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Sources Say, 1/6 Hearing Tomorrow To Argue Trump A Danger To Democracy; Jury Says, Alex Jones Should Pay Nearly $1 Billion To Sandy Hook Families; New Info On Bridge Bombing That Prompted Putin's Revenge Attacks; CNN Poll: Biden Approval Rebounds From Summer Low. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 12, 2022 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And Russia shares new information about the Crime Bridge bombing that prompted Vladimir Putin's deadly new revenge attacks on Ukraine. We'll have a live report from Moscow this hour.

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

Here in Washington tonight, anticipation is building for tomorrow's climactic hearing by the January 6th select committee, the last before Election Day.

CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray has new details on what to expect.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The January 6th committee making its closing argument ahead of the November midterms.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (R-CA): There's some new material that, you know, I found as we got into it pretty surprising.

MURRAY: Sources say they're aiming to drive home that former President Donald Trump still poses a danger to democracy, using a mix of new evidence and reminders of their prior work.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): It's really demonstrated the breadth and the depth of the effort to overturn the election and to stop the peaceful transfer of power. And it was an effort that, at every step of the way, the former president was deeply involved in, personally engaged in. MURRAY: While live witnesses are not expected, members are preparing

to showcase previously unseen emails from Secret Service, which recently turned over more than 1 million communications, as well as new video. Since the last hearing in July --

CHENEY: The president's stolen election lies provoked that mob to attack the Capitol. MURRAY: -- the committee interviewed Trump cabinet members, including former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. And they interviewed Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We still have significant information that we've not shown to the public that's available to us.

MURRAY: Members hinting the hearing could also highlight the role of longtime Trump ally Roger Stone.

ROGER STONE, TRUMP STRATEGIST: What they're assuming is the election will be normal. The election will not be normal.

MURRAY: And ties between Trump's circle and violent extremist groups.

LOFGREN: The mob was led by some extremist groups. They plotted in advance what they were going to do. And those individuals were known to people in the Trump orbit.

MURRAY: The committee reconvening in public for the first time since the FBI searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate and since a DOJ probe into efforts to subvert the 2020 election has intensified. With midterms less than a month away, a key focus is Trump's continued efforts --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I ran twice, I won twice --

MURRAY: -- to spread the falsehood the 2020 election was stolen and ensure election deniers take office.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We've gotten a much better handle on the continuing clear and present danger that confronts the people of America.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, the committee has the opportunity to make news on a number of fronts, but even after tomorrow, they are still going to have unfinished business, Wolf. They still have to complete their final report, and they still have to make a decision about whether they are going to go to DOJ with any criminal referrals.

BLITZER: Sara, stay with us. I also want to bring in CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel and CNN Senior Political Correspondent Abby Phillip.

Jamie, what more are you learning, you're doing a lot of reporting on this, about new information, new details we might learn tomorrow?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm told that all roads lead to Donald Trump tomorrow, that the hearing is going to be big picture, a lot of new evidence, but also a look at his state of mind and what he was doing on January 6th.

I'm also told that the committee -- look, we heard Jamie Raskin say, clear and present danger. They are going to double down, triple down, on the fact that Donald Trump continues to be an election denier, support election denial, and that he is setting the stage for the same thing in 2024.

BLITZER: Do you get a sense that this new information about Trump that will be revealed tomorrow will actually move the mark for those Trump supporters out there?

GANGEL: I'm not sure anything will move the mark for Trump supporters. But let's think about this. In the course of these hearings, most of the witnesses have been Republicans and Trump officials. And so I think, little by little, the committee knows it has a challenge but they're hoping that, over the course of the hearings, they can change some minds.

BLITZER: Abby, yesterday, Zoe Lofgren, a key committee member, was here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM, and she told me that tomorrow's hearing will focus in on the close ties between people in the Trump world and extremist groups out there. So, what questions do you hope tomorrow's hearings will answer as far as all this is concerned?


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that is a really big, missing piece of what we have heard so far from the January 6th committee. We need to understand better how much people within Trump's orbit, whether inside the White House or the people around Trump who were not maybe officially employees of the government but were around Trump a lot, talking to him a lot, how much did they know about the plans that existed to basically surge and attack the Capitol?

