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Don Lemon Tonight

Special Master Orders Trump To Prove Claim Of FBI 'Planting' Evidence; NY A.G. Sues Trump Over Fraud Allegations; Campaigns Ramp Up With Less Than 50 Days To Midterms; Alex Jones Admonished By Judge As Sandy Hook Defamation Trial Goes Off The Rails; CNN Original Series: "The Murdochs: Empire Of Influence" Premieres Sunday On CNN. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 22, 2022 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Nick, the Trump's lawyers will respond to this?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Oh, I think they're going to hide under the rocks. I mean, this whole thing is designed basically to get Donald Trump to come forward with a sworn statement, under oath, saying that, yes, stuff was planted by the FBI, or that the FBI moved things around and they are not where they say they were, or there is other stuff that is not on this inventory.

So, basically, he is the only witness. He is the only guy that can say this. And so, what they are forcing Donald Trump to do is to take what he has done on Fox News and actually come forward with real evidence in the court of law that is admissible, is not speculation, is not some super conspiracy theory that he has been spewing all over the place, and come down and really show that he has got something.

And he doesn't. The lawyers are never going to let him do that because if he puts in a sworn statement, he is leaving himself open for another charge of lying under oath to a federal court. So, he's -- the bottom line is, he is toast! There is nothing he can do --


LEMON: I was going say screwed.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: There is a consistency problem here. He said many times in public, on television, there were all kinds of things in those boxes. I didn't know what was in those boxes. So, it's very hard to get from I didn't have any idea what was in the boxes to I know they planted things.

LEMON: Yeah. Yeah. Do you agree with that?

JIM WALDEN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I completely agree. Judge Dearie is a no-nonsense judge. He's not going to take P.R. statements and say that that has any merit in his court. He is going to say, as these guys said, prove it. This is a very dangerous game for them to play. As Nick said, this is just another criminal charge waiting on top of all the other criminal charges that are being investigated.

LEMON: So, how do they play it then? Ask him how --

WALDEN: I think they declare victory in some way and get out of this thing because this is not going to end well for them. This is going to end with perjury charges. It's going to end with a hearing being called that they are not prepared for. And if they try the P.R. strategy in Judge Dearie's court, it is going to go even worse for the lawyers.

LEMON: Okay.

AKERMAN: And politically, it's terrible.

LEMON: Okay. Okay. Let me just -- you said they are going to claim victory of some sort in some way. How does one do that in this instance and then get out of this? How do you get out it at this point? Aren't they kind of in for a penny and for a pound?

WALDEN: I don't think you do it credibly, but what they say is, well, all we really cared about is the special master looking at the other items that were seized in the search. We never said we were going to take possession over custody of the classified documents. We conceded that we didn't have a right to those. It's not terribly credible, the breach in their case, but that's one way that they could try to declare victory and move on.

MILLER: The exit strategy is just that, which is, okay, so, you deal with the classified stuff. We just want to make sure these other things aren't privilege, which is even harder because the Presidential Records Act of 1978 says presidential records, privilege or otherwise, are the property of the government, not the former president. So, it's tangled.

But remember, Don, the key here is, there is two strategies here. There is a legal strategy that is going on in the courtroom, but then there is a propaganda strategy which is, you know, we saw the former president appear today on his own social media wearing the "Q" pin from QAnon with the QAnon slogan, you know, the storm is coming, and other QAnon slogan under it.

He has never -- he has always kept an arms-length distance from QAnon, the conspiracy group that, you know, has been responsible for an attempted shooting in Washington, a homicide in New York City, and all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories.

But if you are in a position right now saying the FBI planted things, this is another witch hunt, another program by the deep state and its intelligence agencies, having the QAnon echo chamber is going to be helpful. So, he has got to balance between what his lawyers are willing to do and what his followers (INAUDIBLE) into.

LEMON: Is this desperation? If you -- If you listen to what John says, it sounds --

AKERMAN: It's desperation and it's going nowhere for him. I mean, it is going right down the toilet. This is politically just toxic because he's going to keep this in the headlines right through the elections.

