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Don Lemon Tonight

Russian Troops Target Odessa; Alex Mooney Projected To Win West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District; Three GOP Running For Nebraska's Primary; President Biden Face Inflation Ahead Of Midterms; Senator Lindsey Graham's View On President Biden Caught On Tape; Younger President Needed In The White House; Donald Trump Found A New Ally In Twitter; Inmate Casey White Back To Jail. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 10, 2022 - 22:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: That's it for us. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now with, of course, Don Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Laura. Have a good one. We get straight to our developing news right now.


And we've got major news on multiple big stories here and around the world. Breaking news this election night, polls are now closed in two primary races that will test just how much of a hold the former president still has over his party.

CNN is projecting that Trump-endorsed Alex Mooney will win the GOP primary in West Virginia's 2nd congressional district, John King at the magic wall for us in just a moment.

And then we also have some more breaking news we need to tell you about.

There is brand-new audio, another top Republican speaking his mind on January 6th. This time, it's Lindsey Graham speaking to New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin right after the attack on the capitol. He says, the country will say that we're better than this. And listen to what he says at the end about Joe Biden.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We'll actually come out of this thing stronger. Moments like this reset. People will calm down. People will say, I don't want to be associated with that. This is a group within a group. What this does, there will be a rallying effect for a while. The country says, we're better than this.


GRAHAM: Totally, he'll be maybe the best person to have, right? I mean how mad can you get at Joe Biden?


LEMON: Sure he has changed his tune. A lot more to come on all of this straight ahead.

And as Vladimir Putin continues his relentless assault on innocent civilians who never wanted war, a chilling warning that things may be about to get much, much worse. The top U.S. spy chief says Putin's war is likely to become, quote, "more unpredictable and escalatory," and this is what that looks like.

Can you believe this is what's left of a shopping mall? That's what it was until Ukraine says a Russian bomber fired three hypersonic missiles at the city of Odessa, leveling civilian targets, much more to come on all of this as well.

So, I want to get to CNN's John King. You saw him preparing at the magic wall just a moment ago. He's got the latest on our election night results.

John, good evening to you. Thanks for joining tonight. Important news here. What are you seeing out of West Virginia's second congressional district? And put this race into context for us, why we're talking about these races tonight.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we're seeing is a thumping, let me pull up a second congressional district here, a thumping by the Trump-endorsed candidate, Republican incumbent Alex Mooney over another Republican incumbent, David McKinley.

This was a match where Donald Trump was against David McKinley because David McKinley voted for the Biden bipartisan infrastructure bill. He was against David McKinley, Trump was, because McKinley voted to form an independent commission to look into January 6th.

Alex Mooney is a member of the House Freedom Caucus. So, you have two Republican incumbents running against each other because of redistricting. West Virginia lost a seat. And Don, this is an 18-point win right now. We're 90 percent of the vote, we're still counting. But CNN has projected this race for Alex Mooney, an 18-point margin right now. It's just unmistakable.

This is one of Donald Trump's best states. He won every county in West Virginia against Joe Biden. This new district, about 60 percent, even a little bit more than 60 percent of it is actually in McKinley's old district, but Alex Mooney is carrying it and carrying it big tonight because of what? The power of the Trump endorsement. The Republican governor was for David McKinley. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin was for Alex Mooney and kind of TV ad for him. But Donald Trump was for Alex Mooney. Alex Mooney winning and winning big.

LEMON: What about Nebraska, John? Polls just closed there. What's at stake tonight?

KING: Let's move out to the governor's race in Nebraska. A number of primaries there, but the governor's race is the one we're watching the most. Let me switch to the governor Republican primary here.

This is a fascinating race so far, don. We've got ways to go. But we're up at about 45 percent. A state senator -- Nebraska has a unicameral legislature, only one body, the state Senate. Brett Lindstrom is the leading candidate right now at 35 percent if you round that up. The Republican establishment candidate is Jim Pillen. He's backed by the incumbent Republican governor. Governor Ricketts in his term limit. He can't run again.

Charles Herbster is the Trump-backed candidate. He's running a distant third right now at just 25 percent if you round that up. But what we're watching play out on the map is really interesting. You see all these rural counties still in gray. We're still waiting for the votes there.

