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Don Lemon Tonight

Close Fight In Pennsylvania's GOP Primary; Former President Excited Than The Candidate Himself; Originality Is Key In The General Election; Aaron Slater A True Hero. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 18, 2022 - 22:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Thanks for watching. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now with Don Lemon. Hi, Don.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I know what a huge fan you are of mine, so I know you are up to 2 a.m. watching results with us, weren't you, Laura?

COATES: That's why I was yawning. Because I just wanted to be there with you, ride or die.

LEMON: No. I hope you were sleep honestly. But we were here until wee hours and it's still not decided in may not be for a while, as you have been reporting. This is crazy. This is what when we say razor- thin, it's not an exaggeration.

COATES: No. And it's probably going to have a recount either ways you're going to have not just a day or two but maybe day three, four, five, six as they try to recount things.


COATES: But, I mean, it's the beginning of election season, really, and we're going to have a lot more of these. And I'll stay up with, you but can I watch golden girls in between?

LEMON: You can.

COATES: The John King segments? OK.

LEMON: Absolutely.

COATES: Thank you.

LEMON: but you know I got to run because Dana Bas is here. She doesn't like to kept waiting. Yes.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'll just keep watching you, Laura.

COATES: Hi, Dana Bash. LEMON: We'll see you later, Laura.


LEMON: As she says. Thank you very much.


And boy, if you're looking for election drama, you've come to the right place. It is a cliff-hanger in Pennsylvania. Look at that. OK? Those are the most up to the minute results. Trump endorsed TV doc Mehmet Oz, razor-thin lead over hedge fund guy David McCormick. In the Republican Senate primary, Oz just 1,241 votes ahead.


MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA Senate CANDIDATE: When all the votes are tallied, I am confident we will win.

DAVE MCCORMICK (R), PENNSYLVANIA Senate CANDIDATE: Now we're going to win this campaign, we're going to win this campaign.


LEMON: So, the fact is this race is way too close to call, with a 0.1 percent lead. Anything less than a 0.5 of course triggers a recount in Pennsylvania. The acting secretary of state telling CNN a decision on a recount could come by next Tuesday. But that is not stopping the former guy from urging his candidate to just declare victory. Which is not how it works. Not in a democracy. That's not how it supposed to work.

But that's what you do if you are following the playbook of the then president who in 2020 said, "frankly, we did win this election." That was a quote, right? While the votes were being counted. Spoiler alert, he did not win. But he's been pushing his bogus big lie of election fraud ever since.

And whoever finally comes out on top in this race will face the Democratic candidate Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman in the general election. He trounced his challengers, even from his hospital bed, where he is recovering from surgery to implant a defibrillator after he suffered a stroke last week.

And all of this, all this drama could impact who controls the United States Senate. That's what is at stake here. We have a lot more on all of this ahead, and we also have some new developments tonight on that racist massacre in a supermarket in a mostly black neighborhood in Buffalo.

Stories of survival. I talked to the incredibly brave eight-year-old girl who was hiding with her dad, separated from her mom.


UNKNOWN: I wasn't scared. I was just scared for my mom. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes. She was worried about her mom in another part of the store.

Stories from heroes like the market worker who barricaded his co- workers and customers in the store's break room, blocking the door with a table.


JEROME BRIDGES, SCAN COORDINATOR, TOPS SUPERMARKET: I just want to make sure I kept the customers and my other three co-workers very safe. So, even if I were to die, it would've been, you know, me dying protecting them.

UNKNOWN: You're ready to take a bullet for them.



LEMON: And tonight, exclusive, I'm going to talk to the son of the hero security guard who lost his life trying to stop the shooter. Police say there might have been more victims if not for his heroic actions. That is coming up. So, we have a lot ahead -- a lot ahead.

But I want to go right to CNN's Jeff Zeleny live for us in Philadelphia tonight. Jeff, good evening to you. My former city that l lived for quite some time and reported from there. So, thanks for joining us.

Listen, the Senate race in Pennsylvania, the Republican primary still too close to call, and you're speaking with advisers from both campaigns. What are you hearing from your sources?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Don, after a day long series of counting in all 67 counties across this commonwealth, the Oz and McCormick campaign agree on one thing. They know that this race is not going to change dramatically. There is not going to be a sudden rush of votes from any one place. This is going to be a county-by-county vote by vote grind over the next several days.

They believe from talking to advisers in both campaigns, this is likely to be a race that is won or lost by hundreds of votes, if that, not thousands. But we do know some things have changed throughout the day, hour by hour, county by county.


The McCormick campaign, Dave McCormick of course, the former hedge fund executive and an army veteran, he has been gaining ground against Dr. Mehmet Oz. Early this morning, the Oz campaign had a healthier lead. That has been cut down to just slightly over a 1,000. And it's been really, you know, in small bits, in dozens here, dozens

there. One example we all had our eye on today was Lancaster County. There were some 20,000 mail-in votes that were misquoted. That means the outer coating on the envelope simply could not be fed through the scanners. The votes were right inside on the ballot but they had to be opened automatically and re-coded.

So that is, you know, virtually done, there's about 4,000 or so left but in that one county alone the McCormick campaign had a net gain of 61 votes. He actually lost that county.

Kathy Barnette the insurging candidate who ended up getting third place overall, she is leading in Lancaster County, McCormick got 61 net gain votes there. So, county by county that is what the change is. So, this is going to go on for the next several days. Provisional ballots where each campaign is going to potentially argue over if a ballot could be counted, if it shouldn't be counted. If you can define the (Inaudible) what the voter was trying to do.

You know, this is all going to play out as we've seen recounts play out. But they believe by the weekend there should be a sense in most of these counties what the actual outcome is. But again, we are talking hundreds, Don. We're not talking any more than that.

LEMON: OK. So, Jeff, if it is a 0.5 percent then, so speaking of recounts, is an automatic recount inevitable at this point? Clarify that for us.

ZELENY: It certainly -- it certainly seems to be. And state elections said that decision will be made on Tuesday. And it is one half of one percentage point. And we are talking that 1.3 million votes cast. So, the margin would have to grow up to about more than 6,000, maybe 6,500 or more votes, and it simply does not seem that that is going to be the case.

So, both sides are bracing for a recount. But we should clarify. A recount is simply an automatic, sort of, revising of the tabs. They just run the numbers again. They don't recount every ballot per se. So, the key thing here is, the count going into the recount. What the count is, by next to Tuesday or so.

So that's why the next few days are critical, the count is more important than the recount, if you will. We almost never see an outcome reversed by a recount. SO that is why the next days and hours are critical. That's why all the campaigns really have people and eyes on all 67 counties across the commonwealth here. But if you are at a McCormick campaign tonight you have a slightly more optimistic because of the trajectory of the race at least over the last 24 hours, Don.

LEMON: My next question is a quick on. I'm just a bit envious or jealous. Which part of the town are you in? Do you know?

ZELENY: We are in center city, between Center City and Old City, not too far from Independence Hall. So, it's been a great day here. We spent most of the day in Delaware County, of course the collar county key to all of this. So, always great being in Philadelphia. And Don, we'll back be back here a lot, obviously --

LEMON: Right.

ZELENY: -- because this race in November which will be so critical.

LEMON: Yes. That's my old hood, by the way. Old City. Thank you. I'll see you later. Have fun and enjoy.

ZELENY: Thanks.

LEMON: There's a great night life there, go have one. All right. Jeff Zeleny in Center City, Philadelphia.

Now let's bring in CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and, political analyst Astead Herndon.

BASH: This is our nightlife.

LEMON: I know. I'm a little punchy because I was up till 2 a.m. and get up early this morning, but Philadelphia is a great, great city, and I think miss living there. It was fantastic.

Good to see you both.

BASH: Sure.

LEMON: You don't like to be kept waiting either, I know. So, I didn't --



LEMON: But Dana, I'm going to start with you. So this primary in Pennsylvania talk about -- this is a major cliffhanger. It could have a huge -- it's a huge implication, right, for who controls the Senate. How do you see the dynamics playing out?

BASH: And that's the key that we shouldn't lose sight of. There are -- there's so many plots and subplots going on, particularly, as you were talking about this cliffhanger with who is going to be the Republican nominee. But the reason, particularly on the Republican side, it is so critical, is because this is an open Republican seat.

And it's an open Republican seat being left by Pat Toomey, who, for the most part, was rather moderate as compared to many of his Republican colleagues, and most importantly, when you look at the Trump era, he voted for the impeachment. For -- in the impeachment trial he voted yes for Trump's impeachment after the insurrection.

So, if you think about that in the context of the way that most of the Republicans on all of these ballots were campaigning in this year, talking about the 2020 election, what a stark difference.

LEMON: Let's talk about Fetterman, John Fetterman, who won this primary from his hospital bed because he was getting a pacemaker put in. Six foot eight, tattooed guy, goatee, I don't know, and have you ever seen him in a suit? I'm not sure --


HERNDON: I have not.


LEMON: Does he -- does he challenged the conventional wisdom about what unelectable candidate looks like in our current political climate?

HERNDON: Yes. I think that the mere question answers itself. The fact that every part of the Democratic Party is really trying to lay claim to Fetterman right now, speaks to the way that he has really shown himself as an asset in Democratic politics.

He is not some who has full-throated progressive positions, right? He is someone who comes kind of in line with Pennsylvania on issues like fracking and other things. But you have someone who's also embraced some progressive language on other issues as really on issues of race and others, been kind of -- been an open liberal who is willing to deal with some of those questions, who is willing to deal with cultural issues and kind of take them straight on.

But he has said that the key to his success is really not an ideological question but ongoing and seeing all of Pennsylvania and going county by county and kind of looking a Trump voter directly in the eye and saying, I am one of you.

I think that is really the question of electability, not necessarily moderates or progressive, but are you willing to go, are you willing to talk.

LEMON: Well, he is trying to appeal, he's a progressive but he's trying to appeal to the rural voter, right?

HERNDON: Certainly.

LEMON: Not the so-cityfied voter, right? But the question is, is he going to appeal to black voters? is he going to lose support from black voters. Because you know, Malcolm Kenyatta, right, his opponent in the race, one of his opponents, repeatedly pointed out what happened he had an incident in 2013.


LEMON: Where he left his -- left home with a shotgun to confront a black jogger who turned out to be unarmed. Do you think he's going to lose, is it going to hurt him in the black community?

HERNDON: We've heard the story pop up consistently. We have seen how some of the opponents try to weaponize it, and we haven't really seen it resonate on the black voter level, in particularly in the primary.


LEMON: People don't care.

HERNDON: We haven't seen people care yet. I don't think that's to say it won't. General election will be different time, but you got to, but at this point he will be going up against a Republican that will be hard-pressed to make those arguments.

I think if we would have seen Kathy Barnette come out of the Republican side, someone who is willing to kind of use their identity in the same way, but I think Fetterman is probably resting a little easier on that issue knowing that he can go to those voters and say well, at least look at the Republicans, I at least have a history of working with this community even outside of that incident.

BASH: He will have that, but it's hard for me to believe that if not the Republican candidate or the party there will be outside groups --

HERNDON: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BASH: -- who will try to nail him on that issue because some of the lower tier candidates did try to bring that up with him but his biggest opponent, at least at the beginning of the primary, Conor Lamb who is -- was supposed to be kind of the classic kind of Democrat who should win in a purple state like Pennsylvania, he's a moderate, he is a veteran, and he didn't stand a chance against someone like Fetterman, for all the reasons that you brought up. That it's not about moderate versus progressive. It's about sort of his personality and what people perceive as authenticity.

HERNDON: I sometimes go back to what we came through with the Democratic primary. Obviously, Joe Biden is a unique political figure, but there will become these moments when he would say something on the trail and we get -- I would get a side story to go to South Carolina to see if these folks had abandoned him because of the next thing he did or the next incident.

And when people have a familiarity with the vote, or when they feel like they're voting for harm reduction, when they feel as if it's someone they understand, there's a lot of -- there's a lot of things that black voters have been used to looking past because of imperfect candidates for a long time.

And so, I'm not saying that he will not have a problem with it, but I think you should check some of our assumptions about where these voters are coming from because we haven't really had evidence yet that it's hurting him.

BASH: It's fascinating.

LEMON: I mean, voters are -- I used to vote in Pennsylvania. I used to cover the elections there. I mean, they can be very pragmatic about it. I should say harm reduction, right?


LEMON: The lesser of two evils --

HERNDON: Exactly.

LEMON: -- if you want to put it that way. I don't mean that they're evil, you understand that this is the figurative speech. But let's talk about Donald Trump, Dana --

BASH: Who?

LEMON: -- encouraging Mehmet Oz to declare a victory. Right? Despite this is deadlock. I felt like, my goodness, this is 2020 all over again. So, he wants to cheat against fellow Republicans then?

BASH: Pretty much. I mean, there's no other way to put it. He wants -- he wants Oz to win because he wants to win. He endorsed Oz. He did so despite a lot of people around him, close to him, and even on the outer ring of his circle, saying don't do that. What are you doing? Don't endorse him. Stay out of it. Or, you know, pick a different, a different battle to fight.

And he decided that, for lots of reasons, not the least of which is Mehmet Oz is a celebrity and Donald Trump felt a kinship to him. He says I'm going to support him. And so, you have to remember that in this race Donald Trump sees his own viability for the future through the eyes of the viability of Dr. Oz. And so, that is, he wants him to run this race the way the former president, not would, but did.

LEMON: He's not the king, but he wants to be the kingmaker. Right? So, he can feel some degree of like --



BASH: He understands that's how he is going to be judged.

LEMON: Yes. So, he did point out, Astead, that, meaning Trump, that, you know, all of the candidates as it, quote, "were ultra MAGA," presumably referring to Oz, McCormick, and Barnette. But even if all the Trump endorsed candidates didn't win last night -- was last night a good night for Trumpism.

HERNDON: I think it was. I mean, I think that it was because Trumpism is the Republican Party at this point. We had several candidates who were successful who were -- who were really like Trump, talking about that, quote, unquote, "big lie, the election fraud," and really embracing it that at this point is a grassroot motivating issue in Republican primaries.

It is turned from something that might be controversial in the general election to energize on the primary front. So, I think we have to say that that's Trumpism winning. Still, there were several Trump endorsed candidates that lost. But he's coming off of certain victories too.

He has Vance in Ohio. There are other Trump endorsed candidates, Oz, and then North Carolina, him winning. But we should know that looking had the biggest swing that he took, the figure he took a swing at in this primary, probably is Governor Brian Kemp in Georgia who at this point is looking to be able to fend that off rather easily.

So, whether Trumpism came out of this primary looking OK, Trump himself is a mixed bag. And I think that that pretty much aligns to what we know his grip on the Republican Party is. We know that he's the most important figure at this moment, but the idea that he has full vise grip on the party is still out in question.

LEMON: But is it Trumpism. We keep saying it's Trump. Because listen, it was a tea party, and whatever.


LEMON: And Republicans have just been getting, you know, more extreme, to the right, moving further and further to the right. So it is, you know, it's part of the trajectory. Right?

BASH: It is. And he has been telling associates that he is, I don't know if concerned is the word that he used, but the message that he is sending is, he's not sure that he -- that he, Donald Trump, is in charge of Trumpism anymore.

LEMON: Right.

BASH: And that was specifically referring to Kathy Barnette --


LEMON: That's what I meant. It was like, this is like a train that was already --

BASH: Yes.

LEMON: -- already had the momentum, right?

BASH: Yes.

LEMON: And Trump came along and just put, and you know, he sped it up.

BASH: Exactly.

LEMON: I want to ask you, because I think this is really important. Doug Mastriano.

BASH: Yes.

LEMON: So, if he wins, right, then he will be the person who appoints the people who decide the electorate.

BASH: Correct. The secretary of state.

LEMON: The secretary of state. That is a terrifying prospect. he was at the capitol for the stop and steal rally. The person who is an election denier will be in charge of appointing the person who will decide an election in Pennsylvania.

BASH: Not only was he at the capitol, but he used his position in the Pennsylvania legislature to try to stop the Pennsylvania votes from being certified --

LEMON: It's frightening.

BASH: -- on behalf of or in favor of Joe Biden because that's the way the voters wanted it to be. So yes, you say if he wins. Right now, if you look at everything on the field, it's a big if, but it's not completely out of the question because it is a very, very tough year for Democrats.

LEMON: Yes. Everyone is saying, well, if Mastriano would -- Democrat Josh Shapiro is going to win, but you don't know, we don't know.

BASH: We don't know.

LEMON: We don't know. Thank you.

HERNDON: Thank you.

LEMON: Good to see both of you.

BASH: Nice to see you, Don.

LEMON: Good to see you. In person, right?

BASH: Yes.

LEMON: Primary season is heating up and one of the hottest races to come is in Georgia. That's next week. You know that the state where the then president pressured the secretary of state to help him find 11,000 -- I just need 11,000 more votes, 11,780 votes.

Well, the state now investigating his election interference. I'm going to talk to the lieutenant governor who decided not to run in the face of the big lie. That is next.



LEMON: Votes still being counted tonight in Pennsylvania's GOP Senate primary, and in just days voters will head to the polls in the Georgia primaries. The state was a prime target for the former president's election lies after he lost in 2020. Now will be a key test of his influence over his party.

Joining me now to discuss Georgia's Republican Lieutenant Governor Jeff Duncan. Lieutenant Governor, thank you. I appreciate you joining.

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (D-GA): Glad to be here.

LEMON: So, something in particular that I want your take on about this Senate race in Pennsylvania. President Trump taking to social media, to social media platform this morning and urging Dr. Oz to just go ahead and claim victory, just declare victory. If Republican candidates start claiming fraud even in the primaries, is that a recipe for disaster, at least utter chaos?

DUNCAN: Yes. Certainly, it's not a good step forward. Look, follow the rules, count the votes, and move on. If you won the race, you are in the title to go play in the general, if you didn't, move on. And quite simply we should've learned that lesson here. We last lost two Senate runoffs in our runoff period because we tried to talk about the 2020 cycle instead of just talking about our records.

LEMON: You know, you oppose the former president's election lies but because of that and the environment in the party you're not running for reelection this year. Do you see any sign of the dynamic in the Republican Party changing, or is the big lie alive and well, and that's just the way it is?

DUNCAN: Yes. I know, certainly, it is. I mean, every metric you look at is pointing towards a deflection away from Donald Trump. I mean, think about the Pennsylvania race yesterday, the Senate race. Seventy percent of Republicans didn't vote in favor of Trump's endorsement.

We're going to watch this race down here in Georgia. Seventy plus percent of people are going to vote against Donald Trump's endorsement for governor. It's -- I think folks are waking up in the mornings worried about inflation and they're going to bed worried about 1,000- point drop in drop in the stock market. They're certainly not worried about some sort of conspiracy theory that's not proven to be worth its weight and salt.

LEMON: I want to talk about your state, Governor, up next week. There is a new Fox poll out just tonight that has Governor Kemp adding to his lead. Sixty percent of Republican primary voters backed him, 28 percent backed the former Senator David Pursue in March and found that, Fox found that a smaller camp lead, 50 percent to 39 despite early and vocal support by Trump, is the race running away from Purdue? And why is that happening?


DUNCAN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, David Perdue is going to get trounced on Tuesday. And rightfully so. Brian Kemp has done a really good job leading the state, certainly through the election debacle, through the pandemic, through some social unrest that we had here.

He's done a good job leading and I think that a lot of folks on the middle agree with that, along with the folks on the right. And he is going to, you know, he is going to continue to be our governor.

David perdue ran a synthetic campaign because he believed Donald Trump meant what he said, that if he endorsed him, he'd win. And he didn't. He didn't raise money. He didn't get the votes. He didn't get the support. And he's not going to win.

LEMON: You know, the same poll also found that 37 percent of Georgia Republican primary voters said that Trump's endorsement makes them more supportive of Perdue, almost the same as if it had no effect. Twenty-four -- with 24 percent saying that it made them less supportive. Is Trump's endorsement becoming less potent in Georgia?

DUNCAN: Yes. Absolutely. And I think it's all over the country. But Don, interesting to think about this. I was thinking about this on the way in the studio. A year ago, who would've thought that probably the two most poisonous endorsements would be Joe Biden on the Democratic side and Donald Trump on the Republican side, going into these primaries, and then going into the general setting?

I mean, it's wild to think it, but that's really what's playing out right here. And in Georgia continues to be on the tip of the sphere. And I think the rest of country is going to learn the lesson that we're learning that it is about leadership, it is about the quality of the candidate, and it is about a vision looking forward. How do you get outside of this mess we're in right now?

LEMON: That is a very astute assessment about the Democrats and the Republicans. And quite frankly I've never thought about that, but you're right.

Lieutenant Governor, on the -- on the Senate side, Trump endorsed big lie supporter Herschel Walker he is expected to win the nomination in an effort to unseat Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in the midterms. But could Trump's obsession with the 2020 in these primaries hurt the party in the general election?

DUNCAN: Yes. If all we do is just say, hey, I'm friends with Donald Trump therefore I'm going to win, I think we've got a huge problem. Herschel Walker, every poll shows him way out right now, so I don't want to necessarily, you know, call him the winner, but it certainly looks like he's got a strong, strong lead.

If he doesn't, you know, talk about something more than just his endorsement by Donald Trump, Raphael Warnock is not going to be held accountable for his record, and, you know, he probably ends up winning.

But if Herschel Walker can get serious, along with other candidates around the country, and diving into the issues and talk about how they will work to solve inflation, crime, health care, all those big issues, I think the majority of Americans care about every night.

LEMON: Listen I want to play for the viewers this infamous call that the former president made to the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, trying to overturn the 2020 election, and then we'll talk.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes. Which is one more than we have, because we won the state.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: It really is, I mean, it's outrageous. I mean, this is one of -- to hear him, every time I hear that, this is one of the most dangerous investigations facing Trump. Do you think he will face consequences for his attempts to put his finger on the scale there?

DUNCAN: A here and a half later that phone call is still hard to listen to.

LEMON: It's amazing, right?

DUNCAN: And I give -- I give Brad Raffensperger all the credit in the world. He held himself together. He's a professional. He did with 11 million Georgians elected him to do on that phone call, and certainly through the election process.

Look, the courts are going to figure it out. I know the D.A. is looking into and in Fulton County has already got a grand jury assembled. I'm going to let them do their work. And I'm going to focus on the future.

We've got a lot to do in my party and I think we got a lot of work to do in the Democratic Party to try to, you know, fix the rules of engagement here to start talking about real issues. Real issues are not conspiracy theories. They are not farfetched partisan divides on social issues.

The real -- the real problems that folks are talking about at the kitchen table right now, how they're going to pay for groceries, how they can afford to fill their gas. Are they going to get laid off because their stock price went down 20 percent today? These are real issues that I think our next batch of leaders in this country are going to have more solutions for.

LEMON: Lieutenant Governor, before I let you go, looking back now, overall, this time, it's been over a year, almost two years actually since the election, do you have any regrets about the stance you took about not supporting the big lie?

DUNCAN: No, absolutely not. It was the right thing to do. And look, I'm not getting out of politics because of Donald Trump. I'm not getting out of politics because of any other reason that I want to be a part of the solution of healing and rebuilding the party that I call home. And that's the Republican Party. But we've got our work cut out for us and I'm up for the challenge.

LEMON: Thank you, Lieutenant Governor, I appreciate it. You be well.

DUNCAN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

The suspect in the racist mass shooting in Buffalo inviting people to see his plan just 30 minutes before the attack. Now the New York attorney general is launching an investigation into several social media platforms.



LEMON: Buffalo in mourning following the horrific racist mass shooting at a supermarket in a mostly black part of town on Saturday. The attacker killing 10 people. The suspect an 18-year-old a self- described white supremacist.


The New York Attorney General Letitia James announcing an investigation into the social media companies used by the suspect. That, after a social media platform, Discord, revealed he invited people to see his plans for the attack 30 minutes before the shooting.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd in Buffalo for the very latest on this. Brian, good evening to you. The A.G. is investigating several platforms, including Twitch, 4Chan, Discord, as we are learning more about when the suspect invited people to see his plans. What are investigators looking for?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, they are focusing on what you just mentioned, that kind of bone-chilling 30 minutes before the attack occurred, his reveal of his attack plans. And he did this on the online chat form, Discord, in a private chat form on that app. And he invited just a few select people to look at that.

That's what's key here. Because only a few people were able to see those plans. This was kind of a diary of the plans that he had been making for the past six months. And those included the fact that he chose the zip code here in this area of Buffalo because of the high percentage of black people in this area.

That he visited the store three times on the date of March 8th, going in and out of the store, surveilling it, drawing a map of the inside of the store, that he wanted to -- he took note of how many black customers and white customers were in the store at any given time. That he actually planned for this attack on March 15th, but he had to delay it several times.

That's all information that's on those plans that he revealed 30 minutes before the attack. And I spoke to a former FBI special agent, Jonathan Lacey, about this earlier today. And he said the FBI is going to have to go after those people who they can find out who viewed those plans, Don, the see if they were complicit in this and what they knew about them.

LEMON: And that and other issues that we are hearing about the shooter. You were there in Buffalo. Is there a sense in the community that multiple red flags were missed?

TODD: There is, Don. And people here are frankly outraged by it. You know, the victims' relatives and the people in this community, they know that someone knew something at some point. Now a lot of that we are still piecing together, as far as what the parents know. But here is where the people in the community know that the parents

have to had known what happened. This incident in June of 2021, where he made a threat as part of an online school project, a threat to commit murder suicide. They -- this threat alerted teachers enough so that they called the state police to come and get him.

The state police take him to a hospital. He is evaluated for a short time, released and nothing is done after that. That's what the people in this community know. And they are, frankly, furious over that. Just in and of itself, Don, that piece of information on that one incident is enough to make these people very, very angry that signals or missed.

LEMON: Brian Todd in Buffalo. Brian, thank you very much.

He sacrificed his life trying to stop the massacre, exchanging gunfire with the shooter at the Tops market. Security guard and retired Buffalo police officer Aaron Salter is being called a hero. His son is here to talk about his life and his bravery. That's next.



LEMON: So, this is, this is the person that we have been wanting to hear from. OK. So, pay attention to this next interview, please. The Buffalo community is still reeling obviously from the loss of 10 people killed in this mass shooting at a supermarket on Saturday, including the hero security guard, Aaron Salter Jr. There he is on your screen. Fifty-five years old. He was or tired Buffalo police lieutenant. Died trying to stop the gunman.

City officials say that more people would have died in the shooting if Salter hadn't intervened. So, let's talk to his now, Aaron Salter the third, Aaron Salter's son. Aaron, I really appreciate you joining us.

AARON SALTER III, AARON SALTER JR.'S SON: Yes. Of course, no problem.

LEMON: How are you doing?

SALTER: I'm doing OK. I'm just trying to stay strong during this time.

LEMON: Yes. And your mom?

SALTER: She's -- she's doing better. She's -- you know, with all the support that we have been getting and all the help within the community, Buffalo, Lockport, she has been doing -- she has been doing better.

LEMON: Listen, she's, over the last few days, it's understandable she's been very protective of you and family members. And you have not spoken up because it's tough for everybody. I mean, they were married for 33 years. And she doesn't want anything to happen to any of you because this is something that is so unusual, and so sudden, shocking and tragic. SALTER: Yes, yes, she really cares. And you know, she just wants to

make sure that we are OK. But at the end of the day, I'm just trying to make sure that she is OK because, you know, he was the provider for 33 years. So, it's all about her right now.

SALTER: Why did you decide to speak out?

SALTER: I decided to speak out because at the end of the day, my dad was a hero. And I want everyone to know that hate has no place in America, Buffalo, it doesn't matter what state you live in, it has no place here. I wanted to let everyone know that, you know, he went out because he was trying to protect everyone. He made Tops his priority. Even though he was retired, he cared about Tops, he cared about the people who came in there every day, he cared about the employees. And it was his duty to keep everyone safe. And he went out doing that.

LEMON: The president, President Biden talked about your father during his visit to Buffalo yesterday. I want to play a little bit of it and then we'll talk about it.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Aaron Salter, 55, retired Buffalo police officer for three decades -- three decades. Loved electric cars. Hero. He gave his life to save others on a Saturday afternoon.



LEMON: I understand that your family had the chance to meet with the president. Did you share anything with him about your father?

SALTER: Yes, he, you know, he came in the room and met with us, individually. He comforted everybody and told everybody that, you know, this is a terrible situation. What happened, everyone is feeling it, but at the end of the day, you had to stay strong and stick together, and be there for each other and that's how we are going to overcome this tragedy.

And he just told us to just be there for each other through this time to get through it. And you know, that's what my family is all about. So, just hearing it from the most powerful man in the United States, it meant the world to me.

LEMON: The Buffalo mayor, Byron Brown, says that if your father hadn't engaged gunfire with the shooter, then more people would have died in that supermarket. And I'm sure you're not surprised by his bravery. I don't know if that, I don't if anything can offer you any degree of comfort right now, but does it, knowing that your dad was a hero, does that help at all?

SALTER: It means the world to me because I know -- like, I'll just keep -- I think that's what chokes me off the most is, I know that if my dad -- you know, if my dad was evenly matched with him, even though he came with all that hate, if my dad was evenly matched with him, it would have been a different outcome because my dad, you know, all he cared about was helping people, you know.

He, the way I see it, my dad probably heard the gunshots and knew something was going on. He just sprang into action. And you know, that's the man that I know. And he did. He didn't run away from it. He just engaged him. And he, you know, he went out like a hero. He went out trying to save someone's family member who went into that store that day to get a cake for their kid's birthday.

And you know, unfortunately, couldn't make it out, but if it wasn't for him, it would have been way more than the people that did unfortunately succumb to the violence. So, you know, I know for a fact that he would really -- he would really be, you know, happy that we are talking about him right now because, if it wasn't for him, like I said, it could've been a lot worse. It could've been.

LEMON: I think what you just said, if your dad had been evenly matched, it would've been a different outcome. You also said something that I thought was just as profound. You said that the hatred that your dad encountered in his last moments needs to be overcome by the good that your father brought to the world. Tell me about that.

SALTER: He just, I, you know, I reach -- people reached out to me. I've been getting messages over the last couple of days about -- I had people who went into the store as just regular customers telling me, hey, I know you don't know me, but we were going to Tops, and your dad would say, hey, nice shoes.

Or, hey, nice jeans. You know he would always say nice stuff to people if he, you know, if that's what he really felt. And I had one guy reach out to me and said, hey, you don't know me, but I know you dad, and I used to go to Tops all the time. He used to keep that old school that he had clean, because my dad had an old-school car that he got when he retired from the police force. He bought one because he always wanted one.

But he did. He always kept a clean. And the fact that as a customer found me out of everyone on Instagram and DM'd me and told me, hey, I knew your dad. When I came in there, he always said some nice stuff to me, and he always get kept that car that he had clean.

That meant the most to me because my dad -- that was the epitome of my dad. If you were going to get a nice comment from him but you are going to see, he always kept his car clean, and that was his baby. And it just, you know, it just means a lot.

Like when I was at my darkest time, when I found out what happened to him, when I saw that comment, it brought me so much joy even though I could be thinking about the negative right now, and the bad and the hatred that the guy showed, but when I saw that comment, it just made me feel it. I just bought it, and said, this is for you that, this is for you. LEMON: So, listen, I understand, I appreciate it. And for full

transparency here, I understand that you wanted to do this interview with me because I understood sudden loss. That I faced the sudden most recently my sister.



LEMON: And I still talk to her. I mean, I just say, you know, I'll go and start talking to her as if she is around, or whatever.


LEMON: Do you talk -- do you to him? Would you say to him?

SALTER: I just, you know, I just look at, you know, lately, I'm just been looking at just photos. We got -- I went to my aunt's house, we have so many photos of him. And then like, when people talk about him, I can just still hear him, I can hear his tone of voice, I can hear his laughter, you know, I still get glimpses.

I really had a good relationship with my dad. And I talked about at almost every day. I would call him. So, and I still have text messages from my dad. I still have thread of text messages that I have saved on my phone that I read just to have that, just to feel like I still have him with me.

But you know, every day that I wake up, you know, I wake up in the morning now, and I'm like, Aaron, you know, your dad is gone. You know? But what are you going to do about it? And then I just look at the pictures. I look at -- I just look at, you know, I go to my parent's house. I look at what he left. I look at what he did.

And even though he is gone, and I can talk to him every day, I can still feel him. I think that's what is helping me right now. Is that, I can still feel his spirit. And I know that he is looking at me proud of me because I'm carrying in myself in a way right now that he would be proud of. I'm remembering his legacy in a way that he would be proud of.

You know, I'm there for my mom right now, I'm there for my sister, I'm doing what I know you would want me to do. And I guess that's giving me peace during this time.

LEMON: I still have voice mail messages that --


SALTER: That's what's helping me through.

LEMON: -- that I listen to. You are a good man. Your dad was a good man. And I love that he like old cars.

SALTER: Yes, yes.

LEMON: That is a sign of a good person, if they like old cars.

SALTER: Yes, definitely, they have history.

LEMON: Aaron, I'm so happy that you appeared. I'm grateful and honored, as a matter of fact. Thank you so much. Be well. Cherish the memories.

SALTER: Thank you.

LEMON: All right.

SALTER: Thank you.

LEMON: And say hello to your mom and tell her we're all thinking about her. I hope that she gets to watch this watch this. So, she is watching now. She raised, she and your dad raised a really good sun.

SALTER: Thank you, I appreciate. it.

LEMON: Alrighty, be well.

SALTER: Alrighty, take care.

LEMON: We'll be right back.



LEMON: Tonight, old glory waving once again about the U.S. embassy in Kyiv. The American flag raise today as the embassy officially reopened in Ukraine's capital.

Three months ago, just ahead of Russia's unprovoked invasion of its neighbor, the embassy was closed. U.S. diplomats were first move to Lviv in western Ukraine. But once the invasion began, the State Department moved the American personnel to Poland for safety and suspended all diplomatic services in Lviv.

The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken marked the reopening of the embassy, saying today that the U.S. stands proudly with Ukrainians as they defend our country from Russian aggression.

What has election season shown us so far, twists, turns and some incredibly tight races. We are going to break down what it means for November next.