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Hurricane Fiona Battering Puerto Rico, Knocking Out Electricity; National Moment Of Reflection To Honor Queen Elizabeth II; Former President Bill Clinton On The Death Of Ken Starr; Georgia Governor's Race Too Close To Call; Wall Street Waits For Federal Reserve's Expected Rate Hike; CNN Special Report On The January 6th Investigations. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 18, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington and we begin with breaking news. Hurricane Fiona has officially made landfall and is battering the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. Heavy rainfall and winds gusting to over 100 miles an hour is now slamming the island.

And the entire island of 3 million Americans is under a total blackout right now after the power grid failed a few hours ago. That means torrential rain, catastrophic flooding, mud slides and days of power outages are expected in the days ahead.

CNN's Chad Myers is tracking Fiona in the weather center right now, but first, let's go to Leyla Santiago in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Leyla, I know you have a lot of experience covering storms in Puerto Rico. How are things looking right now and do we have any sense as to when the power might come back on?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're being told it could be days before power is fully restored, but Jim, I want to take you straight to video that we are just getting from Utuado, Puerto Rico. It is in the center part of the island. And I just spoke to a gentleman. His name is Lomar Rodriguez and he shot this video that we're -- matter of minutes. He saw that the water was rising and it completely took the bridge out in that area.

Again, this is in the interior part of the island. This was an area that was one of the worst hits, nearly five years ago to the day in the interior part of the island. So, take note of the timing here because that is a critical part of this story, too. Not only is this island dealing with an island-wide power outage, flash flooding, possible mud slides.

Rescue teams are already at work as Fiona has already made landfall. But they're also doing this at a time where this is when Hurricane Maria struck nearly five years ago and they've been constantly dealing with power outages.

So, earlier today, I went in to Caguas, which is about 30 minutes south of San Juan and I spoke to a family that lost power 8:00 this morning before things really started to pick up. And they were quick to say, look, after Maria, we were without power for a year and here we go again. The trauma lingers. Let me go ahead and let you listen to that exchange, but I will let you know the video is a little dark because there wasn't power.


UNKNOWN: (Speaking in foreign language).

SANTIAGO: She was a year without power after Hurricane Maria. (Speaking in foreign language). I'm asking her if that's what she thinks about when the rain comes? She says, yeah.

UNKNOWN: (Speaking in foreign language).

SANTIAGO: She says every single time that there is rain that comes down for three or four days, they go weeks without power.


SANTIAGO: And again, remember, I mean, this is an island that not only dealt with Hurricane Maria on September 20th, 2017. They've also had earthquakes that have battered the southern part of the island. The same part of the island where Fiona is right now causing rivers to swell, flooding, and we're only starting to see some of the major impacts being captured right now, Jim.

ACOSTA: Alright. Leyla Santiago, thank you very much. Some very disturbing video there. Chad Myers, let me go to you on this. And I know you want to show us the speed and the direction of this storm and where it's heading, but that video that Leyla was showing us just a few moments ago, that bridge getting washed out, if we could show it one more time. And Chad, this is, well, you were mentioning this in the previous hour. The danger of flash flooding is so severe right now that it seems like this could be repeating themselves for hours now, for days, potentially.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, Jim. There are places and rivers that have river gauges that are now higher than during Maria. That's how much rainfall this storm is putting down. It is a slow, lumbering storm, 85-mile-per-hour winds, with 105-mile-per-hour gusts, 100-mile-per-hour gust, but it's just moisture surge that's coming off of the gulf, coming off of the Caribbean Sea. And the rain just hasn't stopped.


And there are spots now, I know that there are spots with 15 inches already on the ground. For a bit, the radar went out, the communications didn't work so well, after about when the power outage happened. But we're now back now, so we can still see that the rain hasn't stopped. It's coming in, in the exact same places.

Every single customer without power on the island. So, pumps don't work, refrigerators don't work. A 103-mile-per-hour wind gusts as high as I've seen so far in Ponce. That is the area there that was hit with the northern part of the eye wall. And the eye wall is worse than the eye. Getting in the eye is okay because it's fairly calm. You just have to go through both eye walls to get there. So that's the problem.

