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Meadows Free On Bond After Georgia Arrest, Mug Shot Released; Trump On Brink Of Unprecedented Jail Arrest, Possible Mug Shot; Trump Security At Fulton County Jail Ahead Of Trump's Surrender; Any Moment: Trump Lands In Georgia For Historic Fourth Arrest. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 24, 2023 - 18:00   ET



KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: But in Georgia, it's much faster. And so he -- that would require a November -- Fani Willis has to start in November. And I think the way I've been told, it is sort of like a shot across -- it is like a declaration of war, saying, I want my speedy trial right now.

But, clearly, Fani Willis was ready for that. I think and that is why she took the amount of time that she took between the grand jury investigation and her indictment. And she said, I'll see your November trial request and I will raise you to October 23rd. So, she's ready to go October 23rd.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: We'll watch as all this plays out. Thank you, everyone. We will continue the conversation.

And our coverage continues right now in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: History is about to unfold at the Fulton County Jail on Atlanta. This is where Donald J Trump will soon surrender to authorities on 13 state charges tied it to his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I am Wolf Blitzer and this is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM, the Georgia indictment and arrest of Donald Trump.

Trump took off from New Jersey just a little while ago. We're standing by for him to land in Atlanta for his fourth criminal arrest and an unprecedented scene, a former president of the United States and the current Republican frontrunner for the White House entering a local jail to be arrested and possibly to pose for a mug shot.

All of this coming shortly after the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, posed for his mug shot at the jail, one of the latest Trump co-defendants to turn himself in.

Joining us this hour, CNN Anchors and Correspondents John King and Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, let me go to you first. I know you are outside the Fulton County Jail. Donald Trump will be arriving there soon. Set the scene for us. KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Wolf. I mean, this is a jail that is notorious for overcrowding and for violence, and that is going to be the place where the former president of the United States is entering in just a matter of hours for now to surrender for the fourth time for his fourth indictment, and that is where he's going to appear, to be processed, fingerprinted and potentially mug shotted.

We believe that he is going to be because the sheriff has said that he is being treated like any other defendant here and therefore would mean a mug shot, because we seen the other co-defendants who have come in here, like people like Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Mark Meadows, all come and get their mug shots. But I was told Wolf, as of this morning, that there was still some back and forth that Trump's team was not completely sure that a mug shot was actually going to happen. So, we are waiting to see, of course, what that looks like.

But for the former president himself, as he is flying here right now on his own private plane to turn himself in, he is kind of hyping this surrender, Wolf. I mean, he is posting what time he expects it to be. He wrote 7:30 P.M. Eastern and a reference talking about his interview last night that he did to kind of divert attention away from the first Republican primary debate.

Wolf, we are getting new details about what that surrender is going to look like soon. My colleague, Sara Murray, is here with us and has been covering the Fulton County Jail not just all week but for several months now. And you are now learning more.

I mean, Trump's bond that he has got to post is one of the highest that we have seen of any of the co-defendants here, and you're learning more about how that process is going to look.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, as far as the district attorney's office is concerned, he is sort of the tip of the spear when it comes to this conspiracy, right? And this is the first time that we've actually seen him have to put up some kind of cash bail.

We didn't see that in the previous three indictments. Part of the issue is he is now facing three felony indictments in other jurisdictions, so the odds he was just going to get off on his own recognizance with a signature bond was low here.

My colleague, Zach Cohen, and I are also learning that Donald Trump is putting a 10 percent down. This is one of the options to deal with your bond and his bond is being executed through a local bail bond company.

We've seen some of his co-defendants take a similar route. He actually saw Rudy Giuliani show up at one of the bail bond shops.

COLLINS: Second chance bail bonds, I believe it was called.

MURRAY: Yes. I'm told that Donald Trump will not be showing up at a bail bond shop once he is arrested here and released, but he is taking an option that many of his co-defendants have taken, which is to put down this 10 percent and then go through a local bail bond company to execute the rest of it, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And one of the people that's going to be with him is a new face, Steve Sadow. He's this new attorney the Trump has added, getting rid of his other attorney, Drew Findling, who had been kind of the lead attorney on this. And Steve Sadow was saying today that he, as he entered his name and has had a formal appearance, that he is, indeed, the lead counsel, as he described himself.

MURRAY: Yes. And I think that certainly appears to be the case. I mean, again, it's an interesting day to be starting this new job, but we've already seen him filing motions in court. He opposed, for instance, the October 2023 trial date that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has suggested.


We are also learning from our colleagues that he is accompanying the former president on his journey here today. So, it does seem clear that he is in the driver seat.

Although, of course, we know that he's not alone. There are other members of Trump's legal team, including Jennifer Little, who has been involved in this case essentially since it began on Donald Trump's behalf.

COLLINS: Yes, she's one of the ones who is staying on. Sara Murray, thank you.

Wolf, of course, just a flurry of activity, I mean, not the first time we have seen Trump shake up his legal team today that he was preparing to surrender himself but, clearly, that is something that he has decided to do now before turning himself in at the Fulton County Jail behind me.

