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CNN Live Event/Special
New Charges Filed Against Trump In Classified Documents Case; Third Person, Another Trump Aide, Charged In Documents Case; The Department Of Justice Say Former President Trump Requested His Aides To Delete Surveillance Evidences In Its Server; Trump Lawyers Meet Jack Smith As The Looming Election Interference Charges Grows; Senator Feinstein Confused In A Senate Hearing. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired July 27, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you so much for joining me tonight. CNN PRIMETIME with Abby Phillip starts right now with a lot of news, Abby.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Quite a lot of news, as usual, around here. Thank you, Kaitlan.
And good evening, everyone. I am Abby Philip. Welcome to a special edition of CNN PRIMETIME.
A blockbuster new turn of events tonight in the historic legal peril facing former President Donald Trump. The special counsel is now leveling more charges against the former president in the classified documents case.
Now, you'll recall he has already been indicted with one of his other aides. Well, now, another aide, a third, is now a defendant being charged as well.
And here is what they are accused of doing according to the superseding indictment. Trump ordered his aides delete Mar-a-Lago's surveillance server to evade investigators and to prevent evidence from going to the grand jury.
Now, keep in mind, Trump's aides are accused of moving boxes of classified materials all over the property to hide them from investigators and even from his own lawyers. So, that is the new obstruction part of this indictment.
But in addition to that, Jack Smith's team now confirms that Trump indeed possessed a top-secret plan to attack Iran and he did show it to people who did not have the security clearance necessary to see it. And by alleging this, prosecutors are calling one of Trump's defenses a lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: There was no document. That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things. And it may have been held up or may not but that was not a document. I didn't have a document per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: So, knowing what we know from this indictment, remember Trump's own words here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In my administration, I am going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And if all of that isn't enough for one day, Trump's lawyers also met with the special counsel today in a completely separate case, the one that is focused on his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. It appears an indictment there is likely as well and the lawyers made a last ditch plea to Jack Smith to avoid it. We'll get to that in just a moment.
But let's start first with the new charges in the Mar-a-Lago case. With us now is Paula Reid. Paula, this is really extraordinary in some ways. We've been talking to lawyers for weeks. Many of them did not necessarily expect more coming for Trump in particular, but not only is it more, but so much more detail here as well.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, not only new charges but also a new co-defendant. Here, they're adding a one count of willful retention of national defense information and then two additional counts of obstruction, because these prosecutors allege the former president and two of his employees tried to destroy surveillance footage.
Now, that surveillance footage has really been at the center of this investigation not only as evidence for prosecutors as they try to piece together where these boxes containing classified information moved throughout the property but we also know they've been pressing witnesses about whether anyone tried to prevent them from obtaining the surveillance footage or if anyone tried to destroy it.
But it was interesting, when we got the first indictment, that didn't show up. And we know they have continued this investigation down in Florida. So, now, we're seeing it all come together in this superseding indictment.
Also notable that, according to prosecutors, the two Trump employees allegedly wanted to destroy the surveillance because, quote, the boss wanted it deleted. The boss, of course, being former President Trump. One of the big outstanding questions in the investigation is the extent to which the former president was directing any of this alleged conduct.
But, of course, also getting a new co-defendant in addition to Trump's longtime aide, Walt Nauta, who was charged in the first indictment, they are now also charging another Mar-a-Lago employee, Carlos De Oliveira. He is a maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago and he has been seen on surveillance footage moving boxes with Walt Nauta. And it has been a question, Abby about whether he, too, would be charged. Today we got our answer.
Paula, tell us what we know about this third co-defendant now, Carlos De Oliveira. He is the head of maintenance at Mar-a-Lago. How did he get wrapped up in all of this?
REID: The boss wanted something done, right? What is so unique about this investigation is, through our reporting, we've seen pretty much every single employee at Mar-a-Lago has had to talk with special counsel investigators at one point, but there were a few who really stood out as possibly having criminal exposure, Walt Nauta being the first. We know he was pressed to flip and did not do that. And then here, we have Carlos.
As you noted his job is in maintenance but he came to our attention because we learned that he was also seen on the surveillance footage moving boxes with Walt Nauta.
Now, the surveillance footage was handed over to investigators and one particular piece of surveillance footage that stood out was when he helped Nauta move boxes out of a storage closet right before one of Trump's lawyers was searching the same closet for classified material.
Now, we know that Carlos has spoken with investigators. We also know his phone was seized. Now, he has a lawyer, like many of the witnesses in this case, who is paid by a Trump affiliated political action committee. His lawyer had no comment on the charges but they are expected in court for an initial appearance next week.
