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Two Dead After Missiles Strike NATO Member Poland; Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Wins GOP Nod For Speaker, Still Short Of 218 Votes Needed; Tonight, Trump Expected To Launch 2024 Campaign; Key 1/6 Witness Cassidy Hutchinson To Appear Before GA Grand Jury; Officials Warn Domestic Extremis Poses Major Threat To U.S. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 15, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The rocket also survived last week's hit from Hurricane Nicole. Thanks, Nicole. Again, the launch window opens just after 1:00 A.M. Eastern tonight. It is the most powerful rocket ever built, and should be quite a sight.

Our coverage now continues with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I will see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, we're following breaking news out of Poland, a NATO ally, where two people are dead after missiles hit near the border with Ukraine. CNN is on the scene of the strike. We'll bring you a live report in just a moment.

Here in Washington, the balance of power is still very much up in the air with Republicans on the verge of a very, very slim House majority. This as Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy fends off a right-wing revolt and locks down the GOP nomination for speaker of the House.

And we're awaiting a so-called special announcement from the former president, Donald Trump, who is widely expected to launch his 2024 White House campaign tonight. We're getting new reaction from top Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence.

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

Let's get straight to the breaking news right now. We have our correspondents standing by around the world. Let's begin with CNN Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance. He is on the scene of the deadly missile strike in Poland. Matthew, what are you learning there? What are you seeing?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, some potentially dramatic developments here on that border region between Poland and Ukraine tonight with -- you can see a flurry of police activity taking place behind me as the local authorities move to seal off that scene, which was the scene, the site of those apparent missile strikes.

We know a couple things so far tonight. Firstly, the Polish authorities have confirmed that two local farmers have been killed in that rocket strike, which is very tragic, of course, for the local community here. We're also hearing from the Polish authorities that they are considering invoking Article 4 of the NATO treaty. Article 4 is the article that refers to consultations between the allies to decide on what action to take as a result of this instance.

What's not known at the moment, Wolf, and this is crucial, is that whether this is a Russian missile strike. Remember the context of this strike is that there were dozens, perhaps nearly a 100 Russian missiles striking Ukraine across the border at the time that this strike took place inside Polish territory. It could have been.

The Russians, I have to say, categorically deny striking any area of Poland at all. But, of course, they often deny any malign activity that they're accused of. And it could have been a Ukrainian anti- aircraft missile. That is certainly something that's been floated out there from various parties. Although the Ukrainian officials I've spoken to on background tonight say that they're very confident indeed that this was, in fact, a Russian attack on Polish territory, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. We're showing our viewers on Matthew, the video that you and your team shot there in Przewodow, in Poland, the scene of this missile strike that killed these two local farmers there, as you correctly point out. Tell us what else you saw.

CHANCE: Well, I mean, it's very difficult. It's very dark here. As you can see, there are no streetlights. It's a one-street town, and that street has been sealed off by the authorities, as I've told you.

I've spoken to a couple of local residents who have witnessed this, the caretaker of a local school, which is just a couple of a hundred yards away from where the explosion took place saying, that it was huge blast that shook the windows of the school. There were no children in there at the time. They had already gone home.

I spoke to another neighbor who said he heard a terrifying whoosh before the explosion took place, so as the missiles flew across the village.

And so the residents here are very shaken. We're waiting to see what the Polish authorities come up with. And there are investigative teams on the scene right now, which is why we're not letting us go there to actually film what they're doing right now, literally piecing together the fragments of these rockets or missiles to try and work out exactly where they came from, who fired them, and, crucially, what Poland and its allies should do next.


BLITZER: A very sensitive, critical moment right now. Matthew Chance in Przewodow, in Poland for us, we'll stay in very close touch with you. Thank you very much.

Now let's go to Eastern Ukraine, where CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley is joining us live tonight. Sam, what are Ukrainian officials saying about these missiles that hit that town in Poland?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Zelenskyy of Ukraine has made it absolutely clear that, as far as he is concerned, two missiles, Russian missiles, were fired and that landed inside Polish territory. He said that this was a continuation of what he calls the terror campaign being conducted by Russia. He'd warned in the past that the Baltic States could be vulnerable to this sort of attack, and, indeed, he has warned in the past that Poland could be too.

Poland has been very fulsome in its support of Ukraine throughout this conflict, and a huge amount of the U.S. weapons, for example, but many other weapons from around the world that have contributed to the Ukrainian effort come in through Poland.

But this is also come on a day, Wolf, when President Zelenskyy said that 10 million Ukrainians had suffered power outages because there had been another mass wave or series of waves of missile attacks against the critical national infrastructure, notably the electrical circuits around the country, but also in Kyiv, where two people were killed when residential blocks were hit, Wolf.

BLITZER: Sam Kiley on the scene for us in Ukraine, where the situation is pretty sad right now, of course, as well.

I want to get some more on all of these developments. CNN's Military Analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, retired, is joining us. CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto is with us. Our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is with us, joining us from Bali, Indonesia, where the G20 summit is going on. And CNN's Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour is with us as well.

Phil, President Biden, he is there at the G20 where you are in Bali, Indonesia. How is he tracking these potentially very, very ominous developments unfolding right now in Ukraine and neighboring Poland, Poland being a NATO ally?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. It's just past 7:00 in the morning local time here. And White House officials, including the president have been awake in a flurry of activity since long before the sun came up this morning.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan being briefed on what happened on the ground in Poland shortly after reports first emerged, immediately calling his Polish counterpart, and then briefing President Biden himself.

President Biden then holding a call with Polish President Andrzej Duda, going through the details of what has happened and what they know up to this point. President Duda briefing President Biden on the preliminary results of the investigation, what Polish investigators have found to this point, and the White House saying that President Biden said that the U.S. is willing to support and provide any assistance necessary for the further investigation but also to the Polish people generally. He also reiterated the ironclad U.S. commitment to NATO. Now, all of this is happening as NATO has scheduled an emergency meeting between NATO ambassadors later today. President Biden also spoke by phone with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, all of this activity at a meeting, at a summit of which the backdrop is all about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Any number of different areas of the world leaders that are here trying to deal with this, trying to grapple with this, trying to unify the western response to this, that has been so solid over the course of the last eight or nine months. And what happened on the ground in Poland is certainly rattling an already tenuous equation.

What we know up to this point is White House officials are not confirming any specific incident that happened, just saying that the investigation is under way, will not lay out next steps until they know definitively what happened. One U.S. official, Wolf, told me a little while ago, when I asked about the process, methodical was the one-word answer I was given.

BLITZER: Which it should it be. You know, Jim Sciutto, I know you're doing a lot reporting on this as well. This development represents potentially an extremely serious risk of escalation. How cautiously are western officials working right now to determine the facts of this deadly incident?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, caution is the word that I'm hearing speaking to U.S. military officials, NATO officials, as well as members of the intelligence committee here in the U.S. This is what I'm told is the best U.S. assessment at this point. They don't know what fell in Polish territory.

The possibilities are a Russian missile either fired deliberately or not deliberately, the possibility of a Russian missile hit by Ukrainian air defenses, which was then diverted into Polish territory, but also the possibility that this was a Ukrainian air defense missile fired at a Russian missile that then missed and fell into Polish territory.

All those possibilities still being assessed by the U.S. and its partners, and I believe that's why you're hearing such caution from not just the U.S. end but from NATO officials as well as to what exactly happened here.


Now, to be clear, this took place during a shower of Russian missiles on Ukrainian territory across the country, including striking the western part of Ukraine quite close to the Polish border, when you would have had not just missiles coming down, but also missiles going up from Ukrainian air defenses. That creates a lot of risks, including right up to the one that might be a Ukrainian missile that came down on Polish territory.

The fact is, they don't know yet. I did speak to a U.S. lawmaker who said that given the number of Russian missiles that have been fired at Ukrainian territory since the start of this war, since the invasion, he is surprised something like this hasn't happened yet. Here we are in November, eight months in. But, again, they're approaching this very cautiously.

BLITZER: As they should. Christiane, you were just there on the ground in Ukraine. And as Jim points out, this has long been a U.S. fear that this war potentially could spill over beyond Ukraine's borders and bring in some of America's NATO allies. What's your assessment?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, I've been talking to obviously quite a few people. We've had attempts to figure out what's going on from many of the surrounding and neighboring officials who we regularly interview on the program, and basically to a person, they are all saying the same thing right now, that this is a time when we just have to find out exactly what happened before we decide what we're going to do next.

To that end, if Poland does invoke Article 4, which the consultative process, that will be a moment where all the allies get together to really try to map out what's happening next. But the context is also very important, because what's happening is that, first and foremost, Russia has not attacked any square inch or attempted to of any country, even the very close neighboring ones, the Baltics and Poland up until this explosion today, it has not done so in the nearly nine months of this -- it is on the back foot militarily inside Ukraine.

And it's presumed, it's assumed by those who are watching that the huge salvo of cruise missiles and other projectiles that went into the civilian energy infrastructure and other targets in Ukraine today are a direct response for its humiliating loss in Kherson, for President Zelenskyy's visit there and for President Zelenskyy's address to the G20, where he also laid out his idea of a way to end a ten-point peace plan, which involve basically, bottom line, Russian troops first having to exit Ukrainian territory.

BLITZER: Which is the most important thing, they have to exit. Go ahead, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Yes. Go ahead.

BLITZER: You know, I was just going bring in General Hertling, the former U.S. commander of the U.S. Army in Europe.

As you well know, all of our viewers know, Poland, of course, is a NATO ally. The NATO secretary-general will chair an emergency meeting tomorrow on all of this. How do they get the facts and determine next steps, General?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, you're going to see some bomb damage assessment, Wolf. That's where they look at the craters that these missiles created inside this very small farming community. And I'm probably going get the name wrong, Przewodow, it is about 15 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

What I'd point out, there are a couple of factual issues. Number one, Russia has not been very accurate, even with their precision munitions. Number two, very close to that Polish border, in fact, about 25 kilometers away, are the towns of Yavoriv and Lviv. Russia has hit both of the towns because those are military towns inside of Ukraine.

I've been to both of those towns multiple times. Yavoriv, which is about 15 kilometers away from this Polish village right across the border, is a major Ukrainian logistics and training base. So, it could have been a Russian missile going towards Lviv or Yavoriv that got off course.

I would suggest the commentary this being a Ukrainian air defense missile is not very well advised because most of the Ukrainian air defense is on the eastern border. We're talking about a site that is 800 miles away from where the fight is occurring in the Donbas.

BLITZER: And let me just remind our viewers, and I'll leave it on this note, Article 5 of the NATO charter, and it says. The parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against all. In other words, if Russia did this deliberately, that's an attack not just on Poland, but it's an attack on all the NATO allies, including the U.S.


General Hertling, Jim Sciutto, Phil Mattingly, Christiane Amanpour, guys, thank you very much.

Just ahead, we'll go inside the power struggle that's unfolding right here in Washington as Republicans edge closer and closer to a very narrow House majority. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: One week after the midterm elections, it's still not clear which party will control the U.S. House of Representatives or who will become the next House speaker. CNN has not yet projected several key races, leaving Republicans just shy of a very narrow majority.

Our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju has our report from Capitol Hill.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): House Republicans nominated Kevin McCarthy to be the next speaker of the House.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This new Republican leadership team is ready to get to work.

RAJU: Winning 188 votes, well short of the 218 he will need in January to take the gavel.

REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): Now is the time to air all the grievances. In that way, we're ready to go on day one.

RAJU: Facing opposition from far right members, like Arizona's Andy Biggs, who are trying to extract concessions.

REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): We want leadership. And I think Andy Biggs embodies the kind of leadership that we want.


RAJU: The in-fighting comes as the GOP closes in on the House majority, Democrats expecting two years of internal GOP sparring between their moderate and conservative wings.

REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): I think that this version of the Republican caucus is going to have a very hard time governing in any way, shape or form. And I think that we'll see just how dysfunctional they are.

RAJU: But House Democrats preparing for their own leadership shakeup once Nancy Pelosi decides whether to stay atop the caucus she has dominated for the past two decades.

Congressman Jim Clyburn, currently the number three Democrat, told CNN he plans to stay in leadership but won't run for the top position, potentially paving the way for Hakeem Jeffriess to lead the caucus if Pelosi steps aside.

Could it be the top leadership position you're considering running for?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): No, it won't be that.

RAJU: In the Senate, the Democrats taking a victory lap after holding the Senate, but some Republicans taking out their ire at Mitch McConnell. Florida Senator Rick Scott plans to run against him in Wednesday's leadership elections.

What's the problem of having McConnell as leader for another two years?

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Well, I mean, if you like the election results, I guess there is no problem. But if you want to be a majority party, clearly, what we're doing isn't working.

RAJU: So, you don't think he could get you back to the majority?


RAJU: McConnell pushing back.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think the outcome is pretty clear. I want to repeat again. I have the votes. I will be elected. The only issue is whether we do it sooner or later.

RAJU: Yet Republicans also uneasy about the reemergence of Donald Trump as a likely presidential candidate and what that means for their party.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): The world has changed considerably just in recent weeks.

RAJU: All coming as Democrats held their own in key governors races across the country, including the victory of Democrat Katie Hobbs in Arizona over staunch Trump-backer Kari Lake.

GOV.-ELECT KATIE HOBBS (D-AZ): We chose sanity over chaos. And we chose unity over division.


RAJU (on camera): Now, behind closed doors, Senate Republicans engage in an intense back and forth about their way forward as Rick Scott and Mitch McConnell traded criticism over their handling of the midterm elections. And after the meeting, I asked Mitch McConnell about the criticisms that he has endured. He defended himself. And he said they underperformed among independents and moderates because of the impression he said of the people in our party in leadership roles, that they were engulfed in chaos, negativity and excessive attacks. And, Wolf, he did not name any names.

BLITZER: Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

Let's take a closer look right now at some of the uncalled House races. Joining us, our CNN Political Director David Chalian. He is over at the magic wall. David, how close are Republicans right now to winning what would presumably be a very narrow majority in the House? The Democrats have won the majority in the Senate.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Very, very close, Wolf. Look at this. Our current called races, 216 Republicans, 205 Democrats. You know you need 218 to get a majority. So, Republicans are just two seats away. Democrats are 13 seats away and we only have 14 uncalled races. So, Democrats would need to win 13 of the 14 uncalled races.

Let me show you some of those uncalled races and where Republicans may get their next two seats. I want to take you inside the state of California here to the third congressional district. It runs up here, Sacramento area, Lake Placid, all the way down the inland in California. And you see here Republican Kevin Kiley who just added a bunch of votes to his total here just moments ago. We got an update from Sacramento, he is now 10,074 ahead of Democrat Kermit Jones. This is now bigger than a 5 percentage-point lead. That's one place where Republicans may get their 217th.

And then down here in the 41st district of California in Riverside area, you see here this is a 3 percentage-point race with Republican, the incumbent, Ken Calvert, 1,500 votes roughly ahead of the Democrat, Will Rollins. We have 82 percent reporting here. That could be the seat perhaps that sends Republicans over the top, Wolf. So, they are just two seats away, two seats away from the majority in the House of Representatives.

BLITZER: It would be a narrow majority, but a majority is a majority. All right, David, thank you very, very much.

I want everyone to stand by. We're going to have much more discuss. Our panelists coming up next, including whether former President Trump will officially announce a run for reelection in 2024. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Look at this, live pictures coming in right now from Mar-a- Lago, where former President Trump is expected to announce his 2024 White House run later tonight.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is on the scene for us. Kristen, so, what should we expect from the former president?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, when it comes to Donald Trump, as we know, there is quite a difference sometimes between expectation and reality. Reality, we will find out when Donald Trump takes the stage. But when it comes to expectation, I am told by a number of advisers and aides to expect this to be a straight forward speech, that he is feeling the need to announce right now. It is not going to be one of these long, meandering two-hour-plus speeches that we've seen at a number of rallies.

And I've talked to several of these aides and advisers on the ground, asking them how he feels coming out of those lackluster midterm results, following the fact that we've seen a number of establishment Republicans turning their backs, saying it's time to move on from Donald Trump. And they have said that he feels good going into it, saying it's similar to 2015-2016, that he feels like he does better when he is the underdog.


But, Wolf, I've got to tell you, I've talked to a number of allies across the country, not just these aides and advisers in the room, who say that they're just not sure that Donald Trump has the same magnetism that he had in 2016 that carried him to the White House, particularly given his intensified focus on election denialism, which we saw largely fizzle as a platform on Tuesday.

The other thing to point out here is that as we see these establishment Republicans, conservative media, some of them try to distance themselves from Donald Trump, I am pointed out by a number of aides and advisers that this is not the first time this has happened, and yet we have seen them then gather the troops rally back around the former president.

So, it still remains to be clear how exactly this is going play out. But one thing is certain, he does not have the momentum coming out of the midterms that he had once hoped he would have with this announcement, Wolf.

BLITZER: Kristen Holmes on the scene for us in Palm Beach, Florida, we'll get back to you, Kristen. Thank you very much.

Let's get some analysis right now from our political experts. And, David Chalian, as we wait to hear exactly what the former president is going to say, there are divisions unfolding right now within the GOP. Does he still have the support of the rank and file in the GOP given the sort of miserable results for the Republicans so far in the midterm elections? CHALIAN: Well, we're going find that out in the course of this campaign. I mean, that's where we're going get our answer. He has clearly taken on some water, even with his standing with Republicans. The question is how much.

And I also think that the structure of the race is going to matter. Is Donald Trump running in a very crowded field, where there are a lot of non-Trump alternatives that split up the vote, like they did in 2015 and 2016, and does he still have a die-hard 25 or 30 percent where he can win primary contest after primary contest in a crowded field and amass delegates. We'll see.

So, I think so much needs to take place for us to understand the real answer to your question, Wolf, but we know his election denialism, which has been his calling card for two years now, was pretty roundly rejected by the American people throughout this campaign. Not so in a Republican primary context, right? Lots of Republican nominees were election deniers. But the American people rejected it and that is now the context in which Donald Trump enters his third presidential campaign, that his whole rationale for being over the last two years was rejected soundly by the American people.

BLITZER: Yes. So many of those election deniers, Republicans, lost in their bid to beat the Democrat.

Jamie, the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, he won an impressive reelection in Florida, and he, today, was responding to Trump's criticism of him because DeSantis is clearly thinking of maybe running for the Republican presidential nomination. Listen to DeSantis earlier today.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night. There are a lot, a lot of disappointments. I mean, that's just the reality. It was a hugely underwhelming, disappointing performance, especially given that Biden's policies are overwhelmingly unpopular.


BLITZER: I just wonder, it was no coincidence that DeSantis was responding to Trump today, of all days.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Not even close. Look, he was poking the tiger. Today is the day that Donald Trump we expect will announce. So, it was no accident. I think, though, just to echo what David said, what's interesting here is we have seen Republicans who used to have no daylight between them and Donald Trump, Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lumis trying to move in, now publicly saying what they would only privately say for years and years.

The question, as David said, is what are the voters going to do? Do they have Trump fatigue? It's one thing not to support these candidates in the midterms, it's another thing when it's Donald Trump.

BLITZER: That's a good point.

Kasie Hunt, another major Republican certainly not on board with Trump right now is the former vice president, Mike Pence. I want you to listen to this clip from his interview with ABC News. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that Donald Trump should ever be president again?

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: David, I think that's up to the American people, but I think we'll have better choices in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better choice than Donald Trump?

PENCE: And for me and my family, we will be reflecting about what our role is in that.


BLITZER: All right. Can you decode that for us?

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: There was a lot of effort there to not provide the sound bite, saying that, no, he does not think Donald Trump should be president again. But, look, Mike Pence is in a very tricky political spot, frankly. I mean, he wants to run for president. If you talk to people who are close to him, it's pretty clear that's the track he is on.

He has used this book that he has released to detail the ways in which he broke with Trump over specifically January 6th, saying that the administration that he was part of did not end well. He is trying to take credit for some of the things the conservatives accomplished or that they believe that they see as accomplishments, whether it's taxes or putting conservatives on the Supreme Court, et cetera, while still being able to say, I don't approve of what happened there. I mean, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact this midterm was the first national election we had in the wake of the January 6th Capitol attacks. So, I think that's kind of what's going on there.

I think that the big question for me is -- I mean, both Jamie and David are absolutely right. It's about the voters, right? That's why the primaries broke the way they did, why in many cases the Republican Party nominated election-denying candidates the way that they did, but it also became abundantly clear this time that winning a general election on that messaging is very unlikely. And I think the strongest argument against Donald Trump is that he is a loser. That really goes against his brand, frankly, and the thing that like drew people into his campaign in the beginning. Why was he -- it was impossible to look away in the 2016 campaign. Why was that? He has lost some of that.

BLITZER: He certainly has. Nia, let's talk about the leadership between House Republicans right now. Kevin McCarthy, he secured potentially the GOP nomination to become the speaker, if, in fact, there is a narrow -- as it looks like, there will be, a narrow Republican majority in the House. But 31 members, Republican members, voted against him this particular time. What does that say about him?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Listen, it is going to be a tricky ride for Kevin McCarthy to be able to amass the 218 votes that he needs. At 31 votes is essentially sending him a message that the House Freedom Caucus is a presence. They're going make his life difficult. They're going to extract some concessions from him and make, you know, his job basically like herding cats in a wind tunnel. I mean, that's what it's going to be.

We've seen before what have happened to speakers who have been in similar sort of precarious positions with a raucous caucus and a slim majority. John Boehner was in that situation. He was essentially run out of town by that caucus. So, I think this is a dream job for Kevin McCarthy once again, and I think it might end up in some ways being a nightmare for him to actually be speaker of the House.

BLITZER: Interesting. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, more on the missiles that struck Poland near Russia's border and the risk of escalation in the region.



BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, two people in NATO-allied Poland are dead after missiles hit near the border with Ukraine.

Let's discuss this and more with Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff of Georgia. He is a key member of the Homeland Security Committee and the Judiciary Committee as well. Senator, thank you so much for joining us.

I know you had an important hearing today as well on another subject. I'll get to that shortly. But how alarmed are you by this deadly incident in Poland today, a NATO ally, and considering the risk of escalation, how critical is it for the U.S. and the NATO allies to establish the facts before deciding next on steps?

SEN. JON OSSOFF (D-GA): Wolf, thank you for having me. And as we speak, the National Security Council at the White House and the U.S. Intelligence Community are working to establish those facts. I expect to review briefing materials on this subject in the hours to come, and the U.S. commitment to NATO remains iron-clad.

BLITZER: I know you're very committed about that as well. Let's talk a little about the Senate runoff in your state of Georgia that's coming up on December 6th. Senate Democrats have already clinched control, as you know. So, how do you motivate voters in Georgia who don't necessarily see this runoff as very much high stakes?

OSSOFF: Well, Raphael Warnock is an extraordinary public servant. This is a man who has won universal respect on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. Senate, who has worked tirelessly to deliver for our state, who has forged bipartisan partnerships to deliver for our state, to upgrade our infrastructure, to deliver for Georgia's veterans.

I think that the contrast and quality and competence between him and his opponent is as stark as anything I've ever seen as electoral politics in our state. And I'd encourage everybody who supports Senator Warnock and wants help to log on and help him out.

BLITZER: As you know, the former president, Donald Trump, is expected to announce his third presidential run later tonight. Do Georgia Democrats like you, for example, see that as a good thing for Senator Warnock?

OSSOFF: Well, what I know is that Donald Trump running is bad for the GOP, it's bad for the country, and it's bad for the world. But if he does run, he'll lose.

BLITZER: What about President Biden? Do you want him to seek re- election?

OSSOFF: As I've said, that's a decision for him to make with the first lady. Having made the decision to run for office, I know that's a sensitive, personal family decision, not my place to give him advice on that. But I continue to enjoy a strong working relationship with the president, which benefits the state of Georgia.


We've worked together, for example, to save the SK Battery plant in Commerce, Georgia. One of the most significant foreign direct investment projects, industrial projects in our state's history. Had the chance to work with his team to ensure that the Hyundai plant in coastal Georgia, the largest FDI in our history now, $5 billion in auto manufacturing, will come through to our state. So I look forward to continuing to work with the president.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, Senator, I know you had an important hearing that you led earlier today. Tell us what's going on.

OSSOFF: This was an 18-month bipartisan investigation that I led as chair of the Senate's subcommittee on investigations focused on the medical mistreatment of women in U.S. detention. And what we found is shocking, and it should shock our national conscience.

We found that women in U.S. detention were routinely subjected to invasive unnecessary and dangerous gynecological medical procedures, and often without informed consent. This is an appalling lapse by the Department of Homeland Security, violating constitutional and human rights of these detainees. There is little worse, and I've led a lot of investigations as chair subcommittee the past couple of years, there is nothing worse than nonsensical gynecological surgery performed on incarcerated women.

It's completely unacceptable. That's why I led this 18-month bipartisan investigation, and that's why today I ask tough questions of senior leaders of the department of homeland security.

BLITZER: Let's hope they fix this.

Senator Ossoff, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate all you're doing.

OSSOFF: Thank you. Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson set to testify in the Georgia probe on the 2020 presidential election meddling.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Georgia Governor Brian Kemp testified today before the Atlanta area grand jury investigating former President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in that state. And the panel will be hearing from other key witnesses in the coming days.

CNN's Sara Murray is here with me in "THE SITUATION ROOM" with the latest.

Sara, how key are these interviews for this Georgia grand jury?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it's a series of high-profile interviews coming up this week. You know, tomorrow, the grand jury is going to hear from Cassidy Hutchinson. She was a top aide to Trump's White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

And, you know, she was a really powerful witness when she testified before the January 6 committee, talking about how frustrated Trump was when he found out he couldn't go to the Capitol on January 6th.

Take a listen to what she said during that testimony.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE AIDE: The president said something to the effect of, I'm the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now, to which Bobby responded, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing. The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel.

Mr. Engel grabbed his arm and said, sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel, we're going back to the West Wing, we're not going to the Capitol.

Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel. And when the story was recounted to me, he motioned towards his clavicles.


MURRAY: Now, obviously, Hutchinson knows a lot about what was going on in the White House in these efforts to try to overturn the 2020 election. The grand jury is also going to hear from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who made calls to election officials. And next week, they're going to hear from Michael Flynn who is another person who was spreading these election conspiracies.

And today, in a hearing where Flynn was ordered to testify, prosecutors reiterated that this grand jury in Georgia is not going to be working much longer. Of course, Wolf, we've previously reported they may do indictments as early as December.

BLITZER: We'll soon find out. Thanks very much, Sara Murray, for that report.

Coming up, top U.S. officials warning tonight that domestic extremism poses a major threat right now to the United States.


BLITZER: Top security officials issued a very stark warning on the growing threat posed by domestic extremism here in the United States.

CNN's Brian Todd is on the story for us.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The threats facing the homeland have never been greater.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, America's top security officials warning that violent extremism is on the rise in the U.S., and so is the threat.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The greatest threat to us in the homeland is lone actors in small cells typically radicalized online using easily accessible weapons against soft targets.

TODD: FBI Director Christopher Wray telling lawmakers there's been a particular strike of antigovernment extremism in 2020, people turning to violence when they're frustrated with America's leaders.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We have seen a trend over the last several years of people more and more in this country when they're upset or angry about something, turning to violence as the way to manifest it.

TODD: Like the man who allegedly broke to the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer and zip ties. The would-be attacker of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

WRAY: People with different ideologies and grievances as justification for violence.

TODD: And with the readily available means of attacking.

WRAY: These actors often move quickly from radicalization to action and often use easily obtainable weapons, think a gun, a knife, a car, a crude IED against soft targets.

TODD: These extremists aren't always organized, Wray said, often lone wolves who are difficult to catch before they commit violence.

WRAY: With the lone actors in these small cells, the real problem there is there are not a lot of dots out there to connect and there's very little time in which to connect them.

TODD: Officials concerned with antigovernment actors like attacker who tried to enter the Cincinnati FBI field office with a rifle who may have been seeking revenge for the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. Also white supremacist violence getting more lethal, like the Buffalo supermarket shooting this spring, and growing anti-Semitic violence like the armed attack on a synagogue in Texas.

WRAY: Sixty-three percent of religious hate crimes overall are motivated by anti-Semitism.

TODD: Other would-be violent extremists are still motivated by election denial.

MARY MCCORD, FORMER ACTING ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: We do see people still related to the election talking about stolen elections particularly in Arizona and suggesting uses of violence by private citizens, militias, and that sort.


TODD (on camera): And a development today in the Pelosi case. The man accused of attacking Speaker Pelosi's husband pleaded not guilty in federal court to federal kidnapping and assault charges today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, reporting for us. Brian, thanks very much.

And to our viewers, thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.