Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); New Poll Shows Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Locked In Close Race As Biden Takes On Trump Over Ethics; Trump Imposes Punishing Sanctions On Turkey And Calls For Immediate Ceasefire In Syria; White Fort Worth Police Resigns After Fatally Shooting African-American Woman In Her Own Home. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 14, 2019 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:01]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: Ukraine testimony.

President Trump's former top Russia adviser appears behind closed doors in the impeachment inquiry, starting a week of expected testimony by key administration officials. What are lawmakers hearing today about Rudy Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine?

Grave concern. President Trump now promising sanctions against Turkey for its attacks in Northern Syria, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sharply rebukes the president's decision to pull U.S. forces from the region. Amid sharp Republican criticism of the move, is the president now reconsidering?

Tight race. A new poll shows Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren in a close battle for the Democratic presidential nomination on this, the eve of CNN's next presidential debate. Will Biden's new ethics offensive against President Trump give him an edge?

And deadly collapse. An urgent search for a worker believed to be trapped in the rubble of a hotel construction site that collapsed, killing two people in New Orleans. But the building remains dangerously unstable tonight, making the rescue operation extremely risky.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories, including day- long testimony in the House impeachment inquiry by President Trump's former top Russia adviser.

Fiona Hill is the first person from the White House to testify in the inquiry into whether the president withheld military aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating his rival Joe Biden. And, tonight, the president is tweeting that he will sign an executive

order imposing sanctions on Turkey over its military offensive against U.S. allied Kurdish forces in Northern Syria. He also now says U.S. troops will keep what he calls a small footprint in Syria, as Republican criticism of his withdrawal decision grows and grows, including a very sharp rebuke tonight from the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

We will talk about that and more with Senator Ben Cardin of the Foreign Relations Committee. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go straight to Capitol Hill.

Our congressional reporter, Lauren Fox, is on the scene for us.

Lauren, lawmakers want to know more about the ouster of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and Rudy Giuliani's dealings in that country.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, that's right, Wolf.

Up here on Capitol Hill, Fiona Hill has been behind closed doors for roughly eight hours answering lawmakers' questions. We do know a couple of things that she has shed light on.

One of them is that she was not on that July 25 call between the president and Ukraine's president, but that she was part of the preparations of that call. We also know now that she spoke out after Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was let go of her post and redirected back to the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOX (voice-over): Tonight, testimony from the president's former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill. Hill is the first person from the White House to testify in the inquiry trying to determine if President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden, in exchange for military aid.

Democrats hope the closed-door hearing will shed light on what role the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani played in influencing Ukraine's government. Hill was no longer serving as President Trump's top Russian adviser at the time of the controversial July 25 call with the Ukrainian president.

But, according to "The New York Times," part of her testimony today is expected to include that Giuliani was running a shadow diplomacy effort in Ukraine.

House Republicans blasting House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for issuing a subpoena to Hill, despite her willingness to testify.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): She was going to come. She had agreed to come. She was going to come voluntarily. But he's going to subpoena her, I believe, so he can ask certain questions and, again, keep those secret, except for the certain things that he wants to leak.

FOX: One official working on the inquiry tells CNN the subpoena was necessary because the White House has prevented so many witnesses from testifying.

This as a slew of deadlines for administration officials to hand over documents approach this week. On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is set to testify, also under subpoena, where, according to "The Washington Post," he will allegedly tell members the president directed him to send a text message stating there was no quid pro quo when pressed on why the U.S. was withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.

"The Post" also reporting Sondland will testify he had no idea whether the president was telling him the truth.

[18:05:01]

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and the counsel to the State Department, Ulrich Brechbuhl, are also scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill this week, though it's unclear if they will show. It's also unclear whether lawmakers will hear from the person at the center of the impeachment inquiry, the whistle-blower.

Schiff citing concerns over predicting his or her identity.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOX: And, Wolf, back on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are returning from this two-week recess.

You can expect that there is going to be more debate about what next steps need to be taken in this impeachment inquiry, including the fact that some Democrats want to have a more formal vote to launch this impeachment inquiry, something Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, has said isn't necessary -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Lauren, thank you, Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill.

There's breaking news coming from the White House right now.

Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, I understand sanctions against Turkey, a NATO ally, have just been announced?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

Vice President Mike Pence in a rare moment in front of the cameras just outside the West Wing, he's talking to reporters right now, along with the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin.

They're announcing what the president tweeted earlier this afternoon, that the U.S. is going to be imposing new sanctions on Turkey. Vice President Pence said that some of these sanctions will be applied on top officials in the Turkish government. Wolf, this is in addition to what we're also hearing in terms of new

information coming out of the White House, that the president is calling on the Turkish government to have an immediate cease-fire in Syria and that the president has received an assurance from President Erdogan of Turkey that there will be a cessation of bombing in Kobani, the Syrian city of Kobani.

And so that -- those are the top lines from what we're hearing right now from the vice president, from the treasury secretary here in just the last several minutes.

This comes after the president was announcing earlier this afternoon that he is imposing new sanctions on Turkey and leaving some U.S. forces in the region. The question is whether that backpedaling will be enough for lawmakers from both parties who are slamming Mr. Trump's Syria policy.

There, of course, is another big potential crisis for the president playing out up on Capitol Hill right now, as his former Russia adviser Fiona Hill is sitting down with members of the Congress leading the impeachment inquiry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (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 whistle-blower 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 whistle-blower to testify. No, we must determine the whistle-blower'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.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I actually told my lawyers, I said, sue them anyway. He's got immunity. But they can't mean immunity for that.

I said, sue him anyway. Even if we lose, the American public will understand.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: And sue Nancy Pelosi. Or maybe we should just impeach them.

ACOSTA: Schiff argues there's good reason for the whistle-blower to remain anonymous.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Given that we already have the call record, we don't need the whistle-blower, who wasn't on the call, to tell us what took place during the call. We have the best evidence of that.

ACOSTA: 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.

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.

ACOSTA: But that's 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.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (D-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.

ACOSTA: 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 -- quote -- "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.

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 the administration, are going to come down on him like a ton of bricks, Iranian-type sanctions.

ACOSTA: 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.

[18:10:05]

The administration says it's not too late to punish Turkey.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: It's definitely not too late. This is a complicated situation.

ACOSTA: But Democrats insist Mr. Trump should take ownership of the slaughter of Kurdish U.S. allies.

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): Well, we will 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 VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, in just the last few minutes, speaking of that allegation that the president gave a green light to Turkey to invade Syria, Vice President Pence was just asked about this a few moments ago, Wolf.

He said the U.S. did not give a green light to Turkey to invade Syria. The president, according to the vice president, was very clear about that when he talked to the Turkish president, Erdogan, earlier today.

Wolf, one thing we should also point out, there's been some discussion as to whether or not President Erdogan would come to Washington and visit the White House, visit with the president next month. That is an invitation that has been extended by the president.

Vice President Pence was asked about whether or not that visit is still on. He did not give a yes-or-no answer to that question.

But, Wolf, given the fact that it sounds, even though the president and vice president, treasury secretary are all saying tough new sanctions are coming for Turkey, the president is not reversing course when it comes to withdrawing the U.S. forces from that area of Syria that were essentially acting as a firewall against a Turkish invasion of Syria.

Until that happens, he may not be satisfying, the president may not be satisfying a lot of critics on Capitol Hill who do believe that the president did give a green light to Turkey -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta over at the White House, thanks very much.

Let's get more on all of this. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland is joining us. He's a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

And let me get your quick reaction to the breaking news, the White House now saying sanctions have indeed been put in place against Turkey, and that the administration is calling for an immediate cease- fire.

Do you believe this statement from the president, the treasury secretary, the vice president will actually have an impact on the situation on the ground?

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Wolf, I have my doubts.

First, it's good to be with you.

I have my doubts. It was the president, after a conversation with Erdogan, that removed U.S. troops, which gave Turkey the green light to go into an area because the U.S. troops are no longer there.

Turkey's our NATO ally. And here they are attacking one of our key allies in dealing with the ISIS terrorists. So I really wonder what the president is doing in regards to Turkey. Now he says that he objects to what they're doing, even though he gave a clear message to Erdogan that the U.S. was pulling out of that area.

So, it makes -- it's inconsistent. Should we impose sanctions on Turkey? Absolutely, for what they're doing. But we have got to do more. We have got to reverse the U.S. policy. We can't cede this area to Turkey, which means you're going to have our fighters, our Kurdish fighters, now lining up with Syria and Russia.

That's not in the U.S. interests.

BLITZER: The president put out a very harshly worded statement attacking Turkey, a NATO ally, just a little while ago.

He said: "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 accusing the Turkish government, a NATO ally, once again, of possibly engaging in war crimes against the Kurdish people.

CARDIN: One has to wonder what the president thought was going to happen after he removed the U.S. troops.

He knows Turkey's enemy -- or they're most concerned about the Kurds. So, he knew that, once the U.S. pulled out of the area where the Kurdish fighters were, that Turkey would go into that area in order to cleanse the Kurdish population.

His advisers knew that. Members of Congress knew that. No one is surprised to see what Turkey is doing.

Should we react to what they're doing in a negative way? Absolutely. But make no mistake about it. The president set up the climate for Turkey to be able to do this. And that has to be reversed, and that's why I hope Congress will take action.

BLITZER: Because, on October 6, after the president's phone conversation with President Erdogan, the White House issued a statement saying that Turkey will, in fact, begin its long-planned operation into Northern Syria.

Then the White House statement said: "The United States armed forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and the United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial caliphate, will no longer be in the immediate area."

A lot of people suggest that was the so-called green light that the president gave President Erdogan. Do you think it was?

CARDIN: Oh, absolutely.

It was a clear signal to Turkey that they could go into this area. There would be no U.S. troops. Therefore, they didn't have to worry about casualties against a NATO ally, that they had free rein in that region.

[18:15:05]

Their objective is to get rid of the Kurds as a military force. That is their objective. They look at the Kurdish fighters as enemies of Turkey. And we look at them as allies in fighting ISIS.

Now it's much more complicated, because we're afraid that the Kurdish fighters will set up an alliance with Assad in Syria and with Putin in Russia.

BLITZER: Are sanctions enough, Senator, or do you think it's time for the U.S. to suspend arms sales to Turkey and possibly to suspend Turkey's membership in NATO?

CARDIN: I think we have to look beyond just sanctions. Sanctions are clearly called for.

But this is a NATO ally. Their conduct is unacceptable. They put a NATO ally, the United States, and our alliance in great risk. I think we have to look at much more aggressive actions than just sanctions.

BLITZER: Let's go to Ukraine for a moment while I have you, Senator. You have been urging the chairman of your committee, Senator Jim Risch, to hold hearings. So far, that hasn't happened.

What are your top concerns?

CARDIN: Well, the Congress has an oversight function here.

Ukraine is an important strategic partner of the United States. We know that Russia still occupies part of Ukraine. We are -- we have been urging the supplying of Ukraine of military equipment.

And, here, we have a conversation with the president which certainly raises questions as to whether that was conditional upon the Ukraine president doing some political favor for the president.

These are oversight issues that Congress has a responsibility, the United States Senate has a responsibility to conduct hearings. I would hope Democrats and Republicans want to get to the facts. What was happening?

Our policy in Ukraine is critically important to our national security. And the United States Senate has a responsibility to oversight what the administration is doing.

BLITZER: Yes, there have been a lot of hearings on this on the House side, so far, nothing on the Senate side.

Senator Cardin, thanks so much for joining us.

CARDIN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: There's more breaking news just ahead.

We are going to have more on the testimony of President Trump's former top Russia adviser in the impeachment inquiry and her backing of the ambassador ousted by the Trump administration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:22:13]

BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories, including the woman who served as President Trump's top adviser on Russia spending the day, hours and hours, answering questions on the impeachment inquiry up on Capitol Hill.

Let's dig deeper with our experts and our analysts.

And, Bianna, the House had been hearing this testimony from Fiona Hill.

What sort of context do you think she can provide, given the nature of the U.S.-Ukrainian relationship and that phone conversation that President Trump had with President Zelensky?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, she's a career intelligence officer and is a Russia hawk, and specifically a Putin hawk.

She's worked in multiple U.S. administrations. And what's differed regarding her relationship with Donald Trump, as opposed to Yovanovitch's, is that, while Yovanovitch -- the claims that she didn't get along with Trump or spoke ill of him, which we know are false, she -- Fiona Hill was under the radar.

So, while she was tough on Russia, a lot of people that follow Russia were actually relieved when she joined this administration and joined this team as an adviser, given some of the past things this president has said, running up even throughout the election, that he had said about Vladimir Putin.

She's been there for the meetings, some of the meetings, not the one- on-one meetings, but some of the meetings with Vladimir Putin. And, obviously, given her connection to Russia, she's also very informed and read in on U.S.-Ukraine relationships.

And so what we're learning is that, over time, even though she resigned prior to that July 25 conversation between the president of the United States and Zelensky, she was aware of Yovanovitch's treatment and some of the circumstances surrounding her leaving that role, and she was bothered by it, by all accounts.

"The New York Times" is reporting that she believed that Rudy Giuliani ran and circumvented what was the U.S.-Ukraine policy as a sort of shadow diplomacy with regards to Ukraine and was very alarmed by how Yovanovitch was treated.

BLITZER: It's interesting, David Swerdlick, because Fiona Hill, she did back up the ousted U.S. ambassador, Ambassador Yovanovitch.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: Right.

BLITZER: What does that say about the credibility of all these accusations against the president?

SWERDLICK: Right. Two things, I think, Wolf. One, as Bianna was saying, I think Fiona Hill is seen by many in

Washington at least as someone who is looking through this as through the lens of a security and a strategy and a diplomatic lens, not as a political actor, as much as someone, say, like Ambassador Sondland might be seen.

And so her testimony has the weight of her expertise. I also think it's the case that, with each person like Fiona Hill who says that Ambassador Yovanovitch wasn't acting out of bitterness because she was removed, but was acting in her capacity, her proper capacity as a diplomat, it will be harder for Republicans on the Hill and for the White House to accuse her of going against the president because of some personal grievance.

[18:25:10]

BLITZER: Phil Mudd, how do you see this playing out right now?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I love watching this. It's almost like watching Sunday football in the NFL.

Watch two pieces of this game play out. You can almost think of it like Russia. If you saw the presidential allies in Russia on Capitol Hill saying, there's nothing to this, this is all a witch-hunt, Republicans, including Robert Mueller, who were professionals, said, let's follow the facts.

Same thing happening here. Somebody who served in the Trump White House saying, there are facts here. The ambassador actually was not treated properly. Let's talk about those facts, vs. what other people, Trump supporters, including Mr. Sondland, are going to say, which I suspect is closer to what the politicians want.

Practitioners, politicians. Watch the story here.

BLITZER: And David Chalian is already at Otterbein University out in Ohio, where the CNN presidential debate will be taking place tomorrow night.

As you remember, David, and we covered it thoroughly on Friday, the president at that time said he didn't know if Rudy Giuliani was still his personal attorney, but that changed dramatically over the weekend, and he had some very nice things to say about Rudy Giuliani, including that he is still his personal attorney.

What's going on?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it seems what's going on is that Donald Trump came to a conclusion over the weekend that he's not ready to be done with Rudy Giuliani anytime soon.

You have seen this pattern with other people in Donald Trump's orbit. I think Michael Cohen is the example a lot of people have pointed to during the Stormy Daniels incident, Wolf.

And, at first, you know, Donald Trump was still keeping Michael Cohen within the family. And then it was time to, you know, roll the bus on over him, and Michael Cohen flipped.

I don't know that Donald Trump will ever roll the bus right over Giuliani, but it seemed on Friday he was trying to create some distance.

And you're right to note it was a full embrace over the weekend, which, to me, suggests the president still sees some usefulness in this -- dealing with this Ukraine affair and the impeachment inquiry with Rudy Giuliani still very much in his orbit.

BLITZER: Yes, the president did have lunch on Saturday with Rudy Giuliani at his country club, his golf course out in suburban Virginia here in Washington.

Everybody, stand by. There's a lot more we need to cover on all the breaking news.

We will right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BLITZER: On this, the eve of the CNN and "New York Times" Democratic Presidential Debate, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren locked in a very close contest for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Now, CNN Political Reporter Arlette Saenz reports Biden is hitting back against the president's campaign to raise ethics questions about him and his son.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Joe Biden ramping up his defense of his son, Hunter, after weeks of attacks from President Trump.

JOE BIDEN (D), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No one has asserted my son did a single thing wrong. No one has asserted that I have done anything wrong, except the lying president.

SAENZ: The Biden father and son at the center of the impeachment inquiry into the president, who urged foreign governments to investigate the Bidens, though there's no evidence of wrongdoing on their part.

Hunter Biden announcing Sunday he's stepping down from the board of a Chinese-backed private equity firm, and pledging not to work for any foreign-owned companies or sit on their boards if his father is elected president.

An attorney for Hunter Biden saying Hunter always understood that his father would be guided entirely and unequivocally by established U.S. policy, irrespective of its effects of Hunter's personal interests. In Iowa, the former vice president promising transparency in his White House and taking a jab at President Trump and his family in the process.

BIDEN: No one in my family will have an office in the White House, will sit in on meetings as if they're a cabinet member, will, in fact, have any business relationship with anyone that relates to a foreign corporation or a foreign country, period.

SAENZ: Pete Buttigieg also calling out the president and his family.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-SOUTH BEND, IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here you have Hunter Biden stepping down from a position in order to make sure even though there's been no accusation of wrongdoing, doing something just to make sure there's not even the appearance of a conflict of interest. While in the White House, the president of the United States is a walking conflict of interest.

SAENZ: An another rebuke of President Trump, Biden is out with a new government ethics plan, which would prevent members of his administration from interfering in Justice Department investigations and sets up a new ethics commission to enforce anti-corruption laws.

Biden's ethics roll out comes on the eve of CNN's Democratic Primary debate in Ohio, 12 candidates preparing to face off with Biden and Elizabeth Warren at center stage, and Bernie Sanders making his return to the campaign trail after suffering a heart attack nearly two weeks ago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAENZ: Now, also coming tomorrow morning, Hunter Biden sat for an interview with ABC News where he talked about President Trump's recent attacks on him and his father. A source I spoke with said the campaign was aware of the interview ahead of time, but it was Hunter's decision to sit down for that interview. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Arlette, thanks very much.

Let's get back to our analysts, our correspondents. And, David Chalian, what do you think?

[18:35:00]

Is the former vice president, Joe Biden, beginning to gain in the narrative on this whole issue?

CHALIAN: Well, it's a good question, Wolf. I do think you see a bit of a strategy shift here in the last 36 hours from Joe Biden and his team. Initially, when any question came his way about Hunter Biden or whether or not it was right for him to serve on a foreign company's board while Joe Biden was vice president, he would just turn that and say that's the wrong question. We should be focused on what President Trump is doing.

But this weekend and today continued, we saw from the Biden team, Hunter Biden's lawyer put out that statement, Arlette just mentioned the interview Hunter Biden is going to be doing, Joe Biden rolled out that ethics plan, and he answered reporters' questions about this. What he said, Wolf, was that if he is to be president of the United States, no family member of his would be serving on any foreign entity, whatsoever.

Well, that seems to be an implicit admission that what he did as vice president may not have been the best way forward on these ethics issues.

So it does seem that Joe Biden is now sort of moving ahead. How he's going to handle it as president, should he win, and, by the way, turn it on President Trump and draw the contrast with the president and his children, his daughter and son-in-law, who are in the west wing, or his other children, who were doing businesses overseas while he's president, that's a contrast Joe Biden likes.

BLITZER: How do you see it, Bianna?

GOLODRYGA: Well, it will be interesting to see how the other Democratic candidates approach this. Earlier in leading up to Joe Biden speaking out about this more forcefully, and obviously Hunter Biden deciding to step down, you had three presidential candidates say out loud that they would not be comfortable with their vice president if their children sat on the boards of foreign companies.

You had Pete Buttigieg yesterday really deflect against the question when he spoke with Jake Tapper, as we just showed, and he said look at the Commander-in-Chief. It's going to be interesting tomorrow to see given the latest moves that we saw from Hunter Biden and the statements from Joe Biden, whether the other candidates will be more in line with Pete Buttigieg or whether they will go back to what many Democrats fear is a circular firing squad and attack Joe Biden for that.

BLITZER: And, David, this new Quinnipiac University poll, and Democratic-leaning voters nationwide, Elizabeth Warren is at 30 percent, Joe Biden, 27 percent, Bernie Sanders has dropped to only 11 percent.

SWERDLICK: Right. Polls are always only snapshot, but this looks like it's shaping up right at this moment to a two-person race, one representing the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, the other, the progressive wing. I think this is an important debate for Vice President Biden. Senator Warren has crept up on him all summer. If the next polls in the weeks after this debate turn out like this, I think it suggests that she's gaining strength and he's losing.

BLITZER: So what are you going to be looking for in tomorrow night's debate?

MUDD: Pretty simple, in my lifetime, you got people who were progressives, that is Clinton, Obama scored big. The tried and true candidate for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, she didn't score. Biden is a Hillary Clinton candidate. traditionalist for the Democratic Party. I want to see whether the progressives beat the moderates or the centrists, I guess, you would say. I suspect they will. That's a history of a successful Democratic Party, I think.

BLITZER: And very quickly, let me get David Chalian. He is there already in Ohio. What are you looking for?

CHALIAN: Well, I am also looking for that sort of ideological battle, that approach, right, whether calling for that big structural change the way that Elizabeth Warren does or the more sort of evolutionary aspect to change that Joe Biden calls for. I think it will be very interesting to see that divide.

I also would note very quickly, Wolf, on the polls. It is worth noting that in these last three weeks, Joe Biden really hasn't taken a hit here. Yes, even before the Ukraine story, Elizabeth Warren was on the rise, and competitive with him, but we haven't seen him really take on water. And I'm very curious to see if he uses this debate to really try to move beyond this story that has his son and himself front and center.

BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's a lot more news we've got to cover. Be sure to join us tomorrow night for the CNN and "New York Times" Democratic Presidential Debate live from the battleground State of Ohio. That's at 8:00 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN.

Stand by. There's a lot more news in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, new sanctions on Turkey just imposed by President Trump over the Turkish invasion of Northern Syria, with the president now calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr is working the story for us. Barbara, tonight, the Trump administration is attempting to squarely blame the Turkish government for all the chaos, the tragedy, the slaughter unfolding in Syria right now. What are you hearing at the Pentagon?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have very fast- moving developments now, Wolf. Vice President Pence coming out a short time ago and laying some new groundwork for all of this, but as you say, taking no responsibility on behalf of the Trump administration for what has happened.

President Trump today talking to the Turkish leader, President Erdogan, insisting, trying very hard to get a ceasefire out of Erdogan, we will see if that happens. Pence going to Turkey to try and work on that, getting the commitment not to attack the Northern Syrian town of Kobani, which is a Kurdish stronghold.

[18:45:01]

STARR: Then the president also talking to General Mazloum, the head of the Syrian Kurds, that the U.S. until now has been aligned with in the fight against ISIS. General Mazloum very much wanting to hold on to Kobani. He does not

want the Turks to take that. It's a strategic position for him, and promising the president that his fighters would continue to try and guard and detain the thousands of ISIS detainees that they have in their detention facilities.

But this is a long road, Wolf. It has all fallen apart very quickly in the last few days. Whether they can put the pieces back together and get some kind of ceasefire, get some kind of stability, get people back in their towns and villages, it may be a very long road to making all of that happen -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's an awful, awful, horrendous situation unfolding right now. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you.

