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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/11/22

Guests: N/A


"The Washington Post" reports that the FBI searched Trump`s home to look for nuclear documents and other items, sources say. NBC News has identified the man that attacked an FBI field officer in Cincinnati, Ohio, today.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: What a busy and interesting evening. Alicia, thank you for your great reporting on this. We will see you tomorrow night.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We literally have a metric ton of news to get to tonight we`ve been hearing some of it on the latest attack that took place at an FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio, an attack that comes as conservative politicians continue to vilify the FBI over its search of Donald Trump`s home.

Law enforcement sources identified in the incidents online about his desire to kill FBI agents shortly after the search at Mar-a-Lago. We`re also learning tonight that he was at the Capitol riot on January 6.

We are going to cover the big news out of the Justice Department as well. The Attorney General Merrick Garland announcing today that he`s moving to unseal the warrant to search Trump`s home. But we start tonight with a truly gobsmacking new report from "The Washington Post".

Here`s the headline, FBI searched Trump`s home to look for nuclear documents and other items, sources say.

Quote, classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were found among the items that FBI agents sought in a search of former President Donald Trump`s Florida residence on Monday, according to people familiar with the investigation. Experts in classified information set the unusual search underscores a deep concern among government officials about the types of information they thought could be located at Trump`s Mar-a-Lago club, and potentially endanger a falling into the wrong hands.

One former Justice Department official, who in the past oversaw investigations of leaks of classified information, said the type of top secret information described by the people familiar with the probe would probably cause authorities to try to move as quickly as possible to recover sensitive documents that could cause grave harm to U.S. security.

"The Washington Post" goes on to quote David Laufman, the former chief of the Justice Department`s counter-intelligence section, which investigates leaks of classified information, who told the paper: If that is true, it would suggest that material residing unlawfully at Mar-a-Lago may have been classified at the highest classification level. If the FBI and the Justice Department believe there were top secret material still at Mar-a-Lago, that would lend itself to greater hair on fire motivation to recover that material as quickly as possible.

In this report, "The Washington Post` also sheds new light on other kinds of sensitive materials that were already recovered from Trump`s home back in January. The National Archives first realized that important documents were missing, quote, a person familiar with the inventory of 15 boxes taken from Mar-a-Lago in January indicated that signals intelligence material was included in them. The precise nature of the information was unclear.

As "The Washington Post" notes in its reporting, signals intelligence can include things like intercepted emails and phone calls of foreign leaders.

Now, there`s a lot of information here. We will try to unpack a lot of it. We have some excellent guests to provide reporting and analysis for you about this story which has suddenly been the last hour become substantially more serious than it already was, and it was already substantially very serious.

Joining us now by phone is Philip Rucker. He is the deputy national editor at "The Washington Post". He was the editor for this bombshell piece tonight.

Phil, I deeply appreciate you being with us tonight. I know it`s a busy night for you and your colleagues.

This is unbelievable information. We were all said to us find out at least some information by tomorrow by 3:00 p.m., or maybe a little later, when the Trump lawyers had to respond to the invitation by the attorney general to unseal the documents. But this is material that you and your colleagues have gleaned tonight a completely different nature. The sort of things they were looking for, and the connection to something to do with nuclear stuff.

Tell me what else you know.

PHILIP RUCKER, DEPUTY NATIONAL EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): Yeah, good to be with you.

This is chilling brick or reporting by a team at "The Washington Post", and a group of editors working on the story today that, among the items that FBI agents were searching for when they went to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday, was classified documents relating to nuclear weapons, that`s a big deal, as everyone listening knows. We don`t know for example whether those were related -- the documents related to document nuclear weapons belonging to the United States, or nuclear weapons belonging to another nation. Perhaps reporting can shed light on that.


Nor do we know, frankly, if those documents were covered by the FBI in the search. We know that one of the reasons they sought the search warrant and went down to Mar-a-Lago with authorization from a judge to search through the former president`s safe and private quarters for documents is they were looking for classified documents that have to do with nuclear weapons.

VELSHI: OK. So, I want to be very clear here, at the information, the reporting you`re able to get, is that they were seeking for some of this information. Not necessarily that they got the information.

RUCKER: That`s right. We can confirm, according to our sources, that the FBI went to Mar-a-Lago in search of this information. We do not know, however, whether they actually recovered the documents that they were looking to find.

VELSHI: There was some talk in Trump circles tonight that the information that was sought, and or, recovered was the information that Trump had declassified. Now, obviously, that we would have to happen if that`s true while he was president, because the former president cannot just take documents and they got to decide to declassify them.

If that were true, there would be some evidence of that somewhere, right? There would be some people trail, it would be accessible to you or me, but to people who make determinations about the control of classified information. That would exist. Trump can`t just declassify information in the past.

RUCKER: That`s right. And the way this works in the government is the sitting president has the authority, has the ultimate authority, on classification and can make a decision to declassify documents, national security documents, that he or she sees fit.

So any declassification that Trump would`ve made what would have to have happened while he was president. Once he leaves office, he obviously loses authority of the power.

VELSHI: There were, of course, there was reporting in some of tonight`s story, there was obviously reporting during Donald Trump`s term in office that whether or not information is classified or not classified, there were allegations and examples during the Trump administration of sort of the mishandling of highly classified information, and the fact that people reported that often these things would be in the hands of people who either had -- one have had any reason to have it, and certainly didn`t have the pull of occasion to have it.

So tell me how that fits in with the level of concern around classified national security related documents being at Mar-a-Lago.

RUCKER: Well, let`s be clear about a couple of things. When he was president, Donald Trump was fairly loose with classified information. There were moments when he would share classified information with foreign government officials. There were moments when he disclosed things that were classified and press conferences or other public forms.

But when we are talking about classified information pertaining to nuclear weapons, that`s a new level of sensitivity. It`s especially sensitive, and usually information about nuclear weapons is restricted to a very small number of senior government officials, according to the experts that my colleagues interviewed for this story.

So, publicizing details about the U.S. nuclear weapons program or frankly the nuclear weapon program with any other country provides an intelligence roadmap to the would-be adversaries who are seeking to build ways to counter our systems or other countries systems. So, that`s why there is such a heightened concern in the law enforcement and intelligence community about this documentation and about the fact that they believe was also at the former president`s residence.

Let`s also remember. He does not live in a home. He lives in a large private club, Mar-a-Lago, where dozens, if not hundreds of people, come and go every day. It`s a very public environment for documentation like this to be existing.

VELSHI: Yeah. And we do have examples in the past of people who either got into the club or got themselves invited in the club, or try to join the club, perhaps with some intent to get access to the president, and possibly, information that is not otherwise public.

I want to read you one paragraph from the store and get your take on it because we are expecting that we are going to hear something tomorrow because attorney general Garland has moved to unseal the warrant, and he has said that Donald Trump`s lawyers should have the opportunity to be consulted on this and make a decision whether they want that to happen.

In the article, it says, if made public, the warrant will probably reveal a general description of what material agents were seeking at Mar-a-Lago, and what crimes they could be connected to. A list of the inventory that agents took from the property will also be released. Details could be limited, however, particularly if the material collected includes classified documents, which you are now reporting might be the case.

In other words, we are not going to get an inventory of classified documents that were sealed -- seized, if they were.

RUCKER: I don`t anticipate that we will. And just to be clear, that -- the paragraph you just read, is our working assumption based on the expertise of the sources we talked to. But we have not seen the search warrant, obviously, or any of the documents that could become unsealed tomorrow. So it`s difficult to say with any certainty what they will or will not show.

But I think you are right, if there`s any classified material, in those documents, it would be rejected. It`s not something the government would out and be seen publicly.

VELSHI: This was already an interesting story that got a whole lot more interesting, thanks to your colleagues and their intrepid reporting. Phil, thank you for being with us tonight.

Phil Rucker is the deputy national editor at "The Washington Post" and we appreciate your time.

Joining us now is the former director of the CIA, John Brennan.

Director, thank you for being with us, particularly on shore to notice. I want to start with the obvious question, how big of a deal is this?


When I heard about this that there could be documents related to nuclear matters, whether it be our nuclear force structure, decision-making practices and procedures, as well as presidential authorities, these are exceptionally sensitive documents that are restricted in terms of who has access to them, who can handle them, how they are stored.

And so, to take them out of the White House I think is the height of recklessness and irresponsibility. When I worked with the Obama White House as it is at homeland security adviser and deputy adviser, I had access to some of these documents. But when it became director of CIA, I know longer had access to them, because I didn`t need them, and because they needed to be held under tremendous lock and key. They are not even uploaded into top secret information systems. It`s that sensitive.

So I don`t know what the Department of Justice and the FBI were looking for, but if it deals with some of the most sensitive documents, dealing with nuclear matters of the United States, our force posture, as well as the capabilities are allies, as well as our adversaries, this is, again, something that I can understand now why the Department of Justice and FBI, went into Mar-a-Lago to retrieve those documents, because they need to stay under 24/7 protection and hardened facilities. And the fact that they can be accessed by people unauthorized, that can -- as well as who don`t know how sensitive they are, this is something that had to be addressed.

VELSHI: Information that`s that classified, you started to answer this question by talking about the fact that they are not uploaded to certain servers. They are hardened facilities. Even people like the director of the CIA who, if they don`t need access to certain information, they don`t get access to certain information. All this leads to my next question. That this couldn`t have likely been inadvertently, all that stick this in my file, I am leaving office.

This type of information, someone would have to do work to get it out of where it is supposed to be?

BRENNAN: Absolutely, and they would know what these documents were. This is what`s called a special access program, SAP. And there are special markings, this is above top secret and code, they are special compartments and special categories that nuclear matters fall in. And, which is why they are so restricted in terms of who has access to them.

So they are kept in very -- closely guarded areas in the White House complex, and access to them requires someone to actually bring them to an office, and usually stay with them. And put them back under the special security procedures that must, must be enforced at all times.

The fact that they got out of the White House and in Mar-a-Lago, again, if this is actual reporting, I don`t doubt that the Washington Post is referring to nuclear related things, but there are some -- sensitive documents that go well beyond your traditional top secret concerns.

VELSHI: There is reporting from some people that have some familiarity with us, the release of the publicity of these documents could cause, in the words of "The Washington Post" article, could cause great harm to U.S. security.

Talk to me, not knowing what this is, all we know is the word nuclear is and there is somewhere, we probably got to nuclear weaponry but we don`t know if it`s our nuclear weaponry, or the nuclear weaponry of an adversary, or an ally. What are the circumstances, you would`ve known that as director of CIA, what are the circumstances in which having that information exists out of its top secret, highly classified environment, is dangerous?

BRENNAN: Obviously, our adversaries. Specifically Russia and China would do anything to be able to gain access to these types of documents, because we give them insight, into what our capabilities, our particularly what our areas of vulnerability might be to their weapons development.


And so, anybody who happen upon them, if they wanted to try to find a user or a party that was interested in them, they could easily do that by going overseas.

And so, that`s why these documents, this information is kept so highly tightly controlled because what you don`t want to is give our adversaries any additional information about what our capabilities are, which is why I`m sure the documents, the list of the documents that they are going after, or the text material, will only be generic in nature. But, I hope that the motion to unseal the search warrant is going to be granted because it will give people, especially those skeptics and the Republicans in Congress who have come out and lashing out against the FBI and the department of justice, those institutions that keep this country safe, I think is appalling but they have done so far.

And so, therefore, I do hope there is going to be at least some transparency into just how sensitive the material is without giving away any, any content of what is in those documents.

VELSHI: Again, this argument that we are hearing from some quarters already, whatever was he is was declassified. You can invent, that we can`t just say, oh that pile that you got classified, I took care of that.

BRENNAN: I`ve been hearing this, the usual practice, and every president that I worked for, has called the practice of you go back to the agency that originally classified a document, or a program. And you seek their concurrence, and make sure that you do not do any inadvertent or intentional damage to U.S. national security by declassifying or documents.

And then a president can make a decision. But for him to just say, arbitrarily, and you know laterally, these are declassified, these are any kind of nuclear documents, that would be the height of recklessness, irresponsibility, and would be gravely, gravely damaging, U.S. national security interest. And I think everybody should be outraged, if that is what occurred.

VELSHI: If that is what occurred, though, you and I have struggled for the last five years to figure out where the checks and balances have been in this administration. And what we did learn is that there were people and the intelligence infrastructure, and the Defense Department who are whistleblowers, who did say enough is enough, and this is dangerous. I would assume that this would be a trigger, right? If that happened would we know? Would we know if Donald Trump had these classified information that by being declassified, would have pose a national security risk to America? Would we ever find out if that`s true?

BRENNAN: Well who knows what document he may have taken out of the White House. Clearly there were some, that`s why the FBI and DOJ going after this. But there is supposed to be a record of every document that was declassified. And what I`m hearing from the Trump people is that well, it wasn`t recorded. Well, that allows Trump and others to say after the fact, he just the cost by this. That is not the way national court is possibly manage and handled and particularly overseen by the president of the United States.

So I find that the argument is really quite specious in terms, oh I declassified it all. Again, it would be reckless and irresponsible just by the wave of his hand to declassify information that could be put people`s lives at risk, could put very sensitive technical collections programs at risk, and could put the national security of the United States of America at risk. And that`s why I am so glad that we are going to get to the bottom of this and if there were documents that shouldn`t been at Mar-a-Lago, I`m sure that the FBI will say look, you will be true whatever was there.

VELSHI: Well, as you know as the former government employee, we can`t take stuff from the government. Even stuff that you feel very attached to and very close, two very involved in, it`s government profit, you can take that.

But for the last couple of days, there has been some speculation that maybe Donald Trump took stuff away that he should have taken. That should`ve been in the archives. Not all that serious.

As we uncover more of this in the next 24 hours, if it becomes this serious, what happened? What should happen?

BRENNAN: Well, I think Donald Trump should be treated like any other former government official. If they intentionally took documents, or took information out of the government, there is a highly sensitive of classified nature, I think there should be penalties for that, or there should be in fact charges brought to bear.

Now there are all different types of potential damage. There is some material that he may have taken out that is just some government property. And there might have been some classified information of the confidential secret level.

But then this also the most highly sensitive, most highly restricted, and most sensitive information that the U.S. government and national security apparatus keeps control over. And if anybody from a lowly official, and the intelligence community, to the president of the United States, if they put those documents at risk, and they remove them from government facilities, I do think that that the Department of Justice has to make a determination about whether or not charges in fact should be filed.

So I will leave it to those professionals who I have great confidence in, and where we spoke, for at the Department Justice to make a determination about what should be taken if indeed, these documents are found at Mar-a- Lago.

VELSHI: John Brennan, we appreciate your time tonight. John Brennan is a former director of the CIA.

We`re going to have more on this bombshell reporting from "The Washington Post" tonight, and some of the documents the FBI was searching for at Mar- a-Lago relating to nuclear weaponry.

The big news out of the Justice Department today where Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he is moving forward with an sealing the search warrant that was executed at Trump`s home.

And an attack on the FBI facility in Cincinnati.

A lot to get here tonight. Stay with us.



VELSHI: It was already an incredibly busy news day before that bombshell from "The Washington Post" broke shortly before we came on air. That paper reporting tonight that the FBI searched former President Donald Trump`s home to look for classified documents relating to nuclear weapons. We`re going to continue to follow that story as it develops.

I want to turn now to major news of the day, although it`s all connected. After three days of suspense, and three days of speculation, and three days of attack from right-wing media and Republican politicians, today, the Attorney General Merrick Garland broke his silence. The notoriously tight- lipped attorney general became but before the American public and announced that he and the Justice Department are in fact prepared to reveal the federal warrant that they have obtained to search Donald Trump`s home.


MERRICK GARLAND, 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 that the FBI conducted earlier this week. That surge was a premise located in Florida, belonging to the former president.

The department did not make any public statements on the day of the search. The former presidents publicly confirmed the search that evening as is his right.

The department filed a motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former presidents public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter.


VELSHI: The Justice Department has filed a motion to unseal the search warrant for Donald Trump`s home.

For the past few days, Trump allies and Republicans on Capitol Hill have been clamoring for the attorney to explain himself, come out, and explain this FBI search of a former president`s home. Until Merrick Garland basically said, okay, fine. You want answers? I`ll show you the warrant.

Attorney General Garland also confirmed today that he personally signed off on the search of Trump`s home prior to it happening. And he made a point of calling out the attacks on federal law enforcement that have been emanating from the political right, ever since this search became public.


GARLAND: Let me address recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors. I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked. The men and women up the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic, public servants. Every day, they protect the American people from violent crimes, terrorism, and other threats to their safety, while safeguarding our civil rights.

They do so at great personal sacrifice, and risk, to themselves. I am honored to work alongside.


VELSHI: I am honored to work alongside them.

Questions on everyone might after Merrick Garland`s press conference today was when will we get to see the search warrant?

The answer to that question is now working through the federal court system in Florida. Attorney General Garland said today that President Trump and his lawyers should have an opportunity to weigh in on whether or not they want that search warrant released to the public.

You know, just a case Republican suddenly decide to change their mind about whether or not they really want the answers, that they have been demanding on Fox News for the past 72 hours straight.

A federal judge in Florida has given the Justice Department until 3:00 p.m. tomorrow to meet with Trump`s lawyers and report back on whether or not Trump will sign off on the release of that search warrant.

Shortly after the attorney general spoke, the former president released a statement, once again, attacking the FBI, but not say one way or another, whether or not he will support the release of that search warrant.

Tonight, "The New York Times`" Katie Better was the first to report that Trump allies are considering opposing the release of the warrant, and they contacted outside lawyers to discuss the possibility. NBC News has not yet confirmed that reporting. But it seems a lot more understandable now that it did a couple hours ago when I first saw that reporting.

Maybe if you are Trump`s lawyers, you don`t want this stuff out there. For now, we`re going to have to wait and see what happens. But even before Merrick Garland made his statement to the public, we were already learning new details about the search and how it happened.

NBC News has confirmed that the Justice Department sent Donald Trump a subpoena for missing White House documents before the FBI search his home looking for them, some time before actually. As "The New York Times" first reported today, quote, former President Donald J. Trump received a subpoena at this spring in search of documents that federal investigators believed he had failed to turn over, earlier in the year, when he returned boxes of material he improperly taken with them upon moving out the White House, three people with a familiar with the matter said.


The subpoena suggest that the Justice Department tried methods, short of a search warrant, to account for the material before taking the politically explosive step of sending FBI agents unannounced to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump`s home, and members of only club, end quote.

"The New York Times" also cites two people briefed on the documents at Mar- a-Lago who indicated, quote, that there were so sensitive in nature, related to national security, that the justice department had to act. Since the raid took place on Monday, Republicans none of whom had provided any insight on what it might be contained in the documents that were seized had nonetheless responded with outrage and demands for answers.

Why did the FBI have to search Trump`s home? Why couldn`t they have just asked Donald Trump for the documents? Why won`t Merrick Garland explain himself?

Well, today, we got answers to basically all of those questions. The Justice Department did ask Trump for those documents. That even sent him a subpoena. An informant told them that Trump did not hand over. They searched his home as a matter of last resort, and Attorney General Merrick Garland is ready to show you the warrant, signed by a federal judge, that authorized that search, as well as a list of with the FBI collective.

The question now, what are we going to learn next?

Joining us is the former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade.

Barbara, there is so much going on tonight. I want to start with your reaction. You have seen a lot in your life, in your career.

But the breaking news from "The Washington Post" that some of the information that the Justice Department was searching for with the FBI were nuclear documents. I`m not sure I have words to understand what has happened here.

BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Now, I think it`s really stunning that that is the content of these documents. There is no innocent explanation if these documents indeed included information about America`s nuclear secrets. One has to wonder, what on Earth could be the reason that Donald Trump would want to possess those things?

In my career, I did national security cases. On occasion, I had an opportunity to review, and hold documents that were at the top secret level. And it might commit quiver to read them. I do want to hold it, I wanted to put them away somewhere so -- it terrified me to have it in my hands.

The idea that you can take those boxes and put it in your basement is really astonishing. It`s also a very serious crime, Ali. The Espionage Act makes it a crime to gather and retain improperly national defense information. It doesn`t even have to be classified information, it doesn`t matter of Donald Trump declassify that information.

As long as it reports to the national defense which, nuclear, weapon information absolutely would qualify for. It`s a crime to mishandle this. It`s punishable for up to ten years in prison. It`s a very, very serious development.

VELSHI: So, I wanted to go back to what you said, there`s no explanation to this because I`ve spoken to many people in government, you know, doesn`t you everyone who works in government, knows this, you can`t take, anything you can`t -- ever it`s all government property. Anything that happened during the time you are in government, it`s government property, can`t take it.

But there have been people -- I`ve been people wondering, and I`m one of them, could these be pictures of -- boxes of pictures or notes or things that are an important? But what CIA Director Brennan told me earlier is, no, there is no possibility that nuclear information or secrets at the highest level could inadvertently make it into the box of autographs that you collected while you were president.

MCQUADE: Yeah, I think that`s absolutely right. This is the kind of document that you wouldn`t be on your desk in the pile with all of the other things of your to do list. These are kept in special places, kept in SCIFs, which is a secure compartmented information facility. They aren`t just lying around. And for someone to take proactive steps to obtain these documents, and that`s a very important factor because it points toward the woefulness aspect of this.

Unlike many times, it`s necessary when you have an a violation of the espionage act to showed not only the person knew that they had the thing, but they knew it was illegal to have the thing. So, if it took extraordinary steps to take it and retain it and you refused to produce it even after you were asked to voluntarily produce it and asked to produce it in the subpoena, and it took a search warrant for them to get it back, there`s strong evidence there of not only a strong violation, but it willful violation of the law.


VELSHI: Now, let`s talk about what happened this afternoon. First, you have -- about 2:00 p.m., we had Attorney General Garland`s coming out and saying, all, right you want to see the documents? We will give you the documents. Then he says, I don`t know if it`s magnanimous or it legally necessary, but he said, Donald Trump and his lawyers should have an opportunity to have to sign off on this idea.

So, the judge said, you have the 3:00 tomorrow to get in touch with Trump`s lawyers and come back to us and see if you want to release these documents.

Then we got Katie Benner`s reporting from "The New York Times", before I saw "The Washington Post" reporting which said that there is some talk that maybe Trump`s lawyers, or Trump`s circle doesn`t want disinformation released. And I thought that odd because everyone`s been agitating to be getting the set for at least the next couple of days. And, of course, when "The Washington Post" reporting comes out, I`m thinking to myself, if any of that is true, and we don`t know it`s reporting, and we haven`t been able to confirm it ourselves, but if that`s true, that`s a kind of stuff that the FBI was looking for, maybe if I am Trump world, I don`t want the warrant being publicized.

MCQUADE: I think that Trump was gaming out and bluffing a bit here when he was clamoring about, this is an outrage, we have to see what this is all about, we have to hear from the Justice Department. They fully expected I think, the Justice Department to rely on its policy, to conform nor deny the existence of this investigation, and to say nothing, and to speak only through court filings. And this one was under seal.

And so, really, this is a purely brilliant strategy by Merrick Garland here. I don`t know if it was his idea or one of his staff, but someone said what did we did talk through our documents, because I think Merrick Garland was chosen for this job to restore the norms to the Justice Department. And as I said, it`s important to have norms, and it`s even more important to adhere to them in times of crisis. And this is one of them.

So he found a way to adhere to the norms. But still provide the information that the public really did need and deserve. And he said there`s been strong public interest in this matter. So that is to unseal the document.

He didn`t talk about Donald Trump at the press conference, he talked about process, he talked about the integrity of the FBI, and they found a motion to unseal this so it will be speaking through their court filings.

As to Donald Trump`s suggestion in Katie Benner`s reporting that he might oppose it after all of this, is really quite rich. But as you have mentioned, Ali, if it does say things like, their nuclear secrets in this document, you might see why he would want to stop it.

I don`t think that`s going to happen. I think ordinarily, public records, court file records, are in the public domain. It is the government that typically seeks to protect them from disclosure, so it`s not to undermine the success of the criminal investigation.

Once they wanted to be unsealed, it`s difficult to imagine that Donald Trump will prevail and getting it unsealed -- in keeping it sealed.

VELSHI: Barb, you and I have been through a lot through the last few years, we`ve covered a lot of things we would expect to be talking about, and this is just another installment in the crazy stuff that happens in America. Good to see you, my friend.

Thank you for being here, former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade.

All right. One other important piece of news regarding the story that we can report tonight, NBC News confirms that someone familiar with the documents stored at Mar-a-Lago tipped off investigators in June to the fact that there may have been more classified documents at the club, which led to Monday`s execution of a search warrant.

Separately, NBC News has identified the man that attacked an FBI field officer in Cincinnati, Ohio, today. He was at the Capitol riot on January 6th. He posted some alarming things about the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago online. We`ll have that story, next.



VELSHI: As I said, there`s a lot of there`s a lot of news having to do with this Mar-a-Lago search warrant. At around 9:15 a.m. this morning, a man who NBC has identified as Ricky Walter Shiffer entered the Cincinnati, Ohio FBI field office, and fired a nail gun at law enforcement personnel.

We are not exactly clear about this order of these next immediate events, but the field office, Shiffer brandished an AR-15 rifle, an alarm was set, of FBI agents response to the attack and Shiffer fled in his car. He drove northeast on the interstate where he was spotted by state trooper at about 9:37 a.m. The trooper tried to initiate a traffic stop, but Shiffer fled, and during the pursuit, he fired his weapon other troopers.

At about 9:53 p.m. Shiffer stopped his vehicle here in a rural county of Clinton, rural area of Clinton County, and exchanged gunfire with troopers as he got out of his car. That led to an hours long standoff in a cornfield. Trooper says he did try to negotiate, and try to capture him with less than lethal force. In the end, they shot him, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Early today, there was speculation and fear that this attack may have been motivated by the dangerous far-right response to the FBI`s source of former President Donald Trump`s personal residence at Mar-a-Lago. And tonight, there are new indications that that may in fact be the case.

NBC News has confirmed that Shiffer was at the Capitol riots on January 6th, but it was his actions in recent days that are most unsettling. The day after the raid on Mar-a-Lago, Shiffer took to Trump`s social media network, Truth Social it`s called, and he posted a tiring calling for violence. I`m not going to repeat the whole thing here but cause a doesn`t deserve to be amplified, but it did include things like, quote, we must not tolerate this one, and calling for people to arm themselves, and be ready for combat.


Then in response to a reply to that propose, which asked Shiffer if he was advocating for terrorism, he responded, that users should kill FBI agents on site. In response to another user, Shiffer replied, you are a fool if you think there`s a nonviolent solution.

And after another user responded that his photo and info had been forwarded to the FBI, Shiffer responded: bring them on.

And today at 9:29 a.m., directly after the attack, on the FBI field office, Shiffer posted this, quote: Well, I thought I had a way through the bulletproof glass, and I didn`t. If you don`t hear from me, it`s true, I try to attacking the FBI, and it will mean I was either taken off the internet, the FBI got me, or they sent the regular cops, and it just ops there midsentence. Luckily, no one but Shiffer was hurt today.

NBC`s Ben Collins was part of the team that confirms the suspect`s identity for NBC and dug up his social media post tonight, and following that story all day.

Ben, amazing. You have been looking around from dark parts of the Internet. I don`t even know how to describe the story. But this is a guy who was fairly actively responding to the right wing response to the search. There has been a right-wing response that said that this was illegitimate and the FBI needs to explain itself and the Department of Justice did. This guy seems to have decided to add a lid on itself.

BEN COLLINS, NBC NEWS SENIOR REPORTER: Yeah, Ali, I want to say, the very dark person of the internet that I go on the neo-Nazi parts they don`t really care about this much. But the parts that are Trump obsessed like truly upset with Donald Trump. Those are the people right now, who are the most angry, and that`s what you saw today.

For example, I want to say, on May 7th, this is what Rick Shiffer posted in response to Marjorie Taylor Greene. Congresswoman Greene, they got away with fixing the election in plain sight. It`s over. The next up is the one we use in 1775.


COLLINS: So he was thinking like this for a while. And then, this search of Mar-a-Lago happens. And he said this is the end of. It we must not tolerate this one. That`s what he said two days ago. And that`s what led to this entire thing.

So my worry is that this is not on the darkest part of the Internet. I know those places. I know where the neo-Nazis hang out. I know they`re Telegrams, and all that stuff. This is on the parts that are obsessed with Donald Trump. These are your neighbors. These other people down the street, who are convinced by the way, that the IRS hiring 87,000 new agents, that`s a secret ploy for people to come and take your guns. And they`re going to come any day now. So you got to get arms.

VELSHI: He had posted again, we are not repeated all of, it but you written about it. He had posted for people to get the gun shops, and pawnshops, as soon as I can, to be armed. I mean so this is bill talk about war, it wasn`t even talk about -- and there`s been civil war talk in the last couple of days. And people like me think that`s nonsense.

But the fans are being flames in fairly mainstream conservative media, about the FBI, about the Justice Department, about witch hunt. And this is where it kind of ended up.

COLLINS: Well, that`s the thing here, all these people that performs attacks, they all think that they are kicking something off. They think that they are the guys starting the battle. But then there are abandoned by their own people.

Already on these forms, that he attended, they say, oh this is a false flag. This is really Antifa, this is the FBI setting things up. Isn`t it a coincidence that only he died here? That`s sort of thing.

Even though there are months and years worth a post, this guy was at the Capitol on January 6. He told people in recent months to go join your local Proud Boys because those people know what they are doing for the revolution.

They all think that they are kicking something off but the actual followers, they don`t want to leave the house. They didn`t support Donald Trump from home, and when people try to take it seriously as you hear on Fox News, or as you hear on those YouTube channels, where they say this is war, all of a sudden, they immediately abandon them.

VELSHI: That`s amazing. The guy that went to an FBI office, and tried to shoot his way into it.

Ben, thanks for your coverage. It`s important as always.

Ben Collins is the senior reporter at NBC News.

We have much more on all of these breaking stories just ahead.



VELSHI: Joining us now is NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

Michael, thank you for being with us. I had other plans for the discussion that you and I are going to have tonight, but one of the producers found something you tweeted at 3:00 p.m. today. And you wrote: What if a classified document on U.S. handling of nuclear weapons or names of CIA agents was given or sold by or stolen from an ex-President who had stashed it in his basement?

This was several hours before the reporting about the fact that the documents might have been having to do with nuclear stuff.

What were you thinking? Because you were postulating something that as an historian, you would have said, that would be really bad if that happened.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I`m sure not Nostradamus. And what this is really, I was thinking what is conceivably the worst thing we could find in those documents, and by the way, we`re talking tonight, as you know, Ali, you and I agree about a news report, not evidence yet, but we`ll soon know one or the way.

And if Donald Trump kept his basement or somewhere else, illegally, classified documents with nuclear secrets, and then we don`t know this yet, and we may never know it to pass those two potential enemies of the United States that could`ve been terrorists, hostile foreign governments.


I`m just trying to find out what would be the worst-case -- those could be used to kill our children, as Americans. That`s about the worst thing that a president could do.

We`re a long way from learning that he did do that, what is the maximum exposure is tonight. That`s what it is. And we`re going to have to find out fast.

There`s a deadline tomorrow, 3:00 p.m., as reported, for that search warrant to come out. It`s essential that we see that search warrant before or after 3:00 p.m. tomorrow. And it`s essential that we find out what these documents were, if they were nuclear, if they were that degree of gravity. This goes from being documents case to a case of espionage or even conceivably, I hate even say this word, treason.

VELSHI: It is a remarkable development and I am glad we have you here. I am sorry that you are even possibly close to being right in your tweet this afternoon --

BESCHLOSS: Same here.

VELSHI: -- because it`s a pretty serious.

Michael, thanks for your time tonight. We appreciate it.

BESCHLOSS: Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI: Michael Beschloss is an NBC news presidential historian and might I say, worth following on Twitter. We`ll be right back.


VELSHI: All right. That does it for us tonight. We`re going to see you again tomorrow.


And I`m glad someone with your experience is taking over at this point, Lawrence, because I`m out of capacity. Tonight news was just beyond when I was able to comprehend, could be possible.