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California Braces for Blackouts Today Amid Brutal Heat Wave; American Frances Tiafoe Shocks Rafael Nadal At US Open; Students Return to School in Uvalde, Texas, Months after Shooting; Some Parents Concerned New Security Measures Not Complete at Uvalde Schools; New Video Shows GOP Member Escorting Team of Pro Trump Operatives into Coffee County, Georgia, Elections Office; Judge Appoints Special Master to Review Documents Seized by FBI from Former President Trump's Residence in Mar-a-Lago. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 06, 2022 - 08:00   ET



JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And what about the 41 percent of Americans who say they're independent voters. Well, even if you add in the one-third of independents who lean Republican, you're still talking about a decidedly minority opinion.

But whichever way you look at it, support for these positions is small, because even fewer folks say they would support election deniers or approve of the Capitol riot or think that political violence can somehow be justified. Which leads you to the data driven conclusion that this is not remotely half the country we're talking about. It's more like 10 percent of the country that hold these kind of extremist positions. That's still a lot, but they are decidedly outliers, far from the American mainstream.

And as for that inverse perception of the Democratic Party being dominated by socialists, well, for what it is worth, the Democratic Socialists of America, the group which boasts Bernie Sanders and AOC, claims only 92,000 members, which translates to roughly 0.03 percent of America.

It's all a reminder that while extremes are often loud, they're not large, and while they try to intimidate us, they can't let fear hijack the American experiment. That's also why Democrats, particularly the president, need to be more focused on persuasion rather than just condemnation. Naming the problem we face is important, but it's not sufficient. While you can't reason people out of something they weren't reasoned into, you can appeal to shared values, and you can honor those Republicans who have protected the peaceful transfer of power.

But the big picture is what we really need to keep in mind. Defending democracy is a top concern for Americans across party lines, and we need to channel that in a constructive way without falling into false equivalency. And we can do that by staying true to the facts and applying principles without regard to partisanship while also appealing to a set -- a spirit of patriotic grace. And that's your Reality Check. NEW DAY continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: An emotional back to school day in Uvalde, Texas. Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. And the return to class has been a source of so much anxiety for the people of Uvalde ever since an 18-year-old killer gunned down 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. Now, no students or staff will be returning to Robb this morning. They're going to be absorbed into other schools.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Beefed up security measures are in place at several Uvalde schools, including law enforcement officers, cameras, and fences. Comfort dogs and counselors are on hand as well, but parents still have safety concerns. Last hour on NEW DAY, we spoke to Anson Bills. He has three sons who attend Uvalde schools. He's keeping two of them in virtual learning because he claims the new security measures are not all in place yet.


ANSON BILLS, FATHER OF THREE STUDENTS AND UVALDE SCHOOLS: I went to the meet the teacher at Morales, and I was not impressed with the security measures that were going on there. And I discussed that with my wife. We needed to act fast, we needed to get this under control. And instead they delayed it.


KEILAR: Joining us now is CNN crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz, who is live in Uvalde and has been covering this story since the shooting. Shimon, tell us, what is the mood like on the ground? How are the students and parents feeling?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: There has been a lot of anxiety, anxiety certainly, Brianna, leading up to this day, as we heard from that parent in the last hour saying that he certainly had anxiety about bringing his kids to school. And one of those schools that he talked about is where we are at now, Flores Elementary School here, because you're not seeing that security fencing that the school board told us they would be putting up at some of the schools.

This school does not have that security fencing. And so that has certainly troubled some of the parents. The kids who are at Robb Elementary, the victims of that horrible day who survived that shooting, some of them are actually going to be coming to this school. We've already have seen parents arriving here, driving to the curb here. And they have been greeted by school staff, and then they're walked inside the school. We're waiting for some more of those parents to show up. But we have been seeing that this morning, some of the students arriving, certainly staff members arriving.

But this is one of those schools that does not have any of those enhanced security measures, that fencing, cameras. The city, the town here is still waiting for a lot of equipment to arrive. Even though school was delayed here, they still don't have a lot of the security measures in place. But you are seeing the Department of Public Safety, the state troopers here, they are behind me. That is an additional piece of security that the city has told parents they would have.


KEILAR: So what -- in the places that are seeing more enhanced security changes and security measures, what will parents expect there?

PROKUPECZ: So, fencing, there are these -- what are supposed to be non-scalable fences that are about eight foot high or so, all around the perimeter of the school buildings. But even those fences are not fully installed yet. There are gaps in those fences where you can easily access the school if you wanted to. So it's not fully up and running. But the problem is that the city here, they didn't have that much time to put all of this together. So they're still waiting for equipment, stuff that was back ordered, stuff that they have not received yet, so they're waiting for.

But at this school, you're not seeing any of that. You can see behind me now a student is entering the school here, I think you can see him. What parents have been doing is driving their kids here, to the sidewalk here, the curb, and then they have been walking into school. So we don't see that fencing there. The only additional security that we're seeing here are the state troopers, Brianna, that are here. And here we see another parent now starting to arrive as well.

KEILAR: Yes, such a tough day there in Uvalde, going to be a tough year after what happened in May. Thank you so much, Shimon, we appreciate it.

BERMAN: Newly obtained video to CNN shows a former Georgia Republican county official escorting two operatives hired by an attorney for former President Trump into the county's election offices on the same day a voting system there was illegally breached. Drew Griffin has the details. Drew?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Breaches are these voting machines, guys, in swing states are under investigation across the country. This one happened in Coffee County, Georgia, rural county. CNN obtained surveillance video at one of the offices where the voting machines were breached, and all this at behest of one of Donald Trump's attorneys.

I want to show you right now. This is Cathy Latham we're showing you. She's the former chairman of the Coffee County GOP. Already under investigation, this woman is, for posing as one of those fake electors who signed documents that declared Donald Trump was the winner of the 2020 election. Latham can be seen escorting a team of pro Trump operatives into the Coffee County elections office, including an I.T. specialist who was working with Trump attorney Sidney Powell. This all happens on the same day the voting system in that office was illegally breached.

January 7th, 2021, the day after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, text messages, emails, and witness testimony from a civil lawsuit against Georgia election officials have connected Latham, that woman, to the plan to give the group access to the elections office. About a week before this voting machine breach, that same woman, Latham, testified before the Georgia state legislature along with Rudy Giuliani, talking all about voter machine irregularities in Coffee County. Latham's attorney told CNN in a statement that "Ms. Latham has not acted improperly or illegally," and, "Miss Latham did not authorize or participate in ballot scanning efforts, computer imaging, or any similar activity." The I.T. specialist firm says it had no reason to believe he was doing anything wrong either.

One important note, Coffee County, where this happened, is a Republican stronghold. Donald Trump won this county with 70 percent of the vote. But you can see from that video there that the Trump connected team wanted to and was able to get access to that election office.

KEILAR: And as you said, Drew, this isn't the only place this kind of thing is happening.

GRIFFIN: No. There were -- this was happening, breaches of voting machines, in several other states. And at least one of the breaches, Brianna, in Michigan, we can connect to what happened in Georgia. It all points to this plan to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election. But look at all the things they've done, all the digging they've done, all the voting machines they have tried to penetrate. None of it has shown any of this evidence that they think exists out there, that this was somewhat of an illegitimate election. Joe Biden won this election, and they just could not accept that.

BERMAN: So, Drew, what's going on with the investigation into all of this?

GRIFFIN: Well, there are various state investigations. The Michigan secretary of state told me last week that she handed over her state's evidence to the Department of Justice. They have not heard back. It's an incredible intricate story. You know, Zach Cohen and Jason Morris, who are crack investigative reporters in Washington, D.C., have just posted a big story online with a lot more details on this incredible stuff. If you want to follow along or, guys, read about it in the history books in, like, 10 years from now.


BERMAN: Yes, follow along now. You'll be well prepared for when you read it in the history books. Drew Griffin, terrific reporting. Thank you so much.

Joining me now, CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent of "The New York Times" Maggie Haberman and CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers. There is a lot in there, in Drew's report. But first of all, we're talking about January 7th, we're talking about the day after the insurrection. This is still going on even after everything that happened on January 6th.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It fits with other pieces that we know, John, which is that John Eastman, the lawyer, who was the architect of this idea that Mike Pence could unilaterally reject the Electoral College votes on January 6th, continued pressing in Georgia actually. He wanted to continue investigating in Georgia. So it's not surprising that there are other people who shared his views, who were continuing.

But the detail of this is really what is stunning. And I have to say, this is one of the first times that I think there has been a clear roadmap presented in one of these stories about machines being either a breach or something tampered with potentially, where you can connect the dots between players across the spectrum in this entire issue, and it is a fascinating report.

BERMAN: It is. And I have to say, more to come, I am sure.