BLITZER: All right. Kaitlan, standby, we're going to get back to you soon.

I want to go to John King. He's also joining us right now. John, these are truly extraordinary moments in American history that we are witnessing, a former American president about to surrender and be arrested. Let me get your thoughts as someone who has covered presidents like I have for many years.

KING: Wolf, once again, Donald Trump is taking us to a place, also as reporters and the country and the world, even, to some place we have never been before. For the fourth time, a former president in the United States will be processed in a courthouse on criminal charges. For the fourth time, that will happen. The man known for Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago will be walking into a grungy county courthouse to be processed by the sheriff on criminal charges. Just images alone are extraordinary.

This is my tenth presidential election. Many of those have been historic and wild rides, nothing anywhere close to what we are seeing right now. The former president of the United States and the current faraway frontrunner, far, far away frontrunner in the Republican Party for the presidential election next year facing his fourth criminal processing and potentially at least one or two of those trials playing out between now and as people vote in the Republican primary process first and then the general election next year, should he go on to be the nominee.

That's still a question, will he go on to be the nominee. But at the moment, he's an overwhelming favorite with a 40-point lead over his closest rival in the national polls. Does that, at some point, change? We've been asking that question since Donald Trump came onto the scene back in 2015. Would want to these controversies finally open the trapdoor, if you will? All of the evidence before us is, no, don't count on that.

So, we watch this extraordinary process today, the processing. And then I think the big questions, Wolf, how fast are these trials actually take place? Trump will push to delay them, prosecutors want to move them forward. So, where when you look into the presidential primary calendar?

There is a debate next month, Iowa votes in about 142 days from now. Next spring, you have your New Hampshire, Nevada, big Super Tuesday in early March. Is Donald Trump in a courtroom as all that plays out or does he get to push this down the process?

So, a remarkable spectacle today and then some big questions and the collision of Trump's legal issues with his political future comes pretty quickly.

BLITZER: All right. John, standby, we're going to get back to you as well. But right now, I want to go to the airport in Atlanta where Donald Trump's plane will land very soon.

CNN's Alayna Treene is on the scene for us. Alayna, walk us through what to expect when Trump and his entourage actually lands.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Right. Well, Wolf, the former president will be landing here very shortly. Although he is a bit delayed. It took him a bit of time to get off the tarmac in Newark, so he is roughly 50 minutes to an hour behind schedule. But once he lands, he will file into his motorcade and head directly to the Fulton County Jail. And that is also supposed to be a fairly quick process, I'm told.

I know that for days now, Donald Trump's team has been negotiating with the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, as well as with the jail itself and law enforcement here in Atlanta to ensure that Donald Trump can get in and out of the city as swiftly as possible.

Now, waiting here at the airport for Donald Trump to land are a few interesting characters. There is a lot of Donald Trump's advanced staff and aides but also his newly hired attorney, Steven Sadow, is also here. He is going to be accompanying Donald Trump in the motorcade and riding with him to the jail today, which just shows how he's already taking on a front and center will for the former president and his legal team in Georgia, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Alayna, I want you to stay with us. We're going to get back to you soon as well, stand by.

I want to bring in our legal and political experts for some analysis right now. It's interesting, Audie. Trump was arrested the first time back in April, and now, what, four months later, he's about to be arrested now for the fourth time within the next few hours. This is truly a remarkable course of events that all of us are watching unfold, right?

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's remarkable. Unfortunately, it is not unexpected and this was set into motion years ago when he made the decisions that he did. Fundamentally, he went through a legal process to challenge the election through many courts. More than 50 said you don't have the evidence. Everything he does beyond that, it didn't have to get to this point. And I think that will be sort of an interesting part of this going forward.

BLITZER: Supposedly, Gloria, he's going to be treated like the other defendants. But will he actually sit there and they will take a mug shot of him?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we really don't know the answer to that yet.


He hasn't had to do it before. But if he does have to take a mug shot, they are not going to give him a ring light, so he looks pretty with it. I can tell you that they are not made to look pretty. Laura and I were discussing this earlier. And I think, look, already, you have pro-Trump groups using fake mug shots on campaign paraphernalia that they are already distributing.

So, while I think he's going to find it humiliating, if they decided to do that, he will turn it in to some kind of a campaign theme, which is, you know, they did this mug shot for me but they can do this to any of you. And so he's going to use the victim theme again.

So, personally, I don't know why they would have to mug shot Donald Trump. His face is probably among the best known in the world. But if they do it, he will turn it into a campaign tactic.

BLITZER: We will see if that happens and we should know fairly, fairly soon.

Adam Kinzinger is with us as well, former member of the January 6th select committee.

Mark Meadows, the Trump White House chief of staff, he was arrested as well and sat for a mug shot. Did you ever think in your life you would be seeing what you are seeing right now unfold?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. It feels normal now, which is talking about how bad this is in the first place. It feels like, oh, it's just another day where people are getting arrested because they tried to overthrow the government. You know, Mark Meadows, particularly, I knew him in the House. BLITZER: When you served in the House and he served in the House.

