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Senate Control Hangs on Three States, GOP Closer to Taking House; Elon Musk Warns Twitter Staff of Possible Bankruptcy; Russian Troops Leave Kherson in Major Win for Ukrainians. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 11, 2022 - 07:00   ET




STEPHEN COLBERT, THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT HOST: This is going to change the balance of power in my tumtum.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I think that is my favorite thing --

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: That just made me hungry.

LEMON: -- that he's ever done. I think we found a new way for Wolf to do the key race alert. Maybe we can hand them out to our viewers at home.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Where's our buzzer?

COLLINS: That's such a good idea.

LEMON: It's this, right?

HARLOW: That made my day.

LEMON: Good morning, everyone, Friday, November 11th, and a lot to get to this morning, right?

HARLOW: A lot. Control of Congress, as you just heard, still in question. The votes keep trickling in but some races tightening, others widening. And the House Republicans are inching towards the 218 seats they need to take control. Although Democrats still have a very narrow long shot path to victory there. In the Senate three races remain undecided. If either party can lay claim to both Arizona and Nevada, the chamber belongs to them.

COLLINS: But Arizona still too close to call when it comes to the Senate race. Democrats are waking up more hopeful a teensy tiny bit more hopeful after the latest votes that were counted did helped incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly widen his lead over the Republican candidate, Blake Masters. The Arizona governor's race is also still too close to call and it's still undecided. The Democrat, Katie Hobbs, has extended her narrow lead over Kari Lake, who is an election denier, after the latest update of votes there.

More than half a million votes still need to be counted though in Arizona, and Maricopa County alone estimates it's got about as many of 350,000 remaining ballots to tabulate.

Let's go to Don and John at the magic wall as we are waiting on what the numbers look like and how long it is going to do to do this counting.

LEMON: I'm over Berman territory. Good morning, sir. Where do things stand?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, Poppy said the Democrats have a narrow path, a very narrow path to maybe keeping the House. Right now, the races that have been called, Republicans hold 211 seats, Democrats 198 seats. There are 26 districts that still have yet to be called. Republicans would need to win seven of them to take control of the House. Democrats would need to win 20 of them to keep control of the House.

Where are these 26 races right now? Republicans lead in 11, they need seven. Democrats lead in 15, they need 20. Could Democrats get those five seats? Could they turn five of these red seats blue? Maybe. It's a tall order but maybe.

Let's look at them one by one here. Democrats need five seats. In Maryland, Maryland's sixth congressional district over here. Right now the Republican is actually leading but this is a race that looks pretty good for the Democrats. There is still vote to be counted in Montgomery County, which is heavily Democratic.

So, for argument's sake, I'm just trying to show you how Democrats could do this, for argument's sake, let's say they do pick up that seat. Okay, that's one. Let's keep going. This is Colorado. Everyone has been talking about the third congressional district. This is Lauren Boebert. She has now pulled ahead by 1,000-plus votes. As more votes come in, she's actually extended her lead. But there are more votes out there. Let's say Adam Frisch was able to turn this around, so we'll give this to Democrats in this hypothetical count. If they were able to turn that, that's two seats.

Where it gets really interesting is California, a lot of races in California and a lot of vote left to count there. Let's dig in a little bit. There's this seat here, just 45 percent reported. There's a 10,000 vote margin. So, maybe that's one in California. This race is really close. This is only separated by 260 votes, 44 percent in. That would be two races in California. And let's go down here, I'll show you a race that's pretty close in the south. You can see Ken Calvert, he is ahead there by about 1,200 votes, 43 percent in. So, that would be three, three in California. Let's write that down, I said they needed five. And that would be one, two, three, four, five. That would get Democrats there. It's a very narrow path.

They're yelling at me in the control room to talk about the Senate. Very quickly, in Nevada, right now, Adam Laxalt, the Republican's lead shrunk overnight as they counted more votes in Washoe and Clark County, 95,000 votes left to count. If the percentages stay the same that they have for Catherine Cortez Masto, she has a chance to overtake Adam Laxalt.

And in Arizona, Mark Kelly leads by 115,000 votes, Blake Masters trailing. There's about 540,000 votes left. We just don't know. It depends on the shape of that vote. Some 340,000 votes left to count in Maricopa County, including a lot of votes handed in on Election Day, which do skew Republican.


But Mark Kelly has a sizable lead there. Democrats kind of waking with a smile in Arizona.

LEMON: I don't know how you keep track of all this, but can you imagine the scenario that you had before at the Senate, if that played out that way, that would just be crazy.

BERMAN: With the House. I wanted to point -- I wanted to show how Democrats could do it. It's not the most likely scenario but there is still a path.

LEMON: But, yes, there is a path. Thank you, John Berman.

Well, let's get now to Josh Campbell, who is in Phoenix, outside the Maricopa County elections center. Good morning to you. Are we hearing anything from the candidates while they're in limbo here?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are waiting, Don. Obviously, we're getting a lot of optimism from all four of the key major candidates here, as Berman was just discussing, in this race between Senator Mark Kelly and venture capitalist Blake Masters, as well as the gubernatorial race between the secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, and Republican Kari Lake. All four of them are saying that they're optimistic that they expect at the end of the count that they will come out ahead.

But, Don, it's particularly comments from Kari Lake that is REALLY drawing the ire of election officials here in Maricopa County. She is alleging that officials HERE are slow rolling or slow walking the election count for political reasons. Officials coming out yesterday and blasting her, including the Republican who actually runs elections here. Watch.


BILL GATES, CHAIR, MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Quite frankly, it is offensive for Kari Lake to say that these people behind me are slow rolling this when they're working 14 to 18 hours. So, I really hope this is the end of that now. We can be patient and respect the results when they come out.

ALLIE BONES, ARIZONA ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: It's ironic to us that people who are calling, you know, into question the integrity of this election and want faster results don't understand that it's actually those processes that add the integrity to our election process.


CAMPBELL: And let me very quickly explain to you what is unique here. Officials say that of the 340,000 votes here in Maricopa County, 290,000 of those were voters who actually brought their mail-in ballot to the polls on Election Day, that a record number. If you vote here on Election Day, those are tabulated very quickly. But if you have to bring a mail-in ballot, there's a whole other process. They have to verify the signature, they have to the voter. This is why our friend, John King, continues to say, patience, patience, because the process is playing itself out, that despite these conspiracy theories that we're hearing.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that those conspiracy theories are very real and have real consequences. That's why the building behind me, the election center, is surrounded right now by sheriff's deputies. They are here, of course, as we've seen in this modern era, this common place, election workers doing their civic duty now have armed guards outside just in case.

LEMON: Yes. Both Johns saying patients, John Berman and John King. Thank you, both Campbell, thank you John Berman, I appreciate it. Poppy?

HARLOW: Okay. So, this morning, a really significant development when it comes to canceling student loan debt, President Biden's plan to cancel billions of dollars in student debt is facing a significant new legal obstacle. This is after it was struck down yesterday by a Trump- appointed federal judge in Texas declaring it illegal. That was Judge Mark Pitman, who said, quote, in his opinion, in this country, we are not ruled by an all powerful executive with a pen and a phone, instead we are ruled by a Constitution that requires three distinct and independent branches of government, basically saying the White House overreached here. The Justice Department is going to appeal the decision.

The forgiveness program was already on hold because of a separate 8th Circuit stay. The White House though says they're going to hold on the information of all 26 million of you who have applied for that debt relief to see if the federal court decision is reversed. And this is a case that very well may end up before the Supreme Court.

COLLINS: And as we wait to see what happens there, how is this for a first message from your new boss? A staff-wide email that was sent in the middle of the night, Elon Musk suggesting the company could go into bankruptcy as executives are resigning, advertisers are fleeing and trolls are running rampant on the platform since he took over.

We have Rahel Solomon here to joins with more on breaking down, really, turmoil at Twitter. And I feel like it's these last 12 hours that had been especially chaotic.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Which is really saying something, right? Yes, I mean, it's hard to overstate the chaos, guys. So, one recently laidoff Twitter employee telling our colleague, Oliver Darcy, quote, it feels like the beginning of the end, honestly, describing the company as the Titanic with everyone looking for lifeboats. So, that includes top executives, some of the resignations reported in just the past couple of days, the head of trust and safety, Twitter's chief information security officer, chief privacy officer.

And to make matters worse, the exits of some of those last executives come after a senior member of Twitter's legal team also warned in an internal company message that his sole -- Musk -- his sole priority was recouping the losses that he's incurring as a result of failing to get out of this binding obligation to buy Twitter.

So, the loss of those senior execs also, guys, makes is it much more difficult to lure already skeptical advertisers. Also not helping, an explosion of trolls and others creating imposter accounts after Musk effectively blew up verification on Twitter.


You can see somebody pretending to be a fake Donald Trump account. And Twitter has also given a blue checkmark to Jesus Christ, yes, Jesus Christ. Some things are getting a bit confusing on the site, some would say a little -- he has risen.

LEMON: Exactly how do you authenticate that? That was -- hold on a second.

SOLOMON: Okay. If I'm being fair, I stole that from Donie O'Sullivan's Twitter -- full transparency. But it was really --

LEMON: How do you verify that.

HARLOW: It was the comedic timing, Rahel. Don't sell yourself short.

SOLOMON: Thank you, Poppy.

Yes. But, guys, it is really chaotic, as Kaitlan pointed out. And his first all-staff email, imagine this being the first email you get from your boss, Musk announced a mandatory return to office. He also warned that the economic picture ahead is dire and said that without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter just will not survive the upcoming economic downturn.

But through it all, he has continued to Tweet and it's hard to say, honestly, if things will stabilize. Because just a day ago, he tweeted, please that note Twitter will do lots of dumb things, I mean, he said it, dumb things in coming months. We' will keep what works and change what doesn't. So, that does that mean stability? I don't think so.

COLLINS: Can I tell you? I signed up for his tweet alerts so now I know when Elon Musk tweets, because I'm interested in what he saying about this.

SOLOMON: Yes, because you miss a little, you miss a lot with Elon.

LEMON: I'm going to stay out of this.

HARLOW: Before you go, inflation.

SOLOMON: Inflation. Yes. It's not a story for me if I'm not talking about inflation. So, you guys remember it was about yesterday, 8:30, when we were talking about that inflation report, and the markets popped. Well, that continued throughout the day.

It was one of the best days for the markets in years. The Dow closed up about 1,200 points. I mean, look at some of these stats. The Dow finished up almost 4 percent, the S&P, 5.5 percent, the Nasdaq, 7.3 percent. To put that in context, that would be a great month. We saw it in a day and that's because of that inflation report that we talked about as it crossed coming in lighter than expected, the lightest number in about a year, 7.7 percent on an annual basis. And investors are hoping maybe this mean the Fed will ease up on sort of the magnitude of some of those rate hikes, half a percent.

LEMON: Are you a checker? Do you check 401(k) every day?

HARLOW: Never.

SOLOMON: Every day? No.

LEMON: You don't?

HARLOW: Never.

SOLOMON: You check every day?

LEMON: No, I don't check. But you know Tim. You guys know Tim, my fiance. Every day, I can depend on his mood, the market. And then yesterday, he goes did you check your 401(k) today? I said, no, Tim.

COLLINS: This is why Tim is so great.

LEMON: I know because you probably some made good money. I'm like, okay.

SOLOMON: He should not put himself through that stress every day. Don't touch it.

HARLOW: The rule is rebalanced like once a year.

LEMON: Never. Never look.

HARLOW: But Tim is also not even close to retirement, neither are you.

LEMON: I shouldn't be checking it. Wow, that was -- that wasn't even subtle shade.

COLLINS: Obviously, as always, thank you. Keep us updated on what's happening with Twitter. LEMON: Yes. We have got to go down to Florida. First, to get there, we are going to go through Atlanta, because this morning, Nicole has weaken into a tropical depression after slamming into Florida's east coast as a category 1 hurricane. So, look at some of the destruction left behind, beachfront homes ripped apart and destroyed, downed power lines and outages crippling parts of the state. At least four deaths are blamed on Nicole.

So, what I said, to get Florida, we're going to go to Atlanta, and that's our meteorologist, Mr. Chad Myers, from the weather center down at headquarters. Chad, good morning to you. What is going on with this thing?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This was the result of Hurricane Ian, to be really honest. I know it's Nicole damage but Ian damaged the dunes, damaged the sand, damaged the beaches. And so the waves and the surge from Nicole were able to hit those buildings. Structural damage up and down the east coast is tremendous. Hard to look at some of this damage, it's so bad. Some of the aerials we're seeing now really coming in, where house after house after house just down to the beach.

The rain now is still raining up in Ohio all the way down to Virginia and then as far south as Florida. But the center of the cell right now is still a tropical depression is around Macon, Georgia. So, it's about to move away. We're still going to see the potential for some tornados today, small ones but they're still there. And also, of course, the wind that could still come in, 30 or 40 miles per hour. Had some flooding in Charleston yesterday with a little bit of surge there because the wind was pushing the water into the harbor. And we're starting to see winds of 30 to 40. So, things have certainly calmed down.

By later on tonight maybe a slow commute, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, that's where the rain is going. And then by tomorrow, cold front pushes by, and, Don, all the weather that you liked so much, in the 60s and 70s does go away with this rainfall. Temperatures are going to fall 20 degrees.

LEMON: I'm not going to say it because I know when we blame you for the weather, you don't like it. So, I just won't say anything. Thank you, Chad Myers. I appreciate it.

MYERS: You're welcome.

COLLINS: Just in to CNN, another setback for Vladimir Putin, who has been noticeably silent on this exit, Russian troops withdrawing from the Kherson region.


That was the first major city to fall when Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the exit is complete saying, they say, quote, not a single piece of military equipment or weaponry was left behind, that's according to the Russian Defense Ministry again. An image has been circulating on social media showing a Ukrainian flag in the center of the city. That's the city that Putin illegally annexed in September.

So far, no indication that Ukrainian forces have returned to the city but obviously watching it closely as are White House officials.

HARLOW: Wait until you hear this reporting. Russian naval vessels are gathering for a possible test of a new nuclear-powered torpedo. That's right. That's according to a senior U.S. official who tells CNN the U.S. has reportedly observed vessels, including the biggest submarine, in the world moving in the Arctic Sea.

CNN Anchor and Chief National Correspondent Jim Sciutto is with us for more. This is your reporting, Jim. I mean, that sounds ominous.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is. This is a truly frightening, a nuclear-powered torpedo, really an underwater drone. I mean, it's huge, as you can see here, and it has tremendous capability. It has a nuclear propulsion system which gives it basically limitless range. And what this is designed to do, Poppy, it's designed to sit off the coast of an adversary country, perhaps the U.S., a major city, and if ordered, launch either a conventional or nuclear strike on that city without warning.

It was such a focus of the Russian president that he actually announced this in his 2018 state of the union address. He had big mockups of it, computer generated imagery of just how this would work, in effect, as a warning to the world. And that is why the U.S. was watching these exercises in the Arctic so closely to see if Russia had made an advance so significantly that they were ready to test this thing.

There's the Belgorod submarine, and this is from that 2018 speech when Putin introduced it. It's a real worry, particularly, Poppy, with U.S. and western concern that Russia, given its setbacks in Ukraine, wants to show the world just what a military capability it has.

HARLOW: Jim, this is fascinating reporting. Can you talk about a little bit of your reporting that is that these vessels were observed leaving Russia's testing area in the Arctic heading back to port, but interestingly without carrying out a test? What does that indicate? What does that tell you?

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, you talk about setbacks for Putin in Ukraine. The U.S. view here is that these exercises, and they took place in the Arctic Sea, just north of Russia, where Russia has a number of naval bases, the U.S. view is that they may have run into technical problems. They know that they carried this torpedo on the Belgorod submarine out to those exercises, here's the submarine that's designed to carry it, and they were preparing for the first kind of real world test of this torpedo.

But then they left last week, they returned to port without testing it, potential technical difficulties that maybe they're not there yet with this, and also it's the Arctic up there, it's going to ice over, they had a limited window for it.

But regardless, point being they have this weapon in their arsenal, the U.S. watching closely to see if they're going to use it as a sort of message to the world given their setbacks in Ukraine.

HARLOW: Wow, that's fascinating. Jim, thank you for the reporting.

SCIUTTO: Thanks, partner.

HARLOW: All right, miss you.

LEMON: That was sweet, Jim. Wait, let's bring Jim back for a second. Jim

COLLINS: We brought you up early in the morning.

SCIUTTO: You stole her from me, Don and Kaitlan. I'm watching you.

HARLOW: We miss you. When are you coming?

COLLINS: She still misses you.

SCIUTTO: I'll come find you.

HARLOW: Okay, bye. Good reporting, Jim, thank you.

COLLINS: All right. This morning, Dave Chappelle's spokesman is denying reports that Saturday Night Live writers were boycotting the show because he is hosting it this weekend.

LEMON: And what is America really thinking about the midterms? Our next guest is using his online presence to clear the noise and elevate the opinions of real voters instead of pundits or poll watchers.

COLLINS: I love that.



HARLOW: All right. Welcome back. Is the Trump era over? That's a big question so many of you across the country are talking about it. It is not a question just being asked by Democrats either. Take a look. This is the New York Post headline this morning. Republicans, it's time to retire 45 and put in a new starter to win the championship. And the conservative news outlet, the Washington Examiner, with this, quote, these midterm elections have made it crystal clear the voters want to move past the chaos and dishonor of the 45th president. Even the former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, a longtime Trump loyalist, taking to Twitter, writing, quote, conservatives are elected when we deliver, not when we just rail on social media.

Now, votes are still being counted and the Republican Party still could end up in control of both chambers of Congress. We'll see. But despite favorable conditions, it is clear that Republicans fell well short of lofty expectations for a so-called red wave. The lack success enjoyed by several MAGA candidates is now raising real questions about Trump's power with Republican voters. At least five Trump-backed candidates lost key races in critical swing states, prompting people, like Georgia's Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan to suggest a fresh face of the GOP is needed heading into 2024.


LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R-GA): There's no way to deny Donald Trump got fired Tuesday night and the search committee has brought a few names to the top of the list and Ron DeSantis is one of them.


HARLOW: And it's not just ardent anti-Trumpers. Listen to what Republican Congressman-elect Mike Lawler of New York told us just yesterday morning.


CONGRESS-ELECT MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): I think more focus needs to be on the issues and the substance of those issues than on personalities, for sure.

COLLINS: Do you want to see the party move forward from Trump?

LAWLER: Yes. I think moving in a different direction as we move forward is a good thing, not a bad thing.



HARLOW: Now, some of Trump's biggest supporters and detractors are striking similar tones with regard to where the Republican Party should go from here. Watch.


SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): There's a very high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses.

LT. GOV. WINSOME EARLE-SEARS (R-VA): You know, the voters have spoken and they have said that they want a different leader. And a true leader understands when they have become a liability. A true leader understands that it's time to step off the stage.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he needs to put on pause, absolutely. Look, he'll make that decision. He'll make his own decision.


HARLOW: It is worth noting that GOP support for former President Donald Trump did buckle in the wake of the 2020 election and the Capitol Hill insurrection only for Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to work hard to get back in the former president's good graces in the months to follow. There's still a lot of time before voters head back to the polls ahead 2024's presidential elections but the results of these midterms have thrown the future of the party into unexpected chaos. COLLINS: And now that we've heard that chaos from Poppy, we go to a CNN fact check, because there's a claim that Trump is making about saving Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' campaign in 2018. He talked about sending in federal agents after that election was conducted.

We have CNN's Paula Reid who is live in Washington. Paula, I know there's a lot going on in between Trump going after DeSantis when it comes to many points, but what about this claim about what happened in 2018 and the role he played as president specifically?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Kaitlan. So, as we know, former President Trump, he continues to attack DeSantis in the wake of the GOP's poor midterm performance and suggestions that the Florida governor should be the one to lead the party heading into 2024.

Now, in a lengthy social media post last night, Trump claimed that he leveraged federal law enforcement to stop DeSantis from losing his 2018 race for governor. Trump wrote, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt election process in Broward County and Ron was going down 10,000 votes a day, along with now Senator Rick Scott, I sent in the FBI and the U.S. attorneys and the ballot theft immediately ended just prior to them running out of votes necessary to win. I stopped this election from being stolen.

Now, this is, of course, just the latest iteration of a claim that Trump has made many times before about elections being stolen even in the absence of any evidence. But I do want to provide some context for what was happening in that 2018 race.

In November 2018, Governor Rick Scott, the Republican nominee for Senate, accused two of the state's largest counties of fraud. Trump joined in, tweeting at the time, don't worry, Florida, I am sending much better lawyers to expose the fraud.

Now, Scott and then Florida Attorney Pam Bondi, a very close ally of the former president, called on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. They did. And that 18-month investigation found no evidence of widespread fraud.

Now, as for Trump's claim that he sent in federal law enforcement agents, well, we have reached out to the current Justice Department and FBI, as well as multiple officials who were at the Trump Justice Department in 2018, but so far, there's nothing we have seen to indicate that former President Trump did attempt to leverage federal law enforcement to help Republicans in 2018. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Paula, thanks for that fact check.

All right, as predictions of a red wave turned out to be overblown on Tuesday night, our next guest says that the pulse of the people was actually pretty loud and clear if you were looking in the right places. Mosheh Oinounou is a digital journalist who directly engages with his audience on Instagram and other platforms, getting a firsthand look at the opinions of real voters. He has been talking to his news community and he joins us now.

I'm fascinated with this basically experiment -- this news experiment that you've conducted on Instagram. You're kind of like this news consigliere, you've been called. And I read that you said you really wanted to take this straightforward approach with your followers. And, basically, people want to see what's happening in the news, maybe see stuff that questions their own assumptions about things and you really found that there was an audience for that.

MOSHEH OINOUNOU, JOURNALIST: Yes. It's interesting because I spent nearly 20 years of my career like in a control room in places like Fox and CBS, and I sort of fell into this during COVID where I found myself not in a newsroom and out there for the first time.

And so I was trying to find a way to take in all the information, and I found being a news consumer really sucks, and that ultimately there was so much going on out there and they're just trying to get the basic facts. And they don't want to be told what they should know but basically how to think. Not what to think but how to think. And what they're looking for is less of the polls and punditry and really just give me the issues, give me the facts.

COLLINS: And when it comes to Tuesday night, there had been so many from all across the media, from Democrats to Republicans, inside the White House, thinking there was going to be this big red wave that just did not materialize.