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Don Lemon Tonight

Ian Takes Aim At Cuba And Florida Is In Its Sights; House Committee May Incorporate Clips From Documentary On Trump Ally Roger Stone At Hearing; Liz Cheney Says She Is Willing To Campaign For Democrats Over Election Deniers; NASA's Dart Mission Successfully Slams Into An Asteroid; Giorgia Meloni Claims Victory To Become Italy's Most Far-Right Prime Minister Since Mussolini. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 26, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, this is just in, the latest update from National Hurricane Center as Ian takes aim at Cuba and Florida. The storm is a Category 2 and has been rapidly intensifying. A storm surge warning is already in effect for Tampa Bay with danger of a life- threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline. One forecaster warning this could be the storm of a lifetime in Tampa Bay.

CNN's Pedram Javaheri is in the weather center and Patrick Oppmann is in Havana, Cuba for us. Good evening to both of you, gentlemen. Pedram, I'm going to start with you. We are looking at pictures released today by NASA, a live view of hurricane Ian that can be seen from the International Space Station as it flies over the storm. That is massive. Where is hurricane Ian right now? What can we expect?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Don, we just got the 11:00 p.m. advisory here and it is about 100 miles south of the western tip of Cuba. Really, the brunt of the storm is going to be felt initially on Cuba here in the coming hours, Don, and we think this will increase to a Category 3 possibly as early as the next three hours.

Beyond that, we watch what's in store here because the water temperatures across this region of the Gulf of Mexico, among the warmest oceanic heat content anywhere in the Atlantic. You notice the model, the guidance, has kind of been over the place in the last couple of days. But, really, the last 24 hours, better agreement. The storm track will shift a little further towards the east.

We'll watch and see exactly how this plays out here because as early as Tuesday morning, once the system reemerges across portion of the golf, we expect it to strengthen and remain in that Category 3 status, and then possibly get up to Category 4 and stay there for a couple of days.

And the reason this could be one of the most destructive and one of the most impactful storms across portions of western Florida is that parallel track, it doesn't really come in directly for coastal landfall. It kind of parallels the coastline, possibly rides up the western shores of Florida.

And right now, there's a couple things we're watching carefully with this, Don, because, one, a major hurricane is almost certainly in store, but the disagreement between the models is that the upper level winds want to pull this away into portions of western Florida while portions of the -- some of the other models want to push this back towards areas of the Gulf of Mexico.

So, this there's quite a bit of spread between these models and that really can inhibit what the storm has to offer when it comes to its movement, and that is the biggest concern moving forward because we expect the storm to slow down so much from Wednesday into Thursday when it's very close to land.

LEMON: Patrick, to you now, more than 19,000 residents were evacuated in western Cuba in the wake of hurricane Ian. You are in Havana. What are the conditions like now?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we are starting to have the first bands of rain coming in here. It really feels like the calm before the storm. But talking to friends of mine who live in western Cuba, they say the power is out there, beginning to feel the wind and the rain pick up.

And they're very concerned as they're -- to one friend of mine, it looks like the hurricanes is going to pass right over where he lives. He grows tobacco, and he's concerned they're going to lose their entire crops.

Certainly, the implications for people who live in this part of Cuba. It really has a lot of small towns, very rural area. And the houses they have there, Don, they're not built to withstand this kind of a hurricane, so it's going to be devastating.

LEMON: I spoke to -- Pedram, I spoke with the mayor of Tampa. She's concerned, she said, most about the storm surge. And as you know, Ian is going to begin to slow down. That means a lot more water just kind of sitting there in certain places. So, what will happen as Ian begins to slow down?

JAVAHERI: You know, Don, on Wednesday into Thursday, the storm is expected to go from 13 miles per hour movement to about three miles per hour movement. Essentially, the average walking pace here (ph) in one hour. So, it's a very slow movement, and that motion could remain in place for about 48 hours at it traverses up this region. So, what it will do is it'll essentially funnel more water.

