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Inflation Easing?; Armed Man Attempts to Breach Ohio FBI Office; New Details Emerge on Mar-a-Lago FBI Search; Criminal Probe of Missing Secret Service Text Messages?. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired August 11, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: We will take that presser live as it happens.
We're also learning right now some new details, as former President Trump faces growing legal pressure. CNN has now learned that, back in June, federal investigators obtained a grand jury subpoena to see sensitive documents from Trump's Florida home. But that search this week happened in part because someone on the inside turned on Trump.
We have details dropping about a witness who reportedly tipped off the FBI.
Let's get to CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez.
Evan, we will talk specifically about the witness in just a moment, but first these new details about what happened on June 8 are really important. Fill us in.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Ana.
One of the things we have heard from the Trump side, the lawyers and from Trump himself is that this has been very cooperative, at least from their side, and they were shocked when the FBI showed up on Monday to do this search.
But what we're learning is that there was a subpoena that was actually searched -- served earlier, back in before -- before this meeting in June. And this subpoena essentially prompted this meeting, where we know that the Trump lawyers gave a little bit of a tour to some of the prosecutors and the investigators who are doing this investigation, showed them where these documents were being were being held, and that, at the end of that meeting, they left with classified documents, documents that were nationally -- national security information.
That's the reason why that meeting occurred. What it tells us, Ana, is that this -- these conversations -- that were these discussions that were ongoing between Trump lawyers and the Justice Department turned contentious much earlier, much, much earlier than the search that occurred on Monday.
CABRERA: So we're also learning that part of all of this involves a witness, at least one witness.
CABRERA: Do we know, was that witness saying, there's still documents you missed on June 8?
PEREZ: This witness told them that there were definitely documents in -- being held at Mar-a-Lago that the FBI needed to get, obviously wanted to get.
This was information that included classified information. Now, we know that the National Archives had sent someone to retrieve 15 boxes of documents. What this witness was telling the FBI, and in addition to other evidence that they had, was that there was additional information, additional documents that needed to be retrieved. And that's the reason why we see the additional -- the escalation that we saw more recently.
CABRERA: With that search.
So do investigators believe Trump was attempting to hide some documents?
PEREZ: Those are -- that's one of the big, big questions that I think remains unanswered.
Who was misleading the investigators is part of the question here, because we know that one reason why these discussions sort of fell apart, Ana, is because they believed they were not being forthcoming, that they were not getting the right information from whoever they were dealing with.
Was that the former president himself? Were there people around him? That's part of the big unanswered question at this point. It is clear, however, that after months and months of discussions, they felt that they needed to take this extraordinary step, which is to carry out a search, in addition to the earlier subpoenas that they had already done.
CABRERA: Evan Perez, thank you for your ongoing reporting. We know you're still digging, working your sources.
Today, we also learned that, ahead of Monday's unprecedented search, the FBI took measures not to cause a spectacle.
And CNN's Katelyn Polantz has more on this.
Katelyn, I'm not sure causing a spectacle was avoidable here. But what can you share?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Ana, remember, Donald Trump was the first person to announce that this search was going on at the end of the day.
By then, the FBI had been at Mar-a-Lago for several hours. And what we know now about how they went about their job that day was that it was very low-key. They were in plainclothes. They weren't wearing the jackets with the FBI on the back. They went in mid-morning, not at the crack of dawn, in the way that some FBI searches are conducted to surprise someone.
It really wasn't like that. And I want to read a statement from the FBI Agents Association that was put out after this search. Doesn't mention Mar-a-Lago directly, but it does emphasize that, as FBI special agents were performing their duties with integrity and professionalism, they will remain focused on complying with the law and the Constitution.
And then also a reminder there that this wasn't just the FBI that was doing this, that they were being told to do this under this search warrant that was signed off by a federal judge, a federal magistrate judge in Florida, and also that the Justice Department had been working on this search warrant as well, going to court.
Now, since that statement came out, there has been a lot of discussion, why isn't the FBI itself making a statement? What about the Justice Department? We have heard nothing out of either of those agencies. The FBI director, Chris Wray, was even asked about it yesterday. He declined to say anything.
And Evan Perez even was learning that there are some people in the Justice Department who have wanted Merrick Garland, the attorney general, to come out and make a statement. He just hasn't done so. It really is not like him and it's not like the department to comment on ongoing investigations.
So, at this point, there's still a lot to learn that we just don't know right now about what happened before this search, what was in that affidavit. And the only way that we could find out more about it is if the Trump folks were willing to provide more information or if a court would come in and unseal the documents -- Ana.
CABRERA: Which often happens when there's actually a charge or an indictment that is filed.
So, Katelyn Polantz, thank you. A lot to dissect with all of this.
And joining us to do that is former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, the author of "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump." Also with us, CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen. He was special counsel in Trump's first impeachment trial. He was also White House ethics czar in the Obama administration.
Andy, let me start with you. What do you see as most significant, based on what Evan just reported, regarding what happened before and after June 8?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Ana, I'm fascinated by the revelation that there was a subpoena served prior to this meeting in June.
And it makes a lot of sense. The timeline that we have heard up until this point, which I would add we have gotten only from Trump's side of the story, simply didn't make sense, that there would have been this congenial, professional exchange all the way up until June and then, all of a sudden, the FBI ratcheted things up to a search warrant.
But now, with the revelation of the subpoena, we know that there is a clear pattern of escalating efforts by the bureau and the department to resolve this situation. And by resolve it, I mean recover classified information. That is their job.
If they know that national security information, information that literally could come down to life and death in some situations, is being held in a place where it's unauthorized, they have to get that information back. So what it looks like now is they did take reasonable steps and continued to escalate, even using a subpoena, before they finally had to resort to a search warrant to get that material back.
CABRERA: And, as Katelyn just reported, they also took an effort to not become a spectacle, to not make a big showy optics of them going in to Mar-a-Lago, Norm.
But Trump was the one who turned it and made it public and tried to take this narrative that he was being victimized here and that this was a raid and he was under siege. Well, we now know Trump was there on June 8 when investigators had that subpoena, and they took documents on that day. Yet he didn't tweet about that.
NORMAN EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right, Ana.
And he hasn't done the single thing that could do the most to resolve the allegations he's making. His lawyers say they have a copy of the affidavit, the attachments -- or not the affidavit, rather -- the search warrant, the attachments and the inventory.
Trump can release that, so we can see what this is about. Instead, he's making these unfounded allegations. I respect the attorney general's decision not to speak out. As Andy knows, when he served at the FBI, Director Comey commented on Hillary Clinton. Comey himself has said that he was sloppy, that he made errors in doing that.
The safer thing is to let the investigation proceed and focus on the underlying issues, the very serious potential crimes that are at stake here, including with the handling of classified information.
CABRERA: Andy, do you agree that the DOJ or the FBI, no one should speak out and try to take control of this narrative that's getting out of control?
MCCABE: Yes, well, I agree with Norm in principle, but I have to confess that, as a 21-year FBI agent, I do feel that it is -- would be important and helpful for the attorney general to come out and speak to these baseless, disturbing, really dangerous allegations that have been lodged against the men and women who executed the search warrant.
You don't have to talk about the underlying case to come out and stand up for the integrity of your people, people who are simply executing the law as directed by a federal judge.
So I do think the time has come for Merrick Garland or Christopher Wray to step forward and stand up for what they think about the integrity and the professionalism of their folks, which, even from the reporting that you mentioned, Ana, indicates that the FBI tried to pretty much do everything they could to do this unobtrusively.
And, in fact, we wouldn't even know this had happened but for the fact that Donald Trump decided to release a statement to the world about it, for his own purposes. Whether that's to advance his political fortunes or fill his political coffers, I don't know.
But he certainly has benefited from all this attention. And the FBI really finds themselves in a tough spot now that needs to be addressed.
CABRERA: And I think it's important to note, for those who may not be aware, one of the reasons that the DOJ and the FBI typically don't comment on an ongoing investigation is to protect the person who may be implicated in that investigation, especially if it doesn't lead to charges or any kind of indictment, so that they don't look suspicious to the public.
Let me ask you, Norm, if there isn't a public statement, and you're suggesting perhaps this should be handled like they usually handle it, how do you then counter the other side that's trying to control the narrative about what took place here, this suggestion that the DOJ has been weaponized politically?
EISEN: Well, Ana, I think that it's important for those who are free to speak, our political leaders of both parties, indeed, all of us, what you and I and Andy are doing right now, to provide the content and the context that is needed here.
The attorney general, the director of the FBI are closer to the investigation. The danger, if they speak, if they say anything other than platitudes, is that they may compromise their investigation. They may make things worse, as I think some of Jim Comey's statements during the Clinton investigation, unfortunately, did.
They are closer to it. I trust Merrick Garland's judgment. I have known him for over 30 years, I think he will make the right call bearing that in mind.
But, in the meantime, it's incumbent on the rest of us to explain and I think political leadership to explain what is going on here. This is a very serious investigation. And probable cause has been found by a very respected magistrate judge down there in Florida.
CABRERA: Andy, let's go back to the new reporting at the top of the show about this apparent witness at Mar-a-Lago.
Do you think the FBI could have gotten a search warrant on a former president's home without this person?
MCCABE: That's a really hard question. It's always hard to go back after the fact and look at an affidavit and try to tease out, well, did we need this fact or do we -- could we have gotten it without it?
Because all is, you got the warrant with the facts you presented to the judge. I think they probably knew a lot without -- I don't know what sort of information they got from this witness. But they were present in Mar-a-Lago. They were supposedly shown the basement storage room. They had an opportunity to look through some of those boxes and review some of that material.
And now we're hearing that they may have even taken some classified material with them when they left. That's a lot. If you're simply trying to get a warrant to go recover classified information in any individual space, having seen it with your own eyes, having an agent who was in there in the room, saw it, knew it was there at that time, that seems like it might have been enough to get a warrant for me.
But it's really hard to say after the fact.
CABRERA: Right. We don't have a lot of information about this witness. But we do know, according to our new reporting, that this witness is somebody who said, hey, I think there may be classified information still left behind at Mar-a-Lago.
And that was somewhere in between the June 8 meeting and, of course, the raid on Monday, or the search, I should say, on Monday.
Thank you so much, Andrew McCabe and Norm Eisen. I appreciate your expertise on this.
Now to a developments in the case of those missing Secret Service text messages. Last week, the agency gave the personal phone numbers of agents to government oversight committees investigating the Capitol attack. And now the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association is warning agents that the information will likely be used for a criminal investigation and is suggesting those agents get a lawyer if they are contacted.
CNN law enforcement correspondent Whitney Wild has this reporting.
Whitney, how does the association think this information could be used against the agents?
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, what they're saying is that there's very little information about what's going on now.
All they know is that this personal information has been given to oversight bodies. And what I want to make absolutely clear about this is that our reporting is that these personal phone numbers, not records, but personal phone numbers, went to oversight bodies. So we don't necessarily know the specifics of the committees.
The Secret Service wouldn't expand upon that for us. But what we do know is that the Department of Homeland Security inspector general is conducting a criminal probe. So, Ana, the point here is that, given all of the investigations that are going on, at least one of them from the Department of Homeland Security inspector general is criminal. This is causing a lot of anxiety among Secret Service agents. And so the union was compelled to send a letter to its members on Tuesday, saying exactly what you said, advising them that the Secret Service attorneys are there on behalf of the organization, that if they are questioned about personal phone numbers, personal phone records, that they should seek legal counsel from the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which is commonly known as FLEOA.
Ana, this revelation that personal phone numbers were handed over to oversight bodies has really gotten under the skin of this professional organization. They are very upset by this news. And the president of that organization, Larry Cosme, really blasted the Secret Service this week, saying that this should have been stopped, i mean, that the agency should have fought the requests for personal phone numbers more vigorously.
Here's a here's a quote: "This is a classic demonstration of self- preservation and a desperate attempt by leadership to cover up for their own personal failings, at the expense of the trust and the security of their employees."
Ana, this all comes after the Secret Service had been under scrutiny for many, many weeks now because of this revelation from the DHS I.G. that there were text messages he was seeking that would have included texts from around January 5 and 6 that were lost to a data migration. A lot more to learn about this, but the really unusual step of sending over personal phone numbers very much upsetting the organization that represents these agents.
CABRERA: OK, Whitney Wild with the latest, thank you.
I want to get to a developing story now out of Cincinnati, where an armed suspect tried to get into an FBI office this morning. And I want to stress we don't know what the motive was here.
But CNN's Brynn Gingras has been digging into this. What can you tell us, Brynn?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we don't know the motive yet, because that person is not in custody.
And we're learning actually from the people on the ground that this person is contained, but not yet in custody. But let me back up right now and give you an idea of what we're told happened by the FBI field office there in Cincinnati.
We have learned that this person went into the visitor screening facility at that field office and sources are telling me and my colleague Josh Campbell that he was armed with an AR-15-style rifle, as well as a nail gun.
Now, that as you can imagine, prompted some sort of alarm to go off in that field office, and then the FBI agents then prompted to respond. We're told that person then took off in a car and headed north on a major interstate there. And that is where we basically have been left off, is that they have somehow shut down that interstate.
They have put some areas of this area which was really between Columbus and Cincinnati in lockdown while this person, again, according to the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency, is -- has this person not in custody, but contained. They also say he's wearing a gray shirt and body armor and, again, confirming there that this person is armed.
So this is very much fluid situation. But, Ana, as you said, we don't know the motive yet, right? Of course, when they get this person in custody, we will try to learn more. But we know that there is so much rhetoric that you have just spending so much time on the show talking about. And it raises the suspicion.
And we know that, even before this happened, we know that field offices all this -- country were basically posturing, making sure that they had their security up to speed, if there are any checks and balances that need to be made because of what was happening earlier this week.
And certainly that is now being reinforced after this incident.
CABRERA: Yes, and we did see and report about the online threats...
CABRERA: ... that have been out there and the kind of increase in rhetoric and violent rhetoric, violent talk, even people saying, kill all feds. Again, it's...
GINGRAS: As one source said to me, "Everybody hates us right now."
CABRERA: ... a tough climate out there. And we will work to get more information on this specific case.
We should note we're waiting for that press conference, which is supposed to happen any moment. You can see we have a camera set up and ready to take it live for you when that gets under way.
Thank you, Brynn.
OK, new evidence today that inflation's brutal grip may finally be letting up. And that includes gas prices. They are now below $4 a gallon. That is a huge milestone, because it's the first time since March we hit that level. We will have details ahead.
Plus, it was supposed to be eradicated in the U.S., and now health officials are sounding the alarm after a positive case of polio identified in New York, and they worry there could be hundreds more.
And warnings of a potential nuclear disaster are getting louder, as new shelling and Ukraine strikes the complex with Europe's largest reactor.
CABRERA: Here's something we haven't seen in the last five months, gas prices below $4 a gallon.
It's a small drop from yesterday, but if you look at prices from back in June, it is a huge drop. And on top of that, we're getting another better-than-expected report on inflation.
So, CNN's Matt Egan and Rahel Solomon are joining us now.
Can I just say it feels so good to actually have good news to bring our viewers on the economy?
Matt, tell us about this drop. Why?
MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, there's a lot of different reasons for it.
You have to remember that, back in June, back in early March, the big fear was what's going to happen to Russia's energy supply as this war played out. And so, thankfully, that nightmare summit scenario of Russia's energy getting completely knocked offline, that has not happened. And so that has eased some of the pressure in the market.
At the same time, the Biden administration went ahead and they released an unprecedented amount of emergency oil., we can debate just how much that helped, but it has been a positive. At the same time, we have had fears about a recession drive oil prices down dramatically. Any time that happens, that's going to play out at the pump, although usually not as fast as we would like.
One more point is that prices, they just got too high, right?. Five collars back in mid-June, that proved to be a breaking point, right? Some people, they decided to drive less. Maybe they scrapped their road trips. They stayed local instead. That was not a pleasant experience, but that has helped balance out the market.
CABRERA: Yes, right. That demand went down below pre-pandemic levels, or the levels that they were in March during the start of the pandemic.
EGAN: Right. It's amazing.
CABRERA: Matt, so give us a little bit more perspective in terms of how much people are actually saving then if they're filling up their tank right now.
So, gas prices, they hold such a psychologically important role, right, because we see those prices every single day we drive by. They're so in your face. But, also, we feel it every time we fill up.
And so this drop really has a tangible impact. Let me show you what I mean. If you have a 14.5 gallon tank, you filled up at the peak mid- June at $5 gas, you were paying almost $73 to fill up your tank, now under $58. That is almost $15 of savings.
If you take that a step further and say you fill up four times a month, you were paying $291 to fill up four times a month at those peak prices. Now it's $232. That is not cheap, but it is a savings of $59 a month. And that is per car. If you have got two cars, we're talking almost $120. So we are seeing some relief finally at the gas station.
Hopefully, we also see it elsewhere, at the grocery store, at the mall, because the cost of living is still too high.
CABRERA: OK, it adds up fast.
Guys, I got to break away here to go to Cincinnati for this presser on the person who tried to break into an FBI office. Let's listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... Cincinnati. He was armed.
He was unsuccessful, and he fled that area. The FBI then contacted us, let us know what had occurred and what type of vehicle he had left the scene in. He was traveling in a white Ford Crown Victoria. He headed northbound on Interstate 71.
Near the rest area, the northbound rest area on Interstate 71 in Warren County, one of our troopers did spot the vehicle, attempted to initiate a traffic spot. This was at 9:37 this morning, attempted to initiate a traffic stop with that vehicle, and a pursuit ensued After that.
Throughout the pursuit, it continued northbound on 71. The suspect vehicle did fire shots during that pursuit. The vehicle then exited on State Route 73 and went east on State Route 73. They traveled east to Smith Road. They went north on Smith Road, almost over top of Interstate 71, where the vehicle came to a stop.
Once the vehicle came to a stop, gunfire was exchanged between officers on scene and the suspect. At this time, no officers have been injured as a result of this. The scene is still active, and there is still an active standoff situation occurring at this time.
So, we will be back with further details in a little while just to keep you all updated as to what's transpiring here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
So the situation is contained to a certain area. There is a perimeter set up within that area. So, nothing outside of that area. Right now, there's no public risk to anything outside of that area.
QUESTION: If there's no public risk, why the lockdown?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry? QUESTION: If there's no public risk, why the lockdown?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, within a certain area, obviously, within a certain perimeter area, that we would want people to be locked down in that area just to ensure their safety.
QUESTION: Can you identify the suspect, and was he injured in any of the shooting?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, as of right now, I can't positively identify the suspect or his injuries, if there are any at this time.
But, again, once we come back, we will fill you guys in a little bit more on those details.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, as of right now, that's all the questions I'm going to take. And we will fill you guys in here in a little bit as soon as I get information.
QUESTION: Do you guys at least know who the suspect is, even if you're not going to tell us right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't comment on that.
CABRERA: OK, we're listening to officials in Cincinnati, Ohio, after they say a man tried to breach an FBI office there.
This man, they say, was armed with what they believe to be an AR-15- style weapon, that he also had a nail gun and ultimately was unsuccessful. He took off. He fled.
And then there was a chase. There was gunfire exchanged during that chase. Right now, they have him stopped and they have him contained, they say, to an area. But he is not yet in custody. We don't know a lot of information regarding his motive, who the suspect is, but, again, a person who tried to get into an FBI office and who is believed to be armed and dangerous.
Right now, they also say he was wearing body armor.
I want to bring in former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
As you listen to this, what's going through your mind?
MCCABE: I mean, it's stunning and incredibly dangerous.
And I'm just really worried, Ana, this is this is -- that it may be a harbinger of things to come. It could serve as a rallying cry or an inspirational moment for similar unhinged, extremist, violent people.
I mean, this is a -- I have been to the FBI Cincinnati office before. I have walked through that screening center.