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CNN TONIGHT: All Of Jackson, Mississippi Left Without Clean Drinking Water; Texas Has Spent More Than $12 Million To Bus Migrants To Washington, D.C. & New York; Any Minute: DOJ Response To Trump Team's Request For Special Master. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 30, 2022 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: It's not just parts of the U.S., facing floods, as we showed you earlier.

Take a look at Pakistan, where one-third of that country is under water. The government now says, at least 1,100 people have been killed. Across that country, millions have been forced from their homes, the cause, what they're calling a Monster Monsoon season, which still has a month left.

For more information, on what you can do to help, go to CNN.COM/IMPACT.

The news continues. So, let's hand it over to Victor Blackwell and CNN TONIGHT.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: All right, John, thank you.

I'm Victor Blackwell. This is CNN TONIGHT.

Right now, we are waiting, for the Justice Department's rebuttal, to Trump's legal team, on the Mar-a-Lago documents. And we will talk about that later.

Because, at this same moment, more than 150,000 people, are waiting for water, in a major American city, a state capital, Jackson, Mississippi. Tonight, families there cannot be sure their toilets will flush that there's enough water to brush their teeth, to shower, or even send their kids to school.

Instead, they spent the day, in lines, for hours, to get one case of water, until the water ran out. And after spending, their day, like this, in 90-degree temperatures, many were turned away, from the distribution event, at Hawkins airfield.

Now, the Director of the State Emergency Management says that seven distribution sites will be set up, by Thursday. In the meantime, people turn to stores, where the shelves are nearly bare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very frustrating. It's very frustrating to have to fight for some water. You know, what I'm saying? You got to mess around, buy five cases of water, just to stay hydrated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just kind of scary, because we don't know, if anything's going to get done, or when it's going to get done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After work, I get off late, and you come in the store, and it's empty.


BLACKWELL: Water, we're talking about!

Let's back up, and talk about how we got here. Moderate flooding, in Jackson, Mississippi, crippled the city's largest water facility. And National Guard troops train for the devastation of hurricanes. They've been deployed.

But this is not a disaster, some once-in-a-lifetime storm. American citizens, in 2022, struggling for the most basic human need, is the culmination, of decades of failure, to fix a system that dates back to the 1950s.

This failure is so foreseeable that the President mentioned Jackson, by name, more than a year ago.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Never again can we allow what happened in Flint, Michigan; and Jackson, Mississippi. Can never let it happen again.


BLACKWELL: Now, that was part of the celebration, for the Senate passage, of the Infrastructure Act. It allocated billions of dollars, for Mississippi, including $429 million, to improve water infrastructure. But that money is supposed to stretch across the entire state.

So, where is that money now? And even if Jackson gets its slice of that funding, would that be enough?

I'm joined now by Jackson City Councilmember, Aaron Banks; and Cassandra Welchlin. She's not only a social worker, trying to help her neighbors. She's also a mother of three, trying to get her family, through this crisis.

I thank both of you, for being with me, tonight.

And Cassandra, let me start with you, and how your family is dealing with this.


So, our family had - today, we've been working to just adjust. Our children are out of school. And we've been having to, of course, buy water, to cook, to brush our teeth, to just do the basic necessities that we need, in order just to keep our family afloat. So, today was online Zoom, and also feeding our kids, at home.

But the water was - we had low water pressure today. The water was brown, when we turned it on this morning. We've gotten a little bit more pressure, as the day has gone on. But it's definitely been, of course, an inconvenience, not just for my family, but for families, across the City of Jackson.

BLACKWELL: We've got a picture that you sent us of the water that comes out of the spigot. This is at your bathtub.

The Mayor says that the city, right now, is under a Boil Water Advisory. If you boil that water, I mean it's brown, would you even use that water, after boiling it?

WELCHLIN: So, we have been on a boil water notice, for almost a little over a month now, about a month. And we have not used that water to even cook with. Today, will we no other day, we still would not use that water. We don't boil it, to do anything with it. Because grit is in the water. And so, we will not use it.


And so, we've been going to the store, buying water, and not just my family, but also our organization, the Mississippi Black Women's Roundtable, how we've been serving the community, and have begun to put our boots on the ground, with other partners, to be able to serve the community.

So no, we will not use that water. And today, I had to remind my kids, "Don't use the water, to brush your teeth. You need to get a bottled water." And so, we have bottles of water, in their restrooms. Because grit comes out of it. And, over the weekend, it was even worse. It was brown. And this is even before the cresting of the reservoir happened.

So, it's a pretty - it's a real inconvenience. And it is a public safety issue, particularly when you're talking about our children, and you're talking about, elders, in the community. It's a really bad public safety issue, for not just my family, but for all of our families, in Jackson, Mississippi.

BLACKWELL: Yes, beyond consuming it, or using to brush your teeth, I mean, I couldn't imagine anybody would want to bathe in that water that we saw in the bathtub.

Councilman, let me come to you. And no community should have to rely on the water, we just showed, and not have reliable, clean, potable water. But I'd be remiss, if I didn't point out that this is a majority Black city, 82 percent, there in Jackson. Tell me what you're seeing, and how this is impacting the people that you represent.

AARON BANKS, JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI CITY COUNCIL: Yes, first of all, appreciate it.

Look, it is very hard to bear. This is not our first time here. Two years ago, February, we had a winter storm, where City of Jackson went around four weeks without water.

But however, the South Jackson area, which is the ward that I represent, went six weeks to seven weeks without any water at all. And since that time, there has not been a month, where we have not experienced, no flow to low flow, in certain areas, in South Jackson. And so, it's very frustrating.

I would say that the citizens here are resilient, because all hands step up to the play, as always, to help make sure that we're serving our vulnerable communities, and that we're able to provide non-potable and potable water, when we hit this.

So, we're used to, the emergency. The sad part about it is, and the sad reality, is this is becoming somewhat of a norm, and we deserve a better quality of life, right here, in the capital city of Jackson, Mississippi.

BLACKWELL: So, what's the plan? I know there was a water distribution, today. We talked about it, several hundred cases of water. At the end of it, cars had to just make a U-turn, and leave, because there was none left.

What are you going to do, for the people, who live there, for the next several days, or weeks, until this is solved?

BANKS: So look, it will be the same that we did it 2020. Since last night, around 7:30, there was a 6,000-gallon tanker, deployed in my ward, at Forest Hill High School that is just providing flushing water.

One of the first things that we realize is that people need to be able to flush, because that becomes a problem, as far as making sure that people have that quality life that they need, especially when school is out, children are at home, people are at home. And so, we wanted to provide those gallons of water, and those tankers, throughout Ward 6, to make sure that they are able to flush.

On top of that we are talking with partners, people like World Central Kitchen, people like my caucus (ph) National Black Caucus, to try to get help in, to bring that bottled water.

The City of Jackson has stepped up, and providing power (ph), so that we could continue that. But, at the end of the day, we need a fix. And the same attention that was given to Flint, Michigan, we need that same attention, given to Jackson.

We need to make sure that these resources that need to come to this city, instead of them going to the state, we need to make sure that our legislators, on the federal level, and that there's some type of executive authority, to make sure that it comes directly to the city, so that we can do what we need to do, even if that means, getting a new water plant, at OB Curtis and J.H. Fewell. BLACKWELL: Yes.

WELCHLIN: And I'll add to that Victor, one of the things that--


WELCHLIN: --tomorrow morning, we have, of course, partner - the Mississippi Black Women's Roundtable have partnered, with New Horizon Church, and other partners, People's Advocacy Institute. And so, tomorrow morning, we will be having truckloads of water that's going to be coming, every day--


WELCHLIN: --to be able to distribute to communities.

Again, one of the things that Aaron talked about is, and you said, we are 80 percent Black community. But also, a third of those folks live in poverty. And many of our children are on Free and Reduced Lunch. And so, when we talk about, who's impacted, those families, we're talking about jobs, right?



WELCHLIN: They have to stay at home, with their families. And so, we're talking about childcare. So, not only are we still coming out of COVID, which is an economic security issue, for so many families, we're still here, trying to provide those kinds of resources.

People don't have $1,000 saved up, to be able to meet the crises that is before us. And so, community has been doing this, for two years now--



WELCHLIN: --coming to our own rescue. And so, we will continue to do that. But definitely, as Aaron said, the State must kick in the money, the resources, so that we can get our infrastructure fixed.

BLACKWELL: Yes. There certainly needs to be a fix. I mean, every human deserves clean water. And the people there, in Jackson, pay taxes, so they're paying for that that water.

Councilman Aaron Banks, Cassandra Welchlin, I thank you both.

BANKS: Yes, sir.

WELCHLIN: Thank you so much.

BANKS: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right, much more, on this growing water emergency, ahead. How does a capital, in the United States of America, have no safe running water, to drink, in 2022, and how does this crisis get resolved?

And we're waiting, for a big filing, from the Justice Department, soon, about the search of Donald Trump's home. What new details might be revealed? We'll talk about that ahead.



