Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump Pleads Fifth, Declines To Answer Questions In New York AG Probe; Source: Pompeo Also Targeted Along With Bolton In Iranian Murder Plot; U.S. Inflation Slows From 40-Year Peak But Remains High; Trump's Hold On GOP Remains Strong After Tuesday's Primaries; China Says It Has "Successfully Completed" All Tasks In Military Exercises Near Taiwan. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 10, 2022 - 16:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: No one told him to walk over and console the pitcher, and added, I knew he was going to do something kind when he began walking toward the mound.


Inspired a whole lot of people with that game, and you're seeing the inspiration spread across the country.

I'm going to toss it over to THE LEAD with Jake Tapper. It starts right now.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Donald Trump usually has a lot to say, but not today.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The former president under oath, refusing to answer questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment right after years of mocking those who did just that.

And wanted by the FBI. The Justice Department reveals an Iranian man's dramatic plot to kill. The reported target: high level officials who worked under President Trump.

Plus, those rising prices still going up, but not as fast. Where you'll see the most savings as inflation rates start to cool.


BASH: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper.

We begin with our politics lead. Donald Trump today invoked his Fifth Amendment right in a deposition with a New York attorney general who is investigating the Trump Organization's finances. This deposition lasting more than five hours.

In a lengthy statement, the former president claims he had no choice, saying he's the target of an unfounded politically motivated witch hunt. This from the man who once asked if you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth? This is one of at least seven criminal, civil, and congressional

investigations Trump is facing. That includes the probe that led to the FBI search at his Mar-a-Lago home on Monday. That was died to the DOJ's investigation into the handling of classified documents.

CNN's Sara Murray has more on today's derailed deposition against the backdrop of the extraordinary legal jeopardy Trump faces.


REPORTER: What's your message to your supporters?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: As Donald Trump's legal woes mount --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: They want to put me in jail.

MURRAY: The former president leaving a New York deposition after pleading the Fifth, which he once said was a move for mobsters.

FORMER PRES. TRUMP: The mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?

MURRAY: Today, Trump changed his tune in a deposition led by Democrat New York Attorney General Letitia James' office, part of a three-year civil probe into whether the Trump Organization misled lenders, insurers and tax authorities by providing false financial tax statements.

TRUMP: For years they have been going after my company.

MURRAY: "I once asked. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" Trump said in a statement. Now I know the answer to that question.

He claimed everyone in his orbit was a target, adding if there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home Mar-a-Lago on Monday by the FBI just two days prior to this deposition, wiped out any uncertainty. I have absolutely no choice.

The deposition coming just days after Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence was searched. A source told CNN authorities came to suspect Trump's team was not being truthful, and may have been withholding sensitive documents that he allegedly took with him when he left the White House.

ERIC TRUMP, SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: My father has worked so collaboratively with them for months. All of a sudden, at no notice, they sent, you know, 20 cars and 30 agents?

MURRAY: The perilous week highlighting Trump's mountain of legal troubles.

FORMER PRES. TRUMP: I just want to find 11,780 votes.

MURRAY: In Georgia, Trump faces an investigation into whether his efforts to overturn the 2020 election there were criminal.

FANI WILLIS (D), FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We are going to look at everything until that investigation is complete.

MURRAY: And federal investigators are probing efforts to block the transfer of power in 2020, including Trump's attempts to try to stop the election certification and seat fake electors.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, Trump was still in that deposition today for more than five hours when he left, he posted on his Truth Social website and said it was very professional. He went on to say he has a great company with great assets. Of course, he was not willing to say these kinds of things under oath, Dana.

BASH: Sara, thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it.

And let's discuss. First, I want to go to Renato Mariotti.

So, Renato, you are a former federal prosecutor. Trump this week discuss -- famously said innocent people don't plead the Fifth, but in this situation, the New York attorney general has been pretty outspoken about wanting to take Trump down.