LEMON: But I don't understand. You said, how he gets out of it, they are going to get out of it, and they are going to try. This is what you believe. But how do you untangle something legally -- how do you untangle yourself from something that you have doubled and tripled down on?

AKERMAN: Oh, it's all twisted around on us.

LEMON: How do you untangle yourself from that?

AKERMAN: It's like Vietnam, you declare victory and you leave, even though you didn't win.

MILLER: And that's the examination of the documents where we are -- we're kind of stuck in that drama right now.


There is still the possession of the documents. There still the classified documents. So, in that case, he got exposure there or do we see, as often happens, he throws others under the bus where, well, the obstruction was the people who talk to the feds, not me. I didn't know. I wasn't there.

AKERMAN: Well, I think that's part of it. But I think the bottom line is, the documents, the 11,000 documents don't really relate to the classified documents. But what they could relate to is what happened on January 6. I mean, no one is really focused on that. Remember, the January 6 Committee asked for documents from Trump's White House, and they got certain documents.

LEMON: Isn't this why the DOJ wanted -- why they filed -- why they filed that appeal, to be able to use the records and continue their investigation, because of what you're saying now, because they don't know what these documents were, and that those documents may be leading to something as what you are saying?

AKERMAN: Oh, I think that's actually absolutely right.

LEMON: Listen, what about the possibility, Jim, of them opening up the special master, saying, I'm open to witnesses here. I'm open to witnesses to testify about these documents and the FBI search. Does that lead to more legal peril for Trump?

WALDERN: I certainly think that that's the bait that the Trump lawyers would be stupid to take. If they start calling witnesses, they start putting witnesses on the stand. First of all, those people are going to have to be prepared to tow the Trump line. And Judge Dearie is going to cut to the quick and start cross examining the witnesses himself.

This is -- as I said before, this is not going to end well. And -- but what I think we are all saying is, they have a short-term strategy, but they don't have a long-term strategy because the long term strategy here is when the FBI does those classified documents for fingerprints and finds all the people that handled them, including the two that were in the former president's desk.

And then people are going to be running scared. Once they realize that that process is going to be underway, it is going to be a real problem for a lot of people that were handling documents that they knew they shouldn't have had.

LEMON: John, one of the most astonishing things I've ever -- excuses I've ever heard from anyone, and I've heard a lot here, especially team Trump over the last five, six years, was what he said about declassification last night on Fox News. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There doesn't have to be a process as I understand it. You know, different people see different things. But as I understand it, there doesn't have to be. You're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, it's declassified, even by thinking about it.


LEMON: I mean -- wow! I mean -- let me just (INAUDIBLE) background here. It is absurd because the special master, Judge Dearie, has already made it clear that the documents are classified unless Trump provides some sort of evidence of declassification. There appears to be no evidence of declassification. So, that is another false claim.

MILLER: I mean, you can order it to be declassified, but you have to give that order to someone, and then for it to be declassified, that order has to be recorded and carried out.

The DNI, and I say this as a former deputy assistant director of the DNI, the DNI has all of those documents and they are doing a classification review. Are they still classified -- are they still classified at the level that they worry when they left the White House? And so far, the answer to all of that is yes.

So, unless that they found a memo saying, declassified this document from the White House, that is highly unlikely. And you certainly can't think about it and declassify it. You actually have to write it down somewhere.

WALDEN: The thing that is crazy is that those words came out of his mouth. He actually said, even by thinking about declassification. I think we've all read the statute. It's not there.

AKERMAN: And in fact, the one witness, the only witness that they have is Donald Trump himself.

LEMON: I'm just surprised that the -- I think it was Hannity, didn't just like laugh on his face or didn't question him on that. I mean, that is the most absurd thing I've ever heard.


AKERMAN: That's not what they do. LEMON: As a journalist, that is the most absurd thing. It is like a child saying, I didn't eat the cookies or whatever, and then the cookies -- the evidence is all over his face. It's bizarre!

AKERMAN: Even more bizarre --

LEMON: Oh, boy.

AKERMAN: -- is the portion about the fee. I mean, it's basically set up that no one trust Donald Trump to pay the fee at the end of the day to the help that is working with Judge Dearie on this. If you look at that, they set it up so they can hold Donald Trump in contempt if he doesn't pay his fees. I'll bet you there are a lot of lawyers out there that represented Donald Trump that wish they had that provision in their engagement letters.

LEMON: This is a fascinating conversation. You guys think it's over? Do you think he has no more moves in the chessboard, not even in the Supreme Court?


LEMON: You don't think even the Supreme Court?

AKERMAN: No. I think -- there's not even a chance.


That opinion from the 11th Circuit, three zip, it's well-reasoned, it's on the money. There's no way that goes anywhere.

WALDEN: Including two of his own appointees.


LEMON: Wow! Thank you. Good to see you, all of you.

I want to bring in now CNN contributor and Donald Trump biographer, Michael D'Antonio. He is author of the new book "High Crimes." Michael, good to see you. You've been listening to this conversation.


LEMON: What do you think?

D'ANTONIO: Well, I think that your panel is absolutely right, that the president -- former president doesn't have any moves left. And you also can see across the spectrum that he's running out of moves and running out of lives.

And that comment about how he could declassify things in his mind is the same lie that he told when he was deposed around 15 years ago when he said, well, the value of my company is based on how I feel inside.

So, this is a person who has never accepted concrete reality but is running out of people who will listen to him when he offers his delusions.

LEMON: Well, he is running out of people in the legal realm, right?


LEMON: Judges and special masters, but he is not running out of supporters, you know, around the country who still believe that he can declassify something like, you know, Barbara Eden ph).


LEMON: On "Bewitched." Go on.


D'ANTONIO: The similar issue with this whole problem of Maggie Haberman's reporting on Trump's purported wealth and --

LEMON: Let me say what the reporting is and I want to get you, because this is an exclusive detail, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman's new book called "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America," including that Trump once received a least payment entirely in gold bars, and you are calling this the trumpiest thing that you have ever heard.

D'ANTONIO: Well, it really is the trumpiest thing I've ever heard. And like so many trumpy things, you really have to question the details and wonder, did this actually happen? And if it actually happened, did it happen the way it is reported or at least the former president's people claim? And lastly, who was involved?

So, think about who might have a thousand pounds of gold hanging around because that's what a few dozen bars of gold away, and they're worth $15 million. So, the other question is, who has made $15 million that he wants to hide in gold bars?

Well, we know what kind of people want to hide things like that. It's people who are, as Donald Trump said about immigrants, drug dealers and criminals and murderers. These are bad people that he has obviously in business with.

And the other thing that is happening here is that his identity, the identity of his family -- and I actually think this ripple out to the self-concept of all of his followers -- it's all crumbling, and this is devastating to them as people, but also as public figures and business leaders.

LEMON: Uh-hmm. And listen, Michael, I wonder, you know, just sitting and listening here listening to these three gentlemen, the gravity of this, and then the reality settling in for him and for the people, as you said, his family members and people he did business with, just, you know, they are adults and they did that.

But the people he co-opted around the country when this happened and then he's going to continue to lie to them and say, I am being attacked, I'm wondering how long it is before he starts to attack the special master and call the special master a rhino or a deep state or even a racist, you know. Look, he just attacks people.

And I'm just wondering what that is going to cause around the country. How it's going to cause people to react around the country. Are they going to believe it? Are they going to double down? Are they going to double down and believe it or they are not going to believe it and then, you know, become disillusioned in some odd, weird, traumatic, violent thing might happen?

D'ANTONIO: Well, it's a big challenge to the people who support Donald Trump because one moment after another, one day after another, there is a new revelation about how much he lied to them. And if you think about how people eventually turn, it's when there is that last straw.

And really, everything that is coming out now is suggesting that the original things that he claimed about being so smart, about being so rich, those were all lies from the very start.


And those of us around New York City and who have dealt with him for many years knew this. I mean, another big issue that Maggie raises is his manipulation of Forbes magazine and his threat to Malcolm Forbes to out him as a gay man background 1987.

This notion that he was always campaigning to get a higher peg on the Forbes's list of the most wealthy is really appalling, and I think that his followers are going to see that.

LEMON: Thank you, Michael. Appreciate it.

D'ANTONIO: Thank you.

LEMON: Yeah. There you go.

Next, a tale of two elections. With the midterms just 48 hours away, what are the issues driving Democrats and Republicans to the polls?




LEMON: We are less than 50 days away from the midterms. And as Democrats and Republicans hit the campaign trail, a tale of two elections playing out all across the country. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more now.


MARYLOU BLAISDELL, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: Two years ago, if you would've said to me four years ago, Roe v. Wade will be overturned, I would've said you're crazy, that's will never happen, but it happened.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Marylou Blaisdell, the fall election is first and foremost about abortion rights.

BLAISDELL: I thought that my generation had that issue solved. But apparently, we don't, and we are starting all over again.

ZELENY (voice-over): But for Gary Hendricks, the November vote is primarily about President Biden.

GARY HENDRICKS, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: The people are unhappy with what Biden is doing, number one.

ZELENY (voice-over): And a chance to put a check on democratic policies in Washington.

HENDRICKS: It was just anti-oil. I mean, I can see you want to save the environment, but do it at a pace that the -- it's not going to hurt the world.

ZELENY (voice-over): It's one midterm election, but two decidedly different campaigns are underway here in New Hampshire and across the country. Democrats are trying to tap into an urgent desire to protect abortion rights and democracy. That message resonates with Laura Miller, a pediatrician who said she paid little attention to politics before the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade.

(On camera): Did that make you more motivated to vote?

LAURA MILLER, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: Yeah, definitely. We are now I feel like, okay, we need to get out and actually vote. Not -- I don't even know that it makes a difference, but I feel now I need to because I have my own opinion.


ZELENY (on camera): And was that ever something that you thought could happen in your lifetime?

MILLER: No, I didn't!


MILLER: No, and that's what kind of scares me with politics.

ZELENY (voice-over): Yet Republicans believe inflation, crime, and immigration will motivate voters to change course. Mike Gillespie owns a small business and said economic concerns are paramount.

MIKE GILLESPIE, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: My cost to operate my business are astronomically more than they used to be. Finding employees is next to impossible.

ZELENY (on camera): Do you hope that November brings a change in Washington in terms of who controls Congress?

GILLESPIE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

ZELENY (voice-over): This tale of two elections is playing out in a crush of campaign ads from coast to coast. On crime, Republicans are hammering Democrats.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): He is more worried about criminals than victims.

ZELENY (voice-over): Spending more than $21 million on ads in the last month alone, while Democrats have invested less than $5 million. On abortion, Democrats are dominating the airwaves.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Kari Lake is serious, serious about criminalizing abortion.

ZELENY (voice-over): Spending $46 million over the last month in ads. Republicans, only $4 million. In New Hampshire where key races will help determine control of the House and Senate, election integrity is now also at play.

UNKNOWN: The 2020 election was undoubtedly stolen from President Trump.

ZELENY (voice-over): Inside her store, Blaisdell said friends of all political persuasions voiced concern about the country's deep divide. The question is whether that becomes a voting issue in the final weeks of the race.

BLAISDELL: We should all be standing up and supporting this country and this democracy because there are those who are trying to tear it down through their anger and their false information that is out there.

ZELENY (on camera): Usually, by now, midterm election campaign is revolving around one issue. That does not seem to be the case at least so far right now.

There are two very different elections unfolding in real time. Democrats pushing abortion rights, democracy, Republicans talking about crime, immigration, and inflation.

The winning strategy, the winning theories here could well determine which party wins come November. Don?


LEMON: All right. Jeff, thank you.

The midterms are less than 50 days away. Democrats are running on abortion rights and democracy, as Jeff has said, Republicans on inflation, crime, and immigration. Whose ideas will win out, we will discuss, next.




LEMON: House Democrats passing a package of policing and public safety bills today. That after months of negotiations and hours of late-minute wrangling. Democrats are hoping that this will blunt some of the attacks the GOP calling the party anti-police. That is all happening with less than 50 days until the midterms and as both Democrats and Republicans hone in on what they are considering winning issues for voters.

For more, I want to bring in now CNN political commentator Scott Jennings. Also, Tom Bonier, he is a Democratic political strategist and CEO of data and polling -- of the data and Polling firm "TargetSmart." Good evening to both of you.

Tom, let's start with you. It's a tale of two elections here, each side focusing on different issues. Democrats, abortion and democracy. Republicans, inflation, crime, immigration. You're the date expert, which party has the upper hand right now? Does either of them have the upper hand?

TOM BONIER, CEO, TARGETSMART: Well, you know, honestly, the fact that you are even asking me this question at this point, a month ago, it wouldn't have been a question. Republicans were on their way to an easy win, and I don't think you could find many people who would disagree.

We saw -- look, the history is in midterm elections. The party that is not the White House, that isn't in control wins easily.


And Republicans were a bit on cruise control until the Dobbs decision. And then, you know, something different happened. We saw what happened in Kansas. We saw women registering to vote at levels no one has seen before. We've seen these special elections where all of a sudden Democrats are energized.

So, the question of who has the upper hand, it is impossible to say at this point. I think Democrats have the energy on their side when you look at voters' registration, when you look at turnout, and the New York 19 special and the Alaska special, but we still just about seven weeks to go.

LEMON: Listen, I think if those things that you mentioned, you said that the women voter registration and all of that, if that had happened closer to the election, I think that you can maybe read more into that. But I think Republicans -- Scott, correct me if I'm wrong -- always come, usually come home, and are under polled in elections.

You've got Roe v. Wade being overturned. That is a big motivating factor for Democrats. Now, Republicans are focusing on immigration. It certainly going to rile at the GOP bases. You see what's happening with Ron DeSantis and so on.

Could this -- do you think that that could also fire up Democrats with what Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott are doing?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I don't actually think so. And I think as much as Republicans are focused on immigration, they are also focused on the economy, inflation, cost of living.

There was a big NBC News survey, Don, over the weekend, and they asked a very simple question. What's more important to your vote in this election, candidate's attributes on dealing with cost of loving or candidate's position on abortion? Cost of loving was like 59%, abortion was like 37.

So, I actually think the disciplined republican campaign can make use of immigration, but the real issue is still the economy and inflation. Democrats are obviously choosing to focus on something else. But the issue in the race has never gone away. And so, the discipline to stay on it is what is critical, I think, for republican campaign --

LEMON: You said the disciplined one. Do you -- are all of them -- do you think they're all disciplined?


LEMON: I'm asking because I just did a segment. I don't know if you saw about the quality of Republican candidates when you have these people talking about (INAUDIBLE).

JENNINGS: Oh, I mean, some aren't. As I'm sure my debate partner tonight would attest, not all candidates are created equally when it comes to discipline and the ability to stay on message.

So, you know, down the stretch, though, it is as clear to me in our day that we see is that cost of living, quality of life kind of campaign is ultimately going to make a difference. And it's not just immigration and inflation. It's also crime.

LEMON: Yeah, that's what I want to talk about, because Democrats are trying to make this push now, trying to push back this narrative that the party is anti-police and soft on crime. Today, the House Democrats passing a package of policing and public safety bills. Is that going to be enough to really blunt the GOP attacks, Tom, because it seems like it's coming a bit late in the game?

BONIER: Well, Republicans clearly want to bring this election back on to their turf. I think that is what you are seeing with these migrant flights. They want the conversation to not be about choice. They want it to be about crime. I think what Democrats are doing is smart, but in the end, these voters are going to be focused on the facts.

We haven't had an election before where a 50-year basic human right precedent has been overturned. And so, when we talk about these polls -- look, the polls said Democrats were going to lose New York 19, polls from Democratic internal campaign polls.

The polls said Democrats were going to lose the Alaska special election. The polls said that Kansas abortion vote was going to be a one-point vote. The pro-choice position won by almost 20 points. Democrats won in Alaska. Democrats won in New York. I understand that the Republicans are trying to shift it back to a more comfortable playing field. You look at the generate ballot. Today, if you look at the average of the House, the New York ballot polls, which is a little bit in the weeds but it is our best indicator of where things stand in the battle for control of the House, democrats hit their highest watermark that they've hit in the past 451 days.

LEMON: But Tom --

BONIER: Their numbers have been going up.

LEMON: Hear me, hear me. I agree with you. Okay, I understand that. But wasn't that close to the impact -- like that's -- you know, it's kind of when, for lack of better term, the bomb went off, right? So, it was closer to what's happened. As we get further away from the shock of that event of Roe being overturned, you don't think that that will also have an impact with people who sort of lose interest and may not be as motivated?

BONIER: I think what we are seeing is the shock continues, when you see Lindsey Graham talking about actually filing a bill for a national federal abortion ban. The issue isn't going away. We are seeing stories of people of being denied basic health care.


And so, what we are seeing is not only is the voter registration still surging among women and younger voters, there are some states that are actually beginning the process of voting.

In states like Georgia or Pennsylvania, voters can request ballots already. What we are seeing in those states is that Democrats and women are requesting ballots at a much higher rate than they have in past elections, including 2020.

LEMON: Does that worry you, Scott? I will give you the last word.

JENNINGS: Well, not really. I mean, on the crime issue which you started with on that question, you are seeing this play out in individual races like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where Republicans are going heavily into the upper research file on Fetterman and Barnes. So, I do think that's salient, and I do think it's too little too late for the Dems.

On the abortion question, I disagree with Tom. I actually think Graham's position is fairly defensible, 15 weeks and the three exceptions. It gives any Republican a reasonable position to latch on to and if you are willing to lean into it.

But again, I'll just go back to where I started. That's not where the republican campaign is going to be won. It's going to be won on the cost of living quality of life.

LEMON: Listen, I don't disagree with that. I think those issues are always (INAUDIBLE). They are always at the top of the list. But I think that whether people believe that sort of Republicans' position, when you have Lindsey Graham saying, you know, this is the states' right position and then not, you know -- trying to do something else at the last minute.

JENNINGS: I think there's a difference for what it's worth between incumbents and people who haven't held office before. You are still shaping your view versus having a voting record on.

LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it.

A disgrace was seen in (ph) Alex Jones's second defamation trial over his incendiary false statements about the Sandy Hook shooting. We are going to show you what happened, next.




LEMON: The antics today, the far-right media personality Alex Jones taking the stand on the trial that will determine how much he owes families of the Sandy Hook victims suing him for defamation in Connecticut.

Jones has spent his career embracing and spreading conspiracy theories. He falsely claimed that the school shooting was a hoax and that grieving families and victims were so called crisis actors.

This trial taking place a month after a Texas jury determined that Jones and his company should award two Sandy Hook parents nearly $15 million. His testimony today both explosive and confrontational. Watch.


UNKNOWN: (INAUDIBLE) he's real, isn't it?


UNKNOWN: And for years, you put a target on his back, didn't you?


UNKNOWN: Overruled.

JONES: Well, I --

UNKNOWN: Didn't you?

JONES: I said his name, it's true. I said other people's names not knowing who they are.

UNKNOWN: You put a target on his back just like you did every single parent and loved ones, didn't you?

JONES: No, I didn't.

UNKNOWN: No, you didn't? Argumentative -- this is speculative. JONES: This is unbelievable. You switch on emotions on and off when

you want. It is fabulous chasing.

UNKNOWN: Why don't you show a little respect?

UNKNOWN: Objection, I think you get what you give in this court.


LEMON: Joey Jackson is here, CNN legal analyst. Joey, gosh, I don't know how those families restrain themselves like that, because I would've jumped across and tried to punch him in the face. I'm not lying. I mean, just the disrespect.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALSYT: Yeah, it's a problem, Don. I mean, just putting this in context, you are talking about a situation where you have 20 children dead, six educators dead, and then you have someone here, Alex Jones, who was out there saying, this is not true, this is about the government trying to take away your guns and limit gun control, saying all of these things.

Those have consequences. So not only do you have grieving families that have to endure hurtful statements like that, where someone is making really money off of them, but then you have people buying into these conspiracy theories and taking it out on the family.

And so, without question, to your point, if you were to jump over the well and really gotten Adam, it's really difficult, I'm sure, for the families to contain themselves when you have someone spouting just such ridiculousness and not accepting accountability.

And so, it's very difficult to watch, very little respect for the process and the decorum of the court that is Alex Jones, and let's see what happens next when the jury gets their hand on case and has to deliberate over damages, which is what they are assessing now, Don.

LEMON: It's sad because people like him are increasingly becoming the norm. That way of thinking, that way of doubling down, that way of using other people for content for their either their podcast or blog or social media or even their right-wing television shows or news channels. I mean, Jones even got into it with a judge who he called the tyrant earlier this week. She admonished him today. Listen.


UNKNOWN: You are in a court of law. You have to follow the rules as is the attorneys (INAUDIBLE). However, there is media in the room. This is not a press conference. This is clearly not your show, and you need to respect the process.


LEMON: It is important to know, Joey, the jury was there for that exchange. The judge warning anyone who violates court rules moving forward will be subject to a contempt hearing. Do you think that is where this could be headed? JACKSON: I think it could be. Look, when you have a situation, there

is no question that matters get contentious in a courtroom. That is the nature of the base (ph).


But notwithstanding that, you have to really take heat of the process, pay attention to the process, and respect the process. You know, ultimately, and part of that process is accountability. Everyone, Don, has opinions and those opinions should and could be respected.

But there is a distinction between an opinion and a fact, and there's a distinction between spouting an opinion about what you believe, what you like, what you dislike, and specifically saying what didn't happen and what was the basis of it not happening, et cetera. And that is what this is all about. Defamation, false statements, which impair reputations, which injured people emotionally, et cetera.

And so, I think ultimately, if he doesn't respect that process, which clearly he didn't -- let us remind the jury briefly, why are we here? He defaulted. What does that mean, Don? He was found to be responsible to be liable by default, did not share evidence with the other side, did not share information, did not respect the judicial rulings with regard to what he should turn over.

And so, the judges in Texas and in Connecticut here said, you know what, you are liable. Now, we are going to go and we are going to allow a jury to determine how much you are going to pay those families for what you said. So, it just goes about from the outset a total lack of disrespect in decorum, a total lack of really, you know, valuing what is actually true.

It happened, right? December 2012, it did occur, people died. And now, here we are in terms of his accountability. We will see what the jury does with respect to that.

LEMON: Joey Jackson, thank you very much. I appreciate it. We will be right back.

JACKSON: Always.




LEMON: Media titan Rupert Murdoch has built one of the largest media empires in history over the last several decades. Now, the new CNN Original Series, "The Murdochs: Empire of Influence," reveals through explosive reporting how one family's ambitions are shaping business, media and politics around the globe. Here's a preview.


JONATHAN MAHLER, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: New York City in the 1970s was about as unglamorous as a place could possibly be. And yet despite all of its problems, it still remains the media capital of the country, and maybe even the entire world. That is exactly where Rupert Murdoch wants to be.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Rupert lands in New York looking for opportunities to build his empire.

JOYCE PURNICK, POLITICAL REPORTER, NEW YORK POST: Rupert Murdoch decided he was going to put his stamp on the city of New York. Here I am, you better pay some attention. Now, I'm going to have one hell of an impact.


LEMON: Wow, that looks fascinating. Joining me now, Jim Rutenburg, writer-at-large for "The New York Times" and Jonathan Mahler, a staff writer for "The New York Times Magazine." Jim and Jonathan are consulting producers for "The Murdochs: Empire of Influence" and the series features their exclusive reporting. We are happy to have them here. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

So, Jim, I'm going to start with you. The largest media empire in history. Give us some perspective on just how big, how powerful, how profitable the Murdoch family empire really is.

JIM RUTENBURG, WRITER-AT-LARGE, NEW YORK TIMES: Just look at what they have here in the United States. The Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network, "The Wall Street Journal", "The New York Post." In the U.K., they've got "The Sun," they've got "The Times" of London.

They control a lot of that newspaper market. They control a lot of the news market in Australia. That's a lot of the English-speaking world. They control the news and a lot of entertainment.

LEMON: And it's not always journalistically. The journalistic integrity is not always there when it comes to the Murdoch's media empire.

JONATHAN MAHLER, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: There's certainly a major political bias and there's preference for sort of a tabloid-style, I guess you would say.

LEMON: You cannot ignore the political influence of Rupert Murdoch that he has had on the culture and on the world. How do you think it has been most strongly felt?

MAHLER: I mean, I think that we probably got our clearest understanding of it, honestly, during the Trump era, where we saw the network, the Fox News network, kind of -- effectively kind of merge with the Trump White House and amplify the president's messages, also in many cases influence the president's policy choices.

And so, I mean, that in some ways is almost kind of the culmination of -- for Rupert Murdoch, a lifetime of the accumulation of power and influence, kind of coming to a head with the Trump White House. LEMON: Jim, he was a late supporter, right? Rupert Murdoch was a late supporter of Donald Trump in 2016. I'm just wondering what role does the family, him, and the family that they're going to play in 2024 when it comes to the Republican nominee.

RUTENBURG: We're already seeing this where it's almost a repeat of 2016, where the family seems to be turning on Trump yet again. Yet, they, at the same time, Trump is really important to their audience. There also, however, giving a lot of air time for Ron DeSantis.

So, I think we are going to see a repeat of 2016, but there's always been this interesting dynamic between Donald Trump and Fox News, especially its opinion hosts, where the base audience of the opinion shows really like Donald Trump. So, how much can they really break from him is going to be fascinating to watch.

LEMON: Is there ever a difference between what actually airs on the Fox News network or what is in their tabloid newspapers and how that family actually really feels?


Is there delineation between --

MAHLER: Well, if you speak about the family in kind of broadly, yes, certainly because one of the sons, one of the two sons, James Murdoch, has over the years been subtly and at times kind of more vocally resistant to some of those reporting on Fox News and has at times spoken publicly about it, at least through press releases.

So yeah, there isn't sort of consensus inside the family. You know, in terms of Rupert and his eldest son, Lachlan, who is really the heir apparent at this point, you don't see a lot of daylight, I don't think, no.

LEMON: What do you think the family legacy will be?

RUTENBURG: The family legacy will be sort of the finding sort of voice of the populist right at this moment across many of the properties. And the influence of Rupert Murdoch will be even bigger than that in terms of entertainment, the Fox network, the Simpson's. It is a really interesting, complex legacy.

LEMON: We forget about the Fox network, right, which is a sort of the fledgling network that became huge. What's the most surprising thing you learned from doing this?

MAHLER: I mean, I think what was most interesting was the incredibly complicated family dynamics. The way that the children were sort of pitted against each other, competing for the empire, and the complicated feelings that they all had about each other and about their father.

LEMON: Yeah.

RUTENBURG: And I would add to that, though, that resting on that family dynamic is what influence they're going to have on democracy and across the English-speaking world. So, it's not just a family drama, it is a political drama.

LEMON: Jim and Jonathan, thank you both very much. I really appreciate it. Be sure you tune in to the all-new CNN Original Series, "The Murdochs: Empire of Influence." It premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. with back-to-back episodes, of course, only here on CNN.

Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.