KINZINGER: Yes, I served in the House with him. And he was kind of one of those guys you always watch had to kind of watch your back around. But when he went to the former president's cabinet, became the chief of staff and then basically was doing everything to do Donald Trump bidding, he set his own, talking about the course you set in motion, he set it that way.

And I will tell you, what still constantly strikes me, he was actually the MVP on the January 6th committee because his early texts actually opened up a lot of information to us about links that we didn't necessarily know yet existed and then he quit cooperating with us. If he's actually going to be cooperating with the feds, which my guess is he probably will be, I think there is a lot more information that can come of this.

But, I mean, every day I'm saddened by this but I'm also glad to see justice work and to see that there is nobody that is too powerful for justice.

BLITZER: What about this October 23rd date that is now being proposed for the start of all of these trials in Georgia? Is that realistic?

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, it's very ambitious, but, remember, Georgia has a specific Speedy Trial Right Act that gives the requirement that you have to do it within a certain amount of time but that also belongs to the defendant. And they are trying to essentially say, look, prosecutors, every time you guys call ready and you say you're ready to go with this trial, you actually better be ready to do so.

An important caveat, though, it only has to be set. It has to start within that speedy trial period. You know how long it's going to take to do jury selection in a case like this if all 19 are together? It's not October 23rd. It might be months and months and months.

But that assumes as well that everyone is being tried together. We know there is already a motion to try to remove it for at least Mark Meadows under the context that, look, I was doing my federal job, it's part of my job description. It is the purview preview of the state to actually have elections, so I don't know how you really make that argument. The other thing is he has to actually say, I have a viable federal defense here. It can't be that you just want a more expensive jury pool in the northern district of Georgia.

And so there is a lot of different moving parts, but in terms of the prosecutor, look, the second you indict a case, you better be ready to go. It doesn't necessarily mean the trial will take place.

BLITZER: It's interesting, George Conway, that a judge has ruled that one of Trump's fellow co-defendants, Kenneth Cheseboro, and his trial will actually start October 23rd due to his request for a speedy trial. A defendant can ask for a speedy trial. What do you make of that? GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: Well, sometimes you get what you asked for. And I think what he was doing there, my guess is, maybe he thinks his case is better off separate from the other defendants because he didn't have direct contact with Trump.

And he wrote a legal memo that I think is incriminating, I think a jury or lawyers would convict him on, but, I mean, you are going to have to explain to the lawyers, non-lawyers, that, oh, well, this paragraph, Professor Tribe's article right there is misstated. And if you look at Professor Tribes said in his (INAUDIBLE) of constitutional law, I mean, I don't know if that's going to go over too well before a jury.

So, he may actually have a case. I know Norm probably disagrees to some extent about that, he probably has a case that is a little bit better. I would take his case. If I were a defense attorney, I would pick his case over Trump's.

BLITZER: Let's get Norm to weigh in. What do you think, Norm?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You might take it over Trump's but it is a dead lose, of course.


I'm going to tell you why. Cheseboro argued there was a pivotal December 6th memo where he changed his tune. Before that, it was a legitimate legal argument. Then December 6th, he starts making these crazy arguments, the vice president can go into Congress and can just suspend the whole thing or can recognize -- he has the power to recognize the loser of the presidential election as the winner. If that's not enough, George, the vice president can send it back to state legislatures --

CONWAY: But, Norm, we're lawyers. We can see that it's --

EISEN: -- they'll overturn.

I think those views were so bizarre that the people, there is powerful evidence that the participants in this RICO conspiracy knew it at the time and you will easily be able to persuade a jury, wow, that goes too far.

I have spent over 30 years talking to juries, Laura also. I'm a defense lawyer. She's a prosecutor.

COATES: I'm only 21 years old. How dare you?

EISEN: You were there on an elementary school trip when I made my first opening argument. It is a treasure of American democracy, our juries. They represent the wisdom. They see through the B.S. I'm confident Fani Willis saw through the B.S. Why did she take 2.5 years to indict this case? Because she knew somebody might do speedy trial. She's ready and Cheseboro has a very steep hill. No crystal balls in trial practice, steep hill to climb.

BLITZER: All right, we shall see.

COATES: (INAUDIBLE), Wolf, you know what you just saw what the defense and advice of counsel is going to sound like in a courtroom trying to argue that very notion. Who is the advice of counsel? Was it sound? Was it a scholarly debate? And John Eastman is all ready making it right now.

BLITZER: We will see how this unfolds. Guys, everybody standby. We are getting much closer to Donald Trump's actual arrival in Atlanta and his surrender over at the Fulton County Jail. We are covering every moment of these truly historic events.

Stay with us. We will be right back.



BLITZER: We are back here in THE SITUATION ROOM with our special coverage of Donald Trump's imminent arrest in Georgia. Right now, he's on his way to Atlanta where he will surrender to authorities over at the Fulton County Jail and that will happen very, very soon.

