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Don Lemon Tonight

Florida Braces For Direct Hit As Category 3 Hurricane Grows Stronger; Jury Selection Underway In Historic Trial For Oath Keepers Leader And His Top Lieutenants Over January 6; New Lawsuit Takes Aim At Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Plan. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 27, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: We are following now the progression of hurricane Ian. I want to get right to now -- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holding a press conference on Ian along with other emergency officials in Tallahassee, Florida tonight. Let's listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Going out all through the state. So, this is not going to end up leaving the state of Florida until sometime on Friday morning. So, this is a lot of nasty weather that we are in store for over the next few days. Kevin Guthrie is here as well as Jimmy Patronis. I'll let Kevin come up a, and then we'll hear from Secretary Perdue and CFO.

KEVIN GUTHRIE, DIRECTOR, FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Thank you, governor. We again appreciate your continued leadership on this response to hurricane Ian. As you said, currently, hurricane Ian is bringing tropical storm-force winds and rain to the keys in South Florida.

Our meteorologists just mentioned to us that before coming in here that our tropical storm-force winds may extend out at landfall, 300 plus miles to the northeast. So again, as the governor has already mentioned, this will be a statewide event. This is going --


LEMON: We are watching the officials there in Florida, including the governor, give an update on hurricane Ian, and we are tracking the progress of that very dangerous storm. It should make landfall at Category 3.

The National Hurricane Center releasing a new forecast on hurricane Ian at this hour. Fifteen million people are under hurricane warnings in southwestern Florida. The state is making its final preparations for the dangerous storm tonight, and we are standing by for an update.

Again, more information coming from officials there. You saw the governor giving a press conference and -- as well as the other officials, so we are monitoring their information.

Two meteorologists are tracking the storms for us. Tom Sater is in the CNN Weather Center. Derek Van Dam is in Bradenton, Florida. Good evening to both gentlemen. Tom, I want to speak with you first. A new storm forecast is just coming out. What is the latest from hurricane Ian's path?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, the latest advisory tells us this. This is going to be a major hurricane. We know that. It is going to expand in its size. In the last advisory, we now had the center at 110 miles southwest of Naples. It continues to move at 10 miles an hour. It has been moving at this speed all day long.

Even yesterday, it wasn't much stronger in Cuba. They've had massive flooding in western Cuba, without power in Havana. We've got our first hurricane gusts now being reported in key west.

A couple of significant things to talk about. This eye is collapsing which means it's undergoing some restructuring. It's an eyewall replacement cycle which means each time it does that, the winds expand outward.

Now, right now, the winds have not changed. Hurricane-force winds extend outward 40 miles each direction. That's an 80-mile wide swath of hurricane winds. Tropical storm-force winds have not changed but they will when the cycle changes. Already it is almost a 300-mile swath. It looked like landfall earlier and the timing -- of course, give us a few hours here -- maybe between 4 and 8 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.


The center is changing. What is the new and the latest advisory, Don, is that we have been watching and tracking, of course, this entire system, and each six hours, we get a new track. Monday morning, every six hours, look at the trend, they've all been moving to the south and east, and in the latest advisory, a few more degrees to the east. So, instead of a landfall, let's say around Venice or Englewood, we are looking pretty much around Port Charlotte. That's terrible news.

Now, I know everyone along this coast was hoping that that eye would be south of them so the surge would be worse to the south. No one wants anything terrible for the neighbors but, of course, when you watch the system, the forecast has changed dramatically for Tampa and the bay.

So, with the track change, we are looking at maybe it could be a little bit earlier, but still let's go with 4 to 8, and you can see where it moves into the area here. Now, that is terrible news for everyone around, of course, Charlotte Harbor down all the way to Naples. Cape Coral, this is just terrible news. Fort Myers, it's going to shove all of the surge into this region.

So, as we watch this, we are going to see a few changes now, and we have in the surges, in fact, still 4 to 6 in Tampa, but we will talk more about that in a few minutes, but it is 8 to 12 now from around Englewood down southward.