So Jen, I want to focus on the ruling from judge Aileen Cannon in Florida, the district judge, saying that there will be a special master dealing with the documents that were seized at Mar-a-Lago, and there will be a pause in investigators' ability to look at these and use these documents in the investigation. I think two major questions, and hopefully we'll cover both. Number one, the ruling itself, what do you think of it? And then secondly, and we'll get into this, what happens now? First, the ruling, which I'll give you do.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's a mess. It really is a mess. The judge had to find to establish jurisdiction and then to appoint the special master and enjoin the Justice Department from using the documents, a whole bunch of criteria that are delineated in statutes and cases, right? And for each of those she either ignores them altogether or provides really unpersuasive evidence of these elements.

So just to give one example, executive privilege. In order to say the special master can review executive privilege, she has to show -- or actually Donald Trump as a movement has to show and she has to find irreparable harm and a likelihood of success on the merits. She cannot do that. She doesn't even do the legal analysis with respect to executive privilege. All that she says is it's not 100 percent precluded by the Supreme Court that he doesn't have an executive privilege here.

But there is a lot of space in between not 100 percent and likelihood of success on the merits, which is 51 percent, right? So time and time again, Judge Cannon really just doesn't do any persuasive legal analysis here.

BERMAN: One of the things, Maggie, that you point out, Merrick Garland has always said that the DOJ is going to pursue its investigations without fear or favor. This judge, in her ruling, almost seemed to say in this case, there is some favor, that Donald Trump as the former president might be in a little bit of a different category.

HABERMAN: This judge who Trump appointed carved out what is essentially a Trump exception, or a presidential exception, I guess I should say. She basically talks on and on about how -- not basically, she does talk on and on about how the stain of an investigation can leave an irreparable mark on how damaging that can be. She ignores the fact that the search warrant that existed, another

magistrate signed off on, approved of, because he found overwhelming evidence of probable cause, that there were potential crimes being committed. And this was after a year-and-a-half of the federal government trying to get back documents that belonged to the government, not to Donald Trump. You wouldn't know any of that, really, from looking at this ruling. And so it is striking how this judge has created this exception, suggesting that Trump should be given more deference than really any other person who is facing an investigation gets in this country.

BERMAN: So, what now, Jen? If you were there, if you were one of these prosecutors, would you appeal knowing that the appeal might delay even more?

RODGERS: Yes, so this is a tough question, because they really have to think about two things. They have to think about what damage is going to happen to their investigation as a result of the injunction that is being issued. And on that score, I think they might appeal, because the judge didn't just say put the documents aside. She says you can't use them. We don't know what that means. They have reviewed all of these documents. So they have found leads for witness interviews. They may be issuing new subpoenas. What does this mean? Can they not issue subpoenas? If the subpoenas were issued, can they not look at the returns when they come in? We don't really know. The special master won't really know. So DOJ has to think about do they need to appeal in order to try to get this injunction overturned or at least clarified.

And then the other issue is, does this set a bad precedent for going forward? Will DOJ now have to grapple with all of these people subject to searches coming in and saying, well, I know I haven't been charged yet, but I want a special master, too, what about me? And on that front, I actually think the precedent isn't too problematic, because, as Maggie says, she makes such a big deal of the exceptional nature of this.


He's the former president. This is about executive privilege in large part. So, on those scores I think it doesn't really apply necessarily to other potential search warrant folks down the road.

So that's kind of the two competing issues.

BERMAN: Maggie, what are you watching going forward now?

HABERMAN: The appeal is obviously the main thing. How long does this take, John?

You know, let's say that the DOJ does go ahead with the appeal, how long does this stop their investigation even as that's playing out. Does this kick into next year, into 2023, which is very possible and I know one thing we didn't discuss is how do the two sides even agree on who is special master is going to be who has -- who has the security clearances for this. It's a wild decision. BERMAN: And the judge did say, you guys get together, figure out who

the special master is going to be and come back to me. Hard to imagine.

HABERMAN: They had so much agreement so far, I'm sure this will go swimmingly.

BERMAN: Maggie Haberman, Jennifer Rodgers, thanks so much for being here this morning.

So brace for blackouts. That warning from the officials in California as record heat puts a strain on the power grid.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: From sleeping at a tennis center, to ousting 22-time grand slam champ Rafael Nadal. More on Frances Tiafoe's incredible win at the U.S. open.

And this handover day in United Kingdom, Liz Truss formally taking over as prime minister after meeting with the queen.



KEILAR: Residents of California are preparing for possible rolling blackouts today as the latest heat wave breaks record-breaking temperatures as the latest heat wave breaks records of temperatures again, with some places hitting highs of 115 degrees and it's putting intense pressure on the power grid.

CNN's Natasha Chen is joining us live from Los Angeles.

I mean, people just need the electricity and there isn't enough with how hot it's going to be.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Brianna. Energy officials are saying that today we could see the highest demand on the state's energy grid in California history. And that just goes to show how intense this heat wave is, how prolonged it is. It is lasting longer than initially anticipated.

If you take a look at the heat alert map there, you can see how the entire state of California is essentially magenta as well as parts of Nevada and bits of Arizona. That's -- those are excessive heat warnings there. And if you take a look at the potential records being broken through Friday, more than 150 locations, including some of those dots along the coast, where these coastal cities typically avoid excessive heat like this, and some of the places have buildings that don't even have central air.

So this is really unexpected for many of these people struggling and, of course, because of that intense pressure on the grid, they're talking about potential rotating blackouts, asking California residents for the seventh day in a row to continue conserving energy between 4:00 and 9:00 p.m. to avoid actions like potentially having to do those rotating blackouts. Of course, really dangerous for anybody who is outside, we're already

hearing of an Arizona hiker who died along with five other hikers who had to be rescued after they ran out of water and lost their way on a trail outside of Scottsdale. Of course, explosive fire behavior with one popping up in riverside county yesterday afternoon, already killing two people. That fair view fire also burning more than 2,000 acres, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yeah, you put it in context, these coastal areas. I mean, you mentioned Oxnard, you think normally the Santa Barbara coast, coastal areas, and you're looking at triple digits in some of them. It is just what you're not used to seeing.

Natasha, we know you'll be tracking this. Stay as cool as you can. Thank you.

CHEN: Thanks.

BERMAN: All right. The best story of the day now -- a stunning victory at the U.S. Open as Frances Tiafoe put on a performance of a career, snapping Rafael Nadal's 22-match grand slam, well, Rafael Nadal has won 22 grand slams in his career and Tiafoe beat him. The 24-year-old from Maryland is the youngest American man to get this far in the U.S. open since Andy Roddick in 2006.

And here's the great part of the story. Tiafoe is a son of immigrants from Sierra Leone. He grew up sleeping on the floor next to his twin brother and father at the tennis center where the father worked as an on-site custodian. By the time he was 14, Tiafoe was the top-ranked kid in the nation in his age group, and now he just defeated one of the greatest players of all time.

This is how Tiafoe describes what that moment felt like.


FRANCES TIAFOE, AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: I felt like the world stopped. I couldn't hear anything for a minute. I was, like, oh, my God, like, even shaking his hand, I don't know what I said to him.

I was just, like, such a blur, and, like, I was already tearing, I could barely see him and my team. Everyone was up and it was just wild, like, my heart's going a thousand miles an hour, so excited. I was, like, let me sit down. But, yeah, it was -- I never felt something like that in my life, honestly.


BERMAN: Just pure joy when he won. He's now the last American, final American in the men's draw, three wins away from wing first major. He says, that's his goal. He said this feels great, but what he really wants is the title.

KEILAR: Totally. And, look, I believe in him. I believe he can get there. But just listening to him talk, isn't it amazing to see someone experiencing something like that for the first time. He's almost like floating. Like some other place.

BERMAN: That's -- when he won the final point there, just the joy, you're seeing -- just the joy that coarsed through coursed through his body, it feels so good. Sometimes they say losing feels worse than winning feels good. When he won yesterday, that match, you could tell the winning felt really, really good. He let it sink in.

KEILAR: Love to see it.

BERMAN: All right. There are nine weeks to go until the midterm elections. John King has what to watch.

KEILAR: And a body discovered minutes from where a Memphis jogger was abducted. We have some new details this morning.



KEILAR: The Democrats majority in Congress is razor thin, but unexpected special election victories in Alaska and New York and a big win for abortion rights in deep red Kansas have Democrats feeling a lot more confident.

To help us break down exactly what to watch for the upcoming midterm elections, let's bring in John King, CNN's chief national correspondent and, of course, the anchor of CNN's "INSIDE POLITICS."

All right. Have you ever, John, in all your time covering politics seen a midterm like this?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, actually, which is what makes this so fascinating. I've been doing this for almost 40 years, first presidential midterms normally predictable. The president's party loses seats. George W. Bush was the exception. In 2002, that was the election after 9/11, the country was still in crisis mode.

A month ago, you would have said the House is definitely gone, Republicans would probably eek out the Senate, but that was more of a battleground and watch out for Republican gains in the governor's races and state legislative races. Nine weeks from tonight we count votes.

The situation has changed so much since the Dobbs decision in June, on abortion rights, and the return of Donald Trump to the seen and declining gas prices, and slight uptick in the president's approval, a slight uptick in consumer confidence. There are so many conflicting data points right now that it is a -- who knows? Who knows?

There are some Democrats, a little skeptical about this, but there are some Democrats who think they can still even keep the House.