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CNN Live Event/Special
Giuliani To Meet With Fulton County D.A.'s Office Tomorrow; Former White House Chief Of Staff Meadows Files Emergency Order To Avoid Arrest In Fulton County; First GOP Debate On Eve Of Trump's Georgia Arrest; Prosecutors In The Trump Case Try To Have Judge Overseeing Case Pay Attention To Potential Conflicts; Mug Shots From Folks In The Trump Case Released. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 22, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Five nations annually take part in a major summit. It is now underway in Johannesburg. The summit includes Russia. But the president there, of course, President Putin, decided not to show up and instead appeared virtually today.
That is actually not because he just felt like working remotely. It's because, had he landed in South Africa, officials there would have had to arrest him under a treaty with the International Criminal Court. Of course, Putin is wanted for committing war crimes in Ukraine. And that is why you only saw him via video today.
Thank you so much for joining me. CNN Primetime with Abby Phillip starts right now. Hi, Abby.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Hey, Kaitlan. Thank you so much.
And good evening, everyone. I am Abby Phillip. Welcome to CNN Primetime.
We have got one big development after another in that Georgia election subversion case against the former president and his 18 co-defendants. And tonight, we are learning that Rudy Giuliani is set to meet with Fulton County District Attorney's Office tomorrow to discuss a bond agreement. That's according to multiple sources. And I will talk tonight with a Giuliani adviser about what is ahead for him.
Plus, with Trump's surrender looming, new bond agreements and last- minute legal maneuvers, how a top member of the Trump White House and a former DOJ official are both trying to avoid arrest tonight. Which of Donald Trump's 18 co-defendants did surrender today? And who reached bail agreements with the Fulton County D.A.?
And we've got new developments in the Mar-a-Lago case as well.
And with 2024 just around the corner, President Joe Biden has named the new White House counsel, as he's facing a special counsel investigation into his own handling of classified documents and the Hunter Biden investigation as well, as House Republicans eyeing a potentially impeachment inquiry. We've got much more to come on all of that.
But we begin tonight with a big night of Trump legal news. Here's -- first of all, there is Mark Meadows, who was Trump's right-hand man in the waning days of his administration, and former top DOJ Official Jeffrey Clark, both of them trying to move their state cases into federal court so that they do not have to surrender by this noon Friday deadline, that, as the first two of the former president's co- defendants surrender today at the Fulton County Jail. John Eastman, the right wing attorney who advised Trump on how to subvert the election, and Scott Hall, a bail bondsmen and a pro-Trump poll watcher in Atlanta.
Now, meanwhile, we have a new filing in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. Special Counsel Jack Smith's office is investigating whether to Trump employees gave a false testimony to a grand jury. We will get to that this hour as well.
Plus, Rudy Giuliani is set to meet with the Fulton County District Attorney's Office tomorrow to discuss a bond agreement. Former New York police Commissioner Bernie Kerik has been working with the former mayor to help him find a Georgia lawyer to represent him in this case.
But to start out tonight, I want to bring in an adviser to Giuliani himself. Joining me now is Ted Goodman. Ted, thank you for joining us.
We did just learn tonight that Giuliani is expected to meet with the Fulton County D.A.'s office tomorrow. How soon do you expect that he will surrender in this case?
TED GOODMAN, RUDY GIULIANI'S POLITICAL ADVISER: Look, I don't know who is giving you that information but what I can tell you is that -- I am not going to talk about the mayor's movements for security purposes, however, discussions are happening. And, of course, there is a deadline for this Friday.
PHILLIP: Yes. And you expect that he will be able to surrender by this Friday? Has he found an attorney to represent him in those bond proceedings?
GOODMAN: The mayor will be appropriately represented every step of the way. And, of course, he intends to follow the law.
