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CNN TONIGHT: New Documentary Video Shows Trump Ally Roger Stone Pre-Election Day: "Let's Get Right To The Violence"; Parts Of Florida Under Mandatory Evacuation As Hurricane Nears; NASA Crashes Spacecraft Into Asteroid For The First Time. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 26, 2022 - 21:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: We mentioned, at the top, the House January 6 committee returns to national television, Wednesday afternoon, for another hearing that if experience bears out, will make news.

As only CNN can, we're going to have special coverage analysis, and perspective, during the afternoon, from noon until 4, anchored by Anderson, and Jake Tapper, during this hour, Wednesday night, and throughout primetime. So, we do hope you'll join us, for that.

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

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Thanks, John Berman, nice to see you. And thank you, everyone.

I'm Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

All right, here we are. We are less than 48 hours, from what could be the final public hearing, of the January 6th committee. And yes, we are already nine hearings in, and yes, 20 months away, from January 6th. But we are still finding out new information, as of tonight.

And the information is raising even more questions, interestingly enough, the questions about the Trump White House's involvement, in the attempt to overthrow our democracy. That's really what the whole thing is about, the heart of what the committee, has been trying to get to the bottom of, according to what they have said, time and time again, for about nine hearings, and for more than a year.

So, will we see anything new? Or will this just be a kind of summation? Well, we've been told, to expect new footage, we haven't yet seen before, and new witness testimony, according to the Committee's Chairman.

And remember those missing Secret Service text messages? Well apparently, we're going to hear more about those, and the agents, who have allegedly been uncooperative, with the panel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): There were Secret Service agents, who were playing a hugely important, and very courageous role. And I think that there are some, who have not been forthcoming, with the committee, and you'll hear more about that.


COATES: Well, lest you forgot, about this man, longtime Trump ally, Roger Stone, will make an appearance. No, it's not going to be in person. But he'll be featured, in a new documentary video, about his alleged contacts, with extremist groups.

Now, CNN has obtained some of that footage, from a Danish documentary crew, traveling with Stone, on the day before the 2020 election.

Now, this is Stone, apparently coming home, from a rally, in Georgia.


VOICE OF ROGER STONE, TRUMP ALLY: (BLEEP) the voting. Let's get right to--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get right to--

STONE: --the violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get right to them.

STONE: Shoot to kill.


COATES: "F the voting?" "Let's get right to the violence?" More on that to come.

Now, as for the new questions, I mentioned, just a moment ago, well, why was Donald Trump's former right-hand man, Mark Meadows, texting with a conspiracy theorist, who helped drum up a wild plan, for our Military, the Military, to illegally seize voting machines, in the days before January 6th?

Retired Army Colonel, Phil Waldron, was behind plots, to access voting machines, in key Swing States.

Now, CNN has a text exchange, between Waldron, and a former White House Chief of Staff, on December 23rd. Waldron was griping that a judge in Arizona, dismissed a lawsuit, to give his team, access to voting machines, in the state. To which Meadows responded, quote, "Pathetic."

Now, I'm not going to try to overstate this text message, or try to parse the word, "Pathetic," and try to as something illegal, to talk about. Well, I don't know if it's legal, or not, at this point, from what we know. But what that does show us, is that someone, actively trying to overthrow the 2020 election, had a direct line, to the Chief of Staff, for the President of United States. And speaking of lines, well, who is it that made a nine-second phone call, to a rioter, during the attack, on our Capitol? And it came from the White House. And even maybe more curiously, here, why was the call made? We don't yet know.

But we do know who it was placed to. That cell phone belonged to a 26- year-old Trump supporter, from Brooklyn, New York, named Anton Lunyk. He pled guilty, to charges, connected to the storming, of the Capitol.

Now, this here is Lunyk, seen entering the building. And, I guess, the call was placed, this is important, it was placed at 4:34 PM, on January 6, from a White House landline. This, according to records, obtained by CNN.

Now, to put that time slot in context, as to why it's important? This was a call that was placed, after Trump told rioters, to go home, at 4:17 PM.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, go home. We love you. You're very special.


COATES: Lunyk claims, he doesn't remember, getting that call, and didn't know anyone, in the White House.


But a former Republican congressman, who first disclosed the call, isn't buying it. Denver Riggleman worked as a Technical Adviser, for the January 6th committee.


DENVER RIGGLEMAN, FORMER ADVISER, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: I really don't count anybody, who says, "Well I don't know anybody in the White House, and I don't remember the call." Why don't we go to the originator?

And I know that the committee has tried to do that. Because, those White House extensions, are very important. And, you know, for me, as a data guy, I really don't pay attention, to what somebody is saying, when the data is telling me something else.


COATES: So, what exactly is it saying, and what will be said, about all of this, come this Wednesday? Let's talk about it, right now, with my table here.

Joining me now is CNN Political Commentator, David Swerdlick; CNN Legal Analyst, Elliot Williams, a former federal prosecutor; and Doug Heye, former RNC Communications Director.

Glad to have all of you here.

First of all, I mean, it's been couple months now, we heard from this committee. Everyone's wondering, what they're going to talk about. We're very close now, to the midterm elections. I'm wondering, just from your gut reaction, will this make any difference to voters?


The committee, did a lot of work, over the summer, cementing this idea, in people's minds. And this is one last reminder, as we head toward the end of this Congress. And, of course, we're obviously just a few weeks out, from Election Day.

I don't think we're going to learn anything that's going to blow anyone's mind, or change anyone's mind. Americans now know what they think.

It's about this committee, being able to document, what they have found, and about them being able to say, "Look, we've done our work. It's up to you now, voters. It's up to you now, Justice Department. It's up to you now, judicial system, to do what you will." Congress has oversight authority, but they don't prosecute.

COATES: They can't prosecute.


COATES: But, by the same token, I mean, Roger Stone is equal parts, a blast from the past, in prior discussions, and now, evergreen, in terms of the lead-up to January 6. Will that, I mean, the fact that he is involved, in documentary footage, around that? Is that going to tip the scale in any direction?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't think it tips the scale, in any direction, now, based on what we know, right now.

Look, you have communication lines, between Roger Stone, and some of the folks, at the Capitol Building, and communication lines, between Roger Stone, and people, in the White House. What you don't have is the connection between all three. And I think, for charging people with crimes, you need to establish that explicit connection.

Now, look, it's just bad for Roger Stone. That clip, you played, at the beginning, Laura, of what was it? "F the" whatever, "Let's just start shooting."

COATES: Voting, yes.

WILLIAMS: I really don't want to repeat it. But it's certainly bad, and disgraceful conduct. Like, does it change anything? Who knows?

But, at the end of the day, they're putting together, a report, at the end of this, for the American people. It'll lay out the charges, lay out what the allegations, rather. And we shall see. COATES: As they say, "But wait, there's more." If you didn't like that, let me play another clip, we have, from that documentary footage that's been obtained. And, by the way, if you're keeping tabs, on how many documentary videos, were conducted, or filmed, through the course of this? This is like number three or four, right?

Well, here it is.


STONE: Let's just hope we're celebrating.


STONE: I suspect it'll be - I really do suspect it will still be up in the air. When that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. No, we won. (BLEEP) you. Sorry. Over. We won.



STONE: You're wrong. (BLEEP) you.


COATES: Now, let me just say, he has responded, to this footage, coming out.


COATES: And I want to read it, for everyone, here.

And he says, quote, "I challenge the accuracy and the authenticity of these videos and believe they have been manipulated and selectively edited. I also point out that the filmmakers do not have the legal right to use them. How ironic that Kim Kardashian and I are both subjected to computer-manipulated videos on the same day.

The excerpts you provided below prove nothing, certainly they do not prove I had anything to do with the events of January 6th. That being said, it clearly shows I advocated for lawful congressional and judicial options."

Doug, I too speak English. And I heard what was said, in parts, about the idea of possession nine-tenths of the law, claim victory. That really was the blueprint.

DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF OF COMMS FOR FORMER MAJORITY LEADER CANTOR: Yes. And look, he needs a good press secretary, communications director. If you just look at that statement, on the one hand, he says, "This is all fake," popular word in the Trump administration, and then says, "But it clearly shows I didn't do anything." So, the A and the B don't equal C here. And this is the problem, I think, a lot of the real Trump acolytes have, is because facts don't matter at all, say whatever you want to say, your base will go along. It's the rest of the voters, a lot of whom, have made up their minds, negative on Trump that have to make a decision.

But here's where, I'll slightly disagree with David here. I don't think that voters, who haven't made up their mind yet, are going to make up their mind on this. But if you're a campaign, you don't want to be talking about this.

If you're a Republican campaign, at least, you're going to be talking about inflation, crime and the border. You don't want to be talking about abortion, which is a whole other topic, and Donald Trump, on anything. And this is going to make them respond to Donald Trump, yet again.


COATES: Isn't the way though, to sort of put an end, to the point of January 6th, and what happened, and the election denialism, to stop denying the elections? I mean, there's a kind of easy way, for Republicans, who are overwhelmingly, in your ear, talking about this notion, saying that.

Couldn't they simply do away with the constant talk about Trump by not supporting? Everyone's like "No, Laura. No, Laura. No, Laura."

HEYE: Because it's very hard in practice.

COATES: Here you go!

SWERDLICK: At this point, it's almost partly about not wanting to admit you're wrong, right? There are plenty of Republicans - there are plenty of Republicans, who are hardcore Trump supporters. There are plenty of Republicans, who still are bitter, over the 2020 election.

There are others, who may still vote Republican, to your point, but, in their minds, they know this was an attempt, to overturn the results of a free and fair election. And people have a hard time, admitting that they got buffaloed, by President Trump, and the President Trump Show.

WILLIAMS: I think you're just thinking like a lawyer, which is that, if I - no, I'm dead-serious. If you just explain--

COATES: That mean logically, and explain something?

WILLIAMS: Logically incorrectly--

COATES: And just persuading a little bit? Oh!

WILLIAMS: Based on facts and reality? No.

COATES: You're right. I don't know why--


COATES: --I thought to think about facts!

WILLIAMS: Silly you, Laura! Because no--

COATES: That's fine!

WILLIAMS: But literally, if you simply explain that you are correct, people will eventually understand. And I think we're in the post- explaining-you're-correct phase in American politics, right now. And that's part of what's the, disconnect, between the two of you, on that.

COATES: But it is true, though. I mean, if you are a Republican, who would like to reclaim, the majority in Congress? The last thing you want to be doing is talking about the past.

There's that infamous saying about, "If you're talking about the past, you're already losing." Of course, you can have the exception being the infamous line of, "Are you better off today than you were in the past?"

HEYE: Yes.

COATES: That's more of a forward-thinking notion. Why is this idea of not - why is there not the universal approach, to focusing, on the future? Is it the fact that this committee is still happening, or other factors continuing to bog it down?

HEYE: So, I think, everybody here has seen the Mel Brooks' movie "Blazing Saddles." There's a great scene, where Cleavon Little pulls a gun on himself, and he says, "If anybody moves," then he's going to shoot himself. This is what the Republican Party has done to itself, through Donald Trump.

And so, if you're a Republican, you want Trump's support. What does that mean? Well, in North Carolina, last weekend, Ted Budd, the Senate candidate, had a rally with Donald Trump.

Donald Trump spent about 30 seconds, saying "Ted Bud's a good guy. Cheri Beasley, the Democratic opponent, is a bad candidate." The rest of it was the Donald Trump's Grievance Show. And that's what you - that's what you sign on for. And if you back Donald Trump, you got to back him every step of the way.

COATES: The next line, of course, says "He's just crazy enough to do it." I mean, I had to say. And thank you, for the censorship of that particular line.

HEYE: Yes.

COATES: Is he right, in the idea of that this is a new way, of thinking about a self-inflicted wound, for the Republican Party, or Donald Trump? Because he hasn't yet to declare, and he has the track record, of having his endorsements, do very, very well so far. And the talking point about Democrats, only focusing on a way, to get Trump down?

Does the cat really have your tongue?

WILLIAMS: Look, no.

COATES: The two most-opinionated men, I know. Or three.

SWERDLICK: Well, look, there's a couple of things going on here. Republicans are playing catch-up. Democrats had a dismal 2021, or at least the Biden-Harris administration, had a dismal 2021.

Now, Republicans see that Democrats have a story to tell. And now, they're having to come up with a message, other than "We back Trump," other than "Joe Biden is failing." And they may still take Congress.

Look, it's a tough row to hoe for Democrats. But Laura, I do think now they are caught without an affirmative agenda that really resonates with voters. And that I think is going to be where the rubber hits the road, in a few weeks.

HEYE: And that's what Kevin McCarthy, and House Republicans, tried to do last week, outside of Pittsburgh, is say, "We have an agenda we want to run on. And that agenda isn't Donald Trump." That's the problem for them, is they always have to answer questions, about all things Trump. And Trump makes sure of it, for them.

COATES: Well, now the question they have to ask, after the commitment discussion, was why don't you have more information, like Newt Gingrich's 1994 Contract with America plan? But we'll--

HEYE: It's a separate issue.

COATES: Separate issue. But along the same lines. More in a moment. Everyone, stick around.

And, by the way, wait, there's more, with "DON LEMON TONIGHT." He'll have more coverage, on that documentary. So, stick around, to hear that as well.

And ahead, the scandal, involving football legend, Brett Favre. Well I'm a Vikings fan. So, it's hard for me to have said, a "Packers legend, Brett Favre."

But legend Brett Favre's new text messages, have surfaced, in the civil lawsuit, alleging his involvement, in a massive welfare scheme. What they reveal, and could mean, for the Hall of Fame quarterback, is next.



COATES: Well there are new questions, tonight, about Pro Football Hall of Famer, Brett Favre's involvement, in a massive fraud scheme, down in Mississippi. We're talking millions of dollars of welfare funds that were intended to needy families, but they were given to, well, other projects.

Newly-released text messages, from 2019, show Favre, repeatedly pressing then-Governor, Phil Bryant, about funding a volleyball facility, at the university, where his daughter happened to be playing, even after he was told that it was potentially illegal, to go down this route.

Now, on July 28th, 2019, the then-Governor texted Favre, quote, "Use of these funds [is] tightly controlled. Any improper use could result in violation of Federal Law. Auditors are currently reviewing the use of these funds by Families First."

Now, less than two months later, after an in-person meeting, Favre texted Bryant, the following. Quote, "Thanks for having us. We obviously need your help big time and time is working against us. And we feel that your name is the perfect choice for this facility and we are not taking no for an answer. You are a Southern Miss Alumni, and folks need to know you are also a supporter of the University."

Now Bryant, then responded, "We are going to get there. This was a great meeting. But we have to follow the law. I am to[o] old for Federal Prison." Smiley face emoji.

Now, Bryant is not named, in the civil lawsuit, and has not, has not been criminally-charged.


Favre, on the other hand, is named, in the civil suit. His attorney says, he did not know that welfare funds were being used, for the volleyball center, and insist that his fundraising efforts, for the facility, were entirely honorable.

Our guests are back with me now, to discuss.

And, first of all, if any of you says "Favre," I - no, you don't watch football. His name is Brett Favre. We're going to get that right.

First of all, and let me start with you here. These text messages? And, by the way, there's a trend here, today, of text messages, right?


COATES: The fact that you have a text message, or something, in a civil suit, in general, is that hot water?

WILLIAMS: It's absolutely hot water. Look, texts don't lie. And they - there's a reason why, in the law, statements that are made, in the moment, are given more weight, right? You don't have time, to mold them--

COATES: Right.

WILLIAMS: --or get your story straight. It's what you're saying, to someone, at that time, in that moment. And this was a conversation that they thought wasn't being monitored, wouldn't get out to anyone. And it just doesn't look good, if nothing else. I would say, you want to get yourself a criminal defense attorney, wink emoji, because of the fact that I mean, you're kind of in trouble here.

Now, look, it remains to be seen whether it goes far enough to, for him to face criminal exposure. But again, it just looks really bad, when somebody is saying to you, "I'm afraid of criminal exposure. And I don't want to go to prison."

COATES: The other thing, where you can probably get - there's the benefit of the doubt.


COATES: The idea that it can be lost in translation, how often have mentions it just not - it doesn't come across the same way. But then, you got this message, from Brett Favre--


COATES: --where he was asking this particular next thing. And I'm going to put on the screen for you here.

It's, Brett Favre says, "If you were to pay me, is there anyway [sic] the media can find out where it came from and how much?"

"No, we never had that information publicized," talking about "I understand you being uneasy about that though. Let's see what happens on Monday with the conversation with some of the folks" about "at Southern. Maybe it will click with them. Hopefully."

"OK thanks."

There's obviously a knowledge of why not to have the receipts in play here. But forget that it's Brett Favre.


COATES: Forget that it's about the idea of a volleyball center. Are we not all old enough to remember outrage, about the misappropriation of funds? The idea of the allegation, of money meant for the most needy? Why is there not a bigger outcry? And why is this story never getting the reaction?

SWERDLICK: Laura, I don't think you can forget that it's about Brett Favre. Look, everybody is - gets their--

COATES: I mean, that's the point.

SWERDLICK: Everybody gets their day in court, civil or criminal. This is a lot of trouble, over someone with one Super Bowl ring, right?


WILLIAMS: Oh, wow!




HEYE: --there.

SWERDLICK: --he was fined $50,000, by the NFL, for not cooperating with a sexting investigation. Last year, he had to give back $600,000, in another thing, related to Mississippi State funds. He wasn't charged with anything.

Now, we come to this. We don't know all the facts yet. He will get his day in court. But it speaks to me, of someone, who believes his own legend, way too much--


SWERDLICK: --and thinks he can walk on water. When you see those texts, and you see the Governor of the State saying, essentially "Hey, I don't want - I don't want to go to prison over this?"


SWERDLICK: You have to believe that Favre thought he was invisible.

WILLIAMS: And I also think, what doesn't help Brett Favre is that two people that he has been associated with, have convictions already, in connection with the case.

Now look, the whole point of conspiracies, is when the guys around you, have been convicted of something? It doesn't look good for you. And it further strengthens a possible case against him. It's just not good, like, on many levels.

But I don't know who hurt you, Swerdlick!

COATES: I mean?

WILLIAMS: Whether there is--

COATES: --to say, I thought I was the Vikings. You are the Cheeseheads!

WILLIAMS: I know, man!

COATES: Well, let me ask you another question, Doug. You're a Communication Strategist.

HEYE: Yes.

COATES: What advice would you give if this were your client?

HEYE: Yes, look, there's another court. And it's court of public opinion.

COATES: Right, right.

HEYE: And, as David highlighted, Brett Favre doesn't have a - God, I said it correctly, thank God.

COATES: Of course you did. Were we going to call him as Brett Favre?

HEYE: He doesn't have a great track record, when it comes to cooperating with probes. He needs to do with, and get a smart team around him, aside from legal team, to determine what's true, what's not true, what he's able to say, and what he's not able to say.

He hasn't talked yet. At some point, he's going to have to, on this. This isn't just an NFL investigation. We're talking about criminal statutes, now. He's going to have to get a story, and stick to it. And hopefully, if not, win in the courtroom, win some kind of public opinion court.

COATES: I think about this, in a greater context, if you put it in the big umbrella of sort of allegations of fraud. Just last week, there were conversations, involving COVID-19 funds misappropriated.

This is not what Brett Favre is accused of having done at all. And again, there are not, criminal charges against him. These are civil allegations, at the very least, which are no less serious, by the way, for other reasons.

But when you talk about the idea of what happened with COVID-19, what happened with the funding that's there, the big DOJ probe? You were formerly with DOJ, Deputy Attorney General. When you see matters like this, what do you think the political reaction is?

WILLIAMS: Yes. No, it's a couple of things, Laura. There's a few things going on.


Number one, it's a lot of money, in one place. Number two, you have desperate people, and desperate victims, and it's actually kind of easy, to cover your tracks, or so people think. And it creates this perfect storm, of this - of a place, where people think they can defraud others. Look, it's sickening. There's been--

COATES: But why? Why is it so easy to cover-up? Why do you think it's easy for people to do that?

WILLIAMS: Right. Well, people think it's easy. People think it's easy, because of the amount of money, and the complexity of these programs.

Look, it's really hard, to administer a government program, or a welfare program, because you've a lot of different recipients, you've a lot of different criteria. And people think they can just slip through the cracks, and get there. It's sort of - it's the most sickening, because you're preying on the vulnerable, and their ability, to get - to recover.

HEYE: This was a concern, when we went through round one, round two, round three, of funding, was we were throwing money, at a problem that we hadn't figured out, how to solve yet. And these were the right decisions, to make, the right votes for Congress, to make. But given the massive sums of this, it was pretty easy, to see that there would be a lot of fraud.

SWERDLICK: Right. Yes, it was in 2020, when this started happening. And what struck me, about this story, and I know it's near and dear to your heart, because you're a Minnesotan.

COATES: In Minnesota.

SWERDLICK: Right. Look, 2020 was the height of the Pandemic. People were struggling. As you said, people needed this money. And some people said, "Good, let's have this money. Let's - let the government turn on the faucet." And other people were saying, "Good! The government is turning on the faucet."

WILLIAMS: I mean, it's?

SWERDLICK: It really is despicable.

COATES: And politicians, in some respect, were thinking, "Good," for another reason, because they were having a talking point, about the inability, to track the money, the inability, to make sure that everyone who said they needed it, received it for the right purposes.

So, in all the while - all around, you've got the talking point of, was it a good idea? Was it a bad idea? And, of course, I wonder, who's benefited one or two (ph). We'll see, and see with the midterm elections.

Elliot, thank you.

David and Doug, stick around. You didn't have enough analogies, for movies, for me. Sorry!

But coming up, a life-threatening storm, Hurricane Ian, is now strengthening, and moving closer, by the second, to Florida. Forecasters are predicting that a near worst-case scenario, for the entire Tampa area. Now, this is what it looks like from space. It is very serious. And all Floridians must heed the warnings.

The very latest, on Ian's path, is next.



COATES: Well, tonight, Hurricane Ian is gaining strength, and barreling towards Florida, where it could deliver the first direct hit, on Tampa, in a 100 years.

Video shows, Tampa residents, lining up, for hours, today, for sandbags, as meteorologists warn that Ian could literally inundate low-lying areas, with rain, for days. 300,000 people, in coastal areas, have already been ordered, to evacuate. The Head of the Hurricane Center Director calls Hurricane Ian a, quote "Near worst-case scenario," unquote, for the city.

CNN Meteorologist, Tom Sater, joins me now.

Tom, give us a closer look, at where Ian is, right now. And what did the latest advisory tell us about when the storm might make landfall in Florida?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we're about 100 miles now, Laura, from making landfall, in the western tip of Cuba. 8 PM advisory, the pressure is dropping. So, what that means, is it's getting stronger. And the winds will start to pick up. And so, we're at 100 miles sustained. They're going to get stronger than that.

Usually, these systems move over a landmass, and they break down. We're not expecting that to happen at all. In fact, it's already undergone, one, a process, we call, rapid intensification. Decades ago, it used to be one or two a season would happen. Now, with climate change, and these extreme warm waters, it's almost, it's happening all the time.

Here's now, the hurricane warning, for the Tampa area. We're going to see conditions go downhill, in the Keys, tomorrow morning, Southwest Florida, by the afternoon, and then up into Tampa, tomorrow night, into Thursday morning.

There's still some variation, in some of the models. And this is good. We want to see it off to the west. We want to see this move, in what could be a disaster. This does not have to make landfall to be one of the worst-case scenarios, ever, for the Tampa area. If it hangs off shore, and sits for a while, it's going to be really bad.

Look, it goes up to Category 4, already. So that interaction with land means nothing. Another rapid intensification process keeps it as a 4. That's a lot of water, in again, as a major hurricane, carrying all that water, upwelling, underneath it. Even though we're still at a 3, notice how close these are, Laura.

So again, the system's got to slow down. It doesn't have to make landfall. This could be the worst thing that they've seen, since 1921.

