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The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper

Indicted: The Case Against Trump. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 11, 2023 - 20:00   ET



BETSY KLEIN, CNN WHITE HOUSE PRODUCER: That is credited by a lot of people by really coming and riding the ship after a series of high- profile losses, and that really cemented her relationship with the president.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: And I remember when Ron Klain was leaving as the White House chief of staff, he was saying we need to be more tougher. We need to be more forward leaning and respond to the attacks out there.

All right. Betsy Klein, a great profile. Thank you very much.

That's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. Thanks very much for joining me this evening. "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER" is up next with an all-new episode, "INDICTED: THE CASE AGAINST TRUMP." I'll see you next weekend.


The indictment this week of former President Donald Trump marks the first time in history a president has faced federal charges. This is now the second indictment for the former president who is criminally charged by a Manhattan grand jury in March on 30 counts of business fraud. He's pleaded not guilty.

Now he is facing 37 federal charges relating to classified documents from his time in office that were uncovered by federal agents. A special counsel has been investigating this case since November of last year. But what makes this situation even more extraordinary is that Mr. Trump is also the current frontrunner in the Republican Party for the 2024 election. This means he could be taking on President Joe Biden while a special counsel appointed by the attorney general is working to convict him.

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Over the next hour, CNN's Pamela Brown lays out everything we know about this case and takes us through the twists and turns that brought us to this moment. We'll also explore what this means for the former president as he faces his first court appearance this week and what implications this may have for the presidential race.


DONALD TURMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm an innocent man, I'm an innocent person.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump is posting on his own social media site that he has been indicted.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight a former president is facing federal charges for the first time in U.S. history.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This is a very dark day in America.

TRUMP: Our country is going to hell.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Tuesday, you're going to have the opportunity for our court system to do its job, and it could be a circus because he may as well be organizing another January 6th.

TRUMP: This is warfare for the law, and we can't let it happen.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we've seen over the last several years is the weaponization of the Department of Justice against a former president.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: You have a document now in front of you, United States of America versus Donald J. Trump.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: This is a bombshell.


JACK SMITH, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SPECIAL COUNSEL: Today an indictment was unsealed charging Donald J. Trump with felony violations over national security laws as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice. We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): January 2021, moving day at the White House. But not every box should have been shipped out of D.C.

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: There were some coordinated efforts to collect boxes of documents that had some level of interest to the former president, Donald Trump. Now what the reason for that is we don't yet know.

BROWN: According to the 38-count federal indictment, President Donald Trump was involved in the packing process, and so what White House staffer, Walt Nauta, who would join Trump at Mar-a-Lago as a personal aide.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Nauta was Donald Trump's valet, he was his body man and he's the other defendant in this case. They are charged, Donald Trump and Walt Nauta, as the two coconspirators who worked together knowingly to try to first of all hide the boxes from the lawyers and from DOJ and from the grand jury, and to lie about it.

BROWN: Once at Mar-a-Lago, for some boxes the white and gold ballroom was the first stop of many in the months to come. Then the business center. Then a bathroom and shower. Then a storage room near the liquor supply cabinet.

But why were these boxes from the White House stored in so many different locations throughout Mar-a-Lago? And what did these boxes contain?

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY FBI DIRECTOR: We're not talking about a few documents that were misplaced and ended up in the president's possession. We are talking about literally hundreds of cartons filled with records, cartons stacked up to the ceiling in the storage room, cartons stacked to the ceiling in the bathroom, in the shower, boxes in the president's closet, in his office.


COATES: The chronology is so important because it tells you what were the intentional acts. When you lay that out in a timeline, you lay out a case for intent.

BROWN: According to the indictment, one day Nauta found several of Trump's boxes fallen and their contents spilled including a document marked secret. He took two photos.

COATES: Given the fact that Nauta was really the body man of the then President Donald Trump, he was likely very aware of what the requirements would have been to have documents handed over, to have them in the proper hands of those who were the actual custodian of these records.

BROWN: Taking secret documents out of the White House and storing them in an unsecured location like Mar-a-Lago is at the heart of the indictment. But there's more.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In the indictment prosecutors allege there were two instances where Trump shared classified information in person with people who did not have security clearances.