I think the committee has pretty clearly established that that part of it, the physical attack on the Capitol, was premeditated. But now we need to understand how much information was going from those planners and those attackers to people within the White House who, no doubt, supported their efforts to halt the counting of the electoral vote, but we still don't know based on the information that's been revealed whether they knew how far the violence would go.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Sara, we do expect the committee will reveal lots of emails from the U.S. Secret Service during the hearing tomorrow. What might we learn from that?

MURRAY: Well, that's right, Wolf. And, look, I think when we left the committee over the summer, we were basically talking about what was a big gap in information. We were talking about them not being able to get text messages, not being able to get intel out of Secret Service.

Now, they got this trove of information over the summer, so we're going to look for any emails about sort of the run-up, what the Secret Service potentially knew about the violence at the Capitol before it played out, what they may have learned about what was happening in real-time, what kind of warnings were moving to people in Trump's circle in real-time. And I think that this is another big missing piece that the committee has been able to at least fill in, in part, over the summer. So, we're waiting to see how much of that evidence makes it into their hearing.

BLITZER: We're told, as you know, Jamie, that this will be the last hearing before the midterm elections in November. But what do we anticipate will happen after that?

GANGEL: Every time we say that, Wolf, they have a popup hearing. So, I don't think there will be another hearing before the midterm elections. That said, I am told over and over again, they are continuing to do interviews. If something comes up, you know, I wouldn't rule it out. But I do think we are going to see at least one and maybe two more hearings down the road.

BLITZER: After the midterms?

GANGEL: After the midterms. They have to make a decision, as Sara said, about criminal referral to the Justice Department. And, of course, we know there's going to be a meeting when they present their final report.

PHILLIP: Well, what's extraordinary about the fact that these hearings just keep popping up is they're popping in part because the committee is actually getting more information in an ongoing fashion. They're finding that the hearings are begetting more hearings. People are coming to them, they're seeing things on T.V. Maybe they're developing some of their own sense of courage because they're seeing other people, people like Cassidy Hutchinson and others, coming forward and speaking their truth.

And that has been, really, I think, to some extent, a little bit of an unexpected result of these hearings. I think people wondered what impact would it have on voters. We still don't know that. But I think if there's been a clear impact on people in the Trump orbit, and many of them have come forward to the committee to provide more information, and that is why we keep hearing about it.

GANGEL: And the committee themselves did not know that was going to happen.

MURRAY: And I think there could still be more information that they get once we get past the midterms. We know that there are a number of subpoenas that are outstanding to witnesses who aren't necessarily refusing to talk to the committee, but the committee has been so swamped and sort of programming these hearings, getting through the Secret Service stuff, getting through witnesses that were at the top of their list that they may use this time to sort of make time for other witnesses that were outstanding.

And, again, you don't know what you don't know. If something rises to the level, I think we've seen that they are certainly not above throwing together something quickly if they need to.

PHILLIP: But there's also -- I mean, I think it's really important for the committee, even as they go forward with plans for additional hearings, to make sure that they have the goods. They're asking for the attention of the American people. And there is a kind of line at which if you provide them with information that doesn't rise to the level, people might start to tune it out.

And this is important. I mean, this is about something that was really devastating that happened to this country. And I think it would not be in anybody's interests for people to start tuning out these hearings simply because they feel like they're not learning enough. That's the risk as they go forward into December.

BLITZER: We'll have special live coverage starting at noon tomorrow, so we'll all be watching. Guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, a key member of the January 6th select committee standing by to join us live. Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland will be here.

Plus, the nearly $1 billion verdict against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, will the families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims actually, though, get the money? Stand by.



BLITZER: Right now, we want to get an insider's take on the new evidence that will be revealed by the January 6th select committee tomorrow. We're joined by a key member of the panel, Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

Sources tell CNN your committee will argue that former President Trump remains a clear and present danger to democracy in America. What new evidence can we expect your committee to lay out in tomorrow's hearing to make that case?

RASKIN: Well, we have a bunch of new documentary evidence and statements that establish the central role that Donald Trump played in his overwhelming culpability in these events. I don't think any reasonable, open-minded observer could watch what we're going to do tomorrow and what we've done over the course of these hearings, put it all together and not come away with one conclusion, which is that none of this would have happened except for the will of Donald Trump.

Had he accepted his defeat after losing in more than 60 federal and state courts, if he had just accepted it the way that other presidents have in the past, none of this would have happened. But the political coup and all of the events surrounding the attempt to overthrow Joe Biden's majority in the Electoral College, the insurrectionary violence, the mobilization of the mob, all of it flowed out of the will and determination of one man to seize the presidency, and that's Donald Trump.


And I think that we have a lot of new evidence, which will make that abundantly clear to the American people. BLITZER: But do you have specific evidence, Congressman, of a direct link between various extremist groups and the former president or his inner circle?

RASKIN: Well, if the inner circle includes the three people that he pardoned between the election in November and January 6th, Flynn, Stone and Bannon, I call them the Flynnstones, then absolutely. There is abundant evidence that we are going to present about, for example, Stone's enmeshment with domestic violent extremist groups.

And I think if you add up everything that we've put out there, it's very clear that those operatives were out mobilizing and galvanizing domestic violent extremist groups to orchestrate an assault on the Capitol, and that, of course, is precisely what happened.

BLITZER: Will we learn details of the testimony of Ginni Thomas, the wife of the Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas? Will we see video, for example, of testimony from other witnesses, like former Trump cabinet members?

RASKIN: There may be some more video testimony that's included in order to fill out the complete picture. But what we're focused on here is solidifying all of the basic elements of this premeditated hit against American democracy, so people are going to be able to see exactly what took place and why.

And people will also come to understand that this was not some kind of one-shot deal. The effort to overturn the election continued after the election, and it continued after January 6th itself. So, this is a continuing clear and present danger to Democratic institutions.

The American people have never seen anything like this in our lifetimes. And so from my perspective, this is sounding the alarm about what is taking place to this day as there continue to be, you know, subtle calls for, you know, violence, things like saying Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has a death wish, and the refusal of huge numbers of Trump-inspired candidates to accept the reality of Trump's defeat in 2020 when Joe Biden beat him by more than 7 million votes, 306-232 in the Electoral College.

So, the electoral denialism is rampant. And there continue to be very scary intimations about embrace or tolerance of political violence. I mean, when former President Trump goes out and says that he is likely to pardon the January 6th insurrectioners and rioters, people who engaged in violent attacks on our officers, that's a very dangerous thing when you think about constitutional democracy.

BLITZER: It certainly is. Congressman Jamie Raskin, thanks so much for joining us.

And to our viewers, stay with CNN for complete live coverage of the January 6th hearing. It all begins tomorrow at noon Eastern.

Coming up, the raw emotion in the courtroom when a jury awarded nearly $1 billion to families of victims in the Sandy Hook school shooting in a bombshell verdict against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLITZER: Emotions spilling over in a Connecticut courtroom today as a jury said conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay nearly $1 billion in damages to Sandy Hook families for his lies about the school massacre that left 26 children and adults dead.

CNN National Correspondent Brynn Gingras has our report.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist who was found liable last year of defaming families of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims, must pay for his words.

ROBBIE PARKER, DAUGHTER MURDERED AT SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: I'm just proud that what we were able to accomplish was just to simply tell the truth. And it shouldn't be this hard and it shouldn't this be scary.

GINGRAS: The Connecticut jury of six unanimously decided Jones must pay $965 million in compensatory damages to the 15 plaintiffs. 14 are family members of victims and the 15th is an FBI agent who responded to the scene on the day of the shooting. Family members sat in court, some crying, as the verdict was read. Jones was not there.

ALEX JONES, HOST, INFOWARS: The whole thing was fake.

BLITZER: The InfoWars host spent years spreading disinformation about the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre which left 20 children and 6 educators dead, calling the shooting a hoax, alleging the families involved were crisis actors.


During four weeks of emotional testimony, family members of the victims described how they've been harassed the past decade, both in person and online.

PARKER: For years I've been dealing with this. And everybody who was online or everybody who was in the comfort of their studio in some other state, and I never had a chance to tell anybody how I felt or what I thought.

I'm paraphrasing at this point, but just like how dare you? You're talking about my daughter. She was killed. Who do you think you are?

FRANCINE WHEELER, SON MURDERED AT SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: And she said, who's that? And I said, that's my son, Ben. He died in his first grade classroom at Sandy Hook school. And she said, what? I said, yes, he died at Sandy Hook. And she said, you're lying, that didn't happen. GINGRAS: During the trial, Jones took the stand only one time, on September 22nd, and got in a heated exchange with the plaintiffs' attorney.

CHRIS MATTEI, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: Today, a jury representing our community and our nation rendered a historic verdict, a verdict against Alex Jones' lies and their poisonous spread and a verdict for truth and for our common humanity.

GINGRAS: Jones' defense team opted not to cross-examine him, and Jones never took the stand again during the trial. His attorneys saying this after the verdict was read today.

NORM PATTIS, ALEX JONES' DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Certainly, it's more than we expected. That's an understatement. But we look very much forward to an appeal in this case.


GINGRAS: Even as the verdict came down, Jones was on his show essentially mocking the verdict, saying he has no money. His attorney says they are going to appeal this decision. The plaintiffs' attorney says they are going to fight this to the very end so that they get their money.

Now, the plaintiffs are also, Wolf, going to receive punitive damages, however, the amount of that is going to be determined at a later court date. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Brynn Gingras reporting for us, standby, Brynn. I also want to bring in CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson and CNN Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin, who's done a lot of reporting on this.

So, let's talk a little bit about what's going on right now. Joey, what message did this jury send with this very, very powerful verdict today?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Wolf, they sent the message of truth. They sent a message of accountability. This is what truth looks like. We've lived in a society, right, where lies, right, is that the norm? Should you be a family who has lost children in this case or other adult's relatives who lost 26 in total, and have lies spread over you over a decade to denigrate you even further, to emotionally disturb you, to traumatize you? There was one instance of testimony where there was a description of how there were people at a gravesite urinating on it and otherwise threatening to dig it up because all of this was a hoax.

And so at the end of the day, what this jury says that that's unacceptable and I think the numbers spoke volumes as to their view with respect to the Alex Jones conspiracy theories that he's been spreading for far too long.

BLITZER: Drew, as you know, Jones says he does not have money to pay these enormous damages, but you have extensive reporting about the tens of millions of dollars he has made and raised as a result of all of this, is that right?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, that's what this is all about. It's not just the lies. It's the fact that his whole business model is wrapped around telling lies so he can sell his products to his audience. And you're right, it's tens of millions of dollars a year. We tracked just one three-year period with sales where $165 million, so that was some $55 million a year.

He may not have money in the bank but he certainly has the ability to create and generate income through his business model, which is what this jury heard. This jury heard that he does have the ability to pay this money because he raised this money by telling lies about these children.

BLITZER: I want to remind our viewers, Brynn, of Jones' conduct during the course of this trial. Listen to this.


JONES: I've already said I'm sorry a hundred times and I'm done saying I'm sorry. I didn't generate this. I wasn't the first person to say it. American governments were being blamed for this, as the left did. So we rejected it and said it must not be true. But I legitimately thought it might have been staged and I stand by that, I don't apologize for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And don't apologize, Mr. Jones, please don't apologize.

JONES: No, I've already apologized to the parents over and over again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we know --

JONES: I don't apologize to you.


BLITZER: So, what's the sentiment tonight, Brynn, from the families who have been living through this ongoing nightmare?

GINGRAS: Yes. Wolf, I was in the courtroom when this verdict was read. And you could just feel the release immediately when those numbers were sort of being read out because of the stuff that even just Joey just described there, all of the trauma that they have gone through this past decade at the hands of Alex Jones and his followers, the threats, the vile attacks.


Even still while the court was going on these last few weeks, he was continuing to attack.

So, it was just a validation that their family members who passed away are real. They're real. They're not crisis actors. This really happened to them. And, finally, someone listened to them. And Alex Jones, to them, he's nothing to them, really. They just want to move past it. They know that they're not going to be able to, forever, because he continues to do what he does. But for them, this was just a major moment in sort of putting this behind them.

I want to read really quickly one thing Robbie Parker said. For anybody who listens to that man, just ask yourself, what has he ever given you, and compare that to whatever it is that he has taken from you? And that was such a big moment from Robbie Parker when he said that.

BLITZER: He lost a six-year-old little girl, Emily, in that massacre.

All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

This important note to our viewers, be sure to tune in later tonight to Anderson Cooper 360. We'll have an exclusive interview with the Sandy Hook families involved in this case. That's at 8:00 P.M. Eastern tonight.

We're following more breaking news right now. Political upheaval in Los Angeles, where the former city council president has just resigned her seat after leaked audio revealed her making racist remarks.

CNN National Correspondent Natasha Chen is working this story for us. Natasha, there are calls tonight for other city councilmembers to resign as well and demands for major reform. What's the latest?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the acting council president said today that they cannot truly heal as a council, as a city, they cannot effectively govern until these three councilmembers are no longer in their roles.

And now, Nury Martinez has officially resigned today. The two other councilmembers who were in this conversation that was secretly recorded, they are still in their roles on the council, but one of them, his term is up in just a couple of weeks.

Let's go over exactly what happened and how we got to this point, because this is a conversation that was recorded last year, leaked over the weekend, first obtained by the L.A. Times. This conversation involved those three councilmembers, as well as a union leader, talking about how to consolidate Latino political power in redistricting in the city.

Martinez made comments about other races, including indigenous people, in a disparaging manner, and then was discussing the Martin Luther King parade from last year, where one councilmember's son, she said, behaved very badly, and she was afraid that the float would even tip over and commented about that councilmember using his black son as an accessory. Here is that sound from the recording.


NURY MARTINEZ, PRESIDENT, LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL: The oddest thing, the black and brown on this float, then there's a white guy with this little black kid who's misbehaved. Este nino has no -- he's -- they're not -- the kid is bouncing off the effing walls of the float, practically tipping it over. There's nothing you can do to control him.

They're raising him like a little white kid. I was like, this kid is a beat-down, let me take him around the corner and then I'll bring him back.


CHEN: Today, Martinez released a statement saying, it is with a broken heart I resign my seat for Council District 6, the community I grew up in, and my home. She says she has a broken heart, but yesterday, Councilmember Mike Bonin during the council meeting was extremely emotional. That was his son that she was talking about. He cried, saying that he is heartbroken. Now, the attorney general of California says they want to investigate the redistricting process after all of this, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. CNN's Natasha Chen reporting for us from Los Angeles, thank you.

Just ahead, Russia unleashing deadly new missile strikes on civilians in Ukraine. And tonight, NATO is warning that a nuclear strike would almost certainly trigger a physical response. Stay with us.



BLITZER: Just a short while ago, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia's attempted annexations in Ukraine, this after Moscow unleashed yet another punishing round of missile strikes targeting civilians as well as critical infrastructure in Ukraine.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen has our report from Kyiv that includes some graphic images.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Another mass casualty attack in Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, bodies strewn across a market in the eastern town, Avdiivka. Just one reason why Ukrainians disagree from President Joe Biden's remark from the interview with CNN's Jake Tapper that Putin is a rational actor.

The adviser to Ukraine's presidential administration tells me he believes the opposite is true.

MIKHAIL PODOLYAK, ADVISER TO UKRAINE'S PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE: He is not rational. He is emotional. He takes a lot of decisions from an emotional position and without a deep understanding of what is going on. Every decision that President Putin makes is a mistake.

PLEITGEN: As jets patrol the sky over Ukraine's capital, Russia continued its blitz of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities, hitting the town of Zaporizhzhia and targeting critical infrastructure, especially power plants.

The adviser telling me, Ukraine is working hard to repair the damage and appreciate support from the U.S. and its allies.


PODOLYAK: Our partners all reacted very quickly to what happened on Monday, the 10th. All our official partners, including the United States, announced that the types of strikes were inhumane because they consciously targeted civilian infrastructure.

PLEITGEN: Ukraine's military says it's able to shoot down many of the missiles and drones Russia fires at its territory, but only has old soviet-era surface-to-air systems and not enough of them.

At a meeting in Brussels, NATO made clear, providing Ukraine with modern anti-aircraft missiles is a top priority.

LLOYD AUSIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: This contact group stands united and determined. We will continue to boost Ukraine's defensive capabilities for today's urgent needs and for the long haul.

PLEITGEN: The Ukrainians say they continue to make headway against Russia's forces on the battlefield, Kyiv saying its forces took back several key villages in the south of the country. And the presidential adviser telling me, despite Vladimir Putin's nuclear threat, Ukraine must prevail.

PODOLYAK: Look, the threat of the use of nuclear weapons is not the problem of Ukraine. In any case, we cannot stop our counteroffensive. In any case, we cannot give up our territory to Russian control because it will mean an endless war for us. It will be impossible to rebuild the country.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, you know, Wolf, the Russians are saying or continue to say that the strikes that they're currently conducting are in retaliation to that truck bomb attack on the Kerch Bridge that happened on the weekend. Well, the Russian intelligence service now offered details saying that the explosives were hidden in that truck, in the truck bed in 22 pallets that were wrapped in cellophane construction film. In total, they're talking about 22 tons of explosives, Wolf.

BLITZER: Fred Pleitgen reporting for us from Kyiv in Ukraine, thank you very much, from Kyiv.

Let's head over live to Moscow right now. CNN Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance is standing by.

Matthew, President Biden had a very clear message for Russian President Putin, that if Russia uses a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, the global response could result in, quote, Armageddon. What is the Russian response?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, to those comments, well, they've slammed those remarks, quite frankly, Wolf, with the Kremlin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, telling state media earlier this. He said, we deplore the western chiefs of state, like the United States and European heads of state, exercise nuclear rhetoric on a daily basis.

The Kremlin is saying they regard that as a harmful and provocative practice and saying that Russia doesn't participate in those kinds of actions, which is, of course, extraordinary given the whole reason President Biden made those remarks in the first place about there being disastrous consequences to Russia if it were to use a nuclear weapon, is because Vladimir Putin, Russian state television, various other officials in this country routinely talk about the possibility of Russia doing that, consistently reminding the west about their nuclear arsenal, which, to paraphrase them, they are not afraid to use, they say, in the event of an attack on the Russian sort of state and to protect its people. So, they underline that time and again.

However, on the ground, we're not seeing any sign of that actually happening, fortunately. The response to the significant military setbacks over the past couple of weeks and months has been a conventional one, of course, not a nuclear one. And more than that, western intelligence agencies are watching this very closely, say they've seen no signs of Russia's nuclear weapon systems being prepared or moved into a location where they might be used.

And so perhaps, I think -- the hope is, at least, that the understanding about the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons is something that is fully taken on board here in Moscow.

BLITZER: Matthew Chance reporting for us live from Moscow, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, we'll share an exclusive new CNN poll on President Biden's approval rating. Stay with us. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Now, a CNN exclusive, our new poll showing President Biden's approval rating rebounding from its summer low point. But Americans are still pessimistic about the economy.

CNN's John King is over at the magic wall, breaking down the new numbers.

John, let's start with the president's approval rating.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president's approval rating, generally the north star in any midterm election. The president's number 44 percent approve, 56 percent disapprove. Now that is not a strong number, you're underwater if you're the president of the United States, bad for the president, bad for his party. But sometimes trajectory matters. So, if you look at this over time,

the president is up from 38 percent approval in July, so trending up as we get closer to the election. Now, inside four weeks to the election. Democrats will take some solace in that. Any time the president's approval rating goes up, every point makes a competitive house race a little better, perhaps helps in a competitive Senate or governor's race.

So, that trend line better for the president, it's not good but better. But here's why the inside bones of our poll are troubling for the Democrats. Look at the economy views right now. Only 2 percent of Americans think the economy is very good right now, 20 percent say somewhat good. But add this up, 41 percent, somewhat poor, 37 percent, very poor. That's 78 percent of Americans. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans would say poor or worse when you ask them how the economy is doing. That's why this is a tough headwind for the president and his party.


Let's take a closer look at these economic numbers. You go back to April 2021, almost an even split, 54 percent saying good, 54 percent saying the green was winning, good, 45 percent. Just look at the change over time.

I talked about the trajectory and the president's approval rating being good for Democrats. That trajectory is horrible for Democrats. Nearly eight in ten Americans think the economy is poor. Maybe they're optimistic about the future, that will influence their vote, no.

Look at net good dropping to 44 -- 40 percent here. Net poor, six in ten Americans think a year from now, the economy will still be poor. So they think it's horrible now. Many think it will still be poor a year from now.

So, again, this trend line somewhat good for the Democrats. This look at what people think about the economy is horrible. The challenge for Democrats, get voters to think about something else, not the economy, not inflation, perhaps not the president's approval number. That's the challenge in the final weeks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Huge challenge indeed. CNN's John King, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, what a former Metropolitan D.C. police officer expects out of the January 6th Select Committee's last hearing before the midterm elections. And why Michael Fanone fears another insurrection could happen again.



BLITZER: Many of the officers who helped protect the U.S. Capitol during the January 6th insurrection have been speaking out in the months since the attack. Joining us now CNN law enforcement analyst, a former Washington, D.C.

Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone. He is also the author of the brand-new book entitled, there's the cover, "Hold the Line: The Insurrection and One Cop's Battle for America's Soul."

Michael, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for writing this book. I appreciate all the good work you've done over the years with the D.C. Metropolitan Police.

I want to show our viewers this photo, photo from your new book. It was taken in January 6th in the hospital. You had just been severely beaten by some of those rioters who stormed Capitol Hill. You suffered traumatic brain injury and a heart attack on that day as well, right?


BLITZER: So I know tomorrow you're going to be in the room when the House Select Committee meets. What will you be looking for?

FANONE: Well, I'm interested to hear about these tapes that they have and some of the emails from the Secret Service members. Obviously, it was pretty concerning to me when the inspector general's office went looking for them and they were nowhere to be found. And in some instances, it sounds like they had been deleted or erased. I know from my time in law enforcement that the preservation of communications and records is paramount.

BLITZER: It's really important indeed. You warned the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy I know last summer that the country could be heading for even more political violence down the road. I know you're really concerned about that. You recorded that exchange. I want to play it for our viewers.


FANONE: There is now a rumor going around that the FBI may have been involved in inciting the January 6th insurrection. I know that that is absolutely a lie. So I would also ask you to denounce that lie.

It's going to end up in another January 6th. This rhetoric is going to push us back into another violent political experience like we had on January 6th.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): If we don't handle it in a stable way.

FANONE: I don't -- I mean, unfortunately --

MCCARTHY: If we threat it like politics.

FANONE: The problem is it is political because it happened here on Capitol Hill, and it involved a political movement. It involved a group of extremist right-wing element of our American society, which was mobilized by politicians. And that's just a fact.

I'm not saying you have, but you understand that this is the rhetoric that's being utilized today. We need our leaders --

MCCARTHY: I understand the passion that everyone has. I think we're all headed towards the same place.


BLITZER: Michael, do you still fear that the whitewashing of January 6th by at least some Republican leaders potentially as laying the groundwork for yet another January 6th?

FANONE: Absolutely. I mean, you saw in that exchange what I was asking Kevin McCarthy, who calls himself Leader McCarthy. But in reality I think it's just a leader in name only. I was asking him to denounce the rhetoric that was being utilized by Republican politicians, elected members of our government, about the FBI's alleged involvement in January 6th as somehow it was a false flag operation or that they inspired the events that transpired that day.

And he could not get himself to denounce that. He felt as though it was too political. And then we saw violence against members of the FBI. We saw an individual go into an FBI facility with an AR-15. Fortunately, it didn't end up in any loss of life other than his own. But we see that direct correlation time and time again between rhetoric and real-life action.

BLITZER: Do you think Trump eventually will be held accountable?

FANONE: I don't know. I hope so. I think that the Select Committee has done an outstanding job of bringing to light evidence of the former president's conspiracy to defraud America in his lies about the 2020 election.

BLITZER: CNN law enforcement analyst, the former Washington, D.C. Metropolitan police officer, Michael Fanone, thanks for all your important work. Thanks for writing this new book. Thanks for joining us.

FANONE: Thank you, sir.

BLITZER: And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I am Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Please be sure to join us again tomorrow starting at our new time 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.