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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Hits Turkey With Sanctions; Fiona Hill Testifies In The Impeachment Probe; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Is Interviewed About Fiona Hill's Testimony And The Impeachment Inquiry; New Poll: Warren And Biden Lead Democratic Presidential Candidates On Eve Of CNN Debate; Trump Threatens "Powerful" Sanctions On Turkey; White Officer Resigns In Wake Of Fatal Shooting That Killed African-American Woman Insider Her Home. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 14, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Lucy, thank you for that report. Lucy Kafanov. And you can follow me on Twitter @brikeilarcnn or tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. I'm Brianna Keilar in for Jake Tapper, and our coverage on CNN continues right now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, rapidly deteriorating. President Trump announces new sanctions on Turkey as the situation in northern Syria grows more grim. A top Republican now says he is gravely concerned by the president's decision to withdraw.
Hill testimony. A former adviser to President Trump kicks off a very busy week of hearings on Capitol Hill. Will her testimony bolster the case for impeachment?
Biden battles. On the eve of the CNN Democratic presidential debate, the former vice president tries to quiet controversy around his son's business dealings as a brand-new poll shows a virtual tie between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.
And fatal shot. A white police officer shoots and kills an African- American woman inside of her own home. The police chief says the officer may face charges and the victim's heartbroken family is demanding justice. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in "The Situation Room."
Breaking news, President Trump announces new sanctions on Turkey as more Republicans come out against his decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria.
The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he is gravely concerned by the American exodus, which left Kurdish allies in the region vulnerable to Turkish aggression and could lead to the resurgence of ISIS.
Also breaking, a former adviser to President Trump is testifying up on Capitol Hill tonight as impeachment investigators dig in. Fiona Hill, lead counsel of the president on matters related to Russia is considered a key witness. I'll speak with Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of the
Intelligence Committee and our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
First, let's go to Jim Acosta over at the White House. Jim, what is the president saying right now about these new sanctions on Turkey?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Trump is reversing course somewhat on the situation in Syria announcing he's imposing sanctions on Turkey and leaving some U.S. forces in the region. The question is whether that amount of backpedaling will be enough for lawmakers from both parties who have slammed Mr. Trump's Syria policy.
There is another big potential crisis for the president playing out up on Capitol Hill as his former Russia advisor, Fiona Hill, as you were saying, is sitting down with members of Congress leading the impeachment inquiry.
(voice-over): With his former top official on Russia, Fiona Hill, talking to lawmakers behind closed doors in the Ukraine investigation, President Trump is insisting that the mysterious whistleblower behind the impeachment inquiry be outed and forced to appear before Congress tweeting, House Intelligence Committee Chairman, "Adam Schiff now doesn't seem to want the whistleblower to testify. No! We must determine the whistleblower's identity to determine why this was done to the USA."
The president wants to do more than just that. Warning he may sue Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I actually told my lawyers. They said sue them anyway. He's got immunity. But they can't have immunity for that. I said sue them anyway, even if we lose, the American public will understand. And sue Nancy Pelosi or maybe we should just impeach them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice-over): Schiff argues there is good reason for the whistleblower to remain anonymous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIGG (D-CA): Given that we already have the call record, we don't need the whistleblower who wasn't on the call to tell us what took place during the call. We have the best evidence of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president is mischaracterizing what happened on the call claiming it was the leader of Ukraine who first criticized the former U.S. ambassador to that country, Marie Yovanovitch, during the conversation.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: Even if you listen to the very good conversation that I had -- a very, very good, no pressure, congenial conversation with the new president of Ukraine, he had some things that were not flattering to say about her and that came out of the -- out of the blue.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice-over): But that is not true. In the rough transcript released by the White House, it's the president who brought it up first saying, "the former ambassador from the United States, the woman was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news. So I just want to let you know that."
Some Republicans are blasting the impeachment inquiry by linking the probe to Turkey's attacks on Kurdish forces in Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): It was not an accident that the Turks chose this moment to roll across the border and I think the Democrats have got to pay very careful attention to the damage that they're doing with the impeachment proceedings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice-over): But others in the GOP are still furious over the president's green light for the invasion of Syria. The president's handling of Turkey has drawn a big rebuke from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who released a strongly-worded statement saying, "I am gravely concerned by recent events in Syria and by our nation's apparent response thus far."
