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Don Lemon Tonight
Jerry Nadler Beats Carolyn Maloney In N.Y. 12th District; Mehmet Oz's Camp Makes A Low Blow To Opponent John Fetterman; Poll Reveals What's Important To Voters; Federal Judge Pressure Trump's Legal Team; Americans Are Advised To Leave Ukraine. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 23, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Well, thanks for watching everyone. I'll be back tomorrow night. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now with, of course, Don Lemon. Hey, Don lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Can I, can I let you in on a little secret? Can we show something?
COATES: Yes, I'll lean in just between you and me. What you --
LEMON: I was just going to show these two guys. They were sitting here crunching numbers as we were, can we take the, one of these cameras right here? They like talking about --
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They were turning like --
LEMON: -- we're coming out of the break. We're coming out of the break. And they're like, look two points. He's out of the break. Yes. So that's what I have to deal with.
COATES: Electoral geek squad.
LEMON: I know. It's election time. We're going to get to it. Thank you, Laura. I'll see you tomorrow.
COATES: See you later.
LEMON: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.
And obviously, since I showed you, it is primary night in America and we have got breaking news. Here's what CNN is projecting that Congressman Jerry Nadler will defeat Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in New York's 12th congressional district Democratic primary.
That, as CNN is projecting, Charlie Crist will win the Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary and take on Ron DeSantis. That will happen in November. Val Demings wins Florida's Democratic Senate primary.
So, there's a lot to discuss. CNN's Phil Mattingly is at the magic wall with more, but that's just a moment. Stand by, Phil, and audience. As primary results roll in from really all across the country and with the midterms looming, here's the thing.
Democracy is on the ballot. There are election deniers running and winning in key races across the country. And we're still reckoning with the cancer of January 6th, one of the greatest threats to this country in our history. So, will Americans vote like democracy depends on it? The economy, inflation, putting food on the table, gas in the tank, keeping the roof over your head.
All of that matters to voters. Of course, it does. Culture wars matter a lot to people, too, the book banning, the ginned-up outrage over critical race theory, even the shortage of teachers. A lot of that understandably frightens parents sending their kids back to schools in the middle of a proxy fight over a divided America.
So, it is an open question of just how much of a factor, the many, many investigations that the ex-president will be at the ballot box in November. How's that going to affect everything.
But what we're learning tonight is really damning. More than 700 pages of secret documents, 700 retrieved by the National Archives from Mar- a-Lago hard to believe that they just ended up at the former president's beach resort by mistake, 700 pages, right?
And these aren't even the documents that the FBI turned up in their search two weeks ago. These are 700 pages of classified information turned over to the archives back in January. And for months, the archives raised the alarm about those documents and what could have been exposed. They tried to work with the Trump team to assess the damage done to the national security until May when they finally wrote they needed to, and I quote here, "conduct an assessment of the potential damage resulting from the apparent manner in which these materials were stored and transported and take any necessary remedial steps."
So much for team Trump's claim that they have been cooperating all along. And you know what's not in this letter. No claims by the former president that he declassified any of this. He sure has changed his tune when it comes to securing classified material. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This was not just extreme carelessness with classified material, which is still totally disqualifying. This is calculated, deliberate, premeditated misconduct followed by a coverup that included false statements and lies to Congress, the media, and the American people.
In my administration, I'm going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. We also need the best protection of classified information. That is the worst situation. Hillary's private e-mail scandal, which put our classified information in the reach of our enemies, disqualifies her from the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I mean, got to have the same rules, right, for yourself as you have for everybody else. And there's news tonight of what sounds like a do over for the Trump team's lawyers. A judge giving them a Friday deadline to better explain why they want a special master to oversee the evidence from the Mar-a-Lago search two weeks ago.
We have a lot to get to, but first I want to get to CNN's Phil Mattingly. He is at the magic wall. Also, CNN political director, David Chalian and CNN senior political analyst, John Avlon, author of "Lincoln and the Fight for Peace."
Straight to Phil, though. Phil, hello. So, let's talk about Jerry Nadler first defeating Representative Carolyn Maloney in new York's 12th district. What are the numbers show, sir?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don, first I want to say, look over to Avlon and Chalian, I'm the one supposed to be crunching the numbers. So, I don't want them to do that. Like, that's actually my -- that's what I'm doing. If they want to know what's going on, come to me. Is that --
LEMON: I'm out of here.
AVLON: We got crunch.