Do you blame the former president for doing a 180 here?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, I think he's making the right decision. I mean, I think regardless of her statements, I think it's fair to say that he's facing significant liability on multiple fronts. We know some former White House aides have been interviewed before the grand jury. We know that, of course, there is a recent search warrant executed at his Mar-a-Lago estate. There's a lot of reasons why he wouldn't want to be questioned under oath right now.

BASH: And, Josh Campbell, I'm going to turn to the Mar-a-Lago search by the FBI earlier this week. Why do you think the DOJ used a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago instead of a less intrusive method of getting these documents?


Investigators went to Mar-a-Lago in early June. Why do you, as a former FBI agent, think that they wouldn't have gotten what they needed in a less intense way?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, no, it's a great question. And the Department of Justice and FBI investigative guidelines actually state that authorities have to use the least intrusive method possible as they move up the scale to that more intrusive ways to gather information such as a search warrant, such as other types of legal process.

But in this case, investigators also have the ability to make a calculation, whether they think someone who is holding documents or other types of evidence is actually going to turn over in a fulsome way what authorities are looking for. I mean, there's a question whether documents will be destroyed or whether they'll be provided in totality, and so they can go to a court and say look, we have probable cause to believe that there's evidence of a crime we need to go and get. Another branch of government, the judicial branch, a judge has to sign off on it.

What is so interesting here based on CNN's reporting is in that June meeting, authorities met with Trump's lawyers, actually asked to see where these documents were located. And we have learned that obviously a search warrant was obtained. I would not be surprised to learn that the information they gleaned that they actually observed themselves actually went into this warrant in order to give them the opportunity to seize this information.

But again, authorities always have to calibrate how do we gather this information, is the person we're discussing truthful? Could this information be destroyed? Here it appears they went with the more intrusive method of actually getting that search warrant.

BASH: And, Renato, we are talking to Josh now, hearing him say according to CNN reporting, all of our information comes from either the former president himself or people who are willing to divulge even a little bit to try to help us put the pieces together. We haven't heard anything officially from the DOJ, and the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling on the attorney general, Merrick Garland, to explain why the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. He could do so or at least give a little bit of information if he wanted to.

Should he?

MARIOTTI: I don't think so. You know, Dana, usually the practice in an ongoing criminal investigation is for the DOJ to say very little. And there have been times when the Justice Department and the FBI have strayed from that. I think notably when James Comey made a number of statements during the Clinton investigation, and I think that turned out to not be a good decision for law enforcement there. I think that ended out turning out badly.

And I would counsel them to take the approach they're taking now, which is to be very careful and make very limited public statements.

BASH: Josh, I think I saw you winched when he mentioned what happened with James Comey. You are a former FBI agent. And your -- the bureau is really under attack from the former president and his allies, and it's happening in a really stark way.

What are you hearing from your former colleagues at the FBI about the impact it's having on them?

CAMPBELL: You know, it's so interesting. I have been reaching out to a number of FBI people, and the theme has been, oh, my gosh. Not again. This federal law enforcement agency now once again thrust into this political meat grinder, and what's so interesting is we have seen Donald Trump using the same playbook he used during the Mueller investigation, and that is to try to undermine the credibility and the institutions doing the investigation. And that's, as we have long known, because if he can convince a

certain segment of society that these people are corrupt, then whatever they end up coming up with, possibly won't be believed by his believers. So I see that playbook being dusted off now.

Again, a lot of questions for the FBI to answer here, as we just mentioned, this was a very intrusive, unprecedented action they took to get this information. So the Department of Justice has to come out and provide information. But I think the people that I talked to inside the FBI, they see another political freight train headed their way, the FBI once again in the middle of an upcoming election.

BASH: It's heading their way very, very quickly.

Renato Mariotti and Josh Campbell, rather, thank you both so much.

CAMPBELL: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: And we're just getting in new details about a rather dramatic murder plot. The Justice Department is accusing a member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps of trying to orchestrate the assassination of high level Trump officials. The elaborate allegations laid out in black and white next.

Plus, China's show of force once again deploying war planes near Taiwan. How leaders on the island are responding as China simulates an attack.



BASH: In the world lead, we're learning of another high level Trump official targeted in an elaborate assassination plot. The Justice Department first revealed Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton was a target and now a source tells the plot also involved Trump's secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

CNN's Kylie Atwood has the new details just coming in.

So, what are you learning?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, pretty remarkable here that not only national security adviser, then national security adviser John Bolton but also the former secretary of state was a target of an Iranian assassination plot. That's according to a source familiar with the investigation and a source close to Pompeo who said the former secretary of state was notified by the Department of Justice that he was also a target.

Now, in these documents that we read today out from Department of Justice, they reference a second plot that this Iranian was looking to carry out, offering $1 million for that plot. We don't know the details of the plot to try and also assassinate the former secretary of state. But what we do know is that the details of those to try to go after John Bolton. Here we are.


ATWOOD (voice-over): This is the man the FBI alleges tried to hire an assassin to kill former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, Shahram Poursafi, allegedly a member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The FBI says that in 2021, Poursafi tried to get an informant to hire someone for $200,000 in order to eliminate someone. That number grew to $300,000. Poursafi even sent screen shots of Bolton's home address and photographs of stacks of money to the informant.


Poursafi allegedly said the killing should happen in Bolton's office garage, with the informant noting it was a high traffic area.

MATT OLSEN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, NATIONAL SECURITY DIVISION: This was not an idle threat and this is not the first time we have uncovered brazen acts by Iran to exact revenge against individuals on U.S. soil.

ATWOOD: The FBI alleges that Iran wanted to kill Bolton in retaliation for the U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general the Trump administration said was planning attacks on Americans. Though Bolton was no longer in the administration when the air strike was carried out, he's long advocated for a more hawkish U.S. policy towards Iran.

After the Soleimani assassination, Bolton tweeted: Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qassem Soleimani. Hope this is a first step to regime change in Tehran.

PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: You have a regime in Iran that wants to prevent Americans from interfering in Iran and you have a target that Iran used as a big threat.

ATWOOD: And though not citing Iran specifically, Bolton even recently made comments about planning coups while working in government.

BOLTON: As somebody who has helped plan coup d'etat, not here, but you know, other places, it takes a lot of work.

ATWOOD: A source familiar with the matter explained that Bolton was made aware of threats against him in 2020. And he has had Secret Service protection since late 2021.


ATWOOD (on camera): Now, the White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said this afternoon that the Biden administration won't waver in protecting all Americans and said if Iran carried out any actions against any U.S. citizens, there would be severe consequences -- Dana.

BASH: I imagine.

Kylie, thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it.

And this note, be sure to tune in to "THE SITUATION ROOM." John Bolton will be Wolf Blitzer's guest. That begins at 5:00 Eastern here on CNN. Be sure to watch that.

And next here on THE LEAD, price hikes cooling off. What new numbers out today say about your spending and where you can save.



BASH: In our money lead, some positive news about inflation, although you might not be able to feel it quite yet. Prices for many goods are still up in July but, and that's from July a year ago, but not as much as they were in June. One bright spot is gas prices, well, again, they're still higher than this time last year, they're way down from the record high two month ago.

I want to bring in CNN's Rahel Solomon and Kaitlan Collins.

So, Rahel, first to you. Break down what is in the latest inflation report.


Yeah, so, a nice positive news in this inflation report, a positive expectation. We don't get to say that much these days. So, annualized inflation came in at 8.5 percent. That's a decline from 9.1 percent annualized figure we saw last month, which was a 41-year high, and core inflation held steady at 5.9 percent.

When we look under the hood, Dana, sort of what happened here in this report, the components, energy, as you pointed out, that declined 7.7 percent for the month. That sort of led to declines for gas, for airline fares. Food and shelter, however, continue to increase as it has been.

When you look sort of broader at where we're coming from, you can see inflation is still very high, but perhaps we have peaked. And that's sort of what we're seeing there, that 9.1 percent, maybe we have peaked. That's the hope here.

If you were at home watching this, however, thinking, what peak? This is why, because annualized, you're still seeing high prices for gasoline, 44 percent higher than it was a year ago. Food prices almost 11 percent higher. And shelter 5.7 percent higher.

BASH: Rahel, does this report tell us anything about avoiding a possible recession?

SOLOMON: Well, the market seems to think so. The stock market really soared today. And what's happening here is if in fact inflation has peaked which we won't know for sure for a few months, maybe the Fed can be a little less aggressive with rate hikes. And maybe they can achieve their goal that they have been trying to get all along, right?

Maybe they can cool consumer spending, cool consumer demand without crushing it, i.e., triggering a recession. That's the hope.

BASH: And, Kaitlan, what's the reaction from the White House?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, they take this as welcome news. They have been touting these numbers today including when President Biden was in front of reporters because this is a White House that has been on defense over inflation for the last several months, after initially insisting they thought it was going to be temporary, and of course it turned out not to be. And so, they're seeing this more as not really a victory lap but a step in the right direction, as President Biden said earlier.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: It underscores the kind of economy we have been building. We're seeing a stronger labor market, where jobs are booming and Americans are working. We're seeing some signs that inflation may be beginning to moderate. That's what happens when you build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out.


COLLINS: That's a key statement from President Biden there saying that he does believe this is a sign inflation may be beginning to moderate. Of course, back in December, he said he thought inflation had peaked then before the Russian invasion of Ukraine had happened.

Today, I also want to note he did take the opportunity to say this is why he believes that Congress needs to pass the Inflation Reduction Act. That passed the Senate earlier this week. It's expected to be taken up by the House later this week, Dana.

BASH: Kaitlan Collins, Rahel Solomon, thank you so much.

And joining me now is Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. He's the author of a just released book "America: A Redemption Story, Choosing Hope, Creating Unity."

Good to see you in person.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Hi, Dana. Good to be with you.

BASH: Thank you so much.

So, let's start with what you just heard about the economy.

SCOTT: Yeah.

BASH: Inflation cooled a bit in the last month.

SCOTT: A bit, 9.1 to 8.7.

BASH: But you tweeted that that's bad news. Why is that bad news? SCOTT: Well, because one of the reasons why the inflation is coming

down a little bit is because we saw the interest rates go up by 75 basis points, means that we're probably going to have another 75 basis points the next meeting and it also means the demand is coming down as well. The last two quarters combined together had negative growth, which ultimately means that when you look at the overall health of the economy, it's not as healthy as you would like it to be and we're still teetering on a recession.

So, for those people, median income $35,000 in this country, if you're under $35,000, paycheck to paycheck, you go to the gas station, it's really hard.

BASH: It's hard, but you kind of ended there with what I was going to follow up with, which is for people out there, people in South Carolina, it's about paying for food. It's about paying for gas right now.

And if the numbers are coming down for that, that's -- that's always a good thing, right? Can you concede that?

SCOTT: There's no doubt, 9.1 percent versus 8.7 percent, I'll take 8.7 percent. Less than 18 months ago, it was 2 percent. So, when we start celebrating the drop in inflationary effect in our economy, that's not bad news at all. But if it's caused because we're heading into a recession, that's really bad news.

BASH: You think that we are?

SCOTT: I think the last two quarters combined together, we had negative growth, that's not a good sign. So, we want to make sure we do those things that help our economy get healthier, and one of the things that we can do to get there is to spend less money from the government.

BASH: I want to ask a little bit about what happened in Florida on Monday.

SCOTT: Sure.

BASH: The search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. You have been one of those who has said, just hold on, let's not jump to conclusions.

A lot of your Republican colleagues have not been as cautious. Senator Ted Cruz is calling it corrupt and an abuse of power. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calls it weaponized politicization of the Justice Department, and the Twitter account of the House GOP Judiciary Committee says it happens in third world countries.

And, now, I don't know, I want to put this up. I'm not sure if you're aware of this. The judge who approved this search warrant is facing a surge of threats, particularly online, maybe more. His information on the federal court's website, it was taken down. Look at that, it says access denied, as a way to protect him.

Should your colleagues, your Republican colleagues tone down the rhetoric?

SCOTT: Well, Dana, I will say this is unprecedented. It's shocking. It is disturbing from my perspective.

What I said earlier, I think I was on another station, I said I'm asking my friends on the other side -- wait, don't rush to judgment. But this is without question a very daring and dangerous move on the Department of Justice's side. I can't imagine them finding a smoking gun in the midst of what they're looking for through the Presidential Records Act. I'm stunned that they did it.

BASH: You said the folks on the other side should hold off. It's the folks, some of the folks on your side, including and starting with the former president. He's the one who broke the news with a really incendiary statement. Should they tone it down? Because there's potential for things to go south quickly.

SCOTT: No question. I would say without any hesitation that every single member of our family, the American family, should be very concerned when you feel like there's a weaponization of the Department of Justice against any individual, much less a former president.

BASH: But what makes you think that's happening if a judge -- if it went through the proper process? There's -- I mean, you were -- there's a lot we don't know about this.

So why not give them the benefit of the doubt as opposed to putting incendiary comments out about not just the judge but also the FBI?

SCOTT: A few points. So back in February, we saw the negotiation with the Presidential Records Act looking at what should be kept and what should be given back, 14 or 15 boxes went back. In June, they had another negotiation.

So, what we see happening is this continuation of a negotiation, and that all of a sudden, you see 30 FBI agents raiding the president's residence. That does not make sense if the negotiation was continuing.

So, what we're seeing on the outside looking in is a drastic change of events, and one where I believe that your guy, Paul Callan, said this is daring and dangerous on the part of the Department of Justice. So I do find myself troubled by what's happening. And if it's only about the Presidential Record Act, that is a dangerous precedent to set going forward.

BASH: Do you think that the Department of Justice should be more forward leaning, forward facing, explain a little bit more about what happened?

SCOTT: The American people will benefit from having a lot of information presented as quickly as possible so that we understand and appreciate what's happening.

One of the things I do cover in my book, "America: A Redemption Story", is the importance of a justice system that is fair and equitable and applied to everyone the same way. Having been the receiver of the short end of the stick from a justice

perspective, it's so important for us to have great confidence in our justice system.


It's one of the reasons why last week, we had Christopher Wray before the Judiciary Committee because of the political activity in the FBI, ought not be.

BASH: You devote a whole chapter in your book to what happened on January 6th. You describe yourself as being hunted.


BASH: You reveal something that I didn't know, which is that in the Hart Building, where a lot of the senators were taken, there was a lot of heat there. A little chaos.

You wrote, I turned and surveyed the room and panic had set in. People were pointing fingers at one another, and then a senator yelled at the top of his lungs. Shut up, just shut up.

SCOTT: Yes. That's true. One of the things that happened under pressure, the chaos was high, as was the temperature. The thinking was low.

And one of the things I point out in the book is having people under tremendous pressure in the same room bickering and fighting with one another is never helpful for us.

BASH: They were blaming one another for the actual attack that happened.

SCOTT: Yes, without question. And so one of the things I did is I started a moment of prayer. And Chaplain Black came up and both sides the temperature went down, the thinking went up and we found a path to go out and finish our job.

BASH: Do you believe that former President Donald Trump was responsible in any way, shape, or form for that attack in which you call yourself and fellow senators hunted?

SCOTT: Yeah, I think I'm really clear in my book that I do put the blame on the people who came into the Capitol and made me feel like I was hunted. I put the blame squarely on their shoulders. One of the things I learned early in life is we have to take responsibility for our own actions. The faster we do, the better off we are.

BASH: So, you also say in your book about the former president, I'm very proud of what we accomplished, but they were a very difficult four years.

Donald Trump and his allies are previewing an announcement potentially soon of a run again. Do you want another difficult campaign in your words and a difficult four years? Should he run? SCOTT: Well, there's no doubt one of the things I celebrate in the

book, I tried to tell both sides of the story. I want the full ledger to be seen, while we had challenges, I can name several of them, there were really important points where we saw the country coming together. We have the most inclusive economy in the history of the economy, creating 7 million jobs, two-thirds go to African Americans, Hispanics and women.

He raised funding for historically Black colleges and universities --

BASH: Do you want the former president to run again?

SCOTT: -- to the highest level ever.

I want the same policy positions we had before that I believe --

BASH: Can somebody else do that and not somebody who makes things in your words difficult?

SCOTT: Well, I hope that we will find our way back to a place where we're talking about principles and not personalities. And that's one of the challenges that we have to embrace as a country together.

BASH: Before we go, I have to say, one of the many stories in your book that was really interesting is you taking your grandfather, who did not read or write, to vote.


BASH: And taking him into the booth so he could vote for Barack Obama.

SCOTT: Absolutely. Can you imagine a guy, African American born in 1921, lived long enough, 86 years old, and has a chance to see what he thought was unimaginable, an African American being elected to president.

My grandfather has shed tears two times in my life -- his wife of 56 years at her funeral, and voting for President Obama.

BASH: I'm assuming you did not vote for President Obama.

SCOTT: I did not vote for President Obama.

BASH: Just had to ask.

SCOTT: Dana, that's a good question, but easy answer.

BASH: Thank you -- thank you so much. Appreciate you sharing this book.

SCOTT: Absolutely, thanks for having me on, too.

BASH: And, again, Tim Scott of South Carolina is the author of this brand-new book. You see it on the screen. "American: A Redemption Story, Choosing Hope, Creating Unity." And with less than 90 days until the November election, what may have

just become one of the biggest motivators for voters at the polls. That's next.



BASH: Republican primary voters Tuesday unmistakably stood by Donald Trump. In Wisconsin, Tim Michels, Trump's chosen candidate for governor, beat his former vice president, Mike Pence's pick.

In Connecticut, Trump's last minute endorsement boosted her past state party's endorsed candidate.

I want to bring in our panel to discuss all of this.

And, Abby Phillip, I'm going to start with you. One Republican candidate who advises potential Trump 2024 rival told "Politico" that the primary results after the FBI search were, quote, unbelievable. It put everybody in the wagon for Trump again. It has taken the wind out of everybody's sails -- everybody meaning everybody who is not a Trump endorsed candidate.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and, Dana, you know this. The one thing that Trump has really consistently counted on is this kind of victimhood. He was the victim even when he won the last election. And it works really well for him. It works well for the base. And he's been pretty happy apparently by all accounts with what has happened in the last few days, which is even people who normally criticize him have been supportive. And that is going to have a real trickle effect down the ballot.

Now, the problem is Trump is very popular among Republicans, but he is still not so popular among the rest of the country. And I do think that this puts Republicans in such a tough spot. They cannot cross the base on this.

But are they actually better off when it comes to 2022 and how those candidates are going to fare in a general election? And then 2024 and how he might fare in the general election? I think that's really up for debate.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER & STRATEGIST: And if Republicans had been facing, say, an enthusiasm deficit heading into this midterm, something like this that really has fired up and angered Trump's base, continue could be a good thing, but that wasn't the Republican Party's problem. In fact, it's been the Democrats' problem up until at least the Dobbs decision that their side has been the one that hasn't been as enthused.


So, in this case, all this is really doing is taking the focus away from the issues that Republicans felt really had put the wind in their sails. Things like inflation, things like the economy, et cetera, and it has shifted it back to Trump's grievances, to things like Trump's victimhood, and that's just not --

BASH: Do you think that's bad for Republicans?

ANDERSON: I think it takes the narrative off of the issues that are best for Republicans in the midterms. We still have weeks to go. This could still evolve.


ANDERSON: I don't think Trump will be quiet, but certainly, the news cycle, it does feel like every day there's something new popping up. We don't know what next week will be. But I just think this shift isn't the best for Republicans.

BASH: Karen, I want to ask you about the Democrat, side of the aisle. Congressman Ilhan Omar, who's a member of the progressive squad, she survived, but it was surprisingly competitive, the primary she had in her home state of Minnesota. What does that tell you?

FINNEY: Well, actually, in that race, it was -- it seemed to be about a thing that was on the ballot locally, about whether or not the city council, about whether or not in her district to do away with the police department and replace it with a public safety. So it was a very personal and a very localized race.

But again, I mean, Kristen was just saying, Democratic primary voters are mobilized and we're continuing to see frankly general election Democratic voters mobilized by the Dobbs decision.

And I do think to the former conversation, when it comes to Trump, his presence, it is a real problem in a general election contest because you have got to -- any of these Republicans, not just if they're supporting Trump, but many of whom are big lie believers. They have been running on stop the steal. That is not a general election message if you're running statewide.

BASH: Well, on that note, Nicholas Wu, the former president met with a dozen lawmakers, who -- people you cover every day, members of the Republican study committee. The meeting was on the books before the FBI search.

Congressman Jim Banks told CNN the group encouraged Trump to announce his 2024 bid sooner rather than later, and said that Trump was fired up and the FBI search emboldened and unified Republicans.

What are you hearing?

NICHOLAS WU, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: What we're seeing right now at least from the house side is a lot of House Republicans rallying around the flag, around the former president, after this search of Mar-a-Lago. We saw the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy post on Facebook today that Republican lawmakers need to get out there and be loud about this investigation.

But the danger here is for Republicans, say, we do see more from this investigation. We do see more revealed about what was in these boxes at Mar-a-Lago. They might have gotten a little too far out here.

PHILLIP: I think this is the thing that is striking to me. Everyone seems to take just at face value this idea without evidence that the FBI overstepped. But what about the possibility that there's something significant there? That thought doesn't seem to be crossing the minds of a lot of Republicans right now, or perhaps they figure that it doesn't matter what it is.

Remember, when Trump said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. I think a lot of Republicans may be starting to buy into it at this point.

FINNEY: Again, I think it shows you how beholden everybody knows their Republican primary electorate is to Trump, to the stop the steal, to the big lie believers. That is mobilizing those primary voters.

And so aligning with Trump -- I mean, even Mitch McConnell kind of aligned himself with Trump. If I was working for a moderate Republican, I would say take this one. You want this one because this is an easy way to align yourself with Trump.

ANDERSON: I was going to say, exactly, in this moment, because of how little we know, on the one hand, your point that you could be too far out over your skis. We find out new information that makes it damaging.

On the other hand, because we don't know that much, calling for transparency, I in my decade and a half of doing focus groups, have never heard voters say gosh, I wish we had less transparency in government. It's a safe way, an easy way for someone to say, look, this is something we can all agree on. Shouldn't we have more transparency?

So, that's why I think you have seen some Republicans who are not necessarily the Trumpiest in the conference find themselves more aligned with Trump on this particular matter.

BASH: And let's just kind of take the conversation a step back. Let's focus on the current president. And my question is really about the current president and the fact that he has a lot of things to talk about, and he's been competing with the former president, I mean, it's not a lot to say that it is a big news story, understandably, when a form president's house is searched by the FBI.

WU: That's for sure. I mean, the president had all of these big wins lined up this week. He's signing major pieces of legislation. The House is set to pass a cornerstone of the Democrats' agenda, the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday.


But that is in many ways being overshadowed by the news right now. And so, we'll have to wait and see how this plays out.

FINNEY: I do think, though, this means Democrats can go home and they can tout it. And frankly, that's what voters care about. That's the danger in the Democratic primaries, voters want to hear what have you done for me, so it gives a nice big basket of things to talk about.

BASH: OK, guys, we have to leave it there. Thank you so much. Great conversation.

And up next, Taiwan on guard. The response from the island as China keeps sending war planes near its shores. A representative of Taiwan will join me right here in the studio.



