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The Source with Kaitlan Collins
Trump Pleads Not Guilty In January 6 Probe, Next Hearing On August 28; Trump Calls Indictment A "Persecution Of A Political Opponent"; Judge Assigned To Case Has Been Outspoken About January 6 Riot. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 03, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CO-HOST: Donald Trump is back at Bedminster, New Jersey, tonight, at the end of another sad day, for the country, he once served, as President.
Anderson Cooper, here in New York. I'm joined, again, this hour, by Jake Tapper, in Washington, and Kaitlan Collins, outside the Federal Courthouse, where he was arraigned, for a third time, this afternoon.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CO-HOST: And Anderson, that courthouse is just steps away, from the U.S. Capitol, which of course was stormed, by that violent mob, of Trump supporters, two-and-a-half years ago.
It was protected, today, by members of law enforcement, including from the D.C. Metro Police Department, which came under direct attack, that horrible day, all just so the former President, who has now been charged, in connection with that attack, could safely enter a plea.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CO-HOST: And Jake, inside that courthouse, behind me, obviously Trump was taken into custody. He was processed. He pleaded not guilty himself, to the charges, against him.
A federal magistrate judge, then set the next court date, for the 28th, just a few weeks from now. That is when it's expected that a trial date will be set.
But also, I'm learning tonight that Trump left here, in a sour and dejected move -- he was -- mood. He was quote, "Pissed off," according to someone, who spoke to him that came after.
He had motorcade through -- motorcaded through that Washington traffic, had that processing part that happened here. He then went to the tarmac, where he was expected to take reporter -- questions, from reporters, who were there. It was raining though, and they changed their plans. He did not take any questions.
And instead, departing Washington, as he held this umbrella, that was handed to him, by his co-defendant, in the documents case, Walt Nauta, the former President then said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: When you look at what's happening, this is a persecution of a political opponent. This was never supposed to happen in America.
This is the persecution of the person that's leading by very, very substantial numbers, in the Republican primary, and leading Biden, by a lot. So, if you can't beat him, you persecute him, or you prosecute him. We can't let this happen in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: After that, he ascended the stairs of his plane.
But I am told that the former President, one thing that irked him particularly was during that hearing today, that lasted about 27 minutes, was when the magistrate judge referred to him, as simply "Mr. Trump."
That may not sound odd, to anyone else. But he is still referred to by his former title, "President Trump," when he's at his Bedminster Golf Club, in New Jersey, as he is tonight, or at Mar-a-Lago.
I'm here tonight with CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent, Paula Reid, and CNN Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez, both of whom have been covering this all day.
I mean, Evan, you were actually, in the room, today, when Trump was being processed? I mean, could you tell that he was in this sour dejected mood that people are describing to me now?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there were definitely periods, where he was very animated. He was having conversations, with Todd Blanche.
And there was something in the paperwork that was handed over to him that seemed to annoy him. And, we've all seen him when he gets sort of irked, you know? And certainly, I described it earlier, as, a look, you saw when he was on stage, with Hillary Clinton.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Right.
PEREZ: And she said something that got under his skin. And, we've seen that face that he makes that's appeared in so many memes. And that's what you saw.
There were moments, where he clearly looked at Jack Smith. This is something that was different, from the Miami arraignment, because of the position of where he was sitting, and where Jack Smith was, in that courtroom. In this one, he was basically, in direct line of sight. And Jack Smith, clearly, also looked at him.
And he had about 20 minutes, to sort of do this, before the judge actually sat on the bench. So, there was a lot--
COLLINS: So, it was just totally silent, in the room, for 20 minutes, before she came in?
PEREZ: There was -- exactly. And there's a lot of time. And he sat there. He signed some paperwork, which is standard. It's the pre-trial paperwork that happens.
And it certainly, I think, a different man than we saw, for example, in the New York arraignment, where he was almost defiant. I mean, you saw him give the fist pump, when he was going into that courthouse. That was not the look you had here today.
COLLINS: Yes. And of course, one thing that they talked about so much, at the end, that seemed to be the only kind of dispute that happened was, what the trial date's going to look like. And what are we expecting, on August 28th, at 10 AM, when they're back here?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're expecting to get a trial date. I mean, Kaitlan, this appears to be a rocket docket.
The judge has given the government seven days, to report back to her, with when they could go to trial, and how long that trial will take. And then, defense attorneys have another week, to answer the same.
So, the fact that she wants to put a date on the calendar, within a month of this indictment? That suggests she really wants to move this along quickly. Now, it's impossible to say, at this point, if this will go to trial, before the election. We need to know a lot more.
One of the biggest outstanding questions that could impact timing, though, would be additional charges, or additional defendants. We know, from our reporting, they continue to investigate. They have more witness interviews. And it's our understanding that that is all in anticipation of likely superseding indictments.
COLLINS: Yes. And so, we wait to see if other people are charged.
One thing that I was so struck by is who was in the room, today.
COLLINS: Evan, not just you, but seven federal judges were in there, including Judge Boasberg, who played a key role in deciding what could stay secret, and what couldn't, in the documents case, and the fact.
COLLINS: I mean, what went -- is that normal to see seven federal judges, sitting in the back, of your arraignment?
