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Don Lemon Tonight

Russian Civilian Killed In Belgorod; Isolated Fighting Continues In Kharkiv Area; Calmness And Luck Save Passenger And Pilot; Russian Killed Ukrainian Civilians At Gunpoint; Fires Spread In Laguna Hills, California; January 6th Committee Will Have Their First Hearing; Abortion Rights Failed To Pass In The Senate; . Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 11, 2022 - 22:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hi, Laura Coates. We're going to have more on that story. But I have -- I just want you to answer this for me. I hope this never happens to you.

So, there's an incident on the plane and the pilot is in incapacitated and they say, ma'am, we need you to step up to the cockpit and fly the plane. What say you, Laura Coates?

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: It would probably a series of beeps and then I would do it. But I'm telling you right now it wouldn't be as calm. I would like to think of how I would be in that moment but I can tell you right now, Don, if you and I were on that plane together, we would exchange a glance. It would be expletives and then we would jump to the actual job.


COATES: What would you do?

LEMON: I would go do it. I think I'd be calm about it.

COATES: Don, I was going to do it. OK, yes. OK.

LEMON: Let's hope that doesn't happen.


COATES: I'm not sure. It's fine.

LEMON: Again, again, the caveat was I hope that never happens to you. We're going to have more --

COATES: I hope it never happens to anybody.

LEMON: To anyone.

COATES: You know, if it does, can we have that person on speed dial to say I need somebody who is like blood pressure level is just like this -- LEMON: Yes.

COATES: -- so they can walk us through the entire thing.

LEMON: Or just the co-pilot.

COATES: Or fly commercial.

LEMON: Yes, yes. Right on. Well, you know, hey, if you can fly private, I would say do it. But that's just me. Thanks, Laura.

COATES: Well, you're Don Lemon. I'm Laura Coates. I'll fly commercial. Thanks, everyone.

LEMON: Thanks, Laura. I'll see you tomorrow.

This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Thank you for joining us, everyone.

And what I'm about to show you is really shocking and it is very difficult to watch as a matter of act. This video shows the casual brutality of Vladimir Putin's unprovoked war in Ukraine. Our Sara Sidner describes what happened moments after two civilians encounter Russian soldiers. Watch this.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You see the two men walking in the shadows toward the camera. Behind them the soldiers they were just talking to emerge. A few more steps and their bodies drop to the ground. Dust shoots up from the bullet hitting the pavement. The soldiers have opened fire.


LEMON: I mean, it is just unreal. More from Sara's reporting in just a moment. And in this country, the battle over Roe v, Wade heating up.


CROWD: My decision.

UNKNOWN: My life.

CROWD: My decision.

UNKNOWN: My life.

CROWD: My decision.


LEMON: That was Democratic women of the House marching ahead of the Senate's vote today on a bill to preserve abortion rights. A vote that failed. Vice President Kamala Harris saying the Senate isn't listening to the majority of Americans.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This vote clearly suggests that the Senate is not where the majority of Americans are on this issue.


LEMON: President Joe Biden hitting the road today pushing back on GOP criticism of his handling of inflation.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Under my predecessor, the great MAGA king, the deficit increased every single year he was president. They don't want to solve inflation by lowering the cost, they want to solve it by raising taxed and lowering your income.


LEMON: And the story everyone is still talking about, the one Laura and I were just talking about. The passenger who landed the plane when the pilot was incapacitated.


UNKNOWN: What was the situation with the pilot?

UNKNOWN: He's incoherent. He is out.

UNKNOWN: Three lima delta. Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me, push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate.


LEMON: So, we're going to get to the bottom of this. How did this unfold? The hero air traffic controller who helped that passenger land the plane shows us how he did it.

We're going to get straight to Ukraine now where CNN's Scott McLean is live for us tonight in Lviv. Scott, hello to you.

Ukraine claims that they are taking back critical territory near the northeastern city of Kharkiv. What's happening there?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Don. Yes, so this is according to local military officials that the actual city of Kharkiv itself has been quiet for the last few days. But the real action is taking place in the cities or the towns and villages just outside of it where the Ukrainians say that they are managing to take back some of those villages.

In fact, in some places they are just a few miles from the Russian border. The Russians, according to Ukrainians have amassed a huge number of troops on that border, on the Russian side 20 battalion tactical groups. And if you figure this, about 900 soldiers in each one of those, we're talking about 18,000 troops.

So, the reality is that the Russians are very much able to launch an attack to retake some of this villages that the Ukrainians have just retaken as well. They are urging civilians not to come back to these retaken areas. A, because they are heavily mined and also, they are well within Russian artillery range as well, Don.

LEMON: Scott, for the first, a Russian civilian is reported dead from cross border shelling near Belgorod. What more do we know about that?

MCLEAN: Yes. So, this is right in that same are around Kharkiv. We're talking about a village, very small village about six miles or so inside the border with Russia due north of Kharkiv.


And this is according to the governor of the Belgorod region who says that one civilian was killed due to Ukrainian shelling. Now, they have accused the Ukrainians of shelling other villages. In fact, nearby villages had been evacuated because of damage or destroyed homes in those areas.

There have been explosions on Russian territory in recent weeks. That is not new. The Ukrainians haven't exactly been jumping up and down to take responsibility for these, with one exception about two weeks ago, where they didn't directly take responsibility for a series of strikes on Russian territory, but they might as well have, with an adviser to the president saying that karma is a cruel thing.

LEMON: We are also learning, tonight that Ukraine has offered Russia a deal to get injured soldiers out of that steel plant in Mariupol, where are they proposing?

MCLEAN: Yes, so we're talking about hundreds of soldiers who are still trapped inside the Azovstal steel plant. They say that there are hundreds of them who are wounded, badly wounded and at risk of dying if they don't get proper medical attention, and soon.

And so, President Zelenskyy has long said that he's trying to broker some kind of a deal now that the women, children, and elderly people have been successfully evacuated. He's trying to get a deal for these soldiers as well, but to no avail so thus far.

It's actually the Ukrainian deputy prime minister who's been leading the negotiations on this. And she's kind of been running through her options. Militarily, she says there is no possibility of getting these guys out that way. She also says that they simply will not surrender, which she respects.

And so, she's trying to find some other kind of solution, she says, there is no perfect answer here, but she doesn't need perfect, she just needs something workable. So, what the Ukrainians have proposed in this case is to exchanged prisoners, Russian prisoners in exchange for only the badly wounded soldiers in this plant. The Russians haven't even agreed to that yet, though they say that negotiations are ongoing. And one other thing to mention, Don, and that is that, you know,

obviously the situation has been dire inside the plant for some time, but perhaps not quite as dire as we imagine. That's because, according to a high-ranking Ukrainian general, they actually have been able to deliver aid and ammunition to the plant several times.

Now this stopped though, once the Russians got word of it. The Ukrainians say that they carried out air strikes, which totally cut off their ability to deliver that aid. What we don't know is the delivery method, how they were actually getting this ammunition and aid in.

We don't know how many times they were able to deliver it, or what the last time is that they were able to do that. The Ukrainians at last word say though that they do have enough ammunition to fight off the Russians. That is, for the moment. Don?

LEMON: Scott McLean, reporting from Lviv, thank you very much. I appreciate that. I want to bring in now CNN military analyst and retired lieutenant general, Mark Hertling. Good to see you, General. Thanks for joining us this evening.

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good to be with you, Don, thanks.

LEMON: So, Ukraine building on their success in the northeast around Kharkiv, but Russia is moving more troops in and they are fortifying other occupied regions in Ukraine. Give us your assessment of where the battle stands right now tonight?

HERTLING: Well, it's the 77th day, Don, they've been at this for a pretty long time, for a three-day operation is proposed by Russia. What we're talking about is, you know, Scott's report is very good, I'd only say when we talk the battalion tactical groups we can't consider them the same way now as we consider them on the 24th of February.

Yes, normally they are between 900 and 1,000 soldiers in every one of the BTGs that the Russians have, but they have taken such casualties, and they've had so many problems regenerating that they have had to pull units out of combat, and shuffle units around.

So, you're seeing some of the units that fought in Mariupol. Some of the Russian units that fought there, now being moved to the northeast in the Donetsk.

And in fact, that sight of Belgorod that you just mentioned, that's an area that has been used for refitting and retrograding Russian forces so they can get back into the fight. When you're talking about units that have been mulled, much like they were in Kyiv. And coming out of Mariupol, to try to join the fight in the northeast, where the Ukrainians are having their way in most cases in the active defense in that region, you're not talking about a fair fight in that area.

It isn't a full of Russian battalion, so those are the kind of things that you can have to look at. A couple of areas to look for, certainly the area around Kyiv. They have -- the Ukrainians have done a masterful work in pushing the Russians back.

You have towns, and I won't go through the tactical implications of places like Izyum and Severodonetsk and Rubizhne, but all those places that are so foreign to Americans which none of us can pronounce the right way. Some tough fighting is going on back and forth between the Russians and Ukrainian forces.


LEMON: I'm glad you said that. Because all of the names that we have been pronouncing over the last 77 days.

HERTLING: Yes. There's three things that I learned in 30 years in the army and three years in combat, is that you can never pronounce the names of the towns you're fighting in.

LEMON: Let's talk more -- can we talk more about this Russian civilian reported killed in Belgorod. Does that kind of attack risk escalate tensions even more, General?

HERTLING: Yes, I've heard a lot of analysts say that yes it will, but truthfully, Don, from a commander standpoint, there are no safe havens in combat. If you have a force that you're fighting on the front line, if I'm a Ukrainian commander and I'm fighting the Russians on the front line inside of Ukraine, and they go back across the border to be re-supplied, that's fair game.

You know, those supply lines, those bases of operations, there are no enclaves or safe havens in combat. So, a lot of people are saying, Putin is going to be upset. Well, Putin is killing civilians by the thousands.

LEMON: Right.

HERTLING: And to have one Russian civilian killed is unfortunate, but they are supporting the operation from Belgorod. So, it's, in my view from the military perspective, it's fair game to go out after those supply bases.

LEMON: I want to put up these new images that we're getting tonight of the Russian pontoon bridges, obliterated by Ukrainian forces at a key river in eastern Ukraine. How long can Ukraine keep frustrating Russian attempts to push further west, General?

HERTLING: Well, I think what you're seeing is a transition in terms of what the military would call a culminating point where the Russians are culminating in their offense. They have -- they're having difficulties and continuing to conduct offensive operations, and with the resupply of Ukrainian forces they are culminating in a defense and transitioning to the offense.

You know, those -- those bridges that we show the other night, I think I was on with you, Don, when I said don't worry about that bridge going across the river, it won't be there for a long.

LEMON: Yes, you did. HERTLING: The enemy built four of those, two of them have already been destroyed, and what's interesting is Ukrainian forces allowed Russian forces to come across the bridge, and then blew the bridge behind them so they could hunt down the battalion tactical groups that were on the Ukrainian side of the river.

There are two more bridges left, and what I suggest is Ukrainians are waiting for more forces to come across, so they can blow those bridges and traps some more forces that they can destroy.

LEMON: Ukraine's deputy defense minister says that weapons from the U.S., including, Stingers Javelins, Howitzers are already being deployed on the frontlines in the east. Could we see the impact of that in the coming days and weeks?

HERTLING: I think we're already seeing it, Don.


HERTLING: What you're talking about is a couple of things. First of all, you need the ability to gather more intelligence, and you are getting that from more drones and more Q36 radars, the artillery radars. Then you need the ability to strike the learning range targets.

You're getting that from the M777's, the artillery pieces that are coming in, some of the longer-range German and Dutch artillery pieces that are coming in. And then you've got some other factors, more Javelins, more Stingers to keep, and more stark strikes from the British, army the air defensive system from the U.K. that are knocking down Russian airplanes and keeping them away from the front lines.

So, the Ukrainians are doing a very good job using the kind of equipment they're being provided, and I think we're going to continue to see this back and forth for a while, and then you're going to start seeing increasing amounts of successes on the part of the Ukrainians fighting back against the Russians along the Donetsk River, and in some of the areas of the Donbas.

LEMON: I think you'll agree with this, it's been fascinating to watch Colonel Leighton show us, and really give Americans a view, and a lesson on the weapons that we use in war, and I mean, it has been fascinating to watch. I never knew we had such technology when it comes to military weapons.

HERTLING: Yes, well Cedric, my good friend Cedric Leighton is an intel guy. He knows these things. They spent a lot of time looking at weapons systems of the enemy. As an operator when I'm talking about is I like to look at the weapon systems that we have and understanding what the enemy is using and how to destroy them.

And it is really truly, Don, a very complex dance. It's a choreography of all the different things that are on the frontline of a battlefield, and most Americans don't understand it but it is extremely complex, it takes a lot of great soldiers. Ukrainians have that. The Russians have not been trained very well in the use of their OK equipment. Not great equipment, but good equipment.

They just haven't used it in a combined arms fight, and what I mean by that is the combination of our armor, infantry, artillery, tanks, aircraft, air defense. All those things come together in a very complex relationship, and it's very hard but you have to train on it and exercise.

You never want to do something for the first time in combat. And that's with the Russians are doing.


Ukraine has had a chance to train before they've gone into combat and they're showing themselves to be much better at it with good commanders and good leaders that really see what the battlefield looks like.

LEMON: General, thank you. We'll see you soon, be well.

HERTLING: Pleasure, Don. Thank you.

LEMON: Horrifying new surveillance video showing Russian soldiers gunning down two Ukrainian civilians from behind. And as CNN's Sara Sidner reports, it's already been investigated as a possible war crime. And I have to warn you, what you are about to see is difficult to watch.


SIDNER: This is a stark example of a potential war crime perpetrated by Russian forces. An example the world has not yet seen. Russian soldiers shooting two civilians in the back. CNN obtained a surveillance video taken from this vehicle dealership that sits along the main highway to Kyiv.

The video is from the beginning of the war as Russians tried and failed to shell their way to the capital. The fight along this road was clearly fierce. But what happened outside this business was not a battle between soldiers or even soldiers and armed civilians. It was a cowardly, cold blooded killing of unarmed men by Russian forces.

The soldiers show up and begin breaking in. Inside of a guard shack, two Ukrainian men prepare to meet them. We tracked down the men's identities. One is the owner of the business whose family did not want him named, the other was hired to guard it.

YULI PLYATS, FATHER KILLED BY RUSSIANS (through translator): My father's name is Leonid Alexiyovich Plyats (Ph).

SIDNER: His daughter, Yulia wanted the world to know his name and what the Russians did to him. Both civilians, both unarmed. We know this because the video shows them greeting and getting frisk by the Russian soldiers. And then, casually walking away. Neither seem to suspect what was about to happen.

That is what a member of the civilian fighting force who talked to the men a couple of days before the attack told CNN. He did not want to be identified for security reasons.

UNKNOWN (through translator): We came there earlier. Warned people to leave that place. We also hope for the humanity of Russian soldiers. But unfortunately, they have no humanity.

SIDNER: You see the two men walking in the shadows toward the camera. Behind them, the soldiers they were just talking to emerge. A few more steps, and their bodies dropped to the ground, dust shoots up from the bullets hitting the pavement. The soldiers have opened fire.

Minutes later, the guard, Leonid, gets up, limping but alive. He manages to get inside the guard booth to make a call to the local guys for help. This is one of those guys. A Ukrainian truck driver turned civilian soldier.

UNKNOWN (through translator): First of all, we felt a big responsibility. We knew we should go there because a man needed our help. He was still alive.

SIDNER: He's the commander of a ragtag team of civilians who took up arms to fight for Ukraine and try to save the men. When the guard called them, he explained what transpired with the soldiers. He said the soldiers ask who they were and asked for cigarettes, then let them go before shooting them in the back. When his men finally got to Leonid, he had lost massive amounts of blood.

UNKNOWN (through translator): One man from our group went there and the guy was still alive. He gave him bandages, try to perform first aid, but the Russians started shooting.

SIDNER: They tried to fight back but were unsuccessful. They didn't have the firepower to save their countrymen.

Yulia, have you seen the video?

PLYATS (through translator): I can't watch it now. I will save it to the crowd and leave it for my grandchildren and children. They should know about this crime, and always remember who our neighbors are.

SIDNER: Her neighbors to the north, these Russian soldiers, showed just how callous they are. Drinking, toasting one another and looting the place. Minutes after slaying the two men.

What were the last words that you remember he said to you?

PLYATS (through translator): Bye, bye. Kisses. Say hello to your boys.

SIDNER: Her boys will be left with a terrible lasting memory. The death of their grandfather now being investigated as a war crime by prosecutors.


SIDNER: Don, Yulia told us that she was hesitant to talk about this because she wasn't sure what it could do to help the situation, but her mother convinced her, telling her to tell the world about this crime to avenge her father. Don?

LEMON: Sara, thank you so much.

Ten months of investigation, nearly 1,000 interviews behind closed doors and in less than a month it will all come to light. Who will the January 6th committee call to testify? Who has already refused to appear? What sources are telling CNN, next.



LEMON: This is breaking news. I want you to look at your screen now, part of the movement at the camera, we don't have control of this. This is from our affiliate KCAL, KCBS in Los Angeles.

What you are looking at tonight, breaking news coming out of California. Again, live pictures, firefighters battling this fast- moving wildfire. It's in Laguna Hills, Laguna Hills neighborhood of Orange County, California. The fire has spread over approximately 150 acres.

Just look at those homes up in flames right now. Strong winds, dry conditions from an ongoing drought reportedly contributing to the spread of these fires. Multiple houses are burning as you are looking at now live. The fire department saying they have over 60 different types of resources battling the flames. The fire broke out this afternoon, no word yet on exactly how it started.

Again, live pictures from Laguna Hills neighborhood in Orange County, California, a fire that is just ravaging the neighborhood there. We'll keep you updated on that.

I want to turn now to what happened on January 6 and the select committee there, getting ready for their first public hearings on the instruction coming up in less than a month. And sources say there could be some high-profile witnesses.

Let's discuss now. CNN special correspondent is Jamie Gangel. She is here. And also, our legal analyst, senior legal analyst is Elie Honig, he joins us as well.

Thank you both. Good evening to you.

Jamie, I'm going to start with you for the reporting. You have been talking to your sources about these upcoming hearings, this is going to be big, what can we expect?


JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, we know that they are going to start on June 9th. We've been told there are going to be about eight hearings, some of them in primetime. And as you have said, Don, there are almost a thousand witnesses that the committee has interviewed behind closed doors. They now have to decide who is interviewed in these public hearings. They also have tens of thousands of documents, e-mails, text messages so they have to incorporate all of this together.

We have been told that the focus of the hearings is going to be, no surprise, Donald Trump and the fact that he was warned that there was going to be violence. He was told that there was no widespread election fraud by his own attorney general Bill Barr and yet he kept perpetuating it and pushing it.

I am told the committee will focus on three words. Dereliction of duty.


GANGEL: The fact that Donald Trump sat there for three hours watching television, with friends, with staunch allies, texting, pleading for him to do something and it took until 4.17 for him to finally say to people to go home, Don.

LEMON: Yes. Like all of America, people are screaming at their TVs, stop this, what is happening and then nothing for hours and hours.

GANGEL: Right.

LEMON: Elie, this committee has been working for almost a year. They have done about a thousand interviews. They have tens of thousands of documents including text messages, call records, e-mails.

So how do they use all of this evidence to make the most effective case and also tell a coherent story to the American people about what happened. Because the court of public opinion is also very important in this.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Don, it's the same challenge that a trial lawyer faces. You have this information for months and months of investigation and you have to be able to tell the story in a coherent, compelling fashion.

And I think Jamie already hit on two of the main points that I would be trying to make to the American public if I was putting these hearings on. Number one, was Donald Trump warned in a compelling way that there could be violence. And if so, I think that is a game changer.

And the second on is, what did Donald Trump do during those key moments. Not only did -- we know that he sat there doing nothing but he also, let's remember. set this whole thing in motion. So, he sort of lit the spark and did nothing while the fire burned.

So, the question is what exactly was he doing inside the White House those, during those key hours. And if they can't answer those questions then I think that's really going to advance the knowledge that we have here.

LEMON: Jamie Gangel, what are you hearing about who will be called to testify? Has anyone been notified?

GANGEL: So, what we have been told is that the committee is still finalizing the witness list, that no one has received a formal invitation yet. That said, we know some very likely witnesses will be.

So, first of all, former Justice Department officials, acting attorney general Jeff Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, likely to be witnesses. Also, top Mike Pence aides like his former chief of staff, Marc Short, and his general counsel, Greg Jacob.

And we've also been told that the president -- look, we have been told that the Trump children and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Don Jr. were all interviewed behind closed doors. I believe that they were videotaped. The question now for the committee is, do they want to use that videotape, or are they going to call them back for the public hearings, Don.

LEMON: OK. So, Elie, what happens if somebody refuses to testify at these public hearings? I mean, we've gone through that, right, defying subpoenas, so on and so forth, but what about these public hearings, what happens if they say, I do not want to come?

HONIG: Here is the practical reality as we sit here now in the middle of May, it's probably too late for the committee to force anyone to testify who does not want to testify. Because ordinarily if somebody defied a subpoena, you could do two things. You can go to court and try to get an order from a judge requiring them to testify, or you can send it over to DOJ for a contempt prosecution to punish the person.

Both of those things either of those things will take way more than the three to four weeks we have until these hearings start. So as a practical matter now the committee is just going to have to rely on the goodwill and the patriotism really of the people that it needs to hear from.

LEMON: Boy, yes. So, we'll see. Stay tuned, watch this space. Right? Elie, listen, I also want to get your take on a New York judge setting conditions the former president must meet to avoid a civil contempt finding, including paying $110,000 in fines and explaining how his company handled post-it notes, how do you see this playing out?

HONIG: Well, I think this means that the judges just about satisfied that Donald Trump actually does not still have any documents that would respond to the subpoena from the New York attorney general's office.


The judge is just basically saying, OK, you still have to prove to me that what you did with these post-it notes and what you did with a handful of other boxes, once the Trump people can do that, it looks like the judge will release him from this contempt. But it's important to keep in mind the bigger picture here.

This is about a larger investigation the New York attorney general still has going on, which may result in a civil lawsuit by the New York A.G. against the Trump organization. That's the bigger picture here. But it looks like, for now, Trump is about to get through this contempt issue that he's had.

LEMON: Thank you both, I appreciate it.

Democrats failing to pass a bill in the Senate to protect abortion rights, while Republicans are promising that they do not intend to pass a national ban. Up next, we're going to talk about which is more likely to happen.



LEMON: A key vote on a bill aimed at protecting access to abortion nationwide failing in the Senate today after Republicans and one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin blocked it.

Today's vote coming in the wake of a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. President Biden calling out the GOP for blocking the passage of the bill, saying in a statement that this failure -- this failure to act comes at a time when women's constitutional rights are under unprecedented attack. It runs counter to the will of majority of the American people.

I want to discuss now. David Axelrod is here, CNN senior -- senior political commentator and former Obama senior adviser, also S.E. Cupp, CNN political commentator.

Good to see both of you. Good evening. Thanks so much.

So, S.E., --


LEMON: -- we knew this bill would fail. Everyone knew that. So, what is more likely at this point, the Democrats doing something legislatively to codify abortion rights or Republicans pushing a national ban, as Mitch McConnell hinted, at just, you know, but then later tried to walk it back.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think Republicans are very aware of the political ramifications of a ban on abortion, and national ban, and overturning Roe. They know that's deeply unpopular, it's deeply unpopular to ban abortions. Even Texas laws that effectively ban abortions are unpopular in Texas.

So, Republicans know that. I think they're trying to tread lightly on that, but Democrats, if they want to codify Roe into law, and it sounds like they do, there is -- there is a pathway to do it. But the pathway runs through Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who have a bill that will do just that.

As you know, Susan Collins is pro-choice. She has said as recently as today, that she wants to codify Roe before the Supreme Court has an opportunity to overturn it. Democrats are not taking that bill up as of today. And to me, that either means they don't want to take the issue off the table during the midterm election, or they don't want Susan Collins to get credit for it. So, it feels a little like they're playing politics with an issue that

is deeply concerning to a lot of women, not just on the left but in the middle and even some Republicans.

LEMON: David, you want to respond to that?

AXELROD: Well, I don't need to respond. I have agreed with this. I believe that Mitch McConnell and some of the more sober Republicans understand that they are the dogs that caught the car. And this is not a good issue for them. I think they were surprised that the Supreme Court was willing to go as far as they apparently are based on that draft opinion. And they know that is not politically helpful to them in the fall.

On the democratic side, S.E. is right, there are Murkowski and Collins who want to afford some sort of compromise. Here is Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia who says he is in discussions with them.

The reality though is finding the other eight Republicans who would vote to break a filibuster for that bill and passed this before the election has other political implications for the Republicans. And I just don't -- I don't see them doing that either. So, all of this is kind of a political kabuki game right now. I don't think much is going to happen on the national level.

LEMON: It seems like you both agree, you think that Democrats are playing politics with this, as well, even though they weren't the ones to push to overturn Roe v. Wade, you think that it has become political because they see it possibly is helping them in the midterms?

AXELROD: Yes, no, look, I think they sincerely would like to codify Roe, I think there's some very strong feeling among many Democrats about this, as a lot of Republicans and independents, as well. But I think they understand that that's not going to happen, and that this, in fact, is going to be an invigorating issue for young voters, for a lot of women and younger men in this country.

And that the turnout in November may look different than it would have looked a month ago, as a result of this issue.

LEMON: S.E., I know you want to respond, but let me just say this because I think it may help with your response.

CUPP: Yes.

LEMON: My question is, as we talked about this, right, when this leak, this draft leak first came out, how come no one is trying to do what the majority of American people seem to support, --

CUPP: Right.

LEMON: -- a constitutional right to abortion, but perhaps, with a little bit more restrictions than Roe allows?

CUPP: It is exasperating. I think this is why a majority of Americans one polled say they did not have faith in the two-party system because it is not representing us.


On the far right, you have crazy town, which wants no abortions. On the far left, you want crazy town, which wants abortions with zero restrictions. Most people are in the middle. They want abortion to be legal, safe and rare.

I am pro-life, and I want Roe to be settled law. I want abortion to be legal with restrictions. So, I think the loudest voices on either side of this issue are taking up all the oxygen, and solving none of the problems. And problems that they're not exist, for example, like I mentioned, a Texas law banning abortion that even Texans do not want.

LEMON: David, you talked about filibuster just a moment ago. Let's talk about it more. Because some Democrats are calling for ditching the filibuster to help push through abortion protections.

But, I mean, we have been here before, Senators Sinema, Manchin both against eliminating it, and I think even, you know, initially, Joe Biden said he was against it as well. Democrats may need it if they lose the Senate in the midterms. Do Democrats have any good options here?

AXELROD: Honestly, the only option they have is to go to the polls and elect more pro-choice legislators. I don't think that there is a political fix here. You are quite right as you just described the dilemma around the filibuster, it's really kind of an empty talk because there aren't 50 votes to change the filibuster. It's not going to happen.

And you are right that it could really come back and bite them in the butt, if, in fact, Republicans take over the Senate and decide that they want to pass legislation objectionable to Democrats.

So, no, I don't think there is a great answer here. I do think that it has the potential to influence some close races around the country, however, and I think that's where we're headed.

LEMON: S.E., I want to ask you what President Biden warned about. He said if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, same sex marriage will be next. Is that what the Republican Party is going to push forward, do you believe that?

CUPP: I mean, you don't, it's not theoretical, it's not a hypothetical, you just have to look at the things that the Republican Party has been doing over the past couple of years. And they have been marked by how punitive they are, right?

Punishing Disney for their stance on, you know, an LGBTQ bill, punishing women, punishing minorities, and, again, this is to assuage a very small condense minority of people that definitely make up all of the Republican Party today but that don't make up a majority or even plurality of the American voting population.

So, yes. I mean, usually when we make threats about what's going to happen if a party (Inaudible) in the midterm, they are hypothetical, this is what they could do. It's not hypothetical. We have seen what Republicans want to do. So, a lot of things, I think, are for sure on the table, on the chopping block.

LEMON: It's a dilemma really for, for a lot of us even in what we do. Right? The folks who you think are who would be traditional, sane Republicans won't say anything. Right? And the ones who will come are former -- you know, who have been in office before and don't really hold any power in Washington.

It's just really an interesting moment that we are in right now, it appears that we are going to majority rule. And I don't know, I really don't know what to do about it, except to keep talking about it here, every night.

Thank you both.

CUPP: Yes.

LEMON: Yes. I appreciate it. I'll see you soon.

From plane passenger to hero pilot, an update to what a transition that is, right? And update to a story we first brought to you last night, that's next.



LEMON: A miracle landing. Plain and simple. A passenger on board a small plane who has no flying experience is forced to land the aircraft after the pilot becomes incapacitated. Facing a dire situation, he stayed calm, listened to instructions from an air traffic controller.

More now from CNN's Carlos Suarez.


UNKNOWN: Caravan 333 lima delta, Fr. piece Tower.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A new pilot has joined the ranks of heroes like Captain Sully.

DARREN HARRISON, PLANE PASSENGER: I've got a serious situation here.

SUAREZ: Except this guy is not a true pilot at all.

HARRISON: My pilot has gone incoherent and I have no idea how to fly the airport.

SUAREZ: Darren Harrison is a passenger who had to land this single engine Cessna coming back from the Bahamas Tuesday after the pilot was incapacitated.

UNKNOWN: Caravan 333 lima delta, roger, what's your position? HARRISON: I have no idea. I see the coast of Florida in front of me

and I have no idea.

SUAREZ: Soon enough the plane was located on radar about 20 miles east of Boca Raton, Florida, and air traffic controller was Robert Morgan was urgently called in from his break to help Harrison who was suddenly in charge of landing a plane.

UNKNOWN: What is the situation with the pilot?

HARRISON: He is incoherent. He is out.

UNKNOWN: Three lima delta, roger. Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me, push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate.

SUAREZ: Morgan has been an air traffic controller for 20 years and is also a flight instructor. He took us up in his Cessna today to show us just how he helped Harrison get out safely.

ROBERT MORGAN, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: This is our propeller which moves the blades.

SUAREZ: Even giving me chance of taking over the controls.

I've never done this before. You get the call.


SUAREZ: What's the first thing that I need to do?

MORGAN: So, he was -- he was kind of like stable, right. He was already stable at 3,000. So, you're just going to grab the control wheel. You know, jet (Inaudible), not a lot of pressure. It's like holding your first girlfriend's hand.


SUAREZ: Teaching two novice pilots to fly in just two days' time.

MORGAN: So, you have the controls, so you're flying now.

SUAREZ: If there was ever a moment of panic for either Morgan or Harrison, you would never know by listening to their calm exchange over the radio.

HARRISON: He was a really good listener.

SUAREZ: And how good of a landing was it?

HARRISON: I would rate his landing a 10. So, I've never flown that plane and he landed it safely and didn't damage it and didn't damage -- nobody got hurt.

SUAREZ: The two were definitely happy to see each other after the plane was on the ground. HARRISON: You know, I was just about in tears. I didn't cry. I was

trying to be strong. He looked very manly, but kind of wanted to cry. It was just a lot of emotion. Gave him a big bear hug, shook hands. I told him I owe you a cold beer. He said, no, I owe you a cold beer.


SUAREZ: Don, Morgan tells us that the pilot was complaining of chest pains right before he passed out but that he was awake when that plane made the emergency landing out here. His name and condition have not been released and the FAA is investigating. Don?

LEMON: Carlos, thank you so much. Wow.

Governor Ron DeSantis championing a redrawn Florida congressional map which would reduce the number of Black-led districts. Now a judge he appointed is signaling that it may be unconstitutional.



LEMON: So, there's some news tonight that you need to pay attention to on the ongoing battle in Florida over the state's new congressional map. A state judge signaling that he is likely to rule that it's unconstitutional, agreeing with Democrats and voting rights groups who claim that the new map will diminish representation for black Floridians in Congress. That's because it decreases the number of districts where black voters make up a plurality from four down to two.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis who has his eye on the 2024 presidential election put forward the map and pushed it through the GOP-controlled state legislature. Now Florida is picking up one new seat in Congress due to an increasing population, but a majority Black district in northern -- the northern part of the state is eliminated altogether.

DeSantis also sliced up a Black district near Orlando in central Florida, shifting it into wider communities. Now the judge could rule as soon as tomorrow, the governor's office vowing to appeal. One footnote here, the judge was appointed to the bench by Ron DeSantis.

President Biden saying the U.S. is fighting on two fronts, inflation at home and helping Ukrainians push back Russia. Will that message resonate with Americans?