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Trump Says He Won't Object to Unsealing Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant; WaPo: FBI was Searching for Nuclear Weapon-Related Documents; CDC Ends Social Distancing, COVID Quarantine Recommendations. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired August 12, 2022 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Friday, August 12th. I'm Christine Romans.

Donald Trump says he will not object to unsealing that search warrant the FBI served at his Mar-a-Lago residence this week.

The former president posting on Truth Social late last night: Not only will I not oppose the release of documents related to the un-American, unwarranted and unnecessary raid and break-in of Mar-a-Lago, I'm going to set further by encouraging the immediate release of those documents.

For the record, of course, it was not a break-in. It was a legal search under a warrant signed by a judge.

Attorney General Merrick Garland says the DOJ will ask a judge to unseal the warrant and the property receipt for Monday's search.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good afternoon. The department filed the notion 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.


ROMANS: "The Washington Post" now reports the FBI was looking for classified documents related to nuclear weapons. The sources say whether those documents were related to U.S. nukes or those of another nation or whether any such documents were recovered.

I want to bring in former federal prosecutor Lis Wiehl, author of "A Spy in Plain Sight".

So nice to have you on the program with your expertise this morning.

You know, "The Washington Post" reporting is that the FBI was looking for classified nuclear weapons related documents. If this is true, does it change what the legal risk for President Trump and what he might be charged with her?

LIS WIEHL, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Potentially. I mean, we know for looking at the affidavit, even the application for the release of the information in the affidavit, that they are looking for sensitive documents. We know that there's been a dialogue back and forth with the Justice Department and Mr. Trump about the release and return of these documents.

So, we know that they were important. We know that they were sensitive. And this just adds to, you know, the owner, basically on Mr. Trump to these before it became this big of a mess and the department had to execute that search warrant.

ROMANS: Yeah, this is a conversation that has been going on with the government and the Trump team all the way back in January to try and secure documents. Trump's legal team, now, has less than 12 hours to object to the DOJ request to unseal that warrant. President Trump, former President Trump late last night said that he does not oppose it, if he were to object to it, what grounds could he object?

WIEHL: Well, he's kind of painted his lawyers into a bit of a box here with that, with that public utterance of I don't, mine all over because what the lawyers have to argue is that he has a privacy concern. He is a private citizen now, as a former president. And so, he has a privacy concern as any citizen would.

The problem for his lawyers is that from the beginning, Mr. Trump has said this was a persecution. This was conspiracy by the government. So, they made it and heightened. The government is out there talking about the execution of the search warrant. Mr. Trump was.

So, he, himself, put him in the position of sort of saying that that's out the window, I'm going to go on the offensive here. His tweet ended last night and it seems to be even more so the case. Now and they seem to say that the lawyers can't come in today and argue that we couldn't control our client. But this is the legal standard. And he has a privacy interest.

My guess is that the judge is going to look at all of that. Look at what Trump's been saying to the public. And so, you can't have it both ways.

It is too late to order a gag order in this where both parties are quiet about it. So what is the solution? The solution is unsealing at least part of the document which is what the document is asking for. And also very importantly, Christine, is releasing the receipt or return of inventory that was given to Mr. Trump, and that list everything that the government took out of that surge.


WIEHL: That's critical. Even if it's redacted, we want to know. Not just what their allegations were to get the search warrant but what did they find when they executed that warrant. ROMANS: Yes, we knew they does for surveillance video, too, you know,

to see who is moving around were and whether those documents were secured and who could've accessed to them.

A remarkable moment yesterday, the attorney general giving the speech after these of silent.


There was pressure from even inside the Department of Justice to kind of give some clarity, just because how remarkable this whole series of events.

What are your takeaways from Merrick Garland speech yesterday?

WIEHL: You know, he did what he had to do. Look, they have sources, more than one to get that search warrant. A judge signed off on. It so it's not like it's just the Department of Justice doing what they want to do. The judge had to sign off on that.

So, you, know let's say that they had a probable cause for that surge forward. And then, Mr. Trump and his team had been relentlessly attacking saying that this was just all a setup, a witch hunt and all of that. The department we had to respond because it has become, because Mr. Trump has made it such a volatile political issue that has gotten -- you know that violence has occurred because of.

So, you know, he pushed himself now in this position. If the department had gone out on the offensive, that would've been wrong. They didn't do that, they were responding defensively.

ROMANS: Interesting.

WIEHL: I'm told your father was an FBI agent. I'm just thinking how remarkable this series of events has been over the past five days. You know, all of those FBI agents in cargo pants and not wearing the FBI jackets, you know trying to execute this search. And it was actually the president of the United States himself who confirmed. It wasn't the government.

