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U.S. to Test Weapons Meant to Down North Korean Missiles; Miscommunication on Location of U.S. 'Armada'; Trump Order Pushes Feds to 'Buy American, Hire American'. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 18, 2017 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[17:00:09] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, military options. The Pentagon weighs its options for possible moves against Kim Jong- un's regime as it prepares to test weapons meant to shoot down North Korean missiles. North Korea warns of all-out war if the U.S. takes military action.

Buying in? President Trump travels to Wisconsin to push his buy American, hire American policy, but will Americans buy into that if it means paying more, and will the Trump family conduct its own business that way?

Ivanka's trademark. President Trump's daughter and adviser lands new trademarks for her brand from the Chinese government as she dines with the president of China. Is there a conflict of interest?

And all about Trump. Voting is under way in a special congressional election in Georgia. Can a Democrat grab a win in a Republican district? We're watching for the results, and what they say about support for the president.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The United States is reviewing its options for possible military action against North Korea and defense officials say two tests are scheduled for weapons that may be needed to shoot down Kim Jong-un's missiles.

A ship-launched interceptor meant to take down North Korean officials that threaten Japan and a ground-based missile that defend against a future North Korean threat to the U.S. homeland.

But North Korea is talking tough, saying it will test missiles, and I'm quoting now, weekly, monthly and yearly and warning the U.S. of all-out war if it takes military action. Russia's also testing the Trump administration and U.S. defenses right now sending a pair of Cold War era strategic bombers toward Alaska. The U.S. military says U.S. fighter jets safely intercepted the Russian planes in international air space.

And homeland security chief John Kelly now issuing a blunt new warning, saying the risk of a terror attack on the United States right now is worse -- worse -- than on 9/11. Kelly says there have been dozens of ISIS-linked plots to attack the U.S. in the last few years. He says there's a growing risk of foreign fighters returning home to Europe and then trying to travel to this country.

I'll talk to Congresswoman Kathleen Rice. She's a member of the House Homeland Security Committee. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they are standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.

Our top story, as the U.S. weighs its options for possible military action, the Pentagon will test two air defense systems meant to shoot down North Korean missiles. Let's begin with our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Barbara, what's the latest you're learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, good evening.

Starting where we always do, the Pentagon, very much in favor of a peaceful diplomatic solution to this crisis. But nonetheless always ready, as you would expect the U.S. military to be.

So at the end of May, two long-planned tests to defend -- to test U.S. missile defenses. One test will be a ship at sea. You see some previous video there. An improved missile to try to shoot down incoming North Korean missiles. They will hope that this works and that they can shoot missiles down from a much further distance away.

The second test, this will test U.S. Ground-based defenses against intercontinental ballistic missiles. The big worry, North Korea may someday have one of those that can reach out and attack the United States. These U.S. defensive missiles against that threat have a very mixed track record, about a 50 percent success rate. They're continuing to try and improve and test that critical program -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara, it also looks like Russia is trying to test the U.S. right now during this very tense period, sending Cold War-era bombers towards Alaska. Tell us about that?

STARR: Not a good time to ratchet up tensions on any front, but the Russians indeed yesterday sent two of their bombers about 100 miles off the coast of Alaska, Kodiak Island. The U.S. maintains watch up there around the clock. They sent up a couple of U.S. Air Force aircraft to escort the Russian planes back out to sea, back towards Russia. The incident reportedly went off without a hitch. It is being classified as routine, because it has happened before, but it's something the U.S. is keeping a very close watch on -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly reminiscent of the bad old days of the Cold War. Thanks very much, Barbara Starr, over at the Pentagon.

As tensions grew with North Korea, the White House and the Pentagon suggested that a U.S. Navy strike force led by the carrier USS Carl Vinson was headed to the area to send a direct message to Kim Jong-un. Listen to President Trump only last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[17:05:06] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's go live to our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. He's traveling with the president in Wisconsin.

Jeff, it turns out this carrier group, what, was about 3,500 miles away, actually sailing in the opposite direction. Explain what happened.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, good evening.

