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Former President Trump Pleads Not Guilty To 37 Charges For Alleged Mishandling Of Classified Documents; Trump Legal Team Searching For Lawyers; Trump And Nauta Ordered Not To Speak With Each Other. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 13, 2023 - 22:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Abby Philip in Washington.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Kaitlan Collins in Miami. This is CNN's continuing coverage of the arrest and arraignment of Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: There is really in a way to overstate the importance of this day in American history. It is the very first time that a former president of the United States has been arrested and arraigned, this time on 37 federal counts of allegedly mishandling classified documents.

COLLINS: But in typical fashion, Donald Trump is downplaying the severity of those charges that Abby mentioned against, and calling them fabricated and quote, an evil and heinous abuse of power.

Returning tonight to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where we should note that there was an audio recording of him talking about classified documents while he was there two years ago. Tonight, he held a campaign fundraiser and addressed his cheering supporters with a litany of lies against his perceived enemies.

We begin the coverage this hour with CNN's Evan Perez, our senior justice correspondent, he's here with me in Miami, and our correspondent Kristen Holmes, who's in Bedminster, covering the former president. Tonight, I want to start with Evan because he was indicted when Trump was arraigned today. What did you see, of course, not just what happened in that courtroom, but also what we saw after, as he was making that stop at a mass restaurant near Miami?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was quite the split screen summation, frankly, of Donald Trump's day, right? Inside of the courtroom, he seemed dejected. He was sitting there while he was waiting for the judge to appear. He was sitting there with his arms folded, twiddling his thumbs a few times, talking to his attorney, not the performer that we are used to seeing. And certainly when he showed up in Little Havana, just west of here, at Versailles Restaurant, that is where you saw the energy of him being around his adoring crowd, the clergy members praying for him and so on.

Look, the former president, I think you can't help but like when you get into a moment like this, you're sitting at that table that says, the defendant, the defense, it is hard for you to just dismiss that. As much as the former president is trying to do that, it is very hard to just dismiss that. It is a serious moment, again, a historic thing you just talked about. But just that idea that this is a very serious moment and a judge is sitting in front of you and telling you how you can and cannot talk to and about what.

COLLINS: Yes. And also the two attorneys in the room today, we don't even know for sure that those will be the same two attorneys who were on this. Obviously, Todd Blanche is expected to.

I was just told by someone in the legal team did review that speech that he gave at Bedminster tonight that was rambling, that was not an accurate pro trial of the charges against him. Do comments like that make it more difficult for him to hire a new attorney?

PEREZ: It does, absolutely. And, look, you've been covering the story for more years than you can remember, right? And it is a feature of the Donald Trump world. He makes things very difficult for himself, he's not disciplined, which is why, certainly, near the end of this hearing, it's usually like a 20-minute perfunctory thing, it went on much longer simply because his legal team was raising objections about the restrictions that a judge was trying to put in, which is standard, by the way. The idea the you can't discuss the case with witnesses, which is pretty much everybody around him.

The question that arises, and the reason why the lawyers, I think, would raise so many concerns, is that they know they have a client who is not disciplined. And so you want to make sure you protect him, and you do have to raise those objections in court because you want to make sure that those restrictions aren't so tight that the former president maybe accidentally breaks those rules.

COLLINS: And, Kristen Holmes, you're in Bedminster, you're in the room as the former president -- or outside, I should note, as the former president just spoke.


What was it like? What are you hearing from those who were there?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. In fact, to a number of supporters that were here and there is no surprise that they were thrilled. We knew that this was exactly how the former president was going to paint this, that it was political, a witch hunt, that this is part of election interference, which he leaned into all of, that saying that Joe Biden was particularly doing this because he was the top rival. Of course, as we know, Donald Trump is not even the Republican nominee and this is not done through Joe Biden.

But I do want to play for you at least one clip here to hear what it is that he is so fixated on, which is pretty evident when you listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Charging a former president of the United States under the Espionage Act of 1917 wasn't meant for this, an act for a crime so heinous that only the death penalty would do and threatening me with 400 years in prison for possessing my own presidential papers, which just about every other president has done. It is one of the most outrages and vicious legal theories ever put forward in an American court of law.


