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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Federal Charges Field Against Suspect In Paul Pelosi Attack; GOP Increasingly Optimistic With Just 8 Days Until Election; 2 Americans Among 15 Killed In South Korea Crowd Surge; Biden Speaking About Oil Companies' Record Profits. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired October 31, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Federal authorities say the man that attacked a house speaker's husband also wanted to break Nancy Pelosi's knee caps.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Federal charges just filed against the man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi with a hammer. The suspect's shocking intentions revealed in court documents.
And only eight days left before the midterm elections. Why Republicans have growing confidence in key battleground races.
Plus, you heard of price gouging for gas. But what about for water? It's almost bankrupting some cities and could cast you at the grocery store.
KEILAR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Jake Tapper.
And we begin with new details about the horrifying attack against Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Justice Department has now charged David Depape with one federal count of assault against an immediate family member of a U.S. official and one count of attempted kidnapping. Prosecutors say Depape knocked out Paul Pelosi with a blow to the head right in front of police. According to the complaint, officers found a roll of tape, rope, a second hammer, gloves, and zip ties of the crime scene.
Perhaps even more chilling, prosecutors say Depape later told police about his intentions, quote, Depape stated that he was going to hold Nancy hostage and talk to her. If Nancy were to tell Depape the truth, he would let her go. If she lied, he was going to break her knee caps. Depape was certain she would not tell truth.
He is also expected to be charged with multiple state felonies. That's a list that could potential include attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and other felonies.
Multiple sources telling CNN that investigators interviewed Mr. Pelosi this weekend at the hospital and he was able to provide details of the attack.
CNN's Josh Campbell has the latest details on these charges against the alleged attacker.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Paul Pelosi still in intensive care following surgery after a violent attack at his home Friday, that left him with a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and his hands.
The suspect in the attack, 42-year-old David Depape, now charged with federal crimes, assault and attempted kidnapping after he allegedly broke into the Pelosi San Francisco home through a back door, went to the bedroom, and confronted Pelosi shouting, "where's Nancy" according to law enforcement.
According to the federal criminal complaint, Depape said he was going to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage and talk to her. If she were to tell Depape the truth, he would let her go and if she lied, he was going to break her knee caps. Depape also attempted to tie Paul Pelosi up before the assault.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott discredited conspiracy theories that the two knew each other before the break in.
CHIEF WILLIAM SCOTT, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE: There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Pelosi knew this man. As a matter of fact, the evidence indicates the exact opposite.
CAMPBELL: The two struggled over a hammer according to law enforcement. And when police arrived, Depape pulled the hammer away from Pelosi and violently attacked him before police were able to tackle and disarm him. Depape was arrested at the scene. He brought the hammer used in the attack and was carrying duct tape and zip ties according to law enforcement and sources familiar with the investigation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with her security detail was in Washington at the time. She returned to San Francisco Friday and has been visiting her husband at the hospital. The attack around 2:30 a.m. early Friday morning at the Pelosi residence in San Francisco occurred just as police arrived in response to a 911 call placed by Paul Pelosi.
SCOTT: There was a 911 call made and that's how we got there. And thank goodness that there was a 911 call made.
CAMPBELL: Radio traffic picked up the call for assistance at the Pelosi residence.
DISPATCHER: Special call special call, medic, 66, location --
CAMPBELL: Depape still hospitalized is expected to be arraigned Tuesday. He is still facing state charges that include attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, elder abuse, and other felonies.
Condemnation of the attack and rising violent political rhetoric now taking center stage.
SCOTT: Elected officials have a hard enough job as it is. And, you know, the fact that people's families are being put at risk is wrong, and it needs to stop. We need some civility here. And I just -- it's pathetic in my view.
What does it take? Does it take somebody being murdered?
BROOKE JENKINS, SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Of course, it makes anyone who is in political leadership take a step back and to question not only your own safety and the safety of your family, but where we are at in our nation's history.
CAMPBELL: And, Brianna, we've been reporting on this suspect social media footprint how is littered with far right conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, COVID vaccines, about the January 6 insurrection. But we're getting new information about the alleged motivation. According to this new FBI criminal complaint, the suspect told law enforcement that he wanted to break the House speaker's knee caps so she could be wheeled into Congress, quote, which would show other members of Congress there were consequences to their actions -- truly disturbing, disgusting allegations, Brianna.
