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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Early Voting Underway In Georgia With 3 Weeks Until Election; Biden Touts Student Loan Forgiveness As Application Process Begins; Russia Kills 4 With Iranian-Made Kamikaze Drone Strikes In Kyiv; DOJ Seeks 6 Months In Prison, $200K Fine For Steve Bannon Over Contempt Conviction; Police: Suspected Serial Killer "Out Hunting" For Victim When Caught. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 17, 2022 - 16:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A check, a badge and a candidate who doesn't want to commit.

THE LEAD starts right now.

With just over three weeks, in the countdown to go to the midterms, early voting begins in a key state that entire country is watching. Herschel Walker with a major, new admission today. And the Republican who wants to be Arizona's next governor indicates she might not be interested in the actual results.

Plus, kamikaze terror. Kyiv comes under attack from drones that Ukraine says Russia is getting from Iran. A pregnant woman among those killed. Could this change how the U.S. gives support to Ukraine?

And stopped on a, quote, mission to kill. A serial killer suspect in California arrested. What we're learning today about his past and how the police finally got him.


BERMAN: Hello and welcome to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman, in for Jake Tapper.

And we begin this hour with our politics lead. Just 22 days from election day, CNN's latest poll of polls shows Democrats and Republicans in a dead heat for control of the House of Representatives. Early voting kicked off today in the critical swing state of Georgia. Democratic Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock hit the polls this morning to cast his ballot. Warnock is attempting to fend off a challenge from embattled Republican nominee and football legend Herschel Walker.

Walker today acknowledged for the first time that he did indeed send a $700 check to a woman who alleged the money was provided to reimburse her for an abortion. Walker denies he sent the check for that purpose. Walker is also defending his use of an honorary sheriff's badge which he flashed at a debate on Friday night with Warnock. Voters wouldn't get another chance to see the candidates face off again before Election Day.

As CNN's Eva McKend reports, turnout in Georgia is expected to top previous midterm records because the ballot there, as in so many other states, features a full slate of heated races.


DEBATE MODERATOR: It is time to get underway.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Georgia Republican Herschel Walker defending his move during Friday's Senate debate to pull out an honorary sheriff's badge from his hometown sheriff's department.

HERSCHEL WALKER (D), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: This is from the sheriff of Johnson county which is a legit badge. Everyone could make fun but this gives me the right -- let me finish. If anything happened in this county, I have the right to work with the police and get things done.

MCKEND: The GOP nominee showed off the badge during a discussion over support for police, as he faced off with Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock.

DEBATE MODERATOR: That is not allowed, sir. I ask you to put that prop away.

WALKER: Well, it's not a prop. This is real.

MCKEND: A CNN fact check found Walker has never had a job in law enforcement. The surprising moment leading Warnock to suggest the former NFL star not a serious candidate.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): The people of Georgia deserve a serious person to represent them at serious times.

I guess he expects the people of Georgia now to hallucinate and imagine that he is also a United States senator. He's clearly not ready.

MCKEND: Walker also facing fresh questions about reports that he paid for a former girlfriend's abortion more than a decade ago. He's now acknowledging sending a $700 check to the woman but still denied it was for the procedure.

WALKER: This is still a lie because she's the mother of my child. So you're going to see a check of somebody giving a check. So you know what I'm saying. --

REPORTER: Do you know what the $700 check is for?

WALKER: I have no idea what that is for.

REPORTER: Is that your signature on the check?

WALKER: Let me see. It could be. It doesn't matter whether it is or not.

MCKEND: As voters remain concerned with the state of the U.S. economy and Joe Biden's handling of the issue, Warnock deflecting questions about whether he would support Biden if he runs again in 2024.

WARNOCK: Part of the problem with our politics right now is that it is all about the politicians. And so, I'm not going to do what the pundits want me to do. I'm going to do what the people of Georgia hired me to do.

MCKEND: In the battle for control of the House, a CNN poll of polls finds voters are evenly divided when it comes to which party candidate they would support in their own district. With 46 percent saying they would back the Democratic candidate and 46 percent saying they would vote for the Republican.


MCKEND (on camera): Though the Senate contest is taking up a lot of the oxygen here in the state, the governor's race also vital. Stacey Abrams and Governor Kemp locked in a highly anticipated rematch.


They will take the debate stage here in Atlanta in just a few hours -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Eva McKend in Georgia, we'll be watching. Thank you very much.

And as Abrams and Kemp face off tonight in Georgia, debates will get underway in two other critical races. Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah will face his challenger, independent Evan McMullin in a closely watched race there. In Ohio, Democrat Congressman Tim Ryan will debate Republican nominee J.D. Vance. They are seeking the seat of retiring Republican Senator Rob Portman.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live for us.

Omar, this will be Vance and Ryan's second debate. What can we expect?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, John, their second and last time debating this election cycle, just about three weeks to election day. And if you watch the first one, it was contentious at times. Of course, they hit on some of the major issues in these midterms like abortion, law enforcement, the economy, and more.

But at times they were talking directly at each other. Moderators were trying to jump in. Tim Ryan said of J.D. Vance, kissing up to President Trump, that Ohio, and I am quoting here, an ass kicker, not an ass kisser. So, we'll look for that same dynamic here, but also Ryan doubled down on the fact that he didn't want to see President Biden run for a second term, saying he wants to see a generational change on both sides of the political aisle.

And the other interesting fact here is that despite Ryan out-raising J.D. Vance by a large margin from July to September, Vance is set to outspend Tim Ryan from now through election day largely driven by national Republican financial support, the likes of which Ryan hasn't quite seen on the Democratic side.

BERMAN: You were quoting there and very carefully quoting there, too, I might add. And I want to ask you as well about the Utah Senate race. This is really interesting. One of the most curious developments is Republican Senator Mitt Romney's decision not to make an endorsement there. Why won't he?

JIMENEZ: Well, his explanation is he is friends with both, Evan McMullin, the independent running, and Senator Mike Lee, the Republican. But as you could imagine, it is infuriated many people on the GOP side literally because he's the only GOP senator who hasn't endorsed Mike Lee.

All that aside, or I should say they both have different views on President Trump, Romney and Lee. All of that aside, though, Lee didn't endorse Romney back in 2018. It is closer that many expected. We'll see if this debate moves the needle at all.

BERMAN: All right. Watching that closely as well.

Omar Jimenez, thank you so much for your reporting.

To Arizona's gubernatorial race now where the Republican candidate said she will accept the results of the election, if she wins. Kari Lake still said she believes that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. This is what she had to say about her own race in an interview with CNN's own Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN HOST: My question is will you accept the results of your election in November?

KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GOV. CANDIDATE: I'm going to win the election and I will accept that result.

BASH: If you lose, will you accept that?

LAKE: I'm going to win the election and I will accept that result?


BERMAN: The aforementioned Dana Bash, CNN's chief political correspondent, joins us now live.

Dana, how unusual is this to hear from a candidate who stands a good chance of becoming governor and why do you think she's doing it?

BASH: Well, it is unusual if you have a time machine and go back pre- 2020. It is not unusual when you have Republican candidates who are shaping themselves in the mold of Donald Trump and in some ways she is kind of a new and improved version of Donald Trump if you are a staunch so-called MAGA supporter. And the reason she's doing it is to keep her options open.

Because if she doesn't win, either outright or after the votes are all counted, because we know with Arizona in particular, we know from 2020 and could be the same in 2022, it could take a while because of the mail-in ballots that are going to come in.

I asked her one more time even past what you just played, John, whether or not if she loses she will concede and she insisted that she will win. That might be the case. But the fact that she won't say if I lose I will concede, as is the custom generally speaking in a democracy, is very noteworthy.

BERMAN: Yeah, elections can't be valid only if you win. You also interviewed the Democratic candidate, Katie Hobbs. This is part of that conversation.


BASH: So just to be clear. If you become governor, you will push for a law that has absolutely no limits in any point of the pregnancy on abortion. That is your position, that is what you want to be the law of the lands in the Arizona?

KATIE HOBBS (D), ARIZONA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: The fact is right now that we have very limited options and that we need to get politics out of the way and let doctors provide the care that they are trained to provide.


BERMAN: So, Dana, Arizona is a purple state now.


What's the risk-reward of taking a position like this on abortion?

