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The Lead with Jake Tapper

M.I. County GOP Leaders Caught On Tape Suggesting Poll Workers Break Rules; Bannon To Surrender On Charges Over Border Wall Fundraising; Federal Judge To Rule "Quickly" On Mark Meadows' Fight Against Subpoenas From January 6 Committee; Anti-Defamation League: Oath Keepers' Anti-Government Ideology Has Spread Throughout Mainstream Society; CNN: Republicans Alarmed About Senate Campaign Fundraising Amid Scott's Feud With Mitch McConnell; Politico: Fetterman Commits To Debating Oz In PA Senate Race; CDC Data: Nearly 1 In 4 American Adults Under Age 45 Received Mental Health Treatment In 2021; California's Record-Setting Heat Wave Strains State's Power Grid; Fast-Moving Fairview Wildfire Kills At Least 2 In Southern California. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 07, 2022 - 17:00   ET



PATRICK COLBECK, FORMER MEMBER OF THE MICHIGAN SENATE: There's a lot of bad stuff that's happening in this upcoming election. So, we're going to have to keep our heads on a swivel and just start documenting irregularities.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The poll workers are hired by towns and clerks and Wayne County's Republican chairperson, Cheryl Constantino, tells them they may need to break the rules to uncover fraud.

CHERYL CONSTANTINO, WAYNE COUNTY'S REPUBLICAN CHAIRPERSON: They were told by their trainers that they could not have their phones with them. So I would say maybe just hide it, and maybe hide a small pad and a small pen. You need to take accurate notes.

LARRY LUDTKE, POLL WORKER: If we are observed with a pen and a piece of paper writing at anything, they just said -- they would they would ask us to -- they would remove us.

CONSTANTINO: That's why you got to do it secretly.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): This training for the primary was just practice for the upcoming midterms according to Constantino. And it's not just what's being taught, it's who is doing the teaching.

COLBECK: We think a lot of the monkey business that's happening is happening at the vote aggravation location.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): That is election denier Patrick Colbeck, who co- lead this training session. He's a former state senator who wrote a book called the "2020 Coup" and has a blog filled with debunked conspiracy theories about voting machines. He's spread so much disinformation about the 2020 election.

He got this cease and desist letter from dominion, the voting machine company, saying, "You are knowingly sowing discord in our democracy, all the while soliciting exorbitant amounts of money."

COLBECK: Well, first of all --

GRIFFIN (voice-over): He's appeared on Steve Bannon show and with the "My Pillow Guy," Mike Lindell.

COLBECK: We did see evidence that it was connected to the internet.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): There is no evidence any voting machines were connected to the internet in the 2020 election, but Colbeck is still asking Republican poll workers to check.

COLBECK: There's this little icon down the bottom right hand corner. And what I'm trying to do is to see whether or not these machines are indeed connected to the internet.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Colbeck refused to speak to CNN, but the other leader of the training Cheryl Constantino did.

(on camera): You were training these people to be undercover spies, that was the words you are using. And I'm wondering why?

CONSTANTINO: Well, first of all, if you remember in the election two years ago there were so many problems.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): With election staffing, she said, with who counted ballots. But she's an election denier, too. She filed a baseless lawsuit in Detroit alleging election fraud in 2020. It was thrown out. Why did she tell election workers to act like spies?

CONSTANTINO: To kind of reframe it and make it more fun and interesting. I said that just, you know, instead of causing a bunch of scenes and things like that, just write it down. Just kind of be like spies and let me, you know, let me know what's going on.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): While Michigan's primary election went smoothly --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did nothing wrong.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): -- a poll challenger affiliated with Colbeck and his training was thrown out of Detroit's ballot counting center for repeatedly getting too close to workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told them that they were breaking the law.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): What's happening in Michigan is happening across the nation, attempts are underway to make sure the ultra MAGA run the election process from poll workers all the way up to candidates for secretary of state and attorney general. Trump attorney Cleta Mitchell has led seminars in eight swing states, all under the presumption Democrats cheat. CNN caught up with her in Wisconsin. CLETA MITCHELL, PRO-TRUMP ATTORNEY: We'll be able to make sure that there's another set of eyes going on, watching the ballots, watching the voting, watching the process, knowing what's going on in the election offices.

JEFF TIMMER, SENIOR ADVISER, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: These training sessions are planned chaos. These people are being radicalized.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Jeff Timmer used to lead the Michigan Republican Party.

TIMMER: They think they're saving democracy from the cannibal socialists, where in fact what they're doing is eroding the public's faith in elections.


GRIFFIN: Jake, Michigan secretary of state says their state is ready for any issues that may arise from these partisan training sessions. And the clerks who run the elections can remove anyone violating the rules. But on a more positive note, and there is one here, those same clerks are telling me that most of the distrust of the electoral system is born of ignorance, as we've seen so many times. And when these suspicious workers actually get in there and get their feet wet and see how elections are run, according to the clerk's they generally become believers in this system. Let's hope so, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Let's hope so. Drew Griffin, thanks so much.

I want to bring in the Minnesota Secretary of State, Democrats, Steve Simon. Thanks so much for joining us. What's your reaction to hearing these Republican individuals suggesting that poll workers break the rules for presumably the upcoming midterm elections?

STEVE SIMON, (D) MINNESOTA SECRETARY OF STATE: It is deeply, deeply disturbing. I think CNN is doing a public service here just warning all of us who do elections to be on the lookout for this. I have no problem with any political party or political movement organizing folks to show up to be election judges. In Minnesota, we need 30,000 people to step up and do that. But the rule is you got to leave your politics at the door.

And in Minnesota and in most states, we make our election judges or poll workers literally swear an oath to be fair and impartial. If you can do that, it doesn't matter what your politics are. If you can't, if you throw sand in the gears, if you interfere, if you interrupt, if you disturb, that's a problem and people can and should be removed.


TAPPER: And we should make it clear, there's a difference between partisan poll watchers, which Democrats and Republicans regularly engage in, and that helps build confidence in the process and paid poll workers who are supposed to be nonpartisan while doing their jobs. So you're the top election official in Minnesota, which is regularly a battleground state, what do you see as being the long term effect of this type of training on the ability for states to conduct fair elections? Are you concerned that the public's faith in elections is going to keep being eroded?

SIMON: I am concerned that this is one example among many in the past, and unfortunately, probably several in the future where people are going to try to blur the line that you just mentioned. Poll challengers, as we call them in Minnesota, sometimes observers, hey, that's OK. In Minnesota, every party gets one, not 20, not two, one designated in writing to be eyes and ears of a political party.

But that's a very different role than the person handing out ballots, greeting folks making sure that they can get registered at the polls. And when you blur those lines and you tell people to go in and disrupt and even in your clip to break the law, that is a bridge way too far. That is against the law in Minnesota and I suspect in most states. But it's disturbing that when people would try to blur that line and send people in knowing that they will be at least attempting to break the law.

TAPPER: You heard Drew Griffin report that pro-Trump attorney Cleta Mitchell has led some of these MAGA election trainings in eight different battleground states. For people who don't remember, Cleta Mitchell was one of the figures on the phone in January 2021 with your Republican counterpart in Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, pushing Raffensperger to find, quote unquote, "find enough votes" for Trump to win the state even if they didn't actually exist those votes.

So you're the vice chair of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of state, what are you specifically doing to protect the sanctity of the voting booth from the kind of interference that we keep hearing about and saw in the last election ahead of the November midterm?

SIMON: Well, in Minnesota, it's about putting people on notice about just the kind of tactics you're talking about. Again, I want to make clear any political party political movement, absolutely, sign people up to the vote -- election judges or poll workers. Just make sure that they uphold their oath and uphold the law. So one is just putting people on notice about that.

The other though, which you've got to a couple of minutes ago, is transparency and sunlight are our friend. Over time, I'm not saying in the next few weeks, but over time, we can have an impact by acquainting people with the election system as it really is, whether it's Minnesota, Michigan or any other state. Once people are exposed to that, either as election judges or in any other capacity, they invariably come away impressed. And with a ton more competence, they see how hard it is to get away with misconduct, they see all the checks and balances, they see the layers of accountability and guarantees of trustworthiness. That's the kind of thing we got to get out the word for going forward.

So, this is a long term project. I'm discouraged by your report and what it says about attempts, organized attempts to corrode well or and trust in the system. But I'm confident that over time, we can make sure that fever breaks if we work at it. TAPPER: Plus, of course there are these conspiracy theories about voting machines and fraud that doesn't exist. You're up for reelection this year, your Republican opponent he's called the 2020 election rigged. He has likened changing the rules around voting in 2020 to the September 11 terrorist attacks. How do you respond to these kinds of allegations?

