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Don Lemon Tonight

FBI's Redacted Version Coming Tomorrow; Press Secretary In Defense Of President Biden's MAGA Comment; President Biden Touts His Accomplishments; Words Voters Will Not Like From President Biden; GOP- Led States Banning Abortion Rights; California Bans Gas-Operated Cars By 2035. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 25, 2022 - 22:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Hey, thanks for watching, everyone. I'll be back tomorrow night. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: See, I waited because I knew, I knew, but you don't say hi, Don Lemon, you say, hey, Don Lemon. Who wrote that? Did you write?

COATES: I wanted to throw you for a loop and say it differently. Because you always call me on it. I was going to write it this time. Man.

LEMON: You can't, you can't trick a trickster. You know what? Here's what I have to say.


LEMON: I am -- since -- since Donald Trump has made his way until the political scene, I am always waiting for something. I was waiting for the night of the grab him by the, you know what tape. I was waiting for, I just keep waiting, waiting for, waiting to see if he had COVID what that is just waiting. And now we're waiting for these documents redacted. And what are we going to learn?

Listen, you're a former federal prosecutor. What are we going to learn from a bunch of blacked out spaces?

COATES: Well, listen, I mean, for some, they'll look at it as an inkblot test, right? With all the black, but the reality --

LEMON: The Rorschach , right?

COATES: The Rorschach. In reality, Don, you can learn a lot from what is excluded and what's not said, and remember, all of this cumulatively, it had a federal magistrate judge say, you can go and you can search and execute a search warrant --


LEMON: And that's a high bar.

COATES: -- on Mar-a-Lago. That's a very high bar. They were probably over inclusive. What we'll have, we don't know everything. But what we do know is a search was executed. They took boxes from that particular estate and we didn't really hear a good argument in court from Trump's lawyers as to please, no, stop, which is surprising in and of itself. Hold on. See, you know, what. Hold on. You know what way we say --

LEMON: It says bye, Laura Coates.

COATES: Man. OK. Hold on. Bye. Felicia.

LEMON: I'll see you. I got to get to business. All right, we're going to get in trouble. Thank you, everyone. Thanks for joining us. This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.

So, as I said, we are always waiting for something, right? Aren't you tired of waiting? I hate to be kept waiting, but it won't be long now. It really won't be long. And this is worth waiting for us. Sometime in the next few hours, it looks like that we could learn more about the FBI's search of the former president's Florida resort, but how much.

That is really the big question here. By noon tomorrow, we're going to get a look at the redacted version of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant affidavit. The judge ruling just today that DOJ convinced him, saying the government showed a compelling reason to seal portions of the FBI of the -- excuse me, of the affidavit because, quote, "disclosure would reveal the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, and uncharged parties, the investigation strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods and grand jury information."

But let us not forget what this is all about. It's about a former president who took boxes and boxes of records to his beach resort when he left Washington in disgrace. The FBI found 11 sets of classified documents in that search of Mar-a-Lago. Even after the archives worked all through 2021 to get records back from a former president who once promised this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In my administration, I'm going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information.


LEMON: Well, and we've got new CNN reporting tonight on the turmoil in Trump world over all of this. A source selling CNN, the former president has been asking his allies if they believe he'll be indicted. And there are concerns, his legal trouble now seems worse than ever before.

A source also saying that he is listening to people like conservative activists who got in his ear and told him exactly what he wanted to hear. It's a mistake to let them strong arm you into returning documents and returning records. There's even the report that the archives were so desperate to get

Trump's so-called love letters with Kim Jong-un that they tried to get his team to FedEx them.

And in the face of all of this, President Joe Biden is turning up the heat tonight, telling people at a private fundraiser in Maryland what we're seeing now is, quote, "the death knell of the extreme MAGA philosophy." And comparing it to what he called semi-fascism. And going on to blast the, quote, "defeated former president" and layout an agenda for Democrats as his first political rally ahead of midterm.





BIDEN: We'll ban -- we'll ban assault weapons. We'll protect social security Medicare. We'll pass universal pre-K. We'll restore the childcare tax. We'll protect voting rights. We'll pass election reform and make no -- make sure no one, no one ever has the opportunity to steal an election again.


LEMON: I just -- I was just thinking if they had to like wrangle the blacks for Biden people and put them in there behind Joe Biden. You know, who does that? OK.

Well, tonight, I'm going to talk with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. That is just a hit. So, make sure you stay tuned.

But I want to get to CNN's senior legal analyst, Elie Honig, and former federal state prosecutor Brandon Van Grack.

Good evening, gentlemen. Thank you so much for joining us.

Elie, I'm going to start with you. The Mar-a-Lago affidavit less than four hours after the DOJ submitted their proposed redactions. The judge gave it to -- gave it the green light to be released to the public.

Now, we're going to see by noon tomorrow what happens here, how much we get if the redacted things pertaining to witnesses and the ongoing investigation or grand jury investigation. What are -- what are we going to learn you in your estimation?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Don, you are right to expect a lot of black redaction ink. And indeed, DOJ will be blacking out a lot of the most important information, the most sensitive information about witnesses, about ongoing investigation.

However, Laura Coates is also correct when she says we are still going to learn quite a bit from this affidavit tomorrow. Here's some things I'm looking at. First of all, I think we are going to get chapter and verse on the whole protracted negotiation between archives and DOJ on the one hand and the Trump team on the other.

We've seen some really good reporting on that. Now we're going to get it rock solid. Just how long, just how many times they tried to do it the nice way before they had to go and with a search warrant.

Also, I'm looking to see if there's any description of the documents that DOJ and archives got back from Mar-a-Lago before the search warrant. Because remember they got some documents back before they went in and did that search warrant.

And finally, there could be pieces of this investigation that are no longer active, that don't require confidentiality. So, we could get some sense of what the confident -- of what the investigation is. So, we will see in sometime in the next 13 hours and 53 minutes, not that anyone is counting.

LEMON: So, Brandon, listen, it's interesting because nothing that has come out has been good for team Trump or Trump and his legal team and his supporters, nothing has been good so far. The previously released documents revealed three federal crimes the Justice Department was looking at as part of their investigation.

Violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and the criminal handling of government records. You have personally investigated dozens of cases involving the Espionage Act. So, what will you be looking for in this affidavit as it -- as it pertains to possible violations?

BRANDON VAN GRACK, PARTNER, MORRISON & FOERSTER LLP: Well, I think there's going to be more meat on the bones than I probably would've predicted last week based in part on not just the fact that there's been a lot of reporting and disclosures in the last week.

But the fact that the judge so quickly agreed to the redactions that the Department of Justice proposed would suggest that in fact, the department really was more narrowly tailored. But I think that there's going to be some substance there. And the first thing I look at --


LEMON: So, tell me, why do you -- before -- I'm going to let you finish that, but why do you think there's going to be more meat on the bones?

VAN GRACK: Well, just to be clear, most of it will be blacked out.


VAN GRACK: But the Department of Justice even in their argument conceded, there are parts of this that would not negatively impact the investigation. And that was a week ago. And in the past week, we've seen communications with the archives and other disclosures. We've also seen the filing from President Trump and his attorneys to stop the search and impose a special master.

So, so I think the reality is there will more substance in there than I think we would normally expect to see.

LEMON: So, I interrupted you. Did you get your point across? You said number one and what --


VAN GRACK: Well, so in a search warrant the -- one of the -- the first parts of it is it talks about the laws that that may have been violated and the elements of the offense. And though some of that will just simply be a recitation of the law. There will be descriptions there. And in particular, with respect to the law concerning the mishandling of classified information. It's title 18 United States Code 793.

There are a lot of parts to it. And there are parts that actually concerned espionage in the -- in the -- and by espionage, I mean the actual transmission or disclosure of classified information. And thus far, the department has indicated it's focused on retention just the handling of it, but it's going to be interesting to see if they describe it and how clear they are. It's just retention.

And there's one other piece, which is the law -- the law that I mentioned, there's this other section that's very seldomly investigated or prosecuted, 793F. It concerns gross negligence and it was actually at issue in the Clinton investigation. And it'll be interested to see if in fact, they mention it.


I don't think they will, but if they do, it would signal that this investigation is sort of broader than I would've anticipated.

LEMON: Well, let me just ask you because you said you think it's most of it's going to be redacted. You think it'll be black, right. But there's going to be plenty of redactions. But the length, will the length of the document offer any clues as to how extensive this investigation is? Like, if it's a long one or if it's a short one or what do you think?

VAN GRACK: I think that's right. I think the length is another key piece here. Now, you know, search warrants can be anywhere from a dozen to, you know, 70 or 80 pages. And I think, especially when we talk about the factual recitation of an investigation that the department itself has said is only in its very early stages.

If we're talking about dozens and dozens of pages of factual information that is in part redacted, I think it's going to confirm that there's a lot of information that we don't know. In fact, that department keeps stressing in these arguments before this judge, there are specific investigative techniques that have been utilized that they're intending to continue to utilize in their investigation.

We don't -- we don't know what that is. We can speculate, but we don't know. And so, I think the more pages we see of even redactions, the more confirmation that this is a well-developed investigation.

LEMON: Elie Honig, what about the urgency? I mean, something clearly happened to prompt the DOJ to move to this urgency or stage in this investigation. Will that would be any clues about that?

HONIG: Well, Don, so it's important to understand, legally all that DOJ has to do to justify this search warrant is show that they establish probable cause of those crimes and that a federal judge approve that. We know that that happened, but of course there's more than the legalities involved here. There's the politics of it.

One of the main complaints that Donald Trump has raised is why did they just go to this sort of extreme step of the search warrant? And I think tomorrow when we see this affidavit, I think they're going to lay out in detail the entire history of negotiations.

And Don, every time we see new reporting about this, we learn that the whole negotiation was longer and longer and extended back farther and farther in time. In fact, we learned earlier that it even started when Donald Trump was still in office.

LEMON: Still in office.

HONIG: That Pat Cipollone acknowledged, right.

LEMON: Elie --

HONIG: That these documents are supposed to go over.

LEMON: It was simply isn't the retention of classified, highly classified documents to the -- to the highest levels, some of the highest levels. Isn't that enough to have a search and seizure of regardless of who it is. I mean, shouldn't that just be enough? No?

HONIG: Absolutely. That's one of the three statutes that DOJ used. They brought to a federal judge. They established --


LEMON: So, then, what's the point of all of this?

HONIG: -- probable cause. And that was one of the bases for the search warrant.

LEMON: So, yes.

HONIG: So, well, you got, first of all, you have to get the documents back. And second of all, I think having probable cause is one thing.

LEMON: No, no. What I'm saying is --


HONIG: But as DOJ has said --


LEMON: What I'm saying is, you're saying that they have to justify it. The fact that he has these documents and has not turned them over, isn't that enough to have them go in and get them?

VAN GRACK: So, I think --

LEMON: OK, go ahead, Brandon.

VAN GRACK: Yes, I think there are two pieces of that, which is there's the technical answer and the answer in terms of what justified the search here, which technically this, the law that in terms of the Espionage Act is the retention of national defense information, classified information.

So, in theory, that would be enough. That's not what happened here, which even after the Department of Justice learned about the classified information they communicated with the former president's attorneys and they issued a subpoena.

This was a cooperative engagement. And I think it signals that if that's all that happened, if the department of justice in June, when they went to Mar-a-Lago, obtain the rest of the classified documents, I don't think we would be talking about a search warrant.

LEMON: Right.

VAN GRACK: I think it's possible we wouldn't be talking about criminal charges. Something happened and we don't know what that is, but something happened. And it seems to be related to this obstruction charge that fundamentally changed the nature of this investigation.

And until we know what that is, ultimately, we don't know the strength of the invest -- of the case. We don't know the likelihood, but something was serious enough that it led to this unprecedented search of a former president's residence.

LEMON: Elie, you want to do the math again? How long will it be before we find out? You're better at math than I am.

HONIG: Thirteen minutes and 47 -- 13 hours, 47 minutes.

LEMON: Thank you, guys. I really appreciate it. I learned a lot. Thanks so much. I'll see you soon.

VAN GRACK: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: President Biden back in the campaign trail tonight blasting what he calls the defeated former president and MAGA Republicans and calling MAGA Republicanism semi-fascism. The White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. She's standing by on the White House lawn right now. She's going to tell us what that means after the break.



LEMON: So, on these sorts of big stories, we're always happy to have to get direct contact. You hear directly from the people in the White House. You can't hear from the president. Then you want to hear from the press secretary, which is what you're about to hear from. So, stay tuned.

President Biden making his first major campaign speech as the midterm elections rapidly approached. President touting his accomplishments and blasting what he calls MAGA Republicans.

So, joining me now, the White House press secretary Karine Jean- Pierre. Karine, thank you. I really appreciate you joining us.

This is important issues that we're going to talk about, especially when it comes to, student loans. OK?


LEMON: So, let's start with what --


JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: Let's start with what the president said at a fundraiser tonight just before his rally. The president like what he called extreme MAGA philosophy to semi-fascism. What exactly is semi-fascism, Karine?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, let me just first say this tonight what you heard from this president, Don. And again, thank you for having me. Because this is really important.

The American people have a choice in front of them and the president laid that out very clearly, very powerfully tonight. When you look at what Democrats are doing and what they are delivering and what they have done, Don, in less than -- in less than two years, which is lowering cost on prescription drugs, lowering the energy cost. Making sure that we have this historic legislation for to really deal with climate crisis.

All of these things are important. Standing up for women.

LEMON: And they are.

JEAN-PIERRE: Standing up for where majority --


LEMON: Karine, I want to get to all those things.

JEAN-PIERRE: -- of women are.

LEMON: With all due respect. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, but I --

LEMON: We have a short time. I'm going to get to all those things. But I just, if you'll answer my question we can get to those things.


JEAN-PIERRE: I am. I am.

LEMON: What exactly is semi-fascism.

JEAN-PIERRE: I'm about, Don. Don, I was just about to get to your question.


JEAN-PIERRE: I really was.

LEMON: All right.

JEAN-PIERRE: But I want to, you -- you brought me on the show for a reason and I have to talk about --


LEMON: I understand that. I just have limited time with you.

JEAN-PIERRE: -- what the president talked about tonight. Wait.

LEMON: I just want to make sure we get all the answer.

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, by having this back and forth we are actually taking away from the time. So here we go. So, what we are seeing from Republicans and what we have seen from Republicans these past several years is that they are attacking our democracy. They are taking away our freedom, and they are trying to put on the chopping blocks, Medicare and social security.

That's what we are seeing. And it's being done. If you look at the Republican Party it's being done by this element that this MAGA element of the Republican Party. And that's what we are trying to prevent. That's what you heard from the president today that choice, what we are doing for Democrats, because that's why I said that to you. I started off because I wanted to show what we're doing and what we have done and also make that contrast.

Because that's what we're seeing from, again for Republicans, this MAGA element. And we're going to continue to make that choice. We're going to make sure that we're making it very clear for the American people. And that's what the president did tonight --


JEAN-PIERRE: -- in Maryland. And he's going to continue to do that across the country. LEMON: Thank you for answering that question. Now let's talk about

the accomplishments because the president touted his administration's move on student loans at tonight's rally. The administration believes that the student -- the loan relief plan that it's going to be fully paid.

So, can you lay out how much of this is going -- how much this is going to cost, where the money is coming from, Karine.

JEAN-PIERRE: So, OK. I'm happy to have that conversation. Our team did crunch some numbers. And so, I'm going to start here. I know you want me to get to the answer. So, assuming that 75 percent of folks who take -- take us on the president student loan cancellation plan.

And you look at the average monetary, the average cash flow on that. It's going to be about $24 billion per year. Now, just to give you a little bit of context, that $24 billion a year, that is about 3 percent of what we spend on the military. That's just a tiny, tiny fraction. And if you hear what the Wall Street folks said, Goldman Sachs, they said this today, it will have a minor, minor effect. A minor, minor effect on this plan on what we're seeing currently, what the president announced.

And the thing that's important here too, the president has a little bit more of a fiscal breathing room because of that $1.7 trillion deduction that we will see at the end of this fiscal year, which is so important because at the end of the day, what the president is trying to do and wants to do, just to cut through this noise, he wants to make sure that we are delivering for millions and millions of Americans.

This plan is going to help 90 percent, 90 percent of Americans that is making less than $75,000 a year. That matters. That is going to be a game changer, a game changer for Americans who want to buy a home, Americans who potentially want to start a family, give them that breathing room that is so needed at this time.

LEMON: OK. So, you said that that they've crunched the numbers. Is the White House going to release a cost estimate at some point so that the American people can see exactly what you're saying and what the numbers crunchers are saying.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, we've talked about that. Look, this is -- this is something -- what the other piece of this too, is we're going to see, as I said, assuming people take us up on this student debt relief plan that the president put forth.

That's why I said assuming 75 percent. So, we're -- we are going to share what that's going to look like. Wanted to give you a little of what we're thinking of and how this is going to move forward. And, you know look, Don, this is so important for American families. This is also, as you were asking me about what the president said earlier today about, what Republicans are doing.

If you think back in 2017, I believe we probably had this conversation on your -- so what they -- what Republicans did in this past previous -- the previous administration in 2017, that $2 trillion tax cut that they gave to the wealthy. And it did nothing for Americans that were making less than 75,000. What it did is that 85 percent of that helped Americans making more

than 75,000.

This is a clear contrast and so different than what we're trying to do. And the president said, and this is a campaign promises that the president made. He wanted to make sure, making sure that as he's giving this $10,000 cancel, student debt --


JEAN-PIERRE: -- cancelation relief which he actually exceeded. He wanted to make sure we did this in a fiscally responsible way and a balanced way.

LEMON: OK. And that's why we have you here to talk about that. So listen, in his speech, let's talk about other issues as well. You want to talk about accomplishments and other things that are on the table here.


In his speech the first issue the president said was at stake in these midterm elections. And you talked about it just moments ago and that was a woman's right to choose. Let's listen to what else he said and then we'll discuss.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, absolutely.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Just take a look what happened since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In red states after red state there's a race to pass the most restrictive abortion limitations imaginable, even without exception for rape or incest.

But these MAGA Republicans won't stop there. They want a national ban. They want to pass the legislative national ban in the Congress. If the MAGA Republicans win control of the Congress, it won't matter where you live. Women won't have the right to choose anywhere. Anywhere.


LEMON: So, Karine, you saw what happened in New York, it was last night, night before in the bellwether, you know, county here, a Democrat actually won. I spoke with Pat Ryan who was -- is now the congressman-elect. He was candidate. I spoke with him last night. He's a New York Democrat who won this special House election campaigning on abortion rights.

Should the White House take more of a lead role in the push to protect abortion rights leading up to the midterms? Because I am. sure I don't need to tell you that there has been criticism that the administration hasn't done enough on this. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I want to be careful about talking about the midterm elections or any elections in that fact, in that matter, especially in this role in this administration, we respect the Hatch Act.

Look, here's something that I can say that Democrats have been doing. And the president talked about this when the Dobbs decision came back, back in June, came down in June, which is like, we have to do everything that we can, we have to make sure our voices are being heard. Because we have to fight for women's reproductive rights. We have to fight for our freedom.

And what you are seeing is just that. You're seeing majority of Americans who are standing up and saying we have to make sure that we say no to what we are seeing across the country. These national -- this is going to be what Republicans want to do is a national ban. These are coming from Republican legislators.

So, we have been fighting, Democrats have been fighting tooth and nail to protect women's rights, women's reproductive rights. And we're going to continue to do that. The president took bold actions on the day that decision was made. He's going to continue to speak to that, continue to make sure that --

LEMON: Are you --

JEAN-PIERRE: -- we -- what you heard tonight continue to have those conversations and talk to majority of Americans --


JEAN-PIERRE: -- who stand, who he stands with, who Democrats stand with.

LEMON: Let me --

JEAN-PIERRE: I'm on. We got --


LEMON: I know you're on.

JEAN-PIERRE: I'm on, we just got to have this conversation. LEMON: Listen.

JEAN-PIERRE: We got to --

LEMON: Karine, we always had this relationship --


LEMON: -- that you and I go back and forth --


LEMON: -- about is just an honest relationship. So don't read anything into this -- JEAN-PIERRE: Yes.

LEMON: -- with anybody.


LEMON: So, OK. Listen, but listen, codifying Roe, Karine, has always --


LEMON: -- I mean, it has all but fizzled out now. Does the president want to see this pass before the midterms in the Senate? Is there going to be any work to do that?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, what the president had said is in order, he will take actions and he has taken both actions. We have announced that over the past several short months during the summer. And so he has taken, he's taken leadership on it.

What the president has been very clear in order to codify to make sure Roe is law is that Congress has to take action and the American people have to make sure, again, that the voices are heard.


JEAN-PIERRE: And so that is the message that we have been very clear about and we're going to continue to make sure that we, you know, we talk to the American people on that. So, we continue to galvanize folks to make sure that we protect, we got to protect women's rights. These are -- this is an issue that is putting women's lives in danger. And we got to know what's at stake here.


JEAN-PIERRE: This is a choice.

LEMON: I want -- I've got to ask you about this.


LEMON: Because as we're sitting here waiting for this, you know, the affidavit, redacted affidavit to be released, I got to ask you about this investigation to these classified documents. It kept the former president -- kept at former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

Seeing this reporting that Biden's White House counsel's office at some point defer to the National Archives for determination on how to handle Trump's protective assertions of privilege, or what have you, over these documents. Who in the White House knew about this investigation? Because the president has been adamant that he knew nothing. He got no warning about it.

JEAN-PIERRE: So, those are two different things. So let me just say that for a second. Look, when it comes to the investigation, the search that we saw recently that you all have reported on, we have been very clear on this. The president was not briefed. No one at the White House was briefed. We are not briefed on investigation.


Remember what the president has said during the campaign and he has said as president, he wanted to make sure that we restore, restore the independence of the Department of Justice. He has been clear about that, especially when it comes to investigations.

We do not comment. We do not interfere and we do not get briefed. So, when it comes to the investigation itself, we are just not going to comment. What we're --


LEMON: So, are you saying that he didn't know about the actual, that there would -- there would be a search warrant carried out because he did have to know about it, about the documents being there because he had to sign off on the -- giving the archives --


JEAN-PIERRE: Again, two different things. Right?


JEAN-PIERRE: We did not --


LEMON: I just want to make.

JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no. We did not know. Again, I'm just going to repeat myself.

LEMON: But you knew about -- you knew that you had to know that the --

JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, the --

LEMON: -- that it was there or that they were missing because he signed off on giving the archives the authority --

JEAN-PIERRE: No, but you --

LEMON: -- on the executives to make a decision, the counsel's office, excuse me.

JEAN-PIERRE: Don, just to be very -- no, just to -- I just want to make sure we separate the two, right. When it comes to the actual, the search.

LEMON: Right.

JEAN-PIERRE: When it comes to the comments that the attorney general made recently, I believe it was last week. We did not know about that. We learned about that from your reporting. LEMON: I understand.

JEAN-PIERRE: Now, the letter that's something totally different. What we did is we deferred, we deferred to the Department of Justice. I'm going to leave the letter to let the letter speak for itself. That is the national archivist. They've made that decision with the Department of Justice.

Again, we gave them, we gave them -- we deferred that to the National Archivist.

LEMON: Who is we? Who knew about it at the White House?

JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just telling you the -- our -- the White House. I'm not -- I don't have specific names or specific the White House deferred that to the national archivist. It's in the letter. It's very clear in the letter. People can -- it's out there. You guys have shown the letter. They could, folks can take a look.

Again, when it comes to the investigation, when it comes to the investigation and the search, when it comes to attorney general making his remarks, we do not get involved. We do not -- we do not get briefed. And we did not know about that particular -- about that in -- about that investigation.

So again, I, we have said this, I know there's a lot of interest in this, but the president has been very clear. We -- we are -- he does not want to politicize the Department of Justice. He wants to do this very differently. He wants to make sure that they have the independence when it comes to investigation.

Again, we've been very, very clear about that. When it comes to the letter, I refer people to the letter. I refer people to the Department of Justice. The letter is very clear that we deferred that to them.

LEMON: So, Karine, we love having you on, and we love that you're very -- that we go back and forth. I love your candor and we -- you're invited to come on every, as often as you like. We'd also like to have the president on, it's been a long time since I've interviewed him and spoken to him or at a town hall.

So, I know he'll be watching this interview. And so, Mr. President, if you want to come on, we'd love to have you. And Karine, will you please relay that to the president?

JEAN-PIERRE: I will relay that to the president, Don. Thank you so much for having me. It's always a -- it's always a good time.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much.

JEAN-PIERRE: Have a good night.

LEMON: We appreciate it. You as well.

JEAN-PIERRE: All right. OK. Ba-bye.

LEMON: Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House spokesperson.

President Biden calling out MAGA Republicans multiple times tonight. Will keeping the heat up for the next 75 days pay off? We'll talk about it.



LEMON: President Biden hitting the campaign trail tonight. The president touting his accomplishments in office and targeting Republicans for not supporting his agenda.

Let's bring in now CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod, also CNN political commentator, Alice Stewart, and CNN political analyst Astead Herndon. He's sitting right here. Astead, sorry. I stumble over Astead's name. I've known him for years.

Good evening, everyone. Thanks for joining.

So, let's see if this is as spicy as the last interview. David Axelrod, the president zeroing in on MAGA Republicans saying that they are a threat to democracy, even calling it semi-fascism. What's he doing there?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think this has to be a contrast. The reason that parties in power, Don, generally lose seats in a midterm election is that they are treated as a referendum on the incumbent and people who have grievances tend to be more motivated.

The reason that Democrats have drawn closer in some of the polling recently is because this has become more of a contrast, the Dobbs decision, the mass shootings, the January 6th hearings. And Trump's reemergence and the nomination of all these far-right candidates have given a sense of unease to independent voters, swing voters.

And the contrast between the Democratic Party and the accomplishments, particularly lately, the legislative accomplishments and that image of the Republican Party is the key for Democrats to win in this election. And it's smart to drive that.

You know, I have some corals with, or just, you know, reservations about some of the ways in which he went at it in this particular speech, but the fact that he's drawing a contrast, I think is very important.

LEMON: Well, Astead, he seems to be, you know, sort of ratcheting up the energy and the language moving closer to the midterms. Obviously strategic. Do you disagree with that?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I do think it's strategic. And I do think that this has been an escalation from the White House. I mean, you have seen the White House really go from calling it extreme MAGA to now this kind of semi-fascist language.


This is escalating clearly from President Biden. But I do think it's about contrast, as David said. I mean, the problem for Democrats here is even with this improved political landscape, even with the energy that they have after the Dobs decision. They still have an uphill structural challenge in the House of Representative just because of the way those maps are drawn.

Now, this environment has looked much better for them on fundraising, on the type of issues voters are talking about, in terms of people being motivated against those Senate candidates that Trump has put forward, that has improved their chances in the Senate.

But when we talk about the House, when we talk about those state legislatures, Democrats are going to need that sort of atypical midterms year to really be able to overcome their structural disadvantages on that front.

LEMON: And it's interesting though, because the -- I mean the former president isn't on the ballot, but kind of, Alice, you know what I'm talking about. And this president has been calling out the Trump lies, the election denial, the anti-Democratic shift in the GOP for a while. Is this a shift in strategy or just the use of a different term, do you think?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's clearly a shift in strategy and I have concerns about it. And I wish Karine would've answered your question as to what President Biden meant when he called Republicans fastest.

Look, clearly, the new strategy is to call red-blooded conservatives extreme MAGA Republicans or semi-fascist. Look, if that's his strategy --


LEMON: Semi-fascism.

STEWART: -- that's not --

LEMON: Just so, just to be clear, you what he said.

STEWART: The fact -- the fact is, if that's his strategy to use those terms as the calling us the new deplorables, that's going to do nothing more than it's going to embolden Republicans. It's going to turn off independents it's not going to do anything to really drive home his message that he of -- he says our accomplishments.

Look, when he insults Republicans in that fashion calling us, again, semi-fascist is what he's calling us. Look, we are conservatives. We want limited government. We want to rein in spending not expand spending. We want to support free markets. We want national security and we want to work on immigration and crime.

And for him to use terms like that to, to really kick off a campaign, that just goes to show that we're headed down a really dark. And I see a concerning campaign season.

LEMON: Alice, I wonder, do you see a distinction between MAGA Republicans and just con -- normal conservative Republicans, because that is a distinction that the president is making. I don't see him calling all Republicans that he's talking about the MAGA Republicans. Do you see -- do you see a distinction there?

STEWART: Well, I never heard him refer to any other kind of Republicans tonight. Every time he referenced them, he said, MAGA Republicans or extreme MAGA Republicans. And look again, this type of name calling is clearly going to be their strategy. I don't see it as a winning formula because at the end of the day, what Americans are looking at, they're looking at historic inflation. They're looking at the fact we're entering a recession.

They're looking at high, home prices, grocery prices, increasing crime, and the economic issues are going to drive the day. And if he wants to sit there and resort to name calling, that's not going to move the needle any at all.

LEMON: David, I'll let you weigh in.

AXELROD: Well, look, I want to partially agree with Alice. I don't think he has to use terms like fascist or near fascist or whatever --

LEMON: Semi-fascism.

AXELROD: -- term he used. I think the extremism of the Republican Party has manifested itself around this Dobbs decision. And the fact that so many Republicans around the country seem willing to impose, you know, the most draconian restrictions even in the most dire of circumstances, that's extreme. Election denial is extreme.

So, you know, those things speak for themselves. I think the president missed an opportunity to better separate the Republicans, the minority of Republicans and the Congress but who laudably worked with him on bills like infrastructure and guns and the CHIPS Act.

I think he should try and drive a wedge between those Republicans and the majority of the party that is now in the thrall of Donald Trump.

LEMON: Yes, he, --

AXELROD: So, he should be careful about brushing, you know, painting with a broad brush, because I think there's an opportunity to get some -- to certainly get independent voters who now are -- we're six months ago they were worried Biden being tugged too far to the left.

They're now worried about the Republican Party being tugged too far to the right. You want to take advantage of that, but you don't do that by being too hyperbolic. The other thing I would say is he - let me -- yes, go ahead, Don. It's your show.

LEMON: No, I was just -- I'm just trying to get Astead in before we run out of time between. I'm -- I was trying to get across to Karine and to you, we only have a very limited amount of time with each of you and everything is important.


But I do want to get Astead in. I mean, he did -- he did talk about Larry Hogan. He did talk about --


LEMON: -- you know, Republicans, you know, that are -- are not, you know, MAGA.


LEMON: Extreme MAGA.

HERNDON: I mean, and I think that's going to be part of the Democratic message too. Biden wants to be someone who has shown himself as reaching across the aisle will point to that infrastructure, will point to that gun's legislation to say that he returned kind of some Washington civility.

But I think this is also a Biden in the White House that understood coming out of a summer where that didn't particularly help his approval. Didn't particularly help the Democratic Party, that those things weren't enough. They had to go at some things alone. I think that's what we've seen over the last couple weeks that have changed their midterms prospects.

LEMON: Thanks, everyone. I appreciate it. Abortion trigger laws in three states going into effect today, restricting healthcare for millions. And in one state doctors could face up to life in prison for providing an abortion. That's next.



LEMON: A slate of restrictive state abortion laws taking effect this week as Republican-led states rush to limit the procedure since the overturning of Roe V. Wade. It is putting access to abortion further out of reach for millions of women and punishing medical providers.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Texas has a tough new code of the west, abortions are now outlawed from the moment of conception with no exception for pregnancies that come from rape or incest. A doctor can provide an abortion but only if it appears a mother will die or be seriously impaired without one. In some cases, providing an illegal abortion could be a first-degree felony.

And in the lone star state, the penalty for that can be life in prison. BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Fifty years ago, in 1972, abortion was just as illegal in Texas as it is -- as it is now today.

FOREMAN: Tennessee has gone a similar direction.

UNKNOWN: We expect a law to be followed.

FOREMAN: With legal protection for fetus starting at fertilization, no exceptions for rape or incest. And for doctors the same tough rule, an abortion is legal only to save a mother's life or prevent serious medical issues. A standard some critics find hopelessly vague.

ASHLEY COFFIELD, CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF TENNESSEE & MISSISSIPPI: The law will make doctors second guess their medical training and expertise when choosing a treatment plan or risk a felony of criminal conviction.

FOREMAN: And then there is Idaho. Rape or incest can legally justify an abortion under the new law there if it is reported to the police, but for doctors, the only legal excuse for abortion is to save the mother's life. Any abortion done to prevent injury or illness to the pregnant patient could wind up in charges against the doctor.

That distinction moved the federal judge to put that part of Idaho's law on hold since federal law says emergency room care must also consider protecting a patient's health, even if she is not in mortal danger.


FOREMAN: It's all evidence of the rapid pace at which many red states are seeking to implement new laws against abortion, stiffen the laws they already have and impose the harshest penalties on those who still think and act as if abortion is a nationwide right. Don?

LEMON: All right, Tom Foreman. Thank you so much.

So, it's official. California regulators voting to ban new gas car sales by 2035. Will other states follow suit?



LEMON: California drawing up a roadmap to a zero emissions future. In an enormous step today, state regulators voting to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.

The move is the culmination of years of work after Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order in 2020 mandating that all cars sold in the state be zero emission by 2035. The landmark plan would start shrinking gas gar sales in phases, requiring 35 percent of all cars, SUVs, and small trucks be zero emissions by 2026, 68 percent by 2030, then all gas cars phase out in 2035. This is one of the first bans of its kind worldwide. And this rule will have an impact beyond California. Many other states are expected to follow with similar plans. Stay tuned.

The redacted affidavit in the Mar-a-Lago search expected to be released by noon tomorrow. What will it reveal about possible criminal conduct? We'll discuss next.