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Don Lemon Tonight

Judge Appoints Special Master In Mar-A-Lago Docs Case; Two GOP Governors Send Migrants To "Sanctuary States" With No Warning; WI Senate Race Neck-And-Neck; Line To Pay Respects To The Queen Now 4 Miles Long, 11-Hour Wait. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 15, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: New tonight, a federal judge naming a special master who will oversee the review of more than a hundred classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago in August. The news comes after weeks of legal drama between Trump's layers and the DOJ over who should get to review these highly classified documents.

Joining me now to discuss is CNN political correspondent Sara Murray, CNN legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney Jennifer Rodgers, CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd, and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem.

Good evening, everyone. Sara, bad news for the DOJ tonight that judge rejected their request to continue the criminal probe into classified documents while the review plays out. What more do you know?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The judge basically said, one, I'm not going to take the government on face value that these documents are classified. She wants a special master to review them. And two, she says she doesn't think that it's going to cause irreparable harm for the Justice Department to press pause on their ability to review these documents.

She says, you can still go forward with parts of your mastication. You know, if you want to talk to witnesses about how these documents were moved or stored, you can do things like that. But when it comes to actually reviewing the documents, you know, for instance, maybe presenting them before a grand jury, which is the helpful thing to do when you're in the middle of a criminal investigation, you can't do something like that.

She does say, though, they can still brief Congress, so we are waiting to see if that actually comes to fruition. And she did put a timeline on all of this, saying they have until the -- special master has until November 30th to complete this work.

LEMON: So, Sara, the judge appointing District Judge Raymond Dearie as a special master, what can you tell us about him?

MURRAY: That's right. He is a senior judge in the Eastern District of Brooklyn. So, if you are a senior judge, you know, you have a little bit more time on your counter, which is good because this seems like it's going to be a time-consuming task for him.

You know, he did a seven-year stint on the FISA court, so he is someone who is used to dealing with these kinds of sensitive issues and sensitive materials. And he is a person who was put forward by the Trump team and the only person the Justice Department also agreed on. So, this is the only name that both sides were in an agreement over, you know, being a special master in this.

LEMON: Jennifer, in the judge's order tonight, she is raising doubts about whether all the documents marked classified are actually classified. You say the judge's reasoning is indefensible. The panel I had on earlier called it incoherent. So, do you think that -- does she have a reason to suggest that this is up for debate, whether they are classified or not?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, that is what she said, Don, but there is nothing behind it. She got one affidavit from the government that talks about the classified documents and how they're -- the nation will be irreparably harmed if they can't continue to utilize those.

She didn't get evidence from the Trump team at all. So, she only has one piece of evidence, and that is all she has to rule on. In their brief, the Trump folks didn't even say that the documents were declassified. They said, well, maybe they were. Well, that is no basis at all to find that there is an issue as declassification.

So, judges are supposed to decide based on the evidence and based on the law, and they gave her nothing. They gave her no law, and they gave her no facts. All she has is the undisputed facts and the law provided by the Justice Department. So, there is no basis.

LEMON: So, what is going on here with this judge?

RODGERS: So, the last sentence, the second to last sentence, the very last part of the order tells you all you need to know. She says, you know, listen, I just have to go back to the fact that this is an extraordinary circumstance and it really comes down to the inherent exceptional nature of who the plaintiff is.

So, at the end of the day, she has told us what it is. It's Trump. And so, he is going to get special treatment that no one else would get contrary to the facts, contrary to the law. That's what she said.

LEMON: She's basically saying there is no precedent, so I'm going to do what I want here. Is that -- no?

RODGERS: She hasn't even said that. I mean, there is plenty of law. The DOJ gave it to her, why there are no privileges here, why these documents are classified --

LEMON: So, there is precedent --

RODGERS: -- possible interest in it. LEMON: Okay.

RODGERS: There is precedent, but she hasn't even grappled with it. She doesn't even do a legal analysis. She just says, I am not buying what DOJ is selling despite the facts and the evidence, and I'm going to do it for Trump.

LEMON: Wow! Phil, I want you to jump in here because the special master has -- what do you think? Can you talk about the judge's ruling? Do you think you --

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I find it really what I say comical about national security stuff, I spent my life doing it, but this is comical. Let me explain to you why. When you look at a classified document, you saw cover sheets in that famous photo of the FBI search.


Take the cover sheet off and expose the real document. There are words on the top of what we used to call headers in the business. The header on the top and bottom of the document has a classification. For example, top secret code word, talent-keyhole. Those are some of the words and some of the phrases that you would see in the documents gathered at Mar-a-Lago.

So, this question about whether the documents are classified or not, I learned to read in fifth grade, Don. When it says top secret code word, let me give you a clue, that is a classified document. I'm just -- I'm not exactly sure how to take this one, Don.

LEMON: Well, all right. Julia, Judge Cannon is also questioning whether these documents actually put national security at risk.


LEMON: Does she have a reasoning there? What is her reasoning?

KAYYEM: Well, I mean, the opinion is something. I wouldn't call it judging. I mean, it is something, right? I mean, we are going to be beholden to her reasoning for now until the appeal.

But the idea that we are going to try to figure out some legal reasonable behind it at this stage, I think, is just -- it is sort of futile and we are only doing it because we somehow believe in the rule of law. This is an -- this is an opinion that is going to harm American interests more than she even recognizes.

All right, she can think that she is protecting Trump and some notion of the exceptionalism that is plaintiff (ph) status, but if I am a defense attorney representing either a good actor but presumably a bad actor, let us say someone who was spying for the Chinese, and the government has classified information against me that they're using against me to protect American interests, my first argument is to quote her opinion, to say essentially there is really nothing that we can trust about the government's classification system. And that is basically what -- I mean, that is what I would do if I were a defense attorney for a spy right now.

Finally, I do want to say about sort of what this case means for the outside world. Look, there is going to be a delay. There will be -- you know, maybe the special magistrate will move quickly. That is fine. We will get the information now. But the goal wasn't a win for Trump. It was a delay for Trump. And he got it.

He just needs to extend the runway longer and longer and longer until he either decides to run or there is some other scandal. That is what he wanted out of this case, and he got it.

LEMON: Sara, what do we expect next from the DOJ and how far, do you think, this legal battle could go?

MURRAY: You know, look, they actually told the judge when they put forth this, you know, sort of many solutions, essentially saying, you know, why don't you just let us look at these 100 classified documents, move forward with our criminal investigation, we're fine with the special master on the rest of it? But they said, if we don't hear from you today, we are going to issue this.

We now heard from the judge, the judge is not giving the Justice Department what they are asking for. So, now, we are waiting to see if they actually follow through with what they suggested they will do, which is appeal this.

This does, you know, as Juliette was just saying, it does mean delays. You know, the special master is going to take through November 30th. H is going to do his work regardless. It is just a question of sort of what pool of documents he is going to do it on. And now, we wait and see what kind of timeline. We can be looking at for a potential appeal.

LEMON: Jennifer, the judge is also allowing the Trump team to review these classified documents. Does that pose any risk to the broader investigation here?

RODGERS: Probably not. We know they have them. He had them, right, for months and months. So, he knows what they are, his lawyers know what they are because he would've told them. So, I don't think they are concerned about that aspect of it.

I mean, there may be concern about the national security implications of Trump and his team of lawyers seeing the documents or having them back again. But I think, as far as the investigation goes, I mean, they need to have them in order to have these documents against him.

LEMON: But still more people seeing these classified documents.

RODGERS: They'll be clear -- the lawyers will have to be clear in order to see them. So, that's what will happen.

LEMON: Juliette, this is a blow for the DOJ. But investigators have these documents for weeks before they had to pause. How much could the government have learned in that time?

KAYYEM: A lot. I mean, I think that they are presenting a case. We have some hints of what they're looking at. It is not just the classified information. We have to remind people, you know, Trump was giving multiple opportunities to fix the problems. Just giving him the benefit of the doubt. Oh, he made a mistake. You know, they're constantly saying, you can fix this mistake, and he clearly don't want to fix, want to hold on to them.

So, they have a sense of it. We get some hints of what they're going after, including obstruction of justice. It sounds like some people lied to the FBI about whether they were aware that they were -- this classified information, that those people may include lawyers if not Trump himself. So, they still have a very strong case.

But, I mean, I think, ultimately, what -- there also a surprise about legal reasoning (INAUDIBLE) just to the extent that, you know, we have this notion and lawyering called the political question. They used to defer to other branches and their expertise. The executive branch is an expert in national security.


The Constitution defines that expertise as residing within the executive branch and foreign policy. And so, you see a judge sort of second guessing it in a way that does not defer to the expertise of the political branch. In some ways, I view this as not just, you know, bad legal reasoning but just sort of really putting a judiciary front and center in things that they are just not expert in. They are not. And the Constitution, they recognize that.

WALLACE: The former president went on the radio today, and I just want to play what he said when asked what he thought would happen if he was indicted. Here it is.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): I think if it happened, I think you'd have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we've never seen before. I don't think the people of the United States would stand for it.


TRUMP: I think they'd have big problems, big problems. I just don't think they'd stand for it.


LEMON: Philip, do you think that's an implied threat? What is he doing?

MUDD: Yes. I don't know if that's a subtle enough answer. That's a yes, Don. Let me be clear about what this is. In a world of extremism, which I followed for decades, that's what I would refer to as validation.

So, we saw on January 6, there is a lot of people who watch leadership, whether it's Lindsey Graham or other members of the White House, the president or lawyers, who watch leadership and determine whether that leadership is validating the citizens' belief that they were robbed.

You don't have to tell somebody to go out and commit an act of violence for them to say, well, if we were robbed, then it is my constitutional right and responsibility to go to the Congress and storm it. That is the president of the United States having witnessed (INAUDIBLE) saying, let me have a redo of that, and that redo will happen if I ever get indicted.

To me, as an extremist follower, that's not a political statement. That is a statement that anybody who follows extremists can understand. That is validation, Don.

LEMON: Juliette, what do you think of that answer?

KAYYEM: Absolutely. It's not even -- it's not even hinting anymore. We used to use the word dog whistling when we talk about Trump. This is now directing. This is the -- basically, don't just listen to Trump's words, imagine what his supporters are hearing. They are hearing the call to action.

This has been consistent. It is much stronger in the last -- since he lost the election. We just need to call it what it is, which is we have a former president who is inciting violence as an extension of his political defeat. It is just what it is now.

LEMON: Hmm. All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. We will be right back.




LEMON: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis taking credit for sending 50 migrants to Martha's Vineyard without any warning.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We are not a sanctuary state, and it is better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction. And yes, we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures.



LEMON: But these migrants came from Texas, not from Florida. The Texas governor's office says that they were not involved in the initial plans, initial plans to Martha's Vineyard, but Abbott says he is responsible for the arrival of two buses of over 100 migrants from Texas to the vice president's residence in D.C. this morning.

So, I want to bring in now Democratic Congressman Colin Allred of Texas. Congressman, I appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much. What is your reaction to this governor sending these buses of migrants with no, you know, heads up to places like Martha's Vineyard or D.C.? Do you think that they should have coordinated?

REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): First, it seems like they lied to the migrants to try to get them on this flight to Martha's Vineyard. Of course, these are stunts. But it is also dehumanizing, Don. And once you dehumanize people, you can treat them however you want because it doesn't matter, because they are not like you and me. They don't deserve to be treated with dignity or to have any kind of rights.

That's not who we are as Americans. But it is a political step, intended to get these governors on Fox News, in the hope that they can become the next Trump. But certainly, I think doing things like this is not consistent with who we are as a country. It is not consistent, certainly, with who we are as Texans.

LEMON: So, listen, there are -- the resources -- some of the places on the border don't have enough resources to really take in all of these people. Do they have an overall point? My question is, should they have coordinated with these municipalities or with Martha's Vineyard or D.C. or whatever if they had planned on doing this?

ALLRED: Listen, we can do more. We have to fix our immigration system. It is broken. We are trying to address the root causes of why some of these folks are leaving their home countries, and try to make sure that they are able to stay where they are from.

But doing it like this does not make any sense, Don. It's just intended to cause chaos and to get these folks headlines. This is exactly actually what they want. It is for us to be having this discussion and talk about whether or not they should've coordinating something like that when we do have a process for handling these things. This is not the process. Certainly, not up to governors who --

LEMON: I understand that, congressman. Listen to my point, please. What I'm asking is, if these towns or cities or municipalities or communities, if they don't have enough resources, then what should they be doing? What can be done?

I know that there are steps in place or things in place, but still, it takes a lot of manpower to be able to handle all of these people. So, what should they do? Do you think it is fair for them to send them to other places if they don't have resources and perhaps coordinate with those other places in order to get help?


ALLRED: I think there is a scenario in which, if we work together as a country, we can find ways to spread the load responsibly, Don. I think that is something that maybe what you're hinting at. LEMON: Exactly, that is what I asked.

ALLRED: That is something maybe we can do. Hut that is certainly not what we are seeing here, especially sending the migrants to the vice president's residence or dropping them off at airports where they don't know anything where they're going or why they're there or lying about -- how to get them on the plane lying or what you are offering them.

That is certainly not what we are talking about here. That is not a responsible process. It's just intended to get them attention on Fox News.

LEMON: Thank you. That is a stunt, but you answered the overall thrust of my question, and I appreciate that, about lightning the load. So, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

So, Governor Abbott says that your state will continue sending migrants to sanctuary cities like D.C. until President Biden and Vice President Harris, so that they do their jobs to secure the border. I mean, Vice President Harris says that she is confident the border is secure. Is that the case? Does the Biden administration need to do more?

ALLRED: I do think we need to fix our immigration system. That includes doing work at the border. We are seeing a surge in migrants, and it is being caused by lots of conditions that are leading these folks to leave their homes, to risk their lives on this really treacherous journey to try to come to this country. Some of them try to seek asylum. That's a process that we certainly need to improve. Our asylum process is incredibly broken.

But all this has to have a comprehensive approach to our immigration system. One that is geared towards our current economy and the needs of that economy, but also allows us to process folks in the humane way and not treat them in this way like they are just pawns. That is not who we are as Americans. It just isn't. We don't treat people like this.

If we saw another country doing this in another part of the world, we would call it something else. We would say that it is based on bigotry or based on trying to cause fear in those communities. That is really not, I think, a responsible way to approach this.

LEMON: So, listen, a conservative guest on this program would say that there is -- that the border is open and that Democrats want open borders. Are either of those true? Both? Either?

ALLRED: Certainly not true that Democrats want, and the border is certainly not open. When you're talking about the number of apprehensions, they are making that up (ph), because we are catching folks, and they're coming through.

And also, when we talk about immigration reform, Democrats in Congress stand ready right now to work on immigration reform. We don't have colleagues on the other side of the aisle who work with us on trying to find a common sense -- a pathway forward because it is a political issue for them because the leader of their party has used this from the very first moment he announced his candidacy as a way to gin up votes by scaring people.

LEMON: Yeah. Congressman Allred, we are also learning tonight that President Biden is going to meet in person with the families of detained Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. A senior administration official tells CNN that there has been movement but not a breakthrough on the efforts to free them.

I mean, this comes right after the former ambassador, Bill Richardson, got back from Moscow where he was trying to get something done for these folks. Where do you see this heading? Are you optimistic about it?

