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CNN Live Event/Special

Trump En Route To Washington, D.C., For Arraignment; U.S. Marshals, Secret Service & Other Security Detail At D.C. Courthouse Ahead of Trump's Arrival; Hunter Biden's Ex-Business Partner: Joe Biden Discussed "Nothing" Of Importance At Meetings; Rep. Ken Buck (R- CO) Discusses Trump Arrest, Arraignment For Actions After Election; Trump Lands Ahead Of Federal Arraignment. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 03, 2023 - 14:30   ET




ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Donald Trump is en route to the federal courthouse in Washington where, a short time from now, he is going to be arrested and arraigned on four felony charges involving January 6th.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is outside of the courthouse for us.

And, Shimon, I know that obviously, we are getting closer and closer to the arrival. And this is a -- and so, does that mean that there is a shift in readiness?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there definitely has been a shift here, Erin. In the last hour, we have seen an increase in the presence of the Secret Service officers and personnel. You could see them here. They were not here earlier.

This is the area where we expect Trump to come to, his motorcade to drive in here, and then to be taken through the garage here, into the courthouse. He will be placed under arrest, and then taken to the courtroom.

What law enforcement here has done is that they have put these snowplows all across here to try and just give the extra measure of security. And you can see that there are many photographers and media personnel here, because they want to get a shot of the motorcade arriving, of Trump going inside.

But law enforcement, the police have done a fairly good job here, as you tell, of trying to block any sort of access to the street here.

Also, I can show you, here in the last hour, we have seen more police officer, Metro, Washington Metro P.D. and more officers arriving here on bikes and more law enforcement personnel here as we get ready for that 4:00 hour, we are seeing the increase of the law enforcement.

And we expect, as I said, the motorcade to come this way, enter this street here, and he will go inside -- Erin? BURNETT: All right, Shimon, as we await that arrival, thank you.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thank you, Erin.

We have some new details coming in right now about what Hunter Biden's former business partner told the House Oversight Committee.

Devon Archer testified before the committee for nearly five hours this week. He told lawmakers that Joe Biden joined his son, Hunter, in business meetings by phone or in person some 20 times, but they discussed nothing of importance.

CNN's Kara Scannell is joining with us from New York with more on the newly released testimony.

Kara, what are you learning?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, that's right. One of the big focuses has been on Archer's testimony where he said that, at least 20 times over the decade that he has known Hunter Biden, he recalls Hunter Biden putting his father, then the vice president, on the phone while they were in the presence of foreign business partners.

So we have the actual transcript now of this five-hour, behind-closed- doors hearing. This is exactly what Archer, his business partner, said about that.

He said, "There are touch points and contact points that I can't deny that happened, but nothing of material was discussed."

And he also said he was unaware of any wrongdoing by now-President Joe Biden.


And he was also, during this period, presented with materials, emails that were exchanged, where there was the suggestion or the hint that Hunter Biden was having some influence over the U.S. policy,

And on that, this is what Archer testified to:

"I have no basis to understand what he and his father and his conversations were about policy in Ukraine. But as you can see, that seems pretty familiar that, you know, he can't influence it, but take credit for it."

So Archer testifying that Hunter Biden gave this impression with their business colleagues in Ukraine that he was having some sort of influence, essentially taking credit for things that Joe Biden, as vice president, was independently doing.

But Archer saying that this was essentially just Hunter Biden trying to take credit for it. He said, like in D.C., a lot of operatives in Washington like to sell the idea that they have access even if they don't actually have it -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Interesting.

All right, Kara, thank you very much. Kara Scannell reporting for us.

Former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is slamming Republicans who are rallying around the former president in the wake of his third criminal indictment. We will speak to Congressman Ken Buck about the GOP response. That is next.



BURNETT: For the first time, a former president will go before a criminal court judge for alleged offenses he committed while in office. Donald Trump's arraignment on charges tied to the January 6th insurrect, his efforts to overturn the 2020 election is expected to begin at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Nancy Pelosi spoke about that when she was House speaker, seeing more than 100 House Republicans object to certifying some states' 2020 results, playing into the false claims of election fraud.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): They saw the danger. They made statements about it, that recognized the involvement of President Trump. And then they -- so many of them, the majority of them in the House, voted to reject the peaceful transfer of government.

It is heartbreaking that, of all of the tragedy of that night, and then to see them say, OK, we are not supporting a peaceful transfer of power.


BURNETT: Joining me is Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado. He was among the House members that did not object to certifying the 2020 results.

Congressman, I appreciate your time and thank you for being here with us on this unfortunately historic day as we are in this moment.

Does Trump's latest criminal indictment validate your decision that day in 2021? You did not object, unlike so many of your colleagues did on January 6th?

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Yes. I don't think that this indictment is about whether President Trump, you know, believed or advocated for himself during this election process and the counting process. I believe it is about a crime. And it is a high bar to prove this kind of crime.

BURNETT: So, you have said that you won't vote for a convicted felon, and that is a conviction would be disqualify. Obviously, we will see where this goes on that front. But today, just moments ago, the president is headed to Washington for that arraignment. He's just posted a post, talking about a rigged election, the usual fare.

And then he said, "Unfair venue, unfair judge."

Are you comfortable with him already referring, making commentary about the judge in this case at this time?

BUCK: Well, I think it is consistent with who Donald Trump is. He expresses himself. And if I were his lawyer, I would be advising against it. But I am not his lawyer, and I am sure his lawyers, many of his lawyers have been frustrated over time.

I do think that there is going to be a motion to change venue, and maybe even a motion to strike the judge. We will see how the motions go.

It is up to the judge who Donald Trump is tweeting about to make that decision. That is not a decision that can be appealed before a trial.

So, I think that D.C., you know, having voted against Trump, and maybe Trump got 10 percent or maybe less than 10 percent of the vote in Washington, D.C., he certainly will have an argument to make about changing the venue.

BURNETT: So, Congressman, on this point of the election itself, which is at the heart of this indictment, Trump's efforts to overturn it. As I said, you were one of the House Republicans who said that Joe Biden won. You accepted that. Let me be clear.

The CNN poll that just came out today, Congressman, said that 69 percent of Republicans and those who lean Republican do not think that Joe Biden's victory was legitimate, even now.

And, Congressman, that number is stunning. It is, of course, among Republicans. But it has gone up. It has gone up from 63 percent earlier this year.

Do you find this deeply troubling?

BUCK: Erin, I do find this troubling. And I find a lot of things in this country troubling.

I find the fact that we are arguing about issues and not solving problems very troubling when I was sent to Congress.

And there are a lot of people in this country, on both sides of the political spectrum, who receive only certain information. They don't see the other side's arguments.

They don't -- you know, usually, when I was growing up, long before you were born, we had three different news sources, and they were fairly balanced in giving us both sides of the story. That doesn't happen anymore.


So it does not surprise me that a lot of people are only hearing one side of the story, and making a determination that the election was probably invalid or stolen or whatever the word is.

From my perspective, I have to look at both sides, because I represent both sides of the spectrum in Congress. And so I see a lot more of the arguments that I think many Americans see.

BURNETT: Are you worried though for your party, Congressman. the situation that you are in. Your party, certainly, as of now, and things can change, but let's put it this way. Donald Trump is by far the frontrunner to win the nomination again for the GOP presidential nominee.

Are you worried for your party given that the vast majority of Republicans believe that Biden is illegitimate even now?

BUCK: I worry, number one, for my country. I don't think it's healthy that we have divided into two camps and keep lobbing bombs at each other and not trying to find that middle ground and solve problems. So that's the number-one worry I have.

Yes, I worry for my party. I think that Donald Trump's candidacy right now, a lot of the things that he has said and done have not been exposed, and that is very typical with both parties.

The Republicans are not going to be using the best ammunition on Joe Biden until the October time frame and, the Democrats, the same way with Donald Trump.

I think that Joe Biden is a candidate that can be beaten by strong Republican, and I think that Donald Trump is going to have a lot of -- the Democrats are going to have a lot of ammunition to use against Donald Trump in a general election.

BURNETT: Congress Ken Buck, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, sir.

BUCK: Thank you.


BLITZER: We are watching Trump's plane moving closer and closer to Reagan National Airport here outside of Washington, D.C. He'll get in his motorcade and head over to the courthouse, the federal courthouse in Washington for this truly historic indictment, the arraignment and arrest of Trump.

I want to get some thoughts from our panelists, from our experts who are with me.

And, Norm Eisen, some thoughts as we wait for this truly important moment to unfold?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: History. Every once in a generation, there is a moment that will be remembered as long as the history of the United States of America is talked about.

This trial, starting with the indictment, now today, and the arraignment and the trial to come, I think, pretty quickly, it is going to be one of the defining moments in the history of our country and our democracy.

And will help answer the question, will our democracy survive.

BLITZER: And many people believe, including me, it is hard to believe that we are covering this story of this magnitude.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: A third indictment of a former president and maybe one more to come, I mean, it is stunning. Yet not all that surprising given what the country has been put through for the last years.

