Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Trump Team Responds To Subpoena From January 6 Committee; Obama Launching Ads For Lt. Gov. Fetterman (D-PA) In Key Pennsylvania Senate Race; Children's Hospitals Overwhelmed By Respiratory Illness Cases; Largest Mass Grave Found In Key Eastern City Exhumed; Race Is On To Replace Liz Truss As British Prime Minister. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 21, 2022 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, we just got a response from the Trump team to the January 6th select committee's new subpoena of the former president. We'll have details and we'll also get reaction from a key select committee member, Representative Zoe Lofgren, she is joining us live.

Also tonight, a day after appearing with President Biden, Democratic Senate Candidate John Fetterman is getting an assist from former President Barack Obama. Will it make a difference in the high-stakes Pennsylvania race?

And we'll also go inside children's hospitals overwhelmed right now by the surge in respiratory illness as more and more kids are getting sick and beds are running out.

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

We begin this hour with the new response from the former president, former President Trump's lawyer to the most aggressive move yet by the January 6th select committee.

CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray is joining us with details. Sara, so, what is the Trump team saying about this new subpoena from the select committee delivered to Trump today?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's now up to his legal team to grapple with how they want to respond. And in a statement from one of these law firms, they slammed the select committee for making the full subpoena public but said they will respond as appropriate to this unprecedented action.


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

MURRAY (voice over): That man, Donald Trump, now issued a formal subpoena from the House select committee investigating the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. Looking --

CHENEY: Both for his testimony under oath as well as for documents.

MURRAY: The committee writing, in short, you are at the center of the first and only effort by any U.S. president to overturn an election and obstruct the peaceful transition of power. The evidence demonstrates that you knew this activity was illegal and unconstitutional, and also knew that your assertions of fraud were false.

And laying out Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including pressuring Justice Department officials, touting false allegations of voter fraud and firing off this tweet, attacking Mike Pence during the riot, which the committee says incited further violence by publicly condemning your vice president. The committee calling for Trump to hand over documents by November 4th and appear for testimony November 14th.

They're calling for a broad range of records, including calls made by Trump or at his direction on January 6th, calls to members of Congress, documents related to the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers, communications about blocking the certification of the election, and anything on destroying materials or contacting witnesses. But it's unclear if Trump will comply.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They really want to damage me so I can no longer go back to work for you. And I don't think that's going to happen.

MURRAY: The former president tapping two lawyers to take the lead on responding to the subpoena and risking possible contempt of Congress if he ignores it.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): U.S. law is if you are subpoenaed by Congress, you are expected to come in and speak to us.

MURRAY: Meanwhile, Trump and the Justice Department still battling over documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

TRUMP: They should give me immediately back everything they've taken from me because it's mine.

MURRAY: But The Washington Post, now reporting among those documents seized include some of the most sensitive information the U.S. has on two of the biggest threats on the global stage, Iran and China. According to The Post, at least one of the documents describes Iran's missile program. And others detail highly sensitive intelligence work aimed at Beijing. Trump arguing, whatever the FBI seized from his Florida estate belongs to him.

According to court filings, among the documents Trump kept from his presidency are six clemency requests and a couple papers related to immigration and border controls. Prosecutors say those are federal records that belong to the government, offering a glimpse at how Trump lawyers and DOJ are locking horns as they sift through thousands of documents. TRUMP: They took it from me in the raid. They broke into my house.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, I also got a look today at what happens when you decide to just snub a subpoena from the January 6th committee. Trump ally Steve Bannon today was sentenced for refusing to comply with a subpoena for documents and testimony from that committee. The judge sentenced him to four months behind bars and a $6,500 fine. But he agreed to put that sentence on pause while Steve Bannon appeals his conviction. So for now, Bannon remains a free man.

I want to update you on one other Trump investigation. You know, we told you yesterday that South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham lost an appeal. He was trying to block a subpoena for him to appear before a special grand jury in Georgia investigating efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election.


