Fallout continues following the FBI raid of Donald Trump`s Mar-a- Lago home. How are Republicans reacting to the FBI Mar-a-Lago raid? Former Senator Doug Jones speaks out.
JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on THE REIDOUT:
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DAN BONGINO, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is some Third World bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED) right here.
Let me say it again, Third World bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: The FBI right now is the Gestapo.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Make no mistake. If you`re associated with Donald Trump in any way, you better cross all your I`s and dot all your T`s because they`re coming for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: Despite the freak-out from the right, there are serious legal ramifications for Trump, as we`re learning more about yesterday`s FBI search, but what consequences there will be for the dark MAGA forces threatening violence on social media, some not even bothering to disguise their identities.
And why should not -- why you should not buy into the hype that the FBI`s search at Mar-a-Lago is somehow unprecedented.
Good evening.I`m Jason Johnson, in for Joy Reid.
And we begin tonight 24 hours after perhaps the biggest story in the history of the American presidency, that, for the first time in history, the FBI conducted a search at the home of a former president, that of Donald Trump.
We have learned a lot more about what went down and his Mar-a-Lago residence, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions. A source familiar with the matter tells NBC News that the search was tied to classified information Trump allegedly took with him when he left the White House.
Remember, back in February, the National Archives asked the Justice Department to investigate if Trump`s handling of White House records violated federal law. It came a month after the Archives retrieved 15 boxes of presidential records taken at Mar-a-Lago.
NBC News has also learned that the FBI notified Trump`s Secret Service detail guarding the property in advance and presented their warrant from a judge for meeting them to enter. White House officials tell NBC News they had no prior knowledge of the search, and Justice Department officials are refusing to comment.
Trump was not at Mar-a-Lago at the time. He`s been staying at his New Jersey golf club in Bedminster, where he is meeting tonight with a group of House Republicans. Trump`s own lawyer has confirmed that the FBI -- quote - - "seized paper" from Mar-a-Lago.
What those papers may include is still unclear, though members of the Trump family are trying to downplay what might have been found at Trump`s Florida home.
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ERIC TRUMP, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: My father always kept clippings, press clippings. He would have newspaper articles, pictures, notes from us. When my mom passed away a couple of weeks ago, he still had all the notes over the years, had been saved, all the notes that she had ever written him.
I mean, it`s a beautiful thing. My father saves clippings and things like that. So he had boxes, right, when he moved out of the White House.
LARA TRUMP, DAUGHTER-IN-LAW OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: My father-in-law, as anybody knows who`s been around him a lot, loves to save things like newspaper clippings, magazine clippings, photographs, documents that he had every authority, Will, to take from the White House.
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JOHNSON: Yes, now, I ain`t passed the law -- I ain`t passed the bar, but I know a little bit, enough to know the FBI can`t illegally search Trump`s residence without good reason.
The decision to seek the warrant would be heavily scrutinized at the DOJ. Then a federal judge would need to be convinced that not only is there probable cause that a crime was committed, but that there was actual evidence of the crime at the location to be searched.
According to Dave Aronberg, the state attorney for Palm Beach County, where Mar-a-Lago resides, what we saw yesterday was likely about a lot more than just newspaper clippings.
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DAVE ARONBERG, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA, STATE ATTORNEY: This search warrant, in my mind, would never have been issued if it was merely about removing government documents, if it was merely about that Trump keepsakes from Kim Jong-un.
This most likely, in my mind, involved a willful removal or destruction of classified documents that could jeopardize national security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: Joining me now is Jessica Levinson, professor at Loyola Law School, Paul Butler, professor at Georgetown Law School and a former federal prosecutor, and Daniel Goldman, candidate for New York`s 10th congressional district. He is also a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and the former lead counsel for Trump`s impeachment trial.
Thank you all so much for joining me this evening.
This is going to be quite the night.
Daniel, I will start with you. We have just gotten word that not only, of course, was there the raid yesterday, but that it had nothing to do with the January 6 impeachment, nothing to do with the attack one way or another.
But is there a possibility, from your experience and your knowledge, that what was discovered there could end up in the hands of the January 6 Committee or in another division at the DOJ if it ends up being helpful?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC IMPEACHMENT COUNSEL: Yes, it`s definitely possible that some of the materials could be relevant.
But my guess is that they had very specific evidence related to some important documents that were in Mar-a-Lago and that Trump was not coughing up. You can be sure this was not press clippings or magazine photos or keepsakes. That is absolutely not what would lead a judge to authorize a search warrant.
So, if it`s -- I think we all suspected it related to the classified documents. But I think it`s really important to understand that Donald Trump and his lawyers were in regular discussions both with the FBI and with the National Archives up through June .And then they issue a search warrant.
And that would only come about because there was no other way that they could be certain to get the materials that they uncovered were in the Mar- a-Lago residents. And they almost certainly uncovered them because they had witness testimony that identified exactly what was there and where it was.
So the reason they had to go forward with a search warrant, rather than a subpoena or a simple request, is because they had evidence that Donald Trump or others were either concealing these documents, potentially would destroy these documents, or otherwise may have been obstructing this investigation.
JOHNSON: Paul, my question is, if these are sort of archival documents, things that Trump was still holding on to, what potentially could he be doing with this?
Look, we think of White House archives, that can be anything from who visited the White House. It could be important, secret information that they`re selling to foreign leaders. What on earth could Trump actually be doing with documentation that he took with him from the White House? I think that`s something that a lot of public would be curious about.
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Nothing legitimate, Jason.
A classified documents case can be really serious if materials implicate national security or if Trump was holding onto sensitive information that he might use to share with foreign governments or to bribe or embarrass his political opponents.
But, still, withholding classified documents is not punished as severely as felonies like sedition or obstruction of Congress, which other grand juries are reportedly investigating Trump for. But, as you pointed out, if the agents who executed this search warrant come across other incriminating evidence relating to those crimes, they are allowed to seize that evidence.
So, this search warrant is kind of a twofer.
JOHNSON: Professor Levinson, what we have seen here from the former press -- former member of the Trump administration is quoted as saying -- Sarah Isgur -- as saying: "Look, just a reminder, Trump has a copy of the warrant, which will include what they searched for and what crimes they believe were broken. He can release that whenever he wants."
This is really important, because this is somebody who was a part of his administration. What would be the value of Donald Trump sharing with the public, hey, look, this is what the warrant said, this is the information? And why might he not have released that yesterday when he had the opportunity, but still released a statement complaining?
JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Well, I think the value for him is low, because he`s claiming that this is a political witch-hunt, when, in fact, what we`re witnessing is really just legal proceedings.
We`re just seeing the legal process play out. So I think there`s very little value to him, because, as you laid out so clearly, what we have here is a member of federal law enforcement, the Department of Justice swearing under oath a federal crime was committed, there`s probable cause of that, there`s probable cause of evidence of that crime is at Mar-a-Lago, and then, independently, a federal judge, a magistrate judge, saying, yes, I agree with you, go ahead.
And so I think it would hurt President Trump`s narrative, then. If he gives us, if he shows us the search warrant, I have a strong suspicion that that would show that there was in fact, very specific reasons that the FBI had to go in.
As you just had the discussion, if they were willing to provide this information, then you don`t have to execute a search warrant. And so there`s really no win for the former president. I think there`s a win for the public. But if you want to peddle the, I think, false narrative that this is just a political witch-hunt, then you don`t provide that search warrant.
JOHNSON: Let`s bring in Marc Caputo, senior national political reporter for NBC News Digital.
Marc, thanks so much for joining us tonight.
My question is, how is this resonating back in D.C. now? Like, we -- the White House has said, hey, we had no idea. We have Ron DeSantis saying, oh, my goodness, that`s terrible. But, in Washington, D.C., there have to be Democrats who are either privately cheering or at least publicly saying we`re happy that something`s happening.
What`s sort of the national fervor in the Democratic Party when it comes to this raid investigation?
MARC CAPUTO, NBC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: What you`re not hearing publicly from Democrats is that they don`t want to be gloating about this, but it`s a good day for them.
The reality is, is, President Obama, while Republicans don`t like it -- or pardon me -- President Biden, while Republicans don`t like it, has just completed signing or just completed a good stretch of signing legislation he has pushed for.
And on the day after he gets his big legislative agenda accomplished, the former president winds up having the FBI search his estate in a criminal case.
This is the contrast that President Biden would like to run against. There is this belief among some and Trump world that, oh -- and you see it on Twitter -- oh, Joe Biden is scared of facing Donald Trump.
It`s kind of the opposite. There are a lot of people in Biden`s orbit and in the Democratic more broadly -- party more broadly -- "The Hill" wrote a story about this -- that believe, look, President Biden`s best matchup is former President Trump.
It`s not some of the other guys, like Ron DeSantis. And the reality is, perhaps paradoxically, this big FBI search of Trump`s state of Mar-a-Lago has had a rallying effect among Republicans around their chief, the former commander in chief, who is now ready, more ready and willing than ever to run for office again, and setting up a showdown against Joe Biden.
That`s the guy that Joe Biden wants to run against. So it looks like both of them are sort of hurtling toward each other. Both of them want to face each other. But, as far as Democrats are concerned, Donald Trump is a much better opponent for Joe Biden than, say, Ron DeSantis.
JOHNSON: Paul, I`m curious about this, because many on the right, and even just maybe some skeptical Americans, are like, well, it`s just documents, it`s just additional information. Why they got to stick him for his papers? We don`t understand this.
You worked with the magistrate that signed the warrant that made this raid possible. Can you give us a little insight into this individual, that -- was he a strong partisan? Did he hate Donald Trump? Or was he the kind of person that would only sign over this kind of warrant if he thought it was absolutely necessary for the safety of this country?
BUTLER: Jason, the really good news answer to your question is that I don`t know about this judge`s politics, but I worked for -- with him for several years in the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice.
But we didn`t talk about partisan politics, as I`m sure Merrick Garland, who approved this raid, also didn`t. But it`s significant that he -- Garland had to approve this search warrant. The alternative would be that a grand jury could have just subpoenaed the materials and allowed Trump to hand them over back on his own terms.
So the search warrant means that Merrick Garland does not trust Trump and believes that he`s capable of obstructing justice or tampering with evidence.
JOHNSON: Professor Levinson, when I think about this sort of stepping back from 300 feet away, you have a former president who has classified documents in his home.
He was being asked by the federal government to return them. They had to come down and get them himself. What are some of the legal consequences that he could face for this alone, for simply this alone? And I think about this. I`m a college professor. I know, hey, if you`re too late with a library book, we`re not going to let you graduate, right?
What are some of the things that can happen legally to any official who takes federal documents and keeps them in their home so long that the FBI has to go in and get them?
LEVINSON: Or really for any period of time, and you`re just not willing to hand them over and say, oh, my gosh, I`m so sorry. I didn`t realize that was in my basement, attic, safe, et cetera.
So what are the punishments here? I think, based on the federal statutes that we`re looking at, one of them would say you could face up to three years in federal prison. But I think also what`s important to note is maybe what`s not on the table.
There`s part of this federal statute that we`re talking about which says that if you are in fact convicted for basically taking documents that you shouldn`t take, destroying documents, that you could, in fact, be disqualified from holding federal office. And I think federal office would include the presidency.
The problem here is that it`s the Constitution that actually lays out the qualifications for being president. And when there is a conflict between the Constitution and a congressional statute, we know who wins, and it`s the Constitution.
So I know there`s been a lot of talk about, if he`s convicted, would he be disqualified from holding office again? I think the answer is no. He`s over 35. He was born in this country. He`s lived here for 14 years. If we want to look at a constitutional provision that would potentially prohibit him from being president again, that`s part of the 14th Amendment, Section 3, that I know you have talked about dealing with really giving aid to an insurrection or a rebellion or enemies of the United States.
That`s separate and apart from what we`re looking at with respect to this FBI search yesterday.
JOHNSON: Daniel, I think this is a key thing, since you were a part of sort of the impeachment trial of the former president of the United States
One of the goals of the impeachment trial, one of the things that people who are concerned about American democracy have really focused on is if we can just keep this guy from ever holding office again, then maybe we can make this country slightly safer going forward.
My question for you is, as Professor Levinson just laid out, yes, perhaps the Constitution will trump sort of a sort of congressional statute. Do you think that is a -- I`m sorry -- do you think that is a fight that Democrats would be willing to make?
Would you think that this administration or the DOJ would be willing to say, hey, we`re going to take this to the Supreme Court, we want to see if we can knock him out of the box before he can even announce?
GOLDMAN: I doubt it.
I mean, if they -- if he is convicted for this charge, I think they would look very carefully. They would get an opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel. But my suspicion is, they probably wouldn`t take it all the way up for the reasons that Jessica said.
I think the bigger issue here is the threat to democracy that Donald Trump continues to make. And part of that is because he is now reportedly going to announce his candidacy for 2024 sooner than otherwise thought because of this raid.
And the reason is, this -- running for president and trying to steal the election and install himself as president is his best criminal defense strategy. He is making this out to be political. That`s always what we expected him to do.
But he is going to try to use this as a political wedge to get his voters out, to try to install himself. And he will do anything necessary, because he views the presidency as safe haven. And he wasn`t charged while he was president last time because of the DOJ regulations.
And he is going to do everything he possibly can to get back in there, so that it will be his safe haven. So the threats to our democracy that started with the first impeachment escalated so significantly obviously with January 6. They are continuing. And I suspect they`re going to get worse, not better, until Donald Trump ultimately either loses the presidency or is put in jail.
JOHNSON: Thanks, Marc Caputo, Jessica Levinson, Paul Butler, and Daniel Goldman, for starting us off.
Up next on THE REIDOUT: the totally irresponsible freak-out on the right, including Kevin McCarthy tweeting a threat to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The REIDOUT continues after this.
JOHNSON: For those of us who have been critical of the DOJ and that it would take a miracle to see any action against Trump, yesterday`s federal raid on Mar-a-Lago was impressive.
To paraphrase Hans Gruber from "Die Hard," you asked for miracles, Theo, I give you the FBI.
On the other hand of the political spectrum, though, Republicans from Congress to FOX News are having fits, terrified that their dear leader might be held accountable.
You have House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowing to investigate the Department of Justice if Republicans went back the House, telling Attorney General Merrick Garland to -- quote -- "clear your calendar."
Congressman Andy Biggs comparing the search to the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, while Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert were calling to defund the police -- oh, I`m sorry -- the FBI.
Even Mike "Reek" Pence came to his former boss` defense, demanding full accounting from the A.G.
Meantime, folks over at FOX News were also, to put it lightly, having an absolute meltdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: But when we get power back, it`s time to hold everyone accountable, the military leadership, the civilian leadership, the civil service, those in Congress who have abused their power.
MARK LEVIN, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: There is no justification for sending 30 frigging FBI agents to the former president`s compound in Mar-a-Lago. This is the worst attack on this republic in modern history, period!
BANNON: The FBI right now is the Gestapo.
BONGINO: This is some Third World bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED) right here.
Let me say it again, Third World bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I mean every word of that.
E. TRUMP: How about the Benghazi scandals? How about the Clinton foundation? I mean, how many shady oligarchs from Russia were contributing to that? Look, about -- how about Uranium One? You want talk about scandals that were never investigated?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: Joining me now, Doug Jones, former Democratic senator from Alabama and former U.S. attorney, and Shermichael Singleton, former Republican political consultant and host of the "ScreenShare" show on Peacock.
Former Senator Jones, I will start with you.
We just had breaking news that Scott Perry, a Trump ally and Republican member of Congress from Pennsylvania, has released a statement to FOX, saying, hey, they took my cell phone. They grabbed my cell phone.
Do you think that this could be in some way connected to what we saw in the raid yesterday? Do you think it`s just part of the DOJ`s overall investigation into people allied with Trump? Because, at this particular point, everything that happens in the 24 to 48 hours after this raid, people are going to try and link back to what happened on Mar-a-Lago.
FMR. SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL): Yes, and it could be. We just don`t know.
I mean, that`s the thing about FBI investigations and Department of Justice investigations. There is so much that we won`t know for some time. Hopefully, there will be a time relatively soon where more information will be available. We`re just not going to be able to see it for a little bit, because we don`t know exactly where this investigation is moving.
What we do know is that there were classified materials at Mar-a-Lago, boxes that were taken out, several, when Donald Trump left the White House. They retrieved. Some of them were torn up and had to be taped back together. They tried to get others and they couldn`t get it.
So they had to execute a search warrant. And I will tell you that this was carefully thought out. Believe me, the attorney general of the United States fully understood the ramifications of this, both politically and legally. And they dotted all the I`s crossed all the T`s, and we will get more information later.
JOHNSON: Shermichael, how is this all resonating behind the scenes in the Republican Party right now?
Now, look, publicly, everybody`s going to say, oh, my gosh, this is an outrage, this is terrible, everything else like that. But, privately, are people concerned? Is money going to dry up? Do you have people saying, oh, my gosh, did I leave my wallet there? Am I in trouble too?
What`s going on behind the scenes, behind the brave faces on the part of the Republican Party right now?
SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, FORMER POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Yes, Doc, thanks for that question.
I mean, I took the opportunity to reach out to several former colleagues from previous political campaigns that I have worked on, many of whom are still involved with the RNC. Some are working on some current Senate elections across -- campaigns, rather, across the country.
And the responses were interesting. I had a few folks who said, I really thought that, even if Trump were to run, that DeSantis probably would continue to move up in the polls. As one friend said, man, this is crazy, because, even if DeSantis were to try and run now, I`m almost certain that Trump is certainly going to be the nominee in 2024. This isn`t good for the party.
Others said that this is a great opportunity for the party to fund-raise off of, that the president probably should even announce early, because it will likely galvanize Republican voters in ways that Republicans have been trying to replicate, that they have haven`t been able to do so effectively without Trump really being out there, without giving those voters the red meat, if you will.
And so, politically, Doc, the answers and responses that I have gotten from colleagues have varied. Some folks just are not happy at all. And I know a lot of viewers who are watching the network are going to say, Shermichael, DeSantis is as worse or worse than Trump.
But, from a Republican perspective, Doc, a lot of insiders sort of view DeSantis as someone who could bring some normalcy back, regardless of what you think about his political ideology. I`m just giving the thought process here. And many of them articulated to me that they don`t think that really matters anymore, because, now that this has occurred, Trump will now portray himself as a victim.
He`s going to likely fund-raise a lot more, which he`s been doing rather effectively up until this point, and more than likely, again, he will probably move up his announcement date. And my friends that I talk to who do like him who are working on his campaign said they don`t see that as a bad thing.
JOHNSON: I don`t see how DeSantis could be more normal. This is a guy who goes after Buzz Lightyear and Mickey Mouse and says that they`re some -- linked to pedophiles.
But I have got to ask you. I want to get your response to this statement from DeSantis after the raid yesterday.
He said: "The raid of Mar-a-Lago is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the regime`s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves. Now the regime is getting another 87,000 IRS agents to wield against its adversaries. Banana republic."
Look, if there`s anybody who has tried to weaponize government against their political enemies, it`s Ron DeSantis.
When you hear a statement like this, is this just him covering himself because he doesn`t want to appear to be giddy that Donald Trump is potentially getting in trouble? Or do you think this is an authentic statement from an otherwise inauthentic autocrat in the making?
SINGLETON: I mean, come on, Doc, you`re a political scientist. Senator Doug Jones is on the show with us. We know what this is all about.
SINGLETON: He is trying to portray however he can some normalcy here to say, you know what, I am as concerned about what`s going on with Donald Trump.
And that statement from a messaging perspective is really intriguing to me, Doc. You and I have talked about the conservative disposition philosophically over the past couple of years now. And it`s fair to say that conservatives are generally more skeptical about government and its entities for a whole host of reasons, at least traditionally speaking.
And so when I look at that message, what I`m seeing is the weaponization of that philosophical foundational belief of conservatives to sort of say, see, this is why we should be against these government entities which are supposed to protect us and provide normalcy and protect the institution of the country.
And so that, I would say, is an intellectual maneuver, if you will, that DeSantis, who`s a pretty smart guy, is utilizing where the base may not really see that, but that`s sort of the way I view this.
JOHNSON: Senator Jones, we also have some information here on continuing investigations that, of course, Republicans will probably not be as angry about now because they`re trying to get upset about the raid, where the -- there`s a ruling that has uphold -- upheld the fact that Trump`s tax records can now go to the January 6 Committee.
How significant is that legally, as far as the arguments against Trump about him possibly getting in trouble for financial malfeasance? How important is it politically that now those tax records will be a part of season two of the January 6 Committee that will be getting in a couple of weeks?
JONES: Well, I think it`s always significant, because Donald Trump has gone to such lengths to withhold those tax returns.
And everybody has thought why, why every other presidential candidate has released their tax returns, except for Donald Trump. And he has got such a tangled web of financial dealings that you have got to figure there`s something there that is maybe not illegal, but is certainly not going to going to look very good in this.
And I -- the Republicans tend to move the goalposts. All of a sudden, we have heard nothing from them about the January 6 Committee, when all they said was, let`s talk about inflation. Well, now, all of a sudden, as things -- the circle gets tighter around Donald Trump, inflation just doesn`t seem to be the issue.
It is this investigation. And the loudest voices, the loudest voices are the most extreme voices. You don`t hear a lot of comments from some of the more establishment Republicans right now, because they know the significance of a search warrant that was authorized, Doc, authorized by a United States district judge, not the Department of Justice.
JONES: They don`t complain when the judiciary overturns Roe vs. Wade and overturns gun laws in New York, but let them complain when a search warrant was issued?
The hypocrisy is pretty stunning.
JOHNSON: I just have to say, the citizens of Alabama lost a fantastic senator when you left office.
Former Senator Doug Jones and Shermichael Singleton, thank you so much for joining us tonight on THE REIDOUT.
What right -- up next: What right-wing politicians and pundits are saying about the search may be laughable, but you be laughing when you see what it`s spawned in the dark corners of the Internet.
Stay with us after this break.
JOHNSON: The freak-out on FOX News over the FBI`s search at Mar-a-Lago pales in comparison to the far more frightening meltdown happening in the dark corners of the right-wing Internet.
NBC`s Ben Collins reports that the most popular comment on the pro-Trump site TheDonald last night read -- quote -- "Lock and load," with a user in the chat thread asking, "Are we not in a cold civil war at this point?"
I don`t even know what that means. That user posting about civil war is a Washington man awaiting sentencing for storming the Capitol on July 6. And the comments about war aren`t limited to anonymous users. Right-wing YouTube influencer Steven Crowder wrote "Tomorrow is war" on his public Twitter account.
Joining me now is Ben Collins, NBC News senior reporter.
I don`t know what a cold civil war is, Ben. Maybe it`s like gazpacho. It`s not as spicy, not as violent. But what I have been noticing online and you have sort of been paying attention to is a lot of sort of angry rhetoric.
Where is some of this coming from, this sort of civil war rhetoric? Is it primarily from known influences? Is it from smaller accounts that are sort of being amplified? Where is that kind of violent talk coming from on social media?
BEN COLLINS, NBC NEWS SENIOR REPORTER: By the way, Slaeker said he would be more specific than cold civil war, but he said online: I`m awaiting sentencing for my trial having to do with January 6, so I can`t be more specific, which is an insane comment, but is actually the truth. It`s actually what took place.
So it`s all coming from years and years of talk about this from right-wing media. People have been prepped that eventually they`re going to have to use those guns. When can we use those guns, they say. When does the shooting start was one of the comments last night, actually, in that very same thread.
They have been prepped that the either the apocalypse is coming, or more simply, their way of life is going away, and they`re going to take your guns. I`m sure you have heard this before. And, at some point, they`re going to have to fight back. That`s what they always say.
They have been waiting for an inflection point. And this, to them, if you watch Infowars, if you have watched Steve Bannon`s "War Room," if you watch any of that stuff, this is just as good of an inflection point as any they can think of.
JOHNSON: Ben, one of the things that I always get concerned about when we see messages getting amplified online is how many -- how much of it is from sort of authentic, verified people that we know are real, and how much of it is bots.
Now, obviously, if you`re on TheDonald, if you`re on some of these sort of right-wing sites, maybe you`re an actual human being. But when it gets to Twitter and it gets to Facebook, we don`t know if these people are real. Do you get the sense that there could be some bot amplification of anger right now that`s going on because of the search of Trump`s Mar-a-Lago location?
Or do you think this really is sort of authentic, and it`s not Astroturf?
COLLINS: It`s almost always a combo of both of these things.
It would be stupid to leave this one on the table. If your point as a as a foreign influence operation is to rile people up, get them in the streets, get people angry enough to cause civil unrest, of course you would probably try to get in on this.
But this happened so quickly that I would say most of this is authentic. It would be really quick to jump on this,to train a botnet on this directly.
But I will say this is a very authentic thing in the right. They have been pushing this idea that they are persecuted, especially -- if you saw at CPAC, you saw that guy pretending to cry in the jail cell pretending to be a January 6 prisoner, as January 6 prisoners` testimonies played in people`s headphones outside of there.
They believe that they are -- that conservatives are being persecuted. They had a panel called "We Are All Domestic Terrorists" at CPAC that was ironic, but the idea that, if you are a conservative, that you are being persecuted against by the FBI.
So this is a real thought. And it`s what they`re going to run on in 2022.
JOHNSON: So a lot of what I have seen also from the right online is even sort of congressional Republican Web sites have said, hey, if this can happen to Donald Trump, this can happen to you. If this can -- if these kinds of raids can occur, what can happen to you?
I`m sorry. I think of Breonna Taylor. That raid was much worse. I think that, eight years ago today, Michael Brown was killed by a police officer. There are many more instances of police and federal agents acting aggressively than what we have seen here.
Is there any sort of pushback that you have seen from defenders of democracy, from Democrats, from just activists and organizers to Republicans trying to frame this as some overstep, when we certainly have seen more dangerous overstep in other places?
COLLINS: Yes, I think most people understand what this is.
If there`s proof -- there`s probable cause, and, in this case, probably way more than probable cause because it`s the former president of the United States. It`s an unprecedented step. You can go in there and take documents that he should not have. You even hear that a little bit on FOX News. Guys like Jonathan Turley will say that on FOX News and get shouted down, obviously.
But, in terms of those echo chambers, they don`t -- they don`t allow for that. You do get banned very easily in places like TheDonald, extremist forums for saying basic stuff like that. You`re not allowed to bring in facts into these debates.
So, are you hearing it in the public? I think most people believe, if the guy committed a crime, you`re allowed to go get the documents out of the guy`s safe. But in the places where they are ramping up for violence, they`re not hearing that at all.
Ben Collins, thank you so much for joining us on THE REIDOUT tonight.
COLLINS: Thank you.
JOHNSON: Still ahead: We`re hearing a lot of talk about how last night`s raid was unprecedented, when, in fact, it was anything but.
NBC News presidential historian, one of my favorite people, Michael Beschloss, joins us next.
JOHNSON: While Trump might be the first former twice-impeached president to have his home searched by the FBI, he is most certainly not the only public official to be searched by the FBI for potential criminality.
In 2006, for the first time in U.S. history, the FBI raided the office of a member of Congress, former Representative William Jefferson, a Democrat from Louisiana. The FBI suspected that he was using his official position to solicit bribes. Agents raided his office and carted off documents and computer hard drives.
That`s not all they found.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, FORMER HOST, "HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS": Well, Democratic Congressman William Jefferson of New Orleans is under investigation for corruption and possible bribery charges.
In brand-new court documents, the FBI says it has videotape of Jefferson accepting a $100,000 bribe which was later stashed in his freezer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: There`s an icebox where his money used to be.
Jefferson was later convicted and ultimately sentenced to 13 years in prison, the longest sentence ever handed down to a member of Congress.
Just last January, the home of Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar was searched by the FBI no less than two months before a March primary, which he eventually won. Cuellar denied any wrongdoing. And, last year, federal investigators executed a search warrant at the home of Rudy Giuliani, seizing cell phones and computers and probably some hair gel.
Joining me now is Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian.
Michael, thank you so much.
I -- as a political scientist, I am intimidated and impressed by historians, so I always love the opportunity to chat with you.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Right back at you, Jason.
BESCHLOSS: I feel the same way about great political scientists like you.
JOHNSON: I have to say, we always talk about we`re living in these sort of historic times.
Put this in context. Given what we have seen happening with this presidency, from the violence of January 6 to some of the commentary, some of the unprecedented behavior that Trump engaged in when he was actually in office, where do you think, in 30 years, this moment is going to be looked at?
Is it going to be an inflection point? It`s like, wow, when the FBI went to Mar-a-Lago, that`s when things began to change. Is this going to be a blip in the sort of whole arc of history? How do you think this will be viewed in 30 years?
BESCHLOSS: Are you assuming, Jason, that people like you and me will be allowed to speak in public and write freely in 30 years?
BESCHLOSS: Is that the hypothetical here?
JOHNSON: I am being unprecedentedly optimistic, OK?
BESCHLOSS: I am too.
JOHNSON: This is way more optimistic than I usually am.
BESCHLOSS: I am too. I am too. OK.
So, with that having been said, I think this will be an inflection point, what we saw in the last 24 hours, because, first of all, we have got to find out what this was all about. The FBI has yet to give up a press conference.
From what I get from people who are expert in this area, this is what they say. The search of a former president`s house is obviously not the way you start an inquiry. That`s never happened before in American history. It happened for, obviously, a pretty important reason, because, if Merrick Garland, who had to approve this, did so and did the wrong thing, his life will be a living hell if the Republicans take over the House this fall.
And there`s that possibility, as you have said many times. So, therefore, this is something that they would do at the last resort, rather than the first resort. And so why would they have done this?
They probably did this because National Archives started a process of communicating with Trump`s lawyers, saying, we`re not questioning motives here, but you took 15 boxes of largely classified documents to Mar-a-Lago. That`s against the law, Federal Records Act, Presidential Records Act, and, therefore, please give them back.
We know that that talk has been going on for months. The only reason you would have a search like this -- and let`s be polite and call it a search and not a raid -- is if Trump was not turning up what he had...
BESCHLOSS: ... or the Archives and the federal government felt that he was not being cooperative.
So we will know a lot more soon. But whatever we learn, it`s probably not going to be great news.
JOHNSON: So, when it comes to looking at the last 25, 30 years, we have had major congressional hearings, right?
JOHNSON: We had hearings about Oliver North. We had hearings about Benghazi. We have had hearings on everything. We had hearings on the Affordable Care Act.
JOHNSON: The Republicans have threatened that, if they take over the house, they will gum up the last two years of President Biden`s first term in office with nothing but hearings about this investigation.
Do you think, if Republicans take over the House and they do that, do you think that might have a tendency to backfire? Because, look, the January 6 hearings have done well because it played into something that the public saw and already knew what was wrong.
I don`t know if an investigation into Merrick Garland is going to give the sort of benefits to Republicans that they think it`s going to give them.
BESCHLOSS: I completely agree with you.
And, even furthermore, think of what Kevin McCarthy has said in the last 24 hours. This is someone who wants to be speaker. He expects to be speaker. Even if the Republicans win, he may not be speaker because Trump could be just as disloyal to him as he has to everyone else...
BESCHLOSS: ... and tip it to Jim Jordan or something like this.
But, for Kevin McCarthy as the leader of the Republicans in the House, to make that ugly threat that he has against a sitting attorney general, Merrick Garland, saying, hope you have got your calendar clear, essentially, as Donald Trump might have put it, you`re going to go through some things, that`s something we have never seen before in American history. This is how bad this is getting.
JOHNSON: Forty-eight years ago, yesterday, we had the announcement that Richard Nixon...
BESCHLOSS: We did.
JOHNSON: ... is going to resign.
Let`s place yesterday`s search, not a raid -- we will call it a search -- let`s put yesterday`s search in this context. In 50 years -- we`re jumping not just 30, 50 years -- will we be looking back at this particular moment in the same way that we look at Nixon`s resignation?
Because, look, Nixon`s resignation is something that everybody learned about in school. It was not just seen as a change politically, but it was a change in the country. The country had never seen a president say, I`m just going to step down from office because I don`t want to handle this. I am not a crook.
Do you think this might be viewed the same way, or might this be the beginning of more troubles?
BESCHLOSS: I think it`s going to show us how much this country has changed for the worse; 48 years ago, as you well know from studying it, not remembering it...
BESCHLOSS: ... Nixon -- Nixon put out tapes that showed that he had obstructed justice. He had told the FBI not to investigate the Watergate break-in, which almost every Republican member of the House and Senate concluded, that`s obstruction of justice, that`s impeachable, goodbye.
Nowadays, instead of that, you have got a situation where Republican leaders in both houses, no matter what Donald Trump does, it`s hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
And the result is that we don`t have that limit on a president`s misbehavior. And, as a result, Donald Trump, what he predicted five or six years ago, could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and get away with it, that is now even true of a president of the United States.
It shows that we are in a terrible state in this country.
JOHNSON: Michael Beschloss, thank you so much for joining me and informing us all tonight on THE REIDOUT.
We will be right back.
JOHNSON: Don`t forget, Americans, we still have a democracy.
Voters in four states went to the polls today, in another test of devotion to the democratic process and devotion to Donald Trump and his MAGA insurrectionists. In Wisconsin, Trump wants to topple Republican assembly speaker Robin Vos, who declined Trump`s illegal request to decertify Wisconsin`s 2020 election results.
You also have a Trump-backed candidate for governor running against a candidate back five Mike "Reek" Pence. In Minnesota, election denier Kim Crockett is running for secretary of state. She`s the one who recently questioned whether disabled people and non-English-speaking citizens should be allowed to vote. Primaries are also being held in Connecticut and Vermont.
Stay with MSNBC throughout the night as the results come in.
And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.