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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 8/15/22

Guests: Sadie Gurman


Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani named a criminal target for the first time in Georgia probe of plan to steal election. The attorney general said to mulled over the search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago for weeks before approving it himself. Wall Street Journal reports that A.G. Garland spent weeks deliberating over former President Trump's search warrant. After the Feds seized Top Secret documents at Mar-a-Lago, the Trump world spins excuses.


JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC HOST: All this comes as Russia has recognized prisoner swap talks with the United States for the first time publicly. A spokesman for Russia's Foreign Ministry said that, quote, "Quiet diplomacy is continuing as the two nations discuss a swap that reportedly would include Griner and jailed American Paul Whelan in exchange for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout."

Thank you for being with us this Monday. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now. Aloha, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, John. Welcome to THE BEAT. I'm Ari Melber, and the breaking news tonight is the prosecutor moving towards indicting Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Georgia prosecutors say they are now on track to indict Rudy Giuliani. It's a huge legal development that comes amidst those other largely unrelated pressures on Donald Trump over the allegedly criminal evidence that were seized from his home in that unprecedented FBI raid last week.

So let me tell you exactly what's going on in English. We have never come on air before to report about a Giuliani indictment until now. His legal programs have focused on clashes over testimonies, subpoenas, getting his law license suspended, which was partially response to what he did in Georgia, and we've reported on him being under investigation in more than one probe.

Now don't get me wrong. Those are serious legal problems, but none reach this level of indictment of what happens when you're booked for a mug shot and facing a criminal trial and possible incarceration. So this is a new level. And unlike probes into corruption or his past lobbying ties, this one is all about Trump and the possible election crimes Giuliani may have attempted for Trump.

And specifically, for Donald Trump, in Georgia. Like when Giuliani, a former prosecutor who really ought to know better, stood inside the jurisdiction of the prosecutor who is now warning him today that he's a criminal target, stood in that jurisdiction and made those false claims within this wider plot to try to steal the election.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: There's overwhelming proof of fraud. I don't have to be a genius to figure out that those votes are not legitimate votes.


MELBER: Late today, Georgia prosecutors formally say that Giuliani is their target. His lawyers confirmed that he was told that, so this is a story with no debate. Nothing's contested here. And Giuliani is the closest person to Trump who has been deemed a target.

Today, I know it seems like there's a lot of different things going on and we don't pick the timing. Today is an inflection point. Mr. Giuliani's indictment, which is what comes after you are a target, would be a legal earthquake rattling Trump world and putting heat on anyone in that orbit who was involved in the Georgia plot.

There's more than one plot but this was the state of Georgia. Prosecutors there already put the same criminal target, that kind of heat on other Republicans allegedly engaged in elector fraud in that state which Biden won. In fact, all 16 of them.

Now, why is this coming out right now? Does it have something to do with his other legal pressure on Trump? The sort of accrual we feel? If you follow this stuff or what happened over in Florida, well, look, grand jury probes have all kinds of secrets we just don't know, but if you're asking why is this coming out now tonight, on this one, we actually do have the answer.

Because we know unlike the other things that stay secret in a grand jury probe, we know in public that Mr. Giuliani is about to go under oath, in fact, in just two days, to face the Georgia grand jury this Wednesday. And we also know that a judge recently pushed prosecutors in that state that they should inform Giuliani of his current legal status, his exact jeopardy, before he goes into that testimony for fairness.

And indeed, that is legally a tradition. So now Giuliani does know his current legal status in that probe, and that might make his lawyers, frankly more likely to advise him to take the Fifth given that they've just been told he's a target there, and these questions are about that same set of overlapping topics, just as Trump did last week in an unrelated case.

We also have some clues about Giuliani's exposure, where his election lies may have turned potentially criminal.


GIULIANI: Dominion and Smartmatic, the connection to Hugo Chavez is a highly inaccurate machine. What would that suggest? Phantom votes.


MELBER: That's not just any clip. I'm going to show you Rudy Rudying, I could pick from all kinds of clips of statements of what prosecutors would call evidence because sometimes your words can become testimonial evidence and that statement I just showed you in brief, that was made in Georgia.


