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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Nancy Pelosi's Husband Battered With Hammer In 2 A.M. Break-in; Obama To Campaign For Warnock, Abrams In Battleground Georgia; Biden, Harris Aim To Boost Fetterman Key PA Senate Race; Cheney Launches Arizona Ad Targeting GOP Election Deniers; Cheney Launches Arizona Ad Targeting GOP Election Deniers; Musk Now Owns Twitter After Months Of Trying To Get Out Of $44B Deal; Hundreds Of Thousands Without Power Due To Russian Attacks; Ukraine: Kherson "Tense" With More Russians Than Locals On Streets; DHS Bulletin: Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Heightened Threat To Midterm Elections; Tightening Senate Contest In Ohio, New Hampshire. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 28, 2022 - 16:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The husband of the House Speaker viciously attacked in their home. THE LEAD starts right now.

Nancy Pelosi's husband beaten with a hammer. The suspect allegedly assaulting him even as the police arrived. The new details coming in, including how police knew to respond to the Pelosi home and the suspects twisted stolen election thoughts pushed online.

Plus, the attack underscores the alarming number of threats to U.S. lawmakers and their families. How much is the current political climate to blame? And 11 days out from Election Day and the big names hitting the field late in the game that may signal concern about midterm victories.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman in for Jake Tapper. And we do begin with a national lead and right now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rushing to a San Francisco hospital to be with her husband who was viciously assaulted overnight. Police say, 82-year-old Paul Pelosi was attacked with a hammer after a man broke into their home. The Speaker was not there at the time. Her office says her husband is expected to make a full recovery.

CNN reports the intruder shouted, "Where is Nancy" during the attack and also tried to tie up Paul Pelosi to wait for the Speaker to arrive. Ahead, how police knew to respond to Pelosi's home. But first, CNN's Whitney Wild with new information about the suspect who CNN has learned posted about January 6 and 2020 election conspiracies.


CHIEF WILLIAM SCOTT, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE: Our officers observed Mr. Pelosi and the suspect both holding a hammer. The suspect pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it. Our officers immediately tackled the suspect.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul Pelosi hospitalized after a violent attack with a hammer in the San Francisco home he shares with the Speaker. Sources telling CNN, the 82-year-old is recovering tonight after the man broken through the back of the home.

SCOTT: This is an active investigation.

WILD (voice-over): Sources tell CNN, the intruder shouted, "Where is Nancy?" when he confronted her husband. The assailant tried to tie up Paul Pelosi until, quote, "Nancy got home." Sources also tell CNN that when San Francisco Police arrived, the assailant said he was, quote, waiting for Nancy. Police looking the alleged suspect on a list of crimes.

SCOTT: Attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary, and several other additional felonies. The suspect has been identified as 42-year-old David DePape.

WILD (voice-over): A review of the suspect's social media shows multiple posts about conspiracy theories such as links to videos produced by "My Pillow" CEO Mike Lindell claiming the 2020 election was stolen. Speaker Pelosi was in Washington at the time of the attack, and sources say there was no protective detail at the home. Her security team is robust but doesn't protect family members when she's away.

A spokesman for the Speaker said Paul Pelosi is expected to make a full recovery. Now, the FBI is on the ground at the Speaker's residence along with the United States Capitol Police and the San Francisco Police Department.

SCOTT: The motive for this attack is still being determined.

WILD (voice-over): Investigators also trying to determine how this crime unfolded. Sources tell CNN U.S. Capitol Police have a feet of security cameras at the home and caught the attack on video. FBI Director Christopher Wray recently told CNN, he sees a trend of people settling scores with violence. And that is becoming all too normal.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: There are way, way too many people who are willing to take their ideological, social or political grievances, perhaps very earnestly felt and manifest them through violence. And in our system, there is a right way and a wrong way to express when you're angry or upset about something.


