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Don Lemon Tonight

Primary Election Races Test Trump's Grip On GOP; Georgia Investigation Into Trump's Baseless Claims Of Voter Fraud; Georgia Senator Warnock Is Running For Key U.S. Senate Seat; House Passes Bill For Immediate Family Members Of Supreme Court Justices; Severe Flooding Forces Yellowstone National Park To Close. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired June 14, 2022 - 23:00   ET



KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is essentially a two- man race. One of the candidates is a former attorney general, Adam Laxalt. He is someone who many of the voters we spoke with today at various polling centers said that they consider the frontrunner. He is the more established candidate, he has been in office, he has a better-known quantity, and he has Donald Trump's endorsement.

But he has seen a late challenge from a political newcomer, Sam Brown, and he is someone -- an army retired captain, someone who earned the Purple Heart while he was in Afghanistan when he was injured, who has seen some grassroots energy, a lot of support, able to buy at time. And so, a lot of sorts of the grassroots Republicans say that they support him.

So, we are going to see how that race shapes up because, Don, what it is going to do, it is really going to set the stage for what happens in November. Who the Republican will be and challenging the Democratic incumbent, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who is defending a seat -- a seat in a state where Joe Biden won by just about two percentage points?

So, it's really gonna be a nailbiter today, a lot of Republicans believe, but we will just have to see as these votes start being counted, Don.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And John King, you are following key races out of South Carolina incumbents, Representative Nancy Mace and Tom Rice, Representative Tom Rice. Rice is one of the rare Republicans who impeached Trump after the insurrection. What is the latest there?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, let's move across the country, Don, and look at the House primaries. You pull up South Carolina, votes coming in a bit more quickly than Kyung's experience in Nevada, but we are several hours in now and you see this is very interesting here.

The seventh district, Russell Fry is Donald Trump's candidate here. He is a conservative running against the incumbent. Tom Rice has had that seat in 2012. He won big in the Tea Party year of 2012. He's getting 25% of the vote right now. That is disappointing for a Republican incumbent who has represented the district for a decade, 99% percent of the vote in.

We are still counting the final votes, Don, because that 51 is important. You had 50% plus one, you avoid a runoff, and Russell Fry would be the Republican nominee in a very republican district.

So, it looks at this moment that Tom Rice will be defeated. He voted, as you said, to impeach Donald Trump, and Republican voters appear ready to punish him. We will get to the final math.

And the other grudge match for Trump is down here in South Carolina's first district. This is Charleston, and then further south along the coast, Nancy Mace is the incumbent that Trump wanted to lose here. Trump endorsed Katie Arrington at the moment with about 78% of the vote counted. This is a closer race, 53 to 45. But significantly, at the moment, Nancy Mace, Don, is still above 50.

I just want to note, if we look at the district this way -- let me just move it up this wan and look at the district from this perspective. This is by county in the district. Katie Arrington's base is down here. I just want to check. Only 50% of the vote counted down here.

So, if you are in the Arrington campaign or the Mace campaign, you're looking to see, this is where Katie Arrington runs strongest, and so you're looking to see if she could make up the ground. But if you look overall, again, we are getting close to 80%, Nancy Mace has a nearly 5,000 vote lead. We will come to the end.

LEMON: All right. John, let me ask you, there is -- Texas tonight, there is a special election there. What can you tell us about that?

KING: This is an interesting one as well because this is a democratic seat. The democratic incumbent resigned, so they have a special election. Let me bring it up for you on the map. Because it is a special election, it is a little funky to get to the program. Let's pop down here to the end and bring up the state of Texas and move it over, this House general election.

Number one, you see the strangely-drawn district, we can have a week- long conversation about Texas, gerrymandering if you like, but it is the 34th district, it was represented by a Democrat, and look right here, 97%. We are still counting.

But the Republican candidate, Myra Flores, was at 51%. (INAUDIBLE) a little bit tonight, Don. I'll bring that back. She is at 51%. If she can hold that and stay above 51%, she will be the congresswoman only through January. This race will be re-run in November. This is to fill the remainder of the term.

But Democrats have a very narrow majority in the House. If she were to win the seat, Myra Flores, I believe that would make it 220 to 210 with five vacancies. And so, for the next couple of months, it would impact the margins in the House. But we will watch until we are completely done. If she stays above 51%, she will be the congresswoman for the rest of the year.

LEMON: All right. John King, Kyung Kah, thank you very much.

I want to bring in now CNN senior political analyst Kirsten Powers and political commentators Bakari Sellers and Scott Jennings. Hello one and all. Good evening.

Bakari -- Bakari, you are supposed to be here. What happened? I thought that you are going to be sitting on the set with me. I was all excited about it and there you are in your home studio. I don't like it. I don't like it. This is your home state, though. What is your reaction to how South Carolina, this primary, is playing out?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think it is what most people thought at the beginning of the day. You had two candidates, both who oppose Donald Trump at different times. But candidates actually matter. Russell Fry was a great candidate and he pulled off a defeat of Tom Rice, and Katie Arrington simply is not a good candidate --

LEMON: Hey, Bakari, I don't want you to speak out of term. We have a result in South Carolina.


I want to get back to John King and then we will continue our discussion. Mr. King, what do you have for us, sir?

KING: It is just the exclamation point. You can look at the map now, about what Bakari was just talking about. That is, in the first head- to-head primary matchup, people who voted for Donald Trump, Republicans who voted for Donald Trump who decided not to run, but in the first head-to-head republican primary matchup, somebody who voted to impeach Donald Trump, that would be Tom Rice, he has lost to Russell Fry.

We are now projecting this race. He is above 501%. Therefore, Russell Fry will be the nominee. This is the seventh district in South Carolina. Bakari knows the neighborhood well, it is Myrtle Beach.

Then it stretches out into this much more rural, much more conservative area here. I will just show you quickly, Don, how it breaks down by county, to bring it up, if you look at it this way, and that tells you the sweep of the victory. Russell Fry not only won the primary tonight, he won, he leads, carried every county in the district.

So, this is a victory for Russell fry. This is a victory for Donald Trump. It looks like it would be a split decision if Nancy Mace holds on. But for the congressman who voted yes on impeachment, who said he was proud of that vote, Donald Trump is going to say, gotcha.

LEMON: Huh! John King, thank you very much. We appreciate it. That is why we have John King there. Let's go back to the folks who were discussing. Bakari, you want to pick it up from here?

SELLERS: No. I mean, I think that what John King said was right. But one of the things I wanted to point out is in these races where Donald Trump is endorsing, the quality of candidate matters. In South Carolina, you saw that dichotomy there.

But also, the districts matter. You know Charleston very well, Don. Charleston is turning. It is a purplish, bluish-type of district surrounded by Buford and Dorchester, Berkeley, et cetera. That is where Nancy Mace is running. It is not nearly as conservative as where Tom Rice who got defeated by Russell Fry tonight.

And so, those two things actually matter. You know, Donald Trump is going to claim victory tonight, but he was still 50% today.

LEMON: Yeah. Are you surprised by this, Scott?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No. Rice actually cast two weird votes. You know, he voted, I believe, to reject the electoral vote counting. So, he initially sided with Trump on rejecting the electoral college in at least a couple of states, then he turned around and voted to impeach Trump. So, if you can get on the wrong side of virtually everybody within about a five-minute period, he figured out how to do it.

You know, Mace is -- Mace's transgressions were more rhetorical and she ran a pretty good race. So, I am glad Mace survived, and I agree with Bakari. I think candidate quality there also played a big role. I completely concur. So, good job for Nancy Mace and glad that she will likely be going back to Congress.

LEMON: Ah, do you care to comment on this, Kirsten? It's not your home state. You're not a Republican --

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's not my home state, I know. But I do actually agree with what Scott just said in terms of, you know, Mace being basically in a swing district. So, it is a different district and there are very different kinds of votes. You know, wanting to certify the election, I think, is possibly something that can be overlooked in a way than impeaching Donald Trump can't be overlooked. Obviously, it made Rice a real target for impeachment.

LEMON: Kirsten, let me ask you about --

JENNINGS: Hey, Don, before we --

LEMON: Yeah, go on. Yeah.

JENNINGS: Oh, sorry. I was just going to say, before we move on from the primaries, I want to pick up on the Texas race. I know we haven't talked about it much. But this Texas 34, the district is right on old lines. So, Biden won this by four. Republicans are going to win it tonight. And then in the fall, I think it has been redrawn into like a Democrat plus 15. So, it will probably go Democrat in the fall.

However, 84% Hispanic population in that district. Hillary Clinton won that district huge. Barack Obama won the district huge. Biden, it was a narrow victory for him. You can see in terms of like larger macro political issues right now going on in this country, to me, tonight, Texas 34, the movement of Hispanic voters towards the Republican Party in that part of Texas, to me, is one of the biggest stories of the night. I know it is not quite final yet, but it is a big deal.

WALLACE: What do you make of that -- do you see a trouncing, Kirsten? I think Scott is indicating that there is going to be a trouncing of Democrats come midterms. Do you agree with that?

POWERS: Well, I think that is sort of the expectation. I think if we look at it, given historically, this was being -- I mean, we were all predicting quite some time ago even before Joe Biden's approval ratings got to the point that they are, the Democrats are going to have a hard time because historically, that is what happens to the president's party in the first midterm election.

I think that a lot of things now have come together to make it even tougher to rein for Democrats because of what is happening with inflation. You have a CNN poll showing that that is the number one issue with voters and they prefer Republicans by 20 points on that issue. It is an issue that unfortunately Joe Biden does not have a lot of control over.

And so, you know, gas prices are high and that is very tightly connected to the approval ratings of the president. So, yes, I think the expectation is that Democrats are, you know, not going to have a great midterm election.


LEMON: Uh-hmm. Let's turn now to January 6 before we were so not really rudely interrupted by Scott. You know, took us down (INAUDIBLE). January 6 Select Committee has been presenting videos of multiple Trump insiders saying that everybody knew Trump's election lie was bogus. I just want to -- will the committee's work have any impact on these races, Bakari?

SELLERS: That is a good question. I think that Kirsten just said it best. I mean, when you think about inflation, when you think about gas prices, and the issue she didn't mention which is also very high on voters' minds. In fact, was just saw Val Demings' introductory ad talk about it and tackle that issue as crime in the rise of violent crime.

And so, I think those issues, while January 6 is going on, is going to be kind of difficult for it to cut through. But what you have seen is something that I did not think was quite possible, which is this committee has put on not just thrilling TV to watch it, but they've utilized the words of Republicans.

This isn't a one-sided idea at all. This isn't a one-sided committee with one sided testimony. When you look at the spat today between the Diet Pepsi drink and Rudy Giuliani versus Jason Miller and others, you see that this is actually the inner workings of the Republican Party. Will it be a major issue? Yes, but I think it will be a major issue along with three or four other major issues.

LEMON: Uh-hmm. The January 6 Committee putting out a video tonight previewing what is to come. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: He started to ask me about something dealing with Georgia and preserving something potentially for appeal. And I said to him, are you out of your f-ing mind? Right? I said that I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: Orderly transition. I said, I don't want to hear any other f-ing words coming out of your mouth no matter what other than orderly transition. Repeat those words to me.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): What did he say?

HERSCHMANN: Eventually, he said, orderly transition. I said, good, John. Now I'm going to give you the best free legal advice you're ever getting in your life. Get a great f-ing criminal defense lawyer. You're going to need it. Then I hung up on him.


LEMON: So, that is Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann telling John Eastman to lawyer up, Scott. I mean, that's pretty significant.

JENNINGS: Yeah. Donald Trump at the end of his political life there in this campaign anyway had two kinds of people in his life. People who were telling him the truth and then, you know, sort of professional, political people and seemingly, you know, clear-eyed about this, and then he had people who were bat poop crazy. And he chose poorly. And he drank from the wrong cup. You see what happens here.

I mean, honestly -- I mean, it's been quite obvious from this testimony that there were plenty of people saying, look, this is not what you think it is. You've lost. You know, shouldn't say -- I mean, he had the correct advice and he went venue shopping and found people who were telling him really, really bad things. And now, a lot of these people are -- I don't know if they'll ever going to nab Trump but some of these people that were feeding him this stuff are clearly in trouble.

So, they deserve it. I mean, they did a bad thing. So, I don't feel bad for him at all.

LEMON: Kirsten, Bakari making the point that this is -- these are really -- he said there were Republicans fighting against each other. This is really Trump's inner circle, the people who are closest to him, his closest and most trusted advisers who are actually providing all of the ammo in the testimony to the January 6 Committee. I mean, this is his White House lawyer.

POWERS: Right. And, you know, I've been asked this before, about will this affect the midterms. And my general feeling has been the same as Bakari, which is probably not. You know, maybe around the margins. And how crazy is that? Right? Because what you're saying is that this isn't a partisan witch hunt by any standard. This is something that is being, you know, this is showcasing Republicans and people who work for Donald Trump.

So, they obviously -- something about Donald Trump they liked and felt they had to be there, who are saying or telling these stories that are just unbelievable. Right? You just can't believe that this is happening, that these conversations are occurring where a White House lawyer is having to tell everybody, we're doing an orderly transition. That is just something that we take for granted.

So, I just think that it has been so baked into the cake for some reason that people have made up their minds. Now, I would love to be wrong about that. If I'm wrong, I'll be very, very happy. But it does seem when it comes to these Trump issues, that people kind of stake out their positions and don't -- it is very difficult to shake them from them.

LEMON: Yeah, I think you're right.


Scott is in agreement as well. I think that most people probably -- I think their positions are they are stilled in their position. They -- people believe what they believe at this point. Right? And it is hard to break them away from it.

But I just find this testimony so compelling that it has to make you at least think even if you are not going to change your position, Bakari. Is that a fair assessment?

SELLERS: I think so. I mean, I think you're highlighting the greater issue we have in politics today, that people are entrenched in their positions. Now, if you took 12 independents who I'm not sure how many independents are watching this and you show them this, I do believe that this would move them and sway them.

But just to highlight the depth and seriousness of what we're talking about here, not just people in the president's inner circle. I am hard pressed to figure out how Rudy Giuliani and others have not committed a crime. I guess that is for the DOJ to figure out later down the road. But you even talk about a president of the United States who raised $250 million for something he knew was a fraud, for something he knew was improper. I mean, he took advantage of individuals.

And when you think about all of these things, not just whether or not there are attempts to overthrow the government and the fraud and the deceit coming from the highest levels of government, this is something that you see only in movies that is really playing out in front of our eyes.

But at the end of the day, we go back to the price of whiting is an extra dollar per pound. To fill up with gas, it is $5 a gallon. I mean, these are real issues. And so, a lot of people are just not able to focus on issues of democracy but the issues of pocketbook.

LEMON: I got to go, Scott. Sorry.

JENNINGS: They don't --

LEMON: Can't do it. I can't do it.

JENNINGS: All right.

LEMON: I'm getting yelled at.


SELLERS: I got the last word over Scott.


LEMON: It is interesting what people will ignore.

JENNINGS: I'll call you, Bakari. Bakari, I'll call you.

LEMON: And text me. I want to know what you have to say as well. Thank you all. I appreciate it.

The investigation into Trump's claim of voter fraud in Georgia heating up. Now, authorities want to speak with a former publicist, Kanye West.

Plus, record flooding in Yellowstone National Park, collapsing homes and leaving families stranded.




LEMON: So, just as CNN projected, South Carolina GOP Rep. Nancy Mace will win her primary race against Trump-backed challenger Katie Arrington.

Also, a new development in the Georgia investigation into the former president's baseless claims of voter fraud. Investigators with the Fulton County district attorney's office are now seeking testimony from a former publicist for R. Kelly and Kanye West, who allegedly pressured a local election worker to admit that trump's lies about voter fraud in 2020 were true. That is according to court documents obtained by CNN.

So, joining me now, the Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia, Geoff Duncan. Governor, good evening. Never a dull moment. Never a dull moment. This is just one development in a complicated case but it seems like Trump may be facing more trouble in Georgia than anywhere else he is being investigated. How do you see this?

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R-GA): Well, certainly, the chaos continues to follow Donald Trump and it should. Right? The chaos and lies that he spread down here certainly didn't do us any justice.

But, you know, it is part of the process, Don. I mean, moving on from Donald Trump is part of the process just like we are watching the January 6th hearings. Not only are they talking about the awful events that led up to January 6th, but you are really seeing a peek behind the curtain of all the advisers really talking truth to power during those moments and he just completely ignored it.

But it is part of the process, and I think it means we're going to get closer to getting a real leader in our Republican Party to take on a president that not only myself but folks in the left and even folks on the left see as unfit to take on the job.

LEMON: You saw the new video of the Trump campaign attorney, Eric Herschmann, saying that he wanted to hear from John Eastman. All he wanted to hear were the words orderly transition. And yet Trump's election lies just -- they just keep going on. What do you think when you hear that?

DUNCAN: Yeah, it's cringeworthy. You know, when I first heard that tape, it reminded me of Brad Raffensperger's phone call from the former president for an hour plus of being barrage with crazy, ludicrous ideas.

But look, like I said, I mean, I think more and more people are waking up every day on the republican side of the aisle realizing that it is time to move on. They've attached themselves to a bunch of conspiracy theories that have no merit.

And we're going to get back to solving real problems and trying to figure out -- I mean, Don, think about this. I mean, this is hard for me to believe. The most important job in the world probably is arguably the president of the United States. And the last two presidents we've put in place, one has made himself unfit for service because he lied and one is quite honestly unexplainably unfit for his job because he can't explain anything. This is the most important job in the world and these are the two people we picked to put in charge? We deserve better.

LEMON: How do you think the committee is doing so far?

DUNCAN: I think they're doing pretty well. Right? I'm always skeptical of a congressional committee, a very partisan committee trying to fact find. I think they've done their homework. I feel like they're delivering it in a fair and balanced way.

Certainly, I don't think they're going to get to some sort of, you know, judicial head in that committee process. But certainly, it has been enlightening to hear kind of -- see and hear behind the curtain.

LEMON: Do you wish they had spoken out sooner?

DUNCAN: Look, I don't know if you can rush this stuff. There are so many moving parts. I mean, you're talking about a former president. You're talking about members of Congress.


You're talking about people willing to lie on record. I mean, it is just hard to believe.

One of the things that really caught my attention and I've said this publicly the last few days. I think it just completely disqualifies anybody as a legitimate leader going forward if they didn't get the events of January 6th right at the moment and stayed consistent with the facts that it was just a big lie and it was an insurrection. If you don't get that right, you don't deserve the right to serve in elected office, in my opinion.

LEMON: Governor, thank you so much. We appreciate you joining us.

DUNCAN: Yeah. Thank you, sir.

LEMON: So, Georgia was a critical state in the 2020 election and it likely will be in the 2022 midterms as well. Senator Raphael Warnock trying to keep his seat from GOP opponent, Herschel Walker. Senator Warnock joins me next.




LEMON: Tonight's primary is giving a glimpse of what sure to be an intense 2022 midterm election season. Among the races expected to be closely watched this fall, the Georgia Senate battle between the Democratic incumbent, Senator Raphael Warnock, and the GOP challenger, Herschel Walker. They are facing off for a critical seat that may not only decide which party controls the Senate, but potentially impact the outcome of a number of big issues from voting rights to gun safety.

Senator Raphael Warnock joins me now. He is the author of a brand-new book. It is called "A Way Out of No Way." Thank you very much for joining. It is -- I used to hear that every Sunday morning in church growing up.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Yeah, that's right.

