trial would be to prove the charges as they've brought them. So, I would not expect that a trial that's about the classified documents case and that is addressing the charges in this particular indictment is going to get into business dealings or sort of other ancillary matters that maybe came up during the course of their investigation. But the job of the prosecutors is look at the elements of the particular federal crimes that they're charging, including a substantial number, over 30 that pertain to the mishandling of national defense information. And so they're going to be looking at the elements of those crimes and having to demonstrate how they prove those based on the evidence that they have, in addition to the obstruction charges and the conspiracy charges related to obstruction.
So, I think the trial itself is going to be extensive and the trial is going to be complicated. And I think that gets in a little into the question on timing that Kaitlan was talking about in her last interview, which is national security cases don't proceed quickly, even if the special counsel is asking for a speedy trial.
The fact that there are over 30 documents that are classified documents that are referenced in this indictment alone means that this trial will include classified information. And there's a whole -- so, I won't get into it now, but there's a whole set of laws, excuse me, that pertain to how you have to deal with classified information that's in a trial. And it's not an easy process, and it's not a fast process.
PHILLIP: Andy, talk to us about the complications of bringing a case with the nature of these documents. And also we were discussing -- I mean, this is just a small subset of what was found, a small subset of the documents that they hypothetically, I guess, could have charged. How will they bring this case with a jury?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure. So, we know that from the period discussed in the indictment, so that's just from the time they served the subpoena up until where we are today, we know that the Justice Department, the FBI, recovered over 300 documents from Mar-a-Lago. Only 31 of those documents are actually referred to as the basis of these 793 or Espionage Act charges.
Across that, the scope of those 300 documents, you invariably have some unbelievably sensitive, highly classified, compartmented documents and then things that are of lesser sensitivity. My strong suspicion is that the 31 here were specifically chosen because they both show the severity of the acts, their sensitive -- I think 28 of the 31 are top secret. You have handling codes on these documents like, no foreign, which is no foreign distribution. Some are FISA, many are special handling --
PHILLIP: Some are code word.
MCCABE: code word-protected. So, these are very serious things.
However, to be included in the indictment, it is likely that these 31 have already passed a certain level of scrutiny from the intelligence community. So, the owners of those documents have already talked to the Justice Department and said, essentially, yes, you can use this document, and if it's exposed at trial in some way, we can live with that. It's not going to be the end of the world for us in terms of the sources and methods therein. And that's a very tough decision for the community, the intelligence community, to make, but it's absolutely essential to be able to bring these matters to trial.
PHILLIP: And this is why when we went back to that audiotape of Trump talking about this document with the biographers, he's there and he's waving around this document, and he's saying, well, I can't declassify this, I can't really show you, but here's what it says. That's really astounding in and of itself. And that's not the only example they have of him doing something effectively like that.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Also, we're now out of the realm of court of public opinion and in the realm of court. So, some of these defenses that fly when you're fighting with the media, whataboutism, this president, that president must have did a thing, go fact-check it, it takes some time, let's muddy the waters with that conversation, the in-brain, I like declassified it by thinking of it, that kind of defense that you hear, all of these things that they won't go in court and say, but he says publicly, no longer fly in this scenario.
PHILLIP: Yes, I mean --
MCCABE: It's interesting, in response to your question to Carrie, we will hear more at the trial about these charges, right? So, even just in that incident that you just related, so the waving of the document, the infamous transcript that we've all been looking at for a few days, they'll bring every person who was in that room in to testify at trial.
That's not all laid out in the indictment, but they have the opportunity to bring each one of those reporters and staffers and whoever was there in to relate exactly what they saw and how the president reacted while he was saying what we see in this transcript. Was he holding something in his hand? Was he showing it to someone else? So, we'll get much more detail at the trial, potentially, from live witnesses than what we're seeing in the indictment.
PHILLIP: And, Jonah, the court of public opinion keeps getting brought up --
JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
PHILLIP: -- by Republicans. How much do you think that that really is a factor here?
GOLBERG: Oh, I think it's a factor. I take Audie's point very well. I think it's a point about how we're now in the moment about the court, not just the court of public opinion. But the court of public opinion dynamic has changed entirely. A lot of this, in a way, and I'm not trying to sound like the Clintons used to say about stuff that broke two days ago, that's old news, we don't need to talk about that anymore. I'm not saying this is old news. This is all very important.
