Return to Transcripts main page


Trump's Ambassador To E.U. To Testify To House This Week; House Intel Chairman: There Doesn't Need To Be A Quid Pro Quo; Trump Orders Remaining U.S. Troops Out Of Northern Syria; Black Woman Fatally Shot By White Office Inside Her Own Home; Biden Uses Giuliani's Role In Ukraine As Fundraising Tool; Twelve Democratic Candidates Face Off In Ohio Debate Tuesday. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired October 13, 2019 - 15:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Incensed over the impeachment inquiry, President Trump is digging in and lashing out. Not only is he threatening to sue Democratic leaders Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi, he is making a show of his support for Rudy Giuliani who reportedly is the target of a federal probe over his dealings with Ukraine. The controversy which sparks this inquiry.

A source says the President had lunch with Giuliani Saturday at the Trump golf resort in Virginia where he was also seen golfing today. It's an apparent sign of solidarity, and it questions Trump could be cutting ties with his embattled personal attorney, and it comes ahead of a major week of interviews in the impeachment inquiry.

Testifying before the House Thursday, star witness Gordon Sondland, who was Trump's Ambassador to the European Union, and The Washington Post reports that Sondland plans to tell Congress it was President Trump who directed Sondland to deny any quid pro quos of any kind when another U.S. diplomat questioned the pressure the Trump administration was putting on Ukraine. The Post also reports Sondland is expected to say he doesn't know if Trump was telling the truth at the time.

Let me turn now to CNN White House Reporter, Jeremy Diamond. So Jeremy, any response from the White House on this reported upcoming testimony of Sondland?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, remember Fredricka, it was the White House in coordination with the State Department that previously directed Sondland not to testify before the House in this impeachment inquiry. That, of course, was before this subpoena actually came through for Sondland's testimony and now Sondland is saying that he will testify, and we have not heard from the White House that they plan to direct him not to do so this week.

But Sondland, of course, his testimony will be extremely significant especially as it relates to these questions about a potential quid pro quo in this Ukraine matter, but he will not be the only official testifying this week. We also have tomorrow coming up will be Fiona Hill, who was the President's top adviser on Russia, on the National Security Council.

She actually stepped down from that position just a few days before that faithful call with the Ukrainian President back in July, and you will also have top State Department officials testifying this week on Capitol Hill. But there are not just testimonies in this House impeachment inquiry that are moving forward. You also have some key deadlines coming up this week in terms of document requests that House investigators have already made.

On Tuesday you have deadlines for the Vice President, Mike Pence, the Defense Secretary and the Director of Office Management and Budget. And at the end of the week, you have the Secretary of Energy and the White House Chief of Staff who have also been asked for documents. And sandwich in between those two, you have those two associates of Rudy Giuliani's who of course were arrested earlier this week on campaign finance charges.

Now, whether or not, the White House and these various agencies intend to actually comply with those document requests still remains very much an open question. Of course, earlier this week, Fredricka, the White House sent a letter to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slamming her impeachment inquiry and suggesting that this administration would not comply. So we'll have to wait and see how that all plays out this week.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thank you.

All right, let's open up the conversation now. Joining me right now, CNN Legal Analysts, Shan Wu and Michael Zeldin who are both former Federal Prosecutors, also with me here, CNN Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz. Good to see you all this Sunday.


All right, so Shimon, you first. You know, how critical will Sondland's testimony be?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: I think probably one of the most critical witnesses in of all of this. Because when you look at the text message that you just had up on the screen that Sondland had, this conversation he had with the State Department, the career State Department diplomat, where all sorts of issues were raised. The career diplomat was raising issues whether or not the President was doing withholding money because of political reasons, because of the political campaign reasons, more importantly. And those conversations are going to be very important.

There's a phone conversation between this diplomat and Sondland that we really don't know much about. That's going to be something that Members of Congress are going to dive into and want to know. And of course that conversation, there was a gap, there was a five-hour gap between text messages that the career -- the state career department sent to Sondland. There's a five-hour gap there.

What was going on in that five-hour gap? We know now that Sondland talked to the President and the President told him, by all accounts, what we read in The Washington Post told him what to say. And there it is that message. That is going to be something that they're going to dive into and it's going to be a very important part of what he tells them on Thursday.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So there was that five-minute gap -- I mean, five- hour gap and then there was that roughly 20-minute gap between, you know, the diplomat asking for clarification and then the, call me. So, Shan, what would you ask Sondland?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I would like to ask Sondland whether he suggested to the President, Mr. President, you better tell me there's no quid pro quo, or whether Trump brought that up himself. Just because he can quote the President saying that is very self-serving on Trump's part, of course, but I would like to know the context for it. I mean, why was he talking to Trump and how did that topic come up. I think that would be important to know, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Right. And Michael, you know, he -- Sondland is also reportedly expected to say he, you know, he wasn't even sure about whether the President was telling the truth when, you know, Trump directed Sondland to say, you know, there would be no quid pro quos of any kind. What would be your questions to him about that?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So what I want to understand from Sondland is the broader context. That tweet or text, rather, that, you know, there was no quid pro quo, you know, you can bring to it by saying the President was just telling him the truth or he didn't know whether it was truth or not. But I want to know from Sondland, what was his broader understanding. He met with Giuliani a number of times throughout the summer. He's speaking to Bill Taylor, he's speaking to Ambassador Volker, he's speaking to the U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine.

What was the broad understanding, because these individual one-off statements only matter in the broader context. And if it can be established that everyone had a clear understanding, implicit as it may have been, that we were not going to give military aid, or we were not going to give a meeting at the White House until there was an investigation to the Bidens, that's a very damaging picture, much more so than the Ambassador Sondland going to the President saying, I've been asked about this. What is the official policy of the administration? So context matters most of all to me.

WHITFIELD: And then Shan, I wonder how can those images be removed when in so many variations whether it's the text, whether it's the transcript, whether it's the actual admission of, say, Giuliani on the air, and even the President, you know, in front of, you know, cameras saying that, yes, there was an encouragement of Ukraine to look for dirt on the Bidens. So, how is any of the testimony, how is it to erase the statements already made?

WU: I don't think it can be erased, Fred. I think the only choice that Trump has at this point is leaning into a statement. I mean, ultimately, after they get through all the obstructionist efforts not to have everyone testify, they're going to have to lean into it and say, look, the statements out there, we don't think there's anything wrong with this.

This quid pro quo thing is just some obscure legal term that's being used against me, but I didn't do anything wrong, I'm allowed to do this. I think that's the only position he can take because there's no way to erase any of those images.

WHITFIELD: Yes. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was on the air waves today and said this about impeachment.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There doesn't need to be a quid pro quo. But it is clear already, I think, in the text messages that this meeting that the Ukraine President sought was being conditioned on their willingness to interfere in the U.S. election to help the President. That is a terrible abuse of the President's power.


WHITFIELD: So Michael, is he, you know, really underscoring what Shan just said which is, you know, you don't have to have that, you know, technical term. The information or some of the evidence is already out there?

ZELDIN: Well, it is, and the important thing to remember in an impeachment inquiry is that impeachment is treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.


It's not the maladministration of office. And so if what this turns out to be is we don't like the way Trump is conducting himself, the maladministration of his office, but it doesn't rise the level of an abuse of the powers of his office, then I think impeachment fails. If, on the other hand, it is an abuse of the powers of his office that he is trying to obtain information personally beneficial to him at the expense of U.S. national interest, then he falls into the high crimes and misdemeanors. That has to be flushed out I think as the hearings progress.

WHITFIELD: So Shimon, you know, as for the whistleblower complaint, which really got the inquiry, you know, going, is it something under consideration that abuse of power can be substantiated without the testimony of that whistleblower after all particularly since there have been so much talk about protecting the identity and the welfare of that whistleblower?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, absolutely, because when you think about, there's really what you see the Members of Congress there and Schiff do is try to bring out a lot of other evidence. They may not -- We may never hear publicly from the whistleblower. That is something that we should all be prepared for. It could happen. It could be that we never hear from this person.

A statement will perhaps be made public at some point, but they have the transcript. And all of the things that the whistleblower has complained about and the issues he has raised, there are other ways that Members of Congress are going to try to substantiate that. They could talk to other people who were a part of the team that was on this call, their experiences over this whole Ukraine issue.

And this is what we're seeing then, this is why people like Sondland are coming in, Volker, you know, perhaps Bill Taylor, the career state department guy who could come in and give some testimony, too. So there are other ways to substantiate what the whistleblower, the complaints by the whistleblowers and others where they would not even need to bring some of these people.

And the other thing that I want to raise about Sondland, and some folks have raised this, is that no one even understands 100 percent why Sondland was in the middle of all of this. He is the Ambassador, you know, but he's not the Ukrainian Ambassador, right? So there are some questions about why he was involved in this entire thing, and I think that's something else that I think is important.

It's perhaps because of his relationship with the President, right? He gave a million dollars to the inauguration, he's this business guy that the President trusts and the President has put him in charge of this. But the questions are going to be why. And I think that's going to be a big part of it.

But you do raise a good point here, Fred, can this all be done without the whistleblower, and I think people should be prepared that we may never hear publicly from this whistleblower. And we're seeing Members of Congress really trying to protect him. They're talking about doing secret meetings with him, maybe having some way where they can talk to him where he doesn't have to be identified --

WHITFIELD: Him or her.

PROKUPECZ: So him or her, I should say, we don't know. So, there are things that are going to be done here to protect this whistleblower and it could be very much and very well that we don't hear from this person.

WHITFIELD: OK. Thank you so much gentlemen. Shimon Prokupecz, Michael Zeldin, Shan Wu, appreciate it.

ZELDIN: Good to see you, Fred.

WU: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, President Trump ordering a near total withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria. Details on that. And police in Texas shoot and kill an African-American woman inside her own home. It's the ninth Fort Worth police shooting this year. More on this stunning case straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: We're following breaking news right now. A near total withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria. The U.S. Defense Secretary says he U.S. had no other choice but to order a deliberate withdrawal.


MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Now what we're facing is U.S. forces in a -- trapped between a Syrian-Russian army moving north to take on the Turkish army that is moving south. It puts us in a terrible position and the protection safety of our service members comes first to me. I spoke with the National Security team yesterday, we all talked on a phone. I've talked to the President and he concern and so last night he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of U.S. forces from the northern part of Syria.


WHITFIELD: A U.S. official tells CNN the withdrawal of U.S. troops won't hand happen immediately but could take days to weeks. Fighting in northern Syria is intensifying as Turkish forces are pushing further into Syrian territory occupied by Kurds. This incursion started Wednesday just three days after President Trump ordered a pullout of U.S. troops in the area.

Kurdish leaders responded with fury saying the U.S. had abandoned them and left them to be killed. The Kurds had been a key U.S. ally in the defeat of ISIS militants. CNN has confirmed one Kurdish journalist has been killed in a Turkish air strike.

Our coverage begins with Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. So what more do we know about how this is being carried out, this pullout?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, you just have to look at those images that we're showing our viewers to see how badly the security situation has deteriorated in northern Syria over the last 48 hours or so. And that's really what U.S. troops are looking at. But what they want to do is a very orderly planned-out withdrawal. That is what they hoped to do.

But as you see all of this going on, they are also prepared to pack up and go in extremis. They hope it doesn't come to that. Already we know that some U.S. troops are consolidating into fewer physicians in northern Syria to improve their security posture. As this begins, U.S. troops will either drive out or fly out. That is a very typical procedure, exactly what everyone would expect.

But as this uncertainty is going on right now, all of this violence in this area, we also are told that U.S. armed warplanes, as you would expect, are overhead patrolling the skies in any location where U.S. troops are located in Syria. It's going to be about a thousand troops coming out. They may be able to leave some deep in the south of Syria, but the implication now is so significant. The partnership with the Syrian forces that the U.S. had been using to help defeat ISIS pretty much gone at this point. ISIS may very quickly rise up again, if not already.


There are militants on the roads, there are checkpoints. The violence continues. The big concern right now, getting the troops out safely and what will ISIS be up to next. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Barbara Starr, thank you so much at the Pentagon. Our Nick Paton Walsh is on the ground close to the fighting in northern Syria.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot has changed fast today, extraordinary to witness it. We are on the main highway which leads to Kabani, a key town where large numbers of U.S. troops are based nearby. They are leaving, so many Kurds. This is a region where there's an absolute upheaval and panic.

(voice-over): The road to Kabani tells you how savage this wall already is and where it's going. Here, Kurdish female activist, Hervin Khalaf was shot dead allegedly by Syrian rebels, Turkish backing, a gruesome video of the killing viral online. Just outside Ain Issa, and it's huge ISIS family camp, there is panic.

Gunfire up ahead. Trucks turn around fast. Families in disarray. There are heavy clashes there and he says nobody can go.

What do you want from us, he says. They're coming and they'll take everything. 01:20 and the American (ph).

Turkey and the food (ph) and ISIS have been their enemies here, but only Americans who betrayed them. And they are leaving.

Just down the road, this patrol coming out to Ain Issa.

(on-camera): But they won't talk to us, but clearly, Americans still active in areas around the Syrian Kurds.

(voice-over): If they leave Turkey makes its bold ambition to go anywhere they had felt.


WALSH (voice-over): Jet are falling alone (ph). Sending a message to us, the Kurds and the Americans leave now. But the arrival of two U.S. apache helicopters to circle the area and their patrol, show the Americans are not ready to do that just yet, despite President Trump's instincts to end the endless the wars as he says. Syria's war though just keeps getting longer.

(on-camera): One U.S. official has told me that actually the road now towards Kabani where they have some of their troops placed has been cut off by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels. They set up checkpoints just outside that town where in we've had to leave. But it's extraordinary nobody thought. This was originally part of Turkey's invasion plan.

(voice-over): And as we drive away, it seems clear Turkey plans to seize the road in part. These are Turkish army personal carriers and tanks bearing Turkish flags, more of them arriving in the dust. Soon, Syrian Kurds won't be able to drive down here at all, and the west of their area cut off from its east. The city of Kabani again left to face a siege.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Ain Issa, Northeastern Syria.


WHITFIELD: Another person in Texas shot and killed by police in their own home. What happened? Next.



WHITFIELD: We're following tragic news out of Fort Worth, Texas. An African-American woman was shot and killed by a white police officer while she was inside her own home. This incident marks the ninth police-involved shooting in Fort Worth just this year alone.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is following this story. So, Polo, what happened here?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, police in Fort Worth released police body camera video almost -- not long after the shooting actually happened. The department said that that it's hoping to provide both transparent and relevant information. This is investigation runs its course. But you hear from those that are essentially advocating here for the family of the woman who died. They're saying that that is not enough. They want accountability and eventually even an indictment of the police officer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went from a welfare check to a woman being killed by the cops.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Outrage is building over the actions of a Fort Worth, Texas police officer. Saturday morning just before 2:30 a.m., police were called to the home of 28-year old Atatiana Jefferson after neighbors noticed her front door was open. Heavily edited body camera video released by Fort Worth police picks up what happens next.

After police peer through the front door, they walk the perimeter of the property when suddenly, police say, an officer spots someone standing near a window.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up, show me your hands.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The medical examiner identified the woman who the officer shot as Jefferson. She died at the scene. James Smith says he's the concerned caller who first alerted police.

JAMES SMITH, NEIGHBOR WHO CALLED POLICE: I feel guilty, because if I had not called the police department, my neighbor would still be alive today.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): In a statement Fort Worth police said, their officer drew his weapon and fired a single shot after, quote, perceiving a threat. In addition to the body camera footage, investigators released this still photo showing a firearm inside the House. CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson cautions not to jump to any conclusions.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You're going to release the fact that she has a gun in the home as perhaps what? To suggest she had a gun and that we were perhaps fearful for our life? There's no indication where that gun was. There's no indication she had that gun. There's no indication that she should not of having gun.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): CNN has requested the unedited body camera footage. The police spokesperson said nothing additional will be released at this time and that the department, quote, shares the deep concerns of the public and is committed to completing an extremely thorough investigation. Police have not named the officer who joined the department in April of last year.


SANDOVAL: In addition to requesting the unedited body camera video, we have also put in a request for the incident report and dispatch recordings where we could potentially hear the initial call for service that prompted this to begin with later Friday, early Saturday morning. We should note that the officer involved here, Fred, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. We've also reached out to the Fort Worth police officers union for comment and they have not immediately responded at this point.


WHITFIELD: So troubling. Was she at home by herself?

SANDOVAL: At this point, we do have various reports that there was possibly a child inside. We also have an indication that she possibly lived with mom but was seeking some medical treatment at a hospital at the time, so at this point, we do -- according to what we're hearing, and again the story is telling its preliminary stages there was potentially somebody else inside. But authorities have not really elaborated that at this point.

WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Former Vice President Joe Biden swinging back after sharp criticism from President Trump, even using Rudy Giuliani as a fundraising tool. Will his strategy work? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, with the CNN "New York Times," Democratic presidential debate just two days away. Joe Biden continues to fight back against President Trump's attacks while also fighting to hang onto his frontrunner status.


Biden is now using the President's embattled attorney -- personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as a target in his attacks on the administration's Ukraine scandal. And he's fundraising off that as well.

CNN's Jessica Dean is in Iowa where the former Vice President and several other Democratic candidates are speaking at a union forum. Jessica, what's happening?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Fred, you're exactly right. We're hearing Vice President Biden talk about Rudy Giuliani in some of the speeches that he's given. We're also hearing from his son Hunter Biden's attorney.

This morning, the attorney releasing a statement on behalf of Hunter Biden saying that he's going to step down in his board role in a management company that's part of a private equity group that's backed by Chinese owned -- state-owned entities, that he's going to step down from that role at the end of the month. Hunter Biden going further saying that if his father is elected president, he will not serve on the board or work for any foreign-owned business or entity.

And Biden adviser pointing out to CNN today that that is farther than any Trump children have gone. The Trump children continuing to do business internationally and with various -- in various countries across the world as their father sits in the Oval Office right now. And you can bet that the Biden campaign is going to want to exploit that contrast between how the families would handle what would happen if Vice President Biden became President.

Fred, we're also learning from advisers that they were alerted that this statement was coming yesterday. They didn't know kind of what took it so long to get put together, but they said they were learning it was coming and then we got it this morning, of course, there's a response to President Trump's unfounded attacks on Vice President Biden and his son Hunter.

WHITFIELD: So Jessica, the campaign has to know that's not going to stop any questions about the why now that Hunter Biden would, you know, make that pledge. And how the Biden camp is helping to prepare Joe Biden for what will likely be an onslaught of questions about all of this come Tuesday during the debate.

DEAN: Yes. I mean, we'll see kind of what comes up at the debate. So far, his Democratic rivals have really stood behind Joe Biden on this and really said that they are standing against President Trump's, again, unfounded claims against Vice President Biden and his family. So he has really seen support from the other Democratic candidates.

Pete Buttigieg was on our air earlier this morning saying something to that effect. So it will be interesting to see kind of how this plays out in the coming days. Again, we're here in Iowa today where he is speaking to a union group. We have a number of the 2020 presidential candidates that are here.

And here in Iowa it's become a very tight race between Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. They sit right there at the top together. It's practically a dead heat. And the polling that's coming out, and union support, Fred, of course is key to any person winning the Democratic nomination. So we'll see what they can say today.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jessica Dean, thank you so much, in Iowa.

All right. So how will all of this play out in this week CNN debate? We'll discuss right after this.



WHITFIELD: We're just two days away from the CNN "New York Times" Democratic Presidential debate, and 12 candidates will share the stage for the biggest presidential primary debate in history. And once again, the stakes will be high.

With me now is Aisha Moodie-Mills, a Democratic Strategist and a CNN Political Commentator, and Hilary Rosen who is also a Democratic Strategist and CNN Political Commentator. Good to see you both.



ROSEN: Hi, Aisha.

WHITFIELD: All right. So Aisha, you first. Hello to everybody. All right you first, Aisha. You know, because a lot has changed since the last debate. You know, should the President's impeachment inquiry be a big focus for the candidates or should they be sticking with other issues.

MOODIE-MILLS: I think the candidates, they run their races. I mean, look, most of the vast majority of the candidates came out early and said that we need to investigate the President and then they all came down and said we're going to need to impeach the President. I think that at this point, the President is sinking himself and it's really important that the candidates focus on the issue at hand.

The fact that Elizabeth Warren has been running her own race should just be a testament to how powerful that is. I think that everyone else now on the stage is going to realize that they need to get their strategies up and figure out how to chase hard, and that has less to do with impeachment in this round than we might think.

WHITFIELD: So you see that she may be the one who is the target this go-around, Aisha? Elizabeth Warren?

MOODIE-MILLS: I would expect that at some point it's time to be a little less nice, right? I mean, the Democrats have done a good job at hearing each other out, having some feverish debate, but being pretty nice about it. And I think at some point, they're going to need to actually attack the person in the front, and at this point it's her.

WHITFIELD: Hilary, do you see that Bernie Sanders is going to take an approach to make real distinction between he and Elizabeth Warren?

ROSEN: Look, Bernie Sanders' support is sinking and, you know, this may be his last shot. This is one of only two more debates I think before the Iowa caucuses, you know, the all-important sort of dividing line for a lot of candidates when the money dries up and people start to move on and want to consolidate the field. So, you know, for these next couple debates, this is the time to make your mark, because if you don't you really do need to step aside.

But I want to go back to this impeachment issue, because I think Aisha is right, that they've to run their own race, they've got to say what they're going to say. But the impeachment issue does bring up foreign policy, and that is something that hasn't really been discussed much in these debates here to for.

And how these candidates feel about U.S. intervention in Syria, whether we should be keeping troops there as the Turks, you know, go in to slaughter the Kurds. Those are things that are not top of mind traditionally for Democratic primary voters, nonetheless, the foreign policy has been a unique failure of President Trump's, and this is an opportunity for these candidates to show off.


In particular, Joe Biden who was --

WHITFIELD: Or even particularly for Pete Buttigieg and --

ROSEN: Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden who was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee for, you know, many years before he was Vice President. This can be a differentiator and it comes at a very critical time in the country.

WHITFIELD: Right. So for Buttigieg and, you know, Tulsi Gabbard particularly because of their military experience and, you know --

ROSEN: The role of Russia.



ROSEN: And Russia's infiltration and to the Ukraine, and whether we should be playing games with the Ukraine the way the President is doing or whether we should be supporting them to stand strong against Putin. WHITFIELD: Sure. And on that issue of Ukraine then, you know, Joe Biden, and, you know, his son now even saying he's going to, you know, remove himself from being a board of a Chinese entity by the end of the month and he'll consider, you know, the case with others if his dad, you know, wins the presidency.

However, Joe Biden -- this could be an opportunity for him, right, Hilary, to either set the record straight on all things Ukraine, you know, he's pressuring the prosecutor, you know, to remove themselves from, you know, the job back in Ukraine in step with what other world leaders were saying. Is this a potentially pivotal moment for him to control the narrative of Ukraine, his history, his family's history?

ROSEN: Well, look, I think that the moderators, when they look at the facts, are not going to be able to challenge Hunter Biden on whether anything went wrong. It is something for Joe Biden to remind voters of, that this is kind of fraudulent charges that the President has created for political purposes, but also to draw contrast on the corruption of the Trump administration.

You know, whereas, you know, Hunter Biden is a private citizen, Donald Trump's children are running around the world making deals in their father's name and then for a company that he hasn't, you know, taken his money out of, that he hasn't rescinded his responsibility for. So I do think that it's an opportunity for Democrats to draw a contrast here to remind voters where the corruption really lies, and if I'm Joe Biden, that's what I would focus on.

WHITFIELD: Aisha, is this issue causing Biden support?

MOODIE-MILLS: No. It's -- I don't think this issue is causing Biden support at all. Like Hilary just said, these are Trumped-up charges. This isn't real stuff. This is Donald Trump creating a witch hunt himself to try to attack who he thinks is going to be the most formidable candidate against him.

And so, if you look at right now what's happening in the Democratic primary, sure you're seeing that Biden is kind of hanging on, staying a little bit stagnant while Elizabeth Warren rises. But that's not because of this issue, it's because people are listening and caring about the things, the policies that Warren is talking about and questioning his judgment a little bit because it comes at his mouth that he says things that are peculiar sometimes and you're wondering like this isn't quite charming what you're talking about, Uncle Joe. But, no, it's not this issue that's ultimately going to sink him. And I think that, you know, what he should do is he should absolutely stand there and show the differential between his ability to lead on a global stage and Trump's ability to lead on a global stage.

At the end of the day, this is about America at this point being embarrassed and no longer being seen as a leader globally and that is problematic. And I think that this is where Joe Biden can really lean in with all of his experience and talk about restoring some of that dignity back to the country.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Aisha Moodie- Mills, Hilary Rosen, good to see you both. Thank you so much.


WHITFIELD: And as a reminder, you can watch the CNN "New York Times" Democratic presidential debate right here on CNN Tuesday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.



WHITFIELD: Tonight, Lisa Ling is back with an all new episode of "This Is Life with Lisa Ling". And Lisa gets rare look inside the U.S. Marine Corps initiative to integrate women into combat training where they learn to fight and kill alongside their male counterparts. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go down there next to your weapons.

LISA LING, CNN HOST: When you think back on the little girl from El Salvador, how do you think she would feel if she could see you today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she would be pretty surprised.

Being here, protecting my country, giving freedom, and not having that where I was from, it's something old me probably would be really proud about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, let's go.

LING (voice-over): In this pressure cooker situation, men and women work the gun as a unit.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a male-dominated society, but we all wear the same color. We're all green. We all do the exact same job.


WHITFIELD: Joining us now, Lisa Ling, host of "This Is Life". So, Lisa, in this episode, you visited Camp Pendleton, one of the last training facilities to integrate women. And so, what are these ladies say is their experience? Really are they treated do they feel like everybody is alike?

LING: Well, that's what they said. So a lot of people don't realize that the marines obligate every marine to go through marine combat training whether you are part of the marine band, you work in administration, it's the only branch of the military where every marine has to engage in combat training. And for decades and decades, men and women trained separately. And over the last couple of years, they have begun to integrate men and women to do marine combat training together. We spent time at Camp Pendleton and we were part of a squad that had about 300 some odd men and about 70 women. It's probably not the kind of environment I would seek out but for those women who were there, they had just come out of boot camp.

It was the first opportunity to train with the men and you'll see how it all went down. I will say that it certain was pretty awe inspiring to see what these men and women put themselves through in marine combat training and to see them together was moving as well.

WHITFIELD: How candid were the men?

LING: I think they were pretty candid and the idea behind integrating marine combat training is that they know where the lines are early on. All of these young marines, they had all just come out of boot camp and they were all part of marine combat training.


And again, the idea is to lay the groundwork early on so that moving forward, they know to respect marines of the opposite gender.

WHITFIELD: All right. Lisa Ling, we're going to look forward to this. Thank you so much. Tune in to an all new episode of "This Is Life with Lisa Ling", 10:00 Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN.

As fighting intensifies, President Trump orders the remaining U.S. troops out of Syria. A live report from northern Syria next.


WHITFIELD: Hello, again, everybody. Thanks so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We're following breaking news. A near total withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria. The U.S. Defense Secretary says the U.S. had no other choice but to order a deliberate withdrawal.


ESPER: This is part of the terrible situation that Turkey has put us in. Again, despite our oppositions (ph), we now know we believe that the Turks now intend to go further south than originally expected and to go both west and east which would increase their zone from beyond the 30 kilometer depth and nearly 440 kilometers wide. At the same time, we've learned in the last 24 hours it looks like the SDF is cutting a deal with the Syrians and Russians.