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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN); Biden Apologizes; Attorney General Criticizes Congressional Subpoena Of Mueller; Jeffrey Epstein Indicted On Sex Trafficking Charges; Sudden Retirement Of U.S. Navy Admiral Slated To Take On A Top Role; Remembering Late Holocaust Survivor Eva Kor. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 8, 2019 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:01]

QUESTION: To be together as a team for nine hours, and to be able to just walk through everything that's happened?

ALEX MORGAN, U.S. WOMEN'S SOCCER PLAYER: Yes, you know, we kind of went through stages.

You know, initially, everyone was excited, and then a little hung over. And then we slept a little bit. And then we got up and started just celebrating a little more and sharing memories.

And this starts like an amazing three days of getting to just release all that emotional, physical exhaustion that we have had over the last 30 days and just be able to celebrate and make sure that everything is worth it. And so now we just get to enjoy each other's company and just have fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, guys.

MORGAN: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: All right.

Hi. Hi, everybody.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MORGAN: Thank you very much.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so there you have it, some of the women from the World Cup champion U.S. national team. They're speaking in New York. They're in New York right now. Wednesday morning, there's going to be a ticker tape parade, Canyon of Heroes in New York City.

Erica Hill is on the scene. We're going to continue to follow these developments.

But there's other news that's happening right now, including breaking news.

Blocking testimony. The House Judiciary Committee just revealed how another former administration official was advised by the White House against answering the panel's questions over and over again. Stand by for details.

Census suspense. As the president weighs options for adding a question about citizenship, the attorney general promises a decision within 48 hours. Tonight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is accusing President Trump of trying to tinker with the census to -- quote -- "make America white again."

Sex trafficking bust. A multimillionaire is charged with enticing, recruiting and sexually abusing a vast network of underage girls as young as 14. We will have the latest on the stunning allegations against Jeffrey Epstein, who has ties to President Trump and former President Bill Clinton.

And apology accepted? Some of Joe Biden's primary rivals don't seem entirely satisfied after he belatedly said he's sorry for touting his work with segregationist senators, this as the 2020 field has its first dropout tonight.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories.

The House Judiciary Committee just released the written testimony by a one-time chief of staff to the former White House Counsel Don McGahn. The panel revealing how the White House blocked Annie Donaldson from answering questions, get this, 212 times.

Also breaking, Attorney General William Barr says the decision on how to add a controversial question on citizenship to the 2020 census will be made in the next day or two. We're told the strategy to comply with the president's demand remains up in the air.

An executive order is among the options on the table right now. Barr also is weighing in on next week's congressional testimony by Robert Mueller. He's accusing House Democrats of forcing the former special counsel to appear to create -- and I'm quoting him now -- "some kind of public spectacle."

This hour, I will talk with House Judiciary Committee member Steve Cohen. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown.

Pamela, there's a lot of hand-wringing tonight over how to insert the president's citizenship question into the census.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. An administration official telling me today that everything is still

up in the air in terms of what the administration will do. But the source says that the administration is still pushing ahead, trying to figure out a way to add that controversial question in a way that would pass muster with the Supreme Court.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, sources tell CNN the administration is scrambling to figure out if they can use a presidential memorandum or an executive order to add the controversial citizenship question to the census, options that were put on the table only in recent days after the president said he wanted to fight the issue.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're thinking about doing that. It's one of the ways. We have four or five ways we can do it.

BROWN: This as the Justice Department replaces the legal team overseeing the census case. A Justice official says the administration didn't want the same lawyers who made one argument to the court on the census contradict themselves with a new argument. And sources say the White House did not intervene on the matter.

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have been in constant discussions with the president ever since the Supreme Court decision came down. And I think over the next day or two you will see what approach we're taking.

BROWN: Speaker Pelosi weighing in on Trump not backing down.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is about keeping -- you know, make America -- you know, his hat? Make America white again. They want to make sure that people, certain people, are counted.

[18:05:00]

BROWN: Also tonight, British officials doing damage control and reaching out to U.S. counterparts after it was revealed the U.K. ambassador sent cables back to London describing Trump as inept, insecure, and incompetent.

Trump fired back with a tweet just a short while ago, saying: "I do not know the ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S."

And he now says he will no longer deal with the ambassador. What will happen to him moving forward remains unclear.

