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Four Days To Go, Final Sprint To Midterm Finish Line; Biden Pivots Closing Pitch From Democracy To Economy; Deadline Passes For Trump To Comply With January 6 Committee Subpoena; Oath Keepers Leader Takes Stand At Seditious Conspiracy Trial; Kyrie Irving "Deeply Sorry" To Jewish Community. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 04, 2022 - 18:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, as Georgia wraps a record- breaking run of early voting, candidates there and across the country are making urgent closing arguments. We're following the final sprint to the midterm finish line, which is four days to go before Election Day.

President Biden is heading to a campaign event in Illinois, pivoting back to issue one for voters, the economy. Will the final pre-election jobs report help him make his case?

And today was the deadline for former President Trump to comply with a subpoena hand over to the January 6th select committee. Stand by for an update on the panel's demand for Trump's cooperation and what happens next.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, Wolf Blitzer is off today, I'm Brianna Keilar, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

More than 34 million Americans have already cast their ballots with just four days to go until the midterm election that will determine control of Congress. CNN's Omar Jimenez reports the economy is the most important issue for voters and races in some key battleground states are neck and neck.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With four days until the votes are counted, the latest jobs report is taking center stage in an election where the economy is issue number one.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Folks, our economy continues to grow and add jobs even as gas prices continue to come down. But we have got a lot more to do.

JIMENEZ: Even as the U.S. economy adds 261,000 jobs for the month October and unemployment remains historically low, voters across the country are expressing concern about rising prices.

RON RADUECHEL, WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN, RESIDENT: People are scrambling to buy gasoline so they could go to work or figure out what they're going to have for dinner because the cost of food is so expensive.

JIMENEZ: Heading into the final weekend before Election Day, the battle for control of the Senate is on a knife's edge.

SENATE CANDIDATE CHERI BEASLEY (D-NC): Folks are feeling pain at the pump to the cost of prescription drugs and everything in between and in the greatest country in the world.

JIMENEZ: In battleground Wisconsin, dueling bus tours as the candidates for Senate hope to drive voters to the polls. Republican Senator Ron Johnson refusing to commit to accepting the results of next week's election.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I sure hope I can, but I can't predict what the Democrats might have planned.

JIMENEZ: What is your response to that?

SENATE CANDIDATE MANDELA BARNES (D-WI): He showed us exactly who he is.

JIMENEZ: Johnson's Democratic opponent, Mandela Barnes, says the Republican senator's comments were to be expected.

BARNES: It's the height of arrogance. But that's who he's always been. That's who he'll continue to be. They try to overturn a free and fair election by sending fraudulent electors to the vice president. And they weren't successful in 2021 and we won't let them be successful this year.

JIMENEZ: Johnson has claimed he had no knowledge of any fraudulent elector plot.

Across the country, candidates from both parties bringing in high profile surrogates for the final stretch, President Biden campaigning tonight in Illinois, ahead of the visit Saturday to Pennsylvania, where he and former President Obama will rally for Democrats, including Senate Nominee John Fetterman.

Former President Donald Trump will also be in Pennsylvania, stumping for Republican Senate Nominee Mehmet Oz. And while Oprah Winfrey helped turn Oz into a television star, she's hoping to halt his political rise, throwing her support behind Fetterman.

OPRAH WINFREY, T.V. HOST: If I lived in Pennsylvania, I would also have already cast my vote for John Fetterman for many reasons.

LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): I mean, she's an icon. I mean, it's unbelievable. It is an honor and I am so grateful.

JIMENEZ: On Sunday, Biden will be on the trail in New York for Governor Kathy Hochul while Trump heads to Florida for a rally with Senator Marco Rubio but not Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis releasing a new video today suggesting saying God created the Republican leader to be a fighter for Florida.


JIMENEZ (on camera): Now, heading into this weekend, it is crunch time here in Wisconsin. Both Mandela Barnes and Ron Johnson will be making some of their final stops. And at almost every stop we have been to, there have been jokes about how elections here in Wisconsin are close. Those jokes are slated to become a reality come Election Day as polls have shown no clear leader among these two.

