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New Day

Wall Street Journal Says, Informant Tipped Off Feds About More Documents at Mar-a-Lago; Trump Pleads Fifth Amendment 440-Plus Times in Finances Investigation; Clarissa Ward Returns to Afghanistan One Year After Kabul's Fall. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 11, 2022 - 07:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): The end result, an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the Senate, 86-11 after sailing through the House. Anger, sadness and loss channeled into change by veterans and their family members, like Heath Robinson's mother-in- law, Susan Zeier.

SUSAN ZEIER, MOTHER-IN-LAW OF SFC HEATH ROBINSON: So, today, for me, this means I fulfilled my promise to him, his dying wish, and he can now rest in peace.


KEILAR (on camera): Yes. More veterans actually may die of burn pit exposure than die of combat -- than died of combat in the Iraq and Afghanistan war. And that is why this is such a huge undertaking. You really got that sense talking to Secretary McDonough just how hefty this is, this task that is ahead of him but he says the V.A. is ready to do it.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, I'm glad you shined a light on the work that has been done here. It's wonderful that it's happened, it's frustrating it took so long.

KEILAR: It certainly is.

New Day continues right now.

Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, it's Thursday, August 11th. I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.

And there are some new revelations about the FBI's unprecedented search of Mar-a-Lago. The Wall Street Journal reports sometime after Trump first turned over 15 boxes of material to the National Archives last winter, quote, someone familiar with the stored papers told investigators there may be still more classified documents at the private club.

Sources tell CNN the FBI tried to avoid a spectacle in Mar-a-Lago, agents arriving in the late morning, they were not wearing FBI logo jackets that you commonly have seen at searches. BERMAN: Remember, Trump could release the search warrant on his residence at any time. He could make clear what laws the FBI thinks he might have violated. He could also produce the receipt for what they took from his home. Why wasn't he? That remains major question this morning.

Also, there are new rumblings within the Justice Department over their silence, while others attack and condemn their search of Mar-a-Lago, which was approved by a magistrate. The violent rhetoric has also intensified. The Florida judge, the magistrate believed to have signed off on the search warrant, facing death threats. A contact information for the judge had to be removed from the court's website.

Let's get more from now CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: John and Brianna, someone came forward in recent weeks to tell the FBI that there were likely more classified documents being stored at former President Donald Trump's Palm Beach club, according to The Wall Street Journal. The journal says that that's what prompted the search this week of Mar-a-Lago.

CNN hasn't confirmed the Journal's report, but we previously reported that there were months of discussions between the Trump lawyers and Justice Department prosecutors, and that in June, Justice and FBI officials paid a visit to Mar-a-Lago to discuss possible classified documents that were still being stored there despite the government's view that they belong at the National Archives.

Meanwhile, inside the Justice Department, there is frustration that the department has so far said nothing about the search while Trump and his allies have portrayed it as a siege and suggested without providing any proof that the FBI may have planted evidence. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said that the department doesn't comment on ongoing investigations in part to protect the rights of people under investigation and who haven't been charged. And it's also part of a strategy to not tip off possible targets.

It's not uncommon, however, for the FBI to issue statements acknowledging a search when it's already public. In this case, so far, Trump is the only one talking about the FBI search. John and Brianna?

BRIANNA: And joining us now, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, he also served as counsel to President George W. Bush, he is now the dean of Belmont University College of Law. Sir, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

As you're watching this, what do you think about how DOJ is handling this as there are a lot of questions coming from Donald Trump's critics about what's happening here?

ALBERT GONZALES, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's just part of the job, Brianna. You know, longstanding protocol about how the department conducts these investigations and out of fairness to multiple parties, out of fairness to the investigation, the integrity of the investigation, the department typically does not comment on the details of the investigation certainly.


With respect to confirmation of the raid, I don't know why there needs to be a confirmation there. Everyone knows that the search did occur. There are some things, you know -- these stories that perhaps officials within the department are feeling uncomfortable and believe that the department should say something, I really would be interested in what level these officials are.

I don't know whether or not this is a senior leadership, but Merrick Garland is receiving a lot of advice I'm sure from within the building. I suspect members of President Biden's party on the Hill are probably having communications and probably encouraging Merrick Garland to do something, perhaps to say something, but, you know, the attorney general comes from a culture as a former judge where you just don't talk about something that's ongoing. And so we will have to wait and see what he decides to do.

But, again, it's about protecting the integrity of the investigation while also protecting the reputation and integrity of the Department of Justice and the way it conducts its investigations.

KEILAR: Does he have any options? I mean, is there any wiggle room, some creative idea about what he would do?

GONZALES: Well, I wouldn't call it creative. One thing he may want to do is go up to Capitol Hill, have a private conversation with certain congressional leaders, reassure them that the search was absolutely necessary, reassure them that it was done by the book. And, you know, obviously it's not -- it's not going to be enough for critics, but at least they can say, I had a private conversation with the attorney general, I told him -- I shared with him my concerns and the concerns of the American people.

But I think that would be something that he could do. Obviously, it would have to be strategic in the people that he spoke to and the information that he imparted because, as we know, sometimes conversation with members of Congress don't remain confidential. And so -- but that is something that he could do.

I remember on one high profile search when I was the attorney general that drew the ire of the speaker of the House. That's what I tried to do, was have a private conversation with the speaker to have him understand why this was necessary.

BERMAN: Look, I will only say that this environment does seem different, unclear whether Merrick Garland having a conversation with some of these critics who may or may not be completely ingenious with their criticism, I'm not sure that would necessarily help change the rhetoric.

I do want to say, or ask you, there is one person who, if he wanted the public to get more information, could do this instantly, and that's Donald Trump. GONZALES: There's no question about it. He could release the warrant, he could release the receipt or the return, which documents, the items that were -- that were seized in the search. Obviously, politically, it doesn't appear to be that would be to his benefit. In addition, if, in fact, we're talking about classified information, it might disclose the fact that there was classified information that, in fact, was searched and confiscated at the Florida estate.

So, it appears that it's not in his best interest, but you're absolutely right, confidentiality is intended to protect the subject of the search. Obviously, the subject of the search can decide that they want to waive that and disclose what, in fact, was collected by the -- by the FBI.

BERMAN: If you take a step back, yesterday was a pretty remarkable day. You have the former president continuing not to release this warrant or release the receipt of what was taken from his home, which is his right, absolutely, as it is his right to invoke the Fifth Amendment many times, hundreds and hundreds of times in this deposition during a civil lawsuit. I'm not saying it's not within his rights, it's just a notable thing when you have a former president who is choosing not to reveal information on such a wide front there. What do you make of what happened yesterday?

GONZALES: Well, I guess one could draw two conclusions. One is that you've got an individual who routinely flouts the law, certainly at least tries to skirt the law, or, two, you've got a widespread, focused conspiracy or vendetta by out of control government investigators and prosecutors. So, I would leave it to your viewers to draw their own conclusion about which is more likely to be the case.

BERMAN: Want to answer that?

KEILAR: You are a viewer.

GONZALES: I am a viewer and I enjoy watching this -- watching this show. To me, you know, as someone who worked, you know, side-by-side with the president, it's just remarkable that we would find ourselves in a situation where someone who served in that office is subject to so much scrutiny and subject to so many investigations, you know, I think -- I think -- I mean, that personally tells me something, but, again, I leave it to your viewers to draw their own conclusions.


KEILAR: Alberto Gonzales, sir, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

GONZALES: You bet.

BERMAN: So, we did mention Evan Perez's reporting of concern within the Justice Department about this information vacuum that has allowed Trump and his allies to fill it with this possible outlandish information, and there is one example of it, again, with no basis in fact, none, Trump has concocted this notion that maybe the FBI planted evidence during its search of Mar-a-Lago. In a post on Truth Social, Trump wrote, quote, they wanted to be left alone without any witnesses to see what they were doing, taking or hopefully not planting, that in quotation marks. So, this baseless conspiratorial idea was first floated by Trump lawyer Christina Bobb. But in just 24 hours, it evolved and it spread in the right-wing ecosphere. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are allegations that something may have been planted to use against the former president in the J-6 committee hearings, things of that nature. You didn't see anything like that happen?

CHRISTINA BOBB, TRUMP ATTORNEY: At this point, I don't necessarily think that they would go to the extent of trying to plant information. I think they just make stuff up and, you know, come up with whatever they want. And that's the way that they will have to proceed in order to actually try to indict the president because they don't have anything.

JESSE WALTERS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What the FBI is probably doing is planting evidence, which is what they did during the Russia hoax. We also have a hunch they doctored evidence to get the warrant.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): For example, do I know that the boxes of material they took from Mar-a-Lago, that they won't put things in those boxes to entrap him?

How do we know that they are going to be honest with us about what's actually in the boxes? How do we know that was in the box before it left the residence if the lawyers weren't allowed to see everything?


BERMAN: All right. Let's not talk about fantasies, let's talk about the facts of what we know about this search so far.

I want to bring in former FBI special agent and distinguished lecturer John Jay College of Criminal Justice, David Shapiro, and former FBI Executive Assistant Director for Intelligence and President of Bo Wave Joshua Skule. Gentlemen, thank you both so much for being with us this morning.

And, again, I want to focus on what is actually real and what we know and what we've seen. And one of the things we've seen in this case in our reporting has shown is the FBI was actually really careful and, in some ways, much more restricted in the way they went about this search, showing up at 10:00, not wearing the jackets. Explain that.

JOSHUA SKULE, FORMER FBI EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR INTELLIGENCE: Good morning, thank you for having me on. Many investigations you're not going to want to showcase or draw attention to yourself. Certainly, this was under the highest levels of scrutiny and attention by both the FBI seventh floor, the director of the FBI, the attorney general knowing this was going, and they, of course, wanted to have a low profile.

They had to coordinate with the Secret Service, whose duty it is to secure the residence. They have very difficult rules. There was, I'm assume, no guns for the agents going in. But myself, I've done searches where I'm in a suit and no raid jacket and trying to draw less attention to the activity that's going on.

KEILAR: What do you think, David, as you -- as you have seen the parameters of how this search was carried out?

DAVID SHAPIRO, DISTINGUISHED LECTURER, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, the search seems to be by the book and let me add that the concerns mentioned by many of the persons shown in your video prior would apply to anybody charged with any criminal offense in the United States.

Frankly, one does not have complete knowledge that the law enforcement agency or officials didn't commit any wrongdoing. We just have to trust certain aspects of our system. We have to trust in due process. Mr. Trump has at his disposal way more resources than most any other defendant or accused in the United States. So, what I see here is a strategy to sow doubt and uncertainty and to exploit that with the FBI bad, I'm good, you know, very simplistic, very informational but lacking in evidence.

BERMAN: You guys are smart, though. I mean, FBI agents are smart. You know that this is going to happen when you go in for this type of search to execute a warrant like this. So, how does that factor in? How much does that weigh over you in the process?

SHAPIRO: Well, the idea that something would be planted is --

BERMAN: Not the planted stuff but the idea that it's going to be politicized like this, that someone is going to create these notions, these fanciful notions when you are out doing your job.

SHAPIRO: Well, it forces one to play by the rules because one knows that he or she would be under strict scrutiny by an adversary, highly motivated and well financed to pick apart anything you say or do.


So, in many respects, this was probably law enforcement activity of a higher caliber, of more concern and more integrity than you will normally find. And not to impugn upon the normal conduct of law enforcement officers, but everyone participating in this search warrant knew that his or her actions would be scrutinized after the fact.

And let me add that fabricating evidence is not as easy as it seems because evidence can be tested, especially evidence of this nature would be largely writings where one could look into the authenticity of the writing, whether it's corroborated by the persons, identified in the writing. So, I'm not sure how seriously to take those concerns of Mr. Trump.

KEILAR: Joshua -- sorry, go on.

SKULE: And I would say the other thing that has come clear, it's standard protocol for law enforcement to control the scene, so not having people -- the lawyers or others in the crime -- in the scene while they're searching except to show folks where items they're looking for might be located or specific locations that are mention in the warrant.

KEILAR: It's also standard operating procedure to not reveal much after this because it's an ongoing -- you know, it's an ongoing investigation, right?

SKULE: That is true. It is very true that many, many investigations no one talks about. The difference here is whether there is a compelling public interest in what decisions the attorney general has to make to weigh that against protecting the integrity of a criminal -- or an investigation that's going on right now. That's what he has to weigh in.

To the point of the former attorney general, you know, talking to members on the Hill, one-on-one meetings or sometimes what I dealt with the gang of eight and revealing matters that only a select few may know may ease the tension but I doubt -- I doubt that. There is a compelling public interest right now.

BERMAN: Gentlemen, thank you both for helping us understand this. Your inside view is really, really helpful.

SHAPIRO: You're welcome.

SKULE: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, a big milestone this morning, gas prices they dropped below $4 a gallon. How much further could they go down?

KEILAR: And it has been one year since the chaotic and deadly U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan and CNN's Clarissa Ward, of course, was there for it all. She will join us live from Kabul, next.



KEILAR: It has been one year since the chaotic and deadly U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and our Clarissa Ward was on the ground providing her award-winning reporting for New Day at that point.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What a difference 24 hours made. This is day one now of reporting in what's called the Islamic emirate now. You can see a lot has changed. Certainly, the dress code for me has changed. We're standing here with Taliban fighters just behind us and they're keen to show the world that they are able to maintain law and order on the ground.


KEILAR: Joining us now back in Kabul is CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward. Clarissa, it is good to see you in Kabul. Tell us what things are like almost a year later.

WARD: Well, Brianna, it's really good to be back here. I think you can probably see behind me we are at a market. There is a sense of normalcy on the streets of the city. There is not the same sort of -- or anything approaching the levels of chaos and violence that we saw playing out during those heart-wrenching scenes last year.

But the change has also brought about a real decrease in the standard of living here and a lot of people are now fighting to put food on the table. The U.N. says that nearly half the country is in a state of acute hunger. The International Rescue Committee says, by the second half of this year, they believe -- well, we are now in that second half of this year -- more than 90 percent of people will be living below the poverty line, and that's for a whole plethora of reasons, partly because of sanctions and the freezing of Afghanistan's Federal Reserve after the Taliban took power, partly because of the food prices, partly because of inflation.

But what you see when you go around -- and I just want to show you a little bit seeing as we're here in this market -- you can see there is food. There is food that you can buy. The market stalls are full. But the conversations that we've been having with vendors make it clear that, for the vast majority of people, it's become unaffordable, this food. So, flour I was told by these vendors, has doubled in price. Cooking oil, which is obviously one of the biggest necessities, has more than doubled in price. And that's not even before, Brianna, you start talking about the very real changes and the impact that they have had as the Taliban has gradually become firmer in implementing its vision or version of Sharia law, Brianna.

BERMAN: Clarissa, I'm just struck by how different it looks from one year ago. How different, frankly, you look from one year ago, dressed a little bit differently than the day after the Taliban regained power. The streets are bustling with men and women behind you, and I absolutely understand the economic challenges they're facing. Also I don't see any huge armed presence around you, like there almost certainly was one year ago. Talk to us more about all of that.

WARD: Yes. So, the Taliban is really trying to have a lighter footprint, at least visibly on the streets. You do still see them. They don't want to be filmed anymore. It's not like the initial days where there was this sense of jubilation and victory. Now, you have to get a lot of permission. It's an onerous task to go through the process to be able to report here. And there has been certainly a sort of strangling of the local media.


You do see women, as you can see, on the streets. You also see that I am dressed in a less conservative fashion than I was before.

I want to stress the Taliban has passed a ruling that women are supposed to wear not just a full hijab, a full head covering, but actually (INAUDIBLE), which completely covers the face. Many women here wear the burqa.

What's interesting to see though is a lot of women in Kabul are like, thanks but no thanks, essentially. They're refusing to wear it. They're continuing to dress how they used to dress. And it seems that, for the moment, the Taliban doesn't really have a vested interest in trying to crack down on that and in trying to resurrect the most notorious vice and virtue police, as they became known.

And so there is that sense that perhaps there's a slightly lighter touch than there had been certainly in the 1990s. But I want to stress, John and Brianna, that beneath the surface, we do not see any real meaningful changes in the Taliban's ideology or in its ideas of how best to govern.

So, when we talk about seeing women on the streets, where we're not seeing women anymore, is in their places of previous employment. Women are still allowed to work in the health care sector, it's a necessity, and in some humanitarian roles as well as teachers, education. But women who were working in business, women who were working as ministers and in ministries have also been told in addition to all girls above the age of 12 that instead of going to school and instead of going to work, they must now stay home.

The Taliban says that this is just until the right or correct Islamic environment can be created. But this is now many, many months that we have been hearing this and they have been pressed over and over again not just by western journalists but by Islamic scholars from all over the world and by Muslim countries as to what the holdup is and what needs to be done. What are these specific conditions that need to be reached in order for girls to return to school, in order for women to be embraced in the workplace again and again?

And what we're hearing from the Taliban is kind of obfuscation on this point. They don't want to be drawn into the details as to the conditions themselves, which makes many people here very nervous that there is no real plan, in fact, to try to reintegrate women into this society. John, Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes, and what does that mean for the future of girls there. There's actually a little girl, Clarissa, who has been darting in and out at times through the back of your live shot there who we can see who looks probably, I would say -- she was there before, but she's probably around 10 or south of 10. How in the last year has her future changed, and if you could speak to that for Kabul, but also in rural areas as well?

WARD: So, this is a really important point that you bring up, Brianna, because what you see and feel in Kabul is not the same as what you're seeing and feeling in rural areas, where women's education was never a priority, where girls were often married off at a very young age and where the society is, generally speaking, much more conservative and much more supportive of the Taliban.

And so what you hear in rural areas is that people are just delighted that the Americans left, that the war has essentially calmed down, that there has been a return to relative peace and quiet and they're not focused on these sort of more interesting or more compelling to certainly an international audience, social issues, such as women's rights.

But for that ten-year-old girl who you mentioned, her future looks grim, let's be very clear about this. There is no immediate plan for her to be able to go to school after sixth grade. We hear anecdotally stories of girls deliberately trying to fail their fifth grade classes so that they can be allowed to repeat the year. We know of many cases of girls and women who are coming together to set up underground schools where girls can go and learn in a sort of clandestine environment.

But I think that the heartbreak for so many here is that for the 20 years that the U.S. and its allies had a presence in Afghanistan, while that certainly was a very polarized presence and would be categorized as an occupation by many, there was still a chance for women and girls that you could dare to dream, that you could participate in society. Those dreams really have been all but snuffed out now.

The IRC, the International Rescue Committee, which I mentioned before, has said that 70 percent of women civil society organizations have been forced to shut down and countless women and girls who were involved in activism, who were trying to speak out on behalf of girls, have either been forced to leave the country or forced to abandon that type of activity.