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Erin Burnett Outfront
DOJ Reveals New Details, Argues To Keep Mar-a-Lago Affidavit Secret; Trump White House Lawyer Subpoenaed By Grand Jury Investigating January 6; Prosecutors Tell Giuliani He Is A Target In Georgia Election Probe; Pennsylvania Man Charged Over Alleged Threats Made Against FBI; FBI Bulletin: "Violent Threats" Emerge In Wake Of Mar-a-Lago Search; Trump Facing Possible Legal Jeopardy In Several Probes; DeSantis Takes His Message National Amid Talk Of Presidential Run. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 15, 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, the Justice Department revealing new details about its investigation into Trump as we learned that Merrick Garland reportedly deliberated for weeks over approving that search warrant.
Also this hour, a key Trump White House lawyer subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury.
Plus, Rudy Giuliani, now a confirmed target of an investigation in Georgia's criminal investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the election there. So, will he turn on the bigger target, Trump?
And famed historian John Meacham is my guest tonight. What is he warning President Biden about?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the Justice Department fighting back saying that releasing their full reasons for searching Mar-a-Lago would cause, and I quote, significant and irreparable damage. The Justice Department now urging a judge not to unseal the affidavit that justified the FBI search of Trump's Mar-a- Lago home.
A document, according to the DOJ, that serves as a road map to the ongoing investigation including who federal investigators are talking to, saying that it includes, and I want to quote this one, highly sensitive information about witnesses, including witnesses interviewed by the government. That is, witnesses, not witness, witnesses, plural.
According to David Laufman, the former chief of the Justice Department's counterintelligence section who oversaw the investigation of Hillary Clinton's handling of classified documents, that plural, witnesses, means multiple people told tell DOJ there was still classified information at Mar-a-Lago. Multiple people. I'm going to speak to David Laufman in just a moment. The Justice Department is also arguing that redacting those names and
other highly classified information would be, well, basically, a waste. They're writing the redaction is necessary to mitigate harm to the integrity of the investigation would be so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of meaningful content.
So, according to the government, if they were to cross out everything classified or crucial to the investigation that wouldn't cause irreparable arm, you would be looking at page after page after page of black. Almost complete redactions. You may remember what that looked like in the Mueller report on those pages. The fully redacted pages of the Mueller report that we held up many times, just boxes and boxes and boxes of black, saying harm to ongoing matter.
And this is another important line from today's filing, according to the Justice Department, keeping the affidavit sealed is vital not only to the investigation, OK, but others. So let me read you that.
It says: Disclosure of the government's affidavit would likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high profile investigations. My emphasis, but you get the point. Other high profile investigations, so not just this one into the documents but others. Again, the plural.
Now, we of course already know of several high profile investigations underway. One of them, of course, is Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Today a major move by the DOJ in that investigation which we should note at this point from the probe is completely separate. At this time from Trump's handling of classified documents.
The DOJ, though, subpoenaing Eric Herschmann, one of Trump's top lawyers. Now, we learned during the January 6th Select Committee hearings that Herschmann was in the room for some of the most consequential meetings that Trump had about overturning the election. Here is a clip of his testimony about a conversation that he had with John Eastman, who you may recall was the architect behind Trump's attempt to overturn the election via fake electors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: I said to him, are you out of your F-ing mind. He said I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now, orderly transition. And he said, I don't want to hear any other F-ing words coming out of your mouth no matter what other than orderly transition. Repeat those words to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say?
HERSCHMANN: And eventually, he said, orderly transition. He said, good, John. Now I'm going to give you the best free legal advice you're ever getting in your life. Get a great F-ing criminal defense lawyer. You're going to need it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: There is a lot to get to tonight.
So, let's begin with Evan Perez, OUTFRONT live in Washington, with breaking details.
And, Evan, I know you've been talking to your sources. What more are you learning about the DOJ's objection to releasing the affidavit, right, all the underlying reasons that they presented to a judge in order to get that search warrant from Mar-a-Lago?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we know that in addition to witnesses, that the FBI and the prosecutors were using other investigative methods to try to gather this evidence.
