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DOJ Says, Attorney-Client Privilege May Cover Limited Trump Documents; NASA Delays Moon Rocket Launch After Engine Issue; GOP Increasingly Pessimistic About Securing Huge House Majority; How A "Special Master" Could Impact Trump Documents Probe; Dozens Shot In A String Of Violent Weekend Shootings. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired August 29, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: It's a major snag. The space agency says engine trouble forced officials to postpone the launch of its next generation unmanned rocket.
Also tonight, a dangerous and deadly weekend, the violent crime here in the United States, cities all across the country reeling tonight after a series of mass shootings.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Pamela Brown, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin our coverage this hour with new developments of the Mar-a- Lago investigation. The Justice Department weighing in on materials seized during that search, and determining a limited number of documents could be impacted by attorney/client privilege.
CNN's Sara Murray has more on the Justice Department's new assessment.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Justice Department suggesting it's already well underway in digging through boxes of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The point is well taken, which is this is too late, we're already looking at this material, and we have got a process in place to protect it.
MURRAY: In a new court filing, DOJ says it has identified a limited set of materials that could contain attorney/client privilege information. The progress report coming after former President Donald Trump's team asked a judge for a special master to oversee the evidence uncovered in the search.
JAMES TRUSTY, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: We have a lot of problems accepting everything in face value that's coming out of DOJ these days. It's a very politicized place, I'm sad to say, and there's still a need for a judge to get involved on every aspect of this.
MURRAY: This as the fallout continues over how Trump handled classified documents after leaving documents.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): This guy, we now know, 184 classified documents, 25 of them top secret. And, by the way, countries that want to do us harm want to see these documents.
MURRAY: Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines telling Congress officials are conducting a damage assessment, including an assessment of the potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure of relevant documents. DOJ saying in its court filing, it's working alongside intelligence officials to facilitate a review of classified materials.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): This is disgusting in my mind, and no president should act this way, obviously.
MURRAY: Some of Trump's closest allies, meantime, are leaping to his defense, like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I'll say this. If there's a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information after the Clinton debacle --
MURRAY: Who suggested a Trump indictment would set political tensions aflame.
GRAHAM: There will be riots in the streets.
MURRAY: While New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu questions the timing of the Mar-a-Lago search.
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Former President Trump has been out of office for going on two years now. You think this is a coincidence, just happening a few months before the midterm elections and all that sort of thing? So, you know, this is unprecedented.
MURRAY: Republican Senator Roy Blunt also raising concerns about the timing but admitting Trump should have returned the documents immediately.
SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): I understand he turned over a lot of documents. He should have turned over all of them. I imagine he knows that very well now as well.
MURRAY (on camera): Now, when it comes to this trove of documents the FBI took after the search of Mar-a-Lago and the potentially privileged material, a judge has already said she's inclined to appoint a special master. There's a hearing on this set for Thursday, Pam.
BROWN: All right. Sara Murray, thanks so much for that report.
Let's get more now from our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, CNN Counterterrorism Analyst Phil Mudd, our Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe and CNN Contributor John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel. Quite a powerhouse crew here. Dana, I want to talk with you first just to get your reaction here. Look, the Trump team wants a special master. What do you think the play here is? Do you think that this is really just a delay tactic?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's definitely a delay tactic and it plays into what you heard Governor Sununu say to me, what you heard Senator Blunt, and pretty much every other Republican who is asked about this, and that is they argue that we need to know more about the process. They argue that this is politicized without evidence to prove that it's politicized. They're just looking at the calendar. So, what the Trump team is clearly trying to do is play into that overarching strategy about the process.
Now, is it -- could it be more sustainable, more helpful, to all of the parties to have a special master? Perhaps, because if the special master is there and all of these -- the process moves forward as if the DOJ was doing it themselves, then the Republicans who are criticizing don't have a lot to stand on after that.
BROWN: What do you think, Andrew?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, it's a little bit too rich to hear people complaining about the delay in this process and the fact that it's politicized now because it's getting closer to the midterms.
This could have been over in the beginning of 2021 when the National Archives reached out to the Trump team and asked for their materials back. It could have been over without an investigation, without a search warrant, without a seal docket or any of that stuff, and, really, without any chance of any sort of legal peril for the president. I'm sure they would have accepted the materials back and that would have been the end of it.
The fact is that it's being proactively delayed closer and closer to the end of the year and the election cycle by the legal maneuvering of the Trump team. I don't think DOJ has any worries about the special master whatsoever. They're doing their job. They have their filter team in place. They've already reviewed all of the material. I'm sure they're confident that a special master isn't going to come to any different conclusions about that. So, it's really a no-lose situation for DOJ except in terms of the time clock.
BROWN: Right. And on that note, look, DOJ has made clear it doesn't think a special master is necessary, John, but what do you think? I mean, do you think it could be a good thing at least to instill confidence in this process at the very least?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think it would hurt anything. The problem is the timing. Trump has waited to the last minute, three weeks after the search was undertaken and going to a different judge and conspicuously forum shopping for a judge he happened to appoint. And, initially, she said, hey, I don't even know what you're asking for. It was kind of what they call a bench slap. And they got that squared away. And they've come back and they've asked for a -- not attorney/client privilege. They want to exert executive privilege.
That's just absurd. That's just a pure stall tactic. There is no executive privilege against the executive. This isn't the Congress reaching out for these documents. So, there's some scurry stuff going on that just looks like a stall tactic, Pam.
BROWN: Yes. DOJ has made clear, look, we are the executive branch. These documents belong to us.
Dana, you spoke to Republican Governor Chris Sununu on CNN's State of the Union. It was a great interview, so interesting to hear what he had to say. Does it sound like he and other Republicans are more concerned with the DOJ's misconduct than with Trump's mishandling of these sensitive intelligence secrets, the same concern, as you'll all recall, Republicans had with Hillary Clinton and how she handled classified documents.
BASH: Well, the question of what they're saying in public and what their actual concerns are might be two different questions. What is very clear is that Republicans, particularly those who are on the ballot and even some like Roy Blunt, who is in Sara's piece, who is retiring but, clearly, still wants to sort of be a Republican team player, what they are all doing is talking process, is talking about how this all came about, even though, as Andy said, what is clear or not when I interviewed Governor Sununu, I put up on the screen the timeline that shows that this was a 20-plus-month process that was delayed by Donald Trump and his lawyers, not by DOJ.
But regardless, the key is that when pressed, they will say, of course we're concerned about national security, but that is not their political talking point, frankly, right now. It's about process.
BROWN: Yes. And we heard Governor Sununu calling for greater transparency. That was a big part of what he was telling you, Dana.
Phil, wouldn't that put this ongoing investigation at risk, though, if there was greater transparency? Already, this redacted affidavit coming out is pretty unusual, right?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, I learned at the CIA, Pam, there is no learning in the second kick to the mule. We went through this process with the Clinton investigation, which everybody -- or many people -- criticized because of excessive openness. As soon as the Department of Justice, the attorney general speak about the case, the next questions are going to be speak more, that's not enough. And if he speaks to the media, the committees will then say, since you've opened the door to speaking to the media, now you have to come down for hearings.
Furthermore, you have to tell us when you close the case, the same thing that got the Department of Justice in trouble in the Clinton investigation. The other thing I would say is even more important in my view, and that is DOJ has said repeatedly that this is an open investigation.
So, let's play this film, Pam. Somebody walks in to me as an FBI investigator and says, I would like you to talk to me in private, to me only, about what you saw at Mar-a-Lago and we'll keep it confidential. Seriously? I would laugh that person out of the room. As soon as you talk about what witnesses might have said, why would another witness talk to you? I think there's a lot of downside to speaking. And the only people who want more speaking is the Republicans because that will hurt DOJ.
BROWN: Well, I don't know, though, if Trump would want more speaking, right?
And that's part of the calculation here of the FBI, is you've got to protect the person you're also investigating.
Everyone, stand by -- go ahead. Yes, private citizen, exactly, who has not been charged. A private citizen who has not been charged.
All right, you all stand by, a lot more to discuss here, to talk about next, including one of Trump's staunchest defenders, warning of, quote, riots in the streets if the former president is indicted.
Plus, the first step of NASA's plan to return to the moon hits snags and launch postponed. But there's another chance coming up Friday. We're going to go live to the Kennedy Space Center for the very latest.
BROWN: More now on the Justice Department investigation of former President Trump's handling of White House documents and the fallout from the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home.
Let's bring back our panel now. John, first to you this time. Just listen again to how Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump ally, spoke about the impact of a possible indictment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: And I'll say this. If there's a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information after the Clinton debacle, which you presided over and did a hell of a good job, there would be riots in the streets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: During Watergate, you saw Republicans eventually choose country over party and over Nixon. What goes through your mind now hearing this from Senator Graham?
DEAN: It's hard to tell whether he's playing observer or provocateur. I think a little of the last. He'd like to -- this is the way dictators protect themselves. They stir mobs, create violence in the street and then people are afraid to act against them. I don't think that's going to work with our Department of Justice. I think Merrick Garland, when he says he'll proceed without fear or favor, means what he says. He's not going to be frightened by such threats and he'll deal with it as it arises. So, I think this is foolishness by Senator Graham and other Republicans to mount such a vicious, violent defense, which is only going to cause everybody more problems.
BROWN: And, you know, the bottom line is he may not be swayed by it, but, Andrew, how dangerous is it to hint at violence like this when we've already seen an FBI field office attacked in the aftermath of this search?
MCCABE: He is stoking an already simmering fire. I mean, that's the -- that's the bottom line. We know the high degree of frustration and grievance that already exists in that community. We know that the most extreme elements of the former president's supporters have already exhibited a desire to -- they talk about violence a lot. They kind of exhort each other to take violent steps, and some of them actually do it. So, it's dangerous and irresponsible.
But I have to tell you, I agree entirely with John. I don't think this kind of gaslighting is going to have any effect on Merrick Garland at all. At the end of the day, Merrick Garland knows that justice cannot be held hostage. You cannot refuse to pursue a prosecution simply because you're afraid of what that target target's supporters might do. That is an absolutely unthinkable result in a democratic and free society, and I don't think Garland would do that.
BROWN: I have a feeling you have some thoughts on this, Phil.
MUDD: Yes, replay the videotape. We did this after the last election, when politicians didn't advocate violence, but they did validate it. They told people it's okay to believe that your election is stolen and the result of that was a storming of the Capitol among people who said, my leaders told me what to believe.
Politicians can hide behind the fig leaves of saying, I didn't tell them to go there. You're still responsible. Now we fast forward to today. Lindsey Graham didn't advocate violence. He just validated it. Instead of saying, trust the institution, he said, if you're angry, you have a right to do so. And if someone goes after another FBI office, I'm going to say, why didn't you learn the first time around, Senator? Why? We've been through this before, Pam. We're going to get it again if leaders don't learn.
BROWN: What do you think, Dana? Does this show just how much Republicans are struggling to figure out how to defend Trump in this right now?
BASH: They're struggling, but it's not that big of a leap when you have the former president himself leading the way on this, much like he did, as all of our leagues have said, after the election, when he just flat-out lied about the election. And now he is throwing anything he can against the wall about what clearly appears to be a very exhaustive attempt by the National Archives followed up by the FBI and DOJ to get back information, to get back documents, that is the property of the United States government and not Donald Trump, the person.
And so that is absolutely being driven by the former president and the people who want to please him, who want to please the supporters who believe in him because those are people who might be their voters too. They're all getting their rhetorical marching orders from the former president.
BROWN: All right. Dana Bash, Phil Mudd, Andrew McCabe, John Dean, thank you all.
Coming up, new details of why NASA had to scrub today's moon mission launch and the scramble to make another attempt this week.
BROWN: Tonight, NASA says a launch this Friday for its historic Artemis 1 moon mission is still in play after an engine problem forced it to scrub this morning's launch.
CNN Space and Defense Correspondent Kristin Fisher has the latest from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. So, what are you picking up there, Kristin?
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, we're likely going to have to wait another 24 hours or so before we know for sure when NASA is going to give it another go. They're going to be holding a press conference around 6:00 P.M. tomorrow night. That's when we will learn when the next launch attempt will be.
But, Pam, this may be a brand-new rocket but it was a very old piece of equipment that caused so many problems today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mission and liftoff of the space shuttle Discovery --
FISHER (voice over): engine 2058 has helped propel six space shuttles into orbit, starting with this flight back in 2006.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scrub of the attempt of the launch of Artemis 1.
FISHER: But today, the system that cools that engine was the primary culprit behind the scrub of the first test flight of the Artemis moon rocket.
MICHAEL SARAFIN, ARTEMIS MISSION MANAGER: We need the engine to be at the cryogenically cool temperature such that when it starts, it's not shocked with all the cold fuel that flows through it.
[18:25:05] FISHER: NASA says it's too soon to determine when it will try again. But Artemis Mission Manager Mike Sarafin gave a classic NASA response when addressing if the next launch opportunity on Friday is still in play.
SARAFIN: There's a non-zero chance we'll have a launch opportunity on Friday.
FISHER: The Artemis rocket, or SLS, has largely been cobbled together using leftover parts from the shuttle program. The four RS-25 engines and Artemis 1 combined flew more than 20 shuttle missions. NASA had hoped that by recycling these old parts, they'd be able to build this new rocket faster and more affordably. Instead, the SLS rocket is six years behind schedule and billions over budget.
LORI GARVER, FORMER DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR, NASA: We know these shuttle parts were very finicky and expensive. And so it shouldn't have been any surprise that putting them together differently was going to also be expensive and take longer than we hoped.
FISHER: Still, this rocket is the most powerful ever built. It's designed to return humans to the moon by 2025 and someday go on to Mars.
Thousands of people converged on the Kennedy Space Center today in hopes of seeing it fly for the first time, including Vice President Kamala Harris.
KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Today was a very important day. While a lot of folks might be disappointed that the launch did not actually happen, a lot of good work really happened today.
FISHER: NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, whose own shuttle flight scrubbed four times, reminded that these kinds of delays are routine for any space flight, but especially a first test flight.
BILL NELSON, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: This is a brand-new rocket. It's not going to fly until it's ready. Needless to say, the complexity is daunting when you bring it all into the focus of a countdown.
FISHER (on camera): And the complexity is perhaps even more daunting when you think about what NASA is trying to do with this entire Artemis program. After they land the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the moon hopefully by the year 2025, they then want to build a base, a lunar base on the moon, to establish a permanent human presence there. And then they want to use that base as sort of a jumping off point to go to mars hopefully by the end of the 2030s.
So, Pam, really, today's test flight really just the very opening chapter in what NASA hopes will be an exciting new chapter in space exploration.
BROWN: Certainly exciting. CNN's Kristin Fisher, thanks so much for that.
Joining us now, former Astronaut and International Space Station Commander Colonel Chris Hadfield. His latest book is called the Apollo Murders.
So, Chris, NASA says scrubbing a launch is part of programs like this. This is just part of the deal. Sometimes this happens. What do you make of the delay of this historic launch?
CHRIS HADFIELD, FORMER ASTRONAUT: Yes, spaceships are so exquisitely complicated, Pam. And to try and get everything ready all at once so that it's going to work, I mean, in race cars, in any machine we build, sometimes even just starting a chain saw, you think you got everything right but things don't work necessarily the first try. And this is a whole brand-new vehicle, the most powerful rocket ever built. And they were trying to use as much proven technology as possible. But it's still tremendously complex.
And so as a lifelong astronaut, it's not a surprise to me that we ran into a snag but they're doing the right thing. You don't want to launch if it's not ready. Even just going to the airport, I mean, airlines delay for mechanical problems. And those are machines that have flown hundreds of thousands of times.
So, yes, it's disappointing for everybody right up to the vice president but it's kind of normal for astronauts and for space agencies. And, eventually, we will get it so right that we're ready to launch and go to the moon.
BROWN: Yes. I mean, this is rocket science here. This actually is rocket science that we're talking about here.
HADFIELD: Yes, yes.
BROWN: So, it's complex. This is hard stuff, way over my head, that's for sure.
I'm wondering, though, did you ever encounter an issue like this, an engine issue during your career as an astronaut? And just how difficult is it for the launch team to fix this?
HADFIELD: Well, you know, a lot of the world, especially in the U.S., is just suddenly focused on this because it just appeared in the news. But the professionals that are involved have been working on this for years and years and years. And they've been -- it's sort of very slow and incremental.
And on one of my space launches we delayed because of a problem, and it was just sort of like, okay, well, we were ready a week ago, we were ready today, and we'll be ready again next time we try, and there's a little more time to try to get things even better, get a little more training, understand what we're going to do even a little more completely.
So, there's sort of an insatiable desire for things to happen like popcorn to a lot of people that are just watching it casually but that's not how space exploration works.
It's -- it's really professional and methodical. Even a private company, like SpaceX, people think that they can somehow cut corners and go fast, but they're taking a tremendous amount of time with each one of the rockets and getting it right, especially if there are going to be people on board. And that's the right thing to do.
And it's just -- it's part of the business. I know it's not as spontaneously entertaining as people would like, but that's not really the point. We're trying to explore the rest of the universe and sometimes that takes more time than you'd like.
BROWN: Yes, it's complicated, folks.
All right, so you have been an astronaut for decades. And I think we have some video here of you brushing your teeth in space in 2013. We have to show this.
HADFIELD: Every day.
BROWN: So, why is the Artemis rocket going to be unmanned for this flight?
HADFIELD: Well, it's the very first flight of this configuration of a rocket. You know, the way they've got these four engines on the back and then the two huge solid rocket boosters, they're similar but bigger than the ones that we had on the space shuttle, a little longer. And so when you put all that together, you don't really want to risk human life on the very first try if you can help it.
Then whenever you get on an airliner, it will have flown thousands of times with really qualified, professional people on board, test pilots. And in this case, the machinery is so far advanced that we can fly it without a crew on board just to check everything out, make sure everything works properly, make sure our guesses and our simulations were all right. And we can learn a huge amount to go all the way to the moon and get in some of those complicated orbits.
And the most critical piece, Pam, this is going to come zipping straight back from the moon to the earth at tremendous speed and use the air of the earth to slow down. It's going to get up to 5,000 degrees on the belly of that little capsule when it comes back to the earth. And we want to test that at least once before we put bodies, you know, people, inside.
So, we really want to get through this whole profile without risking human life. It's the logical thing to do. We're smart enough to be able to do it that way. We just have to fix this little leak and light that candle.
BROWN: Be a little patient here. We can do that. Former Astronaut Chris Hadfield, thank you so much for joining us, nice to see you.
HADFIELD: Nice to see you also. BROWN: And just ahead, a series of Democratic victories has Republicans worried about their chances in the midterm elections this fall. What it means for Congressman Kevin McCarthy's future and the party, up next.
BROWN: Well, President Biden is set to deliver a prime-time speech Thursday about the threat to democracy in the U.S. And the speech will be called battle for the soul of the nation, and it's going to address key freedoms that he says are under attack.
I want to bring in CNN White House Correspondent M.J. Lee, also CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean.
So., M.J., what more do we know about President Biden's speech here?
M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, we are just learning about some of the details about this prime-time address the president will deliver on Thursday in Philadelphia. A White House official telling reporters that he will speak about how the core values in this nation, our standing in the world, our democracy, are at stake.
And if you were paying attention to the president's speech late last week, you probably got a pretty good preview of some of the ideas he's going to talk about. We heard him, of course, describing the Republican Party as anti-democratic, as extremist, and standing for these unacceptable policies. This is the day when the president, you might remember, said that some Republicans had engaged in semi- fascism. He also said that getting president -- former President Trump out of the White House in 2020 amounted to saving the country's democracy.
And the White House is saying that that Thursday's speech is going to be about the battle for the soul of the nation, obviously worth noting here that that was a main theme of the president's campaign going back to 2020.
BROWN: I remember. I want to ask you, Jessica -- you're on the Hill -- ask you about this new reporting from CNN that Republican hopes for a big House majority after the midterms, they're starting to fade. What are you hearing?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the House GOP members are getting somewhat pessimistic, Pamela, about a massive victory in the fall. That had kind of always been the narrative for the last few months, that they would have this huge landslide win in the midterms. And what we're hearing from some House GOP members is that they don't really see that happening as much anymore.
Now, let's be clear. They're still expected to take the House, but it's going to be about what the margin of victory is, just how many members will they have and what numbers will they be working with. Interestingly, one House GOP member telling CNN that the Roe ruling really caught them off guard, that they didn't believe the House GOP has a great messaging and a great -- you know, message around the idea about abortion and talking about that with their constituents, that they really had been caught flat-footed by this.
And, again, this is also tricky for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is hoping, of course, to become speaker of the House. And, again, depending on the margin here, what is he going to be working with, what kind of deals is he going to have to cut in order to become speaker, if that's the case, with people maybe in the House Freedom Caucus, members like that, also too, how do you govern this very big tent Republican conference in the House? Those are some of the questions that are floating around right now.
BROWN: And I'm wondering, M.J., what is the White House doing to capitalize on an energized voter base and taking advantage of Republicans' lack of consistent messaging on abortion, per se.
LEE: Yes. You know, the first piece of that is what we talked about earlier, and that is trying to paint the Republican Party as extremist and simply unacceptable when it comes to at least the policies. And the second part of it that is really key when it comes to the White House, Democrats running for office, is really sort of trying to tout some of the party's legislative victories.
So, of course, we know that the president is going to want to talk a lot about this climate change, health care, tax bill that he signed into law earlier this summer. The veterans' burn pits bill, the chips bill, obviously, the huge infrastructure package from last year.
And we're going to see a little taste of this tomorrow as well when the president travels to Pennsylvania when he talks about public safety issues. The White House has made clear that one of the things he will, of course, mention is the bipartisan gun safety law that he signed into law earlier this year.
BROWN: All right. M.J. Lee, Jessica Dean, thank you both, ladies.
And coming up, what exactly is a special master and why is former President Trump seeking one and how could that impact the investigation into his handling of White House documents?
BROWN: More now in the probe of former President Trump's handling of White House documents. A hearing is scheduled this Thursday on his request for a special master to be appointed to review that material the FBI took during a search of his Mar-a-Lago home.
So, let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd, who's here with a closer look.
So, a special master could play a key part in this, right? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If this person is appointed, they very
likely will play a key role. We have new information tonight in the critical battles in this case that a special master could get right in the middle of.
TODD (voice-over): In the escalating battle over the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department said it's identified a, quote, limited set of materials seized in the search that could potentially obtain material containing attorney/client privilege.
And Justice officials say they are in the process of addressing privilege disputes.
SHAN WU, FORMER COUNSEL TO U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: There may be certain correspondence between the lawyers and Trump that the special master and probably the FBI would agree that would say, hey, this is an email from one of Trump's lawyers to Trump. This is clearly privileged. We're not even going to look at it.
TODD: The effort to protect privileged information, privileged communication between Donald Trump and his lawyers is the reason the former president requested a so-called special master to oversee the review of all evidence the FBI recovered in the Mar-a-Lago search. And a judge in the case has indicated she may well appoint one. What is a special master?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They're called special masters not because of their chess-playing ability but because they have a special expertise that can assist a district court judge in sorting out important material in a case that's coming before him or her.
TODD: Experts say a special master is usually a neutral third party expert who goes through seized materials in a case to ensure that investigators don't look through privileged information.
CALLAN: An investigator is not permitted to look at privileged information because, for instance, the attorney/client privilege involves a client who may be revealing things that are incriminating which he would never reveal to anybody but an attorney because the attorney, of course, protects the distribution of that information.
TODD: Special masters were appointed in the cases of Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani, former attorneys for Trump, who faced criminal charges and had their offices and homes searches.
Who are special masters? Are they usually judges, lawyers, who are they?
WU: They're usually maybe former judges, lawyers. Often times for financial issues, they wouldn't be -- they may be people who are former accountants, have that financial. You want someone who has a mastery of the subject matter area.
TODD: But legal analyst Paul Callan says in the Mar-a-Lago investigation, finding the right special master will be especially difficult.
CALLAN: There are classified materials involved here, and some of the most highest classified materials, those top secret SCI materials, you probably will need a special master who has prior clearance to look at classified documents.
TODD (on camera): Paul Callan says another very difficult challenge for a special master in the Mar-a-Lago case will be determining whether former President Trump and his lawyers can assert executive privilege, shielding materials only a president can protect. Trump officials are saying a former president can exert executive privilege, but, of course, Pamela, there's a lot of dispute over that in this case.
BROWN: Yeah, some critics say that is a very dubious legal argument. Thanks so much, Brian Todd.
Joining us now, CNN national security analyst and former director of national intelligence, James Clapper.
How challenging is it for the intelligence community to conduct a damage assessment of all these documents which were apparently improperly stored and shuffled around a beach resort for more than a year?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's going to be a challenge. There's no question about it. One of -- one of the things that concerns me, Pamela, is the chain of custody from the time the documents were in the White House and who had access to them, who packed them, how were they protected when they were transported, who had access to them at Mar-a-Lago, which that in itself I think is going to be a difficult challenge to sort out.
The intelligence community, I think, will have to approach this with a worst case assumption, meaning that the documents, assume the documents were exposed to a sophisticated adversary, a foreign intelligence service. And what is it they could glean from an examination and study, scrutiny of these documents? And doing it, of course, in such a way, particularly when the results of the assessment are promulgated that it not jeopardized the conduct of the investigation. So this is a tricky proposition, no question about it.
BROWN: We don't know, we should point out, if any foreign adversaries got their hands on these documents. But in your view, is Mar-a-Lago uniquely vulnerable?
CLAPPER: Well, in my view, it is. From what I have been able to read and discern about this, it's kind of a physical security nightmare, and we have seen instances of most recently the Ukrainian woman and some months before that, a Chinese woman who gained access to Mar-a- Lago.
And it has to be regarded by adversary foreign intelligence services as a primary intelligence target. No getting around that.
BROWN: So, in light of that, does the intelligence community need to seriously consider pulling informants out of foreign countries and relocating them for safety?
CLAPPER: Well, that's a possibility. Again, a point I always make in these discussions is we do not know the substantive content of any of these documents. We can infer things about the sensitivity based on the classification. In some cases, quite high, quite exclusive. So it is, since human control system documents were involved, that could represent revelations about foreign human intelligence assets or resources.
And if that were the case, and if a foreign adversary could figure that out, then some immediate remediation action is appropriate, which could mean extricating an asset if he or she is in danger. So, this is, again, potentially quite heavy. Where there is risk of life involved.
BROWN: And I've heard from other analysts, people in the intelligence community, there is concern it could hurt working relationships with allies when it comes to intelligence when they see how this intelligence was, you know, handled.
Thank you so much, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. We really appreciate your time tonight.
Coming up, alarming scenes of violence across the U.S. this weekend. We're going to have an update on the dangerous and deadly crime wave.
BROWN: A dangerous and violent weekend in the U.S. Dozens injured in a spree of shootings that span from the east to the west coast.
CNN's Brynn Gingras has more.
HEATHER THOMPSON, WITNESS: There were 10 to 20 shots, and then another 10 to 20 shots.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sound of rapid gunfire coming from a Safeway supermarket in Bend, Oregon, just one of many shootings happening across the country over the weekend. Bend authorities say a man walked into the grocery store while firing an AR-15 style rifle making his way through the aisles, menacing customers and workers.
ROBERT, SAFEWAY EMPLOYEE: It was loud enough to make me and three other employees ran into a walk-in refrigerator and close the door and stay there and stayed hidden until the authorities arrived.
GINGRAS: Two people were killed. a customer and a 66-year-old employee who tried to stop the shooter.
SHEILA MILLER, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, BEND POLICE: Surrett engaged with the shooter, attempted to disarm him, and may very well have prevented further deaths. Mr. Surrett acted heroically during this terrible incident.
GINGRAS: Police found the shooter dead inside the store from a gunshot wound. Blog posts by the shooter indicated his desires to commit acts of violence.
In D.C. --
RON RIVERA, HEAD COACH, WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: We really got to start getting to the point where we start talking about gun safety.
GINGRAS: Washington Commanders head coach expressed his frustration with the gun violence after his rookie running back became a victim. Brian Robinson Jr., drafted by the Commanders this year, was shot twice in the lower body during an attempted robbery, according to police.
RIVERA: He's very fortunate in a very unfortunate situation, but he's doing well and it will be a matter of time before he's back out here.
GINGRAS: Two Phoenix, Arizona, officers were injured while exchanging gunfire with a suspect armed with a semiautomatic rifle and wearing tactical gear who went on a shooting spree.
POLICE OFFICER: This is a massive crime scene.
GINGRAS: That suspect killed two people before turning the gun on himself, according to police.
In New York City, 16 people were shot, 5 killed in more than a dozen shootings. One breaking out on the packed Coney Island boardwalk.
CHIEF KENNETH COREY, HEAD OF SECURITY OPERATIONS, NYPD: We had five people hanging out on the boardwalk, enjoying a nice summer night, and shots are fired from a nearby housing development.
GINGRAS: Houston police pointing to an eviction notice possibly leading to this horrific scene where three people were gunned down.
CHIEF TROY FINNER, HOUSTON POLICE: This suspect unfortunately, very sadly and very eagerly, set fire to residence, laid wait for residents to come out and fired upon them.
GINGRAS: That gunman was killed during a shootout with authorities, says the police chief.
And in Detroit, the same weapon may be linked to the killings of three people in what authorities are calling random incidents.
CHIEF JAMES WHITE, DETROIT POLICE: One was waiting on a bus, one was walking his dog, and one was just on the street. GINGRAS: And in the Windy City, it was a 5-year-old boy shot in the
head in what the community is now calling a crisis on Chicago's children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these kids want to do is go to school and play and they can't even do that. And that's messed up. They can't even do that, and it just keeps happening.
GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.
BROWN: I'm Pamela Brown.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.