But what has been clear for these candidates are the stakes, as both of them have been campaigning on the country being on the line. Brianna?

KEILAR: Omar Jimenez, thank you for that report. Let's take a closer look now at all of this with CNN Chief National Correspondent and the anchor of Inside Politics, John King, who is at our magic wall.


So, John, CNN has partnered with Inside Elections, and I know you have a look at the final race readings ahead of Tuesday.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We do, Brianna, and it is stunning, the shift toward Republicans in the final days. Let's start by setting the table. This is the current House and the current map. On Tuesday, we'll fill in a new map. All the lines have changed because of the census two years ago. But the Democrats have the majority, but Republicans do not need much to pick it up.

So, let's flip to where we are. You noted, we partnered with Inside Elections. These are our final rejections 216 races already tilting, leaning likely or solid Republican. That leaves Republican only two races if all of this held away from the majority, the battlefield tilting their direction.

Look at the shifts that we have made in these final rankings. I just want to bring this up. 22 House races in all shift. Let me stretch this out for you. Forgive me for turning my back. 22 House races in all shift, only two towards the Democrats. 20 races shifting toward Republicans. Our old projection yesterday, we were projecting Republicans could gain anywhere from 8 to 25 seats. Because of these shifts, now Republicans could gain 13 to 30 seats. There are some Republicans out there, Brianna, who think it could go even higher.

And, look, the competitive races, the gold races are tossups, the lighter races mean they're leaning or tilting one way, they've run coast to coast. Let's just look at a couple in these House races. One of them, believe it or not, is the chairman of the Democratic campaign. Congressman Sean Maloney is raising money to help other Democrats win back the House or keep the House. He's now in trouble. We now call this a tossup race against the Republican opponent there, something to watch in New York State.

Several races in play, let's come back out and look at just one more along the East Coast. Again, they search over and over. But we now tilt Republican, Virginia's second Republican district. That's Elaine Luria. It has always been a tough district. She is nationally known because of her role on the January 6th committee. This was a tossup race in the old rankings, it now tilts Republicans because of the dynamic under play. And, again, if you look at this map, Brianna, the competitive House races now leaning more and more in Republican favor, go coast to coast.

Quickly, let's shift over and take a look at the battle for control of the Senate. Omar was just talking about the big race in Wisconsin. This is, again, the current state of play. The Democrats have the majority, even though it's 50/50, because the vice president breaks the tie.

We have not changed our rankings here heading into the final days but we do now see more of a possibility the Republicans could pick up as many as two seats. But if you look at the map, Democrats desperately want to pick up this seat in Pennsylvania currently held by a Republican, no incumbent on the ballot. Why do Democrats want to pick that up? They want to get that up to 51 for insurance policy. Georgia is in play. Republicans think they are making a late charge in Arizona. They think there's an outside shot they could even get Washington State.

And, Brianna, right here, the reason Democrats are nervous and desperately need Pennsylvania as an insurance policy is they think they could lose out in the state of Nevada, the incumbent, Catherine Cortez Masto, your most vulnerable Democratic incumbent. This is the most recent poll. It shows it as a tie, no clear leader. Republicans have an enthusiasm edge right now. You do not want to be a Democrat, you don't want to be tied or even a point ahead heading into Election Day. You want to be up to offset that charge. Republicans think they're going to turn this one red. And if they do, it is more than likely the Senate will flip.

KEILAR: Wow. Thank you so much for that, John, and stay with us ahead here. We do want to bring in CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and CNN Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly as well.

So, Phil, I do want to start with this new jobs report, 261,000 jobs and you have President Biden messaging on the economy. Is this something that helps? Is this too soon to the midterms, too close?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In terms of the report, look, this is a report the White House wanted. This underscores the fact that the job market and, to some degree, wages as well is a true success story for this White House.

But I was actually really struck by Omar's piece, the individual he was speaking to near the top of the piece, who made very clear the political problem that has been so pervasive, not just for the White House but Democrats across the country. Prices in grocery stores, prices at the gas station, even though those have been ticking down over the course of the last several weeks are right in front of voters' faces. They are driving the discontent. They are driving kind of the malaise that we have seen when it comes to views of the economy, views of the direction of the economy going forward, and that has been a significant problem. The president trying to balance that as success story, in the view of White House officials, while underscoring that they understand the inflation problem has been at the center of his economic message over the course of the last several weeks hasn't made a tangible impact yet, at least in polling we've seen. Will it before the actual votes themselves are counted? That's still very much an open question.

KEILAR: Yes. Those grocery prices, I mean, they're a weekly reminder, right? And, Gloria, so you look at the jobs number, sure, it is good, right? But for a lot of people, it isn't changing their lives. Inflation is. It is so real. And our latest CNN poll shows three out of four people feel like we are already in a recession.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And that includes 61 percent of Democrats already think we are in a recession and that is a problem for Democrats because you see the president out there trying to say, look, we have got to vote Democratic to save our democracy.


I understand you feel that we are in a ditch. The Democrats are really the ones who would be able to get you out of it. But most Americans feel they are in the ditch and a lot of folks are not sure that the people who are in power right now are the ones to get them out of it. And so these are very strong headwinds there they're up against.

KEILAR: What do you think about the Democratic messaging at this point in time, John, where they have been on the economy? You see the president on that right now. But you see different candidates taking different texts.

KING: Remember, a few months ago, the big conversation was about have Republicans nominated flawed candidates? Are they going to lose Ohio? Are they going to lose Pennsylvania? Are they going to lose other races, maybe Georgia, because of flawed candidates? The conversation now, and the Democrats do it publicly, Republicans have mostly their fights publicly. You see the public debate now among Democrats? Should we have dealt with the crime issue months and months ago?

Should the president have tried to talk more about, yes, I know inflation is a problem, what can we do to help you with affordability issues in your life, maybe return to the child tax credit. Democrats are having a very public debate right now about their strategy. Some Democrats are saying, please stop, let's fight for three or four more days and try to salvage the races as we can and then we can argue, but that's the nature of the business.

KEILAR: Gloria, Oprah has weighed in on who she would vote for in these Senate races, and the Pennsylvania one, of course, is the most interesting because she is the one who put Dr. Oz on the map, right? And she is saying that would have voted for John Fetterman if she lived in Pennsylvania. Does it matter?

BORGER: Well, I am not so sure it does. I was talking to a Republican pollster today, a Republican pollster, who said to me, look, suburban men matter more than suburban women these days, so maybe it won't matter as much. But the race is close. You kind of never know at this point.

One thing I want to point out about Oprah is that she said, I would have cast my vote for John Fetterman for many reasons but she did not say what the reasons are. She just kind of said it. And so if it were a huge endorsement, you would have expect her to say he's going to make your healthcare costs less, he is going to do this for you, he's going to do that for you, and Dr Oz. wouldn't, but she didn't do that.

KING: Number one, a lot of people have voted earlier. So, some people would say, that person might change my mind. You Obama, Biden, others up there too. But to Gloria's point, some of these races are so close, try everything, try anything to the very end. Why not?

KEILAR: Very good point, throw all the things at the wall, right? You guys, thank you so much for the conversation.

Just ahead, Donald Trump strongly suggesting he is very close, very, very, very probably, that's the quote, close to announcing a 2024 presidential bid. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



KEILAR: And we are back now with our political experts counting down to the final day of midterm voting this coming Tuesday. And, John King, we see former President Trump holding this rally in Iowa last night and he talks about 2024 here and this is what he said about whether he plans to run again.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I will very, very, very probably do it again. Okay? Very, very, very, probably. Very, very, very, probably.


KEILAR: Very, very, very probably.

KING: That is what I say when they ask me if I'm coming on a Tuesday, very, very, very probably. Look, he enjoys the tease. And for people out there who support Trump, they love the theater of this. For people out there who don't like Trump, those moments drive them crazy. That is the polarization of Donald Trump.

You know our great reporters who cover him and spend more time talking to these people say, he is going to announce, or his plan is -- we will see if it happens. His plan is to announce very, very soon, possibly ten days from today, possibly November 14th. That would cause, number one, some big decisions at the Justice Department. Number two, it's an effort by Trump to try to block out the other Republicans. See, Trump is running, Trump is racing money, Trump is a candidate. Come on in if you dare. But remember what happened to the 2016 field, they are trying to bait and shape the Republican field here.

It's interesting to watch. I would say there is a more important election on Tuesday. And a lot of Republicans, they don't think it will make much of difference, but rather Donald Trump, stop talking about Donald Trump until after the midterm election, where Republicans have a hell of a lot at stake in House races, Senate races, governor's races and everything down the ballot, but that's Donald Trump. He's on the road allegedly campaigning for 2022 Republicans, talking more about Donald Trump.

BORGER: Well, why do you think he went to Iowa? Do you think he went to Iowa just to ensure that Chuck Grassley was going to win, 89 years old, he's going to win? No. He went there for his own needs, which is the Iowa caucus. And so he is already in that mode. And as you point out, other candidates have to think about when they get in, but they don't have the money. And once you get in, you are restricted by all the presidential fundraising rules and I think it is, what, $2,900 a person, whatever, they are affected by that. And so maybe they can't get in.

KING: A lot of them have other jobs in politics and it looks bad. To just win an election and say, oh, I got to go, they can't.

BORGER: Right. And what if he says, oh, I won't get in if Donald Trump gets in, and then he got in, and then you want to get in, what do you do?

KEILAR: What do you do?

So, Phil, very, very, very probably the House. The House is the most likely chamber to flip here, right? I mean, you have some Democrats who have written it off at this point in time. This is going to be really tough to hold onto, the margin is so slim. And President Biden last night mentioned the possibility that he could be impeached if Republicans take back the House. It is an idea that does seem to be gaining traction among some Republicans beyond just Marjorie Taylor Greene here. Just how concerned is the White House about this?

MATTINGLY: Yes. As much as some senior Republicans have tried to tamp down that talk the same way Republican campaign officials trying to tamp down any talk of the former president running again before those midterm elections, there's clearly an element of the Republican Party and the House Republican Conference that would pursue something like that and has made clear they want to.

Interesting in conversations over here at the White House, one, publicly, they will never say they expect the House to flip. Privately, they are looking at the same maps and the same numbers and the same reality, structural realities in the wake of redistricting that we all are at this point in time.


And if you need any more evidence of that, it's the fact that, really, since the spring, over the course of the last several months, they have been preparing for a Republican House and the investigations that have come with it, both on the legal side and communication side, preparations that would ramp up pretty quickly in the wake of an election if Republicans do take the chamber.

The one thing that I think officials kind of say see here is it is a double-edge sword. They certainly don't want significant investigations. The understand what subpoena power means and what people coming in front of committees means for those individuals and for the administration itself. But they also recognize the fact that there's a real possibility for overreach.

There's a real possibility they can benefit politically. Instead of the last two few years of interparty Democratic warfare, the focus now turns to Republicans and whether or not they are able to actually deliver on the goods that they are selling. White House officials believe they'll probably win that battle even if they want to hold onto the House.

KEILAR: And so what are you preparing for, John, if there is a Republican House, what the next couple of years would look like?

KING: Well, everything changes in Washington when this happens. I was here when the Clinton White House, Newt Gingrich, the Republican revolution in the mid-90s. And we were all here in Donald Trump's first term, the Democrats swept in 2018, that was a blue wave, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats take the House. It changes everything.

Sometimes presidents benefit politically from divided government. If the House Republicans -- to Phil's point, if they overreach, Joe Biden could benefit from that. Bill Clinton certainly did in his battles with Newt Gingrich and the Republicans back in the days. But you're going to have battles over spending. You are going to have Republicans trying to push priorities even though Joe Biden would veto them, and we are going to have a lot of investigations.

One key question for me, is it just the House? If Republicans also take the Senate, they will have investigations and oversight too. Will we see a very different tone between House Republicans and Senate Republicans? So, we need to get through the election. We need to know what the landscape is. But a divided government gets fascinating and complicated and sometimes it tips politics back upside-down again quick.

BORGER: And sometimes presidents can cut deals with divided governments that they couldn't cut if they have to please the base of their own party. I'm speaking of Joe Biden.

KEILAR: Yes. We will see if that is the case here. Thank you all and it has really been a pleasure with all of you.

Coming up, breaking news, Nancy Pelosi speaking out publicly for the first time about her husband after that brutal attack on him in their home. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


[18:25:00] KEILAR: We have some breaking news just into THE SITUATION ROOM. Nancy Pelosi's first public on-camera comments about her husband's recovery from that brutal hammer attack inside their San Francisco home.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It is with a grateful heart that I thank you for being here coming together this morning. Usually, we are Wednesday but Paul came home yesterday. That enables me to be at home with all of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your kind words, your prayers and your good wishes for Paul. It is going to be a long haul but he will be well and it's tragic have it happened. But, nonetheless, we have to be optimistic. He is surrounded by family. So, that is a wonderful thing.

It's a poem, it was written by Ehud Manor, and I've read it before. I read it after what happened on January 6th. And this is -- I am not reading the whole poem but from it. I have no other country although my land is burning. My veins, my soul with an aching body and with a hungry heart, here is my home. I will not be silent for my country has changed her face. I will not give up on her. I shall remind her and sing into her ears until she opens her eyes. That is and Israeli poem by Ehud Manor.

But it is a country -- we need to bring our country together. So, when we are fighting this fight, getting out this vote, let's do so with the greatest respect for everyone.

So, again, I have always said that the arts would bring us together and that is why I quoted that poem. Because we can be inspired, we can laugh, we can cry, we can be inspired, we can share common thoughts and ground, forget our differences. And I find that to be the saving grace.


KEILAR: CNN's Jamie Gangel has more on this. She is nothing, if not, tough, and I think you see that in this, but this has also been so devastating for her and I also think that comes through.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: She is tough normally and she is usually extremely composed. I think we just saw someone who is very emotional, especially for Nancy Pelosi. There were a couple of things she said that struck me. She said it's going to be a long haul for her husband. So, I think that we have been hearing, he is 82 years old. I know him. He is in great health for 82 but this was really a trauma.

And she talked about it being tragic and optimistic. But you also saw the politician there. She is getting ready for the midterm elections next week.


The Democrats are perhaps going to lose the House. She talked a little bit about that. But I think the most interesting thing is this family has just been through a horror, the most horrific attack. And Paul Pelosi was the physical victim but the target was Nancy Pelosi. And she talked about we need to bring the country together.

KEILAR: Yes. And she's not taking -- I mean, I am sure there is no way around not taking it personally.

GANGEL: Correct.

KEILAR: But she sees it as this bigger thing, as an attack on the country. And she is talking about taking a high road when it comes to how Democrats should be looking at the election on Tuesday. She is talking about having respect for people.

GANGEL: She read that poem after January 6th. As she said, look, I think there is no question that this was political violence. She was the political target of it. And I think that was a remarkably composed message considering what that family is going through.

KEILAR: Yes. It certainly was. Jamie, if you can stay with us, I also want to bring in CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray and CNN Legal Analyst Elliot Williams for some analysis on some other stories that we are following here.

You also have some reporting, Jamie, on the January 6th select committee. Today was this deadline for former President Trump to hand over documents. And they are also busy conducting interviews. What can you tell us?

GANGEL: So, the interviews that are going on right now are the Secret Service. So, even though there has sort of been a quiet period about hearings, we note that this week they had four, I believe, different witnesses in from the Secret Service. Some are former Secret Service. And we expect those interviews to continue for the next couple of weeks.

But we are in a wait and see mode. Sara and I were talking about it earlier. Those documents were due from Donald Trump and his lawyers at 10:00 A.M.


GANGEL: Many hours ago. And the committee, I am told, is working late tonight. We expect something from them this evening. But as of yet, Donald Trump and his lawyers have not turned anything over.

KEILAR: So, what does the committee do, Elliot?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, it depends. Look, we know they are not getting the documents today. I think that is a pretty safe assumption now. It depends on how they don't get documents. Does the former president simply thought comply at all or does he appear to be acting in good faith in some way, right? You have got to give him that chance. If it's the former, they can proceed with charging them with contempt. They have the time between now and January when a new Congress comes in to put a contempt resolution out there. If not, you negotiate with them and get documents at some point between now and January.

KEILAR: Does the clock just run out on that though? What happens, do you think?

MURRAY: I mean, look, I think that you -- if you are the committee, you have to be sort of weighing what the Trump people are doing. Does it seem like they are negotiating in good faith? The committee did ask for a lot of documents. They asked for a lot of communications. So, if they are saying, we need more time to put this together, we're also dealing with privilege issues, that is one thing.

I think the other question is, is the Trump team buying time because they are going to file a lawsuit? Is the idea that they have really no intention of complying with this subpoena for documents or for testimony, but they are looking to buy some time to figure out exactly what they want to put in front of a court and what court they want to put it in?

KEILAR: And, Sara, what about what DOJ is weighing right now when it comes to next steps on their cases involving former President Trump?

MURRAY: Right. So, obviously, we've heard today that a Trump presidential announcement could be imminent within the next couple of weeks. The Justice Department knows that as well. So, they are weighing whether a special counsel should be put forward to oversee the two investigations, the January 6th investigation surrounding the former president and the Mar-a-Lago investigation.

The concern is that when Trump announces he is running for president, assuming that happens, then it's a political firestorm. And then you have Joe Biden's Justice Department investigating Donald Trump and potentially the two men running against each other. So, they're wondering, do we try to reduce that heat by putting a special counsel in place? Again, no decisions have been made but these are the discussions that are ongoing.

KEILAR: What do you think about that?

WILLIAMS: Yes. So, look, number one, it is really hard to fire a special counsel. So, if, in fact, they did put one in place, you can only get rid of him or her if they broke the law or violated DOJ rules, or something like that.

At the end of the day, though, whether Donald Trump is a candidate or not, it's going to be and it's seen as an intensely political act to charge him. So, whether you have a special counsel or not, it just doesn't matter. At the end of the day, the Justice Department if they have the evidence to prosecute him, just prosecute him.


And bringing this third party from outside doesn't really change the underlying calculus here.

GANGEL: And can I just add, we have seen Donald Trump play this before with the Mueller investigation. The political fallout for him is he is going to try to use this if they go down the road. And how will his political base react to it? He knows how to rev them up. I think it would also be interesting to see how other GOP presidential hopefuls react to it.

KEILAR: Yes. Look, it is politicized either way and we have certainly seen that. Thank you all for the conversation.

So, just ahead is a major battle brewing over a Russian held major city in Southern Ukraine. We're live from Ukraine.



KEILAR: The fate of the Kherson region in Southern Ukraine is uncertain tonight as officials in Kyiv suggests Russian forces may withdraw soon.

CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson is on the scene in Ukraine for us. So, Nic, are Ukrainians seeing signs that Russia is retreating from Kherson?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think what we are seeing signs of really is some political sparring between both sides and some military maneuvers on the ground, indicative that perhaps there is going to be a greater contest, a fiercer contest for Kherson in the future, but it's hard to tell, we are not there.

What are we hearing from the Russian backside in Kherson at the moment? They are saying, look, we're not seeing fighting on the frontlines but we believe that the Ukrainians are in convoys ready to come. What are we hearing from the Ukrainians? The defense minister today said that he believed, in essence, breaking down his sarcasm, that the Ukrainians are going to have to fight for Kherson, that the Russians weren't going to back out of it and give it back despite taking down flags, despite not having many troops apparently in the center of the city, despite only sort of hardening their defense on the edge of the city, that the Ukrainians will have to fight for it, that the Russians will have losses.

And he added as well that he thought the Russians would be having a tough time because their trenches are in irrigation ditches around this port city and there has been a lot of rain. And maybe you ought to hear it behind me right now, it is tipping down tonight.

So, trenches around here are going to be filling up and it is going to make the fighting harder for both sides. But I think the significant military maneuvers seem to be coming around the key dam just upriver from Kherson that the Ukrainians have said, if they can get it within the sites of their artillery, the Russians will know that that's their only route of retreat to cross the river and that the game is up essentially and that they will leave rapidly.

Now the Russians, and President Putin has reinforced this, of forcing civilians from villages on the east bank, the opposite side from Kherson around that dam and just upriver from the dam, which gives an indication that the fight there might get stronger and might be getting closer. But, again, much of this is conjecture. There is a lot of political sparring without military maneuvering.

KEILAR: All right. Nic Robertson in from Kramatorsk, thank you so much with the latest there.

I want to get more on all of this with the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor. When you hear Nic's report there, and it is almost like what we talk to Nic about everyday, which is what is really happening with Kherson, because it is murky, as you see there. What are you expecting, especially now that we have heard sort of the rare weigh-in by Vladimir Putin himself?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Well, Brianna, it is hard to say. What is clear is Kherson is very important for both sides. What is also clear is that the Russians are sending in inexperienced troops, people they have just called up, not much training. They are going to be sitting there on the right bank, on the side where Kherson is, and they are not well-disciplined, they're not well-trained. If they panic, like what happened in Kharkiv, then that could have a devastating effect on the rest of the Russian army in Ukraine. So, Kherson is really important.

Neither side is showing their hand. Neither side is showing exactly what they are going to do. Don't put it past to the Ukrainians to go somewhere else.

KEILAR: Don't put it past and to go somewhere else. What do you mean?

TAYLOR: That means that they don't want to destroy downtown Kherson. Kherson is a beautiful town. I've been there. They do not want to destroy it with artillery, with house-to-house fighting. They could be looking at other ways to make that Russian troop path (ph).

KEILAR: So, today, the U.S. announced this $400 million in new security assistance and a revamped command to train soldiers. Is that enough to support Ukraine through this, here for a while, especially when you consider that we have these midterm elections upon us and even partial Republican control of Congress could stymie efforts to get more aid into Ukraine?

TAYLOR: So, Brianna, I don't think so. I don't believe that. What I see in today's Congress?

KEILAR: You don't believe that Republican control would stop support of Ukraine?

TAYLOR: That's correct. I don't believe the Republican control of the House, say, would stop support for Ukraine. Why? Because right now, the American people and the full range of Congress, with a little bit of concern on the left and the right, but, basically, you have a solid bipartisan majority. And it turns out that there are not many changes of seats. So, I don't see a big change in the Congress.


I certainly do not see the Congress reducing dramatically support. I see it continuing.

And it's going to take some real leadership on the part of Senator McConnell and Sen. Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and the president to keep the support up, because it's going to be hard this winter. Hard here, hard in Europe but hardest on Ukraine.

KEILAR: Certainly will be, though they seem to have quite a will behind them. Even without water and power in our reports today.

Ambassador Taylor, always great to get perspective. Thank you so much.

TAYLOR: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Coming up, accused of calling for a buddy revolution to keep Donald Trump in power, the leader of the right wing Oath Keepers takes the stand in his own defense.



KEILAR: A highly anticipated moment in the Oath Keepers' trial for seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6th attacks. The leader of the far-right group Stewart Rhodes testifying in his own defense today.

We have CNN's Sara Sidner who is covering this trial for us.

So, Sara, I mean, prosecutors are making this case, they say that Rhodes called for a bloody revolution to keep Trump in power. What did he say on the stand?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it was really interesting. We saw a very different side, or at least the jury did, of Stewart Rhodes. And it seems very calculated.

He got on the stand, and he really acted as his own character witness. He talked about, you know, how much of a person that he believes in doing the right thing, that he's nonviolent, that he wants to protect businesses, particularly black businesses and stood up for LGBTQ, members of that community. And so, you saw this side of him that was softer and gentler than what the jury has been seeing for the past four weeks where they are seeing all kinds of violent rhetoric, aimed at the Biden administration before it took office, and also aimed at Donald Trump to try to get him not to concede.

And so, you saw very different person, and it seems that this is a strategy that the defense is using that he is trying to show his other side.

The other thing that I thought was really interesting is when he was asked about what his thoughts were on the 2020 election. Now, for a long time, we have heard that he has tried to give Donald Trump an open letter to president Trump to get him not to concede. But the bottom line is he says, look, I don't think either person won the presidency. I think that it was unconstitutional because states change their laws. They didn't do it legislatively. They did it from the executive branch.

So it's very, very interesting that he sort of changed things up a little bit.

KEILAR: St's so interesting to see him speaking for himself. Is this the last we've seen of him?

SIDNER: This is not the last we see of him. He is going to continue testifying on Monday, and then he will be cross-examined.

KEILAR: All right. Sara Sidner, thank you so much for that.


KEILAR: We'll have more news just ahead. After being suspended, a top NBA star finally apologizing for posting a link to an anti-Semitic film.



KEILAR: NBA star Kyrie Irving will miss at least five games with his Brooklyn Nets as punishment for his tweet linking to an anti-Semitic documentary.

CNN's Brian Todd is working this story for us.

Brian, Irving finally apologized for his actions after the suspension was handed down.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He did, Brianna, but many believe that was a forced apology and way too late.

In about five minutes, Irving's team, the Brooklyn Nets will take the court here at Capital One Arena against the Washington Wizards without Kyrie Irving.

Our sports analyst Christine Brennan says she may never have seen a worse week for the NBA.


TODD (voice-over): NBA superstar Kyrie Irving at the center of growing controversy tonight.

Irving's team, the Brooklyn Nets, suspending him for at least five games without pay after he was asked at a news conference if he has anti-Semitic beliefs.

KYRIE IRVING, NBA PLAYER: I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life.

TODD: Then when pressed for a yes-or-no answer --

IRVING: I cannot be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from. TODD: The Nets issuing a statement saying, quote, we were dismayed

that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no anti-Semitic beliefs. We were of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: This is a mess. It's a total mess why the NBA and the nets didn't handle this immediately and suspend him right away is beyond me.

TODD: Shortly the suspension was announced Thursday night, the Anti- Defamation League said it's no longer interested in accepting Irving's money, $500,000 Irving had pledged along with another $500,000 from the Nets to work with the ADL to educate people on anti-Semitism. The ADL's leader saying in a tweet, quote, after watching the press conference, it's clear that Kyrie feels no accountability for his actions.

It was only hours later that Irving finally said this to the Jewish community on Instagram. Quote: I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize. I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against anti-Semitism by apologizing.

BRENNAN: I don't believe the apology goes far enough. He's only apologizing after he's suspended and called unfit by the Nets. He did not apologize for days when this was exploding.

TODD: The controversy was sparked more than a week ago when Irving tweeted a link to the film "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America," which civil rights groups say is anti-Semitic.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: At a time in America when we are literally seeing the highest levels of anti-Semitic incidents that we've tracked the ADL in almost 45 years, was incredibly stunning.

TODD: Pressed for days on that tweet, Kyrie Irving would only double down. The anti-vaxx flat-Earther saying this in that Thursday news conference before the Nets suspended him.

IRVING: I didn't mean to cause any harm. I'm not the one who made the documentary.

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: If you or I or any of us provided a link to "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" or to "Mein Kampf" and then said I didn't write it, I'm just hoping to illuminate something, shut the hell up.


TODD (on camera): Speaking of shutting up or at least staying silent, some of the NBA's biggest-named superstars, players who speak out all the time on issues of social justice have remained conspicuously quiet about Irving's tweet of that anti-Semitic film. But one star player, Irving's teammate Kevin Durant told reporters he thought the Nets' organization should've kept quiet about all this. Durant later sought to clarify by tweeting that he doesn't condone anti-Semitism or hate speech -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Brian, what have we heard from the NBA commissioner?

TODD: Just a couple of days ago, Brianna, Adam Silver, the commissioner, said he was disappointed in Kyrie Irving and that he would be meeting with him in the next few days. But that's pretty much all he said. He's roundly criticized for that in many quarters here.

KEILR: All right. CNN's Brian Todd, thank you for that report.

I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.