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New Clips Shares With CNN Expected To Be Featured In Next 1/6 Hearing; Operative Behind Plans To Seize Voting Machines Briefed Meadows; Ian Now A Category 2 Hurricane As It Gets Closer To Florida; Dow Enters Bear Market As Stocks Fall On Recession Fears; Soon: NASA Will Deliberately Slam Spacecraft Into An Asteroid. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 26, 2022 - 18:00   ET




ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a CNN exclusive. We've obtained new video of Trump ally Roger Stone that is expected to be featured in the January 6th committee's hearing this week. We're also learning new details about text messages of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that reveal his direct communications with a pro-Trump operative behind a plan to seize voting machines.

Also tonight, Ian is now a category 2 hurricane, quickly intensifying as it gets closer to Florida. Residents of the Tampa area are preparing for the worst as warnings about Ian grow more dire.

And NASA will deliberately slam a spacecraft into an asteroid soon in a historic test of Earth's defenses. We're getting the first live image this hour.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Mr. Wolf Blitzer is off tonight. I'm Alex Marquardt. You're in The Situation Room.

We begin this hour with all of CNN's exclusive new reporting on the January 6 investigation, including the new revelations about Mark Meadows' communications.

CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray has our report.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As Donald Trump and his allies made a final push to overturn the 2020 election --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: There is still plenty of time to certify the correct winner.

MURRAY: -- retired army colonel and election conspiracy promoter Phil Waldron --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The core of these voting systems are rife with vulnerabilities.

MURRAY: -- communicated directly with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, complaining that an Arizona judge dismissed a lawsuit calling for state officials to hand over election equipment. Waldron hunting for proof of baseless fraud claims told Meadows Arizona was our lead domino. We were counting on to start the cascade, and complained opponents were using delay tactics, according to text messages obtained by CNN.

Pathetic, Meadows responded. Waldron and his attorneys didn't respond to our request for comment, nor did an attorney for Meadows. The new details about efforts to access voting machines reaching the top tier of the White House come as federal and state prosecutors are scrutinizing efforts to upend the 2020 election and as the House committee investigating January 6 is gearing up for another committee hearing this week.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): My expectation is this will be the last investigative hearing.

MURRAY: The committee's top Republican vowing to keep fighting against Trump, even if it means leaving the GOP.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I'm going to make sure Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) make sure he's not the nominee. And if he is the nominee, I won't be a Republican.

MURRAY: All these questions are swirling about a nine-second call from the Trump White House on January 6th to one of the rioters.

FMR. REP. DENVER RIGGLEMAN (R-VA): You get a real aha moment.

MURRAY: After the call brief was revealed by former Committee Staffer Denver Riggleman, CNN reporting it went from a White House landline to a cell phone belonging to 26-year-old Anton Lunyk, a Trump supporter from Brooklyn, New York, who illegally entered the U.S. Capitol with friends and pleaded guilty to a related charge in April. Attorneys for Lunyk and his friends declined to comment and sources tell CNN the Trump supporter doesn't remember receiving the call and doesn't know anyone who worked in the Trump White House. The call's content and significance still a mystery, one that has committee members urging caution.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): One of the things that I think has given our committee credibility is we've been very careful about what we say, not to overstate matters.

MURRAY: The committee also awaiting an interview with Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): She had said publicly that she wanted to come in and talk to the committee, and she is doing so.

MURRAY: And sifting through a mountain of information from the Secret Service.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, the committee also subpoenaed Wisconsin House Speaker Robin Vos, they wanted his testimony today. He got a phone call from the former president in July asking him to decertify the election in Wisconsin. Vos, though, is suing to block that subpoena, and so, as of now, his appearance is on hold.

MARQUARDT: And, Sara, our colleague, Don Lemon, just sat down with two filmmakers. They were following Roger Stone around January 6. They've turned over some of this footage to the January 6 committee. Here is a clip of Stone before Biden was declared the winner. Let's take a listen.


ROGER STONE, TRUMP ALLY: Let's just hope we're celebrating. I suspect it will be -- I really do suspect it still will be up in the air. But when that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine tenths of the law. No, we won, (BLEEP), sorry, over, we won. You're wrong. (BLEEP) fuck you.


MARQUARDT: So, Sara, what does this say about what we could especially see during the next committee hearing on Wednesday?

MURRAY: Well, look, obviously, it's interesting they've shared some of these clips with the committee. We know from the committee members that they do want to put more of a spotlight on Roger Stone and his sort of lull in ginning up the crowd after January 6.


What's interesting is that we heard from other people around the former president the sort of same sentiment, that you should just claim victory no matter what. So, we, of course, are waiting to see how much of that actually becomes a focus in this upcoming hearing, but it is clearly a point the committee is interested in.

MARQUARDT: Yes, still a lots to figure out about what we're going to hear on Wednesday.

Sara, stay with us as we bring in our legal panel, our Analysts Elie Honig and Elliot Williams.

Elie, to you first, how revealing do you think that clip is, which we just obtained exclusively from that Roger Stone documentary? What does it tell us?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Alex, this is one of the big remaining unanswered questions from the January 6 committee. They've answered a heck of a lot of questions but one of the big ones that we don't know the answer to yet is was there a direct line of communication from the White House to some of the these extremist groups. Now, a lot of people have focused on Roger Stone because he has known connections to Oath Keepers, to Proud Boys, he was seen with members of those groups in the days leading up and on January 6. But we don't know yet whether there was any line of communication established through Roger Stone, and I think that will be one of the focuses of the committee on Wednesday.

MARQUARDT: Elliot, these text messages with the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, how concerning do you think this level of coordination is between Meadows and a man who is a known conspiracy theorist who is attempting to overturn the 2020 election.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Alex, it is concerning and it also sheds light on how forthcoming Mark Meadows was not in terms of his relationship and his communications with people who were engaged in the planning of January 6.

Now, if you remember, to rewind a little bit, he provided a number of his text messages to the January 6 committee and then stopped providing information thereafter. Now, we don't know precisely the reasons why or what exactly got turned over. What is clear here is that he's got a little bit of explaining to do, exactly what was the extent of his communication with these folks, what was he either directing them to do or not directing them to do.

Now, I guess the question is, is there criminal exposure for him? I think it is too early to tell based on the information that is available, particularly if one of the text messages he just says precisely. He's making a statement of agreement but not actually sort of entering into a criminal conspiracy with anybody who is engaged there. But more than anything else, it sheds light on the fact that he just wasn't entirely straight with the committee.

MARQUARDT: And we have learned more about this mysterious phone call between someone at the White House and a rioter on January 6. Elie, we've been able to identify the person who received that phone call. Committee members of the January 6 committee, they've downplayed this phone call. But what questions do you think it raises about the potential significance of that conversation?

HONIG: Well, Alex, there certainly is a lot that we don't know, specifically who was on the other end of that phone call at the White House, and it is nine seconds long. Was anything discussed? Was this just sort of an inadvertent dial and a hang up or was there some substantive discussion.

And, Alex, what this really highlights to me is the fact that the committee's work is just about done now. They have got one more hearing left, they have a few more months left. Eventually, the Justice Department is going to be the only entity left to answer these questions.

And this is the kind of question that prosecutors, that DOJ is uniquely positioned to answer. They have grand jury subpoenas, they can talk to these people, they can talk to the individual who we know is on the other the end of that. He has now pled guilty so they can put him in a grand jury, he won't have any remaining Fifth Amendment right. And so this is one of many issues that I think DOJ now has a responsibility to pick up on once the committee concludes.

MARQUARDT: And, Sara, back to what we could learn on Wednesday in this -- what is potentially this final investigative hearing by the January 6 select committee, how do you think that they plan to connect all these dots, all these various strands of this investigation?

MURRAY: Well, look, I mean, I think that one of the goals that the committee is really to bring this back to the former president, bring this back to the notion that this wasn't something that sort of happened spontaneously but that there were a lot of former president's allies who sort of had an idea of this in their head before January 6, that there was a lot of communication around the former president's inner circle.

I think folks are right, that the hardest thing is tying some of this stuff directly to the former president. Because, obviously, they didn't get testimony from a number of folks that they really wanted to hear from who were in direct communication. We know Donald Trump is not a person who uses text messages, who uses emails. And so that has always been not just for this committee but also for criminal investigators, a big hurdle when it comes to Donald Trump.

But this is an opportunity for the committee to sort of tie their story together, tie their narrative together and to put the former president at the center of it.

MARQUARDT: Yes. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren telling that there is no expectation now that they will get the former president or former vice president in front of the committee.

Elliot, I want to ask you about criminal referrals.


That is something that the committee still hasn't decided whether they're going to do. As this investigation wraps up, how are they going to approach whether to make criminal referrals?

WILLIAMS: They'll decide on whether to make a criminal referral, Alex, but I can't say enough. It is simply does not matter at the end of the day. The Justice Department, number one, does not have to act on a criminal referral they receive. Number two, they can proceed and open an investigation and prosecute someone even without a criminal referral. All criminal referral is is a statement from Congress that they believe a crime was committed. You or I as citizens of America can write a letter to Congress and make a criminal referral.

Now, look, Congress is an investigative body, they have issued subpoenas, they've done great work on behalf of the American people, but this question of a criminal referral is a little bit of a distraction, I think, because of the fact that the ultimately decision is with the Justice Department. They will decide. And if they want to move with prosecutions, they will. And if they don't, they won't. MARQUARDT: In this final hearing, Sara, we understand is, it is going to take place in the middle of the day. When I spoke to Congresswoman Lofgren about it, she acknowledged that one of the reasons is that they would like to reach Fox News viewers, because that channel chooses often to show the hearings during the day as opposed to in prime time. How important is it for the committee to break through to a bigger segment of the American people?

MURRAY: Well, I think it is important to the committee. What they are trying to do is sort of write a history of what happened on January 6, knowing a lot more than what we knew at the time when we were kind of all glued to our screens watching this unfold. And part of that means being able to speak to people who maybe just saw glimpses of it that day and then maybe has sort of been, you know, taught by Fox that it wasn't that big of a deal. And I think they do want to speak to that audience to sort of drive the point home that it was.

MARQUARDT: Well, we'll be watching closely to that hearing, 1:00 P.M. on Wednesday. Sara Murray, Elie Honig, Elliot Williams, thank you all very much.

MARQUARDT: And just ahead, a key member of the House Intelligence Committee reacts to CNN's exclusive reporting on the rioter called by the White House on January 6. Congressman Jim Himes is standing by.

And we'll go live to Tampa, Florida, as strengthening Hurricicane Ian moves closer to that state. The National Hurricane Center is warning of a near worst case scenario when the storm hits. Stay with us.



MARQUARDT: We are digging deeper into the mysterious nine-second phone call from the White House to a rioter on January 6, sources revealing to CNN that the rioter's identity.

Let's discuss the significance of that call and the questions it raises with Congressman Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thank you so much for being with me this evening.

I want to start with that phone call. How critical, in your mind, is it for investigators to determine why a White House phone connected with a rioter during that chaos on January 6?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Well, it is important obviously. And it may be nothing, by the way. I mean, again, we've been talking about this phone call for quite a period of time now. It may be nothing. But the fact that there was that phone call means that we need to find out why.

And there is a variety of ways to do that, right? The White House could probably figure it out. They keep records of who is associated with what White House number and, of course, if the individual is known and if the individual is in trouble, this may be something that they would want to talk to law enforcement about in order to perhaps reduce the intensity of the trouble that they're in.

MARQUARDT: And CNN has also learned that the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, he was texting with a key figure, a conspiracy theorist who was working to overturn the election by trying to seize voting machines. So, what to extent do you believe that the White House was directing that effort?

HIMES: Well, you know, I think, for history's sake, the fine distinction between directing that effort and the fact that they were tolerating, maybe even encouraging effort is a pretty fine distinction, right? It is shocking enough that any White House, any defeated president would do anything other than say, shut it down, stop it for the good of the country. We're going to do what we've always done for 250 years. We are going to do a peaceful transition of power.

So, I am skeptical that there was a massive conspiracy that was closely and in a very detailed way directed by Donald Trump. I mean, again, there is a keystone cops quality to what they do. But it was certainly encouraged and we know that. All of these wild theories, from John Eastman to Rudy Giuliani, to Sidney Powell, there was just constant encouragement, including encouragement of the attack on the Capitol, which the Department of Justice will parse that to figure out whether laws were broken. But people really need to let that sink in, in terms of what it means for our politics.

