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Georgia Supreme Court Rejects GOP Bid to Halt Saturday Early Voting; Inflation Cools More Than Expected as October Prices Rose 7.7 Percent; Foxconn Offers Workers Two Months Pay to Quit, Stop Protesting. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 24, 2022 - 10:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Overnight, CNN projects Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski will win re-election in Alaska. She defeated a Trump- backed challenger. The former president targeted Murkowski after she and six other Senate Republicans voted to convict him sat a secondary impeachment trial.

Democratic Representative Mary Peltola is also projected to win her House race in Alaska ending Sarah Palin's political comeback bid, Palin also endorsed by Trump.

Also news out of Georgia, the state Supreme Court rejects an emergency request by Republicans to block countries from offering early voting this coming Saturday. Instead, voters will be able to head to the polls this weekend in that Senate runoff election between Raphael Warnock, the sitting Democratic senator, and his challenger, Herschel Walker.

Joining me now to discuss, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, White House Correspondent for The New York Times, and Laura Barron-Lopez, White House Correspondent for PBS Newshour. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you. Thanks so much for joining us this morning.



SCIUTTO: So, Laura, first on this Georgia Senate race here, they will vote on Saturday. That appears to be a loss for Republicans not just in the courtroom but politically because the Democrats in the state have done their leg work in terms of getting the vote out on this Saturday.

BARRON-LOPEZ: That is right. This has been something that the Democratic Party in Georgia has been preparing for. We also know that there are a lot of organizations on the ground, get out of the vote organizations, and have really been focused on mail-in voting, absentee voting as well as early voting in Georgia.

And one big difference here, though, Jim, for the Republican side, for Herschel Walker, is that this time around in this part of the election in the runoff, he has Brian Kemp, the Republican governor in Georgia. And Kemp has decided, even though he didn't outright endorse Walker ahead of the November election, he has now endorsed him and he is handing over all of his get out the vote operation, which is a formidable operation there in Georgia, is handing over his data information to Mitch McConnell's super PAC, which is funneling as much money behind Walker, because even though this won't determine clearly control of the Senate, it will determine whether or not it is 50/50 or 51/50.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And that has big differences on a whole host of things, including committee assignments.

Zolan, so, where is best sense as to where this race stands? Because Republicans were also hoping that they would have -- well, they're not going to have the same advantage they had in the first round of this, right, where people were coming out to vote for governor, et cetera. Where do Republicans and Democrats think the chances are in this race?

KANNO-YOUNGS: Well, remember something else that just happened in this race that very much could resonate is this ruling as well on abortion. Just after six weeks of pregnancy, the restoration of this abortion ban, and we saw across the country in other races as well, Democrats really galvanizing when they could show that abortion was on the ballot. So, that is something to watch too as this race goes on.

There is another report that happened, another moment that could be pivotal in this race, which is also this report on this tax break for Herschel Walker when it comes to the home he maybe owning in Texas as well. This is a candidate who has really, really touted his roots in the state, going back to his time as a college football star, representing. So, there will be -- it will be interesting to watch whether or not that runs the risk of undermining that image.

SCIUTTO: Laura, look into Alaska, reddest of red states here. You have two Trump-endorsed candidates lose, one two Lisa Murkowski, who Trump specifically targeted here, because she voted to convicted him in the second impeachment, and Mary Peltola winning, as a Democrat, the House seat there. Alaska does have ranked choice, though, which creates a different element for a lot of these races here. Is that another -- should we read this as another indictment of Trump's endorsement in close races like this one?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I think we can -- it definitely is a factor here in Alaska, even though as you noted, Jim, ranked choice voting definitely helped Lisa Murkowski, as well Mary Peltola. But, again, Mary Peltola was so well liked cross Alaska based on all of the reporting done on the ground, based on the fact that even there were reports that Sarah Palin liked Mary Peltola, and that that I think was a big factor here as well.

What is so striking though is that, yes, you're right, it was a heavily red district, at large district there, all of Alaska, heavily red state, and Democrats won a seat like that but then lost Democratic plus ten seats in other states across the country, which, if they have been able to keep those bluer seats, they would have been able to potentially make that a smaller margin in the House or have potentially held on to the House.


So, we saw where they kind of dropped the ball a bit in some of the bluer seats but were able to win or really give Republicans a run for their money in very competitive districts.

SCIUTTO: Look at super blue New York, for instance, the losses that they had there.

Another story, Washington Post, granted your competitor, Zolan, but they have a has a new story today describing some tension within the January 6 committee, specifically that staffers there are angry at Liz Cheney, one of the vice chairs, Republican vice chair, because she's focusing on the final report so much on the actions of Donald Trump on and around January 6.

I'm going to play a statement. Actually, I'm going to read a statement here from Cheney Spokesman Jeremy Adler responding to that criticism, quite a strong response. I'll read it. Some staff submitted subpar material for the report that reflects long-held liberal biased about federal law enforcement, Republicans and sociological issues outside of the scope of the select committee's work. She won't sign on to any narrative that suggests Republicans are inherently racists or smears men and women in law enforcement or suggests every American who believes God has blessed America is say white supremacist.

I mean, do we know what is behind this, what's behind that tension?

KANNO-YOUNGS: Well, what we could say is that this tension around not just investigating the former president, not just looking into whether or not him and his allies, just how much they were part of the planning in the days ahead of this, what they knew.

There has been tension between that focus and the security failures going to the forming of this committee, including, I think, interestingly, by also representing Cheney's own party. When this committee was getting formed, there were members of the Republican Party that were calling for more of a focus on looking at the law enforcement apparatus in some of the gaps that happened in the security planning.

I do think it is worth noting that there was an investigation as well into the security failures of that day as well by the Senate committee, as well. So, we hadn't really had -- there was a void there of an investigation to actually look at what the former president knew. We had an investigation into the security failures of that day.

SCIUTTO: All right, guys, Zolan, Laura --

BARRON-LOPEZ: Jim, could I ask add something?

SCIUTTO: Please go ahead. I saw you nodding.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. Just that I spoke to a number of former FBI officials who have said that they really feel as though the January 6th committee could have actually called forward current FBI, Secret Service officials to actually testify in front of the committee, and they feel as though that accountability there really went unanswered in the public eye.

SCIUTTO: Got it. Okay, fair enough. I'm sure more to be learned there. Well, guys, thank you for taking time out of your morning on Thanksgiving. I hope you get a break to hang out with family and friends. It is necessary today.

KANNO-YOUNGS: Thanks, Jim.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, the impact of inflation on Thanksgiving feasts. We're going to ask an expert what is pushing prices higher and when you might see them finally drop.



SCIUTTO: Families are coming together today giving thanks in a year fraught with rising inflation, a lot of economic uncertainty.

Joining me now to take a closer look, see what's coming ahead, Rob Fox, he is the director of the Knowledge Exchange Division at CoBank, leading market at industry research. Rob, it is good to have you on today and I hope you're having a Happy Thanksgiving.


SCIUTTO: I'm trying. I will soon.

So, tell us -- I mean, folks, as they were buying fixings for today, they saw the prices up for everything, right, I mean, certainly the turkeys, you name it. Why exactly? Why such a rise in all of these prices this year?

FOX: Well, I could sit here and give you a two-hour explanation but I know we don't have time for that, but I'll try to narrow it down. This has been -- our situation has been unfolding probably for about five years with -- we had successive crop failures in Europe and Australia and Canada, and that followed up by the COVID pandemic really changed the way that U.S. consumers eat and it also caused massive disruptions in supply chains, labor availability, energy costs, you name it. Then on top of that, we had the war in Ukraine, right, which sent the wheat prices doubling over the summer, right? We've come down a little bit since then. And then, finally, we have what some scientists are calling the worst drought in the Western United States in the past thousand years. So, you add all of those things up together, right, and you get where we are today. SCIUTTO: Okay. So, let me ask you, because the latest inflation

numbers on a whole host of things beyond food, but including food, they've shown at least a slight slowing of the rate of growth in recent months. Do you have any sense looking at data that it has reached its peak?

FOX: Oh, yes, it's definitely reached its peak, but, unfortunately, still, it's declining, but we're still, as that chart shows, at plus 8 percent, actually food is still above 10 percent year-on-year. So, we have reached a peak inflation but it is going to take time to ease back to just a flat level of price increase.


And, unfortunately, the way the global supply and demand situation and labor markets and climate situation, I don't think we're going to see a significant decline in food prices in the foreseeable future.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. Well, you mentioned the grain situation in Ukraine. It shows we've got a global economy here, right, on a lot of these issues. There is a U.N. broker deal that does allow Ukraine, which feeds large portions of the world, to export grain. It was meant to expire this Saturday. It's now been extended 120 days. How important is that deal?

FOX: Well, I'd say the global grain markets have kind of readjusted to the reality that the flow of grain out of Ukraine is going to be smaller than it has been. You know, just if the production aspects -- you've seen the destruction of the infrastructure and so forth, so Ukraine is not going to be able to produce the grain that it did before.

And what I'm more worried about moving forward is the global supply for fertilizer, because a lot of the world's fertilizer has come out of Russia, Belarus and the Black Sea region, and a lot -- the natural gas is the number one input fertilizer production and that is pretty stopped in Europe because of the incredibly high price of natural gas. So, you have a global shortage of fertilizer, which could have a significant impact on grain supplies moving forward.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen, some of the things are global issues. Rob Fox, Happy Thanksgiving to you.

FOX: Thanks, same to you.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, workers at China's largest iPhone assembly factory seen in these videos confronting police violently as they protested work conditions and pay. What the supplier, Foxconn, is vowing to do now for its workers.

But, first, the holiday season and all of its traditions are here, including those movies and T.V. specials you love to watch this time of year. Now, CNN is bringing you a unique look at all of your favorites. Here is a preview.


TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Christmas movies and television specials are always about someone who has lost their faith in human kind, regaining it.

PHIL ROSENTHAL, CREATOR, EVERYBODY LOVES RYAMOND: Christmas story is one of the best movies about nostalgia, and family and Christmas.

SARA SIDNER, CNN JOURNALIST: I watch it every year, at least twice. It is the script of my life.

RAMI MALEK, ACTOR: It is hard to beat Home Alone, just fun and high jinks. It is on the Mt. Rushmore of holiday movies.

RON HOWARD, DIRECTOR: Lost myself in Miracle on 34th Street.

ALONSO DURALDE, FILM CRITIC/AUTHOR: National Lampoons Christmas Vacation was capturing how the holidays make us all insane.

BEN MANKIEWICZ, HOST, TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES: There is that consistent Christmas element in Elf of change of realization.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Watch a good Christmas show and it doesn't matter when it was made. These ideas don't get old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unwrap the stories behind everything we love to watch at Christmas, a two-hour special event. 'Tis the Season, the Holidays on Screen, Sunday at 8:00 on CNN.




SCIUTTO: In China, violent clashes with police at the world's largest iPhone factory. Workers are protesting pay and poor sanitary conditions at Foxconn. This is a big Apple supplier. Foxconn has tried to end those protests by offering to pay newly recruited workers $1,400, about two months pay, to quit and leave the factory.

CNN's Selina Wang joins us now. Selina, tell us what led to this and where it stands now.

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, Jim, it has been weeks of turmoil at this factory, the world's largest iPhone factory located in Central China. And it erupted into violent protest this is week.

To try and calm that situation, Foxconn said it's offering workers $1,400 to quit and leave. That might temporarily calm the situation but it puts even more pressure on Apple. This is where analysts estimate more than half of the world's iPhones are produced.

So, these protests were driven by workers angry about wages, dirty living conditions and chaotic COVID rules. We've obtained new footage showing how those clashes turned violent. We know that squadrons of riot police rolled in.

And one of the videos you're seeing there, you could see a group of police in white hazmat suits beating workers with batons, metal rods. Other videos show workers tearing down COVID barriers, masses of the protesters, throwing those metal parts towards police. Another video shows a group of workers working together to push over a police car, cheering and chanting.

Now, we spoke to a worker who was at the protest. He said the scenes turned into a river of blood with police ruthlessly hitting workers. He also explained this pay issue. So, weeks ago, there was actually a mass exodus of workers after a COVID outbreak. People literally walking miles across highways to escape the terrible living conditions at the factory.

So, to try and attract more workers, Foxconn went on this recruitment drive promising higher pay and bonuses, but this worker said when new people arrived at the plant, the pay package given was worst than advertised and they felt cheated. And, Jim, Foxconn, for its part, is blaming the payment issue on a, quote, technical error.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. Well, listen, it led to a lot of violence. And now we know China is again tightening restrictions due to COVID, some of the worst numbers they've ever seen.


How severe is that response and what do we know about the growth in infections?

WANG: Yes, Jim. We're talking about tens of thousands of COVID cases a day, around 30,000. Now, this is a population of 1.4 billion people. That is small by international standards but considered a major surge here in China.

And we are still seeing authorities resort to the same tactics they've been using for three years, which is snap lockdowns, mass testing, quarantines. Here in Beijing, the situation is getting very severe. More and more ports of the city are going into hard lockdown. Virtually all of the businesses around me are closed. It seems teams like only a matter of time before my building is probably locked down too. But for now, even though I can technically walk outside, there is really nowhere to go. And, of course, all COVID cases, close contacts, still sent to quarantine camps, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Just such a draconian policy there. Selina Wang, thanks so much.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us today, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. I'm Jim Sciutto.

At This Hour starts right after a quick break.