SIMON: Right. Well, they're foolish, they're irresponsible, and they're ultimately really dangerous. We can have all the policy differences we want. That's a good thing. We welcome that in elections in particular. But if we can't agree on the basic fundamental facts of what the system is, forget about what it ought to be and we can have those debates, then we're in real trouble.

And what we're seeing not just from my opponent, but by other is running in other states, and I'd say by, you know, national political leaders that are fanning these flames is we're seeing an attempt to spread disinformation. You mentioned Cleta Mitchell, I'd call her a super spreader of disinformation along those lines. That's the dangerous part, people who are willingly and knowingly spreading false information about what the system is, that's the problem.

TAPPER: Minnesota Secretary of State, Steve Simon, thanks so much for your time today.

Coming up, even a pardon from Donald Trump cannot completely protects Steve Bannon from his latest legal troubles.

Plus, with just about two months until the midterm elections, top Republicans are turning their fire upon one another, and it's all about the money. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Continuing with our politics lead, new legal trouble for Trump ally and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, Bannon is expected to surrender to authorities in New York tomorrow morning to face state charges related to his fundraising effort to build a wall along the southern U.S. border. Not surprisingly, Bannon denies doing anything wrong.

CNN's Kara Scannell is in New York.

Kara, Bannon once faced federal charges related to the border wall scheme. President Trump ultimately pardoned him. So listen (ph) on what charges Bannon is facing now from the state of New York.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the state charges are expected to be very similar and mirror the conduct that Bannon was charged by federal prosecutors. And as you remember, Bannon was arrested on the yacht of a Chinese billionaire in August 2020. Federal prosecutors charged him with defrauding donors in a crowd fundraising effort to fund the construction of a wall along the southern U.S. border. Prosecutors say Bannon and his coconspirators raised $25 million, but secretly diverted about a million dollars of that to cover their personal expenses.

Now, Former President Donald Trump pardoned Bannon on his final days in office, but a presidential pardon does not affect state charges. And because Bannon was charged but his case never went to completion, he didn't plead guilty, he didn't, you know, go to trial, that prosecutors and former prosecutors tell me, that doesn't mean that he -- it means he doesn't have this issue of double jeopardy like we saw with Paul Manafort.


So, after the presidential pardon, Manhattan District Attorney's office opened an investigation looking into this very same conduct. In June CNN reported that some people in Bannon's inner circle went before the grand jury. And now Bannon is expected to be in court tomorrow here in New York to face these new state charges, Jake.

TAPPER: And what is Bannon have to say about all this?

SCANNELL: Well, Bannon is -- he issued a statement last night calling these charges phony, saying they're "nothing more than a partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system." He says, "They're coming after all of us, not only President Trump and myself. I am never going to stop fighting. In fact, I've not yet begun to fight. They will have to kill me first."

An attorney for Steve Bannon told me that he is expected to plead guilty tomorrow when he's in court and reigned on these new state charges, Jake.

TAPPER: A reasonable statement as always from Mr. Bannon. Kara Scannell, thank you so much.

With us now, Conservative Attorney George Conway.

You're going to have to kill me first, quite a statement.


TAPPER: He enjoys the drama, that is fair to say. What do you make of the case itself as a legal matter?

CONWAY: You know, as a legal matter, it just it should be probably just a carbon copy of the federal case. I mean, the federal case alleged in essence that they were making representations to the public and people who are giving -- they were soliciting money from that. A 100 percent of the money would go to building a wall, which wasn't true. They were lining their own pockets. And the federal indictment brought by the Trump Justice Department was very emphatic about that.

And one of the things about committing fraud in the 21st century on nationwide, internet fraud in the 21st century, is you can be charged by the federal government for wire fraud in any Federal District, and you can be charged for state fraud in any state. And so, that's what's happened here. They just went down the street to the, you know -- they're just going down the street at the Manhattan D.A.'s office and they took the same charters and the same people who are being alleged to have been defrauded are -- and by the same people, it's the same case.

TAPPER: Because people -- presumably people --

CONWAY: In New York.

TAPPER: -- in New York aid --

CONWAY: Correct, yes.

TAPPER: -- paid money.

CONWAY: Like the federal, yes, the federal -- yes.

TAPPER: So anyone, any state could do that as long as somebody --

CONWAY: Correct.

TAPPER: -- in that state gave money --

CONWAY: Right.

TAPPER: -- they can do it. Some of Bannon's collaborators have pleaded guilty already in the federal case, which would seem to, again, I'm no lawyer, I don't know, but that doesn't seem to bode well for Mr. Bannon.

