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Don Lemon Tonight

Twenty-Two People Killed In Ukraine's Independence Day; Ukraine-Russia War Far From Over; Democrat Beats GOP Candidate Over Roe Issue; National Archives Informed Trump Team; Pete Arredondo Ousted From His Post; Vanessa Bryant Wins Lawsuit. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 24, 2022 - 22:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Thanks for watching, everyone. I'll be back tomorrow night. Guess who's next? Don Lemon and DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now. Hey, Don Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hey, Don lemon.

COATES: You're like, hey, Don Lemon. It's Buehler (Ph). I have a lot more of like a Sous-vide. Now you say it. I don't speak French. I have more energy.

LEMON: Sous-vide.

COATES: OK, well, you're -- you're from Louisiana. So, there you go. It's baked into the Benet recipe.

LEMON: I kid --

COATES: I don't have it.

LEMON: Because I love you.

COATES: I love the too, man.

LEMON: Well, look, we had the same head tilt.

COATES: We did. We did. And your time match kind of the pattern somewhere.

LEMON: A little bit. A little bit.

COATES: I don't know. Well, I'm looking forward to your show.

LEMON: We'll coordinate one night. I'll watch and then I'll match. And then. Yes, I got what?

COATES: That would be a dream come true.

LEMON: I'll see you.

COATES: Don lemon watch and then coordinated with me.

LEMON: Bye, Laura Coates.

COATES: Bye, Don Lemon.

LEMON: See you later. So, this is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Thank you so much for joining. I can't -- it's, you know, it's hard to believe. It's really hard to believe sitting here actually when the war started, when the bombs started. It was six months.

It has been six months since Vladimir Putin launched his murderous and entirely unprovoked war on Ukraine, six months of death raining down from the sky, six months of innocent men, women, children slaughtered. Six months of people driven from their homes, schools, churches, hospitals, and shelters bond. We all remember it. We all watch it.

It's still going on. It is almost unimaginable and it is going on today. Missile strikes across the country, but this is how it began. Watch this.


Here's our breaking news. Vladimir Putin announcing a special military operation claiming to protect Donbas. I've learned now that we have Matthew Chance. Matthew Chance is going to join us now from Kyiv.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I tell you what, I just heard a big bang right here behind me. I thought we shouldn't have done the live shot here.


LEMON: Wow. Six months, right, when it started on this program just a couple minutes from now. CNN reporters risking their lives out in the war zone, bearing witness to what Putin's war has done and is still doing and to the bravery of the people of Ukraine.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can see many of these people are elderly.


You can see them. People are so exhausted. They can barely walk.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just down the road I meet Nina Tutalyu (Ph) who seems like a sweet 71-year-old grandmother. By the way, Nina says that if she saw Vladimir Putin, she would strangle him with her own hands right now. "I'm ready, she says, if by God, the Russians come here, I'll shoot them all and my hands won't even shake after a grenade."

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: An air strike hit a bond shelter hiding hundreds beneath a theater, this satellite image from two days earlier showing the building, standing with children written large outside.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now we're trying to get out of this area as quickly as possible. Our other car completely destroyed.

UNKNOWN: Their clothes, their belongings, and in some cases, their restraints all indicate these people were a threat to no one in the moments before they were killed.


LEMON: I'll never forget what I saw myself, the people who lost everything in the brutal assaults and the cities under siege.


LEMON: Dorina Rusinova (Ph) was at her mother's house outside Kharkiv when Russian bombardment grew closer.

UNKNOWN: Everything was doing this year.

LEMON: Shaking.

UNKNOWN: Yes, yes. It was shaking. We were laying on the ground and like praying we would be safe and alive.

LEMON: After taking cover with her mother and neighbors they emerged to destruction.

UNKNOWN: Everything is bombed. A lot of, glasses were broken. Garage was entirely blown off.

LEMON: And this is really, really close to downtown Lviv. And there doesn't appear to be any strategy. And it's the exact opposite of what the Russian officials were saying yesterday that they were going to somehow limit what they were doing in this country.


LEMON: And this is Ukraine Independence Day. And on this Ukraine Independence Day the country is still under assault every single day. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is saying at least 22 people are dead tonight after another attack on another train station, including an 11-year-old child.

Tonight, we're going to dig into the big question, who is winning this war. What does it all mean for the United States, and quite frankly, the world, and where is it all going next?


Let's get straight to CNN's senior international correspondent Sam Kiley who is live for us in Kyiv tonight. Also, CNN military analyst, general Wesley Clark, the former Supreme allied commander of NATO and CNN military analyst, Colonel Cedric Leighton.

Good evening to all of you. Thank you for joining me this evening.

Sam, we're going to start with you, because you are back in Ukraine, the country just marked their Independence Day today. The war they're still bloody, still brutal. And just today, at least 22 people killed in an attack on a train station. Where are we six months in, Sam?

KILEY: Well, from the perspective of the Ukrainian defense minister, whom I spoke to in the last 36 hours, he said the worst is behind them. It's difficult to imagine that a few hours later we hear and see the results of yet another attack on a civilian train, as you say, 22 people dead.

But he's saying that because Kyiv was nearly captured and the Ukrainian armed forces managed to drive the Russians away from Kyiv. They drove them away from Kharkiv and they're holding the line in the east and south of the country. They did lose Mariupol.

But since then, the Ukrainians have not quite regained the initiative, but they are holding the line as the United States and other partners other allies are rushing weapons to the Ukrainians.

Not enough they say, and not of it -- not as sophisticated enough, not powerful enough to make the difference, but they are confident, they say that they will eventually get the weapons that they need to actually win this battle. So, what they're really trying to avoid, Don, is a stalemate. Don?

LEMON: It's interesting to see you there. It's almost in the exact same position that Matthew Chance is in the night that this all started six months ago. Sam, standby.

Let me bring in Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel, you were here throughout the beginning of this war at this position that you're in now at the magic wall for us. So, take us through how this war has changed, and you know, at the start it seemed imminent that Kyiv might fall, that did not happen.


LEMON: Is it clear who is winning and who is losing at this point?

LEIGHTON: Well, Don, it's not exactly clear, but there are several reasons for that. You know, as Sam mentioned, you know, when you look at the beginning of this war on 27th of February, so we're talking three days after the initial invasion, the Russians are already at Kyiv at the capital. They were almost there. They're almost ready to surround Kharkiv.

And it seemed obvious that they were going to take both of those cities. They were also going to move into the south, this area right here, those new Russian territories that they were taking. Move to the 13th of March. This is a blow up of the area right around Kyiv. This is the Antonov airport. The Russians captured that.

It looked like they were going to do a classic move to around this way and around this way, to capture Kyiv. They already had the northeastern suburbs, the northwestern suburbs, all they needed to do in theory was to go around this way. And this way to capture the south, but they didn't do that.

They had that huge convoy that came basically through this area right here, that convoy was destroyed by the Ukrainians and they were able to in essence, take things in a completely different direction. And the big surprise was that all the stuff that had been red now north of Kyiv, it's all yellow. That meant Ukrainians had captured it by the 30th of April.

And they'd also made some moves around Kharkiv, which allowed for that city to have at least a little bit of breathing space. So, when it comes to these kinds of things, they did an amazing job. And then you get to the 24th of August today, the 31st Independence Day of Ukraine. And you look here, there is basically Ukrainian control here. You've got Ukrainian control around Kharkiv.

You've got some pockets of Ukrainian control that is moving forward to the south, a potential southern invasion perhaps. And they've kept Odessa, which is also incredibly important. That's Ukraine's major port. The fact that they have done this is a significant achievement considering what they have and what they don't have. And it really shows that the Ukrainians have brought themselves together in a very meaningful way, Don.

