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Situation in Syria Worsening as Alliances Shift; NYT: Violent Video Depicting Fake Trump Shooting, Stabbing Media & Critics Shown at His Miami Resort; Biden Takes on Trump with New Plan to "Restore" Government Ethics as He Shuts Down Questions about Son; Candidates Prepare for Tomorrow's CNN/NYT Democratic Debate; 2 Killed, 1 Missing after New Orleans Hotel Collapse. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired October 14, 2019 - 13:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: You hear that now but we just heard Nick Paton Walsh's report that ISIS is going to benefit from this. What is this going to look like?

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The president was correct. I mean, really, ISIS was at bay. I think there's no question about that.

And the question is now, how do you turn this moment where Turkey has not kept its word on one thing that has been asserted. It's gone well beyond, as Nick said in his report, of what was supposed to be a security mechanism that Turkey pulled out of, that the United States had worked very hard to keep its NATO ally in. Then Turkey has shelled moms and dads in camps who are displaced with Turkish-backed forces.

KEILAR: Right.

TZEMACH LEMMON: They have also -- there's video of people taken out of cars and being executed.

So the question is, what does the United States do now. Because there was great pressure on the Islamic State. Turkey has even shelled a prison where people were guarded, as members of the ISIS, who were being held prisoner there.

I want to know, what are the consequences for that. And what does the United States do next to help those who kept the ISIS threat at bay, really both stay alive and also figure out how to keep the extremists threat ended, because the moms and dads were on the front lines of this fight, really were a part of keeping the threat neutralized or at least under control.

KEILAR: What do they do to help them, if anything?

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, thank you for your insight.

TZEMACH LEMMON: Thank you. KEILAR: A vile fake video depicting President Trump's face superimposed on a man opening fire on political opponents and the media was reportedly shown at an event held at one of President Trump's resorts. How the White House is responding.



KEILAR: The "New York Times" reports that a deeply disturbing take video that shows President Trump's head superimposed onto the body of a man shooting, stabbing and assaulting political opponents and members of the media in a church was shown at a pro-Trump conference last week. This conference was held at President Trump's Miami resort.

CNN is not showing the contents of the video, but I am going to describe it so you know exactly what kind of material we're talking about.

Just a warning that my description is pretty graphic.

The person with Trump's head edited on executes people with Vox, "Politico" and Black Lives Matter logos for faces, executes them at pointblank range. He hits Rosie O'Donnell and then stabs her in the head. He lights Bernie Sanders' head on fire. Hits former President Obama and smashes him into a wall, headfirst. And he drives a take into the head of an individual with a CNN logo for a face. Those are just some of the moments that are in this video.

Our chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, is here.

Brian, has there been any reaction from the White House or the president or the group who hosted this conference?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Yes. The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, says, as of this morning, the president has not seen the video, but based on the description, he denounces the video.

There is pressure on the White House to address this because CNN, the White House Correspondents' Association and other groups have all condemned this content, saying it is vile and horrific and it encourages acts of violence against both journalists as well as lawmakers.

As you mentioned, there are a number of politicians who show up in this video, including Mitt Romney and the late John McCain, politicians from both parties, as well as a number of journalists and media companies.

I think it is a very horrible example of what we've been seeing the last few years, ratcheting up the rhetoric against anybody who is perceived to be a critic of President Trump. This video was up on YouTube for about a year. It was created by an

anonymous video maker who makes these memes. This was an especially violent version of that.

It was shown last week by a conference held by the group American Priority. That's a pro-Trump group that was holding a conference at Doral, one of the president's golf clubs.

A lot of people who were there said they didn't see it. Donald Trump Jr was there. He said he didn't see it. He condemns the radio.

But the idea that this has become so normal that you could show the president as a murderer of the media at a pro-Trump conference, it speaks volumes about where we are in this country now -- Brianna?

KEILAR: How did this come to be a part of this conference?

STELTER: That's the mystery. That's the question. Apparently, there's some sort of meme exhibit. There's something going on called the meme wars. I don't mean to sound like a novice about this, but we've been seeing it for years. Digital video makers, creators of all political stripes creating content online, trying to activate partisans, activate the base.

We see a lot of that around pro-Trump content. So there were displays of this at this conference at Doral.

But to display a video of a mass shooting -- even if it's only a parody -- a very graphic shooting of a mass shooting, that's beyond the pale. That's why there's been widespread condemnation.

This gets into a broader problem, which is the president of the United States has set a tone from the top, a climate that is creates hatred and hostility toward journalists and members of opposition parties.

Normally, there would be a bipartisan consensus that that would be a severe problem but, unfortunately, we're in such a tribal moment that some people in the pro-Trump world are just laughing at this, saying the media has been triggered today by this video.


KEILAR: Brian, thank you. Brian Stelter, we appreciate that report.

Now ahead of the presidential debate, right here on CNN, Joe Biden and his son are looking to put questions about foreign business ties to rest. Hear how the former V.P. is fighting back against President Trump's attacks.



KEILAR: Former Vice President Joe Biden is trying to create more space between himself and questions about his son Hunter's business ties. Biden says, if he is elected president, no one in his family will have foreign business ties.

And he also released a government ethics plan that pledges to, quote, "ensure that no future president can ever again abuse the office for personal gain and to rein in executive branch financial conflicts of interest."

This comes as Hunter Biden announced he is stepping down from the board of a Chinese-backed company and he agreed to do a TV interview just hours ahead of tomorrow's CNN/"New York Times" Democratic debate.

Let's go to M.J. Lee in Westerville, Ohio, where the debate is being held.

M.J., Joe Biden seemed to ignore the jabs coming from Republicans over this. Is this ethics plan his attempt to give him an answer and maybe tidy up some of the optics problems here?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, there's no question that the issue of Hunter Biden and his past business dealings have been a huge distraction for Joe Biden and his campaign.

If you think about the amount of time and the resorts and an effort that Joe Biden and some of his surrogates have had to spend the last couple weeks to try to swat back at some of the accusations coming back at them, it's been a big issue, especially because one of the biggest outspoken critics on this has been President Trump.

We know there's no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden or his son, Hunter Biden.

But, look, you're right, this new government ethics plan that Joe Biden's campaign put out this morning, this does sort of allow him to have talking points going into tomorrow night's CNN debate.

It allows him to offer some reassurance some voters are looking for to indicate that he takes the questions about potential conflict of interest seriously and that he has a plan for that. He doesn't, I don't think, want to risk seeming unprepared on the debate stage.

We have no way to know if this topic is going to come up on the debate seat, whether Biden will be directly asked about it. We don't know if any of the other candidates plan to bring this up.

I think, particularly given the sensitivity and the fact this issue is so personal, I do think the candidates will be inclined to sort of tread lightly and take back this issue and talk about this issue sensitively.

As for the other candidates, obviously, Joe Biden is going to be flanked by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. For them, too, this is going to be a big stakes night for them.

For Bernie Sanders, of course, this is the first time we're going to see him on the debate stage since he suffered a heart attack and had a heart procedure. For Elizabeth Warren, this is the first time she's taking the stage

since you joined Joe Biden on the frontrunner position according to the polls.

Then there's everybody else, of course, on the debate stage for some of whom may not even be able to qualify for the November debate. So this is a big night for all the candidates who will be on stage tomorrow night -- Brianna?

KEILAR: The everybody else category, they have a lot to prove.

M.J., thank you so much, at the debate site in Westerville, Ohio.

Joe Biden along with all the candidates are preparing for tomorrow night's big debate on CNN. And there you see the debate hall at Otterbein University. The debate will be big because all 12 candidates who qualified will be on the same stage at the same time.

We have Rebecca Buck here with us to look ahead at this.

Rebecca, there's a recent FOX poll that shows Biden with a 10-point advantage in the race. Other recent national polls have shown a closer contest with Biden and Warren deadlocked at the top of the field.

How is Joe Biden in this unique position -- he's not the comfortable frontrunner, and he clearly wants to regain that.

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Brianna. And there's this controversy at which Joe Biden has been at the very center of the past couple days with the question of Ukraine. So he's going to be at the position of a lot more pressure than we've seen of Joe Biden on the debate stage in the past.

But the issue of Ukraine, a recent NPR/Maris poll showed 55 percent of Americans believe this is an issue that can hurt him.

So while Democrats who were rivals to Joe Biden have been hesitant to go after him on this issue, he's going to have to prove that he can handle himself on this, that he has a response to Donald Trump, especially when you consider that electability is such an important question Democratic voters. So he needs to show he has a response on this and this won't be an issue.


Meantime, impeachment has been in the news. He'll likely have to respond to questions on whether or not it is proper to impeach the president. He only recently came out and said he supports that. He was one of the last Democrats to do so. So there's this question, are other Democratic rivals going to ask him to explain why it took him so long.

Then there's the potential for Joe Biden to show strength on issues like Syria. He has more experience in foreign policy than anyone else, having been vice president, and involved in foreign relations as a Senator. There are opportunities for him.

KEILAR: And then you have Elizabeth Warren, she must be feeling good right now. Bernie Sanders, having this personal challenge of a heart attack, and still in recovery, and trying to prove to voters that he has the strength to move forward in this campaign.

BUCK: That's right. For Bernie Sanders, this is an issue he hates having to talk about, his personal health. It's something he never wanted to have to con front in this campaign.

And he's kept up until this health scare, such a robust campaign schedule. He really needs to show his supporters that he's still in this to win it, he isn't just going to be mailing it in as a candidate from here on out. That he really has the stamina to complete. He's one of three candidates in the Democratic over 70 years of age.

Elizabeth Warren is the co-frontrunner in the race with Joe Biden. They're both 70 years old or more. She has the challenge tomorrow night as well. Because she has not come under the same scrutiny as Joe Biden, because she hasn't been a frontrunner in this race.

She's going to have to answer tougher questions from these Democratic rivals, especially when you have lower-tier candidates on stage who are going to be going for broke tomorrow night. This could be their last chance in the spotlight.

KEILAR: Everyone else, as M.J. called them. Everyone else is going for broke.

Rebecca Buck, thank you so much.

BUCK: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: You can tune in tomorrow night, watch this CNN/"New York Times" Democratic debate 8:00 p.m. Eastern. That's going to be live from the battleground state of Ohio.

One person is missing after a deadly construction collapse at the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans. We're live on the ground with the latest.



KEILAR: Right now, in New Orleans, rescue workers are scrambling for a third day to find a construction worker after a hotel that was under construction collapsed over the weekend, killing two people and injuring 30 others. Officials say the area is still not safe and evacuations are in place.


TIM MCCONNELL, CHIEF, NEW ORLEANS FIRE DEPARTMENT: It is still a dangerous building, a very dangerous situation. That's how it's still heavily damaged and unsecured. And it's -- we're a long way from being in a safe mode. So we're asking people, and you'll hear it again and again here, stay

out of that area. Don't come sightseeing. We have an established collapse zone. We're asking everyone to evacuate that area, and we have a block beyond that. When debris falls behind that, it can travel a great distance.


KEILAR: I want to bring in Rosa Flores. She's there at the scene in New Orleans.

The big question at this point, Rosa, and this is the mystery, what happened?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right. And rescuers right now are focusing actually on the rescuing of that one individual that is still missing, Brianna. Even though they're wanting to know what happened, they're trying to get to that one person just in case they're still alive.

Take a look behind me. You'll be able to see that some of these workers are here and they're trying to get in the building. We're just at a distance. It's a little difficult to see.

They brought in a crane over the weekend that weighs 110 tons and have been using that crane to gain access to the building. Until now, search-and-rescue teams have only been up to the eighth floor because of the instability of the building.

The collapse was caught on camera, the tragic moments when the floors started to flatten. Debris started flying from the building, landing on the ground and creating a big cloud of smoke. And if you look at that video closely, you will see that workers were running for their lives.

Again, there's one person missing. Two individuals have died, according to authorities. And the remains of one of those individuals was recovered yesterday. And from what we hear, the coroner's office will be releasing that name today.

Brianna, as you mentioned, everyone wants to know what happened. At this point, authorities say they don't know exactly what happened. But investigators are on scene. We know that OSHA is on scene.

Again, their focus right now is search and rescue to make sure that if that individual is alive in this building, that search-and-rescue teams can get to him as soon as possible -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Eventually, that is going to turn to some answers that are desperately needed about what happened to the structural failure and the collapse of this building at that hotel there in New Orleans.


Rosa, thank you for the report.

That is it for me.

"NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.