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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Loses New Bid to Avoid Facing Georgia Grand Jury Next Week; Source Says, Deep Concern About Intel Risks of Secret Documents at Mar-a-Lago; House Oversight Committee Urges "Immediate Action" By Social Media on Surge in Threats Against Law Enforcement After Mar-a-Lago Search. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 19, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, incredible to see the amount of support, even from the opposing team, Tennessee, who wore baseball caps in support of young Easton.

So, a lot of support out him for here today, which goes to you show you he is a winner no matter what. Jake?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes, we'll continue to keep Easton in our prayers. Jason Carroll in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, thank you.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. I'll see you Sunday morning.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Senator Lindsey Graham just lost a new bid to avoid facing a Georgia grand jury next week. The investigation into former President Trump's efforts to try to overturn the state's presidential election results is heating up big time, and a prosecutor says Graham is a crucial witness.

Also tonight, CNN has learned U.S. officials have deep concern about the classified documents Trump stashed over at Mar-a-Lago, fearing the U.S. intelligence community and its sources have now been put at serious risk.

And urgent new warnings that a Ukraine nuclear plant may be on the brink of a Chernobyl-like disaster. Russia and Ukraine are trading blame for shelling around the plant as new satellite images of the facility seen first on CNN are casting doubt on Vladimir Putin's claims.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in The Situation Room.

We begin with a new legal blow for a key Trump ally, Senator Lindsey Graham losing, losing a new attempt to try to avoid facing a grand jury in Georgia next week. The ruling by a federal judge in Atlanta happened just a little while ago and it caps a very eventful week in multiple investigations linked to the former president. Let's go to our CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray. She's here with me in The Situation Room. Sara, Senator Graham is making effort, every effort to try to avoid testifying. What's the latest?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Earlier this week, the senator went to a judge and he had made the argument that he should not have to testify before the Georgia grand jury, saying that anything he did is legislative activity, it's protected under the speech and debate clause. Well, this federal judge said earlier this week, I'm not going to quash this subpoena.

So, Lindsey Graham goes back to the judge and says, will you stay the decision, will you put it on pause so I don't have to appear before the grand jury, this coming Tuesday while I file my appeal? Well, today, the judge said she was not going to do that. In her ruling, she said, Senator Graham raises a number of arguments as to why he is likely to succeed on the merits but they are all unpersuasive. So, she said she's not going to press pause on this.

Now, Lindsey Graham is one other sort of iron in the fire here, trying to delay his appearance before the jury. He also notified the appeals court that he is going to be filing an appeal. And he asked the appeals court, can you please press pause on this so I don't have to show up Tuesday before the grand jury while my appeal is playing out? We are waiting for the appeals court to make their decision on that. They want to hear from the district attorney in this case.

And, look, the reason that the district attorney believes that Lindsey Graham is a crucial witness is because Graham had reached out to the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. They had phone call. And Raffensperger came away from the phone call with the impression that Lindsey Graham wanted him to throw away a bunch of ballots in Georgia.

Now, Graham has denied this but the D.A. says, obviously, they want to know about the call, they want to know about what led up to the call and they want to know what other conversations Lindsey Graham may have been having with the Trump campaign while the Trump campaign is going through his efforts to try to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.

And, of course, we should add that all of this is coming after Rudy Giuliani, the former attorney to President Donald Trump, appeared before the grand jury for six hours earlier this week, although we still don't know what, if anything, he shared with them, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, interesting indeed, lots going on. Sara Murray, thank you very, very much.

Now, to the fallout over the classified documents former President Trump took with him to Mar-a-Lago. We're getting new information right now about deep concerns inside the Biden White House and inside the U.S. intelligence community.

Let's bring in our CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider. Tell us about the CNN new reporting we are getting. JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Wolf, one senior administration official is telling our team that there is, in fact, deep concern here about what Trump took and it could potentially put at risk the sources and methods of the U.S. intelligence community.

And beyond that, there's deep concern within the intelligence community as well. Representatives we learned from there have met with the Justice Department, the National Archives, also congressional intelligence committees to talk about these potentially sensitive documents that were missing. And this is all coming as new details in the criminal investigation into those classified documents are disclosed.



SCHNEIDER (voice over): New information revealed in documents related to the Mar-a-Lago search sharpening the focus on former President Trump as a possible subject of the criminal probe. The application for the search warrant unsealed Thursday reveals that among the crimes DOJ is investigating includes the willful retention of national intelligence information, a language that could point to the role of Trump would have been authorized to possess national defense documents while in office but not once he departed the White House and moved to Mar-a-Lago.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The papers don't specify Donald Trump in particular. You usually, as a prosecutor, don't specify a person, but we can sort of try to figure it out what they mean by the word they did give us.

SCHNEIDER: Trump's former attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who's a target of another criminal probe out of Georgia investigating election fraud, he lashed out defending the former president.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: And now, they want to make him responsible for having taken classified documents and preserve them. Really, if you look at the Espionage Act, it is not really about taking the documents, it is about destroying them, or hiding them, or giving them to the enemy.


GIULIANI: It is not about taking them and putting them in a place that's roughly as safe as they were in the first place.

SCHNEIDER: Trump and his team continue to push publicly for releasing the full search warrant affidavit, which would have a lot more detail, but they didn't file any motions to that effect in court. A source tells CNN that remains a possibility, while Trump is continuing to hunt for additions to the legal team, including someone with experience in Florida.

ALINA HABBA, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: One thing I did like today, and I have to be positive about this, he said, look, if it's redacted too much, I am going to take it and I'm going to redact it myself.

SCHNEIDER: Since the search, threats against FBI agents have reached unprecedented levels, a source tells CNN. That's why a House oversight panel is calling on social media companies to take immediate action and identify the number of threats made on their platforms since August 8th, the day of the search. The demand comes in a letter to social media companies, including Meta, Twitter and TikTok.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): And when it comes to that search warrant affidavit, prosecutors now have less than one week to submit proposed redactions to the judge so he can decide what might be released publicly. But, Wolf, it could really be a tall task for the DOJ to decide which to redactions to recommend because they previously said that any of the redactions that they recommended would be so extensive that, in their words, it would make the affidavit devoid of content. So, we'll see what the DOJ comes up with and what the judge might ultimately release here.

BLITZER: That will take a few days. We'll find out next week. Thanks very much, Jessica Schneider reporting for us.

Let's break all of this down with our legal and political experts. Dave Aronberg, you're a legal expert. Does Senator Lindsey Graham's argument against testifying actually hold up?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Not at all, Wolf. He really doesn't have any reasons to block the grand jury subpoena. And the speech or debate clause, which he is relying on, that protects legitimate legislative activity, not campaign-related phone calls to election officials in a state that he doesn't even represent. So, you can see why the judge ruled against him, and even ruled against giving him a stay. So, he is going to have to show up.

He is an important witness in Georgia, and not because he is a target. And, in fact, I don't think he will be prosecuted there because his call to Raffensperger was not recorded, unlike Trump's call. But he is still an important witness and he should testify. Look, he chose to make that call to election official on behalf of Donald Trump. So, essentially, he bought the ticket. Now, he's got to take the ride.

BLITZER: Yes, you make an important point.

Gloria Borger is with us as well. I want you watch and our viewers to watch what Raffensperger actually told me about his conversation with Lindsey Graham back in 2020. Watch this.


BLITZER: You came away with the impression that he essentially wanted you to look for ways to toss out mail-in ballots. What exactly did he say to you?

SECRETARY OF STATE BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R-GA): Well, he asked if the ballots could be matched back to the voters and then I got the sense it implied that then you could throw those out.

Well, it's just an implication that look hard and see how many ballots you can throw out.


BLITZER: How does that line up, Gloria, with the pressure Trump was actually putting on Georgia officials?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It does line up. Look, this call was on November 13th after the 2020 election, and you have the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also a supporter of Donald Trump, calling the secretary of state of Georgia saying let's take a look at this. And what Raffensperger has also said is that it sounded to him like Graham wanted to explore the possibility, as he put it, of a Trump win.

Now, he says this is related to his official duties. It doesn't seem like Raffensperger sees it that way.


And we do know, of course, you have to remember, the infamous phone call that Donald Trump made on January 2nd, 2021, which I would have to say was just a little bit more direct when he asked Raffensperger to find 11,000-plus more votes.

BLITZER: Yes. And that phone call was recorded, as we all know as well.

Carrie Cordero, you're an expert in this area. CNN has now learned, as you heard, that the U.S. intelligence committee has actually been in talks with the U.S. Justice Department about possible missing sensitive documents. Just how great potentially are the national security risks in all of this?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it depends on what exactly the documents were. But based on the return on the search warrant from the execution of the search at Mar-a-Lago, we know that there were highly classified documents that were among the boxes that have now been returned to the government under that search. So, according -- if they're classified at the top secret level, that means the government assesses they could cause exceptionally graved damaged to the United States if that information got out.

And so, first, the intelligence community is going to want to know what was the security provisions regarding those documents? Is there any risk that those documents have been communicated in some way, whether verbally or in writing or in any way, gone outside of people who were trusted individuals. They were already just by the fact that they were at Mar-a-Lago, outside of secure ways of storing them and the president -- the former president was no longer authorized to have them.

So, they've already gotten at the question is, is did they get into any hands that would be damaging to U.S. security? But I have to say, Wolf, the U.S. intelligence community is often reluctant to publicly describe how damaging a breach of classified information actually is. So, it's going to be a long time and I don't know exactly what details we will end up knowing regarding how damaging this breach was.

BLITZER: Yes, a very important point, indeed.

Dave Aronberg, considering the highly sensitive, very classified documents implicated in this investigation, do you expect the public will learn much if this judge does release what are called redacted portions of the affidavit?

ARONBERG: Wolf, I don't think so. I think the judge wanted to show that he was being fair and evenhanded and he wasn't going to be an absolute. So, he said, look, I will look at it and have redactions suggested by the government. But what that tells me is that it's going to be like Swiss cheese. He is going to redact pretty much the whole document. Because the stuff that's in there is really important. It gives away sources. You can't put sources at risk in this environment. You can put witnesses at risk. You can't give targets a heads-up so they collaborate and it would jeopardize the future defendants' right to a fair trial.

So, I think what you're going to see are five to ten words on every page and the rest is blacked out. And so I know that people in Trump's orbit are cheering what the judge said yesterday but they're doing so prematurely, because although it may be unsealed in reality, in practicality though, it will still be confidential because the good stuff will be kept out.

BLITZER: Because, as you know, Gloria, there's incredible public interest right now in learning more about this search. But is any amount of information going to actually calm Trump supporters who are already stoking all sorts of conspiracy theories out there?

BORGER: No. In fact, what it could do is feed those conspiracy theories. Because while there are perfectly good reasons, as you've just outlined, about why you need to redact, the conspiracy folks say are going to say, well, why didn't they tell us this and why didn't they tell us that and why are we only seeing three words here, and so folks who want to believe what they want to believe and create conspiracies can create some more.

BLITZER: Yes, they probably will. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, we're going to take a deeper dive on the legal implications of all of this, if a redacted version of the Mar-a-Lago affidavit, for example is released. Constitutional Law Expert, the Harvard professor, Laurence Tribe, standing by live.

And later, Russia and Ukraine are accusing each other right now of bringing the world to the brink of a new nuclear disaster on the scale of Chernobyl. Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: Right now, we're following all the new developments connected to the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago and the classified documents found there.

Let's discuss with Laurence Tribe, the renowned constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School. Professor Tribe, thanks so much for joining us.

A senior administration official tells CNN there's what they call deep concern that the highly classified documents that were at Mar-a-Lago -- that were there at Mar-a-Lago that the president of the United States hasn't necessarily been briefed on the criminal investigation right now. Is that the right call?

LAURENCE TRIBE, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, I think it is right for the president not to be involved in the investigation and prosecution of a particular individual. But I have to say, Wolf, just taking a step back, you and others use the term, classified documents. And that's part of the confusion that the former president is trying to create. He says that he has the power to declassify them because he could do that in his capacity as president on his way out of the White House.

Every expert in this field says that no president has the power just by waving a magic wand to declassify things. But the most important point, and I can't stress this too heavily is that all three of the federal criminal laws that this search warrant we looking for, evidence to prove, all three of them are independent of whether the material was classified or not. The most important, the Espionage Act says that whether it's classified or not, top secret material defined in terms of stuff that if it gets into the wrong hands could endanger our security of everyone of us, our national security.


That kind of material can't be removed from the White House, even by a sitting president, let alone by someone who has lost the presidency, and taken outside of what's a skiff, to an secure location like Mar-a- Lago.

So, it is really important to know that when people are worried about the security of United States, whether, for example, nuclear secrets are out there, and some of them appear to have been destroyed illegally by somebody at Mar-a-Lago, when they're worried about that, it is no answer to say, well, the president declassified them. Remember, too, that he thinks he remains president. He thinks he is president still. That's why he keeps coming up with these inconsistent defenses. He says, they're my materials anyway, give them back. He says, I have a right to hold on to them. But on the other hand, he's failed to bring any lawsuit to get them back or to challenge the legality of this search and seizure. He's trying to have it every which way. Those arguments don't wash.

BLITZER: Is the Justice Department right, professor, to be deeply concerned about witnesses and the possibility that evidence might be destroyed?

TRIBE: Sure. I mean, we know just -- we have seen the evidence in our -- with our own eyes of government documents that are torn to pieces in the president's toilet. We know that it was his habit sometimes to chew the stuff up. The intelligence community is telling us that some of the top secret material they're looking for seems to be missing. We're very right to be worried. Maybe it is in Saudi hands. Maybe it's in the Russians' hands. Maybe some of it went to his best friend Xi from China, whose love letters he kept. We just don't know what's happened to their stuff.

And it is very important that we not have a system in which somebody says, well, I think I won the election, therefore, I can do whatever I want and you can't really hold me accountable. It is critical that the FBI be allowed to conduct this search. I'm glad they were. And the president's own lawyer, Christina Bobb, who was in the courtroom, said nothing on the question of whether the documents should be unsealed or not.

So, the president is trying on his social media platform to say, I want everything to come out, but on the other hand, although he's not reluctant to bring lawsuits, he has never filed any motion, any lawsuit to challenge this search, to challenge the seizure or to unseal the documents. So, he's really trying to pull the wool over our eyes in every possible direction and he's playing with fire. This is very dangerous stuff. It is really not a game. The president is treating it like a game.

BLITZER: Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School, thank you so much, as usual, for joining us. We'll certainly continue this conversation down the road.

Coming up, fear of a disaster on the scale of Chernobyl as fighting intensifies right now around the Ukrainian nuclear power plant. First on CNN tonight, new satellite images dispel Russian claims that Ukraine is to blame.



BLITZER: First on CNN tonight, new satellite images dispelling the Russian claims that Ukraine is behind shelling around Europe's largest nuclear power plant currently under Moscow's control.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen reports the fighting is raising fear of a nuclear disaster on the scale of Chernobyl.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, Russia and Ukraine accusing each other of bringing the world to the brink of a nuclear disaster. Both sides claiming the other is targeting the atomic nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia in Southern Ukraine. Vladimir Putin with a staunch warning after a call with French President Emmanuel Macron. Vladimir Putin in particular stressed that the systematic shelling by the Ukrainian military on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant creates the danger of a large scale catastrophe that could lead to radiation contamination of vast territories, the official Kremlin readout says.

These new images by private satellite company Maxar seem to show little to no additional damage on the area of the plant since mid- July. But the Ukrainians say Russia has moved heavy weapons into the power plant and is shelling Ukrainian towns nearby.

It's unacceptable that Russia puts all of us on the verge of a nuclear catastrophe of a global scale, Ukraine's president said.

As the brutal war in Ukraine drags on with neither side recently making significant territorial gains, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe with six reactors, lies right on the front line. One thing both Russians and Ukrainians can agree on, a full-blown nuclear catastrophe here could be as bad or worse than the Chernobyl in 1986, which contaminated large areas in Eastern Europe.


The Russians accusing Ukraine of planning a false flag attack for today. On August 19th, the Kyiv regime is preparing a provocation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant during a visit of the U.N. secretary- general, Antonio Guterres, to Ukraine. As a result of which, the Russian Federation will be accused of creating a man-made disaster at this power plant, Russia spokesman for the defense ministry said.

The Ukrainians reject those claims and the U.N. secretary-general, who was in Southern Ukraine today, once again, called for the power plant and its surroundings to be demilitarized.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: If we demilitarize, as we proposed, the plant, the problem will be solved.

PLEITGEN: But Russia said it won't pull its army out of the plant, instead Kremlin-controlled media blaming the U.S. and its allies for the standoff and threatening the west with nuclear strikes.

NATO should have no illusions, the anchor says. You won't get away with this. And you can't hide from us anywhere. We have enough warheads for everyone to get what they deserve.


PLEITGEN (on camera): So, some pretty strong words there from the Russians. But on a more positive note, after that call, Wolf, between French President Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin, both sides said that Moscow now agrees to let IAEA inspectors to that nuclear power plant there in Zaporizhzhia. That could happen as early September. Of course, all of that only if the security situation there doesn't further deteriorate, Wolf.

BLITZER: CNN's Fred Pleitgen reporting from Moscow, thank you very, very much.

Let's discuss right now with CNN Military Analyst, retired U.S. Army Major General Spider Marks.

Spider, a senior U.S. defense official says the U.S. is monitoring the Zaporizhzhia nuclear situation, quote, very, very closely. Give us a closer look at why this is of such great concern.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES SPIDER MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. It is extremely important. I mean, getting the overview, as we can see, is Zaporizhia is located right here. What's important as we get down a little bit more closely on the map, it's important to notice that where Zaporizhia is located and what Putin is describing is that he is saying the Ukrainians are firing on the reactor. And, in many cases, what is happening is the Russians are, no doubt, firing on the Ukrainian positions yet they are exercising the Ukrainians a whole host of what I would call firing discipline so that this type of activity is not done.

Let's go down and look at the satellite images that we have seen before. What's important, as Fred indicated, is that this location does not indicate that there is much activity in terms of destruction or some type of military activity that is taking place. The real concern that we have is what's taking place inside the plant. As you can see, this is surreptitious video probably taken from a backpack or somebody's pocket. And if you look at this right here, this is not an IAEA vehicle. This is not a nuclear inspection vehicle. This is a military vehicle, as you can see. A total of about five of these are located inside the plant. That is the significance of this activity that's taking place right now. The risks are extremely high.

BLITZER: It is interesting. One other point I wanted to make, western officials believe Russia's Black Sea aviation fleet right now is facing what are being described as some significant setbacks. What are you seeing?

MARKS: Yes. What has happened most recently is, as we have seen before, is there have been some attacks on Crimea by the Ukrainian forces against the Russian forces. Now, bear in mind, Russian forces have been in Crimea since 2008. So, it's important to realize that what Ukraine can do in Crimea indicates access and probably a lot of coordination that's taking place with separatists. So, the attacks that have taken place, as we can see with this imagery, is here it was back in May, a whole host of aircraft that are positioned in Crimea. And as of just last week, only one aircraft remains a portion of another. That's it, because the Ukrainians are having great success.

What that means is that at the tactical level, the Ukrainians are having tremendous success against the Russians, as we've seen. The Russians, however, have the momentum in terms of the operational location of their forces. So, what we are seeing with this success, there is probably an operational stalemate that's taking place right now.

BLITZER: Major General Spider Marks, as usual, thank you very, very much, excellent analysis. Just ahead, vulnerable Republicans trying to avoid former President Trump in the upcoming midterm elections, one of them telling CNN, and I'm quoting, I don't say his name, ever.



BLITZER: The Trump factor is certainly looming over the upcoming midterm elections here in the United States with some Republican candidates aligning themselves as closely as possible with the former president, some pivoting away from him, and others trying to avoid him as much as they possibly can.

Let's go to CNN Capitol Hill Reporter Melanie Zanona. She's up on Capitol Hill. Melanie, with, what, 80 days until the midterm elections in November, you have some new reporting right now about the Republican strategy. What are you learning?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Wolf, I am told that Tom Emmer, he is the head of the House GOP's campaign arm, has been privately counseling some Republican candidates in battleground districts to avoid the Trump talk and to not be distracted by the former president and to instead focus on the issues, like inflation and crime, when they're out on the campaign trail.


And so it is very clear that GOP leaders want this upcoming midterm to be a referendum on Joe Biden and not on Donald Trump, even though he does continue to remain a powerful force inside the party.

And I have talked to a number of these Republican candidates and they said they do try to avoid talking about Trump. One of them told me that they only mention him when they're asked about Trump. Another said they don't mention him by name ever and they try to just focus on his policies. But that is getting increasingly difficult to do with Trump dominating headlines, coming under investigation and even teasing a potential presidential run before the midterms. And so there is a lot of Republican concern about how this is all potentially going to impact their efforts to retake the House majority.

But, Wolf, we should also point out that this concern about Trump's role in the midterms is not just limited to the House. In the Senate, we heard from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who has said the fall fight is going to be extremely close in part because of some of these Trump-backed candidates who have struggled in their races. Take a listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think there's probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate.

Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome. Right now, we have a 50-50 Senate in a 50-50 country. But I think when all is said and done this fall, we'll likely to have an extremely close Senate.


ZANONA: Now, McConnell did not mention Trump by name but it is clear he is frustrated with how things are shaking out and he's trying to set expectations ahead of November. Wolf?

BLITZER: Good point. Melanie Zanona, thank you very much.

So, let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, CNN Senior Commentator John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio. Governor Kasich, thanks for joining us. What does it say to you that your party strategy for the midterms seems to be shifting away right now from embracing Trump to instead trying to focus on substantive issues that really matter to voters?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: Wolf, I had to laugh at the person that says, I will never mention Trump's name. It reminded me of Voldemort in Harry Potter. But, look, in a general election, candidates are going to try to move to the middle. So, Republicans are smart to not get into this whole Trump world and to talk about the issues of inflation and job growth and all that, but I have to also tell you, Wolf, there's a Democrat incumbent candidate who is running in Ohio and giving the stiff arm to Joe Biden, because Biden is not very popular in places.

So, it is just not unusual, Wolf, when you are running in a general election for people to try to hug the person that's popular but those people who are not very popular, it's like picking the gum off their shoe. They don't want to be attached to them. And it thin that's what we're seeing happening.

The other thing, Wolf, I think, is important is, I've said it a couple of weeks ago, the Senate is absolutely not in Republican control at this point. It's -- everything is up and it's because these candidates are not so great, but in the House, I think you are going to see a Republican pickup.

BLITZER: We will find out. But do you agree with Mitch McConnell right now, what he says?

KASICH: I do. And here's the interesting thing. Some are really bad candidates and they got picked because Donald Trump got them picked and then Trump went, look, my people won, but the problem is some of them are not very electable in a general election.

So, that will be something the Republican Party will have to assess when this is over to figure out who Donald Trump is and is he very popular. But, again, I think you are going to see it in on both sides. Both parties are going to be -- the Democrats, some, are going to run away from Joe Biden, and Republicans are going to run away from Donald Trump, and they should stick to the issues that I think that matter the most to them.

BLITZER: John Kasich, the former Ohio governor, thanks so much for joining us, as usual. Coming up, top Democratic lawmakers sounding the alarm right now over a surge in online threats against law enforcement in the wake of the FBI search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. We have got new information. We'll share it with you when we come back.



BLITZER: Tonight, top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are sounding the alarm big time over the disturbing number of violent online threats against U.S. law enforcement following the FBI search of former President Trump's Florida home.

CNN's Brian Todd is working the story. Brian, these threats are now being described as unprecedented.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. Law enforcement sources telling CNN many times in recent days that FBI agents and other law enforcement personnel are under siege with the threats, so many threats coming on social media platforms and tonight, members of Congress are saying enough.


TODD (voice-over): An urgent call from key members of Congress to social media companies. Do something about the threats to law enforcement.

Congresswoman Maloney and other top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee sent letters today to the chief executives of eight companies urging them to, quote, take immediate action.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I'm all for the First Amendment. What I'm not for is insurrection-type violent-type speech promoted, passed on in these mediums to lead to a destabilize situation.

TODD: In the letters, members of Congress cite a post on the Donald Trump founded platform Truth Social saying, quote, F the feds, and one from another user, quote, arm yourselves. We are about to enter into civil war.

JOHN SCOTT-RAILTON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, CITIZEN LAB, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: My chief concern is if this rhetoric continues, if the enemies of the people language I worry that more people will be killed.


TODD: The letters from Congress to the social media companies it comes days after a law enforcement source told CNN there's unprecedented there's unprecedented number of threats the FBI investigating against its personnel and property. Also, the a join bulletin from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security obtained by CNN warned of a threat to, quote, place a dirty bomb in front of FBI headquarters. The bulletin cites calls for civil war, armed rebellion, specifically enforcement agents have been threatened with death. Analysts say far-right extremists, including what's premise is, who have access to firearms and explosives, to target FBI agents on the field.

JON LEWIS, RESEARCH FELLOW, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Now, if you are a FBI agent, every single door knock you do, every single individual you go to interview, as it relates to the January 6 investigation, now you have to worry about if they want you dead when you knock on the door.

TODD: The head of the FBI association told CNN that threats against agents are real and imminent. It came in the wake of an attack on the FBI field office in Cincinnati. In recent days, a Pennsylvania man was arrested for allegedly making threats of social media, saying FBI personnel, quote, deserve to die. My only goal is to kill more of them before I drop.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hearing agents talk about now carrying additional firepower, additional ammunition. The simple task of walking out of a field office and go into lunch now requires an extra layer of situational awareness.


TODD (on camera): Now, another big concern that members of Congress pressed social media companies on today? Doxxing, the practice of releasing someone's personal information online or on social media. Members told the companies that FBI agents have been targeted with doxxing in recent days, including information about one agent's wife and child -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So, so disturbing, indeed. Hard to believe this is going on. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

Just ahead, what's driving the often deadly rise in anti-Semitism here in the United States? Dana Bash would tell us about our special report on this very important issue. We will be right back.



BLITZER: CNN's taking an in-depth look at the very disturbing rise of anti-Semitism here in this country.

Dana Bash explores some of the reasons behind the spike, including the tone right now in American politics. Take a look at this clip focusing on journalists Julia Ioffe who's the target of anti-Jewish hate back in 2016 after publishing an article on Melania Trump.


JULIA IOFFE, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, PUCK NEWS: Some people feel very brave sitting behind their keyboards.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was motivated by her family, who fled anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, when she was young.

IOFFE: I owed it but to my parents and sisters to not be quiet about it.

BLITZER: Some of your supporters have viciously attack this woman Julia Ioffe with anti-Semitic attacks and death threats.

BASH: Soon after the attacks, Wolf Blitzer interviewed the presumptive nominee.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I don't know anything about that. Are these fans of mine?

BLITZER: Supposed fans of yours --

BASH: And when pressed again, this is --

BLITZER: Your message to these fans?

TRUMP: I don't have a message to defense. There is nothing more dishonest than the media.

BASH: So, his silence was taken how?


BASH: Brittan Heller is a human rights advocate and professors who compiles data about online hate.

You actually saw data back that up?

HELLER: Yes. We would see the number of attacking tweets on Jewish journal spike. It was the largest spike that we saw in our data set. People took that as a greenlight.

JASON GREENBLATT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE MIDDLE EAST ENVOY: I have seen press that always tries to say Donald Trump silence for his words used as an obstruction to do something bad, I don't buy it.


BLITZER: Dana is joining us now.

So, Dana, what are the experts you spoke to in preparing this documentary, which is really important and timely and so excellent -- what did they tell you? Why there has been a rise in anti-Semitism in our country in recent years?

BASH: One of the reasons is part of what we heard which is silent from political leaders who know their supporters are attacking journalists other people in a very hateful way, and in this case, it is anti- Semitism, not condemning that. But it is also the time that we live in, the internet, these anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracies that have been around for dozens of years, Wolf, they can fly much more freely online. Just more recently, because people are online so much and because we

have had this pandemic, COVID played a big part and people who are getting more information had a lot more time to spare and also one of the age-old conspiracies about Jews is that they bring disease or they run the world, or that they want money. All of those fed -- COVID fed into all of those.

BLITZER: It's so, so disturbing.

You wrote a moving, very powerful personal piece about your son coming to you and saying, he wanted to wear a Jewish Star of David.

BASH: He did. He did this past Hanukkah and he said, I want one. He did not do it in an aggressive way, the way that a child does when they want something. He was asking, you think this is okay? Halfway through the holiday, when I have not gotten it, because I never bought it, he said -- you think that this is going to happen.

I said, you really want one? He said, yes. I said, why do you want to wear a Star of David? He said because there are kids in my school who are Christian and they wear crosses, and they are totally comfortable with it. I am very comfortable with my identity.

I was nervous about it because we are Jewish and we know there is a lot of anti-Semitism. I was nervous, but I said yes, and he has had no problems. He's happy with it.

BLITZER: Such a sweet little guy. I know him. Thank you very much. Excellent work.

An important work to our viewers, Dana's special report, "Rising Hate: Anti-Semitism in America" airs this Sunday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.