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The Situation Room

Washington Post Reports, Material On Foreign Nation's Nukes Seized At Mar-a-Lago; Bidens Welcome Obamas Back To White House For Portrait Unveilings; Canada Mass Stabbing Suspect Taken Into Custody; Jackson: The New Flint Water Crisis; U.S. & Ukrainian Officials: New Counteroffensive Making Gains. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 07, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to "THE LEAD" from whence you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, rising fears that former President Trump may have endangered national and international security after a new report that highly classified material on a foreign nation's nuclear defenses was seized at Mar-a-Lago.

Also tonight the Bidens welcome the Obamas back to the White House for the unveiling of their official portraits. We'll get an insider account of the historic event.

And an in-depth look at America's newest water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, that's left a six-year-old terrified he will die if he drinks from the fountain at school.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get right to you to the classified information seized at Mar-a- Lago, including the government's most closely guarded secrets.

CNN's Sara Murray is following all of the new developments.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New revelations about the sensitivity of the documents seized from Mar-a- Lago.

MARK ESPER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's very, very troubling that this type of information would be there, or anywhere for that matter.

MURRAY: A document describing a foreign government's nuclear capabilities was among those recovered from former President Donald Trump's Florida resort, sources tell The Washington Post.

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: When I went to CIA, I didn't have access to them because there was a strict need to know.

MURRAY: The Justice Department has said in court filings that some of the documents previously recovered from Mar-a-Lago were marked special access program, significantly limiting who should be allowed to view the information. Some of the seized docs were marked SCI, material that must be viewed in a secure government facility.

BRENNAN: It just really -- I think it raises serious, serious questions about whether or not anybody saw them who shouldn't have and whether or not our national security and maybe the national security of our allies has been compromised.

MURRAY: In a statement, a spokesman for Trump condemned never-ending leaks and lies. Trump allies still up in arms over the August search.

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: This whole thing is corrupt as hell.

MURRAY: The Justice Department now blocked from reviewing those materials after a judge granted Trump's request for a special master though the intel community's damage assessment continues.

Still, former Attorney General Bill Barr saying he believes the government is getting closer to indictment.

WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Will the government be able to make out a technical case? Will they have an evidence that they could indict somebody on, including him? And I -- that's the first question, and I think they're getting very close to that point, frankly.

MURRAY: Adding, he doesn't want to see Trump indicted.

BARR: What will that do to the country? What kind of precedent will that set?

MURRAY: As bipartisan pressure builds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not an outrage.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I'm not saying I'm not concerned about the whole situation.

MURRAY: Among lawmakers demanding more details about what was recovered from Mar-a-Lago.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR): The fact that you have a number of agencies looking at these issues, the briefing probably needs to be conducted by more than one agency.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, Senate Intel Chair Mark Warner tells our colleague, Manu Raju, that he hopes in a briefing, Wolf, from the intelligence agencies soon. He says, of course, that's probably not going to happen before next week when the House returns to Washington.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens then. Sara Murray, thank you very, very much.

Let's bring in our legal, political and intelligence experts right now. Phil Mudd, how serious is it that the FBI reportedly recovered a document about a foreign nation's nuclear capabilities.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Let's step to two pieces of these. The first, the basic piece, that is who had access to this, to that person or those persons knew how to handle classified information and did they do anything with it, including talking about the bar about it. I want to know who had access and who gave them access or authorized access.

The more significant issue, Wolf, is the sensitivity of the information. Forget about just the data in the intercept, and I presume some of this is intercepted communications based on the classification. There is a phrase we use that is sources and methods. If you released this information, the adversary we're collecting on will understand how we acquired it, for example, through intercepted communications. They can both shut town that channel of information so that we can't collect anymore and there's a secondary piece. They can see what we cannot collect, what we see not to know and be confirmed and hoping that the U.S. penetration of their nuclear program is not complete. So, it gives a lot of clues to a foreign adversary if this stuff ever gets out, Wolf.

BLITZER: You heard the former CIA director, John Brennan, say that even he, even he, when he was the CIA director, didn't have access to some of these types of documents. So, what sort of national security risk does it present to have this information improperly secured?


