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Third Defendant, Carlos De Oliveira, Added In Trump Mar-a-Lago Classified Documents Case; More Charges Against Trump In Special Counsel's Mar-a-Lago Documents Case; Indictment Shows Trump Team Tried To Delete Mar-a-Lago Surveillance Footage; Court Docs: Trump Charged With Possessing Classified Document Shown In Recorded Bedminster Meeting. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 27, 2023 - 18:00   ET



KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: There was a lot of interests from the special counsel's office in their investigation related to those surveillance tapes, how they were handled, how people were approaching them, how people wanted to maintain them. But that really never became something that we read about in that first indictment that came in the Trump case.

And so that is what I'm waiting to see at the very least. But we do know as of right now that there's just this third defendant added and we are waiting for more to appear in the court record. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, stand by. Kristen Holmes is getting information. I understand you have a statement from Trump.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we do. This is from a spokesperson, Steven Cheung. He says this is nothing more than a continued desperate and flailing attempt from the Biden crime family and their Department of Justice to harass President Trump and those around him. He goes on to say deranged Jack Smith knows that they have no case and is casting about for any way to salvage their illegal witch hunt and get someone other than Donald Trump to run against crooked Joe Biden.

Now, I do want to give a little bit of context here. Obviously, they are saying that this is an attempt to get Donald Trump. We have heard all of these words time and time again. They are calling Jack Smith deranged even though lawyers have asked Donald Trump not to do that, not to speak out about the special counsel.

However, there was a lot of conversation going on for months about whether or not Carlos was going to be charged inside of Trump's circle. They were under the impression that they believe that he could be a defendant months ago when they actually were indicted, when Trump was indicted and with Walt Nauta for the documents case.

So, it is interesting, this is something that they had been expecting. They have also been talking to other advisers, others lawyers about if there's any other shoes to drop here. But they did learn about this today, essentially at the same time all of us did. They were trying to figure out exactly what was going to happen today. They were on pins and needles trying to read these tea leaves. And now they have learned that it is Carlos.

Carlos is somebody who, again, is represented by a lawyer that is paid for by Trump's orbit there, so somebody that they have been watching carefully, trying to take care of essentially in this way when it comes to legal matters.

So, again, trying to find out exactly what they feel about all of this, I have been reaching out to several of these advisers, several of these lawyers here trying to get a sense of what exactly they think this means for the former president's case, as well.

BLITZER: Yes, Carlos De Oliveira, a maintenance worker down there at Mar-a-Lago.

I know that Paula Reid is getting new information, as well. Paula, what else are you learning?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we learned that this is not just going to be adding a third name to this criminal case. We expect additional information in the coming moments. We're watching live the criminal docket. But it's unclear what exactly that will look like, if the former president will face additional charges.

But as we wait for this additional information we expect to come in any minute, let's talk a little bit about who Carlos is. As Evan and others have noted, he is a maintenance worker down at Mar-a-Lago, and he's become really a central player in trying to put together exactly what happened to these classified documents. He has been seen on surveillance footage by investigators helping Walt Nauta, the co- defendant there, one of Trump's close ever aides, move boxes that allegedly contain classified materials.

Now, he also, according to our reporting, took photos of the location of the surveillance cameras, and that's really significant, Wolf, because the surveillance footage has become a big issue, a big question for investigators. We know that several witnesses have been asked whether investigators have actually been provided with all of the surveillance footage, if there was any effort to keep it from them, if anyone tried to tamper with it. There were also questions from investigators about conversations between people like Walt Nauta, potentially Carlos, and security folks up in New York.

So, there's clearly been a focus on whether they have been given, the investigators have been given all of the surveillance footage that is relevant to their investigation. And the fact that not only is Carlos on this footage, but also that he was one of the people taking photos of exactly where the cameras were, this is all very significant.

We know that they've been continuing the investigation down in Florida, seeking additional evidence, even sending an additional target letter to someone who we haven't mentioned here. So, the fact that there could be additional charges, the fact that they've added another defendant is not surprising, Wolf. We're going to be looking very closely at what additional charges are added here and if, of course, the former president is facing additional charges.

BLITZER: Stand by. Kaitlan Collins has been working her sources. You're getting more information. What are you hearing?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: We're still trying to figure out more about this. I mean, we haven't learned more information in the docket about why Carlos has been added. He is someone who is very well-known among the Trump legal team and people at Mar-a-Lago. He used to park cars at Mar-a-Lago. He's an aide who works there and does -- has a lot of different odd jobs that he did.

But there were questions when the Trump indictment on this came down if he would be named as a co-defendant, what they found.


I don't think it was totally clear what was going to look like. But then when it came out, we had conversations with Trump, legal attorneys and legal team about this, of whether or not he was someone who would be named and why he would not be named.

He was questioned extensively by investigators here, just as Walt Nauta was and other employees at Mar-a-Lago. I mean, they questioned everyone at Mar-a-Lago. But Carlos was one of them because he had conversations with Walt Nauta about moving boxes. He was the one who put and fitted that room for a lock when members of Jay Bratt, other DOJ prosecutors, came down and told the Trump team to secure the room further.

So, he's certainly someone who has a role in the sense that he was up and close personal with all of these events that transpired. I think the question is why is he being added now, and what that signifies here.

He's also the person who -- Katelyn Polantz had that great reporting about the pool at Mar-a-Lago being drained, and it affecting servers. And it was an employee who did it. It was Carlos who we are told was the one who allegedly drained the pool.

And so, I think those are the questions of -- the puzzle pieces that everyone is trying to fit together, why he's now named in this.

BLITZER: I'm curious and I suspect we don't know this, but at some point we'll find out who's paying the legal bills for this new co- defendant.

COLLINS: His attorney is John Irving. I'm not totally -- obviously, what you're referencing is a lot of these attorneys, Walt Nauta's attorney, for example, Stan Woodward, has firm has paid a lot of money by Trump's super PAC. They're essentially paying his legal fees. I'm not totally sure. I'll check John Irving if Carlos' attorney is also on there. But, obviously, that would be a question that would signify why he is now named as --

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think one of the important questions, right, that emerges from adding Carlos De Oliveira in this is the role of the former president, right? You know, the thing that looms large in all of this is was the obstructive behavior, certainly what Walt Nauta is being accused of, all of it is tied back to the former president, that he orchestrated the obstruction by these people.

And so the question that remains is, you know, is there new information that emerged following the earlier charges that allowed them to bring these new charges against Carlos De Oliveira and what is that. Because, again, as Katelyn Polantz pointed out, there was the reporting of a new target letter against someone. We never knew exactly who it was. We suspected it was Carlos De Oliveira but we never really pinned that down. And now, it appears that it makes sense, right?

And so one of the things that I think we will be looking for in the documents that hopefully we'll be getting from the Justice Department soon will tell us a little about the story of what happened with Carlos De Oliveira, was he acting at the direction of the former president, because that is key to this. The fact that he's added to the existing case tells us a lot that there is some kind of tie-in with the existing charges.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: My entire prosecutorial body leans in when I hear that he took photographs of the location of surveillance cameras. That's such an important point because we know from our reporting, and we know from the indictment that documents, boxes were not returned to a location before the attorney had to go and certify that everything was there.

There were some concerted efforts alleged that there was a reason or motivation only to return a select few. So, one, how do we know what was returned, how many boxes are still looming and where would you have security cameras such that they could not be viewed if they were in a new location? All that says to me about this indicia one's intent. You don't sort of willy-nilly coincidentally have a box no longer in the view of a camera if you knew where one was. That's a very important point.

The other aspect of it is, why now, to Katelyn's question. Well, sometimes you're thinking about who you're going to get to flip, who is going to be most important person to try to be your cooperating witness. That can take time. And the pressure of saying, look, I can wait this out, I've got this person indicted, I've got this person indicted, what about you? And maybe there was an instance when he had the opportunity to be more cooperative and did not do so.

But any time a prosecutor has the ability to do what's called a superseding indictment of an original indictment to say, I want to add more claims based on the behavior or conduct, if this is a separate complaint or a separate indictment or one that is added to it, it could be a part of the evolving fact pattern here under that same factual predicate.

But everyone should be leaning in. When you hear someone say I now know the location of security cameras, I'm taking photographs, where did those photos end up? Were they sent to someone? Was it a family member or the former president himself who received it? Because the digital footprint and the map is very long and inescapable.

BLITZER: Yes. Three people have been criminally indicted in connection with the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, including the former president of the United States, of course.


JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Wolf, I was just texting with some legal experts who are very familiar with this case, and these sources had said to me at the time of the initial Mar-a-Lago indictment, wait, there is more coming. This is just the beginning of the investigation. And we're seeing this here today.

Two points about that they make. Jack Smith is a very aggressive investigator. And they just texted me and said this is classic Jack Smith. He's not going to just stop with those initial indictments. He's going to follow through on every point.

The other thing I think we just should point out, big picture, is what will this do to the timing of the case. We know from both a legal and a political point of view that Donald Trump wants to delay, delay, delay. He's hoping -- his lawyers have asked for it to go after the election. Laura could answer this, but when you add another defendant here, does this just end up delaying the trial?

COATES: Let me talk about that point quickly because when you've got multiple co-defendants, there's a thing called severance that sometimes is asked by the co-defendant's counsel, normally it's separate counsel, three different defendants, because each defendant, of course, has their own constitutional rights and their own interests and investment in the case and things that need to be protected.

And there are moments when each of the defendants' rights are at odds with one another. And so sometimes what happens is there's a motion to say, listen, can we separate these trials or separate these three defendants because they all have different interests and we do not want them to get confused. But a court will look at efficiency. A court does not want to have the empanelment of three separate juries to deal with the same fact pattern and use the court's resources and time and the prosecutors' as well on just having redundant trials.

And so the court, if there is a request, sort of separate these different instances, the court will look at to figure out, hold on, will it be in the interests of efficiency and judicial process to keep them together? Is the fact pattern so similar such that the prosecution and defense will be required to prove the same necessary elements of the same claims or are there things distinct here?

And if they are kept together, that's when you have the moment when you are right for plea discussions, to say, listen, you're going to be tried together. And you know what that means? The worst among you will now stain all of you. So, who wants the stench off of them? That's when people begin to think, hold on, maybe I should look at my interests in pleading guilty or trying to have more of a cooperative aspect here. So, look for all of that the more defendants you add. PEREZ: We now have the charges at least listed here, according to the docket. One is conspiracy to obstruct justice. Another is altering, destroying, mutilating or concealing an object, corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating a document, and false statements or representations. It looks like -- again, we are still trying to get the document -- the Pacer (ph) system is having a little trouble at the moment, because I think everybody is trying to download the document as we speak. But at least from what we can see of the charges, those are the charges that are now being listed.

And so, again, it tells us a little bit about the fact that this has to do with the obstruction part of this case, that Carlos De Oliveira is accused of helping the former president trying to obstruct the Justice Department's ability to get to these documents and retrieve these documents.

BLITZER: It's interesting -- hold on one second, Paula Reid is getting information, as well. I understand you're learning more about some additional charges potentially being leveled against the former president?

REID: That's right. I'm actually receiving a PDF of these additional charges now. But it's our understanding that this is not just adding a defendant and adding charges against him but also adding charges in what is called a superseding indictment against former President Trump.

Now, I'm going to take a second, Wolf, to actually open this attachment so that we know exactly what has been added. This is not surprising. We knew it was always a possibility that they could add additional charges because we know even after they charged the former president that they continued their investigation.

So, right now, I'm going to take a second to open this PDF, see what charges have been filed against the former president.

BLITZER: Okay. I know you'll read it and we'll get back to you in a few moments.

Elie Honig is with us, as well. Elie, you're a former prosecutor, you're a legal analyst. Give us your analysis.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, Wolf, a couple of things jump out at me based on the limited information we have right now. Evan, first of all, said that one of the new charges against this third defendant is a conspiracy. And in order to have a conspiracy, you have to have two or more people coming to an agreement. So, I think we need to be looking to see whether this person is charged being in a conspiracy with Donald Trump and/or Walt Nauta.

The detail that Paula just gave us, that there are new charges against Donald Trump, is enormously significant for two reasons.


First of all, of course, more charges against Donald Trump, that's inherently a big deal. That means he's facing more problems. Also, though, the scheduling, the calendar is so important here. We already have a trial set by this judge for May of 2024. That does not a lot of time to try a case, which is going to be six, eight weeks and get it in reasonably before the election.

If there are indeed new charges against Donald Trump, that will essentially reset the clock here. All of the trial deadlines that Judge Cannon has already set will be pushed back. We are now about seven weeks or so out from the initial indictment. That May day will not hold if there are new defendants and new charges against Donald Trump.

BLITZER: New charges against Donald Trump, very significant. Paula, what else are you learning?

REID: So, we just got a statement from the spokesman for Special Counsel Jack Smith confirming that a superseding indictment has been returned by a grand jury in Southern Florida, adding the new defendant, Carlos, who we have been talking to, and also adding four charges to the prior indictment of former President Trump and Walt Nauta.

Now, they say that they add at least one -- a new count charging former President Trump with one additional count of willful retention of national defense information. And they send us to a specific paragraph in the indictment, which I haven't had a chance to read, that will give us more details about why they did that.

They also note that they've added this additional defendant, and they say that this new indictment charges Trump, Carlos De Oliveira and Walt Nauta with two new obstruction counts based on allegations that these three men allegedly attempted to delete surveillance video from Mar-a-Lago in the summer of 2022.

This is what I was referring to earlier. We know from our reporting that investigators have been asking multiple witnesses whether anyone tried to prevent them from obtaining all of the surveillance footage from the relevant time in this investigation. So, it appears that they have now charged the former president, Carlos De Oliveira and Walt Nauta with two additional obstruction counts based on these allegations that they tried to delete the surveillance footage. Now, it says, attempted to delete. It is unclear based on what I'm reading if they were successful.

Now, finally, the statement reveals that the superseding indictment also charges Carlos with false statements and representations in an interview he did with the FBI on January 13th. Now, this is, for many people, the easiest way to get charged by federal investigators, which is not being truthful with them.

Now, it is likely, because we know they did this with Walt Nauta, that they probably pressured him based on those false statements to try to get him to cooperate. It does not appear that he is doing that. He has been summoned to appear in federal court on July 31st. So, big news, additional charges filed against former President Trump, most notably this additional count of this willful retention of national defense information, and also the former president being charged along with two of his aides with attempting to delete surveillance footage that was relevant to this investigation.

BLITZER: Yes, tampering with evidence, that's a potential crime, as well. Excellent reporting, Paula. Evan, do you want to make a point?

PEREZ: Well, yes. I mean, I think to Paula's point, the new count that details what the Justice Department --

BLITZER: New count against the former president.

PEREZ: Against the former president details what the prosecutors are saying was an attempt to delete security camera footage. It says that on June 3rd, 2022, you know, as FBI agents were there to collect the documents that they had already made arrangements to collect from a Trump attorney, there were a number of communications on June 23rd. For instance, at 8:46, Trump called De Oliveira and they spoke for about 24 minutes. Again, the Justice Department trying to paint a picture of an effort by the former president working with his employees, De Oliveira, as well as Walt Nauta, to try to conceal the footage of what was -- of these documents and concealing some of the footage here.

COLLINS: And this is the key part of this. I'm reading this exact same part that Evan is. And this is where Carlos told an employee that the boss wanted the server deleted, referring to the server that had the footage. He had asked an employee how many days the server retained footage. The employee, who we believe is the I.T. employee that we've reported on previously, said he believed about 45 days is how long it kept that footage.

And he was telling him essentially that he did not know how to do that. He didn't believe he had the right to do that. That's what this employee told Carlos, the new co-defendant who has been added here, and that he would have to reach out to another employee to figure out how to do that. And then Carlos repeated again. It says he insisted Trump employee 4, the boss wanted server deleted and asked what are we going to do.


So, that is very clearly what they are getting at here. We knew that there was an intent interest in the security footage here, Wolf, because the way this worked where the subpoenas that they got didn't go straight to Mar-a-Lago, they went to the Trump Organization. And that was how they sent those subpoenas asking for the security camera footage. We were told they had asked for it multiple times.

And so, clearly, they're looking at these text that are happening between Carlos and Walt Nauta, and he's saying -- Carlos is saying the boss wants the footage on the server deleted.

COATES: And, of course, you think about how you would lay out your case to a jury. You might not have, of course, a transcribed or recording of that conversation, the 20 or so minutes with that particular person, now a defendant, but what you do have is the timeline.

At this moment in time, the boxes were present. There were these phone calls that were made. There was this conversation or text messaging that demonstrate that there was correspondence. Then there were security footage that demonstrated the boxes were leaving. Then you've got the attorney who goes to then certify that the boxes are not there. Here is the number, here is the discrepancy. You have the references to the boss and beyond.

And then you have the jury actually trying to understand, well, what must have happened? There's a thing called circumstantial evidence, where you don't have the direct evidence. It goes something like this. I didn't see it snow last night, but when I went to bed, the grass of green. When I woke up in the morning, it was covered in a blanket of snow. I can surmise something happened.

That's a way that many prosecutors prove the intent-based crimes without having the direct statements that are made, and so the culmination of all of this. But there's still the question of why now. Because, presumably, the -- as referenced in the first indictment, of course, that they were aware of some information, some contact, something.

What I'm missing here is, and we likely should be missing it, of course, because that's inherent in the investigation, where is the corroboration coming from? In what instance were the prosecutors tipped off to know that this was, in fact, a false statement? Who are the people that may have been around this area? A lot was made about the number of boxes that were located at Mar-a-Lago and the relative ease of being able to access. We joked about the notion of it being in bathrooms and beyond, and the sheer number of people who could have been there. But that keeps in mind of who else may have heard the communications or heard about it.

PEREZ: According to this document, the prosecutors seem to have access to some of the communications. So, for example, you know, here on page 31 of the document, it describes that there's a signal chat where a Trump employee is talking, again, about to make sure that Carlos De Oliveira is still on board, want to make sure someone wants to just make sure Carlos is good, that Trump employee tells Nauta that De Oliveira is loyal.

Again, this is the same way that Trump, and according to the prosecutors here, Trump and his employees are trying to make sure that Carlos De Oliveira is staying on board because, obviously, he's been asked to delete things, and, clearly, was not willing to --

COLLINS: He had his phone seized.

PEREZ: Right. He has his phone seized. So, the prosecutors have access to some communications where this discussion is happening, and so they have the benefit of an effort at least to try to keep the obstruction going, Wolf.

COATES: If there's a reluctance of a witness to perform the action that he's being leaned on to do, if there's reluctance and there's the consistent discussion, is this person really on board, that's a window of opportunity for the prosecutors to know that this might indeed be a vulnerable person that I'm able to extract information and maybe cooperation from.

And so all these little sort of Easter eggs that are placed throughout this indictment do reveal some aspects of it. But at the end of the day, this sounds like a world of hurt for somebody who already has so many legal claims swirling around him, and now corroboration in the form of actual alleged elements.

BLITZER: And now we have this document that's just been released by the United States district court, Southern District of Florida. It's entitled superseding indictment. The grand jury charges and lists all the charges, and it says this is a case involving the United States of America versus Donald J. Trump, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira. So, it's a significant development indeed, and there's a lot of information in this document.

Andrew McCabe is still with us, the former deputy director of the FBI. What do you make of this latest allegation that the Trump Team, that these three individuals specifically tried to delete surveillance footage?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Wolf, it's a stunning development. And it does make sense with what we know of the special counsel's inquiries the last couple of months in addition to asking many witnesses in front of the grand jury, questions about the servers and whether or not they may have been damaged in the draining of the pool, those sorts of things. We also know they served legal process on a technology company that's responsible for maintaining the server.


So, they've clearly been digging on this for a while.

It's also the -- the charge that we're hearing about against the former president is particularly damning because, as we've talked about the previous charges, we were all struck when the original indictment came out and it showed the president's direct involvement in things, like reviewing boxes and looking at materials that were in there, really kind of evidence that would undermine any sort of defense that he could possibly say at trial, saying, I didn't know I had national defense information.

Well, this charge alleges not just that he knew what was in the boxes but he was actively involved in trying to destroy evidence, the surveillance tapes, knowing they'd been subpoenaed, that he may have been -- it's an allegation at this point -- actively involved in coercing others, asking others to destroy that evidence. That is the very heart of obstruction of justice and it's very serious charge and one that, overall, in the overall context of all the problems he's facing, makes him look much more guilty.

BLITZER: Bottom line right now, Andrew, let me get your thought, the new charges being leveled not only against these two other individuals but also the former president, the earlier case that was revealed all of the other charges involving the Mar-a-Lago classified documents concealment and all of that, those are very, very hard to begin with. This only makes it even more legally painful potentially for the former president, right?

MCCABE: That's absolutely right, because it opens up a whole new area of evidence and questioning and testimony that would come into a trial that shows him even more deeply involved in a scheme to deny -- to destroy evidence and to deny, to withhold what the government had demanded of him through legal process. It's very, very serious.

BLITZER: Yes. And, Gloria Borger, this is a legal nightmare that's unfolding for the former president right now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let me just, you know, echo what Andy McCabe is saying. First of all, and Evan was alluding to this earlier, I think the question has always been, who was the wizard behind the curtain directing things? Was it the former president of the United States telling people that this was what they had to do, that this is how they had to destroy evidence, if it comes to that, obstruct justice, move boxes, et cetera, et cetera. How deeply involved, if at all, was the president himself in any kind of obstruction? And what this alleges is that the president -- former president was deeply involved. He was, according to this, the wizard behind the curtain.

The other thing that really strikes me, and I've learned this over the years from covering these cases, is that timing is really, really important. And what would have tipped off these prosecutors to saying, okay, we really need to kind of pay more attention to these phone calls, is that because the call was placed shortly after prosecutors had issued their subpoena to Trump's company, the Trump Organization.

So, when you look at a timeline, you have to take a look at this and say, well, why would they move this footage if this subpoena hadn't demanded the surveillance tapes? And that is exactly why footage was probably moved.

So, I think as we look at this in a broad scheme, this answers or tries to answer or may answer a lot of really important and damning questions about the former president's involvement in all of this and the moving of these Mar-a-Lago and hiding, trying to hide, these Mar- a-Lago documents.

BLITZER: Very significant. Norm Eisen is with us, as well. I'm reading this document, the superseding indictment that just came out with a lot of new information. One line that jumped out at me, I want to get your thought, Trump was not authorized to possess or retain those classified documents. He keeps insisting he was authorized as president of the United States, even though he removed those documents after he left office. He was authorized to retain those kinds of documents. What do you say?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Wolf, I worked on these issues when I was in government, and he absolutely was not authorized to handle them. We have statutes and regulations and executive orders that set up the system for handling this. We know he's admitted limitations on his power. Some of those conversations happened after he left the presidency where he admitted, once I had the power, now I do not. So, that is not going to avail him when it comes to defending his conduct.


It's very important in looking now at Mr. De Oliveira, the third defendant in this case, to reflect that neither he nor Mr. Nauta had that power of handling these documents either. So, there's a third person who is implicated in the mishandling of this.

And, Wolf, it's not just the high-tech security footage issues. It's the old-fashioned moving of boxes, handling of paper, one of the gaps that has been filled in. We had a question after the first indictment, one of the paragraphs said that Trump's instruction, Mr. Nauta, together with another individual, moved boxes. Now, we know the new indictment specifies that was Mr. De Oliveira. So, the picture continues to become damning.

How striking, finally, Wolf, that on a day when we were expecting, wondering would there be news about the January 6th investigation, Jack Smith has gone ahead. He's put his lawman blinders on and he's going straight ahead and irrespective of the political or other consequences, he's making these charges known. I think that suggests that he's not going to look at the election calendar, he's not going to look at the P.R. media issues, he's going to go straight ahead. That is not good news for Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Yes, very bad news, legally speaking, for the former president.

Paula, what else are you learning?

REID: So, Wolf, a really significant development here, as we know, as Katelyn Polantz and I have indicated, prosecutors obtained this audio recording of former President Trump. He's at a meeting at his Bedminster property, and he suggests that he is still in possession of a classified document.

Now, one thing that we couldn't understand from the first indictment is why he was not charged with retaining that document. There are questions about whether the investigators had it, if the former president's lawyers obtained it. But what's interesting is in this indictment, that is specifically charged.

On page 17, they say that that document they're referring to, the one he references in that recording, is the one that was possessed by him and shown on July 21st, 2021, is charged as count 32, so that's now the last document that's listed here. And it describes it as being a top secret and presenting information concerning military activity in a foreign country.

That really fills in something that we've been wondering about for a while, because there were questions about whether he actually had a classified document, if he was just sort of embellishing, posturing. And then there were questions about whether the former president's legal team was able to find it and hand it over. So, that's another really notable development in this new indictment.

BLITZER: And it makes it clear these documents were not just confidential information or even secret information. They were top- secret information, SCI, sensitive compartment information, the highest category of classified information.

COATES: Remember the criteria here. It has to be information that is sensitive to the sense that it would be helpful to those who wish to do us harm and something that we do not want our allies to know that we have revealed. We keep it close to the vest in some respects.

Some of the most stunning developments in this new indictment go right to the heart of why Carlos De Oliveira is actually considered a co- conspirator. Part of it lays out what the conduct was after Trump or the -- the boss contacted Mr. De Oliveira and includes him going to different employees who are named in the complaint as employee number X, Y, Z, or number 1, 2, 3, 4, which tells you there have been people to have testified or spoken with the prosecution team and are now considered witnesses who have not been indicted themselves.

In it, it lays out conversations with the director of the I.T. department at Mar-a-Lago. It lays out conversations about going with a flashlights into a tunnel to identify the location of different surveillance footage cameras and beyond. It even talks about a moment when Mr. De Oliveira apparently goes to somebody who is a director of I.T. and says, potentially, I want to talk to you privately, and another employee is told to step out. So, it leaves you wondering what the nature of that communication was.

It also entails that these boxes were placed by Nauta at some point and De Oliveira onto an aircraft that was traveling north to Bedminster in New Jersey with the Trump family. And so all this tells you about just how many points of reference and evidentiary burdens would likely be able to be met if you're talking about employees who were giving this testimony.

It's really stunning to think about the breadth. I keep coming back to when was this all discovered. Was it known all along, was there some reason why we're only hearing about it now, or was this part of a prosecutorial strategy to develop a witness who eventually became a defendant?

COLLINS: Can I -- back to what Paula said, too, about the document, the way that we -- our reporting has been treated after we reported about that audiotape and Trump holding the document, we have been told by everyone in Trump's orbits, well, it was just bravado, he may not have been holding a document.


They actually never found that document.

I have been told that they -- prosecutors specifically asked the Trump Team in communications to go and find that document and produce it for them, and they were never able to do so. The question was, why not. And so the idea that we do know now that they are confident enough to charge Trump with this document does kind of eliminate everything that we have heard from those attorneys, some of them not on the Trump legal team anymore, saying essentially that might have just been a paper menu or something. This is making clear they don't believe that that's what it was.

BLITZER: Yes, that's an important point, as well.

REID: And an open question about exactly where did they find it, right? Did it travel from Bedminster down to Mar-a-Lago? Did they obtain it when they did the search and executed the search warrant down at Mar-a-Lago? A lot of questions for us to follow up on.

BLITZER: These are highly classified documents. Elie Honig, what do you make of the news Paula reported, Trump is being charged with possessing classified documents shown in recorded -- in recorded Bedminster meeting?

HONIG: Wolf, this is a major breakthrough in this case. And just to refresh our viewers' memories, there is an incident charged in the initial indictment and charged against in this new indictment where Donald Trump is showing people with no security clearance after he's left the White House, people are writing a book about Mark Meadows, he's ruffling documents and telling them to look at this. He says, I could have declassified when I was in office but I didn't.

And there had been some question, as Kaitlan just laid out, about whether there was an actual classified document he was showing or whether he was just puffing or exaggerating, and as Kaitlan said, Donald Trump's said, it was the latter. Now, we know that's not true. Now, we know the document Donald Trump was showing these people with zero security clearance was an actual highly classified document that had to do with war plans. And we know DOJ has that document.

They've now added a charge against Donald Trump. And why this is so important is because this is the one incident in the whole indictment where Donald Trump most flagrantly disseminates the information, where it's not just sitting in boxes in his bathroom or on the stage at Mar- a-Lago, which is bad, which is potentially criminal, but it's the one most flagrant incident where he's taking that information and giving it out to somebody. And that's why it's such an important and dangerous moment in this case.

BLITZER: It certainly is. Kristen Holmes, I know you're getting some new reporting on Trump's relationship with Carlos De Oliveira, his new co-defendant in this case.

HOLMES: That's right, Wolf. Now, one of the things we've talked about a lot is his relationship with Walt Nauta. Nauta is one of his closest aides. He left the White House where he was a military valet under Trump and essentially has been by Trump's side since. He has traveled everywhere with Donald Trump. He rides the plane, he's up in Bedminster, when he goes down to Mar-a-Lago.

And Walt is considered one of the most loyal soldiers, but it's not the same relationship even though Carlos De Oliveira, even Carlos' lawyer is paid for, we believe, by one of the super PACs. It's one of the lawyers that has gotten an enormous amount of money from Trump's super PAC.

It's not as clear what impact he's had on Trump's inner circle. They know him. Certainly know who he is. They were certainly monitoring that this could happen but they don't seem to have the same relationship with Carlos De Oliveira as they do with Walt Nauta. And that's something that we're going to be watching closely, how exactly does this play out, what is the level of loyalty here between these three men. And obviously it complicates things when there is a third defendant.

And I do want to talk about one other thing that I am noticing, reading through this document, and when we talk about those surveillance tapes. Obviously, as Evan mentioned, it's clear here they obtained phone records, text message records, as well, to piece some of this together.

But one of the things that we reported months ago was that they were talking to everyone at Mar-a-Lago, dozens and dozens of employees. That meant car valets, people who delivered the food. And, clearly, they were not just talking to them about what they had seen regarding boxes. Because, as you can see through reading this document, they were piecing together exactly what went on revolving around those surveillance tapes.

There are new people mentioned in here, witnesses that are describing conversations or conversations between two people. So, clearly, they have been piecing this together for a very long time, which answers some of our questions as to why they spread such a wide net when they were doing these interviews with these employees.

BLITZER: Very interesting. Kaitlan, just reading this so-called superseding indictment against Donald Trump, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, it jumped out at me that they specifically say in this new indictment just released, Trump endeavored to obstruct the FBI and grand jury investigations and conceal his continued retention of classified documents by, among other things, suggesting that his attorney falsely represent to the FBI and grand jury that Trump did not have documents called for by the grand jury subpoena.


And then it goes on point after point after point of all the things they're alleging he did, which are potentially criminal.

COLLINS: And I think one of the things that this goes to the heart of, which we knew already from the obstruction charges that were in here, but the surveillance footage and the idea that the boss wanted it deleted, obviously a reference to Trump, is Trump has been arguing that he had a right to have these documents and that he had declassified them.

The idea that he went to great lengths, according to his own employees, to try to get that footage deleted, as Jack Smith is alleging here, obviously, Trump has a right to respond to this, is a sign that Trump obviously knew he did not have a right to hold on to those documents. Because why otherwise would you go to such efforts to have the team delete this surveillance footage.

And I think that is going to be something that raises a question of what is the defense that Todd Blanche and the other attorneys that Trump is adding to his team brings when it comes to these newer, updated allegations and indictments and charges.

COATES: You just described the textbook example of consciousness of guilt, right, the notion of how am I to infer that this person knew that their behavior was criminal, that they willfully engaged in conduct, as alleged, if the scheme overall that you use to actually prove and to demonstrate that consciousness of guilt.

Also look through -- whenever you're looking these documents -- of course, they are public and the audience will do so to figure out the points, particularly give him talking points about this being a political witch hunt that persists to this day in spite of the lengthy documents we see here, is about the people who have yet to be identified, those who still remain under the cover of employee number, et cetera.

Because part of what is being alleged here is that these three defendants, now Donald Trump, Walt T. Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, acted in a way to try to persuade an additional employee to act. You're talking about Trump employee number 4 to delete this footage as part of that consciousness of guilt aspect of it. You've identified by virtue of those who are nameless, those who are potentially the so- called star witnesses who could give the testimony and credibility.

Now, no case of this magnitude would hinge on one particular witness or one statement because the risk is always they could essentially either recant, they could have some credibility issue, where they could be undermined by a savvy cross-examiner to suggest that this is not the person to assign all the credence to and credibility. So, there has to be more corroboration.

And one of the questions that's looming here is you've endeavored to have this footage deleted. Was it? Was it indeed? Was there a moment where Jack Smith or counsel have been able to view the different footage extensively and also corroborate and buttress the credibility of various witnesses? It's an enormous lift to prove a case like this, but if you've got the digital footprint, your path is far easier.

REID: Yes. You make a great point, because our thinking of this entire case really changed when we broke the news that they had an audio recording of the former president talking about this, and then we continued to report their interests in the surveillance footage. And this has been one of the outstanding questions. We knew that witnesses were asked about this, but it wasn't charged.

The other thing about this superseding indictment is, in the original indictment, it was odd to me that everything just sort of stopped in the summer of 2022, right? They packed up the boxes, Trump goes north, end scene. But so much happened between the summer of 2022 and this indictment. We know the Trump team was asked to do multiple searches, re-searches, additional classified materials were found. Interviews were conducted where it was our reporting that not everyone had been completely honest.

So, seeing this charge related to the January 13th, 2023, interview, that's one of the first times that we're seeing a criminal consequence of everything that happened after sort of July, August, 2022. And we'll continue report this out. But there could potentially be more because we know so much happened in the next year.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a very significant development. One line, Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the FBI still with us, Trump and these two other co-defendants attempted to delete security camera footage at the Mar-a-Lago club to conceal information from the FBI and grand jury. Potentially, that's a major crime.

MCCABE: It absolutely is. And in addition to presenting serious additional criminal liability, these charges also serve other purposes for the jury. So, we've already been talking about how being able to charge the president with allegedly being directly involved in trying to destroy evidence shows a consciousness of guilt.

Well, I would also point out that the charge related to the classified document, the top-secret document that was allegedly shown to the -- in that meeting at Bedminster, this goes to answering the question of motive.

Now, we all know that motive is not required in this case.


It's not an element of the offense. But it is a question that typically hangs in the minds of jurors. Why? Why did the former president take these materials, why did he try so hard to keep them and hold them back from the government?

Well, that episode of using the document, disseminating it as Elie mentioned, to the group in that meeting gives you some insight as to why the former president may have wanted to hold onto this material, because he found it advantageous. He wanted to use it maybe to impress, maybe to make a point, maybe to undermine one of his critics or someone who he finds himself in some sort of a battle with.

It's very effective evidence, not just for the criminal liability that it poses, but also because of the effect it has on the jury.

BLITZER: Yeah. Elie Honig, give me your analysis.

HONIG: Power to obstruction of justice type charges. First of all, to pick up on a point Norm was making before, all these defenses about whether documents were classified or declassified or Presidential Records Act, they don't matter if you okay instructed justice. They're completely beside the point. They're not a defense to obstruction of justice.

Second, as Andy and Laura have pointed out, you got to argue as a prosecutor what we call consciousness of guilt. You get to say to the jury, why would somebody do this? Why would somebody hide documents, delete footage?

And finally, there was a question raised what happens if they actually did succeed in deleting some of this footage? In that case as a prosecutor, you can ask the judge for what we call an adverse inference instruction to the jury, meaning the judge may choose to tell the jury if you find that these defendants or any of these individual defendants succeeded in destroying evidence, you can assume the worst about what that evidence would have shown. And that can be a devastating jury instruction. This is a really important addition to this indictment.

BLITZER: And what does it say to you, Elie, that in this new so- called superseding indictment, these new charges being leveled against Trump and these other co-defendants who have been named in this document, what does it say to you that they -- that the former president of the United States was really calling the shots here, directing these individuals what to do?

HONIG: Yeah, not all players in a conspiracy are always on equal footing. You have all different levels. And I think -- consistent with what you might expect, Donald Trump it appears is being charged as the leader essentially of this conspiracy. He was their boss in the employment sense.

But if you look at the superseding indictment, it's quite clear that he was giving the orders to now two people who not only followed his orders, but according to this indictment knew that what they were doing was illegal and did it anyway. So, this is going to put Donald Trump as he already was right at the top of this indictment.

But more than just a two-person show. You know, one of the criticisms that you would hear from Donald Trump's supporters has been this is the grand conspiracy, Donald Trump and his body man Walt Nauta, now it's bigger than that. Now there's a third person, and there are other employees alluded to in this indictment, not charged, but this conspiracy has now grown.

BLITZER: Yeah, including lawyers who are alluded to but not charged.

I want you to listen -- I want our viewers to listen right now, this is Trump discussing the classified documents over at Bedminster, his country club in New Jersey, which he's now -- he's now facing additional charges for possessing these documents over at Bedminster. Listen to this --


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: These are bad, sick people, but --

STAFFER: That was your coup, you know, against you. That --

TRUMP: Well, it started right at the --

STAFFER: Like when Miley is talking about, oh, you were going to try to do a coup. No, they were trying to do that before you even were sworn in.


STAFFER: Trying to overthrow your election.

TRUMP: Well, with Milley -- let me see that. I'll show you an example. He said that I wanted to attack Iran.

Isn't it amazing? I have a big pile of papers, this just came up. Look. This was him. They presented me this. Off the record. But they presented me this. This was him

They presented me this -- this is off the record -- but they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him.


TRUMP: We looked at some. This was him. This wasn't done by me. This was him. All sorts of stuff, pages long. Look.

Wait a minute, let's see here.




TRUMP: I just found, isn't that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know.


TRUMP: Except it is like, highly confidential.

I was just thinking because we were talking about it. And, you know, he said, he wanted to attack Iran and what -- these are the papers.

STAFFER: You did.

TRUMP: This was done by the military and given to me. I think we can probably, right?

STAFFER: I don't know, we'll -- we'll have to see. Yeah, we'll have to try to --

TRUMP: Declassify it.

STAFFER: -- figure out a -- yeah.

TRUMP: See, as president I could have declassified it.



TRUMP: Now I can't, you know, but this is still a secret.

STAFFER: Yeah. Now we have a problem

TRUMP: Isn't that interesting?


TRUMP: It's so cool. I mean, it's so, look, her and I, and you probably almost didn't believe me, but now you believe me.

WRITER: No, I believed you.

TRUMP: It's incredible, right?

WRITER: No, they never met a war they didn't want.

TRUMP: Hey, bring some -- bring some Cokes in please.



BLITZER: He's having a discussion along these lines, as you see, this is audio that the special counsel has obtained. Pretty powerful evidence going forward. Having a discussion with individuals who did not have the chairman of the joint chiefs are suggesting going on as far as Iran is concerned. Highly classified information.

HONIG: Yeah, Wolf, this to me is the single most important incident alleged in this entire indictment. Here's Donald Trump months after he left the White House and he's talking about war plans. He's alluding to documents. You can hear papers being shuffled, but the question is does he actually have a classified document in front of him that he's showing to these civilians with no security clearance?

Now we know the answer. Those papers he was shuffling, yes, they were classified documents, they're related to war plans, and DOJ has that document. That is now a new charge in this indictment. And that makes that incident so much worse than just Donald Trump exaggerating or bragging or bluffing as he has suggested.

This means he actually had that classified document in his possession. He was showing it to others. He was bragging about it. He was disseminating it to use the legalistic word. That's an enormously powerful incident for prosecutors.

BLITZER: That's obviously a very serious crime potentially as well.

What do you think?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, the level of detail in here is extraordinary. But one thing just to go back to, and that is the word boss and the power dynamic because you really see it throughout here, and we mention this before, but on page 31 someone just wants to make sure Carlos is good, this is two weeks after. In response, Trump employee told Nauta he was loyal, he would not do anything to affect his relationship with Trump.

And then at the end of that graph, it says that same day Trump called De Oliveira and told him that he would get him an attorney. Throughout the January 6th hearings and as the case unfolded, what we have talked about again and again with Donald Trump, witness tampering. These are low level employees. He is in control of them, and you see him exerting authority in this situation.

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The exploitative nature of it is disheartening to say the least, criminal likely at its best.

But just to point out the document you're referencing and Elie spoke about as well to your earlier point, they actually lay out just a bit of a time line here that after the attorney executed a false certification in June of 2022, to the FBI, of course, to the -- in claiming to the FBI and DOJ that he was an open book, earlier that same day, presumably unbeknownst to attorneys putting their own bar license on the line with that certification, that Nauta, De Oliveira and others have loaded several of Trump's boxes, along with other items on aircraft that flew Trump and his family north for the summer. Well, north of Florida is obviously New Jersey, for those of you graphically challenged here.

And thinking about the notion of we thought for a long time, the notion that a judge would have peeled back that attorney-client privilege and said, you need to testify in front of a grand jury because the crime-fraud exception seems to apply here. Meaning if you're using your attorney to commit some other untoward act of fraud you don't get the benefit of having a private conversation. The fact this is all happening in part following that certification and as part of it, I mean, truly unpacks more of that testimony the attorney likely gave.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's also -- it's very clear in here that is the testimony that the attorney gave. I mean I'm looking for the exact wording of it here, but it made it very clear he told the attorney one thing and did something else.

And so, you know, also what's sort of stunning is the change in travel schedules, you know, Trump was supposed to go I guess to Illinois, and then he and Nauta end up going to Palm Beach, Florida, instead. Why do you think they ended up going to Palm Beach, Florida, instead? Because of documents.

And this is -- as you were saying, Jamie, I mean, the level of detail in this is really stunning. And the way they followed up on all these conversations among the people who worked for Donald Trump and who were just trying to please the boss as he is called.

BLITZER: And the level of detail is amazing if you read this approximately 60-page document. The specifics in here are incredible.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and one of those specifics we're seeing a reoccurring character now. Besides the people who are named the former president, Walt Nauta, Carlos, those employees 1 through 5. [18:55:00]

But there's also someone referred to as a PAC representative. These are representatives from Trump's political action committee.

In the first indictment, this person was also referenced one of the more damning events in that indictment alleging that the former president showed this representative a classified map. And when we first got that indictment, someone very close to the former president told me that's incredibly problematic because it suggests that someone close to him, someone in his orbit, someone whose career depends on him may have given potentially incriminating information to investigators.

Now, based on our reporting, we believe that that PAC representative is Susie Wiles. She is one of the senior campaign advisers for former President Trump.

And now, we see the PAC representative, we had not confirmed that this is Susie Wiles, but it would serve to reason that prosecutors would probably designate it as a PAC representative one, two, owe three if it was not, that she was allegedly on a Signal chat with Nauta and -- with Walt Nauta and Carlos discussing this issue of loyalty.

So I think she's really going to be one to watch here because we know she's spoken with investigators multiple times, and it is likely if they have this Signal chat, they've asked her about not only this alleged classified map but also these conversations about loyalty with these two individuals who have been criminally charged.

BLITZER: And, Norm Eisen, these are potential charges. These are felonies. They're not misdemeanors. These are serious felonies that carry along if convicted years and years and years in prison.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right, Wolf. And the level of exposure for Trump, for Nauta, for De Oliveira is potential lengthy jail terms. From Jack Smith's perspective, he's -- must have felt these additional charges were so important that it merits the delay that it inevitably is going to cause in this case.

We know timing was very important for him. We know he pushed for a fast trial. He did secure a compromised date from the judge in May. This is going to cause slippage.

But the value in having these additional allegations -- you know, there's a saying from the Watergate era, it's not the crime, it's the cover-up. And you get inevitably with the jury a certain amount of slippage. So, you have very powerful, a classified document mishandling, wrongful possession charges that go hand in hand with these incredibly detailed obstruction of justice charges. And the strength of each lifts up the other.

If there's any case -- and there's never a case that's a slam dunk against the former president, particularly one who will fight all out as Donald Trump does. But in the four big cases that we're looking at, if there's anyone of these cases that was already the most compelling, it was the classified documents case, and now it has been strengthened even further.

So you can expect Donald Trump to move into intense delay mode, very likely will renew. We know he tried before to get this case kicked until after the election. You can expect that effort to be renewed now.

Very interesting with Jack Smith considering the January 6th case, that case expected any day after the target letter in the meeting of the lawyers at DOJ. Will Smith try to accelerate that case and slide that case in possibly even before the Mar-a-Lago documents case?

So this is not only an important development in this case, but profoundly affects all the big four cases that Donald Trump is looking at criminally across the country in federal and state courts, both the two that have been brought and the two that are expected.

BLITZER: Very significant. Elie Honig, before I let you go, we all were anticipating they'd be releasing criminal charges in connection with the January 6th election interference case. That hasn't happened yet even though there was a target letter sent a few days ago.

What do you make of the fact this indictment, this superseding indictment connected to the classified Mar-a-Lago documents case was released today.

HONIG: Well, it shows me that Jack Smith continues to work, to fire on all cylinders and that these two cases, it stand on their own and are proceeding full steam ahead, regardless of the other one, as they should.

And, you know, Norm makes a really important here about the importance of the calendar and timing. I agree with Norm that these new charges will certainly bump back that May 2024 start date, and now you're getting into a danger zone where a trial which is going to take six weeks, eight weeks, that is going to start bumping right up against the election in November of 2024.

And Jack Smith has a really important decision strategically to make an on issue called severance, which is will he seek to break Donald Trump off from these other two and try them alone, or will he seek to try them all together?

BLITZER: Yeah. Excellent information, great analysis. Guys, thank you very, very much.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching.

Our breaking news coverage continues right now with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT".