Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

CNN Witnesses Search Through Rubble Left By Deadly Kamikaze Drones; Prosecutors Urge Six-Month Sentence For Trump Ally Steve Bannon; GOP's Walker Defends Flashing Honorary Sheriff's Badge In Debate; Jury Sees Images Allegedly Showing Weapons Being Transported; Stockton, California, Police Arrest Suspected Serial Killer. Aired 6- 7p ET

Aired October 17, 2022 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're closing in on the start of a pivotal debate in the governor's race.

We're also following the newest controversy surrounding Republican Senate Candidate Herschel Walker now under fire for using a sheriff's badge as a political prop.

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

We begin this hour with a truly chilling firsthand look at the destruction caused by Russia's increasing use of kamikaze drones against civilian targets in Ukraine. CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is joining us live from Kyiv right now. Clarissa, tell us about what you've actually seen on the streets of the capital city there.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, scenes of absolute destruction, devastation, people fearful, people dying. And tonight, another impassioned plea from the president here, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying that, in a 12-hour span, Wolf, more than 30 of these Iranian-made Shahed 136 so-called kamikaze drones were intercepted as well as several cruise missiles, essentially, Zelenskyy begging the international community to give Ukraine more sophisticated and more substantial anti-aircraft weaponry to protect itself. Take a look.


WARD (voice over): A policeman takes aim at the kamikaze drone as it bears down on Kyiv. Nicknamed mopeds in Ukraine because of their distinctive whine, 28 were launched toward the city on Monday. The majority are successfully shot out of the sky but four break through, shattering the early morning calm in the heart of the capital.

So, you can see that's the railway station down at the end. The air is thick with the smell of explosives.

Investigators are already collecting evidence. Excuse me? Excuse me? It's a -- it's from the drone, yes? Where did you find it? So, they're saying that's the tail fin from the drone that hit.

The target, according to Ukrainian authorities, Kyiv's energy infrastructure, but one hits a residential building nearby with devastating results.

You can see at least one person has been killed. They're taking the body away now.

Rescue workers comb through the smoldering rubble. There have been reports of voices still alive inside. An extraordinarily lucky older woman is rescued from her balcony next door and bundled away to the hospital.

Up until one week ago, the city had been relatively calm. Now, Kyiv's mayor says the Russians' goal is to make life as miserable as possible for civilians as colder weather sets in.

MAYOR VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE: The Russians want to destroy right now the critical infrastructure of our hometown, water, electricity, heating.

WARD: What impact does it have on the psyche of the people of Kyiv that there are kamikaze drones now attacking your capital?

KLITSCHKO: Everyone is so angry. Everyone wants to defend their families, want to defend hometown.

WARD: As we prepared to interview a volunteer medic from Sweden, the air raid sirens start up again.

All right, we must be used to hearing that sound right now.

We move to take cover. Three cruise missiles have been reported heading in the direction of Kyiv. This time, they are intercepted by Ukraine's air defenses. But Kyiv's residences know that there will be more.


WARD (on camera): Now, Wolf, the Ukrainian foreign ministry has also released a statement saying that in last week, there have been 100 of these strikes from these so-called kamikaze drones on residential buildings, power plants, sewage treatment plants, bridges. All in all, according to the foreign ministry, one-third of Ukraine's energy infrastructure has been damaged. That is just in the last week. And that is why you are seeing Ukraine's foreign ministry coming out today calling for sanctions against Iran for supplying these lethal weapons to Russia, Wolf.

BLITZER: A brutal, brutal new phase. Clarissa, I know you've spent months reporting courageously from Ukraine during this war. Is the threat to Ukrainian civilians in the capital city of Kyiv, where you are right now, the highest yet? [18:05:04]

WARD: Well, Wolf, I certainly think it feels, you know, on par with what it felt like at the very beginning of the war. And it's important for our audience to remember for the last few months, life in Kyiv at least was starting to get back to normal. Things were relatively peaceful here. Businesses were open. People were out on the streets.