Just ahead, outrage over the fatal shooting of an African-American woman by a white police officer in her own home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:50:44]

BLITZER: In Texas, fresh outrage tonight as another fatal shooting of an African-American in their own home by a white police officer. The victim, a 28-year-old woman who was playing video games with her 8- year-old nephew when she was shot through the window by a policeman who never identified himself.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov is in the Fort Worth with the very latest.

Now, Lucy, the officer was about to be fired for this, but he resigned first. Update our viewers on the very latest.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

Aaron Dean, the officer accused of killing Atatiana Jefferson, quit this morning before investigators could even fully question him. Now, he's facing criminal charges.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The officer tendered his resignation this morning. Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for several violation of policies.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Tonight, the Fort Worth police announcing the white police officer who shot and killed 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson is no longer on the force. The black woman was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew inside her home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aaron Dean, ID 4598, was the officer who responded to the call and fired the shot that killed Atatiana. The officer still faces criminal charges from the major case investigation.

KAFANOV: This as Jefferson's family and community are calling for the federal government to step in. ADARIUS CARR, ATATIANA JEFFERSON'S BROTHER: Fort Worth PD cannot

investigate themselves. This man murdered someone. He should be arrested.

KAFANOV: Saturday, around 2:25 a.m., police responded to a non- emergency call from a man concerned for his neighbor's safety.

CALLER: Well, the front doors had been opened since 10:00. I didn't see anybody moving around. It's not normal for them to have both of the door open this time of night.

KAFANOV: James Smith says his neighbor, an elderly woman with a heart condition lives with her daughter Atatiana, who worked in pharmaceutical equipment sales. Smith says he knew Jefferson was home at the time, taking care of her sister's little boy.

Minutes after his call to police, officers arrived at the house. This heavily edited body camera video released by Fort Worth police shows a male officer who never identified himself walking around the home. He shined a flash light towards the dark room, yells verbal commands, opening fire two second later.

POLICE OFFICER: Put your hand up, show me your hands.

KAFANOV: Jefferson was pronounced dead inside her bedroom.

AMBER CARR, ATATIANA JEFFERSON'S SISTER: My son who was there to witness the event told us the police had shot his aunt and at that time I knew nothing about that. So he was the one who actually told what had happened.

KAFANOV: Tonight, questions remain as to why that officer did not announce that he was a police officer before firing.

(CHANTING)

KAFANOV: Sunday, the community held a candlelight vigil for Jefferson.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I stand here in support of a beautiful, 28-year- old who was senselessly gunned down in her home. A haven, a home, a place she should have been safe.

KAFANOV: Saturday's shooting is the ninth police shooting this year involving Fort Worth police. Seven of them deadly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This happened Saturday. Why this man is not in handcuffs right now is a source of continued agitation for this family and for this community.

KAFANOV: Now, Jefferson's neighbor, James Smith, is wrestling with his decision to call police.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAFANOV: As you saw there, there is a lot of grief, a lot of raw emotion in this community. The family is calling for an independent investigation of the officer as well as the department's practices. But, Wolf, it is going to take a lot more than promises for folks here to feel safe again -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What a heartbreaking story this is.

Lucy Kafanov in Fort Worth for us -- thank you very much.

Just ahead, new details of a deadly construction collapse and the urgent search for a missing worker believed trapped in the rubble.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:59:20]

BLITZER: Tonight, an urgent rescue is under way for a missing worker believed to be trapped in the rubble after a New Orleans hotel under construction suddenly collapsed. Video shows the moment the Hard Rock Hotel came crashing down. Two people were killed Saturday. More than two dozen have been hospitalized.

Vehicles narrowly escaped falling debris. Workers and pedestrians emerged from a cloud of dust as the upper floors fell on each other. Officials say the building remains very unstable right now and could further collapse even as engineers work to try to stabilize it. An investigation into the cause is currently under way. Let's hope for the best.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

[19:00:00]