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CNN TONIGHT: NY A.G. Sues Trump, Three Of His Children & Their Company For Fraud; Ginni Thomas Agrees To January 6 Committee Interview; Biden Tells The United Nations That Putin's Attempts To "Extinguish" Ukraine Should "Make Your Blood Run Cold". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 21, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Stephen talks about it, in just extraordinary ways that I found really helpful and, I think, you will, as well.

You can find "All There Is," on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. I hope you give it a listen. I hope you let me know what you think.

That's it for us, tonight. Want to - the news continues. Sara Sidner joins us, right now.


SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you so much.

I am Sara Sidner. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

There's big news, this evening, in the Trump classified documents legal battle, a win for the Justice Department. The DOJ was just granted permission, by an Appeals court, to resume its work, examining documents, marked "Classified" that were seized, from Donald Trump's home, last month.

This emergency intervention lifts a trial judge's hold that blocked investigators' work, while a Special Master stepped in. A lot more ahead, on what that means, for this case, as it goes forward.

There is also a major development, in the January 6 committee's battle, for testimony, from someone, who tried to help Donald Trump, overturn the 2020 election, who is also the wife, of a current Supreme Court justice.

Meanwhile, the legal battles are piling up, for the ex-president. New York's Attorney General just ratcheted things up, a bit, today, filing a new civil lawsuit, and noted what her office found, could lead to criminal charges, against Donald Trump.


LETITIA JAMES, (D) NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It's the art of the steal.


SIDNER: Letitia James filed a sweeping civil lawsuit, not just against Donald Trump, but three of his adult children, and the Trump Organization, as a whole.

James alleges, they were all involved, in a staggering, as she called it, fraud scheme, lasting over a decade, so the former President could enrich himself. They stand accused of lying to lenders, lying to insurance brokers, lying to tax officials, and more.


JAMES: Manipulated the value of assets.

Falsifying business records.

False financial statements.

Insurance fraud.

Each statement was personally certified, as accurate, by Mr. Trump.

The pattern of fraud and deception that was used by Mr. Trump, at the Trump Organization, for their own financial benefit, is astounding.

And it is all in stark violation of the law.


SIDNER: James claims, there are possible violations of state and federal laws. But her office lacks authority, to file criminal charges. So, she referred her findings, to the federal prosecutors, in Manhattan, and the IRS.

What she's seeking, is in this particular suit, the civil suit, is to pay Trump, or have Donald Trump pay, a $250 million judgment, a ban, on the Trumps, running any New York businesses for good, and to ban Donald Trump, and the Trump Organization, from buying commercial real estate, in New York, for five years.

Donald Trump has responded by lashing out, at James, personally, and professionally, saying, in part, in his new social media post, he says, quote, "Another Witch Hunt by a," what he calls "Racist Attorney General," and called Letitia James, "A fraud."

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization added that it's all part of a political vendetta.

The details of the case, however, are laid out in a 222-page filing.

So, to help us break down the specifics, of Trump's alleged schemes, we have a team of CNN reporters, outside some of the former President's most well-known buildings.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Sara. I'm Athena Jones, outside Trump Tower, in Midtown.

The New York Attorney General claims Donald Trump not only inflated the value, but also the size, of his own apartment, in the building, claiming it was 30,000 square feet when it was less than 11,000.

The lawsuit alleges that in 2015, that inflated the value of the property, in this 30-year old building, to $327 million. At the time, no apartment, in New York City, even brand-new ones had ever sold for even a third of that price.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Omar Jimenez, at Trump International Hotel and Tower, in Chicago. It's one of the tallest buildings, in the U.S. And just six months ago, the penthouse here reportedly sold for $20 million. But since it opened in 2009, the building's value has been left off of Trump Organization official statements.

The A.G. points out that in Donald Trump's sworn testimony, he wanted it that way. He wanted to keep it off the books because to the IRS, the building was listed as worthless. Yet, less than three years after it opened, it was listed, the lawsuit says, as collateral, in a $107 million loan.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: I'm Joe Johns, at the Old Post Office, here in Washington, D.C., a building the Trump Organization never actually owned, but they did have a ground lease.


A congressional investigation found, this hotel, lost $71 million, in almost four years. And yet, the Letitia James lawsuit claims, the $100 million profit, Donald Trump received, when he sold that lease, in May, was the result of lies, made to secure the construction loan.

SIDNER: And there are many more like that, in the lawsuit.

Here to dig deeper, into the legal and political fallout, is Nick Akerman, former Assistant U.S. Attorney, for the Southern District of New York; Alyssa Farah Griffin, former Communications Director, for the Trump White House; and Russ Buettner, Investigative Reporter, at The New York Times.