PHILLIP: So, Ted, CNN is reporting that Giuliani has gone to Trump personally to help him get help with those legal bills. And those pleas from Giuliani have fallen on deaf ears. He currently doesn't have a Georgia attorney to represent him, according to our reporting, in the full case, not just the bond hearing, but the full case, because of his financial situation. Is that still the case that he is --
GOODMAN: That's not the case. I'm not sure where this reporting is coming from. And so what I can tell you, once again, the mayor is going to be appropriately represented in this case. And anything to the contrary, to me, is just fan fiction.
PHILLIP: Is it not -- are you saying it's not the case that he asked Trump for help with his legal bills or not the case that he has an attorney?
GOODMAN: Well, okay. There is one thing when you say, you know, did he ask the president for help with legal bills, but that's not how you portrayed it, right? Go back to --
PHILLIP: So, did he ask the former president for help with his legal bills?
GOODMAN: Look, I wasn't in the room. I wasn't a part of those discussions. So, I can't speak to what him and the president discussed in private.
PHILLIP: So, you don't know?
GOODMAN: However, again, this isn't -- again, this is fan fiction, this attempt by some -- not all -- by some, to drive a rift between the mayor and the president, for example, when that is simply not the case. So, again, a lot of this is fan fiction and it's just not true.
PHILLIP: Well, you are describing it as fans fiction. But you also say that you weren't there so you don't know. Did he ask for help with his legal bills or not?
GOODMAN: Look, again, the way some are covering this in the media, right, there is an obvious, deliberate attempt to drive a wedge between America's mayor and the president. And, again --
PHILLIP: So, Ted, the let me ask you, does Mr. Giuliani want Trump or his allies to do what they have done for other people involved in legal cases, which is to pay for a lawyer to help him defend himself in some of these cases?
GOODMAN: Look, again, we are talking about, maybe the most consequential federal prosecutor in American history. This is someone who took down the mafia. This is a man who put away some of the biggest criminals on Wall Street. Again, we are talking about someone who understands the law more than maybe anyone in this country, and, again, someone who has been as effective a prosecutor as anyone.
Again, he will be well represented an appropriately represented in these matters.
PHILLIP: I understand what you are saying but that's not what I am asking you. I'm just asking, simply, does he need help paying for his lawyers? And does he want that help from the former president? That's a yes or no question.
GOODMAN: Again, so, I am here to discuss the mayor's background, of course, and to discuss what is coming up here in Georgia. Again, I am not here to discuss private discussions between the mayor and the president. That is not my job. And, again, some of this reporting we are seeing on this matter, right, is intentional and it is being done to try and drive a wedge between the mayor and the former president and to create issues where this isn't one, right?
PHILLIP: Well, look, you are claiming that it is intended to drive a wedge but you are also not denying, based on anything that you might know whether it's true or not.
GOODMAN: Go back to -- how did you originally asked the question?
PHILLIP: Let me ask you about a separate topic here. There is also the special counsel investigation into election interference at the federal level. And I want to just get an update here. Has Mr. Giuliani received a target letter from the special counsel in that case?
GOODMAN: My understanding is he hasn't heard from the special counsel since we have last talked. And so what I can tell you is that he has done the right thing all along, right? This is a man who has been proven right time and time again. And he will be proven right yet again in this matter.
PHILLIP: And is he concerned at all that he might face additional charges in that case?
GOODMAN: Look, we are talking about someone who -- he had multiple hits against his life, right, when he was --
PHILLIP: I know exactly what we are talking about, Mr. Goodman. I know exactly who we are talking. I'm asking you, is he concerned that he is going to be facing charges in that federal case?
GOODMAN: I can speak to what the mayor is thinking inside of his head here. What I can tell you, he knows everything he has done is legal and by the book. He has been proven right time and time again, whether it was the Democrat-Russian collusion hoax, right, whether it was Hunter Biden's laptop, or Joe Biden's foreign corruption.
Time and time again, people have attacked the mayor for these --
PHILLIP: All right. Mr. Goodman, thank you very much for your time. Mr. Goodman, thank you very much for your time tonight. We'll see later this week what happens with Mr. Giuliani. We appreciate it.
I know want to bring in New York Times Congressional Reporter Luke Broadwater, CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel and former Trump White House Lawyer Jim Schultz.