They knew before they even talked to some of the witnesses, they had reason to believe that there were additional documents, highly sensitive documents that were still at Mar-a-Lago. And that's the reason why they felt that they needed to take this extraordinary step.
And, look, we know that this is an attorney general, Merrick Garland, who is very cautious, right? Everything he does, you know, he looks at and spends time reviewing before he takes these steps. Especially something that is as politically charged as this. So one of the things we know is that from this filing, you can tell that they're trying to project to the world, essentially, that this is the reason why we took this extraordinary step, which is that there is highly sensitive material, stuff that frankly mate make this case very difficult for prosecutors to even bring in court.
There is a lot of step between where this search that occurred last Monday, and the day they decide whether they're going to bring charges or not. One of the things they're going to have to do is decide whether this information, this classified information, they can even use to bring a case in court. There's a lot of things the prosecutors will have to do before they make that decision.
Again, this filing today gives you the sense that some of the things that they found in these boxes, not only back in the first time they retrieved them, but in this last search were highly sensitive materials that they don't want the public to see.
BURNETT: All right. Evan Perez, thank you very much from Washington. And I want to come now to Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director, and David Laufman, former chief of the law -- Justice Department's counterintelligence section.
So, thanks so much to both of you.
David, let me start with you because I mentioned your view on this. We read the do $judge filing today, they talk about witnesses, plural. What does that mean to you?
DAVID LAUFMAN, FORMER CHIEF, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S COUNTERINTELLIGENCE SECTION: It signifies to me, Erin, that there was more than one person who made the statements to the Justice Department, directly or through intermediaries that there was classified information and other presidential records that remained at Mar-a-Lago. And somebody was telling them something untrue. It's either the lawyers, you know, unwittingly channeling information fed to them by Trump that he knew was untrue but they didn't, or the lawyers were party to a false statement to the Justice Department themselves.
BURNETT: So, Deputy Director, the DOJ mentions these highly classified documents. And they said they would have to black out so much of the affidavit, of these underlying reasons that they use to get the search warrant, that there wouldn't be anything left to read.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's right.
BURNETT: What does that tell you?
MCCABE: There's a lot of meat on this bone. There's a lot of information in this affidavit. There are pieces of -- there are descriptions of highly classified material. So, all of that will be subject to redaction.
But in addition to those references to classified material, there are statements from witnesses that could be used to identify those people and not person, we know from the use of the plural term. There is more than one witness that told the bureau what they saw at Mar-a-Lago and indicated that there is classified information there. So, in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, to protect that information, but also the identity of those witnesses, they are not going to let any of that information --
BURNETT: They're going to fate it tooth and nail.
BURNETT: So, David, when we get to the time line, they signed a letter, we have found out. In this letter they signed it. This is a legal document that was no more classified information at Mar-a-Lago. You got it all.
Now, it was signed by Trump's attorney, not by Trump himself. So, when you look at cases like this. I know you've prosecuted some. Who is responsible? Can Trump hide behind that or not?
LAUFMAN: I mean, if Donald Trump told his lawyer to say something to the government, that Donald Trump knew was untrue, or told someone else to tell the lawyer to tell the government something that Donald Trump knew was untrue, Donald Trump has criminal jeopardy for a potential false statement, a felony.
I prosecuted cases against Chinese companies lying to us about having shipped U.S. origin goods to Iran, having lied about having stopped shipping. And they had to either felony at the end of the day when they pled guilty to a case.
So the facts remain to be seen. There's going to be more investigation undertaken by the bureau and the department to unpack what happened. But someone -- someone has criminal jeopardy, it seems to me, with regard to the false representations made that preceded the excuse of the search warrant.
BURNETT: So, Deputy Director, we're reporting tonight, Merrick Garland, the attorney general -- thought about this for weeks, OK?
So, we're going to presume this gets you back to June when they get this letter. They got witnesses telling them this is not true.
