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Don Lemon Tonight

CNN Projects Rep. Liz Cheney Loses Wyoming GOP Primary; Has Trump Tightened His Stranglehold On The GOP?; Biden Signs Landmark Climate, Health Care, Tax Bill Into Law; Drought Forces Massive Cuts In Water Consumption In Southwest U.S.; Liz Cheney Vows To Carry On Fight Against Trump. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 16, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: All right, this is the big news tonight, CNN projects that vocal critic, Trump critic Liz Cheney has lost Wyoming's GOP primary.

We'll go straight to CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He's in Wyoming for us. Also, John King at the magic wall. Let's go to John first as a matter of fact. John, Liz Cheney losing her primary tonight. What are the numbers showing?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're showing, Don, you look at the numbers right here, not quite 2 to 1, but Harriet Hageman, the Trump-backed challenger to Liz Cheney, is winning and winning convincingly, 24,511 votes lead right now or about 57% of the reporting. You see 62 to 33 or 62 to 34, if you want to round that up for Liz Cheney. And you can see on the map here, mostly filling in with Harriet Hageman's color, the salmon color, which is what we give to Trump-endorsed candidates.

So, I want to make one key point, Don. Education is increasingly the biggest dividing line in American politics. And the two counties where Liz Cheney is leading, Albany County down here, it is the highest percentage of college graduates in the state of Wyoming, right here in this county, the second highest percentage of college graduates in the state of Wyoming right here, Teton County, the other county where Liz Cheney is winning.

Now, we know in Teton County, there was a concerted effort to get Democrats and independents to register as Republicans for this primary. You can do that in advance. You can also do it today on primary day. Many might switch back.

But you see an effort there in these two counties. Higher education, college-educated voters tend to have a lesser view of Donald Trump, if you will. But -- so, maybe modest success for Liz Cheney in those counties, but overwhelmingly, Harriet Hageman most likely will win easy in November. She will be the next congresswoman and Liz Cheney moves on to, as she discussed tonight, the next chapter.

LEMON: And these are the counties that Joe Biden won?

KING: Yes, they are. If you go back in time to look at 2020, there are also the two counties Joe Biden won. So, they are the least conservative, in a very conservative state if you want to put it that way. Again, they tend to be higher educated. They are the number one and number two in terms of percentage of resident voters who have college degrees.

And number three, Don, there was an effort by Democrats and independents, organized efforts by people in different groups, to say switch your registration, vote for Liz Cheney, take a principled stand. Clearly, if you come back to the 2022 numbers now and look at it, it wasn't enough. So, it might be a small minor moral victory within the bigger loss for Liz Cheney but she is losing and losing quite convincingly.

LEMON: Jeff Zeleny, Cheney tonight saying -- quote -- "Our work is far from over." Tell us more about what we heard.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, we did hear about the next chapter ahead. She talked just briefly about her election tonight, and she said she called her opponent, Harriet Hageman, and she said she did indeed win, but used that as a metaphor about the importance of free and fair elections and use that really not to talk anything about the race or why she lost but about what the next chapters are.

And Don, I'm going to turn around behind me. You can see Congressman Cheney is shaking the final hands here. She has been talking to every single supporter who turned out to this ranch outside of Jackson, who are here as she called for Republicans and independents and Democrats to join together to support and defend democracy.

This speech, I thought, was interesting in the sense it was so infused with history. She is a student of history. She is a historian, her mother and father are as well, and she talked about the fragility of this democracy and talked quite squarely about Donald Trump.

Perhaps one the most pointed moments in the speech, she said -- she reminded people that she won by 73% of the vote, the primary, just two years ago. She said she could've done that again had she gone down the path of election denialism. She said that is not a path that she would ever be comfortable going down.


So, I think when I've been talking to supporters here in the crowd, they are wondering what her next step is going to be. They are wondering if she will directly challenge Donald Trump should he run for president. She did not give any more than a hit to that, but they do know that she will stay involved.

One thing I can also say, she is now going to be turning her work back to the January 6 Committee. Those hearings are going to be starting in September. She has a little bit of time to figure the next steps, but I'm told she will be setting up likely a super PAC to support other Republican candidates and will be setting up, you know, some other vehicles where she can challenge the former president.

And again, as you can see, she is taking pictures with staff members. A lot of hugging, families. What this is really the end of the Cheney legacy here, the arc of her father being a congressman. He was here for the speech tonight. And she, of course, will be leaving after three terms in the U.S. House. Certainly not how she wanted to leave but in some respects on her own terms looking forward. Don?

LEMON: She's so close there, Jeff. I mean, if you could just get her to come over to a microphone, we would gladly --


LEMON: -- we would gladly take her live here on CNN.

ZELENY: We've asked and we've tried but -- we sure would -- I've certainly given her that opportunity to talk to you, Don, but as you can see now, she is actually -- I'll turn to the side -- she is posing for a group photo with team Cheney members.

And many of them have shirts that say "fearless." That is one word you heard over and over again, the word "fearless." We are just at a nightfall here on the beautiful Wyoming prairie. A lot of mosquitoes and bugs in the air. But these are the group of people who are going to carry her to her next chapter should she have one, whatever that is, Don.


LEMON: All right. Wear your bug spray. Don't get bit. We will take her if she does come over. Thank you, John. Thank you, Jeff. I appreciate it.

ZELENY: I'll let you know.

LEMON: I want to bring in CNN senior political analyst David Gergen who was an advisor to President Nixon -- presidents, I should say, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. Also, Bill Kristol is here, the director of Defending Democracy Together. He's also the editor-at- large at "The Bulwark."

So happy to have both of you on, gentlemen. Thank you so much. Bill, I want you to listen to some of what Liz Cheney said tonight and then we will talk. Here it is.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Two years ago, I won this primary with 73% of the votes. I could easily have done the same again. The path was clear. But it would have required that I go along with President Trump's lie about the 2020 election. It would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic. That was a path I could not and would not take.


LEMON: Bill, she knows why she lost, but this is now her mission.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE FOR THE BULWARK, EDITOR OF DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: Yeah, it is. And let me say, Don, if Jeff can get Liz to come on, I will yield my time. You can bump me and David and let Liz speak with him because she has a lot to say, I think.

I mean, she almost understated the case. Don't you think? It was not just that she sorts of wouldn't go along with Trump, she decided she had to play a key role. She accepted the appointments to the committee. She accepted playing a key role on the committee, the key role on the committee.

I mean bringing the truth to light about January 6th, and above all, exposing Trump's lies and exposing this man who was unfit for the presidency, as she thinks, and tried to put the party on the spot and to come to grips with the fact that he is out of the presidency. That's been her mission for the last year, year and a half. It's her mission going forward.

So, it was a choice that she made. She knew it would risk a reelection. She took the choice -- she made the choice, and I think she made it without any second-guessing of herself or really even any regret. I think she, when she says she thinks what she has been doing on the committee is more important than winning the House seat, and when she advised that going forward, this is a setback, the struggle continues, I think she very much believes that.

LEMON: Another moment from Cheney. Let's listen.


CHENEY: Donald Trump knows that voicing these conspiracies will provoke violence and threats of violence. This happened on January 6th, and it is 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 these, 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.


LEMON: So, David, the question is -- it's a stark warning, right? She's actually right about that, what should happen. But is the GOP deaf to her message?


DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN AND CLINTON: Not the way to say it, Don, but I think tonight should be a celebration by principal conservatives like Bill Kristol, that at long last, we have someone who is, you know, can speak to the country, command a national microphone, and also take the case to the country for moderate, mainstream conservatives to take the future away from Donald Trump and the minions around him.

So, I think in that sense, she has paid a price as have many others who have voted to impeach Trump. I think now, if I'm not mistaken, Bill can correct me, I think there were 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump along the way, and eight now, I think we're up to eight, will not be back in the next Congress. Several of them are tired of having to put up with this. Others just got beat in the primaries like Liz Cheney. That is a remarkable number, but I think it is for a traffic cause.

LEMON: Yeah. And you're right about the numbers. But listen, the former president, obviously gloating about her defeat tonight. Bill, you said Cheney's recent voting has been more for what she believes and less about what Wyoming voters want like gun control, for example. Listen to whet tonight's winner, Harriet Hageman, had to say about that.


HARRIET HAGEMAN, WYOMING CONGRESSIONAL NOMINEE: Wyoming has spoken on behalf of everyone who is concerned that the game is becoming more and more rigged against them. And what Wyoming has shown today is that while it may not be easy, we can dislodge entrenched politicians who believe they have risen above the people they are supposed to represent and serve.



LEMON: So, Bill, Hageman making a point that they're getting rid of -- quote, unquote -- "elites who don't represent Wyoming voters." Her message resonated?

KRISTOL: Yes, apparently. I mean, I think it certainly is Donald Trump's message, let's be honest, and she is an instrument for delivering a message of loyalty to Donald Trump. It is not as if Hageman made a big deal of whatever minor differences she has with Liz Cheney over policy or criticize Liz Cheney for substantive reasons.

It was the disloyalty to Trump and even more than just not going along with Trump. As I said, taking him on frontally and challenging him and challenging the big lie. And Hageman not only refusing to challenge the big lie, she embraced the big lie.

So, that's where we are. I mean, Wyoming has elected a lot of good people, honestly, over the years. And we've seen this party go to the one -- for a candidate whose entire reason for running -- why did she challenge Liz Cheney? She chaired Liz Cheney's campaign, didn't she, in 2016 or in 2018?

Her entire reason for running was that Liz Cheney was taking on Trump's big lie. And Harriet Hageman was embracing it, and Hagemen won two to one.

LEMON: But Harriet Hageman, wasn't she a very vocal Trump critic who turned Trump supporter, you know, and now here she is?

KRISTOL: Yeah. I think in 2016 when we were doing some last minute, last-ditch efforts to prevent Trump, the Republican National Convention, I even spoke with other members. I don't remember, it was a blur, but there is a whole bunch of people scattered around the country trying to think of ways to detour Trump from the republican nomination.

And in a way, it is a very good -- what's the term for this, you know, a symbol of where the party is and she is defeating Liz Cheney who is telling the truth by embracing Trumps lies.

LEMON: And David, Liz Cheney worked in government and within the GOP long before she ran for office. She was by her father's side when he was VP. She worked in the State Department on multiple republican campaigns. She even hosted shows on Fox. But is there a future for her, you know, for her fight in the current Republican Party?

GERGEN: Oh, yes. Well, first of all, I think there is going to be a huge market for her to write a memoir of what happened. I think she's going to be in demand to go around the country and speak. Financially, she will be extremely well off in that sense.

I think, you know, the president is going to give her an opening to say her piece because she does represent his voice that becomes so important, and he's representative of a much larger voice.

Don, you know, she is -- very, very unlikely she'll be the nominee of the party, extremely unlikely, but she can cause a lot of leakage from the Trump ship. You know, her effort, if she runs to the left of Trump and it's an early primary, then you find someone like DeSantis in Florida running from the right of Trump, he could be -- that guy could cause serious problems for him.

Liz Cheney is a formidable political force unto herself at least and will be for the next short while. We don't know how long it will last, how long she can command that platform. But for the moment, she is going to be very sought after.

LEMON: Yeah. Bill, let us talk about -- we're talking about Wyoming but there is also Alaska. You know, these are really -- we are talking about some marquee names tonight, Cheney, Palin, Trump.


I mean, you can trace the evolution of the GOP throughout the last few decades through these people and what they stand for.

KRISTOL: Yeah, it's funny, two small states, Wyoming and Alaska, two important in their own right and symbolically important primaries. Maybe three, because in Alaska, you've also got Murkowski. It won't be resolved tonight. Then she'll move on to the final ballot in November. And Palin, in this commercial special election but also the primary, gets for the November election for the House seat in Alaska.

So, two states that have one House seat. Two small states with, as you say, kind of symbolic races. We know in Alaska, we won't know the results for a while. And Murkowski will certainly move on to the final -- to the finals in November. But it is -- yeah, it is famous names and families that are well established in those states.

But, look, I think -- just one point with what David was saying, Liz Cheney is very unlikely to be the Republican nominee next time, and it will be interesting to see what happens. I think she may well try to run.

But, you know, will the Republican Party let her run? What if Ronna McDaniel, the Republican chairman, says you have to pledge to support the Republican nominee, whoever he or she is, to be on the ballot or to be on the debate stage? I don't know. That would probably get majority support at this point in the Republican National Committee. Liz Cheney will not do that. She will not support Donald Trump in 2024.

Will they try to just keep her off the ballot? Would she then say, well, this is really illegitimate, this is not consistent with American principles and practices, I have to run as an independent or maybe I would even swallow hard and support a Democrat? I think it's a very fluid moment.

I think David is right. Liz Cheney has a standing, a status that is so unusual for a House member, right? I mean, apart from speakers, apart from Gingrich, Pelosi, people like that, she must be the most prominent, the most central backbench member of the House of Representatives in our memory, in our lifetime, don't you think?

