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Don Lemon Tonight
FBI Agents Raided Trump's Mar-a-Lago Residence; Republicans Pointing Fingers; Opinions Divided On FBI's Search Warrant To Trump's Property; Trump-endorsed Candidates Winning in States; FBI Seized Congressman Perry's Phone. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 09, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you for sticking with me. I will be back tomorrow night. Laura Coates is sitting in for Don Lemon. And that show begins right now. Hey, Laura.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Hey, Sara Sidner, thanks so much, great show as always. And this is DON LEMON TONIGHT. I'm Laura Coates sitting in for Don.
And look, we are learning many more details about the FBI's unprecedented search for documents at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. And tonight, a source tells CNN that authorities did not believe that Trump and his aides had returned all the documents and other materials that have been taken to Mar-a-Lago when Trump left office.
And the documents, as you well know are the property of the United States government. They don't belong to Trump. Some 15 boxes of materials were previously returned to the National Archives, but apparently, investigators had concerns about whether there were any additional materials, including, perhaps, classified documents with potential national security implications.
And they asked the DOJ to intervene. Now the sources also saying there were suspicion that Trump representatives were not being completely truthful with authorities over the course of the investigation. In fact, yesterday, federal agents did remove additional boxes of materials from Mar-a-Lago.
Now, Trump, he has a copy of the search warrant, but he is not yet revealed its contents.
We have a lot to get to tonight. I want to turn right away to CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Pamela Brown. Pamela, I know you are on the story. You're getting new information tonight about the investigation. What are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Laura. A source familiar says as part of the FBI's investigation into the former president's handling of possibly classified information, DOJ investigators subpoenaed the Trump Organization for surveillance footage of Mar-a-Lago. Now this happened after a visit with the FBI, DOJ officials went to
Mar-a-Lago in June, met with Trump representatives on there. After that visit and before the search warrant was executed by the FBI yesterday, the subpoena was issued to the Trump lawyer. I'm told by the source familiar that Trump Org did comply and turned over some of the surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago. Now what I don't know is the timeframe for that.
But it's interesting to know based on what I'm told by a separate source familiar with this investigation that FBI investigators were concerned that Trump's representatives were not being fully forthcoming truthful about the documents that were at Mar-a-Lago, even after the National Archives took those 15 boxes.
There was concern that there is no documents there at Mar-a-Lago that could be classified that belong in the government's hand. And so, that is why, I'm told, the FBI took this extraordinary, unprecedented step to execute the search warrant at a former president's private residence and also because of the concern about the national security implications, Laura.
COATES: I mean, it makes sense. The idea if I trust the person to give me information, I'm going to issue a subpoena, right? And the idea of if I'm going to go maybe unannounced, if I don't think I have all the materials, but I'm still curious as to why they thought that. What may have changed, Pamela?
You're also learning that Congressman Scott Perry cell phone was actually seized by the FBI. I mean, this is a sitting member of Congress, what can you tell us about that?
BROWN: Yes, this is another big step from the FBI, seizing his cell phone. He released a statement saying that three FBI agents came after him while he was with his family, and seized his phone. He says in the statement that the FBI had not reached out to his lawyers.
But my colleague Katelyn Polantz is told from a source that this is all part of the Justice Department's inspector general probe, looking at Jeffrey Clark, the former DOJ official who tried to help Trump overturn the election results. Jeffrey Clark is closely aligned to Scott Perry, this member of Congress, so this is all wrapped up into that investigation.
But it is unusual because the inspector general typically investigates DOJ of possible wrongdoing within the Department of Justice and, again, Scott Perry is a sitting member of Congress, but we have reporting that he helped Jeffrey Clark. He was in the effort to overturn election results.
We have heard testimony from the January 6 committee that he sought a pardon from Donald Trump, something he had denied. So, it's really interesting. This is all separate from the other investigation we were just talking about, Laura.
COATES: I mean, Pamela, when it rains, it seems to pour.
BROWN: That's right.