BASH: There is a lot of risk and potentially reward. And you sort of alluded to this when you say a position like this, which she is suggesting is that there would be no legal restrictions at all on abortion. And just to give you a sense of context what is going on in Arizona right now is that the current Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed a ban of abortion after 15 weeks with some exceptions and the attorney general also Republican is trying to get that off the books, go back to 1901 and a law there which would completely ban, pretty much completely ban abortion except in the life of a mother, when that is at risk.

So this is a completely opposite point of view. And the notion of a purple state is if you really look at the specifics and where most people are in this incredibly complicated, incredibly personal question, it is somewhere generally somewhere in the middle, which is that there should be liberties and abilities for women to do -- to have an abortion, but not necessarily unlimited when it comes to the viability of that pregnancy. Again, it is very complicated but it is an issue that Democrats have been pushing the whole notion of abortion because of the roe being rescinded. But you don't really hear a lot of specifics on how they want to do it when it comes to the any law of the land.

BERMAN: Dana Bash, our chief political correspondent, great to see you. Terrific reporting this week on the "STATE OF THE UNION" as always.

BASH: You, too.

BERMAN: So we have more today. On the Democrat's midterm message and whether they're getting it wrong and that's including the White House. We're going to ask Senator Elizabeth Warren about that, plus get her take on the just announced developments in the president's student loan forgiveness plan.

And then the feds want the maximum. Prosecutors lay out how long they think Steve Bannon should be in prison what he called a misdemeanor from hell.

And exorbitant overcharge. New documents from Congress show what Donald Trump's company made the Secret Service pay to stay at his hotels while he was in office.



BERMAN: Back now with more of our politics lead. With just 22 days to go until the November midterm elections, President Biden is touting the launch of the application process for his plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 a year. The administration says 8 million Americans have already signed up since the website went live on Friday.

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Senator, thank you so much for being with us.

Obviously, this will have an impact on people's lives. But a new "New York Times"/Siena poll shows that a top issue for Americans right now: the economy and inflation. Some economists have said that this student loan forgiveness plan could make inflation worse.

Can you definitively say it won't?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Yes. Actually, there have been a lot of studies around this and what they've shown is that it's not going to have an impact on inflation.

In fact, way I think about this is this is a key difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. The Republicans scream about inflation and have absolutely zero plans to do anything about costs that actually come to families. Democrats say, we've actually got some plans here and we are doing some really important things to move the needle, like we are reducing student loan debt for 43 million Americans. Like we are reducing the cost of insulin for millions of Americans. We are making sure that we're going to have negotiation of

prescription drug prices. We're reducing the cost of utilities. The president is working to bring down the cost of gasoline.

Look, we have right now the lowest unemployment in decades. The lowest unemployment among Hispanics in the history of the country. We have high prices and Democrats have plans and are working to bring those prices down.

Republicans, their view is they got nothing.

BERMAN: So, you know that a lot of students or former students who have loan debt, it's privately held loans. This move from the president doesn't address this. So how do you get to them? How do you reach these holders?

WARREN: You know, right now, the president is doing what he can do within his legal authority. And that is where the United States government is the creditor, he's able to cancel a portion of the student loan debt. And that is what he's doing. He's using the tool available to him.

In order to be able to deal with private student loans, we'd have to have Congress move, because it would take a different kind of law. And right now, the Republicans block us basically on anything we're trying to do to help bring down costs for American families.

So, want to do more work in the area of helping American families, vote Democratic.,, a lot of folks out there who with taking this case directly to the people. And I -- I want to do everything I can to help them.

BERMAN: You're mentioning two Democrats who are running for Senate in key swing states there.


BERMAN: So, "The New York Times" and Siena came out with a poll today and again, they asked the people what the top issue facing the country was, and economy and inflation are number one basically for most voters out there. Yet the Democrats seem, many, seem to be focused on abortion as the main issue.

And "The Times" quoted a person in this article when writing this up this poll, and I want to read this to you.

Ms. Ackerman said she disagreed 1,000 percent with the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe versus Wade and erase the national right to an abortion, but that doesn't really have a lot to do with my decision, she said of her fall vote. I'm more worried about other things.