BROWN: In July of 2021, the former president talked about a highly confidential document he took with him from the White House about a potential attack on Iran.

REID: This is a meeting at his Bedminster golf club. Present for this meeting were at least two of his aides and two people working on an autobiography of his former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows. He knew he was being recorded.

Now in this recording, this was back in July 2021. "I just found -- isn't this amazing? This totally wins my case, except it is like highly confidential, secret. This is secret information."

The second instance is him sharing a classified map with a representative from his political action committee. Now we didn't previously know about this particular incidents but clearly prosecutors do and these are two things that come up very high in the indictment, clearly very significant to the investigation. BROWN: Trump's boasting came months after a lawyer with the National

Archives and Records Administration began seeking return of the documents in this e-mail. Quote, "There are also now certain paper textual records that we cannot account for. For example, the original correspondence between President Trump and North Korea leader, Kim Jong-un, were not transferred to us.

"It's also our understanding that roughly two dozen boxes of original presidential records were kept in the residence of the White House over the course of President Trump's last year in office and have not been transferred to the National Archives."

HONIG: So a law called the Presidential Records Act says that presumably all records made during a president's time in office are property of the government.

COATES: This was a widely known Presidential Records Act and throughout the entire course of an administration, it would have been reminded on people, it would have been incumbent on people to do something about it, and surely they would have known.

HONIG: The Archives was remarkably patient with the Trump team throughout. They negotiated with the Trump team for months and months on end.

BROWN: On multiple occasions beginning in June 2021, the National Archives warned Trump through his representatives that if he did not comply it would refer the matter of the missing records to the Department of Justice. In October of 2021, multiple sources say National Archives lawyer Gary Stern sought the intervention of another Trump attorney. That fall a top official in Trump's orbit says they were concerned and warned people not to touch the boxes out of fear that sensitive material could be exposed to those without the proper clearance.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We're talking about documents at all of the classification levels. Some of them are confidential, some of them are secret, and then there are some that are top secret. And these are documents that relate to the U.S. National Defense. They are our nuclear capabilities, our nuclear vulnerabilities, the nuclear and military capabilities of some of the countries that pose threats to the United States. These are the most sensitive documents that the U.S. government has.

BROWN: What else did these documents contain? And did the former president jeopardize national security?

MCCABE: We see there's a top-secret document that is marked Five Eyes. Reckless disregard for the nation's sensitive classified essential intelligence.



BURNETT: New tonight, the January 6th Committee firing a warning shot after Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows said he would no longer appear for depositions.

BROWN: December 7th, 2021, almost a year after he left Washington, D.C. former President Trump was still making news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump's social media platform Truth Social is largely still undefined and is already facing serious scrutiny.

BROWN: But that same day down in Mar-a-Lago, something major was unfolding, hidden from the public eye. Trump aide Walt Nauta, who would later be indicted alongside Trump, walked into the storage room at Mar-a-Lago.

PEREZ: He finds boxes spilled on the road including one document that is labeled secret. He takes a photograph of it and sends it to another Mar-a-Lago employee. And what the prosecutors say is visible in one of those photographs is a document that they actually based one of the charges on.

MCCABE: By looking closely at the photograph we see there is a top- secret document that's marked Five Eyes. That is so sensitive we can only share it with our very closest intelligence allies.

REID: Just seeing sensitive information that was only meant for a handful of our closest allies just strewn about the bottom of a storage closet, that was truly remarkable.

MCCABE: Reckless disregard for the nation's sensitive, classified essential intelligence.

BROWN: Just over a month after Nauta took that photo, a long-awaited development.

HONIG: The National Archives began negotiating with Donald Trump's team in mid-2021. Finally in January 2022, Donald Trump's team turned over 15 boxes.

REID: We were told these were pretty disorganized boxes of materials and within those boxes was a mix of presidential records, which are any documents that are created during your administration and classified materials.

BROWN: The FBI would soon determine that those boxes contained 30 top secret documents, 98 marked secret, and the remainder of the 197 documents were tagged as confidential, according to the indictment.