This is a very strange situation here, that the president made that statement last week as a show of strength that the White House was, you know, stepping up its action and its eye on North Korea.

It turns out the Carl Vinson was heading the entire different direction, as you just said there. Now this is being described to us as a miscommunication between the Pentagon and the White House. A lot of folks are scratching their heads this evening why no one spoke up sooner about this. "The New York Times" reported this earlier today based on a photograph of the Carl Vinson that was in an entirely different location.

Of course, it takes so long to move these aircraft carriers. It was, you know, inexplicable that kit was there. So it was only then when questions started being asked about this, that the Pentagon said, "Look, there was a miscommunication down the line between the commanders when the White House started talking about this. Simply, no one corrected this mistake, Wolf.

But this is something that is still being looked into this evening, because it was such an unusual explanation from the president, saying this was a show of force. Turns out, a blunder. It was not heading that direction at all here. But the White House, at least, is saying this was a miscommunication. Pentagon people inside the Pentagon, at least they say, misled them on this point, Wolf.

BLITZER: But at this point that carrier and its battle ships, they are heading...

ZELENY: Right.

BLITZER: ... towards the Korean Peninsula. They'll get there, what, by the end of the month? Is that right?

ZELENY: We are told that. We are told that they are heading toward the Sea of Japan. They will probably get there at some point next week. They are not saying exactly when that will blew.

So the word now is they are heading in that direction, and presumably, that is the correct information here. You know, it's being explained as an innocent mistake here, but I'm not sure I've heard of anything like this before where the president being so clear about where an aircraft carrier was being sent. Turns out it was wrong -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny, reporting for us.

Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Kathleen Rice of New York. She's a member of the House Homeland Security Committee. Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.

REP. KATHLEEN RICE (D), NEW YORK: Thanks for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: So does this incident, which is being blamed on miscommunication, undermine the trust that the public needs to have in the military and in the commander in chief, the president of the United States, or is this simply a little blunder?

RICE: It certainly doesn't help, Wolf. You know, the one thing that the American people and, really, the international world at large need from the president of the United States is a level of credibility to ensure both our allies and our foes that when we speak, we mean it.

Now, I happened to be in Japan and South Korea last week with some of my Republican and Democratic colleagues when the word came that they were sending the Carl Vinson to the Sea of Japan. It happened while were there. And I can tell you that it rattled a lot of people there, because no

two countries are more vulnerable to a potential attack by North Korea than South Korea and Japan.

And what this incident highlights, at least to me, is how important it is for us to reassure our allies that we will be there for them when they need us and that our word is the bond. So I think that, you know, the administration, you can't just write this off as a mistake. They can't afford to make mistakes like this.

BLITZER: Well, did you and your Republican and Democratic colleagues when you were in Korea and Japan the other day, did you have any idea that this battle, this strike force, the Vinson strike force was actually moving closer towards Australia away from the region, even as we were all given the impression it was moving towards the Korean Peninsula? Did you have any clue at all that the statements were incorrect?

RICE: None at all. In fact, when we were there we met with Prime Minister Abe, and we met with the foreign minister who is now the head of South Korea, and a lot of other officials in the area, military people, as well, and these -- these statements have consequences. When you say something is happening, these words come from the president of the United States and -- and they are given in an atmosphere that is already fraught with a lot of tension, especially in the area we were last week. You can't make mistakes like that.

BLITZER: The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, your colleague Adam Schiff, he released a very strong statement on the situation in North Korea and among other things he says this. "Casual talk by the president or vice president or tweets about solving the North Korea problem with military force risk a confrontation that could quickly and unpredictably embroil the region in a shooting war." [17:10:07] Is the president pushing the United States, Congresswoman,

closer to war with his tweets and his other off-the-cuff remarks about North Korea? What do you believe?

RICE: I certainly hope not, but they -- but I agree with Adam Schiff. These kinds of tweets and comments and provocations don't help. What we need is a calm, steady hand and voice coming out of Washington. We have allies that are in very dangerous situations right now, and they need to be reassured that we're going to be there, that we are going to be able to respond if there is an unprovoked attack. To throw out these kind of tweets that throw around muscle in a kind of macho way that does nothing but really make the situation more precarious.

And I can tell you, we felt it. It was a palpable feeling in both Japan and South Korea. These are two very strong allies of ours, and we deserve to be there for them and ensure them that, you know, what we say is what we're going to do.

Now, one of the ways that I think the president can help, certainly, in this area, is I know he recently just announced his pick for ambassador to Japan, but we still don't have an ambassador in South Korea or India, for that matter, where I was back in February. And these messages, these are not the right messages that we want to send to our allies. We need to get these appointments done. We need to send serious diplomats, because whatever happens, there needs to be a diplomatic answer to this, as well as, you know, every other option that's on the table. But you need diplomats in these countries in order to have a diplomatic solution.

BLITZER: You heard the other developing story we're following. Russia asserting itself, clearly, on the global stage. The U.S. Air Force intercepting two Russian bombers off the coast of Alaska yesterday.

Do you believe that risky or provocative behavior by the Russians right now could potentially, even accidentally, lead to some kind of direct confrontation with the U.S. military?

RICE: Well, thankfully, this incident ended peacefully with our Air Force going out there and escorting them out of -- out of that area. But what this -- what this incident does, Wolf, is it reminds at least me, and I think a lot of people who are listening to the rhetoric during the campaign, of Donald Trump talking about how it wouldn't be such a bad thing to be friends with Russia and friends with Putin. He seemed to be the only one that understands [SIC] that Russia is not our friend. They are our foe. They are opposing us in a lot of theaters right now, all across the world.

And this latest provocation seems to be a poke in the eye of the president. But I hope that -- that this may serve as a wake-up call to him that his thought of, you know, being friends with and let's get together, it's a lot more -- the situation is a lot more complicated than I think the president is aware. It's kind of similar to when the president said, "Who thought that health care could be so complicated?" Well, guess what? Foreign policy can be just as complicated, as well. BLITZER: And the stakes are enormous, clearly, at the same time. I

want your reaction, Congresswoman, to something that our homeland security secretary, John Kelly, said earlier today about the threat of terrorism here in the United States. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The threat to our nation, our American way of life has not diminished. In fact, the threat has metastasized and decentralized, and the risk is threatening us today in a way that is worse than we experienced 16 years ago on 9/11.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Congresswoman, you sit on the Homeland Security Committee. Do you share his assessment?

RICE: Yes, but I've shared that assessment for some time. I don't think this is anything new, unless the secretary wants to share with us some -- some intel that we don't know about.

But this has been -- this has been something that we have been dealing with since 9/11, and the terrorist threats just continue to evolve. And we have to evolve, you know, ahead of them, hopefully.

Look, I have a lot of faith in Secretary Kelly. He has come and testified before the Homeland Security Committee. I think the department is in very able hands with Secretary Kelly there, but -- but I don't think that what he's saying is anything new. I think that these are always threats and dangers that we've faced. What we have to do is work hard to secure our borders to have -- you know, to make sure that we know everyone who's coming into this country. I think we've been taking steps towards that direction. Certainly, within the last Congress. And I look forward to working with Secretary Kelly to address all of our shared fears.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Kathleen Rice of New York, thanks very much for joining us.

RICE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, President Trump travels to the heartland to sign a "buy American, hire American" order, but could that backfire on

American consumers?

And we're waiting for polls to close in a special congressional election in Georgia. It may be a referendum on President Trump. Can a Democrat grab a win in a Republican district?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:19:09] BLITZER: President Trump went to the U.S. heartland today, appearing at a Wisconsin-based manufacturer to make his pitch to buy American and hire American, very strong words from the president which he then backed up with action. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In this election, the American people voted to end the theft of American prosperity. They voted to bring back their jobs and to bring back their dreams into our country. That's why I'm here today. In just a few moments I will be signing a buy American and hire American executive order. You haven't heard about that in a long time in this country. With this action, we are sending a powerful signal to the world we're going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Joining us now, Republican Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: It's good to be with you, Wolf. Thanks for having me on.

BLITZER: So could this executive order that the president just signed in Wisconsin actually backfire if it ends up making products more expensive for middle-class, working-class families in Wisconsin and, indeed, all over the country?

DUFFY: No, because this is an executive order that is targeted towards federal spending, so if we have federal projects where federal tax money is being used, the president is saying we should buy American.

Enough with the waivers that allow us to use those American dollars to buy products from somewhere else in the world.

So if you're an American consumer and you shop at Target or Wal-Mart, it's not mandating that you buy American or that Target and Wal-Mart only sell you American goods. This is about the American government buying American products.

BLITZER: So -- so you would oppose any tariffs on imported products coming in from Mexico or China or other countries which would, in fact, raise the cost of people who go to Wal-Mart and buy a lot of stuff there?

DUFFY: You go back to the 1930s and Smoot-Hawley. You can get into a trade war if everyone starts slapping tariffs on their goods, and that's bad for economies. It's bad for workers. And that's not what President Trump is talking about here. He's talking about federal money. And I think it's important to make that distinction.

BLITZER: But there are a lot of Republicans -- there are a lot of Republicans who are now saying you should go ahead and -- and have this kind of tariff on imported goods coming in, including some from your home state.

DUFFY: Well, I think the WTO would say tariffs are unlawful and would be a violation, but this was a border adjustment tax...

BLITZER: Isn't that the same thing?

DUFFY: ... that a lot of countries use in some -- well, there's some -- countries use this in different variations on how you tax imports and exports.

BLITZER: But that -- what about the speaker...

DUFFY: And I think that's done a little bit differently.

BLITZER: The speaker, Paul Ryan, is from Wisconsin. He supports that so-called border adjustment tax, which in effect, is almost the same thing as a tariff?

DUFFY: Well, there's other countries -- there was 170 countries use some kind of border adjustment.

BLITZER: But wouldn't that make products -- wouldn't that make products for working-class families more expensive?

DUFFY: No. No. So the theory behind this is that the American currency, the dollar, would increase in value. And so as you purchase any goods at, again, Wal-Mart or Target in my example, you wouldn't see any increase in cost, because the dollar is appreciated in value.

And that's why Speaker Ryan has talked about the border adjustment. It would be phased in over a several year period to allow for currency fluctuation, which would mean the American consumer wouldn't feel any price shock...

BLITZER: Yes.

DUFFY: ... from that border adjustment, but also...

BLITZER: But let me just interrupt for a second, Congressman. You know a lot of -- a lot of economists cite that as wishful thinking.

But let me get to the executive order that the president signed today.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Federal -- federal agencies should buy American. So let's say they buy U.S.-made steel and it's a lot more expensive than imported steel. That's simply going to raise the deficit. It's going to cost the U.S. government more for that kind of steel, right?

DUFFY: Well, listen, I want to make sure I have a vibrant U.S. steel industry, and I -- if I have other countries that are subsidizing their steel and dumping it into the American market, I'm OK supporting American workers and American industries.

And -- and to think that you'd have such wide fluctuations that it's going to have a huge impact on a $20 trillion debt, Wolf, I don't think is realistic. If there's some -- some price differentials, I'm going to side with Americans and American industry. BLITZER: But if -- what if the price -- what if the price

differentials are very significant? You still want to buy American?

DUFFY: Well, but Wolf, if that was the case, these businesses wouldn't be in business any longer. They would be out of business.

BLITZER: Well, a lot of them are out of business.

(CROSSTALK)

DUFFY: ... the economy.

BLITZER: A lot of American steel Americans are now out of business. I grew up in Buffalo, New York.

DUFFY: They are.

BLITZER: There used to be a big plant, Bethlehem Steel. It's totally out of business outside of Buffalo right now. They couldn't compete.

DUFFY: And -- that was my point, that those who can't compete are gone, but we still have American steam and so -- and they're competitive. So I think it's fair to those steel workers to say, "Hey, if you're going to spend American tax dollars, why don't you give us a leg up and buy U.S. steel instead of Chinese steel?"

I think that's -- listen, get outside of D.C. or New York; and you come to Wisconsin, or Ohio, or Pennsylvania, or Michigan. People love what Donald Trump is talking about. It's right in line with "Make America great again," the fact that he's focusing on American workers and their jobs and their paychecks. He love -- they love that they have a president who's focused on America.

I think a lot of people feel eight -- for eight years Barack Obama was a globalist president. He was a national -- or a world leader. They're sick of that. They want someone to fight for them and their families. And that's why -- and I think I broke news on your show, saying Donald Trump is going to win Wisconsin. He won Wisconsin because he's a fighter and a scrapper for the very American people who put boots on every day like right here at Snap-On and go to work, and they just want a fair shot at the American dream.

[17:25:05] BLITZER: I remember when you said that. This was even before he went and visited Wisconsin. You thought he had a really good shot of carrying your state. You were right. Turned out to be very, very accurate.

Hey, Congressman, thanks as usual for joining us.

DUFFY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: There's breaking news we're following. Polls are closing soon in a high-stakes special election. Will anti-Trump sentiment help Democrats upend the political landscape?

Plus, Ivanka Trump scores a business victory in China as she meets with the country's president. Is there a conflict of interest?

BLITZER: We're about 990 minutes away from polls closing in a very closely-watched special election in Georgia. Democrats there and nationwide, they're hoping anti-Trump sentiment will help them win a House seat that's being held -- that's been held by Republicans for decades.

[17:30:14] Our senior congressional reporter, Manu Raju, is in Atlanta with the very latest for us. Manu, you're at the headquarters of the Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff. Give us the latest.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight Democrats and Republicans are trying to manage expectations ahead of tonight's election. Republicans saying that if it emerges that there's a runoff and that Jon Ossoff does not get the 51 percent to get -- to win this seat, that that's a victory for their party. While Democrats are saying that, even if he ends up first, Mr. Ossoff ends up first, and there is no runoff, that is a victory for their party.

But we know this, Wolf. It's going to be close tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAJU (voice-over): Democrats are trying to send a message to President Trump by turning a House seat Republicans in Georgia have held for nearly 40 years blue.

JOE OSSOFF (D), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: This is an opportunity for our community to -- to show our true colors.

RAJU: A victory by 30-year-old Democrat Jon Ossoff in the 6th District, a seat once held by Newt Gingrich and most recently by new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

It would amount to a major repudiation of Trump and an early sign that Democrats could pick up the 24 seats they need to take back control of the House in next year's mid-terms.

One of the challenges Republicans face: frustration that the party has not done more, controlling all levers of government.

KAREN HANDEL (R), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: There's a little bit of anxiety about congressional inaction, if you will, and, you know, there's a real desire for people to see the Republicans in Congress move from vocal opposition to actually governing.

RAJU: Despite the outpouring of national Democratic support and the backing of Hollywood celebrities, Ossoff is trying to keep the race focused on local issues.

OSSOFF: This race is about local economic issues here and values that unite people in the community in Georgia before it's about the national political circus.

RAJU: But the former congressional staffer has had to defend himself over the fact that he lives just outside the district and could not vote for himself today.

OSSOFF: Well, I grew up in this district. I grew up in this community.

RAJU: With bitter GOP infighting dominating a crowded field of 18 total candidates, 11 of them Republicans, Ossoff has consolidated Democratic support and is aiming for more than 50 percent of the vote tonight. But if he falls short, it will prompt a two-person runoff in June, a dynamic that could favor Republicans in the conservative- leaning district.

The president won the district last year by just one point after Mitt Romney carried it by 23 points in 2012.

Recognizing the high stakes, Trump tweeted, "Republicans must vote today in Georgia 6. Force runoff and easy win." And recording this message to GOP voters in the suburban Atlanta district

TRUMP: Only you can stop the super liberal Democrats and Nancy Pelosi.

RAJU: But the race has exposed deep GOP divisions, including attacks like this one on Republican candidate Karen Handel from a conservative group that backs one of her opponents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop Karen Handel, a big-spending career politician we can't trust with our money.

RAJU: Handel tells CNN that those attacks have fallen flat and predicts the party will come together and keep the seat red.

HANDEL: We will unite for this reason. Keeping this seat in the hands of a Republican is far bigger than any one individual.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJU: Now, Wolf, if Ossoff does win tonight, Republicans tell me that they believe he'll be one of the most vulnerable Democrats heading into 2018, given that there's only one other Democrat in Congress who represents a seat more Republican than this one. But expect, if this does go to a runoff, lots of outside money to pour in. Neither side is going to concede this race. June 20 is that runoff date, and it's going to be heavily contested. And who knows? It's not going to be a slam dunk for Republicans. They're conceding that right now.

BLITZER: Yes. Lots of money. I think he's already raised about $8 million, Ossoff, which is a ton of money for a district like that. Manu Raju, thanks very much.

Let's dig deeper with our experts and analysts. And David Chalian, if the Democrats, Ossoff were to win tonight, how big of a deal would that be as far as Trump is concerned?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think a pretty big -- no doubt a big deal to Trump. It would be a blow to him. He's been getting himself more and more involved with each passing hour on Twitter. You saw the robo-call that the RNC put out in Manu's piece.

But I think an even bigger blow to the Republican Party, I think it would be a seismic shock inside the party if Ossoff was to somehow pull the upset and pull out this victory. You would see very public hand-wringing, very public worrying among Republicans that perhaps the political electoral landscape is shifting beneath their feet, that Trump overhang is a thing that they need to worry about for November 2018.

That is what Republican Party leaders are most concerned about, is making sure that they don't have a bunch of nervous party members who just start looking for the exits away from the president, because that could stifle his agenda.

BLITZER: Yes, Jackie, can the Democrats, though, count on their clear anti-Trump enthusiasm right now to carry them through 2018?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think they can count on that quite yet. If they win this race, that is going to give them some momentum, and you are seeing they're pushing this tax return issue again. I mean, it is tax day.

But it's something that really unites the base. It gets them excited. But that's -- it's a far -- it's a long time until November 2018. And so they're going to have to, you know, find other issues. Keep this up, and that's why you see these protests popping up from here and there, just to remind their base to stay engaged and to stay -- and to really keep an eye on this and stay active.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Ron, and I know you study these numbers closely. Four years ago, Mitt Romney carried that district by 23 points back in 2012. Trump won the district this time by just a little bit more than one point. Why that huge swing?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, this -- well, this is a very Republican district, but it's a Republican district of a certain type. Not only did Romney win 60 percent of the vote here, but so did John McCain in 2008.

Tom Price, who left the seat to become the HHS secretary, he's never won less than 62 percent of vote in this district, so it's a pretty unlikely battleground in that respect.

What makes it a battleground is it is a Republican district of a certain type. It is heavily white collar. Almost two-thirds of the whites in the district hold a college degree; and Donald Trump struggles much more than Republicans do -- usually do -- with college- educated white voters. His approval rating among them nationally is usually under 40 percent.

So while the history of special elections is that they are not historically a reliable predictor of what happens two years out in the election -- sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't -- people are watching this one, because if there is a road back for the Democrats in 2018 to a majority, it is largely through seats like this, which have more white-collar whites than the national average and where Trump significantly declined, relative to Romney in 2012.

We found 48 districts, including this one, that fit those two criteria. About half of them are seriously competitive. And I think those are the first on the top of the list for Democrats looking to recapture the Congress.

BLITZER: And it's interesting, David Chalian. Trump, as you point out, he's been tweeting a lot about this one special congressional race, and if Ossoff were to win tonight, that would be a huge embarrassment to him.

CHALIAN: Yes. I mean, he got involved late. Right? I mean, he tweeted on the day of the election. He put a robo-call out. It's not like he's been dominating the airwaves in some way since January when this election got started. It would an embarrassment.

Of course, also, he's placing the bet Ossoff doesn't get 50 percent plus one, doesn't get into the runoff, and he can claim, "Hey, I kept John Ossoff from taking that seat." And that, you know, he'll claim that as a part of what he was doing for the Republican Party.

BLITZER: And if -- if he doesn't get 50 percent plus one, it goes to another runoff between the top two candidates, and that could be a lot closer.

KUCINICH: That will be a lot tougher, particularly if it's Karen Handel, who has run statewide twice, I believe. And so that's going to be a much tougher race.

But here's the thing about Trump bragging about winning this race. This is one you're supposed to win.

CHALIAN: Yes.

KUCINICH: So it's not...

CHALIAN: That doesn't stop him.

KUCINICH: I know. But it's a -- it's a smaller trophy than normal.

BLITZER: He bragged about the win in Kansas last week, too, on the special election.

KUCINICH: That's true.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by. Coming up, Ivanka Trump's business victory in China. Did her meeting with the Chinese president play a role?

Plus, the dramatic end to the nationwide manhunt for the suspected Facebook killer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:43:06] BLITZER: Business is booming in China for first daughter Ivanka Trump. Her company got at least two more trademarks approved by the Beijing government on the very same day she met with the Chinese president at her father's resort.

CNN's Tom Foreman is working the story for us. Tom, this is raising some new questions about the Trump family and potential conflicts of interest.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely is. Ivanka Trump's brand has been under some fire here in the U.S. but not in Beijing, where business appears to be going very well for the first daughter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice-over): When President Trump's granddaughter sang in Mandarin during the China-U.S. summit meeting, the video was a hit back in the People's Republic, but the real story is how her mother's business is booming there, too.

IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: White diamonds flanking the stone on either side, and it's set in 18-karat yellow gold.

FOREMAN: This year alone, first daughter Ivanka Trump's company has seen at least two new trademarks approved by the Chinese, another one provisionally, adding to 16 she already holds, as the Associated Press first reported. True she was hiring had Chinese labor and expanding before the election.

ZHANG HUARONG, CHAIRMAN, HUAJIAN GROUP (through translator): Ivanka is a very good client, but, of course, I never imagined her father would become president.

FOREMAN: Still, since the start of the year, her father's companies had seen 35 other trademarks preliminarily approved by China, too. Ivanka says...

I. TRUMP: Any growth is done with extreme caution.

FOREMAN: Her company will neither confirm nor deny those numbers to CNN, instead issuing a statement saying, "We have recently seen a surge in trademark filing by unrelated third parties, trying to capitalize on the Trump name; and it is our responsibility to diligently protect our trademark."

I. TRUMP: Happy shopping.

FOREMAN: Nonetheless, that's big business, especially considering how much the Trump family has repeatedly brushed away concerns about politics affecting their financial interests.

I. TRUMP: I don't think it matters. This is so much more important and more serious. You know, that's the focus.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think what Ivanka's trying to say is, who cares? Who cares? This is big league stuff. This is our country.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOREMAN: Officially, Ivanka put all her businesses into a trust to avoid conflicts of interest when she took an unpaid job in her father's White House. But she will need to tread carefully anyway. Unlike the President who has extra legal protections, White House staffers can be prosecuted if their public influence is in any way used to pad their private bank account. Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Tom, thank you. Tom Foreman, reporting.

Up next, the Facebook murder suspect takes his own life as police close in. We have new details on the final moments of a nationwide manhunt.

Plus, the Pentagon is planning to test air defense systems meant to shoot down North Korean missiles. How will Kim Jong-un's regime now react?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:35] BLITZER: New tonight, dramatic end to the manhunt for the suspect in a Cleveland killing that was recorded and posted on Facebook. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, police caught up with the suspect, Steve Stephens, right near Erie, Pennsylvania.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did, Wolf. After some tense moments at a McDonald's, a short car chase, and a spinout, Steve Stephens was confronted by police. At that moment, the suspect shot and killed himself.

Tonight, though, some key questions remain in this case about possible accomplices and if there are any other victims.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): After a manhunt of less than 48 hours, the final break in the case came with a tip from a local citizen near Erie, Pennsylvania. Then traffic on a police scanner.

The vehicle used by Facebook murder suspect Steve Stephens, according to police, had been spotted in the parking lot of a McDonald's. The owner of the McDonald's says Stephens stopped at the drive through, ordered 20 Chicken McNuggets and a basket of fries. Employees say they called police and tried to stall the suspect.

THOMAS DUCHARME, JR., OWNER AND OPERATOR, MCDONALD'S: Basically just told him it was going to be a minute for his fries, which it wasn't really. We were just trying to make sure she got in contact with the state police. And he didn't want wait for the fries.

TODD (voice-over): Officers responded as the white Ford Fusion took off. There was a so-called pit maneuver like this one.

CALVIN WILLIAMS, CHIEF OF POLICE, CLEVELAND DIVISION OF POLICE: There was a short pursuit in which the vehicle was stopped. As the officers approached that vehicle, Steve Stephens took his own life.

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, police are trying to piece together where Stephens was, what he was doing, and who might have helped him between Sunday afternoon and this morning.

MAJ. WILLIAM TEPER, JR., BUREAU OF FORENSIC SERVICES DIRECTOR, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: We don't believe he had any accomplices. Our concern is, he was somewhere the last several days. Whether somebody was harboring him, whether he was under a bridge somewhere, I don't know.

TODD (voice-over): Pennsylvania State Police tells CNN, Stephens frequented a casino in Erie, Presque Isle Downs & Casino. They say they didn't know where Stephens was over the past few days. And Cleveland Police said earlier today, they didn't have a lead on his location.

But Pennsylvania State Police say there was a hit to a cell phone tower in Erie at 4:30 Sunday afternoon, a little more than two hours after Stephens allegedly shot and killed 74-year-old Robert Godwin on a Cleveland street.

Could it be that there was always kind of a lead in Erie that they were not telling us about?

ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES MARSHALS SERVICE: It could be. I mean, one of the techniques that we use in locating and apprehending fugitives is to not let the fugitive know exactly where we're looking.

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, new indications that Steve Stephens' life was in a downward spiral. CNN has obtained court documents showing Stephens had financial troubles dating back at least to 2014. Judgments, liens, wage garnishments.

His mother said he'd stopped by her house the day before the killing and said it was the last time she'd see him and that he was angry with his girlfriend. With Stephens' suicide, a key question remains unanswered tonight.

RODERICK: Are there other victims out there? I think that's the key part. You know, he references a dozen or so homicides that he did previous to killing Mr. Godwin but then also mentions that he is going out and kill some more people.

TODD (voice-over): Police have not yet found any other victims.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: In addition to the unanswered questions left by Steve Stephens' death, at least one person connected to the case is not satisfied with how it ended. One of victim Robert Godwin's daughter said she wished Stephens had gone down in a hail of a hundred bullets. Although other members of the Godwin family said they forgave the killer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, there's also some new information coming in tonight from Stephens' former girlfriend, right?

TODD: That's right, Wolf. Her name is Joy Lane, and she spoke to CNN affiliate, WJW. She said the last time she spoke to Stephens was on Saturday night. That was the night before the killing. She says Stephens told her he had quit his job and was moving out of state.

Joy Lane says after the murder of Robert Godwin and the posting of that incident on Facebook, she called Stephens on his phone but he never answered his phone.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you.

[17:54:27] Coming up, when President Trump suggested that a U.S. Navy armada, his word, armada, was headed towards the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. ships where really thousands of miles away heading in the opposite direction. The Pentagon also got it wrong. Was there a deliberate deception?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, high stakes tests. As North Korea threatens to launch missiles every week, the Pentagon is honing its ability to shoot them down. Tonight, new details about U.S. military moves in a matter of weeks as the Trump administration plans its strategy against Kim Jong-un.

Dossier used. CNN has learned that the FBI relied in part on a controversial file of allegations to seek a secret wiretap warrant in its investigation into the Trump's camp Russia ties. Stand by for an exclusive report.

Russia confronted. American fighter jets scramble after Moscow sends nuclear capable warplanes dangerously close to the United States. Was it a test of President Trump as relations between the Kremlin and the White House nosedive?

[17:59:59] And praising a power grab. New questions tonight about President Trump's call to congratulate the Turkish President on a controversial election win. Other western leaders are keeping their distance, fearing a key U.S. ally maybe heading toward dictatorship.