Jim, I want to start with you tonight. This reporting on Giuliani really kind of speaks to something that we've seen with a lot of the people involved in some of these legal issues, which is that they need to find attorneys. Some of them are struggling to deal with their legal bills. Giuliani needs a lawyer with a Georgia license to deal with this. What is your reaction to the fact that, at this late stage, he seems to not have someone to deal with the broader legal peril that he faces in this Fulton County case? JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TURMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: So, it's -- we are getting up until Friday. He doesn't have representation as of yet that we know of. He needs to get representation. I mean, he can't go in there and defend himself, as much as he believes himself to be a great lawyer and, for all the accomplishments we have seen in the past, when he was U.S. attorney years and years and years ago, he still needs a lawyer. He is charged with serious crimes in Georgia and he has been unnamed in an indictment but identified as a co-conspirator in the federal January 6th case.
So, he certainly has lawyers engaged in the January 6th case, or at least he did. He went in and talked with the special counsel at some point in time. He's going to need lawyers in Georgia and he's going to need an attorney in Georgia that can handle this case.
This case is going to be very motion-intensive. It's very going to be very expensive to defend. And I'm certain he's going to want to advance certain motions in this case. You can't do it without a lawyer.
PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, Jamie, look, this is kind of interesting. Because there are so many people who the Trump super PAC is willing to pay their legal fees for. Of all people, Rudy Giuliani is not one of them?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, they are willing to pay some peoples legal fees, mainly Donald Trump has had the advantage of getting his legal fees paid, apparently. But this speaks to a bigger question, which we have known for quite a while. Donald Trump loyalty is a one-way street. And as long as Rudy was getting the job done for him, whatever that was along the way, he kept Rudy close. Now, it has not worked out that way.
What is, I think, crazy about, it from Donald Trump's perspective is, whether it is Rudy Giuliani or Jenna Ellis, who has also come out and asked for -- she has a GoFundMe page -- these are co-defendants. They can turn on Donald Trump. They can flip. That makes it dangerous not to help them out.
PHILLIP: One of the other characters in all this is Mark Meadows, and, Luke, you have a story with your colleagues at The New York Times about his legal maneuverings here. And it's really fascinating because he's appeared to chosen, it appears, cooperate with the special counsel case at the federal level. At the state level, he appears to have not cooperated, was then charge, but is now trying to move that case into the federal system. So, what is Mark Meadows' game plan here?
LUKE BROADWATER, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. Mark Meadows has engaged in what we described as sort of a risky high wire act. He has pretty much stonewalled the investigation in Georgia. When he went in there with the grand jury, he took the Fifth a lot. He didn't cooperate very much. With the feds, though, he took a different strategy. He testified twice before the grand jury. And the second time, now, after a judge's order, he was much more cooperative. He told them some things that were helpful to their case.
And if you read that indictment, as opposed to the Georgia indictment, it says several things that are somewhat positive about Mark Meadows. It is not a clean win for him but he seems to believe his bet was to be more cooperative with the feds. And now he is trying to move that Georgia case federally as well, which he thinks is better terrain for him.
GANGEL: Could I just add something? This is a great piece that --
PHILLIP: Yes, you should read it.
GANGEL: And everyone should read it. It gives a glimpse behind the veil of what we have all been wondering for a long time, which is, what is Mark Meadows doing? And --
PHILLIP: Where has he been also?
GANGEL: -- you have the phrase, we are has he been, quietly cooperating. And that's really at the crux of it.
And there is more that we don't know yet. But I think the bottom line of this, this is bad news for Donald Trump. Because Mark Meadows was his chief of staff, he was in the room, he was on that call with Georgia, he was in the White House on January 6th. He has a lot to tell.
BROADWATER: And our reporting is that he has been refusing to call Trump. And so that has been making people in Trump's inner circle very nervous about what he is up to.
GANGEL: And now that they can re-discovery, they may be even more nervous.
SCHULTZ: And there's no one closer to the inner circle of a presidential administration than the chief of staff, and having him sitting in that room listening to these conversations is very important. But you did see mark Meadows Kind of sprinkled throughout that federal indictment. And if there is one thing, he is trying to get this to federal court because he believes -- his lawyers are telling him that he believes that this case should be taken federally because he was acting on the behalf of the president of the United States, acting in his official capacity, in the course and scope of his special position in order to get this case to federal court.
PHILLIP: Do you think that he is doing that so that if it does get moved to the federal jurisdiction, that it gets superseded by the fact that there is a special counsel investigation that hasn't charged him?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think he is trying to get before a federal judges that will look at the supremacy clause and other things, that are going to look at that position as chief of staff, the president of the United States, and do a thoughtful legal analysis as to whether that supersedes anything that is going on in the state level, because he was serving in his capacity as chief of staff and acting in the course of his own employment (ph). That is where the rubber is going to hit the road in that analysis as to whether he was acting in the course of the scope of his employment (ph).
PHILLIP: So, Jim, I also want to play for you what John Eastman, who was also -- he also surrendered today. He made a statement outside of the jail. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EASTMAN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: It represents a crossing of the Rubicon for our country, implicating the fundamental First Amendment right to petition the government to redress of grievances.
As troubling, it targets attorneys for their zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients, something attorneys are ethically bound to provide and which was attempted here by formally challenging the results of the election through lawful and appropriate means, an opportunity never afforded them or their clients in the Fulton County superior court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Zealous advocacy. I mean, do you buy that as a legal defense?
SCHULTZ: Well, there is a line between zealous advocacy and being involved in criminal activity and furthering that criminal activity. And that is something that John Eastman is going to have to deal with when he goes into the -- when he's trying to push forward with this legal theory, when trying to push forward the attorney-client privilege attacks, that he was just acting as an attorney. There are a lot of facts that are going to cut the other way on that and I think he's going to have an uphill battle with that argument.
PHILLIP: Including people in the White House Counsel basically telling him, hey, get a lawyer because what you're asking to do is basically illegal.
Jamie, this week, actually, as early as tonight, we could see some mug shots here from some of these folks who have been coming in. Trump is expected to surrender on Thursday. What a moment that will be for us.
GANGEL: Absolutely. Look, John Eastman said today that he doesn't have any regrets. I find that hard to believe. John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, these are men, no matter where they are today, they never imagined in their career that they would be facing arrest and arraignment on these felony charges.
And I think that, look, Donald Trump may use his mug shot to try to raise money, because that is the sort of thing that he would do, but for the rest of these defendants, this is really bad news for them.
PHILLIP: Yes. Mark Meadows is trying his best to avoid having to do one, but I suspect he probably will by that deadly on Friday.
Luke, Jamie and Jim, thank you all very much for joining us.
And his boss faced deadly danger at the Capitol on January 6th. Next, Marc Short weighs in on the Fulton County election case and what we can expect tomorrow at that Republican debate.
PHILLIP: Republican presidential candidates are fine-tuning their strategies for a Trump-free debate. Frontrunner Donald Trump is planning to skip the event tomorrow tonight as he prepares for his historic fourth criminal arrest.
Joining me now in Milwaukee is Marc Short, the former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. He is also a senior adviser to Pence. Mark, it's good to see you.
You are in Milwaukee for the debate, and I will get to that in just a moment, but I want to talk to you about these Georgia indictments and the surrenders that we are seeing this week. Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is maneuvering in all of these different ways to avoid some legal jeopardy as it relates to all of this. And he is cooperating on the federal side but to trying to move the case in Georgia to the federal system. But I wonder, do you think that Meadows should face any consequences for his role in what transpired in the lead up to January 6th?
MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, Abby, first, congrats on the new show.
PHILLIP: Thank you.
SHORT: Regarding Mark, look, I don't think any of us relish witnessing what is happening with any of these people who we work with. I think that, in your last panel, I think it is fair to say that Mark was a ringleader of much the events that happened around January 6th. He was somebody who has the president sought to find additional attorneys, who gave advice different than the White House Counsel. And it was very central to the events that happened on that day.
