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The Situation Room
FBI Says, Suspect Wanted To Break Rep. Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) Kneecaps, Hold Her Hostage; San Francisco Officials Give Update On Paul Pelosi Attack; Eight Days To Midterms, The Final, Frantic Campaign Push; Energy Officials Warn Ukraine Is Running Out Of Equipment To Repair Devastated Power Grid. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 31, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, we're standing by for an update from the San Francisco D.A. as disturbing new details are emerging about the brutal hammer attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul. The FBI revealing that the suspect planned to kidnap the House speaker herself and potentially break her kneecaps.
Also tonight, the midterm campaign hits the closing stretch. CNN is on the ground in crucial swing states as both parties make one final push to win over voters.
And the death toll rises from a Halloween celebration that turned into a crushing crowd surge. We'll go live to South Korea where grieving families are demanding answers about how this horror could happen.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
At any moment we expect to learn even more about the attack on Paul Pelosi when the San Francisco district attorney holds a news conference. Right now, CNN's Josh Campbell is in San Francisco for us with all the chilling new information about the suspect's confessed plans to target Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Josh, we also have new details on the extent of Paul Pelosi's injuries. Update our viewers.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. This was a significant day in this investigation. We learned that federal charges have now been filed. As you mentioned, we are also standing by any moment for a press conference from state officials on the charges we're expecting from them.
This comes as we are learning new details about the violent incident that happened here early Friday morning at the residence behind me. Sources tell CNN that Mr. Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was struck twice in the head, resulting in a skull fracture. Medics had to cut his shirt off him and because he had injuries to his arms.
We're also learning chilling new details from an FBI affidavit about what the motivation was allegedly in this case, including this suspect wanting to send a message to other members of Congress.
CAMPBELL (voice over): Paul Pelosi, still in intensive care following surgery after a violent attack at his home Friday that left him with a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and his hands. The suspect in the attack, 42-year-old David DePape, now charged with federal crimes, assault and attempted kidnapping, after he allegedly broke into the Pelosi's San Francisco home through a backdoor, went to the bedroom and confronted Pelosi, shouting, where's Nancy, according to law enforcement.
According to the federal criminal complaint, DePape stated he was going to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage and talk to her. If she were to tell DePape the truth, he would let her go. And if she lied, he was going to break her kneecaps. And he said he knew she would not tell the truth. DePape also later explained that by breaking the speaker's kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other members of Congress there were consequences to their actions.
DePape also attempted to tie Paul Pelosi up before the assault. San Francisco Police Chief William Scott discredited conspiracy theories the two knew each other before the break-in.
CHIEF WILLIAM SCOTT, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE: There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Pelosi knew this man. As a matter of fact, the evidence indicates the exact opposite.
CAMPBELL: The two struggled over a hammer, according to law enforcement. And when police arrived, DePape pulled the hammer away from Pelosi then violently attacked him before police were able to tackle and disarm him. DePape was arrested at the scene. He brought the hammer used in the attack and was carrying duct tape and zip ties, according to law enforcement and sources familiar with the investigation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi along with her security detail was in Washington at the time. She returned to San Francisco Friday and has been visiting her husband at the hospital. The attack at around 2:30 A.M. early Friday morning at the Pelosi residence in San Francisco occurred just as police arrived in response to a 911 call placed by Paul Pelosi.
SCOTT: There was a 911 call made and that's how we got there. And thank goodness that there was a 911 call made.
CAMPBELL: Radio traffic picked up the call for assistance at the Pelosi residence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Special call, special call, medic 66, location.
CAMPBELL: DePape, still hospitalized, is expected to be arraigned Tuesday.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CAMPBELL (on camera): Now, Wolf, we've been looking into this suspect's social media history. It is littered with far-right conspiracy theories regarding the 2020 election, regarding COVID vaccines, regarding the January 6 insurrection. He was also reposting videos from Mike Lindell, who, of course, is then at the forefront of election denial. He's the MyPillow guy.
But now we're learning today, based on this FBI affidavit and the suspect's own alleged confession and words that he was targeting the House speaker and that he was trying to send this message to other members of Congress, truly, truly chilling.
And as we mentioned at the top, we are standing by, just moments away from the start of this district attorney's press conference here in San Francisco. We learned today about serious federal charges. We're also expecting the district attorney to file charges, including attempted homicide, assault, threatening a family member of a public official as well as elder abuse, Wolf.
BLITZER: Josh Campbell on the scene for us in San Francisco, thank you very much.
The Pelosi attack is ramping up fears of political violence here in the United States in an already divisive climate right here in the nation's capital, Washington. There's a clear partisan split on whether Republican condemnation of Speaker Pelosi spurred her husband's attacker to act.
CNN's Melanie Zanona is joining us from Capitol Hill right now. Melanie, a lot of Republicans have publicly condemned the violence but some are actually making jokes about it.
