Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Russia Bombards Kyiv With New Heavy Airstrikes; President Biden Pledges Support Towards Ukraine After Heavy Attacks From Russia; New E-mails Debunk Trump Claims On GSA; Sens. Rick Scott, Tom Cotton To Campaign For Walker In GA Tomorrow; Bernie Sanders: "Alarmed" Dems Closing Argument Is Abortion; NYC Mayor Declares State Of Emergency Over Inflex Of Migrants; Fort Myers Beach Still Without Power And Water; Kim Jong-un Re-emerges, Ramps Up Aggression With Missile Tests; N. Korea: Drills Show Nuclear Forces Ready To "Wipe Out" Targets. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 10, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The final round is tomorrow. Feel free to cast your vote at But don't cheat because they'll come after you.

Alright, a big interview is on deck tomorrow. Jake Tapper will speak exclusively with President Biden, that's in his new time slot, leading up to the midterm elections, 9:00 eastern on CNN. Our coverage continues with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, flames and destruction in the Ukrainian capital after Russia unleashes its heaviest air strikes since the invasion. I'll talk with a key adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as officials in Kyiv accuse Vladimir Putin of a desperate new attempt to annihilate their country.

Also tonight, new images and e-mails undercut former President Trump's attempts to blame the federal government for the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.

And a state of emergency is now in effect in New York City as officials struggle there to house thousands of migrants bussed by Republicans to the northeast from the southern border.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get straight to Ukraine right now. Reeling from Russia's heaviest air strikes since its totally unprovoked invasion, and tonight facing a new threat from Vladimir Putin of more attacks. Here's CNN's international security editor, Nick Paton Walsh.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): This was the day the war came back to all of Ukraine. The capital Kyiv, like many cities for months, edging towards normal, hit by multiple missile strikes. Carnage at rush hour, central streets hit. The target unclear. The aim, utter horror.

Over a hundred missiles and drones. The civilian death toll rising along with global fury that there was nothing the Kremlin would not hit. Even this Kyiv walkway to save face from endless losses and the weekend blast that hit another bridge between Russia and Crimea.

For a few hours this morning, almost all of Ukraine's cities seemed under attack. The bus next to this crater caught by one of two missiles, critically injuring five.

(On camera): Well, you can see the utter ferocity of the explosion here by the hole, one of the two rockets made. But it's also a curious question as to why this was indeed the target. It seems like this telecom facility was unused at the time it was struck. But also, too, a callous disregard for human life being shown. All these apartment blocks just within the blast radius.

(Voice-over): This woman said she ran her two children back into the kitchen in the minutes between the two missiles. Homes here gone and winter ahead, made worse by the power cuts the missiles caused, however fast the recovery is.

UNKNOWN: It is terrible. It is a crime against civilians.

WALSH (voice-over): Anger here, some fear, but also resilience, echoed by Ukraine's president.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translation): There may be temporary blackouts, he said, but our confidence, the confidence in our victory will never have a blackout. Why these particular strikes, the enemy wants us to get scared, wants us to run. We can only run forward and demonstrate that at the battlefield.

Russia's brutality was always a known quantity, but Ukraine's stubborn resistance still surprises. This day, sharing a video of a soldier shooting down a missile with a shoulder-launched rocket. A David who wants more advanced arms to defend itself from a weakened goliath. A call with this rare and chilling moment of terror across the country will only amplify.


(On camera): Now, I think we are likely slowly over the hours ahead going to hear more of exactly what damage these strikes caused, but the death toll as it stands are about 11. That may rise, too. Does this fundamentally mark a change in Russia's battlefield tactics? Well, I think many Ukrainians feel that their resilience will continue, that this -- if this was the worst Russia could do, they will persist.

And it doesn't change remotely what's happening on the front lines at all. And there are some saying this is more about Russia's domestic market.

