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Erin Burnett Outfront
Warrant: Trump Under Investigation For Possible Espionage Act Violations; FBI Searched Mar-a-Lago To Probe Potential Espionage Act Violations; House Passes Sweeping Health, Climate Bill In Win For Biden; Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant: FBI Was Authorized To Search "45 Office"; FBI Investigating "Unprecedented" Number Of Threats Against Bureau In Wake Of Search Of Trump's Home; Salman Rushdie On Ventilator, Will Likely Lose An Eye: Agent To NYT. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 12, 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, we now know why the FBI searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago, including possible violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice -- as Trump's team now blames the government for moving boxes of documents to Mar-a-Lago.
Plus, inside Mar-a-Lago, we're going to walk you through the exact rooms the FBI searched and why.
And an unprecedented number of threats against the FBI in the wake of the bureau's search of Mar-a-Lago. This as we learned the suspect of a thwarted attack had ties to January 6th and the Proud Boys.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, Trump investigated for violating the Espionage Act. Yes, the Espionage Act, that is just one of the crimes the former President Trump is under investigation for by the Department of Justice tonight. Obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records are also on the list.
Now just to be clear, when you hear the word espionage, you might say, wait, espionage? Well, here's what it specifically relates to. I'll quote for you, Information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.
And as the warrant, the unsealed warrant now states, the property to be seized includes, and just reading here and you can see on your screen as well, information including communications in any form regarding the retrieval, storage or transmission of national defense information or classified material. And that is why the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago on Monday.
And we now also know what the FBI took. We've got this list actually of it's literally here and it says the words "receipt for property", okay? So this is the inventory list. Let me just read some of this to you because they put on here in as much detail as they could. The executive grant for clemency regarding Roger Jason Stone Jr.; Info re: the president of France; various classified TS/SCI documents signifying one of the highest levels of classification. Those are documents only meant to be viewed in a special government facility. Those were found around Mar-a-Lago.
A binder of photos, a hands written note, and it continues: miscellaneous secret documents, miscellaneous top secret documents, more miscellaneous top secret documents, miscellaneous confidential documents, miscellaneous secret documents, confidential document. This list goes on and on and on. Boxes of stuff.
In all, 11 sets of classified documents, four of them, according to this receipt, marked top secret. Four of them marked top secret, and one with that special designation of the highest classification were taken from Trump's Mar-a-Lago. All in, the FBI collected more than 20 boxes.
Evan Perez is OUTFRONT in Washington.
Evan, it's pretty incredible, right? It's been a year and a half of negotiations. They sent back 15 boxes. Oh, you got everything. It turns out no. Oh, no, now you've got everything. And now another 15 boxes with all of this list.
What more are you learning about what the FBI took and why?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: No, Erin, the timeline that you just laid out is exactly the importance of why the FBI went to do this. They listed on this document their 33 entries. And, of course, the most important one is the set of documents that are labeled as TS/SCI. This is -- this means top secret -- I'm sorry. Top secret compartmented information.
And this is information that as you pointed out is supposed to be read or viewed only in special rooms that the U.S. government believes, you know, can be protected from electronic surveillance, for instance, and that's the reason why, you know, sensitive come compartmented information is treated this way. And according to the FBI, these are documents that were found most likely in the storage room in the basement of Mar-a-Lago in the president's beach house. The important part of this is that the FBI was working with -- and the Justice Department was working with the president's lawyers over a period of months trying to get them to provide these documents. In the end, they still -- at the end of all this process, and back and forth, they found 20 boxes to take away on Monday.
BURNETT: I mean, it's incredible, right? You say you gave everything over and there's 20 boxes and some of them with the highest levels of security. How is Trump and his team reacting now that we all can see the warrant, Evan, and the receipt list?
PEREZ: Well, the first reaction is that, well, the stuff that the FBI may have founding was actually declassified by the former president. The truth is that it's a bigger process. Just because he said it doesn't mean it's actually declassified. There is an entire process to declassify things.
The second thing we've now heard from Kash Patel, one of the former allies of the former president, is that, well, it's actually the GSA's fault. This is the government agency that transported the documents for the former president. That it's their fault because they took away stuff that shouldn't be taken.
The GSA, by the way, this hour just responded and said, well, the GSA only transported things that the former president identified as things to be transported. So they're saying it's the fault of the former president and his team who told them what to take.
BURNETT: Right. And, of course, first of all, they're saying he requested it. Secondly, nothing answers the fact that when they requested he return it, he didn't.