And so, she really does -- what she decides to do and how it all plays out, I think she will be -- she's a central figure, I'll put it that way, in American politics for the next couple of years at least.

LEMON: Bill, David, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

In the middle of the primaries tonight, we also got new revelations from the investigations swirling around the former president and his allies. But does a legal cloud hanging over him actually tighten his stranglehold on the GOP? We will discuss.




LEMON: All right, it's election night, but we also have some other news report. The FBI interviewed two key Trump White House insiders as part of the investigation into those classified documents at Mar-a- Lago.

Former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy, Patrick Philbin, both speaking to investigators earlier this year. And on Thursday, the federal judge who approved the Mar-a-Lago search warrant will hold a hearing on whether to unseal the affidavit, the document that lays out what information investigators used to justify the search.

Joining me now to discuss, CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig, as well as CNN contributor and former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean and CNN legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Jennifer Rodgers. All very accomplished minds. Thank you. And people, I appreciate you joining us. Good evening to all of you.

John, what would Pat Cipollone and Philbin know about these Mar-a-Lago documents as White House lawyers? What would they know?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, they initially were the contact points for the archives and making some of the decisions about what should and should not go. They later got removed from that post as, I think, the things of January 6th unraveled and they were all hands-on deck there.

But they know apparently a lot, and according to the reporting, they were able to tell the archives that, no, Trump did not want to cooperate, no, he believed these documents were his. And apparently, Philbin tried to help facilitate getting that information to actually go to the archives.

So, they know a little bit. They don't know all the details. I don't think they were involved in packing and shipping, but they certainly have the big picture.

LEMON: What would the FBI be asking them?

DEAN: Well, they would want to know what was the process to sort out what was classified or not. How did documents get in the shipment that was going to and why was it going to Mar-a-Lago? They were supposed to be packing up stuff to go to the archives and this was going in the wrong direction. So, I'm sure, they have many questions.

LEMON: Yeah. Elie, listen, I hate to ask this question but I will because, you know, the former president and his attorneys or representatives have been saying, well, he had a standing order about declassifying everything that he sent to Mar-a-Lago. Will they ask about that? Because that just seems ludicrous. It doesn't -- that's not even part of the declassifying process, what they are alleging.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Logically, I think you would want to ask anyone who is in and around the White House. And there is really sort of two issues here when it comes to this declassification defense. First, did the president have legal authority to declassify? The short answer to that is, yes, he has either has extremely broad or unlimited authority to declassify. But separate from that is the factual question of, did he, did he exercise that authority? And thus far, not only is there no evidence he did, there's counter evidence.

John Bolton, for example, was on "New Day" this morning and said he never heard of any such thing. So, I think you would want to ask everybody who is in and around the White House, did you ever hear of such a declassification order? So far, we've seen no evidence that there was.

LEMON: I mean, why would they even ask if it is so silly?

HONIG: Because you have to disprove. You want to anticipate and disprove. It is silly but --

LEMON: I had a professor on, a scholar on this last night.


He said you have to -- there is a process with this. You have to notify different agencies. Everyone involved has to know, just because you said something is declassified, you don't let other people know that is declassified. That does not automatically make it declassified.

HONIG: Typically --

LEMON: It's the dumbest argument, excuse because it just doesn't hold water.

HONIG: Typically, you would have that kind of process and evidence, but I think you do want to anticipate and disprove that as a prosecutor.

LEMON: Maggie Haberman is reporting over at "The New York Times" that Trump basically thought that the documents were his. Is that -- is that a thing?

HONIG: No, they're not his. They are ours. They are all of ours. And I will say, the fact that if he did say, those are mine, shows at least that he knew they were there, right, and then presumably, knew that they were taken down to Mar-a-Lago. That is a piece of the puzzle you have to prove as well.

LEMON: Jennifer, we know that in June, the DOJ subpoenaed and obtained surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago. The "Times" is reporting that they were alarmed by what they saw. So, if they were so alarmed by what they saw, what do you think they could have seen?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, they could have seen boxes being removed out of the room where they were supposed to be secured. They could have seen people carrying boxes they knew to contain classified information who are not cleared to have that kind of documentary evidence. They could have seen, you know, we were talking about the lawyers who apparently certified that no classified information was present.

One way that you could determine whether or not those statements are false or true is by looking at surveillance footage to see whether things have moved around after such statements are made or whether they are not. And then if they find classified information in a certain room, you know that it was there the whole time.

So, you know, I think that they are very interested in that for a variety of reasons. And another one is to gain witnesses, right? Who is going in and out of there? Those are the people that you want to speak to if you are an FBI investigator on this case. So, they should be contacting those folks and putting them in a grand jury.

LEMON: Elie, you know that the DOJ is arguing, they are arguing against releasing this affidavit information. Do you think that would irreparably harm their criminal investigations? Do you believe it's going to remain sealed?

HONIG: I do think the judge is going to keep it sealed. It will be interesting to see what position Donald Trump takes. I think his position is going to be, I want you to unseal this, judge, because A, I think it is virtually certain that it will remain sealed. That will enable Trump to say, hey, I want it out there for you, but DOJ wanted to keep it hidden from you as a political point.

LEMON: But it will also give him and his representatives a clue as to what they are looking for and what evidence they already have.

HONIG: It's no lose because if it comes out, it's a roadmap, yeah.

LEMON: So, how difficult, do you think, it's going to be for the DOJ to balance the transparency and keeping this criminal information held, John? This is going to be -- this is tough for them to be able to do.

DEAN: Well, I don't. I think what -- "The Washington Post" reported about 6:00 tonight, Eastern time, that Trump wants the affidavit released. He is not going to get, as Elie says, because it reveals the investigation, it reveals classified information, and it also will give him the witnesses.

But, anyway, I think the judge has got a pretty clear slate here and he is just going to do what is right, and that is to keep it sealed, which is all the law in that circuit as well as the rest of the country. So, it's not a tough decision.

It is not something -- the other thing is, I don't think Trump can get together a motion. Apparently, he has no lawyer on this case specifically and there is none that appeared on the docket yet. So, I don't think he can even get a motion in by Friday -- Thursday, excuse me.

LEMON: Jennifer, do you think it will remain sealed as well?

RODGERS: I do. I agree with Elie and John. There is no chance of it being released. And it's easy for Trump to call for it because he knows it won't be released. What he would like to do is see it himself, actually not have it released publicly because I got to tell you, there is going to be really damning evidence in there about the probable cause that led them to get that search warrant. So, he really does not want it to be publicly released. He just wants to know personally what's in it.

LEMON: I want to say, what does that mean, but we do not know, because it is sealed. Are you saying that in order for them to get or to be able to do what they did, that there has to be some damning evidence in the affidavit, Jennifer?

RODGERS: There has to be at least probable cause, right? They convinced a judge, an independent judge, that there is probable cause to believe that three different crimes, three different statutes, were committed, three different crimes were committed, and that evidence of those crimes could be found, guess where, in Donald Trump's home and his office.

So, that's pretty damaging. And I think when you actually see the affidavit, that goes through who told them what, what they saw, all of the information about the negotiations with his team that demonstrates that he knew what he had.


What they have on the Espionage Act that led them to charge that he had national defense information, maybe misused, whatever led them to charge that there is obstruction, destruction of documents that don't belong to him, I think that is damaging evidence to Donald Trump.

You know, again, we are not at trial, we are not talking beyond a reasonable doubt, we do not even have charges yet, but I suspect that whatever is in there that convinced that judge, Donald Trump actually doesn't want the world to see.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you, John. Thanks, Elie. I appreciate it.

President Joe Biden signing a sweeping $750 billion health care, tax, and climate bill. But with the midterms just a few months away, will that be enough for voters?


UNKNOWN: -- now law.





(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: President Joe Biden taking a victory lap at the White House today after signing a wide-ranging bill designed to address the climate crisis, allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, and increase taxes on big corporations.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, too often, we confuse noise with substance. Too often, we confuse setbacks with the defeat. Too often, we hand the biggest microphone to the critics and the cynics, who delight in the declaring failure while those committed to making real progress do the hard work of governing.

Making progress in this country is -- as big and complicated as ours clearly is not easy. It has never been easy. But with unwavering conviction, commitment and patience, progress does come.


LEMON: President Barack Obama tweeting today, and I'm quoting here, "This is a BFD."

Joining me now is Evan Osnos. He is a CNN contributor and the author of "Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now." We know why he said that, right, because when the former president, Barack Obama, signed the Affordable Care Act, Joe Biden whispered in his ear, the microphone was open, this is a big -- he actually said the word, so that is why he is saying that. Anyway, just to clear that up.

How are you doing, Evan? What do you make of today?

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, AUTHOR: I'm doing just fine. I was going to say -- I'm not going to say it any better than Barack Obama did.


LEMON: He said -- listen, the current president, Biden, says that signing this bill is about showing Americans democracy still works, which is what he ran on. It is, you know, counterargument to all the chaos and the division of our politics right now.

OSNOS: Yeah. Look, I will tell you, Don, I mean, at the core of Joe Biden's presidential career right now has been this idea which looks, I think, to a lot of people almost naive, sometimes almost antique. The idea that you don't have to be cynical about politics. The idea that this system, which is so paralyzed, so frustrating so much of the time, can actually be wrestled into gear and can do what it is supposed to do.

It has been three decades we've been talking about making a serious investment in combatting climate change and it hasn't happened until today. We've been talking for years about reducing drug prices, which have grown at times at four times the rate of inflation. Never happened until today.

And the way it happened, Don, I think, is as much about how we go about politics and how Joe Biden has believed in this process, which is that even when somebody is driving you nuts, and I won't name names other than to say that it might be somebody who is a senator from West Virginia, that you don't then go out and say, I will never be able to work with that guy, because you just might be that person and that is in fact what happened.

LEMON: Listen, having said that, this bill took months of negotiation within the Democratic Party. But look at this picture from the bill signing. Joe Biden handing a pen to Joe Manchin. You wouldn't say the name but there it is. And listen to what Manchin had to say about Biden today.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): So, we always had a friendly relationship. He always said, Joe, whatever I can do to help you, I will. I can be for you or against you. And that is a little thing that we use with each other. Sometimes, it one way or the other. Anyway, so, we had that relationship.


LEMON: Listen, there are progressives, there is Manchin, there is Sinema, all different factions within the Democratic Party, but even those fractures, is the party holding together? Is he holding the party together, I should ask?

OSNOS: He's holding it together for brute force, in effect. I mean, actually, that's not the right word. It's really through managing these differences. It's by the refusal to say, I will never talk to somebody who I disagree with on one issue or another.

Joe Manchin and Joe Biden came very close to the edge of really dooming this domestic agenda, and yet the fact that they came back meant that there was still possibility.

And look, there are certainly progressives who say, we wanted more out of this bill. They didn't want to see more leases, fringes on oil and gas on federal lands. But climate researchers will tell you that for every one ton that was created by those new commitments, essentially these sorts of gifts to Joe Manchin, that we're taking 24 tons of carbon out as a result of these investments in new energy. That was the idea.

I want to just mention one other thing, Don, which is this is actually how Joe Biden got elected president. At one point during the campaign, there were moments on the debate stage where he could've kind of push back harder, where he could have maybe embarrassed somebody and said something wrong.

And later, somebody said -- very close to him said to me, the reason he didn't do that was because he knew that if he became the nominee, he would need those people in order to get anything done. That is in effect the theory that obtains all the way to today.


LEMON: But don't you think that Democrats realize that at some point -- listen, this is going into the second year that they need the president just as much as he needs them. You know, they need each other. If he goes down, they go down.

OSNOS: One hundred percent. I think that became clearer and clearer over these 18 agonizing months. This has been absolutely brutal. I mean, the fact is it did undermine, I think, the party's credibility in the eyes of some voters who said, look, this was the crew that was going to be able to get something done. They control all three, the White House, both houses of Congress, and they couldn't do it.

Here we are today. It shows you how long a week is in politics. Just a few weeks ago, we are counting them up. Here they are now. They recognized they had to get something done. And you're beginning to see some of that show up in the enthusiasm among Democratic voters. I mean, there is a long time between now and the November midterms, but the data is encouraging for Democrats.

Democrats who consider themselves progressives are beginning to say, look, okay, this administration, I may not agree with them on everything, but they're delivering on something that nobody has been able to do in a very long time.

And there may be also some Republicans who are tiring of the Trump show and may begin to say, okay, you know, it turns out this Democratic president is not going to be tapped into progressives. He just made deals with Joe Manchin. That is somebody I might be able to work with.

LEMON: Some of the provisions of the bill Biden signed today don't actually go into effect until next year. The midterms are just months away, Evan. Voters don't have the patience. Biden is playing the long game. But politically, will he lose that game? Will he win that game? What do you think?

OSNOS: You are going to hear him and all the Democrats make a very stark contrast over the course of the next few weeks.

They are going to say, you have a party against us that is rolling back Roe v. Wade, that is threatening same-sex marriage, that is rallying around the former president, twice impeached, now once again the center of a federal investigation, or you have a party that is systematically, sometimes unglamorously, working to try to address issues which polls overwhelmingly show are the things that Americans care about, things like drug prices, things like bringing down inflation.

It is not going to happen overnight. But you just saw the latest inflation numbers, gas prices are coming down. This is not going to be a case in which you have two parties that look very similar. You are getting an x-ray of these two parties right now, and the contrast from Democrats' perspective should be clear enough for voters to see.

LEMON: We will see what happens. Thank you, Evan Osnos. I appreciate it.

OSNOS: My pleasure.

LEMON: Green lawns, long showers, open taps, all of that may be coming to an end in the southwest. That is because of a major drought in the Colorado River. CNN is at Lake Mead, next.




LEMON: Mandatory new water cuts coming to southwestern states. For the first time, the Colorado River will begin operating on what's called a Tier 2 shortage condition starting in January. That means multiple states that rely on the Colorado River will need to find ways to reduce water consumption.

But as CNN's Bill Weir reports, experts warn that these drastic cuts won't be enough to tackle the ongoing megadrought.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting. That supposed Mark Twain quote has been a western slogan since the first settlers. But now, the worst drought in 1,200 years has water managers in seven states, 30 travel nations in Mexico fighting over every precious drop.

CAMILE TOUTON, COMMISSIONER, BUREAU OF RECLAMATION (voice-over): But to date, the states collectively have not identified and adopted specific actions of sufficient magnitude that would stabilize the system.

WEIR (voice-over): That was the commissioner in charge of dams and reservoirs admitting that upper and lower basement states have failed to agree on ways to cut their water use by up to 25%.

PAT MULROY, FORMER COMMISSIONER, SOUTHERN NEVADA WATER AUTHORITY: I think, ultimately, the states are going to realize they're playing Russian roulette, and they're going have to come to their senses.

WEIR (voice-over): For almost 30 years, Pat Mulroy was in charge of Southern Nevada's water and led an aggressive conservation campaign to tear up lawns, reuse wastewater, and scold water wasters.

UNKNOWN: You can't water in the middle of the day, ma'am. You'll be fined if you don't change your watering clock.

WEIR (voice-over): All measures she liked to see happen downstream.

MULROY: I think they're kind of kicking the can down the road past the election, if you want me to be very frank about it. I don't think anybody wants to make great public announcements about measures they may have to take prior to the election.

WEIR (voice-over): Rather than enforce new action, the feds will let the stakes keep talking, while the next round of automatic cuts will lower water delivery by 7% to Mexico, 8% to Nevada, and 21% to Arizona.

UNKNOWN: You can hear this crunching. It's just starting to dry up.

WEIR (voice-over): Here, Alfalfa farmers are already being paid to let their fields go fallow, while some are switching to crops like Guayule, a rubber plant that grows in the desert.

UNKNOWN: Crop switching. Looking at lower water use crops like Guayule is one of the solutions we need to be looking at in a drier future to allow communities to sustain themselves.


WEIR (voice-over): Thanks to some creative water accounting, California will not face mandatory cuts next year, but their governor is already warning of a future with a lot more people and a lot less water.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The science and the data lead us to now understand that we will lose 10% of our water supply by 2040. If all things are equal, we will lose an additional 10% of our supply by 2040.

MULROY: We have the very real possibility this coming year, if we have another lousy winter, all things being equal, that we will dry this lake down to elevation 1,000. That is 100 feet above dead pool and you are at the bottom of the Martini glass. So, it doesn't take much to tip that over and get to the point where nothing can go downstream.

And if you don't take it seriously now, if you think that you are going to avoid this, do a rain dance, go pray, do whatever, that we have a great winter, you are insane.

WEIR (voice-over): Bill Weir, CNN, Boulder City, Nevada.


LEMON: Thank you, Bill. We will be right back.




LEMON: Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the toughest Republican critic of the former president in Congress, losing her primary to Trump-backed Attorney Harriet Hageman.

Cheney, the last of the 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump's second impeachment to face voters, now becomes the eighth who will not be returning to Congress next year.

Here is what she said in her speech tonight.


CHENEY: I have said since January 6th that I will do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office, and I mean it.


CHENEY: This is a fight for all of us together.


LEMON: Thanks for watching, everyone. Good night.