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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Second Woman Claims Herschel Walker Pressured Her To Have Abortion; Fetterman, Oz Spar In Contentious PA Senate Debate; Kremlin: Griner Prisoner Swap Can Only Be Negotiated Quietly; Sources: McCarthy Working Behind The Scenes To Smooth Over No "Blank Check" To Ukraine Comment; Clashes In Iran As Thousands Gather To Mark 40 Days Since Mahsa Amini's Death; Police: St. Louis Gunman's Family Says He Had History Of Mental Illness; GOP & Dems Ramp Up Efforts To Win Latino Voters. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 26, 2022 - 16:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: How much do debate performances matter? We're about to find out.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The day after the heated debate in Pennsylvania, how John Fetterman struggles after a stroke were going over with voters. Plus, the brand new ad attacking Mehmet Oz and his awkward answer on abortion rights.

And they got him therapy, tried to take his gun. But still, it was not enough. A family's actions before a gunman's rampage in a school with a rifle and 600 rounds of ammunition.

Plus, new protests in Iran mark 40 days since a woman died in police custody accused of violating the country's dress code. Could this be the start of a revolution?


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

We'll get to a follow-up in that Pennsylvania debate ion just a moment, but first, a bombshell new report in our politics lead. A second woman has come forward claiming that Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker of Georgia pressured her to get an abortion. The woman is not revealing her identity out of fear of reprisal, she says. Her attorney, Gloria Allred, helped lay out her claims a short time ago.

CNN's Eva McKend is live in Atlanta for us.

Eva, what else are we learning here?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yeah, John. We are getting incredible detail from this woman who says she wishes to remain anonymous. Essentially, she had a year's long relationship with Herschel Walker, dating back to the 1980s. It was in 1993, shortly before the end of their relationship, when she said that he personally ensured that she get an abortion. This happened, according to her, in the state of Texas.

That she learned she was pregnant. He drove her to the abortion clinic and ensured she get an abortion. She initially went without him and did not go through with the abortion. She told him this, that she was not comfortable with it.

Then Walker, the next day, took her to the abortion clinic and ensured she had the abortion. Took her to receive medication soon after that. She then left Texas soon after saying that she was so traumatized.

She says she has seen Walker deny the allegations from the other accuser and specifically that he never signs his letters with the letter H. She says he, in fact, sent her letters with the letter H. But ultimately, she argues that Walker is not morally fit to serve in the United States senate. She also says that this is not politically motivated, saying she's a registered independent and voted for former president Donald Trump twice. But feels, I think, so motivated to come forward due to seeing Walker take this hard line anti-abortion position, but says that in her -- in his personal life, he took a very different position -- John.

BERMAN: Eva, has Walker responded to these new allegations?

MCKEND: Yeah, so a short time ago, Walker wrapped up a rally in Dillard, Georgia. And he again called these accusations a lie, like he has past accusations. He dismissed it, sort of making a joke saying, I didn't kill JFK either, shortly after that. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said these allegations are akin to the one used against Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was -- shortly before Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

So, Walker strenuously denying this -- John.

BERMAN: Our Eva McKend for us in Atlanta -- Eva, please keep us posted.

Just 13 days to go now until election day, nearly 12 million Americans have already cast their ballots. Candidates on the campaign trail eager to earn your votes. If you live in a state with a critical Senate or governor race, good luck trying to watching TV. Candidates and political groups plan to spend tens of millions on ads over the next two weeks.

A brand new spot in Pennsylvania features one liners from last night's contentious Senate debate between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz. Some voters tell CNN the faceoff was hard to watch, the sometimes halting performance from Fetterman shows he is recovering from a near natal stroke earlier this year.

As CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports, the debate also gave voters a mostly clear look at where their candidates stand on critical issues like abortion and energy policy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The spotlight on Pennsylvania intensified a day after a debate between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz sharpened the stakes in the battle for control of the Senate.

JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I had a stroke. He's never let me forget that.

ZELENY: The question is not what Oz thinks of his rival.

MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Obviously, I wasn't clear enough for you to understand this.

ZELENY: But whether voters believe Fetterman has sufficiently recovered from a near deadly stroke in May and should be elected to a six-year term in Washington.

JAN WELSCH, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I don't think he has recovered from the stroke.

ZELENY: Jan Welsch was watching the debate closely Tuesday night and said she found Fetterman's performance embarrassing.

WELSCH: I had questions about Oz earlier. But after listening with him against Fetterman, it's definitely Oz.

ZELENY: But Craig Bischof said he was turned off by what he saw as Oz picking on Fetterman.

Do you think he is healthy enough?

CRAIG BISCHOF, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: Yeah. He gets healthier every day. He's coming a long way. The stroke is a hard thing to get over.

ZELENY: In one of the nation's tightest Senate contests, stark differences in style and substance may well reverberate for the final 13 days of the race with crime, energy and abortion rights among the issues at the center of a bitter duel.

OZ: I want women, doctors, local political leaders leading the democracy that's allowed our democracy to thrive to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves.

ZELENY: Today, his advisers told CNN Oz believes the federal government should not play a role in abortion policy in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe versus Wade.

OZ: Pennsylvania deserves better than Fetterman.

ZELENY: At a campaign stop, Oz talked about crime, not abortion, and did not address his line about local political leaders which Fetterman immediately seized upon in a new ad.

OZ: Local political leaders.

AD ANNOUNCER: Oz would let politicians like Doug Mastriano ban abortion without exceptions. Even in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother.

ZELENY: As Democrats try linking Oz to Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor.

But it was Fetterman's own shaky performance --

FETTERMAN: My doctors, the real doctors that I believe -- they all believe I'm ready to be serve.

ZELENY: If dominated the post-debate discussion, stirring alarm among Democratic leaders from Pennsylvania to Washington, where the slim hold on the Senate is at risk. With the help of closed captioning to accommodate for lingering effects of his stroke, Fetterman not only struggled to prosecute his case against Oz but also on fracking, a critical force of energy jobs here. In 2018, he said this.

OZ: I don't support fracking at all. And I never have.

ZELENY: And on stage Tuesday night, he struggled to explain how his views have evolved.

FETTERMAN: I do support fracking. I don't -- I support fracking. And I stand -- and I do support fracking.

ZELENY: The debate opened a new round of discussion about Fetterman's ability to serve, which is now likely a central question in the closing stretch of the race.

DEANNA REITZI, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I think I was expecting it, but not to that degree. He slumbered a lot and it was -- it was very painful.


ZELENY: Now, Fetterman supporters are lining up here in Pittsburgh to see him campaign here tonight with the Dave Matthews Band. And the Fetterman campaign telling us, they raised $2 million off of the debate. They plan to put it on the abortion ad.

But, John, the question in the 13 remaining days of the race, did the debate set the tone? Is there an opportunity for undecided voters to choose him or for others to change their minds? John?

BERMAN: All right. Jeff Zeleny for us live in Pittsburgh -- Jeff, great to see you. Thank you.

I want to bring in Karen Finney for her insight. She was the senior advisor and spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's campaign.

And, Karen, we wanted to talk through someone who has been through tough moments in campaigns. I'm not really looking for spin about whether it was bad for Fetterman or not. For those who do think it was bad, right, what would you do on the Fetterman campaign now to fix this?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think he has got to spend the next 12 1/2, 13 days talking, again, reminding voters again where he stands on critical issues and, frankly, underscoring something that as you know, John, I also have personal experience with, from my own health situation, which is, just because he didn't do great in the debate last night, that doesn't mean he isn't perfectly capable of serving in the Senate. And so, he's got to reassure the voters of Pennsylvania that, you know, simply because he has some issues that require the closed captioning, that doesn't mean his brain -- that his cognition is in any way, shape or form not stellar, as his doctor said, and it would preclude him from being able to serve and carry out his duties.

BERMAN: So, you address it head on? Would you make a statement on the stage tonight at this rally? Do you do an interview?

