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THE SITUATION ROOM

Joe Biden Calls For Impeachment of President Trump; Interview With Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA); Turkey Launches Offensive in Syria; White House Refuses to Cooperate With Impeachment Inquiry; Kurdish-Led Forces Say Prison Holding ISIS Detainees Hit In Turkish Airstrike; Former NBC Staffer Accuses Matt Lauer of Rape in Ronan Farrow's New Book; Two Dead in Shooting Near German Synagogue. Aired on 6-7p ET

Aired October 9, 2019 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: going to court. President Trump predicts his battle against impeachment investigators will likely wind up at the Supreme Court. We're getting new details on the Democrats' strategy, as the White House brazenly stonewalls.

"Indicted himself," that's Joe Biden's take on President Trump, as he flatly calls for his impeachment for the first time. How is the impeachment fight impacting the 2020 presidential race?

Under siege. As Turkey attacks U.S. allies in Syria, President Trump is denying he gave a green light for the offensive, despite the growing backlash even from within his own party. One Republican is calling the whole thing sickening.

And Lauer allegations. Two years after he was fired from NBC for sexual misconduct, the ousted "Today Show" host is accused of rape by a former producer. Tonight, Matt Lauer is speaking out about this new bombshell.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KEILAR: We're following breaking news on President Trump's all-out war against the impeachment investigation.

Tonight, he's hedging about whether he'd stop stonewalling and decide to cooperate if the House were to formally vote to approve the impeachment inquiry. And he's predicting that his battle with Democrats will probably wind up at the Supreme Court.

CNN has learned Democrats are preparing a flurry of new subpoenas in response to the blanket refusal by the White House to comply with impeachment investigators.

Also breaking, President Trump is, predictably, attacking Joe Biden after the former vice president called for his impeachment for the first time, Biden declaring the president has indicted himself by obstructing justice.

And, this hour, I will talk with a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Denny Heck, and our correspondents and our analysts who are also standing by.

First, let's go to CNN chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

And, Jim, we heard a lot from the president tonight, including his most recent take on this impeachment fight.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna.

President Trump just wrapped up a long rant about being impeached. He is taking aim at Joe Biden. The former vice president, as you said, is calling on Mr. Trump to be thrown out of office.

House Democrats are talking tough after their demands for information in the impeachment inquiry were rejected by the White House. No change in posture from the president. He is not committing to any kind of cooperation on that front.

The president has one other mounting concern on his hands. And that is Turkey's invasion of Syria, which he green-lighted. That invasion has begun.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Waging war on Democrats who are out to impeach him, President Trump is sounding all too eager to escalate the constitutional conflict.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Probably ends up being a big Supreme Court case. Maybe it goes a long time. I don't know.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump is firing back at Joe Biden, who for the first time is calling on the president to be impeached over his infamous phone call with the leader of Ukraine.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts.

You know...

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached.

ACOSTA: No surprise, the president waited only minutes to respond, tweeting: "So pathetic to see Biden calling for my impeachment. And I did nothing wrong. Joe's failing campaign gave him no other choice."

TRUMP: I guess he's no longer the front-runner. But, look, I feel badly for him.

ACOSTA: Democrats are up in arms over the president's refusal to cooperate with their impeachment inquiry, with some threatening to jail witnesses who don't respond to congressional subpoenas.

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): When witnesses come and they simply refuse to answer questions, I think it's time to call in the sergeant at arms, march them off to our little jail, which we do happen to have in one of the rooms of the Capitol, and let them sit there and cool off for a while.

ACOSTA: The president is replying by recycling his old unproven conspiracy theories, like his accusation that Barack Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower.

Mr. Trump tweeted: "So why is someone a good or great president if they needed to spy on someone else's campaign in order to win? That didn't work out so well."

The president is adding one notable name to his impeachment team, former GOP Congressman Trey Gowdy, who once slammed Obama for withholding information.

TREY GOWDY (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress, no matter whether you're the party in power or not in power, is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something.

ACOSTA: But here's one more flashback. During Bill Clinton's impeachment in the late '90s, then Republican Congressman Lindsey Graham said failure to comply with congressional demands was a violation straight out of Watergate.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): It is not your job to tell us what we need. It is your job to comply with the things we need to provide oversight over you. The day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day that he was subject to impeachment.

[18:05:01]

ACOSTA: Graham and other Republicans are outraged over Turkey's invasion of Syria, a strike against Kurdish allies of the U.S. that got a presidential thumbs-up from Mr. Trump.

The president is now trying to distance himself from Turkey's actions.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that Erdogan will try to wipe out the Kurds?

TRUMP: I will wipe out his economy if that happens. I have already done it once.

ACOSTA: The president was also asked whether he was concerned about ISIS fighters escaping as a result of the operations.

TRUMP: Well, they're going to be escaping to Europe. That's where they want to go.

ACOSTA: Longtime Trump defenders worry, it's an unholy blunder.

PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, "THE 700 CLUB": And I believe -- and I want to say this with great solemnity -- the president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, Vice President Mike Pence, in some comments to reporters just a few moments ago, drew a very interesting distinction between himself and the president when it comes to calls with the Ukrainian president -- the vice president telling reporters that he never brought up former Vice President Joe Biden in his conversations with President Zelensky.

And as for whether the White House would cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, the president was hedging earlier this afternoon, saying that depends -- quote -- "if Republicans get a fair shake."

The president went on to explain why his aides went to great lengths to keep his call with the Ukrainian president under wraps. The president responded by saying he doesn't want spies inside the White House -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Jim Acosta, thank you.

And now to Capitol Hill, where the Democrats are planning the next phase of their impeachment investigation. And we're getting some new information about their strategy.

Let's go straight to senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju.

You have some new reporting, Manu. Tell us.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Democrats are preparing for a wave of new subpoenas in the face of White House stonewalling.

And expect Rudy Giuliani associates -- three Rudy Giuliani associates could soon be served with subpoenas, after they have not yet complied with demands for the interviews and for records related to Giuliani's efforts to urge the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden.

Now, in addition to that, there are current State Department officials who Democrats have scheduled to be interviewed who have yet to agree to dates. And Democrats are suggesting that perhaps these scheduled interviews should go away, no more voluntary interviews, potentially, as they consider subpoenaing these individuals to come in and see if they ultimately defy their demands.

Look to see what happens on Friday, when Marie Yovanovitch, who's a former Ukrainian ambassador for the United States, she -- U.S. ambassador to Ukraine -- she is scheduled to come in. But there are some concerns and questions about whether or not she will ultimately come and questions about whether she too will need to be subpoenaed.

Behind the scenes too, there's discussions to bring in the whistle- blower himself or herself to hear exactly what the allegations are. But we are told from multiple sources familiar with the matter there's talk about bringing this individual in, in complete secrecy, so nobody has any idea that this person is coming in until after the fact.

Now, Democrats are going to begin debating what their next steps should be as they come back to Washington next week. There is a push internally to force a vote to actually authorize a formal impeachment inquiry.

Today, John Garamendi, a Democrat who has influence within the caucus, raised the specter of doing that. Other Democrats I have talked to are echoing that call because they essentially believe it will call the president's bluff, and, if he does not comply, they believe it can strengthen their arguments that the president is obstructing Congress.

But one important person is still resisting that call, Brianna. That's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She does not believe it is necessary to have a formal vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry. Nowhere in the rules or in the Constitution does it require that.

But that is the kind of debate expect Democrats to have as they push to wrap up this impeachment probe and potentially move on articles impeachment by Thanksgiving -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you.

And joining me now is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Congressman Denny Heck.

Sir, thanks for joining us.

REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): You're welcome.

KEILAR: Do you agree with Mr. Garamendi? Do you want that vote?

HECK: So, I think what the president wants is for us to talk about this.

The fact of the matter is that there's no requirement in the Constitution or the federal law or the House rules that we take a vote such as this. He would rather us talking about this than, frankly, talking about the underlying act here, which is the issue at hand, namely, his betrayal of his oath, namely, his withholding of military assistance, which threatened our national security, to President Zelensky of Ukraine, in exchange for him to do a political favor to serve the self-interest of the president, when the president said, I would like you to do us a favor now.

But, Brianna, let's step back. The fact of the matter is, all of that aside, there is no requirement that we take this vote. We are in an impeachment inquiry. The speaker has declared it. The committees are functioning thusly. Is there a single person the face of the planet that believes, if we

were to take that vote, there wouldn't be yet another excuse for the president not to comply?

[18:10:05]

There would be. This whole sordid affair is nothing but a story of a shakedown and a cover-up. And this is a part of the cover-up.

KEILAR: The administration says it's not cooperating with what it sees as an illegitimate impeachment inquiry.

What is the goal of these new subpoenas? Is it just to build the obstruction case?

HECK: To get to the truth. No, the obstruction is the withholding.

The point of having subpoenas is to get...

KEILAR: But that's what I mean. Clearly, Democrats -- clearly, Democrats know they're not going to comply with subpoenas. So they're expecting this even as they roll out more.

It would be incredibly surprising if the administration complied with this. That said, Democrats are continuing to do that. So, is this at least knowing that this is something that speaks to alleged obstruction?

HECK: Well, refusal to comply with a subpoena, it seems to me, establishes a couple things.

In and of itself, it is obstruction. And, as a matter of fact, as has been pointed out so many times, I believe it was the third article of impeachment against President Nixon was as a result of his failure to comply with a subpoenaed request for documents.

It also seems to me to be an implicit and fairly strong acknowledgement that they have got something to hide.

KEILAR: Are you concerned -- and you bring up the point about obstruction in the -- with President Nixon. Point taken.

However, this -- at this current point in time, we are following the Mueller investigation, where you had alleged obstruction, where the attorney general essentially cleared the president of it, even though Mueller did not.

Do you worry, though, that in the wake of that Americans are actually numb to the possibility of obstruction?

HECK: I think Americans are worried about the future of their country.

I think Americans are worried that we live, not in a banana republic, but that we live in a nation founded on constitutional principle and the rule of law. I think Americans are increasingly concerned about our position on the

international stage, and how many years it's going to take us to dig us out of the hole for acts such as, over the weekend, when the president unlocked and opened the door for Turkey to invade Syria, and to take on our longest allies in the fight against ISIS in that region.

You know, Brianna, I happen to have the privilege to represent Joint Base Lewis-McChord. And I send off troops and I welcome home troops from their deployments on a regular basis.

And let me tell you, it worries me to the core of my being that, for years into the future, our allies, whenever it is we are engaging with them in efforts to do things like stop the spread of ISIS, that what they are going to say to us is, how can we trust you? You turned our back on us when we needed you most.

So I think those are the kinds of things that Americans are worried about, that we do live in a constitutional republic, and not a banana republic.

KEILAR: That is a concern that many Republicans have echoed. You have been hearing your Republican colleagues say that.

When the White House says that the United States does not endorse this attack by Turkey against the Kurds, what is your response to that?

HECK: He unlocked the door and he opened the door.

He knew full well what was going to happen. And, Brianna, the proof is in the pudding. It is happening.

Let us remember that there were thousands and thousands. One estimate is 10,000 Kurdish soldiers lost their lives in the fight against ISIS. And, indeed, Kurdish soldiers are now guarding approximately 10,000 ISIS soldiers.

That's what's at stake here. If they are diverted to defend themselves and the civilians and other Kurds, and those ISIS soldiers escape, we know full well what they will be up. The president said they're going to migrate to Europe. Well, they may do that, but they're also going to engage in the same kind of aggressive violence that they have been committed to over a period of time.

KEILAR: Congressman Denny Heck, thank you so much for joining us today.

HECK: You're welcome, Brianna.

KEILAR: So just ahead, would President Trump cooperate with impeachment investigators if Republicans get a fair shake, as he claims, or is it a smokescreen for more stonewalling?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:18:57] KEILAR: We're following all the breaking news on impeachment, including the Democrats' evolving strategy against the president's stonewalling.

Sources tell CNN that a flurry of new subpoenas are in the works, after the White House made it clear it would have no part in this investigation.

I want to bring in our correspondents and our analysts to talk about this.

And, David Swerdlick, to you first.

Democrats are responding to this scathing letter that they got from the White House by preparing new subpoenas, right? But they're also weighing whether to hold a formal vote on the impeachment inquiry, because the reality is, the White House isn't going to comply with these subpoenas.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: Right.

KEILAR: What are the pros and cons here?

SWERDLICK: As a purely tactical matter, to me, it's all cons.

Democrats have the upper hand in this case because they control the process, unlike the Mueller situation, where the attorney general controlled the process.

Look, if your Speaker Pelosi, and you're going to have 218 of your members, maybe one independent congressman, Amash, maybe one Republican, maybe Congressman Hurd, walk the plank on impeachment, you make them walk the plank on impeachment on an actual vote on articles of impeachment, not a procedural vote, which, as you just said, is not going to change the White House's posture at all toward complying with subpoenas or turning over documents.

[18:20:10]

It's like, have you met President Trump? It's not, like if you give him some concessions, all of a sudden, tomorrow, he's going to say, oh, yes, here are my tax returns and here's Ambassador Sondland.

It doesn't make sense.

KEILAR: So we're hearing from some Democrats, like Congressman Garamendi, who has said he wants to do this, right? He wants to proceed with the vote.

Manu just reported that he's hearing from some other Democrats, but almost all the Democrats you talk to shy away from this. They don't want anything to do with this, Sabrina.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think, to some extent, Democrats, especially those who are in more competitive congressional districts, are mindful that we don't really know where the politics of impeachment are going to land.

But no one is operating under the illusion that this inquiry is going to culminate in anything but an impeachment vote in the House. And so whether it's now, more of a procedural vote, as David mentioned, to authorize the inquiry, or whether it's ultimately a vote to actually impeach the president, Democrats know they're going to be put on the record with respect to this issue.

I think the president is very much trying to bait Democrats, so that he can try and win the messaging war and really shore up support with his base. We've already heard him echo a lot of the rhetoric used during the course of the Russia investigation, that this is all a witch-hunt.

But the reality is, there's no indication that, even if they did hold the vote, that the White House is suddenly going to start cooperating. So the real decision for Democrats now is, as they have the White House stonewall a lot of their requests for witnesses and documents, where and when do they push forward with subpoenas?

For right now, they're still hoping some of these witnesses might appear voluntarily. And my understanding, based on conversations I have had with Democratic aides on some of these committees, is, they're looking at where and when they're going to have to issue more and more subpoenas and force the matter, if not take it to the courts.

KEILAR: What's your assessment of where this whole thing is, Sara?

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think take it to the courts.

I mean, this vote just seems like a big political waste of time. I don't think the president and the White House are suddenly going to give them what they want if they do take this vote.

But what we have seen from judges, even before this was under an impeachment inquiry, was, judges were saying, Congress has wide latitude to conduct oversight. You can't just hold these documents back.

And, essentially, a number of judges said, we don't really care if it's a formal impeachment process or not, before it was announced as an impeachment inquiry. So I think that, if they did put this stuff before a judge, the judges would -- would basically say that Congress has the latitude to decide how impeachment proceedings work.

So if they want to call it an impeachment inquiry, if they don't want to take a vote on it, that's up to Nancy Pelosi, you owe them the documents.

If I were really interested in getting the information and getting the answers and getting these depositions, that's what I would do.

KEILAR: I wonder what you think about what we're going to be seeing. What is Congress going to be seeing? Because they're hoping to hear from the former ambassador to the Ukraine, Kylie. And I think a lot of people keep asking the question. We don't know for sure she's not going to appear, but it seems likely the State Department can hold her back.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes.

So, I mean, at this point, she's expected to show up on Friday. But we saw this happen earlier this week. Ambassador Sondland was also supposed to show up on Tuesday. And early that morning, he was told by the State Department that he couldn't go.

So there's still questions about if he's going to show up or not. And the State Department has remained completely silent throughout this whole thing. I think it's important to note out that Ambassador Volker, who resigned from the State Department, we still haven't even gotten a statement from the State Department about his resignation.

They haven't said anything on the record about if they're going to allow Ambassador Yovanovitch to go to her scheduled deposition on Friday. I asked Secretary Pompeo about this today. He ignored the question. And they also haven't said if they're going to allow Ambassador Sondland to go forth, now that he has been subpoenaed.

So a lot of questions about the legalities here and how the State Department is going to try and use its power to fight back against that.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about something we heard the president say today about Turkey.

Turkey is attacking Kurds in Northern Syria. And when asked about this and the possibility of ISIS fighters who are currently in detention, at least 10,000 of them, and being really overseen by Kurdish fighters, he was asked about that. And he said, well, they want to -- they will be escaping to Europe.

I mean, what is your -- one, what is the reaction that you are hearing of people hearing the president say that, basically, Europe -- thumbing his nose at Europe over this? What do you think?

ATWOOD: Well, it aligns with what we have heard from President Trump over the past few years, which is that the onus can't only be on the United States when it comes to fighting these international wars, to taking on ISIS.

And he thinks that, because ISIS has been defeated in Syria, the U.S. is done, and they have done their job. Their mission set, as Secretary Pompeo said just this evening, has been accomplished.

But if they allow these ISIS fighters to escape, to escape these prisons that the Syrian Democratic Forces are now guarding, the question is if ISIS is going to resurge.

[18:25:03]

And that's what Senator Lindsey Graham has said. And Secretary Pompeo was asked about that tonight during an interview, and he didn't answer the question. He said that the U.S. will keep doing what it has to do to defend against ISIS.

But he didn't say that the -- the U.S. would own it, would take ownership over the fact that these ISIS fighters could potentially come out and reemerge and redevelop this ISIS caliphate, which is what Trump has said he has demolished at this point.

KEILAR: And which is not in Europe, just to be clear.

ATWOOD: Right.

KEILAR: All right, you guys, stand by. We have so much more to talk about.

We will be back in just a moment with all of our breaking news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: We're back now with our analysts. As Joe Biden is flatly calling for President Trump's impeachment, let's get an update from CNN Senior Washington Correspondent Jeff Zeleny, who is in New Hampshire.

This was a first for Joe Biden about, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it was, indeed. And Joe Biden just repeat that call for impeachment again here this evening in Manchester as standing applause rose, as standing ovation rose after he did that.

But it's clear that Joe Biden is trying to inoculate himself against any of this controversy of Ukraine, but he's saying this. He thinks President Trump is afraid of him that's why these attacks are coming.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: to preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached.

ZELENY: For the first time today, Joe Biden calling for the impeachment of President Trump, dropping any caveats of waiting for the outcome of the House investigation.

BIDEN: President Trump has indicted himself by obstructing justice, refusing to comply with the congressional inquiry. He's already convicted himself.

ZELENY: In a speech in New Hampshire, Biden joining many of his Democratic rivals in calling for Trump's removal from office, saying the president has repeatedly undermined American democracy.

BIDEN: We all laughed when he said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and get away with it. It's no joke. He's shooting holes in the Constitution, and we cannot let him get away with it.

ZELENY: It's the latest escalation from Biden, who initially supported an impeachment inquiry, and plan to withhold final judgment. But he said too many damning details have already been disclosed about Trump, pushing foreign leaders to meddle in the 2020 election.

BIDEN: We've seen it in Trump's own words. We see it with the texts from State Department officials that have been made public. We see it in his pulling much of the United States government into his corrupt schemes, individuals within the government, his appointees.

ZELENY: He also mounted another defense of his son, Hunter Biden, and the work for a Ukraine gas company while Biden was vice president, an arrangement Trump has seized upon with no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

BIDEN: He's targeted me and my family with lies and distortions and smears. That's all they are because he thinks he will undermine my candidacy for nomination.

ZELENY: Here in New Hampshire, Democratic voters are still sizing up the field but not Biden's integrity.

What do you make of all the back-and-forth between President Trump and Joe Biden right now? Do you have any questions about Joe Biden's character?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, because I trust him, more truthful than what we have as a president right now. And the negativity is just way beyond. It needs to stop.

ZELENY: But even some admirers say the controversy has raised questions about Biden's judgment that may warrant more explanation.

Do you have any questions of Joe Biden's integrity or character?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not as much as I do President Trump, but, you know, certainly, you know, there's some questions on how his son got that job and that sort of thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: So Joe Biden, of course, not only pushing back against President Trump, he's also in the fight for his life against Senator Elizabeth Warren. Of course, she is his leading competition here in New Hampshire.

Brianna, just a few moments ago, Joe Biden took a veiled swipe at her as well. He said plans are fine, but we're not electing a planner. We're electing a president. So a new line here tonight in Manchester but, of course, Joe Biden fighting on a couple of different fronts. Brianna?

KEILAR: And, Jeff, I also want to ask you about Bernie Sanders. Because just days after we learned he had a heart attack, he said he was scaling back his campaign. Now, he's saying something different.

ZELENY: He is indeed. He told reporters yesterday in Burlington, Vermont that he was planning to not be quite as vigorous on the campaign trail, not have three or four rallies a day. He said he was going to take it a bit easy and see how his health goes.

Well, tonight, he's pushing back at a new interview with NBC News, saying he is going to be as vigorous as ever and he is refuting the fact that he was going to scale back his campaign. He says he misspoke about that. So, Brianna, clearly, this is a very sensitive matter for the Sanders campaign, how vigorous is he going to be going forward.

He is going to be at the debate next week in Ohio here on CNN, but we will see how aggressive his campaign schedule is.

It had been one of the most aggressive, as you know, like it was in 2016, but he's still recovering now, and his future, of course, remains up in the air. Brianna?

KEILAR: Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

I want to bring our analysts back in to discuss. Let's talk about this latest line that Joe Biden is using. It takes proven ability to get things done, we're not electing a planner.

[18:35:00]

I mean, on one hand, he's trying to say he gets things done, he has deliverables. But is he getting dangerously close to --

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sexism?

KEILAR: Sexism, thank you, David Swerdlick. I didn't even have to say it.

SWERDLICK: There's a note of sexism in there. And, frankly, that line is right up there with 2008 calling President Obama, then Senator Obama, clean and articulate. Vice President Biden, come on, just make your case to the American people.

The idea to say that Senator Warren is a planner but not a president has at least an undertone of saying that he's a leader, she's just, you know, a stenographer or someone, you know, to take care of the details. That's --

KEILAR: What's the manner with a plan?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I love a plan. I love a plan. I love a color-coded calendar. I don't know why it's a bad thing to be a planner. I don't know why you think it's a bad thing for the president to be a planner when one of the big knocks against President Trump is he shows up and just does whatever he wants to do at any given day from the White House and sends the rest of the Republican Party reeling behind him.

I do -- like I don't see this as the leading attack from Joe Biden.

KEILAR: Especially women have been huge recently in elections. This -- I mean, Joe Biden just ruled out women for Biden this week, right? He's trying to win over women.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It doesn't do him any favors to dismiss Elizabeth Warren's ability to get things done. And when people make this attack against her because Mayor Pete Buttigieg said something along similar lines in recent weeks that he is more outcomes-oriented, not goals-oriented, it overlooks the fact that she actually did play a critical role in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, seeing that could be a very tumultuous battle with respect to Congress and Wall Street. And so it's not like she hasn't done anything in terms of her political career. She's someone who actually does come with a great deal of experience.

I think what Biden is doing, although perhaps not going about it the right way, is trying to push this idea of pragmatic progressivism. That's something Obama did too to try to fend off these attacks from people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, that they hadn't met the ideals of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

But to David's point, just make your case on the merits. You don't have -- because, frankly, if you look at also the polarization of our politics right now, there is no indication that Joe Biden would be any more capable of getting his agenda through a divided Congress with respect to Elizabeth Warren. You can make the same case on either side of the --

KEILAR: He's trying to protect himself, Kylie, in a primary election here where a lot of voters want these very big, bold proposals. And what Joe Biden -- I mean what you've sort of heard from his camp is he is proposing stuff that can actually get done. But that's a little different in the language than what we're hearing from him.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: And we'll see if he's delivering this line now and seeing if he's getting some reaction to it, maybe he is getting ready for the debate and wanting to roll out some more aggressive though kind of veiled lines of attack on people. We'll see how that plays out on the debate stage because it would be interesting and it would be a new tactic for him because he has largely kind of have been the grandfather of the party and stepped back and tried to not allow himself to get too aggressive with either candidates.

MURRAY: Maybe to test-drive some other options.

KEILAR: Because, David Swerdlick, you said, it smacked of --

SWERDLICK: Well, smacked of -- yes, sexism.

KEILAR: Sorry, guys.

SWERDLICK: Just an undertone, but it's unmistakable.

KEILAR: The undertones matter. You guys, thank you so much, great conversations.

Stay with CNN for a groundbreaking event in the presidential race. We're partnering with the Human Rights Campaign, hosting the 2020 Democrats as they discuss issues facing the LGBTQ community. This is a night of back-to-back town halls beginning tomorrow at 7:30 Eastern.

And just ahead, as President Trump rejects any blame for Turkey's new offensive against U.S. allies, we'll go live to Syria where CNN is the only American television network on the frontlines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

KEILAR: Tonight, as President Trump is rejecting any blame for Turkey's new offensive in Syria, we are getting breaking news from the frontlines. Kurdish-led forces say a prison holding ISIS detainees has been hit with an airstrike.

Let's go to CNN Chief International Correspondent, Clarissa Ward, the only journalist with an American network on the ground in Northern Syria.

Clarissa, what you know from where you are.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So we really have a very limited picture of what exactly is going on. But according to the spokesperson, Mustafa Bali of the SDF, which is basically the Kurdish-led fighting forces in this part of the country, he says that a prison in the town of Qamishli was hit by either an air strike or artillery. It's not quite clear which. It's not clear the extent to which the prison has been damaged or whether any ISIS fighters have been able escape as a result.

But certainly, Brianna, this is exactly the sort of concern that people have, that once the airstrikes start pouring down, once sort of ground operations really begin in earnest and Syrian-Kurdish fighters are forced to go and take to the frontline, that there will be a power vacuum, a security vacuum.

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Those prisons can either get hit. They can be abandoned. And that opens up the possibility of ISIS fighters escaping.

Meanwhile, though, we are hearing that the U.S. is now saying that the two infamous so-called Beatles ISIS members who were known for their notorious torturing and execution of Western hostages here in Syria, they have actually been transferred from Kurdish custody to U.S. custody. That's because they're expected to be taken back to the U.S. to face trial for their crimes.

Having said that, though, Brianna, there are still some 12,000 ISIS fighters here, a very real threat and a very real concern that this Turkish military operation could jeopardize some of the gains that have been made in that fight against ISIS, Brianna. BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And President Trump just asked about the

possibility of ISIS prisoners escaping, and this is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: What if some of these fighters escape and pose a threat elsewhere?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, they're going to be escaping to Europe. That's where they want to go. They want to go back to their homes. But Europe didn't want them from us. We could have given it to them, they could have had trials, they could have done whatever they wanted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Clarissa, what's your reaction to that?

WARD: You know, I'm a little confused as to exactly what the president is talking about. I'm assuming he is referring potentially to the 2,000 or so foreign fighters of which a number of them are, in fact, European citizens and have had their citizen ship revoked because European nations really don't want the deal with them essentially. But as to the issue of whether this is somehow a European problem or not the U.S.'s problem or the U.S. is somehow abdicated from any responsibility in dealing with all of this given that the U.S. was leading the charge in the fight against ISIS, it's a little hard to understand what the president is trying to convey here, Brianna.

KEILAR: Clarissa Ward in northern Syria, thank you.

Just ahead, former NBC "Today" show host Matt Lauer responds to new sexual assault allegations.

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KEILAR: Tonight, new allegations against former "Today" show host Matt Lauer two years after NBC fired for sexual misconduct.

CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter is joining us now on this story.

And Lauer is now accused of rape and he's responding, Brian.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, by denying that accusation, but this is extraordinary that two years after Lauer was fired for what at the time we were told was inappropriate sexual behavior at the workplace, now, the woman who made the complaint that led to his firing is coming forward for the first time. And she's speaking in a book by Ronan Farrow. It comes out next week. It's called "Catch and Kill".

I obtained an early copy, and in the book, the woman named Brooke Nevils says that when she was in Sochi, Russia, covering the 2014 Winter Olympics with Lauer, with NBC, Lauer was drinking with her at a hotel bar. They had a long night and they went up to his room and she didn't think anything inappropriate would happen and that is where she was raped by Matt Lauer. She says they continued to have a consensual sexual relationship later, but that this night in Sochi, Russia, was nonconsensual.

Here's a part of what she said in the book, saying, quote: It was not consensual in the sent that I was too drunk to consent. She says, afterward, it hurt so bad. I remember thinking is this normal? She says back in her room, she threw up and she bled for days.

Matt Lauer is staunchly denying ever attacking anyone, ever forcing anyone to have sex with him. Here's part of his statement, saying this relationship with Brooke Nevils was entirely consensual. He says that in Sochi, this was the beginning of our affair. It was the first time, but this went on several times back in New York City over the next several months. Lauer says: At no time during or after her multiple visits to my apartment did she express in words or actions any discomfort with being there with our affair.

A very strong denial for Matt Lauer who went on to say he's never forced anyone to have sex with him, period. He is admitting to numerous extra marital affairs, but saying he's never assaulted anyone.

Meanwhile, some of the female co-hosts of the "Today" show, including his former colleagues like Ann Curry an Savannah Guthrie seem to believe Brook Nevils, and all this playing out two years after Lauer was fired.

KEILAR: And what is NBC News saying about this?

STELTER: Certainly, NBC is in a lot of scrutiny about who knew what, when? Did management know about these alleged incidents with Lauer, either the harassment of women, having extramarital affairs with colleagues or in this case, a rape allegation? What we know is that Brooke Nevils did not use the word "rape" when she went to NBC in 2017 and made this complaint.

However, she says she told a lot of people in NBC about her experiences with Lauer. So, it remains an open question and Ronan Farrow has some damning charges in this book coming out next week.

KEILAR: All right. Brianna Stelter, thank you so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

KEILAR: Just ahead, breaking news on a deadly shooting near a synagogue. It apparently was live streamed and seen by thousands of people.

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[18:59:00] KEILAR: Breaking news on a deadly shooting near a German synagogue during the Yom Kippur holy day. Two people were killed when a gun fired shots outside of the synagogue and then into a nearby kebab shop. A suspect has been arrested in what German authorities are describing as an anti-Semitic attack.

Officials say the suspect recorded a video of his rampage as it happened, live streaming it to more than 2,000 viewers before it was taken down. They say he briefly launched into an anti-Jewish rant on the video, claiming the Holocaust never happened.

And tonight in northern California, 750,000 homes and businesses can soon be without power as the state's largest utility company tries to prevent a deadly wildfire. PG&E says the unprecedented move is trying to prevent from downed fire lines from sparking fires during extremely windy and dry conditions. More than 30 counties could be affected. Officials say residents could be without power for up to seven days and as news spread of this preemptive shutoff, residents stockpiled water and other essentials before stores closed and schools cancelled classes.

I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Wolf Blitzer. Thank you so much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

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