Russ, I want to start with you. Because, this lawsuit, about three years, in the making. We have heard some of the details of it, earlier on, when Letitia James was just looking at all of this.

But you've been following Trump's personal finances, even before we heard about all of this. What do you make of this very long, detailed 220-page filing?

RUSS BUETTNER, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think, it's a big problem for the Trump Organization.

And, I think, it really shows how they've taken businesses, from what we saw, in his tax returns that regularly lost money that required constant infusion of cash, and then pumped up the value, of those businesses.

And then, all of that combined, the things they did were crazy, where they're saying that rent-controlled apartments that an appraiser told them were worth $750,000, they value at $50 million. They say, golf course memberships that they're giving away, are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

All of that builds this gigantic mountain, where they go to Deutsche Bank, and say "He's worth $2.5 billion. You should give him the lowest interest loan you possibly can, and the highest amount of loan money that they can possibly come up with." That's a massive fraud. And it's going to have great effects, throughout the organization.

And, I think, also, it's going to go a lot of different ways that we can't see right now. There are property tax frauds that are going on this. You could have property tax bodies, across the country, saying, "He defrauded us, to get his taxes lowered. We're going to raise them. We're going to file for back taxes and penalties."

And a prosecutor in those jurisdictions could say, "This is a fraud on our county. We're going to file a criminal case on this." This could cause a lot of problems, and go a lot of different directions.

SIDNER: Not just about this. And one of the directions I think that Letitia James is talking about is the potential criminal case.

Is there a criminal case here? And do you expect that there would be one that the SDNY, for example, might pick this up now?


Because, the civil case, which is what has been filed today, the standard of proof, is much lower than a criminal case, where you have to prove guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt. Don't forget, the D.A.'s office has already looked at this, and basically passed on it, as a criminal case. So the question is, why did they do that?

Now, the civil case has all kinds of other advantages. You've got very detailed allegations, in here.

And I can guarantee you that when Donald Trump went in, for his deposition, here, and he was asked, I am sure, about every single allegation in there? And basically, what he did is, he took the Fifth Amendment, meaning that a truthful answer to the question asked would tend to incriminate him.

So, that gives the A.G.'s office, a huge advantage. They've got evidence that it happens, and then, they've got Donald Trump taking the Fifth, on every single aspect of this. I mean, this ought to be a slam-dunk case.

But it's completely different once you take it into the criminal realm, because you cannot use a person's assertion, of the Fifth Amendment right, against them-- SIDNER: Yes.

AKERMAN: --in a criminal case.

SIDNER: But you can do so, in a civil case, correct?

AKERMAN: Yes, in a civil case. But you still have to have some evidence--


AKERMAN: --of the underlying crime. You just can't ask somebody, on the street, "Did you steal $5,000?" "I take the Fifth." That doesn't do it. You've got to have at least some evidence.

But it appears from this complaint that they do have evidence on every single item that is listed in here. So, by virtue of taking the Fifth, he is sunk. He is basically going to be stuck for $250 million. There's going to be a receiver that's going to be put in place over the Trump Organization.

Donald Trump is not going to be able to deal, in any real estate deals, again, in New York. He is not going to be able to be on a corporation in New York. I mean, this basically undermines, one, the whole idea that he was such a smart businessman.

SIDNER: Right, the billion-dollar?

AKERMAN: The billion-dollar man, when he was actually--

SIDNER: The opposite (ph).

AKERMAN: --the billion-dollar crook. And he's going to be in bankruptcy, again. I mean, I just don't see any way out of it.

SIDNER: Will this dismantle the Trump Organization, as a whole, you think?

AKERMAN: Oh, I think so, although they are putting a receiver in place, they are putting a monitor in place. So, I think they're assuming that it'll take - they'll take over the assets, they'll take over the business, and it'll continue. But Donald Trump's not going to have any say in that.


SIDNER: That sounds hugely damaging, hearing that from someone, who has been at the SDNY, and knows how things work.

When you hear this, are you hearing anything, from Trump-world, if you will? Are they afraid? Is this causing consternation? Is this - or is this just going to be used as a political pawn, political ploy?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: This is objectively, a terrible day, for Donald Trump. And keep in mind, we're talking about one specific - one of the many investigations--

SIDNER: Right.

FARAH GRIFFIN: --that he's under, right now. We've got the ongoing January 6. We have the Department of Justice, looking at the classified documents. We have an old sexual assault allegation that's now being re-upped. He is - his actions are closing in on all sides, at this point.

And I think that his reaction kind of shows us how he feels. When he feels cornered, he tends to be extremely aggressive. He used this bizarre slander, against Letitia James, calling her racist. I'm not even sure, what he was tying that to.

