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DOJ Moves To Unseal Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant; Armed Suspect Dead After Standoff With Law Enforcement; Key Inflation Measure Falls, But Still Remains Painfully High; Beto O'Rourke Curses At Laughing Heckler During Speech On Uvalde School Shooting. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired August 11, 2022 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Major developments tonight on the search at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. "The Washington Post" is reporting that classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items the FBI agents were searching for while on the property.
I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen. He was special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee in Trump's first impeachment trial. Also, CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser and Dave Aronberg, state attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida.
Susan, I almost butchered your name, so I'm going to begin with you on this very notion. I got to ask you. "The Washington Post" report is frankly breathtaking. I have to ask you, what is your reaction to the reports that they were searching for not just classified documents but those that may be related to nuclear weapons, not somewhere where it secured under the, you know, cover of the federal government but Mar- a-Lago? What's your reaction to that?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yeah, I mean, look, Laura, this is a very, very serious allegation. This is the kind of thing that government does not screw around about. And obviously, the idea of nuclear secrets being held in an insecure way at Mar-a-Lago is just extraordinary and certainly, you know, really changes the conversation in a significant way.
You know, we've heard three days of gaslighting from the former president and his supporters, right, about this as if it was, you know, merely a matter of, you know, some doodles on cocktail napkins while obviously classified nuclear information is a whole different ball game.
And really, it reminds me of the, you know, the story of the four years of Trump and the president of the United States himself being in some ways a national security threat. This is sort of another illustration of that.
COATES: Well, Susan, you mentioned the idea of nuclear secrets. That was the phrase you used. I want to be clear for the audience, what kind of documents, you know, could they be referring to? What would a former president have in terms of the possession of what they would've seen? Is it -- could there be documents -- is there any such thing as sort of a benign-related nuclear document?
GLASSER: Well, that's a good question. I mean, even things that you and I might considered to be benign, Laura, could also hold within it the secret, you know, some information that in the wrong hands would end up revealing something about U.S. sources and methods, for example.
There was one detail that really caught my eye in "The Washington Post" report, which was a source, a single source, they attributed to the fact that some signals intelligence was also possibly collected as part of the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago. That is the most top-secret kind of espionage that the U.S. has, eavesdropping potentially on foreign leaders. Again, extraordinary allegations.
COATES: It is extraordinary, if that is in fact what happened. Norm, I mean, if this is what we're talking about, if this is the type of document they were trying to retrieve and that they were somehow trying to -- it had to be in -- trying to negotiate with to get back, I mean, could this explain why authorities seemed so secure and not only getting a search warrant for a former president, but knowing the political risk was enormous?
I mean, this is really one of those cost-benefit analyses. Obviously, if it's nuclear information, that's going to outweigh a political calculus.
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right, Laura. We heard from Attorney General Merrick Garland today that the government doesn't execute these search warrants lightly and only when every step has been taken.
So, we know that there were conversations, we know there was an earlier subpoena issued, we know there are reports that a witness, an informant of some kind gave information that materials were still there. So, we know there were conversations. So, it seems like the government was left with no choice.
You know, as a former ambassador, I enjoyed a high degree of access to these documents, a security clearance. You get trained in these kinds of information about weapon systems, nuclear weapons, signals intelligence. That is the most sensitive stuff we have. And if the former president didn't turn that back over after being asked and subpoenaed, that is as serious as it gets.
COATES: I mean, Dave, on that point, the idea that you'd have to sort of cajole someone or have several meetings to say, here's what I want back, to me and I think to many people, just strikes you very odd that you would have to have the bargaining power, by the way, to be able to have to keep asking and have the DOJ request the information. That just strikes me, in and of itself, as why do you still have what has been asked to be given back? But if this is all true, Dave, if this is all true, does this also explain something about maybe the potential of an informant being compelled to tell investigators about what still is in the possession of the president? Does this go hand in hand now?
DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY: Laura, you had to have an informant because you had to have someone who knew there were still documents left over after the agents came and retrieved the previous boxes. And they had to know locations within Mar-a-Lago, the inner sanctum of Mar-a-Lago. I've been to that location before, Mar-a- Lago, and I don't anyone who has been up there to the office to look at the safe. I mean, I don't even know there was a safe there. So, we're talking about someone really close to the former president.
COATES: That's why they call it safe, of course.
COATES: That's why they called it safe, but go ahead.
ARONBERG: But, you know, sometimes you have the safe that's out there in the public, in the office or something, but this one -- and that's why you had to have something that's as vital as a national security secret, possibly nuclear information, because they're not going to do all this for love letters from Kim Jong-un.
And so, whoever exposed this is someone inside Trump's inner circle. That's got to be really bothering the former president. He demands complete loyalty, even though his loyalty is a one-way street.
COATES: And I also wonder, I mean, is this a matter of the National Archives sort of dotting every I and crossing every T and seeing in some sort of an inventory whether there is something that is not lining up in some way, and what you said as well.
Susan, I just wonder, I mean, the idea of the security. I don't know the average person, myself included, that we know, essentially, where these sorts of documents are kept. What does it mean to have them safely secured?
There's a reporting about the phone call made down to Mar-a-Lago. Hey, you've got to further secure whatever area you're talking about. What does this look like, the general security apparatus? If you had these documents, are they required to be kept and maintained in a particular way and clearance is the only way to access? Is that the theory?
GLASSER: Yeah, absolutely. That's a very important point, actually, Laura. It's not just like, well, it's fine to keep them lying around or, you know, Trump said in one of his many statements this week, well, we put a padlock on it, therefore it was okay. No.
You know, these documents are so close hold, especially anything concerning nuclear secrets. They are separate compartments known as -- sorry, facilities known as skips inside many government offices that are even more secure than the rest of the office complex. You're required to do things like leave your phones outside, you know, only access them in a special way.
In the past, there have been cases involving government officials and former government officials who did not safely secure those documents. I'm thinking of Sandy Berger, the national security advisor in the Clinton administration, who was fined and placed on probation for mishandling documents that he had -- was researching of his own documents after he left office.
And again, you know, it's not just enough to put them in a file folder and put a lock on the door. These documents, even inside a government office, are kept in the tightest, special security.
COATES: Norm, it strikes me as something -- you and I were having a similar conversation about the idea of this not -- there have been the prosecution, there has been the enforcement of laws like this. It's been enhanced, by the way, under the Trump administration with respect to classified documents more broadly.
I want to play this clip from Merrick Garland, the attorney general, from earlier today. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The department filed a motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Okay. So, if these documents are released, and we'll know more about this tomorrow at 3 p.m., what could they reveal? How much detail are we talking about? When we know all there is the know, the affidavit and support, will we have everything the judge had to make the decision?
EISEN: No. You'll get the search warrant. You'll get the attachments to the search warrant which probably will tell you which laws the government believes were shown to have been violated to the probable cause standard. And you'll get an inventory.
But we know, because classified is involved, that on that inventory document, which is also provided in this case to former president's lawyers when you have the execution of a search warrant, we know there will be some redactions.
You won't get the motherload of information, which is in the affidavit, and the other supporting documents. The Justice Department is not seeking to unseal that. That probably also has classified information and it identifies possibly that informant who they want to protect. So, that you will not get.
COATES: That's a really important point because if you think about that -- thank you all for being here because if you're looking for any insight on the next line of defense or political talking points that might come up, what's under the redacted portions of it? What's underneath the black lines? We've all seen this, we can all anticipate it because if you don't no longer have the idea of having there's no transparency on your side, what will be the next thing you say?
Susan, Norm, Dave, thank you so much.
Now, the real question, what are we to make of the "Post" reporting on the possibility that classified documents related to nuclear weapons may have been stored at Mar-a-Lago which, of course, is Trump's Florida resort in a state.
Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein and presidential historian Doug Brinkley are going to weigh in after this.
