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CNN TONIGHT: Trump Filing: Classified Material "Was To Be Fully Anticipated" In Presidential Records Found At Mar-A-Lago; Mississippi's Capital Without Safe Water For Third Day; Sarah Palin Loses Special Election For Alaska House Seat. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 31, 2022 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Peltola's win flips the seat that was held for nearly half a century, by late Republican congressman, Don Young. And she will become the first Alaskan Native in Congress.

Palin became the Republican vice presidential nominee, in 2008. And in 2009, resigned midway, through her lone term, in the governor's office. She has not run for office, since then. Despite today's setback, she'll get another chance, to the House race, with both Palin and Peltola, vying to fill the term, in a separate election, in November.

A quick reminder, before we go. Tomorrow night, at 8 PM Eastern, join CNN, for special coverage, of President Biden's primetime speech, as he delivers remarks, from Independence National Historical Park, on the continued battle, he says, for the soul of the nation.

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


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: John, thank you very much.

I'm Victor Blackwell. This is CNN TONIGHT.

Down to the wire, right before the deadline, at 8 PM Eastern, the Trump team filed its response, to the Justice Department's blockbuster brief, revealing new details, about its ongoing criminal investigation.

Now, this filing was 19 pages. It did acknowledge that classified material was found at Mar-a-Lago, earlier this month. But essentially, it says that it wasn't a big deal.

Trump's filing says quote, "The purported justification for the initiation of this criminal probe was the alleged discovery of sensitive information contained within the 15 boxes of Presidential records. But this 'discovery,'" in quotes, "was to be fully anticipated, given the very nature of Presidential records. Simply put, the notion that Presidential records would contain sensitive information should have never been cause for alarm."

Now, this is all part of a bid, by the Trump team, to have this Special Master appointed, to review items, taken from Mar-a-Lago, by the FBI. A judge holds a hearing on that tomorrow.

And this comes on the heels of the very serious claims, laid out in the Justice Department's 36-page filing, including another quote here, "Evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room," at the Trump home, "and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government's investigation."

And, for the first time, we've got this visual, of some of the classified documents, seized from Donald Trump's home that also serves as a hotel.

Now, some of those documents are said to be so highly sensitive that even the FBI counterintelligence personnel, and DOJ attorneys, conducting the review, required additional clearances, before they were permitted to review.

And these were found after Trump's lawyers told the DOJ he didn't have any more. Two Sources tell CNN that lawyer was Christina Bobb, who said this, after the search warrant was executed.


CHRISTINA BOBB, ATTORNEY FOR FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: We've been cooperative this entire time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a subpoena issued, that obviously you all didn't comply with, because otherwise there wouldn't have been a raid, if they had everything that they--

BOBB: I wouldn't say--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --that they asked for.

BOBB: --I wouldn't say - obviously we didn't comply with it. We are under the impression that we did comply with it. I'm not aware of them coming back to us, saying "You didn't turn everything over." From our perspective, we--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you think you've turned over everything that was in the subpoena?

BOBB: That was - yes, that was our understanding.


BLACKWELL: The DOJ says that's just not true.

Quote, "That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the 'diligent search' that the former President's counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter."

Now, the government lists the number of additional classified documents, recovered on August 8th, as more than 100, putting the total recovered at 322, at least.

Joining me now, CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig, former federal prosecutor; CNN Political Commentator, Errol Louis; and former Trump Administration National Security official, Olivia Troye, a former counterterror advisor to VP Mike Pence.

Welcome to you all.

Elie, let me start with you. Is this the filing that you expected from the Trump team?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No. It's very, very different than the first filing that opened up this whole issue.

If we go back, last week, when they filed this motion, seeking the Special Master, the bottom line request, the relief they're asking for, "We want a Special Master, an outside independent third-party, to review this evidence," it's fairly mundane. It's fairly ministerial.

But they dressed it up with all sorts of crazy-talk, with wild accusations of political bias, and other sort of over-the-top accusations. And I think that sort of distorted what they were actually asking for.

Now, Trump's legal team seems to have pulled back a little bit. And this filing is actually very narrowly-focused. There are some overstatements, and oversteps, which I'm sure we'll get to.


HONIG: But for the most part, they're saying, "We want a Special Master. Why not? Why does DOJ get to make every decision, on its own, unchecked by any outsider? And DOJ, what are you afraid of? What are you hiding? Why do you not want some outside third-party to come in and have some say?"

BLACKWELL: So, they've changed their tone, pulled back some of the bluster?


BLACKWELL: All right, so let's talk about what is not included in this document. They do not address the claims that were made in the DOJ filing, the additional 76 documents, the evidence that the DOJ says they have that that evidence - documents were concealed, and removed, and obstruction.


When you read that, that they were even three documents, in the 45 Office, what do you think? OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY, COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISOR TO VP MIKE PENCE: Well, I'm just thinking why were these documents there, to begin with?

Again, so I feel like the document admits that the documents were there now, right? And that's what I'm thinking. And so, they didn't give them back the first time. And I feel like it's just one lie after another.

And honestly, while I think that they pulled back the bluster on this, I think it's just another disinformation campaign, is how it read to me. It just continues to go down the path of that.

BLACKWELL: And Errol, we wouldn't know any of these details that came out, in the DOJ filing, if not for this request for a Special Master. We're getting, as I'm calling it, this rolling reveal of this investigation. But it's because of the Trump filings.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, POLITICAL ANCHOR, SPECTRUM NEWS: That's exactly right. They're in a very difficult position.

Even within this filing, it's really remarkable, they spend really the first third of the document, making an argument that, he has a possessory interest that these are his records, "Why are you taking these records?"

But ultimately, that's going to be a problem for him, because they're also sort of arguing, "Well, there's nothing to see here. There's nothing wrong with it. We were going to give it back. If they had just asked us in the right way, we would have gladly given it back," which suggests that well, maybe it's not his.

So, they're in a very difficult position. They are trying to play out clearly, the orders of a client, who has not quite made up his mind, what it is he wants to really rest on.

First, he's the one, who announced it publicly that there was this raid going on that this search was taking place. Then, he comes forward and says that, "Well, I declassified all of it." That doesn't appear in any of the legal filings. They don't say it in this one, or any of the other ones, because he didn't, because he couldn't.

And so, it's unclear what he's saying, to his lawyers, or whether or not indeed he told them fully, what had been disclosed. You've got to feel bad, for some of his attorneys, who are making, good-faith arguments to the court, "Hey, we've given you everything, as far as we know," that he was holding on to, and it turns out there are hundreds of more documents.

HONIG: And to Errol's point, there are a couple of notable oversteps here.

One of them is Trump's team says this was all a standard give-and- take. Standard? There's nothing standard about this. DOJ, the Archives bent over backwards, to accommodate him. The other thing, the quote that you opened this segment with, Victor, where Trump's team says why - "It should have come as no surprise that presidential documents contain classified materials." That's not the surprise. The surprise is that those materials were in a hotel in Florida!



HONIG: So, they did, I think, there are some missteps in here, for sure.

BLACKWELL: Errol mentioned, of course, these attorneys. One of them, Christina Bobb, who you know, who signed this attestation saying, "You got everything. There's no more classified information, at Mar-a- Lago."

She wouldn't have signed that if she knew that there were documents there? You don't think?

TROYE: Well, I don't know. I really question Christina Bobb's motives. I mean, I know Christina Bobb. She's very, very loyal to Donald Trump. I knew her when she was Executive Secretary, at DHS, and she has a habit of lying her way, through things. So I mean, look, I think she's in some serious trouble.


TROYE: And I think that when you're dealing with classified information, anyone who enabled this moment that led to these classified documents, to be down there, at a resort, instead of where they should be, which is properly stored? I think the lives of Intelligence officers are on your head, on your conscience.

And you're impacting the entire Intelligence community now, with the cleanup they're going to have to do, and the damage that you've done. And so, I think you're equally as responsible. You're a part of this.

BLACKWELL: Elie, what's next?

HONIG: Well, tomorrow, we're going to have this hearing, where heaven knows what the arguments will be. But if this is any indication, it looks like the sort of calmer heads, among Trump's legal team, have started to take precedence, over the Christina Bobbs, perhaps.

If I'm Trump's lawyer, here, I'm trying to keep this as narrowly- focused as possible. This is not the time to litigate the entirety of the search. This is not the time, legally or otherwise, to argue whether the search was constitutional or not.

All you're asking for here, if you're Trump's lawyers, is a Special Master, a neutral, independent third-party, to come in, and take a look. We can do this quickly, I would argue. I would agree with DOJ. They said, "We can do it quickly. We agree." If I'm them, I try to keep very narrowly-focused. Judge could rule tomorrow.


HONIG: We could know, by your show, tomorrow, Victor, 2 o'clock, what the ruling is. Or the judge could take it under advisement, maybe rule down the line a little bit.

LOUIS: I mean, they're also asking for the unredacted affidavit.


LOUIS: They're asking for all of the information that the government has. I mean, they clearly want to sort of figure out what all is going on here, and what the extent of their legal exposure is. I don't know if the Department of Justice is going to cooperate with that.

HONIG: They won't and should not get the unredacted affidavit. Nobody gets an affidavit, until they're charged. The half affidavit that was not redacted, that's already half an affidavit more than almost anybody else ever gets at this point.

