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Tonight: Deadline For Trump's Lawyers To Respond To DOJ Filing; Residents In Jackson, MS Under Third Day Of State Of Emergency; Nevada Election Deniers Overhaul Ballot Counting Ahead Of November Vote; Ukraine's Second-Largest Power Plant At Risk From Russian Attacks; Millions Of Americans Behind On Utility Bills, Risk Losing Power; Rural, Low-Income Area Schools Struggling To Find Teachers. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 31, 2022 - 16:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST: As one conservative lawyer said, Trump's legal team basically asked the Justice Department to punch them in the face.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Donald Trump's lawyers have only hours left to respond to the DOJ's blockbuster court filing complete with a stunning picture and details about how prosecutors say Trump's team tried to hide classified material to obstruct the FBI investigation.

Then, what happens when election deniers are put in charge of elections? We'll show you this frightening reality where election workers are getting their instructions from conspiracy theories.

Plus, day three without water in Jackson, Mississippi. And the situation is so bad, the hospital does not have air conditioning. But one part of a temporary fix has arrived.


HUNT: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Kasie Hunt, in today for Jake Tapper.

We'll start today with our politics lead. Donald Trump's legal team is on the clock. They have just under four hours to submit their response to a scathing court filing from the Department of Justice which accused the former president of pushing a, quote, incomplete and inaccurate narrative about the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago. The DOJ went on to make an even more damning assertion that it has proof that documents were moved from a storage room at the Florida resort and possibly hidden in an effort to obstruct the FBI's investigation.

The DOJ also filing included a signed letter from a Trump lawyer swearing at the beginning of June that no classified documents were left at the former president's home. That we now know was a lie, given that FBI teams seized more than 100 documents from Mar-a-Lago during the August search.

CNN's Sara Murray starts off our coverage with a closer look at how the Justice Department is refuting the flurry of allegations coming from the former president.


REPORTER: Mr. President --

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Justice Department accusing team Trump of trying to obstruct an investigation to recover government documents from Mar-a-Lago and releasing the first images of documents marked highly classified seized from the former president's office.

PHIL MUDD, FORMER FBI SENIOR INTELLIGENCE ADVISER: The documents are clearly identified, they're sensitive, and the release of them would compromise national security.

MURRAY: In a bombshell filing, DOJ also saying government records were likely concealed and removed from a Mar-a-Lago storage room. And efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government's investigation, laying out a narrative that undercuts claims like these from Trump lawyers.

ALINA HABBA, TRUMP LAWYER: He was cooperating the entire time.

MURRAY: But DOJ says Trump's team only provided a single accordion style envelope of documents in June after subpoenaing them in May for any documents with classification markings. At that June 3rd meeting at Mar-a-Lago, DOJ says a Trump attorney explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking inside any of the boxes in the storage room, giving no opportunity for the government to confirm no documents with classification markings remained.

A representative for Trump who CNN has confirmed was a Trump attorney Christina Bobb signing a letter, claiming a diligent search was conducted, and all of the documents were returned. But the Justice Department obtained evident classified documents still remained at the Florida resort, including evident showing that boxes had been moved sparking the August search at Mar-a-Lago.

CHRISTINA BOBB, TRUMP LAWYER: They were looking for documents, evidence of a crime.

MURRAY: But investigators walked away with a trove of evidence, writing in the filing that the FBI in a matter of hours recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the, quote, diligent search that the president's counsel had weeks to perform, calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3rd certification and cast doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter.

SHAN WUN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: What they're showing so far is very strong evidence that there was a cover-up.

MURRAY: Investigators found over 100 unique documents with classification markings and seized them not only from the storage room but also Trump's office, including three documents located in the desks in the 45 office. ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Three documents were found not

in the storage room that DOJ said, hey, keep everything here, but in a desk in Donald Trump's office. I think that's really telling.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, the Trump team has until 8:00 p.m. to respond to this bombshell filing we got from the Justice Department, and this fight over whether there should be a special master to review all this material that was seized from Mar-a-Lago carries on. There's going to be a hearing on that in Florida tomorrow, Kasie.


