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The Lead with Jake Tapper

FL Gov. DeSantis Releases Campaign Ad Inspired By "Top Gun"; At Least One Killed In Flooding After More Than 9 Inches Of Rain Fell On Dallas-Fort Worth Area; Extreme Drought Uncovers Long-Hidden Secrets Kept Under Water; Ukraine's Defense Minister: Intl. "Fatigue" One Of Man Threats In War; NASA Preparing To Launch New Rocket On Moon Mission; Ex-Twitter Security Chief Turns Whistleblower; N.Y. Primary Pits Two Top House Democrats Against Each Other; Florida Dems Deciding Who Will Challenge GOP Gov. DeSantis. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 23, 2022 - 17:00   ET



DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In it, Zatko claims nearly half of Twitter's employees have access to some of the platform's main critical controls.

PEITER "MUDGE" ZATKO, TWITTER WHISTLEBLOWER: There's an analogy of an airplane. So you get on an airplane and every passenger and the attendant crew all have access to the cockpit, to the controls. You know, that's entirely unnecessary. Might be easy, but there it's too easy to accidentally or intentionally turn an engine off.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): That kind of access contributed to the massive attack in the summer of 2020 when hackers, two of them teenagers tricked a couple of Twitter employees into letting them into Twitter's systems.

(on camera): If you're running any system, the more people that have access to the main switches, that's a very risky situation.

ZATKO: Yes, absolutely. I'm talking in generalities just large tech companies need to know what the risks are. And then they also need to have an appetite to go fix it.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Twitter told CNN that since the 2020 hack, it had improved these access systems and a train staff to protect themselves against hacking. Zatko also claims Twitter has been misleading about how many fake accounts and bots are on its platform. That's an issue that Elon Musk has made central to his attempt to get out of a deal to buy the company.

(on camera): There will be suspicions of the timing of this. Are you guys carrying water for Elon Musk?

JOHN TYE, FOUNDER, WHISTLEBLOWER AID: Absolutely not. We've been following the news just like everyone else, But that has nothing to do with his decisions or with the content of what was sent in.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Zatko says he was fired by Twitter in January of this year after he tried to raise the alarm internally.

TYE: This is not any kind of personal issue for him. He was eventually fired in January of this year, but he hasn't given up on trying to do that job.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): In response to allegations, Twitter told CNN, security and privacy had long been a priority on Twitter. As for Zatko, they said he, quote, "was fired from his senior executive role at Twitter more than six months ago for poor performance and leadership. He now appears to be opportunistically seeking to inflict harm on Twitter, its customers and its shareholders."

(on camera): Are you nervous?

ZATKO: Yes, yes.


O'SULLIVAN: And of course, Jake, that whole issue of bots is undoubtedly going to become a big part of that court case between Elon Musk and Twitter, which is happening in Delaware in October. But just more immediately, some news in the last few minutes from Zatko's team, the whistleblowers team, he is in Washington, D.C. this week, and he is going to be taking part in closed door briefings with teams on Capitol Hill. So he is certainly going nowhere quietly.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A huge scoop from Donnie O'Sullivan. Thank you so much for your diligent reporting.

Let's bring in Chris Cummiskey. He serves as the acting Undersecretary for Management for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate it. So this is disturbing information. This former Twitter executive accusing the company of failures that threaten national security itself.

And Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on Senate Judiciary says he has deep concerns, quote, "Take a tech platform that collect massive amounts of user data, combine it with what appears to be an incredibly weak security infrastructure and infuse it with foreign state actors with an agenda, and you've got a recipe for disaster." Do you agree? And what's the largest threat here?

CHRIS CUMMISKEY, ACTING UNDER SECRETARY FOR MANAGEMENT, DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I do agree. And when I saw CNN break, the story really would have came to mind was surprised that the environment is so unstable over their -- based on the allegations, but also alarm because it's not only problematic for users, first and foremost, because it's the privacy considerations and where that information and data goes. But it's also a problem for the company in terms of their reporting to regulators in the -- over the last 10 years, and ultimately, to democracy because, you know, people rely on this information to be accurate and on point. And based on what we're hearing, that may not be the case.

TAPPER: The whistleblower report says the federal government provided specific evidence to Twitter that at least one of its employees, perhaps more, were working for another governments intelligence agency? Well, what can you tell us about that?

CUMMISKEY: Well, when you look at the assertions that Zatko came forward with, basically what he's saying is that 1000s of Twitter employees had access to the production environment where you can make changes to the system. When you've got that kind of an environment that really lends itself to insider threat, and the opportunity for individuals to, you know, maybe take that information and sell it to other governments or, you know, take it and apply it to dissidents that maybe in other countries that are opposing the government really put some lives at risk in that scenario.

TAPPER: Do you know what foreign governments were talking about?

CUMMISKEY: Well, typically, it's authoritarian governments that, you know, or have some kind of an opposition element and your citizenry. And so I think that's really what the national security elements on the Hill and with the I.C., the intelligence community, were going to be focused on.

TAPPER: So, for people watching at home, we warned people about TikTok earlier this week, which is obviously a Chinese company originally. People at home who use Twitter, how secure is their information, if at all?

CUMMISKEY: Well, I don't think it's as secure as people would expect, because when you go on there, you're like, OK, the pillars of this are security and privacy potentially. But they really make it hard for you to advance all of the privacy, levers that you can pull. So, I think people need to go in there and take a look at the privacy elements and see what they can do to tighten that up. And then secondly, really be careful about the kind of information that you're putting forth because it is at risk and most of these platforms.


TAPPER: So let me just put it this way, we already know about the problems with Facebook --


TAPPER: -- which owns Instagram. We know about the problems with TikTok. Now we're hearing about serious problems with Twitter. Are there any social media companies where we can trust that they are actually doing everything they can to keep our information safe?

CUMMISKEY: Well, I think they're really putting a dent in public confidence. So I think Twitter, I think people expected that a large enterprise like that, big technology platform was using best practices, really compartmentalizing information and that doesn't appear to be the case.

TAPPER: Do you have any social media? Do people in your family, do you tell them stay off social media? What do you tell them? CUMMISKEY: I tried to tell our kids, you know, stay off TikTok. You know, it's Chinese owned, or you know, when you look at Huawei with the infrastructure on 5g, you know, certain things you try and avoid contact with. But on the social media platforms, I do tell people to be very careful, because most of the time that information is not secure.

TAPPER: How significant are these warnings ahead of the midterms considering how we've seen Twitter used to spread lies and election disinformation in the past?

CUMMISKEY: Well, I think it's a big concern, we look at '20 going into '22 and '24 now, the dis and misinformation that you cite is prevalent on those platforms. And if you're allowing bots to be prolific or, you know, making an environment where, you know, these machine to machine communications can spread disinformation and you're not monitoring and taking that down, that's really going to be problematic, I think, for the next couple of election cycles.

TAPPER: Does the federal government have the tools it needs to protect us, the American people, from the social media companies we sign up? I mean, it seems like if you had the authority, I don't know if you do or not, you could say you need to take steps to protect this information. But do you even have the authority to do that?

CUMMISKEY: I think it's a mixed bag. I think the SEC and FTC have tried to step forward and call in these companies and force them to do more around security, certainly on the Hill on both sides of the aisle there after this kind of compliance. But to date, it has been very elusive.

TAPPER: But just to be clear, these are some of the richest people in the country that run and own these social media companies. They have the wherewithal if they want, they can hire 1000s more people to make sure this stuff is secure. They just choose not to?

CUMMISKEY: Well, I think that -- if you look at the filings from Zatko, he talks about the prioritization of user, more users over security and privacy. And I think that's what we're seeing. If that is born out to be true, it really ratifies what I think people are feeling about these platforms.

TAPPER: If people don't want to get rid of the social media companies, what would you tell them? Don't trust the direct messages? Don't trust anything as private?

CUMMISKEY: Exactly. Anything that they say is private on the account probably isn't.

TAPPER: All right. Chris Cummiskey, thank you so much.

CUMMISKEY: Thank you.

TAPPER: I have to now delete everything on my phone.

It's the most important part of their job, voting. So why do some lawmakers seem to think that their words outweigh their actual votes?

Then things are getting dicey in the veggie wars in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Dr. Oz's campaign just fired back at Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and its raw.

Plus, Nancy Pelosi's husband sentenced for a DUI accidents. The details ahead.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, President Biden we are told will make a long awaited announcement on student loans tomorrow or canceling student loan debt a source confirms to CNN. The President's been weighing for months whether or not to offer any sort of debt forgiveness as he promised during the campaign. CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us now from the White House.

Jeremy, the White House is considering, we're told, canceling $10,000 of debt per person for federal student loans. But there might be stipulations about who could benefit, right?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there certainly are expected to be, Jake. President Biden is expected to finally announce his decision on student loan forgiveness tomorrow after months of intense deliberations and debate inside the White House. Now, we don't know exactly what President Biden is going to announce, but according to multiple sources familiar with the plan, the plan in the works at the White House would call for $10,000 of student debt forgiveness per borrower for individuals earning less than $125,000. The White House is also in discussions about additional loan forgiveness for specific groups like Pell Grant recipients. And they're also looking at a final short term extension of that moratorium on student loan repayments.

Now, whatever President Biden's decision, it's short to draw him, of course, some praise but also some criticism, including from within his own party. Some Democratic leaning economists saying that this could potentially increase inflation by moving towards student loan forgiveness. And on the left, some are concerned that $10,000 just isn't going far enough.

TAPPER: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, he's in Tampa, Florida today. This is the start of this new Biden administration toward trying to sell the Biden administration's infrastructure law to the American people. A lot of Americans don't even know that it's law. Democrats presumably are hoping that this could give them a boost in the midterms.

DIAMOND: Yes, this is the first of six states that Secretary Buttigieg is going to be visiting over the next four days. And you know that infrastructure bill, Jake, it became law nine months ago, but it is just now that we are starting to see most of that trillion dollar bill begin to actually be dispersed in the form of grants and actual projects. And soon enough, of course, you'll be seeing shovels going into the ground. And Democrats certainly in this White House, see this as an opportunity to try and tout one of the signature victories of President Biden's legislative achievements, especially as we head closer and closer to these midterm elections.

Of course, cabinet members and the President himself also expected to tout that Inflation Reduction Act in the coming days. They see all of these legislative successes as potentially helpful as voters make up their minds in November. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Top officials of the Biden administration are not the only ones touting these new public work projects made possible by the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law passed late last year. In fact, lots of Republican lawmakers are taking credit for jumpstarting these public work projects in their districts and states, even though many of them voted against the infrastructure bill that is providing the very funding for these projects.

This past weekend, Iowa Democrat Liz Mathis who's trying to unseat Republican Congresswoman Ashley Hinson called Hinson out for trying to take credit for the infrastructure bill even though she voted no.



LIZ MATHIS (D), IOWA CONGRESS CANDIDATE: She voted no, now remember that, but also to credit about two weeks later for a project that was funded by infrastructure money. That is not the Iowa way.


TAPPER: Republican Congresswoman Hinson had posted this statement where she told constituents that she, quote, "helped lead" a bipartisan group to, quote, "prioritize the funding." Adding, quote, "I'll always fight to ensure Iowans taxpayer dollars are reinvested at home in Iowa," unquote. I guess, of course, except when she's voting against those investments.

But Hinson is hardly the only Republican trying to claim success for something they voted against. At least 14 congressional Republicans tried to have their cake and vote against it too.

Congressman Tony Gonzales from Texas is on the list after voting against the infrastructure bill in November, calling it something that "will only make matters worse and hold our country back." Months later, Gonzales posted a big announcement on his website touting that he secured $75 million for a Creek Restoration Project in his congressional district. That money of course came from the infrastructure bill that he voted against.

Florida Senator Rick Scott did the same thing. He voted against the infrastructure bill. Then he went to tour a new embankment in the Everglades bragging about, quote, "securing an unprecedented $1 billion for Everglades restoration, the largest single amount ever allocated by the federal government," unquote. The federal government that was given the money for the project from the infrastructure bill that Senator Rick Scott voted against.

But it's not just infrastructure. We also see Republicans trying to capitalize on, it's also the American Rescue Plan. You might remember that, that's the Coronavirus funding package passed by Congress, which among other things, gave money to small businesses and to restaurants. We found at least 11 Republican members of Congress who voted against that bill and then turned around and bragged about securing funds that they voted against.

Some of their tweets that make hay despite having voted nay. Congressman Greg Pence telling his district, help is on the way. Congressman Troy Balderson telling constituents to mark their calendars to apply for the funding that he voted against.

President Biden has more politely than us also noticed this phenomenon.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In my Republican friends in Congress, not a single one of them voted for the rescue plan. I'm not going to embarrass anyone, but I have here a list of how back in their districts they're bragging about the rescue plan.


TAPPER: We also have a list, a few lists, actually, because there was also, of course, the massive omnibus spending bill that passed this March. At least 10 Republicans who voted no then took credit for funding.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik from New York, quote, "I have worked to secure many critical wins for upstate New York and the North Country." Stefanik also posting a list of more than 10 local projects that would now have funding because of this spending bill that she voted against.

Several of these Republicans did not respond to our request for comment, but those that did made statements along the lines of, hey, I supported the funding for that I just didn't like the whole bill or as Congresswoman Hinson's office said, quote, "Since the bill was signed into law, this money was going to be spent regardless, if there's federal money on the table," the Congresswoman, "is, of course, going to do everything she can to make sure it is reinvested in Iowa," unquote.

Now, this is not entirely a new phenomenon. And though in general, now it's Republicans guilty here. Progressive Democrat, Ayana Presley of Massachusetts also voted against the infrastructure bill. She did it as a protest because the Build Back Better Act was not attached to infrastructure. And Congresswoman Presley later turned around and took credit for funding provided from the bill that she voted against.

The larger point, you can't have it both ways. For many in Congress, it's easy to vote no on controversial massive spending packages, and then turn around and hammer those who voted yes, as big spenders and irresponsible with your tax dollars. No one likes everything in a big piece of legislation, but you got to vote and then you got to stand by your vote.

If you vote no, don't take credit for what's in the bill. That's just dishonest. Keeping the full story from your voters. Don't your constituents deserve the truth?

Coming up, who knew you could have enough trees while according to one Republican Senate candidate, there are plenty of trees enough already. Things are getting bizarre on the campaign trail. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, voters are heading to the polls in New York and Florida and Oklahoma today with just 11 weeks until the November midterm elections. One of the most closely watched races today is a contest between two powerful House Democrats, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney, along with progressive challenger Suraj Patel against one another. Let's discuss with our panel.

And Gloria, let me start with you. This is getting --


TAPPER: It's very unusual. First of all, it's strange to have two incumbent powerful Democrats put against each other, usually the forces that be will protect them. But CNN's Edward-Isaac Dovere reports that Maloney, Congresswoman Maloney is privately telling people that Congressman Nadler is, quote, "half dead," suggesting that he's not healthy enough to finish another term. Nadler allies, not Nadler, but Nadler allies are reportedly calling Maloney "kooky" and "not entirely sober."

BORGER: It's Nice.

TAPPER: Nadler is considered the favorite, he got (ph) the endorsement of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. And New York what is very important the editorial board of the "New York Times." How do you -- what's your take on all this?


BORGER: Look, it's just crazy.


BORGER: Hostile, ugly.


BORGER: These are two people who are unwilling to give up power that they've had for a very long time in the House. And I think that the debate obviously hasn't distinguished itself. And you know, on policy, they're together.

TAPPER: Nothing.


TAPPER: No differences. Yes.

BORGER: So what are they going to do? They're going to fight with each other like New Yorkers do, except worse. And I think it's offensive. I think it's been a terrible race for both of them.


RAMESH PONNURU, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: The nastiness is an inverse proportion to the stakes here.


PONNURU: If you're not named Maloney or Nadler, there's almost no reason to care about this.

BORGER: Yes. And you know, Patel, who's 38, is running on generational change.


BORGER: This is a perfect --


BORGER: -- example of why you might need generational change, but it ain't going to happen.

TAPPER: Ashley, Nadler responded to some of the insults from Carolyn Maloney in a phone interview, he said, quote, "It's obviously not true that I'm half dead." Good clarification. "It's obviously not true that I'm senile. But I'm not going to comment on other campaigns. Let them flail away."

This is not in a general term, like the seats going to stay democratic. But this is not good for Democrats.

ASHLEY ALLISON, FORMER NATIONAL COALITION DIRECTOR FOR BIDEN-HARRIS 2020: It's unnecessary. I mean, you have two people -- somebody's political career is going to be over tonight. And however you want your friend, because they are friends, to go out?

BORGER: They were friends.

ALLISON: They were friends. I don't know. Yes. I don't know if you'd call somebody half dead and still be a friend. But it's unnecessary and it doesn't look good, because they are democratic leadership. They are chair men and chairwoman of two really, really important committees.

And I think that for Patel, if you're a voter in New York, I don't think he's going to win. But if you don't really -- if you haven't been paying attention and you see these comments come out, you might just say, maybe I'll go for this third candidate and not vote for either one of them.

TAPPER: Heather, Congresswoman Maloney is leaning into her status as the only woman and something of a trailblazer in New York politics. She needs to be reelected to get the ERA ratified into the Constitution. I didn't know that that was coming up anytime.


TAPPER: She says it was her original mission when she ran for more than 30 years ago. She seems to be trying to expand on the current Democratic energy around abortion rights and women's rights. Effective strategy, do you think?

HEATHER CAYGLE, MANAGING EDITOR, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: I think in some ways, but all this negativity really overshadows that. Who even knows that she has that message right now? I do think the thing I want to point out is, a lot of what they or their allies are saying about each other now is stuff that we've been hearing on the Hill for months privately.

When this came up and it became clear that they were going to have to run against each other or retire, there was a secret hope that both of them would retire. They're 75. They've been in Congress for 30 years. And frankly, a lot of Democrats do not want them as the top member on their side on the committee's next year with a Republican controlled House. You know, they just don't think they can go toe to toe with Republicans.

TAPPER: And Ramesh, in Florida, big race going on there. Governor Ron DeSantis is, I think it's fair to say he's favored to be reelected. He -- people -- he seems to be happy -- he has over 50 percent support in the polls. Democrats are deciding who's best suited to take him on. There's Nikki Fried, who's the State Agriculture Commissioner, and then there's Congressman Charlie Crist, who used to be Governor Charlie Crits, who used to be Republican governor Charlie Crist.

PONNURU: He used to be lot of things.

TAPPER: Yes. But is either one of them do you think better position to take on DeSantis?

PONNURU: Well, I think that Crist is probably a little bit better positioned. I don't think that Fried has really delivered on the promise that a lot of progressives thought that she had.

But look, this is a state where Republicans have won the governor's race, every race from 1998 onward. And I think it's going to be a real uphill climb to unseat DeSantis.

BORGER: You know, I think that Crist is more of a happy warrior. That's what he's kind of known as. And if he wins and becomes the nominee, I could see that contrast to "Top Gun" DeSantis who just did -- TAPPER: Well, let's show that. Because I want to show this because

it's a -- it's certainly interesting. DeSantis putting out this new add on when he dresses up something like Tom Cruise in "Top Gun" to, quote, "take on the corporate media," and on and on. He is obviously one of the potential front runners for the Republican presidential contest.

BORGER: Yes, he is. And you know, the ad shows him just, you know, taking on the media, fighting with them, not answering questions, that's easy in a Republican, you know, to attract Republican voters, that's fine. He is popular, but he wasn't 60 percent. He's now at 50 percent. He's fought with everybody. He's known as Trump without the crazy. So, you know, you'd have to say he's real favored here.

But the contrast particularly given the decision on row, the contrast between him and the sort of Crist who is a nice guy, might serve Crist really well this time.

TAPPER: Well --

BORGER: He's been unsuccessful (ph).

TAPPER: --I'm kind of just have the belief that Florida's just now a Republican state --


TAPPER: -- and that's just how it is.

BORGER: Possibly.

PONNURU: Got two Republican senators for the first time since 1875. It has swung pretty hard to the right.



ALLISON: I mean, I do think Val Demings has a shot.



ALLISON: I think if she's kept this race extremely local, she was on the shortlist to be the vice president, she's former law enforcement.

TAPPER: She's going to vote against Marco Rubio that'd be running -- she's running --

ALLISON: Run against Marco Rubio. And I do think on the governor's race, I think DeSantis is going to win.


ALLISON: But a Chris is a nice contrast to the WOKE bill that DeSantis put, Don't Say Gay Bill. And so for those Florida voters, about 30 percent of them that are not registered as Democrat and Republican, who they go to in November, I think could actually go towards Chris if he win.

TAPPER: And I also want to talk about the Senate race in Pennsylvania because Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who had a stroke earlier this year and is still reportedly a little shaky on the campaign trail. He's still, you know, thriving on social media.


TAPPER: Dr. Oz had that self-inflicted wound where he talked about crew today as he messed up the name of a famous Pennsylvania grocery chain. And they seem to be really kind of like on edge about it because one of -- the communications director for Dr. Oz said, "If John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable in his life," this is the reference to the crew today scandal, "then maybe he wouldn't have had a major stroke and wouldn't be in a position of having to lie about it constantly."

You know, I'm from Pennsylvania, and I think this is either man's race really, honestly, but like, that's kind of nasty.

HEATHER CAYGLE, MANAGING EDITOR, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Yes. I mean, I've been covering politics for about a decade now and that's a new level of nastiness that we don't usually see in Senate races. You know, I think when Trump came on the landscape, though, these politics really changed and these people get in the gutter and just kind of it's -- it can get really ugly. I don't think that that's a winning strategy in a state like that, though.

RAMESH PONNURU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. As is also the candidate of crudity, it turns out.


TAPPER: Very nice.


TAPPER: Did you --


TAPPER: It was good. It was good. There's also a big Senate race in Georgia where Congressman -- I mean, sorry, Senator Raphael Warnock is facing off against of football star Herschel Walker. He had some criticism of the Democrats nearly passed environmental bill, health care and climate and taxes. He said, quote -- well, let just play the clip. We actually have it.


HERSHEL WALKER, REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR SENATE IN GEORGIA: They continue to try to fool you, that they're helping you out. But they're not. They're not helping you out, because a lot of the money is going into trees. You know that don't you? It's going to trees. We got enough trees. Don't we have enough trees around here?


TAPPER: Now, it's true that the bill does have an allocation for reforestation, but it's kind of an odd criticism.

ALLISON: It would be funny if it wasn't so scary. This man can actually be in the U.S. Senate and develop laws and he's talking about, we don't need more trees. I mean, we're in the middle of a climate crisis. Herschel Walker is dangerous and I hope Raphael Warnock can pull it out. But it is a close race because some people will hear that and say, oh, that makes sense. Or, oh, he's my football guy and vote for him. And this is one to really watch, but it's scary.

TAPPER: Also, it is fundamentally a Republican state. Thanks to one and all. Appreciate it.

Also in our national lead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul Pelosi today pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol. Pelosi was arrested -- Mr. Pelosi was arrested last May after a nighttime collision with another driver. Everyone was thankfully OK after the collision. The Speaker was not with him at the time either.

Paul Pelosi is 82. He was sentenced to five days in jail. He gets two days credit for time already served, two more days of conduct credit and he will serve his remaining day through a court work program. We're told Paul Pelosi will be on probation for three years and he has to pay about $1,700 in fines.

Coming up, from devastating drought to deadly flash floods, Texas is dealing with extreme weather but there's one thing the governor refuses to blame. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Earth matters series, severe flooding exacerbated by the climate crisis continues to threaten parts of the United States. About 9 million people in the U.S. are under flood watches from Mexico to Mississippi. North Louisiana is at the greatest risk where up to 8 inches of rain is possible over the next few days. This after flash flooding stunned the Dallas-Fort Worth area this week. The relentless downpour brought more than 9 inches of rain in just one single day. One person was killed after their car was presumably swept off a road.

CNN Ed Lavandera takes a look now at the flooding aftermath.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dallas- Fort Worth area residents used to facing extreme drought conditions were left stunned by heavy rainfall that flooded streets, homes and local businesses on Monday.

ALLEN THOMPSON, BUSINESS OWNER: The current so strong, going past my house. It'll washed you away.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): As the downpour continued, creeks overflowed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been here 13 years and this is, by far, by far, the worst it's ever flooded.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Water levels rose so quickly, cars stalled and drivers were trapped on flooded highways. The Dallas police chief says 28 patrol cars were damaged in the deluge of rain.

MAYOR ERIC JOHNSON, DALLAS, TEXAS: We got hit pretty hard, and we got hit in a historic way. The sky opened up and soon after, our streets closed down.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The Texas governor signed a disaster declaration today for 23 counties across the state.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): What happened yesterday is the second worst rainstorm and flooding in Dallas since 1932.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The flash floods are now subsiding after more than 9 inches of rain in some areas. But the damage assessment is just beginning.

JOHNSON: This was the first time in 90 years that we've had this much rain in a 24-hour period. City parks that look more like lakes and these impacts are going to be felt all over and throughout our economy.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): The latest toll, more than 100 homes flooded. A 60-year-old woman died when her car was presumably swept away by floodwaters, according to local authorities. The storm that started a chain of travel disruptions across the country is now heading towards Louisiana and Mississippi.

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This monster of a rainmaker continues to slide eastward and it continues to set records. Report -- Louisiana reporting their second wettest August day in history, and the records go back 150 years. Flood warnings, flash flood warnings could be issued for cities such as New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi and points eastward.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Texas Governor Greg Abbott is facing questions about how he's managing the state's climate change issues and extreme heat, drought, tornadoes and now floods.

ABBOTT: We are dealing with more extreme weather patterns. We're constantly looking at what extreme weather may lead to whether it be power demand, extreme heat, extreme cold, heavy water, or even drought.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Even after this record rainfall, the governor deliberately avoided calling these weather patterns the effect of climate change. ABBOTT: The sun is coming out. This is Texas.


LAVANDERA: Some isolated areas of Dallas, Jake, received as much as 15 inches of rain in 24 hours. This comes after months of severe drought, weeks of extremely high temperatures. It's all causing weather whiplash. Jake?

TAPPER: All right. Ed Lavandera in Dallas for us, thank you so much.

Also in our Earth matters series, the discovery of ancient history but at what cost? Severe drought conditions are revealing long hidden secrets kept under bodies of water, including dinosaur tracks from 113 million years ago found in Texas, sunken explosive laden World War Two Nazi warships in eastern Serbia, and more.

Let's bring in CNN's Bill Weir. Bill, these incredible discoveries are unfortunately happening because of severe drought conditions caused by the climate crisis.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT Absolutely. They might delight a paleontologist or historian but they are terrifying to ecologists and biologists and Earth scientists who see that this is the result of our water cycle on this planet changing so dramatically. The one we learned about in seventh grade that water evaporates and condensation and then brings it back down, the water tables under the Earth, will a drier planet means there's a lot more water in the atmosphere, a lot more water in thirsty or vegetation or parched ground or in those depleted aquifers, a lot less on land, in our lakes, in our rivers, which is why we're finding bodies in Lake Mead and dinosaur footprints there in Texas as well.

And then in the ice is that melts more gruesome discoveries up in the Alps where plane crashes and the bodies of fallen climbers are now being discovered as that part of the water cycle melts.

TAPPER: And Bill, meanwhile, the climate crisis is also reminding us of what's happening to Switzerland's glaciers. What are researchers --

WEIR: Right.

TAPPER: -- saying about that?

WEIR: Yes, exactly. This is -- what I was mentioning here, the -- look at these time lapses, I've been looking at time lapses a long time, few have this much impact because for the first time, scientists were able to basically reconstruct a visual timeline of Switzerland's glaciers going back to 1931. And you can see them a 50 percent of them disappeared between 31 and 2016. And then another 16 percent has melted just since then, just in the few years since 2016.

But side by side, you can see the concerns there. This affects hydroelectric power, of course, in addition to freshwater supplies, all around Europe. Infrastructure, tunnels, bridges, all of that, built in a different planet now have to be adjusted for here, Jake. It's really staggering to see the results all at once around the world lineup in this way.

Usually, they're isolated incidents and that's the sort of the complexity of the climate crisis. If it's happening over on the other side of the planet, it doesn't land or seeing these extraordinary events all at once everywhere.

TAPPER: No longer the day after tomorrow. Bill Weir, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Just hours away, from the six-month mark of the Russian invasion, Ukraine is bracing for new fury and fires. CNN talks exclusively with Ukraine's defense minister next.



TAPPER: In tonight's world lead, tomorrow mark six months of Russian President Vladimir Putin's brutal war on Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. Half a year of carnage. Now Putin clearly thought this was going to be over in hours, but it has been half a year and the United States is preparing to send its largest ever aid package to Ukraine up to $3 billion worth, according to a senior U.S. official.

Along with all that news, CNN Sam Kiley has this exclusive interview with Ukraine's defense minister says his country is on the verge of a new stage of war.


OLEKSIY REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: And we need more sophisticated weaponry. And we -- I would say that in the March, it was tectonic changing because our partners have decided to make transformation from the Soviet systems, I mean, military systems, weaponry systems, to NATO standards.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was losing 200 men and women a day, dead, another 400 or 500 wounded. That's a whole battle group, a NATO battle group.

REZNIKOV: It was a really, a lot of killed in actions and wounded. But when we get artillery and MLRS systems like HIMARS, this (INAUDIBLE).


And you are right, we are paying by the blood of our lives of our people and I hope that our partners on understand it.

KILEY: Are you not afraid that the international community, your partners may begin to tire of this war?

REZNIKOV: I call it fatigue syndrome, yes. And for me, it's one of the main threat. And we need to work on in with this threat. Because we need to speak like with you to communicate, to ask people, don't be on this fatigue because this is very, very dangerous for us.

KILEY: Is it drifting into stalemate?

REZNIKOV: The worst scenario was behind us and live behind us. And we are in a stage of stabilizing of the battlefield or battle line with a small moving of the units. And we made a lot of who deterring them. And I think that we own a purge of the new stage, because we have to go forward to start our contract offensive campaign in different direction.

KILEY: So who did attack and blow up those aircraft in Crimea? Was it missiles or special forces?

REZNIKOV: I think it was the breaking rules, don't smoke in the dangerous places.

KILEY: The Russians blew them up themselves.

REZNIKOV: It was like the lucky strike in the bowling game.

KILEY: Who threw the ball?

REZNIKOV: Probably Russian soldiers.

KILEY: If they continue to get fired from or if there's an escalation that comes from Belarus, will Ukraine attack Belarus?

REZNIKOV: It's a good question, because the official part of Belarus playing their game trying to balance between Russia, and I absolutely sure that Belarusian people, they don't want to go with a war to Ukraine.

KILEY: Could it spread across Europe this war?

REZNIKOV: No, I think that this war started in the Ukraine, and will in Ukraine.


KILEY: Now, the thing that, Jake, I think to take away is that it might start and finish in Ukraine, but it might have to extend certainly behind the enemy lines and the defense minister wouldn't be drawn, Jake, on who was operating or how they were operating behind enemy lines. But clearly, with the destruction of seven or eight aircraft in Crimea, they've been several ammunition dumps inside Russia proper, that have also mysteriously exploded the defense minister remaining very coy on those subjects.

TAPPER: Sam, the defense minister hinted at what he thinks will be the next phase of the war. What does he think that will look like?

KILEY: Well, he was even more coy about that insisting that this would be a decision for the general staff. But as we look at what they're asking for in the next round of upgrade in terms of this shift from Soviet to NATO's type weaponry, I think it's certain that they're going to be looking at trying to get hold of some fast jets, possibly a tense from the United States, the ground attack aircraft that have been semi-retired for some time but potentially very useful against the army, wants more armor.

They want more conventional weapons, but they also want the capacity to use combat drones. They have their own that they manufacture. They bought some from Turkey, but they want more. And I think we're going to see a lot more unconventional warfare, more commando reigns deeper into Russian held territory. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sam Kiley in Kyiv. Be safe. Thank you so much.

Coming up, the mesmerizing pics from space that are so good even the scientists were surprised. We're going to are out of this world lead next.



TAPPER: In our out of this world lead, some really fabulous. New pictures of the planet Jupiter courtesy of NASA's new James Webb Space Telescope. CNN's Kristin Fisher joins us. Kristin, tell us more about what we're seeing here. There's some detail and unusual colors that I don't remember ever seeing before.

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the Great Red Spot that Jupiter is known for doesn't look so red --


FISHER: -- photo anymore, it's white. That's because the Webb Space Telescope is an infrared telescope. And so, the human eye can't see infrared light. And so, Webb has cameras that use three filters to kind of translate that infrared light into light that you and I can see. And so, if we kind of dissect this photo, that red spot, those arches at the north and south pole of Jupiter, those are actually Aurorus. Just like the northern lights here on Earth.

The turquoise bit is some atmospheric haze. And then there's another wider shot, we can actually see the rings. Jupiter's very faint rings. It's not just Saturn that has rings. And so, what's really standing out here is just how crisp and detailed these images are. And, I mean, so many scientists around the world are saying that they new Webb was going to be good. They just didn't know how good.

TAPPER: Right. NASA scientists were even taken by surprised, how good these are. So NASA is already -- also getting ready to launch its new moon mission, Artemis and six days, a lot can happen in six days, of course.


TAPPER: There's always weather delays, et cetera. Why is NASA so confident about this launch?

FISHER: So they just held the flight readiness review and it was voted by unanimous consent that this rocket was ready to fly. Like you said, a lot can happen especially when it's Florida in August and you're dealing with that weather. But the bottom line is they believe that as of now, this rocket is ready to fly. And remember this is the first human rated vehicle that NASA has had since the space shuttle retired, you know, back in 2011.

So everybody's a little bit rusty when it comes to launching these types of vehicles and this one's not just orbiting the earth. It's -- or it's, you know, going to go all the way to the moon. What we've seen over the last few years is SpaceX, launching people to the moon. This is NASA, a test flight attempting to return astronauts to the moon. This one uncrewed, the next one will be crewed.

TAPPER: Kristen Fisher, so good to have you. Thanks so much.

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Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Alex Marquardt in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" right next door.