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Erin Burnett Outfront
FBI Executes Search Warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago; Alex Jones' Text Messages Turned Over to January 6 Panel; FBI Executes Search Warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago; China Defends Military Drills, Warns "Taiwan Is Part Of China"; Albuquerque Police Seek Car Linked To Killing Of 4 Muslim Men. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 08, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. CNN learning the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago in Florida. We have the details just coming in as I speak.
And more trouble tonight for one of Trump's biggest allies. The January 6th Committee now has Alex Jones' texts. And given what the conspiracy theorist said in the days leading up to and on January 6th, those texts could reveal a lot.
And an urgent manhunt underway tonight after a series of deadly shootings. Now, police are calling on the public to help track down a vehicle.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight on this Monday, breaking news. We are learning that the FBI executed a search warrant at former President Trump's Mar-a- Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
Obviously, a very significant headline there. We're going to be getting much more information over the coming minutes. Literally, we have just found this out. As we get more, we're going to bring it to you.
Obviously, an FBI and a search warrant coming as part of the DOJ, and it comes on the same day that the January 6th Select Committee is now in possession of new text messages -- messages that we understand belong to conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter Alex Jones.
The committee requesting the messages after discovering Jones' attorney accidentally sent two years worth of text messages to the attorney representing two parents of Sandy Hook victims. And the texts in that case were damning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is how I know you lied to me when you said you didn't have text messages about Sandy Hook. Did you know that? (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Text messages related to January 6th could also be very damaging to Jones as those were, because Jones was a core and huge promoter of Trump's election lies leading up to January 6th.
Here is just some of what he said before January 6th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX JONES, CONSPIRACY THEORIST: It's Saturday, December 19th, the year is 2020, and one of the most historic events in American history has just taken place. President Trump in the early morning hours today tweeted that he wants the American people to march on Washington, D.C., on January 6th, 2021.
He is now calling on we the people to take action and to show our numbers. The time for games is over. The time for action is now. Where were you when history called? Where were you when you and your children's destiny and future was on the line?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Trump's former spokesperson Katrina Pierson who helped organize the rally on January 6th, she even warned Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows about what she was hearing from Alex Jones.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KATRINA PIERSON, FORMER TRUMP SPOKESPERSON: I think I even texted him some of my concerns, but I did briefly go over some concerns that I had raised to everybody with Alex Jones or Ali Alexander, and some of the rhetoric that they were doing.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Jones' words and actions on the night before January 6th to Trump's supporters in Washington, D.C., were extremely direct.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: I don't know how this is going to end. But if they want a fight, they better believe they've got one!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That was the eve of January 6th. Hours later on insurrection day, Jones was on U.S. Capitol grounds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Trump is going to speak over here. Trump is coming on the other side.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Jones was there. Jones mattered, but he has never testified to exactly what he knows because when he met with the January 6th Select Committee earlier this year, he was anything but cooperative.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JONES: I just had a very intense experience being interrogated by the January 6th committee lawyers. They were polite, but they were dogged, but I said this, my lawyer told me, almost 100 times today during the interrogation. On advice of counsel, I am asserting my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Almost 100 times asserting his Fifth Amendment rights. That's what he says. Well, we sure know how former President Trump feels about people who plead the Fifth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: The mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, that's what he believes.
Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT live in Washington.
And, Jessica, obviously, the context here, we have this breaking news that a search warrant by the FBI has been executed on Mar-a-Lago.
We're waiting for more details on that very significant headline, and it comes on the day of these texts -- Alex Jones' texts. Also a core person on January 6th.
What more are you learning about the importance of these texts to the January 6th committee?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, everything seems to be ramping up here on these parallel tracks. The committee, the Department of Justice investigation, but as for the committee here, you know, they want to know a lot more about Jones' role on January 6th and how it plays in, and these texts they may at least shed a bit more light, so we know that Alex Jones was the central player on January 6th. We saw him there on the restricted U.S. Capitol grounds. He riled up the protesters.
You know, he never actually entered the Capitol, and he even insisted he never helped plan any of the violence, but the committee believes that there is a lot more to find out about Jones and any connections he might have to Trump allies.
You know, what we know at this point, the committee has received two years' worth of text messages. His attorney in this crazy back story, he inadvertently sent these messages to the plaintiffs in that defamation case involving Sandy Hook that we saw play out last week, and it's possible that some of those might be relevant to the committee's investigation, especially since we've reported that Jones actually communicated with Roger Stone at some point.
Erin, the only snag right now is that we don't know what two years these text messages actually cover, if any of them are from around the time period, around the 2020 election or January 6th, but we heard it there. Alex Jones has gone before the committee before. He testified earlier this year, said, though, that he repeatedly asserted his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
So the committee has been wanting more information from Jones, may be getting it with these texts. We'll wait and see. This is information Jones wasn't willing to previously give up that is now in the committee's hands -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica Schneider.
I want to go now to our senior legal analyst, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, along with Stephanie Grisham, former Trump White House press secretary. She resigned on January 6th.
Okay. I want to ask each of you about obviously this news from the January 6th committee. I want to start with the headline we have, though, the breaking news that the FBI has executed a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago. We don't yet have more details on that at this point, but we do have that information.
We know that obviously this is the FBI so that's the Department of Justice. What can you glean from that headline such that it is right now?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Erin, it's an enormous step by the FBI and by DOJ. Here's what we know for sure. In order to get a search warrant in the federal system, prosecutors have to establish probable cause that a crime was committed. I've done this many times. You have to write it out in an affidavit in detail. Then you have to bring it over to a judge. The judge has to agree, yes, I find that there's probable cause that a crime was committed. Now, that's not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but that still is significant evidentiary showing.
You also have to show the judge that you're likely to find evidence in the place to be searched and that that evidence has been there or you would expect it to have been there fairly recently in time. So that's what we know for sure. I think it's also very safe to say that given DOJ's written policies in the justice manual, this would have had to have been improved to the highest levels up to and including the attorney general himself.
So, this is a major step. That's what we know for sure.
BURNETT: All right. A major step, that's what we know for sure. Now, Stephanie, we also know that it turned out earlier, right, that the president had taken a lot of documents that were marked as top secret classified to Mar-a-Lago that he shouldn't have. I don't want to directly connect those two things because I don't know that they're connected. I'm just giving everyone the context we know that happened in the past.
You spent a lot of time there, you know what the president did, a lot of these documents that he wanted to keep or he wanted his hands on. What context can you add?
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, I've got to just agree that this is enormous. I'm still wrapping my head around it, because as you said at the top of the show, this is breaking news.
I think knowing Mar-a-Lago like I do, I would imagine his office and his bedroom -- his bedroom office were two of the areas searched. I don't know if your viewers have yet seen the statement put out by the former president, but he is already, of course, you know, blaming the FBI, calling this political, calling it a witch hunt.
So that says to me he's very, very nervous and very upset. So it's going to be really interesting. I think things are finally ramping up and I hope and I wonder if people in the Republican Party will finally start to see things for how they are and do what's right for the country over the party.
BURNETT: All right. Both of you please stay with me.
Kaitlan Collins is with us now with some more on this reporting, and, Kaitlan, obviously a very significant headline that you are breaking. What more can you tell us?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is incredibly significant, and, of course, we should note that when the former president confirmed that, yes, this raid did happen on his Mar- a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
He did not specify why exactly this raid happened. So we are still trying to confirm that. Of course, I know you mentioned the missing documents from the National Archives and the concerns about that. So that remains to be seen.
I will note that in this statement where the former president confirmed to me that, yes, FBI agents did conduct a raid at Mar-a-Lago today, he said it was a large number of FBI -- a large group of FBI agents. He says that he believes this is a political -- politically motivated event that happened, the search of Mar-a-Lago. Of course, we're waiting to hear from authorities why they conducted this search, how they got this search warrant, and of course what the reason is behind it.
I will note, he does give one detail in here that is notable. He says, quote, Erin, I'm going to read this now. Such an assault could only take place in broken third world countries. Sadly America has now become one of those countries. He says, quote, they even broke into my safe.
Now, Erin, he does not say what they were looking for, what they wanted to get if they took anything from that safe, but it is notable, he says, they did even break into his safe.
And this statement, I should note when he does not say what the reason is for this raid, he does reference Hillary Clinton's emails. Of course, that has long been an obsession of the former president's. He said nothing happened to her to hold her accountable, talking about what she took to the White House.
So, that could be an indication that this is related to the National Archives. But, again, we are still waiting to find out more though. Trump has confirmed to me that, yes, this raid was conducted on Mar-a- Lago today.
BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much.
And, of course, obviously, very significant reporting here. Kaitlan breaking this.
Elie, let me give you a chance to respond to a couple of the things she just mentioned from the former president's statement. One, that they even broke into a safe, and two, that he references a large number of FBI agents. What do you read into that?
HONIG: Sure, so taking the second one first. Typically, when someone's executing a search warrant, you do send many, many agents out, especially in a large property like Mar-a-Lago, wouldn't surprise me if there was a dozen or more FBI agents. That's fairly standard operating procedures, and the higher level sensitivity, of course, the more personnel you want there.
It is a really interesting detail that the former president says his safe was broken into. What you have to do is describe to the judge with some particularity, here's the kind of evidence we're searching for. And typically, in a case like this you might include laptops, phone, thumb drives, electronic devices, and then typically, you have the authority to go into and search and to enter any area that could house those items. So, a safe certainly could house any of those items.
That's fairly typical in this kind of search warrant. You do have to specify as I said before, you have to specify a crime. You have to establish that you have proof, probable cause, proof of that crime being committed and that you're likely to find evidence of that crime in the area that you're searching.
BURNETT: Okay. So, Elie, I do want to just -- you know, sort of to put the pause for a moment and put the emphasis here on something very basic but very crucial. They would have had to establish probable cause that a crime was committed and that they needed to search for more information on that. Again, they would have had to have already established probable cause of a crime, in this case related to the former president of the United States. I just want to put the exclamation point on that.
HONIG: Yeah, and Erin, let me explain sort of how that works. A prosecutor has to sit down and write out an affidavit with an FBI agent. You can't just say, hey, judge, we have probable cause, take our word for it. There actually are contexts where you can do that.
But in a search warrant, you have to say and here's what are probable cause is. We have the following evidence. You have to write it all out.
Then there's a check on that. It's not just up to prosecutors. It's not just up to the FBI. You have to take it to a federal judge who then reviews it and has to agree, and I've done this many times. Occasionally, a judge will say I don't think you have enough evidence or add a little more and come back or I'm not signing this.
Most of the time, federal judges do sign it, but you can bet that a judge read every word of this and agreed, again, that there's probable cause that's significantly less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but that's a significant showing. It's not something the DOJ does lightly, particularly when you're talking about the property of the former president.
BURNETT: So, Stephanie, I'd be remiss if I didn't add some context here about, you know, big story everyone's talking about today, right, those pictures that Maggie Haberman from "The New York Times" obtained of the former president's handwriting on sharpie, right, that he was shredding and ripping up documents and putting them in the toilet, okay? He said he wasn't doing it, but he was.
I raise this in the context of right now. Do you think there's something that would have been so precious to him or so important in all of this that he knew was damning or a smoking gun that he wouldn't have destroyed when he has clearly shown a willingness to destroy documents that by law he should not be destroying?
GRISHAM: The short answer is yes. I don't know how to explain that, though. It's just from my years of knowing him.
It could be something he's particularly proud of. It could be something he was going to use later to possibly blackmail someone. These are me just guessing.
I will say something that I find really interesting. You know, Mar-a- Lago is his home, and so it makes complete sense to me that that's where his most valuable items would be stored, and you know, as you mentioned with Maggie's story today with the pictures coming out, another thing that keeps hitting me is, how are they knowing about this stuff? That -- I know the circle around the president. I know the circle around the president at the White House and now.
And it's got to be somebody very close giving Maggie and giving the DOJ and the FBI and anyone else this kind of information where to look. And I find that to be really interesting and I hope that that plays out a little bit more.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Absolutely. Again, the specifics as Kaitlan shared, the safe, and Kaitlan is back with us now.
Kaitlan, literally a moving and breaking story as we speak. What more have you just learned?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and, Erin, I will note this raid happened today, this search warrant was executed at Mar-a-Lago today. I am told that the former president was not in Florida when this raid, when this search was carried out by these FBI agents. He is actually at Trump tower in New York.
So that's not surprising given his schedule. He typically spends the summers in New York and New Jersey, and then in the winters. That is when he is at Mar-a-Lago, of course, as Stephanie was noting, it has become his home since he left the White House. That is where he moved into, the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
So, that is why this is so notable. So, of course, we are still waiting to learn more on why this search warrant was executed, why it was carried out, and of course what these agents learned from this being carried out. It is a remarkable moment to see that the former president is confirming that this raid has happened and that there were a large number of FBI agents as he says, at Mar-a-Lago today.
And, of course, as he said in his statement as well, he said they did access his safe. He did not say what he kept in that safe, but it was a notable part of his very lengthy statement confirming this, Erin.
BURNETT: Right. Obviously, one written with emotion that he would put that in there and put that out so suddenly.
Gloria Borger joins the conversation as well now.
Gloria, what do you read into this? Again, we don't know exactly the reason. We don't know what probable crime was established to a level that a federal judge said to go ahead and execute this search warrant, but we do know that all those things were present, and here we are with a search warrant and a large number of FBI agents today raiding Mar-a-Lago.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I know, it is kind of stunning. FBI agents raiding the home of a former president who was not there, by the way, as Kaitlan was saying. We also know if you go back to April, we were reporting, and others were reporting that the Justice Department began investigating the handling of these 15 boxes of White House records including classified information that had been taken to Mar-a-Lago. I do not know whether this has anything to do with that or whether those documents that they got led them to decide, well, maybe there's more there than we -- than we received.
I mean, I'm just speculating here, and let me make that clear, but I do think that it an extraordinary step for them to do this, so there must be something they are looking for and Elie can talk about that more than I can, but it seems to me to get a judge to say you can do this on the home of a former president. It has to be pretty striking.
BURNETT: So, Elie, let me ask here, a lot of people watching this, and obviously as part of -- we led the program. We were talking about the text messages the January 6th committee had just obtained from Alex Jones, right?
So when you talk about in the context we're in, and FBI raid on Mar-a- Lago, a lot of people are going to jump to the DOJ investigation into January 6th. But I want to be clear, Elie, we don't know that these things are related or not, right?
Could it be something specifically related as Gloria's indicating to those 15 boxes that were not supposed to be removed from the National Archives, that was supposed to be sent there that went to Mar-a-Lago? Could it be as simple as the crime as removing those documents? Is it possible?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, it could be, Erin. It could really be any federal crime under the sun.
When you fill out these affidavits that you bring to a federal judge to get a search warrant, you have to name a crime. You give the section number. You have to say here's our evidence. That could be information as Stephanie was alluding to as a possibility from a source, from an informant, it could be information that you got from texts. It could be any kind of information at all.
But you do have to say what specific crime you are investigating. Now, those papers typically don't come out until much later in the process. If they do come out, the first thing I would look for is, well, what crime did they say?
That will give us a big indication.
HONIG: But, yes, unauthorized destruction of classified materials is a federal crime. There are several potential federal crimes relating to January 6. So, it really could be any federal crime.
One other point, Erin, that I think is important to understand. People may be wondering, well, when do you execute a search warrant as opposed to send someone a subpoena, right? And the answer as a federal prosecutor is if you don't believe that the person's going to faithfully comply with the subpoena. If you don't trust the person to fully turn over the documents or if you believe there's some danger. I don't think there's a danger concern here.
But a search warrant tells me that DOJ and the FBI did not have faith that Donald Trump or whoever the subject of this search warrant would be down at Mar-a-Lago would simply say sure, thanks for the subpoena. Here's all the documents requested, that they establish or are able to establish that they had some concern that they might not be given all the evidence that they're entitled to. BORGER: And it had to be a pretty --
BURNETT: Again, go ahead, Gloria.
BORGER: It had to be a pretty intensive search judging from the former president's statement and, you know, that it lasted -- it seemed to last much of the day.
So the question is, and again, we don't -- you know, we don't know the answer. He says they went into his safe since he's not at Mar-a-Lago, somebody had to report that to him. It they do it specifically because they knew he wasn't at Mar-a-Lago. And if it was this intensive and it seems to me that maybe it was broad, I just -- it's just very hard to know. So all we can do is speculate here.
BURNETT: Right, so let me ask you, Stephanie, and I want to get Elie to weigh in on this as well. As we try to understand, you know, obviously this is hugely significant, which whatever it is related to, whether it be related to January 6th, whether it be related to documents that were wrongly removed from Washington or something else, but then in that, Stephanie, what stands out is the safe, which the former president himself is the one who told us about it, right? He's saying someone broke into his safe.
So, that would imply they're not just checking for a bunch of becomes. So can you, Stephanie, help us understand a little bit more why something like that would have stood out to him or why a safe in particular would have been a place where he kept things?
GRISHAM: So, again, this is going to be me speculating and going off of my years of time with him, the fact that he mentioned the statement stood out to me immediately because he likes to get ahead of things. That's something he used to tell me all the time, just get ahead of it. It will be okay.
I think that there's something in there that he didn't want, now, it could be anything. Now, it could be stuff he doesn't want his wife to see. I mean, it could be anything, again, we're speculating that the whole panel has talked about. But the fact that they made their way to the safe, I don't know if it's the office safe. I don't know if it's their participant apartment safe, but the fact that he mentioned it, it really, really -- it struck me, and I think that he's nervous.
BURNETT: So, Elie, what do you make of that? Again, one of the things you first mentioned and I remember this right when Michael Cohen had his FBI, they showed up at his door, right? They want the electronic devices, they want the computers, they want the cell phones.
OK, that's fine. One thing we know about the former president, right, is that he's not somebody who is putting things in email and on a computer and a laptop. That's not where you're going to find some treasure-trove in his particular case. So, Elie, it's not as if there's -- well, who knows, right? But that there's some secret cell phone hidden in the safe, while it could be, what stands out to you about the word safe and why he is as Stephanie said clearly trying to get ahead of that specifically? HONIG: Well, Erin, it is very common for search warrants to seek
access to documents or records, whether they're paper documents or electronic documents, and the rule basically is for the most part when you execute a search warrant, you have a right to go into any area where those items could be stored. If we're talking about paper documents or even -- if there's a cell phone or a laptop, that would certainly be something you could find in a safe.
Just to make a contrary example, sometimes for example if you have a stolen car case, we're looking for this stolen car in a garage. You can't go looking in a safe, because there's not going to be a stolen car in a safe. However, if you're looking for documents, again, whether they're printed paper documents or electronics or cell phones, then you can look in a safe.
It's quite common in cases when you are looking for documents that you get access into locked closets, safes, that kind of thing. So that's fairly common. Again, we don't know the specifics here. But it is often the case that FBI agents are looking for documents.
The other thing that I think is important is you don't have to necessarily limit yourself to items that belong to a specific person. So the FBI didn't necessarily have to say to the judge, we only want to grab Donald Trump's items. They will say we want any documents, any hard drives, et cetera, and it doesn't really matter who they belong to specifically. Usually a search warrant will be broad enough to allow FBI, DOJ to seize those type of items, too.
BURNETT: One thing Elie mentioned was that it could take a long time to know what the probable crime, probable cause for a crime that was proven to a judge in order to get this search warrant would have been.
Kaitlan Collins, I know you've been trying to reach out to the Department of Justice to get more information about what caused this, what prompted it. What are they telling you?
COLLINS: Yeah, they told my colleague, Katelyn Polantz, they are not going to be commenting. So, no comment from the Justice Department, no comment from the White House either.
But, Erin, I will tell you what we do know as we await confirmation over what this search warrant is over is that there are two investigations related to Trump that are happening right now. One is the mishandling of classified information. That is the one that could potentially deal with documents that Trump after he left office took with him to Mar-a-Lago.
And the other one is into the January 6th insurrection. That is two things we knew were happening. We know some of his former aides have been interviewed regarding that one.
But when it comes to the documents, I will note that we did report earlier this year that investigators had issued a subpoena to the National Archives because they wanted access to more information about what exactly documents were taken to Mar-a-Lago, how they were handled while they were there, what they found, of course, when they requested the return of those documents.
And so that is something that is helpful context, I think, when you're looking at this and you're wondering why this extraordinary raid was carried out at the former president's home in Florida, and I will say that at that time when we noted about that subpoena to the national archives, we were told by the former president's current staff that they maintained he had handled all documents properly.
Clearly, there is some disagreement over that that has prompted this investigation that has happened into how those documents were handled. And so, that is remarkable in and of itself as we're waiting to see confirmation of this. Trump was not actually at Mar-a-Lago when this raid was carried out. He's instead at Trump Tower in New York. He's often spending his summers in the Northeast.
And I will note, in his statements, Erin, he's very critical of Democrats. He says Democrats desperately don't want him to run for president in 2024. He is indicating that he believes this is politically motivated.
I will note he says it was a large number of FBI agents that were at Mar-a-Lago today. He did pick the current FBI Director Chris Wray. It's a decision he's said many times he regrets.
But it is an FBI director that was hand picked by Trump and put into that position.
BURNETT: All right, Gloria, I want to ask you about something else that you said -- stood out to you about the former president's statement. That was that they spent a significant amount of time there today. What more from what he's saying and what you've described as a long statement putting out, trying to get ahead of this, what more stands out to you?
BORGER: Look, I think that as Elie was saying, you know, they don't have to say we're specifically looking for this document that was potentially not handed to the archives. They can be as broad as they want, and I think that's what probably happened today, and got the former president so incensed to release this large statement.
I mean, if this is about the handling of those 15 boxes of documents that went to Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department started investigating it in April, and there was a subpoena that was part of the formal process to the archives to kind of get -- by the FBI to get a handle on what was in those documents as Kaitlan was saying. So maybe there was a discovery that there is something missing that needed to be there or, you know, they raised other questions about why wasn't this included in the box or maybe there's more at Mar-a-Lago that we didn't get that we should know about.
So, you know, I think, again, we don't know specifically what this raid was about, but it seems to me that when you connect it to Mar-a- Lago, what do we know about Mar-a-Lago? Well, there were these documents including classified documents that potentially have been mishandled. And so, it makes sense that the FBI would be kind of -- would be looking at that.
BURNETT: Elie, do you believe that we will find out what the crime was or, that they established probable cause from a judge so we'll be able to understand whether this was related to the documents or January 6th or something else?
HONIG: So the actual affidavit itself, Erin, that prosecutors fill out, that wouldn't come out formally through the court process for several months, way down the line. There are other documents that are attached to the affidavit that could come out. Some of them are sometimes given to the subject, so it could be up to the subject himself or herself. There's always leaks. There's always ways to find out, so it could be that we find out fairly quickly.
But if we're talking about that actual affidavit coming out that prosecutors filled out, that a federal judge approved, that wouldn't happen through the normal court process for many, many months.
And just to another point that Gloria made, it's not surprising really that this execution of a search warrant took quite a while. I mean, search warrants are invasive. They are intrusive. FBI agents typically go into a home or a property with permission to look anywhere where they might find the listed pieces of property. So that can include going through closets, going through dressers, under beds, into safes.
It is an invasion --
HONIG: -- of a person's right to privacy, which is why you have to go through these procedures --
BURNETT: You have to get a warrant.
HONIG: -- which is why you have to get a federal judge to sign off. Exactly. But it does take time. It is invasive, it is intrusive.
BURNETT: And just to make -- underscore that point, Stephanie, so the former president wasn't there, but this is Mar-a-Lago, right? There's a lot of people who are there. There are a lot of people who saw a lot of things today and saw a lot of FBI agents running around, and there are a lot of things we're going to start to hear.
GRISHAM: Well, you know, I've been thinking about that, that's true and it's not. So it's not in season right now. So there are not guests there. It's closed down for the summertime, but there is staff there that runs it day-to-day for sure, and you know, speaking about what Gloria said and previous people, Mar-a-Lago is very big so it could be the office, the business office they would have had to look through, Donald Trump's office that he has, their home, their home apartment, which includes her room, his room, a common room, an office.
You've got their son who has an entire suite there. Her parents have an entire suite there, and then you've got all of the guest rooms. I don't know if they would go through those or not, but, you know, it's a large, large property. There are also family cottages where a lot of family stays when they're in town. So I think that -- I think that that's why they were there for so long, and it would make sense that there would be a lot of people there. I am curious to note how this would work with secret service. That's something I'm really interested in.
BORGER: And, Erin --
BORGER: -- Kevin Liptak has just confirmed what I was saying earlier and what Kaitlan is saying earlier is that the raid began early Monday morning, and the search was already underway at that point, and that it continued, I believe, throughout the day.
And so -- and that, in fact, and I'm going to read this to you now, this source said that law enforcement personnel appeared to be focused on the area of club where Trump's office is and personal quarters are, which makes sense.
BURNETT: And so -- right. So very, very focused there.
All right, let's go back to Kaitlan on that front.
Kaitlan, are you able to shed any more light on that? Of course the interesting thing would be if the president had something that he didn't want people to know about given his sophisticated experience with law enforcement, who knows where it could have put it if it is a specific something.
KAITLAN: Well, and that's what Kevin notes is what onlookers observed is that the action, the law enforcement action that was underway at Mar-a-Lago appeared to be around his personal office, his personal quarters.
That's -- Mar-a-Lago is obviously a massive place and there was a certain part of the area that is just for the former president and his family. And so, that is where it appeared the action was happening today at Mar-a-Lago as this raid went on for several hours, we are told. We are still learning more about what exactly that looked like and what time precisely that they arrived.
I will note that as we are just finding out about this, when the former president did confirm it in a statement to CNN, that the White House -- the Biden White House is also finding out about this. They say White House officials were unaware this was going to happen. They just found out when everyone else found out, when Trump confirmed it in a statement.
They are referring all request for comment or any questions to the Justice Department, to the Justice Department, and the Justice Department right now is not commenting. But I will note as you look at this and you think about this, Erin, and you talk about it, remember it was just a few days ago that the Attorney General Merrick Garland was asked about the former president and whether or not he was considered above the law or if he is someone who if he had committed criminal actions they thought, if he is someone who would be pursued, and he said very clearly that no one was above the law.
And when a reporter interjected to say even the former president, he repeated that sentiment. And so, that has been the Justice Department coming under increasing pressure when it comes to the former president, and they've been very clear on that front.
Of course, the Justice Department only goes so far in this. We know they had been -- investigators had been interviewing former Trump White House staffers about these records, about how they were handled and, of course, what exactly was taken to Mar-a-Lago. As we reported at the time, it was over a dozen boxes, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, so such crucial context.
So, Elie, how does from the point of where we are now, I'm thinking back to Michael Cohen or other situations, from the point where you are now in an investigation where you have executed a search warrant with probable cause for a crime, what's the time line from there to finding out what they got and whether there's going to be a charge.
HONIG: Yeah, Erin, so it will take DOJ and the FBI a substantial amount of time to go through what they got today, assuming that the search warrant was fairly broad. Whatever boxes of documents you grabbed, whatever electronic devices you may have grabbed, laptops that kind of thing. It all has to be downloaded, it all has to be reviewed very carefully. That can take weeks or months.
And I do want to make another point regarding timing here. DOJ has a long-standing policy that they will not announce politically sensitive indictments or take politically sensitive moves such as executing a search warrant within 60 or 90 days of an election, depending who you ask. Different people understand it differently.
Today is just about 90 days out exactly from the midterms. I think maybe 91 or 92 days out from November 8th. So if they're going to abide by that policy, that may be a reason why they did it today because they want to stay clear of that if they're interpreting that as a 90 day rule, that could be a reason they took the move today.
BURNETT: But, Gloria, that puts incredible pressure on them. Whether they're looking at it at 90 or 60, when you talk about the time line Elie is talking about.
BORGER: Well, that's why Jim Comey got in a lot of trouble with Hillary Clinton as you'll recall. So, I think it's quite -- you know, it's quite, look, it's controversial no matter which way you look at it. They just raided the home of a former president of the United States, whether it's 60 days or 90 days, I'm sure they were aware of what Elie is saying, very, very aware and maybe they just made that deadline.
But, of course, this is huge news, and it's very clear to me that the president, the former president is already spinning this in a way that he has been victimized by the Department of Justice and the Democrats, et cetera, et cetera, and this is something that he knew immediately that he needed to turn around and get on right away so that he could say, look at what they did to me today. This is absurd.
BURNETT: All right. Stay with me.
I want to go back to Kaitlan. Kaitlan, I understand that we're getting more information on the crucial thing here, which is what was this about?
COLLINS: Yeah, three sources have confirmed to CNN's Sara Murray and Kristen Holmes that this search warrant that was executed on Mar-a- Lago today was in relation to that investigation into the handling of classified materials that were taken with the former president when he left the White House in January of 2021 to go to Mar-a-Lago. Of course that is something we knew was under investigation, whether they were mishandled and what happened and why those boxes were taken there and what exactly was included.
And now we have confirmed that is why this search warrant was executed on Mar-a-Lago, the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach today. Again, reminding people Trump was not there at the time. He has since confirmed the raid in a statement to CNN saying there were a large number of agents there, that they broke into his safe.
And we should note that what this investigation is about and what we know so far is about 15 boxes over a dozen boxes that had been taken to Mar-a-Lago. We were told generally that they contained documents, mementos, some gifts that were included in that, and obviously --
COLLINS: -- there is a Presidential Records Act. You are not allowed to take certain classified documents with you when you leave the White House. That is the property of the National Archives. And so, there have been major questions about how that was handled.
Now, Trump has maintained his innocence. His aides currently have said that he handled all of those documents properly. There are big questions about what was taken there. Clearly the fact that a raid was conducted and a search warrant was granted for the former president's property in Florida is very notable, and it does signify an escalation in this investigation. Where it ends up, we don't know. It remains to be seen and right now the Justice Department of course is not commenting.
BURNETT: All right, so, Elie, now that we've confirmed this and, you heard Kaitlan say, you know, three sources. We've got multiple reporters here at CNN getting this information now, but what do you read into it?
When this story first broke in the spring, a lot of the conversation was if he had, you know, removed things that he shouldn't remove, that that could be a criminal act. There was always sort of a butt from a lot of lawyers that say the chances of them moving ahead on something like this wouldn't be high, yet here we are, and they are moving ahead, and they have this search warrant. What could cause that?
HONIG: So this is crucial context from Kaitlan that we just got right now. It is a federal crime to remove classified documents wrongly, intentionally. And so if you are filling out that affidavit and you have to list the crime, you can list that as the crime. I think it's also important to note that it appears to be limited to that and not to the broader January 6th investigation.
But I also have to note --
HONIG: -- even if you get a search warrant based on probable cause of crime A and then you find other evidence of crimes B, C, and D, you can still use that evidence to pursue crimes B, C, and D.
So sometimes you find things that you're not expecting when you go in and do a search warrant.
One other important fact that Kaitlan reported, the fact that the White House did not know DOJ was doing this I think is really important. First of all, just institutionally, DOJ absolutely should not -- should never be running these things by the White House for preapproval, and second of all, we've already seen and Donald Trump's immediate reaction was to claim it's political. That was predictable, and by maintaining that wall of separation, I think DOJ sort of protects its own independence and integrity here.
BURNETT: Gloria, this is where, though, the former president will try to seize upon his political motivations.
BURNETT: You'll hear his next steps, oh, I want to keep some gifts from President Xi or whatever it may be he will say and try to minimize.
BORGER: Of course. And the thing that's important to keep in mind here is that the National Archives was subpoenaed for the information that they got from Mar-a-Lago. So there is something in this ongoing investigation that the FBI is conducting that didn't seem right, right?
I mean, if they felt that they had gotten the whole kit and caboodle, that they had gotten every document in those 15 boxes, this step probably wouldn't be necessary. Against again, I'm not a lawyer so correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that once they looked at what they were handed by the Archives, given what they know about January 6th or anything else that they're saying, wait a minute, this is not a complete archive, and you know, the president of the United States is required to hand over these documents when he leaves office.
And if they believe that was not done by looking at what they got from the Archives, the question is, what didn't they get? BURNETT: Well, and Stephanie, again, back to what the former
president himself has just told us, which is in his anger and ire that they just went into the safe. This isn't as if there's 15 boxes stuck in a closet, right? This is an indication there are specific items that may have been pulled out or put somewhere. That's the indication we're getting from the former president himself.
GRISHAM: Absolutely. As Elie said, I can see he's going to already say exactly, you know, that these were mementos or these were love letters from Kim Jong-un, et cetera, et cetera.
GRISHAM: The former president of the United States did not handle classified documents properly. I watched him do it. I watched him go through documents, throw some away, rip some up and put some in his pocket because I remember specifically thinking, I wonder why those go in his pocket.
So, I think this is going to be really interesting. And now that Kaitlan like Elie said, now that Kaitlan gave us that context, I think there are something big is there. I don't think it's going to be just letters. I think it could be about military operations. This is me speculating, I want to be clear.
But I can see the former president thinking those were cool or fun, and we were not a White House that followed the rules. And I will tell you that handling classified information was not something that was really pressed upon us on a daily basis or weekly or monthly.
BURNETT: All right, all of you thank you so very much. I appreciate it as we continue to follow this breaking news of an FBI raid on Mar- a-Lago.
We're going to bring you more details as we get them this hour.
All of this as China's upping the ante tonight announcing a new round of military drills around Taiwan. Tonight, President Biden is voicing concern. Could that situation spiral out of control?
And the woman who burst onto the Hollywood screen in "Grease" went on to sell a hundred million albums. Singer and actress Olivia Newton- John has passed away.
BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden expressing concern as China surrounds Taiwan with live fire military drills, exercises that were unexpectedly extended today. Biden saying he is, quote, concerned they're moving as much as they are.
Meanwhile, Taiwan's defense ministry saying China flew warplanes and sailed 13 vessels near the democratically governed island. China's foreign ministry explained the ongoing drills with a provocative blame. Their only comment is, quote, Taiwan is part of China.
Will Ripley is OUTFRONT in Taipei tonight.
And, Will, you just sat down with Taiwan's foreign minister, an incredible moment for Taiwan right now, a looming threat, live fire drills. If they thought it was just going to be a status quo, that has been completely rocked.
What did he tell you?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it really does feel, I think, from the perspective of the Taiwanese government like a David and Goliath situation. You have a military that has 15 times the defense budget, just 100 miles across the Taiwan Strait. And then you have this island of 24 million people doing its best to prepare for a possible invasion as China is literally flying missiles for the first time, ballistic missiles over Taipei, landing in the waters near Japan, for the first time ever, encircling the island with military drills for the first time ever.
The scale that China is really pulling off here and the fact that the drills have been continuing even after they initially said they would conclude is a very troubling sign, but the foreign minister said they are going to continue to invite foreign friends like the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
This is the excuse he says China gave for launching these drills. But he says clearly the plans for the drills weren't drawn up in a day or two. This is something he says China was waiting to do. They were looking for an excuse, and he says the only response is to stay strong. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIPLEY: What do you worry about?
JOSEPH WU, TAIWAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER: I worry that China may launch a war against Taiwan. What it is doing right now is trying to scare us, and the best way to deal with it, to show to China that we are not scared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIPLEY: What China was essentially doing was they were trying to simulate what a blockade would look like. And there were people who could look out their windows if they lived along the coast and see the live fire exercises. They could hear the explosions from their homes in Taiwan.
The foreign minister says that's clearly intimidation. And yet Beijing is saying it's actually the United States and Nancy Pelosi that are doing the intimidating, that are doing the destabilizing because as you said at the top, Erin, they continue to say that Taiwan is part of China even though the communist rulers in Beijing have never once controlled this island in the more than 70 years that they've been in power since the end of China's civil war.
BURNETT: Right. And, obviously, Taiwan functioning as a democracy with its own government.
Thank you very much, Will Ripley, from Taipei.
I want to go to retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. He was stationed in the Pacific during his military time.
And Danny Russel, a career American diplomat, who accompanied then Vice President Biden to China in 2011.
You both know so much about this.
Colonel, the Pentagon is saying they've got no new assessment of when China could try to take Taiwan by force. So, you know, we've heard assessments from anywhere from a few years to within this decade from America's intelligence, you know, operatives. Is China just accelerated that timeline?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Erin, I think so. I think it's pretty clear what the Chinese are doing is they're indicating exactly how they're going to go about this. They're coming in. They're, you know, moving in, in a blockade-style formation, and they're doing the kinds of things that would be a precursor to an invasion or to a blockade.
And in order to do one, you have to do the other. That's exactly how they're doing this, and I believe we'll see something happen in this realm probably within the next few years, if not sooner.
BURNETT: So, Danny, you have live fire. You have, you know, ballistic missiles flying over Taipei. This is now the reality for people in Taiwan. Tensions between the U.S. and China obviously worsening. You know, the rhetoric's getting worse, but you've now got missiles flying.
And all of this as the U.S. has decided to keep its presence very notable. A nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier, thousands of American personnel is staying right off the seas south of Taiwan to be there. Thousands of American personnel, nuclear powered.
Danny, are we at the point where a mistake or miscalculation by either side could very quickly spiral into something terrible?
DANIEL RUSSEL, VP OF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND DIPLOMACY, ASIA SOCIETY POLICY INSTITUTE: Yeah, I think that's what President Biden was referring to with his expression of concern. It's not that he believes that China wants to go to war, let alone go to war with the United States, but that accidents do happen, have happened between Chinese and U.S. military assets.
And, remember, as you point out, there's a tremendous number of military assets operating in a rather limited space. So in the past, the U.S. and China had a variety of dialogues and mechanisms that could de-escalate when there was an incident and prevent the incident from becoming a crisis.
For the last five years, those channels have shut down, and now there's essentially nothing, which means there's no insulation on the wire, so to speak, no fire extinguisher. Biden wants guardrails. He doesn't want a head-on collision with China, but Xi Jinping has taken this opportunity to try to teach a lesson to Taiwan, teach a lesson to the world and also to placate his domestic constituencies.
BURNETT: All right. Both of you, thank you so much. I appreciate your perspective tonight.
We'll be right back.
BURNETT: Tonight, police are searching for this car. They say it could be connected to the killings of four people in Albuquerque, New Mexico. All of the victims are men, Muslim men, leaving a community in fear with no suspect identified tonight.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.
IMTIAZ HUSSAIN, VICTIM'S BROTHER: Something just happened here.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was just after 9:00 at night last Monday with Mohammed Afzaal Hussein stepped out of his Albuquerque, New Mexico, apartment to take a phone call. His brother says neighbors tell him that when Muhammad Afzaal got to the end of the block, he was ambushed.
HUSSAIN: This is the place there his body was found.
LAVANDERA: Imtiaz Hussain says neighbors tell him a gunman pulled up on his brother and fired multiple rounds. He says the neighbors also told him Muhammad Afzaal ran away. Then the driver pulled up next to him and fired again.
HUSSAIN: He was laying down with his face like this, hand on the face, and this half of his head was gone.
LAVANDERA: From that, you take that whoever was behind this was motivated by extreme anger?
HUSSAIN: Extra, extra, extra, extreme, extreme anger. So this is not a random killing. This is extremely motivated and extreme hatred that he wanted to make sure he couldn't survive.
LAVANDERA: The murders of four Muslim men have sent a shock wave of fear and panic through the small Islamic community of Albuquerque. Law enforcement investigators say each victim was alone fired on and killed in ambush-style attacks. The four murders took place in southeast Albuquerque. Mohammad Ahmadi was killed last November. Muhammad Afzaal Hussain,
Aftab Hussain and Naeem Hussain were all gunned down in the last two weeks.
On Friday, Naeem Hussain attended the funerals of two other victims.
Tahir Gauba with a mosque in Albuquerque said he spoke with him briefly after the service and said he sounded concern.
TAHIR GAUBA, ISLAMIC CENTER OF NEW MEXICO: He said, hey, brother, what's going on? Everything going to be okay? I said, yeah, don't worry about it, just be careful.
LAVANDERA: Just a few hours later, the 25-year-old truck driver was killed. Naeem's brother-in-law says he was shot while sitting if his car in this parking lot.
This isn't the first crisis the Albuquerque Muslim community has faced. Last year, around the time of the first murder, a woman attempted to set fire to the Islamic center mosque. The woman was arrested, and her case is still pending.
Muslim leaders are now urging members to use the buddy system when moving around the city and avoid being out at night alone.
As we finished our interview with Tahir Gauba, he checked his phone.
GAUBA: Right now, I have probably three, four, missed calls from my wife. Where are you? It's getting dark. You know, she's freaking out. So it's terrifying to be honest with you.
LAVANDERA: For Imtiaz Hussain, the terror he can't escape is the conversation with the police officer who told him his brother was dead.
HUSSAIN: He said, he's deceased. You know, everything fell apart. Our life became dark.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Our life became dark, he says.
And, Erin, it is important to point out that so far, investigators have not offered any clue or any kind of suggestion as to what the motive behind these murders might have been or who might have been behind these murders. Obviously, given the uncertainty of what's going on and the fear, there's a great deal of speculation and theories, but so far at this moment, we don't know anything about the motive.
BURNETT: Ed Lavandera, thank you very much.
And thanks so much to all of you for joining us this hour.
"AC360" starts right now.