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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Rudy Giuliani Says He'll Surrender Next Week; Indictment: Trump, Giuliani, Meadows, Among Those Indicted In GA Conspiracy Case; 2024 Rivals DeSantis & Scott Respond To Trump Indictment By Attacking DOJ & Claiming Legal System Is "Weaponized". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 15, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight, the attorney, for Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, have released a statement, after former NFL player, Michael Oher, filed a lawsuit, claiming they lied about adopting him, and made millions, from the story.

The attorney, for the couple, says the false allegations, are quote, "Outlandish," and "Hurtful," and "Absurd," adding that the Tuohys offered him, quote, "Structure, support and, most of all, unconditional love." The attorney also says they've always been upfront about a conservatorship, and they would never oppose canceling it.

Oher claims the couple saw him as, quote, "A gullible young man whose athletic talent could be exploited for their own benefit." He wants the conservatorship to end, and an accounting of the money earned from his name. As you know, a fictionalized version of his story was the focus of the hit movie, "The Blind Side," and a book by the same name.

That's it for us. The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Straight from THE SOURCE, a first move, by one of Trump's co-defendants, in Georgia, his former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, now seeking to move the prosecution, against him, to a federal court, in hopes of getting it dismissed. Will it work? We'll see.

As for Trump's next move, it's a lot like his previous ones. He is now claiming, finally, he has the evidence, to prove the election was stolen, when he has failed to do so, for nearly three years.

Also tonight, there is growing desperation and frustration being felt throughout Hawaii, a week after the deadly wildfires broke out. People are still missing. Fires are still burning. And families are still waiting for word, on their missing loved ones. I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.

Tonight, we are learning new details, following last night's indictment, including on where Donald Trump will likely be surrendering. The Fulton County Sheriff's Office says that he is expected to be booked, at the Fulton County Jail. The big question, tonight, of course, is still when.

The Sheriff's office said, in a new statement that it is expected, all 19 criminal defendants, named in the new indictment, will be booked there. There are 10 more days, for this group, to voluntarily turn themselves in. Jail's open 24/7. The Sheriff's Office says they can come whenever they want.

In the meantime, Trump is focusing on proving claims that he has been making, without basis, for nearly three years now. The former President is now promising to finally reveal evidence, next Monday, about his election fraud claims.

Maggie Haberman has reporting on what's behind those so-called plans. And she'll join me in just a moment.

It's important to note though, Trump's claims have never been proven, in any venue, or any courtroom. That's something that the Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, noted today, after Trump teased that news conference saying quote, "The 2020 election in Georgia was not stolen."

Meanwhile, Trump's attorney turned co-defendant Rudy Giuliani weighed in today on when he expects to turn himself in.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: I'll pick a day next week, try to work out the conditions of bail, there has to be bail.

I'm anxious to fight this case.

I woke up this morning more excited than I have in weeks. He said why? Because I got a fight on my hands and a justifiable one. We're going to -- we're going to beat these fascists into the ground.

I'm the same Rudy Giuliani went after the mafia. I haven't changed one bit.


COLLINS: Except he has. He is now on the other side of the law that he used to jail mobsters, as a federal prosecutor.

Meanwhile, Mark Meadows, Trump's former Chief of Staff is now the first of the co-defendants, to try to get his portion of this case moved, from a state court to a federal court.

His legal team is now arguing, tonight, that charges in the indictment pertain to actions he took, while he was serving, in the White House. And they intend to submit, they say, at a later date why the case against him should be dismissed, under federal law.

I'm joined, tonight, by Maggie Haberman, of The New York Times. Also the Author of "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America." Maggie, I mean, Trump is, feel like we've seen this movie before, where he is promising, to finally reveal something that he has been teasing, especially the election fraud claims that have never been borne out.

But you have new reporting on what's behind what we're expecting to see, on Monday.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So Jonathan Swan, my colleague and I reported, earlier today, that aides and allies of Trump, woke up this morning, several hours after this indictment was filed, accusing him, of trying to subvert the 2020 election, as part of a conspiracy, to discover that he had posted on Truth Social, saying he has a major news conference, on Monday, where he's going to release a report.

Now, that report in question turns out to -- refer to a document, crafted, or created, at least in part, by Liz Harrington, a Trump communications aide, and it refers to Georgia. And it is going to address what she is, I think, and whoever she was working on it with, going to argue was widespread fraud.

Now, we know those claims have been debunked over and over and over. Brian Kemp, the State's governor, again, tried to denounce this, today, and said that "The election was not stolen. Let's move on."

