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Democrats Accelerate Inquiry With Week Of Depositions And Deadlines; Black Woman Fatally Shot By White Officer In Her Texas Home; Kurdish Forces Strike Deal With Assad After Abandoned By U.S. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired October 14, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: -- joining us in Inside Politics.
Don't go anywhere, a busy news day. Brianna Keilar starts Right Now. Have a great afternoon.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN RIGHT NOW: I'm Brianna Keilar live from CNN's Washington headquarters.
Underway right now, Democrats are wasting no time pushing ahead in their impeachment inquiry. What they're hoping to learn from Trump's former Russia adviser who is testifying right now on Capitol Hill?
Plus, chaos in Northern Syria, after President Trump pulls U.S. troops out of the region, U.S.-backed Kurdish forces are now turning to a U.S. enemy for protection.
And outrage in Texas after a white police officer shoots and kills a black woman in her own home. Her eight-month-old nephew is in the room when it happened.
Plus, a viral video reportedly shown at a Trump event was edited to show President Trump opening fire at a church, going pew-to-pew, murdering news organizations and his political enemies. The president has tweeted today about Dancing with the Stars, so why not this?
But, first, as Congress returns from recess, Democrats are kicking impeachment efforts into high gear and Republicans are facing tough questions about the president's unprecedented actions. There's been a fury of developments over the past two weeks and key witnesses are set to testify almost every day this week amid a slew of deadlines for documents. That includes U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who was on that string of texts between U.S. diplomats discussing relations between the U.S. and Ukraine as President Trump froze military aid to the country.
First up today is Trump's former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill, and Hill is giving a deposition in front of three Congressional committees behind closed doors. At this point in time, we are awaiting to see what is going on there. There's certainly been a little bit of drama. Manu Raju is there on the Hill. There's been a little bit of drama, Manu, and that some -- or at least one Republican wanted to be in the room and was not allowed to be in the room.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRSEPONDENT: Yes, that's right, that's Matt Gaetz, who's a member of the House Judiciary Committee. But the House Judiciary Committee is not one of the three that is interviewing this witness today behind closed doors. So when Gaetz arrived, Democrats actually asked him to leave, saying that he should not -- he cannot participate in today's proceeding.
So he sat there. Democrats brought in the House parliamentarian for a ruling, and the ruling was that he had to leave and he ultimately did. And then he came out into the cameras and objected to the process. But it just showed that the rocky start of this got off to a slow start as this witness has now been behind closed doors for about three hours. We have yet to see members emerge, so we're waiting for details about exactly what she testified to.
But we do know there were a lot of questions going in about what she knew about that July phone call between President Zelensky and President Trump, about the efforts by the president and Rudy Giuliani as well to urge that investigation into the Bidens, what she may have known about why military aid was withheld. Those are among the questions that will be asked. How much she ultimately reveals remains to be seen.
She did leave her administration post over the summer. So she is, in some ways, free to testify. But nevertheless, Democrats did issue a subpoena for her to come this morning because they are concerned, they said, about the White House efforts to, in their view, stop, intimidate witnesses, block witnesses' testimony. And the Republicans have said that she had agreed to testify voluntarily, raising questions about why they did that.
But Democrats are wasting no time this week. Both with Fiona Hill and others witnesses were bound to come forward, including the former -- the current ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, who also had been subpoenaed and is expected to come in later this week. There are other documents that have been subpoenaed as well, questions of whether people will comply, including Rudy Giuliani, who has to turn over documents that the committee requested for later this week.
We are told though that one Giuliani associate, Sam Kislin, is being, quote, cooperative with the House Intelligence Committee over its request for information related to Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine. Now, this -- the lawyer for Mr. Kislin tells me that they don't really have any information to advance the impeachment probe, but that's just one thread that Democrats are pulling on as they came back to session after a two-week recess and have to decide how quickly they wanted to move about impeaching this president. Brianna?
KEILAR: All right. Manu, thank you so much for that report from basement there on Capitol Hill.
And for all things Congress, we have Washington Post Congressional Reporter Rachael Bade with us along with our legal and national security expert, Joe Moreno.
So this issue of whether Fiona Hill wanted to testify or not, her lawyer is calling this a friendly subpoena. What's your assessment of this? And especially, it's interesting, we do get to hear her or we don't get to hear her speak, but it's interesting that she's up on the Hill considering the State Department has been very careful about having current officials not do this.
RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It might seem counterintuitive because people want to avoid a subpoena, and it seems like pulling people and then handcuff or some sort of thing, but no.
Our understanding is she was ready to be cooperative and she was ready to come in.
And then there was this fear that the White House, and they've done this in previous House Democratic investigations, Depositions, they've told former officials that they cannot comply with document requests, cannot show for depositions. And that subpoena gives her the cover that she could potentially need from the administration if they tell her, you can't show up.
This happened last week when Marie --
KEILAR: Yovanovitch? Did I say it right?
BADE: When she came in, the same thing happened. She was ready to cooperate and the State Department told her, don't come in, and then she had the subpoena, the friendly subpoena, and she said, I have no choice.
KEILAR: That's a very good point because that does give these witnesses some cover, right, to come in, share information. But they're making a decision, right, Joe, about how do I approach this? They're stuck between a rock and a hard place.
JOSEPH MORENO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: A lot of strategy here, right? I mean, the White House has made it clear they are not going to cooperate. So whether it's voluntary, whether it's subpoenas, Democrats in the House have to be very careful because they want information, they need information, they're on a tight timeline here, so a lot of this is tactics. And I don't mean that in a nefarious way. I mean, they need to get the information expeditiously and transparently. And so every one of these decisions has an impact.
KEILAR: What does it mean if they're not getting all the information obviously they would like? They're getting some of the information, but for current officials at the State Department, they're getting pushback, so they're not going to have that evidence.
MORENO: A lot of this really comes down to how much of the quid pro quo portion of this is essential to build an impeachment case, right? The Democrats obviously seem to think it's very important. I question that strategy. I think there's more than enough without it. And the question is do you want to spend time and energy, and also potentially not meet expectations.
Because think about what Republicans are saying. All weekend long, what they're saying is -- their talking points are there is no quid pro quo. We should get to the bottom of it. We need to get to the bottom of it. But if it's not there, you're walking right into their defense, it's going to be no collusion all over again.
KEILAR: And, Rachael, there's a source familiar with Gordon Sondland's testimony. He is the former ambassador to the E.U. who was involved in this string of text messages with diplomats that Kurt Volker, the former Ukraine envoy, gave to Congress.
A source familiar with his testimony told The Post that, quote, it was a quid pro quo but not a corrupt one. What do you make of that?
BADE: Yes. His testimony is going to be particularly interesting, because our understanding is that he actually called the president to talk to him one-on-one before he texted back to one of his state colleagues saying this was no quid pro quo.
But our understanding is he's going to say he was just told to say that. The president told him to text that, to get it in writing, but that he doesn't know if it was true. But also what is interesting with Sondland is that there are these text messages, like you just mentioned from -- that turned up a couple weeks ago, and it shows him saying that they needed some sort of deliverable in order to schedule this head of state meeting with the new Ukrainian president and President Trump. This was something the Ukrainians really wanted and they were pushing for, but he was one of several State Department officials who were saying, you can't have that meeting until you make a public commitment to investigating the Bidens.
So he called it a deliverable. I mean, some people, Democrats are going to call it a quid pro quo, but I think the detail --
KEILAR: The president calls it a favor.
BADE: Yes, sure. I mean, he's going to be able to speak to the details of that.
KEILAR: So this idea of this language coming from President Trump that Sondland, we expect, would say this is what Trump told him to say, how problematic -- what are the implications of that, Joe?
MORENO: It depends. Was it in sincerity? It's like, hold on a minute, there is no quid pro quo meant here. Or was it said with a wink-wink? Like, hey, hey, hey, the messaging no quid pro quo, but only I know in my head with President Trump what I actually meant by that.
So, I mean, Rachael is right. I mean, how this testimony is delivered this week is very important because was it a sincere, let's make the record clear here, or was it a cleanup job, like, hey, wait a minute, this got out in front of us here, let's clean this up quick before it becomes out of hand, which effectively it now has. KEILAR: Yes. The texts are very interesting to read. I will say some might draw certain conclusion if they read them. You guys, thank you so much. Joe, Rachael, I really appreciate it.
And there is outrage now in a Texas community after a white officer shoots and kills a black woman who is inside her own home. The family has just spoken out.
Plus, as the President Trump orders the removal of all U.S. troops out of Northern Syria, a retired four-star Marine general says, President Trump has blood on his hands.
And right now, rescue teams are trying to stabilize the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans after Saturday's deadly construction collapse. We're going to take you live to the scene.
KEILAR: A man in Ft. Worth, Texas called a non-emergency police line requesting that police check on his neighbor because her front door was open. Surely he never could have imagined that minutes later a police officer would shoot and kill 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson in her own bedroom.
Jefferson's sister described how her eight-year-old son witnessed all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMBER CARR, ATATIANA JEFFERSON'S SISTER: But the first time I actually got to see him and pick him up from a facility for children, the first thing he told me was he was sad. And I asked him why was he sad. And he told me a policeman had killed his -- has shot his aunt. And at that time I knew nothing about that. So he was the one who actually told me what happened.
But at this time, he's my motivation, he's my biggest encourager. In the middle of the night when I'm crying, he wakes up and tells me to breathe in my nose and out my mouth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: CNN Correspondent Omar Jimenez is in Ft. Worth, Texas with the latest.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We just got out of a press conference with the family, and the family demanded that this officer not only be fired but also be fully prosecuted as well. They have no trust that not only the Ft. Worth Police Department But also the city of Ft. Worth could conduct a thorough and fair investigation. They are calling for outside investigators, potentially even the Department of Justice as well. The press conference featured immediate family members, sisters and brothers of Atatiana Jefferson, who was killed over the weekend after a neighbor made a call for what should have been just a welfare check. The call went to a non-emergency line, and then police showed up. They parked near but not in front of the home. Body camera footage that was released by police shows them going into the property that was dark at the time. They were shining their flashlight around.
And then at one point in the video, one of the officers moves up towards the window very quickly, yells, put your hands in the air, and literally within seconds fires one single fatal shot. Atatiana jefferson was killed inside the room of her home overnight Friday night into early Saturday morning.
Then from that point, all of this happened in front of her eight-year- old nephew who literally saw his aunt at the time go down. We heard from the mother of that nephew over the course of this press conference who said that he was pretty strong the first time she saw him afterwards, but described the scene as sad. And as we understand from the family, he will be beginning counseling this week to cope with the intense amount of trauma that he's experienced over the past 48 hours. Back to you.
KEILAR: Omar Jimenez, thank you for that report.
The White House is now weighing in on a viral video that was reportedly shown at President Trump's Miami golf club, their response, ahead.
Plus, after President Trump pulled U.S. troops out of Northern Syria, the Kurds, former U.S. allies, are turning U.S. enemies for protection. CNN is live inside Syria.
KEILAR: In just the past 24 hours, the situation in Syria has unraveled. In an astounding turn, the Syrian Democratic Forces, who were allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS until just over a week ago, now have a deal with the Syrian government, a former enemy and an ally of Russia.
This new alliance happened after President Trump ordered U.S. troops out of Northern Syria, and Turkey swiftly moved in to attack the Kurds, their long-time enemy.
Meantime, what the White House said was only going to be 50 to 100 Special Forces pulling out of Northern Syria has now turned into a full withdrawal of the thousand or so service members who were participating in what, by almost all accounts, was a successful and low-risk operation to keep ISIS at bay.
This withdrawal has halted the fight against ISIS. It's essentially wiped out the progress that American and Kurdish forces had made. We have our Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh who is in Erbil, Iraq. And, Nick, you witnessed this. You were just in Northern Syria. Tell us what happened.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been a startling 36 hours. The key thing to take away is how this has damaged U.S. standing in the region and potentially set the ISIS fight against ISIS back by four, maybe five years if it continues at this rate.
In the last 36 hours, at the beginning of that time, we thought we were heading on a simple drive to the town of Kobani near where there were a number of U.S. troops stationed, but things deteriorated incredibly rapidly to the point where today we left Syria in something of a horror. Here is what we saw.
WALSH: Each dawn seemed to bring seismic change in Syria now, yet the darkness never seems to end. This is commercially once a Syrian Kurds de facto capital but now shut and empty, the internet partially off and drifting fast into Syrian regime hands.
Every road, the story of people fleeing, hatreds old or new, as land changes hands yet again.
Pretty much every road we've gone on so far this morning, we've heard either verified information or rumors that the Syrian regime is coming, that they're moving fast into Syrian-Kurdish territory, kind of in a land grab after their political deal with the Syrian-Kurdish leadership to seize as much territory as they can.
This is Tall Tamr, Kurdish, 24 hours ago on Monday morning, swarming with regime forces and residents who remembered what to say to them.
I was hiding this picture of Bashar al-Assad, he says, and now I raise it with the return of the Syrian army, down with Turkish President Erdogan.
At the border was almost calm, yet we're told as we left we're welcomed back any time. But now we should run.
It's time certainly to leave as possible, even this border behind us. But there's a sense of panic about what comes next may even be in Syrian regime hands possibly in the days ahead.
24 hours earlier, we began a simple trip to Kobani when it all collapsed. Gunfire, horror, the roadblock though by Syrian rebels supported by Turkey. But a U.S. official has said are mostly former ISIS and Al Qaeda. An American convoy pulled out and were quickly bussed by a jet.
And as we pulled back, Turkish military vehicles pulled up to the main highway. Turkey openly admitting it had taken a road most thought was far away from their plan.
It was a defining moment, isolating American forces here and the U.S. declared it was leaving.
MARK ESPER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We thought ourselves was we have American forces likely caught between two opposing, advancing armies and it's a very tenable situation.
WALSH: Yet those abandoned continue to bleed. Turkey striking a convoy headed to the perceived border town of Ras al-Ain. Turkey long said it wanted to do this but nobody guessed it would be this brutal. America long said it would Syrians behind one day but nobody thought it would be so fast. And the regime long said they retake as much of Syria as they could, but nobody thought the U.S. would make it so easy for them and their Russian backers
24 hours that changed how they world works, 24 more hours in which Syrians bleed.
WALSH: Remember, this all started with Donald Trump giving a bit of a green light to the Turkish moves back on Sunday. It's unraveled so quickly to the point now where the U.S., frankly, is no longer a player in what's happening in Syria. Yes, they could possibly punish Turkey through heavy sanctions but Turkey seems so utterly focused on prosecuting this particular campaign here.
They have released a lot of Syrian rebels who the U.S. say are mostly extremists. One U.S. official I spoke to, former ISIS and Al Qaeda, and now, it's the Russians and the regime moving towards those forces. It's unlikely they'll get into heavy clashes but their leader seemed to be reasonably able to sort things out, but it squeezes the Syrian Kurds potentially further, puts way more people on the move. And bear in mind too, we have a whole new chapter and potentially Turkish- Syrian rebels on the ground who were just far too close to watch this to even be considered people who can take them on, ISIS are going to benefit out of this.
Back to you.
KEILAR: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you for that report from inside Northern Syria.
I want to discuss this now with Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. She's a Contributing Editor for Atlantic Media's Defense One. Gayle, thanks for joining us.
GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, ATLANTIC MEDIA'S DEFENSE ONE: thank you.
KEILAR: So you've been to Syria six times in the last two years. You know you have a lot of sources there. You know a lot of people there. What are they telling you?
LEMMON: There is a lot of concern. There is a great deal of fear, there is a lot of uncertainty about what comes next. These are the folks who fought alongside the United States in the fight against ISIS. More than 10,000 of them were killed as the ground force while the U.S. really supported from the air and also with advisory capacity.
And the question now is what comes next. I think that's on everybody's mind. Brianna, the question of and then what has hung over U.S. policy In Syria for almost a decade now.
And this latest turn is really how do we staunch a catastrophe that is really very much moving quickly and are affecting moms, affecting dads, affecting people who had really enjoyed a very fragile but very real stability until last week.
KEILAR: President Trump has made this fight and calls it the defeat of ISIS, one of his success stories this year. Let's listen to some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We have liberated virtually all of the territory from the grip of these blood-thirsty monsters.
This was on election night, everything read as ISIS, when I took it over, it was a mess. Now, on the bottom, that's the exact same, there is no red.
We have decimated ISIS.
We have captured, we defeated this group, 100 percent of the caliphate.
We took care of ISIS. We captured 100 percent.
We have totally defeated the ISIS caliphate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So, I mean, you hear that now, but we just heard Nick Paton Walsh's that ISIS is going o benefit from this.
What is this going to look like?
LEMMON: The president was correct. I mean, really, ISIS was at bay.