MUDD: Well, let's go to top secret for a moment, Wolf. The former CIA director, John Brennan, whom I know, he was cleared at top secret. I was cleared at top secret for 25, 30 years. If you walk into a closet of top secret information, there are shoe boxes in there called special access panels where people like me and John Brennan would not have had access. I was deputy director of counterterrorism at the CIA, deputy director of national security at the FBI. I would not have been able to see the information that appears to have been at Mar-a-Lago.

So, going back to the question of why it's that secret, it's because people know when they're classifying this that any indication of how you're acquiring that allows the adversary to close the gap. It's not just the information, Wolf. It's the fact that you will reveal the source of this information if it ever gets out.

BLITZER: Yes. It's really, really, potentially so, so dangerous.

Maggie Haberman, you've covered Donald Trump for a long, long time. What would motivate him to keep a document about a foreign government's nuclear secrets? MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, Wolf, there's still a lot we won't know about what exactly this document is, for that matter, what the bulk of these more than 300 documents that were found over the course of these three different efforts by the Justice Department were. But there's a range of reasons why Donald Trump would do something like this.

I think Sue Gordon, the former Trump senior intelligence official, put it very well to my colleagues and me last week, which was that with Donald Trump, everything is about leverage. Now, what that leverage means to him at any given moment, could it be because it was something he wanted to use was brag about, could it be because he saw this as his. He certainly was telling people that last year that these boxes of documents were his. Was it something that he had other designs about? I think we're far from knowing that right now, but whatever it was, it was something that he saw as giving him some kind of an edge.

BLITZER: Let me get Gloria Borger into this conversation. Gloria, there were so many moments where Trump should have handed back these documents, including this reported document on nuclear defenses, and he didn't. So, what does that tell you?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let me follow up on what Maggie is saying, because my sources are telling me that, look, Donald Trump thinks in many ways that he's entitled to these documents, that he was president of the United States and that these belong to him. And also Trump has a history of kind of being cavalier about classified information, and that's why you see this all over Mar-a-Lago.

I think the big -- I think the really big question here that a couple of sources I was talking to today can't answer, and they were all talking to each other, is why did he have this in the first place? As Maggie points out, there could be a whole variety of reasons, but he was somebody who wasn't particularly interested in classified information when it was presented to him at the White House. So, what's the other reason here, and we're far from knowing the answer to that.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point. Laura Coates, does the sensitivity, the sensitivity of the nuclear information in these documents raise the stakes legally, legally for the former president?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It certainly can, Wolf. I mean, the idea of looking for those innocent explanations that my colleagues just spoken about can, in many times, talk about whether there has been a criminal intent involved in all, whether it was inadvertent, whether this was something that was accidental. But the higher the level of documents, the less likely you are to believe that there can be that innocent explanation and the sheer volume of it as well, which is one of the reasons I think that whatever investigations was happening legally will expand even beyond, if it's to that point, Donald Trump.

I mean, this is somebody, as you know, as the president of the United States, have you seen him carry all these files in different points in time, somebody was there to actually hand him the document, whose job would be to retrieve the documents, to return them to the rightful places that Phil describe. The fact that they were not done so, they were unaccounted for or allowed to remain in his possession, certainly, there were other people who were within in his orbit or able to facilitate the removal of the information. And for that reason, I think it's a very expansive notion here and it really bodes a lot of fear and concern of our national security. The possession alone though can have the criminal liability but the idea, as far as you get to all of those instances and (INAUDIBLE) return, that raises the stakes.

BLITZER: Maggie, as you heard, the former Trump attorney general, Bill Barr, believes the Justice Department is getting close, close to an indictment. How could that influence Trump's political calculations?

HABERMAN: Well, I just want to say that I don't think we know that. I mean, I think it's very striking to hear Bill Barr say it for a variety of reasons, and he has been saying a number of very interesting things in relation to this investigation in recent days. I don't think we know whether they're close to an indictment. We certainly know that there are a lot of facts that they were related to an average person, that average person would probably have a different outcome than potentially a former president would, and we have seen that in other ways.


