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Andrew Yang back-peddles on Mar-a-Lago search tweets as CNN's Jim Acosta tries to get a straight answer
This week after the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago for classified information, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang went on the attack against Attorney General Merrick Garland, purporting that the execution of a search warrant was politically motivated and attacking President Joe Biden.
\u201cIt seems like this was authorized by a local judge and a particular FBI office without buy-in or notification of higher levels of government. But literally no one will believe that or make a distinction. It\u2019s probably bureaucratic but it seems political.\u201d— Andrew Yang\ud83e\udde2\u2b06\ufe0f\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Andrew Yang\ud83e\udde2\u2b06\ufe0f\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1660049627
\u201c\u201cIf they raided his home just to find classified documents he took from The White House,\u201d one legal expert noted, \u201che will be re-elected president in 2024, hands down. It will prove to be the greatest law enforcement mistake in history.\u201d https://t.co/xMznFPn0UG\u201d— Andrew Yang\ud83e\udde2\u2b06\ufe0f\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Andrew Yang\ud83e\udde2\u2b06\ufe0f\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1660049627
As more information has become known, Yang has been forced to walk back some of the attacks. Speaking to CNN's Jim Acosta on Sunday, Yang was back peddling even more. When asked about it, he pivoted to the horrific attacks being seen on FBI agents and their families.
"But are you saying that -- I don't think you answered my question," Acosta came back. "Are you saying the attorney general had political motivations with this search at Mar-a-Lago?"
"Oh, I trust that all of the DOJ employees, and particularly the FBI agents, are faithful public servants discharging their duty," Yang said, still refusing to answer. "And it hurts us all that people are singling out individuals in the way that Donie [O'Sullivan' described. It's really awful."
So, Acosta asked again.
"Right. But going back to your tweet that you posted in response to this, you seemed to be suggesting that it was okay for the former president to be bringing top-secret documents to Mar-a-Lago. Is that what you're saying?"
Yang insisted that it wasn't acceptable and then blamed the reports, implying that his opinion changed after further information became revealed and after Garland made a public statement. That didn't stop Acosta, however.
"Right, and Donie was laying out the shifting explanations for why Trump had these documents at Mar-a-Lago," the host said. "We can put that graphic up on screen again. Talking about everything from, well, the documents were declassified in advance. Today Trump is saying they fall under attorney/client privilege. And some of the people who work for Trump, and Trump even himself, have suggested that these documents were planted. Do you buy any of the explanations coming from Trump and his team?"
Yang conceded that the rapidly evolving excuses and explanations continue to be inconsistent. He blamed the collective denialism of the electorate, however.
"But the tough reality we're in, Jim, which you and I both know is there are now maybe 100 or 1,000 different versions of reality that are being accepted by Americans of different ideological backgrounds. And it's going to be very, very difficult," said Yang.
Acosta came back again.
"Forgive me for trying to pin you down, Andrew. Are you okay with Trump taking top-secret documents to Mar-a-Lago? Let's put it that way," he asked.
Yang finally made it clear that he wasn't.
Watch the exchange below:
Andrew Yang back-peddles on Mar-a-Lago search as CNN's Jim Acosta hammers him www.youtube.com
Donald Trump's evolving tales, alibies, attacks and blame detail his panic over FBI's documents search
Former President Donald Trump possessed a lot of concerning government information in his home that he shouldn't have had. What has become obvious over the weekend is that Trump's behavior appears defensive enough to indicate he understands what he did was serious.
At first, he indicated he did nothing wrong and was working with the FBI and that they went rogue. The story then changed as he accused the FBI of planting evidence. The FBI indicated that the information that was found was top secret, the kind of information that isn't even available to the everyday FBI agent. Merrick Garland wasn't in Mar-a-Lago himself with the information, nor was an upper-level government official that would have had access to the information.
He then attacked the FBI, saying that he wasn't in Florida to keep an eye on them during the execution of the search warrant. When it was revealed his lawyers were there, their stories changed that they suddenly were in the parking lot and not watching what the FBI agents did. Americans then found out that Trump was watching the whole search on a closed circuit camera network.
Once it was reported that Trump was in possession of nuclear weapons information the conversation around the incident became even more serious and Trump's alibi changed again. The Atomic Energy Act prevents a president from unilaterally declassifying nuclear information, as historian Alex Wellerstein explained on Friday.
\u201cNow, to get back to the original question\u00a0\u2014 could POTUS remove things from the RD category unilaterally (and without telling anyone ahead of time)? The Atomic Energy Act certainly makes zero provisions for this. It is pretty clear on the procedures and agencies involved.\u201d— Alex Wellerstein (@Alex Wellerstein) 1660307797
So, Trump offered yet another excuse: the nuclear information he took from the government was already public anyway. The information that was taken by the FBI this week isn't even available to the public yet, and Trump hasn't described what it was. So, it's unknown the level of seriousness, and of classification. If it was information that could have been found on the internet, it begs the question of why Trump felt the need to steal it when he could go home and print it off.
The defense evolved another time when Trump and his allies perpetuated the false understanding that a president can simply wave a magic wand over documents and they're suddenly declassified. There's a process for declassification, that would involve others and likely a paper trail. If Trump wanted to declassify nuclear secrets, someone else would absolutely have been involved. If the documents could be found on the internet, why would Trump need to declassify them at all?
While it isn't likely that Trump would pack his own boxes, it has already been made clear that an informant revealed to the FBI that Trump had the documents and was destroying them or there was a concern he would destroy them. Things got even worse over the weekend when Trump started to look at other options for who he could blame.
Some have speculated that Jared Kushner would have a reason to strike back at Trump so he could break off further from the ex-president. While Kushner has been among those Trump is allegedly blaming, Trump is now also blaming his wife.
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen agreed that Trump is panicking, evident in the fact that he doesn't even trust his own partner. It could just as easily have been a secret service agent, which is a member of law enforcement obligated to tell the FBI about possible crimes they've observed. It could also have been a National Archives staffer who saw the classified information when picking up the 15 boxes of documents Trump took.
By Sunday, Trump's justification changed again, and he began claiming "attorney/client privilege."
Regardless of the pretext, Trump appears so panicked he is pointing to his own family members, changing his stories, and trotting out allies on cable news and trying to change the story.
Supporters of Donald Trump showed up at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Sunday to support the former president after his Mar-a-Lago estate was searched by the FBI.
Photojournalist Karla Coté shared scenes from the rally on Twitter.
Video clips showed a party-like atmosphere, with most of the demonstrators holding signs and flags.
"May Pres. Trump, family, be surrounded by the full armor of God," one sign read. "May no weapon formed against them prosper, but boomerang against the offenders. In Jesus name. Amen."
Other signs hinted at pedophilia conspiracy theories that have been promoted by QAnon.
As Cote filmed, one man chanted for the return of the Aunt Jemima character for branding syrup.
"Bring back Aunt Jemima! Bring back Aunt Jemima!" he shouted.