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Don Lemon Tonight
Votes Favor To Harriet Hageman In Wyoming; Pat Cipollone And Patrick Philbin Under DOJ's Lens; President Biden Signed $750 Billion Bill; Liz Cheney Accepts Defeat But Promise Not To Be Silent; People Watches Liz Cheney In The Future. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 16, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: tonight, everyone. Join me tomorrow in the "CNN NEWSROOM" with Victor Blackwell from 2 to 4 p.m. Eastern. And I'll be back here tomorrow night. And with that, DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now. All yours, Don.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Thank you very much, Alisyn Camerota. You know, I would love to talk to you, but I've got Mr. John King standing by. So, you know.
CAMEROTA: That's important.
LEMON: That is important.
LEMON: He's at the big board. So.
CAMEROTA: Yes, I got you. I'll let you go.
LEMON: Thanks, Alisyn. I'll see you later.
LEMON: Big night. This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Thank you so much for watching.
We've got three big stories tonight that all intersect, and I will explain in just a moment, if you bear with me. Right now, we are standing by for what's expected to be a doozy of a speech tonight from Liz Cheney.
Liz Cheney is fighting for political life in Wyoming against the latest beneficiary of a Trump revenge tour, and that is Harriet Hageman. Aides said that the congresswoman, who is the vice chair of the January 6 committee, is going to make the case that she is at the beginning of the battle, and she's going to drop a blunt message, a blunt warning, a message warning about the danger to America from misinformation and lies.
Remember when she told CNN earlier this month about the threat from the former president? Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): If defending the Constitution against the threat that he poses means losing a House seat, then that's a sacrifice that I'm willing to make. I don't intend to lose, but some things are more important than any individual office or political campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So that's Wyoming. We'll also going to take you to Alaska right now. Votes are still being cast there where the former president is trying to take down Lisa, Senator Lisa Murkowski for the unpardonable send to him anyway, of voting to convict him in his second impeachment trial.
Now, make no mistake though, this is no ordinary primary night. What we are learning tonight and the new revelations today about the January 6 investigation, could have a big impact on what direction this country might take in the midterms and beyond in 2024 and beyond that, I should say.
So, this is a big deal. There is a Trump factor, the stranglehold of the former president still seems to have on the GOP and whether the legal cloud hanging over him has actually enhanced his control over the party. There are too many people who don't have the courage that we have seen from Liz Cheney, who will tie themselves up into knots to defend former president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): It concerns everybody, if you see some agents go rogue.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): They want Donald Trump arrested. They want entrenched right now. They wanted him charged months ago, years ago.
UNKNOWN: We have a list from the FBI, but we don't have conclusively as to whether or not this actually is classified material.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, still, the basic questions unanswered. What is in the documents? Why did the former president take them and then hold on to them in the first place? And what made the FBI move so urgently to get them back?
Just today, we learned the FBI interviewed former White House lawyers Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin earlier this year as part of the criminal investigation of possible mishandling of classified information and obstruction.
That as the FBI finds 11 sets of classified documents, including some marked top secret, SCI, one of the highest levels of classification in its search of a Mar -- of Mar-a-Lago. Now a federal judge in Florida will be holding a hearing on Thursday on a request to unseal the affidavit used in that search and the many, many investigations just keep rolling on.
Tomorrow, Trump's number one defender, Rudy Giuliani, has been ordered to appear before a Georgia grand jury investigating whether the former president and his allies violated the law in their efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia.
That after prosecutors told him that he is now a target of a grand jury. And in the face of all that, with the midterms looming, President Joe Biden not just a big win, signing a sweeping $750 billion health care, tax and climate bill. His former boss calling it, a BFD. But can Biden and his party show that they have done enough for the American people to decide to keep them in control come November? That remains to be seen.
And we'll discuss all of that tonight. I want to go straight to John King, he's at the magic wall for us tonight as the votes come in. Kaitlan Collins is at the White House. Jessica Schneider has the very latest on the mini-investigation surrounding the former president and his allies.
Good evening, one and all. John King, let's start with you. Tonight's races will tell us really a whole lot about the direction of the GOP, and possibly the country, with Liz Cheney fighting to keep her seat. Tell us what we are seeing in Wyoming right now?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We'll get to Wyoming in one second, Don. But to the point you just made, maybe all these investigations will ultimately weaken Trump. Maybe, maybe. But the salmon colors on this map, those are House candidates endorsed by Donald Trump who are now to win their primaries. That's the semi color on the map. That's a lot of Trump.
He is still, as of now, as we get late in the primary season has a huge influence. And so, we're looking at tonight, Liz Cheney, the tenth of the tenth House Republicans that voted to impeach Donald Trump to face the primary. Now four decided not to run for reelection, only two survived their primaries.