But look, I think that at this point, Wolf, while the former president's heart doesn't really seem to be in another run in a lot of ways and there are people around him who are not totally convinced he is running, I think he has painted himself into something of a corner. We never know a candidate is running until they actually announce. But I do think that he is well aware that while he was president, there were protections afforded him from indictment while he was under investigation from the Special Counsel, looking at possible conspiracy between his campaign and Russia. I think he is well aware that that would be available to him if he won again, and I think that that is a motivator, while I don't think we ever heard somebody looking at that for the presidency before as a shield in quite this way. I think that he is very aware that that is something that could be important to him.

BLITZER: I'm sure he is. Guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, we'll have much more on the top story, the FBI reportedly seizing material on a foreign nation's nuclear capabilities over at Mar-a-Lago. The former director of intelligence, James Clapper, he is standing by live. We will discuss.



BLITZER: More now on our top story. The Washington Post reporting that a top-secret document describing a foreign government's nuclear capabilities was found by FBI agents in their search of former President Donald Trump's Florida home in Palm Beach.

Joining us now to discuss, CNN National Security Analyst, the former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. Director Clapper, thanks so much for joining us.

How grave are the risks of the former president reportedly having this kind of document on a foreign nation's nuclear capabilities over at his resort down in Palm Beach?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, first, Wolf, I always have to say in this discussion that, to-date, we don't know the substantive content of any of these documents but we can certainly infer things in this case by simply the subject matter, the nuclear capabilities of a foreign country, which, for the countries that possess nuclear weapons, are the most closely guarded secrets because the reason a nation state decides to have nuclear weapons is for their very survival. And that's a decision we made a long time ago and other nations have, as well.

So, from an intelligence perspective, gleaning those secrets is difficult because they are so closely guarded. So, potentially, this is, depending on the content, is quite -- could be quite damaging in that it could reflect both what we know and what we don't know. And, of course, it spawns distrust by allies who share intelligence with us when they see a rather cavalier treatment of these sensitive documents. And on several -- as I say, on several levels, this is, to me, is quite concerning.

BLITZER: Because, as you know, there are so many countries out there that could be -- that this could be, for example, nations that already have nuclear weapons or possibly that are suspected of developing such weapons, friendly countries, some adversaries. Do you have any hunch, General Clapper, of which country's nuclear secrets the former president could have been interested in?

CLAPPER: Well, you know, I don't know. I mean, the likely suspects, most likely, would be Russia and China. But there is a concern that I have as well, that it could be intelligent allies, the French or the Brits or Israel. I kind of hope it isn't because that introduces complications of a different sort much along what happened to us after the Snowden revelations in 2013. It can be quite stressful, I'll put it that way, in terms of relationships that we have with a friend and ally.

So, I don't -- I can't hazard a guess. I mean, that gets to what on earth is a motivation for having these documents and pre-warning (ph) them and storing them somehow, some way at a country club.

BLITZER: You heard the former CIA director, a man you know, John Brennan, say that even he didn't have access to these types of documents. Did you run into that as director of National Intelligence, documents that were off-limits even to you?

CLAPPER: Well, most intelligence documents, I can't say all, but I say most intelligence documents would be accessible by me when I was DNI or the current DNI. Nuclear documents, though, are of special category and are treated a little separately.

So, John is right. It's quite possible that in this particular case, the DNI was maybe not personally aware of these documents. And I think this gets to the lengths that the government goes to to try to segment and compartment top secret information to limit its exposure to those who have a need to know, as John pointed out, and he's quite right.

BLITZER: The former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, thanks, as usual, for joining us. We really appreciate it.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, the Obamas return to the White House today for a truly historic moment, the unveiling of their official portraits.



BLITZER: Over at the White House today, an event steeped in history that took many Americans back to a different era in U.S. politics, the Obamas returning for the unveiling of their official portraits.

CNN Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly reports.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Barack and Michelle, welcome home.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, a hallowed White House tradition renewed.

BIDEN: Portraits, they're going to hang on the walls of this sacred place, the people's house forever.

MATTINGLY: The official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama unveiled bringing with them the customary nostalgia and humor.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you so much for your hospitality. Thanks for letting us invite a few friends to the White House. We will try not to tear up the place.

BIDEN: The president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

MATTINGLY: Obama's former vice president now leading the country and serving as host to an event filled with former Obama staffers.


OBAMA: I am a little disappointed that I haven't heard of anyone naming a kid Barack yet, or Michelle, but there is still time.

MATTINGLY: The former president's portrait painted by Robert McCurdy.

