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Don Lemon Tonight

Kansas Votes Overwhelmingly To Protect Abortion Rights; Election Deniers Win GOP Primaries; Secret Service May Disable Text Messaging On Phones; Democrats Struggle To Capitalize On Big Summer Of Legislative Wins For Biden Administration; County Sheriffs Vowing To Stop The Nonexistent Steal; Indiana GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski Killed In Car Crash. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 23:00   ET



SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): And it wasn't just Democrats, as you say, independents, moderate Republicans, they don't like the extremism. They believe like I do, that women should be able to make their own decision about their reproductive health care, not politicians, not Ted Cruz, not the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. They do not want them in their house. They want to make their own decision.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Senator, let me ask you --

KLOBUCHAR: And I think some --

LEMON: Let me ask you --

KLOBUCHAR: Go ahead, Don.

LEMON: Let me ask you, senator. Could they just believe as well that there should be some restrictions on abortion but there shouldn't be an outright ban on abortion?

KLOBUCHAR: I think that what was on the table for them -- I don't know what they would think about restrictions of various things. I think what was on the table for them was really, are they going to allow any kind of choice in reproductive health care?

And when I look at what they were seeing, the extremism, I'm sure many of those voters heard about the 10-year-old in Ohio that had -- couldn't even get an abortion after being raped. And then had went to Indiana, brought to Indiana, and got her health care there. Then the doctor that performed the procedure got in trouble or at least didn't really get in trouble, didn't do one thing wrong, but the attorney general starts looking into her.

When you hear stories like that, voters hear it, regular people hear it. And I think that's what was resonating with them. They want to be able to make their own decisions on reproductive health care. And I don't think we can put in their minds what they thought of restrictions or not, I just think that the views that we're seeing is what they voted on, right? We've got people, including actually Senator McConnell, who said that they want to put a ban into law, a ban, an outright ban. We have governors in states like Texas who have talked about putting even more restrictions in place. States like Missouri, where someone proposed criminalizing it, people have proposed suing people when they cross lines or not allowing them to get their own health care and other states.

All these things are reality for people. They're hearing about it. So, I don't -- I can't tell you where they draw the line, I just know that they don't want to lose their rights.

LEMON: Uh-hmm. So, senator, President Biden signing this new executive order aimed at protecting abortion access and calling on Congress to codify Roe. The filibuster stands in the way of that. But Kansas shows the hunger for these protections is really out there. That, you know, all of these people who want -- these extremes when it comes to abortion, that they are not in step with what most Americans want, and that includes Republicans.

KLOBUCHAR: That's for sure. A lot of people talking about it today, let me tell you that.



LEMON: Talk to me about that. Tell me about that. What did they say?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I just think that Republicans saw it as a wakeup call. I don't see that changing much of their positions that they firmly held for a long time. But as you point out, really, all we need is two more senators. I'd like three or four.

And we have such great possibilities from Fetterman in Pennsylvania, Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin to Judge Beasley in North Carolina, Val Demings in Florida, pick up seats in addition to making sure we reelect our incredible incumbents who are doing so well and are such a big contrast to their opponents, with Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire and Reverend Warnock, and you've got Mark Kelly and you have Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada.

That's what each state is going to look at. And if Kansas looked at it that way, imagine what these other states are going to see because they're going to actually have someone with really extreme views in nearly every one of those races on the other side.

So, that's what I think is going to matter. And I'm telling you right now, Don, Kansas was a wakeup call and that's what we were talking about today. And I heard it from a few Republicans as well, they don't have the 60 votes. So, we need the votes to reverse the filibuster so we can actually codify Roe v. Wade.

LEMON: Sounds like what you're saying is there some optimism, more optimism among Democrats after what Kansas did last night?

KLOBUCHAR: We've been saying it forever. Seventy to 80% of the American people actually want to see reproductive freedom. Every poll shows it. And I think the question was, when women and men (ph) didn't support them, were they going to actually show up at the polls? And they showed up at the weirdest election in the middle of August, at a primary time they tried to bury this as much as possible, and they showed up and voted.

LEMON: I mean, when it comes to November, if this is going to motivate Democrats and even some Republicans come November, that's what the optimism is about?

KLOBUCHAR: Yeah, it's about the kind of turnout and the new voters and the people you saw coming out, sure, that is optimism.


But remember, they're also seeing at the same time, even though this was a vote specifically on abortion, what they're seeing at the same time is we're actually getting stuff done.

The chips bill, we're going to be making semiconductor chips in America again, not dependent on foreign countries for key component part in our cars and our phones. Burn pits, Democrats stood by our veterans. We just today voted to get Finland and Sweden into NATO. Only two people objected to that. We were able to move forward on the gun safety bill, took on the NRA. My shipping bill finally passed to take on the international conglomerates.


KLOBUCHAR: It's one thing after another, Don, and look what you're going to be seeing in the coming week. For the first time, lifting that ban that was put into law that says that the pharmaceuticals on Washington or finally Medicare is going to be able to negotiate less expensive drugs for seniors. Climate, moving on that. And I predict by this time next week, if I go on your show, this major bill to bring down inflation is going to have passed with $305 billion, score came out today (ph), in deficit reduction.

LEMON: I'm going to hold you to that. So, let me ask you --

KLOBUCHAR: Okay, Don. I'm ready to go. We've got a date.

LEMON: You just mentioned these legislative victories, right, in the Biden ministration. The growing number of Democrats aren't fully sold on him running in 2024. I'm sure you've seen the clips of Democrats being asked about it. Would you support him for a second term?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes. I made that very clear.

LEMON: Yeah.

KLOBUCHAR: And I think you can see the kind of leadership he has been showing --

LEMON: Yeah.

KLOBUCHAR: -- over these last few months.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you, senator. And again, so, maybe I'll see you next week?

KLOBUCHAR: Okay. I will. What do you mean, we have a date? I can't wait.

LEMON: I appreciate it.

KLOBUCHAR: See you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you, Senator Amy Klobuchar.

KLOBUCHAR: (INAUDIBLE) better than water.

LEMON: Thank you.


LEMON: Thank you.

KLOBUCHAR: All right.

LEMON: Now, I want to bring in presidential historian Jon Meacham. He is the author of "And There Was Light." Hey, Jon. Good to see you.

JON MEACHAM, WRITER, HISTORIAN, PRESIDENTIAL BIOGRAPHER: How are you? You're making dates on the air.


LEMON: This is my dating vehicle. Yeah, there is one person who may not be happy about that. But anyways, the future of our democracy was on the ballot on Tuesday, and with so many election deniers winning republican nominations, it's going to be on the ballot with final consequences come November. How could the results of this midterm echo in the coming years, you think?

MEACHAM: It's essential. It is without a doubt the most consequential period. We're living through the most consequential period in testing the durability of the constitutional conversation. The foundational document, as imperfect as it is, that has shaped the life of the country for almost 250 years.

LEMON: Yeah.

MEACHAM: And I don't think that's hyperbolic. I think that when you look at the data points, including these primaries, as you say, with the election deniers, you see that there is an organized and pernicious effort afoot in the country to put the will to power over the common good, the pursuit of the common good.

And that may sound homolytic (ph), it may sound overly sentimental somehow, but it's not. You know, every once in a while, you just have to call something what it is.

LEMON: Yeah.

MEACHAM: And we're living through an enormous test of citizenship. Are we up to democracy? Because it's not an easy thing to do. If it were easy, everybody would've been doing it.

LEMON: Yeah.

MEACHAM: We are a remarkable exception to the rule that republics don't endure, but that's not a permanent exception, and that's what's on the ballot.

LEMON: I love having you on because -- look, it's reaffirming for me, because over the past seven years or so, watching, sitting here, being at the forefront, the vanguard of what's happening and conveying it to the American people and really to the world because we are an international news organization, as someone whose job is mentioned in the very First Amendment of the Constitution, to hold the powerful accountable into question, question, question, it is important to realize the moment that we're in.

And if I miss it, if we miss it as journalists, right, freedom of the press, then that is a ripple effect, right? That's a domino effect for people around the country and around the world. So, we can't miss this moment because it's so important to democracy, not only in America but the world over because as they look to us as an example.

MEACHAM: They do, and we forget that sometimes. American democracy is not pure democracy. We are a democratic republic.

LEMON: Right.

MEACHAM: We had battles between Madison and Hamilton and Hamilton and Jefferson about this. We have been arguing over the nature of the republic forever.


My friend, Howard Fineman, wrote a book about it. We are founded on argument. And that is really complicated because -- to get quasi-heavy for a second, what the Constitution demands is that we are willing to lose from time to time.

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

MEACHAM: We don't undermine or question the legitimacy of our defeat. That's the entire -- go look at it. I wouldn't flip this on you, but this is what the federalist papers are about. This is what an enormous amount of philosophy that shaped the founding and shaped our veteran reformed movements throughout is about. It's that we are driven as human beings by appetite and ambition. We are fallen trail, infallible. Most of what we want to do is bad.

(LAUGHTER) MEACHAM: You know, we're being honest, you know. And if you and I can do the right thing 51% of the time, that's a heck of a good day. And democracy is the fullest manifestation of all of us. So, if the country gets things right, just over half the time, that's about what we can expect. I wish it were better. I understand that.

Our friends on the left, you think I'm too sentimental about this, but human experience, again and again, tells us that the founders' insight, that having contending factions and making drastic action difficult, is probably not a bad bet.

And the entire enterprise, I believe this as strongly as I believe anything, the entire democratic enterprise, the entire American enterprise depends on our seeing each other not as reflexive adversaries but as neighbors.

LEMON: Right.

MEACHAM: Neighbors with competing interests, neighbors with whom we may disagree 99% of the time. But human experience again tells us that if you respect somebody else's victory, they're more likely to respect yours. And that's the thing that is going on with the big lie stuff.

LEMON: Okay. So, let's talk about the big lie. I'm glad you said that perfectly because Arizona is the latest state where a Trump-backed election denier could become the secretary of state. I mean, that is important stuff. What happens if, you know, the big lie supporters can tip the levers of the next presidential election?

MEACHAM: Then the Constitution is shredded. Arguably, beyond recovery. Because once you break something like the United States, I don't think you put it back together. Certainly not. And I say that -- I purposefully -- I'm not popping off here. I believe that.

If we have the mechanics of power or willing to act, if the architect, the people who manage power, manage elections, are willing to enable and manifest falsehood and taken election away from what the will of the people demonstrated, then the threshold question about a democratic republic falls away because what the framers would've said is that we were a popular government. That ultimately, for all the checks and balances, it was rooted in the people.

If you have state level, county level, even precinct level, people who are willing to perpetuate a fraud on the democratic lowercase D experiment, then the threshold requirement of democracy breaks down. And then the question is, what replaces it? Right?

And this isn't just, I would say to our friends in the business world, this isn't just some political guys talking like two old guys on the balcony, right? If you break the Constitution, what makes you think that other contracts will be honored?

Look at this as a global story. If you lose something like this, then there is a -- to use the phrase domino effect, there is a pernicious complicating set of factors that makes democratic capitalism vulnerable to attack from the political side. And what replaces democratic capitalism? Around the world, it's kleptocracy, it's oligarchy. Do you want to pay off the party in power so you can do business somewhere? I don't think so.

LEMON: Yeah.

MEACHAM: So, this is super (INAUDIBLE). Joe Biden is my friend. I help him when I can. So, take us for what it's worth. But that's why President Biden's and his administration's success in delivering results on a constitutional way is so vital.

LEMON: Yeah.


MEACHAM: It's because at this moment, you mentioned journalists, I think one thing that drives me a little crazy is, sometimes, people who do what you and I do almost act as though this is 1986 and Bob Dole and George Michel are going on capital gang to argue about something. This is not that.

LEMON: We're not there anymore.

MEACHAM: That is not -- this is different. And we have to rise to the level of events.

LEMON: Yeah. I'm glad you mentioned that. you said, people are watching or business guys saying, you know, those two old guys are sitting there talking about this. The interesting thing for me is, considering my background and my ancestry, is that this is -- how do I say this? Not that there is more import, maybe there is, considering the history of this country, and what a thriving and robust democracy means to people like me, even to women.

And if we lose that because of, you know, business folks who are cynical about, you know, this is a business of journalists, then we've lost the plot. And so, even some of the people who talk about advocacy, well, there's no room for advocacy in journalism. That's not necessarily true. I'm not an advocate journalist. That's not true.

Advocate is not a bad word. Because of advocates, because of journalists who are advocates as well, I have the right to vote, I have the right to sit here, I have the right to be able to sit in the front of the bus, the front of an airplane or to do a lot of things. So, those things are not necessarily bad. So, again, we have to realize the moment that we're in because if we lose this, then we lose everything.

And that is critical for marginalized people, that's critical for Black people, that's critical for immigrants, that's critical for women, that's critical for people who are not Christians in this country, who some Christians may want to ostracize because they don't believe in their religion.

The reason that we left England is because of what? Religious freedom. And there are people who believe this is a Christian nation. It's not just a Christian nation. This is a nation of Muslims, this is a nation of atheists, this is a nation of Christians, this is a nation of Catholics, this is a nation of Baptists, this is a nation of everyone, for everybody

But it shouldn't be a nation of election deniers and liars and people who try to capitalize on that, opportunists and grifters who have the preeminent voice in this country. That's not America. And I don't think we should allow our country to go down that road.

MEACHAM: I don't either. And let me just join the cause here. I'm a boringly heterosexual white southern male. Right? I am a Christian, not a very good one. I'm a southern white man. Right? And I believe with you that I will also suffer if we lose the constitutional plot.

Because I think what's important here is as the case is made, do you want to continue the constitutional conversation, as imperfect as it is, or do you want to just win at any cost, including breaking the rule of law? Because that's the question. That's the question after the presidential election in 2020.

If that happens, it's not just the marginalized -- the previously historically marginalized who lose. I lose, my kids lose because the entire construct of a government devoted to an idea that we're all created equal and are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, collapses.

And our standing as equal beings, as figures of dignity with the capacity to determine our own destiny, that status is eliminated, and you become an inherent to a partisan authoritarian force. And what matters, not that you were born, which is the birth right and the idea of American experiment, that once born, ideally, you are entitled to the same respect and dignity as anyone else, it's not that anymore. It's how do you stand with the current regime.

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

MEACHAM: That's a very different pernicious thing. And if anybody doubts what we're saying, go check out the history of Europe over the last 400, 500 years and see where you would like to be.

LEMON: Jon Meacham, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir. And you're not boring, by the way.


LEMON: Those other things (INAUDIBLE) you, but you're not boring.

MEACHAM: Let's not poll on that, okay?


LEMON: Thank you, Jon. I appreciate it. We will be right back, everyone.



LEMON: Sources telling CNN that the Secret Service may just disable texting on employees' cell phones temporarily while they try to fix how messages are retained. That in the wake of the firestorm over missing messages relevant to January 6th and the investigation surrounding it.

So, joining me now is CNN political analyst Alex Burns, co-author of the book "This Will Not Pass," and our chief legal analyst, Mr. Jeffrey Toobin. Gentlemen, good evening. Thanks so much for joining us.

Let us see, Alex, I'm going to start with you. What -- give me your reaction to this move from the Secret Service because it is not just them. We know of missing texts around January 6 from the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon as well.


ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Don, I think it certainly shows the degree to which whatever effort there may or may not have been to conceal information or withhold information or create gaps in information, the degree which that has now sort of spiraled beyond any particular person or agency's control.

This is an investigation that has turned up important gaps in the record of information that is available to the Congress and to other investigators. And the different administrative agencies that oversee these information systems are now sort of trying -- it seems somewhat desperate to catch up with the facts as they are unfolding.

Look, we don't know what information might still be able to be recovered, we don't know exactly why the information wasn't accessible to begin with, but it does seem like now the executive branch of government is acting with at least some sense of urgency to get some of those answers.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Catch up, Alex used a great phrase there. How about catching up with the 21st century? The Secret Service can't text? Like they're going to take away texting from all Secret Service agents? What if they need to text to protect the president? I mean, just like this agency, how can they operate?

The good news for them would be, we are just totally incompetent and can't keep track of any of our data. The bad news is, we buried the stuff because we didn't want the January 6 Committee to get it. But either way --

LEMON: It could be both.

TOOBIN: It could be both, but either way, it doesn't fill you with a lot of confidence.

LEMON: Yeah. I can't believe that an agency that as important as the Secret Service can't keep their text messages in check. But listen, I mean, as I said, it's not just Homeland Security, the Pentagon as well. I'm not saying there is anything nefarious here but it certainly -- I mean, if it walks like a duck --


TOOBIN: The one thing that seems clear is that this investigation should not be done by the Department of Homeland Security, should not be done by the Secret Service, it should be done by someone -- some agency that is outside their control.

LEMON: There's another big development here because the former Trump White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, and his deputy, Patrick Philbin, have been subpoenaed by a federal grand journey jury. They have both already testified before the Select Committee.

But I wonder how -- the question is, how could the questioning be different? But it can be different because this is more -- the January 6 Committee is political, right? That's political. Jeffrey, this is legal. This would be more of a legal investigation.

TOOBIN: Right. But there are legal obstacles. There are issues of executive privilege that could be raised. There are issues of attorney-client privilege that could be raised. Even though they were both government lawyers, the courts have held that in certain circumstances, with certain kinds of communication, the attorney- client privilege is invoked.

So, almost certainly, this will be going to court. But remember who we are talking about. I mean, this is an investigation of Donald Trump now. This is someone who doesn't text, who doesn't email. So, the only way we are going to know what Donald Trump was doing and thinking is through witnesses.

LEMON: Yeah.

TOOBIN: And Cipollone, as we know from Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, was involved in this -- was trying to keep things under control. So, he knows a lot.

LEMON: But isn't a grand jury testimony, isn't that more important in front of the January 6 Committee?

TOOBIN: The court, sometimes, yes, give more deference to a grand jury investigation than a congressional investigation, but maybe it's still not 100% clear.

LEMON: Alex, I want to talk about what is happening at "The New York Times." Your colleagues at "The New York Times", Maggie Haberman -- your colleague, I should say, Maggie Haberman, is reporting that John Eastman sent an email to Rudy Giuliani to weeks after January 6th, arguing that they should sue Georgia to keep searching for fraud while acknowledging that they won't find any fraud. So, he knew the truth, but he just kept pushing, anyway.

BURNS: Right. And Don, this is so much of the picture that has gotten filled in over the last few weeks and months as more of that correspondence and more of this testimony has come into public view. It is the sense that even the people who are pushing the most far out and aggressively -- I'll just say euphemistically aggressively creative theories of how to push the case of election fraud, they knew that they didn't have the goods, right?

That we heard from people in the president's inner circle who said he was told repeatedly that the information -- the facts were not there. We know that Rudy Giuliani acknowledged the people that he was -- pursuing theories that he had not found factual support for.


And now we have John Eastman after the insurrection at the Capitol saying they should file lawsuits around a different election, the Senate runoffs in Georgia on January 5th, because if they found evidence of fraud there, then surely that would imply a greater possibility of fraud in the November election. This is really farfetched stuff. By the way, another piece of reporting by Maggie and the "Times," John Eastman wasn't actually doing this a pro bono --

LEMON: He wanted money.

BURNS: He was (INAUDIBLE) enormous amount to Donald Trump and asking for help collecting those fees.

LEMON: He wanted -- the amount was -- he wanted help collecting $270,000 invoice that he sent to the Trump campaign for his legal services.

TOOBIN: I mean, could this be a more perfect Donald Trump story?


TOOBIN: I mean, stiffing contractors is something that goes back decades with him.

LEMON: Oh, boy.

TOOBIN: And John Eastman may get himself indicted, but Donald Trump is still not going to pay his legal fees.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you, Alex. Thank you, Jeffrey. I appreciate it. He's making deals on climate, health care, manufacturing gun safety, but Biden's approval rating is still sitting at 36%. What gives?




LEMON: So, it has been the summer of winds for President Biden and the Democrats' deal on climate and health care, passing the CHIPS Act, gun legislation, and a bill meant to help veterans affected by burn pits. Three of those passing just this week. The president also announcing the U.S. killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike. And on top of all of that, gas prices have now fallen from the record high of $5 a gallon to -- for 50 straight days, I should say.

I want to bring in now "Washington Post" columnist Max Boot and CNN commentator Bakari Sellers. Good evening to you. Wow, Bakari, that was a big smile on your face. What's up with that?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's pretty (INAUDIBLE). Listen, I've been somebody who has come on the show many times and people know that I'm -- you know, I like to push and hold my elected officials accountable, especially when we got into work to get them elected.

But in a 50/50 Senate, many of the accomplishments you named, from chips to PACT to the transportation piece of legislation, I mean, and you talk about this Inflation Reduction Act, bipartisan in fashion, when you look at these things and you look at this successes that Joe Biden has had over the past 7 to 10 days, you are now starting to see that somebody who is Joe Biden's age who believed that we could achieve these bipartisan goals, he may have actually been on to something.

LEMON: Yeah. I mean, he has gotten a lot of criticism from people saying he's operating in a time that is no longer -- yours truly said the same thing. So, but, you know, he has proven a lot of folks wrong. There's a lot of crow to eat --


LEMON: -- over the last couple of days, including myself. I can admit that. But Max, I haven't seen Bakari smile this much on air, I think, since 2014.


LEMON: It has been a few good days for President Biden and his administration. You know, a lot of voters -- a lot that voters can talk about, a lot that Democrats can tout. Do you think this could be a turning point for the president and his party?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, COLUMNIST FOR THE WASHINGTON POST: It's really hard to say, Don. I think it's hard to have any kind of turning point as long as inflation remains at around 9% and as long as people are worried about a recession. I think that's going to be the dominant force driving our politics, although there certainly others, including the backlash over the Supreme Court, opening the way to ban abortion.

But, you know, I think fundamentally, it's really the inflation rate which is artificially depressing Biden's popularity, even though it's hard to say that it's really mainly his fault or even partially his fault given the fact that inflation in Europe is almost identical to what it is here. That is 8.9% versus 9.1%.

I mean, you're going to blame Biden for inflation in France? That's ridiculous. This is a global phenomenon with increasing energy prices and other factors going on. But, you know, Biden, like any other president, is really at the mercy of the economy.

But what I do argue in my "Washington Post" column is that, you know, although Biden looks very unpopular right now, things could look very different by 2024. If by that point inflation is down and we moved through these recession fears that the economy is strong, Biden will look a lot stronger and people will focus on his record of legislative achievement.

LEMON: Yeah. Hey, Bakari, I have just a couple seconds here, as you know, what should Democrats be doing right now to make sure voters are paying attention to what they've done?

SELLERS: I mean, you've got to go out and spread the good news, you got to spread the joy, you got to remind people that gas prices are dropping, you got to remind people that foreign policy -- when you're talking about killing the individual who actually laid the plans for 9/11, you have to tell that story. When you're talk about transportation and supply chain, you have to tell the story.

One of the things that Democrats don't do is communicate our own message well, and Joe Biden has been giving us a message to go out and communicate. Now, it's our job. Use Frank Scott, use (INAUDIBLE), use Randall Woodfin, use (INAUDIBLE), use these mayors of these amazing cities who are doing the work, these young elected officials, and go out and spread the good news because Max is right.

LEMON: Yeah.

SELLERS: You now, if you allow Republicans to define you, you lose every single day of the week. And shout out to Kansas!

LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen.

SELLERS: I had a lot to get off my chest today. I'm smiling, Don.

LEMON: I know. Look at that smile, wow! I'll have what he is having.

SELLERS: And I got a haircut, Don. I got a haircut. I feel handsome and there's a lot to talk about.


LEMON: All right. It was all good until the handsome part. Thank you very much.


LEMON: I appreciate it.

You know, he is spending taxpayer money to bolster the big lie. CNN looks into the county sheriff, who not only refuses to accept the outcome of the election, but is taking it into his own hands to investigate. That's next.




LEMON: Tonight, we have been reporting on the candidates and elected officials nationwide who denied real election results, but there is another group of people who continue to push election lies. They are members of law enforcement, including sworn officers, some of them acting on their own or conducting their own investigations, despite no credible evidence of rigging or fraud.

CNN's Sara Sidner reports.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside of Kansas City, in the state's largest county, the chief law enforcement officer has joined ranks with people who refused to let the 2020 election lie die.

CALVIN HAYDEN, SHERIFF, JOHNSON COUNTY, KANSAS: How many of you voted in the 2020 election? Put your hands down. Now, how many of you think your vote counted? See. This is exactly why I'm doing what I'm doing.

SIDNER (voice-over): That is Sheriff Calvin Hayden of Johnson County, Kansas just last month at a conference in Las Vegas still questioning the validity of the 2020 election results, even though Donald Trump won his state by 15 points.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Repeat after me --

SIDNER (voice-over): The nearly two-year-old certified vote where Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 74 electoral votes and more than seven million popular votes.

HAYDEN: There's a lot of stuff going around about what happened in this election. Quite frankly, I don't know, but I'm looking. And what we are looking at is we got a whole lot of reasonable suspicion and we're starting to develop some probable cause.

SIDNER (voice-over): He says he has assigned sheriff deputies to investigate 2020 election fraud.

HAYDEN: It's a long, drawn-out investigation, and frankly, they've got a lot more to do.


SIDNER (voice-over): That's the top election official in Kansas during the 2020 election, Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a Republican.

(On camera): Did you find any major voter fraud?

SCHWAB: Not in our state. We do post-election audits. We are one of the few states that do the audit before the board of canvassers meet to make sure they have the appropriate data.

SIDNER (on camera): Have there been any people who have filed reports of voter fraud with the secretary of state's office?

SCHWAB: Yeah, we've had about 12, but they were so nebulous.

SIDNER (on camera): You had 12, about a dozen --

SCHWAB: Uh-hmm

SIDNER (on camera): -- complaints concerning potential voter fraud in the entire state, to your office?

SCHWAB: To our office.

SIDNER (voice-over): We tried multiple times to talk to Sheriff Hayden to ask him to explain why he is spending taxpayer dollars looking into an election that has already been audited and certified. He declined. His spokesperson offered this.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): You know we're still investigating that. It's an in open investigation and we're really not going to make any more comments on it.

SIDNER (on camera): It turns out Sheriff Hayden is one of several elected sheriffs who say they are looking into mass fraud in the 2020 presidential election, something that has been widely debunked by secretaries of state across the country and dozens of courts.

But their ideas are applauded, even encouraged, by an organization they are all members of. The organization is the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association run by a former Arizona sheriff, Richard Mack.


SIDNER (voice-over): That was Richard Mack at the conference he puts on in Vegas. He has formed a whole dues-paying organization around the idea of constitutional sheriffs who, he says, should not enforce laws they deem unconstitutional, even if passed by legislatures.

(On camera): Do you think that the 2020 election was fraudulent?

MACK: No one knows that. No one knows that. And people came out like William Barr and said, well, there could have been some fraud, but it would not have changed the election. He's a liar.

SIDNER (on camera): Secretary --

MACK: He is a liar.

SIDNER (on camera): Secretary of states from across this country have said, we do know that, there was not enough fraud to change anything and --

MACK: They're lying.

SIDNER (on camera): Hold on.

MACK: They're lying.

SIDNER (voice-over): His view on the attack on the Capitol?

MACK: And I said, anybody that went and broke into Capitol deserves to be arrested. But what the FBI has done and the way they've been going after people and people are still sitting in prison without charges and without trials, what they have done, oh my, gosh, it proves that the FBI will do anything they are told. They are a bunch of Nuremberg officers.

SIDNER (on camera): You just compared the Federal Bureau of Investigation officers --

MACK: Yes.

SIDNER (on camera): The rank and file --

MACK: Yes.

SIDNER (on camera): -- to Nazis.

MACK: They just do what they are told.

SIDNER (on camera): It is real disturbing to hear someone who is in law enforcement tom compare the FBI with the slaughter, people who slaughtered six million Jews and many other people.

MACK: Okay.

SIDNER (on camera): Do you see how that could create a really bad taste in people's mouths, to hear a sheriff, a former sheriff, say that?


MACK: No, no, no. You're taking that way too far because this is what Nuremberg --

SIDNER (on camera): Nuremberg. You just compared them to -- I mean, you made the comparison, not me.

MACK: Okay. All right. Fair enough. But I will tell you why, because the Nuremberg trial brought up one particular point and it is, you can't hold me responsible because I was just following orders.

SIDNER (voice-over): He says constitutional sheriffs won't, and therefore, sees an essential role for them in the electoral process.

MACK: I will tell you one thing, there is overwhelming evidence that cannot be dismissed, and all we are asking for is for sheriffs to conduct honest and fair investigations to determine if there is fraud.

SIDNER (On camera): By the way, Mack was a sheriff in the 1990s in Arizona and did run for higher office, though he did not win. But his contention that the alleged January 6 rioters were sitting in jail or are sitting in jail uncharged is patently false. Hundreds of people have been charged. Some have pleaded guilty, others innocent, some are awaiting trial.

And there has also been many investigations into the 2020 election, even in his home state of Arizona, where you had a review by election officials. And you had a partisan group calling themselves the Cyber Ninjas look into it as well. You know what they found? Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. But Mack simply will not believe the results of those investigations. Don?


LEMON: Sara, thank you. We'll be right back.




LEMON: Flags at the Capitol are at half-staff tonight in memory of Republican Congressman Jackie Walorski. The lawmaker and two members of her staff were killed today in a tragic car crash in her home state. Walorski was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, an area she has represented in Congress since 2012. She was 58 years old.

We also remember Zach Potts and Emma Thompson, the two young members of the congresswoman's team who also died in the crash.

Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.