ALLRED: You know, first of all, I think that President Biden is somebody who has lost a wife, lost a daughter, lost an adult son. He knows what it is like when your family is in crisis. He understands that these families are in crisis.

I had a chance today actually to meet with some of the families of folks who have been detained wrongfully abroad, whether that's in Russia or Iran. And my heart goes out to them. But I do actually think, in the case of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, that we are making progress and we will have a resolution.

The question will be, where do we land? What are the Russians going to be willing to accept? It looks like, because we're talking about trying to bring back two Americans, that they're going to ask for at least two Russians to be released. In some cases, their requests have been things that we cannot provide.

But just because you're not hearing a daily news about it, it doesn't mean it is not being worked on. I know for a fact that we are absolutely still pursuing these leads, trying to get a deal with the Russians.

LEMON: I want to ask you about what is about you could -- the U.S. has been funding Ukraine's efforts to fight back against Russia's invasion. The Ukrainians have been making major gains in the battlefield. Could this ultimately work against the U.S. in hostage negotiations?

ALLRED: Well, you know, obviously, the war in Ukraine that the Russians precipitated their invasion, makes this a more difficult negotiation. But that does not mean that we should not be supporting the Ukrainians in their efforts to protect their own country and for their own freedom. They are using the tools that are giving them extremely effectively, as you said.

They are fight with incredible bravery. I think the whole world can see, you know, free people that want to remain free. And certainly, we want to do everything we can to bring our Americans home. But I don't think that we should consider the two to be in conflict.

LEMON: Congressman Allred, thank you so much. I appreciate your time. Thanks for coming on.

ALLRED: Okay. Thanks, Don.


LEMON: President Biden responding today to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sending a plane full of undocumented immigrants to Martha's Vineyard. We are going to tell you what he said. That is next.



LEMON: President Biden slamming Republican governors for sending migrants to northern states in protest of his administration's immigration policies. Here's what he said just tonight.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of working with us on solutions, Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props. What they are doing is simply wrong. It is un- American. It is reckless. We have a process in place to manage migrants at the border.


We are working to make sure it is safe and orderly and humane. Republican officials should not interfere with that process by waging these political stunts.


LEMON: I want to bring in now CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. Good evening to both of you. Thanks so much for joining.

Dana, President Biden --


LEMON: -- slamming Republicans for their treatment of these migrants. This is going to be a hotly-contested issue straight through the midterms and the political brinkmanship is only just starting.

BASH: That's right. I mean, this is happening because of the midterms, because the Texas governor is on the ballot, the Florida governor is on the ballot. But this is also happening in large part because of what you were discussing with Congressman Allred of Texas, which is that here in Washington, they haven't been able to get anything done in decades.

Don, I cannot tell you how many hours of my life I will never get back standing in hallways, in the United States Capitol, watching and waiting for members of Congress who claim that they were working on a bipartisan deal on immigration reform. And I shouldn't say claim, for the most part, they were working in good faith, but they could never get it done.

And for the most part, President Biden is right. There has been a lack of will on the GOP side. A very big divide on the GOP side. But, I remember, maybe in the mid-2000s, some Democrats also playing some politics with the notion of doing this in a broad, comprehensive, bipartisan way.

That is the reason why this is happening, because we don't have a national policy, because it is so fraught with base politics that don't take in to account these are human beings that they just dumped off on the corner in a residential neighborhood and here in Washington.

LEMON: Ron Brownstein, a CNN spoke with migrants who said that they had no idea that they were heading to Martha's Vineyard --


LEMON: -- of the politics and immigrant stance like what Dana said. This is not how you treat people. Do you think that it could backfire on Republicans?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think the first question is whether it is legal. You know, Biden was commenting tonight a little bit as if he was almost like an outside observer. He is the leader of the executive branch that includes the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. And Gavin Newsom, for example, wrote a letter to the attorney general today questioning whether there was legal basis to seek an injunction to stop this behavior from the governor.

You know, your conversation with Colin Allred was to the point in that the question of whether this burden should be distributed more evenly across the country is a very different one from whether governors have the unilateral authority --

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

BROWNSTEIN: -- to take people, some of whom are asylum seekers. And once you are an asylum seeker, you are legally present in the country. And there is no authority under federal immigration law for governors to say, we can exclude these people from our city.

I spoke today to the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, David Leopold, who said there were potentially multiple avenues that the Justice Department can use to contest this in court. Who knows whether they will win, ultimately, in the Supreme Court?

But I do think that the question of whether the Biden administration can do more than condemn this, sort of the same issue we've had throughout his presidency. These dealings with the red state governors on vaccines to masks to voting comes back. Can they do more to try to reassert federal privacy over red state governors that are moving very aggressively to tilt a whole series of policies very much to the right? LEMON: Ron, DeSantis from Florida, he flew two planes of migrants

there from Texas. They didn't have anything to do with Florida. How much of this is about really raising his national profile ahead of a potential presidential run, do you think?

BROWNSTEIN: Yeah, look, I think Ron DeSantis has very much concluded that the real essence of Trumpism, the real fuel in it, is being seen by the base as fighting against what they perceived as liberal institutions, if the fight itself more than the kind of this -- you know, what the terrain in which you are fighting is the essence of it.

My colleague, Adam Stuart (ph), said that the cruelty is the point. But I think he very much -- this kind of fits in with his fight with Disney, his fight with trying to control not only schools but private businesses talk about race. He wants to be seen as a culture warrior. In fact, "The Washington Post" got audio of him talking to Republican donors over the weekend in which he kind of previewed this.

And it is worth noting, really quickly, the history that (INAUDIBLE) talking about.


Both in 2006 and 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan filibuster proof majority which included Mitch McConnell the first time, comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to legalization for people here, for undocumented people here, and each time, in '06 and '13, the republican-controlled House refused to take it up despite the first time (INAUDIBLE) George W. Bush, a Republican president.

So, I mean, there is a history here where bipartisanship has been achieved on this issue, but in a kind of an early marker of the party's movement into what it has become, a much more of a party -- much more uniformly hostile to not only illegal but legal immigration. The Republican House refused to take that up either time when it could have been done in '06 or '13.

LEMON: And those are some of the instances, Dana, that you mentioned earlier. But Dana, I want to speak with you before we let you go about abortion, another major issue heading into November. This is what Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said to you. This was on state of the union just last month. Watch this.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I've been consistent. I think states should decide the issue of marriage and states should decide the issue of abortion. I have respect for South Carolina. South Carolina voters here, I trust to define marriage and to deal with the issue of abortion.


LEMON: But now, he is proposing a national abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy. You have been talking to sources about why he changed his tune, and what are they saying?

BASH: Well, I mean, let's just be clear, it is a black and white A change. He said there, he wants it to be left to the states. And you're right, now he is saying that there should be a 15-week ban. And the answer isn't about policy. It's not about philosophy. It is about the midterms and about the fact that Republicans might want to talk about immigration than really want to talk about the economy and high inflation.

They don't want to talk about the issue of abortion. That is all Democrats are talking about. That is a huge voter issue across the battleground states. And the Democrats have really been able to define their Republican opponents on this issue.

I am told that Senator Graham is seeing that. He did change his tact. He did change his strategy. And it is because he believes Republicans have their heads in the sand and not understanding that the GOP has to come out with something that is not a total ban on abortion.

That is something that, you know, at least allows abortion up to some form of viability, exceptions for rape, incest and the life of a mother, because a lot of states are not doing that. And it is hurting Republican candidates in those states.

I was in Michigan, I was in Ohio, and I heard it from not just Democratic voters, Don, but traditional Republican voters. They are concerned about the issue of abortion. Quite telling.

LEMON: And I have to say, Dana, I said something wrong. Fifteen weeks of pregnancy. I'm not sure of what I said. But it's been a long week.

