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Trump Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charges; Judge Rules Trump Cannot Talk to Indicted Aide Walt Nauta About Case. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired June 13, 2023 - 15:00   ET


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And as we reported at the time, the former president actually stopped by telling the Justice Department official that he was like an open book. And, of course, as we now know, they allege in this indictment, he actually had about 30 boxes of classified - with classified documents up in his residence of Mar-A-Lago that were kept away even from his own attorney.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. Kaitlan, we'll come back to you shortly.

Alyssa Farah Griffin is joining us here in New York. I'm wondering what you make of what we've heard and seen so far.

GRIFFIN: I mean, what a historic and historically sad day. And just to kind of put it into context, the former president has now been indicted in the state of New York, but now federally - under federal charges.

And the fact that the reaction from so many elected Republicans has been to come to his defense, to call for future pardons of him, to talk about destabilizing the Department of Justice as well as his fellow contenders who are allegedly running against him in 2024.

I mean, we're through the Rubicon here. What are we doing is the question I would pose to my party. This is a rock solid indictment. I am a non-attorney. This reads clear as day, the actions that he took, the photos are there. The evidence is there.

These are the - this is very similar, by the way, to what many Republicans were criticizing Hillary Clinton for except it's a thousand times worse. And it's just - I think it takes - it just requires a moment to take - to think about the gravity of this.

COOPER: It just seemed like a lot of the language we're hearing certainly from the spokesperson for the former president there. But even from some elected officials, it's pretty dangerous language that is clearly designed to just divide the country as much as possible all to the benefit of one guy ...


COOPER: ... the former president.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. So listen, there is an overwhelming majority of voices out there at this point in time, right? We'll see how it kind of plays out. But last night, Chris Christie wasn't here kind of singing from that hymn book, right? It - as I pointed out earlier, Sen. Cornyn, Sen. Thune, I imagine there's a whole caucus of senators who will speak up at some point, I'm sure Sen. McConnell. There are some, again, like J.D. Vance, who was coming out and kind of doing what Alyssa just alluded to.

But they're a good member of Republicans, good number of Republican members in the Senate and the House who will probably just keep their powder dry for this point in time. And when are they going to do it is the question, right, when they're going to do it.

And you should be able to challenge this and say, you could - you should be able to say, look, this looks bad facially, let the system play out and we'll see what it's said ]and not be called a RINO, not be called unpatriotic, not be attacked for doing so.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The thing that I keep hearing is that this sets this precedent now, that now you can - every president's going to after the president that came before them and we're going to be in this sort of banana republic situation. And I - that would be bad. That would be bad, but think about the precedent that it would set if nothing happened, if no charges were brought forward.

Basically, being the President of the United States means afterwards you have a license to steal, a license to do whatever you want and no one will ever hold you into account. It's not like President Trump is saying, I did this, it's wrong, I'm sorry, I'm going to give you stuff back. My bad. He's still trying to hang on to this stuff and assert he has a right to it.

And so there's a president that would have been horrible in the other direction as well.

COOPER: I just want to quickly get back to Kaitlan Collins with some news. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Yes, Anderson. We have learned what we expected to happen when the former president entered that courtroom, which is to otter words that he pleaded not that long ago, not guilty. That is when we are told that he has now pleaded in front of the judge, Judge Goodman. That is the magistrate judge who is overseeing this.

It is not the Trump-appointed judge, Judge Aileen Cannon that we've been talking so much about. That was the judge that he appointed in the days after he lost the election, I should note. This is exclusive reporting to CNN, Anderson, I should note as we have our entire amazing team who is inside the courthouse making calls back because they do not have access.

Obviously, we don't have cameras in there, there's no audio, they come - didn't come out and transmit this information to us. And they have now told us exclusively that the former president has pleaded not guilty, Anderson.

COOPER: Kaitlan, we'll come back to you shortly for more.