I want to turn things over to John King. He's watching all of this unfold as well. John?

KING: And, Wolf, thank you, watching it with a great group of legal and political analyst. So, let's watch through as we wait, obviously, for the former president to show up at the Fulton County Jail, wait to watch the plane land at the Atlanta airport.

Karen, let me start with you as someone who has been a prosecutor. Just what is the process? We are not going to see. The moment is extraordinary, a former president of the United States walking into a county courthouse to be processed. But once he walks through those doors, what's going to happen?

AGNIFILO: So, he's actually in custody at the time when you walk in and you are in the custody of the sheriff, the Fulton County sheriff. And there is a whole processing that occurs when you go into custody. Some other defendants might be searched, for example. I'm not sure that that is happening in these defendants there. But you also have a mug shot. You have fingerprints taken. Your fingerprints are usually a computer prints, live-scanned, and it generates a rap sheet based on your fingerprints.

Donald Trump will have four arrests now and three open indictments on his rap sheet, which is astounding. That is a significant rap sheet that he has racked up. And they will ask him questions, pedigree questions and fill out forms. They will ask him his height and weight, his addresses, all those types of pedigree questions and then they will let him go.

I mean, they have already negotiated a consent bond through his lawyer. It's been agreed to by the judge, by the prosecutor and each charge, he's charged with 13 different counts in each one has an affixed amount associated with it. He totals $200,000. He has a choice of putting up the cash or a 10 percent bond, and I believe he is choosing the bond option. So, he will have to come up with the 10 percent.

KING: And, Temidayo, from your work on the January 6th committee, you know some of the details of all of this, this talk of maybe having a trial in October. We're having this conversation the last week of August. That's just around the corner. At all feasible, in your view?

TEMIDAYO AGANGA-WILLIAMS, FORMER JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE LAWYER: I don't think it's feasible. I'm putting my former prosecutor hat on for that. I don't think it's probably feasible but I will point out and point to our hearings that we had publicly in our report. We've had a sort of trial already in front of the American people. The American people have seen a lot this evidence, they've seen key witnesses, they've seen even, in fact, a larger trial than D.A. Fani Willis is going to have to put down.

So, I think why that's insightful is that I do think that this case that she's going to be prepared the way I think our committee was prepared to put it on, she's been taking about this for 2.5 years and I think she is already, I bet, has the opening and that closing statement already thought out. She has the evidence laid out, what we call the proof, an order of proof, as we call it when I was a prosecutor. She's going to be ready.

So, I don't think the question was not going to go forward is not because she's not ready, I think other defendants are going to step in and say, they don't want to go forward in October.

KING: Scott Jennings, you just Karen say, Donald Trump is innocent until proven guilty, as anybody is and should been United States justice system. But a rap sheet, now four criminal against him, and yet if you look at our CNN poll of polls, the average recent polls, he's at 57 percent. You see the other candidates there, Governor DeSantis at 17, a 40-point gap national, if you go state-by-state to pick nominees, but that is a good baseline of where we are right now.

The guy with the rap sheet is at 57 percent. What does that tell you about today's Republican Party?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Most Republicans think until he's convicted that he is being unfairly persecuted, prosecuted, however you want to say it, maybe both. I do think that if he ever becomes convicted, you are going to see this change significantly. I know this because there was some polling recently. Quinnipiac came out with some polling, 58 percent of Republican said a convicted felon should not be eligible to be president. 70 percent of all Americans said that.

So, until he is convicted, I think he is going to continue to get the benefit of the doubt from Republicans and he is going to continue to fuel the message machine that creates that doubt.

[18:25:06] But once a jury of your peers makes a decision and renders judgment, I do think it changes the minds of a significant cohort. He'll always have a base. Maybe he never drops below 36 or 37 percent in a national election. But that is a far cry from what you need it to win and he's never won the national popular vote to begin with.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The question for Republicans is when does this all happened because the primary calendar is set. And if he secures the delegates to become the nominee, then you are faced with a situation where you have a nominee who may be convicted of a felony after he is nominated. And how do you -- there is no playbook on any of this, but how do you deal with that is a huge problem.

Well, right now, I agree with you. Right now, he is a victim in the eyes of most Republicans and they are going to watch this exercise as a political exercise, not as a criminal justice exercise.

JENNINGS: The issue you raise, if you go to the convention and he's got the delegates locked up but prior to the formal nomination, I will tell you one thing. He has got a terrific campaign team. These people know how to work RNC conventions. They are smart. They have been looking ahead to prospects of having to fight delegate issues on the floor. It's not like they are going to roll over on it either if someone does go to the convention and say, they can't do this. They will be prepared. It's uncharted, it's fascinating but also scary for a party that hasn't won the national popular vote since 2004.

