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CNN Live Event/Special

Nineteen People, Including Trump, were Charged in GA Election Probe; DA Fani Willis Holds Conference. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 14, 2023 - 23:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Sidney Powell. Sidney Powell, who Donald Trump himself referred to --


TAPPER: -- behind closed doors as crazy with her conspiracy theories. Cathy Latham, Scott Hall, and Misty Hampton AKA Emily Misty Hayes. Do you know who that is?

COLLINS: She was the -- she's actually a very interesting one. She's not a name that most people recognize. She was the Coffee County election supervisor. So that story that CNN broke yesterday about those efforts to access voting machines and voting software in Coffee County, Georgia, she is someone who played a role in that.

And I believe, Jake, if memory is serving me right, that Mark Meadows, when he actually went down to Georgia, he met Misty Hampton or somehow got her number and went back to the White House with it, and that was someone that they were on the phone with very quickly after that, obviously trying to get access to the voting software in Coffee County.

TAPPER: Yeah, when Meadows went down to Georgia. The Misty Hampton Coffee County story is interesting. And just to remind folks of that story, which CNN broke yesterday, and Kaitlin, you'll jump in if I get any of this wrong, but it seems as though Coffee County election officials invited Trump campaign officials to basically have access to their voting machines which, according to prosecutors, was not legal. Is that right?

COLLINS: Yeah, it's not legal. And she is someone who had basically written this statement, and all of our colleagues are the people who broke this fascinating story, but she had basically written the invitation to come and view the software, which they are not allowed to do.

Those are messages that were then transmitted to Trump campaign officials. There were group texts that we know prosecutors and investigators here got their hands on where they were saying, oh, we have talked to this election official referencing Misty Hampton, we are going to get access to this, and that was something they tried to work on really quickly. It also just speaks, Jake, to how broad this probe is. I mean, these are the people that Geoff Duncan was talking about. They used to be respected Republican officials in Georgia and they are part of this probe, and now they are named in this 98-page indictment.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins and I are now going to turn to this 98-page indictment, 19 individuals, 41 different charges. Anderson, we're going to go through this while you talk about it. Go ahead.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yeah, a lot to go through. We're looking at live shot from the courthouse in Atlanta where Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis is expected to speak shortly. You see the podium that they are getting ready right now.

Our senior justice correspondent Evan Perez joins us now. Evan, I know you've had some time to look at this. Talk about what you're seeing.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, you know, one of the interesting things that stands out to me is that what Fani Willis here, what the district attorney in Fulton County has done here is that she has gone beyond the scope of just the acts that occurred in the state of Georgia.

For example, there is here -- I believe it's count six, it says the solicitation of the vice president of the United States where she lists -- you know, she's at least going through the narration of, you know, the efforts by the former president to try to get the vice president to set aside the election results, you know, in all of these seven states, right?

And so one of the things that, you know, we all thought, perhaps, that this case would really just bore down on everything that happened in Georgia, not only the Coffee County example of trying to access the voting machines there but also, you know, obviously, the infamous phone call to the secretary of state down there in Georgia and also just the filing of false statements to the state legislature, to the courts down in Georgia.

What she has done here by presenting this is, you know, she's talking about some of the efforts that went beyond the state of Georgia. So, this is, you know, a much broader picture, really, than even what we saw in the Jack Smith's case in some ways because, you know, they're now going into a chapter and verse of what the former president and his allies were trying to do around the country.

Again, the anchor of this is what happened in Georgia. But, you know, as you read through this, they're listing some of the other places where -- and people who were involved in some of these in other states as well.

So, certainly for us, when we were thinking how this case was going to come forward, we were thinking that, you know, they would limit themselves to just the discrete things that happen in Georgia. And from reading this, it appears what they've done is they've gone much broader than we first anticipated. COOPER: And we're showing an image of the county clerk who's handing out some documents to those at the courthouse, to reporters and others.


Evan, we're expecting to hear from Fani Willis any moment. Do you have any sense of how much detail she will go into?

PEREZ: We don't yet, Anderson. We do know that one of the things that obviously she has to be mindful of is the fact that this is a case that's now in hands of the court, and she's going to have -- this is obviously going to go to trial. That's the intent here.

So, we anticipate that she's going to keep her comments perhaps a little bit more broad, maybe underscoring the importance of bringing this case, why this case is being brought, the message that she wants to bring forward, why this was being done in the first place obviously two years after this investigation began, and maybe respond a little bit to some of the attacks from the former president but keep it at that level simply because, again, this case has to be tried in before a jury.

He actually has to, you know, get a jury seated in Fulton County, Georgia. And, you know, you want to make sure that this is tried in court, not in the court of public opinion, obviously.

COOPER: And, Evan, we know -- I mean, 19 people charged 41 different counts to this indictment. I mean, this is a sprawling indictment.

PEREZ: More sprawling, frankly, than we anticipated. I mean, we obviously knew, Anderson, that there were a number of people who were involved in various facets of the former president's efforts to remain in office, right? The effort to get these fake electors.

Some of those people were put on notice that they were targets of this investigation. Of course, people like Rudy Giuliani, the former president's -- you know, his attorney, and some other one who was orchestrating some of that effort, you know, those people were put on notice that they were targets of this investigation.

There were various facets, though, that were going on in Georgia. Georgia, frankly, we know a lot more of because there was the recording of that phone call to the Georgia state officials. And, of course, there was, you know, the reporting that we got in the last few days from Jack Cohen (ph), and some of the work that the January 6th Committee did to investigate what happened down there. Of course, the Coffee County efforts to try to get to voting machines.

By the way, it was replicated, arousable, that we're going to see investigators in Arizona find that there were similar efforts there and perhaps they may be able to bring charges against people because again, what the key here is, you know, if you don't have the authorization to get to those voting machines, what seems to be part of what the prosecutors in Georgia are doing here? Anderson?

COOPER: Evan, Evan I'm going to give you a chance to go back (INAUDIBLE) very big indictment.


COOPER: (INAUDIBLE) as we wait here (INAUDIBLE) Griffin, Van Jones, Elie Honig, Michael Moore, and David Urban. Elie and Michael, I want to start with you, just from an attorney's perspective, if you've had a chance to look at anything, but what do you make of how big this is?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: I've had a chance to scroll through it quickly, and I'm not surprised really with the detail. I mean, nor am I surprised with the fact that the RICO statute is all over this thing.

This is her way to tell the story, put it in context, talk about a bigger scheme, talk about other people and sort of dirty each of the defendants up with the other person's conduct.

So, you know, it looks also to me like she's got probably some what I would call top tier targets and folks who she'd like to see in a courtroom, and then she's got some people down maybe that I might call second tier that she can probably squeeze a little bit to try to get up to cooperate at some point to save themselves a, you know, trip to the jail.

So, the detail is there. It's clearly going to tell the tale as we go through it, but they lay out plenty of predicate acts as it relates to the Rico statute.

COOPER: But some of the lower hanging fruit maybe or the smaller fish in this, she would like them to turn.

MOORE: You're right. I mean, this is how you start to put pressure. I mean, you can bring up about, I'm going to do this to you or that to you, but once you've made an indictment as a defendant and a grand jury is determined that there's probable cause that they committed some crime, that's a pretty great pressure, especially on people who may want to -- you know, young people or people who haven't been exposed to the criminal system at all. This is their chance to try to cooperate if they want to.

COOPER: Yeah. Elie, I know you've had a chance to go through a little bit.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Anderson. I want to talk just about the racketeering charge called RICO for sure. This is count one of indictment and it's really sort of the centerpiece of the indictment.

Now, important that people know, this count, if there's a conviction, carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison for anyone who gets convicted, a maximum of 20 years.


Now, all 19 defendants have been named in this racketeering count. The indictment alleges that Donald Trump and the people around him were a criminal enterprise, the same way that this D.A. has used and public unions and other corrupt organizations.

And then what you have to do within a racketeering charge is lay out your racketeering act, 161 different racketeering acts, different illegal acts that were done in furtherance of that enterprise. I've done more RICO charges that I can remember. I've never seen anywhere near that number.

And they break down just generally, I'm not going to go through 161, but into basically these eight large categories. False statements made to the state legislature. We know, for example, Rudy Giuliani went in live to the Georgia State Senate.

False statements made to state officials. We know, for example, Donald Trump sent a letter to Brad Raffensperger at one point saying basically there has been massive fraud and you need to do something about it. The fake electors scheme is number three.

Number four, harassment of election workers, Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss. They're named in this indictment as victims of one of the racketeering acts. Then solicitation of the Justice Department. We saw that in Jack Smith's indictment. The attempt to sort of weaponize DOJ to give some credence to these bogus claims of election fraud.

Next, solicitation of the vice president, Mike Pence, to violate his duties. And then the last two are breach of the voting machines, which we just reported, I think exclusively here on CNN, a day or two ago. That is now one of the bases for this racketeering charge. And finally, a fairly broad-ranging obstruction of justice allegation.

So, that's the centerpiece of this indictment. That's what's going to drive this case here, and that's count one of this indictment.

COOPER: So, when there are 161 racketeering acts, is that -- I mean, are each of those a crime, an alleged crime?

HONIG: Yes. Well, yes, they are illegal acts in furtherance of the racketeering conspiracy. And it's important to note, not all 19 defendants are listed and accused of all 161 acts. But all you have to show as a prosecutor, and this is part of the beauty of RICO laws, is that any one of these individuals was part of the enterprise and committed two or more interconnected acts.

So, yes, the allegation here is this RICO charge, this racketeering charge, breaks down into 161 separate illegal components.

COOPER: And Elie, just -- I mean, with -- you have 19 people charged. They're not all going to be tried at once.


COOPER: Is that right?

HONIG: I highly doubt it.

COOPER: I mean, that would be like a giant courtroom. HONIG: Yeah, exactly. Well, the first problem is logistical. I don't know where -- you'd have to try where the Atlanta Braves play or something. I mean, there's just no place that they could do that.

But one of the big questions moving forward is what we call severance. So, we have 19 defendants in this indictment. And so, the question will be, how are we going to break these defendants up for trial? I mean, theoretically, you could do 19 separate trials. I don't think anybody wants that. But that's going to be something that the parties argue and they may not agree on, and that will ultimately be within the judge's discretion.

COOPER: Could some of these charges against some of these individuals go through, even if the trial for the former president is -- you know, they make an agreement with federal prosecutors that this will be last in the -- you know, last in line?

HONIG: Yeah, for sure. So, there's no rule saying that the first person on the indictment, in this case Donald Trump, has to be tried first. And if it plays out that Donald Trump has too many other cases that he has to deal with, including the two federal cases, it could be that Donald Trump's trial gets pushed off until after the 2024 election.

But in the meantime, Fani Willis doesn't have to wait. She can start trying the other people listed here.

COOPER: Yeah. I want to check in with Paula Reid, who has been poring over the documents as well. Paula?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, reading through this, it's really interesting how Fani Willis tells the story of her case for the average voter, the average American. Here, she lays out a theory of the case that the former president and his co- defendants, in addition to unindicted co-conspirators, she describes them for the sake of prosecuting RICO as a unit, and then she lays out how she believes they carried out this conspiracy.

And she focuses on several key aspects. The first is, of course, the fake electors plot. We have reported extensively on this. This was an effort to undermine the electoral college by putting forth slates of fake electors.

Now, they also include the harassment of election worker Ruby Freeman. Now, it's not clear why she is included, and Shaye Moss, a fellow election worker who has also been facing some of the same harassment, why she's not included. But again, I'm only on page 16 out of 98.