PHILLIP: We'll talk a little bit about that lawyer and what the indictment says about that coming up with our panel. Paula Reid, thank you very much.
And joining me now are former Federal Prosecutors Gene Rossi and Joseph Moreno, as well as CNN Opinion Contributor and former House Republican Investigative Committee Counsel Sophia Nelson and a former Trump White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews. So, Joseph, so much more detail in this indictment, but, really, at the end of the day this is about Trump. This is about Trump directing what really is a conspiracy that goes beyond just his closest, trusted aide, but now has entangled a third co-defendant in an effort to obscure and to hide and even get his lawyers to lie to the federal government.
JOSEPH MORENO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It is a shame about the junior employees in Trump's employ, because it seems like he has this way of entangling people in his problems and then casting them aside. And he'll pay for their lawyers as long as they keep their mouths shut, but, basically, that is what the deal.
PHILLIP: I'm just going to jump in here, because as you bring up the lawyers and Trump paying for it, there is part of the indictment here that I think is really telling about how Trump approaches this. It says here that just over two weeks after the FBI discovered classified documents in the storage room in Trump's office, Nauta called Trump employee number 5 and said the words to the effect of someone just wants to make sure Carlos is good. Carlos is the third defendant now.
And in response, that employee told Nauta that Carlos De Oliveira was loyal and that he would not do anything to affect his relationship with Trump. That same day, Trump called De Oliveira and told him that Trump would get him an attorney.
MORENO: Yes. Conflict of interest there perhaps, right? I mean, look, Trump is free to pay for his employees' attorneys but he is not free to tell them what to say, to expect silence or to put any kind of pressure on them in leveraging the paying of that attorney. So, I think a lot of these folks might say at some point, look, Trump is not looking out for me, maybe I should get my own lawyer.
PHILLIP: What do you make of the fact that there is so much more evidence here of Trump being, as he's described in this indictment --
GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Being Trump.
PHILLIP: -- the boss. Yes. I mean, it is almost this elaborate scene out of some kind of mob movie.
ROSSI: When I was a federal prosecutor with my good friend here, one of the most wonderful charges was obstruction of justice. And the reason it is a great charge is you can be innocent and still commit obstruction of justice. But here, we have great underlying evidence, allegations of violations of the Espionage Act, but the obstruction of justice shows the consciousness of guilt.
And I have to say paragraphs 75 to 91 of this indictment, if they are true, are absolutely devastating and help a prosecutor.
PHILLIP: Tell us what those paragraphs describe.
ROSSI: Well, 75 to 91 talk about the DOJ attorney called one of the attorneys for Donald Trump on June 23rd, said you're going to get a grand jury subpoena for security footage. The next day, Walter Nauta changes his travel plans, instead of going to Illinois, he goes to Mar-a-Lago and the rest is history.
PHILLIP: There is a part in that section there where he is texting people telling them he is going down to Florida and he is using the shushing emoji to describe the secrecy with which he is doing all of this, which as we often in the legal world talk about people's state of mind.
Clearly, the folks around Trump knew that they were doing something surreptitiously that was probably wrong and maybe even illegal for Trump.
SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: No, I completely agree. I think that this just goes to show that Trump knew he was in the wrong for keeping these documents when he had no right to hold on to them. And he then put his -- unfortunately, his staffers are now taking the fall for this as well because he required them to engage in potentially illegal activity. Obviously, you know, this is just an indictment right now and he needs to be proven guilty. But the facts in the indictment are pretty damning
SOPHIA NELSON, CNN OPINION CONTRIBUTOR: I think what Jack Smith is doing is brilliant. He is taking it step by step, right, Gene, and he's giving us a little at a time so that we digest that this thing is bigger and more awful than we probably know by the time we get to the January 6th indictments, and I don't want to jump ahead. But I think that what you say is right, Gene. Those paragraphs are devastating and it really goes to who Donald Trump is.
I grew up in South Jersey. So, this guy has been a staple in my life forever. I mean, I'm old enough to remember seeing him on The Inquirer magazines and everything else but this is who he has been forever. He is, for lack of a better way to put it, a mob boss. He tells you what to do. The minions do it. They don't stop to think about their liability. Only this time, they are playing with as you said espionage and federal crimes and this is really serious stuff here, very.
MORENO: He has been broadcasting for a long time, right, this argument that I don't believe I did anything wrong, right? I can declassify these documents. They're not kept any old place. The Secret Service is there guarding them. Well, if he really didn't think he did anything wrong, what we've now learned today decimates that. Because why are you deleting surveillance footage, why are you having boxes moved? Why are you hoping your lawyers will kind of lie for you, wink, wink?
So, I don't see now how he really maintains that argument, which already had its problems. Now, I feel like it's just toast.
NELSON: It's worked for him his whole life, though, is my point. There is a pattern and practice with Donald Trump that starts way before the White House about how he runs his business, how he cuts his deals, how he gets out of things, how he explains things, how he doesn't pay people. This is not new, folks. America, you got to wake up.
PHILLIP: So, Sarah, in terms of Trump's state of mind here, I mean, I think the superseding indictment adds more layers to just the curiosity about what would have prompted him to take all these extra steps. As you pointed out, right after he first learned there would be a subpoena for the documents, he basically has Walt Nauta move the boxes and then has them try to delete the surveillance footage. Do you think that there is more here about why Trump really didn't want the feds to get these documents back?
MATTHEW: I just simply think that he thought he had a right to hold on to them. The fact is these are America's top secrets and he was storing them in a bathroom in Mar-a-Lago. They had no place to be there with him.
It is one thing if you accidentally, mistakenly take classified documents in a move, and, obviously, we've seen from Trump and his team, they've tried to conflate the issue with, you know, former Vice President Pence accidentally taking classified material, President Biden taking classified material. The thing is they returned that material once it was discovered. With Trump, he thought he had a right to hold on to this, wanted to avoid giving it back, and then directed his employees to hide it from the federal government. And I think that that just goes to show he knew he was doing something wrong and he is going to throw out every excuse, you know, out there to try to shift the blame.
PHILLIP: And, Gene, how significant is it, do you think, that we now believe it looks like from the indictment that the DOJ has this document, that he was allegedly waving around at the Bedminster meeting that refers to attack plans against Iran? It did not show up in the first indictment. They referenced it but they never charged him with that document. They have now charged him. How significant is that?
ROSSI: It is very significant because he had an interview, I think, with Sean Hannity or somebody on Fox where he was saying it was a bunch of newspapers, articles, magazines. And now, you have the document, the res gestae, the corpus delecti, and it was the document he was holding up and showing to people. And that, to me, of all the things he has done allegedly, and he is presumed innocent, of all of the things he has done allegedly, is he is showing war plans, nuclear secrets to people who have no business having top-secret clearance or hearing top-secret information.
That, to me, is the worst.
But I got to follow up on something Joe said, and this goes to what Michael Cohen said. Donald Trump has an amazing ability to find people who are vulnerable. Who will do whatever he says. And Michael Cohen said this several years ago. It's a brilliant, evil skill of his. And he picked on Nauta and he picked on this Carlos De Oliveira, I can't pronounce his name, but he found employees who will do anything for him, and that is a crime in itself. PHILLIP: And when you read the -- they put in the superseding indictment the transcript of the interview that the FBI had at Carlos De Oliveira's home, and you read it and you see someone who is leaping, before he is even asked a question, he says, no. He is lying before he is even asked. That was so interesting to me about just the conduct of someone who is embroiled in a very serious case and his willingness to go there for Trump.
MORENO: It's sad. I mean, I don't even know if he understands the magnitude of what he has gotten himself into now. Note that the lawyers didn't fall for this, right? Most of us lawyers are pretty good about to try to cover ourselves and not be coerced by a client to lie in their behalf. They knew better. But it's unfortunate. I see it as a shame that these junior level individuals who are not attorneys, they're not skilled in the law, are willing to do exactly what you said, Abby, because, I mean, they're going to take the fall for this guy and it is kind of a sad situation.
PHILLIP: And Trump -- I mean, it also explains why you have to charge the person who is the ring leader in this --
NELSON: It is also the power imbalance. To your point, Gene, they are enamored they are working for Donald Trump. He's been around, he's celebrity, Apprentice, he's all these things. So, just help me out. I got you. Maybe this will open a door for me. I think that people get caught up in the cult of Donald Trump and I think that is really the danger of him, to your point.
MATTHEWS: And I think what worries me, too, is we saw what happened with Cassidy Hutchinson in the January 6th committee hearings when she had a Trump-appointed lawyer. They were paying for her legal fees at the very beginning. And they were trying to coerce her testimony to be in favor of Trump.
And, obviously, she did the right thing. She fired that lawyer, hired a new one who is actually representing her best interests and she told the truth to the American people about what happened that day. So, I hope that his employees do the same and look out for their best interests, not Trump's.
PHILLIP: Yes. We will see. And perhaps there is still time for a lot of that to unfold.
Everyone, stick around for me. Coming up next one of Trump's Republican 2024 rivals joins me here live. Will Hurd is with us.