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, that's exactly right, Wolf. I mean, instead of this moment of unity, what we have seen is Republicans actually mocking Paul Pelosi and the attack. In fact, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out some really crude memes making fun of Paul Pelosi and the incident that happened. And then you have Kari Lake, who is the Republican candidate for Arizona governor, who had this to say at a campaign event earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE KARI LAKE (R-AZ): It is not impossible to protect our kids at school. They act like it is. Nancy Pelosi, well, she's got protection when she's in D.C., apparently her house doesn't have a lot of protection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZANONA: Now, I would say most Republicans have condemned the attack, but a lot of them have been reluctant to acknowledge that some of the GOP's own rhetoric or their efforts to demonize Nancy Pelosi or their party's embrace of fringe conspiracy theories have contributed to the dangerous, toxic political environment, or they have tried to blame both sides equally.
And then Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the RNC, told Fox News that it's actually unfair to even suggest that political rhetoric contributed to the attack in any way. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN, RNC: I think that's unfair. I think this is a deranged individual. You can't say people saying let's fire Pelosi or let's take back the House is saying go do violence. It's just unfair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZANONA: Meanwhile, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy was initially publicly silent about the attack but he did come out on Saturday, he condemned the attack and all forms of political violence. But he did try to portray the attack as a broader crime issue.
However, there is at least one Republican who disagrees with him, and that is Fred Upton. He is one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. He himself had been the subject of threats. He told me that he does believe his party does bear some responsibility, that some of these Pelosi attack ads have gone too far and that the Donald Trump tweets were disgusting.
But, Wolf, I can tell you, it seems that as of right now, he is the minority voice in his party.
BLITZER: Melanie Zanona, thanks very much, Melanie, reporting from Capitol Hill.
Let's bring in our legal, law enforcement and political experts right now. Shan Wu, you're our legal expert. As we learn more about the seriousness of Paul Pelosi's injuries and the circumstances of the attack, do you expect additional charges may be added?
SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the charges they have already hit him with are quite serious and would result in significant jail time, likely. On top of that, I'm expecting there will be state charges filed too. There is the possibility of additional charges, depending on what else they find. And at the sentencing stage, when they get there, they could actually seek an enhancement for a domestic terrorism charge here.
But these charges are already very significant. They seem right on target. And DOJ has seemed a little reluctant to use that enhancement, at least when it comes to the January 6th rioters. They preferred to go with the more straight-ahead assault, trespass, destruction of property, and they seem to be doing that here. But, again, these are very serious federal charges.
BLITZER: John Miller, what do you make of how forthcoming the suspect was in his interview with police? He was read his Miranda rights but he spoke extensively to the police. What stands out to you based on this affidavit that has now been released? JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So many things, Wolf. It's a very rich affidavit in terms of the amount of information that they put in about their evidence.
But let's go back to our suspect for a minute to get to the core of your question. Here's a guy who was involved in a high-risk activity. He's going to do a home invasion by himself with a hammer at the home of arguably the second most power of person in the United States government, in the line of succession for the presidency.
So, there is an extraordinary risk that any rational thinker would calculate that he's going to get caught. And yet when his victim calls the police, and he knows it was 911, and he knows the police are coming, he does not flee. He compares himself in a bizarre statement to being like our forefathers who fought the British, surrender was not an option.
So, you have a guy who took the risk of getting caught, then knew he was going to get caught and then got caught and then gave his statements to police.
So, he's living out loud during this episode. And I think he wants to be known. He wants his voice to be heard. And, you know, the day before this event, he was a nobody from nowhere who was isolated and relatively estranged from his friends and family.
BLITZER: You know, Gloria, the affidavit gives us a glimpse into the suspect's plans. I want to read part of what he actually told police. This is a quote from the criminal complaint, the affidavit. DePape articulated he viewed Nancy as the leader of the pack of lies told by the Democratic Party. DePape also later explained that by breaking Nancy's kneecaps, she then would have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other members of Congress there were consequences to actions. Gloria, that speaks to the fact that the speaker has been demonized by some on the right, doesn't it?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, sure. Look, she's been demonized for years and years. I remember when Donald Trump was calling her crazy Nancy over and over again. He also said, and this was so interesting to me, he came right out and said that he was going to hold Nancy hostage and talk to her. So, he makes it very clear throughout this entire affidavit in his conversations with the police that he did -- was targeting her and he wanted to get her, he wanted to -- you know, he wanted to hold her hostage.
And so we have Republicans now playing both sides here saying this is a result of the terrible crime in San Francisco, as the former president intimated today. This is clearly a result of somebody who wanted to get Nancy Pelosi, and that is what this was. And to try and paint --
BLITZER: All right. Hold on. Hold on, Gloria. the San Francisco district attorney, Brooke Jenkins, is now updating us on the local charges expected to be filed against DePape. BROOKE JENKINS, SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We are truly praying for a speedy recovery on his part. I want to also start by thanking the San Francisco Police Department for their immediate and swift investigation of this case.
I am here today to formally announce charges against Mr. David DePape in connection with the violent attack on Mr. Pelosi. The charges that we are filing today include attempted murder, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder as well as threats to a public official and their family.
These charges are based on the following facts, many of which are contained in the federal affidavit that was filed today, as well as will be contained in the motion to detain Mr. DePape that we file tomorrow.
Mr. DePape specifically targeted the Pelosi home to confront Speaker Pelosi. He forced his way into the home through a rear glass door by breaking that glass. The defendant made his way upstairs to the second floor of the home, locating Mr. Pelosi in his bed sleeping. He woke him up, confronting him about the whereabouts of Speaker Pelosi.
Mr. Pelosi, who was sleeping, was wearing a loose-fitting pajama shirt and boxer shorts. He was forced to get out of bed, and at some point during that encounter, Mr. Pelosi attempted to access the elevator in the home, which has a phone. The defendant then blocked Mr. Pelosi's access to that elevator. It was at some point after that Mr. Pelosi asked to go to the bathroom, which is where he was able to call 911 from his cell phone.
The defendant realizing that Mr. Pelosi had called 911 took Mr. Pelosi downstairs near the front door of the residence. Two police officers arrived at the front door two minutes after that 911 call. When that door was opened, the defendant was holding his hammer, which Mr. Pelosi appeared to be attempting to control by holding a portion of that hammer. The defendant then pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently struck him in the top of his head.
The police then immediately apprehended the defendant. What we also have learned is that the defendant brought to the location of the Pelosi residence a second hammer as well as zip ties, rope, and a roll of tape.
What is clear based on the evidence that we have thus far is that this house and the speaker herself were specifically targets of the defendant.
As for next steps, the defendant is expected to be arraigned tomorrow afternoon. My office will be filing a motion to detail him without bail. And that is based on what is obvious and severe public safety risks that the defendant poses to San Francisco as well as the outer community. Violence has no place in this city, and we will work vigorously to hold the defendant accountable. One last thing that I want to say today is that, as leaders and as citizens, it is incumbent upon us all to watch the words that we say and to turn down the volume of our political rhetoric. We should be able to all engage in passionate political discourse but still remain respectful of one another. Violence certainly has no place in San Francisco or in politics. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. And now, we'll open up for some questions.
REPORTER: Yes. So, how many --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down. Before we get that, I would like to keep this a little bit orderly just because I want to make sure we're able to get through and not have a free-for-all.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE). Thank you for this. How many -- who opened the door for the police officers? And -- one question. My second question is he was struck one time with a hammer, not twice?
JENKINS: So, at this time, it's unclear which of the men opened the door. And we are also still flushing out how many times he was struck in the head.
REPORTER: I'm wondering how an individual is able to access the home of someone so prominent. Was there any security in place there? How was he able to open the door of this home?
JENKINS: What I can tell you is that there was no security present and that he was able to break the window to a glass door to gain entry into the home.
REPORTER: Did he have any prior contact with law enforcement, any prior arrests, any sort of record?
JENKINS: All of that will come out in court tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, we're trying to do this orderly. We'll go to Christian in the back and then you.
REPORTER: D.A. Jenkins, if you could let us know how this investigation is going to work or how this case is going to work in conjunction with or in cooperation with federal authorities who also are mounting their own case.
JENKINS: Yes. And so what I will say is that, thus far, both San Francisco Police Department as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been simultaneously investigating this case. They have been corroborating very well with each other. We have been in touch with the U.S. attorney's office. These will be parallel prosecutions and we will work to make sure that both move forward successfully.
REPORTER: D.A. Jenkins, given the intense national focus on this case and its political dimensions and some of the theories that are already out there that had transpired, how important is it for your office in conjunction with other prosecutors to paint a clear picture, including the evident political motivation for this attack?
JENKINS: Of course, it's always paramount that the correct facts be in the public. We, of course, do not want distorted facts floating around, certainly not in a manner that is further traumatizing a family that's already been traumatized enough given the nature of this incident. And so that's why it's of paramount importance.
REPORTER: Can you cover some of the things the police found in the interview with Mr. DePape in terms of his attempt to go after the speaker and wait for the speaker and what his plans were for her?
JENKINS: I think I've covered as much as we're going to cover today. More facts will be contained in our motion to detain that we will file tomorrow in court that you'll have access to.
REPORTER: Can you talk a little bit about his current state? Our understanding is that he's still being held at general hospital. Can you talk a little about that and his arraignment tomorrow?
JENKINS: So, I'm not aware of where he is currently. He has obviously been booked on these charges. We will file our complaint. We expect for him to be in court tomorrow, and that's the most I can say.