And I think it's often missed in the coverage are the weeks leading up to that, in which the vice president made it clear that he did not think that there was some magical authority vested upon a vice president of the United States, have never been used in 250 years of our republic that allowed him to overturn the election results.
And so there had been a lot of conversations leading up to this. And Mark or central to pulling together many of those who were I think whispering falsehoods to the president here. And so I think that when you look at the federal indictment and he's not in it, I think it is -- others on your previous panel questioned whether or not there has been involvement with Mark with the special counsel's office. But as it relates to what happens in Georgia, I don't think any of us relish seeing our former colleagues go through what likely is in store for them.
PHILLIP: And speaking of ringleaders, we also saw John Eastman, one of the architects of the fake elector scheme. He surrendered today but was unapologetic. He said he was acting on behalf of the former president. He called it zealous advocacy of an attorney. What did you think of seeing him walk into that jail today after all that happened? And, frankly, I mean, you are an adviser to Pence. Pence was physically put in danger as a result of all of this.
SHORT: Sure, he was. And I think Mr. Eastman has had a storied career, (INAUDIBLE) in advancing conservative causes. I think it is tragic to see this is sort of a final chapter likely in his career.
But I think that you listen to his comments and I don't think you have it both ways. It is either, I am advocating for the First Amendment rights to mislead the American people. I am protected to provide falsehoods to the American people under the First Amendment, or it is I have evidence that shows the election was stolen, and if only I could bring that forward, I would prove it.
And to see that's where the president still is despite the fact there had been many recounts and many lawsuits, there's still the claim that I have evidence to prove it was stolen. Well, which is it? It can't really be both. It is either, I'm going to prove the election was stolen or, actually, I have a First Amendment right to mislead and that is what I'm protected by. And it seems like they're trying to argue both at the time.
PHILLIP: So, getting to this debate tomorrow night, can we expect to see former Vice President Pence be very critical of his former boss here?
SHORT: Well, Abby, I think that he has been pretty clear and straightforward to the American people about what his role was. It has been featured prominently in his book and I think that there is probably a different role for everybody in that stage.
I think, for him, he has been a congressman, he's been a CEO of a state, he has advised the president in the Situation Room.
He has enormous experience on the national debate stage. And so I think you'll see that experience come through.
But I think running for president, you know, it is sort of like a full body CAT scan and everything is scrutinized. I think you've seen that scrutiny over Ron DeSantis in the last couple of months that has dragged his numbers down. I think in the last 24 hours, a lot more on Vivek. And I think even on CNN last night, he's recanted and going back and forth and flip-flopping on whether or not he believes 9/11 conspiracies or not. But I'm actually more concerned about things that he hasn't flip- flopped on, such as proposing a 59 percent death tax, which is more than Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren has even opposed, much less the chutzpah to say, I never took the time to vote myself on a presidential election until 2020, but I expect you to vote for me.
So, I think you'll see a lot more of that scrutiny of the other candidates, whereas, I think, Vice President Pence has had that scrutiny on a national stage before.
PHILLIP: What do you make of Trump's decision to schedule his arrest for right after the debate? What message does that send to Republican voters?
SHORT: Well, I think that the reality is that with each indictment, there has been a rallying around the president among Republican primary voters. I think the question is, does that continue or not. And I am not sure that I'm -- if I was in his camp, I would be advocating for the split screen of seeing other candidates on the debate stage and seeing him being arraigned in a courthouse.
I'm not really sure that is the message that is the best for your voters, but I leave that up to them. That's clearly the split screen that they have chosen, the juxtaposition that they want and I think overtime we will see how that plays out.
PHILLIP: Your boss, former Vice President Mike Pence, what is his expectation coming out of this debate? What does he want to accomplish at the end of the day?
