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CNN TONIGHT: Washington Post: Classified Documents Related To Nuclear Weapons Were Among Items FBI Sought At Trump's Home; A.G. Garland: DOJ Seeking To Unseal Search Warrant Of Trump's Home; Officials: Armed Man Who Tried To Breach FBI's Cincinnati Office Dead After Standoff. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 11, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: But a law enforcement source, told CNN that a photo on the account matched a government ID photo of the suspect.
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The news continues, right now. Let's hand it over to Sara Sidner and CNN TONIGHT.
SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: It's a great podcast. I do listen. Thank you, Anderson.
I am Sara Sidner. And this is CNN TONIGHT.
And we begin with breaking news, this Thursday, an astonishing new report, this evening, by "The Washington Post."
The newspaper, citing people familiar with the search of the President's Mar-a-Lago home report that classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought, when they went to Donald Trump's property, on Monday.
"The Post" says experts in classified information say the unusual search underscores the deep concern, among government officials, about the types of information, they thought could be located there.
"Post" sources did not offer additional details about what type of information, the agents were seeking, such as whether it involved weapons, belonging to the United States, or some other nation, nor did they say if any documents were recovered, as part of their search.
CNN is reaching out to Donald Trump, and his representatives, for comment.
But this adds a whole new level to a day that was already extraordinary, as the Attorney General of the United States, announced the DOJ has asked a judge to unseal the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, and property receipt, both of which Donald Trump did receive.
I want to bring in CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem. She served at the Department of Homeland Security, under President Obama.
Welcome to the show, Juliette.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Thanks for having me.
SIDNER: Juliette, let's start with this. There are so many questions, right now. And this is a bombshell, if the "Post" reporting is correct--
SIDNER: --that this had something to do, with documents, relating to nuclear weapons. But if it's not something, like codes, which I assume would be expired by now, what could they possibly be going after?
SIDNER: What could he have in his possession that's this sensitive?
KAYYEM: Yes. So, it's a great question.
The "Post" reporters are some of the best national security reporters, out there, and they have strong sourcing. So, we should assume and have confidence that some of the materials, some, we don't know what percentage, were trying to be obtained by the FBI. So, just putting that - so that we know.
The other thing we know is that the division, responsible at DOJ, for the search, essentially, the legal division, is a division, within the National Security Division, at DOJ. It's called the Counterintelligence and Export Control division. Why that sounds wonky, and not relevant? It actually is quite relevant.
Export Control is about the possession of materials, related to national security. Whether you're going to sell them, whether you're keeping them, whether you were going to toss them out the window does not matter. It has to do with a possession of, of national security papers, or whatever else would be.
So, we know those two facts. And so, there's lots of speculation now. So, I could put that in perspective. The other is the range of possibilities, at this stage. So, I don't want people to get all breathless, right now, because we don't know what's in it.
Here's the range of possibilities that Donald Trump was in possession of information related to an enemy, and either didn't - and I'm not going to get into the "Why did Donald Trump retain them?" Because we don't know yet, and he's got really, sort of--
SIDNER: Only he knows that.
KAYYEM: He's just - he's a careless - he's a careless person. He never took his job seriously. And so, so he's protected (ph).
So, if that - if you're that enemy, and you are worried that Donald Trump has those materials, you're worried what's he going to do with it? So that could incite a national security problem that is on - that the Biden administration has to deal with.
The second possibility is that it's a nuclear information, not coding, just information about the weapons, about where they're stored, about other capabilities of an ally. That too, is a problem, because the Allies will be untrustworthy of what they share with us. And once again, it's a problem for the Biden administration, if this is true.
The third and potentially the worst-case scenario is that it's information about the United States arsenal and, once again, just showing Trump's dereliction of duty, his inability, to protect us, from enemies, foreign and domestic.
If it is our information, where, where they're stored, their capabilities, what's working, what's not, right? He's, as president, he would certainly know if there were challenges within our nuclear arsenal. And whether he wanted to retain them, because he just likes it, or was going to do something with it, we don't know.
So, in my expert opinion, that's the range of possibilities. So, people can understand that we're still not there, yet. But none of it is good. I'll say that.
SIDNER: That range is also terrifying--
SIDNER: --to some degree.
SIDNER: Just listening to you, discuss what this could be.
And again, we need to make clear. We don't know exactly what it is. And we don't know whether or not the FBI was able to obtain those records. But we are hearing this reporting. And, as you said, "The Washington Post" has a lot of inside information, from their sources.
SIDNER: And haven't been wrong much.
So, Juliette, please stick around.
SIDNER: Let us, right now, bring in former Assistant Attorney General, Tom Dupree, and former FBI Counterespionage Chief, Peter Strzok.
Gentlemen, thank you so much, for joining us. Peter, I want to go to you, right now. The question I have is if this was a regular person, and I put that lightly, I guess, but not a former President, someone not in a high position, in our society? How would they be treated, if they took something that was a sensitive enough, for the FBI, to go in, and take it from their home?
PETER STRZOK, FORMER FBI CHIEF OF COUNTERESPIONAGE SECTION, AUTHOR, "COMPROMISED": Well, that's a great question.
Because, you know, there are a number of former high-ranking officials where, I was present, on search warrants that were executed, recover classified information, and they did not have the benefit of a negotiation, with the Department of Justice, in receiving a subpoena to return the material.
And look, Attorney General Garland made it very clear, I think, during his speech, that they did approach this case, differently, simply because it was the president. And I think that's appropriate. We have never had a president, subject to a search warrant before, in our nation's history.
And whatever the practice, in the past, of the Department of Justice, when it comes to things, like recovering classified information? I think Attorney General Garland laid out a very clear case that they took a measured approach that they attempted to use the least intrusive means.
And what it sounds like, reading between the lines? Only after they were unable to gain, or recover the information that they thought was there, perhaps they had an additional tip that there was more information that had not been turned over, only after they had tried those lesser steps, did they go to the very significant step, of getting a search warrant, on the former President.
Now, given this "Washington Post" article, it should put to bed, any amount of concern, from anybody, across the partisan political spectrum, about whether or not this is a serious matter.
As Juliette said, the national - the nuclear secrets, whether of our nation, or of others, are among the most guarded, and most classified of any secrets, in the government. So, it was entirely appropriate, if this is in the material that was recovered, it's entirely appropriate, in my opinion that they ultimately had to go to a search warrant, to recover that information.
SIDNER: Tom Dupree, I have to ask you. You just heard from Peter Strzok, he talking about that there was potentially a tip. And there's some reporting that somebody tipped off the FBI, or the DOJ that there were more documents, and sensitive documents that had been left, and not handed over by Trump, or his attorneys.
If that is the case, then how guarded was this really sensitive information, if someone knew what they had, that wasn't the president?
TOM DUPREE, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Right, it doesn't exactly appear that it was Fort Knox over there. And the last thing, in the world, anyone would want, is just random individuals, pawing through sensitive nuclear information.
Look, I think the "Post" reporting dispels part of the mystery that's been swirling around these whole series of events, since Monday. It explains why the Justice Department felt such a sense of urgency.
I think there were fair questions raised, about why on earth would you execute a search warrant, against a former President, and his own home et cetera, et cetera. This helps explain it.
This nuclear information, if in fact, that's what they were going for, that explains why they couldn't go the ordinary traditional route of negotiation, why they couldn't afford to wait for another subpoena, and why they had to make the extraordinary decision, to send law enforcement, into the president's house, to seize this material and this information.
SIDNER: Juliette, can you give us a sense of what this is going to be like?
And Peter, I'll also ask you this.
SIDNER: For those that went in, for those that went - jumped through all the hoops? They did go to a judge. But even before then, we heard from former President Trump and some of those surrounding him that like "We have a great relationship. We had a great relationship. I don't know why they did this."
What does this tell us about why they did this? I mean--
SIDNER: --it sounds like there was some lying going on.
KAYYEM: Oh, yes, absolutely. So, and it's - one of this is like, we just don't know if this was a carelessness.
I tend to think this was more intentional, at this stage, only because Donald Trump did give up some materials. He did give up some records. We know that. We know that other boxes were confiscated.
So, why were these materials of which, once again, we don't know what percentage of the materials involved in - involve these nuclear secrets.
And we don't know if there's one country that he's particularly interested in. We know he has a strange relationship, with North Korea. The North Korean nuclear issue is a big one, obviously, for our national security. So, we simply don't know, at this stage.
But he clearly was willing to give up some pool of materials and not these. So, from an investigatory perspective, even a counterespionage one, if I were a spy, is OK, why are you willing to give up this set, and not? And that's where the motivation is going to go.
I just want to say one thing also. For three days, we had to hear a political apparatus, and I'm only saying this because it's related to the story of the day, defend Donald Trump, and challenge the FBI, that likely resulted in some violence, today. And so, everyone needs to take a deep breath.
Because if you are supporting Donald Trump, or throwing the FBI under the bus? Trust me, this isn't getting better. This story is not getting better for Donald Trump. It is only getting worse. We don't know what it looks like.
But if this story, as I believe, because of the reporters, has any foundation, there's going to be no justification, whether it was the nuclear materials, of an enemy, or, as I said, worst-case scenario, of us.
SIDNER: Juliette, we're going to get to some of that, and some of the - what we've been hearing, over the past 72 hours. There's a really disturbing, really, attacks, on the FBI.
Peter, I do want to ask you about the rank-and-file here, and those attacks, and what you think that has done, after they have gone in, on this extremely sensitive mission that they had to have known, was going to have blowback, at some point.
Do you think they were expecting this? And were you happy with what A.G. Garland said, about those attacks, against the rank-and-file?
STRZOK: I think, the FBI, along with the Department of Justice, and the rest of the Executive branch, went through four years of the Trump administration. So, they're clearly familiar with the attacks that he began, when he was running for president, talking about the corrupt FBI investigation to Hillary Clinton. And that criticism remained unabated, firing official after official after official.
So, I certainly think, while agents and investigators were prepared for it, it's never welcomed. I mean, people go in, and they put their head down, and they look at the job, in front of them, and they try and protect and defend the American people, and the Constitution, every day.
But that noises in the background, and the thing that's changed now? I mean, we had a gunman attack, the FBI office, in Cincinnati, after the execution of this search warrant, when you had senators, talking about the FBI, maybe planting evidence, when you had all these pro-Trump supporters, saying things, essentially like "This is war. This is the beginning of a civil war," encouraging in that violence.
STRZOK: So, it's not just the vocal rhetoric. We now have people physically attacking FBI offices, I think, is a direct result, you can draw a line to that immediate response, from Trump, and his supporters, immediately following that search. So, we absolutely have to dial down the rhetoric. I think, as an FBI employee, as you're investigating--
STRZOK: --it's one thing, if you're being targeted, and harassed, on right-wing media, or by the President, or former President.
It's another thing, entirely, if you're having to look over your shoulder, and look for odd vehicles, as you're driving into work, every day. And that's something we absolutely, I think, is different now, and it marks a very troubling, emergent trend.
SIDNER: Peter, we are going to get to all of that, in just a bit, what you were just talking about.
Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much for your expertise.
KAYYEM: Thank you.
SIDNER: Tom and Peter, please stick around.
Our coverage of this stunning new reporting, on the search, at Mar-a- Lago, including a reported search, for nuclear weapons documents, continues, in just a bit, when I will talk to former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.
SIDNER: We're following the breaking news, and new details that the FBI was searching, for classified documents, related to nuclear weapons, at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. This report comes from sources, who spoke with "The Washington Post." They did not say whether these potential documents were recovered.
Obviously, this news possesses major questions, about national security. And so, I want to bring in National Security expert, former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.
James Clapper, thank you so much for being here.
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, thanks for having me, Sara.
SIDNER: In hearing this latest news, I think, there were a lot of jaws that dropped, certainly in my sphere. What is your biggest concern, after hearing this reporting from the "Post" that this may have been about trying to take back documents that have to do with nuclear weapons that were inside the former President's residence?
CLAPPER: Well, Sara, when this story first broke, about the search, in Mar-a-Lago, and I was asked, what would be the range of classified information that's conceivably stored there? And I speculated that nuclear - nuclear weapons-related information, would kind of top the range, the holiest of holy. But I doubted it, because I thought - I thought, even Donald Trump would protect those kind of secrets. Well, apparently that's not the case.
Now, having said that? We don't know, as Juliette said, in your last segment, exactly what we're talking about here, whether this is foreign - information on foreign nuclear weapons, or the worst case, as Juliette said, our own systems.
And potentially, this is quite dangerous. If, for example, there are deficiencies, maintenance issues, logistics issues, training issues, both with our Minuteman Ground Based intercontinental ballistic missile force, or with a submarine-launched missile force, and that's very, very dangerous to national security, just to have that, that kind of material just kind of laying around.
Now, the mind runs wild here. For me, what on earth was the motivation, for purloining, this kind of data, from the White House, into a completely unsecured area, like Mar-a-Lago? And that again, the imagination can run wild here, as to what the motivation might have been.
SIDNER: We did hear, in the last couple of days, and on this show, from a couple of White House spokespeople, who came out and said, "Look, we were there, and saw carelessness, when it came to Donald Trump, dealing with some of the documents." They weren't sure if they were confidential, and highly classified documents. But there was a sort of a carelessness by which he dealt with these.
Whether it is carelessness, whether it is trying to hold on to something, as a souvenir, if you will, or whether it is more nefarious, does it matter if it was found inside of his home as to why he had it? Does that matter, legally?
CLAPPER: It really doesn't. Whatever the motivation was, you'll find yourself almost hoping this was carelessness, and that there wasn't some more nefarious motivation, here.
Was there, for example, and I'm really going out on a limb, some prospect for some kind of sweetheart deal with Putin? And, again, the mind races as to what the motivation is.
But your point is well-taken. It really doesn't matter. The fact is that sensitive classified information is outside authorized areas, and being stored, apparently fairly loosely, at Mar-a-Lago, and without a lot of oversight, or insight, into who's in and out of that, of his residence.
SIDNER: Can you give me a sense of when there are documents, like this, and let's just use what the "Post" is reporting that these might be related to nuclear weapons? What does that look like in normal times? How are those things stored, and kept, and safeguarded, in a normal setting? CLAPPER: These are among the most tightly-protected, tightly-guarded and tightly-retained classified information that we have. Our nuclear capability is at the very root of our deterrence posture. This is what protects this country, from other nuclear powers attacking us.
So obviously, any revelations about, our nuclear capability, or our deficiencies, in our nuclear capability, is very, very sensitive, and very dangerous to our national security, highly-protected, even within certainly in the military channels, where it is relied on.
So this is, again, potentially, we don't know - we don't know the specifics. But potentially this is really concerning.
SIDNER: I got to tell you, Mr. Clapper, that I had chills, down my spine, when you mentioned the potential for nefarious activity. And it may not be on Donald Trump's part. There were clearly someone else, reportedly, must have known or seen something, because there was a tipster, according to reporting. This is really serious stuff, to say the very least.
And I thank you, for coming on the show, to give us some insight, into all of this.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Sara.
SIDNER: All right, tonight, we're also watching, for Trump's legal response, to Merrick Garland, who now wants the American public, to see the FBI Mar-a-Lago search warrant, after Trump spent, this week, calling so much attention, to the matter.
The Attorney General's very public message. That is coming up next.
SIDNER: Transparency! That's what Donald Trump and his allies have clamored for. And now, the Attorney General, today, is offering the former President exactly what he asked for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Department filed the motion 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.
First, I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter.
The Department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SIDNER: A judge says the Justice Department has until 3 PM Eastern, tomorrow, to inform the court if Trump's lawyers will support the unsealing or object to it.
Former Assistant Attorney General, Tom Dupree, and former FBI Counterespionage Chief, Peter Strzok, are both back with me.
Thank you, for sticking around, gentlemen.
STRZOK: Thank you.
SIDNER: I am curious, from you, Peter, about what just happened, today. I mean, "The Washington Post's" reporting is a jaw-dropper. But so was this press conference. Have you ever seen something like this, from the A.G., on a case?
STRZOK: Well, I've certainly seen it on - never on a case, about a former President. That's for sure. We are in uncharted territory.
Whether it is the search at Mar-a-Lago? Whether it is the decision that the A.G. should or shouldn't say something? Whether there's an ultimate decision about whether or not to charge the former President, with a crime? None of this has happened before, in our nation's history. So, I have not seen anything like this, because I don't think any of us have seen something like this.
But look, I think, the Attorney General did an extraordinary job, today. He is a man, it is clear, who has entered the job, seeking to return normalcy, to the Department of Justice, seeking to reestablish past norms.
And for him, to say anything, is extraordinary. But to say it in the way that he did, laying out the reasons, why he was doing, and not doing certain things, explaining the presumption of innocence, explaining why he was not going to give some detail, but at the same time, then offering to, and saying that they were moving to unseal the warrant, and some of the attachments to it?
Clearly, I think, transmitted information to the American people that they wanted to hear, and at the same time, put the ball in Trump's court. "The Department wants it. OK, Mr. Former President, you claim you want it out there? It's your move. What are you going to do?"
So, I think, it was just an extraordinary job, and a job well done. And finally, his support, and words of support, to the men and women of the FBI, and the Department of Justice, was absolutely called for, right now and, I think, certainly very welcomed, within the halls of the FBI and DOJ.
SIDNER: Mr. Dupree, do you think that in this case, without saying it explicitly, that Garland called Trump's bluff? Because, it seems like a game is being played here.
We know that Donald Trump's attorneys were given, both the search warrant and the receipt that is left behind, telling you what has been taken out. So, they could release it themselves, but have been saying, "We want more transparency."
DUPREE: Right. And that was always one of the more puzzling aspects, of this whole episode, is that on one hand, the President, and his supporters, were beating the drum, saying "Transparency! Transparency! Transparency! We have to put the spotlight on Prosecutorial overreach."
And yet, at the same time, they themselves were in possession of some of these key documents, the warrant, the itemized receipt of the items that were seized from Mar-a-Lago. And yet they themselves, even though they could put those documents, out in the public, elected not to.
I think what the Attorney General did today was a bit of a jujitsu move. He was very careful in saying "The President himself has called attention, to the search. And that's why I feel comfortable speaking about."
What happened today? I agree with Peter, absolutely extraordinary. I mean it's virtually carved into the hall of the Justice Department's facade, that "Thou shalt not discuss ongoing investigations." And so, for the Attorney General, to, get up and, address the nuances, of a search warrant? Absolutely extraordinary. I think it was the right move. I wish he had done it sooner.
And again, like Peter, I very much appreciated that he stuck up, and put in a good word, for the men and women, of the FBI, who, I think, in many cases, their integrity here has been very unfairly baselessly attacked.
SIDNER: Peter, why do you think A.G. Garland took this extraordinary move? Is it because he knows what is in that search warrant, and he knows how serious it is? Or is it for some other reason?
STRZOK: Well, I think there's a - primarily, he's guided by whether or not there's a compelling public interest. And he mentioned that standard.
And there is, within Department guidelines, this idea that when there are extraordinary cases of public interest that dictates a certain way, to think about whether or not you should speak to something.
So, I think, he was certainly aware that given the significance of this event? Again, we're also stunned over the past three days, four days, that sometimes to just step back, and say, the FBI searched the residence of a former President, still shocks.
And so, based on that, I think, appropriately, my guess is he decided it was appropriate, to say something, particularly in light of - I mean, there were Senators, there are senators, United States Senators, claiming or suggesting that FBI agents, perhaps, were planting evidence, people who should know better, responsible people, who set the tone of discourse, in the American public discourse. They - these statements are wildly irresponsible. And so, I think, the Attorney General saw an important need to do it, but did so in a way that was very tailored to the guidelines that DOJ has to follow, and again, provided enough information, to say "We would like to make this public. We're doing this because the President's attorneys have already mentioned this." And it, again, I think, was a very delicately navigated course that he did, and did very well.
SIDNER: Tom, I want to ask you about one of the sort of fine-print points, because I looked at the language, as to opening up this search warrant. And in it, it says, in many different places, "If the Trump - if Trump approves, if Trump and his attorney approves," and it said over and over and over again.
So, right now, the only thing stopping this, I'm assuming, from coming out, and from the judge, opening up this search warrant, to the public, is if Donald Trump, and his lawyer, say "Don't do it." Is that correct?
DUPREE: That's my read of the situation.
DUPREE: It seems to me, it would be somewhat extraordinary, if both the Justice Department, and the Trump lawyers, all said, "Unseal this document," and for some reason, the judge declined to do it.
I know this judge. I've argued in front of this judge. I think he's a thoughtful guy. I think he will take this job, very seriously. And look, if all parties are saying "Transparency is important. Let's put this on the public record," it's beyond me what interest the judge could identify that would require keeping it under seal.
So, again, it'll be very interesting to see what the Trump team does. Because, I think they've positioned it that if they were somehow, to assert secrecy, and say, "It must remain under seal?" Number one, I think it'll contradict a lot of what they've been saying, the last few days. And number two, the judges might disregard it anyways, and release the information, regardless.
SIDNER: And we have about 15 hours, 16 hours, 17 hours, until 3 - I think, 3 PM Eastern, when the judge will make this decision. So, we will see then whether or not this is going to be released. And there are a lot of people who would like to put eyes on that.
Tom Dupree, thank you so much.
Peter, please stay with me.
Coming up, scary moments, for FBI agents, today, and police, in Cincinnati, what we're learning, about the man, who authorities say, tried to breach an FBI office, with an AR-15-style rifle, and a nail gun.
The dramatic end, to a standoff, and potential ties, to the larger tension, in this country, that is coming up next.
SIDNER: Disturbing new details, in the case, of an armed man, who tried to storm an FBI office, in Cincinnati, Ohio, with an AR-15-style rifle, and then engaged in a shootout, with authorities.
Tonight, Sources tell CNN the suspect is identified as 42-year-old Ricky Shiffer. He was killed, in the standoff, just hours ago, after authorities say he raised a gun, at police officers.
Authorities are looking at Shiffer's potential ties, with right-wing extremists.
CNN discovered social media accounts, bearing Shiffer's name, and photo, including one on Donald Trump's Truth Social platform. The user posted about today's attempted FBI ambush.
"Well," it says in quotes, "I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn't"... "If you don't hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it'll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops while." The posting seemed to end mid-sentence.
But that is not all. After the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, the user posted several violent messages, toward the agency, including, quote, "This is your call to arms from me." "Get whatever you need to be ready for combat." "When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty."
And he posted "Kill them," in response to the possibility, of FBI agents, breaking up pro-Trump demonstrations, in Palm Beach home of Mar-a-Lago.
Authorities are also looking into whether Shiffer was at the Capitol, on January 6th.
FBI veteran, Peter Strzok, is back, with us, now.
When you hear these words? And you have also heard the words, "Tyranny," from elected officials, Republican-elected officials, to be clear. You have heard the words, "Dictatorial." You have heard the words, "Defund the FBI."
When you hear these things, coming from elected officials, and now you hear the words, of this person, who tried to, according to police, break in to the FBI with a weapon, what is your response, to what this is, and what this may be a result of?
STRZOK: Well, it's chilling. I think, for a lot of politicians, for a lot of right-wing personalities, this is performance art. They get up there. They say things that they know are going to help them, with fundraising that are going to shore up their base, and their support.
But their target audience within that there is a small percentage who takes it very seriously, who believes in these crazy conspiracy theories, who have access to weapons, and are willing and do view it as the start of a civil war, or as a call to violence, or as a call to war.
And the trouble is that because they're out there, it used to be a crazy conspiracy theorist might exist on his own. But now, with the proliferation of social media networks, and not the Twitter's, not the Facebook, but things like Gab, things like Patriots.Win, and the TheDonald.win, some of the more fringe sites, groups of people can talk to each other, and encourage this sort of dialog.
And even if one-tenth of 1 percent decides they need to take arms? That's still potentially a huge number of people. And so, the task for law enforcement, to try and monitor that, in a legal way, in accordance with the First Amendment, to prevent harm, to see it before it happens, is extraordinarily difficult.
And I'm really concerned that there seems to be a disconnect, between people on the ground that are engaging in violence, and an unwillingness of politicians, and others, to understand the fires that they're fanning.
SIDNER: I don't see how they don't understand it, since we just, a couple years ago, watched something that happened, at the Capitol, the January 6th attack. I mean, we saw it there, we saw the lead-up to that. It was online. And it turned out that it turned into something real, physical and violent.
I do want to ask you, if you've been hearing, from any of the rank- and-file, at the FBI, anybody, in the DOJ, who is looking at all that's been said, by elected officials, and by what's going on online, and then this, what they're feeling, at this point in time.
STRZOK: Well, I think, people are concerned first and foremost, because it's the FBI's job, to prevent this sort of domestic terrorism, and to prevent this sort of violence. So, there are a lot of people, working very hard, to try and get ahead of any sort of acts of violence, like that.
But again, at the same time, by all accounts, and we don't know much at this point, and the investigation is still in very, very early, in many cases, individuals radicalize, on their own. They may not be part of some big group that the FBI can detect a conspiracy, ahead of time. And, at the same time, you're seeing this violence now directed to the FBI.
We have this judge, who signed the warrant, down in Florida, who's being doxxed and, worse, threatened, because people found out, who the judge was, publicized his name, the name of his family, his address.
So, we are entering a period, where people are now taking it to law enforcement, taking it to the Department of Justice, taking it to the judges, and not angry rhetoric, but physical violence, threats of death, and trying to, in fact, engage in that.
[21:45:00] So, on the one hand, there's an extraordinary effort, to try and get ahead of this crime. But, at the same time, it's coming increasingly at real personal cost.
SIDNER: Peter Strzok, thank you, for all your insights, this evening.
From Cincinnati, to Washington, the question, tonight, where does this rhetoric end? Can more violence, by Americans, against Americans, be curbed?
Our legal and political experts join me, with answers to those questions, next.
SIDNER: Within just hours, of the FBI search, on Donald Trump's Florida home, his supporters had one resounding sentiment. This meant civil war, a war against the tyranny, of what they called a weaponized Justice Department.
It sparked calls, not just to defund the FBI, but to see its total disintegration and for, quote, "Mass arrests" of the agents involved, in the Mar-a-Lago search.
It may not come as a surprise to some, that today, an armed man, with possible ties, to January 6th, tried to break into an FBI office. He was killed, by local police.
Joining me now is CNN Legal Analyst, Paul Callan; former Secret Service agent, Jonathan Wackrow; and Doug Heye, former Communications Director for the RNC.
All right, I'm coming for you first, Doug. We have heard from elected officials, with the Republican Party, saying all manner of things, using the word, "Tyranny," "Dictatorial," "Defund the FBI." Should they stop saying these things, when they know that the FBI was just doing their job?
DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, FELLOW, HARVARD INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: Right. Well, one they never should have started. Let's start there. And a lot of people were trying to urge restraint within the party. And unfortunately, me being one of them, weren't getting very far.
And it's not just defund the FBI, which politically is a very bad message, for Republicans. It's "Destroy the FBI," which is what Paul Gosar said.
When Marjorie Taylor Greene said "Defund the FBI," before that, she tweeted a picture of an upside-down American flag. And that is a signal, according to the flag--
SIDNER: Distress. HEYE: --the Flag Code, of distress under extreme danger to life or property. In other words, that's not a tweet or a message. That's a call to arms. And so, there will be more violence.
And members of Congress, who have seen their Capitol Police killed, who've seen their other colleagues, whether it's Steve Scalise or Gabby Giffords shot out - shot at and maimed, they're going to see this happen, again, and they're going to have to answer for it, eventually.
SIDNER: Can I ask you, as a former Secret Service agent, Paul, what that moment must have been like, as they are there to - sorry, Jonathan, as they are there, to sort of protect the former President, and yet they have to listen to the FBI, I'm assuming?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Well?
SIDNER: What were those - what that moment must have been like?
WACKROW: Well, I think, very smartly, cooler heads prevailed, in coordination was - in advance of the raid, in advance of the search and seizure, of Mar-a-Lago, communication between the Secret Service and the FBI did occur.
Now, it occurred at the highest levels. And again, the reason why is because you want to de-conflict any issues. You don't want a bunch of FBI agents, showing up, having conflict. Because what does it do? It causes chaos at the entrance to Mar-a-Lago.
The FBI's intent here wasn't to draw a lot of attention to this. They wanted to come in. We saw from in - we read from reporting, that the Secret Service facilitated their entry, into the facility. They got them, where they needed to go, pursuant to the warrant. That was verified by the Secret Service. And everyone knows their roles and responsibilities.
And I think what's really important here Sara, is to understand that, for the viewer to understand that Secret Service agents are criminal investigators. Every single day, they swear out criminal complaints, warrants of search and seizure. They swear those affidavits - the same affidavits that the FBI does.
So, they know what's at stake here. So, they help their law enforcement brethren go in, and do their job, apolitically, right? This was not - the agents that showed up there, did not have political motivations. They were doing what they are charged to do every single day.
SIDNER: Paul Callan, you are our Legal Analyst. And there are so many legal issues facing Donald Trump, and his businesses, as well.
When you look at what happened, at Mar-a-Lago, does it appear to you, from what you've seen so far? You hear, Merrick Garland is saying, "Hey, we're going to let the public see the search warrant. We know that Donald Trump, or at least his attorneys, have a copy of that." Are all the, I's dotted and T's crossed, from what you know, so far, from what you've seen?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER PROSECUTOR: It's really impossible to know that, at this point in time, because we haven't seen the warrant, supporting documentation. In other words, an FBI agent had to sign off, on what the evidence was, creating probable cause.
But what we have seen, and I think this is extremely unfortunate, are these incendiary accusations, made by the former President, and other people that for instance, the FBI planted evidence, OK?
CALLAN: Now, I've heard people say, "Well, it's horrible, you know, if that's what they did."
Well, wait a minute, the FBI going on this raid, with a bunch of other FBI agents with Secret Service agents surrounded? It would be virtually impossible, for them, to plant evidence. Now, maybe that has happened at some point in American history. But it certainly didn't happen, with respect to this particular raid.
And I think we've all got to take a deep breath, and step back, and see what the facts are. Maybe, in the end, this was an unjustifiable warrant, and it was an unjustifiable raid on Mar-a-Lago. But you know something? Maybe, just maybe, there was good reason for it, and good cause for it, and we don't have enough facts yet to have an opinion on that.
SIDNER: Nothing happens in a vacuum. You know this with politics.
When you look at this, and you see the "Washington Post" reporting now, that there may have been something to do with nuclear weapons, this documentation, what would you like to say, to the Republican Party, about how they've handled this? Because they are fundraising off of this.
SIDNER: I am getting the emails.
HEYE: Yes. Look, any movie or TV show that you see, or book you read? When you make a deal with the devil, there's a price to pay. And ultimately, this is what Republicans are learning constantly, and relearning.
Donald Trump doesn't give points. He only takes them away, one at a time. And it's why every Republican, or almost every Republican, is not questioning "Did DOJ do, the right thing? Was there transparency?" Some are asking that, and those are reasonable questions.
They're taking it one or two steps further, all in adherence to not principles of "Back the Blue" or "Law and order" or "Rule of all - rule of law," but to back one man, to make him happy, so that they don't lose points today, or tomorrow.
SIDNER: But is it because they were afraid, of losing their power, their positions?
HEYE: And their voters.
SIDNER: And their voters, right?
HEYE: Ultimately, yes.
SIDNER: All right. Gentlemen, I thank you, Paul Callan, Jonathan Wackrow, and Doug Heye. I appreciate all of your expertise. I know this has been a wild ride!
We will be right back.
SIDNER: Thank you so much for hanging with me. Laura Coates is sitting in for "DON LEMON TONIGHT." And that begins right now.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Hey, Sara?
SIDNER: Hey, girl?
COATES: Hey, nice to see you. Hey, girl, hey? Hey, girl, hey? Hey, good night, hey. Thank you so much.
Everyone, this is "DON LEMON TONIGHT". I'm Laura Coates. I'm sitting in for Don Lemon.