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Don Lemon Tonight
The Obamas Visits The White House; Former President Barack Obama Will Hit Campaign Trail; Donald Trump Faces More Legal Trouble; GOP Nervous With Their Fundraising; John Fetterman To Debate With Dr. Mehmet Oz. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired September 07, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Thank you so much for watching with us tonight. I will be back tomorrow. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now. Hi, Don.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I envy you, Kasie. Now you get to go home and rest. I got two more hours to work.
HUNT: I'll be up with you.
LEMON: And miles to go before I sleep. Thank you. Thanks. I'll see you tomorrow night.
This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.
And Barack and Michelle Obama were back at the White House today. There was a time when that would be normal, right? It would be expected. A former president and first lady back at the house where they lived for eight years for the unveiling of their official White House portraits, hosted by the sitting president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Barack and Michelle, welcome home.
BIDEN: Welcome home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: But let's face it. How much normal have we seen for the past few years? Not a lot, actually. President Trump sure wasn't going to honor his predecessor, not after he launched his own political career by spreading the racist birther lie that the 44th president of the United States, duly elected twice, was not born in this country.
Yes, that was far from normal. But what we saw today said a whole lot about the office of the presidency, the people we elect to hold it, and the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I've always described the presidency as a relay race. You take the baton from someone, you run your leg as hard and as well as you can and then you hand it off to someone else. Knowing that your work will be incomplete. The portraits hanging in the White House chronicle the runners in that race. Each of us tasked with trying to bring the country we love closer to its highest aspirations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Now just imagine someone else speaking in that manner. Let's be honest, can't. That's what a normal president is supposed to be about. And today we saw a former president not afraid to make fun of himself, even with the unveiling of his official White House portrait.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What I love about Robert's work is that he paints people exactly the way they are for better or worse. He captures every wrinkle on your face, every crease in your shirt. You'll note that he refused to hide any of my gray hairs, refused my request to make my ears smaller. He also talked me out of wearing a tan suit, by the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Self-deprecating humor there. A tan suit. Remember the tan suit, remember that the biggest scandal ever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: I think it was shocking to a lot of people. What does it suggest to you, John? Is this in an effort by the political gurus to make him look warmer, whoever talked to me into going into a tan suit.
UNKNOWN: Why did you take issue with the suit?
FMR. REP. PETER KING (R-NY): Because you know the image maker in the White House, here's the president coming out of such a serious moment where he should be addressing the country on such a serious matter. And he looked like he was on his way to a party at the Hamptons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And Ronald Reagan wore tan suit by the way. People yelled about this Barack Obama wearing a tan suit for weeks. Tan suit gate. Do I need to add that no classified documents were harmed or put at risk by wearing the wearing of a summer suit? I know, right?
But I digress, nobody mentioned the name of the 45th president today, but Michelle Obama seemed to have a pointed message when she said our country's traditions, like the unveiling of their portraits matter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Traditions like this matter, not just for those of us who hold these positions, but for everyone participating in and watching our democracy. You see the people they make their voices heard with their vote. We hold an inauguration to ensure a peaceful transition of power. And once our time is up, we move on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The former first lady going on to talk about what America means despite our divisions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
M. OBAMA: What we're looking at today, a portrait of a biracial kid with an unusual name and the daughter of a water pump operator and a stay-at-home mom.
What we are seeing is a reminder that there's a place for everyone in this country. As much as some folks might want us to believe that that story has lost some of its shine that division and discrimination and everything else might have dimmed its light.
I still know deep in my heart that what we share as my husband continues to say is so much bigger than what we don't. Our democracy is so much stronger than our differences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, I hope you're listening to those words with a critical ear, right? Not a political or an ideological one. They're speaking about all Americans, not just Democrats, not just Republicans. All Americans. That's what they're talking about.
This is not about politics. This isn't about party, about being biased or whatever. They're speaking the truth. A day like this is a good time to remind ourselves of what we used to expect from our presidents. And I'm going to go and -- listen, George Bush, Laura Bush went back to the White House when Barack Obama was in office and the same thing happened.
One time it didn't in recent history. What's up with that? So that's -- this is how important, this speaks to the importance of
who's in that office and what the office stands for. What kind of president you want, even when you didn't vote for them, even when you didn't agree with them, even when you thought they were wrong. On some level, we expect them to take their oath and the office seriously. Will to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.
