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New Uncertainty In Make-Or-Break Pennsylvania Senate Race After Debate; CNN Witnesses Return Of American Killed Fighting For Ukraine; Meadows Plans To Appeal Order To Testify Before Georgia Grand Jury; Democrats And Republicans Ramp Up Efforts To Win Latino Voters. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 26, 2022 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is fighting a new order for him to testify in the Georgia probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.


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 in Pennsylvania where there's new uncertainty hanging over a race that could decide control of the United States Senate.

CNN's Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny reports on the debate faceoff that's making supporters of Democrat John Fetterman nervous.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The spotlight on Pennsylvania intensified a day after a debate between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz sharpened the stakes in the battle for control of the Senate.

LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): I had a stroke. He's never let me forget that.

ZELENY: The question is not what Oz thinks of his rival --

SENATE CANDIDATE MEHMET OZ (R-PA): Obviously, I wasn't clear enough for you to understand this.

ZELENY: -- but whether voters believe Fetterman has sufficiently recovered from near deadly stroke in May and should be elected to a six-year term in Washington.

JAN WELSCH, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I don't think he has recovered from the stroke.

ZELENY: Jan Welsch was watching closely Tuesday night and said she found Fetterman's performance embarrassing.

WELSCH: I had questions about Oz earlier, but after listening with him against Fetterman, it's definitely Oz.

ZELENY: But Craig Bischof said he was turned off by what he saw as Oz picking on Fetterman.

Do you think he's healthy enough to be a --

CRAIG BISCHOF, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: Oh, my, yes. He gets healthier every day. He's come a long way. A stroke is a hard thing to get over.

ZELENY: In one of the nation's tightest Senate contests stark differences in style and substance may well reverberate for the final 13 days of the race with crime, energy and abortion rights among the issues at the center of a bitter duel.

OZ: I want women, doctors, local political leaders letting the democracy that's always allowed our nation to thrive to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves.

ZELENY: Today, his advisers told CNN Oz believes the federal government should not play a role in abortion policy in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe versus Wade.

OZ: Pennsylvania deserves better than Fetterman.

ZELENY: At a campaign stop, Oz talked about crime, not abortion, and did not address his line about local political leaders, which Fetterman immediately seized upon in a new ad --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oz will let politicians, like Doug Mastriano, ban abortion without exceptions, even in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother.

ZELENY: -- as Democrats try linking Oz to Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor. But it was Fetterman's own shaky performance --

FETTERMAN: My doctors, the real doctors that I believe, they believe I'm ready to be serve.

ZELENY: -- that dominated the post-debate discussion, stirring alarm among Democratic leaders from Pennsylvania to Washington, where the party's slim hold on the Senate is at risk.

With the help of closed captioning to accommodate for lingering effects of his stroke, Fetterman not only struggled to prosecute his case against Oz but also on fracking, a critical source of energy jobs here. In 2018, he said this.

FETTERMAN: I don't support fracking at all and I never have.

ZELENY: And on stage Tuesday night, he struggled to explain how his views have evolved.

FETTERMAN: I do support fracking and I don't -- I don't -- I support fracking and I stand, and I do support fracking. ZELENY: The debate opened a new round of discussion about Fetterman's ability to serve, which is now likely to be a central question in the closing stretch of the race.

DEANNA REITZI, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I think I was expecting it, but not to that degree. He's flumbered a lot and it was very painful.


ZELENY (on camera): And Fetterman will appear for the first time at a rally here tonight in Pittsburgh since that debate last evening. He's been out of public view throughout the day, I'm told, making phone calls to donors, supporters, and others trying to make the case that he's still very much in this race.

And, Wolf, talking to voters throughout the day, it was clear, if people liked Fetterman going into the debate, they certainly liked him coming out of the debate. But it's the undecided voters that sliver in the middle who, of course, are so important to this.

