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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Candidates Enter Final Weekend Before Election Day; Sources: Trump Aides Eye Third Week Of November For 2024 Announcement; CNN: New York Democrats Bracing For Stunning Election Losses; Sources: DOJ Considers Special Counsel If Trump Runs In 2024; Kevin Durant: Nets Should've "Kept Quiet" About Irving; FAA Considers Regulating Airline Seat Sizes. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 04, 2022 - 16:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The White House gets the goldilocks scenario it wished for.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The last economic report card before Election Day is now out. Just enough jobs added to tout and just enough lost that it may start to cool the economy. But how will voters see today's numbers as they head to the polls?

Plus, Donald Trump very big on the very for 2024.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I will very, very, very probably do it again, okay?


BERMAN: But will federal investigations catch up with him first very?

And NBA star Kevin Durant tries to talk about the anti-Semitic comments that got his teammate Kyrie Irving suspended and now forced to clarify what he meant.


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

And it's crunch time. Only four days left for candidates to make their closing arguments to voters before Tuesday's election. More than 34 million people have already cast the ballot, far outpacing 2018 numbers at this point.

The trend suggests the Republicans are well-positioned to take the House, but control of the Senate rests on a knife's edge which means every race is criminal. Democrats got a moral boost today with the new jobs report showing the

U.S. economy adding 261,000 jobs last month. But a separate measurement of the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7 percent.

This is the last economic mood check before an election day in which voters say the economy is the top factor in their vote.

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump is intensifying his game of footsie with 2024. Sources tell CNN, his aides are eyeing the third week of November as an ideal launch for his run for president.

CNN tracking key races and issues across the country. Let's start off with our Eva McKend in Georgia where early voting ends today.

Eva, what are you hearing from voters?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: So, John, it is really a number of issues that voters are identifying as top of mind. You could be in Atlanta and speaking to folks there and they say reproductive rates, hospital closures, climate change.

Earlier today, we were in Newman and folks expressed concern of the overall direction of the country and the economy. More than 2 million Georgians have voted during this early vote period. That ends today at 7:00 p.m., but, of course, folks can vote on Election Day on Tuesday.

Still the candidates busy making their closing arguments across the state. We were with Herschel Walker in Newman, Senator Warnock off the trail today attending a funeral for his longtime mentor.

Chris Christie on stage now with Governor Kemp, and Stacey Abrams doing her bus tour as well.

So all these candidates making their closing arguments, even though so many Georgians have already voted, still trying to convince voters ahead of election day -- John.

BERMAN: Eva McKend in Georgia, a few feet away from Chris Christie and Brian Kemp -- Eva, thank you very much.

To Wisconsin now and CNN's Omar Jimenez.

Omar, Senator Ron Johnson, the Republican Senate candidate there, is taking the maybe I will, maybe I won't approach to accepting election results.


Well, all of these candidates are in their final stretch bus tours and these latest comments from Senator Ron Johnson came at one of those stops in Wisconsin where he was asked point-blank if he would accept the results of Tuesday's election and he didn't outright say yes. Instead, he said, I sure hope I can, but I can't predict what the Democrats might have planned. It was unclear what he meant by that, but we just got out of an event with his Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes who said that this type of answer was predictable and that Johnson is showing everyone exactly who he is, someone who is incredibly arrogant, Barnes said.

Part of Johnson's answer, he referenced a situation in Milwaukee where the former deputy election commissioner was just -- has now been charged after allegedly obtaining military ballots for fake voters and then sending them to a Republican state lawmaker who then turned it over to law enforcement. According to the criminal complaint, this former election worker told investigators she was trying to make a point about flaws in the absentee ballot system. But, of course, moving forward, no votes were affected. The election wasn't effective.

But state election officials say what has been affected is public confidence and they hope to try to recover some of that in the days heading up to the election.


We also just heard from the state elections administer who told us there would have been numerous other checks to prevent these requested ballots from actually being counted and she is confident that that would have been the case even if they hasn't been self-reported here, John.