URBAN: So I'm just going to kind of follow up on what Van was saying. So think about if you're a Trump supporter, if you're not even crazy MAGA supporter, but just a regular Trump supporter, right? And you think back to - on inauguration day for Donald Trump, what were the headline - there's a big headline article in The Washington Post, Trump to be impeached, Trump should be impeached, right, on the day he was getting sworn in.

And so there's been this steady drumbeat. I kept - from the beginning of the Trump administration, every day I'd turn on the news and Trump to be indicted, right, the Mueller investigation, we have Russia collusion, you have the steady like drip of things every day that's going to take down the president, you take down the republic.

And I think on the Republican side of the aisle, you think, look, this is a little bit too much, right. It's like the boy who cried wolf. If everything is a crime crisis with Donald Trump, then nothing is a crisis.


And then when a crisis does occur like on January 6 and perhaps with these documents, people who might be rational normally would say, look, we're just more of the same. We've heard this so much, just white noise at this point.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I wonder if that though is also by design, right? There is a way that you want to construe a narrative such that by the time something actually meritorious might come around, you diluted or poison the well and/or polluted the well in some respects.

I would look at this, though, I just want to go back to where we are. If the complaint is that this is weaponization, because you're denying a kind of due process to the President of the United States that he's not having his day in court, he's not able to have a fair opportunity to be heard, well, that is part of what the basis for the core allegations of obstruction are.

It's the notion of you have - you've precluded a federal grand jury from being able to investigate a case. If what you would like is due process and what you would like as a kind of investigation, then you cannot do what you do to obstruct that actual thing from happening.

And so there's different buckets to put all of this in. There's, of course, the classification, the withholding, but obstruction is one self-inflicted.

COOPER: I want to get back to Jake in D.C. Jake?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, well in the overflow room in the Miami courthouse, we have Evan Perez, our Justice Correspondent - Justice Department Correspondent. He just got out of that room.

Evan, what did you see? Tell us all about Mr. Trump's appearance before the judge?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. The former president took a seat at the defendant's table. He was wearing his trademark red tie with a dark suit. He had a very serious look on his face. Periodically, he had his arms folded, once in a while would speak to one of his attorneys, Todd Blanche. And Todd Blanche is one of the lawyer - is the lawyer who stood before the judge when he was asked to enter the plea. He said, "We most certainly enter a plea of not guilty, Your Honor." And that was essentially near the beginning of the hearing.

These hearings are typically very perfunctory. They're very short and we got to the point very, very quickly that former President entered the room probably about 30, 40 minutes before the judge.

We couldn't see exactly when he entered the room because the televisions in the room we're in were not turned on immediately. But the - we saw the lawyers take their seats and the former President sort of twiddling his thumbs while he waited for the proceedings to take its place. He never looked around the room, had a very sort of glum look on his face, again, just periodically talking to his lawyers, who was - who are next to him.

Todd Blanche was seated to his right, Chris Kise was seated to his left and then next to them was Walt Nauta and his attorney Stan Woodward. They were seated there. The proceedings began with the former president. As I was running out, there were about to turn to the co-defendant, of course, Walt Nauta.

And on the side of the prosecution, we could see Jack Smith seated in the front row in the audience. Three other prosecutors were sitting there for the Justice Department, including Jay Bratt, who has been leading this investigation from the beginning. Julie Edelstein and David Harbach, both of them were - addressed the judge and introduced themselves.

The judge was very polite to them. Sometimes in this court here in Miami, you have - some of these judges have a history of not being friendly to people who are from out of town, especially federal prosecutors coming out of Washington, D.C.

This judge, this magistrate welcomed them and said thank you for coming. And he opened the proceeding by thanking the U.S. Marshals and all the law enforcement that has kept this entire scene very protected and very safe so far, Jake?

TAPPER: Evan, what can you tell us about - without mind reading, obviously, the president's mood as we saw him leave Doral and enter the car. He looked a bit dejected. He looked very - there wasn't a lot of energy.

We've seen, obviously, Donald Trump through many moods ...