Now, all of this comes as nearly 700,000 people have already voted here in Pennsylvania. Across the country, Wolf, it's nearly 12 million Americans casting early ballots new 13 days before Election Day. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jeff, I want you to stay as we bring in our National Politics Reporter Eva McKend. She's joining us in Atlanta. Also with us, CNN Political Commentator Charlie Dent, and Kaitlan Collins, the co-Anchor of CNN This Morning that debuts next week.

Kaitlan, according to our CNN poll, Fetterman was leading going into last night's debate. Do you think his performance though changed anything?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's the major question here is what do ordinary voters think of that performance, the group that Jeff was just talking about, the ones that maybe had not made up their minds yet.

And I think something that's always important to keep in mind when there are the debate nights like there was last night is that we may watch all of them but a lot of regular people do not watch the entire debate.


They often see the clips that are circulated online, portions and snippets of that actual debate and what happened. And so the question is what judgment does that lead them to make?

And I know Fetterman's campaign has said that since last night, they've raised about $2 million, I believe, is where the latest numbers stand, but the question is whether or not that translates to actual support in votes in Pennsylvania two weeks from now.

And, of course, some Democrats are not reassured after seeing the performance last night. Some are defending him, saying that it was transparent for him to actually come out and show people what they were getting essentially, what he is like five months after suffering that stroke.

I can tell you, obviously, this is a major question for the White House, because whether or not he wins or his opponent wins, Mehmet Oz, that determines so many critical factors of what the next few years in Washington are going to look like, whether or not President Biden is facing investigations from both chambers, whether or not he can get judges confirmed. Those are really big implications of what the voters in Pennsylvania decide.

BLITZER: Charlie Dent, you just heard Dr. Oz say that women, doctors and local political leaders should make decisions about abortion. Was that a successful attempt to appeal to suburban women who make up clearly a critical group of voters?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, wasn't. That was a gaffe. I think Oz made a mistake in that comment. But let's face it, that debate last night was upsetting and it was disturbing on many levels. And I have to say that the bar was set very low by the Fetterman campaign. And, you know, the bar wasn't set low enough. I mean, it was -- that was really a -- it was an awful thing to watch.

And, you know, on a human level, I feel for John Fetterman, but at the same time, this was a job audition and, you know, it just struck me that he's not ready as some of those voters just described. And I think this is going to have an enormous view on the race. John Fetterman couldn't articulate his views on fracking, a major economic issue in the commonwealth, he couldn't speak about crime or he's been questioned about his record on the board of pardons. So, that performance was bad.

Yes, Dr. Oz made a gaffe but I think that's going to be a much smaller issue than the issue of qualifications of John Fetterman, which have been legitimately called into question. He didn't meet the moment.

BLITZER: Jeff Zeleny, you're there. Last night clearly marked the only time we will see Fetterman and Dr. Oz square off. Do you think the Fetterman campaign made the right decision in participating in that debate last night and no others?

ZELENY: Well, Wolf, the final answer to that question won't be known until Election Day or until all the votes are counted, but there certainly has been a lot of handwringing and second guessing, should they have debated. But the reality is it became an untenable situation for them about six weeks or so ago. The Oz campaign was pushing the Fetterman campaign to debate. And that is something that voters also wanted to see these candidates side by side.

So, at first, the Fetterman campaign resisted for several weeks but then it simply was looking clear that he wasn't ready for this. So, really, the only thing to do in the eyes of his advisers was to hit that debate stage, but it was a definite high risk, without question.

What I was picking up here today was a sense of disappointment among some of Fetterman's supporters, that he was not able to prosecute the case against Oz as well as his social media accounts have throughout the summer and early fall. They've been, of course, going after him about his residency, the number of homes he's owned, et cetera. That was not something that Fetterman was able to do with much success last night.

But I also think this is something, as Kaitlan was saying earlier, all voters do not watch debates. I ran into several voters here today who said, I didn't watch the debate. I'll catch up with it in the coming days. So, it certainly is another opportunity for both sides to still reengage, but this race seems as close as ever and, of course, it's one of the most important, if not, the most important Senate race in the country.

BLITZER: Let's turn to Georgia right now. Eva McKend, you're joining us from Atlanta. There's a new allegation, as you well know, against the Republican Senate candidate in Georgia, Herschel Walker. Tell us what you're learning and what Walker is saying about it.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTERE: A former girlfriend, a different one now, says that Walker pressured her to have an abortion in Texas in 1993 and she suggested she's coming forward to highlight his hypocrisy. In her own words, she says he has publicity taken the position that he is about life and against abortion under any circumstance when, in fact, he pressured me to have an abortion and personally insured it occurred by driving me to the clinic and paying for it.

Now, for his part, Walker, shortly before this unnamed woman made these comments, he characterized this as all lies. And being here on the ground, I'm not sure how much this really changes things. We have been to several Walker rallies in the past several weeks and it seems as though conservative voters are really rallying behind him.


Some feel motivated to come and show their support at his rallies because of the previous allegations. I spoke to one woman who identifies as socially conservative and she has always been on board but she says that some in her circle have not always been on board and are slowly starting to come around.

So, it's hard to see how this changes the overall calculation in this competitive contest between Walker and Senator Warnock. Wolf?

BLITZER: Let me bring in Charlie Dent, he's a former Republican congressman. Do you think this new allegation will actually lead Republican voters in Georgia to question their support of Walker?

DENT: It may lead some swing voters. There aren't a lot of them, but I think it's going to cause him some problems on the margins, to be sure. The final thing I'd say about this is that this is hypocrisy is stunning and I think, you combine this with what his son said that he didn't take care of his four children. I think that is probably even more damaging than the abortion hypocrisy.

BLITZER: I want to thank you all of you, thanks very, very much. And this important note, be sure to watch Kaitlan Collins in her new role as co-anchor of CNN This Morning, it debuts Tuesday 6:00 A.M. Eastern only here on CNN. Kaitlan, we're all very, very excited. Can't wait for the start of CNN This Morning. Thanks very, very much.

COLLINS: Thanks, Wolf. I can't wait for you to watch.

BLITZER: I will be watching for sure.

Just ahead, a story seen first on CNN, our team witnessed Russia handing over the body of an American killed while fighting alongside the Ukrainians. We'll get a firsthand account from CNN's Clarissa Ward. That's next.



BLITZER: The remains of a 24-year-old American who died while fighting alongside the Ukrainians will soon be returned to his family. Russia turned over the body to Ukraine today as part of a prisoner swap. CNN was there and was the first to report on the handover.

CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is joining us live from Zaporizhzhia in Southeastern Ukraine right now. Clarissa, you and the rest of your team, you witnessed this transfer. How did it all come together?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, this was something that a lot of people worked very hard for a very long time to make happen, Wolf. Joshua Jones was killed during fighting in Eastern Ukraine back in August, but it was only today that finally his remains were recovered and brought to the Ukrainian territory and will now go on the be finally returned to his family in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Two Ukrainian lawmakers basically along with his family were lobbying various international organizations around the clock and these Ukrainian lawmakers along with the office of the presidency here in Ukraine were talking to the Russian side as well and trying to come up with some kind of an agreement that both sides would feel was favorable.

And so we drove out to no man's land on the frontline in Zaporizhzhia. There was a two-hour ceasefire agreed. It was very eerie. This is not a place that you could ever walk around during normal time because there's such heavy fighting along these frontlines.

But it was very quiet and we were allowed to come so far and then a smaller convoy went a few hundred yards ahead to actually take the body from the Russian side. They said for our security we couldn't be there at that specific moment though they did share video that they took of that with us and then the lawmakers identified the body of Joshua Jones, put it into the ambulance and from there, it went on to Kyiv where it will now, as you said, make its way back to the U.S. to be with his grieving family, Wolf.

BLITZER: Clarissa, what do we know about Joshua Jones and how he actually ended up in Ukraine?

WARD: So, Joshua Jones was 24 years old. He told his father shortly after the war started in Ukraine that he wanted to go and join the fight. His father told CNN that he had discouraged him from doing that, but that in Joshua's words, what could be more beautiful than fighting for freedom.

So, he made his way to Ukraine. He had served in the U.S. military for several years. He joined the Ukrainian Foreign Legion and he basically went to the frontlines to fight. And he was killed alongside another foreign fighter, a young man from New Zealand. His friends on the frontlines, his fellow fighters, used to call him Tactical Jesus because he was very devoted to the bible and knew it and would quote often and was always in his tactical gear with his long beard and that's how they say they remember him, Wolf.

BLITZER: Clarissa Ward joining us from Zaporizhzhia, in Ukraine, thank you very, very much. Stay safe over there.

An important note, Clarissa will join Jake Tapper later tonight for an exclusive look at the transfer of Joshua Jones' remains. That's all coming up later tonight on CNN Tonight with Jake Tapper, 9:00 P.M. Eastern.

In Ukraine tonight, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy just gave a new update on the war. And he says the toughest battles are taking place in the Donetsk region in Eastern Ukraine. This comes as Russia is conducting new military drills trap training for the possibility of a nuclear strike.

CNN's International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson is joining us live from Kyiv right now. Nic, you spoke to Ukraine's chief of defense intelligence about the Russian accusations that Ukraine could be getting ready to use what's called a dirty bomb. What did he tell you?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Wolf. He flatly denies it. He says Ukraine neither has a dirty bomb nor is preparing one nor has any intention of preparing one and he welcomes the visit of the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors who are going to come here and he believes and says that he hopes they'll get a clean bill of health and scotch these alleged reports coming from Russia.


This is something that he believes President Putin is pushing because president Putin knows that it gets international attention to make these claims about a dirty bomb, that this is all about gaining pressure on Ukraine to make it commit and get into peace talks with Putin. This is what he told me.


ROBERTSON: What is your assessment of what President Putin is trying to do with the issue of the dirty bomb but also his defense chiefs spoke with opposite numbers in Washington, in London, in Paris, in Ankara (ph).

KYRYLO BUDANOV, HEAD OF UKRAINE'S DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: The Russian Federation is conducting a special psychological information operation of influence in order to push Ukraine towards a peaceful solution. However, those peace negotiations are unrealistic at this moment of our history. Only when we return our territories as of the 1991 borders, only after that, we can start peace negotiations with Russia.


ROBERTSON: And his assessment is that Putin is not making gains on the battlefield, that he will continue rhetoric like this and he will continue the tactic of trying to force that pressure for talks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic Robertson reporting for us from Kyiv, thank you very much, Nic.

Coming up, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, on risings U.S. tensions with Russia and the Democrats' final push before the midterm elections. She's standing by to join us live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. That's next.



BLITZER: Tonight, as the clock ticks toward Election Day here in the United States, President Biden is continuing to sharpen his focus on economic issues.

Let's go to our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly. Phil, the president is stressing day-to-day economic concerns facing Americans right now. Tell us about his message today.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. It's an acute political vulnerability and very real source of economic pain. Administration officials acknowledge that, but the president and his team making clear today they are taking action. There's only so much they can do when it comes to those top line price increases that remain near a 40-year high. But the president and his team have really focused on trying to lower costs in other elements of the cost of living.

Today, it was on bank related items, overdraft fees and basically making them illegal. It's a part of a series of smaller bore targeted efforts, whether it's on airlines, car rental companies, the internet, to try and lessen or lower fees over the course of time.

What it underscores more than anything else, though, as you've seen the president acknowledge, is for an administration that helped navigate and put into place one of the quickest economic recoveries in history based on the post-pandemic economic state of play, there is still very real concern outside in the country about the state of the economy. The president making clear he understands that. He hears it. You've seen it with the actions on gas prices, the actions on student loans, issue after issue after issue, trying to attack that issue. Whether or not it actually resonates, obviously, we'll see in about two weeks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, 13 days, or whatever. Phil Mattingly, thank you very much.

Joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre. Karine, thanks very much for coming in.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thank you. You extended invite and I accepted.

BLITZER: Good to have you in our situation room. I know you guys have one over at the White House as well.

The president says polls will shift over these next 13 days as the campaigns wind down, so why is he putting an additional $18 million towards a push to hold House and Senate Democrats?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, as you know, and I know you covered the White House yourself, Wolf, during, I believe, the Bill Clinton years, we were just talking about that, I need to be very careful. There's the Hatch Act, and so for my position, I don't want to -- we believe in the rule of law, I don't want to break that.

BLITZER: But when you're away from the White House, can't you talk about these political issues?

JEAN-PIERRE: Actually, I've been told to be very mindful and to be very careful and wherever I go as a spokesperson. I have to be careful of what I say. I will say this, yes, polls go down, polls go up. The thing that -- and this is what Phil was talking about, the thing that the president thinks about all the time, especially as it relates to the economy, he thinks about how is he going to deliver for American families, how is he going to lower costs?

You heard Phil talk about what he did in the post era that we're in when it comes to the American rescue plan, making sure that we have a strong economy and we see this with jobs going up, with strong jobs market, low unemployment at about 3.5 percent. And so that matters. And we're going to continue to do the work to lower costs for American people, as we did today.

So look, we understand what's at stake and that's what the president has been very clear about these last couple of days, to show the American people that there's going to be a choice that needs to be made and to be very clear about what the other side is trying to do as well. They're trying to take away the gains that we've made.

The plans that they have put forth, it's not a plan to fix inflation, it's actually a plan to increase inflation, not lower it. And so we've been very clear on that and that's what we've been talking about in these couple of days.

BLITZER: What makes President Biden so confident that in these final few days, these last two weeks, the Democrats will see a surge and will eventually win?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I think it's because the congressional Republicans are not hiding the ball. They've been very clear. They've been very clear about what they're going to do if they indeed take control, right, which is put Medicare and social security on the chopping block. And if you do that, inflation goes up. They're going to actually hold our own economy if that doesn't happen, right, which will hurt our economy and actually put it at risk when they talk about the debt ceiling and wanting to get rid of it, right?


And so we are making sure that everybody understands what's at stake. You think about the Inflation Reduction Act, which is something only Democrats voted for, which is something that's going to heal a lot, it's going to with healthcare, right, lower premiums, making sure that Medicare could actually negotiate to lower costs for seniors. The first thing that they have said they want to do is get rid of it. And so that's what we're trying to do, making the choice (ph) very, very clear.

BLITZER: And a lot of those actions in the Inflation Reduction Act, as it's called, won't take effect for a while.

JEAN-PIERRE: They'll take effect next year, early next year. Early next year, you'll see energy costs --

BLITZER: But they're not taking effect right now.

JEAN-PIERRE: But here's the thing. The thing that we are doing right now is showing that we are listening to the American people. We have to remember this is a president that grew up in Scranton and he understood what his parents were dealing with when they were around the kitchen table trying to figure out how they were going to make ends meet. And we know that's what American families across the country are dealing with right now.

BLITZER: You have said that the president finds the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate, John Fetterman, to be impressive and a capable individual. After last night's debate, does he have any concerns about Fetterman?

JEAN-PIERRE: Not at all. Look, Fetterman, as we know, he's also lieutenant governor. He's been able to serve in that role. He is -- I've also said the president sees him as an authentic advocate for the middle class and that matters.

And so the president has been the lieutenant governor for quite some time over the past several months. He was just there a week ago today when we were in Pittsburgh talking about the Fern Hollow Bridge that collapsed in January when the president talked about the bipartisan infrastructure law, his law that helped really not just create jobs but also is going to help build that bridge back up in less than a year. And those are the things that the president is going to continue to speak to. BLITZER: As you know, the president met with Pentagon leaders today amid rising tensions, very worrisome tensions with Russia right now, spent a lot of time talking about Russia's warnings of the so-called dirty bomb.

Has he discussed with you or do you have any sense of how the U.S. would respond if the Russians, for example, were to use some sort of radioactive dirty bomb against Ukraine?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, we've been very clear. We have categorically called the Russians and said what they are claiming is false. We have been very clear that we are going to continue to assist the Ukrainian people and support them until this war ends. The president has been very clear about that. We have seen how bravely they have been fighting for their freedom, for their democracy.

And so what you're seeing is our allies, our partners coming together in a way that Putin didn't know we can do. And so we're going to continue that support.

Look, I'm not going to go into our conversations with Russia. I'm not going to specifics, but we have been also very clear we have not seen any evidence that that is going to occur, the atomic bombs that they have been saying that Ukraine is going to potentially do, which is, again, not true. So, we haven't seen any kind of those preparations. But, again, we have been communicating with Russia very clearly about any actions that they might take, but we're not going to get into those conversations.

BLITZER: I'm anxious to get your thoughts on this New York Times report that U.S. officials thought they had a deal with the Saudis before the president went to Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, for his meeting with the crown prince, but they thought they had a deal on oil supplies, price of oil, but that the Saudis backed out of that deal. What can you tell us about that?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, we have been very clear about how we believe parts of that report was mischaracterized and there has been some changes that have been made to that report. Look, we've also been clear that our trip, that the president's trip to the Middle East was not about oil. What the president is focused on currently in today and has been for the past several months since the war started, remember, because of Russia's war, we have seen a spike in gas prices, so as you hear us say, Russia's tax hike. And so we have done everything that we can and continue to do the work the president has to lower the prices for the American people. That's why you see gas prices go down.

BLITZER: Was there an understanding, Karine, with the Saudis that the Saudis then backed away from?

JEAN-PIERRE: Again, the trip was not about oil. That was not what we went to do there. What we wanted to do was make sure that that region is so critical. And you saw the Israeli president was visiting President Biden today and it was about their integration back into the Middle East. And so we wanted to play a role in that. And let's not forget what we saw. I remember being on Air Force One leaving here, going to Saudi Arabia. One thing that we did was fly from Israel to Saudi Arabia, which has never been done before. Those are opening those civilian airways airlines was incredibly important.


So, those are the things that we're focused on. Let's not forget the Yemen truce, which is another reason that we thought the trip was incredibly important, and also the Lebanon and Israel maritime agreement that's about to be signed. And so there are so many strategic, key elements of the trip that the president did that we saw come out of it that was so incredibly important.

BLITZER: Karine Jean-Pierre, thanks very much for coming in to our Situation Room.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: I appreciate it very much.

Just ahead, former President Trump's lawyers have accepted what's called the service of the subpoena from the House January 6th select committee. So, what happens next? Stay with us.



BLITZER: New developments tonight in Georgia's 2020 presidential election probe. A judge now says former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows must testify before a grand jury.

CNN's Sara Murray is joining us with details right now. Sara, this is a victory for investigators in Georgia. Update our viewers on the latest.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf. A judge in South Carolina, which is where Mark Meadows live, said that he does have to go to Georgia and show up before the grand jury. The judge has decided he was necessary to the investigation and was pretty skeptical of the arguments Meadows was putting forward for why he shouldn't have to show up.

So, this is a victory for prosecutors in part because it sort of gets them over the first hurdle, which is this judge saying, look, you do need to show up in Georgia. Prosecutors put forth a couple of dates in November where they thought he could show up and testify. But Meadows' team is already saying that he plans to repeal. They're going to look at their legal options. We're waiting to see how that plays out. We haven't seen court filings to that effect.

And, remember, this goes back to this criminal investigation in Georgia into efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to try to overturn the 2020 election. We all remember that phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find the votes needed for Trump to win Georgia, a state he lost. Meadows was on that call. That's one of the reasons that prosecutors want to talk to him. But there are a number of other things he did related to the Georgia election in 2020 that prosecutors are interested in.

We should also note he's not the only high-profile witness who's trying to fight this subpoena. We've talked about South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. He's another one who is still trying to fight his subpoena to appear before the grand jury. The Supreme Court has temporarily put that subpoena on hold while they decide if they're going to weigh in on this case. And these are two very big witnesses for the D.A.'s office and waiting to see what happens with them.

BLITZER: All right. Sara Murray, thank you very, very much.

Let's bring in our Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig right now. Elie, Meadows was on former President Trump's, as we just heard, infamous call with the Georgia secretary of state asking him to, quote, find votes. How crucial is his testimony?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, it doesn't get any more important than Mark Meadows when it comes to witnesses. That's a great example right there. Not only is Mark Meadows on that phone call, but he actually initiates it. He is the one who, right in the beginning, says, okay, I have the president over here, I have Secretary Raffensperger over here. So, if I had a chance to question Mark Meadows, I would want to know all about what conversations happened before that call and what conversations happened after that. And he really was by Trump's side throughout the weeks and days leading up to January 6th.

BLITZER: Meadows' team is, of course, appealing this decision. Could he try and hide, Elie, behind executive privilege?

HONIG: He can and he has, but I don't think he'll succeed. I think both of his arguments that he will make on appeal will fail. He's arguing, first of all, because I live in South Carolina, they can't force me to testify in the Georgia special grand jury. That argument was rejected by the trial court judge. Others have tried it and lost. And with respect to executive privilege, Wolf, it wouldn't apply to conversations, even though Mark Meadows was chief of staff, if they had to do with wrongdoing or potential criminality. And that's really the gist of the D.A.'s argument here.

BLITZER: What about other key witnesses?

HONIG: Well, the D.A. has been very aggressive in going after high- profile witnesses, not just Mark Meadows, but Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and, by and large, the Fulton County district attorney has been winning these court fights.

Now, it's taking time. These proceedings are dragging out and we're getting towards the end of 2022, but the D.A. is fighting, and, by and large, prevailing.

BLITZER: Elie Honig, thank you very, very much for that analysis. Coming up, my exclusive one-on-one interview with the Israeli president as his country faces pressure right now to supply Ukraine with missile defense systems.



BLITZER: Now, my exclusive one-on-one interview with the president of Israel, Isaac Herzog. We spoke shortly after he met with President Biden here in Washington, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine on their agenda.


BLITZER: Am I right in hearing you say, your strategic limitations will prevent Israel from providing these air defense systems that the Ukrainians are begging you for?

ISAAC HERZOG, ISRAELI PRESIDENT: Not necessarily. It depends which air defense systems.

BLITZER: Well, which ones are you prepared to provide.

HERZOG: I'm not going to negotiate with you.

Let's put things in perspective. There are weapons the American administration is not supplying to Ukraine. There are weapons that Europe is not supplying to Ukraine.

On the other hand, there is a lot of issues and things that can be supplied to Ukraine. We identify with the suffering of the Ukrainian people. We want this havoc to end. We want to find solutions to end this conflict.

Definitely, we support the territorial integrity of Ukraine. So, as far as we can go in many non-lethal products, we can do. As far as dealing with Ukraine, Iranian drones, we are definitely analyzing the situation.

BLITZER: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently said this. He asked Israel to choose a side. And he asked if Israel is, quote, with the democratic world or with those who turn a blind eye to Russian terror.

HERZOG: It's an unfair judgment. We have respect for President Zelenskyy. I myself have met President Zelenskyy, a year ago. We had a dialogue with President Zelenskyy. And we understand the enormous plight and pain of the Ukrainian people. We are treating hospitalized Ukrainians in Israeli hospitals.


We have absorbed many refugees in our country, including, personally, me and my wife. We have absorbed them and are assisting a family of refugees in Israel. So, we are definitely there. And I think rhetoric of that nature does not help. BLITZER: As you know, there has also been some serious criticism of

Israel coming from both Democrats and Republicans, members of Congress who would like Israel to be more assertive in helping Ukraine right now.

HERZOG: It's very easy to come to Israel with questions and comments on this issue. After all, there are many, many solutions and products that can be supplied to Ukraine. There are things that we can even do technically. For example, there are weapons that we don't even have an export version for.

There are things that we don't want them to fall into the hands of our enemies. There are secrets that we cannot deliver. But wherever we can help, we are trying to help. And we said it outright.

BLITZER: I know it came up during your meeting with President Biden at the White House -- an increase of anti-Semitism here in the United States. And we saw that, just in recent days, with Kanye West, now known as Ye.

How did that discussion with the president go? I know you are very much concerned about what is going on in this country.

HERZOG: We are all concerned by anti-Semitism going on all over the world, and of course, anti-Semitism here and everywhere. Of course, the president was crystal clear, and on target in fighting anti- Semitism with all tools possible. It is anti-Semitism, it is racism, xenophobia. These are the challenges of the era.

But unfortunately, history teaches us that, usually, it starts with hating Jews, with blaming Jews, with the terrible rhetoric that people say. Okay, he said it.

That's why I am extremely pleased, objectively, as an Israeli, as a Jew, as a human being. I am extremely pleased to see this overwhelming reaction against the comments by Kanye West.


BLITZER: The Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaking exclusively earlier with me today.

And we'll have more news just ahead, including the race to win over Latino voters in western battleground states.



BLITZER: With less than two weeks to go before the midterm elections, Democrats and Republicans from two Western battleground states are racing to win over a key group of voters, Latinos.

CNN's Kyung Lah looks at the efforts made by both parties in Nevada and Arizona.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the battle for the Latino vote in the West, these Las Vegas union workers are the foot soldiers for Nevada's incumbent Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak.

How critical is Latino turnout for you?

GOV. STEVE SISOLAK (D), NEVADA: Well, Latino turnout is going to be huge. They are energized. You can tell by the enthusiasm you saw on the room.

They are knocking on doors. They're going to keep doing on doors until we hit November 8th.

LAH: In recent elections, about one in six Nevada voters were Latino, a pivotal voting bloc in the West, and a group especially hit hard during the pandemic with job losses and now inflation.

All while Democrats like Governor Sisolak were in charge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really appreciate it. Thank you.

LAH: These canvassers are hearing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most right now is the rent, the high prices of cost of living.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please join me in welcoming Blake Masters.


LAH: That presents an opportunity for Republicans in this year's midterm elections. In Arizona, where Latinos have made up nearly one in five voters in recent elections -- Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters is forging into Democratic territory.

By opening field offices in predominantly Latino neighborhoods.

BLAKE MASTERS (R), NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: People are sick of this, right? You make energy expensive, you make everything expensive.

LAH: Masters' economic and social message resonates with voters Cynthia Hernandez.

CYNTHIA HERNANDEZ, VOTER: They assume I'm Catholic and a Democrat because I'm brown-skinned. And, you know, I'm not Catholic and I'm not Democrat.

ARTURO VARGAS, CEO, NALEO EDUCATIONAL FUND: What we've seen in some Republican strategy is they've been investing over years in trying to reach Latinos. So maybe now they're harvesting what they sowed.

LAH: Arturo Vargas with the Naleo Education Fund says especially in the West, Latinos are a swing voting bloc. Donald Trump made gains with Latinos in 2020. In 2022, while polls show Latinos still favor Democrats -- Republicans

have closed the gap compared to past elections.

One area where the GOP still lags far behind the Democrats is Spanish language advertising. Democrats are spending more than 10 times as much as Republicans in the Nevada and Arizona Senate races setting new records, targeting Latino voters.

And like the entire electorate, Latinos will need to be won over to turn out.

VARGAS: My message to Democrats, if you want to earn the Latino vote, you better get out there and hustle.

LAH: Hustle.

VARGAS: Hustle.


LAH (on camera): In the state of Nevada, as well as here in Arizona, the closing message from most of the campaigns are being directed at Latinos. There is almost an event daily targeting Latino turnout, and, Wolf Blitzer, all the topics begin with the economy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kyung Lah reporting for us, excellent report, Kyung. Thank you very much.

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

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.