COATES: But it's going to delineate these two things, of course. Thank you so much. And now I want to bring in CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor and Asha Rangappa, a former FBI agent.
Welcome to the Honig-Asha Rangappa law firm this evening. I mean, I should put your name, Asha. I'm going to -- Elie -- sorry, it's Asha first, there you go, everyone.
Elie, but I'll begin with you instead here. Because look, investigators, I mean, they were at Mar-a-Lago just in June. They even talk to Trump. Now, we're learning authorities were suspicions they were withholding materials and didn't really hand over everything.
Does that explain why things may have escalated from the time they were there to the time they are now essentially entering and executing a search warrant?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's a start, Laura. I say it partially explains it. The question I have is exactly the question you raised though. It's one thing to be suspicious, it's one thing to suspect you are being allowed to or documents are being withheld, it's another thing to be able to prove it.
And to prove that those documents that are being withheld are sufficiently serious, sufficiently, potentially dangerous to justify a search warrant. And let's be clear, when we talk about justifying a search warrant, all three of us know that legally, all you have to do is show probable cause that a crime is committed and get just a sign of.
That's a big deal, that's not nothing. But there is also a political reality here. DOJ is going to have to show some absolute, irreplaceable necessity in order to justify this on a larger sort of political and practical scale.
COATES: I mean, Asha, that's obviously consideration, right? The idea that there is probable cause. There is that standard. Then there is that idea of, look, I mean, you got to know what you are doing, dotting the I's, crossing the T's, there must be questions that are raised up and down the levels and the chain of command that says you are executing the search warrant, where, and on whose residence?
That's going to be part of the equation, but the question for many people is, look, what are the documents they were seeking. I keep saying, these can't possibly be snow globes that are taken from the Oval Office at one point in time. Right? That would be ridiculous, if that were the case.
What do you think, and what did they believe the documents may actually contain or, at least, the category of information?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, so I think one missing piece of this, from what I understand, Laura, is that either by policy or practice, the FBI does not issue subpoenas to retrieve classified information from people who are not authorized to have it. I think because a subpoena may further expose that classified information to other unauthorized individuals.
So, they are faced with this choice between either the person handing the -- voluntarily giving the documents back which I think most normal people would do when the FBI comes knocking or the Department Justice or to execute a search warrant.
And I have to wonder if they were just caught in that dilemma, which brings us to your second question, which is what was the nature of these documents? And you know, I just go to what are the kinds of classified top secret
documents that would end up in the White House, and specifically in the possession of the President of United States.
These are the highest government secrets that we have, and they are secrets that are of great interest to foreign governments, including from the governments and, of course, to hostile governments. And if they are in an unsecured location that has a lot of traffic, where people have been arrested before for trespassing, with potential ties to foreign intelligence, as someone was in 2019, then I think the government would really have a very urgent need to get those documents.
I think the surveillance footage could be one or two things. One is to confirm whether these documents were only in the location that Trump said they were in June, or, to, whether they had some intelligence that these were attempted to be accessed by someone --
RANGAPPA: -- and we're trying to verify that.
COATES: But here is the thing. I mean, and Elie, as Asha made the point, if you believe that there is sensitive, let alone classified information that might implicate national security concerns, do you know that in June, and then come in August and say, I will be back to get them? That is one of the time my concerns I have here is to what would have been the delay?
Now we don't yet know what the cause of that is, but that is just a point of questioning that people have to hone in on, the idea of, why would there be a delay if you believe that there was something there? And then again, it was and announced a search. It happened.
But I want to ask you because Mitch McConnell, obviously the minority leader of the Senate, he put out a statement saying that the Attorney General Merrick Garland that he should have already provided answers about what led to the search.
Now what would you make of that? If Garland came out and was fully transparent and gave all the information the public desire to our heart's content, what would be your take then?
HONIG: Look, selfishly, Laura, me, myself, like everybody else, I want to know more. I'm very interested and curious.
COATES: I'm nosy too.
HONIG: However, it would be, yes, exactly. I mean, we are the same that way. But it would be a huge mistake of Merrick Garland to come out and start making statements about, OK, folks, here is why we searched Mar-a-Lago, in two respects.
