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Online Prices Dropping; President Biden Signs CHIPS Act Into Law; FBI Searches Trump's Mar-a-Lago Home. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired August 09, 2022 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thanks for your time today on a very busy INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you tomorrow.

Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Former President Trump is calling it a strange day. Historians will call it unprecedented. Just hours ago, the FBI search of Trump's Florida home sent shockwaves through the nation and the halls of Congress, agents hauling off boxes of items.

And CNN has learned this is all tied to the federal investigation into alleged mishandling of classified White House documents at Trump's Florida property. Key Republicans are questioning this move by the DOJ, including his former Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump supporters now gathering outside his residence, uniting around those claims that this is a Justice Department engaging in political persecution. But we know a federal judge had to sign off on this search warrant. It wasn't just the FBI acting on its own.

And before it was even in front of that judge, the highest levels of the DOJ, including the Trump-appointed director of the FBI, likely had to approve the action. We also know that the FBI met with Trump's legal team in June about White House documents that were being stored at Mar-a-Lago.

So the key question in this mystery now is, what changed between that June meeting and yesterday? It was big enough to compel the FBI to move.

CNN's Leyla Santiago is live outside Mar-a-Lago.

Leyla, you're learning more about the timeline and what led up to this search. Fill us in.


I think it's important to go all the way back to the beginning of the year, January, where we start to see this timeline unfold, when we know that President Trump's team was interviewed by the FBI. And that's when they really started to look into what was a lot of records believed to be here at Mar-a-Lago.

The Nat -- excuse me -- the National Archives contacted Trump back in May about those important documents that had not been handed over. So that takes you back to may of 2021. Then you go to January, where the Archives, who they are, by the way, in charge, responsible for sorting and collecting presidential records.

In January, they retrieved 15 boxes from here in Mar-a-Lago at the former president's primary residency, and we understand that that included some classified information from that trip. Now, obviously, after that, there were several other incidents that sort of led all the way to June.

But I do want to go back to that June 3 date that you mentioned off the top, Ana, because that is something we have recently learned about. We have learned that, on June 3, four investigators met with at least two Trump attorneys. We understand, according to sources familiar with the investigation, that they even had some sort of interaction with the former president himself. He greeted them.

Apparently, they were shown to the basement and there was some sort of -- something was put on padlock there. That was June 3. Now, let's fast-forward to where we are this week. Then, yesterday, we learned that the FBI executed a search warrant here at Mar-a-Lago. We learned this because the former president announced it himself.

And what we have gathered as far as the details from sources close to that investigation is that they were sort of targeting the personal quarters, as well as the offices related to that investigation into those presidential records, which does also contain classified information.

So that is where we got to yesterday, after several developments over the last year led to this. And here we are today, where I can tell you, having been here, it's pretty quiet over at Mar-a-Lago. But, here, we have certainly seen how this has kind of revved up the base. And you have a lot of Trump supporters out here waving flags, and wanting more answers as to why and how this happened on -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK, Leyla, thank you for setting that foundation and really filling in the details, the timeline for us.

Let's discuss all of this now with former federal prosecutor Shan Wu, former FBI senior intelligence adviser Phil Mudd, and CNN contributor and author of "Watergate: A New History" Garrett Graff.

Great to have all of you here with us.

Shan, let me start with you.

Prior administrations have had Presidential Records Act violations, right? And it's a very high bar to bring criminal charges for mishandling of classified documents.


So, what does that tell you about you know what may have led up to this search warrant being executed?


Well, I think it tells me two things. The first, it's kind of low- hanging fruit for the Justice Department, because, unlike a more complex constitutional question -- let's talk about disqualification later -- this one, if the documents are there, and they're classified, for example, they shouldn't have been there.

So if you find them, that's a pretty straightforward prosecution for them.

CABRERA: But do you think that the DOJ would really put its neck out there on just that?

WU: I think they would, because it's a very easy case to say yea or nay on. And it does not involve the greater complexities in terms of whether to charge or not.

And, again, if they find it, it's low-hanging fruit. I think this is consistent with Garland's approach towards these things. This is something that he could say, yes, follow the law, follow the evidence. If it's there, let's present it to a judge to see if there's probable cause. We may find it there.

And if we find it there, then we move on from there. Now, having said that, it would certainly require a lot of careful grilling at the department through its bureaucracy, and it has to be approved at a very high level, because it's the most sensitive of sensitive investigations.

CABRERA: And so let's talk about the people at the top who would have probably had to give the green light for this, FBI Director Chris Wray, Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Phil, what does their history, what we know about how they conduct themselves tell us about the threshold here?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I can tell you about their history. And I can give you a quick judgment, Ana, about what that tells me about what happened yesterday.

If you look at these two individuals, you're looking at Chris Wray, who went through an incredibly turbulent time at the FBI, obviously after James Comey and with President Trump accusing the FBI of politicization. FBI agents and employees wanted Wray to be more vocal in defending the bureau. He was not. He kept a low profile.

You look at Merrick Garland. Democrats wanted him to be more out front on this investigation. He knew that, in the previous years, the Department of Justice had been attacked for things like the Hillary Clinton investigation. He was below the radar.

So, two career professionals, Wray and Garland, decided to come out from below radar and take the most consequential political move the department could make in years. Let me conclude by saying one thing. I do not think that, based on that partly, this is solely about classified documents.

I think it's about classified documents that somehow relate to an ongoing investigation. Just finding secret documents in Mar-a-Lago to me, Ana, is not enough for Wray and Garland to say, we want to take an unprecedented step. I don't think so.

CABRERA: Garrett, Trump has compared this move and all these tweets, the statements he's putting out on TRUTH Social -- again, this is a legally approved federal law enforcement search, but he's comparing it to the criminal Watergate break in.

As the Watergate expert here, briefly just fact-check that for us.

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I mean, it's hard to count the number of different ways that this is different than five burglars breaking in illegally to the offices of a political opponent, as Richard Nixon directed his plumbers unit in the summer of 1972 to do.

However, I do think it is worth talking about sort of the shared challenge that investigating the president brings to the Department of Justice. And I think that that's where, both in Richard Nixon's case and in Donald Trump's case, as a former president, I really have to disagree with Shan here, which is, this would not be a straightforward case for the Justice Department to be pursuing on its own.

I really agree with Phil that there must be more underlying information about these specific documents and why Donald Trump took these specific documents that the Justice Department must be concerned about.

I mean, one of the challenges of the security classification system is the extraordinary discretion that presidents themselves get over declassifying information.

So the U.S. government classifies all kinds of information, important and not, and the simple fact that Donald Trump had in his possession some classified material would not be something that you would typically see the Justice Department go after, particularly and ironically because of their decision in 2016 to not indict Hillary Clinton for her mishandling of classified materials, that actually that decision raises the bar on the evidence needed to pursue criminal charges in a case like this.

CABRERA: What do you think, Shan?

WU: I don't think that's how Garland thinks.

I mean, I totally agree with both of you that it's not going to be like he took mementos out of his office. I think it probably does involve the classified documents.


But I think Garland's approach would be he would not be saying, hey, we need something more here. It's got to be connected to something else, Jan 6, something like that. If that's there, great. But I think if it's classified and his people bring to him the point and bring to Wray that this is classified information, it's being mishandled, we have tried to negotiate with them -- it's not like they just swooped down on them.

Something happened between June and now.

CABRERA: So you think there was like a negotiation?

WU: Oh, yes.

CABRERA: Because that's my question. Why wouldn't they just ask for the documents? Why wouldn't they subpoena the documents? Why go in and execute a search warrant?

WU: Yes, I think, from the reporting, they did ask at this meeting in June.

Something happened since then, I think, that destroyed their trust that they were going to get them or that they're going to be in good shape when they get them. My concern would be, I think they probably should have moved earlier on this, because you basically have had the fox guarding the henhouse at this point.

CABRERA: And so, timing wise, I guess, Phil, I wonder also if the FBI would have to know the contents of these documents, if they could have been tipped off by, I don't know, a witness or somebody who would give them insight into what was in these documents in order to get those warrant -- this warrant for the search?

MUDD: Typically, that's right.

You're not going to make this move unless you have a high bar, and I'm putting that over 90 percent, that you're getting classified information. That's step one. That that classified information is significant, that is step two.

For example, it's not just that he took documents related to a conversation with the French president. That doesn't cut the bar, Ana. That might reach a secret level classification in my own life. You're not going to get a search warrant for that, so that it has to relate to something significant.

Next, relating to the negotiations in June, you're anticipating that you will not get those documents. You might anticipate that they're going to be destroyed. But, in reviewing those documents today, those agents going to the FBI director and the attorney general have to be able to say today, Tuesday, we're seeing stuff that is so significant that, when we go to get questioned by the Congress and by the media, people are going to say, clearly, this decision got over the bar.

And simple classified documents do not get over the bar, in my judgment.

CABRERA: Garrett, in the old days, FBI agents descending on your house and apparently leaving with boxes of evidence would have been a pretty huge blow to any political hopes. And now we're seeing the GOP rallying around Trump. There are people

at his home supporting him. What do you think this moment means for him politically?

GRAFF: I think it's too soon for us to know, because we don't know what, if any, other shoes are going to drop in this or any of the other investigations that are under way.

I mean, I think one of the most remarkable aspects of this moment in history is, when word first broke of the raid, the search of Mar-a- Lago last night on social media, none of us knew which have about a half-dozen different active investigations of President Trump this particular search might relate to.

And I think that that should tell us something about the complexity and the uncertainty of the moment as it's going to unfold and Donald Trump's legal jeopardy. The simple fact is that very few people in their entire lives are going to be the subject of a federal FBI search warrant.

Even fewer of those are going to ever escape without criminal charges. So the moment those FBI agents got that warrant, someone was already in very serious legal jeopardy, and I think that that legal trouble is just beginning.

CABRERA: Phil, do you think this gives us any indication of where investigators are at in their investigation?

MUDD: I do. It doesn't give me a sense of timing, but it gives me a sense of how far along they are.

Typically, when you're going to do an investigation of this magnitude, you're going to go from the outside in. You want to talk to lower- level people, going up a pyramid to ensure that, if you get to more senior subjects -- maybe it's Rudy Giuliani, maybe it's John Eastman -- in this case, it's the former president of the United States.

By the time you get to the top of the pyramid, you want at least half your questions answered. When a subject comes into the room for an interview -- and this is a mistake a lot of people go through when they're questioned by the FBI. I have been questioned in investigations myself.

They don't know that the FBI already knows the answer. If they ask you what happened last week, they know, because, if you don't tell the truth, they have already realized that you're not going to cooperate with the investigation.

This indicates to me that they're very far along with the investigation, because you can't get any higher on the pyramid, Ana, than the president of the United States.

CABRERA: Very, very quickly, Shan, just it's button this up, is it possible that Trump is not the target of the move that they're making here, that he would not be the target? WU: It's possible, but unlikely, because it's his residence. So, at very least, they'd have to tell his lawyers you're a subject at this point.


But the fact that it's in his possession really makes him a target. And just briefly to the point of timing, you could see a bit of a delay here, because it's not just paper. There could be digital records and can take a long time to analyze all that. So I wouldn't be holding my breath on the actual announcement of charges.

CABRERA: I'm just thinking back to Rudy Giuliani and a search warrant executed on his properties, which was well over a year, year-and-a- half ago or so.

Thank you so much, Shan, Phil, Garrett. Great discussion. Thank you, guys.

Much more on this just ahead, including new developments as well in the January 6 investigation, the committee today speaking with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who reportedly discussed options to remove Trump from office after the insurrection.

Plus, finally, some good news on inflation. We are seeing some deflation. We will tell you where you can find some relief for the first time in two years.

And it was a case that gripped the nation, and now Gabby Petito's parents want police to pay for her death.



CABRERA: Signed, sealed, and a political win delivered. The CHIPS bill is now law. And its goal is to boost competition with China and us semiconductor chip production.

These are the same chips, of course, used in everything from cars to appliances and medical devices.

Let's bring in CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond now.

So, what kind of impact will this law have?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, President Biden, as he prepared to sign this bill into law, called this a generational investments in America, one aimed at boosting not only the U.S.' economic security, but also its national security.

When you think about these chips, they're in everything from vehicles to electronics, but also weapon systems, including those produced by several major U.S. defense contractors. Now, this is all aimed at trying to reposition the U.S. as one of the top producers of semiconductor chips in the world.

And it is a $280 billion investment. And let me break it down for you. There's $52 billion for chipmaking and research. That's those tax incentives and subsidies for those manufacturing companies. Then you have another $1.5 billion to help U.S. telecom communications companies compete with Chinese companies like Huawei, and another $170 billion into scientific research and space exploration.

And, listen, this is all, as I said, aimed at repositioning the U.S. as one of the top chipmakers. Chips were -- semiconductor chips were invented here, the president noted, but, right now, the U.S. imports the overwhelming majority of its chips here.

And we have seen that have impacts in terms of supply chain issues with vehicle sales, for example, but also, again, those major national security implications, especially as you see China trying to invest more into its production of those, but also because the U.S. invest most -- imports most of its semiconductor chips from Taiwan, where we have seen China, of course, taking increasingly aggressive maneuvers around that island nation in recent days.

So, a very significant piece of legislation, and one that President Biden and his Cabinet noted today was achieved with a bipartisan vote in both chambers of Congress -- Ana.

CABRERA: Jeremy Diamond at the White House for us, thank you.

Now, here's something we haven't heard in a while, good news and inflation in the same sentence. For the first time in more than two years, if you can believe it, prices for online goods are dropping, and they're dropping fast.

CNN's Matt Egan is here now to walk us through what we're seeing, some relief, and where we're not seeing that relief.

Matt, let's start with the good news. Where are prices dropping?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Ana, this is some much-needed good news, online prices dropping by 1 percent year over year in July.

Now, normally, this wouldn't really be a big deal, because online prices for the longest time did nothing but fall, because it's so easy to price-shop online. We all do it and do it from the comfort of your living room.

But then, look, COVID happened. As soon as COVID happened, we saw prices start to rise for the first time online. And now, just in the last few months, we have had this improvement. It started in the spring, and it started to come down. And all of a sudden, we actually have a decline in prices. This is a big improvement.

CABRERA: Lower than pre-COVID.

EGAN: And -- absolutely. And this is -- it snaps a string of 25 straight months of rising prices. So, where are prices going down? They're cooling off, electronics down sharply. Toys, that's good news for all of us with kids. My son is obsessed with toy trucks. I'm hoping for some deflation there. Apparel, just in time for back to school.


EGAN: Why is this happening? Some of it's good. Some of it's bad. Supply improvement, that's great. In fact, supply has improved so much that some retailers like Walmart, Target, they have more stuff than they know what to do with. They have been forced to cut prices.

The bad, consumer confidence has taken a hit because of inflation. Some people are being forced to actually pull back on spending.


EGAN: It's not everywhere. Online prices are still going up, groceries. That's a big one. This is a record increase. Pets. This is because everyone, so many people adopted dogs and cats during COVID. That's up a record amount, tools and home improvement as well.

But still, I think, if you take a step back, clearly, this is an encouraging sign that perhaps inflationary pressures are starting to ease.

CABRERA: And we're going to be looking for some new data as well in that regard. What are you looking at?

EGAN: Yes, big inflation report tomorrow. There's been a lot of major developments on the economic front, obviously, inflation falling online, as we just talked about, gas prices down 56 days in a row. That is a huge positive.

Strong jobs report, that is great news as far as a near-term recession. It does make things harder when it comes to trying to cool off inflation. The big report tomorrow -- it used to be that the jobs report was the biggest number of the month, and now it's all about inflation.

The estimate is for 8.7 percent increase in consumer prices. At any other point in the last 40 years, that would be a bad number. But because inflation is so high, that would act clearly mark an improvement.


CABRERA: Yes, we were over 9 percent in the last report.

EGAN: Exactly.


Well, we will be checking back with you.

EGAN: Thank you, Ana. CABRERA: Thanks so much, Matt.

We know some of Donald Trump's Cabinet members actually talked about invoking the 25th Amendment, but what about Mike Pompeo? The former secretary of state is talking today with the House committee investigating January 6.