But he's feeling boxed in. I do think, we'll get into the politics of it more, it is likely going to make him more likely to announce his presidency. If he is facing bankruptcy, in this civil suit, I think, he's going to look for every lever, to hold on to power.

SIDNER: There is another added thing to this. It isn't just Donald Trump that is being named here. It is three of his adult children. Does this hit different, because they are named now? It's not just him. It's them. It's several other people that are involved in Trump Organization. Is he taking this differently?

FARAH GRIFFIN: I think he must be. And that was my experience, when I did work for him, is stuff that implicated the family, and closer to home, was something that he personally felt more attacked by. So, I think that's kind of why we're seeing such a strong response from him.

SIDNER: I'm curious, Russ. Because, you've done so much reporting on the details. And it's difficult to get all of this information, and then put it out to the public, so that we can consume it, and ingest it.

Does it match some of your reporting, to what you're hearing, from Letitia James, in this filing? Does it jive with what you've seen?

BUETTNER: Oh, completely. There are cases, where she takes things. We were looking at the actual financial records, as it was filed, on tax documents. She doesn't say that those numbers were incorrect.

It's just how he transitions businesses that are losing an incredible amount of money that he's pumping money into, from his inherited fortune, from his entertainment fortune, to make them look like they're successful.

And then, he alters the bottom line, he alters the equation, by which you compute valuation, to make them look like they're even more, that they're really worth something, right? In some cases, they're not worth what he paid for them. And he's lost money on every dime, he's invested, in the thing.

So yes, that matches very much what we saw. It's just you see the impact, on the other side of it, where he can use that lie, to go and get more money, than you would ever be able to get otherwise, and at a much lower interest rate than you'd ever get, which meant he had a greater chance, of being able to pay the thing back.

SIDNER: So, the regular average person would not be able to pull this off?

BUETTNER: No. It's as if my in-laws have assets, right?

But, in some cases, like, he has an investment in Vornado. It's a past - he can't do anything with that money. But he claims that their cash is his cash. He claims that the value - the entire value of the building inures to him. But it does not.

And he can't even get a distribution from that investment, unless Vornado decides that he's entitled to it. But yet he acts like that's all his, and under his control, and, again, uses that as a building block, to build this massive valuation that in itself is just a mountain of fraud.

FARAH GRIFFIN: And can I just say?


FARAH GRIFFIN: There's parallels to how he governed toward the end, to these actions. I mean, he tried to defraud the American public, in the election. He thought he was going to get away, with false electors, with trying to overturn the democratic election, disenfranchising more than 80 million voters. This kind of tracks is a character trait, of his, and how he conducts his business.

AKERMAN: Oh, it goes back even further, to SoHo Trump. I mean, his children were involved in that. They were going to be indicted. But for the fact they were able to get into the District Attorney's office, and basically compromise the District Attorney, on this thing. So, I mean?

SIDNER: Long history that New Yorkers have been paying attention to.

AKERMAN: There is a long history. If you've been in New York, you've been there. You know what that history is.

SIDNER: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.

Russ Buettner, I appreciate you, coming on, and giving us your insight.

And Nick, and Alyssa, you two are going to stick around.

More on these new developments, in the Trump classified documents probe, what it means for the criminal case, pressing forward?



SIDNER: More now, on that new win, for the Justice Department, tonight. A federal appeals court has restored the DOJ's access, to classified documents that were seized, from Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, last month. It comes after a trial judge, blocked investigators, from viewing the documents.

The three-panel judge - of judge panel, excuse me, which consists of two Trump appointees, sided with the DOJ, on this point, saying quote, "It is self-evident that the public has a strong interest in ensuring that the storage of the classified records did not result in "exceptionally grave damage to the national security." Ascertaining that necessarily involves reviewing the documents, determining who had access to them and when, and deciding which (if any) sources or methods are compromised."

The ruling by this Appeals court means Trump's only recourse, at this point, is the Supreme Court.

Back with me now are Alyssa Farah Griffin, and Nick Akerman.

I also want to welcome Steve Bullock, former Democratic Governor and Attorney General of Montana, to our conversation.

I am going to start with you, I think, Nick. If this ends up going to the Supreme Court? I mean, do you think it will?

AKERMAN: It won't. It won't.

SIDNER: First of all, do you think it will?

AKERMAN: No, I don't think so.

SIDNER: No, not a chance?

AKERMAN: No. I think this is so basic. Donald Trump has no proprietary interest in classified documents. There is no way, he ever has the right, to get this information, or see it. I mean, that's really the underlying basis of this whole opinion.


These are classified documents. And the court comes, right out, and says, based on the affidavit that was submitted, saying that both the criminal investigation, and the civil matter, looking at the Intelligence investigation, looking at whether or not anything had been compromised, were so intertwined, that the courts don't get involved, in second-guessing that kind of information.

SIDNER: I want to get into this, what Trump's lawyers have been saying. Because, they've raised sort of vague questions, about whether the materials are actually classified, or have been declassified. And the court basically called this team out.

And I want to read what the court said. They said that the "Plaintiff suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President. But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified." That is pretty strong language!

What do you make of this? What does someone do with something like this? What does this tell us about this case? STEVE BULLOCK, (D) FORMER MONTANA GOVERNOR, FORMER MONTANA ATTORNEY GENERAL, CO-CHAIR, AMERICAN BRIDGE 21ST CENTURY: Well, look, as governor, when I would get classified briefings? It'd come in a pouch. I'd have to give it back afterwards. And you'd move forward.

And you look at this, even Dearie, the Special Master had said, at the end of the day, like, look, you can't just declassify, on your own, and they'd still remain, these documents. So, to me, it's basically been Trump just throwing anything up, on delays.

And we actually like, on the one hand, this Eleventh Circuit decision, it's almost a nothing-burger, like it should have been expected. And what a circuit court does, is it correct errors. You're going to have a lot fewer errors, if you're not appointing like 40-year-old district court judges that just based on politics, and have zero experience, in the law. And that's what we saw here.

SIDNER: Alyssa, the Trump group, and Trump himself, wanted this judge. They then figured, I don't know what they thought the appeals court was going to do. But they certainly wanted Judge Dearie. Were they surprised, do you think?

FARAH GRIFFIN: I think they were. Because, they were spiking the football, when the initial stay was in place.

But this is, to the Governor's point, I've worked at classified documents, when I was at the Pentagon, where I was at the White House. You don't just wave your hand over them, and say they're declassified. You have to alert the Intelligence Community, the Defense Department, other entities.

It was an absurd notion, from the get-go. He didn't have a leg to stand on. And now that's all coming home to roost.

SIDNER: I want to turn to some reporting from our Jamie Gangel. She has a source that says that the January 6 committee has made an agreement, with Ginni Thomas, Virginia Thomas, who is the wife of Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas.

And we're starting to talk about, OK, are they going to go to the Supreme Court about this? Can you give me a sense, from your perspective, of how badly, this looks, for the Supreme Court, when you have all of this evidence, of Ginni Thomas, sending text messages, and trying to get not one, but two States, the politicians, in two States, to overturn the 2020 election?

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, listen, it's a time, when I think the court is already seen as so hyper-partisan, the timing kind of couldn't be worse, for this to happen.

Now, listen, a spouse is separate from--

SIDNER: Right.

FARAH GRIFFIN: --who they're married to, and her positions are. But this is a woman, who was working directly, with the White House Chief of Staff, organizing around January 6, and frankly, spreading out their conspiracy theories that are so far outside of the mainstream.

I think that her testimony is going to be very, very enlightening. I hope that there's a high degree of cooperation, because sometimes, with these things, they're cooperating, but in theory, not in practice. So, there's a lot to be learned there, I think, on the actual plans leading up to the 6th, the different outside groups that were helping organize around it.

She's very tied in the conservative movement. She oversees a group called Groundswell that has Chapters, all over the country. So, I think she could shed some light, on how they helped get so many people, there.

SIDNER: Steve, they already have this evidence. We've seen some of it. They have the text messages to, Trump's Chief of Staff, at the time.

When you look at this, and you look at Justice Thomas, being the sole dissenter, on having Trump be able to send over documents, to the January 6 committee, does this really hurt the Supreme Court, in the end? Are you worried about what this says, about the sanctity, if you will, of the Supreme Court itself?

BULLOCK: Look, as someone that's actually got to argue, in front of Supreme Court, when I was State Attorney General, you wanted to walk into that building, truly believing that it's above politics.

SIDNER: Is it?

BULLOCK: But what we have here, is this is conspiracy, wide open, out in the wide open. From the perspective of, at the end of the day, look, assuming it's a scandal, assuming that we actually believe that this is not about politics, and should have just the rule of law.

But I think we've seen more and more, with this court, and all of the sort of gyrations, in appointing this court, that this independent branch of government, it's hard, for even lawyers, to have faith in, let alone the populace.

SIDNER: I want to ask you, Nick, about your thoughts, about what this does, to the judicial system, in general, and the way people think about it.


AKERMAN: Oh, I think, it reflects badly on the court. There's no question about it. I mean, it makes you wonder, how are decisions really made?

I mean, as you pointed out, Clarence Thomas was the one dissenting vote, on that decision, relating to the documents that went to the January 6 committee. He was the only one. I mean, he should never have voted on that decision.

SIDNER: You think he should have recused himself?

AKERMAN: He should have recused, himself. Absolutely. And particularly in light of all the facts that we know now, for certain. But none of this helps. You take that into account, with Roe versus Wade, where they basically ignored precedent, for 50 years--

SIDNER: Precedent.

AKERMAN: --people put, on the court, just because of their position, on Roe versus Wade, nothing else? I mean, that was the litmus test, obviously, for Trump, in terms of who he appointed to the court. All of that adds up to a situation, where it's really eroded the confidence, the public confidence, in the court, which is absolutely a shame.

SIDNER: One of the three branches of government that we expect to sort of balance things out.

AKERMAN: That's right. I mean, the way we're selecting judges, and the way it's being done now, I find is an absolute outrage. They wind up, whichever party it is, they pick the youngest person they can, who's going to die the last, so that they can stay on there forever.

And they look for people with very specific views. You don't see an Earl Warren, or an Abe Fortas, or a Goldberg, on there, anymore. I mean, they're not picking the best, and the brightest, out of the legal profession.

SIDNER: I thank you all, for that really relevant - there were so many things to talk about. We could go on for hours.

Nick Akerman, Alyssa Farah Griffin, thank you so much.

Steve, please stick with us.

Because, just ahead, President Biden, tears into Vladimir Putin, on the world stage, hours after the Russian leader, dangled nuclear threats, as his country loses ground, in Ukraine.

The new front, in what may feel like a new Cold War, when CNN TONIGHT returns.



SIDNER: Developing tonight, over 1,000 people, have been detained, in anti-war protests, across Russia. That's after President Vladimir Putin announced he is mobilizing additional forces, to Ukraine, and hinted that he would consider using nuclear weapons, in the conflict.

Ukrainian President, Zelenskyy, responding, in a video address, before the U.N. tonight, demanded that Russia be punished, for crimes against his country.

That comes, after President Biden, today, warned Putin, against further escalation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This war is about extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state, plain and simple, and Ukraine's right to exist as a people. Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe, that should not - that should make your blood run cold.

A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.


SIDNER: Joining me now, is CNN Political Commentator, S.E. Cupp.

Steve Bullock is back with us.

And we're also joined by former Republican congressman, and South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford.

All right, I'm going to start with you, Governor. Senior officials, telling CNN, tonight that, they don't currently see any signs of a heightened nuclear threat, coming from Russia.

But Putin's comments, are alarming, to anyone, not just Americans, not just Ukrainians, people in Russia, as well, people in the entire region. How concerned should we all be, about this escalating war of words, at this point? Because there is a war still going on.

BULLOCK: Sure. Sure, yes. And, Sara, I think, we should be as both the President, most Americans are, rightfully concerned, about what Russia is doing in Ukraine. Period. Full stop. Now, if you look at? And clearly, Putin is getting desperate.


BULLOCK: If you look at what he's said, it was like, basically, on a defensive posture. "If someone takes over our land, then we'll start using nuclear weapons."

So, I think, look, calling up 300,000 reservists? That's more than the 200,000 total that they've had, in Ukraine? He's grasping at straws. And it used to not impact the whole country. This actually will.

SIDNER: Yes. And that's why, I think, you're seeing some of these protests as well, because soldiers, Russian soldiers, are dying, while they are killing Ukrainians, both civilians, and people fighting.

I'm curious, S.E., what you made of President Biden's address. I mean, it was some fiery stuff, from him.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, COLUMNIST, NY DAILY NEWS: Yes. It was great. It was really strong. It was also in front of a totally meaningless audience. The U.N. Security Council has Russia as a permanent member.

SIDNER: Right.

CUPP: UNGA, I think, has proven to be pretty feckless, during this, and many other wars.

So, he said all the right things, but he could have given it, in like the White House cafeteria, sadly. And this isn't S.E. Cupp's opinion.

President Zelenskyy, months ago, and for months, has been begging, the U.N., to actually do something, in his words, more than have a conversation. He said, back in April, "If you're just going to have a conversation, you might as well dissolve."

So, it was great. But I don't know, to what effect.

SIDNER: Mark, what do you make of that? Do you think that that's true that he's talking to an audience really, that can't do anything, and so, it's action, not words?

MARK SANFORD, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, (R) FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: I mean, to her point, yes, the audience was irrelevant, but the message was not. And so, the fact that he was clear and definitive, about America's stand, with Ukraine, I think has consequence.

I would also say this. I don't think Putin is to be dismissed on this one. I mean, if you look at the history, of despots, over time, they become more and more, sort of insular, in their own little world.

Tell me who's going to speak truth to power with Putin, and with regards to the world that he lives in? So, he's living in a strange little world. He thought based on the Intel that he got, they could quickly take Ukraine. Was not the case. I don't think it's to be dismissed, one, based on the world he's living in.

And secondly, if you watch Russian television, over the last six months, they have consistently, on the nightly news, talked about the notion, of nuclear tactical war. I mean, it's more real, I think, than people would surmise.


CUPP: Like, what worries me is, I, for years, I hear from NatSec Foreign Policy Russia experts. These people would say, "Putin is evil, but he's not crazy." And they would say that as a way to allay nuclear fears.

Those same people, I talk to now, say "He might just be crazy." That is alarming, because these are people, who were trying to tamp down, the panic and paranoia, are now saying he might be desperate enough--


CUPP: --and crazy, not all there, and in a box, that we should take this pretty seriously.


SIDNER: Have you been sort of hearing that same sort of sentiment, because I've heard it as well, having been in Ukraine that, "Oh, he's not possibly going to do that." And then, he did it. He did the very thing people thought he wouldn't go that far, and invade. And he did it.

So now that he's making these veiled threats about nuclear war?


SIDNER: I mean, it would affect them, too. It doesn't just stay in one place.

BULLOCK: No, yes. And his circles become smaller and smaller. But, I think, one of the things, where we say it, does that speech matter? It matters, in part, because if you look, when President Biden walked in, like America First became America Alone.

What he did, in advance of even invasion of Ukraine, when you have 141 countries, universally, condemning now, what Russia is doing, he spoke from a position of leadership, not just in our country, but in our world.

SIDNER: Is America diminished, though, when it comes to - I'll ask this to you, S.E. And then, you can also respond.


SIDNER: Are we diminished, on the international stage, because of some of the things that have happened, over the past several years?

CUPP: I think, we've taken a hit. I don't think we are diminished. And I think people, especially our Allies, are so eager, for us, to regain our footing, and care about foreign policy, in a way that's not just about America's needs, what we can take.

And so, I think, there's a thirst for it. I know that Biden, with all of his foreign policy experience, wants to deliver it. But it's going to take some time, for us to regain the trust, of our Allies, and for us, to regain our footing, after such a tumultuous couple of years.

SIDNER: All right.

SANFORD: Yes. I would also say though, the times make men and women on the leadership front.

And I think that given the threat that exists with Russia that didn't exist, as clear and present, as it does now that there is A, a thirst, to S.E.'s point, for American leadership.

But also, I think, it's going to allow us a chance to shine, based on the threat that is real, and does exist, and it's coming at us.

SIDNER: All right, everyone, stick around with me.

Just ahead, this is something that will lift spirits, a little bit, but there's also a downside. We are going to be talking with some - about some issues, with the lottery. We're also going to be talking, with a lawyer, who is standing up, for the migrants, who were flown to Martha's Vineyard. The attorney, who is working with the migrants, and she has a lot to say, about what they are going through.



SIDNER: Millions of people, are desperately risking their lives, to get into this country. That reality too often is lost in the U.S. politics of immigration.

And for many, this is what that desperation looks like. This is video, from a 2015 case, of human smuggling. And now, a video from 2017, 10 people died, in the back of that truck. We saw a similar scene, in June, 53 people died, in San Antonio. A different president was in office, for each of those cases.

This goes beyond the politics of the moment, and why even the head of Customs and Border Protection said, this is about the Republican governors, sending migrants, to cities, run by Democrats.


CHRIS MAGNUS, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION COMMISSIONER: I think, lying to vulnerable people, for whatever the purpose might be, can just never be the right thing.


SIDNER: I am joined now by Rachel Self, an immigration attorney, who has been helping many of the migrants, sent to Martha's Vineyard. They are asylum-seekers.

Can you give me some sense of how the families are, and what they're still dealing with, at this point?


As everybody is aware, they were dropped, unceremoniously, without any preparation, on the Island of Martha's Vineyard. So, this wasn't like a bus to New York City, or Washington, D.C. There was nowhere to get off.

And they weren't even aware of where they were going, until they were mid-air. And they weren't familiar with what Martha's Vineyard was. And that the endpoint was not a large city, with a lot of resources, or infrastructure, to be able to provide for them.

So, immediately, when we learned that they had arrived, on the island, we sprang into action, Martha's Vineyard Community Services, all of the local Police, and agencies, to get them into shelter. And then, we worked very hard, to get them, into a more permanent solution, to be able to attend to all of their needs. So, they're now at the Joint Base Cape Cod, being very, very well- provided for, by several pro bono allies, and lawyers, who are volunteering their time, and getting medical services, because several of them had pretty significant medical issues, when they arrived, and being taken care of by MEMA.

And everybody in Massachusetts, the whole community, has rallied, around them, to try to help them, because they truly were victims in this, as in - and even though, it is obvious that it was designed, as a political stunt. This isn't a political story. It's really just black and white letter of a law that a crime was committed here, against these people.

SIDNER: There is someone, in Texas, one of the sheriffs, there, looking into potential - investigation, into potential criminal actions.

But I first wanted to talk to you, about some of the things that we've been hearing, from the politicians, who were involved in doing this.

First up, Governor DeSantis claiming that everyone volunteered to go that they agreed to go to Martha's Vineyard. Why wouldn't they go somewhere nice, like Martha's Vineyard, is sort of what he said.

Let's listen in.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): State of Florida, it was volunteer, offered transport to sanctuary jurisdictions.

They were provided an ability to be in the most posh sanctuary jurisdiction, maybe in the world.



SIDNER: How do you respond to that? "The most posh sanctuary jurisdiction maybe in the world?"

SELF: I just think it evidences just how incredibly out of touch he is with reality.

Year-rounders, on Martha's Vineyard - yes, there is a lot of wealth, on Martha's Vineyard, summer homes, for very wealthy people. But the year-round people of Martha's Vineyard are hard-working. There are many people that have to go to the food bank, for their food.

It is, the reality that he sees is not the reality. And really, how I feel, when I hear him speak about this, is the same way that I feel, when I watch a middle-school bully, picking on vulnerable kids, in the school yard, and to be laughing at this.

These are human beings. And the people, on our island, and the community, feel very differently than he does. And this was either designed to be confusing, demoralizing, frightening, or maybe worse, it was designed, without even thinking about them, as people, as at all, without any consequence, to what this was going to do to them, and just an interest in getting some sort of political capital or political gain. And it just really is stomach-turning.

SIDNER: I want to go to another point, real quickly, the governor has been making, is that everyone signed consent forms. And, in his estimation, "Well, they signed the consent form. So, it's all OK."

Here's what he had to say.


DESANTIS: They all signed consent forms to go. And then, the vendor that is doing this, for Florida, provided them, with a packet that had a map of Martha's Vineyard.


SIDNER: So, again, you hear this sort of softening of things, although we have heard from migrants, there, saying they didn't really know exactly what was going on. What do you make of that?

SELF: These were vulnerable people, in a very precarious position. And I think that the consent form isn't worth the paper that it's printed on.

Saying something doesn't make it so. If I slapped a label, on a pound of butter, calling it fat-free, it wouldn't make it fat-free. Snake oil doesn't make your hair grow back. And you have to look at the contents.

It doesn't - you don't even need to speak Spanish and English, to look at the consent form that he says people voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently signed, to know you just have to count the words, to realize it wasn't even all translated, into Spanish.

And everybody has a basic idea. We all, who live on, in this world, have a basic understanding, an idea of what consent means. If you say to me, "May I have a bite of your sandwich?" and I consent to that, and then you eat my entire sandwich? That is very different from what I consented to.

In this particular instance, considering all the castles, in the sky that these migrants were sold, before they were induced, by fraud, to get on that plane, even if they - the free housing, the work authorization?

SIDNER: Right.

SELF: The English classes, the school for the kids? If they--

SIDNER: They got none of that.

SELF: No! And nothing was waiting for them.


SELF: And they were - and then they were - I mean, it just it's absolutely outrageous, to say that they knew that they were doing.

And you also can't consent to be a victim. You can't consent to perpetrate a crime. You can't have a contract, to agree to a criminal act. It's all just completely absurd. And I put it up there about at the same level of authority as at the maps (ph).

SIDNER: OK. Rachel Self, thank you so much.

And we should also make the point that these were asylum-seekers, legally, in the country, trying to seek asylum, and trying to go through that process.

We'll be right back.



SIDNER: We'd like to leave you tonight, with something that isn't death, destruction and politics! So, we're going here.

Imagine winning over a billion dollars. How long could you keep it a secret, from your family? Or would you, from your friends, your, I'm not going to say, annoying boss? But that too?

How about, for eight weeks? That's about how long, it's been, since the drawing of the third largest jackpot, in history. Today, the winners have finally claimed their prize. But they're choosing to remain anonymous.

All we know is that there are two people, who bought the winning ticket, at a gas station, in Illinois, and hit the big payday, opting for the lump sum payout of more than $780 million. That's over $390 million each.

All right, let's just go down this imaginary road.

