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Judge Releases Full Inventory From Mar-a-Lago Search; Biden Says, Not All Trump Supporters Are a Threat to Democracy; Serena Williams Playing in U.S. Open Third Round Tonight; Holiday Travel Rush Follows Thousands Of Flight Cancellations Plant. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 02, 2022 - 18:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: A judge unseals the full Mar-a-Lago search inventory, revealing an extensive list of seized materials and raising new questions about the investigation. Why were dozens of empty folders marked classified found in Donald Trump's home? I'll get reaction from a key member of the January 6 committee, Congressman Jamie Raskin.

Plus, President Biden honing his midterm message, he's defending his fiery speech on threats to democracy against criticism that it was too political and trumpeting another round of economic numbers showing a strong jobs market.

And Serena Williams set to make another run at history after defying expectations all week. The tennis legend will take the court in a third round U.S. Open tonight trying to stay alive and what is likely the final professional tournament of her career.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar, and you are in The Situation Room.

We begin our coverage this hour with a detailed new look at materials seized from Mar-a-Lago. The unsealed inventory reveals more than 48 empty folders with classification banners. It also finds personal items, like press clippings and clothing mixed in with sensitive government documents.

CNN's Sara Murray is joining us with more on this. Sara, we're learning a lot of new information from this filing.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right and then the document that went along with it. The Justice Department acknowledges normally we would not get a glimpse into these kind of materials but this is no ordinary case. These are extraordinary circumstances involving the former president.


MURRAY(voice over): A newly unsealed inventory revealing the trove of materials seized from Mar-a-Lago, including thousands of government documents and 103 papers marked classified intermingled with magazines, newspapers, press clippings, photos, and articles of clothing.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Mostly the boxes are pictures and newspapers and shirts and gear and, you know, golf balls and just -- it's a lot of stuff. You know, when you're there for four years, it's a long time.

MURRAY: While Trump has down played what was recovered by the FBI, a seven-page list ticks through the sensitive material was, 18 documents marked top secret, 54 documents marked secret, and 31 marked confidential. Investigators also collected dozens of empty folders with a classified banner or labeled return to staff secretary/military aide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None of this is going to help Donald Trump.

MURRAY: A federal judge in Florida unsealing the inventory and pondering whether to appoint a special master to independently review the seized material.

WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: The whole idea of a special master is a bit of a red herring. At this stage, since they've already gone through the documents, I think it's a waste of time.

MURRAY: The investigators haul which included more than 11,000 government documents without classified documents revealed just how much Trump was holding on to even after more than a year of negotiating the return of documents and 18 months after leaving office.

TRUMP: So, what you do is you accumulate a lot of stuff over a term and then all of a sudden you're leaving and stuff gets packed up and sent --


TRUMP: -- all sorts of stuff.

MURRAY: But in Trump's office alone, investigators retrieved a number of boxes, including 27 documents marked classified in some way.

BARR: People say this was unprecedented. Well, it's also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club, okay?

MURRAY: And investigators found them after Trump's team had assured the government any potentially classified materials had been kept in a more secured storage room and after a representative for Trump signed a document saying everything with classified markings had been turned over a month before the search.

Meantime in a separate criminal investigation into the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol and the events leading up to it, former Trump White House Lawyers Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin appearing before a grand jury today. Both men pushed back on efforts to overturn the 2020 election and are key witnesses to the final days of Trump's presidency. CNN reporting they appeared after weeks of discussion with the Justice Department over executive privilege.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, back to that haul of materials from Mar-a- Lago, we learned so much about this because, of course, the Trump team is seeking a special master to be an independent reviewer of what was taken. We are still waiting, Brianna, if tonight, over the weekend, perhaps the judge is going to issue a ruling in this case. She said she was open to allowing a special master to go forward, but we're waiting.

KEILAR: Yes. And so much has come out since she said that. So, how has that influenced her mind on this? I guess we'll see. Sara, thank you for that report, stay with us.