BLACKWELL: Errol, the first couple of days, after the search, Trump was raising a million dollars a day. There were people around him, saying, "Listen, this is the moment to get into the 2024 race." That seems to have tapered off quite a bit, now.

Is this changing? Is there evidence, this is changing, some around him that the party's view of his standings?

LOUIS: Well, it's interesting. His political standing, may be problematic, at this point. People may decide to hold on to their checkbook, for a week or two, and see how all of this is going to play out.


On the other hand, in this filing, they point out on, I think, on the first page that this is somebody, who is going to be a candidate for president. I mean, it is critical, to his legal defense that he establish himself, as something other than a run-of-the-mill defendant, who was found with hundreds of top secret documents, in their possession.

Because if he's just one more American, who doesn't have executive privilege, who doesn't have the shielding, of his status, as a presidential candidate even, he's in really deep soup.

BLACKWELL: He needs that protection now?

TROYE: Yes. And he needs to be held accountable. I mean, we cannot allow to give this a pass.

Because really, you're undermining our entire rule of law, if this is the case, and we're saying that it's OK to take classified information, it's OK to potentially store it, wherever the heck you want, when there's, we know that plenty of foreign Intelligence people are on that property. I mean, it's prime for that, right?

And so, I think, what are we saying, as the United States, to the rest of the world, and the people that have shared Intelligence with us, if we don't hold the people accountable that were responsible for this?

BLACKWELL: All right, we'll get the first answer, on this Special Master, tomorrow afternoon, possibly.

HONIG: Maybe.

BLACKWELL: All right, Elie Honig, Olivia Troye, thank you both.

Errol, stick with us.

Much more on the evidence laid out, so far, by the Justice Department. What does the former Trump White House Chief of Staff make of all these new developments? Mick Mulvaney is coming up.



BLACKWELL: We just got Team Trump's response, to the Justice Department's explosive filing, moments ago.

But what the DOJ laid out, in its brief, we just can't move on from. New details about where the documents were located, possible concealment, allegations of potential obstruction. And this remarkable photo!

What does a longtime Trump defender think? Earlier, this evening, I spoke to Trump's former Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney.


BLACKWELL: Sir, thank you for being with us tonight.


BLACKWELL: Let's start here, with your reaction, to the details, in this new DOJ filing. Do you think that what's been revealed, in these 36 pages, is damning, for Trump team?

MULVANEY: Well it's certainly damaging. There's no question about that. There's still a lot we don't know. We still don't know what's in those documents. We can talk in a second, about why that's important. But certainly, it doesn't look good that these documents were there.

Keep in mind, the President, or at least the President's lawyer had written a letter to the FBI, saying that there were no confidential documents.

We're hearing information late today that his lawyer, in another case, in the New York case, said that she had been through all of his drawers, all of his document drawers, and so forth, for that New York case. And she did not mention seeing anything. So, that doesn't look good for the President.

I'm not too worried about the documents lying on the floor. I think the President commented today that that wasn't the way he kept his documents. That was my experience. He didn't throw stuff around a room like that. So, some of the - some of the more visual stuff, is probably not as damning, as it looks, in the media.

But certainly, the fact there are documents there, that they're apparently in his desk drawer, undermines the argument that there was nothing there, in the first place, and certainly undermines the arguments that they may have been there accidentally. Sort of hard to say how something ends up accidentally in your desk. So all in all, I think probably a bad day for the President.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Let's talk about those three classified documents that were in the 45 Office desks, according to the DOJ filing. He would have to know that those were in there, right that no one else would have put them there?

MULVANEY: Yes, I've been on TV, a bunch of times, in the last couple weeks, saying, "Look, I know a little bit about how the White House works. I know a little bit how it wasn't working very well, at the end of the first term."

And it's completely possible, they threw a bunch of documents and boxes and just left. And that inadvertence would be a defense here. But if the documents are in the former President's desk, it's sort of hard to say they got there by accident.

So, it looks like one of the potential defenses is sort of undermined, keeping in mind that another potential defense is that the documents may have been declassified, really doesn't matter, for all of the charges that the DOJ says, they might look at pursuing.

The bottom line, Victor, I think, is this, and I had told the President this, when I worked with him, in the Oval Office. It's very rarely the original act that gets people in trouble, it's the attempts, to obstruct or cover up after the fact.

And my guess is that it's an educated guess, at this point, based upon only what we're seeing in the media, that the President may be in more trouble, for how he treated the documents, after the FBI started its investigation than he is because of how they got there, in the first place.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And speaking of the access, potentially, to the desk, to the office, there was this reporting, during the administration that there was this free-wielding access, to the Oval Office that people could just walk in.

Was that the case at Mar-a-Lago as well?

MULVANEY: It was and it wasn't. Keep in mind, the difference is this. It's not their free-wheeling attitude. It's the layers of protection that were in place, institutionally. In the Oval Office, there were people, whose specific job, it was that all the Office of the Staff Secretary, was to make sure that documents were accounted for that, documents were cleaned up, after one meeting before another that documents would be tracked down. There was an institutional sort of layer of protection for the President.

I have no idea if that same level of protection applied at Mar-a-Lago. My gut instinct is that it wasn't. And there wasn't somebody, who was paid, to follow around the President, making sure all the documents were, where they were supposed to be.

So again, an educated guess. My guess is the level of protection for documents, at Mar-a-Lago, didn't approach what they did, in the Oval Office.

BLACKWELL: The DOJ points out that they've developed evidence that government records were likely concealed, and removed, from the Storage Room, and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government's investigation.

I wonder if there's any question in your mind that the former President, or his team, actively tried to hide these documents, the 76 documents, classified documents that were later found in the storage unit, from investigators.


MULVANEY: When surely - if your question is, do I - is there any question in my mind? There still should be. There absolutely should be. There should be a presumption of innocence.

And keep in mind, and I know not everybody grasps this, there's a great deal of distrust, between the President, specifically, and a lot of folks, on the right, generally, over the way the FBI has behaved, over the course of the last five years.

Keep in mind, this is the same FBI that presented false information, to another judge, to spy on the Trump campaign, in 2016. It may be that the FBI interfered in the 2020 election, to prevent information, about the Biden laptop coming out. So, there's a great deal of bad history here.

So, to jump to a conclusion that just because the FBI says, it means, it has to be true, and that this case is lock-stock-and-barrel- finished? I saw some, even Republican commentators say that the FBI had the President, dead to rights. I think that's jumping way too quickly to conclusion, and we need to let this play out, as long as it needs to.

BLACKWELL: What's the universe of people, who would have access, to the 45 Office, to the storage unit, to know that these documents are back (ph)?

MULVANEY: Yes. Not too many, at least in my experience, when I was there. I was only, in the President's office, very, very rarely, and only on very special occasions, like when the Mueller report came out. That's his private area. His practice may have changed.

But I've said from the very beginning, when there was some discussion about who the person might be that was the informant to the FBI, that the universe of people, who might know, for example, about his safe, would be very, very small, six or eight people. I think the people who might have access to his desk were even smaller than that.

Yes, Mar-a-Lago is a public place. It's a club. There's hotel rooms, there, and so forth. And when it's in use, the public areas are widely available. But the President can be a very private man. And I don't think, there's a lot of people, who would have gone into his office, and certainly very, very few people, who would know the contents of his desk.

BLACKWELL: You mentioned this attestation that was signed, by one of his attorneys, Christina Bobb, who said that there was no more classified information, at Mar-a-Lago.

Do you think this is a case of just the President not being honest, with his attorneys, not telling them everything that he knows, less of a nefarious element for the attorney herself?

MULVANEY: Yes, it's sort of hard to say about that. I can't imagine that a lawyer would sign a document, if they were concerned that their client was lying to them, they would want to satisfy themselves that that's accurate.

That being said, I have never been impressed, with the President's legal team. I'm not sure, who his lawyers are today. I'm not even sure, if his lawyers understand the issues they're getting into.

I think that the motion for this Special Master was filed, what folks generally see as two weeks too late, and probably too late, to have an impact on how the documents were handled. So, it's sort of been a clown show, of legal representation.

But I don't think it - I don't think it's possible to say that, "Well, the President lied to his attorney," or "His attorney didn't do a good job." The fact of the matter is this, Victor, is there's a piece of paper, signed by a lawyer, saying something that's false. And the DOJ is not going to take that very well.

BLACKWELL: The first few days, after the search, he was raising a million dollars a day. That tapered off. And now, you're hearing some Republicans say, "Well, maybe we should pause."

MULVANEY: Yes, and raising a million dollars a day, and apparently not sharing it, very aggressively, with other Republicans, it does put - this whole issue puts rank and file Republicans, in a real pickle. They'd much rather be talking about inflation, they'd be talking about the weaknesses of the Biden administration.

And when the President comes out, in the middle of the night, and tweets, or does his new whatever, Truth Social is, saying that, "Based on the Zuckerberg comments, we should redo the 2020 election," all these candidates are now going to have to answer questions, about Donald Trump.

And there's really no good answer. If they get asked the question, "Do you think we should redo the 2020 election?" And they say, "Yes," they lose swing voters. If they say "No," they lose MAGA Trump voters. And again, they lose the opportunity to talk about what they want to talk about.

So, whether it's intentional on the part of the President, or inadvertent, he is becoming more and more an issue, in these midterm elections, and you're starting to feel a little bit of momentum, move away from Republicans, though I still don't think it's nearly as much of a difficulty, for the Republicans, in the midterm that some of the media make it out to be.

BLACKWELL: Mick Mulvaney, thank you.

MULVANEY: Thanks, Victor.


BLACKWELL: An American state capital is in crisis, for a third day, now with no cleaning water. Imagine living like this!


VOICE OF KEHINDE GAYNOR, JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI RESIDENT WITHOUT RUNNING WATER, FATHER: We have dishes piled up, because we cannot wash them. There's no - currently no water coming out of the faucet.

We're not going to be able to flush the toilet.


BLACKWELL: Sad reality, for the people of Jackson, Mississippi, right now. And that man, you just heard, he's about to join us, along with the leader in his city, with more on the conditions there.

Why is this fix taking so long? That's next.



BLACKWELL: Water is now the most precious commodity, in Jackson, Mississippi, an American city, home to more than 150,000 people. We're talking about a state capital here.

We're approaching the fourth straight day, of people living like this, with tubs filled with brown water. They use this, to flush. Very little water pressure, when there is anything flowing. They can't drink what's coming out of the faucet. That's inside.

You head outside, everybody's waiting in line for hours, for the most basic human need, a case of water.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's horrible. And I would like for it to be fixed. Please fix our water.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't nobody pay attention to this until it happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean Jackson has to do something about this. What about the kids? What about the community? What about the people? I mean somebody got to do something.


BLACKWELL: The President declared a federal disaster, to get emergency assistance moving, and a new rented pump, is up and running, at the crippled water plant. The Mayor tells CNN, he's confident water will be restored this week. But the problem goes beyond just refilling an already dangerous system.

I'm joined now by the President of the Jackson City Council, Ashby Foote; as well as Kehinde, a father of three, living through this reality.

Welcome to you both.

Kehinde, let me start with you, Kehinde Gaynor.


BLACKWELL: You've got a family of five, living through this. I can't imagine doing it myself. How are you making it through this crisis?


GAYNOR: We're making it day-by-day. It's extremely difficult. We were dealing with this, just less than a year ago, during a winter freeze. So, that winter freeze kind of helped me to prepare, for what's happening, right now.

And it's devastating, as a father because, we're the providers, of the fam - for the family. And, right now, we are just crippled, because we have no control, of what's happening, on the outside of the home. So, I can only control what's happening on the inside, just trying to be as prepared as possible. And that's what we're - that's what we're doing, right now. That's where we're at.

BLACKWELL: And Kehinde, I understand that even before this most recent emergency, you started getting bottled water, for your family, just because the boil water advisories come so frequent, lasts so long, that now you're paying the water bill, and you've got the water that you have to buy to drink?

GAYNOR: Right. Right. My father-in-law actually made a great suggestion. During the winter freeze, he said, "Listen, you need to subscribe to Kentwood." And that's not to put any particular water brand out there.

But after I did that, we started receiving five gallon water jugs, which helped, to have to keep going out to the grocery store, to buy bottled water. And then when you would go out there, the shelves would be empty, and you'd have to wait in the line, just to get maybe one to two packs of water, which is not very helpful. But it does some help.

So yes, we expense a lot, just to have the basic necessities, to have bottled water, and to have filtered water, in our home.

BLACKWELL: Councilman, when is this going to be fixed? When's the water going to be safe in Jackson?

ASHBY FOOTE, CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Well, that's an unknowable answer to me, and unknowable answer, even to the people that have taken over the plant. Now the state came in, and added resources. And hopefully we'll get some resources from federal government.

There's a lot of different issues, but they're working hard at it. So this is all-hands-on-deck type of situation that I'm glad we've gotten additional resources, to supplement the resources that the city had there.

It's a serious issue, for health issues. And for a number of reasons, it's also a serious issue because of our fire system that relies on water, to the hydrants.


FOOTE: So, both those things, and additional quality-of-life issues, make this something that we need all the resources, possible, to work at this.

BLACKWELL: Now, when the Mayor says that he is confident that water will be restored, this week, you say that it's unknowable, when water service will be restored, and safe? How can those two things be true? Who's wrong here?

FOOTE: I'm not saying anybody's wrong. I think he certainly wants that to be the case.

I talked to the people out at the plant today. They had to stop services today, because they had a 10 million gallon tank that had to be dispersed, and pumped out, and then refilled, so they could bring that water, the new water, up to quality standards, to send out into the system.

And so, we're doing everything, we can, at this point in time, that being the state, and the city, and hopefully the federal system as well, to address these issues. We're also bringing in the National Guard. So, we'll have non-potable water available hopefully, by the weekend.

But as to when we'll be able to have it back, the way it should be? I'm hoping we'll have that in a week or two weeks. But I just am not in a position to estimate when that'll be. BLACKWELL: Now, when you say the way it should be, it should be better than it was, before the water pressure bottomed out. It should be better than a boil water advisory, four times, in the last 18 months.

FOOTE: Sure.

BLACKWELL: Some of them lasting for a month long. So, when you say, it should be, are you telling me that it's going to be a quality that people can drink, and brush their teeth with, without boiling, first, in a week or so? Or it's going to go back to the water--

FOOTE: Well, yes, I would hope--

BLACKWELL: --that you had before?

FOOTE: No. I don't want to go just back to where we were, before this latest episode. We want to go back to where it should be. High quality dependable water system that delivers water that the people can trust, the businesses can trust, and they can plan their lives around it, rather than being the uncertainty that citizens face today, like Kehinde, that makes life much more complicated, than it necessarily should be.

BLACKWELL: So, how do you get there? Because it ain't free, it ain't cheap, and Jackson doesn't have the money.

FOOTE: Well, you're right. Those are all three true. We get there by working hard at it, and using the resources, necessary, to get it up and running. This should be, every citizen should have access to clean, drinkable water, in their homes. And we've got to get working on that goal.


BLACKWELL: Councilman, let me interrupt you, please.

FOOTE: We can't stop.

BLACKWELL: I hear the goal.

FOOTE: Yes, sir.

BLACKWELL: Everyone shares the goal of getting--


BLACKWELL: --water that people can consume--

FOOTE: Right, OK.

BLACKWELL: --and brush their teeth with. What I'm asking you is--

FOOTE: Right.

BLACKWELL: --how do you get there? What is going to happen between now and then, so that Kehinde doesn't have to pay, for a water subscription, he can flush his toilet, his children can bathe themselves? What is going to practically happen between now and then?

FOOTE: We're going to add staff. We've been, for the last, many years, we've been understaffed, and we've also had less than necessary, preventive maintenance applied, to the plant, in a way that can keep it running, in a top-form manner.

And so, we've got to do better at that. In the meantime, we've got to bring in the resources, to staff, additional staff that have the credentials, and the qualifications, to run the plant, around the clock, three shifts a day, seven days a week.

BLACKWELL: Councilman, I know that none of these answers is easy. And, again, Jackson doesn't have the money.


BLACKWELL: I hear what you're saying. It does not get an answer to the question of what will actually happen. I'm hearing goals. I'm hearing hopes.

FOOTE: Right.

BLACKWELL: But these, I understand, are difficult questions that both the City Council and the Governor have to answer.


BLACKWELL: Kehinde, let me come back to you. You heard what the Council President said there.


BLACKWELL: And what's your reaction? There's a hope that you'll get water.


BLACKWELL: But there's really no guarantee or timeline on when that'll happen.

GAYNOR: Right. And I don't fault, the Councilman. I don't fault the Mayor or the Governor. This is a system that has been taxed for years, decades. So, it's not one person's fault. It's not one entity's fault. It's just something that has been - a can that's been kicked down the road, for several years.

And what I'm hoping is that the state government, and the city government, can really work together, to provide whatever resources, is necessary, to help the citizens of Jackson.


GAYNOR: I'm not really interested in the politics side of it. I'm not interested in any of those things. I really want to see all of us come together, to work this thing out, so we can have a good quality of life. That's all I'm asking for is, just a quality of life. BLACKWELL: One last question for you, Councilman.

FOOTE: Yes, sir.

BLACKWELL: Are the Mayor and the Governor speaking to one another?

FOOTE: I'm not sure if they are or not. I'm speaking to both of them. So, I can certainly be an intermediary there.

But the important thing is that as--


GAYNOR: Kehinde.

FOOTE: --my partner, Kehinde, said is that that we get to work on the issues. I can go into more specifics. We've got 12 water towers that need to be filled with water. Right now--

BLACKWELL: I understand that. I understand that.

FOOTE: --the plant doesn't have the capacity. So, and if you wanted more specifics, I can give them to you. But I didn't want to get too deep in the weeds.

BLACKWELL: Listen, I appreciate--

FOOTE: There's a lot of things--

BLACKWELL: --I appreciate--

FOOTE: --the point of the plant to accomplish that.

BLACKWELL: I appreciate that.


BLACKWELL: And no one needs to get deep into politics. But the Mayor and the Governor, in a crisis, need to be communicating. And it's unfortunate that it's - no one's sure, if they are really speaking to one another.

Councilman Foote, Kehinde Gaynor, I thank you both, and we all hope that Jackson gets the water service that it deserves.

GAYNOR: Thanks for having us, Victor.

FOOTE: Thank you, for covering this story.

BLACKWELL: Certainly.

All right, to the big politics news, former vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, will not be making a political comeback, as a U.S. Congresswoman, at least not yet. That's next.


BLACKWELL: New tonight, Sarah Palin has failed, at her most recent attempt, at a political comeback. She lost the special election, for a vacant House seat, in Alaska. That seat is now flipping, to a Democrat, for the first time, since 1972.

Here to discuss, former U.S. Representative, Abby Finkenauer; and CNN Political Commentators, Errol Louis, and S. E. Cupp.

S. E., let me start with you. Sarah Palin?


BLACKWELL: Huge, huge name recognition.

CUPP: I've heard of her.

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes, we have heard of her.

CUPP: Yes.

BLACKWELL: And that - but that was the - that was the play. She had the name recognition, didn't win.

CUPP: Well, I think, Errol and I were just talking about this, a fellow Daily News alum. I've had a Daily News column, for 12 years--


CUPP: --in part because the first column I wrote was about Sarah Palin, is what people thought her name was.

BLACKWELL: You were trying to figure out the pronunciation.

CUPP: No one knew who she was.

BLACKWELL: You never heard of her, right.

CUPP: Right. And I liked her story. I thought it was really impressive. And I thought, as much as she might have hurt John McCain, she also helped John McCain. But we all know what happened after. She resigned the governor. She went on to be Fox-famous, and she wanted to sort of follow fame.

And I get that she looked at this landscape, with the Marjorie Taylor Greenes, and the Matt Gaetzes, and the Lauren Boeberts, and thought, "Great! Finally a chance to be famous, and not have to govern all that much."

But I think Alaskans were really turned off, and felt abandoned, by her, when she left the state, and kind of, in search of more famous pastures.


CUPP: I think that was the result.

BLACKWELL: Is this about Sarah Palin, specifically? There's no kind of lesson that Republicans can glean, from this loss?

LOUIS: Well, I mean, if they wanted to take a lesson from it, it might well be that the local needs. In this case, Alaska gets only one representative, they've got to get it right.

CUPP: Right.

LOUIS: And they've got a salmon shortage. They've got real problems there. They've got climate change issues, just like everywhere else. And it seems like voters don't necessarily want to throw it away, on somebody who's going to get up and sort of do the celebrity thing.

They'll - leadership and celebrity are two different things. And Sarah Palin dropped one, and went in the other direction. I don't know, if they're looking for a celebrity there. That's a lesson that Republicans ought to take to heart.

CUPP: Yes.

ABBY FINKENAUER, (D) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I mean, let's also not sell the Democratic now-winner short here.



FINKENAUER: I mean, Mary Peltola, first Native Alaskan ever to be elected? I think that says something. Also, a Democrat, hasn't won, in what 50 years, in that seat? I mean, that says something. And I think it's going to be, again, just another indicator that Democrats have a heck of a lot more hope, going into 2022 than we did a few months ago.

CUPP: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Let's turn now to Dr. Oz, and some, if not conflicting, inconsistent comments, on abortion.

So, we're going to play first what he said in May of this year, this was during the primary, and then we're going to play something, from an interview he did, in 2019, where he talks about heartbeat bills that were being passed.

Let's watch.



DR. MEHMET OZ, (R) PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I do believe life starts at conception, and I've said that multiple times. If life starts at conception, why do you care what age their hearts start beating at? It's, uh, you know it's still murder, if you were to terminate a child whether their heart's beating or not. TEXT: BREAKFAST CLUB POWER 105.1 FM, MAY 21, 2019.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are your thoughts on Alabama--

OZ: This is crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --and these anti-abortion laws that they're passing in Alabama? Well, that they've passed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that healthy?

OZ: I'm really worried about it.

The other thing is this whole thing about heart beating? I mean, there are electrical changes, at six weeks. But the heart's not beating. If you - if you were - if you were to say, starting from when we can hear the heart, like when the heart's really doing something? That will be different. That's not six weeks, though.


BLACKWELL: Well, which is it? I mean, how could you believe both of those, in the span of three years?

CUPP: Well, you can if you're a politician, and you're running, right? I mean, it's a little unsurprising. Especially Dr. Oz, he's got this sort of label, as flip-flopping, and not really being from Pennsylvania, and running one way, in a primary, and another now, in a general, and not all, that surprising. We've seen a number of candidates--


CUPP: --especially on the abortion issue--



CUPP: --try to moderate, in a general election.

Again, that happens. President Obama, then Barack Obama, famously shifted, after defeating Hillary Clinton, in a primary, went more to the center, on economic issues, and really angered a lot of folks, in sort of the left wings, of his party.

The problem is, this is a super-important issue, this election cycle.


CUPP: People are really paying attention, on both sides--


CUPP: --to what you're saying.

FINKENAUER: Yes. We're seeing this, just like as you said, all across the country here.

In Iowa, for example, I would say Iowa 3 is literally the most important frontline race, in the country that Democrats are trying to protect that, Republicans are trying to win.

And you've got the Republican candidate, who sat there, or stood there, I suppose, during the primary, with his hand up, in the air, saying that he doesn't support any exceptions, for rape, incest, life of the mother, anything. And yet, like a week ago, writes an Op-Ed, for The Des Moines Register, completely changing his story.

But his hand-up-in-the-air moment? That is an ad that Congresswoman Cindy Axne is running, against him, in Iowa 3, and it matters.

CUPP: Yes.

FINKENAUER: I think, again, you're going to see this--


FINKENAUER: --continue to play out, across the country, as we actually hold these Republicans accountable, for where they actually stand.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We're certainly seeing a lot of Republicans, try to moderate those views, or at least the message, of those views.

Abby Finkenauer, S. E. Cupp, Errol Louis, thank you very much.

A tennis match, for the history books, with legend Serena Williams advancing, in what could be her last professional tournament.

Right back, with the latest, on the Greatest of All Time!



BLACKWELL: All right, Serena Williams has just defeated the second- ranked tennis player, in the world, in the second round of the U.S. Open.

Here with us now, former professional tennis player, and ESPN tennis commentator, Patrick McEnroe.

I see you were there, at Flushing Meadows. I saw some of the clips, Patrick. And just the cheers, they were over modulating the microphones. What did it feel like, in there?

PATRICK MCENROE, FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER, HOST, "HOLDING COURT" PODCAST, ESPN TENNIS COMMENTATOR: I'm telling you, Victor, I've been lucky enough to be in this stadium, behind me, for some of the all-time matches, in U.S. Open history, Sampras, Agassi, Serena, against big sister Venus, Federer, Djokovic.

I have never, ever heard what we're hearing, what we heard tonight. We're still hearing, as Serena is doing finishing up, with her on- court interviews.

We saw some vintage Serena Williams, in this match, playing against a legit competitor, and Anett Kontaveit, as you said, the number two ranked player in the world. Serena wins the opening set, a little energy drop, in the second set, loses that one.

But boy oh boy, did she bring some unbelievable tennis, in that final set! 11 aces, Victor, in the match. And get this, 38 winners, for Serena Williams, in this one. And the Serena swan song lives for at least one more night. It's been unbelievable here.

BLACKWELL: It's fantastic! I mean, I am glad to be here. If not here, I would be there, with you, watching it.

But for her now to make it to the third round of a tournament, she has not done that since 2020. And no doubt, the energy, and the love, and the cheer, for every point, at these tournaments, each round that's carrying her through.

MCENROE: Well, there's no doubt Victor that this - we were all coming into this, thinking "OK, this is going to be a celebration, of the greatest career, in tennis, for Serena Williams." 23 major titles, 14 in doubles with her sister, Venus, six U.S. Open titles.

But now, now we're all starting to think - and I think Serena is starting to think "Now, wait a second. I just beat the number two player in the world."

And the way Serena is moving, Victor, her movement has been so off coming - since coming back in Wimbledon. Of course, she didn't play for a year. That was to be expected. But how quickly she is seemingly finding that A-game again?

And I think the dreams that we all had about Serena making a big run, and going deep, in this tournament, are starting to become a potential reality, right now.

BLACKWELL: Yes, she didn't make it beyond the first round, at Wimbledon, there. But to come back, at Flushing Meadows? I had the great fortune of being there, for her last win, in 2014, I think it was, where she won the singles.

She's playing again on tomorrow, the doubles, right? And then Friday--


BLACKWELL: --she's back on the court, for a singles match.


I'm just looking at these pictures. And I can imagine the energy there, celebrities packing the place, standing for every point.

MCENROE: And you know what's so exciting, about watching this version of Serena, Victor? It's because obviously, in her prime, she was so dominant. She was so far above the rest of the field. But now, you're seeing another side to Serena Williams. And that's why - I remember the word she said, "I'm evolving away from tennis," not retiring, "Evolving." And you're kind of seeing her evolve, out here, on the tennis court, because she's more vulnerable as a player.

She's not as dominant as she once was. Nobody could be at age 40. But she's battling as hard as ever. She's trying her you-know-what-off out there. And to see her be able to raise the level, and the fans get behind her?


MCENROE: And imagine all the pressure she's under? Because everybody's so fired up and pumped up about this. And what is she doing? She's delivering yet again. This is going to be quite something, as we get ready for. And you can bank on this, Victor.


MCENROE: Friday night. So, if you can get out here, Friday night, I'll be happy to sit with you, in the stands.

BLACKWELL: I will take you up on that. We just had a picture of that handshake, at the net.

Patrick McEnroe, thank you so much. I'm so happy for Serena!

We'll be right back.

MCENROE: Thank you, Victor.


BLACKWELL: All right, that's it for me.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.