HUNT: Sara Murray, thanks so much for that reporting.

Let's discuss now with CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins and former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara who was removed from his post in a mass firing by President Trump back in 2017.

And, Mr. Bharara, let me start with you. I want to start with what you have told us what you think is one of the most consequential pages of this filing, and that's the document that was signed by Trump lawyer Christina Bobb where she swears that, quote, a diligent search was conducted off the boxes that were moved from the White House to Florida and any and all responsive documents accompany this certification.

We know now this is not true. The FBI did find dozens more classified documents after this letter was signed. Is this perjury or obstruction? What is it?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It could be many things. I think that's the linchpin here. When the affidavit was unsealed in heavily redacted form, I was a little disappointed and curious as to why we didn't hear confirmation of the reporting from "The New York Times" that there had been such a sworn certification by a lawyer for Donald Trump, if everything had been returned. Now we have it as a matter of public records, and that tells you a lot.

You know, some of the stuff is complicated. But some of it is not. And basically, the narrative is that the former president was given a lot of accommodation, and people were patient with him about returning documents. He and his team said we'll return the documents that are being requested pursuant to subpoena. There's a certification that was done, and that was found out to be false when they finally went in with a search warrant with the approval of a judge.

That's clear obstruction on its face. A layperson can understand, and a jury if one is convened in the future on this matter for the former president or anyone else, would be composed of laypeople and they understand they made an agreement. They said it was done. It wasn't done. It speaks for itself.

Now, there's some out for the person potentially who signed the certification, the lawyer. Because in that declaration, it says based on information that was provided to me, so the person is not saying they had personal information or they did the inspection, or they did the due diligence and looked through the closets and boxes and drawers, but that someone else told her that was so.

And the key question is, is that so? Is it based on other people's representations and who made those representations and were they false, and was one of those people Donald Trump himself?

HUNT: Oh, excellent questions.

And, Kaitlan, to that point, what more do we know about Christina Bobb, that's the person, the Trump lawyer who signed this document?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: She's been in court at times for Trump, but mostly when you look at the documents, the filings that have been happening in actual court, it's not her name on them. She's often the one going on television, who is making the former president's arguments there when it comes to ever since the search happened, but when it comes to this, this is actually the first look we have gotten at the document. We knew that it existed. We knew that someone had attested to the fact they claimed they had turned over all the classified information at that June meeting.

And so, of course, the other key part of this and what Preet was referencing there was what I have heard from Trump sources, it says to the best of my knowledge. It says they did a diligent search, basically trying to argue they did look into the best of her knowledge she's attesting to this fact.

I should note that Christina Bobb's name was actually redacted when you look at this filing, but we are told she is the one who was the custodian of the records. She is the one who signed that statement saying that.

So it does raise questions about who told her that was all the classified information and whether or not the Justice Department is looking at that. They seem to be saying obviously, you know, what happened when the search happened and they found over 100 classified documents there, shows that statement was false.

But what stood out more to me is where it said when they went to the storage room at Mar-a-Lago on June 3rd, these are the federal investigators who are meeting with Trump's attorneys, they said they were explicitly prohibited from opening or looking inside these boxes to make sure that there wasn't any more classified information in them. And obviously, they find more classified information there. So, I think that is a key question as well for the Trump attorneys.

HUNT: Yeah. For sure.

Preet, the Justice Department writes in its filing, quote, the government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the storage room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government's investigation.

You're a former prosecutor. How would the Department of Justice be able to prove that this happened?

BHARARA: Well, we know from among other things they asked for surveillance footage. They went in there once. The implication is that they weren't allowed to look in certain places.

In the first instance, they looked in some spots and then they went back under the blessing of the search warrant, as you can draw inferences about what was in some places in the first occasion and in the second occasion and the most compelling thing is testimony. The person who swore that certification will have a decision to make, about whether or not she's going to talk about who made representations to her and what her knowledge and other people's knowledge was about the refusal to allow agents in certain locations and areas and whether or not things had been moved for the purpose of frustrating the investigation and the effort to get back these documents.