So again, a lot to talk about, ever-changing. Of course, it could wobble still a little bit. But that trend has been interesting to see it shift to the east. That's bad news for those in the south, better known for those residences and citizens to the north.

LEMON: Tom, thanks for that. Derek, let's bring you in now because Ian is barreling towards the west coast of Florida where you are tonight. Tell us what it's like on the ground.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, Don. You know, all the ingredients are coming together for a worst-case scenario for many locations across the southwestern Florida peninsula.

And just like the acting director of the National Hurricane Center told my colleague, Jennifer Gray, earlier today, it's time to stop looking at the internet hoping that this storm is going to go away because guess what, it is knocking on our doorstep and it's getting larger and larger as the moments pass.

I want you to bring up my graphics because I want to show you exactly what is happening so you can kind of get a perspective of how serious this situation is. I'm going to show you exactly where we are, located right at the end of that little arrow I just drew. The eyewall, that is located about 200 miles to my south.

As Tom was talking about a moment ago, the eye wall is expanding. That means the wind field is expanding. That means the hurricane has the potential to bring larger storm surge impacts to a larger surface area along the southwestern coastline.

As compared to a smaller more compact storm like hurricane Charlie in 2004, that moved through, caused damage, still had storm surge, but it didn't have that large wind field like we are experiencing with Ian.

Now, this is also important as well. If you recall, yesterday, we had a storm that was literally forecast to crawl up parallel with the coastline of the Florida peninsula. That was going to slow down and also weaken as it did, but that changed over the past 24 hours.

Now, we are getting more of what is a perpendicular forecast. That means we got an earlier arrival time and that leaves little time for the storm to weaken before it reaches the coastline. So, we have the potential here for a Category 3 or higher major hurricane, as Tom was talking about, to impact the region where I'm standing now.

And to my north, Tampa Bay, it is 40 miles to my north, and residents to the south. We are talking 100 miles to my south, it's Fort Myers. Anywhere between those locations, we know that is the path, the cone of uncertainty, don't focus on that center line. It's important because these storms of this magnitude, they do that wobble, and miles matter when you are forecasting a major hurricane like this. Don?

LEMON: All right, Tom, Derek, thank you. Stand by, gentlemen. We have a lot to talk about. I want to turn now to Ed McCrane, emergency management chief for Sarasota, Florida. Thank you so much for joining us, Chief McCrane. We appreciate you. We know that it's a busy time for you. It's looking like Ian is on track to strike Sarasota County. Biggest concerns at this hour?

ED MCCRANE, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT CHIEF, SARASOTA COUNTY: Don, thank you for this opportunity. My biggest concern is I don't think enough people are taking this seriously in our area. I have about 150,000 people that encompass at the level A and B evacuation area that we call (INAUDIBLE) emergency. At this moment, with my 12 evacuation shelters, my team tells me we have about 3,000 people.

So, I don't know where all these people went. I hope that they left the area. But we are putting out messages. We put out one of those IPAWS messages, basically like an amber alert, they went to every cell phone. And we are hoping to tell people that you don't have as much time as you think you do.


I think people look to the track and said, oh, we got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Well, that was when it was going straight north. Once it made that shift and is coming towards us in the land, that Wednesday, Thursday, Friday is across Florida. We can see this tomorrow afternoon making landfall, like the gentleman said, Charlotte Harbor area. So, my southern county is going to feel this tomorrow afternoon.

LEMON: You are not the first official to tell me that -- this evening that they are concerned that -- about the people, number of people who are going to shelters, low. They would like to see more people going to the shelters and evacuating. What is going on? You think that people just are underestimating what's happening?

MCCRANE: I think that the people have access these days with their smartphones and devices. I think one guy said, stop looking at the track and hope that is going to go away. It's not.

You can't -- if you are not a trained official, meteorologist, an emergency manager that deals with this evacuation decision-making process, you cannot look at your phone and say, okay, I've got -- I can wait and go the shelter Wednesday.

