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At This Hour

NATO and Poland Say Missile Strike Likely Accident; Republicans One Seat Away from House Majority; Rick Scott Challenges Mitch McConnell for Senate GOP Leader; Trump Launches 2024 Bid. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 16, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. AT THIS HOUR, an unintentional attack, a deadly missile strike in Poland appears to have been an accident. What Ukraine and Russia are also saying.

Plus, Republicans are one win away from retaking control of the House of Representatives.

And consumer spending on the rise. But Target is offering a bleak assessment of the holiday shopping season. This is what we are watching AT THIS HOUR.

Thanks for being here, everyone.

The deadly strike in Poland, there's a lot of moving parts. The head of NATO and the Polish president say there's no evidence it was a Russian attack. They say it was most likely a Ukrainian missile defending against a Russian strike.

Matthew Chance is as close as you can get.

What is the latest you are hearing?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Experts from Poland as well as the United States, who have been actually working on trying to piece together forensically exactly what happened, where the weapons were from, who fired it.

There have already been words from various people saying it was essentially, reached the conclusion that this was not a Russian rocket attack on Polish territory but instead a Ukrainian antimissile defense system missile, which basically overshot its target.

The Polish prime minister's office saying there's evidence at the scene that suggested the Ukrainian missile successfully managed to knock out a Russian missile. There was a massive bombardment by Russian forces.

And the Ukrainian anti missile systems were struggling to defend their own citizens from prolonged and multiple attacks. You can see how one of their rockets may have flown over the border.

BOLDUAN: Matthew, thank you for being there. We appreciate it.

We have more detail. Alex Marquardt has more.

Alex, how are U.S. intelligence assessing the situation?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. is lining up very much with Poland and NATO, that this was a missile that was fired from Ukraine, according to two U.S. officials that briefed our White House team.

This does increasingly look like Ukrainian air defense that errantly went into Poland. We did hear from President Biden. He has been attending the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. He convened an emergency meeting with allies.

And said that G7 allies, as well as NATO are in total unanimity about the need for answers. But he did say it is unlikely that the missile originated in Russia. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to make sure we figure out exactly what happened. It's unlikely in the minds of the trajectory that it was fired from Russia.


MARQUARDT: We also heard from Lloyd Austin also, saying that they are trying to come up with answers. The Ukrainian military has told the U.S. they did fire a missile, attempt to intercept a Russian missile. It's important to emphasize this came on a today when Ukraine was facing a massive barrage of Russian missiles.


MARQUARDT: So no one is saying that Ukraine is respond for this. Ultimately NATO and U.S. officials say Russia bears responsibility here.

BOLDUAN: President Biden is on his way back to the United States after holding that emergency meeting.

What are you hearing from there this morning, Arlette?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden and the White House have taken a very cautious and methodical approach, which reflects the high stakes that are currently at play as the situation has unfolded.

The president was woken up in the middle of the night over in Bali to be briefed by his national security team. He later held a phone call with the Polish president. The president repeatedly said they need to see further intelligence.

And they'll continue to support Poland as they gather the facts. But they wanted a very cautious approach with what they were seeing.

We'll see if the White House will have any further readouts. But they have been trying to be very methodical and, as Alex noted, President Biden said after that meeting with those G7 leaders, there was total unanimity in how they wanted to respond. And that was waiting for the facts to come out.

BOLDUAN: Really an example of how high the stakes are here and the cautious tone and careful and methodical nature they're taking. Good to see you, Arlette.

Joining us is Gen. James "Spider" Marks and CNN contributor Jill Dougherty.

General, what do you make of this?

GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I'd like to emphasize the unintended consequences of warfare. You have an ill- disciplined enemy in the form of Russia military, incredibly incompetent leadership, no adherence to any form of Geneva codes.

And then you have young folks are engaged in this type of warfare and are executing these missions. So you have these unintended consequences, the result, that are inevitable.

What is really good is to see great caution on the side of leaders of the G7 and NATO to say let's go slow, not be in a hurry. Certainly Putin was very much aware of the fact he was not intending, I would suggest, if there was any complicity by the Russians, he had no intent to go after a NATO member.

BOLDUAN: One thing we know, as any incident in its initial moments, is that initial reports can and often be incorrect. We did see that President Zelenskyy was quick to blame Russia. Clearly more information has come out and they know that's not the case.

I don't know if we call it a knee-jerk reaction.

Is that an embarrassment for Ukraine's president?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think the timing here was really important. Zelenskyy very quickly reacted and the United States didn't. So I think his reaction would be based on what was going on at the moment. There was an enormous air attack on Ukraine going on at that moment. And of course his first suspect would be Russia.

I think NATO had a very difficult situation, because it had to react. They probably knew what was going on and they had a tempered reaction; at least mostly knew what was going on. Now I've been watching how the Russians are reacting.


DOUGHERTY: They'll going to make as much hay out of this as possibility. They are criticizing the Ukrainians. One person in a discussion in Russia saying, you know, the butter-

fingered Ukrainians. So they'll try to say the Ukrainians don't know what they're doing. I do believe Russia will use it as an excuse the next time something horrible happens. They could blame it on the Ukrainians.

But also, I think very important, Kate, is how the Russians officially reacted. A spokesperson for Putin was very critical of Ukraine. They interestingly praised President Biden for being restrained and much more professional.

Here again, you know, they're obviously reacting in that way but trying to use it to create division among NATO. It's a subtle, dramatic occurrence but very important and subtle repercussions in what's going on.

BOLDUAN: Interesting.

General, yesterday was seen as the biggest and widest bombardment on Ukraine since the war began. Zelenskyy said they knocked down all but 10 of the more than 100 missiles that were launched.

How good is that success rate in terms of Ukraine's defense capabilities?

Can they keep that up?

MARKS: Yes, you're never going to have 100 percent solution. You have some pretty good capabilities that exist. NATO has been stepping up. The United States in particular has been stepping up.

Our experience when we look across the board and look at the very successful air defense capabilities, certainly Israel with its Iron Dome is a real step up (INAUDIBLE).

But you're never going to have 100 percent solution. The key thing is how do you try to assess what's really going on so you can then make good decisions on the ground?

But then that has a tremendous impact in terms of what you're doing at the operational and strategic levels. The Poles came forward and said we would like to invoke Article IV. We want to go back to the members of NATO and say, something went sideways.

As they dug into it, they removed that this morning. That speaks very highly to this alliance.

BOLDUAN: Thank you both so much.

Donald Trump announces his third presidential bid. Others are quick to respond. That is next.





BOLDUAN: More than a week after Election Day, friends and Republicans are now one seat away from winning the majority in the House of Representatives. Votes are still being counted in 11 tight races across the country. John Berman joins me to take a look at the race that could seal the deal or not. You decide.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Any one of them could seal the deal. As you said there are 11 uncalled races. They're ahead in four. Let's look at a couple of them in California.

California's 3rd congressional district, ahead by 10,000 votes. It's a Republican leaning district. Also in California, incumbent Republican Mike Garcia, he's 13,000 votes ahead with 72 percent reporting. A win in either of these races where they are counting right now would give Republicans control.

I just want to show you what happens if things end where they are right now. Everyone ahead right now wins, Republicans secure 221 seats, Democrats would have 214, where does that rank in terms of the closeness?

It's pretty close. This past Congress, Democrats had 222, Republicans 213. This one could be even closer than that, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, John.

So any minute, Senate Republicans will be voting on who will be their leader. Mitch McConnell is facing a rare challenge from a fellow Republican. Jessica Dean is on Capitol Hill for us with the latest.

Jessica, Rick Scott is making a go for it.

What are you hearing?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. What we know is we just heard from McConnell's spokesperson. They did fight back and McConnell managed to win in the first round and they are not delaying this vote.

There had been a push from some Senate Republicans, including Scott and others, to delay this leadership vote. That did not go through. They are now imminently moving to their leadership vote.

As you mentioned, it's Mitch McConnell against Rick Scott, Scott mounting this long-shot challenge. It doesn't appear he has nearly enough votes to beat McConnell. It is worth noting that he is challenging McConnell.

He's never had a real challenger like this, so it speaks to the deep division within the Republican Party, both on the way forward, how close they want to be to Donald Trump, how central he will play into their path moving forward and the messaging, what the path is forward.


DEAN: Before all of this, you know, Scott and McConnell in leadership they would show up, stand next to each other but it began to become very clear they were on very different pages, Scott pushing out his owns agenda items, McConnell not really following that at all.

This has spilled out into public view but we do expect to know the results here very soon. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. Great to see you, Jessica.

Donald Trump has made it official, filing the paperwork, publicly announcing he is running for president again. The former president, who tried to overturn the 2020 election, of course, and incited the deadly Capitol insurrection, he appears to be reprising some of his greatest hits.

Kristen Holmes is live in West Palm Beach on this announcement.

What is the third campaign going to look like?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, in terms of structure, we have heard they do want to re-create some of his greatest hits. It will be a much smaller staff, a closer group of aides traveling with him.

And some of it seems to be occurring naturally. Since we have seen the lackluster midterm results, Republicans are essentially saying it's time to move on, donors moving away from Donald Trump.

That circle is naturally getting smaller, as well as them wanting to recreate the election he won. The other thing to look at is exactly what does that rhetoric look like.

If last night's speech is any indication, it's going to be a lot of doom and gloom. This wasn't a traditional presidential hopeful launch speech. This was a traditional Trump speech.

He paints America as a place filled with illegal, dangerous immigrants. As you said, some of his greatest hits carried him to the White House in 2016. Take a listen to just some of what he had to say.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The decline of America is being forced upon us by Biden and the radical left lunatics running our government right into the ground. The citizens of our country have not yet realized the full extent and gravity of the pain of our nation and the total effect of suffering is just starting to take hold.

They don't quite feel it yet but they will very soon.


HOLMES: Kate, this is an historic election for a number of reasons. Donald Trump entering is an historic moment. He's not just only the second president to run but he was twice impeached.

Because he refused to accept the results of a legitimate election, he inspired a deadly Capitol riot. On top of that, in the background are multiple legal investigations as well as federal investigations he's embroiled in. So how it all plays out, that remains to be seen, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Kristin, thank you.

Joining me for more, Dana Bash and Jeff Zeleny.

Good to see you guys. Midterm ballots are still being counted. It is 720 days until the 2024 election.



BOLDUAN: -- a very long way to go.

What do you think of this?

BASH: Not only is there a long way to go, Donald Trump is the only person in the race right now. That really is one of the if not the biggest question at this point, as they look forward.

Who else is going to run?

How many other people are going to run?

That could help determine whether or not you're going to see Donald Trump sort of rise above others, like he did in 2016. A big reason he did so well in 2016 was he had so many opponents.


BASH: And then they split the vote. There were a lot of Republican governors and others indicating they might be interested.

Will they get together and say, we have to pick one to take him out?

It's hard to see that happening. But if they want to change the dynamic of the Republican Party, they have to do that, starting with Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: And Jeff, what's noteworthy is how some potential opponents are already responding. Ron DeSantis literally pointing to the scoreboard.

Joe Biden's team put out something almost immediately.


TRUMP: I hope that it will be so good --

You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.


BOLDUAN: So they're not wasting, really a moment.

What do you see in these quick responses, Jeff?


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Even as Republicans are sort of, you know, so concerned about this, you know, they're voicing their concerns, Democrats are gleeful. Neither side is wasting time to give the former president the lane to have this himself, to control this himself. Both are trying to define him, if you will, to the extent we can still further define the former president.

But I think it's interesting, watching all of this, the reaction. Mike Pompeo this morning was tweeting this was a serious moment. It calls for a different kind of candidate. We're going to see, the thing that propelled Donald Trump the last time is there were so many challengers.

It depends on one thing, the ego of all of these men, a couple women perhaps, if they're going to jump in or not. But everyone is keeping their eye on him. You know, almost to a person, the Republicans I've been speaking to this morning, no one outside of the base of Trump supporters is happy to see any of this at all.

The question is, does he have a second act?

Last night we didn't hear as much about the 2020 election denialism.

The question is, what is his second act like, his third event?

Is he going to be holding rallies?

Can he have a different theme the second time around?

All very much unclear.

BOLDUAN: That's very true.

Dana, focusing on the Senate, you have Rick Scott saying he's going to challenge McConnell. Some Republicans are asking to delay the vote until after Georgia. That clearly is not going to happen. And then Mitch McConnell is speaking up for himself.


MIKE PENCE (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've traveled around the country, people have repeatedly --

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I think the outcome is pretty clear. I want to repeat again, I have the votes. I will be elected.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: There are few guarantees in politics, of course.

But when Mitch McConnell says something like that, just from covering the man, is there any doubt?

BASH: No, he knows where his votes are and aren't.

Can we just take a moment?

You and I had covered the Hill together for a few years, including Mitch McConnell. It's kind of hard to wrap your mind around a notion of the way Republicans in the Senate are going at it.

BOLDUAN: I know.

BASH: I mean, they are really going at it. It is because of the vastly different perspective and, you know, sort of strategy on how to continue to get that Trump base.


BOLDUAN: It still comes down to Trump.

BASH: That's right. The arguments you hear from Rick Scott about why he should be leader, the biggest argument is that Mitch McConnell engaged too much in bipartisan compromise.

That comes right from Donald Trump. But nevertheless, that kind of argument that the former president has been making, has taken root in the Trump base, which is why Rick Scott believes he has the power to challenge McConnell.

But the way they're reporting about what happened in the private meeting, the way it's spilling out in the public, we don't normally see this, at least in many, many years, among Republicans. This is different. It's all about the future of the Republican Party. Rick Scott is maybe not saying the word Donald Trump but he's trying to work on a lot of issues on his behalf.

BOLDUAN: It's not just -- it's also important, because it dictates what Republicans will focus on in the Senate when you're talking about a legislative agenda. So it is important in the medium and longer term as well.


BOLDUAN: Thank you.

And thank you, Jeff, so much. Good to see you.

Mike Pence, he will be joining Jake Tapper for a live CNN town hall tonight, 9:00 pm Eastern.

The deadly blast in Poland presenting a major test for the NATO alliance right now. Former U.S. ambassador to NATO is next.