TRUMP: The ambassador has not served the U.K. well. I can tell you that. We're not big fans of that man. And he has not served the U.K. well.

BROWN: President Trump also directing his ire at "The New York Times" after it reported on squalid conditions at a Texas border facility. Trump on one hand calling the report phony, while also placing the blame once again on Democrats for the overcrowding.

Now he's claiming the media will be invited to see the facilities for themselves.

TRUMP: We're going to have some of the press go in and see it, because they're crowded. And we're the ones that were complaining about they're crowded.

BROWN: But Democrats claim the administration is hiding from the truth.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): It is now because of the massive embarrassment, because of the outright declaration of incompetence by the Department of Homeland Security's own inspector general. We now have an official cover-up by the Department of Homeland Security.

BROWN: Vice President Pence says he will visit a detention facility later this week and bring bipartisan members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Pence today went after Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for saying the U.S. is running concentration camps on the border.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To compare the humane work of the dedicated men and women of Customs and Border Protection with the horrors of the Holocaust is an outrage.

BROWN: Also tonight, President Trump is sending a renewed warning to Iran after the regime says it has surpassed the uranium enrichment levels agreed to in the 2015 nuclear deal.

TRUMP: Iran better be careful, because you enrich for one reason. And I won't tell you what that reason is. But it's no good. They'd better be careful.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And, Wolf, the fallout from the British ambassador's cable slamming President Trump continues tonight.

We have learned from a source familiar that the ambassador has now been disinvited from tonight's dinner between President Trump and the emir of Qatar. The snub also coming after the president said he will no longer deal with the ambassador -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Pamela, thank you, Pamela Brown at the White House.

Now to other breaking news on another key witness before Congress prevented by the White House from answering questions.

Let's go to our Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez.

Evan, the House Judiciary Committee just released the written answers by the one-time chief of staff to the former White House counsel Don McGahn. What did we find? EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This is Annie Donaldson, and

she sat down for -- to answer these questions from the House committee, Wolf.

But, according to the committee, there were 212 times that they asked questions, and White House lawyers present in the room prevented Annie Donaldson from answering those specific questions.

And they -- a lot of them had to do with her own notes, notes that she took inside the White House after her interactions with her colleagues, including Don McGahn, about interactions with the president. And some of them, you know, beg to get some further explanation.

For instance, one of them back in -- back during the height of the aftermath of firing James Comey, she wrote down one note that said -- quote -- "Is this the beginning of the end?" This is a reference to the fact that the president had fired the former FBI director.

According to the committee, however, the -- Annie Donaldson was able to confirm key aspects of her notes that were included in the Mueller report. And so we now know that it is accurate that the White House counsel instructed members of its staff to no longer contact Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, after he had recused himself from the Russia investigation.

So, these are things, Wolf, we will find out more from these dozens and dozens of pages of this transcript that have just now been released. But it gives you a sense of the effort that the White House is going to prevent some of these answers from being made to the House committee.

BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed. All right, Evan, thank you very much, Evan Perez reporting.

Joining us now, Congressman Steve Cohen. He's a Democrat. He serves on the House Judiciary Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

And, as you know, your committee just released written answers from Annie Donaldson. She was the chief of staff to the former White House counsel Don McGahn. She was a really important witness in the Mueller report.

But White House lawyers blocked her from responding to more than 200 questions, citing executive branch confidentiality interests.

Is your committee going to fight to get more answers from her?

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): We will certainly do that. And we will try to get the -- Mr. McGahn to testify before us too. And I think all those things are going to be coming as -- in the next week or so.

[18:10:03] Ms. Donaldson didn't answer over 200 questions. The White House does not want people to say what happened in the White House, because they know that they are in danger of letting the American people know that they obstructed justice.

And Mueller basically said he obstructed justice. He will be before us on the 17th. I imagine he will put some flesh on the bones. But that's a crime. And it's what caused Nixon to resign. And it's a cancer on this presidency.

BLITZER: Well, Annie Donaldson did confirm some key details from the Mueller report.

On what issues were her answers most valuable to you and your committee members?

COHEN: Well, I mean, she confirmed that there was concern about the Comey firing, and that came -- but we wanted her to answer questions that she responded to Mueller about, and they wouldn't let her.