LEMON: I should probably get that more often than I do now. But thank you, senator, for joining us. I appreciate it. let's talk some politics. So, Democrats can't afford to lose a single seat in the Senate. You were able to flip yours from red to blue. But now, Republicans are hoping that they could take it back. You obviously think that you are a better choice for Georgians obviously than your opponent, Herschel Walker. But do you think that he is qualified to serve in the Senate if he does win?

Great to be with you, Don. And the great thing about a democracy is it is not up to either one of us, it is up to the people of Georgia, and I can tell you that the people of Georgia have a real choice in front of them about who is ready to represent them in the United States Senate.

I'm proud of my record. I'm proud of the work that I've done to support ordinary, hardworking families. We passed the single largest tax cut for middle and working-class families in American history. It is called the expanded child tax credit. We passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill. And now, I'm focused on lowering costs for seniors who have to choose between prescription drugs and groceries. I'm trying to get the president of the United States to do substantial cancellation of student debt.

This is the honor of my life, and I look forward to the conversation.

LEMON: I have to ask you about a followup on something that happened last night. My colleague, Anderson Cooper, asked you if you think that President Joe Biden should run for re-election in 2024. You didn't give him a direct answer. The White House has repeatedly said that he plans to run. Do you intend to support him? Can I get a straight answer on that?

WARNOCK: Of -- do I plan to support him? Of course. I support the work that I'm trying to do on behalf of the people of Georgia. I think that too often, we're focused on the next election. I can tell you, as people gather around their kitchen tables, they're not thinking about these issues in terms of Democrats and Republicans. And I'm willing to stand on behalf of the people of Georgia.

LEMON: Yeah. But I mean, they do think in terms of who they're voting for. They think in terms of Democrats and Republicans. I understand on the issues, people just want to be able to afford gas and put food on their table, but when it comes to an election, you have to be of a certain party in your state to vote at certain times of the year. So, again, I think you answered, but you do plan to support him in 2024?

WARNOCK: I support the people of Georgia and their concerns. Listen, I have spent my whole life committed to service.

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

WARNOCK: I didn't even plan to go into politics. I am not in love with politics. I'm in love with change. I'm in love with justice. And I'm focused every day on the concerns of ordinary, hard-working people.

LEMON: I've got to ask you these questions about politics, though. And again, the current president. A recent polling shows that Joe Biden is losing support among Black Americans. His job approval dropping from 87% to 67% within the span of a year. That is among African Americans, Black Americans. If he is losing faith with Black voters, does that bode well for his re-election chances and the people who he could help or hurt down ticket?

WARNOCK: Don, I think that the problem in American politics right now is that even the conversation in a time as serious as this is too much about the politicians. It is about who's up and who's down, who's in and who's out. Meanwhile, ordinary, hard-working families are wondering who is looking out for them. And maybe it's because I spent my life not in politics but in the parish.

I tend to think of this, you know, in the way that a shepherd does, in a way that a pastor does, which is why I'm trying to get an insulin bill passed right now, which would cap the cost of insulin out of pocket cost to $35 per person per month.


And that is because I've stood with people as they've struggled with these issues, as they had to go to dialysis, as they dealt with an amputation. And my job is to represent the people who hired me to represent them. That is the work I am honored to do every single day.

And it still blows my mind that I am able to do this work. After all, I was born a poor kid. I grew up in public housing. And somehow, in part through good federal public policy, and I talk about this in my book --

LEMON: You have to give me a chance to talk about your book. So, leave some time for that.

WARNOCK: Yeah. Through Pell grants and low interest student loans.

LEMON: Well, let's talk about that.

WARNOCK: I was able to make it through Morehouse College.

LEMON: I want to put out a quote as we continue to talk about your book. You said, as I see it, the right to vote is the defining issue of our times, and this moment is a defining time in our history. A time when we must declare that our democracy belongs not to the politicians but to the people.

I mean, you know, it coincides with what you're talking about right now. Through these January 6th hearings, we have gotten a glimpse of just how fragile our democracy is. Are you worried what could happen if the right to vote for, you know, if Americans don't -- what could happen to the right to vote, I should say, if Americans don't see January 6th for what it was and that was an attack on our democracy?

WARNOCK: Well, I think all of us ought to stand up and pay attention because, you know, some things are bigger than politics. There is nothing more important than the democracy itself.

And I think January 6th in many ways is an extreme expression of what happens when politicians become their own highest cause. And I think that temptation is in some ways inherent in the process because after all, you do stand for re-election. But you ought to remember while you were elected in the first place and the work you were called to do. And that is the work that I try to stay focused on every single day.

I'm certainly deeply concerned about the implications of January 6th, but I'm inspired by the implications of January 5th. On January 5th, Georgia, a state that is a part of the former confederacy, sent its first African American senator, only the 11th in the history of our country, by the way, to the United States Senate, sent its first Jewish senator to the United States Senate, sent there by a multiracial coalition that is focused on the future of our country.

And so, in this moment, this American moment, this moral moment, we got to decide if we're going to be the America of January 5th, which is bigger than party, that embraces all of us, where a kid who grew up in public housing can be a United States senator, or we got to be the America of January 6th and we are going to give in to the forces of division and demagoguery.

I choose January 5th. I choose democracy, freedom, and justice. I choose what Dr. King called beloved community.

LEMON: Well, you are focused on the people and you're very focused on your message.


LEMON: And a lot of folks who come and do interviews should learn from you. The book is called "Making a Way Out of No Way: A Memoir of Truth, Transformation, and the New American Story" by Senator Raphael Warnock. Thank you very much. I appreciate you coming on. Please come back any time.

WARNOCK: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

A legislative stand-off coming to an end. Family members of Supreme Court justices now set to get increased security protections a week after a threat against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.




LEMON: The House passing a bill today extending security protections to the immediate family members of Supreme Court justices. It comes just one week after a threat to Justice Brett Kavanaugh's life.

CNN's Whitney Wild has the story.


REP. JODY HICE (R-GA): The protests that have been taking place outside the justices' home these past months are unacceptable.

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): There are threats to justices across the board.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the Supreme Court security protection debate ends after lawmakers approved a bill to help boost police presence at the homes of Supreme Court justices.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Why did it take so long? Six weeks ago was when the draft leak happened and the protests started at justices' homes almost immediately.

WILD (voice-over): The proposed bill expands the authority of the Supreme Court police to protect -- quote -- "any member of the immediate family of the chief justice, any associate justice, or any officer of the Supreme Court if the Marshal determines such protection is necessary."

Action on the bill had been delayed because Democrats wanted to expand it to specifically include protection for staff and clerks.

LIEU: This bill has to do with the families of Supreme Court justices. I support protecting them. I also support protecting their employees and their families of the Supreme Court.

WILD (voice-over): The more narrow measure took on new urgency in recent days after police say a man admitted he flew from California to Maryland intending to kill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and then himself to give his life purpose.


Department of Homeland Security officials are warning about a tense threat environment as the Supreme Court inches closer to potentially seismic opinions on guns and abortion.

UNKNOWN: We're seeing threats from all parts of the political spectrum.

WILD (voice-over): Protesters on both sides of the abortion debate have descended on the Supreme Court. Protesters have also gathered at the homes of conservative justices over the last several weeks, prompting some to point to this law from 1950.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I wrote to Attorney General Garland a month ago asking why he wasn't enforcing the laws on the books already against judicial intimidation.

WILD (voice-over): That law designed to ban protesting outside the homes of judges, witnesses, and jurors to try to influence the court system.

EUGENE VOLOKH, PROFESSOR, UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW: The purpose of that statute appears to be to keep judges from being influenced by public opinion and in particular public opinion of people, possibly a mob of people outside their homes.

WILD (on camera): Meanwhile, Don, we are learning new details about the man police say targeted Kavanaugh. The Montgomery County police chief tells CNN that when that man, Nicholas Roske, saw the U.S. Marshals posted outside Kavanaugh's home, he turned around to contemplate his next move. That is when he texted his sister, who convinced him to call 911, and Don, that is exactly what he did.


LEMON: Whitney Wild, thank you.

Evacuations in Yellowstone National Park as unprecedented flooding rips homes off their foundations. Someone who witnessed the damage first hand joins me next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



LEMON: Massive floodwaters pummeling Yellowstone National Park and nearby communities washing out roads and bridges and cutting off electricity. Visitors forced to evacuate as the park closed all entrances, citing record flooding events.

Check this out. This is in Gardner, Montana. A house collapsing into floodwaters of the Yellowstone River. First, the decks fall in. There it is. Then the entire house just floats away.

And this is drone footage taken by Beartooth Slingshot Rentals on Monday morning showing flooding and damage in Red Lodge, Montana. It's all because of heavy rainfall combined with runoff from melting snow.

Roads in and out of Yellowstone will be closed through tomorrow. And officials say the town of Gardner has been left isolated, surrounded by water.

That's where Elizabeth Aluck lives, and she joins me now. Elizabeth, hi. I mean, it looks beautiful, but my goodness. I appreciate you joining us. How are you doing, your friends and neighbors as well?

ELIZABETH ALUCK, YELLOWSTONE RESIDENT: We're doing okay. Actually, the road just opened to the north a few hours ago. So, the tourists were able to leave. They're letting people leave. They're not letting people enter at this time. So, we're now open. That's good. We have access to get out to Livingston, to stores and hospitals and things and what we need.

And there were hundreds, thousands maybe even of tourists stranded in town that had nowhere to go, that had to be evacuated from the park and were just milling about. They came here on vacation, not to hang out in this tiny little town of Gardner but to go into the park. But that was a bit much for the town to handle. But most of them were able to evacuate today, this afternoon. So, that was good.

LEMON: Well, it doesn't look like -- obviously, the complete danger is behind you because the Yellowstone superintendent is warning tonight that there will be another high-water event in the upcoming days. What have you been hearing from officials in your town? Are they preparing?

ALUCK: They are preparing, but I haven't heard that we need to be that concerned again. We haven't received any sort of evacuation order. And the river, it looks it's at least I'm going to say five feet lower than it was yesterday at this time. So, we're not too worried right now.

We haven't gotten as much rain as we had in the previous days. It rained straight three, four days in a row. And it was really the rain within Yellowstone and the mountains that came down the river. The Yellowstone River runs south to north. So, it actually starts in the Yellowstone Lake, and then it picks up north here.

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

ALUCK: But this is all coming from the mountains and the lake in Yellowstone and then it flows north to Livingston.

LEMON: Yeah. So, this is -- you're in your backyard, right?

ALUCK: In my backyard, yeah.

LEMON: You can see the Yellowstone River obviously from your backyard because we're looking at it now. I understand that you have seen debris from other homes floating down the river. Do you think that your house is stable under these conditions?

ALUCK: Yes, I believe it is. We are just barely far enough away that we didn't get water at the house level. Another 6 to 12 inches and we would have, and that would have been dangerous. But we were very, very lucky. It was close. So, we're doing okay here. It's been scary. This time last night, there were houses floating by right here.

LEMON: Crazy.

ALUCK: Doors and windows.

LEMON: Yeah, we're looking at some of the video that you took of the debris. You sent us some pictures also from the only grocery store in town today. You say that they were rationing off items like ground beef, which are now completely sold out. How concerned are you about getting food right now?

ALUCK: Now that the road to Livingston is open, we're pretty confident that we will get shipments of food in tomorrow. Today, it was a little scary, though, because this morning, no one knew. No one knew if they were going to be able to leave town or how we would get anything in.


We thought everything would have to be airlifted in. So, yeah, everything was wiped out at the grocery store and it was a little scary because we don't have any place else to go. So now that that one road is open, it was completely covered in water yesterday, but that's open now, and so we're okay. The road to Mammoth (ph) going south into the park, we've heard, is going to be closed until next year.


ALUCK: So that -- get out a year the north entrance to Yellowstone.

LEMON: Well, we're glad you're okay. We appreciate you joining us. You stay -- stay safe, okay, Elizabeth?

ALUCK: Thanks. Take care, Don.

LEMON: Take care.

And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.