Lindstrom running it up over here. Omaha is where his state legislative district is. Lincoln is where the state capital is where the legislature serves. So, you see over here in the east, Lindstrom is -- that's where all of his lead comes from. You have Pillen and Herbster back out to the west.

The interesting part, Don, most of these small rural counties, I'll just pull up for you here, you know, Herbster winning in this county. But you look at 95 percent, right, 1,000 votes is winning, 650, 125.


These are very small rural counties compared to, if you come here to Douglas County where Omaha is about 30 percent, just shy of 30 percent of the state population just in the Omaha area. So, what we're watching play out here is Lindstrom's base is right here. But about 60 percent of the state population lives right here in the east.

The question is, can the rest of the votes out here in rural Nebraska help either Pillen or Herbster catch up? At the moment, Lindstrom is ahead. We'll keep counting. It would be interesting, though, because the establishment is for Pillen. Trump is for Herbster. Lindstrom is sort of running as the third Republican here, hoping he gets votes where the people live. Maybe it's enough, but we've got a little long way to go to counting.

LEMON: We will be watching, led by Mr. John King. John, we'll check back. Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

I want to turn now to Ukraine where the battle in the Donbas continues to evolve even as Russia hammers cities across the country, a devastating strike in Odessa destroying several buildings overnight.

Joining me now to discuss, CNN military analyst and retired air force colonel Cedric Leighton. Also, at the magic wall for us this evening. Colonel, thank you so much for joining us once again. Good evening to you.


LEMON: The attack in Odessa tonight including -- included three hypersonic missiles. That's according to Ukrainian officials. So, walk us through what this missile can do and why Russia might be using more of them now.

LEIGHTON: Yes. This is really interesting, Don, because it's really not a weapon that you would expect to use in a situation like this. So, this is a very, very fast missile. It travels at the speed -- five times the speed of sound or mac 5 or greater. The other thing is that it can maneuver and evade missile defense systems.

So, this is really key because the key thing here is it really is something that we don't have very many defenses against at the present time because it's possible that it cannot only be difficult to detect, but once it is detected, it can evade the missile systems that are looking at it. It's also the fact that it can go at a far lower trajectory than what is normal for missiles.

So, when you see an aircraft like this one launched a missile like this -- and we'll see this in just a second. It's a -- there's the missile right there underneath this MiG. And once it comes around, it will actually acquire a target, but it can fire, like it does right here, and it will go after the target in a way that is, in essence, a map of the earth navigation capability.

And when it comes out from the aircraft, from underneath the aircraft, the aircraft goes away. The missile takes off, and it finds the target, in this case, this ship. And it goes right in there and actually takes that target out. So, it's very difficult to detect, and it's something that can be really, really hard to go after.

And of course, as we see here, this is what this missile can do in Odessa. It's a really massive destruction. It can both conventional and nuclear warheads. This was a conventional warhead, of course, but it's terrible, a terrible mess for the people that are left to clean up after this.

LEMON: You know, Ukraine says tonight that Russia is diverting troops from the Donbas to the area north, to an area around Kyiv. At least 500 troops so far. Local officials have suggested that Russia is trying to protect supply lines. Why could be we -- why are we seeing this shift here? Could that be the shift that we're going to see that's going to perhaps permanent or will make a difference?

LEIGHTON: Well, nothing is permanent in this war, Don, at least not so far. But what is happening here is the Russians believe they need to protect their supply lines as they come through this way.

This is Kharkiv. This is the area where the Ukrainians have actually gained some ground against the Russians in recent weeks. But what you're seeing here is the Russians trying to actually move forward in this basic direction, and they are looking to get this part of Ukraine and move that into the Russian orbit. And there's a lot of fighting that's going on in this particular area.

So, in order to succeed, the Russians need to safeguard their supply lines. They need to be able to do this in a way that allows them to not only maintain their momentum, but actually to replenish what they've -- what they already have. But their momentum isn't very far, very fast. So, there are a lot of problems with this. But they're kind of moving into a kind of a desperation move so that they actually protect those supply lines that they have set up right now.

