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FBI Raids Residence of Former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago; Some Republicans Charge FBI Raid of Former President Trump's Residence Politically Motivated; Former President Trump May Announce Presidential Bid for 2024. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired August 10, 2022 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I'm told from sources familiar with this investigation that one of the things that prompted this search, this unprecedented step by the FBI, is that there were suspicions that there were still documents at Mar-a-Lago that Trump and his representatives had not turned over, that they were withholding, that had national security implications. And a source I spoke to said there was concern that over the months of these discussions with Trump's representatives that they were not being fully forthcoming, fully truthful. And so that is all part of what was behind this. But, of course, there are still some unanswered questions here, including exactly what the FBI took away from Mar-a-Lago.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: David, there had been this consensus yesterday among legal observers that there must have been some breakdown here recently about trying to get what officials needed, and here we have from Pam's reporting and reporting from our colleagues insight into that.
DAVID LAUFMAN, FORMER CHIEF OF COUNTERINTELLIGENCE SECTION OF JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, looks like the Department of Justice and the FBI gave Trump and his representatives all the time that they thought was appropriate to comply with their legal obligations to return official documents, including potentially classified records. I think it's really important to highlight the fact that one of Trump's own lawyers conceded to "The Washington Post" yesterday that the warrant, which the lawyer saw, indicated the warrant was seeking information relating to classified information. The president is in significant legal jeopardy if he retained classified information at Mar-a-Lago, and especially if he failed to turn it over to the department and the FBI all these months later.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: David, since we have you, let's just get this out there right now, because people have been asking questions, comparing this to the situation, the investigation surrounding Hillary Clinton's emails. How is this different?
LAUFMAN: We don't have enough factual information yet to compare all the many ways this may be different, John. The Clinton investigation stands on its own. I oversaw and conducted multiple investigations of the Justice Department involving the mishandling of classified information. And every case has its own factual ecosystem. The Clinton investigation was exhaustively conducted by career prosecutors and agents, and there was a consensus that it was inappropriate to assign any criminal liability to her, period.
We don't know the full range of facts here, but what we do know is that boxes were returned to the National Archives many months ago that the National Archives was alarmed by, that they sought classified information in these boxes. And the National Archives made a criminal referral to the Department of Justice, extraordinary, and that apparently triggered an investigation into the mishandling of classified information by former President Trump.
KEILAR: And, Pam, 10 to 12 boxes of materiel, we should say materiel, reportedly removed. We should recall that back in January there were 15 boxes removed, but 10 to 12 removed in this search and seizure on Monday, which really stands in contrast to what Christina Bobb, the lawyer for Trump, was saying about how they had gone through two to three dozen boxes and returned several things. But obviously that is far short of what we saw removed.
BROWN: Yes, that's exactly. And one of the questions is what are the materials? How much materials taken away were classified, had national security implications, as the concern was, taken from the White House? There's two separate issues here. There is the issue of classified information, and you have the issue of presidential records, records that belong to the government. And so we just simply don't know the answer of that, but it is notable that even after 15 boxes were taken away from Mar-a-Lago earlier this year, taken to the National Archives, an additional around a dozen boxes were taken after this search was executed.
BERMAN: Yes. More boxes taken than the original 15. What's in them at this point we just don't know.
David, there are a lot of people calling on Merrick Garland, Republicans mostly, calling on Merrick Garland to make some kind of announcement about what this is all about. But what's to keep Donald Trump and his legal team from releasing the search warrant? Don't they have a copy of it?
LAUFMAN: Nothing. They have a copy of the search warrant. They also have a copy, John, of an inventory customarily left by agents when a search is concluded. There is nothing to stop Donald Trump from holding a press conference and releasing on his social media platform a copy of the warrant which would show the statutes, the violations of law referencing in federal code. They were the basis for a federal magistrate's decision that there was probable cause to find evidence of a crime at Mar-a-Lago, and the places they searched.
They could make public that information today. When the department chooses to release a search warrant affidavit is a more complex discretionary issue. I suspect it's going to hinge on whether release of the affidavit at the department's judgment would be detrimental to the integrity of an ongoing investigation. And that's a timing issue customarily.
KEILAR: Pam, I want to listen to a very interesting exchange that you had interviewing Republican Congressman Mike Turner. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE TURNER, (R) RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: These two gentlemen ran against each other and Donald Trump has said he might run against Biden even now, and Biden said he might run. We'll have to see whether or not he does. This is an absolute political rival of the sitting president.
BROWN: You believe that the Justice Department under President Biden is trying to go after his political rival, Donald Trump, because of 2024? Is that what you're trying to say here?