ROMANS: Exactly. Exactly, you make my point Christine. I mean, they went in trying to be as unobtrusive of possible, right? They had tried to negotiate with him before. Those negotiations had completely fallen down.

They think that there's actual, you know, top secret, could be nuclear secret information kept by this volatile ex-president. They have to do something. But they don't want to make it a public event. That's why they go in there the way that they did. They could've done it very differently as my father would've probably back in the day had done.

So, they really were trying and certainly argue to protect the former president's privacy. It was he who said and made this a public issue and garnered the support and created this public outcry. We had to respond. ROMANS: We had a Florida state attorney the other day who was talking

about and reminding us that there had been a suspected Chinese spy who tried to gain access to Mar-a-Lago. So, you know, the real world consequences here that we are talking about potentially very serious and secret information. A lot that we don't know.

WIEHL: Exactly.

ROMANS: A lot we don't know. Lis Wiehl, former federal prosecutor --


ROMANS: Yeah, that's right.

All right. Her new book, "A Spy in Plain Sight", Lis Wiehl, thank you so much for dropping by this morning. Have a nice weekend.

All right. Monday's FBI search was not the first time federal investigators came away with sensitive national security documents form Mar-a-Lago. Sources tell CNN investigators brought a grand jury subpoena to a June meeting at the president's Florida property.

During the meeting, they were shown were documents were held in a basement room. It shows how the investigation had escalated and become confrontational long before Monday's surge, contrary to claims by Trump and his supporters.

CNN and other major outlets are asking the judge to unseal the entire court record in the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago this week. "The Washington Post", NBC News, all join CNN filing this requests for all the sworn statement from investigators, laying out probable cause for that search.

Just, ahead new revelations about the armed suspect who tried to storm an FBI office.

Plus, new guidance from the CDC signaling a new phase of this pandemic.

And, Joe Biden's climate health care just hours away from clearing a big hurdle.



ROMANS: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray are responding to the criticism and threats both their agencies have faced in recent days, following that raid on Donald Trump's Mar- a-Lago residence.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The men and women up the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants. Every day, they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their safety while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so a great personal sacrifice and a risk to themselves.


ROMANS: And Wray said, quote, violence and threat against law enforcement including the FBI are dangerous and should be deeply concerning to all Americans. Wray also sent out a note to all FBI employees showing him their concern for their safety.

The only criticism and threat within hours after the search at Trump's Florida home on Monday, extremists online were calling for civil war, they were calling for the attorney general's assassination. And then yesterday, a man armed with an AR-15 rifle, with possible links to the January 6th attack tried to break into an FBI office in Cincinnati. He was shot and killed.

CNN's Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Local officials and law enforcement sources tell CNN the suspect trying to breach the visitor's screening facility at the FBI Cincinnati field office on Thursday morning, wearing body armor and carrying an AR-15 style rifle and a nail gun.

An alarm went off, and according to a law enforcement source, an altercation occurred.

LT. NATHAN DENNIS, OHIO STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: He was unsuccessful when he fled the area. The FBI then contacted us and they let us know what had occurred and what type of vehicle he was at the scene.

TODD: Officials say the suspect, a male, travelled north on Interstate 71 in a white Ford Crown Victoria.


State troopers engaged in a pursuit that turned dangerous.

DENNIS: Throughout the pursuit, they continue northbound on 71 and the suspect vehicle did fire shots during that pursuit.

TODD: Police say the suspect's vehicle then exited to another state road and made at least one other turn before coming to a stop.

DENNIS: Once the vehicle came to a stop, the gunfire was exchanged between officers on scene and the suspect.

TODD: A standoff then ensued for hours. The Ohio state highway patrol says that officers attempted to negotiate with the suspect. When that didn't work, they tried to take him into custody.

DENNIS: Less lethal tactics were utilized at the time. They were also unsuccessful. The suspect then did raise a firearm towards law enforcement and shots were fired by law enforcement officers on the scene. At that point, the suspect was deceased. He succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

TODD: Lieutenant Nathan Dennis says no law enforcement officers were injured.

This FBI office, which opened in 1913 does counterterrorism work and investigates white color crime and child pornography. It is not clear with the motive of the attack was.

It comes just a few days after the FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. And since that raid, threats of violence against the FBI have increased, which FBI Director Christopher Wray addressed.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Any threats made against law enforcement, including the men and women in the FBI as with any law enforcement agency are deplorable and dangerous.


TODD (on camera): Free law enforcement officers tells CNN the suspect has been identified as Ricky Shiffer, an account bearing the name of the suspect made a post on former President Donald Trump's social media platform, referencing an attempt to storm in an FBI office and also encourage others online to prepare for a revolutionary type war.

