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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Denies Reports He Plans To Leave Congress; Trump Slams Report Alleging He Shared Nuclear Sub Info; Two Civilians Killed After Russian Strike On Major Ukrainian City; U.S. Labor Market Surges With 336K Jobs Added Last Month; Jailed Iranian Activist Awarded The Nobel Peace Prize. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 06, 2023 - 18:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see dead people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had the most difficult experience making the distinction between lines that are popular, lines that we love and then lines that actually had made some sort of cultural impact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roads, where they're going, we don't need roads.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see yipee ki yay made the cut. Brian Abrams' book, You Talkin' To Me, is out now.

Our coverage continues with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Kevin McCarthy is denying reports he plans to resign from Congress after the House elects a new speaker. We have new details on McCarthy's future and all the latest on the race for the gavel.

Plus, Donald Trump is trashing a bombshell report alleging he shared nuclear submarine secrets with a foreign billionaire, accusations he's calling, quote, false and ridiculous. We'll take a look at the former president's checkered history with sensitive U.S. national security information.

And one day after launching the deadliest attack against Ukrainian civilians in months, Putin's forces once again unleashed terror on innocent people. A ten-year-old boy and his grandmother, the latest victims of Russian missiles.

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 our top story right now, Congressman Kevin McCarthy now pushing back on reports he plans to step away from Congress just days after losing the speaker's gavel.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is standing by for us up on Capitol Hill. She has details. Melanie, what is going on here?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Kevin McCarthy came out just a little bit ago and spoke to us reporters and said he is not resigning and that he has more work to do. But in talking to our sources, he has sent very different signals in private conversations, saying he could step down early from Congress but wanted to stick it out at least through the speaker's election.

Now, he says that is not the case and that any announcements about his future plans will come from him. Here's what he had to say.


REPORTER: You're not resigning?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): No, I'm not resigning.

REPORTER: So, you'll stay the entire term?

MCCARTHY: I'm staying. So, don't worry. I've got a lot to do.

REPORTER: Thinking about running for re-election?


REPORTER: Yes, you will run or yes you --

MCCARTHY: Yes. We're going to keep the majority. I'm going to help the people I got there and we're going to expand it further.


ZANONA: And McCarthy was also asked about the race to replace him. He told us that he has spoken to both Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan, the two candidates who are in the race. He says they're both good friends of his, but he signaled he is not planning to endorse and said, I'm just going to let them work. Wolf?

BLITZER: It's interesting. The actual battle for speaker got messy today with candidates committing to a televised debate and then pulling out. What's the latest on the fight for the speakership?

ZANONA: Yes. There's been a lot of whiplash today inside the House Republican Party. So, both Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan ended up backing out from the planned televised interview with Fox News. It was supposed to take place Monday from the Capitol.

But they backed just out hours after the event was announced because they were receiving blowback from within their party, particularly from moderate Republicans, who I was hearing from as well saying this is a horrible idea, this is going to turn into a circus. They communicated those concerns and frustrations to the speaker candidates, who ultimately decided to back out of event.

But I think it really just speaks to just how much uncertainty there is in the House GOP and how much sensitivity and how much raw emotions are still running through the Republican conference. Both Scalise and Jordan have been trying to win over those moderates. That is going to be a key constituency. And meanwhile, Jim Jordan also picked up another backing endorsement. That is from former President Donald Trump, which, of course, could go a long way, at least with his conservative support, who might not win over moderates.

So, we'll see whether any candidate can get 218 votes on the floor next week, but there is a lot of doubts about whether they're going to be able to unify around a single candidate by next week. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Melanie Zanona up on Capitol Hill, thank you.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is trying to play kingmaker in the speaker's race. For more on the former president's influence, let's bring in CNN's Kristen Holmes, who is working the story for us. Kristen, Trump has officially endorsed Jim Jordan. Does this actually move the needle?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, that's the big question. I spoke to a number of Trump allies on Capitol Hill who weren't really sure why he endorsed, particularly given that they believe that people who Donald Trump could move actually would already be supporting Jim Jordan in the first place.

