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Don Lemon Tonight

Trump's Legal Team Fights Federal Court; Vladimir Putin's Iron Fist Not Working; Mississippi's Welfare Agency Director Pleaded Guilty; Politicians Laying Their Best Promises to Voters; Navy SEAL Veteran Became an Inspiration to Others. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 23, 2022 - 22:00   ET




SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you for hanging out with me all week. It's been a real pleasure. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now. Hey, Don.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, I'm going to sound -- hey, Sara., I'm going to say -- I'm going to sound like an old man. And my day back in my day. I remember when Fridays used to be. I know you think I'm nuts. I know --

SIDNER: I'm worried. I'm knowing where you're going.

LEMON: No. It used to be --


SIDNER: I'm going to be awesome. I'm going to be honest.

LEMON: Friday night, right, was standard, the standard news dump, right. It was a slow news day.

SIDNER: Right.

LEMON: Things that people didn't want to, right.


LEMON: They wanted to sort of hide. They would dump, but now that's changed. Like something happens every single day and the news just keeps moving and moving even Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

SIDNER: It doesn't matter what day.

LEMON: It doesn't matter.

SIDNER: Are you exhaust -- aren't you exhausted? Aren't you exhausted by the constancy of it all?

LEMON: I am exhaust, look, I am 17 years old. Look at me, since I've been in this show, the past eight and a half years I've been rough. SIDNER: Seventeen again. Good for you. Good for you.

LEMON: I've been rough. Yes, but it, the whole, the entire over -- this entire cycle, especially with the former administration. The entire news cycle has changed and you never know what is going to happen. But you're rolling with, and you're doing a great job.

SIDNER: Thank you, my dear. It's Friday.

LEMON: Friday. I know. She's like, Don, stop talking to me. I'm ready to get out here. Enjoy your weekend. It's good to see you.


LEMON: Take care.

SIDNER: You too.


And we have a CNN exclusive. Speaking of the news never stopping. Right? We've got a CNN exclusive. Because our sources are telling us here at CNN that the former president's legal team is fighting a secret court battle to block a federal grand jury from getting information from his ex-aides about his efforts to overturn the election.

So, well, it's not a secret anymore because we know. We only know about it because we saw three of his lawyers, there they are right there, coming out of court yesterday. So more on that in a moment, but it has been a no good, terrible, very bad week for the ex-president and his legal team. His own handpicked special master telling him that he can't just declassify documents with his mind.

He's got to have proof. He can't just make wild accusations the FBI somehow planted evidence during that search of Mar-a-Lago, he's got to say exactly what he claims they planted. And there is the New York state attorney general filing a monster civil fraud lawsuit against Trump, three of his adult children and The Trump Organization. One that could cost them a quarter of a billion dollars.

Remember that? It's been quite a week. And there's more. Tonight, the intelligence community has restarted its review of the potential damage from those classified documents being moved to Mar-a-Lago.

And ahead of the January 6th committee hearing next week, committee member Jamie Raskin says that they have more to reveal about Roger Stone, as well as efforts to keep Trump in power after the capitol attack and the ongoing threats to democracy.

But let's remember, the biggest question in all of this, the biggest questions in all of this are still unanswered. What is the former president trying to keep under wraps, and why?

And speaking of no good, terrible, very bad. It was another terrible day on Wall Street. Sorry. Investors taking a bat, 401ks as well. Stocks falling to their lowest level since November of 2020. Is the Fed over correcting is a question? And what does that mean for you putting food on the table, paying your bills, saving for retirement or getting a mortgage.

And there's the latest on the crazy story of an NFL legend, a former state official and welfare funds that ended up where they weren't supposed to go. Lots more to come on all of that tonight. So, stay tuned over the next couple of hours.

I want to first bring in though, CNN -- Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, Robert Litt, the former general counsel for director of national intelligence.

Gentlemen, good evening to both of you. Thanks for joining.

Bob, the secret court battle that Donald Trump's lawyers are fighting right now. We see this video of his lawyers leaving court. They're trying to block a federal grand jury from getting information from closed Trump aides about his efforts to overturn the election. It -- it's a fight over privilege. How do you see this turning out, what's going on here?