But they also talk about soliciting the Justice Department. We know the former president tried to use his own Justice Department and top officials there to help him overturn the election.

They also talk about soliciting the vice president. We know and have extensively reported the pressure campaign that former Vice President Mike Pence was facing, the pressure that he faced not only from former President Trump but from other people encouraging him to overturn the election and not to certify the results in President Biden's favor.


They also talk about breaching voting systems and also filing false statements. So, at a very high level, these are the categories that they believe these defendants allegedly engage in a conspiracy, and that only takes you about a fifth of the way through the indictment and then they get into the real nitty gritty. But the average person who reads that should be able to at least understand at a high level the conspiracy that Fani Willis is alleging here.

COOPER: I'll let you go back to the document. I'll go back to inside to CNN's Sara Murray, who is inside of the courthouse room where Fani Willis is expected shortly. Sara, do you have a sense of when she's going to come?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, she should be out here sometime in roughly the next five minutes. They are, I think, aiming for about 11:20 to get this started. And again, you know, this is a district attorney who has already faced a lot of criticism, especially from Donald Trump's legal team, about public remarks she has made on this case so far.

Now that we have this 98-page indictment released, we have these 19 defendants, she certainly has more that she's able to talk about. I mean, even if she sticks within the four corners of this indictment, I think, as you've heard from a number of our other reporters, a number of our other guests, this is very detailed. This is a granular indictment. And I think that's what this District Attorney's Office was aiming for.

You know, they know the level of scrutiny they've been under. They know that this is an investigation that has spanned for two and a half years and that people expected to see something that was reflective of that.

So, we're going to wait to see what exactly she has to say tonight about the state of the case, about the state of the investigation, and we're also going to wait to see, frankly, what the next steps are here. This is a little bit different than what we have seen in federal court. You know, in other courts, we have seen the indictment unsealed, and then Donald Trump immediately shows up. He surrenders. He's arraigned.

That's not necessarily how that will work in a state court. We don't know yet when Donald Trump or other defendants would be expected to surrender. And frankly, when they would be called to appear in court is going to be up to the judge who's assigned to this case. So, we're also going to be looking for next steps as to how this is going to proceed, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Sara Murray, about three minutes, we expect Fani Willis or so. Thanks very much. Let's go back to Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Anderson, we're poring over these documents. You didn't really give me a lot of time. I mean, there are 41 counts here. You got 161 acts just in count one.


Pardon me. Let me -- who wants to go first? Jamie -- Laura Coates. Okay, Laura Coates. One of the things that is remarkable to me is a lot of the stuff we knew about --


TAPPER: -- and now they're being charged with. For instance, then President Trump trying to prevail upon a leader in the Georgia legislature to convene a session to overturn the election. That is solicitation of a violation of an oath of a public officer. Donald Trump is charged with that as one of the -- as one of counts in this 41-count indictment.

COATES: There is so much stunning information contained, the sheer volume. Just think about Jack Smith's indictment compared to the exponential indictment that we see here, not only in terms of the number of people who've been indicted, but the acts that are actually charged. A couple key points here. First of all, when it comes to RICO, this has broadened her jurisdiction.

TAPPER: You've got to translate that for the people at home.

COATES: So, RICO -- RICO is a --

TAPPER: Racketeering --

COATES: Well, RICO is a fancy way of saying, look, a whole bunch of people got together, two or more really got together and coordinated a conspiracy. It's conspiracy on steroids, as my friend Norm Eisen likes to say. It's a way of participating in crimes, two or more in Georgia, as part of an overall plan. The overall connection really is that you all engage in criminal behavior.

You need not have direct connection with one another as long as you are part of an overall conspiracy or actual enterprise. Think about the common mafia case, right, where you've got one person who's a kind of ringleader, a puppeteer as you will. Everyone attached to that string involved in the entire theater really is going to be at issue here.

The reason it is so important here is because normally, a prosecutor only has the jurisdiction in their own specific area. They have to be nearsighted for justice to prevail. RICO allows you to be broader because whatever you have engaged in, in criminal behavior, that really had an impact in my jurisdiction.

Whether it happened out of state, whether it was a different county, whether it was something in a different, you know, region of the country, it all can count towards my RICO case around me.


COATES: So, it does that. Also, what's really interesting here is, look at the attorneys that are named in this indictment.

TAPPER: So many attorneys.

COATES: So many attorneys.

TAPPER: Jenna Ellis, John Eastman --


COATES: Sidney Powell --

TAPPER: Sidney Powell --

COATES: Rudy Giuliani, just to name a few. It's a motley crew of attorneys. And remember, one of the defenses we just been having is defense of counsel. You know, I was like, you know, following the advice of counsel here. It's all I was really doing. Think about the different schemes that are in play and they're being charged.

What this does now with all of them being charged is it puts at odds Donald Trump with his counsel because at some point, a fact-finding mission has to ensue where you have to prove --


COATES: -- that this was either a vice council or not. And finally, unlike the other indictments we have seen, we've compared a lot, you have actual speech in the form of tweets and social media by the former president.

There will now be an invitation at this point to talk about the First Amendment considerations here that you did not have in the Jack Smith indictment election interference, because now you can foresee Donald Trump and company saying, hold on, the statements that I made, this is political speech.

TAPPER: Right, that will be obviously his defense. You were talking about the RICO statute and that is the first count, the racketeering statute. And you -- there are 161 different acts in that statute. You want to jump in here?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yeah. So, Laura is absolutely right on the significance of RICO, but the very basics of how to prove it are similar to the federal system. The Georgia authorities have to prove the existence of an enterprise, which is simply a relationship between the co-conspirators.

That's easy here. We all saw it. They gave press conferences together. They showed up at state legislative hearings and testified and provided false information. So that half of the case will not be hard.