REPORTER: You spoke about things that would be revealed at the arraignment tomorrow. When and if will we see the body cam footage from the cops?
JENKINS: When it is made available during a court proceeding. That will not -- that's the way that this works. If it is played in a court proceeding, it will be public then.
REPORTER: Some of the details on the federal charges today talked about finding a journal on the scene that he had brought, saying that he wanted to use Nancy Pelosi to lure some other individuals to the home. Can you speak to some of those details? What do we know about the journal or about trying to bring someone else to the home?
JENKINS: No, we're not revealing any other details at this time. As we've said, this investigation is still ongoing. And so what we have offered is what we believe the relevant facts are that are the basis for the current charges.
REPORTER: Does he have legal representation yet? If so, who's representing him?
JENKINS: We will find out whether he has legal representation tomorrow at his arraignment.
REPORTER: So, can you definitively say now this was obviously politically motivated? JENKINS: Yes. It appears as though this was, based on his statements and comments that were made in that house during his encounter with Mr. Pelosi, that this was politically motivated.
REPORTER: Do you have any evidence to suggest it will go as far to say this was an assassination attempt?
JENKINS: What I will say is that he was looking for the speaker at the time that he entered the home. Of course, the federal affidavit contains a bit more information about other things, motivations that he's expressed. But he certainly did enact what we believe is an attempt to murder her husband at the time that the police arrived.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blue jacket.
REPORTER: Hi, Lauren Thomas, KPIX 5. Are there any plans to increase security around the Pelosi house or any other prominent public figures that do reside here in San Francisco?
SCOTT: We are working with the Capitol police. And as of right now, yes, the San Francisco Police Department is assisting with security. We will do whatever is necessary and we'll sort out whatever we need to sort out in terms of what happens long-term. But right now, we want to make sure that people are safe, that they feel safe.
I mean, this has shaken a lot of people. And we want to make sure we do what we can. So, yes, we're working with the Capitol police on that. And there is a presence right now, a San Francisco Police Department presence as of right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, try to keep this orderly, guys. We'll do one quick follow-up and we'll go to A.P., and then we go to you behind A.P. and then we'll go back (INAUDIBLE).
REPORTER: Thank you. Quick follow-up, Chief Scott, can you speak to how the responding officers are doing? You mentioned that this was, of course, an event that would shake people up, a pretty chilling event.
SCOTT: Well, they're on a day off, that's the good thing, getting some rest. But, you know, officers, unfortunately, are exposed to this type of thing day in and day out in their careers and throughout their careers. It's traumatic for us as well. But officers did their job, they responded quickly and they did exactly what they were supposed to do. So, I commend them.
This is a terrible tragedy but thank goodness for the quick response, quick thinking of the dispatcher and for a man that tried to murder Mr. Pelosi, in my opinion. So, they did what they were supposed to do.
REPORTER: Is there any evidence that he planned to target other Democrats? And if so, who? And has he threatened the speaker or the Pelosi family before?
JENKINS: So, again, this investigation is still ongoing, so we're not revealing every single fact of this case. More will come out as this continues, certainly during the course of the prosecution. JULIA VARGAS JONES, CNN PRODUCER: Attorney Jenkins, it's Julia Vargas Jones with CNN. Do you see this as an incident of domestic terrorism?
JENKINS: Right now, all I can comment on is what's before me, which is what I believe is an attempt to murder Mr. Pelosi, as well as the other charges that we listed, which we do believe were politically motivated. Like I said, this is very much still an ongoing investigation. It has only been a few days since this happened. And so I believe more will come out both to the public as well as to us as this investigation continues.
REPORTER: How was he injured and what were the injuries to Mr. DePape?
JENKINS: I cannot comment specifically on his injuries.
REPORTER: This is for Chief Scott. Chief, why isn't there an MOU or some sort of formal agreement between SFPD and U.S. Capitol police?
SCOTT: There may be in the future. But currently there is not. We have worked with Capitol police before. If they have a need and we can help out with that need, we have done that in the past. So, what I can say is right now we're there to assist and we are there helping our Capitol police partners right now.
REPORTER: If I could just follow up, can you describe how you were helping them in the past? What did that look like?
SCOTT: Well, we've had postings at the Pelosi residence in the past. I mean, these threats aren't new, let's be very clear. And, unfortunately, this is the era we're in. And we've assisted in the past at their request and we have worked with Chief Manger and his department and we are assisting right now.
So, I will leave it there and the Capitol police have asked us to refer any security questions to them. But I wanted to be as transparent as I can be about a clear understanding that we are assisting right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay.
Thank you. We've got a lot of follow-ups. And we're going to go to you and then we'll get two more questions.
REPORTER: Thank you, (INAUDIBLE). What kind of sentence does he face with his (INAUDIBLE) the charges?