Plus, I'll speak live with a former Trump official who said that he witnessed Trump mishandling classified documents while in office.
This is CNN's special live coverage.
PHILLIP: More on the breaking news tonight, Donald Trump facing new charges in the classified documents case, including accusations that he ordered aides to delete the server of Mar-a-Lago's surveillance video.
Now, if that sounds familiar to you , it is because of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Where is the server? How come the FBI never got the server from the DNC? Where is the server? I want to see the server. Let's see what's on the server.
Now, I don't know how the FBI can investigate something if the DNC, the Democrats refuse to give the server.
Where is the server? I want to know where is the server. What is the server saying?
She set up this illegal server knowing full well that her actions put our national security at risk and put the safety and security of your children at risk.
There has never been anything like this where emails and you get a subpoena, you get a subpoena, and after getting the subpoena, you delete 33,000 emails. And then you acid wash them or bleach them.
I'd like to see the server. I think it is very important for this country to see the server.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And joining me now is one of Donald Trump's 2024 Republican rivals, former Texas Congressman Will Hurd.
We played mash-up really to illustrate how much this has been a part of the public life. And now to see in this indictment pretty clear evidence, allegations here that Trump was the one who directed his aides to try to delete surveillance footage, to delete the server so that federal investigators would not see what was on them.
WILL HURD, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Abby, I've never been indicted and I am not a lawyer, but if you are deleting evidence, it is because you know you are committing a crime. And anybody who supports this, anybody who defends this, is complicit in endangering America, endangering men and women who are putting themselves in harm's way every single day and every single night in order for us to enjoy these freedoms.
And let me be clear about this. Donald Trump is not running for president to make America great again. Donald Trump is not running for president to defend our interests overseas. Donald Trump is not even running to represent the people that voted for him in 2016 and in 2020. Donald Trump is running for president in order for him to stay out of jail.
These are serious crimes, these are serious accusations, Donald Trump is a national security risk and he needs to be beaten in a primary so we can be done with him once and for all. And I hope I can be on that debate stage in order to have these conversations but I need everybody's help. I need folks to go to hurdforamerica.com and help me do that.
PHILLIP: So many of your colleagues who are also running in the 2024 race are running against Trump and say they would support him if he were the nominee. Do you think that given the conduct that is in this indictment that he should be in the Oval Office again if he is elected?
HURD: Of course, he shouldn't be in the Oval Office. This is just more example of how he doesn't care about people. Look at these two aides that he has just tossed away and made him do their dirty work.
Then the fact anybody else thinks that this guy is fit for office is disappointing to me.
Now, I do believe the best way to finish this once and for all is to beat him in a primary. But this is a guy that -- like the question that he has not answered, why is he trying to keep all these documents?
PHILLIP: Well, what do you think the answer is?
HURD: Look, I do not know. When you look at the information that he has, this is information from the NRO. This is the folks that handle all of our satellites. This is from the NSA, people that handle our signals intelligence. This is from the CIA, special access programs, which are some of our most classified documents. Why are you keeping these? Why are you lying about these? These are not your documents. These are the documents of America and the American people. And if they got into the wrong hands, that hurts us.
And when you look at the number of events that have been held at Mar- a-Lago, Donald Trump still has not told us what security he put in place in order to protect these documents. It is not the Secret Service's responsibility to protect these documents. It was his. He has not explained to us why he had them. He hasn't explained to us why he was keeping this stuff. This guy is a national security risk.
And you know who is loving all of this, you know who is laughing right now, is our adversaries. The Chinese government, the Russian government are reveling in the fact that the -- one of the leaders of -- you know, the primary candidate in the Republican Party has so much baggage and there's so much issue, and he is more worried about not dying in prison than he is in doing what is right for the country.
PHILLIP: Is that hypocritical for Republicans to chant, lock her up, when it comes to Hillary Clinton, and then also say in this case, when it comes to Trump, that he shouldn't even be charged or scrutinized in any way because he is a candidate for the presidency?
HURD: Of course, it is hypocritical. And anybody who is defending this behavior is complicit in eroding the trust and the faith that we have in the men and women that are trying to protect us.
PHILLIP: You were involved with the Clinton, looking into some of these issues when it comes to Clinton. In your assessment, which is worse? What Trump is alleged to have done here or what you investigated when it came to Clinton?
HURD: The volume of the classified documents, the different locations that they came from, the actual attempts to erase evidence, to get people to lie, to try to force your lawyers to lie, this is a level of criminality that I don't think we've seen before, except maybe Richard Nixon. And this is another reason why Donald Trump should not be president and we need to make sure we are doing everything to prevent him from being the next president of the United States.
PHILLIP: One of the documents that we've been discussing for a little while now is the one that he had in Bedminster. And he was waving it around. It was an Iran attack plan. And we now know that that document was classified as top-secret. He was charged in the superseding indictment for withholding that document. What does it tell you that now we know the classification level of that document, about the seriousness of what was contained in there?
HURD: He is spitting in the face of all the sons and daughters and spouses and brothers and sisters who wear a uniform to protect our nation. He is spitting in the face of all the people that are in dark alleys collecting intelligence in order to keep the homeland safe. He is spitting in the face of all these people that are willing to put themselves in harm's way in order to ensure the United States of America stays the greatest country on the planet.
And why would you wave this around to prove that you are some cool guy or tough guy with someone? How many other people has he done that with that we don't know of? How many other people had access to these documents that we may not know of? We know the Chinese government, the Russian government is interested in understanding these kinds of secrets. We know that they are running ops against people that are close to important former elected officials. And so Donald Trump hasn't explained anything about how he was able to protect this information.
And, to me, as someone who spent most of my adult life protecting this country, being connected with national security, putting myself in harm's way, working with people that are putting themselves in harm's way, this is disgusting that someone who thinks or who was a president of the United States is willing to do this.
PHILLIP: Last thing before you go, the trial for this case is set for early -- in the middle of -- frankly, in the middle of the Republican primary.
Should this case be tried and reach a conclusion before the 2024 election in New York?
HURD: Look at -- I think that's up to our judicial branch on figuring out what is within the realm of doing this. The best thing that could happen is making sure that we beat Donald Trump in these primaries, that people like me get on the debate stage. People can help me do that by going to heardforamerica.com and making sure that he's beaten before this happens. And it's up to the judicial branch to figure out when the actual trial happens.
PHILLIP: Alright, former Congressman Will Hurd, thank you so much for joining us today. I appreciate it.
HURD: Thank you.
PHILLIP: And I want to bring in two more key voices now, CNN senior political commentator Adam Kinzinger, who served on the January 6th committee, and also Miles Taylor, a former Trump DHS official who wrote Anonymous, an op-ed, and is the author of a new book called "Blowback." Adam and Miles, both of you, thank you very much.
Congressman Kinzinger, I want to start with you on this extraordinary superseding indictment that really adds a lot of meat to the bones about Trump's role in leading an effort to obstruct this investigation. What did you make of the details that we learned tonight?
FORMER REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL), CNN SR. POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, here's the interesting thing. And I know this is probably not why it was done this way, but it's almost perfect that, you know, the former president came out and said I was just showing newspapers and clippings. And then it's like a few weeks later, it's like, hey, look, we have proof that that's not the case. And it's like yet another lie that the former president is caught in.
I think what's very clear here is Jack Smith is taking this very seriously. He's going where the path leads. And if I was Donald Trump, and frankly, it's not just, I think Donald Trump is, he's very afraid of what's gonna come out of this and what's gonna come out of the January 6th. And Jack Smith has shown that he's gonna pursue this to the ends of the earth.
PHILLIP: And Miles, you worked in this Trump administration, and you've said that you've seen Trump mishandle classified documents. What did you see?
MILES TAYLOR, FORMER DHS OFFICIAL UNDER TRUMP: Well, Abby, let me say one quick thing first, though, to pick up on where Adam was at on the Iran revelations here. I want to be very, very clear.
When this was happening during the Trump administration, when there were conversations about potential attack plans related to Iran, I was trying to the staff at the Department of Homeland Security, I was read into some of the most sensitive programs in the entire federal government, and even I was not allowed in the room to understand what was happening in those conversations. It was one of the most closely- guarded things that happened during the entirety of the Donald Trump administration.
I remember there were even different names for what those meetings were when they were happening in that building. And for Donald Trump to treat those discussions with the carelessness of a dirty Kleenex is the type of thing that gets people thrown in prison, not just for a few years, but for the rest of their lives.
This is the type of thing that puts soldiers, spies, and civilians in danger. It gets people killed. And this is an absolutely damning superseding indictment. And yes, this is Abby, as you note, not a one- off. This was a pattern of behavior. And I will tell you, we were responsible for advising him on the Homeland Security of the United States.
-- didn't know because we witnessed him.
Nope, do you have me back?
PHILLIP: I think we got you now. You can finish up, Miles.
TAYLOR: There we go. Sorry about that. I was just saying, look, we were his Homeland Security officials charged with helping him protect the United States. And even we didn't know if we could trust the president with classified information because he shared secrets with our rivals. And he showed reckless disregard for the handling of that information in the Oval Office in front of his own staff and in front of outsiders who did not have clearance to see that information.
PHILLIP: And Congressman Kinzinger, even tonight, Republicans, including some of Trump's closest allies on Capitol Hill, are defending him. I mean, that's probably not a surprise to you. But this superseding indictment really shows a willfulness here and also perhaps a disregard as well for people who worked for him. Are you surprised to see this continuing in your party, just an unwillingness to grapple with the real reality of what is being alleged?
KINZINGER: You know, I am surprised. Like, I guess I'm not surprised. There's no surprise in it, but I'm still surprised that people don't have a red line. I always thought like growing up, going to Sunday school, and even when I got into Congress, that like everybody has a red line of dishonesty and honesty they're unwilling to cross.
There's always an art in that, particularly in politics, but there's always one thing. What I have come to learn is people do not fear, they don't fear death in life, particularly in politics. They fear getting kicked out of their tribe. They feel having, they fear more than anything, their base turning against them and having to feel the kind of text that both Miles and I have had to fail for a long time of good friends saying things like, you're a traitor to your country.
They don't want the courage to do that. I saw Elise Stefanik tonight come out in support of Donald Trump. I've seen everybody that continues to do this. I don't understand it. I guess if you've given enough of your soul, so much of your soul, it's like sunken cost. You just have to keep on going. But it's sad to watch. And I am surprised because, again, I thought humanity, and particularly some of my colleagues, had a red line.
PHILLIP: And Miles, as you talk in your new book, your book isn't really about what a next Trump term could look like. And when you see the conduct here in this indictment that's alleged, what does it make you think about how he governs, how he leads the people around him? What's your assessment about what we should take away from that?
TAYLOR: Well, I think that this superseding indictment tonight, Abby, really firmly finishes the story of the fact that Donald Trump operates like a mob boss.
We've seen with this indictment that, you know, he keeps his family close. He demands loyalty. He intimidates the people around him. He uses intermediaries and cutouts to do his dirty work. He has other people bury the bodies for him or, in this case, bury the boxes for him. And they call him the boss.
A man like that -- dangerous in any context, you know, in a cartel criminal ring, but it's especially dangerous if he's got his finger on the nuclear button. And here we've seen it. He is reckless with handling our nation's nuclear secrets.
And in blowback, I talk about the Department of Homeland Security finally gave me the authorization to say publicly that because of Donald Trump, we had to do the first real-life preparations for the possibility of nuclear war against the homeland because we were so worried about his mishandling of the situation with North Korea.
I don't have confidence in the security and stability of our republic if he's returned to the White House, Abby.
PHILLIP: Adam. Can I give you the last word here? Do you have confidence that the Republican Party will be able to address this in the primary, as you heard Will Hurd say that they have to, if they're going to beat Trump?
KINZINGER: No, I mean, certainly not. Look, it's -- I'm optimistic on the Republican Party long, like 30 years from now, 20 years from now, maybe 10. They're going to have to lose more and more races. Unfortunately, I think I hope there is an awakening.
People like Will Hurd, people like Chris Christie saying the truth. That's important out there, but Donald Trump is popular. It's a cult. I mean, it's a cult and he's a cult leader and it's tough to break people from that spell, but we have to keep trying.
PHILLIP: All right. Miles Taylor and Adam Kinzinger. Thank you both very much.
And up next, in other major developments today, Trump's lawyers meeting with the special counsel as he awaits a third indictment involving efforts to overturn the election. Hear what happened in that meeting and what it means for his legal peril. This is CNN's special live coverage.
PHILLIP: The new Trump charges in the documents case is not the only big development tonight. His lawyers today meeting with Jack Smith, hoping to avoid or at least delay another criminal indictment. Now, this one is over Trump's efforts to overturn the election ahead of January 6th. The meeting ended without them getting any new guidance.
And I'm back now with our panel. Gene, it's not entirely surprising that they requested this meeting, that they were granted it at the 11th hour. But is Jack Smith really all that interested in what Trump's lawyers have to say?
GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, when I was at the Department of Justice, when attorneys came in to do a meeting, I was always interested in what they said, only because I was probably going to indict them and they were giving me information on what their defense will be. So Jack Smith was interested in what they had to say. Did it change his mind? Probably not.
PHILLIP: And Sarah, one of the big arguments that we've learned in our reporting that they made was that this would be tumultuous for the country, and of course it would. But I think the whole crux of the January 6th case really comes down to how tumultuous the accusations itself are, that Trump tried to subvert a free and fair election. So how do you think that plays out on balance?
SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: It's really ironic to hear them say that him being indicted over this would be tumultuous when I thought that January 6th was tumultuous. I thought that Trump denying the results of a free and fair election and refusing to this day is something horrible for our nation's democracy.
And what's really sad is that he's convinced his supporters that this is the case. Obviously, not all of his supporters, but a large swath of them believe this, and they believe that this was a fraudulent election, when there's been no evidence of that. He has even tried to pursue this in court and failed time and time again.
And so I think that if they have the evidence to prove that there was criminality for him trying to overturn the election and criminality with January 6 and the planning of that, then he deserves to be held accountable.
PHILLIP: Politically, Sophia, January 6th is something that a lot of Republicans on the Hill would love to forget. And some of them actually are trying to sort of completely rewrite that history. But no matter what, if there are charges that stem from this, this country is going to relive all of the events leading up to it.
[22:45:06] SOPHIA NELSON, FORMER HOUSE REPUBLICAN INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE COUNSEL: Couple things. One, 147 members of Congress, Republicans, voted not to certify that election after -- after the fact, right? And that's a stunning thing right there. Then it goes back to something Sarah said, which is to this day, Donald J. Trump will not acknowledge that he lost the 2020 election.
So from my standpoint, as a former investigative counsel attorney, etc., Jack Smith really has no choice based on the evidence that we've all seen, but to go forward and indict. Because if he doesn't, tumultuous isn't even the right word to what happens to this country in this democratic republic that we have that we all love that we'd like to see stand another 250 years this moment is to be written about a hundred years from now.
It really will be we won't be here your daughter will be here should be old but she'll be here and their generation will look at us and say what were they thinking that they let this go on and they didn't stop this man? It gets back to all the worst analogies of the worst figures in history that, you know, I won't name because I don't want to be incendiary, but at the end of the day, Trump is a pretty dark figure and history is going to bear that out.
PHILLIP: This is certainly history playing itself out. And if you're Jack Smith, he's writing a lot of chapters of this history book. What we saw with the superseding indictment in the Mar-a-Lago case, does that give you a hint as to his tactics as a prosecutor that he might put an indictment on the table in the coming days or weeks? And that might not be the end of the story for Trump or for his associates.
ROSSI: Jack Smith was head of Public Integrity Unit in the Department of Justice. And that was a unit that looked at corruption among public officials. And from what I know, he is methodical. He's incredibly bright. He's tenacious. He's organized. And he's fearless.
And if this indictment is returned either next week or the week after, I don't think it'll be this week. It is going to be no pun intended war and peace. It's going to be a hundred pages long. It's going to be a novel.
I had a trial February and March of this year I represented a young oath keeper who was 21 years old and I can tell you the evidence that was presented at my trial for my client went all the way up to Donald Trump and if it is indicted, the one thing that could save him is that they transfer to case out of the District of Columbia. That's the only way he will avoid a conviction.
PHILLIP: Very interesting. Jane, Sophia, and Sarah, all of you, thank you very much.
And coming up next for us, former congressman and former presidential candidate Tim Ryan joins me live on the new charges against Donald Trump.
Plus, we will talk about another questionable moment today involving an older lawmaker, Senator Dianne Feinstein, confused during a vote. We'll discuss that next.
PHILLIP: More on the breaking news of the charges against Donald Trump. Joining me now to discuss this is former Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan. He's also the founder and chairman of We the People. So, as Congressman Ryan, this is yet another chapter in the saga of indictments against Donald Trump. This time, we're learning a lot more about his role in directing his aides to obstruct, it looks like, the federal investigation. What do you make of what we learned tonight?
FORMER REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, WE THE PEOPLE: Yeah, well, you know, one of the reasons I started we the People was to have a home for the exhausted majority of the people in the country. And I think watching your broadcast tonight, I mean, it is exhausting. I mean, Donald Trump clearly has been doing this for a long time. I don't think anybody's surprised.
And, you know, I mean, he's a gangster. There's no doubt about it. And it's pretty clear. And we have to figure out as a country how to move on past this, you know, the hate, the anger, the division that has come from his movement.
We've got to figure out how to unify. But everything that you reported, like, I'm not surprised about any of it. Like, he would order around the maintenance guy at Mar-a-Lago to move boxes of highly classified information. I mean, it's insanity that we're even dealing with this right now, and there's anybody defending him. And clearly, there still are a lot of people defending him on that side within his movement. But I think the vast majority of the people in the country are ready to move on from this.
PHILLIP: And look, you're from the state of Ohio that is a pretty red state at this point. And you probably have a lot of constituents or former constituents of yours who believe this idea that Trump is being treated unfairly. What do you think Democrats should say to those voters who believe that this is unfair treatment, that Trump is somehow being targeted here?
RYAN: Well, I think if you're in that camp or you think that this is a conspiracy. It's the deep state. It's, you know, unfair to Donald Trump. You know, are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?
Those people, I don't think, are ever going to vote for Joe Biden or any Democrat at any point, and they're probably not going to vote for Will Hurd or Adam Kinzinger or Chris Christie or anybody else. So the key is, how do we get a majority of people in these swing states to say, that is unacceptable? I'm not talking about tax policy. I'm not talking about education policy. I'm talking about democracy. I'm talking about what this one person would do if he got the levers of government again and how dangerous that would be.
And so those people, I think, are not going to be eligible for another option within the political system. So you've got to focus on the reasonable people in the middle. And I think in Ohio and other places, there are a lot of those people.
PHILLIP: There are a lot of people on the right warning about what, indictment or conviction of Trump could do to the country. Do you worry about that at all?
RYAN: Yeah, I mean I think that there'll be some pushback but I will tell you that you know that the people from January 6th and the people involved in the insurrection like they have been prosecuted I think word is out that like you can't do things like that like and so that I think there will be some noise I hope it's not a whole lot.
But, you know, and I hope it stays kind of isolated in certain areas on social media, but I hope that most reasonable people saying he was trying to destroy the tapes at Mar-a-Lago, like, why would you do that if you're innocent? Like, why do you have the maintenance guy moving this stuff around? Why are you ordering people to lie? Like I think some of that stuff's so obvious. And again, like you said, there's going to be people that will defend that till the end.
There'll be some, but I hope not a whole lot. I think it's a call for us, Abby, as a country to wake up, to say, you know, we're coming up on the 250th anniversary of the United States of America. It's a miracle we made it this far. How are we going to make it another 250 years? It's going to be by ushering in an era of responsibility and reform. And maybe this is an opportunity for us to wake up and do that.
PHILLIP: When you ran for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 election, you talked a lot about generational change and we've been talking a lot about the ages of politicians just this week whether it's Biden or Trump or even senators like Mitch McConnell. He had a scary moment yesterday that really called into question his health.
But then today there was yet another questionable moment when 90-year- old Senator Dianne Feinstein had to be prodded to vote, after she look confused in a Senate Appropriations hearing. I want you to watch this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA), CHAIR, U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS: I note the presence of a quorum. We will now vote to report the Defense Appropriations Bill favorably subject to amendment. The clerk will call the roll.
UNKNOWN: Senator Feinstein.
MURRAY: : Say aye.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Pardon me? I would like to support a yes vote on this. It provides $823 billion. That's an increase of $26 billion for the Department of Defense. And it funds priorities submitted.
MURRAY: Just say aye.
MURRAY: Just aye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: In a statement, her spokesperson says, quote, "the senator was preoccupied and didn't realize the debate had just ended and a vote was called. She started to give a statement, was informed it was a vote, and then she cast her vote."
Congressman, the Constitution gives us a minimum age to serve in the House and in the Senate, but do you think there should be a maximum age as well?
RYAN: Well, I'm not sure. I mean, let me just say, like, I think we have to separate, like, our humanity here, where, you know, we see people in that situation that's embarrassing, and they're confused, and we should have sympathy and compassion for those people.
At the same time, we're trying to run the most sophisticated democracy in the world with great challenges. And so the people of California or others should say, like, we need a generational change here. And we saw different instances this week with Mitch McConnell and with Dianne Feinstein.
It's not here to be brash or to be arrogant, but just to say, what are we doing here in the United States? We have got to have capable people running for office and people that understand the complexities of problems. Now, look, I've been in committee hearings with a lot of people. It's a free for all sometimes.
And you don't always know what's going on, what vote, what amendment and that. So we shouldn't be overly judgmental in this particular instance, but just to say, whether it's Senator Feinstein or Mitch McConnell, we need generational change. And there are a lot of young, dynamic people in this country that need to come into those leadership positions.
And so we should all question people who aren't able to lead this country in the fashion that we need it to be led. The competition with China, globalization, climate change, our education system, mental health, veteran suicides. Like, there's so many complicated issues. We can't have people that are confused.
RYAN: We can't have people that are confused. And I -- it's sad to say, um, we should -- we should have some humanity here and some compassion, but at the same time, we need generational change in our government. PHILLIP: All right, Congressman Tim Ryan, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
RYAN: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
PHILLIP: And thank you for joining me tonight on "CNN PRIMETIME". I'm Abby Phillip. CNN TONIGHT with Alisyn Camerota starts right now. Alisyn, hey.