And the thing I'm looking most forward to in four hours time when the Trump team's response is due to the brief, is something I haven't heard them address in any way, shape or form so far, and that is how you explain away a certification by a representative of the former president saying everything had been given back and it wasn't. They have clever distractions and diversions with respect to some things going on, including the picture we mentioned earlier, but I would like to hear a clear and concise for the record in court explanation as to how that could be proper.

HUNT: Speaking of that photo, Kaitlan, the very last page of the filing is the photo, this was taken by investigators at Mar-a-Lago. And most of us have not handled classified information before.

I found this extremely interesting. Those brightly colored pages are classified document cover sheets that tells the person who is reading the document just how sensitive it is. Apparently, Donald Trump extraordinarily unhappy that this photo was included.

Why is he unhappy about it?

COLLINS: I think it's clear, because this is a really lengthy filing that came out from the Justice Department late last night. It is dozens of pages. It's a lot to read through, a lot to process.

That photo, though, is very digestible. When you look at that, it shows the rug at Mar-a-Lago and it's got all these documents placed out on it. You can see on the right, those framed "Time" magazine covers we know adorn the walls of Trump's clubs and his homes.

And so, I think that's the issue for the Trump legal team, is not necessarily what happens in court tomorrow, but the fact people can look at that, a very digestible image, and it shows you there is this information marked top secret there that they gathered when they searched his home, as they tried to frame this as a break-in from Democrats, as you have so often heard the former president put it instead of a search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago by FBI agents. One other thing that stood out is I don't see the word declassified on

the documents anywhere. That's obviously an argument you have seen Trump making himself on social media, talking about it. You can't really ascertain what's in the documents from the cover sheets, but he did argue that he's declassified this, and you don't see that, I don't believe, on any of those documents there.

HUNT: Certainly not obvious. It's such good point that for the Trump team, which often makes more of a political than a legal argument, that is a very politically potent image there.

Kaitlan Collins and Preet Bharara, thank you both so much for being with us today.

BHARARA: Thank you.

HUNT: Is Jackson, Mississippi, the next Flint, Michigan? There is not even enough bottled water in Mississippi's largest city as the state scrambles to fix the water problem.

And 70 kids in one classroom with just one teacher. A look at the reality of soaring teacher shortages across the country.



HUNT: In our national lead, the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, appears far from over, even as a temporary pump is being installed right now at the city's main water treatment plant. Residents who can't drink the water, bathe in the water, or even flush their toilets wait in hours' long lines for bottled water.

As Ryan Young reports, businesses and schools are closed, all of this amid intense heat.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's horrible. And I would like it to be fixed. Please fix our water.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Car lines for bottled water in Jackson, Mississippi, as the water crisis continues into its third day, still affecting most of the city of 150,000 people.


YOUNG: The main water treatment facility in Jackson failed, leaving homes, schools, and businesses without running water, forcing schools, some restaurants, and government buildings to temporarily close.

And on this hot football field, these mothers not only worried about their children's education. They are also worried about their hydration and health. NATASHA TAYLOR, JACKSON RESIDENT: I'm a parent of two kids. Even if

you're not a parent, it's been a lot because we all got jobs, we go to work.

GERBERRA TOWNSEND, JACKSON RESIDENT: Fever, headaches, they got chills, all of that. I traced everything back to it was the water.

YOUNG: Some good news. The mayor's office told CNN a new water pump is getting installed today and the White House says the mayor spoke to President Joe Biden today about federal assistance after the president approved the governor's request for a major disaster declaration.

MAYOR CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA (D), JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI: We believe and are optimistic we could see water restored to our residents within this week, but there is a huge mountain to climb in order to achieve that end.

YOUNG: The mayor says the water system has been troubled for years and it could take at least $1 billion to improve it. He says the fault should be, quote, shared across the board through leadership on every level.

