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CNN Live Event/Special

Trump At DC Court For Arrest And Arraignment; Trump In Federal Custody, To Be Arraigned Soon; Special Counsel Jack Smith Inside DC Courtroom. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 03, 2023 - 15:30   ET



JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Some jurors give us a decision so the people have adequate information on which to judge from. But the risk is real. And I hear the exuberance. I've heard it the last 24 hours in everybody. You know look, the impeachment efforts against Trump failed twice to convict him. And what was the consequence of the failure? Emboldening -- enfoldment and empowering Trump. Acquittals here would be even more devastating.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, THE LEAD: One of the important questions in the case going forward might be whether prosecutors will be able to prove that Donald Trump acted corruptly. In other words, whether or not he knew, deep down, the fact that he lost the election. You worked closely with him. Do you think Donald Trump knew that he lost the election?

BOLTON: There's no doubt in my mind that he knew he lost the election. But that's not really an issue that anybody needs to worry about. Because the question is, can his --his lawyers don't have to prove anything. They simply have to induce reasonable doubt in the minds of one or more jurors to get a hung jury. And if people think that he's being railroaded, if they don't believe the prosecution case or they believe whatever case Trump puts on, and this results in a hung jury, in either of the two federal cases, I think we're in for real trouble. That's -- I just think people need to understand that.

Don't get too exuberant because of the indictment. As people got exuberant over the impeachment, tell me what the result of the trial is, and then I'll tell you how to feel.

TAPPER: There are a lot of Republicans in Congress railing about two standards of justice, they say. When you look at the conduct that Donald Trump has been accused of, is there any part of you that thinks that it's true, the Justice Department is being weaponized against Donald Trump for political reasons?

BOLTON: You know, I've been an opponent of the special counsel concept as long as I can remember, and I'm still against it. But in this case, nobody can say the Department of Justice is weaponized. I think the special counsel has proceeded independently. I happen to think that's not a good thing constitutionally, but it's simply false to say the Department of Justice has been weaponized. It is possible, and I think seriously open to question, whether Hunter

Biden has been treated in a similar way, but as my mother always used to say, two wrongs don't make a right. You don't make up for Hunter Biden getting a sweet deal if that's the fact by letting Donald Trump skate free. You prosecute where the law has been violated.

TAPPER: Yes, and we should note that, of course, the judge has sent back that plea deal, which seems to have exploded for Hunter Biden.

Mr. Trump is speaking out already this morning.

He wrote, quote, I'm going to Washington, D.C., to be arrested for having challenged a corrupt, rigged, and stolen election. It is a great honor because I'm being arrested for you. Make America great again.

What does that mean to you? I'm being arrested for you. Why would anyone think that that is possibly true?

BOLTON: Well, I think he's appealing to the alienation of a lot of Republican voters, a lot of independents, a lot of people who have supported him before. And if he can make them feel that they are the ones that the system, the deep state, is after, it will solidify their support. And for a lot of reasons that people can discuss that support is real. It's undeniable. What will shake that support is conviction.

TAPPER: Ambassador John Bolton, thank you so much for your time today, appreciate it -- Kaitlan Collins.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake. Yes, sorry, we're out here outside the courthouse. Obviously, Donald Trump has arrived here. We did not actually see him, because his motorcade went into the garage. We do know he's got a slew of political advisors with him, but most importantly, he has his attorneys with him.

And what's notable about that is one of those attorneys, John Lauro, is just someone who was recently added. But he's going to be the one who is leading the January 6th case and the defense here. We've seen him already doing so publicly. Now is the first time that he is in a courtroom to do this.

Here with me now is CNN's Paula Reid and the former federal prosecutor, David Aaron, who worked at the Justice Department as a federal prosecutor until not that long ago. You looked through this indictment and we heard from Bill Barr last night. You just heard from John Bolton, is assessment of the indictment. What do you think of it?

DAVID AARON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think it's largely what I expected. It tells a full story. It tells that story in a way that lawyers and regular people will understand. And it focuses on one defendant. Even though it alleges a conspiracy, it's limited to the one defendant, and I think that reflects an effort to get this case moving and tell the whole story without unduly complicating it.

