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AG Garland: DOJ Files Motion To Unseal Search Warrant Of Trump's Home; New Evidence Inflation May Be Easing As Prices Drop In Key Indicator; Sources: Suspect Who Tried To Breach Ohio FBI Office Armed With Assault-Style Rifle, Nail Gun; At Least 9 Trump Cabinet Officials Have Engaged With Jan. 6 Probe. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 11, 2022 - 16:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: The attorney general himself approved the decision to get a search warrant for Donald Trump's property.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Trump has yet to release the warrant, and list of property seized from Mar-a-Lago. So now, the Department of Justice is asking the courts to unseal the documents.

Then, a standoff between law enforcement and a gunman armed with an AR-15 style rifle and a nail gun, who tried to get into an FBI field office. What we know about the suspect.

Plus, the good news about the economy that will be a welcome relief to Americans everywhere. But will it last?

Hello and welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Dana Bash in for Jake Tapper.

We begin this hour with major new developments in our politics lead.

Just a short time ago, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department filed a request to unseal the search warrant for the former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. The DOJ's first public comments since that unprecedented search on Monday.

Garland also said he personally approved the decision to seek the search warrant, and that the department does not take this kind of move lightly. He also defended his colleagues against what he called unfounded attacks.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: 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.


BASH: Garland's appearance today comes amid a flood of other new details. Sources tell CNN that federal investigators previously served a grand jury subpoena in June at Mar-a-Lago and took away sensitive national security documents on site during that meeting. That grand jury subpoena came months after Trump handed over 15 boxes to the National Archives in January. That's according to a source.

Let's bring in CNN's Evan Perez, Kaitlan Collins and Kristen Holmes.

And, Evan, I want to start with you at the Justice Department. What can we expect to see from this search warrant, anything that your sources are giving you any hints on?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, we are expecting that we're going to see the warrant and the receipt for property. This is -- this is a document that's going to describe generally, we're not going to get a lot of chapter and verse, we're not going to see a lot of details what this investigation is about. But it is going to give us a sense of the type of things that they were -- that they retrieved from the Trump property, and the season why they took this extraordinary step.

I think one of the highlights or one of the things we should highlight from what the attorney general said in this really extraordinary statement that he made at the Justice Department here today, is that they did not do this as a first recourse. He said that this was done, that they looked at doing less intrusive means before they took this step.

I think that's one of the most important parts of this, because there's been a lot of claims made by the former president, by his allies, by his lawyers, suggesting that they were completely shocked that this was a completely unnecessary step by the FBI.

What the attorney general was hinting at, without saying in many more details was, look, we got here because we took all of these additional steps, some of the steps that you outlined just at the top of your open there, including the fact that they had served an earlier subpoena. Again, less intrusive steps before they took this extraordinary step, Dana.

BASH: And, Kaitlan, what is the White House saying, if anything?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they made clear they did not know the attorney general was going to be speaking today in that remarkable appearance, where he commented on this relatively unprecedented move by the FBI to have this search warrant executed on a former president's property as they did on Monday. They say they did not have a heads up about that, just like they didn't have a heads up about the actual search warrant itself, which the White House confirmed, you know, that President Biden, nor anyone who works on the West Wing knew about that in advance of when that search happened on Monday, of course, we knew extended for several hours.

Two things that really stood out from what Attorney General Garland also said in addition to Evan's reporting is that he personally approved this measure. That was the hunch given, of course, this is such a sensitive and delicate topic. And he said, yes, he doesn't take that lightly but he did approve going and pursuing this search warrant. And he also noted that Trump himself was the one who confirmed this search happened at Mar-a-Lago on Monday.


It wasn't the Justice Department or any of the other officials. It was Trump in his own words who put out that lengthy statement on Monday night. And, o course, now with this move by the attorney general today, it is up to Trump to respond, of course, whether or not he wants to object to this. That is what is clear in the motion to unseal the search warrant is that Trump can now respond, and we've asked his spokespeople and his attorneys how they plan to navigate this. They have not responded yet, Dana.

BASH: And, Kristen, we learned today that investigators served a grand jury subpoena at Mar-a-Lago in June. That means Trump turned over documents in January and in June, but the DOJ still came to suspect more was stashed away there at Mar-a-Lago.