But we knew the outlines of what the allegation was a long time ago. It is one thing to hear Trump was irresponsible with classified information. It's another thing to hear he kept classified documents by the toilet. And it's another thing to hear --
PHILLIP: And in the shower. GOLDBERG: And the shower. And it's another thing to hear him actually -- that he actually said -- he's like, I am committing a crime now, I have a document, it is classified, I am not allowed to declassify it, it is a secret, want to see it? Like that puts flesh on what were before basically abstract arguments about whether he could or couldn't do something and all that kind of stuff. And it makes it very, very difficult for Republicans to defend what Trump actually did. They have to change the subject of things that other people did because on the plain reality of what is unearthed in this indictment, it looks really bad.
CORNISH: Let's get right to persecution via prosecution, and that being the predominant focus of the next couple of weeks. The problem is there are so many more investigations to go. The Georgia case is still percolating about his activities in Georgia and the allegations there about trying to overturn the election. What's going on in New York, that will land, more or less, this fall, maybe December. So, it's kind of like death by a thousand cuts, you know? And it feels like even if this one case isn't the thing, there are so many other cases that will feel this level of consequential.
PHILLIP: And, look, Trumps words are pretty easy to understand, according to the transcript of that meeting in Bedminster. But when we come back, the former president is facing a total of 37 counts. 31 of them allege willful retention of national defense information. And James Clapper, the man who led the intelligence community, is here to tell us how this could affect our national security.
PHILLIP: Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump-appointee, will oversee the case against former President Trump, at least initially. She is the judge who appointed a special master in the documents probe last year, a ruling that faced a lot of scrutiny and was ultimately struck down by an appeals court.
So, let's bring in former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor Jon Sale. He was part of the committee selection process that actually screened Judge Cannon for a judgeship during the Trump administration. So, Jon, thanks for being here.
You know Judge Cannon. What influence do you think that she will have on this trial? And is this a boon for the former president and his defense team?
JON SALE, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, it's not a question of what influence she would have. I mean, if she remains the judge, I mean, judge presides over the proceeding, makes all the rulings.
To give somebody a quick geography lesson, the Southern District of Florida goes from Key West all the way up to Fort Pierce and a little bit beyond. But we have two divisions. And she is in the northern division. But this grand jury, although sitting in Miami, is actually a Palm Beach County/Fort Pierce-type grand jury. And they're only sitting in Miami because since COVID in West Palm Beach, there's no room that's safe that equips a grand jury. So, this is a West Palm Beach grand jury.
And one thing I want to say about Judge Cannon, I heard in a prior segment that reliable sources say she's presiding. You don't need reliable sources. If you just look at the summons, you'll see her initials on the summons. And, quickly, the way I think she was assigned the case, there are one of two ways. Either it's what we would call a related case, that it's related to the previous special master case, or it was just assigned randomly in the wheel. And believe it or not, I think it's the latter. Because the special master case was a civil case, this is a criminal case. And our system doesn't consider those related. So, I think she was assigned randomly. But the only judges who are in that wheel would be those in the northern division. So, the chances were not so great.
But to tell you a little bit about Judge Cannon, she -- we're very proud of our bench. She's well-educated, University of Michigan, Duke, worked at a major law firm, worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office. And one thing that surprised me -- we're proud of our bench. One thing that surprised me was that when she issued this ruling on the special master that's had so much controversy, that a lot of lawyers that I have a great deal of respect for were going on television and were saying the worst personal things about her. It's fine to say, I disagree with her ruling, I think she got it wrong, but there were some lawyers who said she's a disgraced, she should be impeached. I mean, those comments are totally out of line. I think she is going to preside. I think she presumptively will be fair. And I think if she had any doubts about her fairness, she would recuse herself.
And regarding trial date, everybody says, when is the trial date going to be? Well, I can tell you when it's going to be. Breaking news, it's going to be when Judge Cannon says it's going to be. And the defendants have a right to review all the discovery and national security documents. They don't have a lawyer on that team with clearance to do that. So, that's going to take a substantial amount of time so they can review these national security documents.
PHILLIP: So, John, one of the other interesting things about you is that you were a special prosecutor for Watergate and there -- in that case, Nixon had some distance between himself and some of the people doing the dirty work for him.
In this indictment, there is this really clear and very direct connection between Trump and the direction to his attorneys and to his valet. How do you think this indictment is different or similar to Watergate?
