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Don Lemon Tonight

Special Master Questions Trump's Claims About Mar-A-Lago Docs Being Declassified; Lindsey Graham Proposes 15-Week Abortion Ban; Hurricane Fiona Slams Puerto Rico; Russia Not Expected To Attend U.N. Security Council Meeting On Ukraine; CA Teachers Struggle To Find Affordable Rent. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 20, 2022 - 23:00   ET



HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: So, what he was able to get away with Judge Cannon was to say, hey, maybe they're not classified or maybe I declassified them. And what people were saying at the time, including me, Don, was this isn't like liberal versus conservative, this is just right versus wrong.

And there was a judge who showed up today, Judge Dearie, and he said, you know, it is judging one A, oh, here is a side that has some evidence, here's a side that has none. Who wins? And he made it clear that they are not going to be able to sort of just speculate. They have to come forward with proof. If they can, maybe they will be able to keep the documents up in the air for a while.

I think it's pretty clear that the reason they haven't been advancing or actually saying in court that he declassified is because he didn't, really, and there are consequences in court for lying that he doesn't have any talks to Hugh Hewitt. But that's what the next few days will reveal.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, I asked Nick Akerman in the last hour if he -- if, you know, Trump boxed himself in by, you know, making that claim or expose at least his representatives or accolades out, speaking on television.

Look, you can have your cake and eat it. That's how the special master responded to team Trump, Harry, his excuse for not handing over the evidence. I mean, this is candidate Trump's lawyers. That's what they put forward. So, how do you think that is sitting with the former president?

LITMAN: You know, the former president has wanted to say this in the public sphere. He hasn't wanted to say it in court where you make a false statement, that's a separate crime. So, I think he is, as always, completely brazen, indifferent about saying any old thing, you know, when he is talking on the hustings but not in court.

The courts, overall, had done a pretty good job all the way through. It takes a while to get to them, they're not perfect, but most of the time, you really got to come with the goods or loose, and that's what happened today. A conservative Reagan appointee but a solid judge just said, I'm a judge, one side has evidence, one side doesn't, there is nothing more I need to know. So, you come up with evidence, team Trump, or that is the end of these, you know, suppositions in court.

LEMON: Doug, thanks for standing by so patiently or sitting by so patiently. I want you to check out what Trump said on Hugh Hewitt's show. Harry just mentioned it a few moments ago, but here it is. Watch this.


HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, SALEM RADIO NETWORK: Did you take those papers down there after declassifying them intentionally? Or did you have any idea they were there?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember this, remember this, everything was declassified.


LEMON: If Trump did declassify these documents as he is claiming, wouldn't there be evidence of that?

DOUGLAS LONDON, FORMER SENIOR CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER: Yeah, thanks, Don. To understand declassification and why the Trump team's arguments fell flat with Judge Dearie, who is a veteran of the foreign intelligence surveillance court, he certainly has seen enough classified material on this time, you can look at the website for previously declassified documents.

There are the examples of the CIA report that Saudi Arabia was responsible, the crown prince, for killing Khashoggi. That was produced as an unclassified report. So, it was sterilized, if you would, for classified (INAUDIBLE) before it was released. You can look at the documents.

And that is what we are talking about here, documents that were classified. They go through a process, even if the president did want to declassify them, where you'd see parts of it still blacked out.

You certainly see the classification blocked up because the agencies that own the information or the programs of human resources have an obligation to go through that and protect what they have, and also know what they no longer need to protect. There is no evidence of that there in any of the documents, at least from the photographs that we saw the FBI provided.

LEMON: So, Doug, can't the special master send these documents back to whatever department they came from and ask if they are classified or not, and how long do you think that could possibly take if they indeed would take that step?

LONDON: There certainly will be a paper trail. There's a number and serial attached to each and every report. But I think the judge's point is correct, the evidence is the documents themselves. There are no changes, no corrections, nothing done to redact information, to point out that they have been declassified.

