Return to Transcripts main page
AT THIS HOUR
Ft. Worth PD News Conference on Fatal Police Shooting of Woman Inside Her Home; Career Diplomat George Kent Testifying Now in Impeachment Inquiry; Ex-Adviser Says Bolton Called Giuliani "A Hand Grenade". Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired October 15, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.
We are tracking breaking news on two fronts right now. First, in Ft. Worth, Texas, the police department there's going to be holding a news conference at any moment. We're expecting new information to be coming out about the deadly police shooting of an unarmed woman in her own home.
The death of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson is sparking outrage in her community and raising serious and important questions across the country. The officer who shot her is now charged with murder. We're going to bring you this news conference when it begins. Could be beginning any second now.
The other big story we are monitoring right now is a new witness testifying before House investigators on Capitol Hill. Career diplomat, George Kent, is behind closed doors. He's deputy assistant secretary of state. Before that he was chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine.
His appearance follows what can be described as nothing short of explosive testimony yesterday. President Trump's former Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, laying out to lawmakers in what's described in near perfect recall a scene of what she described of wrongdoing on the part of American foreign policy.
Put another way, it's almost sounding like a broad conspiracy to use American foreign policy to benefit the president's personal demands. We are going to get to that in a moment.
I do want to get back over to Ft. Worth, Texas. That press conference is beginning right now.
ED KRAUS, INTERIM CHIEF, FT. WORTH POLICE DEPARTMENT: -- should not have been taken from Ms. Jefferson. This incident has eroded the trust we have built with our community, and we must work harder to ensure that trust is restored.
Concerning the status of the criminal investigation, at approximately 6:00 p.m. yesterday, Aaron Dean was arrested for the murder of Ms. Jefferson. We obtained an arrest warrant after enough facts were analyzed and verified. A team of officers arrested him at the office of his attorney. He was booked into the Tarrant County jail where his bond was set by the presiding magistrate. He has since posted bond.
We're continuing to work closely with the Tarrant County criminal district attorney's office to ensure this entire investigation is prosecuted in a thorough, meticulous and solid manner.
To the citizens and the residents of our city, we understand your frustration and disappointment. I, too, am frustrated and disappointed by what occurred and the officer's actions. We never want an officer's response to a call to end in the loss of life.
We have a great many officers who work extremely hard every day. They do this at great sacrifice and with a servant's heart. I ask you to please do not let the action of one officer's reflect on the other 1,700.
There's absolutely no excuse for this incident, and the person responsible will be held accountable. Ms. Jefferson's family and our community will have the last word. The courts will speak on her behalf.
Each and every one of you have our support and our commitment to serve you better. We strive to be better every day than we were the day before.
My prayer for Atatiana's family, our community, and our department comes from Numbers, chapter six, verses 24 and 26. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord's face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
I'll take some questions.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, the Jefferson family said they want reform of what they see, what do you see changing?
KRAUS: As the city manager eluded to yesterday, we're looking at bringing in an independent third-party group to come in and evaluate our policies, practices, and training to ensure we're above best- practice standards.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
KRAUS: I cannot tell you what he felt. He did not give a statement. The gun was found just inside the room. But it makes sense that she would have a gun if she felt that she was being threatened or there was someone in the backyard.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, officers from what department exactly arrested him? (INAUDIBLE)
KRAUS: They were Ft. Worth officers, and I was not made aware that there was any type of struggle or anything like that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) If they were responding to a welfare check, why did they park around the corner from the house? Also why did they not ring the doorbell and knock on the door?
KRAUS: They believed they were responding to an open-structure call and not just a welfare check.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, my question to that -- you said that yesterday -- who determined -- this neighbor called and said the door is open. Who determined this is an open structure call versus a welfare call because, as you said yesterday, those are two different types of responses from the officer?
KRAUS: The information came from the neighbor to the call takers. While it was relayed to the dispatch, it was determined to be an open- structure call.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So the dispatcher?
KRAUS: I can't tell you if it was specifically if it was the dispatcher. That's something we're looking into.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We heard the call from the neighbor to dispatch.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What is procedure for officers on an open structure? Is it to go on to the property and look in windows? Is an open structure to be to knock on the door?
KRAUS: It depends on what the officers believed at the time. If they think the structure is open due to somebody breaking in or something like that, that would elicit one response. If they think it's just somebody left their door open, that would elicit a separate response.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, in your memory, is this the fastest an officer is prosecuted in this type of thing?
KRAUS: He's not prosecuted yesterday. He's simply been arrested. There's still a long haul ahead of us. To my knowledge, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What kind of toll has this taken throughout the department? You've got officers still having to be out and responding to calls? What steps are being taken?