That rare dissent is leading to calls for sanctions against Turkey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He's going to see a united front that I haven't seen in a long time where Republicans and Democrats working with administration are going to come down on him like a ton of bricks. Iranian-type sanctions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president appears to be getting the message tweeting he will impose sanctions on current and former Turkish government officials and that he will keep some U.S. forces in the region. The administration says it's not too late to punish Turkey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MNUCHI, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: It's definitely not too late. This is a complicated situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice-over): But Democrats insist Mr. Trump should take ownership of the slaughter of Kurdish U.S. allies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): We'll see what the sanctions are, but it's not going to solve the problem. The problem has already been created by the president giving Turkey a green light to invade Syria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (on camera): Now, the president had plenty to say about both the impeachment inquiry and Syria from his twitter account. He's even wished his former press secretary, Sean Spicer, good luck on "Dancing with the Stars," but the president has yet to say anything about a gruesome and violent meme that was played at a pro-Trump conference over the weekend at one of his resorts in Florida.
The White House says the president condemns this video -- fantasizing about Mr. Trump, murdering members of the news media, but the president who has tweeted out these memes in the past, these kinds of memes like this in the past has not weighed in himself, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. Thank you very much. Let's go up to Capitol Hill right now for details on testimony from a key witness in the impeachment probe. CNN's Manu Raju is on the scene for us. Manu, what has former White House advisor Fiona Hill been telling lawmakers behind closed doors?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, more than seven hours and counting, Wolf. Fiona Hill is still behind closed doors answering questions about the run-up to that phone call in July with the president of the United States and the president of Ukraine, whether President Trump brought up that investigation into the Bidens.
There were questions that this committee has -- the Democrats have about the preparation for that phone call, what happened on that phone call and the aftermath of the phone call.
And there are questions about the role that Rudy Giuliani played in running what some are calling a shadow foreign policy urging the Ukrainian government in part to investigate the Bidens.
Now I'm -- she was subpoenaed today to come and testify before this committee in the -- even though Republicans say that she was willing to do so voluntarily. Democrats said they were concerned the White House could block her testimony.
The White House said it never took that step, but nevertheless, Democrats had a number of questions I'm told including about the ouster of the former Ukrainian ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, who testified before this committee last week.
And there have been a number of questions about her ouster given that Giuliani and his associates targeted her, raised concerns about her, criticized her and the president himself criticized her and later removed her from the post.
Now, I am told from a source with knowledge to her testimony that Fiona Hill today offered high praise for Yovanovitch -- also offered her opinion about the removal of her from that post. That's been part of the discussion.
But Wolf, as I said, seven hours and counting. Still, a lot of questions of what she said. One bit of theatrics happened earlier today when a Republican lawmaker, Matt Gaetz, who does not sit on the committee appeared and tried to be a part of today's proceedings.
Democrats kicked him out of the hearing. He came out and criticized the process. So, theatrics happening publicly as privately the lawmakers on both sides pressing for answers, Wolf.
BLITZER: There is more key testimony in coming days, Manu, and I understand an associate of Rudy Giuliani is being cooperative right now with the House Intelligence Committee. What are you hearing?
RAJU: That is right. Three of Rudy Giuliani associates have been of high interest to Democrats about what was happening with Ukraine including the two Ukrainians -- Rudy Giuliani associates who were indicted last week.
They had been hit with subpoenas by Democrats. They're asking for documents to be turned over. Well, one associate had not been hit with a subpoena. That is Sem Kislin, and I'm told by his attorney that he is being "cooperative" with this committee.
Now, the questions us what is he ultimately turning over and what his attorney says, he said he has nothing that will actually -- that will bolster the Democrats' impeachment push. But nevertheless, he's trying to convince this committee that he does not need to be deposed.
He was supposed to come and talk today but, Wolf, this is just one part of this broad investigation that is moving rapidly where a number of witnesses are being asked to come in.
Documents are being asked to be turned over ahead of some high-profile testimony, including on Thursday with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
So, a lot of questions Democrats have as they return after a two-week recess and decide how quickly to move to whether or not to impeach this president, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Manu, thanks very much. Manu Rau up on Capitol Hill. We're joined now by Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. He serves on both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us and I understand --
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Of course. Good evening, Wolf.
BLITZER: -- you were in the room where Fiona Hill's closed door deposition today. How helpful do you believe her testimony to your investigation will be?
SWALWELL: Incredibly helpful, Wolf. Also helpful that she showed up. And like some others, has chosen to defy orders from the president and the State Department to not show up.
And when witnesses actually just show up, it advances our investigation. And, you know, we'll wait until she done and I'm going to head back there before we characterize what she said.
But the arrows continue to point in just one direction, which is that a crime was committed, extortion, bribery, soliciting campaign help. It was confessed to by the president and there is an act of cover-up going on right now.
BLITZER: Let me just back up for a moment. You're saying the president of the United States actually committed a crime?
SWALWELL: Yes, extorting your taxpayer dollars, $300 million -- $390 million that was supposed to go to Turkey, holding that over their heads unless they investigated his political opponent, the Bidens, and went back and exonerated Russia for their role in the 2016 election.
In exchange for that, Turkey would get a presidential visit between President Zelensky on the -- I'm sorry Ukraine would get a presidential visit on the Ukraine side with President Trump and Ukraine would also get its security assistance. The president -- President Trump has frankly admitted to that.
BLITZER: But did you get specific confirmation of that from Fiona Hill?
SWALWELL: I'll just say this, the arrows point in the same direction as we saw from the whistleblower complaint, from what the president released and the call record, what the president has said on twitter and in his public comments. We've not seen any contradictory evidence yet in our investigation.
BLITZER: And so when the president says there was no quid pro quo, that he was simply trying to make sure that the Ukrainians deal with corruption in their country and wasn't seeking dirt on the Bidens, what do you say?
SWALWELL: Well, one, that is not the standard whether it was quid pro quo or not. I think he -- you know, in his request of the Ukrainian president, he said I have a favor to ask though. That is a pretty much a quid pro quo. Most people who, you know, engage in a quid pro quo never say, hey, by the way, let's have a quid pro quo go down right now.
But also, Wolf, when you read Ambassador Taylor's exchange with Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Taylor, Bill Taylor, the second in command in Ukraine, said are we really going to withhold security assistance in exchange for helping the president? It sounded like a quid pro quo to him.
BLITZER: As you know, Fiona Hill today, you heard from Manu, had high praise for the ousted ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. What picture in addition to what you're suggesting are you seeing emerge from her and potentially other witnesses?
SWALWELL: Again, Wolf, I found Ambassador Yovanovitch to be incredibly, you know, believable and incredible. She's a statesperson who served her country. I didn't hear anything today that contradicted the belief that I had of her or, you know, no one came out of Yovanovitch testimony saying that she was anything but credible.
This was a scheme by Rudy Giuliani and the president of the United States and Rudy Giuliani's indicted associates to undermine U.S. policy with Ukraine to back channel their own policy to essentially get deals to benefit themselves and also to help the president and his campaign.
BLITZER: You're scheduled to hear from another witness tomorrow, George Kent who served I understand at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine under both the Obama and Trump administration, a former State Department deputy assistance secretary. What do you hope to learn from him?
SWALWELL: Again, you know, we're just trying to make sure that, you know, everything here adds up. And frankly, Wolf, when you have a confession from the suspect, you don't have to interview as many witnesses, but I think the president is due a fair process.
And, you know, Mr. Kent is invoked in some of these conversations among other ambassadors so we want to bring him in and just make sure it adds up. I don't expect to hear anything different than what we've heard from the others, but again we should have them come forward and see where it takes us.
BLITZER: I said former deputy assistant secretary. Is he still the deputy assistant Secretary of State who oversees Ukraine and other areas in that part of the world?
SWALWELL: Actually, Wolf, one thing I learned today is that it's actually very confusing over at the State Department as to who is in charge of what right now, which I think allowed Mr. Giuliani as the president's agent, personal agent, to engage the way that he did.
It actually -- you will see when these transcripts come out, it's quite confusing to people who have served a very long time at the State Department as to who is in charge with which portfolio.
BLITZER: The "Washington Post" is reporting that Ambassador Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., the European Union, plans to testify that it was President Trump who told him there was no quid pro quo. Sondland also plans to say that he was oblivious to the fact that an
investigation into Burisma, that gas company, had any link to the Bidens. Do you buy that?
SWALWELL: I don't buy that. I don't buy that there was no quid pro quo. I'll reserve judgment until I hear from Ambassador Sondland. But Burisma, by the way, Wolf, is code for Biden. And so any time the president talked about investigating Burisma, that was code for investigating his potential political opponent.
And again, Wolf, if we had a president who came into office and said, he is going to seek to root out worldwide corruption of governments who get help from the United States and they're only going to get assistance if they're not corrupt, maybe, maybe I would buy this argument that he had an interest in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.
That is not what we're seeing here. This was strictly an interest to serve himself and nothing that would serve any American's interest.
BLITZER: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks for joining us.
SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: We're going to have much more on the breaking news. President Trump just now threatening strong economic sanctions on current and former Turkish officials because of the military incursion into Syria.
Also ahead, a Fort Worth police officer resigns amid outrage over the fatal shooting of a woman who was inside of her own home. Will the former officer now face charges?
BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories right now including President Trump just threatening powerful new economic sanctions on Turkey because of its military offensive in northern Syria. We have a lot to discuss with our correspondents and our analysts.
Evan, before we get to all of that, I want to get your thoughts right now. I know you're doing a lot of reporting, the testimony that's going on. Fiona hill, the president's former Russia adviser, meeting behind closed doors for hours and hours today. What are you hearing?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the interesting things is she is defending the ousted Ukrainian ambassador who has become the center of this controversy in Ukraine, Wolf, Yovanovitch. She basically says that, you know, she speaks very highly of her. Says that to her knowledge, you know, she was very good at her job. And so I think what that -- what that does, at least for the Democrats
and what they're trying to do, is it underscores someone who is an expert in this area who thinks that there was nothing wrong with what Yovanovitch was doing and perhaps lends credence to the idea that she was being pushed out for other reasons.
And again, those reasons, according to the Democrats and the people who are doing this investigation, are that Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, and some people in Ukraine wanted her out for their own reasons. And they got to the president and the president did their bidding essentially.
BLITZER: And that's what she herself testified. They wanted her out because she didn't agree with them on issues that she thought were false to begin with. You know, John Kirby, the president and Fiona Hill, his top Russia adviser, they didn't agree on a lot of stuff including Putin.
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Right. She's hawkish on Putin and hawkish on Russia and she is, as Evan noted, a bonafide Russian expert. This is what she does for a living having worked at Brookings.
And so, I think, you know, you wouldn't be surprised I think to learn out of her deposition that there were tensions and that she might have significant insight into the internal deliberations over how Yovanovitch came to be fired, how the Zelensky call was taken up. And I wouldn't be surprised at all to see that she differs with the president on much.
BLITZER: You know, Dana and Gloria, they're both already in Ohio getting ready for tomorrow's CNN Democratic presidential debate, but Dana, let's talk a little bit about Ambassador Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
He is set to appear behind closed doors on Thursday before these committees. The "Washington Post" as you know, says he plans to point the finger at President Trump for claiming there was no quid pro quo in those conversations with President Zelensky of Ukraine.
Also, he plans to say he had no idea the Burisma investigation, that's the natural gas company that Hunter Biden was on the board of, was linked to the Bidens. How do you think that explanation is going to go?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Not very well with the Democrats I would imagine, and that if he does in fact say that, that is going to be the biggest point of contention with the Democrats who are going to be asking him questions in these behind closed doors meetings that he is going to have just like others are having like Fiona Hill today.
But the biggest question for Sondland is going to be the president's involvement because, Gloria, you can talk to her about this, as she heard that he -- when he sent that text that we have all now seen, that looked very lawyerly, talking about the fact that he is very clearly saying it is not a quid pro quo.
That he did that after getting off the phone with the president of the United States himself. That is no question going to be the top issue that Democrats are going to want to know because it gets to the heart of whether or not this was all coming from the very top, the man who they are trying to impeachment or at least have an inquiry into whether or not impeachment proceedings should begin.
BLITZER: You know, Gloria, they are getting hours and hours of testimony, once again, behind closed doors from these witnesses, these officials, current and former, it eventually going to give them a pretty full picture.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And so far, Wolf, it seems like the picture they're getting is pretty much what was laid out by the whistleblower.
And I think what you'll hear from Mr. Sondland is that when Ambassador Volker was told by Giuliani, you know, just take care of Burisma. Make sure that Burisma is investigated.
That they did not know that Burisma was sort of the code, as Eric Swalwell put it, for Biden. They just thought, okay, another corrupt Ukrainian oil company. Well, okay, put it on our list to investigate.
And so what they're going to say is we didn't know that this was about Biden because perhaps the name Joe Biden or Hunter Biden never came up in their conversations.
But a lot of other people knew about it including the president of the United States. And when the president says that the whistleblower is wrong, just look at the phone call. You look at this testimony and you look at the summary of the phone call, it's all coming together and it is what the whistleblower said it would be.
BLITZER: Let's get John Kirby to what's going on with Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States. Hard to believe, a NATO -- the president just issued a pretty lengthy statement warning of sanctions, tough new sanctions on Turkey based on what they're doing in Syria right now specifically against the Kurds.
He writes -- he says this in a statement, "Turkey's military offensive is endangering civilians and threatening peace, security and stability in the region. I have been perfectly clear with President Erdogan. Turkey's action is precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes."
He's talking about possible Turkish war crimes, a NATO ally of the United States.
KIRBY: Yes, pretty remarkable. I think it's an interesting difference between that statement today and what he's been tweeting for the last several days and when he got off the phone with Erdogan, which was basically his attitude was, hey, lik, hands off, it is all yours. So they're trying clearly to toughen up his stance after he's already
made this very foolish policy decision. We'll see what it does. Now, this statement doesn't actually put sanctions in place. It is simply authorizes sanctions so nothing physically is done.
And it's very doubtful I think that sanctions are going to change Erdogan's game plan right now. He's already well into northeast Syria. He's got a plan. He's got troops on the ground. Sanctions are going to take a long time to have an effect even if they're put into place.
BLITZER: Gloria, if you take a look at the statement that the president released today compared to the October 6th White House statement announcing the U.S. was pulling out following his phone conversation with President Erdogan.
That statement was pretty bland saying the United States will not support or be involved in the operation. United States forces having defeated the ISIS territorial caliphate will no longer be in the immediate area. What a dramatic difference between then and now.
BORGER: Well, because the president is hearing from leading Republicans that like Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, his usual allies as well as Democrats that this is a complete and total disaster. And he didn't take the advice of his foreign policy advisers.
He did what he wanted to do and what seems -- if you read the "New York Times," what seems like a kind of ad hoc phone conversation with Erdogan, he decided on the spur of the moment to do something that is having this lasting impact and helping ISIS whom he said was defeated.
So, I think that he is hearing the message from his Republicans and trying to do a lot of damage control here because if he doesn't get on the bandwagon with his Republicans, they will do it to him and not with him.
BLITZER: Yes. He's been looking clearly for an excuse for a long time to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.
BLITZER: He had an excuse. He's now done it. The consequences are tragic what is going on right now. Much more an all of this right after a quick break.
BLITZER: We're back with our correspondents and our analysts.
And, Dana, you're there already at the Otterbein University where the CNN Democratic presidential debate will take place tomorrow night. The Quinnipiac national poll came out, a poll of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, and look at this. Elizabeth Warren now at 30 percent; Joe Biden, 27 percent. Bernie Sanders has dropped all the way down to only 11 percent. What do you make of that?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That -- so far, in the debates that we've seen, never mind the -- all of the rallies and town halls and everything else that have gone on so far in this race, Elizabeth Warren has, you know, been ascendant. And in particular, in these debates, nobody has laid a glove on her. And frankly, we haven't seen many of her competitors try in a real way. And that is going to be the thing to watch tomorrow night, is whether or not anybody actually tries, anybody gets more aggressive with her.
Now, even with tough questions that she's gotten from moderators, she -- you know, she knows how to do this. She's been debating since she's in high school. So she's been able to kind of weave around it, but the question is whether or not it's -- you know, it's a different thing when it comes from somebody who's standing on the stage who wants the same job that she wants.
Joe Biden said this week to some supporters that he feels like he needs to be more aggressive. So will he be the one to do that? That is going to be one of the fascinating things to watch on that debate stage --
BLITZER: You heard --
BASH: -- here tonight.
BLITZER: And you heard, Gloria, Bernie Sanders, over the weekend, say that the difference between him and Elizabeth Warren is she's a self- declared capitalist and, as we all know, he's a Democratic socialist.
BORGER: Right. I don't know how much that's going to help him with the electorate at large, but maybe he feels that it's one way to distinguish himself from Elizabeth Warren.
I mean, we have to also look at him on this stage. He's come back from a heart attack. He has to prove that he is still vigorous after, and I think he sees Elizabeth Warren going up at his expense. And so, they played nice together on the stage before. The question is, will he do that again with her this time, or will he try and carve out differences between them?
And also, I think another thing we have to watch is how everybody treats Joe Biden on this stage. They've backed off of the Hunter Biden affair. The worst thing anybody has ever said is that perhaps they wouldn't put their -- anyone in their family on a board of a foreign country while they were in office. Biden has his own ethics plan that he has put out before this debate, to no one's surprise.
And we'll see how much they go after him because a lot of these candidates, don't forget, this is it. Either you make a showing in this debate, or chances are you're gone.
BLITZER: How do you think the Hunter Biden thing, Evan, is going to play out on the debate stage tomorrow night? PEREZ: Well, it's going to be interesting if anybody tries to bring
this up at all, Wolf. Obviously, the Democrats believe that this is a smear campaign against the former Vice President, but this is a real issue that they're going to have to figure out how to -- how to address.
Certainly, I think Joe Biden's campaign has tried to figure out. They've changed their strategy by now addressing it head-on, having Hunter Biden address some of these issues, resign from the Chinese company's board to try to make sure that people see that they -- that they are turning the page.
But I think, you know, certainly, if anybody wants to bring up the idea that if you're going to fight against Donald Trump and bring up any ethics issues, then you also have to have a clean house. And I think that's going to be an interesting dynamic at play in this debate.
BLITZER: And he stepped back from the Ukrainian gas company in April.
BLITZER: Everybody, stand by. There's a lot more we need to cover. A quick reminder, be sure to tune in tomorrow night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, for the CNN and "New York Times" Democratic presidential debate. That's live from the battleground state of Ohio.
Still ahead, a Fort Worth police officer resigns amid outrage over the fatal shooting of a woman who was inside of her own home.
BLITZER: Breaking news, President Trump, this afternoon, threatened powerful new sanctions against Turkey because of its military offensive in Syria. Our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is along the Turkish/Syrian border.
Arwa, the Kurds who feel abandoned by the United States have now turned to the Russian-backed Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad for help. This is a major development.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It most certainly is, Wolf, although not entirely surprising. The Kurds never fully severed ties with the regime, and they do have very close ties to Russia. But once they realized that America was not coming to help them, they had no choice but to pretty much go crawling back to the regime. That led to this morning, various reports of the army of Bashar al-Assad moving up towards the border, an area that it really hadn't been in in years.
Turkey is pressing ahead with its operation along with its Syrian-Arab allies on the ground. But the situation is incredibly chaotic at this stage, Wolf. And according to one expert, there is something of a race that is unfolding between the army of the Syrian president and that of the Turks and their forces on the ground to capture as much territory as they respectively can before they are invariably going to have to negotiate.
And who is going to be central to those negotiations, Wolf? It's the Russians. Because in all of this, in Turkey launching this operation, they have managed to help the Russians achieve their main goal, and that is to get the Americans out of Syria, Wolf.
BLITZER: The President, President Trump, has suggested that the Kurds have released ISIS prisoners on purpose as a way to keep the U.S. involved. What are you hearing? You're there on the scene.
DAMON: You know, the situation when it comes to the status of the ISIS prisons and the camps, the large, sprawling camps who are mostly made up of the wives and widows of ISIS along with their children, is incredibly murky at this stage.
What the Turks are saying is that when they went into one town, they expected to go and have to raid a prison that had ISIS detainees in it. They say that when they got there, it was empty. They're accusing the Syrian-Kurdish forces of being the ones who released ISIS prisoners.
And then we're hearing the accusation from the Syrian-Kurdish forces that it was, in fact, due to Turkish artillery in a different area. And now, you have President Trump's voice in all of this effectively contradicting other U.S. officials who said they have no evidence of the Kurds having released prisoners whatsoever.
So it's a complete and total mess when it comes to that aspect of it. But, Wolf, the reality that this entire operation and America's decision to leave jeopardizes the war against ISIS, that remains true.
BLITZER: Yes, the Kurds clearly feel abandoned. They feel betrayed by the United States. And they were very close allies in this war against ISIS over these past several years. That's a fundamental fact.
Arwa Damon, on the border there, thank you very much.
Coming up, outrage in Fort Worth over the police killing of a woman who was in her own home.
BLITZER: Tonight, grief and outrage in Texas after a White police officer fatally shot an African-American woman inside her own home. That officer has now resigned and may soon face charges.
Brian Todd is on the story for us. Brian, give us the latest.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, the Fort Worth police are profusely apologizing to the family of Atatiana Jefferson, saying basically they don't know why this officer did what he did. The police are promising a full investigation tonight, which the victim's family basically has no trust in.
TODD (voice-over): Today, the interim Fort Worth police chief identified the officer who allegedly shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson as Aaron Dean, who he said had only been on the beat for a year and a half. The chief said Officer Dean resigned today from the force and now faces criminal charges.
ED KRAUS, INTERIM CHIEF OF POLICE, FORT WORTH POLICE DEPARTMENT, TEXAS: None of this information can ease the pain of Atatiana's family, but I hope it shows the community that we take these incidents seriously.
TODD (voice-over): On police bodycam video, an officer is seen approaching a door of Jefferson's home in Fort Worth. The screen door is closed, the solid door is open, and the lights are on inside. The officer walks the perimeter of the house. Then as he approaches a window --
AARON DEAN, FORMER POLICE OFFICER, FORT WORTH POLICE DEPARTMENT, TEXAS: Put your hands up. Show me your hands.
TODD (voice-over): The officer had fired within only a couple of seconds after shouting his verbal command and never did he identify himself as police. Atatiana Jefferson, 28 years old, died on the spot in her bedroom early Saturday morning. Tonight, her devastated family is demanding justice and accountability.
DARIUS CARR, BROTHER OF ATATIANA JEFFERSON: This man murdered someone. He should be arrested.
TODD (voice-over): The Fort Worth police are coming under enormous scrutiny tonight, in part because they're conducting their own investigation into Jefferson's death. Jefferson's family and their representatives say they have no trust in that and are demanding that federal officials step in to investigate what they say are obvious breaches of protocol.
S. LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR THE FAMILY OF ATATIANA JEFFERSON: They just made commonsense mistakes. They passed an open door. They failed to announce themselves. They passed a second open door. They failed to announce themselves. They crept around the back of the apartment and entered a closed gate.
TODD (voice-over): Police say they have asked the FBI to review the shooting for possible civil rights violations.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fort Worth police operator.
TODD (voice-over): The dispatch which sent officers to the scene wasn't even from an emergency 911 call. It was from a neighbor concerned for Atatiana Jefferson's safety.
JAMES SMITH, NEIGHBOR OF ATATIANA JEFFERSON: Well, the front doors have been open since 10:00 o'clock, and I haven't seen anybody moving around. It's not normal for them to have both of the doors open this time of night.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This was a Rambo approach to what should have been a wellness check to just see if everything was OK in the residence.
TODD (voice-over): Now, that concerned neighbor, James Smith, is distraught.
SMITH: I feel guilty because had I not called the Fort Worth Police Department, my neighbor would still be alive today.
TODD (voice-over): Fort Worth police initially said the officer perceived a threat inside the house, but police are being roundly criticized for releasing this photo in the hours immediately after the shooting. A still frame of what they say was a gun in Jefferson's bedroom.
KRAUS: In hindsight, it was -- it was a bad thing to do. I think it was to show that there was a weapon involved.
TODD (voice-over): But police have not said if Atatiana Jefferson was holding the gun when the officers approached.
CALLAN: By the way, it's perfectly legal for somebody to possess a firearm in their home in Fort Worth, Texas. She has a right to protect her own home from what she probably thought were burglars in the backyard.
TODD: Fort Worth police say the officer in question is not cooperating with investigators at the moment. The chief said the officer resigned before he was eligible to cooperate. But he was given his administrative warning on Sunday and based on their rules, he cannot be questioned for 48 hours after that. CNN has tried to reach Officer Aaron Dean for comment and has tried to contact possible police representatives for him. We have not heard back -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I understand, Brian, there was a child in the house when the shooting occurred?
TODD: Right, Wolf. Atatiana Jefferson's 8-year-old nephew was not only in the house; he was in the very same room with Jefferson when she was shot and killed. She was babysitting her nephew at that time.
The child's mother, Atatiana Jefferson's sister, says that's how she found out that her sister had been killed. The 8-year-old told her about it. That child is now undergoing counseling.
BLITZER: What a heartbreaking, awful, awful story. Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you very much. Coming up, key impeachment testimony from a former adviser to
President Trump. We're learning new details about her lengthy ongoing session up on Capitol Hill.