Well, tonight, Lindsey Graham is still fighting that subpoena. He is now appealed to the Supreme Court, put in an emergency request asking them to block the subpoena. So, now we wait for the Supreme Court. Wolf?

BLITZER: We will wait and see what they decide. Thanks very much. Sara, stay with us. I also want to bring in CNN's Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and our Senior Legal Analyst, the former U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara.

Preet, lots of developments, as you just heard, tonight, but let's get to this historic subpoena actually delivered today to Trump's lawyers. Does this almost read -- and I've read all these pages, does it almost read like a criminal indictment of the former president?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there's a lot in there. There's a lot of information in there that was unnecessary. There's a phrase that we use in federal practice called a speaking indictment. An indictment does not need to contain all the probable cause that you bring to bear to the grand jury to bring a case against someone, but sometimes prosecutors feel the need to speak in the indictment and to put down facts and to connect the dots.

And you rarely see -- excuse me. You rarely see that with respect to a subpoena, but they did that here because they're not only playing to a potential court, ultimately if they have to enforce the subpoena, they're also playing to the court of public opinion. They want people to know from both sides of aisle that they're serious, the allegations are serious and the information that they're seeking is deadly serious.

BLITZER: You know, Gloria, the former president is obviously a master when it comes to delay tactics. Does he just have to run out the clock right now on the committee? What do you think?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that the committee is very well aware that he's not likely to want to testify before them or end up testifying before them. And so that's what this detailed document was all about today.

I mean, I remember back to the Mueller days when Donald Trump said, yes, I want to testify before Mueller, I want to get it all out there, and apparently he's saying the same things privately now. But his lawyers in the Mueller case, and I presume his lawyers now do not want to put him in front of a congressional committee, whether it's live or on tape, because they know about his penchant for not telling the truth and he could put himself at some risk.

So, you could run out the clock in many ways. One of them is to challenge the subpoena in court and then pretty soon it's December, whatever, and it's done.

BLITZER: Yes, we'll see what happens on that front.

All right, Sara, is Steve Bannon's sentence today a warning for the former president?

MURRAY: I think that the committee wants it to be a warning. I think the other thing that Steve Bannon's sentence sends a message about is you can't just get these subpoenas and sort of not really try to make an effort to engage at all.

We saw other witnesses, like Dan Scavino, Mark Meadows, who had more engagement with the committee behind the scenes, and, ultimately, the Justice Department decided not to pursue criminal contempt charges against either of those men.

I think what they saw with Steve Bannon was someone an effort someone who didn't pull documents together or didn't really make an effort to try to set a date or negotiate much of a date for his testimony, just sort of decided that he was covered by executive privilege and that didn't fly with the committee, it didn't fly with the jury and now he's facing a sentence. So, I do think they want to send a signal that you can't just sort of ignore this.

BLITZER: You know, Preet, what is the Trump attorney's response that we just learned accusing the select committee of flouting norms, what does that say about how aggressively Trump could actually fight this?

BHARARA: Well, he fights everything very aggressively. I smile for a moment because the idea of someone who's a representative of Donald Trump blaming other people on the trampling of norms is kind of ironic and silly and ridiculous.

And, by the way, there's lots of things you and I have discussed over the last couple of years that, in fact, unprecedented. Certain actions Congress has taken, certain actions that certainly the former president has taken. This is unusual. It's rare. It's not common. But to issue a subpoena to a former president is not without precedent. It's happened before. And former presidents have come and testified before committees in Congress. So, it's a lot of talk. I don't know that much will come of it. BLITZER: Sara, I want to quickly turn to Senator Lindsey Graham. I want you to watch and our viewers to watch what Georgia's secretary of state told me just after the 2020 election about his phone call with Senator Graham. Listen to this.


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I asked if the ballots could be matched back to the voters. And then I got the sense it implied that then you could throw those out. And, really, we look at the counties with the highest frequent error of signatures. So, that's the impression that I got.

Well, it's just an implication that you look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.


BLITZER: How key, Sara, is Senator Graham's testimony to this investigation?

MURRAY: Well, you know, that is certainly one of the conversations that they want to be able to ask Senator Graham about.


They want to be able to ask him about his communications he had with the Trump campaign. And I think it's very clear that we've seen from Graham's litigation strategy that he really does not want to testify. I mean, the lower courts have said, look, if you are making an effort to try to sort of cajole, to try to pressure Georgia officials, that is not covered by your job as a U.S. senator. We're not going to let you dodge answering questions about that. So, now we're waiting to see if the Supreme Court agrees with that or if they decide to intervene.

BLITZER: Sara Murray, Gloria Borger, Preet Bharara, guys, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, stay with CNN for an in-depth investigation of Steve Bannon and his plan to reshape the U.S. government and the Republican Party. The CNN special report, Divided We Fall, airs later tonight, 11:00 P.M. Eastern.

Just ahead, is the January 6th select committee prepared for Trump to fight the subpoena? I'll ask Committee Member Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren what she expects the former president to do next. Lots going on. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: A subpoena from the January 6th select committee has now been sent to former President Trump, eight days after the panel's dramatic and unanimous vote to formally demand his testimony.


And tonight, the Trump team is responding.

Joining us now, Representative Zoe Lofgren, a member of the select committee. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

Do you really expect to get substantial cooperation from the former president on such a broad subpoena that was delivered today with your committee clearly now winding down its work?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, we hope to. He has a legal obligation to come in and talk to us, just as importantly, he has a legal obligation to respond to the documents that we've ordered him to produce, all of which are important to finishing our investigation. So, let's see if he lives up to what the law requires of him.

BLITZER: Would you and your colleagues on the select committee, Congresswoman, be open to having the former president testify live before your committee if he were to offer that?

LOFGREN: Well, that's subject to negotiation. But first we need to hear back from him. As you know, we've asked for the documents first so that we can consider what additional questions we may wish to pose to him. We're waiting to hear back, obviously, we didn't find out who -- who his lawyer was until yesterday morning to send this off. And we would like to hear back from them. And, hopefully, they will respond positively. And then we'll work this out if they respond positively.

BLITZER: What would you do if Trump follows the example of Mark Meadows, his former White House chief of staff, and provides somewhat limited, limited cooperation?

LOFGREN: Well, we'll have to discuss that. I mean, there were various witnesses or potential witnesses that cited executive privilege. Obviously, that's not a privilege that the president would assert. We do believe that the attorney/client privilege that Judge Carter shot down is inappropriate for many of these questions that we have asked in documents. So, we'll just have to see. If he, you know, asserts some privilege to some of it. We'll evaluate that. But we expect to hear back from him, and the sooner, the better.

BLITZER: The former president's attorneys responded to the subpoena today accusing your committee of, quote, flouting norms by releasing the subpoena. What's your reaction to that?

LOFGREN: Well, I'd just like to say a lot of former presidents have testified before Congress, starting with John Quincy Adams, John Taylor, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, they all came to Congress and testified after they left office. So, I don't see why Mr. Trump would think he was more important or more special than those prior presidents.

BLITZER: Trump's longtime adviser, Steve Bannon, as you know, he was sentenced today for refusing to cooperate with your committee's subpoena. But that legal fight took almost -- took, I think, more than a year. Does the committee right now have a strategy to prevent Trump from repeating those various delay tactics?

LOFGREN: Well, you know, we'll get to that if he refuses to comply with this subpoena. But, obviously, the Bannon matter was extended a great deal of time because of legal fights about whether he had executive privilege, which we thought was bogus. That would not be an issue with the former president. And so if there were an action, it would proceed, I think, promptly, not this extended kind of frivolous litigation about executive privilege.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thanks so much for joining us. I know you have a lot going on. We appreciate it very much.

LOFGREN: Thank you. Bye-bye.

BLITZER: Bye-bye.

Coming up, a new injection of star power in one of the races that will decide control of the United States Senate. We're going live to Pennsylvania where Democratic Candidate John Fetterman is getting new help right now from former President Barack Obama. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLITZER: The clock is ticking towards the midterm election with just, what, 18 days to go. President Biden is making a new prediction aimed at raising Democrats' hopes.

Let's go to our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly. Phil, the president says he believes momentum will shift in the Democrats' favor in the final days before the election. What's behind that confident declaration?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, optimism behind political analysis is a bit of a risky game. We've seen that over the course of the last several election cycles. But the president hinting that he believes that Democrats will soon have the momentum back behind them. Part of the reason he pointed to, one of their critical vulnerabilities, the economy. It seemed to be an implicit nod to the fact gas prices have once again started to drop, a critical component. White House officials view of how the midterms will end up. This was how the president framed things.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: It's been back and forth with them ahead, us ahead, them ahead, back and forth. And the polls have been all over the place. I think that we're going to see one more shift back to our side the closing days.

The election is not a referendum, it's a choice. It's a choice. And the Republican criticized my economic record, but look at what I've inherited and what I've done, and look what they're offering.



MATTINGLY: And, wolf, the president's remarks were sharper in a political context than we've really seen up to this point, something aides say he's going to continue to ramp up in the days and weeks ahead, but will also continue to focus on very specific policy issues that the White House feels could help boost turnout amongst some groups, today speaking about student loans, his executive order to cancel student loans for some borrowers up to $10,000. Very clear that the White House has seen something that makes them believe that for young voters, particularly young black voters, this could be a big issue. It's one of a myriad they're weighing right now, but the president seems to have some optimism just a few weeks out, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see what happens. Phil Mattingly at the White House for us, thank you very much.

Let's bring in our correspondents in some of the key midterm battleground states. Jessica Dean is joining us from Pennsylvania, Eva McKend is in Georgia, also joining us, our Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein.

Ron, you just heard a very confident President Biden predicting the polls will shift back for the Democrats before the midterm election in less than three weeks. Do you think he's right about that?

RON JOHNSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the part that he's definitely right about is that he really put his finger on the central dynamic in this election. Is it a referendum or is it a choice? Traditionally, Wolf, as you know, midterms have mostly been a referendum on the party in power. And when people are as dissatisfied with the economy and the president's approval rating is as low as it is right now, traditionally, his party has done very poorly in the midterm.

For a period of months over the summer, Democrats seemed to be defying history, defying that political gravity by focusing voters on the choice, not only what Democrats have done with power but what Republicans would do with power. The challenge they have in the final weeks, as you get to that last strain of voters, who are only now checking in, they don't tend to be tuned into arguments like that, on abortion or democracy, on guns. They do tend to be voters who focus on the immediate conditions in the country and that is the wall that Democrats are running into right now. How do you move those last few points of voters who are dissatisfied with inflation, with the economy and with Biden's overall performance?

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Jessica, you're in Pennsylvania, where President Barack Obama is out with a new series of ads in support of Democrat John Fetterman. Let's listen to a part of his message. Listen to this.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: You've got some important choices to make this year, including who represents you in the U.S. Senate. That's why I'm asking you to vote for John Fetterman this Election Day, November 8th. So when the fate of our democracy and a woman's right to choose are on the line, I know John will fight for Pennsylvanians. You can count on John Fetterman. Make sure he can count on you.


BLITZER: So, what do you think, Jessica? Will that endorsement carry a lot of weight with Pennsylvania voters?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is certainly the very high profile surrogate. And I can tell you from being here the last four days, the airwaves are flooded with ads. When it goes to commercials, that is all people are seeing here in Pennsylvania and the commonwealth.

But I'm also talking to people here on the ground. What I am hearing from people, we were specifically with women in the suburbs right around Philadelphia, those are some really critical votes because they've been known to go both ways. They'll vote for Republicans or Democrats. So, we've seen John Fetterman and his Republican rival, Mehmet Oz, really zeroing in on those because we do anticipate, this look slike, according to polling, a very tight race. So, anywhere they can get an edge, they're certainly looking for it.

And when it came to what the women were telling us, they told us they were looking at the economy, they're telling us they're looking at crime and they're looking at abortion rights. And, of course, you heard from former President Biden in that ad, abortion rights very, very much being emphasized by Democrats in their closing he message to voters.

And on the opposite side of that, we're hearing a lot of talk about crime from Mehmet Oz in his ads and safer communities, Fetterman really trying to counter that as well, holding some smaller gathering this weekend with women in the suburbs, with people like Senator Amy Klobuchar. They're going to get together and talk about what they're calling some kitchen table issues, like gun safety, like the economy.

But as Ron mentioned, a lot of people just now clicking in, those voters that haven't made up their mind, and there are still some of those. We did talk to them. They seem like unicorns but we did find a few of them. They are clueing in right now. And what is immediate to them is that things cost a lot more at the grocery store and that gas prices are what they are.

So, the question is kind of that push/pull. Will it be those issues, will it be abortion rights and democracy? That's really the question that we're looking at here in Pennsylvania and across the country.

BLITZER: Good point. Eva, you're in Georgia tonight. You've been there for several days now. Former President Obama will be campaigning with Democratic candidates there next week. Is his star power going to make an impact on the close races being fought there?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Wolf, star power is always a lot of fun on the campaign trail. [18:30:01]

Actress Kerry Washington will be campaigning with Democratic Candidate Stacey Abrams tomorrow. But Republicans will attack them for this. You know, with Obama coming, they're asking, well, where's President Biden? They have poked at Stacey Abrams, calling her Celebrity Stacey, arguing she is more concerned with her Hollywood connections than she is everyday Georgians. I asked her about this, this week, and she said it's actually good she has these relationships with the entertainment world because they are such a pivotal industry to this state.

That being said, Democrats are doing what they need to do to try to wake up the base here and, I think, employing these surrogates as part of that strategy. And, honestly, if Republicans had a deeper bench of celebrities to select from to be out here on the campaign trail, I wonder if they would deploy them as well.

BLITZER: Yes. A lot of movies have been filmed in Georgia in recent years and creating a lot of jobs down there. All right, guys, thanks very, very much.

Just ahead, a common respiratory disease is spreading at a truly alarming rate right now among children here in the United States. And now, some hospitals are actually running out of pediatric beds. What you need to know about this virus.



BLITZER: A common respiratory virus known as RSV is spreading so quickly among children here in the United States that pediatricians are starting to get overwhelmed by the sudden spike in cases.

CNN's Brian Todd is over at Children's National Hospital here in Washington. Brian, this particular hospital, I take it, is expecting to be at capacity, what, for some time?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Hospital officials here told us that this afternoon, and it's like that all over the country. One prominent doctor at a hospital in Massachusetts tells us that they haven't seen respiratory virus hospitalizations at these levels even during the COVID pandemic.


REBECCA, MOTHER OF FIVE YEAR OLD WITH RSV: A drive to the emergency room was really scary and really intense.

TODD (voice over): This mother of a 5-year-old, who was hospitalized with difficulty breathing, told us of an anxious drive to the emergency room.

REBECCA: Things got worse since we were admitted. I've seen starting last night that he's progressively having a harder time breathing. DR. RUTH KANTHULA, PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASES SPECIALIST, MEDSTAR GEORGTOWN: RSV is one of the scariest infections to see in a child, especially when it's in your baby. So, you'll see your baby breathing really, really fast and you feel like there's nothing that you can do.

TODD: Around the country, doctors are reporting a spike in cases of RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, a common respiratory illness that is occasionally severe in babies and young children. Pediatric hospital beds are more full now than they've been in the last two years. Some children's hospitals are overwhelmed, scrambling to make space, using tents, and it's only October.

Why is it spiking this year? Experts say one key reason is because kids are back in school after the pandemic. Many children haven't built up their immune systems and masks and social distancing are a thing of the past.

KANTHULA: So, for these kids, this is the first time they're seeing a lot of these viruses.

TODD: RSV symptoms sometimes seem similar to cold and flu, runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, wheezing and fever.

KANTHULA: You should think about bringing your child to the emergency room when you notice your child is having what we call respiratory distress or increased work of breathing. And so that's typically characterized by breathing really fast and a difficulty catching their breath.

DR. JIM VERSALOVIC, PATHOLOGIST-IN-CHIEF, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: That should be an alarm for any parent. We can see this disease rapidly progress, that children need attention quickly.

TODD: There's no vaccine and no specific remedy but severe cases can be treated in a hospital with fluids, oxygen or even a ventilator, and ice packs to bring down the fever.

ZOEY GREEN, MOTHER OF FOUR MONTH OLD WITH RSV: I don't know how, but she slept with those ice packs on top of her.

TODD: This four-month-old Lindy Green (ph) was taken by ambulance and admitted at Cook Hospital in Houston.

JEFF GREEN, FATHER OF FOUR MONTH OLD WITH RSV: Started running a pretty significant fever, not eats as much.

TODD: Doctors say, to avoid RSV, clean surfaces in your home, have kids wash hands, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, don't share things, like toys or cups, and avoid close contact, like kissing or cuddling. For cases that don't require hospitalization, keep a child hydrated and give Tylenol or Motrin if they have a fever.

KANTHULA: Day five is peak of symptoms. So, parents will notice that their child might be more uncomfortable at day five. And then their symptoms resolve and they get better.


TODD (on camera) : Dr. Ruth Kanthula says what worries her about this uptick in RSV cases is that, unlike in previous years when the virus was seasonal and predictable, this time, she says, it has the potential to circulate beyond next spring when it might normally subside and possibly extend even into next summer or even beyond. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us outside Children's National Hospital here in Washington, Brian, thank you very much.

I want to discuss further what's going on, this troubling trend. Our medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen, is joining us. Dr. Wen, thanks so much for joining us.

Are these cases of RSV, the surge that's going on right now, do you expect things will continue to get worse over the next few weeks or even months for that matter? And if yes, why?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We don't know because we've already seen a very atypical RSV season. Normally, we see RSV cases peak in November or December, but now we're seeing a lot of cases in September/October, really overwhelming hospitals, as Brian described. And we even saw an uptick in cases last April.

So, a lot of this is due to lack of baseline immunity our children just have not been exposed to RSV.


And so the pandemic babies, like mine, who are born during the pandemic, would have normally had RSV but didn't, and so they're getting it now. And you add that on top of the other babies who normally would have gotten RSV anyway, and that's why you're seeing so many cases.

So, I think my big worry coming into this winter is that we could have a convergence of RSV and flu and COVID and other respiratory viruses. And so let's do everything we can with the protection measures, which is make sure you get your flu vaccine and your COVID booster if you're eligible.

BLITZER: Once a child is hospitalized, Dr. Wen, what are the treatment options and what is the prognosis for most children?

WEN: The treatments that are available are what we call supportive treatments, meaning that there is no specific antiviral treatment that targets RSV, but there are supportive treatments, oxygen, fluid to make sure that the child keeps being hydrated. Sometimes there could be nebulizers that may be used in specific children, sometimes children who get very ill may need to be on a ventilator. And so all this is reason for us to be concerned about the lack of beds that are happening and the lack of space that's happening in some hospitals around the country.

BLITZER: It's so concerning, indeed. And for parents caring for a child with RSV at home, Dr. Wen, how do you know when a child needs to be hospitalized?

WEN: This applies not just for RSV but also for many other respiratory infections. Most of the time RSV causes very mild symptoms and parents may not even know their kids have RSV. They just know that they have some type of respiratory infection. So, I think that's important to put out there that most RSV cases are going to be very mild.

But for any respiratory infection, you would generally worry about two things. One is if there is respiratory difficulty. So, fast breathing, using other muscles to breathe, if the head is bobbing, if you see that the -- that there's belly breathing going on, the nose is flaring, there is wheezing, grunting, you'd worry about that. Also if the child is not taking in enough hydration, that particularly applies to babies who, if they have stuffy noses, may not be feeding. And so if there's a decrease in wet diapers, if there's fatigue in a child, those are all reasons to call the doctor. And if there's difficulty breathing, that could be really urgent.

BLITZER: Indeed, it could be. Dr. Wen, thanks so much for helping us what's going, not a nice situation.

Coming up, 146 bodies exhumed from a mass grave in Ukraine after Russian forces were actually driven out, the majority of them, civilians.



BLITZER: Right now, there are new signs of Russian atrocities in Ukraine. A hundred forty-six bodies exhumed from a mass grave, many showing what police say are signs of a, quote, violent death.

CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward is joining us live right now from inside Ukraine.

Clarissa, what are you learning about the bodies found?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Wolf, these bodies and this mass grave were found in the city Lyman. The Ukraine forces took it back just weeks ago. And it really paints a very grim picture and one we've seen in other parts of the country, too, unfortunately.

According to Ukrainian authorities, as you mentioned, 146 bodies found in this mass grave, but 111 of them are reportedly the bodies of civilians.

And according to this report, some of those civilians were killed by shrapnel or shelling. Some of them also died from natural causes, and others, and they don't get into details, they say, died, quote, a violent death. A CNN team was on the ground in Lyman shortly after it was taken back by Ukrainian forces. They describe seeing a number of bodies in that grave that had their hands tied behind their backs, bound, if you will. And again, this is something that has become an all-too familiar

pattern of sort of brutality, mass graves in these areas that are held by Russian forces for protracted periods of time, Wolf.

BLITZER: On top of all that, Clarissa, Ukrainian officials are also warning tonight that Russia may actually blow up a huge dam in Kherson. How devastating would that be?

WARD: It would be absolutely devastating, Wolf. This is the Kakhovka Dam. It is a critical piece of civilian infrastructure. As you know, there's been a back and forth for several days now with the Russians saying the Ukrainians are planning to blow it up, with the Ukrainians saying they believe the Russians are planning to blow it up.

Well, tonight, we're getting more information from intelligence officials in the Ukrainian Defense Department and they are basically saying that the Russians actually mined the dam some time ago, but recently, they're seeing an uptick in activity. They say there are two vehicles, they call them trucks, unmanned, tented military trucks, laden with explosives that have been placed around the dam.

They also say there have been mines placed along the slew skates. What their real fear is the objective is not to sort of destroy the dam, create flooding, have issues with water pressure as a result, but also to target by extension the adjoining hydroelectric plant. So, it really would be a disaster if that were to happen, Wolf.

BLITZER: Clarissa Ward on the scene for us in the war zone in Ukraine. Thank you very much. Stay safe over there.

Joining us now, Garry Kasparov. He's a human rights activist opposing the Putin regime as well as chairman of the Renew Democracy Initiative, and a former world chess champion.


Garry, thanks very much for joining us.

Amid these Russian atrocities that we're hearing about, the Russian defense minister spoke to his American counterpart today, this is only the second time since the war started. And this comes after that minister appeared alongside Putin with mobilized Russian troops. How do you interpret -- how do you interpret these developments?

GARRY KASPAROV, CHAIRMAN, RENEW DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE: I wish we knew what was the contest of these conversations. I think the secrecy always benefits dictators. And I wonder whether it was a conversation initiated by Americans, by Secretary Austin, Pentagon, or by Russians, and whether it was warning by Americans to Russians not to do something crazy, or a warning from Russians to Americans that they will do something crazy.

I feel very uncomfortable that Secretary Austin talks to a war criminal. And I will assure you he is a war criminal, as will everybody surrounding Putin. And we are still guessing what was the subject of their latest conversation. BLITZER: We're told that the U.S. side initiated the specific phone

conversation today. But we'll learn more about it in the coming days.

I don't know you if you heard, but the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell today tried to reassure Ukraine after the House Republican leader suggested there won't be an appetite to give a, quote, blank check if the Republicans were to win control in the U.S. Congress of the midterm elections.

How do you think Putin is watching all of this divide? What do you think he's saying and what do you think he's doing?

KASPAROV: Oh, absolutely he's enjoying it because that's his only chance. So I believe there's the fight inside GOP now. It's either Reagan's party or Trump's party. So far, we saw Trump's element has been winning the debate. And I guess McConnell understands that it's very important to give some credentials of Reagan's party alive.

And that's Putin's only hope to see the breaks in the coalition, whether in the United States or in Europe because he knows the war is lost, and it could take three, four, five, six months, eight months. But Russia eventually will go bankrupt.

And his only hope, the silver bullet, is dramatic change -- political change in Europe and the United States throughout winter, because winter will be cold, and there will be energy crisis and food crisis that Putin has been generating. And he thinks that that's the only chance to change the public opinion and political mood in the free world to stop supplying Ukraine.

BLITZER: So, on that note, Gary, is Putin doubling down on this war right now heading into what's expected to be a brutal winter?

KASPAROV: Absolutely. Putin has not ceased his original plan to destroy Ukraine's statehood. Everything he's been doing and recently no matter what the material cost, human cost, Russians, Ukrainians, whatever.

So he doesn't want to -- he knows there's no way back. He's not going to back down. And it will be a brutal winter. And that's why I hope that the Biden administration will intensify military supply to Ukraine, for instance, drones. Iran has been supplying Russia with drones that are causing huge problems to Ukrainians. And I don't understand why Americans are holding back.

BLITZER: Garry Kasparov, thanks so much for joining us.

KASPAROV: Thank you for inviting me.

BLITZER: We'll have more news just ahead. Who will Britain's next prime minister be? And will the successor to the current prime minister be able to pull the country out of its economic turmoil?


[18:57:57] BLITZER: The race is on to see who will be Britain's next prime minister following Liz Truss's sudden resignation. Britain's conservative party will vote on Truss's successor by next Friday.

CNN's Richard Quest is following all these developments. He's joining us live from London right now.

Richard, are we any closer to knowing who the next prime minister might be?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: No, no, no, not at all. We haven't even got the end of the nominations we happened over the weekend. You've got to get a hundred nominations or a hundred sponsees.

The only person we know who is in the race is a woman called Penny Mordaunt. She came third last time. I don't think she stands a chance of all the way and getting it.

Looking at that chart there, Rishi Sunak is the one to watch. He is the former chancellor, former finance minister. Tonight, it's reported he has met the threshold of a hundred names. So he really is the one to watch.

But Boris Johnson is the one who's titillated everybody. He's flying back from the Caribbean rumored to be coming back tonight. He's so divisive. He's so divisive, you love him, you hate him. You loathe him, you want him. And that's how that's going to be where Boris Johnson comes into play.

But, Wolf, I came back to London -- it's coming up to midnight just about now, midnight in London. It's absolutely raining cats and dogs. It's cold outside. And, frankly, the British people, since I've got back, I've been talking to friends and family. Everyone's exhausted by the whole nasty, messy business.

They cannot believe that the government got them into such a dreadful state where the economy is going down fast, the political environment is dreadful. And we've got another week at least of it until a new government is formed.

So, people are out having a drink. The bar underneath our office here is thriving. And, if in doubt, you go out and have a pint. It's Friday night.

BLITZER: Go ahead and have a pint yourself. Richard Quest, thank you very ,very much, Richard Quest, helping us appreciate what's going on in London right now.

To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.