Those findings prompted the National Archives to reach out to the Department of Justice to investigate in February 2022.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's when the criminal investigation begins because the intel community, the FBI, the Justice Department gets called to take possession of those classified records and to start looking into whether there was some sort of improper mishandling.


BROWN: Then on May 11th, 2022, Trump is subpoenaed.

POLANTZ: And that's when the Justice Department says turn over everything with classified markings on it in your possession. No matter where it is, find it and get it back to us by the end of June.

BROWN: Enter Evan Corcoran, a former assistant U.S. attorney now representing Trump.

TIMOTHY PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Evan Corcoran was one of the initial attorneys who came in to respond to the initial subpoena and he conducted the search at Mar-a-Lago.

BROWN: Corcoran would become a pivotal in the case against the former president. Later his testimony played a key role in the indictment of Trump and his aide Walt Nauta.

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The striking thing about Corcoran's role here is just how unusual it is.

HONIG: He made audio recordings of his own notes.

WU: He contemporaneously took a lot of notes about his conversations with a client which makes one thing that perhaps Corcoran was worried about something coming back later, about his actions here.

HONIG: A very rare thing happened in this case, which is prosecutors got to break through the attorney-client privilege.

REID: Prosecutors convinced the judge that look, Evan Corcoran's advice in this situation may have been used in furtherance of a crime and his notes have now become a key piece of evidence.

BROWN: On May 23rd, 2022, Corcoran meets with his client. That's 12 days after the subpoena was issued.

REID: Now upon receiving this subpoena the former president confers with his attorney Evan Corcoran and suggests that perhaps they should just not comply with this, or lie to the FBI saying that they have no more documents.

HONIG: At one point Trump says something to one of his attorneys along the lines of I don't want people going through my boxes.

PARLATORE: As a criminal defense attorney when you have a client that receives a grand jury subpoena, they have a lot of questions.

BROWN: Attorney Tim Parlatore represented Trump in the classified documents case. He left the former president's legal team weeks before the indictment.

PARLATORE: They will ask those questions in the confidential attorney- client communication, you know, realm of do we have to comply with this? Do they have the power to really make us do this? Wouldn't it be better to give them nothing?

PEREZ: The president's lawyers and his supporters are going to try to minimize this because somebody who is facing a subpoena is going to ask his lawyers for advice. Where this crosses the line is where he tells his lawyer, why don't we just tell them there's nothing here? According to prosecutors, he had gone through these boxes himself, so at the time that he is telling his lawyers to just say we don't have anything here, he knows full well that there are classified documents that need to be returned to the federal government.

BROWN: After that conversation on May 23rd, 2022, Trump and his attorneys agreed that the storage room boxes would be searched for confidential documents on June 2nd, but something strange, perhaps even criminal happened. At Trump's direction, aide Walt Nauta moved the documents.

PEREZ: The 64 boxes were moved to the former president's residence. His private residence inside the club.

COATES: The key here is, why did you move the documents in the first place after there was a subpoena?

BROWN: According to the indictment, on June 2nd, just hours before Corcoran conducts his search, less than half of those boxes are returned from Trump's residence back to the storage room.

POLANTZ: There are 30 boxes that Walt Nauta and another person moved back into the storage room, and then Evan Corcoran does his search, he finds 38 documents with classification markings on it.

REID: It appears that Walt moving these boxes was part of an effort not only to conceal documents from investigators but also from Trump's own lawyers.

COATES: If you moved them hoping to evade somehow the scrutiny of the Department of Justice, a federal grand jury, the National Archives, you're laying out a case for something illegal.

PARLATORE: The thing that surprised me the most about the indictment were the details of the alleged movement of boxes by Walt prior to Evan's search. The scope that they are alleging there and the backup of texts, supposedly, as well as video, that's something that is far beyond, you know, what we had seen. If that's true, then that's a problem that the new legal team is going to have to deal with.

BROWN: After his search of the storage room on June 2nd, Corcoran seals the 38 classified documents for delivery to the Archives and heads to the Mar-a-Lago dining room to meet with his client.