MARQUARDT: And among those players is also Roger Stone. We have now this new footage that CNN got exclusively from documentary filmmakers who were following Stone around through the 2020 election and that coup attempt. And we hear Stone in one clip before the election results came in even saying that, quote, the key thing to do here is to claim victory. We won, he says. So, what does that tell about how this plot evolved over time?

HIMES: Well, it is not one bit surprising, right? I mean, Roger Stone, lives for this sort of thing and Roger Stone would probably be in jail today had President Trump not pardoned him for his role and all sorts of other illegal shenanigans.

So, it is not one bit surprising coming from Roger Stone. It is really surprising and shocking coming from the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, an individual I knew pretty well when he was in the Congress. It is pretty shocking coming and, you know, presumably the January 6 committee will hear about this, but from the wife of a Supreme Court justice, Virginia Thomas.


And it is, of course, most shocking of all at all, although given how well we know Donald Trump, perhaps not so shocking, that this was all being encouraged by him and his family and his closest advisers. That is what, in some ways, is the most just awful part of all of this.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, we know that you will be watching that hearing on Wednesday as closely as we will. Congressman Jim Himes, thank you so much for your time tonight. HIMES: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Coming up, Hurricane Ian has intensified to a category 2 storm, as it barrels towards the Florida Coast. Mandatory evacuations now underway.

And moments from now, NASA is rooting for a space collision. Why it thinks that this could be key to protecting our small planet in the future. You're in The Situation Room.



MARQUARDT: Florida is bracing for a direction hit from Hurricane Ian, which has just strengthened to a category 2 storm with winds up to 100 miles per hour. Storm officials now warning that it could be, quote, something that we have not seen in our lifetime.

CNN's Ryan Young reports now from Tampa, which is right in the path of that hurricane.


MAYOR KEN WELCH, ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA: This could be the storm that we've hoped would never come to our shores.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Up and down the West Coast of Florida tonight, hurricane preparations underway. It has been a century since the Tampa area of South Florida has been directly hit by a hurricane, and now Hurricane Ian could change history.

BARRY BURTON, PINELLAS COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR: Everyone and I mean everyone in Pinellas County will witness some degree of impact from the storm.

YOUNG: Nearly 170,000 people have already been ordered to evacuate in the Tampa area alone and schools and universities announcing closures in preparation for the storm and set up as emergency shelters.

MAYOR JANE CASTOR, TAMPA, FLORIDA: We are looking at the possibility of having 10 to 15 foot storm surge. And, clearly, that would be very devastating for our community.

YOUNG: Residents here taking this seriously.

MIKE VANTEEFFELEN, ST. PETERSBURG RESIDENT: Yes, I wasn't worried about it yesterday but today you start making your preparations and doing what you have got to do, right, tie everything down, secure your cars, make sure you have got enough food and water at the house and that is all you could do.

ARTHUR GARCIA, FLORIDA RESIDENT: I think we're taking it pretty seriously. Up until like yesterday, we were thinking it was going to hit Panama City or something like that, but right now, I think it is real. YOUNG: The Tampa area of Florida more vulnerable than other parts of Florida.

GARY MITCHUM, ASSOCIATE DEAN, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA COLLEGE OF MARINE SCIENCE: The area around Tampa Bay, there are just a lot of low-lying areas compounded with a lot of development. So, we have a large population that has built up since the last hurricane and it is built up in low-lying areas and so we have a lot of exposure, a lot of risk.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The Florida National Guard has activated 5,000 Florida Guardsmen as well 2,000 additional Guardsmen from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina.

YOUNG: Every official here with dire warnings to prepare for the very worst.

CASTOR: This is going to be a storm like we have not seen in the past.


YOUNG (on camera): And that is the real concern. I can tell you, people are really bagging up sand as much as possible right now to get ready, especially in the low-lying areas. They want to make they can protect their homes and around the area. At this facility, you show up after sitting for hours waiting to bag your own bags and to take them home. At one location, they had already passed out 10,000 bags as of 1:00.

And, Alex, I want to show you something. As we walk this direction to show you this line and how long it is, look that direction. This wraps all the way around this park almost a mile long in terms of people waiting at this one location just to get up to the front to be able to bag their own sand and take it home. They're trying anything they can to protect their goods. Also at the grocery stores, you can see the same thing, water is starting to go out because people desperately want water to get ready for the storm. Alex?

MARQUARDT: Yes. As this storm gets closer, people really hearing this message and heeding these warnings. Ryan Young in Tampa, thank you very much, sir.

All right, let's get a closer look now at exactly who is in the path of this Hurricane Ian. CNN Meteorologist Tom Sater is in the Weather Center, back with us. Tom, how hard could this hit Florida?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it is going to scrape the entire coastline. And so there is a surge problem for the entire coast. Now, the closer you get to Tampa, the worst it is going to be because this is going to put on the brakes, the last thing we want to see. I mean, we were thinking earlier it could crawl at five miles per hour, now we're thinking three or four.

We're about 140 miles Western Pacific, Cuba. Havana most likely will have some flooding and lose power. The watch that was in effect, the hurricane watch from the Tampa area is now upgraded to a warning. So, that tells us that not only is the storm going stronger but the models are getting in better agreement of where this path will be, therefore, the National Hurricane Center says, yes, it may park itself right off the bay, and that's the worst case scenario. Spaghetti plots still show that there are some outliers. Hey, listen, if this center moves and wobbles in a new direction, that's going to change the path. The two main models, the American and European, have been shifting, American shifting to the east, European back a little bit more to the west. So, now look at them. We're going to put them both on top of each other. This is American in red, European in blue.

They are identical. And that is what you want to see if you're forecasting to get a better idea, get some consensus. But this is what you do not want, a category 4 parking right off the most vulnerable spot in all of Florida with all of the inlets, the waterways, coastal regions and, of course, the hundreds and hundreds of coastline.

So, it doesn't lose any strength over Western Cuba. Category 4, but notice, it's a category 1. Pay no attention to that. Because it is a category 4, it keeps the surge and it carries it as a category 4 surge right into the bay area.


Now, listen, these models cannot be in more of agreement, but when it puts on the brakes here, again, this will be like Wednesday and starting midday, for 36 to 48 hours, it is going to kick heavy amounts of surge into every inlet and then drop 10 to 20 inches on top. That water has nowhere to go but flood. So, the surge warnings are in effect. We're at least looking from Cedar Key down south of Inglewood, a five to eight-foot surge, and that is up to ten, maybe more in the bay. That water can't leave, Alex, and then you have got 10 to 20 inches on top. This could be pretty bad. It could be their Super Storm Sandy.

MARQUARDT: Really remarkable to see those two models right on top of each other. Tom Sater in the CNN Weather Center, thank you very much.

And joining me now to discuss is Kevin Guthrie. He is the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Kevin, thank you so much for joining me. I know how busy you are right now.

I want to ask you about this storm. It is now a category 2 hurricane, barreling right for Florida. You heard Tom Sater there saying that it really could impact so much of the state. What are, in this moment, your main concerns?

KEVIN GUTHRIE, DIRECTOR, FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: So, main concerns right now are making sure that people first heed the evacuation warning. The evacuation warning started going out today and you're probably going to -- I know for a fact we're going to see more tomorrow from some counties that are north of the bay, some counties that are a little bit inland and another handful of counties that are south of the bay. So, the evacuation tomorrow, people are going to start getting on the road, we're going to start having traffic issues, want to make sure that people maybe go to the Florida Department of Transportation website tonight and look at the emergency shoulder use section of the Florida Department of Transportation. We will most likely turn on emergency shoulder use. What that means, we don't do counter-flow here in Florida, we do emergency shoulder, use where it will be authorized to actually operate your vehicle in the emergency lanes at slower speeds but we open that three-lane up to a five-lane road, four-lane up to a six-lane road and so on.

So, first of all, evacuations. The second we're worried about is complacency. I'm worried about people being complacent and getting tired of trying to get on the road or sitting in traffic, they turn around and go back home and they just -- or they don't get on the road at all, they just sit in their homes or manufactured homes or R.V.s. And I was down there in Pinellas today with the governor and hundreds and hundreds of travel trailers that are now fixed homes, lots of old mobile homes, the average age there is quite old. So, we're -- I'm just really, really concerned about complacency in the evacuation at this point.

MARQUARDT: And, Kevin, the National Guard has been activated, 7,000 National Guard troops, we understand. Does your state, do you have the support that you need to face this storm?

GUTHRIE: Yes, absolutely. We're getting all of the support that we need. I've had multiple emergency managers from across the country, friends of mine and colleagues that have certainly said, hey, we're here for you, from the Nevada to Montana, to the northeast all the way down to Louisiana, Arizona and so on. All of them more than happy to come and assist if we need their assistance. So, we got more than enough mutual aid support through the states.

We also have a lot of EMAC support through the National Guard. That's a mutual aid on the National Guard bureaus from state to state. So, lots of -- we're going to be bringing in a lot of rotary wing equipment, like Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters to help out with search and rescue right after, as well as doing sling-loads of water into areas that we just can't get into it. We're going to have a lot of boats. So, those are all sort -- those are all things that we're getting plenty of federal support, DOD support, we're definitely getting the support that we need from the federal government.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, I'll let you get back to work. Kevin Guthrie, thank you so much, wishing you and your team the best of the luck in the coming days.

GUTHRIE: Alex, thank you again for having us.

MARQUARDT: Of course.

Just ahead, the spreading turmoil in Russia, as thousands attempt to flee Vladimir Putin's military draft and the war in Ukraine.

And we're getting the first live images from a historic space mission, NASA about to deliberately smash a spacecraft into an asteroid.

We'll be right back.


[18:35:00] MARQUARDT: In Russia tonight, we are seeing new significant backlash against Vladimir Putin's military draft as his war strategy in Ukraine appears to grow more desperate.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance is following this for us. Matthew, what is the latest on what really has become a mass exodus out of Russia?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the exodus is quite extraordinary. We've seen these incredible satellite images on the border between Russia and Georgia, to the south of the country, where you can see that the roads absolutely gridlocked with traffic stretching back more than ten miles towards the border.

We're seeing reports as well that the Russian military are moving into the area to set up roadblocks in an attempt to try and stop people from flooding out of the country to essentially escape the mobilization. There are families in these crowds of cars as well, but it is mainly young men, men who are fleeing the possibility of being called up to fight in Ukraine as part of the Russian Armed Forces.

Similar scenes elsewhere in the country, as well to the west towards Finland, there has been a report, according to Finnish border agents, that the number of Russians coming out has doubled in just a week.


And so, yes, this is a physical sign of how much opposition there is, how much fear there is in Russia about this call up.

Elsewhere we're seeing protesters as well, particularly in the south of the country. Dagestan, which is mainly a Muslim republic, full of ethnic minorities to the south are seeing some particularly extraordinary scenes. Remember, protesting in Russia is against the law. You can go to prison for going against in the street what the authorities want. We're seeing these extraordinary acts of resistance with hundreds of thousands of people, hundreds and thousands of people getting into the streets and physically blocking roads to prevent buses from taking away men to the military so they can do military service in Ukraine. It is a real sign of just how much, as I say, opposition there is to this mobilization it is being called by the Kremlin.

MARQUARDT: Yes, a real sign of the anger and the fear there in Russia. Matthew Chance in London, thank you very much.

Joining me now is the State Department spokesman, Ned Price. Ned, thank you so much for being with us this evening. I want to talk about nuclear weapons and the possibility of Russia using them. The White House says that they have spelled out the catastrophic consequences that Russia would face if it chooses to use nuclear weapons. So, to be clear, has the administration told Russia specifically what that response could look like?

NED PRICE, SPOKESPERSON, STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, Alex, we've been very clear both in public and in private about the implications for any use of nuclear weapons by the Russia Federation. We've made clear that the consequences would be significant. They'd be extraordinary. We've used the word, catastrophic. The key point is that consequences would be real and they would be extraordinary, again, for any use on the part of the Russian Federation.

It has been our charge in New York last week with the rest of the world to spell that out very clearly for not only the international public but also for the Russians, and we've done so in private. Of course, we're not going to detail exactly what that response would look like but we've left the Russians with not a scintilla of doubt that we mean what we say when we say the response would be real and it would be extraordinary.

MARQUARDT: Would it be military? Would it be cyber? Would it be more economic?

PRICE: Again, Alex, you're just not going to get me to draw out any further what this response would look like. But we want to leave no doubt, and we have left no doubt, with Russians that it would be quite severe.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, let's talk about this backlash to the mobilization in Russia. It has been really remarkable to see these scenes. We even saw a shooting attack in an enlistment center. You can see some of that video right there. So, what do you think, Ned, this says about the state of Russia's fight, its military and then Putin's grip on power?

PRICE: Well, it is extraordinary what we're seeing, Alex. This is something that, in fact, we've seen during the course of President Putin's war against Ukraine. You may recall if the first hours when President Putin sent his troops across the border on February 24th. We saw mass protests in dozens of Russian cities, thousands of Russians actually detained, arrested and some are serving prison time for exercising what is a universal right, which should be a universal right, the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

We're now seeing a replay of that. Within hours of President Putin announcing this partial mobilization of some 300,000 additional Russians, Russians may not be able to vote to express their will genuinely at the ballot box but they have been voting with their feet. They have bought up all of the air airfare to the very few places Russians can travel. From inside Russia, we're seeing long lines at -- over land border crossings. Russians are very clearly indicating with their feet that they are not supportive of what President Putin is doing to them and they're not going to be the next Russian sentenced to fight and potentially to die in Ukraine. MARQUARDT: Ned, before I let you go, I want to talk about Iran, and we've seen really a deadly crackdown on protesters after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. She was rested and then died at the hands of the morality police. We've seen thousands of young people risking their lives really just asking for basic things, simple freedoms. We've also heard a lot of criticism that the administration is not doing enough. Will the administration step up, as some are calling for, and more vocally support this movement?

PRICES: Well, a couple of points, Alex. First, Mahsa Amini should be alive today. The only reason she is not is because of the brutal repression that this regime has exercised in this case, that is also indicative of the broader repression that we've seen from this regime over the course of decades. We have been clear and consistent that we stand with the Iranian people, just like their Russian brothers and sisters are doing. All they are doing is doing is peacefully asking for their universal right to be respected, something that the Iranian regime has consistently denied to them

But we've done more than offer our firm rhetorical support. Last week, we issued sanctions against this so-called morality police.


We issued sanctions against the entity, along with seven other individuals who are responsible for oppression and violence of their own citizens.

We took an additional step on Thursday. We issued a general license that allowed U.S. companies to make operational inside of Iran various pieces of software, some pieces of hardware that will allow the Iranian people to communicate freely with one another and with the outside world.

It is important that the world sees what is happening in Iran, we want to give the Iranian people the tools to do just that.

MARQUARDT: Right, internet access, that's certainly something that they're asking for.

The State Department's Ned Price, thank you so much for your time this evening.

PRICE: Thanks, Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Coming up, gas prices are up again. Stock prices are down again. And Americans recession fears are entering a new phase.

We'll be right back.



MARQUARDT: Recession fears are weighing even more heavily on the economy tonight, another selloff on the Wall Street has pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average into a bear market. Americans are also feeling some renewed pain at the pump.

CNN's Brian Todd has our report.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this gas station outside Washington, motorists are starting to feel that familiar anxiety, after steady drops for more than three straight months, prices at the pump are starting to tick up again.

JANEEN GREEN, MOTORIST IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA: It is frustrating with the gas price increasing, after you -- I got used to gas prices being a little bit lower and to see that it's going up and this isn't a trend.

PETER SCHERER, MOTORIST IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA: I'm not delighted, actually, but I did not expect that they would continue down (ph).

TODD: According to AAA, gas prices in the U.S. have risen about a nickel per gallon for regular over the past week.

But it's not just motorists taking a hit, seemingly, no ones being spared from economic pain tonight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at a two-year low, and entered a bear market today. Investors seemingly worried about more interest rate hikes from the Fed, which don't really spare anyone, from home buyers, to car buyers, to people who holed even a small amount of credit card debt.

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Credit card crates are going up. If you want to buy a car, or a home, it's now a lot more expensive. It's prohibited for many potential first time home buyers.

TODD: The feds interest rate increases are even inflicting pain overseas, pumping up the value of the dollar at the cost of other currencies. The British pound crashed into a record low against the U.S. dollar today, but some analysts say, a recession is not inevitable.

ZANDI: Broadly speaking, we are in a pretty good shape. Everyone has a job. Employment is very low. We saved a lot of money during the pandemic, with sheltering in place, because of government support.

TODD: But Mark Zandi and other experts acknowledge, not every American experience is the ups and downs of the economy in the same way.

MICHELLE SINGLETARY, PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: This is really a tough night for people living on the edge. This is a time to think out of the box. It may not be a time for you to live on your own. It may not be the time for you to buy that new house that you've been planning for. It may not be the time to hold on to that jalopy that you had fix it up, until things stabilize in the economy.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD (on camera): One segment of the U.S. population that is a significant driver of the economy, America's seniors. They're having a tough time as well, and that's not being talked about as much. Many senior citizens in the United States are on fixed incomes, and analysts say, they are really struggling right now with rising interest rates, as well as the climbing prices of gas, food and, utilities -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Brian Todd, thank you so much for that report.

We will have more news, just ahead, including unexpected NASA collision in just minutes.

We'll be right back.



MARQUARDT: You are looking at live pictures from the DART spacecraft, courtesy of NASA. And in just a few minutes, you can see, it will be crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid.

I want to bring back CNN space and defense correspondent, Kristin Fisher. As well as CNN aerospace analyst, Miles O'Brien.

Kristin, walk us through how this collision is going to happen?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what you are seeing are live images from a camera that is mounted on the DART spacecraft. And that larger point of light in the middle of your screen, that is the asteroid, Didymos. That is what the DART spacecraft has been targeting for the last ten months that it's been flying in space.

The fainter light is actually its target. That is a smaller asteroid, Didymos's moonlit called Dimorphos. So, that small fainter point of light is what the dart spacecraft is targeting.

It is going to hopefully hit it, at about 7:14 pm Eastern Time, just a little over 15 minutes from now.

And the reason the images there are still so small, Alex, it's because the spacecraft is traveling at four miles per second, not per hour, just per second. So, pretty soon, we're going to see this asteroid fill the entire screen.

And you know, Alex, for billions of years, all of the inhabitants on planet earth have really just had to take it, when it comes to asteroids. They had no defense. Tonight, for the very first time, earthlings are going to try and strike back.

MARQUARDT: That small dot is getting bigger.

Miles, what are you going to be looking for? MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AEROSPACE ANALYST: I'm enjoying the right, just watching it get closer, Alex. But it's really interesting to understand what is going to happen after it works. We know that this spacecraft will perturb the orbit, the question is how much. And what is slightly counterintuitive is, that scientists will be looking at the plume that is created by the impact. It could actually get them a little more bang for their bucket. It could create more momentum.

All of this will help, if someday, God forbid, a rocket can take out a city or even worse, heads our way.

MARQUARDT: And, Miles, how some will we know if this test is successful?

O'BRIEN: Well, we certainly not right away, if it crashes, and it will be very straightforward, we'll be watching it live. We hope you'll all be joining in. This is must-see TV. Ask any dinosaur about that one.

But it will take at least 12 hours, and actually more for telescopes on the ground to measure the new orbit of this little known, Dimorphos. As it passes in front of the larger object, didymos, it will dim ever so slightly. The telescopes can pick that up, hit a stopwatch, and see how much faster that orbit is, and see how effective DART was.

MARQUARDT: Kristin, we only have a few seconds, but if this works, what are the chances we're actually going to need to use this in a real world scenario?

FISHER: Well, as of now, there are no known asteroids within the century that are headed for Earth. But you know, it could be one of those potential extinction level events. But it has happened, where an asteroid has come at the last minute. They found out about it in the last minute. So that's what they're worried about, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Well, I know that I'm going to be singing the "Armageddon" soundtrack for the rest of the evening.

Kristin Fisher, Miles O'Brien, thank you very much. Very exciting.

I'm Alex Marquardt in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.