KEILAR: Certainly are. Josh Campbell live for us in San Francisco, thank you for that. Let's discuss this now with former assistant U.S. attorney general, Elie Honig, and former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terry Gainer.
Elie, just walk us through these federal charges and how prosecutors will use some of those disturbing details in the complaint as they build their case.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Brianna. So there are two different federal charges here. There is assault and then attempted kidnapping of an immediate family member of a federal official. Those are punishable by maximum of 30 and 20 years respectively.
What makes these charges federal is that the motive goes to the work, the official work of the federal official. And if you look at the evidence here, DOJ lays out in the complaint an overwhelming case that motivation for this attack was Nancy Pelosi, was her political position, and was her political stance on the issues.
It's important to note, Brianna, I just want to make this point, it is perfectly okay legal, constitutional in our system to have both federal charges and state charges relating to the same conduct. I do think we will see that here. That is not double jeopardy. So, I think we're going to see this individual being prosecuted, both federally and in the state. And so, you heard prosecutors writing that he had told them he
believed attacking and wounding Nancy Pelosi would, quote, show other members of Congress that there were consequences to his actions. That sounds like a political motive. Under federal law, could that be seen as an active domestic terrorism?
HONIG: So that evidence is going to be powerful proof as to the charges that we've seen about the assault and the attempted kidnapping. It shows clearly that his intent was to go to the politics of it. Domestic terrorism is such an odd feature of our federal laws because the law defines domestic terrorism. There is a definition that says any violent attack intended to sway or intimidate political positioning.
However, there is no crime attached to it. The definition just sort of hangs out there in the netherworld with no crime attached. There have been legislative proposals to make it a crime including one from Senator Durbin. But they never got enough bipartisan support. So, that just not a crime that is on the federal books.
KEILAR: Chief, for you, what issues does this race about how officials and their families need to be protected?
TERRANCE GAINER, FORMER U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: Well, the U.S. Capitol police are partners will all be deeply examining how this occurred. Capitol Police in particular, responsible for the protection of Speaker Pelosi. And there is a lot of unanswered questions at least publicly about how all this unfolded.
But you have to realize that providing 24/7 security to family members, A, is not within the jurisdiction of the police or permitted absent specific threats. And it requires a substantial expansion of the size of the Capitol Police much likely recommended after the group that was brought in and part of the January 6th. So there would be a lot more people.
And in the meantime, great cooperation between agencies like the San Francisco police, the Secret Service, the FBI, and the Capitol Police. I think the Capitol Police is trying to do everything they can.
KEILAR: Is it doable to protect these folks who need to be protected?
GAINER: Well, with any number of people, it's doable. But we're always in a progression business. So, the elected officials were saying nothing or making this thing or making -- or belittling it, really have a duty to intervene. They're on government payroll. The former president is on government payroll, you know?
So, for them to not get really active and say stop this, don't do this, it's going to make everybody's job a lot harder. And I heard josh say before this offender consumed a lot of the hate and false information. We need to take a look at who is feeding him or who is feeding the others and hold them responsible too.
KEILAR: Very good point. Terry Gainer, Elie Honig, thank you so much to both of you. Elon Musk, new owner of Twitter, has deleted a weekend tweet that
boosted a baseless fringe conspiracy theory, but before it racked up 28,000 retweets and 100,000 likes.
CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is joining us live now to discuss how these kinds of theories are spreading.
Donie, you heard Chief Gainer there talking about some of these. He, Elon Musk, is not alone in tweeting these baseless conspiracies out. But he might be the only one doing it as an owner of an information platform.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Brianna, the sat reality in this country at the moment is any time there is a major news vent, whether it be a school shooting, or an attack on the spouse of the speaker of the House and people, I mean, they start spinning it for their own ends, calling it a false flag or whatever else, despite, of course, there being an abundance of evidence to the contrary.
This normally happens. You know, sometimes it happens on fringe media. Sometimes it's pushed by the regular suspects of people who normally pedal in conspiracy theories. But this weekend, we saw the new owner of Twitter tweet directly out a conspiracy theory.
I want to show you the tweet. It was actually in response to a message from Hillary Clinton, who's condemning that attack on Pelosi. And then Musk tweets there's a tiny possibility there might be more to this story that meets the eye. And we're blurring out what he actually tweeted because it was nonsense. But it was a conspiracy theory about the Pelosi attack.