So, they -- it's just a continuing blockade by the administration of responding to what went on. And when you have got a lot to hide, it should lead -- cause the American public to hit pause on what's going on in the White House.

BLITZER: And, as you know, Mueller is scheduled to testify before your committee, as well as separately before the House Intelligence Committee, later next week.

The attorney general, Bill Barr, is accusing your committee of trying to create what he calls a public spectacle with Mueller's testifying next week. Do Democrats have a strategy to keep this hearing on the rails and to get the most out of Mueller's testimony?

COHEN: We do.

We will be asking the questions that we can put -- let the public know what the Mueller report was about, about the issues of obstruction of justice and possibly some of the situation about Russia and some of the over -- I think it was over 100 and maybe -- I'm not sure how many more -- contacts that the Trump campaign had with Russians.

But we will go into those questions. We will stick to the issues. It's the Republicans that are supposedly going after Mueller and try to attack him under everything that's imaginable.

And Robert Mueller's still an American hero, and he will be after this hearing, and he will be because he is an American hero. He served us in Vietnam. He served at the FBI. He served at Justice and served as special counsel.

I wish he'd have come forth with more statements when Barr obviously tried to derail the direction or the overall emphasis in the report about there not being evidence that could exculpate the president from obstruction of justice. Instead, he claimed something else. Barr took time and tried to do everything he could to try to make the

Mueller report was something that it wasn't. But Robert Mueller didn't want to get into it because he's been in the government a long time and he's a gentleman.

BLITZER: Congressman Steve Cohen, thanks so much for joining us.

COHEN: Wolf, good to be back with you.

And the American women's soccer team, we welcome them to the House of Representatives. That's where they belong.

BLITZER: Well, we will see, when they come to Washington, where they head.

Thank you so much for that.

Just ahead, all the shocking allegations and evidence against multimillionaire businessman Jeffrey Epstein. He faced a federal judge and charges he sexually abused and exploited dozens of young girls for years.

And former First Lady Michelle Obama tries to stay above the fray after the debate clash between Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:18:07]

BLITZER: We're back with breaking news on the sex trafficking charges against multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who has ties with President Trump and former President Bill Clinton.

Epstein is behind bars tonight after pleading not guilty. Prosecutors say he created a vast network of underaged victims, so he could sexually abuse and exploit them, often on a daily basis.

Our National Correspondent, Brynn Gingras, is covering the case for us in New York City.

Brynn, we heard a lot of very lurid details in court today. So what happens now?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, right, Wolf.

Well, Epstein is behind bars until his bail hearing, which is next week. We will have to see how this plays out for people that have been connected to Epstein's past, including people at the top level of our government.

But this is a man, according to investigators, with three U.S. passports, 15 luxury cars, and two private jets. Authorities say that's not going to help him in this case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GINGRAS (voice-over): Tonight, multimillionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, a registered sex offender, in court for the first time, wearing a Navy prison jumpsuit and pleading not guilty to two sex trafficking charges.

The U.S. attorney in New York saying, from 2002 to 2005, Epstein ran a sex trafficking enterprise, luring dozens of girls, some as young as 14, to his New York City and Palm Beach, Florida, homes. He would pay them hundreds of dollars to give him massages, and then the physical contact would escalate into sex acts, according to the 14-page indictment.

Epstein allegedly paid even more money for the girls to recruit other possible victims.

GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: This allowed Epstein to create an ever-expanding web of new victims. As alleged, Epstein was well aware that many of his victims were minors.

GINGRAS: Authorities also say FBI agents found hundreds of pictures of nude or partially nude young-looking girls in Epstein's Manhattan mansion. Some were discovered in a locked safe, along with C.D.s labeled "Miscellaneous Nudes 1" and "Girl Pic Nudes."

[18:20:05]

Prosecutors argued about the worth of that home and Epstein's overall wealth as an argument to keep him behind bars.

BERMAN: When you have two planes and you live much of the year abroad, we think that's a very real risk.

GINGRAS: The 66-year-old made his money on Wall Street. For decades, Epstein handled investments for former high-profile clients like Leslie Wexner, who owns Victoria's Secret.

