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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Justice Dept. Releases Redacted FBI Affidavit For Mar-a-Lago Search; DOJ Found 184 Classified Docs In 14 Of 15 Returned Boxes; White House Says Student Loan Forgiveness Plan Will Cost $24 Billion A year; Louisiana Woman Forced To Carry Fetus Missing Skull To Term Or Travel For Abortion; Cuba Blackouts Bring Misery Amid Sweltering Heat. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 26, 2022 - 17:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Well, by May, investigators had gone through those boxes, and in them they found 184 classified documents, 67 of those marks confidential, 92 marked as secret, 25 top secret. The affidavit goes on to explain investigators were worried that more classified documents were still at Mar-a-Lago and that they weren't being properly secured.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Pamela Brown with the key takeaways this afternoon from that bombshell affidavit released just a few hours ago.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now public, a heavily redacted version of the affidavit that led to the FBI search at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. In it, shocking new details, the FBI telling a judge that there was probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain classified NDI or that are presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at the premises. There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the premises. The Affidavit also revealing startling details about improperly handled documents that were marked with the highest levels of security clearance.

STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF OPERATIONS: And as a former CIA guy, it sends chills up and down my spine when I hear that there's HCS information in somebody's basement and not secured as it properly should. It's just -- it's really, really bad.

BROWN (voice-over): HCS standing for human intelligence control system, which is a classification designed to protect people working around the world for the U.S. government. And 14 of the 15 boxes retrieved in January by the National Archives, 184 documents had unique classification markings, 67 marked as confidential, 92 marked as secret, and 25 marked top secret.

HARRY LITTMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: The top secret stuff and compartmental can get people killed. It is completely alarming. Nobody down there except, well, not even Trump any longer, even has a clearance at all.

BROWN (voice-over): According to DOJ, the document is heavily redacted to protect witness information and other key details from the ongoing criminal investigation. Prosecutors explain in their legal memo to the judge, information in the affidavit could be used to identify many, if not all, of these witnesses. If witnesses identities are exposed, they could be subjected to harms including retaliation, intimidation, or harassment, and even threats to their physical safety.

We're also learning new insights as to what led to the investigation in the first place. The National Archives made a criminal referral to the DOJ in February, saying there was significant concern after finding the boxes retrieved by the archive contained highly classified records and are mixed with other records and not properly identified. This, leading the DOJ and FBI to launch their own investigation, issuing a subpoena in June for classified material and ultimately the search at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month. Trump reacted on his social media platform leaning into the fact that the affidavit is quote, "heavily redacted," and calling it "a total public relations subterfuge by the FBI and DOJ."


BROWN: And the FBI said today in one of the court filings that it has interviewed a significant number of civilian witnesses as part of this probe. Sources told me the FBI has interviewed current and former Trump aides and that that is likely why the FBI believed it had probable cause that there were still classified documents at Mar-a- Lago, which is why it felt it needed to execute that search warrant.

And indeed, we know, Erica, that 11 sets of documents were classified were taken away from Mar-a-Lago in August after that search warrant was executed.

HILL: Yes, a lot in there. Pamela Brown, appreciate it. Thank you.

Also with me, Don Ayer, former Deputy Attorney General in the George H.W. Bush administration and CNN National Security Analyst, Shawn Turner.

So, as Pamela laid out there, what we learned in this affidavit, right, the reasoning of probable cause they believe they had to go in and get these documents back in August, they did find 11 sets of classified documents, as Pamela just pointed out back on August 8. Don, based on everything that we have seen play out over the last three weeks or so and what we learned today from this affidavit, do you believe the Justice Department is going about this the correct way?

DONALD AYER, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, GEROGE H.W. BUSH ADMINISTRATION: I do. I think what they've managed to do, and it's a very difficult challenge, because they really can't talk about the specifics of this for all the reasons they gave. But they've nonetheless through a process really that the court has entered orders to facilitate, they've managed to get a story out for people who pay attention to understand what's going on. And what's going on is they really didn't have any choice but to pursue this warrant having tried several other ways of getting these documents back and they didn't have any real alternative but to redact the affidavit in the way they did, the judge made that perfectly clear. So, I think they've done a pretty exemplary job of getting enough of the story out so people can understand it at the same time they're doing their job in not disclosing the information that can't become public.


