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CNN TONIGHT: Advisers: Cheney To Deliver Pointed Address Marking "The Beginning Of The Battle" To Confront Trump; NY Times: FBI Subpoenaed Mar-A-Lago Surveillance Footage Before Raid; First Results In Wyoming House Race As Cheney Fights To Keep Seat. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 16, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Appreciate it, thanks.

If you ever miss 360, you can always listen to our podcast. Go to, or any of the major platforms. Just search for "ANDERSON COOPER 360."

That's it for us. The news continues. Want to hand it over to Alisyn Camerota, CNN TONIGHT.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you very much.

I am Alisyn Camerota. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

9 o'clock, on the East Coast, 7 o'clock, in Wyoming, where, as of this moment, the polls are now closed, and Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney awaits her fate. Cheney, of course, has become the face of Republican resistance, to Donald Trump, and his efforts, to deny Joe Biden's presidential victory.

Donald Trump also awaits his fate, in a way, as investigations into his actions heat up. We have new developments on the search of his Mar-a-Lago home, and those boxes of classified documents.

But let's start with tonight's primary. Wyoming is the least populous state. But tonight, it's the most popular, for election-watchers. We will have results coming in throughout this hour. So, keep it, right here, and we will keep you updated.

Congresswoman Cheney is the last of the so-called Impeachment 10. Those are the 10 House Republicans, who voted to impeach President Trump, after the Insurrection. Seven of them have either lost their primaries, or chosen not to run for re-election. Two of them won, and then there's Cheney.

You may remember that Congresswoman Cheney was booted from her leadership post, in the Republican Conference, more than a year ago, after trying to warn the country, about the threat, she believes, Donald Trump poses to democracy.

Since then, she has continued to try to sound the alarm, and call out her colleagues.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): To my Republican colleagues, who are defending the indefensible, there will come a day, when Donald Trump is gone. But your dishonor will remain.


CAMEROTA: None of that has endeared her, to Republicans, in her home state. If Congresswoman Cheney manages to somehow pull off a win, tonight, against her Trump-backed challenger, Harriet Hageman, she will have defied long odds.

But win or lose, CNN has learned that Congresswoman Cheney intends to make a speech, tonight, saying that her battle has just begun. She started talking about that this morning.


CHENEY: Well, look, I think today, no matter what the outcome is, is certainly the beginning of a battle that is going to continue, is going to go on.

We're facing a moment where our democracy really is under attack and under threat.


CAMEROTA: So, advisers tell us that Cheney has been working on her speech, for several days, and is crafting a blunt warning, about the danger of misinformation and lies.

Her aides say she will outline a plan to, quote, "Stay in the fight," against Donald Trump, and intends to wear the outcome of this primary, win or lose, as a quote, "Badge of conviction."

There's also been a lot of talk about whether Liz Cheney wants to run for president, in 2024. We hear she's not expected to give a firm answer, but she's not ruling it out.

So, let's turn to Chief National Correspondent, John King, Anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS." He is standing by, at the Magic Wall, waiting for the election results to come in.

John, what are you seeing?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS: Alisyn, you see Wyoming, on the map. It is gray. We're waiting for the first votes to come in. But before I zoom in, on the state, these are the primaries, so far, after tonight, about a handful of States left to hold their primaries.

You see, these are House districts. You see all that salmon color on the map? Those are candidates endorsed by Donald Trump. Donald Trump continues to have giant sway, in the Republican Party, especially in these conservative House races.

So now, we're going to pull up to Wyoming's first and only congressional district. It's a statewide, one congressperson, from the State of Wyoming. It's Cheney versus Harriet Hageman, as you noted. But this is Cheney versus Trump.

How can Liz Cheney be in trouble? You just saw the photograph of her standing with her father, the former vice president, and a former congressman, from Wyoming, the former Defense Secretary, from Wyoming. The Cheney Brand used to be gold, in Wyoming, right?

Liz Cheney came to Washington with Donald Trump in 2016. 40 percent in her first primary, 68 percent in her second primary, 73 percent in the Republican primary, just two years ago. So, Republicans in Wyoming love, or at least loved, Liz Cheney.

What happened? Let's move from this map, to this map. She defied Donald Trump. She stood up to him, and voted to impeach him. She stood up to him, and joined as Vice Chair of the January 6th committee. Donald Trump, 70 percent, in Wyoming, in 2020.

You see only two blue counties. That's Liz Cheney's only hope. Are there enough Democrats, are there enough Independents, who will switch parties? You have to change your registration to vote as a Republican. There are indications that there's been a lot of that happening, in Wyoming. But is it enough?

Alisyn, look at the map. Look at all this red. Liz Cheney understands the odds are overwhelming, which is why she's writing that defiant speech. She expects, when we come back to this map, tonight, by the time all the votes are counted, that'll be salmon.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I'm no mathematician. But that map looked very red.

Now, John, thank you very much. And we'll come back to you, of course, as the results come in.

So joining me now is Chris Wallace, Host of CNN "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?" Also, our Chief Political Correspondent, and "STATE OF THE UNION" Co-anchor, Dana Bash, and our CNN Political Commentator, Scott Jennings.

Scott, it's great to have you here.

As we await the results, there, Chris, what are you watching for, tonight?

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST, "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?": Well, frankly, unless there's a political earthquake? Excuse me - and we don't expect there to be. And that Liz Cheney is going to lose.


Her statement, her speech, and what she lays out, as her path, going forward, clearly, it's going to be a call to arms, against Donald Trump. What's her role in that army? Is she - how is she - what is she going to say? I don't expect her to say, "I'm going to run for president," tonight.

But how is she going to lay out the way that she is going to oppose Donald Trump, and try to prevent him, from being, first of all, the Republican nominee? Secondly, the next President of the United States, over the next two years?

CAMEROTA: Scott, if she loses her seat, what can her role in that army be?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Well, it makes sense to me that she would run for president. She's raised a ton of money, into a federal account, which can be used in another federal account, president's, a federal office.

So, I think she has the capacity to mount a campaign for president, although it would be as much of a long shot, to get the Republican nomination in 2024, as it has been to win this primary, in 2022.

But if she - it strikes me that this is more than just a vote, for her, the impeachment. This is a crusade. And if she wants to keep that, going, that is the next most obvious thing that you would do. And obviously, she would garner all kinds of national media attention, and political attention.

And she seems to think it's her life's work, the culmination of her life's work, to keep Donald Trump, out of the White House. So, that's what I'm expecting to hear, tonight, something short of a campaign, but something obviously building toward it.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: And she's already started talking about it in that clip, from earlier, this evening, when she talked about "The beginning." "This is the beginning." That is the kind of tone and tenor that we're hearing from inside her camp.

It is what she has been sort of pretty much screaming from the rooftops, since she made a very clear decision, to be the anti-Donald Trump, not just to be against him, but to call him out, before the January 6th committee, and then of course, using her perch on that panel as well.

So, she clearly has decided that Wyoming is likely behind her right now. And she is looking on a national level, to be the most prominent voice she can be, to speak out against Trumpism, and everything that he represents that she thinks is hurting the party that her family has been such a prominent part of.

WALLACE: And you know, Alisyn? Not to be too cynical about it, but in a town, Washington, where as people so much, seem to play to what's to their personal advantage?

You do - the line, badge of her conviction, you do have to give her credit for the fact that - obviously, if you don't like - if you like Donald Trump, you're not going to like what she's doing. But she has thrown away a really stellar congressional career. She had that - she was the number three Republican, in the House of Representatives, the real possibility, of eventually becoming the first Republican House Speaker. And she decided Donald Trump was more important than any of that. I mean, she could have just stayed silent, like a lot of other people--


WALLACE: --and secretly whispered--


WALLACE: --"God, I really don't like this, but I'm not going to say anything about it." She didn't. She stood up.

CAMEROTA: It's a good point, Chris, because she has - it has made her somewhat politically-homeless. So all sorts of Democrats, as you all know, really like Liz Cheney, right now. But their love--

BASH: I can't believe that they're saying that.

CAMEROTA: They can't believe it. But they - I mean, there are definitely a contingent that switched party registration, to vote for her, today.

But their love only goes so far. I mean, last night, I spoke to one of them, a lifelong Democrat, who switched her party registration. And I said, "So, would you vote for her for president?" And here is the response.


CAMEROTA: Would you vote for her for President?

PAT LAUBER, DEMOCRATIC VOTER WHO CHANGED PARTIES TO VOTE FOR CHENEY: I doubt that very much. I don't think that I would.


CAMEROTA: And so, there you go. I mean, so they love her today, but they won't love her tomorrow.

JENNINGS: No. I mean, this is the thing about Liz Cheney. She's quite conservative. I mean her voting record?


JENNINGS: Her entire career? And when she was in the House, while Donald Trump was in office, she voted, with his position, 90-something percent of the time. I mean, this is a doctrinaire conservative. So it's not like she's gone off the reservation on issues.

She has gone off the reservation, on one thing, and that is her attitude and disposition towards Trump, and making her crusade, getting rid of Trump, out of politics. I actually think she could have survived the impeachment vote if she had just done what others have done, which is, just kind of ignore it, further, just put it behind her. But that's not - that wasn't her choice. And, I think, she knew upfront, what the reckoning would be, in Wyoming. But she's obviously got bigger things, in mind.

CAMEROTA: Well, we also talked to a Republican, last night, who isn't going to vote for her, because she felt that Liz Cheney had basically left the state behind that she no longer represented, the people of Wyoming, and that she wasn't focused, on sort of their needs.

So, here's that moment.



MYRNA BURGESS, REGISTERED REPUBLICAN VOTING AGAINST LIZ CHENEY: While she has been a very conservative vote in the legislature, she just seems to be swinging a little bit more toward the left. But even before that, in the last couple of years, it just does not feel like she really represents the state anymore.


CAMEROTA: I mean, so did she make this too much about Trump? Was there any way to thread that needle, and be again - speak out for what she thought the ills of Donald Trump were, but to also deliver for her home state?

BASH: Let's be clear, Liz Cheney has not moved to the left. There's - this isn't about left or right. This is about Donald Trump or not. That's what it is.

And yes, it is true, if you think about it through that prism, it is true that she doesn't represent Wyoming, which is a state, where Donald Trump won in 2020. He had the biggest margin there than any other state, like by far. West Virginia, I think, was second.

And what that tells you is that Wyoming is Trump-country. And it's not Cheney-country. And so, that's why she made the decision, the very knowledgeable decision, intentional decision, to do what she did, knowing that it could be, to use your term, a suicide mission.

CAMEROTA: Chris, let's look at the scorecard of the impeach - the so- called Impeachment 10, and what their fates have been. So, of the people, the Republicans, who voted to impeach Donald Trump? I mean, basically, the bottom line is that Donald Trump vanquished most of them.

WALLACE: Oh, absolutely. Listen, there's an even stronger indication than that. "The Washington Post" had a fascinating story today, where they looked at all of the battleground States, and all of the primary races.

54 of 87 - 54 of the 87 GOP nominees, in battleground States, in offices, either state, local or federal, that would have some say, in the next election, are to some degree, or another, election-deniers.

So, I mean, that's very much who's going to be on the ballot, for Republicans, in November, in for Governor, for a Secretary of State, for a lot of these key races that will affect the 2024 election. They are election-deniers. They are Trump supporters.

CAMEROTA: Scott, as a Republican, what do you think that means, for your party, and your country?

JENNINGS: Well, I mean, like, I tend to believe Donald Trump today is the most likely Republican, to win the nomination, in 2024, but the least likely Republican, to recapture the White House.

And, I think, prior to this FBI issue, I think, some Republicans were starting to prepare themselves, to turn the page on it. There's been maybe a temporary snapback to him, a reflexive defensiveness.

But, I think, if the Republican Party wants to win back the White House, and beat Joe Biden, or whoever runs, it probably should look elsewhere. Donald Trump's never won the popular vote. And I don't think his prospects have gotten any better, since the last time he tried.

CAMEROTA: But do you think the election denialism only applies to him, or is that now fundamental, that Republicans, the two-thirds that Chris is talking about, won't believe outcomes, if it doesn't go their way, now?

JENNINGS: I mean, I think there are a lot of Republicans, who don't believe, in the outcomes.

Respectfully, there are a bunch of Democrats, who don't think Donald Trump won the 2016 election fair and square either. And there were a lot of Democrats who didn't think George W. Bush won fairly in 2000 or 2004. We go--

CAMEROTA: But that's because they didn't win the popular vote.

JENNINGS: --we go through--

CAMEROTA: It's not because they think that there was massive fraud.

JENNINGS: You don't think Democrats still today cling to the idea that somehow Donald Trump had help, winning the 2016 election? I mean?

CAMEROTA: I think it's different - I think it's different--

JENNINGS: But actually, I don't.

CAMEROTA: --than what the election-deniers would say.

JENNINGS: I mean, as a Republican, I don't.

WALLACE: But you can't compare that, to what we saw in 2020. You can't compare that to 2020. JENNINGS: I'm not comparing it. But I think we have been on a 20-year escalator of people increasingly denying outcomes of elections. It got as hot as it's ever been in 2020.

And I think in 2024, there'll be Republicans, who wouldn't accept it, if Joe Biden wins again, and there'll be Democrats, who wouldn't accept it, if Donald Trump or any other Republican wins.

WALLACE: I remember, when Joe Biden, was in the January 6th hearing, in Congress, where they were counting the electoral vote, and some Democrats were objecting to Donald Trump, and he shut them down.

I mean, it just - it's really - I understand what you're saying. But it's apples and oranges, compared to what went on, in 2020 - I mean, we're talking about a concerted effort to overturn the election, in 2020.

JENNINGS: I'm not - I'm not disagreeing with you. But I don't think you can deny the 20-year escalator that we have been on, where partisans have increasingly been willing, to disregard the outcome of the election, in favor of their own partisan instincts. And it got as bad as it's ever been in 2020. My fear is it's going to happen again, no matter who wins.

BASH: The only - the only - one of the differences, it's not the only. One of the differences is what the candidate says. There are always going to be supporters. You've been on campaigns, I'm sure, where they just don't accept the results. It's different when the candidate, especially when it is the President says, "No, I'm not going to accept it," and has a concerted effort--

JENNINGS: I agree with you.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Quickly?


JENNINGS: And what has Hillary Clinton said, even as early as - as late as this year, about the 2016 election? That "It was stolen from me." So look, I'm just - I'm not trying to compare it, because it got as bad, as it's ever gotten. And January 6th was a travesty. I'm not convinced we're not still on that escalator. And we don't know--

CAMEROTA: Oh, it feels like we are on a runaway escalator.

BASH: Right about that.

CAMEROTA: Certainly, in terms of the slate of election-deniers.

Friends, thank you very much. Please stay close, because we will be getting results in by the minute.

So, there're brand-new developments, about the classified documents, being stored, in Donald Trump's basement. What did investigators see, on surveillance video that alarmed them so much? We'll be right back.


CAMEROTA: There are multiple criminal investigations, currently involving Donald Trump. And some of them are overlapping. But let's start with what the Department of Justice describes as the highly classified documents that were being stored at Mar-a-Lago.


CNN has learned the FBI interviewed two former White House lawyers, Pat Cipollone, and Patrick Philbin, before executing the search warrant, on the former President's home. And it turns out that they were among a group of seven aides, appointed by President Trump, in one of his last actions, as President, to handle his presidential documents.

I'm joined now by former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Elliot Williams.

Guys, great to have you here.



CAMEROTA: If Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin were tasked with being in charge of the presidential records, and the classified documents, aren't they in trouble today?

WILLIAMS: They may not be in trouble today, because they may have been doing their jobs, and attempting to advise their colleagues, to not break the law, right? And so number - they can provide a tremendous amount of very valuable information, as to how documents were stored there, who did what, who saw what. I don't think they're in trouble just yet.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, in terms of who saw what, Maggie Haberman, at "The Times," and our colleague, reports that investigators obtained surveillance footage, of the hallway, outside of the storage room, at Mar-a-Lago, and saw something that alarmed them. And that's what sped up the process for getting the search warrant.

What could they have seen on that tape, Andrew?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Well, this gets to the core of what a counterintelligence investigation actually is.

And the purpose of a CIA investigation is to mitigate a potential threat to national security. It's not to throw someone in jail, or see somebody prosecute. That can happen. But the primary purpose is to mitigate a threat.

In this case, it's very logical that they would want to see that surveillance tape, to understand the entire universe of people, who might have had access, to that room. And if they were concerned, by what they saw, that is not a good sign.

It means they saw someone, potentially accessing that room, who should not have been there, maybe even someone, who the Trump attorneys that they were dealing with, wasn't aware of, who was accessing the room.

So, this is why you don't take top secret documents, to someplace, like Mar-a-Lago that's not approved for that sort of storage, because you can put that stuff at risk, simply by the people that have access to it.

CAMEROTA: Elliot, Maggie Haberman is also reporting that when Donald Trump's advisers repeatedly tried to get him to turn, over the documents, to - this tranche of classified documents, to the National Archives, he told them, quote, "It's not theirs. It's mine."

Actually, it's ours!


CAMEROTA: The American people own the presidential documents. I mean, those are historical for posterity records.

WILLIAMS: Look, it's a gross misunderstanding of how records are kept in government. I know this. You knew this, as a senior official in government.


WILLIAMS: That you turn over your documents at the end. And, as a President of the United States, or a senior White House staffer, there are additional rules, governing, how you ought to hand documents over.


WILLIAMS: They belong to the American people, number one, as just sort of a body of documents, generally. Then, on top of that, some of those are classified documents.

And as you know, as I know, from having worked with classified materials, they never have any place, outside of a secure facility. Never belong in a private home, even if you are a former president of the United States.

CAMEROTA: But what do you say to his argument that he had declassified them?

WILLIAMS: Well, he - but he didn't, and he couldn't. Because just think about it this way. Each document may be declassifies future ones down the road. So, take - if he declassifies a piece of paper, there's probably 10,000 other pieces of paper, around the country--

MCCABE: That's right.

WILLIAMS: --that are relying on that one for their own classification level. So, if there's a document, in some other DOJ office, somewhere in Fresno, is that declassified now? So, it just it makes no sense. And he couldn't just issue a blanket order.

MCCABE: And think about when he - when we know he actually did want things declassified, he asked others to do it. He had John Ratcliffe, as DNI declassify documents that he wanted released. He had Richard Grenell, as acting DNI, do the same thing.

And the reason you have someone do it, and go through the procedure, is because you need other people to start treating that material as declassified. So simply having the thought, in your head, as president, and not communicating it to anyone else, doesn't get the job done.

WILLIAMS: But, to be clear, look, he has the power, to some extent, to declassify things, just like he has the power to pardon, and do other things. But we, as a government, put checks on presidents and people in power, so that mistakes and abuses like this don't happen.

CAMEROTA: So Andrew, explain this. So now Patrick - Cipollone and Patrick Philbin are involved in this classified documents investigation, as well as the DOJ investigation of January 6th.

So just explain how complicated that is, as an investigator, how you keep different investigations separate, whence some of the same witnesses and players are involved?

MCCABE: It's incredibly complicated. So you have entirely different streams of investigative activity, likely overseen, by different line prosecutors, and most likely being actually worked on the ground level, by different agents, and with different supervisors, all convening in on the same witnesses.


It's absolutely essential that that stuff is coordinated at the very top. You don't want to keep asking Pat Cipollone, or Patrick Philbin, to come in, on multiple occasions, to answer different questions, from different groups.


MCCABE: You try to package all those things together, into longer sessions of interviews, in one shot.

CAMEROTA: OK. They have their work cut out for them.

MCCABE: They do.

CAMEROTA: Andrew McCabe, Elliot Williams, thank you so much.

OK, so we've heard from Trump, in statements online. But few people can guess what's going on in his mind, right now, better than our next guest. We go one-on-one, with Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAMEROTA: OK, this just in, the first results, from the Wyoming Republican House primary are in. 5 percent of the vote is now in. It's a small number. But Hageman starts out with a lead of about 600 votes.

So obviously, they will continue to come in minute-by-minute. We'll keep an eye on it, and we'll check in with John King, shortly.

OK, but first, Donald Trump has skirted legal trouble, many times before. From the Stormy Daniels scandal, to his two impeachment trials, Trump has survived, virtually unscathed.

But now, two grand juries are impaneled. Two of his own former lawyers have been ordered to testify, in investigations, and his aides are being interviewed, under oath, by prosecutors. Is this the closest Donald Trump has come to real trouble?


Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, went to prison for, as he says, doing Donald Trump's "Dirty deeds," meaning writing a hush-money check to Stormy Daniels, who said she had an affair with Donald Trump.

He's now the host of the "Mea Culpa" podcast. And he also has an upcoming book out, which goes on sale, October 11th. It's called "Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the US Department of Justice Against His Critics."

Michael, great to have you here, in studio.


CAMEROTA: So what about that premise? Is this the closest that Donald Trump has come to being in real legal trouble?

COHEN: It's certainly the closest I've ever seen him come. As you know, Donald Trump has been like the Teflon Don. It appears now things have changed.

One of the things that Donald has been so cautious about, his entire life, he took the suggestions of Roy Cohn, "Never have your fingerprints on anything," which is why he's never had an email address. He never texted. Very little in writing.

But everything that's going on now, especially when you're with government, everything is documented, and so including, like the conversation with Brad Raffensperger, including the conversation he had, with me, about making a payment, and that one was for Karen McDougal, which was not made by me. It was made by AMI and David Pecker, National Enquirer.


COHEN: But we're at a situation now, where the documentary evidence, and the recordings, and all of the information, really, appear to be closing in on him.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about declassified documents that were apparently being stored in the basement in a storage room at Mar-a-Lago.

You've been to Mar-a-Lago many times?


CAMEROTA: Were you aware that there was a safe or a storage room or a surveillance camera?

COHEN: Well, I knew there were cameras, because that's something that Matt Calamari, at The Trump Organization does. They put cameras everywhere, in all the buildings, and all of the Trump properties.

CAMEROTA: Why do they do that?

COHEN: Security. And it's the right thing to do, for members of a club like that. But I never knew about the basement. I never knew that he had his safe, which is very interesting that whoever the informant was, knew exactly where to go, knew exactly the information that was there, both in the safe, and in the storage area. Now--

CAMEROTA: Now, what does that tell you?

COHEN: Well, to me, I believe, and I would say, it's my personal opinion, I believe it's Jared Kushner. I believe that only family would know the existence of a safe, let alone the contents of that safe.

And so, who else could it possibly be? He doesn't trust Don Jr. He's made it crystal clear. I write about in the book that Don has the worst judgment of anyone he's ever met. Eric, I could understand, may possibly know.

But, Ivanka and Jared, as a team, especially, since Jared was what, the Secretary of everything?

CAMEROTA: So basically, you're suggesting, but we don't have any evidence of this, that it's somebody, in his close circle, and it's somebody in his family. And what would Donald Trump's mindset be tonight, knowing that there are people, who know this information that are cooperating with the FBI?

COHEN: This is a real problem for him. You see, Donald Trump is like 1st Avenue, when it comes to loyalty. It's one way, right? And he's the most disloyal human being that you'll ever meet. But he expects 100 percent loyalty from everyone around him.

Now that his inner circle is in his mind, who is it that is providing information to the FBI? Who is it that's creating this headache for him? This is driving him crazy, because he can't figure it out. But he knows it has to be someone in that inner circle. And he really doesn't have anybody outside of that circle to trust.

CAMEROTA: Why do you think he had 20 boxes of classified top secret? I mean, these things were designated as Top Secret or even higher Sensitive Compartmented Info. What was he going to do with that info?

COHEN: Well, first of all, shouldn't everybody be keeping it in the basement of Mar-a-Lago, right? I mean, you're asking the exact question that I was hoping everybody would ask, why. And I'll tell you, my belief is that he was going to use it as a bargaining chip, as a get-out-of-jail-free card.

CAMEROTA: What does that mean?

COHEN: Well, the second that they would put him in handcuffs, he would turn around, and say, "You don't seem to understand. I have the documentation showing, for example, where our nuclear launch pads are, or where other information, sensitive national security information." This is what I believe.

And he would use it and say, "If you proceed with this, I'm telling you right now, there's 20 of my loyal supporters, you don't know who they are, but we will release that information, to Russia, to Iran, to whoever it might be," because he doesn't care about this country. I've been saying that forever.

That whole presidential election was supposed to be the greatest infomercial, in the history of American politics, which he just happened to win.

CAMEROTA: But knowing him, as you do, in other words, you don't think these were just mementos? He wasn't just keeping Kim Jong-un's love letter as a memento?

COHEN: I'm sure some of - I'm sure some of it was Kim Jong-un love letters, or a letter he may have received, from Vladimir Putin, about his Miss Universe pageant, something that he could show off, if he ever felt he needed to have that document.

But I believe that the sensitive information that's there was used or was going to be used by him as a get-out-of-jail-free card.


CAMEROTA: Just to recap, the FBI searched your office, as you well remember.

COHEN: Right.

CAMEROTA: As well as the home and/or office of Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani, Jeffrey Clark. You and I've talked about this before. Why do so many people, around Donald Trump, get into trouble, into legal trouble, but he doesn't?

COHEN: Because, again, he doesn't put his fingerprints, on anything, and the rest of us are just stupid. Our job is, like mine was, to protect him, at all costs, whatever it is that he needed to.

And he didn't come out and make overt statements like, "Michael, this is what I need you to do." He would speak in code. "This can't happen." And so, you go out, and you run into the fire for him, to protect him. Yet he's the one that started the fire. And he doesn't care if you get burnt or not.

CAMEROTA: Michael, it's always insightful to talk to you. Great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: Thanks so much.

COHEN: Thank you. Good to see, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, the first numbers are coming in, as Congresswoman Liz Cheney awaits her fate, in Wyoming. John King is at the Magic Wall, and we are live at Cheney headquarters. So, keep it right here.


CAMEROTA: OK, we're watching the first numbers come in, from Wyoming, as Liz Cheney faces the real possibility, of losing her congressional seat. Harriet Hageman, the Trump-backed challenger, is off to an early lead.

So, let's check back in with John King, at the Magic Wall.

John, what are you seeing?


KING: The first results are what we expected to watch, still a lot of counting to do, but Harriet Hageman, the Trump-backed candidate, pulls out to an early lead.

That's a pretty comfortable lead. But again, only about 6 percent of the estimated vote so, we have a long way to count. But if you are Harriet Hageman, what did you want to see? You wanted to see your color come in as the first results come in.

Only results from two counties so far. And number one, Natrona County, here. And you see it's 53 percent-45 percent, 54 percent-45 percent, if you round that up. That's a big lead. But this one here, you get into the more rural areas. Look at that, 77 percent to 15 percent.

These two counties, Alisyn, make up about 22 percent, 23 percent of the statewide population. No giant cities, if you will, in Wyoming. Long way to go. We still need Teton County, where Jackson is, and we need to come down here, where Cheyenne is, a 6 percent.

But if you're Liz Cheney, if you were going to surprise people, you wanted to see it from the beginning, a lot of counting to do. But this map so far, filling in as everyone expected.

CAMEROTA: (inaudible) back with you.

Let's check in now with CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He's live at Cheney headquarters, in Jackson, Wyoming.

So what's the mood? JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, good evening. I don't know, if you can hear the music behind me here. But there's some country western music playing. And I'll say the mood is actually quite celebratory.

But there is a bit of an anticlimactic feel about the outcome of the primary. As John was just talking about, the numbers coming in now, at the moment, are not favoring Liz Cheney.

But talking to people here, and Cheney supporters, throughout the day? They're focused on what is coming next. And that's what I'm told her speech is going to be about tonight, turning the page, looking ahead.

They certainly are not acknowledging defeat, or conceding defeat, by any stretch. But the speech, this evening, here, outside Jackson, is going to be about continuing the battle, against Donald Trump.

So, the margin of the victory, for Harriet Hageman, if she has won, is going to be something that Cheney folks are watching. But the bigger question is what is she going to do next, if she falls short, tonight?

So, I'm not sure, I can recall an election night party, where a candidate is losing, but there is such a celebratory mood, because there really is a sense of what is next, for Liz Cheney, if she does not win tonight.

So, this certainly is an arc of the Cheney family. I'm told all of the Cheneys will be here tonight, former president - Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney, her mother, her sister, as well.

So, it's a very Wyoming picturesque evening, as you can see here, and the Cheney supporters are waiting for the final outcome and her speech. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: That doesn't even look real, Jeff. It looks like your backdrop is so majestic. It looks painted. But tell us, what's the crowd, like, right now? I mean, how many people are there? Is it packed? What's the scene?

ZELENY: Look, there are a lot of people here. Dozens and dozens, maybe a couple 100 people, or so, listening to music, having some light bites, having a few drinks, on this really beautiful summer evening.

And again, there is a sense of some longtime Cheney friends, have driven, from across the state, and certainly from this area, where the Cheney family has lived for quite some time. So, people have driven from a Casper, where the Cheneys grew up, both Lynne and Dick Cheney.

So, there definitely is a sense of - I don't - I don't sense a dispirited sense in the crowd at all. A sense of possibility for what she may do next, if she falls shorter. So basically, it's an evening picnic, kind of a festivity here.

But the outcome, even if she doesn't seem to win, again, wondering what her speech will say, and what she'll do. Perhaps run for 2024, or not, I'm told, she will not make a specific declaration of that. But certainly, a festive mood, about what her future might be, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, really interesting. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much. Thanks to John King as well. Standby, we're keeping--

ZELENY: You bet.

CAMEROTA: --a close watch, on Wyoming. And what happens there tonight could add to a trend. And that is election-deniers winning primaries around the nation. What does that mean for our democracy, and the risk of more chaos, like what we saw on January 6th? All that's next.



CAMEROTA: We could soon learn if Congresswoman Liz Cheney will survive her primary challenge, from Harriet Hageman.

If Hageman wins, that is yet another primary victory for a 2020 election-denier. And she would join a wave of election-deniers, who are now just one election away, from gaining power, over election results, in battleground States.

As Chris Wallace noted earlier, a "Washington Post" analysis finds that nearly two-thirds, of the current nominees, for everything, from Governor, to Secretary of State, have questioned the results of the race, Joe Biden, won.


KARI LAKE, (R) CANDIDATE FOR ARIZONA GOVERNOR: Anybody, who was involved in that corrupt, shady, shoddy election, of 2020?


LAKE: Lock them up!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The election was rigged.

MARK FINCHEM, (R) CANDIDATE FOR ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: We know it. And they know it. Donald Trump won.


DOUGLAS MASTRIANO, (R) CANDIDATE FOR PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: Half of the nation believes that this election was stolen from President Trump. And I agree with that.


CAMEROTA: OK, let's bring in our guests, right now, to talk about this. We have Dana Bash, again. We have John Avlon, joining us, and Scott Jennings. So Scott, I know that we talked about this, earlier in the hour, but I had to bring you back, because you didn't answer my critical question, which is what happens, when a full slate of election-deniers, win?

I know that you said that "You've seen it on both sides, and that we've been on this escalator, for a long time." But what happens when they're in charge of the levers of election results?

JENNINGS: Yes, it's actually quite worrisome, because we saw, and there's been some reporting on some of the efforts that occurred, between Election Day, and Inauguration Day, trying to copy the voting machines, in Georgia, and some differences (ph).

I mean, obviously, there are people who want to re-litigate this, or worse, once they take these offices. It's a dead end. I mean, it's a dead end for the Republican Party, to make this the core animating issue, of the party.

And it's worrisome that we could conduct a free and fair election, you could have outcomes, and people would just simply deny those outcomes, or disregard those outcomes. I mean, it's just not the way it works. Not the way it's supposed to work. And it is a dead end, for the Republican Party, in my opinion, not just this year, but as we go to 2024.


CAMEROTA: Yes, but it's not just theoretical. It's happening. I mean, Dana, let me just show you this slate. This is just Arizona. Let's just look at Arizona, for one example.

BASH: Right.

CAMEROTA: The entire slate of people who would be in charge of elections. So, here are the election-deniers, who have won their primaries, already, OK?

So, from the governor, Kari Lake, Blake Masters, U.S. Senate, Mark Finchem, who we'll get to in a minute, and then also for the Attorney General, so, every single person, who would be overseeing it, and this time - next time around, Donald Trump. I mean, in other words, they'll find fraud, next time around, because they'll fabricate it.

BASH: And there's something else. And that is States, like Arizona, have changed their election laws, since the 2020 election, to make it effectively, in a lot of ways, easier to overturn the election.

So, it's giving the people who are, you just put up on the screen, who are election-deniers, more leeway, to do what Doug Ducey didn't do, for example, the current governor of Arizona, because he said he couldn't do it, because the law didn't allow him to, and on down.

Same in Georgia. Georgia, we know, is a place, where the former President, and people who were around him, tried to overturn the election. He said it. He said it on tape, looking for 11,000-plus votes. It didn't happen because the law didn't allow it to happen, and because people stood in the way, like Governor Kemp and others. The law has changed, and gives the legislature, more power, to overturn an oath, and step on the Secretary of State.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL": But, in Georgia, the center held. Raffensperger was reelected. Kemp was reelected, against the pressure.

CAMEROTA: That's true, very true.

AVLON: What's happened in Arizona is something very different. I mean, this is a Republican Party that views former favorite son, John McCain, as an apostate, right? And that's a sign of a real problem. That's a sign of a real sickness.

The really telling thing about that two-third stat is that it's in battleground States. That's not the total number, right? Those are the people - those are the people that these battleground state GOPs, where you need - you need to win over the reasonable edge, of the opposition, you need to win over the purple state, are playing to the base, in such a way that it has huge implications, not only for 2022, but for the integrity of elections.

And what Kari Lake and Co., are saying is "An election is a fraud, unless I win."

CAMEROTA: That's right.

AVLON: That's not democracy!

CAMEROTA: John, I'm very interested, to hear you say this, because as you know, you have often told me, it's not as dire as I think it is. But you've come around.

AVLON: No, I'm still a determined optimist, because I don't see the point in being anything else. But that the--

CAMEROTA: Because it's still evidence, John? It's evidence!

AVLON: What?

CAMEROTA: They're winning now. But back when you and I used to have this theoretical discussion, you were like, "But don't worry. You know, they haven't won the primary, yet." They have now.

AVLON: They have.

CAMEROTA: They're getting one--

AVLON: That doesn't mean--

CAMEROTA: --one election away--

AVLON: But that doesn't mean they win the general election.

CAMEROTA: --from being in control. AVLON: And we were talking to Scott. Mitch McConnell, and the Senate Democrats, should remember, in 2010, when Sharron Angles, and the Todd Akins, and the Christine O'Donnells, when the Republican Party puts forward, extremists, in swing States, it usually doesn't end well.

Now, we'll see what the overall turnout map, in this - in off your midterm election is. But that's the problem. Now, if they do win, then that's bad for, not only the Republican Party, but democracy, to have election-deniers in place. But it's probably bad news for the Republican Party, in the short run.

JENNINGS: Yes, these purple States that, are extraordinarily close? We do have some candidate challenges. I actually think all of these States are going to be quite close.

Whether the candidacies, are high quality, or low quality, I think, we're in for close elections, in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, I mean, a lot of these States, which actually makes me quite concerned, about what the period between November and January is going to look like.


CAMEROTA: Of course.

JENNINGS: Because if we had extremely close races, across the country, I think it's pretty predictable, what's going to happen? We're going to be fighting over vote counts, for many, many weeks. And so, we got to hope. Look, all anybody wants us for the people who cast votes fairly to have those votes counted fairly.


JENNINGS: I mean that's what anybody should want.


CAMEROTA: Of course.

JENNINGS: And that sounds pretty simple. But that it won't be that simple, I guess, in the end.

CAMEROTA: Dana, let's just look at - let's just zero in on Mark Finchem. He's in Arizona. He's a self-proclaimed member, of the far- right extremist group, the Oath Keepers. And he's filled with anti- government conspiracy theories.

Our investigative team, the KFILE, uncovered a Pinterest account, in which he has collected a "Treason Watch List," as it is called - as he calls it on, they're filled with government officials, and Nazi imagery. And so, what if he wins?

BASH: It's scary. I mean, it just is, not because of his ideology, on a - so, excuse me, not his philosophy, on policy, on taxes, on government spending, on basics. It's that stuff. That's - that is scary, scary stuff. That is the kind of thing that would have gotten him ostracized, pushed out of any normal conversation, normal political discourse, never mind elected office, like this! Not that long ago. And there he is.

AVLON: You don't hire an arsonist to run the fire department!


CAMEROTA: Yes. And it's all part and parcel of what we've been talking about, tonight, which is Liz Cheney's race. I mean, it seems, sometimes, I think, we focus it on Liz Cheney and her political future. But this is all connected, because her opponent is an election-denier.

AVLON: Yes, yes.

CAMEROTA: And so, that's - I mean, this is happening before our eyes, tonight.

AVLON: And that's a feature, not a bug, within the Republican base. Again, the problem is - and we're going to see what happens with Liz Cheney here.

But it's not for nothing that the two of the 10 House members, who voted to impeach Donald Trump, who've survived, were in top two primaries, right, where you had a more representative election, right, because you get Independents vote, and Democrats, and all that.

It's these close-partisan primaries, these low turnouts, that's when folks can hijack elections, and you get these unrepresentative results, you know? If Liz Cheney had - would she win a general election? I don't know. But I think she'd have a better shot than winning a close partisan primary that's going to be lower turnout.

CAMEROTA: OK, friends, thank you very much. We will have an update, a quick update, on the vote, in Wyoming. 8 percent of the vote is in now, and Harriet Hageman is leading with 60 percent of that vote.

We will keep an eye on it. And we will be right back.


CAMEROTA: Thanks for watching tonight, everyone.

Join me tomorrow, in the "CNN NEWSROOM" with Victor Blackwell, from 2 PM to 4 PM Eastern. And I'll be back here, tomorrow night.

And with that, "DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

All yours Don.