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Transcript: Alex Wagner Tonight, 9/30/22

Guests: Caroline Kousky, Josh Fishwick


Rescues and recovery continue in the weak of Hurricane Ian. Trump attorneys fight over strategy, side Chris Kise who advocated "lowering the temperature".


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": That is "ALL IN" for the week.

ALEX WAGNER TONIGHT starts right now.

Good evening, Alex.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOSTT: I don`t know, Chris. I mean, corrupt judiciaries are a hallmark of autocracies. Not saying, just saying.

HAYES: Yeah. I mean, that`s really -- I mean, the Cannon thing that we open the show with tonight, it`s like --


HAYES: -- there`s different levels at which, oh, this decision you don`t like, or a decision that`s motivated by an ideological position you don`t agree with, which happens all the time.

But then there`s like in the tank feeling, which is just on a different level. And that`s a really worrying one.

WAGNER: There is nothing -- there is no reason you are doing this other than to curry favor at this specific person whose name ends in romp.

Have a great weekend, my friend.

HAYES: Hey, thanks. You, too.

WAGNER: And thanks to you for joining us at home.

The Department of Justice says tonight, this evening, filed a brief arguing that it cannot wait until December to look at all 11,000 documents it seized from Donald Trump. The department is arguing the delay is impeding its central investigation, and we are going to get to that story shortly. But we begin tonight with the destructive fury of Hurricane Ian.

The storm made its second landfall in the United States a little after 2:00 this afternoon, near Georgetown, South Carolina, arriving as a category one storm with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour. Those winds and churning ocean waves were strong enough to destroy at least four fishing piers off the South Carolina coast, including this one near north Myrtle Beach.

They also tossed an abandoned shrimp boat up on the sand. You can see it right there. That boat had reportedly been anchored 12 miles offshore.

Here is a look at rescue crews evacuating four people who are trapped in the second floor of a motel, near an amusement park in the coastal resort city of Myrtle Beach. Hundreds of thousands are without power in the Carolinas right now. Ian has now been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone. The National Hurricane Center is still warning of threats from dangerous storm surge, high winds, and flash flooding.

On the back end of the storm, in Florida, the winds and rain have moved on. But the destruction they caused his ongoing. In central Florida communities like Orlando are still covered in floodwater. While on Florida`s southwest coast, where Ian first made its landfall two days ago, the full picture of the devastation is still emerging.

You are looking right here at Sanibel, the barrier island completely cut off from the mainland from a partial collapse of its causeway. The coast guard released this video today of rescues they are conducting, or were conducting yesterday by air, including this man, who is found sitting in his boat, stranded in mangroves near the island.

Earlier today, NBC`s Lester Holt met residents of another devastated community that has taken the brunt of Ian`s wrath.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: We met people leaving Fort Myers Beach on foot. What little they have left is in those suitcases.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a war zone right now, the whole island.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The devastation is unbelievable.

HOLT: Then we met Barry Lawrence (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope I never experience it again.

HOLT: He was riding out the storm from the third floor condo on the beach when he says he started seeing friends homes swallowed up by the waves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went into the water and save three people, and I lost one friend. I couldn`t save her. She got washed away.


WAGNER: The confirmed U.S. death toll from the storm is currently at least 21, all of those deaths in Florida. Part of the reason this hurricane has been so destructive compared to previous storms is climate change. But another reason is simply that there was more in the way of the storm than any that have come before it -- more houses, and more people.

Lee County, which took a direct hit from Hurricane Ian, has been a boom town. This is the housing density in and around Lee County around 1970. Back then, the county was home to just 100,000 people. As of the latest census, more than 760,000 people live there. And there have even similar booms up and down the coast, all across South Florida. What this means is that when hurricanes like Ian make landfall, the question isn`t if they were hit the population center, the question is which one they will hit.

But even still, where Hurricane Ian hit was particularly bad. Last year, Lee County, the epicenter of the damage brought by the storm was the ninth fastest growing county in the United States.

Joining us now from Fort Myers Beach, Florida, the shoreline of Lee County, is Perry Rossum, correspondent for the CNBC`s "The News with Shep Smith".

Perry, thanks again for joining us this evening. I know you have spent a few days now in some of the hardest hit areas of the state.

Do we have a full picture, at this point, of how many people may still be missing or how many more deaths we may see in the coming days?