HONIG: Trump asked, did you find anything of interest? And according to Corcoran's notes Trump made a plucking motion, suggesting that if Corcoran had found something problematic perhaps it should be plucked out of the batch of documents that were being turned over.

BROWN: The day after on June 3rd, 2022, Trump's legal team submitted false statements. HONIG: If you look at the indictment, it seems like Evan Corcoran and

some of the other lawyers were sort of used as dupes by Trump. What it appears is Trump had his people move documents in and out of the storage room so that Corcoran would only find certain things and then certify to DOJ this is all I found.

Corcoran was part of the group of lawyers who put together this certification saying we've done a diligent search of Mar-a-Lago and these 38 documents are all that we found that's responsive. Turned out there was a hundred plus more classified documents. The question is, who knew that that certification was false?

BROWN: Coming up, federal agents search Mar-a-Lago.



TRUMP: I'm going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information.

BROWN: This was Donald Trump nearly seven years ago.

TRUMP: We can't have someone in the Oval Office who doesn't understand the meaning of the world confidential or classified.

BROWN: On the campaign trail --

TRUMP: Everyone screams lock her up, lock her up, lock her up. You know what? I'm starting to agree with you.

BROWN: Trump vowed to punish Hillary Clinton over her use of a private e-mail server.

TRUMP: One of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules and to enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.

BROWN: Once in the Oval Office, then President Trump signed a bill into law that upgraded the crime of wrongly moving classified material from a misdemeanor to a felony.

COATES: It's a great irony right now in the fact that he may be held to account to an elevated crime that he initiated.

BROWN: The FBI called Clinton extremely careless in her mishandling of classified information, but found no criminal intent.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: No charges are appropriate in this case.

BROWN: No matter, Trump's obsession with the possibility that other officials would mishandle classified documents intensified.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'd like to begin by reading a statement from the president. BROWN: In 2018 Trump revoked the security clearance of John Brennan,

the former director of the CIA. The former president citing his responsibility to protect the nation's classified information.

SANDERS: The issue of Mr. Brennan's security clearance raises larger questions about the practice of former officials maintaining access to our nation's most sensitive secrets long after their time in government has ended.

COATES: The strangest part about this all, this is all a self- inflicted wound. All he had to do was return the documents.


BROWN: Remember, a grand jury subpoena demanded Trump hand over all classified documents in his possession, but instead, on June 3rd, 2022, Trump's attorneys provided the FBI with only 38.

REID: Surveillance footage at Mar-a-Lago has become such a key piece of evidence.

BROWN: A month later on July 6th, in response to another subpoena by the FBI, representatives of the Trump Organization handed over a hard drive containing surveillance footage.

POLANTZ: There's a storage room at Mar-a-Lago that Trump is essentially telling his attorney, Evan Corcoran, all White House records will be kept inside this storage room because they had to respond to a subpoena.

BROWN: But that wasn't true.

PEREZ: Investigators obtained surveillance video that shows boxes being moved out of the storage room, which they had promised that they were going to secure, they would lock it, and then fewer boxes being moved back in. But it wasn't just based on video. They had an informant who led them to believe that there was more documents to be found.

BROWN: Investigators obtained a search warrant.

POLANTZ: The judge had looked at the evidence they had gathered up to that point in time and said yes, it is lawful for you to go into Mar- a-Lago.

HONIG: The DOJ proved to a judge that they had probable cause of three crimes, two of them are now charged in the indictment. The two that are charged in the indictment are willful mishandling of defense information and obstruction of justice.

COATES: All he had to do was return the documents. I'm not supposed to have them. Here you go.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mar-a-Lago is based really in the heart of the exclusive town of Palm Beach, Florida. It's a stunning piece of property. It's sort of sandwiched between the inner coastal waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. It's surrounded by palm trees, very lush acreage. It is really on the edge of what is commonly called Billionaire's Row, home to some of the largest houses that you've ever seen in the country.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news we're following right now.


BURNETT: We have the details just coming in as I speak.

BROWN: August 8th, 2022.

KAYE: There were boxes of items taken during this search.

I was reporting from Mar-a-Lago.

Donald Trump was not here today. He was in New York City.

We learned that about two dozen FBI agents and technicians had shown up to serve this search warrant and search the property of Mar-a-Lago. They were there for hours on end going room to room.

PEREZ: They are not wearing any of the usual FBI raid jackets that they typically wear for such a search. They show up in suits and ties. All of this was to try to understate this, to make as little noise as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's terrible. They are physically trying to destroy Trump.

KAYE: There were certainly a large amount of supporters of Donald Trump outside, and of course they were clashing with protesters. Many of whom were already shouting lock him up. It was quite a scene.

TRUMP: That's right. Another day in paradise. This is a strange day.

BROWN: Trump issued a statement reading in part that the execution of the search warrant was, quote, "an attack by radical left Democrats who desperately don't want me to run for president in 2024."

ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: My father has worked so collaboratively with them for months. In fact the lawyer that's been working on this was totally shocked. He goes, I have such an amazing relationship with these people and all of a sudden on no notice, they send, you know, 20 cars and 30 agents?

COATES: I could not believe some of the pictures that we saw. I mean, some would argue that the documents were treated kind of like a discarded sock at the end of the day. We're talking about matters of national security strewn about, available for the prying eye to look at in ballrooms, in bathrooms. Mar-a-Lago is not a SCIF, it's not a secure location.

KAYE: The period that we're talking about is from January of 2021 until August of 2022. During that time, at least according to the indictment, there were more than 150 social events. There were weddings. There were fundraisers. There were movie premieres. You name it. So a lot of people coming in and out of the Mar-a-Lago club while these documents were allegedly there. And we just have to wonder who might have known that these documents were there, who had access to them. Did they even know what they were looking at if they saw them?

MCCABE: I'm confident there are spy handlers around the world who are beating themselves on the head today wishing that they had sent their own agents into Mar-a-Lago. It is truly a spy's dream. It's a soft target. We now know it was replete with national defense information. And to think that it was all there for the taking, for anyone with the energy and the determination to go look for it. It's just shocking.

HONIG: Trump is charged with 31 different counts of willful retention of defense information, one count is attached to each of 31 different documents. 21 of those documents were recovered by the FBI during that August search warrant.

BROWN: Are there more documents yet to be uncovered or perhaps destroyed?

POLANTZ: This doesn't appear in the indictment of Donald Trump.

BROWN: After the August 8th search, investigators continue to request surveillance footage.

POLANTZ: There's this mysterious pool draining, a maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago, a person who is not charged with any crime, he drains the pool in October of 2022. And if you ask people in Florida, it's highly unusual to drain a pool. And when the draining of the pool happens, the water from the pool somehow finds its way into an I.T. room that has surveillance tapes and footage kept with in it, so the technical equipment, the stuff that would be really hurt badly by water in that room, and so it is not clear if anything was lost, if there are gaps in any of the surveillance tape.

BROWN: When we return --

SMITH: We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everybody.

BROWN: Who was overseeing Trump's criminal investigation?

HONIG: He's an experienced prosecutor.

PARLATORE: He has reputation.

BROWN: And later --

COATES: If you thought this election cycle was going to be all about the policy issues, and nothing about political baggage, you've got another thing coming.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're being told right now that Jack Smith and his team are coming out so let's listen in.

BROWN: When Special Counsel Jack Smith finally stepped up to the mic on June 9th, it was a highly anticipated moment.

SMITH: Good afternoon.

COATES: I wanted to get a sense of who he was, who was this sort of mysterious figure in the shadows overseeing such an important case.

SMITH: Our laws that protect national defense information are critical.

PEREZ: Oh, that's what he sounds like. Because he has been silent, he has avoided the cameras by and large.

BROWN: Hard to imagine that one of the most talked about figures in this indictment was largely unknown until seven months ago.

ANA CABRERA, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: We're getting an announcement from Attorney General Merrick Garland set to appoint a special counsel.

PEREZ: Nobody knew his name. As a matter of fact, we thought the name was made up, his name was John Smith. And we're like, where did you find this guy from?

BROWN: They found him in November 2022, the Hague in the Netherlands, the home for the International Criminal Court.


