Return to Transcripts main page
The Situation Room
Some DOJ Officials Want Public Statement On Search Of Trump's Home; McCarthy Encourages GOP Lawmakers To "Be Loud" About FBI Search; U.S. Inflation Grew At A Slower Rate In July; Sources: Pompeo Also Targeted Along With Bolton In Iranian Murder Plot; FBI Mar-A-Lago Search Came After Suspicions Of Withheld Materials; Trump's Hold On GOP Remains Strong After Tuesday's Primaries; Man Arrested In Deaths Of Muslim Men Makes First Court Appearance. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 10, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The company says their planes can take off and land vertically like a helicopter, which is ideal for congested cities.
Thanks so much for watching. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to The Lead wherever you get your podcasts.
And a reminder, former President Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton will be a guest on the "Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer which starts right now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, former President Trump pleads the fifth and refuses to answer questions in the New York investigation of his company. His legal peril growing right now as new details emerge about the FBI search of his Florida home.
Also tonight, a new report shows inflation cooling as gas prices keep going down. I'll ask a top economic adviser to President Biden what that means for consumers.
And CNN has learned former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also was the target of an Iranian assassination plot in addition to former national security adviser John Bolton. Standby for new details on federal charges against an Iranian operative. And later I'll have a one on one interview with Ambassador Bolton.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the Situation Room.
Former President Trump departed the New York Attorney General's office just a little while ago after he invoked the Fifth Amendment in a deposition in the probe of his business dealings. CNN Senior Washington Correspondent Pamela Brown is joining us with all the late breaking developments.
Pamela, this follows the unprecedented FBI search of Trump's Florida home. PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What a week it has been for the former President Donald Trump. He asserted his fifth amendment constitutional right today. He says, in part, because of a search on his home on Monday by the FBI.
And tonight we're learning new details about why the FBI took that extraordinary step.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, former President Trump leaving the New York Attorney General's office after six hours invoking his Fifth Amendment rights, declining to answer questions at his deposition in connection to the civil investigation of the Trump organization's finances citing the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home as one of the reasons. Trump saying in a statement, "Under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution."
He's been several hours talking to lawyers from the Office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, but not saying much at all, defending his constitutional right despite having attacked others in the past for doing the same.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?
Taking the fifth, I think it's disgraceful.
BROWN (voice-over): Trump now saying quote, "I once asked, if you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment? Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated witch hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors and the fake news media, you have no choice."
This just two days after the FBI executed a search warrant on the former president's Mar-a-Lago home amid growing concern that Trump or his lawyers and aides had not returned all of the documents that were government property, according to people familiar with the discussions.
JAMES SHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP W.H. LAWYER: The big question is why. Why now and that they were likely negotiating back and forth at some point in time dating back to June about turning over this information. And then, that must have broken down at some point.
BROWN (voice-over): Some federal officials also came to suspect Trump's representatives were not truthful with investigators at times, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. As source also says the concern went beyond just documents marked classified, and that the FBI was concerned it would hurt national security if the documents got out. What exactly the FBI was searching for and why is still unknown. But to obtain a search warrant, investigators would have had to show a judge that there was probable cause of a crime and that evidence of that crime was located at Mar-a-Lago.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: I really don't believe that the department would have taken such a significant step as getting -- pursuing a search warrant for the president's residence about information that they already had back. There had to be a suspicion, a concern and indeed specific information that led them to believe that there were additional materials that were not turned over.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BROWN: And amid violent rhetoric in response to the execution of that warrant there at President Trump's -- former President Trump's house, we have learned that a federal magistrate, the judge that some media is referring to as the judge signed off on the warrant has actually removed contact information, the information where he lives on a website, Wolf, because it has gotten so bad because the violent rhetoric has been ratcheted up so much on the pro Trump internet following that search.
BLITZER: Yes. This is so so disturbing. Pamela Brown, thank you very, very much.
Let's dig deeper into all of this. Joining us, CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez, CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean, CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan, and CNN Senior Political Analyst Nia-Malika Henderson.
Evan, you have new reporting from inside the U.S. Justice Department related to the search of Trump's Florida home. What can you tell us?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's a little bit of frustration that's going inside the department about the lack of information that the department is putting out, essentially the silence that you've seen from the department, at least at a minimum, acknowledging that the search took places, which is of course, something that the former president has already done. And of course, he's used this to launch attacks against the FBI, calling this a siege. And as you can see, that has resulted in attacks against members of law enforcement.
People at the department, I'm told, you know, believe that there's a way for the department to at least acknowledge what has happened and at least explain some of what has happened. Obviously, this is the era of Merrick Garland, the Attorney General, who has been staunchly opposed any of that. He believes that, and he said this before, he has said this publicly that he believes, you know, the department should not only -- not comment on ongoing investigations, but he believes that it is needed -- the silence is needed to protect not only the investigation, but also the rights of people who have not been charged publicly.
Obviously, Wolf, this is putting the department in a tough spot, because all of the information is coming out on this is coming out from Donald Trump and some of his allies. And you will see this effect today, for instance, the department brought some very, very major charges against members of the Iranian military for trying to assassinate John Bolton, the former National Security Adviser. This is something normally the Attorney General of the top officials would have a press conference here in Washington, that did not happen today. Instead, what we got was a recorded statement from some national security officials at the Justice Department.
You know, this is a highly unusual situation, Wolf. And you can see that the department is kind of struggling with how to try to handle a very unorthodox situation.
BLITZER: And we're going to have a lot more on this assassination plot coming up here in the Situation Room.
Nia-Malika, there's a reason that Justice Department officials don't typically comment on ongoing criminal investigations. Just how high are the political risks right now of issuing a public statement?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: In so many ways, the department is in a no win situation at this point because you have seen Donald Trump and his allies rush in and fill the void and basically say, this was a raid, they have likened this as something that would happen in a third world country, they're even suggesting, without any evidence, that the FBI planted evidence at the Mar-a-Lago state. So, in some ways, no matter what the department does, I think you're not going to satisfy the critics who want to damage the reputation of the FBI and essentially prop up and defend Donald Trump.
So, sure, they may come out at some point and and kind of bow to the pressure that Evan is talking about internally. But even if they do, I suspect that the folks who have been most critical of the FBI and saying yes, get out there and criticize the FBI, apparently, Kevin McCarthy is encouraging Republicans to go after the FBI around this incident with Donald Trump. Even if they come out and say something, I don't think that's going to satisfy those critics who want to bolster Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Yes, I think you're right.
You know, Paul, can the former president himself actually answer a lot of these questions about that search at Mar-a-Lago if he wanted to?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He absolutely can. And as a matter of fact, ironically, he's the one person who has the right to release the warrant that was left behind as is required by law by the FBI agents and others who were doing the search. And I think it's really telling that the former president has refused to release the information in his own possession about what was seized during that particular search.
BLITZER: Jessica, what sort of marching orders are Trump's allies up on Capitol Hill where you are getting from the House Republican leader right now?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and that's who we're really hearing from, Wolf. And I think that's important to note, really this divide between what we're hearing from House Republican leadership and Senate Republican leadership.
But let's focus on the House Republican leadership for a second. Kevin McCarthy posting today on Facebook, very much what Nia-Malika was alluding to, which is he's telling any elected Republican they need to get loud, that they need to be screaming out against this, they need to be on the attack, really encouraging them to be very outspoken in this void and really be demanding answers and really providing outcry over what happened.
We also know that a group of 12 House GOP members traveled to Bedminster last night. It was a previously scheduled meeting, but what was telling is after that meeting, we learned that within the room, they were very encouraging to the former president. He needs to announce his bid for reelection sooner rather than later was the quote that we got. They were very encouraging to him. They really want him to move forward with this.
The feedback they were getting was that he had made his mind up and it was just a matter of time as what they were kind of the readout they were getting. But again, Wolf, we're really seeing intense support from a lot of members of the House GOP and specifically from the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy. We heard from him yesterday, again today. I suspect we will continue to hear from him in a very similar tone.
That really is a contrast to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who again, reiterated today he wants more information. But Wolf, that's kind of where it has been. He wants more information from the FBI, but it has not been this really strong outcry.
BLITZER: Yes, you're absolutely right.
You know, Evan, Trump and his allies are stoking outrage over the search of his home in Mar-a-Lago. How wary are law enforcement officials about this potentially leading to political violence out there?
PEREZ: No. Look, Wolf, I think that's exactly the point. They're very, very concerned about it because obviously, we have seen threats against members of law enforcement people, obviously in the public square. And what you're hearing from Kevin McCarthy and some of these Republicans is really, you know, they seem to be creating a category of American citizens who apparently should not be investigated. That is, you know, if you are thinking about deciding to run for president, apparently, you cannot be investigated, then you cannot have any kind of law enforcement action, including if the FBI believes there's a crime there.
So, that is a very, very strange place for the -- for elected leaders. That is a strange position for election elected leaders to be taking, after all, they're the ones that passed a law that made what the FBI is now investigating. You know, it's essentially a felony, right? This is something that happened under Donald Trump's watch. He is the one that signed a law that said mishandling of classified information is actually of a more serious crime than it previously was.
So. it's a very strange time right now for the FBI, because they know they're going to get criticized. I think what they're -- what they did not expect was the level of criticism from people in Congress, you know, people in leadership positions, who should know better.
BLITZER: And Nia, the former president is apparently unfazed by this FBI search of his Florida home. Does he see this potentially as a political opportunity?
HENDERSON: Well, supposedly he does. But I can't imagine that he is really unfazed. He's certainly sort of a presenting that publicly, presenting that to folks who are in his orbit as well. But it's never a good day politically or legally if the FBI shows up at your house.
You know, the idea that somehow is this bolsters him going into 2024. Last time I checked, it was 2022, so we're two years out from a presidential election. In two years in political years is like 2000 years. So, you know, this idea that it strengthens his hand as a candidate, certainly a general election candidate, just doesn't make any sense. But he has, I think, had the benefit of a chorus of Republicans and people who might even want to run against him in in 2024 come out and back him and say that the FBI on the DOJ needs to put up or shut up in terms of what in why they were down at his house.
BLITZER: Truly extraordinary developments, indeed. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, inflation, unexpectedly easing a bit in July. Is it finally starting to moderate as President Biden claims? I'll ask a key White House official. That's next.
BLITZER: Skyrocketing inflation here in the United States eased a bit in July, according to new numbers out tonight, thanks in part to falling gas prices. Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, the President touted these numbers today. But the reality is Americans are still facing very high prices.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's true, Wolf. But for a White House says that it has been on defense for months over inflation. Any step in the right direction is a welcome step. And you certainly saw President Biden touting these numbers earlier today, because you've seen inflation skyrocketing over the last 12 months or so.
So to see those numbers, showing that it did not budge in July is something that the White House is welcoming. And you saw President Biden earlier talking about this, going out of his way to talk about it, but not yet ready to declare victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we received news that our economy had 0 percent inflation in the month of July, 0 percent.
We're seeing some signs that inflation may be getting to moderate.
The second point I want to make this we need to pass the Inflation Reduction Act right away. But it's far from done in our effort to bring inflation down, but we're moving in the right direction. So, some good economic news today and some work ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: And Wolf, you heard that notable assessment from President Biden saying that he does believe inflation may be beginning to moderate. Of course, that comes after back in December. He told me he thought inflation had peaked then before the Russian invasion of Ukraine had happened.
Obviously that is something that the White House wants to see, because they have seen how it has changed and affected the President's poll numbers as voters are more and more worried about the economy. And that is something that has obviously caused some concern among Democrats of the height of the upcoming November midterm elections.
There at the end, the President was talking about that bill that passed the Senate on Sunday. It's now known as the Inflation Reduction Act. That was not a surprise announcement from Senator Schumer and Senator Manchin. Now it is expected to head to the House later this week. And then of course, the White House is hoping assuming no changes are made, it will be on President Biden's desk for his signature.
And so, that is going to be the next thing that the White House is focusing on, Wolf, is what that bill is going to do. Because just look at the name in and of itself shows you what Democrats concern is, what the White House's concern is, that voters are the most prioritizing right now and that is inflation. And so that will be the next challenge for the White House focusing on that because yes, while President Biden was touting these numbers as good numbers today, Wolf, he was not yet declaring any kind of victory lap,
BLITZER: Yes, good point, indeed. All right, Kaitlan, thank you very much.
As inflation slows here in the United States, one area where Americans are beginning to see some significant relief is at the gas pump, with prices dropping consistently now for 57 straight days. CNN's Pete Muntean is joining us with details.
Pete, should Americans expect gas prices to continue to drop?
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a few things could still throw this trend. But the point is, we have not seen gas prices this low since March, 3.69 is the most common gas price out there right now according to GasBuddy, that's dragging down the national average. Now, $4.01, down two cents overnight, down 67 cents compared to last month.
Prices really peaked back on June 14, they were 5.02 for an average gallon of regular that is according to AAA. So we've seen the prices drop more than $1 since then, the all time record, 57 straight days of decline. All of this means that Americans are spending in total $400 million a day less on gasoline.
Want you to listen now to Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy. He says this is positive news, but Mother Nature could still throw a wrench in this trend if it is to continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK DE HAAN, HEAD OF PETROLEUM ANALYSIS, GASBUDDY: We're not in the clear yet. The peak of hurricane season starts in mid to late August. And I think my anxiety is going to be pretty elevated because if we see any major storm, I would say category three or stronger targeting an area between New Orleans and Houston, buckle up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MUNTEAN: Of course, this is a positive sign for the economy also impacting inflation, also a positive sign for the Biden administration. President Joe Biden keep saying that gas prices getting them down to top priority for him. Wolf.
BLITZER: Certainly. All right, Pete Muntean, thank you very much.
Let's discuss this and more with the Director of the National Economic Council over at the White House, Brian Deese.
Brian, thanks so much for joining us. Inflation is indeed easing here in the United States. But should President Biden be touting these numbers when Americans are still facing very high inflation?
BRIAN DEESE, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Well, Wolf, what you heard from the President today was a commitment to work, do everything that we can to keep trying to bring prices down, because it's our top priority and we know that it's top of mind for the American people. That's why you heard him today and you have heard him consistently saying that the top priority is for Congress to pass the Inflation Reduction Act and bring some relief on prices from prescription drugs to healthcare to energy. And also the work that we're doing to try to keep a supply of energy on the global market and bring those gas prices down. And as you noted, gas prices down $1 at the pump since their peak, that's more than $100 a month in savings for the typical family out there. And that's important.
But it is, of course, good news to see the moderation in the inflation numbers in July. But our focus is to try to keep this progress going. And that's why you see our focus on trying to get this legislation done this week. BLITZER: And gas prices are indeed dropping. And that's so, so important. So good for so many millions and millions of Americans. But the cost of food is still on the rise right now. So is it too early to say whether we've hit peak inflation?
DEESE: Well, I think if you look at the July data, what you see is a zero inflation. So what that meant was that for all of the things that were prices went up like food in the economy, other things in the economy prices went down to offset that, and that was gas, but also other things like apparel, clothing, electronics, airfare. So, we saw some things going up and something's going down.
Food, you know, is closely connected to the war in Ukraine and the reduction in supply of grains and other things. At the same time, we've seen some moderation in shipping costs, overseas shipping costs and also transport within the United States. So that should have some impact as well.
The bottom line is, we believe that there are policy steps we can take to try to reduce those prices and give people some relief right now. And so, that is going to be -- that's going to continue to be our primary focus.
BLITZER: The former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers says today's numbers are indeed a good sign, but not good enough to, quote, "fundamentally alter anyone's view," a direct quote from him. He recently told me he still believes a recession in the next two years is more likely than not. Is the White House taking his advice more seriously this time around after President Biden last year said inflation would be temporary?
DEESE: Well, we take advice and input from people across the board. But I will say is what Larry Summers and former -- other former Treasury Secretaries including those serving in Republican and Democratic administrations have said is that the most important step that we could take right now to actually keep progress going on easing inflation is passing the Inflation Reduction Act. And they and other independent economists, including those who have not always agreed with us in the past say that this bill would help to ease inflation.
And in a very practical sense, it would mean lower costs for people out there who are struggling with the cost of prescription drugs. It would mean lower utility bills for people who are paying for the utility bills in their apartments or their homes. And so, I think there is a broad consensus that taking that action right now would help. And so, we should do it. And we should do it this week and the President's eager to sign it without delay.
BLITZER: The Federal Reserve, as you well know, Brian, is committed to bringing down inflation. But should Americans expect lower prices to come at the expense, potentially of higher unemployment?
DEESE: Well, we're our goal, and we think it is absolutely possible is to have this economy transition, lower prices and get to a point of more steady stable growth without having to give up all of the historic economic gains that we've seen. We've seen a historically strong job market and we've seen that continuing.
Wolf, we saw in July, that's a month that we got the zero inflation print, 528,000 jobs created in that month and the unemployment rate now matches its 50 year low. So what we want to do is we want to work to bring those prices down without having to give up all of those gains. That's going to take policy focus and actions, not only the what the Federal Reserve will do independently, but what Congress and the President can do to try to be complementary to that effort.
Central among that is passing a bill that would lower inflation and lower the deficit. So, that's why we're trying to do what we can on the fiscal policy side while the Fed operates on the monetary policies.
BLITZER: Brian Deese, thanks so much for joining us.
DEESE: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the target of an Iranian assassination plot, as well as former National Security Adviser John Bolton. We're learning new details tonight. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Truly stunning revelations tonight about an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate top U.S. officials Mike Pompeo, the former Secretary of State and former National Security Adviser Ambassador John Bolton. CNN National Security Correspondent Kylie Atwood is working the story for us. Kylie, fill us in on all the late breaking details of this plot against Ambassador Bolton and former Secretary of State Pompeo.
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, as you said, really stunning details here. This Iranian, a member of the IRGC started orchestrating this plot to try and pull off an assassination of the former National Security Adviser John Bolton in October of 2021. And he was offering $300,000 to someone in the United States to try and carry out this plot.
He was sending that person an FBI informant things such as screenshots of Bolton's address, his office location address, and in those screenshots, you can see that they were taken from about 10,000 kilometers away. That's the distance from Tehran to Washington, D.C., where John Bolton's office is located. He was also sending things such as images of cash.
Now, we have heard from the Justice Department that there is now this criminal complaint out and they are saying that they believe that the motivation for this was retaliation for the U.S. Air Strike that took out Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC back in 2020. And so, obviously, we continue to watch this but the former National Security Adviser John Bolton did get Secret Service in the end of 2021. That is around the time that this plot to assassinate him was coming to the fore.
BLITZER: And Kylie, how much do we know right now about this plot against former Secretary of State Pompeo?
ATWOOD: Well, we are learning that just last week, the former Secretary of State was informed directly by the Department of Justice that he was also a target of an Iranian assassination plot. And in these documents today, from the Department of Justice, we learned that this Iranian also had a second job for which he was willing to pay $1 million.
And according to a source close to Pompeo, it was the former Secretary of State who was the target of that other job that this Iranian was looking to carry out. We don't know the details of what that was actually planning on that one. Wolf?
BLITZER: I'm sure we'll be getting more details soon. Kylie, this isn't the first time Iran has attempted an assassination plot here in on U.S. soil, right?
ATWOOD: No. Back in 2011, then Saudi ambassador to the United States, who is now a senior government official in the Saudi government, he was someone that the Iranians were trying to carry out a plot to assassinate at a D.C. restaurant, a very popular restaurant here in Washington, D.C. We've also seen the Iranians go after other Iranian dissidents who are on U.S. soil.
So this is not altogether something that the Iranians have never done. And the Department of Justice was very clear in saying that with the National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, saying that if there were any actions carried out against any U.S. Americans, that there would be severe consequences for Iran. Wolf?
BLITZER: Kylie Atwood reporting for us. Thanks for all the excellent information.
By the way, coming up in our next hour right here in The Situation Room, we go one on one with Ambassador John Bolton, speaking out first on CNN about the dually revealed assassination plot against him. That's coming up in our next hour.
Joining us now, a key member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. Let me get your reaction to these brazen plots to assassinate John Bolton and Mike Pompeo.
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, Wolf, those of us who follow Iran exceedingly closely, we may be horrified by this. But we're not one bit surprised. In fact, when the news of the U.S. Air raid which killed General Soleimani hit my ears, I thought, oh, my gosh, we're going down this path. You know, you have to remember, Wolf, Soleimani is as horror to human as he was. And he was directly responsible for all kinds of terrorism around the Middle East and directly responsible for the deaths of Americans. He also had a stature inside Iran, and not just with regime supporters, but with sort of common Iranians that was almost mythical, right? So I -- he's in a different category than a lot of Iranian generals, a lot of Iranian national security people. You know, the moment that at least I heard about that strike, I thought, you know, the Iranian regime is going to be under a huge amount of pressure, not just to retaliate.
You'll recall that they retaliated by launching missiles in the U.S. airbase in the region, but retaliate on a one for one basis. So again, horrified, but not one bit surprised.
BLITZER: I know you're a key member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman, were you aware of these assassination plots before the news became public today?