SALE: Well, the similarity is the cover-up. And if the turning point for President Trump was the subpoena, if at the time of the subpoena he had said to his lawyers, you know, we're going to comply like every other citizen has to and we're going to turn over everything, we wouldn't be talking about this today. There would be no indictment. Rather than deceiving his lawyers, lying to his lawyers, lying to
everyone else, assuming that's true. I mean, that still has to be proved. So, the similarity is that the cover-up is worse than the crime.
PHILLIP: John, before you go, you once considered joining the Trump legal team. Would you be his lawyer right now in this case?
SALE: Well, part of me, to be honest, I mean, part of me, the trial lawyer in me, I mean, I think without engaging in hyperbole, this could be the biggest case in the world, ever. So, there's some second thoughts, but I'm balancing out. I mean, this just wasn't for me and I have no regrets and I'm very happy with proceeding with my practice and my life, just occasionally appearing and commenting on a case.
PHILLIP: All right. John Sale, thank you very much.
SALE: Yeah, thank you.
PHILLIP: And I want to bring in CNN national security analyst and former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who's here with me in the studio. Look, there are some really serious national security issues and the last time we spoke, we didn't have this level of detail that we have now in the documents.
They're talking about here in the indictment intelligence that involves defense and weapons capabilities of the United States, as well as other countries, our nuclear programs, possible plans of attack and retaliation. These were documents that the former president had and they were just sitting around in the bathroom in the ballroom, in his bedroom, in his office. What do you make of it?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's -- as a lifetime career professional in intelligence, it's a -- represents appalling recklessness to treat documents of this sensitivity and the potential damage that they could accrue if exposed is remarkable. I mean, I'm really taken aback by it.
PHILLIPS: What do you think the value of the documents like this could have been to Trump? Why would he hold on to them?
CLAPPER: You know, that's a great question. I wonder what exactly was the motivation to do something that reckless? Was it just hubris? The ability to brag about it, you know, reminisce about his power days. I don't know what would motivate somebody, particularly a former president, to hoard those documents and do so in such an insecure, reckless manner.
PHILLIP: One of the categories of document that were found, and there was an image showing them spilled across the floor. These are Five Eyes classified documents. How serious is that kind of intelligence that was found in this room? A guitar is on the wall. They're strewn all over the floor.
CLAPPER: Well, the Five Eyes alliance is our closest intelligence partners, international intelligence partners. So, we are -- we share more with the Five Eyes than we do anyone else. So again, not knowing the content, but just from the standpoint of being that caveat of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, again, extremely serious.
And of course, the other four nations have a big equity in this as well. And once again, we'll -- I'm sure be questioned about our ability to protect secrets when, you know, our former commander-in- chief wasn't willing to do that.
PHILLIP: Are you worried about who could have had access to this kind of intelligence?
CLAPPER: I am. Particularly, again, knowing where this material was stored, to include on the stage in a Mar-a-Lago ballroom. There's no telling how many people, and that's essentially a semi-public place. No telling how many people might have had access to those documents.
PHILLIP: All right. James Clapper, thank you very much for joining us. Kaitlan?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Really interesting perspective, of course, from him on that realm of this, the national security realm. And Abby, we have a panel here in New York with me.
John Miller, CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams, Scott Jennings who I should note worked in the George W. Bush White House, and also former Democratic Congressman Mondaire Jones. And John, you heard Clapper there talking about fact that this compromise potentially of intelligence that is shared only among a select few nations, including the United States, that was just spilled on the floor, which they learned from these text messages -- Trump is running to be the commander-in-chief again, to be running. You know, what do you think allies think when they're reading this indictment?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I think they would be horrified looking at those pictures. And when you consider, you know, in the proper handling of those exact same documents that were on the stage, at the bathroom, and falling out of the box on the floor with the guitar against the wall, these were documents where you had to go into a lead-lined room, have an authorized security officer open a safe, take out a cover sheet -- these are places where you weren't allowed to bring a cell phone into the room or the building, anything that could signal in or out or take a picture.
And then you look at how they're strewn about. And the idea that there's 150 employees there, thousands of guests coming through for multiple events, both private and public --
COLLINS: And said they held 200 events or something at Mar-a-Lago in that time.
MILLER: And I mean, if you think of China, Russia, North Korea and, you know, the level of places where they try to gain employment, try to gain access just to maybe see something over here or something, meet somebody, if they had any idea that there were boxes of top- secret documents lying around, I think they would have been shocked too at how easy this potentially was.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: See, words that aren't used explicitly in the indictment but sort of lurk behind the scenes are that the defendant knew information that could reasonably be expected to hurt or harm the defense interests of the United States, that's a paraphrase of it a little bit, right?