Meaning the economy and inflation.

So how much focus on abortion do you think is too much in these elections?

WARREN: Look, I think that we have a very strong message as Democrats on the economy, particularly up against Republicans who can do nothing but shout and have no ideas.

But I also think talking about access to an abortion is powerfully important for everyone. Abortion is on the ballot in 2022. And for every person who cares about individual autonomy, who cares about freedom, who cares about whether or not decisions are made by the person who is pregnant and her doctor, or whether they're made by the government, then I think this is a powerfully important issue.

And I just want to add, it's not the only powerfully important issue. Democracy is also on the ballot in 2022. There are election deniers all across this country who are on the ballot. We've just heard candidate in Arizona who says in effect that she's not going to accept the results unless she wins.

That is a direct assault on democracy. And so long as the Republicans continue to embrace that, then they are the ones who are putting our democracy at risk.

So, there's a lot that's powerful, that's on the ballot. And I think this is why we need to show up for the Democrats. We need to show up for them on the economy. We need to show up for them on abortion. We need to show up for them on democracy.

BERMAN: So former President Obama is showing up in three key states later this month, hitting the campaign trail. But he's also warning Democrats not to be what he calls a buzzkill and in how they talk about politics. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: How does politics even -- how is it even relevant to, you know, the things that I care most deeply about -- my family, my kids, you know, work that gives me satisfaction, having fun, you know? Not being a buzzkill, right?

Sometimes Democrats are, right? It's like -- you know, sometimes people want to not feel as if they are walking on eggshells.


BERMAN: What do you think about that? One the words that people assign to that type of thing is wokeness. Do you think or how much do you think that is hurting the party?

WARREN: You know, look, I think that President Obama makes very good point. We're an optimistic people and we want to build futures for ourselves and our children that we could believe in. It's why we get up every day. It's why we work hard. It's why we stay up late at night.

But I just want to say here, it's the Republicans who are trying to keep 43 million Americans from getting their student loan debt canceled. It is Republicans who want to repeal the laws that we just got in place to cut the cost of insulin and to let Medicare negotiate drug prices. It's the Republicans who want to see us raise interest rates and put millions of people out of work.

So, I am very worried about buzzkill. I am worried about what it is that the Republicans want to do to an America that really what we're trying to do as Democrats is just build opportunity. Just let families get out there and do what they do best. Let individuals get out there and do what they do best, and let them make their own decisions, including letting women make their own decisions about abortion and about their health care.

I -- to me, that's the heart of what it means to be an American and to be optimistic about the future we're building.

BERMAN: Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. 22 days until Election Day, that's clear. Thank you very much for being with us.

All right. Deadly drone strikes, Russia targets Ukraine's capital with kamikaze weapons apparently supplied by Iran. We are live in Kyiv next with an aftermath, and the debate over whether the U.S. and its allies could be stepping or should be stepping up the equipment they're giving to Ukraine.



BERMAN: Topping our world lead, this afternoon, Moscow's mayor shut down the military draft offices nearly a month after Putin's decision to mobilize Russian citizens to fight his bloody war. Some Russian men were spared at the last moment, released just hours after getting drafted. This as attacks by Russia relied less on human fighter and more on high-tech warfare.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is in Kyiv where bodies are being extracted from rubble as a result of Russia's latest kamikaze drone strikes on civilians.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A police man takes aim at the kamikaze drone as it bears down on Kyiv. Nicknamed mopeds in concern because of their distinctive wine, 28 launched toward the city on Monday. The majority are successfully shot out of the sky. But four break through shattering the early morning calm in the heart of the capital.

So you could see that is the railway station down at the end. The air is thick with the smell of explosives.

Investigators are already collecting evidence.

Excuse me. Excuse me. It is from the drone, yes?

Where did you find it? So they're saying that's the tailfin from the drone that hit.

The target, according to Ukrainian authorities, Kyiv's energy infrastructure. But one hits a residential building nearby, with devastating results.

You could see at least one person has been killed. They're taking the body away now.

Rescue workers comb through the smoldering rubble. There have been reports of voices still alive inside.

An extraordinarily lucky older woman is rescued from her balcony next door and bundled away to the hospital.