I think that, in the end, the public will be, in one way or another, forced to pay attention to what is going on in this, in these courtrooms.

BLITZER: And, Jamil, despite the indictments and the legal troubles that he is going through, he is clearly the major frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT COUNSEL & FORMER ASSOCIATE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That is exactly right. And it is inexplicable, Wolf, the idea that the man, the president of the United States went to the Ellipse and called for an armed mob to march the capitol.

To threaten his own vice president to do something that he said that he would not do, is about to be the candidate for my party, the party of national security, the party of national defense, the party of conservatism is shocking.

And the idea that, if he is the nominee, he might actually have a chance of winning is even more shocking.

BLITZER: And the plane is now landing at Reagan National Airport. And he'll get into a motorcade and heading over to the federal courthouse.


BORGER: Let's just say, first of all, that the Republican Party is going to have to figure out what kind of party it is going to be.

It used to be, back in the day, this was the party of Ronald Reagan. Remember, this was the party of Ronald Reagan. Republicans were proud to be the party of Ronald Reagan. Correct?

JAFFER: You know, it's shocking. His attack on Ron DeSantis was that he is a Reagan Republican.

BORGER: That's right. That's right.

JAFFER: We are the party of Reagan. What are you talking about? BORGER: And now, and now, this is clearly, and unequivocally the party

of Donald Trump. And Republicans have to figure out whether that is something they are willing to embrace for the future or whether, at some point, is going to have to be something they're going to make a break with.


And I don't think that we know the answer to that yet.

BLITZER: All right, we will stay on top of this story. Obviously, history unfolding here in the nation's capital.

I want to thank everyone for joining us.

Stay with us, by the way. I'll be back 6:00 p.m. Eastern, later tonight, with Erin Burnett.

CNN's special coverage of the arrest and the arraignment of Donald Trump starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Right now, a once unimaginable spectacle in the nation's capital. Donald Trump is returning to Washington, D.C., for his third arrest and third arraignment.

Trump just landed at Reagan National Airport. You see the plane right there. It's his Boeing 757.

He is about to answer to a historic indictment that charges him with grave crimes against the very nation that he once swore an oath to protect and defend.

Welcome to CNN's special live coverage. I'm Jake Tapper.

Soon, Donald Trump will travel by motorcade from Reagan National Airport to the criminal federal courthouse in downtown D.C., where he will, again, face arrest and enter a plea before a magistrate judge. Last time, he was in Florida. This time, in D.C.

This time, he's accused of orchestrating a conspiracy to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

Mr. Trump may get a glimpse of the capitol on his way. That's, of course, where prosecutors say he exploited and perhaps even incited the violence and chaos of January 6th in his determined bid to stay in power.

The 45th president will return to the scene of his alleged crimes as the Republican frontrunner in the 2024 race for the White House.

Trump is expected to plead not guilty to all four counts in this indictment.

Those counts include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights, specifically the rights to vote and the rights to have your vote counted.

Our correspondents are covering it all, including Mr. Trump's hearing inside the courthouse and security throughout the city of Washington, D.C.

Plus, CNN will have one of the only TV correspondents traveling in Donald Trump's motorcade.

CNN anchor and chief correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, is outside the courthouse for us, and she will be with us throughout our coverage.

Kaitlan, how is Donald Trump planning on approaching this moment?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: I think as about as expected, Jake. I mean, weirdly, this has become routine for the former president.

This is not anywhere close to being his first arraignment. It is his second on federal charges and, of course, his first on charges about what he allegedly did while he was president for actions that he took then.

That is the significance of this moment of him, as he has just now landed here in Washington at Reagan National Airport. You know, not Joint Base Andrews where, typically, as president, you would fly into. This is where ex-presidents fly into.

And so he has landed there. He will make his way over here to the courthouse with his attorneys in tow. And that is where he will go in to issue that plea of not guilty, Jake.

And I should note that, as he was on the way here, he was already attacking the venue of where this case is taking place and also the judge who is overseeing it, claiming, in all capital letters, that he believes both are unfair.

That is not a surprise, of course, Jake. He's attacked several other judges previously. But it is notable because the venue, that is something that we have heard from his attorneys, that they believe they could try to ask for a different venue here.

Whether or not they're successful in arguing they don't believe he can get a fair jury here remains to be seen.

They also kind of argued that in Miami, saying they didn't believe he could get a fair trial while he was running as the Republican frontrunner for the president of the United States.

I will say, Jake, there was some question about whether or not Trump was going to appear in-person for this arraignment. I'm told he did not want to appear here in person. But it's standard procedure for him to come in with his attorneys to issue that not guilty plea.

Of course, then it's what happens after that, that is the real story, of what this judge decides on the timing and what this trial could look like. TAPPER: Paula Reid is also standing by outside the federal courthouse.

Paula, walk us through what we should expect to happen during Trump's appearance in court today.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, here, the federal courthouse in Washington is very much accustomed to dealing with VIPs, people are security details.

So it will be easy for the former president to roll into the garage underneath the courthouse. And it's possible we may not even see him at all today.

Once he's inside the federal court -- of course, there are no cameras. And once he's in there, he will be processed like any other defendant. He will have his fingerprints taken.


Though we don't expect there will be a mug shot. Federal authorities have concluded they only need mug shots for people who could potentially go on the lam and they need to know what they look like. But he is one of the most recognizable people in the world.

Once the hearing gets under way, it's pretty straightforward, very procedural. He will hear the charges that have been filed against him, and he is expected to have the opportunity to enter a plea.

Down in Florida, for his arraignment in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, he had his attorney enter that plea. So also possible we may not even hear him speak a word.

This entire hearing will be heard before a magistrate judge, not before the judge who is going to handle his case and trial and decide on the timing and the pace and how quickly this will move ahead.

That judge will oversee likely the next hearing. But unless there's an issue with his bond agreement, this should be over pretty quickly. And of course, this is his third arraignment in just four months, Jake, so he knows what to expect.

TAPPER: All right, Paula Reid, thank you so much.

We'll continue to check in with Kaitlan and Paula throughout the day on this historic day. A sad day, really.

Even if one supports the arrest and arraignment of the former president, a sad day, Dana, because of everything that led to it.

We have a former president of the United States who is being arrested because he tried to overturn his election loss.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's being incorporated inextricably -- easy for me to say with a cold -- with what he's trying to do now, which is win the White House back again through that very democratic system that he tried to overturn and undermine.

And it is really remarkable the way he continues to be so brazen about using what we're seeing now, being in a very precarious legal situation, as a political plus for him.

In post after post, that he has put on his social media platform today, talking about how, this isn't just about me, this is about you, using that whole notion of, I'm fighting for you, for the little guy, somehow not just about financials and economics and social issues but about the justice system.


And on that note, Laura Coates, as a former prosecutor, put this in prosecutorial context for us. How strong a case is this, do you think?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's an extremely strong case, because it's not just the eyes of what the prosecutors and the investigators are showing people.

We all remember watching the event that unfolded. And the number-one question people had was, where is the president? What was he doing? What was in doing in those 187 minutes? And what led up to this?

We were all witness, in a way, in the court of public opinion, which will then translate to the courtroom of law, about what actually transpired.

We got a behind-the-scenes glance, of course. We're talking about the congressional January 6th hearings. And so, in many respects, you do have the public very aware of the circumstances, about part of the nuances.

The remaining question is what these prosecutors have to actually prove, that he really did, in fact, know that he lost this election. It wasn't just chest-beating.

But take a step back and realize that this is not only the first time we're seeing an American president arrested under indictment or even going to be arraigned. It's now the third and four months that this is actually happening.

It's so significant, especially because he himself was on Truth Social talking about, he just needs one more, hoping it will be an advantage.

He does not seem to believe the gravitas that you have articulated today about the somber occasion. He sees it as a kind of feather in the cap, which only helps the prosecution to really unpack this case even more.

TAPPER: And if you're just joining us, those are images of Donald Trump's Boeing 757. We are expecting him to get off the plane any moment. The plane flew from Bedminster, New Jersey, where he has one of his golf resorts, to Reagan National Airport outside Washington, D.C., across the river in Virginia. And to Carrie Cordero, the state of mind of Donald Trump is something

that his defense attorneys have brought up in recent days, talking about -- I think one of them said, I'd like to see them prove that Donald Trump knew what he was saying in terms of his election falsehoods, that he knew that they were falsehoods.

Looking through the indictment, which -- hold on one second. I'm sorry.

We have Kristen Holmes, who is with Trump on the tarmac, and let's just check in with her.

Kristen, tell us what's going on there.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake. Yes, about five minutes ago, we saw the former president land here in D.C. We are just waiting for him to exit the plane.

As we have been reporting, he is traveling with some of his closest political aides, Stacey Miller, as well as his two attorneys, Todd Blanche and John Lauro. They will be behind closed doors with him and his two attorneys later today.


We are not sure whether or not we can expect him to speak now.