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Judge Unseals Trump Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant; Search Warrant Cites Three Criminal Laws: Espionage Act, Obstruction And Removing Government Records; Trump Claims He Declassified Mar-a-Lago Documents; Judge Unseals Trump Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant; Search Warrant Cites Three Criminal Laws: Espionage Act, Obstruction and Removing Government Records. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired August 12, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: The top of the list, the unsealing of this warrant and the property receipt, including one set of the most classified federal information, three sets of secret documents, confidential documents as well.
Our coverage of this unsealing continues now on THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper.
We continue with the breaking news, a federal court in Florida unsealed the warrant that investigators used to search the home of former President Trump. The warrant cites three laws, obstruction, removing of government records, and the Espionage Act.
The warrant listed the classification of documents that were seized from Mar-a-Lago on Monday, including four sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents, three sets of confidential documents. And various documents were marked as top secret sensitive compartmentalized information. This would be material so tense sensitive that the U.S. goes to excruciating efforts to protect it.
Only people with top clearance can read them, and they have to do it in what's known as a SCIF or sensitive compartmented information facility. Now, these SCIFs require a special lock and have re-enforced walls and electronic methods to prevent spying.
I'm going to go right to CNN's Katelyn Polantz.
So, Katelyn, you have the warrants. What else are we learning from it?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. Well, Dana, there's more information in here than we could have expected yesterday. There is three pages that really lay out exactly what was seized from the property of the former president at Mar-a-Lago, the beach club that is also his home, and is not a secured facility in the way that the federal government sets up secured facilities at this time.
And this list, it walks through, there are 33 items here that were seized as far as this list goes. Most of them are boxes with labels on them. One is a leather bound box of documents, within it, it appears the way this is written that there are various classified TS SCI documents that were taken out of Mar-a-Lago or at least they were labeled as such.
TS SCI is that very high level of classification in the U.S. government, top secret, sensitive compartmented information. It really is the sort of information that is extremely protected and only certain people are able to access it.
This is what is under investigation. Not necessarily the classified information but just the idea that things that could hurt the national defense, that could hurt the United States, were being kept in an unsecure location, and when we look also at what was being searched, how the federal authorities would have been doing their job, we can see that they were given pretty broad direction as to where they were to go to look.
They were to look in the office of the former president, in areas in other rooms being used by the former president where there could be documents kept that would be unsecured. Things they needed to really get out of that place. And then the other thing that is of interest here is that when this was -- this receipt was signed and handed over as the FBI would have been leaving, we see a time stamp of 6:19 p.m. that really does confirm the FBI worked for most of the day to try and take these things off of the premises and get them back into a secure hands.
BASH: So interesting. Katelyn, thank you so much for that.
I want to bring in our CNN senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez.
So, Evan, you said something interesting that I called you about because I said, what? This is really critical. And it's about the three laws that are cited in this search warrant. You hear the former president or see him in his statements today saying I didn't take any classified information.
But what your reporting is reading these laws is that's not necessarily relevant. Can you explain that?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, so the three laws, I'll read you the three federal codes, one is 793. That's known as the Espionage Act, gathering, transmitting or losing defense information, Code 1519, this is destruction, alteration, falsification of records, in federal investigation. This is an obstruction statute, and then there's 2071, which is concealment, mutilation of federal documents.
What's interesting about especially, you know, if you look at 793, which is the Espionage Act, the National Defense Information. It doesn't really turn on whether the items are declassified. It doesn't turn on whether you have authority to possess these documents. So, the federal government, according to this document, the
prosecutors at the Justice Department are investigating possible crimes.
This is the proof they gave to a federal judge to say we believe at Mar-a-Lago, there were crimes -- evidence of these crimes. What's important about this is that they're using specific laws that could inoculate their investigation from what we expect to be the surefire Donald Trump defense, which is I declassified everything. I -- you know, by saying so, I automatically declassified things. Of course, we know it's a little more complicated than that, but that's where we know Donald Trump is going to go. We can already see that in some of his defenses.
One other thing I think that stood out to me from this document real quick, Dana, is, you know, the document says that the judge is authorizing the FBI to show up anytime from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. we know that the FBI showed up around 10:00 a.m. It gives you a sense of the deference they were giving to the former president for the office that he held.
You know, they could have gone in there with their FBI jackets. They came in with suits and ties. They came around 10:00 a.m. they were trying to not make this a spectacle. He is the one that went out right after the FBI left the premises and blasted out his statement and has created a spectacle of what happened here.
BASH: Evan, that's very interesting and an important point because now we do have these time stamps. Back to your original point, if the former president didn't necessarily break the law, just to use layman's terms, because of -- or this wasn't precipitated because of his possession of any classified information, what would be the potential area where he did break the law?
PEREZ: Well, what this means is that it doesn't matter that it was classified or not. What they're trying to say, you know, by presenting these statutes as the reason for doing this search, what the prosecutors are doing is saying that this was a violation of the law simply because by putting these documents, which could harm the United States. These are national defense information documents that you are violating the law. So, you could violate the law even if you as former president declassified them, which is I think what he's going to argue.
So what this means is you can break the law even if Donald Trump has already said I hereby wave a wand and I have declassified things.
BASH: Such important context and reporting. Thanks, as always.
PEREZ: I want to bring in Tom Dupree, who was the number two in the DOJ civil division under George W. Bush. And also with me, Kim Wehle, who served as an assistant U.S. attorney.
So, Tom, you have read the warrant. You heard Evan's reporting and Katelyn's as well. These three laws, obstruction, removing of government records, the Espionage Act. What do you make of it?
TOM DUPREE, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, the big ticket one here, Dana, is the Espionage Act. I think that explains what's been going on behind the scenes of the Justice Department, that what this warrant we see today confirms is that this is just not a garden variety dispute about archiving. It's not a ticky-tack dispute about where presidential records are stored.
Rather, this really goes to the heart of the United States national security. It's an espionage act potential charge.
And I think what happened at DOJ was they simply said that these documents that the president is refusing to turn back over to the government are not mementos, souvenirs of his time in office. Rather, they are documents that have a direct material relevance to the national security of the United States. That's why we need them back, and that's why it was appropriate to execute a warrant on Mar-a-Lago.
BASH: Kim, what are your thoughts?
KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, Dana, of course, I have just been able to read the warrant and look at these statutes, but there are a couple things that jump out to me. One is the Espionage Act is really long. There's a part of it that says authorized users cannot share this information -- whether he's authorized or not I think is unclear. Unless he -- unless he somehow waved his magic wand and declassified things under the Presidential Records Act, he did not have any legal right to have this.
So, I think it's possible another provision of that act would apply. The warrant, it doesn't say which subsection. The other provisions apply if there's intent to share information in order to injure the United States or to advantage foreign nations. I think that's quite interesting, right?
The obstruction statute, also very interesting because it's not just obstruction by having these things. It's -- you are destroying or concealing documents in order to obstruct another investigation. So my question would be, what -- was there probable cause to believe is the other investigation that these documents in Mar-a-Lago were allegedly potentially there to obstruct.
And then, of course, the last one is more, you just can't have -- you can't destroy or conceal these kinds of documents. So this is, you know, this is potentially decades in prison.
Last point I wanted to make is, it's unclear whose intent we're talking about here. Of course, Donald Trump is the resident at Mar-a- Lago, the owner. But there -- it's unclear from the warrant if they're talking about Donald Trump personally or if it's him and other people or it's other people that would have been potentially in violation of these federal laws.
BASH: Tom, a lot there that Kim was talking about. One thing I want to sort of hone in on here, and that is the obstruction part that she was talking about. Is that suggesting -- I guess let me give you an open ended question? What do you make of that with regard to him potentially holding something that has to do with another ongoing investigation? How do you read that?
DUPREE: Right. Look, I read that as somewhat of an open-ended charge. In other words, prosecutors can charge obstruction in a dozen different ways. And on the factual scenario as we understand it, it's not clear.
As Kim said, we don't know precisely what the alleged obstruction was, who was doing the obstruction, what that person was obstructing. In a situation like this where you have a person who is recalcitrant, who is non-cooperative with federal authorities, who is stonewalling at every turn, I think that gives rise to a facial case of potential obstruction of an investigation, of trying to figure out who has these records, what records are stored, why they're not being put back.
And so I think when you're going into a federal judge to get permission to execute a warrant, it's very natural for prosecutors to put in these exact types of obstruction statutes even if they don't know at the time exactly how they're going to charge them.
BASH: Yeah, that's important. It doesn't necessarily mean that is what they are investigating, right? Which might seem a little incongruous.
Tom, sticking with you because you served at the highest levels of the Department of Justice. I'm thinking about what the president's attorneys have said, sort of quietly, to CNN reporters and others, which is we were in conversations with the DOJ. And we thought things were going well, and then they went silent. We thought this was over, and all of a sudden they were at our door.
What do you make of that given what we see with this search warrant?
DUPREE: Yeah, look, number one, it doesn't surprise me at all that the way this whole series of events began is with negotiations and compromise. That's the way the Justice Department works. That's the way that past disputes involving presidential records and the like have been resolved. It's a situation. It's a dance, a two-step of negotiation, compromise.
Obviously, something went seriously off the rails. I don't think we know at this point enough to know whether it was that the president's team basically stonewalled and pressured DOJ into saying enough is enough, we're not going to take this anymore. Or if there was something else behind the scenes that created a sense of urgency at the Justice Department that they said, look, we have to end this right here. We have to go in and get these documents. We can't afford to wait another week, another month, because something is going to happen.
I suspect when, if and when we see the supporting affidavit for the search warrant, some of this mystery might be cleared a little bit. BASH: Well, that's a really good point because the search warrant, I
mean, each of you has seen search warrants many, many times in your lives, in your professional lives.
Kim, this is pretty vague. It's not very specific. Is that what we have to wait for, for the affidavit, to be more specific and that affidavit is obviously also something that the judge would have had to have seen before approving this warrant?
WEHLE: Right. So, under the Fourth Amendment, the warrant has to be supported by probable cause, and that is someone under oath explaining the facts. We have a law now in the warrant, but the facts, the narrative, the story that gives rise to probable cause to believe that there's evidence of a crime on the property.
As you indicate, Dana, normally we don't see these things. I was -- I don't think alone in being surprised that Merrick Garland decided yesterday to comment on this investigation and to move to unseal this motion. So we might not see the affidavit.
And I -- you know, it seemed like not knowing Merrick Garland, but it seemed like he's concerned about the safety of members of the FBI, the Department of Justice, maybe even the magistrate judge. And kind of took on Donald Trump and said, okay, if you're going to make this public, then I will -- let's do it officially.
So it sounds like now the former president is talking about the affidavit. We'll just have to see how it plays out.
But typically, you wouldn't see this. This would all be under wraps unless and until there was some litigation around it or an actual indictment.
BASH: Right, that's why I mentioned each of you would have seen this in your work at DOJ, but not in watching CNN or reading the newspaper.
All right, stick with me, both of you, because we have a lot more to talk about on this breaking news. A federal court in Florida unsealing the warrant that investigators used to search the home of former President Trump.
And coming up, classified documents that reportedly included information about nuclear weapons. How should that be handled? My next guest will have their take.
Plus, a surge in violent rhetoric online since Monday's search at Mar- a-Lago. Some of it apparently pushed by a man who targeted an FBI field office -- and how Republicans on Capitol Hill today, at least some of them called for calm.
BASH: We're back with our politics lead. New reporting possibly shedding light on the urgency the Justice Department felt to execute a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago property.
"The Washington Post" reports that federal agents were looking for classified documents related to nuclear weapons.
I want to bring in retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and former presidential adviser, David Gergen.
Thank you, gentlemen, for coming in on this very, very busy Friday afternoon.
General Hertling, I want to start with you. You have a lot of experience dealing with material at the highest security and classification levels. Some of these documents were marked top secret, SCI. Which is, of course, the highest level of classification and could presumably include materials about nuclear weapons, as "The Washington Post" is reporting.
Is there any normal process where materials like this would be in a private residence, even in the private residence of a former president?
LT. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: None whatsoever, Dana. I will say that emphatically. It belongs in a SCIF facility, under the control of what's called an SSO, a special security officer. They track the documents. They know where they are.
That's probably why they knew that Mr. Trump had absconded with some of them when he went to Mar-a-Lago and didn't give them back. So, yeah, there is no way that these belong in the private hands of any individual, even a former president.
BASH: And, David, you have extensive experience as a presidential adviser. Would it be normal for top secret materials from your perspective, have you ever seen anything even close to this to be out of the White House or out of SCIFs and in the private residence of a former president?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: General Hertling is absolutely right. They're taking very seriously, if in fact they're at the top levels. You get documents in the top, top of this level we have been talking about for the last few days. Then there's a great deal of protection.
Frankly, I have seen a lot of administrations that are pretty relaxed when you take it down two or three notches. You get down to confidential in particular, I have seen people walk off with documents that have fought the Archives people on what to keep, what not to keep.
So, I think the lower level, and what we find here, I don't think is lower level. There's a lot more to be learned. We know less about -- less about what in these documents than we know, the amount we know in them. And I think the next few days are going to be crucial to see whether in fact when we talk about being nuclear related they really were related to nuclear weapons, which is one thing. A different thing if it's linked to nuclear strategy. It's quite a different thing to be linked to nuclear power. There are a lot of different ways you can interpret that.
So, we have a lot yet to learn. But I think overall, I think we should have a sense of relief tonight that both parties backed down some. And they tried to work this out. We have been better off if we never heard of Mar-a-Lago in this sense. We would be better off if we didn't have the attorney general have to go out and back down from something he said earlier in the week. But nonetheless, overall, it's a good thing that we actually found the grown-ups who would sit down, work together, and get this worked out.
BASH: General Hertling, from a national security perspective, talk about the potential problems, like why are these rules in place? What is the potential problem with having something that is supposed to be read in a top secret facility that has all of the -- the technology to prevent spies from coming in, what you see on the top of your screen in red, top secret SCI, what is the reason for this? And again, what is the potential problem with having it outside that facility?
HERTLING: Yeah, it's actually outlined in the law that says what each thing could cause. There was a tranche of confidential documents. That's information which is defined as might damage or disclose elements of national security. Secret documents would cause, and I'm quoting here, serious damage to national security to include disruption of foreign relations, description of plans or intelligence operations, or compromise of technologies.
Top secret information, Dana, that's the unauthorized disclosure of what could reasonably be expected to cause, quote, exceptionally grave damage to national security. You know, I take a different view of this. Having been involved in these kinds of things, and knowing what's in them.
When you're talking about top secret SCI, the sensitive compartmented information, which by the way, is not a separate category. There's only three categories of information. That chart you're showing right now is incorrect. TS SCI is restricted to those who have not only a top secret clearance but a need to know of certain details.
So in other words, I could have a top secret -- I personally could have a top secret clearance, could go in and read any top secret document. But as soon as one of them says SCI, that means there is something special about that that I only have to have a need to know in terms of methods and people involved.
That's critically important. That belongs in a SCIF because it endangered not only national security but the people who are involved in producing it. And you just don't retroactively declassify this kind of stuff by saying I hereby declassify it, because there are people who are controlling these documents, who know the danger that it puts other people in. That's the critical part of this.
BASH: Such important context, thank you both of you for joining me. I appreciate it.
GERGEN: Thank you, Dana.
BASH: And we will get Donald Trump's reaction to this ordeal next.
BASH: Back with more on the breaking news about a federal court releasing the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago.
Let's bring in CNN's Katelyn Polantz.
So, Katelyn, what is the former president saying about this warrant?
POLANTZ: Well, Dana, around 2:30, we got a statement from Donald Trump saying number one, it was all declassified. Number two, they didn't need to seize anything. They could have had it any time they wanted, and then in all caps, he wrote, all they had to do was ask. But hold on a second, they did ask.
The Justice Department did ask multiple times. The attorney general even alluded to this in his statement yesterday saying they would have done less intrusive means to get these documents back if they could have.
We know that the National Archives was asking for records from Trump. We know that they obtained boxes in January, including ones that had taped up documents in them. And then we know there was ultimately a subpoena in June following a meeting with the president's lawyers down at Mar-a-Lago trying to get back these things, including those 33 items that were taken out as these crimes are being investigated.
You know, ultimately, Dana, the thing to remember here that this is a search and seizure. It's part of a process and this is an ongoing criminal investigation. Everything that has happened to this point will be factored in, including and not just what was removed from Mar- a-Lago on Monday.
BASH: Katelyn, thank you so much.
Here with our panel, I'm going to get to the former president's reaction later, but let's start by chewing on the search warrant a bit.
Mario Parker, your thoughts on it.
MARIO PARKER, NATIONAL POLITICS TEAM LEADER, BLOOMBERG: No, it looks like we finally got some clarity after almost five days, right? Where we were just inundated with conspiracy theories from the former president, Republicans rallying to his side, questions about what the warrant entailed.
And now we got it. We understand now, based off the contents of the warrant, that it did stem -- the investigation does stem around very sensitive top secret in fact information. And so now the American public has something to kind of understand why we had this unique situation where a former president's house was raided.
BASH: Your thoughts?
DAVID MARTOSKO, FORMER U.S. POLITICAL EDTOR, THE DAILY MAIL: Well, first of all, I think this is going to create questions for the DOJ. Why did they wait three days to execute the search warrant? If these were such top secret SCI classified documents that would seriously damage the U.S. national security, the judge gives you the go ahead on a Friday, why do you wait to a Monday? You have two weeks to execute, but there's a clash for me. That's a hard question.
I think also we have to wonder why back in June did the FBI visit that same part of Mar-a-Lago and say, okay, guys, you're good, just get a better lock for the door. There's some questions that remain, but they're DOJ questions which I suspect they'll never answer.
BASH: Well, there are a lot of questions. Those are just some of them.
NAVIN NAYAK, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Actually, it's worth stepping back for a second. When this first broke, there was a sense of, oh, is this a dispute with the national archives? Is it about presidential records, is it about January 6th?
And we now know there's a whole other investigation that none of us really were aware of a few weeks ago that has to do with espionage, obstruction, destruction of property. Like, this is completely above and beyond still the January 6th questions that really need to be investigated and we think the DOJ is involved in, and all the other sort of challenges, legal challenges that Trump faces.
So I actually think this is pretty -- a lot more sobering and frightening. I think it should be for the American people, than just, oh, he had records he shouldn't have. There's clearly a lot more do it.
BASH: Right. And I should say, you said there are investigations, even though this was a search warrant with three criminal laws written on it, it doesn't tell us that much about if we can even call it an investigation, certainly not espionage. Having said that, there were, if you look at the item list, there were several things that were considered top secret, the highest level of classification. You're not even supposed to take out of a secure location.
LINDA CHAVEZ, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT REAGAN: Right. I had SCI clearance when I worked in the White House for a specific project I was working on. So I know the way you're supposed to handle -- you don't actually handle them.
I mean, when I got to see in this case it was satellite pictures, I was taken to a special location. I looked at it. I was not allowed to talk about it at all. This is really serious stuff.
And, you know, the idea that Donald Trump thought that he could wave a wand, abracadabra, everything is declassified. First of all, we don't know what's in those. One of the most important things that is in SCI documents, images, whatever, is that it can give you information about the sources and methods that the United States uses to gather information. And just that knowledge can jeopardize lives.
And so, you know, for a group of people who are out there screaming, lock her up, because of emails on servers that were not even at that level in terms of classification, I think this is just really the height of hypocrisy.
BASH: Well, we're going to talk a lot more about the political reaction and ramifications in a minute, the surge in extremist rhetoric as well. So, stick around, we're going to get into all of that after a quick break.
BASH: In our national lead, violent extremist rhetoric and threats amped after the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago. We have new details about the man killed during a stand-off Thursday after he tried to breach an FBI field office in Ohio.
CNN's Brian Todd reports social media posts matching the suspect's name grew increasingly agitated and violent after the Mar-a-Lago search.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a social media account bearing the name of the suspect in Cincinnati, 42-year-old Ricky Shiffer, the user seemed to fixate on revenge for the FBI search of Donald Trump's home, Mar-a-Lago.
On Monday, the day of the Mar-a-Lago raid, the user wrote: People, this is it.
I hope a call to arms comes from someone better qualified. But if not, this is your call to arms from me.
JOHN SCOTT-RAILTON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, CITIZEN LAB, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: This was totally predictable. Not the person, not the place, but the fact that angry people would take up arms and do something violent was absolutely predictable. And the worst part is the people who are pushing that rhetoric, they knew it. They knew what would happen. And clearly, they made the decision to go forward.
Also on Shiffer's account, the user encouraged others to go to gun and pawnshops to, quote, get whatever you need to be ready for combat. When another person responded to the user, saying they would send his picture and information to the FBI, the user responded, bring them on.
TERRANCE GAINER, FORMER U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: I think a lot of their effort right now will be focused on who he was connected with and what others may do. So people who have been involved with this individual, either through social media or in day-to-day activities, I hope they're a little bit nervous.
TODD: Two law enforcement sources tell CNN Ricky Shiffer was previously known to the FBI because of his connections with the January 6th attack on the Capitol. His social media accounts user claimed they were in Washington that day but didn't say whether they entered the Capitol. Our sources say he also had associations with the far right extremist group the Proud Boys.
Since the Mar-a-Lago raid, CNN has found ramped up extremist rhetoric in online forums sympathetic to Trump. One post CNN found called for violence against FBI agents.
ARIEH KOVLER, SOCIAL MEDIA EXTREMISM ANALYST: The thing I have seen people talking about and maybe fantasizing about is potential trigger might be a potential arrest or detention of Donald Trump.
TODD (on camera): All of which means there is added tension among law enforcement agents. Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer whose son is a retired FBI agent, told us he's spoken to several agents since the Mar-a-Lago raid. They're telling him they're now taking added precautions for their safety and the safety of their families.
Dana, a lot of law enforcement agents are really on edge following that Cincinnati attack.
BASH: Completely understandable.
Brian Todd, thank you so much for that report.
And House Republicans are scrambling to affirm their support of law enforcement. Here's the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): I want to begin by stating that all of our members of this committee are in full support of the men and women who every day work to keep our nation safe at the FBI and the Department of Justice, and we condemn any actions of violence against any law enforcement personnel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: He did emphasize they still have questions for leadership at the DOJ and FBI.
However, his colleague and member of the House GOP leadership, Elise Stefanik, sounded very different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): House Republicans are committed to immediate oversight, accountability, and a fulsome investigation to provide needed transparency and answers to the American people regarding Joe Biden and his administration's weaponization of the department of justice and FBI against Joe Biden's political opponent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Back with our panel.
David, what do you make of -- the first statement is something that we would expect. You would have written and given that statement, Linda, at any year that you were serving in government or elsewhere. The second, not so much. Is there a little bit of concern that Republicans like Stefanik with comments like that are going to have egg on their face when we have all the information?
MARTOSKO: Maybe, but right now, it's a political question. I spent about 300 days on the road in the 2016 campaign, talking to Trump voters. I still keep in touch with the focus group, about 120 of them.
And I have been emailing furiously with them, and to a man and woman, they all say, this is ridiculous, this is an overreach of federal power. This is no different from them saying Trump was trying to target the guy who wanted his job, Joe Biden, during the thing about the Ukraine phone call.
They're going to play this politically, and I think this particular congresswoman is the first but not the last instrument of that political play.
CHAVEZ: I would say that if Donald Trump told his supporters that the Earth was flat, you would have your focus group and they would try to convince you the Earth was flat. So look, there has been a sea change, but the idea that Republicans back the blue when you have Republicans who are members of Congress and responsible positions referring to the FBI as if they were Gestapo agents, that is a sea change.
NAYAK: I do think that's the biggest change right now, that it's not just a bunch of facts. It's that this party now, the MAGA Republicans, embrace lawlessness. They're comfortable encouraging political violence.
It's one thing to question the FBI and say we need transparency. It's a wholly other thing to, you know, ramp up the rhetoric around violence and encourage political violence as a response to these kinds of investigations. And that's the line that's really been crossed and changed.
PARKER: There was a vacuum, right, between Monday when we learned about the raid and then when Merrick Garland addressed everyone on Thursday, right, that allowed those conspiracy theories, some of that distrust we have seen the former president sow before, that allowed that to travel around the world, to paraphrase Mark Twain, at the speed of light, compared to when we got more clarity on Thursday and today with the warrant. [16:45:22]
BASH: Listen to what Nancy Pelosi said just today about all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I think what is important now is to know the seriousness of what these documents were about, alleged to be about. We don't know. Hopefully we'll see more, but we don't want to see too much more because that might endanger our security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: A point you were making.
CHAVEZ: Yes, exactly right. And I mean, you know, it is really unfortunate that members of Congress don't take a deep breath when they see something like this happen and say, let's get the facts. That used to be the way we did it in the old days. It's no longer the case. It's all politicized, all polarized, and all about demonizing the other side.
BASH: Because of what you were reporting. There is a very clear reason that the former president wanted to break the news himself with the language that he used, very much attacking law enforcement.
MARTOSKO: Well, let's remember, Donald Trump does not know how to play on the defensive side of the football. He's all offense all the time and always has been. That's part of his appeal to MAGA nation, if you want to call it that. He's going to be under some pressure right now to declare his run for presidency soon. The RNC doesn't want him to do that because they don't want the midterms to be about that, right? But he's going to be under pressure because if they indict him, it's a whole other ball game.
BASH: Yeah, it is. The other issue is that whole underpinning of this discussion is legal troubles for him. Guess who pays his legal bills, the RNC.
MARTOSKO: For now.
BASH: For now. They wouldn't be if he declared.
CHAVEZ: He certainly doesn't.
BASH: Well, yeah -- well, that's a whole another discussion.
Thank you all. Great discussion. Happy Friday.
And the Trump Mar-a-Lago search warrant cites three laws that were potentially broken. So is the former president in legal jeopardy? That's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:51:39]
BLITZER: We're continuing to track breaking news. A judge has unsealed the search warrant used to search Mar-a-Lago, showing the FBI took 11 sets of classified documents from the former president's resort home, including highly classified material.
I want to bring in former Trump White House attorney Jim Schultz.
So, first, you read this. What are your thoughts on the substance of what the search warrant says about what the DOJ felt so desperately that they needed?
JAMES SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, if they needed to get it, it's going to be one of four areas, if you will, that would be very important to get. One, is it going to reveal sources and methods? And how we conduct our business overseas, and maybe domestically, so sources and methods and how we gather intelligence.
The second area, does it involve any of the nuclear programs that others don't know about, right? Does it reveal any potential programs that we don't want to get out of the hands of folks who have authorization to have it?
And then lastly, is there something in there that could have benefitted someone personally in the former president, someone around the former president? That's something else they might be looking for as it relates to these documents that are there, that there might have been a sense of urgency. Beyond that, I don't -- I don't see much more.
BASH: How much legal jeopardy is the former president in?
SCHULTZ: Look, I think it's way too soon to tell. How those documents got there, who delivered them there, were they declassified? There's so many questions that need to be answered.
The bottom line is the documents have been collected now, are back where they should be, and then that's for the Justice Department to evaluate in terms of how they got there, who brought them there, why they were there, why they weren't returned, why they didn't respond to the subpoena?
There's -- obviously, they were going back and forth with the former president's lawyers. There are going to be political questions Congress are going to ask in terms of why the timing, how come it took so long to do this? I think those are all valid questions that will be asked at some point in time.
BASH: Jim, you worked with President Trump. How did you see him handle classified information?
SCHULTZ: So, I wasn't -- I didn't work in the national security realm when I was in the White House. So I couldn't comment on that anyway, but you know, we have seen in terms of things that he did in public reports, you know, he was not -- it was publicly reported that how he kept documents wasn't necessarily the traditional way that you would keep documents. Whether they were classified or not, that's not something I can speak to, but in terms of ripping things up or flushing things down the toilet.
You heard all these rumors. Some confirmed, some haven't been confirmed. But I think those are questions folks are going to be asked that worked in the White House and worked in that realm.
BASH: Not traditional is very diplomatic, the way you just put that.
What do you make of the argument that his -- Trump's attorneys are saying, well, they were declassified? Especially given what you just said at the very beginning of our discussion, which is that might not be relevant if the sources and methods are -- of getting information on the front end are in jeopardy?
SCHULTZ: Well, that's the thing. The real key is to get the information back, that could even be accidentally disclosed to our enemies or to anyone abroad.
So I think that's the important point here, is getting that information back. And DOJ has to make some judgments in terms of, you know, whether there are charges coming on that, it's way too soon to tell.
BASH: Former Trump attorney Jim Schultz, thank you so much.
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
BASH: And the potential implications of the Justice Department's actions this week, coming up.
BASH: The lineup this weekend on "STATE OF THE UNION," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Turner, and Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas. Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Eastern and noon right here on CNN.
If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen wherever you get your podcasts.
Our coverage continues right now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM".