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Trump's Home Searched For Violation Of Espionage Act, Other Crimes; Judge Unseals Trump Mar-A-Lago Search Warrant; FBI Recovered 11 Sets Of Classified Docs In Trump Search; Gunman In Ohio Standoff Previously Known To FBI Due To Jan. 6 Link; House Passes Dems' Sweeping Health Care, Tax & Climate Bill; Author Salman Rushdie In Surgery After Stabbing. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 12, 2022 - 17:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: If you ever miss an episode of "THE LEAD", you can listen wherever you get your podcasts. Our coverage continues right now with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the Mar-a-Lago search warrant is now public. And it reveals FBI agents went to Trump's home looking for possible violations of the Espionage Act and other major crimes. And they left with a trove of secret documents, including some classified at the very highest level. We're poring over all the information just released by a federal judge.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: And let's get straight to the breaking news. The unsealing of the search warrant authorizing the FBI search of former President Trump's Florida home at Mar-a-Lago. CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is working the story for us.

Evan, first of all, what are we learning from these documents? And what did the FBI find?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this extraordinary search of the former president ended with the FBI taking away about 20 boxes of documents and items from the residence of the former president in Palm Beach. Among those documents around those boxes were 11 sets of documents that were of various levels of classification. There were four sets that were top secret, three that was secret, labeled as secret, and three that were labeled at the confidential level.

Now, the -- there is a set of documents that was labeled as top secret SCI, that stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information. And this is the type of information that you have to go to specially designed rooms that are operated by the federal government in order to even access them. This is a place that you can't even bring your cell phone because of the sensitivity of the information in those documents.

We know that they included binders of photos, information on the president of France, according to the return here, the receipt that was provided to the Trump lawyers at the scene there. And there was also the the official document that granted executive clemency to Roger Stone and ally of the former president who was pardoned near the end of the Trump presidency, Wolf.

BLITZER: Which potential crimes, Evan, did agent say they've wanted to look for evidence of?

PEREZ: Well, there were three crimes that were listed that were essentially being under investigation according to the prosecutors, and they're very interesting. One of them is federal code 793, which is the Espionage Act. And it has to do with gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.

The second one is essentially an obstruction statute, concealment, removal and mutilation of documents. And then there is the destruction, alteration and falsification of records.

Again, these are the three statutes that prosecutors told the judge that they were investigating and that they believed they would find evidence of those crimes when they did the search at Mar-a-Lago. Want to say interesting things here, Wolf, is that, you know, according to this document, they were authorized by this judge to show up at 6:00 a.m. According to what the best information we have from the Trump lawyers, they showed up somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. is when this search began. It also was interesting, according to the documents, they were authorized only to go to certain parts of the property. It is a very big property that the former president uses as a private club and residents.

It says here that the locations to be searched include the 45 office, this is the former president's office, all storage rooms, and other rooms and premises that were available and for use by the former president of the United States. Extraordinary day, obviously. This was a Monday when they conducted the search and extraordinary things that apparently the FBI came away with, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, lots of fascinating details in this just released search warrant. Very interesting indeed.

Stay with us, Evan, don't go too far away. I want to get some more now on the breaking news. Our legal, political and law enforcement experts are also joining us.

And Daniel Goldman, the search warrant cites three criminal statutes related to espionage, obstruction and destruction of documents. What does it tell you that federal authorities had probable cause to believe they would find evidence of these crimes?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, the one that obviously jumps out is the Espionage Act, the other two we probably could have guessed would be on there. But the Espionage Act prohibits any concealment or taking of national defense materials that could be used to -- with an intent to harm the United States or to assist a foreign country or a foreign agent. That is a very, very serious crime.


And what it means is that the FBI had evidence to indicate that Donald Trump was in possession of highly classified national defense materials. And there's at least some indication, some evidence that he may have had an intent to use that for nefarious purposes, either against the United States or for a foreign country

At this point, you know, I given Donald Trump's track record over the last six years, we can't put anything past him as if it were out of bounds. And that really jumps out to me as a national security threat, especially if it is regarding nuclear programs, which by the way, cannot be declassified by anybody, including the president. There's a law that says the ultra sensitive programs such as our nuclear programs cannot be declassified.

BLITZER: It doesn't get more --

GOLDMAN: So the fact that --

BLITZER: -- classified than top secret, SCI, Sensitive Compartmented Information. It doesn't get more classified than that.

GOLDMAN: That's right. But even within -- there are different categories and compartments within that top top secret category. And that includes sense -- extra sensitive programs such as the nuclear programs, which cannot be declassified at all. And that's important because what we're hearing a lot from Trump Defenders is, oh, he's the president, he can declassify anything. That's not true. He cannot declassify nuclear program documents.


GOLDMAN: But the fact that he was apparently in possession of those documents, with some intent to disseminate them against the United States or for a foreign country is quite shocking.

BLITZER: I'm anxious to get Jennifer Rodgers' thoughts.

Jennifer, the inclusion of the espionage statute indicates potential harm, obviously, to U.S. national security interests. This is a very, very big deal as I can personally testify, having covered the intelligence community over many years.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is. And I actually think that the obstruction statute is a big deal, too. And I did not expect to see that because that requires destruction or mutilation in order to interfere with an investigation or programs of the U.S. So, the fact that that they think he was up to that and a judge agree that there's at least probable cause to think so, I think, is important too. But you're right, Wolf, I mean, the Espionage Act really, really tells us where we are.

You know, there was a chance that the DOJ could have just checked the box that said that they were there to repossess contraband or illegally possessed materials. They didn't do that. They actually check the box that said they were investigating crimes and then listed these crimes, including the Espionage Act.

So, now we know what we didn't know before, which is that there's an active criminal investigation into the former president. And now they have a bunch of boxes of documents to help them on their way.

BLITZER: Yes, this is clearly a very, very big deal.

Anthony Ferrante, we've now seen the receipt of the FBI's search, which says they seized 11, 11 sets of highly classified documents. The receipt is not necessarily all that specific, though, but that's to be expected, right?

ANTHONY FERRANTE, FOMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Yes, it's very common. I mean, they're not going to list the actual contents of those documents in this receipt, because for obvious reasons, I mean, first and foremost, this receipt is an unclassified document. So of course, you're not going to list classified information on an unclassified document.

I will say, though, that the receipt does reveal interesting information. First and foremost, the search warrant was signed on Friday afternoon. The FBI then worked through the weekend and executed the search on Monday morning.

I also think it's interesting, they executed the search warrant at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m., as reported by the Trump attorneys. I view that as a courtesy. As a former FBI agent, I never once executed a search warrant at 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning, it was always at 6:01 a.m. as soon as that search warrant was able to be served.

The other thing I would highlight, Wolf, which I think is extremely telling, this receipt of property in the upper left hand corner, it actually lists the FBI case file. And that case file starts with W.F. indicating the Washington Field Office of the FBI. Most people may think this case is being run out of the Florida -- the Tampa or field office in Florida, actually not, it's being run out of the Washington Field Office, which is very, very interesting because the FBI is most sensitive espionage cases are run out of the Washington Field Office.


BLITZER: Yes, that's where they have the most experience in dealing with potential espionage cases.

Evan, issue here are documents at the very highest classification level. Trump says he actually declassified these documents before leaving the White House. But isn't there a process by which that would have to have been done, and clearly it was not done?

PEREZ: Yes, exactly, Wolf. And you don't have to believe me, you can believe Trump's Justice Department when they argued this in some -- in a previous lawsuit a couple of years ago. They went to court and they told the judge just because the former president or at the time the president says it doesn't make it so, at the time president, former President Trump was tweeting and saying that he was declassifying stuff. And you know, there were various people who went to court and said, well, he said he declassified it. Justice Department went to court and said, not so much.

There's a whole process that involves a memo that is sent by the White House Counsel, goes to the Justice Department. There's a whole other sets of laws that he has to comply with, including the Privacy Act, for instance, that before a document becomes declassified.

The second thing I point out is, you know, the statutes here that are in place, especially with the espionage statute, it appears that the prosecutors are using a statute with the purpose to evade and to get around that issue, which we know the former president is going to use as his defense. He's going to say I declassified this stuff, and it doesn't matter.

And I think it's important for people to know that it appears this is where this is going. This is going to be a legal fight. And it's far from over.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point, indeed.

You know, Daniel Goldman, even if these documents were declassified by then President Trump before leaving office, would that have had an impact on the specific statutes being investigated here based on this report that the court in Florida just released?

GOLDMAN: Yes, it probably would if the FBI believed that they had been properly declassified I think we would be in a different situation. But again, some of these documents can't be declassified ever even by the president so at least what based on the reporting. But the real question, and I think Jennifer brings up a very good point about the obstruction statute, which dovetails a little bit with the sequence of events here. He was served a subpoena. Now, that is actually an escalation.

In the ordinary course, the FBI would ask for these documents, and Trump and through his lawyers would simply turn them back over. But they would -- it required a subpoena in order to compel him to do it. But he still didn't turn over everything. And so, that really begs the question, what is he hiding and why? And that's to me why the Espionage Act statute included in here is so important and is so suspicious is because he went to great lengths including obstructing a subpoena in order to keep these documents and we now know that they are investigating espionage, you put the two together, and it's highly suspicious.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. We're going to stay on top of this. We have a lot more coming up.

But also breaking right now, the House of Representatives started voting on the Democrat's healthcare, climate change and tax legislation. We're going to follow the vote. Let you know when lawmakers are finished voting, standby, just started a little while ago. And there's much more, as I said, to discuss on what's going on with the Justice Department. Our breaking news coverage will continue. That's next.



BLITZER: Breaking news this hour, a just unsealed search warrant revealing that former President Trump is under investigation for possible, possible espionage, obstruction of justice and removing government documents. Let's get back to our panel right now.

Anthony Ferrante, the former president has been critical of the FBI's search insinuating that it was disrespectful of his home down there at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. But these records show exactly where the FBI agents were allowed to go inside Mar-a-Lago and what they actually wound up removing. It's clear investigators were carrying out very, very specific instructions, right?

FERRANTE: Absolutely, Wolf. I mean, I have to say, I think the former president is being a little sensitive. As I read through the documents, and it's very clear, they were looking to search his office, and any storage facilities around the facility that he may have had access to. It specifically states that none of the guest suites, any of the members, private areas are to be searched. And that is specifically just looking in areas where he himself would have had access to or where documents would have been stored.

BLITZER: So Evan, where does the Justice Department go from here?

PEREZ: Well, Wolf, I mean, look, this is merely an allegation that the prosecutors used to get this search warrant from -- approved by a judge. And I think it's very important for us to point out that they're doing an investigation.

This is also, by the way, this is a data document. This is a document from the day of the search at 6:00 p.m. when they left out Mar-a-Lago. Since then, there's been a lot of investigation that has happened at the FBI and the field office in Miami. So, we don't know where this goes.

But we know from the Attorney General, he said yesterday that, you know, the next thing you're going to do, the next time you're going to hear from us is when we have something to say in court. So, that means that, you know, perhaps they're going to be able to bring charges if they're able to get the evidence to be able to bring charges, or they'll notify and tell the former president or whoever may be exposed here to possible criminal charges that let them know that, you know, that investigation is closed. That's where this goes next.

Again, there's a lot of investigation that needs to happen and a lot of processing of these documents that they released, 20 boxes of documents. And keep in mind, even before these 20 boxes, there were additional documents removed in June, and then of course, additional documents before that. So, there's a lot of investigation that needs to happen. And right now, Donald Trump and or no one has been accused of a crime.


BLITZER: And as a result of this, Daniel Goldman, these three statutes are potentially could just be the starting point, right? Could the Justice Department wind up widening the scope of their investigation?

GOLDMAN: Certainly, that's always at play. I think what's really relevant, though, about these statutes and listing them is that it means that there was evidence and there is probable cause to support a finding that there is potentially more evidence of a crime -- of those crimes to be found at Mar-a-Lago. So, it's always possible that these investigations can, you know, go beyond what we're looking for here, and what they were looking for here.

But what -- remember, we do not see the affidavit that lays out all of the evidence to support the search warrant that the judge ultimately signed. And we won't see that unless Donald Trump challenges this in court, which it doesn't at least at this point, appear like he will or if he is charged down the road. But that -- what we can glean from it is that there was evidence to support these statutes. And that is really the headline today.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a major headline indeed.

Jennifer Rodgers, how long do you think it might take for the Department of Justice to actually move forward with specific charges?

RODGERS: I wish I knew, Wolf. I mean, listen, the search warrant is an investigative step. So they need to comb through what they found at Mar-a-Lago this week. They then need to take additional investigative steps, this is going to open up new avenues of investigation, they're going to want to go back and talk to more people, they're going to have to investigate what happened with these documents that they found. They may be opening up to new potential charges, like possibly charges based on the classified nature of some of the documents found at Mar-a-Lago.

So there's lots to do. And as we all know, with the former president, at the heart of this investigation, they're definitely going to take their time to make sure that everything is airtight. So I wouldn't expect any action, crtainly not before the midterms. They're also very sensitive, of course, DOJ, to political issues around elections. So, I would say we're at least a few months away from any possible charges based on this for sure.

BLITZER: Yes, I suspect you're absolutely right.

Anthony Ferrante, how difficult and truly unprecedented is this situation? In a situation right now, a former president united states, how unprecedented is it for FBI officers agents to be dealing with something like this, searching and investigating a former president at his home?

FERRANTE: Well, yes, you're absolutely right, Wolf, it certainly is unprecedented to have a situation like this involving a former president of the United States. It is not the first time the FBI is investigating crimes like these. There actually is precedent set.

I will remind viewers of Harold Martin, a former NSA contractor, who inadvertently took home terabytes of data from the National Security Agency, he was never proven. It was never proven that he actually was committing espionage, but he actually did face charges and is now serving nine years in prison.

I also want to go back to your question, Wolf, about where does this investigation investigation go from here? This is actually just the beginning. What the FBI did was they walked away with approximately 28 boxes of evidence, right? And everyone is thinking right now that the target here is the president, not necessarily -- the former president, excuse me -- not necessarily, those documents are going to be taken back in a very sensitive, a tiger team is going to sit down and comb through those documents to understand exactly what it is they're looking at.

What did the prep the former president have in his possession? And it's important to note that this was an uncontrolled facility that these documents are stored in. So those documents, not only are they going to understand what those documents were, but they're going to look at who touch those documents. Yes, the FBI will actually fingerprint those documents, and trace those fingerprints back to whomever may have touched them. And that in and of itself, could widen this investigation to new places that we might not even be thinking of right now.

BLITZER: Yes, that would be so so dramatic indeed, but excellent point.

Daniel Goldman, what do you expect? You think we're going to hear from the Department of Justice and the Attorney General of the United States on this anytime soon again?

GOLDMAN: No, I don't think we'll hear from them again. I think that the Attorney General made a very bold and important statement yesterday, he called Donald Trump's bluff about these documents and the search warrant itself, and for good reason, because now we know what there is evidence of.

And let's just remember, Wolf, the documents themselves don't give any indication of whether there was an intent to distribute them or to intend to disseminate them contrary to the interest of the United States or in favor of a foreign country. You would need to have additional evidence from a witness most likely or communications in writing that that is what Donald Trump was going to do with those documents. So on their face, the documents don't support an Espionage Act charge. So there must be additional evidence, likely from a witness or perhaps from other communications that these -- that the intent of Donald Trump, presumably, or someone else in Mar-a-Lago was to use this for espionage purposes. And that's very significant here.


BLITZER: It certainly is. All right, guys, everybody stand by. A lot more coming up. We're going to continue to follow the breaking news here in THE SITUATION ROOM as we get reaction from Capitol Hill to the new look inside the search warrant detailing what the U.S. Justice Department was looking for inside former President Trump's Florida home. Stay with us.



BLITZER: More now in the breaking news. We're following remarkable details just revealed after a judge unsealed the search warrant on former President Trump's home just a little while ago. Let's go to our CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean -- actually we got to Jessica Dean a little while, but Governor Kasich is joining us first. Governor -- the former governor, Republican Governor of Ohio is joining us right now.

What's your reaction to all this dramatic news? Charlie Dent is with us as well, a former Republican Congressman. He's a CNN Political Commentator, as well. Let me get both. I'm anxious to get both of your thoughts right now, on these dramatic developments. Let's start with you, Governor Kasich?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: Well, Wolf, if in fact, they had a sense that there was not just top secret documents, but also special access, which is a really a classification even above top secret and a classification even above special access, I don't think the government had much choice but to get in there. Now, a lot of people are calling some of the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee are calling for an investigation.

I mean, it make some sense with inside the Intelligence Committee for them to review this. But, you know, the stories is changing minute by minute. And I really think -- this is what's disturbed me, Wolf, people have allowed their personal views of Donald Trump informed their views about this. And I don't think that's the way we should head.

We need to look at this. We need to be careful about this. We need to get to the bottom of why it happened. But most important, if those documents were there and represented a threat to national security, of course, you have to go and pick up those documents. Why now and not before? We still don't know the answer to that.

BLITZER: Let me get Charlie Dent's reaction. What do you think, Congressman, what do you think to these -- of these developments?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I agree with Governor Kasich. Let me first say this, if any member of Congress, John Kasich arrived and we served and we walked out of a skiff, a secure facility, containment facility with classified material, took them home and decided we weren't going to return them, I can assure you that we would have had a G-man come visit us and take those back.

They would not have been -- it would not have been any negotiation. Each member of Congress knows that they have to sign a document, each session, basically warning them of the dangers of handling classified material and the potential for violations of law. And for Donald Trump to go out there and say that he is a victim, and that all Americans are victims, because he -- you know, because the government issued a search warrant to take its material back, I mean, that's ridiculous.

The average American doesn't handle classified material. But the President of the United States should know better. And so I think he brought this all himself. You know, he doesn't respect boundaries or rules. And he thinks he's beyond that. And so, the government I like hasn't a choice but to enforce the law and hold him to account for mishandling this classified material. It's very sensitive, and it's -- it was wrong of him.

BLITZER: Extremely sensitive right now. Governor Kasich, as you and I well know, there used to be some federal institutions that both sides Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives agreed we're deserving of the highest respect. How problematic is it right now to see those norms dissolving?

KASICH: Well, it's significant, Wolf, because as institutions begin to melt away, which are sort of the tent poles in terms of how we run our country. It's very, very concerning. You know, there have been some Republicans today who have kind of held the line, they've held their fire, but they've said we kind of need to get to the bottom of it. I think that makes some sense.

It can't be done in the open, it can be done inside that intelligence committee, because it is very important that people can understand through this whole process, that their rights are respected, that procedures were followed because we don't want to have faith in these institutions, deteriorate further. Because when that happens, you see what happened in Cincinnati yesterday, people tend to take action into their own hands, which is tragic.

BLITZER: It's so, so sad to see what's going on right now. All right, John Kasich and Charlie Dent, guys --


BLITZER: -- thank you very, very much.

Up next, a man previously on the FBI's radar for his ties to the Proud Boys and January 6 is now dead after an hours long standoff with police. What investigators are now learning from his social media, that's next.



BLITZER: Sources now tell CNN that the man who attempted to breach an FBI field office in Ohio was already on the agency's radar because of his connection to January 6 and possible ties to the Proud Boys. He was killed after an hours long standoff with police on Thursday. And now authorities are combing through his social media.

CNN's Brynn Gingras dives into the suspect's background. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY: Worry -- we're going to see other incidents down the road.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New details tonight about the armed suspect who was shot and killed after allegedly trying to get into the FBI'S Cincinnati field office, including how the recent FBI search at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate may have inspired him. The Ohio State Highway Patrol identifying the suspect as 42-year-old Ricky Shiffer of Columbus, a former U.S. Navy fire control technician, who a source tell CNN brought a high powered rifle to the FBI office.


We've learned just minutes after the attempted breach, a post was made by an account bearing Shiffer's name on the Donald Trump founded site Truth Social. At 9:29 a.m., the user posted, "Well, I thought I had a way through bulletproof glass and I didn't. If you don't hear from me, it is true. I tried attacking the FBI and it'll mean either I was taken off the internet, the FBI got me, or they sent the regular cops while." The post abruptly ends, presumably, as a chase ensued.

The account recently saw an uptick in posts in the days of following the FBI surge at Mar-a-Lago. On August 8th, the user wrote, "This is your call to arms from me. Get whatever you need to be ready for combat. "And evil already won. Now we need to fight a civil war to take back the country."

On August 9th, the day after the Mar-a-Lago search, the user encouraged people to go to Palm Beach and that if FBI agents broke up the group, quote, "kill them." Investigators have not yet confirmed if that account belongs to Shiffer. But a law enforcement source tells CNN an image on the account matched a government ID photo of him.

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Donald Trump has an amazing amount of influence over people who harbored these sorts of beliefs when he baselessly floats out an allegation as he did on Monday about the FBI possibly planting evidence in his residence which we all know, there's been absolutely zero proof produced for that.

GINGRAS (voice-over): After Shiffer took off from the field office, troopers located him, exchanged fire and surrounded him.

LT. NATHAN DENNIS, OHIO STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: Law enforcement officers attempted to negotiate with the suspect. The suspect then did raise a fire arm toward law enforcement and shots, were fired by law enforcement officers on the scene.

GINGRAS (voice-over): He died at the scene. Two sources tell CNN Shiffer was previously known to the FBI in connection to January 6, and because of his link to associates within the Proud Boys.

MOORE: I mean, it was troubling, obviously, to see what happened in Cincinnati. And the concern is and the proof really is just to see how the rhetoric sparks people's volatilities.


GINGRAS: And the social media posts that you just saw there, that is part of the ongoing investigation on the ground there in Cincinnati trying to sort of answer the question, Wolf, is, was there a clear motivation for Shiffer? You know, was it what happened earlier in the week at Mar-a-Lago, the search and the subsequent, you know, boost and violent rhetoric was at the tipping point for Schiffer to do what he did and get killed for it.

BLITZER: Yes, we'll have much more on this threat that's clearly out there right now that's coming up. Brynn Gingras, thank you very much.

I want to go to Capitol Hill right now. Jessica Dean is joining us. There's breaking news in the House of Representatives. Tell our viewers what just happened, Jessica.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All right. So we have seen the end to this vote on the Inflation Reduction Act. And President Biden and congressional Democrats are getting quite the boost here. You see Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker on the floor. They have approved what's come over from the Senate. So it's now going to head to President Biden's desk for his signature.

And remember, what's in this bill, Wolf, just a quick reminder to all our viewers out there, there's several different planks. There's the climate provisions, the largest investment in climate ever to come out of Congress, that some $369 billion. There's also the health care provisions that's going to extend the Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years. It's also going to cap out-of-pocket Medicare expenses at $2,000. And allow for the first time Medicare to negotiate some drug prices.

And then finally, there are some tax provisions in here most notably a 15 percent corporate minimum tax. So that is what we are seeing coming out of here. And Wolf, just to give everyone some perspective for a second. This was something that Democrats had really almost kind of decided wasn't going to happen.

When those talks broke down with Senator Joe Manchin earlier this summer, they thought maybe they would get a very, very, very narrow bill. This is much bigger than they thought they would get. It certainly wasn't originally going to include those climate and tax provisions. So this is a big win for Democrats. And it's worth noting, they're all headed home now on recess.

Those who are running for reelection, they really want to go home and talk about this. It was important to them to get this passed. So a big victory for Democrats as they head out on recess, and of course, Republicans continuing to hammer home that this is not a good bill, not a good law. They are going to run on this in the fall as well. They want to be talking about inflation and the economy. So expect to hear more from them as well.

But again, the big news here, Wolf, is we have seen this Inflation Reduction Act making it out of Congress. It's now headed to President Biden's desk.

BLITZER: I take it, Jessica, it was passed. It was passed in the Senate strictly along partisan lines. Now, it passes the House, I assume strictly along partisan lines as well. Is that right?

DEAN: That's exactly right. And that is exactly what we were anticipating as we kind of talked about over and over again. This is on this very particular budget process that they're using that allows them to only have to have Democratic support. And so you did see the full Democratic support in the House and also in the Senate. That's how they were able to get it done.


BLITZER: And now it goes to the President of the United States for a signature and then it will become the law of the land. Jessica Dean up on Capitol Hill, thank you --

DEAN: Yes.

BLITZER: -- very much for the breaking news.

Coming up, more news we're following including police. They have just identified a suspect in the truly shocking stabbing of the award- winning author Salman Rushdie. The latest on his condition and new details about the suspect, that's next.



BLITZER: Other major news we're following this hour, police now say the award-winning author Salman Rushdie is still in surgery right now after he was stabbed on stage as he was about to give a lecture in western New York State. CNN National Correspondent Erica Hill is working with story for us. Erica, very disturbing story, indeed. Police, I understand, have just identified a suspect in this shocking attack?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They did. They identified 24- year-old Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, saying that he is in custody now. Wolf, he has not yet been charged. State police say they are working with the district attorney to determine what the appropriate charges would be. Part of that will depend on Salman Rushdie's condition as well.

As you noted, Rushdie was stabbed. State police just saying that this suspect rushed the stage that Salman Rushdie was stabbed at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen, almost immediately. People ran onto the stage as you just saw on some of that video there to help including a doctor who was in attendance and was able to render aid until EMS arrived on the scene.

And then of course, Salman Rushdie, as you see here, was airlifted to a local trauma center. As you said, we are told he is still in surgery at this hour. No update on his condition. He was on the stage. This happened just before 11:00 a.m. today. This is in western New York at the Chautauqua Institution.

He was on stage with another gentleman, Henry Reese, they were about to have a conversation when this suspect allegedly rushed to the stage. We've been talking to different witnesses throughout the day, who just talked about the chaos. How shocking it was to see all of this happening before their eyes.

There was police on scene there, there was New York State trooper who Governor Kathy Hochul actually praised earlier today for jumping in and helping as well and also a local sheriff there. The institution says that it does do a security assessment before every event and that is one of the reasons, Wolf, that they did have that police presence there today.

BLITZER: They did. We also, I understand, just heard I take it from the president of the Chautauqua Institution where Rushdie was getting ready to speak, right?

HILL: We did. He spoke out, he said this is unlike anything that has ever happened in the institutions 150-year history, noting that it was founded, of course, to bring people together. And he specifically mentioned the work of Salman Rushdie and what that means for the institution moving forward. Take a listen.


MICHAEL HILL, CHAUTAUQUA INSTITUTION PRESIDENT: Our whole purpose is to help people bridge what has been too divisive of a world. Mr. Rushdie, this has been part of his whole life, is to bring up ideas and thoughts. He's known as one of the most significant champions for freedom of speech. And I think the worst thing Chautauqua could do is to back away from its mission in light of thois tragedy. And I don't think Mr. Rushdie would want that either.


HILL: He said the institution's job right now is to continue to support police and others and also to be a resource for both the Rushdie and the Reese families. Henry Reese was the moderator who is on stage there with Salman Rushdie. He was also injured, facial injuries. He was treated and released from the hospital. He said part of the other job too is to imagine a pathway, Wolf, to healing.

We'll continue to update you as we learn more.

BLITZER: And Erica, before I let you go, remind our viewers, Salman Rushdie, he's been the subject of major threats against his life in the past. Tell us about that.

HILL: Absolutely. So many people are likely familiar with him because of his 1988 books, "The Satanic Verses" which, of course, then led to the Ayatollah Khomeini actually issuing a decree, a fatwa calling for his death. He called that book, an insult to Islam and to the Prophet Mohammed, said it was blasphemous. So for 10 years, Salman Rushdie lived under British protection. He reflected on that at one point, I believe it was in 1997, saying it was like walking around with a lead boot. You can't just go out and do whatever you want, like most people could. He also reflected on it with Walter Isaacson and Christiane Amanpour show in 2019. And said he actually learned a lot from those 10 years.

In some ways, he was surprised that he survived it. But he said it almost made him focus even more and made it more important for him continue to speak out that free speech became even more important and also to put out -- to point out the things with which he had an issue, bigotry, fascism, for example. So he really in reflecting on that, took a lot from it.

And as you know, Wolf, he has continued to speak out over the last several decades and has never shied away from any divisive or perhaps controversial topics with which some people may have an issue.

BLITZER: Yes. Such awful situation. Do we have any idea when the suspect might be charged, Erica?

HILL: We don't. So what the police said is, right now, they're obviously still in the investigation part of those charges. They're speaking with the DA. But part of those charges, the State Police said will also depend on Salman Rushdie's condition. And so as we wait for that update, we'll also be waiting a little bit more on the charges.

I should point out, too, Wolf, they did -- the state police did mention, they also found at the scene a backpack and some electronic devices. That backpack has been cleared, but they are now waiting on search warrants with the backpack and those electronic devices.


BLITZER: Terrible situation indeed. All right, Erica Hill, thank you very much for that report.

I want to go back to Jessica Dean right now on Capitol Hill. There's been a major development. Tell us about it.

DEAN: Wolf, this is a big victory for Democrats here on the Hill today. And now this massive package that includes health care provisions, climate provisions and tax provisions, is headed to President Biden's desk. And we've talked about this. This is the latest in a string of victories for congressional Democrats, for President Biden, really a turnaround of fortunes, if you will, political fortunes in the last month or two here on the Hill, where we've seen a lot of bipartisan, we saw the Burn Pits bill get out, we saw the CHIPS bill get out and get signed.

Of course, they had the gun legislation earlier this summer. And now for Democrats to be able to get part of their economic agenda off the ground and to the President, you know, we -- if we rewind just a little bit, just about two, three, four weeks ago, that's when those talks really hit a breaking point with Senator Joe Manchin and nobody really thought we'd get to this point. And yet here we are, Wolf. So a big victory for Democrats on the Hill today. BLITZER: Big win for the Democrats and for the President of the United States. Jessica Dean, thank you very much.

There's more breaking news that we're following. The Mar-a-Lago search warrant has been unsealed, revealing that the FBI was looking for possible violations of the Espionage Act and other crimes inside former President Trump's Florida home. Details, that's next.