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UT Debate: McMullin Slams Lee For "Betrayal" Of Republic; Ukraine: Outages In At Least Three Cities After Attacks On Energy Facilities; Biden Speaks On Abortion Rights Ahead Of Midterm Elections. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 18, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: I don't have state elections voting, so I'm done. But right up until January 4th, he was actively trying to find a way, Donald Trump.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And let's remember, the scrutiny isn't just on the actions of that day. Even the House Committee as well has been looking at the weeks leading up to it as well. And just to remind viewers, as well, when Lee is imploring the White House Meadows at that point to meet with Sidney Powell, Sidney Powell then be involved in that meeting in December, where Giuliani and others are putting out ideas such as seizing voting machines, at one point, wondering if there's anything they could do with the DoD as well in terms of martial law. So Sidney, even the referral to Sidney Powell, who was instrumental in efforts to try and overturn the election should be noted there as well.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: And Mike Lee has also tried to build his brand on a constitutional conservative and you're seeing the McMullin really challenged that. What's also interesting to me is how many Democrats are not invoking January 6th, as a contrast in many of these races, but here you have it in a red state, like Utah.

KING: And you mentioned sort of the entry ticket in a Republican primary. If this were a Republican primary, it would be different conversation, or McMullin would not be in play in a Republican primary. This is part of the legacy of January 6th, where you look at a couple of different ways. These are three Republicans who are competitive for House seats who attended Trump's January 6th rally.

Now they all say they had nothing to do with the violence. But you have three who were at the rally, who are in play in three different states in Wisconsin and Ohio and North Carolina. Again, you know, you know, that's just 20 years ago, to think that somebody who showed up at a rally. But then parts of that rally turned into an attack on the Capitol would be in play tells you about the Republican Party today.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: This is inevitable. I mean, if we're being honest, right? And for them to join Congress if that's the case, they'll be joining, what, Marjorie Taylor Greene. This is not a scenario where they're going to show up to the caucus. And then someone will say, what are you doing here? They are being welcomed into the fold. And as part of Trump --

ZANONA: Party leader are also helping to get these members elected, in part because they represent key seats for them. But they absolutely had the backing of the party.

KING: And you see that you see the legacy in the bloodstream of the Republican Party and the candidates up and down the ballot who denied the election. You also see it in the views of Americans and you see a big partisan splitter from that New York Times/Siena College poll of likely voters. Are you comfortable voting for a candidate who says the 2020 election was stolen, if you agree with most of their other positions, only 3 percent of Democrats are very comfortable doing that, 7 percent.

So 10 percent of Democrats might do that, if you look at it that way, 74 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of Republicans say they are very comfortable voting for somebody who says the 2020 election was stolen, 34 percent of Republicans say they're somewhat comfortable the 2020 election was not stolen.

KANNO-YOUNGS: Right. I mean, at this point just a year ago, it brings, there was a time immediately after January 6th, where you heard some Republican leaders say, well, this will be the moment that Trump fades away. It was almost like there was this rush to say that this was a one off that will now move on from. That hasn't happened at all. You saw same Republican leaders then going to Mar-a-Lago as well to show loyalty to Trump.

You've seen national security agencies continue to issue warnings about how this rhetoric around the false claims of the of election fraud continue to motivate political at times, potential political violence as well and have seeped into the mainstream. These concerns have been repeated throughout and this is the result as you were saying.

CORNISH: Can I say one other thing, you and I, we're from Boston, we have seen the end of the Yankee Republican, right? There's a certain kind of Republican that is going away now with this cycle. Liz Cheney, I think would be the best example of it. But the other almost dozen or so who had voted what they would consider kind of with the opposition with Democrats in supportive the election. And I think we are seeing the end of a certain kind of Republican as well.

KING: That'd be interesting. You mentioned I'm going to be in Rhode Island at the end of the week. You have Allan Fung, a Republican who has a chance to pick up and now Democratic House seat there who is a more traditional New England Republican.

CORNISH: Yes. But it's like looking for a blue dog Democrat, you're like, there's one over there, like, yes.

KING: If he wins that race, I'd love to just be eye on the wall the first time he goes into the House Republican conferences, see how that one goes.

[12:34:01] Up next for us, a major escalation in Ukraine, new strikes hitting critical infrastructure in cities already badly damaged by Russian attacks.


KING: To Ukraine now, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian terrorists will be held accountable that after a series of new strikes in at least three Ukrainian cities including the capital of Kyiv, those attacks triggering major power and water shortages. CNN's Nic Robertson is live on the ground for us in Ukraine. Nic, what's the latest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, the city of (INAUDIBLE), that's about 100 miles west of where we are now electricity generating plants there hit by Russian missiles today, two power plants here in Kyiv hit, three workers of those -- one of those plants killed in that strike, Dnipro to the south and east of here another major city in Ukraine, power Plants taken out there.

Russia really does seem to be building up a war of attrition on Ukraine's power generating capacity. You know, we often think in terms of war as war of attrition, you are grinding each other's troops down in the frontlines. Well, Russia is losing on the frontlines. So it's switching up a gear and increasing a pressure point on the Ukrainian population and government and that is the power generating capabilities.

How much spare stocks do the Ukrainians have to keep repairing these facilities, the power companies say they're repairing them in about 48 hours. The president here says, 30 percent of the country's electricity generating capacity is down. You can see this strategy coming out of the Kremlin to try to erode the complete power capacity of Ukraine before the weather or as the weather starts to get cold, John.


KING: I was just going to say as winter approaches, which adds additional cruelty to the strategy.

ROBERTSON: Yes and timed for this reason, it would appear. We know Putin is under pressure at home because he has been losing on the battlefield. We know there's been hardliners there saying double down on Ukraine. The doubling down as this wave of missile strikes targeting the power infrastructure, targeting the cities again. So he's winning or trying to win on the home front.

But here in Ukraine, the timing of it, as you say, it's coming, you know, I'm feeling the chill here standing right now. By the end of the week is going to be even colder. We're entering that period where the temperature could drop below freezing. So for Ukrainians, it seems really callous. And that's the point that President Zelenskyy is making these attacks of terrorism. They're not on the front line. They're attacking the population. They're attacking the way that they live. But rather than weakening resolve, you know, people here are telling us that it's strengthening their resolve, strengthening their determination in the fight. They'll go through a cold winter if they have to. They're not going to give into these acts by Putin.

KING: Nic Robertson, live for us in Kyiv. Nic, thank you so much for that.

Any moment now President Biden will speak on abortion rights in a big Democratic event here in Washington. You see the live shot from the room right there. Quick break, we'll be right back.



KING: Straight to the President of the United States here at the Howard theater in Washington, D.C.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- establishing a fundamental constitutional right to choose.

Nearly 50 years later, on June 24th of this year, the Court issued the Dobbs decision. A woman and all across the country, starting in my house, lost the fundamental right.

I want to remind us all how we felt that day when 50 years of constitutional precedent was overturned.

I'm going to use this mic if it's OK.

The anger, the worry, the disbelief, the unbelievable fact that for the first time in our history, and the Supreme Court didn't just fail to preserve a constitutional freedom, it actually took away the right that was so fundamental to Americans. It took away a right. And the fear that now that most personal decisions may not only be made by the woman and her doctor, but by politicians to make that decision.

The Dobbs decision, the Court practically dares women to go ahead and lead and be heard.

One of the most extraordinary parts of that decision, in my view, was when the majority wrote, quote, women are not without electoral, are not, excuse me, are not without electoral or political power.

Let me tell you something, the Court and the extreme Republicans who have spent decades trying to overturn Roe are about to find out. As they say in one of the towns I grew up, they ain't seen nothing yet.

Just take a look at what happened in Kansas. And come this November, we're going to see what happens all over America, God willing.

You know, it's only been four months since the Dobbs decision, but we're no longer have to imagine the chaos and the heartache it's causing. In just four months, abortion bans have gone into effect in 16 states, 26.5 million women of reproductive age already live in states subject to these bans.

Today in America, there are women who have been turned away from emergency rooms while having miscarriages, losing wanted pregnancies, and told they need to wait until they're sicker before they get the care they need. And there are survivors of rape and incest who've been denied access to health services in their home states and been forced to travel to states that do provide that care.

And there's so much confusion and uncertainty that doctors and nurses fear they could face criminal charges for just doing their job responsibly.

Patients are being denied prescriptions that they've been taking for years for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, you know, because pharmacies are concerned that those drugs could also be used to terminate a pregnancy, so they're not giving them their prescriptions.

That's not all. I've warned about how this decision risks the broader right to privacy for everyone. There's a thing called the Ninth Amendment. It says there's a right to privacy. That's how it was interpreted back then.

Well, guess what, folks? That's because Roe recognized the fundamental right to privacy that has served as a basis for many more rights that are -- were to come and to take -- we've taken for granted of late. And they're ingrained in the fabric of this country, the right to make a decision, the best decision for your health, the right to birth control, the right that I pushed hard and it finally got changed, the married couples in the privacy of their bedroom. Excuse me. The mar -- I'm thinking about the Dobbs decision. Imagine, well, I'll get to that in a second with Clarence Thomas. But the right to marry who you love.

Look, folks, Justice Thomas said as much in his concurring opinion in Dobbs, writing, quote, in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court's substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, we're getting to the whole idea of contraception, Lawrence and Obergefell.


Look, folks, meanwhile, and I just want to make clear, I know you all know, but I'll make sure, they're talking about the right to use contraception and the right to marry who you love. I mean, anyway, I don't want to get started.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are doubling down on their extreme positions.

Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Leader of the House, has said that if they take control of the House, our work is, quote, far from done. He wants the United States Congress to pass a law that would ban abortion nationwide. Senator -- well, Senator Lindsey Graham called for an abortion ban that criminalizes doctors and nurses who provide medical care for their patients in need.

If Republicans get their way with a national ban, it won't matter where you live in America. So let me be very clear, if such a bill were to pass in the next several years, I'll veto it. But we can't let it pass in the first instance.

Immediately after the Dobbs decision came down, I signed an order and my administration took a number of actions to protect the access to reproductive healthcare, including emergency medical care; to protect a woman's right to travel from a state that prohibits abortion to a state that allows it, and to protect the privacy of sensitive health information preserving -- preventing states from tracking women who are seeking help, because that's what some will do.

But as I said when the Dobbs decision -- we're fighting a battle in the courts as well. But as I've said in the Dobbs decision, when it was released, I want to repeat it again, the only sure way to stop these extremist laws that are put in jeopardy women's health and rights is for Congress to pass a law.

And I've said before, the Court got Roe right nearly 50 years ago, and I believe Congress should codify Roe once and for all.

Right now, we're short a handful of votes. If you care about the right to choose, then you got to vote. That's why, in these midterm elections, it's so critical to elect more Democratic senators to the United States Senate and more Democrats to keep control of the House of Representatives.

And, folks, if we do that, here is the promise I make to you and the American people, the first bill that I will send to the Congress will be to codify Roe v. Wade. And when Congress passes it, I'll sign it in January, 50 years after Roe was first decided the law of the land.

And together, we'll restore the right to choose for every woman in every state in America. So, vote. You got to get out the vote. We can do this if we vote.

And, folks, I also have a message for the young people of this nation. I've always believed that this generation is -- the young generation represents the best educated, most talented, least prejudiced generation in American history, and that today we face an inflection point, one of those moments that only come around every several generations where there's so much change happening technologically, politically, and socially that the decisions we make now are going to determine the future of our nation and the future of your generation for the next 30 or more years, and it only happens once every five, six generations.

I know that you may feel like it's an added burden on top of all you've already been through and this young generation, my grandchildren and children, have been through. I'm not saying you have to shoulder the burden alone. The task at hand and the task ahead is the work of all of us. What I am saying is you represent the best of us. Your generation will not be ignored, will not be shunned, and will not be silent. Just look at what happens when you speak out.

Two years ago, perhaps many of you voted for your first time in an election or volunteered for your -- work in your first election. You understood the choices and the stakes. And because of your experience and power to vote, you elected me President and Kamala Vice President, the highest-ranking woman ever to be elected in American history.

And since then, with your help, we've delivered enormous progress for the nation, the most significant gun safety law in 30 years. And, by the way, if you give me a Democratic Congress, we're going to ban assault weapons again. I did it once, I'll do it again.


And the most significant Infrastructure Law in seven years. Have us, you know, we ranked up, like, in the 20s, in terms of infrastructure, the United States of America, for God's sake. We made the most significant commitment ever in all of history to protect our environment, ever, ever, ever, $360 billion.

And with your help, we're forgiving student debt. By the way, we really worked hard to get the system right as to how you apply. Just since yesterday, 4 million more people applied. I'm keeping my promise that no one should be in jail merely for using or possessing marijuana. You should not be in jail.

Together, we're making sure our democracy delivers for people, but we know there's much more progress that needs to be made. And we know that there remains real options.

In 2020, you voted and delivered the change you wanted to see in the world. In 2022, you need to exercise your power to vote again for the future of our nation and the future of your generation.

So let me close with this. I'm asking the American people to remember how you felt, how you felt the day the extreme Dobbs decision came down and Roe was overturned after 50 years. And I'm asking you, and, by the way, it's not just affecting your generation -- young generation. It's affecting children, moms, grandmoms, grandpops, all -- the entire generations all the way across the board.

And I remember asking, I want you to remember that the final say does not rest in the court now. It does not rest with extremist Republicans in Congress and finally say, finally say, about your right to choose, that it rests with you. And if you do your part and vote, Democratic leaders in Congress, I promise you we'll do our part. I'll do my part.

And with your support, I'll sign a law codifying Roe in January. Together, let's remember who we are. We are the United States of America, and there's nothing beyond our capacity. So vote, vote, vote. God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. Thank you.

I'm sorry. KING: The President of the United States finishing a brief speech here in Washington. We can do this if we vote. That from the President of the United States, were largely young audience here in Washington, a Democratic Party event. We can do this if we vote, he means, he says, if you keep the Democrats in charge of Congress, his first act in 2023, will be to send Congress legislation that would codify Roe v. Wade, guarantee a federal right to an abortion.

The President, we go around the table with our great reporters, Audie Cornish, starting with you, trying to reinvigorate the Democratic momentum that we did see in the country after the Supreme Court Dobbs decision, wiping Roe off the books. Three weeks from today, we count votes, the President saying you need to vote, don't give up. And he's particularly calling on women and young people to turn out in big numbers.

CORNISH: Well, Biden has seen this movie before, right, under the Obama administration years, there is very much in effect where it's you see voters, young voters, people of color, who decide to stay home, you know, in those in between years because many provinces have not been delivered on in areas that we haven't been talking about here. So I think he can see that. And know it's a concern. It's not just about getting some people to be concerned about this one thing. It's knowing full well that lots of people may just sit it out.

KING: Right. And to that point, he says he would veto any Republican pass legislation of a national ban. I don't know if Republicans would have the votes with the Senate or the way it's likely to be.

CORNISH: But maybe you can convince Lindsey Graham to talk about it in public, right, it's another thing is to like get a go --

KING: And he talks about 16 states have imposed significant restrictions since Dobbs, again, the President trying to reinvigorate instance about turnout and engagement.

ZANONA: Yes, absolutely. The other thing he said is that he would bring a bill and sign a bill that would codify Roe v. Wade, the problem is, it has to get to his desk first. And the only way Democrats are going to be able to do that is if they hold the House and if they pick up Democratic seats in the Senate, which is a very, very tall task. So this is political messaging at this point, they've run out of options at the White House. But it is clear that they do view this as a winning message.

KANNO-YOUNGS: It was interesting to see also obviously the focus on young voters as well. But he did broaden it towards the end saying, look, go tell your grandparents as well tell your parents about this. It almost echoes the language around him making this very much about privacy rights making, trying to tell people that it may not stop here at this issue, but it could, there could be a precedent set here and that it really is about the loss of constitutional rights, talking to the white, people around the White House and Democrats. That has been an effort to try and galvanize a broad coalition of voters here.

KING: Right. Again three weeks from tonight we count your votes. The President of the United States trying to change the trajectory that in the last several days last week or so is trying to back toward the Republicans, we'll watch it out that's why we cover these elections. They're fascinating as we go state by state.


Appreciate your time today in INSIDE POLITICS throughout the breaking news. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.