But the timeline overall is that in initially, there's 15 months in May of 2021, that the National Archives goes to Trump and says, hey, can you give us back the stuff? We're missing stuff.
LAUFMAN: That's right.
BURNETT: And here we are 15 months later. You get this letter saying, you got it all. You got it all. Still not true. When you go through time line here, is there any way it was not deceit by the former president?
MCCABE: It seems really, really hard to believe that. And the first flag that jumps out of me in that time line is go back what you just said. So, starts in May of 2021. The National Archives is asking for their stuff back. They go back and forth in six months.
And it's in January of 2022 that someone at Mar-a-Lago presumably goes through what they have and sends the Archives 15 boxes of material. We now know that in addition to those 15, they retained 33, 33 boxes is what the bureau pulled out of Mar-a-Lago last week. So a decision was made to retain the stuff that the bureau --
BURNETT: Right. So, they just didn't randomly go every other, right?
MCCABE: Exactly. So --
BURNETT: I mean, it was about what was going to be kept and what wasn't.
MCCABE: That's right. At that point, you lose the ability to say, oh, it was just a mistake. The movers put things in boxes on the day we left the White House and nobody knew it was there. At least in January, there was a proactive decision. Let's give these 15 over and we'll keep these 33 backs.
BURNETT: Right. There was an intense, some sort of a question, had a said what and who drove it. I mean, David, this is on the same time and again, we talk about other investigations. That they referenced this could cause damage to other high profile investigations. They don't say what they are.
So, I'm not trying to link it directly to January 6th but that is another high profile investigation that is going on at the DOJ and in that, White House lawyer Eric Herschmann was subpoenaed in the January 6 investigation.
So, how important is Herschmann? LAUFMAN: I think he's pretty important. I think Herschmann was part
in conversations directly with the president or with people who were in direct contact with the government. And Herschmann could probably deliver to the government a grand jury testimony, statements attributable to the president that would come in either as non-hearsay admissions, or potentially as statements by a coconspirator and furtherance of a conspiracy and come into a hearsay exception.
So, what the department is trying to get at is evidence regarding Trump's state of mind, statements he made to others, directions he gave to others because all that is extremely valuable in evaluating whether charges against Trump are ultimately warranted.
BURNETT: So, Deputy Director, what do you make of their reference, you know we talk about plurals in here, plural in witnesses, plural in other investigations, that releasing this affidavit could jeopardize other investigations. What do you -- other high profile investigations, sorry, what do you read into that?
MCCABE: So, there is the general concern that if you take a step that puts your witnesses in peril, that could have a chilling effect on other people who might be considering becoming witnesses in this or other cases. So, from a very broad level, you'd make a statement like that. But there's also the possibility that they have witnesses who have cooperated in the context of the Mar-a-Lago documents seizure who are maybe also providing them information about other things the government is investigating possibly January 6th. Possibly things we are not even aware of at this point.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Deputy Director, David. I appreciate your time.
And next, Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, informed by Georgia prosecutors that he is the target, a target, I'm sorry, a target of their criminal investigation in efforts to overturn the election. So, how worried should Trump be?
Plus, videos of people talking about civil war, threatening the FBI from popping up more and more on the popular media platform, TikTok. Tonight, TikTok's response.
And the warning, America's democracy hanging by a thread. That from Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham who recently met with President Biden to discuss American democracy. I'll talk to him about his fears for America's future.
BURNETT: A major development tonight in the Georgia criminal investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the election. Top Trump ally Rudy Giuliani is now a confirmed target of that criminal probe. Now, this is according to one of Giuliani's own attorneys. He says the Fulton County district attorney's office told him that in a call earlier today. And another lawyer for Giuliani telling our Gloria Borger, quote, if
they want to play hardball, we know how to play hardball.
Sara Murray is OUTFRONT. And she's been covering every bit of the story.
So, Sara, just how significant is this development? A confirmed target. And how much trouble could mean for Donald Trump?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's significant, because Rudy Giuliani is the closest adviser to the former president who has been called a target that we know of any of the investigation surrounding former President Trump. It seems pretty clear from this target, the letter and calls that his attorneys made, that she is looking at potentially issuing multiple indictments in her Georgia investigation. We don't know yet if one of those indictments could potentially be an indictment of the former president.
You know, we know they have been interested in Rudy Giuliani because he appeared multiple times before Georgia lawmakers in the wake of the 2020 election. He spread conspiracies about the results of the 2020 election, but what we don't know is how much information Giuliani could provide the prosecutors about Donald Trump's role in all of this.
Bob Costello made it pretty clear to CNN today that if they ask Rudy Giuliani any questions when he appears before the special grand jury on Wednesday, about Giuliani's conversations with former President Trump, Giuliani is not going to answer them. -- delusional if prosecutors think that Giuliani is going to go before a grand jury and answer questions about his former client -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Sara Murray, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to David Kelley, former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York. He served in that office as an assistant U.S. attorney for the then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani. So, three decades of knowing him, of course, and our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.
So, thanks to both of you.
David, let me start with you. You have known Rudy Giuliani for more than three decades. Just how worried do you think he should be right now that he is a confirmed target?
DAVID KELLEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Let's just break it down for a second, Erin. So, in a criminal investigation the grand jury investigation people fall into one of three categories, you're either a witness, which made you essentially a bystander, a subject which means you're going to have a party, or a target which means just that, which is you have literally a bull's-eye on your back.
[19:20:11] And you've been told that you are the focus of the grand jury investigation, which essentially means you are about to be indicted, you have incoming. And you need to do something about a quickly.
And oftentimes, most often times, there's not much he could do about it. So, it's the worst thing, the worst nightmare for a defense lawyer to hear -- a prosecutor telling you your client is a target of a criminal investigation.
BURNETT: And that's the news Rudy Giuliani got today.
Now, Caitlin, you know, Sarah was talking about how there could be multiple indictments in the Georgia criminal investigation. Obviously, we just don't know, but when you look at Rudy Giuliani and his close relationship with the former president, you wonder about Trump. How much of a threat does Donald Trump's inner circle consider this investigation in Georgia from your conversations with your sources?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think they certainly consider it a threat. I think a big part of it is because of who is not the target. Rudy Giuliani, even as he was in the middle of peddling these conspiracy theories about the election back in the aftermath of the election, some people in Trump's orbit or kind of rolling their eyes that Rudy Giuliani, and certainly distancing themselves from him. While the Republican allies of the president would not take his phone calls, because they didn't want to be involved in the efforts that Rudy Giuliani was involved in.
And so, of course, while you are being named the target, it does not mean that you're going to be indicted definitely, it means prosecutors think they could potentially get to an indictment. I think it raises a lot of concerns for Trump as well, and so the questions that people have when it comes to Rudy Giuliani about his efforts here, is what is going to be the line drawn of what Trump was urging him to do and what he was actually doing in Georgia? Because we know we saw him coming out saying that he believed -- smuggled in suitcases, under aged teenagers had voted, neither of those things which were true.
So, I think that raises a concern, but Rudy Giuliani and his attorney have said they're not going to talk about his conversations between he and Trump on Wednesday because of attorney client privilege.
BURNETT: Right. And, of course, how much he'll plead the Fifth all the way through or not.
I mean, David, it appears Trump was obviously involved with the efforts to overturn Georgia's election results. He said so himself, right? Here's a few instances from his conversation with the Republican secretary of state of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, that infamous 40-minute call. Here are just a few of the things he said.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: The people of the country are angry, there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, you've recalculated. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is
one more than we have, because we won the state, and flipping the state is a great testament to our country.
So, what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Obviously, that's the infamous line, but the question is, if Giuliani is now a target of this probe, the only person he could, quote/unquote, flip on, right, the only person above him would seem to be Trump. Is Trump going to be the real target here, do you think?
KELLEY: I think it's hard to say it with a tape like that that he is not a target of the investigation. The question is, what or the conversations he was having with others? What direction he gave to others. Whether or not there's an agreement among others to actually improperly influenced Georgia to come up with those votes improperly.
I wouldn't bet on Rudy Giuliani being the person who rats him out. If there is some conversations to be had, and it's already been said, I think he's going to refuse to answer questions put in that position, either under attorney client privilege, which frankly could probably be pierced, because there's something called the crime fraud exception. Whether or not the conditions really were over the conversations were such that they really are privileged, but the expectation put in front of a grand jury, he would probably invoke the Fifth, or he would otherwise claim some sort of privilege.
I think the greater chances would be, you know, a dialogue not between Rudy and the prosecutors, so much that perhaps Rudy's lawyer and the prosecutors to see if there's some sort of accommodation that could be made, some information that could be proffered that's not attributed to Giuliani, but that really needs to be worked out.
BURNETT: You know, Kaitlan, you talked about some of the things that Rudy Giuliani -- I just played some of the things that Donald Trump's that, but some of the things that Rudy Giuliani was alleging, right?
Here's what he was saying in public. Some of the really baseless allegations he was making.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: They look like they're passing out dope, not just ballots. It's quite clear they are stealing votes.
The people in Fulton County were instructed not to look at signatures. Not only do you have testimony to that effect, you have film that shows you them not looking at the signatures. Doing this.
Do you have the courage to stand up to the obligation of the constitution of the United States put on you to save our people from fraud? Do you have the courage to put up with what is going to happen if you in fact change that certification and do the right thing?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BURNETT: So, Kaitlan, what is the perception among those close to Trump? The passing out dope, and not just ballots, and you reference to the allegations about underage people voting, things that Giuliani knew were not true, and he still said anyway. Did he do that on his own, or was Trump directing it?
COLLINS: I think we saw publicly Trump encouraging people to watch Rudy Giuliani when he would testify for hours about this in front of those hearings. The sham hearing, about their claims about election fraud that were unfounded, and I think one of the things here that I've heard from people in recent months in the former president's orbit, is that Rudy Giuliani's attorneys have been asking repeatedly if he was a target in this investigation. Clearly, there were concerned about it, of course. Now today, they found out that he was.
What I had heard from people is that this is really the investigation that has concerned them the most. The former president, that is and his attorneys as well, because they do realize, I think, how intense the legal pressure is becoming from this, and not only on Rudy Giuliani, but Lindsey Graham not being -- being called to testify also. That's what raises questions. I think that is something they'll be pursuing. It's just how entangled with Rudy Giuliani was saying and what Trump was saying. We know how much they were meeting. That's a big question. A huge factor in this is one.
Kaitlan, David, thank you both very much.
And next, the FBI tonight charging the man who threatened to kill FBI agents after the search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. The disturbing messages that he posted online.
Plus, the threats to American democracy have Pulitzer Prize -winning historian Jon Meacham worried. In fact, he was just at the White House to discuss that issue with President Biden. He's OUTFRONT next.
BURNETT: The Justice Department charging a man in Pennsylvania who allegedly threatened to kill FBI agents after the search of Trump's home in Mar-a-Lago.
Investigators say the man posted a series of threats online in just the past few days saying, quote: I believe if you work for the FBI, you deserve to die. Quote: My only goal is to kill more of them before I drop this comes as CNN learns that the FBI's investigation and unprecedented number of threats against borough personnel. A lot of the violent rhetoric is circulating on social media platform TikTok.
Donie O'Sullivan is OUTFRONT.
And, Donie, you've been watching all of this, combing through these threats on social media. What are you seeing?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Erin, yeah it's very difficult to quantify because there's so many different platforms, a lot of these messages get removed. There very dark corners of the Internet. But certainly, for anybody that's watching this closely as many of us do the tone and tenor of the discussion online has changed dramatically since this time last week, on this very show when the news broke of that search of Mar-a-Lago.
On TikTok, specifically, we've seen a lot of videos of people posing with weapons. People showing their guns, automatic rifles, some of them are talking about being ready to go to fight, to go to civil war. Some people even saying there's going to be a fight if they come after Trump, it's on. And that is reflective across many platforms. But on TikTok we saw many, many examples.
BURNETT: So, what is -- I mean, this is only one step of the process but what is TikTok doing about this, I'd imagine it's a sense what the game whack-a-mole?
O'SULLIVAN: Yeah, whack-a-mole, indeed. Sometimes we've seen these platforms on the back foot. At TikTok we asked them about some videos today, they told us we've already removed the content and banned accounts as a violent extremism. And violent extremism and disinformation have no place on our tip-top. That's what a spokesperson told us.
But, look, why does all of this matter, you know that a lot of this of course is just online talk, rhetoric. But we also know that a lot of these forums, particularly on the real pro-Trump forums, that's where people in the days, weeks leading up to January 6, that's what they were posting about violence and the even committed violent acts.
BURNETT: That's right. Sometimes it is not just words. And we've seen it. Donie, thank you very, very much.
I want to bring in Jon Meacham now, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who occasionally advises President Biden and he is the author of the upcoming book, and there was light, Abraham Lincoln and the American struggle. He recently met with Biden to discuss the rise and threats to American democracy, which, Jon, I know you've learned is quote, hanging by a thread.
So, I want to ask you in the context of some of these threats that Donnie was going through, FBI agents quote, deserved to die, there's going to be a fight if they come after Trump. It's on.
The FBI says the number of threats they're saying is unprecedented just in the past week after the surge of Mar-a-Lago.
Does this surprise you in any way, Jon?
JON MEACHAM, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING BIOGRAPHER: It disappoints and frightens me. Surprise, not so much, partly because we're living in this era where extremism has been to some extent brought into the light. For a long time in American life, political violence, extremist views at least were for part of the conversation but a little bit to the side. They've been mainstreamed in many ways.
And I think that one of the things we have to confront, and this is a matter for leaders, and presidents, and citizens, certainly journalists as well, is we have to remember what is it about the rule of law, what is it about however flawed it may be, a constitutional conversation that makes it worth preserving, and defending. We can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And what we've seen, again, and again in American life is that when people are in any way, subtly encouraged to fight against the consensus as a rule of law, chaos results.
BURNETT: You know, in a recent meeting with Biden, it was reported that you and others were basically talking about the fragility of American democracy at the moment. That there was a comparison in the conversation raised to the period leading into the civil war. Now, I raise those words, didn't hesitate, but thought carefully before I did it.
And then you know, Donie was going to talk about these posts where people are saying that they're ready for civil war. These wars are being bandied about. Are we had a place now, Jon, where fears of civil war are not just words or exaggerations or re hyperbole, but now more real?
MEACHAM: I would say what is real, it's civil chaos, which might be a little more accurate, in the 1850s, when you go back and you read the actual real time record, the newspapers in the south, the cornerstone speech that Alexander Stevens, vice president of come federally deliver talking about the ability, the mission of the confederacy which was to become a white supremacist government. The cornerstone of the confederacy was to be slavery, white superiority.
When you read that, you realize that it wasn't just a conflict of ideas and about policy. It was a conflict of visions of human nature, and human equality, and reality itself. And self righteousness is a very, very pernicious thing, we all know that in our own lives --
MEACHAM: And the nation.
I think that the more people believe that their entire way of being, the right tire identity, is tied up in a minute to minute political developments, we are at greater risk. And the great thing about the country, in extremis, we've tended, tended to see politics not as total war, but as a mediation of differences.
And what we're seeing it right now, and you're covering it day to day, is you have this unfolding assault on the rule of law. You also have, President Biden as you pointed out, he's my friend I help them when I can, so take this in that context. He's governing.
This is a remarkable period of making a very divided country take actual concrete steps towards a future that a lot of people want, and that the majority of people in the United States voted for two years ago. BURNETT: I wonder though, former President Trump's made many
inflammatory claims about the search with the FBI. He's put out things that are untrue, called an attack, a siege all sorts of things. I want to make that very clear.
According to "The New York Times", after news of the raid, he also sent a message to Attorney General Merrick Garland. So, this was a private message. That message was, quote, the country is on firewood, what I can do to reduce the heat? Obviously, publicly he was inflaming it, but that's what he said.
And one of his staunchest allies, Congressman Louis Gohmert, appealed for calm in another backhanded way. But h comment was: To Republicans and libertarians of good heart and conscience: do not let this lawless government provoked violence. So, a slap on one side but a call against violence.
So, I understand may be hard to take them serious, Jon, I raise a serious question off of this. Do the people who started the fire, even have the power to put it out at this point?
MEACHAM: It's a great question. And we're going to live that question from day to day, and week to right now. I don't know is the answer. As you say, the thing about la law, don't fly back against a lawless government, when the government took pains to actually follow the law.
And so, if we're going to make it through this, let me just put it this way, if we're going to make it through this and then Republicans, independents, Democrats, the problems on the right at the moment. The problem -- there could be a problem on the left tomorrow, but there's not one today. So, let's talk about the facts as they are in front of us.
If they see the politics, if they see this, as entirely an avenue, a machine for their power, right, their holding primacy of the moment, if power is all in and then ends justify the means.
And what I think the citizens have to do is take a moment, judge things for yourself, but just because someone with a platform say something does not make it true. And just because someone who was held (AUDIO GAP) something does not make it true.
MEACHAM: So, my sense is, if you -- if you love this country, you have to love it even when you lose. And you have to love it even when your heroes do something wrong. And you have to put the country itself above these appetite-driven instincts for power. I think that's what we're seeing.
And so, it's an immense test. It's the gravest test of our lifetime of citizenship. Are we willing to see each other as neighbors and not as enemies?
BURNETT: All right. Jon Meacham, thank you very much for your thoughts, perspective. I appreciate it. MEACHAM: Thanks.
BURNETT: And next, all eyes on Allen Weisselberg, Trump's former CFO, the man who knows where, quote, all the bodies are buried. We've heard it again and again. Well, the Manhattan DA's charge him and Trump Org in its investigation. His next move.
And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis making a huge splash on the national stage with rallies scheduled across the country. Is this the beginning of a 2024 run?
BURNETT: Tonight, all eyes are on longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and the Manhattan DA's probe where he faces tax fraud charges. The question is what his next move could be, because it comes after Donald Trump spent hours pleading the Fifth in the New York attorney civil probe into the Trump Org. These are just two many of the looming investigations that has the former president facing possible legal jeopardy.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With legal battles raging all around Team Trump, the news out of New York is not good for the former president. Just days ago, he squared off against nearly a dozen assistant attorneys general on allegations he fraudulently raised the value of his company to get favorable loans, then dropped it to pay less in taxes.
REPORTER: Mr. Trump, how do you feel?
FOREMAN: Trump calls it a witch hunt that he reportedly took the Fifth hundreds of times despite a history of ridiculing those who do the same.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: The mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?
FOREMAN: A similar probe by the Manhattan district attorney is also still alive. In Georgia, a top political allies, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, has been ordered to testify about Trump's failed effort to overturn his 2020 election loss in the Peach State.
TRUMP: I just want to find 11,780 votes.
FOREMAN: Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has been told he is a target and has been ordered to meet with the grand jury there this week. Those close to the losing candidate insist they did nothing wrong but questions have been raised about the legality of their pressure on state officials.
FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We're going to look at everything until that investigation is complete.
FOREMAN: And heavy legal fire is coming from Washington, D.C., too.
MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The search warrant was authorized by a federal court.
FOREMAN: The seizure of reportedly classified documents from Trump's Florida home has triggered sharp questions for Trump and for the Justice Department from some Republicans.
REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Show us the goods. We need to determine, is this a national security threat?
TRUMP: We fight like.
FOREMAN: But there is so much more. A federal grand jury is scrutinizing Trump's effort to overturn the election. And justice, along with the January 6th Select Congressional Committee is looking at Trump's role in the attack on the U.S. capital, of which he is also being sued by several police officers, injured in violence.
FOREMAN (on camera): Many of these cases could ultimately lead to Trump allies being charged in a criminal way, and maybe Trump, too. That was once considered unthinkable for a former president. But then a former president who would urge his followers to believe a lie? To push back against it? To refuse to accept that he simply lost the election?
Erin, that was considered unthinkable too.
BURNETT: It was. All right. Tom Foreman, thank you very much.
FOREMAN: You're welcome.
Next, the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made a big jump. It's a big jump off the diving board, the national stage, campaigning for Republicans across the country. Is he setting the stage for a presidential run?
And an update on the effort to bring home American Alex Drueke who was captured in Ukraine.
BURNETT: Tonight, Ron DeSantis on the national stage. The Florida governor on a cross-country tour campaigning for Republicans ahead of the midterms, amid talk he may be planning a 2024 presidential bid. He's hitting Ohio and Pennsylvania, and also New Mexico and Arizona.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT in Scottsdale, Arizona.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): East meets west in a show of a united Republican front. The headliner of this Arizona rally, Florida governor and possible 2024 hopeful Rhonda DeSantis.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: From the beaches of Florida to the deserts of Arizona, November 8th, 2022, it's going to be the day that America fights back.
LAH: To energize this Phoenix crowd, DeSantis turned his political fire to the news in his state -- the FBI search of Donald Trump's Mar- a-Lago estate.
DESANTIS: They're enforcing the law based on who they like and who they don't like. That is not a republic -- well, maybe it's a banana republic when that happens.
LAH: Echoed by the Republican nominee for Arizona Governor Kari Lake, heavy on grievance, lights on facts.
KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GOV. CANDIDATE: Then these people sent politically motivated federal agents to President Donald Trump's home and rated it. How dare they?
LAH: This is the first large political rally since the Mar-a-Lago search.
How much is that affecting Republicans who are going to be voting this year in the midterms?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope it's a lot, I hope it ignites people and gets them out there and they want to help support the Republican ticket.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After what happened on Monday, we have to show our support for the president, the real president, anyway.
LAH: Here in Arizona, where Trump's 2020 election lies still thrives in a big swath of the GOP. His endorsed candidates swept the state's primary.
LAH: Kari Lake defeated a Republican backed by Mike Pence and the establishment.
LAKE: The Republican Party isn't your great, great grandfather's party anymore.
LAH: U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters is also Trump endorsed.
BLAKE MASTERS (R), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: It will be Arizona first and America first all the way.
LAH: The proof is in the primaries, say voters in this crowd. That the more centrist Arizona Republican Party of John McCain is gone. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We feel McCain is a total traitor.
I believe he was a RINO.
LAH: In this theater, party unity and its success in November is under the banner of Trump.
LAH (on camera): I spoke with the Democratic nominee for Arizona governor, Katie Hobbs. She disagrees that leaning in on Trump will help the candidates win in November. A third of the registered voters in Arizona are independents. And Hobbs believes by directly speaking to them, Erin, that is who will be successful in November -- Erin.
BURNETT: It will be such a race to watch. Thank you so much, Kyung.
And next, the family of American Alex Drueke, he was captured in Ukraine. They're hoping that this event, with dogs. We'll tell you about it, and help bring him home.
BURNETT: And finally tonight, an update to a story we've been following closely. The capture of Alex Drueke, an American held by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. His family just hosted a dog adoption event, with the goal of wearing awareness of prisoners of war. Alex and his colleague Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh have been missing for 67 days. The event comes on the heel of a phone call between Alex Drueke, his mother Bonnie, and the State Department.
It's a cause that hits, home for Drueke has his own dog, Diesel, and his mother says that Alex asked about the dog whenever he's been able to talk to them. She hears the excitement in his voice about seeing him when he comes on.
Thanks so much for joining us.
"A360" starts now.