SHORT: Well, I think that he's had the experience again at running the state as well as the vice president of the United States. And I think that he knows that he has the experience to be ready on day one for the job. And I think probably he will hopefully hear a lot of different topics covered. I think he's the only candidate that has put forward a plan to combat inflation, to address the energy crisis, to address federalism, and he has several more he's ruling out. And I think he's anxious to actually have a policy conversation as opposed to the conversation about personalities.
And so I think he's looking forward to showing the American people the depth of his policy knowledge and acknowledgement that his experience shows he's ready on day one for, I think, a lot of crises that face this country, Abby, whether or not it is the highest mortgage rates in 21, years or a crisis at the border the likes of which we have never seen before. And I think that he is better positioned to show that on a national debate stage against his primary opponents.
PHILLIP: All right. Marc Short, we'll be looking forward to seeing what comes out of the debate tomorrow night. I appreciate it. Thank you.
SHORT: Thanks, Abby. Thanks for having me.
PHILLIP: And up next, new developments in the Jack Smith investigation, including whether two Trump employees gave false testimony about the Mar-a-Lago case. And it relates to an alleged effort to delete security camera footage. We will discuss that, next.
PHILLIP: New tonight, prosecutors say a Trump employee changed his story in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. According to a new filing from federal prosecutors tonight, an IT worker whose attorney was paid for by Trump's Political Action Committee initially told prosecutors that he didn't remember any conversations about security footage at Mar-a-Lago.
But now, that employee appears to be cooperating with the special counsel's case. Let's discuss this with Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez and former Nixon White House Counsel and CNN Contributor John Dean.
So, Evan, I want to start with you. What are you learning from this filing now? It's interesting that this showed up at this particular stage in the investigation.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, what's happening is the prosecutors are trying to have the judge overseeing this case pay attention to potential conflicts that they say exist because Stan Woodward, who is a lawyer paid for, as you pointed out, by the former president's political operation, he's representing Walt Nauta, who is the former president's aid, close aid, who is also a co- defendant in this case. And he is representing a couple of witnesses who may be called to testify at this trial.
And what emerges in this filing is, it sort of gives an explanation of why prosecutors added those additional charges against the former president and against these other aides. And they say this information came from this I.T. worker. His name is Yussel Tavares. And he was also represented by Stan Woodward, the same Trump-funded lawyer.
And after he made those initial statements saying he didn't know anything about the surveillance tapes, he changed his story after he got a new lawyer, a public defender and said that not only was the president involved, but Walt Nauta and of course Carlos de Oliveira, who was the property manager, implicated all of them in this effort to allegedly delete the surveillance tape. That change in the story is really what made prosecutors bring those additional charges.
PHILLIP: Yeah, that's that superseding indictment. John, I want your take on this because it seems almost you know, it's too cute by half that the Trump team thought, let's just pay for all the lawyers and make this easy on ourselves. But it turns out that kind of backfired in this case. What's your take on what happened here?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it certainly backfired during Watergate. That's how information was fed throughout all the defendants, was through joint defense agreements, and resulted in, if anything, aggravating the cover-up. I don't, I'm not charging as a cover-up here.
They're certainly sharing a lot of information. And that's what the government wants to do here. They're calling the judge on Judge Cannon to have what's called a Garcia hearing. And that means, that's old law. It goes back to 1975, where a defendant like Walt Nauta, is entitled to know in an open hearing or part of it could be ex parte theoretically, what the conflict is and what his lawyer may or may not be able to do in cross-examining witnesses who are against him.
That is not clear at all right now. It's really not a very attractive position for the lawyer to be in because you cannot have a conflict between your clients. And there certainly appears to be a very serious conflict for Stan Woodward with his prior client witnesses and Walt Nauta.
PHILLIP: So, John and Evan, as we are speaking here, we are just receiving now into CNN the first mug shots from the folks who surrendered today. That is John Eastman you're seeing there on the screen, I believe. And that is the first of the two mugshots that we've received. We also have a mugshot here from Scott Hall, who is one of the other co-defendants in this case.
These are the first looks that we're getting of what we could potentially be seeing for several other people this week, including a former president. I mean, it's extraordinary. They look here, pretty much like anybody else who might find themselves in a county jail facing criminal charges.
