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At least four killed by kamikaze drones in Ukraine's capital; Kyiv rocked by deadly explosions from kamikaze drones; Today: early voting underway in Georgia; Warnock's new attack on Walker: he's not ready; Warnock, Walker spar over inflation, insulin at Georgia debate; AZ GOP gov nominee pivots to debunked claims when pressed about spreading election lies. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 17, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Death and drones, at least four killed today in Kyiv. That after Ukraine says, Russia deploys Iranian supplied drones to terrorize the capital city.

Plus, right now early voting is open in Georgia. Raphael Warnock's language is getting more personal. Herschel Walker's explanation of a police prop badge still confusing. And it's an easy question and it should have a clear-cut answer. Will you accept the results of the midterm election? But the Arizona Republican running for governor ask three times here on CNN, will not, will not give a direct answer. Back to that in a moment.

But up first for us, a new wave of Russian attacks taking aim at Ukraine's capital city. In Kyiv today, the buzz of drones from above on the ground, rebels and black body bands. At least five strikes from what Ukraine says Iranian supplied kamikaze drones woke the capital city Monday morning.

Right now, at least four people known to be killed, others still said to be trapped under concrete debris, and energy facilities in the capital have been taken offline. A senior Ukrainian official calls the strikes desperation and reiterated a demand for "more weapons to protect the sky."

Let's get straight to the Dnipro, Ukraine. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is there. Fred, what's the latest?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, John. Yes, the area here was also struck by those kamikaze drones. In fact, an energy facility near Dnipro was hit by drones. And the local authorities here were seeing throughout the day that there was extensive damage to that facility, there was a fire as well, and rescue crews were on the scene. You can see around me, it's pretty dark here in the city.

And one of the reasons for that is like in so many other areas in Ukraine, where the energy facilities are being hit, the authorities are calling on people to use as little energy as possible. And we certainly see people heating that, of course, the main damage though, John, was definitely done in the Ukrainian capital in Kyiv. With a strike started, really at the crack of dawn when those drones, those kamikaze drones, started hitting areas there.

Now, there also a power plant was hit. And they were some really crazy scenes in that city, with that police officers, anybody really latter rifle, taking aim at those drones, which of course fly very slowly, but were loitering over the city and then hitting not just the power plants, but also a residential building as well. And that's where those four people were killed, including, apparently, according to the Ukrainian authorities, a woman who was expecting a baby.

In total, John, the Ukrainian authorities say that the Russians lodge 42 kamikaze drones at targets in Ukraine as well as three cruise missiles. Ukrainians were able to take all those cruise missiles down and able to take out 36 of those kamikaze drones, but of course, weren't able to take out all of them with those devastating effects that we have seen.

As you can imagine, the authorities here extremely angry that Ukrainians now calling for sanctions against Iran, and of course also calling for more air defense capabilities by the countries that support Ukraine. John?

KING: Fred Pleitgen, live for us in Dnipro. Fred, thanks for the very latest. Let's get some important perspective now from our CNN military analyst, Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel, grateful for your time today. We're familiar with this map. Most of the fighting on the ground has been over here.

But if you look just in the last week, you have seen all these Russians strike, some cruise missiles and now, now I just want to show you the skies over Kyiv this morning. When you look up and you see that, can you see some tracer fire coming up at it. Any doubt in your mind that what you're seeing there in the skies above Kyiv is one of these an Iranian drone?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (Ret.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: No doubt whatsoever, John. In fact, this is shahed-136. These are the types of drones that the Iranians have employed in Yemen. They reveal them publicly for the first time in December of 2021, but they've been active before that. And these drones are quite effective in environments that have a tactical - where they can have a tactical use, but they are vulnerable that can be shut down and they sound like lawnmowers when they fly.

KING: You say sound like lawnmowers. We're watching some of the destruction right here. These are flying bombs, right? This is the Iranians essentially promoting their own weapons system, shows you what happens here. When you hear the authorities, especially after going through in the past week or so again, most of the fighting for weeks and weeks and weeks has been here.

Now you see these Russian strikes elsewhere, especially in the population centers Kyiv, Lviv, to the west. The Ukrainian say, we need better air defense systems. What system or systems if you're talking about the United States working with the Germans, working with other NATO allies would be effective, A, against cruise missiles, and then B, against these flying drones.


COL. LEIGHTON: So, the most effective system probably would be something like the sea ramp system. It's designed to go after low flying objects of just slide drones' objects that include some cruise missiles and include other flying objects of that type like helicopters. So, that's probably the kind of system that is most likely to be effective here.