HONIG: Jack Smith went to work as a war crimes prosecutor in the Hague, and shows a certain commitment to justice and the capacity to go after very bad, very usually powerful people.

SMITH: Based solely on the evidence and the law, we ask that you find the accused guilty of each of the crimes charged.

PEREZ: Shortly after he is appointed, they win a conviction for a leader of a militant faction in Kosovo.


PEREZ: The thing that he had been working on for some time finally comes to fruition, and here he gets his phone call from the Justice Department saying, you know, you've got to put that aside and you've got to come back and do this pretty difficult and perhaps a little thankless job.

BROWN: Smith had left a post with the Justice Department to take this job at the Hague and reportedly hesitated at the idea of coming back.

PEREZ: He is having a pretty good life living in the Netherlands. He has a pretty prominent position over there.

BROWN: And that's one of the things that made him attractive for the job.

PEREZ: Jack Smith was the perfect person. He's not been in the United States in recent years, apart from the politics and everything that has been roiling are the Justice Department and our politics here in the United States.


BROWN: Garland made it official on November 18th.

GARLAND: Mr. Smith is the right choice to complete these matters in an even-handed and urgent matter.

BROWN: A terrible bicycle accident delayed his move back to the U.S. until early January 2023, so Smith got right to work from the Netherlands, assembling a team of more than 20 and launching a seven- month long investigation via Zoom.

MCCABE: The attorney general made it clear that when he appointed Jack Smith that he would move this investigation forward without delays. And that is exactly what's happened.

ALAN VINEGRAD, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR WITH SPECIAL COUNSEL JACK SMITH: It doesn't surprise me that he would rise to that challenge and take on that responsibility.

BROWN: Alan Vinegrad, Smith's supervisor at the U.S. attorney's office in New York City back in 1999, said he stood out since day one.

VINEGRAD: Jack struck me as a smart, experienced, intelligence, hard- nosed, relentless, thorough investigator and a great trial lawyer.

BROWN: Known as a tenacious investigator and dogged federal prosecutor, Smith eventually made it to the Justice Department in 2010.

PEREZ: He ran the Public Integrity Section at the Justice Department that handles some of the most sensitive political corruption cases.

BROWN: And potentially most difficult to prosecute, high-profile defendants with deep pockets.

COATES: To head the Public Integrity Section means that you are well aware of political optics, and you know how to navigate a way to build a case to leave no stone unturned, all with an eye towards ensuring people view the investigation as nonpolitical.

HONIG: Jack Smith does however have a bit of a mixed record. Several of his highest profile cases ended up failing. He indicted the governor of Virginia, then the Supreme Court threw the case out. He was involved in the indictment of Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey which ended up in an acquittal and then that case got thrown out, too. He was involved in the prosecution of John Edwards, the former vice presidential candidate, that case also failed.

POLANTZ: They're bringing ambitious cases. They don't want to lose, but that is one of the things that happens to the Justice Department sometimes.

BROWN: Losses and failures that team Trump has jumped on, tried to exploit and some might say conflate.

TRUMP: Jack Smith, he is a terrorists. He is a Trump hater.

PARLATORE: President Trump, he has a certain way about him in the way that he describes people. His hyperbole about Jack Smith certainly is, you know, his interpretation of a prosecutor with a career of overstepping, of, you know, having convictions overturned and things like that.

PEREZ: It goes to show you that it doesn't matter what your resume, if you're investigating somebody like Donald Trump and if you're living in this very politicized era, you're going to get accused of being political, and that's exactly what happened. Everything was thrown at him.

BROWN: Smith didn't take the bait.

HONIG: He only has said a few sentences to us outside of court. You let your evidence speak for itself. It's not about you as a prosecutor. It's about the case you're making.

PEREZ: He didn't want to be the focus of this investigation. And the only pictures we had were him in this robe that they wear at the war crimes tribunal, and we begged the Justice Department to give us another picture so we could show it on television, and he politely declined to sit for a new photograph.

MCCABE: He is apparently going to maintain this speak softly and carry a big indictment approach to the case. I would expect that he's had the benefit of learning from his predecessors.