[04:35:02] COLLINS: Yes, and as you're looking at this -- looking at his indictment, looking at this case and now he is -- when they are in there talking about this and what this looks like, the defenses of what they are clearly going to use that are shaping up, do you think what they are saying publicly, what John Lauro and others are saying is what they're going to be using when they're in a courtroom?

AARON: Well, I think it remains to be seen. I think they might be test driving a few of these arguments. Not all of them seem legally meritorious, although they might be publicly appealing. This might end up a defense of just probable cause -- I'm sorry, beyond a reasonable doubt defense, arguing that the prosecutors just didn't carry their burden without offering any particular specific defense.

COLLINS: Which is a high bar, Paula. I mean, as we've been talking about.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It is an incredibly high bar, and I think you make a great point about test driving some of these defenses in the court of public opinion. Let's take this argument about the First Amendment. Right? They've been arguing -- I think John Lauro told you, he told other people publicly in the past few days -- they're trying to criminalize First Amendment activity, particularly political speech.

Well, let's look at that, OK? Political speech is widely recognized as one of your most protected rights. You can speak out against the government, the political process. You can even lie about that. But there is no First Amendment protection for fraud, and that is what is being alleged here. They are alleging that he fraudulently tried to create these documents and submit them to the government, to the archives and to Congress, to steal the most powerful office in the world. There is no First Amendment protection for that. So I think legally, that is not going to hold up in a court of law, but it's certainly very appealing, particularly to the president's supporters. And they're going to start testing these ideas and see what sticks.

COLLINS: And the other thing is that they're essentially arguing this when it comes to, to what this is looking like. What Bill Barr was saying last night is that the idea about the free speech, and Bill Barr was saying, we've got speeches involved in any conspiracy charge, and just because it's speech, doesn't mean it's protected by the First Amendment. Especially when it does relate to what this indictment alleges, which is a conspiracy to subvert the election.

REID: Exactly. They're alleging he engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, and that is not protected by any constitutional amendment. When it comes to the court of public opinion, people who may not understand the history of the Supreme Court protecting political speech but carving out exceptions for fraud, that may seem appealing to them. They may say, hey, well why can't he just call out alleged fraud? But again, legally speaking, once this is before a jury, you do not have a First Amendment right to lie or to engage in a conspiracy.

COLLINS: Dave, you're a former prosecutor. I mean, Trump is going to be face-to-face in that room, we believe Jack Smith is going to be here. That's the second time that they'll both have been in a courtroom together. But Trump has been attacking him endlessly on social media, calling him deranged, calling him a crackhead, implying that he had something to do with cocaine that was found at the White House. I mean, it's awkward, but also how does it affect the prosecution in the sense that he is attacking the very prosecutor?

AARON: You know, seasoned prosecutors like Jack Smith have been called a lot of names and been in a lot of awkward situations. This particular defendant may be dialing it up a bit, but you don't get to the point where Jack Smith is without having a fairly thick skin. I don't think we'll see a change in his stoicism, and I don't think we'll see any impact on the prosecution itself.

COLLINS: And Paula, he's also -- he was on the way here, he was saying that he -- in all caps -- it's an unfair judge and an unfair venue. I mean, it's very clear they're going to try to ask for a venue change. What's the likelihood of whether or not they'll get it?

REID: Well let's start with the judge. Because first of all, today's hearing is in front of a magistrate judge. So this is just a judge that's going to handle the procedural hearing.

Then he's going to go before Judge Chutkan. She is an Obama appointee. She's experienced. She's been on the bench for about a decade. She has overseen dozens of January 6th cases already, and she has been a judge who's implemented some of the harshest punishments on those defendants.

She's also previously ruled against the former president. Remember when he was trying to keep those departments from the January 6th Committee, and she used very strong language in her opinions, suggesting that he was not a king, and reminding him that he was not currently president and couldn't use privilege to keep those documents.

So, clearly, when they realized this is the judge who's going to oversee the case, not only are they likely to make arguments against her in the court of public opinion, but they're also likely going to try to change venue. It is unclear if they will be successful. I know this is something they also discussed up in Manhattan, the first criminal charges that were filed against him. It is absolutely something I think that any good lawyer would bring up and at least attempt. I don't know that they're going to be successful, but in part, we don't know because this is an unprecedented situation. Right. You have a former president in a town that is disproportionately Democrat. So it's unclear, but it's unlikely that they're going to succeed, but they are going to try, and that is something that would be expected.


COLLINS: And Dave, part of what we had heard going into this was, as happy as the Trump legal team was that they got Judge Aileen Cannon randomly in Florida, they had the opposite reaction when they randomly got Judge Chutkan, given how she has responded to January 6 rioters. How she has treated the issue and talked about essentially the nature of those crimes. I mean, what is the sense of how a defense team would handle something like that?

AARON: I don't think there's really grounds for a motion to recuse. I don't think there's a motion for a change of venue that's going to go anywhere. I think they have a judge who's tough, who is fair. You know, judges come from a lot of different backgrounds, but ultimately, we rely on them to apply the law in an impartial way. And sometimes when your client's case just is what it is, you get a fair judge, that's the hand you're dealt.


REID: These judges are under a lot of scrutiny. We've seen Judge cannon, her decision in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Judge Chutkan is selected as the judge for this case. Both she, a Trump appointee, and Judge Chutkan, these are arguably going to be the most high- profile cases of their careers.

COLLINS: Yes, and she will have a huge influence on the timing of this, which of course is at the center of all this. Dave and Paula, stand by, we'll be with you.

Donald Trump is currently inside this courthouse behind us. He is under arrest facing charges that accuse him of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election and subvert democracy.

Up next, we'll speak with the Michigan Secretary of State about what she told the special counsel Jack Smith and his team. CNN's live coverage continues right after a quick break.



TAPPER: You are currently looking at the D.C. federal courthouse, the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Court House in Washington, D.C. Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, is in that building, currently in the custody of U.S. Marshals. He is facing his third arrest and arraignment for his efforts to subvert the democratic election of 2020.

Mr. Trump returning to Washington, D.C., to answer to this historic indictment, charging him with specific crimes against the American people in this alleged conspiracy to hold on to power, even though he lost the election in 2020.

We just saw the special counsel who worked with the grand jury to bring this indictment forward, Jack Smith inside. We just saw him walk into the courtroom inside that building.

Let's talk right now about events leading up to today. The Michigan Secretary of State, Democrat Jocelyn Benson, joins us now. Secretary Benson, my understanding is you spoke in March with the prosecution team for several hours as part of this criminal probe into the efforts to overturn the 2020 election. I'm not sure how much or how comfortable you are going into what you told them, but obviously Michigan, it's no surprise, is one of the states, one of the battleground states that is central to this investigation. Share with us what you can about what you were asked about.

JOCELYN BENSON, (D) MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Certainly, and thanks for having me here, Jake, on this really sad day for our country, a momentous day. And one that is the reflection of crimes that were committed against voters in this country and also the meticulous fact- based work of the prosecutor and his team. And so it was an honor to meet with them and share with them everything we experienced in the lead-up to and the months following the 2020 election.

And what I would say, and a lot of this -- my testimony before the January 6th Congressional Committee also underscored in great detail, was the fact that so much, if not all of what happened was because of lies about our elections. They were lies that were intended to block the will of the people from coming to fruition, and they were lies that led to violence. And so, making that connection through the stories of what we experienced in Michigan has been the overarching theme for all the discussions we have had with law enforcement.

TAPPER: And I'm assuming that you would be willing to testify in the trial if the special counsel were to call you to do so.

BENSON: Oh, certainly. I mean, look, my office, and I know election officials all around the country who were on the front lines as witnesses to this really unimaginable attempt to overturn the will of the people, are ready and willing to speak the truth and share the experiences that we witnessed and also defend the security of our elections.

It's really remarkable that here we are, three years later, continuing to have to do the work and undo the lies that were spread about what was, above all a transparent, secure, fair election with accurate results reflecting the will of the people. And we'll continue to defend that work, our work, and the voice of the people. It's the oath that we take, and it's something that we believe history calls on us to do in this moment.

TAPPER: And we know, of course, that the Attorney General and the special counsel in Michigan are pursuing justice and accountability for the fake electors that tried to participate -- that were part of this scheme. And also, just today, a pro-Trump lawyer became the third individual in your state charged for taking part in the conspiracy to seize and access the voting machines in Michigan. Secretary of State Jocelynn Benson, thank you so much -- Anderson.



We know that special counsel Jack Smith is now currently in the courtroom, awaiting the proceedings. The former president, to our knowledge, has not yet entered the actual courtroom, though he's obviously in the building. I want to go back to our attorneys, Elie Honig, Karen Friedman Agnifilo. We talked a little bit about, you know, the proceedings. We know we've seen this before. The actual once he comes into the court, what happens?

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So goes into the part of the courtroom where it's called the well. It's closest to the judge. He sits at the table with his attorneys, and the arraignment is in some ways a formality. But it's an important part of the process. And it's where he's officially told what he's charged with, and he is -- really what happens most of the time is that the attorney will say we waive the reading of the charges but not the rights there under.

Because he has a right to have the entire indictment read to him, the 45-page indictment, which could obviously slow things down and take, you know, an hour maybe to have the court read that to him.

But most of the time they waive the reading of those rights -- of the charges, but the judge informs him of the four charges that he's charged with on the indictment. And they do a formal arraignment where they just say -- they say, you know, Mr. Trump, you are charged under indictment number CR00257, you know, do you -- how do you plead? Guilty or not guilty? And normally you enter a plea. He'll plead not guilty. And they ask the lawyer, do you have -- is there anything you need from me? Is there any questions you have? And sometimes -- it's a very procedural thing.

Most of the time they talk about things like whether or not the defendant is going to be released on their own recognizance or release on certain times. Sometimes there's, you know, in other cases they might be told, like Mr. De Oliveira, if you recall, there was $100,000 personal recognizance bond, and he was told he can't leave the jurisdiction of the southern district of Florida. That's very common to give those restrictions to a criminal defendant.

I doubt that will happen here, although he will be appearing before the court with now a rap sheet that has his fingerprints. Every time he's arrested, he gets his fingerprints taken, and that gets added to his rap sheet. He now will have three different charges in three jurisdictions on his rap sheet. He actually has --

COOPER: We've been told that the former president has now entered the courtroom for his arraignment. The magistrate judge, Eli, at what point does her role and Judge Chutkan take over, and when does the judge start to set an actual trial date?

ELI HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So this will probably be all that happens in front of the magistrate judge is an initial proceeding. From here on out it should be the district court Judge Tanya Chutkan. Usually you would want to get the parties in fairly quickly, within a few weeks, especially where time is of the essence like this. And that scheduling issue is going to be so important.

And you know, Karen's right, this is a very procedural formalistic process. And if you've been through countless of them as we both have, you tend to take it for granted. But I think there's also a larger purpose. Which is to remind all the participants and maybe us that this is a different format. This is a different form. This is separate and apart from politics, this is separate and apart from all the noise. Ultimately it comes down to that well, the evidence, the judge, a jury. And that's by design. That's how criminal courts are supposed to function. So, yes, this is routine. It's also I think quite solemn, and I think there's a bigger point to what's happening today.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I spoke to an officer who was on the Capitol the day of January 6th who along with some other officers decided to show up today at the courthouse. Because I think after being two years after, this is gratifying for some folks who said justice hasn't been served. But this is the beginning of a very long process. It's a process that I believe the former president would like to drag well beyond the election. And time will tell how long this ends up going.

But I think it's important to note that this is a man who has broken so many barriers in all of the worst ways. He is, you know, to say that a former president has a rap sheet, even when you say those words, it's kind of hard to wrap your head around in this country. That's not something I think I would live to see the day or live to see the day of a former president's third arraignment. So I think it's important to just to kind of take it a moment for the sobriety of how serious this is.

COOPER: Kaitlin Collins is outside the courthouse. I want to go to you Kaitlin. We know the former president is now in courtroom.

COLLINS: Yes, Anderson. Obviously, a scene that is all too familiar, that we have seen played out time and time again. It was not that long ago Paula Reid and I were sitting in Miami when the former president was in the court house behind us then. He is now behind this court house here in Washington. Obviously just a stone's throw from both the actual Capitol where of course, most of the crimes that happened on January 6th occurred, but also the White House.


And Paula, what we've now just learned -- and Dave is back with us -- is that Jack Smith is actually in the room face to face with Trump. He is now also in the room. What do you expect to happen next?

REID: That's right. Jack Smith in the courtroom. He will not be conducting this hearing. He's there with a team --

COLLINS: He may not even be sitting at the table.