And by running through and identifying the nature of the documents and also by identifying how they were spilled and mishandled in the way that John talks about, you really see how the indictment sort of tracks the language of federal law and makes clear that it's not just obstruction and mishandling documents but also could be used to harm America. (Inaudible).
COLLINS: Yeah, I mean, they sum up basically what was in there. And it talks about information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of the U.S. and foreign countries, nuclear programs, potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack, and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack. All of that is sitting in a bathroom at Mar-a-Lago, on stage where they're holding all these events. We're not seeing any criticism, really, from Republicans except the ones that are running against him.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIORPOLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well -- and the criticism is really all related to what they're calling the weaponization or the double standard, you know. Why does this happen to Donald Trump? It doesn't happen to Hillary Clinton, doesn't happen to Joe Biden. What I find interesting though about that argument is that inherent in it is that if you believe Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden should be prosecuted for what they did, I guess you're also arguing that Donald Trump is guilty.
I mean, what you're saying is that the pantheon of his conduct is illegal across the board. So, I'm not quite certain they've thought that argument through to its logical conclusion. I don't really hear anyone arguing the contents of the indictment is somehow weak or bad or not that big of a deal, because you read through this thing. And even if you don't know anything about the law, the commander-in-chief standard here is important to Republicans. At least, it always has been. And this fails that test. I mean, honestly, our national security documents laying around? It fails the commander-in-chief test.
WILLIAMS: To your point, Scott, no. It invites the question of, if the Department of Justice tomorrow were to indict Hunter Biden --
WILLIAMS: Would the criticism go away that there's a double standard in the law and that the Justice Department is only choosing to seek out and investigate and prosecute Donald Trump, but won't do the same for Hunter Biden? I don't know. But you raise an important point there, that I think folks are sort of seeming to say that, well, you should just prosecute Democrats, and let Donald Trump off because he's a good man and just (inaudible).
MONDAIRE JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Donald Trump famously said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. And I think there's some truth to that, at least as it concerns most of the Republican electorate in this Republican primary for president, right? Like, I don't know that they need to be able to compare this -- it's helpful rhetorically to say, well, what about Hillary Clinton and what about, you know, Joe Biden?
And by the way, I don't think objectively that there's any double standard here going around. I think the conduct is materially different. But even in the absence of those like, you know, those situations where you're trying, you're stretching to compare, I think that there will always be sort of an impulse, at least for a lot of people within the Republican Party. Not everybody. I mean, Chris Christie, for example, stands kind of on an island with maybe --
COLLINS: Former prosecutor himself.
JONES: -- Asa Hutchinson, to say -- to excuse the conduct or to overlook it or to say, what about, you know, or to pivot to something else to distract from the culpability that Donald Trump is having.
COLLINS: And what about all the times where on the campaign trail, Trump was saying you can't trust Hillary Clinton with this information, and now he --
JENNINGS: He gave scores of speeches about the need to protect classified information. And in fact, acted upon it and signed a law strengthening the penalties for people who violate that. He also said something interesting late in the campaign. He said, there's no doubt the FBI will find enough evidence to put Hillary Clinton under indictment, and we'll have a president that's under federal indictment.
It will be a scandal. It will be a constitutional crisis. This person will not be able to govern. It will be a total mess. We've got to get back to work and we can't have a country that's paralyzed by a commander-in-chief, by a president who's under indictment.
These are direct quotes from his argument, direct argument against Hillary Clinton, that look, you don't have to be a very good political consultant to make those ads. I mean, it's going to be pretty stark.
COLLINS: Yeah. And he also criticized his national security adviser who published a book saying that he was leaking intelligence secrets. We'll have more on all of this as we break down this lengthy indictment. More to come on the federal indictment against the former president. We should note, it's the first time ever a former president has faced federal charges. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COLLINS: Tonight, some Republicans in Congress are leaping to the former president's defense, but others, silent. I want to turn now to former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. Congressman or Adam, I guess I should call you, you used to -- you investigated Trump when you were on the January 6th committee. A very different investigation, but still that. As you read through this indictment today, did anything surprise you?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I mean, the whole thing was surprising. I mean, I guess we kind of knew leading up that it was going to be bad. But to see how obvious it was that the president, the former president, didn't just have classified documents and failed to return them. He and his folks, his co-conspirator here, knew what they were doing. They were trying to avoid even their lawyers finding out what it was.