And this is because of evidence they develop, including an interview with at least one witness. They believe there were classified documents still at Mar-a-Lago, despite all of those boxes being turned over. And as was previously recorded, authorities thought these documents had national security implications.

Again, this all being based on the evidence they developed, including an interview with at least one witness. Now, what this does, this subpoena, this information, it gives us a clear timeline of what exactly unfolded, leading up to Monday's raid. We know that back in January, the Trump team handed over about 15 boxes of documents to the National Archives.

Then we know after that, the investigation started ramping up and they started to question Mar-a-Lago aides. In June, the FBI issues the subpoena and they visit Mar-a-Lago, and they are shown where the documents are, and they leave with sensitive information, with sensitive documents. They also called back after that and told them to put a padlock on the door where the documents are kept.

Then, in August, the FBI executes a warrant at Mar-a-Lago, a search warrant. The other thing I want to note, one of the things that had been discussed, how did we go from cooperation, which is what we were hearing from the Trump team, to this search on Monday? And the subpoena shows that this had escalated before Monday's search -- Dana.

BASH: OK, thanks to you one and all.

Joining me now to discuss all this is Donald Ayer, former deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush.

Thank you so much for joining me.

You have been calling for the search warrant to be released. You said the standard and the concern is just to get this right, and that is sky high.

You watched the attorney general today. Did he handle it properly?

DONALD AYER, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, I think he handled it perfectly. I want to just correct, I didn't call for anything to happen. But some others have, certainly.

But no, I think the attorney general did a perfect job of dealing with the dilemma that he's in. The normal practice in any investigation is that the department doesn't make statements about it. And today, he appeared for just a very too minutes, and he laid out the steps that were taken. I think he gave a good level of comfort to people who have wondered how it works.

He's the person who ultimately made the decision. It was -- it was sort of a last resort kind of a thing. It was a step that was taken. He defended the integrity of the FBI against the scurrilous comments that people have made.

And ultimately, you know, at the beginning, the ultimate decision they made was to file a motion to disclose it, because they did not have a further reason to keep any of it secret. In other words, there was nothing in the affidavit that would have disclosed information, critical, and needed to be kept confidential.

So, I think he did a superb job without going out and doing what Bill Barr did in connection with the Durham investigation, which was telling the public, totally inappropriately about what they had found.

He's simply saying, yes, we have no reason to keep this quiet. We made a motion to disclose it. Now it's up to Donald Trump and his lawyers to see whether they want to respond and say, okay, or whether they want to say no, don't do it for some reason.

BASH: So assuming that it is unsealed, the search warrant is unsealed. For those who are not familiar with what is in a search warrant, how detailed it will be, can you shed some light on that generally speaking?

AYER: Well, there are three -- there are three parts of what I think will be disclosed. Normally, what's involved, there is the warrant itself, which is the order that it's issued to conduct the search. But it's based upon an affidavit and the affidavit can be quite long or relatively short. But it lays out the facts that provide the probable cause, and it's going to tell, presumably, a story of how they got to the place and why a judge should, and this one did, find probable cause to conduct the search.

So that's maybe going to be the most interesting part. But then the other interesting part is going to be the inventory or the return they call it, on the warrant. That's essentially the list of what they found and took away.


And these materials, at least the first and the last, were left with Donald Trump. I'm not sure whether the affidavit was. So that's what the documents should be. And I think people will find it very interesting if, in fact, they are

ultimately disclosed.

BASH: Sources tell CNN that the FBI search on Monday of Mar-a-Lago was partly engineered to avoid a spectacle. The former president was in New York, agents showed up at 10:00 a.m., wearing plain clothes. They weren't there at the crack of dawn. They didn't don the FBI logo jackets that we usually see in searches.

Was that appropriate? And as you answer that, can you talk about -- I know things are quite different when it comes to rhetoric these days in the GOP than it was when you were attorney general, but in a perfect world, will what we see and the reality of what happened kind of calm the criticism in the GOP of how they handled this, how the FBI handled this?

