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Don Lemon Tonight

Pennsylvania Nail-Biter: Pennsylvania GOP And Dem Senate Primary; Buffalo Shooting: A Story Of Survival; Dow Posted Its Biggest Loss Since 2020; Putin's War In Ukraine; Raging Wildfires: Climate Change Increasing Wildfire Risk Across The Nation. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 18, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. It is a nail-biter. The primary race for the GOP Senate nomination in Pennsylvania is still too close to call.

A brave young survivor of the Buffalo massacre, an eight-year-old girl, hid inside a milk cooler with her dad as the shots rang out. We are going to hear the family's story just ahead.

And on the frontlines near Kharkiv, Ukrainians defend their land from Russian shelling and Russian looting.


VSEVOLOD KOZHEMYAKO, UKRAINIAN BUSINESSMAN: They think that because America is giving us everything for free, and they hate us for that, and they rob us, and they kill us.


LEMON: CNN is on the ground in Ukraine just ahead. But I want to go to right to CNN senior political analyst Kirsten Powers and Mark McKinnon, the former advisor to George W. Bush and John McCain and executive producer of "The Circus" on Showtime. Good evening to both. Good to see you, guys.

Mark, the Pennsylvania GOP Senate race is (INAUDIBLE). The Democratic candidate won in a landslide from the hospital and the man who won the GOP race for governor is an election denier. What does all of this tell us about or tell you, I should ask, about the kind of campaigns that we are going to see heading into November are just for the future?

MARK MCKINNON, FORMER ADVISER TO GEORGE W. BUSH AND JOHN MCCAIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF "THE CIRCUS": Well, I think Pennsylvania is significant for a lot of reasons, Don. We can re-do a lot of results that happened last night in different states, but Pennsylvania is key for a bunch of reasons.

The most significant outcome of the election yesterday was, of course, that we have the tight Senate race, but the governor's race, which was won by Doug Mastriano is the real news to me and the real flare for problems down the road.

This is a guy who not only endorses the big lie in 2020 but was at the Capitol. And as we think about -- I think about problems with the Trump-led Republican Party. We talk about the culture wars, what have you. Those are all issues we can talk about, but the most significant thing to me is the big lie and overturning our democracy and an insurrection at the Capitol that almost lost -- we almost lost our democracy. We came very close, we now know, thanks to the January 6 Committee.

But if this guy is in charge, Doug Mastriano as governor in Pennsylvania in 2024 be appointed as secretary of state, and if we want to know what he is going to do in 2024, just look at what he has done.

And I think this has large consequences as well, Don, for the Senate race, because whether or not Mehmet Oz or Dave McCormick, they're going to dragged down by Doug Mastriano. And every day, they're going to be asked to comment on him. Either McCormick or Oz could potentially be a strong general election candidate, but I guarantee you that they're going to have to answer for Doug Mastriano.

So, Doug Mastriano's election is bad news for the county and is bad news for the Republican Party.

LEMON: And Kirsten, let us talk more about that race for governor.


I mean, Josh Shapiro, who is a Democratic nominee, ran ads calling Republican nominee Doug Mastriano one of Donald Trump's strongest supporters, which could have helped him win last night. How dangerous do you think is this kind of tactic, especially since we have seen it backfire before? And if this election denier wins, he is going to have the power to appoint the secretary of state.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I mean, I think it is risky. We obviously have seen it backfire on Democrats being excited about certain people like Donald Trump being the nominee and that didn't go so well.

But I do think that we have to be careful not to assume that, you know, we have this one candidate out there in Republican Party that is really scary and trumpy and, you know, and that is the only problem.

Yes, he is an extreme version of it, but it is not like the other people who are winning primaries with or without Trump's endorsement frankly, aren't also denying the election was won by Joe Biden, even if you look at the other candidates that are touted as being, you know, saner versions on the Senate race in Pennsylvania. Every single one of them says that Joe Biden was not elected president.

So, this is a, you know, five-alarm fire, this happening all across the country, and I think that Doug Mastriano is just the crudest form of it. But it is happening everywhere and that the winner really, I would say, in most of these primaries is the big lie.

LEMON: I want to play something. These are some of the Republicans who are saying -- what they're saying about the GOP nominee for Pennsylvania governor pushing election lies. Here it is.


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD) (voice-over): Some of the statements I think that individual has made aren't real.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC) (voice-over): I don't think 2020 is gonna be what people are wanting to think about.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC) (voice-over): I think in some of these, particularly battleground states, that may not be a winning message.


LEMON: So, look, you know, Mark, Kirsten just said, hey, look, we don't know how this is going to turn out. It could be good. I mean, is Doug Mastriano -- do you think he is going to be a liability for other Republicans on the ballot in November or so soon to tell?

MCKINNON: Oh, I think he already is, Don. I think (INAUDIBLE), you know, clearly the environment is going to be weighted election for Republicans in a state that is a key swing state for the Senate and for other elections. This is the -- this outcome gives Democrats some hope in a key state.

And Kirsten mentioned Josh Shapiro is a very good candidate, but I think against another Republican nominee, given the environment, he would have had an uphill climb. Now, I think he goes as the all-time (ph) favorite.

And by the way, his message is exactly the opposite of Mastriano's. I mean, he is running on the fact that the big lie is a big lie, that American politics is the notion that there was fraud in the 2020 election. So, it will be a stark contrast.

And by the way, I also think he is going to help Fetterman because, as I said, what is going to happen for McCormick or Oz, whoever wins the recount, they are going to have to answer for Doug Mastriano. And, you know, if not for Mastriano, they would be able to tack (ph) to the right and be kind of a Toomey -- Pat Toomey is sort of a Republican that Pennsylvanians are used to. I think that is the natural instinct.

POWERS: I don't understand how they would do that when they've already -- they've already taken the position, that they already have basically said that this is what they believe? They're just not saying it as crudely as he believes. I don't know how you suddenly turn on --

LEMON: I want to ask --

POWERS: And just to clarify also -- I just also want to clarify --

LEMON: Let her classify, Mark.

POWERS: The only people I think who are endorsing the big lie are the Republicans. I know the Democrats aren't endorsing it. What I'm saying is that this is something that is very much a part of many of these races regardless if they are like Doug Mastriano.

And I agree Democrats are looking and saying that it is giving them hope where -- Pennsylvania, for a lot of people, they've written it off. I'm just saying let's just not pretend that this is some isolated incident where this isn't something that has infected the entire Republican Party.

LEMON: And Mark -- and another thing, Mark --


LEMON: And another thing, Mastriano, I mean, he won by large numbers. So, you know, I'm not -- I don't know. I don't know.

MCKINNON: Well, let me clarify something. Dave McCormick does not say that Joe Biden is not elected president. He does not endorse the big lie. And Oz is unclear about it as well. So, both of those candidates are not completely --

POWERS: I don't think that right. That's not my understanding. But --

LEMON: Go ahead. Go ahead, Mark. Make your point because we cut you off. What do you want to say?

MCKINNON: Well, the point is that McCormick and Oz, as to understand, are fairly establishment Republicans. And I believe the record will reflect that they have said that Joe Biden is the duly elected president and have not endorsed the big lie. We will clarify that later.


But the point is that Mastriano, no matter where they are, is going to pull them further right than they would normally be and make it less likely that they -- it will it a more contested race for Fetterman.

LEMON: I don't believe that McCormick has endorsed the big lie. I don't think that he did. I think he ran away from Trump. I don't think that he embraced Trumpism, the 2020 big lie.

POWERS: I don't think he had been asked if Joe Biden was the elected president of the United States.

MCKINNON: That is part of why he endorsed Oz. He said that McCormick didn't -- won't endorse the big lie.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

MCKINNON: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: The Pennsylvania lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, easily winning his state's democratic Senate primary even after a stroke on Friday and surgery to implant a defibrillator while voting was underway. But before questions on the candidate's heath enter the conversation, some raised questions about his look and the progressive -- his progressive policies.

At 6'8", fan of shorts and hoodies, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman is anything but your typical Senate candidate. But with his big win, will Democrats try and replicate his candidacy across the country?

Let us discuss now with someone who should know as a former governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell. Good to see you, governor. How have you been?


LEMON: You guys had a raucous one, still going on. So, listen, let us talk about Fetterman. He beat Conor Lamb, a suit and tie (ph) Democrat, by double digits. You've endorsed Fetterman in the past. You say that he is -- quote -- "one of the best retail candidates" you have ever seen. What is his appeal? Explain.

RENDELL: Well, right now, people are looking for a fact. People are real. They aren't just regurgitating lines that their handlers have given. And John Fetterman is always real. He is real always talking to one person. He is real when he is on TV. He is authentic. He is who he is. He is comfortable in his own skin. I think that works very well with people. He is looking for people who they can believe are telling the truth and telling what they really feel. So, he is an engaging candidate.

Conor Lamb was a terrific candidate. Won victories three times in districts that President Trump carried fairly large. To beat Conor Lamb the way that John Fetterman did was extraordinary.

LEMON: Yeah. Looking at Fetterman's progressive credentials, he wants to legalize pot, he supported Bernie Sanders, he is vowing to wage a culture war counterattack against Republicans. But he is quick to shoot down notions that he is too progressive, saying things like -- quote -- "I've never been for defunding the police."

Can you think -- you think he can win back votes, the votes of blue- collar voters who have left the party in recent years?

RENDELL: Sure. He is very difficult to peg. He is conservative or moderate. For example, of course, he is against defunding the police. And secondly, he is for fracking it, which is something that the progressives are wild about in Pennsylvania. But he is for fracking because he understands it is important for our economy and it is a bridge to the day when we have enough renewables to fuel our electricity.

So, those positions are moderate. He is progressive on some and moderate on some. He is tough to put in a box. That is part of his appeal.

LEMON: Yeah. I was speaking to one of our political commentators earlier and it was something that one of his opponents was hitting him on, an incident that he had with the unarmed Black jogger and whether or not that was going to hurt him. He said, it did not appear that it had any impact in this race.

And the reason I'm asking you is because you talked about his authenticity and that is what people are looking for. He has a sort of the everyman vibe, hoodies and cargo shorts, but he also has a master's degree from Harvard, by the way, an MBA. So, do you think that other Democrats around the country are going to try to duplicate this or do you think that is just going to come off as phony?

RENDELL: Yeah, you can't duplicate it because it will come off as phony. I remember when I was running for governor. My handlers wanted me to do TV ad in agriculture. They wanted me to wear overall. I haven't worn an overall, I think, since I was six years old.


RENDELL: I would look stupid in overall. I said I will do the ad, but I will do it in suit and tie (INAUDIBLE). You don't expect a big city mayor from Philadelphia to know much about agriculture. But I do. I worked hard and I talk to a lot people. People want people who are authentic.

John Fetterman, I think, is a perfect candidate. I think he is going to win big because people know that either Oz or McCormick, neither of them lives in Pennsylvania. McCormick grew up in Pennsylvania, but he lived in Connecticut. Oz lived in New Jersey. (INAUDIBLE). People can't just come in and set up shop for their office.

LEMON: Uh-hmm. I want to put up this new CNN poll. Majority of Americans -- 53% are saying that they feel burned out by politics.


I hear it all the time. It is -- you know, I dip in and out, Don, to watch you, but I'm just -- it is a lot for me, everything that is going on, politics, the shootings, the war and all of that. Does that -- do you think frustration, that speak to how frustrated the people are with the candidates? They just don't like what they're seeing?

RENDELL: I think they don't like the negative ads. If you live in Pennsylvania and saw the Oz versus McCormick ads, people spending $50 million on ads, attacking and ripping each other to shreds, and people are tired of that. They're tired of that.

But on the other hand, people say, well, people are disgusted (INAUDIBLE) vote. One thing I think people are not underestimating is what the Roe v. Wade decision would do (INAUDIBLE). And it is because (INAUDIBLE) if Mastriano wins, he is for criminalizing abortion with no exception. That will cause panic, if that happened. People will come out of the Philadelphia suburbs, Pittsburgh suburbs, (INAUDIBLE) suburbs. They will come out in droves (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: Yeah. Former governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, it is a pleasure to see you, sir. You be well. Thank you.

RENDELL: Thank you.

LEMON: As Buffalo mourns in the wake of the horrific racist massacre over the weekend, we are getting more stories of bravery from the people who were inside that supermarket when shots rang out.

Next, I'm going to talk to a mom, a dad, and their eight-year-old daughter who says that she wasn't scared, she was just scared for her mom.




LEMON: As shots rang out at the Tops supermarket in Buffalo on Saturday, a store employee quickly led three coworkers and a handful of consumers to safety in a break room.


UNKNOWN: And then that is when I thought to myself, he might come busting through the door, so, there is an old oak table back there that I put through the door with one arm and barricaded the door.


LEMON: Well, he says dozens of people were shopping as the shooting began. Among them, an eight-year-old girl and her parents, but they were separated. Mom was on one side of the market. The little girl and her dad were on the other side and took cover inside a milk cooler. Fortunately, they all survived. But it took 20 long minutes until the carnage ended and they were reunited.

So, joining me now to tell their story, Londin Thomas and her dad, Lamont, and her mom, Julie Harwell. I'm so happy that you guys are here. Thank you so much for joining us. Lamont, how are you doing tonight?



LEMON: Uh-hmm. Yeah. What about you, Londin?


LEMON: So, you all were shopping, Lamont. You and Londin, you went to grab some cake mix when the shooting started. So, tell us what you did.

LAMONT THOMAS: Yeah, like, we were, I took my daughter down to find some cake mix so we can make a surprise cake for her birthday. And as we were trying to head back towards Julie, that is when all the shots rang out, you know. So, I took Londin in, geared her back. We followed an employee to the left, to the milk coolers. You know, we were just hiding back there waiting for the shots to stop. But after a minute, they just never stopped and just continued. So, I kind of like put Londin in the corner between the shelves and tried to block her off with whatever I could find. There wasn't much back there that I could find, so I just put my body over her, put my hand over her mouth to keep her quiet.

And then as the gunman was still shooting, he attempted to actually shoot through the coolers, but the bullets never penetrated, so it never went through, but we could see just the milk or whatever he shot through whatever cooler it, there was just milk leaking out. We were just happy that the bullets did not penetrate and he didn't make his way to the back to see if anybody else was back there.

LEMON: Londin, what were you -- what were you thinking as all of this was going on. I mean, your dad said he had his hand over your mouth. He is trying to shield you. Were you scared? What were you thinking?

LONDIN THOMAS: I wasn't scared, I was just scared for my mom.

LEMON: Julie, she said that she was worried about you because you were in another part of the store. And then you heard these multiple gunshots. Then you heard the shooter's footsteps, I understand, getting closer. Tell me about that.

HARWELLL: It was like the scariest moment of my life because I never thought something like that would ever happen in Buffalo or anywhere else. I know it happens, but we just thought never in our city. So, I had to just think like fast because I couldn't even process or think twice about what my next move would be. So, yeah.

LEMON: You actually saw the shooter, I understand, coming around the aisle and starts shooting. At one point, you were actually just a few feet away from him. What did you see?

HARWELL: Yeah. That is when I guess it got real to me because I didn't know what was going on still until I saw him.


So, yeah, it was surreal.

LEMON: Yeah. So, Lamont, you said that you and Londin were hiding in the cooler. You said you were trying to shield her and cover her mouth. Were you saying anything to her like keep quiet or it was just so fast?

LAMONT THOMAS: Well, she was like just asking me about her mom and I was just like I don't know where your mom is. Hopefully, she will just -- I'm trying to keep her calm. At the same time, she wasn't -- she was crying but she was crying because she thought that her mom was out there while these shots are being fired. The only good thing is that she never had to walk out there. She just was able to hear it.

LEMON: Listen, Julie, although Londin and Lamont escaped and they were hiding in the milk cooler, you didn't know this for quite some time. You ended up outside the store, I understand, for 20 minutes not knowing if they are all right. What was going through your head?

HARWELL: I am frantic because I am not, even knowing that the killer is like two feet away from me getting arrested, I still was oblivious because I did not know if they were safe or not. So, I was just going crazy basically.

LEMON: Yeah.

HARWELL: I couldn't even think. No one would tell me anything. It was just longer than -- the time was longer than I thought it was.

LEMON: Yeah. You know, Lamont, it is -- I'm glad you guys are okay and I'm sure obviously you are happy that your entire family is intact. But so many people lost their lives and so many families are affected. What do you say to the folks who are involved here because look, no one -- we can't even imagine what the community is dealing with there?

LAMONT THOMAS: Right. It is very sad, man. So many people who weren't able to really get away and just -- a lot of senior citizens in that community will shop on the regular. They are not mobile like that. They can't really get away from something like that.

You don't think that it is going to be something like that. You know, your initial reaction is this is just like, duck down, hide, take cover, and it will be over soon. But it is just was never over. You just thought you were put in a position that you thought you would never ever be would be in.

LEMON: Yeah. Anywhere. I imagine that there is a time that when it is going through your head and when it is happening, it takes a while to even -- for it to get to your through head that this is real, like, wait a minute, is this real, is this real life that I'm dealing with right now.


LEMON: The store is closed now. The supermarket is closed. And I would imagine now it is like, you know, there is a makeshift memorial. It is kind of this odd place that is a reminder of what happened. What is it like there now with the supermarket closed? What is the impact?

HARWELL: It bothers me to even get a little bit close to where it happened because it brings back so many memories and none of them that I want to remember or have that mental state like paranoia or just having anxiety now. It is just hard to be there.

LEMON: We know what this gunman said about why he did it, right, this racist act. Why do you think he targeted your community?

LAMONT THOMAS: I am just still confused on that. I have no idea why he would drive that far away to come there. I don't know what was going through his head.

LEMON: Well, Londin, again, I know that it was scary for you. Again, as I said, you are incredibly brave. When you first saw your mom after this, what was that like for you?

LONDIN THOMAS: Great. It was good.

LEMON: Thank you, guys. Thank you, Londin. Thank you, Lamont. Thank you, Julie. I appreciate it. Is it your birthday?

HARWELL: Thank you. Yes, my birthday was the next day.


LEMON: And you never got your cake, but you got your family.

HARWELL: Yeah. Material things doesn't matter at this point, right?

LEMON: Yeah.

HARWELL: I have my daughter and still touch her and feel her and kiss her and hug her.

LEMON: You guys be well. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you appearing. Take care.

LAMONT THOMAS: No problem.

HARWELL: You're welcome.

LEMON: Thanks, Londin.

LONDIN THOMAS: You're welcome.

LEMON: We will be right back.




LEMON: I'm sorry I have to report this to you, but the Dow is closing down more than 1,100 points today, the biggest loss since the height of the pandemic in 2020. The drop coming after one of the nation's largest retailers said that it is getting hammered by inflation.

CNN economics commentator Catherine Rampell is here. Catherine, hi. This one hurt. So, break it down. What specifically sparked today's big sell-off?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS COMMENTATOR, OPINION COLUMNIST FOR WASHINGTON POST: Well, there are a few things going on but basically some of the major retailers, specifically Target and Walmart, had really disappointing earnings. I guess even with all of that corporate greed, it wasn't enough to sustain the level of profits that they were experiencing before.

And they're kind of getting hit from both sides in that their costs are up, input costs are up, shipping, everything that goes into getting the stuff on the shelves, that has gotten higher, so that is eating away at their profits.

And then there is also this fear that consumers are getting spooked by high prices and the fact that interest rates are going up is starting to bite. Maybe you don't want to put as much stuff on your credit card, right, if you don't plan on paying it off at the end of the month because the interest rate has gone up.

So, these retailers are getting hurt essentially by the fact that consumers are pulling back at exactly the same time that their own costs are going up. And as a result, the profits are down, everyone is getting spooked about that, about the risks of recession, et cetera.

LEMON: So, that is what the new survey shows. Most CEOs are bracing for recession. What does that mean for us, the consumers?

RAMPELL: Well, historically, a recession means demand falls. People stop spending as much. Businesses stop spending as much. Maybe people lose jobs.

The current situation suggests that there may not be as much job loss or even any job loss if you are listening to the fed this time around because right now, there is so much more demand for workers than there are workers available.

Maybe the businesses could just say, okay, we are not going to post as many jobs, and that is how we will cut back. we will cut through attrition rather than laying people off.

So, the hope is that if there is a recession, it will be milder, particularly with the labor market, but there is just so much uncertainty right now about the path of what the fed is going to do, the path of the pandemic, the path of this war in Ukraine that has also disrupted a lot of markets, that it is really hard to make any predictions with confidence.

LEMON: Tonight, we are hearing that the House passed a $28 million emergency funding initiative to address the baby formula shortage. The Biden administration also invoking the Defense Production Act to alleviate the crises. Do you think that is going to make a difference?

RAMPELL: I think it could help on the margin. I don't know that is going to be exactly what we need right now. The problem with something like the Defense Production Act is it is really helpful if the companies that are making baby formula are having difficulty getting raw materials, right? Then you can redirect other companies in the supply chain to only sell to them. That doesn't seem to be what the problem is here right now.

It is not that they are having difficulty getting raw materials. It is that an entire factory was shut down, right, because of safety concerns. And so, even if you move heaven and earth to get more raw materials to the existing producers, they probably can't scale up enough.

And the same thing with sending these military planes as the Biden administration has announced to bring more formula from abroad, won't hurt, maybe it will help a little bit on the margin, but the reason why we are not bringing in more imports, the baby formula now, isn't that there are too few planes, it is that we have a lot of restrictions on what kinds of baby formula can be sold in the United States. Even from countries with very high safety standards --

LEMON: Right.

RAMPELL: -- like we basically import no baby formula from Canada right now because there are a lot of regulatory barriers and very little from countries like the Netherlands and New Zealand for the same reason.

So, you can send more planes, but unless you expand the universe of again safe, healthy, clearly-labeled baby formulas that you allow in, it is not going to increase the supplies that much. But maybe it will stop panic hoarding. You know, maybe people will see these announcements and say, okay, I don't need to stock up as much and that will alleviate the shortages a little.

LEMON: Shall I even say thank you?

RAMPELL: It's good. I'm not -- there is nothing much they can do at this point.

LEMON: Thank you, Catherine. I appreciate it. It is good to see you.

RAMPELL: Good to see you.

LEMON: We will be right back.




LEMON: New video showing Ukraine's national guard blowing up a key bridge in Luhansk to stop Russia from advancing. Ukrainian forces saying tonight that they have recaptured another settlement in the Kharkiv region just miles from the Russian border.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has the latest from the frontlines.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Every inch of respite from Russian shelling here comes at grotesque costs. What once rained down on the second city of Kharkiv now lands here.

(On camera): Somebody smuggled it?

UNKNOWN: Yes, keep the distance.

PATON WALSH (on camera): I do.

UNKNOWN: Keep the distance, okay?

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Ukraine declared here (INAUDIBLE) liberated over two weeks ago, but it is never simple.


(On camera): These tiny villages, which before the war were places you would not notice driving through, have now become the key battlegrounds to defend vital cities like Kharkiv.

(Voice-over): While the fight to protect Kharkiv still rages, with every step, fast and cautious because of mines. Russia's border is now just nine miles away.

Did you think that you would be this close to Russia?

UNKNOWN (on-screen translation): To be honest, no. Quiet doesn't happen here. But that's good for the mood.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): But Russian troops are even closer.

(On camera): That is in the forest across the field over this wall that they say, frequently at night, Russian reconnaissance troops try to move in on the village.

(Voice-over): The next tiny hamlet is being fought over and this is where Kharkiv defense cannot fail. The U.S.'s most effective gifts in some of Ukraine's youngest hands. This is a home-grown defense: Volunteers, software engineers and economists funded mostly by our guide, a farming millionaire. Russia's brief occupation never planned to leave anything of value here. A van full of TVs from looting.

KOZHEMYAKO: They say that we live better. And they do not even think that something is wrong with them, not with us, you know. They think that because America gives us everything for free, and they hate us for that, and they rob us, and they kill us.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Here, they hold back an enemy but slowly proving as inept as it is immoral by placing incredible value on the smallest patches of their land.

(On camera): The Ukrainian forces said that they had success today in pushing further north from where we filmed that report, a matter of miles possibly closer yet still towards Russia's border. But it changes back and forth all the time.

And in the way in which they see success one day in one area, in another area, too, closer to the border further towards Russia's supply line, Ukraine had to admit they saw some setbacks at the same time.

So, constant fluidity here but no doubt in that report you saw there that if we are looking at the longevity, it is the Ukraine's morale that is certainly is higher. Don?


LEMON: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.

Out of control wildfires are already a major problem all across the U.S. And get this, the country isn't even in its warmest months yet. CNN is in New Mexico tracking a wildfire, next.




LEMON: Raging wildfires are a major problem this year across the U.S. More than 1.3 million acres have been burned so far and the hottest months have yet to come. The situation is extra bad in New Mexico, which is also experiencing a terrible drought. Farmers in some parts of the state being ordered to stop watering their crops. There's just not enough water to go around.

More tonight from CNN's Rene Marsh.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): These are mobile homes.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mobile homes and mansions on fire in Southern California. Flames also turning homes to ash in New Mexico. Eleven large wildfires are currently burning across the U.S. So far, more than 1.3 million acres have burned. That's more than double the same period last year.

MAYOR LOUIE TRUJILLO, LAS VEGAS, NEW MEXICO: We have never had a fire this big.

MARSH (voice-over): New Mexico has been in the bullseye of a megadrought. The state's largest reservoirs are at critically low levels. The Calf Canyon Hermits Peak wildfire is the largest in the U.S. and bigger than New York City. Wind gusts as high as 70 miles per hour have been fueling it.

New Mexico recently issued an unprecedented order, mandating farmers in some areas stop irrigating their crops -- quote -- "in the interest of public safety to make water resources available for wildfire activity."

MICHAEL QUINTANA, FARMER: Right now, all these sprinkles would be running --

MARSH (voice-over): Michael Quintana is a third-generation farmer near Las Vegas, New Mexico.

QUINTANA: It is completely open. There is no water, as you can see. Right now, we have it completely open and there's no water coming out.

MARSH (voice-over): All of his irrigation lines are dry. The wildfire is miles away from his 600-acre farm and yet it will wipe out all of his crops because of the state order mandating he temporarily give up his water rights.

Have you thought about what that means for your bottom line?

QUINTANA: It's nonexistent. At that point, we have no revenue from this farm.

MARSH (on camera): The water stopped flowing to this farm just four days ago and this canal used to be full. But now, it's just down to a puddle and you still see the water line from where the water used to be.

(Voice-over): This was the canal before the state stopped water flow to his property.

(On camera): Do you have no idea how long you'll have to forgo using your water or give up your water rights?


MARSH (on camera): Could be months?


QUINTANA: It could be years.

MARSH (voice-over): New Mexico's early more intense fire season is sparking fear that extended firefighting activity could significantly deplete the area's dwindling water supply.

TRUJILLO: It's actually in the forefront of my mind. You know, that another catastrophe could be taxing on our water supply.

MARSH (voice-over): Climate change has increased wildfire risk and a new report for the first time maps the areas with the greatest risk and how that is projected to increase over the next 30 years. A total 80 million properties are at risk with 10 million facing moderate to extreme risk. Data projecting this will become the norm and more farmers like Quintana will be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice -- relinquishing water rights to save the lives of those in the line of fire.

(On camera): Well, Don, several other farmers have also temporarily given up their water rights to ensure there's enough water to fight what is now the largest wildfire in New Mexico's history. Now, the governor asked the federal government to cover 100% of disaster costs, including compensation for the farmers, due in part because of a prescribed burn set by the U.S. Forest Service that has really increased the severity of these wildfires, Don.


LEMON: Rene Marsh, thank you so much.

And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)