PEREZ: That is not normal. But I mean, look, I think, there's a lot of significance about this entire proceeding.
You have the Capitol, right over there. Certainly, the violence that happened, on January 6, I mean, I was walking down, on the West Front of the Capitol, when right at the moment, when Officer Fanone was being attacked. I have pictures from that. And I walked over this way, frankly, to get away from the mob.
And so, for the judges, in this courthouse, they've been dealing, with hundreds of pro-Trump defendants, who they're having to sentence. One of them was being sentenced today, a Proud Boy. And so, I think there's a reason why they showed up, because, of the importance.
And I think one of the big things that has happened, in this courthouse, is the judges have repeatedly said that they believe that it's important, for these cases, to be adjudicated, before the next election, in part, to send a message, right, to try to prevent this from happening again. And I think all of that carries great significance, over what was going on, there, today.
COLLINS: And also, some of those officers were there, today, Paula, watching this.
COLLINS: I mean, Officer Dunn, Officer Gonell, Officer Hodges, they came to, to kind of bear witness, to the person that several of them have blamed, publicly, for what happened, on January 6, for instigating that. They were there, watching it, today.
REID: It's a reminder of the real lives that were forever changed, by January 6th.
And in this indictment, the prosecutors will lay out their case, for how the former President's pressure campaign, his lies, how it all culminated, in the violence, on January 6th. I mean, he is obviously not charged with anything related specifically to violence. But it's the idea that all of this helped to inspire, what happened there. So, it's really notable that they came, as this is kind of the crescendo of these prosecutions.
PEREZ: One of the strangest--
COLLINS: Will they talk--
PEREZ: Let me just, real quick.
PEREZ: One of the strangest persons, to see, in this courtroom, was Evan Corcoran--
PEREZ: --who is, of course, an important witness--
PEREZ: --in the Mar-a-Lago case. And he was -- he came in separately, from the other lawyers. He's
still representing the former President. And he sat separately from them, left separately. But he's still on Trump's legal team. And it's a really remarkable thing to see.
REID: And a reminder of what Bill Barr told you, last night, right? If you're going to represent former President Trump, you better have insurance, and you could expect to be involved, in some sort of grand jury.
PEREZ: Have to hire your own lawyer.
COLLINS: I mean, he laughed out loud, when we said -- when we said -- when I asked him, "What is your advice?" I mean, because he wasn't Trump's attorney, but he was his Attorney General.
COLLINS: And he dealt with him on all these matters--
COLLINS: --where Trump obviously wanted the Justice Department, to be doing things, they weren't doing. I mean, he laughed out loud at that idea.
COLLINS: And -- but in a serious way, said that they could very soon be turning into witnesses, which Evan Corcoran has.
PEREZ: Right, exactly. And have to hire their own lawyers. I mean, that's partly why he said, you might have to get some insurance. And I mean, it's a joke, but it's also very true.
PEREZ: And you certainly see that repeatedly, with the former President, and the lives of some of the Trump supporters too. I mean, some of those people's lives are forever changed, because they listened to his lies.
They listened to him say "Come. And I'm going to come with you." And of course, he didn't, right? In the end, they're the ones facing the consequences, while he kind of has, his legal teams, and all this stuff, and he's fighting, and he's got Republicans, in Congress, who are -- who have his back on this.
COLLINS: I think Barr referred to them is at a path of carnage that people like that--
COLLINS: --that Trump has left, in his wake.
Evan Perez, Paula Reid, thank you both.
Anderson, back to you
COOPER: That is a long path indeed, Kaitlan.
Back now, this hour, with Van Jones, Elie Honig, Karen Friedman Agnifilo, Alyssa Farah Griffin, Adam Kinzinger, and David Urban.
Congressman, you obviously were on the January 6 committee. Had -- I talked -- we talked about this a little earlier today. But you have no doubt that had the January 6 committee not done the work that it did, and got the information that it did, and captivated the public, in the way that it did, that the Justice Department would perhaps not have gone forward with these?
ADAM KINZINGER, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE - ILLINOIS, (R) FORMER MEMBER, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, I have no doubt that that actually ignited them to start something. Maybe they would have eventually started something.
But I think, my sense was when they saw the information we had, when they realized that? And this is a big thing, because as we talk about the January 6th, and the day of January 6th, sometimes we can get lost in the violence of that day. And it's important.
But January 6, to me, and it's one of the things I learned, through this committee, through our research on that, it was a symptom. The real rot was everything that led up to it. And that's what you're going to see, in this court case, is--
COOPER: And that's really what these indictments are about?
KINZINGER: Exactly. And it's like, the President saying -- just, I mean, you think about what he said to, just to the acting Attorney General, "Just say the election was corrupt, just say it, just say it was corrupt. And then, you don't have to do anything. That's enough. Leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."
And so, you realize the rot that led up to the 6th. And I predicted violence on January 6, before January 6, because I saw everything leading up to it. But I think that's going to be driven home to the American people. We did a little bit of it, on our committee, but you'll see that too, in this case, which is, yes, January 6 was a symptom.
COOPER: There's also a lot more to come in -- I mean, once this goes to trial. There's a lot of details. There's witnesses we don't know about. There's a lot of information that's not in these indictments.
KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER MANHATTAN CHIEF ASSISTANT D.A., CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. So, they don't put everything, prosecutors don't put every single thing, every witness, every piece of information, inside the indictment. The trial is going to be much fuller, many more witnesses.
And I think, the way Jack Smith, in his press conference, I think he framed it exactly the way Congressman Kinzinger just said, which is, this wasn't about, you know, when he talked about the Capitol Police officers, he says, they weren't just protecting the building. They weren't just protecting the people in the building. They were protecting our democracy. And that's what this is about, this indictment.
It's about -- and I looked here, starting on page 39. It does talk about the violence, and it does talk about how the President exploited it, for several pages. But really, the story, the arc of this indictment, and of the trial, is going to be the attempt, to steal our democracy, our way. It's just a free and fair election. And to just literally steal an election from the American people?
ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: One thing, I think, we can discern from this indictment is who some of the witnesses are likely to be. And it's really remarkably powerful, when you think about it.
I mean, Mike Pence is going to be a witness, based on this indictment. There are paragraphs in here that have to be solely based on Mike Pence's account, of one-on-one conversations, he had, with Donald Trump, bolstered by Mike Pence's contemporaneous notes. Imagine that? That's going to happen.
This is going to go to trial. Donald Trump's former Vice President is, in all likelihood, going to take the stand against him. Maybe even while they're running against each other. Who knows when the timing is going to be? And looking at him, as a prosecutor, I think he's a great witness.
I don't have any particular views, on Mike Pence, politically. I'll leave that to you all. But he did the right thing, that day. He's backed up, by his notes, from the day in question. He is, I mean, he's literally a God-fearing man. When a lot of people take that oath, I don't know how seriously they take it. I feel like he will take it quite seriously.
We're going to have other witnesses, Republican elected officials, state officials, Brad Raffensperger, we know the names, Adams committee did, I think, an remarkable job, of showing us, what they had to say, Cassidy Hutchinson. We still don't know where Mark Meadows is.
But that's what's going to really happen. It's hard to envision, but that's what this trial is going to be. That's how big the stakes are going to be. DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, and I think Elie's point is well-taken. But I don't think anybody was surprised to see Mike Pence, say the things.
URBAN: Because he's said it already. We've seen him say it.
It will be surprising, if Mark Meadows is there. It will be surprising, if the guy, who's standing next to Trump, on January 6th, right up until the final moments, and then weeks after that, right, is up there testifying.
I think, that will be much more damaging than from hearing from anybody we've heard for, in the January 6, or the former Vice President, because people expect that. They don't expect to hear from Mark Meadows. So, I think that's going to be very interesting to see.
And on the, again, on, I just don't want to overstate this. But I think discovery is very important here. I think if I was a judge, I would let the folks hoist on their own petards, and say, "Go ahead, have discovery as much as you like," because remember what Rudy said, "We've got plenty of theories. We just don't have any evidence," right? And so, say "Great, have as much discovery as you'd like."
Because the second they don't allow discovery, is the second that Republicans will turn, and say, "Aha, they're not letting us. This is a persecution," right, not a prosecution.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that this is going to be tougher than people understand, because Trump did something unprecedented, but not illegal. And then, he did stuff that's unprecedented that is illegal.
The part that's unprecedented, but legal is, there are these extra innings that the Constitution allows for, that most presidents, they just concede. They say listen, "I didn't get enough votes. I concede." That's not required. It's just a convention. It's just something that we do in this country.
But if you don't concede, there are all these extra innings, there are all these other things that can happen, the States got to certify this, and the Electoral. And nobody has contested every single little thing afterwards. But it's legal, you could do that. It's offensive, but it's legal.
But you can't cheat in the extra innings. And so, that's why it's going to be hard for people. People will say, "Listen, he had the right to do this. He had the right to do this." He had the right to do it the right way. He didn't have the right to do it the wrong way. This is going to be hard. Everybody's going to wind up getting a
civics lesson, and going to law school, over the next three or four months, just to understand what's going on.
So, but I think it's important to point out, you could have a Democratic president, who feels that "Georgia and Mississippi stole elections. They suppressed Black vote. And I'm not going to concede. I want to get to the bottom of that." That's perfectly OK.
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Right.
JONES: But you can't cheat and lie and stoke violence, along the way.
So, I'm just saying, I just want to let people understand, you're going to -- if you think this is an open and shut thing, on either side, you are completely wrong. This is going to be a much more complicated thing, for the American people, to understand.
URBAN: And Van raises a good point, about the extra innings, right? A lot of this is because of extra innings, right? Look, I think America is looking prospectively. We should really have a big discussion about having Election Day be Election Day.
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Yes.
URBAN: And on Election Night, at midnight, we know who the winner is, right? And we -- it's not three days after, a week after. People want to go to bed and know what happened.
JONES: You get bipartisan--
URBAN: They want certainty.
JONES: You can get bipartisan agreement on a--
URBAN: They want certainty in that. And that will eliminate a lot of this distrust in America--
JONES: When we come out of this--
URBAN: --about our election system.
JONES: --when we come out of this, one way or the other, if we still have a Republic?
URBAN: Let's fix it Van, me, and you.
JONES: I think we should do. But if we, one way or another, we come out of this, if we still have a Republic, there are some bipartisan fixes, we could agree on.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
JONES: That just takes some of the complexity and nonsense out, because the nonsense now is being weaponized.
KINZINGER: And that's going to be important--
FARAH GRIFFIN: Well because--
KINZINGER: Go ahead.
FARAH GRIFFIN: No, I was just going to say, I think what makes me sad about this moment, well, many things is, I don't think regardless of what the resolution is, when this is, a tried and true, is that the country is going to come together and unite around whatever the decision is.
I think that's just simply a fact. We are a 50-50 country, we're a split-screen America, half the country sees this one way, half the country sees it another.
I agree with David Urban, though that I think, while, I want to see this done quickly, because I think it being adjudicated ahead of the election is in the vital public interest? I do think if the Trump team says we need to adjudicate these cases, in the seven States, where we think there's an issue? It is actually important to let them do that.
Let them make the cases that have already been knocked down, and take away anything that can be used, to delegitimize what ends up being the resolution, at the end of this.
And I also just want to note, this is probably going to be the trial of the century, in America. You're talking about a former Vice President, who's probably still running against a former President, also running, testifying against him, his former Chief of Staff, likely Attorney General--
FARAH GRIFFIN: --senior White House staffers. We've never seen anything like this.
KINZINGER: It's going to be a -- the next year is going to be very bruising, for the country, as if we didn't haven't been bruised enough.
And I remember saying this, in the committee, but I really believe it, too, which is like, democracies aren't defined by bad days, bad moments, bad years. We're defined by how we recover from that.
And so, this year is going to be bruising. And the question is when it's done, however, it's adjudicated? Yes, there's not going to be kumbaya after that. But are we willing to get back to kind of standard norms of democracy?
And if we are, I think we can brag to the world that we made it through a very difficult moment.
If we can't, and if it's all about fundraising, which is part of the biggest problem, in politics, is rage raises money, if that keeps going on? We have bigger problems.
COOPER: Earlier in the day, we're talking about cameras, in the courtroom. There are not cameras in federal courtrooms. A lot of people on the panel were saying there should be, in this case.
Who would make that decision? Is it just up to the judge?
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Yes.
HONIG: So, there's a couple of layers here. The district judge, Judge Chutkan can make an initial decision. Ultimately, this is the kind of thing that will probably have to go to the Chief Judge of the District.
But I also want to note this. Chief Justice Roberts can order that or approve it from his high perch.
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Yes.
HONIG: So, I'm putting the pressure on, like, let me use -- I don't use this platform, to get on the soapbox. But this has to be covered--
JONES: I agree with that.
HONIG: --in a modern, transparent fashion. It will be ludicrous. Trial of the century, that is not exactly--
COOPER: You are not saying that just from a TV standpoint of you--
HONIG: No. Actually, I'm glad you -- I'm glad you--
URBAN: Let his Q-score, on the way out (ph).
HONIG: No. I am saying that yes, from a TV standpoint. But the American people have to see this.
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Yes.
HONIG: The American people cannot be seeing -- if we don't have cameras in the courtroom, here's what we're going to have.
HONIG: We're going to have young reporters, running in and out of that courtroom, texting us, trying to recount what happens. Two or three hours, at the end of ever -- after the end of every trial, they will get a 300-page transcript that some court reported typed up, and we'll get sketch drawings. It's not 1918, here.
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Yes. HONIG: It's 2023. We need to get with it.
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: But like David said, you have to allow these things to air. You have to allow these issues to air. You have to allow them to try the each state, individually, in this case. But won't matter if no one can see it, right?
FARAH GRIFFIN: Exactly.
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: If it's happening in a courtroom that nobody can see?
URBAN: Transparency is key here.
FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Transparency is key here. And everybody, the American people, to have, for this case, this trial, and maybe even a conviction, to have legitimacy. People have to see it for themselves. And I think that there's a very strong argument, for cameras, in the courtroom, for that reason.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, plus, we've all been looking for the missing man, Mark Meadows, whose fingerprints are all over this indictment, so perhaps he'll show up in the courtroom.
COOPER: Yes, if there's.
We're going to take a quick break. Coming up next, Jake and his team pick up the conversation, including perspective from Andrew McCabe, who served as Deputy Director of the FBI, during the previous administration.
Later, former federal judge's thoughts, on the current federal judge, who will be hearing this case, which appears, as Paula Reid, said earlier, to be on a fast-track.
TAPPER: Shortly before, former President Trump made his appearance, this afternoon, at the Federal Courthouse, here in Washington, D.C., we learned that the road, in front of the Fulton County Courthouse, in Atlanta, will be shutting down, starting Monday, ahead of possible indictments, there.
Back now, with Andrew McCabe, Laura Coates, Gloria Borger, and Jamie Gangel.
We should just note that it is possible that Donald Trump will be indicted, again, in Fani Willis, that's the District Attorney of Fulton County, which is basically the Atlanta area. She has been doing an investigation into Donald Trump's attempt to flip just Georgia. This, today's indictments is about--
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Right.
TAPPER: --trying to flip seven States and more. She's been doing just Georgia.
