The FBI searched Donald Trump`s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence. The FBI search at Trump`s Mar-a-Lago home Monday was tied to classified material. The FBI has confiscated the phone of Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the House January 6 committee.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Ron Klain got tonight`s Last Word. THE 11TH HOUR with Stephanie Ruhle starts now.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight, the latest on the search at Mar-a- Lago, the legal implications for the former president then how the suppose it party of Law and Order is reacting.
Plus, the alarming online rhetoric grows louder with more threats of violence and civil war. But aren`t these words of war being taken seriously enough.
Then, House lawmakers are a big step closer to getting their eyes on the former guy`s taxes as the 11th hour gets underway on this Tuesday night.
Good evening. Once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. Sit back because we have got a lot to cover. There continues to be more questions than answers about the FBI search of Donald Trump`s Florida home and event that has ignited a political and legal firestorm.
NBC News reports the FBI search was related to classified information Trump allegedly took with them from the White House in January 2021. Trump`s lawyer confirms to NBC News that agents took about a dozen boxes from a basement storage area. She says Trump`s legal team was talking to the Justice Department about White House Records, and that officials had come to Mar-a-Lago this spring to discuss that matter. That was after 15 boxes of documents were already returned to the National Archives earlier this year.
Tonight, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post report that Monday search came after the Feds got concerned that some records were still being withheld. The former president and his allies have relentlessly attacked the FBI and the DOJ for the conducting the search. And they`ve implied that President Biden was behind it, which the White House denies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, the President was not briefed, did not was not aware of it. No, no one at the White House was given a heads up No, that did not happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And just 24 hours after the search, the FBI seized the cell phone of a key Trump ally, Republican Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. According to Perry, the agents presented him with a search warrant to confiscate the phone. Perry, the head of the far-right House Freedom Caucus helps spread election fraud lies and continues to do so today.
House investigators say he may have been a key player in the scheme to overturn the election. Tonight Perry issued this statement quote, my phone contains info about my legislative and political activities and personal, private discussions with my wife, family, constituents and friends. None of this is the government`s business.
With that let`s get smarter with the help of our leadoff panel this evening. Luke Broadwater, scoop machine tonight, Pulitzer Prize winning congressional reporter for the New York Times, Professor Melissa Murray of NYU Law School. She was a law clerk for Sonia Sotomayor on the federal bench before her nomination to the Supreme Court, and Chuck Rosenberg joins us, a former U.S. attorney and former senior FBI official.
Luke, you must be tired. It is like breaking news after breaking news. So I want you to start with the new reporting you have about the search at Trump`s property. What can you tell us?
LUKE BROADWATER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Sure, yes, well, the first thing we can say that I think is revelatory is that the warrant was signed by federal prosecutors in the national security division of the Justice Department. So they viewed -- they believe -- they viewed these classified documents at Mar-a-Lago as a national security concern.
We`ve learned about the negotiations that sort of led up to this surprise search of the former president`s property, and those included a trip in the spring buy some top Justice Department officials, and months of negotiations to try to get these documents back from Mar-a-Lago.
We`ve learned that there was a subpoena for surveillance footage at Mar-a- Lago, and that there were certain statements made to federal investigators about documents that had been returned or hadn`t been returned.
And there was a feeling at the Justice Department that basically they hadn`t gotten everything that they should have, and that there were perhaps some misstatements or false information that they had been provided.
And so they felt the only way to get to the bottom of this was to unannounced show up and see what they could find.
So that`s some of the reporting we`re hearing. We don`t know everything. We haven`t seen the list of items they`ve taken from Mar-a-Lago and I still think there are a lot of unanswered questions but we`re starting to see a little bit more about what led to this very big day yesterday.
RUHLE: Chuck, but from the DOJ is perspective, wouldn`t it have to be more than a hunch that Trump was holding out, they`d have to have more than that in order to get a judge to sign off on a search like this?
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, they`d have to meet the standard specified in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, Stephanie, probable cause. Now, in fairness, probable cause is the lowest standard in the criminal law. But if you think about it, that makes sense, because this is an investigatory step. It`s not for conviction at trial, which requires the highest standard of proof. It`s for the issuance of a search warrant. And at the beginning of an investigation, of course, you have less information and less evidence.
And so the Fourth Amendment, rightfully, thoughtfully, requires probable cause more than a hunch, and as long as a federal judge finds that probable cause has been demonstrated in the agent`s affidavit, she can issue a search warrant.
It`s really not any more complicated than that. And folks screaming bloody murder audit, just take a step back and understand that what the FBI and the Department of Justice did was comply with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
RUHLE: Melissa, the government, the National Archives has been trying to get this information. Luke just laid it out for months and months, Trump lawyers had met with them. At this point, if Trump had incriminating evidence, don`t you think he would have tossed it destroyed it? Would he really have it sitting in his house, knowing the government was asking for it?
MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: Unclear who can really get into the mind of this administration, but I think it does reveal that the Presidential Records Act, which was passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal really lacks a robust enforcement mechanism, like we typically relied on administrations to make a good faith effort to comply with it. And most of them have, I mean, there have been lapses, certainly, but not big lapses like this.
So, we`ve really been subjected to the holding of norms. And in fact, there really isn`t a lot of forcible law here that can actually undergird this and make the administration come to heal. And so this is really an issue and something perhaps going forward that may need to be tightened up.
RUHLE: Then what happens if they open all these boxes and the information isn`t there? It is, in fact missing and Trump says, Sorry, dude can`t find it. What are the consequences?
MURRAY: So, again, this is a really big issue in terms of mental states so much of the discussion of what has happened in this presidency, certainly, and it`s waiting days has been about the President`s intent and state of mind at that time period. And they would need to show that this was a willful and knowing attempt to withhold or destroy information.
There is a separate federal crime punishable by three years in prison and perhaps disqualification from future office holding that really depends on willfully trying to destroy or eliminate this additional, these records on. And so that`s something that could be in the offing.
There are some real questions about whether that could lead to the disqualification of the president because Article II says nothing about disqualifying someone, because they are convicted of a crime. And so the question would be whether this federal statute trumps the Constitution, and I think it`s unlikely, but again, there are two separate issues here. And one of the -- all of them turn on this question of mental state.
RUHLE: Luke, tell us more about Scott Perry`s phone being seized. I know you`ve got new reporting.
BROADWATER: Right, well, so this is a separate investigation from the one we`re talking about into the mishandling of federal records. This is an investigation that`s being done by the Department of Justice`s inspector general. And it is related to the seizure of phones from both John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark.
And that office has jurisdiction over Justice Department employees, which Jeffrey Clark was at the time, and for -- those folks who don`t remember every name involved in the January 6 scandal, Jeffrey Clark was the sort of rogue Justice Department lawyer who had sort of freelanced with Scott Perry and Donald Trump to try to have himself installed as the acting Attorney General, once the top brass at the Justice Department would not go along with the plans to overturn the election that Donald Trump wanted to enact.
And so this seizure of Scott Perry`s phone and if it is our sources are telling us connected to this investigation. This would be a very serious development and has to do I think, looking all the more closely at Jeffrey Clark and that angle of the investigation.
Again, this is not about classified documents like we see down in Mar-a- Lago, but it is another angle of what the Justice Department is doing as they dig deeper into what was going on in the final days of the Trump administration.
RUHLE: Chuck, what do you think?
ROSENBERG: Yes, so it`s interesting. I mean, Luke`s reporting has been great. I read everything he writes. But we don`t know until we see the affidavits exactly what the basis for the probable cause was. But it`s a similar discussion to the search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago, Stephanie. The Justice Department through its agents developed probable cause which had presented in an affidavit to a federal judge. And in one case, they got a search warrant for Trump`s home. And in another case, they got a search warrant and permission to seize Congressman Perry`s phone.
Why? We don`t fully know. Conjecture, I think, what Mr. Broadwater has been talking about here is spot on. But when we see the affidavits and they will be unsealed at some point, we`re going to have a much better sense of what the investigation is about and what the probable cause was based on.
But again, really important for your viewers to understand, these are actions consistent with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. If you want to get a search warrant, this is how you do it. And by the way, it may be obvious to some but not to others, two branches of the government are involved in this. The executive branch, the FBI, the Justice Department can only ask. They need the judicial branch of government, a federal judge to grant permission. And so it`s a check and balance, and it`s a thoughtful way to abide the Constitution.
RUHLE: Melissa, I want to go back to something that Luke said earlier, that the prosecutor that signed this warrant was from the National Security Division for us mere mortals, non-legal experts. Why is that so important?
MURRAY: Again, the information that would be relevant to the national security arm of the government is going to be classified information, highly sensitive information that should not be floating around certainly, shouldn`t be in a basement storage unit with a lock on it at Mar-a-Lago.
So, again, when presidential administrations turn over their papers to the National Archives, there`s a process for going through it determining what is classified, what can be gone, what were sent on to the presidential library and what is actually personnel.
And, again, those classified documents are handled very carefully because they obviously contain very sensitive information. So if this is a concern of national security is likely because there`s highly sensitive information contained.
RUHLE: Chuck, I want you to weigh in on this, former federal prosecutor contributor here at MSNBC, Andrew Weissmann wrote this tweet earlier, the FBI is required to give Trump an inventory of what was found in the search. If Trump claims he had no government property in his home and this is a witch hunt, then he should release the search inventory, time to put up or shut up. Meanwhile, a source close to Trump says they won`t even release the search warrant. So what now?
ROSENBERG: So there are three pieces, Stephanie, the affidavit, which lays out the probable cause, the search warrant which is the court order permitting agents entry, and as Andrew said, the inventory, the list of stuff that they took. Those last two things, the search warrant the order itself, which doesn`t have a lot of information, and the inventory, which, well, is an inventory and list the stuff they took. Those things weren`t given or are supposed to be given to the person at the scene of the search.
So, you know, I think Andrew makes a good point. Mr. Trump or his lawyers probably have those documents. It will have a little bit more information, but not nearly as much as the affidavit. And you know, if they want to release it, that`s up to them. But maybe it suits them politically to scream bloody murder, and try and keep those documents private, a little bit longer eventually, please be patient. All this stuff will see the light of day.
RUHLE: Or will it, what happens if Republicans win the midterms? Will all of this see the light of day, Chuck?
ROSENBERG: It will see the light of day, Stephanie. These are court documents. It has nothing to do with Congress. Federal judges have requirements when they can to make things publicly available. The reason you can keep an affidavit under seal a little bit longer is if there is a legitimate law enforcement purpose. That`s up to a judge not up to Congress.
And so whether Congress is run by Republicans or Democrats or somebody else some other day doesn`t matter. This is a judicial matter. And the judges will determine based on application from the prosecutors when these documents will be made public. Will they see the light of the day? You bet. Do I know when? Nope. I sure don`t.
RUHLE: Melissa, how did the government know that there is more? We said it 15 boxes were handed over were handed over earlier this year. Another 10 or so yesterday. Could it have been an insider in the Trump orbit to tip off the DOJ saying there`s more there?
MURRAY: Certainly could be an insider. There`s also been reporting that this administration played pretty fast and loose with in its efforts to archive and preserve these documents, there was discussion of items being flushed in toilets or being ripped apart.
And so I think there`s probably just generally a sense that this was an administration that was less careful about preserving these documents and complying with the letter of the Presidential Records Act.
RUHLE: The GOP attacks on the DOJ continued all day all night. Is the department ready for this kind of pressure? Chuck?
ROSENBERG: Yes, I mean, look, they had to know this was coming, Stephanie, maybe they didn`t appreciate the magnitude. But they had to know that anything they did with respect to Mr. Trump would have repercussions.
So let`s take the attorney general at his word. They`re going to follow the law. Nobody`s above the law. They have a widespread farflung investigation, and they will follow the facts. I mean, sometimes you make tough calls. And sometimes you get it right. And sometimes you get it wrong. But as long as you do it in a principled and thoughtful way, then you can live with yourself. I mean, they`re not perfect, but they`re principled. And they had to know that there would be some blowback so be it comes with the territory.
RUHLE: They are just doing their jobs. And this week, they are not easy jobs and a quick but I want to say important note for our audience. We keep hearing a lot of people call what the FBI did at Mar-a-Lago are raid. But for facts sake, here`s the deal. Law enforcement doesn`t even use the term raid.
So what actually happened? The Justice Department applied for and got a court authorized search warrant that gave them lawful authority to enter Trump`s home that was consistent with the Fourth Amendment probable cause requirement and allows agents to seize items as permitted by the judge and as outlined in the warrant. Words matter.
And calling a court authorized search or raid suggests some sort of degree of aggression and lawlessness that is simply inconsistent with the facts and the law. And those are the facts. Chuck, do I have that right?
ROSENBERG: You got that right.
RUHLE: I want our audience to understand. Nobody was banging down any doors. Nobody was answering the door in their underwear shaken from bed. None of that happened. It was law and order. And that`s what happened.
Melissa Murray, Chuck Rosenberg, thank you so much. Luke, you had so much reporting today, I`m going to make you stick around. When we come back, more Trump allies come before the January 6 committee, what they might or might not be saying why it matters for the investigation.
And later, compare conservatives had to say about Hillary Clinton`s handling of government records, to what we`re hearing now from the very same people about the search down in Palm Beach. THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on Tuesday night.
RUHLE: We`re also tracking developments in the January 6 committee`s investigation tonight. Today, the committee held a remote meeting with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the panel met briefly with Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Governor Doug Mastriano. That meeting lasted less than 15 minutes and Mastriano did not answer any questions. According to his attorney, there was a dispute over the terms of the interview.
Let`s discuss and bring in Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Luke Broadwater still with us.
Luke, talk us through these meetings today because Doug Mastriano, Mike Pompeo, two very different guys. Doug Mastriano is happy to be a human shield for Donald Trump. That`s what got him to the big stage. Mike Pompeo, he`s got a long career ahead of him. He didn`t lose all that weight just to carry Trump`s water. What are these two guys headed for?
BROADWATER: Right, two different interviews. But speaking with sources who are familiar with them, neither produced the kind of information the January 6 committee had hoped for. The first last and very quickly it was with Doug mastriano, who went in with his lawyer virtually. They basically told the committee they weren`t properly constituted. And they wanted to video record the hearing.
Once the committee told them, they couldn`t do that, and no other witnesses had been allowed to do that, they immediately ended the interview. And now they`re talking about suing the committee.
So, we`ll wait to see how the committee responds to that. But I have a feeling that could escalate with some sort of enforcement action from -- coming from the committee.
The other with Mike Pompeo lasted longer. And the committee did have questions about the 25th amendment and discussions about President Trump`s fitness for office around January 6, and the types of things he was saying and his mindset.
I`m told that Mr. Pompeo was evasive in the interview and didn`t answer questions to the satisfaction of the committee, but he was not under subpoena and that was a voluntary interview. So, you know, the committee may not be too happy with his evasiveness today, but that`s where that`s where things stand out for these two interviews.
RUHLE: Then is all of this just a stall tactic on both of these men`s parts? I mean, especially Mastriano. He`s asking to videotape it. He and his lawyer had to know, no other witness was granted that.
BROADWATER: Yes, I mean, according to his lawyer, his concern is he`s running for election in Pennsylvania. And he believes if he doesn`t have a full copy of the video that the January 6 Committee will release snippets of his testimony that will hurt him politically on the campaign trail. And so he wants to have this whole video as a safeguard against that or wait until after the election is over to do his deposition.
That said, he has been served with a subpoena and has a deposition date. It`s not as though this is some sort of voluntary interview. So, you know, I do think we could see sort of a showdown here about the legal ramifications for the man who wants to be the governor of Pennsylvania as he`s on the campaign trail.
RUHLE: Harry, we`ve got multiple investigations going on, what is the January 6 committee`s interest in the Trump search down in Florida?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, it`s pretty huge. I mean, it`s true that it`s not about specifically the things they`re looking at. The spearhead we know anyway of that investigation is the mishandling of classified documents.
But you can be very, very sure that the department in bringing that action took account of and strategically incorporated into everything they`re doing the sense that this would have been simply an action by -- driven by the Archives in the National Security Division, even though as Luke points out, they did sign it just doesn`t hunt, it went all the way up clearly to Garland. And they thought carefully about why now why cross the Rubicon now and then get into an antagonistic posture with Trump that`s going to last clearly, as long as Trump is around.
RUHLE: Harry, you wrote that this search could signal the end of a long national nightmare. What do you mean by that?
LITMAN: All right. So look, it`s just something that fits with the facts. I do think let me say, first of all, all the things you talked about last segment are absolutely true. But we can be very, very, very confident that the I`s are dotted and the T`s are crossed in terms of the affidavit when we do see it.
So really, the most important why now. One possibility, because when you look at all the other charges, the (INAUDIBLE) conspiracy in the like that he could be tagged with. The clock runs very quickly and gets into the shadow of 2024. This is one potential charge they could bring in a freestanding way without making Mark Meadows or anyone turn, without getting big testimony.
And that could potentially be the sort of leverage toward Trump that would in fact, and without his serving lifetime in jail, but with his still being punished and agreeing not to run for office, just something that fits with the facts that, you know, that I`m putting out there. I bet you`d be foolhardy to predict that`s exactly what will happen.
RUHLE: Harry, we also got news today that an appeals court ruled that House lawmakers can obtain Trump`s tax returns. Do you actually think this is ever going to happen? Because let`s be honest, we have been asking for them since 2016. And yet to see a single number.
LITMAN: Yes, we have but this is the end of the line. They asked for them. The Treasury Department 100 percent clear had to turn them over the statute said shell. They didn`t do it when Mnuchin was totally out of line, and they had to sue, it`s now gone up to the court below the Supreme Court. Trump will appeal.
The question is whether four of his friendly justices will agree to take the appeal. If they do, it`ll surely go past the midterms. And if the IRS win, then it`ll all go away. If they don`t take it and really there`s no legal issue here for them to consider, then yes, we will see it the mandate will issue before the midterm elections.
RUHLE: All right. Well, here`s the thing, Harry, regardless of who wins the midterms, if Trump decided to run today, candidates are still not required to disclose their taxes. Is it not time to fix this? If you`re going to spend all this time and appeals court trying to get Trump`s taxes from 2016 `17, `18, `19? Why not just change the rules now and fix it forever?
LITMAN: No kidding. Not only is it time to fix it, but that`s what the court said today that they are -- they rejected this idea. There`s no legislative purpose and they said they`re looking into whether we should change the rules. Of course they should change the rules, but it`s part of what dozen things out there a varying priority that they need to possibly take the filibuster on head on. So there you have it.
RUHLE: Well, we are watching. Harry Litman, thank you. Luke, we`re going to let you to bed. Luke Broadwater tonight --
BROADWATER: Thank you.
RUHLE: -- scooping machine.
RUHLE: Coming up, Republicans are almost falling over themselves outraged over the FBI search. We`re going to take a trip down memory lane with a very different take on classified Intel just a few years ago, the political side of this story when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton did not respond to reports that she used a private e-mail not a government e-mail address while she was Secretary of State.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): And frankly I think there`s a potential this is a violation of the records law the Records Act.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Nobody is above the law not even Hillary Clinton.
MIKE POMPEO, FMR. U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Did you done it? Or had I done it? I`d be off the Intelligence Committee, my classification would have been removed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn`t the Miss handling alone, Judge Jeanine? Isn`t that in and of itself a crime?
JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Yes.
DONALD TRUMP, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: I think she should be in jail for what she did with her e-mails. OK. She should be in jail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not need a reckless president who believes she is above the law. Lock her up. That`s right. Yes, that`s right. Lock her up.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton shouldn`t be allowed to run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: But it`s OK if it`s a he, not a she from the party of law in order to the party of big time hypocrisy. After that FBI search, Republicans are making it more clear than ever where their loyalties lie. And that is with the former guy Donald Trump, no matter what the consequences.
With us tonight to discuss Cornell Belcher, Democratic strategist and pollster, and Mark McKinnon, former adviser to both George W. Bush and John McCain, and co-host of The Circus on Showtime. Cornell, our friends over at The Recount had been collecting some Republican reaction to the search, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN: What were you really doing? What were you looking for? Why not talk to President Trump and have been given the information you`re after.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: It will break down your front door, they will spy on your text.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Think about what they could do to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s like what we thought about the Gestapo. People like this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALT: The worst attack on this republic in modern history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a chilling moment in the country`s history.
UNIDETNIFIED MALE: This is an abomination.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of them have to be held accountable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Banana Republic.
UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: This is Gestapo crap. And it will not stand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A declaration of war.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They can do it to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: That sure is bananas. Mark, compare that to what we just heard those very same people say about Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.
MARK MCKINNON, FORMER ADVISER TO JOHN MCCANE AND GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, well, it`s clear that these Republican members have to hand in their memories as soon as they check into their offices. There`s so much to talk about legally around this matter. But there`s also a lot politically and the interesting dynamic that`s happening right now is that, I mean, the thing that proves to me that Joe Biden didn`t know a thing about this is because if he had known that this was the worst possible timing for Joe Biden.
I mean, this is the week when he was going to roll out and take credit for his greatest legislative accomplishment. And so somebody came to me and I were president, Joe Biden said, you know, hey, listen, how about right now we go into the former president`s residence and break the safes and gather material. You know, that would be the last thing you`d want to do politically.
So short term, it`s really not that great for Biden, and it`s -- and we`re seeing how good it is for Trump. The timing couldn`t be better for Trump, as we see people like Ron DeSantis, and the people who would likely challenge him coalescing around him.
RUHLE: But hold on a minute. We keep hearing Oh, it`s good for Trump. Trump is fundraising all off of this? Just because he`s fundraising does not mean he is successfully raising funds. How do we know that people are writing him checks?
MCKINNON: The proof will be in the pudding. But it`s pretty clear that the establishment Republicans have rallied around I`m not sure the base are to. This is the perfect conspiracy crack cocaine for them. They love this stuff. I`ve got guaranteed a raise of money of it, but a short term, right.
I mean, listen, I mean, the one thing I can be absolutely sure that all your legal experts have said is that they wouldn`t have pursued this route unless they absolutely had the goods and the goods it clearly got to be more than a misdemeanor and it`s got to be a big deal.
So they`ve -- the fundraising and it`s the rallying behind Trump could be unlikely will be very short lived. And long term. It`d be great for Biden.
RUHLE: Cornell, what say you because Democrats from President Biden on down as it relates to the search are basically saying no comment. It`s an ongoing investigation.
CORNELL BELCHER, POLLSTER AND POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, I think that`s a smart thing for them to do. Look, I mean, the guy who`s probably the front runner for the Republican nomination just had his house searched by the FBI for criminal wrongdoings. There`s no need for a Democrat to get involved in that story whatsoever. It`s stayed a heck of a heck away from that story.
I do think it`s myopic to think that that because this -- because of the FBI, oh, Stephanie, only in Washington chattering class culture can. Someone being having their home searched by the FBI, be turned into sort of a good thing and most of America, the most Americans see that the FBI is searching your home, they think that`s a bad thing, but only in sort of the chattering class can file become fair.
Look, I think it`s problematical on a number of different levels. Look, I`m not worried about the Trump base thing getting round up. There permanently round up. I mean, my God, say happy holidays they get riled up and don`t dare say black lives matter, or they lose their minds. But the Trump base is not the majority of Americans. They`re not even close to the majority of Americans.
So what I`m more interested in is where does America -- the majority of Americans fall in this? And the majority of Americans don`t see the FBI as the enemy. The majority of Americans understand that the FBI are straight shooters, and they`re actually out there to try to protect America and Americans.
So I think the idea that the Trump base is being riled up about this, quite frankly, I could care less about the Trump base thing riled up about this. They`re not closer to being the majority. I`m much more interested in sort of the middle America, those moderate voters who cobbled together with progressive made up the Biden coalition majority seeing this for what it is and seeing that as more corruption and a president who you can`t, quite frankly, can`t trust. I could care less about the short term money raising off of this or the Republicans being riled up about this.
Because again, they are permanently sort of the, and Fox News, you know, they`re constantly being the victim, I mean, victimization is what they live on, victimization is the fuel to their resentment, power, political fires. So I`m not surprised by that.
RUHLE: Mark, what about more moderate voters that actually do vote for Republicans, Republicans like a Susan Collins or Joni Ernst a Mitt Romney? I don`t see them coming out there with full throated defenses of Donald Trump. It`s crazy town. It`s Matt Gaetz. It`s Marjorie Taylor Greene. It`s Jim Jordan. It`s loud Republicans, not necessarily powerful ones. Mitch McConnell, he hasn`t said much. I mean, could all of this been Mitch McConnell getting exactly what he wants Trump getting destroyed by others? So he doesn`t have to?
MCKINNON: Sure, yes, sure it could be. And I think, you know, thoughtful, careful, thinking Republicans are holding their fire, and they realize that there`s a lot of potential long term consequences for coming out and defending something when you don`t know what the facts are yet. And I think those representatives will wait and see what the facts are.
I mean, listen, Republicans are screaming about, you know, a deep state attack on a former president. Well, the deep state attack is being led by the head of the FBI who was appointed by Donald Trump.
RUHLE: And to your point, though, a moment ago, where the base is we just learned moments ago, Trump backed candidate in Wisconsin just won the primary there. So the stronghold he does have on the party. It does exist. Cornell Belcher, Mark McKinnon, always good to see you both. Thanks for joining us tonight.
Coming up, Ben Collins told us last night about all of those scary pro- Trump online threats. We invited him back to see where the Civil War rhetoric stands this evening, when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
RUHLE: The calls to lock and load have only gotten louder in the day following yesterday`s search of the former president`s Florida home. And some of the calls for violence and even civil war are coming from people who took part in the attack on our Capitol back on January 6.
Back with us to discuss our expert, NBC senior reporter Ben Collins. Ben, I wanted you to come in person because last night you certainly scared me and our audience. You said what you`re seeing on these extremist boards is the worst you have seen since January 5. What`s happened in the last day?
BEN COLLINS, NBC NEWS SENIOR REPORTER: So I think the big update here is last night we aired a graphic that showed people saying lock and load and civil wars coming. The guy who said the thing about the Civil War, it turns out was at the Capitol on January sixth. He stormed the Capitol. He was awaiting sentencing when he posted. That`s all. He had a plea deal that`s probably all blown up now.
But that does show you that these aren`t just random people on message boards. These are people who`ve already done this before, who had a dry run on January 6. And while they are -- their organization is different, where they put this stuff on the internet is different and how they kind of grouped together as different. Their same structure is there and they are still there. They`ve come back to just saying the bad stuff out in the open.
RUHLE: But January 6, and the consequences so many of them are paying the fact that their fearless leader Donald Trump did not protect any of them. None of them were pardoned. That`s not giving any of them pause. They`re doubling down.
COLLINS: Apparently not enough. Like this guy was just back at his home in Washington State posting this stuff on the internet again. I will say there was like a three or four month break where they were afraid of the Feds again. They were afraid they were going to get caught because they didn`t know what the consequences were. A lot of these people were on the lam like trying to escape and they didn`t know if they were going to spend years in jail or a couple of days in jail. This guy had pled down probably closer to the days in jail thing.
So now he realizes, hey, I got away with this. I can keep doing this stuff. I can keep posting this stuff and agitating for a civil war because the punishment was just not enough.
RUHLE: So are the authorities prepared to handle these threats? It`s not like and we`ve talked about this before after January 6. They put together a new agency focused on domestic terrorism these threats are continued, they`re getting worse and we got the same old government agencies we always have.
COLLINS: Yes, look, they`re good at the costumed malicious stuff. The Patriot front where they`re all on the same U-Haul they`re all together in the same boat, but with the lone wolf actors, with the guys who you can`t control, you know, these people who are just riled up by not just those extremist forms who maybe it`s just Fox News or maybe it`s people who are just riled up to the point that they`ve lost control of the country in their eyes. Those people can`t act. And by the way, it doesn`t help when a party in a network across the street is trying to amp-up and fuel that fire.
RUHLE: And can you see that? Can you draw a direct line from what`s happening on the likes of Fox News or OAN, to what`s getting these people so angered? Because remember, on January 6, a whole lot of those Fox News hosts were texting, calling Don Jr. Don himself, Ivanka, saying call off the dogs, we need to stop this. They forgot that day.
COLLINS: I guess so. Well, that`s the thing is the difference is with Fox News. They give you all the ammunition. And they say, I don`t know how to shoot this thing. There`s no ability for them to put it all together into one cohesive piece on these internet forums. They group together, they say, you know, for most of our properties group, go to this telegram. If you want to, you know, if, you know, these are some soft targets basically. They will say that openly in these spaces.
But the talking points are the same. There`s no differentiation. The language is louder. There are definitely more racial slurs, the Donald or a telegram. But the talking points are the same exact things the election was stolen, critical race theory is taking over our country, you know, this mysterious they is trying to keep you down. Those are the same things on broadcast TV, as you`re seeing on the screen one.
RUHLE: So are these groups that are quietly or loudly getting riled up, are they waiting for a signal to act upon?
COLLINS: Yes, or they`re waiting for a person to do it. I don`t even think it has to be Donald Trump anymore. They have a bunch of key figures in their space.
RUHLE: Like who?
COLLINS: Ron DeSantis is a key figure in this space. And Marjorie Taylor Greene is too. If somebody were to take the sort of fire hose that Donald Trump had built over those last few years, there is a mantle to take for those people. They just need somebody to give directions.
RUHLE: Someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene could get a mob riled up.
COLLINS: Yes, very easily. I know it sounds nuts, but like they don`t -- there`s nobody at the top to say go to this place on this date. The one thing that is keeping that kept people last night from organizing was there was no organizing principle. There was one no guy saying go to this one place and do this one thing. There is no upcoming date for that either.
January 6 worked because it was the last date that they could do that sort of thing. The last day they can storm something, frankly, to try to change a certification. There is no last date upcoming right now.
RUHLE: They also don`t have a president looking into a camera at a presidential debate, saying stand back and stand by a day has passed. Ben Collins, thank you for coming in. Thank you for your reporting. He has got one of the toughest and most important jobs at NBC News. And we`re thankful that he does it.
When we come back, a tennis legend, an icon, calling it a career putting her family first, a salute to the great Serena Williams when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point in your career, or your life, what is it that continues to drive you or keeps you hungry in the sport?
SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS LEGEND: I don`t know, I guess there`s just a light at the end of the tunnel..
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RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight, the GOAT, tennis superstar Serena Williams revealed today she will be hanging up her racquet sometime after the U.S. Open here in New York, but she does not call it retiring.
Instead, she wrote the following in Vogue. I`m here to tell you that I`m evolving away from tennis for other things that are important to me. A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that I started a family. I want to grow that family.
The 40-year-old has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles her first when she was just 17 years old at the 1999 U.S. Open. And most recently 2017 when she defeated her older sister Venus at the Australian Open.
Serena is no stranger to controversy. She has been criticized for what she`s worn and how she`s acted on the court all of which she is addressed in her farewell to tennis writing this. I`d like to thank -- I`d like to think that thanks to all the opportunities afforded to me, women athletes feel that they can be themselves on the court, that they can play with aggression and pump their fists, that they can be strong, yet beautiful, that they can wear what they want. They can say what they want, and they can kick butt and be proud of it all.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Serena in 2018 when she returned to tennis after having her daughter Olympia. Watch this.
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WILLIAMS: I don`t have to win another match in my whole life. I`ve done so much in my career. And right now I want to just focus on having fun out there.
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RUHLE: Serena Williams truly does not have anything to prove not then or now. But we will still be cheering her on when she takes the court at the end of this month at the U.S. Open right here in New York City. Bravo Serena Williams and a brilliant career and extraordinary life.
On that note, I wish you all a very, very good night. From all of our colleagues across the networks of NBC News, thanks for staying up late with us. I will see you at the end of tomorrow.