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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Biden Condemns Sickening Attacks On FBI Following Mar-a-Lago Search And Slams GOP Over January 6; Midnight Deadline For Justice Department To File Response To Trump's Request For Special Master; Trump Lashes Out On Social Media With More Than 60 Posts Over 12 Hours; Mikhail Gorbachev, Last President Of The Soviet, Dead At 91; Water Treatment Plant Fails In Jackson, MS Leaving City Without Clean Drinking Water; Machine Gun Conversion Devices Spreading Across U.S.; Pakistan Floods Death Toll Increases To At Least 1,162 And 3,544 Injured. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 30, 2022 - 20:00   ET


EASTON OLIVERSON, LITTLE LEAGUE PLAYER: Hi, everyone. This is Easton. Thank you for all of your prayers. Please keep praying for me as I continue to give better.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: So glad he is getting better. He still has a long road ahead, but Easton is now back home in his home state of Utah after making strides in his recovery.

We will keep you posted.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. AC 360 starts now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Just days after dropping the F-bomb on some supporters of the former President, F for fascism or semi-fascism to use this exact phrase, President Biden now has sharp words for Republican lawmakers on a traditionally Republican issue: Law and order.

John Berman here, in for Anderson.

He is calling them out just days after one of those lawmakers, South Carolina Senator, Lindsey Graham predicted street rioting if the former President is charged in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. His remarks also follow a string of verbal attacks on the FBI by Congress members and especially the former President.

In addition, they come just two days before what the White House says will be a primetime presidential address on the soul of the nation. And if that weren't enough, his new tough talk comes just as the documents case is about to take another turn with the Justice Department about to file new Court papers tonight, aiming to block attempts by the former President to slow it down or stymie it.

That is the backdrop to what President Biden said today in Northeastern Pennsylvania.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress, don't tell me you support law enforcement if you won't condemn what happened on the 6th. Don't tell me -- can't do it. For God's sake, whose side are you on? Whose side are you on?


BERMAN: Meantime, on his social media outlet, the former President today launched one post after another about the 2020 election, which he now says should be rerun and the FBI.

Now without specifically leveling blame, President Biden today spoke out against the climate of fear and intimidation the former President is making no effort to change.


BIDEN: Now, it is sickening to see the new attacks on the FBI, threatening the life of law enforcement agents and their families for simply carrying out the law and doing their job.

Look, I want to say it as clear as I can: There is no place in this country -- no place -- where we are endangering the lives of law enforcement. No place. None. Never. Period.


BERMAN: Again, this comes just hours before a big moment in the Mar- a-Lago search and just two days before a speech to the nation, presumably about some of what you've just heard. We'll talk about it all tonight.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins starts us off from the White House. You know, Kaitlan, the President went to Pennsylvania, clearly, to talk about law enforcement, clearly to talk about the FBI. What can you tell us?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And he went there when it came to these attacks on the FBI. We have not seen him, John, be this forceful yet since we've seen those attacks and the threats against FBI spike ever since that search of Mar-a-Lago happened several weeks ago.

And you know, the threats had been so high and they had jumped up so much that even the FBI Director, Chris Wray, who doesn't speak out all that often put out a statement calling them deplorable, calling these threats dangerous to the rank and file members of the FBI who were just doing their job that day by executing this search warrant and going to retrieve those sensitive materials.

And so, President Biden tonight calling it sickening, going after that small but vocal group of Republicans who have said that they should defund the FBI, saying obviously he does not support that and like with him saying he also doesn't support defunding the police.

But a notable comment from President Biden coming out and being so forceful in condemning these attacks on the FBI and other of the nation's top law enforcement agents.

BERMAN: Yes, it was notable. We really hadn't heard this from him yet. And he also seemed to make an oblique reference to Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham. Kaitlan, what was the thinking about that?

COLLINS: Yes. He didn't name him, but it was pretty clear who he was talking about, because there were these comments on Sunday that Senator Lindsey Graham made basically saying that if Trump is prosecuted for taking this material to Mar-a-Lago when he left office, and he wasn't supposed to, but Hillary Clinton was not prosecuted when she used a private e-mail server, when she was -- for her communications when she was Secretary of State, Lindsey Graham predicted there would be riots in the streets because of it.

And President Biden referenced it today talking about senior senators going on television talking about what the reaction would be. He talked about blood in the streets. Lindsey Graham's actual words were "riots in the streets if that happened." I should note that Senator Graham's spokesman later said he wasn't making a threat, he was making a prediction and Graham also said he wasn't calling for violence and doesn't advocate for it.


But Senator Graham's comments did get the attention of President Biden and he called him out. He was very critical of him tonight, even if he did not actually name Senator Graham.

BERMAN: And it is notable, again, that he is doing this really for the first time in this way tonight, and that we learned that on Thursday, he is giving a primetime address to the nation on the subject of the soul of the nation. So Kaitlan, what do we expect there?

COLLINS: Yes. He is making three trips to Pennsylvania, that one today, he has got a second on Thursday and another one next week. It also comes as former President Trump is going to Pennsylvania himself on Saturday.

But on Thursday, we're told that what you're going to hear from President Biden is a lot of what you heard from him on the campaign trail back in 2020 when he talked about running for the soul of America, basically saying there is this threat to democracy and that is why he wanted to take office and felt like he needed to run for office to help in that battle.

Something that he clearly made clear today, it is something that he still thinks is a threat, it is still very much happening. And so the White House has said, we should expect him to talk about that on Thursday, and to be forceful. Of course, that comes after he was incredibly forceful today in Pennsylvania. So, we'll just see how much he changes that rhetoric. But John, certainly, a preview of what you should expect to hear from

President Biden, we are told, on the campaign trail with these 10 weeks to go before the midterm election.

BERMAN: And he seems to be putting his shoulder into this now.

Kaitlan, always great to see you. Thank you very much.

More now on what the Justice Department will have to say to a Florida Federal Judge tonight. The DOJ has until midnight to file its response to the former President's bid for a Special Master to oversee the FBI's review of material seized at Mar-a-Lago.

One thing we already know, whatever is being said cannot be said in 20 pages or less. Details now from CNN's Sara Murray, who has been covering the story from beginning and joins us now.

Sara, what do we expect to be in this filing?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, as you pointed out, we're still waiting around for it. You know, maybe it'll be here around 11:59. Normally, these filings are about 20 pages, the Justice Department has made clear they want more room, they want up to 40 pages, and they want to address some of what they said were the legal and factual issues that were in the Trump team's filing.

So essentially, they are looking for more runway in order to set the record straight. You know, one of the points that sticks out from the Trump filings is the Trump team is sort of making the argument that the former President was very cooperative, you know, essentially that this was an unnecessary move by the Justice Department.

Obviously, as we've sort of seen how these steps played out, we've learned that, you know, the President -- former President wasn't exactly cooperative. We would expect that that is one of the things that the Justice Department is going to address in their filing.

But again, as we said, we are waiting to see this and even after we get through all of this tonight, we still won't have an answer to the question of will there be a special master in this case? There is going to be a hearing on this issue on Thursday -- John.

BERMAN: So, we also learned today, Sara, that the former President has added a new attorney to his legal team, someone who was the Solicitor General of Florida at one point. What more can you tell us about this hire and what it means for the President's legal strategy?

MURRAY: That's right. So this is Christopher Kise, who is now joining the Trump legal team. We expect him to be representing the former President in court on Thursday. This is someone as you said, who is the former Florida Solicitor General. This isn't someone who has argued cases before the Supreme Court.

He worked with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, on his transition, and he had been working for a decade plus at the law firm, Foley & Lardner although he has now left that firm, but essentially, this is someone who has a good reputation, who is seen as a respected lawyer, who knows the Florida courts, which is very important because that is where this legal battle is playing out.

And frankly, it is someone who is coming to the game a little bit late. The Trump team has been looking for a lawyer for weeks to add to their ranks. And so, this is someone that, you know, they are really hoping is going to bring in the kind of expertise, the kind of gravitas and the kind of knowledge of the local Courts to the Trump team in order to represent the former President.

BERMAN: It is late, right? I mean, it's weeks after the search itself, and there were questions about why the team waited so long to file this request for the Special Master.

You know, is there a sense that this new attorney will be able to bring some order to it all?

MURRAY: Yes, you know, I think there has been a lot of unease among Donald Trump's own allies that this was still being sort of considered a PR problem.

You know, we've seen the former President out there. He has been posting on social media. He has essentially been complaining. He has been sharing what he wants to happen. But they weren't sharing a lot of that in Court. They were just sharing it on social media. That is not how these things work, John.

You know, if you want a Special Master, if you want to take issue with how the Justice Department is conducting itself, you go before a Judge, you put that in the record, and so it is late in the game, and we've seen that. You know, we've seen the Justice Department say essentially, we've already begun looking through this stuff. We've already been identifying privileged materials.

So, there is a hope, I think from the Trump team that they can play a little bit of catch up. We will see how the Judge responds to that, but I certainly think it is a little bit of a sigh of relief for those around the former President that he is now able to bring in a lawyer who again is familiar with these Courts, is familiar how this system works.


BERMAN: Sara Murray, you have a long night ahead of you. Grab a snack. Thanks so much for being with us.

I want to bring in CNN contributor, John Dean, who served as White House Counsel in the Nixon administration during Watergate; also CNN counterterrorism analyst and former FBI senior intelligence adviser, Phil Mudd.

John, I want to start with you. You know, what are you looking for in this Justice Department filing, especially since they asked for 40 pages instead of the 20 they were initially granted. It seems like they have something they want to say. JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they made it very clear in the

motion to the Court requesting the additional space that they felt that they had to address the facts that were not properly laid out in the Trump brief and the law was not properly laid out. And that certainly is true. And so I can understand why they wanted to go after that.

I think what they're going to do is put together a very compelling knockdown of some of the cooperation claims that Trump has made by laying out the scenario as it unfolded and they can do that now with what they could do only under seal for this Special Master. I mean, excuse me, for the Magistrate Judge to get the probable cause, they can now do that in lay language and broadly explain why they had to do what they did.

And I think the other thing they want to do is knock down the idea that there is an executive privilege here. There is none under the law. It is a fantasy that Trump doesn't seem to understand that you can't invoke executive privilege against the executive and that is what he's trying to do here.

And Biden has the final word. Trump is no longer President, and they're going to straighten the law out on that.

BERMAN: You know, whatever it is, it'll be the most we have heard from DOJ since the search itself. Everything that's been released to this point was actually in advance of the search, the search warrant, the affidavit, things that were prepared before. This is a chance now to respond to what's been in public.

Phil, there is also this government review process going on right now of the documents that were seized at Mar-a-Lago, one by the FBI that began in May and the other by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. What are each of these reviews trying to determine and how could they affect the investigation?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think there are two pieces of this. I could talk to you about what they are determining, but I think this is a political process. It's not a national security or intelligence process.

The FBI is looking at a legal case. That case involves whether somebody had information that was inappropriate to keep. That's a legal question, obviously.

The CIA and the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security agency are looking at a separate question, not the law, but what information was held at Mar-a-Lago? How sensitive was that information? And how costly would it be for that information to be revealed?

To cut to the chase, I think most of that to be blunt is irrelevant. I think the important question is what the former President will do with this, and I think both sides win.

The Democrats are going to say after the damage assessment that the information the former President held was hugely sensitive, and it would have been hugely costly had it been revealed, and the Republicans are going to stay there's no evidence that any of this was ever revealed. So therefore, why were you in such a rush to go to Mar- a-Lago?

I think this ends up, John, as a political story, not a security story.

BERMAN: You mean just the review of it all.

MUDD: Yes, yes.

BERMAN: Understood.

So, John, now that the former President has added an attorney to his legal team, Christopher Kise, do you expect or what do you expect to see different in their legal strategy? Perhaps more coherent?

DEAN: I don't know. He's got a reputation as a good lawyer. He has won some big cases in front of the US Supreme Court and the Florida Court. What I couldn't find in looking at his background, that he had any understanding of national security law, and it's kind of an esoteric body of law. I don't see him having any sort of Washington- based experience to understand how the Intelligence Community operates.

So, I think that he is going to be learning at first and trying to understand it. I don't know if he understands the concept of executive privilege, which is pretty -- you know, it's not really comprehensible to most non-Washington lawyers at first, then they get it. So, I think he's got a learning curve, but I think he's a good lawyer.

BERMAN: Phil, I want to ask you finally about, we heard President Biden tonight, speaking out strongly against the attempts of violence against the FBI, which we've already seen; one, it was almost deadly.

And then the comments that had been made about the FBI and then on top of that, Senator Lindsey Graham's comments that he thinks there will be violence in the streets if the former President is indicted.

First off, what do you think of Lindsey Graham's comments? And how do you think the FBI is reacting behind the scenes?

MUDD: Let me hesitate a moment, John. My mom is not with us, she would have washed my mouth out with soap. Lindsey Graham is a good guy, he is a funny guy in the greenroom.


I've spent a lot of time with him. He's an engaging guy.

But in my world of extremism, let me cut to the chase, people who want to commit an act of violence don't need to be told to commit an act of violence. They need to be told that their anger is validated and that their anger is appropriate. Senator Graham validated people who believe that violence against the

system is appropriate. He's going to apologize, he's going to say that nobody ever told anybody including him to commit an act of violence.

But I followed extremism for 35 years, an 18-year-old, a 20-year-old, a 30-year-old is going to look to him and say, he just told me that it is appropriate to be angry about Mar-a-Lago and I will do something.

My mom would say, wash his mouth out with soap. He's not a bad man. That's a horrible mistake. Never do it again.

BERMAN: Thank you, Phil Mudd to you and your mom; John Dean, as always, thanks to you as well.

Next, what our political professionals have to say about this moment, including the former President's recent online outburst against the FBI and Justice Department.

Later, and it is rare to be able to say this about anyone, we will remember someone who literally changed the world. Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union.



BERMAN: More than 60 social media postings in 12 hours and not a Happy Birthday in the bunch, although one of those items, the former President put out there was simply a post asking: "Why are people so mean?" Most, however, attacked the Justice Department, the FBI, perpetuated false claims about the 2020 election. And like that, which is what some in his party are now saying that they do not like that.

The question though is what will they do about it?

Joining us, CNN political commentator and former South Carolina democratic state legislator, Bakari Sellers; and Charlie Dent, CNN political commentator, a former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman.

I'm going to start with you, Congressman Dent. This 12-plus hour Trump tirade on Truth Social, going after the FBI, talking about rerunning the election. This is not what we're hearing a lot of Republicans would like to be focused on. Is he draining the energy? How much of a problem is this for Republicans heading into the midterms?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, John, this is an enormous problem for Republicans. They want Donald Trump to simply shut up and go into hiding between now and the midterm. They want the midterm to be about Joe Biden and the Democrats. They want it to be about inflation and crime and border security.

So, to the extent that Donald Trump is making noises about the 2020 election, calling for a redo of the 2020 election, you know, intervening in primaries and nominating -- helping to nominate candidates who are either unfit or too extreme, he is doing enormous damage. This election, you want it to be a referendum on the Democrats, not a

choice between the Democrats and Donald Trump, who is probably more unpopular than Joe Biden at this point. So, this is an enormous problem.

And there is no controlling Donald Trump, he will not go into hiding, he will continue to do what he does. You know, he just simply seems to be, you know, angst and unhinged and his, you know, and unhealthily obsessed with 2020.

BERMAN: So Bakari, what about the Democrats? What do they do about this? Is this why we heard President Biden give the speech he did today, where he talked about the attacks on the FBI? He seemed to refer to Lindsey Graham. Is this why he is giving the speech Thursday night about the soul of the nation?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I think the Democrats have to show contrast, we have to show that we're fighting. And we have to show a contrast with Joe Biden has been doing very well, coming off some legislative victories, including the Inflation Reduction Act, and many, many more over the past two or three weeks.

And Donald Trump is making it quite easy. I mean, to Congressman Dent's point, this isn't a message about the future of a Republican vision versus what Joe Biden will give you the next two years or the next four years. This is a real litigation of Donald Trump versus Joe Biden.

Democrats feel extremely confident that we win that battle every chance we get. The problem that Republicans have and I want to be clear in the way we articulate it because even senators from my Great State of South Carolina, like Lindsey Graham, just completely trip and fall over themselves when it comes to this particular issue is they want MAGA without Donald Trump and that is fundamentally impossible.

They want all of those individuals who embrace election denying, who embrace xenophobia, who embrace bigotry to come out to the polls, without Donald Trump, and they have not figured out how to slice that yet. And so many times they tie themselves into pretzels, trying to get those voters and end up looking stupid.

BERMAN: What about that, Charlie? Can Republicans have MAGA? Can they have the political benefits of Donald Trump without him? And I asked that because conservative commentators, including Ben Shapiro and Ann Coulter, people you wouldn't necessarily expect are starting to split from Trump and say, "Hey, we've got to do this without him."

DENT: Well, I think Bakari has made a fair point that, you know, we talk too much about Donald Trump and not enough about Trumpism. And what does that mean? I happen to be of the school that Trumpism is a problem long term for the Republican Party. The nativism, protectionism, the isolationism, the nihilism. They are just some of the unilateralism.

There are all sorts of things that are problematic with this view of the world. The embrace of autocrats and Putin in particular. The trade policies.

I mean, I go on and on about those policies. I think Republicans need to come to grips with this, that some of the things that they say they like about Trump, they would have gotten from any Republican President.

It's these other things that I just mentioned that I think will limit the growth of the Republican Party going forward. So yes, you can get rid of Trump, but we're going to have to have this debate about Trumpism and see whether that's a viable and sustainable path forward for the party for years to come.


BERMAN: So Bakari, what do you think in general of President Biden's law and order speech today? Giving a speech where he talks about Democratic support of the police and the FBI? Is that something you expect that we'll hear more in the next 10 weeks?

SELLERS: Yes, I mean, I'm torn, because I believe that it is the right politics of the moment, not Twitter politics, but they are the right politics of voters throughout the country, because we know that crime is something that is affecting all of our communities.

We know that people want the streets to be clean. We want to have a very holistic approach to the way that we reform our criminal justice system in the country. Where I differ with the President is that I believe his view is a bit antiquated and outdated.

We're not talking about putting 100,000 more cops in the street. What we want to see though are after-school programs, what we want to see our free and reduced lunch programs expanded, what we want to see as early childhood education, what we want to see is people with jobs.

We want to build the community up and do these things that are crime prevention within our communities that don't simply mean that we're going to over police communities, many of which are Black and Brown.

And so, it is a very difficult nuanced argument, but I'm glad Joe Biden is at least on the forefront, saying that he supports something.

The antithesis to that is the Republican Party who say, like Marsha Blackburn, you know, we support the blue, but then you have people talking about defund the FBI.

I mean, the Republican Party simply is confused, while at least we're having some articulate debates about the way that we police our communities in this country.

BERMAN: Bakari Sellers and Charlie Dent, our thanks to both of you.

DENT: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Next, what Mikhail Gorbachev's role is in ushering out the Soviet Union, what it meant to the world and what his passing says tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BERMAN: To anyone not alive at the peak of the Cold War, it is almost unimaginable how different Mikhail Gorbachev was from anyone else who had managed to rise to the top of the old Soviet Union. One after the other through the '60s, '70s and early '80s, a parade of grim gray and often dying old men who, despite their feebleness could terrify the world because they had absolute control over the country, over the KGB, half of Europe, including half of Germany and a nuclear arsenal.

Mikhail Gorbachev who died today at age 91 was still a Soviet leader, but a very different one when he arrived on the scene. The world noticed and as he instituted reforms at home, the Soviet Union of the world took a step back from the Cold War. Gorbachev was the USSR's final leader, he helped birth a new Russia, he leaves at a moment when it and the early hopes for it, though, are all but buried.

Perspective now from CNN national security analyst, Steve Hall, former chief of Russia operations at the CIA. Also with us former CNN Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty. She's currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown, and a global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

And Jill, I want to start with you because, you know, you worked in Moscow for a long time. Set the stage for us a bit, how do you quantify the influence of someone like Mikhail Gorbachev who didn't just change the course of a country, but change the course of the world?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. And I think you have to look at it from both of those perspectives, you know, internally in Russia, and I was there at the time, and I remember that very well. This feeling of, you know, freedom and hope that people had. And it was really like breathing free, that people have after that long period of more than 70 years of communism, and then internationally, Gorbachev is really the person who decided to take the leap, and begin to build down, get rid of nuclear weapons, which really changed the world. Unfortunately, we're kind of back to the same problem now. But it did change the world.

And I think both of those, plus the fact that he was not only a leader, but he was personally a very charismatic person who pulled together west and east in an incredible way.

BERMAN: He was just different than anything that at that time the Soviet Union or the world had seen before from their leaders. You know, Steve, you served in Moscow, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. What was the sentiment toward Gorbachev in those days and the early days of post-Soviet Russia?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's really interesting, John, because I think as much as the West has a tendency to think very positively of Gorbachev, for the most part, the great irony is that most Russians think very poorly of them to include Vladimir Putin. I think when you look at sort of the record of perhaps reform is too strong of a word. I don't know. But I think it's worth asking why. And when you look at Gorbachev, he really had no choice. The Soviet Union was coming apart, he knew something had to change. And I think if you ask Gorbachev, do you want to become a liberal democracy? The answer would have been no, he wanted to maintain the Soviet Union. He just wanted to make it look different. If he had had the opportunity, I think to leave the Soviet Union, as it was in not have to worry about the economics and the social problems. I think he would have done that.

Look what's happened recently. I mean, he was very supportive of the annexation of Crimea. And he, if you ask the Baltic states how it went in the early '90s, I mean, he rolled tanks into the Baltic states, and you know, there were deaths of protesters under Gorbachev's rule. So, there is this really mixed legacy, I think that we're going to have with regard to Gorbachev and I think historians are going to be talking about it for a long time, John.

BERMAN: And yet Jill in the West. He was perceived as someone who was necessary, maybe not just necessary, but central to many of the changes that ended up happening in a way allowing for not intervening when Eastern European countries tried to democratize. I mean, that could have been vastly different if he had gone through with the Brezhnev Doctrine and marched Soviet troops into there, that would have been a very real possibility 10 years before.

DOUGHERTY: Absolutely. And as some people have said, you know, he did not do Tiananmen Square, and he had a choice. I mean, I personally think that, you know, his personal decision, really did change history, that there could've been somebody, kind of like the people I remember covering every month somebody was dying who was a leader of the Soviet Union and here comes vigorous Gorbachev and his personality, his view of the world really did change it.


I don't think we can make a saint out of him. I mean, you know, Steve is mentioning things, here's Chernobyl too. And that was really mishandled in the beginning by Gorbachev. But overall, I think you'd have to say, I've been looking at some of the responses, you know, coming out of Russia right now, people who are more Western, of course, are saying they're very sorry, there was a lot of hope from that period. The communists and people who are nationalists are saying, traitor, you know, this was the guy who created the world that we're fighting in Ukraine right now. And then others, you know, kind of bring up more moderated views about it. But I think even the liberals, some liberals think he didn't go far enough.

So, not only Americans and, you know, and Russians, but Russians among themselves don't always agree.

BERMAN: And Steve very quickly, and Vladimir Putin is trying to reverse so much of what Gorbachev was involved in doing.

HALL: Yes, I mean, it's amazing. You know, Putin obviously just wants -- he wants empire. He wants it there, there to be a great Russia. I'm not sure that Gorbachev would disagree with him that much. But I think there would be a disagreement in terms of the methodologies between the two men.

BERMAN: Right, I mean, but it was under Gorbachev where the republics broke off, and it does seem that Vladimir Putin is in some ways, trying to claw them back piece by piece.

You know, Steve Hall, Jill Dougherty. It is history. It is remarkable just to think about how quickly things change with him and how long ago it was now, thanks to both of you.

HALL: Sure.

BERMAN: As Mississippi's capital city Jackson battles major flooding, it is causing a new problem a lack of water for the city's nearly 200,000 residents. We have a live report from the flood zone, next.



BERMAN: Record setting rain in the Pearl River cresting, wreaking havoc and Mississippi's capital as the streets flood. And there's a series of other issues including a lack of water. According to the governor, Jackson's water system is failing due to issues at the Maine water treatment facility. This means in the city of 180,000 people, they can't fight fires, flush toilets, take showers, or brush their teeth. People are being forced to line up as the State National Guard distribute water to residents and there are problems there as well.

With me now from Jackson, CNN national correspondent Ryan Young. Ryan, this is such a bad situation. What's the latest?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, the only way I can equate this it almost feels like we're in a hurricane aftermath when you see people in line for hours. In fact, that one distribution site today, people were waiting for three hours in the heat 91 degrees, waiting for water. And then when they finally got to the front, they were only getting one container in terms of 24 individual water bottles to leave with. We talked to one woman who was exasperated by this she goes, how long is this going to last me you can understand it. We even watched one older senior citizen pretty much fall out at the site because it was so hot.

So you understand the pain here when it comes to everything that is going on. They want answers. But right now no one has a clear cut answer for when the water is going to get turned back on.

BERMAN: And this has been something of a slow motion disaster, Ryan. I mean, yes, there's weather issues that they're having right now. But they've known that their water system is antiquated and in serious trouble.

YOUNG: John, that is excellent point, you think about this, when we get a hurricane warning or get a tornado warning, you only have seconds to act. They've known about this for years. In fact, we were here in March. And we were at someone's house when they were collecting rain water to flush their toilets. We talked to so many people today who were completely frustrated about the idea that now when they turn the tap on, not only do they not trust the water, but sometimes they don't even give water. One family told us they were washing their kids in the brown water that was coming out because they thought as long as they kept it from the neck down, they would be OK. But that's something that you never expect an American city, the idea that water, electricity wouldn't be hand in hand. So many frustration points here.

In fact, take a listen to a resident who waited so long today not only to pass out water, but to see the frustrations of fellow residents.


DANYELLE HOLMES, VOLUNTEER ORGANIZER: We're very angry, and we want to just name it out in our state government. Right, and their failure to come in and assist the city of Jackson with this infrastructure water crisis, the extreme racist politics that have been played that have impacted over 175,000 residents here in the city of Jackson, you know, we can no longer stand for the ignorance to continue here in the state of Mississippi.


YOUNG: Joe, when you think about this, and we talk a lot about infrastructure in this country, the roads here are not great. Now you're dealing with a water issue. It's the city versus the state. This is the capital city. And at some point, you think the lawmakers would get together and have a conversation about this. They actually have dueling press conferences. You have the mayor on one side, you have the governor on the other side. And the residents are sort of stuck in the middle. They want answers. And of course as you can imagine, we were even told at the Statehouse today, there was no water there as well.

But if you're a resident and you're home tonight and you try to brush your teeth, you're having to do that with bottled water. And people say that should not fly and at the end of the day here, we have no clue for when this is going to get fixed. John.

BERMAN: It shouldn't fly. Ryan Young, it's a real issue. We're glad you're there.

Coming up, as President Biden calls for more action against gun violence, small devices like these are popping up all around the country and they're turning ordinary handguns into weapons of war and just seconds. CNN's Drew Griffin has the details next.



BERMAN: During President Biden speech in Pennsylvania this afternoon, he criticized the NRA and Republicans who oppose gun safety legislation that he signed into law and renew his call for an assault weapons ban.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: You know, we're living in a country of awash with weapons of war. Weapons that weren't designed to hunt, are designed to take on an enemy.

I'm determined to ban assault weapons in this country. Determined. I did it once before and I'll do it again.


BERMAN: That is the President's message as he unveiled his safe America Plan today, which he says will reduce gun violence and support police. One troubling trend are machine gun conversion devices, they transform handguns into automatic weapons with just one small device.

And a new CNN exclusive CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin looks into just how dangerous they can be. This is his report.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are the size of a Lego come in colors of the rainbow and in seconds can turn America's most popular handgun from firing like this, to this.

(on-camera): Whoa.

(voice-over): This is the gun range of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, where an undercover agent shows how a tiny device called an auto sear can turn almost any gun into a machine gun.

(on-camera): Holly molly.

(voice-over): This is Houston, were a team of police officers tried to serve a warrant, body cameras on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deon, you need to step out, it's Houston Police.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Thirty years experience conducting 2,500 previous major offender arrests couldn't help a cop named Bill Jeffrey.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deon, its Houston police let's do this.



GRIFFIN (on-camera): Your father didn't stand a chance.

LACIE JEFFREY, DAUGTHER OF FALLEN HOUSTON POLICE OFFICER: No. He was completely blindsided and there is nothing that any of them could have done to change the outcome. Everything was done the way it was supposed to. But this, this guy ambushed them.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): What the officers couldn't see was the multi convicted felon hiding in a dark apartment, holding a pistol that was turned into a weapon of war. In seconds, he fired 30 rounds. Officer Jeffrey died. A police sergeant also hit crawled for safety and survived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Searg, are you good, your good?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm hit, I'm hit.


GRIFFIN (on-camera): What was your reaction when you found out what this criminal had in his hands?

JEFFREY: Disgust, disbelief, anger. We do not live in a war zone. There is no need for us to have these automatic weapons on the streets of Houston anywhere in the United States.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): But there is demand, cheap illegal pieces first imported from China were being sold easily over the internet. When ATF and customs crackdown, smuggling began across the southern border.

Now thanks to cheap 3D printers like this, and how to demonstrations on YouTube, making machine guns is a simple do it yourself project says Earl Griffith of ATF.

EARL GRIFFITH, CHIEF, ATF FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION TECHNOLOGY DIVISION: I'm not computer savvy. But why that guy says it's easy. Watch this YouTube, watch YouTube in a matter of 15 minutes, I was able to do it myself first time.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): He's not kidding. We searched YouTube and found this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's up YouTube, it's Auki (ph) here.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): A how to demonstration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you get it pretty printed --

GRIFFIN (voice-over): That was still up on YouTube's platform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bada bing, bada boom, that is how you install and remove, a Glock auto sear.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And getting hundreds of thousands of views even though bada bing, bada boom as he says. The guy was arrested by ATF months earlier charged with possessing, making and transferring machine guns. He's pleaded not guilty. YouTube took the videos down right after we asked about them.

Call them auto sears, switches whatever, they are everywhere and spreading. The ATF sees 1,500 machine gun conversion devices last year. That is five times as many as the year before. Griffith says police departments across the country have confiscated modified machine guns but many don't even know it.

GRIFFITH: A lot of them have never seen some of these devices like laying here.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Right.

GRIFFITH: And when we tell them about they go back into their evidence vault and they lock in check and they find this stuff.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): More and more, this stuff is being found in the slaughter it leaves in its wake. This January, three more Houston officers were fired upon all three wounded when a career criminal opened fire with a machine gun style pistol. When they arrested him --


GRIFFIN (voice-over): -- they found more machine gun parts and 3D printers. In Sacramento this April, a massacre on the city's downtown streets. Six dead, a dozen injured, one of the guns in the shootout according to police had an auto sear or switch to make it fully automatic.

(on-camera): All of these in the last four hours (ph).

TOM CHITTUM, VICE PRESIDENT OF ANALYTICS, SHOTSPOTTER: Nine rounds, 10 rounds, fifth, 18 rounds, 27 rounds.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Tom that's like Tuesday, Tuesday in America. We're having this?

CHITTUM: You should come here on the weekend.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): This is ShotSpotter. It locates gunfire for police by listening to a network of microphones across American cities. And more and more those microphones are picking up automatic fire the rate of fire.

CHITTUM: The number of rounds being fired in only a few seconds is very serious. Innocent bystanders are being hit by rounds that weren't intended for them.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Since 2019, the incidence of automatic gunfire picked up by ShotSpotter have increased from roughly 400 to 5,600 just last year. Just spend a few moments at Kaylin Parker's monitoring station. And you can hear the habit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So all of these ones that I'm showing you here are full automatic incidents starting from at least three rounds going all the way up into 30 rounds.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Thirty rounds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thirty rounds here in Baltimore, Maryland.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): In Baltimore. This was sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes sir. This was 4:00 p.m. yesterday.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): When you sit here and listen to this and realize what's going out on the streets, what are you thinking?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't believe until you hear it? And it's just sad. Unfortunately with a lot of these shootings, there was a victim behind these.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In fact, those sounds you heard from Baltimore, were bullets hitting two people, including a 14-year-old boy.

Back in Texas Lacie Jeffery is trying to do something in her father's memory.


JEFFREY: So we're just trying to get lawmakers to look into this and just change 10 words, to make it to where these switches fall under a felony offense.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): She wants Texas to treat possession of these modified weapons like the federal government does as a felony.

(on-camera): What's the reception time?

JEFFREY: Nothing.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): She hasn't heard back from a single lawmaker.

(on-camera): Why do you think that is?

JEFFREY: I think that especially in Texas with the Second Amendment, people are scared to touch upon it. I don't understand why this isn't important enough. We have lost so many officers. So many civilians are even being caught in the crossfire. How many people have to be affected by these before you realize that a change needs to happen?


BERMAN: Quite a report and Drew Griffin joins us now. Drew what's driving the surge in demand for weapons like these?

GRIFFIN: You know, I guess you'd have to say John, its popularity. It started with gangs and drugs. And now people just like having these weapons that can shoot 30 rounds in just mere seconds. The problem is these are not toys obviously, you can't control these guns. And on the streets, they could just turn into bloodbath so quickly.

BERMAN: As I said, terrific report. Drew Griffin, thank you so much.

We'll be right back.



BERMAN: It's not just parts of the U.S. facing floods as we showed you earlier. Take a look at Pakistan where one-third of that country is underwater.The government now says at least 1,100 people have been killed. Across that country, millions have been forced from their homes the cause what they're calling a monster monsoon season, which still has a month left.

For more information on what you can do to help go to

The news continues. So let's hand it over to Victor Blackwell in "CNN TONIGHT." Victor.