HOLMES: And, obviously, he talked about the Presidential Records Act and said that this is why he would get off. As we have reported, he is on tape saying that he didn't declassify the documents as president, giving an understanding of the Presidential Records Act, and also an understanding that he had not actually declassified those documents while he was in office.

But, Kaitlan, I want to point out one thing here. The mood of his team is very different tonight than it was after that Manhattan arraignment. And I asked them why that was. They seemed a lot lighter. They told me that day that it was one of the most emotional days of their lives. I have heard that from several advisers of various forms about. Tonight, they seemed lighter, seemed easier. They were talking to reporters. They're walking around. And they said that, essentially, now they have the playbook down and that they believe this is going to happen again, that he will be indicted again, and they are going to use the same playbook over and over again.

And one other note, and I'm jamming all of this in, but it's important to note that not only was Walt Nauta on the plane back, but so was Walt Nauta's attorney. And that is something that we just learned. All the attorneys were on the plane after this. So, as we talk about how difficult it would be to not have conversations, keeping in mind that now it seems that there is at least some sort of buffer as the left the courthouse today and came back to New Jersey.

COLLINS: Yes. Of course, there's this communicating through those attorneys, at least Trump and Nauta for now, when it comes to discussing this case. We'll see how that develops. Kristen Holmes in Bedminster, thank you.

I want to bring in one of only nine members of the public who was in the room today, granted access in that courtroom during former President Trump's historic arraignment this afternoon. Joining us now is Raj Abhyanker. Thank you so much, Raj, for being here.

So, when I left here last night at about 11:00, I saw a line of people waiting to get in. You were one of those people. How long did you wait in line for?

RAJ ABHYANKER, ATTENDED TRUMP'S COURT HEARING: Well, I got here at 10:00 P.M., yes, at night, and there was not a long line. I thought there would be a much longer line, but mostly there were journalists, but people that were reserving their seats for journalists. So, I figured this is a good time for me to stand and see if I can wait and try to get in. But I thought I would come back in the morning. ButpPeople around me said, no, you should stay here because you don't know what will happen in the morning.

COLLINS: And so you were just one of nine people who was in the room today. I know that you're here in Southern Florida. You don't live here but you're here accompanying your daughter to something. Why was it important for you to go and wait in line overnight, to be in that room today as former President Trump was arraigned?

ABHYANKER: Today is a historic day. So, I don't think there is a day that is ever going to come in my life like today. It's a day in which the American democracy is tested. It's the first time we have a former American president that's charged with federal crimes. And I think it's also a sad day. So, it's a sad day for our country to be facing this, and it is difficult for me to see, but it's also important for me to have the opportunity to witness. Because given that I'm here, I'm here for basketball camp. My daughter is in a five-day basketball camp in Atlantic University in Palm Beach.

COLLINS: What was it like in the room today? Was Trump already seated when you got in there? I know it was very quiet, but what else was it like?

ABHYANKER: Yes, it was interesting. I mean, yes, he was seated. He has a light blue navy suit, so he stuck out. His hair was blonder than I thought. So, I looked into, that's definitely Trump.

And so he was hunched over a little bit and I think that he seemed like a defendant. He didn't seem as larger than life. I was probably about ten feet away from him, maybe 15. So, it was an interesting experience, to say the least.

COLLINS: You were waiting in line with somebody who -- you're, I should note, a Republican, who's been pretty critical of the former president. I think you would agree with that. Tell me if I'm wrong. But you are waiting in line with somebody that is very vocal supporter of the president simply because they're wearing MAGA gear.


Do you believe both of you could see what happened in that court today and walk out and believing that he was indeed treated fairly by the team that was in there, by the prosecutors, by the judge?

ABHYANKER: I don't think so, because I think there's a big misconception caused by the politics around the situation and how Trump has been treated from the beginning. And many Republicans, many Americans feel that why is Trump getting this punishment versus Biden or Clinton. And I think the answer really lies with the witnesses.

And here in this indictment, which I read prior to coming to this arraignment today, it seems that there are very clear human witnesses as opposed to just factual evidence without witnesses. And that's what makes it distinguished from the other cases. COLLINS: Yes, a lot of them who worked for him. Raj, thank you for joining us here tonight. Hopefully tonight, you have a much better night of sleep. You're not outside of federal courthouse here in Miami and (INAUDIBLE) do that. So, thank you.