BLACKWELL: An American city, where 150,000 people cannot flush the toilet! It's a disaster, too many people, in Jackson, Mississippi, knew was coming. Two years ago, the city's water failed an EPA inspection. And then, last year, the EPA, and the City of Jackson, agreed to work together, to make needed improvements.

And still, since February 2021, listen to this, people in Jackson, have been under some sort of a boil water notice, at least four times, according to the city's website. And as recently as last month, city officials found cause for concern, about lead and copper, in routine water samples, from residents' taps.

I'm joined now by former congresswoman, Abby Finkenauer; and former Special Assistant to George W. Bush, Scott Jennings.

And before there was Jackson, there was Flint. CNN's Sara Sidner has covered the struggles there, after most of the national media moved on.

Thank you all for being here.

And Sara, let me start with you. Because, it is unimaginable that we are here, again, with a major city, and I'm going to say it again, a major Black city, in America that is struggling, just to get clean drinking water.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR & SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I think it isn't unimaginable, though. I think it is probable.

And if you look at some of the studies, there was one out of Texas A&M that said, if there is a significant poverty, in a place, and if the place happens to be non-White, the likelihood of having water issues, goes way up.


SIDNER: And so, when you think about that, and what has happened here, these are just two examples. There are places, in Alabama, and Louisiana, in Texas, where this is happening, or something similar to this has been happening, with the boil water orders that go on and on and on.

And people in the Black communities? Flint was one of those major examples that was just so egregious that the world stood up and listened, and they watched what was happening, and they are still dealing with issues. And one of the big issues is, particularly in the Black community, they do not trust the water.


SIDNER: People are still going, and getting bottled water, because they know that lead can lead to long years of problems, in their children, difficulties learning, hyperactivity, all kinds of things. Cancer risk goes up.

And so, because of that there is a huge distrust, and a warranted one, by folks, in the Black communities, particularly in poor neighborhoods.

BLACKWELL: Abby, how did we get here, with the two of the biggest federal spending bills--


BLACKWELL: --that you have history, have not gotten Jackson, where it needs to be?

FINKENAUER: Well, I'd be asking what has Governor Tate been doing?

And honestly, we know what Governor Tate's been doing. He's been walking around the state, talking about critical race theory, and bathrooms, instead of doing his dang job, as the governor of that state.

In April, this actual year, in 2022, they passed, and he signed a $524 million tax cut, when now his people don't even have drinking water. And, by the way, this, it's not like he doesn't know, right? This is the capital of Mississippi. He knows. And what has he done?

Look, they pass the infrastructure bill, which by the way, only one of Mississippi senators actually voted for, and only one of their congresspersons did, the only Democrat, sitting there, actually voted to bring in that money. But it also relies on the state, and the localities, to do their jobs, and bring those dollars, into the communities, who need them.

The EPA has been trying to work with the city. Yet there's still been holdups, even when it comes to hiring people, for the water facility itself, to keep it running. They knew what was happening. The fact they've been under a boil warning, for the last month, is absurd that this is where we are right now. But again, it is when public servants fail to do their dang jobs, and can't even do the basics.


SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, I think this is one of the worst-run cities in America. I mean, you're upset with Governor Reeves.

But this mayor, and this City Council, have utterly failed. Councilman Banks, we had on, he's been in office since 2017. They've known about the water problems, in Jackson, for quite some time. And I think the infrastructure bill that passed, according to what I learned, from the governor's office, today, is actually going to end up funding some of the fixes, in Jackson, along with some state money. It does take time to do that.

But I think local leadership matters. It's mayors and city councils that manage things, like water. And they have utterly failed the people of Jackson. They've also had issues there with their Police department. They've had issues there with garbage collection.


There's just been a real quality-of-life degradation. And I think it's at the feet of the Mayor and the City Council.

BLACKWELL: You think that the Governor has no responsibility here?

JENNINGS: I think the Governor has stepped in, in an unprecedented situation. They have essentially taken over.

And what I learned today is that the governor's office, a Republican, and the federal presidential administration, run by a Democrat, are actually working together, here. So you get three layers of government, federal, state and local. Federal and state in a bipartisan way have stepped in together.

Abby's right, the EPA is involved. The EPA has been after the City of Jackson, for years, on maintenance, and staffing. And they've not done their job in the city. But Governor Reeves, and Joe Biden's EPA, working in a bipartisan fashion, are actually functioning properly, at the moment.


JENNINGS: But that city has got to step up.

FINKENAUER: And I hear you, to an extent here. But come on! $524 million tax cut! When this is happening in the capital city of Jackson, Mississippi, why hasn't the state government helped to do their actual jobs?

JENNINGS: Who do you think runs the--

FINKENAUER: I mean, this is the actual problem.

JENNINGS: Who do you think runs the water utility?

FINKENAUER: You think these localities actually get the funding, though.

JENNINGS: It's the Mayor.

FINKENAUER: This is how it works. It is on States to help step up, to work with the federal government, and to work with these localities. They knew it was happening. They've watched it happen. And yet, they just haven't cared or done enough. And that's sad that this is the United States of America, and this continues to happen.

I mean, the last thing I'll say is this. I represented Iowa, when the derecho hit. It was horrific. It was a natural disaster. Nobody saw coming. And there, I was, just trying to feed my people, literally. And within 45 minutes, we were out of food. It was the worst feeling, I've ever had, in my life, changed me as a public servant, changed me as human.

And the idea that if I could have known, right? I would have - if I had any idea that I could have stopped it? I would have done everything, I could, to have stopped that.

The governor knew this was coming. The mayor knew this was coming. And what happened? They didn't do their dang jobs.

BLACKWELL: Scott, let me ask you about this, because there was this last-minute change, to Senate Bill 2822, there, in Mississippi, about how the state would spend COVID relief money, on water. It forces Jackson, and only Jackson, to get state approval, before spending money, on water and sewer. Also sets a deadline to spend the money or lose it.

Why set that for only Jackson? If it's the Mayor's responsibility, then allow him, give him the resources, to then do it.

JENNINGS: Yes, to be candid with you, I don't know, not enough maybe with the particulars of the bill.

I do think the state government, because it's in Jackson, has had a fraught relationship, with the local leadership, in Jackson. I mean, look, I think municipal issues, like water, garbage, police? I mean, these things are ultimately the job of the Mayor and the City Council.

And although the state government is there, it's pretty unprecedented, for the state government, to have to take over the major functions, of a city, which is essentially what's happening now.

BLACKWELL: All right, Sara, thank you for being with us.

SIDNER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Abby, and Scott, stick with us.

There's a big election fight, intensifying in Pennsylvania, exactly 10 weeks, before the midterms. Another Trump-Biden duel of sorts, both trying to tip the scales, in the crucial battleground for their parties. Who will win out this time? That's next.



BLACKWELL: Just how critical is Pennsylvania to Democrats' midterm hopes? Well, President Biden is making three stops, there, over the next seven days. And he's visited the state 14 times, since taking office. Today, he spoke in Wilkes-Barre, which is home to one of the nation's biggest swing districts.

Donald Trump will be there, on Saturday, as he tries to bolster three of his chosen candidates, including Republican Senate candidate, Mehmet Oz, who is locked in his tight and now, a bitter race, with Democratic rival, John Fetterman.

Let's bring in our expert now, on Pennsylvania politics, really everything Pennsylvania, Michael Smerconish.

Michael, good to see you.

Let's start here, with what we're just getting in that John Fetterman will not attend a planned debate there. His campaign cited his recovery, from this stroke. How does that inability, to debate Dr. Oz, play into this narrative that Oz is created that he's just not physically up to the job?


Now I know how it feels to live in Iowa, or New Hampshire, with all this attention being heaped on Pennsylvania, as we approach Labor Day weekend, which you know, is the traditional beginning of the fall campaign.

The answer to your question is that from the Oz perspective, this is a very sensitive issue, and they've got to tread very lightly. There was an Oz spokesperson, who I think took a cheap shot, at Fetterman, over his health, in a vegetable reference.

By the same token, I think it's fair to wonder, whether Fetterman is 100 percent, or whether he's going to make a full recovery, from that stroke that he had, three months ago.

He's really been shielded, from the media, thus far. One of the interviews that he did was with closed captioning. He's done two public events. He spoke for about 10 minutes, at one of them, and four minutes at another. So people, rightfully, I think, want to know, how's he doing?

But Oz needs to be very careful in how he handles that issue.

BLACKWELL: How do you think that the Fetterman campaign is handling this recovery? Look, nobody plans, obviously, for a medical emergency, like this, so you have to then react to it. But how do you think the campaign is doing?

SMERCONISH: I think that they were not initially forthcoming, about exactly what had transpired. That's pretty well-documented.

The media campaign that he's running, both paid media, on television, and social media, is exceptional. I mean, it's really, it's really struck a chord, with people, all across the country.

But, in the end, I think, he's going to have to come out and play. In the end, I don't think he can win the campaign, Fetterman, by simply running an organized social media or paid media campaign.

BLACKWELL: Michael, is there any evidence that this statement that you just referenced, from his campaign that said, if John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable, in his life, then maybe he wouldn't have had a stroke, that that's costing him, in parts of Pennsylvania, where otherwise he wouldn't be struggling? Is this creating some problems for Dr. Oz?


SMERCONISH: It's hard to know, Victor. I've looked at all the polls, on this race. And depending on which of those you believe, you could make the argument that both the Senate race, and the gubernatorial race are narrowing.

About a month ago, it looked like both Josh Shapiro, who is the Democratic nominee for governor, and John Fetterman, who's the Democratic nominee for the Senate, had double-digit leads, over Doug Mastriano, and Dr. Oz.

Recently, both Trafalgar, and Emerson, have come out just in the last 48 hours, 72 hours, and have said that the races are really a three- point to four-point race, which is more what I would expect, in Pennsylvania, given as you know that it's a very purple state.

So, 10 weeks left to go. That's an eternity. In a year that seemingly is a strong year, for Republicans, at least we think so, in Pennsylvania, at least the Democrats seem to have the edge.

BLACKWELL: What do you make of President Biden's three stops, in seven days, Wilkes-Barre, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, over the next couple of days?

SMERCONISH: I think he's got roots here. As you know, he was born and spent some of his formative years in Scranton.

I think, Pennsylvania could be the whole ball of wax. I mean, Senate control 50-50, with the Vice President, breaking the ties. In this case, it's a Republican, Pat Toomey, who's hanging it up. So, this is potentially the easiest pickup, for Democrats, to take control of the United States Senate.

I also think it's accessible. I mean, to be candid, I think it's accessible, from Washington. It's accessible from Rehoboth Beach. So, he can probably spend the weekend, in Delaware, at his beach house, and still make it to Pittsburgh, for a Labor Day event.

BLACKWELL: All right, Michael Smerconish, again, my go-to, for anything about Pennsylvania, good to see you.

SMERCONISH: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right.

SMERCONISH: You too. BLACKWELL: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has spent or sent rather approximately 9,000 migrants, on buses to New York, and Washington, D.C., since April. And just in, tonight, we have new details, about how much this political battle, is costing the taxpayers, in Texas.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is here with the brand-new reporting.

So, what do you know?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, it's taken us weeks, to get to this point, to get an answer, from state officials, as far as how much this controversial border busing plan that Governor Abbott announced, back in April, is costing taxpayers.

And now these documents showing these numbers here, just under $13 million, and that is as of August 19th (ph). Now, the numbers are fairly conflicting, in terms of how many migrants have actually been sent, from the southern border, to the northeast, and the cities of Washington, and New York. But if you do the math, it's so calculated, at about $1,400 a person.

Now Victor, I'm from the - from a border region myself, even looked at flights, and what it would cost me, to fly from South Texas, to New York, tomorrow. It's costing about $500. So, it certainly raises some serious questions about the practicality, the cost effectiveness.

Greg Abbott, when he made this announcement that he plan to basically take the border, to the doorstep of lawmakers, in Washington, and to Eric Adams' doorstep, here in New York, made it very clear that he knew that this was not going to come cheap.

But at the same time, it'll be interesting to find out, once we do get a response, if we get a response, from Greg Abbott, if he expected this, because again, if you do the math, it just does not add up, when it comes to the amount of money that the State of Texas is spending.

These are figures that were provided to me, by the Texas Division of Emergency Management. And this was in response to a Request for Information that I filed weeks ago.

And again, laying out that clear number, and it's important to point out that likely continues to grow, tonight, as critics continue to say that this is simply the cost of making a political point, as Governor Abbott seeks reelection.

He maintains, however, from the start that this is meant to provide some relief to some of those communities, along the border that have been burdened with this increased number of migrants.

And we should also mention that Texas is not alone. Arizona also implementing a similar program, and we're in the process of hopefully obtaining similar documents, and similar figures--


SANDOVAL: --from Arizona as well. BLACKWELL: Control Room, put that slate back up, with the numbers.


BLACKWELL: $1,400 a head, for a bus ride here, $12.7 million, for what is essentially is a political stunt from the governor. Polo says a flight is $500. Greyhound will get you there for $295.

Polo Sandoval, with the reporting for us tonight. Thank you, Polo.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: We're expecting a major filing, from the Justice Department. It's in response to the request, by Donald Trump's lawyers, for a Special Master, to oversee the review of items that were retrieved from Mar-a-Lago.

A lot of new details could come out, about the search, and the judge, who ordered this, specifically asked for more details. So keep it right here on CNN TONIGHT.



BLACKWELL: New information, about the FBI's search, of Mar-a-Lago, is about to drop. At any moment, the Justice Department will file its response, to the Trump team's request, for a Special Master. That's the third-party to oversee evidence collected from the ex-president's primary home.

Judge Aileen Cannon, of the Southern District of Florida, set today's deadline. And she has already signaled her, as she called it, preliminary intent to grant this request. But will see? She did grant the DOJ permission to double the size of its brief, if needed, to quote, "Adequately address the legal and factual issues raised by" Donald Trump's filings.

Let's bring in now former federal prosecutor, Shan Wu; Miles Taylor, a former Trump administration Homeland Security Official. And Scott Jennings is back with us.

Shan, let me start with you. These legal and factual issues that they say need to be addressed? What's that mean to you, on what we should expect to see?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, to me, it's a good sign that they asked for more page length. Anytime a lawyer asks for more room to write? That means they think they have something to say.

BLACKWELL: Makes our job, harder, right?

WU: Yes, that's right, yes.

BLACKWELL: But it's still more to say. JENNINGS: But hey, billable hours, right?

WU: That's right. That's right. You got it, yes.

They need, in my opinion, to push back really hard against this. I mean, this is basically a judge trying to meddle, in a criminal investigation. And it sets a very bad precedent.

So, I think there's a lot of room for them to attack, the idea that's been pushed by Trump's lawyers, but it's really important to attack it, because it sets a really dangerous precedent, in my view.


BLACKWELL: Why do you say, "Meddling," here that this judge is - you think the judge is going too far?

WU: Yes, I think she's basically inserting herself, into a criminal investigation.

So, judges typically oversee cases, not investigations. Caveat, grand jury, technically Chief Judge, they bring issues to them. This is not a case yet. It's a search warrant. A magistrate approved it.

And her taking on the case, is really out of line. I mean, I had some hopes when she asked them to flesh it out, explain "Why it's coming to me." But now, she's signaled her intention to grant it. And it's just not appropriate. They don't even use Special Masters, for this type of issues.


JENNINGS: Well, first of all, I'm not a lawyer. But I have seen several episodes of Law & Order, CSI, and other shows. So, let me just weigh in.


JENNINGS: Look, I - it strikes me that the Trump team has asked for something here, because they think it's good for their defense, of this issue.

WU: Yes.

JENNINGS: And so, if you're the Department of Justice, and you're trying to, and this is a question for you, and you're trying to engender public confidence that you're treating Donald Trump fairly, when you're being accused of treating him unfairly, is there a harm in granting this request? I mean, could it - is there anything about a Special Master that would harm their ability, to do what they want to do here?

WU: Oh, there's enormous potential for the harm.

So just one hypothetical, right? They already have an FBI team, reviewing, to say "These things may be privileged. So, we won't have the investigators look at them." Let's say the Special Master looks, and says, "I disagree. I think you've looked at things that are improper," who's going to resolve that? Well, they got to litigate that. It can drag it on forever.

And it sets a precedent, for using civil cases, to jam up a criminal case, which I think is a real problem.


BLACKWELL: Third (ph).


WU: Well I'm in the minority (ph) there, yes.

TAYLOR: A bunch of non-lawyers weighed in. And Shan, I want you to dissect my argument--

WU: Yes.

TAYLOR: --and destroy it, if you disagree with it. But, I think, at least politically, putting aside the criminal piece politically, I don't think this is great news for Trump.

We don't know what's in these documents that are coming out yet tonight. But anytime the Justice Department is getting an opportunity, to go back in front of the judge, ask for more page length, talk about this in more detail, it's another opportunity, for them, to show this is a very serious criminal investigation.

I mean, Trump's entire defense, right now, is that this is politicized. And they've got another opportunity, in a very disciplined, methodical way, to show that this is a real case, which by the way, is being overseen, by an FBI, with a Director, who I worked with, during the Trump administration, a Director that Donald Trump himself appointed.

So, I think, the Justice Department has got more opportunities, here, while it may not be what they want, to at least go out there, and say what they are doing, in a very defensible way that looks apolitical, rather than what Trump is trying to say it is.

WU: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Scott, let me borrow your question. I'm going to bring it over here, to a national security context.

The appointment of a Special Master could create some delay. In the context of national security, does that potentially offer some harm, if this is stretched out, over days, weeks, months, as they're looking through these documents, to determining what the FBI, what the DOJ, can look at? TAYLOR: There are two elements of national security harm here. One is the actual information that sat relatively unsecured at the ex- president's property, for an extended period of time, actually three potential points of harm. There was that one, OK, which is what this case is all about.


TAYLOR: Second potential avenue of harm here, is the actual information that's going to have to be considered, potentially, in the courts. It's going to be hard to prosecute a case, like this, without some of this information potentially coming out to more people.

This is highly-controlled information, from human intelligence sources, signals intelligence sources. And often, in cases like this, it's the government's default, to not want to declassify that information, for these cases. So, that's another potential problem.

But the third bigger aspect of national security harm here is the political intimidation, and violence that's building around this case.

A poll just came out today that showed that 50 percent of strong Republicans said they feel like in the next 10 years, Civil War is likely. That's a YouGov/Economist poll. 50 percent! That's really scary stuff.

And that attitude is being fanned by the President's allies. Ted Cruz just came out and said, he thinks the FBI should be defunded. That sort of rhetoric is ginning up a really potentially combustible political environment.

JENNINGS: If I may push back on that, though, it strikes me that there is, and I agree, a healthy amount of skepticism, of what's happening here, among Republicans, in this case, against Donald Trump.

So, it just strikes me that the Department of Justice ought to not allow, for any openings, for Republicans, or Trump supporters, or even the former President himself, to say "See? They're putting their thumb on the scale against me. They're not allowing me to mount whatever defense that I should be able to mount."

And the other thing I think they could do, and we've talked about it before, is a little transparency here, I think, would go a long way. And I recognize they're national security documents. You can't just put them out, I guess.


But you could show them to the Gang of Eight, in Congress, or the Intelligence committees. And then those people, who have clearance, and we trust them to look at documents, all the time, could come out, and reassure their constituents, and the American people that "Yes. This is a serious case. The documents we saw are of a nature that would warrant the resources that are being put into it."

I think, doing these things would create at least the appearance that everything is being done here, to reassure people that this isn't just a political hit job.

BLACKWELL: But what about the degree of transparency up to this point? I mean, we're seeing parts of the affidavit. The property receipt was released. The search warrant details were released. In many ways, this is unprecedented transparency.

JENNINGS: We don't know what's in the documents. I mean, we've had anonymous--

BLACKWELL: But you're not supposed to know, because they're top secret!

JENNINGS: I understand.

WU: Yes.

JENNINGS: But I'm just telling you the political reality of what--



JENNINGS: --the average Republican would say is, "There's a reason that they're not telling us what's in there, because" whatever, fill in the blank.

TAYLOR: And I like to parry and joust with Scott Jennings. It's one of my favorite things, to disagree with him.


TAYLOR: But sadly, I have to agree with him on this. I think the Justice--

JENNINGS: Why are you sad?

TAYLOR: Yes! I just--

JENNINGS: Actually a happy moment, for you Miles!

TAYLOR: --I just love to hate you, Scott!

JENNINGS: You could come - you could come back to the Republican Party, anytime you feel like it.

BLACKWELL: You're fighting me across the table.

TAYLOR: But I will agree with Scott here, which is that look, the Justice Department's default is probably no, they don't want a Special Master. They think their judgment is right about what documents they need to use, and not.

However, I think, there is a silver lining here for the Justice Department to say, "Look, we don't want a Special Master. But if you do it, here's some parameters you could prescribe around it." And it will look like DOJ is saying, "We got nothing to hide here. This is apolitical. Yes, let someone neutral come in, to decide which document should be in, and without it (ph). And I trust that that process will be operated, in a very fair and transparent manner."

BLACKWELL: All right, we got a little over two hours, until this deadline, for the filing, to come in.

Everybody, stick around. And we've got more to talk about, right after this.



BLACKWELL: We're just moments away, from the DOJ, filing its response, to the Trump team's request, for a Special Master.

Miles Taylor, Scott Jennings, Shan Wu, are back with me now.

Shan, let me start with you. The Trump team, the legal team, has been criticized. Immediately after the portions of the affidavit were released, people close to him said he's got to beef up this legal team.

He has now done that with Chris Kise, former Florida Solicitor General. But really, it doesn't matter, who's on the team, if your client isn't being honest with you, or if they're not listening to your advice.

WU: That's exactly right. I mean, from all reports, he's got to be a very nightmarish kind of client to have. I mean, Evan Corcoran, former federal prosecutor, former colleague of mine, I've great respect for him. I think they're in a very tough spot, particularly with having represented to DOJ that "Hey, nothing more here," and then it turns out that there is more there.

They either have to disavow their client, saying they're misled, which they really don't want to do, as lawyers, or they're going to be questioned themselves, as to whether they were complicit. That's really an impossible situation, to be in. And really, they should be withdrawing, at this point.

And like you said, doesn't matter what lawyer you have. If the client won't listen to you, you're not going to do anything with him.

BLACKWELL: Chris Kise, former Florida Solicitor General, won four cases, before the U.S. Supreme Court. He's got close ties to Florida governor, DeSantis, served on his transition team. What's this mean to you?

JENNINGS: Well, two things you want to have in life that are good. A good barber and a good lawyer! And you want to listen to them both!

BLACKWELL: I don't need the barber as much!

JENNINGS: Yes! But, in this case, I think they clearly upgraded--


JENNINGS: --on their legal teams. So, if you're somebody, who thinks that Donald Trump needs better legal advice, and ought to listen to it, this sounds like a positive development, for him. But he has been known as a bit of a venue-shopper.


JENNINGS: Whether it's law, politics, whatever, he's always looking for someone to agree with his instincts. So well, I guess, we'll see how this person does.

Trump's had some interesting lawyers that over time that had been more TV personalities, than actual lawyers, and they've gotten him in trouble. This--

BLACKWELL: Literal TV personalities!

JENNINGS: Yes. This guy seems like a real lawyer.


JENNINGS: So, good thing.


TAYLOR: I mean, one of the lawyers that he went into this with, was a former or current OAN contributor. I mean, that's?

BLACKWELL: Christina Bobb.



TAYLOR: There was a B-team he was going into this with.

And look, I know, Christina. She's actually a very nice person, very compassionate person. Not the person I would want defending me in a federal case like this.

But I go back to what Shan just said about the client himself. Let's look at what the client just did, in the past 24 hours. Even by Trump's standards, he went on one of the most off-the-rails social media benders, we've seen the ex-president do, in a long time, maybe ever.

BLACKWELL: I think we have it. Yes, here.

TAYLOR: Claiming--

BLACKWELL: Here it is.

TAYLOR: Yes. It's - oh, I wouldn't encourage anyone to scroll through it. But when you look at some of the details in here?

He wants the 2020 election rerun. He wants to be named President again. He promoted QAnon conspiracy theories, in almost the most direct way he ever has. I mean, this was really a vortex. For Republicans, this is really problematic.

Elected Republicans have two really bad options right now. They can either continue to stand behind the ex-president, and get sucked into his vortex. Or they can oppose him, and as we saw, in this social media feed, become the target of his ire, for being RINOs. Either way, he's going to drag them down with this, going into the midterms.

I'm an ex-Republican now. If I was still in the party, I would say this is the last thing we want, going into the midterms. We want to just disassociate, from Donald Trump.

But look, he's like this magically reappearing hand grenade. If they don't throw him away, he's going to keep blowing up in their faces. And not just in the midterms. As we were talking about, during the break, this is going to extend well beyond the midterms, into 2023. This case could go potentially into 2024. So, it's a big and continuing headache, for the Republican Party.

JENNINGS: That'll be a huge issue, by the way, if this were still going on, when the presidential campaign starts, if Donald Trump runs. I mean, the USA Today survey, out this week, I think, 59 percent of Republicans said they wanted him to run. He's a clear front-runner, could be the nominee. I expect he'll have opposition. But he's going to be the front-runner for this.


If this case is still going on--


JENNINGS: --it's a tricky thing, I think, for the government, for the Department of Justice, which works for Joe Biden, who says he's running for re-election that will be investigating a case against Donald Trump, who's also - I mean it's a tricky thing.

WU: Yes.

JENNINGS: I mean, I know the case would have started before the campaign.

WU: Right, right.

JENNINGS: But it'll still be going on.

WU: But I think the point here for DOJ, and Garland, is Garland's got to walk the walk, and walk - and do the talk, they said, he was going to do--

BLACKWELL: Yes. WU: --which is he wants to bring back the integrity, the respect, to the department. And he says, zero politics here. Now, frankly, I wish he'd been more transparent, in the beginning. I mean, I think it would have been fine to say they're looking at Trump, doesn't mean that we're charging him or anything like that.


WU: But the complete radio silence, I think, was a little bit problematic. Now, however, he's kind of in the middle. He's shown a little bit, obviously, due to enormous public pressure, over this.


WU: And now, the question becomes, is it a slippery slope? You start to show more and more, in an effort, to make sure that politically--


WU: --it doesn't look too bad. And prosecutions are not supposed to be political. And the way to stay away from that is just prosecute the case. Don't worry about the politics.

BLACKWELL: All right, we are just about two hours away, from this deadline, for this filing, from the DOJ.

Shan, Miles, Scott, thank you all.

We'll be right back.


BLACKWELL: All right. That's it for us tonight.

I am Victor Blackwell. Be sure to join Alisyn Camerota, and me, on "CNN NEWSROOM," tomorrow, at 2 PM Eastern. I'll be back here, tomorrow night, at 9.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

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