PERRY ROSSUM, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So, I feel like two days out right now, Alex, we are looking at one puzzle piece of a 500 piece puzzle. There is so much to comprehend, so much to take in. So much is widespread.

The thing you mentioned down here in Lee County, there are so many people, there are so many houses and then with those people come votes. We are seeing boats in trees, there`s a boat behind me at a gas station. I have no idea where the closest marina is. We`re down on San Carlos Island today where, there were these large vessels, probably 30, 40-foot boats, that were just in the middle of the road, some of them crashing into houses. You have this effect of mobile homes and houses going into each other. Then you have both going into each other making the destruction that much worse.

WAGNER: Yeah. So, it sounds like the boats and mobile homes became projectiles in the middle of this hurricane.

ROSSUM: Right. That`s what we`re hearing from people down here. There`s such concern over how quickly the water was rising as well that there was not much people could do it. Down on these roads on San Carlos where you work today, it is so difficult to navigate. These homes are so close together, there are so many people living down here, and with the power being off, there is such miscommunication about what`s going.

And we`re speaking with a man down here today who had no idea what was happening on Sanibel Island. We were breaking the news to him. He said we said to you hear what happened? We said the bridge is gone. He couldn`t believe it.

He thought they were still going over my boats. We said they can go over buy boats are going over by helicopter. He has never even fathomed if that was possible down here.

WAGNER: So, you`re talking about people, I mean, who really have been living in complete darkness in terms of understanding the scope of the devastation. Is there a feeling telecommunications are going to be back up sometime soon? Because that is, effectively, a lifeline in a moment like this.

ROSSUM: Right. So, Governor DeSantis was saying that some of the cell carriers, they`re letting the different cell phone companies roam off of one another. Cell phone service has been getting better over the last 24 hours. It`s getting better closer to the water, but it is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

Down on the islands, the barrier islands, there`s no cell`s cell service at all and no power. Even if people could power their phones, they wouldn`t get anything anyway. So, a lot of the messaging is being passed from person to person with this.

WAGNER: When you talk about San Carlos Island, the community, did you talk to people who didn`t evacuate? And did they regret their choice not to evacuate, now that they can understand the scope of the ferocity of this hurricane and what it is done to the state?

ROSSUM: We met a man named Leonard today, 77 years old, probably five foot five. Quiet guy, meek guy, lives in one of the trailer homes down here. He told us he wanted to stay because you thought the storm was going to pass over, no big deal.

But he knew this was the very big deal when the water started to rise. He tried to evacuate. He opened up the door to his trailer and saw how deep the water was, how quickly it was moving. He realized he just could not swim. At that time he saw something floating in the water and passed the trailer. It was a fiber glass staircase, probably from a boat, he tells us. So he grabbed onto this thing in the middle of this hurricane.

He told us that he was on this, on this little fiber glass stair case, for three and a half hours, with a hurricane on top of, him waiting for the water to recede until his feet could curl into the mud. This is what he told us.


ROSSUM: Leonard, what do you think about life after what you just went through?

LEONARD, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: It`s beautiful. But to me, you need to think a little more ahead of time. Don`t wait to see if it can. When you hear something, (INAUDIBLE) go away.


ROSSUM: So people are now facing this question who live down there. These people have no means. They can`t get a hotel. They can`t get somebody to watch their stuff.

So the options they have leave their home, leave their belongings, go somewhere safe, or stay where they are and watch their stuff. They are concerned, very concerned about looting and looting losing what they have. Many of them are deciding to stay, but with that, they are leaving safety behind, leaving food behind, water behind. Many of them really have nothing they are turning to.

WAGNER: I mean, there is the physical damage and then there`s the psychological damage that is no doubt going to be a huge part of the recovery here. Perry Russom, correspondent with CNBC`s "The News with Shepard Smith". Thanks so much for all your reporting, Perry. We certainly appreciate it.

Now that Hurricane Ian has left Florida and we`re starting to understand the extent of the damage left in its wake, one of the next big questions is, where it gets rebuilt and who pays for it?


The catastrophic damage left by Hurricane Ian is projected to be in the tens of billions of dollars. Yesterday, President Biden declared nine of the counties affected disaster areas, which qualifies them for some federal aid, but not very much and not very quickly. The bulk of this recovery will rely on insurance. Just for the property that was insured, insurers are bracing for a hit of between $28 billion and $47 billion.

