Transcript for ABC New Live: Trump calls for release of affidavit behind Mar-a-Lago search
- Good Tuesday afternoon. I'm Kenneth Moton. Here are some top headlines. President Biden is set to sign the Inflation Reduction Act into law today. The health, climate, and tax bill is the largest climate investment in the US history. It's also expected to make prescription drugs and health insurance cheaper and raise taxes on the wealthy.
First lady Dr. Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. The White House says she's double vaccinated, twice boosted, and is experiencing mild symptoms. She's been prescribed Paxlovid and will isolate from others for at least five days. For more and more than 5,000 cases of Wild Cherry flavor Capri Sun are being recalled. Kraft Heinz warns they may have been mixed with a cleaning solution and people should not drink them. If you have a case, you can return them in store or contact Kraft Heinz to be reimbursed.
We begin with former President Trump calling for the release of the unredacted affidavit that preceded the FBI's search of his Mar-a-Lago estate. The Justice Department fighting to keep the affidavit under seal saying it could jeopardize the ongoing criminal investigation, which has potential national security implications. Senior national correspondent Terry Moran has the latest from Washington.
TERRY MORAN: Former President Donald Trump is calling for the immediate release of the completely unredacted affidavit behind last week's FBI search of his Florida residence. But the Department of Justice wants that affidavit, a sworn document that provides justification for a search and thus a possible roadmap to the case, to remain sealed to protect witnesses in its investigation into Donald Trump's alleged mishandling of classified information.
- They certainly don't want to put former President Trump or anyone close to him on notice of what they are looking at.
TERRY MORAN: The Justice Department argues that publishing the affidavit would reveal specific investigative techniques and could even compromise their investigation. That investigation is a criminal probe with national security implications. DOJ revealing it has witnesses cooperating in this investigation and indicating that a grand jury is involved. Now, some lawmakers are also demanding answers.
The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Intelligence committee have asked the Director of National Intelligence and the DOJ to provide the classified documents retrieved by the FBI, 11 sets in total, along with an assessment of potential risks to national security as a result of their mishandling at Mar-a-Lago. Sources tell ABC News investigators are now scrubbing through security footage subpoenaed from Mar-a-Lago as they try to retrace the movements of these classified materials and determine whether the country's national secrets have been compromised.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, in an unrelated case, one of the many investigations into Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Prosecutors in Fulton County have notified Rudy Giuliani that he is a target in the investigation. Giuliani, Trump's lawyer in those battles, now faces a likely indictment. Kenneth.
KENNETH MOTON: All right. Terry Moran here in DC, thank you. For more, let's bring in ABC News senior investigative reporter Aaron Katersky, as well as Kimberly Wehle, ABC News legal contributor and law professor at the University of Baltimore. Good to see you both. So Kim, the former president is now calling for the immediate release of the unredacted affidavit behind the Mar-a-Lago search. The Justice Department, however, opposing its release in response to requests from news organizations, including ABC News, seeking to unseal it. What more can you tell us about what could be in that affidavit? And why would the DOJ want to keep it under seal?
- So the affidavit can be tens or even hundreds pages long, depending on the facts. So the affidavit is the story. It sets forth the evidence thus far that DOJ has gathered that gave rise to the search, that gave rise-- probable cause-- to believe there was evidence of a crime. And they did, it looks like, find evidence of crimes. And I say that because this is, at least on its face, based on the classification not information that should have left the White House or highly secured environments.
So the way this works is really a balancing test. The various news outlets, I think including ABC News, has asked for this information. But the judge is going to have to take into account, OK, if this is released now-- this is not after a trial, for example, where it would be easier to get it-- if this is released now, what happens to the DOJ investigation?
There are witnesses who could be harmed or put in danger, who could change their testimony. There are documents or other evidence that could potentially be destroyed or made concealed to the government if it's clear where the government is headed in this. There are national security implications. And also, the filing refers to grand jury 6E information, which is top secret, cannot be disclosed without a court order. So I don't think it's going to come to light frankly.
- And Aaron, we know this is a public fight between the former president and DOJ. What's in this for him? Why would he want the affidavit released?
- He knows it's unlikely to be released, Kenneth. And I think this just gives him an opportunity to play contrarian. He thrives in chaos. He's been able to use this search of his Florida home for political purposes. He's been fundraising off of it. So why not? Just say, hey, release it, and let the Justice Department look like the ones trying to keep it all under wraps.
But I think Trump knows as well as anyone that it is unlikely that the entirety of the affidavit would be unsealed. Redacted portions may be. And the Justice Department's said they'd be OK with that. Let's see what the federal judge decides. He's scheduled a hearing on this matter for Thursday.
KENNETH MOTON: Yeah, quite a game of chicken there. Aaron, we know Trump claimed agents took three of his passports during the raid, one of them expired, along with those classified documents. ABC News now confirming those passports were returned to Trump's team. What more are we learning about that?
- Yeah, it seems as if they were just swept up in some of the boxes, more than two dozen of them that the agents took out of Mar-a-Lago. And per FBI protocol, they say in a statement, those passports can be returned because they're not necessary for investigative purposes.
- Kim, let me move to you. We know that tomorrow Rudy Giuliani is set to appear before a grand jury in Georgia as part of a separate state investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. We learned Giuliani's legal team has been informed he is a target of that investigation. What will that process look like?
KIMBERLY WEHLE: Well, when someone is informed that they are a target, it generally is giving their lawyers an opportunity to decide whether to plead the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. So that's I think what the conversations are in this moment. Does Rudy Giuliani show up and say, listen, I can't answer these things because I don't want to say things that could then be used against me in a potential criminal prosecution, which is not unlikely in this moment? He mentioned attorney client privilege. That's really a sidebar. That's not the question really before his lawyers right now. It really is Fifth Amendment incrimination.
- And Aaron, meanwhile, we know that Republican South Carolina Senator Linsey Graham is vowing to appeal a federal judge's ruling compelling him to testify before a grand jury in that Georgia election investigation. What's the latest on that?
AARON KATERSKY: Linsey Graham says that because he's a sitting US Senator, he shouldn't have to participate, although a judge there has already overruled that, said this has nothing to do with him being a senator. It has everything to do with him being a mouthpiece for allies of the former president who are trying to overturn the results of the Georgia vote. And we know that Linsey Graham was on the phone, the judge said, trying to question the integrity of the Georgia vote, questioning some of the ballots and the electors.
And clearly, the prosecutors in Fulton County and metro Atlanta want to explore that a little bit with him. He's not been named as a target of the investigation, unlike Rudy Giuliani and 16 fake electors, but prosecutors are intent on trying to get at what the senator might know, even though he says he is going to fight his appearance for as long as he can.
KENNETH MOTON: All right. Aaron Katersky, Kimberly Wehle, thank you for your time. We appreciate it. And coming up, the eyes of the political world are on Wyoming as we wait to see if Congresswoman Liz Cheney can hold off a serious challenge from a Trump-backed candidate. Wyoming's top election official joins me after this.
Welcome back. Voters are headed to the polls today in the states of Alaska and Wyoming. For more on what to expect, here is ABC News political director Rick Klein with Rick's picks.
RICK KLEIN: Yeah, only two states are voting today. And there are two states that have so few people they only have one congressional district each. But they are really important congressional districts, both of them, Wyoming and Alaska, and here's why. Let's start with the big story. It's Wyoming. This is the Liz Cheney day. This is the day that we've had circled on the calendar for a long time. Liz Cheney is up against a Trump-backed challenger. Of course, Liz Cheney has been the face of the January 6 hearings, has made clear it's her mission, as she says it, to make sure that Trump never sees the Oval Office again.
Trump has made his mission to make sure that she doesn't go back to Congress. And this is one of Donald Trump's strongest states. That was actually the largest margin by percentage that Trump had in any of the 50 states in the 2020 election. Those Democrats, Joe Biden Democrats, 73,000 votes, those are the people that Liz Cheney needs desperately to show up for her today in a primary. But there is also a Democratic primary candidate. So it's not a certain thing. And it is going to be very hard for her to overcome this. We find out whether she's able to hang on to her congressional seat in a very, very Trumpy state.
Another state that Trump is quite popular in is the state of Alaska. That's the other state that's voting today. You can see all across Alaska that was Trump, Trump, Trump territory. Biden with about 35,000 votes or so in that state. Two big races to watch there. One of them is actually a special election to fill the House seat that was previously occupied by the late Don Young. Sarah Palin is the leading candidate in that race. She's one of three candidates that are on the ballot. And she is the one that has the Trump endorsement. A lot of history there in Alaska as the former vice presidential nominee and the former governor. We'll see if she hangs on because the other people she's running against, another well known Republican, who's actually part of a long political dynasty, and a Democratic candidate.
We'll see if this test of Trump's influence comes through there. And also, there's a Senate race. Lisa Murkowski was one of those Republican senators who voted to convict Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial. Donald Trump said, I'm going to find someone to beat Lisa Murkowski. Well, good luck with that. The top four candidates are going to advance to November. Lisa Murkowski almost certainly is going to be one of them. So we'll have to wait for a few months to see if she is going to remain as a senator.
And here's why all of this begins to matter. We have seen in almost every state that has voted so far, Trump-backed and/or election-denying candidates, people that deny the legitimacy of the last election, winning their primaries. It's happened coast to coast so far. Most recently, just this past week in places like Wisconsin and Minnesota. Now, we see, does it happen in Wyoming? Does it happen in Alaska? Again, these are places where Trump did very well in 2020. You would presume he's got a lot of pull with Republican primary voters.
Are these states that hold the line against that? Do they stem that tide? And of course, finally, we get the fate of Liz Cheney, the last of the 10 Republicans to support impeachment to face voters. Actually, four of them decided not to face voters at all. They decided to retire. Out of the five that have gone forward, we've seen only two of them advanced to the fall election. Three have already lost their primaries. And this is by far the biggest name out there. Congresswoman Cheney part of a famous political family. Her dad has been out there campaigning for her and doing ads for her.
She has made the case that this is not just about Wyoming, but about the fate of the country. Her mission, as she puts it, to try to stop Donald Trump from becoming president again. This is where it begins. If she loses her seat today, I'll tell you, there aren't a lot of people that think that's the last time you're going to see Liz Cheney's name on a ballot. She's almost certain to run for another office at some point, maybe even president in 2024.
- All right. Rick Klein, thank you for that. And ABC's Zohreen Shah joins me now to keep breaking this on down. We've heard a lot, Zohreen, from Wyoming Republican Representative Liz Cheney, who broke from her party by voting to impeach former President Trump after the January 6 attack on the Capitol. She's also vice chair of the House Committee investigating that attack. What are her chances of keeping her seat today?
ZOHREEN SHAH: Not good, Kenneth. I mean, look, she's likely to lose. I think at this point, experts are wondering how much will she lose by. And if you haven't been paying attention for the last many months, some people might be confused. They might think this is the woman who voted with Donald Trump 95% of the time. But look, she has become one of his worst nightmares. She's one of the two Republicans on the January 6 committee. She's right now up against Harriet Hageman. That person is a politician, a lawyer, but most importantly, Harriet Hageman is backed by Donald Trump. She says the last election was rigged. And at this point, it certainly appears that an election denier is headed to DC now.
KENNETH MOTON: So you got Cheney, staunch Republican. Her dad is Dick Cheney. I think that says it all right there. But apparently, she's got a message that appeals to Democrats. But is anyone switching party affiliations to vote for her in the primaries?
- People are. I mean, you can change your affiliation in Wyoming the day of. So in theory, right now, people can go to their polling location, they can change their registration from Democrat to Republican or Republican to Democrat, and then they can switch back really easily. But 538 has been crunching the numbers. It's really unlikely that this is going to move the needle for Liz Cheney, that it's going to make enough of a difference. 70% of voters in Wyoming are a part of the GOP party. It's a very, very conservative state.
KENNETH MOTON: Yeah, very conservative. So if, and some would say when, Liz Cheney loses, what's next for her? Where does she go from here?
- I mean, you heard Rick Klein right there in Rick's picks talk about the fact that this probably isn't the last time you're going to see Liz Cheney on a ballot. You heard Stephanie Rawlings-Blake earlier this morning, the former mayor of Baltimore, saying that she thinks that Cheney is playing the long game, that the Republican Party isn't likely to be this way forever, and that she thinks that Cheney will have a comeback at some point. At this moment, though, right now, we know that Liz Cheney's main goal is to keep Donald Trump out of office. So who knows? Maybe she launches her own presidential campaign if and when it doesn't work out today.
KENNETH MOTON: Yeah, maybe. Maybe. We'll see. Let's go west. We're seeing a familiar face in Alaska. Former governor and one time vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is back on the ballot running for Congress in a special election. She's been critical of the state's new ranked choice voting system. Zohreen, what's at stake in this Alaska special election and how does the voting system there work?
ZOHREEN SHAH: I mean, we'll see how she does. I think if she does fairly, we'll see if she's still critical of it. But the stakes are really big. This is the only House seat in Alaska. There is no incumbent right now. And then you have three candidates right now who move from that special primary in June to right now, this very moment. You have businessman Nick Begich, who is a Republican. And then you have State Representative Mary Peltola. She's a Democrat, by the way. And then you have, of course, Sarah Palin, the former governor, the reason why we're probably talking about this race right now. Look, one of the most well-known names in politics. But she has been critical of this ranked choice voting, this new voting that we have in Alaska now.
And it is a little bit complicated. I mean, look, I'll try to explain it to you. You basically rank all the candidates that you're for by one, two, and three. If anyone gets over 50% today, they win outright. There is no more election anymore. But if they don't, which is likely to happen, those votes will get split up. And the person who has the least amount of votes gets cut out. Their votes get redistributed to the other folks. And then the top two people who have over 50% will then move on. So Kenneth, you can decide for yourself if you think that's complicated or convoluted. But we'll see how it works today.
KENNETH MOTON: Yeah, I know Maine has it. Alaska now has it. We'll see if any other states pick that up as well. But pretty interesting, though.
- Look, people think that the voting system is really polarized in our country. So this is one of those methods to try and make it a little less polarized.
- I love that. You get one more point in after I tried to thank you, Zohreen, and move on. But you're like, I got one more thing to say. I like it.
- Thanks, Kenneth.
- Thank you, Zohreen. And as the political world turns its attention to the state of Wyoming and I had the chance to speak with Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan about the Cheney primary and the impact of continued false allegations of election fraud. Take a listen.
- I think it is very dangerous to our democracy. Obviously, if our citizens don't have the absolute trust and confidence in their governmental institutions in running their elections, then in my mind, nothing else really matters. And so to combat that narrative, I've traveled around the state sharing and educating the public on the processes we undertake here in the Wyoming Secretary of State's office to ensure that our elections are fair and that they're secure and that they can count on the results that we receive.
KENNETH MOTON: And looking at Liz Cheney's race against Trump-endorsed candidate Harriet Hageman, who are you endorsing and why?
EDWARD BUCHANAN: In the Secretary of State's office, although this is an elected office, I try to, as the state's chief election officer, I don't give out endorsements. And part of that is because, as the state's chief elections officer, I want everybody, whether or not they're Republican or Democrat, to know that we operate our elections in Wyoming in an apolitical fashion when it comes to the administration of those elections, both in my office and at the county level. And so I don't make endorsements in races for that reason.
KENNETH MOTON: I understand it'd be taboo for a secretary of state to endorse or make an endorsement, but I still had to try and ask you just because it's a race that everyone is watching there in your state. Assuming Liz Cheney loses her primary, which she's expected to do based on most of the polling in this race, what will that tell you about the state of the Republican party?
- Well, I just think in Wyoming, that will simply tell you whether or not citizens want folks to concentrate more on things that are on a national level or in Washington DC or whether or not they prefer candidates who stick closer to home and Wyoming issues. And so really, I think that's the choice between voters. Certainly not opining on one or the other, but I think that's basically what that race is boil down to is Wyoming issues or national issues.
KENNETH MOTON: And we watched the Congresswoman Cheney turned into a pariah in your state after her criticism of the former president. Wyoming's Republican Party voted to censure Cheney and House Republicans removed her from the leadership. Do you need to be a Trump supporter to be elected in Wyoming?
EDWARD BUCHANAN: I think certainly Wyoming has a fondness for Donald Trump. And it certainly doesn't hurt if you have the former president's endorsement or if you share a lot of the same ideologies. However, I don't think that that's an absolute prerequisite to hold office in Wyoming. Wyoming voters are free thinkers. They're independent folks, but they are conservative really across the board. And so I think that general conservatism that you see out of Wyoming voters is really what you see when you look at the congressional race.
- And what's it like getting all this attention for your primary?
- It hasn't been too bad. I think that it is driving up turnout, which is always a good thing. We always want to see greater participation in our elections. This one so far is approaching some pretty good numbers for a non-presidential election year. And I think that's in large part due to the popularity, if you will, of that particular congressional race. But overall, it hasn't been too bad or anything that was unexpected.
KENNETH MOTON: And Secretary, can you talk about what's next for you? I know that you said you were going to seek reelection and then you decided not to. And I understand you have aspirations for a seat on a judicial bench.
- Yeah, thanks, Kenneth. I was appointed by Governor Gordon to be a district court judge in my hometown. That'll start later this year. And that was an opportunity that arose after I had announced my re-election. It was something I had not expected, but was also something that I had always wanted to pursue. And so I'm happy that I had the opportunity to pursue that, and happy to report that I was appointed to that position. And so that's why then I chose not to run for re-election as Wyoming secretary of state.
KENNETH MOTON: Gotcha. Well, best of luck to you. Thank you for your time. And good luck on this election day. Secretary of State Edward Buchanan, thank you.
- Thank you, Kenneth. It's been my pleasure.
- And be sure to tune in to ABC News Live's complete coverage of the primary races. We'll have results, analysis, and more beginning tonight at 7:00 PM Eastern right here on ABC News live. Coming up, the race to escape Ukrainians fleeing the area around the Russian held nuclear plant as fears of a catastrophe rise. We are inside the nuclear zone after this.
Back now with those new developments out of Ukraine. Thousands fleeing the area around that Russian-held nuclear plant amid fears of a potential disaster. Britt Clennett is inside the nuclear zone with more.
BRITT CLENNETT: A mass exodus of Ukrainians fleeing Russian-held territory in the Zaporizhia region as fears of a nuclear catastrophe loom large. Evacuees reaching this makeshift center in Zaporizhia finally making it to non-occupied territory. And after a long journey, the sense of relief is clear.
A really beautiful scene. And many that we're seeing here, people being reunited as they escape Russian occupied areas and try and find safety You can see they've got everything they own. Some of them fleeing Enerhodar at the site of the Russian-held Zaporizhzhya plant.
BRITT CLENNETT: It's bad there. It's hard, this woman from Enerhodar tells us. Let authorities go there and have a look. Her fear, justified. Rockets continue to rain down near Europe's largest power plant. This video circulating online show explosions in the town. Both Russia and Ukraine continue to blame each other for the ongoing attacks.
- Our thanks to Britt Clennett there. I'm Kenneth Moton. Thanks for joining us. Remember, ABC News live is here for you all day with the latest news, context, and analysis. And remember, ABC News live is available on all of your streaming devices plus the ABC News app and on abcnews.com. The news continues right after this.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.