DEAN: Well, they're allowed to in the case of John Eastman, it appears he wore his suit and tie for his mugshot. Sometimes in the county jail, they have to put on, it depends on if they're being detained, how long they might actually be wearing prison garb. And so, we were told today that he was allowed to wear his suit and tie and obviously, it was a pre-arranged proceeding today where he had his bond set. He was in and out, I think in about an hour.
So, you know this was something obviously that was a lot more smooth than for many other defendants who might go through that -- that facility there in Fulton County.
PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean it's really interesting. I mean, Evan, you know as we're getting these mug shots and you were just talking about the suit and tie, we'd heard earlier in this week that a similar thing could happen for Trump, that he would just sort of be able to keep what he has on, you know, they will do the photo though, because in the federal case and in the New York case, they were like, we know what this guy looks like, we don't need to take a photo.
PEREZ: Right. I think in the New York case, the very big concern was that if they took a photo, it might leak.
PEREZ: And in the federal case, they said, we don't really need it, because after all, he's one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, right? And -- but I think, the reason also is simply, you know, they didn't want the whole spectacle of it, the possibility of it leaking.
In the case of Georgia, Georgia law allows for the release of these photographs for the booking photographs. And so, we anticipated this was going to happen. I'm surprised that it took this long, because I mean, this happened hours and hours ago. And the state of Georgia says that this is releasable pretty quickly.
PHILLIP: Yeah, John, you know, I want to bring you in on this because one of the factors in this Georgia case is that you're not just seeing Trump here. You're seeing all of the people around him. They're alleging a conspiracy. And we're going to see government officials and people -- lawyers who have long legal careers like John Eastman, for example, showing up at a county jail and getting their mugshots released. I mean, put this in the context of all that you've lived through from Watergate on to the present day.
DEAN: Well, conspiracies are favorite crimes for prosecutors because they hold everybody who is in the conspiracy to the overt acts and the crimes of the other co-conspirators. Richard Nixon was an unindicted co-conspirator. As a result, all of the evidence of his tapes was admissible when he was addressing issues related to the Watergate cover-up. That will happen here where Trump will be responsible for people.
I'm sure he probably doesn't even know or never had heard of before this case. So, these are particularly in a RICO case where they're charged with forming an enterprise and I'm sure there are going to be T-shirts with all these pictures on and the RICO T-shirt will be a collector's item one day.
So, it's not a pretty look. And I'm -- some were, I noticed none of those men were smiling, neither of them were smiling. Some people pose well for their mug shots, others not so well.
PHILLIP: That's certainly no laughing matter.
PEREZ: Trump says he wants to fundraise off of this.
PHILLIP: Yeah, and I think some of the reporting earlier in the New York case was that he considered even creating merchandise.
PEREZ: I think they did yeah, briefly a fake one they did and they were trying to fundraise off of it. So, that is possibly what we might see later this week.
PHILLIP: But look, this is very serious and we re talking about jail time here potentially for these individuals. The mugshots are just the beginning of the story for these two and the other co-defendants in this case. Evan Perez and John Dean, thank you very much for doing all of that with us.
DEAN: Thank you, Abby.
PHILLIP: And amid legal troubles for President Biden and his family, the White House is now changing up its top legal counsel, bringing in a familiar face from the Obama administration. So, are they preparing for a big fight? We'll discuss that ahead.
PHILLIP: President Biden tapping a new White House Counsel, his administration announcing today that former White House Attorney Ed Siskel will step into the role next month. He'll succeed current White House Counsel Stuart Delery. Siskel served for nearly four years in the Obama-Biden administration, where he oversaw the Obama White House's legal response to the Congressional oversight and complex challenges like the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. I want to bring in now CNN Senior Political Commentator and Host of the Axe Files , David Axelrod.