FINNEY: Sure. You sure can. I mean, you can -- I think you can do a couple of things. Number one -- let's remember, they also, from the debate -- they are doing this very wisely.

[16:1 0:01]

They got Oz -- Oz made a huge gaffe in the comment which you played in the opening about abortion rights. That is -- that's literally one of our talking points here that we don't want any politicians in the exam room. They have to do a couple of things. Number one, they should stay on offense on that point. I believe that clip has gotten 5 million views so far. And, sure, talk about it tonight in his event. Talk about in all of his events.

I mean, the other thing is, sometimes we fall down and we get back up. There are probably a lot of people who respect the fact that he got up there and he did something that was really hard. He was willing to show himself while he is still healing.

And again, I think as long as he continues to show that he is absolutely capable of carrying out his duties, take that concern off the table. Part of the way you do that is remind voters the contrast, the difference between himself and Oz.

BERMAN: Karen Finney, thank you for that insight. Appreciate it.

FINNEY: Thanks.

BERMAN: Let's discuss now with our panel. John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst.

What do you think of what Karen said there? What she said at the beginning was address it, talk about it.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You can't hide from it. It's out there. That was the risk and the virtue of that debate. A lot of candidates hide from debates. John Fetterman didn't.

But it was hard to watch. He is far from being the candidate he was before his stroke. So he has got to own it, which he effectively did last night. I don't think that debate helped him. But it was transparent to the voters and that itself is important. There's no running away from this. You got to lean into it and say,

look, the man I was before my stroke, I will be again once I heal. And then trust that the voters believe that and see that and understand that.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I think that's right. He has done long-form interviews that journalist, if you look at Kara Swisher's podcast, for an hour, he sat to talk to her, she suffered from a stroke so she has views about it as well. This all needs to be out there for Pennsylvania voters to decide. There's no constitutional health requirement to be a U.S. senator. The only requirement is that the voters think that you are fit for office and enough of them vote for you.

BERMAN: I mean, it's out there. People saw it. His performance was worse than it was in the interviews with Kara Swisher or with NBC. Some of the things that Democrats are saying is, not that many people watched the debates live. I had one Democratic strategist tell me, by tomorrow night when the World Series starts, no one is going to be talking about this.

Wishful thinking, Mara?

MARA S. CAMPO, HOST, "RUN TELL THIS" PODCAST: I think it's wishful thinking. You mentioned other interviews. How widely heard or seen were those other interviews compared to this debate? And I think the problem with the debate is that it raised too many questions.

So, to Karen's point, is this an issue of comprehension or was this an issue of verbal recall? You know, the Democrats would like to say, no, this is just about verbalization. But there are a lot of people who are now saying, well, does this speak to his ability to perform the duties now but also, how honest has his campaign been up to this point? and those are questions that a lot of voters have to be grappling with right now.

BERMAN: I will be curious to see if he comes out on the stage at this rally where Jeff is and talks about it. Karen says maybe he should.

Look, I want to talk about what Karen also brought up, which was abortion, what Mehmet Oz said about abortion, that the decision should be between, quote, a woman, her doctor and local political leaders. Democrats have put out an ad. Let's watch.


OZ: Local political leaders. Local political leaders. Local political leaders.

AD ANNONCER: Oz would let politicians like Doug Mastriano ban abortion without exceptions. Oz is too extreme for Pennsylvania.


BERMAN: How salient is that? Will that break through after Fetterman's debate performance? HOOVER: That's exactly what they need to be doing because we know that the overturning of Roe v. Wade is the single most mobilizing issue for Democrats. This is a numbers game in Pennsylvania. It's going to be, can you get more Democrats to the polls to vote for Fetterman than you can Republicans and independents to vote for Oz? It's all numbers. And that ad catalyzes votes.

BERMAN: All right. Let's talk about another key Senate race. It's Georgia, we heard Eva McKend, the report. Gloria Allred has a client, an anonymous client coming forward saying that Herschel Walker also drove her to get an abortion. John, the impact of now a second story. Walker denies it I should say.

AVLON: Walker denies it. Look, it's doubling down on what is one of many of Walker's weaknesses, but a real core contradiction for his evangelical supporters. You know, it's late in the election for another woman to come forward. But it just makes it more difficult, I would imagine, for many evangelicals to say, you know what, I will accept this.

The argument they make is, person -- party over person. He is flawed but he will vote for Mitch McConnell. And we'll see how tenable that is if this is kind of hypocrisy.


CAMPO: Yeah, I do think that it's ultimately going to come down to that. With swing voters, it could have, you know, some impact. But there are a lot of people who are just strictly voting on party lines because they know the balance of the Senate hangs in their vote.

And so, this is not necessarily a new revelation, because we heard from so many other women. Part of the appeal for Walker in that space was that he was such a superhero that they thought he was going to be a draw and people could overlook some of the issues there.

BERMAN: The most crass political terms, though, or two claims any different politically than one claim?

HOOVER: Yes. Two claims are worse than one. One, you can always sort of leave a question mark out there when it's one. When it's two, it's more lethal. I mean, it's not just independents and straight party lines. A lot of the reason Joe Biden ended up winning Georgia is because conservative Republican leaning men actually ended up going to the polls and voting for Joe Biden and not Donald Trump. So, there's all sorts of people who may just not show up.

BERMAN: Let's go for three Senate races. Let's go to Arizona. Blake Masters, the Trump-endorsed candidate for Senate. I guess Fox was doing a documentary and they captured footage of Donald Trump calling Blake Masters and telling masters that he has to lean more into false claims of election fraud. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT (through telephone): If they say, how is your family? She says the election was rigged and stolen. You'll lose if you go soft. You're going to lose that base.



BERMAN: So, what he is saying is Kari Lake, the gubernatorial candidate there, is talking about false claims, but he is not doing it enough. John, that's a pretty crazy moment.

AVLON: It's insane. It's incredibly important to hear it in real terms, look, because this is the shakedown. This is the intimidation game that Donald Trump is playing with candidates. If you do not lie for me, if you do not echo my lies, you will be seen as weak and you will not turn out the base.

It's the appeal of a mob boss and a cult leader, that kind of an appeal. And the fact that he fell in line speaks enormously to the politics driving the far right.

HOOVER: Can I say, should this put to bed this notion whether Donald -- this question about whether Donald Trump is running in 2024? If he cares about Arizona and how 2022 handles the two key states, Arizona and Pennsylvania, that he's relying on next time around, this should just put to bed, the man is clearly running.

BERMAN: John, Margaret, Mara, great to see you.

CAMPO: Good to see you.

BERMAN: All right. We have new reporting this hour from Capitol Hill and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly on clean-up duty. What sources say about his blank check to Ukraine comments is not sitting well with members of his own party.

Plus, two major interviews, one from a Ukrainian, one from a Russian, both with different takes on Vladimir Putin's plans.



BERMAN: Topping our world lead, quote, we got him back. That moment of relief and a tearful phone call to CNN from the father of 24-year- old Joshua Jones, an American killed this summer while fighting alongside the Ukrainian military in eastern Ukraine. He is one of five Americans killed in Ukraine since the start of Putin's war.

CNN's Clarissa Ward witnessed the transfer of Jones body after Ukrainian and Russian officials met in Zaporizhzhia region. She will join Jake Tapper from Ukraine on "CNN TONIGHT". That's at 9:00 Eastern.

Now, overnight in Ukraine, the security service says a Russian missile strike killed two people after it blew up a gas station in central Ukraine. One a gas station attendant, the other a pregnant woman burned alive in her car. Further south in Kherson, Russian officials have encouraged more than 70,000 people to leave as both sides prepare for a fierce front line battle.

I want to bring in CNN's Nic Robertson in Kyiv.

And, Nic, you spoke with Ukraine's chief of defense intelligence. What did he tell you about Russia accusing Ukraine of possibly using a dirty bomb?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: He thinks this is Putin's psychological pressure, not just on Ukraine, but on Ukraine's Western allies to pressure Ukraine into getting into peace talks with Russia but on his terms. He is rejecting any sense of peace talks until Russia gets out of Ukraine back to 1991 lines and rejecting wholly President Putin's allegations that Ukraine is developing a dirty bomb.


GEN. KYRLO BUDANOV, UKRAINIAN CHIEF OF THE DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE (through translator): This is a question that became something of a joke. My answer is direct. We are not getting prepared. We are not working on a dirty bomb.

ROBERTSON: Ukraine invited the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to come here. When are they due to arrive? Where will they go? And when do you expect their results?

BUDANOV: We are absolutely supporting the visit of the IAEA mission. We are waiting for them. We are waiting for them to visit all nuclear facilities.


ROBERTSON: His assessment is actually that his assessment is actually that Putin doesn't want to take this to nuclear conflict. This is all posturing on Putin's part. But, of course, the question mark in everyone's mind, does he cross a line?

BERMAN: Yeah, look, those are dangerous question marks to have, too.

Nic, separate subject. What are Russian officials saying after Brittney Griner's rejected court appeal?

ROBERTSON: Yeah, this was something that was put to Dmitry Peskov, President Putin's spokesman at the Kremlin. He declined to give comment about that district court's decision not to change her sentence. He did say that any conversations about Brittney Griner and the possibility of prisoner exchanges is something that needs to be done in secret, silently, not out in the open.

Look, there's one thing that Russia wants here. It wants the war over. It wants it over on its terms. So anything that it can do behind the scenes to leverage to that position, it's going to try to do.

This is why they don't want to wash the laundry in public, if you will. It wouldn't be the first time the United States engaged with Russia in a process about prisoners being held by either side. But this is entirely different. The stakes for Russia are so high right now.

BERMAN: Nic Robertson for us in Kyiv -- Nic, stay safe.


Back in the United States, new reporting just in to CNN. House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, we're told, is desperately working behind the scenes to assure national security leaders that a Republican-controlled House would not abandon Ukraine aid. This after McCarthy told "Punchbowl News" last week, there would be no blank check to the embattled country.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is live for us on Capitol Hill.

Melanie, so what did McCarthy mean?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, sources tell me he reached out to some defense hawks concerned about these comments that were made. He said his comments about Ukraine no longer getting a blank check from a Republican majority were essentially taken out of context. He said it's not Republicans is going to stop providing a check, but they won't give a rubber stamp to whatever the Biden administration requests in terms of aid.

But just the fact that McCarthy had to soothe these concerns inside his conference really show the fine line that he is walking between the isolationist pro-Trump wing of his party and the more establishment wing of his party. Frankly, his comments reflect a political reality. There's a small but vocal group of isolationists in his party, and they're only going to get louder if they're in majority.

BERMAN: Melanie, how are national security officials planning on working with Republicans if they gain power?

ZANONA: So, my colleagues Jeremy Orb, Katie Bo Lillis and Kylie Atwood were part of this great reporting.

What they found were that GOP defense hawks have already started strategizing over how they are going to work with the isolationist wing of their party and try to convince new and skeptical members to continue letting aid and resources flow to Ukraine. One way they will do that is through an educational campaign. And a key part of that strategy is leaning on Trump era national security officials such as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to try to make the case to these members.

There's also talks about holding hearings on Russian war crimes to remind people what is happening on the ground. But so far, GOP defense hawks feel like they are going to prevail. They know they have their work cut out for them. And so, that is why you are seeing them start to lay groundwork now, John.

BERMAN: Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill, part of this all star reporting them, bringing us this news. Thanks very much, Melanie.

ZANONA: Thank you.

BERMAN: An attorney for former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows plans to appeal a court ruling issued today that would force Meadows to testify to a grand jury in Georgia investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election results there.

The Fulton County Georgia district attorney subpoenaed Meadows to learn more about phone calls, meetings and emails he was a part of that pushed unsubstantiated fraud allegations. The D.A.'s office says it has offered several dates in November for meadows to testify.

Next, 40 straight days of protests in Iran. Can their messages really change the ways of a powerful regime trying to crack down? I'm going to speak next with someone who knows the region well.



BERMAN: In our world lead, Iranian security forces fired tear gas at protesters gathered to mark 40 days since the 22-year-old Iranian woman died after being detained by morality police for failing to observe the country's conservative dress code. Her death sparked protests throughout the country.

Today, the U.S. is announcing a slew of new sanctions against Iranian officials for their brutal crackdown on the nationwide demonstrations.

And as CNN's Nada Bashir reports, some are calling the demonstrations the beginning, perhaps, of a revolution.


NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The final resting place of Mahsa Zhina Amini, a place of mourning and now of protest. Amini's name has become synonymous with a movement those posing the biggest threat to the Iranian regime in years, sparked in the wake of the 22- year-old's death while in the custody of Iran's notorious morality police, detained for allegedly contravening the country's strict dress code.

But now, as the Iranian people commemorate 40 days since Amini's death, a significant marker of mourning and remembrance, it has grown to become far more wide reaching than its initial call for women's rights. As more and more protesters take to the streets demanding regime change.

Amini's death is now remembered alongside a growing list of women and young girls who have lost their lives at the hands of Iran's security forces, though, authorities deny responsibility, disregarding the mounting evidence of the regime's brutal and deadly crackdown on protesters.

TARA SEPEHRI FAR, SENIOR IRAN RESEARCHER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: We have air paint ball guns, shotguns with metal or plastic pellets and also instances of use of assault weapons, assault rifles, Kalashnikov-style weapons, or even handguns that have been documented.

BASHIR: This in addition to the mass detention of hundreds, if not thousands of protesters.

Six weeks on, however, and the movement isn't losing steam. With protests gripping the universities and high schools and strike action by teachers, business owners, factory workers, even oil refinery workers, the backbone of Iran's economy.

The call for a full and for regime change is growing louder.



BASHIR (on camera): And, John, it is remarkable to see these protests continuing despite the crackdown. Human rights groups have raised concerns over the rising death toll reports of mass detention of protesters. The U.N. now calling for an independent international investigation into the crackdown by the Iranian security forces. But despite that, the demonstrators are still taking to the streets every single day -- John.

BERMAN: Nada Bashir, thank you so much for your report.

I want to dig deeper now with CNN's chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour.

And, Christiane, these protests do pose one of the more serious challenges to the Iranian government since the 1979 revolution. Forty days in, they are going strong. I want to ask you a similar question to what I asked you on day one of the demonstrations. Is this a genuine existential threat today to the regime?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You know, it's a really hard question to answer. The answer really, according to most analysts, is no, not for the moment. We don't know how it's going to proceed. We do know these are -- as we have been saying -- unprecedented demonstrations, not just in the duration, but in the demographics of who are taking part in them.

It's not just one group of society. It's really across the board, old, young, men, women, religious, traditional, and more liberal and reform-minded. And this is what's really different. And what you have is a regime that is teetering on not knowing what it should do. Should it actually unleash all the might of the security forces and do a lot more damage and kill a lot more people and injure more people and arrest a lot more people than they already have? Or have they got to try and manage it?

Because they know the regime that in every household, including in the religious households, including in the households of the government ministers and the like, including of the Revolutionary Guard, in the Basij, there are young girls and women, mothers, sisters, daughters who are joined in this struggle. This struggle is exceptional because even the law enforcement is saying that the average age of those who have been arrested so far are girls of around 15 to 16. I mean, that's an incredible statistic. It's happening in schools.

Every day now you see this gorilla protest starting up -- they're not massive. They're not tens of thousands on one corner. They're not hundreds of thousands, but it's happening in every school where young girls are challenging government spokesmen who come to calm them down.

So, it's a daily irritant to the regime. They have a very strong desire, these women, for change.

BERMAN: The women and girls are showing enormous courage, enormous, no doubt about that.

I want to turn to Putin's war on Ukraine. The concern is Russia is looking for a pretext to escalate the conflict and maybe use a nuclear weapon. You spoke to the Russian ambassador to the U.K.

What did he tell you about this?

AMANPOUR: Well, look, John, it's really difficult to get any official Russian voice to talk about this. We try and we try and we try. So, today, I did manage to get an interview face to face with the Russian ambassador.

And this, of course, comes as the Russians took to the U.N. yesterday to accuse the Ukrainians in their words of trying to plot a dirty bomb. You know, America said this must be a false flag and they warned Russia not to use this as a pretext to escalate. This was part of the conversation.


AMANPOUR: Is Russia trying to escalate this war?

ANDREY KELIN, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED KINGDOM: First of all, in his conversation, I mean, that Minister of Defense Shoigu, he assured every minister once again that we are not going to use nuclear weapon. And there was no single statement neither by the president or responsible guys, I don't know if the journalists are, of course, talks on the television. So, Russia is not going to use nukes. So, it is out of the question.

AMANPOUR: And your president said that, too?

KELIN: He never mentioned a possibility of using it.

AMANPOUR: But he has.

KELIN: But speculations --

AMANPOUR: You know, he's raised veiled threats. It worried everybody.

KELIN: No. There are speculations and allegations and issues that are trying to be, because no (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP) AMANPOUR: John, very important what he said. Of course, Russia did say they weren't going to invade, and then they did. But nonetheless, it's very important. And also he said that the Russians are going to dig in over the winter. And we know that this is still a big issue around Kherson, for instance. That major city, the only one they have managed to occupy. They plan to defend.

BERMAN: Christiane Amanpour, thank you so much for sharing your reporting with us, night time in London, appreciate it.

Next, there were warning signs and actions taken before the deadly high school shooting in St. Louis. What the teen gunman's family is saying about him after he reportedly claimed in a note he lived an isolated, loner life.



BERMAN: The family of the 19-year-old gunman who killed two people and wounded several others this week at his former St. Louis high school, the family knew he had acquired a gun and with police help turned the weapon over to another adult before the shooting. That's according to the St. Louis police commissioner who says they are still investigating how the teen got the gun back. The family also told authorities they got mental health treatment for him several times. He was pronounced dead at the scene after a gunfight with authorities.

CNN's John Miller is with me now.

And, John, we always talk about warning signs. I mean, the family stepped in, had the gun taken away. The family got mental health for him, treatment for him.

So, given all of this, where was the failure?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I mean, the failure is any time all of the signs are there and the event occurs despite that. So, we'll call it a failure. But casting blame is the hard part, John, because families struggle with children with mental illness.

They tend to rely on, what do the experts say? The police tell them, we'll get the gun out of the house.


We'll give it to another relative, step one.

The mental health professionals say, you know, we have evaluated him and don't think he is an immediate danger or he can stay home. We have seen this before in the Buffalo supermarket shooting by a young white supremacist.

He had put on his high school goals page to be a mass murderer. State police were called. They questioned him. They turned him over to a mental health facility. Forty-eight hours he was out and went back to his plan.

BERMAN: Police recovered the notebook of the shooter. Inside the notebook, the killer wrote that his family didn't know anything about his plans. Still could, should the family have done more?

MILLER: I think the family is in a very tough position. But if you look at Jen Crumbley and her husband from the shooting in -- school shooting in Michigan, Oxford school, they are in jail serving time because the signs were there. They gave their son access to firearms and not access to mental health treatment.

So, this is becoming a real issue. Right now in Uvalde, not on the criminal side, but the civil side, people are suing the police, the chief of police and the principal of the school and the gun manufacturer because it takes a lot of factors to make one of these things happen. And people demand accountability.

BERMAN: How much of an issue will it be about how he got the gun back?

MILLER: So that is a bull's eye question, which is, if it was given to a relative, an uncle or somebody else and they said we are giving you this because we think this kid is imbalanced or dangerous, and he gave the gun back knowing that, if that was the gun, that could be a criminal problem, not just a civil problem, as we learned from the Crumbley case.

BERMAN: And, John Miller, one of the things you told me is that 80 percent of the times these mass shooters tell somebody before it all happened, we all need to try to do more when we hear these things.

John Miller, thank you very much.

A once almost guaranteed vote, now nowhere close. And in 2022, the fight to win over this voting bloc looks a bit different. We'll show you, next.



BERMAN: To the western battleground states of Nevada and Arizona now, as CNN's Kyung Lah reports, polls may show Latino voters there lean towards the Democrats but Republican candidates are closing the gap.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the battle for the Latino vote in the West, these Las Vegas union workers are the foot soldiers for Nevada's incumbent Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak.

How critical is Latino turnout for you?

GOV. STEVE SISOLAK (D), NEVADA: Well, Latino turnout is going to be huge. They are energized. You can tell by the enthusiasm you saw on the room. They are knocking on doors. They're going to keep doing on doors until we hit November 8th.

LAH: In recent elections, about one in six Nevada voters were Latino, a pivotal voting bloc in the West, and a group especially hit hard during the pandemic with job losses and now inflation.

All while Democrats like Governor Sisolak were in charge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really appreciate it. Thank you.

LAH: These canvassers are hearing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most right now is the rent, the high prices of cost of living.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please join me in welcoming Blake Masters.


LAH: That presents an opportunity for Republicans in this year's midterm elections. In Arizona, where Latinos have made up nearly one in five voters in recent elections -- Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters is forging into Democratic territory.

By opening field offices in predominantly Latino neighborhoods.

BLAKE MASTERS (R), NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: People are sick of this? You make energy expensive, you make everything expensive.

LAH: Masters' economic and social message resonates with voters Cynthia Hernandez.

CYNTHIA HERNANDEZ, VOTER: They used to (ph) I'm Catholic and a Democrat because I'm brown-skinned. And, you know, I'm not Catholic and I'm not Democrat.

ARTURO VARGAS, CEO, NALEO EDUCATIONAL FUND: What we've seen in some Republican strategy is they've been investing over years in trying to reach Latinos. So maybe now they're harvesting what they sewed.

LAH: Arturo Vargas with the Naleo Education Fund says especially in the west, Latinos are a swing voting block. Donald Trump made gains with Latinos in 2020.

In 2022, while polls show Latinos still favor Democrats -- Republicans have closed the gap compared to past elections.

One area where the GOP still lags far behind the Democrats is Spanish language advertising. Democrats are spending more than 10 times as much as Republicans in the Nevada and Arizona Senate races setting new records, targeting Latino voters.

And like the entire electorate, Latinos will need to be won over to turn out.

VARGAS: My message to Democrats, if you want to earn the Latino vote, you better get out there and hustle. LAH: Hustle.

VARGAS: Hustle.


LAH (on camera): In Nevada, as well as here in the state of Arizona, we are seeing closing messages targeting Latinos, almost on a daily basis. There is an event focused on Latino turnout.

And, John, the message always the same: focus on the economy -- John.


BERMAN: Those very much in play. Kyung Lah, thank you very much.

Next, the danger flagged on a product usually bought to keep your home clean and safe.


BERMAN: In our money lead, you may have to pour some of it down the grain. Clorox is calling and asking consumers to dump 37 million bottles of Pine-Sol cleaner. They may contain a potential harmful bacteria which has a name nobody but a scientist can pronounce.

Here's what you really need to know. If you have original pine scented Pine-Sol, no problem. The recall involves Pine-Sol lines of multi- surface and all purpose professional cleaners. They come in various colors and scents. Pine-Sol has set up a special website where you can apply for a refund. has much more information if you need them.

Clorox has a website where you can apply for a refund.

So, you can follow the show on Twitter @TheLeadCNN. I'm John Berman on Twitter. If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen wherever you get your podcast.

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