But let's talk a little bit about how we got to this endorsement, because it came after a chaotic day of Donald Trump really inserting himself into an already tumultuous situation on Capitol Hill with the Republican caucus. He's floated the idea to allies that he was going to come up to Capitol Hill and talk to the fractured caucus.


Many of his allies did not like that idea. They did not want be him up on Capitol Hill. They thought that it would further add to the chaos of this ongoing situation.

He also did an interview in which he floated the idea that he would serve as interim speaker for the short-term, really ignoring the idea that he'd actually have to be voted in in order to do that. And I will note, Wolf, that he did this interview without even some of his top advisers knowing it until it was published. They had been telling reporters that Trump was not taking this seriously at all, this idea to be interim speaker.

And one thing I did hear from GOP allies of Jim Jordan's was that there was some concern that the more that Donald Trump continued to publicly toy with this idea of being interim speaker, going to Capitol Hill without endorsing someone, that it would actually hurt Jim Jordan in the long run. Too much time would go by.

So, we did see late last night, after midnight, Trump coming out with this full-throated endorsement of Jordan. And just a quick note, it is not surprising that he came out backing Jordan. Jordan is someone who has stood by Trump time and time again. He is leading the way on so many of the investigations into President Biden. He's one of his biggest allies. One other thing to note here is that Jordan, unlike Steve Scalise, has endorsed Trump for president in 2024. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Kristen, thank you. Kristen Holmes reporting from Capitol Hill.

Let's get some reaction to all these late-breaking developments from Capitol Hill. Republican Congressman Larry Bucshon from Indiana is joining us right now. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

As you know, Kevin McCarthy is now flatly denying a report that he's planning to resign from Congress before the end of his term. Do you think he has a responsibility to remain in the House of Representatives and not make an already tight GOP majority potentially even smaller?

REP. LARRY BUCSHON (R-IN): Well, I think that's a consideration. I think he has to take into account, what the future of his career is in the House of Representatives. And, honestly, he talked to his family and his advisers and see where he needs to go. But, of course, we need his vote because we do have a tight majority, as you pointed out.

BLITZER: You're supporting Steve Scalise for speaker of the House. Jim Jordan has won the endorsement of Donald Trump. Why do you disagree with the former president and what kind of impact do you think Trump's endorsement will actually have?

BUCSHON: Yes. I've known Steve Scalise for a long time now. I supported him when he initially ran for whip a number of years ago. He's a credible leader and a great man and I really support all of the things that he's been trying to do.

That said, Jim Jordan is also a very credible speaker candidate. He's doing a great job as committee chairman that he has today, and I've known him also for a number of years.

So, I think we've got at least two great candidates. I think Steve Scalise can unite the party and that's where the direction I think we should go. We'll see.

BLITZER: Republican Congressman Mark Amodei says, and I'm quoting him now, if we have a speaker by the end of next week, he says, that would be warp speed. Given all of this chaos, Congressman, what are the chances your entire conference can come to an agreement by next week?

BUCSHON: I personally think the chances are good, Wolf. I think that we'll see on Tuesday. We're going to have a candidate forum. Kevin Hern might get in the race. We might have three candidates. And we'll see where we go from there. I do think we can coalesce around someone. Any of those three could be great speakers. Again, I'm supporting Steve Scalise but the other two are also outstanding members of Congress, from my perspective. So, I'm pretty optimistic. It all depends on Tuesday and when we get back together as a conference and then we'll go from there.

BLITZER: The house Democratic leader, Hakeem Jefferies, released an op-ed in The Washington Post calling for a bipartisan coalition in the House, and he writes this, and I'm quoting now. We simply need Republican partners willing to break with MAGA extremism. Reform the highly partisan House rules that were adopted at the beginning of this Congress and join us in finding common ground for the people. Congressman, how do you respond to him?

BUCSHON: Well, that's just not going to happen. That's not the way it works. The House majority picks the speaker. And, you know, the Democrats always, when they're in the minority, are calling for bipartisanship. And as soon as they're in the majority, they do just the opposite.

So, you know, I understand where he's coming from and why he's saying those things, but it's just not going to happen. The House Republicans are in the majority. We will pick our speaker and then go from there.

Look, a lot of us work in a bipartisan way all the time on our committees. That will continue. But as House speakers go, the majority will pick the next House speaker.

BLITZER: As you probably know, I'm sure you do, ABC News is reporting that Donald Trump allegedly discussed highly sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarine with an Australian billionaire member of his Mar-a-Lago country club down in Florida. As a Navy veteran yourself, does this revelation concern you?

BUCSHON: Well, if it it's true, yes. And so, you know, I don't know whether or not it's true, and that needs to be investigated.


But, you know, there's a lot of hearsay around Donald Trump, what he has done, what he hasn't done. But, yes, I mean, it's always not a good thing to detail classified information to people that are not Americans and also don't have the proper security clearance. But I don't know that to be true in this particular case so I really can't comment other than that.

BLITZER: Yes. I suspect we will find out fairly soon.

Donald Trump also recently described migrants trying to come into the United States as, quote, poisoning the blood of our country, his words, poisoning the blood of our country. Watch what else he said. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Nobody has any idea where these people are coming from, and we know they come from prisons. We know they come from mental institutions, insane asylums. We know they're terrorists. Nobody has ever seen anything like we're witnessing now. It is a very sad thing for our country. It's poisoning the blood of our country.


BLITZER: As you know, Congressman, this is the kind of language often used by white supremacists. Should Trump apologize for saying this? BUCSHON: Well, I think he probably should. I mean, I think those words are really outrageous to describe human beings. I was a doctor before I was in Congress. It's a humanitarian crisis down there.

And I understand why people want to try to come here to the United States, because we're the best country in the world with the freedom that we have here, but they need to do it legally. So, yes, I think it's not appropriate language to be using. These people are human beings, just like you and I, and there are reasons why they're coming.

I think the Biden administration policies are helping to drive that and we need to reverse course here. As you see the administration doing this week, realizing that in certain areas of the border we might need a physical barrier.

But those type of language, that type of language and rhetoric is not appropriate and we shouldn't be using it. We should be talking about how we stem the tide of illegal immigration and also we reform our legal system so people that really want to come here can come to America. Look, we're all immigrants. My family came from Hungary, Ireland and England. So, yes, that's the direction we need to go and you'll find House Republicans not using that type of language as we describe people who are coming here.

BLITZER: As we often say, we're a country of immigrants. Congressman Larry Bucshon, thank you so much for joining us.

BUCSHON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, Donald Trump is responding to that bombshell report alleging he shared highly sensitive information on U.S. nuclear submarines. I'll discuss this and more with his former national security adviser, John Bolton.

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



BLITZER: Donald Trump is slamming an ABC News report alleging he shared potentially very sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarine with an Australian billionaire calling it, quote, false and ridiculous. It's the latest in a series of incidents in which the former president of the United States has been accused of being careless, very careless with government secrets.

Brian Todd is looking into all of this for us. Brian, how does this latest report compare to previous incidents?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's all too consistent and unsettling to intelligence veterans who we spoke who worry about many possible ramifications of the former president's alleged recklessness.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice over): ABC's reporting on the former president allegedly sharing sensitive information on U.S. nuclear submarines with an Australian businessman is far from the first time questions have been raised about Donald Trump being cavalier with America's secrets. In 2017, Trump took heat for telling Russia's foreign minister and its ambassador to Washington right in the Oval Office about intelligence the U.S. got from other countries about ISIS plots.

That same year during a meeting with then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the patio at Mar-a-Lago, word came of a North Korean missile launch. Other guests there at the time were close enough to take photos like these. In view of guests, sensitive documents were illuminated by the light of a cell phone.

DOUGLAS LONDON, RETIRED SENIOR CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER: In terms of what was there at Mar-a-Lago, the president had access to the most sensitive secrets of the United States. Anything he would have received, heard of and briefed of would have been our most sensitive sources, our most closely held information.

TODD: Earlier this year, CNN exclusively obtained audio of Trump during a meeting at his Bedminster, New Jersey estate in 2021 discussing a secret Pentagon document that he did not declassify, a document on prospective plans to attack Iran, a moment when he seems to indicate he's holding the documents in his hands.

TRUMP: They presented me this, all sort of stuff, pages long. This is secret information. But look at this, you attack and --

TODD: In a 2017 phone call with the president of the Philippines, Trump revealed that the U.S. had positioned submarine near North Korea.

In an interview with Fox Business, Trump bragged that he had once informed Chinese President Xi Jinping about airstrikes he had authorized in Syria over a, quote, beautiful piece of chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago.

TRUMP: I said, Mr. President, let me explain something to you. This is during dessert. We've just fired 59 missiles.

TODD: And in 2019, Trump bragged to Journalist Bob Woodward about building an ultra secret nuclear weapons system.

TRUMP: I have built a nuclear -- a weapon -- I have built a weapons system that nobody has ever had in this country before.

TODD: One former CIA analyst says Trump's recklessness with secrets endangers American lives and --

AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: If our allies cannot trust the U.S. with information because the president or the former president is willing to give it away for nothing, for bragging rights, other countries are going to see us as partners that they cannot trust. And they're going to start reducing the amount of information they're going to give to us. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (on camera): former President Trump has repeatedly denied mishandling sensitive information regarding the ABC report on what he allegedly told the Australian businessman about American submarines. A Trump spokesperson said that report lacked proper context and that the former president did nothing wrong. That businessman, Anthony Pratt, has not responded to multiple requests for comment. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd reporting, thanks very much.

For more on this important story, I'm joined now by Donald Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton.


Ambassador Bolton, thank you so much for joining us.

You see the pattern of behavior that Brian just reported. Does this reporting, this latest reporting from ABC News that Trump allegedly shared very sensitive classified information on nuclear submarines, sound like the Trump you know and work with?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, unfortunately, yes. A very insightful person said to me during the 2016 campaign that Trump has no filter between his brain and his mouth. And I think that's a big part of the problem here. But it displays itself in a lot of different ways.

There's the famous story of him being shown a sensitive overhead photograph of a failed missile launch in Iran, which normally we wouldn't even talk about, but he was so attracted to the photo that he asked to keep it.

I was not at that meeting but I know how hard it is to get stuff back from him at the classified briefings. But they left the photograph behind, and as the officials were heading back to their respective agencies, Trump had already tweeted it out, including markings that could give forensics experts and our enemies real evidence about what the photographic capabilities were.

So, this is serious and I think it is something for foreign leaders to worry about. They may trust president's advisers, they may trust others they deal with on a regular basis but they'd always have to worry that information that got to Trump might slip out in an unguarded moment.

BLITZER: If you, as a former national security adviser with top secret security clearances, if you shared this type of information, what would happen to you?

BOLTON: Well, if it were in a context like speaking to somebody like this Australian businessman with no need to know, no security clearance, no official function, it would be very serious. There's no doubt about it. And I think the president's example really has an unfortunate ripple effect throughout the bureaucracy and gives rise to a lot of cynicism and a lot of carelessness. If he can do that, maybe we can get away with it, too, and why should we be punished if he's not punished.

BLITZER: The former director of U.S. National Intelligence, James Clapper, he tells me, and he was with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday, he tells me if Trump did share this information, it could endanger crew members, impact, quote, the very essence of the survival of the nation. Do you agree?

BOLTON: Well, it's possible. Obviously, we don't know exactly what the information is. One of the things he's alleged to have said is the number of Trident missiles in our Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. I just looked up for the fun of it before coming on here. Wikipedia says there are 20 Tridents in an Ohio-class submarine. I'm not going to say what the number is, but I'm just saying there's a lot of discussion on that point.

On the point about how effective our submarines are at evading detection, I think that's a lot more serious and it's hard to imagine there's any explanation or any excuse for revealing anything that Trump might have remembered on that score.

BLITZER: Ambassador, if you were advising Trump's 2024 rivals, would you tell them to make the case about the risk you believe Trump actually poses to U.S. national security?

BOLTON: Absolutely. I think the core argument Republicans in particular ought to be making about Trump is that he is not fit for the job. He doesn't understand the full nature of his responsibilities in the national security area. He didn't know much about the government when he was inaugurated in 2017. He learned very little since then.

And I think it's a real problem when you have somebody who's more interested in talking about himself, his own self-aggrandizement, seeing everything through the prism of whether it benefits Donald Trump, these are the attributes of somebody who shouldn't sit in the Oval Office, whatever his philosophy. And, by the way, Trump doesn't have one of those.

BLITZER: Ambassador John Bolton, very strong words, thanks so much for joining us.

BOLTON: Glad to be with you.

BLITZER: Coming up, can Congressman Jim Jordan win over Republican moderates wary of his reputation as a conservative hardliner? We'll have a look at the man who might, repeat, might become the next speaker of the House.



BLITZER: After years of burnishing his credentials as a conservative hardliner, Congressman Jim Jordan is trying to win over the moderate Republicans who potentially could be key to winning the House speakership.

Our Congressional Correspondent Lauren Fox has a closer look at the powerful lawmaker with his eyes on the gavel.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): And, look, I like the job I got now. I never wanted to do this job, but someone has to who can bring the team together.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Jim Jordan, once a thorn in the side of GOP leaders, now vying to lead them as House speaker after Kevin McCarthy was booted from the role.

JORDAN: I disagree with, you know, what took place, but those guys are friends of mine.

FOX: The Ohio congressman, the chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee.

JORDAN: Everyone knows the fix is in.

FOX: And known for his aggressive pursuit of an impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

JORDAN: This inquiry is so darn important.

FOX: It boosted his authority within the GOP conference and earned him the endorsement of Donald Trump.

Jordan voted against certifying the 2020 election despite no evidence of widespread fraud.


JORDAN: Americans instinctively know there was something wrong with this election.

FOX: And was involved in conversations with the White House around the time of January 6th, including a ten-minute call with the then- President Trump the morning of the attack.

JORDAN: I talked to the president a couple of times that day but I don't remember the times.

FOX: Kevin McCarthy nominated him to the January 6th committee but then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected him and he later defied a subpoena from the committee to testify.

Committee Co-Chair Liz Cheney has criticized Jordan's run for speaker.

FMR. REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): If the Republicans decide that Jim Jordan should be the speaker of the House, there would no longer be any possible way to argue that a group of elected Republicans could be counted on to defend the Constitution. FOX: Prior to his time in Congress, Jordan served as an assistant coach for Ohio State's wrestling program, coming under fire after several former wrestlers claimed Jordan knew about the sexual abuse allegations involving team doctor, Richard Strauss.

In 2020, six former wrestlers told CNN they were present when Jordan heard or responded to sexual misconduct complaints about the doctor.


FOX: Jordan has emphatically denied he knew anything about Strauss' abuse when he worked at OSU between 1987 and 1995. Strauss died by suicide in 2005.

JORDAN: Look, if I didn't know there was some kind of problem, some kind of abuse, I'd helped out our athletes.

What they're saying is just not true.

FOX: An independent report found Strauss sexually abused at least 177 male student patients but did not specifically name Jordan or any wrestling coach at Ohio State, just that 22 coaches were, quote, aware of rumors or complaints about Strauss.

On Capitol Hill, Jordan made a name for himself during the Benghazi hearings.

JORDAN: Where did the false narrative start? It started with you, Madam Secretary.

FOX: But he also gained a reputation as an agitator for party leaders. As a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, he was part of the group that often tangled with then-Speaker John Boehner, prompting Boehner to later call him a legislative terrorist.

Now, Jordan says, as speaker, he's the one that will be able to reunite his deeply divided party.

JORDAN: I think I can do that. If I didn't think I could do that, I wouldn't run.

FOX: Lauren Fox, CNN, Capitol Hill.


BLITZER: Lauren Fox, thank you very much for that report.

Let's get some analysis right now from our political experts. And, Gloria Borger, I'll start with you. Jordan could go from being an election denier and someone once being called a legislative terrorist to actually leading the House Republicans. What's your thought?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, my thought is what we're seeing occur is a campaign conversion. You know, here is somebody who is the head of the rigged election caucus who now is trying to convince moderate Republicans that he's the guy to reach across the aisle when deals need to be done, who can deal with moderates and be a grown up leading the Republicans in the House of Representatives. And anybody who's known Jim Jordan knows that he is known for being an outside agitator. So, now, the agitator wants to go inside.

I mean, he could potentially win because the gang of eight will probably support him, the ones who voted against McCarthy, but we really have to see how those moderates go and how other Republicans go after his long history working outside the caucus, really.

BLITZER: Scott Jennings, will Jim Jordan's controversial past hurt House Republicans in competitive races if he were to be elected speaker of the House?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't really think so. I actually don't think most Americans care all that much who the speaker of the House is as much as they care about what the House is doing and what results they're getting on legislation and their priorities.

I will tell you, I just had a talk with a few members over the last couple of days, it feels like Jordan has got some momentum here. I was even talking to a member who told me he's currently for Scalise but would also be fine with Jordan. So, you can see there's some overlap between the two guys right now.

I don't know really who's ahead, and I think a lot of members are waiting to hear about their pitches next week. But, obviously, Jordan has come on strong and one person even told me today that he thought Jordan over the last couple of years had matured, that he wasn't quite the agitator that he had been, that he's trying to be a broader voice within the conference.

So, I'm interested to see how it plays out. Whoever gets it, Wolf, these rules that they have to exist under, if they're the same as the ones Kevin McCarthy did, they're going to have as miserable a ride as he did.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point.

Bakari Sellers is with us as well. Is there a political benefit potentially for Democrats as they try to retake the House of Representatives in being able to run against, let's say Jim Jordan, as the House speaker, similar to what Republicans did with Nancy Pelosi?


BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't know about -- if that comparison is fair, but your question is definitely fair. I mean, look, I think that most people realize that the odds are that you're going to have a Speaker Jeffries next November. I think people realize that. And there reason (INAUDIBLE) they're going to go out and articulate a message, jobs report, were able to articulate a message about the economy growing, were able to focus on issues that really, really, matter to the American public. And you know what Republicans mean today to the American public? Chaos. Whether or not Jim Jordan is elected or Steve Scalise is elected, or even if you have Patrick McHenry that's elected, that's chaos. Next week is going to be full of chaos for the Republican Party. And Democrats actually represent somebody who is about the bottom line and can make sure that your pockets are sound and that the economy is growing.

Look, we're not going to get involved in the chaos that is the Republican Party. I admonish any Democrat that wants to get involved in that race, Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise, Donald Trump, whoever it would be. The fact is that party has not been able to prove they can lead and that is the major issue that they have going into the next election.

BORGER: And I'll add one thing, Wolf.

BLITZER: Go ahead.

BORGER: But I think Donald Trump trying to get involved in one way or the other doesn't necessarily help Jim Jordan at all. I think, you know, Donald Trump getting involved, this is a personal race. This is about people going to Jim Jordan and saying what are you going to do and what are you going to do for me. These are very insular races. And Donald Trump trying to play kingmaker doesn't necessarily work for Jordan at all.

BLITZER: Let me get Scott Jennings to weigh in. Go ahead, Scott.

JENNINGS: Yes. Just to respond to Bakari's idea that Democrats aren't going to get involved in this race or weigh in on it or be worried about whether the House is going to be run by somebody who can work across the aisle, Democrats have already gotten involved. Every Democrat voted to throw out Kevin McCarthy who had just proven that he could work with Democrats to keep the government open, who is the one person who had proven over time that he was willing to talk to moderates and conservatives in his conference, and he was a governing- type of Republican. Now, we're guaranteed to get somebody who is going to have to make a bunch of harder edged promises.

Yes, eight Republicans voted to throw out McCarthy, but every Democrat did. And I actually don't think they thought through the consequences of their actions. The promises that will have to be made to become the next speaker are going to be not acceptable to Democrats. And they may want to have chaos for the next year-and-a-half, but I would just admit that's not good for the American people.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, thank you very, very much. We'll continue this conversation down the road.

Just ahead, listen to this, a ten-year-old and his grandmother among the dead as Russia steps up its missile attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine. We'll have a live report from Ukraine. That's coming up.



BLITZER: Tonight, two people are dead in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv after another Russian missile hit a residential building. This brutal strike comes just a day after one of the deadliest attacks of the war killed more than 50 people in a small Ukrainian village.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is joining us now live from that village. Fred, do these attacks by the Russians reflect an even harsher escalation?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it could very well be, Wolf. One of the things we see is that the missile aftermath is absolutely devastating. You can see right here behind after the debris has been cleared that this building has just completely been annihilated all the way down to the foundations. The Ukrainians now actually gotten all of the rubble out of the way.

But the thing about these two attacks, Wolf, is that they both involved the same missile. It's called the Iskander-M, and it is extremely powerful and dangerous, especially when used on urban areas. Here is what we're learning.


PLEITGEN (voice over): Another massive missile attack in Eastern Ukraine. Two killed, dozens wounded when the city of Kharkiv was hit early Friday. The Ukrainians say this was the work of the same type of missile that killed more than 50 in a village close by just a day earlier.

Anatoliy Androsovych tells me pretty much every family in Hroza lost someone. His brother and his brother's wife also among the dead.

I just heard the explosion, looked at the dust and realized my brother, Nikola (ph), was there he says. They identified the bodies. Their son went to pick them up. We will bury them tomorrow.

The plot for their burial already marked at the local cemetery, close to the fresh grave of the soldier whose wake the victims were attending at a local cafe when the missile struck.

At the attack site, crews already clearing the debris.

The authorities here quickly realized that they weren't going to find any more survivors underneath debris. And you can see here this has now gone from being a search and rescue to being a recovery operations with the teams here searching for human remains.

Amidst the belongings of those killed littering an adjacent playground, police officers catalog what they believe are parts of the powerful Iskander missile that annihilate the building. Nearly a third of Hroza's residents lost their lives here. Those who are left shocked and grieving.

73-year-old Valentina Kozienko lives right next to the site.

I knew all of them, she says. They are all from here, all from our village.


PLEITGEN (on camera): As you can see, Wolf, some pretty tragic events that unfolded here once again today, as we show you again what happened after this missile struck here. Of course, now that we're moving into the weekend here in this village, that's when the burials are really going to start.


So, a lot more agony. A lot more pain for the local population here. And the Ukrainian government has said that they believe there could be further strikes by the Russians with similar missiles, and that's why they say the only way to try and mitigate that is more air defense capabilities that they hope to get from the U.S. and from other allies -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, desperately needed. Patriot air defense missile systems and other air defense missile systems.

Fred Pleitgen on the scene for us. Stay safe. Thank you very, very much.

Coming up, a truly stunning U.S. jobs report released today smashes expectations and gives President Biden a major boost. We're going to break down the new numbers right after the break.


BLITZER: President Biden is touting another blockbuster U.S. jobs report, 336,000 new positions added just last month.


That number soaring past expectations.

Let's get details now from our senior White House correspondent Kayla Tausche. Kayla is with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The president calls this good news. But, potentially, Kayla, do Americans disagree necessarily?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, anecdotes are not data, Wolf, but by and large, Americans have not been in agreement that the economy feels good on the ground. Despite that blockbuster jobs report, despite now we know more jobs were added in July and August than previously reported, Americans just report that they don't feel good about the economy. In a poll conducted by Marquette in the middle of September, that same month where 336,000 jobs were added, just 28 percent of respondents said that President Biden would do a better job handling the economy; 52 percent perfection of respondents in that poll said former president Trump would do a better job handling the economy.

When you talk to White House officials, they say it's going to take time for the message to sink in for easing inflation to be felt, for some of the president's legislative achievements to trickle through to a family's bottom line. But at this point it's been several months that they've been trying to make this argument, and Americans are just not sold yet, Wolf.

BLITZER: I know you're working another important story. How is the president defending his decision to build more sections of the border wall along the U.S./Mexican border?

TAUSCHE: Well, he continues to say that because this was an action that was taken by Congress in 2019 before he was president, he didn't have an opportunity to veto it. And just again this morning, he said he had no choice. Here's the president.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I was told that I had no choice, that I -- you know, Congress passes legislation to build something, whether it's an aircraft carrier, wall, or provide for a tax cut, I can't say I don't like it, I'm not going to do it.


TAUSCHE: He said he tried to divert that money towards more border agents, more technical capabilities at the border but he was told that he was not allowed to do that. Even so, Wolf, this is quite a departure from the stated policy of the White House.

BLITZER: Which has been stated very, very strongly over these many, many months.


BLITZER: Thank you very much. Kayla Tausche reporting.

Just ahead, a jailed Iranian activist is this year's winner of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. An exclusive look at how she's still fighting from behind bars in Iran. That's coming up next.


BLITZER: A jailed Iranian activist has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Narges Mohammadi is being honored for her efforts against the oppression of Iranian women and promoting human rights and freedom.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh gets an exclusive at how this year's very courageous recipient is making her voice heard even while behind bars.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not even the darkest cells of the notorious Evin prison have silenced this fearless fighter for freedom.

Narges Mohammadi, her life has been a cycle of arrest and re-arrest. And now serving a ten-year prison term and sentenced to 154 lashes. Not only has the regime taken away her freedom, the last time she held her twins Ali and Kiana was eight years ago. They were only eight.

For her activism, Mohammadi has been accused of actions against national security and propaganda against the state, and she's now facing more charges as she continues to defiantly speak out from behind bars.

In an exclusive recording from inside Evin, Mohammadi reads excerpts of a letter she sent CNN.

NARGES MOHAMMADI, IRANIAN ACTIVIST (through translator): This letter is not written by a free feminist in a developed, democratic society, benefitting from civil protest methods and human rights, but rather by an imprisoned woman who like millions of Iranian women has been living under the authority and oppression of a military system with ideological, patriarchal and tyrannical foundations.

Since the age of six, deprived of life, youth, femininity and motherhood.

KARADSHEH: In her lengthy letter, Mohammadi rails against the regime's compulsory hijab. Mohammadi calls out what she says is the hypocrisy of the religious authorities -- female protesters and prisoners sexually assaulted.

As Iranians rose up on the streets last year, she lent her powerful voice to the uprising and for that, she was recently sentenced to another year in prison.

But that has not deterred Mohammadi who with the help of intermediaries responded to CNN questions in writing, detailing incidents of sexual assaults dating back to 1999. She also mentions her own experience.

But since the protests she says, they have increased significantly, describing them now as systematic.

She writes: In prison, I've heard the narratives of three protesting women who were sexually assaulted. One of them was a well-known activist of the student movement who upon entering the prison filed a complaint with the authorities and announced that after being arrested on the street, her one hand and one leg were cuffed and tied. And in that position she was sexually assaulted.

I went with one of my cell mates under the pretext of taking food for a prisoner. We saw bruises on her stomach, thighs, arms and legs.

The Iranian regime has denied allegations including a CNN investigation of using sexual violence and rape to suppress the protests, calling them baseless and false.

Mohammadi, an unstoppable force, her fight extending deep inside Evin where she leads women who continue to protest.

Their chants of "women, life, freedom" captured in this recording shared with CNN.

They sing the Farsi rendition of "Bella Ciao", the Italian anti- fascist resistance song now an anthem for Iran's freedom movement.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN.


BLITZER: Thank you, Jomana.

We salute this very courageous woman.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.