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Erin Burnett Outfront
FBI Interviewed Top Trump WH Lawyers About Mar-A-Lago Docs; Georgia Probe Into Trump Efforts To Flip Election Ramps Up, Judge Orders Former Trump Attorney To Appear Before Grand Jury; Trump, Allies Spout Dangerous Lies To Rile Up Base After FBI Search; Polls Close Soon In Wyoming Where Rep. Cheney Is Fighting To Hold Seat; Polls Close Soon in Wyoming Where Rep. Cheney is Fighting to Hold Seat; Biden Signs Sweeping $750B Bill Into Law, Obama: "This is A BFD"; White House Pushes Back On GOP Report Slamming U.S. Afghanistan Withdrawal. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 16, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the FBI interviews Trump's White House attorneys, the two most senior people interviewed into the criminal probe into Trump's handling of documents. All of this coming as another Trump related criminal investigation in Georgia is heating up.
Plus, dangerous and baseless rhetoric spread by Trump allies like Steve Bannon riling up supporters now with lies. Our Drew Griffin OUTFRONT with a special report this hour.
And it is election night in America. We are just hours away from learning Congresswoman Liz Cheney will keep her seat in the House after taking on Trump. Our John King is standing by at the magic wall.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's lawyers talking. CNN confirming that the FBI has interviewed two of Trump's former lawyers. The former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin. And these interviews were about the sensitive documents stored at Mar-a-Lago. They are two most senior former Trump officials to be interviewed in the criminal investigation of Trump's handling of classified information. So, this is a significant development.
Obviously, Cipollone and Philbin know a lot. They were Trump's point men for dealing with the National Archives. Investigators, of course, asked questions about how 15 boxes of materials ended up at Mar-a-Lago even after, even after they said they returned everything. Team Trump did.
According to "The New York Times" Philbin had been working to return all the documents ever since the National Archives realized any of them were missing. It was Trump, though, who resisted. Several advisers telling "The Times" that Trump would say, quote, it's not theirs, it's mine.
Now, of course, we know from the warrant and the receipt of what the FBI took from Mar-a-Lago that they did find highly classified, in fact, some with the most highly classified designation, at Mar-a-Lago.
Cipollone and Philbin are no strangers to federal investigations involving Trump, right? So, it's significant that they are involved now in the DOJ probe into the Mar-a-Lago documents. This comes in addition to the fact that they have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, again DOJ investigation, about the January 6th attack. Cipollone and Philbin have also testified behind closed doors with the January 6th Select Committee.
So, this is three separate places they've appeared. And this development tonight about Cipollone and Philbin and Mar-a-Lago comes as the Georgia investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the election is ramping up. Today, a judge there ruled Trump team lawyer, Jenna Ellis, must appear before the Fulton County grand jury. Ellis was a major supporter of Trump's election lies, repeatedly claiming that boxes of ballots were pulled out from under tables, that poll watchers were told to leave. Of course, that claim was baseless.
Tomorrow, Trump lawyer John Eastman also reportedly schedule to be in court. In December 2020, Eastman actually appeared before the Georgia state legislature to press them publicly to give their electoral votes to Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EASTMAN, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ELECTION ATTORNEY: When you add in the mix of the significant statistical anomalies and sworn affidavits and video evidence of outright election fraud, I don't think it's just your authority to do that, quite frankly, you have a duty to do that, to protect the integrity of the election here in Georgia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So Eastman, Ellis and now, Rudy Giuliani, also expected to appear before the Fulton County ground county -- grand jury -- Fulton County grand jury, I'm sorry, tomorrow. Giuliani's attorney says he has been told explicitly that he is a target in that investigation.
Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live in Washington tonight.
And, Evan, you know, so many of these investigations now moving forward. It appears more and more quickly. What more are you learning about Cipollone and Philbin being interviewed about the Mar-a-Lago documents?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, both Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin were senior lawyers inside the White House and were designated as people for the National Archives to get in touch with when it came to records that were missing, that the National Archives wanted to try to retrieve. It is within that context that the FBI reached out earlier this year as they tried to interview a number of people around the former president to get a sense of how these documents should never have left the custody of the federal government and ended up in Palm Beach at his private estate of Mar-a-Lago.
What we know is that Philbin and Cipollone, of course, would know a lot of answers to some of the questions that you and I were asking over the last few days, right?
The questions of what Trump has said that -- you know, that he did a mass declassification of documents, that just by sending documents from the West Wing to the residence, he was deemed -- they were deemed declassified.
Those are things these two men as White House lawyers would have a window on. The question is, we don't know what they were asked, but they would know the answers to those questions.
BURNETT: These questions are, of course, core to whether there will be an indictment, right, which is the next big question. Trump has been claiming, Evan, that the FBI took three passports from him. I know you have reporting to clear this up. So, what have you learned?
PEREZ: Yeah, look, this is an anatomy of misdirection that you see, you've seen it time and time again. At about 10:49 a.m. on Monday, the Justice Department told Trump's lawyers that the FBI filter team had found that they had these passports and that they wanted to return it to the former president's team. At about 1:30, he goes on his social media platform and accuses the FBI of stealing his passports. It doesn't mention the fact that they're trying to return it to him.
It's not, of course, until about 11:00 p.m. that the FBI puts out a statement saying, look, in the course of doing the search, the filter team did take these passports. They did arrange for those things to be returned to the former president. This is routine. This happens a lot.
A lot of people were wondering whether the FBI was trying to prevent the former president to travel. That's not at all what this is about. This happens in these types of searches.
You can see how this took off with the former president making this accusation, Erin.
BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Thank you very much, Evan Perez.
And I want to bring in now, Ryan Goodman, former special counsel at the Department of Defense, now co-editor in chief of the Just Security blog and professor at NYU School of Law. Dana Bash, our chief political correspondent, co-anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION", and Bill Arkin, "Newsweek" senior national security correspondent who broke the story that an informant tipped off the FBI to the documents found at Mar-a-Lago.
So, Ryan, let me start with you.
According to "The New York Times," and I quote several advisers, several advisers who know the president, said Trump told them about the documents, quote, it's not theirs. It's mine, talking about the national archives. Does he have any claim to intelligence that he would have received that it becomes his?
RYAN GOODMAN, CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF, JUST SECURITY: He has zero claim to that intelligence. It's not his. It's the U.S. government's. That's what the Department of Justice and the National Archives said to him. You know, you need to return all of this.
So, the idea that he would say it's not theirs, it's mine, is very incriminating because it suggests that's the mindset. And that's actually the criminal mindset. That's what the Espionage Act actually targets. It says if you are required, or you get a demand to return the documents, you have to return them.
So, the fact he's saying this is the reason I'm not is no excuse in the law. Let's put it that way.
BURNETT: So, Bill, as I said, you broke the news that an informer tipped off the FBI that there were documents at Mar-a-Lago even after the president's team said that they had returned all the documents. Are you learning anything more about who that source was, the human source, as you've reported?
WILLIAM ARKIN, SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, NEWSWEEK: Well, we do know at this point, Erin, it is someone inside the Trump camp and it is somebody probably on Trump's legal team. So this human source or multiple human sources were developed in the course of the grand jury investigation and in the course of the FBI's investigation. It wasn't somebody, I don't think, who necessarily has been regularly informing upon Trump. I think it's somebody who was developed in the course of the investigation.
BURNETT: Which obviously is very significant.
Now, Dana, they're saying it could possibly be someone on the legal team. We don't know who that is. But, obviously, that's significant. The legal team is the one signing the letter saying we've returned everything you've asked for which, of course, was false.
We know Cipollone and Philbin have been interviewed. OK, now, they were obviously Trump's White House lawyers, not his lawyers now. How crucial are they?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a really big deal. The fact that the investigators wanted to speak to them, these are two of the people, as Evan was saying, who have the power to -- actually they were tasked specifically with coordinating with the National Archives, to make sure that things that should have to the archives, part of presidential records, actually made it there.
BASH: And so, the fact this happened, we believe, back in April and now it's August, that was during the time that there was an active back and forth between DOJ and between investigators, and the archives really, and the Trump team. That was before the June meeting we reported on when they actually went to Mar-a-Lago and Trump showed up there.
So, we don't -- again, it's really important for us to underscore, we don't know what was said. But we do know all the way back in April, in the spring, it was already a big enough deal for them to ask questions of the top two legal officials inside the Trump White House.
BURNETT: So, Ryan, when you look at what you know right now, what Dana is talking about, this timeline, what was returned and what wasn't, the fact that there were multiple people who knew that things were not returned even though they said they did, OK? Does DOJ have a criminal case against Trump?
GOODMAN: I think they absolutely do. In fact, based on the publicly available information, I think they have a sufficient enough case to even indict him based on the publicly available information. If there's other information out there to contradict it, maybe so. But right now, everything points to the very specific criminal statutes they cited in the arrest warrant match the public facts that we know about in terms of what Donald Trump decided do with these documents and the ways in which he kept them from the government.
BURNETT: So, Bill, let me ask you, from your understanding, and you're talking about someone in Trump's inner circle who's talking about this, maybe multiple people, and probably someone on the legal team, obviously, does that in your mind leave open that it could be someone who was on Trump's legal team in the past or sort of narrows it down to the people who are currently on the legal team who are out there actually on the airwaves on other networks or conservative outlets making allegations about the FBI planting documents or whatever.
Could it be one of those people literally that was the source?
ARKIN: So, when you say Trump's inner circle, that's a gigantic group of people.
ARKIN: And so, the Trump team and the Trump camp, you know, it doesn't necessarily include the top attorneys in the White House on the transition, at the time of the transition. It includes, you know, a number of people -- including people who really aren't Trump attorneys but claim to be.
I'm not so worried so much about the confidential human source. It seems that the Justice Department in their answer to the lawsuit brought by or request brought by news media organizations to release the affidavit, the Justice Department said very clearly that it was worried about divulging or identifying the witnesses, as they call them, not informants, the witnesses, because as part of the investigation, that would undermine the investigation.
It didn't say we're concerned about divulging or identifying confidential human sources involved in a larger probe, and I think, in fact, there is a larger probe going on. So while I agree with Ryan completely that Donald Trump could be indicted on very narrow questions of returning documents that were required under the Presidential Records Act and returning documents that were -- that fall under section 793d of the Espionage Act, I'm not sure I would say to you that that's actually the big game that the FBI and the Justice Department are going after.
ARKIN: I think the reason behind the raid in the first place was something more serious that they were pursuing.
BURNETT: Right. And, of course, we don't know that yet. We do know, Dana, when they filed to prevent -- the DOJ doesn't want us to see the underlying argument they presented to a judge because this could harm other investigations. There was an indication that there was other things. They didn't go farther than that.
Evan was talking about the passport news, that they took the passports. Then they returned them. Trump saying they were stolen. Putting that brouhaha aside, you've been talking to your sources, how significant is the passport news? I mean, just the fact that they took them in the first place when obviously they shouldn't have?
BASH: Well, there's reality and there's the reality that Trump has been trying to create since he's the one that broke the news that the FBI went into his house in the first place. And the reality is exactly as Evan reported, it was -- they were taken mistakenly. There were people there called filter teams who probably should have figured out that these passports were in one of the boxes they were supposed to take. They didn't then, but they did as soon as they got it back to the field office and sent it back right away.
But what it did was give the former president an opening when he makes the charge that, oh, look what the FBI did, this is an opening -- he looks for any opening that he possibly can, and he exploited it. It is unfortunate when it comes to the narrative, but not so much when it comes to the real legal case.
BURNETT: To the real substance of all of it.
All right, thank you all very much, all three of you.
And next, the paranoia among some of Trump's far right supporters escalating to new heights after Mar-a-Lago was searched. Now baseless talk of assassination attempts and Nazis. Our Drew Griffin investigates.
Plus, it is election night and voters this hour are deciding Congressman Liz Cheney's future. We're on the ground and at the wall.
And, a water crisis in America. Tens of millions of Americans told tonight they have to cut their water usage because of the drought- ravaged Colorado River.
BURNETT: Tonight, Trump and his allies fanning the flames and pushing conspiracy theories as they try to get ahead of whatever the Justice Department may now have.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: Why are they rifling through his desk? Why? Because they want to indict him. They understand he's the leader of the most powerful political movement in modern American history. I actually think in all of American history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT.
And, Drew, you've done so much reporting on the paranoia, the fear being stoked by Trump allies like Steve Bannon. What are you seeing right now?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: You know, to try to understand the madness of it, you have to approach it, Erin, from their perspective, which is a war between good and evil.
The entire premise of the far right media is this lie that Joe Biden is illegitimate president, illegally elected and that Biden is surrounded by this army of Washington insiders called the deep state that is doing everything they can to stop Trump from running again.
Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, he runs with this expanding false conspiracy daily on his podcast. It grows and grows with every news event. So, when FBI agents serve a warrant on Trump's resort, the rhetoric explodes accusing the Justice Department and FBI agents of acting like, what else? Nazis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANNON: This whole raid, this jack booted Gestapo-like raid by the FBI was about ransacking and desecrating Mar-a-Lago. They knew what this meant to the nation. They knew what it meant to the American people, they knew what it meant to MAGA. They did it on purpose.
They were planning -- they're there to plant stuff. That's what this is about. That's why they keep the lawyers outside.
We're not going to be silent. We're not going to comply. We're not going to back down.
You're total scum bags. You're lawless. You've turned this thing into a political weapon. It's a disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP) GRIFFIN: Bannon has told his viewers that Trump could be assassinated by the deep state to stop Trump from running again. This is what his audience is fed day in and day out.
No proof. It's not news. But we know from talking to his own listeners they believe it, Erin.
BURNETT: So incredibly dangerous, Drew. We know it's extreme. Bannon's listeners may believe all of it, right? They may believe it. When I use the word dangerous, that is the question.
How far does this go in terms of its impact?
GRIFFIN: That's why, unfortunately, we report on Steve Bannon specifically because he's a big part of this modern day Trump era Republican Party.
David Chalian, you know, our David Chalian calls him the intellectual and cultural navigator for the party, setting the agenda even more than Donald Trump. That's why we have so many of these fringe congresspeople, they show up on Bannon's show.
BURNETT: Right, and it's amazing, as you point out. You know, remember back in the day when people talked about him as a puppeteer, right, that infamously agenda you're talking about is long term.
GRIFFIN: Yeah, extremely long term. Right now, focused on the midterms. But the big agenda here for this version of the Republican Party, they want to take over all of it, from school boards to congressional seats, then take over Congress this fall. Trump back in the White House in 2024.
And, Erin, to take over the government which they mean to get rid of the bureaucrats, the deep state, get rid of the FBI, the Department of Justice, all of it, transform the United States. This is what they talk about. This is the MAGA version of the country for them.
BURNETT: Drew Griffin, thank you very much.
And next, Congresswoman Liz Cheney fighting to keep her job as voters in Wyoming are voting, as I speak. Our John King is at the magic wall. We'll show you what he's looking for tonight.
Plus, what President Obama has just called a, quote, BFD.
BURNETT: And tonight, polls are closing in less than two hours in Wyoming. That is where Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney is fighting to hold on to her seat, facing an incredibly tough race against Trump's pick Harriet Hageman.
But making clear, Cheney is, that win or lose, that her battle with the former president is only getting started. She writes on Twitter tonight, quote: The challenges we are facing require serious leaders who will abide by their oath and uphold the Constitution -- no matter what.
Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT live in Jackson, Wyoming, to begin our coverage this hour.
So, Jeff, what are you learning about Cheney's plans to respond to the results tonight, as the polls are still open as we're talking in Wyoming?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: They are, 90 more minutes or so left, the voting here in Wyoming. So, certainly, the Cheney campaign is focusing on that. But the reality is, the congresswoman herself has largely turned the page and looking forward. I'm told her speech this morning, win or lose, there's one speech, that she'll talk about this is the beginning of the battle.
Of course, the battle, the next battle is one against the former president that she's been waging for quite some time. Of course, if she falls short here, it will be a sign of defeat in Wyoming. But she believes there's a wider audience for what the January 6th Commission has learned, has told the country. She believes this is still a battle in progress. She's going to try and talk about the fight lives on and move quickly from Wyoming.
But, Erin, when you look at the full arc of Liz Cheney's congressional career, she's served three terms. She's running for a fourth term. If that ends this evening, it is really an astonishing level of defeat in the sense that the Cheney family name here is so storied. Her father, of course, served in the House for a decade.
She was elected the very same night as Donald Trump in 2016. Of course, he is not on the ballot, but he's hanging over this race in every single way.
So look for her to directly address him this evening and not talk much about her rival. But she's trying to essentially move on from the results of tonight. Of course, if there is a surprise victory, I'm sure she'll embrace that. No one in Cheney world I've spoken to today is expecting that, Erin.
BURNETT: Right. Certainly, it would be a surprise if it happened.
Jeff, thank you. And I want to go to John King at the magic wall.
So, John, what are you watching in Wyoming tonight here as we've got 90 minutes until the polls close?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, you see the maps filling in. Only a handful of states have primaries left tonight.
Let's go to Wyoming. This is as you noted Cheney versus Hageman. But this is Cheney versus Trump. So, what are you looking for, Can Liz Cheney and the Cheney brand over come Donald Trump?
To Jeff's point, I just want to quickly bring this up, Liz Cheney came in 2016, she won 40 percent of the primary back then. Then, 68 percent in 2018, 73 percent in her primary two years ago. So, quite popular among Wyoming Republicans.
So, what happened? Well, this happened. She stood up to Donald Trump, Erin, and Donald Trump has a great brand in our least populous state. Look at that, 70 percent of the vote against Joe Biden. So, what are you looking for?
You see two blue counties, the only two carried by Joe Biden. They happen to be two of the three most highly educated counties, more people with college degrees. Those are the people that tend not to like Donald Trump.
Did enough Democrats, did enough independents change parties, come out to the Republican primary today? That's what Liz Cheney is hoping for. We're looking at all the red. The odds here are overwhelming.
BURNETT: So, Cheney is the last of the so-called Impeachment Ten, John, right? These are the Republicans, the ten of them, who voted to impeach Trump and face add primary battle. They voted to impeach Trump specifically for the insurrection on January 6th.
So, how has that pivotal vote, those ten to vote for impeachment impacted them?
KING: Well, let's just show you the score card and you can make your own judgment. I guess it depends on your perspective. If you are Donald Trump, you're hoping to end the night, he likes to say, 8-2 by the end of the night.
Four of those 10 decided not to run for re-election and the fact that they would face Trump-backed primary challengers, Erin, was one of the big reasons why. They did not want to go through the bloodshed, if you will. Three of them lost their primaries. Two have advanced to the general election, and Liz Cheney is the last one.
So, if she loses the primary tonight, eight of the ten will have been defeated or decided not to run for re-election so they didn't run into the Trump headwind, if you will. Trump will view this as impressive. If you're a mainstream Republican or somebody looking for Donald Trump to move on, you view that as troubling.
BURNETT: All right. So, now, that's obviously, you're talking about these House races. We'll see how that goes tonight.
But on the Senate side, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski's primary race, I know, is one you're watching. She's also facing a Trump-backed challenger. She voted to convict Trump in the second impeachment trial as well.
So, what are you looking for in the Murkowski race?
KING: Number one, from a literal sense, I don't think we're going to see much tonight. The polls don't close until midnight. They're trying ranked-choice voting. So, it's going to take days to count the second choice, the third choice, the fourth choice is out there.
But the main thing we will see tonight, there are 19 candidates on the ballot. These are the leading candidates. One Democratic and two Democrats.
Kelly Tshibaka is the Trump backed Republican challenger. So, the big question, we might learn over the next days, does Lisa Murkowski place first over the 19 candidates? Is she second or third? Is there anything she tells us, do we learn anything?
The voting is today. In the next few days as we count them about relative strength or weakness. Remember, Lisa Murkowski was beaten by a tea party challenger years ago, and then she won as a write-in candidate. She's tough. She knows her state. So, this one is different than Wyoming.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, John King.
All right. So, now, 90 minutes left in the polls in Wyoming, let's go OUTFRONT now to our senior political analyst Nia-Malika Henderson, the host of "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?", of course, Chris Wallace, and CNN political director David Chalian.
So, obviously, a significant night when you talk about it and the importance for the country, Chris. What are you looking at in Liz Cheney's race?
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST, "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?": Well, I'm not looking for her to win. As John pointed out, not only did Trump get 70 percent of the vote versus Joe Biden in 2020. It was his best state. That's where he got his biggest majority of all.
I just don't see a situation under which -- I mean, miracles do happen. But it would literally be a political miracle for her to win.
So, the question becomes how is she going to cast her defeat? And what will be interesting to hear, it's clearly going to be a call to arms against Donald Trump. But what is she going to say about her role in that army, trying to oppose Donald Trump in 2023 and '4? How much is she going to lean into the possibility of running herself?
I think that's the big question, how does she cast the effort against Trump and how does she cast her role in it?
BURNETT: So, Nia, Liz Cheney has never blanched at calling out Trump to account, never, right? And in this, she has been on a lonely island many, many times. Just listen to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Millions of people around the country have been betrayed and misled and deceived by Donald Trump.
President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. We're confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before.
We have to choose because Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, Nia, she's very black and white about it. You cannot be both of those things at once. I mean, and tonight, that is the choice, right? It is Trump or Cheney.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Listen, she must have known what this would mean for her political future, to stand up against Donald Trump, to never waiver, to call him to account and really be the face of the January 6th Committee in so many ways.
BURNETT: She is.
HENDERSON: She's used that committee to try to reach out to Republicans to say, listen, you've been used and abused by Donald Trump. He's been abusing your patriotism. We'll see how many listen to her tonight and beyond tonight, what kind of future she has. Does she have people who will come behind her at a more national level? I think that's the question that you talk about.
So far, Donald Trump has won this battle to run these people out of the party who have gone against him and we'll see if she is able to really kind of gather some strength around the sort of anti-Trumpism, a wing of the Republican Party which is still only about 30 percent --
WALLACE: There is money, though.
HENDERSON: It's not in her home state, sort of national.
WALLACE: But, I mean, if she were to mount a national campaign, there are a lot of anti-Trump people around the country who would support that.
BURNETT: Oh, they would love that.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The question is, the market share inside the Republican nominating electorate for this message. I mean, I don't know why Liz Cheney would think there's a clearer path to the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 with the Republican primary electorate than winning renomination here in this Wyoming Republican electorate. I get how conservative Wyoming is.
It seems to me as a near impossible task. To your question, Chris, what is it? What role does she want to play if it's not seriously challenging him for the nomination?
It is -- I think she's been quite clear all along, to do everything in her power to keep him from returning the Oval Office. If that means being a spoiler, if that means helping to channel that money into some super PAC, this is the taking the --
BURNETT: When she loses the platform of the January 6th committee, that's going to be a loss.
HENDERSON: She'll likely, I imagine, probably get a big book deal. Maybe she'll be on a cable news channel speaking about issues that the country faces. But, listen, she has been a fascinating political figure, one of the most fascinating over the last 10 or 20 years, certainly in the Trump era, she has used her time wisely in Congress.
WALLACE: One thing I don't think she would do is run an independent candidacy. If her goal is to stop Donald Trump from being reelected -- or becoming president in 2024, you run an independent race, you end up splitting the anti-Trump vote. She takes it away from Biden or whoever the Democrat is.
BURNETT: Right, obviously, that wouldn't fit her goal.
I will say one thing, though, David, when you look at what's about to happen here, this isn't a seat that then, you know, because a Trump or a MAGA person wins the primary becomes a toss-up.
BURNETT: It's a seat that's going to then go to that Republican candidate.
BURNETT: And Harriet Hageman has embraced almost word for word what Trump has said. I mean, there is not light. I'll just play a couple of these kind of echoes because I think they're pretty powerful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: There is no RINO in America who has thrown in her lot with the radical left more than Liz Cheney.
HARRIET HAGEMAN (R), WYOMING CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: She's aligned herself with the radical Democrats just for the sole purpose of destroying our former president.
TRUMP: The election was rigged.
HAGEMAN: Absolutely the election was rigged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHALIAN: And she's moved on this rhetoric. In 2016, she was a big supporter of Liz Cheney for this very position and she was not the biggest Donald Trump fan.
So, Harriet Hageman sort of moved with her party in this way.
BURNETT: And now, unless there is a miracle, that is who will be heading for Wyoming to Capitol Hill. CHALIAN: Right.
BURNETT: All right. All of you, please stay with me because next, President Biden, in the space of all this, taking a victory lap, signing the massive climate and health care bill into law. Is this something that should have Republicans worried heading into the midterms that they were so confident about?
Plus, rationing water. Tens of millions of Americans told to cut their water use as a historic drought is pushing of America's largest reservoirs to record lows.
BURNETT: The other big political news tonight, President Biden signing a sweeping three quarter of a trillion spending bill on health and climate, what President Obama is calling a, quote, BFD, which is a nod to the hot mic moment of the Affordable Care Act.
So, the bill that Biden signed earlier will extend Obamacare subsidies for another three years. It will allow Medicare to negotiate some prescription drug prices for the first time. It will cut greenhouse emissions and institute a 15 percent minimum corporate tax.
This is a big political moment for Biden and he is seizing the moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today offers further proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright and the promise of America is real and just beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Trying to seize that moment in what is just one of the string of legislative wins. Of course, there was the so-called CHIPS, the semiconductor bill that passed. All this is ahead of the midterms.
So, the panel is back with me.
So, Nia, before Biden got this bill through, this is the modified Build Back Better that they call the inflation reduction act, though economists beg to differ on that, certainly in the short term. But a CNN poll before this showed that 75 percent of Democratic voters wanted someone else to be their nominee in 2024, 75 percent, that's terrible --
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BURNETT: -- if you're the potential nominee.
Does this bill impact his promise in his own party?
HENDERSON: You know, I think it does. Two separate issues. One being 2022, one being 2024. The through line being how Democrats feel about him.
One of the reasons his approval ratings are below where Trump's were back in the day, below where Obama's were back in the day is because Democrats don't support him at the same rate. I think 70, 80 percent or so. So, I think this will help bring Democrats home. Democrats are like what's the point of the Biden presidency if they can't actually get anything done.
So, they did deliver on key issues that Democrats care about, around climate change, young voters particularly care about that. Health care, veterans, and the gun safety bill.
So, these are real deliverables. They won't necessarily be felt immediately by Americans, but I think Democrats who are so down in the dumps a month ago in terms of prospects in 2022 and down on Biden generally, they see now a president and a party that's able to get something done.
BURNETT: So, Chris, the Republicans counted this as a sure thing. How many times do you hear threats coming from the likes of Jim Jordan about when they're in charge of committees what they're going to do. Does any of this change the midterms? Republicans thinking they had a sure thing?
WALLACE: I think it helps on the margins. Do I think it helps a lot? No, but I don't think real people sit there and go, well, you know, Joe Biden signed four bills and that's very good.
BURNETT: Here's my checklist.
WALLACE: No. It's how they experience their lives.
And, first of all, on the prescription drug pricing, Medicare being able to negotiate prices, that doesn't kick in until 2026. It doesn't kick in, not only not before this election, it doesn't kick in before the next election.
And then it's only for 10 drugs. And the $2,000 cap doesn't kick in until 2025.
So, you know, what are you going to experience between now and November? You're not going to experience lower drug prices. You are going to continue to experience high gas prices, lower than they were a month ago.
I'm very excited about the other day, $3.89, I'm sitting there going, "I am saving money". But I mean, it's still terrible. Groceries are up.
WALLACE: So, do I think it's going to have a dramatic impact? I'll tell you what may have a more dramatic impact -- Trump, the fact that he's back, he's the headline and to the degree the Democrats are talking about Trump and focusing on Trump, not Biden, I think it's good for the Democrats.
Conversely, I think when Republicans are able to focus on Biden and not Trump, it's good for the Republicans.
So, the news cycle right now is very much pro Democrat.
BURNETT: So, David, what about this? Trump right now is looking at this and all his legal issues, and it seems to be just a matter of when. Not if, but when, right?
CHALIAN: Those are his very words.
BURNETT: Right? So, how does that impact this, if he jumps in before the November elections?
CHALIAN: Well, the people that agree with Chris' analysis just now are the people running the Republican campaign, because they think if Trump is front and center and he does announce pre-midterm Election Day, that that is not good for them. That that takes the attention and focus off of the economy, inflation, Biden, which they think works for them the best, right?
BURNETT: Right. So, then it becomes a referendum on Trump.
CHALIAN: Exactly. And so, Trump will suck up all the oxygen, all the attention. Now, let's be clear, that will also motivate the Trump base which could help -- but it will undoubtedly motivate the left as well.
BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Thanks very much to all on this election night.
And next, the shocking number of just how much it would have cost the United States in aid had it not pulled out of Afghanistan a year ago.
Plus, a water emergency. The federal government forcing several states to slash the amount of water they're using as fears grow that tens of millions of Americans could soon be without it.
BURNETT: Tonight, Afghanistan in crisis. One year after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the U.N. says nearly half of that country's population is starving.
House Republicans marking the anniversary with a scathing report, assessing the Biden administration's handling of the evacuation. In a copy of the report obtained by CNN, the GOP accuses the administration of failing to properly plan and then misleading the public about what happened on the ground. It is an assessment, of course, that the White House disputes.
Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One year ago, this was the deadly and chaotic culmination of efforts by the past two U.S. presidents to withdraw from Afghanistan. The Taliban had overrun the country. The Afghan military and government had collapsed, sapped of American support.
The Trump administration had struck a deal with the Taliban to have U.S. troops leave in mid-2021, an agreement President Joe Biden argued forced his timing.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we were left with a simple decision. Either follow through on the commitment made by the last administration and leave Afghanistan or say we weren't leaving and commit another tens of thousands more troops going back to war.
MARQUARDT: Like Trump, Biden wanted out. Staying, he said, would lead to a forever war, which had already cost almost 2,500 American lives. And he argued ending it would also end the extraordinary cost that had risen to $2 trillion.
If there had been no pullout or significant drawdown, another year of the same like the prior five years would have cost the U.S. around $38 billion in military and reconstruction costs. Republicans like Congressman Mike McCaul of Texas blasted how the withdrawal was handled, calling it a stain on Biden's presidency.
REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R-TX): The evacuation was so poorly handled that we just left so many behind, whether it be American citizens or Afghan partners.
MARQUARDT: Thousands of those Afghans remain, often hunted, McCaul says, by the Taliban. More than 74,000 Afghan special immigrant visa applicants are in the pipeline. The Biden administration so far has issued over 15,000 visas.
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): It's a broken program. It's continued to be broken. The Biden administration made a recent announcement to help with that, to help speed up the process.
MARQUARDT: Many are Afghan women trying to get out as their rights are torn away by the Taliban, an issue that Senator Jeanne Shaheen has fought for for years.
SHAHEEN: We've seen the rights of women be dramatically restricted, their ability to work, to go to school.
MARQUARDT: Without the American military there, Shaheen says, the U.S. is hamstrung in its ability to do more.
And the agreement the U.S. struck with the Taliban to not harbor terrorists, she says, is effectively dead after the leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was found to be living in downtown Kabul. The U.S. drone strike that killed him, the Biden administration says, is proof that so-called over the horizon missions from outside Afghanistan can work. But the U.S. intelligence community is severely hampered by not having
American eyes and ears on the ground, according to the CIA's top former analyst on Afghanistan, Beth Sanner.
BETH SANNER, FORMER DEPUTY DNI: We have a growing terrorist threat in Afghanistan. I will say I think we need to keep this in perspective. It's nothing like what it was before 2001. Al Qaeda is still a shadow of itself. We still have that ability to take them out.
MARQUARDT (on camera): And a year on from the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, that country is spiraling, facing crises on multiple fronts, Erin -- an economic crisis, a humanitarian crisis, a medical crisis. All of that further fueling the debate about the 20 years of war in Afghanistan and its dramatic ending, a debate that will surely continue long after this first anniversary of the NATO withdrawal -- Erin.
BURNETT: Alex, thank you very much.
And next, unprecedented cuts to water usage in the Southwest as a crucial water source is dropping to alarming new lows.
BURNETT: Tonight, the water crisis in America. The federal government mandating cuts to water use in several states. This to preserve the supply of the Colorado River, which provides drinking water for 40 million people. Water levels are so low that experts worry that there won't be enough to produce the hydroelectricity for the tens of millions of people who rely on it.
Arizona is facing cuts of roughly 21 percent of its annual allowance from the river. Nevada is actually paying people to rip up their grass lawns because of the landscaping so that that could save more water. But, you know, some of this may be, unintended, a drop in the bucket. This image show just how dire the situation is. Lake Mead shrinking dramatically. There has not been enough rain or snow to replenish the supply.
And the impact of the drought can't be overstated. The water supplies millions of people. They depend on it to grow food, to drink, to shower, and it is now running dry.
Thanks for joining us. Don't forget you can watch OUTFRONT anytime on CNN Go.
"AC360" with Anderson begins now.