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THE SITUATION ROOM

NYT: Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Says Trump Wanter Her Removed and Blames "Unfounded and False Claims" About Her; Wolf One- on-One with Former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice; Trump won't Say if Giuliani is Still His Personal Attorney; President Donald Trump Hammers Adam Schiff For The Parody That He Did; Turkey Expands Its Military Offensive Against The Kurds, U.S. Forces In Syria; Wildfire Happening in Los Angeles. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 11, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:14]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news.

Ukraine clouds. The controversies are deepening as President Trump's ousted ambassador fires back. Testifying in the impeachment inquiry and reportedly telling lawmakers the president wanted her out based on lies.

Taxed out. President Trump loses his appeal to stop a House sub- committee -- a House subpoena I should say of his tax documents from his long-term accounting firm as judges in four other cases also rule against the Trump administration. Will the president appeal?

Rudy off duty? Has President Trump distanced himself from Rudy Giuliani following the arrest of two of his associates. CNN has learned the president is voicing doubts about Giuliani's ability to defend himself in the impeachment inquiry. And now there are new issues around another lawyer hired as impeachment counsel.

And fire and ash. A wind whipped wildfire is burning out of control in Los Angeles forcing 100,000 people to flee. Tonight, the flames are rapidly spreading and red flag warnings have been extended.

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news. New details of testimony by the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine in the House impeachment inquiry. Marie Yovanovitch has been talking to lawmakers behind closed doors for hours. Telling them that President Trump wanted her removed based on unfounded and false claims about her. That is according to a copy of her opening statement obtained by the "New York Times." And the Democratic chairman of three House committees says she's appearing before the committee saying they had to subpoena her after the White House and the State Department told her not to testify.

We'll talk about that and much more with the former Obama National Security adviser, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go straight to Capitol Hill. Our congressional correspondent Sunlen Serfaty is on the scene for us. What are you picking up, Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is certainly a significant moment in the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, now appearing on Capitol Hill behind closed doors with lawmakers on those top three committees investigating President Trump, now going on for six hours. And this all came together after considerable behind the scenes drama. Some speculation whether she would or would be blocked in her ability to appear on Capitol Hill today. Three committees investigating and issuing a statement this afternoon saying that she was blocked by the State Department, they say at the direction of the White House from appearing and that issued -- that caused them to issue a subpoena at the last minute this morning to allow her to compel her in fact to testify this morning.

Now, inside of the room she is, according to lawmakers and excerpts obtained from "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times," really laying out how she saw the circumstances of her abrupt ouster earlier this spring from her post in Ukraine. She says that she believes that this came out because of pressure from the president. She believes she was removed because of something of a smear campaign going on behind the scenes about her. A campaign that she said is made up of, quote, "unfounded and false claims by people," she says with clearly questionable motives. That is according to her reference to President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his hands in all of this.

Now this happens as -- as of this moment, that House Democrats, the entire House Democratic caucus are on a conference call this afternoon to plot out their next steps in the impeachment probe in advance of a huge week next week on Capitol Hill with many depositions already on the schedule and in advance of that conference call, the House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff telling his colleagues he believes that they are making progress in this impeachment probe promising more witnesses potentially even more subpoenas. Wolf, he says they are now moving with urgency.

BLITZER: The drama is only just beginning. Sunlen Serfaty, we'll get back to you. Thank you very much. Marie Yovanovitch's testimony comes as the president is facing multiple legal setbacks and growing concerns about his lawyers. Our White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is working that part of the story for us. Kaitlan, what is the latest? What are you learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president has seen several legal setbacks today and of course that comes with this drama as Sunlen just laid out of the former ambassador to Ukraine on Capitol Hill offering this scathing review of President Trump and his State Department and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who the president has questions about on his own.

[17:05:08]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- for China.

COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight President Trump is taking blows from both Congress and the courts. But in front of the cameras, he didn't want to talk about either.

TRUMP: In respect to China and to the Vice Premier, we're going to only ask questions -

COLLINS: The former ambassador to Ukraine is accusing him of personally pushing her out.

An appeals court ruled his accountant must turn over his financial records to Congress. And as he's facing an impeachment inquiry, today he denied bringing up Joe Biden with the Chinese.

TRUMP: I have not brought up Joe Biden. China can do whatever they want with respect to the Bidens.

COLLINS: The president making those comments as CNN has learned he's now having doubts about his chief defender.

RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Everything I did was to defend my client.

COLLINS: Sources say Rudy Giuliani is still the president's attorney. But after two of his associates were arrested on campaign finance charges, there are growing concerns he's a political and potentially legal liability. Questions Trump himself has raised privately.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you concerned that Rudy Giuliani could be indicted in all of this?

TRUMP: Well, I hope not. Again, I don't know how he knows these people.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They're his clients.

TRUMP: What?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They're his clients.

TRUMP: OK, well then they're clients. I mean he has got a lot of clients.

COLLINS: Sources say Trump has concerns about Giuliani's involvement in the alleged crime of his two clients. Efforts to replace him as Trump's legal mouth piece were already underway this week. But hit an unexpected snag.

TRUMP: I just heard Trey Gowdy can't start until sometime after January because of the lobbying rules and regulations.

COLLINS: That announcement prompted a sigh of relief from those inside of the West Wing who didn't want the former congressman on team Trump, but not for those forced to defend his actions.

REP. CORY GARDNER (R-CO): I've answered your question.

COLLINS: Like Cory Gardner, a vulnerable Republican senator from Colorado who yesterday refused to answer whether it is appropriate to ask a foreign power to investigate your domestic rival.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But you're not answering the question. We want to hear from you. You're a smart guy. You know the debate.

GARDNER: This is about the politics of the moment.

COLLINS: As Trump's attorney looks to hire more lawyers, the president is serving as his own attack dog.

TRUMP: He was only a good vice president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama's ass.

COLLINS: Going after the Biden family in his most personal attacks yet in Minnesota Thursday night. Turning the former vice president's son into a campaign prop.

TRUMP: Where is Hunter? OK -- where is Hunter? I want to see Hunter -- Hunter, you know nothing about energy. You know nothing about China. You know nothing about anything frankly. Hunter, you're a loser.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Wolf, the president just spoke with reporters on the south lawn and said something incredibly revealing in what he didn't say when he was asked if Rudy Giuliani is still his personal attorney. The president said, quote, I don't know. That is what he told reporters and that follows that CNN reporting that the president was expressing doubts about Giuliani. He said he spoke with him yesterday. He said he's a good lawyer but, Wolf, he won't say if he is still representing him.

BLITZER: Pretty shocking stuff. Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.

And joining us now, Susan Rice, the former National Security adviser to President Obama, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and the author of a brand-new book entitled "Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For." There it is. Susan, thanks very much for coming in.

SUSAN RICE, FORMER OBAMA NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Great to be with you.

BLITZER: Thanks for writing this book. It is very personal and we'll get to that in a little while. But you served clearly as the National Security adviser to President Obama. When you see these new details emerging involving Rudy Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine, what goes through your mind?

RICE: It is mind-boggling, Wolf. I mean we're trying to piece together things that are coming to us hour-by-hour now -- new information. We don't know the extent to which what we're seeing is on the one hand the president seeking to use his leverage as commander-in-chief to withhold assistance from the Ukrainian government for his political benefit, whether that is what this is about or also about and it increasingly appears it is about financial gain for Giuliani and his associates and some potentially illegal campaign contributions. So this is getting thicker by the minute.

BLITZER: The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, she testified today behind closed doors but they released her statement and she said that President Trump personally pushed her out as the U.S. ambassador and she said based on false claims by people with clearly questionable motives. And some of the people now have been indicted. So what does that say to you?

RICE: Well, Wolf, I've served two presidents and as you know the last one as National Security adviser. I've never known of a president getting personally involved in the removal of a career foreign service officer serving as an ambassador.

[17:10:04]

So what it says to me is there is something very strange going on. The president shouldn't be taking a personal interest in this sort of anti-corruption endeavor, which is the work of the United States, what we're supposed to do.

BLITZER: The president clearly had more confidence in Rudy Giuliani who wanted her out than this career diplomat.

RICE: Yes and the message that sends to all of our career diplomats who are serving in difficult places around the world often in harm's way as you know is that they don't have the backing of the State Department and the president and nothing could be more detrimental to our interest.

BLITZER: There is a crisis going on with Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States. The White House is now threatening Turkey with sanctions if its assault on the Kurds continue. Will this have an impact, the threat of sanctions on Turkey as we go forward? Will they stop going after the Kurds in Syria?

RICE: Well, I don't know what the Turks are supposed to understand from this administration. On the one hand President Trump very clearly gave them a green light to go into Turkey. With military personnel and took them out of harm's way, refused to offer air support and cover to the Kurds when they were under attack and now we're punishing the Turks for doing exactly what we gave them the green light to do. It is head-spinning. And it makes me wonder what on earth the president agreed with Erdogan in the first place to enable this to happen.

BLITZER: You've heard the president in recent days saying it was a mistake for President Obama to align the United States with the Kurds, knowing that would lead to issues with Turkey. You're shaking your head? RICE: I'm shaking my head for two reasons. One, it was actually very smart for the United States and we started this under President Obama to learn the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan which is that we could fight terrorism effectively with local partners when the United States provides them with training, equipment and support. Rather than putting tens of thousands of Americans servicemen and women on the ground in combat. That worked. This method of fighting ISIS succeeded and we managed the relationship with Turkey such that we didn't have this kind of bust up.

So diplomacy and effort, engagement -- yes, the Turks had their issues but the Turks could have stopped ISIS at their border before they -- many of them moved into Syria. They chose not to. So for President Trump to pretend that Turkey is a reliable partner to take on ISIS is strange credulity.

BLITZER: At a political rally last night the president of the United States really went after the Somali refugee community in Minnesota, which is a significant community. These refugees came to the United States, they've re-settled in Minneapolis and in that area. Listen to what the president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: For many years leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers.

Since coming into office, I have reduced refugee resettlement by 85 percent.

If Democrats were ever to seize power, they would open the flood gates to unvetted, uncontrolled migration at levels you have never seen before.

In the Trump administration, we'll always protect American families first and that has not been done in Minnesota.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I ask you the question because I know and in your book "Tough Love" you write of your mother coming to the United States from Jamaica and your father's family descended of slaves.

RICE: Yes. Wolf, what the president did last night and what he seems to do almost every day is just ugly, ugly race-baiting and hate- mongering. There is no other term for it. What he basically was saying to that crowd is we're going to keep people of color out of this country. And so that your schools and your homes are essentially white. That is not who we are as America. We are a nation of immigrants. These refugees that come here are thoroughly vetted. They are here legally. They are contributing to our society just like generations of immigrants, my family on one side, yours and even the president's. But he's now slamming the door on legal, responsible immigration to this country and it is shameful. BLITZER: Pretty amazing that attack on these Somali refugees last night at that political rally. "Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For," people who buy this book and read this book, what do you hope they get out of it.

RICE: Well, I hope above all, Wolf, that as I tell my story serving this country under two presidents, keeping it safe, representing us to the world through the United Nations, I talk about my family. I talked about my upbringing. I talked about my service and the lessons that I've learned from all of that. And what I hope I can impart is something for anybody who wants to compete and thrive in unforgiving environments and if they've been knocked down to get back up. That's been my experience and what I've learned along the way has served me well.

[17:15:10]

BLITZER: The book is "Tough Love: My Story Of Things Worth Fighting For." The author, Susan Rice. Thank you so much for coming in.

RICE: Thank you, Wolf. Great to be with you.

BLITZER: Stay with us for much more on the breaking news. The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine slamming President Trump in testimony before lawmakers conducting the impeachment inquiry.

Plus the president's new concerns about his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:20]

BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories on what turned out to be a very bad day for President Trump. His administration lost not one or two, but five important court cases today. The president is expressing concerns about his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani's ties to Ukrainians and the president has also been harshly criticized by his former ambassador to Ukraine.

Let's get insight from our political, legal and national security experts. And Gloria, the president was just asked. He's talking to reporters on the south lawn of the White House as he's getting ready to board Marine One. He was asked by our Pamela Brown whether or not Rudy Giuliani is still his lawyer. Listen to his answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, I don't know. I haven't spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him yesterday briefly. He's a very good attorney and he has been my attorney, yes, sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He has been my attorney. And he said I don't know if he's still my attorney. GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know. As in the past. He has been my attorney but I would also say that Michael Warren who works for us just texted with Rudy Giuliani and asked him, are you still the president's attorney and the answer was yes. So as of this moment, he's still the attorney. But he's sort of half way off the bus at this -- under the bus at this point I would have to say.

BLITZER: Why does this sound familiar to me, Jeffrey, that the president seems to be backing away from his personal attorney.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, because virtually every person in the administration except those he's related to and Kellyanne Conway has turned over since over these two and a half years. And you know he's had more turnover than virtually any -- any president in history and including on his legal team. I mean, John Dowd was gone. Mark Kasowitz is gone. You know Rudy came in.

But look, Rudy is in a very perilous situation at the moment. You know these two close associates are now facing trial for activities that Rudy appears to be at least a witness involved in. And you know that creates all sorts of difficulties. I mean you know Rudy is now in a situation where if he's mart he's taking care of his own legal situation first and then worrying about his clients.

BORGER: And was he paid by two those gentlemen or one of those two gentlemen who are now accused of serious campaign --

BLITZER: And if he was paid, Jeffrey, how much was he paid? I assume all of that is going to come out?

TOOBIN: And by whom? I mean that indictment is extremely suggestive of lots of other activity involving the people who were trying to influence Ukrainian policy in the United States. These two are accused of illegal activities. They work closely with Rudy Giuliani. What was his involvement? Did he receive any money? What was his real agenda? Did he -- who did he speak to? Did he speak to the president about these people? What was the relationship between these people and the president? The president says he doesn't remember. The president says he takes pictures with a lot of people. There are some reports that he has had - that these people had dinner with the president. That is a lot harder to forget than just a random picture. I don't know what the truth is but all of it needs investigation.

BLITZER: Second day in a row we haven't heard, Sean Turner, a ringing endorsement, a vote of confidence expressed by the president towards Rudy Giuliani.

SHAWN TURNER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR U.S. NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Yes, and you know one of the things that is really striking here is that you know the president is used to having fixers and of course Michael Cohen is serving time right now for being the president's fixer and then you had Rudy Giuliani come along and as much as Rudy Giuliani liked to beat up Michael Cohen, he kind of filled that role. But it got too close to the president and too public and I think that we're going to find is that the president and Rudy Giuliani still needed things done that they couldn't do themselves. That couldn't be done out in public. And I think these individuals are going to be the kind of people who we're going to find kind of did that kind of unsavory kind of work for Rudy Giuliani and we'll find out. We don't know the answer but perhaps even for the president that we just don't talk about. So I think that the president wants to distance himself from Rudy Giuliani right now because the wolves are circling.

BLITZER: You know, Samantha, you know the ambassador - former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, her deposition behind closed doors in the House of Representatives is continuing, it's been going on for hours and hours and hours. How damaging potentially is what she's saying to the president and Rudy Giuliani?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, this circles back to Rudy Giuliani. I mean these two individuals gave reportedly illegal campaign donations but they also hadn't asked. They wanted Ambassador Yovanovitch recalled from her post.

[17:25:04]

BLITZER: The two individuals who were fired -- who were arrested --

BORGER: Indicted.

BLITZER: They've been arrested and indicted.

VINOGRAD: They wanted Yovanovitch recalled and guess what, Ambassador Yovanovitch was recalled. So it appears that Rudy Giuliani was successful in delivering for the Ukrainians and getting ambassador Yovanovitch recalled from her post. And what this says, Wolf, from a broader perspective is that the president has really been using a coterie of people, both Rudy Giuliani, his private investigator, and people with a foreign policy-sounding title like ambassador or something like that to do his political dirty work and we have one ambassador testifying today, we have several more scheduled next week. And all roads lead back to Rudy and for President Trump right now, he can take the Michael Cohen route and say this guy did it without me. But these ambassadors particularly Ambassador Sondland are going to know how closely President Trump was working with Rudy Giuliani on Ambassador Yovanovitch being recalled to Washington and the security system.

BORGER: Well, you know, and we reported last week that the president had a meeting with you know, with the Energy secretary, with Sondland, with Volker and said to them, they had just come back from the inauguration. They're all pumped about how great Zelensky was going to be. And the president said to them, well I'm not for sure. You've got to talk to Rudy. So Rudy Giuliani is key here.

BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, I want you -

(CROSSTALK)

Hold on. Let me just get Jeffrey to weigh in on that specific point. Go ahead, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, it is just you know he is a witness now in many different parts of this investigation. And one of the bedrock principles of being a lawyer is that you can't be both a lawyer and a witness and he's I think going to have to decide or the president may decide for him that it is time for him to be a witness. Not to be a lawyer. But it is an untenable situation to be both.

BLITZER: Shawn, go ahead.

TURNER: Yes, Wolf, I was going to add that you know one of the things we just can't underestimate is how important it is that Ambassador Yovanovitch defied the White House and going to testify today. You know there are a lot of career civil servants who for a long time have been watching what has been happening in this White House and with this administration and they certainly had concerns about what they were seeing. And sometimes what they need in that case is they just need a catalyst. They need a leader to step forward and have the courage to go up and say what is going on.

And so, you know the fact that she's had the courage to do that, we'll have to watch very closely to see what happens but you know she's putting her career on the line. She's certainly risking retribution but I think it's going to open the door for those other people out there who have been reticent to come forward because we know they're out there and we know they have concerns.

BLITZER: Yes, she's one tough, very courageous woman, this ex-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Everybody stick around. We're following all the breaking news and there is lots. We'll be right back.

[17:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:32:50] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We are back with our experts and analysts.

And Gloria, the President is still hammering Adam Schiff for the parody that he did earlier involving the phone conversation with the President had with the president of Ukraine. But listen to the President yesterday at the White House and then in a political rally, what he said about Adam Schiff and his own way inventing a conversation. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is Adam Schiff took that conversation before he saw it and fabricated a conversation. To me that's criminal. What he did is criminal.

Peter Strzok -- remember he and his lover Lisa Page. She is going to win. Ten million to one she's going to win. I'm telling you, Peter. I'm telling you, Peter, she's going to win. Oh, I love you so much. I love you Peter. I love you too, Lisa. I love you. Lisa, Lisa, oh, god I love you Lisa. And if she doesn't win, Lisa, we got an insurance policy, Lisa. We will get that son of a bitch out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, if only he didn't have the nuclear codes, seriously.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, seriously. Look, he railed against Adam Schiff. He said what Adam Schiff did was criminal.

BLITZER: And should be impeached.

BORGER: And should be impeached for it. And it was a parody. But it wasn't any kind of a parody if that is what you would call this -- I don't even know if I could call it a parody, display, shameless, ridiculous display that we saw at his rally about two people who had served their government. Two people from the FBI whose affair has now blown out in the open and this is a president now -- a president, making fun of them months and months and months after the Mueller investigation. I mean, it is just kind of --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Can I just say? You know who used to be president of the United States? George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, you know, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and this man. And this man and that's how he behaved.

[17:35:07] BORGER: Well, it is not funny.

TOOBIN: We need to put this in a time capsule to remind people about what this moment in American history is like.

VINOGRAD: But we also have to keep in mind --

BLITZER: Hold on.

VINOGRAD: This is his defense strategy. Nothing about what he is saying is actually accurate but it also has nothing to do with the fact that he is accused -- him, Donald Trump, not Adam Schiff -- of gross abuse of power and potentially illegal behavior. To when he is under the limelight what does he do, he points the finger at someone else and tried to distract the public so that we start to tweeting about, we start talking about it. The fact of the matter is he is under an impeachment inquiry. He is being investigated for his own misconduct and we should just expect more of this going forward.

BLITZER: Shawn, go ahead.

SHAWN TURNER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: And, you know, in addition to what Sam said, he's also being facilitated, you know, by all the people out there who support the President who refuse to speak up and say to him, this is wrong. You should not do this. All of those -- all of those presidents that Jeffrey listed, not only would they not behave that way but if they had behave this way, you know, that they would have been held accountable. So this is -- this is completely inappropriate behavior on the part of the President. And I think, you know, what we are watching him unravel and spiral live on television every time he is speaking.

BORGER: But he's an entertainer and he thinks this is entertainment. That is sad part.

VINOGRAD: Right.

BORGER: That is the sad part.

TOOBIN: Ronald Reagan was an entertainer too.

BORGER: Exactly. But he would have never done that.

TOOBIN: He didn't behave like that.

BORGER: Of course not.

TOOBIN: No one behaved like that.

BORGER: Of course not.

BLITZER: What happens, Jeffrey, a legal question, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the two Rudy Giuliani associates who were arrested and indicted yesterday, they are facing potentially five years in jail and enormous fines. What happens if they flip and cooperate with the attorney for the southern district of New York.

TOOBIN: Well, it depends on what they know. I mean, you know, I don't want to presume what they know. But what is interesting if you read that indictment, you know, it is not just a campaign finance violation. There are two counts of 18 USC section 371 which is conspiracy which is a considerably more important charge. So they are looking at prison time. And so there will certainly be incentive for them to flip. I don't want to get too far ahead of things but it is also potential that they may have information that may cause the justice department to seek a special counsel. And you know, that may be a whole other possibility to consider. But you know, they are going to be --, you know, they are in serious trouble. You don't get indicted or pick people out of the phone book to get indicted. And it is going to be a very interesting set of circumstances as their case proceeds.

BORGER: You know, and I'm not a lawyer but maybe you could answer this, Jeffrey, but you know, the question to me is were they ready to indict them? I mean, it is clear they were leaving the country. So they decided OK we have to --

VINOGRAD: There is going to be a superseding indictment. BORGER: Could there be more. We say Rudy Giuliani's name was not

mentioned in this, et cetera. But could this only be half of what they have.

TOOBIN: It is possible. Although if you read that indictment, that indictment was not drawn up in a day.

BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: You can -- you can -- and also it was an indictment. The grand jury had already spoken. If you want to arrest someone just to keep them from leaving the country, you could do what is called a complaint as opposed to an indictment. In indictment, you have go to a grand jury, present evidence to a grand jury. So that case was in works for a time. You know, whether there are other charges, I don't know. But these are bad enough.

BLITZER: Yes. Because this is the 21-page sealed indictment. It was unsealed obviously, the United States of America versus Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman and two others and it signed by the U.S. attorney for the southern direct of New York, Jeffrey Berman who was nominated, who was named by the President. So it is hard to say this is the deep state that is working against the President.

TOOBIN: It's going to be a tough call. To say that this --. And you know, this is the justice department run by that notorious resistance leader William Barr, too.

BLITZER: Yes. They have to sign off on all of this as well.

Stick around. There is more breaking news. A very close call for U.S. troops in Syria as the Turks continue their military offensive against the Kurds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:44:00] BLITZER: More on the breaking news as Turkey expands its military offensive against the Kurds, U.S. forces in Syria apparently came very close to being hit by Turkish artillery fire.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Barbara, what are your sources telling you.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, good evening. This happened earlier today in northern Syria near Kobani where U.S. special forces had been located for sometime.

Apparently, according to first reports, the U.S. military is looking at a Turkish artillery round landed several hundred meters from an out post where U.S. special forces were located. When that round hit the U.S. forces immediately moved to a nearby headquarters where there were more forces for their protection.

Now the Turks have issued a entertainment acknowledging that this happened and saying that they stopped firing once they realized U.S. forces were there. It remains potentially an open question whether the Turks did it deliberately or not to try and push U.S. forces out. For now senior U.S. military commanders believe the Turks did not deliberately target the U.S. but that perhaps this was a targeting mistake. A failure of precision targeting by the Turks. Because we know that the Turks had been informed by the Pentagon where all U.S. forces are located inside Syria. We also know now that as the fighting accelerates the U.S. military does have an emergency evacuation plan for all 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria to get them out of there very quickly if it did come to that -- Wolf.

[17:45:36] BLITZER: Another big story today, Barbara. The Pentagon announcing a new troop deployment, U.S. forces heading to Saudi Arabia. What are you learning?

STARR: In the last several weeks including about 1800 troops today, there is now an additional 3,000 troops headed toward Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon says this is all part of the plan to deterred Iran from further aggression after that major attack on Saudi oil fields -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, we will watch all of this with you. Thank you.

The breaking news continues next. The very latest on the wildfire burning out of control in Los Angeles threatening thousands of homes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:51:07] BLITZER: We are following breaking news in Los Angeles where wildfire in the northern part of the county is burning out of control forcing about 100,000 people to flee.

Our national correspondent Sara Sidner is on the scene for us.

Sara, hot dry winds there clearly fanning the flames.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It is very dry. It is very warm. And the winds, the Santa Ana winds that everyone gets used at this time of year are really kicking up the flames.

Now you can see the house behind me is a house that was destroyed. But the firefighters have been doing incredible work here. If you look to my right you can see all the houses that have been saved because of air drops and because of men on the ground trying to knock the flames down.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Holy (bleep) right now. How is the freeway not closed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That car is so close to that fire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God.

SIDNER (voice-over): The fire burned so furiously people here in porter ranch say they had no time to think, only time to run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a scream like I never heard before. My dad said it's in our backyard, it's in our backyard but in a way I never heard him scream before.

SIDNER: When you hear your father screaming like that, what did you see when you looked out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I looked out, looked into my backyard and I saw the flames and I saw how close it was. My number one instinct wasn't to grab any clothes or anything but it was to get my little brother and little sister who were asleep at the time.

SIDNER: So far flames have devoured two dozen homes but the concern things could get worse. The wind is so fast and the humidity is solo low, the embers are being scorn (ph) all over the place here Porter Ranch forcing firefighters to try to put out fires out in many, many different spots.

Two fires have been burning, one burn through a mobile home community in (INAUDIBLE) overnight, leaving one person dead and two missing. And tonight another fire is burning in Porter Ranch, a sprawling community in the hills, creating chaos and heart break.

FLOR VILLALTA, RESIDENT: I was just crying because I mean, our house is gone because if you can see if it passes that fence, that is it. Because I mean, I can see the flames is going higher and higher and closer. And then I said, oh, my God.

SIDNER: So far 100,000 people have been evacuated. In northern California, Pacific Gas and Electric has been shutting down power to thousands of homes. The company said it's trying to prevent electrical lines from sparking more blazes. The power lines were blamed for sparking ten fires this year and the campfire that devasted paradise last year.

The outages have surged anger in the north even as destructive fires have grown in the south this time. About 1,000 firefighters are on the scene trying to fight back against the blazes from the ground and the air but they worry they may not be winning.

CHIEF RALPH TERRAZAS, LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPARTMENT: This is a very dynamic fire. Do not wait to leave. If we ask you to evacuate, please evacuate.

MOJGAN DARABI, RESIDENT: I'm so worried. I'm worried about everybody.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: And this is exactly what folks like her, residents, are worried about, coming home to see something like this or being in the home when the fire comes up. And I should mention this fire is 13 percent contained, about 7,500 acres and they are still battling the fire fiercely. More evacuations in the last half an hour have been announced -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right, Sara, we will stay in touch with you as well.

Thank you.

The breaking news continues next, President Trump's ousted ambassador to the Ukraine testifies in the impeachment inquiry over White House and state department's objections. Tonight we are getting new details what she told lawmakers.

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[17:59:43] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news.

Distancing Rudy. President Trump is now hedging about whether his personal lawyer still works for him. Are Rudy Giuliani's days in Mr. Trump's inner circled number after Giuliani's associates were indicted?

Accelerating impeachment, House Democrats say more crucial testimony is in the works tonight as the former ambassador to Ukraine appears before Congress and reportedly blames the President and Giuliani for pushing her out.

[18:00:00]