ROBERT LITT, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL FOR THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, I think a couple of things are going on. One is it's -- it seems to always be in Mr. Trump's interest to try to delay things. The reporting, your reporting suggests that he waited until the very last minute to file this motion. And I think his hope is let's draw it out.


But the other thing that's going on is I think this is going to be another example like the special master and like the 11th circuit where he's going to be told to put up or shut up. For months and longer he has made vague statements about the possibility of executive privilege, the possibility of attorney-client privilege.

And I think the judge in this case is going to say, OK, if you think there's executive privilege, what is it with respect to and why is it executive privilege? The problem is all this is in secret. And so, we're not going to know it, except that you may be able to see witnesses going in and out of the courthouse.

LEMON: I wonder, Bob is, you know, Trump is used to gaming the system, right. And gaming the legal system by dragging things out. And, you know, especially economically like over -- if you're going to fight lawsuits, right, from people in his business who sued him or he sued them, it costs a lot of money and many times people would drop them or he would just wait them out.

But is this a different level for him that he's not used to dealing with? He also doesn't have that special, you know, presidential cloak that he had before because not the president of the United States. It seems like a whole new game for him, so to speak, a whole new legal realm for him that he's just not used to. And he, you know, he's got to suffer the consequences of -- for him, of actually telling the truth.

LITT: I think that is absolutely right. He's been used for -- used for decades to being able to wear the other person down with constant delays and constant lawyer pet -- petty fogging. And in this case, he's up to a -- up against a determined Department of Justice and judges who aren't taking any crap from him.

LEMON: John, let's talk about this executive privilege. I want you to weigh in on this. You can wait on the question that I asked, Bob as well, but this executive privilege is a tough hurdle for prosecutors. They've gotten over it before the Justice Department gained access to Nixon's Watergate tapes for a grand jury. That's something that you are familiar with. Is this a similar situation?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is not a friendly form in some ways for Trump to raise the executive privilege issue because it's hold (Ph) at both of the court of appeals and that they with several cases after Nixon's case. So, I think what Trump is doing here is there was a case in January that was resolved by the Supreme Court called Thompson or Trump -- Trump versus Thompson. And it was the effort to invoke executive privilege for the January 6th committee.

In that they -- Trump lost that and had to turn over information. But in doing so, Justice Kavanaugh, put a statement out when they -- the Supreme Court went along with the lower court saying it's OK that since Biden has not invoked executive privilege, there is none, Kavanaugh said, listen, that's an unresolved issue. And I think that former presidents should have the ability to invoke executive privilege in certain situations.

So, I think that's what Trump is going after. And if they could get some hook where they could get the Supreme Court, as Bob said, this is delay and he can get a lot of delay if he could get in his case headed in that direction. I think that's what he's trying to do.

LEMON: But delay, delay until what? Until there's a new, I mean, this is --

DEAN: Well, until another day, until another day to see what happens. See if he gets a break, see if something happens in his favor. It's been his playbook his entire adult life to use the courts and then delay as long as he can, particularly when he is the defendant or the cases against him. He has -- he's had a lifetime of using this tactic and it's worked pretty well for him.

LEMON: But as I understand, it's personally, I don't think it's like he's writing the check himself. Isn't it coming out of funds that he's raised over time from his campaigns.

DEAN: -- It there -- it's campaign money. Exactly. And that's how he just -- he just hired a new lawyer, paid him three $3 million retainer. The guy obviously was smart enough to get it up front. And so, he's got plenty of lawyers and plenty of money to play -- pay lawyers so he can play this game for a long time.

LEMON: Yes. DEAN: This not as long as the feds can.

LEMON: It's become a business an industry to represent Donald Trump. A lot of lawyers are making money off of that.

Bob, the former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin recently appeared before the grand jury, but had negotiated topics that they wouldn't answer questions. The topics that they wouldn't answer because Trump's privilege claims -- of his privilege claims.

What happens if they -- they can, you know, talk to them about how involved Trump was in trying to toss out the election results and stay in power. What happens then?

LITT: Well, I think that that's partly what this proceeding is all about before the secret proceeding before the chief judge in the District of Columbia.


I think the Justice Department would like to be able to ask people like Pat Philbin and Pat Cipollone more questions, they wanted to get as much testimony as they could on the record. But I expect that they anticipated that eventually they'd be back before the court getting a broader resolution of the kinds of issues John was talking about.

Whether a former president can invoke the privilege against the sitting president. Whether -- whether these conversations are protected by executive privilege at all. And I think the Justice Department is hopeful that they'll get a ruling from the court that enables them to go back and get more complete testimony from these earlier witnesses.

LEMON: Yes. John, you talked about this a little bit in your previous answer, but, you know, that he keeps getting smacked down, but we keep seeing these put up or shut up moments with Trump. In the case of Mar- a-Lago documents the special master ordering Trump's team to back up claims the FBI planted evidence there. He seems skeptical over Trump's declassification claims. Is it getting tougher to protect Trump in these cases or in this case?

DEAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. The idea of a special master probably was a stall, again, and they selected a special master and they got the one they selected. And he's an honest judge and he's -- he is doing what a good judge would do, is he's going to get verification for the kind of information they put forward.

In other words, they -- this judge who's the special master said, listen, if you're saying that the FBI planted information, tell us, tell me why. And I want to know if you're going to invoke executive privilege against the incumbent president. Tell me the basis on which you're going to do it.

So, he's being very specific and he wants document by document, page by page delineated so he knows where they're coming from, what privilege is involved and can they not resolve it themselves? If so, he will resolve it. And then he'll report on to Judge Cannon what he thinks is the situation with these documents.

LEMON: John, Bob, thank you so much. Have a good weekend, gentlemen. See you soon.

LITT: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. Protest in the streets. Russians trying to escape Vladimir Putin's call up of hundreds of thousands of people to fight in Ukraine. Are Putin's problems multiplying at home and in his unprovoked war on his neighbor?



LEMON: President Biden saying today that the United States will never recognize Ukrainian territory as anything other than Ukraine after Russia's sham referenda. We're also learning that us officials have been engaging in private communications with Russia for the past several months, warning that there will be consequences if Moscow chooses to use a nuclear.

Joining me now the former defense secretary, William Cohen. It's good to see you. Thank you for joining us this evening, sir.


LEMON: So, it was just a few days ago that Putin made a veiled nuclear threat. And now, I don't know how veiled you thought it was, but, and now we're seeing how the U.S. has been trying to talk him down for several months. Are you concerned? Putin could make good on, on his threat?

COHEN: Well, he's made the threat before almost in the very beginning of this war. So, he'd started the war. He is now losing the war. And what he's doing by these statements is he's wrapping himself in a nuclear suicide vest and saying either I win or I'll -- or you all die.

And so, this is basically, he's saying surrender or I create a Holocaust. I think the United States, is communicating to him, as President Biden did at the United Nations. Don't, don't, don't. There will be consequences. I don't think we have to spell them out in advance, but I can assure you that the Pentagon, the Department of Defense is making every contingent plan for what might take place in the future.

And, frankly it would be a catastrophic mistake, I think, excuse me for, President Putin to think about using nuclear weapons. So, we are where we are at this point but we can't back down and reward someone blackmailing the entire Western world with a nuclear weapon because he is losing something he never should have started in the first place.

LEMON: Right on. Right. Right. You were a defense secretary, you know what these types of back-channel talks are like, is there anything the U.S. can do or say quite frankly that will pull Putin back?

COHEN: I don't think it's as much the United States as it is the rest of the world. This past week or so we've had the Chinese who have had this new special relationship with Russia saying they do not support anyone conducting warfare in another country using force to extend their boundaries.

You've had India, also a major, not partner, but at least affiliation over the years with Russia, they buy much of their equipment from Russia and a lot of their oil from Russia, saying that they were worried about what Russia was doing and very concerned about.

So, two very powerful countries and now come out indicating Putin is making in essence, a mistake. I think that, plus, the United States and NATO staying together. I met this week with Danish prime minister. She was strong about the commitment of NATO, and I think that's strength as long as we show unanimity and the growing support for the world community saying, stop this, you were putting the world in peril by making these kinds of statements.

We have to take it seriously. we can't treat it as a bluff, but we have to be prepared and let the Russians know, and also let the Indians, the Chinese and others know that we mean business as well. If he should start something like this, then there's very -- it's very dangerous to have an escalation take place very quickly and to try to manage that.


COHEN: And so, everybody is at risk. And so for -- so therefore we have to make sure that message is not only to Russia but to our other allies and friends throughout the world.


LEMON: You know what secretary, we talked about this, right, during the beginning of the war and still about the -- how media there, the people of Russia don't really see media. There's not a free media there, so they're getting propaganda. But Russians have been attempting to flee the country since Putin's announcement of this partial mobilization. There have been protests in the streets.

Is the anger and the dissent going to get too big for Putin to control, because I think people are starting to -- the truth is starting to trickle out there. Am I wrong?

COHEN: Yes. The Russians have a record an iron curtain like they did in the past. This one is to prevent digital information from getting through to the Russian people. That is starting to happen as body bags come home. When mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters don't see their loved ones --

LEMON: Right.

COHEN: -- coming back from the special mission. And the more bodies that come back, the greater the dis -- discontent is going to be at the street level. And the more that he, basically creating a draft. He may call it something else, but it's basically a draft and he's going around house to house looking for the men in there.

And so, you're seeing men really fleeing Russia. And it's really quite a contrast for seeing the women fighting in Iran and the Russian men trying to get out.

LEMON: What -- I want to talk to you about Iran. Can we talk about Iran?

COHEN: Sure.

LEMON: Yes. People take to the streets --

COHEN: Just a nice juxtaposition.

LEMON: Yes, it is. People taking to the streets in protest over the killing of a 22-year-old Masha Amini. She died last week in the custody of Iran's so-called morality police which enforces mandatory head scarfs, a mandatory head scarf law. Could these protests lead to real change within Iran?

COHEN: I think it's quite -- quite possible. I thought of in watching the filming of this of Helen Reddy song, "I Am Woman."

LEMON: Hear me roar.

COHEN: Hear me roar. And boy, they're starting to roar now because they're saying that these restrictions are going too far. The fact that this young lady had a bit too much hair showing under a hijab, results in her death. Women are rising up in anger and they are forced to contend with in Iran, in the United States, in Russia, as well.

And again, I want to come back to Russia for a moment. Look at those young people out on the streets in their teens, men and women. Boys and girls demonstrating against what Putin is doing. They don't want to go to war. And so, that is building up on the street.

And what we have to do and what Ukraine is continue to do, pedal to the metal, keep pushing, accelerate the equipment that we're giving the Ukrainians, make it as difficult as possible for the Russians to justify what they're doing by sending more and more young to their -- their deaths. It's a sad thing to say but they're being used as fodder right now.

And what Putin is doing is saying, I want more fodder. I'm going to the rural areas to get the poor people, get the criminals out of jail and force them into the front lines where they will become human fodder just like the other anywhere from 60 to 80,000 Russian soldiers have become casualties.

LEMON: Secretary, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.

COHEN: Great to talk to you, Don.

LEMON: Pleading guilty. Mississippi's former head of welfare admitting to one of the biggest public corruption cases in state history. A case that has swept up NFL player, Brett Favre. Stay with us.



LEMON: A dramatic new turn in the welfare scandal linked to former NFL star Brett Favre. This morning, the former director of Mississippi's welfare agency pleading guilty for his part in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme that auditors say misused welfare dollars, fund linked funds into projects linked to prominent Mississippians like former NFL star, Brett Favre.

CNN's Diane Gallagher has the latest on the story.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Davis didn't have much to say as he left federal court on Thursday.

UNKNOWN: Mr. Davis, did you have anything to say to the people, taxpayers of Mississippi?

GALLAGHER: The former head of Mississippi's welfare agency pleading guilty to state and federal charges connected to one of the largest public corruption cases in state history.

UNKNOWN: It's been justice delayed, but not justice denied.

GALLAGHER: A conspiracy that according to the auditor and court documents saw at least $77 million meant for needy families in the nation's poorest state instead be funneled through non-profits to pet projects of the politically connected and celebrities like pro football Hall of Famer, Brett Favre.

In a release announcing Davis's guilty plea for one count of conspiracy and one count of theft from programs receiving federal funds, the Department of Justice said, Davis worked with four unnamed co-conspirators, writing that he directed the welfare funds to two nonprofits and then directed those nonprofits to award contracts for social services that were never provided.

UNKNOWN: Mr. Davis, as it relates to count one of conspiracy, how do you plead guilty or not guilty?

UNKNOWN: Guilty.

UNKNOWN: As it relates to count two, fraud against the government, how do you plead guilty or not guilty?

UNKNOWN: Guilty.

GALLAGHER: Davis entered that guilty plea 18 times on state charges in a Hinds County courtroom. Also on Thursday, five counts of conspiracy in 13 counts of fraud against the government admitting, for example, he conspired with former pro wrestler, Brett DBI.

Who was also already pleaded guilty in the scheme, DiBiase who was also already pleaded guilty in the scheme. DiBiase received welfare funds and was supposed to teach classes about drug abuse, but instead, used the money to pay for, among other things, a stay at a drug rehabilitation center in Malibu.


UNKNOWN: It was not OK. And I can't tell you other than it shouldn't have been OK. I should not have allowed that to happen. When I knew that ton of money was being used, I should have stopped it.

GALLAGHER: Davis has agreed to cooperate with state and federal investigators and testify against others.

JODY OWENS, HINDS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We're still looking through records and text messages. We continue to move up and we also continue to work the federal authorities from Washington and in Mississippi to continue to move forward. John Davis is critical because the letter continues to move up.

GALLAGHER: Text messages were released last week as part of the state's ongoing civil litigation by attorneys for a nonprofit founded by Nancy New who has already pleaded guilty in connection with the welfare scheme. They show Nancy New, former Mississippi governor Phil Bryant and Brett Favre working to obtain funds for a multimillion- dollar volleyball center at Brett Favre's alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi where his daughter played the sport at the time.

Favre and New repeatedly referenced John Davis and update each other on their meetings with him. In 2017, Favre texting, John mentioned four million and not sure if I heard him right. Very big deal. And can't thank you enough.

Earlier this year, the state filed civil suit against 38 people and entities, including Brett Favre. However, Favre does not face any criminal charges. His attorney told CNN that the former quarterback did not know the money came from welfare funds.

UNKNOWN: Brett couldn't have been more honorable in any of it. He had no idea where it came from.

GALLAGHER: The former governor has not been charged, nor is he a defendant in any civil suit. In the past, he has denied any knowledge of the scheme. All of the multiple investigations into the fraud scheme remain ongoing.

SHAD WHITE, MISSISSIPPI STATE AUDITOR: I can tell you this on my end, we're going to continue to make sure that this case is thoroughly investigated. As everyone knows, we have turned over every piece of evidence that we have over to federal investigators.

GALLAGHER: John Davis is set to be sentenced in federal court early next year. Diane Gallagher, CNN, Charlotte North Carolina.


LEMON: All right, Diane, thank you very much.

House Republicans announcing their agenda less than 50 days to the midterms, but will it actually move the needle? That's next.



LEMON: Forty-six days, 46 days. That's how far away the midterms are tonight. Voters are worried about everything from inflation to immigration, to abortion, to protecting democracy itself. And Republicans and Democrats are rolling out their message for the bitterly divided electorate.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: They control Washington. They control the House, the Senate, the White House. They control the committees. They control the agencies. It's their plan, but they have no plan to fix all the problems they created. So, you know what. We've created a commitment to America.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy went to Pennsylvania and unveiled on what he calls a commitment to America. That's a -- that's a thin series of policy goals with little or no detail that he says Republican are going to pursue if they regain control of the Congress.


LEMON: Let's discuss now CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein is here, and former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent.

Good evening, gentlemen. Charlie, I'm going to start with you.


LEMON: Kevin McCarthy you saw announcing that it's called a commitment to America plan. Four pillars here. They are the economy and fighting inflation, making the nation safer, empowering parents and taking on big tech, holding the government accountable and protecting freedoms.

That's a whole lot of topics. But Biden is criticizing it as thin on policy. What do you think.

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes, it is thin on policy, but remember what they rolled out today, I'm sure was focus group and poll tested. And so, most of this stuff is pretty benign, more funding for the police, border security, you know, hire -- or defund the IRS, or at least don't fund to the degree that Democrats want to, and that's primarily their agenda.

Nothing there really controversial. Is this going to make a difference in the midterm? Absolutely not. Because the midterm is about, the midterm is really about the other party if you're in the minority -- if you're at the opposition party. It's about being against them. It's really not what you're for.

We saw this with Newt Gingrich contract with America, the Democrats in '06, you may remember in 2006 had their six for '06. Everybody has forgotten what that was. And even Republicans in 2010 when I was there as well for that, we had a plan too, and nobody remembers it, but it was about the other side.

So, nothing controversial here, but it's -- but it's something they can talk about. Nice to have in your hip pocket.

LEMON: Hey, Ron, I heard you, sort of let out a groan. I don't know if it was agreement or disagreement when he said --


LEMON: -- that's not going to make a difference. Go on. What would you -- why -- why were you doing that?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, can I tell Charlie, I could tell Charlie, we could probably wake up Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan right now when he can tell you all 6 for '06 off the top of his head I'm betting.

But short of that, I basically agree. I mean, this is not specific enough to have much of an impact one way or the other. It gives you a sense of direction that they would want to pursue but not there really isn't a lot of meat on these bones.

And Don, the basic dynamics of this election are set in place and it goes back really to your introduction and in a way, it takes me to a slightly different place than Charlie.

On the one hand, you have a lot of voters who feel that Democrats have mishandled the economy with inflation, who don't think the Democrats are doing well on crime or immigration. They have a lot of questions about Democratic performance and the role of government.

And on the other hand, in the other direction, you have a lot of voters who view the Trump era Republican Party as a threat to their rights, their values and to democracy itself. And those are the two big forces that are contending and they have changed the frame.

I mean, it isn't simply an election that is a referendum on the party in power. What's happened since the beginning of the summer, largely because of the abortion decision, but also because of the January 6th hearings and the other legal problems of Trump, is that there are now a significant number of voters who are not only asking what have Democrats done, but what would Republicans do if given power again.

[22:40:03] And the answer is not just the benign banalities in the commitment to America. It's also things like potentially a national ban on abortion.

LEMON: Yes. Charlie, listen, this is more of McCarthy what he said, then we'll talk. Here it is.


MCCARTHY: As we went across this country listening, we heard the same thing kitchen table to dining room table, to inside the factory. Can I afford it? Can I afford to fill up my tank? Can I afford the food, the milk? Can I find baby formula? You know, I ask everybody across this country.


LEMON: So, he's not wrong. This is what voters are talking about, right?

DENT: Yes. They're talking about inflation, but you have to remember what Republicans want this, this selection to be about. They want it to be about inflation. They want it to be about crime. They want it to be about border security. They feel that gives them advantage.

But as Ron correctly pointed out, you know, Republicans, aren't talking about these issues in a vacuum because -- because of the abortion issue, because of the January 6th and Trump's unhelpful interventions and looking backwards rather than forwards. This is an unusual environment.

And I think we all have to talk about this midterm with a certain degree of humility, because I don't think anybody is really quite sure how this plays out. This is not going to be the traditional midterm where it's referendum on the party in power. It may become more of a choice selection.

We'll see, I wouldn't bet against history, but I think you're going to see a rather slim Republican majority in the House that they're going to -- their losses will be, I -- Democratic losses will be mitigated largely over the Dobbs decision. And I think Trump's unhelpful interventions by -- we never had a former president so active in a midterm. This is not anything Republicans wanted.

LEMON: Listen, I hear people. I mean, this is unscientific, but I hear people talking about the border, right, about immigration, I should say. And also, really about sort democracy and more so than the economy than before. Usually, it's the economy.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, no. Look, Don, we're having two elections and Charlie is right about this being unprecedented. I mean, I've talked to pollsters. It is remarkable. The extent to which voters in the Republican coalition are focused on inflation, crime, and immigration. And voters in the Democratic coalition are focused on abortion, gun violence, climate, healthcare, and democracy.

And that each side is in effect communicating, you know, a different set of choices to their voters with the potential of an enormous turnout. Again, I mean, 2018 was the biggest turnout for a midterm since before women had the right to vote. This could be comparable.

Look at what the president said today. I think he was more explicit than ever before in saying that he there's a quote. If you give me two more Democratic senators, referring to Manchin and Sinema's refusal to exempt, creating exemption of the filibuster, we will codify a national right to abortion.

And as you probably saw in Arizona today a judge restored a territorial era of complete ban on abortion.


BROWNSTEIN: Even in cases of rape and incest that will immediately go into effect there. It is not just a referendum. Inflation all those issues are hurting Democrats, but the question of basic rights really has reframed --


LEMON: Yes, listen, we have a whole segment on that coming up a little bit later on and I forgot crime. Crime is important as well, but people are talking about the craziness that's happening with the former president. Crime and I find immigration. Those are the three topics I hear people talking about the most.

Thank you both. I appreciate it.

Twenty-one years as a Navy SEAL, a Purple Heart, a bronze star, but what's he doing? What he's doing now, it could be, what's going to change the military. That's next.

And at the top of the hour, Trump's no good, very bad week.



LEMON: All this week in a series we call Champions for Change, CNN is bringing you stories of everyday people who are changing society and getting things done.

Tonight, Jimmy Hatch, he is a retired Navy SEAL who is working to avoid the mistakes of the war in Afghanistan and future American conflicts. And he is doing it with the help of college students. Many of whom were just babies at the beginning of the United States longest war.

Here's Anderson Cooper.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's been a long journey for former Navy SEAL Jimmy hatch to the halls of Yale. At 55, after a lifetime of service, he's finally pursuing his college degree and investigating the war that nearly cost him his life. We first met Jimmy back in 2015.

JIMMY HATCH, SPECIAL OPERATIONS VETERAN: Hostage rescue stuff is really hard.

COOPER: He was speaking out for the first time about a mission to rescue army soldier, Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan. On the mission Jimmy hatch suffered a catastrophic gunshot wound.

HATCH: It hit me right above the knee and sent the bone kind of out the back of my leg.

COOPER: Jimmy had to be rescued, bandaged and bleeding. His 21 years as a Navy SEAL were over, he was awarded the Purple Heart, and Bronze Star for his actions that night.

HATCH: We will not lose this war. Because that's deep. There's a lot of layers and we're all blessed.

COOPER: Hatch was blessed to survive, but his military dog Remco was killed on the mission. He honored Remco and other working dogs who helped save lives by founding Spike's K9 Fund, a charity that provides protective gear and training for working dogs who face danger.

In 2017, I first profiled Jimmy as a champion for change. He convinced me to go skydiving with him to raise money for Spike's K9 Fund. Whoa. In 2019, after a chance meeting with a Yale professor on another skydiving trip, Jimmy was encouraged to apply to Yale's Eli Whitney program for non-traditional students with exceptional backgrounds and aspirations.

HATCH: And a few months later, I received an e-mail saying that I was accepted and I was shocked and I looked at my wife and she said, you'd be an idiot if you didn't know.

COOPER: So, age 52, Jimmy hatch became the oldest freshman in Yale's class of 2023.


Last year, during the United States' chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, I asked Jimmy to come on CNN, someone who fought and lost so much there.

HATCH: I just think we did a lot of wrong things in Afghanistan, and I think the solution is to figure out how to not do it again.

COOPER: It turns out Yale University, like Jimmy's idea, a matter of weeks they designed a yearlong class to investigate what went wrong in Afghanistan and produce a report of their findings. They invited Jimmy, the undergraduate to not only take the graduate level class but to be an unofficial co-professor with retired U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson.

ANNE PATTERSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO PAKISTAN: Jimmy was basically the founder, the brainchild behind the course, and he was a huge benefit because Jimmy had had on the ground experience in Afghanistan.

HATCH: My first class was in that.

KATIE TAYLOR, YALE UNIVERSITY JUNIOR: Jimmy, when he came to Yale, I think showed us that education is service. That his service to the country didn't end when he stopped being a Navy SEAL in serving an active combat, but his idea that this was a new phase of his service to the country. and that he was there to learn something so that the world would be better.

COOPER: The class spent months speaking to a number of generals, ambassadors, members of the Afghan special forces, and even a spokesman for the Taliban.

HATCH: I do believe that one of the things that needs to happen if the military is going to stop being the easy button for how we solve things is we're going to have to talk to people we don't want to talk to. And so, for me, the last people in the world I want to talk to was the Taliban.

COOPER: Jimmy Hatch hopes the report will inspire Americans of all walks of life to hold the country's leaders accountable in America's future conflicts.

HATCH: I believe that in a way, a part of the United States of America died in Afghanistan. And that my classmates and I picked them up and brought them into our classroom and are attempting to bury them with respect and learn the lessons that created them.


LEMON: Anderson is with me here now. Good to see you. I understand the report that you mentioned is just published, right?


LEMON: And they're hoping what are the take, hoping that this -- that they can, you know, this is not repeated in future conflicts.

COOPER: Yes. I think, you know, I mean, it's Jimmy and all these, these students and all the people that took part in this report. You know, it's looking back at this 20-year war. And one of the big takeaways I think they had, is that people think of it, of the war Afghanistan as a 20-year war, but it was really 21-year wars.

It was, you know, many people cycled through in one-year cycles. And every year, the diplomats would change and the commanders on the ground might change.

And so, it wasn't this 20-year war where institutional knowledge was passed from year to year, it was sort of new people coming in every time. And the Afghan saw that. And I mean, I remember going out in Helmand province with marines. They'd risk -- the marines would risk their lives to get to some remote village to try to convince the elders to get off the fence and support the U.S. And the elders knew like, the U.S. they're going to leave eventually. And the Taliban is here to stay. And I think that's one of the big lessons and also just lack of the purse. You know, Congress looking over the purse strings. A lot of -- a lot of folks in Afghanistan who were with the government made a lot of money. There was a lot of cash just being thrown into the country that just kind of disappeared into their homes.

LEMON: And Jimmy extraordinary. I mean, you were saying --


COOPER: Such a great guy, yes.

LEMON: And Yale he's a --

COOPER: Yes. Navy SEAL for his entire life and then got this opportunity to be, you know, a 54, 55-year-old undergraduate at a great college. And he's just making the most of it.

LEMON: He deserves to be --

COOPER: Yes, he does.

LEMON: He really does. Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Thanks.

LEMON: So, make sure you tune in Saturday p.m. Eastern, for Champions for Chang of one hour special.

And up next, a week of legal loss after loss for the former president. We're going to look at all the investigations the former president is caught up in right after this.



LEMON: A devastating week of legal blows for the former president, the 11th circuit green lighting, the DOJ to continue their criminal investigation of Mar-a-Lago document. The special master that Trump's own team asks for setting deadlines and demanding they provide proof of his wild claims.

Then there is a New York attorney general announcing a sweeping civil lawsuit against Trump, three of his adult children and his business alleging hundreds of instances of fraud.

And tonight, a CNN exclusive, we have some exclusive reporting to tell you about. Trump's team has been waging a secret court battle to block a federal grand jury from getting information from his ex-aides about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Let's bring in now former assistant special Watergate prosecutor, Nick Akerman, also CNN's political commentator, Scott Jennings, and Errol Louis.

Good evening to one and all.

This is a lot, as I told you guys in the break, sometimes I have to like, really concentrate on which Trump legal issue I'm talking about.


LEMON: -- to get it right. What'd you say?

AKERMAN: You need a scorecard.

LEMON: Yes, you do need a scorecard. So, let's talk about it. Let's get, we've got this exclusive reporting, but what about, this is a very bad week for the president. What's your assessment of this week?

AKERMAN: Terrible. And it's bad legally. And it was bad politically. Bad because this complaint from the AG's office is absolutely devastating. It's basically going to put him on a business. It's asking for 250 million.