KRAUS: So, the morale -- the morale piece is -- I don't have any officers saying this action should not have been taken against this individual, this officer. I'm getting the complete opposite response: Chief, thank you for being quick and decisive. This is going to help heal us.
The officers are hurting. I've been out there on patrol, and since this occurred, and it's -- the officers -- they come up and hug and -- it's very emotional because the officers, they try hard every day to try to make this city better.
I likened it yesterday to some of our officers that are out there every weekend and most weeknights that they're out there trying to build these relationships and I likened it to a bunch of ants building an ant hill and somebody comes with a hose and washes it away and you have to start from scratch and build over.
I think that's going to be all. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Wow. Emotional reaction there from the police chief in Ft. Worth when describing what this has been like, the aftermath of the horrific killing of Atatiana Jefferson in her home over the weekend by a police officer, a member of the Ft. Worth Police Department.
Joining me right now is CNN's Lucy Kafanov. We're also joined by CNN law enforcement analyst, Charles Ramsey, former police commissioner of Philadelphia.
Lucy, I want to get to what we've learned in just a second.
But, Commissioner, can you just talk to me about what we just saw from the police chief, what we heard from the police chief, there's absolutely no excuse for what happened? But the -- how emotional he just became in describing the impact this has on the police department and the other officers.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it's a tragedy in a lot of ways --
BOLDUAN: One second, Lucy.
Go ahead, Commissioner.
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, this is a tragedy in so many different ways, including for the Ft. Worth Police Department. One thing I do have to say is commend them for acting swiftly.
This is a situation where it is an unjustified shooting from everything I've seen. You have to deal with it and deal with it quickly for the sake of the community, the family, the men and women of the Ft. Worth Police Department. And I think they're doing the right thing bringing forth charges. Hopefully, this doesn't take too long to be resolved through the court system. But again he's entitled to due process like anyone else.
The fact they took such swift action, they knew from the beginning this was not a justified shooting. The evidence was there that this woman's in her own home. She had no idea the police were even being dispatched. You know, you probably had startled response.
Plus, he gave a command, show me your hands, and within a second, he's firing rounds. People have to have a chance to respond to your commands. It's just bad all the way around.
BOLDUAN: Bad all the way around. We do know that Atatiana Jefferson's family is going to be speaking shortly. We'll keep an eye on that.
Lucy, you've been on the ground there, tell me what you heard from the press conference from the police chief and what we've learned today.
KAFANOV: Well, we understand that it was the Ft. Worth police who arrested Aaron Dean. We also saw the interim police chief questioned about why the officers responded the way they did, knowing that this was a wellness call. We did learn at that press conference that they actually believed they were responding to something called an open- structure call, not a welfare check. And that might have influenced the way that the officers behaved.
Although of course, going from two seconds from a verbal command to shooting, not justified. That is what we heard from the officials here today. They are taking responsibility. They are responding with quick and swift action.
It's interesting to see how emotional the interim police chief got. That could be, in part, because of the history of the Ft. Worth Police Department. This is now the ninth officer-involved shooting in Ft. Worth, Texas, this year alone. Seven of those shootings were fatal.
We did see that the department is trying to step up. They're trying to respond immediately. They're trying to calm the community, which has felt frustrated in the past with the way the police handle these kinds of cases.
We know that Aaron Dean is out on bail. We know that this criminal investigation is still ongoing.
And there's also a potential FBI investigation that hasn't been launched yet. But the Ft. Worth Police Department has reached out to the FBI. They want a civil rights investigation. We're going to wait to see if the federal authorities will step in and take action here.
BOLDUAN: Lucy, thank you so much.
Commissioner, one thing I think is most important is not just the questions, the concern and the outrage that's happened among the community, but also big questions this raises, important questions this raises across the country once again.
And the police during this news conference addressed it. He talked directly to it when he said it's like ants trying to build something up together and it takes just one person to bring a hose to wash it all away and start back in square one.
I think there are a lot of people in this community and beyond, as Lucy's pointing out, that are very scared. How do they go about trying to reassure people, make them feel safe, after something that appears to be so horrific happening over the weekend?
RAMSEY: I mean, it is difficult. And I think that the chief really nailed it when he said that, you know, it is like sometimes building an ant hill and then having it all washed away.
And the reality is that it happened in Ft. Worth but it affects law enforcement around the country. In today's world of social media, 24 hours news, video, what happens in one place is shown around the country, around the world for that matter, and it affects us all.
He's doing the right thing by asking for a third party to come in and assess the department from top to bottom. I think that's important they do that now. We can always improve on policies, procedures, training, and the like.
But even with that, sometimes bad things will happen. I don't know what was on this person's mind. I don't know if he was afraid. I don't know what it is. But if he was that afraid, he shouldn't be a cop to begin with.
Those are the kinds of things that happen. But again, they took very, very swift action and that should serve as a model to other police departments. If it's unjustified shooting, it's unjustified. Deal with it. Do not take a long period of time because that just leads to more unrest, distrust, and everything else.
BOLDUAN: And pain, more pain for the community and the families all involved.
BOLDUAN: Commissioner, thanks so much.
Lucy, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.
Coming up for us still, a new day and new witness in the impeachment probes on Capitol Hill. Another career diplomatic, a current top official in the State Department behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. Stay with us. We have much more coming up.
Plus, speaking out today. Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, breaking his silence amid ongoing attacks from President Trump over his foreign business ties. And just hours before his father takes the debate stage.
We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: Career diplomat, George Kent, is behind closed doors right now. He's a deputy assistant secretary of state. Before that he was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy at Ukraine.
His appearance on Capitol Hill follows what can be described as only explosive, explosive, striking testimony yesterday. President Trump's former Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, laying out to lawmakers, in what's described as near-perfect recall, a scene of what she described as wrongdoing on the part of American foreign policy.
Put another way, it almost sounds like a board conspiracy to use American policy to benefit the president's personal demands, shadow diplomacy lead by freelance attorney, not even working for the U.S. government.
The growing alarm of White House officials over that, including the national security adviser. Fiona Hill quoting John Bolton as saying this about Rudy Giuliani, calling him "a hand grenade that is going to blow up, blow everybody up."
And by the way, to keep in mind, the "Wall Street Journal" is now reporting that Rudy Giuliani is now under criminal investigation, facing that.
So, let's begin right now on Capitol Hill because there's a ton to get to. CNN senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, is there.
Manu, what is expected there today?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George Kent is behind closed doors. He's been there for a little bit under two hours, about an hour and a half or two. We expect this to be a full day's session.
We are now learning that he had just been hit with the subpoena to testify today. Now, this comes in the aftermath of the State Department seeking to block his testimony, other peoples' testimony under the direction from the White House.
And Democrats moving to subpoena a range of witnesses whose testimony could be limited in any way, including Fiona Hill, who was subpoenaed yesterday, in the aftermath of concerns raised by the White House of privilege claims, that she was potentially breeching privilege.
Also last week, Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, was subpoenaed as well. She's a current State Department employee, but these current employees are coming in because they're being faced with subpoenas.
Now, one of the things that Kent will be asked about today is all the circumstances around Yovanovitch's ouster. That's a big focus of this investigation because Democrats believe she was unfairly targeted as a way to advance the president's interest, namely, to push for this investigation to Joe Biden. Rudy Giuliani, the president's current personal attorney, targeted Yovanovitch.
We now know that George Kent, according to emails provided to Congress, raised concerns about that so-called smear campaign going after Yovanovitch pushed back, tried to protect her. Those will be among the questions he will face behind closed doors. We'll hear whether or not he raised concerns about that phone call with President Zelensky, as Trump urged to open the investigation.
But, Kate, this comes at full speed as Democrats and Republicans return to session today after a two-week recess. Democrats meet tonight to discuss their impeachment inquiry as pressure grows to wrap this up in the coming weeks -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Yes. As you well point out, while this investigation has clearly been moving very quickly, this is the first day really that all of Congress, House, and Senate, are back in session. First time for this to all be happening while Congress is now back in session. So, this is a critical moment in a critical day, especially in the days ahead.
Good to see you, Manu. Thank you so much.
So, make no mistake, this now goes way beyond the whistleblower complaint and the July 25th call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine. It's important to keep perspective on all of this.
CNN senior national correspondent, Alex Marquardt, is joining us on what should be looked at, which is still the bigger picture.
Alex, Fiona Hill testified yesterday about John Bolton and John Bolton told her to go to White House counsel because he was so concerned about what was going on in regard to President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Ukraine. What do you make of that jaw-dropping fact?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That it's jaw dropping. It's really stunning. We can't come up with enough adjectives. We cannot overstate this, Kate.
Here you have the most senior foreign policy aide in the White House, John Bolton, the national security adviser, telling a senior member of his team, Fiona Hill, that he was so uncomfortable with the way the president was carrying out the relationship with Ukraine that the lawyers should know about it.
Bolton has been pretty quiet since he lost his job at the White House. But we know from sources that, behind closed doors on Capitol Hill yesterday, Fiona Hill was telling lawmakers there was what she called a rogue operation going on. She said Bolton compared it to a drug deal.
At the center of this, which many Democrats have called a shadow foreign policy with Ukraine, is the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who we know was trying to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son in Ukrainian. Hill said yesterday that Bolton had called Giuliani" a hand grenade who is going to blow everybody up." We should note, Hill had left the White House by the time that
infamous July 25th call happened between President Trump and President Zelensky.
But she was in a meeting two weeks before that on July 10th when one of the president's top aides to Ukraine, the E.U. ambassador, Gordon Sondland, he talked about investigations, which Hill took as a reference to investigating the Bidens in Ukrainian.
And that, Kate, is when John Bolton told her to go to the top NSC lawyer. A source says that she saw wrongdoing related to the Ukraine policy and reported it.
Kate, big picture here, we have two of the president's top foreign policy aides feeling like there was such a rogue, parallel policy when it came to Ukraine, they had to notify the lawyers. That is a major development -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: And as you point out, this is even before the July 25th phone call that was the source of the whistleblower complaint. Again, this goes well beyond and before the whistleblower complaint, everything that's encapsulated in that.
Alex, thank you so much.
Here with me now is Caroline Polisi, a federal and white-collar criminal defense attorney, and Sean Turner is a CNN national security analyst, a former U.S. national intelligence official.
Sean, if you can, jumping off where Alex left us, can you just gut- check folks for just how wild this is? I mean, you have the national security adviser to the president so concerned about a rogue foreign policy operation under way that Giuliani was running apparently at the behest of the president that he tells his top aide to alert the attorney for the National Security Council.
SEAN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, Kate. You know, I've been thinking a lot about whether or not there was anything during all of my time working in the national security field that even came close to paralleling this, and the truth is there's not.
You know, for John Bolton to give this advice to a senior official, to go to an attorney and to report on what is clearly not only inappropriate but potentially illegal activity with regard to the national security, is unlike anything that I've ever seen.
And I think that as we unfold all of this -- and I think Alex Marquardt's comments were right -- as we unfold this, we have to remember that while there was effort to keep this out of public sight, to keep Americans from seeing this, at the same time, we can't forget that our allies around the world are watching what's happening with regard to what's going on in the United States.
And we have a lot of adversaries spying on the United States. This information, what this administration was trying to do and what they were trying to hide, is information that, as Fiona Hill pointed out yesterday, the Russians would likely have that would give them leverage over the president.
For so many reasons, this is not just about the president behaving badly or Rudy Giuliani behaving badly. This is about our national security and broader issues that impact every American.
BOLDUAN: With this new information coming out, Caroline, I think a key question at this moment is are you surprised that John Bolton hasn't been called yet to testify?
CAROLINE POLISI, FEDERAL & WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think he absolutely will be. He's been saying under the radar, as Alex pointed out.
POLISI: Look, this guy is no spring chicken. He's been around the block. For him to be outraged and use the type of language he used, not only is it impermissible, but it's criminal really.
BOLDUAN: And no raging anti-Trump liberal either.
POLISI: Exactly. He had his eyes opened when he entered that administration.
POLISI: I think that's really interesting -- there's a lot of concentric circles overlapping and so many things to point it. But Fiona Hill's testimony, one thing reported was she was a fierce advocate for Maria Yovanovitch, saying she did not believe her ouster was with merit.
And one of the things we saw last week in these two Giuliani associates' arrests, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, they were working in this rogue diplomacy, shadow diplomacy with Rudy Giuliani to remove Yovanovitch from that position. So Giuliani is inherently implicated in that as well.
There's going to be more information coming to light on that front, too.
BOLDUAN: Sean, in letters back and forth, in the letters that went back and forth that have been released Friday, Fiona Hill's attorneys and White House attorneys, one line is definitely not going unnoticed is this.
Her attorneys write, "Finally we understand that deliberative process privilege," quote, "disappears altogether when there's any reason to believe government misconduct occurred."
What they're talking about is executive privilege, that the White House, of course, is threatening to claim to block some of her testimony. I mean, what does this tell you?
TURNER: Well, it tells me that the White House knows that there's something to hide here. Look, you know, if you go back and look at the ways that other presidents have invoked executive privilege, typically, the desire is to ensure that the president has the right, the authority to be able to receive counsel from his advisers that is not given to the public or given to those that might use it against him.
But that's not the way this administration is looking to use executive privilege. Clearly, there were communications and behaviors and activities behind the scenes that were not in the best interest of U.S. national security and activities that we now know that were political in nature. And that is not just cause for the president to be able to use executive privilege to keep people quiet.
It also tramples on the authority of Congress to conduct proper oversight. The reason that these individuals are having to show up under subpoena is because when the invitations were extended for them to come and speak voluntarily, the White House said, no,, we don't want you to speak.
It remains what is the White House trying to hide here? And I think they're using executive privilege to try to keep some of the details of what happened here from coming out.
BOLDUAN: Does not look, at least from all view, that we have right now that that stopped Fiona Hill from saying anything. She was in there 10 hours testifying yesterday. George Kent in there now.