PEREZ: Over a period of 18 months.
BURNETT: Time and time again, he didn't even under subpoena. Yeah, there's that as well, right? If there really was a mistake, it all would have been given back, it would seem by any normal analysis.
BURNETT: All right. Evan Perez, thank you very much.
As Evan gets more, he's going to bring it to us.
I want to go straight now to David Laufman, because he led the Justice Department's counterintelligence section until 2018, overseeing the investigations into both Hillary Clinton's and the former CIA director General David Petraeus' handling of classified records.
So, you know of which you speak. You've investigated similar crimes about taking documents, classified information. But when you see this today, David, you see the Department of Justice is investigating possible violations of the Espionage Act by a former president, what went through your mind when you saw that?
DAVID LAUFMAN, FORMER CHIEF, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S COUNTERINTELLIGENCE SECTION: Well, if it were some other president, we might be completely shocked. In some respects it's not that surprising given this president's consistent flagrant disregard for the protection of classified information and disregard for the intelligence community throughout his presidency. His careless, reckless disclosure of sensitive classified information not only to foreign nationals but to the heads of governments of our foreign adversaries -- it could be said that this is just another version of that flagrant disregard and contempt.
Having said that, it is nonetheless shocking to me, having overseen prosecutions of multiple defendants under provisions of the Espionage Act to see that same statute leveled as a foundation for a search warrant executed on the home of a former president of the United States.
BURNETT: I mean there is just something about it. You see those words and you just have to stop for a moment.
I want to ask you again, David, just to go through this list. It's three pages here, these 33 items that Evan was just discussing, the receipt for property, right? This is the list of things that the FBI took from Trump's home. All in, 11 sets, David, of classified documents. Four of them top secret, one with the very special designation of top secret and sensitive compartmented information. What stands out to you on this receipt list?
LAUFMAN: Well, the high volume of classified information, the level of sensitivity of that information. We're talking about multiple sets of top secret information, which by definition is defined as the disclosure of which could cause grave damage to the national security of the United States. And then compound that with the category of top secret documents that were SCI.
I mean, those are documents that are sourced based on the most sensitive intelligence collection our government has. Most typically electronic type of surveillance communications intercepts through, for example, the national security agency's activities or CIA activities.
So the fact that he had SCI material out in the wild, so to speak, at risk is particularly stunning and particularly egregious.
BURNETT: Right. That's the secure compartmented information. So based on what you now know was taken, and I want to be clear, we know a lot because you've got this list, but we don't know exactly nor obviously should we given the security designation what it pertains to or what the details are. But from what you know here, was the FBI search necessary?
LAUFMAN: It seems to me that the results of the search as reflected even in the somewhat opaque receipt of property completely bear out the government's narrative to the magistrate that there was in fact sufficient probable cause to carry out this search.
It completely validates the search warrant. It completely validates the government's investigation into whether the president unlawfully was retaining classified information and other presidential records, other government records unlawfully at Mar-a-Lago.
You know, whether this investigation transforms into an outright criminal prosecution remains to be seen. Oftentimes in evaluating whether to charge a case under the Espionage Act with regard to the unlawful retention of classified information, what the government is looking for is the presence of aggravating factors.
Now, how high the volume was of classified information kept in a place it wasn't supposed to be, what the level of classification or sensitivity was, in what types of places was it stored, who had access to it, what was the purpose of keeping it there, was it disseminated to anybody.
So they'll be looking at a number of factors in evaluating whether to take the next most momentous step evaluating whether to charge the former president or somebody close to him.
BURNETT: All right. David, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
And on that crucial question of where we go from here, I want to long- time conservative attorney George Conway, along with Elliot Williams. They both join me, former federal prosecutor and former deputy assistant attorney general.
So, thanks so much to both of you.
So, George, when you look at the charges being investigated here tonight and the list of what was taken as far as you can go through it, and there's a lot of classified information on there, do you think Trump's in real trouble here?
GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE ATTORNEY: Yeah, I think he's in very substantial legal jeopardy. If anybody else had done this, as I said last night on your show, if a national security advisor had done this, if an assistant to the president had done, this if I had done this or you had done this, we'd probably be already charged.
I mean, having ST -- top secret and top secret SCI information in our home? You're not allowed to bring that out. You're not allowed to bring that home. People have been charged for a lot less.