Indeed, there would be a paper trail because all these reports would have to be recalled by whoever issued these reports. They would be available to any American city, to anyone, really, because they are now open information.

And were they classified, were there efforts to still need to be protected? The declassification process has sort of an impact statement, right? What do we need to do to make sure that we can declassify this but still not put someone in danger or endanger some collection capability be technical or even alike?


LEMON: Okay, so, Harry, if you are, you know, Trump's lawyers, aren't you like, well, this is checkmate? I mean, look -- again --

LITMAN: That's it.

LEMON: -- all has to be --

LITMAN: Time to fold on this.

LEMON: Okay. So, because it seems like the evidence is not there, it would be checkmate, then, so, now what?

LITMAN: I think in short order -- and he hasn't been -- it has been a riddle -- he hasn't been open about his order, that is Dearie. But I think in short order, either through him or the 11th Circuit, which could be acting as soon as Friday. We talked about this last week. Those 100 classified documents and everybody agrees that they are classified, Trump has no interest in them all, they're going to go back to DOJ.

LEMON: Okay, this is --

LITMAN: In short order.

LEMON: A 103 classified documents, you know, they're determined to keep them away from everyone. So, that's the material that you're talking about. Finish your thought. Go on.

LITMAN: Yeah. So, they're going -- so, that's what they wanted the most and they're going to be able to use them because they were also worried, if they use them, they could wind up in trouble down the line based on a ruling she can make. So, their number one goal, I think, is going to be achieved and in short order.

Now, we have these 11,000 other documents. We have the whole bramble bush of executive privilege, it has not gone away yet, and we will see what they do in the 11th Circuit.

But the thing they wanted most, the thing that she didn't do in the second ruling, which everyone, including when we talk last week, said was a complete abomination. That's going to get, I think, reversed effectively by him or the 11th Circuit or both within a matter of less than a week.

LEMON: So, Doug, do you have a reaction to it? The prosecutors are suggesting that they may go all the way to the Supreme Court if they lose.

LONDON: There are serious consequences. If the former president has been acting as if this information is declassified and sharing it, either documents themselves or the contents and conversations with those, there needs to be an ongoing damage assessment, which is essentially a counterintelligence review, which has to go hand in hand with the investigation to see who in the president circle, the former president if not the president himself, has been talking about this information, has had access.

You saw Judge Dearie very clearly pointing out that even he doesn't think (INAUDIBLE) clearances, he could see all the documents because there are different colors of classification. It's not just top secret and secret, there's also the very sensitive compartments (INAUDIBLE) privileged, unique, and highly-protected information.

LEMON: And this is a special master.

LONDON: This is a special master. So, is he is saying, I'm obligated to work with justice (INAUDIBLE) before, I would take a look at that. And what does that say for the former president and his team of lawyers who we really don't know who they are talking to these days?

LEMON: So, if you are his lawyer -- I was going to ask Harry, I will ask you -- what are you -- how are you advising him right now? What are you telling Trump? Doug?

LONDON: Well, I am telling Trump, you probably have to be careful that you haven't (INAUDIBLE) yourself because, again, I think, as the judge pointed out, there is no evidence that there is that paper process that shows. I mean, the president calls to pardon anybody. But usually, it is to sign a piece of paper and let the Department of Corrections know that somebody is being released.

So, without that, I think he is -- I am no lawyer, but I know the danger has already occurred, the consequences are already out there just based on his behavior and the lack of control over information that is of greatest sensitivity.

LEMON: How are you advising if you are his attorney, Harry?

LITMAN: So, two quick -- well, his attorney, we were checkmate, just as you said. We are lost on this point. Try to make other ones and try to keep delaying things, gum up the works. But your attempt to eat your cake and have it too, that's finish.

By the way, on the hunt for classified documents, as Doug said, Dearie might actually give them back without even looking at them. He's got proof from an affidavit that they are classified, nothing from Trump. He does not want to even see them if he can avoid it. This is quintessential stuff for the executive branch, not for judges to be mocking about him.