David, we're talking about Ed Siskel here tonight, but just before you came on the air, we got those mug shots of two of those co-defendants in the Georgia case at John Eastman and Scott Hall there. It just strikes me that this is going to be some 2024 election cycle. You've got the White House gearing up for what's going to be, you know, 360 degrees of legal battles and also this -- mug shots from the former president's associates.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, Abby, I'm just guessing this isn't the first time you've had that instinct that 24 is gonna be -- gonna be something. No, I -- you know, we are in completely uncharted waters here. I mean, we have a front-running candidate who's so confident that he is chosen to skip the first presidential debate last night, who's got the largest lead that I've seen in a very long time.
No one's ever lost who's had a lead this big in national polls at this point, but who's under four separate indictments, ninety-one felony counts, and is going to be running from arraignment to trials. They'll be, apparently there will be a mug shot of President Trump. I'm sure that it will very quickly, you know, be on T-shirts among his supporters like those old Che Guevara T-shirts, that used to be popular in the 60s and 70s, you know.
So, it is a very strange and unsettling environment, and I think we've got to get used to it because that's the way this whole year is going to roll.
PHILLIP: Yeah, and I mean, it s one that this incumbent president, President Biden, will have to at some point contend with. What is your take on the choice to name Ed Siskel to this White House counsel role? What does it tell you about how this White House and maybe even the Biden campaign is preparing to position themselves going into this next presidential cycle?
AXELROD: Well, look, I think it's a sensible thing to do. Back in 2011, almost at exactly the same time, a couple of months earlier, Bob Bauer left the White House and they named Kathy Rumler. President Obama did -- as his White House Counsel, Kathy was a very tough and experienced federal prosecutor and you know, she basically -- he was going to a campaign.
He knew that the Republicans in Congress were going to use the Congress and the powers of Congress to try and frankly muddy him up and that there would be a hail of subpoenas, you know, whether baseless or not there would be a hail of subpoenas, and you better have a tough and experienced person in charge to oversee that process.
And I think that's exactly what Joe Biden has decided here. Ed Siskel has that experience of being in the White House. He also was the Corporation Counsel for Ron Manuel in Chicago. Very tough and experienced and smart guy. Probably a very smart move.
PHILLIP: Seems -- it seems to indicate also they're not brushing this stuff off, right?
AXELROD: You can't. I mean, even look, we had, you know, we had Benghazi, we had Solyndra, and those were two that I think he was involved in coming out. Not -- neither of them amounted to anything in the end although many, many investigations of various committees were launched and they basically lasted as long as the campaign and when they outlived their usefulness, they disappear.
And so, you know, I think you have to be ready for that. There is a -- there's a public facing piece of this.
But there's also just the process of how do you respond to these subpoenas.
AXELROD: Are they appropriate or not appropriate? What countermeasures should you take? I mean, these are things you want an experienced hand to be there to judge.
PHILLIP: Yeah, a lot of blocking and tackling that goes on behind the scenes especially when it comes to that paperwork. David Axelrod, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
AXELROD: All right, Abby. Good to see you.
PHILLIP: You, too. And we'll be right back.
PHILLIP: In our breaking news tonight, the Fulton County Sheriff has just released the first two mug shots in a wide-ranging RICO conspiracy case against former President Trump and 18 other co- defendants.
The first is John Eastman, the former president's attorney on the left, and also Scott Hall. He's a bail bondsman who is tied to part of that conspiracy, as well. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
PHILLIP: And that's it for me in CNN Primetime. CNN Tonight with Laura Coates starts right now. Laura, as always, quite a lot going on.
LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: You know what's going on right now, Abby? I literally am trying to get my microphone on because I'm so ready to have this conversation. But it's live television, and so what's going to happen is I'm just going to show America how you actually do it.
PHILLIP: This is the behind-the-scenes, real-life.
COATES: I'm telling you right now, this is what happens. Now, look at that. Ready to drop the mic right on the blouse.
PHILLIP: And now, you're ready to give them all the legal, the legal information that they need tonight, Laura.
COATES: As Sammy Davis, Jr. once said, I can only be me. What are you gonna do? Good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates. Nice to see you, Abby.