TAPPER: ... over the last eight years. We've seen him upbeat. We've seen him excited. We've seen him in rallies. We've seen him ...


TAPPER: ... sick, when he had COVID and the like. There he is right now. We're looking at some pictures of him just kind of giving a perfunctory wave and walking into his limo. How did he see in front of the judge? How did he seem?

PEREZ: That's - I think that's exactly what I saw in that courtroom. He appeared very glum. He did not seem to have a lot of energy. Once in a while was twiddling his thumbs, again had his arms folded.


It was certainly - we've seen him sometimes when he's irritated, when he's not exactly very comfortable and happy inside a room, that is the look we saw there, seated at the defense table inside this courtroom. Packed courtroom, by the way.

Initially, the U.S. Marshals and the clerk told us, we're going to be limited to about 20 seats inside that courtroom, along with members of the public. They actually had very few members of the public actually show up there to be in the room and they ended up taking about 40 reporters inside this very packed courtroom. Jake.

And so, we're all, of course, eyes glued to the former president. And it's certainly the look of a man like you and I have seen so - when he's not happy, when he's not - when he's irritated sometimes. He has that folded arm, sort of looking around and not quite the energetic thing that you sometimes see when he's at his rallies and when he's sort of very happy about how things are going.

TAPPER: And Evan, we also - we just heard the news that the judge has permitted Trump and his aide, Nauta, to leave with no conditions, deeming them not to be flight risks. I assumed that was expected. Can you talk about that? And also, was it Donald Trump himself who pleaded not guilty or was it his attorney?

PEREZ: No, no, no, it was Todd Blanche, his attorney, who stood and entered the plea on his behalf, on the former president's behalf. One of the first things that happened was the judge told them that the practice inside this district is for defendants to waive the reading of all these charges.

Of course, 31 charges, it would take a long time to read all the details of that and so they asked the president's - former president's legal team to say whether they would waive and they immediately said they would. And so that's - to me, it happened extremely quickly that they got to the plea. And again, Todd's Blanche is the one that entered that plea.

And Jake, yes, we did expect that he would be - that both of them would be released on their own recognizance. We didn't expect that the government would ask for any stipulations on that in part because he is running for president. He is somebody who is - has a campaign. I assume he's got campaign events that are coming up very, very soon. And so the idea of restricting his travel, of course, would be a huge impediment to that and would affect that ability. I think one of the things the Justice Department is very keen to do is to not interfere with the political process.

They want to try to make sure that everyone understands that the man can continue his campaign, he can continue doing what he's doing and that this matter is something being done separately. And I think that's what the message there was.

Now, one of the things, Jake, we - because I left the room - we don't know whether this might come up in future arguments between the Justice Department and the president's - the former president's lawyers is the question of his communication with people who are potential witnesses.

Of course, witness tampering is already part of this case, so I know that that is one of the issues that is likely to be brought up by federal prosecutors as we go forward, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Evan Perez, thank you so much. Let's - let me throw it back to Kaitlan Collins and Paula Reid. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Yes, Jake. And I should note, we have some guests behind us. Of course, there's a lot of members of Department of Homeland Security that are behind us here at the courthouse as they've been working to secure this.

Paula, you have new reporting on what's been going on inside that courthouse as the former president is in there pleading not guilty.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. In addition to the not guilty plea, the judge here had to decide matters of bond, conditions of release.

Now, the judge decided neither one of these men, former President Trump nor Walt Nauta, pose a flight risk. So there are going to be no travel restrictions on either men. Now, that's significant because, of course, former President Trump is traveling the country campaigning to return it to the White House. Also, they will not have to put up any cash bond. So they will be released based on a personal bond.

And the judge also took a moment to thank law enforcement. There has been some criticism of the security around the court here, but this is a big undertaking. As you know, to bring the former president into the federal courthouse, as you noted, we just saw security presence behind us.

So that's pretty much all I have to do in this hearing. It appears at this point it is likely wrapped up, but that is some good news for the former president, no travel restrictions related to this space.