So, I guess it didn't really surprise me because it just -- I mean, really nothing with Donald Trump surprises me. I think what's been more disappointing today is just seeing that there is not this -- should be outrage from all of my former colleagues on the Republican Party about what Donald Trump did. And I'm just not seeing that right now.
COLLINS: Every time something like this happens, which of course now he's been indicted twice, but every time he faces an investigation or something like that, you hear this talk about how it's only going to boost him with Republicans. We saw it after what happened here in New York. Do you think that's because his messaging with them works? Or is it also because there aren't Republicans who are willing to come out and speak out against it?
KINZINGER: It's that. I think -- look, I think it will boost him. I do think this will do damage to him. Even if people, like, don't believe it, I think they'll believe it, but there's going to be a lot of fatigue that's setting in. And I think an opponent to Donald Trump that then starts making the case, like you saw Chris Christie do so well, of like, look, not only can Donald Trump not win, Donald Trump doesn't deserve to win when he's so cavalier with this kind of stuff at a time when we're in real competition with Russia and China. That matters.
And so, look, these are really big issues, really big moments. My colleagues, if they -- my former colleagues, if they could come out and speak out. Look, leading is about that. It's leading, right? What we have right now is a lot of people in politics that just, they do what they need to do to get elected. The people following them follow them.
And so, in essence, it's like a dog chasing its tail. I know it's tough to lead, but to stand up and say, we have to hold to our oath, we deserve better than this as Americans and as Republicans, would change the game. But you just don't see that. Particularly with like Kevin McCarthy, he came out and defended him today.
COLLINS: Yeah. I actually want to show our viewers what it was that the House Speaker said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is going to disrupt this nation because it goes to the core of equal justice for all, which is not being seen today and we are not going to stand for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Do you think he really believes that? Or do you think that has to do with the perilous position that he's in, with a very slim majority on Capitol Hill?
KINZINGER: Kevin is actually a pretty smart guy and he doesn't believe any of that. I mean, he really doesn't. He knows, look, I mean, to an extent I sympathize with him not like at a heart level, but just from a political strategy level. He can't turn any of his people against him. He's only in power by just a few votes.
He knows better than this. And the problem is, after January 6th, there was a lot of silence among my colleagues. Where are going to go? What are we going to do? When Kevin McCarthy showed up at Mar-a-Lago, that turned Donald Trump from a pariah into the leader of the Republican Party again.
And again, it's not even about the politics of the moment. Kevin McCarthy has an opportunity to change the path of the United States of America and the path of the Republican Party. It's not just about whether he stays in power for the next year. He doesn't see that. And frankly, it saddens me and it disappoints me.
COLLINS: Yeah. And, of course, I also can't forget listening to those words from Kevin McCarthy, how Trump was calling the Republican holdouts and hardliners as he was in that fight for his political life, for his House speakership in the middle of the night on Capitol Hill. Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thank you so much for your time tonight.
Up next, we're going to listen to the former president in his own words. Everything that he said about classified documents that was actually quoted in this indictment today.
PHILLIP: The federal indictment against former President Trump was unsealed today, and it is full of his own public statements.
COLLINS: Yeah, it was fascinating to see the government using his evidence, multiple examples of Trump railing against the misuse and mishandling of government secrets, calling for harsher consequences for those who do and also claiming anyone who doesn't shouldn't be in the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In my administration, I'm going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information.
No one will be above the law.
We also need to fight this battle by collecting intelligence and then protecting, protecting our classified secrets.
We can't have someone in the Oval Office who doesn't understand the meaning of the word "confidential" or "classified."
One of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules and to enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.
We also need the best protection of classified information.
Service members here in North Carolina have risked their lives to acquire classified intelligence to protect our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Abby, it was that last -- that last sound bite there of the former president that really made think of what Jack Smith said today, talking about the gravity of this. This is not just some loose documents that were taken with him. These were the nation's secrets, apparently ones related to nuclear programs and our closest allies and of course, the idea that if could potentially put service members in harm's way.
PHILLIP: Yeah, and it's not just the hypocrisy, I think. That wasn't really, I don't think the point of having this it in the document. It was also to show that Trump knew the severity of it, the consequences of what he was allegedly doing and that's going to be a really key part of this. How much did he understand about the nature and the severity of the allegations that will be against him in the court of law, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Yeah, absolutely.
PHILLIP: All right. And when we come back, we will go right to Miami where Donald Trump is expected to be formally placed under arrest just this Tuesday.