BERMAN: All right. Omar Jimenez for us in Madison, Wisconsin -- Omar, great to see you.

Let's go out west now to Arizona where polls show the Senate race is neck and neck.

Here's more from CNN's Kyung Lah.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for being the tip of the spear. Let's go manufacture this red wave.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Republican resurgence pledges, Blake Masters, in the final stretch, closing with this message.

BLAKE MASTERS (R), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: They made life in America, life in Arizona more dangerous and less affordable.

LAH: That resonates with Evelyn Tinsley, small business owner, mom of four.

EVELYN TINSLEY, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN VOTER: A lot of things have changed since Biden went into office. Food has definitely gone up. It's crazy, especially with how many people we have.

LAH: What Tinsley does not worry about is Donald Trump, urging Masters to lie about the election, like Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT (via telephone): Look at Kari. Kari's winning with very little money. And 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 the base.

MASTERS: I'm not going soft.

LAH: What do you say to moderates who are concerned about the economy, but they're also concerned about what you're saying about the 2020 election, the election denials?

MASTERS: I don't think they're concerned about what I say about 2020. I think the most important things by far right now to voters are inflation, crime and the border.

LAH: Democratic Senator Mark Kelly will test that belief with a message of his own, labeling Masters as extreme on abortion, Social Security, and democracy.

SEN. MARK KELLY (D-AZ): Blake Masters has some beliefs that are just dangerous for Arizonians. Somebody who thinks they know better than everyone about everything, letting them make decisions for you is dangerous.


LAH: Election deniers at the top of the Republican ticket is why Keith Greenberg is at the Democrat's rally.

GREENBERG: The Republicans have some momentum, but I think Arizonians are smart enough to know how to vote properly and protect democracy.

LAH: The husband of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Kelly is leaning into his experience as an astronaut and his service as a navy combat veteran.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: He is actually a top gun.

LAH: Propelled in these last hours by a Democratic powerhouse.

OBAMA: If you got election deniers serving as your governor, as your senator, as your secretary of state, as your attorney general, then democracy as we know it may not survive in Arizona. That's not an exaggeration. That is a fact.


LAH (on camera): And you heard Blake Masters there in our interview talking about the border. That is where he is right now.

I want you to take a brief look at this. This is the top of the Republican ticket here in the state of Arizona. They are walking along the border right now. This is the press conference right before they did that, a photo finish, John, on a closing image on border security -- John.

BERMAN: And that's the image they're looking for there. Kyung Lah in Scottsdale, thank you very much.

A lot to discuss in the home stretch just four days to go.

Abby Phillip, anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS", I'm very, very, very happy to see you.

Donald Trump on the campaign trail --


BERMAN: Donald Trump on the campaign trail in Iowa with some very, very unsettled statements about running for 2024.

PHILLIP: It's happening. More than likely.

BERMAN: Let's listen.


TRUMP: I will very, very, very probably do it again, okay? Very, very, very probably.

Get ready, that's all I'm telling you, very soon. Get ready. Get ready.


BERMAN: Abby, you were very, very patient to wait for him to speak there. Look, the Trump aides are saying they're eyeing the third week of November to launch the campaign. We're going to talk about the legal upper indications of all of that because the law factors in all of this.

But if you're a Republican, how excited are you to have Donald Trump put himself in there with just four days to go.

PHILLIP: I think Republicans at this point knew this was just going to happen and they had no -- basically no control over it. The interesting thing about how the Republican Party broadly deals with Trump is that they do want him to be involved where they think he will be helpful and there are some races where Trump's endorsement has propelled some otherwise very mediocre candidates into a winning shot.

But I think broadly -- especially if you're in the state of Georgia, for example, you kind of want Trump to wait until the dust has settled in the midterms and it sounds like he's not going to wait.


The state of Georgia is probably the one race that may not be really settled by next week because they have a runoff system. And if Trump announces in the middle of this month of November, he's going to insert himself into that race one more time, which is just -- you know, it's rocket fuel for Democrats who are very motivated often to vote against him.

BERMAN: That's a good point. He could be announcing his run in the middle of a runoff in Georgia. S.E. Cupp, very, very happy to see you as well. At the same rally

where Trump announced pseudo announced he was running for president again, Republican Congresswoman and far right conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene said her party would cut off aid to Ukraine if they win control of Congress. Watch this.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine.


Our country comes first.


BERMAN: Not another penny, S.E.

And again, is that a message that Republicans want just four days to go?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's a -- it's a message some in the Republican Party that have been radicalized to decide to back Putin and his talking points really do believe. It's not widely held across the country, helping Ukraine is very popular, people still think that that's important. And some people, when you look at polling, say they want to help as long as it takes.

But there is this fringe wing of the Republican Party aided by, you know, Tucker Carlson and some right-wing media folks, Lara Logan, some conspiracy theorists who really have hitched onto Putin and tried to villainize Ukraine and their president and make it look like there's some nefarious interest in backing Ukraine that aligns with Democrats and in some cases Nazis. It's weird stuff.

But, you know, she is speaking to her audience and her audience I'm sure agrees with her.

BERMAN: Bakari Sellers, I'm very -- I'll give you one very happy to see you this afternoon. President Biden is talking about what might change in Washington if Republicans do win control of the House, especially on Tuesday.

Listen to his warning to Democrats about what Republicans might do?


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've already been told, if they win back the House and Senate, they're going to impeach him. I don't know what the hell they're going to impeach me for.

Recently they said we should stop talking about that until we win. Well, all kidding aside, think about it, so much is at stake.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: So don't let them win and impeach me is sort of the message there, Bakari. What do you think of this and the other things that the president has been trying over the last week?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he was just talking facetiously about them impeaching him. We all know that they may try, particularly in the House Republican caucus. But that won't have any level of success when it makes it to the Senate. What he is saying and what he's been preaching the past week is that democracy is at stake.

Again, this isn't to rile up the base. This is not to maybe convince any Republican to flip the script, but what this is talking to are those voters who find themselves in the middle who need an issue to hang their hat on. And where you have voters in the middle of the country who are not too far right, not too far left who are looking at candidates and cannot decide which one, what the president is trying to do is give them the issue of democracy as one that they can vote for.

And most times, Democrats, if not all times, Democrats win that issue. You have Blake Masters and many others who continue to dillydally in these conspiracy theories. He's saying democracy is at stake, vote like it matters.

BERMAN: I can't believe we've waited this long to talk about Oprah Winfrey. But last night, Oprah came out and endorsed John Fetterman in the Pennsylvania Senate race. This is significant -- look, Oprah, her endorsement is always significant, right? It's significant because Mehmet Oz became a star because of Oprah Winfrey, because Oprah put him on TV a lot over the years.

And now, she's coming out and endorsing the guy that Oz is running against, Bakari. Look, when Oprah Winfrey endorsed Barack Obama back in 2007 and 2008, it was a big deal. Is this going to help four days before the election?

SELLERS: It is. And the reason it is going to help -- and people like Bakari, you don't know what you're talking about -- the reason it is going to help is because there are people out there who are not paying attention to this race. There are people who are not watching CNN right now, who are not watching any cable news, who go to their 9:00 to 5:00s, I know you all can't believe it, who are not on Twitter, who are not on social media, who just live their everyday lives outside of the bubble of politics and they will be touched by Oprah Winfrey saying go out and support somebody who is not Dr. Oz.


Go out and support John Fetterman.

So, I do anticipate this helping particularly in the city of Philadelphia. I tell people that Pennsylvania goes, as Philadelphia goes. If Philadelphia comes out in extremely high numbers, it's going to bode extremely well for the next U.S. senator, John Fetterman. Oprah does nothing but help. If she would have endorsed Mehmet Oz or

just stayed out of it, that may have hurt. But this definitely will help.