LEMON: Yes. General Clark, remember, you know, when we talked about this. Would the American people, the American president would we keep the interest, we keep up, you know, keep giving supplies and much needed resources to the Ukrainian people, to the Ukrainian president.

President Biden announcing a nearly $3 billion security assistance package just today. Everything from additional surface to air missiles, ammunition, to funding for training. Is Ukraine getting what it needs, especially to, you know, to keep to hold what they're doing right now and to win?


WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, they're getting what they need right now to hold. They don't have, and they're not getting what they need to really clear the Russians out and set the conditions for a successful diplomatic end to the war. The Ukrainian objective is to get the Russians out of Donbas and out of Crimea and to regain first that area around Kherson Oblast and Zaporizhzhia.

To do that they've got to have a mobile armored force. They've got to have armored fighting vehicles. They've got to have mobile artillery. They've got to have some greater air power. They don't have enough. They -- it's just not there yet. They've got tanks. They don't have the fighting vehicles. They don't have enough artillery that's mobile.

And, Don, what we're not covering is they're holding the line in Donbas at a tremendous cost. They've got their territorial defense brigades in there, 13 of them. And they're taking casualties, 100 casualties a day every day. They don't have the counter battery capability in Donbas because they don't have aammunition for the 152 artilleries.

So, they've done a remarkable job. They need everything we've given them. We need to give them more, but we may not have it either. We're going to have to really retool the U.S. industrial base. This is a long-term problem. It's unless something happens catastrophically to the Ukrainians. They're going to see this fight continue into next year. They're going to continue pushing into next year and the Russians will be rebuilt and back.

LEMON: Goodness. Goodness. This has worldwide ramifications. Sam, you know, there's a -- they grow crops there, wheat, that's all in jeopardy right now or has been in jeopardy and into the future as well. What has the impact of this war been on the global economy? It's had a huge effect on energy and food supplies.

KILEY: Well, it's had a massive effect, particularly in Europe, inside the European Union and the United Kingdom, other countries in the west of Europe all dependent or nearly dependent on oil and gas from Russia. So prices have been storming up ever since the invasion, in fact, before the invasion.

I mean, an inflation rate in the United Kingdom is recently reported to soon to be nudging around 18 percent, 18 percent inflation in the United Kingdom, similar figures elsewhere in Europe. And the same thing has happened with food stuffs that has had a very severe effect.

I was in northern Kenya a few weeks ago, Don, where the evidence there, you wouldn't imagine that northern Kenya would be affected by war in Europe, but sure enough food prices there have troubled or quadrupled basic food stuffs like maize, which are produced here in Ukraine and in Russia, but in Ukraine in huge quantities. When that food supplies disrupted people start dying and start suffering as far as way as a Horn of Africa.

The World Food Programme predicting or warning that 22 million people could be in danger there. Most of that is, well, there are two reasons for that, drought and then the combination of drought with massive increases in food prices. Right across the globe the United States been very, very severely affected by this too.

So, this is a war. It may be contained on Ukrainian territory but it's affecting everybody, Don.

LEMON: General Clark, according to the U.N., United Nations, as of August 22nd, there have been more than 5,500 civilians confirmed killed, nearly 7,900 confirmed injured. And it is believed that those figures are even higher.

And according to the Pentagon, Russia has had between 70,000 to 80,000 casualties in this conflict. That human toll on this census war is just horrible.

CLARK: It is horrible. And Don, it's even worse if you look at these filtration camps that the Russians have set up. We believe there's something like 260,000 to 300,000 children who've been taken from their parents, their Ukrainian parents, and given to other people all across Russia as part of destroying the Ukrainian civilization.

So, this is like a complete effort to destroy a culture and a people. Now the civilian casualties are probably low. We really haven't gotten into Mariupol. We really don't know what's happening in these filtration camps. We know that people have been detained if they have tattoos or if they were connected with the Ukrainian defense forces.