First of all, strategically, that is a terrible move for any prosecutor or investigator to do. You don't show your opponent your hand and poker, you don't share your playbook with the opposing coach in the NFL. You want to maintain secrecy strategically so you can build your investigation so people don't get tipped off, so people don't destroy documents, et cetera. So that's reason number one.
Reason number two is, you are trying to protect the rights of the individual who may be under suspicion, whether that's Donald Trump, or anybody else. Imagine at the attorney general got behind a podium tomorrow and said, OK, everyone, OK, Mitch McConnell, you want to know what our probable cause is, let me lay it out for you. We have this evidence. We have that evidence.
And that leads me to believe that Donald Trump committed the following federal crimes. They do allege that, we haven't seen it, but we know for a fact they alleged that in the affidavit. If Merrick Garland got behind the podium and say that, watch the outrage from Mitch McConnell, and that applies, by the way to any person who is a suspect, Democrat, Republican, famous person, not famous person. So those are vital interest that the DOJ protects by its silence.
COATES: I mean, that was part of the outrage surrounding what former director Comey did. Right? The idea of coming out, sort of undermining -- in some sort innocence --
COATES: -- getting ahead under the skis, in terms of the DOJ. I think A.G. Loretta Lynch didn't even realize it's going to be happening at that point in time.
I mean, Asha, you are with the FBI as well, and I am wondering are we going to be able to see this affidavit. Do you think in any road, I mean, obviously, Trump has a copy of the search warrant -- we don't yet have the full warrant, we have not seen it, but I'm wondering, do you expect to be able to have that released? And why or why not?
RANGAPPA: You know, I have my doubts, Laura, because this is a national security investigation that involves classified information. And it may be that some of the probable cause is coming from sensitive sources or methods, we don't know.
I mean, you know, I think that the fact that the counter intelligence and export controls section of DOJ was the -- were -- the officials where the -- from this division came and visited Trump in June tells me that, you know, this involves a lot of sensitive information that has already been reported, as well.
And we don't know to what extent the probable cause is coming from sources that they wouldn't be able to reveal publicly. So that would be my worry here. I think that the question is, will Merrick Garland actually bring charges. Because, obviously, if he indites Trump, eventually, we'll see the whole story, right? We'll see exactly what the probable cause was. What some of the evidence was.
But I think that if the goal here was to actually retrieve the documents, and you know, punishing Trump is secondary and this could happen in national security investigation, where national security interests Trump the criminal interests, it's possible we may not see criminal charges. And I think that we need to contemplate that that possibility as well.
COATES: I think what you said is so important, and it requires a step back. Because I think so often, people are singularly focused and believed that an indictment and or conviction are the only pursuits by those who are trying to get property back, trying to execute a search warrant, and it very well may be that the goal was to retrieve classified data and have it in a secure location.
Now that might be the facts, Asha and Elie, but of course the appetite at the court of public opinion and the electorate will be widely different if the expectation is, that the only way for accountability is through indictment.
We'll talk more about this. I have a feeling we'll meet again, all of you. Welcome to that firm, that was a wonderful experience. Thank you so much. I love seeing both of you.
HONIG: It'd be great.
COATES: Multiple investigations, everyone, into Trump's behavior are swirling, and who knows what and what will matter most? I'm going to ask a former Watergate prosecutor and a Trump administration insider, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, the committee doesn't know anything about this, I was as surprised as everyone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: The FBI executing a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, after investigators believed the former president and his aides withholding federal materials, including classified documents with potential national security implications. That's according to a source, who also says that investigators had suspicions that Trump representatives were not being completely truthful. Let's talk about it now with Nick Akerman, a former assistant special
Watergate prosecutor, and also, Olivia Troye, former homeland security and COVID task force adviser to the former Vice President Mike Pence.
Good to see both of you here today. I want to bring with you, Nick, because I really want your expertise here --
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Sure.
