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Walker Hit By Abortion Scandal Amid Tight Senate Race In GA; Cassidy Hutchinson Now Cooperating With GA Trump Investigation; IMF Recession Warning: "The Worst Is Yet To Come". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 11, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, I mean, I think what has been become clear just in the days after these revelations came to light is that, you know, the abortion issue itself is less clear cut in favor of Raphael Warnock and the Democrats. That I think is why we're seeing these ads, focused on the violence, focused on the abuse, the sorts of things that might sway people on the margins. They don't necessarily want to have the debate on abortion on the merits in this race. But I think what you said, Abby, is really important, because in a lot of states and definitely in Georgia, I think there's a sense that the governor's race could really affect the outcome of the Senate race, potentially.

And we see Stacey Abrams doing not as well against Brian Kemp as I think Democrats would like her to be doing. And there is a real possibility that some of the people who vote for Brian Kemp will just straight ticket end up voting for Herschel Walker. And I think that's one of the things Republicans are really hoping for at this point.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: You know, when you look at this race, in particular, you have to kind of zoom out, though, and talk about the map at large. We were just talking about this during the break, that Republicans, they have to flip a seat somewhere. So whether it's Georgia or whether it's Nevada, or it's Arizona, and all of these are very tight races, you know, in the margin of error, that they have to do it somewhere. And so that is one of the reasons why you've seen Republicans, you know, continue to support Walker, continue to pour tons of money into this particular race. They know that they have other pathways, but those pathways are sort of closing off as we get closer to the election.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Yes, I mean, really, it's -- there are a lot of factors. But maybe the most important factor in why the Herschel Walker support is still there is because Republicans don't really have much of a choice in the matter. I mean, and Walker, I think also, the thing about it is on the Republican side, there's a history maybe a recent history of their voters really looking past a lot of this stuff. I mean, Herschel Walker sent this e-mail to supporters saying, first, the left use these tactics against Clarence Thomas. Then 27 years later, they did the same thing to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, their intimidation practices didn't work on Justices Thomas or Kavanaugh, and they're not going to work on me. And -- he's not wrong. NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he could be right. And this was the sort of the framing from Rick Scott as well, this idea that this is a tactic of the left. You know, I think Herschel Walker's response hasn't been great. I think if you ask Republicans, you know, he doesn't have sort of the wife by his side who's looking at him lovingly. And we've never seen a case where a child has come out in such a, you know, sort of denouncing the father as being an absentee father to all four of his kids from four different a women.

So it is different. And we have seen this trip up candidates, right. You think about Roy Moore, in Alabama. You think about Mourdock in Indiana, and Todd Akin, as well. So listen, it's going to hurt Walker, there's no question about it. It's just a matter of how much it's going to hurt him.

CHAMBERS: And one Republican I was speaking to is prominent in the state was commenting on exactly what you're describing here, which is, they don't recall anyone besides Donald Trump having so many allegations come at them in a race and still being able to keep it as tight as this Georgia Senate races been?

PHILLIP: Yes, I think that the analogy would have to be Donald Trump at this point. And that's really a bar that is pretty high for Herschel Walker to climb.


But up ahead for us, after damning testimony before the House's January 6th Committee, CNN has learned that a key former White House aide is now cooperating with a another investigation involving Donald Trump.


PHILLIP: This next sentence is creating big worry inside of former President Trump's legal team. Sources tell CNN that Cassidy Hutchinson, you remember her, she is the star of the January 6th Committee hearings. She is now cooperating with the Atlanta prosecutor's investigation of Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 election. And joining our conversation on all of this is CNN's Sara Murray and former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams. So Sara, walk us through this new reporting that you've got, what is Cassidy Hutchinson going to offer these investigators.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, so we've been told that Cassidy Hutchinson is cooperating with prosecutors in Georgia. This is important because she was a top aide to Mark Meadows, the former White House Chief of Staff, and prosecutors in Georgia still have not been able to get testimony from Mark Meadows as they're heading into this sort of quiet period before the midterms.

So, you know, Meadows was one of the people who was on a phone call with the former president and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, when Raffensperger was asking Trump to find the votes necessary -- or sorry, when Trump was asking Raffensperger to find the votes necessary for Trump to win the state of Georgia. You know, Meadows also made a surprise visit to a ballot audit site in Georgia in 2020.

And so she could have information about all of these events, the lead up to the call, the aftermath, same with his visit to Georgia, as well as any number of things she may have seen in the West Wing related to sort of efforts to try to overturn elections on the state level. And again, it's important because the district attorney there really wants to wrap this up quickly after the midterms. If she's not able to get Meadows testimony, this is someone who could really help fill in those gaps.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, very few people were as close to Meadows as Cassidy Hutchinson was. She was basically, people said her -- his shadow in a lot of ways. And Meadows, the thing about Georgia was that that was like really the focus of all of this attention. So what do you take away from the fact that they have gotten her to cooperate and what might she be able to actually give them that would be helpful in an investigation?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Abby, it's important to think about what's the point of the January 6th Committee and what's the point of a criminal prosecution. The January 6th Committee, their point was to put on a compelling show for the American people, and Cassidy Hutchinson was a very good witness close to the President and the White House and so on.

When you're building a prosecution, what you're trying to do is bolster the evidence you already have. And they have spoken I believe two witnesses in Georgia that are giving a narrative about conduct that took place there. She is confirming aspects of it that would have taken place back in Washington. So it's helping to build an evidentiary picture. As they move forward to what look like inevitable charges, someone's getting charged with crimes in Georgia.


PHILLIP: I mean, do you know that Mark Meadows is at a legal risk here or maybe others, I mean, yes?

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. They can use her testimony as leverage against Meadows in effect, saying that, look, we have this against you and other people in the White House. Now is your time to either come in and lower your chances of getting a serious criminal charge.

MURRAY: And I would add to that, you know, the other person that she sort of talked about a little bit in her appearance in the January 6th Committee was sort of watching what Rudy Giuliani was up to. We already know that Rudy Giuliani has been told that he is a target in the investigation in Georgia. So I would imagine prosecutors are also going to be asking her anything that she would know about Giuliani's activities surrounding that --

PHILLIP: And Sara, do you get the sense that the investigators have given up on Meadows cooperating at any point? Or perhaps that maybe they might use what Cassidy says to them as leverage to encourage him to play ball?

MURRAY: Yes, I don't think that they've given up on getting his testimony, you know, there's a hearing set as they're going to try to wrangle this for late October. But I do think, you know, it's possible that they will decide to wrap this thing up believing that, you know, they're just not going to be able to talk to everyone that they want to talk to, you know, they could use as you pointed out, her testimony just sort of tried to work behind the scenes and try to, you know, entice him to come and set the record straight if he wants to do that before the grand jury. But I think most importantly, she will fill in a lot of gaps if they can't get that testimony.

PHILLIP: Sara Murray, Elliot Williams, thank you both for being here.

And up ahead for us, a stark forecast about the future of the U.S. economy. The worst is yet to come. How will that factor into the elections coming up in just a few weeks?



PHILLIP: The worst is yet to come. That warning from the International Monetary Fund who's downgrading its economic forecast for the next year saying for many people, 2023 will feel like a recession. And JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon essentially agreed.


JAMIE DIMON, CEO, JPMORGAN CHASE: You can't talk about the economy, talk about the stuff in the future. And this is serious stuff. Europe is already in recession. They're likely to put U.S. in some kind of recession, six, nine months from now.


PHILLIP: Plus, a gloomy forecast from the -- from Bank of America, the U.S. economy, they say will soon lose 175,000 jobs monthly with unemployment rising up to 5.5 percent. These are three bad signs with just four weeks to go before the midterm elections. We are bringing in to this discussion Republican pollster and strategist Kristen Soltis Anderson, who knows a lot about this. I'm sure you hear a ton from voters, about the economy. But how do you think that the fear of what is to come is going to play into what might happen in the next four weeks?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a huge challenge. And it's part of why gas prices going down a little bit over the last few weeks, only made a little bit of a change in the polls, because even if people were saying, look, my guess is a little bit less expensive. It's that insecurity about what's coming down the road. And that's not just economic insecurity. What I'm seeing in polls is voters concerned about the future of our democracy, whether that for Republicans comes in the form of election security concerns are for Democrats, concerns about voter suppression, not counting elections, you've got voters who are really concerned about things like crime, border security, particularly on the center right to right. And all of that anxiety about all types of security makes people feel like things are unraveling, and they can't trust that things are going to get better.

PHILLIP: And yet, even in that environment, we have seen this really extraordinary, almost like a tie in the people's generic, like assessments of Republicans and Democrats, a generic ballot, as we call it. But to your point, CNN had some new polling in Arizona and Nevada just in the last week, in both states, majorities, pluralities, I should say, say that the economy and inflation are the top priorities for them, followed by abortion. And then you have a little further down voting rights and election integrity, although that means different things to different people, but the economy has not faded as the top issue. And really, the trend is just not headed in a positive direction --

HENDERSON: No, because people experience the economy every single day of their lives, whether it's, you know, a childcare bill, whether it's your gas prices, even though those have sort of gone down, it looks like they'll probably tick up a little bit, the price of eggs, the price of, you know, bacon. So people experience it, and people have anxiety about it. And people have to arrange their lives and their decision making processes around it.

And so we'll see, you know, Biden obviously is going to talk to Jake Tapper tonight at 9:00 p.m. I'm sure --

PHILLIP: Don't miss it.

HENDERSON: Yes, don't miss it. I'm going to be tuning in. You know, they haven't really figured out a message around this because you can't message around people having to spend more money on day to day items than they have, you know, have money for.

DAVIS: Right. And I would say that this would probably be the case even if it weren't the case that some of these forecasts are showing that the worst is yet to come. It is what people are feeling right now. And we see this in election after election. If you feel insecure if you feel like the economy is a weight on your mind and something that's going in the wrong direction, you're going to blame the President, you're most likely going to blame whoever is in charge of Congress and that is just something that is going to be a dynamic whether things start looking up or things are looking down. I think people, you know, they make their decisions based on what they're feeling today and who they think has the solutions. And I think we're feeling a lot of this overhang when we look at these polls.


PHILLIP: I do think that is a major question that is, in my mind a little unanswered, who will voters actually blame and actually last night at the Ohio debate, Tim Ryan got that question exactly. Should voters blame President Biden? Here was his response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I think everybody is to blame. I mean, we're coming out of a pandemic, it's a problem. The question is, we're going to sit around for another 10 years and point fingers.


PHILLIP: I guess answered it the best that he could. But it's tough to Julie's point when the party in power is your political party to tell voters, it's not our fault.

CHAMBERS: And one of the White House's responses has been to this is this is a global economic problem. It's every country that is facing these issues. But as you were saying to the average person who's sitting at home, they may not care if it's a global problem, they care about what's happening with their own gas tank, and they care about whether they can put food on the table or not. And so the White House says that every option is on the table, when they're looking at ways to lower gas prices, The President could potentially, you know, release more barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. But certainly, they've already released a bunch of barrels of oil from that. So their options here are dwindling when it comes to that in terms of what the President can do to address these problems.

PHILLIP: So Kristen, you know, nobody, not even -- no Democrat is running just on let's say abortion, even though it has changed the dynamic of this race. But what do you think the balance is between the economy, the economic forces dragging Democrats down, and maybe abortion as an issue boiling down a little bit in certain races? I mean, what are you seeing out there?

ANDERSON: Now part of the way that the abortion issue I think, can help Democrats, even with voters who don't think it's a top issue is it feeds into that sense of insecurity, something that you thought was stable and was always going to be there is gone. And if you were a voter who expected that Roe versus Wade would always be there, this is another shock to the system that, hey, things that I thought were going to be consistent aren't always. But it's still hard to see that overriding the economy.

And I do think that there are some Democratic campaigns I think in Nevada, Senator Cortez Masto was really leaned in on I'm going to do ads almost exclusively about the issue of abortion. And that may just be the wrong topic for winning over those voters to the senator come November.

DAVIS: And she's not the only one. A lot of Democrats are, you know, when we talk to endangered Democrats in the House and Democrats who are running for reelection and for Senate seats, they are really leaning in hard to the abortion issue. I think the reason why is not that anyone really thinks that abortion is ever going to overtake the economy or getting anywhere near the economy, in terms of like what the percentages of people who say that it's the most important thing, but elections are won and lost on the margins.

And if you are worried about the economy, and you have been worried about the economy for a long time, and all of a sudden, now you think that abortion rights are going to go away and you're never going to have access to abortion and your daughters won't, that could make the difference if you're in a tight race.

PHILLIP: If Democrats can do anything making uncertainty cut in their favor might be the one thing that could help them out.


Well coming up next for us, protests at the University of Florida, as a Republican senator is named the only finalist for the school's top job.


PHILLIP: Topping our political radar, Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is taking a page out of former President Donald Trump's playbook when talking about migrants who are coming across the southern border.


KARI LAKE (R-AZ), GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: We've got people who are known terrorists who are coming in. We have people who are murderers and rapists. I know President Trump said that many, many years ago. That's a fact.


PHILLIP: And an emotional and personal new ad from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's reelection campaign featuring his wife, Casey, who recently overcame a battle with breast cancer.


CASEY DESANTIS, FIRST LADY OF FLORIDA: If you want to know who Ron DeSantis really is, when I was diagnosed with cancer, and I was facing the battle for my life, he was the dad who took care of my children when I couldn't. He was there to pick me off of the ground when I literally could not stand.


PHILLIP: Hundreds of University of Florida students are protesting the likely appointment of Republican Senator Ben Sasse as their new school president. Now Sasse was on campus yesterday to speak to students, faculty and staff when the protests erupted. Some students say that they take issue with his past positions opposing same sex marriage and his celebration of the end of Roe versus Wade. Sasse is the sole finalist for the job and is expected to quit the Senate to take it. He was the president of a small Lutheran College in Nebraska called Midland University before he went on to Washington.

And in her first late night appearance as vice president, Kamala Harris talks key midterm issues, including the push to decriminalize marijuana. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody should have to go to jail for smoking weed, right?

Congress needs to act with 29 days away from the midterms. Ask who you're voting for, where they stand on this, and I encourage you to vote accordingly.

And thank you for joining Inside Politics. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.