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Trump En Route To Fundraiser After First Court Appearance On 37 Federal Charges; Trump Pleads Not Guilty To All 37 Federal Charges; Sources Say, House GOP Plotting Multi-Pronged Attack On Special Counsel Probe Of Trump. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 13, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There was a lot of concern going to this, we're going to have a big January 6th again. That did not happen. So, yes.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Everybody, thanks here in New York. Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett pick up our special coverage right now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington along with Erin Burnett in New York.
Happening now, breaking news. Donald Trump is en route to New Jersey right now after being formally arraigned on 37 federal criminal charges related to his alleged mishandling of classified information, the former president of the United States turning himself in today at the federal courthouse in Miami.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And there, Wolf, Trump appeared before a magistrate shortly after his arrival. He pleaded not guilty to all counts against him. Meantime, alongside Trump throughout the entire day was Walt Nauta, his aide and the alleged co-conspirator who also faces charges from the special counsel, Jack Smith.
BLITZER: Erin, the former president is expected to address supporters during a fundraiser at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club later this evening. We're keeping a close eye on that event for any new reaction to the arraignment.
This is a special edition of The Situation Room, the federal indictment of Donald Trump.
Let's get straight to the breaking news, the arrest and arraignment of Donald Trump on 37 federal criminal charges. Our Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz was inside the room for today's proceedings, and CNN's Kristen Holmes is outside the former president's golf club in New Jersey, where we expect him to arrive shortly.
First, let's go to Katelyn. She is joining us from the courthouse in Miami. Katelyn, you watched all the drama unfold inside that courtroom. Walk us through what happened. KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, this 50-minute proceeding, Donald Trump sat slumped over for some of it or his arms crossed, apparently scowling, for much of the rest of it, as he was faced with these criminal charges for the very first time before a judge in federal court and in the same room as Special Counsel Jack Smith and much of his team.
Both of the men were there today. So, it really made for one of these moments that it's extraordinary, with Donald Trump sitting with a plate in front of him saying, defendant, in a hushed courtroom, as the proceedings went on.
Through this proceeding, it was quite procedural, right? Donald Trump needed to say he was not guilty, to enter that initial pleading into the court. His attorney did it for him, Todd Blanche. His attorney stood up and said, we most certainly enter a plea of not guilty.
Donald Trump himself, he was never directly addressed by the judge in a way that required him to stand up and address the judge himself. So, we never heard him speak during this proceeding. But he was given some guidelines. He was there with his co-defendant, Walt Nauta. Walt Nauta has not entered a plea yet at this time because he does not have an attorney yet lined up to represent him or at least allow his attorneys to represent him in the state of Florida.
But both of these men left with some restrictions. They're not going to have to put up any cash bond. They're not going to have any travel restrictions. They don't have to turn over their passports. But they are not able to speak to one another or to any witnesses or victims in this case, potentially that the Justice Department is going to identify to them in a way where they would be discussing the facts of the case themselves. So, a little bit of restrictions that Donald Trump's attorneys, Wolf, initially tried to oppose.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Katelyn. Erin?
BURNETT: All right, Wolf. Well, right now, after the appearance that Katelyn just described, the former president is on the way to New Jersey and he's going to have a fundraiser this evening. That obviously had been planned in advance of this. But now Kristen Holmes has been reporting there's going to be donors, there will be a big speech and she is live inside the golf club in Bedminster where the former president will soon arrive.
So, Kristen, Donald Trump is going to be speaking where you are. I know your sources have been talking to you through the day about who will be there, what he's going to say. What are you hearing?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin. Well, we're just starting to see these guests show up. These are some of his biggest donors, high-dollar donors. And as we've reported, he has seen a lot of high-profile donors defect this campaign cycle. So, these are donors that he really needs.
Now, in addition to that, it's somewhat of a who's who of Trump world. Mike Lindell is here working a crowd, Kash Patel is here, Tommy Tuberville is supposed to be here later today, it's also filled with supporters.
The thing to note is that Trump often does this now. When he has these political speeches, he surrounds himself by people who are going to be cheering for him, who are going to laugh about the lines about Hillary Clinton, who are going to cheer for him when he says the Department of Justice is corrupt.
And that's what we expect to see tonight.
This is now going to play out in the court of public opinion as well as an actual court. That's what Donald Trump wants. He's going to continue to post on social media and he's going to continue to paint this as a, quote, witch hunt and as election interference.
And I just think that it's very important to talk about that election interference piece of it, because while he has said the witch hunt before, he is really stressing this is because he's running for election, running for president in 2024, and he's trying to essentially taint that, saying the Department of Justice is already impacting his election to 2024.
So, something to watch, and, again, we expect him to hit all those same political talking points tonight. One thing I want to note, Katelyn mentioned how he is not supposed to communicate with Walt Nauta, his body man, about this case. Well, Walt Nauta is going to be on the plane home with him from Miami to New Jersey. It seems like a very difficult time, a very difficult task for the two men who work very closely together to not discuss anything about this case. But that is what they have been ordered to do.
BLITZER: All right. Kristen, thank you very much.
Let's get some reaction to all the breaking news from our legal and political experts. And, Gloria Borger, help us appreciate the gravity, the former president of the United States arrested, booked, and pleading not guilty in federal court, and now he's getting ready, he's getting ready to actually speak out at a political fundraiser.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a really historic day, Wolf. We've never had a former president indicted on federal charges. I think it's kind of a solemn day. There may have been kind of a circus atmosphere around the courthouse, but for the country and for history, I think it's a day we look back on in sorrow.
No one wants to see a former president of the United States indicted in a federal court, having to say not guilty. This, of course, comes after he was indicted in a state court on something entirely different. And we also know from our reporting that there may be other indictments coming down the road.
The Justice Department has been criticized by lots of Republicans. And I think that, at some point, a jury is going to have to decide the president's -- the former president's guilt or innocence in all of this. BURNETT: Yes, we'll find out what happens on that historic day as well. Elliot Williams, what do you make of the details we're learning from what happened inside the courtroom?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The details are -- demonstrate that it played out exactly as initial appearances almost always play out in courts across the country, Wolf. The defendant comes in, is advised of his rights, is given an opportunity to plead guilty, and the conditions of his release were set.
What was striking was that the Justice Department did not oppose having Donald Trump and Walt Nauta sort of released to the public, because it's an obvious statement that the most famous person probably on the planet is not a flight risk. And I think it did not benefit -- it would not have benefited the Justice Department to dig in and say they needed to lock the former president up in a cell while he was pending trial.
So, this was as straightforward as a legal proceeding is. There will be time for the big fights, the political fights, and the legal ones that are complicated but these initial appearances are often quite simple.
BLITZER: Carrie Cordero, the former president was told he can't discuss the case with his co-defendant, Walt Nauta. Is that really enforceable given all the time they actually spend together? They're traveling together all the time.
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, they're traveling together, but what I was also thinking about is so much of what former President Trump did when he was president was in public in terms of the things that he did that later were the results of impeachment proceedings. And so even though he is barred from the court from speaking individual to Nauta, he can say a lot of things publicly.
He's going to have these public events and he has a way we've observed over the years communicating things that he wants to get communicated, whether it was regarding impeachment, and now in a much different circumstance, while under federal indictment, that I'll be curious to see how he handles this publicly, if he continues to use his public forum in a way to get around the rules.
BLITZER: Nia, how does Trump's status as the GOP frontrunner factor into all this?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, listen, I think so far we've seen that this has been fairly good for him in terms of his poll numbers. He was already doing much better than his opponents in the polls. He's up by something like 40 points on Ron DeSantis at this point. It will be interesting to see what his opponents say about this.
Primarily, they've been sort of rallying to his defense, saying that this is essentially a witch hunt, it's a hoax and it's an example of unequal justice by the Department of Justice, which, of course, now you have Donald Trump calling the Department of Injustice. [18:10:03]
We'll see what he says tonight, right?
He's sort of framing this as this sort of election interference. I'm sure he'll strike similar tones with that tonight. And we'll see just sort of more broadly what Republicans on the Hill, particularly on the Senate side, did they sort of change their tone in terms of how they start to talk about Donald Trump?
But he is in a commanding place in terms of running for the nomination. It will affect, obviously, when this hearing or when the court appearances in the trial actually happened. Is it going to be next year? Probably not, because that might be too close to the actual voting.
So, listen, I think he clearly, I think, feels sad about this moment, because who wouldn't? You're indicted on federal charges. But in terms of his political prospects, they're the same, which is to say, they're fairly good.
BORGER: But I think some -- you're beginning to see a little bit of the cement cracking with some of the members of Congress. I mean, Lindsey Graham is a big defender of the president, came out today and talked about self-inflicted wounds here. And you've seen Tim Scott, running for president, talking about how the behavior was not acceptable, same thing with Nikki Haley, calling it reckless.
