Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Trump Arrives In DC For Arrest & Arraignment; Trump En Route To January 6 Arraignment. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired August 03, 2023 - 15:00   ET


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are not sure whether or not we can expect him to speak now. We were originally told, I would probably do later. But I - he's been very active on social media. He clearly has an attitude about this indictment, saying that, one more indictment and I'd be elected into office, talking about how it's an honor for him to be indicted, because he's doing it for his voters, that they're coming after them, but he's just standing in the way, the kind of thing that he say - that we hear him say on a regular basis.

So it's unclear whether or not we'll hear from him now. But we are, again, expecting him to come down with some of those aides and advisors, with those lawyers and head over to the courthouse. I am told by a number of advisors, they do not believe this is going to be a long.

There he is. There's the former president right there coming out, stepping down. We'll see if he walks over here. We can get any questions with him. Closer. Okay, it doesn't look like he's going to take questions, guys. So we'll wait on the other end there.

We are going to go get in the motorcade, so I'm going to drop off here, so I can check in back with you guys from the courthouse.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Kristen Holmes traveling with Donald Trump, as he made his way from New Jersey to Reagan National Airport in Virginia. And now he's on his way to the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Downtown Washington, D.C.

Carrie Cordero back to you.

The idea of whether or not Donald Trump knew that the falsehoods he was sharing about the election were in fact falsehoods as something that his defense attorneys have suggested will be relevant and something that will be difficult for prosecutors to prove. What do you think?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. Well, absolutely the burden is going to be on the prosecutors to prove it. I think they have demonstrated so far, just in the indictment alone, that they have a lot of information to go on that they think they're going to be able to make that case in court.

But I also think that it's important to point out that the indictment and the charges here are not about what Donald Trump said. They're about what he and the others did. And so I think the indictment is clear that it's not about speech. It's not about, even if he - whether he believed or not, the things he said, what matters in terms of the charge conduct is that then they took actions to try to pressure different instruments of government at the state level, at the federal level, at the Justice Department and the vice president himself. They tried to actually do things to overturn the election.

And so that's why if we want to put this indictment in the context of the overall rule of law and the justice system, trying to hold people accountable for the events of January 6th, then we look to all of the cases and we look to the hundreds of people who have been prosecuted for storming the Capitol and engaging in crimes there. We look to the prosecutions of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys who were involved in coordinating that violence.

And now we have this other piece, which was the conspiracy to try to actually use instruments of government to overturn the rightful outcome.

TAPPER: If you're just tuning in, you're seeing Donald Trump, the former president, his motorcade leaving Reagan National Airport on his way to the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington, D.C., where he will be arrested and arraigned.

One other note that I want to bring up, George Conway, is we got some copies of talking points that the Trump folks are distributing to supporters on Capitol Hill. And one of them says that Donald Trump was merely following advice of counsel in terms of what he thought he was allowed to do.

We know, of course, that that's not the White House counsel, which was opposed to what he was doing or the deputy White House counsel. It's not the attorney general, Bill Barr, or his replacement, the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen. It is a group of lawyers that Vice President Pence yesterday referred to as crackpot lawyers.

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: And that's the answer. I mean, he - that he was told repeatedly by people in the Justice Department, by White House counsel, by campaign counsel that he had lost the election or that the specific claims that he was making were false.

And that's the thing about this - I mean, the whole - the other big talking point, I'm sure, that it was on there, I didn't see the talking points - weaponization. This is weaponization. This is a Democrat - the Democrats are weaponizing the Justice Department.

Well, the fact of the matter is, if you take this indictment, and you go through it paragraph by paragraph, and you look at the facts, and you try to figure out which witnesses - who are the witnesses they're going to use, they're going to have to use to prove these charges, each fact in the indictment, they're all Republicans, Republican appointees, from the vice president of the United States to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to Jason Miller to, I mean, you name it, everybody.

And what you're going to see at this trial is at - in the witness box, is going to be a parade of people who worked for and were beholden to Donald J. Trump.


LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Just think of the danger, by the way, of setting up this adversarial relationship with your attorneys now, right? If you have these attorneys, as you're saying, I was acting under the advice of, well, what is a prosecutor to do? Call those attorneys. Did you tell him this specifically? Because then it makes them have to choose either, I'm going down for this advice, I may have known that it was criminal, I'm being accused as criminal or I'm going to support you and say, yes, it was I, it was my tail that wagged the dog. It's a very contentious moment.

TAPPER: Although. Andrew McCabe, we should note that the so-called crackpot attorneys, again, I'm quoting Vice President Pence, many of them are now co-conspirators named in this indictment, though not yet charged, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and on and on.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's absolutely right. And that collection of six co-conspirators identified only as co-conspirators in the indictment, but whose identities were pretty easy for anyone who reads it to figure out.

TAPPER: Five of the six, we know.

MCCABE: Five of the six. Those folks are all in prime position to be thought of and recruited as cooperators to testify against the former president. On the other hand, they're all in prime position to be included on this indictment in the form of a superseding indictment or a follow-on indictment that addresses essentially the next level down from the president.

So they are in - each of those folks is in a very tough spot to determine whether they are going to ride or die with the president or come on team America and try to provide evidence against him to save their own skin.

TAPPER: And Jamie Gangel, the response on Capitol Hill from Republicans has been either complete silence ...


TAPPER: ... utter silence or what we heard George mention before, this argument about the Justice Department is weaponized and this is all just a political witch hunt.

GANGEL: They are still on Team Trump. That's where they think their voters are, that's where they think the power is to get reelected. That's where they think the money is. I do think, as we're watching this today, Katelyn (ph) said earlier about how it's become routine. Donald Trump has made being indicted normalized. We are now sitting here for the third time watching something that shouldn't be normal happen.

And just really big picture today is about one thing, no one is above the law. Donald Trump is being held accountable, he is being arrested, he is being charged for his attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

TAPPER: Let's check back in with Kristen Holmes, who is one of the only TV reporters in that motorcade that you're seeing right now, which is making its way from --

HOLMES: Hey guys, can you hear me?

TAPPER: Yes, we can hear you, Kristen. Do you hear us? The motorcade making its way from Reagan National Airport to the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in downtown Washington, D.C.

Kristen, I'm just taking a perusal of Mr. Trump's posts on his social media website and he definitely seems to think that this is good for him. One of the things he posted is, in all caps, as is his want, "I need one more indictment to ensure my election."

Does he really feel that this is good for him or is this just bravado?

HOLMES: Well, it's both. So when it comes to politics and especially the short-term politics, he and his team do believe this is good for him. And I want to be very clear that they've used this indictment differently than they've used the Mar-A-Lago indictment. Essentially for the seriousness of it, they actually believe that this is going to help them politically more than the Mar-A-Lago documents did. They believe that they have a big base of voters who do believe that the election was stolen and that they will side with Trump, at least in the court of public opinion, obviously, we're not talking about an actual legal trial here, but when it comes to January 6th.

So that is what I'm seeing and that's part of the bravado that you're hearing there. But, of course, we know for a fact, we've heard Donald Trump say this (inaudible) behind closed doors, he does not like being indicted. He does not like parading around. He does not like being arraigned or arrested and we know that to be a fact.

He has said that to his advisors. He's even said it in one interview, the only time I've actually ever heard him open up like that and be honest with the media, that this is not something that he enjoyed doing. But, again, they do not feel like this is an indictment that's going to hurt them politically.

And as I continue to stress, they have been really pushing the narrative that this is all political. And they feel stronger in that argument, especially lately, given the fact that he is up in the polls, that recent polling has him leading the GOP field and not by a little bit, but by a big margin, so this is just another piece of that.


And I do want to point out one thing here, because I mentioned who was getting off the plane. One person I didn't mention originally was Walt Nauta. He is Trump's co-defendant in the Mar-A-Lago documents case. He was seen getting off the plane with Trump when they landed here in D.C.

TAPPER: Very interesting.

All right, Kristen Holmes traveling inside the Trump motorcade, which is experiencing D.C. traffic. Even former presidents, when they drive, have to experience D.C. traffic.