COATES: Tonight, there is bombshell reporting from "The Washington Post" that FBI agents were looking for nuclear-related documents when searching Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property on Monday.
Now, we don't yet know what they found, which, frankly, is just as important to point out. We don't yet know. But is this nation, once again, possibly on unprecedented ground because of the former president?
Joining me now to discuss, CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein and presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Glad to have both of you on tonight.
I mean Carl, I'll start with you because I feel like we are in the wild, wild west more often than not. I mean, the novelty of so much of what we've experience together over the past six or seven years is astounding. But nuclear documents potentially being within sort of the documents, not within the federal government's control but at Mar-a- Lago? I mean, the seriousness of the potential threat to national security information. I just don't know what to say. It is so concerning. What is your thought?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: My first thought is, let's find out exactly what those materials are. We do not know yet. But I tell you what I do know. If you go back to what I said on Anderson's show the other night, because I had spoken with someone in the highest level of intelligence, bureaucracy or establishment, the highest level through the Trump presidency, throughout those years, who said, look, these documents are of the highest magnitude, there is no question or Garland and the Justice Department would never have done this. And that's what we're seeing now. We need to wait for them to identify exactly what they say, what they are. But what we do know, and as this person I just talked to a few minutes ago, again, this is something of a magnitude, to use the word that came up in our conversation, that is deadly serious. And now, it is going to play itself out. All of us have to wait and see.
And what we know now is that once again, we have a president of the United States who has played fast and loose with the national security by not keeping documents secure, by not being a lawful president of the United States, by being someone who cannot be trusted to be the president of the United States.
That's what we're dealing with. And now, what we got to find out within the next few days is how grievous is what Donald Trump has done this time.
COATES: And yet, the reality is that the second highest number of votes went to him in the 2020 election. So far, a large part of our country and part of the electorate believed that he has done nothing wrong and this is a furtherance of a potential witch hunt.
But Doug, as -- of course, Carl is correct, the idea of waiting to see what actually comes out as we wait for the future. Let's look to the path for a second if we can because I want to know, is there any sort of -- any analogy? Have we ever seen a president accused of mishandling such critical information like this, Doug?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No. We are -- you know, the old word unprecedented, we can say it 100 times, it is upon us yet again. But, look, Merrick Garland is closing in on Donald Trump. But Trump has met a type of prosecutorial legal genius in Merrick Garland that he doesn't understand.
This is an atypical lawyer that Trump has kind of bumped around over the years, some New York D.A. that he has had battles with. Merrick Garland is everything Donald Trump isn't.
He is the epitome of integrity, educated, civil, cool minded, and only moves when he is forced to. Anybody who thinks Garland came in to be attorney general with the idea of raiding Mar-a-Lago and going after Donald Trump doesn't know Merrick Garland.
So, I think he has been kind of coy this week, got it done, did the press conference today. We will see what happens. But if this has something to do, which it looks like it does with Trump bringing nuclear documents, anything of a national security concern to Mar-a- Lago, refusing to give it up, we are dealing with a big, big time history moment here where the president of the United States is almost committing the kind of treason by having at a cheesy resort in Florida our key nuclear documents.
COATES: Do you agree, Carl?
BERNSTEIN: I don't think we're there yet, but I think what we know is that there are in Mar-a-Lago unsecured, have been for months and months and months, documents that the Russians, that the Chinese, that our foreign adversaries would love to have. That is the importance.
We are going to learn in a granular way what those documents are. Does it relate to nuclear weapons, nuclear codes? We do not know yet. What kind of -- "The Washington Post" is reporting that it has to do with something nuclear. That is certainly possible.
What we do know with more -- that we can go on with more authority is the magnitude and the importance of what Trump took with him. And that is something that no president has done before. And it goes hand in hand with his total disregard through his presidency for the national interest. We have a seditious president of the United States in Donald Trump. We have a constitutional criminal in Donald Trump.
And now, what we are seeing is we had a president of the United States capable of a kind of recklessness and selfishness at the expense of our national security. It is breathtaking. We are going to learn what those elements are, but we now have some clear definition of what the problem is this time with Donald Trump.
But your point, Laura, and Doug's as well is really, absolutely essential to understand. Seventy-seven percent of the people who call themselves Republicans in this country support Donald Trump and in such matter so far as this. That's more than a third of the electorate.
BERNSTEIN: And so, we need to also look at what this country is today in terms culturally, politically, and it is not what Democrats in Washington want to believe the country is because the reality is that Donald Trump is a power out of office that is absolutely huge, and we'll see how much power he retains as this goes forward.
BERNSTEIN: But what we are really in a place politically and culturally, and this argument is part of that.
COATES: I want to get to you, Doug, on this because I see you nodding your head. But I also mean, just the idea here, as part of the power, even if we don't know the nature of these documents as being nuclear, the reaction to the news of searching Mar-a-Lago was nuclear, politically speaking, and we had allies hammering the DOJ, the FBI about this. They called it a political hit job.
I mean, what do you make of this idea of the visceral reaction to law enforcement? How to contextualize that in terms of where we are politically in the marker this makes in our history?
BRINKLEY: Well, you're absolutely right, and I think that Trump did a very good job. Effectively, people like Sean Hannity and others have kind of getting on top of this. They were trying to blame Barack Obama for bringing documents which he never did.
They were trying to turn on Merrick Garland to being some sort of rogue Justice Department attorney general. It doesn't hold up. Merrick Garland doesn't operate that way. He's not operating in that kind of political lens.
The bottom line is the National Archives has been demanding this. Trump has known this moment could happen. He just didn't think Merrick Garland had the spine to do it.
And Trump very well -- you know, he doesn't email Trump, he doesn't use computers. He may have wanted these documents downloaded so he had a copy of them. Maybe as a nest egg. Maybe they had some monetary value to shop to somebody. Maybe to write a memoir. I don't know the motives of it, but it is deeply wrong. No ex-president is above the law.
And Merrick Garland is doing a great job of showing us that our Justice Department is serious and our FBI did a marvelous job of raiding there, getting what they needed, and now we will let the legal process play out.
COATES: Well, we shall see tomorrow, the deadline that the judge has imposed about whether the former president's team wants to oppose making the search warrant public. We will see what happens in this. It is obviously a game of chess.
Gentlemen, thank you. Nice seeing both of you, Carl and Doug.
BERNSTEIN: Good to see you.
BRINKLEY: Thank you.
COATES: Well, an armed suspect attempted to breach the FBI office in Cincinnati. This after posting a violent rant on Trump's social media platform, we believe. That's up next, and what the attacks says about the dangers law enforcement officers are facing as we speak.
COATES: An armed suspect attempted to breach the FBI's office in Cincinnati today. The suspect dead after an hours-long standoff with law enforcement. He appeared to post rants on Trump's social media platform called Truth Social about attempting to storm an FBI office. This all coming after the former president and Republican lawmakers criticized the FBI for its search of Mar-a-Lago this week.
The DOJ breaking its silence about the search with Attorney General Merrick Garland asking a court to unseal the warrant, citing substantial public interest. Let's discuss now with CNN contributor Garrett Graff. Garrett, it's nice to see you today. I mean, let's be clear, we don't yet know the singular motive of this attack on the FBI office. We do know the suspect did seem to encourage violence against the FBI online. And more broadly, Garrett, it does show that there are some real-world consequences at the prospect of violence against law enforcement today.
GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, and I think what we can see is that Donald Trump's call to arms and the irresponsible and reckless violence-motivated rhetoric of many members of the GOP at this time have some real-world consequences.
And that the extremism that started and was amplified in white nationalist groups and militias during Donald Trump's presidency, you know, coming most clearly to the foreground on January 6th is not over. This is a threat that we are continuing to live with and one that the Republican Party is increasingly embracing.
COATES: Speaking of threats, and before I get to Merrick Garland's statement, I want to ask you about the reporting we're learning from "The Washington Post" tonight, that the FBI was searching Mar-a-Lago for documents relating to nuclear weapons.
You actually wrote a book on nuclear weapons, and I'm wondering, what you make of the danger, the idea of sensitive information like this in a residence, let alone that of a former president.
GRAFF: Yeah, and nuclear secrets, you know, there's a wide variety of them, which I think is important to point out. I mean, some of these could be information about adversaries. Some of these could be about nuclear weapon designs. Some of these could be about our nuclear arsenals or our launch procedures, information all that the president would, of course, had as commander-in-chief and as someone who would have presumably been briefed in-depth on our nuclear procedures.
So, there's a variety of information that it could be. But nuclear information is in many ways the nation's sort of highest level of secret. It exists not just as classified information but actually as what is known also as restricted data and ESI, Extremely Sensitive Information. And those require special clearances and special handling materials. And it's something that very, very few members of even the highest ranks of the U.S. government ever get access to.
COATES: Well, thinking about that statement from Merrick Garland, the attorney general, I mean, if that -- again, we don't know, but if that's indeed when they were looking for, at least in part with the broader nature of classified documents, you know, normally the DOJ keeps silent about ongoing investigations.
I'm wondering, do you think that Trump's sort of the politicization of the DOJ and the allegations that is becoming that, is that what led to today's rare public statement?
GRAFF: I think what Merrick Garland felt and the Justice Department felt was that they couldn't maintain the normal quiet that we actually asked in our country in our democracy of the FBI and federal law enforcement when it is conducting investigations.
I mean, it's worth pointing out that the silence of the Justice Department and the FBI and the way that they only speak in court with criminal charges and indictments at the end of a case is actually an important part of protecting civil liberties in the United States, that you don't want the FBI actually becoming politicized and becoming weaponized against political enemies to smear them in cases short of criminal charges.
And so, I think one of the challenges and one of the ironies of this week is that actually the Justice Department was being respectful of Donald Trump in its silence through this week.
And Merrick Garland said in his very brief statement today that he was in many ways only speaking about it at all because the president himself had confirmed the search had happened, that the FBI's intention was to never mention that the search happened at all.
COATES: Well, be careful what you wish for because you just might get it, right? That's part of the lesson learned if you're the Trump team right now on this very issue.
Garrett Graff, everyone, thank you so much.
GRAFF: Always a pleasure, Laura.
COATES: Well, speaking of pleasure, gas prices are falling below $4 a gallon for the first time in months. But does it mean that we could see a relief from inflation?
And later, Beto O-Rourke getting into with a heckler at a Texas campaign rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O'ROURKE, FORMER TEXAS REPRESENTATIVE, TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: It may be funny to you (bleep) but it's not funny to me, okay?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Finally, some decent economic news. For the first time in months, the average price of gas in the U.S. is falling below $4 a gallon. That's down more than a dollar since the peak just this past June. And another key inflation measure fell in July after surging last month. But as we all know, every time we shop for essentials, prices are still painfully high.
I want to bring in Gene Sperling. He's a senior adviser to President Biden and coordinator for White House American Rescue Plan. Gene, good to see you this evening, especially amid --
GENE SPERLING, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Thanks.
COATES: -- of this very positive news, right? And all in, as you know, this is pretty positive news. Can you break down what this means for the economic recovery? I mean, is this a sign that inflation will cool down and soon?
SPERLING: Well, there's no question July was a very good month in terms of we had 528,000 jobs and we actually had zero inflation just for that month. And we saw, we obviously, as you just said, seeing gas prices now down over a dollar from 502 to 399. The most common gas price at a gas station in the country right now is actually 359.
We saw other things like, you know, appliances down, we saw air travel down, we saw rental prices down. But make no mistake about it, prices are still too high, food prices are still too high.
So, this is encouraging. It is encouraging that our job market is still so strong, 3.3 million jobs, 3.5% unemployment this year. And it's encouraging that you're seeing more and more signs that inflation is moderating, not just signs that it will moderate, but actually a little relief.
Again, you know, it's one month. We got to keep making progress. What the president is trying to do is make sure the things he can do administratively and legislatively to help ease the burden of pocket costs for American families.
We're doing everything we can, whether it's keeping to release the strategic petroleum reserve, to help keep more supply of oil in the global economy to his legislation that we hope will pass tomorrow that will reduce prescription drug costs, give a lot of people lots of ways to save energy costs as well.
COATES: Well, it's great news about the gas prices at the very least, but you're right to point out all the other areas that people are spending their money on and the things that are really impacting all of our pocket day in and day out. Looking forward to having maybe 11 more months like that in the total year.
COATES: But Gene, you know, there is actually some --
COATES: -- more good news for the president tomorrow. House Democrats are expected to push through a climate health care and tax bill after Senate Democrats passed it this past Sunday. There's been a little bit of news since Sunday, but the focus is still on this in terms of legislatively. Tell us what impact this bill might have for Americans?
SPERLING: Well, you know, I was starting to mention that. You know, I'm an old guy, I was working in the Clinton administration, that's how long ago that people started to say, why doesn't Medicare have the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices? Why are seniors, people with chronic illnesses, having to pay so much?
That's finally been achieved. It's going to cap out of pocket costs eventually at 2000 very soon. If you're in Medicare, you won't have to pay more than $35 insulin. That's good health care but that's also relieving some of the price pressures. About 14 million Americans, they're going to be able to continue to get health care at $800 savings. That puts more downward pressure.
And this historic climate change bill that we have, which is important just for what it means for the future of our planet, is also going to provide a lot of tax incentives for consumers, whether it's solar panels to the cars you buy to both do things that are more energy efficient, save money that way, but actually also get a tax incentive to do so. And then obviously, as we've seen, it's going to reduce the deficit another $350 billion, and that's going to put more downward pressure.
So, there's no question that the Inflation Reduction Act that pass tomorrow is going to be a positive step in directions from your pocketbook to climate change.
COATES: One can certainly hope that will be the case. It's not without some criticism of the normalcy of Washington, D.C., in that you never get everything that people want, some things are included that others do not, and some off on the cutting room floor, but this is certainly a form of progress.
But, you know, there is one area a lot of people are looking at, Gene, and that's the idea of mortgage rates. I mean, they're up to 5% now. And the fed is expected to raise rates yet again. Things are cooling off but the food costs are really high, housing costs, as you said, are high, rental costs are also high.
Tell me what work is there still left to do even in spite of the legislative victory so far?
SPERLING: Laura, let me be really clear. Our job market, our unemployment rate, the job growth, that is very strong. There is a lot more resilience in our economy. There is a lot more consumers with extra savings. That is strong. But we don't want for a second anybody out there to think that we are okay with where prices are.
You know, this is -- this is obviously a global phenomenon but we understand that is of little comfort to someone going through the grocery line. And food is an area that hits all Americans and that was not in the area we saw come down. And so, we know that there is more to do.
But our view is to try to give you a balance view. There is a lot of strength and resilience in the job market and economy. There are some good sides on inflation. But we are the first to get that prices are still too high and that's why the president's number one focus is have the back of working families. He knows right now their number one concern is continuing to get downward pressure on the prices they have to pay to live, and as he says, support their family with a little breathing room.
COATES: It's so true on that point. I mean, Gene, obviously, there are so many Americans who are working who still live paycheck to paycheck. And that was before the pandemic. It's certainly true now. And so, if the paychecks are getting stretched thinner and thinner on every day needs, obviously, there is still yet more work to be done.
Thank you for bringing us the good, the bad, and perhaps the hopeful coming down the road.
SPERLING: Yes, that's a good summary. Thank you so much.
COATES: And Beto O'Rourke calling out a heckler while discussing the Uvalde school shooting. And he did not mince words. We'll hear what he said, next.
COATES: The Democratic candidate for governor in Texas, Beto O'Rourke, confronting a heckler at a campaign rally. That was when he was talking about the Uvalde school massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'ROURKE: AR-15s. Hundreds of rounds of ammunition. And take that weapon that was originally designed for used on the battlefields in Vietnam to penetrate an enemy soldier's helmet at 500 feet and knock him down dead. Up against kids at five feet. It may be funny to you (bleep) but it's not funny to me, okay?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Joining me now is CNN political commentator David Swerdlick. David, it's good to see you, my friend. I have to ask you, I mean, what do you make of this moment? What is your reaction?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, SENIOR STAFF EDITOR FOR NEW YORK TIMES OPINION: Good to see you, Laura. So, I think it goes both ways for former Congressman O'Rourke. On the one hand, he shows his passion there, he shows that he cares, he shows that this issue isn't just a talking point to him.
Remember, the San Antonio -- excuse me, the El Paso Walmart shooting happened in his hometown where he was a congressman and city counselor. Remember, that right after Uvalde, he confronted Governor Abbott at a press availability. This means a lot to him, and I think that comes across clearly and sincerely.
On the other hand, the goal here is to win a hotly-contested gubernatorial race. And even though O'Rourke has closed Abbot's lead here, Governor Abbott still leads by about six points. I checked out the Real Clear Politics polling average. It's down from a double-digit lead.
And so, if you are the O'Rourke campaign and if you're former Congressman O'Rourke, you have to ask yourself, okay, on the one hand, am I igniting my base and driving turnout, am I showing people that I really mean what I say, or am I alienating potentially persuadable voters who may like some of the things that I have to say but who might think that I've gone over the top dropping an MF in that kind of situation?
COATES: Well, I doubt the swear word is probably the big issue with people. The idea, as you listed out, sort of the instances at which he was speaking about these issues, and we know how controversial this topic can be, the idea of the Second Amendment, the conflation of all these things, it is really fascinating to see how it actually goes.
But I do want to turn for a second because, David, I feel like you and I are always together when some sort of breaking news story is happening. We're learning right now that the former president, Donald Trump, has now provided a response to whether he would oppose the actual motion to unseal these documents.
He says he will -- his Twitter -- actually, through social feed, saying, not only will I not oppose the release of documents related to the un-American, unwarranted, and unnecessary raid and break-in of my home in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, I am going a step further by encouraging the immediate release of those documents, even though they have been drawn up by radical left Democrats and possible future political opponents, who have a strong and powerful vested interest in attacking me, much as they have done for the last six years.
So, there you have it. Of course, you wonder, would these be the final word or will his lawyers say, your thumbs may have typed that, but here's what we are going to say about this.
What is your reaction to his statement?
SWERDLICK: Well, it is not going to be the final word. It never is with former President Trump. Look, Laura, on the one hand, if he's not opposing the Justice Department's motion, I think that is good. The public, we in the media want to know as much as we can know about what the Justice Department and what the FBI are looking for with that search warrant.
On the other hand, this is a little bit of slide of hand (ph) on the part of the president if for no other reason that he or his lawyers presumably have a copy of the warrant, know what the FBI was searching for, and could just announce it. They have that right. Attorney General Merrick Garland, when he spoke today, said again that President Trump has that right as a citizen.
SWERDLICK: If he has nothing to hide, then I suppose he can come out and just say what they were looking for or what he potentially has. And I think, ultimately, the most harm done in this situation, and many others have said this, it is not whether we know exactly what the FBI was looking for or exactly what President Trump's legal team would do, but the notion perpetuated by President Trump --
SWERDLICK: -- still a little bit in that statement, still by leaders in the Republican Party that this was somehow foul play when, based on everything we know right now, this was duly authorized by a magistrate and duly executed search warrant by the FBI.
SWERDLICK: And this is something that happens all the time in America, that it is a former president, at his residence, obviously is extraordinary. But if we believe that no one is above the law, then that should include a former president and his residents if there is a proper warrant and if there is a proper search.
COATES: We will see what happens next. The president -- the former president has spoken.
Thank you, and thanks, everyone, for watching.
SWERDLICK: Thanks, Laura.
COATES: Our coverage continues.