COLLINS: Jeffrey Sloman, you are joining us. I should introduce you to our guests. You are a former U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida, you know this courthouse very well. We'll get to that in a moment. But on what Paula just reported there on the fact that neither of them had to post any bond. There are no flight restrictions for either the former president or for Walt Nauta. Does that surprise you or does that seem about right?


JEFFREY SLOMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA: Nothing surprises me about this case. But for regular people, there are bond restrictions even on a signature bond like the president - the former president received. Bond restrictions such as can't travel outside the Southern District of Florida, even clients that I've had who've been cooperating for years still have bond restrictions, travel restrictions.

So I don't think it's surprising. I think it's par for the course for a case like this. Nobody's concerned that he's going to abscond to another country or he's not going to report when required.

COLLINS: He's obviously very recognizable, but is it - why is it the same calculation for someone like a Walt Nauta as someone who is relatively not - relatively unknown.


COLLINS: He's known to us who covered the White House, but other than that he wasn't a super well known name until now.

SLOMAN: My guess is that there was probably some pre arranged bond for both defendants and that was just part of the calculus. I think the prosecutors in this case want to appear as fair as possible and I think that's part of the calculation.

COLLINS: And I should note, you have spent a lot of time up on the 13th floor of this courthouse. Obviously, you know that very well. Did you ever imagine that a former president of the United States would be up there pleading not guilty to 37 counts of federal charges?

SLOMAN: I - it's still stunning to me that the president - the former president was in this building, was on the 13th floor and he was having an arraignment. That's stunning. But the 13th floor is a ceremonial courtroom. That's where investitures are held. That's where things are celebrated in this district. And so to think that the former President of the United States was a defendant in a criminal case and be - and pled not guilty in that courtroom is his historic.

COLLINS: And Paula, we both covered Trump. We - you observe as - your job as a White House reporter is obviously to observe essentially the president's mannerisms, his every move beyond just the policy aspect of that.

To hear Evan report, he had his arms folded. He was periodically speaking to Todd Blanche. Todd Blanche was taking the lead. What stuck out to you.

REID: I mean, I always say I'm a legal affairs reporter, right? A lawyer turned journalist, former President Trump is the greatest legal affairs beat that there has ever been. He's always raising new constitutional questions. But the criminal issues have never really caught up to him.

This is the first time or the second time, because we obviously saw the case in Manhattan, this is the first time that federal criminal charges have been filed against any president. Now the fact that it's former President Trump, that is not terribly surprising, given that this is the second time he has been investigated by a special counsel. He has twice been impeached. He has had basically a history over decades, right, of being sued, of having these investigations.

So it is a sad moment, not only for the former president, for the country. But for a man who believes he is above the law, it is a reminder that in the U.S. Justice System, no one is above the law.

COLLINS: Yes, a historic moment to have him there pleading guilty, as I noted, second time in three months. Jake, back to you.

TAPPER: Dana Bash, when you heard the description of Donald Trump's demeanor in court, which is somber, arms crossed, not obviously happy, all of which is understandable.


TAPPER: You were talking about an interview that you read with Donald Trump over the weekend.

BASH: Yes, on - with POLITICO and there was one part of it where he says plainly, nobody wants to be indicted. I don't care that my poll numbers went up by a lot. I don't want to be indicted. I've never been indicted. I went through my whole life, now I get indicted every two months.

That to me was such a moment where the Donald Trump who has been pushing the boundaries of the legal system for a very long time, using the legal system in many ways to try to promote his businesses and other things. It's very, very notable statement.

At the same time, as we're sitting here, I'm sure you have in your inbox, I do emails, not just from the Trump campaign, but from other Republican campaigns blasting out saying, look what's happening. Trump's email says, I could get up to 400 years in prison. This is a political witch hunt, donate now.