AYERS: Well, I think, you know, there's a limit. In the charged world that we live in now, you know, there's a lot of things that people do and say involving things that aren't true at all, and trying to influence others to believe things that aren't true at all. So it's very hard to say what's going to calm people who have those motivations.

The one thing I would say, though, is that what the attorney general did today, in a very short space of time, and in a pretty limited number of words, he laid out for any reasonable person a description of what drove them to this, how they reached the decision, the fact that the buck stops with him, and that they are perfectly happy to have all of these documents surrounding this, the documents on which this rests. They are perfectly happy to have them made public, because they don't have a reason in connection with their investigation for them not to be made public.

So I think it ought -- it ought to satisfy pretty much everybody who is reasonable that the department is doing exactly what we should all want it to do. And it's trier very good hard to do it in a way that's respective of everyone's rights, including Donald Trump's rights.

They're not out giving speeches about what Donald Trump did. If Donald Trump wants this story to be out there, it will be out there through this affidavit. But it's up to him to file a response.

BASH: Yeah. Well, he wants it out there, but he wants it out there with his -- the way he describes it.

On the former president, when you consider all the legal trouble facing him right now, and the fact that he wants to be president again, where do you think this could be headed? Put your head in the space that it could be -- could have been when you were DAG, as they call it, deputy attorney general.

AYER: Well, the ultimate judgment call about whether you do or you don't file charges, and what charges you file has got to be made by the department and by the prosecutors who have to essentially say, yes, we think we have a case that we could prove. We have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, and we think we could prevail. The hearings in the house have been extraordinary, as everybody I think would agree, and then provided an unbelievable quantity of evidence of Donald Trump's personal involvement in multiple layers of a complicated effort to overturn the election.

The overturning of the election, you know, you might say it's perhaps about the most serious crime anyone could commit against our nation. And you've got a situation where people are plotting to do that again. We know stories of things happening all over the country in order to put people in a position so that they can cheat and not count the votes correctly.

So the need for deterrence is enormous. Now we have a huge amount of evidence of Donald Trump's personal involvement, his personal culpability. So I have expressed the view that if they can come up with the evidence that's admissible in court, not hearsay evidence, it's got to be evidence where witnesses will appear and testify in court, and documents that are admissible.

Then it's -- it's likely appropriate from what we know that Donald Trump would be prosecuted, and I would think, you know, optimally prosecuted for what he did so offensive to the country, and that is trying to steal the election.

BASH: Former deputy attorney general, Don Ayer, thank you so much. Appreciate your insights.

AYER: Thank you.

BASH: Much more ahead on the Trump investigation. Will Attorney General Garland's public statement actually tamp down on criticism about the search?

Then, the latest on a standoff in Ohio with a gunman who tried to break into an FBI field office.



BASH: We're back with major developments concerning the FBI's search of president Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. Attorney General Merrick Garland this afternoon said he personally approved the search warrant and is now requested that it be unsealed.

Let's discuss. I want to go first to Peter Strzok, former FBI agent.

You watch Garland's appearance. We all did. It came amid a lot of frustration from within the department, the DOJ, and the FBI, that this silence was hurting law enforcement.

Are things better now? Did he do a good enough job to defend the department and quell the criticism?

PETER STRZOK, FORMER FBI CHIEF OF THE COUNTERESPIONAGE SECTION: Well, I think he did what he thought was appropriate within the constraints to how DOJ has to operate. I mean, he said very clearly in his speech that he was doing things as the department rules and regulations requires, that he couldn't comment, but out of the public interest in this case, that he was going to move to unseal the warrant and the attachments A and B, which are a list of the places to be searched, as well as the list of items to be seized.


And then, finally, the last item to unseal the property receipt, the list of items that were seized. So, he was straightforward I thought in what he could do. I thought he did it in the traditions of the department and he very cleanly put the ball back in Trump's court.

And so, now, Trump will have an opportunity to respond, which is noted in the motion, and we'll see what he decides to do in response.

BASH: Well, on that note, we have new information about that. Renato Mariotti, I put this to you, a federal court in Florida instructed the DOJ to confer with Trump about unsealing the warrant, and they have to let the court know the decision by tomorrow at 3:00 p.m.

What do you make of that?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think the judge wants to clear this up in short order, does not want this to drag on or have a lot of speculation or attention. So, I think that's smart. This way, a court is essentially ordering the parties to determine their position.

And as Peter said a moment ago, this puts the ball in Trump's court given that he already had these items and he's had some time to consider this.

BASH: And, former Congresswoman Love, you have seen and heard a lot of your former colleagues you served with on the Hill, Republicans, really, really strong in their criticism of the DOJ, of the FBI, without knowing the facts about what was in the search warrant and what precipitated this.

Do you believe that what we heard from Merrick Garland is going to change that?

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I just -- I don't. I couldn't understand, Dana, why some of the former colleagues who were taking political stance and making definitive statements so early on without having concrete evidence. I always said to myself, when I was -- when I was a member, instant certainty is the enemy of truth. What I meant by that is that any time a member of Congress makes a comment, they're not looking for information at that point, they're looking for whatever they can to defend whatever statements that they have already made.

And do I believe that Merrick did the right thing by getting out there and getting in front? I do believe he -- he needed to make a statement. Do I think it's enough? I think it would have been better to have Director Wray out there with him. There's so much distrust in our institutions, and this is not just the

GOP, this is countrywide. We need to have some level of trust in our institutions or this will continue to go on. It's not good for Americans.

BASH: And, Renato, how common is it -- take a step back, let's say that the parties agree and they unseal this search warrant. How common is it to do that?

MARIOTTI: It's very uncommon. I will tell you, I frequently now that I've been in private practice, I frequently represents clients who have cases with search warrants, and I don't receive those -- I receive the search warrants myself but nothing is unsealed until after the charges.

So, this is very, very unusual and I think it shows that the department is considering the intense public interest, and frankly, the smears and the attacks that have been levied against it in its silence.

BASH: And, Peter, we should note that you are currently litigating a lawsuit, challenging your firing from the FBI in 2018. You argue that you were terminated because of political pressure from President Trump. I'm sure you heard there are people arguing that some of the content of the text messages that you sent talking about Donald Trump, that that feeds and fuels the idea that the bureau is politicized.

This is a very, very different situation that we're in, but given that reality, what are you thinking when you hear Mia Love's former colleagues talk about law enforcement and DOJ and the FBI being politicized?

STRZOK: Well, I certainly was a target of a lot of that vitriol. And the fact of the matter is Trump's attacks on the government, but in particular the FBI, remember, those began prior to the election, in the summer of 2016. He was calling the FBI corrupt for their handling of former Secretary Clinton's emails. That continued in his criticism of Jim Comey, Director Comey, who he fired and transferred to criticism of Andy McCabe, who he fired, transferred to me, who was fired.

And so, then, you saw this constant attack that wasn't limited to the FBI, but then extended to all these folks across the administration from Alex Vindman, to Fiona Hill, to Masha Yovanovitch. There just was a constant stream of attack by the president, and it can't help but create among certain groups within the United States a question about whether or not the government is, in fact, neutral.

I can tell you, and anyone of those folks can tell you that, in fact, it is. That's why I was so glad to see Attorney General Garland up there at the podium saying the buck stops with me. I approved this. This is, at the end of the day, the way the department does it.


We did it in a measured way. We didn't charge into a search warrant. We tried lesser techniques first, and I think he's trying to be as transparent as regulations allow him to try and push back on this nonsense that we have heard from Trump and his enablers for five years now, trying to undermine that the U.S. government is, in fact, a decent, honorable, objective group of civil servants trying to do their job and do it well.

BASH: Thank you all. Appreciate your discussion, your insight, and information. Thank you.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

STRZOK: Thank you.

BASH: And, finally, gas prices are dropping below $4 a gallon, just in time for the end of summer driving season. But what's going to happen next? Are they going to keep falling? We're going to talk about that after a short break.



BASH: The money lead: a banner day on deck for President Biden tomorrow. House Democrats are expected to push through a sweeping climate, health care, and tax bill after Senate Democrats did the same last Sunday.

Also today, even more evidence of the sharp spikes in rising prices, maybe easing up a bit.

I want to bring in CNN's Rahel Solomon.

So, Rahel, let's start with today's report from the supplier side of inflation going down. Why the drop?

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I mean, simply, energy prices, right? We've seen it in the consumer index report, we talked about it. The energy prices being felt there.

And this report, the producer price index report is inflation from the perspective of suppliers, from the perspective of companies. Month over month inflation went down half a percent.

Now, over the last year, however, prices are still elevated 9.8 percent, almost 10 percent. But, Dana, the reason why this report matters is because it gives us a sense of what we're going to see a few months down the road, right?

I mean, let's take energy, for example. If companies suddenly have lower energy costs, transportation costs -- well, the hope is that a few months down the road, they can pass on those cost-savings to us consumers. So it gives us a sense of what is down the road. So to see declines like that smell optimism about what is ahead.

BASH: And, Rahel, the White House is out with a new memo today touting President Biden's economic accomplishments. It's a pretty long list, nearly 10 million new jobs; unemployment at 3.5 percent. But there's a point that got our attention. Inflation at zero percent in July.

Yeah, okay. Maybe. But that's not really accurate when it comes to the hard numbers. Talk about that with regard to what the real inflation numbers are.

SOLOMON: Right. So, overall inflation did level out, right, at zero. However, when you look at the categories of what still rose last month, energy prices fell. But what still rose was food prices, shelter prices. And look at how many -- if you're watching this thinking I'm not seeing lower inflation, this is probably why.

Gasoline prices are still higher by 44 percent compared to a year ago. Food prices almost 11 percent. Shelter 5.7 percent. Dana, however, the hope is now that we're starting to see this in the data and see this in the reports, that maybe in a few months, if we continue to see reports like this, people at home will feel that in a more meaningful way.

BASH: Rahel Solomon, thank you.

Joining me now is senior White House adviser Anita Dunn.

Anita, thank you so much for joining me. I want to get to the economy in a second. But, first, you heard the attorney general come out and say that he personally approved the search warrant from Mar-a-Lago.

Did the president or anyone in the White House know about that?

ANITA DUNN, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Dana, when the president ran, he made it very clear that he would have an independent Department of Justice, that he felt that was something the American people need to have confidence in, that politics doesn't run the Department of Justice, the attorney general does.

This is an independent investigation. Of course, no one at the White House has been involved in it.

BASH: Let's turn to the economy. You have a memo that we talked about, and in the memo, one of the things that was striking is that you say inflation for July was 0.0 percent. But you know inflation for July was not 0.0 percent. It was north of 8 percent.

So why say 0.0 percent when -- your goal here is to, I know, walk the line and say we feel your pain, but it's getting better. But is that a little much to suggest that it's nothing, inflation?

DUNN: Well, I think what was clear and what the memo certainly made clear is that there is still inflation in this country. And, obviously, the president has made bringing costs down one of the priorities that he stated clearly throughout this year. And that he's been working on, and that the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which the House is poised to pass tomorrow, is precisely geared to do just that. It will lower prescription drug costs for seniors, lower health

insurance for millions of people across the country. It will lower energy costs by offering rebates on energy efficient appliances and providing the clean energy of the future that will make us more energy independent, and will be less expensive.

So I think that, Dana, when you look at -- when you look at this, that was talking about a month-to-month change.


And, obviously, that lowering costs, addressing inflation, bringing down gas prices, which today are below $4 average across the country for the first time in months, these are priorities the president said make a difference for middle class, working class families in this country. That's who he is fighting for.

BASH: This is a memo outlining a message that you clearly want to amplify. You're doing that here. How are you going to sell it more broadly? I don't need to tell you there is frustration with some Democrats on the ballot, that the White House hasn't used its mega phone enough to tout Democratic achievements.

DUNN: I think what you will be seeing when the president comes back, will be an aggressive effort, yes, on the part of the White House and working closely with governors, mayors, to make sure the American people understand the benefits of the four significant economic packages that this president has passed in a mere 18 months of his presidency -- from the rescue plan, which got vaccines in people's arms and stopped the hemorrhages of jobs in this country, to the bipartisan infrastructure plan, which is remaking roads, bridges, and bringing low-cost Internet to millions of people, to the CHIPS Act, which is going to be competition in the future, make us competitive and make sure that manufacturing is right here in America, and finally this Inflation Act. Will be out there -- Democrats will be out there en masse selling the benefits of these programs.

