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One Dead, Two Missing After Blast At Illinois Silicone Plant; Charter Jet Carrying Military Personnel Skids Off Florida Runway; Gaza-Israel Hostilities Escalate With Rocket Attacks, Airstrikes; Democrats See Wide Open Field In Iowa; Kentucky Derby Shocker; Call With Trump And Putin; Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D) California is Interviewed About Election Interference; Trump Proposes Major Changes To Asylum System; One Dead, Two Missing After Blast At Illinois Silicone Plant. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 4, 2019 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You are live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

North Korea test fires multiple projectiles and rocket launchers almost daring President Trump to react. In response, Trump offers a reassuring tweet today, saying North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me and adds, the deal will happen.

This even though Russia's Vladimir Putin is making his own deals with the reclusive Kim. The two met last week in Russia. So, is this a power grab as talks falter with the U.S.?

CNN's Boris Sanchez is with us now. Boris, Kim Jong-Un is, sort of, flirting with ending his moratorium on nuclear tests. But Trump, who was calling him little rocket man not that long ago, is being so restrained. Why do you think that's the case?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, I think part of it has to do with Trump trying to maintain a personal relationship with Kim Jong-Un. Throughout their entire relationship, the president has believed that he can charm Kim Jong-Un with a promise of economic prosperity, as you saw in that tweet from President Trump, and try to dissuade Kim Jong-Un from pursuing this generations-long quest to arm North Korea with nuclear weapons.

President Trump has also long touted the lack of missile tests as progress in their ongoing denuclearization negotiations, so this would kind of be an admission things are not headed in the direction that the president would like. The reality is quite a lot more grim. And if you look at that tweet, specifically the portion where the president says that Kim Jong-Un knows that I am with him. If you are Japan or South Korea or allies in that region, it's really hard to imagine how they feel about those tweets. Also, we should consider the feelings of the family of Otto Warmbier. He's, of course, that American that was held captive in North Korea for a long time. And then, ultimately, passed away shortly after returning to the United States. They've been critical of what the president has said about his relationship with Kim Jong-Un in the past. So far, the White House has referred us back to the president's tweets with Press Secretary Sarah Sanders simply saying that the administration is monitoring the situation -- Ana.

CABRERA: And what to make of Vladimir Putin? The president continues to show trust in him, even though we know he's getting involved in Venezuela when he said he wouldn't. We know he's still bent on influencing U.S. elections. And President Trump just keeps, sort of, looking the other way. He didn't even mention the 2020 election when he talked to Putin.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's right. President Trump and Vladimir Putin sharing a phone call yesterday that lasted just over an hour. The president saying that they -- the two men discussed five or six things. One of them was not election meddling. The president not bringing it up, telling reporters yesterday that he didn't discuss it with him.

Look, the president has had a hard time expressing his feelings about election meddling in public. Remember, there have been several times where the White House has had to clarify his remarks. You can go back to that press conference, when he was side by side with Vladimir Putin in Poland. And the president said he didn't see a reason why it would be Russia that meddled in the 2016 election. Shortly after that, they had to clean it up and say the president meant to say that he didn't see a reason why it wouldn't be Russia.

So, here, again, you have the president of the United States, on the case of Venezuela, for example, taking the word of the Russian leader, repeating what Vladimir Putin is saying, even as officials in his own administration are contradicting him.

Sarah Sanders, yesterday, also cleaned it up for reporters, saying that President Trump took election meddling very seriously. And that it is a whole of government effort to prevent what happened in 2016 from happening in 2020 -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Boris Sanchez at the White House. Thank you.

He really is the one common thread through the headlines coming out of North Korea, Venezuela and Washington. I'm talking about Russian President Vladimir Putin. During President Trump's phone call with Putin on Friday, the White House says Putin actually chuckled while talking about the end of the Russia investigation.

Let's get right to Bob Baer. He is CNN's Intelligence and Security Analyst. Bob, I'm so happy to have you here to have us, sort of, go through these different threads. On that call, President Trump was more than happy to discuss the Russia investigation. But he refused to bring up one of the concrete conclusions from Robert Mueller, and that is the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.

Bob, no warning from President Trump to stay out of the 2020 race, even though his intel chiefs are saying Russia is still meddling in our elections. What do you make of that of that omission?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the problem, Ana, is the 2020 elections. Because right now, Vladimir Putin has a green light. I mean, he is -- he is getting into our elections. He's using Facebook. They're using bots and the rest of it to come after us and divide us politically.

[20:05:00] And it's an open season and you've got the president -- and, by the way, a surprise call like this just doesn't happen. You just don't get on the phone and, you know, we got nothing to do and call up another leader, especially an adversary.

So, what Trump has done is simply encourage the Russians to set up a program and come in in 2020 and meddle in our elections. I can't imagine they won't do it with an open invitation like this.

CABRERA: Let's talk about Venezuela, because that, obviously, has some mediacy right now. Putin telling Trump that he has no desire to get mixed up in the upheaval there. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela, other than he'd like to see something positive happen for Venezuela.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: But here's what secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, had to say on the subject. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And the Russians talked him out of it. Are the Russians responsible now for what's going on?

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We've made clear all along, Wolf, that Maduro surrounded by Cubans and has been supported by Russians there in Venezuela. And we've told the Russians and we've told the Cubans, that's unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Bob, over and over again, why is President Trump so willing to take the word of the Russian president over his own administration and experts?

BAER: Well, that's the big question. Why does he have affection for Vladimir Putin? Because it's -- first of all, factually, it's incorrect. The Russians have been pouring billions of dollars into Venezuela, encouraging Maduro to attack us politically. And they're partially responsible for the chaos there and keeping him in power, along with the military and weapons and the rest of it.

So, for the president to say this, he's either not reading or he's simply -- he's making things up, which I think he is. I mean, this -- his liking of dictators is unexplainable, in any terms. I mean, you just -- this never happened to the United States before.

CABRERA: I mean, in the same vein, you have Kim Jong-Un, President Trump saying he would never do anything to jeopardize, you know, what they have going, essentially taking his word, giving him the benefit of the doubt, I guess you could say. He said they love each other. But then, North Korea fires possible missiles, two summits, and now these new test launches. Do you think Kim got any advice, perhaps, from Putin when they met last week on how to handle Trump?

BAER: Oh, they've got to be laughing about him. It's just, you know, Trump has gone through these summits with Kim Jong-Un. Nothing has occurred. They haven't given a list of weapons they have, strategic missiles and nuclear weapons. They've given us nothing. They simply moved a couple of sites.

And now, they're testing more advanced missiles. They're, basically, just -- they're ignoring him. And I'm sure they're actually scratching their heads as what is driving this guy? But the point is, they're taking advantage of us, and I've never seen this country this weak in decades.

CABRERA: Wow. Bob Baer, thank you for your time tonight. It is a stunning omission, really. An hour plus on the phone with Putin and no warning against election meddling.

Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is sitting on the House Judiciary Committee, is also a member of the Congressional Task Force on Election Security. Joins us now. Congresswoman, thanks for being here. What do you say to the president's failure to even mention this issue with Putin?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D), CALIFORNIA: It's just stunning. It's unbelievable. We know that the Russians interfered in our election in 2018. They hacked into databases. They may have tried to actually enter the voting systems, themselves. We know from our intelligence folks that they're trying it again. What five or six things would be more important than protecting the American democracy to our president? I just -- I'm stunned by this, really. Unbelievable.

CABRERA: Clearly, the Mueller report emphasized the urgency of fixing election security gaps before 2020. We know that FBI Director Christopher Wray is raising alarms. What should Congress be doing if you're still with us? Oh, unfortunately, we did lose her, it sounds like. We'll come back with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren as soon as we get her back.

Meantime, as the fight between Democrats and the attorney general ratchets up, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee is giving William Barr until Monday morning to comply with their demands. But do House Democrats have legal standing to hold him in contempt? We'll discuss that. Plus, after being tied to policies that result in migrant children being separated from their families, is President Trump's former chief of staff, John Kelly, now in a position to profit from those very policies? We'll have the details and the questions being raised next.

In the meantime, I want to bring back our Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren to continue our conversation. I'm glad we got the technical difficulties worked out. And I want to ask you about the Mueller report and this idea of, --

LOFGREN: Yes.

[20:10:00] CABRERA: -- you know, are we ready for 2020? Will Russia have the same ability to interfere in the election that they had in 2016, or has our country learned from it? Are the right policies being implemented? What is Congress' role? What should Congress or is Congress doing now?

LOFGREN: As part of HR-1, the first bill for the Democratic House, we passed out of the House, and the Senate hasn't done anything with it, a section about election security. So, because Mitch McConnell will not move that bill, next week, we're having a hearing and attempting to move just that title, election security, through the House and over to the Senate. There are a whole wide variety of cybersecurity provisions, including --

CABRERA: Can you tick through just a few of those for us?

LOFGREN: I'm sorry?

CABRERA: Does -- I think, actually, you were going there. I might have stepped on you as you were going to go through it. But what are those specific provisions that you guys are proposing?

LOFGREN: Well, there are specific provisions about making sure that we can't hack in a way that -- and change the votes. Which means you have to have a paper ballot, robust audits so that you can't change the outcome of an election. Certain cybersecurity provisions to make sure that we are protected as well as some other matters.

So, all of that should be adopted. It should not be a partisan issue. I mean we have disagreements between the parties. No one should be disagreeing that we don't want foreign actors to come in and mess with our election or that we don't want every American citizen to have their vote counted as it was cast. Everyone should agree on that.

CABRERA: House Democrats have been digging in their heels on getting Attorney General William Barr to testify their way or your way, threatening to hold him in contempt if he doesn't deliver the unredacted Mueller report. Now, there have been calls for Barr's impeachment, ethics probes. Do you worry you guys are overplaying your hand on this?

LOFGREN: Well, here's the deal. He withheld, I think improperly, and I think the special counsel may agree, provisions of that Mueller report. We're entitled to that report, and we need the underlying evidence as well. We subpoenaed that evidence, and he blew it off.

So, now we have given him another chance. The chairman of the committee just sent a letter, offering to do some accommodations. If they don't want to show the Grand Jury material, perhaps we can work through that. Perhaps the House members can go to the Justice Department rather than have the material sent to the House of Representatives. We want to have an accommodation instead of a confrontation.

But when all is said and done, the Congress of the United States has the right to see this material. And we have to see it and they have to provide it to us. There's no really -- there's no legal question. I mean, 10s of thousands of pages of material was sent for much less important inquiries, when the Republicans were in the majority. There was a lead case when the attorney general under Obama refused to give material that he should have given. And the Congress prevailed legally. He has to give this to us.

CABRERA: OK, there's a new interview out today in "The New York Times" with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And she thinks that the Democratic Party can only win at the ballot box. That impeachment of the president would just be a protracted battle that would turn a lot of voters off. What do you think?

LOFGREN: I think I'm the only member of the House that's worked on both the Clinton and the Nixon impeachment. And I'm thinking back to the Nixon impeachment. That is the guide and, in the end, you should only do impeachment if you have an obligation to do it. If there's really no other choice to protect the fundamentals of democracy. I don't think we're at that point, yet. As much as I think the president has engaged in massive misconduct.

But that's why we need to have this oversight. We can't just outsource the decision-making to the special counsel. We need to look at the evidence, examine it for ourselves, have the public take a look at it. And then, see if we're obliged to do anything else.

It's not something -- you know, you're undoing an election when you do an impeachment. That should only happen under the gravest circumstances, and I don't think we're at that point, yet. Much as I think we have a serious problem.

CABRERA: The speaker also said, referring to how Democrats won in 2018, our passions were for health care, bigger paychecks, cleaner government, a simple message. We did not engage in some of the other exuberances that exist in our party.

[20:15:00] Is that a general swipe at things like Medicare for all or the green new deal?

LOFGREN: You know, I don't think so. You know, we -- on the day we left, I think it was Thursday, we had a big, strong vote to go back into the Paris Accords. You know, we even got a couple of Republicans to vote with us on that. The environment matters. Climate change matters. And while we're, you know, fighting with the attorney general on this, he just filed papers at the Court of Appeals to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. Eliminate health care for millions of Americans who got it for the first time because of the Affordable Care Act.

So, we are fighting on those issues. But we can't neglect our obligation to oversee the Department of Justice, the president to make sure that the president is doing what he promised to do when he took the oath of office to make sure that the laws are faithfully executed.

CABRERA: Right. And I don't want to interrupt you but I do want to make sure I get the answer to the question that I asked, which has to do with what Democrats' --

LOFGREN: Oh, I thought I had.

CABRERA: -- platform is. In the sense that, you know, there's a conversation about how far left is too far, especially when it comes to, perhaps, defeating the president in 2020. And the -- you know, the speaker in this new interview is saying, Democrats got to hold on to the middle. Don't go too far left. That was my takeaway.

LOFGREN: Well, I haven't seen the interview. But what we have emphasized in 2018, and I think we will in 2020 as well, is things that matter to the American people. The cost of health care, a clean environment, education for their children. I, increasingly, hear about the need to provide adequate access to housing that people can afford. That's the things that people are up at night worrying about. And we need to address that. I very much agree with that.

CABRERA: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, I really appreciate you staying with us. Thank you.

LOFGREN: Thank you.

CABRERA: We'll be right back.

[20:18:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: The ultimatum for the attorney general a day after William Barr skipped Thursday's House Judiciary Committee hearing, you see his chair, he received a letter from Chairman Jerry Nadler setting a clock on contempt.

Nadler says Barr has until 9:00 a.m. Monday to deliver an unredacted Mueller report to Congress or else the committee will move ahead with contempt of Congress proceedings. And Elliot Williams is a former federal prosecutor, a former deputy assistant attorney general for legislative affairs and joins us now. So, what would this contempt of Congress even look like? How does this work?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. So, Congress votes on upholding the -- a party in contempt. My former boss, Eric Holder, was held in contempt of Congress. Now, how it's enforced. It could be a number of ways. The sergeant-at-arms can arrest the attorney general. That's not -- sergeant of arms of Congress. That's not happening.

They can get a judge to make an order, enforcing the contempt order. That's more likely. But still just -- it's a pain to do. And you'd have to go and, essentially, sue to enforce the contempt order. Or you can actually ask the Justice Department to enforce it against the attorney general. So, it's like the attorney general arresting the attorney general. It's like --

CABRERA: So, should Barr even be worried about this then?

WILLIAMS: Barr should not be worried about this. Because, at the end of the day, it is a -- you know, it's a remedy in fact but not in practice. It's just not going to happen. It's more -- but, again, you know, --

CABRERA: It's posturing.

WILLIAMS: It's posturing. We're getting into the minutia of the various tactics. And the bigger question is, why is the president and the administration, more broadly speaking, just resisting all Congressional oversight? And the president said, you know, we're going to block all subpoenas and not send people to testify and so on. And it's just a bigger rethinking now of the relationship between the branches of government and separation of power.

CABRERA: So, how does Congress hold them accountable?

WILLIAMS: I think we're -- it's sad to say. I think we're in -- we're entering, at least for these next couple of years, an era of government in which the executive just doesn't treat Congress as a coequal or coordinate branch of government. And I think that's it. I mean, they -- under normal circumstances, you would negotiate the terms of these hearings and bring people up to testify. And even if not testify, come in for an interview or write a letter. There's -- there is a whole world of tactics at their disposal. But I just don't know if we're in a regular world right now. And I think some that's broken, at least until the end of this administration.

CABRERA: The attorney general, obviously, is supposed to be the attorney general for the American people of the office, not for the president, himself, personally. Although, Democrats are arguing that is how William Barr is acting. Is there anything the American people could do to hold him -- could the American people sue for legal malpractice or something like that?

WILLIAMS: No, I -- there are folks who are talking about Bar -- bar one r, bar disciplinary action --

CABRERA: Yes.

WILLIAMS: -- against him for what they're saying are the lies that he told.

CABRERA: Right. There's ethics and investigations that they're asking for in D.C. and Virginia. WILLIAMS: Things like that. But I think the issue isn't Barr's

behavior as much as the president seeming to want attorney general who are going to do his bidding as his personal lawyers. It's what he wanted from Jeff Sessions which is why Jeff Sessions isn't the attorney general anymore. It's what he wanted from Matthew Whitaker and I think it's just Barr is giving him what he -- what he wanted. Which is a shame because many of us had high hopes for William Barr and I think he's, day after day, sort of ruining that.

CABRERA: You're a former assistant director for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

CABRERA: The administration is looking to change some rules for people who are seeking asylum. The president says it's just too easy right now to get in the system. So, take a look at some of the proposed changes. The biggest one, really, may be the charging of fees for asylum, applications and work permit applications. What do you think of that specific proposal? And do you think it holds up in court?

WILLIAMS: What do I think about that? No, is what I think about that specific proposal. It's hard to see whether it holds up in court. It will be a lot of litigation. I think the fees thing, it's inhumane and horrid. But a lot of this administration's approach to immigration has been inhumane and horrid.

Think about -- it's -- what do we think asylum is? It's people come in, fleeing persecution, fleeing harm, coming to the United States for safety. Imagine if we required domestic violence victims or child abuse victims in the United States to pay fees before being allowed to seek refuge from the police? It's just that is just inhumane and silly.

And there's different ways to raise funds in the government, if that's what they're trying to do. But it's an entire approach to immigration focused on vilifying immigrants and driving up fear of immigration, generally. And this is just the latest step in it.

[20:25:00] CABRERA: Could it work, though, to stop the bleeding to prevent as many people from coming across the border now, short term? If you just look at the cause-effect, sort of, you know, plan here?

WILLIAMS: But I don't think it's a cause and effect plan. The cause and effect are the economic drivers in foreign countries that are making people flee. You know, they're causing the persecution that's making people want to seek -- to seek asylum in the United States. We had a broader, vast, comprehensive immigration reform in the country and also much broader conversations about humanitarian relationships with Central America and South America and Mexico.

But these inhumane sort of band-aids that the president is ripping off, not even putting on, I don't think that's really fixing the problem or stopping the bleeding at all. I think, if anything, it makes it worse. Because I think it -- I think you harm people far more than you limit the number of individuals that come to the United States.

And it's also more to the point. It's just not who we are. And it's not what asylum is. We're not talking about visas and immigration and people coming to be tech workers and so on. It's, literally, our law allows people to come to the United States to seek refuge when they have been harmed or when they are seeking abuse or gang violence or whatever. And the notion of now making that harder, it's just not who we are as Americans.

CABRERA: John Kelly, former White House chief of staff, also former DHS Secretary, has a new gig.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

CABRERA: And we're told that he is now going to be on the board of this company that runs detention centers that house unaccompanied migrant children. What do you think of his new job title?

WILLIAMS: So, it's interesting, you know, after having gone all in on the administration for the last four minutes, I'm going to soften that a little bit here. And I'm not quick to vilify what folks do after government service. No entity is entirely pure and I'm not going to judge, well, he went to an immigration company that did bad things. I think far more than focusing on what he's doing today, I think we need to focus on the horrid things he oversaw as White House chief of staff and Homeland Security Secretary.

CABRERA: But I think what -- the reason I ask the question is, is there a conflict of interest? That he could, potentially, profit from some of maybe the policies or the effects of policies that he was a part of?

WILLIAMS: I think that more -- the conflict of interest would be if it were the other way. I think if it were a person formerly in government coming into government and then influencing decisions that are made. You know, I think it's a little -- I mean, people leave government all the time and go in -- I don't think -- and that's, to some extent, what people pay for in the private sector. You're paying for experience.

So, there's many problems related to John Kelly and the president and immigration. I don't think this is the big one. I think the fact that he oversaw putting kids in cages, and we haven't really demonstrated that we have a way out of that mess. I think that's the thing we need to be thinking about, with respect to him right now.

CABRERA: All right. Elliot Williams, good to have you with us.

WILLIAMS: Thanks. Great to -- good to be here.

CABRERA: Thank you so much.

What caused a Boeing 737 to overshoot a runway in Florida and land in a river? The NTSB is at the scene. We'll have details next.

Plus, a massive explosion at an Illinois chemical plant leaves one dead and two missing. The latest on the search efforts just ahead.

[20:28:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:30:35] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: We have the latest for you now on that deadly plant explosion in Illinois. Efforts to find and recover two people still missing remain on hold. The fire marshal says the structure is not safe for search crews to even go in and operate. And will need to be torn down before crews can resume their search.

One body was recovered earlier today. Investigators are also looking for what caused the blast at the silicone manufacturing plant. The explosion was so intense Friday night, it could be felt miles away in Wisconsin. Look how intense that fireball is.

The mayor of Waukegan, Illinois, tells CNN that 10 to 15 nearby businesses also sustained damage.

The investigation is just beginning into what caused a pilot to overshoot a runway and skid into a river in Jacksonville, Florida. This charter plane with more than 140 military personnel and crew on board was trying to land at a naval air station in stormy weather.

NTSB investigators say they have now recovered the flight data recorder, but the critical cockpit voice recorder remains submerged underwater.

CNN's Rosa Flores has more from Jacksonville.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The NTSB is on scene here in Jacksonville, Florida, and they say that their preliminary assessment indicates that this flight coming in from Guantanamo Bay, overran the runway impacted the low-level seawall and ended up in the shallow waters of the St. Johns River.

Now, the NTSB is looking at multiple factors. First of all, the aircraft. The flight data recorder has been recovered. The cockpit voice recorder has not been recovered, because it's submerged underwater and it's still unclear when that aircraft will be removed from the waters of the St. Johns River.

Those two pieces of equipment are key in telling the story of what happened. They will also be looking at some human factors. They're going to be investigating the crew and the pilots. What were they doing in the past 72 hours?

And then finally, also, the environment. The weather, what was happening at that time? We do know that there were reports of thunderstorms and lightning. In about two weeks, the NTSB is due to release a preliminary report and we should know more at that point in time.

The good news here is that the 140 plus passengers are safe. The bad news is that while authorities are not saying that the pets on board have perished, they are saying that none of the crates or kennels are above water.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Jacksonville, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Tensions are escalating in the Middle East this hour after militants in Gaza fired more than 200 rockets into Israel.

Now, four Palestinians including a baby are dead after Israel responds with airstrikes. The latest from the region, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:35:56] CABRERA: Escalating attacks between Israel and militants in Gaza have left four Palestinians dead and civilians injured on both sides.

Palestinian officials say a 1-year-old baby and the baby's pregnant mother are among those killed.

Now, officials say hundreds of rockets were fired by militants in Gaza toward Israel today. The Israeli military responded with a wave of airstrikes.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is near the Gaza border with details. Oren?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Ana, it has been a day of escalation along the Israel-Gaza border here. As we've seen the situation deteriorate throughout the day into the evening and overnight hours.

As of midnight, local time, Israel says more than 250 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel. At first, these were shorter range, but towards the end of the evening, these were more powerful medium- range rockets that reached all the way to Beersheba and Ashdod. Larger cities in southern Israel that indicate essentially, a stepping up, an escalation of the rocket fire.

Meanwhile, Israel has carried out more than 130 air strikes against what they say are Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad military targets inside of Gaza. And where at first, these were smaller Hamas military posts. They are now and have been towards the later part of the day larger targets. Multistory buildings that Israel says house Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad offices.

So that too is an escalation in the targets that Israel is hitting. Where does this situation go from here? And this, of course, is the key question.

In previous rounds of escalation, it was Egypt and the United Nations that stepped in to moderate and mediate between Israel and Gaza to restore a cease-fire.

We know from the U.N. that they're trying to restore that cease-fire again and to try to get some sort of long-term agreement here to ensure quiet along the border. So far, those efforts, as we have seen, have been unsuccessful.

The key question, Ana, where does this go on Sunday morning?

CABRERA: Oren Liebermann, thank you for that reporting.

Right now, there are 21 Democrats vying to be the party's next nominee. And with nine months until the Iowa caucus, do voters want a fresh face or experience?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The citizen Democrats are like, you know, time for some new blood.

[20:40:02] SARA RILEY, IOWA DEMOCRAT: Well, new blood that would lose would really be horrible, wouldn't it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Welcome back. New polling numbers this week show former vice president, Joe Biden, is the top choice to be the democratic nominee for president. He's at 39 percent in CNN's poll, 38 percent in the Quinnipiac University Poll. All the other candidates, you can see, falling pretty far behind him.

But many Iowa voters aren't ready to bet on Biden for 2020. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has our report from Des Moines.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's good to be back in Hawkeye country. I tell you what man, it's been a while.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Iowa.

ZELENY (voice-over): Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the far and away front-runners in the democratic presidential race, or are they?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, West Des Moines.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You want (INAUDIBLE) the Iowa way.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to (INAUDIBLE)

ZELENY: The Iowa way means one thing for certain. Front-runners can be fleeting. One voter after another sharing a similar sentiment. The 2020 race is as wide open as a country highway.

ZELENY (on-camera): Do you think at this point there is a front- runner in the race nine months before the Iowa caucuses?

[20:45:05] JANE CRANSTON, IOWA DEMOCRAT: No. I don't think there is. I think right now, it's still wide open.

ZELENY (voice-over): Jane and Ed Cranston are following the democratic primary far closer than most. Often, the race comes right into their living room. Like when they hosted a visit from Julian Castro.

J. CRANSTON: Thank you all for coming and for this amazing turnout.

ZELENY: They intend to meet and take a measure of all candidates. After President Trump won in 2016, they formed a group with their democratic friends to get ready.

J. CRANSTON: We called our group "The Pot Luck Insurgency," because it is an Iowa pot lock, but we wanted to be able to edgy too.

ZELENY: They're in no hurry to pick a favorite saying they want to watch the candidates grow and be tested.

J. CRANSTON: Well, I think you hit the nail on the head. It's who can win and that's a hard thing to judge especially so early, but that's what everybody is looking for.

ED CRANSTON, IOWA DEMOCRAT: Excitement is critical. I mean, Bernie got a lot of people excited and so -- and we still need that same excitement this next round.

(CHEERS)

ZELENY: When Biden visited Iowa this week, Ed was there listening closely and going in for a brief handshake.

E. CRANSTON: So a good touch of flesh. I'm impressed. I think -- he didn't disappoint.

ZELENY: Nine months before the Iowa caucuses opened the democratic nominating contest, the field of candidates now stands at 21, with a mix of old faces and new ones. That speaks to a critical question facing voters.

ZELENY (on-camera): What do you say to some democrats who are like, you know, time for some new blood?

RILEY: Well, new blood that would lose would really be horrible, wouldn't it. I think Pete Buttigieg is wonderful, but Biden has so much more experience and I want a president who would be ready from day one.

ZELENY (voice-over): Yet, not everyone sees a golden lining in experience. Jan Kerrigan says she loves Joe Biden, but doesn't believe she can vote for him.

JAN KERRIGAN, IOWA VOTER: This is a terrible thing to say, but it's his age. And I know that's wrong. That's not politically correct to say that.

ZELENY: She actually likes Cory Booker, but is keeping an open mind and attended an organizing session this week for Elizabeth Warren.

ZELENY (on-camera): Now Senator Elizabeth Warren has more paid staffers on the ground here in Iowa than any other campaign with about 50 or so. Cory Booker has about three dozen. Many other democratic candidates are now just trying to catch to build that critical organization here in Iowa.

Joe Biden can tell his democratic rivals how important Iowa is, of course, his two previous bids for the presidency never got beyond the Iowa caucuses.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Des Moines.

(END VIDEOTAPE))

CABRERA: History made at the Kentucky Derby, but not for the reasons you might expect. Why the horse who finished first didn't win the roses. All the stunning details, next.

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[20:50:35] CABRERA: A stunning outcome at the Kentucky Derby. "Country House" is the newest champion of the Run for the Roses after the horse that crossed the finished first was disqualified.

And joining us now, CNN's Patrick Snell. Also on the phone with us, managing editor of "This is Horse Racing," Tom Law, who's at Churchill Downs.

Let me start with Patrick though. What happened? Patrick, fill us in.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is quite incredible, Ana. And truly historic as well. Just to reset for viewers. One of the biggest occasions on the U.S. sporting calendar, the 145th running of the derby. The famous old race which dates all the way back to 1875. And there's a reason it's known as the greatest two minutes in sport.

But boy, did we get history in the making on this day? (INAUDIBLE) truly historic as well. Here's what actually happened. We have the race itself at Churchill Downs and it looked, initially, as one of the pre-race favorites, "maximum security" written by Panamanian jockey, Luis Saez, have actually won. This is the first leg of America's famed triple crown series.

The jockey though who thought he'd won. He'd already begun doing interviews saying that it was his dream come true or word to that effect.

But then came the real controversy here, Ana, that would change the outcome completely with the race long shot Country House, who'd crossed the finish in second place, eventually being declared the winner. What a moment for the French jockey Flavien Prat, this after Maximum Security was disqualified. It took officials best part of 2 minutes to probe the incident.

They ruled maximum Security actually committed a violation by moving out of his lane cutting off another horse. What a moment, as I say, for Prat. But really heartbreak for Luis Saez, a 65 to one shot.

Country House, the winner. Just incredible scenes in Louisville on this Saturday.

CABRERA: Wow. Yes. Talk about an unexpected ending to this race. Patrick, thank you for that.

Tom, I understand you were there. You're still there. What was it like when this call was announced?

TOM LAW, MANAGING EDITOR, THIS IS HORSE RACING (through telephone): I sure am. I'm there. The crowd is kind of filing out. It was -- it was quite a moment. Been to 20 Kentucky Derbies now. I've never seen anything like it.

I mean, when the inquiry sign was lit, the crowd was just kind of in a collective sort of buzz almost like they do when there are inquiries and fouls like this. And then, of course, it just was a wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and then after a while, you kind of get that feeling that you wait so long that they're going to make it change.

Then when they actually did make the change, there's like this collective sort of grown, some people are cheering. And I got to tell you, there were a lot of boos that came out from the crowd with Maximum Security being a horse that was -- one of the favorites in the race. Obviously, there were a lot of people in the crowd bet on that horse today.

CABRERA: Tom, stay with me. I also want to bring in our Coy Wire, CNN's sports correspondent.

Coy, you know horse racing. Just how unprecedented is this?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (through telephone): Yes. I have been to multiple Kentucky Derbies, Ana. And the magnitude of this is immeasurable. This is the biggest race of the sport. It's the crown jewel of the sport. And you have so many impacted by this.

First, you have the jockey, Luis Saez, who -- this was going to be his first ever derby win. Maximum Security was the favorite going into the race. Led the entire race. Probably should have won.

[20:55:00] But because of these rules, thought that he and his horse were at the top of the mountain and then were kicked in the gut. And this is a guy who fell in love with the sport race and horses in Panama. Never placed higher than seventh in the Kentucky Derby. He said this was his dream come true.

And then you have it never had the winner been stripped of a win due to on-track violations, changing the result of the finish in the Kentucky Derby's. But Luis Saez and Maximum Security just worked 22 excruciating minutes. They had to wait to learn their fate, but they were going to have their hearts ripped out of them and the rose garland taken away from them.

CABRERA: I mean, on one hand, you could argue so many people love an underdog, right? Winning and yet, there's so much money involved in horse racing.

Tom, do you think this will be contested?

LAW: Well, that's the million dollar question or maybe the $3 million question. It didn't seem like the people after the race -- I was one of the few reporters on the ground talking to one of the owners, Gary West, of Maximum Security. He was kind of taking it in stride. He almost took it as a -- this is horse racing. This is the kind of thing that happened.

Maybe when the dust settles a little bit, he did leave the door open, saying, well, I'm going to have to take a look at it a little bit more, but as of right now.

And then I believe the trainers, the two trainers talked to each other and the winning trainer, Bill Mott, he didn't indicate that he might do something. So I guess you can't hold all tickets, because they already made their picture here.

CABRERA: Wow. What an event. Guys, thank you both so much. Tom Law, Coy Wire, I really appreciate you jumping on the phone with me.

And thank you for joining us tonight. I'm back tomorrow starting at 5:00 Eastern right here on CNN. And make sure you don't miss a new episode of Dr. Sanjay Gupta special "Chasing Life" series, next.

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