HILL: Well, part of that story that we learned about today, obviously, right, those 184 documents that had classification markings that were found in 14 of the 15 boxes recovered from Mar-a-Lago back in January. Shawn, when you when you see those classifications, the way that they break down, the further concerns about your human intel, perhaps these are spies, they're foreign agents who are working with U.S., the way that these documents were labeled, what more does that tell you? And what are your further concerns about what could have been in those documents?

SHAWN TURNER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATION U.S. NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Yes, you know, you said the magic number. You know, when I saw that there were 184 classified documents, that really stood out to me. And let me tell you why.

Look, I spent years in the intelligence community both working at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and at the White House, and I was surrounded by classified information all the time, I cannot remember a single instance, a single time when either I or those who are around me who worked with classified information had dozens and dozens of classified documents laying around in an office in a situation where they could be packed up and move to one place. And it's pretty standard that when you were done reviewing a classified documents, we put it put those documents are what we call burn bags, so that they can be properly disposed of. So what that tells me when I read that, that tells me one of two things had to happen, either, as someone was going through these documents over a period of time they were deliberately putting documents aside so that those documents could be maintained or taken at a later date. That would have had to happen -- for this number that would have had happened over a long period of time.

Or, and this is really important, at some point prior to January 18, 2020 when we know that that truck showed up at Mar-a-Lago with documents, at some point prior to that someone would have had to go and deliberately print out documents that were going to be packed up and taken away from the White House. Either way, and we don't know which of those cases we're talking about here, but either way, that's a major concern for me because as we've been talking about throughout this, that gets too intense. Why are these documents there at Mar-a- Lago? We don't know, but we need to find out.

HILL: You know, it also raises, Shawn, I just want to stick with you on this point for -- because it raises two points for me, right. The two options that you say are there. If these documents are that sensitive, I would imagine it's pretty tough to just go find them on a server somewhere and print them out, number one, without a without a trail, right, and without needing some sort of security clearance to get in there to be able to do that. And number two, if they were taken, let's say one at a time and put somewhere else, shouldn't there be a trail? I mean, there's a trail when you had to look at documents in a skiff, right? You had to give them back or you had to show that you had put them back in a secure location before you left that room. You can't take them home with you at night.

TURNER: Yes, and I think everything you said is true for anyone below -- beneath the level of the president and his most senior advisors. And that's why this really stands out to me because if intelligence official goes and briefs the president and hands the president a classified document, and the president wants to review that document, well, the president has that document. And the assumption has always been that he's the president United States, he will have that document as long as he needs that document in order to review the information.

If I or someone else beneath that level has a classified document, you know, there's a process that make sure those documents are dealt with appropriately. So, you're absolutely right. I mean, there shouldn't be a process unless this was someone who was around the president or the president himself.

HILL: Yes. So many questions.

Don, when we look at processes too, one of the things that really stood out to me today was learning that these documents had been returned right in January, but the FBI didn't actually go through them, start going through them until May. Does -- is that typical? In my mind, it would seem you finally get those documents back, you get these documents, your archives, you want to go through them right away.

AYER: It's surprising to me if that's the case, that the depth (ph) actually didn't go through them until May, because you would think that you probably would.

HILL: Yes.

AYER: The only thought I might have is that they were dealing with a former president and they were not trying to be in a mad race. And yet, ultimately, it became perfectly clear that they absolutely had to act on the problem that was created here.

HILL: We're unfortunately going to have to leave it there. but Don Ayer, Shawn Turner, I'm pretty sure this will not be the last time we talk about it. Appreciate you both joining us with your expertise. Thank you.


HILL: There's still more to discuss in terms of this affidavit, including how the timing of it could play in to Donald Trump's decision on whether to run for office again.

Also a look at why some Republican candidates are now downplaying their antiabortion rights stances. So, will that work or could it backfire?


Plus more questions as the White House says it won't know how much the student loan payoffs will actually cost until they know how many people sign up. So, who wouldn't want to try to get $10,000 from Uncle Sam?


HILL: Back now with our politics lead. Today's release of the Mar-a- Lago search warrant affidavit underscoring the highly sensitive nature of documents that have been kept there. And also revealing prosecutors told a federal judge they believe there was likely evidence of obstruction, classified defense documents in the former president's Florida resident.

So what does all this mean? Let's discuss with Astead Herndon from "The New York Times" and Emily Ngo from New York One. Good to have you both in studio.

We look at this, you know, and said Republicans have demanded it, right? They have said from the beginning, federal authorities, they have to justify this search. They have to show us why they did. So, in terms of what was revealed this was a heavily redacted document, but there was still a whole lot of information in there, a 184 classified documents --


HILL: -- spread over 14 of 15 boxes. Does that change anything?

HERNDON: I don't think you'll see a change to Republican response because we know that much of that response wasn't really in good faith. What they were doing was matching the political response from Trump and his allies that really try to change the goalposts on this issue.


What we saw today was a continuation, I think, of what we've seen from the Justice Department, which is a meticulous laying out that they went through the processes that were normal and expected even above and beyond particularly considering that this was the President of the United States we were talking about, that they did that engagement early, that they made sure that they went and prove that case out to the judge to get that signed before they went to Mar-a-Lago. But still, I do not expect that to really change what we see from Republicans. I saw a tweet from Mick Mulvaney that was saying, oh, this was still just about documents.

HILL: Right. HERNDON: I think we're going to see though that them really tried to centralize on that message, because it's the one that insulates Donald Trump politically, which we know for many folks is their number one goal here to protect the person that really supercharges their base.

HILL: And also the chances of, right? I can see the next call being, well then show us what's in that. Tell us why --

HERNDON: Exactly.

HILL: -- these were classified, why they were top secret. We know we're not going to get that information, right?

EMILY NGO, POLITICAL REPORTER, NY1: It's always a moving of the goalposts, right, show us the search warrant, show us the affidavit, show us the surveillance video. Even if it's in heavily redacted form, this affidavit, as you said, lays out the clearest picture yet of why the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago.

And it's going to give the former president a really hard time in terms of response, because already we see how he's reacting on trough social. And a lot of what he's saying is what he said before that it's a witch hunt, that it's politicized. He's not -- there's no new ground for him to tread.

HILL: What do you think it does in terms of -- or how could it influence his decision of when, right, let's assume that he is going to run like when he declares his candidacy, does this move that data at all?

HERNDON: I don't know if we see it move that date. But I think that -- you know, it's hard to be in Donald Trump's head, right?

HILL: Yes, it is.

HERNDON: That should be the number one caveat here, he has --

HILL: To be clear, I'm not asking you to go there, right?

HERNDON: No, no, no. Even the folks close to him you here say that.

HILL: Right. It's hard to know with anybody.

HERNDON: That he has changed his mind in real time. But I think the real pressure here is going to be where Republicans are in the midterms. I mean, we have seen really the party move further and further away from the position they were in part of the summer. And there's some real angst on the Republican side that the Senate candidates, in particular, ones that were chosen by Donald Trump, once they have defended him at every step of the way, they thought this FBI rate was going to motivate voters was going to really bring the midterms closer to them. And we have not seen evidence of that yet.

So I think there will be increased -- an increase look among the Republican Party at large to say, how do we deal with the quote, "Trump -- the dual side of the Trump problem?" Both the voters he does bring to the polls uniquely, but also the voters he scares away uniquely. That's a double bind the Republican Party has put themselves in that has only made more deep from this race.

HILL: There was also some thinking that Roe may benefit them politically. What we're seeing is the exact opposite, right, that it tends to, at least so far, in these early matchup contests in these primaries, we're seeing that it has been in fact Democrats who tend to be benefiting even more. Now some Republican candidates in competitive races, they're trying to soften their message and even their stance on abortion.

Take a look. We have a new digital ad from Republican Blake Masters, running of course for Senate in Arizona. Take a look.


BLAKE MASTERS (R-AZ), SENATE CANDIDATE: Look, I support a ban on very late term and partial birth abortion. And most Americans agree with that. That would just put us on par with other civilized nations.


HILL: So he also rebooted his campaign website, deleted lines about being 100 percent prolife, is instead focusing on limits to abortion rights.

Emily, what do you make of those? He has said, oh, you know, his policies or he wants them to be, I think he'd call them a living document or he wants them to be fluid, right? OK. This seems like a big change.

NGO: It is right. And he's been trying to cast himself as common sense and his Democratic rival as the extremist one. And here he is scrubbing all the extremist language from his campaign website.

Yes, that can be a living document. But these are pretty drastic changes that he's making, obviously, to protect himself ahead of his contest. He's removed language like abortionist, that's very extremist. He no longer is vocalizing that he wants to support a federal personhood which would -- could make abortion murder, especially if a fetus is considered a person before the point of vitality.

So a lot of this is hid -- trying to cast himself as more moderate as he looks toward this very competitive race. We should note also that a Republican Super PAC is chopping down on the funding it wants to spend on him in this race, that's going to hurt his chances. Drastically they are looking like they're sidestepping this race, not seen it as competitive as it could be.

HILL: It's also interesting the White House, Astead, really doubling down, right?


HILL: So we heard this comparison President Biden made not on camera, but talking about MAGA Republicans as, quote, semi -- getting closer to "semi fascism." I wonder in terms of doubling down on that message, is that effective messaging for Democrats.

HERNDON: I mean, I think you're seeing a Democratic Party that's increasingly feeling confident about this midterm positions and wants to draw those contrasts directly with Republican candidates. And we've seen Biden torque up the language on this every step of the way. I mean he -- I remember they were originally calling them extreme MAGA Republicans. Now we've gotten to this kind of semi-fascist language.


Every step of the way, they're trying to draw more stark contrast with that Republican base, saying that Donald Trump, January 6 S version of Donald Trump has taken over the Republican Party and that's the choice that voters have in November. I think you're going to see some Republicans tried to push back on that, trying to say he's painting them with too broad of a brush. But that's going to be harder to do when you look at the reality of candidates they have on their slate, not only Blake Masters or Doug Mastriano, someone who was at the Capitol out in Pennsylvania, but look at the secretary of state races, where they have people who have openly embraced election conspiracies who are now in those positions to then run the election system. That is what is giving Democrats the confidence to be able to make such language that I think will be probably considered unfathomable in American politics five, 10 years ago, someone calling the other side --

HILL: Right.

HERNDON: -- semi-fascist, now you have the President doing that, and it's barely gotten a -- it's only kind of a blip on the radar, partially because of the way Republicans themselves had moved.

HILL: Let's be honest, there's a long list of things we couldn't have imagined maybe five, six years ago, and 10 years in American politics. Well, we look at though where we are, right, and these shifts that we have seen in really just the last month or so, month to six weeks, it's going to be a very busy couple of months ahead. I mean, is it worth trying to game it out at this point?

NGO: It's going to be a very busy -- couple of busy months ahead to say the very least. It is worth keeping an eye out, always is trying to project because the Democrats in the Democratic Party are feeling very emboldened and very positive, series of legislative wins.

And as well everything -- with everything going on in Mar-a-Lago with FBI search and how the former president and his allies are responding to it, they have a lot of momentum with them now. And I think that President Biden is actually getting a pretty encouraging response when he gets more combative, when the White House Twitter account turns around and tries to defend the Student Loan Forgiveness Act --

HILL: Student loans, yes.

NGO: -- by getting a little snarky, giving people a little more of what they asked for. I think that this is the tone that we will see in coming months.

HILL: All right. Well, buckle up. Here we go. Emily, Astead, nice to see you both. Thank you.

HERNDON: Thank you.

HILL: The Fed Chair warning Americans, no gain without any pain, talking specifically about inflation. So what does that mean for you?



HILL: In our money lead, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell declaring an all-out fight against inflation today pledging the central bank will, quote, "use our tools forcefully" to attack inflation, which is still running near its highest level in more than 40 years. This, even as a key indicator shows soaring prices did take a little bit of a breather last month.

CNN's Rahel Solomon joining us now with more on this. Jerome Powell really not mincing words today.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely not. This was a short speech but clearly made an impact. It was only about eight minutes. But Fed Chairman being very clear, sending the message out saying, let me be clear, essentially, we are on a path of lowering inflation and that will look like higher interest rates. And we will not pivot from that path until we start to see sustained clear evidence that inflation is a lowering.

Also, however, acknowledging, and this is what's getting a lot of attention, that there will be some pain involved. Take a listen.


JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: While higher interest rates, slower growth, and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses.


SOLOMON: And certainly the strongest language I have heard from the chairman, so not leaving any room for misinterpretation, which some would argue -- some of his last comments really left some confused about what the path ahead looked like, but Chairman Powell today been very clear that that will look like higher interest rates, which will cause pain for many.

HILL: Yes. So, it's not going to be pretty.


HILL: But you have to go through it, right, to get to this point is what I was hearing. Boy, the markets did not like this. I mean, at the end of the day, the Dow down 1000 points, this was rough.

SOLOMON: This is something we haven't seen this type of market reaction in two months. Every S&P 500 sector closed lower, every Dow component closed lower. This was a message that was felt on Wall Street and Main Street in terms of the real economy.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans have some sort of stock exposure. So, what we saw in the markets today impacts many people, whether you're invested in terms of your portfolio, your 401k or whether you're more actively investing, you are looking at your investments today feeling a little less wealthy, a little less well off than you were yesterday.

HILL: Let me tell you what I'm not looking at today, I am not looking at my 401k actually --

SOLOMON: that's right, yes.

HILL: -- because I feel like it might be a little bit depressing. One -- let's add on an up note, right, there is a key inflation measure. We got some more detail on this today. This is when the Federal Reserve likes.

SOLOMON: It does.

HILL: What did we learn?

SOLOMON: We learned that inflation is easing, which is a good sign. But this does echo what we've seen and some of the more recent inflation reports too, this is largely energy driven, energy prices fall, and so we saw inflation fall. Chairman Powell did respond and did address the fact that we've started to see lower inflation rates, he said something to the effect of, look, we welcome, but a single month improvement falls far short of what the committee will need to see in terms of stopping its fight. So, it's certainly welcome news, but it's still too soon to declare victory. And that's why you're seeing some of the reaction you've seen in the markets today.

HILL: Yes, which get --

SOLOMON: It's early.

HILL: -- back to what you said in the beginning too, right, that he said we're going to need to see that this is really working before we stop.

SOLOMON: Exactly. That's going to be in months at least.

HILL: All right, well, we'll buckle up. Thank you.

Rahel, good to see you. Appreciate it.

The Biden administration is finally revealing the estimated price tag for the student loan relief plan. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre telling CNN the loan forgiveness could cost about $24 billion per year.


Now that's assuming just 75 percent of eligible Americans take advantage of the relief. CNN's MJ Lee is live at the White House. So MJ, that number is actually a lot lower than some other estimates. What more do we know about that number?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erica, we are, as you said, starting to see the White House offer more details on the big question of how much exactly is this plan going to cost. And as you said, the White House is saying that, according to their early estimate that cost is going to be around $24 billion a year. That is less than some other estimates we've seen, including from Penn Wharton, their estimate was that it could cost upwards of $1 trillion over 10 years.

Now, when CNN asked the White House about that discrepancy between those two estimates, they essentially said, Look, we are certain that $1 trillion is not the ballpark that they are looking at. And they said a part of the reason is that the model that they use, took into account a scenario where just 75 percent of eligible borrowers would take advantage of this program. They said that they decided to go with that number, because a similar Education Department program, that the percentage of people they stopped participating in that program as well.

Now the White House is obviously making clear that they would like to see as many people as possible participating in this loan forgiveness program. The president saying just this afternoon to reporters, though, that even if just a fraction of the people who are eligible participated and benefited from this program, he would be happy about that.

HILL: We'll be watching. The White House has taken a pretty aggressive approach, meantime, to Republican critics of this but not just Republicans. We should point out Democrats critical as well, but they're specifically really centering on these Republican critics of the plan. Tell us a little bit more about that response, MJ?

LEE: Yes, you know, Republicans have been pretty quick to criticize this program, saying that it is going to add to inflation, it is going to increase the deficit and also bringing up the issue of fairness. And what we have seen in part from the White House is responding by tweeting at Republican members saying that these are Republican members who have had their PPP loans forgiven. These are obviously loans given out during the COVID era, so that businesses could pay for a payroll, for example.

Now, the President even weighed in on this himself when he was talking to reporters just a little while ago. This is what he said.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: And I found it absolutely fascinating, that some of the folks who are talking about this is big spenders, are the same people that got $158,000 in PPP money, including the, what's her name, the woman who believes in you anyway, and a whole lot of Republicans got a lot of money.


LEE: Now, there are some questions as to whether student loans versus PPP loans, whether they make for a fair comparison, particularly given that PPP loans, largely were given out and meant to be forgiven as long as these business owners met certain criteria in terms of how they use that money. But Erica, all in all, we are just seeing how much the issue of student loans is, is being so politically charged as an issue, particularly as we get closer to the midterm elections.

HILL: It certainly draws up a lot of emotion and people that is for sure. MJ Lee, great to see you today. Thank you. Coming up here, Louisiana woman says abortion restrictions are now forcing her to continue her pregnancy to carry it to term only to have to bury her baby.



HILL: In our health lead, new complications as doctors, women politicians and of course plenty of lawyers tried to navigate the deeply personal and painful decisions that need to be made this of course in the wake of the Supreme Court throwing out abortion rights were protected by Roe v Wade. CNN's Dianne Gallagher is in a Louisiana following rather a Louisiana case for us. A woman says there that she has been forced to quote carry my baby to bury my baby. Dianne, what's happening in this case?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erica, so Nancy Davis found out last month that her unborn child would not survive at a 10-week abortion, excuse me, at a 10-week ultrasound. They diagnosed the fetus as having something called a crania. It is a lethal rare birth defect where the skull does not form inside the womb.

Now doctors recommended she had an abortion but told her she would probably have to travel out of state for it because they didn't think that they could perform one in Louisiana due to the state's new near total ban on abortion.

Now, in the six weeks since Nancy Davis had that ultrasound, lawmakers have said oh no, a cranium does count underneath this narrow, medically futile exception. In fact, 36 lawmakers sent a letter out saying that even though it's not listed, it does count. Doctors say that that's where the big issue is here that these new laws that are coming up around the country after the reversal of Roe versus Wade are vague and confusing, and that they aren't sure what they can do. The one in Louisiana carries stiff criminal penalties for doctors.

Now, we spoke with women's clinic in Baton Rouge. They said they couldn't talk about a specific patient, but said that since all of this has happened, things are complex and said quote we look at each patient's individual circumstances and how to remain in compliance with all current state laws to the best of our ability. Even if a specific diagnosis falls under medically futile exceptions provided by the Louisiana Department of Health.


The laws addressing treatment methods are much more complex and seemingly contradictory.

Oh, that is what Nancy Davis's attorney Ben Crump said today calling the law clear as mud, saying that it has caused his client excruciating pain over the past six weeks, which she describes here.


NANCY DAVIS, DENIED ABORTION FOR NONVIABLE VETUS: Basically, they said I had to carry my baby to bury my baby. They seem confused about the law and afraid of what will happen to them if they perform a criminal abortion according to the law. Now I am prepared to go out of state or this procedure next week. I want you to imagine what it's been like to continue this pregnancy for another six weeks after this diagnosis. This is not fair to me. And it should not happen to any other woman.


GALLAGHER: And that is key there for Nancy Davis as she stood on the steps with her family and her attorney of the Louisiana State Capitol. They want the state legislature to come back for a special session to amend that near total ban on abortion make things less vague, less confusing, so other people don't have to go through what Nancy Davis is right now.

As far as her situation Erica, she will travel out of state for the procedure she said that she will likely go here to North Carolina because one of the few places in the region that at 60 weeks she can still receive an abortion.

HILL: It's excruciating. You think about the emotional and the mental toll for her. Dianne, appreciate it. Thank you. No lights, sweltering heat a fuel shortage causing major power outages people that are forced to sleep outside in tents or outside rather on the street. That's next.



HILL: In our world lead, late August, pretty terrible time to be without electricity is hot, it's humid, your food spoils, downright miserable for a lot of folks. For most of the day everyday though that is exactly the situation right now in Cuba. CNN Savannah correspondent Patrick Oppmann shows us things in fact are so bad people are now demonstrating against Cuba's authoritarian government.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For many Cubans, this is now their life waiting in the sweltering heat for the lights to come back on. In this neighborhood people say the power is regularly cut by the government amid growing energy shortages for up to 16 hours each day.

Very difficult, really uncomfortable when it's time to go to bed you can, he says the mosquitoes eat you alive. The heat doesn't let you sleep.

Power cuts are nothing new here. But Cubans are now dealing with the worst outages in decades as a perfect storm of economic calamity. A drop in tourism and skyrocketing inflation batters the island.

The Cuban government blames increased U.S. government sanctions for the outages that lack of investment in the state controlled energy sector and a massive fire that destroyed Cuba's main oil storage facility had brought the crisis to the brink.

As the lights go out more frequently, Cubans fed up with the outages have taken to the streets in rare protests that the government usually does not allow.

Cuba's President says protesters need to be patient. Some people take advantage of the situation to shout anti-revolutionary slogans, he says. Others take part in vandalism and throw rocks and break windows. And that doesn't resolve the situation.

But government officials admit there is no quick solution to the outages.

OPPMANN (on camera): The power outages have a major impact on people's lives. When the lights go out, food spoils more quickly in the summer heat. People can't go to work or to school. And they often have to sleep outside on the streets where they're exposed to mosquitoes that carry diseases like dengue gay. At this point, there's no indication that the energy crisis is going to get better anytime soon.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Wendy is nearly nine months pregnant and most nights has to sleep on the ground outside her house. She says out loud but many here are thinking the food spoils and there's no food in the stores. There's nothing, she says. This is going from bad to worse. I want to leave.

Already a record number of Cubans have left the island in the last year. For those that remain, they know there are more long nights like this one to come.


OPPMANN: And Erica, over 170,000 Cubans have crossed the last year from Mexico into the United States, hundreds of more have taken to the season the dangerous crossing across the Florida straits. So while the government says the energy crisis will get better here soon. Many Cubans are not sticking around to find out.

HILL: Yes, what a horrible situation. Patrick, it's so important though that we learn about it. Thank you. In our Earth matters series yet another example of climate change bringing on a humanitarian disaster. Pakistan usually has three or four cycles of monsoon rains every year. Well, the authorities say right now it is actually going through its eighth cycle.

The results of these super flood torrents are shocking. Since mid-June nearly 1,000 people have died upwards of 33 million people, that's about 15 percent of the country's population have been impacted here. Hundreds of thousands now living in tents or temporary relief camps. Entire provinces are cut off from electricity, gas and the internet.


Here in the U.S. this week alone, record setting rainfall and flooding in parts of Texas and Mississippi. And even when the skies are clear, rivers filled with runoff water continue to rise. The Pearl River in Jackson, Mississippi isn't actually expected to crest until next Tuesday. A flood watch stretches through Southern Mississippi and Alabama and the Florida Panhandle affecting Pensacola mobile and Hattiesburg. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar keeping track of all of this for us. So where are some of the most concerning trouble spots right now, Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's surprisingly, Erica, in the same spots that they've been dealing with a lot of the heavy rain but just as you mentioned, the rivers the creeks and streams, those are more of the delayed concerns because it takes time for those to crest to get to their highest points, but you still also have rain coming down.

Here's a look all the areas where you see green here, that's where we have the Flood Watches several of these still in effect for at least a couple more hours along the Gulf Coast region. Look at how much rain has fallen just since Sunday. You're talking widespread areas of six inches but a few of these spots where you see the pink now you're talking eight even 10 or more inches.

When we talk about the rivers, yes, this is the Pearl River currently sitting at moderate flood stage. It is still forecast to reach 36 feet that does that's the threshold for major flood stage. But this is assuming there's no more rain that it would still likely reach major flood stage by late Monday, early Tuesday.

The problem is we do have more rain in the forecast especially over the next 24 to 36 hours. Here's a look at a lot of those showers and thunderstorms on the radar right now. You can see several around Baton Rouge just to the west of New Orleans. Some of the showers and thunderstorms also still around Jackson even around Biloxi, Mississippi.

It's not the only spot though even a little bit further east along the Gulf Coast. You have a lot of the showers and thunderstorms firing up across Florida too, very heavy bands of showers and thunderstorms across Orlando. So again, a lot of the concern with these areas, Erica, is the potential for flooding over the next few days on top of what these communities have already had.

HILL: It is rough to think about. Allison Chinchar, appreciate it. Thank you. Well the countdown is on now I headed back to the moon. Up next, CNN has an inside look at the Artemis mission. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


HILL: We're back now with our out of this world lead. At a live look from Kennedy Space Center the Artemis rocket on the launch pad, they're ready to blasts off toward the moon on Monday. NASA's quest to return Americans to the moon comes as modern day space exploration is increasingly privatized. There's new and growing space race with China. CNN's space and defense correspondent Kristin Fisher takes us inside the mission.


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a long time since NASA has had its own candle to light.


FISHER: 11 years since the last space shuttle launch. 50 years since the last launch of the Apollo program. But now, Apollo's mythological twin sister, Artemis is on the launch pad and ready to fly.

BILL NELSON, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: Until all of us that gaze up at the moon, dreaming of the day humankind returns to the lunar surface. Folks, we're here.

FISHER: the Artemis rocket or SLS is years behind schedule, billions over budget. But it's also the most powerful rocket ever built, and it's designed to launch people even deeper into space than the moon.

REID WISEMAN, CHIEF NASA ASTRONAUT: Our sights are not set on the moon. Our sights are set clearly on Mars.

FISHER: But first, it has to pass this uncrewed test flight with only mannequins on board. Artemis 1 will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Mission Control is at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Apollo Control Houston.

FISHER: The same place that controlled every Apollo and Shuttle mission.

RICK LABRODE, NASA LEAD FLIGHT DIRECTOR: This is where it all happens as far as human spaceflight.

FISHER: Rick LaBrode is in charge of it all as lead flight director. LaBrode and his team had been training in this room for this moment, for over three years.

LABRODE: When flight day comes. It's a whole different ballgame. It's when it really gets real.

FISHER: After launch, the SLS rocket will separate from the Orion crew capsule on top, Orion will then fly a quarter of a million miles to the moon, and then go 40,000 miles beyond it farther than any spacecraft designed to carry humans has ever flown.

LABRODE: And we're going to swing by the moon. And when we swing by it on the way there we're going to be 60 miles off the surface, it's going to be incredible. The pictures that we get as we go by are going to be really impressive.

FISHER: After orbiting the moon for more than two weeks, Orion will head back to Earth hitting speeds of around 25,000 miles per hour and temperatures half the surface of the sun, something engineers can't replicate here on Earth.

LABRODE: The number one highest priority for our mission is actually to test the heat shield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liftoff of space shuttle Columbia.

FISHER: It was a damage teach shield that caused space shuttle Columbia to burn up on reentry killing seven astronauts. So testing it before astronauts fly on Artemis 2 is crucial.

VICTOR GLOVER, NASA ASTRONAUT: For me Artemis 1 is exciting, but it's really a stepping stone a milestone to get humans back in the vicinity of the moon and that, that is awesome.

FISHER: Victor Glover is one of more than 40 astronauts in the running to fly on Artemis 2 and Artemis 3, which will land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon.

GLOVER: We explore for all people, but now we can actually say we explore with all people.


FISHER: And Vice President Kamala Harris has just announced that she will be attending the launch as well. Erica, a lot can happen between now and Monday. But as of now weather conditions are 70% favorable, and all systems are go for lunch. Erica.

HILL: I'll keep my fingers crossed throughout the week and that the weather holds. Kristin, appreciate it. Thank you. Just a reminder to tune into CNN State of the Union this Sunday morning, Dana Bash will be talking to Democratic senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren and the Democratic nominee for the Ohio Senate seat, Congressman Tim Ryan. Plus, New Hampshire Governor Christie Nuno -- Sununu, pardon me, it's all at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern, It's Sunday morning right here on CNN.


I'm Erica Hill in for Jake Tapper on this Friday. Thanks for joining us. Our coverage continues right now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room.