Return to Transcripts main page
Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
FBI: Classified Documents Were Taken To Unauthorized Locations At Mar-a-Lago; Trump Allies Rush To His Defense After FBI Affidavit Released; Source: Trump Legal Team Plans To File Before Midnight Deadline To Clarify Special Master Request For Review Of A Mar-a-Lago Docs; Trump Struggling To Bring On High-Profile Florida Attorney; President Biden's Daughter, Her Stolen Journal And The 2020 Election; Wolf Blitzer's New Holocaust Special Airs Tonight At 11PM ET. Aired 8- 9p ET
Aired August 26, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: He also talked about the fact that he had this chronic pain, that he has a metal rod in his back, and that's why he had the cannabis with him.
But the Russian Courts still rejected his appeal leaving his 14-year prison sentence intact -- Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Kylie, thank you so much for that. And thank you all so much for joining us. I'm Kate Bolduan.
AC 360 starts now.
JIM SCIUTTO CNN HOST: Good Friday evening to you, Jim Sciutto here, sitting in for Anderson.
Tonight, making sense of the unprecedented look we've just gotten into what until now, was almost unimaginable: The criminal investigation of a former President. It follows the equally unprecedented Court- approved search of a former President's home.
Today under orders from the same Federal Judge who approved that search warrant, the Justice Department released the affidavit backing the warrant. The document laying out the government's case that a search could yield evidence of a crime or even multiple crimes.
It is heavily redacted to protect sources, potential witnesses, as well as the ongoing investigation of not just the President, but also, quoting the document now "all potential criminal confederates."
That said, there is much it does reveal starting with what investigators believed they would find beyond the 15 boxes that were returned to the government in January. Quoting again: "There is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain classified NDI or that our Presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at the premises."
We should note NDI stands for National Defense Information. The affidavit goes on to provide a preliminary assessment of what was in the January material, quoting again: "184 unique documents bearing classification markings including 67 documents marked as confidential, 92 documents marked as secret, 25 documents marked as top secret."
Twenty-five top secret documents, and just to put that in perspective, I want to read you a passage from the US Code which anyone receiving such documents should be familiar with: "The test for assigning top- secret classification is whether it is authorized-unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security." Exceptionally grave damage.
The affidavit though does go on to specify far worse and apologies in advance for the jargon, it will be explained in another passage from the filing. Quoting now: "FBI agents observed markings reflecting the following compartments dissemination controls HCS, FISA, ORCON, NOFORN and SI. Based on my training and experience, I know that documents classified at these levels typically contain NDI." That's quoting again from the document.
Again, NDI is for National Defense Information, which is alarming enough. FISA is Court ordered surveillance collecting foreign intelligence, ORCON, that means so sensitive the agency which collected that intelligence must approve any request to share it even within this country. NOFORN is Intelligence too sensitive to share with any foreign entities including close allies, and SI or Special Intelligence is from signals intercepts such as from the NSA.
The affidavit then defines something far graver in the list of Intelligence terms, and that is: "HCS, human control system or HCS is an SCI control system designed to protect Intelligence information derived from clandestine, secret human sources overseas, commonly referred to as human intelligence."
In other words, information which, if disclosed, could get secret foreign Intelligence agents captured or even killed.
And just to underscore, this is not what agents recently took from Mar-a-Lago, it is from the 15 boxes recovered back in January. The DOJ is concerned that more classified information remained behind before that search a couple of weeks ago.
In addition, the affidavit refers to the other potential crimes cited in the search warrant, we're quoting again: "There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the premises." Evidence of obstruction.
Much of the rest on the subject is redacted signaling just how sensitive information about this aspect of the probe could be. Remember, the Justice Department did not want to release any of this at all, and ordinarily, such things are never made public during an ongoing investigation, especially of an elected official, candidate, or potential candidate, in part that is to protect the individuals themselves.
However, this particular individual, the former President wanted it out there, all of it unredacted and today, he complained about those redactions which is only the latest in a series of complaints, excuses, shifting explanations from him and some of his allies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC TRUMP, SON OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My father has worked so collaboratively with them for months. In fact, the lawyer that has been working on this was totally shocked.
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): ... to where Federal government has gone, it is like what we thought about the Gestapo, people like that.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Do I know that the boxes of material they took from Mar-a-Lago that they won't put things in those boxes to entrap him? How do we know that they're going to be honest with us about what's actually in the boxes?
JOHN SOLOMON, TRUMP REPRESENTATIVE TO THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES: He had a standing order -- there is the word I've been looking for -- those documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them,
ANDREA MITCHELL, ANCHOR, NBC NEWS: Donald Trump tweeted that President Barack Hussein Obama, this is his tweet, not my words, "... kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified."
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If you look at the Espionage Act, it is not really about taking the documents, it is about destroying or hiding them, or giving them to the enemy. It's not about taking them and putting them in a place that's roughly as safe as they were in in the first place.
SOLOMON: As we can all relate to, everyone ends up having to bring home their work, from time to time.
MICK MULVANEY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: To go into a former President's home, there better be, you know, a dead body in there or a smoking gun or something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: That was the former President's Acting Chief of Staff a few days ago, seemingly preparing to move the goalposts. Today, in a tweet, he seemed to. Quoting him now: "It appears this raid was in fact, just about documents, as even some of the left have opined that is simply outrageous," also weighing in saying more than he ever has on the subject, President Biden mocking one of those excuses you just heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want you to know, I've declassified everything in the world. I'm president. I can do it all. Come on.
Declassified everything? I am not going to comment because I don't know the details. I don't even want to know. I'll let the Justice Department take care of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: All right, let's get to the facts on all three fronts -- legal, political and national security -- CNN's Jessica Schneider, she starts us off.
So Jessica, let's look at this affidavit. What more does it say about exactly how those classified documents right up to top-secret were handled from the time the former President left office until the time of that search at Mar-a-Lago?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, there was great concern here because they said the documents were handled very haphazardly with seemingly little regard for the very highly sensitive nature of the contents there.
And we see in this affidavit, you know, that when the Archives referred this matter to the DOJ back in February, they referenced how they had done this preliminary review of those 15 boxes that they took before the FBI took the boxes over and how those boxes contained not only this classified material, but also things like news articles, photos, notes, printouts.
The Archive said that they were significantly concerned because of how those classified records as they put it, intermixed with other records and really just improperly stored and identified.
So, that was really when alarm bells first went off for the Archives telling the DOJ and then we know that the FBI took over the investigation in May -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Yes, there seems no special care taken for the sensitivity of that information. Did the affidavit shed light on who exactly investigators have been talking to? Of course, without revealing their identity, which they were very sensitive not to.
SCHNEIDER: Yes. Exactly. So no specific identities, that's all redacted. But in this legal memo that accompanied the affidavit that was also released today, DOJ is describing how they've been talking to, as they put it, a significant number of witnesses.
And the major reason that prosecutors gave to keep really what was more than half of this affidavit redacted was in fact to protect those witnesses.
The DOJ put it really bluntly in their memo, they said, a lot of the information in this affidavit, it could not only be used to identify these numerous witnesses, but if the witnesses were exposed, DOJ said this, they said they could face retaliation, intimidation, harassment, even threats to their physical safety.
So in part because of those concerns, that's why the Judge allowed a significant portion of this affidavit to be kept out of public view for the safety of the witnesses.
SCIUTTO: Yes, and we've seen very public attacks on witnesses who appeared in other investigations.
One unredacted portion of the affidavit cited a communication from a Trump attorney, Evan Corcoran. Tell us what we know about that.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, so this was a three-page letter sent from Evan Corcoran, May 25th, no redactions, and it is where Evan Corcoran pushed back against DOJ's investigation.
In fact, he wrote out a list of several bullet points as to why he said Trump could not be implicated in the criminal probe. So among them are the claims that Trump had, in his words, absolute authority to declassify documents.
You know, Jim, of course, our reporting team, just a few days ago debunked that claim by talking to more than a dozen former Trump officials who said that the idea that Trump declassified all of these documents in a standing order was just ridiculous.
SCHNEIDER: But on top of that, Corcoran's letter also tried to claim that a former President is totally immune from criminal liability because of separation of powers issues, also a faulty legal argument here. And then overall, Jim, you know, Corcoran's letter tries to claim and warn that the DOJ is being just purely political about this investigation. And of course, that's a refrain we've heard repeatedly over the past several weeks from Trump and his allies.
SCIUTTO: No question, and normally, a process of declassification involves consultation with Intelligence Agencies at relabeling, and so on, none of which appears to have happened here.
Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.
So, perspective now from CNN legal analyst, Carrie Cordero, former counsel at DOJ to the Assistant Attorney General for national security; also with us CNN national security analyst and former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper; Eli Honig, CNN senior legal analyst, former federal prosecutor.
If I could begin with you, Director Clapper, as you know, in this redacted affidavit, we learned these classified materials recovered included material beyond really the level of top-secret, very highly classified categories within that level of classification, including clandestine human sources, overseas intelligence gathering.
Given your decades in Intelligence, as well as serving as DNI, tell us what potential damage could be caused by keeping these in an unsecure environment?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, first caveat statement I always make when we're discussing this, we still do not know the substantive content of any of these documents.
What we do know, though, are the ascriptions that characterize them from a classification standpoint, and you gave a very good explanation at the top, Jim, about what these caveats mean.
A point I would add is that they are not mutually exclusive. So, I would suspect that some of these documents at least which is typical, particularly with HCS, Human Intelligence Control System, could also be ORCON, Originator Control and NOFORN, which just emphasizes the sensitivity and the potential profound damage that could accrue if these are not protected, which they weren't and if they are exposed.
And of course, in the case of Human Control System that is designed to protect assets that we have recruited overseas, who are risking their very lives to provide US government information. Not only does that have a current impact, the substantive content of what we are reporting, but it has potentially a future impact in that it would serve to chill other potential assets from being recruited.
SCIUTTO: It's good point, the overlap, as you mentioned there. You could imagine circumstances where a clandestine foreign source is so sensitive that it would also be restricted from sharing with foreign allies and also require the approval of the agencies, say the CIA who collected it. I mean, these details matter.
Carrie, from a legal standpoint, as we mentioned, the affidavit said that a search would likely find quote, and we're quoting here: "Evidence of obstruction."
Obviously, as with Intelligence, there is a lot we don't know from the redactions, but what stood out to you about that? What potential evidence of obstruction?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, part of the information that presumably was in the affidavit, but is still redacted has to do with the back and forth that went between the Justice Department or Archives officials, and the former President or his advisers and lawyers.
And so there has been an extensive back and forth over the course of a year-and-a-half where the government was trying to recover materials that it believed were inappropriately stored at the former President's residence.
And so that information over time, I think what it seems to me happened is that they engaged -- the government engaged with the former President's team, tried to have materials returned. And then at some point, they started to believe that that information was not being forthcoming, that they were not being told the truth, that there was more information that was still stored there.
And so I think part of what was in the obstruction part, potentially of the affidavit is that back and forth, and the information indicating conflicting accounts, basically; information that the investigation was revealing, indicating documents that should not have been there were still there in contrast to what the Trump team was communicating to the government.
SCIUTTO: That's a great point, the conflicting accounts of how this was handled. Elie, let's talk about the law here for a moment because as always,
with events like this, we have different descriptions and reactions from different ends of the political perspective, but when you look at this affidavit, what does the law say about holding information that is of national security sensitivity in an unsecured facility as a former President when it has not been substantively declassified?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Jim, first of all, first thing on the law. When there is a question about was this search justified? Was it warranted? Legally speaking, all that prosecutors have to do is show probable cause that at least one crime was committed and that they'll find evidence of that crime at that location.
We've now seen the affidavit, we haven't seen it all, but we've seen that DOJ, over 37 pages lays out that evidence to the satisfaction of the Judge.
Now with respect to those underlying crimes, just simply having documents off-site in a non-secure facility, even if they are classified or sensitive, is not in itself enough to charge any individual criminally. You have to show, and this is always the hard part for prosecutors, an individual's knowledge and consent.
And I think some of the evidence that we saw in the affidavit today could go directly to that. For example, as Carrie just pointed out, the fact that some of these documents were returned, but others were not; some people were making decisions there.
The fact that these highly sensitive documents were found to use the term from the affidavit "unfoldered" and mixed in with other documents in places where they wouldn't ordinarily be stored and kept, that tells us that somebody dealt with those documents, somebody moved them around, somebody's hands had to be aware of their contents.
And if you can pin down who that person was and that the person was generally aware that what they were doing was wrong, you don't have to show that they knew every nuance of the statute, but generally knew their conduct was wrong or illegal. That's what you need to prove a crime.
SCIUTTO: Understood. Okay. And that's important, because they've got to prove it. Right?
Carrie, I do want to read you a portion of the affidavit, which is from a letter the DOJ counsel sent to the former President's counsel, this on June 8th, two months before the search, and I'm quoting here, again: "... we ask that the room at Mar-a-Lago where the documents have been stored be secured, and that all of the boxes that were removed from the White House to Mar-a-Lago (along with any other items in that room) be preserved in that room, in their current condition until further notice."
If that room was not, in fact, secure, and there was a lot of talk prior that maybe they just wanted a new lock to be put on there, but it seems more clear, now they wanted a genuinely secure facility here. What would that mean legally for the former President?
CORDERO: Well, what it means is that he had knowledge and it was communicated to him from the government that these documents needed to be secured. So, there is a piece of this where all of this search could have never occurred had the documents simply been returned.
And instead, what was happening is the government had to routinely go back and keep asking, well, if you're not going to return them now, now, we at least need to secure you, because there's the criminal prosecution part of this, but there's the national security equities that are at stake and the national security equities are first and foremost that the information be protected.
So, even while the government was engaging in an investigation about obstruction and about mishandling of classified information, really from a national security equity perspective, the most important thing is that get those documents stored securely, and so that's what that letter is about.
SCIUTTO: Understood. Listen, so much to digest here. It was quite a day in this country. Carrie Cordero, Director Clapper, Elie Honig, thanks so much for walking us all through it.
Coming up next, we have more on the political reaction tonight, especially from the former President's inner circle.
Later, the theft of the diary of President Biden's daughter, Ashley, the two who pleaded guilty to it and the backstory of how it got into their hands. That, much more ahead on 360.
SCIUTTO: We gave you a taste at the top of the reaction from the former President and former acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, whose complaint that all the FBI found were "just documents." Try telling that to Klaus Fuchs, who stole the secrets to the first atom bomb, or even more recently, David Petraeus.
In any event, the former President spokesman also weighed in without evidence saying that today's release of the redacted affidavit proves the Biden administration is up to no good.
As for Republicans who are not buying the excuses, listen to GOP strategist, Karl Rove.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, GOP STRATEGIST: My sense is they were asking for a year- and-a-half. And why he was holding on to these materials when he had no legal authority to do so under the Presidential Records Act is beyond me.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SCI It could turn out to be an exception. Tonight, let's get
perspective though from CNN senior political commentator and former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, and also CNN political commentator, Alyssa Farah Griffin, who served as Director of Strategic Communications to the former President.
Good to have you both on tonight.
And Alyssa, listen, I understand the questions coming from the right on this, the President's supporters about how unusual it is for the FBI to go into a former President's home.
That said you don't have to look back far to remember the reaction from some of those very same people to Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information on her private e-mail server here.
I wonder, what's your reaction when you hear that -- it's not, you know, monolithic, but nearly monolithic support for the President and criticism of this raid?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, certain things should obviously be above partisan politics and our national security is one of those things that should be. I was working on Capitol Hill with the Oversight Committee when we were looking into potential mishandling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's e-mails that may have contained classified information.
Now, what we saw established today with really important points. The former President had top-secret, classified information. He had multiple times and opportunities to give it back or to secure it properly in a SCIF until he properly returned it, and the Department of Justice seemed to be genuinely afraid that putting more information out there could put FBI agents at risk or witnesses cooperating.
These are damning facts. So, the quick sort of reactive response from my fellow Republicans to say, this is no big deal. Mick Mulvaney is a friend, but he is wrong on this one. I'm just going to be blunt.
I held a TS-SCI security clearance when I was in government. The information marked as TS, if it gets into the wrong hands, could pose grave threat to national security.
This is potential American lives, ally lives, sources, and methods that we use and this is an extremely serious, serious thing that we're facing.
SCIUTTO: No question. David Axelrod, I just want to ask you by comparison, how did you -- how did your colleagues in the Obama administration treat such top-secret, particularly top-secret in the categories we're speaking about in those documents removed from the former President's home here? How did you treat them? Did you take them into special secure facilities when you were using them? Did you take any of them home?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, I mean, there's a prescribed procedure for dealing with these materials, Jim, and whether you served in a Democratic administration or previous Republican administrations, I'm sure that you behaved -- well. I'm not surprised to hear Karl Rove react the way he did, because, you know, I was in SCIFs, I was in the Situation Room when sensitive matters were being discussed, when materials were being examined, and there was a very, very specific procedure for it.
This is so alien to me, and I think to most people who have worked in the White House, the idea that anyone, a President or anyone else could walk out of the White House with hundreds of documents, some of them some of the most sensitive documents relating to national security and hang on to them for months and months and months, and resist returning them. You know, I don't know what how this is going to shake out legally.
But it's appalling from a national security standpoint, and it underscores the problem with the former President, which is he has absolutely no regard for rules or laws or norms or institutions.
And in this case, his disregard for them had real potential ramifications for the safety of people who are essential to America's security.
SCIUTTO: During my brief service in government, I had a Top-Secret SCI clearance as well, and to Alyssa's point, I remember, the great concern that folks involved at a much lower or even high level took when handling those documents.
Alyssa, the redacted affidavit makes a reference to some of these highly classified documents containing "handwritten notes" by the former President, was that something he would do a lot in your experience? And what kind of notes might he make?
GRIFFIN: Yes, that was very common. I mean, something as simple as if he was happy with a news article that you helped shape or a new story, he would sign it and write you a note on it.
I had things that he signed for me and I handed them back over to Staff Secretary to Archive. Again, we've just got to kind of go back to the basics, to David's point of presidential records belong to the American public, they don't belong to the individual President.
And the narrative I've kind of seen from Trump supporters on the right is basically, it's not illegal, because these are his presidential records. It's not illegal when the President does it and he had unilateral authority to declassify.
Well, honestly, to President Biden's point, that's an absurd point that he could just say anything, no matter how sensitive nuclear codes on down, he can just declassify it, not go through any of the mechanisms of consulting other Intelligence Agencies, the Defense Department and just do this at a whim. It's kind of absurd.
And I think that they're falling -- they really don't have a good argument here. You could see that they're kind of test running some in the media, and I think he is going to have to come up with something much legally more sound. SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, listen, especially knowing what we know now,
why declassify, for instance, information relating to a secret foreign Intelligence source, right? I mean, a person's life could be in danger.
AXELROD: Well --
SCIUTTO: Sorry, David.
AXELROD: Jim, it's -- I mean, there's another why, which is why in the world, would you have those documents? Why would a former President need those documents? What was his -- did he think it was cool to have them? Did he have an intent to do something with them? We don't know the answers to these questions yet, and that's why this investigation is important.
But even if it even if it was just because he thought it would be cool, you know, this this is clearly, clearly unacceptable. You can't operate a government like this, it has dangerous implications.
SCIUTTO: As my mom used to say, needs versus wants.
David Axelrod, Alyssa Farah Griffin, thanks so much both of you tonight.
GRIFFIN: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Well, the clock is ticking for the former President to provide a Federal Judge a better explanation for why he wants what's known as a Special Master to oversee the review of documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. We are going to have the latest on that request coming up.
SCIUTTO: Deadline coming the former president has just a few hours left to clarify his demand for what's known as a special master to oversee the review of evidence taken in that Mar-a-Lago search. Federal judge in Florida gave his legal team until midnight tonight to clarify some basic legal points, including why the court should intervene and what authority it had to do so, and this comes after his team waited two weeks after the search to file that lawsuit.
Joining me now CNN senior Washington correspondent and "CNN NEWSROOM" anchor, Pamela Brown.
Pam, I understand that you do have some new reporting tonight is the Trump legal team moving forward.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I am told from a source familiar with the matter close to Trump's legal team. That yes that the Team Trump will be filing a response to the judges questions and response to the initial request for a special master. So the source tells me that that is something that the team is working on. And it intends to file before that midnight deadline. Of course, what it will say and if it provides any more clarity like this judge was asking for that remains to be seen here, Jim. But it is notable that the Team Trump does plan to respond to that to this request by the midnight deadline.
SCIUTTO: In order, can you clarify what exactly the judge was asking Trump team to clarify?
BROWN: Well, several things. It was clear, this judge was perplexed by this initial request. This is supposed to be routine paperwork asking for a special master, which would be a -- an arbiter that would come in and look at the documents to filter through whether there was any privileged information. And that's a whole separate issue of whether there actually would be privileged information.
So the judge said, look, you need to come back and tell me what exactly you're asking for here. Whether I even have the jurisdiction to do this, you need to lay out and clarify your argument about what this means. If you say as the team contended in its argument that this is a violation, this search of Mar-a-Lago was a violation of the Fourth Amendment unreasonable search and seizure, what exactly are you asking for than beyond that?
And so, that it will be interesting to see how the Trump legal team responds to those questions. And I do want to point out that there is already and we learned this more about this today in the affidavit, there was already a privilege review team from DOJ going through these documents taken from Mar-a-Lago.
And so, I was just talking to Carrie Cordero, who is a legal analyst at CNN, and she said, there's really no reason for this request. In her words, she views this request as garbage. More like a political, a PR stunt more than anything here. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Pamela Brown, thanks so much.
So let's get some perspective on do they have a case from former -- from Harvard Law School senior lecturer and former federal judge Nancy Gertner.
Good to have you on Judge tonight. Thanks for taking the time.
NANCY GERTNER, FMR FEDERAL JUDGE: Good to be on. (INAUDIBLE).
SCIUTTO: So granted, you, we have not seen exactly how Trump's team articulates their case, but from a legal perspective, based on what you know, do they have a case?
GERTNER: No, I'm sure you want me to say more than that. But the answer, the short answer is no. They don't have a case in two respects. First of all, the person that this motion should have gone to is not a judge in another city, who happened to have been appointed by former President Trump. But it would go to the magistrate judge who's in charge of the case, the case is the search of Mar-a-Lago. And any issues with respect to that case, goes to that judge. If they don't like that magistrate judge's ruling, then it goes to the duty judge who is another judge, that is on simply on duty in this month, and they can't just pick a judge out of the hat. So that's the first thing. The Judge asked, what's your jurisdiction?
GERTNER: And that's a fair question seems like none. You know, and then the other --
SCIUTTO: Sorry, go ahead.
GERTNER: The other issue here is -- the issue here is that in an attorney -- search of a lawyer's office, like Michael Cohen, on the one hand, or Giuliani, on the other hand, you know that there will be documents that, in fact, the government doesn't have any business looking at with respect to other clients. So oftentimes, a special master is appointed right away an outsider to look at the documents. These documents presumably belong to the United States. And so the notion all of them belong to the United States to the extent that they are presidential records. So he bears the burden of suggesting why anyone, anything should be taken out of the box, and anything should be looked at differently. So --
GERTNER: -- and then the final issue is the Fourth Amendment issue is, if there's an illegal search here, there'll be time to litigate that this is not the time.
SCIUTTO: So let me ask you this, because as Pamela noted, there is what's known as a filter team that's already going through this for the -- on behalf of the DOJ to look for any potentially privileged information here. Can Trump make the argument that they don't have his best interests at heart sufficiently right, in other words, that you need an outside special master or equivalent filter team to do so?
GERTNER: Sure, he could make that argument. It is, of course, an argument he should have made two weeks ago. So that's one issue. And then, you know, the -- we don't presume the bad faith of the DOJ. The DOJ has a tank team or a privilege team, arguably separate from the investigation. You don't usually presume that that's not enough in the ordinary circumstance. So he actually could have tried to make the argument that when you're talking about a president, something special should have been done that we don't do in the ordinary case, but it's a little late in the day to make that argument. That's something you should have made two weeks ago.
SCIUTTO: That's why we have a judge on. Judge Nancy Gertner, thanks so much for joining us this Friday night.
GERTNER: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: So coming up this hour, new reports the former president has been huddling with illegal advisors about his mounting legal woes, but who exactly is in that circle these days? So look at who's who when it comes to giving Trump his legal advice.
SCIUTTO: With the deadline quickly approaching for the former president to explain his request for a special master his legal woes have become more apparent. In recent days, he's been seen at his golf club in New Jersey huddled with his legal team. Sources tell CNN, he is struggling in his hunt for a high profile Florida attorney. And the former president's current and former legal advisors have come under fire often for their false sometimes outrageous statements.
360's Randi Kaye has the details on the attorneys who have had Trump's here lately.
CHRISTINA BOBB, TRUMP ATTORNEY: When you want to do something shady, you get your shady friends to help you.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Christina Bobb, the former host of the right wing, One American News Network talking about the search at Mar-a-Lago. She also worked for then President Trump in Homeland Security, but is now one of the faces of Trump's legal team. In the aftermath of the Mar-a-Lago search,
BOBB: I'm a little bit befuddled as to why they would do such a drastic thing. So disrespecting and dishonouring, other than the fact that it's a political tool.
KAYE (voice-over): Throughout his presidency and after, Trump has used the ever changing cast of characters on his legal team to operate as his own personal PR machine. And the outlandish claims have known no bounds.
Listen to lawyers Sidney Powell who for years has been pushing the false narrative of massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
SIDNEY POWELL, FMR TRUMP ATTORNEY: It's been organized and conducted with the help of Silicon Valley people, the big tech companies, the social media companies and even the media companies. And I'm going to release the Kraken.
KAYE (voice-over): Powell was part of the self proclaimed Elite Strike Force a team of lawyers who claimed to be rooting out election fraud. They falsely accused voting technology companies Dominion Voting System, and Smartmatic have helping orchestrate the alleged fraud by using an algorithm in their machines to flip votes from then President Trump to Joe Biden. Powell was pressed to provide proof during this tense interview with the Australian Broadcast Corporation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you have in your case? You have a bunch of dodgy affidavits that don't add up. You have a group of people with dubious credentials.
POWEL: That's your characterization. That's all your characterization.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So far, you've provided no evidence --
POWELL: You might as well be working for Dominion and Smarmatic.
KAYE (voice-over): Dominion is now suing Powell and Trump's former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani made so many false claims about voting in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
RUDY GIULIANI, FMR TRUMP ATTORNEY: Dead people voted over three 300,000 ballots were counted in secret.
KAYE (voice-over): That a New York court suspended his law license.
GIULIANI: If we're wrong, we will be made fools up. But if we're right, a lot of them will go to jail. So, let's have trial by combat.
KAYE (voice-over): Another attorney Jenna Ellis had also signed on as part of the so-called Elite Strike Force. Listen to how she danced around the fact there was no evidence of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election.
JENNA ELLIS, FMR TRUMP ATTORNEY: I think it depends on your definition of mass that if I mean, so even if there is any instance of fraud, you know, it doesn't have to be millions and millions of ballots. It only has to be enough to tip the scales.
KAYE (voice-over): But there wasn't enough to tip the scales not even close. So it's no surprise the competency of Trump's legal team has come into question, along with advice they've given him over the years. Take for example, the advice of Trump lawyer Alina Habba, who recently has suggested the former president wants the DOJ to release the names of the witnesses who helped secure the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago. That raises all kinds of serious security concerns.
ALINA HABBA, TRUMP ATTORNEY: What I would advise him is to ask them to uncover everything so that we can see what is going on. I understand the witness protection issue.
KAYE (voice-over): Legal advice, seemingly for an audience of one.
Randi Kaye, CNN.
SCIUTTO: Just ahead, a twisted tale involving President Biden's daughter and her stolen personal journal. Details ahead.
SCIUTTO: This week, a different saga that stretches back to the 2020 election is that an end (ph), at least appear so for the two individuals who pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing and selling a personal journal and other items belonging to the president's daughter Ashley Biden. That is a headline. But the back story is detailed and dark.
CNN's Athena Jones has the details.
ASHLEY BIDEN, JOE BIDEN'S DAUGHTER: I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, and had a fairly normal childhood.
ATHEN JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ashley Biden's tax records, cell phone, and a handwritten journal containing highly personal entries. Among the items two Florida residents admitted to stealing and selling to conservative activist group Project Veritas pleading guilty in federal court in New York to conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property.
DONALD TRUMP (R) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Thank you, Pennsylvania very much. I'm thrilled to be in --
JONES (voice-over): The latest revelation in a sordid tale that stretches back to the final weeks of the 2020 election. In June 2020, court documents say Aimee Harris was a guest in the same room of a private residence in Delray Beach, Florida, where Biden's daughter had been staying with a friend. Ashley Biden had departed a few days earlier, but was temporarily storing her journal and other items, including a digital camera and a digital storage card containing private family photographs at her friend's house. Court documents say Harris stole Biden's property and later unlisted Robert Kurlander to help her sell it to the highest bidder.
First they targeted the Trump campaign, attending a September 6, 2020 fundraiser to try to drum up interest. According to the filing, the Trump campaign rebuffed the pair. Kurlander texting Harris, campaign can't use it. They want it to go to the FBI. It has to be done in a different way.
Kurlander then reached out to Project Veritas, whose founder James O'Keefe, set in November 2021 video --
JAMES O'KEEFE, FOUNDER, PROJECT VERITAS: Late last year we were approached by tipsters claiming that a copy of Ashley Biden's diary. We had never met or heard of the tipsters. The tipsters indicated the diary had been abandoned in a room in which Ms. Biden stayed at the time.
JONES (voice-over): After the pair used an encrypted messaging app at Project Veritas' request to share photos of Biden stolen property, the organization paid them to bring the property to New York City in September 2020. In New York, a Project Veritas executive agreed to pay Harris $10,000 for the material, and asked for more of Biden's personal items to help authenticate the journal, promising to pay the pair for the additional material. The filing alleges.
The pair returned to Florida, Kurlander texting Harris, I'm expecting that they're going to pay up to $100,000 each, maybe more. Harris soon retrieved the additional Biden material and a Project Veritas employee flew to Florida to pick it up. The organization paid Harris and Kurlander $20,000 each. O'Keefe saying the FBI had searched his employees residences.
O'KEEFE: I woke to the news that apartments and homes of Project Veritas journalists or former journalists had been raided by FBI agents.
JONES (voice-over): Now to the organization nor any of its employees have been charged in the case. And in a statement Project Veritas insisted they did nothing wrong.
Athena Jones, CNN, New York.
SCIUTTO: Coming up, at a time when anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise. We're going to give you a tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the son of Holocaust survivor.
SCIUTTO: Last week, we told you about a new CNN documentary that explained how anti-Semitic ideas once on the fringe have been moving to the mainstream. Tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN is airing a new special report "NEVER AGAIN THE UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM," a tour with our own Wolf Blitzer. It's a very personal story for Wolf. He's the child of Holocaust survivors. He lost all four grandparents to the Holocaust. And he joins me now.
Wolf, I've always been moved by the stories you tell about the Holocaust, how it changed you and your life, how you carry it with you. Explain why this documentary is so important to share with people right now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It's so timely right now, Jim, because of what's going on as you correctly point out, there is an increase in anti-Semitism here in the United States indeed around the world, and there's also an increase in Holocaust denial that these crazy people out there say it just was made up, there really was no Holocaust, 6 million Jews were not murdered by the Nazis. And that has been sadly intensified in recent years. And we thought it was really important to take a tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum here in Washington, which was created, what 30 plus years ago by the U.S. government to remember what happened during the Holocaust because if we don't remember that, God forbid, it could be repeated.
So I took a tour with Sara Bloomfield, the longtime museum director, who's an amazing woman did all of the people who work at the museum are really amazing, the hardworking, dedicated, devoted all those who were involved in founding and creating the museum, they deserve a lot of our credit. I think millions of people have toured the Holocaust Museum in Washington. It's so important.
So I wanted to take our viewers on a tour. And so I walked around. Watch this exchange I had with Sarah Bloomfield, the museum director, we're speaking about the shoes, the shoes that are on exhibit at the museum, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER (on-camera): These are shoes, old shoes.
SARA BLOOMFIELD, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM: This is one of our most iconic exhibits. If you visit these killing centers today, you see thousands upon thousands of shoes like this. The shoes of the victims, the Germans took their shoes because they were going to reuse them and recycle them if you will. But of course the victims would be killed. But this is what is left of those lives.
BLITZER (on-camera): These shoes were 80, 90 years old, and they're here, the only surviving elements for all those people who were exterminated.
BLOOMFIELD: This is the trace of a people before they were gassed.
BLITZER (on-camera): I think those shoes, you know, my four grandparents, we didn't have anything. Nothing was found basically, just horrendous, horrendous situation. It's so important. So timely now to remind people don't know anything about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And I think it's so important. I'm sure you'll agree, Jim that people who come to visit Washington, go to the Washington Mall, Raoul Wallenberg place 14th street and take a tour of this museum. Even those of us who have grown up children of Holocaust survivors, we learn a lot every time we go there. And it's so, so powerful. So important.
SCIUTTO: I've been, I plan to go back. Wolf Blitzer, it's great to have you on. Again, Wolf's new special report. "NEVER AGAIN THE UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM," airs tonight on CNN at 11 o'clock Eastern time.
News continues. So let's hand it over. I called you the great Laura Coates last time, I'm going to call you the super great Laura Coates tonight in "CNN TONIGHT."