Dana Bash, Kristen Holmes mentioning there that Donald Trump is doing better in the polls. And I suspect she's referring mainly to the Republican presidential primary polls.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But without question, this is hurting Donald Trump with independent voters who, according to polling, overwhelmingly do not think that the election was stolen and do not think that Donald Trump's behavior leading up to and on January 6th was in any way appropriate.

BASH: Yes, it is. And if we just kind of look back at the midterm elections and how people went and voted, there are obviously a lot of issues. But one of the issues that pulled independent voters in particular away from Republicans were - was the fact that in many of these cases, Donald Trump had endorsed election deniers and they were able to win and then they lost the general election.

It is a very murky picture right now whether or not that will keep going into the 2024 election. I mean, that's just the reality, because there are a lot of factors, including whether or not these independent voters want Joe Biden to have a second term. That is - it's a big open question when you look at the general election.

In the short term, though, talk to Republican consultants, people who are involved in other candidates' campaigns. They are shrugging their shoulders and giving big sighs because he sucks up all the oxygen in a way that should be in any regular campaign, a very negative thing has become a very, in the short term, positive thing for him when it comes to fundraising and when it comes to trying to get the narrative.

And there isn't a lot that his Republican opponents, so far, have been able to do. It's very early, but so far they haven't.

TAPPER: Yes, although only a few of them have been willing to criticize Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn the election to say nothing of the classified documents case. Chris Christie, Will Hurd and Asa Hutchinson are the only three that I've really seen ...

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: ... strongly go after him on any of those issues.

Let me throw it to my colleague and friend, Anderson Cooper in New York. Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Jake, good morning. Security officials in the nation's capitol are on high alert for any threat to the D.C. federal courthouse.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is following this.

Shimon, how are officials preparing for Trump's arrival? What's security like?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this moment, Anderson, I'm getting out of the camera because the shots here are really tight. I'm going to let our photojournalist, Bob Crowley (ph), get in here and show you.

This is the area, Anderson, where we expect the former president to arrive. Come in here on the backside of the courthouse. We're on C Street and Third Street Northwest, just the backside of the courthouse. His motorcade is expected to come up this street and then turn here onto C Street. Then there is a garage that he will quickly turn into and then go in.

And as you can see, there has been an increase in Secret Service personnel here. Other law enforcement officials, the U.S. Marshals, are here all now waiting for the motorcade to arrive at any moment. And what we've seen all around the courthouse are metal barriers. We've seen an increase in law enforcement officials.

And then also, Anderson, I want to show you here as much as possible, where many of the photographers and journalists and media is all gathered just to try and get this shot. What happened was the police here moved in these snow plows as an extra measure of security.

And so they blocked many of our - most of our opportunity to try and see the motorcade. So we're kind of squeezing in these little areas here to try and get a shot. But at any moment now, we do expect the front side of the motorcade to come up this street and then we can hear, I think, some of the motorcade now as it's arriving.

You can see some of the - there's one motorcycle here, Anderson, but we can hear more. And there's the park police now arriving and more vehicles here arriving here as part of the motorcade.

And you see there now, Anderson, the vehicles turning in to the courthouse. That is the motorcade. And that is - once the former president is inside, the U.S. Marshals will take custody and he will be under arrest. And the process begins for him to go inside that courtroom, a courtroom for the third time, be arrested for the third time and face a judge for the third time.


And now you see the additional motorcades, Anderson, here turning in the former president, Donald Trump, now inside this courthouse as additional vehicles now pulling Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Shimon, it's almost become routine. We've seen this scene now play out several times so far this summer. Here with the team in New York as we continue to watch these images, Elie Honig, just - he's in the building. Explain - it's not going to last very long, explain what happens.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, this will be quick. This is, in some sense, this is the most routine of court appearances. Of course, is extraordinary because of who the defendant is. What will happen is Donald Trump will go into this courtroom and he will be processed, first of all, by the U.S. Marshals, by the court staff.

Ordinarily, you would be fingerprinted. You would have your mugshot taken. It appears they're not going to do that here. He'll then appear in front of the magistrate judge, not the judge who ultimately will hear this case, who will preside over the trial, that's District Judge Tanya Chutkan. She will hear the trial, but today is a magistrate judge who tend to handle the more clerical aspects of this type of proceeding. He'll be advised of the charges against him. He'll likely be given a chance to enter a plea, surely he will plead not guilty.

The judge will make sure he has counsel, which we know he has his attorneys with him. And then the judge will set bail, which almost certainly will be what we call release on his own recognizance, meaning there's no bail conditions, they'll just trust him to come back when told to come back.

And look, bigger picture, this to me is the start on the road, the long road to potential meaningful accountability. I mean, this president has been impeached for this. He's been sued for this, been investigated by Representative Kinzinger's committee for this, but there's never been any meaningful consequences until potentially, depending how this comes out, until this moment.

COOPER: Karen, the former president's attorney, his defense lawyer, is arguing that the prosecution's not going to be able to prove that Trump believed he lost. You think that's actually not essential that they prove that?

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't. It's not an element of the crime, right, that they're going to have to ultimately prove, even if he believed that he won the election. There is - first of all, there is no good faith way he'll be able to assert that, given the number of times courts have told him that, other people around him - have told him that, lawyers have told him that.

COOPER: I mean, his attorneys, White House counsel ...

AGNIFILO: Exactly.

COOPER: ... the advisors ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The attorney general.

COOPER: ... the attorney general, just about everybody told him that.

AGNIFILO: Exactly. Everyone told him that, so I don't think there's any good faith way.

COOPER: Or anyone who wasn't from the land of misfit toys told him that.

AGNIFILO: Right. But even if you have a good faith, you believe that something happened, it doesn't give you a right to break the law in furtherance of that belief. It gives you a right to challenge it, to speak about it publicly, to challenge it in court, to even debate about it. But you can't then ask people to violate their oath of office and, for example, pressured Mike Pence to not certify the election or to ask the states to find votes that don't exist to make it up or to ask fake slates of electors to come out and forge documents saying we're the real ones. And in one state they said, I'm sitting in the Capitol as opposed to in the basement of the Republican National Committee.

Those are lies on documents on behalf of Donald Trump. So even if he believed it to be true, it doesn't give you a right to use that belief to commit a crime. So I think this indictment will still stand regardless of whether you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he - I mean, he believes - how many lies does he tell in a day, right?

I think there was a New York Times study that it's at least 21 per day. When they look at the 30 - they analyze 30 - they fact check 30,000 lies during his administration, which is 21 per day. So even - his brain, I think, is different than the rest of our brains. He believes things to be true that aren't. He lies pathologically.

And I think that - so maybe you're not going to be able to prove that his particular brain works that way. It doesn't matter. It's not an element of the crime and there's enough criminal activity that he did - that I think he'll be able to be held accountable.

COOPER: Congressman Kinzinger, do you think we would be here today - the Justice Department would have moved forward this had it not been for the work of your January 6 Committee?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't so. Look, one of the things we noticed is going through this and then we had kind of that first tranche of hearings where everybody's eyes kind of got big, like, oh, they have some information. It was then that you saw the frenzy of the DOJ start moving.

And I'm glad they did. I guess I don't want to sit here and begrudge them. I certainly wish they'd have gone before us because they have tools and I think we're going to see when this court - when this case comes out. They have tools that we didn't have. But I think absolutely, I think it shocked them.

And I'm glad that we were able to do that. I'm glad that we were able to put this roadmap out and have criminal referrals. But now it's time to use the force of law to make people come and testify that didn't testify for us.

And the interesting thing about that, too, we started having hearings and so people were asking DOJ, are you guys investigating this.


And their response was to put it back on us. Well, they won't give us their transcripts. Well, yes, get your own transcripts, go do the interview. And so, yes, I'm proud of the work of the Committee. And I think not just putting out a clear, factual basis for what happened for history, it may actually lead to actually enforcing the law.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm struck by something Karen said, which is Donald Trump does not think like other people. And echoing that, I'm watching this now the third time we've watched the former president be arraigned and arrested for alleged crimes committed. And I'm thinking about his mindset and what must be going through it.

And this brings me back to a day that when he was very ill with COVID and he went to Walter Reed and there were - it was so dire that there was fear he could have a - there could be a fatality there. But after he started to get better a few days later, he was telling staff every network cut in, everyone covered it. We need to take advantage of this and we need to turn the tide in our favor.

