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GOP Scrambles For New Speaker After Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Ousted; House Chaos Throws Ukraine Aid Into Jeopardy; Trump Lashes Out On Third Day of Civil Fraud Trial; Tens Of Thousands Of Unionized Kaiser Permanente Employees Launch Largest Health Care Workers Strike In U.S. History; Iran's Morality Police Accused Of Assaulting Teenage Girl. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 04, 2023 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the race is on to find a new House speaker after Republican rebels dethroned Kevin McCarthy. The chamber paralyzed and in total disarray until lawmakers unite around a leader. I'll ask a key Republican congressman what comes next.

One major priority in serious jeopardy right now, desperately needed military aid for Ukraine. Will the House fund the fight against Putin's invasion or will Kyiv's counteroffensive face another setback?

Also tonight, former President Trump is lashing out once again on this, the third day of his civil fraud trial, in New York, but the state's attorney general isn't backing down, insisting she won't be bullied and that, quote, the Donald Trump show is over, her words.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

Our top story tonight, House Republicans scrambling right now to find a new speaker after the historic removal of Kevin McCarthy. At least two serious contenders have emerged, but for now, all House business is frozen until lawmakers select a new leader.

Let's go straight to CNN's Melanie Zanona. She's up on Capitol Hill for us. Melanie, who has announced already that they're running for speaker?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Wolf, the race to replace McCarthy is already starting to take shape. Two candidates have already officially jumped in. That includes Congressman Steve Scalise. He is the number two Republican in the House. I was told that he was already making calls last night and starting to line up supporters and allies. He made it official today with a letter to his colleagues.

And this is a man who has been waiting for this moment. He has been preparing for this scenario of Kevin McCarthy potentially one day stepping aside or stumbling. But it is not going to be a coronation for Steve Scalise. He's going to have to face off against Jim Jordan, the House Judiciary chairman, who is beloved by conservatives and on the right. But he could run into problems getting the support of the more moderates of his conference.

Our colleague, Manu Raju, caught up with him today and asked whether his views are in line with the rest of his party. Here's what he had to say.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I think we're a conservative center right party. I think I'm the guy who can help unite that. I think my politics are entirely consistent with where conservatives and Republicans are across the country.


ZANONA: Now, both men made their case before the Texas GOP delegation, a powerful and big block of Republicans in the House. Both men will continue making calls and meeting with members over the next few days to try to make their case.

And some of the questions they're already being asked include will you support more money for Ukraine, that's been a polarizing issue, and will you reform that tool known as the motion to vacate the speaker's chair, which has become a point of contention.

But, Wolf, the earliest they are going to figure this out is next week and it is still unclear whether Republicans can agree on someone to lead them.

BLITZER: Melanie Zanona up on Capitol Hill watching all of this unfold, Melanie, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Mike Lawler of New York, he's a key player in all of this. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

I know you've called for Matt Gaetz, the ring leader of the effort to oust Kevin McCarthy, to be expelled from the GOP conference. Do you think there's enough support from your colleagues for that to happen?

REP. MICHAEL LAWLER (R-NY): Well, we'll find out. I think a lot of my colleagues are extremely frustrated by what happened yesterday, very disappointed in the fact that we had eight Republican members joined with 208 Democrats, including AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman, Adam Schiff and Hakeem Jeffries to remove a duly elected Republican speaker. It was disgraceful and violated House Republican Conference rules that require a majority of a majority to remove a House speaker and file that motion to vacate. And they didn't adhere to that and it was wrong.

BLITZER: As you know, Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan and Kevin Hern are actively soliciting support right now within the Republican conference.


Hern, unlike the other two, hasn't formally announced he's running but do you have a preference right now, Congressman? Would you, first of all, support any of them?

LAWLER: No, I don't have a preference of these three. And I think we need to have a real reckoning within the conference when we meet next week. Number one, I want to hear how any of these candidates plan to handle holding these eight members accountable. They voted with 208 Democrats to torpedo our House Republican majority.

The American people elected us to govern, to serve as a check and balance on the Biden agenda and everything that we've been focused on, from cutting spending to securing our border, was just imperiled by these eight individuals starting with Matt Gaetz.

And it was purely petty, personal and political reasons why they did this. This is not a policy dispute. This wasn't a situation where, hey, you know what, my district believes this and we're going to vote on this policy position, they voted with the Democrats to torpedo our House Republican majority. So, they need to explain that and there needs to be accountability. In addition, the motion to vacate needs to be changed.

One person should not be able to hold a proverbial gun to the speaker's head where eight people be able to demand changes using the motion to vacate threat against the wishes of the majority of the majority. It's wrong and you cannot govern this way.

BLITZER: Will your party, Congressman, have a new speaker when the House comes back next Wednesday or could this process drag on and on and on, like we saw back in January?

LAWLER: Well, look, one thing is the American people expect us to govern. They expect us to put our big boy pants on, act like adults and come to an agreement. I think it's critically important that 218 Republicans come to an agreement within the conference before coming to the floor.

I think the fact is we cannot have a repeat of what occurred in January, where it took 15 rounds to elect a speaker. There needs to be consensus and an agreement within the conference and then move to elect that person as speaker on the House floor.

You were elected last year in a district won by President Biden in New York State just outside of New York City. Are you concerned this dysfunction right now in the Republican Party, in the House, endangers the GOP majority and potentially your own re-election?

LAWLER: No, I'm not. You know, look, my constituents know who I am. I won a district, as you alluded to, that Joe Biden won by ten points, that has 70,000 more Democrats than Republicans, because I talked about the issues that matter. And that has been my focus since taking office in January and I will continue to deliver for my constituents. I'm out every day in my community. My office does the work that is required for our constituents, and we will continue to do that.

So, this is an unfortunate situation. It requires leadership. It requires people putting aside differences so that we can find consensus, elect a speaker and get back to the work of the American people, the work that they wanted us to focus on, reining in spending, securing our border, taking on the maligned threats of China and Russia and other bad actors around it the globe. And that is what we need to focus our efforts and energy on.

BLITZER: We will continue this conversation, Congressman, down the road. Michael Lawler, thank you so much for joining us.

LAWLER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Let's dig deeper now with our political experts, and, Gloria Borger, I'll start with you. So, next week, potentially, there could be a new speaker of the House of Representatives. What do you think? Is there reason to think they can get their act together and come up with a new speaker next week?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They have no choice. They have to come up with a speaker. And I don't know if it's going to be one vote or two votes. They're having speeches. It sounds like something in high school. Everybody is going to stand up and give their speeches and then they're going to see where they are.

The choices they have are very different. The two top choices, Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan. Jordan is more of a conservative from the -- one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus, you know. He's very fiery. Scalise is a little more quiet, conservative, wasn't that close to McCarthy. People like him.

But I think these races are quite personal and so it's very hard to see where they're going to come out but they have to make sure, as the congressman was just saying to you, that they don't wind up in this situation in another month or so.


And they know they've got a lot of work ahead of them, including passing spending bills before the middle of November when they're going to face another deadline.

BLITZER: A huge, huge issue coming up. Jamie Gangel, you've been doing excellent reporting, excellent reporting, I must say. But one of the things you're reporting is on the acting speaker, Patrick McHenry, the speaker pro tempore, as he's called. He's kicked Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer out of their so-called getaway, hideaway offices up on Capitol Hill. What do you make of that?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, we have learned it was actually not Patrick McHenry. I mean, he made the public announcement but I would call this real estate revenge. McHenry made the public order but multiple sources have told me and our colleague, Annie Grayer, that it was in fact none other than Kevin McCarthy who wanted this done, that he's the one who's responsible. And we now know also Kevin McCarthy is moving into Nancy Pelosi's old office.

BLITZER: The one on the Hill.

GANGEL: The one that was just taken away.

BORGER: Because he's saying it's for former speakers, right? I guess he is one.

BLITZER: He is a former speaker now.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't know why you would want to claim that title because of history here, but to reach (ph) his own. People have been weirdly dismissive about their candidate forum and the amount of time they're taking to figure this out.

The truth is I think this party has been so kind of desensitized to brinkmanship that they really were shocked when this happened and they really do have to sit down and Jim Jordan really does have to get up and say, okay, it's all fun and games but now we're here and I'm going to tell you what I'm going to do.

And the problem is some of these under currents, like Ukraine funding, really get at the core sort of divisions happening in the party nationally. And having them -- it's weird, the way it's like echoing in this little petty space but it has big implications for all of us 40 days from now.

GANGEL: Could I add one other thing? In talking to Republicans today about real estate revenge, I heard something else, and that is these are the people who have announced or said that they were considering. This may not be the final list.

BLITZER: The names we mentioned?

GANGEL: Right. There may be a compromise candidate and the name that I keep hearing is someone who I'm told won't actually announce, but that if this doesn't work out. And who would that be? The acting speaker, Patrick McHenry. He's very close to Kevin McCarthy. He's quite popular. He's very senior. So, we'll see how things work out next week but it may not be one of these folks --

BORGER: But then you have the gang of eight. And, you know, the question is anyone who's close to McCarthy, would that get the approval of the gang of eight, who seemed to have a veto over a lot of things.

CORNISH: But they're not a cohesive gang, right? If you actually break down and look at their records and things, it's not always actually clear that they have all that much in common other than being tired of McCarthy at that moment.

BLITZER: I'm very curious. Why -- and you've done a lot of reporting on this as well, Jamie. So far, Trump has been pretty much silent on what's going on among the Republican conference and the new speakership that's at play right now. He hasn't really said much, has he? GANGEL: No. Loyalty, as we know -- how much times are we going to say

this? Loyalty with Donald Trump is a one-way street. And all you have to do is remember that very famous photo of Kevin McCarthy going running back to Mar-a-Lago to bring back Donald Trump. And, guess what, Donald Trump doesn't care. No matter what Kevin McCarthy does, Donald Trump could have stepped up and saved Kevin McCarthy. He did not.

BLITZER: Interesting.

BORGER: But, you know, Donald Trump also was for the shutdown. So, maybe he didn't approve of what Kevin McCarthy did because he was always on Truth Social saying, shut it down, shut it down, and it didn't.

BLITZER: And the government did not shut down. Let's hope it doesn't. Lots at stake.

Very quickly, before I let you go, Audie, this effort to kick Matt Gaetz out of the Republican conference right now, the Republicans only have a tiny little majority. If they start losing some members, that could potentially upset them.

CORNISH: Also, there's not exactly like profiles in courage happening right now. Like every time someone asks this question, the person replies, oh, yes, definitely, he should go. Are you going to do it? Well, I mean, no, we need to talk about that. Well, do you want it or not want it? Do you want to take that step or do you not? There's obviously some kind of fear there, and over the next few days, we'll have a better understanding of what exactly Matt Gaetz's power is in this room.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, we'll go live to New York for the latest on Donald Trump's civil fraud trail, new developments.


The state's attorney general defiant tonight, insisting she won't be, quote, bullied, by the former president of the United States.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.


BLITZER: The New York attorney general, Letitia James, says she refuses to be, quote, bullied by Donald Trump after the former president attacked prosecutors yet again on this, the third day of his civil fraud trial in New York.

CNN's Kara Scannell is joining us from just outside the courthouse. She's got details. Kara, how much is Trump escalating his rhetoric now? KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, after the judge already admonished him and put a gag order on Trump saying anything against any of his staff members, that doesn't apply to the judge, New York Attorney General Letitia James, and Trump continued, as he has been every day, taking every opportunity when he's walking through the courthouse hallways to make some criticisms of the attorney general, the judge and the case. Here's what he said today.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Prosecutor James is incompetent and you get sued by a political animal.

We have a rogue judge.

And the judge already knows what he's going to do.


SCANNELL: So, Trump left at the lunch break after sitting here for two and a half days of testimony and argument.


Now, Letitia James made her first public response to all the comments that Trump has been making every day this afternoon after Trump had left the building. Here's what she said.


LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Mr. Trump's comments were offensive. They are baseless. They were void of any facts and/or any evidence. What they were, they were comments that unfortunately fomenting violence, comments that I would describe as race baiting, comments unfortunately that appeals to the bottom of our humanity.

This case was brought simply because it was a case where individuals have engaged in a pattern and practice of fraud. And I will not sit idly by and allow anyone to subvert the law. Lastly, I will not be bullied. So, Mr. Trump is no longer here, the Donald Trump show is over.


SCANNELL: Now, before Trump left, there were still high tensions this morning in the courtroom, the judge becoming frustrated with his lawyers' cross-examination of the state's first witness, Trump's longtime accountant, Donald Bender. They were going over the financial statements year by year, apartment, property, golf course by golf course, and the judge was getting frustrated by this pace. At one point, he slammed his hand down on the bench and said this is ridiculous, you're not allowed to waste time. He asked the lawyers to speed things up. And that was one point of big friction.

Now, after Trump had left, the mood if the courtroom really lightened. The judge even wished one of the state attorneys a happy birthday and there was just a lot more looseness to the room, a lot more levity. But this is just the beginning of this trial. The accountant is back on the stand tomorrow for more cross-examination and one of Trump's attorneys said that could go all day. Wolf?

BLITZER: Kara Scannell in New York City for us, Kara, thank you very much.

For more on all this, I want to bring in our Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates and CNN Legal Analyst Norm Eisen. And, Laura, let me start with you. How egregious is it for Trump to re-up these attacks with a day after this gag order was imposed against him by the judge?

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he's not only trying to poke the bear. He is really showing you just how little respect and regard he has for a judicial order. Remember, these orders weren't just put there just as a happenstance. There was a threat, a sense of saying derogatory and disparaging comments against the person whose job it is to help prepare the judge as a law clerk, to research the case law, to ensure kind of fact-checking in real-time and to provide the court the security it has in making objective decisions.

And so to attack that person is just bizarre for so many reasons but also shows you that he really believes that this really -- because there's not a jury in the courtroom, he's turning to the jury of the court of public opinion. Normally, if you had a jury trial, you'd be worried about having the jury pool really poisoned and having no longer the ability to be impartial towards either defendant because either their antics or their witnesses on the stand. He disregards all of that.

BLITZER: Norm, what options does the judge actually have to put a stop to what Trump is doing, his remarks, which the judge and others are suggesting could incite violence?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The judge has a very tough balancing act to do. I thought he struck the right balance with protecting his clerk and other court personnel, who are the ordinary civilians who make the justice system run. Laura and I spent our legal lives in court, and there are thousands of those folks in every courthouse who make it work, who typically don't get that attention.

But he's striking a First Amendment balance, Wolf, because he didn't say don't talk about me. He didn't say don't talk about Tish James. I know A.G. James and she can take care of herself, and you heard that today with her responding in the court of public opinion. So, I think that those kinds of comments the judge will allow to continue, First Amendment.

COATES: This is a judge, though, in the past, as you know, who has imposed fines on Donald Trump in this rare regard for thumbing a court's order, and that case was about contempt or not having to responded to subpoenas by Letitia James. We already have a track record, an appellate court upheld that as well, about $100,000 or more, $10,000 a day in fines. So, there is the possibility that he could enforce provisions of his gag order, otherwise, to really demonstrate that he is serious about this. But Norm is exactly right, the balance that has to be struck because he knows quite well what's going to happen on appeal. They're trying to do this right now. He knows that there's already the air of politics at play with the accusations that Letitia James is merely trying to grind a political ax against Donald Trump, he's aware of that. But when it comes down to the bare bones of this case, he has already decided, sir, you have already committed fraud along with the other defendants.


Now, we're just talking about whether you're going to have to pay a hefty sum or kind of hefty sum or whether you'll actually retain any business rights.

BLITZER: Laura Coates, Norm Eisen, guys, thank you very, very much. Laura will be back later tonight, 11:00 P.M. Eastern, for CNN Tonight. We'll be watching.

Coming up, the ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is jeopardizing U.S. aid for Kyiv. We'll have a live report from the frontlines in Eastern Ukraine.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.


BLITZER: The historic removal of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy could potentially have some major consequences for the war in Ukraine.


Listen to what one of McCarthy's possible successors says about U.S. aid for Kyiv. Listen to this.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What about Ukraine? Are you willing to move forward with an aid package for Ukraine if you are speaker?

JORDAN: I'm against that.


BLITZER: President Biden is also expressing concern in keeping up public pressure on House Republicans to pass more funding for Ukraine.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: It does worry me. But I know there are a majority members of the House and Senate in both parties who have said that they support funding Ukraine.

So, I don't think we should let the gamesmanship get in the way of blocking it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: CNN's Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen is in Eastern Ukraine for us. Fred, this is a debate in Congress, but in Ukraine, is this a matter of life or death?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think it certainly is for the Ukrainians. And I think one of the things what we're seeing when we speak to soldiers on the ground is that they say that this debate in Washington, D.C. and Congress is coming as the Ukrainians are trying to process a major counteroffensive and already suffering from a major lack of ammunition, and that's all on fronts, Wolf.

We spoke to soldiers who are currently fighting on the frontlines. Here's what they had to say.


PLEITGEN (voice over): Three rockets, that's it, even though this GRAD launcher would be more effective firing large salvos.

It's not very precise, the soldier named Alex says. It also depends on the weather and the range. And ammo shortages are a problem across the battlefield here in Eastern Ukraine.

Soldiers from the 80th Airborne Assault Brigade get ready to fire their western-donated Howitzer. The Ukrainians call this the sniper rifle of their artillery because it's so accurate, but it also illustrates one of the big problems they have. They have plenty of barrels to fire from but not enough ammunition to fire.

PLEITGEN: Battery Commander Myron telling me the lack of shells means his forces are badly outgunned here.

It's hard to give precise numbers, he says, but I think they fire ten times for every round we fire.


PLEITGEN (on camera): Wolf, and that same soldier told me that he believes, in some cases, it could even be 100-1 in favor of the Russians.

Now, U.S. is trying to mitigate all of that a little bit by giving Ukraine some weapons that it has seized from Iranian shipments that were meant to go to Yemen, CNN the first network to report on that. These are mostly small arms, rifles, bullets, but also some anti tank weapons as well. The Ukrainians, of course, saying that all this does helps but can't make up for the massive shortfalls that they have in ammunition, which they badly need. And, certainly, they say if there's any sort of delay in arms getting to them from the U.S., it could make a pretty big difference in favor of the (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: It could make a huge difference. Fred Pleitgen in Eastern Ukraine for us, thank you very much, Fred. Stay safe over there. For more on this, I'm joined by the former U.S. defense secretary, Leon Panetta, also the former CIA detector. Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.

As you know by now, and I know you've watched this closely, the next House speaker could be even less -- potentially even less open to additional U.S. aid for Ukraine. Given that, did the Democrats, do you believe, make a mistake by doing nothing save McCarthy from being ousted?

LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, it's critical that the new speaker understands he has a responsibility to protect the national security of the United States. And, obviously, Mr. McCarthy thought it was important to support funding for Ukraine and I hope the new speaker feels the same way, because it does involve our security.

Ukraine is not just fighting for their democracy. They're fighting for the principle of democracy in the world. And in addition to that, they're fighting against an adversary of the United States, Putin. Putin and Russia would do everything in their power to undermine the United States of America.

And I would remind a new speaker, and I would remind those who are trying to undercut aid for Ukraine, that you cannot be tough on China and weak on Russia. If you try to suddenly move away from our support on to Ukraine, you are sending a message of weakness to the world.

BLITZER: Is this dysfunction on whether to send in U.S. aid to Ukraine potentially, Mr. Secretary, a gift to Vladimir Putin?

PANETTA: Without question. That's what Putin is now working on because he sees the debate in this country. And he saw what has happened with regards to the funding that was removed from the continuing resolution. He's aware of all of it.


And he's going to try to do everything he can to try to influence those particularly on the Republican side, to not support aid to Ukraine. That's his goal.

And we have to understand that our goal is to make sure that Ukraine stops Putin.


PANETTA: Putin --

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.

PANETTA: -- democracy, we can't allow that to happen.

BLITZER: So, how concerned are you, Mr. Secretary, that Putin potentially will try to stoke U.S. political division ahead of the 2024 presidential election here? PANETTA: Without question, that's what Putin does. He implemented a bold cyber effort to undermine our election process in 2016. That's been confirmed by all of our intelligence agencies. He did the same thing in 2018. He did the same thing in 2020, 2022. And there's every indication from our intelligence agencies that he's going to continue to do the same thing in 2024. He will try to do everything in his power to try to elect someone who would be supportive of him and supportive of Russia. That would undermine our national security standing in the world.

BLITZER: Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, also the former CIA director, thank you so much for joining us.

PANETTA: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, in 2018, Senator Bob Menendez's soon to be wife hit and killed a man with her car. Why new details are emerging now about that incident and why it may play an important role in the federal corruption case against the couple.



BLITZER: There's a new twist in the federal indictment of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine, a deadly car crash apparently tied to an alleged bribery scheme.

According to a police report, the senator's then-soon to be wife fatally struck a jaywalking pedestrian,Richard Koop, with her Mercedes back in December of 2018. Federal prosecutors say the collision left her without a car and alleged Senator Menendez illegally traded favors to help her obtain a new one. The New York Times, which first reported the story, says she was not tested for drugs or alcohol after the collision. A police dash cam captured video of her interaction with officers at the scene. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why was the guy in the middle of the street?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's what we're trying to figure out. That's what -- our job is to investigate everything that happens. That's what we're trying to do. Obviously, the more information --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did I do anything wrong?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Look, I understand. I understand. It does expedite our investigation when people can help us out. Because --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- if we can clear you from any wrongdoing, I want to get you home and comfortable and not here anymore. You get what I'm saying, nothing against you.

Before you go, I just want to confirm that you do want to give me your phone, correct?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. And that's your statement that you were driving this way. The guy came from this way and he ran into your vehicle?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He jumped on my windshield.



BLITZER: Speaking to reporters up on Capitol Hill today, Senator Menendez called the crash a tragic accident and said he's thinking of the family.

Let's bring in our Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller. John, thanks for joining us. How unusual is it for police not to test a driver involved in a deadly car accident for drugs or alcohol?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: In the state of New Jersey, not that unusual. For a police to compel a test like that, they have to make an observation of something that gives them reasonable suspicion. The person might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That would be slurred speech, unsteady on their feet, statements that don't make sense.

And as you can see from the video, she is articulating. She's steady. And their report indicates none of those observations, so they wouldn't have been able to do that at that point.

BLITZER: And, John, CNN has obtained surveillance video of the scene that our viewers may find disturbing. Does the -- what does the video show specifically?

MILLER: The video is from a security camera that's a distance away, but it shows Nadine Arslanian's car coming into frame and the pedestrian being struck by it and then her stopping for a period of time after he's hit with him lying in the street. So, you can see him lying in the street just about center screen down from the top.

And her car remains there for about a minute. She doesn't get out of the car. She doesn't check on him. We don't know what's going on in that car if she's calling 911, if she's calling someone else, if she's watching. And then a minute goes by and she moves the car up several car lengths, about 100 feet, and then waits there, as far as we can tell from the video, for police to arrive. So, there's certainly some unanswered questions there.

BLITZER: The car accident, as you know, John, is referenced in the federal indictment against Senator Menendez and his wife because it left Nadine Menendez without a car. How could the new details that are emerging now about the accident play into the federal corruption charges case? MILLER: Well, it's actually probably the other way around, Wolf, in that this was a sleeping tiger, this case. It hadn't made the newspapers. It wasn't the subject of public attention.


It wasn't the subject of scrutiny. The very complaints that the family of the victim have, that they feel it didn't get enough attention. Now that the indictment has pointed to the accident and reporters from "The Bergen Record" first learned that this was a fatal accident involving someone who was killed while she was driving that car. It's not as much how this case will affect the indictment as much how the indictment will affect this case. Will the Bergen County prosecutors' office reopen what they had? Will they disclose why they didn't go forward with a charge?

Now that the indictment has pointed to the accident and reporters from "The Bergen Record" first learned that this was a fatal accident involving someone who was killed while she was driving that car. It's not as much how this case will affect the indictment as much how the indictment will affect this case. Will the Bergen County prosecutors' office reopen what they had? Will they disclose why they didn't go forward with a charge?

Or for instance, what was the result of the subpoena they gave for her phone records to determine was she texting or on the phone at the time of the accident? That's an answer that isn't reflected in the records that have been turned over to us.

BLITZER: Could they actually go back and charge her for this?

MILLER: Well, 2018. It's a question of the statute of limitations in New Jersey, but it is a fatal accident, so there is a possibility of that. At minimum, it would open up potential information to civil claims by the family. Either way, something that the spotlight hadn't found is now right in the middle of the spotlight.

BLITZER: Certainly is.

All right. John Miller, thank you very much.

Coming up, the biggest healthcare strike in American history is now underway. How might it impact your next visit to the doctor's office?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Tens of thousands of unionized health care workers are taking to the streets right now in the largest health care strike in U.S. history. And it could affect patients seeking medical treatment.

CNN's Brian Todd is outside the Kaiser Permanente building here in Washington and is covering the strike and its potential impact for us. What's the latest, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as of today, you've got more than 75,000 unionized employees of Kaiser Permanente on strike, which could affect everything from appointments to our prescriptions. Tonight, we take a deeper look at America on strike between this walkout, the auto worker strike, and other labor problems.


TODD (voice-over): Striking employees of Kaiser Permanente walk the picket lines in Springfield, Virginia. Starting today, more than 75,000 unionized employees of Kaiser have walked off the job, making it the largest health care worker strike in U.S. history.

DAVID HAWA, PHARMACIST FOR KAISER PERMANENTE: We feel like we're overworked, stretched thin, rushing.

TODD: Workers say they have been hard pressed since the crushing COVID pandemic.

ROCIO CHACON, SEIU-UHW KAISER BARGAINING TEAM: They're working 14, 16 hours so they're tired.

TODD: Their demands, improved staffing levels and better pay and benefits.

SARAH LEVESQUE, OPEIU LOCAL 2: We want wages that keep up with the cost of living.

TODD: Kaiser says it has offered a wage bump and a plan to staff up, but no deal yet. Kaiser Permanente serves 12.7 million people in the U.S. The company says some patients could see nonemergency and elective services affected.

PROF. CHRISTOPHER KAYES, DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: They may have trouble getting their prescription. They may have trouble getting access to health care. They may appointments already cancelled. They may have to reschedule those appointments.

TODD: Kaiser workers are not the only ones on strike right now. The United Auto Workers are in their third week of strikes against Ford, GM, and Stellantis, which makes vehicles under the Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge brands. A work stoppage that has slowly grown to 25,000 workers at dozens of locations.

Their demands? Higher wages, better benefits, better job security. The automakers saying they have already made generous offers including a wage increase of 10 percent to start, reaching 20 percent by year four.

KAYES: Companies and organizations are really struggling to get enough workers these days. So, workers have the power now. They can leave, they can quit, they can go on strike, they can ask for better benefits, they can ask for a working wage. TODD: And while the writers strike in Hollywood has been resolved with

them getting significant advances and late-night talk shows resuming, the standoff between the actors union and the Hollywood studios continues. So the production of new shows and movies is at a standstill.

Are all these strikes hurting the economy?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: They're not helping, but they're not damaging to a huge extent. The U.S. economy is truly huge. What would be damaging in a bigger sense would be the longer the strikes go on, and the more there are of them.


TODD: While the Kaiser strike is temporary, there could be a longer, more contentious Kaiser Permanente strike in November if a deal isn't reached. And Chris Kayes of GW University warns of another potential walkout which could affect large swaths of the country. A potential airline pilots strike in the coming months -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting, thank you, Brian.

Just ahead, a teenage girl is hospitalized after allegedly being assaulted by Iran's so-called morality police in an incident reminiscent of the one that set off nationwide protests.


BLITZER: A teenage girl in Iran is hospitalized now after allegedly being assaulted by the so-called morality police. This comes a little more than a year after a similar incident involving Mahsa Amini, the young woman who died after being arrested for not wearing a head scarf. Her death triggered nationwide protests across Iran.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh looks at the latest incident.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Iranian activist groups are accusing the morality police of accusing the 16-year-old girl in a Tehran metro station for not wearing the mandatory hijab or the head scarf. Activists say that Armita Geravand has been in a coma since Sunday. According to the activist opposition group, Iran Wire, she was admitted to hospital with head trauma.

We have not yet been able to independently verify this information. State affiliated media posted a video of a group of girls seen entering the metro train. Some of the girls entering appeared not to be wearing their head scarves. Moments later, the video goes on to show a group of girls carrying her out of the metro train placing her on the platform. No altercation can be seen on the edited video that was posted on state media. And we've not been able to confirm its authenticity.

The CEO of the Tehran metro told state media that there was no physical or verbal interaction between the girl and members of his staff. The Iranian government has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment.

Geravand's parents told state media in an interview that they were told that their daughter hit her head after fainting from low blood pressure while she was on her way to school. The parents said that there were no signs from the videos that they saw that she was assaulted. It is important to point out that we don't know the conditions under which this interview was conducted.

And in the past, U.N. and human rights groups have told us that families of protesters killed during last year's protests were being coerced into making statements that are supportive of the government's narrative. A journalist who went to hospital to report on Geravand's condition was briefly arrested on Tuesday and released according to her paper -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jomana Karadsheh, very disturbing story indeed, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.

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