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Russia Attacks Kyiv with Kamikaze Drones, Escalating War; Three Weeks to Go, Race to Watch as Midterm Elections Near; Sedition Trial Against Oath Keepers Enters Third Week. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 17, 2022 - 07:00   ET


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: The capital, Ukraine, with drone attacks, putting civilians and infrastructure at risk.


Just look at this.

Now, this video appearing to show an Iranian Shahed 136 drone coming under fire in Kyiv. Now, CNN has not been able to confirm the exact location. Both Washington and Kyiv have accused Tehran of supplying Moscow with the drones, have used to target Ukraine's energy infrastructure.

Now, Iran previously denied providing Russia with the weapons. Kyiv's mayor, Vitaly Kitschko, says that the drones caused several explosions, rocking the city. People were sent fleeing for shelter as the attacks set buildings on fire in a busy area filled with universities, bars and restaurants.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, rescue operations are ongoing. At least three people have been killed. Authorities urging people to stay indoors and pay attention to air-raid sirens throughout the day.

So, let's get now to CNN's Clarissa Ward. She is live for us in Kyiv, Ukraine. You have just visited the site of one of these attacks. What have you seen, Clarissa?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, it was a horrific scene, honestly. And, actually, we were quickly moved on from there because there were continuing alerts about possible oncoming missiles.

Essentially, it was a residential building. We saw one elderly lady who was rescued during our time on the ground there, one body of a resident of that building. But authorities, as you mentioned, saying three people killed in it. Two of those killed were a couple, a young couple. The woman apparently, according to Ukrainian authorities, was six months pregnant.

So, this is now the new normal where residents of Kyiv find themselves in, Brianna, where they are waking up in the morning to the sound, to the very distinctive sound, as you could see in that social media video, of these Shahed drones, these kamikaze drones that have been wreaking havoc across the country for almost a month now, but still a relatively new phenomenon here in the capital.

We were able to speak on the scene to the mayor of Kyiv, Vitaly Klitschko. He said that, you know, while Russians don't care at all about killing civilians and while they appear to be actively trying to kill civilians, it also appears that the intended target is critical civilian infrastructure. And, actually, what was interesting walking around that area is that you could see how much damage was wrought there from the attacks last Monday when that barrage of missiles slammed into the capital.

So, Russians appear to be very focused on this specific area in downtown Kyiv because there are several buildings, there are several installations that are very much crucial for that civilian infrastructure. We're talking power, we're talking heat, and these are all very important things as we head into the winter months and Russia's military is facing such humiliating defeats in the south and the east, and is desperately trying to turn this thing around.

But the mayor saying to us, listen, forget about it. The intention may be to cow people but all it actually does is make people angrier and make them want to fight more.

MARQUARDT: The new normal, what a terrifying prospect.

Clarissa, you did touch on it. Kyiv is bearing the brunt of the attacks today. Over the course of the past week, it has been a number of Ukrainian cities that have been struck, and as you said, struck at the heart of their critical infrastructure.

WARD: Right. And, you know, it's important to remember as well that for the last several months, Kyiv has been relatively quiet. Life here really had returned to normal, businesses were open, restaurants, cafes. And I think there's definitely an element of this, which is like trying to hit at the psyche by terrifying people, by crippling the capital and trying to distract from other fronts where perhaps the Russians are struggling more in their efforts.

And this is why the Ukrainian authorities are saying, listen, guys, to the international community, we need better air defense systems and we need them now. Because the thing is with these kamikaze drones is that a huge amount of firepower is being expended trying to stop them from hitting their targets. And a lot of people, as you saw again in some of the social media video, just extraordinary police officers with AK- 47s, literally just trying to shoot these drones out of the sky to stop them from reaching their intended target.

MARQUARDT: Yes, yet another Monday with the Ukrainian capital coming under attack. Clarissa Ward, we're very lucky to have you back in Kyiv, thank you very much.

KEILAR: We are just three weeks out now from the midterm elections and as candidates make their final push on the campaign trail, we're focusing on a few key races.

Harry Enten back with us to talk about this. So, Harry, what are the Senate races that you're watching? [07:05:00]

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. So, look, it's all about the battle for control, getting the 50 seats. Can Democrats maintain that so slim majority?

Okay. So, what's the road to keeping 50 seats? They must win four of these six key races. New Hampshire, they have got a lead. Arizona, they have a lead. Pennsylvania, five-point lead. The fourth seat, Georgia, Raphael Warnock with a four-point lead right now in the polls, that is seat number 50. These two other races both in Nevada and in Wisconsin, and I'm also watching Nevada. Look how tight it is. It's just one point well within the margin of error. It does seems like Ron Johnson, the incumbent in Wisconsin, has an advantage at this point, up three.

But right now, Democrats, if the election were held today, would be the favorites to hold on to controlling the United States Senate.

KEILAR: All right. So, zoom in a little bit on Georgia for us and tell us more of what you're seeing.

ENTEN: Yes. So, Georgia, that 50th seat, here's the thing to keep in mind. Georgia is unique among those six races that I'm watching in so far as a candidate needs 50 percent of the vote plus one to win in the November election. Otherwise, there's a runoff.

And here is the thing. Right now, Raphael Warnock, the incumbent, he is just 48 percent in the polls, in the average, right? Herschel Walker is a little bit behind at 44 percent. Why? Normally, I don't have a libertarian candidate here, but Chase Oliver is pulling 3 percent. It's quite plausible that even the candidate who has the most votes in the November election does not get to that majority threshold and it could come down to a runoff again in Georgia post-November for control of the United States Senate.

KEILAR: I know you're also watching a few gubernatorial elections in states that Biden won by less than a point in 2020. So, let's look at that, and I want to start with Arizona.

ENTEN: Yes, let's start in Arizona. Of course, the candidates here could not be any more different. You saw that yesterday in that interview that Kari Lake did on this network, where she may not, in fact, basically take the results if she loses this race. She has not said she is going to support those results.

But look at how tight the race is here, right? I have four polls on the screen right now, and you can see, these polls disagree of who the leader is because this race is well within the margin of error. A three-point lead for Hobbs, a one-point lead for Hobbs, a tie here, we have Lake plus one. So, the fact of the matter is Arizona, a state that was so close last time, determined by well less than a point, could be another long race, especially with that mail-in voting, it could take days, if not, a week to determine who, in fact, wins this race.

KEILAR: And Wisconsin is so close.

ENTEN: Wisconsin, another race that's so close. Remember, we always go to the Midwest in elections in this country and this seems to be one that we'll be going to. Look at this, Tim Michels up by just two points, we have a tie here. Tony Evers, the incumbent in Wisconsin, just a really, really tight race in Wisconsin.

KEILAR: All right. Harry, thank you so much, our Senior Data Reporter and Chief Buffalo Bills Correspondent, we appreciate it.

ENTEN: I think I prefer the latter title.

KEILAR: I know you do.

MARQUARDT: I'm telling you, Wolf is going to fight him for it.

Here in Washington, week three of the Oath Keepers trial beginning this morning. It is the first seditious conspiracy case stemming from the January 6th attack. The defendants include Stewart Rhodes, who is the founder of the far-right group, as well as four of his top lieutenants.

CNN's Sara Sidner is here with us now. Sara, this has turned into quite the trial.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has and it's going to be very long, at least six weeks, maybe eight weeks just judging from what's going on now. But what you're seeing is a methodical movement by the prosecutors. They have brought in a half a dozen FBI agents already. We've heard about from former Oath Keepers who were concerned about what they were hearing from the defendants in the trial.

But most of all, prosecutors have used the words and the actions of the defendants themselves to try and prove their case.


SIDNER (voice over): Video from January 6th, 2021, shows members of the Oath Keepers snaking up the Capitol steps in military gear and then breaching the case. The prosecutor's seditious conspiracy case against four Oath Keepers and an associate continues to reveal stunning details about their preparation before this day, preparation for potential violence to stop the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

In its second week, the jury saw these videos. The videos are from the weeks before the Capitol attack, showing some of the Oath Keepers now on trial at a weapons and tactical training course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we're using a rifle, it's very much so an offensive weapon. Pistol, protecting ourselves with that.

SIDNER: Prosecutors then showed the rifles in these boxes that they confiscated from some defendants, pointing out they knew the weapons were typically for offense, not defending themselves, when they wield them in cases to a Virginia hotel in anticipation of using them to keep Donald Trump in power.

But the defense claimed that none of the defendants brought the rifles or handguns to D.C. and they did not stop the transfer of power. Still, prosecutors are trying to prove seditious conspiracy, not the actual act of sedition.


Prosecutors have used the defendants' own words in text, Signal or Facebook messages to try and incriminate them. Like this one from Oath Keeper leader Stewart Rhodes, three weeks before the January 6th attack on the Capitol, saying Trump has one last chance to act. He must use the Insurrection Act unless we fight a bloody civil war/revolution.

Prosecutors also showed this video as evidence of one of the defendant's state of mind. It was allegedly sent from Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs to a member of another far-right militia group called the B-Squad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On January 4th, we need to be en masse in D.C., armed, demanding -- not asking -- demanding that we get a peaceful resolution to these voter corruption issues, these election corruption issues, and that certain people be brought to trial and held to account.

SIDNER: It is the first time federal prosecutors began showing a connection concerning January 6th, between the Oath Keepers on trial and other far-right groups, including the Proud Boys.

In another exchange, Oath Keeper Meggs sent this message, plus, we have made contact with the PB. They always have a big group, force multiplier.


SIDNER (on camera): Now, PB, prosecutors pointed out was likely Proud Boys. And you'll have to remember that several members of the Proud Boys are also facing seditious conspiracy. Their trial will be upcoming.

So, it's an interesting point that we hadn't heard before, where the prosecutors really tried to show you that there was coordination between many of these far-right militia-style groups.

MARQUARDT: As you said, so much more to come. Sara Sidner, we're really lucky to have you here in Washington.

SIDNER: I'm happy to see you too.

MARQUARDT: Great to have you on set and see you in the flesh.

SIDNER: Thank you.

KEILAR: Across the country, we are seeing a disturbing trend emerge, that is police officers becoming targets in the line of duty, being ambushed and killed.

CNN's Josh Campbell is live in Dallas with more. Such a disturbing trend, Josh.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. Last week was a bloody week for police in America. At least 12 cops shot in the line of duty. And as we look at some of these recent incidents, I warn our viewers that the newly released body camera footage that you are about to see is graphic and may be disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm shot in the hip. My partner is shot in the leg.

CAMPBELL (voice over): Three Philadelphia SWAT officers shot last week in the line of duty. So far, 2022 has been an especially violent and deadly year for law enforcement in America.

COMMISSIONER DANIELLE OUTLAW, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: I'm outraged. I'm disgusted. I'm wondering where the level of outrage and upset is outside of the law enforcement community.

CAMPBELL: Danielle Outlaw is Philadelphia's police commissioner.

OUTLAW: And right now, things are wrong because the level of violence that we're seeing against our law enforcement officers is just beyond outrageous.

CAMPBELL: Across the country, there have been 252 officers shot in the line of duty through September of this year, according to the National Fraternal Order of Police. 50 were killed. It's a continuation of a rising violent trend. According to the FOP, 44 law enforcement officers were killed by gunfire in the line of duty during the same time period last year, adding up to officers being fatality shot more often than once a week during that time. In El Monte, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, two officers were killed this summer as they responded to a call about a stabbing.

MAYOR JESSICA ANCONA, EL MONTE, CALIFORNIA: They were acting as the first line of defense for our community members when they were essentially ambushed.

CAMPBELL: In fact, there have been 63 ambush-style attacks on law enforcement through September of this year, according to the FOP. At least 93 officers shot in those onslaughts, 24 died as a result. In Bristol, Connecticut last week, three officers were allegedly ambushed and shot. Only one survived. The gunman may have lured them there by making a false 911 call, according to investigators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired. Shots fired. More cars, send everyone.

He's down. One down. Suspect down.

CAMPBELL: In 2021, data from the FBI showed the highest number of law enforcement officers were intentionally killed in the line of duty since the September 11th, terrorist attacks, 20 years earlier. The data mirror a rise in gun violence in many parts of the country in recent years, now rising to a level not seen since the mid-1990s.

A teenage gunman killed five people in Raleigh, North Carolina, last week. A responding police officer injured in the shooting. The increasing violence against police has law enforcement leaders around the country sounding the alarm.

Three of your officers have been shot. What's that like?

OUTLAW: It's a pit in your stomach. These are folks that answered a call to serve. They want to give back. We sign up to do this understanding the risk, understanding the danger.


But we did not sign up for these jobs to be martyrs. We just didn't.


CAMPBELL (on camera): Now, Brianna, I've been here in Dallas at this conference of police chiefs from around the country and talking to law enforcement leaders, not only are they concerned about their own people and their safety and well being, but there's a concern whether this wave of violence that we've seen recently might impact recruitment and dissuade people from stepping forward, raising their hand to become police officers. Of course, that could impact public safety for years to come. Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes, you'd think it would. We'll see if that's the case. Josh Campbell, thank you for that report.

There are some new details now from a chaotic night marked by tear gas and explosions in Iran.

You're hearing chants there happening after a deadly fire at an Iranian prison, an infamous Iranian prison, over the weekend. We're getting new reports that at least eight prisoners were killed, 61 were injured. The prisoners at Evin Prison reportedly dying of smoke inhalation. Iranian authorities say, quote, thugs set fire to the warehouse of prison clothing, which sparked the deadly fire.

For more, let's bring in Senior Fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Karim Sadjadpour to talk more about this. A lot of questions remaining about this fire this morning.

KARIM SADJADPOUR, SENIOR FELLOW, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: That's right. State television initially announced that 40 people died from smoke inhalation, and then a little bit later, they announced only four people. So, the reality is that we can't count on Iranian state T.V. to tell us what really happened. And the families of political prisoners are obviously extremely concerned about their wellbeing.

MARQUARDT: Karim, it's been exactly a month since these protests broke out, sparked, of course, by the death of Mahsa Amini. Where do you see them standing right now? Where is the momentum? And are there any cracks that you're seeing in the regime?

SADJADPOUR: It's an important question, Alex. There're numerous fires happening now in Iran. You have young women taking to the streets removing their head scarves. You have the universities protesting, ethnic protests in Iranian Kurdistan, Iranian Baluchestan. And you're just starting to see the emergence of strikes among the bizarre and petrochemical workers. If all of these brush fires combine together in one inferno, the regime is going to be in trouble.

So, far we haven't seen signs of fissures within Iran's security forces but you have a regime, which is led by an 83-year-old supreme leader. It's widely thought that he has terminal cancer. So, the calculations of the security forces may start to change because of that.

KEILAR: And U.S. attempts to negotiate on the Iran nuclear deal have basically paused because of these protests. Do you think that is the right move right now? The administration is trying to show support of the protesters, clearly trying to monitor the situation and just seeing which way the wind may be blowing here. Do you think it's the right move?

SADJADPOUR: Absolutely, it's the right move for the Biden administration to put these talks on ice. If we were to try to negotiate a deal with Iran right now, it would basically be empowering an embattled regime whose identity is premised on anti-Americanism against a peaceful freedom movement in Iran. And that's not what we want to be doing.

MARQUARDT: Before we let you go, and we just have a few moments left, Biden said on Friday that something has been awakened inside the Iranian people. Do you believe -- to use that term, do you think the Biden administration is awake enough and responding in a way that you believe they should to these protests?

SADJADPOUR: Alex, I think these images and videos from Iran are incredibly powerful, I think, not since the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa have we seen a movement which is so clearly who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, or I should say the good girls as well.

So, I think the administration has shifted. Up until now, their sole policy on Iran was to revive the nuclear deal, and I think they've realized the need to rethink that.

MARQUARDT: All right. Karim Sadjadpour, really lucky to have you, thank you so much for your expertise this morning.

SADJADPOUR: Thank you, guys, so much.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, Herschel Walker defending his decision to pull out a badge on a Georgia debate stage, plus a new book that details missed opportunities that could have led to Donald Trump's removal from office. KEILAR: And more inflation pain, the drought in California sending tomato prices soaring.



KEILAR: Early voting under way today in Georgia with three weeks to go until Election Day. Georgia is one of the states with some of the most closely watched races that could help determine control of Congress. That includes the Senate race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker.

And in the race for Georgia's 14th congressional district, Republican incumbent Marjorie Taylor Greene is facing off against her Democratic opponent, Marcus Flowers. Here are some key moments from both debates over the weekend.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): One thing I have not done and I've never threatened a shootout with the police.

SENATE CANDIDATE HERSCHEL WALKER (R-GA): And I have to respond to that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are moving on, gentlemen.

WALKER: No, I have to respond to that. And you what's so funny, I am a police officer, and at the same time --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Walker. Mr. Walker.

REP. CANDIDATE MARCUS FLOWERS (D-GA): Did Joe Biden win the election, Congresswoman Greene?

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Joe Biden is the president of the United States, Marcus.

FLOWERS: Absolutely. But you pushed a big lie that said he did not win the election.

GREENE: There was election fraud that's proven --

FLOWERS: And you drove those people to go to the Capitol on January 6th with your lies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to move on. Josh Roe (ph), it's your turn to ask a question to Marjorie Taylor Greene.

GREENE: We have FOIA evidence.


KEILAR: All right. Joining us now, Washington Correspondent at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tia Mitchell. That was the moment that I think got so much of the attention from the Herschel Walker/Raphael Warnock debate. What did you think of the debate overall?

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: I think in the debate overall, that was the most viral moment, the policing discussion, the honorary badge.


But, in general, Herschel Walker, I think, exceeded the very low expectations people had for him. And in that way, a lot of people considered the debate a pretty good showing relatively. He's not a great debater. Some of his answers weren't great. But he came across more prepared and more coherent than a lot of people expected. And I think that probably helps some Republicans that were starting to lose faith in him get back in his corner.

That being said, Senator Warnock, his answers were a lot more focused, but at times he also meandered a little bit, he had some anecdotes and kind of was a little bit preacherly that didn't always translate in a fast pace debate. And so I think people some wanted him to be a little bit sharper against Herschel Walker.

In general, though, I don't think the debates changed anyone's mind. If you were for Herschel Walker before, you're probably still with him, and the same for Raphael Warnock.

KEILAR: Walker did have maybe another moment that maybe didn't catch as much attention as the badge moment, but this is that he has talked about his experience with -- even written a book about it, dissociative personality disorder, which is known previously as multiple personality disorder. When asked about it, he said this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying you no longer have dissociative identity disorder or is this something you continue to this day --

WALKER: No, you don't have to have treatment for it. And I encourage people to continue to talk to people. And I talked to my pastors. I talk to my pastors and I continue to get help if I need help. But I don't need any help. I'm doing well.


KEILAR: All right. You actually do need treatment for it. Nonetheless, I am more curious what you think about what he was talking about mental health writ large and how people can deal with mental health issues.

MITCHELL: Right. And I think this is, you know, one of the examples. There were several from that debate where his answer, although you could follow the answer, which is kind of surpassing the low bar, the answer itself wasn't always rooted in fact or science and could be considered problematic for serious mental health issues, for serious mental health diagnoses, you need a plan of -- you know, you need a plan, you need a psychiatrist or a psychologist or perhaps medication. And to downplay that is not going to play well for people who want an answer more rooted in science and fact.

MARQUARDT: Tia, there are so many interesting races in Georgia and another one of them is Marjorie Taylor Greene running against Democrat Marcus Flowers. And they had a pretty fiery debate too. And in that debate, Flowers called Marjorie Taylor Greene an insurrectionist. Let's take a listen to that clip.


GREENE: You cannot accuse me of insurrection. I was a victim of the January 6th riot, just as much as any other member of congress. That was the third day I had on the job. I had nothing to do with what happened there that day and I will not have you accuse me of that. That is wrong of you to do, you are lying about me and you will not defame my character in that manner.


MARQUARDT: Now, that race is not as close as the Warnock/Walker race. Do you think that debate, that moment, any of those moments moved the needle?

MITCHELL: No. I think this race, this district is over 60 percent Republican-leaning. It would be very hard for a Democrat to win. That being said, we know Marjorie Taylor Greene is this national, you know, far-right Republican figure, and, therefore, both she and her Democratic opponent have a lot of attention. They're raising boo coo dollars. And so I think that the debate will help in that effort but the debate really won't change the dynamic of what is likely to occur in November.

KEILAR: Tia, it's great having you here, we love having you on set, thank you so much.

MARQUARDT: Thank you.

KEILAR: A new book diving into President Trump's two impeachment trials and the fears behind the scenes of Republican and Democratic lawmakers. The book's author is here to discuss, next.

MARQUARDT: And ahead, new CNN reporting on what exactly law enforcement knew about the potential for violence just before the Capitol attack on January 6th.