ABHYANKER: Thank you so much.

COLLINS: Abby, of course, it was this notable line of people outside who were the courthouse, only nine members of the public, dozens of members of the press were actually in the room for that tonight.

PHILLIP: Yes. And you have got to admire the dedication, in some ways, Kaitlan.

But let's bring it into the room here with our panel. Gloria, a former president indicted, arraigned, facing these charges. But, really today, what we saw, what we all witnessed was the American justice system at work.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And it was really a solemn day, because never in our history has a former president been indicted on federal charges. And I think that it is historic. And I think, in his own way, Donald Trump knows that. And while he was full of bravado this evening in his event and full of bravado when he went to visit the restaurant earlier today, I think in his own way, he knows it and he said earlier this week, I mean, or last week, no one ever wants to get indicted.

And these charges are so serious that we are seeing Republicans, the sort of cement start to crack a little bit among some Republicans who were starting to say, wait a minute, this is serious, this is dangerous. I mean, even Lindsey Graham, a great defender of this president, called it a self-inflicted wound.

PHILLIP: And, Sarah, I covered Trump for years. You worked for him. He carries in his body a lot of times what he is experiencing. What did you pick up today watching him about where he is in his state of mind and watching him on that stage tonight?

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY SECRETARY: I do think that he definitely did seemed more relaxed after the first indictment comparing it to today. I think that we heard earlier, him and his team have gone through this before, not just with the first indictment but with the impeachment proceedings. There is kind of a sense of normalcy and the chaos when it comes to Trump world. They are used to this, they know the drill. And he put on a false sense of bravado today.

I think deep down, he's probably panicking. His Truth Social posts seem to kind of give a little bit more insight into where his head space is. But, obviously, he wants to show his supporters that he's going to fight this and he's going to put out all of this misinformation to try and shift the blame or make excuses, and they seem to be kind of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And think about who his key audiences are right now for that bravado, for the sense of confidence that he's trying to roll out. Obviously, audience number one, his voters, saying that I am innocent, this is a witch hunt, et cetera. But there are two other really important audiences here. The first is his Republican rivals. To basically saying, look, I walked into that court, and I walked into a restaurant in Miami to applause into a crowd that loved me. And then I went up to a fundraiser and I raised millions of dollars in front of all of these people who love me. So, don't you dare try to come at me right now and think I'm weekend because look at this show of strength.

And I think the other audience that is maybe not just the voters that he's trying to talk to is anybody, I think, from the Biden administration sort of sending a signal, hey, I'm not going to make this easy for you. You might say, nobody is above the law, but if you really want to come for me and you want to come at me in the legal system and take me down, I'm not going to go down without a fight.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: And can I add another audience is the jury pool. I mean, this case is venued in Florida, in the Southern District of Florida, which will draw jurors from Miami-Dade County, from Palm Beach County, and, look, he is quite popular politically there, 40-some percent, and he's good to have some support on the jury pool.

PHILLIP: That's exactly right, and we'll talk a little bit more about that.

But, Elie, I was struck today. He kind of threw out some legal arguments. I mean, I don't want to necessarily go too far in that way because I think that sometimes they throw out things that sound like legal arguments but they are really public relations arguments. One had to do with the Espionage Act. The other was when he said, whatever documents the president decides to take with him, he has the right to do so.


It is an absolute right.

HONIG: Okay. They are going to have a legal defense. Let's not be dismissive of this. He is very good lawyers. They certainly will put up a spirited defense. But this (INAUDIBLE), neither of these is it.

PHILLIP: I'm going to take your word for it.

HONIG: Yes. I mean -- but -- let me just -- you cannot take all the documents you want. They keep saying the Presidential Records Act just in a sentence. It says the opposite. It says presidential records belong to the Archives unless the president shows that they are personal and have nothing to do with a national security.

PHILLIP: And when you talk about personal, we are not talking about plans to, let's say, invade Iran. We're talking about notes that he might have taken, diaries and diary entries to himself, maybe.

HONIG: Artifacts, yes, keepsakes.

PHILLIP: Photographs.

HONIG: Not nuclear plants, not vulnerabilities, not military.

PHILLIP: Not Five Eyes sensitive national security documents.

Well, everyone standby for us. The question now is how will this important case play out in federal court? Up next, we've got two Florida attorneys who know the system very, very well and they will bring us up to speed on what we can expect.


COLLINS: Tonight, we're hearing from the former vice president, Mike Pence, about the charges that his former boss is facing. Of course, he has waited on this but it seems to be a shift in what he has said previously now that this indictment has been unsealed, and you can read all 49 pages of it.


Pence telling The Wall Street Journal, quote, having read the indictment, these are very serious allegations, and I can't defend what is alleged. But the president is entitled to his day in court, he is entitled to bring a defense and I want to reserve judgment until he has an opportunity to respond. Those are some of the stronger words yet from Pence as Trump has pleaded not guilty to these 37 criminal charges.

Here to talk about what comes next in this case, Palm Beach State County Attorney Dave Aronberg, and also joining us again is former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Marcos Jimenez, who knows, of course, this room behind us very well. He is a former Republican. He's been critical of Trump, I should note.

But let's talk about what we just heard from Trump. Because, of course, he left here, he went to his club in New Jersey to make remarks. He misrepresented the Espionage Act, and that is part of the charges that's facing him. He was saying essentially it's only for terrorists and spies, but that's obviously misleading.

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY: No, that is the Lindsey Graham School of Law, that's what he said. He said Trump is not a spy, why are you hitting him with the Espionage Act? But the act is much broader than that. It involves the willful retention of documents. It involves the dissemination of documents, and, apparently, trumpeted both. It will get you up to ten years in prison, whether you're a spy or not.

COLLINS: And what do you make of those comments as Trump has been trying to hire several people in the state of Florida, obviously some of those that you know, his Florida attorneys, because he needs local council in this case? Does that help or does that hurt?

MARCOS D. JIMENEZ, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA: Well, I think all of his comments are really not helpful because he is essentially telegraphing to his lawyers that he is an uncontrollable client. And you don't want that if you're a lawyer that's concerned about your reputation.

And lawyers in Florida have to come back to this courthouse and practice again in front of these judges. And if they have a client who wants them to go out and say things publicly that they don't agree with or attack the prosecutors, like he's doing himself, you don't want to be anywhere near that if you're a defense attorney.

And then there are the other issues, which this case would take a lot of work. Whoever takes this case is going to have to basically drop their practice for a significant period of time. And it's not just going to be one lawyer.

So, it's going to be an undertaking because if the president is going to mount a defense, it's going to be a complicated one, dealing with attorney-client privilege issues and national security classified information issues. It's going to be a lot of briefing, a lot of writing, a lot of appeals.

So, I think that a lot of that is contributing to the fact that he is not been able to get much support here locally so far.

COLLINS: Walt Nauta, his co-defendant who was there in the room with him today, wasn't arranged, did not offer a not guilty plea, or any plea, because he didn't have local counsel with him. Can you kind of walk us through why obviously he needed to have that and the significance of the fact that that wasn't something they made sure was in place by today, now he has got to come back in two weeks to be arraigned?

ARONBERG: It's weird, because Trump isn't paying for his lawyers and you have to have local counsel to represent you in the Southern District. But even though he had plenty of notice, he didn't have it. And he's not supposed to talk to Trump and vice versa about the case but they left together. Walt Nauta went back to being Trump's valet after he was his co-defendant. So, the whole thing is very unusual.

And Nauta could be a helpful witness to the government and he has to decide who wants to be. Does he want to be Allen Weisselberg or does he want to be Cassidy Hutchinson? If he's Allen Weisselberg, and he's loyal to Trump, he'll go to jail. If he's Cassidy Hutchinson and hires his own lawyer, then he could become a hero.

COLLINS: Yes. And you're obviously referring to Weisselberg who worked for the Trump Organization, did plead guilty to other crimes, Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified at the January 6th hearings that we saw.

Part of that Walt and what happens with him in this conversation going forward, the judge today said that, essentially, the government has to come up with this witness list of witnesses that Trump cannot speak to about this case except through attorneys. Does the Trump team have any kind of say in that? What does that look like once the special counsel's office does come up with that list?

JIMENEZ: I don't think the Trump Team has a choice. I mean, they have to follow the court's rulings. And witnesses should not be collaborating together, talking to each other. Defendants should be talking to witnesses. Defendants should not be talking to other defendants.

Generally, when there are two defendants that are charged, their lawyers speak to each other but the defendants themselves do not speak to each other. So, here, Judge Goodman, the magistrate judge, who handled today's hearing, was telling the two defendants do not talk to each other. That's completely normal, it's the way that it should be.

COLLINS: But the difficulty here with the other witnesses, not just with the defendants here, is that so many of these witnesses who are, in this case, work for Trump, they are Secret Service protectees, or Secret Service members that protect him at this moment, and that was kind of the struggle, I think, for what Trump's defense was saying today, his attorneys, is that it's almost impossible for him not to speak to any of them, period, because, of course, so many of them surround him and work with him on a daily basis.


ARONBERG: Yes. It's like an honor system. How are you going to prove who he speaks to? And do you think Judge Cannon is going to --

COLLINS: Is that even possible?

ARONBERG: It can be, but you have got to have ironclad proof that he violated the court's order. And then Judge Cannon is going to have to do something she hasn't done so far, and that's go after Trump, give him a negative ruling. So far, she hasn't proven that she can do that.

Now, I am actually of the belief that after she was publicly humiliated for her rulings last year that we may see Cannon 2.0, where she may try to do better because she knows she's under scrutiny by the 11th Circuit and try to play it down the middle, but she can still do things that could help Donald Trump, like jury selection, like delays, like even giving him a lenient sentence if he is found guilty.

COLLINS: Yes, of course, big questions of what that looks like, and also when that trial will ultimately going to happen. Thank you both for joining us here tonight in Miami.

Of course, the question is also not just about the judge. How will an unbiased jury be selected in Southern Florida where the former president lives for most of the year? We are going to talk about that right after this short break.



PHILLIP: Former President Donald Trump is taking the first step today toward a trial on federal charges for allegedly mishandling classified documents. He is set to face a jury of his peers. But the historically high stakes of this case are already raising some real questions about how that jury will actually be selected. Our panel is back here with us to discuss.

Elie, you know, when you're talking about a case involving a former president of the United States and one who sucks up as much oxygen as Trump, it's very hard to find someone who doesn't have an opinion. So, what does the jury questionnaire even look like in this case?

HONIG: I can't even imagine what jury selection is going to look like. Listen, even in a normal case, jury selection is really complicated. It's sort of like the world's most difficult game show because you know a very limited amount of facts about each person, but you have to sort of guess is this person going to be with us.

Now, with Donald Trump, the goal is not to get 12 people who've never heard of him. That's utterly impossible. The goal is to find 12 people who you believe can put aside whatever their personal or political views are and judge the case on the evidence alone. So, jurors will be asked explicitly that. Can you put aside whatever you believe and just base your decision solely on the facts and the evidence in this case? And a lot of questions sort of following up on that.

But ultimately, the lawyers who are going to have a limited number of strikes, the ability to throw a limited number of jurors off, are going to have to use their gut instinct. Do I trust this person or not? Do I like the vibe of this person or not? It's a guessing game.

BORGER: But you're not going to ask who they voted for.

HONIG: I don't think that gets asked.

BORGER: Yes, exactly.

PHILLIP: And to that point, I mean, this is a moment of real shifting politics in the state of Florida, but particularly in South Florida, where this hearing was today, Miami-Dade County. In 2020, Joe Biden won that part of Florida. And then just this past fall, Ron DeSantis beat Charlie Crist by almost exactly the same margin. Things are changing and that might have an impact. First of all, we don't even know if it will be Miami-Dade County that the jury will be picked from.

BORGER: Right.

PHILLIP: It could be from West Palm Beach, but things are changing in that part of the city.

BORGER: Yeah, and if it's Palm Beach County, we were all just looking this up during the break, Biden won in the last election by 13 points. So, that's a whole different venue. Maybe there is a sense, I mean, look, a lot of people thought this was going to be done in the District of Columbia, the jury would have been easy to find, et cetera, et cetera. And there's a reason the Department of Justice, I think, went to Florida, because the documents were in Florida. They didn't want to be challenged on venue.

It may make it more difficult for them to get a jury that they think they're going to like, but I think they figured it's worth the risk because they didn't want to waste time on a challenge to venue.

PHILLIP: And I just -- my producer just sent this to me. Ron DeSantis in 2022 beat the Democrat 51 to 48, so again, even in West Palm Beach shifting politics. And when we saw Trump showing up at that at Versailles Cafe, yeah, I mean, that's all about politics, but also about Cuban voters, but also a signal to a lot of Venezuelan- Americans, people of Venezuelan descent who are now many of them in that part of the state.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: Yes, I think in the earlier block, I'd said he went to a restaurant, but not just any restaurant, went to one that was a real signal of kind of the shifting politics of South Florida. Of course, the Cuban voters in South Florida have always been a more Republican constituency, but folks like Ron DeSantis and before him, Rick Scott, when he was governor, put together a strong Republican support in South Florida by courting the broader Latino community.

And I think that's something that Donald Trump has always said that that's, you know, he wants to he wants to claim that he's going to broaden out the Republican Party support with voters of color. I think the polling would suggest it's a more complicated story than that. But certainly, South Florida is the type of place where Republicans' vision of trying to diversify their party has come to some fruition.

PHILLIP: So, tainting the jury pool, a little bit of politics, maybe both, maybe a little bit of a dig at Ron DeSantis even.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I definitely think so. I think on the substance of this indictment, it's highly detailed and very troubling for Trump, but he's trying to change the narrative like putting all this kind of misinformation out there. He's using the Hillary Clinton comparison, for example, and saying that, well, she had classified information and she wasn't held accountable. And that's what a bunch of his allies are saying.

But I think that in terms of Republicans who are saying that, we need to be holding Donald Trump accountable, because Hillary Clinton's wrongdoings, which were to a much lesser degree than what Donald Trump is being alleged of doing is not a legal defense for him.


And I think that now he's trying to, you know, encourage his own Republican, not just his staunch allies in the party to come out and defend him, but there's pressure on the 2024 candidates like Ron DeSantis to come out and defend him and say there's a weaponization of the DOJ, but that's just not the case here.

You know, if we're using that same logic, why didn't Donald Trump go after Hillary Clinton for her alleged potential mishandling of classified information? I think that for him to claim that, you know, this is Joe Biden doing this and then trying to force Republicans to go out there and defend it is just absurd.

PHILLIP: Do you think, Elie, to that point, I mean, will any of that show up in the courtroom? And how does a judge help the jury understand the difference between those arguments of maybe a double standard and what the law actually requires of them?

HONIG: By keeping those arguments out.


HONIG: I mean, you know, it is not a free-for-all in a court. And what's going to happen is if Donald Trump wants to argue he's being selectively prosecuted based on politics, that is a pre-trial motion. It will be ruled on by the judge before trial. I think the judge will reject it and it will be absolutely out of bounds for a jury.

And one of the big challenges for a judge is how do you keep control of your courtroom? How do you -- because sometimes -- I won't just say defense lawyers because prosecutors sometimes do it too -- blurt out things that they shouldn't blurt out and the judge says, jury disregard that. But once you hear it --

PHILLIP: It's already been said.

HOPNIG: -- you've heard it. Yeah, the other -- there's a last thing I want to say is, political math is very different than jury math. In politics, a 60 to 40 win is a landslide. But if you have 40 percent support, you are absolutely going to have three, four, five pro-you jurors and you need unanimous vote to get that.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I think that's what makes this so, so difficult. Everyone standby for me. The former president now is trying to find actually more lawyers to make those case -- cases. Anyone thinking about the job would have to stick around because we would need -- we were about to speak with two of his former lawyers, next.



COLLINS: Trump's indictment drama is only intensifying tonight as the former president is still searching for a qualified Florida attorney willing to join his defense team. Two of his current attorneys, Todd Blanche and Chris Kise, who represented him at his arraignment this afternoon. For more perspective on this, I want to bring in former Trump White House lawyer Jim Schultz as well as David Schoen, one of the attorneys who I should note represented Trump during his second impeachment trial following the January 6th Capitol riot.

David, let me start with you because we have been reporting that several prominent attorneys here in Florida have been approached about joining Trump's legal team. They were trying to add someone before this arrangement today. But a few of them, several of them turned down that offer. Why do you think they're denying this chance to represent a former president at trial?

DAVID SCHOEN, TRUMP'S DEFENSE LAWYER IN SECOND IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: Sure. Good question. Before I answer it though, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that I think I speak for every Alabamian to say how greatly proud we are of the superstar status you've achieved. Now, I'll answer it. I think that there --

COLLINS: Thank you, David. SCHOEN: -- there are a number -- it's true. There are a number of reasons. First of all, you know, we all have read the same reports. There are a number of reasons that lawyers don't get involved in a case like this. First of all, there's a certain predisposition among criminal defense lawyers not to take on certain clients of a political ilk. I'm very sorry to see that, but it's a factor. I've encountered it during the course of these proceedings.

You know -- anyway, that's a part of it. There's also, you know, they've read the media reports about how difficult things can be. It seems to some of them like a difficult case. There are personalities involved. I think it's a mistake for the team to have tried to find the sort of be all and end all for purpose of the arraignment. The arraignment is sort of a pro forma step in the case. They don't need that.

I personally would put together the best team of lawyers possible and then find a Florida lawyer who is familiar with the demographics, who's going to help with jury selection, who's respected by the court if possible, and go from there. But I'd first want my best team of lawyers. They need a local counsel as a matter of law there and they had that with the person of the stature of former Solicitor General in Mr. Kise.

COLLINS: But Jim, I want your perspective in a moment. But David, first, isn't it something that they need to move quickly on, though because, I mean, of course, we didn't get an answer today of when the next court appearance is going to be. But obviously, since two of Trump's other attorneys who were handling this case specifically have departed the team, don't they need to move quickly to add someone to the team, David?

SCHOEN: Yeah, I'm not sure that those two were going to be part of the trial team. They worked very, very hard on the case up to this point. I think that they need, for logistics, to have a Florida lawyer. They have a unique system in the Southern District of Florida, unique around the country, in that the pro hac vice lawyer, the lawyer from out of state who's admitted for the purposes of that case, can't file anything. Only the local lawyer can, and the local lawyer has to be there. They have that now.

I think the goal now should be to put together a team of real seasoned criminal defense lawyers, first of all, and then work on that. I don't think it's an emergency to find the Florida lawyer right now.

COLLINS: Yeah, but of course the benefit of that would be that they could potentially know the judge. They would obviously know the area. Jim, when you look at this, obviously you worked in the Trump White House. What is your sense of why it's been a struggle? I mean, we've seen this dance before when it came to impeachments that Trump had where he did struggle to find a legal team.

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Look, I agree with David in that he has to really work to get the top -- the best defense lawyer, the best trial lawyers, and put together the best trial team he can. As it relates to getting lawyers, I mean, look, there's no secret that, you know, we saw what happened post-January 6th with some of the arguments that were being made in court.


And what frequently happens, as we've seen, is that things are said in the political arena, and then you get into court and you can't make those arguments in court because they're not valid legal arguments, the facts aren't correct. So that's a real challenge for a lawyer when you have a client out there that's running for office and saying one thing in the public domain and you can't make those arguments in court. And we saw what happens when you go before the court and make those representations. Those lawyers end up in a little bit of trouble.

COLLINS: But is that also complicated, Jim, by the fact that, I mean, I don't think anyone would disagree that he should be able to defend himself. I think they would say that for, obviously, for anyone. But he's -- what he's saying tonight in Bedminster talking about the Espionage Act is a misrepresentation of what is actually covered by that and why he is charged for that. Doesn't that make their job difficult?

SCHULTZ: Well, right, because they'll have to stand up and make arguments before a judge that are credible arguments before a judge. And if that is the opposite of what he's saying publicly, it just makes their job that much more difficult, right?

COLLINS: Yeah. David, when you read through this indictment, do you believe a lot of this is self-inflicted?

SCHOEN: Listen, the allegations in the indictment are simply allegations. They're very -- it's a speaking indictment, goes into great detail. We don't know what's omitted from it. We don't know context for it and all of that. I don't like to say self-inflicted. I believe that he believed he was doing absolutely nothing against the law, and therefore he was entitled to do it.

I have to say this back on the previous subject. You know, we have this impression that President Trump is a difficult person, we see in the media and all that. My experience with him is he has been gracious on every single occasion I've ever spoken to him. Flattering, gracious, et cetera. And I don't come from this background.

As I've said before, I represented a socialist candidate for president in 2020, and I represented the Democratic Party all of last year. So, I don't come to that conclusion easily, but I do think there's a misimpression out there in public of how he is sort of behind the scenes.

COLLINS: But David, it's not just about how he acts. I understand that's your experience with him and whatnot. But when you read through this indictment, I mean, he is accused of misleading one of his attorneys, Evan Corcoran, by having his co-defendant in this case move boxes up to his residence and then only move some of the boxes back down. I mean, he went to great lengths to mislead his own attorney who then was turning over a certification to the FBI about turning over documents. SCHOEN: Yeah. I think, you know, one of the issues in this case is of

course the Evan Corcoran notes and so on. I think there will be a motion to strike those, because I think that Judge Howell turned them over in wholesale fashion without giving a chance for redaction by the lawyers and so on.

But I think if they come in, you're going to open up Evan Corcoran's testimony in this case, not having to worry about other privileged material. I think he's going to tell a very different story from the impression created about this idea that President Trump intentionally misled him. I feel very strongly that Evan Corcoran's testimony is going to be supportive of President Trump.

COLLINS: It's not just Evan Corcoran's notes. There is surveillance footage and phone records of Trump's conversations with Walt Nauta before Evan Corcoran went in that room and search, but we'll have to leave it there. Jim Schultz, David Schoen, thank you both for your time tonight. David, thank you for your Alabama shout out in real time.

SCHOEN: Absolutely. Thank you.

COLLINS: A big question tonight, could Trump's aide, who is also being charged, potentially flip on him? That is a question. President Nixon's former White House counsel will tell us what he thinks. John Dean is here next.



PHILLIP: Former President Donald Trump had some company today for his arrest. He was with his co-defendant and personal aide, Walt Nauta, who was also arrested. And unlike Trump, was fingerprinted and photographed and processed. Nauta faces six counts, including several obstruction and concealment-related charges. The judge ruling today that Trump and Nauta cannot communicate about this case. So, let's get straight to CNN contributor and former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean.

So, John, you heard that ruling from the judge. How likely is it do you think that that will even work? That they would be able to not talk about this case and that would be even enforceable?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, we don't know exactly what that relationship is today. It appears that Mr. Nauta is still the valet and helping Trump out and dealing with him on a regular basis. So, they'll have to discipline themselves if indeed they're going to honor the rule. And the thing is, no one's going to police it. We'll only know if they do something blatant and conspicuous.

PHILLIP: And to your point, I mean, look here, you can see them together at that Cuban restaurant after their joint court appearance together. Do you think that at this point, Trump believes it is in his best interest to keep Nauta very close to him so that he does not flip in this case?

DEAN: I think that's very true. No question about the fact that he's better inside the tent than outside of the tent. You know, it reminds me of Watergate. There was one of the co-conspirators that was named against his top aides, and this aide or this person was a lawyer who just -- was brushed by the case, but he's kept a very low profile.

And as a result, he sat in the corner of the courtroom and the jury found him innocent at the end of the day. So, I think Mr. Nauta could learn a lesson from Ken Parkinson's experience, and be as low profile and inconspicuous and minor a character as possible. And he might, indeed, escape the wrath of the court.


PHILLIP: Would you advise him to get his own truly independent counsel right now? Our understanding is that his attorneys are paid for by a pro-Trump super PAC organization.

DEAN: He would be better off with a public defender at this point than having to have Trump controlled, ultimately, lawyer, somebody who is paying for his representation. And really is, that's who pays the Piper, generally tells the Piper what to play. So, I think that would be the smart move, yes.

PHILLIP: And we've seen that play out with Cassidy Hutchinson in those January 6th hearings as well. John Dean, thank you very much for joining us on that.

DEAN: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And don't go anywhere. More of our special coverage on the arrest and arraignment of Donald Trump straight ahead.