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: Because I know none of you have the ticket. Or you wouldn't be here, tonight! I'm assuming.


SIDNER: But would you - would you quit your job? Would you just say like, "I'm out?"

CUPP: In a second. You'd never see me again.

SIDNER: Truly?

CUPP: Well, yes, yes. I would tell no one. Maybe not even my husband. I would quit my job.

SIDNER: OK, look - OK.

CUPP: I would take the lump sum.

SIDNER: Not tell your husband?

CUPP: Well, I mean, I would - I would tell no one! Because you get into trouble, when that happens!

SIDNER: OK. All right.

CUPP: No. I'd tell my husband.

SIDNER: OK, fine.

CUPP: But I would - I would take the lump sum.


CUPP: I would quit my job. And honestly, I would have the most fun, giving it away. I think that would be--


CUPP: I mean, who hasn't fantasized about who you could help, and what you could do, with that much money? So, that would be - that would be fun. But you would never see me again. I'm sorry, Sara!

SIDNER: OK. I would say, just FYI, with a smile on my face. Because I knew that I could walk away, whenever I wanted. I'm just - I need something to do. I enjoy my thing.

CUPP: I hear you.

SIDNER: But I get what you're saying.

You're not a big fan of a lottery, I hear? The whole idea of it?

SANFORD: I'm not. I mean--

CUPP: What do you have against helping education?

SANFORD: No, no, it's fine. It's fine. It's exciting. I'm happy for that--


BULLOCK: For the dream, people have. We do not mistakes.

SANFORD: We all want hope, I get it. But if you look at the numbers, I mean, you're 300 times more likely to be struck by a lightning, tonight, than to win the lottery.

And so, I got a great friend, Lonnie Randolph, who was head of the NAACP, back in South Carolina, when I was governor. He fought so hard against the lottery, in South Carolina, because his point was, "We all want hope. But this is giving false hope."

And so, this is fun to celebrate. But it is not most people's experience. And if you look on average, people are throwing about 200 bucks, a year, into the lottery, nationwide.

SIDNER: Right.

SANFORD: And it's a regressive tax. That's the bottom line.

CUPP: Debbie Downer!

SANFORD: I know. I know. I'm sorry.

SIDNER: Well, I mean, look, there is that point. To be fair, Mark, that argument has been made in my family, as well.

Steve, they have chosen to remain anonymous. Is that a consensus that we would all, if--

CUPP: If you could, because you're not allowed to, everywhere.

SIDNER: --if you play, and if you win?


SIDNER: Is that the right thing to do?

BULLOCK: So, I think, first of all? And it does give like, we sat around, in our family, saying, "What would we do, if we won this?"




SIDNER: Isn't that a little bit more of the joy of it that you can just sort of think of it? You don't have to win.

BULLOCK: Yes, the joy wouldn't - it wouldn't suck to win. So--



CUPP: Yes, the money would be joyful too.

BULLOCK: But actually, in some ways, when you see this, because you also hear so many tragic stories, of people winning the lottery--

SIDNER: And going broke. Yes.

BULLOCK: --and their life becoming destroyed.

SANFORD: Right, right.

BULLOCK: So, bless than--

CUPP: She isn't biased (ph).

SIDNER: Sorry!

BULLOCK: Bless them, for really giving it some thought--


BULLOCK: --and actually getting together--


BULLOCK: --with consultants, or tax attorneys--


CUPP: Yes.

BULLOCK: --and others, and saying, "How do we go forward?" So, maybe, if we play our cards right, whoever won, can join us, at this table, one of these nights.

SIDNER: OK. I'm going to say something controversial--


SIDNER: --and my family is going to be annoyed.


SIDNER: But I like working for my money. I don't - I don't want to win it. Not that much. Give me a couple million, I'll be OK, but.


SANFORD: Right, yes.


CUPP: We're only OK.

SIDNER: --I actually like working for money.


SIDNER: So, I'll tell you what (ph).

SANFORD: But let's rejoice in the struggle. That's what gives it meaning.

SIDNER: Yes. I think that's true.

SANFORD: I mean, just to have a lump sum, to Steve's point--

SIDNER: Yes. SANFORD: --has proven to be incredibly destructive--


SANFORD: --with a lot of families that did win the lottery.

CUPP: Maybe not (ph).

SIDNER: OK. I'm trying not to get fired here, because I've gone over time.

SANFORD: Yes, yes.

SIDNER: So, S.E. Cupp, Steve Bullock, and Mark Sanford - Mark, thank you so much, for being here.

And we will be right back, with lottery dreams.


SIDNER: Thanks for hanging with me. I will be back, tomorrow night.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

Hey, Don?