Only four counties in so far, and Liz Cheney, the incumbent congresswoman, the daughter of the former vice president, the daughter of the former Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney at 30 percent of the vote.
Sixty percent if you round that up for Harriet Hageman. She is the Trump backed challenger. This is Hageman versus Cheney, but it's really Trump versus Cheney in the state of Wyoming, Don. You see the results coming in. Harriet Hageman at 64 percent, only 14 percent we have to keep counting.
But so far, every one of the counties that have reported votes, the salmon color of Donald Trump's candidates in the race. Let's go back in time. Why is this so hard for Liz Cheney? Yes, she was popular back home. But this is Donald Trump two years 70 percent o the vote. You come back now to this race now and votes to count. But as you watch the early results come in, you can understand why Liz Cheney is writing a speech tonight, Don, saying, this is a beginning. Certainly, the next chapter for her, most likely.
LEMON: So, let's talk about last now. Because you are keeping tabs on Lisa Murkowski, right? She voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment, John. That race will take time to shake out. What are you watching for?
KING: It will take time to shake up for a couple of reasons. Number one, the polls don't close for a couple more hours. And then number two, Alaska for the first time is using this rank choice voting, so you vote for your first choice but you also fill in your second, third, your second choice, your third choice, and your fourth choice. So, it's going to take a while.
So, we fully expect that Lisa Murkowski will make the November ballot. Right? Four counties will make the November ballot. These are the top three candidates in the state. Kelly Tshibaka is the Republican challenger endorsed by Donald Trump. This is not a traditional Republican primary so it's not just one-on-one or it's not the Republicans.
The top four candidates advance. So, what do we learned, Don? It will take a few days to count all the votes. But we will see, does Lisa Murkowski come out on top of the four candidates who make it in November. Does she come out somewhere in the middle or fourth among those candidates.
Everyone expects she will be among the top four tonight. And as they count over the next few days will just give us a sense, is she stronger than we think? Is she fine for November? Is there some weakness? We'll know that as we count the votes the next few days.
LEMON: All right, John, let's go to Jessica Schneider. Jessica, let's talk about, you know, Trump's major factor of what is happening tonight, but there is also some big news in the January 6 investigation, as well. His top lawyers, they're talking about the classified documents at least -- I shouldn't say January 6 because we don't know if they are connected. But the top lawyers having to be interviewed about the documents from Mar-a-Lago?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it was actually a really big development today because it means the DOJ is talking to some big name witnesses. So, this is former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, his deputy Patrick Philbin. We learned -- our team learned that they were interviewed by the FBI earlier this year in connection with the ongoing criminal probe into the possible mishandling of classified documents.
We saw the search, you know, last Monday, and they both could have answered some really crucial questions about Trump's mindset or his intent, if he, in fact, insisted on keeping those classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. You know, because intent will ultimately be crucial for prosecutors to know if they are going to actually charge Trump or maybe top aides around him.
So, crucially here, Don, Cipollone and Philbin, they were Trump's designated reps to the National Archives when Trump left office. So presumably, they know a lot about maybe the chain of command of those classified documents, possibly why they were taken to Mar-a-Lago.
So, the fact that they spoke to the FBI earlier this year is a big development in this case, specifically as to this criminal investigation into the classified documents.
LEMON: And what do we know, Jessica, about the decision by -- the judge is supposed to make a decision on Thursday on whether he's going to unseal that affidavit?
SCHNEIDER: Right. So, there's a -- they are having a hearing Thursday at 1 p.m. in a federal court in Florida. So, we are still waiting to hear Trump's lawyers' positions on whether to make the affidavit public. They have actually had a filing due tomorrow morning.
The DOJ though has made their stance very clear on this. They are adamantly opposed to anything being released from the affidavit. You know, of course, the details on the affidavit are what allowed the FBI to secure that search warrant. And DOJ has laid it out. They said it could possibly derail their entire investigation, if anything is unsealed from the affidavit, because it could reveal, you know, specific investigative techniques. They also say that it can reveal highly sensitive information about witnesses.
So, you can expect that DOJ will be arguing forcibly against the unsealing of the affidavit in court on Thursday, especially because, Don, you know, we are seeing that this criminal investigation is still ongoing, still maybe ramping up, especially with the revelation today that they did interview Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin earlier this year.
LEMON: Kaitlan Collins now, President Joe Biden looking ahead to the midterms and trying to give his party a boost there, just notching a big legislative win today, signing a sweeping $750 billion health care plus tax and climate bill into law. What did we see there, Kaitlan?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is a big deal for the White House. You saw what President Obama referred to it as -- it's a lot different than what Democrats were talking about last year when they are debating this build back better proposal.
Of course, that is the one different as a sweeping change to the social safety net. It was going to doubles money in childcare, elder care, things of that nature. What President Biden signed in law today is a much more slimmed down version but it's still is a pretty substantial bill and it still has a lot of the core priorities that Democrats have been pursuing, most notably, hundreds of billions of dollars in investments for fighting climate change, energy reform.