The reason the presence of Liz Harrington is interesting is that she is connected, to a key scene, in the documents indictment, where Trump is waving around, according to prosecutors, a classified document, or a secret document, as he refers to it, that he acknowledges he could have declassified, as president. And she is one of the women quoted, in the recording of that, we have been told, by multiple sources.

Whether this actually happens remains to be seen.


COLLINS: So, the person, who was named, in one of the other indictments that is facing him, is now helping him respond to this latest indictment?

HABERMAN: Correct. And it speaks to the way that world works, right now. A number of the people, who are around him, either as advisers, or as lawyers, or all kinds of other people, are connected to these cases, in various ways. They are witnesses, in some cases.

Rudy Giuliani is clearly co-conspirator number one, in the federal indictment, against Trump, related to January 6, and trying to overturn the election results. And he is indicted in Georgia.

And so, it just creates this culture that we've just never seen before.

COLLINS: There are so many co-defendants listed, in this new indictment, which, I mean, immediately made me think of the concern that he has, about the potential for them to -- I mean, there's a lot of opportunities for people to cooperate here. HABERMAN: There are. And he is aware of that. And it is one of the things that I believe has concerned him, about this indictment.

Also the fact that it is in state court, it is not something he could control, if he becomes president, again, although I think there's an argument as to whether a state case would actually go forward, against a sitting president, the way this is.

But yes, these are -- this has many tentacles. It's big. There are a lot -- it's voluminous. And there's a lot of allegations in it. And there are a lot of people connected to it, not all of whom are in his direct orbit. That's the other thing to bear in mind.

COLLINS: Yes, the second half of that list is all like Coffee County officials, who aren't, directly connected to him.

HABERMAN: Correct.

COLLINS: Mark Meadows is though. I mean, and to see his name, as I was reading through it, when it first got released, last night, like reading "Mark Randall Meadows," I mean, just stood out. He hasn't been indicted, in the other cases.

He's now the first one to try to say, "Well, I was just fulfilling my official White House duties." And that's why he's trying to get it moved to a federal court here.

HABERMAN: It's an argument that I expect that former President Trump will make, too, which is that they were acting, under the color of their jobs, and that this is something that should belongs in federal court, because of that.

I'm not surprised to see Meadows make that argument. Like you, it was striking, to see his name, in this indictment, because his name has been at the center, of this whole issue, as it's been investigated, for the last two-and-a-half years.

But you are correct. He was not one of the co-conspirators mentioned, as best as we could tell who they were, in the Jack Smith indictment. He has not been charged federally.

He has been much less of a presence than we are used to, around Donald Trump. And he is one of the people about whom I think the former President is the most concerned about, what they may or may not have said. Certainly, a lot of aides around Trump are concerned, about what he may or may not have said, in various investigations.

COLLINS: Yes. And also the questions of how that affects what Jack Smith is trying to do, clearly, if he's trying to use him.

The other thing, just reading through the indictment, a lot of it is like, it's things that we knew that had happened or what they did. But also I was just struck the 12 of the 161, overt acts, as Fani Willis referred to them, were Trump's tweets.

HABERMAN: Yes, yes. And public -- and then others were public statements, yes.


HABERMAN: I mean, these are -- this is -- look, we talked about this a lot, with the tweets that they were just things he was doing. There was that joke about "I was about to write a story and Trump just tweeted it out," right? I mean, this was literally, they were planning all these actions, and Trump just tweeted it out.

Their argument is going to be, the Trump team's, that this is free speech, and that he had a right to say all of these things.

And Fani Willis' argument is that individual actions don't have to be criminal, on their own, but part of a broader conspiracy, which is what she's charged they are.

It is why Trump's aides, and lawyers, over a very long period of time, wanted him to stop tweeting, the way he did, and would like him to do less Truth Social posting, the way he is now. It just doesn't get heard the way it used to.

COLLINS: Yes. And he's -- but he's announcing, have got this huge press conference that as your reporting is, a lot of people didn't know about.

One question that I had, last night, thinking on this, is how this affects what he's doing with the debate. I mean, before this, we were told, he's not going to -- he's not showing up to the debate, next Wednesday.

But now that he's got this time crunch, to turn himself in, to actually show up in Fulton County, do you think that could change the calculus at all that he has?

HABERMAN: He has two days until after the debate to turn himself in, technically. I think that he is likely to stick to a plan.

There's been some discussion today about will this be like, right after the Access Hollywood tape, in October 2016, when he went to St. Louis to debate Hillary Clinton, and that that set him back, on a path toward winning. But his whole campaign was riding on that debate, as one former aide pointed out, to me, this morning, correctly.

That's not the case here, in terms of the primary.


HABERMAN: I think it could impact his impulse, to defend himself. I still think it's unlikely that he shows up. But again, it's him. You never really know until he does or doesn't do it.

COLLINS: You've covered New York politics, for a long time. You've covered Rudy Giuliani, for a long time. I mean, you have seen his -- him go from this heroic figure --

HABERMAN: Yes. COLLINS: -- to him, today, saying he's going to beat the fascists into the ground, I believe, was the quote that he used. I mean, what do you make of the fact that the racketeering law, he used to use, to prosecute members of organized crime, here in New York, is now being used against him, in Fulton County?

HABERMAN: For people, who dislike Rudy Giuliani, of which in New York politics, and among New York voters -- New York City voters, there are many? They feel as if this is the ultimate irony.


For people, who really liked Rudy Giuliani, and thought he was a good mayor? They feel as if this is a tragedy.

It is surreal, hearing him say that he's really excited about this indictment, because I can't imagine that he ever thought it would be fun, or engaging, or a fun fight, to be accused of racketeering. I mean, this is somebody, who was a renowned national figure, for busting mobsters, using a similar law.

And that he has, in a quest, basically, to be relevant, to stay around former President Trump, ended up here, is very upsetting to the people, who still care about him.

COLLINS: I mean, he's also running out of money. I mean, CNN is reporting --

HABERMAN: I don't know about running out. I think might be out.

COLLINS: He may be out.


COLLINS: I mean, he's putting up his apartment, here in New York --


COLLINS: -- for $6.5 million, in a sign of -- I mean, and that's not going to end. He has more cases, even just this week alone, I believe, when it comes to his law license, and the comments he made in Georgia.

HABERMAN: One of the ironies, right now, in the situation, around Donald Trump is you will hear some of his advisers say, he's really upset that Rudy got indicted, or leading into this, he was really worried about Rudy, but not so worried that he was going to pay Giuliani's legal bills.

And this has been an issue over and over and over again. And people, who are still close to Giuliani, will try to blame the Republican National Committee, or this former aide to Trump, or this person.

This is Trump. According to my reporting, it was Trump, who didn't want Giuliani paid, unless Giuliani delivered on his promises. And obviously, that didn't happen.

COLLINS: Maggie Haberman, it's never going to end.

HABERMAN: Well, something will -- everything will end eventually. But this part, not right now.

COLLINS: On that lighthearted note, thank you so much, Maggie.


COLLINS: All right, from a bail bondsman, to a former publicist, for Kanye West, we're going to look at the 18 others, who have been charged, alongside Trump, in the State of Georgia.

And four indictments, four jurisdictions, and four-plus months, is there a way out for Donald Trump? We'll talk about that with legal analysts, next.



COLLINS: This is the reality for Donald Trump: indictment after indictment after superseding indictment. The stack of legal problems keeps growing for Donald Trump.

But what is different here, in Georgia, the new indictment that we got last night is the scope here. It's not just in the law, but it's also in the number of people that are involved.

There are names you know, people you would recognize, like Trump's former White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, the former Mayor of New York, turned personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as well as other attorneys, who you saw frequently, on TV, or around the Oval Office, in the days after the 2020 election.

But then there are other lives that have now been forever altered by their connection to Donald Trump, in that time, like the president of a swimming pool company, a Police chaplain, a mixed martial arts fighter. They are all now accused of taking part in this criminal enterprise.

Prosecutors claimed that the corrupt organization that was reached, not just from the Oval Office, but all the way to the former publicist of Kanye West, and even a bail bondsman, who was caught on tape, trying to access voting machines.

I'm joined now, by a pair of former federal prosecutors, Elie Honig; and Temidayo Aganga-Williams, who was also Senior Investigative Counsel for the January 6 congressional committee, and was maybe on air until 2 AM, with me, last night.

Elie, let's start with you. I mean, if you look at the 19 people, one of those faces, Mark Meadows, is now already trying to get his case moved, from the state court, to a federal court. Obviously, that's something we're hearing Trump is also going to try to do. You think they'll be successful? ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's an interesting and, I think, important gambit, by Mark Meadows. And surely Donald Trump will follow.

This body of law goes back to the early 1900s. And it basically says if somebody, who was a federal official, gets charged criminally, by a state or a county, as in a D.A., then if the conduct relates to your job, as a federal official, you can move over to federal court.

I think we don't -- I think it's a 50-50 chance if he succeeds. But if he does, here's what it means. It means, first of all, he gets a much better jury pool, because instead of just drawing, from Fulton County, which went 72 percent to 26 percent, against Donald Trump, now you're drawing, from the northern counties of Georgia, some of which went 60 percent, 70 percent, for Donald Trump.

But more importantly, if he'd get into federal court, the next move, if they win, they're going to ask to dismiss, on the basis of immunity. They're going to say, "As federal officials, we're immune." That's how high the stakes are.

COLLINS: But if Trump does that, am I correct that if he got charged, it would still be state charges, not federal charges?

HONIG: Yes, it would be basically state charges, even the state prosecutor picked up, moved across the street to the federal courthouse.

COLLINS: I mean, obviously, this is something that they would try to potentially appeal. I mean, do you think this is something that could reach the Supreme Court?

TEMIDAYO AGANGA-WILLIAMS, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: I would fully expect it to reach the Supreme Court.

I think here, it is a novel issue, whether President Trump was acting under color of law here. But I think the distinction that's really important here is drawing the line, between candidate Trump, and President Trump.

And what's clear is that committing crimes, while being a federal official, does not grant you immunity. Just because President Trump was in the White House, he was not free to engage in criminal acts, and claim he was doing it, because he was president. And drawing that distinction here is going to be key.

COLLINS: I mean, what about the fact that you're hearing from people, like Mark Meadows' attorney, but also other allies of Trump's, online, who are kind of having this misleading commentary, cherry-picking from this, to say, "Well, placing calls is not illegal, tweeting is not illegal?" Well, like, sure.

HONIG: Right.

COLLINS: But if you're doing it, in furtherance of a crime, is the point that the District Attorney is making in the indictment, that's what makes it illegal.

HONIG: Exactly. We have to all be, I think, on watch, for this technique, which is? And defense lawyers do this. It can be an effective tactic. Take one narrow slice of the indictment, and say "What's wrong with that, folks? What's wrong with a tweet? What's wrong with making a call?"

And the prosecutors always come back and say, "It's part of the grander conspiracy. It was a necessary part of the conspiracy. It was a necessary way they spread the fraud. It was a necessary way they pressured these officials."

So, don't fall for that trick of "Look at this one thing. Who cares?" It's the whole picture.

COLLINS: Yes. One person we heard from today, since we were talking about this, and reading through this indictment, last night, is Rudy Giuliani. And he's kind of making the argument for himself, of what he should believe should happen here, in addition to Mark Meadows.



GIULIANI: The federal statutes say that when you -- when you indict someone for things they did in federal office or things that, for example, I did as an agent for someone in federal office. It should be removed to the federal court.


COLLINS: An agent for someone in a federal? I mean how does that? I mean, he wasn't being paid by the taxpayers. Just because Trump put him in charge of those efforts, is that -- could he still have leeway to make that argument?

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: Certainly not. There's just no basis for this argument. Mayor Giuliani, frankly, is just making this up. Just being sent to do something, by a candidate, for future office, does not somehow grant you protection, under the statute. It's simply wrong.

COLLINS: OK. So no chance for Rudy Giuliani, you think?

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: I think no chance there.

COLLINS: What do you make of Mark Meadows? He is indicted here. He is not indicted by Jack Smith in that investigation, into efforts, to overturn the election. Do you think Jack Smith is unhappy about this? I mean, does this mess up his plans?

HONIG: Well, it certainly escalates the mystery, around Mark Meadows. If Mark Meadows was cooperating, with Jack Smith, that could be -- we don't know. He's not named in the indictment. He's not one of the co- conspirators.

COLLINS: But people suspect he is. HONIG: Let's -- if he is?

COLLINS: Let's operate with that.

HONIG: I mean, if we assume he is? This indictment, by Fani Willis, blows that up.

It is a major problem, for Jack Smith. Because when you have a cooperation deal, the deal is "You're going to own up to everything you've done. And I'm going to make sure that you're clear for everything else."

Now, if out of left field, we get this new indictment, and now Mark Meadows is looking at state RICO charges? That could be a real problem.

COLLINS: The other thing we're learning, about Jack Smith's investigation, which just broke, a few moments before we got on air, is that when they were seeking access, the federal investigators, to Trump's Twitter account, they were specifically looking for Direct Messages, apparently of which there were many. It's not clear that those were ones that Trump sent.

I mean, what would they be looking for, in those Direct Messages of his?

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: Well, at the core of any criminal case is defendant's state of mind. Prosecutors are consistently trying to get into what the defendant was thinking, to show that he had criminal intent.

And here, President Trump, still to this day, continues to argue that he wasn't acting improperly, that he didn't mean anything, to do anything illegal here. So Direct Messages, when it's not in the public spotlight, his private thoughts? That could be key evidence against him.


Elie, what do you make of that?

HONIG: No, I agree. I think, I mean, Donald Trump, famously, I mean, you would know, doesn't text or email people, right? But if he's using that DM function, I would want to get right into that. That could be really valuable.

COLLINS: Yes, it seems like something that would be a surprise to a lot of people.


COLLINS: Lot of developments, lot of late nights ahead. So, thanks for being here with us.

All right, in light of this fourth indictment, some of Trump's 2024 rivals are, once again, defending him. A few are not mincing words. That includes my next guest, who has personal experience, prosecuting racketeering cases, like the one Trump is now facing. Former Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson, is here next.



COLLINS: The former President's trials and tribulations extend, from the courtroom, well, several of them, to the campaign trail.

One of his opponents, for the Republican nomination, also happens to be a former U.S. attorney, who has prosecuted RICO cases, this kind of conspiracy charge that Donald Trump, is now facing, in Georgia, in the past.

Joining me now, Asa Hutchinson, the former Governor of Arkansas, a former U.S. attorney, of course, as we noted, who has prosecuted these types of cases.

Good evening, Governor, and thanks for being here.

You've now had time, to read this indictment. How worried do you think that Trump and these 18 co-defendants should be?

ASA HUTCHINSON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think they're very frustrated that these charges are brought in state court. They see this as something that's going to be all-consuming, and it's going to drag on for some time. So, these are serious charges. It's a difficult environment for them. And there's a lot of work to be done.

And the biggest challenge both for the prosecution, and the defense, is that there's multiple, multiple defendants. And that complicates the trial, in every way. I don't see how this case can be resolved, before the election. I think it'll be one of the last ones that will be resolved.

And quite frankly, I think the state prosecutor, in Georgia, should have deferred, to Jack Smith, and the Special Counsel, as they have investigated and pursued the indictment, surrounding January 6. That from my experience is what ordinarily happens, whenever you have overlapping federal jurisdiction and state jurisdiction. The Federal jurisdiction usually is deferred to by the state prosecutor.

COLLINS: So, you agree with Chris Christie, because he has said similar, basically, that he thinks the State should have deferred, especially since that other indictment from Jack Smith, came first.

But I mean, given that you're saying that you are a former federal prosecutor? I mean, you've worked on this. You've pursued racketeering charges, in the past. So, what did you make of District Attorney Fani Willis' application of what's known as these RICO charges, and how this case was ultimately put together?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I've always thought that the call that was made, by President Trump, to the Secretary of State of Georgia, was not a perfect call. It was problematic. It crossed lines that alerts any prosecutor that there's something wrong here. And of course, she's further investigated it, and brought these charges.

My reaction to it is that this would not stand, under a federal racketeering charge, but under a state racketeering charges, in which the overt acts, or the acts that are carried out, in furtherance of the racketeering, is much broader in state court. And so, it is substantive, in state court. It should stick in state court, in the sense that I don't think it'll be subject to a dismissal.

There is a question as whether it can be removed to federal court. But it does fit within the Georgia racketeering charges. And Georgia is one of the few States that actually have state RICO statutes.


HUTCHINSON: Most of these are just simply left at the federal level.

COLLINS: And they're kind of modeled, in Georgia, after those federal laws, as well.

On this indictment, what we've heard so far, from your fellow 2024 challengers, this is a bit of that.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's an example of this criminalization of politics.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We see the legal system being weaponized against political opponents. That is un- American and unacceptable.


COLLINS: Governor, when we hear those comments, from Governor DeSantis and Senator Scott?

From a lot of Republicans, what we had heard was first, "We can't impeach Trump. This should be left to the courts."

Now, he's been indicted. And now suddenly, the refrain is how the legal system is being weaponized, that this should be left to voters.

But of course, when it was left to voters, in the 2020 election, Trump lost that election. He lied about it. He tried to overturn it. And that is why we are here, I mean, where we are tonight. I mean, how do you -- how do you even debate, a circular argument, like the one that you hear, from your fellow Republicans, on that?

HUTCHINSON: Well, it's hard to hold anyone accountable, for their actions, with that argument. And here, I've always said that Donald Trump is morally responsible, for what happened, on January 6. We're testing the court system, is whether he's criminally responsible. And the facts and the law will govern that.

I'm here in Iowa. And what I see from the voters is that one, they're totally overwhelmed, by the number of indictments, and the chaos that surrounds these charges.

It divides our country. Some say, they should never have been brought these charges that it's politicization of the Justice Department. Others say it should have been brought a long time ago. We're divided on the issue. And so, the first action is that it's going to be the voters who will decide.

But at the same time, what I'm seeing is that the voters are frustrated. They believe that Donald Trump has broken their trust. He has misled voters. And that's what he has to be held accountable for, when he misled his supporters, about the 2020 election, and it was stolen from him, when he knew better.

COLLINS: Of course, the big question is, next week is the debate. We're hearing that Donald Trump is not expected to show up.

A big question for you is whether or not you will be there. You've met the polling threshold. You have not yet met the minimum donors. Please tell me if that's different. I mean, where would you be, Governor, next Wednesday night?

HUTCHINSON: I plan on being on the debate stage, there in Milwaukee. You're right. We've met the polling threshold. We haven't met the donor threshold of 40,000.

COLLINS: How close are you?

HUTCHINSON: But we got, what, five days still left to do it. Getting closer every day. I won't give the exact number. But I like the trend line, in which we're moving toward that goal. So, I need everybody's help to get there, because you need my voice, on that debate stage.

COLLINS: Former Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson --

HUTCHINSON: And it's Asa --

COLLINS: Go ahead.



HUTCHINSON: That can help me get on the debate stage. Thank you.

COLLINS: We will see if you're there, next Wednesday night.

Governor, thank you, for your time, tonight.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you. Great to be with you.

COLLINS: The January 6 committee laid out essentially what appears to be a roadmap, for prosecuting Trump, now that there is another election interference indictment, in Georgia.

We're going to speak to a former member of that congressional committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, how he sees this fourth indictment, against Trump, next.



COLLINS: House Republicans, jumping to Donald Trump's defense, in the latest indictment that he's facing, saying the new charges against him, they believe, are politically-motivated.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says President Biden has weaponized the government, he claims, against Trump. And that District Attorney, Fani Willis, who led those charges, you saw, last night, is following his lead.

Joining me now, Democratic congressman, Adam Schiff, a former member of the January 6 House Select Committee, also running for Senate, in California.

Congressman, thanks, for being here, tonight.

This is now the fourth time that Trump has been indicted. I know we hear, from Democrats, obviously every time that those indictments have come down. But do you think voters have already made up their minds? Are they desensitized to these indictments?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think that there are still a great many Americans, who are going to be very interested to watch these trials. And I'm particularly grateful that in Georgia, that trial is likely to be televised.

I've been urging the Judicial Conference, and wrote a letter to that Conference, with dozens of my colleagues, urging that the federal proceedings, be televised, because I think it's going to be enormously important that those people, who have an open mind, get to watch that. It's not filtered, in one way or another.

So, I applaud the hard work of the grand jury, in Fulton County, the willingness to go forward. And I'm glad the American people are going to get to watch, at least one of these trials.

And I'm particularly also struck by how much the Georgia indictment really tracks the work of the January 6 committee and, in particular, the hearing that I lead. And it's, I think, very similar, to the federal January 6 indictment, in tracking the work of our committee.

COLLINS: First, on the cameras, you did sign that letter, asking the judge, for the January 6 indictment, to allow cameras, to be in the room. Obviously, in Georgia, it's different than in a federal courtroom. I mean how much more of an impact do you think that will have? And do you think that will change voters' minds on this?

SCHIFF: I think there are two important impacts.

The first is in the federal system, and it may be very well the same in Fulton County, the President's lawyers can go out, on the courthouse steps, every day, after the proceedings, and misrepresent what took place inside.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, do their speaking in court. So, there would be a very strong asymmetric disadvantage, for the prosecutors, if the proceedings are not televised.

But more than that, this is an historic set of cases. And the country should be able to watch, and form their own opinion, of the credibility, of the witnesses, of the strength of the evidence. If they only see this black box, in which a verdict emerges, in one direction or the other, it will be hard for them to have confidence, in what took place inside.


So, I think, it's equally important, maybe more important, in the federal case, but it would require a great departure, from their usual rules.

COLLINS: Yes, it seems very unlikely there.

Your hearings were televised. They showcased the role that Mark Meadows played, in those efforts, by Trump, to stay in power. I mean, what did you make of looking at this 98-page indictment, seeing his name, on the first page, as a co-defendant?

SCHIFF: Well, the absence of his name or the suggestion of his name, as an unindicted co-conspirator, potentially, in the federal indictment, raised a lot of profound questions, about whether he was cooperating. Those questions still continue.

But certainly, if you're going to lay out all the participants, all the facts, in the way that this Fulton County indictment does, all 95 pages of it, then he's going to be included, because he was very much a participant, in what they've charged, as a racketeering enterprise.

And one of the things that also struck me is how well, these facts fit that Georgia statute, which is normally used for organized crime.

But here, you have kind of a sprawling, organized criminal effort, to overturn the election. And tying in all of these elements, showing how they fit together, showing how some worked independently, but nonetheless, were part of the overall scheme, to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power, makes that Georgia indictment pretty powerful.

COLLINS: Well, given the fact that Mark Meadows is not named, in the federal indictment, there are questions in Trump's orbit, by pretty much everyone who covers this, whether or not he's cooperating. Of course, we can't say for sure. But if he is, and Jack Smith is relying on him, and that could cause some complications here, I mean, do you believe that the State should have deferred to the federal prosecution, given the federal indictment was already issued?

SCHIFF: I was listening to your discussion, with Governor Hutchinson. And I certainly agree that in general, local prosecutors will often defer to federal prosecutors, sometimes, because the federal government has more resources, to bear, sometimes, because the penalties are stiffer.

But here, I have to say, Georgia was fully within its rights, to move forward, because the federal government took so long. In many respects, not only was the Congress ahead of the Justice Department, in its investigation, for a long time, but so was Georgia.

And now, it's true, the Feds ultimately sought the indictment first. But having put all of that effort in, I can see why Georgia prosecutors wanted to bring it before the grand jury. There were serious violations of Georgia law.

It still may be though, that Georgia ultimately says, "Hey, Special Counsel, you go first. We don't want to have any conflict," in terms of scheduling, witnesses, testimony, et cetera. I still wouldn't be surprised if that's the case, provided that the federal judge keeps that case on track.

COLLINS: Well, yes, Fani Willis said, last night, she's seeking a trial date, within six months. But she also would not answer when my colleague Sara Murray asked, if she had been coordinating with Jack Smith.

When you look at all of the indictments that is facing Trump here, which one do you think should go first, and how soon?

SCHIFF: Well, I think, if it were proceeding, most logically, you would have the federal January 6 indictment go first. It's the most serious set of charges. And I think the federal government has greater resources to bring that case to trial. So, I would favor that.

And I think that there's also a question about the timing for the Mar- a-Lago prosecution. That doesn't pose the same conflict with Georgia, in terms of witnesses' timing.

But I expect that none of these cases are going to go on at all simultaneously. The judges, in the various jurisdictions, are going to be mindful that these -- the attorneys, for the President, need to be able to focus, and prepare, on discrete cases.

But it will be worked out. And it -- but if it were proceeding, I think, in the most logical way, the federal government would go forward, with the January 6 charges, the most serious to date.

COLLINS: We'll see what that order looks like.

Congressman Adam Schiff, thanks for your time, tonight. SCHIFF: Thank you.

COLLINS: And up next, we're going to turn back to Maui, where the death toll is expected to keep climbing, as the emotional toll is also growing. So many families, tonight, are still waiting on word, of their loved ones. They are seeking answers. How did Lahaina become a death trap?

We'll get an update, from Hawaii's governor, in just a moment.



COLLINS: President Biden says he and the first lady plan to visit Maui, quote, "As soon" as they can. As officials say the death toll there is going to potentially double in the next 10 days. Right now, tonight, it stands at 99 people, who have lost their lives.

Hawaii is launching a formal review, of its emergency response, after the siren system, which I should note, is the largest in the world, was silent, as the fires spread. Several firefighters have also told the New York Times that fire hydrants ran dry, as they were trying to use them.

And tonight, the state's main electric provider is also facing a new lawsuit alleging that its power lines caused the fires.

Joining me now, to discuss, is Hawaii governor, Josh Green.

Governor, thank you, for being here, tonight.

I know that you have been working on this. You have some news for us today. What is the latest on the ground in Hawaii?

GOV. JOSH GREEN (D-HI): Well, thank you. And thank you, for your prayers.

Our fatality count is at 101, now. We've completed 27 percent of the search and rescue, as far as territory goes. And we now have 185 Search and Rescue individuals, on the ground, plus 20 dogs. So, we're going to push through the recovery much more quickly, now. Hopefully by the end of this weekend, much of it will be done. So that's one thing.

Also, I'll be making a major announcement, here, locally, but I'll share it with you now, also nationally. We will be opening the road. I've ordered the road to be opened, to connect all of Maui again, so that all of our people can begin to recover.

I was with my Chief of Staff, and team, yesterday, in West Maui, and for instance, we were with a pregnant woman, who is seven-and-a-half months pregnant, beautiful person, and we need to get her care.

[21:50:00] And so, we're opening the road. It'll be open from 6 AM, every morning, until 10 PM, for everyone, beginning tomorrow, with some nuances here. But it's a partnership with the Mayor, and our Incident Commander. So, having that road open will make it more possible to get some people's lives back intact.

Of course, the incident area, the impact area will be off-limits, because that has to be protected. And that's with my National Guard.

We've also set up 2,000 homes, for people. Between donations and hotel rooms, and Airbnb, we'll now be able to house virtually everyone who's impacted. We're already well on our way with hundreds of people into homes. So, we're beginning to heal. But we're also having our hearts broken, day by day, as we see loss of life.

COLLINS: Yes. I know opening that road is going to be incredibly welcome news, for a lot of people, there, who are watching, tonight, and hearing that update, hoping to get access, to where their homes were.

But on the update that you just gave us, you said that the fatalities have risen, from 99 people, to now 101. You said 27 percent of the area has been searched. Obviously 27 percent is an improvement from where it was. But that still means there's a lot left to go. What does that mean for the death toll, do you think?

GREEN: Well, a lot of the fatalities occurred on the road, down by the sea, not the road that we're opening up today. And I think many of the fatalities that we'll ultimately discover a high percentage will be from there. But now that we go into the houses, we're not sure what we'll see.

We're hopeful and praying that it's not large, large numbers. But it was a 1,000-degree heat, traveling at 60 miles per hour. And that is probably a segue, in some ways, to other things, you're interested in, and concerned about, which is why for instance, alarms did not ring, or why there wasn't enough time to get people out.


GREEN: But we think that the speed of that fire, will have overcome houses. And so, we just simply will know when we get to those places. And that's what I've been sharing, with the President, and everyone, we're going methodically, through this. And we're going through it safely, out of respect, and for the dignity, of our people, here.


And I know you spoke to President Biden today.

And I do have a question about the sirens.

But just quickly on what you were talking about there, on the 101 people. I mean, one of the most gut-wrenching parts of this, is that so far, only four people, who have died, have been able to be identified. That means there's a lot of people with loved ones, who are missing, who don't have answers.

When do you think you'll be able to have more answers, for people, who are still searching, for their loved ones?

GREEN: Day by day, it will increase. We have a genetics team coming in. And we have extra support that way.

A lot of this -- and this is very different than what it was like, when I was working, in the hospital, as an ER person. This is -- it's difficult, it's difficult to recognize individuals. So, if you're lucky, in a circumstance like this, you get to see fingerprints. So, it's very hard.

But that's why what we're doing is we're asking all of our loved friends, and family, in the area, who have any concern, to go get swabbed, at the Family Support Center, so that we can match people genetically.

This is much like you see in a war zone, or what we saw with 9/11. This has similarities to those things. And, of course, totally different circumstance, causes and reasons for a fire. But that's what you have to do.

So, over the course of the next several weeks, we'll be able to confirm who passed away. But it's going to be very difficult going.

COLLINS: Yes, and I mean, you said it could take weeks. And just to hear that comparison to 9/11, I know, is such an unimaginable situation.

And you did mention the sirens. I mean, we've heard from residents, who said they didn't feel like they got enough time, to evacuate, in part because they didn't hear sirens going off.

You told Wolf, my colleague, Wolf, that those sirens were immobilized. What does that mean?

GREEN: Well, a couple of things. So, just for historical perspective, the sirens were typically used for tsunamis or hurricanes.

To my knowledge, at least I never experienced them in use for fires. There may be some reasons for that. Sometimes, sirens send people, up- mountain. And going up the mountain during a fire can be problematic. Going up the mountain when there's a wave is what you have to do.

But the siren, some were broken, and we're investigating that. Like, I shared with all of you, we are a transparent State. So, I have immediately asked my Attorney General, to do a full review, of everything, decisions, policies, policies on water, and then, of course, the sirens. A lot of people would have, I'm sure, at least been alerted more quickly. And that is important.


Normally, we communicate, in Hawaii, by essentially person-to-person, Coconut Wireless, they laugh -- they joke, connection, where everyone hears immediately, about anything major, if a car accident happens, or a drowning occurs, or a wonderful moment, in Hawaii.

But the cell phones were immobilized. The power lines were down. And we had no service. So, there was no communication. And that made it difficult, to communicate back, to the Fire folks, I believe.

What happened was the fire had been going on earlier, in the day, into the late afternoon, and then was put out.

And then, and I spoke to individuals, yesterday, in West Maui, when I was there visiting with the survivors. They said the fire then began again, after the firefighters had to go, to fight other fires. And had that fire been put out again, at that moment, we would not have had the tragedy. But they were fighting other fires, by that point.

So the truth is it just, it was a very difficult situation, and the winds sent that fires spiraling through the town.

COLLINS: A lot of questions, I know that you also want answers to.

Governor Josh Green, I know you got a press conference, coming up.

We're thinking of your State, right now. Thank you, for providing us that update, not only on the numbers here, and what we're looking at. I mean, these are people of course, behind those numbers. And everyone remembers that.

Thank you, for your time, tonight.

GREEN: Thank you for caring about us.

COLLINS: And we'll be right back in just a moment.



COLLINS: And thank you, so much, for joining us, tonight.

"CNN PRIMETIME" with Abby Phillip, starts, right now.