LUMUMBA: This is the accumulation of years and years of accumulated problems. Challenges that we have been lifting up for the better part of, you know, three to four years.

YOUNG: One state representative hopes this crisis will bring change.

REP. DE'KEITHER STAMPS (D), MISSISSIPPI STATE HOUSE: Hopefully, we'll direct support from the White House, we'll be able to get the resources necessary to put the repairs in place to stabilize the systems.

YOUNG: Repairs that can't come fast enough for some residents.

VICTOR MARTINEZ, JACKSON RESIDENT: It's very frustrating to have to fight for some water.

KRUZ LONG, YOUTH FOOTBALL COACH: Jackson has to do something about this. What about the kids? What about the community, what about the people? I mean, somebody has to do something.


YOUNG (on camera): Yeah, Kasie, we just found out the mayor is holding a news conference talking about the new pump has been installed so they should have more water pressure this evening. But just to tell you how desperate some folks are for this water, that first car right there lined up at 1:00 local to get water at this water distribution site that doesn't start getting served here until 5:00. They're only going to get 24 bottles of water. Look at this line, as you look at it, people have been lining up for hours. Some sitting here for two and three hours hoping not to be some of the folks who were here yesterday who didn't get any water.

So, as you keep looking at this, this goes for as far as the eye can see.


At one point, it looked like maybe even half a mile down the road here. People that desperate for water, especially because they have to brush their teeth, they have to use this water every single day. And there's really no end in sight except we found out now there should be some water pressure, but some people say they won't trust it anymore -- Kasie.

HUNT: Just a devastating scene in an American city. Ryan Young in Jackson, Mississippi, thanks very much for that report.

What happens when conspiracy theories are used to determine election policies? A look at the threat to democracy already playing out in some parts of the country.



HUNT: In our politics let, fewer than ten weeks before the midterm elections where election deniers in key battleground states could find themselves in control. On Saturday, Michigan Republicans nominated two Trump-backed election deniers for key state-wide offices. In Arizona, CNN found the far right secretary of state nominee kept a treason watch list. And in Pennsylvania, the GOP candidate for governor was also a key figure in Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 election.

CNN's Kyung Lah went to Nevada where two 2020 election deniers have already changed the way the 2022 midterm ballots will be counted.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the thinly populated desert a few hours outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, sits Nye County where 2020 election lies are now a tenant of their faith.

When Donald Trump says that he believes he won the 2020 election, what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm with him. I'm with him, definitely.

LAH: These voters ushered in Mark Kampf, the brand new Nye County clerk.

MARK KAMPF, NYE COUNTY, NEVADA CLERK: That's right. I'm the doer when it comes to that.

LAH: He is overhauling how ballots are counted in Nevada's midterm in charge of the county's midterm election. But in a debate earlier this year, he said this.

KAMPF: I believe that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.

LAH: You still believe that? KAMPF: What I believe as clerk has nothing to do with what I believe

as candidate. You're interviewing the Nye County clerk right now, and as the Nye County clerk, I'm responsible for total impartiality.

LAH: If you don't believe the system was legitimate in 2020 and created an error where 30,000-plus votes were not counted in the state correctly, isn't that problematic?

KAMPF: I don't see it as being problematic at all because I'm trying to increase voter confidence in the election.

LAH: The system Kampf plans to use in November, paper ballots, followed by a hand count. Why? Distrust of machines, driven by 2020 conspiratorial lies about Dominion.

In the election space, the machines that count go through multiple layers of security. They are not connected to the Internet. And this is regulated throughout the country.

KAMPF: That's a perspective. There are a lot of people -- again, the voters in this county don't believe that. And whether it's true or not, their perception is their reality.

LAH: Kampf says he will still use Dominion machines in a parallel count and compare the results.

ATHAR HASEEBULLAH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACLU OF NEVADA: What would seem like a crazy Internet plan seems to be coming to reality and it should be a five-alarm fire for anyone who cares about democracy.

LAH: The ACLU of Nevada says election conspiracy theorists are already running voting in this critical swing state.

HASEEBULLAH: In rural counties in Nevada what we're starting to see is an attempt by fringe elements to really take control of those communities by interfering with democracy.

LAH: What's problematic about hand counting?

HASEEBULLAH: All it's going to do is give them the opportunity to tamper with an election. This is a coordinated machine that's in place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your name, sir?


LAH: Marchant is a Republican nominee for secretary of state. For month, he's been going from rural county to county.

MARCHANT: We're here to recommend that you vote today to dispose of your electronic voting and tabulation machines.

LAH: We caught up with him at one of his many training events where attendees are told various election conspiracies as facts. Tell me about hand counting and your effort in the rural counties.

MARCHANT: Just trying to implement a fair and transparent election.

LAH: What do you think happened in the 2020 election?

MARCHANT: I don't know. And that's the problem.

LAH: What do you say when election officials across the country say that none of this is true?

MARCHANT: I don't believe them. We just differ in opinion. Or differ in, yeah, what we believe. .

LAH: Dozens upon dozens of election officials are wrong, you're saying?


LAH: Marchant nor the Nevada GOP would let us in to listen to his presentation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, the event is closed to the press.

HASEEBULLAH: This is the most dangerous election for democracy, I would imagine, in Nevada probably in history. The playbook is being drafted as it's moving forward. I would say that 2022 in Nevada should be a good mirror of what's to come in a good foreshadowing example of what's to come across the country over the next two to three years.


LAH (on camera): We're talking about rural counties that have smaller populations that are already conservative, but voting rights groups say they absolutely matter, especially when you look at these battleground states where the margins on a lot of these races, whether it's gubernatorial, U.S. Senate, or the presidential, are just very small. These margins are very tight.

That's why Kasie they're watching Nye county. The concern is that this could be upscaled to other battleground states -- Kasie.

HUNT: Kyung Lah, quite a report. Thanks very much for that.

LAH: You bet.

HUNT: Let's bring in CNN political commentaries Bakari Sellers and Jonah Goldberg.

Thank you, guys, both for being with us.


Jonah, let me start with you. I mean, you saw Kyung's reporting right there. If Republicans win the House and other offices fair and square in November, I mean, they still have a chance to do that. How do they then convince voters the results were legitimate after they spent all this time sowing doubt?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that's actually -- it's worth keeping in mind that a lot of these people don't really have a theory of the case of what to do once they have caught the car other than to actually count the ballots. As Kyung pointed out in her report, these counties are likely to go overwhelmingly for a Republican anyway, so if they want to inconvenience themselves to do hand paper ballot counts, it's unlikely that they're going to get some -- anything other than the real vote.

And that's probably a good thing. Cyber Ninjas tried really hard to invent all sorts of theories and they had to admit they couldn't find anything. I'm not trying to condone this or minimize the spread of conspiracy theories and nonsense in the Republican Party, but I don't know the leap has proven that because they buy into this B.S. narrative about the 2020 election, that they are then going to somehow stuff ballots in excess of what the real vote is.

HUNT: Bakari, how do you respond to Jonah and do you think Democrats are doing enough to counter some of this?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that it matters, first and foremost, because even in the rural areas, I mean, if you're a Democrat running in Nevada or wherever it may be, what you want to do is not get beat as bad. So yes, those rural counties do matter. Democrats are paying attention to those counties. I mean, you look at the attorney general of the great state of Nevada who was actually going to these rural counties, meeting with these voters. If there is funny business that's happening, by the hand ballots or if it's two or three votes in this precinct or two or three votes in that precinct by hand counting the ballots, then you have a real big issue because that can sway an election.

This is -- they are fixing a problem that doesn't exist, and I think we have to start with the simple fact that our elections were fair and square. If you see any incidents of election fraud, most times it was by individuals voting Republican in their particular communities. We still have these election deniers who have major roles in implementing democracy, and that should scare everybody. Are Democrats doing enough? That's a question for the department of justice.

I have faith in Merrick Garland. We shall see what he's doing to protect election integrity as we go into November.

HUNT: So speaking of the department of justice, and Donald Trump, he of course is the one that's pushing all of this, this is why these officials are doing this. Sources close to Trump are telling CNN now that the former president is considering waiting until after the midterms to declare a 2024 presidential candidacy. Advisers say if he were to announce Labor Day weekend, the midterms don't go Republicans' way. Then the blame could be on Trump.

What is your take on that calculus and the potential bid coming out of the former president?

GOLDBERG: Well, I actually do think that the re-emergence of Donald Trump sucking up all of the oxygen in the political conversations is one of the reasons why the fortunes for Democrats have improved. And it's probably smart -- I don't want the guy to run, I don't want him to announce at all. But it's probably smart of him to wait until after the midterms at this point because he has now reemerged as the driver and definer of Republican politics and if Republicans have, forget bad, just a disappointing showing in the midterms, which it looks like they're going to do at least in the Senate, there are going to be a lot of people in and out of the party who are going to say, see, this is because Trump came out of his spider hole and grabbed the reins of the party again.

So, I think it's probably smart of him to wait, but I don't know this means in any way he's going to hold off eventually declaring and throwing the Republican Party into another mess.

HUNT: One Republican put it to me, while Trump motivates a significant portion of the Republican base, he motivates all Democrats and many independents to your point.

Bakari, we're also hearing that Trump has started to complain in private about the Pennsylvania Senate candidate that's of course Mehmet Oz, and Georgia's Senate candidate, Herschel Walker and their bad press.

Listen to part of this new attack ad against Walker down in Georgia. Watch.


AD ANNOUNCER: Herschel Walker has repeatedly threatened to kill his ex-wife. He held a razor to her throat and threatened to kill her. He's accused of choking her until she passed out. He threatened to shoot out with police outside her home. Look up the public records yourself.


HUNT: Very tough. Republicans responded today saying the ad, quote, stigmatizes mental health.


How do you think this attack plays into the strategy here as Georgia Democrats try to keep the seat from Raphael Warnock?

SELLERS: That is terrible spin on their part. I mean, it's domestic violence, not stigmatizing mental health. They don't have -- Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves. These are Donald Trump's hand-picked candidates.

This reminds me of the time when you had Todd Akin and you had the young lady who kept saying she wasn't a witch in Delaware. Republicans had a chance to take back the Senate, but they failed to recruit candidates that are mainstream enough and actually have good common sense, and are not domestic abusers.

The ad is fair game, it's public record. The spin that it stigmatizes mental health, they have to come tougher than that.

HUNT: Thank you both. Jonah and Bakari, for being with us today.

Coming up here, nuclear inspectors have arrived in a war zone to prevent a nuclear disaster.


HUNT: In our world lead, it's not just the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia at risk in Ukraine. The country's second largest nuclear facility is also in the line of fire.

CNN's Sam Kiley got exclusive access to the plant and reports on how the constant fear of a devastating Russian attack.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ukraine's second largest nuclear power station is under Russian missile threat, even as warnings of a nuclear disaster are causing international horror at its largest plant.

There's just been a dramatic air raid siren. Do you know what threat was then?

IHOR POLOVYCH, DIRECTOR GENERAL, SOUTH UKRAINE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT (through translator): Yes, we received information from the military that the air raid alert was for the danger of flying larger missiles by aircraft.

KILEY: Can we carry on or do we have to go down again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There are planes over Crimea with guided missiles onboard. Nobody knows where they will fly.

POLOVYCH: Down again?

KILEY: So, the director has said they got information that aircraft have been seen in Crimea. They're in this province or heading in this direction, so they pose an immediate threat. This is something that happens several times a day, very often they say the sirens are almost back to back.

The director is told that the Russian aircraft crossing the Dnipro have filed missiles. Ukraine's military are tracking them, trying to figure out if his nuclear power station is the target. This monitor shows the background radiation remains normal. Working in this bunker has become a new normal for the teams running the south Ukraine nuclear power plant. The maintenance of Ukraine's four power plants and 15 nuclear reactors is stressed.

POLOVYCH: Part of the factory that produced spare parts were bombed by Russian army. At the moment, there is nowhere to make some type of spare parts.

KILEY: And Russia has stored army trucks in Zaporizhzhia's turbine hole. It's identical to south Ukraine's turbine. Both use highly explosive nitrogen as a coolant, fire here could be disastrous and Russia is accused of shelling the plant, which it denies.

This man worked at Zaporizhzhia under Russian occupation but fled in June.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Russians shoot at the territory of the plant, whereas a storage facility for solid waste, where the dry facility for nuclear fuel is.

KILEY: At least three Russian missiles have been recorded flying over the south Ukraine plant. Back above ground, the director is amazed by Russia's threats to Ukraine's nuclear industry.

POLOVYCH: They were so smart, they shelled the nuclear power plant. Either the military was not aware of the danger or they did it on purpose.

KILEY: But as this plant generates 10 percent of Ukraine's electricity and Zaporizhzhia up to 20 percent, there's no wonder that both are such tempting targets.


KILEY (on camera): Now, the International Atomic Energy Agency has arrived in Zaporizhzhia city. That's under the control of the Ukrainians, hoping to get into the Russian held territory, hoping to get into investigate what is really going on in Europe's biggest nuclear power station amid claim and counterclaim about who has been shelling it and what really the dangers there are of a nuclear meltdown.

HUNT: All right. Sam Kiley in Ukraine, thanks very much for that report.

And up next, this is not normal. Natural gas prices are up 525 percent from 2020. What this means for winter.



HUNT: In our money lead, as scorching temperatures and record breaking heat sweep across the country, Americans are paying more than ever to cool their homes. Energy bills are up an average of $100 over last year, further burdening many families already struggling to make ends meet amid soaring inflation.

But as CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich reports, some relief could be on the way.



Blom-Westbrook has multiple sclerosis, this time of year, the heat makes it unbearable.

BLOM-WESTBROOK: There will be days when I can't even get out of bed because the pain is extreme. Fortunately, we have air-conditioning. But that has side effects too.

YURKEVICH: What are those side effects?

BLOM-WESTBROOK: Extremely high bills.

YURKEVICH: The cost for Americans' electricity, gas, and water is through the roof, paying $90 more to cool their homes this summer than last year. 20 million American households are behind on their utility bills. The balance is the highest on record.

BLOM-WESTBROOK: Missed a payment, next thing you know, the power was off.

YURKEVICH: It took her two weeks to get the power back on after her Baltimore rental home in June. She owed nearly $1,000.

BLOM-WESTBROOK: They wanted $800. We didn't have that available.

YURKEVICH: She sent her two sons to grandma's house as she and her husband applied for Maryland utility aid, made available through federal funding.

BLOM-WESTBROOK: My husband and I were living out of coolers.

YURKEVICH: You lost all the food. How much money was that down the drain?


BLOM-WESTBROOK: Probably $1,000.

YURKEVICH: The aid was approved and now with the power back on, so is the air conditioning. With that, the bills are rising again.

MARK WOLFE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEADA: Energy inflation is leading inflation overall. This is not normal.

YURKEVICH: The price of natural gas is up about 500 percent since 2020. That and extreme heat throughout the country have pushed costs up.

WOLFE: We're seeing numbers for middle income families go higher. And many of those families also are in very tight budgets.

YURKEVICH: There could be some relief down the line. The Inflation Reduction Act has $9 billion in energy rebates and additional tax credits for Americans aiming to lower utility bills. But now, as summer ends, winter heating bills will start up.

BLOM-WESTBROOK: It's like three steps forward and two steps back.

YURKEVICH: Another month, another bill, and another looming shut-off notice. Blom-Westbrook estimates even with the utile aid she received, the family will owe at least $500 at the end of this month, pushing their budget to the limit. They have until October to come up with the money.

BLOM-WESTBROOK: I live with pain all the time. So I'm used to it, and I deal with it. But the emotional pain, that was pretty bad. It's not something I want my children ever to have to deal with again.


YURKEVICH (on camera): And as we move from summer cooling costs winter heating costs, it's looking like more of the same if these natural gas prices stay elevated. Experts are estimating that U.S. households can expect to spend $127 more to heat their homes this year compared to last year. Just goes to show, Kasie, that inflation is still very much with us, hitting American families on prices across the board -- Kasie.

HUNT: Indeed it is. Vanessa Yurkevich, thanks very much for that report.

One teacher, one classroom, 70 students. A critical teacher shortage hitting America.



HUNT: In our national lead, it is back-to-school time across the U.S., but many school districts don't have enough teachers. Many educators say stagnant wages and increasing politicization are driving them from the classroom. First Lady Jill Biden convened a meeting at the White House today calling for teacher pay to be boosted, to help school districts fill the growing vacancies.

And as CNN's Gabe Cohen reports, the shortage is forcing schools to cram students into overcrowded classrooms.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the bell rings at Casa Grand Union High School, more than 70 sophomores pile into Stacy Brady's biology class.


COHEN: This rural district outside Phoenix can't find enough certified teachers, especially for math and science. So 13 classes are doubled up like this. Some get an assistant. Others rely on a single teacher.

What has it been like? BRADY: To me, very chaotic. I wish I could clone myself because I

can't get to every kid who needs help.

COHEN: Have you ever seen a shortage this bad?


COHEN: Jennifer Kortsen works with the district.

KORTSEN: We have it posted. We have gone to job fairs, and there's simply no teachers out there to be had right now.

COHEN: After two years of COVID and tense public scrutiny, teacher burnout is surging nationwide.

JENNIFER ZANARDI, FORMER TEACHER: There weren't enough hours to do everything they wanted us to do.

COHEN: Jennifer Zanardi quit her Florida high school for a corporate job, saying salary was a factor, but the political pressure was the tipping point.

ZANARDI: The public was actually saying that teachers were trying to indoctrinate students. It affected my mental health and my stress, in a huge way.

COHEN: And as enrollment in teacher preparation programs plummets, schools are competing for a shrinking pool of teachers. And wealthier suburban districts are winning out. So even as the federal government pumps billions in relief funds into districts, many rural schools send those with low income students and students of color are struggling to find staff.

CHAD ALDEMAN, POLICY DIRECTOR, EDUNOMICS LAB: They're not going to the schools that are the most disadvantaged.

COHEN: In Prince George's County, Maryland, where there's a high concentration of poverty, at least 8 percent of the district's teacher slots are vacant, more than twice as many as last year.


COHEN: Geva Hickman-Johnson, a high school English teacher, just found out she'll need to prep lessons for subs in her department.

HICKMAN-JAOHNSON: being pulled in so many different directions I'm not going to be able to focus on the students I'm standing in front of every day.

COHEN: Casa Grand's Elementary School District is one of many that moved to a four-day week to retain staff. Their high schools are looking to hire more teachers from overseas. In some classrooms, paraeducators are teaching lessons prepared by a licensed teacher like Stacy Brady. Do you think the shortage will get worse?

BRADY: I think it will. My biggest fear I think is that some kid is getting hurt in some way, emotionally or physically in the room that I'm not able to see because there's so many students in the room.


BRADY (on camera): Right now, schools nationwide are trying to hire more staff than usual, making it even tougher to fill vacancies in places like Arizona, where teachers make less than in most other states. So while districts like casa grand are trying to get creative to fill those gaps, it's getting harder to avoid packing students into massive classrooms like these -- Kasie.

HUNT: Gabe Cohen, thanks very much for that report.

I'm Kasie Hunt in for Jake Tapper. Thank you so much for being with us this afternoon.

Don't go anywhere. Our coverage continues now with "THE SITUATION ROOM."