When this thing made that shift onshore this morning, the governor was here. When I woke up this morning, I went from up to 10-foot storm surge which is level 8, up to 15. So, we expand to level B. Then I get a call from the governor's office, we are going to be there. Governor, Mr. Guthrie, several officials were here, the general from National Guard.

We had a press conference. We briefed him, then we had a press conference. We announced to the public that we have to expand this thing. So, that's a drastic shift, and I know a lot of people weren't paying attention to that, I guess, and they think they have tomorrow. The problem is here. At 2:00 in the morning, we are locked down in the EOC. We locked everybody down, nobody in, nobody out. But 2:00 in the morning, we are going to start seeing tropical storm-force winds, according to the hurricane center's arrival of wind charts.

And it's very dangerous to drive. When those winds get to 45, we don't send emergency vehicles out. They're locked down in the station. That's why we want people to get to a safe place before that occurs.

LEMON: I'm so happy that you are on saying this, really, and that you are being emphatic about it because it's important. Listen, Chief McCrane, Sarasota and Fort Myers are bracing for historic 12-foot storm surge. I mean, how do you prepare for that?

MCCRANE: Really, Don, you can't stop it, obviously, so all you can do is look at who is impacted, who would be impacted? We have maps that do that. We have a slash model that the hurricane center provides. Emergency managers look at that and they create the evacuation map. So, for instance, a squiggly line, where the water would go, we snap that forward to a boundary like U.S. 41.

Now, I can say, everybody west of 41, you are at level A. Everybody on the island, coastal, at every mobile home park, regardless of where it is in the county, it's part of level A, you need to evacuate. And if we are told that it's going to be higher than 12 feet of storm surge, we have to go to level B, level C, and so forth. And then we break the announcement, we prepare transportation for those who don't have it.

The biggest challenge we have is the medically-dependent, those people who are oxygen-dependent, power-dependent. They live at home alone sometimes, elderly, mobility issues. We have them on a registry, but they have to do their part. These people have to register and let us know that they need assistance. And we have about 1,100 that did.

Sunday, we called them all. Yesterday, actually Sunday, we did a robocall, do you need the help, push one, push two, we've got the numbers. Yesterday, we called everyone, all 1,100, do you need a ride, can you get to the shelter today? We started transporting them. Out of that 1,100, I believe I have 295 at two different medically-dependent shelters.

And then we opened up the general population shelters for anybody that doesn't have any other place to go. And out of the 40,000 or so spaces that I have, 3,000 people are taking advantage of that safety. And I'm worried that the time is running out to safely get to these.

So, we did the wireless alert, every cell phone, and I don't know what else I can do. I've told people, we've done everything we can as emergency officials to give you an opportunity to be safe, and you have to do your part.

LEMON: Wow. So, beyond that, chief, does your county have the supplies it needs from the state, from the federal government? Do you have enough sandbags, bottled water, et cetera?

MCCRANE: Yes, sir. We did the sandbags two days prior through our emergency alert. Sunday, Monday, we gave out, I believe, something like 17,000 sandbags. Tons and tons of sand. We have the water and the governor and the director (INAUDIBLE) were here today. We have the National Guard team here, 1,100 National Guard troops throughout the state ready to support this area, and we have the command team for the National Guard right here in my EOC.


This is probably one of the safest buildings (INAUDIBLE) few 150 miles an hour, we are five miles from the coast, we are fully self- sufficient. We are on generator now. We've been on generator for the last six hours. We can run 100 hours on our generator because we don't want the power disruption in the middle of the storm.

LEMON: Chief, thank you. We hear the warning from you. I hope people are listening to the sound of your voice. We appreciate it. Be well and stay safe, okay?

MCCRANE: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you so much.

LEMON: I hope all your listeners are doing that. You have a good show, and I hope they're watching you and they're hearing me, and they get there because the time is running out. Thank you, sir.

LEMON: Thank you, chief.

Up next, the storm chaser is hot on the trail of hurricane Ian.



LEMON: So, hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall in Florida less than 24 hours from now. This massive storm is now a Category 3 with winds of up to 120 miles per hour.

