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Mike Pompeo's Warsaw Trip; Shepard Smith Abruptly Leaves Fox News; One Dead, Frantic Search For Missing After Hard Rock Collapse; Saddleridge Fire Forces 100,000 People To Leave Their Homes; Syrian Defector Reveals Atrocities Committed By Assad. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 12, 2019 - 20:00   ET



ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I am Alex Marquardt, in for Ana Cabrera.

Now, he is the other man at the center of the impeachment saga, the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Today, he told CNN that he's not aware of being under any sort of investigation, despite reports that federal prosecutors are looking closely at his work with Ukraine. That, of course, is the country where he was trying to dig up dirt on Joe Biden for his boss, the president. At one point, even President Trump seemed to be trying to distance himself from Giuliani. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Giuliani still your personal attorney?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.


MARQUARDT: Yes, sure. But now a bit more praise. Trump tweeting today of Giuliani, so now they are after the legendary crime buster and greatest mayor in the history of New York City, Rudy Giuliani. He may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and a wonderful lawyer.

Giuliani is also commenting tonight, or sorry claiming tonight, that he believes that he is the target of what he is calling a political attack.

But we should note that two associates of his who did help with that work in Ukraine have already been charged with campaign finance violations. And he is not alone in suddenly seeming to want to be evasive about ties to the former New York mayor.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke about his dealings with Rudy Giuliani, among many other things, in a series of local television interviews in Nashville, Tennessee. We should note this one, in particular. There was one journalist, Nancy Amons of CNN affiliate WSMV. She asked him very tough questions about the accusations made against the president and the dismissal of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Pompeo seemed caught off guard and, at one point, got angry enough to criticize the reporter. Here's a clip.


NANCY AMONS, JOURNALIST, WSMV-TV: Did you support ambassador -- the ambassador being recalled months before her tenure was up?

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I've supported every mission that the State Department has been engaged in and will continue to do that.

AMONS: In mid-February, you were in Warsaw and so was Rudy Giuliani. During your time there, did you meet with Giuliani?

POMPEO: You know, I don't talk about who I meet with. I went to Warsaw for a particular purpose. It was an important mission. We brought together people all across the world to take down the world's largest state-sponsored terror, the Islamic Republic of Iran. That's what I worked on on that mission.

AMONS: So, you're not going to say whether you met with him?

POMPEO: So, when I was in Warsaw, I had a singular focus. My focus was singularly on the work that we have done, effective work to recover from what the Obama administration has done which is to underwrite the world's largest state sponsor of terror. We have stopped that and we're making real progress.

AMONS: It sounds like you are not going to say.

POMPEO: When I was in Warsaw, we were working diligently to accomplish the mission to take down the terror regime that's inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. That's what I worked on. It was the only thing that I engaged in while I was there.

AMONS: OK. Text messages show that diplomats, under your authority, told the Ukrainians that a good relationship with President Trump was only possible if they investigated his political opponent and theories about what happened in 2016. Were you aware that this was happening?

POMPEO: Again, you've got your facts wrong. It sounds like you're working, at least in part, for the Democratic National Committee, when you phrase a predicate of a question in that way. It's unfortunate and does a real disservice to the employees and the team at the United States Department of State. Our team was incredibly focused. We wanted a good relationship with Ukraine. We wanted it before the election when Poroshenko (ph) was in charge. And we want it now with Mr. Zelensky in charge.

We have an important set of foreign policy interests in Ukraine. The threat from Russia is real. And this administration, unlike the previous one, has taken those responsibilities very seriously. Part of that, an incredibly important part of that, is making sure that corruption is weeded out at every level inside of Ukraine and our team, for the entire time I've been the Secretary of State, has been working on that project.


MARQUARDT: I want to dig into all of this with CNN's Senior Political Analyst, and senior editor for "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein; CNN Political Commentator, and senior columnist at "The Daily Beast," Matt Lewis; and former federal prosecutor, Gene Rossi. Gentlemen, thank you all for joining me tonight.

I want to go to you, Ron, first. We just played that clip of that interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Very testy. Rather cold body language. What was your reaction to it?


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the first thing was how much it reminded me of the clips that you have seen, and I have seen, and everyone has seen, of Republican senators over the last week, who have, in similar kind of interviews, done verbal backflips and, kind of, gymnastics to avoid answering whether they think it's appropriate for the president to seek a foreign government, pressure a foreign government to seek information on one of his political rivals. It was very similar to that.