There was a woman last year in a very highly publicized case, she was a civilian in the defense department and she was detailed to the U.S. embassy in Manila. And she took home to her bedroom a couple of just academic thesis that were labeled secret, not top secret or top secret SCI, and she was charged with a crime. She was only using it to use as models for her own classified thesis. But the fact she took them home to her bedroom got her three months in prison.
BURNETT: Three months in prison.
So, Elliot, let's go through this. The search warrant here as we have it identifies three potential crimes, federal crimes that the Justice department is investigating Donald J. Trump for. They are violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and criminal handling of government records.
So, Elliot, you know, obviously, we're getting a little context from George with that example from Manila, three months in prison for that individual. How serious are these potential violations?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They're incredibly serious. So, look, people hear the Espionage Act and think of cloak and dagger and trench coats and spies overseas. It's a far broader act than that, written I think 100 years ago and covers really the mishandling and bad storage of information that could cause harm to the United States. I think -- you know, particularly with respect to the documents and picking up on some of the points that have been made here, you know, the language -- the definition of top secret information is information that could cause exceptionally grave harm to the United States if disclosed.
And so, none of this belongs -- even for a former president of the United States -- in an unsecure location out of someone's home. So any of these three crimes, and we can walk through each of them, but any of them, number one carries serious penalties and is focused on sometimes gross negligence in just mishandling information. It's incredibly serious, whether it's the president or somebody else who might have been investigated here who might be pulled in here.
BURNETT: So, George, let me ask you because Kash Patel, we just mentioned him. Evan was giving the -- sharing what he is putting out as the defense for President Trump. He's now saying that, oh, well, it was an accident. We had nothing to do with it of how these documents ended up here.
Here's what he just said on Fox News.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KASH PATEL, TRUMP AIDE: The GSA has since come out, the Government Service Administration, said they mistakenly packed some boxes and moved them to Mar-a-Lago. That's not on the president. That's on the National Archives to sort that material out.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, George, the National Archives have been trying to get these documents back from Trump for 15 months, OK? They asked for them. They negotiated. They sent some back.
But not all of them. They realized some were missing. They gave him a subpoena, they sent some more back, some more back.
And now here we are. So how is it possible for anyone to argue that there wasn't some very specific, purposeful decisions made about holding these documents back?
CONWAY: Yeah, I mean, the people who are trying to defend Trump are basically desperate. I mean, they have been making all sorts of insane arguments, arguing that the FBI planted documents, arguing that somehow, you know, like Carnac the Magnificent he held them to his forehead and declassified them like that. None of this makes any sense at all.
I mean, he had these documents. He had them for a long time. In order to have taken them from the White House, he probably brought them up to the residence. He had no business bringing top secret SCI materials from the Situation Room or Oval Office up to the residence.
I mean, he had no business having these documents. And as soon as the archives pointed that out, every single one of them should have been returned to the government, and he didn't do that. And that falls squarely under the prohibition of Section 793 and the Espionage Act.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Erin, if I can add to that a little bit.
BURNETT: Yeah, go ahead.
WILLIAMS: I had top secret clearance for pretty much my entire time at the federal government at a pretty high level. These are the kinds of documents that just don't get mispacked or put incorrectly as Kash Patel said there in the back of a truck. There's extensive regulations on how they're handled, what kind of room they're in, who can handle them.
How they're shredded. There's regulations on the kind of shredder that can be used to destroy information once it's no longer -- once it can be destroyed.
So this idea that somebody just made a mistake and packed something on the wrong truck and ended up at Mar-a-Lago is just ludicrous. What you have in a search warrant is an indication that someone -- number one, a federal judge and law enforcement, has deemed this information -- there's probable cause to believe that three crimes were committed. And that's what we have here.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both so very much. Obviously, a very sober situation in which we all find ourselves tonight. Thank you.
And next, Trump is trying to fight back with unsubstantiated claims about Obama's handling of classified documents. The National Archives is speaking out to debunk those claims.
Plus, we're going to take you inside Mar-a-Lago with an investigative reporter who literally wrote the book on it. So this warrant gives us a lot of information, where specifically the FBI searched and why? And she's going to take you through the dozens of rooms with new detailed images.
And the White House insider, Trump's right-hand man when he was president, will tell us what he witnessed when it came to sensitive documents.
BURNETT: Breaking news: two government agencies rejecting claims from Trump's orbit about the search warrant on Mar-a-Lago. The GSA, which is the General Service Administration is rejecting claims that it helped move Trump's boxes to Mar-a-Lago and just, you know, I guess randomly sent them there.