WILD: John, over the last two years, threats to lawmakers have extended to their families. And this includes Representative Adam Kinzinger. In an interview Friday with my colleague Zach Cohen, Kinzinger told CNN that he received a threat directed to his family and directed at his young child when he brought these concerns to Capitol Police. He tells CNN he was essentially told, get in line. Back to you. BERMAN: All right, Whitney Wild for us in Washington, thank you.

I want to bring in CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel. Jamie, your first report the shocking details including the suspect shouting, "Where is Nancy?" before the attack, what else are you learning now?


JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So first of all, we've just learned from a source familiar that Speaker Pelosi is enroute to California, and that all five of the Pelosi's adult children are also on their way. We've also been told, John, that Nancy Pelosi actually was able to speak to her husband this morning. This was after the attack before he went into surgery.

Our understanding is that he was taken into surgery shortly after that, that he is -- that the surgery -- we're just getting preliminary details, but that the surgery involved injuries to his head. That said, as you reported, and as Whitney said, Drew Hammill, the Speaker's spokesman has said that doctors have assured the family he will make a full recovery.

But let's keep in mind, this was a very violent attack. The assailant hit him multiple times with a hammer. And I think it's just a chilling reminder, we have been talking since January 6 about the dangers of violent rhetoric. We don't know the whole motivation here. But clearly, this assailant was looking for Nancy Pelosi. There is some political connection here. Words do matter, John.

BERMAN: And, of course, you reported he was saying, "Where is Nancy?" once he was inside that home. Jamie Gangel, thank you for your reporting. We'll let you get back to the phones. Keep us posted if you learn anything new.

GANGEL: Thank you.

BERMAN: I want to turn to CNN's John Miller and Abby Phillip. And John, you've got remarkable new details about how police got worried that something was happening?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So this starts to unfold at some point in the early morning hours when the defendant who's charged here gets in the house and encounters Mr. Pelosi. And Mr. Pelosi can tell this guy's unhinged, this is going bad. So somehow, he gets on his cell phone and dials 911 surreptitiously, and he leaves that line open. It may be in his pocket, maybe on the table.

But at that point, Heather Grimes, an Emergency Dispatcher at San Francisco Police -- yet this happens all the time. You get a call. There's no voice on the other end of it. Hello, hello, 911. What's your emergency? And sometimes you disconnect. But she's sensing something there's a conversation going on in the background. She's sensing something isn't right. So she listens in, turns up the volume.

And Paul Pelosi is basically trying to tell her in code what's going on. Why are you here? What are you going to do to me? I mean, you can imagine how he's trying to not let the the attacker know that 911 is listening, but he gives enough information. So she puts out a priority a wellness call.

A wellness call is very common. I haven't heard from my Aunt Sally in a week, could you go check on the house. This is a something's going on right now that's not right in the house. So they go code three and Kobe Willens (ph), the first officer, his partner, Kyle (ph), comes through the door.

And Pelosi apparently is still trying to keep this down by playing off, you know, as the police come in, what's going on. Then he goes to, you know, grab the hammer, and are 6'2", 250-pound assailant hits him in the head as the officers are crossing the room. All of this is on body camera. And, you know, eventually in some criminal proceeding may come out.

BERMAN: Remarkable that Paul Pelosi and this dispatch officer likely saved his life or could very well have saved his life with their quick thinking. John, you're also -- you're telling me, authorities are going through the digital background of this attacker, what have they found?

MILLER: So as our reporters have told us from what they've seen, a lot of political posts -- but he doesn't really comment or get into the politics of it. And he's posting a lot of things. It's just reposting things by other people. But most of the things where he holds forth are religion related. He subscribes to the Gnostic religion, not agnostic -- gnostic, which believes that religion lives within you, a lot of criticisms against the structure of the church, the Catholic Church, and so on.

And then in March, he goes dark. You know, we lose him on Facebook. He ends up in fourth channel, but then off there. So one of the things they're going to be looking for is that he switched to other social media. Was there a stressor in his life? Is that when he became unhinged?