And it goes to the challenge, I think Republicans are facing, as this goes on, which is that, although the American public is closely divided on whether they think this justifies President Trump's removal from office, there is, consistently, over 60 percent who say the underlying behavior was wrong. That it is not appropriate, in fact, to do exactly what the president did. And I think you saw the secretary of state, much like those Republican senators, squirming in every possible direction to avoid, kind of, dealing with the underlying behavior.

MARQUARDT: Right. The president is actually -- he is almost embracing this impeachment inquiry and using it to fire up his base. I mean, we saw him, just in the past few days, on the campaign trail, bringing it up in his speeches, talking about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Let's take a quick listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But he's totally owned and totally controlled by the Washington swamp for many years. Hunter, you know nothing about energy. You know nothing about China. You know nothing about anything, frankly. Hunter, you're a loser and your father was never considered smart. He was never considered a good senator. He was only a good vice president, because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama's ass.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MARQUARDT: Matt, Trump there railing on the Bidens. And, really, with more coming out in this impeachment inquiry every day, more details coming out about what the president sought to do in Ukraine, if he's up there reminding people, essentially, that he wanted help from a foreign country, is that an effective re-election tactic?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think it works for Donald Trump. Donald Trump has decided that he's not about persuasion. He is about changing narratives and exciting his base. And he's really good at that, right? And a lot of it's projection. He talks about Hunter Biden. But what about Donald Trump's own kids? He talks about a vice president who kisses up. Well, what about Mike Pence? Come on. He could win a record there.

But it works for Trump. The problem is when anybody else other than Trump, and we saw Pompeo in that video earlier, when anybody else other than Trump tries to defend the indefensible, it's really, really tough. Trump can -- Trump's the president. He's very subgenres (ph). He has the schtick. And, by the way, he was at a rally among supporters that probably vetted, to a certain degree. It's a lot harder when you're going up against a really good journalist and when you're a politician who maybe wants to have a future after Donald Trump.

MARQUARDT: Right. And the president is speaking again today, not quite at a rally but an event back in Washington. He was saying that he was going to consider legal action against members of Congress. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Adam Schiff made a statement, long, beautiful statement. And it was a fraud. He has to pay a big price. We're going to take a look at it. We're going after these people. These are bad, bad people. Sue them anyway even if we lose. The American public will understand. And sue Nancy Pelosi. Or maybe we should just impeach them, because they're lying. And what they're doing is a terrible thing for our country.


MARQUARDT: Well, members of Congress, as you all know, actually can't be impeached. But, Gene, what do you make of that threat to sue Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi? Putting politics aside, is there any actual legal standing there? Could -- can he do that?

GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No. I'm holding up the Constitution of the United States and there is something called the speech and debate clause and the first amendment. And I think the president of the United States should go back and read those, just like his White House counsel doesn't realize, that the House has the sole authority to conduct impeachment proceedings.

So, I think the president of the United States, he, obviously, didn't go to law school. But I think he needs to get better legal advisers. MARQUARDT: Well, his main legal adviser, at least on the personal

front, as you know, is Rudy Giuliani. And, Ron, our White House team is learning that Giuliani, at least for now, will remain his attorney. But he won't, apparently, handle Ukraine matters.


Given Giuliani's propensity to talk a lot, and talk about Ukraine, in particular, do you expect him, Ron, to stay quiet on that issue?

BROWNSTEIN: I think the question answers itself, right. I mean, the amazing thing about what we have seen over the last several months from Rudy Giuliani -- by the way, when the president was talking about them targeting the greatest mayor in New York history, I was thinking, immediately, of the fear out at LaGuardia somewhere is worried about getting indicted.

But the -- you know, the amazing thing about the Giuliani escapades, over the last several months, is just how open they have been, right. I mean, just the extraordinary kind of arrogance, I think, in both in the assumption the president will shield him and that there would be, kind of, this complacent Republican defense of it in Congress.

But, you know, when you are out mucking around looking for, trying to engage a foreign government, really, to entice them into interfering into the American election, when you are involved in trying to, potentially, cause the firing of an American ambassador, there is a lot of legal tripwires out there. And whatever else Rudy Giuliani was earlier in his career, there's a lot of evidence in the last year that he is no longer the care -- as careful a lawyer as he once was.

So, it is not shock that he finds himself under legal scrutiny, even if it, ultimately, does not produce an indictment or charges.

MARQUARDT: Matt, when you look at the president, just his comments in the past 24 hours about Rudy Giuliani, kind of waffling back and forth, and when you look at his past support of allies and people who work for him, like Michael Cohen, until they're no longer useful, what sense do you have about how safe Rudy Giuliani is in the Trump orbit?

LEWIS: Let me be very clear. The president has expressed complete confidence in Rudy Giuliani. That's what they're going to say, right? And whenever they say that, get ready. You know, whenever the president has expressed complete confidence in Michael Cohen or Rudy Giuliani or whoever, they're on their way out.

The only thing that might save Rudy Giuliani is the fact that he and Trump have this, like, insane relationship. They're both playing this weird four-dimensional chess. And I think there's a personal affinity there. This goes back for decades.

But if Rudy Giuliani -- you know, I do not think Donald Trump would hesitate to cut him loose, if that's the politically expedient thing to do. And it looks like it might be.

MARQUARDT: Gene, what about on the legal side? We saw Rudy Giuliani saying that this is a political attack. This is reporting about federal prosecutors investigating him. Should he be concerned that because his two associates have now been indicted, is he -- is he going to be in legal hot water?

ROSSI: I don't know, yet, if he's in legal hot water. But I can tell you that the water is at least lukewarm. And if I were Rudy Giuliani, I would consider getting my own attorney. Because if you read that indictment that came out this week, against the two characters of Lev and Igor, they sound like characters in "Dr. Zhivago."

If you read that indictment, it paints a picture of illegally funneling money to Republican causes from Russia. And of all the places that Rudy Giuliani is trying to dig up dirt, it's Ukraine, which is affiliated somewhat with Russia.

So, the punchline is this. Rudy Giuliani is definitely a witness, if not a subject, in the investigation in the Southern District of New York. It remains to be seen if he's a target.

MARQUARDT: Which, ironically, --


MARQUARDT: -- is the office that he used to run. Go ahead, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: I was going to add one -- just one point. If you, kind of, look at the overview of what's happened in the last few weeks, you have to ask yourself, is the president making it harder or easier for House Democrats to unify on a vote on impeachment? I mean, certainly, as usual, he has been focused on mobilizing his base. And may be mobilizing his base in a way that will discourage or intimidate House Republicans from voting.

But, really, there has been nothing that has happened, since Nancy Pelosi announced the inquiry, that would make it less likely the Democrats --


BROWNSTEIN: -- feel comfortable doing this. And, in fact, most things would make them feel more comfortable, including the way the president has reacted to it.

MARQUARDT: Right. It could be short-sighted, politically. Gents, we've got to leave it there. Gene Rossi, thank you very much.

ROSSI: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Ron, Matt, you will be back with me in just a moment. We are going to be talking about one of Fox's leading anchors who is out. The question is, is it because of reporting like this?


SHEPARD SMITH, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS: Our reporting begins this Monday with President Trump's latest misleading and xenophobic eruption of distraction and division.



MARQUARDT: The departure of a T.V. news anchor from their network is not often all that newsworthy. But Shepard Smith of Fox News stunned viewers when he announced yesterday at the end of his long-running show that he is leaving the network. He didn't say why he left but these were his parting words.


SMITH: Even in our currently polarized nation, it's my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive. I'm Shepard Smith, Fox News, New York.


MARQUARDT: That abrupt good-bye blindsided many of his colleagues over at Fox News and you can see it in their reactions.


NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: Well, I'm Neil Cavuto. And, like you, I'm a little stunned and a little heartbroken. I don't know what to say. John, I apologize at being a little shell shocked on this other development here, but take it away, sir.

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS: I've just been trying to compile my thoughts, too. Neil, I walked out here to do the hit, and suddenly got hit by a subway train. Holy mackerel.


MARQUARDT: Holy mackerel, indeed. And this is how the president, who was no fan of Smith's, this is how he responded.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you or your administration press or talk to to get rid of Shepard Smith?





DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That I don't know. Wait, did I hear Shepard Smith is leaving?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Is he leaving because of bad ratings? Tell me. I don't know. He had terrible ratings. Is he leaving because of his ratings?



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, if he's leaving, I assume he's leaving because he had bad ratings. He had the worst ratings on Fox so there is a reason. Why is Shepard Smith leaving?




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wish -- I wish Shepard Smith well.


MARQUARDT: Does he, though? I'm back now with Ron Brownstein and Matt Lewis. Matt, first to you. Our Brian Stelter is reporting that one major factor, apparently, in Shep's decision to leave was that his fellow Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, who's on at 8:00 p.m. and very much, of course, on the opinion side.

That Carlson has attacked him and also attacked one of his regular contributors, former Judge Andrew Napolitano. The late Roger Ales, who, of course, ran the network for so long, used to have a rule, apparently, for employees, saying, you don't shoot inside the tent.

So, Matt, do you think that Fox lost Smith after a 23-year career because it wasn't sticking up for the news side against the far more popular opinion side?

LEWIS: I think there's no doubt that the opinion -- there's a tension between the opinion side and the news side. And that this is a collateral damage of that, yes.

So, basically, we've had instances where Laura Ingram and Sean Hannity and the opinion side have been advancing narratives that are actually not true. Shep Smith would go on Fox News air and fact check them and set the record straight.

President Trump, who's been angry at Fox News polling, which is quite good, and at people like Shep. So, I think that there was pressure put on, internally. And I don't know if he was forced out. I don't know the details.

But, clearly, Shep felt that tension. And, you know, now, the question going forward is, what happens next? Does diamond and silk replace Shep Smith? Is -- does Fox News go all opinion, essentially? That's going to be really interesting to see how it plays out.

MARQUARDT: Yes, you're right. Shep was one of the few people over there who would, routinely, call out the president. He wasn't afraid of doing that. Here are a couple quick examples.


SMITH: Our reporting begins this Monday with President Trump's latest misleading and xenophobic eruption of distraction and division. He decries fake news that isn't and disseminates fake news that is. Think China pays the tariffs. The wall is going up. Historic inauguration crowds. Russia probe is a witch hunt. You need an I.D. to buy cereal. Noise from windmills causes cancer. It's endless.

There is no known evidence to support President Trump's conspiracy theories about Biden's activities, as we have reported here, repeatedly.

The president also said in the tweet that the wall is going up rapidly. It is not. As we just reported, there is no new wall. The forecast showed east coast Dorian. The sharpie's magical addition added the coast of Alabama. Why would the president of the United States do this?


MARQUARDT: Ron, when people would stick up for Fox News and say that they do have, you know, non-opinion hard news' journalists over there, Shep was always at the top of the list, along with Chris Wallace and Bret Baier. But when you see someone like Shep leaving after so long, and the --


MARQUARDT: -- fact that he was held up like that, what do you think his exit means for the network?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think it continues the direction that the entire, I think, conservative media ecosystem is heading. Which is very much where the Republicans in Congress are heading. You know, toward a kind of world in which opinion in, kind of, the mainstream media, and opinion among voters outside of the core Republican base, is, really, kind of, distant and faint to them.

And they're kind of -- they're kind of moving into a world where, politically, they are operating under the dome to borrow from the Stephen King analogy, where, essentially, no dissenting views or even, kind of, contrary or less and less contrary information is allowed in.

I mean, if you look at the seats that Republicans are still representing in the House, they are overwhelmingly, you know, non- urban, predominantly, preponderantly white, very little diversity left. In the Senate, the Republicans are concentrated in the states with the fewest immigrants, the least exposure to the -- to the new economy. And Fox, I think, is, kind of -- you know, as some combination of a

political institution and a money-making business, is kind of -- it's kind of being drawn toward that poll and toward that kind of vision of separatism. And, look, I've always thought that the -- that the division between the opinion and news division of Fox can be overstated.

I mean, you look at that morning show. It's kind of hard to see exactly, you know, where that is. But, to the extent there was one, he embodied it. And the fact that he is now gone, I think, it kind of crystalizes this larger trend.

MARQUARDT: Yes, gone from Fox. But he says he's not gone from the industry. He's going to take some time off, he said, to be with his friends and family. And then -- but his spokesperson said, very clearly, he is not retiring.


I want to switch gears, while I still have you guys, and, Matt, ask you. When you look at this, the Democratic landscape, in terms of those running for president. We're going to see, this week, Bernie Sanders returning to the campaign trail. He's going to be on the debate stage on Tuesday night in the CNN-New York Times debate. And this, of course, is after this heart attack. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has just interviewed him. We've just gotten a clip from that new interview. Let's take a listen.


JONATHAN KARL, POLITICAL JOURNALIST, ABC NEWS: So, let me ask you. You and Elizabeth Warren have pretty close to identical positions on the -- on the big issues. What do you say to those who say that they would pick her because she's eight years younger than you? She didn't just come through this -- didn't just have a heart attack. And, look, in the positions, you're pretty much the same.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, look, everybody, every American is going to make his or her own choice about the candidate that they want. And Elizabeth Warren has been a friend of mine for some 25 years. And I think she is a very, very good senator. But there are differences between Elizabeth and myself. Elizabeth, I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist to her bones. I'm not.


MARQUARDT: That, of course, was not Dr. Sanjay Gupta. That was ABC's John Carl in a clip that's going to be airing tomorrow on "This Week." But, Matt, to you. Is that answer that we just heard from Senator Sanders going to be -- going to satisfy his supporters, who might be nervous after this heart attack?

LEWIS: I love that his defense is, I'm a real socialist. I'm not a capitalist. It's a -- 2019 is an amazing year. It's totally lit. And -- but, no, look, I think he seemed like Bernie -- just watching that very, very short clip here, he seemed a little toned down from the Bernie Sanders that I'm used to. I wonder how that's going to be on the debate stage after a couple hours. It would be completely understandable if he wasn't a hundred percent. But that matters in a debate, at this point.

And, look, I think the fundamental problem for Bernie isn't even this, which is a big setback. It's the fact that he was already --


LEWIS: -- losing out to Elizabeth Warren. I mean, she has been on the upswing for months now. And it just coincides with this moment.

MARQUARDT: All right.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, both sides --

MARQUARDT: Go ahead, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: I was going to say, real quick, both sides are true, right, because on the one hand, as Matt is saying, this is going to make it harder for him to regain momentum that she has already surpassed him with. On the other hand, his signal is pretty clear that he is not going anywhere.

And you may have a lot of liberal voices in the party by next March, wondering whether Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are splitting the same vote and, potentially, allowing a more centrist alternative, like Joe Biden, to sustain himself, in part, because of that.

MARQUARDT: And he said he is not a quitter and eye -- all eyes will be on him on Tuesday night on that debate stage in Ohio.

Ron Brownstein, Matt Lewis, thanks very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

LEWIS: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: And coming, a stunning building collapse in New Orleans has left at least one person dead and 18 injured. Others feared buried beneath the rubble.




MARQUARDT: We are following breaking news out of New Orleans right now. Emergency teams are there scrambling to find two people missing after a Hard Rock hotel that was under construction collapsed earlier today. You can see it right there. At least one person is dead and more than a dozen are injured.

Again, this building, which was still under construction when its upper floor suddenly gave way this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard a bunch of noise, and we're usually used to hearing the street car, you know, make some noise. But in this case, it just kept on going, so I immediately ran to the -- to the window and we saw it instantly. Because we're on the fifth floor and it's just, you know, a straight shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole thing crumbled, there was lots of noise. We saw workers up there. I mean, it was crazy. I just can't even imagine what was going on up there. It sounded like -- we thought it was gunfire but it wasn't gunfire, it was a building collapsing.


MARQUARDT: Right now, officials are worried that the rest of the structure could cave in. They say a crane still attached to the structure needs to be secured before their search efforts can continue. This disaster site is just blocks from the historic New Orleans French Quarter. We will, of course, stay on the story and continue to update you as it develops. We'll be right back.



MARQUARDT: Homes are gone, businesses destroyed, families uprooted. Firefighters in Southern California are working tirelessly around the clock to contain several fast moving wildfires. In Riverside County, two people have died in the Sandalwood Fire, which is still burning and the Saddleridge Fire which broke out Thursday night has destroyed 31 homes and burned more than 7,500 acres.

Evacuation orders are slowly being lifted. But as of Friday night, more than 100,000 people in the Los Angeles area were forced to leave their homes.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Granada Hills, California. Paul, I understand you spoke with a family that lost everything.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Alex. One of those 31 homes destroyed behind me, the family that lived here the Silvers, they have a soon to be 5-year-old daughter, a soon to be 10-year-old son. And they're overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from this community.


DREW SILVER, HOME DESTROYED BY WILDFIRE: We lost everything we own, but we're healthy, we have our kids, our dog, got out with our lives.

VERCAMMEN: And for you, Monica, what did you think when you first saw the house?



M. SILVER: It wasn't really a surprise. When we left, there was fire on three sides of the house. And when we came out to the cul-de-sac, there were no firetrucks. And we looked at each other and we said, I don't think the house is going to be here when we get back. So it's not a surprise. I mean, it's devastating but it's not a surprise.

D. SILVER: In talking to E.R. and others around here, talking to a well off camera, extremely tightknit neighborhood.


D. SILVER: And a lot of people already stepping up and offering to help.


D. SILVER: You seem hell-bent on rebuilding. And tell us about this and the neighborhood.

M. SILVER: Well, actually, we haven't decided to rebuild. We don't know. We don't know. We haven't talked about it. Right now, it's just keeping our kids sane. And when we dropped them off at two different friends' houses so they can have a little normalcy and little distraction. We just -- we haven't talked about it yet. We don't know. This is -- you know, we've never experienced anything like this before, so.


D. SILVER: I lived here 21 years. I went through a fire 11 years ago, which burned part of the backyard but not the house. So it's tough to leave the area. We have a great school that our son goes to. A lot of -- a lot of family with these neighbors. So it would be hard to leave. But looking at the road to rebuild is hard.

M. SILVER: It's daunting. You know, I don't know that we want to go down that road and have to deal with all of that. But we love our neighbors. We love our community.

D. SILVER: We had such an outreach from the neighborhood. We had a lady who didn't even know us at Starbucks, she goes, I want to pay for your meal.

M. SILVER: Sorry. Our kids' teachers and staff at the school have reached out and --

D. SILVER: They said they bought them a backpack, and book binder, and don't worry about school. You know, all of the stuff is taken care of. They set up a friend of hers back east in Florida, her best friend, set up a GoFundMe page. People are donating. It's just amazing --

M. SILVER: It renews your faith and humanity to see just the love and support that we're getting.

VERCAMMEN: Remind us the names and ages of your children, please.

M. SILVER: Our son is Elijah, he's 10.5. And our daughter Violet will be 5 in a couple weeks.

D. SILVER: When you think of an elementary school age kid like Elijah and a teacher who notoriously sometimes don't have enough supplies, goes out and gets a backpack, that's touching.

M. SILVER: It's amazing. It's amazing. It's amazing.

VERCAMMEN: If you could say something to that teacher or these people, what would you say?

D. SILVER: Thank you.

M. SILVER: Thank you so much.


VERCAMMEN: So a very grateful family here in Granada Hills. And if the neighbors had to vote, they would all vote for the Silvers to rebuild right here. Back to you, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Remarkable resilience from people who have lost so much. Our thoughts, of course, Paul, with the Silvers and everyone in that community. Thank you.

Coming up, a CNN exclusive, as Turkey pushes deeper into Syria, there's a desperate message from the Kurds to the U.S. You are leaving us to be slaughtered.



MARQUARDT: We are back with a CNN exclusive.

The military Kurdish general who commands those Kurdish forces in Northeastern Syria, tells a senior U.S. diplomat, quote, you're leaving us to be slaughtered. That's according to an internal U.S. government readout that was obtained by CNN. That general demanded to know whether the U.S. will do anything to protect their Kurdish allies alongside whom they fought against ISIS. That general adding that he feels the Americans, quote, sold us.

Turkey launched its long threatened incursion into Northern Syria after President Trump, last weekend, ordered a small contingent of about 50 U.S. troops to be pulled back from that long border area between Turkey and Syria.

Now, if anyone needs a reminder of what's really at stake here, one man has been sounding the alarm for years, risking it all to expose the atrocities of Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad and his regime. Now, he just returned to Washington, D.C., again, to beg for action. CNN's Kate Bolduan has the story. We have to warn you that the images you are about to see are graphic and disturbing.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST (voice-over): We can't tell you his name. It's too dangerous to show his face. He won't even allow his voice to be recorded as he speaks through his translator.

But we can show you these. Almost 55,000 photos he risked his life to bring out of Syria, some of which have never been seen publicly until now. And he's risking his life again to plead with Congress to act.

BOLDUAN (on camera): How are you feeling in this moment, being back in Washington again?

CAESAR, SYRIAN MILITARY POLICE DEFECTOR: My feeling being here is a feeling of a bit of disappointment, and at the same time frustration. Because after everything that I've done, in order to expose what the regime has done, we have yet to see any real action.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): His code name is Caesar. He was a military photographer in Damascus when the civil war began in 2011. He says he immediately realized what he was then documenting were not accidental deaths but torture.

CAESAR: For example, many of the bodies had their eyes gouged out. Most of these bodies had very deep cuts. Most of them were emaciated, starved for many, many months. And also marks all over their bodies from head to toe. And I would see their jaws and teeth broken.

BOLDUAN: Instead of defecting right after the war broke out, Caesar says he decided to stay for two and a half years to bear witness, collect evidence, and to expose what really was happening in his country. Where any sign of sympathy for the dead could be interpreted as betrayal of the regime.

CAESAR: I would work for hours taking photographs, loading the photographs. And I would have to hide my anguishes, I would have to pray that a tear does not come down my face, because if they saw one tear, if they saw one expression on my face that showed sympathy, then I would be killed as with my family.

BOLDUAN (on camera): How did you do that?

CAESAR: I don't know.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): In 2013, he finally fled and brought with him, what the FBI confirmed, as authentic and the State Department's ambassador for war crimes described a stronger evidence than what existed against the Nazis.


BOLDUAN: The Syrian government has denied responsibility and called the photos fake. Caesar made his first trip to Capitol Hill in 2014, testifying before Congress undercover in the exact same disguise he used for our interview.

CAESAR: I honestly thought that if I could have the courage to go for the years that I did, doing the work that I did, endangering my life every single day, that once I came out and showed the world what I had that the entire conscious of the world would move.


BOLDUAN (on camera): And then that didn't.

CAESAR: Five whole years, the world did not move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll never forget what he showed us.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): The sanctions bill sparked by Caesar's testimony and photographs has passed the House three times with bipartisan support but has yet to make it to the Senate floor.

CAESAR: So what I am pleading is for the American people to please save the Syrian people. Save these people that do not deserve the hellish nightmare that they're living in.

BOLDUAN: One of the lawmakers Caesar made his case to this time, Senator Lindsey Graham. Not only is he a longtime critic of Bashar al-Assad, Graham has also had the ear of President Trump, and he revealed to CNN that he's introducing a resolution to declare Assad a war criminal.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): To the people in Syria, we're not turning our back on you. I wish we could do better. The administration needs to do more, quite frankly. We don't have a coherent strategy in Syria and I am committed 100 percent to not letting Assad get away with it and standing behind people like Caesar. And I'm going to make my colleagues in the Senate vote.

BOLDUAN: Until then, the bill sits on Senator Mitch McConnell's desk and leaves Caesar right back where he began, putting his life on the line, to try and convince the world to care, and once and for all, not look away.

BOLDUAN (on camera): We're in the Holocaust Museum. And after the Holocaust, the world said, never again. And I'm really struck by seeing the atrocities coming outside of Syria, and the fact that the world is not saying that.

CAESAR: You're right. How many more children must be killed? How many more men must be tortured to death? How many more women must be raped until you mean it, when you say never again?

Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.



[20:55:44] MARQUARDT: Hezbollah militants hiding in plain sight in the suburbs. Here's a look at a brand-new episode of "DECLASSIFIED."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do first recognize that Hezbollah has a number of different dimensions to it. But the United States continues to be concerned about terrorist activities that go well beyond the borders of this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So on one hand, Hezbollah has a local identity as a legitimate political party in Lebanon. On the other hand, there are proxy for the Iranian government. They're engaged in terrorist organizations and act as a militia at the behest of Iran.


MARQUARDT: "DECLASSIFIED" airs tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

And a Kenyan runner today became the first human ever to complete a marathon in under two hours. 34-year-old long -distance runner, Eliud Kipchoge, an Olympic champion, clocked in at 1:59:40. This historic feet was accomplished today right there in Vienna, Austria.

But no matter how groundbreaking this is, it actually will not count as a world record because those were not considered race conditions because of the huge amount of support he got from his team. He says he ran to inspire people and to show that no human is limited.

That does it for me. I'm Alex Marquardt. Thank you so much for watching.

Up next, it's the new CNN Special Report "WEED 5: THE CBD CRAZE." Have a good night.