My next guest is on the ground tracking Ian, extreme meteorologist and storm chaser Reed Timmer joins me now. Reed, appreciate you joining us as you always do during these times. This storm is getting strong, stronger, bigger. You are out there right now. You are in Pine Island where they are bracing for this onslaught. What are you seeing?

REED TIMMER, EXTREME METEOROLOGIST: Well, so far, today, it's already been raining quite a bit. There's already (INAUDIBLE) on the roadways. There are numerous tornado warnings today. Some of the tornado threat today out in the outer band. Over a dozen tornado warnings. Confirmed tornado down in Alligator Allery, in Everglades. There is still active tornado warning tonight just to our east as well.

So, we are keeping a close eye on those outer bands where you can definitely feel the power of the system already, even with the number of (INAUDIBLE) and even the severity of these outer bands. We are in mandatory evacuated area. Sanibel Island is just south to my left. We are expecting an 8 to 12-foot storm surge here. It is going to be a devastating storm, life-threatening, needs to be taken seriously. You absolutely need to leave, especially this mandatory evacuated area.

LEMON: Let me ask you. We have had a couple officials on television tonight saying they are concerned, they don't believe people are taking them up on their offer of shelter or heeding the warnings to evacuate. You are out on the roads. What are you seeing?

TIMMER: Well, there definitely were a lot of people on the roads today. And I noticed that people are heading north to south on Interstate 75. But then I realized that they were actually cutting east, across the Everglades, to evacuate on that part of the peninsula, likely running into active tornado warning as well on I-75. Definitely, a lot of people are out and about.

But certainly, on the islands, people are boarding up and beginning to take it seriously. Just tonight as we are coming into Pine Island, we saw a lot of people that were evacuating, the islands out here. I think the people are really starting to take this seriously because it is going to be a Category 4 at landfall.

Previous hurricanes like hurricane Harvey, hurricane Laura, hurricane Ida last year are similar in intensity and it looks like this will also going to produce a huge amount of rainfall as well. Flash flooding is going to be a threat. There is actually a high risk for excessive rainfall by the Weather Prediction Center across the central portion of the state, including Tampa.

So, all types of flooding expected from the storm system, flash flooding, coastal flooding, storm surge flooding, and it's possible that with the storm slowing down on the coast of Florida, a vast storm surge could last across multiple title cycles.

LEMON: Let's talk about that because you said Category 4. They are expecting, we've heard, Ian, as a Category 3, right, with winds of up to 120 miles per hour. It's expected to feed off the warm waters of the gulf. In the coming hours, what are you expecting to see?

TIMMER: Well, there is a lot of warm water just off the coast of southwest Florida. Some of the warmest water anywhere in the globe is found from the western Caribbean through the loop current southeastern Gulf of Mexico, and this hurricane is over that right now.

It's over waters that are greater than 30 degrees Celsius. It's very high oceanic heat content. It's certainly intensifying. It's going through some internal changes. It just went through an eyewall replacement cycle where it squeezed out that earlier a smaller eye. And now, a larger eyewall is starting to take over. That gives it even more room to intensify the pressure, around 950 -- I believe 952 millibars.

So, it certainly has room to deepen which is definitely a scary thought. It's also a very large storm. So, even though it's taking a similar track to a hurricane Charlie, it's more intense right now. It is already piling up that water, and I think that the storm surge is going to be much more severe with a storm like Ian.

LEMON: So, you talked about the storm surge. As you say, some places are expecting to see up to 12 feet. Talk to us about the danger that the storm surges pose because this, quite frankly, the most dangerous aspect of these hurricanes, correct?

TIMMER: Yeah, it's the most dangerous, and it's the aspect that I'm most terrified of as well. Personally, I was a storm chaser, having chased down over 40 of these tropical cyclones. Many of these Category 4 storms, it's absolutely terrifying, the power of water.

And it's a tsunami-like wall of water that comes in. It's a combination of the wind piling up the water, also the pressure fall helps to create a little bit of a bubble on the sea surface, and all of that combined to create a storm surge with waves on top of it.


So, it is 8 to 12 feet above the normal levels, and then we also have the destructive wave off of storm surge as well.

LEMON: Reed, be well. Be safe. We will see you soon. Thank you.

TIMMER: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Jury selection has begun in the seditious conspiracy trial of five leaders of the Oath Keepers over January 6th. What you need to know about the trial, next.


LEMON: Jury selection now underway in the trial of five members of the far-right wing Oath Keepers. The most serios charge against them, seditious conspiracy for their alleged roles in the January 6th attack.


I want to bring in now CNN senior analyst Mr. Elie Honig to discuss. Elie, good evening to you. As we track this hurricane, we got other stuff to talk about. This is one is -- we're talking about the Oath Keepers beginning today with jury selection. The central charge, seditious conspiracy, that is what makes this trial so historic. The government rarely uses this charge.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Don, it has been over a decade since the Department of Justice has charged and tried anyone with seditious conspiracy. What that means, by the way, is simply attempting to stop a lawful function of government, in this case the counting the electoral votes by Congress, by force. That's what separates this from some of the other charges that we have seen against January 6th rioters.

And I should say, DOJ has come under some criticism, and I count myself one of these critics, for not charging more people with seditious conspiracy. In my view, anyone who went into the Capitol that day and used force or planned to use force should have been charged with this. Yet we have seen under two dozen people in total of the 800 plus people, so really just about a couple percent of the total rioters charged with seditious conspiracy.

LEMON: Elie, prosecutors are relying on more than 40 witnesses, including FBI agents, Capitol police officers, journalists, confidential human sources. How hard, do you think, it will be for prosecutors to prove this case?

HONIG: Well, no case is easy, Don. Most trials that go to trial in the federal system do result in conviction. To me, the most powerful evidence in this case is the encrypted messages exchanged between Stewart Rhodes and the other defendants.

They are talking about how they need to brace for civil war, how they need to gather, and they did gather weaponry and stashed them across the river from Washington D.C. and hotels in Virginia, how they planned to get together what they called QRF, quick reaction forces.

To me, witnesses are important, but the texts, those texts written by these defendants, those are going to be my strongest exhibit if I'm prosecuting this case.

LEMON: You know, the committee, the January 6 Committee postponed tomorrow's hearing due to hurricane Ian. They are planning to reveal new information uncovered since the summer. What dots do they need to connect do you think?

HONIG: well, I think the first thing they need to do, Don, is pull everything together. They put on, I think, eight or nine hearings at this point, and they've really given us some compelling evidence, but they need to pull together into one coherent narrative, the way you would really as a closing argument in a jury trial.

I think there are still some unknowns. What happened to the Secret Service records? Do we know anything about those texts? What happened to the missing calls on the White House log? Were people in communication with the president?

And I think most importantly, was there a direct line of communication from the White House to other domestic extremist groups like the Oath Keepers or Proud Boys?

LEMON: I want to ask about this. Trump has a new addition to his legal team. His name is Chris Kise. He's getting sidelined from Mar-a- Lago documents investigation. He was the big name brought up less than a month ago to really represent Trump on the issue, even negotiated a $3 million-payment up front. He may still focus on other Trump investigations. But what is happening with him? Why is he being sidelined?

HONIG: Well, it's hard to say. Chris Kise is one of the sorts of more accomplished lawyers on Trump's legal team. Really the quality of his lawyering so far has been poor, and I think I'm being sort of generous at even stating it that way. The arguments have been weak, the strategy has been all over the map, and we are seeing it backfire, for example, with the special master.

These claims that Trump is making, that he declassified documents, the documents were planted, the judge now, the special master, is calling him out on it. And part of the dilemma, I think, for any lawyer whether it's Chris Kise or anybody else is you cannot make a false statement to a court knowingly.

And if you are put in that position as a lawyer, then you have to step off of the case. I don't know that that is happening here, but the fact and if Chris Kise is in fact being sidelined or somehow minimized, that is not a good sign for Donald Trump and his legal strategy.

LEMON: Is it Kise or is it that there is really no defense at this point or no good defense, I should say?

HONIG: Well, any good defense lawyer can come up with a decent defense. It could be that there is a miscommunication or a lack of trust between the client, Donald Trump, and the lawyer. It could be that Chris Kise is not willing to make certain defenses --

LEMON: Right.

HONIG: -- that Donald Trump would want him to make, and that gets back to the ethical point that I said before, you can't go into court and say something if you believe is false. So, when that happens, you do see parting of ways sometimes.

LEMON: The special master gave Trump a Friday deadline to put up or shut up about documents that he claims were planted by the DOJ in the search and seizure. Now, we are hearing about benching their $3- million-dollar attorney. Is it clear to you that Trump's lawyers know how to proceed here? Maybe they don't really know how to proceed?

As I keep saying, maybe there is no good defense, and the only defense is -- I don't know, possibly to not tell the truth or make things up or do things that they shouldn't be doing as attorneys, I don't know.

HONIG: Yeah, these lawyers are on a top spot. This judge, the special master, has put them to the (INAUDIBLE), gave them a Friday deadline. They cannot go in there, Don, and say, yes, he declassified documents if they don't believe that is true.


What I think we will see is some sort of lawyerly tap dancing. I think we will see things like well, judge, we are still investigating, we need to consider our options, that kind of thing. But I don't think the special master is going to stand for that much longer. I think he's basically at the point where he says, if you don't come in here and back this up, then I'm counting you out on those defenses.

LEMON: Elie Honig, thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Don. LEMON: President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan generating heated debate when it was first announced. Now, the proposal is facing significant legal challenges and it will likely won't be the only one.




LEMON: A new lawsuit is the first of what could be many significant legal challenges to President Joe Biden's student loan forgiveness plan. The lawsuit from an Indiana lawyer alleges Biden's program is an unacceptable abuse of executive authority and will him to pay state taxes on forgiven debt.

Remember, under Biden's plan announced last month, individual borrowers who earned less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021 and married couples who made less than $250,000 in those years will see up to $10,000 of their federal student loan debt forgiven. If a qualifying borrower also received a federal Pell Grant, they are eligible for up to $20,000 of forgiveness.

There is a lot in there, so we are going to explain. Joining us now to talk about all this is CNN senior political analyst John Avlon. Also with us, CNN political commentators Alice Stewart and Ashley Allison. Thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us, each and every one of you.

John, this is the first major lawsuit of what could be many. Why is this meeting such strong opposition?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We're going to be at the spaghetti at the wall lawsuit stage here where conservative activists are going to try anything they can to stop this plan. Part of that is political. But I think there is a principled argument to be made that this is an overreach of executive power. That's the argument they will make. The Congress controls the strings, President Biden didn't think he had the power to forgive --

LEMON: She is shaking her head.

AVLON: Yeah.


AVLON: And so, that's going to get work down the courts. This is not a --

LEMON: Do you think this is an overreach?

AVLON: Look, I actually think this could be good politics and good policy. And I think when government actually try to alleviate the debt on individuals as opposed to corporations, that's nothing that people should say is an overreach of government power.

LEMON: Okay.

AVLON: I think it's just a different approach to power. But there will be legal challenges. And they shouldn't just be dismissed out.

LEMON: Okay. Before I bring Alice in here, I want to add this question for Ashley. the Congressional Budget on Office has estimated that Biden's plan could cost government $400 billion over time. Does it cost too much? What about the issue of fairness? Because a lot of people say that they work hard to repay their loans. Is that not fair?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that Joe Biden has made it very clear, that if you make more than $400,000 or less than $400,000 a year, your taxes will not be raised from this plan or any plan that he is presenting, and that is what the American public voted him in to belief. And he has stood by that plan.

Four hundred billion dollars is a lot of money, but when you think about some of the bailout that corporate America has received, that is also a lot of money. And so, the people who are holding the student loan debt and will apply for this next month, in October, or your average day Americans who need some relief, I think that this is good policy and good politics.

I also think that there is precedent in terms of there was policy around 9/11 that allow for the Department of Education to grant some of this relief.

The thing I find interesting about this lawsuit, it's not that the person doesn't want their loans forgiven, it's that they don't want to pay taxes on them. And so, it feels a little hypocritical because when you follow lawsuit, my understanding from my law school education was that harm has to be actually induced. They are getting relief. They don't want to pay the $1,000 of the taxes.

LEMON: All right. So, Alice, she makes a good point. If anyone doesn't want the student debt relief, they will be able to opt out. If Republicans do not want to pay the potential state tax on the forgiveness, they can just keep paying their loan.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: That is true. If you do not want to get a relief on your loan, you don't have to. But to Don's point, he is 1000% correct, the power of the purse is not with president, it is with Congress. Don't ask me, ask Nancy Pelosi.

In 2021, she said, President Biden does not have the authority to wipe out the student loan. She said so herself. Now, we are seeing a different tune. This lawsuit is the first of many that we will see. This particular plaintiff in this case is seeking relief because he doesn't want to pay taxes on this.

What we are going to see, the flood of lawsuits will be, I think, in response to what we saw in the letter from 22 Republican governors, wrote a letter to President Biden right after this was announced raising concerns about whether this was unfair, unconstitutional, and illegal. They say that this is unfair to all the people in this country that chose not to take on a student loan, that did not go to college and decided to go to trade school, or others that work their way through college and paid off their --

LEMON: Okay, I understand your point.

STEWART: They also see the burden going on a debt that these people took on --

LEMON: Let me say this. The people -- debt is forgiven all the time. Government, people, military, all kinds of things, debt is forgiven. I'm with you on because Nancy Pelosi did say that.


But, look, I don't have kids, I pay for the public schools, you know.

AVLON: Uh-hmm.

LEMON: I know people who don't have cars who pay for public roads and whatever, and libraries that don't use that. So, that argument about, it's unfair because other people have paid, that doesn't -- that rings hollow to me. But to her point --

AVLON: uh-hmm.

LEMON: Nancy Pelosi did say --

AVLON: Yeah.

LEMON: -- that the power of the person is not with the president, it is with --

AVLON: That is not Nancy Pelosi, that's the Constitution. But Pelosi and Biden both have made this point before and you can expect that that argument will be thrown back to their face of this goes up to the Supreme Court.

But to your point, look, I mean, we've fallen out of the habit of paying for things when parties push their priorities. When Republicans push through the Trump tax cuts and cut corporate tax rate 40% from 35% to 21%, nobody was worried about how to pay for that.

And I do think that, you know, offering folks who make under $125,000 a year, who took on these loans, a little bit of relief, $10,000, $20,000, you have a Pell Grant, that could make a transformative difference in their lives, especially as all of a sudden, they're going to have to start paying back those loans starting January 1st.

LEMON: Let's listen to the truth about this because Biden gets accused of a big spending all the time, right? But on his watch, on President Biden's watch, the deficit has gone down $1 trillion. Doesn't that give him some leeway to push this plan?

ALLISON: It does. It's a matter of how you want people to experience life. I wonder -- we are going to see a whole lot of lawsuits about this student loan debt.

AVLON: We agree on that.

ALLISON: And the challenging part is that the courts are pretty stacked with conservative justices, and so it might not fare well. You can't -- when people run for election, the voters pick. If you don't like a policy because you're like, I don't like it, that's not enough to like take it to court. The real harm. I actually want people who are not benefiting from this policy, i.e., me, maybe you, maybe you, but I'm not experiencing harm. My taxes are not going up. I just might not think the the policy is great. That's America. That's democracy. And Joe Biden is doing things. Employment is down, gas prices are down.

LEMON: Unemployment is down.

ALLISON: Unemployment, I'm sorry.


ALLISON: Unemployment is down. Unemployment is down.

LEMON: I get it.

STEWART: We also have to look at we are still at inflationary period and we had a tremendous stock market bump down last week when he was celebrating --

LEMON: That's all true. Let me ask you one question. Aren't people starting -- this is not a democrat or a republican thing, regardless of your political strife. If you have kids, your kids will be starting, right, and you have to think about paying for college.

AVLON: Uh-hmm.

LEMON: The cost of college is extremely expensive, and people are starting their lives with huge burden. So, on top of the inflation that you talk about, on top of the high gas prices, on top of the grocery prices, they are burdened or possibly be burdened in the future with this debt, because we have gone through inflation, we always go through these same things. Do you understand my point?

STEWART: I absolutely do, which brings up another point that President Biden had talked about as part of this, is to meet with universities across the country and work on reducing the cost of higher education. That hasn't been discussed.

And if this is such a wonderful proposal and so many people are for this, he would have gone to the Democrats and Republicans and try to have this as a bipartisan issue and pass instead doing it through executive action.


AVLON: But, yeah, I mean, you know, here's the thing, you know, he should do that, he will do that, but I want to see Republicans actually get on board with that --


AVLON: -- before I just believe they will do that. And we should have an economy that puts us more on main street than Wall Street, and this is a middle-class policy.


AVLON: And that's a positive thing.

LEMON: To be continued. Thank you all. I appreciate it.

So, we are tracking hurricane Ian set to slam into Florida's west coast. The forecast from the CNN Weather Center, next.




LEMON: We are tracking massive and powerful hurricane Ian as it pushes closer to Florida's west coast. Let's get the very latest now from meteorologist Tom Sater in the CNN Weather Center. Tom?

SATER: Don, to give you the very latest and recap from the 11 p.m. advisory, the center of Ian is 110 miles southwest of Naples. It has dropped in its track once again to the south. So, that means we need to now kind of increase the time now for landfall. Instead of maybe 4 to 7, this is going to be early afternoon.

Unfortunately, that track which looked like it would be somewhere around Angleton or Venice is now down toward Charlotte Harbor. Terrible news for everyone that lives in the waterways -- all coaster waterways, inlets. That surge is going to be crazy from this area. Life-threatening to Naples and beyond.

Tropical storm-force winds by 8 a.m. are going to be north of Tampa all the way to the east coast. The storm, the acorn that has become the oak tree, the first hurricane to affect mainland U.S., and now a major hurricane after landfall in western Cuba -- power is out -- and Havana.

Here is where we are, Category 3. Still thinking it could make it possibly to Category 4 status. But the eye is getting larger and the storm is getting wider. Tropical storm-force winds here in yellow, and you've got hurricane-force winds here in red, watch how it moves through the area and expands. The entire peninsula will experience not just tropical storm-force winds but millions will be hit, of course, by these hurricane-force winds.

The bigger issue, however, really, is going to be the surge. This is a life-threatening surge. It was expected to be the worst-case scenario around Tampa Bay. Tomorrow, it is going to be a completely different story. Winds coming in from around the system will push the water out of the bay and it will be interesting to see the pictures. This was all lit up with bright colors, expecting the worst.


We could see record-low levels in the bay and every inlet and canal while inland. However, to the south, it is worst-case scenario from Port Charlotte all the way up to Peace River. Already areas in the Peace River have seen double the average rainfall in the last couple of weeks. They are already at flood stage now but it extends far to the south. This is going to do some massive damage to this area.

Now, we've got dry air, though, trying to come in through the southwest. That's good news for rain totals to the south but it's bad news to the north where convergence is occurring with a trough. That is going to squeeze out tremendous amounts of rain easily, 10, 20, would not be surprised to see 30-inch total from areas around Bradenton to Lakeland up through Orlando all the way to the coastline.

Multi-faceted storm, one for the books, and again, so good to hear that so many have been moving to shelters and evacuating for the coastline. It's going to be a rough go for the next couple of days. Again, landfall sometime early afternoon. Don?

LEMON: Tom Sater, thank you so much. And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.