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Kamikaze Drone Strikes Rock Kyiv; Obama to Campaign for Dems in Michigan, Wisconsin & Georgia; Suspected California Serial Killer Caught While 'Out Hunting'; Docs Show Secret Service Knew of Capitol Threats Before Attack; Buttigieg is Most Requested Surrogated for Dem Campaigns; Obama to Dems: Talk about Normal Issues without Being 'Buzzkill'; Elon Musk Says He'll Keep Funding Ukraine Satellite Service. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 17, 2022 - 06:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Kamikaze drones. This is a new form of attack as Vladimir Putin's war rages on. Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Brianna Keilar. Alex Marquardt is in this morning for John Berman.


And we're beginning this morning with a series of loud explosions from a Russian attack, rocking Ukraine's capital, putting civilians and infrastructure at risk.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: New video appears to show an Iranian Shahed 136 drone coming under fire in the Ukrainian capital. CNN has not been able to confirm the exact location. But Ukraine has accused Iran of providing Russian forces with those explosive drones that have been used to target the headquarters of Ukraine's national energy utility company.

Now, the attack is also hitting a busy area filled with universities, bars and restaurants, setting buildings on fire and sending people running for cover and cutting power in some areas.

KEILAR: And happening now, rescue operations are under way. Two people killed, four others injured. The city's mayor urging people there to shelter in place.

Let's get to CNN's Clarissa Ward, who is live for us in Kyiv with the very latest -- Clarissa.


Well, we're standing right near the site of one of those blasts that woke up Kyiv residents at about 6:45 this morning. They've actually now pushed us back from the site, because this is an ongoing rescue operation.

Ukrainian authorities now saying they've rescued 19 people. At least three people have been killed. And they believe there may be more people in the rubble back there. And I want to stress, this is a residential building that was hit this

morning by these Iranian drones. Ukrainian authorities saying that one of the drones had written on it, on the debris that they discovered in Russian, "(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)," "for Belgorod," basically. Essentially saying that it was in revenge for attacks on the Russian side of the border that Ukrainians have not officially claimed responsibility for.

Now, there had been a huge amount of activity here up until just a few minutes ago. Then we heard the air-raid sirens again. Understandably, a lot of people have moved away from the area.

Because this is a place right in the center of the capital. It's also a place with a lot of critical infrastructure. And it is been hit many times last -- in the last week.

Last Monday, I just want to show you over there. Scotty McWhinnie can pan up to that building, which again, you can see windows blown out. The facade seriously damaged after a barrage of missiles hit the capital last week.

And so the fear here now, really, for people living in Kyiv is not only about these new kamikaze drones and the threat that they bring with them, but also that the targeting now really seems to be specifically geared towards civilian infrastructure.

We spoke briefly to the mayor back at the site there, Vitaly Klitschko. He said, Listen, they want to try to get us before the winter, to freeze people, to hit power, to hit heat, to hit energy plants and things of this nature.

So definitely, a grim new chapter in this war, Brianna and Alex, with Kyiv, the capital, very much once again at the center of it.

MARQUARDT: Clarissa, life in Kyiv has been relatively normal for the past few months, and then as you note, this is the second Monday in a row where the Ukrainian capital has come under attack.

How unnerving has this been for the residents there? And do you think that there is a sense now that their lives are going to be different going forward?

WARD: I think it's definitely, Alex, as you say, a massive adjustment. We were both here at the beginning of the war, when central Kyiv was regularly coming under attack and, certainly, the suburbs of Kyiv were very much the focus of Russian attacks.

But in the past few months, it has been relatively quiet. Life has gone back to normal. So this is a significant development.

What's interesting in terms of the psyche of the people of Kyiv, this is something I also asked the Mayor Klitschko about. And he said, you know, they do it to try to intimidate you, the Russians that is, but actually, the effect is to make people angry, to make people want to fight harder. And so it remains to be seen whether this is a tactic that is going to

continuously be implemented. We've heard already from Ukrainian authorities saying, Listen, this is why we need those air defenses to help bolster our existing infrastructure and air-defense systems.

Because at the moment, they say they intercepted in the last couple of days, 37 of these kamikaze drones; 15 intercepted this morning that were headed for Kyiv. Obviously, four managed to hit and detonate. And they want to do whatever they can to try to mitigate the threat of this new weapon.

KEILAR: Yes. It does just seem to harden their resolve, as we see.

Clarissa Ward, thank you so much for that report. And of course, we'll be checking back in with Clarissa throughout the show this morning.

MARQUARDT: Well, it is only three weeks and one day until America votes in a midterm election that is likely to determine the future of our American democracy.

Now, we're moments away from the start of the early voting in Georgia, where one of the most competitive races in the company [SIC] -- in the country, rather -- could determine control of the Senate.