But that`s just for the insured property. One of the devastating realities we are now realizing is that so much of where this storm hit was uninsured. In the counties whose residents were told to evacuate, just 18 percent of homes had coverage through the national flood insurance program.

Even in areas designated by FEMA as in the floodplains, less than half of the homes had flood insurance. When the floods from rain and storm surge went well past FEMA`s projected floodplains to areas where less than 10 percent of homes are insured for floods. Those FEMA floodplain projections are supposed to warn people if they`re in an area that has a 1 percent chance of flooding every year. They call the 100-year flood zones. For every hundred years, you should expect one flood.

And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pointed out yesterday, this storm hit an area that would be more like a 500-year flood zone. And that`s the issue. These 100 year storms, these 500 year storms, they`re starting to happen all the time.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, tracks disasters like this, what they call billion dollar disaster events. And things are not looking good.

This chart is adjusted for inflation, and you can see, even with that, that all through the 80s and 90s, yes, you had some big disasters. The overall cost for rebuilding stay pretty steady. But now we have catastrophic climate events all the time.

Last year, NOAA counted $20 billion weather and climate disasters in the U.S. Those altogether cost $152 billion. In the last five years, these disasters have crossed the U.S. $788 billion.

Now compare that with the amount we are spending on the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate bill in U.S. history. That totals $369 billion, is spread out over 10 years. One of those things is a lot bigger than the other. Is 100-year or a 500-year disasters are becoming a regular occurrence and our insurance system is clearly failing to provide support to the people who need it?

And even our biggest, best efforts to battle climate change are basically a drop in the bucket compared to the scope of these disasters.

So how do we fix this? How do we help people right now and make a system that can last to this new climate crisis?

Joining us now is Caroline Kousky, associate vice president for economics and policy at the Environmental Defense Fund and author of understanding disaster insurance, tools for a more resilient future, which comes out very presciently next month.

Caroline, thank you so much for being with us tonight.


WAGNER: Let me just ask, to begin with, what assistance should people expect from the federal government if they don`t have insurance in a moment like this down in Florida?

KOUSKY: Yeah, it`s an important question. There will be some assistance forthcoming as you noted. President Biden has issued a disaster declaration which unlocks some assistance from FEMA to meet some immediate needs, but unfortunately, those grants are limited. Their captain, most people can probably expect several thousand or $5, 000, but not nearly enough to match the property destruction, the devastation that we have been witnessing. It`s important for people to realize that those grants are going to make them financially go after a disaster like this.

WAGNER: Yeah. When you say $5,000 or $7,000, and you juxtapose that figure against those images we just showed everyone, you know, houses completely leveled, I mean, effectively, just destruction everywhere in some parts of these counties, how can people better know the risk they are taking on when they go to a place like Lee County? I mean, what kind of information is there for people as they built homes, or rent, or buy homes, in a place that is effectively at the forefront of climate disaster?

KOUSKY: Unfortunately, we are not doing the best job in this country with communicating to people about flood risks ahead of time. So you noted those FEMA 100-year flood zones, when someone moves into one of those flood zones and they take out a mortgage, their lender will talk to them about flood risk, because they will be required to purchase flood insurance. But for everyone else, they might not get any information at all.

Some states have basic disclosure when property is sold, but, as you were noting, flood risk extends far beyond most FEMA zones, and part of it is because there are more extreme events.


Part of it is because those maps are outdated and need to be refreshed.

And part of it is that those maps typically do not include flooding from intense precipitation, which is getting worse in a lot of parts of the country, with climate change, and is also responsible for a lot of the flooding we are seeing in Florida as Ian moved inland and just dropping enormous amounts of rain, which can lead to this costly flooding fire from the coast. And I also note that we`re not good at talking about how it`s all changing with climate change, as you`re talking about.

WAGNER: Yeah, it feels like the maps, the information that we have is outdated, right? We`re living in a new climate reality and the tools we used to navigate that seem sorely anachronistic. I guess I wonder if you think this moment in Hurricane Ian marks an inflection point, because on one hand, part of our nature as Americans is to rebuild her to move forward.