REID: That's right, he's probably going to be in the back. I can see for our reporting team that apparently when Trump entered the courtroom, he didn't even look at him. He continued to stared straight ahead.

Now it's significant that Jack Smith is there. Because while this is just an initial hearing, this is one of the few times that they may come face to face before a possible trial. Now this should be a quick hearing. He will hear the charges that have been filed against him, and he will have the opportunity to enter a plea. We expect, of course, that will be not guilty. But he doesn't actually

have to do it himself. He can rely on one of his two attorneys to do that for him, which is what he did down in Florida. Then going forward the big issue is going to be scheduling. That's not something that this magistrate judge will handle. That will go to Judge Chutkan. The judge will oversee this case and a likely trial. And that's really one of the ways that a judge can have such significant influence over this case with decisions both large and small. Those will dictate whether this goes to trial before or after the election.

COLLINS: Yes, and this is obviously not the first time they've been face to face. Jack Smith was there in Miami which kind of surprised some people.

As you look at this, Trump is the only defendant going in that room today. He has no co-defendants with him. Obviously, there are co- conspirators who are listed in the indictment. They're not named. People have been guessing about who some of them are. I mean, this is what stands out to me. Jason Miller, who's an adviser to Trump, is with him now. He's quoted in the indictment as one of -- talking about how crazy the idea that were being tossed around about fraud. Where Boris Epstein is with Trump today. There have been questions in Trump world about whether or not he's co-conspirator number six. What do you make of the fact that Trump's entire orbit is also wrapped up in these indictments?

AARON: It's a very strange situation that people that he may be relying on for advice, perhaps even legal advice, are unindicted co- conspirators, unnamed co-conspirators. We don't know what's going to happen with them, perhaps in separate indictments. But for them to be traveling together and advising each other when their interests may become adverse really -- this is another unique situation about this collection of cases.

COLLINS: And what's your sense of why that space it the top left part of the indictment is blank? Why there are no co-conspirators? Why they weren't listed or indicted?

AARON: My view is this is a way to keep this case as streamlined as possible and on as fast a track as due process will allow. The more defendants you add, the more it slows down the process, the more complicated things become. Here the conspiracy is alleged, and apparently can be proved. But you only have one defendant and one defense team that, you know, you have to go through discovery, make motions, et cetera.

COLLINS: And Paula, the judge there today, obviously the magistrate judge, it's not Judge Chutkan who's actually going to be overseeing this. But obviously, she has a vested interest in that, in whether or not they are going to potentially indict others. Is there a point where she asks Jack Smith's team what their intentions are?

REID: So if she was watching what wanted down in Florida, right, there Judge Cannon put a lot of effort into coming up with an extremely detailed schedule to get everything done before a possible May trial. It's a complicated case. There's over 30 different deadlines. And then the special counsel went ahead and filed a superseding indictment adding a co-defendant which will throw that timeline off.

It's possible that she may ask if they have the intention to add any additional charges before she gets too into the weeds in terms of scheduling. What we know from our reporting is we know that they appear to be working toward a superseding indictment because they continue to gather evidence.

And some lawyers for some of the witnesses who have yet to go in have said, hey, if you're done with your work, you can't continue to gather evidence. And it has been suggested to them that in fact they are working on potential additional charges likely in the form of a superseding indictment into this case.

So it's a reminder that this is probably just the first set of charges. It is unclear if there will be additional charges against the former president or additional co-defendants. If I was the judge, before I put all that work into, you know, putting together a schedule to try to get this done before the election, I could possibly want to broach some of these issues even if it was in camera, even if it was away from the public.

COLLINS: Yes, and we should note, we're hearing that Trump is in the courtroom. He's looking around. We'll see, of course, if he's the one to ultimately issue that plea.

And Jake, notably that they're in the room together, as Trump is there with Jack Smith. You know, it's just a few days ago that Trump's legal team was meeting with Jack Smith and rest of the special counsel's team at the Justice Department here in Washington. Obviously only days before Trump was ultimately indicted here.

TAPPER: Yes, Donald Trump having posted many social media posts accusing Jack Smith of preposterous and derogatory insults. Jack Smith, of course, letting his indictment of the former president doing his talking for him.

Let's talk to some of our law and justice experts here about what is likely going on right now. Lara Coates is a former federal prosecutor. I assume you've worked in that building.