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Don Lemon Tonight

WAPO: More Missing Texts From DHS Trump-Era Officials; January 6 Committee Zeroes In On Ex-Trump Cabinet Officials; Trump Tees Off At Saudi-Backed LIV Golf Series; Climate Crisis Worsens Effects Of Already Devastating Fire Season; Congress Passes Computer Chips Bill. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 28, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: More missing text messages. "The Washington Post" is reporting tonight that texts from Trump's Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy Ken Cuccinelli are missing. Sources tell the "Post" that the messages were from a key period leading up to January 6th.

That as we have new CNN exclusive reporting tonight that prosecutors are getting ready for court battle to force former Trump White House officials to testify about conversations they had with the former president.

Joining me now to discuss all of this, CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz and John Wood, former senior investigator for the January 6 Committee. Also, with us this evening, Mr. Mark McKinnon, the executive producer of the Emmy-nominated "The Circus" and former adviser to George w. Bush.

Good evening one and all. Have to admire the hat. You got it, Mark McKinnon. You guys got to get your hat game on. Katelyn has got her glasses game. John has got -- I don't know. So --


LEMON: Yeah. John, you got a good blue tie. So, good evening, one and all. Thank you so much.

Katelyn, according to "Post," "The Washington Post," these texts were lost in that, you know, reset of the government phones after they left office. It sounds an awful lot like what we heard -- the same thing that we heard from the Secret Service. How does this fit with everything that we know?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right, Don, I mean, this is about text messages missing. We just heard a story just like this a few weeks ago but it is a totally new thing.

What we're learning here, from this "Washington Post" reporting tonight, is that the acting Homeland Security secretary at the end of the Trump administration and his deputy, so that's Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, that their texts have gone missing.

And the Department of Homeland Security told the inspector general, so this independent watchdog that overlooks that agency in February, that these texts were lost in a reset of their phones, whenever they left the Trump administration.

So now, the Hill is finding out about it. This is basically the exact same pattern that we just saw a few weeks ago related to another part of the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service, where Secret Service messages were essentially just went poof. They were gone and they were lost, deleted, in a migration progress. That's what the agency had said so far.

So, the House Committee reaction so far tonight to this is strong. Chairman Bennie Thompson of the House Select Committee says that this is extremely troubling. And clearly, the Secret Service has questions that they're going to have to answer -- answering for the House Select Committee and there will be questions for the people at the top of the DHS as well at the end of the Trump administration.

LEMON: Okay, so now, one agency is saying phone reset, the other agency is saying migration. All right. So, John, the DHS inspector general was reportedly notified that these were missing in late February.


But he didn't press the issue or notify Congress. Democrats have already called on him to recuse himself over the Secret Service debacle. Does he have any credibility left?

WOOD: Well, it certainly seems like a mistake for him not to have notified Congress about this. But the part that I'm the most disturbed about is how the Secret Service failed to preserve text messages after the inspector general specifically asked them for text messages from that time period. That's the part I find most bizarre. I'm not necessarily saying it was an intentional effort to destroy evidence, but if it was incompetence, it was on a tremendous scale.

LEMON: Mark McKinnon, look, let's not forget that these are officials who are under pressure to seize voting machines. They say the election was rigged, right? This stinks to high heaven.

MARK MCKINNON, FORMER ADVISER TO GEORGE W. BUSH AND JOHN MCCAIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF "THE CIRCUS": Well, Don, it just begs the obvious question, which is that the individuals who have conveniently lost text messages are only the officials who had oversight or direct responsibility for the activities of that day --

LEMON: Right.

MCKINNON: -- over the security or whatever it was. All the other cabinet officials, they have -- their phones are preserved, other text messages are preserved. So, it's only the people who had a direct line of responsibility and authority over that day who certainly had text messages disappearing. So, that, to me, is highly problematic.

LEMON: Hey, Mark, let me ask you because you're up on the Hill a lot, right? Your reporters in "The Circus" up on the Hill are doing great work. You guys are always there. What questions would you and your reporters be asking right now in this situation?

MCKINNON: Well, I would make sure and get those individuals, Cuccinelli and Chad Wolf (INAUDIBLE) Department of Justice get them before a grand jury and ask them the questions about what was on those phones.

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

MCKINNON: That's specifically what I would ask them. Obviously, it is going to take grand jury to do that. But I'm compelled by just all the motion I see at the Department of Justice, where the criminal oversight and consequences are much greater than they are for the January 6 Committee.

I'm bothered by it. I hope the Congress will change the laws and the consequences of not showing up for Congress for a subpoena because somebody like Steve Bannon, I guarantee you, he wants to go to jail or prison for a couple years if that's all it is. He'll just be a martyr like G. Gordon Liddy.

LEMON: Katelyn, you helped break the CNN exclusive reporting about the Justice Department tonight. So, walk us through what we know.

POLANTZ: So, this Justice Department investigation has been very busy. The grand jury activity has been really busy in the federal courthouse in D.C. in recent weeks. And Evan Perez and I learned that the Justice Department is trying or is getting ready to engage in a court fight essentially with Donald Trump to try and gain access to information that Trump was saying, statements that he was making around January 6th and the days before.

The reason this is coming up is because two top advisers to the vice president at the time, guys named Marc Short and Greg Jacob, they went into the grand jury as part of this January 6 criminal investigation that the Justice Department is conducting, and there were certain areas that they couldn't speak about there because of potential executive privilege claims.

So now, we are looking to see a possible court fight coming. The Justice Department is preparing to try and go after that information so they can continue to get information and nail down exactly what Donald Trump said up to and on the 6th of January.

LEMON: John, you know, we are also learning tonight that the January 6 Committee intends to share 20 witness interview transcripts with DOJ, with the DOJ. How could this help of their investigation?

WOOD: Well, it's hard to know how far along the Justice Department- investigation is. It certainly seems at times like the January 6 House Committee was ahead of the Justice Department in terms of their interviews with some of the witnesses. And so, I know the Justice Department is going to want to interview these people themselves, but if they can get a head start and prepare by reviewing transcripts from the House Committee, I think that can be very helpful to them.

LEMON: Yeah. So, Katelyn, I want to ask you about the January 6 Committee investigation because I understand you are getting some new information about that. They are now focusing on the former -- focusing on former Trump cabinet officials. Do you know who they're looking at specifically?

POLANTZ: Well, Don, they've already spoken to quite a few members of Trump's cabinet. The list of names is pretty long. There's already eight of them. John Ratcliffe is the director of National Intelligence that they're trying to get an interview with now, working that out. Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state, they're trying to talk to him.

But today, they were speaking to Mick Mulvaney. We know they already interviewed Steve Mnuchin.


There are others they've talked to. Chris Miller from the Defense Department, Chad Wolf from DHS. He has been contacted by the committee. There are the Justice Department folks. There is Eugene Scalia from the Labor Department.

That's a lot of talking of people in the cabinet. That's at least eight cabinet seats represented out of -- that's basically a third of the entirety of the president's cabinet. And what the House Select Committee is trying to figure out is, were they cabinet members who felt like Donald Trump was unfit to serve as president after January 6th? Did they want to invoke the 25th Amendment? What happened in those conversations?

LEMON: Right on. So, Mark, to you now, because it's a lot of folks, as Katelyn just pointed out. You talked to many of these figures as part of "The Circus." Many of them are unlikely to be willing to trash their former boss. So, what do you think is motivating them to speak to this committee now?

MCKINNON: Well, I think this is moving more and more towards the Department of Justice, as I mentioned earlier. The consequences are just much, much greater for perjury, whatever violation there might be. There is real hard time consequence.

Don, let me just say, when you net this all up, there's so much going on the developments every day. I'm really struck by the following things as a result of these hearings. History will record, unequivocally, that Donald Trump lost the election, that Trump knew he lost the election, that he tried to illegally overturn the election, and then he encouraged an insurrection at the Capitol knowing that there would be weapons.

Those four things will be irrefutable recorded by history. And if anybody tries to deny that in the course of the grand jury hearings, I think they're going to be in big trouble.

LEMON: Yeah. All the people that we mentioned, you know, the screen with all of the players on that Katelyn talked about, these are not never Trumpers. These are part of people who stuck by Trump until the very end and even now. They are speaking to this committee and the committee is trying to get information -- they are speaking to the DOJ and/or the committee but, as you say, there are different consequences, much more serious consequences when you talk about the Department of Justice.

MCKINNON: Don, if I can just interject, the thing that's compelling about all this, too, is that all of this is not partisan -- information coming from partisan. Its allies of Trump --

LEMON: Right.

MCKINNON: -- and civil servants.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you all. Appreciate it.

WOOD: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: The January 6 Committee wants to talk to Trump director of National Security, John Ratcliffe. What does he know and what can he tell them? A man who held the job weighs in. That's James Clapper. He is here, next.




LEMON: The House January 6 Committee is zeroing in on former Trump cabinet officials. CNN is learning that the committee is negotiating the terms for a potential interview with the former director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe.

So, joining me now, the former director of National Intelligence and CNN national security analyst, James Clapper. Thank you, director, for joining. So glad that you're here.

The committee wants to interview Ratcliffe. Here is testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson saying that he warned the White House that they should not get involved with efforts to overturn the election. Here it is.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: Director Ratcliffe felt that it wasn't something that the White House should be pursuing. It felt it was dangerous for the president's legacy. He had expressed to me that he was concerned that it could spiral out of control and potentially be dangerous either four our democracy or the way that things were going for the 6th.


LEMON: So, director, why is it so important for the committee to hear directly from him and what do you think they should ask?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, I think it is quite important that the committee hear from him and what led him to make -- to express that concern as Cassidy Hutchinson expressed. And, if he did so, well good on him for that.

I've been a little misfired about, you know, just what way he might be able to cast on the events of January 6th. But whatever led him to come to that conclusion, it may not have been based on any source of intelligence, it's just his view as a citizen, as a former member of Congress, and as a DNI, as what could happen.

It may indicate he did have insight into what was afoot with the assault to be on the Capitol. You know, if he was pressed by the White House or the president personally to push these false narratives about, you know, the assault was led by Antifa or it is a false flag for the FBI or had some foreign involvement, it would -- the other thing I think the committee might ask him about is if he was involved in or aware of discussions about potential -- invoking of the 25th Amendment.

LEMON: I want to turn now to the president, President Biden's call with his Chinese counterpart today. The major issue discussed was Taiwan with Xi Jinping telling Biden -- quote -- "If you play with fire, you get burned." Tensions are clearly high here. What can Biden do about that?

CLAPPER: Well, I think, first of all, it is always a good thing when the heads of states of nuclear power speak. And apparently, this is a pretty thorough lengthy discussion, two hours plus, accounting for translation.


So, that is a good thing. My own view is, you know, I wonder about the maturity or lack thereof of Chinese foreign policy where they get this excited -- this exercise over a potential trip by the speaker of the House. And there is precedent for this. It is an old one, Newt Gingrich went, I think, in 1997, and nothing untoward happened.

So, I don't know whether this is a distraction because of challenges that he faces domestically and notably with COVID and a swelling economy or what, but I hope we don't just roll over and are intimidated by such rhetoric.

LEMON: Let's turn now to Russia. I mean, there's no word back from Russia about -- when it comes to the offer to trade a conviction Russian arms dealer for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. It has been three weeks. What is Putin up to, you think?

CLAPPER: Well, in my view, Don, this is the one area where Putin has got leverage over us. Lately, it has been, you know, the other way around with sanctions and all of that. So here is one area where he knows he's got the upper hand, where we are kind of in a soft position. He knows how badly we want our people back. He knows -- he understands the pressure that the president is under.

So, I would forecast stretching the south (ph). According to what I understand of the Soviet -- excuse me, Russian judicial process, Brittney Griner's trial process would have to be finished before there could be a deal struck to release her for Viktor Bout who, by the way, I don't think the Russians care anything about. And this is yet another demonstration, not that we need one, of Russia's cynicism and duplicity.

LEMON: Yeah. Another subject now. The Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament begins today at one of the former president's properties. We've got more on this in just a few minutes. But, this is Trump defending hosting the event. Watch.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): What do you say to those family members who protested earlier this this week and will be doing so again on Friday?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, nobody has gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately, and they should have as to the maniacs that did that horrible thing to our city, to our country, to the world. So, nobody has really been there. But I can tell you that there are a lot of really great people that are out here today, and we are going to have a lot of fun.


LEMON: I mean, remarkable, coming from a former president who would have access to all of the intelligence.

CLAPPER: Well, he had his chance for four years to get to the bottom of whatever mystery there is here. I think (INAUDIBLE) for the sake of 9/11 families and others for him to host an event that is notably sponsored by and sanctioned by MBS who has more on his hands himself.

So, this is kind of typical of president Trump's hypocrisy and duplicity because I can recall during the run up to the 2016 campaign where he was, you know, berating the Saudis for being guilty of the 9/11 attack, et cetera, et cetera. So -- and, of course, hosting this event is his little way of getting even with the PGA who suspended golfing events at his golf courses after January 6th.

LEMON: Yeah. Director, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

So, the director just mentioned 9/11. The 9/11 families are furious with the former president for hosting that Saudi-backed golf tournament. Is he turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabians' abysmal human rights record?



LEMON: Okay, so, he says nobody has gotten to the bottom of 9/11? As a way to excuse (ph) the anger and the fury of 9/11 families at the former president who is hosting the Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament at his Bedminster golf course this weekend, the mother of one 9/11 victims tells our Anderson Cooper how she feels.


UNKNOWN: Nothing surprises me about this man now. And what does surprise me is that the professional golfers have been morally compromised, in my view, through greed. That's what really surprises me.


LEMON: Let's bring in now sports writer Rick Reilly. He is the author of "So Help Me Golf: Why We Love the Game" and "Commander In Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump." Hey, Rick, thanks for joining us. This is a highly controversial topic here. We're seeing these pictures of Trump at his LIV golf tournament, the glitz and glam for him. But people are accusing him and these golfers of turning a blind eye to the actions of Saudi Arabia. Why is he doing this?

RICK REILLY, SPORTS WRITER: Because he loves the attention. He had a tournament set to go at that club. The PGA, they got to take it away after this little coup thing that he helped incite. And so somehow, he thinks the PGA Tour was to blame for that, even though he's getting the mixed up.


That's the PGA of America, this is the PGA Tour, but he doesn't care. By the way, he lives at that golf course.

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

REILLY: So, all of a sudden, the guy who was so upset about 9/11 when he was running in 2016, oh, no one has ever gotten to the bottom of it, well, the reason he's saying that is because he is bed with the Saudis, and the Saudis are people that sent 15 of the 19 terrorists, who we are now getting reporting that they may have financially backed some of these terrorists.

They killed gay people, they killed journalists, they disappear dissenters. And all of a sudden, he's forgetting that because it's called sports washing. It's a great way to take your despotic country, has a horrible human rights record, and wash it through sports.

And aren't we all great? Because look how much fun we have playing golf. Do you know how many golf courses there are in Saudi?

LEMON: Explain that to us. Hold on, hold on, hold on. Explain that. This concept called sports washing --


LEMON: -- can you explain what this is? Is that what this LIV tournament is all about?

REILLY: Not the tournament, the whole tour. They don't play golf in Saudi Arabia. There are 14 courses in the whole country, nine of those are sand, half of them are nine-hole courses. This is about coming to America and showing more good guys.

Look, we're playing in the pro-am with Donald Trump and we're paying these wild salaries. And isn't it fun, and shotgun starts, and we're only playing three rounds instead of four. What are they going to sell? Are they going to have Jared Kushner drive the drink cart? Are we going to sell Mulligan's? This isn't golf.

It would be like -- Don, if we took the NFL and took half the teams and the Saudis just said, hey, we're paying you each $100 million, doesn't matter how you do, you'll get that up front and we are going to own you, and you're going to play where we say you're going to play, wouldn't football fans be upset? That's how it feels to us golf fans.

LEMON: That's just one thing. You said that this was all about attention for the former president, the PGA. Isn't it -- I mean, money as well, right? You can't leave that out.


LEMON: Yeah.

REILLY: Well, not only does he have this one. See, the Saudis don't even know what they're doing. They're paying way too much for prices to players to rent courses. He's got another one, the big Saudi wrap- up thing at Doral, Trump Doral. And he will there like he's going to be there tomorrow on the range going, hey, DJ, you're playing good, but you can't beat this guy, and it drives the players crazy.

LEMON: Yeah.

REILLY: He drives his golf cart right in the middle of the fairway.

LEMON: Oh, Lord.

REILLY: (INAUDIBLE) for buzzing the course with his helicopter. It's just a disaster. If you love golf and if you don't like Trump, it's the worst of both worlds.

LEMON: A nice walk would help him out. So, listen, the former NBA -- look, speaking of the money, it's a lot of money, as you said, former NBA player and sports commentator Charles Barkley also teeing up at Bedminster. He met with the LIV golf CEO about a possible broadcasting role. Barkley currently works under the same parent company as CNN, full transparency here. I just want to play something that he said the ESPN. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARLES BARKLEY, FORMER NBA PLAYER AND SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Everybody is making up words like sports washing and dirty money. I'm like, listen, you play sports, we all take money from some sources that we might not love or appreciate. But I don't want to be a hypocrite. These guys, they're trying to make a living. I wish them nothing but the best. Same thing with my friends on the PGA Tour. But everybody is just kind of like trying to play the moral card.


LEMON: Is he right or is he misinformed? What do you think of his answer?

REILLY: Well, Charles Barkley is my favorite athlete I've ever covered, funniest, kindest, smartest guy. He turned down LIV today. He said he didn't get an offer. But this is just -- that's just the dumbest argument I've ever heard. He is saying -- so don't be moral? I mean, Charles, you already make Kardashian money. Why do you got to go do this?

Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson -- Phil Mickelson was making $40 million a year, lost all his corporate sponsors, and now he signed for $200 million over three or four years. I guess he's happier. But how do you look at yourself in the mirror?

LEMON: Okay, that's it.

REILLY: I'm so disappointed about this.

LEMON: Okay but -- okay, I get you're saying, and you're saying he's making Kardashian money. I don't know what Charles Barkley makes. I don't know.

REILLY: A lot.

LEMON: But $200 million over the course of three years? I mean, that's a lot of money for anyone. You said it was Phil Mickelson who is getting that much money?

REILLY: Two hundred million. We're not sure if it's three or four years but I mean --

LEMON: Yeah.

REILLY: -- Justin Johnson got at least $150. Players that can hardly crack an egg are cashing in for $50 million. It's crazy, stupid money like you get in a Monopoly game. And they're doing it to sports wash their image. Whether Charles thinks I'm making up the word or not, it's happening and it works.

And by the way, it's going to work. They're here for good. And the PGA Tour now, they've got too many stars now, they're paying too much money. All these guys are jumping ship.


And so, we've got two split tours and the PGA Tour is going to have to make a deal with them. I think they won.

LEMON: Wow! So, if it is here for good, won't athletes say, looks, it is here, we might as well do it? I don't know.

REILLY: It's here for good and it's really bad for the sport. And Donald Trump wins this one. I hate to say it. He suddenly just turns and suddenly loves the Saudis because they're playing at his courses, which, by the way, he always says the greatest courses in the world. They're not in the top 200 in the country.

LEMON: But you can certainly understand --

REILLY: So, he gets his attention out of it.

LEMON: You can certainly understand how 9/11 families feel about this.


LEMON: Yeah.

REILLY: Breaks my heart.

LEMON: Thank you.

REILLY: Breaks my heart. Terrible.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

REILLY: Thank you.

LEMON: Deadly floods sweeping through Kentucky, killing at least eight people. The state's governor saying it is the worst flooding disaster in his lifetime.




LEMON: Extreme weather battering much of the U.S. At least eight people are dead as historic floods washed over much of Eastern Kentucky. And in the Western U.S., the climate crisis literally adding fuel to wildfires that have become more frequent and more dangerous amid droughts and sweltering heat.

CNN's Bill Weir has the very latest from California where fires are already unusually fierce and can soon get even worse.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It actually started right around here?

JOE AMADOR, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, OAK FIRE INCIDENT: It started right over here, this ridge over here.

WEIR: Okay.

AMADOR: And in the first 24 hours, this fire grew 10,000 acres.

WEIR: Now, put that in perspective. That's crazy fast.

AMADOR: That's right.

WEIR: Crazy fast.

(voice-over): The Oak Fire is the biggest fire in California. And because fire season winds haven't really started blowing yet, there are almost 4,000 firefighters here from all corners of the state. They managed to keep flames out of Yosemite National Park, but not the smoke. And they say they won't fully contain this blaze for weeks.

(On camera): So, what makes this Oak Fire especially scary, though, is it devastated a lot of land, really fast, and the winds are howling like they would be --

AMADOR: Correct.

WEIR: -- for (INAUDIBLE), right?

AMADOR: Correct. That's correct. We're in extreme conditions but things can always get worse.

WEIR: Any ecologist will tell you that a healthy forest needs occasional fire to rejuvenate itself. But, ever since World War II, Smokey the Bear has been preaching fire suppression.

And across much of California, all this fuel has been loading up over the decades a fire drought, really, just in time to the old-fashioned drought, a 22-year megadrought. This combination now making Californians rethink everything they know about property values and insurance markets and defensible spaces.

BRIAN VITORELO, CAL FIRE MENDOCINO UNIT: In the course of my career, I have seen the biggest fire happen year after year after year.

WEIR (voice-over): Yeah.


VITORELO: It's impressive.

WEIR (on camera): Now, no offense, you don't look like a grizzled veteran, but it's not the years, it's the fires these days, I guess, right?

VITORELO: The fires, yes.

UNKNOWN: Well, to that, these fires have been happening with the last 10, 15 years. I mean, you could go back to 2003, then all of a sudden, something happened.

WEIR (on camera): I wonder about folks who live in amazing spots like this. A great find in the 70s when the fire like this was once in a lifetime.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Sure.

WEIR (on camera): Now, it's once every couple of years.

UNKNOWN: Yes, sir.

WEIR (on camera): Do you see a change in the psychology of folks in these wild places?

UNKNOWN: Takes a special person to come and live out here. And we just hope that if you do decide to live out here that you learn how to prepare yourself, prepare your property, get -- prepare emergency escape plan, create some defensible space like as you see here. This person did a great job by clearing out some combustible vegetation and brush away from fire.

WEIR (voice-over): Bill Weir, CNN, Mariposa County, California.


LEMON: All right, Bill Weir, thank you very much.

Now, I want to bring in National Geographic senior environment writer Craig Welch, who has excellent reporting on the climate crisis at

Craig, we're so happy to have you here. Good evening to you, sir. I want to ask you about this flooding in Kentucky. The governor calling it the worst flooding disaster of his lifetime with hundreds of families losing everything and the death toll expected to rise. These historic weather disasters are becoming distressingly all too common.

CRAIG WELCH, SENIOR ENVIRONMENT WRITER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: That is true. If you think about just the last month, we have had heat wave in India and Pakistan, we have had heat wave in Europe and the U.K. We have had heat wave across the U.S. and we have had flooding a couple of days ago in Missouri that the National Weather Service says was a one in a thousand event. And we had nine inches of rain in St. Louis in 24 hours, which was the most ever recorded.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, I got to tell you, every night this week, we have covered extreme weather from oppressive heat to fires and drought in the west and massive flooding in Missouri and Kentucky. We even covered what is happening with farmers, especially cattle farmers. Is all of this connected to the climate crisis?

WELCH: It is, and our ability to actually attribute these events to climate is improving by leaps and bounds. Scientists increasingly are able to point to climate and many of these events within hours.

[23:45:00] The reality is that in forest fires, you are seeing more heat, more drought, less rainfall all in packed force, and that combined is helping to fuel more fires. Heat waves can affect things in a lot of ways. You can see -- more fires can themselves actually increase the likelihood of flooding. The Yellowstone floods, we saw rain coming on top of snow, which melted out the snow and caused floods in Yellowstone. All of this has a climate component.

LEMON: Hmm. Craig, until this week, it looked like Democratic Senator Joe Manchin was going to block climate action in what many say could be the last window for us to act without even more dire consequences. Is there still enough time to avoid the worst?

WELCH: Absolutely. And I think what ended up coming out this week with the legislation being proposed by Manchin and the Democrats is the potential step forward.

LEMON: If this deal passes, Craig, it would put nearly $370 billion in climate programs, including key subsidies. It could slash U.S. emissions by 40% by 2030. How much of an impact would this make?

WELCH: That's huge. I mean, if you think about where we are heading without this kind of legislation, it is roughly half of that in emissions decline. We are seeing -- we are moving more towards electric -- electrifying the grid with solar, wind, and electric vehicles. The problem is we aren't getting there anywhere near fast enough.

The only way to do that is with some sort of assistance. We need subsidies for consumers. You need subsidies for industries. This bill provides a lot of that.

LEMON: Policy is usually important in fighting climate crisis. How important is it for us, as a society, to also focus on innovation in order to get us out of this crisis?

WELCH: I mean, innovation is essential for a bunch of reasons. If you think about it, you know, solar has been around for 40 years. It was innovation and a little bit of economic assistance that allowed us to start seeing the kind of growth in solar power.

The price of solar has dropped substantially in the last 40 years. Some of that has been because we have subsidized solar, but it has also been because the industry has figured out how to manufacture solar much faster and more efficiently.

We also will need to find ways to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere. There are scientists working right now on innovative ways to draw carbon from the atmosphere. Even the IPCC says something like that is necessary. But right now, the capacity to do that is just way too expensive, and innovation is one step towards getting us there.

LEMON: Craig Welch, thank you, sir. I appreciate it. We learned a lot. Thank you so much.

WELCH: Thank you for your time. LEMON: Shortages of everything from cars to smart phones to washing

machines and all because there weren't enough tiny computer chips. What Congress just did may change everything.




LEMON: What Congress just did may make the U.S. competitive again in manufacturing semiconductors, the cutting-edge computer chips, and everything from smartphones to airplanes.

The House following the Senate's lead, passing a bill to make tens of billions of dollars available to manufacturers and researchers with the goal of reducing the chip shortage and ending U.S. reliance on overseas chipmakers like China.

CNN's Miguel Marquez looks at what the legislation means for American businesses.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is enormous. GlobalFoundries semiconductor chip plant in Malta, New York.

(On camera): In this fabrication unit, how many chips are being made for how many products?

CHRISTOPHER BELFI, EQUIPMENT ENGINEERING MANAGER, GLOBALFOUNDRIES: So, we can produce roughly millions of chips a day.

MARQUEZ (on camera): A day?

(Voice-over): The fab, where the chips are made, about the size of six football fields. The process, so sensitive, a single human hair could gum up the works. Even the light has to be controlled.

BELFI: Any exposure to ambient light will have a negative impact on our manufacturing (ph).

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The chips produced here going to everything from cars, computers, videogames, communications technology, and defense industry.

SAAM AZAR, HEAD OF GLOBAL GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, GLOBALFOUNDRIES: We are at half a trillion right now, our semiconductor industry. Conservative estimates by 2030, we are going to be at a trillion. So, the question isn't whether or not --

MARQUEZ (on camera): A trillion --

AZAR: A trillion-dollar industry. So, we are going to double between now and 2030.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The chips (INAUDIBLE) for investing $52 billion in semiconductor production here at home. Eighteen states now produce chips and could benefit from the funding.

GlobalFoundries started producing chips here in 2012. New York State kicked in $2 billion, helping the company secure another $13 billion to build a plant, today employing 3,000 employees with a median salary, says the company, of $90,000. At just this one plant, the expected effect of the chips at funding (ph) --

AZAR: We intend a double capacity in partnership with the federal government, with the state government.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Doubling capacity, adding up to a thousand more jobs, many of them high-paying, all of it a boom to the area.

In the last decade, how has the economy here changed?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Leaps and bounds, booming?

HARR: It almost seems that it is sort of a bubble.

STEVE ROSATO, MANAGER, SARATOGA OLIVE OIL COMPANY: The dividends are felt like a ripple effect throughout all the shops and all the restaurants and all the taverns.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Some conservatives and progressives argue that government should not be in the business of subsidizing private industry. The industry says that a little bit of public financing goes a long way.

AZAR: The proof is in the putting. Look at this facility we have, the number of jobs, the taxpayer return, 2, 3, 4X with the state.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): An industry started by America, an industry essential to the tech economy, an industry critical to the nation's defense, an industry the U.S. would like to dominate again.

(On camera): So, industry executives say it doesn't take much government financing to attract lots of private capital. They also point out that America's biggest competitors in the semiconductor industry, China, the E.U., India, Korea, and Japan, they collectively have earmarked about $280 billion already to spur their semiconductor industry. It is very big money and very heavy competition. Don?


LEMON: Miguel, thank you so much. And thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.