BERMAN: All right. Stick around. Much more to discuss.

We've got some new CNN reporting on the election stunner that could be coming for New York Democrats and not the way they want. Hear who they reportedly want to make the fall guy.

Also ahead, the moment court watchers are waiting for, the leader of the Oath Keepers taking the stand.


BERMAN: More now on the politics lead, brand-new CNN reporting on New York Democrats preparing for what could be stunning losses next Tuesday.

I want to bring in senior reporter, Isaac Dovere.

Isaac, what are you hearing?

ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Look, John, Democrats in New York are suddenly very, very worried about a lot of races in the state. That's the governor's race with Kathy Hochul, looking to win a full term of her own, running against Congressman Lee Zeldin, but it's also House races all over the state specifically in the suburbs of New York City.


And a lot of what this race is focused on -- or these races are focused on in these closing couple of days is crime and fears of crime specifically in New York City. What you have here is a fight now between Democrats who say maybe Eric Adams, the mayor, who has talked a lot about crime but talked about how terrible a lot of the crimes that are going on in the city are, and what terrible shape the city has been in, may be overhyped, according to some Democrats, the situation that the city is in, and maybe played into a partisan narrative. That's the accusation they combat.

The Adams' folks telling me, look, this is a man who was elected because of crime, because he spoke to where the voters were, and voters would have been better off following his lead, figuring out how he talked about crime and what to do about it.

But then you have people like Kathleen Rice, congresswoman from Nassau County, she's retiring from her seat this year, a former Nassau district attorney who said she feels like there's been too much focus from Adams on improving nightlife. She said, people want to feel safe before they go out to a club.

And they really want to see more results happening to deal with what Republicans are appealing to voters on in this race.

BERMAN: All right. Isaac Dovere, thank you very much for that.

Let's discuss. Abby Phillip, first to you, the idea of blaming Eric Adams, really two-fold. One for not focusing enough on crime, but maybe then talking about it too much at the same time. What do you think of that?

PHILLIP: I think there's going to be a lot of blame to go around if New York ends up being a really bad night for Democrats on Tuesday. But it's not just New York, it's also places like Oregon. It's across the country.

I think Democrats now are realizing that, look, Republicans may or may not have been demagoguing on crime, but you cannot throw numbers at voters and tell them they're wrong about how they're feeling. And I think figuring out a message around crime, it was too late for many Democrats to figure that message out before it became ingrained in the psyche of a lot of voters.

BERMAN: Well, too late, Kathy Hochul, the Democratic governor running for reelection, this is what she said this morning on CNN about why she thinks Republicans are having success focusing on crime.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: Because they're being dishonest about it. They're not having a conversation about real solutions. I just think people need to know really what's on the line here as someone who has been working in the trenches, rolling up her sleeves, getting the job done, and not just running around the state staying all you have to do is repeal bail law and all the crime will disappear.


BERMAN: S.E., she says Republicans are being dishonest. Is it that simple?

CUPP: It's not. Crime is not imaginary. You know, I was a New Yorker, I still write for a New York paper.

And every day, there's a story of some wacko on the subway pushing someone on the tracks, or stabbing someone in the park. These were anecdotes, but there's a feeling to what Abby was saying that you cannot combat with numbers and you definitely shouldn't combat with that kind of flippant, dismissive attitude that Kathy Hochul insists on having about this issue, as if it's on her side. It is not. New Yorkers feel unsafe and Democrats need to deal with that.

BERMAN: Changing the subject again, Bakari. You got the Oprah question. Let's do Jimmy Kimmel for you. Jimmy Kimmel, late night talk show host, talking about the contest in Nevada.


JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: You know that creepy cousin in every family no one wants to sit with at the Thanksgiving? That's Adam Laxalt. The guy supports a QAnon wacko for secretary of state. I mean, seriously, these people think JFK is coming back from the dead.

I have some bad news for you, Adam. JFK isn't coming back. And even if he did, he wouldn't be voting for you.


BERMAN: So, Oprah is one thing, Bakari. But do you think this is helpful for the Democratic incumbent there in Nevada?

SELLERS: I don't really know what that was, to be completely honest with you. I don't know what the messaging was. I don't know the reasoning behind it. I don't know the timing of it.

I don't know who asked for that. And if they asked for it, they probably need to be fired. I love Jimmy Kimmel. I love the fact that people are speaking up and speaking their minds. I'm never somebody who says, shut up and stay in your place, please speak up and speak up, but be on message and have a message.

I mean I think going back to what S.E. and Abby were saying is, Democrats don't have a message to combat crime other than the fact that, yes, Republicans are being dishonest about it. Yes, crime rates are higher in states like Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Georgia which are all run by Republicans than they are in places like New York City.

But you actually cannot be dismissive. And I think even ads by Jimmy Kimmel come off as being dismissive. We have to talk to voters about their concerns.

BERMAN: Bakari Sellers, S.E. Cupp, Abby Phillip, all of you, have a wonderful weekend.

Abby is going to be working much of it.


She's going to continue the discussion on "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY." I'll look out for her at the head of the table Sunday morning, at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

So, word on the street is Donald Trump could be days away from announcing his next White House bid. But how much might federal investigations complicate or maybe motivate his plans?


BERMAN: Back with our politics lead. Members of the January 6th committee set today as the deadline for Donald Trump to respond to their subpoena. Sources also tell CNN the Justice Department is mulling a potential special counsel to investigate Trump for various matters if he does run in 2024.

I want to bring in CNN's Sara Murray and Elie Honig.

Elie, first to you, counselor, this idea of a special counsel. By the way, it was an enormous CNN reporting team that broke this story. A special counsel that would oversee some of the investigations into the former president, what would this mean? Where would they start? Hasn't a lot of investigating already happened here?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, John. This would be a midstream appointment of special counsel. What the special counsel would do is take all the investigation that's been done to date and take it over from there. It's important to understand, a special counsel does not necessarily have special powers, per se.

Essentially, a special counsel has the same powers that any federal prosecutor, any U.S. attorney would have. You can investigate, you can go to the grand jury, you can issue subpoenas, you can indict, all the things that we saw Robert Mueller do, who, of course, with special counsel most recently. There is a bit more separation and independence, however, if you get a special counsel who is free to operate without daily oversight from the attorney general.

So the question for DOJ is going to be, is there enough of a conflict of interest if Donald Trump announces his run for the presidency in 2024 that they would need to appoint a special counsel.

BERMAN: About that, Sara, sources tell CNN that Trump top aides are eyeing the week of November 14th for Trump like three weeks from now, not even, for Trump to announce his 2024 run, two weeks from now. So, what would that mean? Would the special counsel start right after that?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, I mean, look, people at DOJ are watching this too, right? They've seen Trump sending these signals -- more and more signals that a run could be eminent. We don't know when a special counsel would start in part because they haven't made a final decision about whether they're actually going to move forward with the special counsel.

Obviously, though, a big consideration in this is Donald Trump becoming a presidential candidate. And as Elie was saying, part of this has to do with the fact that the Justice Department knows that if there's going to be a political firestorm as they continue to investigate Donald Trump, particularly when he becomes a candidate.

So they're looking at the possibility of the special counsel to say, you know, could this insulate us from some of the criticism that would for sure rain down on them if Joe Biden is the president, he's running against Donald Trump and Joe Biden's Justice Department is investigating Donald Trump.

BERMAN: Sarah, any talk about one or two special counsels?

MURRAY: You know, I think the goal would be to have one special counsel that is overseeing these various investigations, but, again, no final decision has been made yet.

BERMAN: All right. Elie, today is the deadline for Donald Trump to respond to the January 6th committee subpoena. I haven't heard that he's done anything as of 4:32 p.m. Eastern Time. So, if he doesn't respond, what's the likelihood that the Justice Department would ever seek a prosecution for, you know, defying the subpoena?

HONIG: Yeah, John, the clock is ticking. No signs of a response just yet. If Donald Trump defies the committee, then really there's three hurdles that would have to be overcome if we saw any kind of prosecution of Donald Trump for contempt to Congress.

First, the January 6th Committee itself would have to vote for contempt. Now, we've seen them do that four times so far with Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, Peter Navarro and Mark -- I'm blanking on the fourth one. They've done it four times so far and they've charged two of them.

BERMAN: Bannon.

HONIG: Steve Bannon, exactly. Thank you.

Now, if the House committee votes on it, then you have to go over to the full house. They have to vote on it. You need Nancy Pelosi's support, you need every Democrat to support it and finally DOJ would have to decide if they want to charge. Two of the four has been charged so far. Bannon and Navarro have been charged. So, that's a lot of hurdle that is have to be overcome before we see criminal charges against Donald Trump for contempt of congress.

BERMAN: Elie Honig, Sara Murray, thank you both so much. Have a great weekend.

HONIG: Thank you.

BERMAN: The leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, testified in his defense today at the far right group's seditious conspiracy trial.

CNN's Sara Sidner covering the trial.

Sara, what did Rhodes say on the stand today?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, he had to say his full name to the jury, took the stand and he really became his own character witness today. It was clear he was trying to get the jury to see his soft, caring side after the jury for weeks now has been seeing the often violent and angry political rhetoric coming out of Rhodes, text messages and secret recordings where he's talking about different things, talking about the potential of a civil war coming and bloody battles in the lead-up to the January 6th attack on the Capitol and after the attack happened.

Now, Rhodes put on what I would call a big show of emotion. He choked up at least three times on the stand when talking about his life and talking about his beliefs. He billed himself to the jury as nonviolent, a lover of America, a believer in the Constitution, a fighter for what is right.


He talked about -- he choked up when he was talking about the death of his mother and that he grew up poor and that his mother is partly Mexican American.

He nearly cried talking about a ceremony that happened after he had founded the Oath Keepers in 2009. There seems to be a strategy on the defense side and Mr. Rhodes' strategy to show the jury this kinder, gentler, soft side of him because they have seen literally four weeks of all kinds of violent rhetoric coming from his messaging.

BERMAN: But a soft side, but what did Rhodes say about whether the 2020 election was valid, which, of course, it was.

SIDNER: You know, it was really interesting. It's kind of a new wrinkle coming from roads who wrote an open letter to the president before the January 6th insurrection. He tried to get the president to invoke the Insurrection Act because he believed that Donald Trump should not concede. What he's testified to, though, on the stand -- and you're seeing there pictures of the members of the Oath Keepers there that's highlighted, some of whom are on trial for seditious conspiracy alongside Rhodes, who did not go in but stood outside.

But Rhodes testified that he did not believe that Donald Trump nor Joe Biden won the election, and that's something new. He said in his mind it was because the presidential election itself was unconstitutional and in his opinion, several state election laws were changed by executive fiat and they were not changed legislatively. So, he believed it wasn't a fair, free election because of the laws being changed.

One last thing, now, Rhodes made clear that he's a Yale-trained lawyer and a graduate of Yale. But he did not say something else which was that he was disbarred in 2015 -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Sara Sidner, great to have you there. Great to have you following the trial. Thanks so much.

So talk about awkward. Employees at Twitter are posting their pink slips today on Twitter. The platform's new CEO Elon Musk seems preoccupied with some else.



BERMAN: Twitter's hot mess is our tech lead. Major layoffs today, but Elon Musk didn't mention that in a tweet. Instead he complained about money. Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, he writes, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, something he calls extremely messed up.

Let's bring in CNN media analyst Sara Fischer.

Sara, what is Musk talking about here and what are advertisers say?

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Advertisers are expressing a lot of frustration. Those activist groups that you mentioned, color of change, the NAACP, are arguing that Twitter has become more filled with hate speech in the past few days, but really what advertisers are frustrated about, John, and I've done with him for the past few days is Elon Musk's own behavior, tweeting out that article that had misinformation about the attack on Paul Pelosi.

Some of the other things that he's done has made people think that he doesn't take brand safety, hate speech, violence, seriously on the platform.

BERMAN: So, as to the layoffs, our friend Donie O'Sullivan obtained the email sent to Twitter employees telling them to stay home, stay home and wait for an email today informing them of their faith. Part of it says, quote, if your employment is impacted, you'll receive a notification via your Twitter email if your employment is impacted, you receive a notification with next steps via your personal email.

So, what are you hearing about the process and just how many employees have been let go?

FISCHER: Well, it's been complete chaos. So, out of the 7,500 Twitter employees, around 3600 have been let go. And some of the teams that have been impacted are the ones that advertisers care about, teams that look on things like trust and safety.

But the reporting is right. A lot of the communication about layoffs has been so chaotic. One of the things we saw last night is that Twitter users were slacking each other messages saying it's been great working with you for the past five years, or ten years. They thought if they don't get slack access after midnight, that's when they knew they would be cut.

BERMAN: Wow. What a day it must have been for all of those people, hundreds of thousands of employees. Thank you so much.

Next, NBA star Kevin Durant's clarification today after saying the Brooklyn Nets should have kept quiet about controversial comments by his teammate Kyrie Irving.



BERMAN: The FBI says there's no danger to the public after it warned of a, quote, broad threat to synagogues in New Jersey. It's part of an alarming overall trend, a 34 percent spike in anti-Semitic incidents from 2020 to 2021. That's according to the Anti-Defamation League.

And that brings us to our sports lead. The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving after the basketball star shared a link to a widely anti- Semitic documentary last week. Irving followed that up with the week of non-apologies and after last night's suspension, Irving finally said he's sorry in a post on Instagram.

"L.A. Times" opinion columnist L.Z. Granderson joins us now.

L.Z., what do you make of the apology and timing only coming after the suspension? L.Z. GRANDERSON, OPINION COLUMNIST, L.A. TIMES: Well, I think it's

pretty evident to everyone that once his money got impacted in a significant way, all of a sudden, he had a different perspective in terms of whether or not to apologize. We're, I think, pretty used to Kyrie Irving being somewhat contrary to popular opinion, or better yet, facts. But he has now wandered into an area that he didn't think it would impact in society, and he's beginning to understand just how real the anger is.

BERMAN: You know, so much of the focus has been on him, the Nets and the NBA. I've been much more interested in his teammates, and also the public, the fans, all of whom have agency here, all of whom at any point could have said I'm not going to cheer for you, I'm not going to play with you, or I'm going to make a public statement.

And Kevin Durant, you know, his most famous teammate, he initially weighed in saying the team should have, quote, kept quiet about Irving's comments and Irving's tweet of the anti-Semitic documentary.

And then after that, though, Durant tried to qualify and said I see some people are confused. I don't condone hate speech or anti- Semitism. I'm about spreading love always.

So, again, back to my original point, how come every player on the Nets, how come every player in the NBA isn't out there saying, this anti-Semitic stuff is just offensive?

GRANDERSON: Well, I mean, you're asking me to speak for men in a league that I've never played in. I've covered but never played. So I can't speak on behalf of the entire NBA. What I can tell you is this, this is a conversation that is extremely complicated.

And I do believe that we oftentimes forget the fact that these are entertainers and that NBA players, NFL players, NHL players, et cetera, it's the only profession I can think of in which entertainers are required to give you political views as soon as they get done playing a game, et cetera. So I would like to see grace in terms of how they handle these complicated questions because in society, we have problems answering these complicated questions, and no one has a microphone asking us to answer questions right after we get done with work.

So I understand people are maybe upset with Kevin Durant. I was too a little curious as to how he placed what he did, but I encourage you to go and read the story on and it gives you a background of what the organization is trying to do behind the scenes to get Kyrie to apologize. And perhaps Durant gave that answer because he knew that was happening behind the scenes.

BERMAN: That is interesting. And there was a lot going on behind the scenes. Again, I guess what I was asking, what got me thinking about all of this is something you wrote, an opinion article in the "L.A. Times" as Kanye West was spiraling and sending awful anti-Semitic tweets. You wrote, like so many people, I kept finding ways to carve the artistry from the artist, even though I knew they were one and the same, and then one day I just stopped. Again, what that indicated to me, a reminder, we all have agency here,

when someone does something like Kyrie Irving does, any one of us can make a statement in our own way condemning this.

GRANDERSON: Yes, yes, and there are a variety of ways that we can that in addition to not cheering for Kyrie Irving. Such as how was the film being distributed, who was in charge of distributing the film? Why aren't there conversations about that?

I understand the anger towards Kyrie because he's popular, he's an athlete and, yes, he's using his platform in a way I do not approve. But he is not the only person involved in terms of the distribution and making of this film, let alone people having access to this film. So we all do need to take account in terms of where we fit into this conversation, not just Kyrie Irving, but all of us.

BERMAN: Yeah. Look, it's a great point. Your piece was wonderful. It really did open up my eyes to a lot of different things.

LZ Granderson, always great to see you. Thanks so much for being with us.

GRANDERSON: Thank you for having me.

BERMAN: So it is a tight fit on airplanes these days, but is that a safety hazard? The calls to stop the seat squeeze next.



BERMAN: In our money lead, just about everyone has dealt with shrinking seats, overlapping elbows, limited legroom on flights, now the federal government is considering whether to regulate airline seat sizes.

CNN's Pete Muntean has more on the quest for comfort.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Luxury is what flying was supposed to be. But these days, legroom is shrinking, as passengers are getting larger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things are definitely getting too small on planes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're dying. It doesn't matter what airline it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't imagine seats or aisles being smaller than they are today.

MUNTEAN: Now, the Federal Aviation Administration is considering whether to stop airlines from making seats smaller.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Evacuate, evacuate, leave everything, come this way.

MUNTEAN: The agency is under a congressional mandate to study whether seat size could slow an evacuation. But in 26,000 public comments, many focused on comfort.

PAUL HUDSON, PRESIDENT, FLYERSRIGHTS: The idea is that the more people you can jam into a plane, the more money you'll make.

MUNTEAN: FlyersRights President Paul Hudson says airlines are trying to squeeze out more profit. This week, six U.S. senators told the FAA to act urgently and not wait for seats to get any smaller. So I decided to put airlines to the test.

Two things necessary for this little experiment of our own, a ticket and a tape measurer.

On this United Airlines flight, legroom was right at the industry standard, 30 inches. But it all depends on the airline. Legroom can get tighter on ultra low cost carriers; 27 inches is what we saw on this Allegiant Airlines flight. FlyersRights proposes a minimum of 32 inches legroom and seats that are wider, dimensions it says would fit 90 percent of Americans.

HUDSON: That would make a huge difference.

MUNTEAN: In its comment to the FAA, the airline industry's top lobby said it would not compromise on safety, but told the government to stay out of regulating passenger comfort. The FAA and the Department of Transportation declined our interview requests.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: Their position to date has been, how uncomfortable you are is between you and the air carrier.


MUNTEAN (on camera): there is one airline making some news here and you might be surprised to learn that Spirit Airlines is buying new airplanes with thinner seats. It could mean an extra 2 inches of legroom -- John.

BERMAN: Pete Muntean, I thank you, and our knees thank you.

Tonight, Jake Tapper is interviewing actress Kerry Washington. That is on "CNN TONIGHT" at 9:00 Eastern. Then on "STATE OF THE UNION", Republican Party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. That's Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern and again at noon.

Our coverage continues in "THE SITUATION ROOM".