KING: As we watch this play out again, the former president of the United States will walk into the Fulton County courthouse, I want to ask the two lawyers two very different approaches from the two different prosecutors on this question of election interference. When Jack Smith brought his election interference case, it was a narrow set of charges against Donald Trump and the people around him talk about done on purpose, done on purpose to keep it clean, to keep it simple, pushing aside things that maybe you think you could prosecute but you want a clear case.

Fani Willis here has decided to use racketeering laws. You have, what, 18, 19 defendants here. Is that a harder case, in your view, to prove to a jury or does the big group somehow make it easier because you are doing conspiracy, not all specifics, if you will?

AGNIFILO: I think the thing with the 19 different defendants and I think her indictment goes from November of 2020 to September of 2022, that is a sweeping large amount of time. She has 161 acts, 41 counts, 98-page indictment. It can get complicated for a jury.

And don't forget, every single witness is going to be cross-examined 19 times because every lawyer has an opportunity to cross-examine them, which means, you know, imagine getting asked the same thing over and over again by 19 different people and your answer changes a little bit and it creates a little bit of -- it's just very unbalanced for a jury and I think it can get lost.

But I also think that Fani Willis has shown that she is a real pro. I think the way she has handled and really thought through all sorts of issues ahead of time, like she was prepared for this speedy trial, that she might have to go right away.

So, I think -- she has tried many RICO cases before. She knows how to tell the story to a jury in a way that isn't confusing, that won't get lost. I think if anyone can do it, it's her and her team and I think it will be very effective.

KING: And yet, she supposed to think, what's the case, what's the law, what's the facts, not what's the politics. She has to know, if this case were to go to trial in the middle of the election season and Donald Trump were to, quote/unquote, win, the political impact of that would be wild.

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: I'm sure she's thinking that. But like any prosecutor, there is a lot of things that come into your analysis that you have to push to the side and move forward. And what I suspect even with those 19 defendants, you see these large cases, they start out quite large.

And what you will see with time is that the pressures will start to be felt by these defendants, financial pressures for paying for lawyer fees, just the emotional pressure of considering, am I going to go to prison, am I going to leave my cozy life and sit in prison for years for a guy who is probably isn't going to help me?

And what I suspected is that you are going to see that 19 number start to go a little lower. People will start to plead. Some people will flip. And by the time she gets to trial, I think that D.A. Willis is going to have a much more manageable case and it is going to a look at those at the top. And I think that's what's likely to be the actual trial.

KING: And, Wolf, as we get back to you, just listening to the conversation, a remarkable day just to watch the former president walk into the courthouse to take another step in this process but so much uncertainty, both legally and politically as we move on from here.

BLITZER: Yes, we have a lot to digest, indeed, John.

Stay with us. Don't go too far away. We are tracking Donald Trump's flight right now to Atlanta as he prepares to turn himself in to authorities over at the Fulton County Jail.


Our special live coverage continues in a moment.


BLITZER: We are back here in THE SITUATION ROOM with our special live coverage of Donald Trump's imminent arrest in Georgia. He's on his way to Atlanta. He's almost there now. He will surrender to authorities over at the Fulton County Jail.

CNN's Ryan Young is just outside the jail. He's joining us right now. So, Ryan, what's the security like there is the jail gets ready to book the former president of the United States?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we started to see security here get amped up a little bit. One police source told me they are comparing this to over a Super Bowl-level type of security.


They have more than ten agencies from around the Metro Atlanta here in the last half hour or so. They've added more layers of security.

Take a look at this other camera that we have. I can show you this Fulton County bus has been moved in the middle of Jefferson Street and they are placing that on one side, and you can see how the officers have sort of surround. We've also see K-9 units start moving through this area to make sure there are no, obviously, explosive.

Now as we turn this camera down the street all the way. There is a very long street here. They've also used a dump truck on the other side of this, as our camera pans. You see, that's the entrance where they believe the president is going to go through. There is the dump truck that is down the street there that they believe they are blocking off the road here.

Now, look, Wolf, people have been talking about the president being treated like anyone else. I can tell you, for someone who is arrested and brought here to the Fulton County Jail, sometimes people have to wait eight hours before they are processed. That won't happen for the president. We are told Secret Service agents will be able to accompany him inside. This process could take about 30 minutes or so. Yes, he will be fingerprinted.

Now, there is all other questions about whether or not a mug shot was going to happen. You know Sheriff Pat Labat has said that he plans to do the mug shot for the former president. They have been planning for this for months. And that's why you see the extra layers of security.

When you pull back out and you see the fact that they got all this heavy equipment on the outside, they were concerned early with the influx of protesters coming into this area. That has really tamped down in the last two hours or so. In fact, at one point, there were reports that people were blocking the roadway on the way to the jail. That quickly dissipated after police were able to check on it.

So, when you put all this together and you think about the short timeline that they want the president on the ground, it will probably take about 15 minutes in total. And they are giving them the full presidential sort of push from the airport here to the jail. It should take no less than about 15 minutes to arrive here at the facility.

Once he goes inside, the extra layers of security will surround him as they move him through this process. The planning on this has been extensive. We have seen drones in the air as well to make sure all the cars that are also in this area checked out. They are continuing to look, Wolf. Again, someone comparing it to the Super Bowl, in terms of the level of security that is now surrounding the Fulton County Jail.

BLITZER: Yes. And this is the history unfolding right now. Ryan Young, thank you very much.

I want to go to CNN's Kaitlan Collins. She's also over at the Fulton County Jail awaiting Trump's arrival. Kaitlan, I know you and our colleagues have followed every step leading up to this truly extraordinary moment.

COLLINS: Yes, that's right, Wolf. Even though this is the fourth time that we have seen Trump turning himself in, surrendering himself, it's still remarkable. And, of course, this is a different case. It is here in Georgia. These are state charges that he's facing and it's very complex.

We've got CNN's Paula Reid and CNN's Sara Murray here with us. And one of the things that he is coming here to do is to surrender himself. He's already negotiated his bond consent deal, what that's going to look like. But these are some pretty strict conditions that he's going to be under when it comes to not intimidating witnesses or co- defendants, but also not putting out threatening messages to the community. I mean, what are these restrictions actually going to look like in real life for him?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's a great question because it's not that hard for most people do not threaten witnesses, right, or anyone involved in the case. But for the former president, a lot of his political messaging is around attacking this case, and you've seen him walk right up to the line.

For example, there are specific restrictions on him when it comes to social media. He's the only person we've seen so far whose bond agreement includes a social media provision. But we have seen him on social media already this week attacking the district attorney.

But if you look closely at the terms of his bond, he is not prevented from talking about it and opining on the district attorney. He still has a First Amendment right but it comes to this tricky issue of what is your First Amendment to speak out against a publicly elected official and what is, potentially, inciting violence because we've seen threats against the grand jury, against the district attorney and others. It's going to be really tricky to enforce this bond agreement.

COLLINS: And is that something that's up to the judge here, Sara, I mean, when it comes to whether or not that does happen? I mean, Trump was just posting about the district attorney, Fani Willis, about an hour ago and a lengthy post talking about the crime rate here in Atlanta as he's unfair -- talking about how he believes he's being unfairly targeted here.

MURRAY: Yes. And, look, I think the district attorney has a pretty thick skin and basically has been enduring this from Donald Trump and his supporters for a couple years now. But I think when you look at what happened before he got slapped with these restrictions, the day Geoff Duncan, the former lieutenant governor, was going in to testify before the grand jury that was going to issue these indictments, Trump was tweeting at him not to testify and insulting him.

And I think it is stuff like that that the district attorney and the judge is going to be looking for. I think if the D.A.'s office feels like he does violate the terms of his bond agreement, what we are going to see is we are going to see them go to the judge, say, we believe he violated these terms and then perhaps suggest next steps.

But as Paula pointed out, you are in a difficult position when someone is a candidate for the president of the United States, because you don't want to infringe on their First Amendment rights.


And you are not just going to reflexively threaten to throw them behind bars, something that seems impractical for someone who has Secret Service protection.

COLLINS: Yes. And we do know he's already planning to speak potentially tonight, as he did before he got on the plane the last time he was indicted in Washington. He's doing an interview with a friendly outlet. The other thing, though, that stands out today is we saw Mark Meadows' mug shot. If you cover Trump in the White House and just to see Mark Meadows mug shot in and of itself is striking. But also he's someone who has been laying very low lately. I mean, Trump's own team and attorneys had been suspicious of why he's been so quiet, why they haven't heard from him.

REID: He is. The first time that mug shot is the first time I think I've seen him in quite some time. He was a ubiquitous presence at the Trump White House but he has been lying low because he is a central figure in the January 6 investigation.

As we were talking earlier, the January 6th committee concluded that all roads led to Mark Meadows. And in many ways, they placed the blame on him, just as much as they did the former president. So, the fact that he wasn't charged at the federal level was notable, raises questions about the extent of his cooperation with the special counsel. So, seeing him charged here notable.

He is trying his darendest, though, to get these charges dismissed. He even tried to extend his surrender deadline but he was not successful, so he's on here a short time ago.

But it is truly remarkable. Remember, he was so happy to have that job. It's one of those powerful positions in Washington. And for it to end up here in Fulton County for him to be a criminal defendant, it's historic.

COLLINS: Yes. Paula Reid, Sara Murray, fascinating developments here, Wolf, that we have been seeing just a flurry of activity, not just for Mark Meadows but also, of course, waiting any moment for Trump himself to land here.

BLITZER: And it's only just beginning. Kaitlan, stand by. We are going to have live coverage of Donald Trump's arrival in Atlanta. It should be very, very soon. He's on the brink of his fourth criminal arrest. CNN is, of course, live on the scene. We are watching all of this unfold, history in the making. We will be right back.



BLITZER: Right now, we're closing in on Donald Trump's landing and Atlanta, and a spectacle unlike anything we've ever seen before. The former president of the United States, entering a jail complex to be arrested and processed.

Let's bring back our panel of experts.

The last three times he was arrested and process this year, Audie, as you well know, it was at a courthouse, not in a jail, especially not in a notorious jail like this Fulton County jail.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know this feel special because he is the former president. For people whose lives are actually touched by the justice system, this is their reality. And part of the theories that are built into this system is deterrence.

Look at what is happening to this person and that person. Look at this mugshot, do you want to be this person? And I think we have to keep that in mind today because we are talking about what the lawyers are saying to each other, and what might be criminal and what might not be.

But overall, as a culture, we are trying to say what is legal. How far can you go to challenge an election? What does it look like to step over the line? If any of you either are thinking of stepping over the line this could happen to you as well.

BLITZER: Elliot Williams is with us as well.

Elliot, all of this is unfolding. Trump today shook up his defense team. He brought in a new criminal defense in Atlanta, Steven Sadow, someone who's got an excellent reputation, got rid of his old attorney. What do you make of that?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's not just the reputation. It's the fact that he got expertise in RICO cases. And, look, not all lawyers are created equal, Wolf, and expertise is very important. Just like in medicine you wouldn't want to cardiologists operating on your shoulder, you don't want someone who doesn't have RICO experience trying your RICO case.

And so, what Trump has done here is it is a sign a recognition of how serious this is, number two, that they intend to challenge the basis for some of the racketeering charges that have been brought here.

So, it's actually the rare instances of a smart lawyer hiring decision by the Trump team. They have a practice, sort of, bringing in people who were loyal to their causes. It is actually bringing in a grown-up to help write the show.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It depends how serious they are taking this. This is something that scares Donald Trump.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, perhaps.

BLITZER: That's interesting, George, because eight of the co- defendants of Trump have yet to make all of this procedure done, to get themselves processed and arrested. The deadline is noon tomorrow as you will know. What if they do not meet the deadline?

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE ATTORNEY: They will issue bench warrants. I mean, I don't know the precise technical word, but basically they will enter warrants into whatever their system, the judges to sign the warrants, and then they will take those warrants to other states, and have people arrested there and extradited to Georgia, I assume.

WILLIAMS: You would go after them and forgive me, I am not sure which body would be in Georgia, whether it is the Georgia Bureau of Investigations or some, you know, Georgia state police or whomever, sheriffs. But you can go after them and arrest them at that point if they haven't shown up for their hearing.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Norm. One of Trump's codefendants, Harrison Floyd, the leader of what is called the Black Voices for Trump. He is in custody over at this jail right now, after turning himself in within a bond agreement. Unlike the other defendants that are happening right now.

What do you think of that?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I believe Mr. Floyd had a pre- existing warrant. He was not -- and as a result he is being -- what we call stepped back. We will see if he's able to go before a judge.

To Audie's point about the justice of the justice system, it is very important that these defendants be treated the same way as any defendant. That is the idea of American rule of law. That's why I think that they should share, like we said, I think that he should get a mugshot. It will send a terrible message if he doesn't get a mug shot.


This gentleman, Mr. Floyd, has a record as part of the regular thing you do. The last item that they do in this jail, a warrant's check. And apparently he has an issue, so he is being sent back.

I don't think he's going to be permanently detained, but there will be some processes.

WILLIAMS: This whole question of creating an exception for the mugshot but nothing else, it is sort of odd on this basis that everybody knows what Donald Trump looks like so therefore, we shouldn't do a mugshot of him. Of all of the aspects of the criminal justice system, it is a very bizarre one to carve out. Every other step of the way he is being advised of his rights, he's showing up in court, and so on.

Famous people get arrested all the time and the idea that simply by virtue of being president he's exempted from that one aspect doesn't sit right.

EISEN: And for this gentleman, he was earlier charged, to be precise, he was earlier charged with an assault on an FBI agent.

BLITZER: We're talking about Harrison Floyd.

EISEN: And that is why they've stepped him back. Now, we'll see what happens in terms of his eventual release. I don't know if he will be permanently --

BLITZER: Let me get to Adam Kinzinger to this conversation.

You are a former Republican congressman, you know about politics right now. This former president of the United States is about to be arrested within an hour or so. Roughly speaking, he is by far the front-runner for the Republican, your party's presidential nomination.

When the mugshot, let's say there is a mugshot, all of this emerges, is he still going to be the front-runner?

KINZINGER: Yeah, he will. I mean, look, it's -- there is this weird strain that I don't really understand in my party of, you know, of the crazier you are, the more outrageous you say, the truth does not matter because, I don't know if it's all about owning the libs, if it's some tribal culture thing, whatever it is, that is what it is.

So, Donald Trump needs to be very embarrassed about today. But I think he's going to lean forward on this and pretend that he isn't. That is his whole thing, it's bravado. But, Wolf, the important thing here, the most I have learned in my time in the January 6th committee, the most difficult form of government's democracy or republic.

Having the dictators, you don't have to talk about issues, you just do what you are told. Part of a defending that difficult way of governing yourself is to prosecute people that go out of the lines, in a way that can threaten the future of this government, that is what they are doing now, it is important to see it.

BORGER: You know, and I think after today, the whole nature of this political campaign completely changes. It is about Donald Trump's indictments. And as much as the candidates don't want to talk about it, as much as we saw that last night in the debate, and we were not given a lot of opportunities to do it but as much as they want to avoid it, the campaign now will be about Donald Trump victimizing, saying I am the victim, I am representing you and your grievances. And the other candidates are going to spend an awful lot of time dealing with that.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody, standby. We have a lot more to assess.

Coming, of Donald Trump could arrive in Atlanta at any moment now. We are standing by here for his landing, then his journey to the county jail, and his surrender and arrest.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: We are following the breaking news. Donald Trump's plane is about to land in Atlanta where he will turn himself and over at the Fulton County jail.

I want to go back to CNN's John King as we stand by for Trump's arrival in this historic moment -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, big minutes, big hour ahead as the former president is about to land in Atlanta.

Let's come back with my great group here.

And, Karen, let me start with you. You watched the process for us earlier on the program. What's your biggest question of how this plays out, not just in the hour ahead, but what does today mean for this case going forward?

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think really when the trial will occur is a big question. Will it happen? Now that Ken Chesebro has said that he wants a speedy trial?

I don't think that Fani Willis is going to want to sever these cases, so she's going to insist that many of them go, if not most. I think if that happens, that will happen very quickly.

What is interesting about Georgia is the trial will be televised, unlike in federal court. Which I think is significant for people to see themselves. What the evidence is, what the witnesses say, and make their own decision and not just his, Donald Trump's spin about what happens in court.

So I think that will be a very interesting to see how this ends up playing out and when.

KING: You talked earlier about you think of this is as poetic justice. Let me flip the table and play contrarian. If you were one of the lawyers, whether it is for the former president or one of these other codefendants, what is the best strategy to get what Trump wants, which is a long delay?

TEMIDAYO AGANGA-WILLIAMS, FORMER JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE LAWYER: I think, first, heavy motion practice. I mean, if I was his lawyers, I am looking for every possible legal avenue to challenge this indictment, to challenge the authorities who bring this case. I'm spending every dollar I have pushing that forward and challenging it in every way.

And I think if I'm also former President Trump, I'm hoping that my codefendant stand strong. I think that's what -- if there is a joint defense approach here with these 19 defendants or a big portion of them are acting in a cohesive manner, that's going to be tougher for D.A. Willis and that might strengthen the hand. KING: Republicans who don't want Trump are constantly in these

conversations about if this were pre-Trump, if these were 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, maybe ten years from now, 20 years from now, being charged with four separate cases would be disqualifying. But is there anything, do they see any possibility politically? What is the legal threshold that they think might change that dynamic?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's conviction. I think, ultimately, as I reflect on all of these, the beauty of all of this is that Donald Trump's fate will just be in the hands of ordinary Americans, juries will render some kind of verdict on him in these legal cases, and then a jury of his peers will render a political verdict in the Republican primaries, and if he is the nominee, in the general election.

So, for all the political bluster and attacking the prosecutors and the attacking of the system, and this and that, at the end of the day, it will just be a handful of ordinary Americans who will decide whether he goes forward as a dominant person in our politics. I actually take a lot of comfort in that. I don't know how it will turnout, but I do think any conviction in any of these cases would cause a fairly serious cohort of right leaning voters to abandon ship.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I hope people respect that. I think that is the way the American system should be seen, and respected by citizens. I do worry that if the first convictions come in Washington, D.C., or Atlanta, that Trump will do what Trump does and play on people's prejudices, and suggest that this was just the functional politics. I hope that that is rejected if that's the case.

JENNINGS: If I may add, I do think -- no matter how it turns out, everybody has to accept outcomes. If he's convicted, Republicans have to accept the outcomes.

KING: Let me interrupt you in that point. He did not accept the outcome of the election, he didn't respect the outcome of losing every challenge, recount, et cetera. And he's preconditioned a lot of his voters to listen to him, not to respect the process, right?

JENNINGS: That's why he's here today, because we are launching towards this is society where we just don't accept the outcomes we don't like. So Republicans will have to accept the outcomes. If he is acquitted, Democrats will have to accept the outcomes as well. We just can't keep going down this road of refusing to accept outcomes produced by institutions.

AXELROD: I agree with you, his legacy as a disrespect for rules and laws, and norms and institutions, which he discounts. That's why he's been dangerous to our democracy.

KING: I don't know what the circuit breaker is though. What I've seen in Iowa recently, a Trump voters said, it was in D.C. and New York. If she wouldn't believe it, it was in Florida, she said maybe she would.

The polarization is just a fact, Wolf, as we wait for the big minutes and the big hour ahead.

AXELROD: And, John, we are keeping obviously a very, very close eye on the Atlanta airport right now for Donald Trump's landing, and it should happen at any moment.

To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

CNN's special live breaking news coverage continues right now with Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper, and Kaitlan Collins.