LEMON: Colonel, the director of national intelligence warning that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is likely to become -- and I quote here -- "more unpredictable and escalatory." As you said, nothing is permanent in this war, but more unpredictable now.

So, what could that mean for the coming weeks and months of this war?

LEIGHTON: So, let's take a look at this time-lapse right here. So, this is kind of where we've been, you know, from March on, in essence the start of this. And you see how much the Russians had, and then all of a sudden, the Ukrainians have taken the area around Kyiv. They've taken parts of the area around Kharkiv, the second largest city. You see how they're expanding right here as we get closer to today's date.


This type of situation for the Ukrainians is advantageous at this point in time. But as we just talked about with the supply lines coming from the north right here, the Russians are trying to make sure that they keep what they have and that they expand it down this way.

If they can do that, then they will try to expand their access to this area and eventually take it over. Once this happens, they will actually move into an area where they can -- they can do the things that they need to do in order to consolidate power around here.

And then the other thing that they will want to do is expand their reach over in the southern area. But in order to do that, they don't have the troops to make something like this happen right now. So they're using seaborne missile launches, airborne missile launches to go after Odessa like we just saw. They're also using unconventional means to go after some of these areas.

They don't have the numbers of troops that they need. They don't have the equipment, at least not yet. They lost a lot when they were fighting around Kyiv. And that really provides for a mixed picture when it comes to Russian capabilities right now. And the way they're going to really account for that and maybe compensate for that is to use unconventional methods to gain the upper hand.

The other thing we have to keep in mind, Don, is that they've tried several times to do unconventional things like assassinating President Zelenskyy. They've tried at least ten times to do that according to Zelenskyy's office. So that's the kind of thing that we may see. We may see some of these dramatic things. We'll see movement of troops on the ground and then other stuff going on in the background.

LEMON: It's been fascinating watch you -- watching you give us the strategy and also to show what the weapons can do. I mean, just over the entirety of this war that you've been doing these demonstrations. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Don. Absolutely.

LEMON: President Joe Biden says inflation is his top domestic priority. So, is the administration doing enough to help Americans who are paying more and more to fill their car and their grocery cart? I'm going to ask the Secretary Buttigieg -- there he is. That's next.



LEMON: Well, no end in sight for soaring gas prices. The average price of a gallon now well over $4 as the U.S. experiences its worst battle with inflation in decades.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I know that families all across America are hurting because of inflation. I want every American to know that I'm taking inflation very seriously, and it's my top domestic priority.


LEMON: So, we have a lot to discuss with a member of the president's cabinet, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joins us. Thank you, secretary. I appreciate you joining us this evening. Good evening to you.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Good evening. Good to be with you.

LEMON: So, President Biden calls inflation his number one priority. It is at a 40-year high. So, what does the administration plan to do about it? And people don't want long-term plans. They don't want to hear about it. They want action now.

BUTTIGIEG: Well, the president laid out a number of specific steps, many of them already under way and more to come. I think that's the most important thing about today's message, not just that the president's saying it's a priority, but he's making clear what we're doing about it.

Some of it is the measures that he's already taken to stabilize or help stabilize global oil markets, which affects gas prices. Some of its action which he has advanced in Congress to do things like lower the cost of prescription drugs, cap insulin at $35, lower the cost of child care, internet access and other measures.

Now, some of those have been blocked by congressional Republicans, but other measures are underway and are making a difference. Then you have the supply chain side of things. You know, part of what contributes to upward pressure on prices is high costs of shipping. That's why we're making some of the investments that we're making.

Some of them, sure, they're long-term, but some of them are steps that are operating in the short term, pushing toward 24/7 operations at our ports, working with truck drivers to get more truck drivers trained and keep them on the road, working with rail companies to try to get their fluidity up.

This is an all-hands-on deck moment and the president laid out today a very clear contrast between a specific series of steps, policy steps, that he's undertaking and proposing versus the other side, which loves to criticize on this, but either has no plans or has plans that don't make any sense like raising taxes on the middle class and the poor just at the moment when Americans are struggling with these high prices.

LEMON: Well, Listen, I want to ask you because there's another contributing factor. But just while we're on the subject of gas prices, let me go here first. Gas prices have jumped to a new record high. And if we look at this chart that we have up right now, they've gone way up over just the last nine months.

How high is this going to go, and does the administration have any tools to control what has been really a shock to just about everyone's pocket?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, there are some tools. Look, when an oil company is deciding how much to charge for a gallon of gas any given day, of course they don't call the president to check. But when you have actions like the release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve -- and by the way, the president didn't just do that unilaterally.

He did one of the things that he committed to do, which is rally international players, allies, and partners to do the same. That had an effect. Were it not for that, prices would be higher than they are now. But the truth is as long as we are dependent on these kinds of foreign dictators and the fuel they produce; we're going to continue seeing these issues.

That's why long-term we've got to make sure we reduce our dependence. Short-term, the president has taken actions like making more home grown biofuels available in the near term. These are things that are going to make a difference even if, we know, again, obviously the gas price is set by global petroleum markets, not by the President of the United States.


LEMON: Well, let's talk about the other contributing factors to this, this unease with the economy that Americans are having. President Biden is blaming the pandemic and Putin's war for inflation. But what about that $1.9 trillion American rescue plan?

The San Francisco Federal Reserve bank concluded last year, secretary, that the stimulus contributed to inflation. Shouldn't at least part of the blame be placed on that?

BUTTIGIEG: Look, at that time, the country was facing the continued risk of economic collapse. Action had to be taken to bring back the economy, to make sure that Americans had more money in their pockets, that jobs that would have been lost perhaps forever were saved. Now it is true right now we have a lot of the issues that are

associated with those very low unemployment rates. Right now, we have fewer people on unemployment than we've had, I think, since 1970. And when that happens, that does create pressures in labor markets. But if you consider the alternative, the possibility that we could have seen the kind of economic collapse that was a very real risk before the American rescue plan, there's no question that that was the right thing to do.

It has saved countless jobs, likely millions and millions of jobs, and it's one of the reasons why the job creation record of this president in his first year is one that is the most swift creation of jobs in American history.

LEMON: Yes, understood. But did it contribute to inflation as economists say?

BUTTIGIEG: Look, I think that historians and economists will be debating the early 2020s and what happened for many years and decades. But right now, we're still living in that moment. Right now, what we've got to do is focus on the tools that are in our hands that will actually help right now.

And whether we're talking about counterbalancing the effects of Putin invading a country obviously when you have a major oil-producing country go to war, that's going to have effects, or whether we're talking about dealing with supply chain issues that have been driven by the pandemic, there are things that we can do, there are things that we are doing. And there's more than we can do.

Right now, our -- the president is asking for support on this, and you know, what we see coming out of the other side is certainly a desire to throw punches and offer a lot of criticisms over this but very little by way of actual plans. I mean, raising taxes on the poor and the middle class, I suppose they could argue that that could somehow reduce inflation, but that would be a terrible, terrible way to do it.

LEMON: The president went on offense against the GOP, attacking their, quote, I'm quoting here, "ultra MAGA policies." And he says this. Watch.


BIDEN: I understand the frustration, but the fact is congressional Republicans -- not all of them -- but the MAGA Republicans are counting on you to be as frustrated by the pace of progress which they have everything -- they've done everything they can to slow down, that you are going to hand power over to them and enact so they can enact their extreme agenda.


LEMON: So, President Biden repeatedly hammering MAGA Republicans in his speech there, but Americans are feeling the pinch now while President Biden is in charge. Democrats control the House. They control the Senate. Does that message really work now to say the other guys will be worse?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think it is important to understand the two very different approaches that exist here. The president has laid out a specific policy program and a specific approach, actions that are underway, more things that we can do and are doing that are going to help lower those costs that Americans are facing.

The other side is offering proposals like raising taxes on the poor and the middle class, proposals like getting rid of Medicare and social security every five years unless Congress recreates them, things that are completely out of step with what's actually going to make a difference here.

And I do think anytime somebody wants to throw stones and criticize -- and of course they're going to criticize whoever is in charge -- that they be challenged to explain what they would do differently, what they would do to make it any better, whether we're talking about gas prices, whether we're talking about inflation or any of the other issues that are ferocious issues in our economy, but that the president is squarely facing and leading this country to contend with because he knows how much of an impact it is on families, because he knows that this is something that people are feeling at the kitchen table, feeling at the pump.

That's why we need not name-calling, not personal attacks like what we saw from Senator Scott today, but specific policy agendas. And ours, frankly, is just more clear, more cogent, and it's going to be more successful.

LEMON: Secretary, I do want to ask you about the Supreme Court's upcoming abortion decision where it appears that Roe v. Wade may be overturned. There will be immediate consequences for women and families. What about other rights like same-sex marriage? Could that be next?


BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think right now the focus rightly is on women and the right to choose. And I will say, you know, for all of my life and all of modern American history, I think the direction that we've been going in as a country, the direction that the Constitution has led us to in the Supreme Court, has been one of expanding rights, has been one of expanding freedoms.

And suddenly, this decision, if this is what the decision will be, represents a retreat from that. The big question is, did we live to see the high water mark of freedom in this country and now we're going to go back at the expense of women who have for the last 50 years been trusted to make these decisions about their own health, or are we going to push forward?

But there are, of course, a lot of others, a lot of other Americans who are wondering whether their rights and freedoms might be next. And needless to say, same-sex marriage is an example of a freedom, of a right that was expanded, that was expanded because it is a, it was deemed by the Supreme Court to be something that the Constitution protects, and now you've got a Supreme Court that, again, if this memo turns into a decision, appears to have very little regard for precedent. And I'm not comforted by any of the reassurances that that would not lead to other freedoms falling.

LEMON: Secretary Buttigieg, thank you.

BUTTIGIEG: Good to be with you. Thank you.

LEMON: New audio revealing what Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters right after the January 6th insurrection. His surprising comments on Joe Biden, next.



LEMON: The former president's influence over his party being put to the test in primaries in West Virginia and Nebraska tonight. That as new audio gives more evidence of what GOP leaders really thought in the immediate aftermath of the capitol riot. And the question looming over all of this, just what will drive voters this fall with issues like inflation and abortion rights rocking the political landscape?

Let's discuss now. CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash is here. CNN political director David Chalian, and CNN senior political correspondent Abby Phillip, better known as the dream team. And they're here to help guide us through this. Thank you all. Good evening to you.

David, I'm going to start with you. CNN calling the West Virginia primary for Congressman Alex Mooney tonight. What do you take away from tonight's and last week's primary and what are we looking ahead to? I know those are big questions but, have that.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, like last week in Ohio, Don, we saw Trump's support helped a candidate get over the hump in a Republican primary there with J.D. Vance. And tonight in West Virginia we're seeing the same thing with Alex Mooney.

Remember, this is the first member versus member primary that we've seen this cycle due to redistricting. West Virginia lost a congressional seat, and two members went at it. And what was the difference here? Well, the difference was that one member voted for the bipartisan infrastructure deal, voted to establish a commission investigating the January 6th insurrection.

Those things, you know, David McKinley voted for them, and Donald Trump clearly was irked by that, gets behind Alex Mooney, and Alex Mooney powers to a big victory here. So, Donald Trump gets to add that to his scorecard. But we're --


LEMON: Can you ask you something, David?

CHALIAN: Yes. LEMON: Is it that surprising, though, considered -- considering how well Donald Trump did in West Virginia? I mean, it doesn't seem surprising that the Trump-backed candidate would win since he won West Virginia.

CHALIAN: Right. Listen, I don't know that Donald Trump's endorsement is everything, but when you're dealing with a place where he's super popular inside a Republican primary and, by the way, it's not like Alex Mooney was sort of shying away from it. He made Trump's backing of him, his endorsement central to his campaign and messaging.

McKinley had the backing of the Republican governor and of the Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in his race. But you're right, this is Trump country, and Trump's voice in this really mattered.

LEMON: Yes. Dana, I have to ask you about this new audio from New York Times reporters and CNN political analyst Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin, revealing what Senator Lindsey Graham told Martin in an interview right after the January 6th insurrection. Listen to this.


GRAHAM: We'll actually come out of this thing stronger. Moments like this reset. People will calm down. People will say, I don't want to be associated with that. This is a group within a group. What this does, there will be a rallying effect for a while. The country says, we're better than this.

MARTIN: Biden will help that, right?

GRAHAM: Totally, he'll be maybe the best person to have, right? I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?


LEMON: Dana, I'm just going to ask, what do you think because that's a different Lindsey Graham than we have today.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's the same flavor of Lindsey Graham that we saw on the Senate floor a few days after that audiotape apparently, and it's the same kind of sentiment that we now heard from these two -- our two colleagues and authors from Kevin McCarthy.


And what it is a reminder of is that in the moments that this was happening, in the moments that they saw, wow, all of this Trumpism and all of the conspiracies that he has been peddling, it really has had a devastating effect on our democracy. They were thinking clearly and as Americans and as humans who were victims of that.

And then when the fog of clarity -- I know that sounds like that doesn't make sense, but I said that intentionally. The fog of clarity lifted, and they realized that Trumpism is still very, very viable inside the GOP. They changed their tune, and they changed their approach because they realized that the political winds didn't change the way Lindsey Graham thought in that moment when he was coming out of that feeling of being a victim of the insurrection. He was in the building. Never mind the democracy that he is serving was a victim.

LEMON: Abby, I've got to ask you about the president today batting down questions about Senator Rick Scott's criticism that the president should resign because he is not fit for the job mentally. You can predict that kind of rhetoric from the right, but tonight, David Gergen, who served four presidents of both parties, said neither Biden nor Trump should run again. Listen to this, and then we'll talk.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Do you believe President Biden should run again in 2024?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sadly, I -- you know, I think for a variety of reasons, he should not. I just -- I don't think either Trump or Biden should be running. My preferences run toward Biden, of course.

But nonetheless, I do think it's time for a younger person. I think there are things that Joe Biden can do that will be extremely valuable. He can be on hand. He can give advice. He can travel the world and do things like that for a new president.

But given the complexity of that office, if your judgment is not keen, you shouldn't be there. And, look, I just turned 80, and I can tell you, you miss a step. You're not quite as sharp as you once were, and I think that's a real problem to be in the Oval Office. I don't think the country ought to be faced with that.


LEMON: I was struck by that moment. Complete candor right there, Abby. Look, we're used to hearing that from right-wing pundits, right- wing media about Joe Biden is not fit. He's stumbling, he's doing all that. David Gergen is saying -- Gergen is saying both Trump -- neither Trump nor Biden should be running, that they're, basically saying that they're too old. So I'm not sure this issue is going to go away. What do you think?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I really don't think it is. You know, we all here know David Gergen, and there's a reason that he is something of a national treasure, and it's because he's neither of the right nor the left. He's worked for presidents on both sides of the aisle, and he's saying this based on his belief that there should be a younger generation leading the politics of this country.

But the thing is, I also hear that a lot from Democrats privately, who support Joe Biden. You know, they, you know, they maybe, they probably voted for him. Most of them did. But they also worry that, for two reasons.

One, they worry about the same things that David Gergen is talking about. You could have a Trump and a Biden, both men in their 80s, running for president again. And just what that means for the country if they're not able to perform the duties of the job. But there's also a concern about enthusiasm.

Democratic enthusiasm, enthusiasm among young voters, which really has plummeted under Biden. That's been a source of real concern among Democrats who believe that one of the main things the party needs to do about that is to elevate younger voices and elevate that segment of the party. Otherwise, they could lose these voters who tend to lean Democratic for a while. And I think many Democrats who are working in politics right now do not believe that they can afford to do that.

LEMON: David, I want to ask you because I was watching, I was watching all of your reaction to that, what David Gergen was saying. What did you make of his comments?

CHALIAN: Well, I was thinking also beyond just Biden and Trump, Don. When you think about the Democratic leadership in the House right now, the top three Democrats in the House of Representatives are all in their 80s. There is this argument inside the Democratic caucus that, you know, it is time for a new generation of leadership in the party to come there.

That being said, you know, it is also true that we are currently in a world where Joe Biden and those three Democrats in the House are functioning as leaders of the government. So, I don't want to suggest that there's some kind of age limit that prevents somebody from being elected and serving in these roles.


But I think you're going to hear a whole generation of younger politicians make the case that we're at a turning point and that it's time to pass the torch.

LEMON: Dana, you know I don't want to give you short shrift. If you can just give me a quick answer --

BASH: Yes.

LEMON: -- because I want you to weigh in on this.

BASH: We saw a lot of younger Democratic candidates running against Joe Biden in 2020, including the man you had on earlier, Don, Pete Buttigieg. And they all lost to Joe Biden --


BASH: -- in the primaries and the caucuses. So that's where the Democratic Party was in the age of Donald Trump, and perhaps it could change in the near future, but that's where it was, and that's why they landed on Joe Biden.

LEMON: All right. My political dream team here, thank you very much. We're missing Gloria and some others as well. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I'll see you soon. CHALIAN: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: The former president has been permanently suspended from Twitter for more than a year. Now Elon Musk says he would reverse that ban if he gets control of Twitter.




ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA MOTORS: I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake because it -- it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice. I would reverse the former ban.


LEMON: That was Elon Musk today earlier confirming if his deal to acquire Twitter goes through, that he'll restore the former president's account. Twitter banned Trump in January 2021 for violating its rules against inciting violence following the January 6th insurrection. Along with calling the ban on Trump a mistake, Musk noted that he and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey agreed there shouldn't be permanent bans on users.

So, let's bring in Kara Swisher, New York Times opinion contributing writer and host of Sway podcast. I like doing that, Kara, you know that. Hello to you.


LEMON: It sounds like you're --


SWISHER: Good to see you.

LEMON: -- the opening to your podcast. Thank you so much for joining. Let's talk about this. You predicted that Musk would likely lift this ban.


LEMON: -- on Trump.


LEMON: Musk says the decision to ban him was morally wrong and stupid. What's this going to mean in practice, though?

SWISHER: He's just going to let him come back on. He's not going to do permanent suspensions for anybody, which he said at the time. At the time it happened, which by the way a decision Jack Dorsey was responsible for as CEO of Twitter, so if he didn't like the decision, he could have turned it around when he was CEO.

But nonetheless, he at the time, Elon was compared to a lot of people who were sort of running for the hills at that moment, he said this was wrong at the time, which was a very controversial thing to say. And you know, I really didn't predict it. He just said it at the time, so I would assume he wouldn't change his mind.

And so, he believes in time-outs. He calls it a time-out, a temporary ban perhaps, a temporary suspension for bad behavior, probably just a legal stuff for inciting violence, and that there should be no such thing as a permanent ban. That's basically the way he thinks about it.

LEMON: The thing that gets me is people look at this as a free speech issue. This isn't a -- this isn't a true free speech issue because it's not the government, right?

SWISHER: it's not right.

LEMON: Right? Right.

SWISHER: Right. Right.

LEMON: So, the right to --

SWISHER: Right. It's just Twitter doing.


SWISHER: It's just Twitter changing its rules all the time, and now it has a new owner -- possibly, by the way. The talks stuff are way off. It has a new owner, and the new owner has decided this is the kind of business I want to run. So that's the way it goes.

LEMON: He says people still won't be allowed to say something that is illegal or something that is destructive to the world --


LEMON: -- or wrong and bad. It sounds like the old rules, but I mean who's going to get to decide that? I guess that's Elon Musk, right?

SWISHER: That's right. That's correct. I mean it's not bad or whatever. It's just he's very -- he's going to be much more free speech maximalist. Twitter had a series of rules and it kept trying to figure them out and under Jack Dorsey again. And they would slap warnings on things and stuff like that.

And the problem was it was sort of badly enforced even -- because it's hard to enforce. I'm not saying they're incompetent. But they couldn't enforce them correctly. Donald Trump broke rules all the time that they had in place, and they did nothing. And then they suddenly did something.

And so, I think that's probably one of the reasons this is getting so much attention. And then the right sort of gloms onto this free speech argument. Donald Trump violated the rules of Twitter, and Twitter decided at the time to permanently ban him for that behavior, especially around January 6th. Now Elon owns it, and they're changing the rules.

So, you know, he just moved the stop signs or removed the stop signs, and when he gets into power there, that's what he says he'll do. If and when he gets into power.

LEMON: Here's the thing. Correct me if I'm wrong. I think you're like me. I believe in free speech. But we have seen some real-world consequences from this, right? Trump's tweets --


LEMON: -- led to real-world implications, including the January 6th attack on the capitol. He has been off Twitter for more than --


SWISHER: Among other things.

LEMON: Among other things. Right.

SWISHER: He did give a speech. He gave a speech that was in public at a forum, you know, right before that got people all ginned up. He did a lot of tweets. He did a lot of statements. He did a lot of things. You can't just blame only Twitter, but a combination of the tools that he uses.

Ultimately, it was Donald Trump who did it, right, who said those things, and so the question is how much blame do you assign Twitter? How much blame do you assign the people who organized the stop the steal rally? How much blame do you assign -- sign extract -- you know, keep going as you move along the spectrum?

How much blame does Fox News get? How much blame does CNN get? You know what I mean? You could go -- you could do this for a while. But he for sure broke the rules of Twitter, and they tossed him off and permanently suspended him. And Elon Musk thinks a permanent suspension is unnecessary and that a time-out is adequate when people misbehave according to him on the platform. That's what I think he's saying --



LEMON: I've got to get to some other news, but how much -- how much do you think people will take what just sort of, if it becomes this sort of, you know, unrestricted free speech, saying whatever you want on Twitter?

SWISHER: I don't know.

LEMON: Yes, we don't. You don't know.

SWISHER: I don't know. I don't know. It's pretty unrestricted right now. Twitter is always been this free speech wing of the free speech party of the internet. So, it's pretty -- it's pretty free speech now. But I guess, you know, the Republicans, or specialty right has made a big deal of it, overblown, obviously, but it works for them, like a lot of things.

And so, you know, Elon is leaning into that. And you know, it's a good -- it's his thing. So, I don't know what to say, if he's the owner, he should be able to do what he wants. So.

LEMON: We don't know. That's why we have you here, that's why we're doing the story. And we shall see. We'll live through it. Thank you, Kara.

SWISHER: We shall see.

LEMON: Always a pleasure. Thank you so much.

SWISHER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thanks, Don. Alabama inmate Casey White set to arrive back in Lauderdale County tonight as authorities dig for answers, why did corrections officer Vicky White help him escape? Answers, the sheriff says, we may never get.



LEMON: So, we have breaking news right now on that case that escaped convict who was on the run with corrections officer for more than a week, well, he is back in Alabama tonight.

We're going to go straight to CNN's Nadia Romero, she is there for us. Nadia, hello to you. There we see Casey White back in Alabama. What can you tell us about what comes next for him and this investigation?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don, this was a big moment hearing earlier today in Indiana, Casey White telling the judge there that he wanted to come home, come back to Alabama. That's exactly what he did just moments ago. Behind me he came in to this area right outside the Lauderdale County courthouse, an armed vehicle in front of him, his vehicle where he was restrained by his arms and his feet. He got out of that vehicle and slipped into some bright color jailhouse slippers, and then he made his way right inside of the courthouse.

Now, we asked him questions, did you kill Vicky White, which is something a lot of people are still wondering right now? We were told that she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. But of course, we won't know the extent of all her injuries and her manner of death until we have that autopsy report.

We asked him, was it worth it, did you love Vicky White, did she love you? And he did not answer any of those questions, just looking straight ahead, making his way inside of the courthouse.

What's happening right now is that the sheriff says it only lasted about 10 minutes, he's seeing the judge right now for his arraignment, he will hear his charges, he'll come right back out, get back in his car and he will be transported away from here to the Williamson E. Donaldson correctional facility, the state prison where he was previously serving time back in 2012 for domestic violence charge, and then he was serving time most recently for a crime spree he went on in 2015 where he was supposed to be in that state prison for 75 years, Don, and this will continue as we follow the story. Don?

LEMON: All right. Nadia Romero joining us from Alabama, thank you very much for that. We'll be right back.