Storm surge threat is enhanced, is exacerbated over a multi-day period. You've got to keep in mind, with (INAUDIBLE) County, it is home to about $30 billion of built property. No county in Florida, Miami-Dade included, has that much value and that many properties at risk of a tropical system.

And again, notice the disparity between the models, very close red here in the last few runs, and we do notice that the closest approach, possibly late Wednesday night, Don, puts us about 25 miles west of Tampa Bay as it makes this very slow movement over two-day period from the west area of Tampa northward.

That's the biggest concern because people think, you've got to make landfall to have the most incredible and destructive impacts associated with the storm, but the largest amount of damage with any tropical system is not related to his winds, it is related to the storm surge.

Storm surge causes the most loss of life as well, and that's the biggest concern because this placement just offshore, counterclockwise flow around the storm, it's going to usher water in right into portions of Tampa Bay.


The bay's waterways and the inlets are all going to really begin to take on as much as 10 to 12 feet storm surge there from Wednesday into Thursday, Don.

LEMON: Thanks to Pedram and Patrick, as well.

I want to bring in now St. Petersburg, Florida Mayor Ken Welch and also Craig Fugate, former FEMA administrator under President Barack Obama. Good evening, gentlemen.

Mayor, to you first. Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency. He said to expect heavy rains, strong winds, flash flooding, storm surge, and even isolated tornadoes. Are people preparing and taking these warnings as seriously as they should?

MAYOR KEN WELCH, ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA: I certainly hope they're taking the warning seriously. I'm a St. Petersburg native, Don, and this is the storm that we've always hoped would never come to our shores.

The folks who have come here recently are not really familiar with how vulnerable we are. We're trying to press that message. You know, we've got the data, we've got the science, we know where the storm surge is expected to go, and that's why we've called for mandatory evacuations in three out of our five evacuation zones.

We want folks to take that message, move out of harm's way, and we want to minimize the loss of life by doing that.

LEMON: Craig Fugate, Ian could be a Category 4 as it approaches the coast. The National Weather Service out of Tampa has said this is something that we haven't seen in our lifetime. Does that make the preparations even more challenging if it's something people are not used to?

CRAIG FUGATE, FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it's something they've never had before, but I think, as the mayor says, they've done a good job communicating. It's just not Tampa Bay. There are areas to the south and north of there that are also very flood-prone. So, while we talk about Tampa Bay, we really need to focus on the warned area.

Why the hurricane center is so worried about storm surge is because this is some of the most vulnerable coastlines in the United States with high populations.

LEMON: Mayor, Tampa and St. Petersburg appear to be among the most likely targets, although you heard Craig that there are around there, but they're among most likely targets for the first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921. Classes have been canceled at the St. Petersburg College as well as other Florida universities. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Where will those people go and are there resources to help them leave?

WELCH: We have abundant resources, and I thank Greg for the work he did when he was in the state. We're opening up 25 shelters in Pinellas County. We are working with not only Pinellas County but 24 cities in the county, the school board. And so, we've got abundant sources.

You don't have to go all the way to Orlando. You just need to move out of those areas that are susceptible to storm surge. Our local transit authority, PSTA, is helping us transport folks. So, we've got the resources. We just need folks to act now while there is still time because after winds get up to a certain point, our first responders are going to be locked down.

LEMON: What are you doing about the residents who should evacuate but aren't? What do you say to them?

WELCH: We are sending a strong message that after a certain point, when tropical storm force winds are out, you'll basically be on your own. We're sending that strong message from the sheriff, from elected officials, from everyone in the community that we need to take this seriously.

LEMON: Yeah. Craig, a storm surge warning has been issued along much of the west coast of Florida. There is such a focus on storm surge during these kinds of storms. Just how dangerous can it get in your estimation?

FUGATE: Storm surge, historically, has been the most deadly part of hurricanes where we've lost hundreds if not thousands of lives. Historically, this is the greatest danger. That's why we need people to move tens of miles. We are evacuating from the water, not from the wind. There are shelters in those counties being opened up. They provided public transit. There's not a good reason to stay behind.