They always say the Justice Department's been weaponized. That's the first part. Then they're walking the fine line. And the second part is, well, if this is all true, this isn't acceptable. And maybe that comes after the former attorney general, Barr, came out and said over the weekend, you know what, this really isn't acceptable. Maybe that gave them a little bit permission.
BLITZER: Juliette Kayyem, how complicated is it for a case like this when so much of the key evidence involves highly classified, very, very sensitive, top secret intelligence?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, there's a process in court in which there will be -- this is what Elliot was talking about. There are fights to come and they are legal fights over what is going to be disclosed in court, what the judge is going to see and what the judge is going to demand that the prosecutors allow to be seen. So, we're going to have a fight over almost every piece of evidence.
This is the classified processes that protect the information. We do that because it is very likely there is information that was found at Mar-a-Lago that, in fact, is not included in the indictment because it was so essentially sacred that the court -- that the prosecutors were willing to say, we have enough already this stuff we really need to protect.
And this is going to be followed not just by our enemies, I keep saying, it's our allies. We live in a world in which we are sharing classified information to figure out what these global threats are. None of these threats are domestic. We have terrorism and we have threats from abroad, we have common enemies with our allies, like Russia and North Korea. The sharing of intelligence and what their intelligence agents are acquiring and accumulating is shared with us. They're going to be following this.
What might have gotten out of their intelligence and what might have been violated in terms of human assets? That's the biggest fear here. We can't draw a line between what was found at Mar-a-Lago and whether someone got killed because they're an agent for us or a human asset within, say, a terror group. But why are we gambling? Why are we even asking this question? He was the president of the United States. And that's the point that we just have to keep making.
BLITZER: So, Elliot, what are the next likely steps for the Trump legal team as we go forward right now? What do you expect to be going on, especially behind closed doors?
WILLIAMS: Oh, sure. A lot of motions are going to be filed, as is the president's right as a litigant. So, number one, you hear the word discovery. That's where the prosecution has to provide information in their files to the defense. Anything that might be seen as exculpatory that sort of makes the case worse for them, they have to turn over by law to the defendant, so things like that.
Now, this open question of how much of this classified material can be shown to a jury will be an incredibly complicated legal fight. And, in fact, even things like the classified -- the unclassified cover page and summary, whether you can show that to a jury instead of a document, is a big legal fight that requires a lot of expertise from attorneys, a lot of expertise from judges, and that's going to take some time between now and whenever.
BORGER: And how about Evan Corcoran's testimony, his former attorney, or his -- I think he's still his attorney, correct?
CORDERO: Well, that will be another matter that they'll definitely continue to challenge. But I would just emphasize, as Juliette and Elliot were saying, that there are never national security cases that are prosecuted that go super smoothly. It always, whenever there's classified information involved, and in this case they've got the 31 documents, that I do expect that they would have coordinated with the intelligence community in advance to be able to include them in the indictment, but national security prosecutions just are complicated and more complex because of the information involved.
HENDERSON: And I'm sure if you're Donald Trump, you're going to want to delay, delay, delay, delay as long as you can.
WILLIAMS: But even in a perfect world where a defendant is not being difficult, this is just a complicated area of law, and I don't say that lightly.
KAYYEM: Right. And also, look, classification is just a status that the government decides to put on it. So, even if the president could argue this shouldn't have been classified or I unclassified it, let's just give him the benefit of the doubt, it is patently absurd to think that something that is unclassified when it used to be a secret document should then be just left willy-nilly, right?
Trump is giving us only two options, it's either classified or unclassified, and if it's unclassified, I get to share it. Nations have secrets and they have secrets that presidents know. And the idea that a former president can't get to that, right, can't understand that, is really what this is about.
HENDERSON: And I think sort of the photos, right, the bathroom photos on the stage, there's one photo of documents spilling out of a storage closet. Those are the kinds of things that, A, I think are very memorable to the public, and I think damaging to his case as well.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, everybody stand by. Don't go too far away. We have a lot more to discuss. We'll also get reaction to Donald Trump's historic arraignment. We'll get reaction from Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Stay with us. This is a special edition of The Situation Room.
BLITZER: We're back with a special edition of The Situation Room. Just hours after his arraignment on 37 criminal charges, former President Donald Trump is already fundraising off the special counsel's case against him. In an email to supporters, Trump called himself, and I'm quoting now, an innocent man while appealing for campaign cash.
Meanwhile, the arraignment is drawing some strong reactions from Republican lawmakers. Let's check in with CNN Capitol Hill Reporter Melanie Zanona, who is joining us right now.
Melanie, I know you have some new reporting on how Trump supporters in both the House and Senate are making moves to respond to this case following Trump's arraignment today.
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: That's right, Wolf. Republicans in both chambers have been planning a multi-pronged strategy to defend the former president and undermine the findings of the special counsel, even as they mostly refuse to engage on the substance of those charges.
One area where House Republicans are looking at using is the upcoming spending bill season in order to target DOJ and FBI, and specifically there have been calls on the right to defund the special counsel's office.
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene told me and my colleague, Annie Grayer, that she brought that idea up with Speaker McCarthy in a meeting today. She also said she raised the idea with former president Donald Trump over the weekend, and she said he was very supportive of that proposal, although we should note it would go nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
And then the other area where Republicans are looking to target DOJ and FBI is through oversight. House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan is considering a subpoena to try to force Jack Smith, the special counsel, to either turn over documents or testify about his ongoing probe, although that would very unlikely succeed.
And then, finally, over in the Senate, you have J.D. Vance who announced today that he is going to be blocking all DOJ nominees from Biden going forward in retaliation for how the agency has been dealing with Donald Trump, although that is likely to have a minimal impact because of the number of nominees that are actually in the pipeline.
But, Wolf, all that really amounts to an extraordinary effort to intervene in an ongoing criminal probe. And not everyone in the GOP is on board. Just take a listen to Senator Lisa Murkowski.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): We cannot take this lightly. So, to kill the messenger does not account for the gravity of the indictment that is out there. We have to take this seriously. And I don't care whether you are a Trump supporter or a Trump opposer. You have to take this seriously. So, to just say that whoever has delivered the message needs to be taken out, I'm sorry, we don't do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZANONA: And, meanwhile, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell has continued to remain silent about this federal indictment, which is a stark contrast to his counterparts in the House, some of whom have been hearing from the former president directly. He has been calling up some of his allies, we're told, and even circulating talking points, asking them to defend him. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Melanie, thank you very much. And, again, some of those tweets ahead of it from some of his allies in Congress, eye for an eye, using the word, war, all was a setup to what we saw today.
My panel with us, we've got attorney, strategists, journalists, Trump adviser -- former Trump adviser, I'm sorry, Stephanie Grisham. Let me start with you on that.
Look, the loyalists in Congress have gotten in line, right, and aggressively so, when we hear that eye for an eye, we hear the word, war. Is this going to stay that way? Is Trump going to retaliate against these individuals if he doesn't get exactly what he wants?
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Oh, absolutely. You know, even talking about disseminating talking points, that was so -- that's what we did in the White House for both impeachments. We gave all his loyalists on the Hill talking points and said -- told them what to say to defend him. I want to make it clear to people, I don't know that people understand maybe that -- I want to be clear, they're not being loyal to Donald Trump. They're being loyal to themselves because they want to stay in power, and right now, that means supporting Donald Trump at all costs. Because without Donald Trump, they go back to being obscure extremists who just want revenge and who are decisive, which is very evidence by the reporter saying the plans they have laid out.
So, I just think that's important. It's not about Donald Trump. I think that if the tide started to turn and the polls went down, these people would turn on a dime on Trump.
BURNETT: It's a good point, right, that we're misusing the word, loyalty, in some contests.
Scott, let me ask you about what's happening right now, right now getting ready. He's going to land in New Jersey. He's going to go to his golf club, pre-planned fundraiser, but he's going to have this little meeting with donors.
Interesting, Kristen Holmes was reporting who's there, Mike Lindell, Tommy Tuberville. I understand there's going to be some other donors. We do want to know who they are because a lot of them have fled, but he obviously have some big ones still remaining. But this is his echo chamber tonight.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. And for Trump now, his defense is the campaign. His campaign is his defense. This is -- it's all the same now. And a big part of Trump's campaign has always been the small dollar donors. Tonight, it's about the big dollar donors, the bundlers, people who can raise money in huge amounts the traditional way. So, this is something that's a little bit new to him because he's thrived over the years on being sort of the most prolific small dollar donor candidate in our party.
I expect tonight to hear him lay this out in very stark terms. We've heard the language, this is the final battle. This is not going to be a campaign --
BURNETT: It's biblical.
JENNINGS: It's not a speech or a campaign about taxes and trade and immigration and this and that. This is, basically, they're coming for me because they're coming for you. This campaign is about keeping our government and our country from collapsing, and I'm the first and last line of defense. I mean, it is that stark for him now.
And the question for Republican primary voters is going to be, do you want to campaign about one person and his apocalyptic view of the future or do you want to campaign about governing? And we'll find out.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think people see it that way, though. I think there's much more of identification with him or him establishing himself as their avatar and/or proxy. And this will be almost a bizarre narrow version of the President Biden speech about democracy going into the midterm elections. That also laid out in stark terms what the president believed was at stake in the midterms.
And that's just brings me to one other thing, this is the context for this moment. Yes, you have all these House Republicans who are, as she said, trying to maintain power.
CORNISH: But, remember the last election, he was not helpful to these candidates. He was not helpful down ballot, so to speak.
So, I do think while we won't see people wobble openly, one of the arguments from candidates like Nikki Haley, et cetera, is, we've been losing under his watch.
BURNETT: Right. So, then if the campaign is about the case or the case is about the campaign, as he's going to make it, Ryan and David, let me just ask you about where we are, what do you make of what Katelyn Polantz is reporting happened in that courtroom? She was there. So, she saw him, right? She's saying he was slumped over most of the time and scowling. Now, maybe the latter does not surprise anyone, but the sort of poor posture does, honestly.
RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL TO THE GENERAL COUNSEL OF DEFENSE DEPARTMENT: I think, in some ways, the weight of the case might make any human being slump over. This really is an overwhelming case that he's facing. And in a certain sense, I do think that his best advantage is time. Can he run out the clock? Because it's really trying to evade justice. I think this is one of the strongest cases the Department of Justice has ever brought, and the Espionage Act, so --
BURNETT: That's incredible, yes.
GOODMAN: Yes, the only question really is could he find a juror that is not going to apply the law to the facts? Can he keep Aileen Cannon as the judge so that she might be very favorable to him? But, otherwise, he's in deep trouble.
CORNISH: And keep attorneys that don't end up becoming material witnesses. Do his ex-attorneys spend all their time on media tours? These things can affect like the context of how he behaves.
BURNETT: Right, right.
CORNISH: Also about the fundraiser, follow the money. Are we going to see more donors defect? If they do, where do they go? The ones who stay, are they going to make it public? The ones who come back, are they going to say that? Are people signing up to pay legal bills or to fund a campaign?
BURNETT: And that's a crucial thing, because everyone should be clear, right, Trump is not paying these legal bills. He's not known for doing that, but he's not doing that. The PAC is paying. And who will pay Walt Nauta's legal bills?
David Oscar Markus, I know obviously you're a prominent defense attorney in Florida. Reportedly, you turned down a request to join Trump's legal team, and I know you're not going to comment on that. But to the point Ryan was just making, right, that this is all about speed, Chris Christie said last night, right, he's a former prosecutor, there's no reason why this couldn't be won done by the winter if you wanted it to be. How long do you see this happening or how quickly do you see it playing out on the flip side?
DAVID OSCAR MARKUS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sure. Thanks, Erin. So, I disagree with Chris Christie and respectfully disagree with Ryan. This is not about running out the clock. This is about being able to prepare for a trial.
The criminal justice system is set out to sort of crush defendants and we have some protections. The Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant, not a prosecutor, right to speedy trial. So, when Jack Smith is saying, we want a speedy trial, prosecutors don't have a constitutional right to a speedy trial, only defendants do.
And Donald Trump, just like any other defendant, should be able to prepare for this trial. And it's going to take a long time. This is a complicated, complicated case. And he should have the right, just like anyone else, to be ready for trial. It's not about delay. It's about preparing.
BURNETT: All right. So, can I just ask the question? This is just -- I'm just going to play dumb here for a second. Why is it so complicated? I understand it's complicated when it comes to documents that he disseminated, is the jury going to be able to see them and the national security implications of that, I get that that's complicated.
But the case itself and what happened and having somebody on tape moving boxes and time stamps and texts and conversations is not complicated. So, what am I missing, Ryan?
GOODMAN: It's not complicated. It's pretty open and shut. The evidence that they have is overwhelming. The amazing fact that they have the correspondence between and communications between the defendant and his own lawyer makes it --
BURNETT: And they have dissemination on tape.
GOODMAN: They have the -- and full audio recording in which the defendant is narrating his crime and saying, I do not have the right to do this, you should not be seeing this, I can't declassify, this is highly secretive. I've never seen an espionage case like that. The evidence is overwhelming.
So, what can they try to do in terms of motions before the trial begins? A big one is about the classified documents. Will they remain secret? Will the government be able to just summarize them? But the government is very used to this, as long as there's also a judge that is kind of on board to manage the procedure in a timely manner, and I think things can move at a pretty good pace.
BURNETT: And, David, let me give you the final remark on that, what happens here with Aileen cannon? I understand that obviously is also a complexity here in terms of when her role on this or doesn't have a role on this is determined?
MARKUS: There's no chance Judge Cannon recuses. She's going to be the judge on the case. And what Ryan talked about is very complex, about a lawyer piercing the attorney-client privilege and being able to play attorney-client tapes in a courtroom, that is a complex issue that's going to require a lot of litigation and motion practice.
BURNETT: For sure. I mean, but just to say, David, even if you took Evan Corcoran out of it, you still have obstruction, conspiracy and dissemination, even without Evan Corcoran.
MARKUS: Right, but the government is not going to take them out of it. They're going to want to keep him in it. And so there's going to be huge fights about that that are going to take time. And we don't want to rush. Why do we want to rush someone who's not ready? We want to be able to give defendants time to prepare.
BURNETT: All right. Well, all of you, thank you, and please stay with me.
Just ahead, more on how the Trump-appointed judge overseeing the case will decide on some of the thorny questions before and during the trial.
This special edition of The Situation Room continues after a quick break.
BURNETT: We are following the historic arrest and arraignment of Donald Trump at a courthouse in Florida, the first time a former president has ever faced federal criminal charges, all of which Trump pleaded not guilty today.
Paula Reid is live outside the courthouse in Miami. And, Paula, as you see this playing out, we were having this conversation on how long it might take, what motions may happen, the judge's role, how do you see this playing out and what impact could the court-appointed judge, Aileen Cannon, have?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Erin, she could have an enormous impact on this in so many ways. But let's just focus on a few. Let's talk about timing and jury selection and the evidence that that jury will eventually get to see.
We know the first tension here is going to be timing. Special Counsel Jack Smith said last week that he wants to make it clear he is looking formal a speedy trial. But former President Trump and his lawyers, they have every incentive to try to delay this as long as possible, hopefully until after the election.
And a judge, through decisions big and small, can really have a big impact on how long it takes a case to get to trial, everything from how long it takes them to make decisions to how much time they put between various hearings. And there is really no oversight of that. She could have a huge impact there.
Then when it comes to jury selection, as you might imagine, it will be difficult to assemble a jury that has no opinion of the former president, but a judge has a lot of sway over who gets dismissed for cause and can make things potentially very challenging for prosecutors in the jury selection process.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, evidence. Special Counsel Jack Smith was very aggressive in pursuing evidence, getting around executive privilege, attorney-client privilege, but all those battles were fought in court in D.C., before a different judge. And Trump's attorneys, a source close to the legal team tells me they're going to try to challenge all of those questions again in front of Judge Cannon. So, even if they don't win on the merits, that still has the win for Trump of delaying this that much longer. Wolf?
BLITZER: Paula Reid in Miami, thank you very much.
Joining us now, Congressman Jamie Raskin he's the top Democrat on the house oversight committee and a former member of the January 6th select committee. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Delighted to be with you.
BLITZER: A historic day indeed.
Trump has been ordered, as well know, not to communicate with his co- defendant, Walt Nauta, or other potential witnesses out there. Are you concerned about possible witness tampering?
RASKIN: Well, we certainly saw a lot of those kinds of conversations taking place in the January 6th committee. And so I understand that the judge in the documents case has ordered Trump not to communicate with other witnesses and prospective witnesses in the case. And I think that that's why. The reason courts do that is they don't want people coordinating their stories, revising the facts of what actually happened, but they want people to testify to what they actually know themselves.
BLITZER: So, you are concerned that Trump could engage in witness tampering?
RASKIN: Well, I mean, if past is prologue, you know, we certainly saw during the January 6th committee hearings efforts to influence witnesses in different ways and to encourage witnesses to do certain things and discourage witnesses to do others.
So, look, I think it's a natural anxiety that courts should have in any case. And that warning lies in any criminal prosecution where a defendant is told, don't mess with the witnesses.
BLITZER: Do you think it's still possible for the Justice Department to get Walt Nauta, the co-defendant, the valet to Trump, to flip, cooperate, potentially try to get a reduced sentence?
RASKIN: I mean, I've got no idea. I don't know Mr. Nauta, and I don't -- you know, so I -- no particular insight into what he would do. I will say that there's certainly lots of people around Donald Trump who have gone to prison or jail or been convicted, like Paul Manafort, like Michael Stone, like Allen Weisselberg, like Michael Flynn.
So, there are certainly lots of people who have taken a hit from one angle of vision for Donald Trump. And so that's something that, you know, he would have to consider if he's willing to go to jail for Donald Trump. Is Donald Trump willing to go to jail for him?
BLITZER: Let's talk about Judge Aileen Cannon, who will oversee this case down the road. Her previous pro-Trump ruling, as you well know, was reversed. Should she recuse herself given her background?
RASKIN: Well, the standard for recusal is whether a reasonable person would have reason to question the neutrality and objectivity of the rulings and whether the particular judge's own credibility has been undermined by things they've done in the past. And Aileen Cannon was overruled in a series of strong pro-Trump rulings when he went in to challenge the search warrant in his home. And she was overruled by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
So, there's at least the suggestion that she should think about it. I don't know what all of the procedures are within the court for dealing with that. But I think whoever is the ultimate decision-maker would have to consider what her track record is.
BLITZER: How much influence will she have over the course of this trial?
RASKIN: Well, a district court judge, the trial judge has tremendous influence over everything, from the timing of motions to the timing of the trial, to ruling on different kinds of suppression motions related to the evidence in the case. So, the trial judge is an absolutely indispensable figure. But as Judge Cannon learned last time around, a trial judge can be reversed by an appellate court. And it's not free rein just to express your own personal convictions.
BLITZER: You speak not only as a member of Congress but a former professor of constitutional law at the American University Law School here in Washington. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in. We'll continue this conversation.
RASKIN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we'll also get reaction to Donald Trump's arraignment from someone with deep experience investigating the former president. Cy Vance, the former Manhattan district attorney, joins us right after the break.
BURNETT: All right. Welcome back to this special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.
Former President Donald Trump on his way right now to New Jersey where he's going to be delivering an address, a speech, from his Bedminster golf club after he was arraigned on criminal charges in the classified documents case for the DOJ.
Joining me now, Cy Vance, former Manhattan district attorney who led investigations into Donald Trump's alleged hush money payment to Stormy Daniels in 2016 and the Trump Organization finances as well.
So, Cy, obviously not guilty, the plea, on all 37 counts. You've read through this.
CY VANCE, FORMER MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I have.
BURNETT: How strong is it? Even if you take some things out?
VANCE: Well, the indictment presents itself in black and white as a very strong case. Even if you take out the attorney-client privilege material from Mr. Corcoran, which is alluded to in the indictment, you still have statements by the president orally, on texts, with Mr. Nauta communicating, you have the locations of documents. There's -- this is going to be a case that isn't going to be external witnesses. This is going to be a case that is largely proved by Trump's inner circle.
And that's where I think the defense has a real challenge in terms of how do you -- how do they defend the former president, given that so much of the evidence comes from his inner circle in a way that hasn't happened before.
BURNETT: Right, right, and even himself, right? A national security document, war plans, right, he's talking about it.
So you mentioned Walt Nauta, right, the alleged co-conspirator who was with Trump in court, wasn't able to plea because he doesn't have representation yet.
Okay, but he was with Trump last night, he rode with him to the courthouse, he traveled back to -- he's on the plane with him now. He went to the restaurant, Cuban restaurant, after the arraignment. The point is they're joined at the hip.
I know that Wolf and Congressman Raskin were talking about whether they're going to talk about the case. It seems absurd to think they're not going to at some point, even though they've been prohibited from doing that.
But do you think Walt Nauta will flip on Trump? And, Cy, the crucial question is, does it matter? VANCE: I'm not sure it matters. I think the evidence is significantly
strong without him. And I don't see the government necessarily as trying to -- looking to flip him to make their case. But I think it's going to take time to play out.
Trump has folks around him that are enormously loyal. We saw that with Mr. Weisselberg.
VANCE: The New York County case. And for right now, they're together, but there's -- as this thing goes forward, there's going to come a time when, if Mr. Nauta wants a resolution, he's going to have to put his hand.
BURNETT: And, just to be clear, when you're looking at this being tried in Florida, is there any time at which that -- there's an expiration date? Or does he essentially have all the way until the end to say, wait a minute, I'm suddenly feeling like I'm looking at prison time?
VANCE: There's two factors. One is the prosecution's feelings about it. They may not be interested in pleading him at all. I really wouldn't know. I don't think they need to have him, as I said.
And also the judge, federal judges are very hands off when it comes to talking about plea resolutions, but, nonetheless, she's going to ask about how can we get this case in simply on time, clearly? And I'm sure the conversation will come up in court as to how many people are going to be at trial.
BURNETT: All right, all right. And obviously, we don't know whether she'll remain the judge. There's those questions as well. But as I mentioned, right, you led investigations into the alleged hush money payments, which the district attorney here in New York, Alvin Bragg, chose to charge, as well as Trump Organization finances.
So, the attorney general here in New York, Letitia James, actually says that this indictment is going to have a major impact on her investigations and on all of the other ones, including ones in which he's indicted like Bragg, and ones he is expected to possibly be indicted. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: I believe that my case, as well as D.A. Bragg and the Georgia case, will unfortunately have to be adjourned pending the outcome of the federal case. I know there's going to be a flood -- a flurry of motions to dismiss, discovery issues, all of that. So it really all depends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Do you agree? Does this case take precedence over all the others, they essentially go on hold?
VANCE: I think Ms. James has a civil case, I think a very strong and well-pleaded case. But because it is a civil case, I think it will take a backseat to a federal criminal indictment.
That said, judges have to establish comity with each other. I don't think the federal judges are going to run roughshod over New York judges, whether it's Judge Merchan or anyone else. But I think the former president's going to want in New York to slow things down to move this past the election cycle. I think the new federal indictment is likely going to be viewed by the public and the federal judges as more significant we've got to move it forward.
So I think that's going to go first. What happens in Georgia we'll have to wait and see for this summer.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Cy Vance. I appreciate it.
Coming up, we're going to have a closer look at Donald Trump's current team of attorneys, which obviously is still taking shape even as he faces his greatest legal peril yet.
BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump's legal team is in limbo even as the federal proceedings against him get underway. The former president still searching for a star attorney to take his case to trial.
Our Brian Todd is on the story for us.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Appearing in court with the former president today, attorneys Todd Blanche and Chris Kise, two lawyers seen as well respected, but maybe not the dream team Donald Trump seems to be looking for.
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What's missing on this team is a lead trial lawyer who is accustomed to standing up in front of Florida injuries and leading the defense of high-profile criminal cases.
TODD: Blanche is expected to be the lead attorney in the Mar-a-Lago documents case for now. But he's only been on Trump's legal team since April when he was hired in the Stormy Daniels hush money case in New York.
Chris Kise is a former Florida solicitor general who's closely tied to some of the state's top Republican politicians. He was brought on to handle the Mar-a-Lago documents case late last year, but reportedly had his role reduced fairly quickly by team Trump.
EISEN: I think he's having difficulties because he's a challenging client, and just the turmoil in the team accounts for that. TODD: Blanche and Kise were tapped to appear with Trump in court
today after Trump spent most of Monday scrambling to add lawyers to his team, interviewing potential candidates at his Doral Resort outside Miami.
In a sudden and unexpected move, two of his top attorneys in the Mar- a-Lago case, Jim Trusty and John Rowley, left the legal team last Friday. Trump said he was removing them. They said they resigned.
Last month, Jim Parlatore, an attorney who had played an important role on Trump's legal team and the documents case quit. Parlatore told CNN it wasn't because of the case or the client but because Trump aide Boris Epshteyn, who's coordinating the legal team, undermined him.
TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Had really done everything he could to try to block us, to prevent us from doing what we could to defend the president. He served as kind of a filter to prevent us from getting information to the client and getting information from the client. In my opinion, he was not very honest with us or with the client on certain things.
TODD: In response, a spokesperson for Trump told CNN, Parlatore's statements regarding current members of the legal team are unfounded and categorically false.
Infighting and chaos in Trump's legal circles is nothing new, analysts say, and it's often due to a client who's notorious for not listening to legal advice.
EISEN: You have a client who is very strong-headed, who expects things from his lawyers that they cannot deliver, who after his many decades of entanglement with the legal system, often appears to believe he knows better than his lawyers.
TODD: Norm Eisen points out, there are many potential pitfalls ahead for any attorney who represents Trump in any of these cases, including the possibility that the attorneys themselves might become the subject of prosecutorial attention as two of Trump's attorneys have been, one of his current lawyers Evan Corcoran, and former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen who was indicted and served jail time -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting, thank you very much.