B. OBAMA: What I love about Robert's work is that he paints people exactly the way they are, for better or worse. He captures every wrinkle on your face, every crease in your shirt. You'll note that he refused to hide any of my gray hairs, refused my request to make my ears smaller.

MATTINGLY: For former first ladies, Sharon Sprung.

B. OBAMA: I want to thank Sharon Sprung for capturing everything I love about Michelle, her grace, her intelligence and the fact that she's fine.

MATTINGLY: Each striking as they are distinctive, capturing the nation's first black president and first lady.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER U.S. FIRST LADY: For me, this day is not just about what has happened, it's also about what could happen. Because a girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolly Madison.

MATTINGLY: For Biden and Obama, two men intertwined for history with a deeply personal if complex relationship.

B. OBAMA: Someone once said that if you're looking for a friend in Washington, get a dog. Our family was lucky enough to have two wonderful dogs, but I was even luckier to have a chance to spend eight years working day and night with a man who became a true partner and a true friend.

MATTINGLY: Heightened by the realities of an office few can understand.

B. OBAMA: I've always described the presidency as a relay race. You take the baton from someone, you run your leg as hard and as well as you can, and then you hand it off to someone else. Each of us tasked with trying to bring the country we love closer to its highest aspirations.

MATTINGLY: Partaking in a tradition that for decades transcended partisan divides.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I am also pleased, Mr. President, that when you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you will now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, what would George do?

MATTINGLY: The four years in between the 44th and 46th presidents not mentioned, at least not explicitly.

M. OBAMA: The people, they make their voices heard with their vote. We hold an inauguration to ensure a peaceful transition of power. And once our time is up, we move on.

MATTINGLY: Instead, an east room reunion.

M. OBAMA: What we are looking at today, a portrait of a biracial kid with an unusual name and the daughter of a water pump operator and a stay-at-home mom.

MATTINGLY: A tradition and its meaning revived.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Wolf, at least one more tradition was revived, although somewhat briefly, the president and vice president during President Obama's eight years in office had lunch nearly every single week. They also had a private lunch today. The first ladies attended, as well, as well as Michelle Obama's mom.

As for those portraits, Wolf, w they are already hanging in the White House.

BLITZER: Very nice, indeed, very historic. Phil Mattingly, thank you very, very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, CNN Political Commentator, the former Obama adviser, David Axelrod, he was over at the unveiling ceremony at the White House earlier today. Also with us, CNN Senior Political Analyst Nia-Malika Henderson.

David, what was it like in the room as the ceremony was going on?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was extraordinary, Wolf, much more than I expected when I went. But, first of all, there was a huge turnout of former staffers and cabinet members, but there was this sense that time had melted away and the environment of the room was joyful, it was hopeful, things that you don't normally hear in Washington these days. And so it was really something.

And then I think when the first lady spoke about her own journey and what it meant to the country, I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. I make one other point, the relationship between Barack Obama and Joe Biden, a lot has been written about a lot of speculation about it. I think what you saw today was the real article President Biden could not have been more gracious in his remarks about what the experience of working with President Obama meant. And President Obama, you saw, returned that in kind.

And these two men are friends and their friendship was forged in difficult times and I watched that friendship grow, and all of that was felt in the room today.


BLITZER: I felt it was historic, Nia, and I'm sure you did, as well. But just how historic and groundbreaking was this event over at the White House today and the official hanging of these portraits?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, listen, African-Americans around the country have their own sort of personal portrait galleries of the Obamas in their houses, right? And so today, we saw the unveiling of these amazing and evocative portraits that will hang on the walls of the White House. A building that was built by slaves will now feature Michelle Obama, who was the great, great granddaughter of a slave. I imagine so Americans, when they get a chance to see these portraits in the White House, will linger looking at those portraits and really think about not only the artistry but the symbolism, the journey that this pair represent for this country coming from a country from where a lot of presidents who occupied that role didn't think of African- Americans holding such office, only thought of African-Americans as slaves, themselves held slaves. So, to now feature two African- Americans on the wall of this sacred house, as President Biden talked about, I think, is so meaningful for so many millions of Americans. It is obviously an achievement for them individually but it is also an achievement for the country as it speaks to the progress.