JENKINS: Currently he's facing 13 to life.
REPORTER: I guess what's most disturbing about this obviously is that it's not just targeting her, right? It's family members. Can you talk a little bit -- can you offer any kind of assurance to people? I mean, where's a lot of people in this city who -- we have senators and governors who come in and vice presidents and family members. Can you talk a little bit about that, please?
JENKINS: Yes, of course, it's something that I will tell you unnerved me as a political figure in this city. I think we've gotten to a point where we know that there have been tragedies in this very city of political leaders in the past.
And so it's something that we have to take very seriously. And it's very sad to see that we are once again at a point in history where people believe that it's okay to express their political sentiments through violence.
And so I think it really demonstrates that we have to calm things down, we have to decide that we're going to be more respectful as an American society, that it's okay to disagree, but it certainly is something that has unnerved us all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) last question.
REPORTER: Can you just walk us through a little bit more of the timeline here? You mentioned something about him trying to access a phone in an elevator, which I don't think has come out before. How long before 911 was called was DePape in the house? What more can you --
JENKINS: That's not a detail that I am able to give you at this point. Like I said, this investigation is only days fresh. We are still flushing all of the specific details out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you all for coming. We really appreciate your time.
That was the last question. Thank you. That was the last question.
JENKINS: That's for the family to answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really appreciate everyone's time and attention and we know you have to all go file your stories and --
BLITZER: All right. So, there you have the San Francisco district attorney, Brooke Jenkins, and the San Francisco Police chief, William Scott, updating us on the latest information.
Josh Campbell, you're covering all of this for us. What was your major takeaway? Because we do know that she announced state charges including attempted murder against David DePape.
CAMPBELL: That's right. Those formal state charges just announced, the attempted murder as well as assault, threatening the family member of a public official, serious charges. And, of course that comes in the wake of this litany of federal charges that were also filed today.
We didn't get a lot of new details about what transpired and, quite frankly, that's because the CNN investigative team, our sources have provided a lot of information that we've reported. But now, we're seeing prosecutors move the ball forward and actually filing these charges.
Two quick things I want to point out, Wolf, and that is, working in law enforcement previously, I've dealt with numerous victims, and it is just chilling to hear not only what Mr. Pelosi had to endure but also to stop and think about the composure and the wherewithal that he had to try to find a way out when dealing with someone who was apparently very violent, who talked about wanting to go after his wife, Mr. Pelosi trying to get access to the phone to call 911. I mean, just nothing short of impressive there, to have that kind of composure in this very scary moment.
And then the second thing, Wolf, as we hear about these details, about him being struck on the head, our sources telling us at least twice, he suffered a skull fracture, to think that there are people out there right now that we've been reporting on that are making light of this, that are making fun of this, that are laughing about this spouse of an elected leader in the U.S. being violently assaulted and could have been killed had police not responded as quickly as they did, that is simply disgusting to think that we're now at this point where not only the political rhetoric is very heated but also we've seen today there are politicians out there, some of them running for office, who are making light and laughing about what happened here yesterday morning, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, good point, Josh Campbell on the scene for us in San Francisco.
Let's get some legal analysis on what we just heard. Shan Wu is joining us right now. You heard the district attorney, Shan, announce these new charges, once again, including attempted murder, other charges, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder as well as threats to a public official and their family, very serious charges. What do you make of what we just heard?
WU: Well, I was very struck by the addition of the elder abuse charges and echoing what Josh said. I mean, it's so important to remember this is a man in his 80s who was so courageous and able to fight back this way and how cowardly it is to attack someone at that age. So, I think the elder abuse charges are quite correct. And there's a federal parallel to that, again, at sentencing. You can have an enhancement if the victim is particularly vulnerable, such as an elderly person.
I was also struck by the general effort to be so open about what they can be on the investigation, particularly struck by the law enforcement pushing back against these nonsensical theories that they somehow knew each other.
And I think it's a great example of how the transparency of law enforcement is so important here by setting the record straight. They don't want to be trying the case in public or disclosing evidence. But when these nonsensical conspiracy theories are out there, it's important for the prosecutor and for law enforcement to have that transparency so people know what's true and what's not.
BLITZER: Yes, good point, indeed.
John Miller, we heard the district attorney walk us through the interaction between Paul Pelosi, who's 82 years old, and this suspect. I think the suspect is, what, 42 years old. What stands out to you?
MILLER: A couple of things. You know, I think what Josh picked up on was very interesting, and we did learn some new detail there. I think Josh, as a former FBI agent who specialized in kidnappings outside the United States, has dealt with a lot of victims who have to be thinking during the kidnapping process how do I get out of this.
Paul Pelosi actually moved towards an elevator inside the residence, inside the house, because he knew the elevator contained a telephone that he could get in the elevator, close the door, put it on the move, hit the stop button, access the phone and call police. And when that didn't work, he was able to -- and this was right when the suspect took out the restraints, the zip ties to tie him up. He headed to the elevator, he got blocked. He headed to the bathroom, got into the bathroom and called 911. So, we learned, you know, his wits were about him. He was trying very hard to get out of this.
And we also learned from the federal charges earlier today when the police came through the door and they were both holding on to the hammer, David DePape told the FBI in the interview, according to the complaint, that he knew he was getting arrested, he wasn't going to surrender and he wasn't getting to Nancy Pelosi. So, he, quote, decided that Mr. Pelosi was going to take the punishment for her.
BLITZER: Yes, awful situation, indeed.
You know, Gloria, we also just heard the district attorney say that based on the suspect's own comments, this attack appears to be, quote, politically motivated. So, that confirms what we've all suspected now and it's very significant, isn't it?
BORGER: She couldn't have been clearer about it, Wolf. She came out and said this was politically motivated and she also said that we've got to turn down the volume on our political rhetoric. So, for all of those who were saying that this is a result of rampant crime, et cetera, she said no. She said this was, you know, directed at Nancy Pelosi, that it was also -- eventually, it was directed at her husband, and it was because Nancy Pelosi happens to be Nancy Pelosi.
So, they -- you know, they're not -- you know, they're saying there is no way that this was just a random break-in. And I think it's become more and more clear what this was about.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right.
Donie, the district attorney said it's incumbent upon all of us to turn down the rhetoric right now. Do you take that as a reference to the conspiracy theories that have been shared online by this suspect?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, if you see what is on all of these forums and also on a lot of the mainstream social media platforms, the rhetoric about the opposing parties, particularly about Democrats and Pelosi herself, I mean, the claims, they dehumanize people in a way that it almost legitimizes for the believers violence, kind of like what we saw on January 6.
I mean, many of these forums hold Pelosi almost as if she's this demonic-type figure and that stealing an election is one of the least kind of concerning things she's done. So much is alleged about her online and it festers.
I also think people talk about this as if it's either an online radicalization issue or it can be a mental health issue, but, I mean, they often just feed into each other. They're not mutually exclusive.
BLITZER: You're right, indeed.
All right, everybody stand by. I want to bring in Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California and get her reaction. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.
What's your reaction to the new charges this attack suspect now faces, including attempted murder, among them in addition to the federal charges announced earlier in the day? Does this send a strong enough message out there?
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): You know, Wolf, I really don't know. I'm actually somewhat emotional right now hearing what Paul Pelosi went through and the viciousness of the attack and the willingness of DePape to not give a damn about anything. He was hell bent of doing injury and potentially death to both the speaker and in this case to her husband since she wasn't home.
We cannot lose sight of the fact that this has been promoted by Donald Trump, who. 800 times, based on a New York Times analysis, has referenced Speaker Pelosi in derogatory terms, who more recently has said that terrible things are going to happen to these electeds because people are angry. He has stirred it up. When you have people like Marjorie Taylor Greene calling on the speaker's execution by hanging her.
This is something that has gone -- that is truly out of control. And I don't even know if lowering the rhetoric is enough. It is true that here in California a political motivated offense can be deemed a hate crime. This, in my view, is a hate crime. And it should be dealt with in that manner.
And I think for all elected officials who speak and continue to speak with this level of venom that they use on social media to generate more campaign contributions, it is an incredible cancer that if we don't start holding them accountable for their words, then we're going to see more of this. And it sends shivers up and down my spine. I can't begin to tell you how this is physically impacting me just hearing what Paul Pelosi has gone through. BLITZER: And you know the Pelosis. You're from California as well. You know this couple for many, many years. So, how worried are you yourself about what's going on in this country right now?
SPEIER: I'm very worried. And I think there is a concerted effort to suppress people from running for office who are of a particular political bent. And I really worry. I worry that someone could come into an elected official's home and with virtually, you know, a small amount of material. I mean, he didn't have a gun. He had two hammers, a rope and some wrist ties, that he could -- that he could do so much damage. And it just makes us all feel very vulnerable.
And, you know, we do this out of love of country. This is not something you do, you know, to make a lot of money, obviously. You do this because you love serving the American people. And it just makes me worry that we're not going to attract smart, talented people in the future if we don't take real direct action against anyone who files any kind of action against someone who's elected. I've had two people convicted of having urged that I be killed. And -- but that's -- that doesn't do it. I mean, you've got to worry everywhere you go. And that's not right. It's just not right.
BLITZER: Yes, it's certainly an awful situation. Hard to believe this is going on here in the United States of America.
In the FBI affidavit that was released today, a very chilling part said that DePape wanted to break her kneecaps so she wouldn't be able to walk, and that if she were to go back to the House of Representatives, she would have to be wheeled in to the House of Representatives. And then it said that would show other members of Congress, this is what DePape said, other members of Congress like you there were consequences to actions. That's pretty chilling, that he wanted to break both of her kneecaps so she wouldn't be able to walk and would have to go into a wheelchair.
SPEIER: I think it makes my point, doesn't it? This is radicalization that has taken place online, and it is domestic terrorism. Let's be clear about that. These are people, whether it's the Oath Keepers or the 3 percenters.
I mean, 61 of those convicted of January 6 offenses are members of QAnon. These are people that have bought in to this absolute nonsense that there are pedophiles in the Democratic Party and that we're drinking the blood of our children. I mean, it is beyond comprehension that they can be radicalized like this.
And then you can have this individual do what he did, and which is so fortunate that Paul is safe and that he's going to recover.
But as someone has pointed out, you know, his physical recovery is one thing, emotional recovery is something else. And I think for the speaker, for Paul, for his children and grandchildren, this is a horrific thing to have to live with.
BLITZER: Totally horrific. Let's not forget, he's 82 years old and he was slugged with a hammer to the top of his head, awful situation.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier, I usually say this to our reporters in Ukraine, but I'll say it to you, stay safe over there. We'll stay in touch with you. Thank you so much for joining us.
All right, we're going to have much more news coming up right after a quick break. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Right now, we're in the final stretch to the midterm elections, and more than 21 million people have already cast their ballots. The candidates and party leaders are making their 11th hour appeals to voters.
CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean reports.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The race to the finish is on.
SENATE CANDIDATE HERSCHEL WALKER (R-GA): You've got to get out and vote.
DEAN: With just eight days remaining until Election Day, Republicans believe they have history and momentum on their side.
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): This is our year. The Democrats can't run on anything they have done.
People don't like what they have done.
DEAN: With the balance of power in Congress at stake, new polling from "The New York Times" and Siena College focused on four key races that could determine Senate control.
The survey finding no clear leader in the Nevada race between Democratic incumbent Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Adam Laxalt.
And no clear leader in Georgia where Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock is facing off against Herschel Walker.
In Arizona, the poll shows incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly edging out Republican Blake Masters, 51-45 percent.
In Pennsylvania, Democratic nominee John Fetterman holding a slight lead over Republican Mehmet Oz with 49 percent support to Oz's 44 percent.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: You go out and what?
CROWD: Vote! DEAN: Both parties bringing in their closers as we near Election Day.
OBAMA: Just about every Republican politician seems obsessed with two things: owning the libs and getting Donald Trump's approval. That's their agenda. It's not long. It's not complicated. And at least to me, it's not very inspiring.
DEAN: Former President Barack Obama stumped for Democrats in Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin over the weekend with plans to head to Nevada and Arizona as well as Pennsylvania later this week alongside President Joe Biden.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to be spending the rest of the time making a case that this is not a referendum. It's a choice. It's a choice between two very different visions for the country.
DEAN: Former President Donald Trump is also hitting the trail with stops planned in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio in the closing stretch.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Go out and vote up and down the slate. Vote for Republicans. Good great Republicans.
DEAN: Meantime, millions of voters have already voted early as candidates take part in final debates. On Sunday night in Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams debated a number of key issues.
GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: We have the lowest unemployment rate in the history of the state. We have the most people ever working in the history of our state. And we're seeing economic opportunity in all parts of our state.
STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: In this Georgia, right now, people are feeling economic pain. And unfortunately, under this governor, the pain is only getting worse.
DEAN (on camera): Back here in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, this is an open Senate seat. Republican Pat Toomey is retiring. Democrats would love to flip this seat. Republicans certainly want to hold on to it.
To that end as I mentioned in the piece, Wolf, they are sending in their biggest surrogates as we close it out. President Biden has been here once a week for the last two weeks. He's coming back over the weekend with former President Barack Obama here in Philadelphia. We're also expecting to see former president Donald Trump as they both try to motivate their party bases, sway any persuadables, Wolf, as we race toward election day.
BLITZER: CNN's Jessica Dean reporting from Philadelphia. Thank you very much. Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate, Lieutenant Governor John
Fetterman, is speaking out about the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband and the very disturbing divide in American politics right now.
Listen to what he told CNN's Don Lemon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Let me start with the aftermath of the violent attack on the House speaker's husband at their home. What did the attack and the subsequent conspiracy theories say about the state of our politics right now?
JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Yeah. I just -- of course, I was appalled by that and of course the vitriol that is out there in the political conversation out in America now is astonishing. It's unconscionable.
LEMON: Elon Musk pushing conspiracy theories about Paul Pelosi and the attack on him. What is your message to him as he takes over this giant megaphone that is Twitter?
FETTERMAN: No. I just am really just about just saying that I just want to make sure that we use your enormous power to just make sure that we don't have the kind of platform where we push those kinds of theories. And I'm just grateful for the opportunity to just say that, you know, given that we have this opportunity, just using the platform to really be about a force of good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You can see the full and wide-ranging interview with John Fetterman tomorrow on the premiere of "CNN THIS MORNING" with Poppy Harlow, Don Lemon and Kaitlin Collins. It is starts at 6:00 a.m. Eastern.
Right now, let's take a look at why Republicans are optimistic with just eight days to go. CNN's political director David Chalian is watching the numbers for us -- David.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Wolf, take a look at what our friends at Inside Elections put together in terms of race ratings.
They look at all 435 House races. What you see here, some races are likely or solidly blue, Democratic. Some are likely or solidly red, Republican. What you have here in the race ratings is that 205 seats, according to Inside Elections, are leaning or likely Democratic, 212 leaning or likely Republican. That leaves 18 pure toss-up seats.
But obviously Republicans adjudicated this way are closer to the magic 218 they need to win control. Look at this, wolf, 15 and 12 tilt lean on the Democratic side. Far fewer tilt/lean on the Republican side. Lots of vulnerable turf for Democrats there. Let's move over for battle for control of the United States Senate.
We'll bring that map up and show you red solidly Republican, blue solidly Democrat. You see pink, light blue leaning one way or another.
But zero in on these three yellow states, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia. The party that wins two of three of these states likely to be the party that controls the United States senate. And we got some fresh polling from some of these key states. Let's start out west. "New York Times"/Siena, a new Nevada poll, dead heat, 47 percent to 47 percent. No clear leader, well within the margin of error. This is going to the very end.
We go next door to Arizona. We see there the Democrats with a little bit of an edge outside the margin of error, Mark Kelly 51 percent, Blake Masters 45 percent of likely voters according to today's "New York Times" poll. A slight edge for the Democrats there. Then we cross the country over to Georgia and once again, we're inside the margin of error. No clear leader.
Democrat Raphael Warnock at 49 percent. Herschel Walker, Republican opponent, at 46 percent. This race you need to get 50 percent or more to avoid a runoff, Wolf. We may not know Senate control until December -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Wow. David Chalian reporting for us, thank you very much.
Just ahead, new Russian strikes devastate Ukraine's civilian infrastructure, making power and water hard to come by. We'll go live to CNN's Clarissa Ward in Ukraine.
BLITZER: As Russia faces humiliating battlefield losses in Ukraine, it's increasingly trying to squeeze the country on its water supply and power grid.
CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward is joining us from Ukraine right now.
Clarissa what's the latest?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Wolf, we are in one of the ten regions where missiles struck again. This has now become familiar routine.
First thing Monday morning, this country Ukraine wakes up to the air raid sirens and the sounds of missiles coming in targeting civilian infrastructure, now in this case the vast majority of those missiles were intercepted. The Ukrainian air force is saying something like 40 of the more than 50 missiles that targeted Ukraine why intercepted.
But nonetheless, a number did still find their targets that left hundreds of thousands of people in Kyiv without power, hundreds of thousands of people here Zaporizhzhia without power, the hospital was using emergency power to operate. People in Kiev were without water, people being told to stock up on water so this is rapidly becoming a serious problem for the Ukrainians, Wolf. They've been dealing with this but there's no sense this is going away.
And today, tonight, you can see behind me pitch black. There have been regular blackouts continuing here and really the government urging people to conserve electricity to the best of their ability, Wolf.
BLITZER: So, based on what you're seeing over there how much longer can Ukraine handle these Russian attacks aimed at Ukrainian energy sources?
WARD: Well, this is the real question, Wolf, because while Ukraine has been really quickly trying to rebuild the grid and get things back on track as soon as these attacks happen they're happening so regularly so frequently it's becoming impossible for to us do that.
So, today, we heard from the Ukrainian foreign minister who said, we have actually run out of equipment to rebuild the grid. So he's issuing an appeal to other countries, to allies to please supply them with equipment that would enable them to try to rebuild the grid. We are also hearing some more extreme instances for example one Ukrainian official urging Ukrainians who are living overseas who left in the early days of the war don't come back to Ukraine this winter because the country cannot physically cope with that kind of strain on the grid right now.
And even President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned the people this is going to be an incredibly tough winter.
So they are persevering. They are doing whatever they can to try to rebuild as quickly as these attacks happen and they're imploring allies to provide more key air systems. They cited the example of the German Irish air defense system that arrived that was used today to intercept missiles it operated at 100 percent efficiency. They're asking the Germans and the U.S. as well, I should add, to provide more of these air defense systems, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yeah, they clearly need more air defense.
Clarissa Ward, stay safe out there in Zaporizhzhia. We will stay in touch with you. Appreciate it very, 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.