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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 8/11/22

Guests: Olivia Troye, Josh Dawsey, Asawin Suebsaeng, Meridith McGraw, Karine Jean-Pierre, Jon Meacham

Summary

Attorney General Merrick Garland called Donald Trump`s bluff as he speaks publicly for the first time since the FBI`s search at Mar-a-Lago, announcing that the Department of Justice is seeking to release the search warrant and an accompanying list of items seized unless the ex-President objects. Violent rhetoric on the right after the FBI`s search at Mar-a-Lago intensifies. The FBI searched Trump`s home to look for nuclear documents and other items according to sources. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre joins ALL IN to discuss President Biden`s agenda. President Biden met privately with a group of eminent American historians to gauge their response to this moment in history.

Transcript

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: That`s tonight`s REIDOUT. Stay with MSNBC throughout the night for the latest on a day of major developments in the FBI search of Donald Trump`s home. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Just now, the Justice Department has filed a motion in the Southern District of Florida to unseal a search warrant and property receipt relating to a court-approved search.

MENENDEZ: The Justice Department calls Donald Trump`s bluff.

GARLAND: That search was some premises located in Florida belonging to the former president.

MENENDEZ: Tonight, Chuck Rosenberg on the Garland announcement, what it means for the investigation, and when we may know the details Donald Trump is concealing.

Then, the DOJ response to incitement of violence against law enforcement as an FBI field office is attacked.

Plus, new reporting on Trump`s paranoia over so-called rats wearing wires at Mar-a-Lago. The White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre live in studio on today`s big developments in a series of big wins for the Biden White House when ALL IN starts now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MENENDEZ (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Alicia Menendez in for Chris Hayes. Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland called Donald Trump`s bluff. Speaking publicly for the first time since the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, Garland announced that the Department of Justice is seeking to release the search warrant and an accompanying list of items seized unless the ex-President objects.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARLAND: Just now, the Justice Department has filed a motion in the Southern District of Florida to unseal a search warrant and property receipt relating to a court-approved search that the FBI conducted earlier this week. That search was some premises located in Florida belonging to the former president. The department did not make any public statements on the day of the search.

The former president publicly confirmed the search that evening, as is his right. Copies of both the warrant and the FBI property receipt were provided on the day of the search to the former president`s counsel who was on-site during the search. The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause. The property receipt is a document that federal law requires law enforcement agents to leave with the property owner.

The Department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president`s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MENENDEZ: Shortly after that announcement, we got to see a copy of the motion to unseal these documents elaborating on Garland`s argument for making them public. "In the day since the search at Mar-a-Lago, the search warrant and related materials have been the subject of significant interest and attention from news media organizations and other entities. The press and the public enjoy a qualified right of access to criminal and judicial proceedings, and the judicial records filed therein. Given the intense public interest presented by a search other residents of a former president, the government believes these factors favor unsealing the search warrant, its accompanying attachments, and the property receipt absent objection from the former president."

A judge gave the Department of Justice until tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 p.m. to speak with Trump`s lawyers and determine if they will object to releasing the documents. And the motion also makes the point that Trump himself has already released a lot of information about the search which we know is related to the federal investigation into the removal of classified documents from the White House.

"On the day that the search was executed, former President Trump issued a public statement that provided the first public confirmation that the search had occurred. Subsequently, the former president`s representatives have given additional statements to the press concerning the search, including public characterizations of the material sought. As such, the occurrence of the search and indications of the subject matter involved are already public."

Now, we have also just learned some key contacts about the events that led up to the search on Monday. NBC News confirms that Trump received a federal grand jury subpoena this spring for sensitive documents the government believed he retained after his departure from the White House. This makes clear the Department of Justice tried to get Donald Trump to give the documents back. But eventually, they had to take them back.

As the New York Times reports, "two people briefed on the classified documents that investigators believe remained at Mar-a-Lago indicated that they were so sensitive in nature and related to national security that the Justice Department had to act." And as we have seen, although he was the one to reveal the search publicly, the ex-President has not reacted well to it.

Trump and his allies have issued a steady stream of attacks against the actions of the DOJ and the FBI. They`ve been claiming that the search was politically motivated, questioning the integrity of the department. Today, Attorney General Garland defended his team and confirmed that he personally approved the warrant.

[20:05:29]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARLAND: Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing. All Americans are tight -- entitled to the even-handed application of the law, to due process of the law, and to the presumption of innocence.

Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye. We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our investigations. Federal law, long-standing department rules, and our ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time.

There are, however, certain points I want you to know. First, I personally approve the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter. Second, the department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MENENDEZ: We`ve also seen a rise in dangerous violent rhetoric directed at Garland, at the DOJ, and the FBI in the day since the search at Mar-a-Lago. And today, we saw an example of the terror that kind of discourse can inspire. This morning in Cincinnati, a man entered an FBI building and fired a nail gun towards personnel inside. He was also armed with an AR-15- style rifle. The suspect led officers into a standoff where he was killed.

His name was Ricky Walter Shiffer. And according to officials, he was present at the Capitol during Donald Trump`s insurrection on January 6. In the wake of that alarming incident, the ongoing investigations into the ex- president are perhaps even more important than ever. And we`re now all waiting for the next key piece of information in one of those several probes. What is in the warrant for the search at Mar-a-Lago? And what did the FBI find there?

Chuck Rosenberg is a former U.S. attorney and a former senior FBI official and he joins me now. Chuck, your reaction to Merrick Garland`s announcement today.

CHUCK ROSENBERG, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, parts of it were unsurprising but good to hear. For instance, that Mr. Garland had personally reviewed and authorized the search warrant, not at all surprising. I was a little bit disappointed, Alicia, that they were not yet moving to unseal the affidavit to the search warrant.

Let me explain. Basically, there are three parts to a search warrant. The search warrant is essentially a one-page order that the FBI hands to the person in the house and it says we`re authorized to be here, a federal judge said so. The inventory or the return is an itemized list of the things that they took from the house pursuant to the search warrant. That`s one of the things that Mr. Garland said they were going to move to unseal.

But the really interesting document is the affidavit. That`s where you find the basis for probable cause. That`s where the government explains the case procedurally and factually. And that is not yet being unsealed, nor is the government asking that it be unsealed. And that`s not unusual in big cases. Often it`s kept under seal for some period of time. If there`s a legitimate law enforcement purpose to keeping it sealed, a judge will permit that. But the unsealing that Mr. Garland talked about today, did not concern the affidavit. It was about the one-page search warrant order and the inventory of stuff that was taken.

MENENDEZ: Well, let`s then talk about those two documents your expectation of what you will find and then what we will learn from them.

ROSENBERG: You`ll learn a little bit more than you know now. For instance, the search warrant water will likely, and they did in the Eastern District of Virginia where I was a prosecutor, contain a reference to the federal statute that Mr. Trump allegedly violated. So, you`ll learn that. And if you get the description of the items that were seized from his house, it may give you some insight into what the government was looking for and why.

But you`re not You`re going to get a lot of detail and you`re not going to get the probable cause statement. So, we`ll know a little bit more. But for people who want to know all of it, they`re going to have to be patient because it could take some time. First of all, for these documents to be unsealed, there may be some contest about whether or not they will be unsealed. We have to see how Mr. Trump responds. And they`ll have to wait for the affidavit itself, the most interesting and the most substantive document. That`s yet to come.

[20:10:23]

MENENDEZ: Do you have a suspicion about how Mr. Trump will respond?

ROSENBERG: I don`t. I don`t think he`s really been very forthcoming. He hasn`t cooperated traditionally with law enforcement or in -- even in the civil litigation process where he often finds himself. So, you know, I`d be pleasantly surprised, actually very surprised if he were to consent to the release of these documents. You know, you hadn`t mentioned and I think you`re right, Alicia, that in some ways, Attorney General Garland is calling his bluff. So, let`s see how Mr. Trump responds to that.

MENENDEZ: Chuck, the other big news today, your reaction to the attack on the FBI Cincinnati office?

ROSENBERG: Oh, it`s heartbreaking. Look, we`re lucky that we have men and women around the country in the FBI protecting us and watching over us. I am absolutely biased, by the way. I am -- you know, I worked there twice. I was privileged to work there. I know this place and I`m so grateful for it.

And what`s really amazing to me, Alicia is that there are people on the other side who are fomenting this hatred and these riots. And so, this is almost the natural consequences of that kind of rhetoric and that kind of talk. It`s exceedingly dangerous. It`s frankly disgusting. And thank goodness, none of the good guys were hurt today. I worry about the next time and the next place and the next time and the next place. I think people ought to take a step back and recognize exactly what`s going on and the dangers it presents not just to the FBI, but to all of us.

MENENDEZ: I do want to get you in on one final story and that was the piece you wrote in Politico about the newest lie coming from Trump supporters that the FBI "planted incriminating evidence at Trump`s Florida home when they searched it earlier this week. You argue, when FBI Director Christopher Wray refused to address that lie, he made a big mistake. Tell me more.

ROSENBERG: Yes, look, I think Chris Wray is a wonderful guy, a man of great integrity. I like him, I admire him and I respect him but he made a mistake. And I think it`s my job now to try and, you know -- well, not try but to do my best to speak the truth at all the time -- all the time.

And so, here`s the thing, Alicia. I understand that Chris doesn`t want to talk about the investigation, and in many ways he can`t. But he can certainly knock down these ridiculous lies. The notion that the FBI planted evidence at the Mar-a-Lago home of Donald Trump is an abject lie. It`s disgusting and it`s reckless and you see the consequences of it.

And Chris could have very easily said, I think -- I`m not going to address the investigation. I`m not going to talk about the facts of the case. But this didn`t happen. We don`t plant evidence. We have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law. I`ve taken it, all the agents who work for the FBI have taken it. Those ethics, that principle is in the marrow of our bones. And there`s no way in hell, Alicia, that our agents would have planted evidence at a search.

That he could have said, right? So, you know, the old maxim that lies get halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on. We may not succeed and knocking down lies, but the men and women of the FBI deserve to hear from the director that he has pushed back on it.

MENENDEZ: Chuck Rosenberg, as always, thank you so much.

Coming up, following days of right-wing vitriol against the Justice Department, an armed man attacks an FBI field office. The latest details and who bears responsibility next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:15:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NATHAN DENNIS, LIEUTENANT, OHIO STATE POLICE: The suspect then did raise a firearm toward law enforcement and shots were fired by law enforcement officers on the scene. At that point, the suspect was deceased. He succumbed to his injuries at the scene, and everything remains under investigation of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MENENDEZ: Law enforcement says a suspect, a man named Ricky Shiffer had been killed in Ohio after he dressed in body armor, brandishing an AR-15 style rifle, and fired a nail gun at the FBI field office in Cincinnati. We know that Shiffer was at the Capitol on January 6. And NBC News can now report that the attacker appeared to be a fervent Trump supporter.

He used Donald Trump`s social media platform, Truth Social, to post his violent plans to kill FBI agents and possibly be killed himself following the search of Trump`s Florida property earlier this week. This attack comes as the FBI warns of an uptick in death threats after the execution of that search warrant on Mar-a-Lago.

The ex-president called the search, quote, prosecutorial misconduct and weaponization of the justice system and falsely conflated the FBI agents who serve the warrant with his political opponents and perceived enemies. And Trump`s allies in Congress and the Republican Party infrastructure and in right-wing media, they have followed his lead with an escalating series of unhinged attacks and violent rhetoric directed at the Department of Justice and at the FBI.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSE WATTERS, HOST, FOX NEWS: I`m angry. I feel violated. The whole country feels violated. It`s disgusting. They`ve declared war on us. And now it`s game on.

[20:20:05]

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): The FBI and the Department of Justice are going to give Trump a fair and impartial firing squad.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Are they going to have a strike force that goes in with AK-15 already loaded, ready to shoot some small business person in Iowa?

KELLY MCENANY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They just don`t give a flying flip about how politicized they look which is terrifying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re the rule of law. It`s like a Gestapo.

MCENANY: Yes, it feels that way.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, SENIOR FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: I think they should break up the FBI, disperse its bureaus throughout the federal government. It`s got too much power. It`s a threat. And that`s a danger to democracy. It really is. This is something like the East German Stasi in the Cold War. It really is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MENENDEZ: Olivia Troye was a Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Adviser in the Trump White House. She resigned in August 2020 before endorsing Joe Biden. She`s now Chief Strategy Officer for the Renew America Movement. And she called the Republican attacks on the FBI "Abhorrent and warn that this rhetoric endangers lives.

Olivia, indeed it does. You know Donald Trump. You know the threat of domestic terrorism. Do you think the escalation in his rhetoric is intentional?

OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM AND HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: It absolutely is. I think, you know, he does everything that he does is calculated and his he knows that his words embolden these individuals. Look, we saw this in the January 6 Select Committee and the hearings. I mean, you have Sarah Matthews actually point to his word and say we knew that people follow his every word, whether he`s on social media, whether he does speeches, and the things that he says.

And what`s unfortunate here is that the entire -- well, most of the Republican Party has gone along with this. And just watching the rhetoric on social media, and seeing the violence, the calls for violence in the past couple of days as a result of what he was saying and how he was doing it, and how he`s basically making the FBI an enemy of the state, basically, of anyone, the enemy of Americans is what I would say. This is how we get to something like today.

And they know this, right? We`ve seen this. We`ve seen synagogues attacked using the same type of rhetoric that the Republic`s intended in using. We`ve seen churches, we`ve seen Walmart`s like in my hometown of Texas. This is what happens when you speak in such a way, you fundraise off of it, and you don`t actually care about what happens across our country.

MENENDEZ: And you don`t have anyone in your own party who`s willing to hold you accountable. You know, we don`t yet know the motives of the suspect in Ohio. I wonder though, as you watch this unfold, it seems like the problem with this rhetoric is that once it is out, there is no way to can it back up, right? There`s no way to pull it back. Are we going to be seeing more of this?

TROYE: Yes, I mean, I think we`re seeing it play out. Look, I mean, I was in the White House for a lot of these incidents where we knew what was happening. I was there when that very ardent Trump supporter was driving around in his van and shipping off makeshift devices to media, to Democrat political figures, and he was an ardent Trump supporter.

We know what these people are capable of. And so I think this will continue to happen. You know, I was grateful that Merrick Garland was very firm in his words today. And given the timing of it, there is no doubt that, you know, they had probably seen the social media postings by this individual that had been recorded. And so I think it`s a very dangerous time, and it`s very volatile. And it`s completely irresponsible and shameful that these elected officials continue to do this and they don`t care.

MENENDEZ: Olivia Troye, thank you so much for taking the time.

We have breaking news on the FBI search of Donald Trump`s Florida property. The Washington Post is reporting that classified documents concerning nuclear weapons were among those sought by the FBI during that search. That`s according to sources familiar with the investigation. The sources could not confirm if the documents were related to the United States nuclear weapons or those belonging to another country.

I`m joined now by one of the reporters who broke this story, Josh Dawsey, political investigations reporter for The Washington Post. Josh, what more can you tell us?

JOSH DAWSEY, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, so what we know is that when the FBI went on Monday to Mar-a-Lago and spent the entire day there, they were looking for a number of things. But one of the things they were concerned about is potential documents about nuclear weapons. They are highly classified documents.

They believe that the former president had -- in possession, or at his house they believed that they were there. And that is one of the reasons that search happened, according to our sources. And that also kind of helped explain, according to our sources, the escalation of why they took such a large team into his property and why there seem to be growing urgency in the investigation.

MENENDEZ: Your sense of whether or not these documents were the main thrust of the investigation or just some of the many documents the FBI was seeking?

[20:25:01]

DAWSEY: We know it`s a significant part. I don`t I don`t want to say more than we know at this point, because we`re still doing reporting. And we`re figuring out -- we`re hoping to figure out more and more at least, but we know that it was a significant part of what they wanted. I mean, when they first went down and the former president gave them 15 boxes of material, they were -- there was kept secret documents in those boxes.

And then later, when they came back on Monday, they got 12 more boxes of material by doing a copious search of his house. And in the first return, they found an inventory of multiple pages of things that they believed were classified. And this time they were looking for classified documents about nuclear weapons. But they found classified documents about other topics as well, according our sources, when he did his first return.

One of the points I want to -- I want to make here is our reporting indicates that they -- the FBI and the National Archives began to believe that the former President and his team, or at least his team was not being entirely truthful about what he had in his possession at Mar-a-Lago. And that, along with interviews from a number of his aides, former and current advisors, I think were precipitating factors in this search on Monday.

MENENDEZ: Josh, do we know if the FBI did in fact find these documents?

DAWSEY: We do not know that and we really make that clear in the story. We do not know exactly what they found. At some point, Trump`s team will have an inventory of what they found and we may -- you know, they may release probably later what they found, but we do not know that now.

MENENDEZ: You know, earlier this week, we`re talking with Asha Rangappa about the thrust of this investigation, the potential thrust of this investigation. We had an entire conversation about whether the interest was really criminal or the interest was one of national security. As this comes to light, the documents, the nuclear weapon documents that they were searching for, did you get a sense of what the ultimate intent is here?

DAWSEY: No, I mean, the ultimate intent is to get everything that`s classified, and they believe the former president should not have it and he hasn`t promptly back into the property of the United States government. And to understand the process by which has happened, who packed these boxes, who made these decisions, why did he decide what to take and when, and was his team truthful when they gave over documents earlier this year?

So, the intent is twofold, I think. One -- and I think the government would say this as their most important intent is they want to get everything back in their possession. And the second most important intent, according to some of our sources, is figuring out what happened.

MENENDEZ: Josh, as you said to me, this is ongoing, you`re reporting in real-time, which is why I appreciate you taking the time to come and sit and talk with us and relay your reporting to us. What are your primary questions moving forward? What are the big things you need answered?

DAWSEY: Well, I think all of our big questions is to find out what exactly was in the boxes. I mean, they did pull boxes of material, according to former President Trump`s lawyer. What was in them? What was their justification for going in? We have not seen that yet. Merrick Garland, the Attorney General, said today that they would be willing -- they would -- they would file and they filed to make some of this public but we don`t know that that`s going to happen.

I think once we start understanding what they`ve attested to under oath, and we started understanding what was in the boxes, we`ll have a better sense of where the story is going. But right now, it`s quite fluid and preliminary, as you said .

MENENDEZ: Josh Dawsey, thank you so much for jumping on and walking us through that and bringing us your reporting.

Joining me now Asawin Suebsaeng, senior politics reporter for Rolling Stone, and Meridith McGraw, national political correspondent for Politico. Asawin, we`re going to sit here and we were going to talk about the mood right now in the ex-president`s orbit, this sense of paranoia as these new details come to light. What are you hearing about the ways in which that paranoia is growing?

ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER, ROLLING STONE: Well, not just in the wake of the FBI raid, but growing since at least late May. There has been a broadening sense of paranoia not just within Donald Trump itself, but within his inner orbit with regards to the variety of investigations whether they be criminal, civil, or federal. There are almost too many to keep count at this point. There are currently ongoing into Trump and his associates in the inner orbit at the moment.

But the some of the ways that this is manifested in how Trump has been behaving privately is, according to our sources, he has asked a number of people over the stretch of the past few months if they think it`s likely that his phones are tapped at his private clubs and homes. He has wondered aloud if certain Republicans were visiting him at whether it`d be Mar-a- Lago and Bedminster and could potentially be wearing a wire for the Feds.

Obviously, not everybody visiting him, but you know, some people, that the thought has crossed his mind. And publicly, as we`ve seen manifested with his legal team, some of his buddies at Fox News, other envoys of conservative media and of course with Trump himself, they`ve been actively floating this completely groundless theory that oh, maybe the Feds could have planted something at my beautiful home in Florida of Mar-a-Lago.

So, there is no shortage of rabid conspiracy theorizing, and potential scapegoating and just rancid paranoia going around in the upper crust of Trump land right now.

[20:30:19]

MENENDEZ: I mean, Meridith, in the midst of that rants and paranoia, as Asawin put it, what are you hearing about what is motivating those who are parlaying this to the FBI?

MERIDITH MCGRAW, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Well, I think there has been an ongoing sense of skepticism on the right towards the federal government and towards the FBI, especially during the Russia investigation and during Trump`s years in the White House that only grew. And then now with this FBI search, that sense of paranoia -- and really anger towards the FBI has only grown and strengthened and is served in a lot of ways as a unifying thing for the Republican Party and for the former president.

MENENDEZ: I mean, so here`s the thing. You have the Washington Post reporting that the FBI was looking for documents related to nuclear weapons that is more than just say, correspondence with a foreign leader. I mean, does that help explain why Trump -- why Trump world is so paranoid?

SUEBSAENG: Was that directed at me?

MENENDEZ: Yes.

SUEBSAENG: OK. Well, yes, and also, there`s sort of a cognitive dissonance going on here, particularly with the former leader of the free world, Donald Trump, because as we talked to multiple people who have gone to visit him at Mar-a-Lago over the past year or year and a half. And when it comes to things that he has taken from the White House, he has not always been shy about brandishing them and showing them off to guests during informal tours of Mar-a-Lago.

We spoke to multiple people who said that former President Trump while at Mar-a-Lago would wave around a sheet of paper or point to or hold an object to show them to say something to the effect of these are my mementos from my time in the White House. Obviously, it`s not clear if he was supposed to legally have any of those in his possession. And I have no idea if anything as fanciful as the nuclear launch codes were on any of those pieces of paper. But he has over the past year or year and a half being showing some of these things off that again, he, you could argue, stole from the federal government to guests at Mar-a-Lago.

So, there was this kind of cognitive dissonance of yes, there is this paranoia of are the Feds apt to get me and are they investigating me. They obviously are investigating him, but also kind of this flaunting of, oh, these regulations don`t apply to me. In other words, Trump, of course, as always thinks he`s above any law he can think of.

MENENDEZ: And Meridith, you have elected Republican leaders out there carrying Trump`s water. You have members of Trump`s inner and outer circles continuing to defend the president basically using all of the same language he used in his own statement to attack the DOJ, to attack the FBI.

In light of this new reporting from the Washington Post about the fact that some of the documents they were looking for pertained to nuclear weapons, does that change their calculus? Does that change the stakes?

MCGRAW: Well, that was always a risk. These Republican leaders, they rallied around the former president. And I do think that we`re going to be seen a bit of a tempering of the language here as people learn more facts. And tomorrow at 3:00 p.m., we`ll be getting an answer from the former president`s legal team. There`s still a lot of unknowns here.

But I think certainly with all this new reporting, it`s gone from maybe the former president had a birthday dinner menu and cocktail napkins or certain documents that it was unclear if it was classified or not being held at Mar-a-Lago to having documents in his possession, whether he was holding them intentionally or not, that had serious national security implications.

And we`ve seen some Republican lawmakers tried to use language that is more just wait and see. Let`s wait until all the facts are before us. And let`s learn more before we jumped to conclusions here.

MENENDEZ: You know, Asawin, when I hear you characterize sort of energy, the paranoia that is happening in the Trump inner sanctum, it raises the question for me of whether that paranoia actually makes people more loyal, makes them want to get even closer to the former president, or if there is a fracturing of that loyalty in the wake of that paranoia?

SUEBSAENG: Well, I mean, it depends on which individuals throughout Trump land you`re dealing with here. As we`ve seen over the years, including during Donald Trump`s presidency, there has been a good number of fracturing. There has been some flipping, some betrayals, as the former president would characterize it. There have been some who have ended up cooperating with the Feds and completely turned on Donald Trump very bitterly. Obviously, Michael Cohen is a leading example of that, his former attorney and fixer.

But with so many people, including the mainstream of the mainstream, the upper echelon of the upper echelon of the Republican Party and conservative movement right now, they`re in a position where even with this going on, they for the time being for the foreseeable future are stuck with Donald Trump. He depends on them probably at least somewhat less than they`re depending on him right now. So, whether they want to be more endearing to them in this song and dance, they don`t necessarily have a choice at the moment.

[20:35:58]

MENENDEZ: Asawin Suebsaeng, Meridith McGraw, thank you both so much.

Coming up, as the nation focuses on the ex-president`s mounting legal troubles, the current president in the middle of a winning streak. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre joins me here in studio next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARLAND: The Justice Department has filed a motion in the Southern District of Florida to unseal search warrant and property receipt relating to a court-approved search that the FBI conducted earlier this week. That search was some premises located in Florida belonging to the former president. I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MENENDEZ: Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed that he personally signed off on the search warrant for Donald Trump`s Mar Lago residence. The warrant and the ensuing fallout has somewhat overshadowed a prolific week for the Biden administration. Tomorrow, the House will take up the Senate-passed Inflation Reduction Act, the major Biden agenda bill that seemed all but doom just a few weeks ago.

On Tuesday, Biden signed a bill that injects $50 billion into the research and manufacturing of semiconductor chips, a key component in new technology. Inflation is ticking down offering relief to American families who have been squeezed by costs. And U.S. gas prices are falling. Automotive Group Triple A singing that they have dipped just below $4.00 a gallon.

Here to discuss all of this, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean- Pierre. Karine, good to see you.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Good to see you, Alicia. It`s been a while.

MENENDEZ: It has been a while.

JEAN-PIERRE: It`s good to see you in person. I think it`s my first time in studio for in a while.

MENENDEZ: It is nice to have you here. I mean, big news. Even as we were coming to air, the Washington Post reporting classified documents relating to nuclear weapon is part of what FBI agents were seeking in their search of Mar-a-Lago. What`s the White House reaction to nuclear documents being held in an unsecure location?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, we`ve been pretty consistent on this, which is the Department of Justice is when it comes to investigation, they are independent. When it comes to -- you know, the President has been and I`ve said this many times, he has said this many times, he`s been pretty consistent in that he believes in the rule of law, and he believes in the independence of the Department of Justice.

It would not be appropriate for us to speak to this, to comment on this. And so, we leave it to the Department of Justice. We leave it to Merrick Garland as we just heard him speaking earlier today.

MENENDEZ: Did the President watch Merrick Garland`s statement today?

JEAN-PIERRE: As you know, he`s in South Carolina with his family at this time. I`ve not spoken to him. He`s taking a little time, still doing the work of the American people, but taking some time with his family.

MENENDEZ: Let me ask you. I mean, the other big thing we saw today was someone walking into a Cincinnati FBI office armed, clearly with the intent to hurt people. That person is now dead. As this rhetoric amps up against the FBI, against the DOJ, can you give us a sense of the types of conversations that are happening inside the White House about what is going to be necessary in order to shield law enforcement?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we condemn violence of any kind. And we`ve always been incredibly consistent about that. We have said, especially during this time, peaceful protest is appropriate. People should be able to voice their opinion about whatever issue is on their mind, but we condemn violence of any kind.

And again, when it comes to what is currently happening, we just are not going to comment. We leave that to the Department of Justice. We -- the President believes in the rule of law, as I`ve just stated. And you know, again, Merrick Garland will speak for himself.

MENENDEZ: The Washington Post reported the President Biden met privately with historians last week about the state of democracy. Can you tell us a little bit about that meeting and the way that President is thinking about the stakes here?

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. So, that piece, he has talked about this before early on in the year. He talked about how he is very much open to hearing from outside voices, to getting more information, to getting people`s input. He really respects historians. As you know, he is -- he is kind of a historian himself and wanting to learn more. And getting advice on what he should be doing more of or what else is out there to kind of lean into it.

So, he talked about that, again, very early on. And you saw that in this report as he met with historians. And they had a very, very good -- very good, productive conversation.

[20:45:05]

MENENDEZ: Tomorrow a big day on Capitol Hill.

JEAN-PIERRE: It`s a big day, yes. We`re excited.

MENENDEZ: The House come back.

JEAN-PIERRE: We`re excited. Look, Alicia, thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk about this. This is something that the American people really care about. When you look at the Inflation Reduction Act, it is their components -- every component of that act is popular with a majority of Americans, whether you`re a Republican or a Democrat. Think about prescription drugs, allowing Medicare to actually negotiate and bring down costs. This is something that Big Pharma has been fighting against. This is something that Republicans also have been fighting against.

And so, Congressional Democrats and this president have -- are going to have win, which means the American people are going to have a win. You think about climate change, and how this is going to have a huge investment in making sure we have clean energy jobs, a clean energy future, and also lower costs on utility bills.

These are so important. And then the Affordable Care Act, keeping people`s premiums lower at -- I think 800 bucks a year for the American people. This is a big deal. This is going to be transformative in people`s lives. And then on top of the Chips Act, which is manufacturing jobs when we talk about Made in America and also creating jobs.

When you think about the bipartisan infrastructure law, when you think about the American rescue plan which helped us turn the economy back on and get people vaccinated and boosted, all of the things that this President has done in 90 months. The most effective, transformative legislation policies since LBJ, this is what this President has been focused on. This is why he ran to make sure that we build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out and don`t leave anyone behind.

MENENDEZ: I don`t need to tell you, margins are slim here. So, one, I want to know if the White House is confident that Democrats are going to stay united?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, I want to say -- first, I want to thank Senator Schumer, Senator Manchin for getting it through the Senate and all the other Senate members, we`re -- the congressional members there, the Democrats in particular, thank you, thank you, thank you. It`s in the hands of Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats there and we have confidence that it will get through. And we are continuing to have those conversations and then offer any assistance that we can from the -- from the White House. Again, this is going to be historic and a big, big, big deal.

MENENDEZ: I mean, there has been no shortage of analysis about the extent to which this is going to play in midterm, so I want to ask you a slightly different question, which is part of the argument to voters is, if you like this, send us more Democrats and we will be able to deliver even more. What does that more look like?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, you know, this -- so I always have to be careful because I -- you know, I can`t talk about political elections. Certainly, not any upcoming election. So, I will say this. The President has been steadfast. He has been focused. This is an experienced president. This is a president that has these core values and understands what Americans are going through when you sit around the kitchen table. And so, this is part of his economic policy that we have seen being delivered.

And yes, we want to do more. We`re not going to -- there was childcare that was part of our last piece -- that was a part of our legislation last year. There was eldercare. Those things we don`t give up on. But again, what we`re -- what the -- what the House is going to finish doing tomorrow is going to be a big deal and it`s going to be transformational. It`s going to make a difference in people`s lives. And that`s what the President has been working on for this past couple of years.

MENENDEZ: Karine Jean-Pierre --

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.

MENENDEZ: In the flesh. Thank you.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you so much for having me.

MENENDEZ: Still to come, a group of experts warned President Biden last week but there is an ongoing threat to American democracy. Historian Jon Meacham was part of that group, and he joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:50:00]

MENENDEZ: We are still following the big breaking news tonight from the Washington Post. The classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the documents sought by federal agents when they searched Donald Trump`s Florida residents on Monday. It was unclear if the documents related to American nuclear weapons or that of another country. As we find out more and more about what the Mar-a-Lago search was all about, the rage in MAGA world about the search remains so virulent that it is adding to an already tenuous moment in the United States.

Last week, President Biden met privately with a group of eminent American historians to gauge their response to this moment in history. According to The Washington Post, they warned that America`s democracy is teetering and compared what`s going on now to the moments before the American Civil War and World War II.

I`m joined now by one of the historians who was at that meeting. Jon Meacham is the Rogers Chair in the American Presidency at Vanderbilt University, and occasionally advises President Biden on historical matters and major speeches. Jon, a lot to get to you, but I want to start with the Washington Post news that just broke about some of the documents the FBI was searching for relating to nuclear weapons. Can you give us a sense of just how significant this is? I mean, can you think of a comparison when it comes to someone keeping a president keeping sensitive documents like this?

[20:55:00]

JON MEACHAM, HISTORIAN: Well, to take those in reverse order, Alicia. No, I don`t think there is any precedent for this. In some ways, if the Post reporting is correct, it has the capacity to be the nightmare scenario for these documents leaving the custody of the government broadly put. And just think about what this could mean. You have something floating around that is of such a nature, that the Attorney General of the United States did something that we also believe is unprecedented, which is to execute a duly executed search warrant against a former president.

And so, one of the things that -- you know, this news comes so rapidly -- this is a cliche now but cliches are cliches because they`re true. So much comes after -- you know, just again, and again and again, that to some extent, we sometimes get a little numb to the scope of what`s unfolding. And the rule of law is the fundamental piece of infrastructure of the American republic.

If the rule of law crumbles, then I can take whatever you have without penalty, and you can try to take whatever I have without penalty. And the whole covenant that shapes the constitutional conversation falls apart. And I think what we`re seeing tonight with this reporting and this unfolding story is a really, really troubling instance not just because of the substance of what`s unfolding, but as you alluded to, the reaction, the reflexive partisanship on the broad right that is somehow or another thinking that there guys above the law.

MENENDEZ: You met with President Biden with other historians. Can you give us a sense of the concerns that were raised in that meeting?

MEACHAM: Sure. The meeting was off the record. And Joe Biden is my -- President Biden is my friend. I help him when I can, as you mentioned. So, speaking in general, he knows he`s been talking about democracy versus autocracy since the campaign. And it is a -- it`s self-evident, and complicated and substantive and doesn`t -- resolving a problem like this doesn`t lend itself to tweets. And it doesn`t lends itself, if I may, to news conversations.

These are profound issues. It`s about Americans who feel an alienation from the possibilities of the country, the possibilities of America, the idea that tomorrow can be better than today has been what has animated us from the very beginning. The phrase, the American dream was coined in the 20th century about this idea that if you play by the rules, if you work hard, your kids are going to have it a little easier than you are and so forth.

And there are a number of people who don`t believe that that promise is operative. And it has fallen, history and fate have put our generation, not just presidents but citizens, which has tried to decide do we want the constitutional conversation to go forward? It should be amended. There should be changes. This is not about oh, if only it could be like 1985 again, everything would be fine. That`s not what I`m saying.

What I am saying is that there have to be a significant number of Americans who are not ferociously on one side or the other. I`m one of them. I`m not for -- I`m not -- I`m not a Democrat. I`m not a Republican. But I do believe in a conversation that has tended to lead to more progress than regression. And the great fear of the moment, and the President spoken to this, is that this idea of politics as total war is becoming predominant.

Politics needs to be about the mediation of differences, and he come up with a solution for a problem for a given period of time, right? I mean, that`s a durable thing. If every moment, if every issue is apocalyptic, then you get close to what we`re having now. Now, I`m not saying it`s the apocalypse, before people started saying that, but there is this drama that people are, to some extent, they`re enraptured by it, right? I mean, you`ve seen this with the reaction to what the FBI legally did this week. It`s that oh, my God, any anything that happens is an attack on their very being. And I think when politics becomes total war, we all lose.

MENENDEZ: Jon Meacham, as always, thank you for walking us through the stakes, for taking the time.

That is ALL IN on this Thursday night. "MSNBC PRIME" starts right now with Ali Velshi. Good evening, Ali.