And new this morning, an explanation from the Republican candidate in that rate, Herschel Walker, about why he flashed what appeared to be a sheriff's badge during Friday's debate. Take a listen.


HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: This is from my hometown. This is from Johnson County, from the sheriff of Johnson County, which is a legit badge. Everyone can make fun. But this badge give me the right -- and let me finish. If anything happen in this county, I have the right to work with the police in getting things done.

KRISTEL WELKER, NBC NEWS: Does that have arresting authority, or is it 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 them, to work with them on things.

WELKER: The National Sheriff's Association said an honorary badge, quote, "is for the trophy case." Why make the decision to flash it at the debate?

WALKER: That is totally not true.


KEILAR: Now on the debate stage tonight in Georgia, incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp squaring off against Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams.

Abrams will be getting some help on the campaign trail from Barack Obama between now and November. The former president will be also campaigning in Michigan and Wisconsin.

And there are two other notable debates tonight. Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance go toe-to-toe in what is round two of their debates in Ohio's closer than expected Senate race.

And in Utah, independent Evan McMullin and Republican Senator Mike Lee battle on the debate stage in the only Senate race in the country where Democrats decided not to field a candidate.

CNN national politics reporter Eva McKend is joining us with the latest. All eyes on Georgia, Eva.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed, Brianna. Listen, Walker, flashing that badge. He says that he has these badges, apparently, from different local law enforcement agencies.

But typically, these badges are ceremonial. They don't translate to any sort of arresting power.

For the Johnson County Sheriff's Office part, though, they are commenting on this. That badge that he flashed was from Johnson County. They are defending Walker saying that he has been an effective ambassador for law enforcement. But to be clear, that badge does not translate into any kind of arresting power.

KEILAR: He seems really determined, though, to keep discussing it, Eva. How is that playing with top Republicans who are trying to, you know, get him across the finish line here?

MCKEND: He does. Apparently, this is something that's he has been very proud of. And to be clear, this is part of his election pitch. He does talk about law enforcement a great deal on the campaign trail.

From my judgment, it doesn't seem as though any Republicans are backing away from him on this. But yes, it is a bit curious to continue making this claim, even though this badge is really ceremonial in nature only.

MARQUARDT: And Eva, we are going to see the former president, Barack Obama, in Georgia, as well as Michigan and Wisconsin between now and election day. How are the various Democratic campaigns going to be using him and his star power?

MCKEND: Well, President Obama has been a really effective ambassador for Democrats. I've seen him in action on the campaign trail. So it makes a lot of sense, especially in a midterm year when Democrats control the White House, to have someone like Obama out here in Georgia to really waken up Democratic voters and provide some excitement. He'll be here in about a week.

But it's all the more notable because no word yet if President Biden will come to the state.

Today is the first day of early voting. Senator Warnock going to be here in just a bit, casting his vote early. I was actually at Clark Atlanta University last night for an event aimed to encourage black men to get out and vote, and really, it was stressed upon them to do so early.

MARQUARDT: All right. Three weeks and one day. Eva McKend, thank you very much.

Police in Stockton, California, are saying that they stopped another killing after arresting a suspected serial killer while he was out, quote, "hunting" for his next victim.

Now, this comes as recent serial killings there claimed the lives of six.

CNN national correspondent Camilla Bernal joins us live from Stockton. Camilla, what is the latest?


We've been following this story for weeks, and now authorities say they were able to make this arrest, thanks to two things. The first being the help from the community, the tips.

And the second thing, surveillance. The cops watching this guy, following him, seeing if there were any patterns and eventually arresting him to prevent what they say was another possible attack.


BERNAL (voice-over): On a mission to kill, words used by the Stockton police chief to describe 43-year-old Wesley Brownlee, the man he says is responsible for a series of deadly shootings in Northern California.

CHIEF STANLEY MCFADDEN, STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA POLICE: We are sure we stopped another killing.

BERNAL (voice-over): After the killings, the press conferences, and the release of this surveillance video, police reviewed hundreds of tips, then zeroed in on a possible suspect.


MCFADDEN: This is a pattern that is consistent with some of the patterns that we have seen around, you know -- around parks, around dark places. Stopping, looking around. Moving again.

BERNAL (voice-over): It's what the chief called good, old-fashioned police work. And on Saturday around 2 in the morning, officers were following Brownlee.

MCFADDEN: He was on a mission to kill. He was out hunting. BERNAL (voice-over): They saw his movements as a threat and decided to

make an arrest. At the time, police say he was wearing all black, had a mask around his neck, and was carrying this gun. The case is now at the district attorney's office.

RON FREITAS, SAN JOAQUIN INCOMING DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The suspect's reign of terror in our community has come to an end. As the incoming district attorney, I look forward to prosecuting him to the fullest extent of the law.

BERNAL (voice-over): Prosecutors will have to prove that Brownlee shot at least seven people, killing six men, injuring a woman and terrorizing a community. Of those killed, police say most were Hispanic, all alone during the evening or early morning hours when attacked.

MAYOR KEVIN J. LINCOLN, STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA: No parent has to worry about taking their kids to a park. That nobody would have to worry about looking over their shoulder when they go to the grocery store.

BERNAL (voice-over): The killings are believed to have begun in April of 2021, with the most recent reported late last month. And now authorities not only saying they prevented another attack, but also promising justice for the victims and for a community.

LINCOLN: We made it very clear to the public that the senseless acts of violence will not be tolerated. And that even though there wasn't any words that we could say that would bring back the lost loved ones, the least that we could do is do our part to help bring justice.


BERNAL: Now Brownlee is expected in court tomorrow. It's unclear if he has an attorney, but we should know more about that and about all of the charges that he'll be facing once he appears in court.

Police did say he has a criminal record, but in terms of motive, they say they do not have one at the moment -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: He was out on a mission to kill. So incredibly chilling. Camilla Bernal, thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it.

KEILAR: Secret Service documents provided to the January 6th Committee show law enforcement officials were aware of violent social media posts and threats aimed at lawmakers before the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Zachary Cohen is joining us now with some more CNN reporting on this. So what does the committee plan to do in light of this new information?

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, we've obtained some of the documents that the Secret Service handed over to the January 6th Committee, and they really show that the Secret Service, along with the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police, were really talking internally about these threats. A lot of the same kind of violence was popping up -- or talk of the same type of violence online the days before January 6th.

And they weren't only aware that they were talking about it amongst themselves. It included raising concerns about what could happen on that day.

Now, some of the posts that they flagged in these documents are really specific. They outline battle plans about how to storm the Capitol building on January 6th. They talk about wanting to take custody of Mike Pence at one point. And they really are all in the name of Donald Trump and keeping him in office. That seems to be the common theme there.

And yet, nothing was really done out of the ordinary on January 6th to prevent that kind of violence from happening. And that's what the January 6th Committee wants to hear more from the Secret Service about.

Listen to what Zoe Lofgren, a committee member, said just yesterday when we asked her about these documents.



REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): There was a representation, publicly, as well as in the interviews, that there was no monitoring of social media. That we know now was not correct.

You know, certainly, downplaying the knowledge of violence. That was -- they knew it well in advance, and certainly, by the 5th of January what they were facing.

COHEN: So these documents really make clear it is not just the Secret Service who knew in advance, but also the U.S. Capitol Police, the FBI, and they were all talking about it internally, as well. But the committee clearly wants to hear more about what the Secret Service did and did not do at that time.

KEILAR: Certainly, look, hindsight is always 20/20. But it sort of speaks to why perhaps an overreaction or over-vigilance is maybe the best course of action.

Zach, great reporting. Thank you so much.

Pete Buttigieg is in very high demand. Why Democratic candidates want to campaign with him more than anyone else.

And former President Obama warning Democrats to knock off the buzz kill and stop only obsessing over Donald Trump.

MARQUARDT Plus, Elon Musk now vowing to continue funding Ukraine's vital satellite Internet system after an exclusive CNN report. We'll be right back.


MARQUARDT: We are in the final stretch of the midterms, and Pete Buttigieg is in very high demand. Sources telling CNN that the transportation secretary is the most requested surrogate on the campaign trail for Democratic candidates, fielding more invitations than Vice President Kamala Harris.

Now, this as Democrats are looking to win governors' races and hold onto their Senate and House majorities. Here with me now is CNN senior reporter Isaac Dovere.

Isaac, why is Buttigieg the most in-demand surrogate?

ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT : Democrats have an issue here where the president is still not very popular. That's dragging down Kamala Harris, too.

But the agenda is broadly popular, and there are things that they want to be able to talk about. High on that list is infrastructure, and Buttigieg is, of course, the face of that, as the transportation secretary.

He's also a fresh face. And for Democrats, it's a big thing to have that. He's very popular with the donor class, this sort of political celebrity sheen that comes in that is more than they can get with a lot of other people but doesn't bring the baggage, again, of Joe Biden or Kamala Harris.


MARQUARDT: And what is the baggage with Kamala Harris?

DOVERE: Well, look, what comes with Joe Biden comes to her. Every problem that she's been having -- or that he's been having in his popularity, weighs on her, too, and brings her down.

And that's -- that's part of it's also an issue that she has where, for her to land and do an event is a huge logistical and cost production. And that's something that's true for the president, too, but of course, not true for Pete Buttigieg.

MARQUARDT: All right. Glad that you're here.

DOVERE: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: You've got a busy few weeks ahead. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

KEILAR: So just a few weeks to go until election day, former President Barack Obama has some advice for his fellow Democrats: focus less on Trump. Focus more on the issues. Here it is.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We join that game, and we spend enormous amounts of time and energy and resources pointing out the latest crazy thing he said or, you know, the -- how rude or mean, you know, some of these Republican candidates behaved. That's probably not something that, in the minds of most voters, overrides their basic interests.


KEILAR: Let's bring in CNN senior political analyst John Avlon on -- here on this advice he's giving. What do you think about it?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's fascinating because -- because Barack Obama occupies a place in the Democratic Party where he can cut through some of these sort of precious pieties and offer pretty straight-laced advice.

In this case, don't -- stop obsessing about Donald Trump and the latest insanity. Focus on what actually matters to voters' lives.

And there's another piece of that, too, that I thought fascinating, where he said, Look, we need to stop being the party of the buzzkill that has people sort of tiptoeing around for fear of offending, and instead focus on an inclusive vision of progressivism that emphasizes fairness and equality and not play into these stereotypes of liberals as being scolds and elites.

It's a tough dose of medicine for some Democrats but I think a necessary one.

MARQUARDT: John, we were just talking to Eva McKend about Obama stumping in Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia. How much of an impact do you think he can have?

AVLON: I think Barack Obama is in a position to really fire up the Democratic base. I think in some ways, he said there's some states I could go where I might hurt as much as I help.

Well, you know, if you look at really rallying the base and getting out vote, particularly in the cities, no one's going to do that like Barack Obama right now. He fires up the base and can connect with moderates more so than President Biden and Kamala Harris.

You know, and I wouldn't be surprised if you heard requests for him to also add Philadelphia to that list, add Cleveland to that list. Because he really is the Democrats' strongest surrogate, in many respects.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about something we're seeing in Arizona, which is that the attorney general there is asking for a federal investigation of a conservative nonprofit.

This is a big deal, because the A.G. is a Trump supporter, and he's asking for the investigation of True the Vote for potential IRS violations. An investigator in the A.G. office writes this, that the group has "raised considerable sums of money alleging they had evidence of widespread voter fraud" but failed to provide any evidence. This is a nonprofit, John. AVLON: It is. And that's the key here. There are certain basic constraints on nonprofits, which are tax-exempt, right? They can't be self-dealing, and they need to stay out of partisan political campaigns.

But the fact that the -- an investigator in the attorney general's office is flagging this for the IRS means this is not the last we've heard of it.

We have seen a pattern where conspiracy entrepreneurs keep spreading election lies, that really metastasize in our politics. But they are constrained primarily by legal action.

And that could -- this could be the first step towards that. Because this group, as you see from the complaint, has promised massive amounts of information, failed to produce anything, but has dramatically influenced the national conversation around false claims of mass voter fraud, but especially in Arizona, where all four of the state-wide Republicans right now back those election lies.

So this is a significant twist in that story, given that it's the Arizona attorney general's office that's making this complaint and recommendation.

KEILAR: Yes. It certainly is.

John Avlon, thank you so much. Of course, we'll see you later in the show, as well.

AVLON: All right. Take care, guys.

KEILAR: And about-face by Elon Musk. Following CNN's exclusive reporting, he's now vowing to continue funding Ukraine's critical satellite link.

MARQUARDT: Plus, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is warning against international interference on Taiwan and not ruling out the use of force to bring about unification. That's coming up.



KEILAR: Elon Musk reversing course. The billionaire now says his SpaceX company will continue to fund Ukraine's critical satellite service.

SpaceX's Starlink service has been a vital source of communication for the Ukrainian military during its war with Russia.

The reversal coming after exclusive CNN reporting by my colleague here, Alex Marquardt, sitting next to me, that SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon, warning that it may stop funding the service unless the U.S. military kicks in tens of millions of dollars each month.

Musk tweeted this weekend, "The hell with it. Even though Starlink is still losing money and other companies are getting billions of taxpayer money, we'll just keep funding the Ukraine government for free."

Interesting development here. What's going on?

MARQUARDT: Yes. It's hard to say whether this is, for sure, a reversal. It certainly seems like that, but we know that he's sarcastic and he's really kind of making light of this.

But if this is true and they're going to -- they're going to fund Starlink in Ukraine, it would be a reversal of what we reported on Thursday.

And that was that SpaceX, which runs Starlink, this critical satellite Internet service that has been used by both civilians and troops on the front line in Ukraine, that they wanted the Pentagon to start picking up most of the tab.