Aug 9, 2022 - Podcasts

The FBI searches Mar-a-Lago

Former President Donald Trump said on Monday that the FBI searched his Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago. Two sources familiar with the matter told Axios’s Jonathan Swan that it was their understanding the search was related to documents taken from the White House -- documents that may have been classified.

  • Plus: a series of killings shakes a Muslim community in New Mexico.
  • And: some news about Axios.

Guests: Axios' Margaret Talev; Gino Gutierrez, reporter for KSFR; and Samia Assed, Albuquerque resident and activist.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Alex Sugiura, and Ben O'Brien. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Tuesday, August 9th.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re following: a series of killings shakes a Muslim community in New Mexico.

Plus, some close-to-home news about Axios.

But first, the FBI searches Mar-a-Lago. That’s today’s One Big Thing.

NIALA: Former President Donald Trump said on Monday, the FBI searched his Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago. Two sources familiar with the matter told Axios’ Jonathan Swan, that it was their understanding the search was related to documents taken from the White House that may have been classified. It's a remarkable step without historical precedent. And Axios’ managing editor for politics Margaret Talev is here with this big story. Hi Margaret.


NIALA: What do we know about this search so far? The Justice Department does have several investigations ongoing involving Trump.

MARGARET: Niala I think it's really important for everyone to understand that we know actually very little about this search so far and what we do know, we know through the eyes, through the telling of the former president of Donald Trump in a very colorful, heated statement where he calls it a raid where he talks about safe cracking, where he tries to compare it to like a reverse sort of a Watergate. And of course this is ultimately part of a legal case or perhaps multiple legal cases. We don't know, precisely at this point what this search warrant was looking for. That's information that will become public over time. But we do know that upon leaving office, the former president was reported to have taken to his residence there in Florida to Mar-a-Lago, several multiple, uh, documents that had been classified and that the National Archives went down there to get. There are questions about: Did they remain classified? Why does any of it matter? Why does the public care? These are all big questions and we don't know the answers to any of these questions yet.

NIALA: Do we know then if this means federal prosecutors are getting close to an indictment?

MARGARET: We know that in order to execute a search like this, you need a warrant. In order to get a warrant, you need a judge. In order for that judge to sign the warrant, the judge needs to believe that there was a commission of a crime and that there either is, or was at some point specific documents or something, that was believed to be on that premise at Mar-a-Lago. That is, um, crucial information for and around that criminal case. That's what we know. And it's so inherently loaded of an issue politically. I mean, it has the potential to tear the country apart. It's not anything crazy to say that, we all know that. In order for the Justice Department to have taken this step, uh, there had to be very strong and clear evidence that they felt was necessary to pursue no matter the kind of shock value and implications involved.

NIALA: To your point, about the politicization of this, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted last night that the Department of Justice had reached a level of weaponize politicization. If McCarthy becomes the next speaker of the House, what does that mean for this investigation?

MARGARET: Well for January 6th investigations, the one that the select committee has been running will be over and, Kevin McCarthy, uh, left very little mystery about the warning sign that he hoped to send to the Attorney General, to Merrick Garland. He said Attorney General Garland “preserve your documents and clear your calendar.” And it's not just Kevin McCarthy. You're seeing this from Republican voices inside of Congress, outside of Congress at the national level, it's gonna become a litmus for the prospective theoretical ‘24 test, even though ironically, some of these figures are potentially going to be running against Donald Trump or trying to see who blinks first. And is Donald Trump gonna run again in 2024, but this is going to become the new baseline talking point for Republicans engaged at the national level.

NIALA: Margaret you've been covering Washington politics for your entire career. What do you think of this moment of the FBI executing a search warrant on a former president?

MARGARET: Although this is a historic moment and it feels like a turning point it is actually part of a larger moment that began on January 6th. That was the biggest pivot point in the moment that we are all still living in a year and a half later. But this has now a unique ability potentially to become fuel on the fire of divisions in this country. Divisions are already extremely deep. They're already two different camps in America in terms of uh, who they believe, what sets of facts people believe. There's still a significant percentage of Americans who don't believe that the legitimate results of the 2020 election are legitimate. But I think if you are the U.S. Justice Department and you believe that a crime occured, you believe that the information that's pertinent to that is at Mar-a-Lago what choice do they have but to pursue it.

NIALA: Axios’ managing editor for politics Margaret Talev. Thanks Margaret.

MARGARET: Thank you Niala.

NIALA: In a moment, Albuquerque reacts to the deaths of four muslim men that may be related.

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo. Four Muslim men have recently been killed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and what police believed to be a string of targeted attacks. The latest was 25-year-old Naim Hussain who was shot and killed late Friday night outside the funeral of two other men who had been shot in the last three weeks. Police have identified a vehicle of interest and are asking anyone with information to come forward. Gino Gutierrez is a reporter for KSFR based in Albuquerque and joins us now with the story. Hi Gino thanks for being with us.

GINO GUTIERREZ: Hello, Niala. Thank you so much for having me on.

NIALA: You know, the first murder police believe connected to this happened on November 7th, but the others just in the last three weeks, what do we know so far about why police believe these are connected?

GINO: So Niala, a lot of that has to do with the way that these victims had been murdered. Going back, you mentioned the first murder occurred in November. That was 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi, he was shot and killed, outback behind a market he had owned with his older brother. The second victim Aftab Hussein was shot outside of his apartment building. Same with the third victim, uh, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain was also shot outside of his apartment building. And then you have the most recent victim. He was actually killed in the parking lot of an organization that helps refugees and displaced individuals. The one key thing that law enforcement have really said ties all of these together is the fashion in which these men were killed and the locations as well. All of these men were killed in an ambush style. They were seemed to have been taken by surprise, and shot multiple times. And they also believe these men are being targeted based off of their race and religion.

NIALA: I mentioned police have identified a potential vehicle in connection with these murders. Where else does the investigation stand right now?

GINO: That's kind of the latest update that law enforcement has given us. That vehicle, that they're asking people to keep an eye out they described as a dark gray, silver four-door Volkswagen sedan. Uh, it did have tinted windows as well. A deputy chief for the Albuquerque police department did say that there could be some damage on the vehicle. Again, the way that these murders have been committed, it seems to be targeted. All of them are occurring in the evening where these gentlemen are kind of outside either on the cell phone or smoking, but the vehicle is kind of really the only lead they have, right now.

NIALA: Gino Gutierrez is a reporter for KSFR based in Albuquerque. Thanks Gino. We appreciate it.

GINO: Niala, thank you so much for your time.

Muslim leaders in the community have been responding to these attacks – urging people to not leave their homes, and to stay vigilant when they do. Samia Assad is a long time Muslim activist in Albuquerque.

SAMIA ASSAD: So many of the community left town. Uh, the other are, basically staying home fearful for, their life. I'm I had some of the young men tell me, they're afraid. They're somebody's looking through their windows. They felt that they would be targeted. We have to keep vigilant while persistent, in our, our right to exist safe in our communities. Albuquerque has been predominantly a warm and loving space for the Muslim community. It's a small community, a few thousand. Even though we're marginalized in number, we do not want to be marginalized as a community. And that the story in Albuquerque impacts the rest of the country,

NIALA: One final headline before we go: you may have seen the announcement yesterday that Axios has agreed to sell to Cox Enterprises for $525 million dollars. And we’ve heard from some of you asking if this will change anything for Axios editorially, specifically the podcast. And my answer is: absolutely not. There will be no change in how our newsroom and podcast will be run, Axios Today will remain as editorially independent as it has been, and we’ll keep bringing you the biggest news plus stories you won’t hear elsewhere just like we always have. Feel free to text me with questions and thoughts: I’m at (202) 918-4893.

I’m Niala Boodhoo, thanks for listening, stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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