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Source Says, Items Marked Classified Found At Trump Storage Unit; Democrats Emboldened, GOP Reeling After Sen. Raphael Warnock (D- GA) Win In Georgia; Deadly New Russian Attacks On Eastern Ukraine; U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments On The Role Of States In Reviewing Election Rules. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired December 07, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: May their memories be a blessing.
May their memories be a blessing.
Our coverage continues now with one Wolf Blitzer in a place next door that I like to call THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the Trump team finds more documents marked classified on the former president's property. Standby for new reporting on the search launched by Trump's lawyers and what it could mean for the Mar-a-Lago investigation that's under way.
Also tonight, top Democrats are celebrating Senator Raphael Warnock's re-election in Georgia, feeling emboldened by winning an outright Senate majority. Meantime, Republicans are reeling from Herschel Walker's defeat and wrapping up their blame game with one Republican senator calling Trump's endorsement the, quote, kiss of death.
And fire and fatalities in Eastern Ukraine as Russia launches a new barrages of attacks. CNN is near the frontlines with an exclusive look at surgeons saving the lives of wounded Ukrainian soldiers.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Tonight, as former President Trump faces mounting legal and political pressure, we're learning about a major new development in the investigation of classified documents taken with him from the White House.
CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray has details.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A team hired by Donald Trump's lawyers uncovering two items with classified markings in a storage unit in West Palm Beach, a source tells CNN.
DAVE ARONBERG, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: It will provide the feds with the ability to go to court and say, we need another search warrant. Let us search Bedminster and all of the other properties.
MURRAY: Those items were immediately turned over to the FBI, the source says. The Justice Department has had concerns Trump is holding onto sensitive government records since finding documents marked classified at Mar-a-Lago in August.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It's not a crime, and they should give me immediately back everything that they've taken from me, because it's mine.
MURRAY: Trump's lawyers recently hiring a team to search Trump tower, the Bedminster Golf Club, a Florida office and a storage unit, sources tell CNN. The former president under pressure from an ever growing pile of legal problems, not only the federal probe into his handling of government documents --
TRUMP: This is a new hoax, the document hoax.
MURRAY: -- but also a sprawling probe into efforts to subvert the 2020 election.
TRUMP: We're going to walk down to the Capitol.
MURRAY: The investigation into the 2020 election also moving ahead with more grand jury testimony from former Trump Adviser Stephen Miller.
STEPHEN MILLER, TRUMP ADVISER: Simple principle, one citizen, one vote.
MURRAY: And Special Counsel Jack Smith firing off a fresh round of subpoenas to county election officials in Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona. Investigators seeking more information about communications from Trump and his allies, such as Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, with battleground state officials.
Adding to Trump's headaches --
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We have made decisions that criminal referrals will happen.
MURRAY: -- sources tell CNN the House select committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol weighing criminal referrals for Trump and a number of his closest allies.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA) (voice over): The facts that support a potential charge against the former president, and the Justice Department in my view needs to hold everyone equally responsible before the law.
MURRAY (on camera): And all of this comes after two Trump Organization companies were convicted just this week on multiple charges of criminal tax fraud and falsified business records, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg telling CNN earlier this morning that the investigation into the Trump companies continues. Wolf?
BLITZER: It certainly does. All right, Sara Murray, reporting for us. Thank you very much.
Let's break all of this down with CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig and CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman, the senior political correspondent for The New York Times and the author of the bestselling book, Confidence Man, The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.
Maggie, you also have significant reporting right now on the additional classified documents that were found. What can you tell us?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, Wolf, these documents, these additional documents were found in a sealed box in this storage unit that exists in West Palm Beach about 15 minutes or so away from Mar-a-Lago, and the Trump folks let the DOJ know that they have found this. As we understand it, there was some kind of notification, whether that is going to satisfy the DOJ, that this is everything is really unclear.
You know, they supposedly searched three other areas as well and found nothing, but given the fact that things keep turning up in various places, I think the ball is going to be in DOJ's court now to try to decide whether taking their word for it is enough or whether to search again or to find some other measure to get people to swear that this is everything.
BLITZER: And, Elie, as you know the former president has had plenty of opportunities to hand over these classified documents. How bad is it that they found more classified material after all of this?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, it's truly mind- boggling that even after all the chances Donald Trump has been given, he still has classified documents in his possession.
Just going back through the timeline of this case, even though DOJ and Archives spent months upon months politely negotiating with Trump's team, even though the DOJ tried to easy way a subpoena, requiring Trump to turn over all the classified documents, even though Trump's lawyers represented to DOJ we've now given you all the classified documents, even after DOJ executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, it turns out there's still at least two more documents Trump's team was holding.
And to Maggie's point DOJ has a difficult decision to make here. Are we satisfied after all the misrepresentations or are we going to have to take even more drastic measures and perhaps execute search warrants at other properties?
BLITZER: And, Jamie, amidst to all of this there's also the investigations into January 6th. Today, the select committee member, Adam Schiff, as we just heard, he was asked by NPR if he believes Trump committed crimes that could be prosecuted, and he said, and I'm quoting him now, yes, I do. So, what does that tell you?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: The committee is not being shy, Wolf. Donald Trump is going to be on that criminal referral list. One of my sources said front and center.
The real question is who else is going to be on that list. We don't have names yet. We don't know how many, but a source familiar with the committee's work told me that this is not going to be some wide ranging list, that the committee is going to be very deliberate. They are going to make referrals for people about crimes that they think they really have strong, substantive evidence to hand over to DOJ, Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Elie, if the Justice Department ultimately decides to criminally charge Trump, what do you see as the possible charge or charges on that matter and what sort of timeline we anticipate?
HONIG: Well, Wolf, let's remember we're talking about two different things here. We have Mar-a-Lago, and I think in that case, we're looking at various statutes relating to mishandling of classified information and other sensitive documents, also potentially obstruction of justice for misleading investigators about whether they still had classified documents, as we just discussed.
When it comes to January 6th, I think if I had to forecast what will likely be in the criminal referrals that Jamie just talked about, I think they're going to be focusing on obstruction of Congress, the effort to try to block Congress from counting up the electoral votes, and the conspiracy to defraud the United States of a free and fair election. And one of the points to Jamie's point, it will be interesting to see whether the committee specifies specific criminal laws that they say may be implicated here.
BLITZER: And, Maggie, what are you hearing from inside Trump's orbit, and you've been doing a lot of reporting on this, as these multiple criminal investigations heat up?
HABERMAN: Wolf, there's a lot of concern in particular about the referrals that might be coming from the January 6th committee. There's a lot of wondering among Trump's aides who might they be. Is this just going to be members of Congress, will there be staff involved, will there be threats to Trump advisers?
This is a crush of various legal threats that most aides are worried not just that they're going to impact Donald Trump himself and his candidacy. Many are worried about what's going to happen to them. People feel like they have gotten swept up in this when they didn't really deserve it or whether they have tried to go along with something that Donald Trump wanted, and they feel like they have become targets. So, that's a big source of concern.
BLITZER: A huge source of concern, indeed. And, you know, Jamie, like Maggie, you've been doing amazing reporting on all of this. What do these latest developments mean where the U.S. Justice Department and a possible indictment? GANGEL: We don't know yet obviously what the Justice Department is going to do. But I think the fact that they found these two classified documents, from my understanding, sort of covering this from the beginning, we've been told that there were more than two things still missing from what the National Archives expected to get.
So, you know, just because they found two more things, you know, just as Maggie said and Elie said, my understanding is that they believe there's more out there. And that's going to be, as Elie said, the next decision.
HONIG: Yes, Wolf. And I think when it comes to a criminal referral, if you're the Justice Department, I think this could cut either way if you receive a criminal referral. On the one hand, the more people, the more authoritative voices who say, hey, there is evidence on which Donald Trump should be charged criminally, you start to get the American public used to this idea, which a foreign concept to us.
We've never had a former president who has been indicted and I think there's some consideration on that.
On the other hand, it does make an indictment look in some sense political. It will allow Donald Trump to say, well look at that, Congress recommended an indictment and then DOJ jumped exactly as Congress said.
So, there's an interesting political dynamic at play here. Ultimately, DOJ is going to really want the evidence and I do believe DOJ will make their decision based solely on the evidence.
BLITZER: Well, we will see what that evidence is. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead how the Democrats win in the Georgia Senate runoff is making a big impact here in Washington, with some Republicans pointing fingers, fingers of blame right at Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Tonight, both political parties are charting their paths forward after Senator Raphael Warnock's re-election victory in the Georgia runoff. Democrats feeling emboldened by their new 51 Senate seat majority while Republicans are bickering over who is to blame for Herschel Walker's defeat.
Here's CNN's Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The next two years of President Joe Biden's term now looking a bit brighter after gaining an additional Senate seat on the heels of Raphael Warnock's win in Georgia over Republican Herschel Walker.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): After 1 year, 10 months, and 17 days of the longest 50-50 Senate in history, 51, a slim majority.
RAJU: Democrats now have additional breathing room to confirm Biden's nominees and new power to issue subpoenas. The result leaving Republicans reeling.
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): It's frustrating. Clearly, I was optimistic that we would get a majority.
RAJU: It comes after Republicans also fell short in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Arizona and Nevada, all states they had hoped to win.
At the heart of the GOP criticism the role of Donald Trump, who handpicked Walker and several other candidates who faltered in the general election, stumping late on the campaign trail for Republicans who ultimately lost.
Was Donald Trump a problem this year?
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Democrats, in many cases, were able to kind of turn it into a choice election because of Trump's presence out there, because a lot of the candidates that had problems in these elections were running on the 2020 election being stolen. And I don't think independent voters were having it.
RAJU: Utah GOP Senator Mitt Romney calling Trump's endorsement the kiss of death. And retiring Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey saying Walker's loss is another example that, quote, the Trump obsession is very bad for Republicans. Trump defenders pushing back.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If the answer to everything in town is it's Trump's problem, then you're missing the boat.
RAJU: Some directing their ire at Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell for refusing to embrace an election year agenda.
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): No agenda. No agenda.
SCOTT: I believe we have a Republican agenda and give people real purpose why to vote for us.
RAJU: Yet many blame Rick Scott Senate campaign arm for staying out of GOP primaries in 2022 with GOP leaders now calling on the party to intervene in primaries in the 2024 cycle, where Democrats are defending 23 seats and Republicans just 11.
Should you've taken a more active role in trying to prop up the candidates who would have been more electable?
SCOTT: I trust the voters.
RAJU: But even Trump allies say that the former president has been damaged as he seeks his party's nomination in 2024.
GRAHAM: I think he's in a good spot to get the nomination, but he's got to prove to the people he can win.
RAJU (on camera): Now, I asked Raphael Warnock when he return to the Capitol tonight whether or not Donald Trump actually helped him by selecting a candidate who turn out to be weak in the general election, he said that -- he dismissed that and said that I give the great people of Georgia a great deal of credit for seeing the differences between me and my opponent.
And just a little bit more on the GOP reckoning, Wolf, John Cornyn, who is a member of the Republican leadership faulted some of the Republican campaigns for not broadening their messaging beyond the primary electorate, saying they need to focus on general election electorate, not just the primary base, saying that is a major lesson going forward. If not, they'll continue to lose. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes. They're all trying to learn lessons right now. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.
Let's bring in CNN's Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, CNN National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny and our Senior Political Correspondent Abby Philip.
Dana, Democrats are clearly, understandably emboldened by their win in Georgia right now. But give us a sense of this two-seat new Democratic majority in the Senate, how that's going to embolden and help Chuck Schumer, for example, the Senate Democratic leader, and the Democrats' agenda for that matter.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITCAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really critical in a lot of ways but maybe the most important is Joe Biden's nominees. Because right now, well, obviously the nominees are confirmed in one place and one place only and that's the United States Senate, and now that there -- it is not a 50-50 split, where there is a power sharing agreement, where it's pretty much even not just in the makeup of the committee members but in the staff, it's hard to get these nominees through. It will be much easier once they have an actual majority. Because even if there's a partisan split over a nominee and all the Democrats agreed that the nominee should get through, the president's nominee will get through.
And we have seen particularly when it comes to judges that, that is so crucial when it comes to filling -- obviously the Supreme Court is the biggie, but beyond that, underneath that the appellate court and the district courts.
BLITZER: So, many decisions are made that are so, so critical.
Abby, you heard in Manu's report Mitt Romney say that the support that Trump gave these various Republican candidates out there, a whole bunch of them have now lost is a kiss of death, his words a kiss of death. So, what will this mean for Trump's relevance going forward now towards 2024?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think now it's really just a question of how badly do establishment Republicans want to push Trump out.
I don't necessarily think that Trump support among Republican base voters has shifted all that much but there's a recognition that that support doesn't really go much further than that.
And so right now, Republicans need to make a decision. How are they going to address Trump? Trump is running, he's already declared. There are other people who want to run. But what's the strategy for dealing with that? Is this going to be a repeat of 2016 or are they going to come up with a different strategy?
When you look at Manu's report, you see a lot of Republicans kind of inching toward that, but still not going far enough to make it clear that they think that Trump is an unacceptable nominee. And I think until they do that, it's not going to be that he's just going to disappear into thin air just because they wish that he would.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Right. It's also a double-edged sword because if Trump looks weaker now or if it looks like there's blood in the water, more Republican may get in, and that, of course, helps Trump in the end. That how he won the nomination in the first place in 2015, as we all remember, and the 2016.
So, look, the finger-pointing is definitely happening but there's some truth to what Lindsey Graham was saying as well. The base of the party is still with Trump as of now. The elected officials are not. But as Mitt Romney said the other day, it's sort of irrelevant what the elected officials say. It's the base.
But I can tell, I was just in Georgia, and coming back and are talking to Republicans, they are furious about what the former president has done in terms of early voting. He has set these seeds of doubt of suspicion, so far down among ranks and file voters. That is one of the reasons Herschel Walker lost.
So, they said, without question Republicans have to get better about early voting, and that's start with President Trump stopping talking about 2020.
BASH: Yes. And that leads to what been sort the phrase of 2022 in this election cycle, which is candidate quality, that Republicans are saying that they just didn't have the best candidate quality. You heard it in Manu's report. You heard Mitch McConnell talking about this months ago. And that's a euphemism for Trump-backed Republicans.
But this is -- we're understandably focus on the Senate right now because that was the big news and they got an extra seat or they kept a seat in Georgia, but the whole question of Trump and Trumpism being alive or not is going to be on display in early January when we see the race for speaker and Kevin McCarthy, because it is a totally different dynamic there where he is still trying to actively appeal. He needs to appeal if he wants to be viable at all to be speaker to Trump, Trumpism and not just the base, the voting base but actual candidates in the House where the sort of environment is different.
BLITZER: Would the Republicans have done better, Abby, if they had a less controversial candidate?
PHILLIP: In Georgia?
PHILLIP: Oh, absolutely. I mean, look at the result in Georgia. Herschel Walker, despite all of his flaws, got almost 50 percent, 48 percent of the vote. That really just tells you that this state still very much has a red blueprint. There are a lot of Republican voters and Republican-leaning voters in that state.
And look at the other Republicans who ran statewide. You know, Brian Kemp winning by, you know, eight points, other candidates winning by five-plus points. Herschel Walker was a fatally flawed candidate. Democrats ran a very good Senate race. But had Republicans chosen someone who could appeal more to the middle, it would have been, I think, far easier in this particular environment for them to flip that Senate seat back to them.
ZELENY: It would have been a referendum on Joe Biden, which it ended up not being at all. It was a referendum on Herschel Walker.
BLITZER: Yes, good point indeed. All right, guys, everybody, standby.
Coming up, brain surgery in a war zone, an exclusive look at efforts right now to save lives and memories near the frontlines of Russia's war on Ukraine. We'll talk about that and more with CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward. She's here.
BLITZER: We're following deadly new Russian attacks on Eastern Ukraine right now as Moscow struggles to maintain its positions after a humiliating offensive by Ukraine that regained large swaths of the country's territory. We also have an exclusive look at how neurosurgeons are working right now near the frontlines to save some of the most gravely injured Ukrainian fighters.
CNN Senior International Correspondent, Sam Kylie, is on the scene for us.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Wartime brain surgery in tandem, wounded in battle on the same day on the same front, two young men, the focus of these overpracticed neurosurgeons.
Kramatorsk is often bombed. The windows even in here are taped to slow flying glass. The effort is intense to repair brains to save lives, memories, loves and future dreams. They would have little idea where to start their delicate work if they didn't have use of this, C.T. scanner. It can pinpoint damage, find what it's done, and it gives surgeons a plan of action.
He says, yes, and, unfortunately, there is no left eye. There's a suspicion of damage to the right eye as well, but definitely no left eye.
This is the fourth patient we have seen in the space of about an hour come in for a C.T. scan. It's supposed to be doing 15 or 20 a day. They're actually doing 70 or 80.
In short, it's wearing out.
This equipment is vital. The hospital can't afford a new one, but a used one is for sale in west of Ukraine, cost about $120,000. Price of losing this one, incalculable.
He says he shows signs of severe cranial cerebral injury with acute subdural hematoma and severe brain contusion. He needs urgent surgery. The administrators here have raised about $60,000. They need help with the rest. This is the only C.T. scanner in a vast region.
Critical, this machine is critical. C.T. is critical to provide appropriate care for patients with both head wounds and acute brain injuries.
Is it saving lives?
Definitely, absolutely, 100 percent.
There's been a steady flow of soldiers injured in near Bakhmut. That is the scene of the heaviest fighting. But this is a hospital that is trying to deal really with an area they say about 300 square kilometers, and a lot of that is at war.
Some soldiers are relatively lucky. Duck was shooting mortars at the Russians who shot mortars back. My commander was lucky, he sat in front of me and I sat behind him, and he was unhurt and I got hit in the leg. But, yes, we've seen wounded and dead before. If I'm sitting here, I am lucky.
Ukrainians on this eastern front call it the meat grinder. Czech was alongside Duck when they were hit.
How would you describe the battle of Bakhmut?
He says World War I, trenches, mud, blood, trenches, mud again, artillery, trench warfare. That's it, World War I and World War II, something like that. The (INAUDIBLE), something like that.
The difference is that modern weapons are now more powerful. Modern surgery often the only route to survival, that an old-fashioned grit.
Sam Kylie, CNN, in Kramatorsk. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: Sam Kiley, thank you very, very much.
All right, let's dig deeper ring now, CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is here in Washington. She's joining us right now.
Clarissa, how aggressively is Russia right now digging into this brutal fight in the eastern part of Ukraine?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're seeing very heavy fighting. The Ukrainians reporting overnight that at least eight civilians were killed in the last day alone. And for Russia, there's a very real understanding that after the humiliating defeat of Kherson, they desperately need to be able to take territory back in the east.
The focus for them is very much on the town of Bakhmut, continues to be the source of heavy fighting. It's an important defensive position for the Ukrainians, because if the Russians can push through there, they can get to town like Slovyansk, to Kramatorsk, which is where, Sam, was and his story of that military hospital tonight.
So, they understand it's important, and they are going to keep pushing as much as they can to make progress there.
BLITZER: And as you know, Clarissa, Russia is now blaming Ukrainian drones for launching, what, another third air strike against a Russian base, a base inside Russia, right now. If this was indeed Ukraine that was doing this, what would that say about their capabilities and their intent?
WARD: Well, I think it has to be seen as an escalation. Ukraine is saying that they're willing to do whatever it takes to fight fire with fire, if indeed they are responsible. And while they're being sort of coy about it, I think the understanding is in most parts that they almost certainly are responsible.
They're sending a very strong message. They're attacking air bases that are being used where jet fighters are carrying out attacks on civilian infrastructure, and they're making it very clear that they're willing to do whatever it takes to defend themselves, even if that means crossing lines that have been seen as kind of red lines by the Russians, traditionally.
The question is for Ukraine's backers in the U.S. and other NATO countries, how concerned are they as they watch this going on? Are they worried that this could escalate to a potential tipping point where we see Russia enact some kind of a really strong response? And we don't know what that response might be yet.
BLITZER: And as you know Russian President Putin, he's vowing not to back down at all, but he's also reassuring Russians there won't be another full-scale mobilization of troops. He's also promising to fix all the equipment shortages right now. So, what does that say about Putin and his intent?
WARD: I think it's interesting, he's making two points here. On the one hand he's trying to address the very real concerns that many Russians have about this war and about how it's escalated and about how they're suffering as a result of that.
On the other hand, he's making it very clear to the international community that this isn't going to end, that he will keep going.
He's trying to frame it as some kind of a success, the annexation of these four regions, even though as we've seen in the city of Kherson, some of those regions are not even under the control of the Russians. But he's trying to frame it as a success and he's trying to frame himself as being the sort of central author in a continuation of Peter the Great's legacy. He literally invoked Peter the Great, the glory days of Russia and how these actions and this special military operation, as he calls the war in Ukraine, have been able Russia to re-claim the Sea of Azov as a Russian internal sea.
BLITZER: Clarissa Ward, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome to Washington. And congratulations. Later tonight, you're going to be receiving a major award from the National Press Club, so well deserved. You're a courageous and brilliant journalist. I appreciate very much.
WARD: Thank you so much, Wolf.
BLITZER: Clarissa Ward here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And just ahead, we'll have more on the Georgia Senate runoff with key White House Official and former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Stay with us.
BLITZER: More now on the Democrats critical victory in the Georgia Senate runoff giving Senator Raphael Warnock a full six-year term after defeating Trump-backed GOP candidate Herschel Walker.
And joining us now, Keisha Lance Bottom, she's the director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, the former mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us.
You moderated today's White House roundtable event with Jewish leaders, and I'm eager to talk to you about that in just a moment or so. But, first, Democrats are certainly and understandably celebrating today after your home state of Georgia just re-elected Senator Raphael Warnock. But why was this race so close when even Republicans acknowledge their candidate was very much flawed?
KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, FORMER ATLANTA MAYOR: Well, Wolf, I don't think that you can underestimate the power of football in the state of Georgia. I grew up watching Herschel Walker. I witnessed him win the Super Bowl for the University of Georgia Bulldogs in the '80s. And up until campaign season, I would have counted myself still as a Herschel Walker fan. And that's not to say that's the only reason that he had support throughout the state, but he's still a very popular person throughout the state. But it is -- it was a great night in Georgia.
And what was most special about last night in Georgia is that people across the state showed up to vote. They were able to cast their vote. They didn't take this election for granted and people really took to heart what John Lewis reminded us, that the right to vote is almost sacred, and it's a precious right. And we saw people across party affiliation express their selves at the ballot box, and I was happy last night along with a lot of other Georgians.
BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure you were. I know you've touted the fact that President Biden has actually defied expectation gaining the Senate seats in this midterm election. What does that mean for conversations within the administration about a Biden 2024 presidential re-election run?
BOTTOMS: Well, we know the president has long said that he wants to work across the aisle with leaders and he wants to get things done in a bipartisan way. He's been able to do that as president and certainly he's going to pushing to be able to achieve that as president.
In terms of what the president's plans are, as I stand here as senior advisor to the president for public engagement, I can't speak to that. I don't know the answer to that. But I know that what the president has said publicly is that he intends to be president for a very long time.
And so in terms of what the agenda is for the White House, it won't change. The president will continue to focus on the American people, delivering for the American people, making sure that life in America is -- that there's some assistance coming from the White House, whether it be addressing prescription drug costs or whether it be addressing student debt relief and any of the number of issues that we've seen come forth out of this administration that will always continue to be the focus of President Biden, whether he's president or candidate Biden.
BLITZER: While I have you, let's turn to the meeting you had today, the so-called summit on increasing anti-Semitism here in the United States. And the second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, the first Jewish person, by the way, to hold his position is warning of what he calls a rapid rise in anti-Semitism. I want to play part of his comments today. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG EMHOFF, SECOND GENTLEMAN: There's an epidemic of hate facing our country. We're seeing a rapid rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric and acts. Let me be clear, words matter. People are no longer saying the quiet parts out loud. They are literally screaming them.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: So, Mayor, what is the Biden administration doing to put an end to these truly hateful acts?
BOTTOMS: Well, what we saw today was a gathering of leaders from across the country. We heard what they are experiencing in their respective communities, whether it be on college campuses or throughout the groups that they lead across the country, the synagogues that they lead, and the passion and the firmness that you heard from the second gentleman, just the commitment to make sure we address this hatred that we are seeing in our country was felt by everyone in the room today.
So the administration will continue to put funding in place to address those issues that we know that need to be addressed, whether it be helping provide additional safety measures and whether -- or whether it be putting additional policy measures in place. The president has been very clear that there is no room for hatred in our country, and today's gathering was just one of many, and it was also an opportunity for leaders like Ambassador Susan Rice and other leaders in the administration to hear directly from people about what they are experiencing.
It's one thing for us to talk about it in the White House, but it's another thing to get information from people who are on the ground to help us better form and shape and implement policy.
BLITZER: Keisha Lance Bottoms, joining us from the White House, thanks very much for joining us. Thanks for all you're doing.
BOTTOMS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, a German far-right group's plot to overthrow -- overthrow its government and the inspiration it drew from QAnon and the January 6th U.S. Capitol attack.
BLITZER: An alleged plot to overthrow the German government is raising alarm right now over the spread of right-wing extremism.
CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.
Brian, the German group behind this scheme is echoing American far- right groups and conspiracy theories out there.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are some serious parallels, Wolf, between these far-right movements in Germany and the ones here in the U.S., which could be a key reason why the White House tonight is applauding German officials for making these arrests.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): Armed German police make sweeping arrests across the country. A drag net resulting in the apprehensions of 25 people, members or supporters of what German officials say is a far-right terrorist organization that was allegedly plotting to overthrow the government in Berlin. German prosecutors say there could be twice that many people in the group overall.
A group that follows the Reichsburger or Reich citizens movement, a movement described as radical and violent, followers of the conspiracy theories like the QAnon ideology.
NANCY FAESER, GERMAN INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): The suspected terrorists group uncovered today was founded based on coup d'etat fantasies and conspiracy ideologies.
TODD: Just how closely aligned are those German right-wing militants to the QAnon movements in the U.S.?
JON LEWIS, PROGRAM ON EXTREMISM, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Both of the movements gained steam in 2020 around those societal conditions around anti-vaxx, anti-mask mandates and around the functioning acts of the U.S. and German governments.
JOHN MILLER, FORMER NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSSIONER ON INTELLIGENCE & COUNTERTERRORISM: The ties to QAnon in the U.S. are really the crossover of the conspiracy theories, which is that there is a global deep state, not just one in the United States and one in the federal republic of Germany, and that these groups collude and that they are not legitimate governments, that they are not legitimate leaders.
TODD: Connected to the plot in Germany, according to a top German news outlet, a former far-right member of Germany's lower house of parliament, a woman who now serves as a judge in Berlin's district court. CNN was not able to get comment from her and German prosecutors did not confirm her involvement.
There are also indications tonight that the right-wing German plotters may have been channeling the January 6th insurrectionist at the U.S. Capitol. German officials saying members of the group considered entering the German parliament by force.
ALEXANDER HAUSLER, RIGHT-WING EXTREMISM RESEARCHER, DUSSELDORF UNIVERSITY (through translator): The storming of the U.S. Capitol after the last presidential election showed these people that there are options to destroy the state order.
TODD: But why should Americans care about a right-wing conspiracy in Germany?
MILLER: Their crossover or international communications can make it a global movement. And there's the factor of come together to do what? We got a taste of that on January 6th.
TODD: And the former and possibly future American president has embraced these fringe groups. Donald Trump, a hero of the QAnon movement in the U.S., has recently reposted various memes and videos with references to QAnon conspiracy theories, and took a picture last night at a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser with a promoter of QAnon.
Analyst Jon Lewis says one challenge security services have is that many of these groups is that many of these groups do not have a visible or central leader. The splintered nature of the groups makes them tougher to penetrate and the plots harder to stop -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very, very disturbing indeed.
All right. Brian Todd, thank you for that report.
Up next, we have details of a U.S. Supreme Court case that potentially could reshape U.S. election laws.
BLITZER: We're following a major case before the U.S. Supreme Court that could reshape U.S. election laws.
CNN's senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic is here with details.
Joan, the North Carolina Republican lawmakers want to limit the role of state courts in reviewing certain election rules set by state legislatures.
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: That's right. And that's because the North Carolina state Supreme Court rejected an extreme partisan gerrymander that the Republican dominated legislature drew. They based their ruling on the state constitution. The state lawmakers have come up to the Supreme Court saying not only do they want to preserve the original map, but they want the Supreme Court to embrace a theory that would give legislatures complete control over state election practices, whether they be in redistricting, perhaps even in the certification of elections.
This is a major theory that could reorder the checks and balances in the country and change the political landscape, too. I have to say that this court is open to it. Three of the justices have already embraced this theory pretty vigorously. Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Samuel Alito.
Then you have Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and John Roberts suggesting during a very tension-filled set of three hours of arguments that they would at least be open to some limits on some state judges.
Meanwhile, liberals -- the remaining three liberals definitely against it. Justice Elena Kagan saying let's step back and look at the consequences of this, and how state courts would have no check on state legislatures if they wanted to roll back voting, voter protections, if they wanted to certify elections, if they wanted to gerrymander to the extreme, all sorts of maps. So, big case coming down the pike here.
BLITZER: Lots of state right now, thanks very much, Joan Biskupic, with that report.
BLITZER: And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.