LEMON: Okay. So, listen, there is this thing with the states concerning the 11th Circuit. Eleven republican-led states have now filed a brief in the 11th Circuit in support of Trump's bid to pause the DOJ investigation. Does that send a message politically, Harry? What does that mean here? Does that have any legal weight?

LITMAN: I mean, if you -- the legal weight is whatever persuasive argument, and there aren't any. It's only a political document. It's polemical. It tries to say that the Biden Justice Department is completely corrupt. Therefore, you have to do special things. It really is, I think, just an objective term, a political document with really no legal argument at all.


I don't think it will have any impact on the 11th Circuit, notwithstanding. The 11th Circuit, again, this a right or wrong thing, not a liberal or conservative thing.

LEMON: Right. So, this is a part of the gumming up the works?


LEMON: Yeah. Okay. So, Doug, while the DOJ is dealing with these documents, this court fight, these classified documents, you know, is there anything that the intelligence community can do to protect our assets, deal with the national security implications of this potential breach?

LONDON: That's going to be part of the counterintelligence review and that has to be ongoing regardless because of the nature of self- defense to protect ourselves, our secrets and our sources. Clearly, there has to be a determination based on looking at timelines from the time the former president left office to the time these documents were clearly recognized as being out of control, out of the secure compartmented areas.

Have there been really consistencies? Have there been anomalies affecting our collection? Has there been a change in the posture of our human sources? Has there been a change in the posture of our enemies and rivals to determine if something go wrong and when did it go wrong?

As you suggested, Don, we take corrective course, and it could mean extra training the agency deep behind, if you would, enemy territory, which comes at a great risk for shutting down progress because we are being fed bogus information by a rival who has already compromised a certain capability we had based on the loss of control on these documents.

LEMON: Wow! Also, tonight, Harry, the January 6 Select Committee officially announced that they are going to hold another public hearing next week. Member, Zoe Lofgren, says that they are getting a lot of new information and following the money. Where do you see all of this heading? You have any idea?

LITMAN: Well, time is ticking on them. They're going to shortly after this, in mid-October, do a provisional report and a final one in December, and then, you know, Cheney is out, Kinzinger is out.

I think they're not certain themselves and they're actually having kind of discussion and debate within. Do they do a whole new team, follow the money, the pack, or do they try to -- they've got a lot of new information about the secret service, et cetera. I think they haven't figured is out yet, so God knows I haven't.

LEMON: Doug, I just want to get your reaction. There is a new surveillance video obtained by CNN showing Republican county official in Georgia and operatives working with a Trump attorney. They spent hours inside a restricted area of local elections office on the day voting systems were breached. There is so much to unpack here. You've got some concerns?

LONDON: If I am a hostile foreign intelligence service and I'm looking to target the United States, and I think we've seen coming out of a lot of the investigations, the reporting, the key objectives of our rivals and adversaries are simply to sow seeds of chaos, you know, take away the trust that we have in our institutions.

They've got real opportunities here to target people. They can facilitate to strike just that, people who have common cause, because their allegiance no longer really is to nation and Constitution, but in advancing a particular personality or particular political agenda.

So, I am sure that as these investigations are going on and these legal investigations will all become public on individuals and people, contacts and who are operating, they certainly have the Russians, the Chinese, Iranians, go through the list of our adversaries, trying to identify potential recruitment targets.

People that they can go to either as a foreign government or under a false flag, some other general to go and approach them to get their cooperation, to provide them the means to further cause this sort of instability, to further the chaos and to further the division that is creating this toxic environment.

LEMON: Thank you, Harry. Thank you, Doug. I appreciate it, enjoyed the conversation.

LONDON: Thank you. Thanks, Doug.

LEMON: Republicans have been saying abortion is really about states' rights. So why is Lindsey Graham suddenly singing a different tune?




LEMON: So, Senator Lindsey Graham defending his controversial proposed 15-week abortion -- national abortion ban during an interview on Fox today. Listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This is not a state's rights issue, this is a human right issue. I'm not going to sit on the sidelines in Washington D.C. and tell the pro-life community Washington is closed for business.