And then at the same time, when you look at the growth of places like Lee County in the reality of climate change, it feels like those things can`t coexist. I wonder if it is going to be a hard conversation about whether we can rebuild and whether we should rebuild, given the economic costs in the literal physical danger that people may be putting themselves in.

KOUSKY: Absolutely. Those are really difficult conversations, and yet absolutely essential to be having right now.

We are in a period now of ever increasing risk. This was not a first severe storm to hit our country and it`s not going to be the last. And it`s very much time to take a step back and think carefully about how we can build safer, keep people out of harm`s way, build more resiliently. So, these are things like stronger building codes, maybe moving away from some of the highest risk areas and undertaking community wide measures, whether that`s investments and flood protection or nature-based solutions to help protect us.

But we`re going to have to start thinking differently about where we build and where we live if we want to not face this sort of ever increasing cost, and the human suffering that comes with it.

WAGNER: Yes, it`s not just an economic question, it`s a moral and ethical question. Let me just close by asking you if someone wanted to take the federal aid and move somewhere else and say, I`m done with this area, I don`t want to put myself in the bull`s-eye of another climate disaster, could they do that?

KOUSKY: That`s a tricky question. And often, disasters, we might hope could be an opportunity to think differently and if people want to move somewhere safer or build better. But unfortunately, there`s a lot of challenges in the system for doing that.

Some of the federal assistance dollars are only used to build in place in the same way so there`s some policy changes we need there. Sometimes they`re simply not enough money to help someone pay off a mortgage and fully relocate somewhere else that could be costly. Sometimes the assistance we do have for these types of relocations just takes way too long to get to people and face with the sort of devastation people can`t wait around years wondering whether they will have the financial healthy need to move somewhere safer.

WAGNER: There are so few good answers in all of this. And in the meantime, people`s lives have been shattered and that sort of putting those pieces together as job number one.

Caroline Kousky, associate vice president for economics and policy at the Environmental Defense Fund, thank you for your time tonight.

KOUSKY: Thanks so much, Alex.

WAGNER: We have much more to come tonight. Up next, a new action from the Justice Department. They say they need access to all documents seized from Mar-a-Lago because there are some very important clues in those papers. The DOJ is making its appeal amid signs of disarray amongst Trump`s legal team.

And later, I went down to Texas to talk to the man who maybe the Democrats last best hope to defeat that Texas right-wing.



WAGNER: We have just gotten a brand-new filing from the Justice Department tonight just within the last couple of hours in the Mar-a-Lago documents scandal. The DOJ is once again going to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, this same court that allowed the department to access the 100 or so documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

The Justice Department is now asking for expedited access to the thousands of other documents that Trump`s world away. Some 11,000 of them. In tonight`s filing, the DOJ says that because they are still unable to look at these thousands of other government documents, the DOJ`s broader investigation is compromised.

Here`s what they say specifically about why the department needs access impromptu to those documents. Those records, quote, may shed light on for example how the materials bearing classification markings were transferred to Trump`s residence, how they were stored and who may have access them.

And while we know that having a bunch of classified documents at your beach club may break certain laws, the Justice Department notes tonight that even the departments not marked as not classified may constitute evidence of potential crimes, mainly obstruction and concealment of government records.

Now, the reason they have to go to the appeals court for this is, of course, because of Trump appointed federal judge, Aileen Cannon, who has repeatedly ruled in Trump`s favor as he has sought to block the government from getting access to its own documents that it ceased from Trump`s Florida home.

The way the DOJ got access to the approximately 100 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago was by getting the 11th circuit to overrule Judge Cannon on that one point.


But it wasn`t clear until tonight that the justice department was going to continue fighting in earnest for the unclassified documents as well. But, clearly, they are here tonight asking the appeals court tonight to expedite this whole thing so that it can be adjudicated in the next few weeks.

Joining us now is John Fishwick, who served as the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia during the Obama administration.

John, thanks as always for joining me tonight.

JOHN FISHWICK, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Alex, thanks for having me on your show.

WAGNER: So, let`s talk about this filing here. The fact that the DOJ thinks the records may shed light on how the materials bearing classification marks were transferred to Mar-a-Lago, how they were stored, and who may have access them. How do you interpret that? What should we glean from that in terms of the clues the DOJ is looking for in this remaining tranche of documents?