BROWN: Like recent special counsel, Robert Mueller.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's finally here. Robert Mueller testifies today.

POLANTZ: Robert Mueller had that disastrous time before Congress testifying about what his investigation found.

ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: The finding indicates that the president was not -- that the president was not -- exculpated.

BROWN: Or former FBI chief Jim Comey.

COMEY: Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information.

PEREZ: They wanted someone like Jack Smith who was going to have a much lower profile, somebody who was going to put his nose to the grind stone, help the team that was already doing the work.

SMITH: We very much look forward to presenting our case.

BROWN: So to hear him finally speak surprised many.

POLANTZ: Very unusual to see a special counsel make a public statement like this.

COATES: Many people might be enticed to, in that role, make sure everyone knows who they are, almost be drunk with the power of it, and wanting to be out in the forefront and hey, look at me. The fact that he didn't seem to revel in it and wanted the indictment to speak for itself might buttress his credibility.

SMITH: Thank you very much.

BROWN: Despite all the efforts by the former president to tear him down.

TRUMP: Jack Smith. What do you think his name used to be? I don't know. Does anybody -- Jack Smith. Sounds so innocent. He's deranged.

COATES: If you were to think about on the one hand, Jack Smith did not use the podium or a bully pulpit in any way, contrast that to the person that's one of the defendants in this case, somebody who has honed his skills in being able to use these platforms to act as a kind of marionette to pull the strings on different narratives. What a contrast. I wonder how it's going to play out?

MCCABE: This case will follow Jack Smith around for the rest of his life, no matter how it comes out.

BROWN: Coming up, the former president is due on court this week to answer these charges. Will this case affect his status as the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 election, or will his supporters double down on their candidate?



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, are you concerned about the Trump indictment?


BROWN: As the Justice Department tries to convict the Republican frontrunner on criminal charges, the president is staying out of it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, what do you say to Americans to convince them that they should trust the independence and fairness of the Justice Department when your predecessor, Donald Trump, repeatedly attacks it?

BIDEN: Because you notice I have never once, not one single time, suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do relative to bringing a charge or not bringing a charge. I'm honest. PEREZ: I think Biden really does believe that he has to stay out of

this. He has to remain quiet for the Justice Department to have any legitimacy. After all, this is a prosecution of the person who's running against him, the leading candidate against him.

MCCARTHY: This is a very dark day in America.

BROWN: But some Republicans like House Speaker Kevin McCarthy allege Biden is weaponizing his Justice Department against his likely opponent in 2024.

MCCARTHY: They treated President Trump differently than they treat others, and it didn't have to be this way. This is going to disrupt this nation because it goes to the core of equal justice for all.

BROWN: Republicans on the campaign trail are walking a fine line. Former vice president Mike Pence says the indictment will only further divide the country.

MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a sad day for America to see a former president of the United States indicted by the administration of a sitting president, who is also a potential rival in the upcoming election.

BROWN: And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is attacking the DOJ but not the former president.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will, once and for all, end weaponization of government under my administration. That will happen.

BROWN: Asa Hutchinson is the only GOP candidate calling on Trump to end his campaign.

ASA HUTCHINSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For the good of the country and for the good of the office of presidency, this is unprecedented that we have a former president criminally charged for mishandling classified information, for obstruction of justice. These are serious charges that merit serious consideration by the public.

BROWN: Former attorney general Bill Barr appeared on FOX News, criticizing claims by his former boss and many of his allies that Trump is being treated unfairly by the federal government.

BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: And this idea of presenting Trump as a victim here, a victim of a witch hunt is ridiculous. Yes, he's been a victim in the past, but this is much different. He's not a victim here. He was totally wrong that he had the right to have those documents. Those documents are among the most sensitive secrets that the country has.

BROWN: Trump's former lawyer who left the legal team after the indictment talked about Trump's state of mind on ABC.

JAMES TRUSTY, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Yes, President Trump -- you know, this won't be a news flash -- is a pretty resilient guy. You know, he's a pretty tough hided person. So he's not, you know, crumbling in fear or anything remotely like that.

TRUMP: As far as the joke of an indictment, it's a horrible thing. It's a horrible thing for this country. I've been indicted twice now in a couple of months.


You know, when I was studying and when I was a very, very successful businessman, I never heard the word indictment. What's indictment mean? Sir, that's when you're extremely dishonest, sir. No, these people are con men.

COATES: If you thought this election cycle was going to be all about the policy issues and nothing about political baggage, you got another thing coming.

PEREZ: This is going to be front and center. This is going to be part of this campaign. He's going to fund raise against it. He is going to attack the institutions. It's not something that prosecutors are ever comfortable with when they're trying to do their jobs.

COATES: I think Trump's legal strategy is going to be a page from his own playbook. Try to kill the messenger. Undermine the credibility of those who he perceives as attacking him. Deflect, disparage, and encourage people to look at this as part of a collective witch hunt.

WU: The indictments alone are going to start to peel off more moderate folks who think that even if I like his policies, this is too much of a distraction. Nobody can face up to four or five criminal trials while they're attempting to run the country.

BROWN: From a legal standpoint --

HONIG: This indictment will do nothing to stop Donald Trump from running for office. In fact, there is nothing in our law or any of the laws charged here that would prevent a person who's been convicted or even imprisoned from serving as president.

COATES: He's now been twice indicted, one at the state level, one at the federal level, twice impeached as well. This is not part of the qualifications and criteria that the framers of the Constitution contemplated as disqualifying.

BROWN: How this plays out could depend on who wins the election.

POLANTZ: If Donald Trump were to win the presidency and was to be convicted of the charges that the Justice Department levied against him, we could be in some real constitutional quagmires that there have never been before in American history.

HONIG: Trump might lose the election, in which case go ahead, try him at will. Trump might win the election in which case he's going to be the sitting president again. There is no way there will be a trial of a sitting president. There is no way there will be conviction or imprisonment of a sitting president. WU: If Trump were to win the presidency, again, he's going to pardon

himself and perhaps pardon a lot of other people that have been convicted. I think for another Republican, if they win, I think it's quite likely that they'll end up pardoning Trump.

HONIG: If Trump becomes president again, I think this federal case one way or another is doomed.

BROWN: On Tuesday, Trump is expected to appear in a federal court in Miami, where the former president will be placed under arrest and enter a plea of not guilty. A Trump appointed judge has been initially assigned to the case.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: When Trump appears here on Tuesday, there's going to be a lot of security all across the courthouse. The United States Marshals, the Federal Protective Services, but also the local police. There's always the concern when the former president appears anywhere that his supporters could start some trouble. That's something that the law enforcement here is not taking for granted. Donald Trump is urging his supporters to come out.

BROWN: On Truth Social, Trump posted, "See you in Miami on Tuesday."

PROKUPECZ: It's always concerning when he's posting something. What does he mean? What is he trying to tell his followers, his supporters? And for law enforcement, it's something that they take seriously. They're not going to take any chances here.

BROWN: Inside the courthouse, one thing is certain, Trump will become the first former president to face criminal charges by the government he was once elected to lead.

HONIG: This indictment is remarkably well put together. It is clear and concise, and every important assertion, allegation of fact in this indictment, is backed up by a specific piece of evidence, by an e- mail, by a text, by an audio recording, by a photograph. These are not far-flung allegations. These allegations are all backed up by hard evidence.

COATES: No one should rejoice in the fact that a former president of this country has now been indicted. It's an awful notion to think about the substance of these claims and what it would mean to the people whose lives may be in peril if national security related information, if defense information, is haphazardly handled, disseminated, or even available for people to see who don't wish us well.

WU: It raises the question of, is it good or bad for the country to go forward with the prosecution of Trump? People can differ on this. I think it shows people in this country and generations ahead of us that the law really doesn't favor the rich and the powerful, but it's applied equally to people.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Special Counsel Jack Smith isn't done investigating the former president. He's also looking into Mr. Trump's involvement in efforts to block the certification of the 2020 election. The prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia, is also probing if the former president's actions around the elections broke any laws, which means he could face even more charges.

I'll see you next time on THE WHOLE STORY. Thanks for watching.