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Interview with Biden Campaign Senior Advisor; Turkish Incursion Begins in Syria; Transgender Murders on Rise as Supreme Court Hears Discrimination Case. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 10, 2019 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- this nation, and committed impeachable acts.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Notable, he says there at the end, impeach the president. This, after, yesterday, he directly called for the president to be impeached over the Ukraine controversy.

With me now to discuss this and a lot more is a senior advisor for Biden's campaign, Symone Sanders. So nice to have you.


HARLOW: Thank you for being here. All right. Well, let's jump in here on "The New York Times." You guys are very frustrated with "The New York Times." You sent a letter to "The New York Times," basically calling their coverage of your candidate unfair. You say that they are, quote, "actively participating in a smear campaign."

The "Times" responded, standing by their coverage, and said they'd be happy to sit down with you guys.

SANDERS: And we have sat down with the "Times," Poppy. So we have been to the "Times'" offices, our deputy campaign manager, another one of our senior advisers, to talk about this coverage. And so the idea that we're just sending letters and not actively reaching out, actively inviting folks into our office to have off-the-records with us, is a little preposterous.

Look, our posture is this. That we -- our campaign is not going to allow a repeat of the coverage of 2016, and we don't think folks in the media should either. And we really wonder if "The New York Times" has learned their lesson. They put a Breitbart conspiracy theorist in the opinion pages of "The New York Times" the other day, to tout what has been known --

HARLOW: Peter Schweizer's op-ed.

SANDERS: -- yes. To be -- to tout known lies and conspiracy theories about Vice President Biden. That is not responsible coverage in this moment. HARLOW: All right. Let's talk about the issue at hand as it pertains

to Ukraine. There's a new "Fox News" poll out this morning that I know you've seen. And one of the questions in it asked voters if they're troubled by Biden and his son's dealings with Ukraine and China.

Let me note, there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden or Hunter Biden. That said, these are what the American people are saying. And if you add up those that say they are extremely, very or somewhat concerned about those dealings, that's 62 percent of Americans. So what do you make of that? And how will the campaign counter that with facts?

SANDERS: What I made of that is that the lies and the smears that the Trump campaign, the administration, Donald Trump himself, his henchmen, Rudy Giuliani have been putting out there in the atmosphere, they're muddying the waters a little bit. Which is why our campaign has been extremely aggressive on beating this back.

Look, these are -- I want to be very clear with folks. These are lies. These aren't just allegations, these are lies. There is no truth to what Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump are saying. There is no there, there.

Vice President Biden was acting on behalf of not just the United States government, with the full confidence of then-President Obama, but also the E.U., the IMF, the entirety of the West --

HARLOW: I think --

SANDERS: -- reformers in Ukraine. So there's just -- this is -- this is Donald Trump's playbook, though, Poppy.

HARLOW: -- people --

SANDERS: That's his playbook, and we're not going to play the game.

HARLOW: -- people should always take time to read full fact-checks of things. That said, I want to ask you about optics, and about ethics. I just want you to take a moment to listen to some of the responses from Biden's 2020 competitors in the Democratic primary, when they were asked about his son sitting on the board of a foreign company while he was vice president dealing with foreign policy in Ukraine. Here's just some of them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, if you're elected president, would you allow the son or daughter of your vice president to serve on the board of an oil company outside this country?


BETO O'ROURKE (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would not allow a family member, anyone in my cabinet, to have a family member to work in a position like that. JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: Senator Harris and

Congressman O'Rourke have both suggested that they would not be comfortable with the child of their vice president sitting on the board of a foreign company. Would you?



HARLOW: If former Vice President Joe Biden wins the primary, if he wins the general election, will something be different this time? Will he feel comfortable with any direct family member sitting on any foreign board?

SANDERS: Well, Poppy, you know Vice President Biden is out there, today, as you know. He's participating in the Human Rights Campaign forum. And I am 99 percent sure somebody might ask him this question today, so I'm not going to get out ahead -- in front of him. But --

HARLOW: That's interesting, you say he's going to make news on this today?

SANDERS: I'm not saying he's going to make news, but I'm saying that if someone asks him a question about his son, he absolutely will have an answer, as he's previously had.

And this is what we've said before, Poppy, is that Hunter Biden did nothing wrong. And we are not going to play this game with Donald Trump. This -- as though there's some -- there's some equivalency here, that there's some there, there. Especially when Donald Trump's children, who work in the administration, Poppy, are currently using their positions to --

HARLOW: I hear you on all (ph) --

SANDERS: -- profit. Hunter Biden -- this is what I want -- Hunter Biden is a private citizen. He is not an administration official, he was not an administration official. He doesn't work on our campaign. And this is sickening and it is disgusting.

The president, today, tweeted -- retweeted his son and tweeted about Hunter Biden. He's targeting a private citizen. If anyone thinks that this is just isolated to Joe Biden, if anyone thinks this is just about the Bidens, this could happen any -- anyone out there. And he should not be targeting a private citizen.

HARLOW: Given -- given your response mentioning the president's children and their work overseas, you -- it sounds like you're saying, no, it wouldn't happen again? Am I right to surmise that?