I also want to get some insight from our Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe, as well as Dave Aronberg, the state attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida.

Andy, just take a look at one of these boxes. It had newspaper clippings, documents marked secret, a book, a gift, there were documents marked top secret, nearly 800 non-classified government documents. What concerns you here?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, off the top, Brianna, the comingling of classified documents, sensitive documents, and all those documents that are labeled as government documents but not classified, many of which could contain national defense information, comingling that stuff with clothing and golf balls just shows you how carelessly that sensitive, protected material was just cast about and not stored in the way that it's supposed to be. Like, you know, classified documents should not be stored in a box with your golf balls at a country club. I mean, it's just -- it kind of goes without saying, but I guess not.

KEILAR: Yes. What do you make of these empty folders, dozens of empty folders they found that had classified banners or return to staff/secretary military aide?

MCCABE: Really hard to say, right? So, those folders may have contained some of these documents that we see, you know, mentioned in different parts of the list here. It's possible that those documents just became separated from their cover folders or the cover sheets and were never put back. The folders themselves simply indicate that the material inside them was classified. It doesn't say whether they're confidential, secret, or top secret, so it's hard to match that stuff up.

However, again, it is another sign that this sensitive, important, vital intelligence to our nation was treated in a haphazard, reckless, irresponsible way.

KEILAR: Yes. And, Dave, as Andy touches on there, just this comingling of stuff that, you know, kind of shouldn't matter, golf balls or clothes, with sensitive information, what does that say about Trump's minset to you in his intent in keeping these documents?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Yes, Brianna, as a prosecutor, it ties Donald Trump directly to the classified documents if they were found in the same place as his personal items. Remember when they took his passports and he complained, well, the reason why they took the passports was because it was found adjacent to classified items. So, that ties Trump directly to all of this. This all goes to intent, which is a crucial element for all the criminal charges at play here.

Also the volume of the documents that he took also shows intent. It's hard to claim this was an accident when there were so many government documents and then classified documents amongst them. And every time that he and his lawyer speak, it seems like they're giving away the farm (ph). I mean, they're saying, well, I stored it in cartons. Well, then, you're admitting that you knew they were there and then you stored them improperly. Those are current. And that viral photo of the red and yellow covers, that's also important because it screams out, top secret SCI.

So, there's no question that he must have known these were there. And the fact that his personal items were next to it ties him directly to it.

KEILAR: Sara, you were just reporting on the possibility we could find out soon from this judge about whether she is going to appoint a special master, a third party, to independently kind of go through these documents here. If that happens, how could that impact both the investigative side of things and what are the national security implications?

MURRAY: Well, the Justice Department has said, look, this is going to delay our criminal investigation if you appoint a special master. And they make clear in the documents today this is a live criminal investigation. They're interviewing witnesses. There's grand jury activity going on. So, they're saying a special master is going to get in the way of that.

When it came to this risk assessment that the intelligence committee is doing, the judge seemed more amenable to those concerned. She signaled that even if she does appoint this special master, she is still going to let this intelligence review go on. So, essentially determining if any of these documents had been disclosed, what is the risk to U.S. national security?

KEILAR: And, Andy, former Attorney General Bill Barr has said -- he said today on Fox he's skeptical that Trump declassified these documents. He said, if he had declassified them, it would show, quote, such recklessness. It's almost much worse than taking the documents. Do you agree with that?

MCCABE: Absolutely right, yes. The former attorney general is absolutely right. And I think he noticed, Brianna, that defense seems to have fallen by the wayside in the last couple of days. We didn't see that asserted in any of the Trump legal team's submissions for the special master motion. I think there's a reason for that. They know they have absolutely no evidence to prove that, and they're just going to basically walk away from it.