There are other systems that could be employed potentially. But in essence, what Ukraine needs is a system that covers all different types of threats. And that usually means an integration of different systems, the communications links that fit with something like that the command-and-control links that fit with that, and it is a long- term effort to get that in place.

KING: You say long-term effort, we're heading into the winter season. Here where you would expect on the ground fighting slows and slows considerably. Is the risk to Ukraine, that during that period of time, Putin has had trouble with this big call up conscription, whatever you want to call it? They've obviously had huge Russian problems, retreats here in the east and in the south. Is the expectation in the wintertime that things stop or that you use the cruise missiles and use the drones to continue to terrorize people?

COL. LEIGHTON: I think that things are going to continue at least a bit now. They may stop in terms of the ground war in these areas right here. This is particularly important for the Ukrainians, because when you look at this area, this is of course, near Kherson. The Ukrainians want to achieve a victory in this area, perhaps even capture the city of Kherson before winter sets in. They can potentially do that.

However, what they also need to keep in mind is that the Russians are going to run out of certain types of fuel. They're going to run out of weapon systems, and they're possibly even going to run out of personnel even with the call up of the 300,000 Russian reservists.

KING: I want to come back to this for a minute, just to show this popping up. Firstly, I'll just show the pictures up over Kyiv today again. You see this up in the sky. You heard Fred Pleitgen's report. Imagine it's early morning in Kyiv, and you wake up and you hear this. What is the sophistication level here of these Iranian made drones in the sense that, you heard Fred say the reports from the scene where some of them came in and they hovered, and then hit targets? Can you use them to terrorize and then redirect them to a target, how sophisticated?

COL. LEIGHTON: Yes. They can actually be used to hover over targets and then be redirected to a different set of targets that is a potential. But that level of sophistication is not the same as for example, with the switchblade drones that the U.S. has. That is a very significant drone system. The Ukrainians have that and that can actually be retargeted on the fly. These cannot be retargeted that easily, but they can hover, they can get targets of opportunity, as well. But it's just not as likely that they will be as successful as a switchblade would be.

KING: It was just last week, just several days ago, Putin said after this, after you saw all the strikes over here that this would not be long lasting, that they come back days later with these drone strikes on the capital. What does that tell you about? What is the message here? Is Putin trying to talk to the people of Kyiv? Or is he talking to the hardliners in Russia or both?

COL. LEIGHTON: I think he's doing both actually. Because for the people of Kyiv, he's saying, I'm going to terrorize you as quickly as and as often as I possibly can. And Monday morning seems to be one of his favorite times to do that Monday morning rush hour. So, he's doing that on the one hand.

On the other hand, when it comes to the hardliners in Russia, he's trying to tell them, I am continuing the war effort. I am continuing to bring people in. And I am continuing to advance our goals in Ukraine, which by the way, have not changed, even with the setbacks that the Russians have suffered.

KING: Drones here to try to mask the failures here.


KING: Colonel Leighton, grateful for your time. Up next for us, a big politics day today in Georgia. Early voting began this morning. The candidates for governor debate tonight and the incumbent Democratic senator take sharper aim at his Republican rival, Herschel Walker.




KING: Early voting open today in Georgia, one of the most consequential midterm battlegrounds. Tonight, the state's two candidates for governor debate, and this morning the Democratic Senate incumbent Raphael Warnock cast his ballot, then sharpened a new attack on his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker.

CNN's Eva McKend standing by for us live in Atlanta. Eva, tell us more.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, John, Senator Warnock has made central to his election pitch that Herschel Walker is just not ready to leave the senate. He doubled down on that argument today, right after he voted early here in Atlanta, basically referencing this moment Friday when he admonished Walker about embellishing his law enforcement credentials.

Walker then of course, whipped out that honorary badge and a made for NSL moment. Well, Warnock talking about then this entire episode again today saying, that this illustrates and he's not a serious candidate. Take a listen?


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D) GEORGIA: I opponent Herschel Walker is not ready. I pointed out the fact that he claimed to be in law enforcement to be a police officer. And that he threatened a shootout with the police, and his response was to produce a fake badge. The people of Georgia deserve a serious person to represent them at serious times.


MCKEND: Now, for his part, Senator Warnock at times can be evasive as well. You know, when he's asked, does he bear responsibility for inflation as part of the majority party in Washington? He doesn't really answer directly. When asked about President Biden, if he would support President Biden running in 2024. He doesn't answer that directly as either. I pressed him about that today. He just told me that that basically wasn't an important question and that that is up for the pundits to decide. John?

KING: Eva McKend live on the ground for us in Georgia. We're going to just want to note, if you live in the state of early voting began today. Your opportunity begins today. With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, Seung Min Kim with the Associated Press, Margaret Talev of Axios, and NPR's Claudia Grisales.