We know that traditional Soviet practice before this was to shoot them and we don't know what's happened to those people. Probably they've been eliminated. So, we may find out the toll is much, much, much greater.


But here's the point. This is genocide on a scale that we haven't seen since World War II in Europe, we cannot forget that.

LEMON: Yes, a very important point. Colonel, you know, Ukraine says that Russia's military has killed three and detained 26 nuclear power plants, power plant workers in Zaporizhzhia. That was that -- that is since March. And Zelenskyy says that Russia has put the world on the brink of radiation catastrophe. What's the latest there.

LEIGHTON: So, Don, the latest is, you know, when you look at the map right here, this is where Zaporizhzhia is this area right here, six nuclear reactors, right, in this area. You have another nuclear power plant that has three nuclear reactors. This one in the northwest along with Rivne Power Plant. And of course, the famous, more or less infamous, Chernobyl Power Plant, which is offline.

So that one is not affected in terms of the power generation capacity. But what is happening here, especially in Zaporizhzhia is I think really important because the Russians control this one. And what they're doing, Don, is they are making it impossible for the Ukrainians to move into this area because they are, in essence, holding the plant hostage.

As you mentioned, they're killing or wounding people that are associated with this power plant, they are capturing others. It is in essence, an area where there is a great fear that they're going to damage the nuclear power plant. And as a result, that radiation would then leak out into the surrounding area. And depending on the prevailing winds, that radiation could not only affect Ukraine but could also go into Russia and into Belarus and other parts of Europe.

So that's the kind of thing that we're dealing with. And that's why the U.N. is very much against what the Russians are doing right here in terms of at least the U.N. leadership and also the Western powers, including the United States have asked the Russians to vacate this area.

LEMON: All right. Colonel, General, and Sam, thank you very much. I appreciate.

So, is overturning Roe coming back to bite the GOP? I'm going to speak with a Democrat who beat a moderate Republican by making abortion rights a center of his campaign. That's next.

Plus, Uvalde's school -- schools police chief fired tonight.


UNKNOWN: You are not going to slip this under the rug.


UNKNOWN: You're not. All of you are incredible.



LEMON: OK. So, if you're thinking about what happens, you know, in the midterms, what happens maybe come 2024. This story, we'll watch because it may be an indicator for you. Democrats pulling off a big victory in one New York swing district. Pat Ryan defeating moderate Republican Marc Molinaro in a special election for the state's 19th congressional district seat.

Now Ryan casting his campaign as a referendum on Roe, focusing on the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. His campaign team releasing this ad just hours after the court's decision. Here it is.


UNKNOWN: Pat Ryan graduated from West Point and risked his life in combat. He fought for our families for our freedom.

PAT RYAN (D-NY), CONGRESSMAN-ELECT: And freedom includes a woman's right to choose. How can we be a free country if the government tries to control women's bodies. That's not the country I fought to defend.


LEMON: Well, he's here. Democratic Congressman-elect Pat Ryan joins me. Thank you very much. How are you doing?

RYAN: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: How do you feel?

RYAN: Exhausted and exhilarated and really, really proud, really proud of the community.

LEMON: Yes. Congratulations. Do you think that your campaign's focus on abortion rights, do you think that played until last night's victory?

RYAN: We centered this campaign on choice and freedom and standing up at an existential moment in our democracy. And we saw the results. And it's just like what we saw, or very similar to what we saw in Kansas when these sorts of guardrails are of democracy are hit and fundamental rights are ripped away from people. Folks stand up and they fight and they rally to this cause. And that, it's powerful.

LEMON: If you -- if you listen to the critics, they'll say, well, this doesn't affect that many people. It's not at the -- it's not a priority for people. You, but you say that on the campaign trail, you saw people crying the night that are crying when that the Dobbs document was leaked. What were you hearing from people on the campaign trail?

RYAN: Dozens of just personal moments of when people heard that I was running -- one story really sticks out, walk into a small business. Gentleman hears I'm running for Congress immediately starts crying and telling me that he and his husband, his husband is black, he is white growing up in a very rural, conservative area.

Their whole lives have struggled and lived in fear and that now they felt this deep sense of dread and fear. And to see him, he owned this story. He's crying in front of his customers, that has just, it just touched this nerve. And Americans get this. They get that even if they may not be immediately directly affected when other Americans are affected in such a profound way, that goes against who we are as a country.

LEMON: Do you think it's fear or do you think it is a desire for moderation or a combination? That for -- because there's so the extremes have taken over.

RYAN: Yes.

LEMON: Right. In this country right now. Do you think it's a sort of, to sort of moderate or do you think it's fear or both?

RYAN: I actually think it's fight. I mean, I think people feel like threats to our democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms are -- have already been ripped away. More might come, LGBTQ rights. I mean, you have hundreds of Republicans voting against access to contraceptives in this country. I mean, that is dark scary stuff.

But in response to that we're actually seeing, I think hope and fight, not in a divisive way but actually in a unifying way. I mean, we talked so much, I've talked so much about freedom, which is this unifying value and a positive empowering value. And people have really come together around that.


LEMON: Well, you know, in blue states like New York abortion rights aren't at risk but they are in other places. What will happen do you think if Republicans take Congress?

RYAN: They've been clear, they want a national abortion ban. So, I think they quite likely are at risk across the country. And I think people have sensed that, not just in Kansas but we saw it right here in New York. That just, it is a, those were seismic, two seismic Supreme Court decisions, putting more deadly weapons on the streets, the same weapons I carried in combat that might now show up at my three-year-old's nursery school. And then a day later, ripping away these hard-won freedoms and rights.

And I think those in combination with January 6th and so many other accumulating things have really been a wakeup call.

LEMON: Do you think -- I've been -- I've been, you know, covering my focus has been democracy. I said democracy is on the ballot for the midterms and coming in 2024. Do you think people will vote like the democracy depends on it?

RYAN: We did last night. I mean, we really did last night --


LEMON: Do you think you won over independent and maybe even some Republican voters?

RYAN: Absolutely. I know we can look at the numbers. We can see that. The number of conversations I had with independents and Republicans who said, I may not agree with you on everything, but this is sort of a deeper foundational thing that's happening. I mean, the ground is absolutely shifting. And I felt that especially in the last few weeks of the campaign.

And then by the way, you add on the fact that we're not only standing up for rights and freedoms, we're delivering relief for people who are feeling great economic pressure.

LEMON: Do you think Republicans are nervous about what happened?

RYAN: I think they're panicked, absolutely panicked. We actually saw this towards the end of our campaign the national Republican Party spent over two and a half million dollars in dark money super PAC ads distorting my record, blatant lies. It didn't work. Going right back to the same playbook.

And so, they're out of -- they have no actual substantive proposals. They go back to division and deception, and thankfully people saw through that.

LEMON: What a time to become an elected politician.

RYAN: We have a lot of work to do.

LEMON: You got a lot of nerve, man. Thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us.

RYAN: Thank you so much.

LEMON: Thank you so much.

RYAN: Thank you.

LEMON: And we are learning more tonight about those documents the former president took with him to Mar-a-Lago. The National Archives asked for two dozen boxes in just about 100 days after he left office. Part of the extensive efforts to get documents returned over the last year and a half. What more are investigators learning? We'll talk about it.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Obviously, nobody is above the law in this country, including ex-presidents.




LEMON: So, the -- this next story that we're going to do stories like this usually get short tripped, right, when there is sort of a correction or an explanation of exactly what happened in a past event that people have put so much weight on, right? Like the whole thing about Hillary's e-mails, it ends up on page 400 of the newspaper instead of the front page, things like that.

So, pay attention to this because this one should not get short tripped. It's very important. We are learning even more about the efforts by the National Archives to retrieve documents from the former president. OK. The Washington Post is reporting that the archives sent an e-mail to Trump's team only a few months after he left office asking for two dozen boxes that hadn't been returned.

Now, even though the archives says that the former White House counsel Pat Cipollone determined that they should be given back and we're just hours away from the deadline for the DOJ to submit redactions for the Mar-a-Lago affidavit before possible release by a federal judge.

So, let's talk about this now. Joining me to discuss attorney George Conway and John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel. So, we're going to talk about that. And we're also going to talk about things that had to do with other reports. OK?

So, George, this e-mail was sent roughly 100 days after Trump left office and it illustrates just how long the archives, how long they were trying to get these documents before the FBI search. I mean, look at, there's a list up on the screen now.

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: Yes, it's a -- it's completely incredible how much he basically stiff armed, Trump stiff armed narrow about these documents. And he so far, he has not articulated or none of -- and none of his lawyers or representatives articulated a coherent defense to the charge that he stole these documents.

And this just -- this just enhances that because it just shows that from the very beginning his own people, Pat Cipollone was told -- had told him, or believed that these documents had to go back and there's just no question they had to go back.

And yet he, you know, took us, took more requests, more meetings, a search, I mean, subpoenas and a search warrant. It's just incredible.

LEMON: So, George, for all the people who are saying, well, he complied. He was trying to work with the archives. He's trying to work with the Department of Justice. To that, you say what?

CONWAY: My -- look, if any of us had taken documents from the White House of this nature, I mean, this was property of the United States. He took it with him. It didn't belong to him. And it, we would've -- we would all have been indicted long ago. I mean, they gave him basically multiple chances to return these materials and he basically stiffed them. And that's part of the reason why I think it's going to be very hard for the Justice Department not to prosecute this.


LEMON: I want you to weigh in, John, because according to this letter from the National Archives the former White House counsel Pat Cipollone signed off saying that these boxes needed to be returned. And we know that he was interviewed by the FBI about the document. So, what could he have told investigators.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What could have Trump told investigators is that he should get, I don't think he spoke to them. And I don't think there is a good explanation. That's one of the reason -- one of the reasons we've not heard anything from the Trump camp that explains why they wanted them.

We've heard rumors that he says I want my documents back. I want them all back. That he has this sort of possessive feeling towards them that they're his, notwithstanding the law. And he was certainly briefed on the law early. We know that from Cipollone. We know that from Feldman, his deputy counsel.

So, there is no good explanation. And when you escalate presidential records to the level of classified and the most classified of documents, then you're playing with fire. And it just makes no sense that he thought he could just stiff them and not get himself in a whole heap of trouble.

Somebody had to tell him that this was espionage. This is obstruction of justice, and he doesn't want to hear it. He seems to think he's Teflon, but I think this one is going to stick.

LEMON: Interesting. George Conway, we are also learning in the reporting some of the unreturned documents like letters between Trump and Kim Jong-un were requested just before the end of the Trump term. Does that speak to intent?

CONWAY: Absolutely. I mean, he knew that these documents had to go back, and he, yet he insisted on taking them. And there's reporting that says that he was the one who called through them the first time before they gave 15 -- before he gave 15 boxes back. I mean, his fingerprints literally and figuratively are on this episode and he's standing. He's out there all alone by himself because all of the people around him who were responsible and sensible life Cipollone and Philbin, they did -- they were ready to do the right thing. And they knew that he had -- he couldn't keep these documents.

And it's, again, it's just sort of like, it's sort of like the extension of the January 6th investigation where the people who are putting, who are giving the evidence that puts him in severe legal jeopardy are his own.

LEMON: Yes. John, this is a story that I was talking about in the intro, right? That should not get short tripped. It's extremely important because, and I want to ask you about, this is a memo. The DOJ released today. It details why Trump wasn't charged with obstructing the Russia probe, and then you have looked at it closely. So, tell us, did Barr let Trump off the hook here.

DEAN: I don't think there's any question that's what happened. In fact, I enjoyed, George's analysis on Twitter earlier that he's looked at it as well. And I think reached the same conclusion that they have twisted the law. This is a bunch of prosecutors doing everything they can not to prosecute. And to do that, they have to read the law in a way that is not normally read.

So, they have given Trump every break. The underlying basis of their conclusion is that there was no underlying crime committed between Trump and the Russians. Therefore, he couldn't really obstruct justice since there was no underlying crime.

But I, you know, that's a very weak reading --


CONWAY: That would've been good news for Richard Nixon.

DEAN: -- of the obstruction laws.

LEMON: George said that would've been good news for Richard Nixon.

DEAN: Yes, absolutely.

LEMON: Yes. George, listen.

DEAN: Absolutely.

LEMON: I really want you to weigh in on here, but I just want to -- it's really important then I want make this clear. Two federal courts involved in getting this memo public concluded that Barr didn't actually rely on it for legal advice, never seriously considered charging Trump, already made up his mind before he commissioned the memo. And that he signed the memo after notifying Congress of his decision to not prosecute Trump. Does that mean Trump potentially should have been prosecuted?

CONWAY: Well, I mean, I have always believed after having read the Mueller report that Trump should have been pro -- that the reason why Trump wasn't prosecuted or the reason why Mueller didn't recommend that Trump was prosecuted was because of the DOJ's longstanding policy that sitting presidents can't be charged with crimes. That they -- that you have to wait until their term is over before you charge them.

And clearly, is what where Mueller was coming from because the evidence laid out in volume two of the Mueller report, showed at least four or five instances of pretty clear obstruction. And that evidence is basically whitewashed in this memo. [22:40:00]

I mean, in a way, this memo is more damning than volume two of the Mueller report because it's so weak.

LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. We'll continue to report this. I really appreciate it.

An hour and a half of deliberating behind closed doors late night -- late tonight, I should say, leading to the Uvalde school board firing police chief Pete Arredondo. We're live there next.


LEMON: This just in to CNN. The Uvalde, Texas school board voting unanimously tonight to fire school district police chief Pete Arredondo. He has been roundly criticized after law enforcement officers waited more than an hour before entering adjoining classrooms and killing the Robb Elementary School shooter in May. Nineteen children and two of their teachers were killed in the attack.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is in Uvalde for us tonight. Shimon, good evening to you. So, can you tell us more about how the school board came to this decision tonight?


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, it's something that took months really and weeks, Don. And it was started after the local Texas, local officials here the congressional officials finished their report, and where they really laid sort of blame on all of law enforcement, but it was this idea that Pete Arredondo was in charge of the scene and he should have taken more action.

Of course, video was released from inside the hallway of the school room of the -- of the school. And then also that body cam footage that was released where you see Pete Arredondo standing around. At one point, trying to negotiate with the gunman.

So, it was all of that that eventually has led us to here. And really, in the end it was really the families and the community that was fighting so hard for accountability. And finally, here, the school board tonight making this decision to fire him.

LEMON: Shimon, I just want to play what we heard from some town residents at the meeting. Here it is.


BRETT CROSS, UNCLE OF UVALDE SHOOTING VICTIM: Our babies are dead. Our teachers are dead. Our (Inaudible) are dead.


CROSS: The least you all can do is show us your respect to do this in the public.

DANIEL MYERS, PASTOR IN UVALDE: You just (Inaudible) another family. If it was one of your children, parents would be wrong right now, but because it's now, you don't care.


LEMON: Listen, obviously parents were outraged that the school board went to a closed session to discuss Arredondo's future. What did you hear from these families?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, we heard a lot of that, the frustration, and it just continues. The fact that there has been no transparency. This school board, Don, I have to tell you, really has now shown any kind of compassion towards these parents. They do these school board meetings. They allow the parents to speak for a few minutes. But there's really no -- just never any apparent kind of compassion.

You know, on Monday there was another school board meeting where the parents were in a room for over three hours. It was a hearing about the superintendent and grievances that were filed against him and the -- they took all of this information that they had the school board and they went behind closed doors while family members sat in the room waiting to find out what was going on.

And then finally, after three hours, they came out and gave some information, but then quickly all ran away. And so, when tonight came, they didn't want that same atmosphere certainly. They wanted things to be open and they wanted it to be discussed for them to hear. But even then, the school board decided because of some rules here that they needed to take it behind closed doors, but they are frustrated, the parents here.

You know, this is one thing that they're getting this accountability or the firing of the police chief. But they want more. They want more school board officials to be held accountable and they also want other school officials to be held accountable. And of course, other law enforcement members.

LEMON: All right. Shimon Prokupecz in Uvalde, Texas. Thank you very much.

A verdict tonight in Vanessa Bryant's case against L.A. County over pictures taken and shared of the crash that killed her husband Kobe Bryant and tens of millions of dollars are being awarded. We're going to tell you just how much, next.



LEMON: A major court victory for Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA star, Kobe Bryant, he and their daughter Gianna were among those killed in the helicopter crash two and a half years ago. Tonight, a federal jury, a federal jury awarding her $16 million in damages after she sued Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies and firefighters for taking photos of the crash scene, including photos of the bodies of those who lost their lives.

Vanessa Bryant cried as the verdict was read and left the courthouse without making a statement. Her co-plaintiff, Christopher Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the crash was awarded $15 million in damages. Both said that the photos of their loved ones caused emotional distress.

Coincidentally, today is Kobe Bryant day in Los Angeles in honor of his amazing career with the Lakers. The team has retired both numbers he wore. And late tonight, Vanessa Bryant posting a photo on Instagram of her husband and daughter with the note all for you. I love you. Justice for Kobe and Gigi. We'll be right back.



LEMON: A potential political shift heading into the midterm elections. Democrats are optimistic tonight after a special election House win in a swing district. The campaign's focus. Abortion rights. Is that the winning playbook in post-Roe America?

Let's bring in now CNN political commentator, Alice Stewart, and political analyst Alex Burns. He is the co-author of the book "This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America's Future."

Good evening one and all. Thank you so much for joining.

Alex, we're going to start with you. We need a reality check on the midterms. Everyone has been anticipating a red wave, but the dynamics certainly seem to have shifted significantly in just the past month. What are you expecting now?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Don, I think there's no question that the circumstances of this campaign have changed substantially since the start of the summer. And it really does help to take a step back, and look at the big picture here.

The president's party almost always does terribly in the midterm elections and Democrats are probably going to have a pretty rough November. But when you think back to where we were at the beginning of June with sky high gas prices, the Biden agenda dead in the water or so it seemed, and the Republican Party, you know, facing different kinds of internal turmoil, but not in a way that was driving the dynamics of the midterm campaign.

Well, that was then and this is now, and I don't think that if you had had that special election in upstate New York early in the summer, I don't know that you would've had the same outcome. Because now what you have is a Democratic base that's more engaged. They feel encouraged by what's happened in Washington with Biden's legislative achievements, legislative achievements of Democrats on the Hill.

You have divisions in the Republican Party much more in the foreground of the campaign. And yes, you mentioned it in the intro, abortion rights moving to the forefront of the midterm debate has been a huge challenge for Republicans. And this election in New York just showed the party still doesn't quite know what to say to voters who are disenchanted from Biden or uncomfortable with Democrats but believe in the right to choose.


LEMON: Go ahead, Alice.

STEWART; Don. I, I think that that race that Alex is talking about, C.D. 19 in New York is a -- it's a bellwether contest. This is the first opportunity we've had in the primary season in a special election to see a Republican versus a Democrat head on.