That's what a normal presidency is. The question is, will we still see that in the future? Who better to help answer that and talk about all of this is then presidential historian, Jon Meacham, the author of, "And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle."
Jon, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it. Good evening to you, sir.
This felt like a lot bigger than just a portrait unveiling to me. And I think to most Americans, Michelle Obama is stressing the importance of a peaceful transfer of power. She said once our time is up, we move on. It's hard not to think about that in the context of the former president 45, his attack on our democracy.
JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No, it's impossible not to think of it. Mrs. Obama used a term. She talked about tradition and you know, the root of the word tradition is to hand on. And one of the strengths of the American Republic and it's changed in scope over the years, but it has been the nature of the people who rise to the pinnacle of power. The people who hold the presidency who live in the White House. They do try at their best to model the best of Republican, lower case r, character.
And that's the kinds of things Mrs. Obama and President Obama were talking about. It's, you run, you do your duty, you fulfill your term, you try to fulfill your oath and you pass it on. And that has been broken in recent years.
This is a 40-year, I think, about a 45-year tradition that we saw today. I think I'm right that President Carter was the first person who asked president his predecessor, President Ford to come back in the tumultuous 1970s, very difficult, 1976 was a very close race.
Reagan and Bush did it. They were the same party obviously, and it served together, but the Clintons and the Bush, the senior Bushes did it. And as you mentioned, the Obama, George W. Bush moment where, you know, George W. said, now I'm so glad because Barack can now look at my portrait and say, what would George do?
You know? And that kind of, and you can argue it's too insider or clubby, but there's a kind of ethos that ultimately helps the country.
MEACHAM: If the people, the pinnacle of power have a self-deprecating character personally, and a kind of genuine humility, which is to submit to the rule of law, which is what their oath if you believe that oaths matter at all, that's why we swear it to God.
Their oaths are to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and to faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States. And a key part of that execution of duty is to obey the rule of law, accept reality, put the common good above your own personal gain, as much as you can.
And you saw today two people who do that, Obama and Biden.
LEMON: And of respect for the office and an appreciation, and also a respect of the traditions that go along with holding that office. I mean, these last three presidents, Biden, Trump and Obama are inextricably linked. That the pendulum swinging back and forth. Is this in part how history will record them?
MEACHAM: It's a remarkable era. I mean, it's, look at the last, just the last 20 years. The very, very different backgrounds of the people who have risen to ultimate power. An era, may I just add, that began with a Tennessean, Al Gore, who accepted a decision with which he strongly disagreed as he at the Supreme Court and peacefully and graciously having won the popular vote, having a disputed count in Florida, accepted the transfer of power and did this with grace with an eye on the national good.
That's how this era began. George W. Bush, son of a president, grandson of a senator, he passes the Baton to Barack Obama who I think I'm right, spent one vacation with his father in his whole life. So, George W. Bush, a man with a dominant father, you know, coming from the highest reaches of the American elite.
Barack Obama, as Mrs. Obama said, you know, mixed grace kid with a funny name, he becomes president of United States then to Obama, to a New York real estate developer who has become this populist divisive, and indeed, unconstitutional figure, and then an Irish Catholic kid from Delaware in Pennsylvania.
And so, you have this panoply of the American experience. Not everybody, not -- it doesn't reflect all experience. Obviously, they're all men. Only one is a person of color. But when the history of this era is written, you could just do an immense amount of American history. Starting with Al Gore's concession to George W. Bush to President Obama. To, to, president Trump and President Biden.
LEMON: I want to hear more from the former president and the former first lady. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: These portraits have a special significance because as Joe mentioned, they will hang in the White House alongside portraits of other presidents and first ladies dating back to George and Martha.
M. OBAMA: Well, for me this day is not just about what has happened. It's also about what could happen. Because a girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jacqueline, Kenny -- Kennedy and Dolley Madison. She was never supposed to live in this house and she definitely wasn't supposed to serve as first lady.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Yes. The idea that the first black president and the first black first ladies' portraits are now hanging in the White House is pretty amazing and it should be marked for the historical feat that it is.
MEACHAM: Absolutely. It's also a great occasion for me to bore you once again with a point that I think is vital, which is, I think is a test of both citizenship and of leadership. One of the ways we can think about this in all of our lives is what I sometimes think of as the portrait test.