BLITZER: It certainly is, and it was so moving.

David, we all heard Michelle Obama, and I want to quote her what she said about the importance of a peaceful transfer of power when it comes to presidential elections. She said, once our time is up, we move on, and all that remains in this hallowed place are our good efforts and these portraits. What should we take from the fact that she spoke about this peaceful transfer of power as opposed to her husband?

AXELROD: Well, she often is the blunter of the two, and this was certainly true today. Nobody lost the meaning of that.

I remember, Wolf, when we came to the White House and the graciousness with which George W. Bush and his administration received us, and it wasn't because we had been particularly kind to them in the campaign, it was because they saw themselves as trustees of the democracy and that this was an important role. And I think she was trying to reaffirm that point and, yes, it was an obvious commentary on recent history.

I just want to say one other thing, Nia, on your point. I remember the first meeting I ever had in the Oval Office with President Obama, and he was sitting in the chair near the fireplace where presidents sit. And over his shoulder was the portrait of George Washington. And I thought here is the march of progress in our country that a guy named Barack Hussein Obama was sitting in that Oval Office and over his shoulder was the first president, George Washington, who owned slaves.

HENDERSON: No, I think that's exactly right. And you heard Michelle Obama, who sort of reminded us today that she, in some ways, is the better orator out of the group between her and Obama, really talked to young people and said, listen, America is still a place where everyone belongs. I covered her for her eight years. She would often go one-on- one with young folks and talked to them and say, listen, her story, this girl from the south side who ended up in the White House was no different than their own story and that they, too, could achieve great things. And I think so many millions of Americans, not just African- Americans, but particularly young Americans can look at this story and really find some hope in this --

BLITZER: And I think Nia is absolutely right, not just African- Americans, but all Americans are going to be inspired by what we saw. AXELROD: Yes. Well, Wolf, you and I are both children of immigrants, and that is the story of America, widening its gates and embracing people who come here to live out their dreams and people who are born here and have been denied their dreams. And, yes, she authentically feels that. Her father, she pointed out, worked in the waterworks of the city Chicago. He had M.S. (ph), he went to work despite all of that that and he lived out his dream and she has taken it another place.

BLITZER: Yes, it is so moving, indeed, to hear all that and to see it. It was a powerful moment. If people didn't catch it, they should go back, find it and watch it, really important. Guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, there's breaking news right now. Police in Canada say a suspect in this weekend's deadly stabbing spree is now in custody. We have details on the arrest. We'll share those details with you right after the break.



BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, the suspect on the run in that mass stabbing in Canada has just been taken into custody by police.

CNN Security Correspondent Josh Campbell is working the story for us. What's the latest, Josh?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, this was a development that police and residents of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan had been hoping would come quickly and now the breaking news we are hearing from police that the manhunt for a second suspect in that brutal stabbing spree over the weekend is now over.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announcing just moments ago that suspect Myles Sanderson was located and taken into custody near Rosthern, Saskatchewan, this afternoon. Police canceling a public alert that has gripped so many Canadian residents after this mass stabbing Sunday that left at least ten people dead and 18 injured across multiple crime scenes in Central Canada.

Police, Wolf, were originally searching for Myles Sanderson and his brother Damien, but authorities announcing yesterday that Damien Sanderson was found dead near a home on the James Smith Cree Nation Reserve.


Police said that they did not believe that his injuries were self- inflicted.

Of course, as this manhunt was under way, Wolf, residents in a nearly 250,000 square kilometer area were subject to frequent shelter in place orders. Obviously a tragedy there that continues to be investigated and we don't yet know much about the motive or the circumstances of today's arrest. But, of course, authorities are breathing a sigh of relief this man hunt is now over, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Okay, Josh Campbell, thank you very, very much.

Meanwhile, the FBI's search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a- Lago estate and the fallout have certainly put a spotlight on his history of mishandling classified information.

CNN's Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us. Brian, what are you finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, former security officials in the Trump administration are telling us Donald Trump was flat-out reckless with sensitive information. One former CIA officer told us he considered human intelligence sources rats, snitches. Trump's overall disregard for safeguarding secrets got to incredibly dangerous levels.


TODD (voice over): If Donald Trump is in hot water over potentially mishandling sensitive, classified information, it's not the first time.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think he was very disdainful of the whole classification system. I mean, while we're on the subject, he was pretty disdainful of the intelligence community.

TODD: In 2017, his first year as president, Trump was roundly criticized for telling Russia's foreign minister and its ambassador to Washington right in the Oval Office about intelligence the U.S. got from another country about ISIS plots. Trump defended his comments, but in doing so, he gave away even more information.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name, Israel.

TODD: CNN later reported that that Oval Office gaffe in 2017 with the Russians was what led U.S. intelligence to extract one of its highest level covert sources inside the Russian government that same year out of concern for the person's safety. CNN sources said that spy had access to Vladimir Putin and could even provide images of documents on Putin's desk.

DOUGLAS LONDON, RETIRED SENIOR CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER: Danger isn't just a physical danger to the asset and loss of information it's also going to cause your adversary to look at everything your agent had access to.

TODD: Also, in 2017, at Mar-a-Lago, Trump and then-Japanese Leader Shinzo Abe were consulting on a sensitive national security issue. Word came of a North Korean missile launch. Guests at Mar-a-Lago were close enough to take photos like these. In view of the guests on the patio, documents were illuminated by the light of a cell phone.

AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: The fact that he had these documents lying around and he shares it with a foreign national who happens to be a prime minister, and who knows who else, is incredibly serious and it shows a general lack of understanding of how our national security system works.

TODD: In a 2017 phone call with the president of the Philippines, Trump revealed that the U.S. had positioned submarines near North Korean. That information had previously been so closely held that even some top aides inside the White House were caught by a surprise. And in 2019, Trump bragged to Journalist Bob Woodward about building an ultra secret nuclear weapon system.

TRUMP: But I have built a nuclear -- a weapon. I have built a weapons system that nobody has ever had in this country before.

LONDON: He was most interested in intelligence that spoke to him personally, that advanced his personal agenda or said something about him, which obviously he wanted to use for his own personal and political gains.


TODD (on camera): Donald Trump has denied mishandling classified information, claiming he had declassified many of the documents found at Mar-a-Lago but without providing proof of any declassification. Wolf?

BLITZER: Good report, Brian Todd, you have very, very much.

Coming up, CNN goes inside the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, what can the city learn from the emergency still haunting Flint, Michigan, now more than eight years later.



BLITZER: Now an in-depth look at America's water crisis. Jackson, Mississippi, is just the latest U.S. city to see its water system fail.

CNN's senior national correspondent Sara Sidner reports it's the country's poor and people of color who are especially vulnerable to losing their water and possibly even be poisoned by it.



SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Charles Wilson III is a single dad who wants nothing more than to protect his children. He helps in homework and takes part in play time.

WILSON: I love him to death.

SIDNER: He never thought the biggest danger to his little boy would be the tap water flowing through the pipes of his hometown, Jackson, Mississippi. Can you drink out of the water fountain in school?


SIDNER: A 6-year-old worrying about death over the government's failure to ensure safe drinking water.

WILSON: I mean, do you have a heart? What God do you serve? It's the insult. The capital city of the state of Mississippi, and this is what we go through.

SIDNER: You don't have clean drinking water.


SIDNER: Wilson uses bottled water for drinking and boils water every day multiple times a day for everything else. This time, it was a flood that took out the water treatment plant where Trumps had already been failing, leaving 150,000 plus residents without safe drinking water.

Do you remember when the water seemed to go bad here in Jackson?

WILSON: About 10 or 12 years living in that area.

SIDNER: More than a decade?

WILSON: Yeah. It's gotten worser.

SIDNER: But families in Jackson say the water crisis in the capital city of Mississippi started long before the emergency that got the country's attention, even the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency knows that.


It sounds like an emergency, like the National Guard should be in here, like the Army Corps of Engineers should be in here, that everyone should be trying to make sure that the kids of this community have drinking water. Where is everybody?

MICHAEL S. REGAN, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: You know, we're here now. We're working around the clock as quickly as possible to provide some stability to the system. That, again, is why this administration fought so hard for the bipartisan infrastructure law and that $50 billion historic investment.

SIDNER: The EPA administrator knows trust is going to be hard to come by, because even when Jackson said the water was safe over the years, it wasn't.

WILSON: My son has ADHD, emotional and developmental disorders, and he's not caught up with his class.

COREY STERN, ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY: Jackson had a number of violations from the Environmental Protection Agency over decades. SIDNER: So ten months ago, attorney Corey Stern sued on behalf of

hundreds of Jackson residents who he says are suffering the effects of lead in their tap water.

FLOYD BELL, FLINT RESIDENT: Your heart goes out to them because we've experienced that.

SIDNER: No one understands the suffering of the people in Jackson better, than these folks, residents of Flint, Michigan. In 2014, their city changed water sources to save money, but failed to treat or test it properly. The result, deadly bacterial contamination and lead poisoning of its residents.

AUDRA BELL, FLINT RESIDENT: The problem for our kids especially is they are developing, and they are growing. So you don't know the effects that the lead poisoning that they experience today is going to have on them in five years, 10 years, 20 years.

SIDNER: The Bell family says high lead levels in their 7-year-old grandson resulted in developmental issues. Adults aren't immune, either. Their neighbor testified before Congress about Flint's wanton negligence and lies.

LEE-ANNE WALTERS, FLINT RESIDENT: We started experiencing hair loss. We started experiencing rashes, and blood pressure issues. So we were being told everything is fine.

SIDNER: Eight years on, Flint is using a different water source and replaced many pipes. But she and her neighbors still cook with and drink bottled water, using upwards of ten cases a week.

Do you drink out of your tap water?

A. BELL: No, I never will drink the water again.

SIDNER: Flint, like Jackson, is mostly black, with a low tax base, which experts say plays a significant role in their water woes.

The children of Flint won a $626 million settlement over their poisoned water, but the people of Jackson are still waiting just for clean drinking water. Never mind justice.

What kind of justice can they get?

STERN: There is no justice for the people of Flint or the people of Mississippi when it comes to fixing what has happened to their children's brains.

WILSON: And I'm so happy that the spotlight is on what's going on in Jackson, because I'm not the only parent who has a child that has suffered because of this water.


SIDNER: The assistant professor at U.C. Irvine we spoke with who studied the safety of water across the United States. The safety of that tap water said 7 percent to 8 percent of the population is living with unsafe tap water. That's 20 million Americans with unsafe water. And we asked the EPA administrator if those numbers sounded right. He said yes, they sound about right and we must do something about it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sara Sidner reporting for us, Sara, thank you very, very much.

Up next, the CNN exclusive report on the Ukrainian counteroffensive that's going on right now against Russia. We have new information about Ukraine's push to retake a major city by year's end.



BLITZER: Now a CNN exclusive. Senior U.S. and Ukrainian officials are telling us that Ukrainian forces are making gains in the south with the ambitious goal of taking back most of the Russian occupied region of Kherson by the end of the year.

CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is working the story for us.

So, Jim, so what are you learning about this new Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're just nine days into this counteroffensive, but U.S. officials are seeing real progress here, particularly in the south. The target, to take back the city of Kherson, perhaps Russia's biggest prize in this invasion so far, by the end of the year.

The U.S. says that's doable. But not stopping there. They also want to encircle Russian forces to the west of the Dnipro River here, and go for this city, as well, Nova Kakhovka. That has a key water plant that supplies water to Crimea, also occupied by Russian forces.

Just nine days in, but real progress. And real success, hitting Russian supply lines in occupied territory.

Here's the other piece we're watching closely. That is that this offensive does not just stop in the south. There's been activity in the east here as well to defend these lines, and also as far north as Kharkiv. The intention there not just to challenge that territory, Wolf, but also to prevent Russia from taking forces from there, down to the south to help defend against what's the real push of this offensive around Kherson.

So a much wider battlefield deliberately by Ukrainian forces to try to stretch those Russian forces. As we reported last week, U.S. assessments are seeing those Russian forces deployed along the east and in the south, as undermanned, under-armed, and in fewer numbers than they expected initially, Wolf.

So, again, it's early days. The goals are ambitious of taking a city like Kherson by the end of the year. But the U.S. says it's doable if the progress continues.

BLITZER: We'll continue to monitor it together with you. Jim Sciutto, thanks as usual for your excellent reporting.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNSitRoom. THE SITUATION ROOM, by the way, is also available as a podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

Once again, thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.