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Don Lemon Tonight

D.C. Police Officer Corroborates Details Of Secret Service Exchange To Committee; American Democracy Under Threat As More Details Emerge About Efforts To Overturn 2020 Election; Prominent Conservatives Issue 72-Page Report Rebutting Trump's Election Lies; GA Race Could Decide Balance Of Power In The Senate; Tiger Woods Returns To British Open With Some Choice Words For Golfers In LIV Golf Invitational Series. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 14, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Here's what's new tonight, a D.C. police officer corroborating details of a heated exchange between then President Trump and Secret Service members on January 6th. And new reporting tonight on the question of lost or erased Secret Service text messages from January 5th and January 6th.

So, joining me now, CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez and Attorney George Conway. Gentlemen, thanks for joining. Good evening. Evan, I'm going to start with you for the reporting. I need to ask you first about this D.C. police officer backing up Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony. What do we know?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Don, this could be really important testimony from someone who was there that day. This is a Metropolitan police officer who was part of the motorcade and who has now given an interview to the January 6 Committee.

And this is reporting, obviously, from Jamie Gangel and Annie Grayer. What they are telling us is, essentially, that the police officer was able to corroborate at least some of what Cassidy Hutchinson has provided testimony to in the January 6 Committee.

Obviously, there has been a lot of pushback from some people in the Secret Service, some of it on background, some of it on the record, claiming that there was some -- at least some of parts of what she was saying, which was that there was this altercation that the president, the former president, reached for the steering wheel and that he actually pushed the lead Secret Service agent who was there to protect him when they tried to tell him he could not go to the rally, some of that, obviously, is very, very important testimony, and so this police officer who apparently was there corroborating at least some parts of that testimony, Don.

LEMON: Uh-hmm. George, so Evan laid it out, but I want our viewers and I want you to hear exactly, we want to remember exactly what Hutchinson told the committee about that incident. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: The president said something to the effect of, I am the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now, to which Bobby responded, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing.

The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel, we're going back to the West Wing, we're not going to the Capitol. Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel.

And when Mr. Ornato had recounted the story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.


LEMON: So, the former president, George, and his allies attacked Hutchinson's credibility using the story specifically, and Secret Service even pushing back, saying that the agents involved who testified to deny it, but they haven't. So, how does all this look now to you?

GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY: Well, it looks like Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony stands, as of now, unrebutted. These stories apparently, according to other reporting, were circulating widely in the Metropolitan Police Department and the Secret Service. Jamie Gangel's reporting today is great reporting and shows that it's consistent with what Cassidy Hutchinson said.

But it's more important to take a step back and to remember that whether or not Trump actually lunged at a Secret Service agent and whether he tried to grab at the steering wheel isn't the point. The point is he wanted to go.

LEMON: Right.

CONWAY: He was insistent on going up to the Capitol Hill and no one, not even the behind the scenes whispers at the Secret Service who don't seem to be ready to offer up sworn testimony, not even they can attest that Donald Trump wanted to go up to Capitol Hill. That's the salient fact, that's the fact that matters, and that's what all the evidence is pointing to.


LEMON: More information about the Secret Service, Evan, responding to reporting that they had deleted text messages from January 5th and 6th. Give us the reporting and how the Secret Service is responding.

PEREZ: Yes. So, Don, the Office of Inspector General for the Homeland Security Department which oversees the Secret Service told Congress that it was doing -- it has been doing an investigation into exactly what happened on January 6th and the Secret Service's handling of it. They said that that there were key messages, text messages from January 5th and January 6th that were deleted. Now, the Secret Service apparently was doing some kind of changeover of their phones, and as a result of that, those messages were deleted.

Now, the key point here is that the Secret Service is pushing back on some of this. They say that these messages weren't requested by the inspector general until February of 2021, well after the Secret Service had begun this changeover.

I'll read you just a part of their message. They're pushing back very strongly against what the inspector general said. They're saying the insinuation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages following a request is false. In fact, the Secret Service has been fully cooperating with the OIG in every respect, whether it be in interviews, documents, emails and texts.

According to Secret Service, Don, they provided about 800,000 text messages and -- emails rather and another document that the inspector general had requested.

Obviously, still a lot of questions about exactly what happened here. The importance of this, Don, you know, obviously, the story we were just talking about on January 6th, you know, it would be important for the investigators to see contemporaneous messages, text messages, emails, any other things that could corroborate some of this important testimony because, obviously, it's not just the witnesses who are coming in now, but it would be good to go back and see documents from that time to see whether it backs up some of these stories.

LEMON: Also, in that statement, George Conway, it is saying that none of the text messages the committee wanted were lost, that there is nothing nefarious going on. Does that make sense to you?

CONWAY: It could. It's too early to tell who is right and who is wrong here, whether both sides could be right. They seem to be talking past each other --

LEMON: Right.

CONWAY: -- to a kind of carefully-lawyered look at the letter from the inspector general and a look at the statement from the Secret Service. The IG is saying that there were materials from January 5th and 6th that were lost. And what the Secret Service is saying is, none of the things that you had asked for that's relevant was lost.

So, those two statements could be both true, but we just don't know whether or not they're being -- they're contradicting each other or just talking past each other.

And I think the ultimate question is, what -- how does the Secret Service know that any materials may been lost were generated on January 5th and 6th, 2021 aren't relevant to the investigation? I'd like to know. You know, there were just lots of questions here. It is going to take a lot of digging to sort of get to the issue of whether or not anything bad happened here and whether it matters.

LEMON: You're right. To be continued as we get more information, as this is investigators come in.

Thank you, George. Thank you, Evan. I appreciate it.

Here to talk about what all of this means for the country, presidential historian Jon Meacham. He is the author of the upcoming book "And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle." So good to see you, Jon Meacham. Thanks for joining.


LEMON: These hearings are not only revealing a lot of damning evidence about the former president and his thirst for power but also about his enablers and the violent extremists willing to use force to stop the legitimate winner, Joe Biden, from taking office. I mean, these are the hallmarks of authoritarian nation. How big a threat is American democracy under in this moment, Jon?

MEACHAM: We're in the midst of an unfolding crisis, I think, beyond the hearings. We have this crisis of trust in the capacity of American democracy to continue to, as Lincoln would say, long endure. And it's not being driven by both sides. Just put that to the side.

It is being driven by a hardcore right-wing that has moved to more or less to the mainstream of the Republican Party.

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

MEACHAM: And we simply don't have at the moment two functioning parties under the constitutional structure. And that's what the constitutional structure requires.

LEMON: Jon Meacham --

MEACHAM: And so --

LEMON: I made that very point this morning in our morning show. You and I have been talking about this. I've been saying the very same thing for a while now.


Why is it all of a sudden that people are shocked or upset or surprised at where the GOP is moving and what is happening with the extremism coming from that party or is being co-opted by extremists? Why is that shocking to people? It's the truth.

MEACHAM: It is the truth. I think that January 6th changed just about everything. Before January 6th, and this might make some liberal people unhappy, but before January 6th, Trump and his world was somewhat recognizable in terms of American history. Right? It was Joe McCarthy. It was George Wallace. It was on a bigger scale but you could identify it. Right? It was recognizable. I sometimes think of this as, remember the old Charlie Brown cartoons where the kids all talked to each other but the parents and the adults all went wonk- wonk?

LEMON: Wonk-wonk-wonk.

MEACHAM: Right. So, it went from being -- you could understand the 2015 to really -- I would say the middle of 2020. You could see that, you could fight against it, you could be disenchanted by it, you could be just repelled by it, but you knew what it was.

A mob at the Capitol trying to assassinate leaders, trying to overturn a newly constituted election was of a different, not just degree, but a different kind.

And one thing I'd say, and this is going to be hugely important, I believe as we try to keep the experiment going, is from the bible, right, it's the prodigal son, it's rejoicing over one sheep even though you have 99 who didn't go astray.

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

MEACHAM: People need to have a way back. Republicans who are outraged by what they're learning need to know that there is a place within the constitutional structure for them. They need to acknowledge what's happened. Without that, they're going to continue to live in a fantasy world and not be part of it.

But one of the things that I'm so impressed by in terms of the overall debate for those who are defending the Constitution right now is that it's kind of a Joe Friday thing. A Charlie Brown and Joe Friday, so you can tell I'm really, really old. It's pretty much the facts. Right? Here's what happened.

LEMON: Right.

MEACHAM: Here's what the president said. Here's what his people wanted to do. And the great question, and this goes to something that you and I have talked about a lot, the great question is, if facts are not enough, if the truth of what has happened and what led to January 6th is not enough to get enough people who are willing to follow this authoritarian, if that's not enough to get them back, then perhaps we are not up to democracy.

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

MEACHAM: Heck of a good run. It's been two and a half centuries. It's been imperfect. But it's always had the capacity for amendment and reform and adjustment. But there's nothing guaranteed about this. And what I think the stake -- to go to your very first question -- what I think at stake is, in fact, the durability of a democratic experiment.

LEMON: Right.

MEACHAM: And if we break America, if we break America, we're not getting it back.

LEMON: Right. Yeah. You're right on. I could end the segment right now. Listen, which makes my next question, I think, all the more important. This is what Olivia Nuzzi of "New York Magazine" is reporting, that Trump 2024 announcement is a matter of when, not if. I'm not sure how surprising that is because he's been leaning that way. We've all lived through the bedlam of Trump's presidency. We're still living with the aftermath.

I mean, what do we do to that? What will this do the country to have him actively campaigning for the next two years?

MEACHAM: Well, I've been wrong about President Trump from the beginning.


MEACHAM: Take this for what it's worth. The people who think that somehow he is not going to run, it's almost as though it's a "Rip Van Winkle" problem, right? If you are -- if you're consumed by narcissism, what are you going to do? You're going to do the narcissistic thing. And that is you're going to run again.

He doesn't even think he lost the last time or he's convinced himself not that he didn't lose but that he should win.

LEMON: Right.

MEACHAM: That's the difference, right? I think that it's, if anything, here's a positive thought, if anything, it will remind people who may or may not be happy with the way things are unfolding with the administration. It's going to remind people that presidential politics is not a referendum.


No one ever came to the country and said, do you want Donald Trump to be president? It was, do you want Donald Trump or do you want Secretary Clinton? And then in 2020, it was not, do you want President Biden? It was, do you want Joe Biden or do you want Donald Trump? It is comparative question.

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

MEACHAM: And so, having Trump even more visible than he is may remind people of why he was sent back to Florida. And so, to some extent, Trump may be his own worst enemy or at least we can hope.

LEMON: Jon Meacham, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir. Be well.

MEACHAM: Thank you. You, too.

LEMON: Prominent conservatives putting out a report saying that the 2020 election was lost, not stolen, rebutting every single claim made in court by team Trump. We're going to talk to two of them next.




LEMON: Okay, so, I want you to listen to this very, very, very carefully, everyone. A group of prominent conservatives taking on former President Trump's election fraud lies. The group, which includes lawyers and retired federal judges, issuing a 72-page report rebutting his bogus claims that the 2020 elections was stolen.

Looking at more than 60 court cases filed by a team Trump in six battleground states, the report found, and I quote here, "there is absolutely no evidence of fraud in the 2020 presidential election on the magnitude necessary to shift the result in any state, let alone the nation as a whole. In fact, there was no fraud that change the outcome in even a single precinct."

Two of the people behind the report join me now. Former circuit court judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit Michael McConnell and former counsel to the republican national senatorial and congressional committees Ben Ginsberg. Thank you both for joining us. I think this is a very important report and a very important segment. I'm so glad that you both are here. Good evening to you.

Ben, I'm going to start with you because the report found no signs of fraud, not a single shred, period. Why did you and your conservative colleagues find it so important to issue this report?

BEN GINSBERG, FORMER BUSH AND ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: We heard what Donald Trump said in the election. Those are extremely serious charges, that our elections don't work. If, in fact, there was any evidence behind them, then system needs to be fixed. But if there is no evidence behind it, that needs to be said because of the corrosive effect that the allegations he was making is having on the democracy. That's why we undertook the thorough report.

LEMON: Yeah. Michael, you looked at more than 60 cases. Twenty were dismissed before hearing. Thirty were dropped by Trump and his supporters. Thirty had a hearing and lost. Yet Republicans still continue to push Trump's election lie. Why? What is going on here?

MICHAEL MCCONNELL, FORMER CIRCUIT JUDGE, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT: I can only think that most people have not taken the time or the trouble to actually look behind the allegations. And so, you know, there's a certain amount of trust here that President Trump was the president of the United States. People assume that he and his supporters must be telling the truth.

But it's really essential for us to think for ourselves and actually look for actual evidence and not simply to buy the claims of advocates in the system.

LEMON: Ben, look, even before this report, Trump's own allies knew allegations of election fraud were baseless. Listen to this.


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit.

ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I never saw any evidence or whatsoever to sustain those allegations.

PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: There was a real question in my mind and a real concern, you know, particularly after the attorney general reached a conclusion that there wasn't sufficient election fraud to change the outcome of the election. When other people kept suggesting that there was, the answer is, what is it? At some point, you have to put up or shut up. That was my view.


LEMON: Okay. At some point, you have to put up or shut up. These people were under oath here. Despite his own allies saying it's BS, "New York Times" polling shows 61% of Republicans believe Trump is a legitimate 2020 winner. Sixty-one percent believe that he's a legitimate 2020 winner. Trump. Right? Is there anything at this point that will convince his supporters that he lost?

GINSBERG: Well, we hope that looking at the facts behind his case as well the testimony of Stephen Ayres before the committee, the January 6 Committee, last Tuesday, in which he said he was arrested for being in the Capitol, and he told the committee, you know, if I had realized when I went into the Capital that there was no evidence behind the allegation, I never would have been there, and when I stepped back and got behind my social media filters, he realized there was nothing here, we hope that this report, which does look at every each of the 187 counts made in those 64 cases filed by Trump and supporters, we hope that this will help convince people that there is no there there.


LEMON: Ben, is this a problem of getting the right information to the people who aren't exposed to it?

GINSBERG: Well, it's partially that. It's partially the responsibility of elected officials. It's partially the responsibility of voters when they go to the polls this year.

There's no one single answer to this problem, but we hope that this report will be another piece of evidence that people can use to see the truth.

LEMON: Michael, the consequences, what consequences could we see to our democracy if these election lies aren't put to bed?

MCCONNELL: Well, it's certainly not good for democracy, it's not good for the nation. This is, after all, a country that's built upon trust. It's built upon the idea of two legitimate political parties that engaged in putting policies before the American people. The other side is not an enemy.

But I also am not an alarmist about all of this. I think one of the most important things to see in what happened this year is just how strong our institutions were. Not a single member of President Trump's White House Counsel staff believed these. The Department of Justice lawyers did not believe this. Not a single state legislature succumbed -- Republican legislatures did not succumb to these requests. The election officials, Republicans among them did not. Not a single judge bought these, even judges who were appointed by President Trump.

The guardrails were severely tested, but they held, and I think that's an important thing to remember.

LEMON: Uh-hmm. Thank you very much for that, Michael. Thank you, Ben. I appreciate it. It's an excellent report.


LEMON: Again, nothing found as it comes to the election lies. Lost not stolen, a conservative case that Trump lost and Biden won the 2020 presidential election. We appreciate you both joining us. Have a good evening.

In less than four months, Georgia voters to decide who will represent them in the Senate, and the race is already drawing national attention but not the kind the GOP wants.




LEMON: So, two Senate races everyone is talking about, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Let us talk about Georgia now. Georgia Senate race former football star Herschel Walker is set to face off against Senator Raphael Warnock. Many in the GOP worried about Walker's recent missteps and whether that spells trouble in the state that they desperately need to flip.

CNN's Kristen Holmes has the latest.



KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In battleground Georgia, growing concerns about Herschel Walker's candidate performance amid a series of verbal stumbles from his views on climate change --

WALKER: Since we don't control the air, our good air decided to float over to China's bad air.


WALKER: So, when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move.

(LAUGHTER) WALKER: So, it moves over to our good air space. Then now we got to clean that back up.

HOLMES (voice-over): -- to gun legislation.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Do you support new gun laws in the wake of this Texas shooting?

WALKER: What I'd like to do is see it and everything and stuff.


HOLMES (voice-over): Miscues like those plus a recent disclosure he he fathered three children he had not spoken about publicly, sparking questions about Walker's ability to defeat Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in one of the Republican Party's best opportunities to flip a Senate seat.

UNKNOWN: Georgia's Senate race this November is yet again probably going to be the deciding factor in control of the U.S. Senate, and with a volatile national environment for Democrats, Raphael Warnock defending his seat could end up being the decisive 50th seat for Democrats or Republicans.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): It's Herschel Walker versus the truth.

HOLMES (voice-over): Warnock's reelection campaign has aggressively questioned the GOP nominee preparedness for office in several recent television ads.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Is Herschel Walker really ready to represent Georgia?

WALKER: Hello there!

HOLMES (voice-over): Walker's campaign now signaling a reset this week, announcing the addition of several top Republican operatives less than two months after the former football star easily clinched the republican nomination, boosted by the endorsement of former President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Herschel has been one of the greatest athletes in America, and I know he will go down also as one of the greatest senators in America.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Well, hello, Atlanta, Georgia.

HOLMES (voice-over): But Warnock is facing his own challenges.

UNKNOWN: Some of the things that we're seeing nationally, issues with inflation and gas prices and kind of the pessimism about the direction and of Joe Biden as president, is trickling down into Georgia voters, even ones that are Democrats, even ones that may like Raphael Warnock. There's also this feeling that Joe Biden and Raphael Warnock are tied to the hip, that Republicans are trying to push.

HOLMES (voice-over): That's a message outside group supporting Walker are reinforcing on tv.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Tell Senator Warnock to start voting against reckless spending to stop inflation.

HOLMES (voice-over): A recent Quinnipiac poll shows just 33% of Georgia voters approve of Biden's job performance. A significantly larger share, 49% approve of the job Warnock is doing.


Warnock also outpacing Walker in fundraising, hauling in more than $17 million during the second quarter of 2022 compared to roughly $6 million for his GOP rival.

(On camera): And Don, both Democrats and Republicans in the state have told us they believe this race really could go either way. And that's very clear from how the parties are spending in Georgia. We are still four months away from this election and there's already been nearly $60 million going into ads in the state. Don?


LEMON: Jeez. Kristen, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. Ron, thank you.


LEMON: You would -- whew!


LEMON: That's a lot of dough, right?

BROWNSTEIN: That's a lot of money.

LEMON: Let's put up that poll again because, you know, 49% of Georgians approve of the job Warnock is doing. He's pulling in the money, more money than Walker. Recent Quinnipiac polling shows that Warnock is up 10 points.


LEMON: There it is.

BROWNSTEIN: That's probably too high.

LEMON: You think so?

BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. There's a new poll out today. ARP is doing polling in battleground states done by the pollsters in 2020 for Donald Trump and Joe Biden, so it's credible. Fabrizio on one side, Anzalone on the other, they had Warnock up three today.

But most importantly, they had Warnock up three at a time when Biden's approval, as Kristen's piece points out, was only 34% in the state. That is remarkable. He is running 16 points ahead of where Biden is. We have seen very little of that in the last couple decades, kind of it is being able to levitate that far above a president in their own party. But Warnock has some real assets and Walker has some real vulnerabilities.

LEMON: It's interesting because he has all these missteps. It's a gaffe --


LEMON: -- after gaffe after gaffe, and even straight-up lies. But the interesting thing is that he appears to be getting all of the media attention even with that. Is that drowning out his opponent?

BROWNSTEIN: No. Warnock has a very vivid presence in Georgia. Look, I mean, people who run and study Senate elections talk about how over our lifetime they have become more parliamentary, meaning that voters increasingly seem to be deciding which party they want in control of the Senate and not so much on a choice between two individuals.

Herschel Walker is testing the maximum extent of that because he is -- I think there have been very few candidates who have ever raised as many doubts about their own qualifications for the job. And he's in the ballgame because Georgia is a tipping point state, it's a close state, and voters, as we saw with Biden's approval rating, only about 34 are really unhappy with the way things are going in the country.

But even amid all of that, I mean, in this poll today by Fabrizio and Anzalone, Raphael Warnock is winning one quarter of the voters who say they disapprove of Joe Biden. Go back to 2018, there was no more than roughly 10 or 11% in any state --

LEMON: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: -- of voters who disapprove to Trump who said they're going to vote for the Republican candidate, and he's winning 24%. By the way, John Fetterman is very similar to that in another poll today in Pennsylvania.

So, the question is, can they separate themselves from what is very real disenchantment with Biden, especially by focusing on weaknesses in their opponents?

LEMON: Speaking of Walker, he still got 93% --


LEMON: -- of republican vote in Georgia.


LEMON: I mean, it could be a really good midterm for Republicans. Do you think that is lifting his chance?

BROWNSTEIN: That's his only chance.

LEMON: That's his only chance.

BROWNSTEIN: It's very hard to imagine that there are a lot of voters looking at these two candidates and the way they can port (ph) themselves and their degree of fluency on the issues and say Walker is more personally qualified for the job than Reverend Warnock.

I mean, what they are saying is that we don't -- we want Mitch McConnell to be the majority leader and setting the agenda. We don't want Chuck Schumer to be the majority leader and setting the agenda. And that is the problem. As I said, that is why people describe Senate elections as becoming more about the party and less about the person, more parliamentary.

But there are limits to that. There are always exceptions to that. I mean, 2012, if you remember, Claire McCaskill won in Missouri because her opponent was so unacceptable even when it was voting very heavily against Barack Obama.

So, as I say, what we are seeing at least right now in a number of these states, in Wisconsin, in Pennsylvania, in Georgia, Republicans are only winning a little over 70% of the voters who say they disapprove of Biden. Okay? That is way below what you usually see for the party out of power, among voters who disapprove of the president.

Can Democrats sustain that all the way through November? That's going to be the challenge. But there is now a pathway and a plausible kind of narrative that's developing that could allow Democrats to hold the Senate even if they do relatively poorly in the House.

LEMON: Stay tuned.

BROWNSTEIN: Stay tuned.

LEMON: Thank you. Good to see you.

BROWNSTEIN: Good to see you, too.

LEMON: Tiger Woods back at the British Open, and he's got some choice words for fellow golfers playing in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.


What's he saying? That's next.


LEMON: Golf great Tiger Woods playing the British Open and lasting the Saudi-backed LIV Invitational Gold Series.

[23:44:58] That series is financed by the fund chaired by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. A U.S. intelligence report named bin Salman as responsible for approving the operation that led to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman has denied involvement in Khashoggi's murder.

Here to discuss that and more, CNN contributor Bob Costa. Bob, good to see you.

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good to see you in person.

LEMON: Yes! Important issues that we're talking about. I'm so glad that you're here in person. This is what Tiger Woods is saying about the players who joined the LIV Golf Series. Listen.


TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I disagree with it. I think that what they've done is they've turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.


LEMON: So, break this down for us. I mean, he seems like he is talking about loyalty to --


LEMON: -- the PGA, right? But this controversy surrounding LIV is much bigger than that.

COSTAS. Yeah. We're just talking about the golf dispute. The PGA is where all the tradition is, and Tiger and other players, including Rory Mcllroy and many other prominent players, believe that this is a threat to the traditions of golf and that it's not competitive enough because they play only 54 holes, 48-man fields, no cuts, so they're guaranteed some money from it.

A number of players like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson and others have gotten very large upfront money into the one-hundreds of millions of dollars. The PGA Tour cannot compete with that on a financial basis whereas the Saudi royal family has unlimited funds.

But that's almost like a free agency question within sports. The question of principle has to do with, who is underwriting this? The 9/11 families are especially incensed today because the LIV Tour has announced that they'll play an event at the Bedminster course, Donald Trump's Bedminster course, at the end of this month, and their final event of their first season will be at his Doral course in Miami in October.

LEMON: Yeah. And what do you make of that? I mean, because -- what you think of the timing here because this complicates everything? You're talking about these funds, you're talking about potential candidacy --


LEMON: -- in 2024.

COSTAS: Well, we know that Donald Trump is motivated in part by evening scores by revenge after some comments he made in 2016. The PGA Tour pulled an event from the Doral course, as I recall. And then the PGA itself, the PGA Tournament, which is one of the four majors, was scheduled for this year at Bedminster. And after -- or last year -- and after the events of January 6th of last year, they pulled that. Donald Trump does not forget that sort of thing easily.

So, this is a chance. Obviously, he's obsessed with golf. This is a chance to gain some measure of revenge. But at what cost? We can quibble and discuss what Phil Mickelson has done or whatever Greg Norman has done. This is a former president of the United States who has ambitions to yet again be the president of the United States.

The Saudis have already contributed some $2 billion to a business venture run by Jared Kushner. Some 700 of the nearly 3,000 who perished at the World Trade Center were from New Jersey. Many of them from the area right around Bedminster, an affluent area. And there were people working in the financial district at the Twin Towers. This is a former president of the United States.

LEMON: Yeah.

COSTAS: And maybe I'm outside my lane by saying this, but when you stop about, leave policies aside, you talk about somebody who told a gigantic lie about the election and now it's obvious took specific steps to overturn a legitimate election, to attack the very pillars of democracy, and a former president of the United States in bed and relishing being in bed with the people who very well have, according to what information we're getting now from released FBI files and from the State Department, there's reason to believe that they were responsible for financing and providing logistical help to the 19 terrorists who pulled off the 9/11 attack, 15 of whom were Saudis.

Those who continue to support him perversely think of themselves as patriots. I can't understand that. This is not a matter of conservative, liberal -- whatever. What are we talking about here?

LEMON: Yeah.

COSTAS: Has this country lost -- at least a portion of this country lost its mind? I think that's a rhetorical question, Don. The answer is pretty obvious.

LEMON: Listen, we don't have all night to talk about how I feel about that, and just about telling the truth in the attacks that people get for telling the truth. I want to get this in before we go, though.


LEMON: Brittney Griner, WNBA star, she's in Russia.

COSTAS: Yeah. LEMON: She is in custody. She is back in court today with a hearing in Moscow, still no verdict.


But the owner of the Russian basketball team and teammate testified on her behalf as a character witness. Tell us more about the team she played from and what this testimony can do for her.

COSTAS: I don't know if it helps or not.

LEMON: You don't?

COSTAS: She's a political prisoner. But so is Paul Whelan, a political prisoner. There are others. And it is pretty obvious that their intention here is to make a statement, to thumb their noses at the United States. What she did was at worst a misdemeanor. It was foolish to run a risk, knowing what country she was in, to have some vaping cartridges in her luggage.

She could face up to 10 years in prison. They've already extended it by six months. At least that is what we are led to believe. Maybe they're looking for a prisoner exchange.

So, someone comes along and provides a character assessment. She's a nice person, she has helped Russian basketball, her team excelled, she had shown good sportsmanship. You think any of that matters to Vladimir Putin?

LEMON: Especially the time that we're in and what's happening with this war in Ukraine --


LEMON: -- and how the United States is helping.

COSTAS: You're appealing to the better instincts of a regime and a person who bombs schools and hospitals and civilian targets? He's going to be swayed that Britney Griner is a nice person?

LEMON: I love having you, Bob. I do.

COSTAS: I like to get in trouble now and then.


COSTAS: Makes me feel like I'm alive.

LEMON: So do I. But you know.


LEMON: You know what the late great John Lewis said, good trouble. We get in trouble. I don't mind getting in good trouble and you don't either.

COSTAS: No, I don't.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. Always a pleasure.

COSTAS: I don't.

LEMON: Thank you, sir.

COSTAS: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back, everyone.




LEMON: All right, everyone, look, beachgoers and swimmers on alert off the south shore of Long Island. Over the past two weeks, at least five people have been bitten by sharks. The attacks happening across a wide stretch of Long Island. Two of them at the same beach about 10 days apart. Fortunately, no one has been seriously injured.

And I want you to take a look at this. A drone camera capturing a shark today swimming a few miles off the shore of the town of Long Beach, Long Island. Even lifeguards are on the lookout. Two were attacked by sharks while role playing as victims during routine safety training drills.

Be careful out there, everyone. And thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.