LEMON: For more, I'm going to bring in now CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover, CNN's senior political analyst Kirsten Powers, and senior political commentator Alice Stewart. Good evening one and all.

Alice, I'm going to start with you. What Graham is pushing far goes against the Dobbs decision itself and what Republicans have been saying, which is that abortion should be left up to the states. Is he revealing the truth about what Republican lawmakers actually want to do?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: No, Don, he is revealing the truth about what he wants to do. He wants to put Democrats on record as holding very extreme views on abortion.

The problem is, he is also putting Republicans on defense on this issue. Look, we have been fighting and advocating to overturn Roe v. Wade for decades. Now, we have done so, we have spiked the football, and we can't move the goalposts. That is exactly what he is trying to do.

We have been fighting to take this abortion issue out of the hands of nine elected justices and put it in the hands of elected officials at the state level, which is where it should be and where it should remain. And for Lindsey Graham to come now and say, let's go back and put -- federalize this, that goes against what we have been fighting for. And look, there are consequences for this.


We have seen already that some states are putting abortions back in place and these are the consequences. But what we have been fighting for is to make this stays at the state level where it is best decided by the people.

LEMON: Graham sounded a lot different in June, Kirsten. Listen to this.


GRAHAM: All of us in the conservative world have believed that there is nothing in the Constitution giving the federal government the right to regulate abortion.


LEMON: So, he made it clear then that this was all about states' rights. So, what changed?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He made it clear in multiple other appearances where he said that it should be handled by the states. Now, he is coming out with this new rationale that he has decided this is a -- quote, unquote -- "human rights issue" and so, therefore, I guess it's okay that he changed his position even though he didn't change his position, according to him.

But I think what he is not realizing here is that women are humans, they are humans with human rights, and that is not a factor in his bill. He is completely ignoring the reality of pregnancy for women, the reality of the fact that after 15 weeks is when a lot of women will find out whether the pregnancy is even viable, if there are severe fetal abnormalities.

The exceptions are difficult. You know, they put up roadblocks with a lot of sort of bureaucratic hoops to jump through and put people at a very vulnerable point, makes them even more vulnerable.

LEMON: Go ahead, Margaret.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I am -- I have just a little -- this what this reveals, Lindsey Graham's change in position actually reveals, is actually many schisms and factions in the modern American conservative movement. And Lindsey Graham has said two different things that seem contradictory. And they are contradictory from his position.

But they have represented different factions that have long been part of the conservative movement. There has been a part of the conservative movement that has deeply socially conservative.

And from the beginning, when Roe v. Wade was first made into law, they wanted to overturn it because they believe that all unborn life should be protected at the federal level. That is the position that Lindsey Graham is supporting now, not what he supported before.

Then there are other conservatives, like Alice's position, that she just very articulately mentioned, which is that, you know what, we believe in life, but we believe that it should be a states' rights issue, and we believe that this was decided.

Roe v. Wade was decided based on terrible reasoning and an invented right to privacy in the Constitution. This is bad jurisprudence. For that reason, we will overturn it and let federalism be the argument. So, you are just seeing the schism and the conservative movement play itself out in one man.

LEMON: But then there is the political part of it where it could be detrimental to Republicans come midterms.

HOOVER: Then there is the pragmatic politician which is what you get from Mitch McConnell, saying, no, no, no, we are back to federalism. And basically, the conservative movement decided that the argument they would put forward to the American people for the overturn of Roe v. Wade would be a federalism argument. It is a states' rights argument because they could all agree on that as a messaging point, even though they had different reasons for arriving at that strategy.

LEMON: But is it logical to say that this is a states' rights? Yes, we believe in the sanctity of life, right? Kirsten, do you understand? You see I'm going with this? But they think the states should decide. And if the states decide, then it is okay then -- do you understand? Whatever the states decide, it is okay, but we -- it doesn't logically make sense.

HOOVER: It doesn't make sense. But also --


HOOVER: -- the conservative movement have never agreed.

LEMON: Yeah. Go ahead, Kirsten.

POWERS: Yeah. I don't think it makes sense and I also think that if the Republicans were in control of the government, you know, If they were in control of Congress and control of the White House, I think that most of them would decide that they wanted to impose this on the states that don't have these restrictive abortion laws right now because what we are seeing is in red states, we are seeing them come up with these very restrictive abortion laws, and that is not going to be happening in the blue states.

HOOVER: That happened in Kansas.

POWERS: Not even a tiny part of me that thinks that if Republicans were in control of the government, that they would not come around and do exactly what Lindsey Graham is doing and probably a lot worse.

LEMON: Go ahead.

STEWART: I think what's important for people to keep in mind is that two things can be true at the same time. You can be 100% pro-life and support the sanctity of life. You can also be rational enough to realize that you have to modify your views somewhat if you want any type of pro-life language and laws implemented at the state level.

If we are so dramatic and so far to the right on this issue where there are no exceptions in very early term bands, then we are not going to get anything done. So, I think the more people can hold true to their views and values on this, but also recognize we need to have exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother, that is a more pragmatic way to move forward.


LEMON: But that still does not address the states' rights part of it. I mean --

STEWART: I'm talking about at the state level. I'm talking about state legislators making these types of laws at the state level. Nothing at the federal level. I'm talking at the state level.

LEMON: So, listen, last month, GOP congressman -- Congresswoman Nancy Mace, I should say, said that abortion would be an issue for Republicans in November if they did not moderate their stance. But then, she said this today. Listen.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): Roe v. Wade is extreme. That is not where the rest of the country is. And in fact, under Obama's administration, the Democrats had an opportunity to codify Roe v. Wade and decided not to. So, this hysteria over Roe v. Wade is completely manufactured.


LEMON: We were just talking about Kansas, so let us take it deeper. In Kansas, voters rejected a ballot measure --

HOOVER: That's right.

LEMON: -- that would have a lot of lawmakers to ban abortions there. In New York, Democrat Pat Ryan channeled abortion anger into a surprise win for a seat in Congress. Is that anger really manufactured, Margaret?

HOOVER: No, it's not. I mean, here is the thing, it's not so clear that in red states they would necessarily be passing these restrictive and horrific abortion laws. Certainly, in some, they are. And in some, they're trying to. Look at Louisiana.

But in another red state, Kansas registered sweeping numbers of new voters and passed, overturned, prevented serious restrictions and codified protections for abortion. It's a very surprising outcome just weeks after the Dobbs decision was handed down.

So, this is, make no mistake, a polarizing issue that has galvanized support of Democrats and moderate Republicans. There are some -- a few protest (ph) Republicans left. And it has blunted what would have been historic wins that would have swept Republicans into the House and the Senate.

LEMON: You think this is a game-changer?

HOOVER: It is -- It has blunted the emotion and the momentum that Republicans had on their side. It is -- I think it has been changed in the Senate.

KIRSTEN: But Margaret --

HOOVER: I don't it ever turns the House. That's my projection. Go ahead, Kirsten.

POWERS: But Margaret, I think the point that you just brought up was really important because you are talking about what the voters did, right? So, that -- I think that is the point I was trying to make. I think the leaders in the Republican Party think they are out of step even with a lot of their own voters.

And so, when it was put to the voters, we saw one reaction. But when it's been left to the people who are legislating, we've seen a completely different reaction. And I think we see this in a lot of places in the Republican Party, frankly, where they are out of step with what the voters believe.

But I think particularly on abortion, there seems to be a real disconnect. And I could see if they were in control of the federal government, I could see them going ahead and doing it just to appease a wing of the party. Does that make sense?

HOOVER: You are absolutely right. It is evidence of this sort of special interest group that has a chokehold on the base of the Republican Party. You see it not only in the issue of abortion, but many other issues. Kirsten, to your point, I think it's really astute.

LEMON: Listen, Arizona could soon join the states with the most restrictive abortion ban. The judge is set to rule on whether a 1901 ban on nearly all abortions could be enforced. Arizona is a swing state that President Biden won by fewer than 11,000 votes. Is this ban, if this ban happens, what do you think the political impact is, Alice?

STEWART: This will be very impactful based on what we have already seen as we just pointed out in Kansas and New York. When abortion is front and center and the issue that people are talking about, it has shown to be a motivating factor for Democrats, many women and moderate Republicans.

So, if this is going to be a huge issue in Arizona, this is going to drive people to the polls that are not specifically voting for Republicans, which is all the more reason why it makes absolutely no sense that Lindsey Graham brought up this measure at this point because now, everyone is talking about abortions, when Republicans need and want the focus to be on economy, inflation and crime.

That is what we should be talking about, that is what is helpful for Republicans, and not talking about abortion.

LEMON: I got to run, but Margaret, Republicans going, Lindsey? No!

HOOVER: You bet. You bet. Ask Mark Kelly. He is saying, Lindsey, keep going!


LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it.

Hurricane Fiona devastating Puerto Rico where the majority of roughly 3.1 million residents have no power. The storm is expected to intensify to a Category 4 hurricane by tomorrow. We are going to tell you where it is headed. That is next.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Hurricane Fiona carving a path of devastation across the Caribbean now intensifying to a Category 3 hurricane, slamming into Turks and Caicos as it pushes north. It could reach Category 4 strength. That as rain is still falling on an already battered Puerto Rico, where our CNN's Leyla Santiago reports more than a million people are still without power or running water.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hurricane Fiona wiping out power to the majority of the roughly 3.1 million residents here, 60% of them without water, and about 1,200 people housed in shelters.

Five years ago today, Puerto Rico was ravaged by hurricane Maria.


Now, barely recovered from that catastrophic storm, the island and its people are suffering again. Officials say at least two have died on the island as a result of the storm. One man swept away by flooding river behind his home. Another man died while trying to fill his generator with gasoline, setting it on fire.

This morning, we traveled with the National Guard as they tried to clear roads in the mountainous region Cayey, Their goal? Access and to start moving in much-needed supplies to these isolated areas.

(On camera): In the island's interior, like Cayey, a very mountainous municipality, this is part of the problem. The mudslides have blocked the road and blocked access to that power substation.

(Voice-over): Hector Rivera Santiago (ph) was gathering drinking water off of the mountainside.

(On camera): So, he came to the mountainside to get water because there is no water at his house.

CARLOS VARGAS, CAYEY, PR RESIDENT: Power, we know that, you know, we're going to face that and we can deal with that. But the biggest concern is water. Can't live without water.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Carlos Vargas lives just beyond a big mudslide that blocked access to the road. The National Guard had to evacuate about 35 elderly patients from a facility here before the mudslide demolished the building.

LT. COL. JOSUE FLORES MORALES, PUERTO RICO NATIONAL GUARD: We carry the elderly, their chairs, single beds. We just ran over and carry them over the landslide so we can get them out before the house collapse.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): The recovery ahead not without its own set of challenges.

GOV. PEDRO PIERLUISI, GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO: The hurricane and now, the storm, the related storm, has impacted the whole island. So, we are still in the middle of this event. We are basically responding at this point. The next step will be recovery. We are not there yet.

SANTIAGO (on camera): And also, tonight, in Cayey, Don, we had a gas station where there are lines forming. People coming down to get gas, get diesel to power those generators that they need in order to be able to turn on their lights in their home.

In terms of when power could be expected to be restored, the governor says today that by tomorrow night, he expects a good chunk of the island should have power restored with one exception, the southern part, which is the most impacted part of the island. Don?


LEMON: All right. Leyla Santiago, thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin today saying his forces need -- quote -- "weapons of destruction as soon as possible." What that could mean for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, that's next.




LEMON: New tonight, we are learning Russia is not expected to attend the U.N. Security Council meeting on Ukraine. That as some Russian- occupied parts of Ukraine are pushing for local authorities to hold referenda on joining Russia.

Meanwhile, the Russian government challenging their laws on military service, now making violation of military service duties such as desertion and evasion from service, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

And today, Vladimir Putin is saying that his forces need -- quote -- "weapons of destruction as soon as possible." This all as the world awaits a possible address from Putin. It is unclear what will be discussed.

Joining me now, CNN national security analyst Steve Hall. Steve, there are so much to talk about. Thank you for joining us now. Russia taking a lot of drastic measures, Putin upping the rhetoric, and it is all coming amid this fierce Ukrainian counteroffensive. I want you to listen to what the U.S. deputy secretary of state said today. Watch this.


DEP. SEC. WENDY SHERMAN, U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: We see Putin talking about mobilizing more people in his country. We see him putting forward these sham referenda in some of the parts, regions of Ukraine, a sham referendum that he thinks he is going to conduct in three days. All of this is desperation by Vladimir Putin. And he is on the ropes. It, of course, increases our concern that he will use kinds of weapons of war that he should not.


LEMON: She said Russia is on the ropes. Is Russia on the ropes, Steve?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, Don, I think to understand, you know, what Putin's situation is and whether or not he is on the ropes, I think you just have to understand where things are right now. So, you just start with the obvious, Ukraine. To state the obvious, things are not going well in Ukraine.

We all remember, in February, we were saying, boy, how long are the Ukrainians going to be able to hang out? And now, we are whispering, is it possible that they could not only win the war but perhaps take back Crimea? So, Ukraine is, of course, first and foremost.

But secondly, look at what has been happening to Putin's so-called friends outside of Russia. So, when he went with the Chinese leader, Xi, the other day, he got to talk to him behind closed doors, much less behind closed doors when he met with the Indian leader, Modi, who actually gave him a firm wag of the finger. I mean, it looked like he was sitting in the principal's office.

The last thing, I think, we have to focus on in terms of trying to figure out what Putin could do and where he stands is -- this is a little strange, but it's these frozen conflicts. Lots of people have forgotten about them. The Soviet Union sent in troops at the end of the Soviet era to places like Armenia and Azerbaijan who just won (ph) at it again, basically in a local war, that normally the Russians would have stepped in to stop. But they are tied down in Ukraine right now.


And so, people are feeling the ropes, the frozen conflicts are starting to unfreeze. And so, yeah, they're on the ropes and it's not looking good.

LEMON: I want to ask you specifically about these referenda in Donetsk and Luhansk. You say that it won't stop Putin's problems. Why not?

HALL: It is not going to solve his problems because at the end of the day, it is not really going to change anything. So, it's not as though the Ukrainians are going to, oh, okay, well, so now, you know, in the Donbas and Luhansk and Donetsk, these people have decided that they want to have their own referenda and they want to join Russia and the Russia has agreed to annex yet another part into Crimea, and so, therefore, we're just going to sit back and let that happen.

Ukrainians are no way going to let that happen. They're going to continue and they're going to push in and they're going to try to exert military control. Putin in the recent past has said, well, wait a second, that would be attacking Russia. Well, that's kind of moving the goalposts. It doesn't count if you annex a place then call it yours and say it's off limits. The Ukrainians are going to have none of that, and they're probably going to have some significant success.

LEMON: Yeah. Putin is saying that Russia needs -- quote -- "weapons of destruction as soon as possible. "What do you think that means, weapons of destruction? He didn't say mass destruction but he did say weapons of destruction. What do you think that means?

HALL: You know, he is saying some very strange stuff, and that's one strange thing to say. I mean, another strange thing to do is, you know, to go to North Korea and say, hey, can you give us some ammo? I mean (INAUDIBLE) supposedly gone to Russian military, and you got to get your drones, by the way, from Iran. I mean, that doesn't look like a very blunted military.

But it is not just the military. It is all of Russia that seems to be on the brink of fraying. I think you have to think of Russia right now as a ship. Of course, Putin is the captain of the ship. But there is a lot of other really important people on the ship, these people who run the place and who are close to Putin and work under his auspices.

But if the ship starts to take on water which it is going to and it looks like it's going to sink, these powerful people, the heads of the security services, the heads of the police, aren't going to simply sit back and say, boy, it is too bad we have this guy as the captain, and the ship is going to go down. They're going to do something about it. They're going to try to change the captain. That is, I think, what Putin is facing right now on why he's saying some of the things that he's saying.

LEMON: Steve Hall, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Soaring inflation pushing teachers in California out of their homes. So, where are they going? We will tell you, next.




LEMON: Across the country, teachers are in short supply and under pressure as they deal with soaring inflation and rent. Many cannot afford to live where they work.

CNN's David Culver reports from Los Angeles where educators are being pushed to the brink.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Shanika Whiten, it is a struggle that starts before the sun is up. A single mom living in Los Angeles. Battling debilitating MS.


(LAUGHTER) CULVER (voice-over): And yet, still determined to get to work on time. She let us tag along on the drive, telling me about her journey.

WHITEN: There has been months where I would worry about, oh, am I going to be able to afford to pay rent this month?

CULVER (voice-over): Shanika has worked more than 20 years in special education, always for the L.A. School System, but rising rents and a surge in cost of living have nearly forced her and other school employees out.

WHITEN: It's just sad to live the way we are because of inflation. Everything is going up except your paycheck. Your paycheck is not going up. So, how am I going to continue to survive?

CULVER (voice-over): It's a common burden felt by teachers and other school employees nationwide. On average, rents have nearly doubled in the past 10 years. Cost of living increasing at roughly six times the rate it was a decade ago. To retain teaching talent, school systems are now doubling as both employers and landlords.

From mountainous Eagle County, Colorado to the beach paradise of Maui in Hawaii, school districts are funding affordable housing for staff. But construction is often years off, leaving some school districts like Milpitas and San Jose to act urgently, asking parents in this message to step forward if they have a room for rent. Some 66 people are already offering their homes to educators.

Also, in Silicon Valley, this former convent no longer for nuns, now used as teacher housing. The National Education Association supports this kind of measure, affordable housing and more pay for teachers. Back at Norwood learning Village in L.A. where Shanika lives, the need is now.

(On camera): The demand for these apartments is soaring. This property has 29 units altogether. Nearly 600 people are on the waitlist, hoping just one of them opens up. Most of those individuals work for the school system.

SAM CHANG, MANAGER, NORWOOD LEARNING VILLAGE: The need is really great. That's basically what that means.

CULVER (voice-over): Sam Chang manages the facility and lives here with his wife, a teacher, and their kids.

(on camera): When you hand over the keys, what is the reaction?

CHANG: Normally, it is a very positive, joyous, momentous type of reaction. Lots of people, they almost feel in disbelief because of not only the price that they are getting the unit for but the quality of the housing here.

CULVER (voice-over): In a county where the average rent for a three- bedroom is $3,000 a month, Shanika is paying less than half that and feels like one of the lucky ones.

WHITEN: Living where I am, paying what I pay, it is a blessing. It's a blessing.

CULVER (on camera): Don, teachers here in Los Angeles start with a salary around $56,000 a year. That puts them in this difficult middle ground.


They are not too much to qualify for California's affordable housing. They are not enough, they point out, to cover comfortable, convenient housing. It has left school systems desperately trying to find creative ways to both recruit and retain what is a dwindling workforce. Don?


LEMON: David, thank you. And thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Tonight, what happens now that lawyers for the former president have seen their wishes fulfilled and needs to learn it might be more than they bargained for. They wanted a court-appointed special master to scrutinize documents, including ones marked top-secret and higher, taken from Mar-a-Lago.


COOPER: They wanted this so badly. The opening line of their August 22nd court filing before Judge Aileen Cannon read, and I'm quoting now, "politics cannot be allowed to impact the administration of justice."