It's interesting, Senator Warnock, there's a lot of character controversies about Herschel Walker right now. Senator Warnock wants to talk about this badge during the debate Friday night. Herschel Walker this morning again asked about again he reached into his pocket, pulled out an honorary badge. He was asked about on NBC this morning, here is the answer.


HERSCHEL WALKER (R) GEORGIA SENATE NOMINEE: If anything happened in this county, I have the right to work with the police, getting things done.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Does that have arresting authority, or it's an honorary badge.

WALKER: It is an honorary badge, but they can call me whenever they want me, and I have the authority to do things for him to work with him on things.

WELKER: The National Sheriffs' Association said an honorary badge "is for the trophy case." Why make the decision that flash---

WALKER: That is totally not true.


KING: They can call me whenever they want. I have the authority to do things for them to work with them on things. He has no police power, no police power, he can't pull you over, can't arrest you, can't hold you.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER ASSOCIATED PRESS & CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What do you say to that, except for the fact that the reason why you see Senator Warnock talking about this is because it plays into this larger characterization that Democrats and the Warnock campaign have tried to relay about Herschel Walker, that he is not a truthful person that he can't be trusted with the truth.

And that's how they sort of tried to make this character attack on him. But I mean, Republicans have tried to use the issue of crime and these campaigns, this is certainly a novel and kind of hard to believe way of doing so.

KING: It's admirable that he works with local police authorities, whether it's as an ambassador to children, you know, listen to the police officers, and they give him this honorary badge. But to suggest that he somehow has, he can do things besides being an ambassador, that seems outside the lines.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Right. Yes. It's an odd tactic that he's using right now, especially considering all of the controversy, personal controversy, he is faced to now pull out this badge, it kind of goes back to that same theme of truthfulness. And where's the line? Where is he telling the truth? And so that gives Warnock ammunition here to focus on this badge, and Walker continues to pull the badge out. I put the badge away, it doesn't seem to be helping him. It just seems to be a target.

MARGARET TALEV, MANAGING EDITOR, AXIOS & CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There's a more like cynical thing going on here, which is that Herschel Walker knows that any image of him holding a badge is going to look like he's with law enforcement and that's going to help him. Every minute, he's talking about a badge that came out of a captain crunch box or whatever. He's not talking about the abortion controversy.

And number three, when he's talking about the badge, they're talking about crime. And that's what Republicans want to be campaigning on. So, like, we can sit here and talk about why it's intellectually dishonest. Why a voter can look at it and say, that's shocking. He doesn't have police authority. I don't think any of that's a play in his calculations, and he might be right. And that races within the margin of error.

KING: Right. He says the images, I'm friendly with the police. I'm on the side of the police and that's where I want to be in this campaign. It'd be interesting to see if that plays out. In the debate Friday night, there was an exchange over substance. We do actually have substance every now and then in our political campaigns.

Senator Warnock, the incumbent here voted, of course, the Democratic spending plans that Republicans blamed for inflation. Senator Warnock trying to turn the tables on Herschel Walker in the debate, saying you know, what that vote also lowers prescription drug costs. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. WARNOCK: He said he would not have voted for the inflation Reduction Act. And I think he should tell the people of Georgia, why he thinks they should have expensive insulin, and why the pharmaceutical companies should be able to charge us whatever they like.

WALKER: Well, first of all, respond, you know, I believe in reducing insulin, but at the same time, you got to eat right? Because he may not know, and I know many people that own insulin. And unless you have eating right, insulin is doing you no good. So, you have to get food prices down and you got to get gas down, so you can go get insulin.


KING: Herschel Walker trying to - I guess, try to take the government out of this, saying that you voted for that bill. It's rising gas prices, that's more primary to people. Is that the argument?

KIM: It's perhaps, but I think you do see how torture kind of his response was to, you know, Senator Warnock's response. And I also think that moment showed why passing that inflation reduction was so critical for Democrats, even if those benefits don't kick in for years down the road that they do have a talking point against Republicans.

Now Republicans will, say that Republicans also believe that's a weapon that they can yield on campaign trail, but oftentimes, it can create these kinds of tortured answers, like we saw just there with Herschel Walker.

KING: It's a somewhat tortured answer, especially for those of us who's here at Washington. You make a key point, how do people process it out in the country, he does not connect the dots. He doesn't say, Senator, we can't afford that spending now, or we can't afford to do that now until we do this. He just goes straight off the is. So, people would say, well, wait a minute. What are you trying to do here?

Frank Bruni writing in The Times, Walker's task on Friday night wasn't to make voters excited about him. It was to make them less apprehensive. It was to affirm a reaffirm for them, what his lack of charisma and no matter his deficit of coherence, he's a reliable vessel for their concerns. I guess Frank to somebody is trying to say, he's a Republican in a Republican year. That's what he's trying to hit. He's standing there. Is that enough?


GRISALES: It may be. It may be because Republicans may look at Warnock's argument during that debate and say he's looking at. What I'm worried about my personal issues at the same time as we saw with Walker, that was a confusing answer there. Warnock used to say that he's blaming you, the person for having problems with diabetes, what have you. And so, but in the end, everyone's in their partisan corners and it may play to their party spaces. KING: Well, we learned a lot in the 2020 race from the early voting trends. We'll see if we start to as we get the trends in the days ahead out of Georgia. Break from politics for a moment to bring you this story. Just into CNN, some new documents show that Donald Trump as president overcharged the secret service for stays of his properties, including exorbitant hotel rates. CNN's Kara Scannell is here live with the details. Kara, tell us more.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. This new report from the house oversight committee where they're saying that this raises significant concerns about potential self-dealing by the former president. They say that the former president's company that Trump organization had charged the secret service exorbitant hotel rates, some as high as $1,185 per night. This despite Eric Trump once saying that the Trump organization wouldn't charge his service any money or would just charge them the cost to stay there when they were protecting the former president in his family.

Now in total over the four years of the presidency from 2017 through September 2021. The House says that the secret service was charged $1.4 million, that's coming from taxpayers by the Trump organization. And they say that the Trump organization had charged the service at least 40 times and in 40 different instances more than what the government rate would be.

And one example was that is in March of 2017. According to the House, Eric Trump had stayed at the Trump branded hotel in Washington D.C. He was there on some business to promote a golf tournament at one of the Trump's nearby golf courses. The secret service then was charged $1,160 that night. The GSA rate at the time was $242.

So, the House committee is saying that they need more information. They've been looking into this for two years. They want the secret service to turn over additional records. They don't believe they have everything, and they want to explore this further about any potential what they say concerns about self-dealing by the former president. John?

KING: $1,185 a night. Kara Scannell, appreciate that important to reporting. We'll stay on top of it, I'm sure. Up next for us. Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake borrows Donald Trump's definition of a fair election. Lake says, she will accept the results if she wins.




KING: The Republican candidate for governor of Arizona will not commit to accepting the election results. Kari Lake is a former TV anchor turned mega Republican favorite. She to this day says, the election was stolen from Donald Trump back in 2020, which of course is not true. And she pushed back repeatedly, here on CNN Sunday, when asked about 2020 and the 2022 vote count.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You called the 2020 election corrupt, stolen, rotten and rigged. And there was no evidence of any of that presented in a court of law or anywhere else, that any of those things are true. So why do you keep saying that?

KARI LAKE (R) ARIZONA GOVERNOR NOMINEE: Well, there's plenty of evidence. We had 740,000 ballots with no chain of custody, those ballots shouldn't have been counted. We had election laws and (crosstalk)

BASH: Where is the evidence in that.

LAKE: Dana, there's plenty of evidence you can find it. Well, I can - I'm happy to send it to your team (crosstalk).

BASH: We cover this extensively and what you just said has been wrong (Ph)

LAKE: Only one side of it. The real issue, Dana, is that the people don't trust our elections. In 2004, they didn't trust the elections. In 2016, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Hillary Clinton, everybody on the Democrat side, said the election had problems.

BASH: In 2000 Al Gore conceded. In 2004, John Kerry receded, and conceded. In 2016, Hillary Clinton conceded, and we didn't see that in 2020. That's the difference. And so, the question is, are you undermining faith in elections by saying that the 2020 election was stolen when there's absolutely no evidence to support that.

LAKE: Dana, in 2018, Stacey Abrams never conceded, she still hasn't.

BASH: Will you accept the results of your election in November?

LAKE: I'm going to win the election. And I will accept that result.


KING: Our reporters are back around the table. I'm going to win the election and I will accept that result. She says twice. Earlier she says, the problem, the real issue is people don't trust our elections. That's the reason they don't trust our elections. When Donald Trump and now his descendants in the Republican Party say, I only accepted if I win. That's the problem.

KIM: That is the extreme problem. And the other problem is that unlike a lot of - unlike some of the congressional candidates who have also espoused this theory. She is going to be in a direct role. If she is elected governor to have oversight, over ratifying the results of our state's elections. And she's going to be working in tandem with perhaps a Republican nominee for the secretary of state, who is also an election dire.

And that's why the stakes and what they say about the elections is so much more critically important in these two offices. Democrats and even some Republicans say that position is and should be disqualifying. But right now, we'll show it is not. That is a very, very close race.