MATTINGLY: I kid, because I love. But I do want to start with the race that everybody is obviously been talking about, Don, over the course of the last several days, especially it has become very bitter, very divisive, a lot of implications and insinuations, and it ended up the battle of Central Park ended up being not much of a battle at all.
We have projected, CNN has projected that Jerry Nadler will win this race the battle between two 30-year incumbent House Democrats, very stalwart liberal members from Manhattan, Jerry Nadler, from the upper west side. Carolyn Maloney from the upper east side, Jerry Nadler, up by 24,000 votes with 96 percent reporting.
Everybody was keeping a close eye on Suraj Patel as well. He has been talking about generational change potential to shake things up in this race. He's just under 20 percent right now. I would note that he challenged Carolyn Maloney twice before in primaries and only lost by a couple thousand votes last cycle. So, he took some votes clearly from her in this case.
But even if you added all of his votes to Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler is e still in a very good place. He will continue on. Maloney's career at least in the House will end come next Congress. There's also another race we called, Don, that I think we've been keeping a close eye and look, there are a myriad of races since those maps were thrown out, since Democrats dreams of a very Democratic centric, primary night were essentially tossed out with them.
And that starts right here. As you noted at the top of the show, Sean Patrick Maloney, the Democrat and also the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the top Democrat when it comes to House campaigns this cycle, he, we have called this race for him projected that he will be winning against Alessandra Biaggi, the state senator who is backed by Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, a big progressive voice inside the state.
It had been a race that had become bitter because of what Maloney did when those maps got thrown out. Again, any leadership position part of House Democratic leadership, once those maps shifted, once they changed, Maloney very quickly without really telling anybody inside the New York Democratic caucus shifted his decision to run in a race of another incumbent that did go over very well particularly with progressives.
That incumbent Mondaire Jones was one of those progressives. Maloney will advance, will defeat or we projected he will defeat Alessandra Biaggi. But it was a tougher race than I think people expected and it certainly raised a lot of issues inside the Democratic caucus.
LEMON: So that was, I was going to ask you about another House Democratic who may not survive this New York primary. Was that the -- you -- that's that what you were talking about?
MATTINGLY: That's exactly right. Look, Mondaire Jones. And Don, you're very familiar with him, obviously. From about 70 miles away from Manhattan in Westchester County that area won a very tough primary in the last cycle to advance into a very safe seat. He is a progressive, he is a big voice on Capitol Hill, even though he is in his mid-30s.
And he's also been viewed as a legislator, got a lot of work done in his first two years in Congress. This was going to be a difficult race moving districts, moving away from his home base and into this part of the city.
Right now, here's where things stand. Dan Goldman, you will recognize him from the impeachment hearings. He's a former federal prosecutor. He has a significant amount of money, Levi Air to the Levi Strauss, fortune to some degree. And he has utilized that money over the course of the last several weeks.
He has blanketed the airways with advertisements. He has tried to capitalize on the Mar-a-Lago search, saying he is absolutely the Democrat to continue the fight against Donald Trump. He showed it during impeachment hearings according to him, he can do it when he is in Congress as well.
But this is a race that also has a series of progressive powerhouses. We already talked about Mondaire Jones, an incumbent very much in danger of losing his seat or losing his place in the House Democratic caucus, even though he's considered a rising star.
You have Yuh-Line Niou, a state assembly member who's also a very critical progressive voice, who progressives have been trying to rally behind, but that vote has been split to some degree.
Carlina Rivera, as well, was somebody who had a lot of backing from progressives. How that vote has shaken out? Eighty-nine percent reporting right now, it is very close. Dan Goldman only about 867 votes ahead. There's still a lot to come in here. A lot of things can change right now. But Jones right now, about 4,000 votes behind Goldman. Really right now looking like a two-person race. We'll see how this continues to play out going forward.
But one of those situations where you lose what House Democrats thought was a very, very talented young member. It's potentially something that could happen tonight, but also the potential that progressives have split the vote and lost an opportunity to send one of their members ideologically aligned, at least into that Democratic caucus. We'll see how this plays out.
Again, it's very close. Nobody is calling anything by any means right now, 89 percent reporting. Dan Goldman up by a 100 -- or 867 votes.
MATTINGLY: We'll see how this plays out over of course, the next couple hours, Don.
LEMON: Wow. And listen, you should hear what David Chalian said about you when the mics weren't on.
MATTINGLY: I mean, he's like technically kind of my boss. So that could be a problem.
LEMON: So, when he gets back to D.C. you might be in trouble like knuckle sandwich. I'm just --
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Never.
AVLON: That's fair.