The agency is saying that the responsibility for what is moved when a president leaves office rests entirely with the president and the president's staff. So the president requests and the GSA does. The GSA doesn't randomly, you know, decide what they're going to send. The former president also making this false claim on his social media platform saying, quote, the bigger problem is what are they going to do with the 33 million pages of documents, many of which are classified, that President Obama took to Chicago?
Well, the National Archives has just debunked that plain and simple tonight saying that it has exclusive and legal custody of Obama presidential records in 2017. And it comes as another government agency, two of them, debunking the president's claims.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. He was a member of the January 6th committee.
And, Congressman, I appreciate your time.
Obviously, we've got these two headlines here coming from both the GSA and the National Archives debunking these claims. And you've got the FBI recovering documents with the highest classification levels here at the same time from Trump's home. And -- okay, I'm sorry, everyone, it appears we have a bit of a problem. We don't have the congressman.
So, just give us a second to decide -- live television here.
All right. So we're going to shift things around a little bit. As we do that, I actually want to tell you about what we're planning to get ready for here, which is what's inside Mar-a-Lago.
When you look through this warrant, it lays out some very specific things about Mar-a-Lago. Specifically, the search warrant says that they can search Mar-a-Lago, which they describe as a mansion with approximately 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms on a 17-acre estate. They go through the locations that they're going to search -- the office, all storage rooms and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by the former POTUS and his staff where documents could be searched or stored.
They're very specific, not any of the places where guests might be or members of the club but things that would have been accessible to the former president. All of those areas laid out.
Sarah Blaskey has actually spent a lot of time there. She's a reporter for "The Miami Herald", actually literally wrote the book on Mar-a- Lago.
And also with me is Aki Peritz, a former CIA agent who knows a lot about this as well.
So, Aki, let me start with you. I have Aki, right? No? And not Sara either?
Okay. All right. I'm sorry, everyone, we have Congressman Raskin. Live television, everybody. I apologize for that.
Congressman Raskin, I'm glad I got you back.
So, just because I set all that up, I just want to give you a chance to respond to that. What do you make of this? We're going through this long list of places in Mar-a-Lago that they
were searching after 15 months of negotiations where the former president, you know, said he sent everything back and didn't, was subpoenaed, sent some more back, and finally gets this search warrant and they still come back with 15 documents as detailed by this search warrant.
Were you surprised by the volume of information that they took out of Mar-a-Lago this week?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, first of all, good evening. Thanks for having me.
I should say that the work of the January 6th Select Committee, of course, is independent and we have no special inside information to anything that's gone on with any of this.
Look, the wisdom of the Constitution's Founders is vindicated by all of these events that I'm looking at from afar, because all of the search warrant process had to go through a neutral independent magistrate. There had to be probable cause. The things being searched had to be stated with sufficient particularity and all of it was tied to specific crimes and offenses.
And I think the onslaught of attacks on the Department of Justice was outrageous and wholly unjustified and, you know, I think we're watching the real rule of law unfold here as relates to those events.
I should say that a lot of that may have absolutely nothing to do with what we're working on on the January 6th Select Committee because under House Resolution 503, what we're looking at is what took place on January 6th, the causes behind it and then how to fortify democratic institutions against coups, insurrections, political violence and attempts to hijack and derail the election process in the future.
BURNETT: Right. We don't obviously know the details of what's in these boxes or in some of these 11 classified documents, series of classified documents, the highest ones. We don't know what they're about, whether it's January 6th or something completely different. No one has any information on that at this point at least from this receipt.
But, Congressman, you're a lawyer. And you looked through this today, I'm sure. And you saw that they're investigating the former president for several things, obstruction of justice, one of them, but another one, Espionage Act violations. I mean, even our top guest, who actually -- his career was investigating these types of crimes for the Justice Department said it was astounding just to see Espionage Act in the same sentence as an investigation into a former president of the United States.
What was your reaction when you saw that? RASKIN: Well, all of it is astounding and shocking and depressing,
although it is hard to describe it as surprising after several years of the country living with this kind of derangement and divorce from reason and the rule of law.
You know, I've thought for a very long time that Mar-a-Lago was a very porous environment from a national security perspective and we've already seen episodes of foreign agents and foreign assets crawling around in the Mar-a-Lago environment --
RASKIN: -- where the principal currency of admission and power is just money, but not necessarily any loyalty or patriotism to the American people. So I've been afraid of that.