I truly believe trying to get in that man's head, who I spent quite a bit of time with, that now that it's the third time, it's almost like you said, a routine. And he's going to think, how can I use this to my advantage. And why that ...

COOPER: Well, certainly for fundraising, it's essential that he uses this for his ...

GRIFFIN: And for winning the GOP primary, but I would remind the folks around him who are starting to get excited and say this is sealing the deal for him, this is so radioactive in a general election. Any person can look at what we saw and the fact that, once again, this is a crime that he was engaged in. And they're going to say this is not a man who should be elected president. But I think that he's truly thinking, how can I use this to my benefit.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: For a normal person, ordinary person, all three of the places that actually places of pride for him are now places he had a walk of shame, New York City. Like he used to run this, oh, I'm the guy in New York City.

He's been perp walked here. Washington, D.C. he's being perp walked, Florida, perp walked. A normal person would say this is a catastrophe for my life, for my legacy. But here's how you know he thinks it's great. He'd have to be here today. He could have zoomed in. I thought he was - maybe take the chance to zoom in and not fly in and have one more American city be a place of shame for him and for his legacy.

No, he thinks this is fantastic so much that he flew his own plane to be here. He's reveling in something that most people would shrink away from.

KINZINGER: But can I ...


KINZINGER: ... just to add to that, I think in his mind, I think Van's absolutely correct, he thinks this is a big deal. He's going to try to take advantage of it. Deep down, though, there has got to be real shame.

I mean, you're a president that people now see as a failure. You lie to people. I mean, the thing that actually starts to worry me is that the lies that are being told, people will ask me, well, why is it that the Republican base believes it? And I'm like, I think a lot of them actually don't believe the lies, but it's all just that tattoo of who I am and what my tribe is.

And Donald Trump, by coming here, is able to basically give the proverbial middle finger to the establishment and people love to see that. But I think deep down inside, there's no way he can be proud of what's happening right now.

COOPER: Donald Trump just arrived at the D.C. federal courthouse to be arrested and arraigned for the third time in just four months. We're standing by for new details from inside the court.

Next, a key former Trump White House insider joins us to discuss the latest criminal charges facing the former president. Stay with us.



TAPPER: At this moment, former president, Donald Trump, is at this federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., and technically he is in custody of law enforcement. Mr. Trump will soon be arraigned on four federal charges stemming from the January 6th 2021 attack and the multiple efforts in 2020 and 2021 to deny Joe Biden's 2020 election victory and deprive millions of Americans of their rights as voters.

Trump landed in the D.C. area a short while ago at Reagan National Airport in Virginia. He's returning to the epicenter of power as well as, in some ways, the scene of the crime. Joining us now to discuss, John Bolton. The former National Security advisor for President Trump.

Ambassador Bolton, thanks for joining us.

So, Mr. Trump is about to be arraigned for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Do you think that his behavior was criminal?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Yes. Look, I think this indictment lays out a pretty strong case. Particularly, the most important part of it, I think, is the description of the effort to turn Mike Pence into an instrument of reversing the result in the Electoral College. I think that's the strongest part of it.

I think it was right to bring the document case. I think it's important to have both of these cases brought to trial before the election, as far in advance of the election as possible. But I want to underline what we're doing. I think it's the right thing to do. But it is a modified form of Russian roulette. If Trump is convicted in one or both of the federal cases, I think that will turn things upside down. I think he could be denied the Republican nomination. He'd certainly lose the election.

But if he is acquitted or a hung jury results, which I think would be understood by most people as being the equivalent of acquittal, I think he would get the Republican nomination, and he could quite possibly win the election on the back of that. TAPPER: But just to be clear, you're not arguing that, therefore, this shouldn't be happening. You're just saying that we just need to - as Americans - be aware of potential political fallout.

BOLTON: No, I think, as I said, it is essential to have brought these cases and it's just as essential, in fact more essential to have them tried before the election, to defeat the delay strategy that Trump's putting out. The public interest here is in having, in each case, 12 jurors give us a decision so the people have adequate information on which to judge Trump.


But the risk is real.