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CNN TONIGHT: Sen. Graham Proposes 15-Week Abortion Ban Nationwide; Ukrainians Reclaim Entire Kharkiv Region, Forcing Russian Retreat; Poll: At Least Half Of U.S. Workforce Are "Quiet Quitters". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 13, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It is a somber night, here in London. Earlier, Queen Elizabeth made her final journey, to Buckingham Palace.

Tomorrow, the Royal Family, will travel, with her coffin, in silent procession, to Westminster Hall, at the Houses of Parliament. The Queen will lie in state, there, until her funeral, on Monday.

Join me, and the rest of the CNN team, for special coverage, tomorrow morning, starting at 8 Eastern. Hope you join us, for that.

The news continues. Want to hand over to Laura Coates, and CNN TONIGHT.


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you so much. We're looking forward to more of that coverage as well.

And tonight, of course, this is CNN TONIGHT. And frankly, everyone, that's a wrap, as they call it. The 2022 primary season is now over, as of tonight. The final polls now closed, in the final states, until their ballots for November's general election, just now eight weeks away. Can you believe it?

We now have New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, the last to hold their primary contests. But even the smallest states, in America, can have quite a big impact, on the balance of power, here in Washington, D.C.

Many eyes, tonight, are on New Hampshire and, of course, this question, who will take on incumbent Democratic senator Maggie Hassan, in the general? Will it be Don Bolduc, a retired Army Brigadier General, who's pushed Trump's election lies? Or State Senate President Chuck Morse, who has the backing of Establishment Republicans?

We're also closely watching a battle between two Trumpers, in New Hampshire's first congressional district, both Matt Mowers and Karoline Leavitt. They both worked in the Trump administration. Now, Leavitt, she actually backs Trump's stolen election claims. According to a new analysis, from FiveThirtyEight, about 60 percent of Americans, will have an election-denier, on the ballot, this fall. That's quite a number! And an estimated 118 election-deniers in House races, and eight election-doubters have at least a 95 percent chance of winning.

What a range, first of all, on the idea of all the ways we can essentially have a synonymous way, of thinking about not believing in the integrity of our elections, the spectrum of deniers, doubters, all of this telling you a lot, about the democracy that we live in today.

Now, despite all the investigations, swirling around Trump, the growing classified documents scandal, which we have new developments on, tonight, and the January 6th hearings, in Congress, well, they're about to ramp up again.

Donald Trump, he remains, in spite of all of that, undeniably a very powerful force, in the GOP. And don't take my word for it. The numbers actually prove it. I mean, his election success rate, so far, this year alone, around 89 percent of Trump-backed candidates have actually won their primaries. That's down a little from 96 percent in 2020. But it's also up from 2018, when his candidates won 88 percent of their contests.

Republicans do face an energized electorate, on the Democratic side, of course, in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned. So, it's quite the timing for, of course, Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham, to have a abortion bill proposal, like this today.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think we should have a law at the federal level that would say, after 15 weeks no abortion on demand, except in cases of rape, incest, to save the life of the mother.

If we take back the House and the Senate, I can assure you we'll have a vote on our bill.


COATES: Hmm? I wonder how other Republicans, and Democrats, felt about that. I mean, some are saying that he just handed Democrats, a great campaign ad, and a talking point.

I mean, the Democratic Leader of the Senate, well, is already pouncing.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What are Democrats doing? Talking about new jobs, cheaper costs.

What are the MAGA Republicans doing? A nationwide abortion ban.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: Senator Graham says that he can, quote, "Assure," a vote to restrict abortions, on the federal level, if Republicans win control of Congress, once again.

But you know, who wouldn't actually confirm that particular point? The Senate's top Republican.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): In terms of scheduling, I think, most of the members, of my Conference, prefer that this be dealt with, at the state level.


COATES: By "Most of" and "Prefer" appears a little bit of a code, going on, right there. I mean, Graham may argue the following, about this bill.


GRAHAM: I don't think this is going to hurt us.


COATES: But clearly, many in his party disagree, with the general election, just so close. I mean, there hasn't been anything close to united show of support, with abortion rights, a lightning rod issue, impacting the votes.

Let's take it down around the table to CNN Political Commentators, David Swerdlick, and Scott Jennings; along with Wisconsin Democratic congressman, Mark Pocan.


I'm so glad that you're all here, today. First of all, let's just start with the sort of the elephant in the room, here. The elephant is symbol of the GOP, of course.

And I do wonder why is Senator Lindsey Graham talking about this? I mean, there are points that the Republicans want to raise, about Joe Biden, the President of the United States, about Democrats, about numbers that are not that favorable.

Why do you think he decided that today was the day, this was the time? Anyone want to read his mind?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, SENIOR STAFF EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES OPINION: Yes. Senator Graham, I think, he wants to burnish his conservative credentials. I think he also thinks he's making some vulnerable Senate Democrats take a tough vote.

The problem for him, though, I think, is that Senator McConnell? Your former boss, I believe, right? Senator McConnell said quietly, what is screaming loudly from this bill, which is that you can either be for states' rights or you can be for this bill. But you can't be for both.

For so long, the issue was supposedly about states' rights, and not having Roe have a blanket ruling for the country. That wouldn't be the case, if this was the law.

COATES: And, by the way, Alito, in his majority opinion, talked about returning to the states. It wasn't that he wanted to punt to the federal government.


COATES: He wanted it to be a state issue, which is probably the reason everyone was up in arms about it.

SWERDLICK: Right. Just one more quick point, I was going to say.


SWERDLICK: For Democrats, this is an issue. As you said, Laura, Senator Shaheen, the Democratic senator, from New Hampshire, who isn't on the ballot, today, tweeted about it, a couple of hours ago, saying "Bring it on. If this is the issue that Republicans want to fight over, we'll fight over this issue."

COATES: Should they bring it on?

REP. MARK POCAN (D-WI): Yes. And I want them to keep talking about Social Security. They want to put it on the chopping block, every five years. That's going to help us in November. And I want them to do every extremist MAGA viewpoint that Donald Trump has.

Because, right now, we're on a roll. We've got a number of bills that we've passed, we can talk about. We're reducing the costs on health care and energy. Gas has gone down, by the end of the month. It might get less than $3 a gallon. We've got some good tailwinds, right now.

So, I would encourage them to talk about every extremist position that only satisfies the Republican primary voter, as much as they want to. That's exactly what we need.

COATES: You agree, obviously, right, I mean, Scott, completely? Nothing to say about that?

JENNINGS: Well, I woke up this morning, quite excited to talk about inflation, there was a terrible report today. And now we're talking about abortion, tonight, so.

COATES: Excited because, of course, you think it'd be harmful for Biden?

JENNINGS: Well, look, I wanted to see the numbers. Because the congressman, here, and the rest of the Democrats, voted for something called the Inflation Reduction Act. And I see that it's not working. And so, I thought we might be talking about that. But now we have Senator Graham's bill, to discuss today. Here's what I think about it. Number one, the underpinning of your argument, David, is that that there are 60 votes, for anything, in the U.S. Senate. And there isn't. There weren't 60 votes, for Chuck Schumer's messaging bill, in the spring. Got 48 votes. Didn't get even get all the Democrats.


JENNINGS: And there wouldn't be 60 votes, for Lindsey Graham's bill. So, what you have had here, is a Democrat and a Republican, putting out messaging bills. And the Republican message--


JENNINGS: --on this bill is something that candidly is not unpopular. 15 weeks, and the exceptions for rape, life of the mother, and incest, it's not unlike what they have in Europe. And it's a pretty standard Republican position, for the last several decades.

What Chuck Schumer said on the floor is a lie. He's - they're trying to position it as a total national ban. That's not true.

What Graham laid out today were principles that most Republicans and, frankly, a majority of voters, if you look at several national polls, would agree with. 15 weeks is fine. The exceptions are good.

The Democrat position is extreme and unpopular, abortion on demand, anytime, all you want.

POCAN: I just heard the Republican--


COATES: Congressman Pocan?

POCAN: I just heard the Republican endorsing what Lindsey Graham did today. And I'm glad. I think they should keep these proposals up.

Because what American people found out is, after all the efforts, to stack the Supreme Court, with some conservative extremists that argue, they went after Roe. They said they were going to do it. 50 years later, they got it done.

We got to believe them, at their word. They're going to ban abortion, if they get in charge. They're going to put Social Security in the chopping block, if they're in charge. This is their agenda.

And, contrast it what the Democrats are doing right now, we've done a lot around efforts, creating jobs, and trying to lower costs, out of the worldwide inflation. But I'm happy with our contrasting, our agenda, what we've actually done, with what they say they're going to do, because those extremist positions, don't play with independents, and moderates.


COATES: Let me ask you that on that point though--

JENNINGS: I want to know - I want to know--

COATES: --let me ask you - let me ask--

JENNINGS: --I want to know what limits you're for. What limits on abortion, could you support?

POCAN: We want to keep the current law. We want to codify Roe. It's been--

JENNINGS: There is no current law.

POCAN: We wanted to keep what law has been for 50 years, in this country.

JENNINGS: Would you have voted for the Schumer bill?

POCAN: What the bottom line is, is the American people are smarter than what you're trying to do, and Lindsey Graham, and others, are trying to spin them around.

JENNINGS: I'm just asking you--


COATES: I want to have - excuse me.

POCAN: They get it.

COATES: Excuse me. I'd like him to answer the question--


COATES: --because you did ask one.


COATES: You had your - your answer is what, sir?

