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The Situation Room
DOJ Mulling Next Steps After Losing Trump Special Master Case; Manhunt Under Way For Two Suspects Charged In Deadly Mass Stabbing; Biden In Pennsylvania, Tonight, Targeting Key Swing States On Labor Day; Millions Of Travelers Heading Home From Holiday Weekend; Liz Truss Named Next UK Prime Minister, Replacing Boris Johnson. Aired 6- 7p ET
Aired September 05, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the Justice Department is considering its next moves hours after losing a legal battle with former President Trump. A federal judge granting Trump's request for a special master to review documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.
Also tonight, President Biden is in Pennsylvania targeting key swing states on this Labor Day and renewing his criticism of MAGA Republicans as the midterm campaign season ramps up.
And we're following the manhunt for two suspects now facing murder charges in the deadly mass stabbing spree in Canada.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar, and this is a SITUATION ROOM special report.
Tonight, a federal judge has stepped into the legal battle over sensitive documents seized from former President Trump Florida home. As CNN's Sara Murray explains, the ruling creates new hurdles for the Justice Department in its criminal investigation of Trump's handling of government secrets.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A judge today granting Donald Trump's request for a special master to review materials the FBI seized from the extraordinary search at Mar-a-Lago. Judge Aileen Cannon writing, because of Trump's role as a former president, the stigma associated with the subject seizure is in a league of its own. A future indictment based to any degree on property that ought to be returned would result in reputational harm of a decidedly different magnitude.
In a major victory for Trump, a third party attorney outside of government will soon be tasked with sifting through thousands of documents to identify personal items and materials that could be protected by attorney/client or executive privilege. JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: While it does delay things and slow it down, which, of course, is bad for DOJ in their case, I think at the end of the day, we're not going to see a lot of documents pulled by the special master.
MURRAY: The judge pointing out that some of the seized materials include taxes and accounting information, the ruling allowing U.S. intelligence agencies to continue their national security damage assessment but halting the Justice Department's criminal review of its Mar-a-Lago haul.
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I don't think it has a massive impact in their investigation in the long run. If I was the prosecutor working on this case, I would say, let's just trudge for with the special master, get through this as quickly as we can so we can move on.
MURRAY: Even as the judge acknowledged there was not any evidence of a callous disregard for Trump's constitutional right, adding that Trump ultimately may not be entitled to return of much of the seized property or the prevail on his anticipated claims of privilege. That inquiry remains for another dya.
Meantime, Trump speaking at his first rally since the FBI searched his resort last month.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They rifled through the first lady's closet drawers and everything else and even did a deep and ugly search of the room of my 16-year-old son. The FBI and the Justice Department have become vicious monsters controlled by radical left scoundrels.
MURRAY: The former president slamming law enforcement as high ranking Republicans offered explanations for why Trump may have been hoarding top secret information.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): I have lived in the classified world most of my professional career. I personally wouldn't do that but I'm not the president of the United States.
MURRAY: And allies like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham --
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): But what I've tried to do is state the obvious.
MURRAY: -- still cleaning up his comments, warning of riots in the streets if prosecutors charged the former president.
GRAHAM: We've had a standard set when it came to Hillary Clinton. If he does what she did with classified information and he gets prosecuted and she didn't, it would create a problem.
MURRAY (on camera): Now, when it comes to the special master, the Justice Department had previously asked the judge to tailor her ruling in hay way so that they could appeal it. Today, DOJ is not saying exactly what they're going to do moving forward. They said they are reviewing this ruling and their next steps, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Sara, stay with us. I do want to bring into this conversation the former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, he's a CNN senior law enforcement analyst. And also with us, CNN Legal and National Security Analyst Carrie Cordero.
Andrew, the judge makes note here in this filing of the unprecedented nature of this search and the stigma that Trump faces. What stands out to you in the judge's order?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, in the part that you just referred to, Brianna, what stands out to me is a lot about this order seems like it could -- there's not another litigant in the United States of America who could have gotten this same ruling.
It seems very tailored to and particularly considerate of the former president's position and status and his media role.
What's really remarkable to me, it's clear that the judge did not trust the government's filter process review. She indicated in the arguments that she had some concerns about that. Here, she says that there are reasons to believe -- there are concerns as to the efficacy of the government's process. And the elements that she cites is causing irreparable harm potentially to former President Trump or also things that undercut, I think, the government's legitimacy and effectiveness in this case so far. So, it's really a very pro- plaintiff, pro-Trump ruling in all respects.