[17:04:58] Doing this to silence critics in the Russian elite who are wondering if Putin has any military might left to give to this particular war after a series of weeks and weeks of appalling losses on the front lines, retreats and a failed partial mobilization. So, essentially, I think this has been a strong message to those in Moscow wondering if the Kremlin has a plan. I don't think it's really going to change Ukraine's plan going forward. Wolf?

BLITZER: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in Dnipro in Ukraine. Stay safe over there, Nick. We'll be in touch.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us right now, CNN White House correspondent MJ Lee, and CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson. MJ, first of all, I understand that President Zelenskyy and Biden just spoke. What are you hearing from the White House tonight?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Of course, the White House has been monitoring the situation in Ukraine very closely over the last 24 hours and we did just learn in the last hour or so that President Biden did, in fact, again speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. They have, of course, had so many phone calls over the last year or so as this war has progressed.

And what is very notable from both the readouts from both sides of the phone call, note the need and importance of more air defense systems. For example, if you look at the White House readout, it says that President Biden pledged to continue providing Ukraine with more advanced air defense systems, whereas President Zelenskyy tweeted in the last hour or so that he emphasized that air defense is currently the number one priority in our defense cooperation.

So, we'll see, Wolf, if there are any announcements in the coming days about what the U.S. is willing to provide. I also just wanted to read a part of the statement that we saw from President Biden on the attacks over the last 24 hours, because the statement really sort of captures in the big picture how the U.S. has been responding to these new attacks from Russia.

The statement said, in part, that "These attacks killed and injured civilians and destroyed targets with no military purpose. They once again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr. Putin's illegal war on the Ukrainian people."

It also goes on to say that, "these attacks only further reinforce our commitment to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes." Wolf, obviously this is a war that has been going on since February, as you know very well. The U.S. has already committed billions of dollars to help Ukraine, so we're going to see whether the last 24 hours will any way change the U.S. calculus and what kind of security assistance it is going to continue providing Ukraine. Wolf?

BLITZER: MJ, stand by. Nic, Putin is warning of yet more attacks as he comes under mounting pressure at home. But he has been attacking innocent Ukrainian civilian targets since the beginning of this war, right? NIC PROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, but what's

happened here and what makes the day different, and I think this gets to what President Macron of France has said, today marks a profound change. Putin has always talked about escalation if Crimea that he counts as part of Russia would be touched, and that bridge linking Crimea to Russia over the weekend was hit and he took a lot more heat at home from pundits on the TV, pro-Russian, normally very supportive of him, saying Russia really has to double down, get more aggressive. We even heard from the former president, Dmitry Medvedev, today saying that the whole Ukrainian government should be deconstructed.

Putin has answered those critics at home with these 84 cruise missiles, 24 drones, that's what the Ukrainians say were fired at them. But it doesn't change anything on the battlefield. Those losses that he's making, the terrain that he's losing, miles, hundreds of miles from some of these strikes.

These strikes signal that he's going to go after the infrastructure, important infrastructure, electricity, gas supplies, that will keep Ukrainians warm during the winter. This is his signal. And what he has said is, if there's more strikes, his -- Russia's response will be harsh.

BLITZER: Yeah, and we have a clip -- we have a clip from Putin. I want to play it right now, Nic. Let's all listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translation): In terms of the further act of terrorism on the territory of Russia, the Russian reply will be harsh and will be in corresponding to the level of threat to the Russian federation, have no doubt about it.


BLITZER: Nic, and it's interesting, in the White House statement that was just released and MJ was talking about it, the White House also says the Russians right now are still engaged in what the White House calls war crimes and atrocities, very, very strong words, indeed. How are the Russians, likely Putin specifically, to respond to that?

ROBERTSON: Everything we're getting from Putin at the moment is doubling down. He's in a corner. He's -- the war is not going well, not playing well for him at home. That's why we're seeing this big attack now. But his calculations of how Russians perceive it, how Ukrainians perceive it and how the international community perceive it are going to let him down.


The Ukrainians, their fighters, are not giving an inch of ground. We're not likely to see the Ukrainian civilians cave into these kinds of actions, and the international community is only getting more united, more resolve. G7 leaders will meet tomorrow, will discuss tomorrow. President Zelenskyy will talk with them. BLITZER: Nic Robertson, MJ Lee, guys, thank you very, very much.

Joining us now, the chief diplomatic adviser to the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, Ihor Zhovkva. Mr. Zhovkva, thank you so much for joining us on a hectic, hectic, bitter night. How devastating is it to see these Russian strikes on targets like a busy intersection in Kyiv and a playground?

IHOR ZHOVKVA, CHIEF DIPLOMATIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY: Well, you know, you never get surprised. You're never tired of getting these worst kinds of surprises from Russia. (Inaudible), I mean, in the morning, immediately during rush hours when people were traveling to their offices, students were traveling to their universities and children were going to school, I mean, they hit the center, the downtown of Kyiv.

They hit 100 small and large Ukrainian cities, 12 regions, hitting civilian infrastructure, hitting Ministry of Education for instance in Kyiv or Kyiv national university, or hitting the children's' playgrounds in the middle of Kyiv. Hitting other residential areas and other cities and civilian infrastructure, killing civilians.

Twelve civilians as of now are being reported as dead and 87 are wounded or injured. So, this is the manner in which Putin is waging warfare against the civilian population in Ukraine.

BLITZER: As you know, Mr. Zhovkva, Putin is lashing out after Saturday's attack on that key bridge connecting Russia to occupied Crimea, but some traffic is already starting up once again on that bridge. How much will that attack degrade Russia's actual military capabilities in the south?

ZHOVKVA: Well, I don't know exactly. I mean, probably much dependent on -- much supply dependent on these transportation routes along this bridge because they occupy Crimea, provided (inaudible) supply chains for the occupied regions for the armed forces of Russia staged in (inaudible) southern Ukraine, for instance.

So, most likely it will damage their chains of supply. But surely, this is important because, you know, Ukrainian armed forces are continuing to wage a war -- a major counteroffensive, not only in the eastern regions like the Kharkiv region, but also in Zaporizhzhia and so this is very important to us.

BLITZER: In his phone call today with President Zelenskyy, the White House says President Biden vowed to support Ukraine with advanced air defense systems. Do you have any more details, Mr. Zhovkva, on what they discussed and when that help will actually be coming?

ZHOVKVA: That's what we really need, but really this is, you know, objective number one now for Ukraine. Because, imagine, if we had, as of now, the sophisticated new -- brand new air defense systems, we have been intercepting not only half of the rockets, because out of 84 missiles, 43 were intercepted and downed by Ukrainian air defense system, as well as out of 24 drones 13 went down.

So, imagine if we had more than equipment, we'd probably could raise the number of those drones and missiles downed and not kill innocent civilians or wound and injure Ukrainians. So, yes, my president urged on these air defense systems, as well as he urged on other broad range of supplies or weapon supplies the U.S. has given assistance to us.

So, obviously, we discussed this in detail. As well as the discussion was about tomorrow's G7 meeting, online summit called upon the request of my president. Earlier today he spoke to Chancellor Scholz representing on G7 and chancellor agreed to have this G7 extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation after these terrorist attacks of Russia alongside Ukraine.

And topic number three was about the day after tomorrow's ruled in of resolution in the U.N. General Assembly about the Russians' attempt at annexation over parts of Ukraine and Russian's attack on the territory of sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine.

BLITZER: Ihor Zhovkva, thank you so much for joining us. Ihor Zhovkva is the chief diplomatic adviser to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. We appreciate it very, very much. Stay safe over there in Kyiv.

Coming up, new e-mails undercut former President Trump's efforts to blame a government agency for all the classified documents that were found at his Florida home.

Plus, a former key Trump aide now cooperating in the Georgia election probe. We have new details. That's all coming up next.



BLITZER: Tonight, newly revealed emails are undercutting the attempts by former President Trump and his allies to blame a government agency for sending the classified documents to Mar-a-Lago that were discovered in the FBI search of Trump's Florida home. Our national correspondent, Kristen Holmes is working the story for us. Kristen, I understand there are now pictures of the boxes all packed up and ready to be moved.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. There are, indeed, pictures. So, the claim from Trump and his allies had been that the former president couldn't possibly be held responsible for anything that was retrieved from these boxes by the FBI down at Mar-a-Lago because the GSA, a small government agency that helps with the transition, had actually packed all those boxes themselves and sent them down to Florida. The president and no one around him knew anything about it.

But now the GSA has released hundreds of pages of e-mails, correspondence, documents and pictures that tell a little bit of a different story. GSA did move those boxes down to Florida, but take a look at these pictures. You can see them here. They are shrink- wrapped, they are sealed up. They are clearly not accessible in any way.

[17:20:01] This is what the GSA arrived to, these pictures, these pallets here, all crated together, all enclosed, when they come to move these boxes and naturally know about these pictures because Trump aides sent them to the GSA so that they would know what was going where, what was going to different areas of Florida. So, this clearly disputes this claim.

Now, there are -- two other things that have been pretty interesting that we saw in these documents. One being the timeline. All of these e-mails have dates on them and it shows us that while these e-mails were going back and forth and while these boxes were sitting sealed up in an empty office building in Virginia, this was happening at the same time that the Archives was starting to raise concerns about where some of these presidential records are.

So, there's no conversation about documents in any of this back and forth in these e-mails. But one thing I do want to point out is that they do mention the National Archives, but it has nothing to do with documents. They're actually talking about gifts. They're talking about what you need to give to the Archives in terms of gifts.

This seems like something that aides really fixated on, particularly when it came to a 300-pound portrait of Trump that they wanted shipped down to Mar-a-Lago. GSA said they wouldn't do it because that was personal property, Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. Kristen Holmes, reporting. Good reporting. Thank you very, very much.

Let's dig deeper. The former federal prosecutor Shan Wu and CNN legal analyst, former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams are both joining us. Elliot, watch how former President Trump actually spoke about the documents he took with him to Mar-a-Lago at a rally last night. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I had a small number of boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago guarded by Secret Service and my people and everybody. I mean, it's safe. There is no crime, you know, there is no crime. It's not a crime. And they should give me immediately back everything that they've taken from me because it's mine, it's mine.


BLITZER: So, when you listen to that, does it make the attempt to blame that government agency look even more absurd?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It does, Wolf. That is what prosecutors would call a confession for a crime. And the mere fact that you think it's not a crime doesn't change that fact. Look, Wolf, I can burn your house down and if I burn your house down and say, you know what, I didn't commit arson. I was just playing with fire at Wolf's house. It's still an act of arson. And so, it's, you know, whatever. We don't even need to explain that

point. Look, this question of who packed what also adds -- is compounded by the fact that it's multiple communications from the authorities with the folks at Mar-a-Lago. Every time they received an e-mail at Mar-a-Lago they were put on notice that what they were doing was illegal. And it all speaks to the intent not just of the president, but other people around him and it's going to come up in a criminal charge at some point for somebody.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Shan, a source now tells CNN that Trump attorney Christina Bobb has spoken to federal investigators. She's the one who was at Mar-a-Lago the day of the FBI search. So, what does that tell you about the status of this investigation?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, she is absolutely someone they had to speak to, so I think the status is that they are continuing to drill down as they learn, you know, more of the people that might have valuable information. Her being interviewed is hardly unexpected, but I am really shocked at the fact that she hasn't withdrawn, because for her and for Evan Corcoran, who she apparently, according to reporting, saying he's the one that instructed her, you know, to make this representation.

They're both in an untenable position. I mean, having to disavow this, they're either going to be pointing fingers at each other or at their client, and in any event, no defense attorney can do a good job while they're also a witness in the case.

BLITZER: That's a good point. You know, Elliot, Trump is also facing a separate investigation in Georgia right now into his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. And CNN has learned former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson is cooperating in that probe. How significant is that?

WILLIAMS: It's significant in that she can fill in what witnesses that are based in Georgia have probably already testified to. N ow, look, we know that the Georgia D.A. has spoken with witnesses on the ground in Georgia who might have fielded calls from President Trump and his team. What Cassidy Hutchinson can provide is background as to, well, was this spoken about in the White House? Was this spoken about privately?

When you build an investigation, you get information from multiple sources coming at different angles of things because some evidence isn't going to hold up in court. So, they need to sort of bolster what they already have. And, yes, that is potentially a very valuable witness.

BLITZER: Let me get Shan's thoughts. Shan, how useful could Hutchinson's testimony be to the prosecutor who could be ready, by the way, to make indictments by the end of this year?

WU: Right, Wolf. I think it's really valuable because she's the next best thing to Mark Meadows.


And on the substantive level too, assuming that he may try to assert some kind of executive privilege, her talking about the same issues really tends to undercut that. I mean, A, you're getting the information, and, B, it may really cast doubt on whether it's a legitimate assertion of that. I mean, were they really involved in legitimate executive policy decisions or something illegal?

BLITZER: Shan Wu and Elliot Williams, guys, thank you very, very much.

Up next, key Republicans right now rallying behind Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker amid his growing abortion controversy.



BLITZER: Key Republicans are rallying tonight behind Georgia Republican Senate Candidate Herschel Walker as he faces allegations he paid for a woman's abortion then urged her to have a second one. All of it coming just weeks before the midterm election that could, that could potentially determine control of the U.S. Senate.

Let's go to our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Roger right now. He's up on Capitol Hill. Manu, how is the Republican Party looking to help Herschel Walker down the stretch of this race?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the top Republicans are rallying to his defense in the aftermath of those reports in which it was alleged that one of those mothers had an abortion at his requested and he had paid for an abortion 13 years ago, something that Walker has denied. CNN has not independently verified that report, but it has rocked his campaign.

Republicans are rallying to his defense including tomorrow at a rally like 45 miles west of Atlanta and a Republican stronghold, one in which Donald Trump carried about 30 points in order to try to nationalize this race. Tom Cotton, the Republican from Arkansas will be there as well as Rick Scott, who's the chairman of this Republican Senatorial Committee of Florida Republican, both will be rallying for him trying to tie Raphael Warnock, the Democrat who is facing off against war against Walker to Joe Biden trying to shift the discussion to crime, the economy, inflation and trying to cast Walker is a victim of sorts in the aftermath of these reports.

Now, expect this race which has been vicious so far, to get even nastier. In the final weeks of the campaign, already $160 million has been spent in total on air in that state alone. And in the last several weeks of the campaign from now until election day, another $71 million, more than half of Democrats and 31 million from Republicans expected to co on air pummeling each side.

Republicans and Democrats both recognize this seat is absolutely essential to determining which party will be in power in the coming -- in the next Congress, which is why we can expect these attacks to intensify in the coming days as a race remains very close and the final days here, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, stakes clearly are enormous. Manu, another Republican Senator, Tommy Tuberville is coming under fire right now for his racist take on the issue of crime in America. Listen to this.


SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R), ALABAMA: The Democratic Party they have majority, they could stop this crime today. They -- some people say, well, they're soft on crime. No, they're not soft on crime, they're pro-crime. They won't crime. They won't crime because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They will reparation because I think the people that do the crime are owed that, bullshit. They're not owed that.


BLITZER: Manu, how's the Republican leadership responding to this?

RAJU: Well, with silence, Wolf. There has been no response from top Republicans. In fact, Congress is out on recess up until after the November midterms. Tuberville's office and itself has not responded, not have clarified his remarks at all. I reached out to his office today asking what the Senator meant if he wanted to clarify, want to talk about what exactly what he was referring to, they have so far declined to do so.

But this has caught some Republicans that I've spoken to by surprise, Wolf. He is not known as someone who rocks the boat. He's a backbencher, freshman Republican keeps his head down. So this comment, though, gotten a lot of attention, both within the Republican Party and outside the Republican Party as well.

BLITZER: Certainly has. All right, Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill. I want you to stand by as well.

I want to bring in CNN's Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and CNN Chief National Affairs Analyst Kasie Hunt. Gloria, what does it say about where the Republican Party stands right now? The key Republicans right now are still rallying around Herschel Walker, some of them even getting ready to travel to Georgia to campaign for him.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: They want to change the subject. They're worried they're going to lose the race. They want to take up some of the oxygen that's been taken up by Herschel Walker who hasn't always been adept at answering questions about his problems with women. And they're going to head down there and they're going to try and turn this into a race about the evil Democrats versus Herschel Walker.

And you've heard Rick Scott sent out a statement saying the Democrats want to destroy the country. They want to destroy anyone who gets in their way. They want to start talking about the issues that work for them, which are the economy and crime and immigration. They don't want Herschel Walker to talk about Herschel Walker. BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point. You know, Kasie, Senator Bernie Sanders says he's, quote, alarmed that Democrats seem to be making abortion, the focus of their campaign during these final days before the midterm elections. Is this issue resonating with voters?

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I think the abortion issue is clearly resonating with Democratic base voters and what I read into Bernie Sanders comments, I mean, he's always been an economic guy, right? His arguments and his sort of political reasons for being are around issues of class quite frankly, and the working class and helping, you know, people in that regard.


He has had less focus over the course of his life on issues like abortion, like guns, for example, is one where, you know, in Vermont, sometimes he's actually crossed Democrats on that issue. I think he's actually reflecting a greater concern that I am picking up from some Democrats. I mean, James Carville was quoted over the weekend is saying something along these lines that if they only hit one note, if they're only talking about abortion, then that's potentially problematic for the party.

They have been very focused. You've seen that way. The President has rolled out actions with student loans, things like that. They're very focused on getting their base to turn out to the polls, right? That's where Democrats see the biggest problem. That's why you see the focus on abortion. But I think some people are starting to worry that, hey, maybe Republicans are getting some traction on inflation, on crime from these other issues.

BLITZER: Yes, that's good point, indeed. And Gloria, I want to turn to those remarks from Senator Tommy Tuberville. They were met with enthusiastic applause as you heard --

BORGER: They were.

BLITZER: -- in that clip. Does it seem to you like he knew exactly what he was doing?

BORGER: Yes. I think he absolutely did. I think he wanted to tie the issue of reparations to crime, and it was racist. And he has a history of talking about Democrats saying the party actually is in favor of crime, as opposed to being against crime. And he has -- had a history of questioning Barack Obama's birth certificate, you go back in history, and you keep seeing these things over and over again.

I think what he's trying to do is rally a base that he knows can be rally by these kinds of comments. And we'll see if it works for him. But, you know, this is somebody who in the past has gone after immigrant communities. So you have to assume that he knows exactly what he was talking about and what he was doing.

HUNT: And the other thing too, I think, Wolf, that is important to remember here is that Donald Trump, and the way he conducted himself in public life really allowed for people to, I mean, it allowed for those -- that applause in that room. And it also gave politicians like Tommy Tuberville, much more license to say things like that without feeling that they were going to face repercussions.

I mean, we've gotten into a situation where the former President Donald Trump used a racist slur against Mitch McConnell's wife and you hear nary a peep, right? And so now in this instance, Republicans, yes, I mean, Don Bacon over the weekend, Congressman from Nebraska, was put on the spot about this and he's -- wouldn't call him a racist.

He said, I'm going to kind of say is being racist, I would say it a different way. I would be more polite, but crime is still an issue, right? The issue is not what you think about crime, right? The issue is what he said about who is committing it and then why.

BORGER: And how he said it.

HUNT: Exactly.

BLITZER: Yes, it was really awful. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, New York City almost overwhelmed by an influx of migrants and tonight, in a state of emergency.



BLITZER: A state of emergency declared in New York City, where the mayor says the sudden influx of migrants is straining the city's shelter system and could cost taxpayers as much as $1 billion. CNN National Correspondent Athena Jones has the latest.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK: We are at the edge of the precipice.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City facing a crisis.

ADAMS (voice-over): We need serious partnership and realistic solutions.

JONES (voice-over): Mayor Eric Adams declaring a state of emergency as the nation's largest city struggles to house thousands of migrants in an already overstretched shelter system. At least 17,000 migrants seeking asylum have been bused to New York from the southern border since April. And the city expects to spend at least $1 billion by the end of the fiscal year dealing with the influx.

JOSE GARCIA, MIGRANT (through translation): It's not about an American dream, but more than anything a dream for my family back in Venezuela. The children we share and work hard and follow the legal route to asylum.

JONES (voice-over): If migrants continue to arrive at the current rate, the mayor warned the city's shelter population now near capacity at a record 61,000 people could top 100,000 people in the year to come. The mayor said 42 hotels have been set up as emergency shelters and 5,500 migrant children have been enrolled in schools.

Adams is calling for emergency federal and state aid. He also wants assistance with expedited work permits, a national strategy to slow the flow of asylum seekers, and a resettlement strategy to better share the burden among cities.

ADAMS: This is a humanitarian crisis that started with violence and instability in South America. And it has been accelerated by American political dynamics. Thousands of asylum seekers have been bused into New York City is simply dropped off without notice coordination of care.

JONES (voice-over): In a more critics call a political stunt, Red State Governors like Greg Abbott of Texas have been sending migrants to cities like New York unannounced to highlight the strain on border states grappling with the issue and to call attention to what those governors say is the Biden administration's failure to control the border.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: This all began back in April, when small little towns on the Texas border were overwhelmed by Joe Biden's border policies that were dumping thousands of illegal immigrants into these small little towns that were completely incapable of dealing with it. And they needed relief.

JONES (voice-over): In the next few weeks, the city plans to open a large humanitarian emergency response and relief center on Randalls Island that will house hundreds of people. But the mayor warned without immediate action, the center will be full in just days and more facilities will have to be opened. But critics have long argued shelters aren't the answer.


SERGIO TUPAC UZURIN, SPOKESPERSON, NYC ICE WATCH: The city strategy seems to be getting the migrants to be out of sight and out of mind. When they arrive off the buses, they tend to be -- told to go to the shelter system which are prison like conditions.

JONES (voice-over): Advocates for the homeless and for migrants are pushing the city to come up with long term permanent housing for them.

UZURIN: The city has the budget, the state and federal government have the budget to buy out vacant housing and underutilized hotels to house every unhoused person in New York almost immediately and that's what we really want to see.


JONES: Now this emergency relief and response center you see going up behind me, first of all, they made a lot of progress just today, it will house up to 500 migrants when it opens in the coming weeks with the capacity to expand and house more. The city says the plan is for this shelter center, this location to be available for a short time. So days, not weeks that the migrants will be staying here. Wolf?

BLITZER: CNN's Athena Jones on Randalls Island in New York. Thank you very, very much.

Residents and business owners from Fort Myers Beach in Florida are finally able to return to the area since Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction nearly two weeks ago, but they're not allowed to stay overnight.

Let's bring in CNN's Nadia Romero, she's reporting live from Fort Myers Beach for us. Nadia, how is the recovery effort going now?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Wolf, it is a slow grind and a painful process for so many people who poured in their life savings into these businesses and into properties where they thought they would retire.

Take a look behind me. This is Tuna Skin, it is an apparel store, at least it was before Hurricane Ian came through. Now, you can hardly tell. Attached to the building are apartments and rental properties where people could stay and be close to the beach. But when you look on the ground, that's where you're going to see your signs of life.

Down here, these are swim suits that likely came from the retail shop, some food containers, just really nothing to salvage. And when we talk to business owners and homeowners, many of them weren't eligible for flood insurance, so they have to come out of pocket for all of their repairs. That means going to FEMA or the Small Business Administration to pick up loans on top of loans.

Now this building residents tell me was damaged by Hurricane Charley back in 2004, rebuilt again, now obviously damaged again. The question, Wolf, how long will it take for all of this to get cleaned up for people to get -- be able to put their lives back together again? Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, awful situation. Nadia Romero in Fort Myers Beach for us in Florida, thank you very much.

Coming up, North Korea's flurry of missile launches. Is Kim Jong-un saber rattling are gearing up for something more sinister and potentially deadly? Plus, Russia unleashes its heaviest airstrikes on Ukraine since its unprovoked invasion, and deadly attacks on multiple cities. We'll talk one on one with the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States.



BLITZER: The United States and its allies are closely watching North Korea tonight following an alarming flurry of missile tests and tough new talk from Kim Jong-un's regime. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us. Brian, Kim is ramping up by his aggressions, but it's unclear what he's after right now. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. Kim Jong-un clearly has his swagger back and many analysts are now warning that another underground nuclear bomb test from North Korea likely is not far off.


TODD (voice-over): North Korea's volatile dictator ramping up his aggressive behavior recently conducting at least seven missile tests in the past two weeks, including one which sent a missile directly over Japan. North Korean state media says Kim Jong-un, quote, personally guided this recent wave of tests. Why now?

BRUCE KLINGNER, FORMER CIA ANALYST ON NORTH KOREA: What it could be is to try to drive the U.S. back to the negotiating table in a more supplicant way. Maybe now, they're suggesting that even though they say they don't want any kind of dialogue, they'd be willing to accept offers from the United States.

TODD (voice-over): From the U.S., South Korea, and Japan, an aggressive response of their own to Kim's missile tests. The allies conducting joint military exercises, missile test launches, and in a move South Korean authorities called very unusual, the U.S. redeploying an aircraft carrier to the waters right off the Korean peninsula.

SUE TERRY, THE WOODROW WILSON CENTER: They did what they had to do, but they are not enough to deter North Korea. I think the latest missile test is just a precursor to what's -- what will come and there'll be seventh nuclear tests, possibly a test of a tactical nuclear weapon.

TODD (voice-over): A seventh North Korean underground nuclear bomb test, analysts say, is likely to come in the near future. Kim's regime hasn't conducted one in five years, but he now seems to have a new swagger. For at least one recent launch, he appeared in a white tunic with black slacks. At one point, he donned what looked like a khaki safari hat as he peered through mounted binoculars. At another event, the Supreme Leader wore a brown field jacket as he tried to cover his ears.

KLINGNER: He's showing that he's bold and he's proud and he's involved in this and that the tactical nuclear weapons program is his.

TODD (voice-over): Following a thought in relations while Kim was courting former President Trump.


TODD (voice-over): And following a low in testing during the COVID pandemic. Kim is back to the brazen hawkish behavior that made him a threat in the first place, but with some ominous recent twists. Earlier this year, Kim and his increasingly powerful younger sister Kim Yo-jong threatened to annihilate South Korea with pre-emptive nuclear strikes if they felt threatened. Kim Yo-jong calling South Korea's Defense Minister scum as she issued one threat last spring.


TERRY: Taking a page out of Putin's playbook, and North Korea has literally just came out with nuclear doctrine, where they have lowered the threshold for pre-emptive nuclear weapons use.


TODD: Senior administration officials recently told CNN a lack of hard intelligence inside North Korea is hampering the U.S.'s ability to determine Kim Jong-un's military intentions, Wolf.

BLITZER: These are very disturbing developments indeed. Brian Todd, thank you very much for that report.

Coming up, Russia's deadly retaliation for an attack on a critical bridge. We'll talk about Moscow's barrage of missile strikes with Ukraine's ambassador to the United States. She joins us live, that's next.


BLITZER: Happening now, deadly blasts rock Ukraine, the worst since the invasion.