The second thing you have to prove is that each member of the RICO count, you have I think 19 people who are charged under the RICO statute --

TAPPER: Yes. MCCABE: -- each one has to be proven to have committed at least two predicate acts. And in Georgia, unlike the federal system, the RICO statute provides 40 separate predicate acts. So, what you have here in acts 1 through 161, these are the individual predicate criminal acts that the prosecutors will attempt to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.

Importantly, let's say Rudy Giuliani, I don't know how many he's actually charged with here, how many acts that are attributed to him --


MCCABE: -- but they only need to prove two.

TAPPER: Yeah. And Abby, you were going through these acts, and one of the things we were wondering about was how many -- how much new are we going to learn? Given how public this is, given that this is not even the first indictment having to do with Donald Trump's alleged attempts to steal an election, what will we learn that's new? And you quickly found something that we had not heard of when it comes to act 19 in the 161 act RICO count.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. This is -- I mean, this goes back to December, and it says that Donald Trump and Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, directed Johnny McEntee, John McEntee, who was the senior official in the White House at the time, to come up with a plan to disrupt and delay the January 6th proceedings.

To me, that really struck out because rarely do we see in documents Trump directed so and so to do something very specific. And in this case, it was something that was clearly written. It was a written plan to disrupt January 6th.

And that goes against a lot of the arguments that you hear from Trump's attorneys, which is that this was all spontaneous and that he was just using speech and that he was just saying things and people did things, and that how was he to know that they were trying to actually stop the proceedings.

We don't know what that document said. Some of it had to do with Mike Pence, which we know all about Trump's efforts to get Pence to do things that he was not legally able to do on that day. But the idea of Trump directing, Trump and Meadows --


PHILLIP: -- who is indicted here, directing a plan going way back to December for January 6th and that being part of this indictment here in Georgia, it puts -- it puts an umbrella over a lot of things.

TAPPER: We should note, Jamie Gangel, that are 30 unindicted co- conspirators -- 30 unindicted co-conspirators.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: And maybe more. So, we talked about the special counsel's indictment as supposedly the mother of all speaking indictments. This one goes to a whole new level.

And in addition to what you're mentioning, which is 30 unindicted co- conspirators, as you go through this, you find page after page, if you look at page 15, the defendants as well as others not named, you know, as you go through, there are more and more people who are not named.


We don't know who they are. We don't know if they're cooperating.

TAPPER: One thing I just want to make sure our viewers know, if you're just joining us, we are waiting for the district attorney of Fulton County, Fani Willis, to come before the cameras and speak. She might take some questions from reporters who are there.

We are covering this historic news of this indictment of Donald Trump and 18 other individuals. Forty-one counts, including racketeering a RICO account that all 19 individuals, including Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and others are included in. Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: After reading this, there is no doubt. You know, the question we've all been asking is, did trump direct this in any way or were people doing this on Trump's behalf because they really thought that he -- you know, that he had won the election?

Over and over and over again, we see phone calls that the president made. And every time, for example, a phone call, which we knew about, to the Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp, and this indictment says, solicited, requested, and importuned Kemp to call a special session of the Georgia Assembly --


BORGER: -- the phrase that is used over and over again is, this was an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

TAPPER: That's interesting because there are so many counts here in which Donald Trump -- which are about lying.

BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: And as we've noted many times, it's not a lie -- it's not a crime to lie to the press. It's not a crime to lie to the public. But to lie to officials, this is the theory of the case, anyway, to lie to officials in furtherance of a conspiracy or to lie to the public in furtherance of a conspiracy that Fani Willis is suggesting is a crime because there are many.

It's not just forgery, which is obviously a very specific crime having to do with in writing, for instance, the fake electors. But they cite all sorts of lies and conspiracy theories that Giuliani, Trump and others said. And they're saying that that's a false statement in this scheme, in this theory.

MCCABE: It's the simple act of stating that lie or the act of asking another to lie. In other words, asking another to, you know, reconvene the Pennsylvania State legislature and nominat a new slate of electors.

What's interesting to me about this indictment is it's unbelievably granular, but not in the same way that the federal January 6 indictment was. If you remember, that indictment really told a very coherent narrative across 50 or so pages. Here, you have essentially a list of isolated acts that qualify as predicate acts of under the RICO statute.

So, they can be as simple as left a voicemail message, had a phone call, made a statement at a press conference or a meeting of the state legislature. So, they all kind of stand independent of each other and provide ample opportunity for prosecutors to prove this case.

TAPPER: And so, you know, so many of these stories that we know, the story, count 28 of the 41 counts, count 28 is that phone call that Donald Trump placed to Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, in which he asked him to -- quote, unquote -- "find 11,780 votes," one more than the margin of victory Joe Biden had.

That's count 28. Donald John Trump and Mark Randall Meadows are charged with the offense of solicitation, a violation of oath by public officer, referring to Brad Raffensperger very specifically.

The case that we heard from Coffee County is Sidney Powell and others, whose names may not be as familiar to people, with the offense of conspiracy to commit election fraud.

And this has to do with Sidney Powell entering into a contract and causing employees of this firm, this law firm, Sullivan -- or I think it's the law firm, Sullivan/Strickler LLC, to travel from Atlanta to Coffe County -- quote -- "for the purpose of willfully tampering with said electronic ballot markers and tabulating machines which were overt acts to affect the object of the conspiracy."

So, here are all these news stories, that last one CNN broke yesterday, all these news stories that we thought were fishy, and Fani Willis is saying, it's not just fishy, that's a crime.

COATES: And it goes -- and you think about just -- if people are wondering, what could take so long in order to have the investigation? Look at the nuance, the specificity that is required here to prove one's burden of proof at the probable cause level, by the way, let alone at an actual trial.


One thing to really keep in mind here is they're not just talking about false statements in the sense of, you know, to the average person. They're also incorporating in some of these counts, statements made to the representatives themselves.