BERMAN: Abby, I want to bring you into this discussion because as we've been reporting for several hours, Jamie Gangel was first to report this assailant said, "Where is Nancy?" when he was inside that house. And immediately, people, people like you who are recovering January 6 as it was happening, remember that people during the insurrection were saying almost exactly the same thing. There were chants of, "Nancy, Nancy" as it was going down.


The January 6 committee played this video during their hearings. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no escape Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler. We're coming for you. How about that Pelosi? You go, you might as well make yourself another appointment. When I get done with you, you're going to need a shine up on top of that bald head.


BERMAN: And as John Miller has been reporting, there's still new details that need to come out. They're still investigating here. But Abby, this is the very type of thing that so many people including you were worried about that day and immediately after.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, look, the truth is, is that violence has been a part of our politics for a long time. But what is happening now is that you have people who maybe they're unhinged, maybe they are down a rabbit hole. They are finding comfort in these conspiratorial, false, really unhinged views in the highest places in our society, in political leaders.

And I think that is where these two stories come together. You cannot tell one without the other. They -- it used to be that those people were over there. The -- you know, the 911 truthers, they were over there. Now, I think those people are feeling very comfortable out in the open. And it's really a question right now about whether enough people in our politics but particularly when it comes to some of these conspiracies, the election conspiracies, we know that he had, you know, perhaps shared some of these videos from the "My Pillow: CEO who is at the center of some of these conspiracy theories, whether it's on COVID-19, those conspiracies are coddled on the right.

And I think that has to just be said. It's not to say that there isn't violence that occurs on the left. But the question is, are enough people in positions of power, saying that those views don't have a place in the center of our political sphere? And I think that's where we are as a country. That's why this is so dangerous, a moment that we are in as a nation.

BERMAN: How do you think this may hang over the next 11 days until the midterms?

PHILLIP: Well, it is certainly in the atmosphere. I think that everyone in this cycle is very much on edge because you have a voting happening, you have people casting mail-in ballots, you have people showing up at ballot boxes, armed, watching other voters. The atmosphere of threat is out there. And I do think that if the temperature is going to be taken down, the political leaders have to be the one to do it. And so far, I just don't see a lot of that happening, particularly among Republicans who just don't see any need to push back on the election conspiracies in particular.

BERMAN: All right, Abby Phillip, thank you very much. John Miller, thank you for all your new reporting.

As Abby was saying, members of Congress have faced increasing threats of violence for years now, especially recently. A New York Times report shows since 2016, there's been this 10-fold increase of violent threats against lawmakers soaring to more than 9,600 last year, that's according to U.S. Capitol Police.

Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan. Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us. What a day. What was your reaction when you first heard about this attack?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: Well, my first reaction was that Paul was going to be OK. It's been a friend for decades. We were spouses together before I became a member. But, you know, my next thought, I'm going to be very blunt. It's not a new message for me. The fear and hatred that is dividing us, pitting us against each other in this country is a real and present danger to our democracy.

And I don't want to see this against anybody. And it isn't Democrats that this is just targeted at, its targeted Republicans, Democrats, far right, far left and local level officials. School board members are wearing bulletproof vests to meetings. This is a real danger, and it's got to stop.

BERMAN: And you've been a target of threats yourself, correct?

DINGELL: I have been. I mean, far before January 6, I mean, I think it sort of began after President took some -- made some strong statements about me. But when I said that men didn't belong at the State Capitol in Michigan with the assault weapons, which occurred before January 6 publicly, I had men outside my home that night with assault weapons. And it's just -- it's not OK.

The kind of threats that my staff get, but other members are getting them. I know -- I guess I should -- we can't normalize it. We cannot normalize that in this society. But I get really worried because I'm talking to good people of all parties.


There are nonpartisan that just believe in their community and they are afraid to become more engaged or to speak up or run for local offices because of what we're doing to each other. We've got to stop -- we can disagree. We can disagree with each other, but do it in agreeable way with civility and respect and dignity.

And social media, which was supposed to bring us together has become this anonymous form that allows vitriolicness, bulliness anybody to say anything, bleep mistruths, our democracy is in trouble and I am worried about it. This has to get addressed. And again, it's got to come from within. Communities, people of faith, people who are just engaged in their communities have to say enough, this isn't OK.

BERMAN: Violence can't be a partisan issue. Violence is a safety issue. Violence is an existential issue. I want you to listen to Virginia Governor, Republican Glenn Youngkin, who was at a rally today, how he reacted to the attack.


GOV. GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA: Listen, Speaker Pelosi's husband, they had a break-in last night in their house and he was assaulted. There's no room for violence anywhere, but we're going to send her back to be with him in California.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: How do you assess how he handled that?

DINGELL: I wish that he had been a bit gentler. I'm not going to attack anybody today, because that's what we keep doing, is attacking each other. But, you know, I must say to you that when I was attacked a couple of years ago, even Kevin McCarthy defended the things that were said. Steve Scalise spoke up, Mitch McConnell -- Mitch McConnell was very clear today that this was not OK.

And I think every public official -- and I am not pointing fingers at any party -- I think that there's enough vitriolicness coming from everybody on certain days that every elected public officials got a responsibility to stand up to violence, to try to bring down the temperature and to make it very clear that what happened today, but what's happening every day in our communities with people being pitted against each other, isn't OK.

BERMAN: Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, we appreciate you being with us. I feel like I have to say this to every member tonight, stay safe.

DINGELL: Thank you. You stay safe. Everybody needs to stay safe.

BERMAN: Ahead, the alarming links between threats to lawmakers and conspiracies pushed online. Will the new owner of Twitter, Elon Musk, spearhead any change? But first, talking about reading the room. Democrats seeing another possible shellacking on deck and calling in Obama himself 11 days before Election Day.



BERMAN: In our politics lead with just 11 days now until Election Day, Democrats are calling in their closers. Former President Barack Obama is campaigning in a series of battleground states including a stop today in Georgia with Senator Raphael Warnock, whose critical Senate seat Democrats hoped to hold. And in Pennsylvania, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will make a pretty rare joint appearance tonight as they seek to boost Senate hopeful John Fetterman.

CNN's Jessica Dean is in Philadelphia ahead of that event. But I want to start with CNN's Jeff Zeleny in Atlanta, where Obama is set to speak in about an hour. You know, Jeff, midterm elections were never really a strong suit for Obama. I feel like David Axelrod is going to run into the studio right now and push me, but they -- you know, Obama didn't do well, in the midterms. He just didn't. So what do they want -- what do Democrats want him to provide today?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, he's in good company in terms of presidents not faring well in midterm elections. He called it a shellacking back in 2010, lost 63 seats in the House. But the whole reason he is here in Georgia, and is going to be campaigning over the next week is to try and avoid the same fate for his friend Joe Biden. So look, first and foremost, what Georgia Democrats want the former president to do is simply get people out to vote. And one more week of early voting here, already 1.3 million people have voted early, one in five registered voters in the state of Georgia. But that means many have not. And there's only one more week of early voting.

So the former president here there's a long line, you can see it forming behind me, but it goes on blocks and blocks and blocks. And what's happening in that line right now, people are going through it, asking people if they voted, encouraging them to vote early. So what Barack Obama is now a post-president, a celebrity, but he's an organizing tool for the Democratic Party.

He's going to be used to help get people to the polls. He'll be going to Michigan, Wisconsin tomorrow, Nevada on Tuesday, and I'm told will likely be closing next weekend in Pennsylvania. John?

BERMAN: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much. I want to go to CNN's Jessica Dean in Philadelphia, where President Biden and Vice President Harris will soon appear. Jessica, what do Democrats need from this joint appearance in Pennsylvania?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They need Kamala Harris and Joe Biden to really rile up the base of this party in this Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia. If you're a Democrat running statewide in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you need giant turnout out of Philadelphia and out of Pittsburgh.

And so, to that end, we saw President Biden here last week. We are seeing him here tonight. We're likely to see him here again before this is all said and done. We know that Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for Senate here will be here with him tonight as well. So they certainly are hoping to fire up the base here. This is a dinner for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. So a very friendly crowd here tonight.

And just interesting to note, John, Biden's connection to Pennsylvania, of course, it's where he's from, Scranton Joe, we all know that story. My colleague Kevin Liptak reports this is his 19th trip to Pennsylvania since he became president. And as someone who followed him during his campaign for president and the run up to the election, he was here, we were here all the time.

Pennsylvania is really where his political fortunes have -- can really rise and fall. It was certainly the case in 2020, where it turned out to be an incredibly pivotal state for him. And it will certainly be that way in 2022. It's very likely that whoever wins this race, this Senate race will determine who controls the Senate. And again, what Biden might be able to get through Congress. So, all eyes on this state and the President, and the Vice President who will be here tonight.


BERMAN: All right, Jessica Dean, Jeff Zeleny, thanks to both of you. I want to discuss further now. Look, the campaign trail is one thing today. I think over shadowing everything is what has happened to the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I've seen both of you attacked viciously online before. You've both been called horrible things online before. What do you make of what we're now seeing played out?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's horrifying, but it's also the natural outcome of what happened on January 6, in the aftermath, the fact that one party, my party decided not to grapple with rising political violence, rising extremism in our country, and just hoped that we could kind of sweep it under the rug and move on. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention, there's been political violence in the past against the right as well.

But this feels like a, you know, a boiling point that we need to be taking more seriously. And even as we're speaking, well, most figures are coming out in, of course, condemning what happened. A lot in the right-wing media are saying, oh, no, no, this guy was actually a leftist. This is not about his political viewpoints. This is not about him being a QAnon subscriber or an election denier.

Those just aren't the facts. We have to get out of this place where we're in two Americas where the facts never aligned with each other.

NAYYERA HAQ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's interesting how Californians get demonized on the right, but you can apparently, you know, exercise and yoga and like chia seed and still be sway and subject to right- wing conspiracy. So this crosses past the idea of the partisan boundaries that we have been familiar with, and instead is becoming a deeply problem of American -- the time we're in in America, right?

This is a political violence that we have seen overseas when I was at the State Department as a diplomat. We used to condemn this type of act in other countries. These are the types of protests we'd see everywhere else, and we'd feel better about ourselves. Now we really need to recognize that political violence is an American problem.

BERMAN: All right, let's talk about campaign season, 11 days to go. Former President Obama in Georgia today campaigning for Raphael Warnock. There was this moment, caught on microphone yesterday between Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden in New York, where President -- where Chuck Schumer sort of gave Biden the prospects for what's happening in Georgia. Listen.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MAJORITY LEADER OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE: The state where we're going downhill is Georgia. It's hard to believe that they will go for Herschel Walker.


BERMAN: Right. What's really hard to believe is these two seasoned politicians don't know there's an open mic almost everywhere right now. But beyond that, Nayyera, how are Democrats feeling about Georgia? HAQ: Listen, they're bringing out the big guns. They're -- anybody who is a Democratic president facing a midterm election is concerned about losing a majority. And Obama, as we mentioned, lost both the House one year, the Senate the next year. I called it the shellacking, and he is out there on the campaign trail as somebody who was the last president, 2008, who got a suburban advantage for the Democrats.

So suburban voters are key right now. He can help turn that out. You've got Bernie Sanders out there also trying to bring out that, you know, union lefty vote. This is going to be about the economic message that these two men can deliver that President Biden has not been believed about yet.

BERMAN: You've got Barack Obama, you've got Bernie Sanders, you got Liz Cheney? Liz Cheney, now out there campaigning for Democrats putting her money behind Democratic candidates in Arizona, supporting Katie Hobbs in the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State. Listen to an ad she's funding here.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I don't know that I have ever voted for a Democrat. But if I lived in Arizona, I absolutely would. You have a candidate for governor, Kari Lake, you have a candidate for Secretary of State, Mark Finchem, both of whom have said that they will only honor the results of an election if they agree with it. And if you care about the survival of our republic, we cannot give people power who will not honor elections.


BERMAN: What's the voting group that gets revved up by Liz Cheney in Arizona?

GRIFFIN: I think that's going to be independents and moderates. I mean, this is a state that despite being very red elected, you know, Kyrsten Sinema, it may elect Mark Kelly, I think that this is actually extremely powerful. She's putting her money where her mouth is, it's about 2024.

She knows Arizona with Kari Lake as governor and with Finchem as Secretary of State, would be one of the states that would try to challenge election results, if it's a Donald Trump again, or somebody else who decides they're just not going to admit their loss in the case that they lose. So I think it's wise.

She was also interesting in Michigan, she's backing Elissa Slotkin, which that was -- that's not even against an election denier, but they served together on the House Armed Services Committee. I think she's showing that she wants to see a more moderate country, political atmosphere that we're in, where people can work together, where the extremism on both sides is diminished. And I think it's the right move.

HAQ: It's also a recognition again, of the political violence that has come up around what's quoted as voter fraud. Arizona is one of the states that has filed a lawsuit against a group that has encouraged mule trackers and to have tailgating parties is essentially armed militia members standing outside of voting booths making sure, in their minds, that everybody who votes is legally voting.

This is voter intimidation. The lawsuit said that this is a violation of the Voting Rights Act, of the Ku Klux Klan Act. This is happening in Arizona, the same state where Liz Cheney is now trying as a Republican to bring people back there.

BERMAN: Nayyera, Alyssa, great to see both of you. Thank you so much. Have a great weekend.

Next, the tweet today from Twitter's new CEO Elon Musk that may signal his plans for Donald Trump's suspended account.



BERMAN: We are back with our tech lead. Twitter is officially under Elon Musk's wing. Since the billionaire took control last night, he fired the company's three top executives to whom he now has to pay out nearly $200 million, according to a source. He's left thousands of employees in the dark tried to reassure Twitter's advertisers and in Musk's signature, snarky style, sent a few cryptic tweets.

I want to bring in CNN Correspondent Donie O'Sullivan and CNN's new Media Contributor Sara Fischer. Sara, give us the, you know, the tweet length version of how this $44 billion deal went down.

SARA FISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, John. So this is probably the worst time to deal ever. Elon Musk offered to pay $44 billion for Twitter back in April. At the time, the company was valued at around $30 billion. So already it was a massive premium. Then the markets began to take a turn for the worst. Elon Musk tried to back out of the deal blaming bots, Twitter sued, Elon Musk countersued.

And when a Delaware judge began to side with Twitter on a bunch of legal filings leading up to the lawsuit, ultimately, Elon Musk saw the writing on the wall, and he conceded before he could be defeated. And now he is the owner of one of the most influential public discourse platforms in the world. And he overpaid a lot for it.

BERMAN: As the owner of the company, he didn't want a few weeks ago, and now he's laying a lot of people off at said company.

And Donie, just a short time ago, Musk tweeted this, quote, "Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with wildly diverse viewpoints. No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes." So, is this just translation for Trump isn't coming back anytime soon?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think so. I think it's translation for Musk, trying to distance himself maybe a little bit from all these really, really difficult decisions, right, that he's going to have to make. I joked that this, you know, running a social media platform like this may not be rocket science, which we know Elon knows a lot about.

But, I mean, it's extremely difficult. Every day, there are thousands, tens of thousands of content moderation decisions to be made. I would be surprised if Trump were not allowed back on the platform, given Musk's statements on this in the months leading up to this deal. But, of course, we will see what this council of experts that he says he is pulling together.

Facebook has done something similar with setting up their oversight board, which is also kind of viewed as a way of Zuckerberg distancing himself from some of the most controversial decisions that have to be made.

BERMAN: Donie, very quickly, you know, given this horrific attack on Paul Pelosi today, online rhetoric is certainly front and center. What does a Twitter experience with less moderation look like?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, I mean, I think, obviously, we saw the suspect was allegedly posting about conspiracy theories and things like that. But I would say that, that there was an interesting point in the letter that Musk sent to advertisers, where he said, we need to have a space where both the left and the right can come together.

