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Debate Showdown Tonight In Race That Could Decide Senate Control; DeSantis Won't Commit To Service Full Four-Year Term As F.L. Gov.; Trump Shifts Focus T 2024 And His Own Political Future Even As GOP Fights For Midterm Gains; Adidas Cuts Ties With Kanye West After Antisemitic Comments. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 25, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: That's tonight at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

You can follow me on Twitter @johnberman or you can tweet the show @theleadcnn. If you ever miss an episode of "THE LEAD", you can listen wherever you get your podcasts. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, exactly two weeks before Election Day, the candidates in a make or break U.S. Senate race are getting ready to face off. CNN is live in Pennsylvania for the debate showdown between John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Also tonight, President Biden is warning Russia that it would be a serious mistake to use a tactical nuclear weapon. Vladimir Putin raising new fears about his war plans as Moscow doubles down in its disputed claim that Ukraine is planning to deploy a dirty bomb.

And corporate America turns on Kanye West for his anti-Semitic remarks. We'll take a closer look at the impact as Adidas and the Gap cut ties were the controversial rapper now also known as Ye.

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

Let's get straight to the midterm countdown right now. We're just what two weeks, two weeks out from Election Day. Candidates in a slew of pivotal contests preparing to clash in high stakes debates tonight with millions of voters already casting their ballots early. CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean has our report from the battleground state of Pennsylvania.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight the two candidates for Pennsylvania Senate seat will face off for their only debate, Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz squaring off in a tight race which could decide the balance of the U.S. Senate.

LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN, (D) PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: It's the elephant in the room having a stroke.

DEAN (voice-over): Fetterman plans to use closed captioning to read everything being asked of him and he answers Oz gives as he continues to recuperate from a stroke he suffered in May. It's a tool he's utilized in recent interviews and on the campaign trail. It's also an issue Oz has already seized on.

MEHMET OZ, (R) PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CABDIDATE: I don't think there's closed captioning on the floor of the Senate and maybe he doesn't need closed captioning when he's actually moving around. But maybe he does. Again, a lot of question marks and voters deserve better.

DEAN (voice-over): Fetterman has previewed his own attack on Oz hitting him on crime, a focal point of Oz's campaign.

FETTERMAN: He literally doesn't have a plan other than to talk and that's been a hallmark of his campaign.

DEAN (voice-over): But Oz did unveil his plan to combat crime on Monday just in time for the debate showdown.

OZ: OK, Mackenzie (ph) did today because the biggest, biggest problem I hear in Philadelphia is lawlessness.

DEAN (voice-over): Concerns over crime will likely also be prominent in tonight's New York governor's debate. The race between Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul and Republican Representative Lee Zeldin has tightened in recent weeks.

LEE ZELDIN, (R) NEW YORK GOV. CANDIDATE: Our campaign is focused on rising crime and rising costs.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): The most important job of the governor is to protect our citizens.

DEAN (voice-over): And a Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Tudor Dixon will meet tonight for their final debate as voters in the state also consider a ballot measure on whether to enshrine the protection of abortion rights into the state's constitution.

TUDOR DIXON, (R) MICHIGAN GOV. CANDIDATE: I am prolife with exceptions for life of the mother. But I understand that this is going to be decided by the people of the state of Michigan.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): The most important economic decision a woman will make in her lifetime is whether and when to bear a child. This candidate for governor wants to rip that away from her.


DEAN: And voting is well underway all across the country. So far, more than 9.2 million early in absentee ballots have been filed. That is on pace with 2018.

It sounds like a big number, because it is. Back in 2018, Wolf, that was the highest number we've ever seen. And it is currently on pace with that.

What is the big question mark is, will we exceed the 2018 numbers? We're just going to have to see. Wolf.

BLITZER: We will see. Jessica Dean, stand by, we'll get back to you in just a couple of minutes.

Let's take a closer look right now at the very, very high stakes contests in Pennsylvania that are about to take place. CNN Political Director David Chalian is breaking it all down for us.

So tell our viewers, David, why Pennsylvania, the Senate race is so, so important.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: To understand that, Wolf, you have to start with where we are. This is our current Senate makeup, the 50-50 Senate, Vice President Harris breaks the tie. The states in gray are not up for election this cycle. That's why we've graded them out.

But I want you to focus in on six critical states here in yellow. OK? Four of them have blue outlines, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and New Hampshire, they have Democratic incumbents. That's what Republicans are targeting to pick up seats.

The two with red outlines, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, are Republican held seats right now, Pat Toomey retiring. And let me show you why this is so critical. Let's -- Democrats, they have the majority. All they have to do is hold the seats that they have and they'll still stay in the majority.


So, if they win Nevada and Arizona and Georgia and New Hampshire, they're at 50. Vice President Harris breaks the tie, they still hold the majority. But here's the problem, Wolf, what if indeed they lose Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto goes down to Adam Laxalt, then they have to pick up somewhere else. Well, Ron Johnson right now is running a little ahead of the Democratic opponent there. Mandela Barnes, so let's say the Republicans get that, that leaves Pennsylvania as the critical state.

So, if Democrats are able to pick it up, they get the majority. But that is why we are seeing this huge contest between Fetterman and Oz tonight on the debate stage.

And what are the major issues driving this election? In our latest CNN poll, Wolf, 63 percent of likely voters, nearly two thirds of likely voters in Pennsylvania say the economy in Pennsylvania is getting worse. Only 29 percent say and saying the same, 8 percent say getting better.

How does that impact the race? Well, the economy is by far the most important issue to voters, about 44 percent of likely voters say so. Among those voters, economy and inflation voters, they split two to one for Oz in our latest poll, 64 percent to 32 percent. Now, obviously Fetterman has a big advantage on something like abortion rights, but far fewer Pennsylvanians, likely voters in our poll, put that at the top of their list. So this is a big concern for the Democrats in Pennsylvania. And as I showed you, it's nearly a must win state for them.

BLITZER: Certainly is, we're going to be watching it very, very closely. And David, stay with us don't go too far away.

I also want to bring in CNN Reporter Gabby Orr and our Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod. CNN's Jessica Dean is also back with us as well.

David Axelrod, the Pennsylvania Senate race, as we just heard, could very well decide which party has the majority in the U.S. Senate, the control of the U.S. Senate. How much do Democrats have writing on this debate tonight?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's incredible, Wolf, to think about the Democrats and Republicans are both pointing to this state as the pivotal state. That if you had to pick one state that was going to tell the tale, they picked -- they point to Pennsylvania first because that is insurance for Democrats against losing Nevada, which is a toss-up race, Georgia, which is a toss-up race. And -- so there's a great deal of nervousness about it.

And it's not just because of the nature of the race, but you know, John Fetterman had a stroke shortly before the primary. He -- as a Jessica reported, that has become an issue in the campaign. People are going to look to see how he performs. Does he have enough command to represent them in the Senate?

And then, you know, Oz, there are things that he has to worry about as well. He is someone who basically lived in New Jersey, moved to Pennsylvania to make this race. He has switched positions on a lot of issues. And he is not a popular figure, even among Republicans who had a spirited primary. So he has to come across as someone who connects well with people who is someone who has some roots within the state and understands the state and the whole country.

Political watchers all over the country are going to be watching this debate because it could tell the tale of who wins the Senate race.

BLITZER: It certainly could. David Chalian, I'm curious, what will you be watching for specifically in the debate tonight between Dr. Oz and Fetterman?

CHALIAN: I mean, I'm really going to be watching to see how voters in the Commonwealth respond to what they see with Fetterman's performance. So that's one side.

As David was saying, I mean, this auditory processing issue that is ongoing and the fact that he's going to be reading what the moderators are saying, what his opponent is saying through closed captioning. If he shows that he's in total command and that this issue is not a problem, I think he jumps a huge threshold for voters in trying to demonstrate he's up for the job.

The Oz task, though, is do you belong in this arena? He's new to politics, people know him as a celebrity doctor on T.V. And I think he also has a moment here where he needs people to walk out of here thinking that they could see him, not that he's on a lark of some sort with this campaign, but actually see him as a United States Senator. So, I think each man really does have an important task here to get those final voters in Pennsylvania over to their side in this critically close race.

BLITZER: Yes, critically important indeed.

Jessica Dean, you're there on the ground in Pennsylvania tonight. What are you hearing from the Fetterman and as campaigns as they set expectations for tonight's highly anticipated matchup?

DEAN: Well, it's an interesting question, Wolf, because we're hearing from the Fetterman side, as David and David had both explained, there's a lot on the line in terms of him using this closed captioning, the auditory processing, how that's going to work, how it's going to affect. Also too, just think about it, the flow of the debate, the pacing of the debate, how they'll go back and forth at each other.


The Fetterman campaign really being pretty blunt and lowering expectations saying, look, we know this isn't John's, you know, preferred method to talk to people. We know that Mehmet Oz has a huge leg up because he was on T.V. for years and years and years and is very used to being in front of a camera, very comfortable. So they're really trying to kind of lower those expectations. So again, if he just performs well, that's really clearing the bar.

Again for Oz, they wanted more debates. They really pressed for more debates and wanted to be on stage more with John Fetterman. The Fetterman campaign, obviously keeping it to this one, the one and only tonight. It's also the first time these two will be meeting in front of everyone.

And worth noting as well, Wolf, just in terms of kind of setting the scene for people, sometimes we see debates with big audiences, that sort of thing. This is a local television station right behind me in Harrisburg. It's going to be just the two candidates and the moderators inside a studio. So it's going to be quite intimate. That's something to watch to just in terms of how this is going to play out.

BLITZER: Good point.

David Axelrod, I want to quickly turn to Florida where Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist squared off in a debate last night. Let's listen to one moment where Crist challenged DeSantis about his political aspirations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARLIE CRIST, (D) FLORIDA GOV. CANDIDATE: Will you serve a full four- year term if you're reelected governor of Florida? It's not a tough question. It's a fair question. He won't tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We did not agree on the candidates asking each other questions.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Is it my time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, it's your turn.

DESANTIS: Well, listen, I know that Charlie's interest in talking about 2024 in Joe Biden. But I just want to make things very, very clear, the only worn out old donkey I'm looking to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist.


BLITZER: So David, what do you think? Is that line of attack going to have any impact?

AXELROD: You know, DeSantis has a fairly significant lead there. It was Crist's job to try and create a moment that would change that whole dynamic, very hard to do. He did with that inquiry of DeSantis create a viral moment.

But I thought what was interesting about that debate, it was not just about that election but as DeSantis as a prospective presidential candidate because he didn't really look very comfortable when he was under attack. And I sat there thinking, boy, if Charlie Crist is giving him a hard time, how's he going to like debating Donald Trump and some of the others who are going to be running for president? So, what I left that debate thinking is yet, it probably didn't change this governor's race, but it raises some questions about a presidential race.

BLITZER: Gabby Orr here with us, I know you have some new reporting on how Trump is actually accelerating his plans for a potentially another presidential campaign. Tell us what you're learning.

GABBY ORR, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Wolf, as we talk about the midterms, I think it's important to note that Donald Trump has one foot in the midterms in the 2022 cycle, but also one foot in 2024 already. Sources are telling my colleague Kristen Holmes and I that he has really accelerated his planning for 2024 presidential campaign. And what that looks like behind the curtain down at Mar-a-Lago is that he's starting to have discussions with his team about who would be in his campaign leadership, where he would launch his next presidential campaign, what exactly it's going to look like, the kind of operation that it will be, will it be lean, like the 2016 presidential campaign that was very bare bones, minimal staff, or will it be a robust operation like it was in 2020? And those are the questions that Trump is talking about with his team right now.

A couple of names that we've picked up just from our sources down who are close and talking to the president daily are Chris Aveda (ph) as a potential leadership position on a 2024 presidential campaign. He is a Virginia based political consultant currently involved in Trump's super PAC, Sergio Ogore (ph), Susie Wiles (ph), Brian Jack (ph), these are all seasoned political professionals who are currently surrounding the president and are very likely to be elevated to a 2024 presidential campaign, Wolf.

BLITZER: Gabby Orr reporting for us. Excellent reporting, Gabby. Thank you very much. And thanks everyone else as well.

Coming up, the Pentagon now says it's keeping a very close watch on any potential evidence of a radioactive dirty bomb, which some fear Russia is actually preparing to deploy.

Also ahead, a Moscow court rejects Brittney Griner's appeal to throw out her drug smuggling conviction.



BLITZER: President Biden just issued a stern warning to Vladimir Putin about deploying a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine. Listen to this.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia would be making an incredibly serious mistake if were to use a tactical nuclear weapon. I'm not guaranteeing you that it's a false flag operation yet, don't know, but it would be a serious, serious mistake.


BLITZER: Let's get an update right now from the warzone. CNN's Nic Robertson is joining us.

Nic, this warning comes as Ukrainian officials and other world leaders for that matter fear Russia could be preparing a so called dirty bomb attack. What's the latest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLAMATIC EDITOR: They feel that because Russia is making these false allegations without presenting any evidence. The Ukrainian authorities have invited in the U.N.'s Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, the IAEA, to visit two sites that Russia has detailed, one's a Science academy here in the capital Kyiv another is a mining facility in the center of Ukraine. The Russian officials didn't give any reason for specifying those locations but the inspectors are expected to visit them in the coming days.

Behind closed doors at the U.N., Russia laid out its letter, so again, this unfounded, unsubstantiated without evidence allegation saying that quite simply because Ukraine has a nuclear power program. It has spent fuel rods and it has the capacity to turn them into a dirty bomb. But not satisfied with that allegation, they went on to say maybe Ukraine could actually sabotage its own nuclear power plants and not satisfied with that allegation as well. They also say that maybe Ukraine would attack the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukrainian of course but currently occupied and controlled by Russia.


So it's a number of accusations without substance. The Ukrainians hope that the IAEA will be able to issue a report quickly. Other Russian diplomats who are connected to the IAEA are saying they couldn't possibly issue a quick report. Russia is speaking a lot about this. Everyone's concern. President Biden has voiced those concerns today.

BLITZER: Yes, totally understandably. Nic Robertson reporting for us. Thank you very much. Stay safe over there.

We're also following a major legal blow to American basketball star Brittney Griner, currently serving a nine year prison sentence in Russia. Our Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance has more for us.

Matthew, walk us through what happened as Griner made her final appeal today in Moscow and what happens next?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it wasn't a great outcome for Brittney Griner. She appeared in the court outside of Moscow by video conference, she wasn't there in person, and she made an emotional appeal to the judge to reduce her sentence. She talks about how devastated she was to be away from her family. She admitted her guilt again. She apologized again to the court for bringing in that small quantity of cannabis oil for which he was found guilty of drug smuggling.

But none of that seemed to have moved the judge at all, non-legal arguments either. And the judge upheld the verdict of guilty for drug smuggling against Brittney Griner. And he upheld the sentence as well. They reduced it a little bit, a couple of months reduced. And so, instead of nine years should now be serving something just over eight and a half years.

So not much of a consolation. Certainly the lawyers said they were devastated by this, lawyers for Brittney Griner, that is. When I spoke to them last week in Moscow, they indicated they expected some kind of substantial reduction in a sentence. That did not happen.

What happens next? Well, I mean, the legal path has run out. It's not clear where there's another opportunity for the lawyers to appeal again on behalf of Brittney Griner. So, in the next couple of weeks or months, the expectation is she'll be moved from her pretrial detention center, which is close to Moscow to a more long term location, a penal colony of some kind, which could be somewhat further away, which would be a lot more inconvenient for to get visits from diplomats and from her lawyers. But you know, we'll see where that is.

But again, a very bleak day for Brittney Griner. Her only hope, perhaps, some kind of prisoner swap.

BLITZER: Yes, let's hope. Matthew Chance reporting for us. Thank you very much. And an important note to our viewers right now. Stay with CNN for the next hour of THE SITUATION ROOM, I'll talk with the Russian attorney for Brittney Griner about the court's decision today and what happens next.

Up next, exclusive new CNN reporting on the U.S. Justice Department's January 6 investigation. Standby for new details on a secret courtroom battle with two of the top attorneys inside the Trump White House.

Plus, new details on a deadly high school shooting in St. Louis. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Now to a CNN exclusive report, multiple sources telling CNN the U.S. Justice Department is asking a federal judge to force the top two attorneys in the Trump White House to testify about their conversations with the former president. Our Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez joining us with details.

Evan, tell our viewers what you're learning.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Justice Department is asking a judge to compel this testimony from Pat Cipollone who was a former White House Counsel and Patrick Philbin, his deputy. Now, the former president has been trying to build some something of a of a firewall around his top advisors in the Trump White House arguing that they are bound by executive privilege by attorney client privilege in some cases to not be able to testify to the grand jury about pretty much anything that he was involved in. And of course, those are the key questions not only, of course, for the January 6 investigation on Capitol Hill, but also for the Justice Department, which wants to know what the former president was doing, what were those interactions before the efforts to overturn the election in 2020.

So, what is happening now behind closed doors at the U.S. District Court is the Justice Department is seeking to compel that testimony. The former president is of course fighting that out. And we'll see, Wolf, when they show up in court where this goes, whether the judge has indeed been able to overcome those objections from the former president.

BLITZER: How likely is it that the Justice Department will get to interview them?

PEREZ: I think it's likely because they've already been able to overcome the former president's objections in the case of Greg Jacob, who appeared on October 6, Marc Short appeared just a week later. We caught Marc short leaving the courthouse on camera. And what we know is it was a similar circumstance, the Justice Department asked for that testimony to be compelled, the Trump team objected to it and the judge overruled that. Eventually the appeals court even allowed that questioning to go forward. Again, the same circumstances. And we expect. Wolf, that this is not the end of it. We have expected the Justice Department is going to try to get testimony from Mark Meadows and others are important officials who so far have not been able -- they have not been able to ask those questions on.


BLITZER: Yes, lot of stake right now. All right, Evan, thank you very, very much.

We're getting new information tonight about the high school shooting in St. Louis that left the teacher and a student dead, as well as the 19-year-old gunman. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is on the scene for us tonight.

Adrienne, first of all, what are you learning about this truly horrible attack?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf investigators say that 19- year-old shooter had an AR-15 style rifle, more than a dozen high capacity magazines and more than 600 rounds of ammunition. Investigators say this was an attack that 19-year-old planned. He left behind a handwritten note which members of law enforcement found in the vehicle that teen drove to this school. Here's what it said.


LT. COL. MICHAEL SACK, ST. LOUIS METRO POLICE COMMISSIONER: Note, quote, "I don't have any friends, I don't have any family, I've never had a girlfriend, I've never had a social life. I've been an isolated loner my entire life." This was the perfect storm for a mass shooter.

He had seven magazines of ammunition on a chest rig that he wore. He also had an additional eight magazines of ammunition in the field of bag that he had carried. This doesn't include the number of magazines that he left and dumped on the stairway in the corridors along the way, but appears that he came into the building with more than 600 rounds of ammunition on his person.


BROADDUS: And tonight, we know a little more why investigators said what happened inside of this school yesterday could have been worse.

Wolf, we're also learning about the victims, at least the two deceased, a 61-year-old teacher who was planning retirement and a teen whose family says she was preparing to celebrate her 16th birthday next month. Wolf.

BLITZER: Another school shooting in the United States. Adrienne Broaddus, thank you for that report.

Just ahead, senior citizens feeling the price pinch of inflation and forced to make very difficult choices. CNN goes in depth, that's next.

Plus, more major companies ending billions of dollars worth of business with Kanye West after his antisemitic remarks.



BLITZER: All Americans are feeling the financial squeeze of rising inflation. But for retirees on a fixed income, the rise in prices is forcing some to make very hard choices. CNN's Gabe Cohen looks at how many seniors right now are really feeling the pinch.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the senior friendship center in Sarasota, Florida, asked about inflation, it will strike a chord with nearly everyone.

DOM ISTORICO, SARASOTA RESIDENT: I've seen it as an excuse for people to take advantage of other people.



COHEN (voice-over): Around the bridge table, these retirees are feeling the squeeze.

CATHRINE JAMES (PH): Everything is expensive.

COHEN (voice-over): Eighty-one-year-old Catherine James (ph) turn to her son for financial help.

JAMES: It makes things a little easier.

COHEN (voice-over): Seventy-nine-year-old Ron Longhurst cut back on evening socializing.

RON LONGHURST, SARASOTA RESIDENT: Your bar stool viewers may note that I'm taking maybe a week or two longer between haircuts.

COHEN (voice-over): And 82 year old Ann Smith cut down on her favorite simple pleasure, drinking soda.

(on camera): You're actually watching your Coca Cola budget.


COHEN (voice-over): Seniors on a fixed income had been hit particularly hard by inflation, with September prices up 8.2 percent from a year ago. Even worse in areas like Tampa, Florida where the housing market has exploded.

SHARON JOHNSON, TAMPA RESIDENT: Everything is going up except our income.

COHEN (voice-over): Sixty-seven-year-old Sharon Johnson says her family's rent in Tampa jumped $350 this year to 3100 a month, and with other bills surging it's thrown their budget into chaos.

JOHNSON: I never had to worry about how we were going to eat.

COHEN (voice-over): They already have boxes packed expecting another rent hike when their lease ends. The retired university counselor and her husband, a retired engineer and teacher moved here from Michigan, but so far price hikes are stealing their retirement dream.

JOHNSON: We are middle income with the less to work within when we worked full time and we have worked hard and we've been honest. Then why is it going in reverse?

COHEN (voice-over): Next year Social Security recipients will receive an annual cost of living adjustment of 8.7 percent, the largest increase since 1981.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The salad smells good.

COHEN (voice-over): But for now seniors like Barb Smith have felt little relief. The 70-year-old volunteers at a free restaurant, a modern day soup kitchen for the less fortunate. But she's coming to rely on the take home meal she gets after her shift.

BARBARA SMITH, VOLUNTEER, FEEDING TAMPA BAY: I do have bills that have to be paid and those have to be paid. And I have bought some groceries but I ended up having to take it back because something else came up that was more important than what I bought. And sometimes I only eat one meal a day.

COHEN (on camera): So that meal means a lot?

B. SMITH: Yes.

COHEN (voice-over): She works as a caretaker living without family. She stopped buying puzzles, her favorite hobby. The strain from these price hikes is isolating.

B. SMITH: If it hasn't been per voluntary, I would probably be insane by now.


COHEN (voice-over): The same concern brings this group to their card game, with tighter budgets they're finding joy in things that don't get more expensive.

A. SMTH: When I go home on Thursdays I'm a much happier person.


COHEN: And many seniors have seen their retirement funds take a big hit this year as the markets have debt making it even harder to make ends meet. So now, Wolf, some are choosing to go back to work or even putting off retiring.

BLITZER: Yes, sad story. Gabe Cohen, thank you very much for bringing it to us.

Coming up, more companies cutting ties right now with Kanye West after his shocking antisemitic remarks. The latest on the growing financial fallout the artist is facing tonight.



BLITZER: Just in tonight, Foot Locker is joining the growing list of companies cutting ties with Kanye West in the wake of shocking antisemitic remarks. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, what's the latest?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the fallout from Kanye West's antisemitic remarks and the money involved enormous. Just by getting dropped by Adidas, Forbes reports West has lost his status as a billionaire. And this could only be the beginning of his fall from grace.



TODD (voice-over): Nine days ago Kanye West said this on a podcast.

WEST: The thing about me and Adidas is like I can literally say antisemitic and they can drop me.

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, the German sportswear giant has indeed dropped West who now goes by the name Ye. Adidas has partnered with him for nine years. His line of sneakers with them was hugely successful. And Adidas says it will take a hit of more than $240 million to its fourth quarter sales like cutting ties.

JONATHAN GREENBALT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: I wish it had happened sooner, but this does send a strong statement that there are consequences when you express antisemitism in any form of hate.

TODD (voice-over): On October 8, West tweeted he was, quote, "going death con three on Jewish people." His Twitter and Instagram accounts were locked. He since been abandoned by the Gap, Vogue, the fashion house Balenciaga and his powerful agent, CAA.

For a man who's won 24 Grammy Awards and has been a trendsetting fashion mogul, how big a fall from grace is this?

DAN BAUM, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER: Zero to 10, this is 11. It's as extreme as it gets.

TODD (voice-over): Observers say one danger with West's public remarks is that his audience is young and impressionable. Another is the current political and social climate in America.

LZ GRANDERSON, LOS ANGELES TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: Or even its platform in the context of a post 2020 America with everything we know that's going on in terms of hate crimes, in terms of antisemitism, in terms of racism. So, we're in a climate right now that's very, very tense.

TODD (voice-over): Over the weekend, a group of demonstrators appeared to show support for West's antisemitic remarks by hanging banners from a freeway overpass near L.A.

GREENBALT: It was a dangerous thing for Kanye to do at a time when the danger facing Jewish people is all too real.

TODD (voice-over): This posed by Jerry Seinfeld's wife Jessica, getting hundreds of 1000s of likes and shares online. But West's actions go beyond upsetting the Jewish community. He recently wore a white lives matter t-shirt at a Paris runway show. He suggested that George Floyd died from a fentanyl overdose rather than police brutality.

Can West reverse any of this and make a comeback. The apology tour hasn't been convincing. He recently told an interviewer he was sorry for the hurt that the death con tweet caused, but wasn't sorry he said it.

His ex-wife Kim Kardashian just issued a statement criticizing hate speech but only after she was called out for not addressing West behavior earlier. One damage control expert says this.

BAUM: These are his real thoughts, there's really no coming back from this if these thoughts are the result of a mental health condition. I think that is a mitigating fact.


TODD: There is speculation that West behavior might be related to mental illness. He himself has previously acknowledged the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but he's also cast some doubt on that. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brian Todd, reporting for us. Thank you.

Let's dig deeper right now into this controversy. Joining us CNN Contributor and Entertainment Tonight Host Nischelle Turner and former Democratic congressman and now the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, Ted Deutch.

Ted, thanks so much for joining us. The director of the ADL, the Anti- Defamation League, described these consequences for Ye's hate speech as better late than never. What's your reaction to today's decision from Adidas and these other brands?

TED DEUTCH, CEO, AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE: Well, Wolf, I appreciate the opportunity to be with you. Look, it shouldn't have taken more than two weeks to act and to sever the relationship. But this is about Kanye, but it's only about Kanye insofar as it gives us the opportunity to focus on his antisemitism and the rising levels of antisemitism around the country. He has a big platform, that's why we're paying attention. But for Jews around the country, particularly as we approach the fourth anniversary of the Tree of Life shooting, the deadliest attack on Jews in our country's history, this is something that we're thinking about that the community is worried about every single day. I'm glad the companies took action. More companies need to act now to stand up to antisemitism to prevent this from happening again with anyone that they work with.

BLITZER: Yes, good point.

You know, Nischelle, I know you've covered Ye as he became hugely influential in both music and fashion, to the point that he evidently thought he had become invincible. Do you think being dropped by fashion companies, social media sites and his agency is sending a strong enough message out there that hate speech won't be tolerated from anyone?


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I hope that it is sending that message. You know, Kanye calls himself -- Ye, excuse me, calls himself a free thinker. And I think that, you know, speech is free, thought is free, but there are, you know, very much so consequences when you say things that are deemed as hate speech. And I think we're seeing that play out in front of him today.

I'm not sure what -- if this is going to even be a tipping point for him. We haven't heard a lot from him in the last few days. But I know that people around him are still saying, you know, he's still allowed to think the way he thinks, these companies are allowed to disassociate themselves, but they want to make sure that he in the in the arena of the monetary gain, that he's still being paid.

I'm not sure what's going to happen here, but I think that we are all learning a lesson. I think Kanye is learning, you know, a bitter lesson here. And Wolf, you know, I do think that we're seeing a community galvanize and I hope that we continue to galvanize, through all forms of hate.

BLITZER: Yes, me too.

You know, Ted, Ye has rejected plenty offers to meet with rabbis and other Jewish leaders who have offered to educate him about why his language is so problematic. What's the best way to engage with an influential person who appears to have no desire at all to learn from their mistakes?

DEUTCH: Well, you need to call it out. Look, I like him to learn from his mistake and I -- but more importantly, I like the story to be not about him and the money he's losing but about the very real fears that so many in the Jewish community have around the country. One in four American Jews has experienced antisemitism, and yet one in three Americans overall don't know what it is. Here's an opportunity to come together and to really work on a societal approach to condemning antisemitism. Nischelle was right, no one should be targeted because of who they are. And that's what's happening when he spews this kind of venom, these conspiracy theories, this hatred of the Jewish people, we need to come together. That's why AJC has worked so hard to train companies to identify antisemitism, what it is, and then to work with the companies to make sure that if something happens they're addressing it right away. The threat is real and it requires all of us, whoever we are, whether someone's in government, whether they're in business, whether they're on a university campus to come together to address this in a societal wide way.

BLITZER: Yes, absolutely.

Nischelle, you're in Los Angeles where demonstrators hang signs and supportive Ye and his very hateful rhetoric. What was your reaction to seeing that kind of hate on display in your city?

TURNER: Disgusting, disgusting. But I think that it shows the danger in this type of speech, especially when you have someone who is as popular and polarizing as Ye. I mean, there's definitely a section of the community that we see agrees with him.

And when some people can't differentiate between someone who may be suffering mentally, who may be spouting things that they don't even realize what they're saying, and I'm not sure that -- I'm not saying that he doesn't realize what he's saying because in all accounts he continues to say it he, he very well may realize it. But what I'm saying is, it's dangerous when someone who has a platform like him spouts these things, because there are a lot of people in society who can't tell the difference and who believe in that and who take that as a sign that they have been validated and they are -- they could act on these things. It's dangerous.

I mean, we think of Los Angeles, you know, as a city of liberation a lot of times and a lot of liberals and progressive thought, but we saw that on display that there are a lot of people who really have a lot of hate and evil in their heart and they use this as a jumping off point to spew it.

BLITZER: Yes, so sad. Nischelle Turner and Ted Deutch, thanks to both of you for joining us. Appreciate it very much.

In the United Kingdom tonight, the Rishi Sunak era has officially begun. The new prime minister taking office amid a raging economic crisis and political turmoil following the sudden resignation of Liz Truss. And in his first speech in front of Downing Street, the prime minister promised to calm the waters.


RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: But when the opportunity to serve comes along, you cannot question the moment, only your willingness. So I stand here before you ready to lead our country into the future, to put your needs above politics, to reach out and build a government that represents the very best traditions of my party.


Together we can achieve incredible things. We will create a future worthy of the sacrifices so many have made and fill tomorrow and every day thereafter with hope. Thank you.


BLITZER: The U.K. government says the prime minister just spoke with President Biden. We'll have more on that story as it develop.

Coming up, a high stakes debate tonight in a key battleground state, as Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz prepare to -- prepare for a faceoff that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Plus, the Trump tapes revealing conversations between the former president and legendary journalist Bob Woodward who will join us live.