CONWAY: No, it doesn't. And I suspect that the state prosecutors have been in touch with the federal prosecutors about getting these people who have pled guilty to testify in the state case, because they could be -- they could -- that can be used to lighten their sentences in the federal court. So, they have every incentive to testify as to what they did. They've already been convicted and they actually could get some leniency.

I don't know that far back. But it would make a lot of sense. So, he's in a lot of trouble.

TAPPER: I do want to get your reaction to the piece that Drew Griffin did in the previous block about the poll workers being trained by MAGA folk like Cleta Mitchell and others, in which we have some suggestion, people are told to, you know, bring in devices that they're not allowed to bring in, break the rules. What do you think of all that?

CONWAY: It's profoundly disturbing. I mean, it's as though the MAGA Republicans are taken to heart what Trump has been saying that has been apocryphally attributed to Stalin that what matters is who counts the votes and not who votes and that's -- it's just incredibly disturbing. Not only are they setting themselves up to -- setting up the possibility of malfeasance by people manipulating the vote, but also the ability to make false -- more false accusations about the election process by putting these people there. And if they are thrown out for violating the rules by using their cell phones or their pens and paper, they're going to get thrown out and they're going to pretend that they're victims and they're going to make false accusations that they were thrown out as part of the conspiracy.


CONWAY: It's just very disturbing and undermines -- greatly undermines the process and the public's confidence in it.

TAPPER: Mark Meadows' legal team is in court today challenging the House Select Committee investigating January 6, challenging their subpoena. The first hearing held in the case, and the judge promised a quick decision. But midterm election is coming up, really just in a matter of days, presumably, House Republicans who only need to flip like five or six seats will recapture the House of Representatives and kill the January 6 committee. Essentially as meadows and other Trump allies have they run out the clock on cooperating with the January 6 investigation?

CONWAY: It's quite possible that they have because one way or the other we think that -- I mean, I think it's reported that the January 6 committee is going to finish up by the end of the year, no matter what. Maybe if the Democrats hold the House, maybe they'll continue. But fundamentally, they have run out the clock. But the fact of the matter is he's produced all these e-mails and we've got all this other testimony about what happened at the White House.

And Cassidy Hutchinson, Pat Cipollone, and all these people have testified about what happened at the White House. And we have a very, very good venture thanks to January 6 committee about what happened that day.

TAPPER: One of the groups, many of whose members have been indicted for seditious conspiracy that day are the Oath Keepers, far right paramilitary group. The anti-Defamation League has published an analysis of the 38,000 names on the membership list for the Oath Keepers. The ADL reports, quote, "Review of these membership lists revealed that while there are many members of law enforcement, military, and first responders in the membership rolls, there are also elected officials, government employees, teachers, religious figures, and businessmen, among others."


I mean, I am sure that there are plenty of people out there who would say, yes, this extremism has been mainstream for a long time, we're just now waking up to it. What do you think?

CONWAY: It is a problem? I mean, the fact of the matter is, it's not just -- I mean, it's hitting mainstream America that this kind of extremism, people are trying to make false election charter, they make -- they're threatening violence, and it's just very disturbing, particularly to the number of, I think, there were 300 law enforcement officers that were -- who were on the list, and that's very disturbing.

I mean, it raises questions that continue to be raised as we saw with the George Floyd situation where, you know, do we -- are we properly screening law enforcement officers? But again, it's -- the fact is that we're seeing people from all walks of life should they show up on January 6 and they're showing up on these lists. It's just very disturbing.

TAPPER: All right, George Conway, thank you so much. Always good to see you. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, Pakistan's deadly flood catastrophe, the desperate lengths survivors are going to find dry land just to bury their loved ones. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Earth matters series Pakistan is suffering from floods driven by the climate crisis since June. The floodwaters have taken the lives of more than 1,300 people including 466 children. And now the country's largest lake is overflowing. Once again nearby villagers say they're terrified they're going to drown.

CNN's Anna Coren reports now on the families unable to find enough dry land to bury the dead. A warning I have for you, some viewers might find this report disturbing.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Immeasurable box is pulled through the floodwaters. What's in the box ask the bystander, a dead body replies a man.

They open the lid and show the body of a man crammed in. The family doesn't have money for a funeral, he explains. There is no place to bury the dead. That is how bad the situation is. They continue to hold the makeshift coffin through the brown murky water searching for higher ground to bury the corpse.

In another district, a group of villagers drag a makeshift raft with another man's body through the floodwaters. We came across an official with a tractor says a man looking distressed. We requested help to transport the body but he denied. There is no ambulance, no support by anyone.

As Pakistan's catastrophic floods continue to inundate 1/3 of the country, the province of Sindh in the country South East is now bearing much of the brunt of this climate change induced disaster. With the water unable to drain away, there is nowhere to give the dead a dignified burial. Instead, these villages hold a funeral procession for their relative in the very waters that claimed his life.

Pakistan's unprecedented monsoonal rains that have been falling since June have affected at least 33 million people across the country. That's 15 percent of the population. Millions have been displaced, having lost their homes and crops in the floodwaters. And the government and aid agencies are struggling to provide enough food, medical care and shelter to those who've lost everything. The ferocity of the flash floods has been the biggest killer. More than 1300 people have died, 1/3 of them children, including a three day old baby girl whose family tried to escape their home as the water almost reached the ceiling.

PETER OPHOFF, IFRC PAKISTAN: The wife had the baby in her hands and just at the end, she couldn't hold it because the water was too strong and the baby swept away. They found the baby but unfortunately baby died.

COREN (voice-over): For the people living near Lake Manchar, Pakistan's largest freshwater lake, a looming disaster supposedly averted has come at a very high price. Officials were forced to breach it to reduce dangerously high water levels, but 10s of 1000s of villagers downstream have now been left homeless and further flooding is still expected.

It destroyed our crops and houses, no one informed us it was happening, no one warned us, explained this farmer tending to his cattle barely keeping their heads above water.

The village is submerge, there is no way to get to our village says this man. Some families are now stranded. We appeal to the government to send rescue teams and help these people. A plea to an already overstretched government grappling to deal with this unprecedented calamity.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


TAPPER: Thanks to Anna Coren for that report.

Could a money fight cost the Republicans the Senate in November? The latest chapter of party infighting as the midterm elections tick closer and closer. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Senate Republicans are cash strapped, they say, and anxious about the midterm elections. Multiple sources tell CNN that GOP senators are alarmed at profligate spending by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate's foremost campaign fundraising arm, made more rocky by the head of the PAC Florida Senator Rick Scott and his ongoing feud with Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

And just look at these key races, Democrats are as of now, raising hand over fist compared to Republicans and these key states, Ohio and Arizona and Georgia.

Let's bring in our panel. Ryan, let me start with you. McConnell taking matters into his own hands in a way. He's calling donors beyond his usual list, we're told, asking for money for his personal high spending PAC. So it has enough to shell out for high dollar campaign ads and better run states. Can McConnell fix the problem in time, do you think?


RYAN STREETER, DIRECTOR OF DOMESTIC POLICY STUDIES, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: McConnell is in a really interesting spot right now and in some ways, he's played a role in this. He's been famously anti-agenda. He's -- he never wants his candidates to run on an agenda. And when you live at a time when kind of grievance populism and the Trump style becomes something that energizes voters, you sort of need a bar for candidates.

And an agenda is one really good way to do that, for people to have to debate, to have to describe, to have to defend what they believe. And that's worked for -- he's pointed to elections in the past, but that's worked before, but it's not working right now. And so the -- we've seen, you know, some subpar candidates, as he indicated, and maybe a few others as well, that they've had to deal with --

TAPPER: Maybe.

STREETER: And -- maybe. So I've heard. And at the same time, you know, Biden's agenda has -- is often not as popular as gets reported. I mean, we can just look at polling results. There's a lot for Republicans to actually work with there to counter and to put forward new ideas and they've chosen this other way. And I think they're -- I think that's part of the reason they're paying a price for this right.

TAPPER: That's interesting. Chris, Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dr. Oz, he deflected --


TAPPER: -- when asked if McConnell should be the majority leader, other pro-Trump Senate nominees from the Republican Party have called for McConnell to be ousted. Do you think this is all bark and no bite if Republicans whether or not they take control of the Senate, I guess?

Yes, I think I do. These sorts of pledges that Blake Masters in Arizona said that Mitch McConnell was bad at legislating JD Vance said he was sort of lukewarm on McConnell. The nominee in other states have said similar things. I think when the rubber meets the road, oftentimes these pledges go out the window. And I think part of the reason is because it's not Mitch McConnell versus your ideal guy who -- or gal who is that other alternative. It's Mitch McConnell versus probably no one.

I know we talked about --

TAPPER: Not even Rick Scott?

CILLIZZA: Well, I was going to say, we talked about Rick Scott, the Florida Senator. I know Donald Trump has encouraged him to do so. I think Rick Scott has his eye on Donald Trump's old job, not necessarily wanting to be the senate minority, definitely not wanting to be the Senate Minority Leader. TAPPER: Yes.

CILLIZZA: Probably not wanting to be the Senate Majority Leader. And I think honestly, Jake, even if Rick Scott did run against Mitch McConnell, I've been covering this stuff long enough to stop betting against Mitch McConnell when it comes to fights within the Republican conference. He knows his --


CILLIZZA: -- conference well. I'd be skeptical if you saw a Senator JD Vance or a Senator Blake Masters if they get there voting against McConnell. They're already starting to walk back some of those pledges, sorry.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: And McConnell knows the game, right? He knows that these candidates have to do what they need to do to win. So no hard feelings there. He's not mad if they're sort of distancing themselves from him.

CILLIZZA: That's right.

MCKEND: And, you know, when it comes to, you know, November, though, they will likely probably support him. But, you know, the calculus right now is that if you're trying to turn up the Republican vote, being aligned with McConnell was not helpful.

TAPPER: Let's turn to my favorite Senate race, which is the one in my home Commonwealth between Dr. Oz and Lieutenant Governor Fetterman. I know you've covered it. Today we saw as appearing alongside his former Republican primary rival David McCormick. And then, Kirsten, the Fetterman campaign tells politico that he will do a debate with Dr. Oz.


TAPPER: There's been some questions about whether or not he would do that, because he's still recovering from that stroke. The campaign is discussing accommodations for his hearing issues because of the stroke. What do you make of it?

POWERS: Well, I think it's good that they've said that, and because it is a fair attack, I think to be coming from Dr. Oz. And he and Pat Toomey also came out and said basically, you know, are you not coming to debate because of your stroke? And are there some issues that you have -- you know, some people say this is dirty politics. But I have to say, I think it's a valid question.

Their answer is no, that has nothing to do with it. They've committed to doing some sort of debate in October if they've said. So I think that it's important for Fetterman to do this.

TAPPER: And what do you think because you've seen him -- you've seen Fetterman up close and personal campaigning, and he's still recovering. And look --

MCKEND: Right.

TAPPER: -- people do recover from these strokes. He's relatively young, but it was -- it's tough for him to get out sentences sometimes.

MCKEND: It is. And, you know, it is important for every candidate to debate, right? I think the voters are owed that much. And if you're running for the awesome job of becoming United States Senator, you should be able to debate. The thing I think, though in this race, is that Oz is saying that he is going to use the debate to show Pennsylvanians who the real John Fetterman is, and I just think that is an overstatement in sort of a gross miscalculation.

Pennsylvanians already know who John Fetterman is. This idea that a debate is going to reveal that he's too radical for the state. He's traveled the state in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor running on legalizing marijuana.


When you speak to people at his rallies, they've known him from his time as mayor of Braddock. I'm just not sure this debate is going to be all that revelatory if and when it does happen.

CILLIZZA: I sort of agree. And I think you have to be careful with your eyes to freight the debate with so much meaning. That well -- if everything doesn't turn on this one debate, then it's over for him. I think Fetterman will probably go into that debate with a lead. I think he has a lead now.

The one thing I'll say -- I want to back up Kirsten's point. Two and a half months, Fetterman didn't campaign.


CILLIZZA: I mean, it's not an insignificant amount of time, basically, from the time of the primary mid-May until August, mid-August, he wasn't on the campaign trail at all. It's not an -- I don't think it's outside the bounds of campaign politics to say, this is a guy who should debate, this is a legitimate question. If he gets out there, and it does perfectly fine. Then we say, OK, you know, he passed that test, but it is a test he should pass given that there are only 100 senators, every state only gets two.

POWERS: Yes. But to your point about, you know, be careful what you wish for, because --


POWERS: -- this person who hasn't been campaigning for the last couple of months, is also -- is actually leaving --


POWERS: -- in the race.

TAPPER: Yes. It's narrow (INAUDIBLE).

POWERS: Yes. But still, the fact that you have a person who had a stroke, and who is actually, you know, leading how via -- by however small and margin shows that Dr. Oz is not particularly popular, because this would be something that, you know, would typically cause concern to, you know, to voters.

TAPPER: I know you're not a Democrat, but how would you -- it seems to me there's an obvious way to do it, which is address it up front. I had a stroke, like, you'll have a lot of health issues. This is not going to go as clearly -- you know, this probably won't go as well as it will in six months or a year. But here I am, something like that, right?

STREETER: Really. I mean, the people want to be sympathetic, they can be brought into a sympathetic place. And he's doing really well with Democrats. Oz is doing better than you would think with independents. Oz struggling with Republicans, that's his problem. His Republican coalition hasn't really come together. And so that's his biggest problem. And so --

TAPPER: Why do you think that is?

STREETER: Maybe because of all the criticisms that have been leveled against him kind of questioning just where he's coming from. You know, to the earlier point, I mean, he's been talking about a whole bunch of different things. I think he's just -- he's never been able to really build that coalition very well, give a persuasive message. He's been the carpet baker, all those sorts of things.

I think Fetterman will generate a lot of sympathy by just being honest about who he is, and probably grow his support among independents that he needs to grow with.

MCKEND: Yes, again, I think from the sense that I get out there when I speak to people is that there are some people that don't even agree with him on policy that are going to vote for federal news because they like him. They're familiar with him from his days in Braddock.

One man told me that he was the dead of winter and he was knocking on doors late at night to make sure people had heat, right? And he's more -- struck me as a conservative, but he still said that he supported Fetterman. So that is just the -- that is a huge hurdle for us who no shade, but up until recently was in New Jersey to overcome.

TAPPER: I do want to say though, Chris, I mean, like, there's still, I mean, I wouldn't call it a red wave coming but it's still like --


TAPPER: -- generally speaking, probably going to be a Republican leaning year. And wonder if we're not taking enough of that into account.

CILLIZZA: So I think that you have to give history it's due, right? In -- virtually every election, but two, the one after Bill Clinton's impeachment and the one after September 11th, right? Two huge cataclysmic events in political history and history in general. The party out of the power in the presidency, lost how seats. And in almost all cases when the President was under 50 percent of job approval, whilst a lot of House seats.

Senate is a --

TAPPER: In power in the White House losses House seats.

CILLIZZA: In power losses House seats.


CILLIZZA: Senate is a little bit more malleable. But yes, history suggests that Republicans will win House seats likely in double digits. Senate, again, a little more up in the air because those races are harder to define. They, you know, there's more money spent on them, the candidates are better known.

The thing I always remind people of, you don't need a wave for Republicans to win back the House. They're only downforce.

TAPPER: Yes, exactly.

CILLIZZA: So the Senate, it's 50-50. You don't need a wave there either. If Republicans net one seat, they're in the majority. So I think that people have to keep that in mind. Doesn't have to be a wave election for Republicans to regain the --

TAPPER: Right, and just take a little baby wave.

CILLIZZA: Yes, a teeny little one.

TAPPER: A little slap.

CILLIZZA: On one hand clap.

TAPPER: All right, thanks, one and all for being here.

During the pandemic, nearly one in four adults received one kind of treatment, that's next.



TAPPER: In our health lead, more American adults are seeking out mental health care in the wake of the pandemic. The CDC says that nearly one in four adults under the age of 45 receive treatment for mental health in 2021. That's a jump of nearly 5 percentage points from 2019.

Let's bring in CNN's Brand-New Medical Correspondent, Dr. Tara Narula. He's a cardiologist and a practicing physician in New York City. Welcome to CNN. We're lucky to have you. Tell us more about the study. DR. TARA NARULA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So thank you, Jake. This was a CDC study that looked at the percentage of American adults from 2019 to 2021. So those pandemic years who received mental health treatment, and by treatment, we're talking about either prescription drug treatment or counseling and therapy. And they found some interesting trends. First of all, there was an increase across all adult populations in the numbers that received mental health treatment.

But the most significant increase, as you mentioned, was in that 18 to 44-year-old population, where it went from about 18.5 percent in 2019, up to about 23 percent in 2021. There were some other interesting trends, Jake, they saw. There was an increase across all parts of the country, metropolitan areas, rural areas.


There were some racial differences, so non-Hispanic whites being the most likely to receive mental health care treatment. And finally, gender differences. So a big difference between men and women across every year. They differed by about 10 percentage points with women really outpacing men. And when you look at 2021, you'll see about 29 percent of women received mental health care treatment, as opposed to about 18 percent of men.

TAPPER: So what's your takeaway from this study?

NARULA: Well, first of all, I think it's reassuring that we're seeing more Americans seek care. And I think the pandemic really opened the door to talking much more about mental health. But truly, I think we're just scratching the surface of the number of Americans that are getting treated, who need treatment. The pandemic challenged us in every way, economically, our social emotional life, our health, and we're just, I think, at the beginning of what we're going to see long lasting effects from the pandemic.

So, you know, I think it's important to really reshape how we look at mental health. Mental health needs to be taken as seriously as we take our physical health. So just because you can't see the scars, the wounds, the trauma, doesn't mean they're not as profound and as important to attack aggressively just like you would with a cancer or heart disease.

Number two, we need to really look at this with a preventive lens. So just like we screen for physical ailments, like with our colonoscopies and mammograms, we got to start thinking about mental health that way. So doing mental health checkups and catching people early before they reach the state of crisis.

And then finally, we need to understand that mental health impacts our physical health. In my cardiology practice, many of my visits are spent really talking to my patients about their mental well-being and explaining that that will impact their risk of cardiovascular disease. So a lot to do here in terms of reframing how we look at mental health. TAPPER: And I assume that one of the reasons that it's believed the -- it's gone up the number in terms of people seeking mental health treatment is because access has improved so much because so many more physicians and psychiatrists are willing to do telehealth on the computer.

NARULA: Absolutely. And I think that's the one kind of silver lining of the pandemic is the real birth of telehealth. And we are seeing many people get access through telehealth and also digital and online platforms. And then I think as I said, it really opened the door to the conversation and taking away the stigma and the shame. And that's so, so important to do.

TAPPER: Dr. Tara Narula, thank you so much. Good to have you again. Congratulations.

NARULA: Thank you.

TAPPER: And if you are looking for help, if you would like to help someone talk with a crisis counselor, don't forget, you can always contact the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline. You can call or text 988 to -- 988 or to chat -- or either do the chat at the 988

Up next, we share what may be the best video of the day. Plus, parts of California are the hottest they've ever been. And now a hurricane could make it harder to cool down. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, bracing for blackouts. A record-breaking heatwave is baking much of the western United States fueling destructive wildfires and threatening rolling power shut offs in California 10 places in that state setting all time high temperature records Tuesday, shattering previous daily records by more than 10 degrees in some cases.

CNN's Natasha Chen joins us now live from just outside Los Angeles. Natasha, how are Californians dealing with the threat to the state's power supply?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, they've been pretty cooperative. We're now talking about the eighth day in a row, that California residents have been asked to conserve energy between 4:00 and 9:00 p.m. Pre-cooling their homes in the daytime and then turning that thermostat to 78 degrees during those peak hours when demand is high. And there's less solar energy to use.

And that seemed to work actually on Tuesday, as you were mentioning, this was the highest peak demand recorded in state history. And everyone got these text alerts that we can show you on screen, saying that, you know, we're at this level just below having to potentially use these rolling blackouts. and people really responded to that. The demand dropped off after those alerts went out. Now we toured this Burbank of power plant behind us just to get a sense of what they've been dealing with. This unit behind us has been running 24/7. There's one that's typically only used when needed, but now is running 16 hours a day. And because of the cumulative effects of this heat wave and not having much cooling overnight, their equipment also has less chance to cool off overnight, Jake.

TAPPER: And then Natasha, the fast-moving Fairview fire in Southern California has already killed two people as it burns in all directions. Tell us how officials feel about that, how concerned they are.

CHEN: Yes, Jake, it's only about 5 percent contained right now. Those two people who were killed were trying to flee the flames. And we are seeing that the flames are approaching a federal land as well. So now they're working with federal partners to try and attack this fire.

A PIO did say during a press conference to warn people who are watching the flames that this is moving so fast that people are not really able to escape the speed of the flames, so not just stand there and watch that happen. The schools there are closed and those warnings and evacuations continue to expand, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Natasha Chen in Burbank, California for us. Thanks so much.

In our sports lead, one for the history books, not long ago with the U.S. Open. That's Frances Tiafoe on a roll, defeating Rush's Andrey Rublev. He's now the first black American man to reach the semifinals since Arthur Ashe in 1972. Tiafoe's victory today came in the same Arthur Ashe stadium named after the tennis Trailblazer. Tiafoe is 24 years old. He's the son of immigrants from Sierra Leon.

Tiafoe will find out later tonight whom he will face on Friday but we're all rooting for him here at THE LEAD.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to THE LEAD from whence you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in the place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM."