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DOJ: Classified Docs Mixed With Personal Items At Mar-a-Lago; Barr Slams Trump For Taking Classified Docs To Mar-a-Lago; Bolton: "Wouldn't Be Surprised" If Trump Has More Classified Docs At Other Residences; Mar-a-Lago Inventory Shows Classified Documents Mixed In With Press Clippings, Clothing And Gifts; Serena Williams Playing In U.S. Open Third Round Tonight; Tomorrow: New NASA Moon Launch Attempt After Monday Scrub; Top U.N. Inspector Vows "Continued Presence" At Nuclear Plant; New Mysterious Death Among Russian Businessmen. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 02, 2022 - 17:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Watch "State of the Union" this Sunday our Dana Bash will interview Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington and her Republican opponent Tiffany Smiley, plus FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell on the crisis in Jackson. That's at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern on Sunday.

I'm Kaitlan Collins in for Jake Tapper. Thank you so much for joining us. Have a safe holiday weekend. And our coverage continues right now in THE SITUATION ROOM.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Happening now, new developments in the Mar- a-Lago investigation, a federal judge on seals and inventory divulging the trove of material seized from Donald Trump's Florida home. The extensive list raising new questions revealing dozens of empty folders marked classified.

Also tonight, President Biden is defending his impassioned primetime speech on dangers to democracy, insisting he was not saying all Trump supporters are a threat. He's also touting another round of good news for the U.S. economy, 315,000 new jobs added last month, beating expectations even as unemployment ticked up.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Our top story tonight, the newly unsealed inventory from the FBI's Mar-a-Lago search and the questions that it's raising about former President Trump's handling of highly classified material. CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is following the investigation us.

So, Evan, this full inventory shows more than 48 empty folders with classification banners as well as some personal items mixed in with government documents. What exactly does this more detailed list reveal? EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, that's exactly right, you look at some of the haphazard way, seemingly haphazard way in which some of these items were being stored mixed in with items of clothing, and news clippings and magazines, you have classified information. For instance, 18 documents that were marked top secret, 54 documents marked secret and 31 documents that were marked confidential.

We'll take a look at just one box, for instance, item number two it's labeled as, there's 99 magazine, newspapers and press articles and other printed media according to the inventory that was provided. There were two documents that were labeled confidential, 15 labeled secret, seven that were top secret.

And one of the things that really sticks out is the number of these empty folders, 43 in this one box, for instance, that were labeled with classified on them. And another 28 empty folders that were labeled -- with the label returned to staff secretary military aid.

Now, there's a lot we don't know from this inventory list. We don't know what happened to those documents. It is possible that they may have been stored elsewhere. But in all, you know, to have this many more than four dozen of these empty folders that had been labeled as classified, it does raise the concern of where those documents were, what kind of care was given in the way these were stored. That's something that the prosecutors say is still under active investigation in all, Brianna, there were 11,000 government documents that were recovered as part of the search.

And of course, that's the reason why this has been going on since last year between the National Archives trying to recover some of those items and the former president's team.

KEILAR: Evan, you're also following the latest in the Justice Department's January 6 investigation. What can you tell us there?

PEREZ: Well, we were at court today when Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin, these are the former White House counsel in the former President Trump and his deputy, arrived today to meet with the grand jury. Now, Brianna, they've been talking with the Justice Department for weeks to try to get this testimony in there. And this is the grand jury -- by the way, this is the Friday grand jury. This is the grand jury doing the investigation into people beyond the rioters, the violent rioters who went into the Capitol, these are the people who are trying to organize these fake electors who were trying to keep the former president in power even though he had lost the election. So, we don't know exactly what questions he was -- these two men were asked but they were witnesses to a lot of the efforts to try to overturn the election.

KEILAR: Evan, stay with me as I bring in CNN National Security Analyst Shawn Turner, CNN Legal Analyst Jennifer Rodgers, as well as CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan.

Shawn, you worked at ODNI, that's the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, what jumps out at you from this FBI list? SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, be honest. So when I saw this list, there were a couple of things that jumped out. First of all, that list of empty folders is very telling. Look, documents, generally speaking, are not classified at the White House, documents are classified at the various agencies that own that content and they're brought to the White House in classified folders or they're printed out in offices in the White House that are secure offices.


So the key question here is that, were there documents in those folders? It's highly likely that there were some documents in those folders at some time at some point. So, what we have to understand, Brianna, is where are those documents today? Were those documents taken out of those folders prior to those folders being taken to Mar- a-Lago? Or are those folders evidence of some additional missing documents?

We may never know. But that's one of the reasons why this intelligence community assessment is so important.

KEILAR: What about, Jennifer these personal items that were seized, press clippings, gifts. The DOJ writing that "all evidence pertaining to the seized items, including but not limited to, the nature and manner in which they were stored will inform the government's investigation." How key is that issue of how these classified documents were stored?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's really important, Brianna, because the point is, there were months and months of back and forth between the president and his team, and first the National Archives, and then the FBI. So it's not as if he didn't know that he was supposed to be, first of all, not having the documents in the first place. But then when the FBI got involved, he was supposed to be keeping all of these documents in the storage room under additional security. And we know now that that wasn't happening.

The other thing that's important for prosecutors, as they look to maybe charge a case here is that the fact that all these things were intermingled, right, you have personal items, you have unclassified things like newspaper clippings that the president obviously was possessing appropriately mixed in with these classified documents and 11,000 U.S. government documents means that he was possessing them. In other words, he was the one who knew they were there, was utilizing them, looking through them because of the way that they were all mixed up. So, in those two ways that it shows the possession was his, and it shows that they were absolutely ignoring the direction of the FBI on this. It's important evidence for a potential criminal case.

KEILAR: And Paul, it was actually the former president's legal team that asked the judge for this more detailed list. Does this new information do anything to help Trump's case?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't think it does at all, Brianna. I think it hurts the case tremendously because it shows gross recklessness and gross negligence in the way these classified materials were stored. And a lot of times prosecutors turn to that as a theory when they can't prove direct intent, that reckless conduct or grossly negligent conduct. And certainly, this evidence that was revealed today and yesterday suggests that.

KEILAR: Some pretty noteworthy comments, Evan, from former Attorney General Bill Barr who went on Fox today. Here's what he said.


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: What people are missing is that all the other documents taken, even if they claim to be executive privilege, either belong to the government because they're government records. Even if they're classified, even if they're subject to executive privilege, they still belong to the government and go to the archives.

People say this was unprecedented, but it's also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club. OK? And how long is the government going to try to get that back?

You know, they jaw bone for a year. They were deceived on the voluntary actions taken. They then went and got a subpoena. They were deceived on that, they feel. And the record -- the facts are starting to show that they were being jerked around.


KEILAR: Evan, he's taking sides with DOJ and the FBI, certainly not with Trump here.

PEREZ: No. And that really stuck out to me, Brianna, because we hadn't heard from Bill Barr. And look, he is somebody who is, you know, tuned a little bit to think that the people are out to get the former president. You know, this was the view he had certainly when he was attorney general that the FBI and some of these folks were out to get him.

What you now see, the fact that, you know, it's taken this long, you know, there's a reason why you haven't heard from him is, you know, he was waiting to see some of these facts come out. And now he clearly feels that there's enough out there and there's enough in this court documents that really, really paint a very damning picture of the former president. And that's the reason why you've heard those words from him.

And, you know, look, what he's saying is right, the idea that, you know, Trump and some of his lawyers are trying to claim that, you know, he had the right just by virtue of being president to just leave it whatever he wanted. That's just not how it works. And so the former attorney general is saying, these are your records, these are the public's records, these are not the president's

KEILAR: Shawn, John Bolton, who of course was Trump's national security adviser said he wouldn't be surprised if classified documents are at other Trump properties. Do you think that's something investigators may be pursuing?

TURNER: You know, they have to absolutely have to, Brianna. Look, you know, when we look at where these documents were, we know that these documents were being handled because there were some documents in the storage area, there were documents in different places in the former president's office. So that suggests that these documents weren't simply taken from the White House in boxes and stored someplace at Mar-a-Lago, they were actively being handled.


So, it's important that investigators look at surveillance video, it's important that they look at other locations where the president may have been or where the president's team or staff may have been to find out whether or not as the President was doing business, as he was going about what he does as a former president, whether or not some of those documents were moved. And again, that's -- this is the reason why this intelligence community assessment is so important.

KEILAR: And Jennifer, this question of a special master, a independent third party who would review these documents, that's now in the hands of a federal judge. If she does agree to that request by Trump's lawyers, how will this go from here?

RODGERS: Well, it depends on what her order is because, you know, first of all, it's going to take some time. It will take time to find a special master to get that person cleared to see classified documents of this nature. And then it depends on what the scope is. I mean, it will take time for the special master probably a matter of weeks to rereview all of this material that the filter team has already been through.

Now, we know the volume of it. But the question is, what is DOJ do in the meantime? If the judge says, you know, stop with those documents, put them to the side, you can continue with your investigation. Otherwise, you can't utilize these documents, then they won't be completely paused, but it will harm the investigation because, of course, the search warrant was an investigatory step.

They learned things from that, they then have additional witnesses to interview, additional investigative investigatory steps to take, so it will set them back. But if she doesn't stop them from doing that, then frankly, it won't be much of a big deal at all. It really won't set them back at all. So it just depends what her order says.

KEILAR: We'll be waiting for that, of course.

Jennifer, Shawn, Paul, Evan, thank you to all of you for the discussion.

Coming up, President Biden is on the defensive after his fiery address at Philadelphia's Independence Hall insisting he wasn't saying that all Trump supporters are a threat to the nation. Who was he talking about? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


KEILAR: President Biden is clarifying whom he was talking about in his primetime speech in which he gave a fiery denunciation of President Trump and MAGA Republicans, calling them a threat to democracy. The President saying today he was not describing all Trump supporters, explaining the real danger comes from those who call for violence or for overturning election results.

CNN's MJ Lee is joining us live now from the White House.

MJ, tell us what Biden's message to voters is.

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna last night, his message really to the entire country was that there was no room anywhere in the country for the kinds of lies and conspiracy theories and threats of violence that we've seen from former President Donald Trump and some of his allies. And when you listen to the speech last night, he used the term MAGA more than a dozen times. Here are just a few of the examples.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Donald Trump in the MAGA Republicans represented an extreme extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic. MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law, they do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election.


LEE: And in just so many ways, Brianna, the tone that we heard from the President and some of the themes that he talked about last night, they really sounded a lot like what he sounded like as candidate Biden back in 2020. He obviously said at the time that he was running because he felt like there were serious threats to the country's democracy, there -- that there were some extremist strains that he wanted to make sure that he would help to tamp down. And now, here we are several years later, and both the President and White House officials and Democrats really believe that this is again going to be a winning political message and strategy. And that is really to say, look, there are Democrats, and then there is the Trump Republican Party, which is antidemocratic and really extremist.

KEILAR: And MJ, new jobs reports numbers out today. How's the White House seeing these?

LEE: Yes, they are calling this a good jobs report. But I do think it's worth digging into what exactly they're calling a good jobs report. Remember, there were 315,000 jobs that were added to the economy in the month of August. And then we also saw the unemployment rate ticked up from 3.5 percent to 3.7 percent.

The data really sort of indicates that we could be starting to see the start of a slight slowdown in the labor market. But the key thing, Brianna, is that this is exactly actually what some economists and administration officials wanted to see as the Federal Reserve has been taking steps to increase interest rates to try to cool down the labor market. This is what the President said about inflation earlier today.


BIDEN: And we're seeing some signs that inflation maybe, maybe, I'm not going to over promise you, maybe beginning to ease. Couple that with the fact that gas prices have now fallen at straight days, the fastest decline in over a decade.


LEE: Still going to be a pretty tough needle for Democrats to thread, highlighting some of the bright spots in the economy but also recognizing the pain that a lot of people are still feeling.

KEILAR: All right, MJ, stand by for us as we bring in CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju, along with CNN Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

And, Jeff, you were in Pennsylvania with the President last night, the White House is really pushing back against criticism that this was a political speech, which is kind of questionable, but they're saying that standing up for democracy is not political. What are you -- what's your view on this?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, Brianna, couple of things were going on in the speech. Of course, it was a political speech. A president does not travel to a key battleground state 68 days before the midterm elections and not give a political speech. So yes, it was a political speech.

He was defining his opposition. He was talking about the, you know, the Democrats who he hopes are elected, but it was also more than that. It was, you know, really, as MJ was saying, he's been talking about this for a long time. This was a continuation, the next chapter, if you will, in a speech he has been giving for quite a while several years, in fact, about the importance of democracy and about the awarding (ph) of the erosion of democracy. And essentially, he was calling on people in both parties to recognize that, but perhaps that message was clouded a bit because it was a political speech, it was stressed in the midterm election speech.


But look, I thought at the very beginning of his speech, he said something that he's not said in recent days. He said, not all Republicans are MAGA extreme Republicans. He said, not even a majority of Republicans are MAGA extreme Republicans using his term. So yes, he was trying to talk about democracy overall.

But I think perhaps some of that message was lost a bit because simply this is a partisan time. This is a deeply partisan era. But he was going sort of above and beyond that by talking about, you know, you cannot love this country or be a prodemocracy if you only believe that if you win. So was talking about really the election, that denialism that is coursing through the Republican Party, at least some of it.

KEILAR: Yes. He had a message that even some Republicans agree with, doesn't mean it isn't political to be clear here. Manu on the Hill, how is this being received?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, along straight party lines, as you would probably expect is Democrats, the leadership, Nancy Pelosi praising this speech, the Republicans calling it divisive, saying that this is not a president who is doing what he campaigned on, which was to unify the country instead, tearing down one side of the country in the Republicans view.

And then the question is, how does this play out on the campaign trail. And I can tell you, Democrats are not running on this issue of democracy. This is simply in key battleground states. They are talking about -- trying to talk about economic issues, they are focusing on some of the more bread and butter issues that typically drive voters to the polls, not necessarily these issues that the President was highlighting last night.

And for example, I was out in Ohio this week with Congressman Tim Ryan, he's a Democrat, he's running from -- for the Ohio Senate seat there. And I asked him about Joe Biden's view that some MAGA supporters are semi fascist, as he had said earlier in the week, and he -- and I said, do you agree with them, that the President been saying that -- he would not go there, in fact, he's pivoted the conversation more to talking about abortion and talking about abortion rights, talking about freedom, generally, rather than aligning himself with the President's rhetoric.

So, the White House may want to frame this heading into the midterms this way. But that's not necessarily how some key Democrats in battleground states are embracing this message going forward.

KEILAR: MJ, he was defending his speech today. What was he saying?

LEE: Yes, you know, it's interesting, what Jeff was just talking about this insistence from the White House that the speech last night was not a political speech, given just what a fiery repudiation of the former president and his allies' speech was. But it has just drawn some questions about whether the speech also had the effect of sort of vilifying or isolating certain parts of the Republican Party, sort of average Republican voters who may or may not have supported President Trump -- former President Trump and it's what led to the President saying, look, I don't think every Trump supporter is a threat to democracy. But what I am talking about are election deniers, people who threaten violence.

But I think just on the question of whether the President's message could potentially resonate with some moderate Republicans. I do think there is this a political calculation that you make this kind of message and you can obviously sort of try to rally your own base, Democrats, but you can also try to appeal to Republican voters who sort of look at what's going on in the country and they're sort of freaked out and they feel like, look, I can't support a party that stands for MAGA Republicanism as the President and White House officials would say.

KEILAR: MJ Lee, Manu Raju, Jeff's Zeleny, thank you to all of you.

Up next, new details of what the FBI found in its search of former President Trump's Florida home. We're going to talk about it with Congressman Ted Lieu. He's standing by to join us live.



KEILAR: More now on our top story, new details of what the FBI seized from former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate as part of the investigation into his handling of White House documents. They include materials marked top secret and also empty folders marked classified.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California. Sir, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us tonight. How concerned are you by these new details in this FBI inventory?

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, Brianna, for your question.

I'm very concerned. I had a security clearance prior to Congress. And as a member of Congress, I have a top secret security clearance.

If I had classified documents in my home, I would have been arrested and indicted because our government takes this very seriously. And in fact, in February of this year, we put a federal employee into prison because she took some classified documents labeled secret back to her hotel room.

KEILAR: So there's the sheer volume of classified documents. There's also this issue of these empty folders, dozens of them. As someone who did serve in the military, what are the potential risks to national security?

LIEU: So there were a number of issues here. One is, Donald Trump didn't just have a lot of classified documents. He had documents at the most sensitive levels. Top secret is any document that can cause exceptionally grave damage to our national security.


And the documents beyond top secret known as sensitive compartmented information, SCI. I can't even see those documents without special permission. And so, these are very grave documents that could get Americans overseas killed, or provide deeply held secrets to our enemies. On top of that, you have these folders that had classified information that no longer have them. So we need to know where did that classified information actually go.

KEILAR: What are the possibilities that you were concerned about where that information went?

LIEU: So Trump's lawyer already said that a bunch of people went in and out of that office location where they had declassified documents. And these documents were mixed in with all sorts of other personal belongings of the former president. So there wasn't a very good record keeping or any record keeping at all of these classified documents and who knows where they went. What if he showed it to a friend because he thought it was sort of cool, or whatever foreign spy actually went in there and took them, we have no idea right now.

KEILAR: Former Attorney General Bill Barr was on Fox today and he said that the documents belong to the government. He said that he's skeptical that Trump declassified them, he said there's no legitimate reason Trump had the documents at Mar-a-Lago. He's not really someone historically that you have seen eye to eye with. What do you think of what he's saying?

LIEU: I support what Bill Barr said today. He's telling the truth. There is no reason for the former president to have any of these classified documents. I think it's important to note that the former president has no security clearance. He lost it when he became an ex- president. Anybody else in America would have been indicted and arrested. I think the law should apply equally. And I look forward to foreign justice continuing their criminal investigation,

KEILAR: And as they're calling this a criminal investigation, active criminal investigation, we know they're looking into possible violations of the Espionage Act to looking into obstruction. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, do you see evidence that those crimes have been committed so far?

LIEU: We don't have access to the evidence the Department of Justice has, but just based on the public reporting, it's pretty clear that the former president and his lawyers lied to the Department of Justice. They told them they had given all the classified information back, in fact, they had not. And you see continuing lies, right. You have the former president suggesting that somehow the FBI had planted this evidence. And then later the foreign president reverses himself and says, no, those documents were actually in cartons that he had at Mar-a-Lago.

And then you had the former president suggesting somehow he had declassified these documents. There's no evidence of that. And if they were declassified, what would have happened is the Biden administration would have reclassify them immediately on January 21, and Donald Trump would still be in the same trouble he is right now.

KEILAR: Congressman Lieu, thank you for being with us tonight. We appreciate it.

LIEU: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Just ahead, Serena Williams magical run if U.S. Open continues tonight and the tennis legend defy expectations again in what's likely her final professional turn.


[17:37:37] KEILAR: Tonight, tennis legend Serena Williams begins her third round U.S. Open match after her stunning and improbable second round upset win over the world's number two ranked player this week. Serena's doubles career likely came to an end last night after she and her sister Venus lost in straight sets marking the finale to one of the greatest doubles teams in history.

CNN host Don Riddell joins us from New York. Don, you have quite the assignment today. I am so jealous. Give us a sense of the excitement that is building ahead of Serena's match tonight.

DON RIDDELL, CNN HOST, WORLD SPORT: Brianna, thanks so much. Yes, the excitement is building. Of course, the excitement has been building all weekend. Tickets to see Serena Williams play have become an incredibly scarce commodity. Because with every match, it could be the last one, there could be no more especially since she's now out of the double.

So, the demand has been through the roof already. They're saying that the total attendance for last year's U.S. Open might be surpassed before they even get to the quarterfinals. And that has all been driven by Serena Williams. She's the hottest ticket in sports right now. The atmosphere here is through the roof. And, of course, do I need to mention we're in New York, and it's on the Friday night of a holiday weekend. So people need no excuse to have a good time and party.

And you just know that energy is all going to be brought on to the Arthur Ashe stadium behind me pretty soon. And I really do feel for her opponent, the world number 46 earlier, Ajla Tomljanovic, who's really walking into the lion's den in this one, it's just going to be an absolutely extraordinary spectacle.

KEILAR: Yes. She's actually, Don, favored to win tonight, which she wasn't before.

RIDDELL: Yes, I mean, we all know what Serena Williams has done and what she's achieved but she hasn't played that much this year. Coming into this tournament, she had a losing record one and three, and nobody really knew what to expect. But she did so well in the first round. She took it up to another level in the second.

The crowd has been massively helping Serena Williams out because they're so boisterous and they're so partisan. I bumped into Serena's coach Rennae Stubbs just a short time ago and she was saying the crowd here is basically giving Serena a couple of games every set, and that is helping her. Of course, Serena is bringing her a game anyway. But it's just so intimidating for these players who've never played it before.

They know they're in a situation where they could end the career of the goat, but it's like they're playing in the Coliseum, it's so, so difficult. And they're coming out here.

[17:40:07] And before they're even playing, tribute videos to Serena Williams are being played in the audience. So, her opponents are getting to be reminded of everything that she's achieved and it's a very, very difficult situation. Serena is bringing it, but her opponents are finding that their way out of their depth.

And the world number 46 Tomljanovic, may be a deer in headlights. She was playing in the early around this week. on one of the outside courts and she said she could hear the deafening roars from Arthur Ashe and she found that annoying. Well if she finds it annoying then and she wasn't even playing Serena Williams, imagine what she's going to be like when she's actually in the thick of it tonight.

KEILAR: That is a very good point that she can hear it. That's so interesting.

Don, have a wonderful time and report back. Thank you so much.

RIDDELL: Thank you.

KEILAR: Now to an inside look at NASA's Artemis 1 moon launch now scheduled for tomorrow, CNN Space and Defense Correspondent Kristin Fisher got rare access to the launch pad and the control room with the big weather decisions are made where officials hope the mission will finally go forward.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson has called a scrub.

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): NASA says it's confident it is fix the issues that lead to Monday scrub test flight and is go for a second launch attempt of its Artemis rocket on Saturday. The first rocket designed to take humans to the moon in more than 50 years.

(on-camera): It is one thing to see this rocket on TV. We're about 4 miles away from the viewing stance. It is another to see it right here almost directly at the launch pad. This rocket is absolutely massive, 322 feet tall. It's taller than the Statue of Liberty. And you really get a sense when you're out here that this truly is the most powerful rocket ever built.

(voice-over): But more power means it's also more complex. NASA says it has repaired the hydrogen leak that delayed fueling on Monday. As for that pesky engine number three, NASA now believes its cooldown system was working and blames it on a bad sensor.

JOHN HONEYCUTT, SLS PROGRAM MANAGER, NASA'S MARSHALL SPACE FLIGHT CENTER: We have convinced ourselves without a shadow of a doubt that we have good quality liquid hydrogen going through the engines and there is no fuzz on that.

FISHER (voice-over): For a mission as complicated as this, NASA's fix for a bad sensor is surprisingly simple. (on-camera): Is part of the plan is part of the risk posture for this second launch attempt to simply ignore it?


FISHER (voice-over): Turns out if NASA had been able to push through those technical problems on Monday, the weather would have cooperated.

CPT. GREGG MCCAMBLEY, METEOROLOGIST: We would have about 29 minutes at the end of window of all clear for weather.

FISHER (voice-over): Captain Gregg McCambley was the launch weather commander of the 45th Weather Squadron during the first launch attempt.

MCCAMBLEY: We're all sitting here and as soon as we heard scrub, we're like, oh, so it is what it is.

FISHER (voice-over): CNN was granted rare access inside the control room at Cape Canaveral Space Force station where the weather go -- no- go calls are made on launch days.

MCCAMBLEY: For example, here, we'd be no-go right now for lightning roll. So right now, we are in violation in the lightning roll.

FISHER (on-camera): And look, we've got two no-gos now.

MCCAMBLEY: So yes, so now we've gone no-go for cumulus (ph).

FISHER (voice-over): Clouds alone are enough to sometimes stop a launch.

MCCAMBLEY: One thing folks don't understand is that rockets when they go through the atmosphere can actually trigger their own lightning strikes. So even though we might not have a thunderstorm in the vicinity, the atmosphere can be electrified enough to have a lightning bolt trigger from the rocket launching through the atmosphere.

FISHER (voice-over): If Saturday's launch attempt is a success, it will be a major milestone for NASA. And as NASA's administrator explicitly acknowledged on CNN, could give the U.S. a leg up on China.

BILL NELSON, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: Yes, there's a space race.


NELSON: Well, let's see. This is the first step. And this is the largest most powerful rocket ever.


FISHER: Now the launch forecast for tomorrow on Saturday is actually looking pretty good, 60 percent favorable at the beginning of the launch window at 2:17 p.m. Eastern time. 80 percent favorable at the end of the launch window about two hours later. So it's looking good. But Brianna, lightning in this part of the country can always be a huge issue, especially this time of year.

During our tour, I actually learned that just 20 miles away from the Kennedy Space Center, away from that launchpad is the lightning capital of the United States. More lightning strikes there than anywhere else. So you can see why that Weather Squadron gets such a workout on launch days. Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes, certainly. All right, fingers crossed that this is going to go. We sure hope so, Kristin, and for your sake. Kristin Fisher, thank you.

Coming up, another highly unusual apparent suicide in Russia, what's been described as a suicide, for the sixth time this year. A Russian business executive meets an untimely end, this time by falling from a hospital window.



KEILAR: In Ukraine tonight, a top U.N. nuclear inspector is vowing to maintaining long term presence at the embattled Zaporizhzhia power plant even as it raises new fears over the safety of its workers. Our Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley is on the ground in Zaporizhzhia for us. Sam, give us the latest here.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest is that there are six inspectors currently in that nuclear power plant too likely to be able to stay on and that Mr. Rafael Grossi, the leading leader of the inspectors who went in himself yesterday said is the difference between night and day because it will, he hopes, end, this he said, she said, allegations about who is shelling, who is endangering the plant.


But there was very interesting when he gave his statement earlier on today about the level of deliberation, the deliberate nature of some of the threats to the plant. This is what he said.


RAFAEL GROSSI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: It is clear that those who have these aims, these military aims know very well that the way to cripple or to do more damage is not to look into the reactors, which are enormously sturdy and robust, but to, you know, hit where it hurts. So, the plant becomes, you know, very, very problematic. So, my concern would be, you know, the physical integrity would be the power supply, and of course, the stuff.


KILEY: `Now, the deliberate targeting of the power supply suggests malice intent, the deliberate attempt, perhaps, to cause a nuclear meltdown, or at least to cause that to be the top of the global agenda, because once the power supply into those reactors is cut, and there's happened twice already in the last seven days, the only backup of diesel generators. And if they fail, those reactors could melt down, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Sam Kiley, certainly an alarming situation there in Ukraine. We appreciate the report.

Another Russian businessman has died in a string of apparent suicides or accidents in just the last six months. The latest is the chairman of the country's largest privately owned oil and gas company. CNN International Security Editor Nick Paton Walsh is working the story for us. This one's particularly curious because of what the company had said before, Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, Lukoil vocal in its criticism of the Ukraine war and its chairman falling it seems apparently through suicide from the sixth-floor window of a hospital where he was receiving treatment. One of a number of, you might say coincidences of similar deaths, or perhaps a disturbing pattern amongst Moscow's elite. And we've been seeing a rather shocking number of incidents like this over the past months.


WALSH (voice-over): It should sound extraordinary, but in Putin's war time, Russia, it's become staggeringly common. A wealthy energy executive declared dead from suicide. This time, oil executive Ravil Maganov seen here earlier with the Kremlin head died on Thursday at 7:00 in the morning, after falling from the sixth-floor window of a Central Moscow Hospital, where he was being treated after a heart attack, said a state media law enforcement source. They added he was taking antidepressants and committed suicide.

The oil giant he chaired Lukoil behind 2 percent of the world's crude were tight lipped on the circumstances, saying he died, quote, following a severe illness. They've been less cagey about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, expressing in March their deepest concerns about the war, calling for it soonest termination and urging a lasting ceasefire.

Rare public descent which elsewhere in Russia, the Kremlin has quashed quickly. Maganov's untimely death made him at least the sixth high profile businessman to die from apparent suicide since January. Four of them from state gas giant Gazprom, currently at the forefront of Russia's energy battle with the West. The first two died in the same village in their country cottages. Transport head Leonid Shulman four weeks before the war, he left a suicide note said Russian media. And then just a day after the war began, another top Gazprom executive, Alexander Tyulakov was found dead in his garage there.

Then there were two murder suicides in April, both former executives from Gazprom or a subsidiary both said, to have killed their wife and daughter and then themselves, Vladislav Avayev in their Moscow home, and Sergey Protosenya in their Spanish villa. Finally, in July, the director of another subsidiary was found dead in his cottages swimming pool. Local media reported, a gunshot wound to the head and a pistol nearby. And Maganov is not Lukoil's first loss this year. A former top manager, Alexander Subbotin found dead in a basement for an apparent heart attack. Some experts doubt, however, these deaths bear the Kremlin's fingerprints.

MARK GALEOTTI, PRINCIPAL DIRECTOR, MAYAK INTELLIGENCE: People do commit suicide. And particularly for these people, they're in industries where they got used to a very elevated quality of life and they know that hard times are coming. And at the same time, though, that there has been something of a resurgence of a very 1990s phenomenon which is business disputes being resolved by violence and by murder.


WALSH (voice-over): Perhaps a subtler hand here than in the anarchy of the 90s, yet in a world where the Kremlin rules and ruins at will.


WALSH: Now, some have pointed out that the Kremlin has in the past used its very blunt, and subservient law enforcement tools to crack down on opponents or adversaries or simply inconveniences, but possibly two, this is the beginning of the elite that it presided over it, created it, made a fabulously wealthy turning on each other, maybe the impact of sanctions or, frankly, the slow failure of Putin's war in Ukraine. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, such a great and important report. We appreciate it.

Coming up, former president Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr says the request for a special master in the Mar-a-Lago investigation is a waste of time. We're going to talk about that and more with a key member of the House January 6 committee next.


KEILAR: Happening now, a federal judge unseals the four Mar-a-Lago search inventory revealing an extensive list of seized materials and raising new questions about the investigation.