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At This Hour

Trump Calls For Release For Search Warrant Of His Home; Violent Rhetoric Circulates On Pro-Trump Forums After FBI Search. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired August 12, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. At This Hour, the Justice Department moves to unseal the warrant for the FBI search at Donald Trump's home. And a new report says the FBI -- that FBI search involves classified documents related to nuclear weapons. And the CDC is loosening COVID guidelines ahead of the new school year. This is what we're watching At This Hour.

Thank you so much for being here, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. At this hour, it is Donald Trump's move. The former President's lawyers have until 3 o'clock today to officially say if they will fight the Justice Department's motion to unseal the warrant authorizing the FBI to search his Mar-a-Lago residents. Trump said on social media that he will not oppose it. He actually is claiming he is quote, encouraging the immediate release. We'll see.

Trump has had the documents in his possession though, since Monday's search, so there is nothing stopping him and his legal team from making it public at any time. But the forward motion here really came from Attorney General Merrick Garland making a big statement yesterday and making it clear that he personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant for Trump's home.

And also new this morning, "The Washington Post" reports the FBI searched Trump's home seeking classified documents related to nuclear weapons. Let's begin with CNN's Katelyn Polantz. She's live in Washington on this looming deadline for Donald Trump. Katelyn, what are you hearing about this?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Kate, we did see that statement almost 12 hours ago from Donald Trump saying he's encouraging the release of these documents. We haven't seen the documents which he could release. We also haven't seen a court filing yet. I just checked just a few minutes ago in the Southern District of Florida, court docket for the search warrant, nothing from the Justice Department announcing where the Trump team stands.

And as you know, Kate, what Donald Trump says is going to happen is not always what happens in these sorts of situations. So we are going to continue waiting to see what his legal team decides to do before that 3:00 p.m. deadline. And things could happen pretty quickly after that. We do know that it might take a little bit of time just because there's writing involved. And also Trump's team was caught off guard by the attorney general statement yesterday. Let's listen to a little bit more of what the Attorney General had to say again.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause. The property receipt is a document that federal law requires law enforcement agents to leave with the property owner. The Department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter.


POLANTZ: Garland mentions the public interest there that is not just him speaking from a podium that is also the argument that the Justice Department made in court. We're going to have to watch and see what the judge does once that filing comes in this afternoon. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Katelyn, thank you so much.

So now to what the FBI was looking for and in that extreme -- in taking that extreme move to search Mar-a-Lago, "The Washington Post" is reporting that federal agents search Trump's Florida home seeking classified nuclear records. CNN's Evan Perez is live in Washington with this part of the story. Evan, what are you learning about this?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, I think the reporting from the Wall Street -- from "The Washington Post" does, I think, explain a little bit about why this has been a drawn out process going back 18 months that the federal government has been trying to retrieve documents that according to prosecutors should never have gone to the former president's beach house in Palm Beach.

"The Post" says that among the documents, they've been looking for or trying to retrieve our documents related to U.S. nuclear weapons programs. And we reported yesterday that at least some of the documents that the government has been trying to get back were documents related to Special Access Programs, Nuclear weapons programs, of course, would be among the most highly secret documents highly prized, guarded, closely guarded secrets of the federal government.

And you get a hint of how important these documents from -- these documents are from the person who is overseeing this. Jay Bratt is the chief of the counterintelligence section in the National Security Division at the Justice Department. We've watched yesterday, Kate, as the Attorney General was about to speak. We saw the lawyers from the National Security Division running in and out of the room, trying to make sure that this filing was done before the Attorney General's speak. And it really does tell you why this has been a thing that they have been focusing on. These are the programs that, again, are supposed to be the most closely guarded and yet they ended up, these documents ended up at a beach house in Palm Beach.


BOLDUAN: Evan, stick with me. I also want to add to the conversation, CNN legal analyst Paul Callan. He's a former New York City prosecutor. And also with us is CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger. Gloria, what do you think is going on here with -- what do you think is going on here today? And what is going to happen in the next few hours?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think today, sometime, we may gain a little bit more insight into the potential criminal exposure that Donald Trump has, as you pointed out earlier in the show, and as Katelyn pointed out, the president on social media last night said, you know, I'd like to release these documents. The judge said, well, I want to hear from you by 3 o'clock today. We don't know whether he's going to say something before that.

So we'll have some insight into the search warrant, which by the way, the President and his attorneys have and could have released any time. But we'll get some insight into that search warrant and to the receipt of what they actually took from Mar-a-Lago. We don't know how detailed that receipt would be. It could say like a box, 10 boxes, or it could say, a little bit more than that.

What we won't get, and I think this is just as important for us to understand is that what we won't get is the affidavit, which would really kind of explain exactly what they were looking for, what they presented to the judge as justification for the search going into Mar- a-Lago. That we will not see. That is under seal.

BOLDUAN: Well, you've also noted that, you know, obviously, Donald Trump and his team, they've had a copy of this form since Monday, they could release it at any time, Paul. Why is it -- what does it tell you? Why is it telling you that it hasn't, just from your perspective?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This is typical behavior of the President. I mean, he always, I mean, look at his tax returns. He's been saying for years, he wants to release them, but he can't, because his lawyers say he's being audited, and he shouldn't release them. And he's always using the lawyers as a shield to prevent release of valuable and interesting information that voters might want to see. So I think he's doing the same thing here with the warrant.

But of course, now, the Attorney General has cornered him and called the bluff and said, we're going to move to release the search warrant. So I think now Mr. Trump is in a bit of a corner. He knows it's going to be released. But watch what's going to happen next. I'm betting his attorneys are going to go into court and try to redact the release so that it doesn't list the crimes that are being investigated. As Gloria said, the thing we'd really like to see is the affidavit in support of probable cause. That is not being released.

But usually they do list the crimes that are being investigated. That's going to be very embarrassing for Mr. Trump if they're listed.

BOLDUAN: From a legal, I'm sure there is a wide range of possibilities here so just go with me, what would the reason be against releasing the warrant and the supporting documentation from the FBI search if you're someone's attorney?

CALLAN: Well, first of all, it's never done in federal practice. Defense attorneys don't even see these warrants until it's almost the time of trial, and they make a motion to suppress. And even then, they may not get all of the supporting materials. Prosecutors fight to keep these things out of the hands of the defense, because you might have an informant who's working undercover who supplied some of the information. It could be an employee at Mar-a-Lago who wants to remain out of this picture until the time of trial.

And also, you might be giving up other sources that you're going to talk to the judge about it. Now, for instance, if there was information about nuclear weapons here, there's going to be other classified material, so you wouldn't want to release it for that reason.

BOLDUAN: And Evan, you noted that the DOJ filing to unseal the warrant is signed, is telling in and of itself, it's signed by the chief of the counterintelligence section of the DOJ National Security Division. Can you talk to me more about what that tells you? And also, when it comes to, you spoke a little bit to the classification that your reporting has suggested this is about the special access program. What does that mean?

CALLAN: Well, these are again, usually the most closely guarded secrets. So even if you have top secret clearance, Kate, you need additional clearance to be able to get to these special programs, that again, they try to limit the number of people who even have access, obviously, the former president would have when he was president would have had access to this kind of information.

And Jay Bratt is the person who has been interacting with the Trump team. And here's why it's interesting. We know that some of the information that the government was concerned that was in these documents were was National -- I'm sorry, Defense Information, right, National Defense Information. And that's a special category of information. And it is a special statute, a specific statute that I think it's easier for the federal government to try to bring, it's very severe penalties if there is a case that is ever brought.


And the other context of this is that we know that Mar-a-Lago, let's just say has some very lacks procedures. We know that there's, you know, previous reporting of the former president waving around classified documents in a social setting. We know that there have been foreign nationals who have tried to get in there and have, you know, been prosecuted over this. So this is the big concern for the U.S. government that there's espionage, exposure, right, that there's a potential that Russian, Chinese, Iranians, somebody who should not have access to these kinds of things, or adversaries got access to it because they were at Mar-a-Lago.

BOLDUAN: And you raised something, the lack of security is really interesting. And Gloria, just a final note on that, I mean, the patio situation with the Japanese Prime Minister in 2017, is a perfect example. But how serious does this need to be to have any impact on kind of this knee jerk reaction we've seen from Republicans who so quickly jumped to his defense into it and to attack the investigators?