POCAN: I want to go back to exactly where we were, for 50 years, since Roe, in this country. That's exactly what Democrats want to do. We want to codify Roe, and get that done. It's as simple as that. American people support that proposal.

JENNINGS: So no limits? So no limits?

POCAN: The proposal that we've had in this country for 50 years.


JENNINGS: What limits? What limits? Do you believe there should be a time limit on any--

POCAN: I think we should go back to the law--

JENNINGS: --at any moment?

POCAN: I don't know how much more clear I can be other than the law that we've had in this country--

JENNINGS: Other than you won't answer?

POCAN: --for 50 years.

COATES: Don't worry. Merrick Garland has the same concern when people are trying to ask him questions--

POCAN: For something like that.

JENNINGS: Do you - just one--

COATES: --excuse me, over and over again, about the point.



COATES: But, I think, your point, if I'm understanding correctly, is, if you're talking about the law of the land, being Roe, obviously, there was the trimester framework, there was a notion of limitations that was inherent in that balance of power between states' rights, and individual people, as well, and women.

And so, when I hear that - but it's interesting, here we are, a day where, frankly, we could be talking about, if you're a Republican, and supporter of it, inflation, you could be talking about the numbers.


COATES: But because of what Senator Lindsey Graham has done, that's not the conversation. That's his point.

SWERDLICK: Right. And the only thing I was going to add to what you said Scott, a minute ago--


SWERDLICK: --and to your point, Laura, is that the fact that you don't have 60 votes, and that this would only be a cloture vote, and not a vote on final passage, shows that it's about trying to make people take a tough vote, and not actually trying to get to some kind of consensus, on whether it should be 15 weeks, or 20 weeks, or something like Europe.




SWERDLICK: And that I think is what Democrats are going to exploit. COATES: Well, actually right now, I'll give the audience time to go in their dictionaries, and look up the word, cloture, for a second, OK, everyone? Everyone, stick around.

Tonight, there is more information revealing what led to the search to Donald Trump's home as well. And there's also news on the Justice Department's sprawling investigation, into Trump's efforts, to overturn the 2020 election. That's next.

It's spelled C-L-O-T-U-R-E. Enjoy!



COATES: There are new details, tonight, on the sprawling DOJ investigation, in Donald Trump's efforts, to overturn the election.

Subpoenas, obtained by CNN, make it very clear, prosecutors are looking at nearly every aspect of his actions, from the fake electors plot, to the fundraising operation and, really, everything in between and beyond. This is an effort that now has many, in Trump's orbit, very concerned, about maybe being caught up in a federal investigation. And I'm just being kind, when I say the word "Maybe."

That reporting comes from CNN Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez, who's here with me now; with Miles Taylor, the former Chief of Staff to Trump's Homeland Security Secretary; and former Assistant Attorney General, Elliot Williams, is here as well.

Evan, let me begin with you. It's your reporting. I mean, look, you've been talking to sources, forever. I don't even know when you sleep, because we always go--


COATES: --you don't - OK, you don't. There you go! Wonderful!


COATES: What are you learning now about all these subpoenas? And I mean, it's got to have some knees shaking.

PEREZ: It has to, because what the prosecutors seem to be working - again, looking at the subpoenas, the language in the subpoenas, the list of people that they're talking about, the entities that they're looking into it? What it tells us is that they're trying to connect the dots. And a lot of it has to do with the money.

The money that was being fundraised for the rallies, that, of course, was connected to some of the violence that happened before, and on January 6th. The fundraising for the Save America PAC, which is the big money-raising vehicle that the former President has used, since the election.

There is the fundraising for trying to get, and whether people were being paid, to push the idea that there was fraud and, to organize these electors that were supposed to help keep the former President in office, even though he had lost the election.

So, the underpinning of all of this, is following the money, which is something we'd heard the Justice Department was going to do, and clearly is now being done. And look, the broadness of this is what has stunned people, because they clearly are picking up on every single person, who was connected to this effort.

COATES: On the one hand, you hear broad, and you think, well, they're trying to cover all their bases. But then, there's a talking point that will come up, like this must be a fishing expedition. Is it?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it can't be. Because, in order to - so, for instance, to execute a search warrant, on Boris Epshteyn's phone, a former Trump aide, Boris Epshteyn's phone search? We're going to get a search warrant. A judge has found there's probable cause, it's more likely than not that a crime was committed, and that he - and it has been established that there's evidence on that phone like it's not like--

COATES: I mean, it has to be particularized.

WILLIAMS: But it's not like - it's not--

COATES: It has to be clear and narrow.

WILLIAMS: You can't just say, "You know what? I want to get your phone. Let's just send out letters to 30 people and have them send their telephones in." And that's the way evidence-gathering works. There is some basis that has to be established by a court.

And, in fact, if there isn't a basis for it, if you get to trial, it gets thrown out anyway, so, because you can't build a trial on fishing expeditions. So, this idea that you hear that it's all a fishing expedition, and it's a witch-hunt, we have checks in the system that prevent that from happening.

COATES: But you also want to be broad enough--


COATES: --to cover the different things you're investigating. And you're talking about the idea of documents, or the idea of what led up to January 6th, as a premise, as a proposition. You got to go quite broad.

When you hear the idea, Miles, of looking at fundraising?


COATES: And people who owe the money? I think money, I think a lot of hands have touched it. Is this broader than you think, we all expected it to be? TAYLOR: It looks like the Justice Department is coming back to what this was, at the beginning, which was a very broad multi-month multi- pronged conspiracy, to overturn an election.

Of course, it's going to be broad. Of course, it's going to involve lots of people, lots of cell phones. I think we've only still scratched the surface of it. I mean, each of these targets, is probably going to lead to more targets, more people, more conversations, as the Justice Department gets the full picture.

Now, for years, we've been talking about people, in Trump's orbit, who kind of roll their eyes, every time there's a new investigation into Trump. Well, now those same people are rolling into a ball, because they're getting pulled into the investigation, with subpoenas. And, Evan, just hit on part of it.

But think about the whole picture right now that's enveloping these people. You've got the Manhattan D.A., who's looking into the Trump Organization. You've got the New York Attorney General, who I think, is also looking into the Trump Organization, in a civil probe. You've got the election probe in Georgia.


You've got the DOJ Mar-a-Lago classified documents probe. And then, separately at DOJ, we thought we'd seen investigations, into fraudulent money, related to the election, and Trump, fraudulent ballots and electors, related to Trump.

COATES: This is why Evan Perez can't sleep! Are you--

TAYLOR: Well--

PEREZ: Well and--

COATES: Are you having an insomniac reaction, to this right now? Or just that--

PEREZ: Yes, it's triggering, right now.

TAYLOR: Oh, yes. And now, they're rolling into what appears to be one mega investigation, because it is.

WILLIAMS: Mega MAGA investigation. No, but here's--

TAYLOR: A mega MAGA investigation.

WILLIAMS: But the other thing about money as evidence were, for the most part, unless things get really shady, you're not dealing in suitcases of cash.

What you are dealing with are bank transactions, bank records, and so on. And they can be traced and tracked, you can find out, who is sending money, who's receiving money, and that's actually very valuable evidence, because it doesn't lie. It's not like someone's testimony that-- PEREZ: There's a paper trail.


WILLIAMS: --paper trail, whenever you have money in these kinds of investigations.

COATES: Speaking of paper trails, today, the judge released even more of that previously redacted Mar-a-Lago affidavit and discussion point about what happened down there. What's the latest?

PEREZ: Well, we know - a lot of this was matching up to what we heard, in some of the litigation, over the Special Master.

But what we saw, in this document, is some of the markings that came from those 38 documents that they got, back in June. It gives you a sense that this is why there was so much alarm, when they came back, with those documents, and why they decided they needed to go back in, to do this very extraordinary search, at Mar-a-Lago, in last month.

TAYLOR: Well, and we also can't even be sure that this is the end of it.


TAYLOR: I don't want to start conspiracy theories, here. But the National Archives and Records Administration has now said they're not entirely sure--

PEREZ: They're not sure.

TAYLOR: --they have all of the documents.

And again, caveat here, I don't know if this is anything to look into, but we've had people sleuthing on the web, that have shown that in May, when Donald Trump was asked, "Do you have any more documents," just a couple days later, he flew out of Mar-a-Lago, to Bedminster, and people were seen loading, cardboard boxes, onto the plane. Could they've had innocuous things in there and stuffed animals? Maybe. But it seemed a little bit fishy.

And I fully suspect the Justice Department is looking at other locations that the ex-president might have potentially taken documents. The fact that they're not confident makes me not confident. And look, he had a whole bunch of empty folders that said they held classified information. And inside, there was nothing.

COATES: I remember that.

TAYLOR: Where is that information now?

COATES: I got to tell you, I have many questions, if there was a Teddy Ruxpin inside the boxes.

WILLIAMS: Oh, oh, deep!

COATES: I brought it back. I brought it back Teddy Ruxpin. No, not just a stuffed animal. I'm specific about it. Who know?

TAYLOR: I think maybe games like Tiddlywinks. He's an old-timer. So, that's probably what he's got in here.

COATES: Tiddlywinks? I have not - and I'm getting clowned for Teddy Ruxpin? OK, we're leaving it there!


COATES: Evan Perez, Miles Taylor, Elliot Williams, thank you so much.

I had a Teddy Ruxpin, by the way. It was incredible.


COATES: There's also incredible news in Ukraine's fight for freedom. Nearly seven months into the war, Ukraine has Russians, on the run, retaking parts of occupied territory, in what can only be described as a stunning counteroffensive.

We're going to look at this amazing turnaround, and what it really means, for the future of the war, with a former spokesperson, for Ukraine's President Zelenskyy. She's next.



COATES: In the wake of Ukraine's stunning advance, in northeastern Ukraine, the Pentagon now reports a number of Russian forces, are retreating, and crossing back, into Russia, from the Kharkiv region.

This time lapse shows the enormous gains, Ukrainian troops have made, over just the last 10 days. The Ukrainian President says it amounts to 2,300 square miles of land, about a 10th of the nation's landmass.

CNN was the first news organization to enter one of the reclaimed cities, just this past Saturday, and it bore witness to the destruction that was left behind. Talking, boxes of abandoned Russian equipment and tanks, they're now in Ukrainian possession.

But is this a turning point, in the war, overall? Well, the White House expressed some cautious optimism.


JOHN KIRBY, NSC COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: I think what you're seeing is certainly a shift in momentum by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, particularly in the north.

I would let President Zelenskyy determine and decide whether he feels, militarily, they've reached a turning point. But clearly, at least in the Donbas, there's a sense of momentum, here, by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. And so, what we're going to do is continue to support them, as best we can.


COATES: Well joining me, tonight, is a Ukrainian journalist, and the former spokesperson, for President Zelenskyy, Iuliia Mendel. She's also the Author of "The Fight of Our Lives," a really fascinating and compelling read, as well, about your time, with the President, as the press secretary, as well.

And I'm curious, Iuliia - first of all, welcome.

But you heard the person just speaking, and talking about the idea of whether a turnaround was the right terminology to use. What do you make of these successes, we're hearing about now, particularly given the context of where we have been over more than six months?

IULIIA MENDEL, FORMER SPOKESPERSON FOR UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY, AUTHOR, "THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES," UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST: Well, thank you for having me. And, of course, the recent developments are a celebration, for all the Ukrainians, because we have almost returned all the Kharkiv region, which is the northeastern region, and we are advancing to Donbas.

Except that - except this, we saw that there are already settlements that are liberated, at my home region, which is in the south of Ukraine, which is Kherson region. So, of course, Ukrainians are celebrating. But it doesn't mean that the war is over.

And the recent information that came from the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Olha Stefanishyna that is responsible for Euro integration in Ukraine says that there were already attempts, from a Russian leadership official, and non-official, after this counteroffensive, by Ukrainians, to try to negotiate.

But, in my book, "The Fight of Our Lives," I'm explaining actually how Russians were negotiating the peace, with Ukraine, for eight years, and how they failed, and instead of achieving peace, they started this large-scale war.

So, Ukrainians are very cautious about these fragile diplomatic attempts of Russia, and they want to show the strength, to Putin, because this is the only thing that Putin understands, and to regain more territories.


As far as I know, President Zelenskyy, stands now, on the position that was already fixed, on the paper, as security guarantees, to return the whole territory of Ukraine, taken by Russia.

COATES: So, when you think about that, and the idea of how you are able to define, or think about what success would look like, for Russia, versus, of course, Ukraine, I wonder what you attribute, and what the leadership in Ukraine attributes, to some of the gains they've had.

There's been a lot of support, and aid, from our American military system, other nations as well. But there certainly has been more that has been needed. There's still a lot more to do to accomplish. This has been a huge undertaking. And it really is a battle for the democracy.

What do you attribute to the success so far?

MENDEL: Well, I'm sure that every Ukrainian feels that American people are friends, and they trust really that American people will stand with Ukrainians till the very end. Because, we both share the value of freedom, we understand it as a fundamental value for our people.

But in fact, there is only one response to the question, when should the help to Ukraine finish? And the answer is, the help should finish, when Russia finishes its cruel war, against Ukraine.

Because Russia keeps still sending missiles, killing Ukrainians, maintain genocidal practices, in occupied territories. And there is no other way than just kicking out their asses, from my country. And this will be already the partial victory for Ukraine.

The second step is, of course, to rebuild the country, so that the first, the biggest democracy, on post-Soviet region, can thrive.

COATES: You write about, in your book, "The Fight of Our Lives," the role that you personally had, as a woman, in what has often been a very male-dominated field, in Ukraine, in particular, and government, and of course, your individual role.

And there is a group that I cannot overlook, obviously, as a woman myself. And that is about the women, who are taking such an extraordinary role, in this fight for the democracy, and the fight for the battle in Ukraine. And there's even a "New York Times" article, and highlighted this particular area, talking about "War Brings Ukraine's Women New Roles And New Dangers."

And talk to me, a little bit, about just how much the role of women, has transformed, during this invasion.

MENDEL: Well, you're absolutely right. Women are holding the frontline, literally fighting, with Russians, but also, they are holding the rear (ph). I was also meeting a lot of females, who turned to be snipers, who took rifles, and went to the battlefield. And they are doing really great shoulder-to-shoulder, with male.

But also, females have taken this direction, of humanitarian coordination aid. They are bringing the cars and ambulances from abroad, and they are helping with everything that is needed.

And one of the particular roles, which is for me, very amazing that so many females were pregnant, standing - staying during the war, in the country, and were delivering kids, in their bomb shelters. This is some role that is really very difficult to imagine. But they were doing this, to keep their kids safe, to deliver safely.

And now, these young mothers, they actually experience these motherhood, through the war. I think this is an amazing experience. And I feel these females are also heroes. So, females are actually holding strong, there, in Ukraine, and we are as proud with them, as with every male on our frontlines.

COATES: So important to hear this. And thank you for being a part of our show, tonight. And the book you wrote, really, it's incredible, to hear about your unique perspective, and what we're seeing on the ground. I know there's a long way to go. Thank you. Thank you, Iuliia Mendel, I appreciate it.

MENDEL: Thank you for having me.

COATES: Well, in this country, the next major economic crisis may be heading down the tracks, so to speak, particularly looking at the potential freight rail strike that could mean something for your wallet, for store shelves, and President Biden's efforts, to keep Democrats, in control of Congress. Plus, the impact's already being felt, all across this country.

We'll talk about it next.



COATES: Friday looms as a potential economic time bomb. We could just be days away, from the first major rail strike, in this country, in 30 years. And we're already seeing an impact, with Amtrak canceling some of its routes.

But if there is a strike, we're all going to feel that strike. It would already mean high prices getting even worse, especially when it comes to feeding your family. Just today, new data shows prices climbing again, in August. High grocery costs driving a very big part of that. And it's a bad situation poised to get even worse.

No option actually exists that can handle the almost 30 percent of goods that are shipped on our trains. Then when it comes to food, we're talking about 20 percent of the grain shipped that way. So, if the trains stopped running, it will be impossible, to keep the grocery shelves full.

When you factor in a national shortage of truck drivers, there's actually not a good backup, for things, from coal to, well, everything else being shipped, even to crude oil, to steel, to lumber, or car parts. We're talking about a potential economic impact, of close to $2 billion, with a B, billion dollars, a day.

So, even as the President celebrates, passing the Inflation Reduction Act, his administration is urgently trying to avoid the strike, I'm talking about. Agencies, from Department of Transportation, and Labor, to the Pentagon, FEMA's in it, HHS and Energy, are all trying to come up with contingencies.

The President himself is famously the guy, who took the train, to work, for years, right? Even when he left Washington, he took the Amtrak, after the end of the Obama administration. Remember that? And he campaigned hard on being on the side of labor.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I promise to be the most pro-union president in American history.

The most pro-union president in history.

The most pro-union president.

The most pro-union president you have ever seen.


I promised you that I'd be the most pro-union president.


COATES: Well I wonder if that will last till the end of the week. I mean, the reality is Joe Biden's already done all that he legally can do. In July, he set up an emergency board, to mediate the dispute. That's how we got the so-called cooling off period that's going to end this Friday.

And, at this point, the two sides either agree to keep talking, or there's a strike, or Congress could step in. The Railway Labor Act gives Congress and, by the way, only Congress, the power to keep those trains moving.

And we just so happen to have a member of Congress, who is on the Labor Committee, here at the table.

I'm glad you're here talking about these issues in particular. Because look, I mean, when you think about it, first of all, many people might not realize, Congressman that this strike potentially is going to impact all of our lives. The numbers are already there.

Tell me, do you anticipate that Congress is going to step in, in some way, if this actually comes this Friday?

POCAN: Yes. I don't think so. I think what you often find, in these cases, just happened in, where I come from, in Madison, Wisconsin, SEIU and the UW Health reached agreement the morning, of the start of a strike date. Often you need deadlines, just like Congress needs deadlines, to get both parties to really put their best offer.

In this case, there's two unions left that don't have agreements. It's over unpaid time off for sick. So, for being sick now, even sick pay, just unpaid time. And the companies have rolled back staffing, over the last several years, and made it really tough. And these are 12- hour shifts, and you're on call at any given time.

I think unions are at a 60-year high, right now. I'm a union member, three decades, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. I think that people understand that workers have not been getting their - the right efforts, to get what they really deserve, for a long time. During the Trump era, we watched all these rollbacks, of the National Labor Relations Board, and other rules. People support workers. And there is international inflation, there's no question, across the globe. At the same time, we want workers to be treated fairly. And, I think, at the end of the day, there will be resolution to this. I don't think you need Congress to step in.

But I'm glad to see organizing, with Starbucks workers, with Amazon workers, with REI, all these other areas that haven't been organized before. This is a moment, for workers, to have their voices be heard, about their working conditions, the safety conditions, and their pay and benefits. And I support the railroad workers, right now.

COATES: I mean, I think you're right, theoretically, of course, everyone wants to support those who ought to have fair labor or fair conditions and fair work environments.

At the same token, let's just be careful (ph), we have a bit of a selfish mentality, at times, in this country when it comes to, look, can I really compartmentalize, it was going to make me spend more in the end. Do you think, Scott that American voters will align with that thought?

JENNINGS: No. I mean, if the trains stopped running, it's everything from food, which you mentioned, goods, like the chlorine, they used to treat the water, at the water treatment plants. That moves by rail, in many cases. I mean, Amtrak, lot of people take the Amtrak, every day. I mean, the implications of this will be felt, in every community, in America.

And so no, I don't think Americans are going to like that, because they're already suffering through massive 40-year-high inflation. They just suffered through a summer, of very high gas prices.

You can - you still go into towns, in America, where there's labor shortages, people can't find enough workers, to keep restaurants, and coffee shops, open, in different places.

And so, I really do think the American people have been stretched to the brink. And you throw a railroad strike on top of it? I mean, you say that the companies aren't making a good offer. Then why did most of the unions already agree? You've got two holdouts here.

I think the - first of all, I think that Congress could and should act, because it's an - it really could be a national security issue.

But the President here, the guy, who says he's the union president, I hope he's picking up the phone, and telling these holdout unions, "You aren't going to strike. You can't do this to this country." For his own political health, he ought to be doing that.

COATES: Well let me tell you, Senator Dick Durbin, today, said, I don't think it's likely we're going to intervene. The House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that Congress would pass legislation, if needed. There's a little bit of a distinction, what might happen.

But do you see this? I mean, on the other hand, Scott talks about maybe the pessimism around it. SWERDLICK: Yes.

COATES: But you know, what? On other hand, it's not as if the union members are not themselves Americans, and voters, not themselves taxpayers, and thinking about their own rights. I mean, they're as much part of the electorate, as everyone else would. I mean, is that discounting them?

SWERDLICK: No. And I'm not sure how this gets off. To Scott's point, I think, there's - these two unions are still holding out, out of the 12, because they have the leverage, right now. They know President Biden can't afford a railroad strike.

To the Congressman's point, I think that a deadline will help. A strike, or a threat of a strike, can be an opportunity, for a president. Let's think way, way, way back to President Reagan, breaking the air traffic controllers strike. I don't think this is the same situation. It might be the inverse.


To me, it seems a little bit like President Biden might just have to find a way, to get these companies, to move a little bit toward the unions, make a deal. Just one more quick point that I was going to say was, it's what the Biden administration can't afford to do, Congressman, is they can't afford to wait.

If there's going to be a vote in Congress, if the leadership is going to force something with the Railroad Act, if the President is going to put his thumb on the scale, they've got to do it by Friday. They can't let it drag--

POCAN: And tomorrow morning, White House is already with Secretary Walsh convening the parties. A strike is good for no one. It's not good for workers.

COATES: Right.

POCAN: It's not good for the companies. It's not good for the American people.

But mistreating workers is something that we have to stand up for. And I think everyone understands, if you can't even have unpaid time off, to be sick, what kind of a job is that, right? I mean, the companies have just gone too far, with too many of the rules have all been in their favor.

Finally, this is a time period. That's why at a 60-year-high, people's opinion are on behalf of workers. I hope the railroad workers get what they deserve. They should - these companies should come to the table. And, at the end of the day, I think this will be a done story. But more workers in this country will have a little more say, in their workplace. And that's a very good thing.

COATES: And I'll tell you, we'll see what happens, on Friday. Nothing like a deadline, to make people, get to the table. POCAN: Yes.

COATES: And they are a very important part of our economy, as we've seen.


COATES: Stick around, everyone. We're going to have a much very different kind of labor issue, ahead. Have you heard about this thing called quiet quitting? Are you doing it right now at the job that you have these days?

Well, maybe there's a better alternative, even by adding something to your busy life. We'll talk about that, in the conversation, next.



COATES: All right, forget about hustle culture. That apparently is out. And now, quiet quitting is in. That's according to a new survey, from Gallup that finds quiet quitters make up at least half of the United States' workforce. And that's probably more. Maybe the people who took the poll were quiet quitting. Who knows?

The idea of a person doing the bare minimum is what it's known as, quiet quitting. And frankly, it's not that new. But there is something to be said about just how many people, now identify, with the term, and think of themselves, as quiet quitters. So, what's really going on here? Is it about the workplace or the workers themselves?

Back with me now, for the conversation, David Swerdlick, Congressman Mark Pocan, and Scott Jennings, who laughed, when I said "Who is it about?" So, I'm going to go right to you. Who's it about Scott?




COATES: Are you quiet quitting, right now, phoning it in?

JENNINGS: Only Gen Z, by the way, could be so myopic that they think they invented slacking off. I mean, when we did, when we do it, we're smart enough not to announce. We just--


JENNINGS: I mean, look--


JENNINGS: --go to work, do your job, hustle. That's, that's the American - that's how you get ahead in life. You did it. You're a small business owner. You do it at your job. I know for a fact you do it. Go, do your job, and hustle.

This idea, this bare minimum America? That makes me sick, to be honest with you. I hate that value, bare minimum America. I want an America, where everybody hustles, and creates a better future, for their kids, and then they instill that value. That to me is the American Dream. And so, I don't know, it just makes me very uncomfortable.

COATES: I mean, I'm an 80s baby. So, I can't claim to be a Gen Z. But I will tell you, I mean, if I'm - if you think about what the philosophy is, it's about saying, why should I lean in, if I don't get the benefits of it?

It's kind of what people used to talk about before, and say, "You know what? I hate having to paying in Social Security, because by the time I'm that age, I'm not going to get anything out of it." That's not the right mentality to have. We can all start nodding our heads. But that's what it's about.

So, is it really a reflection of look, the workforce isn't working for the American worker that the American Dream, is that elusive?

SWERDLICK: So, I agree with Scott that hustling is probably the better way, to go, in the long-term. If you want to get ahead for yourself, do what you want, in your career, provide for your family, so on and so on.

But yes, we came up in a simpler time. It's tougher out there for people in Gen Z now, who are trying to figure out what the career paths are. It's not just, join a union, and get a job, or go to college, and get a job. And I think that plays into it. I also think the return to work issue plays into it. People like me are fortunate enough to work remotely.

There are a lot of people, who are out there, working in customer- facing or client-facing positions, out there. And over the last two years, it's tough. You combine that with the fact that we have low, low, low unemployment, and people know there are other jobs? And I think it's a tricky balance.

COATES: In fact, there's a poll we have out that talks about those who prefer to work on-site versus off-site. Let's put it up, for a second, for people to look at, because it's pretty interesting.

Those who prefer - pre-pandemic, it was 60 percent of U.S. adults prefer to work on site. Now, it's 6 percent. I mean, that's a heck of a number. I mean, Congressman, you can't really phone it in.

POCAN: No. But--

COATES: I mean, maybe some of your colleagues do.

JENNINGS: No. You can't. You have proxy - you still have proxy voting.

COATES: I mean?

JENNINGS: You got to vote. COATES: You got that. But?

POCAN: This, I agree, this is just a change coming out of COVID. The other thing we're seeing as an employer that people are doing short stints at a job, and then the stints at a job, and they leave.


POCAN: And I always look for someone, who's got some longevity, in a job, because you want to know that they've done it. They think that's not valuable. I do think at some point, that'll change.

But I think this is fundamentally part of why we just had the last conversation, about unions. People are not necessarily getting treated with the respect and dignity they want, at their workplace.

In some cases, that means you organize. In some cases, it means they're doing quiet quitting. I don't personally think that's the most effective way. But this is part of maybe that change we're seeing, and then coming back out of COVID. Hopefully, at the end of the day, it goes more towards the organizing efforts, not quite quitting.

But I do think, employers have had an awful lot of the cards, all the Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces, in their hands. And a lot of workers have twos, threes and fours. And you're going to see, I think, more efforts, to get a voice, in your workplace, whether it be quiet quitting, or again, I think unionization is the real answer.

COATES: Speaking of jokers, you're smug right now. What's going on - what's happening, right now? You think that--


COATES: Yes, you, Scott. Do you think that this is a matter of people being slothful and lazy? Or is it a matter of, look--


COATES: --I mean, why should people, and I'm going to play the devil's advocate, why should people go--


COATES: --above, and beyond, and get the bare minimum in return?

JENNINGS: Yes, actually--

COATES: You don't even have a living wage issue that's universal. So?


JENNINGS: I do think we've made it too easy to not have a job in this country. And some of it was COVID relief. And we've come out of this pandemic. But I think we've made it a little too easy, to just not show up for work. And, in my view, the better American culture would be to instill the value of showing up, for work, is a good thing, not a bad thing, and showing up and hustling is a good thing, and not something for suckers. And that working is required, and that you just can't skate by, and live by, not working, or occasionally working, or quitting, when you feel like it. It's just not how--

POCAN: The other thing--

JENNINGS: --that's not how I was brought up.

POCAN: The other thing is there's so many other opportunities, you can leave a job, and get another job--

JENNINGS: But some people don't go to any opportunity.

POCAN: --immediately, the next hour, not even the next day. And that's part of, I think, why we're seeing some of this. It's just very easy to find a job right now.

COATES: Yes. Well, we will see. It doesn't end here. None of you quiet quit on the set just now. Thank you so much.

Thank you, David Swerdlick, Congressman Mark Pocan, and Scott Jennings.

We'll be right back.


COATES: Hey, thanks for watching, everyone.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT," live from London, starts right now.

Hey, Don Lemon?