Funny enough from a website that claimed back in 2016 that Hillary Clinton had died, that same website claiming that the person on the campaign trail in 2016 was actually Clinton body double.
Look this is all happening, of course, Brianna as we're in the midst of the midterm elections. Millions of American have already voted and there are people working at Twitter who are trying to fight misinformation about the midterms and, yes, we have the owner of the company tweeting conspiracy theories.
KEILAR: And deleting it. I mean, it's not like that erases the damage, Donie.
O'SULLIVAN: No. And, I mean, look, if a news organization makes a mistake, we correct this. Musk has deleted that last night, but it went to 112 million followers and no sign of a correction.
KEILAR: All right. Donie O'Sullivan in New York, thank you for that.
Next, what's behind more Republicans now calling out these conspiracy theories related to the Pelosi attack?
Plus, 21 million votes before Election Day and brand new polls extremely tight margins in key battleground races.
Also ahead, that horrific crowd surge South Korea that killed more than 150 people. Now a U.S. congressman says his niece was among the victims.
KEILAR: Republicans are riding a wave of optimism in the final days of the fall campaign, even eyeing seats deep into Democratic territory. Democrats are turning to former President Barack Obama, hoping to avoid the prospect of a bruising election day. Obama delivering his pointed closing argument in three key battleground states.
And as CNN's Jessica Dean reports, former President Trump is also gearing up for his own midterm rally tour in the closing days of the campaign.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The race to the finish is on.
HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: You've got to get out and vote.
DEAN: With just eight days remaining until election day, Republicans believe they have history and momentum on their side.
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): This is our year. The Democrats can't run on anything they have done. People don't like what they've done.
With the balance of power in Congress at stake, new polling from "The New York Times" and Siena College focused on four key races that could determine Senate control. The survey no clear winner in the Nevada race between Democratic incumbent Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Adam Laxalt. And no clear leader in Georgia where Democratic incumbent senator is facing off against Herschel Walker. In Arizona, the poll shows incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly edging out Republican Blake Masters 51-45 percent. In Pennsylvania, Democratic nominee John Fetterman holding a slight lead over Republican Mehmet Oz with 49 percent support to Oz's 44 percent.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: You go out and what?
DEAN: Both parties bringing in their closers as we near election day.
OBAMA: Just about every Republican politician seems obsessed with two things: owning the libs and getting Donald Trump's approval. That's their agenda. It's not long. It's not complicated. And at least to me it's not very inspiring. DEAN: Former President Barack Obama stumped for Democrats in Georgia,
Michigan, and Wisconsin over the weekend with plans to head to Nevada and Arizona as well as Pennsylvania later this week alongside President Joe Biden.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to be spending the rest of the time making a case that this is not a referendum. It's a choice, a fundamental choice, a choice between two very different visions for the country.
DEAN: Former President Donald Trump is also hitting the trail with stops planned in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio in the closing stretch.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Go out and vote up and down the slate. Vote for Republicans. Good great Republicans.
DEAN: Meantime, millions of voters have already voted early as candidates take part in final debates. On Sunday night in Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams debated a number of key issues.
GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: We have the lowest unemployment rate in the history of the state. We have the most people ever working in the history of our state. And we're seeing economic opportunity in all parts of our state.
STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: In this Georgia, right now people are feeling economic pain. And unfortunately, under this governor, the pain is only getting worse.
DEAN (on camera): Now, here in Pennsylvania, this is an open Senate seat. Pat Toomey, a Republican, he's retiring. It's getting a ton of attention and could very well determine the outcome of who holds power in the Senate.
And to that end, Brianna, we have seen President Biden here once over last two weeks. He's come both weeks. He's coming back this weekend with former President Barack Obama.
And you heard in my story there, former President Trump also paying a visit to Pennsylvania. It really comes down to Pennsylvania, so much attention here. And a bit of a proxy war really between Trump and Biden, a redo of 2020 in a way, Brianna.
KEILAR: Yeah, huge fight there in Pennsylvania.
KEILAR: Jessica Dean live for us in Philadelphia, thank you so much.
Let's discuss this now. Let's talk about that Republican optimism.
And, Ayesha, I wonder what you think because there's new "New York Times" final polls of the cycle numbers out. And there's fairly good news for Democrats. They have them slightly ahead or tied in all four of the top Senate battleground states, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada.
But I suspect that Republican internal polling shows something a lot different than what the times is showing.
AYESHA RASCOE, ANCHOR, NPR MORNING EDITION SUNDAY: Yeah, I think that they may be looking at polls like that and thinking that they're overshooting for the left as they have done in the past, the enthusiasm and the people that are coming out.
And, you know, frankly, the odds are in Republicans' favor. The environment is about as good as it can get, right? You got horrible inflation. You got a president that is not very popular, and he's being dragged down by bad ratings.
And so, they can get out there and they can make hay of it. And they have -- like they have done it with crime. They've done it with inflation. And they've been very effective at that.
KEILAR: Do they have any reason not to be optimistic?
JOE WALSH (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, ILLINOIS: No. And, Brianna, I say this, you know this, I think my former political party is a direct threat to our democracy, but they're sitting pretty right now. They've been relentless -- inflation, crime, the border. Inflation, crime, the border.
The Democrats still seem to be searching and struggling for a message. A lot of that isn't their fault. But Republicans have been relentless.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPROTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: I -- inflation, crime, the border. I want to circle crime. Because I just -- before I game on, I was looking at Gallup polling. The economy is still the issue that is driving most people, that's the most important factor. But second is crime.
Now, I tell you, in June, Gallup didn't even ask about crime. That's -- which speaks to -- it's a dark horse issue.
And now, look, Republicans, look, Republican strategists are very smart. They have been spending tens of millions of dollars on ads for crime for months now. Defund the police, ending cash bailout. I was watching the Georgia governor debate. I know I'm a little nerdy, I was watching the Georgia governor debate, and Brian Kemp used it against Stacey Abrams in a governor's race, which is a little odd.
But that issue people are worried. Local crime, people are more concerned about local crime than they've been in 50 years in Gallup polling. I just think -- we talked about the economy. The economy matters.
Abortion clearly matters for the Democratic base. I'm not trying to discount that. But circle crime and notice how many crime ads are being run in your local congressional district, Senate race, governor's race. I think that's really important.
KEILAR: Fear works. I mean, have Democrats done enough to combat that?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They've been caught flatfooted on the crime issue because -- the crime issue isn't something that's just happening in Democratic states. In fact, it's happening in Republican states. It is happening at high rates.
And Democrats have a pretty good record on crime. And yet, they're not talking about it. In the same way there is a lot of people in this country who believe the Democratic Party supported defund the police and they didn't, right? And they just don't do a good enough job of explaining what they believe in part because they have a base that, you know, has opinions that actually does support defund the police or has difference opinions, so they're kind of trying to walk this line.
But I do think they should have been more aggressive about it, because it is something that is, a lot of people are very concerned about.
WALSH: It's a bad issue for them. Demagogues have done it. Republicans demagogue this issue.
RASCOE: And the we should be clear that when -- this is an old playbook, law and order has been around for a very long time, and we can pull race out of that as well. It is a very effective way to talk about race in a way to say, look, be worried about Black and Brown people and crime, and they have not been subtle in using that sort of language and ads to drive that work home.
KEILAR: Do you all think the Obama effect is too late at this point or not?
CILLIZZA: So he's clearly the most effective messenger for the broader swath of who Democrats are trying to reach. There is a reason that Joe Biden is doing some stuff. He is doing it with Barack Obama or speaking from Delaware where he voted.
I think that Obama remains the best messenger for the Democratic Party, the clearest, most he effective messenger. I'm with the congressman a little bit. I wonder if it's too little too late.
You know, by this time we're eight days out from the election. A lot of minds are made up. Democrats are pushing back out on crime. They spent $50 millions since October 1st on ads on crime. So, they're not ignoring it. I wonder if the cake is mostly baked.
WALSH: Ands, Brianna, Obama's been on fire. I mean, his talks over the weekend. But it kind of shows the fact that there haven't been any other Democrats who have been able to speak with that fire.
POWERS: Yeah. I do think sort of to what we started talking about here is that the Democrats actually are doing better than you would expect considering the climate, right?
[16:25:03] I mean, the fact that you -- that anybody is even saying it's possible that they could hold on to the Senate, right?
Now, we don't really know, because we don't know if the polls are oversampling Democrats or whatever. If the polls are accurate, then they're doing pretty well. Because the fact of the matter is under historical circumstances, they should be expected to lose and then you add in everything else that's going wrong -- adding in inflation, adding in the fact that Biden is not popular. You know, the expectation should be that they're going to lose.
KEILAR: Democrats need to be pulling conservatives like you, Joe. They do. They need to be pulling folks who are disaffected with the Republican Party. Are they doing that?
WALSH: No. They haven't done that.
Look, Republicans, I talked to low information voters in the middle, moderates and conservatives like me who know Republicans are jerks. But they don't feel like -- they do. They tell me that. They use stronger language.
They tell me that every day, Brianna. They don't feel like Democrats talk to them at all. I hear that over and over again.
KEILAR: What do Democrats say about that? Do they have an idea of how they should be approaching this? It is also pretty late.
RASCOE: Yeah, I think it is pretty late. I think is why you do see, you know, the president, others, they want to say like, look, you know, we care talking about bringing prices down, things of that nature. We feel your pain. We do care you about. They also want to say we love the police and things of that nature, because they're trying to reach out.
But this country is so polarized. When we have people on the trail talking to people, I mean, they're saying things like the other side needs to be destroyed. And then we'll figure it all out. I mean, the polarization of the country is off the charts.
KEILAR: I want to ask you finally, Chris, about this brutal attack on Paul Pelosi. We have some new details here.
Yes, you have Republicans. Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, they're condemning the attack, Rick Scott.
But then take a look at this. This is Trump Jr. elevating a crude meme which we're showing you because it is important you see what it is, right? This is obviously the opposite of condemning the assault.
And we're also seeing conservatives share wild conspiracy theories. You have Congressman Clay Higgins saying the attacker was a lover of Paul Pelosi's. Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin joked about it. He was planning, of course, we know now this attacker, this alleged attacker, he confessed according to police to wanting to break the knee caps of the speaker. At some point, do Republicans have to change -- some of the
Republicans change their tune?
CILLIZZA: So, you could go broke predicting the bottom. I mean, honestly, like I woke up this morning, the first thing in my feed was that Donald Trump Jr. costume joke.
You know, Donald Trump Jr. is super charged version of Donald Trump. What worries me is not that Donald Trump Jr. said and did something that is like, you know, deeply deplorable. That is a word he loves and embraces.
What worries me is that post had thousands of likes on it. That is the more concerning piece. It's not just one person, the former, the eldest son of the former president. That is one person saying and doing something. It's Halloween, talk about our kids.
You know if, our kids did something like that, we would punish them, right? That is unacceptable behavior. That is a -- I don't want to say waning message but an acceptable message to a lot of people.
Just think about that. An 82-year-old man was attacked with a hammer, he had a broken, a fractured skull, had to undergo emergency surgery because somebody broke in his house at 2:30 in the morning with a vendetta against the speaker of the House. We can't -- we can't ignore it and we can't accept it and normalize it.
KEILAR: Even if we're not surprised by it at this point in time.
CILLIZZA: That's right.
KEILAR: Thank you all for the conversation this evening. We appreciate it.
Next, what seems to be Russia' preferred targets in Ukraine right now, and new signs that the attacks are working.
KEILAR: Topping our world lead, CNN is learning more about two Americans who are among the 155 people killed in South Korea on Saturday. Many crushed to death as crowds packed a narrow ally during a Halloween celebration.
And as CNN's Paula Hancocks reports, South Korean officials admit there were no guidelines to handle the throngs of young people.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A once thriving night life hub, now the site of endless loss and grief. South Korea is in a period of national mourning for the more than 150 lives lost in a crowd surge on Saturday. NATHAN TAVERNITI, EYEWITNESS: It was obviously waves of people coming
in. This is the middle of it. So the way they're coming in both sides. And more people fell. And I lost my friend. There were so many people. And I turn around and I told the crowd, don't come this way. People are dying.
HANCOCKS: South Korean officials admitting there were no guidelines for dealing with the Halloween festivities in Seoul that took a deadly turn.
KIM SEONG-HO, DIRECTOR OF DISASTER AND SAFETY MANAGEMENT DIVISION, MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR AND SAFETY (through translator): An event without an organizer was actually unprecedented situation.
OH SEUNG-JIN, DIRECTOR OF VIOLENT CRIME INVESTIGATION DIVISION, NATIONAL POLICE AGENCY (through translator): There is no separate preparation manual for a situation where there is no organizer and where a crowd is expected.
HANCOCKS: Survivors who managed to escape recount the horror.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was about, like, you know, there are other people --
KEILAR: Let's go to the White House where President Biden is rolling out a plan on oil companies to address record profits.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're down more than $1.20 since their peak this summer. And they've been falling for the best of -- best part of the last three weeks.
In June, the average price -- not the most common price, but the average price -- nationwide was -- was over $5 a gallon. Today, the average price for a gallon of gas is $3.76. That's adding up to real savings for American families -- the difference between those prices. And this difference makes a difference.
In a difficult time, Americans across the country have stepped up, and they -- to do the right thing. But not everyone has stepped up. The oil industry has not -- has not met its commitment to invest in America and support the American people.
One by one, major oil companies have reported record profits, not just a fair return on -- for hard work. Every company is entitled to that: a fair return for the work they do or innovation they generate. It means -- but I mean profits so high it's hard to believe.
Now, the second quarter of the profits were really high. But the third quarter -- last week, Shell announced that it made $9.5 billion in profits for the third quarter -- $9.5 billion. That's almost twice as much as it made in the third quarter of last year. I think that's something. You think that's incredible? I thought, my -- that's as good as -- as high as it's going to get.
Then along came Exxon. Exxon's profits for the third quarter were at $18.7 billion. One quarter: $18.7 billion -- nearly triple what Exxon made last year and the most in its 152-year history. It's never made that much profit.
In the last six months, six of the largest oil companies have made more than $100 billion -- $100 billion. And we had a little discussion about this, the three of us and others. One hundred billion in profits in two -- less than 200 days. That's not bad.
And here's why this -- here's why this matters. I think it's outrageous what their -- the -- the size of the profit.
Here's why it matters -- if these companies were making average profits they've been making by refining oil over the last 20 years instead of the outrageous profits they're making today and if they passed the rest on to the consumers, the price of gas would come down around an additional 50 cents.
If they're investing their profits in the historic -- at historic rates in their U.S. operations, then America would be producing more oil today and prices would be down even further. But rather than increasing their investments in America or giving American consumers a break, their excess profits are going back to their shareholders and to buying back their stock, so the executive pay is -- are going to skyrocket.
Give me a break. Enough is enough. Look, I'm a capitalist. You've heard me say this before: I have no problem with corporations turning a fair profit or getting the return on their investment and innovation.
But this isn't remotely what's happening. Oil companies' record profits today are not because they're doing something new or innovative. Their profits are a windfall of war -- the windfall from the brutal conflict that's ravaging Ukraine and hurting tens of millions of people around the globe. You know, at a time of war, any company receiving historic windfall profits like this has a responsibility to act beyond their narrow self-interest of its executives and shareholders.
I think they have a responsibility to act in the interest of their consumers, their community, and their country; to invest in America by increasing production and refining capacity. Because they -- they don't want to do that. They have the opportunity to do that -- lowering prices for consumers at the pump.
You know, if they don't, they're going to pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions. My team will work with Congress to look at these op -- these options that are available to us and others. It's time for these companies to stop war profiteering, meet their responsibilities to this country, and give the American people a break and still do very well.
The American people are going to judge who's standing with them and who is only looking out for their own bottom line. I know where I stand, and I want to let the -- I'm -- going to hear more from me about this when the Congress gets back.
Thank you all very, very much. Appreciate it.
KEILAR: President Biden there speaking from the Roosevelt Room repeating a call for U.S. oil companies continue to vest some record profits into increased production. The goal there would be to lower gas prices that Americans have been impacted by for months, of course, it would require congressional action.
Let's listen in. He is talking.
BIDEN: -- and dealing with the poor in his country, and saving the Amazon.
KEILAR: All right. Let's bring in our CNN's M.J. Lee and Alison Kosik.
First to you, Alison. The president wants to make sure Americans know just how much these companies are making while they see how much they're paying at the pump.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. You're right about that, Brianna.
So, President Biden is trying to solidify this message just days before Americans go to the polls to vote in the midterms. But this isn't a new rallying cry from the president. He has been saying oil and gas companies are raking in record profits and they're already paying more for just about everything because of the historic inflation.
He's been saying that for a while. But now he's got a captive audience, because there are the new numbers there on the screen. ExxonMobil's latest profit, set a record for the second quarter in a row with the company earning $18.7 billion. That's a B. Exxon's profit is up 177 percent from a year ago.
Chevron, which is the second biggest oil company in the U.S., also bringing in a huge amount of money in the third quarter, bringing in earnings of $10.8 billion. That is almost double what the $5.7 billion that it made a year ago.
Here's another way to look at the profits just to sort of hit, you know, send this home for you. ExxonMobil earned $2,350 every second of every day of the 92-day quarter. Chevron earned $1,357 every second of every quarter. Chew on that for main. I think that's what Biden is saying here.
KEILAR: Yeah. And certainly -- and, M.J., in a way he sort of saying, look, it's not my fault. It's not my party's fault. And he is saying it just before the midterm elections in these remarks that actually were not on the president's original schedule today. M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. That's right. This was
an event added at the last minute to the White House schedule.
Listen, Brianna, when the White House has been grappling with the overall issue of high gas prices, this particular issue of oil companies turning big profits is one that the president has returned to over and over again. And you heard sort of the expiration in his speech just now, when he said give me a break and enough is enough.
The idea is basically that look. The American people are hurting right now. Prices all across the board are too high. So, these record- breaking profits at these oil companies and energy companies are getting to make, he said there is a responsibility for them to turn that around and direct that so that consumers can benefit and so that they are -- they can be the overall effective of lowering prices.
But I think it's really important what you pointed out, Brianna. That some of these action that's he's talking about, taxing sort of the profits or other restrictions at what the White House might be considering. These are ideas that require congressional action and there's just not sort of a pathway, a realistic political pathway for that to happen. But I think all of this is such a reminder that obviously as we head into the final stretch before the midterms, yes, inflation and particularly high gas prices, those issues are very much top of mind for the president right now.
KEILAR: Yeah, and he's trying to push back on them because they're a difficult issue for Democrats.
M.J., Alison, thank you so much to both of you.
Next, the Supreme Court case challenging affirmative action. Hear what justices said as they heard arguments.
KEILAR: A big question before the Supreme Court today. Should race factor into college admissions decisions? The justices heard arguments in two major affirmative action cases involving Harvard and the University of North Carolina.
Chief Justice John Roberts has a well-known skepticism towards the policy which leaves the liberal justices in an unmistakable minority.
CNN senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic is with us on this story.
Joan, what do the liberal justices say could happen if affirmative action is gutted?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure, Brianna, and I'm glad I started the morning with you, because after I left here, I went to the courtroom for five hours of arguments. There was so much tension between the right and the left because the right has a majority right now. So the three liberal justices tried to point out just what would happen on college campuses if Harvard and the University of North Carolina were not allowed to look at applicants' race.
And let's start with the first excerpt from Justice Elena Kagan talking to lawyer Patrick Strawbridge about what will happen if university cannot use these measures.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT: In your view, it really wouldn't matter if there's way precipitous decline in minority admissions, African American, Hispanic, one or the other. Suppose it just fell through the floor. Would it -- it just -- you know, too bad?
PATRICK STRAWBRIDGE, LAWYER: Well, I don't think it is going to fall through the floor if the university is actually committed to the broader diversity at once.
KAGAN: I guess what I'm saying is your brief, this is very explicit in your brief, is like -- it just doesn't matter if our institutions look like America. You say this on page 11 in your reply brief and, I guess what I'm asking you is, doesn't it? I mean, doesn't it?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BISKUPIC: You know, that's a real concern on the part of the liberal justices. But we're going to listen to one from Chief Justice John Roberts that I think is the tone, and I think the feeling from conservatives, no matter what the reason, even if it's beneficial reason to take race into account for diversity, let's listen to what he has to say.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT: I don't see how you can say the program will ever end. Your position is that race matters because it's necessary for diversity, which is necessary for the sort of education you want. It's not going to stop mattering at some particular point. You're always going to have to look at race because you say race matters to give us the necessary diversity.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BISKUPIC: You know, this is this issue. Is this going to go on forever? And he and his colleagues on the right kept pointing to a 2003 decision in which Justice O'Connor said using racial affirmative action was good, but happened to say perhaps this will be done in 25 years. And they kept saying, we want it done now.
You heard his sentiment. The conservatives think it's gone on too long, the use of race in admissions.
KEILAR: I think we know which way the court is going on this one unless there is some big surprise.
Joan, thank you so much, and for being in the court today so you could bring this to us. We appreciate it, Joan Biskupic.
And this note, CNN's Jake Tapper will dive into this case. Hear from an attorney representing the University of North Carolina students defending the program on CNN tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
And next here on the leave, where Americans say their water bills are up 1,000 percent and that spike could have a ripple effect on your wallet.
Plus, what Instagram is saying about its brief outage today and the odd message that popped up for thousands of users.
KEILAR: In our "Earth Matters" series, the government's latest map shows much of the country experiencing everything from abnormally dry conditions, that is the yellow you see, to exceptional drought like the dark red covering much of California.
If all of this isn't depressing enough, CNN's Rene Marsh has a warning that water prices are going up, perhaps more than they should.
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles of brittle uprooted almond trees lay flat across dry farmland in California. Drought-tightening water restrictions and now, skyrocketing water prices have forced farmers to sacrifice their crops. This is what a thirsty city on the verge of running out of water looks like.
ADAM ADKISSION, COALINGA CITY COUNCILMAN: We can't continue this. It's not sustainable for our community.
MARSH: City councilman Adam Adkisson says Coalinga was set to run out of water by mid to late November and had to go to the market to make up the shortfall. The city was short about 600 acre feet of water, that's the equivalent of about 300 Olympic size pools.
Last week, Coalinga finalized the purchase from a California irrigation district. The price tag for one of life's most basic necessities, roughly $1.1 million. Adkisson says the same amount of water used to cost the city $114,000.
ADKISSON: I was just floored. I could not believe they could sell water at that price. But that was actually a cheap rate. That's the cheapest rate we found.
MARSH: The index that tracks water transactions in California shows the price of water has gone from just over $200 in 2019 to more than $1,000 today for the amount of water it would take to fill half of an Olympic size pool.
MELISSA HURTADO (D), CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE: People are making money off of less water availability and that's hurting real people, real farmers, and real communities.
MARSH: California State Senator Melissa Hurtado in a bipartisan group of California legislators in a letter sent this August urged the U.S. Justice Department to investigate, quote, potential drought profiteering. Hurtado suspects there could be water price gouging in drought stricken Western states.
HURTADO: I'm not a farmer and this keeps me up at night.
MARSH: CNN was there as Hurtado met with a living room full of farmers raising alarm about high water prices.
DEEDEE GRUBER, GRUBER FARMS: How can we work out a plan to where it's not going to bankrupt us?
MARSH: Deedee Gruber and her husband, Tom, grow 11 different crops. They estimate the water needed to grow one of their crops, walnuts, will cost $40,000.
GRUBER: It would have cost us more in water than what we're going to get for our walnuts.
MARSH: The Justice Department in an email to Hurtado this month said her complaint was forwarded to the appropriate legal staff for further review. The agency declined comment to CNN on what, if any, investigative actions it might take as this dwindling resource becomes more expensive to come by.
ADKISSON: We're a very poor community. These people out here cannot afford 1,000 percent increase in their water bills.
MARSH (on camera): Well, the city announced today that California approved a grant to help offset its million dollar water bill but the larger problem prevails here. That's the $1 million price tag for a relatively small amount of water. We should note, Brianna, this grant will not cover the cost for farmers and the water that they pay for and farmers that we spoke to tell us that these high water prices in the state will drive food prices nationwide even higher.
KEILAR: Yeah, it's a nightmare for growers and for us as well when it comes to our grocery bills.
Rene, thank you for that excellent report.
KEILAR: In our tech lead, Instagram is apologizing for an outage today that affected thousands of users. "The New York Times" reports many Instagram users received notifications this morning that their accounts had been suspended for violating community guidelines. According to the tracking site Down Detector, complaints tapered off late this morning, but it recorded some 7,000 people reporting they couldn't access their accounts. Instagram sent a tweet confirming it's looking into the issue but did not respond to CNN's request for comment.
We are close to a new era for morning television. You can catch Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins on CNN "THIS MORNING" tomorrow at 6:00 a.m. sharp.
If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen wherever you get your podcast.
Our coverage continues with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM".