Return to Transcripts main page

Don Lemon Tonight

Warrant: Trump Being Investigated For Possible Espionage Act Violations, Obstruction, Criminal Handling Of Docs; Search Warrant Receipt: FBI Seized 20+ Boxes From Mar-A-Lago, Including 11 Sets Of Classified Docs, Photos, Handwritten Note; FBI Investigating "Unprecedented" Number Of Threats Against Bureau In Wake Of Mar-A-Lago Search. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 12, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues with Laura Coates, who's in for DON LEMON TONIGHT.


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Thanks, Anderson. Nice to see you. Have a great weekend.

This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. I'm Laura Coates. And I'm sitting in for Don, on this very busy news night, frankly, after a very busy news week.

And now, we know what was behind the FBI's execution, of a search warrant, at Mar-a-Lago. But while we got some answers today, there are frankly even more questions, and we're going to get into some of those, tonight.

This afternoon, a federal judge, ordering the unsealing of the warrant that authorized that search, and a list of what the investigators removed, a la, the receipt.

Now, the warrant identifies three federal crimes, the DOJ is looking into, as part of a criminal investigation, including possible violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and criminal handling of government records.

Now, let's be clear. No one has been charged with any of these crimes, at this point. And we don't have any indication that's actually forthcoming. What we do know is that investigators removed 11 sets of classified documents, from Mar-a-Lago, which of course, is the home of the former President of the United States, Donald Trump, in Florida.

Now, those unsealed documents, they show that investigators seized one set of documents, marked "Top Secret/SCI."

Now, what does the SCI stand for? Sensitive Compartmented Information is one of the highest levels of government classification. And it also means a lot about who gets to see those documents. They're supposed to only be viewed, at a secure government location, by certain people, with that level of clearance.

Now, investigators also seized four sets of what are known as "Top Secret" documents, three sets marked "Secret," and three sets marked "Confidential." Now, in addition to all the classified documents, the FBI also took more than 20 boxes of materials, as well as binders of photographs.

The property receipt also lists the document about Trump pardoning Roger Stone, who was a staunch ally, who, of course, was convicted of lying to Congress, back in 2019. And agents also recovered material about the President of France.

That's the category of information. But what that entails, what specifically was on those documents, or within these photographs, or anything else? We don't yet know.

Let's turn right away to CNN Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez, and also Legal Analyst, Elliot Williams, a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Obama.

We also have Douglas London, with us, today, a former Senior CIA Operations Officer, and the Author of "The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence." Particularly apropos today, I should add.

Evan, I want to begin with you. Because, I want to know, what can we learn from this search warrant, and the receipts, about the case that they might be at least investigating, if not, maybe building?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, what this tells us is that this is a very serious case, obviously. This is a - these are the statutes that the agents gave to the judge, before they - when they sought to get permission, to do this search, on Monday.

And obviously, one of the ones that jumps out at us is the Espionage statute, which the way that one works, is it sort of bypasses the immediate defense that you're already hearing, from Donald Trump, and his allies, his legal team, which is, "Well, he declassified everything."

And what this statute talks about is essentially the misuse of what is National Defense Information. And so, that's one of the interesting things here. Because, there's other statutes that they could have used that, to say that they're investigating. But this is the one they went for, which seems to be a part of the lawyering that went in to this, at the Justice Department.

And clearly, the fact that, they emerged with 20 boxes of documents, after having all of this interaction, with the Trump team, going back 18 months, going there, back in June, and removing documents and information that were classified?

[21:05:00] Again, after the 15 boxes, which had classified information, they still emerged with 11 sets of documents that had various levels of classification, including the most secret, the most sensitive.

It really tells you that in the end this is what - they were after this, and they got what they were looking for. And now, they are going to try to figure out whether there was a crime involved, in keeping all these documents there.

COATES: I mean, Elliot, to Evan's point, first of all, I mean, one of the other comments you've been hearing, throughout the week, and actually since yesterday, was that the former President claimed that they were planting evidence, right?

Look, 20 more boxes, 11 more boxes, whatever it is? The idea of even planting that much information, of course, is absurd. Even if they - if there was any iota of evidence they actually did, which there is not.


COATES: But that sort of negates that notion as well.

But on the idea of those crimes that are mentioned in the warrant, obviously, you have to be able to attach to the warrant, something about a legal hook. You can't just say, "I'm curious. I feel like being a trespasser. I want to know what you got in your closet." It's got to be hooked to being legal.

But about these three federal crimes, can you help walk us through--


COATES: --really what this means? Because, Evan's right, when you hear Espionage, the Espionage Act, your immediate mind goes to spying, obstruction of justice, something else, the criminal handling of the government records. What does all of this mean?

WILLIAMS: Yes, right. I mean, I think people hear the words, "Espionage?" And it's an unfortunate name for the statute, frankly, in 2022. It was written 100 years ago.

It really should be the mishandling of government documents like people think sort of "James Bond" or "The Hunt for Red October," when they hear the word, "Espionage." But really, the gross negligence in the handling or storage of government documents, would - could violate the statute, there.

So, all three of these things, when put together in plain language, short of is the mishandling and improper keeping of government documents, at a high classification level, right?

So, think about when we talk about things that use the term SCI, secure - Sensitive Compartmented Information? This is information that if released, publicly, top secret information, would cause exceptionally grave harm, to the United States. That's at least one class of the documents that we're talking about here. And then, there are others that are sort of at a slightly lower classification level than that.

All three crimes, sort of, float around this idea of the mishandling, sharing, copying, perhaps distributing, perhaps, on making available to other people. We don't know, because we just haven't seen the affidavits yet. But that's, just looking at what the crimes might be, that's what I think they're sniffing around a little bit.

COATES: Where does intent come into this? I mean, could you say, "Look, I had no idea," or as to Evan's point, maybe "I declassified some aspects of it." Obviously, it's not just a form, you must declassify.


COATES: It's the information itself. And we have to have a track record, and some sort of paper trail that says that was done. We don't have that yet, right?

WILLIAMS: Yes. And again, it's going to depend on the statute. Like I said, the Espionage statute, the one I'm talking about there, there's one gross negligence intent level, there, where somebody who's just so reckless and negligent, in their handling of the documents could be charged with the crime. One of the others is willful.

And, we could do a whole semester of law school on the difference between grossly negligent, and willful. But it just depends on the statute.

COATES: Let's not on a Friday night!

WILLIAMS: Yes. Let's not in the four minutes we have here, let's not.

But needless to say, it just depends on the statute that you're charged with. And there's a few here, and the ones you have, all have, sometimes, different levels of intent. So, it just depends.

COATES: Let me bring in Douglas here, before you nod off during our law school lecturer, for a second, here. And it is a Friday night. And Friday night after quite the week!

But look, according to the search warrant receipt, the federal agents seized a set of "Top Secret/SCI" documents, four sets of "Top Secret" documents, three sets of "Confidential" documents, three sets of "Secret" documents.

And, of course, Donald Trump's Florida home, I mean, it might be obviously a members-only club. But that's not the level of security one would need, to house that sort of information, right? I mean, what kind of threat, are we talking about, that this could mean, if the most sensitive levels of information, and documents, are available, and possibly could have legs (ph)?

DOUGLAS LONDON, FORMER SENIOR CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER: Well, clearly a warrant can expose classified information. And we're speaking of three levels of classification. But SCI has a whole host of compartments, Special Access Programs, the military refers to it.

These are, you've probably heard the term, your audience, beget-list (ph), limited to a certain number of people, who are read into the program. So just having a Top Secret doesn't mean you can know how our satellites work, or how our eavesdropping information works, or where our most sensitive concerns (ph) are.

So, these compartments are carefully scrutinized and maintained. The danger is the exposure of that information can get people killed. You can get agents on the ground killed, you can certainly compromise the way we collect information.


So, speaking of SCIFs, which is a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, those are supposed to be created, to withstand acoustic attacks, or other forms of collection, technical and otherwise that hostile adversaries might use, which clearly is not going to exist, in Mar-a-Lago. But the warrants can get into that detail because they're unclassified.

COATES: Well on that - on that--

WILLIAMS: Hey, Laura?

COATES: I'm sorry, one second, Elliot.

WILLIAMS: OK, sure, go ahead.

COATES: On that point, I want you to weigh in, as I was going to ask you this question, because the lawyers, at some point, for Donald Trump, are going to have to evaluate, if there is ever a trial, if there were ever - if ever went past the search warrant aspect of it.

From what Doug just talked about, and the idea of just the level of security that one would have, to make sure these were not compromised, or our national security wasn't, what barriers are put in place? And does that - do the lawyers, for Trump, now have to essentially be ordained, with the level of clearance, in order to even view what has been collected?

WILLIAMS: Yes, that's exactly it. It's we've been doing this long enough that that was pretty much exactly what I was going to say.

The kinds of things that the Justice Department's going to consider is what you might call, I guess, aggravating factors, here. That's not really it. But it's just sort of things that make it worse, what was shared, what, how things were stored improperly, and so on.

And so, in terms of when you have - he used the term SCIF. There's all kinds of standards as to how thick the door ought to be, whether there can be windows, how you store paper, and so on. And if we're talking about storage, of documents, at Mar-a-Lago, how egregious was the misconduct or behavior-- COATES: Right.

WILLIAMS: --in storing these documents. And that's the kind of thing that prosecutors are going to be looking at.

COATES: Evan, I want to come back to you, in just a moment. But I want to follow-up with Doug on this.

Because, Doug, you were a senior counterterrorism official, during the Trump administration. And actually, as a part of that role, you observed a great many things. And you say that you had to be cautious, about what kind of information, or what information, would even land in Trump's lap. Tell me about that, and the why?

LONDON: Well, somewhat the irony that the former President kept all these documents is he wasn't much of a reader.

We had to write, for a style, in which he really would react, to graphics, images, pictures, with sort of catchy headlines or things that had something to do with him. So, we had to write through a certain way, to capture his attention, and try to maintain his interest.

When we were preparing these documents, we also understood that he had a somewhat limited attention span. And I don't mean to deprecate the President's intellect, but he just wouldn't focus on any one thing, for a long period of time, which is why the images, and if you see, on the documents and such collected, it speaks of photos.

I would have to imagine those are either photos from national technical means, such as satellites, which are some of our most sensitive technology, or images that might be associated with covert action activities, which also are extremely sensitive. Those would be code-worded information, so they can't use the code words, which themselves are classified.


LONDON: But he was a difficult president to support, in terms of trying to give him the information, he needed, while still protecting the way we collected it, so that he wouldn't, accidentally or otherwise, speak off the cuff, and mention something that an adversary could use, to track down, where we had an agent, or perhaps a new technical tool that we were using, in order to pull out information, from their computers, from ground-based photography, or what have you.


LONDON: So, it was challenging for us.

COATES: I mean, the way you describe it - and just the idea, just to remind people that SCI level? That's information gathered through our Intelligence mechanisms. That's why, it's so possibly compromising and harmful.

But Evan, to that point, I mean, I guess many people hadn't really thought about it, talking about the documents, and the classifications.

PEREZ: Right.

COATES: But the idea of photographic and binders and information, that's visual? When I think about national security, in part, I think there's even a greater risk, when you have the visual cues that are possibly there.

And if we take a step back, for a second, Evan, and we look back at the Trump presidency, which you have followed, and been - have done phenomenal reporting, throughout, in terms of concerns about Intelligence, how does this fit into a larger pattern that you saw?

PEREZ: It fits perfectly into the pattern. And I think Doug is referring to exactly the thing.

He had a history of going to Mar-a-Lago, waving around documents, important documents, very sensitive documents, in social settings. There was the incident, in the White House, where he, perhaps inadvertently, told the visiting Russians, about an operation that was dependent upon Intelligence, from the Israelis.

These are things that a president should never do. But, what it tells you is a lot about, Donald Trump, as a president. He loved the accoutrements of being the president. He didn't necessarily want to do the things that he needed to do, to do the job.


And that goes through all the way through his position now, as former President. He goes to Mar-a-Lago. He feels these documents, and these things, are just accoutrements that were part of it like mementos, of his time, as president.

And over 18 months that the government was trying to retrieve some of these things, he seemed to never really appreciate that this was serious. And that's the reason why we get to the place, where we are now. It is one of those things where there's a history.

And there's a history of Mar-a-Lago too, where you have foreign nationals, who were prosecuted, for trying to get in there. We knew, and everyone knew that the security and the protocols, for entering Mar-a-Lago, were not what they should be, certainly not, if you're going to be storing--

COATES: Right.

PEREZ: --these sensitive type of materials, there.

COATES: And Doug, to the point of, I think, many people were asking the same question, because you've heard the statement of, and I reference it, like in "The Office," when Michael Scott says, "I declare bankruptcy," as if that's how one actually declares bankruptcy. There's actually a process, by which you have to do it, and you can't just do this.


COATES: But Doug, when you - Douglas, when you think about this, I mean, what is that process, for declassifying documents? Because, if you are the, President of the United States you could, declassify something, right? You could mention it, at a podium, for example. But you could also have to go through a process.

There's something about sort of the stamps, declassification, the information itself. What does that process look like to officially declassify a document?

LONDON: Well, it's certainly not double-secret probation. Even the President has to have a paper trail. So, it's a documented request of the agencies that own the information, might have originated the information, and in other stakeholders, to see what is the potential damage.

And this did occur. And you might recall, in President Trump's last year of office, there was discussion in the media, about the President interested in declassifying information, about certain Russian issues, Russian details, trying to prove his point that the Russians didn't meddle in the elections.

And Dr. Haspel, at the time, did take the right stand, and she stood up against it, because it was part of an official process.

Once you declassify information, as you all know, as journalists, everybody could get it. It's not just declassified for the president. It's declassified for the world, which is why there is a paper trail.

And that paper trail and the process includes comments, because ultimately, the President makes the decision. But it's an informed decision. So, if it was agency-owned information, NSA, they would say, "Here's the consequences. Here's the impact," to ideally try to sway the President making the decision to make the right call.

COATES: So, that's all included the comments. That's - that's interesting to see, what there would have been, if there were a paper trail. I mean, I just can't imagine, Evan, the idea of being able to have a FOIA request for formally Top Secret information--

PEREZ: Well--

COATES: --if that really was declassified.

And, on that point, I mean, we're - I don't want to miss this very important point, that part of this discussion, this week, about this search warrant, and what they've reclaimed, and were able to recover and claim? There's been an unprecedented number of threats, in the wake of that search--

PEREZ: Right.

COATES: --including threats against the two agents, who signed the court documents. First of all, why did people know the names of those two agents? Because, it was supposed to have been redacted. PEREZ: It was redacted. It was redacted, by the court, when the document was released.

However, before it was released, by the court, before it was officially released, someone, I think, we know who, managed to get it, to right-wing news organizations. And at least one of them published a document, in total, including the names of those - of those federal agents, who were simply doing their job. They went there to do their job. And then, the former President's social media platform, pushed out that information.

So now, it's everywhere, among his supporters. And of course, predictably, those people are now having to be protected, because there are threats, against them. This is that - we knew exactly where how this was going to play out. And this is exactly what happened.

But just real quick, on the last point, you were making. We saw this, by the way, in the Trump presidency that Trump put it - went on Twitter, and said, "I declassify" something.

Well, what happened is the Justice Department, under Trump, went to court and told the judge, "That's not how it works. It's not - it doesn't work that way." And in the end, that information was not declassified, because there is the process that Doug was just describing, and it was not completed.

So, at the end of the Trump presidency, in the end, everyone understood that it just doesn't work that way.

WILLIAMS: But you know what, Evan?

PEREZ: You can't just write--

WILLIAMS: Even look, here's - an important point not to miss here is that even if he did, even if he'd gone through, and declassified the documents, each of these three statutes that we're talking about here?

PEREZ: Right.

WILLIAMS: None of them says anything about classification.

PEREZ: Exactly.


WILLIAMS: It's the mere possession of these documents, these TS/SCI and Classified and Top Secret, and possibly sharing them or copying them or whatever else. So, even if the President had gone through, with declassifying, let's give him that, and say that he did, these three statutes could still have been violated.

PEREZ: Right.

COATES: Look, when you thought - yes.

PEREZ: Exactamente! COATES: When you - ooh, is this Spanish time?

PEREZ: I know.

COATES: Because I will bring mine in too. Hold on a second. I love it.

Let me tell you something. No matter how this flowchart goes, as you've articulated, it seems to constantly end in wrong, wrong, wrong--


COATES: --problematic, national security issues. Of course, we'll talk more about this. Thank you, gentlemen. Nice to see you, tonight.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

PEREZ: Great, thanks.

LONDON: Thank you.

COATES: Federal agents seizing classified documents, DOJ investigating possible violations of the Espionage Act, and obstruction of justice, and criminal handling of government records, and at the center of all of that, a former President of the United States! Let the gravity of that sink in.

I'll talk about it next with the former Defense Secretary, William Cohen.


COATES: All right, look, the Mar-a-Lago search warrant we've been talking about for days now that's been sort of picked at, and wondering what is in it? Guess what? As you know, it's now public.

And we're learning the FBI actually recovered documents from Trump's home. I'm talking 11 sets of classified documents, including some classified at the tip-top highest level.

Now, there's so much to talk about, with the former Defense Secretary, William Cohen. So glad he's here with us today. I've been waiting to pick his brain, about these issues.

Secretary Cohen, it's good to see you.


But I have to ask you, I mean, first, I wonder what your impression was, and your reaction, to the idea that there could be any reason, why a former president would need Top Secret/SCI materials, at their private residence, following their term in office, if ever?

SECY. WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY, (R) FORMER U.S. SENATOR: There's no plausible reason, for the former President, to have this kind of information, in his presence, or in that of his home.

Anyone involved in Intelligence matters knows how serious this is. Going back to my own experience, at the Defense Department, here is - the Defense Department spends almost $800 billion a year. With that money, we recruit, we train, and equip, the men and women, of our military, to be the finest fighting force on earth.

We - they give our - they give up their limbs and lives for us. We should never do anything that compromises their security in any fashion. That's the reason for the top-level top-secret SCI compartmentalization.

So anytime a person, a president, in particular, who's handling this information, he must be sensitive to the fact that anything he does, or she does, could compromise the security, of those young men and women, who're putting their lives on the line, every day. And I think that's what is so stunning about this revelation.

And it's been precedent - there has been precedent. The first week, I think that he got in office President Trump waived the classification requirements for his daughter and son-in-law. The Intelligence Community said there's a potential conflict of interest. They're still doing business. They could be exploited, by having access to information. He said, "Forget it, I don't care."

And so, he's been fairly cavalier throughout his four years in office, and certainly, since that time, and taking advantage of a knowledge he had, and knowledge which he should not be in possession of, right now.

COATES: I think it's so important, the word choice, you use, Secretary Cohen. You've spoken about the information.

There has been such a focus and emphasis on this specific document, the sheets of paper, the materials, themselves, as if there is but one source, or way, in which someone could evaluate, and look at this. The idea of the information, and what that could do, and how it could travel, I think, is so important. I'm glad you pointed it out.

So, speaking of that information, and how the material is normally handled, I mean, even at the top levels of government, even those that have these top-level security clearances, that didn't mean that everyone no matter what could view at their leisure, whenever they felt like it, these documents, right? There had to still be a process, for the reasons, you spoke of, right?

COHEN: I went through that process, like everyone else, at the Defense Department where top-secret information was given to me, usually, in the presence of someone from the CIA, DIA. And I sat there, and read it, devoured the information, handed the information back, so they could put it in a very safe place. So, that was the procedure that we operate under.

I have to say, in this particular case, information is power. And that's the reason why adversaries and, sometimes, even Allies, want access to our information. And so, a former Soviet Union - a Russia, a China, or other countries can look and say, "Where are the weaknesses, in the United States?"

Let's talk about nuclear weapons. The U.S. has what we call a triad. We have a three-legged stool in terms of our security. We have land- based ICBMs, sea-based, and we also have our Air Force.

The Russians are certainly looking to see what, is the state of repair, or disrepair, of those systems. We know the ICBMs are kind of getting a bit old. What are their capabilities? How could we intercept them? How could we compromise them?

So, every method is used, to try and assess our capabilities. We do the same. That's the purpose, we have so much devoted to gathering information, so we can say, "How are we doing? How do we measure up? What kind of advantage does the adversary have, so, we can do the best we can to protect every citizen in America, but our people or one (ph)."

COATES: So, I mean, just given what you've described, I'm thinking, the only safe place is the equivalent of a fortress, of some kind, that allows the information to be only viewed, and seen, or absorbed, by those who have that fundamental trust, of our national security interests, and in our best interests.

I mean, we know that there have been multiple security concerns, at Mar-a-Lago, over the years. I mean, like in 2019, remember there was a Chinese business woman, who was arrested, after trespassing onto the property. She had a flash drive containing malware, electronic devices.


I mean, could these documents have ended up in the wrong hands? I mean, it's not as if this was the equivalent of the kind of fortress you would describe.

COHEN: It's nowhere close to what is required, and what is normally, ordinarily pursued by every president in our history.

Your prior guest pointed out that, let's assume that the former President declassified all of that information, which is unlikely, but assume that for the moment? All of that information is still very dangerous, in the hands of anyone, who means us ill. It's the same information that we have, whether you call it "Top

Secret/SCI," whether you call it "Confidential," the information itself is still very dangerous, in the hands of those who don't mean well for us. And it could be in the hands of our Allies as well. And hypothetically, those Allies could be penetrated by adversaries.

It's not something unusual in the Intelligence world, where you just don't know, who has access to your information. That's why we take such great measures, to make sure only those, who need to know, do know.

And that information, when the President leaves office? Everything in his possession, it's not his. It's the people - the property of the American people. And there's a way for him, to get it back, for his library, as such, in the future. But there's no reason why he should be allowed to have top secret information in his possession, under any circumstances.

COATES: Secretary Cohen, I had to say, as you're speaking, I was having a calendar ago in my mind, and thinking, look, he has not been the President of the United States, since 2021, January, when there was the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

It's now August of 2022. We're talking almost prospectively about what could happen, if this were to fall, in the wrong hands. And I can't help but wonder if we are still in the prospective, in the future, as opposed to the past tense. I certainly hope that something was deterred, and it remains contained, to protect our national security interests.

Thank you so much, for your time, tonight.

COHEN: Glad to be with you. Thank you, Laura.

COATES: Man, I mean, Top Secret, Confidential, SCI? What are all these acronyms mean? And what do they mean to our own security?

The former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, he tells us next.



COATES: There's been a lot of focus tonight on the types of classified documents that were seized, by the FBI, during its search, of Mar-a- Lago, this week. Now, one set of documents marked Top Secret/SCI, four sets of "Top Secret" documents, and three sets each marked "Secret" or "Confidential."

I'm going to get some perspective, right now, on all this, from CNN's National Security Analyst, James Clapper, of course, the former Director of National Intelligence.

Can there be a better person to help us understand the enormity of what we're talking about, Director Clapper, I have to say, I mean, what was your reaction, to just learning that, I mean, as a former Director of National Intelligence, that these classifications, and these document types, were even at a non-secure location, let alone that of a residence, of a former President? How serious is this to you?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, for me, Laura, it's extremely serious, having spent 50 years or so, in U.S. Intelligence.

And when I think about how hard it is, to collect sensitive information that our policymakers need, and how important it is, to protect sources, and methods, and tradecraft, and when you see the sort of the cavalier approach, to harboring this information? It is really appalling. So, this is another case that is stunning, but not surprising. And, I think, you spoke to this, about earlier, about when you step back, and think about the magnitude, of what's potentially at stake, here.

And I say, I have to say that we - even though we know, the listing, in a property receipt standpoint, of what the FBI seized, we still don't know the substantive content, of these documents. But simply, the fact that they are classified, as they are, is an indicator of the seriousness, of the potential breach, here, of U.S. national security.


CLAPPER: So, as a lifelong practitioner of Intelligence, this is, it's - this is really serious.

COATES: On the point, you mentioned, about the idea of gathering it? I guess I hadn't thought about the prospect, of how this might make it that much harder, to collect Intelligence, because there might be thoughts that it might end up, in the wrong person's hand, or be used, in some nefarious way, potentially, or the idea of how this looks, to our Allies.

I mean, one of the categories of information that they said, involved, it was an item recovered with material about the President of France. We don't know what that is, to your larger point. We don't know about the contents of these documents.

But what impact do you see this having on our relationship, or at least the perception of the United States, among our Allies?

CLAPPER: Well, it can be quite, quite serious.


This is somewhat reminiscent of the revelations of - by Edward Snowden that had nothing to do with so-called domestic surveillance, but did compromise, and expose our Intelligence capabilities, and our Intelligence knowledge, of foreign countries.

So, we don't know that whatever this is, about the President of France, whether it's an Intelligence document, or something else. But this is - it's not helpful, certainly.

And, again, I go back, to how appalling this whole situation is, given the apparent lack of security, that was applied at Mar-a-Lago, and the - which is kind of a semi-public facility, and people in and out of there, all the time. And so, you have to wonder, that information or what else might have been compromised.

One other point I want to make, Laura, about the President's authority, to summarily declassify. There has been reporting, from one outlet, about the potential presence of nuclear-related material, in those holdings.

Nuclear material is governed by a different set of laws. Starting with the Atomic Energy Act, I think, of 1946 is very, very restrictive, and presidents don't have carte blanche authority, to declassify nuclear- related material. So, I think that's an important point. Now, I say that not knowing whether nuclear material is among those holdings.

COATES: That is such an important point. And I'm glad you've raised it, because we are talking about this, as this big under - under one big umbrella, of the idea of, confidential or classified materials.

But there is nuance in each of that, and if - it comes down to the idea of which is still I think, probably the most shocking that there would be a former President, who felt entitled, to have a going back- and-forth, and to any degree, of documents that were asked for, by our National Archives and beyond.

Director Clapper, thank you being a part of the show, tonight. I appreciate it.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: Really kind of stunning, when I think about that, the idea of what authority the President would have, and a former president, at that, and what statutes really are governing it.

Look, the FBI is warning of an unprecedented number of threats, against the Bureau, a day after an armed gunman, tried to breach the Cincinnati field office. There's new disturbing details about that suspect, next.



COATES: The FBI warning they're investigating an unprecedented number of threats, made against the Bureau, all in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago search. Their warning coming, as we're learning more details, about the armed suspect, who was fatally shot, in a standoff, just yesterday, after trying to breach the FBI field office, in Cincinnati.

Sources telling CNN that the suspect was previously known to the Bureau, and as CNN's Brian Todd reports, a social media account, with the suspect's name, made increasingly violent posts, after the FBI search, of Mar-a-Lago.


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 seem to fixate on revenge, for the FBI's 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 were pushing that rhetoric? They knew it, they knew what would happen. And clearly, they made the decision to go forward.

TODD (voice-over): Also, on Shiffer's account, the user encouraged others, to go to gun and pawn shops, to quote, "Get whatever you need to be ready for combat."

When another person responded to the user, saying they'd sent 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 (voice-over): 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 account's user claimed that 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 that I have seen already people talking about, and maybe fantasizing about, as their potential trigger, might be a potential arrest or detention of Donald Trump.


TODD: And that means 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 been talking to several agents, since the Mar-a-Lago raid. He says, they're telling him, they are now taking special precautions, for their own safety, as well as for the safety of their families.


COATES: Brian, thank you so much, for reporting that.

Democrats are getting a big win, today, as well, passing a major bill, after months of negotiation.

And, at the top of the hour, Fareed Zakaria takes us through the unsealed warrant, for the Fed search, of Mar-a-Lago. [21:50:00]


COATES: Tonight, the House is sealing a crucial win, for Democrats, and President Biden, after months of negotiations, voting to approve the Inflation Reduction Act.

The landmark climate tax and health care package includes billions of dollars in climate programs, including tax credits for electric vehicles, and could reduce U.S. emissions by 40 percent, by 2030.

The bill would also allow Medicare, to begin negotiating drug prices. It would cap the price of insulin at $35 a month, for those on Medicare, and it would extend the Affordable Care Act subsidies.

All of this while requiring large corporations, to pay a 15 percent minimum tax.

Now, every Democrat, in Congress voted, in support of the bill, with equally unanimous opposition, from Republicans.

President Biden tweeting, after the vote saying, "Today, the American people won. Special interests lost." Biden is set to sign the bill, next week.

Up next, espionage, obstruction and removing government records, the warrant for the FBI search on Mar-a-Lago is out. And Fareed Zakaria tells us what he thinks, after this.



COATES: Our top story, tonight, the Mar-a-Lago search warrant has been unsealed. Investigators removing 11 sets of classified documents, at Trump's home, including one marked "Top Secret/SCI," one of the nation's highest levels of classification.

The warrant identifies three federal crimes the DOJ is looking into, as part of its investigation, including possible violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records.

I want to bring in Fareed Zakaria, Host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."

Fareed, it's nice to see you, right now. And I would love it, if you can try to help us put this into perspective, here.

I mean, you've got an FBI warrant, with all these different sets of secret documents, including the highest level of classified material, not recovered in some secure location, but in the President of the United States - is a former President's own home.

And there are potential violations of the Espionage Act, which we know perhaps might be a bit of a misnomer in that it's not synonymous with spying, of course. But how do you put this into perspective?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: It's a very difficult challenge that Biden administration or the really, it is the Department of Justice, and the professionals, in the Department of Justice, are facing, because, clearly, there are potential violations of the law. Some of these are minor.

Let's be clear that many officials, many government officials do mishandle classified documents. And the Department of Justice takes it all very seriously, as they should.

But, there's no allegation that these people have, committed some - intentionally done something, to harm the national security of the United States. Often, they're just being careless in a way that they shouldn't be, with highly sensitive material.

But here's the challenge, which is, even if all these things are true, you're dealing, here, with a political reality that you cannot avoid taking into account. This is Donald Trump.

This is a man, who millions upon millions, tens upon millions, of people, in the country, adores, support and think there is a conspiracy, against him, by a bunch of very smart urban liberal lawyer types, who are out to get him, right?