CHALIAN: Never. Nothing but love.
LEMON: Thank you, Phil. I want you to stand by because we have a lot to get to, a lot to cover tonight. I want to bring in now David Chalian and John Avlon as well. Hi, guys.
AVLON: Hey, man.
LEMON: Let's talk about Representative Jerry Nadler. He won decisively over Representative Carolyn Maloney. He's going -- who is going home after decades of serving New York. What are your thoughts, David? CHALIAN: Well, listen, this is a race that never really was expected
or anticipated or perhaps even should have happened. But the quirk of what happens every 10 years in American politics and as districts get drawn these two 30-year veterans, really liberal lions of Manhattan politics end up in this race against each other.
So, I'm not sure there's like a ton to learn here broadly. Although I will say this. I do think I'm not a big fan of saying that newspaper endorsements matter, but the New York Times editorial endorsement in this particular district probably still matters a lot. Chuck Schumer getting in for Jerry Nadler. No doubt helped him summon this race as well.
Because as John, this district actually has more Maloney's district in it, this new district than it does Nadler's but it's a decisive victory and Nadler clearly outhustled his former colleague now sort of, nemesis, inside the Democratic Party.
LEMON: Extremely low turnout, John.
LEMON: What does this affect?
AVLON: This is what drives me crazy about this, right? Maloney and Nadler have been there for 30 years representing the island of Manhattan. Right? The last competitive race was when Maloney beats Bill Green, a Republican on the east side in 1992. So now these guys get squared off against each other because the Democrats got greedy and got smacked down by a judge. So, they got put in the same district.
And this race is going to be decided by around 70,000, 75,000 votes in a district that's three quarter of a million. Right? That's crazy because there's not going to be a competitive general election. Let's get real. And you look at what's happening in New York 10. This thing is tight as a tick to sound like Dan Rather, but I'll tell you what. If there was ranked choice voting, that would be totally different.
Instead, you're going to see an incumbent without a competitive general election, decided by a couple hundred votes, maybe just over a thousand.
LEMON: You'd have to, I mean, that's Dan.
AVLON: That's nuts.
LEMON: Dan, you got to go. Dan, Dan would say tight as a tick on a pig spine or something. You got to period a little bit further.
AVLON: I don't have that kind of text. It's real. But it's nuts.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, I want take it to Florida now because Charlie Crist is taking on Governor Ron DeSantis tonight in his victory speech. Let's watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): Tonight, the people of Florida clearly sent a message. Amen. They want a governor who cares about them to solve real problems who preserves our freedom, not a bully who divides us and takes our freedom away.
CRIST: You know, the truth is this governor couldn't care less about your freedom. He is abusive. He is a bully. He is a bully. He is a bully and he's dangerous. He is dangerous. He imitates the worst authoritarian leaders on the globe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Wow. Woo. He's calling DeSantis --
AVLON: That's too much.
LEMON: -- abusive, a bully, dangerous. Why do you say, you say its -- why do you say its --
AVLON: That's too much? Yes, because you know the worst authoritarian leaders on the globe. I mean, you may disagree with his politics his tactics and say he is bullying, but when you start comparing to Vladimir Putins and Xi Jinpings of the world, I think that's too much. I don't think that should be --it shouldn't be controversial.
CHALIAN: Also, name calling is not going to get Charlie Crist to Tallahassee.
AVLON: That's right.
CHALIAN: That -- that's not going to be the way he --
LEMON: He's been to Tallahassee before.
CHALIAN: -- tell who he is. He is a former Republican governor. There's no doubt about that. And by the way, inside this Democratic primary, the Democratic electorate in Florida, went with someone who they thought had the best chance against DeSantis. Not necessarily someone who lines up with their ideological pinning all this way.
But Ron DeSantis enters this race as the clear favorite. The state has moved. It is not just a traditional purple state anymore. It really has a red tint to it. And he's got a massive war chest and he had no primary competition. So, I think in this environment this is going to be an uphill battle for Charlie Crist.
AVLON: I think it is in part because he's played so many roles he's been around for a long time. But look, you know, DeSantis certainly seems in poll position. He's got strong control of Tallahassee with the Republican legislature, but this is also the counterpoint to what we're seeing in New York tonight.
I mean, here's a guy who had his legislature redistrict the state 22- 8. And basically, did it so late that the state Supreme Court was like, you know what, we're going to have to deal with this next cycle. So, a state where Republicans just narrowly outnumber registered Democrats with around, you know, two, almost three million independents there is lopsided Republican. That's the kind of power grab that we've seen under DeSantis. And you know, it's worked for him on a tactical level, but this is obviously he's going to try to run up the score.
LEMON: David, you said that it was a purple state, but it's a red tinge, right? Val Demings won her primary. She's going to take on Senator Marco Rubio. Florida is, as you said, it's pretty red. Does Val Demings give Marco Rubio a run for his money?
CHALIAN: Listen, she's outraised him in money. She's also outspent him at this point. I think he has, sort of two to one cash on hand as of the beginning of August. You know, you have to look at the overall political environment here. Val Demings who's running as sheriff Demings, which is her former job.
LEMON: Yes. She's running a very local race, you know, if you notice. Yes.
CHALIAN: A very local race. There's she's trying to make sure the national political dynamic doesn't define --
CHALIAN: -- this race in Florida, which is a tall order in a Senate race in a big battleground state like Florida. He -- here's the thing. Democrats, we've seen this in cycle after cycle now. They find candidates that they just pour tons of money into even though it's not actually one of the top tier races that will sort of determine control of the United States Senate. And that may happen here with Val.
AVLON: Well, the iconic example is Jamie Harrison against Lindsey Graham, you know, Mitch McConnell's challenger last time around. Here's the question I'll nerd out for you. I mean, there have been some polls coming out showing that actually she's pretty competitive with ruby, not only competitive, but margin of error, you know, on the upside. Do you think that's real?
CHALIAN: Listen, I think there's no doubt, John, that the political environment has shifted in these last several weeks. That the Dobbs decision overturning Roe V. Wade, the string of legislative successes Biden and the Democrats on the Hill have had have rallied Democratic troops. That is significant and real.
I still think you've got a president sitting at 40 percent approval rating. You've got a 80 -- 75 percent, 80 percent wrong track number here.
CHALIAN: And people are still struggling with the cost of living. I just think this political environment is even though Democrats may mitigate some of the worst scenarios, it's still going to be a Republican year, to some extent.
LEMON: I want to get you guys to weigh on what's happening, weigh in on what's happening in Pennsylvania. And that is Dr. Oz and this Fetterman race. So, this is what Oz spokesperson is saying that Fetterman would wouldn't have had a stroke. The spokeswoman said, Fetterman would not have had a stroke if he's eaten a vegetable in his life.
Tonight, Fetterman is tweeting this. Fetterman says I had a stroke, I survived. I am truly so grateful to still be here. I know politics can be nasty, but even then, I could never imagine ridiculing someone for their health challenges. Wow. It doesn't get more personal than that, right?
CHALIAN: I mean, I think the mudslinging is pretty terrible what's going on there. And I actually think it's diverting attention from two things. One, Mehmet Oz is running a pretty poor campaign and Democrats -- Republicans, sorry, are fretting about that because Mitch McConnell doesn't believe there's a path back to him being majority leader that doesn't go through winning Pennsylvania.
But two, I think there are real legitimate questions for the Fetterman campaign about his health, about full transparency about what has happened having doctors say what prognosis may be in terms of recovery? I do think Fetterman has not been as open about what he's experienced and about whatever limitations still may exist for him with the people of Pennsylvania as he probably.
LEMON: Isn't he having trouble speaking, though?
AVLON: Well, in the one event we've seen him that he did -- he did stumble a little bit. Look, there's no question he had a pretty serious stroke.
AVLON: What's been astounding is as he's been laying low, his team has been playing an a plus Twitter game, that that really has put Dr. Oz on the defense. Really branding him as a carpet bag or an outsider in a way that's stuck.
So, what you're seeing there is, is that Dr. Oz seem trying to hit back in kind, but they're doing it what I think what most folks would consider a low blow. You know, going after health choices and health challenges. And so, you know, look, I think there are a lot of Republicans who realize Dave McCormick might have been a better general election candidate right about now. But Oz has, you know, Fetterman has been really outperforming given that he hasn't been on the campaign trial that much just by playing a very aggressive Twitter game.
LEMON: All right. Stand by. No fighting. Right. You guys are going to challenge me like you challenged David Mattingly, right?
CHALIAN: Phil Mattingly?
LEMON: Phil Mattingly.
AVLON: Is that again? First base for the anchor.
LEMON: Phil hates too. When I do, I'm going way back to CNN.
AVLON: That's not --
LEMON: We've got a lot more election results to come, but this primary night, are Americans voting like our democracy depends on it? And what will that mean with the midterms on the horizon. Sorry, Phil.
LEMON: Primary results rolling in tonight. And like I said, democracy is on the ballot. So, the big question is what does this tell us about the midterms which are just around the corner.
Let's bring you now CNN's chief national affairs analyst, Kasie Hunt, senior political analyst, John Avlon, and senior political analyst Nia-Malika Henderson.
Good evening. Good to see all of you. John, kind of.
So, Kasie, there's another major election tonight, voters are paying attention to the threats to our democracy.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, we did.
LEMON: You saw the polling now say I did. That was one poll that said it was number one. They're thinking about their pocketbooks. They're thinking about inflation. They're thinking about food on the table. What does this all mean as we inch closer to the midterms?
HUNT: Yes. Well, look, I think it says a lot about the environment that we're living in. You were talking with David Chalian about what that means. I mean, it -- we have been reading this as an extraordinarily good year for Republicans just because of factors like Joe Biden being in the White House. Typically, the first midterm election for a president is bad for his party, obviously inflation.
What I took away from that poll is both, yes, OK. Wow. Democracy is an issue. I didn't necessarily expect that, but also there was something, anything more important than inflation. And you know, I think that that says potentially a lot. Now it's one poll. So, we need to -- we need to see a couple others. LEMON: Right. I think --
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And we also don't know what, you know, what we --
LEMON: Can we put the poll up.
LEMON: So, I'm going to let you talk about it. Because this is -- this is the poll. Threats to democracy is overtaking, cost of living is voters' top issue. It's just one poll. But the question I had to ask that I asked in the open, do you think Americans are going to vote like democracy depends on it. Go ahead, Nia.
HENDERSON: Yes, I think so. And I think Democrats think democracy is in peril for -- in peril for certain reasons. And Republicans think it's in peril for very different reasons, right? They believe that the FBI overstepped and that's a threat to democracy. They believe that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president. Republicans believe in the big lie.
So that's why they're saying that democracy is in peril. Democrats obviously believe something different. You know, listen, typically we've seen in midterm elections and Kasie sort of alluded to this, that whoever is in power, you know, sees that at the ballot, that Democrats --
HUNT: It's usually a referendum.
HENDERSON: It's a referendum on people in charge.
HENDERSON: So that could be, and we also see Democratic voters typically decline in terms of showing up, right, the young voters, the people of color as well. There's sort of a drop off from presidential years. We'll see if that's happened.
Listen, I think the Dobbs ruling has obviously energized Democrats to a great deal. I think also the sort of recent legislative accomplishments of Biden, particularly around climate that could engage and energize young voters because that's a big issue for them. And some of the stuff he's doing with student loans.
LEMON: If they show up.
HENDERSON: If they show up, yes, that's a whole thing. Yes. LEMON: But here's like, you know, we keep saying it's one poll and it's the number one priority. But let's say it's even two or three. That's surprising considering where we are. That it would be -- it would -- that a threat to democracy would be on the minds of voters. I still think it's very important, even if it's not number one, but if it's closed to the top. No? Am I wrong?
AVLON: Yes. I mean, it's --
HUNT: I don't think you're wrong.
AVLON: No. Look, it's foundational, right? I mean, there's nothing more basic than defending democracy in a democracy. You lose that, it doesn't matter what else you got. But I think, you know, you've seen voters usually say it's the economy stupid that trumps everything else. No pun intended.
And this is the first poll that's shown some pulling away. You got to say that the gravitational poll in midterm elections is always against the opposition party, especially when a president is under 50 percent.
AVLON: Let alone closer to 40. But this, I think does show that people -- that that message is getting through.
AVLON: In a meaningful way.
HUNT: One thing I would say about this, Don, I should preface this by saying, I haven't dug into the cross tabs of this poll. So, I don't know if what Nia is saying is correct. That this is a reflection of both Democratic and Republican voters saying that this is a threat, you know, an issue for them but for different reasons, or if this is Democrats and independents looking at what's going on with the January 6th committee and talking about it.
My instinct is that it's more likely to be that. And that really, I think helps us answer the question. And this is why I'm interested to see how this plays out over the next few weeks. We've all been wondering if what the January 6th committee has been doing in prime time, very effectively, quite frankly, at least it seems to those of us who have been paying attention, that it is perhaps breaking through with the American public.
Now, I don't think this can definitively tell us that either way, but, you know, as someone who was there on January 6th, you know, who felt that impact on a personal level, as well as a professional level and on a Democratic level as a citizen of this country, it was pretty demoralizing to then watch one political party essentially try to start explaining it away.
And you know, I think I have sort of become cynical in thinking well, OK. Nobody actually really cares about this, or at least half the country doesn't. And this is a little piece of evidence that maybe that's changing a little bit.
AVLON: I mean, look, pay attention to the independents, right? I mean, that's --
LEMON: That's really, that's the important part.
AVLON: That's what's going to be the swing. And the smartest thing the January 6 committee has done I think to date, is make sure that all its witnesses are Republicans.
AVLON: Right? That might not reach deep into the Republican base, but it gives a credibility, a core credibility that will impress.
LEMON: But especially if you're not hearing or seeing it in conservative media, that's also very important, but it's still, it is still breaking through.
Nia, let me ask you about this. Because this is big picture, right? More than half of Republican gubernatorial nominees have question or denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election. That is according to CNN fact checker, Daniel Dale, who we all know was Hardy. This man worked hard over the last six months.
LEMON: That's 21 nominees, Nia.
LEMON: No small number. What is the significance of that do you think?
HENDERSON: You know, the coup still continues, right? It was unsuccessful on January 6th but it's, you know, sort of the seeds for another instance where Donald Trump or another Republican president could essentially overturn an election. We see that in motion right now. Some of these governors, you know, running in states like Pennsylvania, in Arizona, you know, all over the country, this, you know, you know, in so many ways, January 6th was dressed -- a dressed rehearsal.
And Donald Trump has been very effective in putting people who believe in the big lie and people who will say, you know, they will essentially do his bidding if they get the power. He -- those people could actually be in power come 2024.
LEMON: Like in Arizona.
LEMON: Kari Lake who's a gubernatorial nominee, the secretary of state nominee, Mark Finchem. They are conspiracy theorists. They want to overturn Biden's 2020 win.
LEMON: What does that mean for future presidential election?
HUNT: I mean, it could potentially mean everything, Don. I mean, if you think about how this played out in 2020, I mean, we had, you know, I was sitting on a TV set for a week when we all thought we were going to be doing it for one night.
HUNT: Because in no small part, we were waiting on the results from Arizona. And there were other places across map as well. Georgia comes to mind where officials who were of the president's party were required to say the voters of my state selected Joe Biden as president.
And I am not going to lie or say something different. In fact, I'm going to stand up for the truth. Brad Raffensperger. Imagine what could have happened over the course of that week, if those people had not been there. And, you know, you were talking about how these elections are so low turnout that we're covering tonight, right?
So that actually really matters in this context too, because part of the problem that we're facing as a country and part of why we're so polarized is that people on either extreme are incredibly engaged, incredibly energized, and it's turning off everyone that crosses the entire spectrum in the middle. And they're just choosing not to participate.
They're choosing not to vote for secretary of state in Arizona. Like if you're an Arizona voter and you know, you think your vote doesn't matter. Well, guess what. It really, really, really does.
AVLON: And this is partly by design, right? This is how we're getting these unrepresentative candidates, who many, I mean, in the case, you know, Pennsylvania, for example, a lot of Pennsylvania Republicans are saying, look, you know, I'm not down with the top of this ticket. And that, but the problem is you get this low turnout, close partisan primaries that are dominated by the most extreme voices.
And then all of a sudden, you got a --you got a choice, you know, between an election denier and --
LEMON: I was talking to -- I was talking to my -- I'll let you comment on this, Nia.
LEMON: I was talking to my executive producer tonight and she said various do comments. She said, we just want to get back to a place where we can have Thanksgiving with our -- with our --
HUNT: It would be great.
LEMON: -- with our relatives.
HENDERSON: Instead, you have the extremes. And listen, Republicans are a bit worried about this, right? Trump meddled so much in these elections where there's the Senate primaries or some of these gubernatorial primaries. You now have people who are running across these big states where they have to get independent voters and not just Republican die-hard Trump is, they've got a mass, a big, you know, cross section of voters to actually win.
And so, Republicans are a little less bullish on their chances, particularly in the Senate.
LEMON: But what breaks the spell. I got to run. But is there anything -- is there anything that goes like, was it genie? Who was this or --
HUNT: You know, I mean was going to tell you that wasn't.
AVLON: Not going to be a genie, I tell you that.
HUNT: No, no. I mean, you know, Don, I honestly, I thought January 6th would break the spell.
LEMON: It did not.
HUNT: It did not. I mean, I, you know, God forbid something horrific from the outside happens. I mean, I feel like the country came together a little bit around Ukraine. That was something I started hearing from Republican and Democratic voters. I don't think any of us wishes an event like September 11th brought the country together. Right? Nobody wants anything like that to happen.
HUNT: But barring some sort of extreme event I struggle to see it.
HENDERSON: Yes. And I mean, historians most worried about sort of internal conflict, not something from the outside but something, you know, sort of the internal struggles and this, this, you struggle that Americans have had to reaches a divide.
LEMON: You know what the FBI says the biggest threat is from homegrown domestic terrorism.
AVLON: And I'll leave you with something Lincoln said, you know, as a nation of free men, we must live for a time or die by suicide.
LEMON: Gosh. He had to be a smarty pass. Thank you, professor.
AVLON: You're welcome. Thank you. One of my many. Come on, you got to love a little bit of name Thanksgiving table.
LEMON: I appreciate it. Thank you, guys.
Donald Trump's legal team sent back to the drawing board by a judge who was a Trump nominee. Are they just not ready for prime time? And what will that mean as the investigations heat up?
LEMON: A federal judge telling team Trump to further explain their request for a special master giving President Trump's legal team until the end of the week to refine their arguments in their first lawsuit since the Mar-a-Lago search. And we're learning from a newly released letter the National Archives recovered more than 700 pages of classified documents from Trump's home earlier this year.
So, joining me now to discuss, Norm Eisen, who was House judiciary special counsel and Trump's first impeachment. Norm, good to see you, sir.
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hey, Don.
LEMON: Thank you for joining. I wish you would see here, but I'm happy just to have you on the show. Is this federal judge basically telling Trump's team do better?
EISEN: Don, for an extremely short order I have it here. It has more scathing content per word than I think I've seen anywhere before. She starts by asking what is the asserted basis for the exercise of this court's jurisdiction. She can't even tell why they're there. And then she goes on to rip them again and again and again.
So, if this were the first year of law school, she did not give them a passing grade, but she's going to give them a redo.
LEMON: So, the -- you were talking about this judge. This judge is a Trump -- Trump nominee. So, when you read her order today, what does that tell you about the state the former president's legal team is in?
EISEN: Well, Don, the Trump appointed judges acquitted themselves honorably in the last struggle for our democracy Trump's non meritorious legal claims. They're not, you know, they want to be independent, Don, but it doesn't matter who appointed her. They are in disarray; they can't get the fundamentals right. They can't even make up their mind if this is a civil case or a criminal case.
What she asks, what court should you be in? Why are you even here? Why aren't you before Judge Reinhart who issued the warrant?
EISEN: I mean, it is -- it is not textbook lawyering.
LEMON: Listen, I talked about this last night. I had -- let me grab my notes here. I talked about this just a little bit, but I just, I want to hone in on this timeline, we're learning more about the timeline leading up to the search from a newly released letter showing that the archives told Trump's team, there it is all on your screen.
The archives told Trump's team in May that they intended to share the documents they recovered with the FBI and U.S. intel agencies, rebuking requests to exert executive privilege.
You say that this sheds more light on why there could be a viable criminal case here, because I mean, look, Norm, I don't know if you can see the screen, but I want our viewers to look at this.
This is the -- these are the notes that I had last night. And these are the times that the interactions that, the DOJ or the investigators had with team Trump trying to get these documents. And now we have this new letter shedding light on it. So, for anyone saying that team Trump was cooperating or they hadn't gotten requests from the National Archives or from anyone, you know, in the government, that's just B.S.
EISEN: Don, it's kind of like the first topic we were talking about that they failed and the judge gave them a do over. But how many do overs do you get when you look at your timeline, when you look at the pattern here, when you look at all of CNN's reporting, everything that has become public. You really get to what the government has written about in some of these papers.
And that's the willful withholding of national defense information and the pattern of concealment. And that gets prosecutors and judges and juries pretty exercised. So, I think it's that pattern that creates such criminal peril for Donald Trump.
LEMON: Norm Eisen, come see us in New York. We miss you here.
EISEN: Be back soon. Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thank you, sir.
So, get out. That is a message from the State Department to Americans in Ukraine. Stay with us.
LEMON: The U.S. sending a clear warning to Americans in Ukraine. Get out. That amid growing fears at Russia's war in Ukraine may soon enter a new and devastating phase exactly six months after Kremlin forces invaded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We have warned for months and months that they should not be there. If anybody did remain, now is the time to start making your plans to get out of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And it's already Ukrainian Independence Day in Ukraine where cities have banned large public celebrations as fears of Russian strikes are high following the death of a daughter of one of Putin's most high profile allies.
So, joining me now to discuss the former secretary of defense, William Cohen. Good to see you, Secretary. Thank you so much.
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: You're welcome.
LEMON: So if U.S. officials are all but demanding Americans get out, what does that say about how bad things could get, especially with tensions so high.
COHEN: I think they're projecting that President Putin is going to accelerate and intensify the war in Ukraine. He doesn't need an excuse to launch any more devastation on Ukraine. But now he has these, really taking advantage of the assassination that took place in saying this is something that Ukrainians did.
There's no presumption of innocence when it comes to Putin. There's no presumption of credibility on anything the Russians say. And so, I think we have to take that with a good deal of skepticism. But nonetheless, he may use this to rally the Russian people.
Again, he doesn't have to because he's made it a crime for anybody to say it's a war or to criticize the war to go 15 years in prison. But this is a, it could be an effort on his part to get more support because you've been losing thousands of soldiers. He's saying these people come home and body bags and coffins, he may have domestic concern being raised by the military who's opposed to the war because they're not being properly equipped and trained, et cetera.
There may be partisan groups within Russia, according to one former member of parliament in the Russian parliament who was kicked out of the parliament now living in Kyiv. He said there are partisan groups who may be responsible for the bombing that took place a day or so ago.
So, he has a lot on his hands in terms of discontent within Russia, in terms of the people looking at those bodies coming back home. And the fact is he's not making any progress. And so, when he's not making progress, he's losing. And the fact is the stalemate is not just the stalemate. It's a loss for Russia. And now I think you'll try to capitalize on that and intensify the war.
LEMON: Secretary, it can be easy to lose sight of where things stand with the war with so many domestic concerns here. Can you give viewers a sense of the state of the war and how it continues to append global stability as well as the energy markets?
COHEN: Well, as we look at the individual who was murdered, the young lady, and we don't take any joy in seeing anyone murdered, but let's go back and look at what's happened in Ukraine. There are 5,000 Ukrainian civilians who have been -- who have died. There are some, I think total of 12,000 altogether in terms of those, including the wounded. We've had five million refugees. We've had seven million displaced individuals.
So, when you look at Bucha, look at Mariupol and see what has happened there gives you some idea the context in which we're talking about, but in terms of national security, you just finished an interview with Norm Eisen talking about the national security of 340 million Americans that may have been compromised by the former president.
Now we're looking at what Putin may do. He's even talking about possibly going against Estonia. Estonia is a NATO member. That means we're all involved once again in this particular conflict. He may attack a nuclear power plant. They're using it as a shield right now, the Russians are.
If that is attacked by either the Russians or there's a domestic attack upon it, that could affect millions of people in Ukraine, Europe, also Russia. So, there's a lot at stake in terms of what's going on in Ukraine. And it's not just limited to Ukraine. We have a national secure interest in what Putin is doing as well, just as we have a national security interest in what former President Trump has done by holding on to highly classified secret documents.
We don't know if those, if we have them all yet, we don't know who was cleaning the premises. Were they just housemates? Or cleaning folks who were moving boxes around. And if so, were they -- did they have access to the documents? Did they end up in the hands of another foreign service? Those are issues that really have to be focused on in the coming days.
LEMON: Secretary, it's always a pleasure. And listen, for all these months that I've had you on I have been meaning to tell you I love the room that you are you're in. It's really cool. It's really substantial. And the best part about it is the woman over your right arm, who I love.
COHEN: Now give her credit. Janet is the one who has designed this whole room and keeps me upright every day.
LEMON: I know she's watching. She's probably sitting right there. Tell her I said, hello. Thank you very much. I'll see you soon.
COHEN: Thank you very much, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. So, they could be facing life in prison. Two men convicted today of plotting to kidnap a sitting governor. That's next.
[22:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Two men convicted by a federal jury today of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Adam Fox and Barry Croft face a maximum sentence of life in prison. They were also convicted of one count of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
The prosecutors accused the men of plotting to kidnap Governor Whitmer, a Democrat, from her summer home. It was back in 2020. She
released a statement on Twitter that reads in part. Today's verdicts prove that violence and threats have no place in our politics. And those who seek to divide us will be held accountable.
Going on to say, plots against public officials and threats to the FBI are a disturbing extension of a radicalized domestic terrorism that festers in our nation threatening the very foundation of our Republic.
Up next, hundreds of pages of secret documents exactly where they didn't belong at Mar-a-Lago.
Stay with us.