So, if we could all imagine for a minute that someday there will be a portrait of us somewhere, and someone will be looking at it and thinking about us. Politicians, by the way, love this because they can't imagine a world where they're not where we aren't staring at their portrait. So, it has a certain utility there.
What will the past say? What will the future say? What will people who look at these portraits think of them? And the Obama's conducted themselves with immense grace and skill and service. And so, these portraits are not just about capturing a moment. They're about inspiration and sometimes warning.
You know, you look at Richard Nixon's portrait and you think, you know, I'd rather go to China than break into the DNC. You know, that's a good set of lessons to bring. But shouldn't we all be conducting ourselves at this incredibly difficult hour with an eye on in an awareness of that our moral undertakings at the moment will be judged in by posterity.
And shouldn't we conduct ourselves in a way that when people look, whether it's a portrait in the White House or a snapshot on your grandkid's phone and they -- don't we want the people who encounter those portraits to think they did the best they could.
LEMON: You know, I mentioned we just -- we both mentioned the last ceremony, like this was in 2012. That's when then President Barack Obama held an unveiling for George W. Bush, Laura Bush. I just want to play this moment from George W. Bush. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I am also pleased, Mr. President, that when you are wandering these halls, as you wrestle with tough decisions, you'll now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask what would George do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That was a moment that you mentioned, listen, you're not only a historian. You occasionally -- you are not only a historian; you occasionally advise President Biden. I mean, these events aren't meant to be partisan. Is there a part of you that worries that this return to tradition and the idea that the United States presidency it's bigger than any one person that it could be short lived?
MEACHAM: Of course, it's short lived. That's why we all go to church every week. You know, these things are, you know, this is we're involved in a human enterprise. We do the right thing for five minutes and then we do the wrong thing for 10. The great line in Tom Sawyer where an Evangelist has come to town and Mark Twain writes, the Evangelist was so good that even Huck Finn was saved till Tuesday. LEMON: Yes.
MEACHAM: You know, that, this is who we are. But you keep, you get up every morning and you do it. And I think the country missed this, a huge part of the country. I know I did. I missed this from 2017 to 2021. And I think that the more we can remind ourselves that we have overcome virulent division in the past, we have come through war, we've come through depression, we've come through strife.
That's not a guarantee that we're going to do it again. But the portraits in that house on Pennsylvania Avenue are portraits of flog people who send a lot more often than they did saintly things, but they kept this experiment going. And I think that's what we all have to be focused on (Inaudible).
LEMON: Jon, it's always a pleasure. Thank you, sir. I really appreciate it.
LEMON: Be well.
So, the former president, Barack Obama getting back on the campaign trail as well, the White House celebrates his legacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Portraits that are going to hang on the walls of this sacred place, the people's house forever. And a reminder of all here and now for those to come to power that hope and change matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: A portrait unveiling today for the former President of Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House, serving as both a return to norms in Washington and a reminder that democracy itself is at risk.
Plus, CNN learning tonight that former President Barack Obama is set to hit the campaign trail this fall.
So, joining me now to discuss, CNN senior political analyst, John Avlon and CNN political commentator Scott Jennings is here, too, along with CNN, senior political analyst, Nia-Malika Henderson.
Good evening, one and all. So glad to have you all. John, I'm going to start with you. I'm going to go from Jon Meacham to John Avlon. So, it's just an easy transition to do it.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I guess. LEMON: Tonight, we are learning that the former president -- for the midterms, that former President Barack Obama is going to publicly appear with candidates in congressional and gubernatorial races, and will also campaign with candidates for some secretary of state races in key battle ground states. He's not just saying that democracy is at risk here. He's going to put some skin in the game.
AVLON: Yes. And I think it's significant that he's campaigning for secretary of state. You know, that's not the kind of thing the office that typically an ex-president, you know, would focus on, but I think it highlights just how important those offices are, especially when you have people running who are election deniers really with the promise of trying to overturn a future election.
But I think Obama is, you know, uniquely energizes the Democratic base, and unifies it. In some ways, even beyond President Biden. And so -- and so I think he'll inject some energy.
LEMON: What did you think when you heard the former first lady, Nia, remind people the importance of a peaceful transfer of power when we all saw what happened on January 6th. Were her remarks a rebuke or a warning or of some sort.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think all of the above a rebuke, a warning and a reality check of this moment that we're in, where you do have an ex-president who has spread a big lie that millions of Americans believe. And now people who could be poised to run the voting in different states saying that they could overturn the will of the people.
You know, it was a deeply, I thought patriotic speech. It was a deeply hopeful speech at a time when lots of Americans are despairing about the state of our democracy, precisely because of what's going on all across the country, with some of the folks who were running for office.
Only Michelle Obama could have gone there in many ways. We, of course all know she was talking about Donald Trump. She was talking about January 6th, which meant that America didn't have a peaceful transfer of power, that was obstructed by those insurrectionists on January 6th.
So, yes, I thought it was a sort of sobering line, a sort of political line, a line that needed to be said. And a line that only she could say, right? This is sort of, you know, the first lady being able to go and do and say things that the former President Obama didn't necessarily want to do. It might have brought a little bit more heat than light.
LEMON: It was only, Scott, last week that the current president, Joe Biden, called out Trump and his allies for trying to undermine democracy, many people don't accept the president -- President Biden as a legitimate president and that's simply because they've been repeatedly told by Trump and his allies.
So, what needs to be done at this point so that everyone trusts and believes the outcome of the results of an election?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That is a -- that is a great and large question. I mean, I think every political leader, whether you're a president, former president, office holder, party person. If you have some level of responsibility in American politics, you ought to be honest with the people who are under you or who following you when the elections are over about who won and who lost.
And I don't think that means candidates and campaigns can't avail themselves of legal mechanisms if a race is close and they want to look into something, but at some juncture the way this works is somebody wins and somebody loses.
We accept it, and then we move on and then we fight it out again two years later. That's the beauty of American democracy is we get to do it all again in two years. And then we do it all again, two years after that. And it's not the end of the world if you lose an election. And it's not the end all be all if you win one.
And I think to me, that's the ultimate responsibility of everyone in the system.
JENNINGS: And in both parties.
LEMON: Yes. Go ahead. What'd you want to say.
AVLON: No, I just add to that. I mean, you know, patriotism in a democratic Republic is actually about respecting the peaceful transfer of power. That is the larger democratic norms we defend.
And what Scott is really saying also, I think is particularly incumbent on Republicans right now. Responsible Republicans in positions of power and running for office to tell their supporters that they respect the rule of law. They respect the peaceful transfer of power and that to not feed the big lie for short -- sorry, you know, they not feed lies, election lies about for political, short term political gain.
That's uniquely responsibility on the right, right now, because Donald Trump has spread so much disinformation around the election.
LEMON: Nia, I want you to weigh in, but I want you to listen to, this is a former first lady again today. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
M. OBAMA: That's why for me this day isn't about me or Barack. It's not even about these beautiful paintings. It's about telling that fuller story, a story that includes every single American in every single corner of the country so that our kids and grandkids can see something more for themselves. And as much as some folks might want us to believe that that story has
lost some of its shine, that division and discrimination and everything else might have dimmed its light. I still know deep in my heart that what we share as my husband continues to say is so much bigger than what we don't. Our democracy is so much stronger than our differences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Nia, the former president's entire political strategy is rooted in division and his allies have picked up that technique. Is democracy really stronger than that when elected leaders know they can win by dividing.
HENDERSON: You know, when Michelle Obama uttered that line, I kind of wrote it down because it kind of stopped me cold. Because sort of the reality is that this divisive politics that, listen, has existed long before Donald Trump, and it will exist long after Donald Trump. It's so pervasive now and it has worked to great effect.
And so, for her to say, listen, our democracy, which is quite fragile, which is still in its infancy. If you think about the multiracial democracy that we've seen over the last 50 years, she is saying that we actually can have hope in our democracy, that it is stronger than our differences even though we have seen such divisive politics over the last 10 years or so worked to great effect, right?
I mean, if you think of the way Donald Trump or ran, if you think of the way many of Republicans are running at this point, it is based on a kind of us versus them, you know, race and competition and it has worked.
We'll see what happens obviously in the midterm, but this was a deeply hopeful speech. It was about America being a great country if Americans participate and believe and constantly perfect the experiment of democracy.
LEMON: Are you guys surprised that she, I mean, it seemed that she went in harder than her husband. I mean, Nia, you know, said she has more license to do it maybe and it was, I don't know. I mean, Nia said it, do you -- are you surprised?
JENNINGS: Yes. I thought -- I thought she was actually thinking back on the Democrat convention in 2020. I thought she actually was the sharper speaker back in that particular campaign cycle. There's always been people --
LEMON: He says the same thing her husband
JENNINGS: Yes. I mean, but --
LEMON: I tell you the same thing.
JENNINGS: But that's why a lot of people have always, you know, surmised that she might actually be one of the stronger Democrat candidates for president sometime in the future. I know they say that's not a possibility.
JENNINGS: But she -- but you -- but she clearly has an instinct for giving a very sharp political speech. Like delivering a line.
AVLON: It's not typical of first ladies or expert ladies, but she -- first ladies, but she's got that latitude. And I think the core point, right, is that great presidents, American presidents, American political leaders have historically always emphasized even in the middle of the Civil War.
You had Jon Meacham on earlier talking about Abraham Lincoln, that there is more than unites us than divides us as Americans.
LEMON: I hope you're right.
AVLON: That is part of the sacred trust.
LEMON: I hope that's right.
AVLON: It is.
LEMON: It doesn't feel that way sometimes after sitting here for all these years. Nia, you know it.
LEMON: Seven years we've been here talking about this and it just --
AVLON: Keep the faith.
LEMON: It just feels like we're so divided --
AVLON: Keep the faith.
LEMON: -- that we cannot get back together. That unity is not possible. I certainly hope it is, but it just feels sometimes it just feels really grim and dark. But I digress. As my producer is telling me to go to the break. Thank you, everyone. I appreciate it.
Information so close to guarded even senior national security officials aren't in on the secret, that's the kind of information the former president has been holding at Mar-a-Lago. What could the consequences be?
LEMON: More fallout tonight from the Washington Post reporting that the FBI -- FBI agents found a document describing a foreign government's nuclear capabilities in the search of Mar-a-Lago.
So, what could it mean that such extremely classified documents set at Mar-a-Lago for all that time?
Joining me now to discuss, CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller. John, good to see you. Thank you for joining us.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Thanks for having me.
LEMON: I appreciate it. So, listen, we're talking about the level of classification only the president and a few other top officials would have access to. Should these have ever left the secure environment, a secure environment and ended up at Mar-a-Lago or at someone's beach home?
MILLER: So, no. No. I mean, they shouldn't be removed from a government facility. And if they are removed from a government facility, they need to be removed by people who are cleared to move them and then stored in a way that comports with, in this case, not just confidential, not just secret, not just top secret, not just sensitive compartmented information, but human control systems that go to actual human sources overseas, special access programs that are limited to a handful of people who have a need to know.
And for all intents and purposes, as best as the investigators have laid out in their documents, it looked like these boxes were packed up in the White House office, moved on a moving truck by moving men who, I am pretty confident aren't cleared for this information and put in a basement, storage room that's guarded by a padlock, which is not a secure compartmented information facility with lead line walls and secret codes to enter by authorized people.
LEMON: That's they were kept in a minimum -- at a minimum in the former president's office and basement, a door the FBI had to tell Trump's people to put a padlock on. I mean --
MILLER: Well, that's right. And I mean, this comes after Trump's lawyers and representatives and his representatives to the archives and the Justice Department said that they had turned over the documents, and done a, quoting now, "due diligence search around the premises to make sure that that was everything."
And in the FBI search, agents found in what they call the 45 office or the president's presidential office at Mar-a-Lago, the former president's office, 35 documents that were in desk drawers and stored right there. So, you know, the due diligence is in question.
Don, I think, I think to find clarity here, there's two key things we have to look. One, is there clear violation of law and procedure? Yes. Title 18 2017, you know, three years in prison for illegally removing, mishandling, improperly storing documents. There's another for obstruction for not being truthful about it. Another three-year count. So, there's clear violations of laws. Where we going to hung up is
there have been people, you know, throughout this week, particularly as these nuclear secret documents have emerged saying, well, you know, that's it, you know, it's time to arrest Donald Trump and charge people and move quickly. It's a clear violation of law, but it is by no means of slam dunk case.
Were you in the White House? Yes, I was. Did you clear out your office? No, people did that. Do you know -- did you tell them to do it? No, I told people to tell them to do it. Do you know that the documents were moved there? I found them later. I mean, it's going to be a real challenge, to establish intent.
I think the people who are going to be more nervous than a Donald Trump right now are the people who made factual representations to the Department of Justice and the FBI that might not have been true.
LEMON: Well, let me ask you this, but doesn't even so, doesn't the buck stop with him because he's the one who was in charge of that information and he should have been responsible for keeping that information safe, right? And secured.
MILLER: So, from a --
LEMON: Yes, I understand what you're saying. The case is going to be tough to prove.
MILLER: (Inaudible) stewardship. The buck definitely stops with him from a point of, can you criminally prosecute for him? It gets murkier fast.
LEMON: And what -- but what about the idea that when you look at all of this, right, these are the times that the archives, the Department of Justice reached out to him, four pages here of, and did not comply. Is that --
MILLER: And when you measure that against security camera videos that showed boxes being moved in and out of places during a time when they were making assertions that they had no knowledge of documents being there. That gets us closer to that obstruction question. But you know, it's about who are you going to pin that on.
LEMON: One more chain of command question. I was watching the former presidential candidate, former first lady and former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was on The View this morning. She talked about when she had to view classified documents, top secret documents.
It was a guy, a guard who was tasked with, and the suitcase would come and they'd go to the SCIF or whatever and the person would have it with a lock --
MILLER: That's right.
LEMON: -- to his arm. And they would say, Madam Secretary, you need to look at these documents immediately. She would look at the documents, put it up, lock them back, and they would go back to a secure.
What happened? Why didn't this happen with the -- with the former president?
MILLER: So, in this White House, and I've heard this from numerous people that --
LEMON: First of all, is that the procedure, she correct with that?
MILLER: Listen, I just worked for almost nine years next door to a SCIF.
MILLER: When I needed to read a top-secret document, I had to punch in there, sit down, look at the documents and then put them back in a safe and go back to my office. If we needed to transport them, that was in a locked bag with a trained and authorized courier.
MILLER: Nobody the thought of taking a top-secret document home with me to read that night, you know, after dinner is an anathema. It's just not done. So, I think we start off from bad practice and that results in the violation of --
LEMON: You were saying something about that White House. Because I said what happened with the --
MILLER: So, there was -- there was a -- and I've heard this from people within the national security apparatus who said there was real laissez-faire about the handling of classified information? You know, we have a former president, George Bush, who was once director of the CIA.
That comes with a certain reverence for the risk that people have to take. And the links that people have to go to obtain this information. So, you're not leaving it lying around or packing it in a box or moving it on a moving truck or storing it behind a padlock.
And the Trump White House, it was kind of, from the very early stages when he blurted out to high-ranking Russian foreign minister and others, classified information that they had obtained from another foreign government.
And I believe he mentioned the government that gave it to us to things that he was briefed on, that he later tweeted to the, you know, appalling reaction of intelligence officials who briefed him and said, you know, please be careful with this.
This, in that context is not so surprising. The real issue here is who had access to these? Who saw them that we know about? Who saw them that shouldn't have that we may not know about? Is there any threat in that chain? And did they get everything back?
All the rest of it is just going to be the shouting. That's the key right now is, did they get it all? Is it now safe somewhere? And while it was under protected, was there a breach?
LEMON: John Miller, thank you.
MILLER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Good to see you always. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Republicans feeling the pinch heading into the midterms. GOP senators expressing concern over the national Republican senatorial committee's cash problems. Although the committee has raised more money than the Democratic senatorial campaign committee, it has far less cash on hand.
And it's not just the committee having funding problems, Democratic Senate candidates in Ohio and Arizona and Georgia are far outpacing their Republican opponents in fundraising. This is all coming amid a feud between top Republican Senators Rick Scott and Mitch McConnell.
For more, I want to bring in now CNN political commentator Kristen Soltis Anderson. Hi, Kristen. Thanks for joining us. Good evening to you.
These problems --
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good evening, Don.
LEMON: -- facing Republicans come during really surging optimism for Democrats. You say that the Dobbs decision on abortion was the big turning point. Do you see Democrats holding onto that balance?