COATES: I mean, even if it doesn't make landfall, it will have that possible effect? I mean, the idea here, I think, I was reading that there could be a chance, where Ian could slow down, and sit--


COATES: --on Pinellas County, for 47 hours!


COATES: 47 hours!


COATES: What would that mean, for a potential storm surge and, of course, flooding?

SATER: Well, we've got the storm surge warnings, in effect, from the north of Tampa, all the way southward. But as the system gets closer, to the coastline? That storm surge height is going to get higher and higher.

So, if it's parked, right off Tampa Bay, and we think maybe 25 miles, the closest that Tampa has been brushed by a major hurricane, since 1950? And if it sits there, and the models were showing this?

They're now in agreement, we do not - well, we want them to agree, so we can get a handle on a track. We just don't want them to agree, in this case. Because if this slows down, which we thought maybe 5 miles per hour, then - maybe now it looks like two to three, for two days, this duration.

National Weather Service, out of Tampa, has a wind forecast. And it calls for winds to be tropical storm force, into St. Pete, for 47 hours. That means that wall of waters is going to continue to just push into the region, push into the region, further and further inland. We're not talking about just a row or two of homes. We're talking a mile or two, inward.

And then, it impedes the water, from releasing back into the Gulf. So, it acts as a dam. And, as this stall process continues, now you've got 10 inches, 15 inches, 20 inches of rain, on top that's just going to make the flooding situation worse.

COATES: So, I mean, it's shocking to hear about this, and think about, this is even without landfall, let alone sitting over for 47 hours.

SATER: Right.

COATES: What can you tell Floridians to be doing right now? I mean, is there any way, to prepare sort of evacuation. And even so, where do you go? How far away can you go to be safe?

SATER: Well, I'll tell you. They're doing the right thing, right now, by kind of staggering the evacuation zones. So, they don't want to just clog the roads, all at one time.


But you can see the inundation process. Really if you're in this region, all you have to do, is head east, and maybe south, head over to the other coastline, because the system is going to be moving north of here, and that's when they're going to have a bunch of rainfall.

So, flooding inland is going to be a big deal as well. I mean if you look at even at Port Charlotte, here, the Charlotte Harbor? This is Peace River. That is several miles inland. So, first, have your alerts ready, get your information, know your zone, know your evacuation routes, get ready for just a crazy couple of days.

What we need to see here is just a 25-mile to 30-mile shift to the west, and that'll alleviate a lot of the problems. Still could happen. We've seen changes in the past. Let's hope for this one as well.

COATES: Let's hope so. Thank you so much, Tom Sater. Unbelievable!


COATES: Coming up, the economy isn't the only challenge that Democrats, are facing, with the midterms, just what, six weeks away now? Will crime concerns help Republicans win back Congress?

Plus, she could be the next mayor of L.A. And she's also a recent crime victim, herself. But now, she's facing a lot of scrutiny, from her own rival, after guns, from her home, were stolen. Are there legitimate questions or something more dubious going on? We'll ask next.



COATES: Six weeks out, from the midterms, and Republicans are betting, crime will be a winning issue.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that behind the economy, schools and inflation, crime has surpassed abortion, as a highly- important matter, among voters. 56 percent of voters say that Republicans would do a better job, handling crime, compared to 34 percent, for Democrats. And Republicans also lead voter trust, in those other two top issues, the inflation, and the economy.

Republicans, taking note, and tried to change tactics, in a way, in recent weeks. According to the data firm, AdImpact, Republican candidates, and allies, aired about 53,000 commercials, on crime, during the first three weeks of September, alone. That's up from the 29,000 crime ads, they aired, in all of August. The question is, will it work?

David Swerdlick, and Doug Heye, are here.

And also, Maria Cardona is here, to add to our conversation.

I love that you're here as well.


COATES: So, I want to ask you. First of all, we think about the GOP, and the crime issue. We know that being soft on crime, is often a talking point, people will say.

But the idea of the numbers, increases in violent crime, increases in crime overall, combined with the issue, surrounding law enforcement, "Defund the Police," the idea of mistrust? Leading into the crime issue, can this work for Republicans?

SWERDLICK: It can. I think Democrats can avoid the shellacking that President Obama, and Democrats, took in 2010. But it's still going to be hard, for them, to hold on to Congress.

Pew Research found similar results, as what the Washington Post poll that you just showed found. Abortion is the driver of turnout for Democrats. It animates the Democratic base. But it's not the number one issue that people rank, when they're polled, about what they're concerned about, heading into voting. And we're just a few weeks away.

COATES: Why are you laughing?

CARDONA: Because here's the problem. People didn't think abortion was going to be an issue, in New York 18. People didn't think that this was going to be a big issue, in the Kansas referendum. And it overwhelmingly was, Laura.

The problem with these polls, is that - the abortion issue, has completely energized and mobilized young women, new voters, Latina women. There are two polls out, Laura, where it showed that abortion is the number two issue, for Latino voters. That is astounding, on the side of keeping abortion legal.

So, what you're seeing is that and as we all know, when you poll, registered voters, or even likely voters, if you haven't voted, in the last three elections, you're not going to get polled, most likely. So, those numbers are not showing up.

I guarantee you that there will be a flood of women, coming to the polls, in November. Whether or not, it surpasses crime? I don't know. But I guarantee you, it will continue to be a driving issue. Because, you know, Laura? An election hath no fury like millions of women scorned!

COATES: A good point. Also, though, it's intersect - I mean, kind of intersectional, is it not? We're talking about crime and/or the discussion surrounding abortion. The issue surrounding the Dobbs decision, is the criminalization of abortion. And so, in some respects, I wonder, if they're parsing out, for the polling purposes, the two distinctions, in a certain way.

But I ask you about this, I mean, Doug, I want to hear your opinion. Because Karen Bass, member of Congress, who's now running for mayor, as we all know? Her opponents have criticized her, ever since she was the victim of a crime. A burglary, in her home, guns were stolen, from her home, it's turned into a conversation, instead about whether she had secured them, properly. She says that she does.

But the idea, well, now there might be - well, you know what? Let me listen to what she said, during the debate, to address this very issue, where she herself was blamed.


REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): My home was burglarized. I called the Police. And later, they arrested two suspects. And the storage and registration were 100 percent legal.

You call on me, to prove one thing or another? And then the councilman calls on me to be investigated?


BASS: Yes.

CARUSO: --about your burglary, is that I feel sorry for anybody, including you, for that to happen to.

But I would also say this. There are two guns on the street now. And we have terrible gun violence, in the City of Los Angeles. And that's a shame. And I know that pains you. But knowing how those are stored?


CARUSO: It's a simple thing to answer.


COATES: What strikes me about this, Doug? First of all, you've got this idea of what people often find to be, on Congress, somebody who can be pro-gun control. I mean, she's got an F rating, from the NRA.

HEYE: Yes.

COATES: This is not somebody, who I think the NRA wants to be, as a poster child.


COATES: But the idea of gun ownership, and sensible gun control? These seem to be a kind of a long-winded oxymoron in political speak. Do you think this is a successful strategy, to try to point out somehow, there is some inconsistency, she being a gun owner, and also linking it to crime?

HEYE: This is not only the most bizarre happening, I've ever seen, in a campaign, potentially. It's also bizarre messaging.


And there are so many things that you can run on, and be successful on. Abortion, if you're a Democrat, certainly Democrats are talking about that. Crime, obviously. Inflation, the border, a whole host of things.

This is a very bizarre issue, to stake your claim on, as a candidate, and think that you're going to get real traction. And it's not what voters, in Los Angeles, want to hear about.

SWERDLICK: And, I was just going to say, people should remember, on a national audience, even though Congresswoman Bass doesn't have that huge profile? In California, she's very familiar to people. She was the Speaker of the California Assembly. She was the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. She's been around L.A. Politics, a long time.

Caruso is behind. And so, he's trying to attack her, however, he can.

CARDONA: You know, what it is really just underscores the bizarreness of it, and frankly, what, to me, is just outright racism and misogyny, is that what you said, Laura, at the beginning about this being in Congress?

I think, actually, if you're a White man, how many members of Congress, Democratic White male members of Congress, who have guns, are out there, talking about how they own guns, and they are the ones that are proposing gun safety measures? It gives them credibility.

COATES: Like President Biden?

CARDONA: Exactly. Well, exactly. And then--

COATES: Same as the gun-owner.

CARDONA: Exactly. And then everyone that lives in the West, Manchin, and a couple of other - the Senator, from Montana.

And - but a Black woman can't do it. And it's completely the opposite. And she is seen as somehow, what they're trying to paint her as, and let's just say things as they are, as dangerous and bizarre.


CARDONA: And they want to inject fear. And, to me, it is just the outright use of fear-mongering. It is an old Republican tactic. I don't think it's going to work. Clearly, like you said, she's running away with it. And this is complete desperation, on her opponent's part.

COATES: Well, you know, who agrees with you? Karen Bass. And she said, here, and I quote, she's speaking to the L.A. Times columnist, Erika Smith, and she said, "It's the whole narrative that they're attempting to create that is always created with Black elected officials"--


COATES: --"trying to make me untrustworthy."

CARDONA: Yes, yes. It's gross.

COATES: Well, we'll see what happens, if it's successful, or not. I don't know. Either way, I mean, if this is the new horizon, a new frontier? Well?

CARDONA: It's ugly!

COATES: Thank you, David Swerdlick, Doug Heye, and Maria Cardona.

CARDONA: Thanks.

COATES: Coming up, everyone, a crash test, in outer space. We'll look at tonight's extraordinary NASA mission that could help Earth, one day, stop an asteroid, from slamming into us. That's next. [21:50:00]


COATES: All right, humanity can sleep a little better, tonight. NASA, tonight, conducted its very first Planetary Defense Test mission, by slamming a spacecraft, into an asteroid.

Now, here is the moment, from NASA's Mission Control.



Oh my Gosh!




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Awaiting visual confirmation.



COATES: The good news? That asteroid system poses no danger, to Earth. But NASA is learning what to do, should an asteroid, threaten us.

Here now, from a retired NASA astronaut, great perspective, on this issue, Leland Melvin.

Leland, I'm so glad that you're here. I see your smile. I know it was a big success. We saw the cheers. You were actually at NASA's facility, when the spacecraft made impact. What was that moment like?

LELAND MELVIN, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Laura, thanks for having me on.

It was the most energetic, frenetic, crazy moment like a Super Bowl moment, where you saw these scientists and engineers, being celebrated, like they had just won the Super Bowl.

And you think about the implications, of being able to hit a target, 7 million miles, from Earth, and keep us from doing what happened to the dinosaurs, maybe one day, if there is a larger asteroid, coming to our planet, and we being able to mitigate that, before it hits us and causes, human tragedy, for losing our civilization, and like the dinosaurs?

And so, I think--


MELVIN: --what we've done here has shown that we have the technology, and the know-how, to defend our planet, planetary protection. And it's just amazing night.

COATES: So, what was trying to be accomplished? It wasn't the idea of, and I - of course, I'm going to cite a movie. And you, as an astronaut, will go "Really, Laura? This is not Hollywood!" I'm talking about the movie "Armageddon." Remember, when Bruce Willis, and Ben Affleck, and Liv Tyler, had the whole thing about trying to blow up an asteroid?

That was not this, though. You did not want to blow it up into different pieces. It was trying to nudge it off its course. Is that right? Why the distinction?

MELVIN: A kinetic impactor. So, the movie variation was a very large asteroid that was on a collision course, with our planet.

But if we can get to the asteroid, soon enough, we can push it, just enough, so that by the time it gets closer, to our planet, just a small angle, far away, will make a big angle, and miss the planet, when it gets closer, to our solar system, I mean, our planet.

And so, we don't want to blow it up. We want to push it, or maybe we want to drag it away, maybe have a spacecraft that has a net that can capture it, and just move it out of the way. So, there are different ways that you can actually, deflect an asteroid.

But that option, for sending astronauts there, why not do it remotely, robotically, so that we don't have to--


MELVIN: --send people, 7 million miles away, and find out ways to do that.

COATES: There's got to be a lot of risk, in something like it. What is the risk of a mission like this?

MELVIN: Well, there's actually not much of a - it's a robotic mission. There's no human beings on board. So, if we can demonstrate that we can do this, without sending humans, to the asteroid, to remove it, like they did in "Armageddon," and "Deep Impact," and these other Hollywood movies, which, I like those movies. You probably like them too, Laura.

COATES: Do you?

MELVIN: They were entertaining.

COATES: I wonder.


COATES: I mean, I'm not an astronaut. So, I can't tell, if it's real or not. I'm just cheering along.

[21:55:00] MELVIN: But if you have the option, of sending the hardware, versus sending us, where we can stay home, with our dogs, and our kids, I would choose that second option. And again, we've demonstrated that, in this NASA, and Applied Physics Lab test tonight, for this incredible moment in time.

COATES: When you think about a test, of course, you wonder, obviously, it's for preparation. It's a dry run, trying to make sure that you can, if the time comes, do something about it.

How concerned should we really be, here, on Earth that this is an occurrence, worthy of such a mission, to be tested, and executed with such success?

MELVIN: Well, we know that an asteroid that's about 7 miles in diameter, hit the Yucatan Peninsula, and created an Ice Age, and fire, and brimstone, and wiped out the dinosaurs. And so, we know this has happened, historically.

The question is, how many asteroids are out there, with that size, and can do that kind of damage. And so, one of the things, we're doing, is we're doing a survey, as best we can, to look at what's out there, and see if they're planet-killers, of if they're actually--


MELVIN: --things that can do damage, to part of the planet.

COATES: Right.

MELVIN: But there could be something, out there, really far this on, something called a highly elliptical orbit that's so far away, but it's moving so fast, and it can come into our vicinity. But we can still detect that, and maybe do something to mitigate that, also.


MELVIN: So, we haven't found out that there's nothing out there that can impact us. But maybe one day, when we talk about your kids, grandchildren's, grandchildren's, grandchildren's, grandchildren's grandchildren?

COATES: Leland, don't make me any older than I am!

MELVIN: And thinking about saving humanity and--

COATES: No, no. Not grandchildren's grandchildren's grand - I'm going to end it here, on that. And just if I had the thing, live long and prosper? Well, we'll talk to you soon. We'll see what happens next. Thank you, Leland Melvin.

We'll be right back.

MELVIN: Live long and prosper!

COATES: Oh, you can do it? We'll be right back.


COATES: Thanks for watching, everyone. I'll be back, tomorrow night.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

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