I think that's the other message the mayor said that has got to be very clear. We can't put responders out in the middle of the storm to come to you when you dialing 9-1-1 because you waited too late. Time to go is now. You still got time. But this is where we can reduce the loss of life, if people heed the evacuation orders and move to higher ground.

LEMON: Craig Fugate, thank you very much. Thank you, Mayor Welch. Be safe. WELCH: Thank you, sir.

LEMON: Thank you. In just 43 days, Americans will go to the polls in what may be the most crucial midterm election in our lifetimes. My next guest says it's bigger than that. Jon Meacham says this may be the most consequential midterm election since the Civil War. He will explain, next.




LEMON: As we count down to the important midterm elections in November, the House Select Committee investigating the violent attack on our democracy on January 6th holds what could be its final public hearing this Wednesday. Clips from the documentary about Trump ally Roger Stone and his actions connected to the 2020 election could be part of the committee's presentation.

I want to bring in now presidential historian Jon Meacham, the author of the new book, "And There Was Light." Hello, Nr. Meacham. Good to see you.


LEMON: I am doing very well. Thank you for asking. Listen, earlier in the show, I interviewed the filmmakers for the new documentary on Roger Stone. The director and the producer, Christoffer Guldbrandsen, said this. Watch.


CHRISTOFFER GULDBRANDSEN, DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER, "A STORM FORETOLD": What I learned from this, from being with Roger Stone for nearly three years and the people around him, was and is that January 6th was not the culmination.


It was rather the beginning of a movement that is increasingly undemocratic and is only more emboldened and challenging the institutions that protect the United States.


LEMON: So, talk about where we are, Jon, as a moment in history right now that may be coming in the days ahead -- and what may be coming in the days, I should say.

MEACHAM: I think this is not a partisan point. I think that the evidence of our eyes is that, and of the last several years, is that there is a fundamentally violent, undemocratic, lower case D, trend in the country that is not theoretical but is real. And if you doubt that, there are the images of January 6th, there are the images you showed earlier, Roger Stone saying, forget the votes, let's go to the violence.

Made a very good point in that interview where sometimes it seems like hyperbole and perhaps these are a bunch of right-wing entertainers. Don't take it literally. But we can talk ourselves into a kind of imperviousness to the reality of the threat by pretending that they are all just playing laser tag, when in fact (INAUDIBLE).

And they are about for the institutions which did hold on January 6th, but did so not least because of the courage of a single man, the vice president of the United States. And that is a reminder parenthetically of what democracies depend on. They depend on the character of the leaders and of the (INAUDIBLE).

And to go directly to your question, we are, I think, an incredibly touch and go moment where we are trying to decide whether we as a country are in fact up to democracy. Are we up to an agreement to not just the substance of the law, but the spirit of the laws?

And so, I agree with your guess. I think that we are in the middle of something. I wish we are at the end. I wish it had not even begun. But as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, wishful thinking is the besetting sin of American optimists, and we should not fall prey to it.

LEMON: Right on. Roger Stone himself, Jon, harkens back to another time in history as a dirty trickster during the Nixon days. Now, he is saying, just declare victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Are you worried that we are going to see the same kind of power grab in the midterms? The midterms are just a few short weeks away.

MEACHAM: Yeah, it's trickier with the midterms, but there are threats, unquestionably. And I would say to my Republican friends, and I live in Tennessee, so when I say Republican friends, that is redundant, I would say, do you really want to be part of a party where the most popular figure, the leading presidential figure, is someone who tells a lie, repeats it, and is attempting to foist that on the rest of us?

And again, that is not a policy dispute. Democracy was built for us to argue about policy. It was also built for us to agree to basic rules of the road. And what that film shows and what again the experience of the last five years shows, is that there are forces in America that want to undo those rules, then to process to their own purposes, and leave the rest of us out of it.

That is not an elite point. That is not (INAUDIBLE) point. That is just the truth. And if we cannot confront it, then again, maybe we aren't up to this. I think we are, but I think the way to prove that is we have to call things by what they are.

One thing about Roger Stone and harkening back to another era in history, is there's a really interesting question, which is, you know, Richard Nixon in the end had a sense of shame. He believed -- he actually obeyed the rules.

When Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott and John Rhodes came to him right at the end in August 1974 and said, Mr. President, you have not got the votes in the Senate, and Goldwater said, I am not sure I'm going to be one of them either, at that point, what did Nixon do?

He did not call a mob to Washington. He did not have a rally on the Ellipse and storm the Senate. He resigned his office. And that's almost as though we are discussing the Peloponnesian war. It's so long ago in political time. And those institutions held.


Again, they held so far, but they are frail and fragile and fallible, and we all had to pay as much attention as possible.

LEMON: Jon, I find it fascinating that you say that these might be the most consequential midterm elections since the Civil War. How so? What are you expecting? What do you mean by that?

MEACHAM: Well, in 1962, we are a nation at war. Abraham Lincoln has bravely both rejected compromise in the secession winter of 1860, 61. There was an entirely rational deal on the table to preserve slavery, extend the Missouri compromise line, and just kick the can down the road, which is what we had done again and again and again in the United States. Lincoln said, no. His top advisors did not want him to go to war over Fort Sumter. But he said, no.

And 1862, in the midterm elections, the Republicans lost something like 23 seats in the House. They lost their working majority in the House. Think about that for a second. Abraham Lincoln lost a clear majority in the House of Representatives in 1862. And so, they lost the governorships in New York and New Jersey. And we forget this. The Civil War now feels in memory like an episode of "Star Wars," right? It was good guy versus bad guys.

Not the case in the sense that there was a significant element in the north that wanted to end the war, that were not ferociously anti- slavery, and thought Lincoln was too anti-slavery and was fighting this war for a cause that they didn't really care about.

And so, that was registered in those midterms. I think this is as important because what was on the ballot in 1862 was whether or not the constitutional experiment, as imperfect as it is, would long endure.

And if there is a significant majority with the Republicans in the House, if the Republicans were to win the Senate, don't take my word for it. Listen to what the Republicans are saying. They are going to unleash their powers to create as much chaos as possible.

And again, if this were a policy dispute, if we were arguing about marginal tax rates or a policy, that is different. But this is about the fundamental question of a democracy, which is, will we obey the rules, will we obey the results of full free and fair elections?

LEMON: Jon Meacham, we are definitely going to see. We'll have you back here to discuss, right? Thank you, Jon Meacham. I appreciate it.

MEACHAM: Thanks, Don. LEMON: What impacts the documentary footage of Roger Stone have on the January 6 Committee in what could be their final hearings? We are going to discuss that, next.




LEMON: So, a CNN exclusive, clips of Trump ally Roger Stone from a documentary film crew, that have been turned over to the January 6 Committee. I spoke with the filmmakers who share their footage with the committee. This is more from that interview, including a never before seen clip of Roger Stone discussing a potential pardon following January 6th. Watch this.


LEMON: This is Roger Stone criticizing the White House counsel's office for what he described as their argument that then President Trump could not provide preemptive pardons to Stone and others with their alleged involvement in the efforts to overturn the election. Listen.


ROGER STONE, TRUMP ALLY: Figure this out.

UNKNOWN: How many -- you're talking about pardoning a movement. How many --

STONE: I think 132 congressmen voted with Trump. That's 132 right there. The list can be as big or small as you want. But it's a way of saying this is so you can't run your witch hunt two. I'm going to do a movie poster, witch hunt two, with a big picture of Merrick Garland.

UNKNOWN: So that's the concept. Has it been pitched to the president?

STONE: Yes, it has. I believe the president is for it. The obstacles are these lily-levered, weak kneed bureaucrats in the White House counsel's office. Now, they must be crashed because they told the president something that is not true.


LEMON: So, he is suggesting here that the president was getting bad advice, and that he would be able to do a blanket pardon. Is there more that you can tell us about this?

GULDBRANDSEN: Roger Stone was very, very afraid of getting arrested after January 6th, when he went back to Fort Lauderdale.

LEMON: How do you know that?

GULDBRANDSEN: Because he said so. LEMON: He did?

GULDBRANDSEN: Repetitiously.

LEMON: They're on tape?


LEMON: What did he say?

GULDBRANDSEN: Well, he would say that there was no rule of law anymore. That you could just invoke the --


GULDBRANDSEN: -- Insurrection Act, and they could just prosecute people without reason.

LEMON: Go on.

MARBELL: He was on the phone with the bunch of different people where the vibe was sort of that the Democrats would be coming for all of them now that they got into the White House.

LEMON: But he indicated nervousness?


GULDBRANDSEN: Yeah, he was very afraid, I think.


LEMON: Again, Roger Stone has given us a statement saying that he disputes the accuracy of the clips and that they prove nothing. We are going to see how the January 6 Committee might use them in their hearing later this week.

Joining me now, CNN political commentators Scott Jennings and Ashley Allison. Good evening to both of you. A fascinating interview, I think. Scott, I'm going to start with you. It's no secret that Trump hangs out a lot of shady characters like Roger Stone. After all, he commuted his sentence. What the January 6 Committee have to do really to bolster their case on Wednesday?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: You mean, in terms of public opinion like for Republicans? Look, I think that there is candidly not much more they can do. I mean, I think that we know the basic contours of what happened. I think they have laid out a fairly detailed argument so far. We've not seen much movement in public opinion.

I do think that one of the things about the clip you just showed that is interesting to me, and I would be curious to know how Trump is going to take it, is the idea that Roger Stone is saying, well, Donald Trump was not strong enough to overcome his staff in the White House on this pardon issue. Think about what he said.

I think the president is for it, but the staff is stopping him from doing it. What he's saying is that the president is too weak to do something that the Constitution gives him absolute power to do. He doesn't need staff to issue pardons. He can write it on a piece of paper and do it. Internally --

LEMON: Trump would love that, right?

JENNINGS: I mean, just the idea that he is so weak, that he's being bossed round by the staff, I don't know. Strikes me as interesting interplay there.

LEMON: Yeah. But you don't think there's anything they can do to bolster?

JENNINGS: Oh, I mean, look, I think public opinion is set on this thing. I don't think it has moved an inch candidly since it started. I just think that's where we are.

LEMON: Is this like the one time you're going to agree with Scott?



ALLISON: I am speechless.

LEMON: You don't think --

ALLISON: I think we have had so much information. People have picked their camp. And now, if he runs in 2024, it could actually sway public opinion. But I do think voters are not going to vote for people based on what is happening on the January 6.

LEMON: But what about -- January 6th, when you think about it, it's been a while, right?

ALLISON: It has been.

LEMON: It's been a while since they had their last hearing. What can they do in Wednesday's hearing to make this sort of relevant again? Was there a cliff-hanger? A "Who Shot J.R." moment where people are going and now want to come back and see it?

ALLISON: Unless they have -- we did see and hear information in those hearings earlier on about activities on that day and leading up to that day that were very shocking. I think at that point, those were the moments. Unless they have some clip of Trump saying explicitly what he was planning, that, I think, definitely coming out of the horse's mouth.

Otherwise, I think that the timing of this is interesting. I'm surprised they're doing it now. They say they might do another one, the midterms. But we had such a great sequence of events in June and July. It seems untimely on that. I don't even know how many people might tune in for.

LEMON: Let's talk about it. You said, you know, unless he runs again, but the committee may make a criminal referral in the future. We know that there is a separate parallel DOJ investigation. Do you the possible Trump indictment, is that going to hover over the former president and the GOP through the midterms?

JENNINGS: No, I don't. I agree, actually. I think people are not voting on this snow. I think they are voting on the economy, inflation. I think if you are a Democrat, you are voting on abortion and other issues.

So, I think the two parties have picked their issue sets. that's where we are and that's what we are going to see, and we are going to see who turns out.

However, where I fully agree, when the public turns its attention to who is going to be the commander-in-chief next, this issue of January 6 becomes front and center because, obviously, Donald Trump will be asking for this awesome responsibility again, and the last time that he held it, he totally abused it and violated his oath of office. And so, that is when it, in my opinion, moves back to the front burner.

But one thing we have learned in this midterm, the salient of economic issues or the salient of other policy matters that people really care about have really leap frogged to the front and put this thing way down the list.

LEMON: Do you agree with that? Do you think that democracy is going to be on the line? Will that motivate Democrats in five weeks?

ALLISON: I think there is one caveat to that. If you are -- there is what? Two-thirds of the folks who won Republican primaries are election deniers. Now, you might vote the reason why January 6 happened was because of denying the results of the election. If you are an independent, that actually might be a determining factor of who you are voting for. Maybe not be the first one, but the second one.

If your Republican candidate is an election denier and you don't want January 6th 2.0 to come to your state capital and be afraid of that, I think that will play in voters' minds. I do not think though it is the dominant thought. Unfortunately, this election --

LEMON: Speaking of election deniers, Liz Cheney said, one of the Republicans in the January 6th -- she is one of the Republicans in January 6th, she said this is about Kari Lake, the election denier and Republican candidate for governor in Arizona.


Here it is.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that Kari Lake is not elected. (APPLAUSE)

UNKNOWN: So, does that include campaigning for Democrats if that is what it takes?


UNKNOWN: It does. Okay.



LEMON: Scott, is campaigning for Democrats the right thing to do if the GOP candidate does not believe in the election result?

JENNINGS: I disagree with --

LEMON: Even if they're an election denier and there is no evidence, you're still going to vote for that?

JENNINGS: I think -- I don't know what her future holds. I mean, I think she wants to run for national office. I think if you are going to seek the republican nomination, that is something that has been talked about. This is not something that you would do.

I mean, look, she and I are in a different place. I am a Republican. I have no -- I've told you many times, I think we need a different nominee in 2024 than we had in the last two elections. But I do not feel like being run out of my own party. I mean, she obviously feels that way. That's her prerogative. But I just -- you know, I don't believe you have to default to Democrats who, in my opinion, here is where the kumbaya is.


LEMON: -- her place and my place are the same thing. I mean, there's someone, regardless of party, who is denying an election that there --

JENNINGS: I don't know. Hypothetically, the Georgia governor's race. What if there were somebody running for Georgia governor that denied the results of the election? I didn't hear Liz Cheney talking about Stacey Abrams. Why is she so fixated on Kari Lake?

LEMON: That's not the same thing. You know that. It is not the same thing.


LEMON: There was no run on the Capitol. There was no one, a party around the country saying that, we are support a candidate or a candidate who is denying the election. It's not the same thing.

JENNINGS: It sounds hypocritical to the average Republican.

LEMON: Well, I mean, you guys hear things differently than most people. I mean -- but you don't think that an election denier -- you would -- you would still vote for an election denier and support an election denier?

JENNINGS: You are asking me if a Republican has a responsibility to go and vote for Democrats because they don't like somebody down the ballot for some reason. I just don't fundamentally --

LEMON: Yeah, I think so, yes.

JENNINGS: I totally disagree.

LEMON: Why? You're going to vote for a Republican, a Democrat or independent, someone who is actually operating in reality? Why should party matter over country and the truth?

JENNINGS: Because who is in charge -- I don't mean to dominate this conversation, by the way. But I think who controls the Congress, I think who controls the different levels of government matters.

LEMON: Even if it's a denier of reality?

JENNINGS: And as a Republican, the fact that Democrats have been in full control for almost two years and drive this country off into the ditch means a lot to me.

LEMON: Scott, a lot of reasons -- a lot of reasons that we're here is because Republicans don't want to do anything that Democrat ask for. They don't --

ALLISON: Let me ask you this.

LEMON: There is no bipartisanship.

JENNINGS: I mean, Joe Biden --

LEMON: Hold on. Hold on. Scott, I'm actually in shock that you would support an election denier over someone regardless of what their party is.

JENNINGS: You are asking me about hypothetical generic races. I mean, I don't know who I would vote for in individual races, but I'm telling you, my default position is I would rather conservatives and Republican be in control.

LEMON: Would you vote for Kari Lake?

JENNINGS: In Arizona, over the Democrat they've got out there, she is terrible, of course, I would vote the Republican.

ALLISON: And she is an election -- okay, so this is -- I will say two things. One, I feel like there have been some Democrats out there that wanted election deniers to win, and I think that is wrong, too, because they thought it would be easier for the Democratic candidate to win. No one should be supporting election deniers.

But my question is, when does it stop? When do we actually put our country first? I agree, it would be hard for me as a progressive, as a Democrat, to vote for a Republican ever, but if that Democrat was actually trying to undermine the foundation of this country, I would have to really call to question my beliefs.

What would be enough not to get you not to vote for someone who doesn't believe the truth? Would you vote for Donald Trump in 2024 if he ends up being -- if Joe Biden and Donald Trump run again, knowing what he has done to the country, would you vote, would you not vote, would you vote for Donald Trump?

JENNINGS: Number one, I don't have to adjudicate my voting position to you. Number two, I would never vote for Joe Biden. He is like the worst president of my lifetime, and I was born during the Carter years.


ALLISON: -- about the last four years before Joe because --

JENNINGS: Did you look at your 401K today? I mean, goodness gracious, this country --

LEMON: Scott, it's not all about money. It's not all about money.

JENNINGS: You know what? Maybe it is. For a heck of a lot of people who are going to the grocery store every day, it is.


LEMON: If you don't have the democracy, then we can't talk about money, we can't talk about the economy, we can't talk about the stock market --

JENNINGS: First of all, I think we do have a democracy.

LEMON: -- because then it becomes Russia. Then it becomes a dictatorship.


ALLISON: We are on the verge. We are not saying we don't have a democracy. What we are saying is that we are on the verge. We were just having a beautiful kumbaya. I knew it wasn't --

LEMON: Scott -- hold on. Hold on. Honestly -- this is an honest question. Are you saying your 401K or my 401K or her 401K, that is more important than the country?

JENNINGS: I'm telling you that the average voter gets up every day, goes to work, pays their taxes, plays by all the rules --

LEMON: You're not answering the question.

JENNINGS: I am. Listen, they're staring into an abyss right now. They can't afford to go to the store. They can't get afford their kids' college education. They can't get a mortgage because mortgage rights are through the roof. And they're asking themselves, what is happening today?

LEMON: You are not answering my question.


LEMON: You're saying your 401K is more important.

JENNINGS: Look, I'm fine, I'm going to survive, but the average American may not.

LEMON: You are still not answering my question.


LEMON: You're not. You're saying that your 401K is more important than the country, than our democracy.

JENNINGS: No, I am saying that -- look, again, I'm fine. I'm saying that the average voter has front and center kitchen table pocketbook issues. They have --

LEMON: We have every single election since this country has started. We have that issue.

JENNINGS: We haven't had an inflation like this in half a century.

LEMON: We've gone through -- Hold on. Hold on. But we have had it in half a century. We've had it before. We've had it before but never before have we had people denying reality and truth and undermining our democracy the way that folks are doing it now. What's more important to you, the country, our democracy, or your 401K?

JENNINGS: I mean, I'm just going to tell you, your position, I understand you feel about it strongly --

LEMON: I'm just asking you the question.

JENNINGS: You are in the vast minority of Americans that relates to what they really care about in this election.

LEMON: No, I'm not. What did you say that? I'm not in the vast minority. I'm an American. I have concerns just like everybody else.

JENNINGS: Oh, if you are right, then this January 6th would be the number one issue.

LEMON: I'm not saying that I'm right. I'm asking you, what is more important, your 401K or the democracy of the country?

JENNINGS: I don't accept the premise. I disagree that the democracy is on life support. I just fundamentally disagree with that. We have massive voter turnout in the last three elections. We have more people participating than ever. And American people --

LEMON: It still doesn't mean that the people who are leading them are operating at a position of truth or telling the truth to them. Many people have been coauthored by lies.

JENNINGS: I agree with that. I 100% agree with that.

ALLISON: Scott, the reason why we had the largest turnout in history is because --

LEMON: Because 81 million people --

ALLISON: Because people realized that we had someone in office that was putting our country at risk. He wasn't improving the lives of the average American person. That is why Republicans voted for Joe Biden. That's why independents voted for Joe Biden. That's why the most young people ever voted before in a lifetime.

We had record turnout because the person was putting our democracy at threat, jeopardizing the constitutional rights of everyone, immigrants, myself as a Black person. Both people on both sides are great. I mean, you really think Joe Biden is worse than someone who says the things that happened in Charlottesville or people on both sides --

LEMON: We got to go.

JENNINGS: By the way, Republicans did just fine. That record turnout delivered more Republicans to the House, state houses, all down the ticket. It was Trump, unique problem, but they wanted Republicans beyond that.

LEMON: Thank you both. We'll be right back.




LEMON: New tonight, NASA's dart mission spacecraft deliberately and successfully crashing into an asteroid. It marks humanity's first test of planetary defense. The asteroid named Dimorphos was not at risk of impacting earth, but NASA does hope the demonstration will give them a better idea of how to deflect any asteroid that could pose a threat to earth in the future.

For more, I want to bring on CNN space analyst Mr. Miles O'Brien. That's our expert. Hey, Miles, good to see you. So, this kind of stuff out of -- it is out of a movie, right? "Armageddon." This mission is a success. How important is this moment knowing that we can protect our planet from these types of cosmic threats?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE ANALYST: Yeah, I think it is kind of a pivotal moment in human history, Don. We proved that we have the capacity at least to do this. If a big asteroid we're headed our way and over the course of the long term, that is inevitable, we would have something in our arsenal that could give us an opportunity to defend ourselves, kind of put our dupes up with this thing. We live in a tough neighborhood. There is a lot of big rocks out there. We don't know where all of them are yet, and that is an important thing to do. But if we do find ourselves in a situation where a huge rock which could cause an extinction event like the dinosaurs 65 million years ago or something that might wipe out a whole city, it is nice to know that we could do something about it.

LEMON: So, explain to me, Miles, how did NASA actually make this happen, because this spacecraft was the size of a refrigerator.

O'BRIEN: Yes, kind of David versus Goliath kind of thing. It is a vending machine thing that is about 1,500 pounds hitting a rock that is five billion tons. You would think, well, what could that do? But, you know, it's not unlike playing pool. One ball hit another and you are going to have an equal and opposite reaction.


This is a little bit of Newtonian physics. So that part of it is not a scientific mystery. What they really want to find out, first of all, is could they navigate to this object, only a little more than 500 feet across, about the size of it the Great Pyramid, over the course of a 107 million miles, and then once it impacted, just how much of a push could they give it with that object that is so small but traveling 14,000 miles an hour?

And that is what is happening right now. Astronomers all over the world are going to crunch the numbers and see how much the orbit of this little moon of Dimorphos, how much that orbit changed.

LEMON: Miles, in the short time we had with you, we became smarter. Thank you. Sorry that our time is short tonight. We really appreciate it. You be well. It is good to see you, my friend.

O'BRIEN: All right. You're welcome.

LEMON: You, too. Italy's election resulting in the country's first woman prime minister. But her rise also represents another marker, Italy's most far-right leader since the fascist era of Benito Mussolini.




LEMON: Italy is about to make history with the first woman set to become prime minister, and 45-year-old Giorgia Meloni is expected to lead the most far-right government since the era of fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

She is head of the ultraconservative Brothers of Italy party and with the support of right-wing coalition partners, Meloni is expected to form a new government over the next few weeks. Her party's agenda is rooted in anti-immigration, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ policies. Meloni is also a critic of the European Union. Stay tuned.

Thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.