Marsha Blackburn, a senator from Tennessee just got one - the second he pled saying that he pled. So this is also at the same time, the reality is setting in that moment. And we have an example of him talking about that. He is using it and his team is using it as much as they can to try to benefit his political campaign.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think there's no question about it. The mannerisms that were described today, the same mannerisms he had in New York just a couple of months ago. In that case, we saw the photographs ourselves of him sitting behind the defendant's table with his arms crossed with a pursed lips, really looking I'm angry about the situation.


But in some ways, unlike that other case, this one is one in which as we've been saying, at every turn, he could have avoided this. So even in a world of conspiracies, as so many of his supporters are in, it is extraordinary in all of the worst possible ways that Trump could even have found himself here.

It's not easy to get a federal indictment against you that reads like the indictment that we have seen in the last week. He went through multiple steps of doing things that raised huge, huge red flags that even his former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo this morning said that it's inconsistent with how you handle classified documents.

He - Mike Pompeo had handled thousands of them in his life and the conduct alleged in the affidavit is totally inconsistent with that. This is not something that is easy to do. It's actually - it would be shocking to me, if anybody could come up with a conspiracy that could get us to this point where this is number two, indictment number two, and we're not even done.

TAPPER: We probably have two more indictments to come.



JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So what you have now is nine other Republican candidates for President trying to figure out what to do at this moment. And most of them are talking about what they see as a two-tiered justice system. They're trying to deflect, if you will, some saying they would pardon Trump.

But this is interesting, you mentioned the timing of the Marsha Blackburn email, right around the same time this fundraising email from Tim Scott. It's time for Republicans to elect a president we can be proud of, one with an optimistic conservative message every American can support.

You can read that and say nothing, that's sort of template fundraising or you can say why did you send that at this very moment, a president we can be proud of. The other candidates are just trying to figure out what does this do and I was just texting and emailing with activists in Iowa and New Hampshire. They say some people got really quiet on these days and then other people are like the Never Trumpers or the - even - not just never Trumpers. That's an unfair way to say it.

People who don't want Trump, people who would probably vote for Trump if he was the nominee but would prefer someone else. The most urgent conversation about them right now is they see the short term gain and they are worried even though it's seven months till anybody votes, they are worried, like, there's too many candidates in the field.

So they're all talking to each other. The people who support Sen. Scott, the people who support the former Vice President, the people who support other candidates, they're already talking to each other about does your guy understand or does your woman understand the case of Gov. Haley, that come the end of the year, we're going to have to make some tough choices.

TAPPER: Let me go back to Evan Perez in Miami, who has some more news from inside the courtroom. Evan?

PEREZ: That's right, Jake. This is something we anticipated, the judge has said that the former president is not allowed to talk to witnesses. Again, that's something that we know was on the mind of the Justice Department. It wasn't clear whether we're going to raise it at today's hearing. We expected him to and it appears that's what just happened.

The judge has said that at least for now, no contact with potential witnesses. In this case, of course, we know that the former president is being charged with obstruction. And the issue of tampering with witnesses is already something that is a big feature of this trial of this case. So it is not a surprise that the Justice Department would make this request and make this a concern going forward.

Now, of course, we expect a lot of litigation. We expect that the former president's legal team is going to bat - go to bat, trying to make sure that they find out every single thing that the Justice Department tries to restrict the president with. Jake?

TAPPER: All right. Obviously, a fan of CNN behind Evan Perez.

Elie Honig, your response and do you think that Trump will abide by this instruction to not talk to any witnesses in the case against him, given the fact that seemingly all of them are people that he's close with?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I'm definitely not going to vouch for Donald Trump here.

TAPPER: Right.

HONIG: It is quite common for DOJ prosecutors to request this kind of condition, no contact between the charged defendant and witnesses in the case. Largely, that's of course to protect your witnesses from being intimidated or influenced. It also has the collateral effect of actually being good for the defendant.

Because if you're not talking to witnesses, you don't run the risk of perhaps inadvertently or intentionally tampering with them and being - finding yourself on the other end of an obstruction charge.