His Rolodex of friends also includes Britain's Prince Andrew, former President Bill Clinton, and President Donald Trump, who in 2002 told "New York Magazine" this about Epstein: "I have known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

And that's not Epstein's only connection with the current White House. He evaded federal sex charges more than a decade ago, similar to the ones he faces now. The U.S. attorney in Florida back then was Alexander Acosta, Trump's current labor secretary.

With high-profile attorneys Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz representing Epstein back then, Acosta cut him a plea deal on lesser state charges, which sent Epstein to county jail for little more than a year, and required he register as a sex offender, the sentencing so lax, though, Epstein was allowed to continue working while serving time.

TRUMP: I really don't know too much about it. I know he's done a great job as labor secretary. And that seems like a long time ago, but I know he's been a fantastic labor secretary.

GINGRAS: The handling of the Florida case is now being investigated by the Justice Department after Republican Senator Ben Sasse sent a letter to the DOJ questioning why the agreement brokered with Epstein was -- quote -- "a sweetheart deal."

In court, Epstein's attorneys argued today's indictment is a do-over for the Florida case. But the U.S. attorney said the agreement made in Florida has no bearing on the new charges.

BERMAN: That agreement only binds -- by its terms, only binds the Southern District of Florida. The Southern District of New York is not bound by that agreement and is not a signatory to that agreement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS: And it's important to note, Wolf, that, when U.S. attorney Berman talked about this case, he mentioned the victims. He said they deserve their day in court.

Well, the U.S. attorney's office says that, within the last 36 hours, the office has been fielding calls from more potential victims and attorneys -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brynn Gingras in New York for us covering this case, Brynn, thank you very much.

Just ahead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls out Republicans for what she says is the true motivation behind the push to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census.

Plus, former special counsel Robert Mueller scheduled to appear before Congress next week. How will his testimony influence the Democratic presidential contest?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:27:28]

BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, the House Judiciary Committee has just released written responses from Annie Donaldson, who served as chief of staff to former White House counsel Don McGahn.

The panel's questions to her were part of its ongoing investigation into alleged obstruction of justice by President Trump.

Let's dig deeper with our experts and our analysts.

Susan Hennessey, 200 times, she didn't answer these written questions, answer them in writing or anything like that. Does the committee have any options now to get answers on these specific questions from her?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They could attempt to litigate this in court.

But it's important to keep in mind that, when Donaldson is asserting these privilege claims, the White House is giving sort of an unspecified privilege claim that she's asserting on its behalf, she's asserting privilege over answers she has already provided to Robert Mueller that, in many cases, have already been part of the public reports.

I think that sort of illustrates the absurdity of sort of the legal claim there. Now, Donaldson really is critical to lots of parts of the Mueller report. She was cited more than 65 times in that report about things like President Trump's mental state when he fired Jim Comey, whenever he pressured Jeff Sessions to unrecuse from the Mueller investigation, whenever he tried to attempt to get Robert Mueller removed.

These are really core to that obstruction of justice inquiry. I do think at this point we might see Congress sort of getting fed up, calling Donaldson maybe to testify publicly, and just asking her to read the provisions of the report that are cited to her notes, and ask her whether or not she has any objections to the characterization of her statements in Robert Mueller's report.

It doesn't seem like the best use of anyone's time, but if the White House is going to play these kinds of games, it's hard to see what options Congress has in terms of responding.

BLITZER: Yes, the White House is citing executive privilege.

At the same time, Robert Mueller next -- later next week is going to be testifying before the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee in the House.

The attorney general, Bill Barr, he said today that the Democrats are simply aiming for a public spectacle. What do you expect from those hearings?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: So, first of all, I think Attorney General Barr has a lot of chutzpah saying that this is just public spectacle, after he came out and publicly shaded the Mueller report and wasn't forthcoming with Congress about special counsel Mueller's objections to the way it was portrayed.

That being said, I think a lot of this is going to depend really, Wolf, on Mueller himself. It's going to be in public. Congress will ask their questions. If Mueller has that sort of flat affect he did in his last public appearance, and just sort of reads what he already put out in the Mueller report, then I don't know what will come of it.

I agree with Susan that Congress has limited options at this point going forward, if they're just trying to sort of go one hearing to another hearing.

[18:30:04]

But if he breaks news and says something that wasn't in the report, that could change things.