So people in politics you could say, yes, they lie all the time, and there are lawyers who lie out of court, but lying in court or lying to the government can be a crime and prosecutors are eyeing Giuliani's statements including to the government where lies can become fraud or an election crime. In fact, we also know his subpoena in this case points to the December 3rd presentation he made to the Georgia Senate alleging election fraud in Georgia counties.

And this is vital because prosecutors are showing that they view that more than a last ditch lying PR blitz which may have been what it looked like when he held increasingly bizarre press conferences at the time. But prosecutors say this is actually part of a, quote, "multistate, coordinated plan to overturn the lawful election, the peaceful transfer of power, the results of the 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere."

That's key. "And elsewhere." Let me tell you why. Giuliani and Trump had every option and opportunity to share their views and complain about losing and even lie in some forums about it. Trump is the first losing president to refuse to concede the election for well over a month but there's no law against not conceding or what some might call being a sore loser. That's not why Trump's go-to coup plotter is a criminal target as of today, why he was warned of his rights.

No. Whatever that political theater was or deranged public lies or frivolous lawsuits, let's be very clear. On the facts and the law, most of that arguably legal stuff in November 2020 is not what makes you a target for indictment. We've marked in yellow and green the arrows you see starting on your left, all that November stuff, that's not what makes you a target. But if you track those eight plots as we've done to overthrow the election over time, the red stuff, the elector fraud, lying in government proceedings, trying to illegally obstruct vote counting, that bad red stuff is still a crime in America. And in Georgia. And that's why Giuliani is closer to indictment tonight than he's ever been.

Now again, we didn't know we were going to come in on Monday and have a whole new piece of developments here in this criminal probe of the coup plot, but let me be clear in English with you because this is one of those days that's a big day even if we've had other big days. They were trying to stage a coup. They were at it long before January 6th and long before Donald Trump even announced there would be a January 6th, as we've documented in his 1:42 a.m. tweet early in the morning of December 19th after a separate red plot for a military coup fell apart.

Well, today, it looks like Giuliani took a major legal risk by entering that Georgia jurisdiction, but at the time, you say, well, why would he do that? He's a lawyer. He's a prosecutor. Whatever you think of his style, he knows certain things. Why would he do that? Well, you have to go back, that's why evidence is so powerful when you look at it contemporaneously especially when you have the evidence of people talking in secret.

At the time, he and Donald Trump really seemed to believe they had a workable plan to hold on to power. That's coup logic, which may be another piece of incriminating evidence as Giuliani braces for testifying this week. And the official notice that he should also be prepared for a possible Georgia indictment.

Want to bring in former acting U.S. solicitor general Neal Katyal.

What is the significance of this target notification coming this week and how does it fit into what we've documented which is what appears to be in the theory of the case down in Georgia, potential election crimes that are separate from and completely independent and before whatever may or may not have transpired on January 6th?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, Aril, for someone who prides himself for being tough on crime, Rudy Giuliani sure manages to end up on the wrong side of criminal investigations an awful lot. And Rudy's counsel has asked the Georgia prosecutor six or seven times in the past, hey, is Rudy a target? And they never got an answer until today. And they said yes. He is a target.

And target is a special term that prosecutors use to indicate someone is likely to be indicted so you're absolutely right in the way you portrayed the news today. It has a specialized meeting. It means he should expect to be indicted. Prosecutors tell someone they're a target because of two basic things. One, to give them a chance to cooperate, or two, give them some final chance to explain why they shouldn't be charged, something like that.


At this point, he's going into the grand jury on Wednesday. I suspect you know, this may be the first time I'll ever say that someone should follow Donald Trump's legal advice, but, you know, like Trump last week took the Fifth Amendment 440 times, I suspect that would be a wise thing at this point for Rudy Giuliani to do because of what you were saying, his connection to the fake elector's plot. The voting machines, all these false, bogus allegations and as I thought that graph you did put it so nicely. Not in November. Not right when the election happened.

MELBER: Right.

KATYAL: But continuing after everyone knew this was totally bogus.

MELBER: Yes, you mentioned that. I think we can put that back up exactly there. The lawsuits, even the beginning of the elector plot people can debate. After December 14th, you have a real finite governmental reality that Georgia has certified one set of electors. So everything after that looks like fraud. We know that Georgia and the Justice Department where you worked are looking at that. And so it's a lot of heat on Rudy Giuliani.

I want to read what Norm Eisman says. And I want to be very careful. This has been a theme last week and this week. There's a difference between legal analysis and when things get reported out or confirmed. The target letter is a prosecutor saying, as you remind us, Neal, you're likely to be indicted. A smart lawyer giving their interpretation is different. So we don't have any headline on the screen about Donald Trump yet, but someone you know well, Norm Eisen, who also at times worked as a lawyer for Barack Obama's administration, said, quote, in his view, "There's no way Giuliani is the target of the investigation and Trump doesn't end up as one. They're too entangled."

With the caveat that we're not reporting anything on that yet, your view of how close Giuliani is in Georgia to Trump.

KATYAL: Well, I guess I disagree a little bit just because we don't know the facts.

MELBER: Right.

KATYAL: I mean, you could take the view as a Georgia prosecutor that those clips you were showing of Rudy in Georgia lying, is Rudy acting on his own in Georgia lying without any connection to his client, Donald Trump? That would be a tough argument, but it's not a totally crazy one. The facts will have to be developed.

I guess I'd say if I'm Donald Trump right now, though, I'd have to be very worried that my lawyer is now the target of a criminal investigation. Why? Because Rudy has presumably the goods on Donald Trump. And if Rudy is facing jail time, and significant jail time as it looks like he is, he might decide, hey, now is the moment of reckoning. I have to cooperate.

Now other people have stared into that abyss and evidently done the other thing. So Allen Weisselberg who is, you know, Trump's CFO at Trump Organization just today it's reported in "The New York Times" is thinking of entering into a plea agreement for a small amount of jail time, but is refusing to cooperate with prosecutors. You know, it's almost straight out of the mob playbook. You know, Ari, you know, why wouldn't someone cooperate with prosecutors? Generally it's because you're worried about the boss doing something to you.

So, you know, Giuliani may have a similar set of concerns. I don't know. But, you know, if you're Trump right now, you have to be worried your attorney knows the goods on you and doesn't have attorney-client privilege because if you're committing a crime as an attorney, there's something called the crime fraud exception, which you know well, which eliminates any attorney-client privilege.

MELBER: Right. Well, appreciate your precision on that as we've been careful to state, and yes, how they are somewhat entangled, but again evidence is different than just how it might look.

We also got news today on the other probe, the federal probe of the coup on January 6th that the DOJ is now subpoenaing former Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann. Now he had represented Trump in the first impeachment trial, he was a senior adviser at the White House, he offered some pushback, according to his own testimony we got because of those January 6th hearings, about 2020, and what I mentioned earlier in one of those arrows that turned red, the unhinged late night December 18th into the 19th meeting about trying to get the military involved in a coup.


ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: What they were proposing I thought was nuts. Flynn screamed at me that I was a quitter and everything. Kept on standing up and turning around and screaming at me.


MELBER: This is what we get into legal geography, Neal. We've got other lawyers who have also been brought in like Cipollone who you see there. But, Neal, you take it all together and you have a federal probe that can deal with the whole map. The feds are looking at the effect of what was obviously a national election.

The Georgia news is about anything only to that nexus in jurisdiction. What does it tell you that the federal probe is bringing in these people that we, many Americans first saw in those hearings?

KATYAL: So, Ari, to me, it strongly suggests, it doesn't prove, it strongly suggests that Donald Trump is the subject of a grand jury investigation at the federal level.


So the way I get there is we've known that the federal grand jury is looking into two different things. the fake elector plot and the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. What we don't totally have a good picture on is who are they looking at when they are looking into these crimes. And grand juries are by designed, supposed to be secret. We shouldn't necessarily know. This is a whole rule of criminal procedure that ensures secrecy so that people can come in and feel like they can tell the truth without fear of reprisal, without fear of a mob attack or something like that.

So we've known that Jeff Clark was part of the grand jury investigation which clearly around the fake electors plot, but today, to me brings us one step closer to understanding that the grand jury is also about Donald Trump. Why? Because they've now brought in this guy Herschmann who was one of Donald Trump's lawyers and we know that they've already subpoenaed, the same grand jury, Pat Cipollone and Pat Philben -- Cipollone and Philben, two different lawyers for Donald Trump. Two very high-ranking lawyers at the White House.

Altogether, I don't think you bring those folks in unless you're thinking that their boss is the potential target. Again, it may be just now they're trying to get a complete picture and information and the like, but to me, it's a pretty good sign that they are looking at him, which would make sense of course because we know that Donald Trump is the kind of spoke in all these other folks are actually hubs around this. You know, it's hard for me to think that, you know, Pat Cipollone is the one who's like orchestrating this, as you put it, coup on January 6th.

MELBER: Yes. I don't get independent, proactive coup brainstorming vibes from him, although if we get to interview him, we can get into it in more detail.

Neal Katyal, thank you for kicking off this big night of coverage and all these news. We have our shortest break, one minute. We have new reports that a Trump lawyer may be in the soup over the raid. We haven't even gotten to the raid yet tonight. And a big one. Donald Trump trying to secretly backchannel and potentially threaten Attorney General Garland. Have you heard about this yet? It was in the "New York Times." We have that for you tonight as well. We're back in one minute.


MELBER: Federal prosecutors are talking to a judge about the rest of this case where they searched Trump's home, the underlying affidavit, which involves a kind of roadmap for the case. They want to keep sealed which is pretty standard practice. They cite protecting the integrity of the investigation and national security. They say there's highly sensitive information in there about witnesses interviewed by the government.

Trump allies have now gotten what they claim they wanted, at least early last week, which was more information about the search. As we reported Friday, the receipts seem to show that there were a bunch of documents that were improperly at Mar-a-Lago. Now in all fairness, that's not the same as evidence that Donald Trump personally moved them or knew about all of it and there has been back and forth about how they got to this standoff.

The investigation is hitting a new phase and there are plenty of big questions. Take this report that it was a Trump lawyer who was, according to DOJ, signing a statement as far as back as June that falsely claimed the classified material had all been returned. Now according to the FBI's information that was released Friday, that would be not only false, but overwhelmingly false because again, someone could correctly have a mistaken impression like one document. But the boxes and boxes and boxes, well, if that warrant holds up, that lawyer would look to be lying.

Let's go over it briefly. 11 sets of documents recovered. That's in some cases boxes and whole groupings of them we were told by experts Friday, including some top secret classifications you see here. So the seizure of top secret documents means that the search was valid.

What do you do when you've now been faced with the evidence you asked for showing the search was apparently valid and remember, as I've emphasized, everyone has the right to protest and appeal a search.


They can go to court and appeal it. Instead, we have other excuses in public.


JOHN SOLOMON, JOURNALIST: As we can all relate to, everyone ends up having to bring home their work from time to time. American presidents are no different. President Trump, in order to prepare the work the next day, often took documents include classified documents, to the residence.

KASH PATEL, FORMER DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CHIEF OF STAFF: Already been packed it up and taken himself.

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): These are materials that are two years old. We don't know what they are. We don't know if they rise to the level of being a national security threat.

CHRISTINA BOBB, TRUMP ATTORNEY: No, there is no security that something wasn't planted.

SOLOMON: He had a standing order. There's the word I've been looking for. That documents removed from the oval office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.


MELBER: The individual reading there is sort of brainstorming, or we might say free styling their defense as they go in public. Mr. Solomon actually has a role in this. He was of course caught up in one of the impeachments, you may recall, but he is one of the people designated by Trump to deal with the Archives.

The problem in public is how much they've had to already change their story. There was the idea there was cooperation and if there were full cooperation, it would be odd that a judge would approve this kind of search. Then there was well, we gave it all back. We don't have any. So just ask for them. But then over the course of the last week, we learned the DOJ asked nicely, subpoenaed, waited. And then you have of course this planted documents canard, which was a big allegation. You have attacks on Obama. And then you have this standing order question.

Now let me say one thing before I bring in this sound bite. What's important to keep in mind is this is not just a case over any random person. Whatever you think of the former president when he was in office, he did have the authority, legally and constitutionally, over intelligence and national security. So there is a question about what he may have done even secretly in office. That's why that Trump lawyer could ultimately get in more trouble than former President Trump.

Because the lawyer is just sitting out here with no legal role whereas the former president is afforded different latitude. So there's a lot of attention on the idea that there might have been a secret standing order that would be a kind of get out of a jam free card.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think that claim is almost certainly a lie. I was never aware of anything even remotely approximating that policy and I haven't heard anything of it since I left. So I think this is made up and I think a key point here is when somebody is making up stories like that, I think it indicates a level of desperation.


MELBER: Like I said in all fairness, if there is a standing over order and you can prove it and you were at one time the president, that could help you. That's why it's not as wild as some of the other completely fictional or lying defenses, but the man you just saw on your screen is the former National Security adviser to then President Trump. If there were an order like this, he would be exactly the person who would know about it and he's shredding it and calling it desperate.

So with all these excuses, what's the truth? As always, we go back to the evidence, the reporting, the facts and the law. We have Professor Melissa Murray and "Wall Street Journal" reporter, Sadie Gurman, who's been all over this scoop, when we come back.



MELBER: We're tracking breaking news right now. A story just crossing this hour from "The Wall Street Journal" that says Merrick Garland weighed the search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago for weeks. That is new information regarding the timeline. We can show you that headline and bring in Sadie Gurman who has that scoop in the "Journal" and Professor Melissa Murray.

I think we have that, right? There it is. This is really interesting, Sadie, that crossed this hour. Tell us about your reporting.

SADIE GURMAN, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER: Well, what we learned and what we reported in that story is that, you know, Merrick Garland had personally approved the search. That's something he told us last week in an extraordinary press conference. But what we reported is that that decision came after weeks of deliberation and it was certainly not one that he took lightly. He met with Justice Department officials and other FBI officials for weeks in private meetings, weighing the ins and outs of such a high profile, politically sensitive move.

So it is clear that this is not something that, you know, he did on a whim. It is not something that he did without all of the facts and the information and this is something that we would expect from an attorney general who has shown that he's a deliberative thinker. He is very cautious and this is in keeping with that sort of approach that is going to be tested in coming months as he will be forced to make some other pretty contentious decisions in this case and a number of other politically sensitive investigations on his plate.

MELBER: Yes, I mean, most search warrants are not reviewed for weeks. Certainly not at that level as you mentioned. Of course this is not most search warrants. In spending weeks on something, there's kind of two interpretations. Now I'm pulling on the thread of your reporting here. Either someone wanted to look deliberative and knew what they were going to land on the whole time or they were really mulling and deliberating.

Does anything in your reporting shed light on which it might be?


GURMAN: I think just given what we know about the Attorney General, and what I know, having covered him for the year and a half that he has been in office, is that he is somebody who takes the time to mull things over on his own, and that he is really taking a hard look and asking a lot of questions. And this is at times that mounted in -- resulted in frustration among other Justice Department officials who say he's been, you know, slow to act on other matters.

But in this case, what we know is that, you know, this was unintentional thing. He does not want to make any sort of misstep that is going to be then, you know, allowing the case to be questioned in court. He doesn't -- he wants to make sure that all of the elements of the investigation in this case are -- you know, that he -- that he's checked every fact and every detail, dotted every I, crossed every T.

What we know about this attorney general is that he does not only just not want to look political, but that he really, you know, isn't a terribly political person and is not, you know, putting -- making these decisions based on lack of information.

MELBER: Professor Murray, what do you think of this?

MELISSA MURRAY, LAW PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Well, the rap on Merrick Garland has always been, Ari, that he is deliberative in the mode of a judge, which of course he was for many years before becoming Attorney General. And, you know, I think this is very much in keeping with that kind of deliberative, methodical persona that we've known about for a long time that some people have assailed him for.

But there are a lot of considerations here that do favor deliberation in a circumstance like this. This is the first time that there has ever been a search of the home of a former president. That surely weighed on him. And certainly, the prudential concerns about doing this especially with an election looming.

So, it's notable that the search warrant was executed about 91 days before the November 8th Midterm election. That's not a coincidence either, I think.

MELBER: Interesting point there. I don't know that I've heard -- many people say it that way. And before we move on to some of the other items I mentioned in the setup to this, Sadie, just because you have the new story, I want to read from it. You both refer to Garland's background which is how many Americans first learned about him when he was an Obama nominee as a judge. You say that in the DOJ, he's known as someone who after about a year and a half has, "slowly begun to shed the cautious, consensus-based approach he followed as a federal judge for the more decisive posture expected of a law enforcement officer."

They are very different roles. And anyone who's ever switched jobs maybe not as momentous as attorney general, but if you've ever had a job for a couple of years and you go into a role where it's -- you're really on the other side of the table, it gives you insights for sure, but you have to take a minute to adjust. How has that happened in the heat of this climate, Sadie, because there are also people who've looked at the flouting, for example, of the subpoenas and said, you got to move faster if subpoenas are going to mean anything?

GURMAN: Right. Well, he has faced a lot of criticism, including from members of his own Democratic Party, about the pace with which he appears to be moving on some of these investigations. But what I've noticed in covering him for this amount of time is that he does seem to be getting some footing and does seem to be sort of coming into his own as a you -- take on more of a prosecutorial role as opposed to the role of a deliberator.

You know, in the early days of the Merrick Garland tenure as attorney general, what we saw was him, you know, personally poring over details of even what some officials would consider routine cases, things that, you know, are generally sort of rubber-stamped with his name on it. But now, you know, as there are other officials in the department, you know, other top senior leadership has been confirmed by the Senate, we are seeing him delegate a little bit -- a little bit more and we are seeing him, you know, sort of -- you know, assuming a posture of a public official.

We see him speaking often at times using a teleprompter, but he -- that is a sign that he is interested and cognizant of the effect of his words on the general public, and that he is really coming into that -- coming into his own in that role.

MELBER: Yes, although I've heard people who use teleprompters can't be trusted. Have you ever heard that, Professor?

MURRAY: I've heard it a few times.

MELBER: It's a --

MURRAY: I also heard that those who plead the Fifth Amendment are likely not fit for office.

MELBER: That might be a more serious, valid concern. One a judgment for voters to make, the other was a TV joke. But I will play some of how this is all being adjudicated in the court of public opinion, Professor, now that the details have come out, including over the weekend from the search warrant. Take a look.


WILL CAIN, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS: Famously, President Nixon said, if the President does it, then it is not illegal. Is that this -- is that not truly the standard?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): And the idea that 18 months after the fact Donald Trump could simply announce, Well, you know, retroactive actively declassifying or whatever I took home had the effect of declassifying them is absurd.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): Releasing the affidavit would help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The affidavit in support of the warrant will give you the probable cause.



MELBER: Professor, time will always give people a little more perspective. This can't stay in the news or in the heat forever. If this is the last action, it was just to recover the documents. Do you see this as based on what we know of a valid search? And what is Donald Trump's legal means to challenge it if he thinks he has the goods?

MURRAY: Well, I do think this was a valid search. I think it's very clear from the warrant that there had been an effort to negotiate with the former president over a period of time to recover the materials that were sequestered at Mar0a-Lago and that ultimately, the President and his team were not completely forthcoming about what had been recovered and what still remains to be recovered. Therefore, there had to be this search into his private home.

The idea that just because a president does it, it's no longer illegal, that's absolutely maddening. I wish that person could go to law school. That's not the case at all. Like, even presidents are not above the law. And there are several laws in play here. None of them depend on the classification status of the documents. As John Bolton said earlier in the clip that you played up, the shifting story around the classification is by itself quite curious and perhaps a sign of growing desperation around this.

But the real issue here, and I think it goes back to the point that the Attorney General made in his press conference, is that there are actual real people executing the search warrant on the other side. Would we like to see the affidavit? Would we like to know the theory of the case and the probable cause and allow this search more? Sure, but that would endanger many of the people who were witnesses here and who ultimately executed this.

MELBER: Yes. Melissa Murray and Sadie Gurman, really interesting and the scope. Thank you both. We have a quick break. When we come back, the story I mentioned. Donald Trump secretly and improperly trying to backchannel Merrick Garland. Our breakdown next.




CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: In any threats made against law enforcement, including the men and women of the FBI, as with any law enforcement agency are deplorable and dangerous. We have in this country had, over the last few years, an alarming rise in violence against law enforcement.


MELBER: Turning to our special report tonight. That's FBI director Chris Wray rebuking attacks on law enforcement. Wray was appointed by Trump, but is directly confronting how Trump MAGA and right-wing agitators are encouraging violence against police, including in response to the surge of Trump's home. The FBI and DHS also issuing a very grave joint warning of a spike in threats to law enforcement, including from Trump's supporters who were seen carrying pistols and assault-type rifles at an Arizona FBI office, while that armed man wearing body armor was trying to breach the FBI Cincinnati field office for an apparent attack Thursday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Authorities in Ohio in a standoff with a man they say tried to break into the FBI Cincinnati office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A man armed with an AR-15 style rifle tried to breach an FBI office today. And now we're learning he had been at the Capitol on January 6th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, an armed man in Ohio allegedly attempted to breach an FBI field office, leading to a shootout where the suspect was killed.


MELBER: The FBI is fortifying security at its headquarters and all field offices. Our cameras caught some of those preparations as this has gone forward. So, this is a time for a sober reality check for the nation. Donald Trump attempted a coup and personally organized the gathering that turned into a violent insurrection to try to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

Republican leaders have largely warmed to Trump's public brazen embrace of illegal violence as a warning and a threat and as a reality practiced. Now, Trump is out of power, and this court-supervised use of legal steps to protect national security is being met with open and new threats of violence against the FBI, against police, against judges as domestic political terrorism has increased over the last two decades. There are about 2700 open cases now.

Then, we have something that is rife in our public debate. You have people who refer to this criminal violence as a potential reason to surrender, to appease these people, to hand some sort of veto over, possible searches or indictments to the would be thugs and criminals threatening or acting on armed rebellion.

You don't need to be a history buff to know how appeasement fails. And then you might ask what's next, Donald Trump invoking his vigilante army as an active threat against the government he wants led? Well, that's what he just did albeit in secret according to a bombshell report in The New York Times, that Trump sent an ally who had apparently high-level access to the DOJ to pass along a message. Trump wanted Garland to know that he had been checking in with people around the country and found them to be enraged by the search.


Well, the FBI is issuing warnings and bulletins about these people, these Trump fans enraged by the search who were threatening violence and illegal retribution, so this is not exactly a news bulletin over at the FBI and DOJ. Let me be clear, legally, this is outrageous, Donald Trump the subject of his search, invoking those enraged people in what sounds like a threat. It's also improper for a subject to try to make these contacts to the top of the A.G., the Attorney General United States, even if the subject, in this case, is the former president, let alone issue these kinds of threats.

The report says Trump was suggesting he basically has leverage but could somehow reduce the threats or by implication, not reduce them. The New York Times reporting the substance of Trump's message was "the country is on fire, what can I do to reduce the heat?" The idea there is that he's in control of the heat, he alone, a kind of creepy, threatening message for the Attorney General is how Washington Post Jennifer Rubin put it.

Trump then rush to sort of launder this move in public, telling a Fox News online reporter that he's out now to publicly do whatever he can to help the country, the temperature has to be brought down. You know, that move if you follow the news. Donald Trump gets busted trying to do something in secret, so he rushes out in public, and then later people say, hey, he said it in public, how bad can it be? And the answer legally is very bad.

