Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Putin Declares Martial Law In 4 Annexed Regions Of Ukraine; Biden Takes Action To Ease Gas Prices; Judge Orders John Eastman To Turn Over Emails, Says Trump Knew Voter Fraud Claims Were Wrong; Fears Mount For Iranian Athlete Who Competed Abroad Without Hijab; IRS Adjusts Tax Brackets For Inflation, May Lower Tax Bills. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 19, 2022 - 16:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: President Biden's foot is on the gas hoping he can drive to a Democratic victory.


THE LEAD starts right now.

The White House announces a new release of oil from the nation's stockpile, is it enough to make a dent in gas prices? And perhaps as importantly for the president, put the brakes on predicted Republican gains in the midterms?

Then, martial law. Vladimir Putin with that frightening and desperate declaration today in Ukrainian territory that Russia illegally annexed. People in those regions being forced to evacuate. Why Putin is making the move now.

And then, prices up, taxes down. Possibly the one good thing about inflation. That changes you could see in your paycheck, and on your tax returns.


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

And we begin today in our world lead. In just a few minutes, Russian President Vladimir Putin's declaration of martial law goes into effect in four areas of Ukraine illegally annexed by Russia. This, despite the fact that Putin's army does not even have full control over these areas.

And as Russia's campaign to plunge Ukraine into darkness continues, Ukrainian energy officials say they had no choice but to introduce blackouts after losing at least 40 percent of the country's power generating capacity, following days of devastating Russian cruise missiles and drone strikes.

Russian missiles had at least three power stations just today. That is according to Ukraine.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in Ukrainian capital Kyiv where officials are laser-focused on keeping the lights on and continuing their southern offensive.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Ukrainian civilians, now under Russian martial law. In Kherson City, lined up to be evacuated, potentially to Russia. Russian imposed officials and illegally annexed Kherson have told them it's not safe to stay. Up to 60,000 forced out. Boats used to ferry them away from the front line, and their homes, to an uncertain future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I bought extra close for my dog, my other half. My antidepressant.

ROBERTSON: Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of whipping up hysteria, compelling people to leave. Residents received text messages Wednesday morning from the pro-Russian administration.

Dear residents, it read, evacuate immediately. There would be shelling residential areas, by the armed forces of Ukraine. The punishment under martial law for failing to comply unknown. The threat, clear.

KIRILL STREMOUSOV, RUSSIAN INSTALLED DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF KHERSON REGION: I ask you to take my words seriously and to understand them as meaning as prompted evacuations possible.

ROBERTSON: Vladimir Putin is tightening his grip, not just on Kherson, but Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia, the four territories he illegally annexed last month, all under military command.

Ukrainian forces have been advancing through several parts of the Kherson region. In recent weeks, capturing villages and farmlands along the western bank of the Dnipro River. The Kremlin's new commander for Ukraine said Tuesday that the situation in Kherson was far from simple and implicitly hinted, his forces may withdraw.

SERGEI SUROVIKIN, NEW COMMANDER OF RUSSIAN "SPECIAL OPERATION" FORCES (through translator): Our other plans and actions regarding the city of Kherson will depend on the unfolding military and tactical situation on the ground. I repeat, it is already very difficult today.

ROBERTSON: Across the rest of Ukraine, Putin's forces kept up their barrage on the power stations. And despite at least four cruise missiles and ten drones shot down by Ukrainian forces, another three electricity generating plants hit. More Ukrainians denied power and water.

Amidst those dwindling surprise, President Zelenskyy calling a crisis meeting to head off a nationwide blackout. Vowing to keep critical infrastructure up and running.


ROBERTSON (on camera): But the cost of doing that is going to be rolling blackouts for the country officials, saying between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., people to expect less electricity. But Putin may be turning out the lights here, but it is the Ukrainians that are still taking the key commodity, and that's territory -- John.

BERMAN: Yeah, lights for territory might be a trade that Ukrainians want to make this evening.

Nic Robertson in Kyiv, stay safe. Thank you so much.

Now in Russia, following the martial law announcement, President Vladimir Putin is and is warning of increased security risk, declaring a maximum level response of the four Ukrainian territories he annexed. Medium security response in regions inside Russia along its internationally recognized borders, and heightened security response across other and central Russia, which includes Moscow.


CNN's Matthew Chance is there now.

Matthew, what is it like in the Russian capital compared to what you've seen in the past?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is a good question. It does feel a lot tense or that I have seen in the past. You're seeing a lot more police on the streets, a lot more posters talking about the heroes of Russia that are fighting in what they call their special military operation, military posters in other words.

But there's also some other things. You know, anecdotally, he can say that, I am seeing far less, far fewer people in the streets than I would normally expect to see, specifically men. And that I think talks to the fact that a lot of men of military age are either, have left the country. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands we have seen evacuate the country to avoid military draft. Others are simply staying a low profile because there have been countless incidents of people being picked up on the streets by the authorities and drafted straight into the military, so military age men are avoiding that.

I would also say that, you know prices have really shot up here. And that is really important for ordinary Russians. I, mean it is difficult to give you a gauge of how expensive things are here but it is like 70 bucks for a cup of coffee. That kind of thing.

And so that has a massive impact. It shows that the sanctions that Russia is currently suffering under, that have been imposed upon it by much of the international community including United States, are having an impact on the cost of living here which has become very, very high indeed.

Also, John, I'd say that in the past when I have come here, people didn't even think about the conflict in Ukraine, the special military operation. Now there is a definite sense of trepidation that things are not going -- not going Russia's way and that is something that I haven't seen before here in the past several months.

BERMAN: Matthew Chance, great to have you there in Moscow. Thank you so much. Back here in the United States today, a blunt message from former Vice

President Mike Pence. Listen to this.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: There can be no room in the conservative movement for apologies for Putin. There is only room in this movement for champions of freedom.


BERMAN: So this comes after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy defended his comments warning Republicans won't write a blank check to Ukraine if Republicans win control of the House.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): It is amazing to me that that somehow it made news. Wouldn't you want to check and balance in Congress? Wouldn't you want these hardworking taxpayers money, someone overseeing it?


BERMAN: Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger from Illinois joins us now.

Congressman, thank you for being with us.

Do you feel surprised that it made news when Kevin McCarthy suggested that Ukrainian aid may not be as forthcoming if Republicans take until congress?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): No, I'm not surprised at all. We have had very strong bipartisan support for Ukraine, and Ukraine fighting against Russia. What Kevin McCarthy said maybe in his mind he actually did believe that all he was saying is, hey, we want to have some oversight in this.

But what he did was give a really strong, I mean I guarantee you first off our evening friends on maybe a different news network are going to be talking about this constantly. Folks over at Russia are going to be talking about this constantly, on RT. You are giving aid and comfort to the enemy, intentionally or unintentionally. And there are a lot of people, frankly, in the world who are worried about what a Republican majority could do, not because of the majority of Republicans, majority of Republican support Ukraine.

But because if it is a ten vote majority and people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has made it clear that Vladimir Putin is basically some defender of Christianity, has her way, it would be pretty tough to get stuff through Congress.

BERMAN: Do you think that those troops are having it influence on McCarthy when it comes to Ukraine? Oh, for sure. Kevin may not have changed his view on Ukraine, but he is out there trying to sound -- his whole pointing going out and giving that interview is to try to assuage those folks, to try to assuage the intense members of the party that he knows he is going to need to be speaker. Yesterday or two days ago, Marjorie Taylor Greene made an offhand comment about how Kevin wants to make the base happy he's going to have to give her a lot of power in the next Congress. She is actually probably right. That's probably going to be required, for him to win.

So yeah, they are having an influence with him. And I'm not going to be there next year but those that are going to be there the thing kind of normally, if you, will about Ukraine and, Russia probably should speak up right now or they are going to be led around by the wrong people next Congress.


BERMAN: So, today, the Israeli defense minister, Benny Gantz, ruled out sending weapons to Ukraine. Though it will help, Israel will develop Israel's air defense systems. You reacted to this news writing, why is Israel so afraid? Hopefully not because of politics.

So, what politics are referring to there?

KINZINGER: So, look, there is very much Russian influence within Israel in terms of trying to keep coalitions together. Israel claims that they are concerned about the Russian influence in Syria.

But look, here is the thing. Israel is a tough country now. To their credit, I am a huge fan of Israel. I am a huge defender of Israel. And it is time that I think we recognize that Israel needs to be a player on the world stage and some of these things.

When their archenemy, Iran, is supplying some of the main terroristic attacks against Ukraine, it doesn't make any sense to me. I just can't understand how Israel, coming from the history that the Jews came from in World War II, to where we are today, would not be supportive of Ukraine's fight. And I can't think of any other reason except maybe there is a political question or whatever.

I have spoken directly, by the way, to the Israeli ambassador of the United States. I have made my point clear to him personally. And they still haven't seemed to change. Despite that since I talked to him, you now have these drones and these rockets going from Iran to Russia to be used in Ukraine.

BERMAN: I want to turn quickly to January 6 committee of which you remember. Your fellow Republican on the committee, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, says the subpoena for Donald Trump is coming shortly. Can you define shortly? Will it happen by Friday?

KINZINGER: Shortly, I will defend that is soon. That is up to the chairman. It is when he has, when he puts it out. That will be has to announce.

But I think we made it clear that that will be coming. Nothing has changed on that front. And you know, we will see where we go from here. Again, U.S. law is, if you are subpoenaed by Congress, you're expected to come in and speak to us.

BERMAN: Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

KINZINGER: Yeah, you bet. You, too.

BERMAN: President Biden today trying to pump the brakes on soaring brought gas prices. What do you drive down that cost head of the midterms.

Then to Iran where female athletes returned today to a competition where she did not wear her hijab. More on the fears for safety now that she is back home.

And candidate check up. Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman who is still recovering from a stroke response to critics by sharing a doctor's note.



BERMAN: We are back with our politics lead.

Twenty days to go before the midterm elections and President Biden is tackling what could be a major political liability today, gas prices. This afternoon, the president announced he is authorizing the release of an additional 15 million barrels from the strategic reserves for December and he is prepared to do it again in the future if he needs to.

For context, the United States uses about 20 million barrels a day so critics are already wondering how much good this new release will do. President Biden hopes it will calm markets and keep the price of gasoline reasonable. It is worth noting, prices are down over the last week.

As CNN's MJ Lee reports, the timing of this announcement reveals a White House in political triage mode, determined to claw back any advantage it can as voters head to the polls.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are not falling fast enough, families are hurting.

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden announcing his latest move to try to bring down gas prices. U.S. releasing another 15 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve.

BIDEN: Independent analysts have confirmed that drawdown some of the reserves so far have played a big role in bringing down oil prices, bringing them down. So, we are going to continue to responsibly use that national asset.

LEE: Biden, also delivering a stern message to oil companies.

BIDEN: You should not be using your profits to buy back stock or for dividends, not now, not while a war is raging. You should be using these record-breaking profits to increase production and refining. Invest in America, for the American people.

LEE: This announcement, the latest in a string of significant actions taken by the Biden White House this year, to try to keep costs at the pump under control and stabilize global energy prices. Those 15 million barrels are part of 180 million barrels from the strategic reserve that the administration previously announced it would be released over the course of six months.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: There's no question that they are too high. That is why the president is taking every step to bring them down.

LEE: In the final stretch before the midterm elections, White House officials closely tracking inflation and gas prices in particular as a top political concern. The ongoing war in Ukraine, major supply chain disruptions, and OPEC Plus's recent decision to pull back on oil production all contributing to the ongoing volatility in the global energy market. In the U.S., while prices at the pump came down consistently for a stretch earlier this summer, in more recent weeks, again they started to tick up.

The national average gas price today, $3.85. Up from $3.68 a month ago. Those numbers, impossible for Democrats to ignore as they try to minimize their political losses next month. And nine in 10 voters say the economy is extremely or very important to their vote.

Biden on Wednesday, rejecting the suggestion that the latest oil release has to do with politics.

BIDEN: I've been doing this for, how long now? It's not politically motivated at all.


LEE (on camera): These oil relieves have been unprecedented, but there could be more coming. We heard President Biden saying earlier today that he has basically instructed them to be prepared to make future releases if they feel like they become necessary.


He says this is his ready and relief plan. The White House, of course, is also facing some questions about the timeline, how much longer are they going to take these kinds of actions? They are noncommittal for now which is another sign that they do believe that high gas prices could be an issue for the foreseeable future, John.

BERMAN: MJ Lee at the White House, great to have you on THE LEAD. Thank you so much.

I want to bring in the energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm. Secretary, thank you so much for being with us.

Fifteen million barrels of oil from the strategic reserve. That is less than a country uses in a single day. So, how much of a difference will not make?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: Well, if you look at what we've been doing, it's about 1 million barrels a day for the past six months. Yes, we use much more than that. The point is, this is sold on a global market. Everything at the margins helps. And so, we want to increase that supply to try to bring down price and to moderate supply and demand as we move into this winter.

BERMAN: So, bring down gas prices. What do you say to critics who say, this is beyond what the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was really intended for?

GRANHOLM: No, this is wartime footing. The president declared an emergency back in March when we first decided that we would be releasing a million barrels per day. Why is that? It is because Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia is a major oil producer. When they invaded Ukraine, all these countries said that they were not going to accept Russian oil, that pulled millions of barrels off the market.

We also know that the UK, that the EU are taking action again to stop the import of Russian fossil fuels. That may have another impact. We have seen what OPEC has done.

The point is, it's traded on the global market. We are subject to what global actions are doing. But we can't -- we have the biggest supply of any country in the world, which is our strategic petroleum reserve. We have over 400 million barrels in it. And we're going to do what we can to try to stabilize prices in the United States.

BERMAN: So, you heard in MJ Lee's piece, the president called on oil producers here in the United States to invest in oil refineries put money into refineries. But you hear what they say. They say, look, this is a great investment for us over the last few years because of this concerted push to move away from crude oil and things like that. So, how do you convince them?

GRANHOLM: No, I mean, honestly, one of the pieces of the announcement today was a commitment to replenish our strategic petroleum reserve at a price fixed so that their investors in the oil companies can have certainty and confidence that what they produce will be purchased by the United States to replenish the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as one measure.

We know that -- I mean, oil and gas is not going away. We certainly hope that there is a movement to electrify transportation, but we also hope that the oil and gas industry diversifies into energy companies that are more broad than just fossil fuels. We know that we are going to have fossil fuels, we also know that we are going to have clean energy. One of the announcements today that the president made was to invest in the battery supply chain for electric vehicles so that the United States is creating jobs here instead of relying on supply from China.

BERMAN: Talk to me more about that, this investment in the U.S. battery supply chain. How soon and in what ways will American consumers see an impact there?

GRANHOLM: This is so exciting, John, because we all know that we want to be able to bring manufacturing back to the United States. And the president is determined to bring supply chains back here. This is from the bipartisan infrastructural law. It was an announcement of $2.3 billion, excuse me, $2.8 billion to 20 companies, all over America who are building components for those electric batteries that up to this point, were done in other countries.

So, he is bringing manufacturing back to America, good paying manufacturing jobs. It is just the first step on the energy side of all of these announcements that we will be making that really beef up Americas supply chain.

And, by the way, of course, the batteries for the electrical vehicles, if we are able to bring down the cost of electric vehicles by expanding supply of battery manufacturing in the United States, driving down the price of the technology, and the tax credits that were part of the Inflation Reduction Act, meaning that everyday citizens can get $7,500 at the dealer off of a car that's manufactured in the United States, that brings down the price, too.

BERMAN: So, a source tells CNN that that $2.8 billion is going to go to 20 companies across 12 states. I was looking at the list there. I can't help but notice Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada there -- states that happen to have really competitive Senate races. I'm just curious about how you respond to critics who say, oh, this is pretty political, some of these announcements just 20 days before an election.

GRANHOLM: Absolutely not. This is done by the scientists at our national lab, the professionals who are determining which of these proposals have the best chance of being successful in the United States. You will notice that there was none in Delaware.


There was none in Michigan. These are all done based upon the excellence of the proposals.

BERMAN: Yeah, Alabama, Louisiana, there were states -- Tennessee, there were states that did not have Senate races either.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

GRANHOLM: You bet, John. Thanks for having me.

The federal judge today says there is proof that Donald Trump knew the election fraud claims he pushed were lies and wants the evidence turned over to Congress. The details, just coming in, that's next.


BERMAN: All right. This just in, a federal judge says former President Donald Trump knew his claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election were false and is ordering former Trump attorney John Eastman to turn over hundreds of emails to House investigators, calling them communications in furtherance of a crime.


CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us live with much more on this.

Jessica, once again you are pouring over this ruling right now, speed reading. This seems like a remarkable development. What's going on here?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, an 18-page opinion here, John. This is the second time that this federal judge out of California has said that there was some criminal activity that was ongoing between the former president and his attorney John Eastman. What is happening is the judge is mandating the release of these emails from John Eastman to the January 6 committee where Eastman reveals that back in December of 2020, Trump submitted court filings that Trump knew or false. The judge put it this way, he says these emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public.

And the judge went on to say here that these emails must now be released to the January 6 committee in particular because they do show criminal activity, meaning they wouldn't be shielded by attorney client privilege. And namely, the criminal activity that this judge says is conspiracy to defraud the United States here.

So, again, this is reference of likely criminal activity between the former president and John Eastman. The judge previously, John, did mandate the release of other emails, precisely because of this, because of possible evidence of a crime. So, these latest emails, hated all, they will not be handed over to the committee. Perhaps more crucially here, John, this could add more evidence to the already ongoing probes that are happening in Georgia from the district attorney's office, Fanny Willis there, as well as the department of justice which has this ongoing probe of all things January 6th as well.

This now showing that Trump knowingly lied to a court which could prove grounds for some criminal charges if the law enforcement entities choose to go that route, which he knows if they will.

BERMAN: And, again, this judge leading into the idea of the crime fraud exemption, which means that there is no client privilege if you are discussing a crime, if there is a crime committed in that discussion. In theory, that also applies to executive privilege. In theory, it applies to so much of what Donald Trump and his legal team, and his advisors, have tried to assert when they keep their communications private here.

So, how much of a can of worms does this open up for them going forward?

SCHNEIDER: Well, this is the judge that continues to say, Eastman, you cannot keep these emails private. Anything that shows this furtherance of criminal activity, it is not shielded. So, it has to go to the committee. By opening up these emails to the committee and handing them over, this also, presumably, could be given to these law enforcement entities like the Georgia D.A., like the Department of Justice. They will now be seeing these and will have further grounds to further investigate and possibly make criminal charges here, John.

BERMAN: All right. Jessica Schneider, as always, terrific work. Thank you so much for being with us.

With me now, former special assistant to President Biden, Michael LaRosa, along with CNN political commentator, S.E. Cupp.

And this news just came in a few minutes ago, this judge saying that Donald Trump knew his claims about the election were lies and that they were part of a conspiracy, the furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Michael, your reaction?

MICHAEL LAROSA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: In the context of the midterms, the more we are talking about dollar Trump, the better it is for Democrats every day. This reminds people of everything that they've -- this reminds people why they voted against him. This reminds independents why they voted against him. So, if you are on the fence and you are debating whether to vote or not, the more you hear about Donald Trump, the more likely you are to make this a referendum about the party and president out of power, which is a party in power, which is very unusual.


S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I mean, I think Republicans knew the second Mar-a-Lago was searched and all of this was going to be in the news that more Donald Trump is bad for the party and bad coming into elections. Look, it's not a crime to lie to the public. We know that Donald Trump has lied to the public, but it is a crime to lie in court.

BERMAN: And when a judge says it, it tends to have more consequences --

CUPP: For sure.

BERMAN: -- in a political debate stage or whatnot.

Moving now to the midterms, you both have brought them up. New data shows that nearly 2.5 million Americans have already cast their ballots early votes for the midterms. That is the highest turnout that would tie with 2018, which would be the highest turnout in decades, or tied for highest turnout in decades. What can we read into this? Who doesn't give the advantage to? CUPP: Yeah, our polling has shown for a while now, really since Roe

was overturned, that both enthusiasm and intensity towards this election is high, record high, historically high. I think Roe had a lot to do that initially.


I think the economy has edged that up a bit too.

And, look, that benefits, you know, one party versus the other. Roe certainly benefits Democrats, I think the economy benefits Republicans. I would add a crime to that pile as well. Among a lot of voters, fear of losing our democracy and fear of voter suppression is a top priority that benefits Democrats.

So, I like to say that we won't know until we know.

BERMAN: Right.

CUPP: We won't know until exit polling why people vote the way they do.

BERMAN: What do you think is going on here?

LAROSA: The number that startled me was the second day in Georgia. It was bigger than the presidential early vote the same day in 2020. That is very hard to do, midterm vote turnout to match or overrun a presidential vote turnout in early voting. Democrats tend to do or outperform Republicans in early voting. That's what happened in 2020 and 2018.

But I think, S.E. is right, the Supreme Court has given Democrats a reason to turn out. We will see.

BERMAN: More voting happens to be good for democracy, period. Whether it's good for one party or another, it is relatively immaterial. John Fetterman, running for Senate in Pennsylvania. Of course, he had a stroke, he released a medical note from his doctor says that he has no work restrictions and no cognitive deficits.

This of course, he has faced questions about his recovery. Hasn't released his full medical records yet.

Is this enough to assuage critics?

LAROSA: I don't think he needed the note, to be honest with you. The guy is a political athlete. One of the best ones I've ever seen. He is pure talent, he looks and sounds and acts like the state of Pennsylvania, similar to like a Tim Ryan, right?

He is traveling all over the state of Pennsylvania and having -- if rallies are a measurements of enthusiasm like the former president is to measure, this guy is holding rallies all over the state with huge numbers. He gave NBC and "The Today Show", I think he gave them 45 minutes. Oz gave them 15. This guy has shown that he is more than capable of doing the job. CUPP: I mean, I was concerned when I watch the NBC interview, I think

it is uncontroversial to say that we should ask questions. I was concerned that he wasn't going to debate, we know he is now. Next week, that's good.

I am reaffirmed, reassured, I mean, by this doctors note. I believe doctors. I think it is right to ask these kinds of questions of all of our candidates.

LAROSA: Yeah, for sure.

CUPP: I don't think it makes you biased to do so.


CUPP: But I take this as a clean bill of health.

LAROSA: It says he can do the job.

CUPP: Yeah.

BERMAN: All right. I want to play a commercial that is being run by the Democrats for Senator Raphael Warnock in Georgia. This may surprise you and some of the language it uses. Listen.


AD ANNOUNCER: Things work surprising well together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pizza with pineapple.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: French fry and frosting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raphael Warnock and Ted Cruz?

AD ANNOUNCER: That's right. Raphael Warnock partnered with Republican Ted Cruz to extend I-14, connecting military communities in Texas and Georgia which will help create jobs from Columbus to Macon to Augusta.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): I'm Raphael Warnock and I'll work with anyone if it means helping Georgia.


BERMAN: Now, I can't say with certainty that Ted Cruz has never appeared in a Democratic Senate ad before, but I can't remember it. Why?

CUPP: Well, don't get me started on pineapple on pizza, that is the most controversial part of that ad.

I don't know what the benefit of naming Ted Cruz is if you are a Democrat in Georgia. I might have just said, has worked with Republicans, will work with Republicans. Ted Cruz is reviled. I think, you know, for plenty of reasons. I'm not sure that is who I would have name-checked in my ad. BERMAN: Michael, you hate Ted Cruz if you are a Democrat?

LAROSA: I think -- this is the second ad he is run touting his work with a Republican. The other one was with Tommy Tuberville. He has a long list of working with Republicans in the Senate. John Kennedy --

CUPP: Another good one.

LAROSA: No, I know, but what it says to me, it sounds like they're going after independent voters.

BERMAN: Really?



All right. Bernie Sanders, hitting the campaign trail, eight-state swing to rally for candidates ahead of the election. This is what he told "The New York Times" in an interview.

I'm a little bit concerned that the energy level for young people, working class people is not as high as it should be.

Michael, the Democrats have this complicated relationship with Bernie Sanders over the decades. Does this help?

LAROSA: No, I don't think it helps. I would -- he would not be the surrogate I would call on. I know he's coming to Pennsylvania, Fetterman is not. He won't be with John Fetterman. He is not necessarily coming for these candidates. He is coming to get out the vote like he said.

But if you -- I saw some of those states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida. Joe Biden beat him by 20 to 30 points in those Democratic primaries.

The other problem for Democrats is, shedding this character that Republicans are very good with tagging them as socialists and that has a lot to do with Bernie Sanders.


In Miami-Dade County, Biden did 20 points worse than Hillary as a result of this messaging from Republicans on socialism.

CUPP: I don't know that Bernie Sanders is in danger of losing Democratic voters. I think he's going after specific voters. He could bring out some new voters, I think in this, if you are a Democrat, you need all the help, bring in all the troops. Bernie Sanders speaks to a wing of the Democratic Party.

BERMAN: Michael, S.E., twice in one day, nice to see you again. Thank you both very much.

An Iranian athlete who broke Islamic law by competing with already had covering, now back home, she gave reasons why and apologized. Is that because she fears for her life?


BERMAN: In our world lead, fresh alarm for the safety of an Iranian rock climber who completed abroad without wearing her hijab. Her brother defended her to a state-aligned news agency, saying his sister is, quote, a child of Iran and she will always play wearing the national team's uniform.


It's unclear if he made those comes under duress.

CNN's Nada Bashir has new details on her apology and her return to Iran.


NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A hero's welcome amid a storm of controversy. Elnaz Rekabi's return to Tehran may have drawn crowds of supporters, but was her appearance without a hijab or head covering at a climbing competition in South Korea which drew the spotlight.

ELNAZ REKABI, IRANIAN ROCK CLIMBER (through translator): The situation happened entirely accidentally. The struggle that I have with wearing my shoes and preparing my gear it made me forget about the proper hijab that should've had. I apologize to the people of Iran and for the turbulence and worry that I created for them.

BASHIR: The pro athlete's words reentering an earlier apology shared on her Instagram page, though some human rights organizations have expressed concern that Rekabi may have been speaking under duress and could still face repercussions at home.

The International Federation of Sport Climbing, however, says it has received clear assurances that she will not suffer any consequences and will continue to train and compete. Rekabi's return from Seoul comes amid ongoing protests across the country, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who died in the custody of Iran's notorious morality police after she was detained by wearing her hijab incorrectly.

Women and young girls have been openly defying the regime's conservative dress code, the Iranian rock climber has so far refrained from publicly voicing her support for the movement. She has become another symbol of defiance for those protesting for change. Prompting fears that she could be used by the regime to set an example to other women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just can't let it go, unpunished, because they know how crucial it is to maintain this barrier of fear among people.

BASHIR: Nada Bashir, CNN, London.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Nada Bashir for that report.

Inflation is taking a lot out of your wallet, but it could be putting some money back to. Up next, how change that the IRS is making will impact you.



BERMAN: In our money lead, inflation may be pushing prices up but it could also seen mean more money in your wallet. The IRS is announcing a change to your federal income chance brackets which could mean you will be paying less to Uncle Sam starting next year.

CNN's Matt Egan has the details.

Matt, you know, how much money can Americans expect to save in taxes?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, John, normally, these costs of living adjustments by IRS don't really amount to much. The changes are pretty subtle.

But, today, inflation is so high that they have to make the sweeping changes. Let's start with the standard deduction which is what most people claim. That is going up by 7 percent. In context, that is the most since the cost of living adjustments were introduced in 1985 under Ronald Reagan.

For individuals, that means the standard deduction is going up to almost $14,000. That is a 900-dollar increase. At the same time, we are seeing the rates, the income threshold, that is also gone up by 7 percent.

For example, if you are single filer, you made $90,000 in 2022, that is up 24 percent. If you still make $90,000 in 2023, you actually go down to the 22 percent rate. So, you are getting taxed at a smaller amount. Same story for joint fillers.

A reminder, these changes do not take effect until 2023. This won't help you on the tax returns that you filed this coming April. Still, John, this is a bit of a silver lining for inflation because it does mean less money going to Uncle Sam, more money staying in our pockets.

BERMAN: Right, 18 months from now you will feel this. I guess you will start feeling it withholding in January.

EGAN: Yes.

BERMAN: But it could be some real money for people there.

New jobs and mortgage reports coming out tomorrow, what do you expect to see?

EGAN: Well, you know, it is going to be this mixed picture, right? The jobs market is still very strong. New numbers on initial jobs expected to show that layoffs remain relatively uncommon. Yes, some anecdotal evidence of some companies laying off workers, but it's not really showing up in a big way that would signal an ongoing or an imminent recession.

On the other hand, mortgage rates have gone up very sharply. The most recent report, we saw that the average 30-year fixed rate is now at 6.9 percent. Some context, that is the highest since April of 2002. Now, thankfully, most borrowers, they have a fixed rate, they are not impacted by this.

But, if you are in the market for a new home, you want to trade up to a different home, this is going to make it that much harder because the higher mortgage rates go, the last home you can afford.

And, John, again, this all goes back to inflation. Mortgage rates are up because the Fed is fighting inflation by raising rates. We are seeing that play out big time in the housing market.

BERMAN: All right. Matt Egan, thank you very much for that. And we'll be right back.



BERMAN: All right. Breaking news just in. The U.S. Capitol Police have arrested three people from Georgia on weapons charges after police found them with two fire arms. This is according to a law enforcement source. The incident took place on the 100 block of East Capitol Street, an area between the U.S. Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. The source tells CNN that a suspicious vehicle raise concern among police and a bomb squad is assessing the vehicle.

Stay with CNN for more information on the situation which obviously is developing.

And be sure to tune in for "CNN TONIGHT" with Jake Tapper, he will be talking midterms and the economy with New Hampshire governor, Republican Chris Sununu. Plus, the man behind "Bridesmaids", "Ghostbusters, ATC", and a new film on Netflix, director Paul Feig. He sits down with Jake. That's tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Right here on CNN.

You can follow me on Twitter @JohnBerman or tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen on wherever you get your podcast.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer who is in "THE SITUATION ROOM".