TURNER: No, Pamela. I didn't say that. Thanks for trying to put words in my mouth.
BROWN: No, I did not try to. I'm trying to clarify to make sure we understand.
TURNER: What I said was they need to answer these questions. There better be something of important national security for them to have breached the confidence of the American public if they would go into the home of a past president, possible political candidate, against this current president. This is so outrageous, that this has to rise to the level of -- this better not be a clerical issue between the archivist and the former president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: It was really interesting, Pam. It plays into some of the downplaying that we're seeing from some Republicans, including from people like Kash Patel, former White House and Pentagon official, who is saying a president can just declassify stuff, he can just declassify stuff, basically, and take it to Mar-a-Lago with him.
BROWN: Yes, that's what we also heard in that interview with Congressman Turner. That is the argument that they are making, especially when they are pressed on the hypocrisy, essentially, when there was so much concern during the Hillary Clinton investigation about mishandling of classified information. What about this? You have boxes of potentially classified information, documents marked top secret, at the president's Mar-a-Lago private residence and he's a private citizen. The argument that allies are making is that, well, look, when Trump was president, he had the ultimate authority to declassify documents, and he did so with numerous batches of documents.
And in talking to legal experts about this, there is a little bit of a gray area, that there is no formal procedure for a president to declassify. So it would be difficult, it would come down to a factual dispute and the strength of the evidence about whether the president really did declassify these documents that the FBI took.
BERMAN: Pamela Brown, David Laufman, it's great to have you both on this morning. Thank you.
KEILAR: Top Republican allies of former President Trump are reportedly urging him to speed up his timeline for an announcement on a 2024 presidential bid, with the search at Mar-a-Lago the key factor changing their minds. Several sources tell CNN the group includes some Republicans who previously advised Trump to wait until after the midterms.
Joining us now is CNN anchor Chris Wallace, the host of "Who's Talking to Chris Wallace." Chris, it's so great to have you here, as always. What do you think about this, this speeding up of a timeline, and the fact that there are Republicans now kind of moving to support Trump that maybe wouldn't have been so vociferous about it before?
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Look, at least at this point it's a kind of a rally around the flag, in this case the Trump flag. Having said that, there are a an awful lot of people inside the Republican Party who have always thought it would be a bad idea for Trump to announce he's running again before the midterms. And interestingly enough, one of the few people who yesterday, even after the raid, or the search, I should say, said I think that we shouldn't do it is Ronna McDaniel, who is the chair of the Republican National Committee. She said let's focus on the playoffs before we worry about the Super Bowl.
And I think there are really two reasons. One, if Trump were to announce tomorrow that he's running for president, a lot of money that might go to Republican candidates for the midterms instead might go to the Trump 2024 presidential campaign, in addition to which he immediately soaks up a lot of the oxygen. And instead of those Republican candidates for the House, the Senate, governor, all the way down being able to focus on Joe Biden and inflation and crime and all of those issues, they're all going to be asked, what do you think about Donald Trump, what do you think about the raid? And the smart Republicans I talked to think that isn't what they should be focusing on in the less than 100 days left before the midterms.
BERMAN: Chris, I'm intrigued by this back and forth now over who should come forward with information about what happened at Mar-a-Lago on Monday. You have more Republicans saying Merrick Garland has got to come out and make some statement or go public with what the investigation is about. But then you have the fact that Donald Trump could release the warrant anytime he wants to. So where do you think things stand?
WALLACE: Well, I think that was a very interesting line of questioning you pursued with David Laufman just now.
You're exactly right. There is every reason in the world why you would not expect the Justice Department to come out. They don't have press conferences in the middle of investigations. Sometimes they don't say anything at all if there is not going to be a prosecution.
On the other hand, as you point out, if this is such an outrageous breach of privacy, so unprecedented a search of the home of a former president, as you point out, Donald Trump has the search warrant, some of it may be under seal, but some of it isn't. As David Laufman pointed out, they also have the inventory that was left by the FBI agents of what they actually took out of Mar-a-Lago on Monday. There is nothing to stop President Trump from holding a news conference, releasing all of that. And you have to wonder why.
KEILAR: Legally, former President Trump must be concerned here, but politically, Chris, has he been handed an opportunity on a silver platter with this?
WALLACE: Well, yes and no, I think. In the short-term, absolutely. He's back on the front page, we're all talking about him, you're seeing this rally around the Trump flag inside the Republican Party.
Two points, I guess, I would make. One, given the news cycle, this is a very big deal today. Will it be a big deal next week or the week after? I kind of doubt it.
And then secondly, there is also what is baked in the cake. Is there some very incriminating evidence that the FBI agents found at Mar-a- Lago? If so, that's not going to inure to his benefit, particularly as we -- if it ends up in an investigation. One point I do want to make, though, about these investigations, in April of 2021, and people forget it now, which is an indication of new cycles pass, remember when the FBI raided the home and the office of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and there was a firestorm, that they had taken records, they'd taken electronic devices, all kinds of stuff, and there was this question of attorney-client privilege. He was the lawyer for the former president.
There has been silence about that for a year plus, and there was a story in "The New York Times" in the last few days which said that "The Times" reporter had been told by a few sources that there was going to be no charge, and this was a question of whether or not Giuliani had done foreign lobbying on behalf of Ukraine without registering as a foreign lobbyist, that there is going to be no charge because they found no smoking gun in the raid. So, sometimes raids turn up things, sometimes they don't.
BERMAN: Look, it's very important to say that. Sometimes when you execute a search warrant, it is to get information. It does not necessarily lead to an indictment. It is part of the investigatory process.
Chris, again, I continue to be intrigued by some of the things politicians are saying or making calls on the way they're doing it. You sort of have Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell in an interesting place, where they're now, again, calling on Merrick Garland to come forward and talk about what this investigation is about and release details. And it is being portrayed as they're sticking up for Donald Trump here. But couldn't you also read this and say, if you're Mike Pence or Mitch McConnell and you think, hey, look, if this information ends up being incriminating of Donald Trump, it's also good for them?
WALLACE: Oh, yes. Absolutely. They would just as soon Donald Trump passes from the scene. There actually have been, I would say, three levels of reaction from Republican officials. You've got the pants on fire group, and I would include in that Ron DeSantis and Josh Hawley who talk about weaponization of the Justice Department, DeSantis talked about the regime, not the Biden administration, or the White House, but the regime, with a capital "R" trying to go after its political enemies. Josh Hawley on talking about Garland should resign or be impeached. That's level one, Defcon one, if you will.
Defcon three, which is much more moderate, are people like Pence, who is basically saying, I have a deep concern and I think that Garland should come out and level with the American people. I don't think he's going to do that. But you're basically saying come clean and tell us the facts but I'm not going to jump to any conclusions. And then you have Chris Christie, a former Trump ally, former governor of New Jersey, who has said, yes, I got concerns about it, but investigations are investigations. And specifically asked about the safe, he said, well, if you're doing an FBI warrant investigation, cracking the former president's safe is, quote, fair game. So I think there are different levels, and I think they suit each person's political interest.
KEILAR: He gave the impression that he trusts the process here. I'm glad you point that out, Chris. These statements, these responses are not all created equal.
Chris, it is great to have you. Thank you.
WALLACE: You bet. And if there is one thing I learned from the previous segment, don't get crosswise with Pam Brown, because she will shut you down.
KEILAR: She seems so nice, and she is, but you're right. Don't get on the wrong side, Chris.
KEILAR: All right. Rudy Giuliani ordered to appear before a Georgia grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election. We're going to speak to the state's Republican lieutenant governor next.
Meanwhile, a key report card on the economy, the July inflation numbers are just minutes away.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In an emotional moment at a Little League playoff game, a batter hit in the head. What happens next, though, it will warm your heart.
KEILAR: New details emerging about the FBI's search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. According to a source, the search comes after authorities suspected that Trump and his team -- or his team were not being honest with them about the materials that he took from the White House after leaving office and that the documents had national security implications.
Despite that information, many Republicans continue to rally to Trump's defense.
Joining us now is Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia, Geoff Duncan.
Sir, thank you so much for being with us this morning.
LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R), GEORGIA: Thank you.
KEILAR: How are you reacting to this search and seizure? Where do you stand on this?
DUNCAN: Well, I think my reaction is a lot like the average American right now, confused and concerned, right? A former president's personal house being searched, but, look, I think we're all in a holding pattern until we find out what the Department of Justice is after.
And certainly they're not going to show their hand. It is an investigation. But I do think it is important to start to communicate to dismiss any sort of rumors or hints of political nature to this, and make sure if it is something substantive, let us know that so America can start to move on.
But, look, this is a confusing time. There are so many investigations out there, certainly here in Georgia, and across the Department of Justice. It is certainly a confusing time for Americans.
KEILAR: Do you trust DOJ is doing this by the book and keeping politics out of this?
DUNCAN: I certainly hope so. As an American, that's where my hopes are at is that this is a legitimate investigation, there is serious nature to this, but, you know, if they swing and miss, this is a big issue. And but my guest is they've got something they want to explore further and they're going to continue this process.
KEILAR: You see what some Republicans are saying, Ron DeSantis among them, and others, they're using words like regime, they're talking about persecution. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader is basically threatening revenge for doj if Republicans take over the house.
You know, you're one of these officials who knows what happens with rhetoric like that. You saw that in Georgia.
What's your reaction to seeing that?
DUNCAN: Well, I don't think it is helpful. At the end of the day, I can't imagine Donald Trump or anybody around his team doesn't like the attention they're getting. I mean, he almost felt like a falling knife in the past few months with all the January 6th committee stuff, all the hard information we heard about his actions and inactions in between the election and January 6th, but certainly he's now back on the front page of the newspaper, feels like he's being raised up to cult status again and there is people that are disappointed in this and probably one of those is Ron DeSantis.
You know, his stock was rising and now it appears to be falling. But certainly this is -- this has changed the calculus going into 2024, and also the midterms. I'm one of those Republicans that wishes we were sitting there talking about how bad Joe Biden's doing, how bad inflation is, how worrisome our national events are that are playing out across our country, but instead we're talking about Donald Trump, again.
KEILAR: No doubt Trump is capitalizing on this. But do you worry the effects of that are long-term? Do you think they're short-term? Do you have concerns overall it could change the outcome of the field?
DUNCAN: Yeah, it certainly could. I'm one of -- as I mentioned a minute ago, one of those Republicans that wants to be part of the solution to take this country back in a positive direction and not just, you know, look, Joe Biden's going to be 78 -- Donald Trump is going to be 78, Joe Biden will be well into his 80s in the 2024 cycle.
We wouldn't pick either one of those to run either company in America. We'd like them walking to their retirement and enjoy their savings and move on. But instead, we're picking between one of those two right now to be the next president. That's ridiculous. We deserve better as Americans.
KEILAR: Will you run for president?
DUNCAN: I'm perfectly comfortable finishing my term as lieutenant governor here in the great state of Georgia and I'm going to work hard to try to reform our party with a GOP 2.0 style.
I was reminded the last two weeks -- you know, we had some really good momentum and it felt like we were in the midst of a sprint trying to reform this Republican Party. But I was reminded the last two weeks this is going to be a marathon to get this party back into shape and get back into a direction that a majority of Americans believe are authentic leadership style.
And that's that this is about. There is a vacuum of leadership of epic proportion in every square inch of this country. I think Republicans need to seize on that, pick somebody that can actually run this country in a positive direction.
KEILAR: One can be comfortable finishing out their term, and still run for president.
DUNCAN: Well, I'm certainly focused on finishing out. We got a lot to work on here in Georgia. We got a lot to put on display for rest of the country. Brian Kemp has done an amazing job leading the state through a
pandemic, leading us into an economic successful period of time, and he's going to fight for the governor's mansion. I'm here to help him try to win that election and my hope is to have a conversation with America over the coming years to try to reform this party and try to get disgruntled not just Republicans, but folks in the middle that want a better direction forward.
We often talk about this pet project, policy, empathy and tone. If we just simply talked with a better tone as Republicans, I think we could win majorities in all kinds of races across this country and not just split hairs to win elections by a handful of votes.
KEILAR: So, I also want to ask you separately, Rudy Giuliani has been ordered by a judge in Atlanta to testify and do that in person before a Georgia grand jury that is investigating whether Trump and his allies violated the law in their effort to flip the 2020 election results in Georgia.
What are you expecting to come of this and what are your concerns?
DUNCAN: Well, certainly, I'm going to be careful of my comments. I have been interviewed by the grand jury and so I'll be careful with my comments.
I've been very vocal from this going back to even before the meetings that Rudy Giuliani held in our state capital. When I first heard the idea, I thought it was a terrible idea, just gave credence and credibility to all the conspiracy theories and fanned the flames and that's exactly what happened.
He came in and spent six plus hours spewing all kinds of lies and misinformation and stoked the fires of these conspiracy theories and it did exactly what he wanted to do, and that was to creates chaos amongst the party and, unfortunately, what it ended up costing us was two U.S. Senate seats here in the state.
KEILAR: Lieutenant Governor Duncan, we really appreciate your time this morning. Thanks for being with us.
DUNCAN: Absolutely. Thank you.
KEILAR: Homes, roads and subway stations surrounding to rivers in Seoul, South Korea. Just take a look at these pictures here. Forecasters are warning of even more rain to come.
KEILAR: So anytime this morning, it is going to happen very shortly. The former president expected to be deposed at the New York attorney general's office. CNN has special live coverage.
BERMAN: All right, very shortly, former President Trump will be deposed in New York City. You're looking at live pictures radio right now, I believe outside --