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Ukraine: Russian Forces Focused On Trying To Hold Southern Frontline. Putin Visits Newly Mobilized Russian At Training Ground; Russia Evacuating Civilians As Ukraine Forces Push Toward Kherson; Russian Ambassador To The U.S. Says Traditional De-escalation Channels Have Been "Demolished"; Inflation, Unemployment And The Midterm Countdown; Liz Truss Resigns As British PM After Troubled Six-Week Tenure; Sources: Allies Of Former PM Boris Johnson Believe He Could Be Truss's Successor; Trump Hires Lawyer Of Expected Subpoena From January 6 Committee; Trump Considers Allowing Investigators To Search Mar-a-Lago Again; Hospitals Overwhelmed By Surge Of Respiratory Illness In Children. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 20, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: So be sure to tune in for CNN tonight with Jake Tapper. Jake will speak with former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, exclamation point. That's tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. You can follow me on Twitter @johnberman or tweet the show @theleadcnn. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, fighting intensifies in southern Ukraine right now as Russia resorting to desperate measures to try to hold the front line. Vladimir Putin inspecting his troops and firing a rifle himself in a new wartime show of force.

Also this hour, President Biden is in the critical midterm battleground state of Pennsylvania, touting infrastructure spending, as many voters are stressed out about inflation and the economy. I'll ask former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers for his up to the minute assessment of the recession threat.

And new turmoil right now in Britain, after the Prime Minister Liz Truss abruptly announces her resignation after six short but troubled weeks in power. We'll get a read on the instability and what it means for the U.K. and the world.

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

All right, let's get straight to the new developments out there on the battlefield in Ukraine. We're tracking very fierce fighting and occupied territory, especially in the south, as Moscow's forces are trying to hold on. CNN Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen is joining us live from the war zone.

Fred, even the Russians now admit their troops are facing a very difficult situation.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Wolf, a very difficult situation and in a very tense situation, therefore, the Russian forces down in the south of Ukraine in that Kherson region. The Ukrainians once again continuing that counter offensive, that to them is so very important. Of course, the main goal that they have and still have is to reach the city of Kherson and that's exactly where the Russians have now started evacuating people from.

And also you're absolutely right, Wolf, the top general of the Russian saying for them, the situation down is very tense. Here's what we're learning.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): As Ukrainian forces press their counter offensive in the country south, Russia is resorting to what appear to be increasingly desperate measures in the areas they control in the Kherson region. Thousands of people waiting to be evacuated by boat. The puppet authorities installed by Moscow claiming they've already taken some 15,000 out of Kherson city.

Why did you decide to evacuate the reporter asks. I have a small child to take care of you see, the woman answers. Russia says its fairing these people to safety. The Ukrainian say these are little more than deportations.

Russia has imposed martial law in this and other areas of Ukraine controlled by its forces. The Russians say they are increasing the intensity of their mobilization effort. Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting soldiers outside Moscow and himself even firing a sniper rifle.

And Putin's continued aerial assault on Ukraine's energy infrastructure is starting to take a toll. Ukraine's authorities announcing the need for partial blackouts in most of the country as intense strikes on power plants continue using cheap kamikaze drones which Kyiv says Iran has provided to the Russian army. The spokeswoman for Russia's Foreign Ministry rejecting the allegations.

MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN (through translator): This is nothing more than a collection of unsubstantiated inferences and farfetched assumptions that Britain and France are trying to build into a structure. And every time it all collapses in front of everyone.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): But on Russian T.V., this military expert and Defense Ministry adviser seem to admit the origin of the drones not realizing as mic was hot, he tells the host --

RUSLAN PUKHOV, RUSSIAN MILITARY ANALYST (through translator): Let's not shake the boat too much. We all know that they are Iranian, but the authorities did not admit that.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): But the Russians are now admitting things are not going well on the battlefield. The top commander acknowledging his forces position in Ukraine south is, quote, "tense."


PLEITGEN: And Wolf, find an info that we got tonight, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he's accusing the Russians of mining a key dam down in that area. If the Russians did blow that up would lead to severe flooding that could also endanger that Zaporizhzhia power plant, which of course has been in such a precarious situation. Already the Russians have denied doing this. They say they would have no reason to do so. But as you can see, there's a lot of tension there right now and also a lot of fierce fighting going on as, Wolf.

BLITZER: Indeed there is. Fred stay with us. I also want to bring in Retired Colonel Cedric Leighton, he's a CNN military analyst. We're also joined by CNN Contributor on Russian Affairs Jill Dougherty.


Jill, how do you interpret this extremely rare visit today by Putin with these mobilized troops, notably, alongside his defense minister as well?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, RUSSIAN AFFAIRS: Yes, it was really a very interesting. I think, number one, you know, we've seen video of President Putin, the action man over the years, and there he was, you know, firing this rifle. But -- so that was interesting. But I think also the fact that he was visiting that base, and that base in Kherson is where the people who were being mobilized, which is very controversial, as we have been reporting.

Very controversial, the president was there looking at the kit that the soldiers supposedly get. And it was, you know, very thorough, it had kind of a pad for sleeping, weapons, shoes, boots, they looked at the boots, etc.

Why that's important is that if you listen, and you read Russian social media right now, a lot of families are saying those boys are going off to fight without adequate gear. And so there's a lot of concern about that. Families say that they have to buy their own gear for their guys. So, this is -- I think the he was trying to show, yes, I'm involved, and yes, this mobilization is going well, even though there's a lot of criticism.

BLITZER: And I know you're monitoring Russian social media, Jill. Thank you.

Colonel Leighton out there on the battlefield, Ukraine now says Russia's task, number one, their words, is holding on to the southern frontline. But Ukraine is also deeply worried about Russia relaunching and offensive in the north from the border with Belarus. What are you watching?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: So I'm watching both of those areas, Wolf, and of course the northeast where Fred is right now because what we're looking at is the possibility of the Russians trying to mount a three sided offensive against the Ukrainians. So they'd be coming from the north -- the northeast and the south. If they do that, that, of course, puts a lot of pressure on the Ukrainian troops, a lot of pressure on their ability to defend this territory. Can they do it? I think they can. But it's going to certainly tax their resources, and it will require a lot more help from NATO and the United States.

BLITZER: Fred, Ukrainians are clearly making some significant gains in the southern part of the country. But is it a different picture where you are right now?

PLEITGEN: Well, it certainly is. And you know exactly what Colonel Leighton was just saying there right now is what we can see play out on the battlefield right here. The Ukrainian saying they have an extremely difficult situation, especially in the Bakhmut area.

And you had Vladimir Zelenskyy, the country's president tonight saying the most difficult situation that Ukrainians face is right here, is in Bakhmut. That's because they're facing those very powerful, very brutal Russian forces from the Wagner private military company. They are seasoned battle hardened fighters who have been in Syria and other places, many of them and are now very effective on the battlefield here as well.

The updates that we're getting from the Ukrainians is that they're hanging on to Bakhmut, but it is very difficult for them, and it's strategically very important for the Russians. And that's what you're seeing them pour a lot of resources into this place. In fact, that Ukrainians are saying there were 20 airstrikes here just this past day alone as the Russians doing their utmost to try and capture this place, the Ukrainians holding up against them, but saying there are big losses on both sides, Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. Very interesting, indeed.

You know, Jill, Russia's ambassador here in Washington, the ambassador to the United States, says the traditional communication channels to de-escalate tensions between the two countries have been, quote, "demolished." The U.S. says that's not true. But how troubling is that remark from the ambassador?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I think it expresses Russia's concern that the United States continues to supply weapons to Ukraine. I mean, essentially, what the Russians are saying is, look, this is dangerous. We had this during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we do not talk with each other anymore the way we did even then, and so if you continue that United States, this is going to be very dangerous. Now the U.S. says President Putin is the one who was making threats about nuclear weapons. So I think, you know, that's partially what's going on. It's a sign that they are concerned, and they're trying to frighten the United States with what could happen if this doesn't stop.

BLITZER: Yes, as bad as it is right now, it could get a whole lot worse. So we're watching it closely.

Guys, thank you very much. Coming up, President Biden out there on the campaign trail today with less than three weeks to go before the midterm elections. Inflation here in the United States is up. Jobless claims are down. We'll talk about what all of it could mean with the former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. He's standing by live.



BLITZER: President Biden in his birth state in the battleground state of Pennsylvania this hour with less than three weeks to go before the midterm elections. CNN Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly has the latest for us.

Phil, the President is making his ninth visit to Pennsylvania this year campaigning for the Senate candidate John Fetterman. One thing we aren't seeing on this visit is a huge campaign rally a stage there. Tell us more?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's by design. And to some degree, it's a reflection of the president standing right now, a low approval rating. And while he's willing to go to Pennsylvania pretty regularly as you noted, Wolf, there's other battleground states for the President has not been visited. May in the weeks ahead, but so far to this point, places like Nevada and Georgia, the President has not visited in large part because Democrats haven't explicitly asked him to come down there.

And that gets to what the President's strategy has been in the strategy from his political team over the course of the last several weeks. There's a recognition that, A, the President is not one who's ever really relied on major campaign rallies like some of his predecessors. But B, the President's goal here is to try and address the issues that show that there have been things that have been accomplished, important issues and important policies that could perhaps bring prices down, whether it's related to infrastructure, whether it's related to, as you saw him take action related to gas prices yesterday, even large manufacturing pieces of legislation, the President tried to highlight those.


Smaller events, official events, not campaign rallies with local politicians and those running for office by his side, and then moving on to a more private setting for what is probably the biggest value add the President has brought over the course of the last several months, and that's raising money. He's raised 10s of millions of dollars for Democratic campaign committees, a recognition that while maybe rallies aren't necessarily the thing to drive voters, he can at least help finance those candidates in very, very tight races around the country.

Now, the President is expected to hit the road on a pretty regular basis over the course of the next couple of weeks leading up to those midterm elections. But there's one issue that he is grappling with both here at the White House and on the road, and that is the economy. It is the number one issue for voters. Obviously inflation tied very closely to that still at a four decade high. You saw the action, Wolf, on gas prices yesterday, that is the most tangible element that White House officials believe they can have some effect on from the White House right now and that they know consumers react to in a very real and visceral basis.

But when it comes to the inflation issue right now, there's limits if not anything the President can do over the course of the next 20 days. And I think even weighing over everything right now is not just the near term, but the longer term. When you look at the global economy at the moment, there are very real concerns, there's very real fragility. And White House officials believe the U.S. economy is in a better place than most, if not all other international economies. The reality at this moment is that there are certainly hard times ahead as shown by how the Fed is operated, and what the administration expects in the weeks and months ahead, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point. Phil Mattingly joining us from the White House, thank you very much.

U.S. unemployment claims have dropped to a three week low, but Americans are still feeling the pinch of rising inflation right now. Let's discuss this and more with the former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

Larry, thanks so much for joining us. How do you think the Federal Reserve looks at today's numbers on jobless claims as it tries to get a handle on rapid inflation here in the United States? Is the risk the Fed potentially could overcorrect?

LAWRENCE SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: Look, the Feds got a hard job. All of us have had the experience of taking a shower in some old hotel where there's a long lag between when you turn the faucet and when the temperature of the water changes. And when you're in that situation, you turn the faucet and you turn the faucet and nothing happens, and then all of a sudden you scalded yourself. And so it's hard to control any system when your steering wheel is operating with a lag. So certainly anything's possible with the Fed.

I think the best chance that the Fed has of maximizing employment through time is being firm and resolute and realistic about inflation. I think it's taken them quite a long time to get there, but I think that's where they are right now. And Chairman Powell is making clear his commitment to do what's necessary to contain inflation. Most of that has already happened. Mortgage rates were 3 percent, now they're 7 percent. I don't think they may go a bit higher, I certainly not going to go up anything like anything, even remotely approaching another four percentage points.

So we've seen most of the adjustment. And now what we're going to have to do is wait and watch and see how the economy plays out. And the Feds going to have to fine tune around the path that it has set.

If the economy is stronger than the cars going faster, then you have to hit the brake a little harder. If the economy is softening and slowing, then you're going to go back the other -- then you can go back the other way. And that's a judgment the Feds going to have to make as the data come in. But I think it's pretty clear now in an economy where the latest core inflation measures were close to seven and the interest rate is still three, that the path the Fed is on, the path of raising interest rates were certainly going to need some more of that.

BLITZER: But despite all of the steps that have already been taken by the Federal Reserve and the administration for that matter, as you know, a Fitch Ratings Report forecasts a recession here in the United States starting next spring, JP Morgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon, a man you and I know, predicts a recession within the next six to nine months. How soon do you do you, do you, Mr. Secretary, believes the U.S. could enter a recession?

SUMMERS: I think it's substantially more likely than not that we're going to have a recession next year. When next year it will start, I don't feel a confident view about. But I think it's certainly way better than 50-50 that we will have a recession next year.


And when we have that recession, no question about it, unemployment is going to go up. That is something that's inevitable in the economy. And once we saw ourselves get to inflation that was well above the 5 percent range, I think from that point on it became almost inevitable that we were going to have a recession.

BLITZER: Well, what are the chances this recession that you talk about and some of the others talk about now could actually begin this year, long before next year?

SUMMERS: I think that's relatively unlikely looking at some of the nearer term indicators, Wolf. Businesses tell various surveys about their near term plans for how much they're going to buy and how much they're going to spend. And those near term indicators are not pointing to a recession this year.

It's certainly true that we're seeing a significant contraction in new housing starts. But new housing starts are only a couple percent or less of the GDP. So, even if they fall off by a lot, that's not enough to push the economy into recession.

BLITZER: As you know, President Biden recently told our Jake Tapper that a slight recession is possible here in the United States. Will this be slight or do you fear a deeper, more entrenched downturn?

SUMMERS: Look, those start to be semantic questions. I certainly don't think it's going to be like the financial crisis or what Paul Volcker needed to do in 1980 or the terrible things that happened after the pandemic started. But I do think the unemployment rates likely to rise perhaps towards 6 percent. And, you know, that's a very real and not an easy thing. But I think what people need to understand is that it is better to do that sooner rather than to allow inflation to accelerate and allow everybody to expect inflation, at which point, you'll have a much greater set of difficulties.

BLITZER: So, Mr. Secretary, what, if anything, can the Biden administration do and the Federal Reserve do right now to avoid this recession you fear that could hit us next year?

SUMMERS: I think the Fed has to do what it need -- has to do what's necessary to contain inflation. I think the Biden administration could think about a range of measures to reduce costs, making it easier for business, for energy companies to start drilling or fracking for oil and natural gas. Reducing tariffs where that would mean lower prices and less inflationary pressure. Doing away with regulations, like the Jones Act, rules about shipping, that raise prices needlessly, for example, moving oil from Houston to Newark. We could get rid of all kinds of rules that require people who are going to manicure fingernails or cut hair, to have licenses, and that makes those kinds of tasks in short supply and makes them more expensive than they otherwise would be.

So, you know, during the period when we had inflation in the 1970s, Jimmy Carter and Edward Kennedy and Justice Breyer worked together to deregulate airlines, and that's made travel a lot more affordable, and it made a bit of a contribution with respect to inflation during that time. And I think that's the kind of thing that we need to keep in mind. But look, there are no silver bullets or miracle cures inside of three weeks.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

SUMMERS: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, the political earthquake in the United Kingdom as Prime Minister Liz Truss ends her trouble tenure after only six weeks.



BLITZER: We're following major political turmoil right now in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Liz truss resigning after just six weeks in office, making her the shortest live premiere in U.K. history. CNN's Max Foster has the latest from London.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Liz Truss resigned after just 45 days as Britain's Prime Minister, the shortest tenure in history in which markets have tanked borrowing costs have soared and poll numbers slumped for a governing party in utter disarray

LIZ TRUSS, PRIME MINISTER OF UNITED KINGDOM: I want to be honest, this is difficult.

FOSTER: Truss was made leader following Boris Johnson's departure, chosen by less than a 10th of 1 percent of the U.K. electorate. A sliver of the Conservative Party base, more right wing, older and whiter than the average voter.

TRUSS: I have a bold plan to grow the economy through tax cuts and reform.

FOSTER (voice-over): Any prospect of a honeymoon period was short lived. Queen Elizabeth died on Truss's second day in office. Alongside former Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, Truss champions right wing economic policy, announcing tax cuts for the rich and no cap on bankers' bonuses.

Perceived unfairness fueling public fury, as the U.K. began grappling with a cost-of-living crisis. The pound plummeted against the dollar and the Bank of England was forced to step in to shore up market confidence. 38 days into office, Truss sacked Kwarteng. Without her friends and ideological ally, the Prime Minister appeared defeated, labeled a lame duck, unable to unite her party, let alone the country.

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt came in as the new chancellor.

JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER: Firstly, we will reverse almost all the tax measures announced in the growth plan three weeks ago.

FOSTER (voice-over): Truss had already u-turned on cutting the top rate of tax and cutting corporation tax. Her credibility was now in tatters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two-year energy freeze, gone. Tax free shopping, gone. Economic credibility, gone.

TRUSS: Now I recognize we have made mistakes. I'm sorry for those mistakes.

LORD ROBERT HAYWARD, CONSERVATIVE PEER AND POLLING EXPERT: Probably one of the biggest errors that Liz Truss made was at the point she became prime minister, the only people she appointed were her supporters. It was a Cabinet of extreme loyalists.

FOSTER (voice-over): Truss's premiership was brief and chaotic. A former anti-monarchist turned True Blue Tory, a Remainer to Brexiter. Her spell as Prime Minister plagued by inconsistency and instability. A victim and architect of deep political misfortune.

TRUSS: I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party.


FOSTER: We now find ourselves in a position yet again that the Conservatives are trying to find a new leader who will be Prime Minister. Normally, the process takes months. There's no appetite for that. So they're trying to reduce it into a week. Three early front runners emerging on the left of the party. Rishi Sunak at the center, Penny Mordaunt and, yes, on the right, Boris Johnson, Wolf?

BLITZER: We shall see sooner rather than later. Thanks very much. Max Foster in London for us. Right now, I want to bring in CNN's Richard Quest for some more analysis. So, Richard, Liz Truss, as you know, as we've been reporting, of course, Britain's shortest serving Prime Minister in centuries. How did her party get into this mess?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: Completely by its own misfortune. This was an unforced error. Born out of arrogance, hubris, introducing economic policies that had no realistic chance of success. This because -- you know, whatever you might think of trickledown economics. The very time not to do them is when the country is about to go into recession, and government spending is going to go through the roof.

She didn't get that message quickly enough. And those who said -- who know her say it was simply because she was an ideologue. She believed in what this idea of turning the U.K. into Singapore on the Thames, fast growth, low regulation, everything that basically blew up in the party's face certainly

BLITZER: Certainly did. And as you know, there's an effort right now to try to fast track the process of replacing her. You just heard Max Foster mentioned former Prime Minister Boris Johnson's name. So what do you think comes next?

QUEST: All right, so I think it's an indication, Wolf, of the crisis, the complete shambles, that it is, that they've had to speed up the process. It should have taken maybe up to 12 weeks. Now they're going to do it in one week, because this is like lemmings. They are heading towards the electoral cliff if they do not show some degree of stability.

May be a couple of years, 18 months to the next election, but they've got this one last chance to put in place a leader and the Prime Minister. So Boris Johnson, well, it's more wishful thinking than anything else. He doesn't have the necessary support within his own MPs.

Penny Mordaunt, possibly, but arguably not well liked enough. Rishi Sunak, former chancellor, highly disliked by those Boris Johnson supporters because he knifed Boris Johnson. But Rishi Sunak is the one person who probably can sort of unite the party, and most definitely would enjoy the confidence of the markets.


BLITZER: We'll see if that happens. Richard Quest, as usual, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, we're learning new details right now about Donald Trump's legal strategy as he prepares for a formal subpoena from the January 6 Select Committee.



BLITZER: Tonight, former President Donald Trump is bringing on additional firepower to his legal team as he prepares for an expected subpoena from the January 6 Select Committee. Our Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is joining us right now. Evan, what are you hearing? What's the latest?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Donald Trump has brought on Harmeet Dhillon, who already was helping with some of his allies in this January 6 investigation. She is now going to be part of his effort to respond to the subpoena from the January 6 Committee, which could come at any time.

Obviously, the former president has at least publicly said that he is interested in testifying to the January 6 committee, but he wants to do it live and in public. We don't know that he's going to follow through on this and whether the committee would even try to do something like that.

Obviously, the committee, Wolf, is running out of time. And we know that some of the allies and at least some of the advisers of the former president, don't think it's a good idea for him to testify to the January 6 committee. We'll see what he does when the committee finally delivers that subpoena, which again, could come at any time.

BLITZER: And, Evan, I know you're also getting new information on a Georgia investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. What are you hearing on that front?

PEREZ: Right. This is the Fulton County District Attorney investigation. And Zach Cohen and Sara Murray and I are told, Wolf, that they've had the cooperation, at least -- a testimony from at least two important witnesses. The former Senator Kelly Loeffler, as well as Pat Cipollone, who is the former White House Counsel. You'll know, of course, that Loeffler was a very prominent supporter of the former president.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution, just in the last couple of days, published some text messages that appear to show her talking to people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, the congresswoman and others in the Trump circle, to try to coordinate efforts, to try to challenge the election results. Pat Cipollone, of course, is an important witness. He's already testified to the January 6 Committee, to the Justice Department's Grand Jury criminal investigation.

And in the case of the Fulton County grand jury, of course, they would want to know what he knows about what the former president was doing to try to overturn the election results there in Georgia, claiming that there was fraud, when of course, the Justice Department had already found that there wasn't that kind of fraud. Wolf?

BLITZER: Very important stuff, indeed. Evan, stay with us. We're also joined by our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger, Defense Attorney Shan Wu, and CNN Counterterrorism Analyst, Phil Mudd. Gloria, what is the hiring of this conservative trial lawyer tell you about how seriously Trump is taking this expected subpoena from the Select Committee?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, she's -- somebody well known to them has worked with the Trump team, has represented Michael Flynn, and it shows you that they feel -- and I think rightly so -- that no matter what happens in the end, that they need to find a way to engage with the committee, because they're going to have to engage with the committee.

This is private citizen, Donald Trump. He's going to be subpoenaed, and that could come very soon. And there has to be somebody who's the point person. There's another lawyer who will also be the point person for them, but they can't just leave it dangling out there. So they have to show their willingness to engage with the committee.

BLITZER: Yes, the Committee voted to serve Trump with a subpoena, but they haven't served it. At least not yet.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Shan, Trump's new lawyer also represents other witnesses who have appeared before the House Select Committee, including Michael Flynn, who took the fifth when he was there. What does that tell you about how she might counsel Trump?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it tells me, Wolf, that she is going to take a very aggressive defensive posture and, frankly, seems more like he's hiring campaign aides than white collar defense lawyers. And she also has a history of being quite outspoken about the election fraud. I mean, she was quoted as saying the Supreme Court should weigh in on it.

So she's highly partisan. And I think for her, the gameplan is relatively simple. Again, it's just delay, delay, delay. And the chances of seeing him actually appear and testify I think are pretty much slim.

BORGER: To none.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, Evan, Trump maybe stepping up legally right now, but it's been a week as we all know, since the January 6 Select Committee actually voted unanimously to subpoena him, and it still hasn't happened. What could be the holdup?

PEREZ: Well, we know, Wolf, that this committee has to have every single member -- every member of the committee to sign off on on things like this. So we know that, for instance, there were new developments yesterday with the judge out in California who, Judge David O. Carter, who said that the committee now has -- should get out access to some important emails from John Eastman, a lawyer for the former president.


So those are all things that are coming in and so we're told that they're preparing the subpoena, they want to make sure that everything is ready before they actually send it. And, you know, they want to be ready for whatever response he has. Of course, a lot of us don't expect him to actually appear before the committee in the end of this, but at least he's -- he, you know, hiring attorneys indicates that he wants to engage with them to try to figure out how to respond to the request from the committee.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. You know, Phil, we're also learning Trump's legal team is weighing whether to allow federal agents to search Mar- a-Lago down in Florida once again. Are they essentially hoping what for a do over?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think they -- I mean, this is like a student going into the teacher saying, hey, I never handed in homework in this semester. Do I get a passing grade if I had something in tomorrow? And the answer, Wolf, is no. I mean, there's some humor here after the lack of trust between the Department of Justice and Mar-a-Lago, obviously, about whether documents were actually there.

Why would the Department of Justice go into this conversation, assuming that they could trust the lawyers from Mar-a-Lago who might say, here's the day you can search, here's the rooms you can search. There's going to be fundamental distrust here. There's a second problem, and that is, why does the Trump team get to decide the pace of the investigation? Why did they get to decide when and where the Department of Justice gets to go?

And finally, the biggest problem I have with this, let's say there is an agreement, and the Department of Justice approves this, investigators go in and let's say two weeks, don't find anything. Two weeks after that, the Department of Justice and the FBI gets specific information about documents still at Mar-a-Lago.

What does the FBI do then? Go back Mar-a-Lago and say we want to search another time? That is a big problem. If I'm the Department of Justice, I'm saying you didn't do your homework before? The teacher gets to decide how this investigation gets to proceed. You don't. You're done.

BORGER: Look, I think they're just trying to figure out a way to deal with the Department of Justice. They know --

MUDD: Yes.

BORGER: -- the Department of Justice is going to be aggressive. Maybe they'll be ordered to let them in. So I think that what they're trying to do is say, oh, yes, maybe we'll let you in under these conditions. And I don't know if the Department of Justice is even in a go for that.

BLITZER: Good point. All right guys, thank you very, very much.

WU: Also, I will just add, that they can get some other information through -- sorry.

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.

WU: DOJ can also get some other information from the dialog as well. They may be getting little tidbits of information that may help --

BORGER: Right. WU: -- in, for example, probable cause or other search warrants.

BLITZER: We shall see. All right guys, thank you, once again.

Coming up, an unprecedented rise in a respiratory virus in children here in the United States. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us live with what parents need to know right now.



BLITZER: Right now we're following an unprecedented rise in what's called RSV, a respiratory virus that can be associated with severe disease in young children. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us right now. Sanjay, RSV cases are on the rise right now potentially putting enormous pressure on hospitals all over the country. What exactly are hospitals experiencing right now?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, a lot of hospitals are seeing numbers unlike they've seen before. I can tell you in Atlanta here, for example, two to three times the number of patients with RSV that they would typically see this time a year.

Let me give you a little bit of a snapshot here. Since sort of the beginning of August, over the last couple of months, if you look at sort of the number of daily RSV cases, you see that they've gone up significantly. This represents about 10 percent of the population of the country. So you can extrapolate that to the country, getting to some pretty large numbers of kids being diagnosed with RSV. Those are kids who actually get tested. The real numbers are probably higher than that.

But as you mentioned, there's some hospitals then where they're getting a lot of kids who are sick enough to then need hospitalization, sometimes need intensive care, oxygen therapy and things like that. Connecticut Children's Hospital, for example. Give you a sort of an idea there. Over the last 10 days, they've seen 100 patients with this diagnosis.

This is unlike any October, they typically have seen because typically these patients are seen later in the sort of season here, later in the year. So they're even talking about, Wolf, things that we've heard about over the last couple of years setting up mobile tents and things like that to possibly handle the surge. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that. But that's sort of the planning that's going on in hospitals, like Connecticut Children, and others around the country.

BLITZER: I'm told Sanjay, that this is a virus that most people get before the age of two, little kids. So how concerned should parents be right now? And what can be done to protect their children?

GUPTA: Well, the vast majority of children who get this will not need hospitalization, will not get that sick. It's particularly problematic for children under the age of one and for older people as well. That's used typically the most vulnerable. I think the -- you know, the real issue is that we're seeing so many patients sort of at the same time, and in different times of the year.

RSV, for example, Wolf, peaked in the summer last year, but typically it's a winter virus, and you'd get RSV and that would sort of dissipate and then flu and then dissipate. But now you're seeing things happening sort of at the same time. And that's led to this problem with hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

Within the first few days because being infected, these are typically the early sort of symptoms that people will see in their children. In very young children, it may just be as simple as irritability.


But, Wolf, we know the southern hemisphere had a higher than average flu season this year, that's usually a predictor of what's going to happen here. We know COVID restrictions have been starting to come off more and more. More viruses are spreading as a result. And there's something known as viral interference. COVID is in a law right now, which is allowing some of these other viruses to really emerge, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a really a worrisome development indeed. We'll stay on top of this story. Dr. Sanjay Gupta --


BLITZER: -- thanks very much for helping us.

Coming up, new twists out there on the campaign trail, with less than three weeks to go before the midterm elections.


BLITZER: Happening now, President Biden is in Pennsylvania, a midterm battleground state that could make or break the Democrats hopes of holding on to their majority in the U.S. Senate. We're following his events with Senate candidate John Fetterman and all the new twists out there on the campaign trail.

Also tonight, former President Trump is lawyering up again.