COATES: -- for this in particular. I mean, for a search like this to happen on a former president, it can't possibly be taken lightly. And I wonder, what stands out to you, and are you seeing any clues about where this all might be heading?
AKERMAN: It's very hard to see what this is about. I mean, the source that you are referring to, we don't know who that source is. It's not a government source. I mean, there's only two sides to this equation. It's either the Trump people that received the search warrant or it's the government.
And my sense is that the government is not leaking this information. And the Trump side has every reason to paint a different picture of what's going on, and they could correct that in two seconds, by simply releasing this search warrant that they received.
It's not as good as the affidavit that details the basis for the probable cause, the crime that was committed and the location of the evidence proving that crime. But it would certainly go a long way to showing us what kinds of documents were being searched for, and where those documents were? So, anything else beyond that is really speculation. The best I can tell. I mean, obviously --
COATES: Well, why do you think -- Nick, on that point, though --
AKERMAN: Go ahead.
COATES: I mean, you know, the former president has a copy of that search warrant. He is the reason that we even know a search was even conducted yesterday. I mean, it wasn't from the FBI.
COATES: It wasn't from DOJ. What do you think is the motivation for not releasing it?
AKERMAN: I think it's because there is the information on there that goes beyond this idea that this just had to do with classified information that Trump took with him when he left the White House. Don't forget, that was 18 months ago. For the search warrant to have validity, the information in it cannot be stale. You have to have probable cause that is up to date. It should be within the last 30 days.
[22:20:05] Somebody in the Trump orbit had basically rattled him out, has provided information as a source to the FBI, that is included in that affidavit. Now what exactly he said about the crime that was committed, and what that documentation was that proves that crime? We just don't know. I am totally convinced that it is not just his national security issue of documents coming out of the White House.
COATES: Well, I am going to guess here, Olivia, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that, not only one, Mike Pence is no longer in the Trump orbit, so to speak, and that he was not the person who may have tipped somebody off about something. But I mean, I could be wrong, and I'm willing to be wrong on that point, Olivia.
But your former boss, Vice President Mike Pence, he tweeted his concern over the FBI's lawful search. And I wonder what you make of his response and his concerns?
OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: You know, I was actually disappointed to see that because I think that he was just feeling the undermining of government institutions, which he saw firsthand in the Trump administration we lived in. So, I think he, you know, I think it's unfortunate that he went out of his way, in many ways, to kind of feed into the sort of the right wing machine talking points, which have been executed like clockwork in the past 24 hours, as we've seen. Especially given the fact that he knows how dangerous it is, once you feel that fire. He lived it, and it almost led to his own death. That's ridiculous.
COATES: Yes. I mean, one of the things just to paraphrase and reference that he is talking about the idea of almost what we've seen throughout the day, this whataboutism philosophy that we've seen throughout the course of this year, last year, six years ago and beyond.
And Nick, on this point, in terms of who knows what and the coordination of things, I mean, we can't look at this in a vacuum, there is an active January six committee. And if this was not just about classified materials, which should be serious enough, I mean, some people think it might have to do with the January 6th actual insurrection.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren who actually sits on that committee was on with Wolf Blitzer earlier today, and she expressed her surprised by the search, like everyone else. And she also, listen to this, she makes this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Has your January 6th committee, Congresswoman, share any information about Trump's handling of documents with the Department of Justice?
LOFGREN: I don't believe that we have a lot of information about classified documents. The focus of the committee are the events leading up to January 6th and all of the plot that occurred. The, you know, if he stole documents and took them to Mar-a-Lago, that's really not within the scope of the January 6 committee, per se.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Nick, what do you make of the idea of the 6th -- of the committee trying to really maintain their independence from the Justice Department? They even had a bit of a riff at one point, where they were, the DOJ was asking for what they had. They sort of negotiated what they would release.
Now, I think most recently, they're going to give them what they have, but what do you make about the existence of these parallel investigations, prudent or illusory?