BORGER: Well, I think it needs to be serious. It is serious. And today you had the ranking Republican of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Turner say, you know, we want some more information on what this is about, because of course, these Republicans are out on a limb talking about the overreach of the Department of Justice. And now they may have to walk that back a little bit or a lot. So they are out there now saying, look, we need some more information on just what this was about.

This opens a whole sort of can of worms here. Why did the President want this information? Was it just carelessness? Was it recklessness? Was it done purposefully? We don't know. But it does help explain the actions of the government and the Department of Justice and why they felt this was so important and why after dealing with the Trump people, they felt they had to initiate a search. And we'll learn a little bit more about that today.

BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly. And we're going to learn more, at some point this afternoon. It's good to see you all. Thank you.

Coming up for us, Merrick Garland pushes back against attacks from Republicans over the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago. We're going to hear his forceful defense of the agency next.




GARLAND: I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked. The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated patriotic public servants. Every day, they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism, and other threats to their safety while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves.


BOLDUAN: Attorney General Merrick Garland there forcefully defending the FBI and Justice Department as the agency and its employees face intense criticism by Republicans over the search of former President Trump's home. Joining me right now is former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore and CNN law enforcement analyst Peter Licata. He's a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent. Thank you both for being here. Michael, there was this public debate if Garland would speak up and also if he should. And then after he did, what do you think of his message with us? MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I'm glad to be with you this morning. I was pleased to see him take the defense of the law enforcement officers. And the concern here is that the rhetoric has gotten so heated against police officers now especially. You worry about violence down the road. I mean, it was troubling, obviously, to see what happened in Cincinnati. And the concern is and the proof really is just to see how the rhetoric sparks people's violent tendencies. Think about January the 6th. I mean, you had people attacking the Capitol Police, treat them basically like enemy combatants.

I mean, the Capitol Police really guards the building. So now you worry that the rhetoric coming from Trump and from other Republican leaders will also amp up the tensions against law enforcement. But the problem is our norms have become so different. We don't we don't have the normal reaction of respecting law enforcement we see issues with veterans with some people that are surprising, alliances are shifting. We basically turn it into a circus.

So I don't know that we ought to be completely surprised when the clouds come out here. And that's what we're seeing. We fear the local law enforcement receiving, the repercussions of this type of attack on federal law enforcement. It's got to be the everyday officer on the street who encounters the nut jobs, who are upset with the system and who feel like because somebody has called out law enforcement, calling them corrupt, this type of thing that I worried that we're going to see other incidents down the road.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And Peter right after the search. I mean, you had some Republicans and people on the far right, just shouting about authoritarian state, planted evidence conspiracy theories, Trump declaring that, you know, they're not after me, they're actually after you. It has the former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and also former top FBI official Andy McCabe saying that we all need help. Let me play this for you.


ALBERTO GONZALES, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: We need leadership at the highest level, not only from the former president, but leaders in Congress. We need Republicans speaking out as well as Democrats against violence. We may have disagreements, but we can't have violence.

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: My question for our political leadership of both sides is where are you? It's bad enough that their own rhetoric is pushing some of these extremists in that direction. They should be out actively trying to tamp this down.


BOLDUAN: Peter, do you think at this point, it would help?


PETER LICATA, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It can't hurt, right? I mean violence against law enforcement as Michael said over the last few years has become unfortunately the norm, whether it's shootings, whether it's throwing Molotov cocktails at police cars during the time a few -- just a couple of years ago during civil unrest across the country, it's uncalled for. It's lawlessness at its finest, right? I mean, as an FBI office agent for 21 years, I started with integrity. That's what the I in FBI stands for, it's investigation, but we call it, it's the integrity portion of fidelity, bravery and integrity.

Twelve thousand agents are working every day doing the right thing, 35,000 employees in total, politicians need to be leaders, and they need to support the agents, not just the agents, but law enforcement as a whole that are out there protecting the public on a daily basis.

BOLDUAN: Gentlemen, hold on one second, because, Michael, you'd mentioned the Cincinnati situation, I want to get the very latest on that really scary situation at the FBI field office in Cincinnati that played out yesterday, an armed man trying to breach the office. CNN's Brynn Gingras, she has been tracking this for us. She joins me now. I mean, that man is now dead. But what more are you learning about what he wanted to do Brynn?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, what he wanted to do, it's still somewhat unclear. What we know he tried to do was get into that FBI, you know, field office there in Cincinnati with what we're told from sources, a nail gun and AR-15 style rifle, and wearing body armor and tried to breach that office. Of course, now we know that there was a long several hours standoff with federal, local, and state law enforcement and ended with that man dying.

He's now been identified as Ricky Shiffer. And listen, we have come across a user on Trust Social, which is the former president's social media platform, and it bears the same name as Ricky Shiffer. We're still trying to confirm if they're same account. However, there are a lot of similarities. And in it, it is just disturbing, the amount of details of this person's mindset, much of what those guys are just saying, Kate, about how there is just an attack on federal law enforcement.

Also, there's talk on those, that account by that user, you know, about how the election was stolen, all these sorts of lies that we have been hearing, build up, how this person was in Washington, D.C. on January 6th, and even highlighted, let's say they went up in fever there this week with that search of Mar-a-Lago, telling people to go to Florida and encounter FBI agents and bear arms. And if they come at you, kill them. So this is what we are seeing on this user's account. Again, we're still trying to verify if it's the same person, but disturbing nonetheless.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, much to be -- still more to learn. It's good to see you, Brynn, thank you so much for that.

So Michael, let me ask you, I mean Brynn lays out the details of what we know. But there's still obviously looking at these connections with this social media platform. I mean, do you see this as a direct consequence of the attacks on the FBI? MOORE: You know, I really do and probably not just from the attacks based on the Mar-a-Lago search, but really on attacks, on law enforcement in general. And the things that we've seen since January the 6th, you know, I'm not saying that January 6th, we tie everything that ever happens in the country to that. But I do think that it has become sort of the norm. And we've seen from the prior, the former president, really, he attacked anybody, whether it was a political opponent, whether it was a reporter, whether it was somebody with a disability, whether, I mean anybody that asked a tough question or took a different view, or investigated, he attacked.

Look -- and there is a time and a place and a court process to question whether or not a search warrant is valid. There is a time and place to question the affidavit and a search warrant. But you don't do it in the media. And you don't come out and encourage and make statements that might encourage violence against the people, the good men and women who are just trying to do their jobs as law enforcement officials.

I would like Garland or somebody, I mean, this to me is like we need the wider moment. We need somebody to come out and say, if you attack law enforcement, we're coming at you with both barrels loaded. And to me, that's the message that needs to come out because somebody has got to get us back to some sense of normalcy in our political discourse, in our legal discourse. And not again, it's not to say you can never question something, it's not to say that you would never have the opportunity to raise challenges to a search warrant or to question an investigation.

There is a process for that. There is a time and place for it. But it is not to see people come in with loaded AR-15 against civil servants who are just trying to do their job on a daily basis.

BOLDUAN: And Peter, it cannot be lost that the FBI is now once again caught in the center of an incredibly tense moment in this country, this investigation, and also headed right into another election cycle. How does the FBI get through this? I mean, how precarious is this moment?

LICATA: It's very curious, but for over 100 years since the Bureau of Investigation was established by John Edgar Hoover in 1908 to the formation of the FBI, as we know it today in 1909. Numerous administrations, right, numerous presidents associated with it. The FBI has been under attack and for some, and a lot of reasons for the right reason, OK. We're not above sin in 100 years of -- over 100 years of service, the FBI, like any organization has its scars. And we learned from those scars.


The FBI has always been attacked by both sides of the aisle through this entire 100 year period. But it's the agents that continue to do the work every day. We have to put -- agents have to put their heads down and not worry about that rhetoric and just have to go do their job and do the work that the American people are paying them and requesting them to do. The FBI leadership needs to also get out of the political fray. And then if these things like in the past end up in some type of review board, the FBI has always come out ahead, learn from their mistakes and will continue to move on and flourish to support and protect the American people.

BOLDUAN: Yes, quite a moment to have to put your head down and keep working at it, though. It's good to see Peter, thank you so much. Michael, thank you, as always, really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, the House is about to start debate on the Inflation Reduction Act with a final vote on this sweeping bill expected this afternoon, a live report from Capitol Hill next.