And after January 6, when we saw a lot of people, including Trump suspended from platforms like Twitter, many people went further into echo chambers of platforms where only -- they only had people that agreed with them.

BERMAN: Sara, a lot of talents been laid off in the last 20 hours, does this leave Twitter rudderless?

FISCHER: Well, in the short term, yes. My sources have told me that there have not been any, you know, meetings that have been put on the calendar with Musk's team yet. No, all staff. We're expecting one next Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time. But until then, employees are mostly left in the dark.

And John, what's so interesting about that is that in the next few days, there's a lot of questions about stock. You know, employees, they own a lot of this company, some of them are set to actually get pretty rich. And so they have questions about what that means for them. They have questions about their roles. Are they going to have jobs?

And right now, everyone is in the dark. In fact, I'm hearing from employees that they're learning about what's going on inside their own company, ironically, right now, through Twitter.

BERMAN: Thank you both very much.

Right now in Ukraine, the emergency moves happening to save every bit of electricity as Russia keeps humbling power stations.


[16:43:43] BERMAN: The war in Ukraine tops our world lead. There was a lot of attention on the city of Kherson. It was the first regional capital Putin's forces captured after February's invasion. There's also the country wide problem of no electricity because of ongoing Russian attacks.

CNN's Clarissa Ward in central Ukraine. Clarissa, what is the situation there tonight?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the situation is going from bad to worse honestly, John. Today, we heard from Kyiv's Mayor Vitali Klitschko, he describes the Kyiv of electricity situation as an emergency. He says there's a 50 percent electricity shortage and the people need to stop using any extra electricity. They're telling people to turn off heaters, to turn off lighting, anything they can.

They've even told people Ukrainians who moved overseas early on in the war not to come back this winter because the situation is so bad. The energy minister of Ukraine describing it as energy genocide. And Russia's former president, Dmitry Medvedev saying that they would solve these problems relatively quickly if Ukraine would be willing to negotiate. But at this stage, it does not appear that Ukraine has any interest in negotiating and they're saying they can make the needed fixes to the grid in the next two to three weeks if there are no more huge attacks, John.

BERMAN: Yes, Russia attacking the energy grid because Ukraine refuses to be occupied.


I want to turn to Kherson, the city in the south which a Ukrainian official describes as tense, the situation there, with more Russian soldiers on the streets than locals. What are they expecting there?

WARD: Well, initially, there have been some hopes that there could be potentially withdrawn Kherson because we saw the Russians pulling out all their civilian administrative faculties. But now what we're hearing from Ukrainian authorities is that there are actually somewhere in the region of 1,000 mobilized Russian soldiers who have been deployed now in Kherson. They are putting up defensive positions and essentially preparing for a big battle there. So what once was seen as a sort of promising sign that potentially there will be withdrawal is now being seen as the likely site of the next big battle in Ukraine, John.

BERMAN: All right. Well, Clarissa, thank you for being there and watching it for us. Stay safe.

Ahead, the warning we're just getting in about election security ahead of the midterms in just 11 days. And this heads up tonight, Jake Tapper will speak with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the threats that he has faced himself as a public figure. That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern. We'll be right back.



BERMAN: This just in, a new warning about the threat from domestic violent extremists to the midterm elections is coming from the Department of Homeland Security. Let's go straight to CNN's Jessica Schneider. Jessica, what are you hearing?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this is a joint intelligence bulletin being put out by Department of Homeland Security, FBI, National Counterterrorism Center and U.S. Capitol Police. And they're saying that these domestic violent extremists do pose a risk in the period before leading up to and after the midterm elections.

So crucially, that's a period we're in right now. And these threats of violence will extend this bulletin says even beyond Election Day on November 8. So what this bulletin is saying that these threats of violence could incorporate elected officials, election workers, even candidates. And they're saying with spring, all of these threats are the perceptions still that the 2020 election was rigged or stolen.

And then enduring perceptions of those false election fraud claims, as well as what they say, are new or emerging perceptions of fraud undermining the integrity of these elections coming up here. So this bulletin is warning of this potential of violence by domestic violence extremists.

And what's interesting here is it's really coming after a cascade of warnings that we've seen over the past week. In fact, it was just earlier this week that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that he had heard from many election workers worried about their safety. The FBI also has briefed sheriffs' associations across the country saying that misinformation could also fuel violence.

And then of course, John, just yesterday, we saw the NYPD talk about this elevated threat, no particular threat, but they're saying overall, all this misinformation, disinformation and concerns about the validity of the election could, in fact, spur violence before and after Election Day. John?

BERMAN: The times we are in. Jessica Schneider, thank you very much.

With the elections coming up, two key races you don't want to sleep on in the next 11 days. That's next.



BERMAN: In the politics lead, a heads up about a couple of U.S. Senate races not getting as much national coverage but are well worth your attention. CNN Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten has been looking at what you might call sleeper races in New Hampshire and Ohio. Let's start with New Hampshire, Harry? HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, let's start a New Hampshire, right. I mean, Maggie Hassan running for reelection. You take a look at the forecast there. And, you know, if you looked at the beginning of the month, she was up seven points. Now you look, she's up only four there.

Some Republican national groups who kind of left in saying, hey, maybe we should come back in, maybe Don Bolduc actually has a little bit of a shot here. Obviously, Hassan still ahead, but it's definitely a race that I'm still watching, John.

BERMAN: So the margin there has squeezed and maybe even getting closer. Let's talk about Ohio. Republican J.D. Vance, a Democrat Tim Ryan, where do things stand there?

ENTEN: Yes. So this was a race. You know, you think about Ohio. Donald Trump won there by eight points back in 2020. And you'll look at the polling there right now and what do you see, you see a very tight race. This is a Siena College poll that was out just a little bit over a week ago and look, tied, tied. It's not the only poll that has that race tied. There's a number of polls, a Marist College poll had that race within a point.

But I think here's the whole thing, John, why I'm worried about those Ohio polls and why maybe I don't believe them. Take a look at the last few cycles. How much better did the GOP do than their final Ohio polls. 2014 Gov, that GOP outperformed by 10 points. 2016 Pres, the GOP outperformed by six points. 2018 Gov, the GOP outperformed by six points. And 2020 Pres, the GOP outperformed by seven points.

Now, we obviously won't know if the polls are off this year until obviously the vote happens. But I think there's this whole thing going through my own head of, I don't want to get fooled again.

BERMAN: As to who might say. Listen, speaking of sleepers, the World Series starts tonight, and I think it's fair to say that back in April, not to mention like June, July, August, September, nobody predicted we would see a Houston-Philadelphia World Series. What do your numbers say about this?

ENTEN: Yes. My numbers told me that I didn't even know that baseball was still going on, John, because as far as I'm concerned, the baseball season ended when the New York Yankees were eliminated. And I think this is the all the math that you need to know. 20th century World Series championships, the Yankees lose and America wins. The Boston Red Sox have won four World Series this century, the Yankees just one.

I will, of course, note that the Philadelphia Phillies have the most losses in MLB history with over 11,000. So maybe they can actually win one for the man whose name actually is attached to this program, Mr. Tapper. But the fact of the matter is, as far as I'm concerned, baseball season's over.

BERMAN: There is, you know, a former Red Sox on both the Astros and the Phillies, so I can root for both teams tonight. And on this date in 2018, the Red Sox won their fourth World Series this century.

Harry Enten, thank you very much for that. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Have a wonderful weekend.

ENTEN: You too. You're beautiful.

BERMAN: All right, coming up this weekend on State of the Union, Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida and Democratic candidate Cheri Beasley of North Carolina, that is Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern and then again at noon right here on CNN.

You can follow me on Twitter at JohnBerman or tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode, you can listen wherever you get your podcasts. Coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM".