John Ratcliffe, the former director of national intelligence under former President Donald Trump, did not say anything he saw in the heavily edited affidavit for the Mar-a-Lago search warrant confirming what appeared to be an “extreme” approach by the FBI and Department of Justice.
Ratcliffe made the comments in an interview Friday with CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge.
“Well, as expected, it was heavily edited in places,” Ratcliffe said, giving his reaction toFriday. “You know, I think it provides a general explanation for the fact that the FBI and the Department of Justice believe that there are classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. But I don’t really see anything in the written statement that justifies what still seems like an extreme approach by FBI and Department of Justice to retrieve the documents if they are classified.”
The affidavit states that there is “probable cause” that obstruction evidence will be found at Mar-a-Lago, and “probable cause exists to believe that evidence, contraband, criminal proceeds, or other items illegally possess in violation of 18 USC 793(e) ), 2071, or 1519 will be found in PREMISES.”
Trump has been pressing for the release of the affidavit, and several media organizations, including CBS News, have submitted requests for release. Ratcliffe, who served as Trump’s DNI from 2021 to 2021, said nothing he saw would help ease the country’s tensions.
“I mean, I don’t think there’s anything there that’s really going to defuse the tensions that are so high in this country with the American people about whether this is justified or not,” Ratcliffe told Herridge. “I think one of the unfortunate things about the approach of the FBI and the Department of Justice here, Catherine, is that if you want to deepen the divide between, you know, Americans, and to increase the level of skepticism or distrust of the FBI and the Department of Justice, then they’ve managed to do that.” raids against ex-presidents based on ambiguous laws that have been applied unevenly in the past, or have never been construed at all previously to a former president who clearly has the right to classify intelligence as President.”
As CBS News, a former president is required to submit all presidential records to the National Archives and Records Administration upon expiration of his term, according to the Presidential Records Act. That includes classified documents.
On August 8, FBI agents conducted a search at Mar-a-Lago, which was approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland. They confiscated 11 sets of classified documents, according to.
In the interview, Ratcliffe also discussed the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ratcliffe said intelligence revealed more than he could publicly convey, but he had a “high level of confidence” that the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“Well, intelligence shows a lot more than I’m allowed to talk about in public, because, you know, when it comes to, we’re talking about protecting sources and methods, it’s still a bit limited in terms of our intelligence capabilities against the Chinese Communist Party,” Ratcliffe said. . “So I want to keep that up… But let me say this. As the person who has the most access to intelligence, you know, in the intelligence community, we talk about a level of trust, a low level of confidence, a moderate level of trust, a level of trust I have a high degree of confidence that the origin of COVID-19 is at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Now I am a top intelligence official. That’s my opinion.”
In August 2021,in his assessment of the origins of the virus, after a three-month investigation ordered by President Biden. An undisclosed version of the report says the intelligence community is divided over whether the virus came from a laboratory leak, or whether it was transmitted from animals to humans naturally.