What's so unusual here, though, is even if Donald Trump doesn't pick up his cell phone or bring someone in for a face to face meeting, everyone knows everything he says. I mean, how are you going to keep witnesses from seeing what he Truth Socials out virtually, everything he posts on there is seen by millions of people and covered rightly by the media.

So this is really an unusual scenario. I think what I'm doing if I'm a prosecutor is I have someone watching everything he says publicly, and if he crosses the line, if the things he's saying, start to pose a real risk of influencing witnesses, then I think I'd go back to the Judge and ask for tighter restriction.


TAPPER: Andy McCabe, what about the things he's saying about the Special Counsel that are certainly in this day and age potential incitement to violence, if you're calling Jack Smith a terrorist, if you're saying all - I mean, the language he uses is dehumanizing language that permits - creates a permission structure for people to loathe with his enemies and we know that they go farther than just loathing them.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's right. It's not a hypothesis. We have seen this before.


MCCABE: We've seen his supporters, some of them, extreme supporters resort to acts of violence when they perceive that he's been treated poorly. What he says - what he's been saying today and in the recent past about Jack Smith is wildly irresponsible.

It is a language that I believe is specifically geared to push people in that direction towards acting out in support of the former president in potentially violent ways, but it's not illegal. It's not - and as long as it's short of a plan for violence, it is first amendment protected activity. Of course, Jack Smith is not a witness, so he wouldn't fall into that caution by the judge.

TAPPER: Jamie Gangel, what are you hearing from your sources on Capitol Hill? Most Republicans seem to be relatively silent. We saw some comments from Don Bacon, who was a Republican from Nebraska, he represents a swing district, Omaha. And he says, he told Manu Raju, "I just think it's obvious what the president did was wrong and we got to be honest, I just think the emperor has no clothes and we need to have a - we need to have Republicans stand up and say that because come around after the primary and I guarantee the other party is going to be saying this."

We should point out - I believe, Don Bacon is a veteran and so the veterans amongst the crowd of Capitol Hill officials seem to have a better grasp on how serious the national security document issue is. We heard Nikki Haley after her initial defense of Trump thinking about - and second blush. The fact that the documents could put her husband who was about to deploy with the South Carolina National Guard to Africa could put his life at risk and that is something that we hear from veterans all the time.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: No question today is a day of reckoning for Donald Trump, but it is a day of reckoning for the Republican Party. And for the most part, I think we see Republicans standing by him or hiding and not answering questions.

We are seeing some people put their toe in the water unless, to John's point, they're fundraising off of it. But it - he still has 40 percent of the base. That's enough to be the nominee of the party. That's potentially a road to the White House and they are not abandoning him.

I mean, Mike Pompeo use the word inconsistent. That is not exactly a full-throated condemnation.

PHILLIP: Yes. It's definitely not but I do think that as we've - Dana and I have been discussing, something is - has happened over the last two days or so. It may have been kicked off by Trump's own attorney general Bill Barr ...


PHILLIP: ... really giving Republicans to quote you, Jake, a permission structure to say this is not okay. And at the very minimum, many of them are willing now to criticize the conduct. But now it's a question of what's the next step from a political perspective.

And you're still seeing Nikki Haley, who was in one place last week in a statement to CNN, more or less attacking DOJ, and then later on criticizing Trump for his conduct, also saying today that she would pardon Trump, if he were convicted and she were President of the United States.

Politically, many Republicans, even when they are willing to criticize this conduct are not willing to say it is time to sever the cord between the Republican Party and this person who is now facing two indictments. And I'm not really seeing any evidence that that's really going to happen, especially because this is - this case is going to take a while to unfold.

We might be just kind of sitting in silence with not a whole lot happening in public for many, many months. And the entire - much of the Republican primary is going to be carried out in that time. There's not going to be a ruling that's going to get Republicans out of this predicament.

TAPPER: At the top of right of your screen is the Miami courthouse. We are expecting that Donald Trump might come out that door and that is why we are showing it to you and - but we do not know for certain. Obviously, security is very, very strong and law enforcement is being very, very cautious.