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NYPD Advises "Elevated Vigilance" Ahead Of Midterms; Video Shows Two Men Attempting To Copy 2020 Election Data From Michigan Voting Machine; Investigation Underway After Woman Claims Her Dad Was A Serial Killer. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 27, 2022 - 07:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're less than two weeks to go until the midterms and Democrats are pounding the pavement trying to retain their majority in Congress as Republicans are hoping for a red wave.

President Obama is heading to Georgia this weekend to give a boost to Democrats campaigning there, and he'll join President Biden for campaign stops in Pennsylvania next week.

Joining us now to unpack the most competitive races that we are watching, CNN Politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza. OK, what are you watching?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: OK, I want to start big picture first so people know what we're talking about. All right, I'm not -- you don't have to count all these. There are 35 of them. There are 21 Republican seats up; there are 14 Democratic seats up.

So, right off the bat, you see Republicans have more vulnerability but not all these seats are competitive. Let's go to the top tier. These are the three I think, Brianna, that are going to decide majorities. This is a D seat -- Nevada. This is an R seat -- Pennsylvania. This is a D seat -- Georgia.

OK, Paul Laxalt -- excuse me, Adam Laxalt one point ahead in polling averages. Fetterman -- John Fetterman -- a lot of talk about him lately -- the lieutenant governor -- two points ahead.

This one surprises me a little. The polling average here is plus-five for Raphael Warnock. Obviously, Herschel Walker has been hit with allegation after allegation after allegation. This seems to suggest that it's having some effect.

Now, there are other races that I think we should watch. Ohio -- Tim Ryan -- amazing. This is an R seat. Oh, that's a terrible R. Let's do a better R. This is an R seat. Tim Ryan has run a great campaign. They are tied -- J.D. Vance and Tim Ryan -- a little surprising. This is a race nobody talks about. This may be the underdog race of the election -- North Carolina. Ted Budd, the Republican is winning, but Cheri Beasley is running competitive -- plus-four.

In Wisconsin, this is looking like a missed opportunity for Democrats. Mandela Barnes, the lieutenant governor, was ahead for much of this race. Now, Ron Johnson ahead by 3 1/2.

And then there's this. I don't know what to make of this one, honestly, Brianna. Mark Kelly has run a really good race -- very well- funded. He's running against Blake Masters. We've talked a lot about Blake Masters. He's up by six, but this is -- this margin -- I'm just going to do a down arrow because it's closing a little bit.

So, these -- you go with these three and these four, you've got seven -- and that's, I think, where the majority is going to be decided.

KEILAR: And where else are you watching where, you know, things may or may not change?

CILLIZZA: Yes. So, I call them the sleeper states. These are states that both parties thought might happen. They don't look like they're going to happen. But again, I don't -- 12 days out, I try not to rule anything out.

So, in New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan was seen as one of the most vulnerable incumbents going into the election. Republicans didn't get their candidate, Chris Sununu, the governor of the state. She's up eight. Now, I think that that's probably in a comfortable margin.

Same thing with Michael Bennet. This is a swing-ish state -- Colorado. He's up six. I think that's probably enough. You'd rather, obviously be up 16 than six, but being up six is better than being up none.

This is the one that I'm most stunned by. If you had told me at the start of the election we'd be talking about Chuck Grassley, who has been in the Senate longer than I've been alive -- and I'm not that young -- if, yes, you told me that he was only going to be up three points on a guy named Mike Franken, who is running as the Democratic nominee, I'd be really surprised.

And then, we always talk about Florida. Florida is a swing state. It's a state that has seen massive amounts of spending. This race was one that Democrats hoped would come online. Val Demings, a congresswoman with a police background -- a really great resume -- raised a ton of money. It just doesn't look like it's happening. So, she's down 11.

I want to just jump -- I want to show you two more just to keep an eye on and I'll do it fast.

You've probably heard about this race. Kari Lake, a very prominent election denier, is running for governor. This is a tie but it's moving in the right direction for Kari Lake. So you could have a very prominent election denier as the governor of Arizona, a swing state.

[07:35:00] And then this one -- sort of surprising. New York is not a swing state. If you're a Democrat you usually feel pretty good about running for statewide office in New York.

But Kathy Hochul, the governor -- she's only up four points on Lee Zeldin. Crime attacks have really hurt Republicans -- Democrats, excuse me, in New England in the northeast. Just keep an eye on it. If Kathy Hochul loses it's going to be an incredibly good night for Republicans, or even if it's close, it's probably going to be a good night for Republicans.

So that's all of them to watch for, at least for the moment. We've got 12 more days.

KEILAR: All right, I've got my cheat sheet ready with Chris Cillizza. Thank you so much.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: And don't forget to check out the very latest episodes from Chris' new podcast, which is called "Downside Up." Look at that pretty logo, by the way.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: A very good graphic.

KEILAR: I mean, that is wild.

OK, you can get that at or wherever you get your podcasts.

MARQUARDT: And new this morning, the New York City Police Department is advising elevated vigilance as midterm elections begin.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us now with the latest. Brynn, what's this about?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alex. You know, this is a bulletin that was disseminated within the NYPD intelligence bureau.

It basically is advising workers to have, like you said, elevated vigilance. Now, it says the department is now aware of any specific threats to candidates, election workers, or at voting sites, but warns, as we have seen, hostile rhetoric and really just an abundance of generalized threats in chat groups, for example, encrypted messaging channels. And that, they say, can create just an echo chamber and an environment for possible violent action.

Now, the bulletin -- it just goes on to list rhetoric the intelligence community is already seeing online. And it mentions the political climate specifically, of course, in the aftermath of January 6. I want to read that part to you. It says this.

"In the aftermath of the U.S. Capitol riot on 6 January 2021, REMVEs and AGAAVEs emphasized potentially threatening actions at the local level, encouraging the intimidation of municipal officials, school board representatives, and election staffers. Given the elevated domestic violence extremism threat landscape throughout the U.S., uniformed members of the service are advised to maintain heightened situational awareness when deployed citywide in support of the upcoming midterm elections."

So, again, this is something that goes out within the intelligence community and in the NYPD. Of course, we will see this in a broader way nationwide with homeland security. But certainly, this is now out there as we get closer to the midterms -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Yes, a really scary warning and it's not just in New York where we need to be watching.


MARQUARDT: Brynn Gingras, thank you so much -- appreciate it.

KEILAR: This morning, there is new video that shows how two men in Michigan lied to an elections clerk to gain access to a 2020 voting machine and inspect it, all over baseless voter fraud claims.

It comes amid a nationwide exodus of trained election officials in the face of threats and harassment. Leaving those replacing them inexperienced and vulnerable.

CNN's Drew Griffin has more.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two men, one armed and wearing a bulletproof vest, showed up last year at the Cross Village, Michigan community center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is word of -- that wipe -- the machines are going to be wiped tomorrow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I was contacted -- I was -- I'm like the Department of Defense contact.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And to clone the hard drives.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Newly-elected elections clerk Diana Keller said it was scary.

DIANA KELLER, ELECTIONS CLERK, CROSS VILLAGE TOWNSHIP, MICHIGAN: I was actually terrified, to be honest with you. I wasn't sure who they were.

Is this a legit thing I'm doing for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma'am, it is legitimate.

KELLER: OK. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would never put you in a position like that.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And did I hear correctly they said that they were on some sort of mission from the Department of Defense?


GRIFFIN (on camera): I mean, that sounds like serious stuff.

KELLER: Yes, yes, absolutely.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Their mission, to copy 2020 election data from a voting machine in an attempt to investigate baseless claims of voter fraud. But they clearly were not from the Department of Defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do you have a key for this one?

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Video taken during the hours long visit shows they were bumbling amateur sleuths who had no idea what they were doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it has a battery! So, how do we get inside of this thing? It's super thin. The regular one is not fitting in there.

GRIFFIN (on camera): They couldn't tell the back from the front, it seemed to me.

KELLER: It was just a bungled stupid thing but I was too scared to do anything.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): These are just two in a long line of election conspiracists who tried to gain access to election equipment in multiple states, all based on the lie that machines switched votes from Trump to Biden.

KELLER: I was so new to being a clerk and I really questioned it, but I was also intimidated. So, at the time, I wish I would have just said no, you can't touch any of that.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Across the country, scores of brand-new election officials like Keller will run voting in midterms. That's partly due to a mass exodus of election officials, both Democrats and Republicans, who have been relentlessly threatened and harassed by Trump supporters.


Matt Masterson used to run election security for the Department of Homeland Security.

MATT MASTERSON, FORMER SENIOR CYBERSECURITY ADVISER, CISA: It's not worth a count salary or a state salary to have the lives of you and your family threatened -- and they're walking away.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Roughly one in five election officials said they plan to leave before the 2024 election, with a third of those citing political attacks.

LAWRENCE NORDEN, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: They're likely to be replaced by people that don't have nearly the same experience. And we're in an environment where every mistake is an opportunity for spreaders of misinformation to further undermine confidence in the system.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Back in Cross Village, Michigan, real law enforcement eventually did show up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came here to -- just to do a forensic on it.

DEPUTY: Is that part of your normal policy? Just to make sure it's operating properly and everything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm -- I was -- I was -- this going through something else. Through the election integrity --



GRIFFIN (voice-over): And an investigation found out these two operatives were sent to Cross Village Township by a woman who claimed to be under the supervision of Trump attorney Sidney Powell and discussed voter fraud tied to data stored on a satellite owned by the Vatican City. Her name is Tera Jackson. She's not returned our calls but in this recorded police interview said this.

TERA JACKSON, CHARGED IN CROSS VILLAGE ELECTION MACHINE SCANDAL: This is a nonpartisan issue. However, if you voted for Biden, you're an idiot.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In February, she pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disturbing the peace. No one else was charged. These guys wouldn't answer CNN's questions.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Now that you've found out about the group behind this and what they were trying to prove, how do you feel about this in connection with national politics?

KELLER: I am sorry that it's happening to people. As far as new clerks go, take all the training you can because they train you about how to handle people in situations like that now.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Yes, but I bet you didn't that would be part of your job.

KELLER: I never did -- not in this small township.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


KEILAR: Thank you to Drew for that report.

The highly anticipated third-quarter GDP report and the weekly jobless claims numbers are coming out later today, so what should we expect?

And the two men accused of cheating in an Ohio fishing tournament by adding weights to their catch facing a different judge after this viral moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got weights in fish! Get the (bleep) out of here!




KEILAR: The two men accused of rocking the competitive fishing world by allegedly cheating in an Ohio tournament making their first court appearance. Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky pleaded not guilty to a laundry list of charges for allegedly placing lead weights and walleye fillets inside of their fish at last month's Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got weights in fish! Get the (bleep) out of here!


KEILAR: And it was all caught on camera here.

If convicted, prosecutors say they could each face up to a year behind bars. They are both now free on bond with their next court appearances set for November 9.

MARQUARDT: Time for CNN Business now. All eyes are on the economy. Within the next hour, the highly anticipated third-quarter GDP report will be released along with the weekly jobless claims. So what can we expect?

For those answers, we turn to CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans. So, Christine, what are you expecting out of this third-quarter GDP report?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": You know, rearview mirror but it looks like the economy bounced back. The forecast is for 2.4 percent growth after those two negative quarters we saw earlier this year. So, a return to growth is what economists are expecting here.

MARQUARDT: Jobless claims. Last week we saw the weekly jobless claims drop.

ROMANS: Yes. The job market has been so strong. We've got 3.8 million jobs created so far this year. The Fed is raising interest rates and would like to see the job

creation slow a little bit. The jobless claims -- those are layoffs and we're expecting those to be pretty low still -- maybe 220,000 is the forecast. So it looks like the job market is still going to be strong. Waiting to see those first signals that higher interest rates are at work there in the labor market.

MARQUARDT: So when you put all that together, what does it actually mean cumulatively for the American economy as we talk more and more about a potential recession?

ROMANS: So, I think you might see those recession concerns that maybe we were already in one -- those might die down. Two things can be true at once here, though. There are still concerns about what's going to happen in the U.S. economy next year. So, a return to growth for the third quarter and a still strong labor market suggest we're not in a recession now and probably weren't in one this summer, but there are still big concerns in the months ahead, you guys.

MARQUARDT: All right, Christine Romans. We'll be back to you when that report comes out. Appreciate it.


MARQUARDT: Now, the headquarters of Arizona's Democratic candidate for governor burglarized. Her campaign now blaming her opponent for inciting threats.

KEILAR: And a woman in Iowa alleging her father killed at least 50 young women over the course of three decades. Now police are investigating her claims. The FBI is getting involved. We have the reporter who broke the story, next.



KEILAR: A mystery is unfolding in Iowa as police investigate allegations from a daughter who says her late father was a serial killer. Lucy Studey claims her father forced her and her siblings to help him dump the bodies of women that he killed into a well. And she says that she could still point to where this well was and that police took it from there.


SHERIFF KEVIN AISTROPE, FREMONT COUNTY, IOWA: We did bring a couple of cadaver dogs. The cadaver dogs looked in there and -- or, you know, looked around the area and they did indicate in the area. I'm not going to say it was right over the well or where, but they did indicate in the area.


KEILAR: Joining me now is the investigative reporter from Newsweek who broke this story, Eric Ferkenhoff. Eric, thank you so much for being with us.

An incredibly compelling story. Just walk us through this because Lucy Studey says that her father killed scores of women -- sex workers, many among them. Her sister says it's not true.

What's going on here?

ERIC FERKENHOFF, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, NEWSWEEK (via Webex by Cisco): Right, and thanks for having me.

It was a wild story. I was in between jobs. I had just joined Newsweek and I got a call and I heard this woman out. And she was very lucid, and it was Lucy. And I started confirming it through other sources -- investigative sources -- whether it was possible that what she was saying, which sounded outlandish, of course, in the beginning -- could be true.


So went out -- Naveed Jamali and I, at Newsweek, went out to the scene and started investigating, doing background checks, et cetera. And Lucy's story, as wild as it may seem to readers and audiences, checked out every word from her childhood on to her preteen years.

And the dogs -- I know the sheriff told you that they didn't hit exactly on the well but we were present and they were right at the well when they signaled. And what was interesting about the dogs is send them out one-by-one and the dogs -- and this is a massive land. And the dogs went precisely to the location, which had changed dramatically landscape-wise over the years, to the locations that Lucy suspected the bodies may be.

And it's not just women. It's men as well.

KEILAR: Yes -- a couple of men, yes.

FERKENHOFF: Yes. So -- and one-by-one they went and they went to the exact same spots and they signal in different ways. And from there, DCI, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, has been involved, and now they're going to meet with the sheriff in the upcoming weeks.

The FBI, which has been pushing, from our understanding -- at least an agent has been pushing for funding to get this done.

KEILAR: And that's really the point, Eric. Because like you said, it's a massive land, right? So, her story --


KEILAR: -- will check out if there are bodies that are found, right?


KEILAR: So where -- that's really the issue to confirm.

I guess, where does that stand? But also, in the absence of that, it is interesting. One deputy said that they actually -- they believe her. They also said that there have --


KEILAR: -- been rumors for years. And she talks about trying to report this for decades.

A deputy from the area said, "Coming up, we just always kind of heard that. Well, then when Lucy Studey called me I just went out there and looked. She kind of told me where she thought the well was. Well, there was a well right there. It was just right where she said it was, no kidding. And her story never ever changes."

What it's going to take to 1) see if there are bodies there; 2) see if there are missing persons from that time to corroborate what she's saying?

FERKENHOFF: Well, following the initial report, the FBI has joined the effort. In what capacity we don't quite understand. But until there's actually a bone, we're not going to know.

Now, there are shallow graves on the property and they would likely start with the shallow graves rather than the very expensive and very time-consuming well boring and well excavation. This well is about 100 feet deep and there are apparently -- at least, allegedly, scores of bodies as deep as 100 feet in this well.

There are shallow graves where men or women are dumped, supposedly, and they would likely start there and see if the dogs can scent on these properties. And from there, if they can find human remains -- I mean, this thing is going to change drastically.

KEILAR: Yes. And look, there's so much ahead with this story to check it out.

But, Eric Ferkenhoff, we really appreciate you being with us to tell us what you've reported.

FERKENHOFF: And I would be remiss if didn't mention the victims if there are victims. And that is what other agencies are now searching.

KEILAR: Yes, and that's obviously such a missing part of this in trying to cross-reference some of that from the time period that we're talking about which, obviously, is part of the work that is, I'm sure, happening right now.

Eric, thank you so much for your time.

FERKENHOFF: Thank you.

KEILAR: And NEW DAY continues right now.

Who broke into Katie Hobbs Democratic campaign headquarters in Arizona, and what were they after?

I'm Brianna Keilar along with Alex Marquardt here this morning. John Berman is off. Hobbs, the Democratic nominee for governor, is currently Arizona's Secretary of State -- the state's top election official. And this break-in coming amid reports of voter intimidation in Arizona.