BASH: China says it has, quote, successfully completed recent military drills around Taiwan, but China is also vowing more patrols moving forward, and just today, the Taiwanese defense ministry detected three dozen Chinese warplanes and ten vessels off its coast. Those exercises have been going on for more than a week around House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit.

Joining me now is Taiwan's representative to the U.S., Representative Bi-khim Hsiao.

Thank you so much for coming in.

Let's start with that. When you hear China say that, okay, we're done. But we might do more in the near future, when it comes to pretty intimidating drills around the Taiwan Island, what's your response?

BI-KHIM HSIAO, TAIWAN'S REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UNITED STATES: Well, actually, they have been -- the fighter jets have been intruding into our air space for some time already, way before Speaker Pelosi's visit. And the situation has certainly intensified over the past week. I think we remain vigilant, but we're not letting such intimidation affect our determination to go on with our lives in an environment where we cherish our democracy and the basic freedoms that we have.

BASH: You mentioned that, of course, this has been going on, but it did ratchet up in a big way when the House speaker was there. The Chinese called her visit irresponsible, provocative, and dangerous. She vehemently defended the trip and she promised that the U.S. won't allow China to isolate Taiwan.

But when you consider what you have seen over the past week around that visit, do you stand by and does the government stand by the move to invite her and have her there?

HSIAO: Yes, well, you just quoted the words irresponsible, provocative, and dangerous. And I think these are words that apply to the actions of China over the past week.

I think the people of Taiwan will continue to welcome international friends who are in Taiwan to extend their support and help in terms of supporting Taiwan's international space and Taiwan's survival. I think China's behavior is reflective of a typical abuser in society,

claiming ownership of Taiwan and trying to intimidate us from making friends, and they're also trying to threaten friends from visiting us. We can't let this become a regular pattern. And the people of Taiwan deserve to, as we are a force for good in the region, we feel we deserve to live the kind of life that we have fought hard to build in a free and open society.

We deserve to have the opportunity to welcome friends who want to be there to support us.

BASH: I want to read you something that an official at the Chinese embassy in the U.S. said last week. Taiwan is one of the very few issues that might take China and the United States to conflict, or even a war. So, extra caution and a sense of responsibility are indispensable when it comes to Taiwan. It's pretty strong language.

HSIAO: Well, I think it is important that we all recognize that the provocations and actions of China are destabilizing for the region. Taiwan has been extremely responsible. We are not joining the Chinese saber-rattling, provocative action.

We simply want to continue living our lives. We want to continue breathing the air of freedom. We want to engage with the world. And that is what we will resolutely do in terms of defending our way of life and continuing to build our own prosperity, as well as contribute as a responsible party in the region to regional peace.

BASH: Briefly, if you get to the point where there is an attack by China, a real one, an aggressive one, do you expect -- does the Taiwanese government expect the U.S. to come to its defense? If so, how?

HSIAO: Well, that's a hypothetical scenario. We have a very strong partnership with the United States. That is codified in the Taiwan Relations Act and the six assurances. We will continue to build and strengthen that partnership to deter any military action, and so that that kind of tragedy will never have to happen on our island.

BASH: Thank you so much, Representative. I appreciate it.

HSIAO: Thank you.

BASH: And once again, it seems like the Jetsons knew what they were doing. The action just taken to make flying taxis more of a reality. That's next.



BASH: In our tech lead, imagine going from your house to the airport in minutes, bypassing smog and traffic and everything that you have to do right now. And we're not talking about a jet pack or even time travel. We're actually talking electric flying taxis. And that hassle- free low emission ride may be closer than you think. Today, Archer Aviation landed a $10 million deposit of 100 of their

futuristic aircraft, and the buyer aviation giant United Airlines. Now, Archer CEO says the investment is a, quote, great signal of confidence and a road map to commercialization. The company says their planes can take off and land vertically, like a helicopter, which is ideal for congested cities.

Thanks so much for watching. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to THE LEAD wherever you get your podcasts. And a reminder, former President Trump's national security John Bolton will be a guest on "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer which starts right now.