BLITZER: I want to move on but, Susan, Felix Sater, he was scheduled to appear before Congress recently a few days ago, but he overslept. But now we're told he will testify behind closed doors in front of the House Intelligence Committee tomorrow.

HENNESSEY: Right. So even though we aren't seeing lots of sort of the Mueller investigation, we haven't seen a lot of that play out in public, there are strong signals that the House is still pursuing this line of inquiry behind closed doors.

Felix Sater, of course, has sort of critical information related to the Trump administration's dealings with Russia, their business dealings in particular.

And so I do think we can expect to see many more of these hearings as the House continues to just sort of chip away at that work in the face of White House obstruction of trying to assemble the story in a way that they can present on their own terms to the American public.

BLITZER: Fill us in, Kaitlan, on what's going on with the President's demand that there be a formal question in the U.S. census about citizenship.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, things have been really fluid and they've been on shaky ground all throughout the weekend. The President was at his golf club in New Jersey but he was still having several meetings and calls deciding how they're going to go forward.

And we heard from the Attorney General, Bill Barr, today who said, essentially, you're going to find out in the next day or two because we're still working on it. We know they changed legal teams overnight. It's a whole new legal team that's dealing with it, it's a whole new set of lawyers.

So, essentially, they're still figuring it out, because, as we know, our reporting has shown that they actually are pretty skeptical that some kind of executive order is going to help them here because their argument the first time didn't work for the Supreme Court when they called it contrived. So they're trying to come up with this new rationale for why they think they need it added.

Of course, whether or not it's going to be able to work is still an open question, even inside the West Wing.

BLITZER: Sabrina Siddiqui, listen to the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, describe what she says is the Trump administration's motive in trying to get that citizenship question on the census.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): They want to be sure that just their people vote and not the general population, and that's why they're fighting the census.

This is about keeping -- you know, make America -- you know his hat? Make America white again. They want to make sure that people -- certain people are counted. It's really disgraceful. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that democrats are clearly pointing to this as another example of the Trump administration trying to discriminate against both the immigrant communities and people of color.

The Census Bureau itself has said that if this question were included, it would lead to a significant undercounting of the U.S. population, particularly because of the fear in immigrant communities from coming forward because that information they fear may be used against them. So I think you'll see democrats really try and kind of galvanize their base around this issue.

But there is some concern among advocates about the legal strategy by the Trump administration here because if you remember the travel ban, that's something the administration is pointing to, it took them multiple iterations to get to a proclamation that could just pass legal muster.

Now, they did that before the Supreme Court took it up, not after the Supreme Court had already ruled. But there is some concern that they've been given this wiggle room here to come forward with a new rationale for including this question even after it was made very clear by the court that they're being disingenuous in the need for this question in the first place.

COLLINS: Also we should note that the President is arguing what his own Justice Department lawyers said about this. They said it had nothing to do with redistricting. But actually with myself and several other reporters were questioning Trump on Friday when he was leaving the White House, he brought up redistricting exactly when he was talking about why this question needed to be on the census.

HENNESSEY: We should also keep in mind that it is incredibly rare to have a DOJ team of lawyers withdraw from the case. They haven't publicly said why they're doing that, but it is a strong indication that career attorneys basically think that whatever the next legal strategy is, it is beyond the pale.

DOJ lawyers argue positions they don't personally agree with all the time so to see this kind of sort of mass exodus from a case is an indication that potentially something very irregular is going on.

BLITZER: And, David, the Supreme Court ruled the other day that they can't at least right now put that question on the census.

SWERDLICK: Right. And they left the door open to another go-round, but basically saying to the Trump administration their reason so far was arbitrary and impermissible.

And to your point, Kaitlan, right, the President sort of gave the game away when he was gaggling on Friday and said redistricting as the first reason he gave for why they need to do this. That goes right to what Speaker Pelosi was saying in that clip you played, Wolf, about the motivations behind citizenship on the census.

BLITZER: Is the President still angry at the Commerce Secretary and the Attorney General for issuing public statements the other day saying the question is gone?

COLLINS: And not only saying that, saying, we're not going to try to do this any further. We should note Wilbur Ross was front row and center at an event at the White House today. The President gave him a shout out about a separate unrelated topic.

But the President has been complaining, saying that Wilbur Ross didn't handle this right the first time because, of course, it was his answer that the Chief Justice, John Roberts, said he believed was contrived.

[18:35:03]

So now, today, Bill Barr is giving a few interviews. He said they're going to essentially give it another shot. He didn't sound completely confident that they're going to be successful. So, essentially, it's waiting and seeing inside the West Wing.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens. We'll wait and see ourselves.

Guys, stick around. There's more news we're following.

Joe Biden apologizes, Elizabeth Warren surges and one democratic hopeful drops his presidential bid. The latest on the 2020 race, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: There are plenty of new developments in the 2020 presidential race. Our Senior Washington Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny is in the early voting state of South Carolina where the candidates have been campaigning big-time. Jeff, Joe Biden finally decided to try and put one issue to rest. How did that go over?

JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he did indeed. It's part of his July reset, if you will. He's been on the defensive for about three weeks or so over some of his long history and long voting record on race, and particularly some comments he made about segregationist senators as an example of someone he said he could work across the aisle with.

Of course, he has refused to apologize, but a lot has changed since then. A, he had a rocky debate performance, and B, the polls changed. Senator Kamala Harris certainly is rising and gaining attention.

So Vice President Biden came here to South Carolina at the same time Kamala Harris was also in the state. Listen to what they said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Now, was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was. I regret it. And I'm sorry for any of the pain or misconception they may have caused anybody.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): I think that he is right to recognize the impact of his words and I applaud him for doing it and having the courage to do it. There is still a point of disagreement between he and I, and that remains, which is that part that is a very significant part, I believe, about that whole era, which is the issue of busing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: And, Wolf, one thing becomes clear when you talk to voters at both campaign events, for Harris and for Biden, that most democratic voters are not interested in this back and forth. Voters I talked to today at a Harris event in Myrtle Beach said they simply do not want to hear her talking about this. Yes, they praised her debate performance, but they say they hope they can drop it and move on and talk about the future.

Wolf, one other thing that's interesting. The former Vice President is wrapping himself in the support and legacy of Barack Obama. He's saying if it was his judgment to select me as Vice President, certainly, that should be good enough.

I am told by advisers to both men that they have not spoken, Obama and Biden have not spoken since that debate, but their advisers are speaking frequently and they know that the former Vice President is using the Biden legacy, because, of course, they say it's part of his as well.

But, wolf, that is one big takeaway from campaigning here. Joe Biden reminding people that he was Barack Obama's -- of course, the first African-American President's Vice President.

BLITZER: Very interesting. At the same time, Senator Elizabeth Warren's campaign has just announced some big fundraising hauls. What does that mean for the race?

ZELENY: Wolf, it is certainly interesting. Elizabeth Warren certainly has been gaining ground over the last several weeks and months. But the question is can she raise the money? Is she able to support the strength and size of this organization?

She answered that definitively today with $19.1 million raised in the last three months, Wolf. That is pretty extraordinary. It's three times what she raised in the first quarter of the year. It puts her in the top third of the field behind Pete Buttigieg, of course, and just behind Joe Biden and ahead of Bernie Sanders.

Elizabeth Warren is occupying much of Bernie Sanders' space. She now is almost certainly winning over some of his donors. Her average contribution, $28, and, Wolf, 80 percent of those donors are new donors. That means they can give again and again and again. So she proved she is almost certainly in this race for the long haul on her ideas, and now she has support as well. And, Wolf, we also saw one major candidate who's dropping out of the race, Eric Swalwell, the California Congressman. He said today that he is realizing he's not able to go forward. Of course, he struggled to raise money. So he is the first major candidate at least, Wolf, to drop out.

BLITZER: He also said he'll run for re-election in the House of Representatives. All right, Jeff Zeleny reporting for us, thank you very much.

Just ahead, a sudden retirement leaves another key Pentagon post empty for now. We have new details of what led a top admiral to leave.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:49:07] BLITZER: We're learning new details tonight about the sudden retirement of a U.S. Navy admiral that was slated to take on a top role -- a top role, I should say.

Our Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr is working the story for us.

Barbara, this leaves yet another key Pentagon position vacant.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Another senior job open at the Pentagon. And it's beginning to raise questions about what all of this means for national security.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ADMIRAL WILLIAM MORAN, U.S. NAVY: What we talked about --

STARR (voice-over): The four-star admiral already confirmed to lead the Navy suddenly deciding not to accept the job as chief of naval operations.

MORAN: Even before the --

STARR: Admiral William Moran late Sunday night announced he is retiring based on an open investigation into the nature of some of "my personal e-mail correspondence" with a former staff officer now retired. That person had been investigated and reprimanded over allegations of inappropriate behavior towards junior female officers.

[18:50:05] ADM. JOHN RICHARSON, CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS: The accountability part --

STARR: The current chief of naval operations, Admiral John Richardson, sent a message to senior Navy officials saying Moran had maintained an off-the-record collaboration on high-level official Navy business.

Three defense officials with direct knowledge said Navy business was discussed with former staffer Chris Servello, a long-time naval public affairs officer who often dealt with the news media. Servello issued a statement saying: I'm aware of Admiral Moran's decision and it's hard not to feel disappointment and disbelief. This is terrible news for the Navy. Beyond that I have nothing else to add.

Servello did honorably retire and never was charged.

It's all another element in shaky Pentagon stability. Nearly 120 of the most senior defense policy and military jobs at the Pentagon are not filled by permanent appointees.

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: You're going to have a hard time getting people, talented individuals to come to work at the Pentagon when they don't know who their boss is going to be six months from now.

STARR: On July 4th, Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper stood next to President Trump. But due to federal regulations, Esper may now have to step down briefly while the Senate considers his nomination.

RICHARD SPENCER, NAVY SECRETARY: This is a tremendously important --

STARR: Navy Secretary Richard Spencer is getting ready to step in, making him the third acting secretary of defense in less than seven months.

All of it is raising questions about fundamental disarray at the Pentagon.

KIRBY: The large number of vacancies at the Pentagon does send a message to allies and adversaries alike that we are not fully equipped and fully manned. I worry it sends a message to adversaries that they can simply wait us out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: It's leaving an awful lot in the hands of temporary personnel, and the worry is adversaries like North Korea, China, and Russia and Iran are watching all of this -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Barbara, thanks very much for that report.

Much more news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:56:42] BLITZER: Finally tonight, we honor the memory of Holocaust survivor Eva Kor. She and her twin sister endured Dr. Mengele's horrific experiments at the Auschwitz death camp when they were just 10 years old. Eva Kor eventually moved here to the United States and dedicated her life to Holocaust awareness until her death last week at age 85.

I was fortunate to speak with her at Auschwitz for a CNN special report back in 2015 called "The Voices of Auschwitz." Listen to Eva in her own words making sure the world never forgets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We are looking here at the ruins of these gas chambers, these crematoriums.

EVA KOR, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: Yes.

BLITZER: So, Eva, tell me, what do you remember? You were just a little girl, 10 years old.

KOR: We knew from the smell, it smelled like burning flesh and burning hair. And the smoke was rising high above the structure. And we actually knew that most of our families probably ended up here.

The other kids who were in the barrack, that first night we arrived, they said, look. See the smoke and the flames? Your families must be burning right now there. And I said, that's not possible. Burning people? That is crazy.

BLITZER: So, Eva, this was a barrack that you lived in, something like this?

KOR: Yes. It was my home for almost nine months. I entered the place, we went to the latrine which are at the end of the barrack. There on the filthy latrine floor, there were scattered corpses of three children.

Right then and there, I made a silent pledge that I will do anything and everything to not end up on the filthy latrine floor.

BLITZER: Eva, tell us what was going on in this building.

KOR: We used to be brought here three times a week. They would tie both of my arms to restrict the blood flow and give me minimum of five injections into my right arm. The content of those injections we didn't know then nor do I know today. But after one of those injections, I became very ill.

Next morning, Dr. Mengele came in and he turned to the other doctor then said, laughing sarcastically, he said, too bad, she's so young. She has only two weeks to live.

It was late in the afternoon, a woman ran yelling at the top of her voice, we are free, we are free, we are free. And then in the distance, I could see lots of people. They were all smiling. They gave us chocolate, cookies and hugs. And this was my first day of freedom.

My name is Eva Moses Kor. I am a survivor of Auschwitz.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Eva went back to Auschwitz almost every year to educate people about the horrors of the Holocaust, and that's where she died on July 4th. But her story and her mission clearly live on. May she rest in peace, and may her memory be a blessing.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

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