BASH: There is another thing that the president could do to help inflation and the economy, and that is lifting the Trump era China tariffs which he's been talking about doing for months. Why is it taking so long for him to make a decision? Has he changed his mind?

DUNN: Dana, when the president makes a decision and is ready to announce it, he will announce it. But there are significant other things that he has been doing and will continue to do that have brought costs down for the American people.

BASH: And on the China situation, the tariffs in particular, is the fallout from the house speaker's trip to Taiwan weighing in, is it factoring into his decision on whether to change the tariff situation with regard to China?

DUNN: Dana, a couple of points on that. The first is as the White House has made clear, that's -- Congress is a co-equal branch of government and clearly, the speaker's trip to Taiwan is something she could make her own decision on. But no, it's not at all connected. What is true is -- and I'm not

going to get ahead of the president on this announcement, obviously. But when he's ready to make an announcement, he will clearly tell the American people who he has decided and why.

BASH: Anita Dunn from the White House, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

DUNN: Thank you, Dana. Thanks for having me.

BASH: Coming up, new CNN reporting about the former Trump cabinet members who are now talking to the January 6th committee.



BASH: A standoff in Ohio after a man armed with an assault-style weapon and nail gun tried to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati this morning. The suspect then fled the building, leading Ohio state troopers in a highway pursuit.

CNN's Brynn Gingras has been tracking the developments.

Brynn, where does the situation stand now, has the suspect been caught?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Dana, the latest we know, it's still an active situation in that area of Ohio, which is dead smack between Cincinnati and Columbus. We know that it's a tense situation. I've learned from sources that FBI negotiators are on the scene, as well as SWAT, in addition to local and state authorities.

We did get an update a few hours ago from the state police saying that after this person tried to breach that FBI field office in Cincinnati with, like you said, a nail gun, according to a source and AR-15 style rifle, they took off. And in a car, that car was spotted by a state police patrolman who tried to stop that person and gunfire was engaged between the two. Then we have had a standoff for several hours now.

We learned from sources, Dana, that police do know who this person is. That relationship, whether they knew them before or just identified that person is still unclear. But certainly we'll get more information when they are brought into custody at that point. That has not happened yet.

So, we're still trying to learn about what was going on, what was the motive here, was it tied to anything bigger or just someone who had some personal vendetta with the FBI. But, of course, we'll keep you updated. This is an ongoing situation in Ohio going on for several hours today -- Dana.

BASH: Brynn, thank you so much.

And back in our politics lead, CNN is learning Elaine Chao, Donald Trump's transportation secretary and Senator Mitch McConnell's wife, has already been interviewed by the January 6th Committee. Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is in talks with the committee. Both resigned after January 6th.

I want to bring in CNN's Sara Murray.

So, Sara, you're hearing another high-up Trump official is also in talks in the committee.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Sources have told us that Robert O'Brien, who is Trump's former national security adviser, is also in talks with the committee. Look, this is significant because it shows you the committee is still working behind the scenes to talk to or try to bring in new very high profile witnesses.

It also tells you how important they think the discussions of the 25th Amendment were. We know that Betsy DeVos and Elaine Chao both resigned on January 7th. Before they tended their resignation, they were having conversations across the administration about whether they could use the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump from office.

And Betsy DeVos even talked to "USA Today" about this how it would not be successful and ultimately resigned.


BASH: And they're just two of nine cabinet level officials who have engaged with the committee. You mentioned Robert O'Brien, who is not a cabinet level official, but there are others they want to talk to.

MURRAY: That's right. And there are others, you know, that they have talked to. Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state, was in there just this week. They've also talked to Steve Mnuchin, the former treasury secretary. Eugene Scalia, who was the former labor secretary and also talked to the committee about how he told Donald Trump that he should concede after the elections.

So, they've had a number of big names. You know, John Ratcliffe is the former director of national intelligence, is still in talks and dealing with sensitive, classified information. So those are negotiations that they have to work through. But they heard from a number of high level cabinet officials and with others, talks are still ongoing -- Dana.