So, if I could just for one second, let's talk about the investigation that is going on now and will continue going on, whether or not the special master gets appointed, and that is we know who goes in those offices. There's many, many pictures available publicly of people meeting with President Trump in Mar-a-Lago. We know who his advisers are. I would be dropping grand jury subpoenas on every one of those people, bringing them in and asking them, what did you see, did you see these documents, did he have documents out when you were there, did he talk to you about these documents? And then you could forensically look at some of these documents to see if there are identifying fingerprints on them. So, there's a lot of things you could do to specifically tie his knowledge and involvement with these documents that he shouldn't have had.


KEILAR: Dave, do you think that's happening? And also John Bolton, the former NSA to Donald Trump, suggested there could be -- he thinks that it would be possible there are other documents at other Trump properties. Do you think they're also pursuing that in this investigation?

ARONBERG: Yes, I do. Remember, the only reason why we even know about the search of Mar-a-Lago is because Trump announced it to the world. DOJ keeps a secret. Trump does not. Trump told us all, and that's how this whole thing started to unravel. So, yes, I do think they're pursuing leads. As Andrew said, they're probably talking to witnesses. And I wouldn't be surprised if they search other properties.

All of this is a bunch self-inflicted wounds by the former president, meaning he told everyone at the investigation he didn't oppose the release of the affidavit. And now because of this motion for a special master, you've got this 36-page response that gives all these terrible details. And now you have this latest item, where now we know there's all these empty folders. So, he only has himself to blame for all of his unforced errors.

KEILAR: Dave, Andrew, Sara, thank you so much to all of you for the discussion tonight.

Just ahead, more on a judge's release on what the FBI found in the search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. We're going to talk about it with a key member of the House January 6 committee, Congressman Jamie Raskin.



KEILAR: More now on our top story. A federal judge has unsealed the full inventory of the documents the FBI found in its search of former President Trump's Florida home, including materials marked top secret and empty folders marked classified.

Let's get more now with a key member of the House January 6 committee, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. Sir, thanks for taking the time to speak with us tonight on this holiday weekend.

I did want to ask you because according to this more detailed inventory, the FBI recovered top secret documents and dozens of empty folders. What questions does this raise for you?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, as a citizen, I would just ask the question, where are the files? Where did they go? And which ones of Donald Trump's friends in the United States or around the world might have them? But who knows? That whole investigation is completely apart, of course, from what we're doing in the January 6 select committee, which was impaneled under House resolution 503 to examine the events of January the 6th and what led up to that and what we need to do to fortify American democracy in the future against coups and political violence and insurrections.

And what's interesting to me just watching from afar, what's going on in that investigation that you've been covering is that it's all about whether Donald Trump may have exposed our national security secrets to damage and to impairment by hostile forces. Well, of course, that's what we know he did on January the 6th in unleashing an attempted coup and violent insurrection against the government of the United States in order to overturn the results of the 2020 election. So, it's a factually distinct set of events, potentially criminal, but it's parallel very much to what we're looking at, which is a grave and historic impairment of the national security and a threat to democratic government in our country.

KEILAR: I do just want to be clear. You're raising the possibility that Donald Trump shared classified U.S. information with foreign entities. I don't believe you have evidence to support that, but you're raising that question for a reason. Why is that? What informs you raising that question?

RASKIN: Well, now, again, I'm speaking just as one individual, but my question would be, where are the missing documents? You know, who would have interest in those?

KEILAR: Why do you think he --

RASKIN: But I assume that's the question --

KEILAR: Why do you think he would share those?

RASKIN: Again, you know, I have no idea. We saw throughout the Trump presidency, you know, Donald Trump siding with various foreign powers and autocrats against our own intelligence services, against our own Congress, against the people of the United States. So, you know, I have no idea what's taking place in this particular case, but it's just interesting to me that people are afraid that there was an impairment of national security and the integrity of Democratic government. And that's precisely what took place on January 6th, where there was a very determined and explicit effort to try to overthrow the results of a democratic election and replace them with counterfeit electors and a plan to perpetuate Donald Trump's rule in office.