At one issue, count 7 of 41, to the Georgia House, president of the House Governmental Affairs Committee, lies told to secretary of state, lies told to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee meetings, statements that were made to people, including felons they claim to have been illegally voting, underage persons illegally voting, people who were not otherwise on the registry, people who had used a post-office box. There is that mailed-in ballot notion that was a popular talking point.

They even list that more than 10,000 or more dead people voted in the election. They're making these statements not just to the press, not just to the average person, but in the hopes of soliciting a change on behalf of elected officials. It's a second degree in level they're going to try to prove about one's attempt to disenfranchise voters and undermine democracy.

TAPPER: We're told that this press conference is going to begin any minute of the district attorney of Fulton County, Fani Willis, talking to reporters.

Something very interesting, Jamie Gangel, in Act 90 of the --

GANGEL: You're way ahead of me.

TAPPER: -- of the RICO statute -- okay, I just -- this is -- this is the -- guess who the unindicted co-conspirator is? This talks about that meeting that we've been reporting on now for more than a year, almost two years.


TAPPER: The 18th day of December 2020 when Trump meets with Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and others to talk about seizing voting machines. This is in the White House, okay? It says that along with Trump, Giuliani, and Powell is -- quote -- "unindicted co-conspirator, individual 20, whose identity is known to the grand jury and others at the White House."

Now, we don't know who that is, but we have -- we have an idea. Your guess is --

GANGEL: So, my guess is that in those meetings were members of the White House Council Office.

TAPPER: But they wouldn't be -- but they wouldn't be unindicted co- conspirators. Michael Flynn was also in that room and also the guy from --

UNKNOWN: That's Byrne.


TAPPER: And Pat Byrne from Overstock.

BORGER: Oh, yeah.

GANGEL: Overstock. Right.

TAPPER: So, I -- again, I have no idea who the co-conspirators are, but we know that Pat Byrne and Mike Flynn were in the room and they're not listed as indicted, but somebody who is unindicted co-conspirator, individual 20, was there. Does that mean possibly one of those individuals, since they're not listed in the indictment, is cooperating?

MCCABE: Entirely possible. We don't know for sure.

TAPPER: Right.

MCCABE: But, you know, the question is, why are they an unindicted co- conspirator?

TAPPER: Right. There are 19 people here. Why aren't there 20, 21?

MCCABE: Exactly. And the obvious example is they came in and cooperated and received some sort of benefit for that. But again --

TAPPER: We don't know.


TAPPER: We don't know. But we do know the facts about that meeting.

MCCABE: We absolutely do.

COATES: Remember, to be a cooperator, just so we're clear, to be a cooperator, you have got to give me as the prosecutor information I could get nowhere else. It's not about trying to do favors for someone. I think people have misconceptions sometimes of, oh, they're a cooperator. Hey, I thought they were a cooperator. Okay, sign up and we'll put you in there.

It has to be that with an interest towards pursuing justice, the information that you can provide or can corroborate or buttress the credibility of another key witness is so essential that I'm willing to essentially give you a kind of immunity and afford you the decency of saying an unindicted co-conspirator. So, if they are --

TAPPER: Is it information that you can't get anywhere else? Because, obviously, we know Pat Cipollone and some individuals from the White House Counsel's Office who were telling Trump, you can't seize these machines, and there was never any inkling that they had done anything wrong.

Or is it that the witness has to be somebody from inside the -- quote- unquote -- "conspiracy" whose testimony might be therefore more valuable? Is that possible?

COATES: It has to be the information, it has to be the credibility attached to that person, and it has to be somebody who can, frankly, undermine the credibility of another witness.

Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to use you because if there is nothing valuable, inherently valuable about your testimony, and what's valuable before a grand jury, let alone a trial jury, is that I'm going to get firsthand information from somebody whose credibility cannot be -- what might be challenged in terms of, you know, this might be an unsympathetic person, but that this is a person who had either first-hand knowledge, was able to fill in a gap for me, or is someone who could be persuasive in their truth-telling.

GANGEL: To the point of filling in the gap, we know that meeting became famous for the shouting match that went on --

TAPPER: Right.

GANGEL: -- and White House counsel --

TAPPER: And also, the deranged idea of seizing voting machines.

GANGEL: Was in --

MCCABE: There is that, that's true.

TAPPER: Let's not sleep on that one.

GANGEL: Let's assume for a moment that the unindicted conspirators were not anybody from the White House Counsel's Office --


GANGEL: -- who was saying that this was crazy.


However, they weren't always in the room. They were not -- they may not know what was going on before the meeting happened or after the meeting happened.

TAPPER: Right. There you go.

GANGEL: So, to Laura's points about gaps that could fill in, one quick thing, Rudy Giuliani is all over this indictment. I do not read as quickly as you do, Jake. I'm only on page 24. I think there are 16 to 18 mentions of him already. Also, Jenna Ellis --


GANGEL: -- is repeatedly here. And then just one other point. We've been talking about what Georgia has. Emails, documents, text messages.


GANGEL: I was also -- the phone call. But it was also pointed out to me that Donald Trump's public statements, his social media posts, all can and will be used against him just because you do it in plain sight.

So, for example, on page 24, Act 22, on about the third day of December 2020, Donald John Trump caused to be tweeted from the Twitter account, at realDonaldTrump -- quote -- "Georgia hearings now on at OANN. Amazing!" -- end quote. And then the indictment goes on to say this was an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. BORGER: That's the key phrase. So, that's the key phrase throughout the whole thing. This was not just something that happened by coincidence. It kind of reminds me of people on January 6th saying, you know, it was like a tourist walk in the park up there on January 6th, that this all just sort of fell together, it wasn't planned.

This says that all of these phone calls, these -- I don't know how many phone calls Donald Trump made, could have been a hundred, who knows, were overt and they were all done with one thing in mind.

TAPPER: Okay, I hate to interrupt, but here's the district attorney, Fani Willis, and her team are walking into the room to speak. Let's listen.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Thank you for joining us. I'm here with the prosecutors and investigators who have worked diligently on the investigation of criminal attempts to interfere in the administration of Georgia's 2020 presidential election.

Today, based on information developed by that investigation, a Fulton County grand jury returned a true bill of indictment, charging 19 individuals with violations of Georgia law arising from a criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in this state. The indictment includes 41 felony counts and is 97 pages long. Please remember that everyone charged in this bill of indictment is presumed innocent.

Specifically, the indictment brings felony charges against Donald John Trump, Rudolph William Louis Giuliani, John Cheseboro, John Charles Eastman, Mark Randall Meadows, John Chesebro, Jeffrey Clark, Jenna Lynn Ellis, Ray Stallings Smith III, Robert David Cheeley, Michael A. Roman, David James Shafer, Shawn Micah Tresher Still, Stephen Cliffgard Lee, Harrison William Prescott Floyd, Trevian V. Kutti, Sidney Katherine Powell, Cathleen Alston Latham, Scott Graham Hall, and Misty Hampton AKA Emily Misty Hayes.

Every individual charged in the indictment is charged with one count of violating Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act through participation in a criminal enterprise in Fulton County, Georgia and elsewhere to accomplish the illegal goal of allowing Donald J. Trump to seize the presidential term of office beginning on January 20th, '21.


Specifically, the participants in association took various actions in Georgia and elsewhere to block the counting of the votes of the presidential electors who were certified as the winners of Georgia's 2020 general election.

As you examine the indictment, you will see acts that are identified as overt acts and those that are identified as predicate acts, sometimes called acts of racketeering activity. Overt acts are not necessarily crimes under Georgia law in isolation, but are alleged to be acts taken in furtherance of the conspiracy. Many occurred in Georgia and some occurred in other jurisdictions and are included because the grand jury believes they were part of the illegal effort to overturn the results of Georgia's 2020 presidential election.

The acts identified as predicate acts or acts of racketeering activity are crimes that are alleged to have been committed in furtherance of the criminal enterprise. Acts of racketeering activity are also charged as separate counts in the indictment against those who are alleged to have committed them.

All elections in our nation are administered by these states, which are given the responsibility of ensuring a fair process and an accurate counting of the votes. That includes elections for presidential electors, Congress, state officials, and local offices. The state's role in this process is essential to the functioning of our democracy.

Georgia, like every state, has laws that allow those who believe that results of an election are wrong, whether because of intentional wrongdoing or unintentional error, to challenge those results in our state courts.

The indictment alleges that rather than abide by Georgia's legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia's presidential election result. Subsequent to the indictment, as is the normal process in Georgia law, the grand jury issued arrest warrants for those who are charged.

I am giving the defendants the opportunity to voluntarily surrender no later than noon on Friday, the 25th day of August, 2023. I remind everyone here that an indictment is only a series of allegations based on a jury's determination of probable cause to support the charges. It is now the duty of my office to prove these charges in the indictment beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

I would like to take a moment to thank the Superior Court clerk, Che Alexander, and her staff for staying late and making sure that this indictment was processed.

I would also like to thank the men and women of Sheriff Labat's office for keeping the courthouse open, but most importantly for keeping us safe over the weeks and months that have led up to this indictment and for what I know they will continue to do to keep us safe. We also want to thank the Atlanta Police Department and other law enforcement partners who have worked with the sheriff to keep us safe.

I will now take a very limited number of questions prior to going to sleep.


UNKNOWN: I'll go first. UNKNOWN: District Attorney --

UNKNOWN: If you don't mind, (INAUDIBLE), quick question, can you clarify in Georgia the mandatory minimum when it comes to RICO charges, whether it's servable by probation or how that might play out?

WILLIS: The RICO charges have time that you have to serve, so it is not a probated sentence.

UNKNOWN: District attorney, what is the time table for the trial?

WILLIS: What is the time table for the trial?


WILLIS: As you know, in this jurisdiction, trials are set by the judges.


And so, it will be the judge that sets the date of the trial. This office will be submitting a proposed scheduling order within this week. However, that will totally be at the discretion of the judge.

UNKNOWN: You're the fourth person, the fourth jurisdiction now to indict Donald Trump. Do you believe you need to be the fourth one to try him or could you move it up? Who do you want to be the first to try him?

WILLIS: I don't have any desire to be first or last. I want to try him and be respectful for our sovereign states. We do want to move this case along. And so, we will be asking for a proposed order that occurs a trial date within the next six months.

UNKNOWN: There was a fictitious document, according to the Fulton County Clerk Office, that was circulated online with charges against former President Donald Trump. That fictitious document matched exactly the charges that we now see in this indictment. Can you tell us more about that document leak? Because now you have the former president's lawyers who are saying this is emblematic of a serious problem with your office.

WILLIS: No, I can't tell you anything about what you refer to. What I can tell you is that we had a grand jury here in Fulton County. They deliberated till almost 8:00, if not right after 8:00. An indictment was returned, it was true billed, and you now have an indictment.

I am not an expert on clerk's duties or even administrative duties. I wouldn't know how to work that system. And so, I'm not going to speculate. Next question.

UNKNOWN: Have you had any contact with the special counsel about overlap between these cases, and do you intend to try all of these defendants together?

WILLIS: Do I intend to try the 19 defendants in this indictment together? Yes.

UNKNOWN: And have you had any contact with the special counsel about the overlap between this indictment and the federal indictment?

WILLIS: I'm not going to discuss our investigation at this time.

UNKNOWN: Have there been any conversations --

UNKNOWN: There were arguments made by former President Trump that this is a politically-motivated indictment.

WILLIS: I make decisions in this office based on the facts and the law. The law is completely nonpartisan. That's how decisions are made in every case. To date, this office has indicted, since I've been sitting as a district attorney, over 12,000 cases. This is the 11th RICO indictment. We followed the same process. We look at the facts, we look at the law, and we bring charges.

UNKNOWN: How many conversations about the terms of surrender?

UNKNOWN: Will you try to (INAUDIBLE) yourself?

UNKNOWN: Has the jury been cleared?

UNKNOWN: Sit down.


COOPER: That is Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on her way home, she said, to get some sleep.

Back with Van Jones, Elie Honig, Michael Moore, and David Urban. Elie, what do you make of what we heard?

HONIG: So, Anderson, what we just saw was very much by the book, as it should have been. Prosecutors really cannot say and should not say anything beyond what they allege in the indictment. Of course, the indictment here was extraordinarily detailed, so she had plenty of room to talk there. But the D.A. was very much by the book. She essentially said, here's the names of the people we charge here.

The charges, couple things that do jump out at me. Number one is, I believe the D.A. said that she's going to give everyone an opportunity until Friday at noon to voluntarily surrender.

And what that means is that each of these defendants, 19 defendants, is going to have a chance to come in and walk into the courthouse. They'll have to arrange it in advance with the DA and staff and come in and do it the easy way. And presumably, if they don't meet that deadline, then the D.A. will have the option, if she so chooses, of sending somebody out to make an arrest.

Now, of course, Donald Trump is going to present extenuate circumstances with his Secret Service detail. We'll see how she negotiates that. The other thing that I think was really interesting, and I think it was Sara Murray, our colleague, who asked the question of, have you had any contact with Jack Smith about potential overlap here? Now, previously, a week or two ago, Fani Willis said, no, I wouldn't know Jack Smith if he was standing next to me.

This time, she refused to answer. She just said, I'm not going to discuss the investigation, although she did discuss the investigation at other points. So, that's a fact that we're all going to need to follow up on.

By the way, nothing inappropriate or wrong if she did talk to Jack Smith. In fact, that's what normally would happen between prosecutors to make sure you're not stepping on each other's toes.

COOPER: Michael Moore, what did you hear?

MOORE: Well, it was -- it was interesting to me to hear her insist that she wanted to try the case within six months. I think she was going to trial 19 of these folks together. I appreciate the fact that she wants to move the case, but that's not going to happen. Uh, there's just no feasible way to do it.

You can't try 19 defendants. You're certainly not going to try them on this kind of indictment with these allegations in six months. She also knows where she falls and she has been last to indict. There are other trials already scheduled.

So, again, this is a case based on what we're seeing here, based on the number of defendants, based on what's going to clearly be a marathon trial, not to mention a marathon jury selection. This case will be well past the election.

COOPER: Yeah. Michael, she said she wanted to try all the defendants together, didn't she?

MOORE: She did. That's what she said.


She wants to try them all together.

COOPER: Is that possible?

MOORE: Well, I mean, it's possible. I mean, you can -- that'd be like trying a football team or something, I guess. But I mean, it's just not going to be an easy task. I mean, think about just the number of lawyers. Let's say each defendant shows up with a couple of lawyers, and they're up and down making objections and motions. It really is going to turn into more of a task than they could ever be accomplished in a six-month period.

It's one of the reasons we talked earlier about the current Rico case that she's prosecuting, that the jury selection has taken more than half a year. And that is very much more limited case with fewer defendants and fewer lawyers in there. So, this case, if she stays on that track, I just don't see any way that the case is going to be tried. And again, he's also -- he is presumed innocent. I think her remarks were perfectly fine, and she laid it out and said what she said. She reminded people that this is an indictment.

He's presumed innocent and the court's going to take that into consideration as they think -- especially if he's winning primary in Republican nominee or whether or not you take (INAUDIBLE) and deprive him of a chance to run for the presidency based on a D.A. (INAUDIBLE) try a case that she investigated for two and a half years because she wants to try it in a six-month period.


MOORE: So, all those things are going to factor in.

COOPER: Van Jones?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, she didn't throw the book at him. She threw the library.


I think the difference between her approach and Jack Smith's approach is really night and day. Jack Smith said, there's a bunch of bad actors here. I'm going after one person, Donald Trump. I'm going to be very, very narrow. She went after, you know, 18 other people. It's a very different approach.

Also, Jack Smith says, hands off Mark Meadows, which signals that Mark Meadows, despite being corrupt and horrible, is cooperating. She puts her hand on Mark Meadows in this. So. you've got a very different player that just stepped on the field with a very different playbook and a very different sense of what justice looks like.

And I think the people I'm hearing from are very, very proud because this RICO stuff, conspiracy stuff, you got kids in neighborhoods across this country that have gone to jail on Rico charges, conspiracy charges. You got kids in jail who were standing outside of a convenience store, their friend went inside, did something stupid, and now everybody they know is in jail.

So, we're very familiar with the book, the library, half of being thrown at us when somebody does something wrong. And so, this is actually what justice looks like. If you say you don't want a two- tiered justice system, this is what not having a two-tiered justice system looks like. You have an aggressive prosecutor. She's going after you, everybody you know, and she's not messing around. So, this is a very different prosecutor and a very different playbook than you saw with Jack Smith.

COOPER: David Urban?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, so, Anderson, earlier I mentioned the document that was posted COOPER: Yeah.

URBAN: -- the indictment document, outline it, and somebody, a reporter, asked her about that. And she said, I can't talk, I can't speak to it. And so, she's had over three hours or however long it's been to come up with an answer as to how that got leaked, posted in advance. It's going to give tons of fuel to lots of different folks.

And the fact that she didn't have an answer for that, I find, is just, it's just mind-boggling. The fact that she couldn't say with certainty it was, you know, it was put up inappropriately, it was, you know, it was leaked, I condemn it, the fact that she tried to just not answer it is going to be a big problem moving forward.

It's going to -- it's going to -- if you look at Twitter right now or social media, sure it has blowing up. And she's going to try -- she's going to be expected to try this incredibly complex RICO case and she can't answer how the document got posted, I think people are going to have a lot of -- a lot of questions.

TAPPER: Yeah. Appreciate it. Let us go back to Jake in D.C. Jakes?

TAPPER: Thank you. Anderson. So, we're going to stick with the document that was released this evening. And let us talk because earlier this evening, Jamie Gangel, you reminded us all that there had been reporting suggesting -- not just reporting, a statement by a judge, Judge Walton I believe was his name, saying that Donald Trump had filed a document that contained false information. And he had been told before he signed it by John Eastman that document contained false information. And that is count 27 of this indictment.

And John Eastman, despite having giving him the advice that the information was wrong, did not escape being charged on count 27. And some of the -- I'm not going to read all of the lies. There are 66,247 underaged people voted illegally. All of these lies on and on and on.


Donald Trump used to say things that are not true and not having there be any consequences. But you can't do that in a sworn document to a court of law.

GANGEL: So, two things, as I recall, this comes out because of the January 6 Committee hearings, because they're trying to get hold of some Eastman emails that they know are out there that he won't turn over. And they go to court. I think it was Judge David Carter.

TAPPER: Oh, Carter, you're right. Carter, I'm sorry.

GANGEL: This is about the crime fraud exception. That is what they're going --

TAPPER: Explain what you mean by the crime fraud exception.

GANGEL: Laura, explain what I mean by the crime fraud exception.

TAPPER: But there is no lawyer. There is no confidentiality.

COATES: There is no confidentiality because the lawyer and the client are engaged in a criminal act, so you don't get the same protections.

GANGEL: So, thank you very much. So, as part of that, Judge Carter does turn over these Eastman emails, and what the emails show is that Eastman is telling Donald Trump, you can't do these things. This is illegal.

We talk a lot about Donald Trump and lawyer shopping. He did not want to hear from his attorney general when his attorney general said there was no widespread election fraud. He didn't want to hear from his White House counsel. He was happy to hear from John Eastman when he had a plan to delay the election and try to get Mike Pence not to certify. But when John Eastman said to him, you can't sign that, it's illegal, he ignored him.

COATES: That could fatally undermine his notion of a divisive counsel defense, right, if he's not only a shopping ram, but he's also being told by these particular players.

Another really important point here, if you all remember, was the Proud Boys trial. They had to break up that trial. There were less than 19 defendants. The notion that you would have a six-month trial involving 19 defendants, 19 separate defense counsel, think of what's going on in the Mar-a-Lago documents case right now.

How many different iterations and attempts to even get people arraigned with separate counsel for co-defendants? What happened is a bit of a pie in the sky notion. I understand there's beauty trial rights, but it's likely not going to happen.

TAPPER: So, you know, one of the things that's interesting in the last few weeks, Mike Pence, the former vice president, and his chief of staff, Marc Short, have gotten, at least from my point of view, noticeably outspoken. They have always been outspoken since this all happened about what happened and how it shouldn't have happened.

But Marc Short was on here today and also last week, making the argument basically that people in the media are missing the story. It wasn't just that he wanted to send some of the electoral -- it wasn't just that Trump wanted Pence to send some of the electoral votes back to the states.

He wanted -- Trump wanted initially Pence to basically throw the whole thing away so that the election would then go to the House of Representatives, where there were 26 states that had Republican majorities and 24 that had Democratic majorities, and where the theory was the House would have elected Donald Trump president. That that was the actual conspiracy.

PHILLIP: And that is documented in this indictment as well, the idea that Trump wanted Pence to basically throw out half of the electoral college votes. And then there's a part in here also in which Eastman, I believe, basically says, look, the point is really just to get it to the judiciary and the chaos of that. They're just not going to want to rule on it because it's a political matter. That alone would delay the certification of the election and allow Donald Trump to remain in office. So, the plan was all of those things, not just the idea that Pence, you know, could just declare Donald Trump the president.

The other thing that's interesting to me that we should also remember, there are a lot of other people who are not household names indicted in this indictment. And those people are accused of actually really serious stuff, including attempting to tamper with ballots, tamper with election machines, the real nuts and bolts of trying to steal the election.

If you were trying to make a movie about how, you know, whatever, Keystone cops would be trying to steal an election, it would be the stuff that is in here. And those people are actually charged with crimes associated with those activities.


PHILLIP: And that's -- it's not just about words. It's not just about schemes. They were trying to mess with the ballots.

TAPPER: And 30 individuals not charged, 30 co-conspirators. Andy McCabe, I'm about to jump off. But what is the most damning thing in here, do you think?

MCCABE: I mean, to me, the most damning thing is the volume. There are so many opportunities for the district attorney to prove this case. And it's -- some of the acts are, you know, really headline grabbing.


The, you know, Donald Trump ordering Johnny McEntee to draft a memo of how to overturn the results of the election. I mean, that's remarkable. I don't think we'd heard that one before.

TAPPER: Johnny McEntee not indicted in this.

MCCABE: Yeah, notably not indicted. And then others are -- there's just a million phone calls and emails.

TAPPER: Last word.

BORGER: If I were -- if I were some of these people who were indicted, I want to find out who was not named and not indicted and figure out who was talking.


BORGER: And what do they have on me? Because she said to people, okay, I have until Friday to come on in and fess up. Well, I'd want to know, okay, which one of my friends and my colleagues who believed in the fake electors, fraudulently, were the ones talking to Fani Willis?

TAPPER: So, I want to thank everyone for staying up late. I'm going to leave so Laura Coats can take my seat. She is going to be anchoring with Kaitlan Collins. So, I want to hand it over to her right now.