FISHWICK: Well, Alex, I think these are important clues. You know, last Wednesday, the 11th Circuit gave access to the FBI to these hundreds of classified documents, which is critical in the investigation. Why did Trump have, then why were they haphazardly kept, and why we`re miss representations made about returning them?

But now, it looks like the FBI has gone through those documents and they are meticulously figuring out how the document got there, where there were stored, who had access to them, the FBI is probably looking at the videotapes. As part of that investigation, as part of that meticulous investigation, they want to make sure the right. They want to make sure that they get this done the right way.

They want to -- see how they will handle together. And they are meticulously asking the cities under documents now so they can move forward on this expeditiously as possible. I take from this that they are moving swiftly and doing everything they can to run down all of these classified documents, and by way of doing that, they want to look at the unclassified documents as well because they will provide clues to them, and ultimately close to a jury if criminal charges are brought.

WAGNER: Do you think that, also, I mean, just wanting to get their hands on the 11,000 documents may fold into a potential investigation for obstruction? It seems kind of like, in the words of one of our legal analysts, the sleeper kind of story here is that even if he set aside the classification bit, the obstruction charge could stick with the 11,000 documents.

FISHWICK: The instruction could stick on any of the documents. And apparently, folks with in Trump`s orbit have potentially made misrepresentations that, those and it`s those representations come from him that he tells his lawyers are other folks in his orbit certain things about the documents that were true, those witnesses say that, and while the video tapes show a clues about that, as well as looking at the other documents. The other documents may provide clues.

And so, they`re looking at it from all angles but I take it from this, I know Judge Cannon is some times going to be impediment, there where if that, and they`re trying to move this expeditiously as possible to get to the bottom of this.

WAGNER: Let`s talk about that timeline in of moving as expeditiously as possible. The DOJ effectively wants to submit its brief before the midterm elections on October 14th. You think there`s a likelihood that that will happen?

FISHWICK: Well. I would imagine the court of appeals had passed the baby on this that they`re looking for an expedited appeal schedule. They`ll probably give them an expedited -- I don`t think the midterms and to this that much. I think they can do anything within 60 days, my advice to the DOJ`s move forward with as much transparency as possible. These briefs are great, they give the American public of U.S. to what they are doing, what they are looking at. I think the public is starting to understand the case.

So I wouldn`t worry about the midterms. I would move forward with full steam ahead with as much transparency as possible.

WAGNER: So, we`re talking about the DOJ`s case and I want to turn to Trump`s case and specifically Trump`s legal team because we have some reporting from the Washington Post today that suggests those sort of most ostensibly levelheaded counsel on Trump`s team, Chris Kise, former Florida solicitor general, has been sidelined and all of this. And the sort of levelheaded forces in the room are being marginalized.

I`m saying that because this current filing with the 11th Circuit Court that we`re talking about right now mentions Chris Kise as a liaison from Trump`s team. Which suggests that he hasn`t been as marginalized? I wonder, how do you read the tea leaves on all of this in terms of cases role, and more broadly, history outages of taking more conciliatory approach is to the DOJ. Is that going the way of the dodo bird?

FISHWICK: Well, I think, Alex, for any team, you have to be well organized and you have to be on the same page. And particularly, a tropical trial work, you have to be organized and on the same page.

Look at the evidence, I would say that they have not been on the same page, and have not been a cohesive team.


If you recall, they came, and guns place, we want to attack the search warrant, the DOJ can`t be trusted. These documents may have been declassified. Evidence may have been planted.

And at every turn since then, when they`ve been asked to kind of put up or shut on that, they have delayed the investigation. They have not been willing to answer the question. So whether the strategy was, we want to try to get along, we don`t want to be, as aggressive regardless, the strategy has not been consistent. The challenge there when the team, any team, but certainly a legal team, is not consistent and unified, while they are disorganized and certain of what their strategies used to be.

The DOJ has specifically the agents work on this case when they get freedom from Judge Cannon`s rulings, they are aggressively and fairly and objectively looking at these documents and running them to determine if classified documents were promptly mishandled and misrepresentations made about them.

WAGNER: John Fishwick, who served as a former U.S. attorney for of the Western District of Virginia, thanks as always for your time, John.

FISHWICK: Thanks so much.

WAGNER: Still ahead this Friday night. Beto O`Rourke faces off against Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott in the first and only debate in the Texas gubernatorial race. And I sat down with Beto O`Rourke himself and a campaign event in Texas just ahead of the debate. That is coming up next.




BETO O`ROURKE (D), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: He signed the most strict election ban in America. No exception for rape, no exception for incest. It begins at conception, and it`s taking place in a state is at the epicenter of the maternal mortality crisis, thanks to Greg Abbott. Three times as deadly for Black women. I will fight to make sure that every woman makes her decisions about her own body, her own future, and her own health care. That`s when most of us Republicans and Democrats in the state believe.


WAGNER: Tonight, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott and Democratic candidate Beto O`Rourke are facing off in the first and only debate ahead of the November elections. The race between Abbott and O`Rourke is one of the high stakes gubernatorial battles this election season. Texas is the second largest state in the country and has in a lot of ways become lab for right-wing experimentation.

Under Governor Abbott, who had his sights set on the 2024 presidential bid, the state has crackdown on voting right, and pass one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, banned books in classrooms, and is now investigating the parents of trans gendered youth.

At the same time, the governor has come under fire for his handling of the massive power grid failure across Texas during the winter storm, and for his refusal to do anything on gun safety after the horrific shooting in Uvalde. School shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers. Just before tonight`s debate, 35 family members of Uvalde shooting victims endorsed Beto O`Rourke in the race for governor.

Earlier this, week ice travel to the state capital and sat down with Beto O`Rourke in an organizing rally where he talked about what he believes his path to victory, this November.


O`ROURKE: Hey, Austin, how are we doing? Thank you.


WAGNER: How are you feeling but the race right now?

O`ROURKE: I feel really good. We have more than 92,000 volunteers now. And we are going to try to knock on over 5 million doors over the course of these next 45 days. It`s the largest organizing effort in America right now, probably one of the largest in U.S. history. And it`s happening in Texas because not the candidate, not the political party, but this moment, total abortion ban.

Nearly 18 weeks since those 19 kids and two teachers were taken from us and Uvalde. The governor hasn`t done a thing. The Brit has collapsed, and still hasn`t fixed. And you have the single greatest attack on voting rights and democracy right here in Texas. But these folks, they are not taking it. They are standing up to be counted.

We`re going to fight back and together, we`re going to win.

WAGNER: Why are the polls even as close as the? I mean, are there a lot of people who say, Greg Abbott is going to win this. How can that possibly be true after you list a litany of things that should have Texas voters from both parties furious, irate, ready to kick Abbott out of office. What`s happening in Texas that keeps people in supporting Greg Abbott?

O`ROURKE: In terms of this polling, you know, I think Texas`s most accurately described, not as a red state, but as a non-voting state. Seven million eligible voters didn`t cast a ballot in 2020. It is so suppressed and intimidated. These organizers and volunteers, they`re the answer to that. They are going to knock on the doors of those who are targeted for suppression and make them a margin of victory on election night. That`s how we overcome the status quo, and the attack on democracy that we see here in Texas.

WAGNER: Why do you think Abbott`s sanctioning a total ban on abortion? I mean, he`s a political animal, and it doesn`t take a rocket scientist to look at how badly that issue is playing up for Republicans across the country. Why did he do? It why does he support? That`s why is a Republican Party where it is in teas where the polling is really clear about what Texans want and its choice?

O`ROURKE: You know, who knows about his motives. My best guess is he began last year, the legislative session, where he signed an abortion bill into law, assuming that not only would he win this reelection, but that he had a chance to get the pole position in the Republican presidential primary for 2024 against Ron DeSantis.


So, for him, probably, in his calculation, there was no cost to running to the right in the most extreme edge of just about everyone else.

WAGNER: Do you feel like there is an influx of voters who have been voted before because of what the Supreme Court, and because of what is now the status of reproductive choice in the state of Texas?

O`ROURKE: The reason that more than 300 people came out tonight on this Saturday in Austin to sign up to do really hard work tomorrow, the reason why we will be in a rural community like Hunt County, and 800 people will come out, in the middle of the day together, the reason we are seeing record energy across Texas is definitely not because of me or my party, it has to do not only what the Dobbs decision, but Greg Abbott signing the most extreme abortion ban in the United States of America, into law, right here.

And not only is it a band that begins at conception without exception for rape or incest, but it`s happening in a state that leaves the country in a maternal mortality crisis.

WAGNER: You have been name-checking Governor Abbott, your opponent, in a way that you haven`t name checked Senator Cruz in 2018.

O`ROURKE: Yeah, that`s right.

WAGNER: Explain that strategy to me. Explain that change.

O`ROURKE: You know, in 2018, I wrongly assumed everyone had formed their opinion on Ted Cruz. There was very little I could add -- you love them or you hated them. What I didn`t realize I would think about is there are a lot of people working seven dollar and 25 cent an hour jobs in Texas, which is still the minimum wage. Raising their kids, taking care of their folks just living a life who are not plugged in and didn`t realize or understand the danger of Ted Cruz representing them in the U.S. senate. I am not making that mistake with Abbott.

I mean, the lights went out in Texas because of Greg Abbott. Our utility bills have gone out because of Greg Abbott. Highest property tax increase be have probably seen in the state, that is Greg Abbott.

The single greatest driver of inflation in Texas, Greg Abbott. Gun violence in our schools, Greg Abbott.

So you name a problem, this guy has been in office for eight years, he owns. And I will make sure that every Texas voter, Democrat, independent, Republican alike know that. And understand that they have a choice and an alternative, and better path forward in November.

WAGNER: Immigration. The national news is talking about what Governor DeSantis, Governor Abbott have been doing together in tandem shipping migrants, asylum seekers, two points north, in many cases not being truthful with them about where they are going and what awaits them. Is that galvanizing Texas voters? Busing is something that is happening here in the state. This is a different kind of busing. Does it strike the ire of Texas voters the same way that it does other voters in the rest of the country?

O`ROURKE: All of us to a person in the state are so deeply frustrated out how broken our immigration system is. And the president and, Congress will have the power to do something, they must get that done because for as long as they don`t, this gets used as political theater for demagogues like Greg Abbott. Who are willing to bust people, who are willing to build a mile and a half a border wall who are willing to speak in the language of invitation of defending ourselves, of taking matters into her own hands -- all things that the governor has said.

WAGNER: Do you think Biden is leading adequately on immigration?

O`ROURKE: No, there`s a lot that he`s doing well, and a lot that I`m very grateful for. But when we have the power as he does now, as Democratic and Republican presidents alike have had, and don`t use it to fix something that is so badly broken, where we are missing the opportunity to satisfy the demands of our economy here, and Texas, and also to live up to our values as Americans, when we think about 50 to migrants dying in the back of an 18-wheeler, being swept away to drown in the Rio Grande River or the border patrol agents on who`s specks we place this broken immigration system is somehow expect them alone to carry this, or to fix this, then it`s on all of them.

In fact, Ronald Reagan was the last United States president to work on, and be able to reform, our immigration system. It`s literally been that long. And sometimes, the cynic in me thinks that both parties love to have this as an unsolved issues so that it`s something that they can campaign on.

WAGNER: Your message these days is equal parts hope and fear. Americans look around and they see the walls are closing in. Freedoms that I had taken for granted for the last 50 years, or since our parents have were young, seem to be encroached upon or on the line, whether it`s book bans, whether it`s gay marriage, whether it`s women`s reproductive choice, whether it`s voting rights, whether it`s the sanctity of our democracy.

How do you convince people that things can change when one party seems so intrinsically dug into the darkness, honestly, to a very, very dark dystopian path for the country, and that`s the pretty have to work with to get anything done?


O`ROURKE: Yeah. I`m as optimistic as I`ve ever been. And I think it has a lot to do with traveling this state constantly, and seeing so many good people. Not limited to Democrats. I`ve met a lot of good Republicans, a lot of good independents, a lot of people who are enough voted before, but want to do the right thing, right now, at this defining moment of truth.

They are not going to allow this total abortion ban to define us or to the stuns at the immigration border to define us, or the cruelty, the corruption, the chaos that we see in Texas right now to define.

They know that may define Greg Abbott and those currently in power, but they know that we, the people in Texas, are much bigger and bigger than all that. And so, the way in which people are showing up and standing to be counted, to do the work of knocking understand meeting voters where they are gives me all the faith in the world that we are going to overcome this. And we`re going to win this thing on November 8th.


WAGNER: We`re going to win this thing on November 8th. Early voting in Texas begins on October 24th.

Up next, Vladimir Putin makes his legal annexation of parts of Ukraine official with an over the top celebration while saving a few choice words for the U.S. and the West.

And later, a historic day at the Supreme Court as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was formally sworn in.

Stay with us.



WAGNER: Earlier today, Russian president Vladimir Putin walk through massive and opulent gold doors inside the Kremlin palace, to mark one of the most brazen acts of war that he started in Ukraine. He did so, of course, illegally and under the guise of sham referendums, annexing four regions of Ukraine which amount to roughly 15 percent of the country. And Putin made sure to make a spectacle of this blatantly illegal land grab, calling it the will of, quote, millions of people.

And what is the biggest annexation since World War II, Putin gave an antagonistic, 37-minute long speech marking the occasion. He referred to so-called western elites as the enemy and criticize the United States for, quote, Satanism.

Putin described the West while simultaneously celebrated the annexation saying, quote, not only do western leads deny national sovereignty and international law, their hegemony has pronounced character of totalitarianism, despotism, and apartheid. To show a united front among the Russian people, the Kremlin held a massive patriotic rally of sorts in Moscow`s Red Square.

Now, this sort of show of national unity is important to Putin because nearly 200,000 Russians have fled the country to avoid his partial draft. In an effort to distract from that, Putin stood under a giant banner that read, not ironically, together forever. The crowd waved Russian flags and saying the country`s national anthem. The over the top pet proudly here, if you, will to celebrate the annexation of an annexation that is not his is the latest sign of Putin`s desperation, seven months into a war that he`s showing no signs of winning.

Contrast the celebration in Moscow with appears to be an aggressive Ukrainian counter offensive in the region of Donetsk, one that`s resulted and Ukrainian troops capturing two villages very close to a key Russian have in the village and closing in on Russian troops. As a result of Putin`s overt acts, today Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy officially submitted an accelerated application for Ukraine to join NATO.

Back in the U.S., the Biden administration today announced new sanctions targeting top Russian officials and lawmakers, and the country`s defense and technology and industries. President Biden denounced the annexation and said the U.S. and its allies will not be intimidated by Putin, and that Putin`s actions show that he is, quote, struggling.

Also today, Congress approved to stop a build to avert a government shutdown. That bill includes an additional $12.3 billion in aid to Ukraine, which includes a $35 million to nuclear safety to avoid nuclear disaster in the country. Nuclear disaster is a real and growing concern here with Putin today threatening to defend the newly annexed territories with, quote, all the forces and means at our disposal.

We will be right back.



JUSTICE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT: I have a seat at the table now, and I`m ready to work.


WAGNER: That was Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson today just hours after her investiture ceremony where she was formally inducted to the nation`s highest court. Justice Jackson was officially sworn in as a Supreme Court justice back in June becoming the first black woman to serve on the court. In attendance today were Justice Jackson`s family, her eight new colleagues, and notable guests including President Biden and Vice President Harris.

Now, cameras are not allowed inside the court, but thanks to those who are there, we do know some of the details of how this ceremony unfolded. Jackson sat in a chair that previously belong to the longest serving former chief justice, John Marshall, Attorney General Merrick Garland was there and a official capacity, dressed in a traditional morning coat, and Chief Justice John Roberts administered the judicial oath. Ben Jackson took a seat at the far right of the bench. That`s the seat that is reserved for the associate justice of the court.

Speaking at the library of Congress after the ceremony, Jackson acknowledged her groundbreaking ascend to the high court.


JACKSON: People from all walks of life have approached me, they are calling on the ancestors, harkening back to history, and claiming their stake at last. They are saying to me, in essence, you go -- you go, girl.


WAGNER: Justice Jackson is now part of a three liberal minority on a court that is dominated by six conservative justices. In a new term which begins on Monday, that court is expected to hear oral arguments and issue rulings on crucial matters like voting rights, LGBTQ rights and affirmative action. And with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on the bench, Monday also marks the first day of a Supreme Court that looks a little more like the rest of America.

That does it for us tonight. Rachel will be here on Monday, and I will see you Tuesday.

Now it is time for a special edition of "THE LAST WORD". Tonight, Ali Velshi reports live from Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

Good evening, Ali. We are really looking for this.