Up until one week ago, the city had been relatively calm. Now, Kyiv's mayor said that the Russian's goal is to make life as miserable as possible for civilians as colder weather sets in.

MAYOR VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE: The Russians want to destroy right now the critical infrastructure in our home town. Water, electricity, heating.

WARD: What impact does it have on the psyche of the people of Kyiv that there are kamikaze drones now attacking your capital?

KLITSCHKO: Everyone is angry. They want to defend their families and home town.

WARD: As we prepared to interview a volunteer medic from Sweden, the air raid sirens start up again.


WARD: You must be used to hearing that. We move to take cover, three cruise missiles have been reported heading in the direction of Kyiv. This time they are intercepted by Ukraine's air defenses. But Kyiv's residents know that there will be more.


WARD (on camera): And, John, we have heard from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tonight, he said that just in a space of 12 hours, 37 Iranian Shahed 136 drones and several cruise missiles were intercepted. Also the foreign ministry saying in the past week, 100 of those so-called kamikaze drones have hit residential buildings, power plants, sewage treatment plants, bridges. The foreign ministry goes on to say one-third of Ukraine's energy infrastructure has been damaged as a result of those drone strikes. That is why we've seen Ukraine's foreign ministry calling for sanctions against Iran for supplying this weapon to Russia -- John.

BERMAN: Clarissa Ward, what a window into the day in the life of Kyiv. Thank you to you and your team for that report.

I want to bring in the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor. Ambassador, thank you so much for being with us. I want to read you a

tweet from the former ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, who wrote, quote, so it's okay for Iran to provide Russia with long range weapons but not okay for NATO to provide Ukraine with weapons of similar ranges. What is your view of that?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: My view, John, is that NATO and the United States should definitely provide Ukraine with the long range weapons they need to fight back, to hit back at targets, Russian targets in Ukraine that are firing these kinds of weapons at them.

Ambassador McFaul is exactly right. The Russians show no restraint and if we show restraint, that is a mistake. We should be providing the Ukrainians with every ability they need to fight back, to attack back, and to defend them themselves -- defend themselves against the drones that are coming in. So that is very important that we provide these weapons to them and right now.

BERMAN: Restraint you say is a mistake. I want to you keep that in mind in that similar vein, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, told CNN that the U.S. will continue to sanction Iran for providing drones to Russia. But, look, if you look at the State Department websites, you could find a list of dozens of U.S. sanctions already slapped on Iran, most recently for the crackdown on peaceful protesters.

So what difference will additional sanctions on Iran have to keep the flow of the weapons to Russia?

TAYLOR: John, sanctions work slowly. There is no doubt about it. They send a message that it is unacceptable for anyone, Iranians, the North Koreans, anyone to be providing weapons to Russia for this brutal, horrible inhuman attack, unprovoked on a nation that did nothing to deserve this.

So, this message is a strong one. You're right. Sanctions take a while to go into effect. And if there are people would are responsible for these weapons transfers, they'll be effected.


They'll be sanctioned. They'll pay a penalty.

But what really needs to happen is we need to provide those weapons that we talked about at the beginning to the Ukrainians so they could fight and push the Russians out of their country.

BERMAN: So it is not just Iran now helping Russia. Belarus is helping Russia now also with Russian troops entering that country once again. It really does seem like more and more countries are getting pulled into this conflict.

Are you worried that something larger, a global conflict here is looming around this? TAYLOR: So the Russians are trying to pull other nations in. But even

nations like Belarus are not eager to get involved. They know that the sanctions, the penalties, the payments, the pain that they will face if they join this battle.

So, President Lukashenko of Belarus has not been eager to join. President Putin is leaning on him to provide these kind of weapons and support. Lukashenko knows that Belarusian people do not want to join this fight.

There are no nations, when you think about the U.N. look at the vote there. Nations vote against the Russians, the nations of world have voted overwhelmingly, 143-5, to condemn the Russian attack. So we know that there are attempts to bring other nations in. But so far, they're failing.

BERMAN: Ambassador Bill Taylor, as always, we really appreciate your expertise. Thank you so much for being with us on THE LEAD.

TAYLOR: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: All right. Jail time and a hefty fine. Up next, the sentence federal prosecutors want Steve Bannon to get for his refusal to go before the January 6 committee and what Bannon is now countering with.



BERMAN: We are back in our politics lead.

The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to impose a harsh sentence on former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon for his defiance of a subpoena from the House Committee investigating the deadly January 6 attack. Bannon is seeking probation and asking for Friday's sentencing to be delayed and as CNN's Sara Murray reports, the committee is set to ask a key figure in the investigation for a third interview.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For defying a subpoena from the House January 6 committee --

STEVE BANNON, TRUMP ALLY: This is the misdemeanor from hell.

MURRAY: -- Trump ally Steve Bannon deserves the maximum penalty in Friday's sentencing, prosecutors say, asking the judge to sentence Bannon to six months behind bars and $200,000 in fines after he was convicted of contempt of Congress.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Steve Bannon is one of a handful of people who just blew us offer and he's been convicted for contempt of Congress.

MURRAY: Prosecutors argue in their court filing that the rioters who over ran the Capitol on January 6 did not just attack a building. They assaulted the rule of law, by flouting the subpoena and its authority, the defendant exacerbated that assault.

BANNON: Number one, I didn't want to have a meeting longer than five minutes.

MURRAY: Bannon team insists the right wing media firebrand should only get probation and pending his appeal of his conviction.

All of this as the January 6 committee plans to formally serve former Donald Trump for a subpoena for documents and testimony this week.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion.

MURRAY: Saying they hope he'll comply.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): If he wants to clear the record, he will have an opportunity to do it.

MURRAY: Despite Trump's clear disdain for the committee.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: These are hacks and thugs.

MURRAY: In the meantime, the panel is pressing ahead after last week's hearing.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The day before the joint session on January 5th, Secret Service was aware of increased chatter focused on Vice President Pence.

MURRAY: And seeking new information from the U.S. Secret Service.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): They sent the vice president up to the Capitol with a fairly small group of people to protect him into what was should have obviously been foreseen as a potentially very dangerous situation.

MURRAY: New documents turned over to the committee and obtained by CNN show the Secret Service ant its law enforcement partners knew about violent rhetoric and threats and that lawmakers on social media before the U.S. Capitol attack.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren saying they will ask former Secret Service Assistant Director Tony Ornato, head of Trump's Secret Service detail Robert Engle and others to testify again.

LOFGREN: We're in a position in the near future to call the witnesses from the Secret Service back in for a few additional questions.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, Ornato has already met with the committee on two prior occasions but it is clear that the committee has more questions for him. Of course, this committee's mandate expires at the congressional term. So they have a limited time frame to complete it, John.

BERMAN: Yeah, potentially very limited, Sara Murray, thank you so much.

Also in our politics lead, new documents show that the Trump Organization charged then President Trump's Secret Service detail exorbitant room rates for trips to Trump properties. This follows an investigation by the House Oversight Committee, which says its findings are far from exhausted. The committee says on one objection, November of 2017, the Secret Service was charged a rate of $1,185 per room per night when Donald Trump Jr. stayed at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. That rate is nearly six times the allowable per diem rate for traveling government employees.

Now, Eric Trump denies the finding and insists the rooms were offered for free or at cost.

So, he allegedly was out hunting on a mission to kill. What police in Stockton, California, are sharing about the suspect accused in a series of killings.



BERMAN: In our national lead, police in California say they are, quote, sure we stopped another killing, this after arresting a 43- year- old they think is connected to a string of recent murders in and around Stockton.

As CNN's Nick Watt reports, police say he is a man who preferred to lurk in the shadows.


CHIEF STANLEY MCFADDEN, STOCKTON POLICE: Our surveillance team followed this person while he was driving.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wesley Brownlee, 43 years old, lives in Stockton, now in custody, a suspected serial killer.

MCFADDEN: We watched his patterns and determined to early this morning he was on a mission to kill. He was out hunting.

WATT: Five Stockton men were slain between early July and late September, all shot while walking alone late at night or early morning.


Lorenzo Lopez was the last. In the neighborhood where he was killed, his little brother Jerry paid tribute.

JERRY LOPEZ, BROTHER OF VICTIM: He was there for me. He was watching out for me. I wish I could have watched out for him. WATT: Police now believe Brownlee's spree began in nearby Oakland in

April of last year, with the early morning murder of a lone man. They say days later, Brownlee shot a woman in Stockton but she survived. Nothing was stolen from the victims and police said they found no gang connections.

Early October, police released a video of a person of interest and offered a $125,000 reward and asked the public for help. And tips, police say, did help lead them to Brownlee.

For weeks, this city has been --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On edge and scared.

WATT: Now, some relief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The suspect's reign of terror in our community has come to an end.

WATT: Relief particularly near where Brownlee was arrested around 2:00 a.m. Saturday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: it's a very scary feeling and he was close to us. I'm so thankful to God that he was caught.

MCFADDEN: He was wearing dark clothing and had a mask around his neck and was armed with a firearm when taken into custody. We are sure we stopped another killing.


WATT (on camera): Now, police in Stockton say this killer liked to strike in areas that were quiet, dark and with very few security cameras. It could be luck but looks like design and a number of the victims were reportedly homeless people.

Now, the suspect, Brownlee, is going to make his first court appearance tomorrow. He will be arraigned in the afternoon and we should hear about charges and maybe a little more about motive -- John.

BERMAN: An enormous potential relief for that community. Nick Watt, thank you for that reporting.

WATT: Yeah.

BERMAN: Inflation is taking a major bite out of infrastructure. Up next, how big projects made possible by a huge funding bill are getting pricier.



BERMAN: And now, on our money lead, despite historic investments like the landmark bipartisan infrastructure law, critical repair projects on roads and bridges are buckling as inflation drives prices up.

CNN's Gabe Cohen takes us to Pittsburgh where President Biden is likely hoping voters will notice the results and not the price tag.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): January 28th, Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge, a mess of mangled steel and icy rubble after a collapse hours before President Biden arrived in the steel city to tell the new infrastructure bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looked like something out of the movie.

COHEN: John Atkinson, a paramedic, treated the victims in that wreckage. Now, he is back to see Fern Hollow Reborn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's amazing to see the progress.

COHEN: This is the bridge eight months later, amid a rapid rebuild.

Crews are finishing the surface, hoping to reopen by year's end. The entire project paid for with $25 million from the infrastructure bill.

CHERYL MOON-SIRIANNI, PENNDOT DISTRICT EXECUTIVE: Had we not have those funds, we could not have started this project. There would be a hole in the ground and we would have removed the existing bridge and maybe waiting to see when we could afford to build a new one.

COHEN: The first funds from the bipartisan bill are making an impact nationwide with nearly $180 billion already allocated. It's not just for highway and bridge repairs like Fern Hollow, but also for airport renovations, public transportation and clean water improvements. It allowed states to begin clearing a backlog of critical projects to get new ones off the ground. In Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is preparing to finally fix this bridge, where nets and shields are keeping decaying concrete from dropping onto a playground and into Stacey Davis's (ph) yard.

STACEY DAVIS (ph), PITTSBURGH RESIDENT: It kind of looms overhead. We keep our eyes on it and we are not sure what is happening.

COHEN: Across town, the first phase of construction is underway on the longest bridge with chunks of steel and concrete falling into a sewage treatment plant. The department said the price is already 23 percent higher than expected.

That is inflation taking a big bite out of the infrastructure bill, with the cost of construction materials up 36 percent in two years, and labor of 10 percent. In Pennsylvania, alone, inflation is eating up close to 75 percent of the gains from the bill which could force officials to delay less urgent projects.

The city of bridges knows the cost of crumbling infrastructure. It weighs on John Atkinson each time he goes to work.

JOHN ATKINSON, PARADEMIC: I would be lying if I didn't think that this could happen again as I'm driving 50 miles across these bridges. I hope this bridge is a sign of things to come for the rest of the bridges that we have here.


COHEN (on camera): And as inflation drives up the cost of these projects, several transportation officials have said the funding from the infrastructure bill has prevented a really dire deficit. John, that official in Pittsburg said without it, they would likely shutting down bridges and they would struggle to keep roads together.

BERMAN: Look, it's work that needs to happen. Gabe Cohen, thank you very much for that report.

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