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Erin Burnett Outfront

Source: Trump's Team Considering Challenging DOJ's Move To Unseal Search Warrant, Has Contacted Outside Attorneys; Suspect Armed With AR-15 Who Tried To Attack FBI Office Is Dead; CNN: Unearthing Of Highly Sensitive Docs Led To Mar-a-Lago Search; Gas Prices Fall Below $4 For The First Time Since March; At Least 7 Russian Aircraft Destroyed In Explosions At Crimea Air Base, Believed To Be One Of The Biggest Losses Since WWII. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 11, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. Trump now considering challenging the Justice Department's motion to unseal the warrant used in the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, after Attorney General Merrick Garland asked the judge tonight to make that warrant public to the American people.

Plus, what do we know about the person who reportedly tipped off the FBI about more classified documents that Trump was storing at Mar-a- Lago? The man who broke that story and revealed there was a confidential tipster involved is OUTFRONT tonight.

An alarming details emerging about a suspect armed with an AR-15 style rifle and nail gun who tried to break into an FBI field office today. Investigators now are looking into whether the suspect had ties to right wing extremism.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, countdown. There is a deadline on the table, 3:00 p.m. tomorrow. That's when a judge says he needs a response from Trump to the DOJ, so he can make a formal ruling on whether to make that search warrant of Mar-a-Lago public.

It comes as Attorney General Merrick Garland took the step today of speaking out. Garland breaking his silence, saying that he signed off on the warrant to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago home personally, and Garland is doing it by the book, now formally requesting a judge to make the search warrant and supporting documents used in the search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago public.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Just now, the Justice Department has filed a motion in the Southern District of Florida to unseal a search warrant and property receipt, relating to a court approved search that the FBI conducted earlier this week. That search was a premises located in Florida belonging to the former president.

The department did not make any public statements on the day of the search. The former president publicly confirmed the search that evening as is his right. Copies of both the warrant and the FBI property receipt were provided on the day of the search to the former president's counsel, who is on site during the search.

The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause. The property receipt is a document that federal law requires law enforcement agents to leave with the property owner.

The department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt, in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter.

Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor.


BURNETT: It is a bold move, and even as Garland is playing it straight, by the book, his formal move to try and make the warrant public has the effect of calling Trump's bluff. Though CNN is learning Trump and his lawyers still haven't decided how to respond to the Justice Department's motion. The truth is this -- Trump does not need a judge to release the warrant. He can release it himself at any time. Only he has not.

That is because in not knowing what's in it, that's enable him to tell the country that this is a siege, an attack by an army on his home. Those are his words. But now, Americans may actually see the warrant for themselves, and very soon.

It all comes as we're learning new details about what the FBI may have been looking for in this search. We are learning some of the documents at Mar-a-Lago included some of the most sensitive government secrets, materials that are classified as part of what's called special access programs, SAPs, that significantly limited who has access to them.

And these documents are in part of why the Justice Department ended up taking action in the search. As we reported, a source familiar with the documents that Trump had tipped off the FBI, telling investigator that there were still more documents. And today, Garland said that left him with no choice but to personally approve the search for what Trump, even after saying he handed everything over, and saying he handed everything over was actually not doing.


GARLAND: There are, however, certain points I want you to know. First, I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter.


Second, the department does not take such decisions lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.


BURNETT: Katelyn Polantz is OUTFRONT live in Washington.

And, Katelyn, in this past few minutes that I've been speaking, I know you've been getting new information on what Trump might do?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR REPORTER, CRIME AND JUSTICE: Right. So we just have some new reporting in from Kaitlan Collins here at CNN. She is now understanding that Trump's team is considering challenging the release of these documents in court.

Now, all week we have heard Republicans calling for more transparency of the FBI and Justice Department. There is the possibility Trump could take the opposite position of that and want to keep this as secret as possible, keep everything locked down in the court system.

We also know after Kaitlan's reporting that Trump's team has contacted outside attorneys to seek their help about what to do here. He has a pretty big legal team. He has a lot of lawyers working for him right now.


POLANTZ: But that is something they're doing, because he is also -- or that team is a little bit caught off guard right now, by this request to the court from the Justice Department today.

BURNETT: Just for the exclamation point, Republicans who came to Trump's defense, said Justice Department, tell us what you did it, show us the warrant. And now, the Justice Department is trying to do just that, and Trump is actually blocking it. Pretty astounding development here.

But, Katelyn, what else are you learning about how the actual search went down and what would be next?

POLANTZ: Well, one of the things that happens in this search, Erin, is that at the end of it, as they remove all of the boxes, the agents hand over a receipt. It looks like a receipt. It's handwritten often, saying this is exactly what we're taking out of the building.

And so we are just one day away from potentially seeing that receipt. That's one of the things that the attorney general of the Justice Department is requesting to be unsealed here. The deadline is tomorrow for all of -- for the answer from Trump's team to come in. There could be a ruling pretty soon after that. So we could potentially see something as soon as tomorrow.

But I want to go back to something that Merrick Garland said in his remarks today. He was saying this was not a decision he took lightly, and this was something that the Justice Department will only do if there is no other option for them. They do try to seek less intrusive means, and we have learned that this search did not come out of nowhere. That there was a subpoena previously seeking records at Mar- a-Lago, trying to get them back in the hands of the federal government, who owns them, for the American public, and clearly not all of those boxes of documents were turned over at that time.

BURNETT: Katelyn, thank you very much.

As this story is moving so quickly, I want to go to Stephanie Grisham, former Trump White House press secretary, who resigned On January 6th, our senior legal analyst and a former assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, Elie Honig, and also with me, Nick Akerman, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York and a former assistant special Watergate prosecutor.

Thanks to all of you.

And as I said, this is moving so quickly because as I began speaking at the top of our program, Elie, we learned, you heard Katelyn and Kaitlan reporting, that Trump is considering challenging the DOJ's motion to unseal the warrant. So Trump is the one who says he wants everyone to know what happens here. And yet when Merrick Garland says, okay, let's unseal it, let's see what happened, Trump might be the one to say, I'm going to block it? Is that really what might happen here?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, his response will tell us a lot, because he's got one of two options now. If Donald Trump has nothing to hide, or if he wants us to see these documents, his answer is very easy -- yes, please, go ahead, your honor, and release those documents. Unseal them. And if so, we could see them tomorrow.

If he has something to hide, then he will fight it. And really, that's his only chance of keeping those from going out.

By the way, even if he does fight it, a judge may say no, I am going to allow these documents to be unsealed. Really important to understand really quickly what we will and won't see. We will not see the affidavit, which is the big document laying out all the details that DOJ knows.

The two most important things we probably will see if these documents come out, one, what crime or crimes did DOJ establish probable cause and the judge agreed? And two, and Katelyn Polantz just referred to this, what items did the FBI remove from Mar-a-Lago? We don't know exactly what degree of specificity, but those are going to be really important facts that we may learn by tomorrow.

BURNETT: So, Stephanie, Trump's team clearly caught off guard by Garland's announcement. Garland is saying this is in the public interest. I can't even count the number of people who have come out, not just Republicans, but others who said because this is such an extraordinary and unprecedented move, we -- the American people, should see the warrant, which we understand what they were doing.


So, now, Garland said, go ahead. And now, Trump may be the one who may block it.

What do you read into that, Stephanie, knowing him?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So I think that they will try to block it, and they will continue to play up the -- this has been corrupt, this has been a witch hunt, we can't trust anyone. Just like he did yesterday when he pled the Fifth or four or five hours.

What I do want to say, I think a spectacle will be happening in the next day or two, because whatever happens, it will need to be on Trump's term. In their playbook, it is deny, destroy, and then distract. They have been denying any wrongdoing this whole time. The destroy element has been questioning DOJ, questioning the FBI.

And now it's going to be time to distract. So I am honestly waiting for him to come down those beautiful Trump tower escalators, or going to Mar-a-Lago to announce his presidency, to really make a spectacle of this entire thing. I think whatever happens, it's going to be on Donald Trump's terms. You can bet that.

BURNETT: Well, the way you lay it out, Stephanie, you're stating it the way it is. He'll still say corrupt and secrecy and all this, even though the other side is trying to put it out there and make it transparent. It doesn't matter what the reality is, and perception matters more unfortunately right now.

GRISHAM: Even though the A.G. (INAUDIBLE)

BURNETT: Right, right.

So, Nick, would it make sense for Trump's team to challenge this, in this scenario that we're in?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Well, they're going to challenge it, but it won't do any good. This is what it looks like, Erin, when you see the rule of law fighting back against Trump's lies. You've got him say thing is a witch hunt. You've got him saying that this is politically motivated. You've got two senators, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, raising the specter that possibly somebody put a document in there to incriminate Donald Trump.

What these documents are going to prove is that that didn't happen. This was done appropriately, that the scope of the search warrant was proper. You're going to see what that scope was.

Did they have the authority to open the safe? Where did they have the authority to search? What was it that they took, what were those documents? Does this even relate to the classified information? We don't even know that for a fact until we see those two documents.

So this is very important. When the judge looks at this, the issue is going to be one of balancing. Balancing the privacy rights of the individual whose property, a search warrant was executed upon against the public's right to know, and the public interest here, which is obviously been put into stark relief, because of all that's been said and the attacks made on the Justice Department.

I think it is extremely unlikely that president Trump is going to prevail here, and this is going to get decided very quickly, and he's going to look like the liar that he is, because the documents will put the lie to all of us.

BURNETT: Well, especially because what he's saying publicly, and people who are in his corner saying those completely against him trying to have the Justice Department not put this out there, right? So, he's saying publicly it goes against what he would be saying legally. You know, in addition to Merrick Garland's argument this is in the public interest.

So, Elie, then what does happen next? If this ruling comes at some point by 3:00 p.m. tomorrow, do we see the warrant right then?

HONIG: So, Erin, this could go one of two ways. If Donald Trump says, I'm fine, Your Honor, go ahead and release it, then the judge will have to rule -- I think he will rule -- he could rule very, very quickly. We could see these documents unsealed at 3:05 p.m. tomorrow.

But if Donald Trump says I'm fighting this, your honor, then we're going to get a briefing schedule. The judge is going to want to at least hear Donald Trump's side of the story. We have seen DOJ's brief. That could take a few days. That could take a week.

The other thing to keep in mind, as Stephanie talked about this, he's going to fight this. If he decides to object, and the magistrate -- this is a magistrate judge. It's important to understand where we are right now.

So in the United States federal courts, you have the Supreme Court justices at the highest level. Then you have your court of appeals, appellate judges, then you have your district court judges. Those are your standard trial level judges.

And a half step below that, you have magistrates. They handle things like search warrants. We're at the magistrate level now.

So, if that magistrate rules against Donald Trump, I believe he will then say, he needs to go to the district court. He needs to go to the court of appeals. So if Donald Trump fight this, we could be in for a bit of a protracted legal battle.

BURNETT: So appeals all the way.

HONIG: Well, if he appeals to the district court and the court of appeals, that will be a question for the court. It could take weeks or months. But, yeah, look, delay is part of Donald Trump's legal playbook, we know that.

BURNETT: Certainly. And that's not at all what anybody wants to hear in terms of the possible timing here, depending how this plays out.


Stephanie, Garland made a point of saying today that this was a last resort and he said the department, in his words, looks for less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to narrowly scope any search that is taken. Okay, that's what Garland said.

Trump, of course, is out there with many absurd and obscene claims, saying that everybody was cooperating completely and handing everything over, said the government could have had whatever they wanted. But then out of nowhere, with no warning, Mar-a-Lago was raided at 6:30 in the morning by very large numbers of agents, and even safe crackers. He claimed today three days after the search that agents went through the first lady's closets, rummaged through her clothing and personal items, surprisingly left the area in relative mess.

Wow, those are her words. By the way, the reporting is that the agents showed up, knocked on the door at 10:00 a.m., not 6:30 a.m., but I'm sure that's not the only thing he wrote there that is untrue.

What do you think about that?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think that if things were really in a mess or disarray, we would have pictures of that already being, you know, handed out just to say look at what they did.


GRISHAM: I've got to say, just taking a step back from everything, you know, despite my feelings about Trump or my role in his administration, as an American citizen, I thought Merrick Garland hit the points perfectly. He was pitch perfect. He reiterated that everybody is innocent until proven guilty.

And, again, as an American citizen, he gave me a little bit of calm when he said, hey, I signed off on this. I signed off on this. To me, that says this is buttoned up, this is serious. We're going to respect the rule of law, but now the ball is in your court, Mr. Trump.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all so very much. I appreciate your time.

And next, you know, the whole reason this happened, there have been negotiations, documents handed over, maybe they thought they had it. But then there was a source. Who was the source that tipped off the FBI that there were more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago? The reporter who broke that story about the tipster is next.

Plus, breaking news, the gunman who tried to storm an FBI field office today, now dead after a tense standoff with police. Investigators are now looking into whether he was actually at the capitol on January 6th.

And from shredding documents to trashing them, a special report on Trump's pen chant for destroying evidence.



BURNETT: Tonight, CNN is learning that federal investigators interviewed members of Trump's staff and former White House officials who were involved in moving documents from the White House to Mar-a- Lago. They also spoke with people who were familiar with how the records were stored in Trump's Palm Beach residence.

This as questions grow over the identity of the person who told the FBI that there were more classified documents in Mar-a-Lago, even after the National Archives removed 15 boxes worth of documents.

"Newsweek's" senior national security correspondent Phil Arkin first broke the major news that a source tipped off the FBI.

And Bill is OUTFRONT now.

Bill, you've done so much reporting on this, and you're now talking with striking detail about what this source knew, that the source knew what classified documents Trump still possessed, even after ostensibly handing them over. So the source knew the documents and the source knew where he kept them. You're reporting that the source even pointed them to a specific safe in a specific room, you know, right after this happened. We know that Trump immediately was outraged about the safe in particular.

So do you believe from your reporting that this was someone from his staff?

WILLIAM ARKIN, SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, NEWSWEEK: Well, all the signs point to somebody from the Trump staff or from somebody who was at Mar-a-Lago. But let's remember as well that this is a long-time case, which has been going on for 18 months, and let's remember that the FBI has been to Mar-a-Lago on June 3rd.

And so I'm a little bit hesitant to say that the source or the sources for the FBI were somebody who was on the inside solely. What my source said to me was that they were essentially driven to believe that there were additional documents because the confidential human source reported that to them.

BURNETT: So a confidential human source is significant wording. Your source used the words, you know, confidential human source. What exactly does that mean? You're not using the word informant.

ARKIN: No, and I think that like colloquially informant really suggests somebody on the payroll of the FBI or somebody who's inside the Trump camp who is reporting to the FBI in a regular basis, whereas this seems to be more episodic to what happened at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, or in terms of relating it to this case, which is the National Archives and now the Department of Justice seeking to retrieve highly classified intelligence documents that were in the position of Donald Trump. BURNETT: And, Bill, I do just want to emphasize from your reporting,

again, just to be clear here, that your understanding, your reporting is that this source, this person knew that there were documents still left behind, even as vast number of documents were handed over, 15 boxes or more. And knew to direct them to a specific safe in a specific room?

ARKIN: That's correct. So we kind of now know from the Trump camp that three rooms in particular were heavily inspected -- a bedroom, an office, and the basement's storage room. And that basement storage room has been visited before by the FBI and the Department of Justice.

So based upon that, it's pretty easy to surmise that maybe they didn't know exactly where Trump's personal safe was, it was either in his office or in the bedroom, which would have explained perhaps their entering Melania's closet.


But that they knew enough to be able to convince the magistrate in Florida that they not knew that were documents, but that they knew where they were in Mar-a-Lago, because that's what is required in order to -- for the magistrate to approve a search warrant.

BURNETT: Yeah, absolutely, and an incredible level of specificity, so much focus, of course, on the most crucial part is going to be who this person was.

Bill, thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time to be with us.

Of course, Bill has been breaking so much of this and all the information about the source at "Newsweek".

And next, breaking news, police confirming tonight that the gunman who tried to break into an FBI field office is now dead. We're learning that it appears he left a message for other right wing extremists on Trump's social media platform.

Plus, new CNN reporting tonight that Trump's former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao met with the January 6th Select Committee. Keep in mind, this is someone who was involved in discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment.



BURNETT: Breaking news: a suspect who was armed with a nail gun and a rifle trying to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati is now dead. He has been identified as Ricky Schiffer. An account matching his name on Donald Trump's social media platform posted today about the FBI breach of Mar-a-Lago, claimed to have been in Washington also on January 6th.

This amid growing fears about violence aimed at law enforcement in the wake of the FBI search.

With alarming threats like, kill all feds exploding online.

Brynn Gingras is OUTFRONT.

And, Brynn, I know we're learning a lot right now. What else do you know about the suspect?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, we've been digging through his social media account, Truth Social, as you just referenced there. My colleagues, Phil Murphy and Josh Campbell, as well.

And there's a lot there, even including his talking about going into this FBI office actually it is presumably after this attack occurred and the chase ensued. I want to read what was posted really about 15 minutes or so after he went into the FBI office there in Cincinnati.

He wrote, well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn't. If you don't hear from me, it is true. I tried attacking the FBI and it will means either I was taken off the Internet, the FBI got me or they sent the regular cops while -- and it sort of just stops there. Now, of course, we know there was a chase that pursued with Schiffer, who was killed in this standoff with authorities.

But again, we're trying to confirm if this user account is that same person. Digging deeper into this person, this user's account, there is just a lot of rhetoric encouraging violence against the FBI, seeing that they were at January 6th, it's unclear if they actually went into the Capitol, but also a lot of beliefs that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Something else, fixation on the Mar-a-Lago search that happened earlier this week. This user writing, people, this is it. I hope I call to arms comes from someone that are qualified, but if not, this is your call to arms from me.

So, just a lot of disturbing details that we know law enforcement is looking into, as this investigation on the ground in Cincinnati is still ongoing, even though that standoff is now over.

BURNETT: Yeah, just -- you're digging through the social media. I'm sure they are, as well. Any trail they can find. Do they have any idea at this point, Brynn, what the suspect was actually trying to do at the field FBI office?

GINGRAS: Right. What were they trying to accomplish? That's a big question that we are trying to pose to authorities. Listen, Erin, from the time that this person, Ricky Schiffer, breached the FBI office there in Cincinnati, to the time the standoff ended, it was several hours.

We know that the FBI SWAT team and negotiators were there on the scene. So there was some communication going on. Now, whether or not we'll get those details is still unclear. But just looking back at this user's account, again, we're not sure if it's the same person, but it's blaringly close. It may have been some sort of retaliation and just encouraged violence against the FBI.

But certainly, this is something we're asking authorities as this investigation is still going on.

BURNETT: Brynn, thank you very much.


BURNETT: I want to go now to conservative and lawyer George Conway for more on this. And, obviously, everything else moving this hour.

So, George, you said it was disgraceful and appalling for Senator Lindsey Graham and other Republicans to attack law enforcement verbally after this search at Mar-a-Lago or to suggest that the FBI planted evidence.

Are you concerned that those sorts of comments are inspiring attacks on the FBI, like the one we just saw, the one that was attempted in Ohio today?

GEORGE CONWAY, LAWYER: Absolutely. I mean, they're painting a picture to some very uninformed and some very sick people out there, like this gentleman who was killed in Ohio, that the government is tyrannical, that government is victimizing Donald Trump. And there are these dies and frankly not just the spreading of them, but the inability of Republican leadership to deny these lies. They simply go along with them is dangerous because it's encouraging people to basically defy the rule of law.

And what Donald Trump did on January 6th to stay in office, he'll certainly try to do to stay out of jail, which is to foment violence on his behalf.

BURNETT: So, George, I want to talk to you about the statement we got from the attorney general. He was very blunt after breaking his silence. He spoke for a couple of minutes, said he signed off on this personally, asked for the search warrant to be unsealed, doing it form formally.

If that does happen, George, and, by the way, Trump, who is -- you know, said he wants everything out there, is now maybe going to move to block that. So there's that going on. How much do you think we could learn from it if we do see the warrant?

CONWAY: Well, I think we're going to learn that things were done by the book.


I mean, I don't think we're going to learn the full story behind this investigation, which will be laid out in the probable cause affidavit, which will remain under seal, but we'll see exactly what it is. The FBI and the Justice Department were looking for at Mar-a-Lago, where at Mar-a-Lago, they were looking for it, and then we're going to see what they came out with, because there is going to be a ticket or list of items that the government is required to produce, other things, the property that they took.

And so, we're going to see what it is that's at stake here, what kind -- you know, not necessarily specifically the documents because they're brought -- some of them may, apparently according to some reporting, were top secret. But we're going to learn that there was a "there" there.

BURNETT: And in your opinion, George, is that enough? You said there's no way we would have gotten to this point if these were just top secret documents, they would haven't done a search, that this would have gone down differently. And that if that's all it is, if it isn't, you know, somehow related to January 6 or something, that that would have been a really big mistake by the DOJ.

Do you share that concern, or do you think it really is, by the letter of the law, by the book, for top secret documents, that that is still the right thing of done?

CONWAY: Absolutely. I mean, let's just take a step back. Let's say you had a -- I'm going national security adviser or an outgoing assistant to the president who took these very boxes of materials home with them on January 20th, 2021. I mean, you would -- there would be no question that if they jerked around the government to -- and refused to turn the materials back over, even after being subpoenaed, which apparently was the case here, I can't imagine there wouldn't be charges brought.

BURNETT: That's similar to Sandy Berger --

CONWAY: Sandy Berger, he took -- right, he took one piece of paper and stuffed it in his sock.

We're talking about -- we're talking about dozen -- I don't know, maybe two dozen boxes, who knows, of materials of the highest sensitivity. These are things that the president of the United States received.

Okay, this is -- this is about the most sensitive of sensitive information you could imagine. And he viewed them because he is the world's ultimate narcissist, as his property. And he thought he could take them and they belong to him just like the election belong him, just like his generals across the river at the Pentagon belonged to him. It's all about him and all belongs to him in some -- you know, some nerd librarian wants to take that away from him, some loser librarian.

No, he's not going to do that. You can see exactly how this happened. And, you know, this could be the thing that really takes him down.

BURNETT: All right. George, thank you so much. It's great to talk to you.

And next, from shredding to ripping to even reportedly flushing? A look at how Trump does treat documents he doesn't want anyone to see, his document destruction. And new details about the alleged Iranian plot to kill top U.S.

officials, including John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. We are now learning there are other top officials who are now receiving significant security. So, how will the Biden administration respond?



BURNETT: Tonight, FBI Director Christopher Wray speaking out against attacks on the agency in the wake of the unprecedented search of President Trump's home. Wray saying in part, quote, unfounded attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the law and are a grave disservice to the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect others.

These words as more details come to light about the former president's habit of discarding documents, subject to the Presidential Records Act, sometimes even flushing them down the toilet, as reported by "The New York Times'" Maggie Haberman.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In order to turn over his tax records, federal agents collecting papers from his home, sitting for legal questioning with every answer documented.

REPORTER: What's your message to your supporters, Mr. President?

FOREMAN: It's been a bad week for the former president in the eyes of long-time watchers like Michael D'Antonio.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": Donald Trump has always resisted accountability and the main thing he's done over the years is refused and stone walled our request for documents and all requests for depositions.

FOREMAN: Insiders say Trump doesn't use email. He frequently rips up papers, forcing staff to reassemble them with tape, apparently even flushing them down the toilet. Some may be public records, but Trump has a tendency to keep things private.

When he met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in 2018, they chatted for two hours with only interpreters, no notes taken. Then Trump created an uproar by brushing aside U.S. intelligence assessments, Russia was meddling in U.S. elections.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.

FOREMAN: The Mueller report on possible Russian collusion revealed that Trump challenged his own attorneys for creating paper trails. "Why do you take notes?" Trump reportedly said. "Lawyers don't take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes." TRUMP: The collusion delusion is over.

FOREMAN: And when the report emerged with no charges, he tore that up, too, by utterly misrepresenting what it said.

TRUMP: It was a complete and total exoneration.

Maybe I'm going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate.

FOREMAN: And, of course, there are his tax returns. He teased voluntarily making them public for years, especially during his presidential bids. It has not happened yet.

TRUMP: But they're under audit. When they're not, I will be proud to show.

FOREMAN: That logic never held water, and an appeals court ruled he had to release them to a congressional committee. But for Trump, it all seems in accordance with a simple code.

D'ANTONIO: The first thing Donald Trump thinks about documents is to not have them.



FOREMAN (on camera): Now, for all of his precautions, he's absolutely surrounded by a storm of documents. So it has been, as they say, a bad week in the papers for the shredder in chief -- Erin.

BURNETT: Tom Foreman, thank you very much.

And next, rents up by the most in 35 years, even as gas prices finally drop below $4 a gallon. Which number tells the real story?

And new satellite images tonight of what's believed to be one of Russia's biggest military losses of aircraft in a single day since World War II.


BURNETT: Tonight, House Democrats hours away from voting on a spending bill that includes the largest climate package in U.S. history. The bill already passed the Senate and will be the latest in a string of victories for Biden.

Today, data showed inflation slowing from last month. As for the average price of a gallon of gas, it dropped below $4 for the first time since March.

OUTFRONT now, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield.

And, Kate, I appreciate your time. So I know the president is touting these victories. Of course,

inflation is still painfully high. You know, gas is below $4 but obviously, it was barely over $3 a year ago. Consumer prices are up 8.5 percent from last year. Rents alone, 6 percent higher, which is as I pointed out is the biggest jump in more than 35 years.

So, how do you balance this? Do you think it's time to celebrate and declare victory over the inflation demon?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, we're continuing to see things move in the right direction. I don't think anybody is declaring victory, certainly not President Biden. He is relentlessly focused on doing everything he can to bring down costs for families.

It's why he's pushing for the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act that's going to allow Medicare to negotiate for the lowest prescription drug prices. It's going to bring down utility bill costs for Americans across the country.

I mean, these are things that at the end of the day are a big piece of family budgets. And so, you know, yes, rents are too high and President Biden is focused on working on pushing for a bigger supply of affordable housing.


That's -- he's taken steps to ensure that builders can have easier access to government financing, to create a greater supply of housing in the market.

So, of course, there's more we can do. But we've seen tremendous progress. You know, the inflation data that we saw this month, the gas price data coming down more than $1 a gallon over the last few weeks, that has a real impact for families and President Biden is going to continue pushing.

BURNETT: So, one specific example, rising prices, with everybody getting ready for back-to-school, basic school supplies. There was a headline today, Kate. I'm just going through them, right?

Scotch tape, nearly 70 percent higher than a year ago. Elmer's Glue, 30 percent higher. Nike sneakers, 12 percent higher. Even JanSport backpacks are up 2 percent, although that obviously pales in comparison.

What can the Biden administration do about that specifically? I mean, is there anything?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, absolutely. And he is pushing forward. Again, I would note that inflation data in July was 0.0 -- 0.0. So we are seeing inflation decrease.

All that being said, you're absolutely right, those costs are costs that are impactful for families. So, the president has been focused on this. He's been doing things like pushing to untangle our supply chains.

We know that part of the reason we see inflation is because the economy around the world, not just in the United States, but around the world is coming back from having essentially ground to a halt during the pandemic. So he's taken steps to untangle our supply chains and ensure goods can move to shelves faster which makes them cheaper.

So, he's continued to push on this. But again, let's not lose sight of the fact that we are on the cusp of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which is going to be the single most aggressive push against climate change that we've seen in decades. It represents President Biden and congressional Democrats breaking the back of the special interests to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, which is something that people across the country have been pushing Washington to do for years.

And Congress is now about to do it, thanks in part to the leadership of President Biden.

So, we're in a cusp of a really big, important vote tomorrow and President Biden is looking forward to signing that bill into law.

BURNETT: We are following some developments, Kate, about something I want to ask you about, an Iranian plot to assassinate top U.S. officials. Multiple, we are learning, top officials are now receiving significant security -- personal security because of an Iranian operative who allegedly plotted to kill U.S. officials, including the former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and the former national security advisor, John Bolton. And there could be others, even more senior, as we're reporting this.

Look, these are the kinds of things that could have started a war if they were successful, right? Top officials of the U.S. government assassinated, multiple of them? You now know this was being plotted, being planned. The Iranian government apparently behind it.

How will the Biden administration respond to this?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, we've been clear that we are going to use all resources of the U.S. government to protect American citizens. National security advisor Jake Sullivan issued a statement yesterday saying as much, that any threat to an American citizen, including one who serves or has served in government, we're going to bring all forces to bear to ensure that we're protecting our citizens.

So we have been clear that this is unacceptable, this is not something that will be tolerated by the United States. You can appreciate, Erin, that obviously some of the specifics are not things that we're able to discuss publicly or that I'm going to discuss publicly here.

But we've been very clear that this is not something that we will tolerate and something we will use all of our U.S. government resources to ensure that we're protecting our people.

BURNETT: Kate, you know, Stephanie Grisham who used to be the press secretary for President Trump believes that he's going to use this Mar-a-Lago situation to possibly make a big announcement about -- about running for the White House. He's going to announce his campaign.

"Bloomberg News" is reporting that President Biden is now making his first, you know, preparations to announce right after the midterms. Is that the timing you're looking at?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I certainly don't have any announcements on timing to make this evening. What I can point to is what President Biden has said himself many times, which is he has every intention of running. Obviously right now, he's focused on delivering for American families. We're focused on getting the Inflation Reduction Act across the finish line, so that families start to feel this reduction in their drug costs, in their utility costs, and so that we're making investments to ensure that we're combating the existential threat of the climate crisis.

So, you talk about running for president, you know, he ran for president in 2019 talking about a lot of these things. I mean, these are the core pillars that he ran for president, promising to accomplish. And so, he's focused right now on getting that over the finish line so that Americans can start to feel the impact.

BURNETT: Kate, thank you so much. I appreciate your time tonight.

BEDINGFIELD: Thanks for having me, Erin.

And next, Russia suffering what is believed to be one of the biggest losses of military aircraft in a single day since World War II.



BURNETT: Tonight, new satellite images revealing at least seven Russian planes damaged, destroyed by explosions at an air base in Crimea.

David McKenzie is OUTFRONT.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New satellite images reveal before and after perspectives of the devastating impact. Blasts deep inside Russian-occupied Crimea. At least seven Russian warplanes appear destroyed.

Russia blamed this on detonated munitions. There's growing speculation that it was Ukraine. Shattering the sense of safety at this popular destination for Russian tourists.

Ukraine's defense ministry tapping into Bananarama for this acerbic message. But now new fears near the southern front. At least ten artillery strikes in the zone of Europe's largest power plant just today, says Ukraine's nuclear power company, the latest round of shelling. Russia blames Ukraine for threatening Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine blames


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The Russian occupation army is using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station for terror and provocations. Russia has turned the nuclear station into a battlefield.

MCKENZIE: The attacks are close to six Soviet era nuclear reactors. The chairman of EneroAtom says only one power source is left undamaged.

What is the consequences of that?

PETRO KOTIN, CHAIRMAN, ENERGOATOM: There could be a cloud, radioactive cloud, and then consistencies will depend on the weather actually and what is the wind direction and where it will go and how strong is this wind.

MCKENZIE: If the power supply and the backup fails, he says Europe faces the specter of a Fukushima-like disaster, where the 2011 tsunami caused catastrophic reactor meltdowns.

Since occupying the site in March, Russia has shown little regard for nuclear safety. This recent drone footage shows them hiding military assets right inside the site.


MCKENZIE (on camera): Well, tonight the head of the Atomic Energy Agency briefing the U.N. Security Council, warning that the situation is deteriorating rapidly at that nuclear site. They said while there isn't the immediate threat of a fallout or radiation leak, that could change at any moment. They're calling for that zone to get inspectors and the U.S. government is saying it should be completely demilitarized -- Erin.

BURNETT: David, thank you very much in Kyiv tonight.

And thanks to all of you for being with us.

"AC360" starts now.