SANDERS: Poppy, what I'm saying is that there's nothing -- Hunter Biden didn't do anything wrong.



HARLOW: I'll let -- I'll let the vice president answer that question.

SANDERS: -- I just want to add, though, he didn't do anything wrong. And so this is not an instance where we have to make a course correction because something wrong happened.


SANDERS: He did nothing wrong. And I -- we stand by that. And --


SANDERS: -- every media outlet has supported that assertion.

HARLOW: We welcome the vice president on to talk to us any time. We love having you as well, but we'll see if he answers that question today, if he's asked.

Let's turn to the polling. Elizabeth Warren, you've got a new Quinnipiac poll out, she's got 29 percent support. The vice president has 26 percent. And in four of the last five national pools aggregated by RealClearPolitics, she's taking a larger share of the national primary vote than Joe Biden. What do you do about that?

SANDERS: Well, Poppy, we've always said this was going to be a fight. I don't think people believed us, but we sure did believe it. And we think it's, what, October at this point? And this is going to be a fight.

I think what the polls are demonstrating is that this election and this primary will not be over by Iowa or New Hampshire, that this is something that's going to go well into Super Tuesday.

HARLOW: So to that point, let's listen to what the vice president said yesterday. Some see it as a veiled swipe at Elizabeth Warren? I want to get your take. Let's play it.


BIDEN: Like JFK said when he spoke about taking America to the moon, he said, I am unwilling to postpone the work that has to be done. For America. America has enormous possibilities. They're limitless. I want to take that vision and, yes, take the plans and -- but that's not enough. It takes proven ability to get things done. We're not electing a planner.


HARLOW: Elizabeth Warren, I have a plan for that. Joe Biden, we're not electing a planner. Was he talking about her?

SANDERS: Well, Poppy, we're talking about anyone in this race who comes out with plans and ideas about how to get things done, but not necessarily --


HARLOW: Was he talking about Senator Warren?

SANDERS: -- but not -- but does not include how to pay for what you're going to do, or how you're going to execute that. And so that could apply to a number of folks in this race.

Look, we believe that Vice President Biden is the best person in this race to take on Donald Trump. We believe he will be the best Democratic nominee. And it's not because -- some people have asserted that -- we think it's going to take an old white man to beat another old white man, Poppy.

This is because he has proven his character, his record when it comes to health care, when it comes to fighting for real people, the Recovery Act. He has a proven track record in getting things done. And, frankly, that's what we're going to need.

And so as Democrats are taking their stock of the land and they're looking and the voters are trying to figure out who they're going to support --


SANDERS: -- we are very confident that Vice President Biden's record, but also his vision is going to shine through and, you know, will make him successful.

HARLOW: Final question on this. When it comes to African-American voters, he has consistently done very, very well. The new polling that I mentioned, the Quinnipiac poll, shows that Elizabeth Warren is gaining some ground. She's gone from 10 percent support among African-American voters, a month ago, to 20 percent support now. Why do you think that is?

SANDERS: I don't know, I think you'll have to ask Elizabeth Warren what they're doing. I will say this --

HARLOW: Why don't they both come on the show together?

SANDERS: -- we -- Poppy, look, we believe that --

HARLOW: I mean, you look at that, does it concern you?

SANDERS: We're not concerned. Because you know why? We are -- we knew this was going to be a fight, Poppy. I think people see the polls tightening a little bit, and they're worried. We're not worried at all because we absolutely believe that we're putting together -- we're putting forth a bold vision.

And what we're seeing out there on the ground, as we're connecting with voters, is that we're building a very strong and broad coalition. Look, 20 percent might sound cute, but it is going to take a broad coalition, Poppy, to win this nomination, but to also beat Donald Trump. Vice President Biden is the best-positioned to build and sustain that broad coalition.

HARLOW: Symone Sanders, so nice to have you.

SANDERS: Nice to see you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Come back. Thank you very much.

SANDERS: Yes, always.

HARLOW: We appreciate it.

The fourth Democratic presidential debate, it's coming up, live on CNN of course, in the battleground state of Ohio. Watch CNN and "The New York Times" presidential debate, Tuesday, October 15, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here.


We'll be right back.


HARLOW: In just a few minutes, the United Nations Security Council will be meeting behind closed doors to discuss what Turkey is doing, the military incursion into northern Syria.

This comes as Turkey's president, Tayyip Erdogan, is warning European countries not to criticize that operation against the Kurds, or threatening to send millions of refugees into Europe.

Nick Paton Walsh is live for us from the Turkey-Syria border. Nick, what are you seeing?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Around us here, you're seeing dusk falling, but also on black plumes of smoke along the skyline. This is the worst we've seen it since the Turkish incursion began. And also, too, it appears the Syrian Kurds, clearly seeing combat from (ph) the town of Tal Abyad. They used to hold behind us here, they are quite clearly under attack at the moment.

We continue to hear explosions. And about 20 minutes ago, I heard what sounded like heavy machine gun fire, further in the distance. Perhaps Turkish troops are making a move towards that town. We've seen, though, the Syrian Kurds respond in kind, it seems, with fire mortars landing inside this Turkish town of Akcakale, injuring six or seven, we heard from local officials.

We've also heard a statement saying that in this and another instance, a total of two people have in fact been killed by this fire. In fact, one rocket seems to have gone over our heads in the last hour, landing in a field not so far away from us.

But still, here, this is the scene of Tal Abyad, one of a number of towns that seem to be under attack. And I understand, from a U.S. official, their assessment of the scope of this Turkish operation is that it may well try and clear a stretch of land from here, all the way down to Ras al-Ain, further on the border, a two-hour drive away, which is potentially a weeks' if not months' long operation.


But President Erdogan, hearing international criticism from people you would normally expect to be friends of Turkey, on about, saying simply to the European Union, get your act together, stop calling this an invasion or we might send those 3.6 million Syrian refugees we're trying to re-house on that side of the border, towards Europe. Back to you.

HARLOW: Quite a threat. Nick, thank you very much. Reporting live for us on the border there.

Ahead for us, a disturbing rise in hate crimes against transgender Americans. Next, we meet one woman who was shot more than six times just because of her identity.



HARLOW: Right now, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments that could reshape the landscape of gender identity rights in the U.S. This comes as we are seeing a disturbing rise in hate crimes against the transgender community. This year alone, at least 18 transgender people have been murdered, many others injured.

Our Sara Sidner reports.



SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Daniela Calderon Rivera recounts the shots hitting her body. Six shots, each one riddling her with entry and exit wounds. Police say she was shot by a man who didn't know her. But she says he hated her because of who she is.

CALDERON RIVERA (thorough translator): He said, why is your voice deep?

I said, I'm transgender.

SIDNER (voice-over): She says her attacker thought she was a pretty girl. He wanted to pay her $80 for an hour of sexual acts. She agreed, it's how she makes a living.

SIDNER: What did he say to you?

CALDERON RIVERA (through translator): He said, today is the day you will die.

SIDNER (voice-over): She says she got away from him. He followed her in his red pickup. She hid in a store. She eventually headed to the bus stop. She had no idea he was hunting her. CALDERON RIVERA (through translator): He stopped and he started

shooting. One, two -- I don't want to remember this moment. This is the worst memory I will have for my entire life.

SIDNER (voice-over): Shot four times in the abdomen, the arm, the hip, she says she said her goodbyes, prayed to God, called out for her family and closed her eyes, waiting for the end.

But she survived. Police say they arrested her attacker, who confessed to shooting her because she was transgender.

SIDNER: The attack against Calderon, along this street, is just the latest in a string of attacks and killings of transgender people here in Dallas. One of the most brutal attacks was caught on camera.

SIDNER (voice-over): Blow after blow, the cell phone video reveals the brute force Muhlaysia Booker endured after being involved in a fender bender in Dallas. She survived this brutality. A month later, though, her mother was mourning her death from another attack.

Police made two arrests: one for the beating, another for the killing. The Human Rights Campaign says the number of transgender attacks in recent years is alarming. Booker was the 18th person identified as transgender to be killed in the U.S. this year, the majority of victims are black. Texas leads the nation in trans murders.

STACEY MONROE, TRANSGENDER ACTIVIST: The transgender community in Dallas is being attacked.

SIDNER (voice-over): Stacey Monroe became an activist because of her own struggles as a trans woman. She lives in greater fear now than ever.

MONROE: -- am I going to wake up to another killing, another attack? What's next?

SIDNER (voice-over): Monroe says the dangers for trans people have a lot to do with laws. She says she lost a job because she was trans. In Texas, that's legal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trans lives matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trans lives matter.

SIDNER (voice-over): The Supreme Court is currently taking up a case to decide whether gender identity is protected under the Civil Rights Act. Monroe says when she heard what happened to Calderon, she rushed to be by her side. But as they bonded, they learned the man suspected of shooting her was free after posting bail.

CALDERON RIVERA (through translator): In the moment, my biggest fear is that, soon, I will be out of this hospital but this person is also out. I'm afraid that he's going to finish what he started.

SIDNER (voice-over): Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Wow, such important reporting from Sara Sidner. Our thanks to her.

I do want to make an important note. Sara went to the last known address of the victim's accused attacker, trying to get comment. He did not answer the door or the phone when they called, and it's unclear whether he has a lawyer.

Well, tonight, CNN partners with the Human Rights Campaign to present a groundbreaking town hall event, "Equality in America." Join many of the 2020 Democratic candidates as they discuss issues facing the LGBTQ community in back-to-back town halls. They all start 7:30 p.m. Eastern, only right here on CNN, tonight.

A lot to track in the news today. Here's "What to Watch."

TEXT: What to Watch... Now: U.N. Security Council discusses Syria; 2:00 p.m. Dem donor Ed Buck arraigned on drug charge; 3:00 p.m. El Paso, TX Walmart shooter in court



HARLOW: All right. We are following a lot of breaking news this morning. Two associates of Rudy Giuliani, arrested, accused of violating campaign finance rules, so stay with us for that.

I'm Poppy Harlow. Jim and I will see you back here tomorrow morning. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" picks up after a quick break.