Many questions remain unanswered since the FBI’s Aug. 8 raid on the Florida home of former President Donald Trump.
“First of all, make no mistake about it. There are rules that the president is not supposed to keep records,” veteran journalist and lawyer Greta Van Susteren says. “The public records—I’m talking about the non-classified ones—do belong for the most part to the American people, so they have to be turned over to the [National Archives]. Usually, when a president leaves office, they’re sorted through and they decide what’s the president should have, what shouldn’t have.”
“That’s one group of documents. The second are our classified documents,” Van Susteren adds. “And the question is, does [Trump] have classified documents? Clearly, he’s not supposed to have classified documents. He’s no longer in office. You have to make sure classified documents are in very secured places.”
Van Susteren joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to dissect the FBI raid and the polarization surrounding it, China’s growing aggression, and her new show, “The Record with Greta Van Susteren,” on Newsmax TV.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
Samantha Renck: Greta Van Susteren is joining the podcast today. She is the host of “The Record with Greta Van Susteren” on Newsmax TV. Greta, thank you so much for joining us today.
Greta Van Susteren: I’m very happy to be here. Thank you for asking me.
Renck: Of course. Now, first and foremost, can you tell us a little bit about your new show and your return to cable TV?
Van Susteren: Well, in many ways, it’s the same show I’ve ever had, whether it was at CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Voice of America, [or] Gray Media, because I look at news through a legal lens.
Now, I don’t mean it’s a legal show. It’s not that at all. But when you go to law school, they teach you how to look for facts. In fact, you take a course called “Evidence,” which is just all about facts and about what can be shown. And that’s the way I approach journalism … I look for the facts, whatever they may be, and I try not to tell the viewers what to think. I just say, “Here are the facts. You come up with your own thoughts and opinion.”
Now that’s not to say that opinion shows are not important. They are extremely important because it’s good to have a robust debate and have opinions. But my goal here is to continue just to [say], “However the chips may fall, they may fall. Tell me the facts, and that’s what I’m interested in.” So that’s how I would describe the show.
Renck: Absolutely. And as you know, there has been no shortage of news to cover. I want to start with the raid that happened last week on President Donald Trump’s Florida home, Mar-a-Lago. … There’s a lot of questions that remain unanswered.
The political divide regarding approval of the raid was pretty significant. A survey from Politico/Morning Consult found that 84% of Democrats approved, whereas only 15% of Republicans said they approved. What do you think of this partisan divide? And do you think that the FBI needs to release more details about the raid to settle any fears that it was politically motivated?
Van Susteren: All right. Well, you’ve got about 15 questions here, so let me try to take them apart, and re-ask if I forget one of them.
Renck: Yes, of course.
Van Susteren: All right. First of all is that, regrettably, we’ve gotten to the point in this country where we don’t wait for the facts. Instead, we take sides. So I’m not surprised by those numbers, because President Trump is a Republican. I’m actually expecting Republicans to be more supportive of him, and the Democrats [to be] not supportive of him. So those numbers don’t surprise me in the least bit. I expect those.
The second thing is that, look, this is a developing story, and we’re going to learn new facts every single day this week and next week. A new fact could change if someone who is looking at it fairly, and not through a political lens and taking sides, might think of of what’s going on. So that’s an important consideration, is to recognize that we don’t have all the facts.
In fact, Friday night, The Washington Post reported something like they thought that [the] nuclear code was involved … [and] that went all over Twitter like a wildfire. Well, I don’t think the nuclear code was involved. And secondly, … I do know or suspect that they changed the nuclear code all the time. So that was just something that was electrifying, set people on fire, and only fueled the divide in this country between Republicans and Democrats.
Now let’s go to what happened. First of all, make no mistake about it: There are rules that the president is not supposed to keep records. The public records—I’m talking about the nonclassified ones—do belong for the most part to the American people, so they have to be turned over to the archive. Usually, when a president leaves office, they’re sorted through and they decide what the president should have, what he shouldn’t have. That’s one group of documents.
The second are our classified documents. And the question is: Does [Trump] have classified documents? Clearly, he’s not supposed to have classified documents. He’s no longer in office. You have to make sure classified documents are in very secured places.
Now let’s look at the process. I don’t care if it’s President Trump, President [Joe] Biden, President [Barack] Obama, [or] President [George W.] Bush, the process should be the same and level-handed for all. This is the way these things are.
Obviously, every story is different, every factual situation, but they subpoenaed the documents from [Trump] in June. They got records, and the Department of Justice wasn’t satisfied. They thought that the president didn’t comply, or there were more records, or they’re hidden or partial, whatever. What would happen is that the Department of Justice would take that subpoena to court, and they present it to the judge to say, “Judge, we have a lawful subpoena, and the president hasn’t complied.”
The president would then have opportunity to his lawyers to say, “Look, we did comply,” or, “The subpoena’s overly broad,” or, “We don’t have the documents,” or whatever.
And the judge would sort through it and resolve the dispute at that point. So both sides would have an opportunity to work it out. That didn’t happen.
What did happen instead was that the Justice Department made a giant leap and waited about eight weeks and went to get a search warrant. And that’s something very different than the subpoena. And with the search warrant, it’s a one-sided deal. Done all the time, there’s nothing illegal about a search warrant. But this is the process.
They went into court and they said, “We need to get a search warrant.” And the president’s not there to say, “Look, I’ve given you everything.” He’s not there to say, “The records aren’t there.” He’s not there to litigate, it’s one-sided.
A subpoena is generally issued when there’s an emergency. You see them often in drug cases, when there’s a pile of cocaine on a kitchen table and you have to hurry and get a search warrant because you can’t litigate the subpoena. Because by the time you litigate the subpoena, the cocaine has been snorted up someone’s nose.
So they get the subpoena on Friday, one-sided; they say it’s an emergency and they say what they want. And they then wait from Friday until Monday to execute it. And that’s where all the lawyers say, “Wait a second. If it was such an emergency, why didn’t you do it on Friday? What makes it an emergency? Did you think the president was going to destroy documents? Well, if you did, he should have done it on Friday.”
So that’s the problem, is that it becomes looking very heavy-handed on the part of the Department of Justice.
They should have litigated the subpoena in June. They chose not to. They jumped to a search warrant five or six weeks later. And then once they get the search warrant about noon on Friday, they don’t bother to execute it until Monday. So what was the urgency?
And that’s the whole issue of process and what gets a lot of people very agitated. It doesn’t mean President Trump should keep documents or have documents. I don’t even know what he has or doesn’t have, but the process, when the process is heavy-handed in one direction, it’ll create all sorts of problems with people looking at it and it’ll create all sorts of suspicions, and people will be pointing fingers.
And that’s what I think is the mistake the Justice Department did, is that it looks like they didn’t treat him fairly. They should have litigated the subpoena in June.
Renck: Over the last few years, trust in the FBI has suffered. And in light of what happened last week and what you were just talking about, how can trust be restored n the FBI?
Van Susteren: First of all, I work with FBI agents on cases and stories all the time. They are unbelievable— thousands of very good men and women every single day working really hard to do a good job and do a fair one and keep us protected and to solve crime.
The problem is that the high-profile ones that go askew, like this one, naturally poison everybody—or a good portion of the population—against the FBI. We look at the arrest of Peter Navarro a couple weeks ago, President Trump’s former adviser. He tends to be obnoxious in dealing with law enforcement, and law enforcement sometimes will give you a little harder time when you’re obnoxious, but he was charged with two counts of obstruction of Congress. Those are misdemeanors.
Navarro lives across the street from the FBI. They could have gone over and knocked on his door. Instead, he was at Reagan National Airport across the river, not the international airport which might suggest he was fleeing, but at Reagan to fly down to, I think, Memphis to do a TV show with Mike Huckabee.
They show up like gangbusters at Reagan Airport, and they put handcuffs on him and leg cuffs on him for two misdemeanors. I practiced law in this community for many years as a criminal defense attorney— nobody gets that from a misdemeanor. Nobody even gets time from a misdemeanor.
… Why did they do that overkill? And that’s the problem, is that they should have first tried to get [Navarro] at his house and see if he’d volunteer. I mean, these are misdemeanors. These are not felonies. This is not armed robbery.
But when you have high-profile people like Peter Navarro treated like that, people begin to think that it’s the entire FBI. That is not true. That is some people, some decisions, but it’s not the entire FBI. Like I said, I work with some really good, smart FBI people who are devoted to protecting and helping us.
Renck: I want to shift topics a little bit to the China threat. A little over two weeks ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. There’s also a group of five US lawmakers that arrived in Taiwan over the weekend. Between Speaker Pelosi’s visit and this new group of lawmakers who were in Taiwan, we’ve seen China really ramp up their aggression toward Taiwan. First and foremost, what is your number one concern regarding the Chinese Communist Party?
Van Susteren: War. … This was not a deliberate thing, but they had a shutdown in Shanghai recently because of COVID. And it created in this country, I don’t know if you were aware of it, but they created a shortage of the CT scan contrast dye.
There were hospitals that were short of the contrast dye and had to figure out which CT scans they were going to do and which ones they weren’t. Now, if you have a stroke, you need one right away and you need that dye. If you need a stent, you need one right away. Some of the other CT scans, you don’t need, and they were delayed.
But the mere fact that all the contrast dye, or most of it, is made by an American company in Shanghai [means] that if they cut off our supply, if they cut off that that production … it hurts every single American in this country who might face a health crisis.
So, yes, I worry about war. But I worry about the economic implications because we have gotten so overly dependent on China for things that we don’t even realize. I mean, contrast dye, you’d think you can walk into a hospital and get a CT scan. Well, maybe there isn’t enough dye.
And what’s even more shocking—I did a story on this which is why I know this—is that most people weren’t even paying attention. You’ll have to Google this to find out this story. This one got buried. But I talked to doctors at hospitals and I said, “Yeah, we see a shortage of this because they have had to shut down Shanghai because of COVID.”
Here’s another problem. This is another thing that is stunning to me, is that everybody knows that fentanyl is poisoning and killing people in streets all across the country. And China’s one of the major suppliers through Mexico of the components for fentanyl. They’re just poisonous. It’s endless.
So I don’t know what I fear the most with China. I suppose I fear war less because it seems somewhat contained, but when you start destroying the economy and our health through fentanyl and not having CT scan contrast dye, that’s the kind [of thing] that we don’t even notice until it’s right upon us, and we’re not equipped to deal.
At least in the military sense, we have fighter planes and naval ships. But if we don’t have any contrast dye for CT scans, we’re in trouble. If we don’t have semiconductors coming out of Taiwan, because we don’t make them here in the United States, we’re in trouble. Your toaster won’t even work.
Renck: It’s absolutely frightening. It’s really eye opening, I think, coming off of two and a half years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and just realizing how reliant we have been on China for so many years. And whether or not that will change, that’s yet to be seen.
Van Susteren: But it won’t because I mean, look, it’s top to bottom. Look at Hollywood. Hollywood will do a movie that totally trashes the United States and has complete protection in the First Amendment. And I support their ability to do that. I’m a big proponent of the First Amendment. They make blockbuster dollars here in the United States doing it, but that’s OK.
The minute they do a movie in China where there’s a huge amount of money for movies, they have to get the Communist Party to agree, and they will make adjustments to the movies so it doesn’t insult China, so that they can sell their movies overseas there. I mean, it’s just this sense of greed and wanting that extra dollar and [being] willing to sacrifice our values no matter what. It’s not just one person. It’s not just one political party.
Renck: What are your thoughts on President Biden and his administration, their handling of this potential crisis that could happen in Taiwan and their attitude toward China?
Van Susteren: When you talk about questions of war, you don’t know if it’s handled right until it’s over. That’s the problem. Speaker Pelosi poked a stick in the eye of President Xi [Jinping] of China by going there. On the one hand, you could say that it shows great strength and great courage, and that we stand with Taiwan. Republicans and Democrats both here in the United States supported her. Although President Biden didn’t want her to do it at first, they supported her.
But now we’ve got another group going. Is that the right thing to do? I don’t know, but I will tell you that my gut reaction [is that] I don’t think you should poke a stick in Xi’s eye because I’d rather have him inside the tent than outside the tent. And I don’t think we should put him in a position where he’s humiliated with their country.
When Pelosi announced the trip, [the Chinese] said that first they were going to shoot flares, then they were going to do maneuvers to try to get her plane off course, and then they were going to shoot her down. Well, they didn’t do any of those things. So once she went there, was there, [she] did her trip, got safely out of there.
Now what’s happened is we’ve humiliated President Xi. He looks weak in his own country. He’s trying to hang on to power in his country. And right now, it looks like he’s weak vis-à-vis the United States.
Now, with someone whose finger is on the nuclear bomb over there and with someone who’s got all that economic power, does it really make sense to poke him in the eye and humiliate him? I think no.
A lot of people, Republicans and Democrats, think it’s better to show strength. I think we show strength through stopping being so economically dependent on letting him live his own life. But that was a decision that was made by many people. I don’t think we’ll know if it was the right decision or whether I’m right until five years from now.
Renck: Finally, Greta, are there any important points that you think are being missed in the media coverage of the China threat that Americans should keep in mind going forward?
Van Susteren: I think there’s not enough coverage. If you’ve watched my show since we launched … I’ve done a China segment every single night. I’ve even had the foreign minister of Taiwan on my show. I’m hoping to put the spotlight on it. I don’t know what everybody else is doing because I’m so consumed.
Especially with a new show, you’re really busy, you just don’t have time to watch the other shows. The only thing I see is during time when I sort of thumb through Twitter, when I see what’s going on Twitter. I don’t know what others are doing, and it’s not because I’m trying to act like I don’t watch other TV shows. It’s only because I don’t have the time. These are all my friends. I’ve been in every network, so these are my friends. I just don’t have the time. I’m so consumed with trying to get my show up and running.
Renck: Greta, thank you so much for joining us today. It was such a pleasure to have you on. I just want to make sure our audience is aware that your show is on Newsmax TV weekdays at 6 p.m., “The Record with Greta Van Susteren.”
Van Susteren: I hope people watch it because I think, if nothing else, I want people to say it’s fair, factual, informative, never perfect. But I’m always striving to get it right. That’s my goal, is to try to get it right.
Renck: Absolutely. Thank you so much.
Susteren: Thank you.
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