AKERMAN: This is what happened in Watergate. It was the exact same thing. But keep mind, with respect to the investigation, it is a one- way street. In other words, the Department of Justice is not going to give anything to the committee. All of that material is protected by grand jury secrecy to maintain the integrity of the investigation and to protect individuals who have not yet been charged with a crime.
The committee, on the other hand, is a much more public form and a much more public investigation. And traditionally, just like in the Watergate case, all of the information that the Watergate committee gathered roundup being brought to our office. We didn't bring information to their office.
So, this is not unusual. It's not unusual to have two parallel investigations that have different objectives, as you have here. So, that is a tension that's going to exist. In the Watergate situation the tension was exacerbated by the fact that the committee there actually provided immunity grants to certain people.
Here, the committee has not immunized anybody. That's basically lasted to the Department of Justice to do that. So, I think this is all being done just the way we would've expected to be done, and it's being done the right way.
COATES: Well, that's both reassuring and also daunting to think about history repeating itself in that particular way, Nick. Thank you. And also, Olivia, I want to ask you this question. Because, look, we know that secretary of state, the former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo testified before the committee we're just talking about.
And so, today, and Lofgren said that he did answer questions, and yet, he's not seeming to leave politics at the door. He actually called the search of Mar-a-Lago dangerous. Does what happened at Mar-a-Lago make it difficult and harder, perhaps, for Republicans to try to distance themselves from what happened on January 6?
TROYE: Yes, I think it absolutely does. Look, I think -- look, I think from what I understand, Pompeo went in, he did cooperate, the reporting suggest that he was there and dis answer questions. He was there for a while. And so, I think he would be able to speak to a number of things, right? My own curiosity is what were the discussions on the 25th amendment,
and what, to what extent, and why? Why were they so concerned, and what were they concerned about? I only say that because I am also curious to see if any of these documents of what's going on here sort of comes into play with that when we're talking about potentially foreign adversaries or foreign assets getting the hold, if it is indeed related to classified documents.
And another thing that I just want to say, is that, I think, you know, what's really upsetting about watching the Republican party and what they are doing here in terms of this disinformation machine in many ways, is that they are forgetting the fact that like sources, methods -- methods and assets, they take a long time to develop, and they should be very concerned about this.
Because there are lives on the ground, potentially, that could be implicated. Their lives could be in danger. These are sons and daughters, mothers and fathers who serve our country, and so, this is not a thing to be taken lightly. If it is classified information that could come into the wrong hands.
COATES: Such an important point. I mean, it's all about national security, and it's just an important point to underscore tenfold. Olivia, Nick, thank you so much.
AKERMAN: Thank you.
COATES: Now, look, they are pushing him to announce a 2024-White House bid. I'm talking about Donald Trump, that is. And so, I wonder why Trump allies think the FBI searched on his Florida home might actually help him win. What we're going to talk about why they think that, next.
COATES: Let's just say it. This FBI search of a Mar-a-Lago resort, well, it's landing like a political meteor. And with the dust just beginning to clear, CNN is now learning that some Trump allies are pushing him to move his un -- his expected announcement of a 2024 bid up a little more. Trump ally Lindsey Graham talking about his conversations with Trump just today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I talked to him twice today, and I told him that, you know, there's legal systems in the country that above yourself of it. And time will tell us what's going on. I think President Trump is determined now more than ever to straighten this country out. I think president, President Trump is going to push through this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: And I wonder if he is. Joining me now is CNN political commentator Scott Jennings and former Obama White House official, Will Jawando. He is the author of "My Seven Black Fathers."
I'm glad that you're both here. Let me begin with you here, Scott. Because I'm just wondering sometimes, what world we live in politically where an FBI execution of a search warrant might boost your political chances? Where are we right now?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, with this -- with this particular politician, Donald Trump, you've described it accurately. I mean, I'll just give you what the view is among Republicans, especially people who really support Donald Trump and that's that in 2016, in 2020, during his presidency, he was under constant siege, that there was constant attempt to harass him using the legal system, and it always comes up short.
And that with Joe Biden in the 30s, they are looking to do the same thing again to try to destabilize Trump before 2024. That's the feeling. And you know, look, I was somebody who thought that coming out of January 6 and now these hearings and everything that was happening in the world that Trump actually was facing some headwinds.
That there were Republicans who were thinking, you know, maybe, we should move on from this guy? And what I have seen in the last 24 hours is everyone snap back to defensive mode over Donald Trump because they don't like who is coming after him here.
The perception is that Joe Biden and Merrick Garland coming after Donald Trump. So, yes, I think there has been a huge backlash on this. And frankly, that's why I think it's pretty crazy that we haven't heard from the Department of Justice in the past 24 hours about exactly what's going on.
COATES: Will, you know, I wonder -- I wonder from your perspective, well, I mean, that's the Republican version of it as well and how it's viewed from the Democratic side though. I mean, is this likely to be a catalyst for people to turn out, to be more invested, to lean in more?
WILL JAWANDO, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL: Well, I think you are going to see it depends on your perspective. I mean, I think it's likely to motivate people on both sides. You know, look, as Democrats, we've been having a pretty good week and a half. You know, we've enjoyed the passage in the Senate, at least, of landmark, historic climate legislation and tax legislation and health care legislation, that finding one of Osama bin Laden's top aides.
A whole bunch of things have happened that are good. Passing and getting heath care for people who needed it, former first responders and alike.
But so this is obviously wasn't politically orchestrated because we would have liked to ride that out. I think, you know, as someone who worked in the White House who has submitted many things to presidential records who's been warned about it, as a lawyer myself, you know, I think it depends on your perspective here.
[22:35:02] But I can tell you this. That I don't think this search would've happened unless they think there's a reason to do it, and I think they are following procedure to the tee, and not saying anything because that's not -- that's what you do an investigation, you don't say anything you let the investigation play out.
COATES: Well, I'll tell you what, if they did not dot their T's, dot their I's and cross their T's -- if they dotted their T's it will be a whole different issue here. If they did not dot their I's and cross their T's, Scott, a whole different ball game that would be seized upon instantaneously.
There's already conversations from Congressman Jim Jordan to try to bring Merrick Garland before the judiciary committee at some point and to investigate further what's going on, but you also have this from another member of Congress, this time Elise Stefanik who tweeted, quote, "if the FBI can raid a U.S. president, imagine what they can do to you?"
But first of all, this logic to me is always odd because most Americans, one, aren't handling or mishandling classified documents.
COATES: And also, I mean, Scott, Americans all the time are having search warrants executed. That -- that's what happens. That's not necessarily routine that happened every single day, but it happens across this country. So why is this comparison being made? Is it a valid talking point to you?
JENNINGS: I actually, think it's a shallow talking point. I've seen a lot of people make it today. I actually think the more valid question is one you just raised, as you were coming back to me about crossing T's and dotting I's.
I mean, why would we -- why would we think the Justice Department or the FBI could mess up here. Because they have in the past, as it relates to Donald Trump. They were well-documented problems within the FBI within some of the warrants that were issued for Trump's people.
So, to me, that is what's fueling a lot of the skepticism of Republicans right now is, you say you're going to Mar-a-Lago, and the reporting is it's about documents and paper work. And you know, now, you've lawyers on TV saying well, obviously there is something else, and maybe it has to deal with January 6, and they just don't want to admit that.
Given what happened in the past, that's why and I know it's not normal for them to comment on investigations. But given what's happened in the past and given what's been documented, to me, because he is a former president, there is some transparency here that would reassure the American people that T's were crossed, I's were dotted, procedures were followed.
Because right now, we know nothing other than what Donald Trump has said on the record, which is that the FBI came to his house and took his stuff.
COATES: Will, on that point, again, somebody who could show --
COATES: -- I mean, literally the document of the search warrant is the person who has it. Right? That could be the former president actually offers. But, Will, and all this combined, I mean, you talked about what the Democrats wanted to ride in terms of their successful wave over the past several weeks.
We know what happened, of course, in the primaries and also the ballot initiative in Kansas. There is a lot of trajectories talked about on the roller-coaster that Democrats are set to lose the majority in one of the chambers of Congress.
Now, I have been on this roller-coaster before, I'm not a fan of them, no one really is. And yet, I do wonder if they are predictable but also, does all that's happened right now make the midterms that much more unpredictable?
JAWANDO: I think so. I think we are off script here. You know, normally, if you look at the arc of history, the incumbent president loses seats in the midterms. That's what happens. Right? So, I think that's the norm, but we are not in the norm. Donald Trump is not normal.
I think everybody will agree that the situation is not normal. It is unprecedented to have a former president's home searched. I think it was clear that he had documents that he took that he shouldn't have had. What's in them, what they said, what the investigations was about, we don't know.
Merrick Garland, former federal judge, nominated to the Supreme Court, is very careful and has been described as a micromanager. I know this was viewed. So, the question is, what happens, what does this do to the polls, I think it's going to motivate you, depending on which news station you turned into, what the spin says.
I think it could go either way. I know the January 6 committee has enlightened a lot of people about hearing from former Trump staffers and Republicans about what they thought happened, and why they thought our democracy was at stake, and there was a coup being attempted?
People are going to have to decide based on what information they are receiving, but I think to say exactly how this is going to go, it's too early to know, and I don't think we'll necessarily know how it plays out.
COATES: Well, look, the big lottery was already won about two weeks ago now. We don't have any more gambling left in us for the moment, but you know what? We're going to keep talking about it. Scott, Will, nice to see both of you. I appreciate it.
JAWANDO: Thank you.
JENNINGS: Thank you, Laura.
COATES: Well, we're going to keep bringing you new information on the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago as it comes in tonight. But also coming into CNN, primary election results from Wisconsin, And Minnesota and Vermont, and Connecticut. Stay with us.
COATES: All right, it's primary night in America, and CNN is following several major races in key states. The votes are coming in, so let's get right to it.
Here with me now, CNN political analyst and New York Times national political correspondent, Jonathan Martin, who is the coauthor of "This Will Not Pass."
Jonathan, I mean, look, the big race tonight of course is in Wisconsin, or as they say because I'm from Minnesota --
JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
COATES: -- Wisconsin, it's in Wisconsin --
MARTIN: Wisconsin. Wisconsin.
COATES: -- where there -- Wisconsin. With the GOP gubernatorial primary serves as you know, the latest run in the proxy war between Trump and, of course, Vice President Mike Pence.
COATES: I'm wondering, how do expect this all to go tonight in Wisconsin?
MARTIN: Well, you are right, all eyes are on that governor's race because it is a really important proxy war between Trump and Pence, in one of the most important states, I should add, on the presidential map.
You know, Wisconsin is one of those key battleground states that every four years, we see people spending a lot of time. You can see on a screen there that Trump-endorsed Tim Michels, who is a wealthy businessman, is enjoying a narrow lead.
Now there are still about 40 percent of the vote out, but right now, he does have a narrow advantage over the Pence-backed candidate, former lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch.
Look, so if Trump gets a victory there by backing Tim Michels, I think it would be an important feather in his cap.
I will just add one more note, Laura, and that is that Trump also endorsed further down the ballot in Wisconsin to unseat the sitting speaker of the Wisconsin state assembly, Robin Vos, who is a powerhouse in the state capital there, whose won transgression when it comes to Trump, at least, is that he's not been assertive enough for the former president and trying to overturn results at the last election. And so, because of that sin, Trump is trying to unseat him in the primary.
COATES: I mean, just think about that, not being assertive enough. You know, there is a sort of script that one must follow it seems at times. But also in Wisconsin, Jonathan, you got the Republican Senator Ron Johnson, he's up for reelection.
MARTIN: Right. Yes.
COATES: And he's facing minimal competition on his side. You already see with the projected it looks like the winner on that of course is going to be. There are a lot of questions about his efforts to push that fake elector plot, leading up to January 6.
Now, the Democrats for their part in Wisconsin, they can actually pick up the seat with a man named --
COATES: -- Mandela Barnes, who is lieutenant governor in Wisconsin.
COATES: And I'm wondering what you make of what's going to happen there.
COATES: There is going to be another race about the truth of the election. Is that going to be up on the ballot here again?
MARTIN: Well, I think, yes. I think the 2020 election will be central this election because of what Ron Johnson has said and done since then. But look, this race is also important for the future too. If Ron Johnson does win reelection, and the GOP takes control of the Senate, he is going to be one of the leading figures in the Senate investigating Joe Biden.
So, this is a really important race for the future of the Senate. It's also an important race for control the Senate.
MARTIN: There is basically two seats right now, GOP held seats on the Senate map. One is Pennsylvania, and one is Wisconsin, where Democrats feel like they have a chance to pick up a seat. And I think in Wisconsin, against Ron Johnson, look, it's a really -- it's a really evenly divided state.
There is history of closed presidential elections there, and I think you could see a very competitive race for the Senate this year between Mandela Barnes and Ron Johnson. I'll just add really quick here, you know, Mandela Barnes had a contested primary up until two weeks ago, when all the candidates running against him dropped out, sort of clearing his path against Ron Johnson.
It's a fascinating race. Young, African American, fairly progressive, although he's kind of shifted more to the middle here recently running against one of the real conservatives, sort of Trumpian firebrands in the Senate in this key, key battleground state in the heart of the Midwest. Were' going to be spending a lot of time writing, and talking and thinking about the Wisconsin race this fall, Laura?
COATES: My only issue to what you've since I'm from Minnesota, which is the true heart of the Midwest. I'll leave that -- I'll leave that alone and let this be about Wisconsin, momentarily. Thank you, Jonathan. I appreciate it.
MARTIN: No love for the cheese curds. No love for the cheese curds.
COATES: No, I love the cheese curds. And it is state (Inaudible).
MARTIN: All right.
COATES: But you can't tell a Minnesotan with the heart of the Midwest is and not include Minnesota, don't you know?
MARTIN: There you go. There you go.
COATES: Thank you very much. All right, Jonathan.
MARTIN: Hoffa (Ph).
COATES: You have a good night. Gosh. All right. Now Trump allies are engaged -- are enraged, not engaged, they might be engaged, I don't know. But they are enraged about the FBI search, and they want you to think that he is above the law. Is he? I'll make my case, next.
COATES: So, there is this phrase that keeps going over and over again in my hat. It came from former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER U.S. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: If 30 FBI agents can take over the house of a former president of the United States and probable candidate for president, what can they do for you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: So, there is something that's been bothering me about the statement, among many other things. It's not the first or last time I've heard it, or that we will ever hear it, but it's because it doesn't actually require one's imagination. It requires you to actually be aware of the reality. Every single day in this country, law enforcement executes search
warrants on residences, on businesses, everywhere they have probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime might exist. Sometimes, they get it right. Sometimes, they do get it wrong. But if the criteria has been met, and a judge has been convinced, the warrant is not only issued but executed.
Now on everyday people, by the way, whose names have never found their way on any kind of the ballot. So then, the novelty is not that it happened but that it happened to a former president. Now the outrage that has followed seem to suggest that it shouldn't ever happened to a former president because of political optics. The optic that it may be perceived as politically motivated.
I mean, is that the new standard in the nation of laws we are supposed to live in? Post-Watergate, perhaps the one thing the nation could agree on was that no one is above the law.
Now, I always took that phrase to mean that you would be subject in the same laws and perhaps inconveniences everyone else is. And your title, whether it's current or former, it wasn't some conferral of immunity or a guarantee of special treatment. If you broke the law, you ought to be treated like everybody else who broke the law.
Is the new standard now that as long as you've been a politician or you might one day consider running to be one, again, not that you are above the law, no, that's not it. It is just that you cannot ever be investigated or searched or questioned or charged. OK, I think I get it now. No one is above the law, but politics surely is.
Next, why did investigators search Mar-a-Lago? We are getting new details of what made them so suspicious.