And, of course, you know, the president, who loves to invoke the rhetoric of globalism, is the biggest -- the former President Trump who likes to talk about globalism is in fact the biggest globalist of them all because, again, the language that he uses is that of money. And, you know, all of the billionaires and trillionaires and kleptocrats from around the world, they hang out together and that's his crowd.
BURNETT: I want to ask you about something that just happened where you are. You just passed the president's bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, as it's called. It's sort of -- the modifications for Build Back Better. It is a huge victory for President Biden to get this through after more than a year of negotiations.
Obviously, it's going to take time for any impact of the legislation if there is any to be seen. And the reality right now is you're 90 days away from the midterms.
Consumer sentiment came out today. Consumers are less satisfied with the economy than they were recently. The overall measure is 55. That may not mean anything to anybody, but will mean something is that that's down 20 points from a year ago.
Congressman, do you think you have enough time to turn sentiment around before the midterms?
RASKIN: Well, that's certainly the excitement of the situation. I mean, we are defending democracy and we are making democracy work at the same time. The legislation that passed today is remarkable in its scope. It's historic in terms of its impact on American society and the American people.
I mean, we are lowering green house gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. So we are aggressively attacking the problem of climate change in a way that Congress has never done before.
We also are dramatically lowering prescription drug prices. We are capping at $2,000 what any Medicare beneficiary is going to have to pay for prescription drugs in a year, and we are capping at $35 a month what people with diabetes are going to have to pay for their insulin, which is a life-saving drug --
BURNETT: Significant, yeah.
RASKIN: -- that people need in order to get from day to day. So this is very important breakthrough legislation and I think the American people understand where the Democratic Party is, as the party of democracy.
BURNETT: Congressman Raskin, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
RASKIN: Thank you so much.
BURNETT: And next as promised, we're going to take you inside Mar-a- Lago and exactly where they went as detailed in this warrant, as I laid out to you. So how did FBI agents know exactly where to look when they got to the 58-room mansion as described here?
It has almost 60 bedrooms alone. The investigative reporter, Sarah Blaskey, who's an expert in Mar-a-Lago and has new images of the property to share with you will be OUTFRONT next.
Plus, how did then-President Trump get to keep all those sensitive documents? Trump's former national security advisor suggests that Trump sometimes asked to just keep them after a meeting and nobody stopped him.
BURNETT: We're following the breaking news tonight. Trump under investigation for possibly violating the Espionage Act and the search warrant on Mar-a-Lago as I started to tell you about a bit ago did detail exactly where on the property these documents were found.
And let me just read this again to you. They say it is described as a mansion with approximately 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms on a 17-acre estate. The locations to be searched include the 45 office, all storage rooms and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by former POTUS and his staff and in which boxes or documents could be stored, including all structures or buildings on the estate.
OUTFRONT now, Sarah Blaskey. She's investigative reporter for "The Miami Herald" and co-author of "The Grifter's Club: Trump, Mar-a-Lago and the Selling of the Presidency." And Aki Peritz, a former CIA analyst.
So, Sarah, you know, you've been to Mar-a-Lago many times. Obviously, you know the property well, you wrote the book on it. And you include a graphic in your article tonight that actually shows these locations that they write about. You show where they are. This is -- so this is where they searched. I'm going to keep this document up. Tell me what we're seeing here.
SARAH BLASKEY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE MIAMI HERALD: So what we understand is of course that the agents had access to the entire 17- acre estate. But one of the important things to understand about Mar- a-Lago is it's not just one large mansion, as it's described there. It's more like a series of small units that are connected by staircases and hallways, sometimes outdoor pathways.
And really the primary locations of storage and also that 45 office as well as the residence, the private suite where former President Trump lives when he's there at Mar-a-Lago, those are in the main building and the Donald J. Trump ballroom, so the grand ballroom just to the south of the main building. And that's -- that's where the primary location of this search occurred. The residence, that suite, which is on the first floor, the ground floor of the main building.
It's actually just off of the area where if you were walking through, you'd come in from the main entrance, you'd take a right to go toward the grand ballroom and you would go right past the door that led to the president's suite. And then, of course, below there in the basement of that main building are lots of storage rooms. It's not clear from the report so far which ones these boxes were stored in, but that is one of the locations.
And then the grand ballroom up above that in a converted bridal suite is where we understand the former president has had an office for this past year.
BURNETT: So, Sarah, when we look at the map that you had or the graphic, you've got blue and red parts. I understand, we'll zoom in a little bit here, that some of the areas the FBI searched, we're going to show here, are in red, okay? So it just gives a sense of what you're talking about. A lot of the property was accessible to the FBI for the members of the club or visitors that were not searched.
But tell us about -- these are red areas. The grand ballroom, Trump's suite and the main entrance.
BLASKEY: Right. And so Trump's suite would be where his room and others used by his immediate family might be. And that is on the ground floor. We understand that that room was where -- or one of the bedrooms in that suite was searched as part of this raid.
Right below that in what I would describe as kind of a walkout basement, so a walkout that walks right into that pool area that you can see behind there, that's a public area.
BLASKEY: Public for members and their guests, of course, not for just anyone walking off the street. But lots of people go through that area each day. Right underneath there in that walkout basement is where all of the storage is.
I think that's the primary location that we're talking about. When we hear reports about a lock being broken off of a storage room door, we're talking about a door in that basement, in that walkout basement there, the main building.
BURNETT: Yeah. So, Aki, in this context of what Sarah is talking about, that Jamie Raskin just described it as porous. There's a club area. This is a place a lot of people come in and out.
There have been concerns about security at Mar-a-Lago for years. Everybody watching may remember the moment in 2017 when Trump was seen out in the open on a patio when news broke that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan. He was hosting the Japanese prime minister, then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for dinner. Trump's aides were sitting there shining flashlights on the documents as guests looked on. That was all happening sort inform plain sight.
And then there were attempted spy, who knows what we don't know, but we do know in 2019, a Chinese businesswoman was arrested after trespassing onto the property. She had a flash drive containing malware and electronic devices, including a signal detector.
These are just some examples, right?
And while all this is happening over 15 months, Aki, you've got top secret, the highest level of classification documents, lying around?
AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yeah. Remember that Mar-a-Lago, as you said, has been a porous place ever since Trump declared his candidacy and started winning primaries several years ago, if you were any intelligence service, friendly or unfriendly worth their salt, they would be concentrating their efforts on this incredibly porous place, recruiting assets, thinking about maybe we can get inside the building.
So, for example, if I were let's say the Russians, the Chinese or this is Florida, but if I were part of Cuban intelligence, I would be looking at cooks, cleaners, people in management. When he won, suddenly the Mar-a-Lago price for admission went up by $100,000, so now, it's $200,000. For $200,000 to become a member where the president of the United States comes and flashes lights on classified documents and chitchats with guests unencumbered by security, that seems like a steal.
So we've now had several years when he was president and now, he's a former president. But as we've seen by the recent effort, he's had top secret documents potentially lying around in unsecured areas, because none of that place is a secured facility. And now we have -- we could have intelligence folks poking around, people who know what they're looking for and grabbing these documents.
It's a pretty scary thought if you think about it.
BURNETT: It is pretty incredible. I think the context is so important, right? It would be malpractice, as you're saying, to not have foreign intelligence who penetrated it -- (CROSSTALK)
PERITZ: A malpractice. And remember what the -- and what the FBI is looking for is top secret documents. And remember, according to statute, top secret documents or unauthorized disclosure of top secret documents would cause, quote, exceptionally grave danger to the U.S. national security.
Remember, we put a reality winner in prison for five years for unauthorized disclosure. If you remember Chelsea Manning and the whole Manning, he gave all that information to WikiLeaks. That was all at a secret level, so that is a level below top secret and we put him in jail for a long time as well.
So the fact that there is TS/SCI floating around in an unsecured facility and potentially there are foreign intelligence services kind of wandering around the property is a mix for -- is a recipe for disaster.
BURNETT: The context is so crucial here. Thank you both very much.
And next, huge questions remain tonight about how sensitive documents got out of the White House and into Mar-a-Lago. I'm going to ask Trump's former chief of staff for his perspective.
Plus, a, quote, unprecedented number of threats against the FBI tonight as we learn more tonight about the suspect behind a thwarted violent attack on the FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio.
BURNETT: Well, when President Trump repeatedly asked to keep documents from his intelligence briefings, this is according to his former national security advisor, John Bolton, who is telling CBS news after the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago for classified documents, that, quote, often the president would say to intelligence briefers, well, can I keep this? In my experience, the intelligence briefers most often would say, well, sir, we prefer to take that back, but sometimes they forgot.
OUTFRONT now, Mick Mulvaney, former chief of staff and OMB director for then President Trump.
And, Mick, I really appreciate your time.
So, just trying to understand more about classified documents or documents in general, how they worked in the White House. Obviously, you saw a lot of this.
Did you ever see former President Trump ask to keep documents like that?
MICK MULVANEY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: I did, Erin. By the way, it's good to see you again. Thanks for having me.
We saw it from time to time. But the comment from Bolton which I'm hearing for the first time is sort of surprising because it was his job to sort of keep track of those documents. But that's fine. We'll have to deal with that as we can.
But yeah, from time to time, the president would say, can I keep this? But we had entire teams of people to make sure those documents didn't get left behind, didn't get taken up to the residence. He would use them. That was his right as the president of the United States.
But to draw a direct line from that to somehow those documents ending up in the basement of Mar-a-Lago doesn't sit well with me, because I know for a fact that most of the documents he saw that were classified or higher than that, TS/SCI kind of stuff was electronic, not in paper. He liked his briefing electronically. There wasn't a lot of paper to begin with.
So when we see this inventory of documents --
MULVANEY: -- I'd be curious to see what was there because something is not lining up in my book.
BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, you know, 15 more boxes today and, obviously, as you know, 11 -- 11 sets of them were classified. There was obviously one of the highest level of classifications as well, according to the receipt here.
But, you know, we've been talking about security at Mar-a-Lago. And I know you had no idea until this week about the safe at Mar-a-Lago, which obviously the president himself said had been searched as part of this search.
What was your impression of security at Mar-a-Lago? And, you know, were you aware that the basement was being used as storage for a lot of documents or not?
MULVANEY: You know, you mentioned the safe. In the break, I was actually reading the search warrant and it doesn't specify the safe. So I'm not sure where that's coming from.
I wasn't aware that there was a safe at Mar-a-Lago. I was aware a little bit about the security because the president was there a good bit.
MULVANEY: I was also aware that the FBI actually asked him in June to upgrade the security. The FBI was there, I think you mentioned earlier, someone did on your show that the president sent documents in June.
That's not accurate. The FBI actually went to the property and took documents in June and then wrote back to the president and said, please, increase the security by putting a lock on this door and so forth.
So the FBI was aware of the security before August and I'm wondering now why they didn't take those documents in June when they were there. Did they not see them? Did they miss them?
Again, there's another thing that doesn't add up in my mind.
BURNETT: Were they not shown them? I mean, there is a lot we don't -- there is a lot we don't know, this is true. In the search warrant that was just released, there is as you point out or actually as one of the former head of investigations for the DOJ said, it's opaque in some sense. You see there's a lot here but you can't tell that much about the specifics. So when there are specifics, you kind of focus in on them.
Mick, one thing that I noticed here at the top was among the items recovered was material that is labeled "info re: president of France".
Do you have any idea why that might have been of interest to the former president?
MULVANEY: No. And I've got that same answer to a bunch of this stuff. I'm not sure why this is of any interest to him.
Keep in mind, under the Espionage Act, they're going to have to show willful intent that he planned on using this material either to the detriment of the United States or to the advantage of another country.
And I'm just -- I don't understand why any of this material, and again we're going off of a summary, right, a box of photos, binder of documents, et cetera, as to why that benefits Donald Trump or benefits a friend of his. I don't -- that doesn't make any sense to me yet.
And, you're right, there's a lot of opacity. The thing that concerns me the most with various documents labeled TS SCI, serious stuff, there's no question, how that gets there accidentally, I don't understand.
I think one of your previous guests, Elliot Williams, mentioned that stuff is really well-protected. It is. In fact, it comes in its own binder, its own document, its own cover, and it's really hard to sort of mistake that for something else. I'm not sure how that got there. Not sure how the FBI missed it in June when they were there.
So, at this point, still more questions than answers maybe about a lot of things.
BURNETT: All right. Mick Mulvaney, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much, sir.
MULVANEY: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. And next, the FBI is investigating a, quote, unprecedented number of threats against the bureau. This is all coming in the wake of the search in Mar-a-Lago.
Plus, police identified a man that they stabbed author Salman Rushdie while speaking in New York. The latest on that investigation and Rushdie's condition is next.
BURNETT: Tonight, the FBI investigating what they say is an unprecedented number of threats in the wake of the search at Mar-a- Lago, some of these directed at specific agents listed in court records as being involved. This as new details emerged about who the suspect was who attempted to breach an FBI field office. Ohio authorities just releasing this video of the police pursuit involving the suspect. Sources telling CNN that the suspect was already known to the FBI because of a connection to the January 6th riot and ties to members of the Proud Boys.
Brynn Gingras is OUTFRONT.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New details tonight about the armed suspect who was shot and killed after allegedly trying to get into the FBI's Cincinnati field office, including how the recent FBI search at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate may have inspired him.
The Ohio state highway patrol identifying the suspect as 42-year-old Ricky Shiffer of Columbus, a former U.S. Navy fire control technician who our source tells CNN brought a high-powered rifle to the FBI office.
We've learned just minutes after the attempted breach, a post was made by an account bearing Shiffer's name on the Donald Trump founded site, Truth Social. At 9:29 a.m., the user posted: 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 mean I was taken off the Internet, the FBI got me, or they sent the regular cops while -- the post abruptly ends, presumably as the chase ensued.
The account recently saw an uptick in posts in the days following the FBI search to Mar-a-Lago. On August 8, the user wrote, this is your call to arms from me. Get what you need to be ready for combat. And evil already won, now we need to fight a civil war to take back the country. On August 9th, the day after the Mar-a-Lago search, the user encouraged people to go to Palm Beach and that if the FBI agents broke up the group, quote, kill them.
Investigators have not confirmed if that account belonged to shrimp. But a law enforcement source tells CNN an image on the account matched a government ID photo of him.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Donald Trump has an amazing amount of influence over people who harbor these sorts of beliefs when he baselessly floats out an allegation, as he did on Monday, about the FBI possibly planting evidence in his residence, which we all know there's been absolutely zero proof produced for that.
GINGRAS: After Shiffer took off from the field office, troopers located him, exchanged fire, and surrounded him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Law enforcement officers attempted to negotiate with the suspect.
GINGRAS: He was killed at the scene.
Two sources tell CNN, Shiffer was previously known to the FBI in connection to January 6 and because of his link to associates within the Proud Boys.
MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY: I mean, it was troubling obviously to see what happened in Cincinnati. And the concern is the proof, really, to see how the rhetoric sparks people's violent tendencies.
GINGRAS (on camera): It's post like those that are part of this investigation, as authorities try to hone in on if there's a clear motivation here. Was that search at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week and the violent rhetoric that spurred in the wake of that a tipping point for Shiffer to do what he did and ultimately lose his life over it?
BURNETT: Brynn, thank you very much.
And we have breaking news now. The author, Salman Rushdie, is on a ventilator and will likely lose an eye. He was stabbed, of course, today during a speaking engagement in New York.
His agent telling "The New York Times," quote, the news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye. The nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver were stabbed and damaged.
This, as police identified a 25-year-old suspect of the attack. Rushdie has long been a controversial figure because of his novel "The Satanic Verses" was labeled as sacrilegious by the ayatollah of Iran who called for his death in 1989. He's been a decade under police protection as a result.
Erica Hill is OUTFRONT.
And, Erica, here we are now decades later, stunning new details, horrible new details that we are getting tonight.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely, and at that latest update from Salma Rushdie's agent to "The New York Times" really paints a different picture because we have heard from a number of people. CNN spoke with a witness who said she saw what she counted to be roughly 7 to 10 she described stabbing motions that she witnessed from there in the audience. We heard from police just a couple of hours ago at a presser where
they said that he had been stabbed at least once in the neck, at least once in the abdomen. But those details that are laid out by the agent, Erin, certainly paint a far more grim picture. He was still in surgery earlier this evening. As we just heard from the agent to "The New York Times," now on a ventilator, unable to speak.
CNN has reached out multiple times to that agent for further details. We know that he was airlifted. When this all happened at the event, we're told that a man rushed the stage. That man is the suspect you just mentioned, rushed the stage. Immediately others were able to rush up onto the stage, including a doctor who was in the audience, who provided medical care until local EMS could get there.
There was a New York state trooper there who jumped in to help. Governor Hochul citing that trooper as helping to save Rushdie's life. And then he was, of course, airlifted to this trauma center, where he was undergoing treatment.
BURNETT: Is there anything else you know about the suspect in light of the talk we've heard recently about assassinations and other --
HILL: So, we know the suspect is 24 years old, as you mentioned, Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey. No word on a motive of the suspect, no charges yet, Erin, because police are working with multiple law enforcement agencies including the FBI, but also the D.A. They need to know more about Salman Rushdie's condition before charges can be filed.
We can tell you, though, real quickly, a backpack and electronic devices have been recovered from the scene. They have been cleared, so they're waiting on search warrants to take a closer look at that backpack and those devices.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Erica Hill.
Obviously a very, very tough situation there for Salman Rushdie. A horrible story.
Thank you so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.