BASH: Fifteen weeks. You know, it has been a very long week.


BROWNSTEIN: And Don, really quick --

LEMON: Yeah, quick, please.

BROWNSTEIN: If the goal was to dampen the issue, a national ban is putting out fires with gasoline. This is only going to inflame the issue in a way that could make it tougher for Republicans, particularly anyone running in a blue state which -- who is -- you know, expansive abortion laws. He would preempt.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

BASH: Which is why Mitch McConnell hits this.


LEMON: Yeah.

BASH: Thanks.


LEMON: Yeah. Thanks, guys. See you.

The Wisconsin Senate race is in a dead heat right now, and the Republican candidate is betting big money that he can take down the Democrat on one core issue. We are going to tell you what it is, next.




LEMON: Wisconsin Senate race is one of the most competitive heading into November. The latest poll showing that two-term incumbent, Senator Ron Johnson, and Republican, neck-and-neck with Democratic challenger Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.

And now, with less than two months until election day, Johnson and his GOP allies are focusing on crime, which is a growing problem in Wisconsin, and they are painting Barnes as soft on the issue. But he is fighting back. More tonight from CNN's Omar Jimenez.


LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES, WISCONSIN SENATE CANDIDATE: I will make sure that our police have the resources and training they need to keep our communities safe.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): He is going to reallocate money away from the police department.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In (INAUDIBLE) Wisconsin Senate race, incumbent Republican Ron Johnson and Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, are engaged in a fierce debate over public safety.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Dangerously liberal on crime.

BRIAN SCHIMMING, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Our folks statewide are extremely motivated.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Brian Schimming is a conservative political strategist in Wisconsin.

SCHIMMING: There is a lot of people concerned about their personal safety. It is not just a core city problem. It is on a much larger scale, the awareness of it.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Wisconsin did see more than 70% jump in homicides from 2019 to 2021 like many states did, red and blue, driven by a number of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic. In August, Republicans nationwide spent $11 million on ads about crime, but $25 million on ads about inflation.


Then, in the first two weeks of September, $9 million on inflation, but also now $9 million on crime. And in Wisconsin, jumping on comments made by Lieutenant Governor Barnes weeks after the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

BARNES: We need to invest more in neighborhood services and programming. Where that money come from? Well, it can come from overloaded budgets in police departments.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): But, he is making clear now that is not what he is running on.

BARNES: They're playing it on defund the police and abolish rights (ph). That's a lot.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): White a statewide poll shows crime is a top issue, it still ranks behind inflation when it comes to voter concerns. It also shows Johnson is supported by 97% of Republicans polled, and Barnes by 96% of Democrats.

JOE ZEPECKI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We are talking about less than 200,000 voters who are genuinely torn right now about what they are going to do.

JIMENEZ (on camera): Does that make it difficult to strategize?

ZEPECKI: There's crime and public safety issue. It is a base motivator for Republicans. But I don't think crime or public safety is going to be the issue that ultimately determines where those 150 to 200,000 swing voters land.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Tom Otto (ph) is one of those swing voters, voting Trump and Ron Johnson in 2016, Barnes and Democratic Governor Tony Evers in 2018, then Biden in 2020.

UNKNOWN: I usually don't make my decision until I'm standing in line, getting ready to vote.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): While he mentioned crime is a concern, inflation came to mind first.

UNKNOWN: People, I don't think, realize how bad it is. Yeah, you come to a farmer's market and it's wonderful, but how many people can afford it?

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Democrats in the swing county are hopeful for a pick up and worry about the alternative.

(On camera): Do you feel optimistic heading into this election?

UNKNOWN: No. Fear.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): In a deeply polarized state like Wisconsin, both parties are counting on their messaging to persuade voters in the middle and motivate their bases to turn out.

SCHIMMING: One thing in Wisconsin, Ron Johnson has shown that when he speaks directly to the people, in his television advertising, he wins them over.

ZEPECKI: These crime attacks on Barnes? They're not working on Republicans, but I don't see them being a game-changer to the middle part of the electorate, who this is ultimately going to come down to.

JIMENEZ (on camera): Now, even still, the Barnes campaign announced today a coalition of law enforcement officers who are endorsing him from across the state.

Another issue we heard from voters on is social security. A majority of voters here in Wisconsin are over 50 years old. Senator Ron Johnson has floated changing programs like social security and Medicare from mandatory funding to discretionary to be decided on an annual basis.

That, plus inflation, education and more will all be considered by these crucial swing voters as we get closer to November 8th. Don?


LEMON: Omar, thank you very much.

Back in London, the line to pay respects to the queen is now four miles long with an 11-hour wait time. CNN's Nada Bashir is standing in that line, and we're going to hear from her, next.




LEMON: So, Prince William today talking outside of Sandringham castle -- estate, I should say, about how difficult this week has been. Listen.


PRINCE WILLIAM, PRINCE OF WALES: Doing the walk yesterday was challenging. It brought back a few memories. It's one of those moments where you kind of think to yourself, I've prepared myself for this but I'm not kind of prepared. It's this weird kind of thing, because we knew she was 96.


LEMON: So that as thousands or so lined up to pay their respects to the queen at Westminster Hall. That line, four miles long, with an estimated 11-hour wait time.

Joining me now is CNN reporter Nada Bashir, who is in line with the crowds in London. Nada, good morning to you there, I should say. My goodness, the queue, as I say there, is incredibly long, but that's not stopping people from paying their respects to the queen. What kind of stories are you hearing from people about what Queen Elizabeth II meant to them?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, absolutely, it is remarkable to see once again how many people are in this queue waiting for the opportunity to pay their respects to the queen. We are just across the river from Westminster Palace. This is, of course, where people are waiting to go. The queen is lying in state in the hall of Westminster.

I have to say, it is quite cold tonight. We were here at the same time last night. It was a lot warmer. The queue is a lot shorter. It was actually about 2.9 miles long at this time last night. In fact, the wait time was only about six hours. So, it is a little tougher tonight.

We have been speaking to people in queue. People are so upbeat. Many people say they have made friends along the way. We have met these lovely people this morning. We've got Martin (ph), Vicky (ph), Ali (ph), and Amy (ph) who have been waiting. They have traveled actually around four hours to get here. They have been waiting about eight hours.

UNKNOWN: It's been fine. When we've been moving. It's just when we had a stop for a while further back and it was just cold and it hits you hard. Fine on the whole, really. And it's made all the better for bumping into people and just having a bit of a laugh along the way, really, keeping spirits up. So, yeah, it's been okay.

BASHIR: And you guys met in the queue. You have become friends over the way. How important is it for you to be part of this, to pay your respects to the queen?

UNKNOWN: It's really important. I think, you know, we're not going to see anything like this in the future. Being military as well, you know, that is why my allegiance to the queen 10 years ago is quite important to me personally.


It's great to see such a big turnout of people wanting to pay those respects to a magistrate.

BASHIR: And for you guys, this is a moment of history. How are you feeling? Are you looking forward to this? Is it a historic moment for you?

UNKNOWN: Yeah, definitely. There is never going to be anything like this again in my lifetime or hers, really. Never going to see another queen. So, yeah,

BASHIR: You've been in the queue for a long time. How are you feeling? How are you holding up?

UNKNOWN: It has been cold, but it's been all right.

BASHIR: That really is the message that we have been hearing. It is a historic moment. It is a moment that many people are sharing with their families. But also, the message that we've heard from so many people up and down this queue is that they've been meeting friends along the way. This is, of course, a moment they will be cherishing for the years to come. Don?

LEMON: More family wearing their puffy jackets. You need to get one now. We want you to stay warm and safe. We appreciate your reporting. Thank you so much.

And thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.