This is not subtle. And no one thinks of Donald Trump as someone who brings down the temperature. That's not his thing. His most loyal supporters don't think that about him. None of this even claims to treat the probe as valid where evidence and facts determine the legal steps. Someone treating the probe is valid could have their lawyer called the A.G. to say -- or the DOJ to say, we really are interested, we want to cooperate, we think the facts will show that.

Trump views this as an amoral battle of power where his threats and leverage can be wielded. And in that sense, in Trump's mind, maybe he does see Garland as more scary, as a more intimidating adversary than you realize, So, this is Trump's version of a rare, potentially conciliatory gesture in his mind. But it's wrong. Federal investigations are not some deal. They're not a battle between the subject and the prosecutor. And they certainly are never supposed to be subject to threats of violence. If they were, no gangster would ever be held accountable and this would be an even more dangerous nation to live in.

This is ugly stuff. And there are people who'd rather look away and hope it just goes away. And they'd rather do that than confront the fact that our nation's most recent president is threatening a violent rebellion. But then again, wake up, America. He already did that once in public in 2021 just to try to keep a job he liked. If anyone is surprised he's doing it in 2022 to keep his potential liberty, then you haven't been paying attention.

And I promise you, this is the time to pay attention to the threats and the evidence and to face them down in whatever way you can and your life and role as a citizen and to soberly back the rule of law, period.



MELBER: Exactly one week ago, we first learned the breaking news that Donald Trump's home was being raided, one of those things that might have seemed improbable or impossible, and now is just a thing we all know. So, what was the mission? Well, we're learning more about that. The Wall Street Journal, and they've been on the case, we had one of their reporters tonight, has a story about how this all went down and what the focus was.

They have a look at the accounting of the records taking -- taken I should say -- who got the documents and what the DOJ was looking for, 21 boxes, two photo binders, that leather-bound box that we learned about in the inventory list, and one handwritten note. The warrant also cited three laws, two about improperly handling intelligence and one about obstruction. We went over those late last week as well.

But there's new reporting here that suggests that the first priority, the first goal was to just get the darn documents back. So, the search warrant does put some heat on Trump. But as we've emphasized, it does not confirm who's under investigation. Indeed, one of the things we're seeing at a time when many people want to draw big conclusions in real-time is the warrant, the subpoena, and some of the reporting suggests, the first priority was getting the documents, not building an espionage case.

Whether that changes based on the evidence they have or what people were up to at Mar-a-Lago is an open question. But right now, it does not look like or at least we don't have written evidence from the DOJ that they were rushing to try to indict the former president over intelligence.

We will stay on that story. I wanted to get that detail in and tell you. Up ahead, we have a very special announcement regarding Snoop. Stay with me.



MELBER: A lot going on, but we like to always end with something big and we have a happy announcement. I'm excited to tell you tomorrow we have our final "MAVERICKS" interview this summer with none other than Snoop Dogg, Snoop D O Double G, Snoop Doggy Dog, you know what it is.

This interview is special. He welcomed us into his Inglewood studio. You see here, we taped it, it has not aired yet. But here is a little bit of what he told me when we talked about politics and Tupac.


TUPAC, RAPPER: The same crime element that white people fear, we fear. So, we defend ourselves from the same crime element that they scared of.

MELBER: He was angry at injustice.

SNOOP DOGG, RAPPER: He was angry at the system, not the justice system. The system that's designed to bring the Black man down because remember he's a Black Panther. He was able to even unite color lines because Tupac loved all peoples and I love all people. We didn't just make music for Black people, it was just we were trying to help Black people because we've seen what was done to us when we tried to help each other.


MELBER: Helping each other from the Black Panthers to loving all people. We get into all of it. I got to tell you, I am thrilled to share this with you tomorrow. Snoop Dogg, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. You see right there. I hope you join me. If you can't, I hope you DVR it. We are going to air that special discussion for you tomorrow night on THE BEAT as "MAVERICKS" continues into the summer thanks for spending time with us. "THE REIDOUT" with Tiffany Cross is up next.