ANDERSON: I think that we're headed into a midterm where Republicans thought they were going to have a big enthusiasm advantage. And that gap has been wiped out by really surging enthusiasm on the democratic side.
Republicans are still favored. They're the party out of power. The economy is still in pretty rough shape for your average American. The president's job approval has improved, but it's still not in great territory. So, Republicans have a lot going for them, but definitely the Dobbs decision, in my view of looking at the polls was a turning point where suddenly Democrats got a lot more enthusiasm and the wind started shifting back a little bit their way.
LEMON: Yes. In political time though, there's still a lot of time between now and November.
ANDERSON: Very much so.
LEMON: Yes. One of the big Senate races is in Georgia. And polls showing there that Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock is leading Republican candidate Herschel Walker, and by about four points outside the margin of error. Do you think Walker is going to win? I mean, he had a lot of controversies. Why do you think he's going to beat Warnock? I think -- you think he's going to win.
ANDERSON: Well, I think he's perhaps of a lot of the different swing seats where Republicans are hoping they can make a pickup. That's probably one of their best chances. First of all, I'm an SEC football person so I never doubt the power of Southern football.
LEMON: So am I.
ANDERSON: But also, I think in that race, you know, you do have Georgia as a very purple state, but it's exactly the kind of state that in a year like these Republican voters, especially sort of those suburban voters that maybe four years ago shifted to the Democrats, may be slightly more likely to come back home.
So, I think of Georgia, it's still going to be a very close race in my view, but I think Republicans have other races on the table that they might be a bit more nervous about.
LEMON: Another big Senate race is in Wisconsin between democratic candidate Mandela, Barnes and incumbent Republican Ron Johnson. I mean, the most recent poll shows Barnes leading 50 percent to Johnson's 46 percent. That's also outside the margin of error. Will Johnson be able to hold on to his seat?
ANDERSON: I think Republicans are not particularly worried about Ron Johnson. Wisconsin is, again, one of those states where, especially if you have an incumbent senator, that's typically much harder to unseat someone that's been an incumbent. Frankly, that's something that makes a race like Georgia harder for Republicans because you're talking about an incumbent there in Raphael Warnock.
But in the Wisconsin case as with so many of these, you know, a lot of times polls before the election, especially right now where Democrats very fired up, they're showing this surge in momentum because Democrats are also really excited to take polls right now.
Now I'm not some poll un-skewer. I'm not here to tell you that they're all fake news, but I am here to tell you to take them with a bit of a grain of salt. If you look at the track record of polls in Senate races over the last couple of elections, Republicans have tended to be undercounted in a lot of those. That's why you had folks like Senator Lindsey Graham, and Senator Susan Collins, who the polls ahead of the election, the public polls at least said they were on the ropes last time and they wound up winning handily.
So, I think for those two races, Wisconsin and Georgia, Republicans are, I think, slightly favored to win those races.
LEMON: Yes. And Republicans always come home. We find in races more than the other party, the Democratic Party. By the way, Kristen, go Tigers. I'm not talking about Auburn.
LEMON: GEAUS LSU.
ANDERSON: I love it's SEC football season. Greatest time of the year.
LEMON: I know, I saw that game on Sunday. My goodness, LSU, the last second. Alrighty. I digress. Thank you, Kristen. I'll see you soon.
So one of the most contentious races for one of the most important Senate seats finally coming to a head, what will happen when Fetterman and Oz face off? We're going to talk about that. That's next.
LEMON: The Democratic candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania, John Fetterman announcing today he will debate his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz. Fetterman is recovering from a stroke he suffered in May and is still dealing with side effects.
In a statement, we're absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz. And it was always our intent to do that. It has simply only ever been about addressing some of the lingering issues of my stroke, the auditory processing. And we're going to be able to work that out.
Now the statement says a debate will likely take place in mid to late October. The Oz campaign has been criticized for seeming to mock Fetterman's health issues. But Fetterman is also getting pressure from the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette in, in an op-ed saying that if he's not well enough to debate, that raises questions about his ability to serve in the U.S. Senate. So, stay tuned we'll continue to follow.
Up next, he thinks the DOJ is getting close to having the evidence to indict Trump. We're going to tell you what Trump's own attorney general bill Barr thinks about those Mar-a-Lago documents.