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Tonight: Obama Rallies For Warnock In GA Ahead Of Runoff; Justice Dept. Will Get Final Jan. 6 Committee Report Along With Public; U.S. Considers Dramatic Training Expansion For Ukrainian Forces. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 01, 2022 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: We're waiting to see any minute now, the President of the United States and the President of France speaking at a news conference. President Macron is in Washington for the first official state visit of the Biden presidency that includes a big fancy steak dinner tonight. This meeting though also happening at a time of high tensions between the United States and France and the United States and Europe, most of that over economic issues, back to that as soon as the two leaders emerge.

Tonight though, the former president, Barack Obama, returns to Georgia to try to fire up voters ahead of next Tuesday's Senate runoff election. Obama's visit marking the second time the former president will campaign the Democratic Senate incumbent Raphael Warnock in his race against Republican Herschel Walker. As of this morning, get this number, more than 1.1 million voters have already cast early ballots in the runoff.

Our reporters back with us, that early voting tomorrow is the final day of early voting. Stunning, more than 1.1 million votes cast. Barack Obama goes tonight and we know why. It's hard to get people to turn out in a runoff election. They just voted a month ago. You're trying to get them turn out again. Barack Obama will do it in person in a rally. If you're a Georgia voter, especially if they think it's possible. You might vote Democrat, you might get a phone call from another Obama, listen.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Hey there, this is Michelle Obama, and I'm calling to make sure you have a plan to vote for Reverend Raphael Warnock. This election is going to be very close. And there are a lot of folks on the other side hoping you stay home. But we need you to get out and vote one more time for Raphael Warnock.


KING: Just a reminder there, both Obama's involved. Number one, African American turnout absolutely critical for the Warnock campaign. Number two, any turnout just hard after people, you know, he has run three or four times just in the last couple of years because of the rules in Georgia about, you know, the runoffs.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and, yes, exactly. But Michelle Obama is also like the big guns, right? She's extremely popular, particularly with Democrats. And the fact that she's also lending her voice to this just shows the stakes. I mean, if Democrats, if Raphael Warnock wins, and we were talking about this, it's not exactly the sexiest thing. But it's a big deal, because Democrats will have subpoena power. Committees will not be evenly split anymore. So it will be a lot more power in the Senate now.

And so the case that they're making it is -- there's a lot more to gain for Democrats here, which is why they're going all in. You're seeing it with the spending, too. There's been more spending for Raphael Warnock than Herschel Walker. That said, it's still a lot of money floating around there, but it is and it's still tight. So they're really going --

KING: And as you jump into Jackie's point, I just -- this is just mind blowing. Look at the spending in this race. This is in the last month. This is just in the runoff election. They spent a lot of money on the general election, then no candidate got about 50, so they go the runoff election. And you see the Democrats putting in almost twice as much money there as Republicans, more than twice as much money as the Republicans there because they get it. They get the value of this race. They will have a majority in the Senate no matter what happens in Georgia, but if they get 51 to Jackie's point, subpoena power, the committee is are not evenly mixed and more.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's a huge deal because of judicial nominations et cetera. And it's a six-year seat and Democrats know that 2024 is a tough Senate map for them. But it's interesting. Michelle Obama really did not play a role during the midterm election campaign. So she is doing in this case. She's also actually going to be in Atlanta on her book tour. So we'll see if she says anything, but that's going to get media attention. But what's so striking, I was at the rally at the former President Barack Obama did in the week before the midterm, the first election here and it's used as an organizing tool.

Yes, it's important to see the former president but there were clipboards, iPads, other things, people signing up, everyone who came to see him, they're going to be used as volunteers for the weekend to knock on doors, do fun working, et cetera. But there's only 24 hours left of voting at the end of the night of a -- of the early voting. So can everyone get in and early vote, at the same time, it's interesting. I mean, the Democrats have feel confident but not overly confident, as we can see here at all.

KING: The use of technology, and the sign up and turnout stuff changes, it's remarkable. Every campaign, you think, OK, they've revolutionized it, and then somebody finds a way to advance the technology against it. Now you have the big fight. One of the big fights is for swing voters. There are 200,000 voters who voted for Brian Kemp, who was easily reelected as Republican governor who did not vote for Herschel Walker. Senator Warnock in an interview with CNN's Kaitlan Collins that aired this morning says that's his biggest target. He needs Democrats to turnout but he also thinks he can win those persuadable swing voters.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): You saw something that didn't happen in Georgia, the split ticket voters. I think they can see the contrast. And I think we're going to see the results of that next week.


ASMA KHALID, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: And John, to that point, I will say leading up to the midterm elections when I was down in Georgia, it was so easy to find split ticket voters like I think that prior to wind down to Georgia, I thought these were sort of unicorns like we always hear about people split their tickets, you don't really meet them out in the wild. But I did meet quite a few folks who voted for Brian Kemp, and then voted for Warnock for Senate or left that ticket blank because they didn't want to vote for either. The question that I have now is whether or not the same voters actually take the effort to turn out and vote again.

KUCINICH: Kemp wants him too. I mean, Kemp has really been active. He wasn't active during the midterm, and he's been trying to pull Herschel Walker over the finish line and these last days.

KING: Well, it's a great point you make because Brian Kemp, just like Michelle Obama was not involved in the normal election season. He didn't want any part of Herschel Walker who had the Trump endorsement. In the runoff, he's lent his turnout operation, he showed up at a rally, he is helping out in part many believe because he has his own ambitions. He doesn't want to be blamed. But the man who served as Kemp's lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, Geoff Duncan, who is a Never Trumper who believes Donald Trump is a toxic cancer on the Republican Party says that he went to vote and this happened.


LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R-GA): I showed up to vote this morning, I was one of those folks who got in line and spent about an hour waiting. And you know, it was the most disappointing ballot I've ever stared at my entire life since I started voting. You know, I had two candidates that I just couldn't find anything that made sense for me to put my vote behind. And so I walked out of that, that ballot box showing up to vote but not voting for either one of them.


KING: I'm a tad skeptical that you stood in line for an hour thinking you were going to vote for one of them. But Geoff Duncan wants a future. He wants to be part of the group of Republicans he believes will pull the party back to what it used to be before Donald Trump. But that is an interesting piece of like, that doesn't help -- does not help Herschel Walker, does it help Geoff Duncan?

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, it really shows the moment that Republicans are in right now, right, just like the brain rattling that's happening because of what happened in the midterms. They saw that any Republican candidate, even if they tried to moderate themselves during the general election after the primary, if you cast a doubt on the 2020 election results, if you still, you know, embrace Trump and his endorsement, those candidates didn't do well. Incumbents, you've seen it in the House, in the Senate, they held -- Democrat incumbents held on a lot for that reasons. That's why you see Democrats really feeling more positive definitely not, you know, leaving room for absence and turning out the vote. They really do feel that it even in the candidate himself in Walker, that they might just be able to beat him because of people like him. There are a lot of voters to your point, especially that you heard.

ZELENY: And as Asma was saying, if Republicans don't vote, that helps Warnock so that's exhibited right there of the lieutenant governor who's still sitting in office for three more weeks, not voting, but that helps the Democrats.

KING: Also clear in this latest Walker ad, they are trying to number one, convince any soft moderate Republicans don't do it. Please don't cross over and vote for him but also maybe to drive down Democratic turnout while Warnock is a senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church which own some low income housing. There were local reporting about some of the residents of those houses and getting eviction notices, that is now the subject of this new Walker ad.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Warnock thought no one was watching when he evicted poor people from their homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he's going to evict you for 119, $119. He treats me like --

WARNOCK: Character is what you do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When nobody is watching, you find out who Reverend Warnock really is.



KING: Now the complex I just want to know for the record, the complex told "The New York Times" back in October when this first came up, no evictions have taken place since 2020. But in Atlanta news station WXIA has reported that eviction notices were filed as recently as this October. The question here is, Warnock is affiliated with the church, has been for a very long time very senior leadership position, is this something that helps in the end saying, Walker trying to say, he's not who he says he is. KHALID: I mean, I don't really know what sticks and resonates with voters or not. I think that this midterm election cycle taught us all that some of the traditional policy issues that we think matter, matter to people in really nuanced ways. And so, you know, one of the -- I will say, when I was down in Georgia ahead of the midterms, the two things I heard most often as a concern for voters was around inflation. One was around reproductive rights.

And often even the people who were Kemp and maybe not, you know, Herschel Walker on the bottom, they had those concerns. I met Republicans write concerns about reproductive rights. And so I just don't really know how this will all pan out. And I'm so hesitant to make a prognostication because I feel like we will be wrong.

KING: But I think that's the smartest place to be. We live in really volatile times. So let people vote and let's count on them. We'll see how it turns out. That'll be Tuesday night. Hope you join us when we do.

Up next for us, big decisions as the January 6th Committee winds down including how much material to make public and whether to make specific criminal referrals to the Justice Department.



KING: Live pictures here, that's the East Room at the White House. Any moment now, President Biden, President Macron of France will walk up for a side by side press conference, we will take you live to the White House in the East Room when that happens. In the meantime, the January 6th Committee says it will release a comprehensive final report by the end of this month. Yes, it is December now. Committee member Zoe Lofgren telling CNN this morning, all of the committee's findings will be included so that Republicans when they become the majority can't cherry pick evidence.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA), JANUARY 6TH SELECT COMMITTEE: They've been pretty clear that they'd like to undermine the work that we've done. But we're going to prevent that. We're going to release all the information we've collected. So it cannot be selectively edited and spun.


KING: Not just the public that has an interest in seeing the transcripts and the evidence, the Department of Justice also has a very keen interest for their own investigations into January 6th. Let's check in with our senior justice correspondent Evan Perez for more. Evan, when, when will the Justice Department get a hold of the Committee's work?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Apparently, John, when we get access to those same transcripts, this is one of the most bizarre disputes has been going for months and months and months, the Justice Department asked the Committee for access to transcripts months ago in formal letters, and the Committee said he was willing to at least share a number of them and especially those related to the fake electoral scheme, the people who the Justice Department is investigating for the effort to impede the transfer of power. So far, it seems the Justice Department still can't get access to that.

Now Zoe Lofgren was on the CNN this morning. And Kaitlan Collins asked her about it. Here's what she said.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So they'll get the transcripts and the evidence when the public gets the transcripts and the evidence, is that right?

LOFGREN: That's correct. It will be very soon.

COLLINS: What's the reason for waiting to turn that over?

LOFGREN: Well, we, you know, we had a series of interviews that we wanted to pursue without having leaks, and dribbling out of information. We've now completed all of our interviews.


PEREZ: Hey, John, so that's very interesting for a member of Congress to be concerned about leaks coming from the Justice Department. I know you will have a reaction to hearing that come from a member of Congress. But look, I mean, this is a serious issue for the Justice Department because they want to be able to see whether people answered questions differently when they testified or when they provided testimony to the Committee versus what they say to the FBI.

KING: Lack of trust, it's a bipartisan thing across the town. Evan Perez, grateful for that reporting. We will keep an eye on the timetable as it goes.


Ahead for us, some important first on CNN reporting, the White House now considering an expanded aggressive new training program for Ukrainian troops.


KING: Some important first on CNN news now, Ukrainian soldiers may get a dramatic expansion in their training from the U.S. military, the Biden administration now considering a two pronged approach, train larger groups of Ukrainian soldiers and change the type of training those soldiers would receive. This would give them more sophisticated battlefield tactics now that we are nine plus months into Russia's brutal war in Ukraine. Let's get to CNN reporter Katie Bo Lillis. She's breaking this news for us. Katie, tell us how this will work out if they adopt it. KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN INTELLIGENCE REPORTER: Yes, John, this is potentially a pretty significant expansion of both the number of Ukrainian troops being trained, as you mentioned and the kind of training they're getting. Since February, the United States has trained just a few thousand Ukrainian soldiers mostly in small groups, and mostly on how to use specific weapon systems. If this new proposal that the Biden administration is considering is adopted, the United States will train up to 2,400 Ukrainian troops a month in larger groups in more complex battlefield tactics, what the military refers to as combined arms training.

Now what does that mean? It means that the U.S. would likely be training Ukraine on how to better integrate their artillery support with their infantry maneuvers, how to improve their command and control and their logistics in larger and more complex military operations. Now, important to note, this is still a proposal, it's still the interagency review process has not yet been approved. But our sources tell us that this is something that is being very seriously considered as the Biden administration looks towards how to best continue to equip Ukraine to prosecute this fight in the long run, John.

KING: Katie Bo Lillis, thank you for that. We'll keep an eye on that very important development. I will also want to show you as we go, some live pictures of the White House East Room now, any moment now, any moment from now, the French president Emmanuel Macron and President Biden will hold a joint news conference. After that event, more discussions and then tonight at the White House a state dinner expect, get this menu, butter poached lobster, caviar, followed by a selection of American cheeses and cream fresh ice cream. I'm hungry. The guest of honor is the French President Emmanuel Macron. Again, this is the first state dinner of the Biden presidency. Plus, the Macrons is giving the Bidens customary gifts today including a vinyl copy of the soundtrack of a French film from the 1960s which the President and the First Lady saw on their first date. That's a cool gift.


Thanks for your time in Inside Politics today. Stay with CNN for that press conference. Ana Cabrera will pick up that coverage in just a moment.