Now, on the Truth Social account, the user claimed he was present in Washington on January 6, but he did not say whether he entered Capitol Hill. Authorities say they have not yet confirmed that the account is the suspect's.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

ROMANS: A former Virginia police officers sentenced to more than seven years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. Thomas Robertson was fired from his police department after breaching the Capitol with the pro-Trump mob on January 6th. He received the same sentence, 87 months, as the first rider convicted by a jury in federal court. More than a dozen January 6th defendants that vowed to take their case to trial instead of entering a plea agreement.

First time CNN sources say former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao met with the House January 6th committee, the committee also said to be in talks with Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, former national security advisor Robert O'Brien is expected to appear before the panel. That's today. Chao and DeVos resigned the day after the Capitol attack. The two Trump cabinet members were reportedly part of discussions to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Still to come, President Biden facing a key decision on forgiving student loan debt.

And no more six feet apart, new guidance for the new school year.


[05:22:41] ROMANS: All right. The CDC revising its COVID-19 guidelines. The agency no longer recommends social distancing and has lifted requirement to quarantine if exposed to the virus. Officials also updating COVID-19 protocols in schools, eliminating the need for a test to stay after potential exposure.

White House COVID response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, at a Q&A with Senator Bernie Sanders says, this is a game-changer for students.


DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We should look forward to a very different school year. We should look forward to a school year where every child is in school, in-person, full-time, for the whole year. I think we have all the ability to do that, and that should be the only acceptable standard.


ROMANS: Let's bring in Dr. Elizabeth Murray, a pediatric emergency physician at Golisano Children's Hospital at University of Rochester Medical Center, someone who's been along with us for this whole ride, giving us great guidance here, especially for us parents who are trying to navigate all this.

What do you think of these new guidelines? I mean, they would end some disruptions in workplaces and schools. It seems to put the responsibility on individuals to take care of themselves and be safe here.

Are you -- how do you interpret all of this?

DR. ELIZABETH MURRAY, PEDIATRIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: Yeah, I think that if our goal is to keep kids in school, which I think it definitely is, we must acknowledged that having schools open because there are no rules is different than having schools open because of robust safety rules being put in place. I think these new guidelines are very going to limit school boards ability to flex and adjust as need be, depending on what's happening in their community, and I'm very concerned that this is going to further marginalized populations that have already suffered greatly during the pandemic.

This -- you know, putting the burden on the person is putting a burden on a six year old and school to navigate what is best for them to wear a mask or make sure that they're eating their meals outside, you know, we need kids to be in school, we need them to be safe, we need the adults to make some good, smart decisions.

ROMANS: We also know that the CDC says that only 37 percent of children between five and 11 are vaccinated. So, we're talking about a population that doesn't have robust protection from vaccination.

MURRAY: Correct. And for a smaller number have received boosters, and only less than 1 million children under five have been vaccinated so far. So, we have a whole new batch of kindergartners coming in, many of them may not be vaccinated. [05:25:05]

Vaccination still remains incredibly powerful in preventing severe disease and death. You know, kids are not supposed to be hospitalized. Children are not supposed to die from diseases, well we wish the vaccine completely eliminated all disease transmission and symptoms, it's not doing that right now. But it is preventing severe cases, and it is preventing side effects down the road.

And so, I think we're going to reduce some of the mitigation factors in school, this is a clear reminder, a clear call to parents, if you're in the northeast or the northern part of the country, you've got about four weeks before school starts, now is the time to vaccinate your child.

ROMANS: So, what are your recommendation for parents then, should they be sending their kids to school soon with these updated guidelines?

MURRAY: There's going to have to be a lot of thought and a lot of decision-making about what is your family's risk, how does the health of your family and close loved ones, other medical problems, does your child do well with wearing a mask, if your child old enough to navigate situations?

I have a 13 year old. She can look at a room and look at a situation and say, all right, were pretty crowded in here, I'm going to track meet later this week, let me thrown in a mask because I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to keep myself protected, because I have big activities and looking forward to. You know, younger children can't necessarily do that.

So keeping an eye on the disease in your community, which unfortunately, is coming harder and harder to do for many people, but keeping a close eye on that and a lot of flexing to decide what is the safest thing for your family. But again, all childhood vaccinations are critically important, added that have polio coming back on my bingo card this year. So let's all get our vaccines and make sure everyone's vaccine against COVID-19 as well.

ROMANS: Yeah. Dr. Elizabeth Murray, thank you so much. Great advice as always, have a nice weekend.

MURRAY: Take care.

ROMANS: Still to come, a grim prognosis for the actress Anne Heche after that fiery crash left her in critical condition.

And a big day ahead for the Biden agenda, landmark piece of legislation is getting closer to the president's desk.