Ponce just never got any relief from that northern eye wall with the winds just blowing for hours and hours and hours. This is a flood maker. This is a flash flood maker. This is a mud slide maker. There are different things for different hurricanes. That's its problem, our big problem, is the flooding.

Not so much the storm surge. We have 1 to 3 feet. We can handle that along the beach, but not when you start putting that much water on top of hills. The 5:00 advisory just came in, here it is. Now we are up by Wednesday afternoon to a 125-mile-per-hour storm. And I know it's not approaching the U.S. but the waves will. And the dangers of rip currents for next week will be significant, all up and down the east coast. Jim?

ACOSTA: Alright, Chad Myers, thanks for staying on top of it. As always, we appreciate it. Let's bring in the acting director of the National Hurricane Center, Jamie Rhome. Jaime, we just saw some devastating video a few moments ago of this bridge getting washed away in Puerto Rico. And Chad Myers was talking about, you know, that the flash flooding concerns are just going to be paramount over the next day or so.

And while we always talk about how coasts are affected by these hurricanes, I suspect it's the interior of Puerto Rico where they're really going to have to keep an eye on things and it could get quite dangerous. What do you have your eye on?

JAMIE RHOME, ACTING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: You know, the footage that you opened up with, with that flash flooding and just how catastrophic it can unfold in just a few seconds. It's probably going to play itself out through the rest of the evening, and more scary, overnight.

Once the sun comes down, then things are going to become even more treacherous for people to be out and about. Hopefully everyone is where they want to be because with power outages, there will be no lights, you won't be able to see anything. And that flooding could get worse in the overnight hours.

ACOSTA: And Jamie, the National Hurricane Center just put out a statement saying the storm is causing, quote, "catastrophic flooding." Can you put that into concrete terms for us?

RHOME: We're looking at storm total precipitation of over 2 feet. Two feet of water following -- can cause an -- and Chad alluded to it in the opening. We're seeing some of our gauges that measure river stages come up at the pace I haven't seen in quite a while, if ever. And so, it's just really, really, really flashy, which means that the water will rise in the order of minutes and hours and can just take you completely off-guard.

ACOSTA: And how long of a threat is this going to be for our fellow Americans there in Puerto Rico? RHOME: Unfortunately, it's going to linger well beyond once the center

moves away from Puerto Rico, overnight, and then until tomorrow. And you can see that here. You can just see all of this heavy rain and tropical moisture streaming to the east. So, even as Fiona moves off in this direction overnight and tomorrow, you're still going to get the southerly flow and the potential for even more training rains to happen tomorrow.

ACOSTA: Alright, Jamie Rhome in the National Hurricane Center, thank you very much. And I'm joined now by the former mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulin Cruz. Thank you so much for being with us. All of Puerto Rico lost power before Fiona could even make landfall. Luma Energy, we understand, says it could be days before this power is restored. What can you tell us? What does this mean for the people of Puerto Rico?

CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, FORMER MAYOR OF SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: Well, first of all, Jim, we are seeing tragedy unraveling in front of our eyes again. And if things are not done in a different way, we're headed for the same results. I find myself now in the diaspora with my heart broken, with my family, my daughter, my parents in Puerto Rico and my father bedridden.

And I can hear the pain and the desperation and you can probably hear it in my voice. So, here I go again, four years, 363 days later, to plea with the president of the United States and the vice president. Action has to be directed at one thing, and it is to save lives. It has to be swift. It cannot be bureaucratically directed or driven. It has to be people driven, it has to be robust, and it has to be laser focused on three things.


One -- in my opinion. One is getting the electrical grid back on track. How can we do that? Well, there can be deployment from the Army, right now, as we speak, so that they can get there as soon as they can, with helicopters, with airplanes, as soon as they can land.

Two, the Jones Act can be repealed immediately so that people from Panama and other nearing countries can come in and help the Puerto Rican people to just lift up the electrical grid. Number two, the health system in Puerto Rico, the hospital, especially the tertionary (ph) hospital which is the Centro Medico in San Juan right now. Make sure that the generators are there. That the dialysis centers are working.

And number three, not allow this tragedy, which is unfolding, to be weaponized as it was in the past. But to use not only governmental entities, take the aid directly to the mayors, bypass the central governments where things get into a bottle neck at some point, and use religious organizations and community organizations and nongovernmental organizations.

If these things are not done, we would have not learned anything from Maria and we are looking at hundreds and God forbid, thousands of lives, again, to be lost, now on President Biden's watch. ACOSTA: And you led San Juan's recovery from Hurricane Maria. One of

the deadliest storms to hit the island. We all remember what happened in the days that followed that storm, just devastating, what took place there. It's been five years since Maria, and you talked about this just a few moments ago. How is it that Puerto Rico's power grid is not any better equipped to handle the situation there?

CRUZ: Not only that, last week, in Congress, it was said to the current governor of Puerto Rico, which of course, has only been in power for -- since early 2021, that only $40 million have been used, of the billions of dollars that have been designated for that. One of the things is that in the midst of all of this, privatization reared its ugly head.

And it went from hundreds of employees of the electrical power authority being displaced to other jobs that they're not even qualified to do. They're qualified to work with the power grids. It is said right now in Puerto Rico that Luma Energy has hired people to work on the grid from outside of Puerto Rico, but they cannot come in, because, of course, the airlines are not working at this point in time.

So, this is why, number one, it is quite important to reconstruct that grid, not in the same way. We should be putting those lampposts or the wiring underneath so that just a gust of wind does not take them away. This morning, around 9:00 a.m., my parents did not have electricity in the north -- northern part of Puerto Rico.

So, it has been not a good job done by the governmental entities in Puerto Rico, making sure that things are done not to pay the bond holders, but to ensure that tragedy, as we are seeing it unfold, does not repeat itself. I think, right now, Congress needs to take a look at this and act on it. And make sure that the power grid of Puerto Rico is not only rebuilt, but it is -- it is rebuilt in accordance with the way that it takes into account the reality of climate change. And the reality that these storms are going to continue coming.

ACOSTA: Right. Yeah.

CRUZ: And I think that is important. And again, President Biden and Vice President Harris have an opportunity now to show the world how it is done when your only goal is to save lives.

ACOSTA: Right. Alright, former San Juan mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, thank you very much for your insights. We know you've learned a lot and hopefully those lessons will get learned. We appreciate it. CNN's chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir joins us now.

Bill, I mean, just to dovetail off of what the former mayor was just saying a few moments ago, she was saying that, you know, that this power grid in Puerto Rico, it needs to be rebuilt. It needs to be fortified with climate change, with the realities of climate change in mind. And we're seeing this island -- we're in the initial stages of all of this, keep in mind. But we're seeing potentially this island going through what happened during Hurricane Maria.


And I know you covered that. What's going through your mind right now as we see this island get battered once again?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Incredible frustration, you know. Just the frustration of a thousand suns because everything you're saying now, everything the mayor just said, we heard four years ago. That this was going to be an opportunity to rebuild this island nation of Americans, and do it in the right way, in a smart, sustainable way, and use indigenous energy from the wind and from the sun.

But now, five years later, I think 4 percent of the grid is renewable now. You're just as likely to hear diesel generators and those who can afford it, gas generators keeping the lights on. A lot of blue tarps where there should be actual permanent construction. It was a frustrating, both sort of unnatural and then man-made disaster when we covered it four or five years ago.

CNN, you know, really uncovered that they were underreporting the number of fatalities, which ended up close to 3,000 total. But here we go again. And it's just so worrisome. What has changed since then, of course, is a different administration. Back five years ago, I just remember how the Trump administration awarded $300 million contract to this Whitefish Energy out of Montana. They had two employees at the time and that was sort of scandalous and fell apart.

And then there's been one sort of misadventure when it comes to their energy grid after another. Since then, a couple of different governments. But my heart goes out to those folks tonight in the dark and with maybe a foot and a half of rain in the next 36 hours. Yeah, it's not good.

ACOSTA: It's not good. And of course, we all remember former President Trump tossing those rolls of paper towels to people, which also seemed to typify a lot of the mishandling of the aftermath of that hurricane. Bill, let's show some video of you on the ground, back then.

I remember this coverage. It was just extraordinary. You and your crew, what you guys saw, what you witnessed. What do you remember about the aftermath of Maria and why is it, does it feel like Puerto Rico is in the same boat one more time?

WEIR: Yeah. You know, it's such a rugged country. That's Aguas Buenas, you know, sort of in the interior where Maria's winds were so much more violent than they are now. That was a Cat 4, 160, 170-mile-an- hour winds. It came out of the sky like a chain saw and just took these mountain communities down.

Now, they're just as equally vulnerable now to mud slides and those steep passes in those canyons there, the roads, the bridges are pretty vulnerable. The fresh water supplies we covered in the days after are so fragile there, as well. So, yeah, it's just more of the same. A lot of these folks weren't able to get back on their feet.

The proud Puerto Rican, the Boricuas, they're tough. They, you know, they're used to rebuilding. They're used to battening down the hatches, more than, obviously most. We don't have this as a regular part of their lives.

But, yeah, it brings back so many memories of folks who were either cut off from fresh water and supplies, who were in the dark for months, if not a year afterwards, even in San Juan, even in the big cities. And how you really rely as much on your neighbors and your community in that situation as you can from officials, or, you know, authorities that you would be used to in the mainland.

ACOSTA: Yeah, no question about it. And we were showing this video a few moments ago of this bridge getting washed away with these rising floodwaters. Bill, I know you know the island so well. It appears, this time around, we're looking at this video one more time, that it's the interior of the island that's going to be in a lot of trouble in the hours ahead. Bill Weir, thank you so much. As we keep our eye on all of this, of course, we'll touch base with you once again. I appreciate the expertise.

It's being described as the most complex security operation London has ever seen. Coming up, the huge feat of safeguarding the city as 2 million people and leaders from around the world ascend on London for the Queen's funeral.



ACOSTA: Tomorrow, the world says its final farewell to Queen Elizabeth II ahead of her state funeral. A national moment of reflection was held this evening.


In just over eight hours, the public viewing of the Queen's lying-in state will end. Thousands have already stood in this miles-long line, waiting to file past her coffin, and more than 2 million people are expected to witness tomorrow's state funeral in London. Of course, many millions more from around the world.

Leaders from across the globe have already arrived, including President Biden who paid his respects as the Queen lies in state in Westminster Hall. From there, Biden and other major world leaders headed to Buckingham Palace for a reception hosted by King Charles III. And my next guest worked as a royal chef in the royal kitchens of Buckingham Palace during the 1980's and recently retired a as the director of the renowned George Brown Culinary School in Toronto.

Chef John Higgins, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it. You know, chef, as you know, the Queen was beloved by so many people. There are very few who can say they actually got to dance with her. Give us your memories, what you're thinking about this evening.


JOHN HIGGINS, FORMER CHEF TO QUEEN ELIZABETH II: First of all, Jim, good evening and (inaudible). You know, living at Buckingham Palace was the most incredible experience I've ever had in my life. You know, sometimes you look from the outside and you wonder what it's like inside. Well, I (inaudible) seven, eight times for a job. I eventually got there and needless to say, I got to see the inner sanctum of her life by (inaudible).

And I was very privileged in a lot of ways to travel with the royal family to their different locations, whether it was Balmoral Castle, Windsor Castle, or my favorite was up in Scotland to Balmoral. And I was very fortunate to do every year, to do the Ghillies Ball, and its Scottish country dancing and I was very happy to say that I actually got to do Scottish country dancing with the Queen, the Queen mother and Princess Anne, the royal family.

And I'm not, I mean, yes, definitely you can tell with this accent, I'm a little bit Scottish, but I'm not a great Scottish country dancer. But the most important thing is they made me feel at ease and you are very relaxed and it was a gracious evening, and something I will never, ever forget.

ACOSTA: Well, those are certainly bragging rights, as we might describe it here in the United States, to have had that kind of experience. What was she like and did you have any do's and don'ts when it came to cooking for the Queen?

HIGGINS: Yeah, I mean, it was, I mean, very gracious, very gracious lady, very respectful. And cooking was, you know, people say, what was it like? Well, very simple. It was just great product, cooked very simply with a lot of good technique and let the food do the talking. But there was one thing, you know, everyone said, did you ever get anything sent back from the Queen?

I said, no, no, really, apart from one little time that I casually -- I could cook the food for the corgis and the royal dogs, and (inaudible) you cooked the hares and rabbits and I cooked bouillon just like a savory broth and you can taste them (inaudible) and even days, no problem. You know, this is, you know, because the faster we do this, we can put it through the meat grinder and (inaudible) and the food came back about half an hour later and it was, you know, let's go back to the way we were doing it before. That's the way it should be.

So, the (inaudible) tradition with the food is prepared, but even for the dogs, even in today's world, I cook for my two dogs with the same passion as I cook for guests coming to my house (inaudible). You know, I learned the (inaudible) that simple things if not treat everyone equally, even the royal dogs.

ACOSTA: I was going to say those are some lucky dogs. And you also got the opportunity to meet Princes William and Harry back when they were young boys with Princess Diana. I just wonder what's it like, chef, when you watch the footage now and the way these young boys became men. What's that experience been like for you, having known this family fairly well?

HIGGINSL: Yeah, it was more -- I got to meet Princess Di. The kids were often (inaudible) I came to the states and I've (inaudible) to Canada. I mean, just looking from afar and listening to the staff, I'm still in contact with the palace, it's been an evolution. I mean, life has changed. I mean, you think of the technology has changed, the whole royal family has changed.

And I think it's -- I always say, it's respecting the tradition, but embracing the future. So, definitely, the world has turned upside down in all of those years, but you know, the glue that's kept the whole royal family, as far as I'm concerned together, has been definitely the Queen. So, it will be interesting to see in the next 10 to 15 years how the family evolves. And as we say in the cooking world, learning is the main ingredient. So, it will be interesting to see what happens, Jim.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. There might be a little trial and error, I suppose in the days ahead. Chef John Higgins --

HIGGINS: I mean, nothing's perfect.

ACOSTA: Nothing is perfect. That's right. Chef, thanks so much. And it's what you make of it, as you know, as a chef. Thank you, John Higgins, very much. We appreciate it.

HIGGINS: Alright, Jim. Take care.

ACOSTA: Alright, you too.

Tomorrow, as many as 2 million people are expected to descend on the city of London for Queen Elizabeth's funeral. The royal family will walk behind the Queen's coffin as it makes its way from Westminster Hall to near Westminster Abbey.

As you can imagine, the enormous crowds gathered to see the procession has created a massive security challenge for London. Not to mention the presidents of major world leaders for the funeral. From President Biden to the presidents of France, Germany, Sou Korea, Israel, the prime ministers from Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The emperor of Japan, and kings, queens, and other royalties from places including Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, just to name a few.

I don't know if I got through them all, but got came pretty close. Joining us to talk about this, CNN national security analyst and former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem.

Juliette, the crowds on this procession route, I was thinking about this, too. My goodness, this had to have been a massive security headache there in London. What were your thoughts watching all of this?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean, absolutely, every step of it, because one of the challenges that's going on right now is the police have to abide by what the crown wants.

[17:30:00] I mean, in other words, they can't push back and say, no, she can't go to, you know, the royal family can't walk. This plan for her funeral has been in place since the 1960s, as Operation London Bridge. It has been changed, obviously, but you anticipate a succession.

And so, the police had basically been handed a plan and now are told make it safe. And that's hard because the different pieces, the different threats, the different modes of transportation that are occurring across everything from the city to the crowd to the company and the VIP's, to of course, the members of the royal family.

This is complex, but it is manageable, mostly because they're shutting the city down. I mean, you're just saying nothing else is going on.

ACOSTA: Right. That's right. And we mentioned all of the world leaders who will all be filing in to one place, Westminster Abby, for the funeral. How do you navigate that?

KAYYEM: Yeah, So, there's protocols between various -- let's say, VIP security apparatus. So, in our case, we know the Secret Service, but you can imagine, the emperor of Japan has a lot of interests. His people have a lot of interests. So, those are working together. In some ways, this has already been cured by taking away the ability of them to bring entourages.

This is not like Nelson Mandela's funeral where it was a little bit of a celebration. This is much more solemn because Westminster Abbey is limited in how many people can have -- Nelson Mandela's for example was a large athletic stadium.

And so, they've limited the number of people. And then these security services have worked together in the past. Just think, Biden has visited the Queen and others. The actually unique one that you mentioned is the emperor of Japan, who this is considered a new thing. He does not travel to go visit others.

I've been thinking over the last week and a half of coverage, sort of how interesting safety and security is from the perspective of the crown. You know, the crown doesn't have power. It just has its ability to show order. And I think in many ways, keeping this safe and secure is another way of them sort of asserting power at a time when many people do question it.

ACOSTA: And you mentioned the funeral, the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. I covered that for CNN. And one of the most extraordinary things that we're going to see, I suppose tomorrow, based on that experience is all of these world leaders rubbing elbows with one another in ways that, you know, we just don't see very often in life. And I just wonder what that's going to be like.

KAYYEM: Yeah. So, part of it -- so the abbey event is going to be quite solemn. So, we know that the different pieces are sort of playing out. There's going to then also be a procession, which is going to be focused on the family. So, I think that somberness actually will sort of, I think, calm some of the energy that you saw, Jim, at the Nelson Mandela funeral, which was much more festive for a variety of reasons.

This culturally is not festive. This is now the moment when all -- everything has been happening the week and a half -- is focused on a place and, of course, her memorial. So, in some ways, as I said, it makes it easier in many ways because you're not going to have a lot of sorts of chaos around these people and the VIPs.

But of course, there'll be normal security. The Westminster has been probably secured -- not probably, has been secured since the announcement of her death and in terms of controlling crowds because, look, this is the scary thing for them, right? Anything happening anywhere in the city doesn't have to be directed towards the events of this --

ACOSTA: Sort of raise alarm bells, yeah.

KAYYEM: -- yeah, it is. It would be disruptive.

ACOSTA: Yeah. Alright, Juliette Kayyem, thanks for that. We appreciate it.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

ACOSTA: And join CNN from London as the world remembers Queen Elizabeth II. Our live coverage of the state funeral begins tomorrow at 5:00 a.m.

Coming up, former President Clinton reacting to the death of Ken Starr, the independent counsel whose investigation ultimately led to Clinton's impeachment.



ACOSTA: New today, former President Bill Clinton is for the first time reacting to the death of Ken Starr, the independent counsel who pursued him through a series of political scandals that ultimately led to his impeachment. Here's what he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I read the obituary and I realized that his family loved him and I think that's something to be grateful for and when your life is over, that's all there is to say. But I was taught not to talk about people that I, you know -- I have nothing to say, except I'm glad he died with the love of his family.


ACOSTA: Starr's investigation of Clinton began when he was appointed to look into the Whitewater case, but that later expanded to include Paula Jones' allegations of sexual harassment and then most famously the president's affair with Monica Lewinsky. Later on in the interview, Clinton expressed optimism for the

Democrats' chances in the midterms, but the former president had a word of caution.


CLINTON: We can hold both these houses. But we have to say the right things.


And we have to know that the Republicans always close well. Why? Because they find some new way to scare the living daylights out of swing voters about something. That's what they did in 2021 when they made critical race theory sound worse than smallpox. And it wasn't being taught in any public schools in America, but they didn't care. They just scared people.

And at the end, the break point in American politics is not much different than it was in the '90s. And you still have to get those people. It's just that there's so many fewer, because as the parties have gone more ideological and clearer and in somehow psychically intolerant, they pull fewer the more and more people towards the extremes. But there's still some people hanging on there who are really trying to think and trying to understand what's going on.


ACOSTA: And coming up, we are counting down to the midterms. And in battleground Georgia, polls show a closely watched race for governor is too close to call.



ACOSTA: Just 51 days until the midterms and one of the closest races is in Georgia between Stacey Abrams and current Georgia governor, Brian Kemp. CNN's Eva McKend has the latest on the razor-thin race.

EVA MCKEND, CNN CORRESPONENT: In recent days, as Governor Kemp has been speaking with Republican voters, he's been telling them not to take their feet off the gas, essentially arguing that Democrats have outworked Republicans in the last two election cycles here. So many issues top of mind for voters. Whether it be the economy and inflation or the future of reproductive access in this country.

But also in this state, a local issue of concern, health care. In a related matter, Medicaid expansion, Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams supporting Medicaid expansion. Governor Kemp does not. Take a listen to how they speak about these issues out on the trail.


STACEY ABRAMS, GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE IN GEORGIA: We need a governor who understands we don't get to choose our battles, but we get to choose our warriors. And I am here to fight for you. That's what I'm here for. I'm here to fight for the workers who won't understand that they have the right to be seen and heard and paid a living wage in a state of Georgia. I'm here for the families that are in need of health care, but are being denied access because Brian Kemp will not expand Medicaid in the state of Georgia.

BRIAN KEMP, GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA: During my term as governor because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have added over 600,000 Medicaid patients to the rolls. So, if that was the solution, then why did the hospital close? Almost 600,000 new Medicaid patients right now in our state. And they're blaming this on Medicaid expansion. They are not being truthful.


MCKEND: With just seven weeks to go until election day, all eyes also on the crucial Senate contest in this state. Democrat Raphael Warnock contending with Republican challenger Herschel Walker. That contest is so important because it could help determine the balance of power in Washington. Jim?

ACOSTA: Eva McKend, thank you. And now here is Christine Romans with your "Before the Bell Report." Hi Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Jim, the Rolling Stones saying I'm just waiting on a friend, Wall Street is just waiting on the Fed. Policy makers meet two days this week. Tuesday and Wednesday, another interest rate hike is all but guaranteed. It would be the fifth rate hike this year. And another whopper is expected, 75 basis points.

Why? Well, the Fed is on a mission to get inflation under control and wrestle it back towards its inflation target of 2 percent. It's a long way from there right now. We learned annual consumer inflation in August is still a hot 8.3 percent. Cooling slightly from June and July, but underlying inflation appears to be spreading.

Gas prices have been falling, but food prices rose the fastest since 1979. Higher official rates make it more expensive for you to borrow for your car, your home, and on credit cards. We'll get more housing data this week. More clues to the health of real estate.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has topped 6 percent for the first time since 2008, up more than double from last year. Also, this week, bank CEOs will be grilled on Capitol Hill and face tough questions from progressives. In New York, I'm Christine Romans.



ACOSTA: For more than a year, the January 6th committee has interviewed thousands of witnesses and pieced together their testimonies with videos, texts, and e-mails to uncover the truth about that fateful day at the Capitol. And now in advance of the committee's first report, CNN's Jake Tapper takes a look at the evidence. Jake? JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Jim, we sat down with Trump White House

insiders, administration insiders, and Republican members of the Select House Committee investigating the January 6th assault on the capitol. They all provide details and insights that enhance and sometimes go beyond what we learned during the hearings. They also shared a warning for all of us.


TAPPER: A lot of the people that we've interviewed have expressed concerns not just about what happened, but what will happen. In fact, we see a whole bunch of election liars running for office. Are you worried?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I'm very worried. The responsibility that we all have to make sure we defend our republic and that we defend our institutions has to be above politics. There are people running so that they are in a position that they will be able to certify the results only for Donald Trump. That's obviously fundamentally a threat to the survival of the republic and I think those people have all got to be defeated.

TAPPER: You've been shouting from the rooftops, this is not just about 2020. You're worried about 2024. You're worried about future elections.

J. MICAHEL LUTTIG, RETIRED U.S. FEDERAL JUDGE: I am and right now the former president and his allies and supporters, including in Congress, and including in the states, represent a clear and present danger to American democracy. That is not because of what they did on January 6, it's because of what they pledged to do in 2024.


TAPPER: Do you think that Republicans are hearing what you're saying?

LUTTIG: I hope they are. There is no evidence that they've heard anything to date.


TAPPER: Our two-hour special report is hopefully a powerful reminder of just how much the select committee investigation has already revealed and it's quite shocking and frankly disgraceful, Jim.

ACOSTA: And don't miss the CNN Special Report "American Coup, The January 6 Investigation" tonight at 9:00 only on CNN. That's news. Reporting from Washington. I'm Jim Acosta. See you next weekend. Pamela Brown takes over our live coverage of Fiona as that hurricane hits Puerto Rico. The total loss of power on that island. All of that coverage coming up in a few moments. Stay with us right after a quick break.