So, you know, I agree with President Biden that what is at stake in all of these events and certainly what's at stake in the upcoming election is this condition of democracy in America. Are we going to defend democratic institutions or not?

KEILAR: Has the oversight committee, of which you're a member, has it gotten any assurances from the director of National Intelligence that you're going to get a briefing on this damage assessment that they're doing?

RASKIN: I'm not aware of that. Again, you know, we're on a different track. Our focus is on January 6th and what happened then. And, you know, the alleged swiping of government documents by the former president is a completely different set of offenses and the alleged or potential obstruction of justice that arose out of that.

As far as we know, that's completely separate from what we're looking at. Now, if they connect in some way, we would obviously be interested in any relevant evidence. But to my mind, that just looks like a fresh set of problems that the former president has imposed on the country.


Former Attorney General Bill Barr of the Trump administration, he was, of course, one of the former president's staunchest allies. He was on Fox today, and he said this.


BARR: Given the fact this is a former president, given the state of the nation, is it -- and given the fact that the government has gotten its documents back, does it really make sense to bring a case as a matter of prudential judgment? And that's a question that I think will turn on how clear the evidence of obstruction or deceit is. If they clearly have the president moving stuff around and hiding stuff in his desk and telling people to dissemble with the government, they may be inclined to bring that case.


KEILAR: He also really sided today with the DOJ and the FBI over former President Trump. What did you make of his comments and specifically that one about whether the DOJ would be inclined to bring a case?

RASKIN: Well, I mean, he seems to be very strongly implying his belief that a crime took place and potentially obstruction of justice to cover up that crime. You can only imagine what the Republicans would be saying if it was Barack Obama or Bill Clinton who had done something like this, taking hundreds of classified and top secret documents out of the White House, hidden them or semi-hidden them in a country club where lots of people were traipsing through and where apparently there were lots of foreigners snooping around for secrets. You know, I mean, people would be calling for prosecution and life imprisonment on their side of the aisle.

And, you know, fortunately, we've got due process in the country, and we hope that due process will obtain. And the former president's rights have been scrupulously respected by everybody despite the obscene calls or predictions for violence in the streets and riots. All of that is nonsense. I mean, former President Trump is lucky that he lives in a society which so scrupulously observes due process because he's been able to, you know, use his fortune and his lawyers to get every benefit from that.

But having said that, you know, the walls may be closing in on him now because of the absolute outrageousness of his misconduct, both with respect to January 6th and now also to the pilfering of top secret government documents and apparent obstruction of justice against a DOJ investigation.

KEILAR: Congressman, we really appreciate you taking the time and speaking with us today. Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you.

RASKIN: My pleasure.

KEILAR: Coming up, President Biden is defending his forceful rebuke of Donald Trump and his supporters during his fiery primetime speech, insisting his criticism was only directed toward the most extreme.



KEILAR: President Biden is defending his impassioned primetime speech on dangers to democracy, insisting he was not saying that all Trump supporters are a threat to democracy, instead clarifying that he was referring only to Trump and other so-called MAGA Republicans who call for the use of violence for overturning election results.

CNN White House Correspondent M.J. Lee reporting on the president's message to voters.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: America has some really good news going into Labor Day weekend.

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A rosy economic lookout from President Biden on the eve of a major holiday weekend.

BIDEN: The bottom line is jobs are up, wages are up, people are back to work.

LEE: Friday's jobs report showing 315,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy last month, far less than the blockbuster hiring seen in July, and the unemployment rate ticking up from 3.5 percent to 3.7 percent. The data showing what could be the start of a slowdown in the labor market, something many economists have been wanting to see as the Federal Reserve has aggressively hiked interest rates to try to tame inflation.

BIDEN: We're seeing some signs that inflation may be -- may be, I'm not going to overpromise you -- may be beginning to easy.

LEE: Biden making clear that Democrats fully intend to seize on every bright spot in the economy heading into the midterms.

