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Pelosi Attack Suspect Just Arraigned In San Francisco; Pelosi Family To Hear 911 Call, See Body Cam Footage; One Week To Midterms: Political Heavyweights Hit Key Battlegrounds; U.S. Capitol Police Chief: More Security Needed To Protect Lawmakers In Current Political Climate; Obama In Nevada To Fire Up Base For Dem Senator Locked In Razor-Thin Race With GOP Challenger; Israeli Media: Initial Exit Polls Suggest Netanyahu Scrape Narrow Majority; Federal Reserve Expected To Hike Interest Rates Again Tomorrow; Former Treasury Secy.: Windfall Tax Would Accomplish "Opposite" Of Biden's Objective; Mississippi River Drying Up, Raising Fears Of Shipping Crisis & Soaring Food Prices. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 01, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST, THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER:. That's tonight at 9 Eastern here on CNN. And, if you ever miss an episode of "THE LEAD", you can listen wherever you get your podcasts. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the man charged in the hammer attack on the husband of the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just been arraigned, standby for details. This comes as we're learning the Pelosi family members are expected to hear the 911 call and see the Police body camera footage taken at the scene. Also tonight, political heavyweights in both parties are hitting the campaign trail exactly one week before the midterm elections that potentially could shake up the balance of power here in Washington. CNN is on the ground in the make or break battleground states.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We begin our coverage tonight with the new developments in the Paul Pelosi attack. The suspect now formally arraigned and making his first appearance in the California court room. Let's get straight to CNN Security Correspondent Josh Campbell. He is just outside the courthouse in San Francisco. Josh, tell us what happened inside the court today.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, that hearing just wrapping up here at the Hall of Justice in Downtown San Francisco for David DePape, the man who is accused of that brutal assault on a Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in the early morning hours here in San Francisco on Friday. He has now been charged with six counts, which include attempted murder, burglary, false imprisonment, as well as threatening the family member of a federal official. Of course, on top of that, he is now also facing federal charges for threatening the family member of a public official as well as attempted kidnapping, that pertaining to his alleged desire to try to kidnap the House Speaker herself.

Now, in this hearing that just now wrapped up, the judge entered a protective order indicating that this defendant cannot have any contact with the Pelosi family. He is also not allowed within 150 yards of the Pelosi residence. Of courses these charges, very serious. He has been accused of entering that residence early Friday morning and engaging in an assault of Mr. Pelosi, Mr. Pelosi suffering significant injuries including a fractured skull. He remains in intensive care at this hour.

Now, just as this hearing was wrapping up, the public defender in the case stepped before the microphone, spoke to reporters. He was asked specifically about potential mental health issues involving this defendant. Take a listen.


ADAM LIPSON, PUBLIC DEFENDER: There has also been a lot of speculation regarding Mr. DePape's vulnerability to misinformation, and that's certainly something that we're going to look into, that we're going to delve into, as his defense team. But, again, it would be premature to talk about that at this time.


CAMPBELL: And, of course, the genesis for that question was because CNN has been reporting and looking at the footprint online of this suspect. It is littered with conspiracy theories, Wolf, regarding the 2020 election, regarding COVID vaccines, regarding the January 6 insurrection, obviously, raising questions about what this individual actually believed and what was motivating him to allegedly act on that day.

Lastly, I'll tell you, there is another hearing that is set for this Friday, but we're still waiting to hear what the judge's ruling is on bail. Of course, we expect prosecutors, in this case, to ask for no bail, that this suspect be confined until the next court date, Wolf.

BLITZER: Josh Campbell on the scene for us. Josh, thank you very much. Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd right now. Brian, the man responsible for securing the U.S. Capitol here in Washington now says he needs more resources to keep Congress safe, members of Congress safe. What else can you tell us?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger says his force has reviewed the attack on Speaker Pelosi's husband. There is now considerable pressure on Chief Manger from lawmakers to step up security for members of Congress and their families. And, tonight, he is responding to it.

An urgent call to fund more security for lawmakers from the Head of the Police force that protects them, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger saying, "Today's political climate calls for more resources to provide additional layers of physical security for members of Congress", Manger pledging to keep hiring more officers and expanding cooperation with local law enforcement when members travel, members of Congress calling for greater protection in the wake of the vicious attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D) CALIFORNIA: He went there knowing where she lived. He had a plan and he intended to carry it out.


This was not some random individual and that should concern all of us.


TODD: Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell has himself been the recipient of threats, including this one, targeting his family in August.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut his (inaudible) head off. Swalwell is a worthless piece of (inaudible). Cut his wife's head off, cut his kids' heads off.


TODD: The Capitol Police currently don't have the resources to protect the families of congressional leaders. Sources tell CNN or for every member of Congress to get their own security detail in their home districts. Members of Congress were allotted another $10,000 this summer for steps like installing home security. Not every member may face the same level of threat.


LARRY JOHNSON, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, U.S. SECRET SERVICE: You do an assessment and then you provide that level of security based on the risk that's involved.


TODD: Some members are also using campaign funds to cover their personal security, even hiring private contractors. The Capitol Police opening new bureaus in Florida and California and devoting more resources to analyzing each threat received. But, the Chief telling lawmakers in January the level of threats to investigate has reached an unprecedented level.


CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I will tell you, we're barely keeping our head above water for those investigations. We're going to have to nearly double the number of agents that work those threat cases.


TODD: And how to tell which threats are serious.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R) ILLINOIS: A threat isn't really something that's called into your office. That's just somebody venting in many cases. A threat, how do find them? There are certainly a lot of people that are dangerous out there that would not put them on paper.


TODD: One lawmaker warning that increasing threats could make members less able to do their jobs.


REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D) CALIFORNIA: Your constituents expect to see you and shake your hands, be able to ask you questions, and that's going to become something that members are going to really evaluate very carefully.


TODD: U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger in discussing the need to provide extra layers of security to members of Congress was very careful about one aspect of that. He said he couldn't disclose details of those improvements because "We cannot afford to make it easier for any potential bad actors". There are a lot of bad actors out there tonight, Wolf, threatening members of Congress.

BLITZER: There certainly are. Brian Todd, thank you very, very much. Let's bring in our Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller, Defense Attorney Shan Wu, and CNN Senior National Correspondent Sara Sidner.

Shan, let's start with you, from a legal perspective. What stands out to you from this suspect's first appearance just moments ago in a courtroom, and how strong is the prosecution's case here?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the prosecution's case is certainly looking very strong at this point. This defendant is in a real no win situation. Ultimately, I think his defense counsel will have to look to resolve this case by some sort of what we call a global plea, meaning, they'll want to resolve both the federal and state charges.

What I pick up, Wolf, from the judge's actions here is the judge is taking the dangerousness of this situation very seriously by entering the civil protection order there, that's like an insurance claim, just in case something goes wrong with the criminal case, just in case he does get out on bail, that will be an additional layer of protection for the Pelosi family. So, I think we can see that the judge is very concerned about the dangerousness of the situation. BLITZER: It's a very dangerous situation indeed. Sara, CNN's Jamie Gangel reports that members of the Pelosi family will actually get to hear the 911 calls and see the Police body camera footage. How visceral is this threat, the reality that Paul Pelosi, the husband, actually could have been killed?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I think anytime you're talking about a head injury, he is an 82-year-old grandfather who is fighting off somebody who wielded a hammer, according to Police. And, we heard from Paul Pelosi Jr., who spoke to reporters, and he said a couple of things that are really concerning, one, that it's going to be a long recovery process, and two, the doctors are, and this is a quote, rebuilding him slowly, rebuilding him, which means he is going to have a lot of damage from being hit repeatedly with this hammer, namely, in the head. I mean, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that this attack could have been deadly.

BLITZER: Certainly, it could have been. John, what are you learning? I know you're well connected. What are you learning about the statement from the Capitol Police Chief here in Washington on their review that's ongoing of this attack, and the resources, they will need to ramp up security and protect members of Congress and their families?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, Tom Manger, who is the Chief of the Capitol Police since shortly after the January 6 attack, came into office saying we really got to review security for the Capitol and upping our game. I think what he is saying today is what they're putting together as a plan, and what they're going to do is have options, which is how do we increase the number of people, by how much, and not just people but what about technology, additional cameras, sensors, not just in the Capitol and around the Capitol grounds, but perhaps at the residences of members of the House and the Senate.


What are the various costs associated with this, and I think what do the stakeholders think about increasing security? Some are going to be all for it, some less so. So, I think he is going to have to sit down with them. But, I think what he is doing with today's statement is basically preparing people for, I'm going to be coming with a plan and options, not just about increasing bodies, but layers, concentric circles of security that will be surrounding and increasing.

BLITZER: It is so so important. Shan, we just learned just a few moments ago that the suspect pled not guilty to all state charges. What's your reaction?

WU: That's pretty standard, Wolf. The lawyer wouldn't let him do anything else, ideally, because they don't know enough about the case yet. So, it doesn't really address anything of substance right now. That's just a standard plea you would make at the first appearance right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, guys, everybody stand by, much more coming up on this. Also coming up, more on our top story, the Pelosi attack and the growing threat of violence against American lawmakers, I will discuss this and more with the former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. Plus, we're learning new details right now about potential testimony, potential testimony for former President Trump in front of the January 6 Select Committee. Stay with us.




BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news in the Paul Pelosi attack, the suspect, who prosecutors say was politically motivated, just finished up his first appearance in court where he pled not guilty.

Joining us now, the former Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson. Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. This attacker is facing, as you know,--


BLITZER: --a long list of state and federal charges and could face potentially the rest of his life in prison. But, Congresswoman Jackie Speier told me last night she believes California, California could also treat this as a hate crime. What is it going to take to send a message out there against this kind of political violence that seems to be escalating in our country?

JOHNSON: Wolf, I will speak to you tonight as the former Secretary of Homeland Security, as a former protectee (ph) of the Secret Service, and also someone who was born in 1957, which means I'm a child of the 1960s. As you'll recall, within a five-year period, from June 1963 to June 1968, we lost to assassination Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, John and Robert Kennedy. That's one on average every 12 months.

And, I look back at that period. I think that this environment that we're in now is at least as combustible as the mid-1960s. In one respect, we've been remarkably lucky and fortunate. I'm sure the Pelosi family does not feel that way at this moment. What happened to Paul Pelosi is terrible. But, it's a miracle that no member of Congress was seriously injured on January 6 that the Speaker herself who the mob was looking for was not seriously injured on January 6 that the Vice President was not injured on January 6 despite the calls for his hanging on that day.

And so, I look at the current environment, and I think it should not require someone to die before our leaders who command a microphone, who have a voice, get together and decide we need to take the temperature down does someone need to die before Republicans and Democrats can all come together on this issue, to say we need to turn the temperature down on this environment. Members of Congress, individual members of Congress, are not - do not have protection details. But, regrettably, we're moving in a direction where all 535 of them may need to have 24/7 protection.

There is an additional issue with families. I remember well, my time as Secretary of Homeland Security, I was constantly in the security bubble wherever I worked, wherever I traveled, where I stayed, my family would move in and out of the security bubble simply because we don't have the resources to protect the official as well as the members of his or her family. And so, that's a dynamic that the Capitol Police and the Secret Service have to wrestle within this new heightened environment.

BLITZER: As you know, the Department of Homeland Security just recently put out a joint intelligence bulletin with the FBI, with U.S. Capitol Police, warning of the heightened threat of domestic violent extremists around these upcoming midterm elections a week away. Do you fear this is only going to get worse?

JOHNSON: I am concerned that it will get worse. I heard Jen Easterly, the other day, said - say that there was no specific credible threat of an attack on election infrastructure, on polling places, and I'm sure that's true. But, it's a gentle environment that we live in, Wolf, two plus two equals four. All of the claims that the election of 2020 was rigged create an environment in which the deranged dangerous among us may decide to attack a polling place, which is why regrettably we're going to have to be on heightened alert in polling places across this country, I suspect.

BLITZER: It's so so worrisome indeed. Jeh Johnson, the former Secretary of Homeland Security, thanks so much for joining us.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Other news we're following tonight, Congresswoman Liz Cheney says the January 6 Select Committee is now in discussions with Trump attorneys about securing testimony under oath from the former president.


Our Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM. So, what are you learning about the talks that are currently underway?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the former president has two deadlines, one is on Friday for the production of documents, and Ms. Cheney, who is the Vice Chairman of the of the Committee, the January 6 Committee, says that they've been having conversations, both about the former president's cooperation and longer term, perhaps, for him to come in and sit down for a deposition with the January 6 Committee and their staff. Listen to her describe what she is expecting.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R), VICE CHAIR, JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE: --will be done potentially over multiple days. We have significant questions based on the evidence that we've developed, and as I said, what we know already about the extent to which he was personally indirectly involved in every aspect of this effort.


PEREZ: And, of course, the anticipation is that the former president will try to find a way to litigate this, Wolf. We don't expect that he is just going to fold and cooperate with the Committee. He has indicated, however, that he would like to come in for an interview on his terms. So, we'll see where those discussions lead. He could just ignore the Committee and then we'll see if that ends up in court at some point.

For the Committee, however, you know - as you know, they are looking at the clock running out on them, potentially, given the fact that the midterms are right upon us, Wolf.

BLITZER: A week away. All right, thanks very much, Evan Perez, with the latest on that front. Up next, the final stretch to the midterm elections, we are on the ground in key battleground states where both sides are bringing out their heavyweights right now. Stay with us.




BLITZER: We're just one week out from the midterm elections, the stakes higher than ever in this final stretch. CNN is on the ground in battleground states that will determine the control of Congress and the direction of the country for the next two years.

First up, CNN National Politics Reporter Eva McKend in Georgia, for us, Eva, the former Vice President Mike Pence, he has been campaigning in Georgia for Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: That's right, Wolf. Despite the efforts of former President Donald Trump, Governor Kemp really seems to be in good favor with most conservatives here in Georgia. That's why perhaps it's no surprise that former Vice President Mike Pence, who clearly has political ambitions of his own, wants to align himself with Governor Kemp, saying on the campaign trail today that Kemp is one of the most successful conservative governors in America, touting how swiftly Kemp moved to reopen businesses during the pandemic. Notably though, the former vice president did not appear with a Senate candidate, Herschel Walker. When asked about this, Pence just said he supported the entire Republican ticket.

Meanwhile, we are at an event in Marietta where Kemp's opponent, Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, is about to take the stage. We'll see if she has anything to say about Pence's visit. Wolf.

BLITZER: Eva McKend, thanks very much. Let's go to CNN's Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny. He is joining us from East Lansing, Michigan, right now. Jeff, this is something you don't see every day, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney campaigning there for Democrat Elissa Slotkin. What's going on?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that certainly is a sign of the unusual moment of our politics now. And, this is, of course, is coming two months before Liz Cheney is going to leave Congress. Of course, she was defeated in August in her home state of Wyoming. But, she is here tonight in Michigan campaigning for Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who is in one of the toughest congressional races in the country. The two share a unified view of democracy and how important election integrity, free and fair elections, and the important truth in elections, is to this campaign. So, she is coming here to campaign, trying to reach out to some of those Republican and independent voters that are so key in races like this.

The Michigan's 7th Congressional District was actually won narrowly by Donald Trump back in 2020. So, for Elissa Slotkin to win reelection for her third term in Congress, she needs to get some of those Republicans and independents. And, advisors believe that having Cheney here certainly offers a permission slip, if you will, for those voters to support Slotkin. But, Wolf, the question, is she also firing up the Republican base for her opponents? So, next week, of course, at this time, we'll find out, but very unusual to see Liz Cheney on the Democratic campaign trail. Wolf.

BLITZER: Very unusual indeed. All right, Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much, from Michigan.

Let's head over to Nevada right now where former President Obama is trying to help his party in a very, very close race. CNN's Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju is in Las Vegas for us. So, Manu, President Obama is campaigning for incumbent Democratic Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto in a race that's neck and neck, I take it.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, neck and neck and not just this one, but also the governor's race here. At least two, maybe three House races, House seats are occupied by Democrats, as well as Catherine Cortez Masto, the first-term Democrat - Democratic Senator who is at risk of losing this election neck and neck race between her and the Republican candidate she is facing, former Attorney General Adam Laxalt.

Obama and the Democrats see this state see these races as Ground Zero, as Republicans view Laxalt as a potential majority maker. Now, poll after poll, has shown this race essentially deadlock, which is why we have seen outside groups spent a ton of money, more than $100 million just between Labor Day and Election Day on the ads alone on both the Democratic side and on the Republican side, hitting on familiar themes, attacking Laxalt over abortion, attacking Cortez Masto over high inflation and her association with President Biden.

And when I asked her earlier today, Cortez Masto whether she wants Biden to campaign with her, she didn't say, she said she welcomes anybody to come to this day. Wolf?

BLITZER: Manu, thank you very much. In Florida right now, President Biden will be at a rally for Democratic Senate Nominee Val Demings and Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Crist later tonight. CNN Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is in Miami Gardens covering all of this for us. What's the latest there, Phil?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, if you ask national Democrats to list the kind of highest profile battleground races they have, you're not going to see the Florida governor's or Senate race in the top tier of that list. And yet, President Biden just one week out from the election is here.

And part of the reason for that when he talked to White House officials is they believe that this is the perfect backdrop to try and elevate the message the President has been pushing over the course of the last several weeks. The idea that this is a choice, not a referendum on his administration, and that choice is between Democrats and in their views, extreme Republicans.

And they look at Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Senator Rick Scott has primary examples of those things. In fact, the President just a short while ago at a closed-door fundraiser told donors for Charlie Crist that he believed the current Governor Ron DeSantis was Donald Trump incarnate, according to our colleague, Kevin Liptak. That is a message they are seeking to elevate as we move into these closing days.

Again, no expectation. Florida is necessarily going to be one of those races that goes their way. But an effort to really elevate the overall message, Wolf.

BLITZER: Phil Mattingly, thank you very much.

Let's dig deeper into all of these. Joining us now CNN Political Director, David Chalian. David, our reporters just touch on some of the places heavy hitters are campaigning today, but where else are they heading?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Take a look at this map. You see former President Trump hits the trail in Iowa on Thursday. He's going to be in Florida. And then on election eve in Ohio. You saw Manu was with President Obama, former President Obama today in Nevada, he heads to battleground Arizona tomorrow.

President Biden not go into one of those two groups of battlegrounds but going to New Mexico where there's a tough governor's race there for the Democrats. The one place of convergence, Pennsylvania, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama will all be there in this final weekend, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's really important, because there's clearly a strategy for all of these leaders going to various places right now. They're hitting the states in the final few days before the midterm elections. Tell us about.

CHALIAN: Yes, this is the state of play. This is where we are right now, a 50-50 Senate. Everything red and blue here is up for election this cycle. Blue currently held by Democrats, red currently held by Republicans, but this battle for control of the Senate, it's going to come down to basically seven states, right? That toss up state of Nevada, you were just talking to Manu about. And Arizona and Georgia, another Democratic incumbent having a tough race and New Hampshire.

Those are the four seats with Democratic incumbent senators in real tough reelection battles. And then Republicans have to try to hold on in Wisconsin, in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. So this is where I want to show you. That is where the battle is most concentrated, Wolf. But take a look at the path here, right?

Let's say Republicans do hold on in North Carolina. Let's say Ron Johnson gets reelected, and Republicans hold on there as well. And for the purpose of this exercise, let's just say John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania wins and flips that state from red to blue.

Now you're left with those four Democratic incumbents, OK? So if indeed Maggie Hassan holds on, and Mark Kelly holds on in Arizona, you're at 49-49. At this point for Republicans to win, they need to flip both Georgia, have Herschel Walker win there, and Adam Laxalt would need to win in Nevada, that would give control to the Republicans.

BLITZER: We're going to be on edge for several days watching all of this unfold. David Chalian, thanks very much.

Just ahead, the former Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, possibly, possibly on the brink of a political comeback. We're going live to Jerusalem.

Plus, heart-wrenching testimony from the families of victims of the Parkland School shooting just ahead of the gunman sentencing. Stay with us.



BLITZER: We're following the closely watched election in Israel today where initial exit polls now suggest that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may, repeat, may be able to scrape a narrow majority in the Knesset Israel's Parliament.

CNN Hadas Gold is joining us live from Jerusalem right now. Hadas, Netanyahu maybe on the brink of a comeback. Is that what you're hearing?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He may be on the brink of a comeback. We are at Netanhayu's election party celebration and you can see his supporters starting to come in and they are cautiously celebrating and that's because those exit polls do show, those initial exit polls do show that Netanyahu and his allies may just have those numbers needed for Benjamin Netanyahu to come back as prime minister. Of course, he was ousted last year today when he cast his ballot. It was the first time in 13 years he was casting his ballot, not as the sitting Prime Minister. But we are still waiting to see more results as these polls are finessed, as more results start coming in. Smaller parties may pass the threshold and that could change the numbers just a little bit.

Now Benjamin Netanyahu may still get that first mandate to try to form a government but it may not be as clear that he'll have the numbers. But one of the biggest things that we are looking at, Wolf, in the results is the rise of the far-right, because a far-right party called religious Zionism/Jewish power, they may have as many as 15 seats in this next parliament making them the third largest party in the Israeli parliament.


Wolf, one of their leaders was once convicted for inciting racism against Arabs. This is a major development in Israeli politics. And if they're sitting with Benjamin Netanyahu in a future government, it will represent a huge lurch to the right in Israeli politics. But we're still waiting on those final results to come in.

Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet arrived to his election party night to make any remarks. We'll keep watching those polls as they come in. Because Wolf, as you know so well, things can change pretty quickly in Israeli politics.

BLITZER: It certainly can. All right, Hadas Gold on the scene for us in Jerusalem, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, stocks ended the day slightly down amid fears of a possible U.S. recession and signs the Federal Reserve is not going to slow down its sharp pace of interest rate increases anytime soon.

And joining us now, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers. Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. Just ahead of tomorrow's expected interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve, you say, and I'm quoting you now, "There is a growing chorus that the Fed should pause very soon for fear they will throw the economy into recession. I believe this advice is badly misguided." Why aren't you afraid that the Fed could do more harm than good?

LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: Because I think with an interest rates at 3 percent, perhaps going to three in three-quarters percent and core inflation still at 7 percent, the much greater risk is of not doing enough. Because I look at economic history and I see there are many times when the Fed didn't do enough, and so inflation really accelerated. And that I can't find any times in the last 60 years of American economic history when the Fed did too much.

Because the Feds got a goal. They've been very explicit about it. 2 percent inflation and even if there is something of a downturn or recession, I don't see any reason to think that there's any real prospect without a lot more fed action that they're going to push inflation durably below 2 percent.

BLITZER: So how -- will interest rates have to go, Mr. Secretary, in order to bring down inflation?

SUMMERS: Right now markets are making a judgment that it's going to be five. In order to validate that judgment, the Fed would have to do that. If the Fed back off that it would in a sense, be an easing of policy. I think that they should leave it open and vague until we get more data which we will over the next few months.

My best guess, but it's not a confident best guess is that rates will have to go somewhat above five, perhaps 550, something like that, if we're going to have a significant prospect of really restoring inflation to the target level that the Fed has said it's committed to.

BLITZER: You also say, Mr. Secretary, it's substantially more likely than not that we will have a recession next year here in the United States. What can Americans do in these coming months to prepare themselves financially for this?

SUMMERS: This is a moment to borrow longer term, rather than shorter term. It's a moment to recognize that, you know, there may be some more difficult times ahead. So not to maximize one's borrowing capacity, it's probably not a great moment for substantial risk taking. Those would be the kinds of things that I think people should be, should be thinking about. I think it's a good moment to be holding on to the assets that one has.

BLITZER: Today, you actually criticized President Biden for suggesting a windfall tax on big oil companies' profits, saying this would accomplish the opposite of President Biden's objective. If that tax were implemented, Mr. Secretary, is the fear that it would backfire, potentially on American consumers?

SUMMERS: I think the fear is that if we established that whenever the price of oil went up, substantially, we were going to impose windfall profits taxes, the incentive in being able to drill for oil would be diminished because you wouldn't feel like when the best case for you happened in your oil was really needed. You wouldn't feel like you could reap the full reward of it.

So I think it would discourage investment in oil, which would ultimately mean higher oil prices. I also think that's the important effect. I think there's a secondary effect that if you reduce the cash flow of those businesses, less cash flow in is probably going to mean less investment out.


But I think the important thing is that anytime you tax something, or signal that you're going to tax something in the future, you discourage people's incentive to produce it. And I think we're just working our way out of the problems that were created, some of the problems that were created by an excess of hostility to hydrocarbons a couple of years ago. And if there hadn't been that excess hostility, we probably have some more hydrocarbons today, and now we're taking another hostile to hydrocarbons act.

I just don't think it's the right thing to do, given the magnitude of the energy challenges that we have, again, though, I certainly share the frustration that they're not more hydrocarbons being produced in the United States. And I think that's a proper area for dialogue with the federal government. But I suspect a certain amount of it has to do with permitting and regulation, and I don't really don't see how the windfall profits tax would help.

BLITZER: Larry Summers, the former Treasury Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.

SUMMERS: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, the Mississippi River in crisis right now amid a relentless drought. What it could mean for your grocery bill, that's next.



BLITZER: The punishing drought throughout the American heartland is sending the Mississippi River right now to its lowest levels in years. As CNN's Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir reports, the impact on shipping and your grocery bill could be enormous.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To navigate this river in the old self, a man would stand on the prowl of a steamship and bounce a lead weight on a knotted string off the bottom. If it was a safe 12 feet deep, he'd shout Mark Twain. Samuel Clemens made that his pen name of course. But if you wrote about this river today, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn would spend a lot of time walking on the beach because in too many places, the not so mighty Mississippi is a fraction of a Twain.

PERRY WHITAKER, MISSOURI DIRECTOR, AMERICAN CANOE ASSOCIATION: We're going to look at the field steamboats, steamboat racks.

WEIR (on-camera): Mark Twain era steamed boats?


WEIR (voice-over): And the relentless drought across the heartland is exposing all kinds of memories.

WHITAKER: It may have caught on fire or sank 50 miles upstream and floated here during floods.

WEIR (on-camera): As far as water levels go, this is this worst you've ever seen?

WHITAKER: This is about as low as I've seen it. WEIR (voice-over): From the Missouri down in New Orleans, accidental archaeologists are finding steamboat graveyards and human remains. Civil War ammo and forgotten shipwrecks.

(on-camera): And one of the more striking yardsticks is here in Baton Rouge, this is the USS Kidd, a World War II destroyer. And on a good year, the Mississippi comes to that first rust stripe, about 25 feet above my head right now. And these water levels are so low creating such a catastrophic shipping crisis that this is going to affect your grocery bill, is the price of moving.

A bushel of soybeans went up 300 percent. And there are thousands of barges full of food. And all they can do is just wait and pray for rain.

WEIR (voice-over): And if they can't get rain, they pray for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a difficult stretch of river.

WEIR (voice-over): From the Army Corps of Engineers with billions of dollars on the line, they cut channels as fast as they can with working antiques, like the Dredge Potter built in 1932, but still a workhorse and an endless fight with the river in every kind of weather.

(on-camera): You're a professional riverbed redecorated.


WEIR (on-camera): Move this over here.

BREMER: That's right.

WEIR (on-camera): Or that over there.

BREMER: As long as we can keep barges moving and keep commodity prices down, we're all in good shape.

WEIR (on-camera): That's your mission. It's impressive to see up front.

And do you know the Ole Miss better than most? You've been doing this a while.


WEIR (on-camera): And how would you characterize what's going on these days?

SCHIMPF: It is a concern, a heightened concern. I don't know that I would call it a panic yet. But we are watching the water levels very closely on an almost an hourly basis.

WEIR (on-camera): Is it the kind of thing where if this goes on, you can dredge around the problem? To a point?

SCHIMPF: In 1989, and then again in 2012, we got to an area where the -- to a level where the channel was almost unsustainable. We had numerous dredges working, and there was very little commerce going through and ultimately what saved the day was rain.

WEIR (voice-over): And these days, when you wish for rain, you have to specify not all at once. The Midwest is still recovering from summer flash floods. And if the water cycle whiplash is again, hard rain on parched earth would be another blow to farmers, already struggling to move their harvest.

Fewer and lighter barges on the river means more expensive trains and trucks putting more planet cooking pollution into our system, which scientists continue to warn while they make droughts and floods and the related crises more extreme.


And on a connected planet where one in eight humans eat something that was moved down the Mississippi was hardy souls on the Dredge Potter are going to need a lot more help.


WEIR: And, Wolf, some of the Baton Rouge locals tell me they do remember standing under the USS Kidd before but never for this long, this extreme. The forecast is river could actually get lower by Thanksgiving. And the Army Corps tells me they normally dredged through December this year, they're doubling the number of dredges. And there'll be going through February. Wolf?

BLITZER: Bill Weir reporting for us thank you very, very much.

Coming up, the man charged in the attack on the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband has now been arraigned. We have new details on the 911 call and police body camera footage, that's next.