BASH: It's so interesting. They're clearly trying to piece together how far the discussions into the 25th Amendment went, not just talking about for the past but about what it means for a potential Trump candidacy in the future.

MURRAY: Absolutely, and how deep seated these concerns were as people watched these events play out and wondering, you know, what can we do from our positions within this administration.

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

Up next, extremist violence and mass shootings in America. CNN is pressing the new man put in charge to help bring down the numbers.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: What is your message for parents out there who might be concerned about their kids going back to school in this era of gun violence?


BASH: His answer to that question is next.



BASH: In our national lead, for the first time in seven years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has a permanent boss. Steve Dettelbach takes command after a string of recent mass shootings that shocked the nation, leading for calls to address gun violence in America.

He recently sat down with CNN's Josh Campbell.


STEVE DETTELBACH, DIRECTOR, ATF: We can never accept that this is just part of our nation. It is not.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The problem, a wave of deadly mass shootings.

DETTELBACH: Violent crime has been increasing over the past several years. Mass shootings are increasing. Violent extremist incidents are increasing.

CAMPBELL: After seven years without a permanent boss, Steve Dettelbach is the ATF's new director. He sat down with CNN to discuss the litany of threats his agents are trying to counter from coast to coast, including a rise in violent domestic extremism.

DETTELBACH: I think the first thing we need to do is to be honest about the fact that we have a problem. But I will tell you, it's gotten more bold, more brazen, and more violent.

CAMPBELL: And for Director Dettelbach, countering anti-religious violence is personal.

DETTELBACH: For too long, and I say this as somebody who has dealt with a lot of victims and hate crimes, somebody who is Jewish-American and raising Jewish children in this country, for too long, I think it was too easy for us to write off some of the rhetoric going on as kind of harmless, crazy rhetoric, until it wasn't anymore.

CAMPBELL: One of his challenges, guns in the hands of criminals, devastating communities and schools.

What is your message for parents who might be concerned about their kids going back to school in this era of gun violence?

DETTELBACH: There's nothing that a dad or a leader of a law enforcement agency can say to those families, except that we're going to be doing our best at ATF 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to try and help solve this problem. And we're never going to make it go away. But if we can turn it around, every single one is a win for our country and for ATF.

CAMPBELL: But Dettelbach says, when it comes to identifying warning signs of potential shooters, the ATF and its law enforcement partners can't do this work alone.

DETTELBACH: If you see something, say something. It's always easier not to be involved. And I get that. We all have things going on in our lives. But I want people to ask themselves this question, if they don't get involved and God forbid something horrible happens to one of their neighbors or people that they know, you know, how are people going to feel?

CAMPBELL: And the sad reality is that there are Americans going about their day right now who may not be alive when this interview airs. Does this feel to you like this is an endless race against time to try to stop the next shooting?

DETTELBACH: One hundred and nine people in this country every day die from gun violence. And that is something that sticks with all of us, and it certainly sticks with me all the time. You can call it an endless race to try and save people. You can call it the pounding, the pounding of that in my head -- in our heads all the time. So do I feel pressure? Yeah, I feel pressure.


CAMPBELL: And, Dana, Director Dettelbach told me that he may be the new leader of this organization, but the over 5,000 ATF employees he works with around the country are feeling that same pressure, to try to stop the trafficking of illegal weapons to prevent the next mass shooting and to try to counter this scourge of domestic violence extremism.

I asked him if new gun laws are needed for ATF to do that. He said that is a decision for lawmakers.

BASH: Josh Campbell, thank you for that important interview.

And up next, where CNN found coastal beaches disappearing in a manner of hours, and the larger problem this underscores.



BASH: In our Earth Matters series, the climate crisis continues to drastically change landscapes here in the U.S. and around the world. Once towering icebergs in the Arctic now vanish into the sea amid rising tells. New research shows the Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the planet.

And now climate change is destroying the island of Puerto Rico. Beach erosion is crumbling streets at an alarming rate, threatening the homes that reside along the coast. This, as the island is already pummeled by destructive hurricanes, flooding, and rising sea levels.

I'm Dana Bash in for Jake Tapper. You can follow me on Twitter @DanaBashCNN or tweet the show @TheLeadCNN.

And if you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to THE LEAD wherever you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues right now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."