KEILAR: Andrew, is there another litigant in the U.S. that would have gotten this kind of treatment that Donald Trump has gotten with all the different steps to return this information though?
MCCABE: Not at all. Not at all. And, I mean, let's think about it just in terms of this request, right? There are hundreds of search warrants that are executed at the federal level around the country every single day. And I can guarantee you none of those litigants, even though they suffered from the same concerns about having their reputations damaged if it becomes publicly known that they're under investigation, they have concerns about the materials that are seized from their homes and their offices as part of that investigation. Nevertheless, those are lawful and unavoidable steps in court- authorized criminal investigations. And those litigants don't get this kind of consideration
So, it is concerning to me that we are kind of edging even closer and closer to this condition where people from high level political positions -- there is no higher position, obviously, than the president -- are treated differently. I don't think that's right.
KEILAR: Carrie, do you think the Justice Department might appeal here? CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think they may. I think it's about 50/50, Brianna, whether they will. On one hand, there are the pragmatic considerations that when they look at the time -- potential time delay for their investigation, they may just decide that going through the motions of the special master, having that review done would take less time away from the investigation than challenging it in court.
On the other hand, for all of the reasons that Andrew just described, there is real, substantive reasons, I think, for them to seriously consider an appeal in this case because the judge has ordered the stoppage of the review of material for purposes of their investigation. So, she has said that they cannot review this information any further and use it in their investigation. So, that's a delay.
Also for the reasons that Andrew describes, there is this issue of equitability and the fair application of the rule of law. And although the judge's opinion does seem to point directly to his status as a former president and her concerns potentially about executive privilege, although she doesn't really articulate well in the opinion why she thinks there's a credible reason that executive privilege would apply.
All of the things that she points to have to do with the fact that there would be stigma, that it would potentially affect the former president. And those are all things that apply to every person who is the subject of a physical search. That stigma issue, that inconvenience, those reputational issues apply to everyone. And from that perspective, even though the judge tries to cabin (ph) her opinion as respect to the former president only, I would have to think the defense attorneys around the country are going to be looking at this and say, well, why cannot my client get these same protections of a special master?
KEILAR: Sara, the two sides here are supposed to propose ideas or people that they would find acceptable, right, as a third party is here. How does this lay out?
MURRAY: Well, look, it's not unusual for a judge to ask these two sides to confer on issues like this to put forward special master candidates, to put forward potential timelines. Obviously, we've seen a very acrimonious relationship between the Trump team and the Justice Department, including many attacks by the former president publicly. So, that could impact things going forward.
I think the judge does leave them some wiggle room essentially to say, look, if you guys can't reach an agreement on this, you can both file separately, file your names separately.
But the other reality in this case is you do need a special master who has the appropriate security clearance to be looking through these documents, given what we've learned about the classification markings on them.
[18:10:01] So, that could also just narrow the pool of individuals that are up to this task.
KEILAR: Carrie, how do you see that working if they are picking people both sides and they don't necessarily agree on who it would be?
CORDERO: Well, I think they both would come up with their own list of who they would like to see. You know, I can think of former colleagues or judges who worked in the national security space who potentially -- I could probably come up with a short list for them of who potentially could be people who could fulfill this role. But I think it's less about who the specific individual is that fills the role than whether or not the Justice Department decides to appeal because this really is not the right circumstance in this case.
KEILAR: Bottom line, Andrew, is this a win for Trump, in your view?
MCCABE: Oh, no question. It's a huge win for Trump for primarily two reasons, right? His strategy here -- so, strategically, his strategy is to play for delay. And he gets that either with the appointment of the special master or potentially an even much larger delay if the government decides to appeal this ruling.
And, secondly, from just a public relations perspective, winning a motion against the government puts Donald Trump in a very positive position. It enables him to continue this narrative that he is the kind of wounded, aggrieved party here, and he's fighting back against the government that's done something wrong. And that's a message that resonates very deeply with his audience. So, this is a good day for team Trump.
KEILAR: Andrew, Carrie and Sara, thank you to all of you for the conversation.
Just ahead, more on our top story, a federal judge granting former President Trump's request for a special master. We'll get reaction from a key member of the House Intelligence Committee. This is a Situation Room special report.
KEILAR: Right now, we're getting some new reaction to a federal judge's ruling granting former President Trump's request for a special master to review documents seized during the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago.
We are joined by a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Joaquin Castro. Sir, thank you so much for being with us on this holiday Monday, we do appreciate it.
And I first just want to get your reaction to this federal judge granting the former president his request for a special master.
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Well, I mean, it's another example of the judicial system really bending over backwards to accommodate a former president. Most defendants in this case would not have a special master appointed and so this is basically an extra accommodation for the former president of the United States.
I do think that it was probably a delay tactic by former President Trump and also I don't think it's going to fundamentally change anything. The fact is he took classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, a beach resort. There was no business that he had keeping them there. And then when the Justice Department asked for them, he refused to give them back. And so I don't fundamentally in the end think it's going to change much.
KEILAR: Do you trust this federal judge to mediate the appointment of the special master?
CASTRO: You know, I don't know very much about her. Again, like I can only go by her actions. This is a -- this is basically special treatment for Donald Trump. It's unusual that a special master would be appointed in this case. And, you know, also we don't know who she's going to appoint. And also, very importantly, to me, what the timeline is for the special master to do his or her work.
And the reason I say that is because I do think it's a delay tactic by former President Trump. He's trying to wait until January to see if Republicans take over the House or the Senate. And then he's going to try to want to use any political leverage that he can have, Mitch McConnell or Speaker McCarthy, if he becomes speaker, assert at that time to try to pressure the Justice Department to lay off on the investigation, to bully the Justice Department into doing whatever he can in the political realm to try to save Donald Trump.
KEILAR: Look, I don't disagree with you that some other, you know, person who was not -- some other litigant who was not the former president would not get this same treatment. Isn't that also the case that we've seen in other places as well? I mean, you wouldn't expect a person to get the treatment by the DOJ that Donald Trump has gotten, a request for documents, some liaising with the DOJ, then a subpoena, and then a search warrant.
CASTRO: Yes, I mean, I think Brianna, look, I mean, if I walked out of the SCIF in Congress with all these documents and then refused to give them back over months, I wouldn't be in my home still. I would be sitting in jail or out on bond. So, that was already a very high level of special treatment for this former president. You layer on top of that now this extra appointment of a special master.
That said, like I said, in the end, fundamentally, I don't think it's going to make a difference for him. And the Justice Department, if they determine that those actions were criminal, and just sitting from here, I think they very well could be, I still think he could be facing prosecution.
KEILAR: It's important to note here the damage assessment will continue. Do you have faith that we are going to find out if this did cause a national security threat and that this is going to do nothing to sideline that? CASTRO: Yes, you make a great point. Remember, she's essentially saying there's going to be a special master appointed that's going to review the documents, and that's going to hold up any kind of criminal investigation. But the damage assessment by the intelligence agencies is going to move forward.
So, the intelligence committee and members of Congress at least should have a good sense, I would think, in the next few months about what exactly was contained in those documents in Mar-a-Lago. So, I'm confident that that will move forward and we, in performing our oversight duty, will have a clear picture of what exactly he had at his house.
KEILAR: Are you getting the transparency that you need from DNI on this?
CASTRO: Well, I wish that it was coming quicker. I know that Congress will go back in a few weeks in September.
And I would expect at that point that we should get a lot more information about exactly what's contained in those documents. Now, we've been out of session, as you know. And so when we go back and we have to review all these things in a classified setting, we'll have a chance to see exactly what he had.
KEILAR: The former president over the weekend lashed out at this investigation. He called the FBI and DOJ employees monsters and he warned of a backlash. What is the effect of that, in your opinion?
CASTRO: Well, again, I mean, he's putting a target on the backs of law enforcement and specifically on the FBI. And remember, Donald Trump has got millions of people who are just super loyal to him and some of those folks are fanatics. And I do think that there is small percentage of them relative to his overall support who could get violent and who could carry out acts of domestic terrorism against the FBI. We've already seen some of that. And so he knows that by now, and he continues to intentionally put a target on the back of law enforcement.
KEILAR: Congressman Joaquin Castro, we appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
CASTRO: Good to be with you.
KEILAR: Coming up, police have just given an update after a series of mass stabbings in Canada. One suspect is dead. The other is still on the run. What else we're learning, next.
KEILAR: Breaking news in the manhunt after at least ten people were killed in a series of stabbings in Canada. Police say one suspect has been found dead and the other may be injured.
CNN's Brian Todd joining us live. Brian, tell us, what are you learning here?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, right now, our colleague, Paula Newton, in Ottawa is reporting that one of the suspects, Damien Sanderson, 31 years old, he was charged with multiple crimes in connection to the stabbing deaths of ten people, was found dead today on the James Smith Creek Nation Reservation. That is the same area where the majority of the victims were attacked.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed this afternoon that Damien Sanderson was found in a grassy area close to a house that was being looked at by authorities. Police say that Damien Sanderson's injuries are not believed to be self-inflicted but we're getting more information as we go on that.
Now, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police says his brother, a fellow suspect, Myles Sanderson, may have sustained injures as well but they have not confirmed that yet, Myles Sanderson, 30 years old. They say, even if Myles Sanderson is injured, he could still be very dangerous, so his status right now as far as whether he's been captured or not, unclear right now.
Myles Sanderson has a lengthy criminal record that involved property crimes as well. The two men were wanted in connection what we've been reporting all day with a horrific stabbing spree that left ten people dead, at least 18 injured on and near that reservation in Saskatchewan, all of this unfolding yesterday.
Authorities said, at one point, the vehicle they were driving in was believed to have been spotted about three hours south of the reservation in the provincial capital of Regina. The two men were at large for at least 24 hours and the subject of just a sweeping manhunt, Brianna. It appears that at least, regarding one of those suspects, he was found deceased, Damien Sanderson. Again, we'll hopefully get some more information soon about the other suspect, Myles Sanderson.
KEILAR: Yes, some developments here raising a lot of questions. Brian, thank you for the latest on that.
Let's discuss with Phil Mudd, he is a former CIA counterterrorism official, and Steve Moore, a retired FBI supervisory special agent.
All right, Phil, just react to this new development here. One of these suspects dead. Injuries do not appear to be self-inflicted.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, my reaction is the difference psychologically between a gun killing and a knife killing. If you look at a gun killing, think of Uvalde. The killer can be distant from the individual they killed. That can be in some ways a sort of a psychological sort of bar between the killer and the individuals they killed. In this case, if you're knifing someone to death, the emotional and psychology of a knifing is much more aggressive, much more sort of emotive than a gun killing. My first question is whether the two individuals involved in the killing had some sort of incident between themselves.
But my take away, Brianna, is going in, if you're going to knife that many people, the psychological sort of state that you've got to be in has got to be incredibly intense. And in some ways, I wouldn't find this surprising.
KEILAR: Steve, what do you think?
STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I -- there's so many questions that come up as an investigator where this is going. I want to know right off were the wounds inflicted by Myles, his brother, or were they inflicted by somebody who they attacked? That's going to tell you a lot. My thinking, of course, is trying to find them.
I don't think Damien ever made it to Regina, where they say they saw the getaway car. So, the brothers, I think, split at some point and one was simply left behind. The fact that Damien was found outside of a house that they were already looking at, it leads me to believe that he was on his way back to a home or a location where he thought he could get some help.
KEILAR: What, Steve, danger does Myles Sanderson pose even if he is injured?
MOORE: Oh, if he's injured, I mean, approach him as you would an injured bear. I mean, he's more likely to be dangerous. He's more likely to be aggressive.
And, disturbingly, if he's injured, he's more likely to come in contact with people because he is going to find them. He is not going to hunker down if he's bleeding. So, he is more likely to be put into -- or put himself into situations where he could harm others.
KEILAR: Phil, what do you think about how this investigation proceeds from here when you are dealing with a suspect who appears to have been involved in something just so, you know, appalling, as you put it, these stabbing deaths?
MUDD: I think there's a couple things to think about. First, I think Steve is dead on. When somebody goes over a psychological bar and decides to do this with a knife, you've got to anticipate that their psychological state, obviously, is not only unstable. I think there's a prospect that they go into a situation anticipating they will die.
But the second thing, more significant, that you might think about here, Brianna, is the fact that people going into this situation are going to think less about the getaway than about the actual incident. So, as you're interviewing friends, family, coworkers, the likelihood that this person is going to go distant from known places, apartments, friends, et cetera, I think, is relatively low. My bottom line is they're going to find this person. I doubt they have a getaway plan. They just have to be careful, as Steve said, approaching. This person is going to maybe want to go down by what we call death by cop. They're going to get killed.
KEILAR: This is incredibly dangerous situation. Phil and Steve, thank you for your insights there.
Just ahead, President Biden's remarks in Pennsylvania tonight as he returns to the swing state where he launched a new offensive against what he calls MAGA Republicans. We'll discuss his midterm strategy now that the campaign season is heating up.
KEILAR: Tonight, President Biden is back in Pennsylvania, a swing state that will be key in the upcoming midterm elections and in 2024.
I want to go ahead and bring in Van Jones to talk about what we saw today. You know, Van, really interesting because we heard from the president today, and I actually want to play just a quick sound bite of something that he said so we can discuss it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: This new group, headed by the former president -- the former defeated president -- we found ourselves in a situation where we were either going to look forward or look backwards. And it's clear which way he wants to look. It's clear which way the new MAGA Republicans are. They're extreme. And democracy is really at stake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So, that's just part of what he said. But this is my question for you. Because last week, after his speech on Thursday, you said it was important that he gave this speech, important that he addressed that. But you wanted to hear him call Republicans in, not out. Is he hitting the mark today?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think he's trying to do something that's difficult. He wants this election, frankly, to be a choice between Trump and himself and not just a referendum on inflation, et cetera. So, that's a part of the political strategy here.
I still think he's missing a big opportunity because what -- if you think that the reason people are going in the Trump direction, these extreme directions, are because these are just bad people, terrible people, dumb people, mean people, you can write them off.
But if you're Joe Biden, you've got to know it's deeper than that. You've got grief out there. You've got fear out there. And when people are grieving the America they thought they were going to get or the life they thought they were going to have, they can make bad decisions. When people are scared of the future, they're scared with what's happening, they can make bad decisions. And I think Joe Biden's core empathy, his ability to relate to some of these very voters, is something he needs to dial back up. I don't think at the end of the day he -- he's still Joe Biden. He's the only Democrat we have, frankly, that can say to these guys, look, I know you and you're better than this. I'm not just going to write you off. I'm not going to let you get away with this. I need you to on my team. I need you to be a part of rebuilding this country. You need to be a part of a better movement than the one you're in right now. I need you.
That is not coming across yet, and it needs to. Even if nobody listens to it and changes their vote, it can change people's hearts. It can change people's perspective of does the commander-in-chief like me? Does he see me? Or has he already written me off as somebody who's just irredeemable? And I just think Joe Biden has the opportunity to do what very few leaders can do, which is to disagree but still continue reaching out.
KEILAR: And, you know, you're friends who are Democrats disagree with you, right? They feel like there's no point to that. They feel like these folks are gone. There's no sort of getting them back. You're saying no, they're not respond redemption. Why do you think that? Explain that. Make that case. What do you say to your Democratic friends when they say, Van, that's nuts?
JONES: I know people on both sides. They have four political parties in this country. We've got mainstream Democrats, the progressive Democrats, the mainstream Republicans and the MAGA Republicans. And I know people in all four parties. And they're all four parties that dysfunction in their own ways but what's core is that all of them are concerned about where we're going. They all feel that they're not being heard. They're all afraid. And you need the grandpa in chief to continue to sit people down. Vote against me, that's fine.
Look, what Joe Biden should say is, guys, I don't even ask you guys to become Democrats. I wish you to become Republicans again. I want you to actually be true to your best values. You are the party of Lincoln. You are the party of Jack Kemp.
I want to work with you. Be your best self. I'll fix my party. I've got nuts in my party, but you've got to be better in your own party.
That kind of conversation from Joe Biden I think would shock a lot of people. I think the idea that you only talk to people if you can convince them to vote for you. And if they won't vote with you, you don't care about them. That's not us. That's some new weird stuff in America. It works on Twitter. It doesn't work when you're trying to run a country.
KEILAR: All right. Van, stand by for me. I want to bring in Jeff Zeleny, who was actually at this speech.
Jeff, the Democratic Senate candidate, John Fetterman, joined Biden today. I want to listen to what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): We make steel. In New Jersey, Dr. Oz makes crudite. I want to make it really simple for all of you. It's a choice. It's a choice. An ally, the sacred life of union, the union way of life, the union way of life, or someone like Dr. Oz, that would take it away and try to destroy it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Why is his appearance today so significant, Jeff?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, it's significant because, of course, John Fetterman, who is the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, he suffered a stroke back right before his primary in May, and he went on to win that primary very easily. But since then, he had more than three months off the campaign trail entirely. He was very sick, nearly died. He had a heart issue as well that led to the stroke. So, he's slowly rejoined the campaign.
This is the first time he's been at the same event with President Biden. And I am told that they met privately for about 15 minutes or so before this event began. And so it is certainly significant that Lieutenant Governor Fetterman was speaking today.
And, yes, he does still have some of the aftereffects from the stroke. You can hear it very easily. His aides say his speech is improving. But, certainly, that has now become an issue in this Senate race, in this contest with Dr. Mehmet Oz. So, the fact that they were here speaking and just a short time ago, as President Biden was leaving, I saw them have another conversation. The president was posing for some selfies and taking pictures with the Fetterman family.
Now, look, John Fetterman is a progressive, a former Bernie Sanders supporter, so, certainly, from a different wing of the Democratic Party, if you will. There's no doubt that President Biden, he said there's no one he would rather be in a foxhole with than John Fetterman. Certainly, his stature of about 6'7 is part of that, but they also believe that in this Senate seat here, Democrats can win and hold the Senate majority, should they win that seat.
So, all eyes are on John Fetterman, and, certainly, they're relieved he's back out campaigning.
KEILAR: Yes. He's pretty scrappy, Jeff. I think that's what he was referring to. Why do Democrats think they might be able to defy the normal odds in the midterm election?
ZELENY: Well, look part of it is just the fact that the accomplishments the Biden administration has been able to achieve over the last few weeks, as well as inflation is moderating, at least it seems that way. Gas prices have gone down every day throughout the summer. So, Democrats believe they have a bit of wind at their back.
But it's also what you and Van were talking about earlier. It is the fact that Donald Trump has returned front and center to the political arena. He is back on stage now. And so the White House and President Biden believe that this creates an opening and an opportunity for them to remind voters why they didn't like Donald Trump in the first place.
We're not talking about the Trump base, of course. They are as true believers as they ever have been. But those voters in the middle that largely lost the Trump White House, control of Congress, that is who President Biden is going after. That's also, as Van was talking about, why he is sort of moderating his tone a little bit and trying to soften his criticism of some Republicans, not throwing all Republicans in one barrel. Because he needs, frankly, to try and get some of those independents in the middle who frankly don't want to be lectured to, but they certainly do want to have the president talk about democracy.
KEILAR: All right. Van, quick, quick final word. Why do you think Democrats can defy the odds?
JONES: Well, because, I mean, look at Fetterman. I mean, this guy is an American original. He's fighting back. His health was bad. He's still trying to help America. And I think people are going to relate to candidates like him. We've got better candidates. I think we're going to have a better shot.
KEILAR: All right. Van, Jeff, thank you to both of you on this holiday Monday. I appreciate you being with us.
Coming up, we're going to get an update on air travel as the Labor Day weekend comes to a close. How does this holiday compare e with the chaos that we saw throughout the summer?
KEILAR: Tonight, travelers are wrapping up the long Labor Day weekend and heading home.
CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean is at Reagan National Airport just outside of Washington with the latest on flight disruptions at the close of a chaotic summer.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the last long weekend of the summer is the latest big test for airlines that have been struggling with staffing shortages. Cancellations really peaked on Sunday, with more than 200 flights canceled nationwide, according to flight aware. But it's a small fraction of what we saw on the worst day of last week. More than 800 flights canceled last Tuesday, mostly because of bad weather and an even smaller fraction of the more than 45,000 flights that have been canceled nationwide since the first of June.
Airlines have been under a lot of pressure, not only from passengers but also from the federal government, also from their workers. Members of the Airline Pilots Association protested at airline hubs across the country late last week, saying that most of these issues are self- inflicted by the carriers themselves.
Even still, passengers are undaunted by all of this, 2.3 million people screened at security at airports across the country last Thursday.
That number is significant because it's 200,000 people higher than what we saw on the same day back in 2019, before the pandemic. Passengers who are flying right now in many cases have more rights if their flight is delayed or canceled.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg pushed for airlines to rewrite the fine print attached to your ticket in plain language. In many cases, airlines did so, all of those new policies laid out on a department of transportation dashboard that is now online, which shows when you can get a hotel or meal voucher. Those who are driving are facing gas prices 60 cents higher than this time last year, but way down from the $5 peak we saw on June 14th.
The average price for a gallon of regular gas, according to AAA, now $3.78 -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Pete, thank you for that.
Now to the brutal heat wave out west putting millions of people at risk.
CNN National correspondent Natasha Chen joins us live from Santa Monica.
Natasha, how bad is it there today?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, we're talking about 50 million people under heat alerts throughout the west, across about seven states. Here in Santa Monica, we saw a lot of people trying to get in early runs and exercise this morning before the height of the heat set in. And California officials in a press conference earlier today did say that today and tomorrow, this is the most extreme part of this heat wave.
We are in the heart of this heat event, they said. There are possibilities that there could be rotating blackouts to try to prevent that, they're asking Californians once again to voluntarily conserve energy from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m. it's been going on a few days, but it seems to be working a bit.
Officials said in the last couple days, they have actually seen 2 percent less demand than expected, but they really need us to conserve two to three times more than that to have a safe enough buffer to prevent actions like those rotating blackouts. Across the board, we're seeing temperatures about 15 to 20 degrees above normal. If you take a look at this map, about the coming days, we're talking about maybe 175 plus places that could be breaking temperature records and looking at yesterday's temperatures, these are some examples of places that have already seen temperature records broken.
And if you're living in another part of the country where you think, okay, I get these temperatures too during the summer, keep in mind, some of these coastal areas typically avoid excessive heat like this, so much that some of the older buildings don't have central air. We met people today that didn't have AC in their homes.
So, that makes it particularly challenging. It also means fire danger. We have 14 large wildfires burning in the state right now including the mill fire up north where unfortunately two women were found dead on Friday -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yeah. Look, my childhood home in Orange County not far from where you are, no air conditioning. We just never really needed it, and here you are, it's just unbelievable.
Natasha, thank you for that report.
We're going to have more news just ahead, including what you need to know about Liz truss, who is set to become just the third woman to lead the united kingdom. Her promises and immediately challenges as she takes office tomorrow.
KEILAR: Tomorrow, Liz Truss will become the third woman to lead the United Kingdom when she replaces Boris Johnson as prime minister.
CNN's Bianca Nobilo reports.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Britain's new prime minister is an ambitious political chameleon.
LIZ TRUSS, INCOMING BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We will deliver, we will deliver, we will deliver. And we -- and we --
NOBILO: And during her acceptance speech, Liz Truss promises to cut taxes, grow the economy, and deliver a plan to tackle soaring energy costs. One of two candidates selected by Tory lawmakers after Boris Johnson was pushed to resign following one too many scandals.
BORIS JOHNSON, OUTGOING BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I want to apologize.
NOBILO: Truss was ultimately chosen by less than 1 percent of electorate of the British electorate, a sliver of the conservative base, older, whiter, and more right wing than the average voter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough already.
NOBILO: She promised a hard line on immigration and tax cuts to a party drifting further to the right, channeling their hero Margaret Thatcher, even dressing like her. Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted his support, calling her
victory decisive, but with just 57 percent of the votes, Truss' first challenge will be to unite her party. Let alone the country.
Like half of Britain's prime ministers, she studied here at Oxford University. But back then, she was a liberal Democrat activist, in favor of legalizing cannabis and abolishing the monarchy.
TRUSS: Abolish them, we've had enough!
NOBILO: Now, she is the darling of the right-wing of Britain's conservatives, the pro-monarchy party of law and order, quite the 180.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she fought a good campaign and I'm not surprised that she's been voted in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it make me feel warm and cuddly and soft all over. Not really because nothing will change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's going to help energy costs, living costs, and that's what we really need.
NOBILO: Truss inherits a nightmare. War in Europe, a biting cost of living crisis, the country braced for a winter of potential blackouts and fuel poverty. Britain is desperately hoping she'll leverage her ambition and adaptability to rise to the challenge.
NOBILO (on camera): Brianna, there are many in Westminster tonight who are doubtful as to whether or not Liz Truss has the mettle, the substance, and the diplomacy to navigate Britain through these monumental challenges ahead. A struggling economy, a biting cost of living crisis, the need to face up to Putin, but as her supporters suggest and Britain hopes, she may just have been underestimated to this point.
KEILAR: All right, we'll be watching with you. Bianca, thank you for that.
And thank you, everyone, for watching, and happy Labor Day. I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.