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The Situation Room
Tonight: DOJ To Respond To Trump's "Special Master" Request; FBI & Intel Agencies Began Reviewing Mar-a-Lago Materials For Classification Levels In Mid-May; Mikhail Gorbachev, Last President Of Soviet Union, Died At 91; Mississippi's Largest City In Crisis As Water Supply Fails; 150K Without Safe Drinking Water In Mississippi Capital City; Biden Addresses Gun Crime And Policing In America; Biden: Answer To Public Safety In U.S. Is "Fund The Police"; General Who Oversaw Afghanistan Exit On One Year Since Withdrawal. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 30, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that ultimately risks the problem that the Ukrainians will face which is they may end up laying siege themselves to a Ukrainian city. That is something they need to avoid, Kasie.
KASIE HUNT, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. Sam Kiley and Ukraine, thanks very much for that report.
Our coverage continues right now with THE SITUATION ROOM.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Happening now, a new deadline for the Justice Department. Prosecutors are about to submit a lengthy response to former President Trump's request for a special master and the Mar-a-Lago investigation.
And Mikhail Gorbachev, the lead bass leader of the Soviet Union has died in Moscow at the age of 91. This hour, we're going to look back at his life and his place in history.
Also ahead for you tonight, Mississippi's largest city in crisis right now amid a catastrophic failure of its water supply. More than 150,000 residents of Jackson unable to drink their tap water or even take a shower. The mayor is standing by to join me live.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Pamela Brown and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And we begin our coverage this evening with new developments in the Mar-a-Lago investigation. The Justice Department is facing a midnight deadline as prosecutors prepare a lengthy response to Trump's request for a third party attorney to review seized materials. Our Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is tracking the story for.
So, Evan, we're awaiting this public filing on a so called special master. We know often DOJ likes to wait to the last second until it files, but what are you expecting?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And we love, we love waiting --
BROWN: Oh, don't we?
PEREZ: -- till the last final hour. Well, we know, Pamela, that the Justice Department said that they needed up to 40 pages, which is double the number that they're usually allowed in this -- in Southern District of Florida, to address what they said were legal and factual issues. I think that tells us a little bit. It tells us that, you know, the prosecutor has believed that there are at least parts of the record that was presented by the former president's legal team that they believe need to be corrected.
And of course, we know that his lawsuit was filled with some of his grievances. He says that there was bias by the FBI and the prosecution team at the Justice Department. And he also said that they've been very cooperative with the Justice Department investigation, which we of course, know that the Justice Department absolutely disagrees with. So that's -- those are some of the things that we're expecting to see in this filing, which could come between now, and of course, midnight.
And you know, we know that, you know, part of this investigation has been going on since May when the FBI was given access to these boxes that were brought back to the National Archives and they've been working with the intelligence community to try to assess the classification issues and to see whether there's any harm that -- potential harm that could come from those -- from the exposure of those classified documents, Pamela.
BROWN: And this comes at a time when Trump is adding a new name to his legal team after struggling having to find additional legal help. What are you learning about that?
PEREZ: Right, he has added a finally a big Florida name. His name is Chris Kise. He was a Florida's Solicitor General before. He's argued at least four cases before the Supreme Court. And he worked with the former Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Obviously, this has been a struggle for the former president and his legal team that are trying to find good lawyers who could help guide him. We've seen already some mistakes, obviously, in the last couple of weeks, Pamela. So perhaps, with the addition of some real good, legal, you know, some of the good legal advice, we'll see whether the president can try to take on this Justice Department investigation, which is a real legal threat to him.
BROWN: It is, absolutely. And on that note, Evan, standby, because we have more to discuss with our panel.
I want to bring in CNN Legal Analyst Jennifer Rodgers and CNN Legal and National Security Analyst Carrie Cordero.
Carrie, first to you, what does it tell you that these DOJ prosecutors want 40 pages to respond to the Trump team? CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think they want to take advantage of this opportunity to maybe make this idea of a special master go away. And they want to have as much space as the judge will grant them to be able to make those arguments. They're going to want to argue against the claims of privilege that the former president is making. They're want to -- going to want to explain how they already have reviewed materials, how they had a taint team already in place. So they're going to want to make arguments for why a special master is completely unnecessary and perhaps past the point of being useful at this point.
And they might, I'll be interested to see whether they make any arguments about precedent that could be set by establishing one in this case. So, they'll take as much space as the judge is willing to give them to make their arguments.
BROWN: Why would, Jennifer, DOJ want this to go away? Why wouldn't it want a special master, exactly? And I know, as Carrie, said there's already a filter team in place, but what would be the harm in it?
JENNIFER RODGERS CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, one thing, of course, as Carrie just said is the precedent, you don't want to have to fight against a special master and every case you have, but in this particular case, it's the delay. I mean, if they've already reviewed everything for privilege and the judge orders a special master to come in and rereview all of this material for privileges, that's going to take time.
And not just on the review side, to have someone cleared to review these particular documents, which are at quite high levels of classification, you need the special master to get clearance. Special master is someone from outside government, usually someone in private practice, often a former judge, so that person has to get cleared. And those background clearance checks take a lot of time. So we're talking about, I think, certainly weeks of delay, maybe more if a special master is appointed, and I think DOJ wants to avoid that.
BROWN: And Evan, we're hearing that some Trump allies claim he's being treated differently than Hillary Clinton. It's been a talking point for several days now. But does Trump have himself to blame for that?
PEREZ: I mean, you could say that, right? In 2018, the former president, he was president at the time in 2018 and he signed an extension of the FISA law, this is the intelligence law. And one of the things it did is it increased the penalties for violating the, you know -- any mishandling of classified documents.
So the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents is a crime. And he increased it from a one year penalty for, you know, potential -- for violations to five years. So, you know, it is a more serious crime now. And so perhaps that is one reason why things are different now.
BROWN: And Carrie, bringing you back in, as you heard, the FBI has been working with the intelligence community since May to go through these documents document by document, determining classification level, if any action is needed immediately to protect sources and methods. Help us better understand what this process looks like.
CORDERO: So I think there's probably a couple pieces to it, Pamela. One is determining whether -- conducting an investigation to determine whether these documents were exposed to anybody beyond the former president or perhaps his former aides, whether there were other individuals at Mar-a-Lago, whether there's been just unaffiliated civilians or even foreign government officials who had access to these documents. So that's one piece of the investigation.
The other is from an intelligence community perspective, looking at the documents and conducting an analysis of what if this particular document or what if that particular document made its way somewhere out into the world, what would be the harm to intelligence collection activities, whether those are counterintelligence activities or whether those are international terrorism or regarding other matters of national security and national defense? And then the national security establishment needing to adjust its methods, its collections, its investigations, or its activities to mitigate the -- against the possibility that these documents got out in some way.
BROWN: And Jennifer, I had reporting that DOJ had subpoenaed for video at Mar-a-Lago twice, and I'm wondering if you think that could be part of the damage assessment. That's why they did that too, because they wanted to see who was having access to these documents, who was going in and out of that room where -- the primary room where the documents were being held.
RODGERS: Definitely Pam, because we know that they had ordered that all documents be kept in a specific room and that the security to that room be increased. If they're now getting the video of recording of, you know, the hallway or the door or whatever shows people in and out of that room, it's because they have seen or think they were going to see people moving into that in and out of that room who shouldn't have access to those documents. And also the documents leaving the room, we also have reporting that documents were found in places other than that room. So that's certainly what they're looking for there. And that could be important proof as they make their arguments to the judge.
BROWN: And we don't know what has been found, right, Evan? But if the intelligence community finds that there was fallout from this, right, that sources were compromised --
BROWN: -- that kind of thing. I mean, how could that play in to the legal case against Trump or potential charges?
PEREZ: Right. Right now, all of the language in the documents that we've seen so far, the look at the crimes that are being investigated, right now, they're all about potential harm. If they find anything to indicate that some of this may have made it to say a foreign government, then that changes the equation dramatically. And we're talking about a much, much more serious criminal consequences for, you know, the former president or anyone else who may have been involved. That's where this goes really, really serious from a theoretical, you know, possibility of harm to actual harm.
BROWN: That's really important contacts.
All right. Thank you all so much.
We have breaking news next. We're just learning of the death of the last year of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. We're going to look at his life and his legacy, next.
BROWN: We're following breaking news tonight. Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union has died in Moscow at the age of 91. CNN's Phil Black looks at his remarkable role in the history of his country and the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Vladimir Putin delivered his third presidential inauguration speech in May 2012, one of his predecessors was seen briefly making a few comments of his own. We don't know what Mikhail Gorbachev said, but it's unlikely they were kind words about Mr. Putin.
After 12 years under Putin, Gorbachev wanted change. He wasn't alone. The months leading up to this ceremony so unprecedented opposition to Putin's rule with 10s of 1000s of people regularly on the streets calling for him to go. Gorbachev supported them publicly, and from that point he didn't hold back as a critic of Russia's political direction and leadership.
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, LAST SOVIET UNION PRESIDENT (through translator): We have now reached a stage where we interrupted Perestroika, but there'll be no turning back even as Vladimir Putin and others return to those old methods of control with force and fear.
BLACK (voice-over): Over time, Gorbachev's views on Putin had flipped. When Putin first took over as president, Gorbachev backed him, and he kept backing him for a long time. In this 2008 interview with CNN, Gorbachev defended Putin's leadership and his commitment to democracy.
GORBACHEV (through translator): Putin has been a successful president.
DMITRI TRENIN, DIRECTOR, MOSCOW CARNEGIE CENTER: Gorbachev's view of Putin and Putin's policies have changed with Putin's policies and with Putin's own changing and his own evolution. And clearly, somewhere in the mid-2000s, Putin started to become much more authoritarian.
BLACK (voice-over): Gorbachev supported Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. Two days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Gorbachev's foundation issued a call for a ceasefire and peace talks. But Russia's modern political leaders didn't care whether they had Gorbachev support or not. To them, he would always be the man who allowed the USSR to collapse. Gorbachev sometimes expressed regret.
GORBACHEV (through translator): I fought the best I could to defend the Soviet Union, but I failed.
BLACK (voice-over): But in later years, he spent a lot more time defending his actions as Soviet leader.
GORBACHEV (through translator): Perestroika achieved a lot. Inside Russia we had democracy, free elections, freedom of conscience, private property, freedom to travel abroad, everything.
BLACK (voice-over): He gave people freedoms, but struggled to feed them. More than 20 years later, many Russians still blame Gorbachev for the Soviet Union's humiliation and the hardships they endured.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I remember the jump of prices, bread became more expensive, inflation that was huge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I call for the trial of Mikhail Gorbachev.
BLACK (voice-over): Gorbachev and popularity at home was rivaled in intensity by his star status abroad where he was celebrated as a great statesman. This was his 80th Birthday gala in London in 2011.
SHARON STONE, ACTRESS: We have an opportunity to thank someone for being such an extraordinary example of good citizenship. What democracy really can mean and what it means to be a beacon of light and hope in the world.
BLACK (voice-over): Gorbachev spoke candidly at that age and poor health catching up with him. But he kept working.
TRENIN: He managed to stay intellectually active in Russian political life 20 years after his departure as president, something which is totally unprecedented in this country.
BLACK (voice-over): He wrote books, launched political parties to it and gave speeches. He raised money for his own foundation, as well as the cancer fighting charity named after his late wife. Raisa Gorbacheva died of leukemia in 1999. Ten years later, her husband recorded an album of love songs he used to sing to her.
BLACK (voice-over): Only one copy was ever released, and it was sold at a charity auction for more than $160,000.
GORBACHEV (through translator): This is something I did for Raisa in memory of Raisa.
BLACK (voice-over): This was another fundraising job then it became one of Gorbachev's most famous images. The ad for designer luggage shows him pensively looking at the remains of the Berlin Wall. Its destruction remains the most iconic achievement of Gorbachev's time in power, and a key reason why he was so respected by the international community. Some Russians believe one day he will be equally admired by his own people.
IGOR ZEVELEV, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that 100 years from now he will be judged more favorably in my country than he is just -- when he's judged Today.
BLACK (voice-over): A towering international hero branded a domestic failure, a man who changed the world and spent his life working for his country.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BROWN: And let's get more on this breaking news. CNN Senior International Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen in Moscow and CNN Global Affairs Analyst Susan Glasser, a staff writer for The New Yorker.
So Fred, just how monumental is Gorbachev's legacy?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's absolutely gigantic. And it's certainly something that really transcends not just obviously, Russia, the former Soviet Union, but then all of Europe and basically the entire world.
And I think we heard some of that just now in Phil's report about how Mikhail Gorbachev obviously, is credited with being pivotal in bringing down the Iron Curtain and bringing together unity in Europe. But I think one of the things that is really important in that is that Mikhail Gorbachev is also largely responsible for making sure that all of that happened peacefully, that there was no fighting, that, for instance, the Soviet army left what was then East German territories peacefully, went there -- went away on its own.
And, you know, having lived through that area, it was absolutely pivotal back then when Mikhail Gorbachev said that it was not up to him or to the Soviet Union to decide how people would live in Europe. That basically gave the go ahead for the unification of Germany, for the unification of Europe. And then obviously, in the wake of that, the dissolution of the Soviet Union happened as well. And Europe really formed into what it is today.
But I think that certainly the legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev is one where you do have to say he was probably the most pivotal of the great leaders that were in office at that point in time, including George Bush Senior, including Helmut Kohl, including Margaret Thatcher, but he was obviously the pivotal one because the Soviet Union was giving up so much at that time. But making sure that all of that happened peacefully with these two nuclear armed superpowers, that is probably the biggest legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev, Pamela.
BROWN: And it's really interesting, Susan, because Gorbachev ushered in this era of openness that ultimately ended the Cold War, right? But he had hoped to reform the Soviet Union, not collapse it, right?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFAIRS ANALYST: Absolutely, Pamela. You know, his words were Perestroika, which means restructuring, and Glasnost, which was an opening up a freedom of speech inside the Soviet Union right up until the coup in 1991. And through the rest of that year, he tried to find a way to have a Soviet Union that was both more free and also intact. And those two goals were incompatible.
And of course, we see right now the toxic possibility that could have happened in 1991 and 1992. Violent war between Russia and Ukraine, that was differed by the decision that Gorbachev made. And yet now you see Vladimir Putin, frankly, torching the legacy of Gorbachev, going to war to revise the piece that is largely held since the end of the Soviet Union. It really shows you that the era was book ended, you know, 1989, 1990, those were remarkable times when great freedoms came to unfree countries in the former Soviet Union, largely because of the legacy of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev.
BROWN: Yes, it's really interesting that present day Russia, and what you're seeing from Russia right now with Ukraine, stems from Gorbachev, his actions bringing down the Iron Curtain, ending the Soviet Union. How has he been remembered inside Russia, Fred?
PLEITGEN: Well, it really is a mixed bag. And there is a lot of controversy there. You know, it was quite interesting, because I have met very young people here in Moscow who told me that they consider Mikhail Gorbachev to be an enemy of the people, to be a traitor to Russia, and obviously, also to the legacy of the Soviet Union. Those are fairly young people. And that's something that really transcends a lot of people here or a lot of age groups here in Russia right now, where I think that a lot of people have very hard feelings towards Mikhail Gorbachev who feel that he destroyed some of the prestige that the Soviet Union, obviously had as being a nuclear superpower, a big superpower arrival to the west, arrival to the United States.
And then, in the wake of -- after Mikhail Gorbachev stepped down, obviously and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, the chaos that ensued in Russia, the humiliation that many people felt not just in their personal lives, as many people's economic situation became a lot more difficult, but many people also felt that the country had lost a lot of its prestige, that the country had become weak. And I think it's absolutely correct to draw a line between what happened after Mikhail Gorbachev stepped down, the Soviet Union ceased to exist to to today. And some of the things that are going on in Europe right now with many people believing that Russia or many folks in Russia here believing that it is Russia really coming back to the greatness that they feel it should have.
BROWN: Yes, it was interesting too in Phil Black's piece, you have the Russian they're saying he believes in 100 years from now, Russians will look more favorably upon Gorbachev than they do now.
Susan Glasser, Frederick Pleitgen, thank you so much.
And up next, Mississippi's capital is in crisis tonight. More than 150,000 residents unable to drink or use their tap water. The city's mayor joins me after a quick break.
BROWN: We're following an unfolding crisis that has left 150,000 residents of Mississippi's capital and largest city without drinkable water. The emergency sparked by the failure of Jackson's main water treatment facility. So let's bring in CNN National Correspondent Ryan young on the scene for us.
You've been talking to residents, how bad is it there?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you they are very upset and they're very frustrated as you can understand. You can see the rain that's coming down right now, that's actually welcomed at this point, because earlier today, it was 91 degrees. People were waiting in car for over two hours just to get some water.
And that's the distribution site that's behind us. You can see there's nothing there anymore. All the water ran out in less than an hour and a half. We'll show you some of this video. You can see the long lines. I was talking to seniors. I was talking to people who decided to carpool here. And they just wanted some water. When they got to the front of line, there was one container of water per family.
That's one little pallet, maybe about 24, 12 ounces of water that each one we're getting. People were really upset about this. When the idea, they've been catching rainwater to flush their toilets. They've been trying to brush their teeth with some of the excess water they have from that rainwater sometimes.
One fairly even showed us brown water that was coming out of their faucet, they were trying to bathe their children. So you can understand how frustrated and upset people are. Take a listen to some of the folks that we've talked to a little earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONNIE CRUDUP JR., MISSISSIPPI STATE HOUSE: We can't shower, can't bathe and can't send the kids to school last night. It would just air kind of coming out of it. Nothing, you know, not enough pressure at all to do anything with, you know, you couldn't boil water at all. You couldn't flush the toilets because there's just not enough water coming into the system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: Yes, schools are closed and you can understand people worried about firefighters and how they can fight a fire under these conditions. At the same time again, let's think about people sitting in line for over two and a half hours and the water ran out after just an hour and a half. People want to know when they can get some water and when the situation will be all over. But this is not the first time this has happened. Pamela?
BROWN: All right. CNN's Ryan Young, thank you.
So let's try to get some answers. We're going to have more on this crisis now with the Mayor of Jackson Chokwe Lumumba. Hi, Mayor, thanks for your time. I know how busy you are. So you just heard Ryan's report there that residents waited for hours at a water distribution site today, only to be turned away without water. What are you doing to address that issue, making sure your residents get safe and clean water?
MAYOR CHOKWE LUMUMBA, JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI: Yes. Well, that's one of the additional traumas of not having water coming through our pipes and the ongoing circumstance that we've had with this water crisis for the better part of two years. Distributions will continue. We've been promised by MEMA that they will help providing tanker trucks to provide more water to our residents. This has been an ongoing effort for more than just through this flood event, distributing water to our residents.
And so our constituent services department, which is small but mighty, has been working along with our fire department for distributions each and every day. So unfortunately, what we have to supplement is not an never ending supply, but we can point them to other distribution locations. And I can assure them -- what I have been assured by MEMA is that they will supplement those locations with about 28, if I remember the exact estimate, 28 tanker trucks distributed various points across the city.
BROWN: So basically, even though there is this crisis, if you are a resident there, and you want clean and safe water, you need it for your, you know, powdered baby formula for your baby, you will be able -- they will be able to find that, right?
LUMUMBA: They will be able to find that, but it's still, you know, more than an inconvenience is a disruption to life. You know, how you schedule your day around having to go and pick up water changes, you know, the time you may report to work changes, you know, when you drop off your children to be cared by someone changes. The schedule of our school system.
And so it is a major interruption in life and its entirety for so many residents. And they have been beyond frustrated. And I understand. We've been lifting up this challenge for more than two years, feeling like we've been going it alone. And so we welcome the discussion of the state recently, when they showed up in my office and shared that they were going to issue a declaration of emergency along with my declaration of emergency to help supplement the needs in our water treatment facility.
We have an aged water treatment facility. We have over three decades of deferred maintenance in our water treatment facility. We have repeated challenges that take place time and time again. And so what we have been reverberating for more than two years is that it's not a matter of if the systems will fail, it's a matter of when these systems will fail. And we've seen this far too consistently. BROWN: It's been going on for years as you said. It's just, you know, so sad to think of a basic human right. You know, access to water being denied to your citizens there, to the residents there in Jackson and this crisis right now, but it stems from over the last several years.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, thank you.
LUMUMBA: Thank you.
BROWN: And just ahead, President Biden delivers a fiery political speech in the battleground state of Pennsylvania taking aim at Republicans for attacking the FBI and failing to condemn the January 6 insurrection.
BROWN: While visiting the key battleground state of Pennsylvania today, President Biden condemned MAGA Republicans for supporting those who stormed the Capitol on January 6. This as the President also passionately argued for gun control and more funding for police.
Let's bring in CNN's Kaitlan Collins. So Kaitlan, the President raised his voice tonight in Pennsylvania as he questioned Republican support for law enforcement. What else did he say?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, it was the most forceful condemnation that we have seen yet from President Biden of these attacks that we've seen ramped up against the nation's top law enforcement agencies ever since that FBI search of former President Trump's home. Of course, you've seen the leaders of those agencies speak out against those threats. A lot of them online.
This violent rhetoric that has been directed at the rank and file members of the FBI after they conducted that search of Trump's home to retrieve those sensitive materials that he took with him after leaving office.
And tonight, President Biden was in Pennsylvania. He said these attacks have sickened him, he criticized them and he also went after those in the Republican Party who have even gone as far as to suggest defunding the FBI tying it all back to, of course, the attacks on January 6.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress. Don't tell me you support law enforcement if you won't condemn what happened on a six. Don't tell me, can't do it. For God's sake, whose side are you on? Whose side are you on Look, I want to say as clear as I can, there's no place in this
country, no place for endangering the lives of law enforcement, no place. None, never, period. I'm opposed to defunding the police. I'm also opposed to defunding the FBI.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: And Pam, you've seen more moderate Republicans also criticize those who have call -- who -- some of those in their party who have called to destroy or to defund the FBI. Vice President Mike Pence comes to mind when you think of those. But also during these remarks tonight, and this is closer to the end of President Biden's speech, he also went after Senator Lindsey Graham,.
He did not name him, but he made very clear who he was talking about, of course, after Graham was criticized for comments he made recently on Fox News where he was comparing the search of Trump's home and saying that if he is prosecuted for taking these classified materials to Mar-a-Lago with him when Hillary Clinton was not for using a private server for communications when she was Secretary of State, Lindsey Graham said there would be, quote, riots in the streets. This is what President Biden had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The idea you turn on a television and see senior senators and congressmen saying, if such and such happens, there'll be blood in the street. Where the hell are we?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Now, Pam, as you notice, he did not name Senator Lindsey Graham, he didn't really need to, it's quite clear what he was talking about there. But very forceful remarks from President Biden today after what we've seen these attacks on the FBI, these attacks on the Justice Department because of that search of Mar-a-Lago.
BROWN: All right, Kaitlan, stay with us.
I also want to bring in CNN Senior Commentator, former Republican, Ohio Governor, John Kasich. So Governor Kasich, what do you make of those forceful remarks from the President aimed squarely at members of your party?
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's, you know, the issues are fair game, Pamela, and you know, he's out there talking about guns, and he's talking about January 6, I think it's all legitimate. And the rhetoric is going to get hotter and hotter as we get closer to the election. But I'm told that he was reported as comparing these MAGA Republicans to like, I think calling them like, semi-fascist, OK?
That's not what we want out of Joe Biden. That's the kind of stuff you hear out of Donald Trump. So you can be heated. But just be careful you don't go over the line. Because if you're battling for the soul of the country, if I'm battling for the soul of the country, I'm trying to figure out how to get most people together, not most pushing most people apart.
But we're in a political season right now. It involves fundraising. And that kind of high rhetoric probably raises some money. And it's OK for them to talk about issues. I'd rather than be talking about the issues of guns and crime than all the stuff that we've been hearing about over the last few months. That would be helpful.
BROWN: Well, certainly, Kaitlan, the President has been ramping up his rhetoric, and as you said, today has been one of his most forceful speeches to date. Why are we hearing this message from the President focusing on Republicans and on law enforcement right now?
COLLINS: I think with the FBI, it's because of the attacks the spike that you've seen in the threats against the FBI and these rank and file members, which is President Biden said earlier today, they were just doing their job when they executed that search warrant on Mar-a- Lago. The other hand of it is also that we are 10 weeks out from the midterm election. So this overarching message that you're seeing where President Biden is emphasizing this contrast between Democrats and Republicans, that's the point of that.
And that is why he was in Pennsylvania today, he was talking about his strategy to reduce crime in the United States. But he also made -- took plenty of opportunities to draw that contrast between Democrats and Republicans and pushing for, of course, Democrats in that state since they are electing a new governor, they are picking a new senator. The governor is, of course, going to pick a Secretary of State who is chief and critical to the state's elections and how those are carried out.
So basically making the argument that there's a lot on the line. And Pennsylvania is getting a lot of attention from this President specifically right now. He's going to visit there two more times within the next week alone. Trump is going to be there holding his own rally on Saturday.
And Pam I should note that in the President's speech on Thursday, it is going to harken back to that message you often heard from him on the campaign trail about democracy being under attack.
BROWN: Governor Kasich, Republicans have tried to paint --
BROWN: Oh, go ahead.
KASICH: Yes. I was going to say, look, there is no excuse for -- and no Republicans are going to stand up and defund the FBI. And that's wrong to attack this kind of an institution. We have to see how this all plays out. But it's interesting to see Joe Biden trying to turn the tables and say, I'm not for defunding the police. When, as you know, the Democratic Party has been playing catch up because of the sense and some people in the party extremists just like you have in the Republican Party, extremists in the Democratic Party who are saying, well, we should defund the police, OK?
What we found is that the we're not defunding the police, in fact, we're refunding them because we understand the implications. And when it comes to the attacks on the FBI, these extremists in the Republican Party are just wrong about that.
BROWN: All right.
KASICH: They're not going to defund the FBI.
BROWN: Yes. I don't see that happening. John Kasich, Kaitlan Collins --
BROWN: -- thank you both. And coming up one year --
KASICH: All right, thank you.
BROWN: -- after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, I'm going to speak with a general who oversaw the exit from America's longest war.
BROWN: Exactly one year after U.S. troops completed a deadly and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is thanking all Americans who serve there promising to, quote, never forget their sacrifice.
Joining us now to discuss is Retired General Frank McKenzie, who oversaw the exit from America's longest war. General, thank you for coming on. A year on, how are you reflecting on the U.S. legacy in Afghanistan?
GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE (RET.), FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Sure, year ago today, Pamela, at about this time I was sitting in my command post as our last force is cleared out of Afghanistan. I'm still processing that last month, that last month of August was a significant blur. I think all of us at Central Command, everybody that was working that very, very difficult problem.
BROWN: What was that, like when you were sitting there bringing out the last U.S. forces? What did that feel like? Help us better understand. I mean, we were all glued to the TV watching this unfold there.
MCKENZIE: So you're talking to your commanders on the ground, we're collapsing the perimeter, we have a lot of firepower stacked up overhead in case any problems arise. And the 82nd Airborne was the last force left in contact. They pulled back and we're able to get out. Unfortunately, as you know, we were not able to bring out every one we wanted to bring out.
We left a lot of Afghans behind that we wanted to bring out. We did bring out well over 100,000 people and I think that's a good thing. There's still people there that would like to get too that we were not able to do during the period of time that we had to do the evacuation.
BROWN: You have said that it haunts you, that you weren't able to get out everybody that you wanted to, what do you think the U.S. owes the people left behind in Afghanistan?
MCKENZIE: Well, I think those people that fought alongside us, those people that were interpreters, that did all kinds of other things for us that were fundamental to our effort there. I would like to think we could try to get some of those out. Now we're working with the Taliban, they're a regime. This is the process of returning Afghanistan to a medieval society, they're deconstructing civil society, as we know it.
This is going to be very hard to work with them going forward. But I think we need to do that. It's a diplomatic problem. It is not a military problem.
BROWN: I want to talk to you about a House Republican report that criticize your decision not to take a Taliban offer for the U.S. to secure Kabul during the evacuation. You thought that wasn't a sincere offer, but former officials say this would have made a key difference. What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?
MCKENZIE: Well, the key difference that would have made would be that we would have had to put in probably 15,000 to 20,000 additional U.S. forces to secure Kabul. There's no doubt in my mind that we were had far higher casualties. Had we had to secure all of Kabul. People who make those assertions simply aren't familiar with the facts. They're not familiar with the military geography of Kabul, and they're not familiar with military operations. Aside from that, it was a perfectly fine plan.
BROWN: Was there anything you would have done differently?
MCKENZIE: There are always things you look back and you say, could I have done something different, particularly when Americans lose their lives, and of course, Americans were killed at Abbey Gate during the height of the drawdown. You know, we made that decision to work transactionally with the Taliban, to have them provide security around, you know, parts of the airfield that work to some degree. The problem with doing that, though, is it also prevented many, many, some of the Afghans that we wanted to get in from being able to get in.
So always as a commander, you're trading, you know, it's a risk reward game. Additionally, you know, we were working at Abbey Gate, it was the one place on the day of the attack where Afghans could actually walk up to the gate and try to get in. Most of the other gates had closed by then. We eventually closed out the gate a little bit later.
But to bring people in, you have to get in their face, you have to serve them. There's no other way to do it. You have to get very close, and I have nothing but profound admiration for the young Americans that did that work over that very difficult several week period.
BROWN: And what is your message to the veterans of America's longest war who are struggling, still struggling right now?
MCKENZIE: Sure. So, you know, I went to Afghanistan multiple times, my son has gone to Afghanistan multiple times. I think what we did in Afghanistan was, first of all, we protected our nation from terrorist attacks that emanated from Afghanistan. That was a fundamental reason we went in to prevent that from happening. We did do that.
We -- I think we also expanded our mission to an area where we forgot the core principle that we were there for. And that's unfortunate, because that sort of collapsed on us at the end. But I think men and women who served in Afghanistan should be proud of their service. They went there on a noble cause. And I think they did good work. And they should be very confident that they did the nation's bidding and did the job the nation required them to do very well during that period of time.
BROWN: All right, Retired General Frank McKenzie, thank you so much.
And coming up, we are counting down to a midnight deadline for the Justice Department to respond to former President Trump's request for an outside review of documents the FBI took from his Mar-a-Lago home.