But in the last week, starting with those missile attacks, those savage missile attacks last Monday slamming into the capital and today with these multiple drone strikes again shaking fear into the capital, you are definitely seeing a shift. As you heard from the mayor, people are angry. This doesn't mean they're being cowed. It doesn't mean they want to stop fighting, but they are definitely shaken as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: They certainly are. Clarissa, stay safe. We'll be in touch. Clarissa Ward on the scene for us.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications. He's joining us from just outside the White House. John, thanks very much for joining us.

You saw that report from Clarissa on CNN. She's on the ground in Kyiv for us, Russia killing Ukrainian civilians, aiming to knock out heat, electricity, water. Is Putin's goal simply to make this winter as miserable as possible for Ukrainians?

JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: It certainly appears that that's one of his goals, Wolf. He obviously is targeting civilian infrastructure and the attacks in the last couple of weeks have clearly been at the energy sector to try to knock out the power and he's been somewhat successful in that regard.

I think it's twofold. I think it's, one, truly to impact civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and make it harder for them to subsist, certainly make it harder for the Ukrainian armed forces to communicate and to move around and support themselves, but I also think it's an effort to terrorize the Ukrainian people, to make them fearful, to push them to capitulate. And, obviously, from Clarissa's report, you can see that they're in no mood to do so.

BLITZER: Ukraine says it needs smaller, more mobile air defense systems to counter Russia's attacks with these Iranian made drones. What specifically can we expect from the next military U.S. aid package to Ukraine to help the Ukrainians adapt to this latest threat?

KIRBY: Well, you heard President Biden after his conversation with President Zelenskyy a week or so ago, saying we're going to continue provide them air defense capabilities, and we will. I don't have anything to announce today or get ahead of the next shipment, but I can tell you that from short to medium-range, we have been working closely to try to get them the kinds of capabilities that they need.

As a matter of fact, just last week in Brussels, Secretary Austin was hosting another one of his Ukraine contact group meetings, more than 50 countries, and two of them Germany and Spain, agreed to contribute now short to medium-range air defense systems so that Ukraine can better defend themselves. We've given them more than 1,400 stingers. These are short-range, shoulder-fired air defense missiles. We're going to continue to look for all kinds of opportunities to help them. We know that this is the predominant threat that they're facing right now we're taking that seriously.

BLITZER: Amidst this, John, as you know, Russia will soon be conducting long planned nuclear exercises. How high is the risk of miscalculation right now and how concerned is the U.S. that Putin could use this as a pretext to reposition nuclear weapons?

KIRBY: We're going to monitor this exercise very closely, as I think you can imagine we would. Because of the increased tensions, because of the bellicose and irresponsible rhetoric that Mr. Putin has been putting out there about the possible use of nuclear weapons. But everything that we see right now, Wolf, tells us that this is an annual, long planned, preplanned exercise that will be conducted along the same normal routine bounds, as they've done it in the past. They do this every year. We do these kinds of exercises ourselves. So, we're going to watch it closely. But right now, no indication that it will be anything other than routine.

BLITZER: Let's hope. Turning to Iran, while I have you, John, at least eight prisoners have now died after a massive fire at a prison infamous for housing political dissidents in Iran. Witnesses reported explosions and gunfire. Was this related to the protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini just over a month or so ago?

KIRBY: We really don't know, Wolf. I mean, it's hard for us to get ground troops on the ground in Iran, and particularly on this fire, this deadly fire in the prison. Obviously, our hearts and our prayers go out to all the affected, the victims and their families, but we just don't know.

What we know is that the Iranian regime continues to crackdown in a violent, reprehensible way on peaceful protestors in their country. We've called it out, we've condemned it. The president has done so from the well of United Nations and we have sanctioned Iranian officials and we're going to continue to hold them accountable going forward. Everybody should have the right for peaceful protest no matter where you live under what regime you're governed.

BLITZER: And a quick question on China, while I have you, John. President Xi Jinping delivered a major speech yesterday as he solidifies his grip on power in China.


Does the U.S. need to brace for an even more aggressive confrontational approach from China?

KIRBY: Well, we certainly hope that's not the case, and there's no reason for it to be. You saw, we released our national security strategy last week. We made it clear that we consider China's strategic competitor and we mean to compete. There's no reason for it to devolve into aggressiveness or open conflict. But we will make sure in every way, and it's right there in that strategy, that we're going to be able to defend our national security interests and we're going to be able to deal with the threats and challenges that emanate from the Indo-Pacific, including those from the PRC.

BLITZER: John Kirby joining us from just outside the White House, thank you very much.

Just ahead, we'll go live to Georgia where the first votes are being cast in a slew of key races, this amid new questions about GOP Senate Candidate Herschel Walker after his surprising debate tactics. Stand by.


BLITZER: Tonight, early voting is underway in Georgia, a state with some of the most closely watched contests in the upcoming midterm election. And we're less than an hour away from a critical debate between Republican Governor Brian Kemp and his Democratic challenger, Stacey Abrams.

Let's go to CNN National Politics Reporter Eva McKend.


She's joining us from Atlanta right now. Eva, the campaign is heating up in a slew of key races in Georgia.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: It certainly is, Wolf. You have a highly anticipated rematch in the governor's race, a Senate contest seemingly defined by daily twists and turns and a score of Georgians that turned out to vote early today, the first day you could do so in this state.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is time to get underway.

MCKEND (voice over): Georgia Republican Herschel Walker defending his move during Friday's Senate debate to pull out an honorary sheriff's badge from his hometown sheriff's department.

SENATE CANDIDATE HERSCHEL WALKER (R-GA): This is from my hometown. This is from Johnson County, from the sheriff of Johnson County, which is a legit badge. Everyone can make fun of it, but this badge give me the right, and let me finish, if anything happen in this county, I have the right to work with the police in getting things done.

MCKEND: The GOP nominee showed off the badge during a discussion over support for police as he faced off with Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is not allowed, sir. I asked you to put that prop away.

WALKER: Well, it's not a prop. This is real.

MCKEND: A CNN fact check found Walker has never had a job in law enforcement. The surprising moment leading Warnock today to subject the former NFL star not a serious candidate.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): The people of Georgia deserve a serious person to represent them at serious times.

I guess he expects the people of Georgia now to hallucinate and imagine that he is also a United States senator. He's clearly not ready.

MCKEND: Walker also facing fresh questions about reports he paid for a former girlfriend's abortion more than a decade ago. He's now acknowledging sending a $700 check to the woman but still denies it was for the procedure.

WALKER: This is still a lie because she's the mother of my child. So, you're going to send me a check, somebody giving a check. So, I'm saying it's a lie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know what this $700 check is for?

WALKER: I have no idea what that can be for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that your signature?

WALKER: It could be, but it doesn't matter whether it's my signature or not.

MCKEND: As voters remain concerned over the state of the U.S. economy and President Joe Biden's handling of the issue, Warnock deflecting questions about whether he would support Biden if he runs again in 2024.

WARNOCK: Part of the problem with our politics right now is that it's all about the politicians. And so I'm not going to do what the pundits want me to do. I'm going to do what the people of Georgia hired me to do.

MCKEND: GEORGIA voters up and out early, casting their ballots on the first day of in-person voting in the state.

Meanwhile in Arizona, a tight race for governor between Republican hopeful Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs. During an appearance on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, Lake refused to say she would accept the election results in November if she loses.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: My question is will you accept the results of your election in November?

GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE KARI LAKE (R-AZ): I'm going to win the election and I will accept that result.

BASH: If you lose, will you accept that?

LAKE: I'm going to win the election and I will accept that result.

MCKEND: In the battle for control of the House, a CNN poll of polls finds voters are evenly divided when it comes to which party's candidate they would support in their own district with 46 percent saying they would back the Democratic candidate and 46 percent saying they would vote for the Republican.


MCKEND (on camera): Key to remember, as I was speaking to voters today, they're not only concerned with these candidates' scandals and their various personalities but also about the issues. Top of mind for many, gun violence and the future of reproductive care. Wolf?

BLITZER: Eva, stay with us. I also want to bring in our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and CNN Senior Commentator, the former Ohio governor, John Kasich.

Gloria, you just heard Democrat Raphael Warnock suggest Herschel Walker is not a serious candidate. As early voting actually begins, are we hearing Warnock's closing message emerge and is it resonating, do you believe, with voters?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's hard to know whether it's resonating, Wolf, but I think it's a good closing argument for him to make. I mean, after all that has transpired during this campaign, whether it's about questions about whether he paid for abortion, whether it's questions about the fact that he's had children that he hasn't acknowledged, whether it's about the fact that he pulled out a badge that a lot of people say just really isn't real, it's a toy badge.

I think what Warnock is saying to people is, look, these are serious times. We're facing serious problems in this country. You need a serious senator from the state of Georgia. And by suggesting that he's unserious, I think you raise all these questions without actually having to say it. And it's probably a pretty good closing argument for him.

BLITZER: Yes, you're right. Governor Kasich, as Walker continues to create headaches for your party, you're a Republican, was his decision not to show up to last night's debate, was it the best interest of your party's as we move on at this point?


JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: Well, remember, Wolf, I'm an American before I'm a Republican, but it reminds me of when Donald Trump realized we were down to a fewer people. He didn't want to be on the stage with a handful of us debating. What this guy's doing, Walker, his people are saying, stay away from this, you did your one debate, you don't have to do it anymore. Let's just see if we can make it to the finish line.

Look, it's like a parliamentary system in Georgia right now. It seems like regardless of what anybody does, the reds are lining up for red and the blues for blue, but I think, Wolf, what we're going to see interestingly enough, as think we'll probably see a runoff in Georgia, I don't know that Warnock would be able to get 50 percent. It's very close right now. You could have a runoff. And then if that happens, Wolf, it's bar the door because they'll be spending trillions of dollars down there because it might involve control of the Senate. I mean, it is -- it's like a circus, isn't it, right now. It's unbelievable.

BLITZER: Yes, there will be a runoff in no one gets 50 percent of the vote.

Eva, I want you and our viewers to listen to former President Obama right now, who has a very interesting warning for Democrats. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: How does politics, how is it even relevant to you know, the things that I care most deeply about, my family, my kids, you know, work that gives me satisfaction, you know, having fun, you know, not being a buzz kill, right?

But sometimes Democrats are. It's like, you know, sometimes people just want to not feel as if they are walking on egg shells.


BLITZER: So, Eva, what do Democrats need to do to avoid being a buzz kill over the next three weeks in particular?

MCKEND: Well, look, Wolf, Democrats are facing a difficult midterm no matter what they do. And I think President Obama is uniquely positioned to make that argument because he's such a skilled politician. He could sometimes talk about hard issues but still do so with a smile on his face in a way that was palatable to many Americans.

I think as Democrats make their closing argument, they have to really focus on the issues and what they can do for people at this time where many Americans are struggling. That really is key to their election argument. I think more than anything else.

BLITZER: As you know, Gloria, President Obama is going to go down to Georgia and campaign in the coming weeks before the midterm elections. Do you think he's going to have a huge impact?

BORGER: Well, you know, Wolf, of course, he's going to have an impact. He's going to have huge crowds. But it's hard to say how baked it is already. People in Georgia may already have made up their minds, Wolf. They've been hearing about Herschel Walker and his issues. They've been hearing Warnock for a very long time now. And it's very hard to change people's minds on this kind of an election, which has been so polarized at the last minute.

I think Obama is always a great character witness to have particularly in a state, like the state of Georgia. So, I think he'll have an impact. But how much, who knows? BLITZER: Yes. I think what he can do is energize -- let me just point out, governor, what he can do, Obama, is energize that Democratic base and get turnout, which is so significant. Governor, go ahead.

KASICH: Thanks. But, Wolf, the election now is pivoting toward Republican positions on crime, something that we've ignored. Crime is a big issue, personal safety, economic safety, inflation. And you notice in the polls that abortion is not up at the high level that it was. It's really sunk. So, when you look at -- for now. But when you look at these issues, the issues are moving in the direction of the Republicans because they are concerned about crime and they know what they're experiencing with inflation.

So, that's why things are kind of swinging that way. But we've still got a ways to go, right, Gloria? We're not far from finished in this.

BORGER: We do. And I think what Obama can do is say, look, look at what Biden has done. He can talk about Joe Biden and say, look, your prescription drugs are going to cost you less. You're going to have better healthcare because of what the Democrats voted on. You're going to have better roads and bridges because of what the Democrats voted on.

So, he can really make the case issue by issue by issue for the Democratic Party, for Biden, for Warnock, in a way that a lot of other people cannot do, particularly in a state like Georgia where he can really motivate voters, as you're talking about, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, let me get Gloria to weigh in -- all right, go ahead, Governor.

KASICH: Just a chunk of that though is what these things will do for you and what people are dealing with is what have you done for me today.


BORGER: Absolutely.

KASICH: And these issues of crime and inflation and that, they're overwhelming issues.

I do think the margins in the House will not be as great as I originally thought they would, but I think Republicans will still win the majority, the Senate up for grabs.

BLITZER: Yes. What do you think, Gloria?

BORGER: Well, I think the Senate is up for grabs. So, I mean, it could be 50/50. Who knows? That's why Obama is heading to the state of Georgia because it's so pivotal.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens in Georgia. It's going to be a critical race indeed, could determine the majority in the U.S. Senate. Guys, thank you very, very much. Coming up, did the Trump Organization actually rip off the U.S. Secret Service with exorbitant rates for agents who were protecting the first family? We'll talk about it with a key Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger, he's standing by live.

Plus, federal prosecutors seeking the maximum sentence for former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon. Stay with us.



BLITZER: Tonight, former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon is potentially facing jail time and a substantial fine for refusing to talk to the House January 6th select committee.

CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray has details.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For defying a subpoena from the House January 6th committee --

STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: This is going to be the misdemeanor from hell.

MURRAY: -- Steve Bannon deserves the maximum penalty at Friday's sentencing, prosecutors say, asking the judge to sentence Bannon to six months behind bars and $200,000 in fines after he was convicted of contempt of Congress.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Steve Bannon is one of a handful of people who just blew us off and he's been convicted for contempt of Congress.

MURRAY: Prosecutors argue in their court filing that the rioters who overran the Capitol on January 6th did not just attack a building, they assaulted a rule of law. By flouting the select committee's subpoena and its authority, the defendant exacerbated that assault.

BANNON: Number one, I didn't want to have a meeting longer than five minutes.

MURRAY: BANNON'S team insists the right-wing media fire brand should only get probation and any sentence should be postponed pending his appeal of his conviction.

All of this as the January 6 committee plans to formally serve former President Trump with a subpoena for documents and testimony this week.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion.

MURRAY: Saying they hope he'll comply.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): He wants to clear the record. He will have an opportunity to do it. MURRAY: Despite Trump's clear disdain for the economy.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: These are hacks and thugs.

MURRAY: In the meantime, the panelists pressing ahead after last week's hearing.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The day before the joint session on January 5th, Secret Service was aware of increased chatter focused on Vice President Pence.

MURRAY: And seeking new information from the U.S. Secret Service.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): They said the vice president up to the Capitol, you know, a fairly small group of people to protect him into what was should have obviously been foreseen a potentially very dangerous situation.

MURRAY: New documents turned over to the committee and obtained by CNN showed the Secret Service and its law enforcement partners knew about violent rhetoric and threats into lawmakers on social media before the U.S. Capitol attack. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren saying they will ask former Secret Service Assistant Director Tony Ornato, head of Trump's Secret Service detail Robert Engel, and others to testify again.

LOFGREN: We are in a position in the very near future to call the witnesses from the Secret Service back in for a few additional questions.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, we also have news tonight from a House oversight investigation. The committee is saying that the Trump Organization, Wolf, charged the U.S. Secret Service exorbitant rates to protect the former first family. They're saying Trump properties charged the Secret Service more than $1.4 million over four years. Some nights, they charged room rates as high as $1,185 per night.

They pointed to one instance where they charged a U.S. Secret Service $1160 per evening at the former Trump Hotel here in Washington, D.C., to protect Eric Trump, one of the president's sons, while he was promoting a golf tournament. In a statement, Eric Trump said any of the resources were provided to Secret Service at their request. He denied that the costs were exorbitant, saying these rooms were provided at costs, heavily discounted or free, Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. All right, thanks very much, Sara Murray reporting.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, one of two Republicans on the House January 6th select committee, Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

I'm going the get to the latest on the select committee in just a moment, but, first, let me get your quick reaction to the news we just heard from Sara that former President Trump's company repeatedly overcharged the U.S. Secret Service to protect him and his family.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Well, on face value, it's very concerning. I want to know more, you know, what was the -- what was everybody else being charged. Were they specifically putting them in Trump properties for that reason? Look, no matter how you feel about it, they obviously need protected and they obviously can travel wherever they need to, but, certainly, this is something that should be followed up on. We want to make sure, in all cases, we're using government resources as best we can. I know in the military, if we were ever traveling around the U.S., we couldn't stay at a $1,100 hotel. That's for sure.

BLITZER: Yes, that's taxpayer money, to be sure.

The Secret Service documents provided to your select committee, Congressman, showed clear warnings that Trump supporters were, in fact, planning to target the U.S. Capitol.


Who ultimately bears responsibility for failing to prepare for that threat?

KINZINGER: Well, I think, ultimately, the responsibility, even for failing to prepare for that threat, is Donald Trump since he created. And then on the day of January 6th, still with that fire, when we go down further, though, anybody I think that had any of this intelligence should have rang the bell loudly.

Look, I was on January 1st. I remember I'm on a call with Kevin McCarthy and other Republican members and I said, look, there's going to be violence on the 6th. Of course, Kevin McCarthy dismissed me and thought that was overheated rhetoric.

But I think let's take all of this information we know, you know? We can cast some stones. We need to hold accountability, but let's also make sure the thing that we learned after 9/11, let's try to learn something like that again, which is these agencies have got to be talking to each other.

One of my concerns is less about -- well, I'm concerned that maybe they saw this intelligence, that there was going to be potentially violence and there's going to be an attack, and they dismissed it because these are Donald Trump's people, they would never do anything like this. You have to obviously question what if instead of that, it was replaced with like ISIS or extremist of some sort. So, look, we've got to protect this country. For all of us, it's the right thing to do.

BLITZER: Yes, a real, real intelligence blunder. They got the intelligence, they knew what was coming, but didn't do anything to prepare.

Your fellow committee member, Zoe Lofgren, says you'll be calling back several Secret Service agents to testify, including Tony Ornato. Based on the documents you now have from the Secret Service, congressman, do you believe they lied in their previous testimony?

KINZINGER: Look, it's not for me to say at this point whether they lied or not. There are some inconsistencies that we're going to pursue. There are a lot of questions, things they said earlier that maybe witnesses have countered.

Look, there is something regardless. There is something going on at the Secret Service, either pure incompetence all the way on the scale to potentially very criminal activity or, you know, just having a preference for one side or the other. And so we know that these text messages were deleted after these requests to preserve those documents came forward and there's a lot of answers we simply don't have.

They have made it clear through anonymous sources that they're willing to come in and testify. We want to hear them again, we want to talk to them and it's going to be under oath.

BLITZER: Do you want to elaborate on those inconsistencies that you mentioned?

KINZINGER: No, not too much, because I don't want to get out ahead of it, in part of when you talk to people and they ask questions, they may come in and have no idea what those inconsistencies are either. But, look, it's not -- I just want to make this clear. This isn't about trying to get anybody. It's about trying to present before the American people the truth as a democracy.

We can have bad days, January 6th was a bad day, but it's how we come back from those bad days that will define us as a country. It's can we take full accountability from what happened? From a congressional perspective, showing how we can prevent that from happening, giving the American people the truth. And now, obviously, DOJ has a real interest in that and that's where people would be held criminally responsible, which I certainly think there is some criminal liability. I would even say with the president of the United States because he knew what he was doing.

BLITZER: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thanks, as usual, for joining us.

KINZINGER: You bet, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we'll take you to the city of bridges for an in- depth look at new efforts to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure.



BLITZER: On the campaign trail, President Biden is touting new efforts to rebuild America's infrastructure in the wake of landmark legislation approved on his watch. CNN's Gabe Cohen takes an in-depth look at the bill's impact on Pittsburgh, the so-called city of bridges, after a stunning bridge collapse.


GABE COHEN, CNN REPORTER (voice over): January 28th, Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge, a mess of mangled steel and icy rubble after a collapse just hours before President Biden arrived in this steel city to tout the new infrastructure bill.

JON ATKINSON, PARAMEDIC: It looked like something out of a movie.

COHEN: Jon Atkinson, a paramedic, treated victims in that wreckage. Now, he's back to see Fern Hollow reborn.

ATKINSON: It's incredible, the progress that's been made in a relatively short amount of time.

COHEN: This is the bridge eight months later amid a rapid rebuild.

Crews are finishing the surface, hoping to reopen by year's end. The entire project paid for with $25 million from the infrastructure bill.

CHERYL MOON-SIRIANNI, PENNDOT DISTRICT EXECUTIVE: Had we not had those funds, we could not have started this project. There would be a hole in the ground, we probably would have removed the existing bridge and we'd be waiting to see when we could afford to build a new one.

COHEN: The first funds from the bipartisan bill are starting to make an impact nationwide with nearly $180 billion already allocated, not just for highway and bridge repairs, like Fern Hollow, but also for airport renovations, public transportation and clean water improvements, allowing states to begin clearing a backlog of critical projects and get new ones off the ground.

In Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is preparing to finally fix this bridge where nets and shields are keeping decaying concrete from dropping on to a playground and into Stacie Davis' yard.

STACIE DAVIS, PITTSBURGH RESIDENT: It kind of looms overhead. We kind of keep an eye on it.


We're not sure what's happening.

COHEN: Across town, the first phase of construction is underway on the city's longest bridge, where chunks of steel and concrete are falling into a sewage treatment plant. The department says the price to repair is already 23 percent higher than expected. That's inflation taking a big bite out of the infrastructure bill, with the cost of construction materials up 36 percent in two years, and labor of 10 percent.

In Pennsylvania, alone, inflation is eating up close to 75 percent of the gains from the bill which could force officials to delay less urgent projects.

The City of Bridges knows the cost of crumbling infrastructure.

It weighs on Jon Atkinson each time he goes to work.

ATKINSON: I would be lying if I didn't think that this could happen again as I'm driving 50 miles across these bridges. I hope this bridge is a sign of things to come for the rest of the bridges that we have here.

COHEN: Gabe Cohen, CNN, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


BLITZER: Thank you, Gabe.

Coming up, new evidence in the seditious conspiracy trial of members of the Oath Keepers including a picture of the founder meeting with the leader of the Proud Boys.



BLITZER: We're following the seditious conspiracy trial of members of the Oath Keepers. Prosecutors today telling jurors the group spent tens of thousands of dollars to build up an arsenal just ahead of the January 6th insurrection.

CNN's senior national correspondent Sara Sidner is covering the case for us.

Sara, tell us about the evidence reveal.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there is a lot of evidence, which is why this trial is taking the length of time that it is, upwards of six weeks is expected. Now what the jury saw today were some videos. And you're seeing still shots now from inside of a hotel that was in Virginia where this group, the Oath Keepers and an associate, brought a whole bunch of weapons. You see gun cases being carted around. You see them bringing in some very heavy, heavy boxes filled with something that prosecutors say inevitably were weapons.

And, so, you're seeing this evidence as it's coming into this Virginia hotel, and there are a lot of text messages between some of the members of this group that are saying that these are their cache of weapons for their quick reaction force, a force that was going to come in, according to the Oath Keepers, and be peacekeepers if Donald Trump was going to go ahead and invoke the Insurrection Act. Prosecutors say they were not peace keepers at all, but they planned to do violence.

Now we also saw the amounts of money that were being spent, particularly by Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers. He was spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on things like weapons. He was spending that as in the days leading up to January 6th, just a few days before, spending thousands on things like ammunition and scopes and different parts for guns. And so that was the concern of prosecutors saying this was them trying to create a cache of weapons for the inevitable violence that they planned to do to plan to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

And then, actually, we finally, heard the prosecution for the first time in this case over the last couple of weeks finally put together the Oath Keepers with other groups, saying here is a tie between the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. Let me let you see one of the texts that the prosecution showed the jury, and it is from Kelly Meggs.

And it says: Plus we have made contact with PB and they always have a big group. Force multiplier.

What is PB? The Proud Boys. And some of the Proud Boys, by the way, are charged with the same things that these folks are charged with, seditious conspiracy, Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm glad you're here in Washington covering this trial for us. Thank you very, very much.

SIDNER: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Sara Sidner reporting.

Up next, a suspected serial killer arrested as police believe he was actively searching for his next victim.



BLITZER: Police in Stockton, California, have arrested a suspected serial killer who they believe was, quote, out hunting for his next victim when he was apprehended.

CNN national correspondent Nick Watt has the latest.


CHIEF STANLEY MCFADDEN, STOCKTON POLICE: Our surveillance team followed this person while he was driving.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wesley Brownlee, 43 years old, lives in Stockton, now in custody, a suspected serial killer.

MCFADDEN: We watched his patterns and determined to early this morning, he was on a mission to kill. He was out hunting.

WATT: Five Stockton men were slain between early July and late September, all shot while walking alone late at night or early morning.

Lorenzo Lopez was the last. In the neighborhood where he was killed, his little brother Jerry paid tribute.

JERRY LOPEZ, BROTHER OF VICTIM: He was there for me. He was watching out for me. I wish I could have watched out for him.

WATT: Police now believe Brownlee's spree began in nearby Oakland in April of last year, with the early morning murder of a lone man. They say days later, Brownlee shot a woman in Stockton but she survived. Nothing was stolen from the victims and police said they found no gang connections.

REPORTER: Can you speak to any possible motive?

MCFADDEN: That I don't know.

WATT: Early October, police released this video of a person of interest, offered a $125,000 reward and asked the public for help. And tips, police say, did help lead them to Brownlee.

For weeks, this city has been --


WATT: Now, some relief.

RON FREITAS, INCOMING SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The suspect's reign of terror in our community has come to an end.

WATT: Relief particularly near where Brownlee was arrested around 2:00 a.m. Saturday.

BRENDA ODOM, STOCKTON RESIDENT: it's a very scary feeling and he was close to us. I'm so thankful to God that he was caught.

MCFADDEN: He was wearing dark clothing and had a mask around his neck and was also armed with a firearm when taken into custody. We are sure we stopped another killing.


WATT (on camera): Now, police say this killer would strike in quiet areas with few lights and few security cameras. Among his victims, reportedly a number of homeless people.

Now, the suspect, Brownlee, will be arraigned Tuesday afternoon. We should hear about some charges and maybe a little bit more about motive -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nick Watt, reporting, thank you very much.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. To our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.