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New Day

Bad Blood, Debates Get Personal as Midterm Elections Near; Kharkiv Mayor Says, City is Under Fire as Explosions Reported; DOJ Says, Oath Keepers Bought Arsenal of Weapons Before Attack. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired October 18, 2022 - 07:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Andy, thank you so much.

Ahead, we will be joined by NBA Hall of Famer and NBA on TNT Commentator Grant Hill, as the NBA season kicks off with a doubleheader, who he has his eyes on.

And New Day continues, right now.

A big debate night three weeks out from the midterms.

I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman this morning.

In Ohio last night, pretty bad blood between Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance on the debate stage, the two Senate candidates battling over the economy, inflation and racist rhetoric.


SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): Yes, Joe Biden is our president. He was chosen in the only election that matters, the election held by the Electoral College.

Now, as to whether there were errors, as to whether some states might have conducted their elections better than others, there's always room for debate and questions about that.

SENATE CANDIDATE EVAN MCMULLIN (I-UT): For you to talk about the importance of the Electoral College I think is rich. I think you know exactly how important it is, and I think you knew how important it was when you sought to urge the White House that had lost an election to find fake electors to overturn will of the people.

You were there to stand up for our Constitution, but when the barbarians were at the gate, you were happy to let them in.


KEILAR: The Ohio Senate race more competitive than expected in a state that Donald Trump carried twice. Both men accused each other of being ass kickers and suck-ups. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In Utah, Independent Evan McMullin accused the incumbent Republican senator, Mike Lee, betraying America on and after January 6th, among other things.


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): I think it is grounded in some of the most racial, divisive, racially divisive writings in the history of the world, and this is who he's running around with, talking about replacement theory. There's no big, grand conspiracy. This country has been enriched by immigrants.

SENATE CANDIDATE J.D. VANCE (R-OH): You are so desperate for political power that you'll accuse me, the father of three biracial babies, of engaging in racism? We are sick of it.


BERMAN: That was the Ohio debate playing the role of the Utah debate right there.

Evan Mcmullin, back in Utah, also confronted Senator Mike Lee over text messages he sent to Mark Meadows in the lead-up to the attack on the Capitol. Lee denied any wrongdoing.

KEILAR: And in Georgia, the big rematch for governor between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp. The candidates made their final pitch to voters last night with more on the line for the Democratic challenger here. Abrams is trailing in the most recent polls. Last night, she attacked Kemp on several fronts.

CNN National Politics Reporter Eva McKend is with us from Atlanta. What's the reaction there to the Abrams/Kemp debate, Eva?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Brianna, as expected both sides claiming this morning, feeling triumphant. The Georgia governor's race, one of the most anticipated rematches in politics.


MCKEND (voice over): Just 21 days before the midterm elections. In Georgia, it's not only about the House and the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the general election debate on candidates for governor.

MCKEND: Face off Monday night in their first of two scheduled debates, Stacey Abrams, Shane Hazel, a libertarian, and the incumbent governor, Brian kemp, a Republican, each making the case for deserving their vote.

GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE STACE ABRAMS (D-GA): The current failures we have seen in this state are not only damning, they are disqualifying. And over the next few years, we have an opportunity to change the trajectory of the state. GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): My desire is to continue to help them fight through 40-year high inflation and high gas prices and other things that our Georgia families are facing right knew, quite honestly, because of bad policies in Washington, D.C.

MCKEND: Governor Kemp campaigning for a second term and has led polling in the race.

But for many Georgians, this election is rematch of the 2018 contest between Kemp and Abrams. While a federal judge ruled last month Georgia's election law did not violate voters' constitutional rights, in response to a lawsuit brought by Abrams' founded group, Fight Fair Action, starting in 2018, the Democratic candidate repeated some of these accusations to Georgia voters.

ABRAMS: We need a governor who believes in access for the right to vote and not in voter suppression, which is the hallmark of Brian Kemp's leadership.

MCKEND: Governor Kemp pushed back against Abrams' claims.

KEMP: For someone to say that we have been suppressive in our state when we've seen turnout increase over the years, including with minorities, like African-Americans, Latinos and others, is simply not true.

MCKEND: The two also faced off on the issues of business ownership for minorities and social equity.

KEMP: We are the ones that have been fighting for you when Ms. Abrams was not. We were giving tax refunds. We were doing tax cuts. We were suspending the gas tax to help you deal with 40-year high inflation when she was criticizing us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stacey Abrams, 30-second battle.

ABRAMS: I would point out that Mr. Kemp did not address the needs in purchasing in contracts for black and brown-owned businesses.

He has said that we need to study it. I would tell him, just cheat off my paper. I know the answer.

MCKEND: The heated debated comes as early voting begins in Georgia, the Peach State home to another critical midterm race. And it is here where control of the Senate, which is split 50/50, could be decided. Incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock facing Republican Nominee Herschel Walker in a close race. Casting his ballot Monday, Reverend Warnock renewed attacks against Walker.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): My 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 shoot- out with the police. And his response was to produce a fake badge? MCKEND: Appearing on NBC's The Today Show, Walker once again showed his honorary sheriff's badge, which he previously claimed was legitimate in a debate last week and denied allegations of domestic violence made by his son.

SENATE CANDIDATE HERSCHEL WALKER (R-GA): I love my son, Christian, I love my whole family, I'll always love them. That's what I say to my son, Christian, and I don't have any violence.


MCKEND (on camera): And it's another busy day in this battleground state, all of the candidates crisscrossing the campaign trail. Stacey Abrams will kick off her bus tour, her Let's Get it Done bus tour this afternoon here in Atlanta. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Eva, thank you so much for that report, Eva McKend in Atlanta.

BERMAN: We have new developments in Ukraine this morning. The nayor of Kharkiv says his city is under fire with a series of explosions reported. Russian strikes targeting critical infrastructure in at least three Ukrainian cities, including the capital of Kyiv, triggered power and water outages.

Shelling destroyed a two-storey residential building in Mykolaiv, a man's body pulled from rubble there. And Ukraine says two workers at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were kidnapped.

CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is live for us in Kyiv this morning. Clarissa, how severe is the damage in the capital city? How are residents holding up?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, basically, Kyiv's mayor is now asking people to try to conserve electricity and also water on the back of a number of attacks that took place earlier this morning. These were rocket attacks.

We know, according to the mayor, that at least two critical infrastructure facilities have been damaged. And it appears that one was particularly seriously damaged. It's being described as an energy supply facility. But from what we understand, it's basically like an energy plant that creates power but also is an important factor in creating heat for people's homes, which obviously is not a crucial thing at the moment, but certainly will be as the winter sets in and as the months get colder.

We're hearing that two people were killed as a result of this morning's attacks. Not using drones this morning, as we're used yesterday, but the overall focus for the Russians seems to be very similar to what we have seen in the last week, and a day, the last eight days, really, which is a real laser focus on Ukrainian civilian critical infrastructure.

We heard from the president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, earlier today in a tweet saying that 30 percent or more than 30 percent of Ukraine's energy facilities or energy plants have been seriously damaged or destroyed, even since October 10th, as a result of this new tactic.

So, this is a very serious challenge for Ukraine's armed forces. It is one that they are doing their best to mitigate, but that is why you are seeing this kind of renewed call, as we heard from Zelenskyy last night, for more sophisticated air defense systems to help Ukraine try to stop all the -- they're already intercepting a lot of them, but even if just a few guess through, John, as you can see, it can create real problems here in the capital and across the country.

BERMAN: Yes. Talk more about that, Clarissa. Yesterday in your piece, you showed something I hadn't seen before, which is shooting down of these Iranian drones that Russia is using against Ukraine. It's remarkable footage but they can't get all of them. So, what does Ukraine say it needs?

WARD: Ukraine says it needs a couple different things. First of all, they want to see the international community put a lot of pressure on Iran. They are demanding sanctioning against -- sanctions against Iran for supplying this weaponry to Russia, because it's creating a host of different problems for them.


It's bad for the psyche of the Ukrainian people, the sort of very distinctive, worrying, whining noise that these drones make. They have nicknamed them mopeds here in Ukraine.

But you can imagine the terrifying impact that has for people on the ground to see these kamikaze drones flying towards them, to know that it's almost impossible for air defense systems to spot them in the sky. So, you're really talking about people on the ground using line of sight, using manpad, if they have access to that, or whatever kind of rifle they might have with them, and trying to shoot them out of the sky. So, that's one component.

The other thing that the Ukrainians are asking for again and again is more sophisticated air defense systems, and more of them. This is a vast country, John, and so it's one thing to get an air defense system in place that might protect effectively one city or one part of the country, but in order to set up a kind of wider spread infrastructure that would really afford Ukrainians proper protection from this threat, it makes it very challenging for them.

And the more they believe that they make these, you know, successful counteroffensives on the ground and take back territory from -- that had been under control of Russian forces, the more they fear that Russia is going to respond with these sort of blistering attacks on civilian targets, creating very many challenges for them in terms of the infrastructure and supplying people with what they need to survive, but also, as I mentioned, that effect on the sort of morale of the populace, John.

BERMAN: Clarissa Ward, great to have you there. Thank you, as always, so much for your reporting.

KEILAR: A top U.S. intelligence official says Russia is running through its stock of precision weapons, firing them at an unsustainable rate. In the meantime, the U.S. is trying to speed up delivery of air defense systems to Ukraine following a wave of Russian drone attacks.

CNN's Katie Bo Lillis with us now. So, tell us just how quickly are the Russians burning through these munitions and what does it mean on the ground for what's getting hit?

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: So, Brianna, we don't have a precise expenditure rate, but what we heard from the director of National Intelligence yesterday echoed what we've heard from other U.S. officials, which is that Russia is chewing through these precision munitions that what the U.S. believes is an unsustainable rate. And it's part of the reason why Haynes and other officials believe that Russia has been leaning so heavily on these Iranian-provided drones that they've used so effectively to strike Ukrainian energy infrastructure and terrorize Ukrainian cities.

Russia is using these drones as kind of a replacement for some of these precision-guided munitions. As one western intelligence analyst put it to me yesterday, this is kind of a poor man's precision munition.

But the other thing that Haynes went on to say yesterday that I think was really interesting was she said that the U.S. now believes that sanctions and export controls placed on Russia by the west are contributing to Russia's supply chain woes here, right? They believe at this point that not only is Russia burning through its stocks itself, it is also having a hard time replenishing some of these weapons because it can't get the components.

And I want to share with you what Haynes said to us specifically yesterday, which was that export controls have forced Russia to rely on contraband chips where it can and frankly jury rig microelectronic components when no alternatives exist, steps that are probably leading to weapons and systems that are less capable.

KEILAR: Wow, that is really something. And so if they're dipping into their reserves, if Russia dips into their reserves, what does that do?

LILLIS: Yes. So, we do know from one source familiar with western intelligence that the west does believe at this point that Russia is close to dipping into its strategic reserves, if it hasn't done so already. But this same source emphasized that Russia still has plenty of older Soviet-era, less precise missiles that it can use to pummel Ukraine with. And Ukraine still remains incredibly vulnerable from there, in particular from these Iranian drones that, as we know, have killed four in Kyiv just yesterday.

So, it's important that we don't read too much into Haynes' remarks, that we don't interpret them as suggesting that Russia is running out of bullets, so to speak, anytime soon, but they do indicate a pretty profound weakness in Russia's war machine.

KEILAR: Even as they terrorize the civilian population big time. Katie, thank you so much for that. I appreciate it. BERMAN: Prosecutors in the seditious conspiracy trial of leaders of the far-right Oath Keepers group have introduced evidence that its founder, Stewart Rhodes, and other members spent tens of thousands of dollars ahead of the January 6th insurrection on an arsenal of weapons. Prosecutors argue that the firearms, bullets and other equipment were part of their preparation to try to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

With me now, CNN Anchor and Senior National Correspondent Sara Sidner, who has been following every twist and turn in this trial. Sara, what's the latest?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, good to see you this morning. Yes, this is week three of the prosecutors' case.


And what we saw Monday was members of Oath Keepers wheeling heavy boxes and big bags through a Virginia hotel. And they showed this to the jury for the first time so they could see the video of just how heavy some of these boxes were. At one point, one of the people coming into this hotel in Virginia was having a hard time maneuvering it, because it was so heavy.

And this was the day before January 6th and the attack on the Capitol. And you also see gun cases coming through this particular hotel.

Now, the hotel was a location, prosecutors say, for the Oath Keepers' so-called quick reaction force. An FBI agent testified to the jury yesterday that it was supposed to help attempt and support keeping Biden from taking office, and was meant to later on occupy D.C.

Jurors also saw Oath Keeper Founder Stewart Rhodes' receipts, as he made his way from Texas with his attorney, Kellye SoRelle, and drove to D.C. And what you saw are receipts showing thousands and thousands of dollars spent on arms accessories, spent on things like scopes and sights and all different kinds of magazines, as well as, prosecutors argued, a couple firearms.

In total, more than $175,000 had been withdrawn or debited from two Oath Keeper accounts in just the month of January alone. And prosecutors are basically trying to prove, John, that the Oath Keepers were building an arsenal in preparation to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

However, there is always another side to this, of course. You have the defense saying, look, the Oath Keepers have long maintained that they never brought the guns into D.C., that they never used those weapons that they had stashed in Virginia. And then in every rally they have ever gone to, they have always had this quick reaction force available to them to assist in what they called peacekeeping activities. John?

BERMAN: All right. Sara Sidner watching it closely, more developments every day, thank you.

The Trump Organization accused of overcharging Secret Service agents who stayed at their properties while the agents were protecting the former president and his family.

And President Biden expected to keep abortion rights front and center in a big speech before the DNC today.

KEILAR: Plus, are Democrats getting the right message out three weeks ahead of the midterms? Senator Mark Warner here to discuss.



KEILAR: A new House Oversight Committee report accuses the Trump Organization of charging the Secret Service, quote, exorbitant rates while protecting the former president and his family. The costs spent at Trump-owned properties more than $1.4 million over the course of four years.

According to the report, the former president's company charged the Secret Service excessive nightly rates as high as $1,185 per room per night more than five times the government rate.

But listen to what Eric Trump claimed in 2019 about the government's expenses at Trump properties.


ERIC TRUMP, SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free. It saves a fortune, because if they would go to a hotel across the street, they'd be charging $500 a night, where as we charge them like $50.


KEILAR: Joining us now, CNN Political Analyst and Senior Political Correspondent at The New York Times Maggie Haberman. She is also author of the new book, Confidence Man, The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.

Maggie what do you think about what this report found? Obviously, very much in contradiction of what Eric Trump promised?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, two things, Brianna. One is absolutely not true that they were charging $50 a night or that they were charging something below the government rate. Those rates are very, very high. And those rates are so high they're only going to call attention to what Trump was doing. Trump, who looks to make a profit any way he can and always has probably could have made a profit without going so exorbitantly high, but doing that is just going to draw attention from people who engage in government oversight, which is something that he was, you know, never considered himself subject to even when he was as a private businessman.

I don't know what can be done about this now in hindsight, but I do think it's something people need to bear in mind as Donald Trump looks to potentially become a candidate again. BERMAN: I just want to make one correction. You're not just the author of Confidence Man. You're author of the number one best-selling New York Times book, Confidence Man. So, just to make sure that's clear here.

You note, Maggie, that, in Trump world, there's this sort of bizarre justification for this kind of charging, or they think they have been bilked somehow by having Donald Trump at president.

HABERMAN: That's one of the things that Trump would complain to people in his world about was because it costs us business having them here or the rooms get damaged in some way. Who knows if that's even true, but that was something that people heard him saying. As you say, it's always these sort of rationalizations he makes. There's no justification for charging that high a rate if the report is correct.

BERMAN: It's just not true what Eric was saying. It's just flat out false what Eric Trump was saying there, if this report is right.

KEILAR: And a lot of buzz today, Maggie, about Kanye West and his plans to buy -- to acquire Parler, the social outlet. And he says he wants Trump to join it. Of course, Trump has Truth Social. I wonder what this means for Trump what you think this means for Truth Social?

HABERMAN: I don't know how much it means for either one of them, especially because I'm really not sure how this deal ends up going through with Kanye West. We have to see. And a lot of it will be in the details and the financing.

Look, the clearly have a mutually beneficial relationship. They have also both been mutually making pretty anti-Semitic statements over the last couple of days.


And I think one of the questions this raises in terms of Trump is, as Facebook, in particular, is looking at whether Trump would get let back on their platform or if Elon Musk goes ahead with buying Twitter, does he let Trump back on his platform? The kinds of speech that looks like it could be tolerated, and maybe not, but it's certainly being tolerated on Truth Social. We know some of it is on Parler. Let's see what it means for other platforms.

BERMAN: And aside from what ends up on social media and which platform, Maggie, I think you hit on something important there, that Trump is in conversations with chumming around, palling around with someone who is now just daily saying virulently anti-Semitic stuff in public.

HABERMAN: I don't know that I consider what Kanye West is saying that different from what Donald Trump himself said on Sunday, on Truth Social, where he condemned U.S. Jews for not supporting him enough and raising this dual loyalty trope about Jews. But, yes, I would say to Kanye West, he's certainly doing it more frequently and he is doing it in more pointed ways. It is amazing how mainstream this has become.

KEILAR: So, both of you know one of the biggest problems, right, with New York City is the trash. Well, okay, jinx. Okay, no.

So, as you would say, so, no. The trash piles up. It attracts rats. And now you have the mayor, Eric Adams, who is on a crusade against them, and I just want to play something that he said about this.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): Everyone that knows me, they know one thing. I hate rats.

There are many rivers in the sea of rodents in the city and today we're damning one of them.

JESSICA TISCH, NCY SANITATION COMMISSIONER: The rats are absolutely going to hate this announcement but the rats don't run this city. We do.

SHAUN ABREU, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: This is not Ratatouille. Rats are not our friends.


KEILAR: We need some of that in D.C., I'll tell you. But I just wonder, do you think that -- what do you think about this? I mean, this is really -- what it comes down to. This is what people want to see in governance, right?

HABERMAN: It is. I mean, there's obviously a hokeyness about how the press conference was being executed, but it is true the rat problem in New York City has gotten worse. It got worst during the pandemic. It got worst as garbage wasn't being picked up. Leaders dealing with basic issues that people care about day-to-day is incredibly important. And this is something that I think that Eric Adams is trying to focus on.

BERMAN: But, again, I want to go back to Donald Trump just for one second, because an interesting thing has happened in these general election races with some Republican candidates, which is that Lee Zeldin, who is the Republican nominee for governor of New York, Trump just endorsed him and Zeldin was like, this is no big deal, this isn't really news. He seemed to be downplaying this endorsement, some. And then in Colorado, you have the Senate candidate there, the Republican Senate candidate, flat-out saying, I'm campaigning against Donald Trump if he runs for president. What do you see going on here?

HABERMAN: Look, there are candidates who are underperforming with Trump voters, or who had been like J.D. Vance, who has now moved forward but who really needed Donald Trump. There are candidates, like O'Dea in Colorado, it's a purple state. So, having some distance from Trump is helpful. Trump attacking him is not the worst thing for him in Colorado.

In New York, it's something similar with Lee Zeldin. He is closing polls -- look, I think Lee Zeldin is a big long shot just because of how Democratic-leaning New York is and because Zeldin is so tied to Trump. But I think that Zeldin is trying to get some distance and trying to close the gap. It feels a little late but we'll see.

KEILAR: All right. Maggie, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate seeing you.

And ahead, the message that President Biden hopes to drive home when he speaks to the DNC event later today.

BERMAN: Control of the Senate hanging in the balance as the countdown to the midterms hits the three-week mark. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia here with us to discuss.