They also want to work to lower health care cost, and by doing so, extending subsidies from the Affordable Care Act, letting Medicare negotiate drug prices for the first time, and they are paying for all of this by having a corporate minimum tax.
And so that is something that the White House has been pitching. It's now framed as the Inflation Reduction Act. Of course, there have been questions put to the White House today, put to Senator Joe Manchin about whether or not it's actually going to change much when it comes to what you are paying for gas, what you are paying for higher prices in the grocery store right now.
And Senator Manchin conceded today it is not going to change things immediately. He says he believes the Congressional Budget Office is wrong when they say it would not do much to change inflation this year. Maybe a little bit next year. He said they have been wrong before, and he does think it will make a difference.
But regardless, this is going to see something that you see Democrats and President Biden trying to push out there in front of voters ahead of those November midterm elections, which right now are expected to be fairly tough for Democrats.
LEMON: Kaitlan, if Democrats lose in midterms, Republicans are planning to turn the tables with all of these investigations, right? What does that say? There is a lot at stake.
COLLINS: They, Republicans in the House have promised to be very zealous when it comes to -- overzealous potentially when it comes to these investigations that they would like to pursue. They have said that they are going to -- that they have several topics they'd like to probe on, including you've seen Democrats or Republicans raising in recent days the search warrant that was executed on former President Trump's home, when it comes to those classified documents.
They know that there are other avenues they want to pursue, Hunter Biden, President Biden's son, the Afghanistan withdrawal. Several other topics as well. And the White House is well aware of that. That they know that if Republicans do take back the House with a substantive majority come November that there are going to be a series of investigations into every aspect, basically of the Biden administration.
And so, Don, they have been preparing for that. They have brought people on to the White House counsel's office. They have been meeting already in advance, paying close attention to the January 6 investigation and whatnot, because they know that if this does happen in November as the conventional wisdom stands right now, that that's what it's going to look like.
And so, that is something that they are bracing for, of course, as they are going to be trying to get out there and boost Democrats ahead of the midterm elections.
LEMON: Kaitlan Collins, Jessica Schneider, John king, the gang is all here. It is a big night. You don't want to miss it. So, make sure you all stick around. And we are standing by for what is expected to be a major speech from Liz Cheney tonight in Wyoming, as we watch the election results come in.
And we've got new developments on the criminal investigation of the federal records taken to Mar-a-Lago. Why the FBI interviewed two top White House lawyers, the most senior Trump officials interviewed so far.
LEMON: All right we have a projection to make in the Wyoming congressional race and that projection is Harriet Hageman has defeated Liz Cheney in Wyoming's GOP House primary.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in Jackson, Wyoming right now with the very latest. We are going to go to him. And we'll also get to our John King, and Chris Wallace is also going to join us in just a moment. But let's listen to Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, are you there?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Don, I am here. We are watching Liz Cheney on the stage tonight. She's just taking the stage a few moments ago. She'll be delivering a speech tonight that is described to me as a beginning, not an end. The beginning of what her aides say will be the battle for democracy, for the rule of law.
Just setting the scene here. Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, her mother, Lynne Cheney, have taken their seats. Of course, he was alongside her when she was voting earlier today, but you can see this picturesque scene here just outside Jackson on a cattle ranch. Should be delivering the speech that she, I'm told, has been writing all day, herself.
She's been knowing this defeat was coming. She's been preparing for this, but again, the theme of this is to turn the page forward. That's what's she'll try and do tonight. But of course, we do have to acknowledge a tough road in this Republican Party. Donald Trump, clearly, is still in control of the GOP, Don.
LEMON: Standby, Jeff. I want to get to Jamie Gangel. Jamie, you know, this is, Liz Cheney has been focused on, obviously, winning over the last couple weeks, but also, her main focus has been being the coach here, the vice chair of the January 6th committee. That ultimately hurt her in her own district.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: That's true. But as she herself said, she tweeted earlier today, proud to cast my ballot and the challenges we're facing require serious leaders who will abide by their oath and uphold the constitution no matter what. And as she is stepping up, I just want to say one thing, Don, before she speaks. I've spoken to Liz Cheney. She is not going anywhere quietly.
LEMON: Yes. Let's listen in to Liz Cheney. We'll be back be in just a moment. Standby, everyone. Let's listen.
CHENEY: Wonderful to see so many friends, family, especially wonderful to be here on the beautiful Mead Ranch. And thank you so much, Brad and Kate, for that wonderful introduction. We really are in God's country. And it's wonderful to welcome so many here.
I want to say, first of all, a special thanks to every member of team Cheney who is here in the audience.
CHENEY: And to tell you our work is far from over. Among the many, many blessings that we have as Americans, and as individuals and as human beings, the blessing of family is surely the most important. And so I want to thank all my family and pay a special tribute to those who are here with us tonight. My mom and dad, Dick and Lynne Cheney.
CHENEY: And my husband, Phil.
CHENEY: And four of our five kids are here. Katie and Gracie and Philip and Richard are all here tonight.
CHENEY: And Elizabeth is starting law school today, so we'll have another generation carrying on dedication to the Constitution and to our freedom.
CHENEY: A little over a year ago, I received a note from a gold star father. He said to me standing up for truth honors all who gave all. And I have thought of his words every single day since then. I've thought of them because they are a reminder of how we must always conduct ourselves.
We must conduct ourselves in a way that is worthy of the men and women who wear the uniform of this nation. And in particular, of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. This --
CHENEY: This is not a game. Every one of us must be committed to the eternal defense of this miraculous experiment called America. And at the heart of our Democratic process are elections. They are the foundational principle of our Constitution.
Two years ago, I won this primary with 73 percent of the votes. I could easily have done the same again. The path was clear. But it would've required that I go along with President Trump's lie about the 2020 election. It would've required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our Democratic system and attacked the foundations of our republic. That was a path I could not and would not take. (APPLAUSE)
CHENEY: No, no House seat, no office in this land is more important than the principles that we are all sworn to protect. And I well understood the political consequences of abiding by my duty. Our republic relies upon the goodwill of all candidates for office to accept honorably the outcome of elections.
And tonight, Harriet Hageman has received the most votes in this primary. She won. I called her to concede the race. This primary election is over. But now, the real work begins.
CHENEY: The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most important election of all. Lincoln ultimately prevailed. He saved our union, and he defined our obligation as Americans for all of history.
Speaking at Gettysburg of the great task remaining before us, Lincoln said that we hear highly resolve, that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom. And the government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.
As we meet here tonight, that remains our greatest and most important task. Most of world history is a story of violent conflict, of servitude and suffering. Most people in most places have not lived in freedom. Our American freedom is a providential departure from history. We are the exception. We have been given the gift of freedom by God, and our founding fathers.
It has been said that the long arc of history bends toward justice and freedom. That's true, but only if we make it bend. Today, our highest duty is to bend the arc of history to preserve our nation and its blessings. To ensure that freedom will not perish. To protect the very foundations of this constitutional republic.
Never in our nation's 246 years have we seen what we saw on January 6th. Like so many Americans, I assumed that the violence and the chaos of that day would have prompted a united response. A recognition that this was a line that must never be crossed. A tragic chapter in nation's history to be studied by historians to ensure that it can never happen again.
But instead, major elements of my party still vehemently defend those who caused it. At the heart of the attack on January 6th is a willingness to embrace dangerous conspiracies that attack the very core premise of our nation. That lawful elections reviewed by the courts when necessary and certified by the states and Electoral College determine who serves as president.
If we do not condemn the conspiracies and the lies, if we do not hold those responsible to account, we will be excusing this conduct. And it will become a feature of elections. America will never be the same. Today, as we meet here, there are Republican candidates for governor
who deny the outcomes of the 2020 election, and who may refuse to certify future elections if they oppose the results. We have candidates for secretary of state who may refused to report the actual results of the popular vote in future elections. And we have candidates for Congress, including here in Wyoming, who refused to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the 2020 election and suggested states decertify the results.
Our nation is barreling once again towards crisis, lawlessness, and violence. No American should support election deniers for any position of genuine responsibility where there are refusal to follow the rule of law will corrupt our future.
CHENEY: Our nation is young in the history of mankind, and yet where the oldest democracy in the world. Our survival is not guaranteed. History has shown us over and over again how poisonous lies destroy free nations.
Over the last several months in the January 6th hearings, the American people have watched dozens of Republicans, including the most senior officials working for President Trump in the White House, the Justice Department, and on his campaign, people who served President Trump loyally, testify that they all told him the election was not stolen or rigged, and there was no massive fraud.
That's why President Trump and others invent excuses, pretexts for people not to watch the hearings at all. But no citizen of this republic is a bystander. All of us have an obligation to understand what actually happened. We cannot abandon the truth and remain a free nation.
To believe Donald Trump's election lies, you must believe that dozens of federal and state courts who ruled against him, including many judges he appointed, were all corrupted and biased. That all manner of crazy conspiracy theories stole our election from us. And that Donald Trump actually remains president today.
As of last week, you must also believe that 30 career FBI agents who have spent their lives working to serve our country abandoned their honor and their oaths and went to Mar-a-Lago not to perform a lawful search or address a national security threat, but instead with a secret plan to plant fake, incriminating documents in the boxes they seized.
This is yet another insidious lie. Donald Trump knows that voicing these conspiracies will provoke violence and threats of violence. This happened on January 6th, and it's now happening again. It is entirely foreseeable that the violence will escalate further. Yet, he and others continue purposely to feed the danger.
Today, our federal law enforcement is being threatened. A federal judge is being threatened. Fresh threats of violence are rising everywhere. And despite knowing all of this, Donald Trump recently released the names of the FBI agents involved in the search. That was purposeful and malicious. No patriotic American should excuse these threats or be intimidated by them.
Our great nation must not be ruled by a mob provoked over social media.
CHENEY: Our duty as citizens of this republic is not only to defend the freedom that's been handed down to us. We also have an obligation to learn from the actions of those who came before. To know the stories of grit and perseverance of the brave men and women who built and serve this union. In the lives of these great Americans, we find inspiration and purpose.
In May of 1864, after years of war, in a string of reluctant union generals, Ulysses S. Grant met General Lee's forces at the Battle of the Wilderness. In two days of heavy fighting, the union suffered over 10,000 casualties. At the end of that battle, General Grant faced a choice. Most assumed he would do what previous union generals had done and retreat.
On the evening of May 7th, Grant began to move. As the fires of the battle still smoldered, Grant rode to the head of the column, he rode to the inner section of Brock Road and Orange Plank Road, and there, as the man of his army watched and waited, instead of turning north back towards Washington and safety, Grant turned his horse south towards Richmond in the heart of Lee's army -- refusing to retreat, he pressed on to victory.
Lincoln and Grant and all who fought in our nation's tragic Civil War, including my own great, great-grandfathers, saved our union. Their courage saved freedom.
And if we listen closely, they're speaking to us down the generations. We must not idly squander what so many have fought and died for. America has meant so much to so many because we are the best hope of freedom on earth.
Last week in Laramie, a gentleman came up to me with tears in his eyes. I'm not an American, he said, but my children are. I grew up in Brazil. I know how fragile freedom is, and we must not lose it here. A few days ago here in Jackson, a woman told me that her grandparents had survived Auschwitz. They found refuge in America. She said she was afraid that she had nowhere to go if freedom died here.
Ladies and gentlemen, freedom must not, cannot and will not die here.
CHENEY: We must be very clear eyed about the threat we face and about what is required to defeat it. I have said since January 6 that I will do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office, and I mean it.
CHENEY: This is a fight for all of us together. I'm a conservative Republican. I believe deeply in the principles and the ideals on which my party was founded. I love its history, and I love what our party has stood for, but I love my country more.
CHENEY: So, I ask you tonight to join me, as we leave here, let us resolve that we will stand together. Republicans, Democrats and independents against those who would destroy our republic. They are angry, and they are determined, but they have not seen anything like the power of Americans united in defense of our Constitution and committed to the cause of freedom. There is no greater power on this earth. And with God's help, we will prevail.
Thank you, all. God bless you. God bless Wyoming. God bless the United States of America. Thank you, guys. Thank you.
LEMON: Liz Cheney in Jackson, Wyoming, conceding to Harriet Hageman in her primary loss there. Called very early and giving a really, I would call it a bottom burner of a speech, chastising members of her party, saying that she will do everything in her power not to allow Donald anywhere near the Oval Office again. And getting applause from those in the crowd. Obviously, it was a crowd of supporters there in Jackson, Wyoming.
I want to bring in now CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, CNN senior political analyst Nia-Malika Henderson, Chris Wallace, and also host of -- Chris is the host of CNN's Who's Talking to Chris Wallace. And CNN political director David Chalian, CNN's special correspondent Jamie Gangel also here with me.
A lot of folks because it is a big night, right, and there's a lot going on. First though, to Jamie Gangel. Jamie, we were speaking and as you are giving your answer, Liz Cheney got up to speak tonight.
LEMON: But what did you think? I mean, she did not hold back.
GANGEL: She did not. And I don't think we, you know, should be surprised. I thought that one of the most powerful things she said, Don, was when she said that she talked about the two years ago that she won with a 73 percent of the vote, and she said that she could have done that again. And then she said, quote, "but it would have required that I go along with President Trump's lie about the 2020 election. It would have required I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our Democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic." Look, you know, Don, Liz Cheney has made it clear since she voted for -- to impeach Donald Trump and with her work as the vice chair of the January 6 committee that she sees Donald Trump as a clear and present danger, that she believes democracy is in peril and she is known for quite some time that she was likely to lose tonight, but that fighting for that democracy was more important than keeping her seat in Congress, Don.
LEMON: She said no House seats or office is that important.
LEMON: She also said that she called Harriet Hageman and she congratulated her on the win. And she said now the real work begins.
You know, Dana, let me bring in Dana Bash here. Dana, are you surprised that she went so hard on the speech?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I'm not. Well, there is one bit I was surprised about, which I will tell you in a second. But I just wanted to say --
BASH: Exactly, I think we both go, OK, she is going to go there too.
BASH: But before we get to that, what was so -- I mean, how many concession speeches have we listened to over the years from politicians?
BASH: This was not a -- this was a concession speech, but it was an opening gambit campaign speech all in one. She's not running for anything in particular yet, maybe not ever. I mean, she might run for president in the Republican primary process, but even if she doesn't, this campaign that she is launching is not about one for office, necessarily.
It's a campaign very explicitly, very intentionally to defeat Donald Trump, Trumpism and everything about it -- about it because she says it is such -- a will make the republic crumble.
On Mar-a-Lago, yes, we've heard her talk about January 6, obviously, so many times. And the whole the thrust of her criticism of Donald Trump has been in and around stealing the election. This is different. This is a new avenue of criticism that she didn't have to go there.
BASH: At all. She's got enough from January 6, and she did.
LEMON: She did not, but when she brought up Lincoln, she said Lincoln was defeat -- was defeated in the House and the Senate before and went on to win the ultimate seat in the land. I certainly thought, you know, she's saying --
LEMON: -- maybe, you know, there is a chance.
BASH: Or maybe she's going to be a general because she talked about Grant, too.
LEMON: Yes. Were you surprised by her speech? Anything in her speech? Because we were -- we were frantically taking notes here. And I just stopped, because there was so much, she was saying. I mean, she really went in.
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: What struck me was the reference to Lincoln and the reference to Grant --
WALLACE: -- and the comparison to the Civil War, and I think she was very explicitly saying that justice our union was in jeopardy, life or death jeopardy back in 1860's, that the union is in jeopardy today. And that's a pretty stark way. She said that we talk about a Civil War that saved our union, --
WALLACE: -- and that is the threat that we face today, that what we are facing now is just a serious as what went on in the great Civil War. And obviously, at the end, she didn't talk about a specific role, but she called on Americans to join her and stand together against those who would destroy our country.
And look, I suspect she is not being coy, I don't think she knows what form that's going to take, whether it's going to be a presidential campaign or some kind of a citizen's movement, like an anti-war movement. In this case, an anti-Trump movement.
The other thing I would say, is in the Civil War, she declared war on Donald Trump and Donald Trump's Republican Party, and she specifically called on Americans not to vote for the dozens of election deniers who have won Republican nominations for the governorship or the secretary of state roles in various states, which would have a traumatic role in 2024 in whether or not elections are certified or not.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think the -- I'm sorry, I think Civil War (Inaudible) is sort of why she brought up Mar-a-Lago. I think she wanted to tie, it sounded like, in the speech, Donald Trump releasing the names of FBI agents and then the violence or the threats warnings that have been put out since the Mar-a-Lago search and seizure of his property.
I think she wanted to tie in the real violence we've seen and the threats of violence that we have heard about from the government to this whole notion of this brewing potential Civil War. I do think though, there's -- she was a truth teller tonight. Like that's the other thing that Liz Cheney has on her side.
She has the truth. She is the truth about the 2020 election. So, when she cites these Republican nominees who won their primaries, who deny the truth about the 2020 election, she has that on her side. And I think she leaned in to sort of being a truth teller tonight. And you said she congratulated Harriet Hageman. I didn't -- maybe I missed it.
LEMON: She just said I called her.
CHALIAN: I didn't hear her congratulations actually.
LEMON: She said I called.
CHALIAN: What I heard was, I called her.
LEMON: I called her.
CHALIAN: She won.
LEMON: She won. Right.
CHALIAN: I called her to concede the primary is over. There were no congratulations. And in fact, later, after she went through the litany of gubernatorial candidates or whatever, she also noted quite clearly there were some Republicans in the state of Wyoming, she was referring to Harriet Hageman, who are bought into the election lie that Donald Trump talks about the 2020 election, as well, and how dangerous that is.
And then the final thing I would just add is, she also has thought, sort of, it was a call to arms of citizenship. This whole notion of that no American citizen can be a bystander to this right now. That every American citizen is needed to help bend the arc towards justice in this moment, I thought, you know, that is part of her appeal that is crossing party lines right now.
LEMON: You are right about that. Reflectively, we're also see her saying, called the opponent and congratulated them. And I noted she did not congratulate her. She just said I called her tonight, she did win, saying we need to accept --
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
LEMON: -- the results of an election. And I need to --
(CROSSTALK) BASH: It's not happening.
LEMON: Right. I need to say that in front.
HENDERSON: That's not nothing in the Republican Party.
HENDERSON: That's not nothing given what Trump had done, given what Harriet Hageman has done as well in denying the results of a free and fair election. Liz Cheney is telling Americans that our democracy is fragile. Right? If you think about American democracy, it's really only about 60 years old, right, where everyone could actually vote.
So, she is calling on Americans saying listen, this is a five-alarm are you going to gather and put this fire out that is being set by Donald Trump, that is being fueled by his allies. And listen, she is lonely in her party, and, in some ways, she is sort of lonely in the American sort of political space.
There aren't a lot of people who are sounding this alarm in the way that she is doing at great risk. Obviously, we saw what happened tonight, she lost because she has been willing to confront Donald Trump over and over again. She will continue to do it.
Will she gain any traction within her own party beyond what she has now? And will see kind of wake Americans up to what she sees as a real crisis for the country?
LEMON: History has shown us how poisonous lies have ruined nations. Trump and his allies she said have invented pretext to get people not to watch the hearings and to believe his lies. And you have to believe Donald Trump's lies and all the judges and courts and everyone that they are all bias if you believe the election lies or if you believe what Trump and his allies are selling.
WALLACE: You know what struck me was that this was a woman totally at peace with herself and with the decisions that she made. As was pointed out, she said I won 70 percent two years in the primary, I could have done it again.
This is a, you know, she's given up a lot. And in a world where we've seen a lot of politicians who shade things or flatly deny things that they privately believe for their own personal gain, she has gone in a very different direction and thrown away a very promising career in the Republican Party because of her strong feelings about Donald Trump. And there wasn't an ounce, not a scintilla of doubt or hesitation about it. It was, I chose to go down this path, I understood what this is going to cost me and full speed ahead.
LEMON: What you have to understand about Liz Cheney, and especially, you know, there are a lot of Democrats and a lot of liberals who are, you know, loving Liz Cheney right now, but Liz Cheney said, I am a conservative Republican. BASH: Very conservative.
LEMON: I love the Republican Party, but I love my country more than I love any party. And what they have to understand in this moment, she is right, we all have to stand up for our democracy, including journalists, including everyone. We have to tell the truth. And we have to stand up to the lies of the former president who are going to attack Liz Cheney and journalists and American citizens who, you know, may -- don't believe in his lies. That is the truth. She is a truth teller.
BASH: Yes. And so much of this blurred. So much of the reporting from Jeff Zeleny and others out in Wyoming talking to voters, saying she is too far to the left. She is too far to the left.
LEMON: She's not left.
BASH: It's not, it's not left. It's not about the traditional lines, party lines, left and right are not relevant here. They are totally not relevant here. They are relevant where we're talking about the kind of legislation that just passed in Congress or about basic should we have low taxes or bigger government.
Those are conversation and really important policy debates that still go on. That's not what this is about. This is about whether or not, from in her words, freedom will die here, make sure that freedom will not die here. She fundamentally believes and she says it over and over that if Donald Trump and Trumpism is not stop, that's what will happen.
LEMON: I want to talk to you when we come back, I want to talk to you guys about what the Cheney family and the Cheney name means in Wyoming. I've heard reports of people who are casting their vote for Harriet Hageman who actually said one man cried on camera because he cast his vote against Liz Cheney and that was the first time that he had cast his vote against a Cheney, probably in his history as an adult voter.
Let's stick around, everyone. Liz Cheney loses in Wyoming, the GOP primary there. The Trump backed Harriet Hageman and drops a barn burner of the speech, saying now the real work begins. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Liz Cheney losing the Wyoming GOP primary tonight, but declaring our work is far from over. Those are her words.
Back with Dana Bash, Nia-Malika Henderson, Chris Wallace, David Chalian, and Jamie Gangel. Jamie, what is her next move? I mean, we talked about, you know, she talked about Grant, she talked about Lincoln, that's the part where I said, well, maybe she's hinting at something, especially when she said Lincoln defeated -- was defeated in the House and the Senate before winning the ultimate seat in the land. But maybe I'm reading too much into that.
GANGEL: I don't think you are, Don. Look, she did not announce that she's running for the White House tonight, but she certainly left the door open. And what you just quoted there says that.
I think that Liz Cheney has made a decision that as she said she's going to do whatever it takes to keep Donald Trump from ever being president again.
So, what does that look like? Does she run as a Republican? Is there a base for a Liz Cheney Republican in primaries today? Does she run as an independent? I think these are all decisions that, you know, as David Chalian said, they come down the route. But is the door open? Absolutely.
I just want to mention one other thing. There's a line in her speech where she said that after January 6th, she's like so many Americans -- I assumed that the violence and the chaos of that day would've prompted a united response, a recognition this was a line that might never be crossed.
I've spoken to her over this period of time. And I remember at the beginning after the impeachment of Donald Trump when she started to run for office, she really believed that she could almost go person to person, voter to voter in Wyoming and convince them that this was about the rule of law, about democracy, about the Constitution, about saving the country.
She very quickly realized that Wyoming was Donald Trump country. And that no matter what she did, there were minds that wouldn't be changed. So, I think she is known for a long time that this night was coming and she has been thinking about the next step for many months now.
LEMON: David Chalian, if she does decide to run in 2024, I mean, where does she, you heard of Hilary Rosen last night on CNN, Democratic strategist saying Hilary -- Hilary Rosen saying that Liz Cheney will find herself an alien in -- there's not a party that will accept her.
LEMON: A Democratic or Democratic or Republican Party.
CHALIAN: Right. When Jamie just said that, you know, Liz Cheney learned quickly that Wyoming is Trump country. Another way to say that is Liz Cheney has learned quickly that the Republican Party is Trump country.
CHALIAN: I mean, that, that is the reality of what we see here. And by the way, notice what Harriet Hageman -- Hageman said tonight in her victory speech and what the RNC, the Republican National Committee put out in their statement. The way that they're painting this is, this is what happens when you don't pay attention to what your constituents want you to focus on.
So, they're not, they're -- they're trying to just paint Liz Cheney as this aberration who chose to not focus on the things that are most important to her constituents, that she got out of step with her constituents. I think that very same notion is what poses a problematic path to her in a presidential nominating race.
I mean, I think that the Republican primary electorate that exists right now, everything we know about it would suggest that there's not a ton of market share there for Liz Cheney to actually be able to have a path to the nomination given her current mission to be everything anti-Donald Trump.
LEMON: We know the importance of January 6th, but is there some truth to what the Republican National Committee saying and Harriet Hageman that she -- that she basically made herself irrelevant to the voters of Wyoming.
I was talking about a report that I heard on NPR. This older gentleman started crying and saying, this is the first time I, you know, voted against a Cheney because she's made herself, she's not useful to the voters of Wyoming. And he was sad about it. He voted for Harriet Hageman but he voted for her, you know, grudgingly. He didn't want to do it.
CHALIAN: Yes. Jeff Zeleny in his reports throughout the last week have included a lot of voters that have said she just started focusing on exclusively on the January 6th issue. And that is not my top of -- that's not on top of my priority list.
LEMON: Yes. How much damage can she do to Trump at this point? I mean, she's not -- she won't be in office anymore, which I mean, can she --
WALLACE: Well, she's going to have -- she's going to have a big platform until election day because she's still going to be the vice chair and really, the leading voice of the January 6th committee. And we know they are going to have hearings again in the fall, so she can -- she can continue to play a role.
But out of office, I was just thinking about this. What's the platform? Sure, she can campaign against Trump, but Lord knows. There are plenty of other people are campaigning against Trump. It, you know, the -- someone mentioned the idea of her running as an independent, that would be disastrous. She runs as an independent she only helps Trump because there's a Democrat who's getting people who don't like Trump and she's getting people who don't like Trump. Guess what? That helps Trump.
If she runs in the Republican primaries, that only makes it a more fractionated field. And if you've got the more candidates, you are getting little slices of the pie leaves the fairly big slice that Donald Trump would have as a winning --
LEMON: Yes --
WALLACE: -- she's a holiday.
LEMON: She's a woman on an island right now.
HENDERSON: She is. She is. I mean, I think overall this was a very good night for Donald Trump. A very good night for Trumpism. He is sending a message to anyone who is in office that if you cross me, your career in politics in the and the Republican Party is over.
I think he's like eight and two in terms of the people who voted to impeach him. Eight, either retired or lost to, or have won and we'll see if they go on to win in November. So, he is doing quite well. This is what he wanted to do. He wanted to exact his revenge against folks like Liz Cheney. He was able to do that.
She obviously is taking her own pound of flesh as well with the January 6th committee. But this was a good night for Donald Trump and all of his allies.
LEMON: What does this race say about the Republican Party, Dana?
BASH: Well, I mean, it says what Nia just said, which is that the Republican Party, I mean, not that we didn't know this before, but this is one more data point, a big data point. When you see that a Cheney lost so big in Wyoming and it is Trump's party.
I mean, that's just what it says. And it said it for a long time. But I do think when we're looking at like, what's next and where does she take this from here, I think that we need to think about the term campaign in a non-traditional way, because we think about campaign as I'm running for office or, you know, I want this to happen. I want this for myself.
And I'm not saying that she's not, you know, she is a politician and she wants to have a say in public discourse. But she also is a very famous person who will use her megaphone and her platform to keep saying the kind of thing that she said, and she will get attention. She will get a lot of attention.
LEMON: So, we'll see. And there is there isn't a network who will turn her down if she --
LEMON: -- right, if she offers or she wants to come on, so she'll be able to discuss all of it.
LEMON: Thank you all. What a night. I mean, I, we were planning on another show. We didn't think that would -- this would be projected for a while, but you know, who knows?
HENDERSON: Quick defeat.
LEMON: Quick defeat. Thank you, all. It is election night in America, and we're going to go to John King at the magic wall. That is next.