BIDEN: These investments and this recovery are a direct result of my economic plan.

LEE: All of this following the president's most forceful repudiation yet of former President Donald Trump and his followers.

BIDEN: Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.

LEE: In primetime remarks delivered Thursday night from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Biden excoriating so-called MAGA Republicans for choosing lies over truth.

BIDEN: They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.

LEE: And for following Trump's lead in denying the results of the 2020 election.

BIDEN: 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: The White House insisting tonight that the fiery speech was not political.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: For him, this was not a political speech.


LEE: As it confronts criticism about the use of the Marine band and military service members at the remarks and questions about whether the speech vilified average voters who support Trump.

BIDEN: I don't consider any Trump supporter to be a threat to a country. I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence, filled with contempt and violence, and chooses to acknowledge when an election has been won, insists upon changing the way in which the rules vote, you count votes. That is a threat to democracy.


LEE (on camera): And, of course, what we are going to find out come November is whether this strategy from Democrats of going after these so-called MAGA Republicans will, one, be successful in rallying and energizing the Democratic base, but, two, also whether this message will end up speaking to some Republican voters, including some former Donald Trump supporters who now just feel like there's no place for them anymore in the Trump Republican Party. Brianna?

KEILAR: M.J. Lee at the White House, thank you for that report. And joining me now is CNN Political Commentator Van Jones.

Van, you have said that you liked this speech but you wished that President Biden had called some of these Republican Trump supporters in instead of calling them out. Can you explain what that means, what that looks like?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. Well, first of all, I am proud of Biden for standing up against some of this crazy stuff that is scaring crap out of everybody. I mean, somebody needed to say something and he said it. When you're talk about apologizing for insurrectionists, when you're talking away women's right to vote or talking about changing the rules for voting, that is scary stuff. And if you know what happens in democracies, that's the pathway to losing one. So, I am glad that he called out the bad stuff.

But here's the challenge. When you're the president, you're like the dad, right? You're like the father of the nation. If you scold a kid but you don't tell them how they can do better and you don't say, look, cut that crap out, but I need you. You're a part of my family. I love you. I want you. Come stand with me. Let's do better than what we're doing, then you're only doing half your job. So, I think he called them out but he didn't call them in. And I think he runs a danger now of feeling like this guy just doesn't like me or he thinks that my motives are bad and now he's having to clean it up.

The great strength of a Joe Biden is his empathy, his ability to connect. That was not on full display last night. I think there are people -- it's not just a nation of Republicans that are uncomfortable, there are Trump Republicans that are uncomfortable. They need a pathway back to America. They need a pathway back home. I wish President Biden had called him back home.

KEILAR: Look, that is totally within his skill set, as you mentioned, to do that.

V. JONES: Oh, yes.

KEILAR: He could easily do that, but he didn't. So, why do you think that is? What do you think the calculation is right now at this point in time where he's kind of done with a lot of legislative achievements and is moving towards the midterm elections?

JONES: Well, listen, I do think that there needs to be a contrast drawn. This is tough stuff. You don't want to be so kumbaya when your base is terrified and when you have the president of the United States -- the former president talking about passing out get out of jail free cards to insurrectionists. If you beat somebody up for me, I'm going to give you a pardon. That stuff is scaring the crap out of people. And so he does have to show that strength and say, this is not acceptable in my country.

But the challenge, the mastery -- and he has capacity for it -- is when you then follow that back up and say, you know what, if you're scared about where America's going, I am too. If you're concerned, I am too. But your activism and passion is worthy of a better cause and a better leader than you're following right now. I need you. Get on my team. If he had done that, I think we would have a very different conversation today.

KEILAR: Has he given -- can he turn that around or has he given Republicans an opportunity politically? V. JONES: Look, I think he shored his own base up but he riled up his opponents. And so, in some ways, it might wind up being awash. I understand -- listen. I understand why he wanted to come out forcefully. If you're the president of a country and you're watching democracy going down the toilet and you don't speak powerfully and passionately, something is wrong. And there are people in the base who felt he hasn't been speaking strongly enough and he's been doing too much footsy with the Republicans. I get that but you want to correct that.

But going forward, I think he's got a tremendous opportunity. You know where he's coming from. But if he wants -- don't concede one person to this stuff. Don't concede any voters. You want everybody back on America's team, and I think that Joe Biden -- if anybody can appeal to those folks to bring them home, not just to tell them you're wrong, but here's how you can be right. Help us build these bridges. Help us educate these kids. Help us make America work. We need you. We're mad at you because we need you. We're mad at you because you're too great for this. That's a conversation I think a Joe Biden could have that would be a very different conversation that could lead to us coming together. I think he got the first part. Now it's time for the second part.


KEILAR: Such an interesting perspective and conversation, Van. Thank you so much.

V. JONES: Glad to be here.

KEILAR: Just ahead, Serena Williams, one of the greatest athletes of all time, returns to the tennis court tonight at the U.S. Open in New York.


KEILAR: Tonight, tennis ace Serena Williams returning to Arthur Ashe Stadium for her highly anticipated third round singles match.

CNN's Athena Jones is there. Athena, give us the latest.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. Well, there's a lot of excitement, long lines. And this was supposed to be a nice sendoff for Serena Williams to celebrate her nearly three-decade career.


But with the way she's been playing in these singles matches, particularly in her last match the other night, there are a lot of folks saying, look, she could win this whole thing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's canned it up. She's going out with a bang.

A. JONES (voice over): Excitement and anticipation, as Serena Williams makes another star turn on center court tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she's showing everybody that there's no need for her to count her out. She's playing hard, playing tough to the very end.

A. JONES: Facing unseated Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round of the U.S. Open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please welcome 14-time Grand Slam doubles champions, Venus and Serena Williams.

A. JONES: After last night's disappointing first round doubles loss for her and her sister Venus, the sisters' first team-up since the 2018 French Open looking rusty at times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifth double fault for the team.

A. JONES: At other moments, bringing the energy and power that helped them win three Olympic gold medals together, ultimately falling in two sets to a check duo who played more aggressively.

LUCIE HRADECKA, WORLD NUMBER 25 IN WOMEN'S DOUBLES: I'm so sorry for you that we beat them but we are so happy that we did it.

A. JONES: Despite that loss, Williams' run drawing praise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Standing ovation for Venus and Serena.

A. JONES: She surprised the tennis world with her opening night victory, then came her stunning upset of second ranked Estonian Anett Kontaveit.

PATRICK MCENROE, ESPN TENNIS COMMENTATOR: It started off as a coronation. Nobody expected her to look like the player she was that dominated tennis for so long. Now, all of a sudden, you're thinking she could actually win this thing.

A. JONES: At her most recent press conference, Williams saying of the fanfare --

SERENA WILLIAMS, 23-TIME GRAND SLAM SINGLES WINNER: I think these moments are clearly fleeting. So, for me, it's really about having a little embrace but also understanding that I'm here to focus, you know, and do the best that I can this time.

A. JONES: What could be Williams' last tournament has been a bonanza for the U.S. Open, setting crowd records and drawing raves.

ROGER FEDERER, 20-TIME GRAND SLAM SINGLES WINNER: Enjoy this moment, enjoy the U.S. Open.

A. JONES: Including from her third round opponent, who called her an inspiration. Tonight, the 23-time Grand Slam champion hoping to postpone any final sendoff for another day.

(END VIDEOTAPE) A. JONES (on camera): And to give you a sense of how well Serena has been playing, particularly in the singles matches this U.S. Open, she was the underdog in her last match. Tonight, the odds-makers have her as the favorite. Brianna?

KEILAR: She is the favorite indeed tonight. Athena, thank you so much for that report for us.

So, you just heard some of tennis great Roger Federer's words of encouragement for Serena Williams. Here's a bit more of what the 20- time Grand Slam champion had to say to his fellow tennis legend ahead of her third round match tonight.


FEDERER: Hey, Serena, it's Roger here. Listen, I wanted to congratulate you for most incredible career. Look, you know what you have achieved. I know what you've done and you know what it is. It is just beyond incredible.


KEILAR: Joining us now is CNN Sports Correspondent Carolyn Manno. Carolyn, Williams has talked about how freeing it has been to play in this U.S. Open without an X on her back for decades. Tonight, though, for the first time during this tournament, as Athena mentioned, she is the favorite. How do you think that's going to play into this?

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: well, that's been the key to everything, Brianna. I mean, playing without the weight of expectations has given her tremendous freedom, and that's translated on the court. It's made her calmer. That's helped her with her serve.

I think tonight she'll be okay in that respect. Much of the pressure cooker was opened on Monday, and she's put some key people around her. Her coach, Rennae Stubbs, she's relied, she said, on Tiger Woods to help her navigate the mental aspect of all of this. I think if he reaches the quarterfinals against the likes of an Ons Jabeur or the semi-finals against a Coco Gauff, if she reached the final against a top ranked player in the world, Iga Swiatek, then I think that pressure comes back into play when the idea of winning this 24th singles slam becomes a reality for her.

But tonight, I really believe what she says, that she feels free, that she's unburdened, that this is a bonus, that she has nothing else to prove. I mean, she's saying that. But for the first time in a long time, I think she truly means it.

KEILAR: You see these pictures of her, Carolyn. There's a lightness and a brightness in her eyes, like she's really just able to absorb what this moment is.

MANNO: There is that brightness, and I think she is managing taking in the moment with also kind of the micro-story here, which is the tennis. But you also see that look in her eyes, Brianna, that we've seen since she was a teenager, when she is completely laser-focused, when she is completely dialed in.


Both of those things have been there. I expect them to be here tonight. You think about this crowd, Brianna, they're giving her essentially two games a set. They're really helping her. When she needs them to be loud, they are so loud for her.

There's a little bit of bad behavior out there as well. I mean, double fault, her opponents get a big cheer from this crowd. They're quiet when she needs them to be. She's going to utilize this entire experience that's been curated around her.

And hopefully it will help her again. I mean, she deserves this final bow, she deserves everything that has come with this moment, because of what she's given to the sport of tennis and beyond. And hopefully she can get it done tonight.

KEILAR: We'll be watching with you. Carolyn Manno, thank you.

Coming up, inside former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, does the layout of his lavish Florida mansion shed light on just how high risk security is there?



KEILAR: In the spotlight more than ever, former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate following the FBI search that uncovered top secret and classified documents the president took from the White House.

CNN's Brian Todd is here with a closer look.

And Brian, those classified documents were found obviously in a very lavish home.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's right. Lavish is kind of an understatement for this, Brianna. We have new details tonight on where Donald Trump and his family and friends congregate inside the 20-acre compound and what draws the former president, his admirers and others to the estate.


TODD (voice-over): From the ornate multi-chandeliered Donald J. Trump ballroom, to gold trimmed sitting and dining rooms, new focus tonight on the layout inside Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump's 20-acre expanse on South Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach.

A new inventory says federal investigators took several boxes of documents and other items from Donald Trump's office at Mar-a-Lago. Where would they have to go to find them?

LAURENCE LEAMER, AUTHOR: Trump's office is right above his golden grand ballroom. SARAH BLASKEY, CO-AUTHOR, "THE GRIFTER'S CLUB": Those areas are

private. They're accessible only to the family and then also the staff that keep it clean and that kind of thing.

TODD: The sheer opulence of the 114-room mansion is what stood out to those who have been there and written about it.

LEAMER: It's not like Trump Plaza or Trump buildings in New York with his name splashed everywhere. It's just gold, gold, gold, gold.

TODD: Gold plated and wooden crests abound, a room with marble east decor, and the unforgettable billiard room with the portrait of a younger Donald Trump wearing a V-neck tennis sweater.

LEAMER: Mar-a-Lago is a monument to Donald Trump. Why does he have to be there? Why would he want to be here when he's president? Because he needs to constantly be celebrated.

TODD: There's an elegant outdoor dining terrace but wherever you dine at Mar-a-Lago --

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": They always serve his kind of food. There's a lot of beef on the menu. You don't have to get a salad if you're not interested, and I think there's always plenty of ketchup for whatever he's eating.

TODD: The author Laurence Leamer has written a book on Mar-a-Lago and says he's been on the estate several times.

What struck Leamer is how close the family quarters are to an open, crowded area.

LEAMER: The family quarter is just up the hall from the place where everybody's having dinner. It's kind of extraordinary.

TODD: All this luxury accessible to people who can afford steep membership fees.

D'ANTONIO: When he became president, Donald Trump and his children doubled the entrance fee in order to join Mar-a-Lago from $100,000 to $200,000. I think it's worth noting that those fees are the same today.

TODD: Including a $14,000 annual fee to stay a member. Weddings, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs are often booked at Mar-a-Lago.

The annual New Year's Eve Party said to be a hot ticket and there's always a chance of a surprise encounter.

D'ANTONIO: Anyone who's booked a room there might get to meet the former president because he loves to pop in. He loves to hear the applause. It's something he's obviously addicted to.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: The authors we spoke to who wrote books on Trump and Mar-a-Lago say it's there that people go to actually do business with Donald Trump, to close a deal with him where he's always felt the most comfortable -- Brianna.

TODD: Very interesting report, Brian. Thank you so much for that.

Up next, we're following a difficult holiday travel weekend coming on the heels of a summer that's seen thousands of flights canceled.



KEILAR: The holiday travel surge is here.

CNN's Pete Muntean reports.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With flight cancellations by the thousands, passengers demanding refunds and pilots picketing at airports across the country the Labor Day travel rush is shaping up to be a dramatic end to a summer of travel struggles. On Tuesday alone, more than 800 flights were canceled nationwide mostly for bad weather. The new summer long tally more than 45,000 flights canceled by U.S. carriers since the start of June.

MELISSA HABEDANK, ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA: Staggeringly frustrating because you can be there about ready to board and a flight -- God, not again, really, can't something be on time?

MUNTEAN: New tools for passengers are coming just in time for the holiday rush. The Department of Transportation is rolling out a new online dashboard laying out what each airline owes you if you're delayed or canceled. The federal government has been flooded with complaints from fed up fliers up 270 percent in June compared to pre- pandemic figures, 38 state attorneys general to say an industry that received billions in federal pandemic aid has failed their customers.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: This summer too many flights have been delayed or canceled.

MUNTEAN: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is getting some results from airlines. Many have rewritten your ticket's fine print in plain language, in some cases improving when you can get hotel and meal vouchers. On United Airlines, you were entitled to a meal voucher after a four-hour delay but now it's after three hours.

POLLY TROTTENBERG, DEPUTY TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: A lot of airlines have upped their game and committed to some protections they hadn't previously.

MUNTEAN: Pressure on the airlines also coming from their workers. Off-duty pilots from Delta, United, Spirit and American Airlines protested across the country Thursday, insisting cancellations are the carriers own creation and passengers are caught in the middle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We understand that frustration because we live it every day.


MUNTEAN (on camera): Frustrations are high and so are ticket prices. Travel site Hopper says air fare has jumped 23 percent compared to this time last year, up 20 percent compared today the same weekend back in 2019 before the pandemic. Hopper anticipates an additional 12.6 million Americans will travel domestically by air over the Labor Day weekend -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Pete Muntean, thank you.

I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.