Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

WSJ: Informant Tipped Off Investigators About More Docs At Mar- a-Lago After National Archives Took 15 Boxes Of Docs; Trump Takes The 5th As He Faces 12 State Attorneys In New York Probe; Judge To Decide Whether Sen. Graham Should Be Forced To Testify In Georgia Probe Of Trump's Efforts To Overturn Election; Biden Hails Easing Inflation, But Americans Still Facing High Prices. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 10, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. "The Wall Street Journal" right now reporting an informant tipped off investigators about more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. That news breaking just moments ago.

Plus, Trump deposed. The former president under oath facing 12 state attorneys today for four hours, but Trump pleading the Fifth -- something he has said you only do if you're guilty.

And inside Mar-a-Lago, amazed with more than 100 rooms with a large areas off limits to anyone but family. An expert on the property walks us through.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news about what led the FBI to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago. "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting tonight that informant familiar with the White House documents that Trump had at Mar-a-Lago told investigators that there were more of them, more classified documents, and this informant told the investigators this -- after the National Archives had retrieved 15 boxes earlier this summer, thinking they had a lot more than they had. Well, enter the informant, a significant development this hour, as Justice Department officials had doubts that the Trump team was being truthful about what material was still on the property.

This breaking news comes as the head of the FBI was silent when pressed on Trump's baseless accusations of FBI agents planting evidence during the search on his Mar-a-Lago home. Christopher Wray dodged the question.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Well, as I'm sure you can appreciate, that's not something that I can talk about. So I'd refer you to the department.


BURNETT: Wray, of course, was Trump's, you know, handpicked director, of course, and tonight within the Justice Department, a major debate on whether they should speak out to the public about the search on Trump's home.

CNN is learning that some Justice Department officials believe the agency should release the public statement about the search. It has been more than 48 hours since agents entered Trump's home, and the questions are only growing.

Now, ordinarily, they would not give answers, but this is no ordinary situation, and in the absence of answers and information, Trump and his followers are filling the void with absurdity.

Just a short time ago, the former president writing on Monday without notification or warning, an army of agents broke into Mar-a-Lago. A surprise attack.

A surprise attack? Broke in? An army?

But this is what's getting out there. The reality in this case is that it's all completely bogus. You may expect it hearing those words. But it does happen to be bogus.

The Department of Justice went out of its way to avoid making Mondays search a spectacle. People briefed on the matter are saying that agents appeared at 10:00 a.m. They didn't come at 6:30 a.m. to catch people in their underwear, 10:00 a.m. Not wearing their usual FBI uniforms, wearing plain clothes.

But all these developments are coming as Trump's legal troubles continue to mount. In New York today, just before 9:00 a.m., Trump entered the New York attorney generals office who's investigating his organization's finances. He was having a deposition taken.

He left around 3:30. So we are told the questioning time was four hours. Four hours is a very long time, when he took the Fifth on everything. It's a lot of time to say we are not answering your questions.

We're going to have more on this deposition coming up. But, first, Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT live in Washington tonight.

And, Pamela, what more are you learning here about the FBI possibly getting help from the inside in terms of, guess what? They did not give you all the information you asked for.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. You know, what's interesting here, Erin, is that this is an investigation that has been going on for more than a year. But things clearly started heating up over the summer, after that June visit from the FBI to Mar- a-Lago, "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that someone familiar with the stored documents told investigators that there may still be more classified information in Mar-a-Lago even after the Archives took away those 15 boxes of documents stored there that had come from the White House.

So you have this, the fact the FBI spoke to a witness, and we don't know who this witness is, if it was a Trump representative, because we know they were talking to Trump people, or if it was someone at the Archives that had insight. We just don't know, but what we do know is according to "The Wall Street Journal", but CNN's not confirmed, that the FBI was talking to someone who led them to eventually execute this search warrant that we just saw a couple of days ago.

You also have the fact I'm told by sources that the FBI was already suspicious that Trumps representatives were not being fully forthcoming with what was left there at Mar-a-Lago and felt -- and thought that there was documents that still belonged in the government's hands.


So, it's helping us better understand what led to this unprecedented surge that is now really putting a lot of pressure on the DOJ, Erin, to speak out. As my colleague, Even Perez, is reporting, internally, there is this active discussion. Some really believed that the DOJ should put out a public statement to address this.

As you pointed out, it's not typical DOJ protocol to do that, but this -- these are extraordinary circumstances. So far, though, Merrick Garland, the attorney general, has held the line, that he wants to stick to DOJ policy and not talk about an ongoing investigation. So we will have to wait and see what happens.

BURNETT: Pamela Brown, thank you very much, reporting from Washington tonight.

I want to go now to Stephanie Grisham, former Trump White House press secretary. She resigned after the insurrection on January 6th.

Also with me tonight, Dave Aronberg, the Democratic state attorney for Palm Beach County. And Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney and former deputy assistant attorney general.

Thanks so much to all of you.

Stephanie, as this news is breaking here, just these past few minutes, right, that "The Wall Street Journal" is saying that there was an informant on the inside who told investigators, guess what, Trump is not giving everything. He was not giving everything they were asking for. They are holding back.

You suggested when this news was first breaking, we were talking, you said someone inside may have helped. Why was that your immediate thought? And now -- now it is being reported by "The Wall Street Journal", what's your reaction?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, it's just because right now he's got such a small circle around him. I know how Mar-a-Lago is laid out, so it would have to be something -- someone very close to him to know not only what was brought where it's being stored. And knowing how paranoid the president was while we were at the White House, I can imagine what things are like now.

He's got a very small circle around him, I don't believe even the staff of Mar-a-Lago would be involved in this. So that's where I kind of came from on Monday night when I was talking to you about it.

BURNETT: Pretty significant, though, because you are talking about what's a small circle it is now. It was never large, it's now incredibly small. Harry, what do you read into that? I mean, that is somebody, assuming this reporting will all bear out, somebody in a very small circle could turned and sold him out.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: That's right, and I think Stephanie's surmised was always sound, and others have done it, because one thing you can be sure of even if you do not know the content of the affidavit, was that it was bulletproof. And what that meant among other things is it gave the magistrate very good reason, probable cause plus, to know that there was going to be classified information down there, things that in fact his having could be bad for national interests. They needed an extra thing they had found out since June, and it makes all the sense in the world that would have come from a confidential informant indeed. It's hard to know where else it might have come from.

BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, Dave, does this surprise you? I know that you know quite a bit, obviously being from Florida and knowing so many of the law enforcement players involved.

DAVE ARONBERG (D), STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY: Yeah, it doesn't surprise me at all, and this has to be a gut punch to Trump, who demands complete loyalty, although, that loyalty is a one way street. I suspected an informant because the DOJ could have tried getting these documents through other means, like a subpoena. But they did not do so, and that means they did not trust Trump to comply with the subpoena.

So they thought it was urgent. They sent investigators to go grab them themselves. If you are going to get a judge to sign off on a search warrant, you need to specify not just the documents you want, but also the location of the documents. How do you get that? You get someone from the inside to do it.

And the fact that this is going to be the most scrutinized search warrant in the history of our country shows you that it is bulletproof, as Harry said, but also that the materials seized must be more than just love letters from Kim Jong-un. It must be serious documents that implicate national security.

BURNETT: So, Harry, let me ask you about that. Is that how you see it? Also, to that point, when we get to some things we do not know, but we do know exist, right, which is when they showed up with information, they took things and Trump would have a list of what they talk, we might know some of those information.

Maybe it wasn't the love letter as Trump called it for Kim Jong-un, but it was something else. And it may be very specific, and that may be, you know, maybe information known, right? Printed information, right?

LITMAN: Yeah, you got to imagine he knows. Now, you know, of course, people are trying already to unseal the affidavit and you say there's a debate at DOJ. Very hard to see it and imagine this confidential informant.

You know, Trump was ready to hang Mike Pence.


He'd be ready to draw and quarter this guy. And it has to be very important, therefore, to keep it confidential and keep the ongoing investigation confidential.

But to your question, yes, he's got -- he knows what it is or his lawyers know what it is because they've been playing around with DOJ and the Archives since at least June and now, there are things that are missing and very possibly, some of them are singular copies. And those, of course, when they're re gone, they're gone.


LITMAN: It's not clear, by the way, just very quickly, that what the document lists they left them with, is that itemized and that specific, but even if it isn't, they will know.

BURNETT: They will know. And so, when the former president says the DOJ needs to speak and McConnell and others are saying the DOJ needs to speak. Well, perhaps Trump could just tell them, Trump could tell his Republican comrades what was taken, what it was about, right? He has that knowledge?

LITMAN: That's to me -- yes, and he won't because it'd be damning.

BURNETT: So, Stephanie, you know, there is the question about why now, right? These negotiations have been going on and on, and they had reached a point where boxes had been handed over at some point. This informant now comes forward. But when they move, they appeared to move very quickly. What does that say to you, Stephanie?

GRISHAM: I think as your previous guest just said, I think that the confidential informant was somebody that knows something. Again, I'm speculating here, but I think that this person said, you know, maybe something is about to be moved or destroyed, you need to get in here.

And I think the person is so close in that circle, that whatever judge would have signed off on it, that is why they would have signed off on it because they really trust this person. I think that the person feels that, you know, the walls are closing in on Trump, right? He's under investigation, six, seven, I can't even track right now. So, that's kind of my thought.

And one other thing, Erin, if you don't mind, it's a little off-topic, I just -- it just occurred to me while we were talking or listening, while I was listening a second ago, with all of the rhetoric happening, I would just urge right now, Donald Trump, or his staff, or his supporters, or I don't know, Republican leadership, instead of whining about being victims right now, perhaps they could put out some statement saying there is no room for violence right now.

I think that's really, really important when you see some of the news and the rhetoric coming out. Maybe we learn from January 6th.

BURNETT: And, you know, Dave, to that point, what we've heard from the former president is he's saying that they -- you know, ever -- using the word planting, talking about the FBI and what they came, hopefully not planting information, right, when they came in, that's what's filling the void here. He's talking about an attack. He's talking about an army. That's what he's saying happened to him, right?

It runs counter to what we understand happened, which was showing up at 10:00 in the morning, not 6:30 a.m., showing up in plain clothes, not wearing FBI logo jackets. Very different from what Trump is saying. He even used the word "siege".

SO, Dave, what more are you able to tell us? Yes?

ARONBERG: Well, it is telling that he's saying that the FBI planted evidence. That is a desperate defense. And it ignores the fact that his own lawyers were present at Mar-a-Lago for this.

So, lawyers aren't -- his lawyers aren't doing their jobs if they are allowing FBI to plant evidence right in front of them. But that's a misnomer, it didn't happen. The fact is that this was a very orderly search of the property. It was not a raid.

There were plainclothes FBI agents who walked around escorted by Secret Service, and they collected documents. But it is in Donald Trump's interest to call it a raid or a siege because he wants to be a MAGA martyr. He wants to run for president. He has now just sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Who is Ron DeSantis? We've forgotten who this guy is at this point.

So Trump gets what he wants, and he gets to be rested and ready to run for president with a pocket full of grievances.

BURNETT: Thank you all very much. I appreciate your time, as we get that latest headline breaking this hour.

Next, Trump takes the Fifth today, refusing to answer questions during a deposition that lasted for hours. So, what went on inside the room? I mean, that is a lot of questions when your answer is no answer, four hours. Breaking new details next.

Plus, we're going to take you inside Trump's Mar-a-Lago tonight to show you what FBI agents may have seen during Monday's search. It is a massive place.

And new details about an Iranian plot to assassinate two high-profile former Trump officials and the man behind the alleged plan said to be on the run tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BURNETT: Breaking news, new details on what happened inside the room where Donald Trump took the Fifth. For four hours, the former president refused to answer questions in a deposition from New York Attorney General Letitia James's probe into the Trump Organization's finances.

I want to show you video of Trump, this is him leaving Trump tower this morning to go to the deposition. He took the Fifth even as two of his children, don junior and Ivanka did not take the Fifth, when they were deposed in the same investigation.

Trump took the Fifth, and I think it's worth reminding everyone watching what Trump thinks of people who do that.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: The mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?

When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the Fifth so they're not prosecuted, when you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the Fifth, I think it's disgraceful.

Have you seen what's going on in front of Congress? The Fifth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Fifth Amendment. Horrible, horrible.


BURNETT: Kara Scannell is OUTFRONT.

Kara, what else can you tell us about what happened during the four hours of this deposition with the former president?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Erin, that's right. So, this deposition lasted four hours, excluding breaks, and I'm told that the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, attended half of it, and she kicked off the deposition by making a general statement that is usually given before there's testimony.


I spoke with one of Trump's attorneys, Ron Fischetti, and he said that, he then addressed this saying that the former president very badly wanted to testify, but upon his advice, he was not going to and would invoke the Fifth.

That is when the former president made a statement invoking the Fifth Amendment saying, you know, much of the public statements he had given earlier in the day calling it a witch hunt, referencing the FBI's search at Mar-a-Lago, saying, though, that he would invoke the Fifth upon advice of counsel and not answer any questions. So then Fischetti told me that the questions began, there was one of

the state attorneys, he was flanked by ten others, he was the one asking Trump questions as these other attorneys were heading notes and documents. And for each and every one of those questions, Donald Trump responded same answer over and over again to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Now, this continued on for several hours and I'm told attorney general left around lunchtime, and despite the barbs they have both thrown at each other, Trump shook hands with James as she left. You know, I was told at the beginning of this deposition, the mood was fairly tense, but turned cordial and professional. And when Trump eventually left, he shook the hand of all the state attorneys who were there for that deposition.

He left around 3:00 today. We believe he's heading to Mar-a-Lago. Now, as you said, this is a high stakes case. This deposition had a lot at risk. And the former president was advised by some people that he should answer these questions because of his potential run for the presidency.

They weren't sure how that would play politically, but he didn't. He heeded the advice and that might hurt him in a civil case if the New York attorney general does bring one because a jury can hold that against him. But it could greatly benefit him if there is a criminal investigation, if there is a criminal case, because anything he said today, which is nothing, cannot be used against him -- Erin.

BURNETT: Hmm. Kara, interesting, and interesting what that may imply in terms of where he thinks it's going on the criminal investigation side to the point you just made. Thank you so much, Kara, doing all that reporting.

And now, let's go to Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. She's a member of the January 6th Select Committee.

Congresswoman, I want to ask you about Trump's deposition, but first, we did just get some breaking developments. "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that there was an informant who tipped off investigators that there were or may have been more classified documents at Mar-a- Lago.

Congresswoman, when you hear that, and word of an informant, how significant could it be?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, you know, the Select Committee is not a criminal prosecuting body. So we are learning about this just the same you are from the news, and thank you for breaking the news. But clearly, you know, just watching, it looks like this is a serious matter, you know, that apparently, at least the allegation would be, that the former president stole things from the White House, some of which perhaps were classified. And, you know, you don't get a warrant executed, you know, something this high profile, unless you dotted every I and crossed every T.

So, obviously, I'm watching. I'm interested. Meanwhile, the committee is doing its work to uncover elements of the plot leading up to the 6th of January.

BURNETT: I want to ask you more about how those -- these two things may end up dovetailing if they do. But, first, I just played Donald Trump. You heard him. He said taking the Fifth is horrible, disgraceful. It's what the mob does.

It is something that Trump did today for four straight hours. Does that signal anything to you, Congresswoman?

LOFGREN: Well, obviously, he said that he was following his lawyer's advice. Certainly, in a criminal prosecution, one is admonished -- the jury is admonished not to make anything or draw a conclusion about taking the Fifth. But when it comes to other matters, civil litigation, or even legislative matters, people do draw conclusions from that.

And if he was afraid that he'd done something that would incriminate him criminally, that's a pretty big deal I think.

BURNETT: Right, because, of course, obviously, as it is, it's civil, not criminal.


BURNETT: So, now, I want to ask you about -- this point about dovetailing possibly in what we're seeing -- what we just saw on Mar- a-Lago, and what you were working on on the January 6th Committee.

Last night, Congresswoman, I spoke to Ty Cobb. He, of course, is the former White House lawyer for then President Trump; defended him in the Mueller investigation.

Now, he told me very clearly, Congresswoman, that he does not think the Mar-a-Lago search is ultimately about classified documents. Here's why.


TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I think it's about the underlying big lie and the January 6th. I think that's the big enchilada. You know, it's -- I think it would be truly bizarre to bring a Public Records Act charge against a former president as the first time in history of indicting a former president.



BURNETT: Congresswoman, do you think he's right? This is about the big enchilada, January 6th, as he said?

LOFGREN: I have no idea, but I do think the two investigations could potentially overlap depending on what these documents are.

You know, we remember from Watergate, that it's the cover-up that gets you, not just the misconduct. We are -- the committee is very concerned about some of the disappearing texts in the Defense Department, the disappearing texts in the Secret Service, and the lack of being forthcoming with information until we issued a subpoena to the Secret Service, and the unwillingness of a variety of people to come in and tell the committee the truth, the cover-up.

Now, if this was material related to that, obviously, there would be overlap. But we don't know that. So, you know, I know people are speculating.

The most useful thing would be to get a list of what was recovered. The former president has that list. And I do think it would be a public service to list it.

BURNETT: And, of course, as you point out, he could because he has that list as well as the DOJ.

Now, one final question for you, Congresswoman, Republican Congressman Scott Perry had his cell phone seized by the FBI and that was literally one day after the Mar-a-Lago search. Your committee has shown that Perry was a significant player in Trump's efforts to overturn the election.


BURNETT: That he even sought a pardon because of that.

He is trying to link the seizure of his phone to the Mar-a-Lago search.

Do you think that's possible?

LOFGREN: Well, it strikes me as unlikely. I mean, we don't know. Obviously, the Department of Justice does not check in with the committee.

But you are correct. We have ample evidence that Representative Perry was involved in this plot. He refused to talk to the committee. But we do have evidence from other sources about his deep involvement in this plot.

I don't know if that was the origin of the warrant for his phone. It seems hard to imagine that his personal phone would be connected with classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, but we'll find out in due course I am sure.

And I would encourage Representative Perry to come now that the Department of Justice has his cellphone. Come ahead. Come talk to the committee. Tell us what you know. And we welcome you any day.

BURNETT: Congresswoman Lofgren, thanks so much. I appreciate your time.

LOFGREN: You bet.

BURNETT: And next, a story you'll first see OUTFRONT. We're going to take you inside Mar-a-Lago. It is amazing, more than 100 rooms, right? This is what took them all day to go through. Many of them are only accessible to the Trump family.

Plus, the legal troubles mounting for Trump's inner circle. Senator Lindsey Graham's attorney is in court. Now, they're fighting a subpoena. Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani is now ordered to appear before a grand journey.



BURNETT: Breaking news, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting an informant told investigators there were more classified documents at Trump's Mar-a-Lago after the National Archives had retrieved 15 boxes earlier this year. So an informant said 15 boxes, but they held stuff back.

This comes amid growing questions about what investigators found, and why Trump wanted to keep whatever these documents were from the government.

Here is what we do know about the search. We know it included Trump's personal quarters, his offices and a basement storage area that had been padlock after the FBI visited Mar-a-Lago in June and it had documents with top secret markings in it at that time.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mar-a-Lago is a nearly 100-year-old maze of more than 100 rooms. And the FBI search could have been impossible.

At least Sara Blaskey thought so. She is the coauthor of a book about Trump and his Florida home.

SARAH BLASKEY, AUTHOR, "THE GRIFTER'S CLUB": My thought was, how are they going to find anything in Mar-a-Lago because there are so many nooks and crannies.

FOREMAN: But then "The Washington Post" said some boxes were found in the basement area, and she recognized another focal point, just above the ball room in the 2nd floor. The former president's personal suite.

BLASKEY: Around that same location is where his office would have also been. So those areas are private. They're accessible only to the family and then also the staff that keep it clean and that kind of thing.

FOREMAN: Trump spent hundreds of days at his presidency at his properties, Mar-a-Lago above all others. There, he played golf at his nearby course, ordered a missile strike on Syria and entertained the president of China, the prime minister of Japan --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Many of the world's great leaders request to come to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. They like it. I like it. We're comfortable.

FOREMAN: Political allies were welcomed. So were members of the private club, who insiders say a few years ago could enjoy the warm Florida sun for a cool $200,000 fee, along with a pool and proximity to the leader of the free world.

"The New York Times" called Mar-a-Lago a kind of Washington steak house on steroids, where members and their guests enjoy a level of access that could elude even the best connected of lobbyists.

BLASKEY: Mar-a-Lago is a place that you want to do business with him. It wasn't ever the White House. Mar-a-Lago is a place that you closed deals and that was because that is where he was comfortable.

FOREMAN: Trump called all the shots, but then he lost the presidency. This past January, officials at the National Archive say they collected 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago, some containing items marked as classified national security information. Some containing papers which had been torn up by the former president.


FOREMAN (on camera): And now, the feds have snatched another batch from Trump's grasp, exactly what holds, Erin, as you point out, we don't really know, but suffice to say, agents not only cracking the safe, they cracked into his safe space -- Erin.

BURNETT: Tom Foreman, thank you very much.

I want to go straight now to long time GOP donor, Dan Eberhart, because he's been to Trump -- to Mar-a-Lago and just met with Trump there in May.

So, Dan, you hear Tom Foreman going through Mar-a-Lago like a maze, right? Just the entire way that it's designed.


BURNETT: The reporter there, Sarah Blaskey, writing about the resort, saying it's massive site for the FBI agents to search through. And sure, they took most of the day, but it's a lot in a short amount of time.

What was your takeaway from when you were there?

EBERHART: Well, I mean, you know, not thinking anything about the documents or whatever but in my meeting with Trump, we talked about the economy, we talked about the market and we talked about energy policy.

So -- but as far as the space, look, I've been to Mar-a-Lago a half dozen times, maybe. You know, it's 62,000 square foot house essentially, right? It's got all kinds of hallways, nooks and crannies and whatever. So, I think it would be very difficult to search it exhaustively.

BURNETT: Right, which is obviously significant depending on what these documents are --


BURNETT: -- and how much somebody tried to hide them.

"The Wall Street Journal" is reporting, Dan, tonight that an informant told investigators that there may be more classified documents at Mar- a-Lago, right? So the National Archives said, hey, get the boxes back, negotiations happened, 15 boxers were sent back from Mar-a-Lago, and then entered the informant. The informant says, guess what, stuff -- he held stuff back.

If this informant, Dan, happens to be in Trump's inner circle, we don't know that, but if that is the case, it would be hugely significant.

How big is his inner circle right now?

EBERHART: Look, I think his inner circle is maybe 25 people or something. It was probably 150 people, you know, when he was in office. But, you know, there's a lot of people coming in and out of Mar-a-Lago.

I've seen it myself. I know people that have been there, you know, for 4 or 5 hours, seen two or three prominent people and their staff move in and out. There's an awful lot of traffic of folks moving in and out of Mar-a-Lago at any given day.

BURNETT: Yeah. But I think the context that you gave, about 25 people in the inner circle is significant.


BURNETT: Again, we don't know where the informant is, whether in Trump's inner circle or the Archives or elsewhere. But that context is important.

Now, I know you believe that this is a pivotal moment, that it could change the playing field in 2024. How so?

EBERHART: Well, you know, what I think is -- and my initial reaction is, look, this is blood in the water. This is really going to be the thing that finally smashes the Trump ice cube and gets off this cloak of invincibility and really lets people in.

You know, what's seems to have happened though is, you know, a lot of -- a lot of the Trump support really tripled down, and Trump seems to be stepping on it and using it as proof that the deep state is out to get him. And I think that's unfortunate. I think that they'll ultimately be proven wrong. But that's what seems to have happened initially.

BURNETT: I understand that people in Trump's orbit you've been speaking to have said, well, now, there's a big push to announce a presidential run sooner rather than later, right? He's now again taking the oxygen out of the room. He's now again in center stage. Do you think an announcement is imminent?

EBERHART: I don't think an announcement is imminent, but I think that, you know, this definitely gives him more reason to announce in his mind. I think the best thing to do strategically would be to wait and wait after the midterms. And I know that's what McCarthy, I know that's what McConnell would prefer.

But if I'm Trump right now, I think, you know, he might be thinking to step on the story, let this, you know, suck all the oxygen out of the room and keep people talking about him and really tried to clear the field. I don't think that's what's in his best interest, but I think that what might be what he's thinking.

And I've talked to several people whose minds have been changed. People that thought he should wait and now think he should get in. ASAP.

BURNETT: All right. Dan, thank you so much. I appreciate your perspective.

EBERHART: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Senator Lindsey Graham fighting a subpoena to testify in Georgia about Trump's efforts to overturn the election there. Will Graham be forced to take ascent?

Plus, inflation, still way too high but maybe starting to cool. Is it just in time for a win for Biden?



BURNETT: Tonight, a federal judge in a letter to citing whether Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham should be forced to testify in front of a Georgia grand jury about former President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Graham trying to quash a subpoena from the Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis that is that about at least two phone calls that he made to the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger.

Raffensperger says the senator suggested tossing legal ballots.


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Senator Graham implied for us to audit the envelopes and then throw out the ballots for counties who had the highest frequency error of signatures.


BURNETT: Nick Valencia is outside the federal courthouse in Atlanta.

And, Nick, what is the latest?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, a federal judge here is asking for additional written arguments from both sides before she makes a ruling. What is at issue is whether or not Senator Graham is protected by the U.S. Constitution speech or debate clause. His attorneys believe he is, which makes him immune from having to testify in front of the special purpose grand jury.

They believe that he was operating in a legislative capacity when he placed two calls to Georgia secretary of state's office in the wake of the 2020 election. We know at least one of those calls was directly to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

And in a interview in 2020 with Wolf Blitzer, Raffensperger said there was an implication from Graham that he should toss out legal ballots.

Now, Senator Graham has denied those allegations, but a judge here says that she won't make a ruling until she sees those written arguments. She says it could come as early as Friday, but probably more likely on Monday -- Erin.

BURNETT: So there is that part of it, which is, of course, Lindsey Graham.


There's also now Rudy Giuliani, I understand, Nick, a judge also ordering him to appear in person in front of a grand jury next week, and his lawyers are trying to delay it saying he can't fly for medical reasons. The judge says, get in the car, you need to be here.

What more can you tell us about this?

VALENCIA: Yeah, well, remember, Erin, he was supposed to be here on Tuesday to testify in front of that special grand jury, until a late motion was filed by his legal team because of those health reasons that you say. A doctor, he says, prohibited him traveling by air.

But during that emergency motion hearing, the Fulton County superior court judge said he must show up here in person on August 17th, giving him more than enough time to find alternative methods of transportation.

We should remind our viewers, Giuliani had three interactions with state legislators in the wake of the 2020 election to spread false conspiracy theories, theories that have since proven to be untrue.

Just listen to the kinds of things that he was saying in December of 2020.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRES. TRUMP: They look like they are passing out dope, not just ballots. It's quite clear they are stealing votes.


VALENCIA: What's not clear is whether or not Giuliani is the target of this criminal investigation. His attorneys want that answered. The D.A. hasn't said one way or another, what we do know is that Giuliani is going to have to appear on the 17th, and that this D.A.'s investigation has been broad in scope and wide-reaching -- Erin.

BURNETT: Nick, thank you very much, from the courthouse tonight.

Next, news of the search at Trump's Mar-a-Lago has been dominating the headlines everywhere. Can Biden use this to his advantage?

And the Justice Department revealing a chilling Iranian plot to assassinate to high-level officials who worked for Trump.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden hailing a new report showing soaring inflation eased up a bit last month. Prices holding steady, still though uncomfortably high. But, of course, once you hold steady, it's fueling hopes that inflation may have peaked.

Biden, though, making it clear that more trouble could lie ahead.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The global challenges we face, from the war in Europe, to disruption of supply chains, pandemic shutdowns in Asia, we could face additional headwinds in the months ahead.


BURNETT: He is being cautious, but obviously there is a glimmer of hope.

OUTFRONT now, James Carville, the former lead strategist of the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign.

All right. James, always appreciate talking to you.

Let's just start with this. Prices are still way too high. They are still a problem. However, right, not continuing to go up, right? You've got to plateau before you can come down.

So there is this little window possible opportunity. You look at things like gas prices, average price for a gallon is $4.01. Terrible, but it was $4.68 a month ago. It has dropped for 57 days running.

So, these are significant things, James. If people start to feel relief in these coming weeks, is that enough to turn around Biden and the Democrats' midterm prospects?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, first of all it would certainly help a lot, but I'm not sure the Democratic midterm prospect is as grim as some people think. Look last night in Minnesota, the first congressional district, a Democrat really over-performed in the partisan nature of the district. Look what's happened in Kansas, the special state Senate election in Nebraska.

So, I think we are overplaying right now just how much trouble the Democrats are in come November.

Now, I think it's close, I don't see a commanding position, but I think it's better than most people think it is. And it would certainly help a lot if gas prices kept coming down, because that is something that people deal with and see every day. They are high. Inflation is, but you can't get lower until you start lowering it. The markets seem to be pretty encouraged by it, that is what I know on that.

BURNETT: Well, it's important, you know, as you see -- you're seeing this, that perhaps it's not this walk in the park that many Republicans had envisioned. Frankly, a lot of Democrats had accepted.


BURNETT: Biden has been enjoying a string of winds, right? He had bad news for months. Then he had a lot of winds, whether it was the abortion vote in Kansas, or these prices coming down, or his modified Build Back Better passing, right? A whole lot of winds.

Trump, though, right now is looming over everything, this Mar-a-Lago raid a big part of it, dominating the conversation after that raid at Mar-a-Lago, which has taken attention away from Biden.

A question for you, James -- can Biden and Democrats use this to their advantage?

CARVILLE: Well, first of, all Trump is a scared, fat, old man. He would -- you know, he could tell us what's in that search warrant. There is nothing to prevent that. He could have testified before the New York attorney general, he did not do that.

President Biden doesn't have any say-so of when the Justice Department moves. But this is just the beginning. I mean, I hear there's talk about Trump, you know, being a lock for the nomination in 2024. It might be a lock, the only thing might lock on him is a jail door. I mean, this is a very serious -- very, very serious that the Justice Department has undertaken.

And, like I say, if he thinks it is unjust, then why doesn't he just make that search warrant public of which he totally can do?

BURNETT: Yeah, right.

CARVILLE: And the reason he can't is (AUDIO GAP).


BURNETT: He absolutely could.

You talk about this being very serious in the Justice Department, of course, it is, but the Justice Department obviously is sort of looming for Biden, too, there could be some headaches there because of their investigation into his son Hunter's business practices. We understand it's at a critical place, and investigators are weighing whether to bring charges on Hunter Biden.

Look, this is -- all of this is happening as we are, what, 90 or 91 days away from the midterms. How do you see the Hunter Biden piece of this playing out? Is it a problem for Biden?

CARVILLE: Well, I don't know. I know what I read. I listen to a lot of right-wing radio and TV, it was part of my job, one of the more distasteful part of it, but I do. And it's all Hunter Biden all the time. I have no idea.

The other thing is I don't think, whatever trouble that Hunter Biden is in, I don't know how much of that is going to stick to Joe Biden honestly.


I mean, you know, I remember President Bush 41's son got into some kind of trouble, I forget the exact circumstances. Some say the wrong (ph) thing, I don't know how much that really mattered.

So I don't know. That's the real answer. I know what I read in the paper. I know what I hear from people like you and apparently, it's a serious thing, but other than that I have no knowledge of it.

BURNETT: Well, I respect -- I respect when a person has an opinion and is firm with it, and I respect when they say I don't know. We need more of that from people. It's so refreshing, honestly.

James, thanks. I do appreciate you.

CARVILLE: Thank you, Erin. I know we had a good night in Minnesota last night. Thank you.

BURNETT: All right. All right, goodnight.

And next, the Justice Department accusing an Iranian of trying to orchestrate the assassination of Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton. Tonight, Bolton responds.


BURNETT: And finally tonight, a plot to kill. The Department of Justice alleging an Iranian operative tried to hire an assassin to kill two top members of the Trump administration, former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and former national security adviser, John Bolton.

According to the FBI, Shahram Poursafi tried to get someone to kill Bolton for $300,000, and a source tells CNN he wanted to hire someone for a million dollars to kill Pompeo. The alleged plot was likely retaliation for the 2020 air strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Bolton spoke to will flutter about the plot tonight and warned that other Americans may be at risk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It tells you what the regime is. It tells you about its character. It wouldn't surprise me. I think there are substantial number of people who are vulnerable to these Iranian efforts, and unfortunately, I'm afraid we may learn more.


BURNETT: The suspect has not yet been arrested. He is currently wanted by the FBI.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.