COATES: First, how consequential that we have to really compartmentalize and re-introduce, to the audience, the fact that it might be this one or this one.
Remember, this would be a State prosecution. She's had a special grand jury. They've already had the meetings, in terms of the ones, who read a report, and then it's the actual criminal grand jury that we're more accustomed to. And so, she has said that by September 1, we're going to know whether she intends to file any charges.
We'll note, of course, the judge has already said, to Donald Trump's legal counsel, "No, you can't throw her off this case." She in fact, has an interest, in being able to pursue justice, in this way. It'll be curious to see what she has to say.
Because, over the weekend, she did have that -- I think it was a school backpack donation drive that she hosted in the county. And she talked about "Look, people might not be pleased with all of my decisions, or what they might be," not showing her hand as to what they are.
But in the end, this would likely be a fourth, now, bite at somebody, who previously loved the Big Apple. I'm talking about Donald Trump.
TAPPER: Yes. And we should know that one of the biggest and best pieces of evidence that Fani Willis has and that Jack Smith has? They can honestly thank South Carolina Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, and let me explain why.
Lindsey Graham called the Secretary of State of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, and said something that he later denied, or he said something that Raffensperger accused him of that he later denied. Raffensperger thought that Lindsey Graham had basically said, "Can you carry out this corrupt activity?" And Lindsey Graham denied ever saying it.
TAPPER: So, Raffensperger learned a lesson, about dealing with Washington politicians: Record phone calls.
TAPPER: And so, when Donald Trump called, that conversation, whether it was Raffensperger, or his attorney, or Chief of Staff, somebody hit, record.
Andy McCabe, how important and damning is that recording, which we've all now heard?
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The recording is key, to this indictment, the federal indictment, because it is the most damning piece of evidence, to shed light, on the conspiracy, to apply pressure, to state-level officials, to essentially change the election results, in their States. It's remarkable.
We've all heard the quote that's been repeated many times, of Trump asking for 11,000 some number of votes?
TAPPER: That's all he needs.
MCCABE: "One more than I need."
TAPPER: Just one more than Biden had, yes, the lead on.
MCCABE: But it's--
COATES: And today--
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And not subtle.
COATES: But remember, today--
BORGER: Not subtle.
COATES: --he made a great comment, because today there was a parallel.
MCCABE: Very similar to his--
MCCABE: --posting on Truth Social, earlier, today, that he says "I only need one more indictment to win the election."
MCCABE: Anyway. What's impressive to me, in the indictment, is you get more than just that, quote.
MCCABE: They show how, over the course of what was actually a very long conversation, Trump basically presented, to Raffensperger, all of his theories, about how fraud had taken place, in Fulton County, and other places, around Georgia.
And Raffensperger, and his associates, had direct factual responses, to every single one of them, completely refuted this claim that thousands of dead people voted in Georgia.
TAPPER: Yes, it was like four.
MCCABE: Number was--
TAPPER: Instead of a 11,000.
MCCABE: --two, or something like that.
MCCABE: So each claim, Raffensperger knocks down.
And that demand to find the votes only comes after every one of his so-called pieces of evidence of fraud are dismissed, by Raffensperger, and his crew. Then, he makes the "Well just find me 11,000 votes."
And then, of course, the next day, he goes--
MCCABE: --out and publicly says, basically, "I asked Brad Raffensperger, all these questions, and he didn't have answers."
MCCABE: Which the recording proves he had very competent answers to--
BORGER: That's what's so stunning.
MCCABE: --every one of those points.
BORGER: What's really stunning is they have this conversation. Raffensperger goes "No, no, no, no, no, no, no."
The next day, Donald Trump is out there, saying "Yes. Yes. That's what," and he didn't know obviously, that he was being taped.
BORGER: I mean, sometimes, he does know, when he's being taped, and still disagrees with what he said. But--
MCCABE: And that's really key, Gloria, because it goes to this broader issue of he knew. He was willfully lying, in that instance, willfully lying, about the phone call that he had had, with Raffensperger.
BORGER: To make his case, yes.
MCCABE: So, it really shows Trump's lies to be knowing, and willful.
COATES: And in fact--
TAPPER: Yes. And anybody--
COATES: In fact, he goes into that -- excuse me.
TAPPER: Yes. Anybody who wants to look at -- read at home? BORGER: Yes.
TAPPER: The Georgia section, on the indictment, is a page -- starts on page 12, and it goes into quite some detail.
It's interesting, Jamie Gangel, one of the individuals, who is on the ground, in Georgia, and texts, Donald Trump, to tell him that the Georgia election officials, such as Brad Raffensperger, such as Gabriel Sterling, is cited here, not by name, but referred to as the President's Chief of Staff.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, in Jeopardy, that would be "Who is Mark Meadows?"
TAPPER: "Who is Mark Meadows?"
And it's interesting, because, earlier today, I was talking to Vice President Pence's top aide, Marc Short. And Marc Short refers to Mark Meadows, in that interview. I want to play that clip, and let's discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VP MIKE PENCE: You know, Mark was the ringleader, bringing the various lawyers in, who had random theories, about what the Vice President could do, organize most of those meetings, organize the meetings, with members of Congress. And so, was a leader, in much of those efforts that the President pursued, in trying to convince the Vice President, of this magical authority.
And so, the fact that he's not mentioned, I think, would lead one to say, well, in light of so many of the other co-conspirators, there must be some level of, of testimony, that they have, from Mark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, what he meant there, obviously, is that the fact that Mark Meadows was the ringleader, in his characterization, of this conspiracy, and yet is not listed, or even insinuated or suggested, as a co-conspirator, would suggest that Mark Meadows is cooperating.
GANGEL: Right, no question. But look, this is something that we have been speculating about, for quite some time. When we all looked at the indictment, the other day, ding, ding, ding, it's pretty obvious.
GANGEL: And Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who is a member of the January 6, committee hearings, also said, Meadows knows everything, just a short time ago.
Let's just remember, he was in every meeting, not just Georgia. The White House, bringing Republican congressmen in.
And unlike Donald Trump, Mark Meadows likes to text. Now, we were very lucky. We were given the text messages that the January 6 committee got, 2,300. They are extraordinary. I'm told that there are 1,000- plus, at least more, in addition to other documents.
So, I think, that, from what my sources say about Jack Smith, the Special Counsel's case, Mark Meadows has a lot to offer.
TAPPER: Yes. And we should -- and we should--
TAPPER: --and we should note, I just found out on page 14.
On December 23rd, a day after the -- after Mark Meadows personally observed the signature verification process, at the Cobb County Georgia Civic Center, he notified Trump, state election officials were quote, "Conducting themselves in an exemplary fashion," and would find fraud, if it existed.
How would Jack Smith know that Mark Meadows sent that text, to Donald Trump?
BORGER: Because Mark Meadows told him.
TAPPER: No, it's what--
TAPPER: Everyone, thank you so much.
Coming up, what we know about the judge, assigned to Trump's case? We're going to have more on Judge Tanya Chutkan, who once rejected Donald Trump's legal arguments, in a case, involving White House Records, in the January 6 committee. We'll tell you about that next.
COOPER: The Judge, we mentioned earlier, who will preside over the January 6 trial, was not present for today's arraignment, but has a reputation, as a tough judge, in cases, involving January 6.
Judge Tanya Chutkan is a Jamaican native, who has been on the court, since 2014. She's presided over dozens of criminal cases, against alleged January 6 rioters.
In November of 2021, she also rejected the former President's attempts to block the House Select Committee, on January 6, from accessing hundreds of pages of records, from his White House. Quoting her ruling, "Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President."
Joined now, by former federal judge, Nancy Gertner, Senior Lecturer, at Harvard Law School.
So prosecutors said today, they want a speedy trial. The former President's legal team already appear poised to try to slow-walk the schedule. What are the odds this trial happens before the election, in your opinion? NANCY GERTNER, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE, SENIOR LECTURER, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: It's hard to know.
If I look at it in the abstract, and try to pretend that there isn't an election coming? I would say that this is a fairly complicated case, that it's a fairly complicated case, and therefore that it would take -- it would not be unreasonable to say that it would take a year, a year-and-a-half.
The judge is going to have to resist the pressure, to either hasten it improperly, or let it stretch out the way the President's -- the ex- President's people want it to. It's hard to say.
COOPER: What are the biggest complications, you see? Is it -- I mean, is it -- if the ex-President's attorneys want to go state-by-state, and re-litigate all their election theories and conspiracies? Because isn't the preponderance of evidence what the -- what Jack Smith already has? They're the ones putting on the case, no?
GERTNER: Right. No, it's not a question of re-litigating any of that. I mean the fact that -- the question is what the data is, right? Imagine how big the January 6 report was? How big is this -- how much discovery is going to be here?
I think that the Special Counsel tried to narrow the -- narrow this as much as possible here, as they did in Mar-a-Lago. But it's still a lot of data. It's still a lot of data that will have to be turned over and contested.
In addition, there's something your previous speakers talked about, which is really telling here. The issue is not who's mentioned in the indictment. It's also an issue of who's not mentioned in the indictment, which is virtually the entire White House staff.
And when they -- when witnesses are disclosed, we will see that how many people have cooperated, and there will be witness statements, from them, at the appropriate time. There could be grand jury minutes, from them, at the appropriate time.
Jack Smith, in order to make sure that he was dotting the I's and crossing the T's, probably has generated a great deal of information, which will have to be turned over, at some point, to the defense. So, that complicated -- that legitimately complicates the timing of this.
COOPER: We've been talking, on this panel, about cameras in the court, which is not -- federal courts don't have them. Do you believe there's an important case to be made that there should be cameras in the court?
GERTNER: I have been saying that there should be cameras in the court since I was a tyke. Since I was a lawyer, I testified in favor of cameras, in the courtroom, against the entire Federal Judicial Conference. There absolutely should be. The counter to cameras, putting aside the Trump case, the counter to
cameras is that they would be disruptive, bearing in mind the way they were 40 years ago, when a clunky camera came into the courtroom. That's not the case, now. State courts have had cameras, in the courtroom, for nearly 40 years.
And this case, it seems to me the public should see this. But the problem is this is precisely the case, in which the federal judicial -- the Judicial Conference will probably back off.
But there should be cameras. There's no question about it.
COOPER: As you know, the District Court judge, who has been assigned to the case, has previously presided, over a number of criminal prosecutions, of January 6 rioters, in some cases handing down harsher sentences, than prosecutors were asking for.
Do you read anything into that, about how she may handle this particular case?
GERTNER: I don't -- I don't see -- I don't really see anything except that she understood the seriousness of this.
If you recall, other judges would say, this really was -- no one -- no one -- some of the demonstrators, were not the insurrectionists, were not dangerous.
I think she understood the larger picture here, which is not just what they did do, but what they came close to doing. And was dealing with them harshly.
So, I don't think that there's a way of predicting that, because this case is unique. We're all trying to predict what's going to happen here. But this case is unique. So, that's hard to know.
COOPER: Yes. Former judge, Nancy Gertner, appreciate your time, tonight. Thank you.
GERTNER: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up, the former Congresswoman, and member of the January 6 Select Committee, joins us, with her reaction, to today's events, in an investigation that can be traced back, to her committee's work.
TAPPER: So much of what we know about Donald Trump's actions, and state of mind, leading up to and during January 6, because of -- we know, because of the testimony and evidence, first gathered, by the Select House Committee on January 6, which ultimately decided, to refer Donald Trump, to the Justice Department, to face criminal charges. That was almost eight months ago.
I'm joined now, by a former member of that committee, former Congresswoman, Stephanie Murphy, Democrat of Florida.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.
After all your work, investigating the January 6 attack, today, we saw some measure, of accountability. The former President, under arrest, just blocks away, from the U.S. Capitol. I wonder what it was like for you having worked so hard on that committee--
STEPHANIE MURPHY, (D) FORMER MEMBER, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE, (D) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE - FLORIDA: Yes.
TAPPER: --to see that?
MURPHY: Jake, it's great to be with you.
And I'm very proud of the work that the January 6 Select Committee did. We investigated the actions that led up to, and the activities that happened, on January 6th, and we presented that to the court of public opinion.
And today, what we see is the beginning of accountability, for the former President, in the court of law. And a lot of the indictment was based on or mirrored the work that we did on the Select Committee.
But I was really grateful to see that the Department of Justice, the special prosecutor, was able to get testimony that we were not able to secure, as a Select Committee, as some witnesses, pled the Fifth, or didn't show up, before us, or invoked privilege. And that information, has proven, based on the bits of it that we've seen, in the indictment, so far, to be really revealing.
TAPPER: Yes, especially that that seems to have come from Trump's then-Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows.
I don't know if you -- how much of our programming you've been watching. But earlier today, I interviewed Marc Short, Vice President Pence's top aide, who referred to Meadows, as the "Ringleader," meaning he helped run this whole conspiracy. That's Marc Short's word, not mine. And noted that, since Meadows was not referenced, in any way, as a co-conspirator, in the indictment, that says to him that Meadows is a cooperating witness.
Is that your conclusion as well?
MURPHY: I certainly hope that Mark Meadows has decided to cooperate, because he does know an awful lot, about what was going on, in the White House, and about the conversations that were being had.
I think if he was a true patriot, he would have cooperated, with our Select Committee. But I'm just grateful now, if he is cooperating with the Department of Justice, that he is providing the necessary information.
TAPPER: We learned so much from the work of the committee. But I am wondering if there's anything you have learned that you did not know, from the indictment? MURPHY: Well, I think that the perspective of the Vice President was really interesting, in the indictment, and, in particular, the fact that as the President was pressing the Vice President to, unilaterally declare the election, in his favor, that he complained about the Vice President, "You're just too honest."
I think, for the former Vice President? That might be a badge of honor, to have somebody, like the former President, say that he's just too honest. But it also indicates that the President understood what he was asking him to do was dishonest.
TAPPER: Yes, I think he is wearing it as a badge of honor, because his campaign is selling swag that says "Too Honest," as a reference -- as a reference to that line, in the indictment.
This is all coming two and a half years after that horrible day, January 6, 2021, and eight months since your panel wrapped your own investigation, and sent the criminal referrals, to the Justice Department.
Do you think the Special Counsel waited too long, to bring these charges, or that Merrick Garland waited too long, to assign a Special Counsel?
MURPHY: I believe in our legal system. And I hope that they took the time, they needed, to build the case that is necessary to yield a conviction, in this situation.
What we've seen is that when people try to hold the former President accountable, and fail? It just makes him stronger.
And, in this instance, where it's regarding charges, of trying to subvert our democracy? We must not fail.
Former Congresswoman, Stephanie Murphy, Democrat of Florida, good to see you again. Thank you, so much, for joining us.
MURPHY: Great to see you.
TAPPER: Next, we're going to discuss the strength, of Special Counsel Jack Smith's case, against Donald Trump, with someone, who has witnessed a special counsel investigation, from the inside. Stay with us.
COLLINS: Our final thoughts, tonight, about today's historic events, with someone, who has a pretty good idea, of the pressure that a Special Counsel, like Jack Smith, is facing, the difficulty of building a high-profile case.
[21:55:00] Peter Zeidenberg is a former federal prosecutor. He actually served as the Deputy Special Counsel, in the prosecution of Scooter Libby. And he joins me now.
Thank you, for being here, outside of this.
I mean, what is it like to be, someone, like a Jack Smith, in the room, 15 feet away, from the person that you're prosecuting, who's also criticizing you, on social media?
PETER ZEIDENBERG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, FORMER DEPUTY SPECIAL COUNSEL, CIA LEAK INVESTIGATION, FORMER DEPUTY SPECIAL COUNSEL, SCOOTER LIBBY PROSECUTION: Well, I don't think you can compare prosecuting Scooter Libby, with Donald Trump. I mean, everyone says it's unprecedented, for a reason. I mean, it's really a unique experience.
Plus, when we were doing that case, in 2005, I think, there wasn't any social media, to speak of, and we didn't have a president, or a Republican Party, that was attacking us, constantly. I know, there was criticism, but it was kind of like par for the course, at the time, so, nothing like -- and certainly no threats that are being made now.
COLLINS: Yes. But there was a lot of pressure. Obviously, it was an incredibly high-profile case.
When you look at this indictment, and you look at the facts of the matter, I mean, do you think this is a strong case? Could it end in a conviction of a former President, potentially?
COLLINS: Why do you think that?
ZEIDENBERG: I have a lot of confidence that this case will end in a conviction, assuming it gets to trial. And that is if it gets -- goes to trial, before the election, and Donald Trump doesn't become president. If he's reelected, this case is going to go away.
COLLINS: You sound skeptical that it could get to trial before the election?
ZEIDENBERG: I think it's going to be a real challenge. This is a huge case. It's like seven mini trials for each state. There's a great many witnesses, and there's going to be a tremendous amount of discovery.
I think people are underestimating the amount of witnesses that were likely interviewed, plus all the transcripts, from the January 6 Committee, which I would imagine, Jack Smith has obtained, in the course of his investigation.
ZEIDENBERG: All of that gets turned over to the defense. And they have an obligation to go through all of it. COLLINS: What about the idea that Trump was tweeting about, or posting about, on the way here, which is he thinks it's an unfair venue? And his attorney has said, they're going to ask for a venue change, suggesting maybe a West Virginia. Is that at all likely?
ZEIDENBERG: It is no possibility of that happening, in my opinion.
COLLINS: Why not?
ZEIDENBERG: Well, because the events happened, just down the street from here. This is the proper venue for it.
And this judge, I think, will be able to find jurors, who say they can be fair. Now, they're going to know about the events. But the question is, have they made up their mind, have they concluded about the guilt?
And amazingly enough, there are people, who are not immersed, in this stuff, the same way, the viewers are, of CNN or MSNBC or Fox News are, who are just -- they haven't lived this, every day, and they don't read about it, every day.
ZEIDENBERG: And they haven't concluded.
COLLINS: There's a lot of people, I mean, living their everyday lives that aren't watching it closely.
I talked to Bill Barr last night, Trump's former Attorney General. We were talking about the potential defenses that could go up here. Obviously, we talked about First Amendment, and that Trump was just exercising his right to free speech.
The other was that he was relying on advice of counsel. This is what Bill Barr thought of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: I don't think this defense of advice of counsel is going to go forward, because I think the President would have to get on the stand, and subject himself to cross-examination, in order to raise that. And he'd also have to waive attorney-client privilege. And--
COLLINS: And what would happen if he got on the stand?
BARR: I think -- I think it would not look -- it would not come out very well for him.
COLLINS: You think it would hurt him?
BARR: Oh, yes. Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: You agree that he'd have to get on the stand to make that defense?
ZEIDENBERG: I have to agree with that, that I don't think he can put on a defense of counsel defense. Because he would have to testify, to say, "I was relying on this information. And that's why I did what I did."
I don't think John Eastman can testify, because he's a co-conspirator. I think he has a great deal of exposure. I don't think he's going to be testifying.
So, it's something to bandy about to the press. "Now, that's going to be our defense." But I don't think they're going to be able to put it on, from an evidentiary standpoint, a trial.
COLLINS: It sounds like you think their arguments, in court, would actually look a lot different than what they're saying publicly?
ZEIDENBERG: I don't think those arguments will fly in court. I don't think -- Judge Chutkan is a very experienced judge, is going to be persuaded that that's a viable defense.
COLLINS: Because essentially, if he got on the stand, he'd have to be cross-examined?
ZEIDENBERG: Now, he isn't going to testify, you know? He won't testify. Nobody, you know, he's never going to put himself in a position, where he can be cross-examined, by prosecutors, in a courtroom.
COLLINS: Yes. Peter Zeidenberg, I mean, remarkable to have you here. Obviously, you prosecuted Scooter Libby, inside the courthouse, behind us. Trump pardoned him. I mean, it's just a very full-circle moment.
ZEIDENBERG: It is, indeed.
COLLINS: And we're grateful that you joined us, tonight. So, thank you, for you to.
ZEIDENBERG: Happy to.
COLLINS: Thank you very much.
It's been quite a day here, of course, and it's only the first of many. As we learned today, there are many more court dates, to come.
And the news also continues. So, I want to turn things over, right now, to "CNN PRIMETIME" with Wolf Blitzer, and Laura Coates.