HIMES: Wolf, I really can't answer that for reasons that you might imagine, but let me just go back to what I just told you, which is that, you know, when the indictment was issued, I wasn't one bit surprised. And you know, the Pompeo news is a little bit more interesting. It's, obviously, news, I guess. I don't know who the sources are.
But this is -- it's interesting because this is an enormously sensitive moment right now, right? With the European Union, apparently having arrived at a final draft of the language for a JCPOA and Iran nuclear deal version 2.0., I guess. It's a very, very sensitive time. So, you know, what, we're always going to be rocky waters are going to be that much more complicated with the news now both of the indictment and end of the possible plot against Mike Pompeo.
BLITZER: The Iranian operative was plotting this attack on Ambassador Bolton, with someone here in the United States who actually turned out to be an FBI informant. Do you think that was the result of luck, or was that likely an intentionally well-placed source?
HIMES: Well, it's hard to say. You know, the Republican Guard, the IRGC is an extraordinarily sophisticated entity. So when I hear stories about, you know, photographs of cash being sent back and forth, and you know, this sort of thing, presumably on some form of text, it's, you know, sort of -- it makes my internal waggle a little bit because, again, this is an enormously sophisticated organization.
I fear that when the IRGC wants somebody dead, they usually succeed without this sort of interruption. Now, the good news is, obviously, we have an extraordinarily capable intelligence community and extraordinarily capable FBI and counterintelligence efforts. So this would not -- it would not be easy for the Iranians to avenge in their minds the death of General Soleimani. But the risk remain is very substantial, even if this particular individual was using pretty shabby tradecraft.
BLITZER: Let's turn while I have you, Congressman, to the FBI search of the former president's Mar-a-Lago residence down in Florida. What do you say to your Republican colleagues who are forcefully condemning the search? HIMES: Well, you know, I'd say something that I would hope would be obvious to people, which is that it's not good to make aggressive statements threats without any information, whatsoever. I'm a member of Congress, and I have absolutely no information about what was in the warrant. There's all kinds of speculation about there. Is it only the possibility that there was classified information at Mar-a-Lago? Is it more? Is it less? Nobody knows.
And the -- it just sort of blows my mind that as the Department of Justice tries to navigate the very rocky waters of the intersection of the law, because let's face it, a lot of my Republican friends are saying, wait a minute, if they can do this to the president, they can do it to you. Of course, they would do it to the president. The president, like you and me, Wolf, and like ordinary citizens is answerable to the law and the same way any other American is.
You know, so of course, they would do it. But it's enormously sensitive for the FBI and the Department of Justice right now. And so, the -- you asked me what I would say to my Republican colleagues, I get politics, but just shut up until there are some facts because there's some very powerful equity is at stake here. You know, if over time you whip up enough angry Trump supporters and sort of characterize this as a brutal abrogation of the law, somebody is going to get hurt.
So I would hope that if you're a United States senator and I'm hoping against hope in this regard that you would take a little bit of a deep breath and be calm because you have no idea what was in that indictment -- sorry in that search warrant, right?
And by the way, isn't it interesting, Wolf, that nobody knows what's in that search warrant because the Trump people who have it, haven't released it. I don't know about you, but I suspected if there was exculpatory stuff, or if there was something in that search warrant that wasn't terribly serious, we would have seen it many, many hours ago.
BLITZER: Yes, the Trump people could release it if they want to, but they decided to not release it. Congressman Jim Himes, thanks so much for joining us.
Just ahead, Donald Trump wasn't on the ballot, but he scored a big victory in Wisconsin. What it means for the future of the Republican Party? That's next.
BLITZER: Donald Trump scored big in the Wisconsin governor's race last night. The former president's pick for the Republican nomination Tim Michel's winning the primary battle against his Pence-backed opponent. CNN Political Director David Chalian is joining us right now to break down the results. So David, what does this tell us about the bigger picture right now?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it tells us that Donald Trump still has real influence inside the Republican Party. As you noted, he backed Tim Michels over Rebecca Kleefisch, the former Lieutenant Governor there who had more of the establishment support. Here's an outsider businessman, and he credits Donald Trump's support as part of his rise to victory in this Republican primary yesterday in Wisconsin.
This sets up a critical general election battleground contest between the incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Tim Michels. This will be closely watched not only because of the 2022 landscape, but because of the role was contemplates in presidential politics in 2024, Wolf.
And then take a look how Michel's who, by the way, refuses to take off the table, the notion that if he's governor, he may look at this request from Donald Trump to decertify the legitimate 2020 election result that Joe Biden won Wisconsin. He joins a crew of Republican nominees now who are election deniers about the 2020 election, who subscribed much to Donald Trump's lie about the election.
Doug Mastriano, gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania. Jim Marchant in Nevada, he's the Secretary of State nominee, Tudor Dixon, gubernatorial nominee in Michigan and Kari Lake gubernatorial nominee in Arizona. All of these people, potentially if they win, are going to have oversight over elections in these critical battleground states that will determine who the next president is, Wolf.
And you noted the Trump-Pence battle. It's now two to one for Trump. Kari Lake in Arizona, Tim Michels in Wisconsin, those were Trump endorsed candidates. Pence back to their opponents who lost in Georgia. Pence one with incumbent Brian Kemp.
One final note, this not welcomed news by Donald Trump in Wisconsin, a state assembly race Robin Vos, the assembly leader in Wisconsin who just weeks ago, Wolf, rebuffed a call from Donald Trump to decertify that 2020 election in Wisconsin. Trump back out and steam but Robin Vos, by just about 260 votes, eked out a victory here and looks like he's going to hang on to his job.
BLITZER: Also, David, yet another Republican in Congress who voted to impeach Donald Trump was defeated. Where do we stand right now on the 10 House Republicans who voted against Trump?
CHALIAN: Yes, Wolf, there's a bit of cleanup from last week of Washington state primary. Jaime Herrera Beutler in her concession speech, in her statement yesterday conceding the race said, quote, "I'm proud that I always told the truth, stuck to my principles and did what I knew to be best for our country." She was one of those Impeachment 10. The Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump in the aftermath of January 6.
Four retired rather than face his revenge at the ballot box, three lost their primaries against Trump-backed challengers as Jaime Herrera Beutler did. Only two move on to the general election in November against Donald Trump's wishes. David Valadao, he stayed out of that race in California. And Dan Newhouse, back -- a Trump-backed challenger in Washington.
The big one next week, the final one Liz Cheney. If she does not survive her primary, Wolf, Trump will have gotten eight of the 10 of the Republicans who impeached him out of the way.
BLITZER: David Chalian helping us appreciate what's going on. Thank you very much.
Coming up, new details right now about the suspect in the killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque as he makes his first court appearance.
BLITZER: The suspect in the killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque has just made his first court appearance as police work tonight to try to determine a motive. CNN Senior National Correspondent Ed Lavandera is on the scene for us. Ed, what more are we learning about the suspect?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Mohammed Syeed, 51 years old appeared in court for his initial appearance. It was basically a court appearance to lay out exactly the charges against him and so that he could understand that. About -- it was one interesting moment though at one point, Mohammed Syeed tried to interrupt and wanted to make a statement to the court but he was advised not to say anything by his attorney and the judge will be brought back in a few more days detention hearing to determine bond and how he will be held.
But right now, he's being charged with two counts of murder for two of the four murders of Muslim men here in the Albuquerque area that prosecutors believe he is responsible for. But we've learned some more on the background of Mohammed Syeed. He's -- has a history of several misdemeanors of domestic violence and that sort of thing. All of those were dismissed.
And we've also spoken today, Wolf, with several people who knew him. One of them was a case manager that handled his -- what helped him through the refugee process when he arrived here in New Mexico six years ago. And another was a grocery store owner, who is the brother of one of his alleged victims. Both of those men described Mohammed Syeed is holding and harboring extremist religious views that he was an angry and volatile person. Fascinating conversations with both of those people who were very concerned about Mohammed Syeed's actions.
And quite frankly, not terribly surprised by the news that is developed here in the last few days, Wolf?
BLITZER: Very disturbing news indeed. All right, Ed Lavandera, thank you very much. Coming up, former President Trump refuses to answer questions in an investigation into his company. Plus, we have new details about the FBI search of his Florida home. And we go one on one with John Bolton speaking out first right here on CNN about the newly revealed araignee and assassination plot against him.
BLITZER: Happening now, former President Trump refuses for hours to answer questions in a New York investigation invoking his Fifth Amendment rights as he faces new legal danger after the FBI search of his Florida home. We're learning more about why the Feds descended on Mar-a-Lago.
Also tonight, we're tracking new threats of violence against both the young bei and the Justice Department since the Mar-a-Lago search.