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Democrats Organize in Ohio for 2020 Election; Fiona Hill Testified Before Congress Yesterday; Fort Worth Police Investigating Atatiana Jefferson Shooting by Police Officer. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired October 15, 2019 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: The road to the White House runs through Ohio tonight as the 2020 Democratic hopefuls take the stage for the next presidential debate.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Of course, the president carried Ohio by eight points. Democrats, not writing it off for 2020. Jeff Zeleny explains from the Buckeye State.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Ohio. We love you, Ohio.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And Ohio loved President Trump back. His 2016 victory, so convincing it begs the question of whether Ohio has lost its lore as a pivotal battleground.
This week, as Democratic presidential candidates descend on the state for their next debate, all eyes are on Ohio. But will they be by Election Day?
MAYOR NAN WHALEY, DAYTON, OHIO: Why would you abdicate Ohio so quickly to Donald Trump?
ZELENY (voice-over): Nan Whaley is the Democratic mayor of Dayton. She says voters should hold President Trump accountable for his trade policy, promises to restore manufacturing jobs, and so far, not acting on guns, a key issue here after a mass shooting killed nine people and injured 27.
WHALEY: I almost feel like Hillary's loss awakened a group of people that were not interested or willing to do the work of politics, that are now completely fixated because they know what's at stake here in 2020.
ZELENY (voice-over): She's talking about women like Stephanie Pyser, Tiffany (ph) Roberts (ph), and Lisa Ludwig. Shell-shocked by Trump's victory, they formed a group in the Columbus suburbs called "Positively Blue." STEPHANIE PYSER, OHIO VOTER: This neighborhood tends to be a little bit more Republican, and that was kind of the reason that we started Positively Blue, because we didn't have anybody to talk to.
ZELENY (voice-over): They're motivated by a sense of obligation, and perhaps feelings of guilt.
LISA LUDWIG, OHIO VOTER: Like, I wish I would have been more involved, prior to the 2016 election. Truthfully, I didn't think that that would be the outcome.
ZELENY: You didn't think Trump could win?
LUDWIG: Never. I like to think I'm pretty in tune, but I never saw it coming.
ZELENY (voice-over): Winning Ohio will be no small task for Democrats. While Barack Obama carried the state twice, Trump's eight- point victory over Hillary Clinton showed how deeply red Ohio can be.
But the suburbs are changing. Here in Westerville, Mitt Romney beat Obama 53 to 45 percent in 2012. But, four years later, Clinton won 50 to 45 despite losing the state.
DAVID PEPPER, CHAIRMAN, OHIO DEMOCRATIC PARTY: There are areas of this state that only six and eight and 10 years ago were reliably Republican, big population centers, that are now blue. And that makes the starting point of the '20 election a lot closer from the get-go.
ZELENY (voice-over): State Democratic Chairman David Pepper said the party should select a nominee who appeals to a broad cross-section of voters.
But Jane Timken, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, believes Trump is in a strong position here. She says all of the Democratic candidates are too radical for Ohio.
JANE TIMKEN, CHAIRWOMAN, OHIO REPUBLICAN PARTY: Those messages don't really resonate in Ohio and I don't think suburban voters are going to buy it.
ZELENY (voice-over): But around kitchen tables like this, at least one thing has changed from 2016: The Trump presidency is motivating Democrats.
LUDWIG: I've talked to people who admitted they voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and will not be doing so next time. So -- and they've always voted Republican.
ZELENY: Do you think that they're making a mistake by underestimating what is happening in your kitchen and in kitchens across Ohio?
PYSER: Oh, yes. Yes.
TIFFANY (PH) ROBERTS (PH), OHIO VOTER: But don't tell them.
ZELENY: There's little doubt that some of the most important battlegrounds in next year's general election will be in suburbs across Ohio and America. That's why Democrats are trying to organize these pivotal women voters.
The Trump campaign is doing the same. Just hours before the Democratic debate on Tuesday, there's a Women for Trump event just miles from the Democratic debate site. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Columbus, Ohio.
SCIUTTO: Those events, no accident. The fourth Democratic Presidential Debate, live from the battleground state of Ohio, tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, right here on CNN.
HARLOW: President Trump says he told Turkish President Erdogan in a phone call, that he wants an immediate ceasefire in northern Syria, and the start of negotiations with those Kurdish forces.
SCIUTTO: This comes as the administration announces new sanctions on Turkey that will target a handful of government leaders as well as the country's small steel imports to the U.S.
Joining us now, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. He is in Erbil, Iraq, very close to that border area there, close to Syria. How is Turkey responding to these sanctions, Nick? Because, listen, Turkey is getting what it wants --
SCIUTTO: -- on the ground there. It's getting territory, it's getting to attack these Kurdish forces. Any sign that this turns things around?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the short answer, no. I'm sure (ph), President Erdogan still goes back to his Sunday last phone call with President Trump, which seemed to give the green light for this initial operation.
And despite the threats of economic obliteration, which Donald Trump levied over Twitter, these sanctions are against the minister for defense and minister for energy, their respective ministries, and steel tariffs coupled with a trade deal that wasn't even signed yet, not happening for now.
So this is not anything that's going to cause a sharp intake of breath in Ankara. And still, the arrival of Vice President Mike Pence to try and be the negotiator between these sides, is sending basically America into a place where the Turkish don't think they have to listen, and the Syrian Kurds don't want to listen because they feel betrayed.
The ground situation is moving incredibly fast. But we're beginning to see what you might think are not borders, but possibly settled positions. We've just heard from an eyewitness on the ground, that on the main international highway, which we were on, seeing developments move quickly 48 hours ago, it appears that some Turkish-backed forces are about 20 kilometers away from Syrian regime forces on that highway in a town called Tal Tamr, suggesting that possibly that main international road's becoming the outer reach of the Turkish campaign offensive here.
We know that out in Manbij, to the west, American forces have left and Russian military police are doing the mediating between Turkish-backed forces and Syrian Kurds backed by the Syrian regime.
So, clearly, things are happening on the ground here, a situation developing that America has nothing to do with, apart from departing from it as fast as it can. But still, the United States, thinking it can mediate despite, really, it being what caused all this to start happening -- Jim Poppy.
HARLOW: Nick, thank you so much for the reporting on the ground. We're very glad that you're there.
All right. Coming up, we're going to speak with the former acting director of the FBI about all we learned from Fiona Hill's pretty remarkable testimony yesterday, on what she called wrongdoing in the White House's Ukraine efforts.
SCIUTTO: This morning as a State Department official begins his testimony before impeachment investigators on the Ukraine scandal, we're learning that the president's former top Russia advisor told lawmakers that she herself had serious concerns about Rudy Giuliani's role in Ukraine policy.
Fiona Hill testified before lawmakers for more than nine hours yesterday, and said that she tried to report what she called wrongdoing to several officials.
HARLOW: In fact, Hill said, according to our reporting, that former national security advisor John Bolton told her to tell the National Security Council's chief lawyer that Giuliani and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were working on a, quote, "rogue operation" with legal implications.
Joining us now is Andy McCabe, the former acting director of the FBI. Good morning to you. What I think we both think is so striking about Fiona Hill saying all of these things under oath for 10 hours of testimony, is that she's not someone who had or has an axe to grind with the president, or any political leaning. She may view Russia a bit differently than he does, but she was his top person on all things Russia until recently.
So, given that, how significant is what she said?
ANDY MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Well, Poppy, I think it's very significant. And can I just say, first, as a career investigator, this thing is proving to be like an investigator's dream. Each and every witness that they've sat down with so far has provided really important testimony, testimony that leads to other witnesses or testimony that could lead to independent facts that you could go back and corroborate. They haven't had a swing and a miss yet.
And Ms. Hill was yet another in this long line of productive witnesses. She's able to provide crucial background before the infamous phone call with President Zelensky. There were already several people in the White House, as you said, not partisans, not political people --
MCCABE: -- but career professionals who were very disturbed by what Mr. Giuliani was kind of engineering in the background behind the U.S. foreign policy effort.
SCIUTTO: And we should note that the story they're telling is very consistent with the whistleblower's story. Of course, the whistleblower, the complaint, the whistleblower him or herself has been attacked repeatedly --
SCIUTTO: -- but it seems like others are corroborating that.
I do want to ask you this, because of course you served in the Justice -- you served in the FBI. Look at A.G. Barr -- the attorney general, Barr's role here. Because, on the one hand, he was participating to some degree in the president's efforts here, meeting with foreign leaders as they do their own investigation of the investigation, as it will (ph) the Russia probe.
But he also, under his Justice Department, apparently with his blessing, charges against two of Giuliani's associates here. Do you see Barr as a fair arbiter in this so far?
MCCABE: Well, I think it's a little bit too early to make that determination. He certainly is playing a key role that kind of could go in either direction. We know that he was very clearly pointed to by the president in the July 25th phone call as someone who would be involved in this effort to further investigate the Bidens and the conspiracy theory about Ukrainian hacking in 2016.
MCCABE: So that's all concerning.
I also think that the speed with which the -- his department very quickly kind of pushed aside the whistleblower's complaint as being, you know, essentially nothing to see here, nothing to investigate, I think we now know there was in fact plenty to investigate, and the Congress is doing that now.
So there's a few really lingering questions there. And then when you overlay on top of that, his efforts, traveling around the world in an effort to kind of bolster the president's conspiracy theories about the previous investigation, it's all very questionable.
SCIUTTO: It's a good point. You almost forget because things move so quickly, but the Justice Department did, as you say, kind of sweep along, say there's nothing to see here. Now, you have all this --
HARLOW: Yes, you're right.
SCIUTTO: -- testimony that seems to corroborate it.
HARLOW: That's a very good point.
HARLOW: So we saw Republican congressman, member of the House Judiciary Committee, Matt Gaetz, try to be part of the House Intel hearing yesterday, he was booted, he thinks he had the right to because Judiciary is where the articles of impeachment would start, but it's not leading on this probe.
That said, transparency. Do you think it is important that the transcripts of these, you know, 10 hours with Fiona Hill or the George Kent testimony now or the Sondland testimony on Thursday, that those are made public? Or, you know, given to the other committees and the Republicans on those committees so that the argument of a lack of transparency can't be made against the Democrats?
MCCABE: Well, let's keep in mind that there are Republicans in these hearings with the witnesses.
MCCABE: So there are Republicans present to conduct any kind of, you know, vigorous cross-examination or questioning.
HARLOW: I mean Republicans on Judiciary, for example.
MCCABE: So I do think it's important. I think it's important, ultimately, not just that the rest of Congress gets that sort of transparency, but that the American people do. If you look back at the Nixon impeachment process, one of the reasons that Congress was able to kind of change public opinion on that is because we had a very public hearing of the facts.
We still haven't had that in this impeachment process yet, and I think that's going to be an important piece if the House has any hope of actually changing the minds of some potential Republicans in the Senate, or just the public at large.
SCIUTTO: Andrew McCabe, certainly a lot to keep on top of here. Thanks very much.
HARLOW: Thank you.
MCCABE: Thanks very much.
SCIUTTO: And there's a great deal going on today. Here's "What to Watch."
TEXT: What to Watch... 11:00 a.m. Eastern, Fort Worth Police speak about shooting; 3:10 p.m. Eastern, Trump speaks at Rose Garden ceremony; 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Democratic Presidential Debate on CNN
HARLOW: All right. Ahead for us, we are following this tragedy in Fort Worth, Texas. The family of the woman fatally shot in her own home this weekend, by a Texas police officer, they are demanding justice. We'll take you there for a live report, ahead.
HARLOW: All right, welcome back. So we're expecting to hear from the Fort Worth Police Department at any minute about the arrest of now- former officer, Aaron Dean.
SCIUTTO: He shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson in her own home this weekend. He was performing a wellness check at the time. Aaron Dean was charged with her murder just last night, and has since posted bond.
CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us now from Fort Worth. Omar, the attorney for the victim's family, expected to speak soon. What do we expect to hear?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim and Poppy. Well, the family press conference, expected to happen in just about 20 minutes from now. What we are waiting on, in just a few minutes, just about five minutes or so, just going on behind me, we're going to be hearing from the Fort Worth Police Department, talking and elaborating about the arrest of Aaron Dean yesterday evening.
He, as you mentioned, has sine posted bail. But some of the questions we have involve whether he was arrested by a Fort Worth police officer, versus turn himself in.
And then, moving forward, we're trying to follow up on the progress of their investigation that they have been conducting as well, along with the possibility that the interim police chief floated at the previous press conference, that they had sent a preliminary case to the FBI for review for potential civil rights violations.
HARLOW: We're hearing from the family, we're hearing from Atatiana's father. Her brother was on CNN last night. What is their reaction and do they have faith in the system, right? The investigation that's going to happen? JIMENEZ: At this point, they've been calling, from the very beginning, for an independent investigation. The family feels that the police department can't be trusted to investigate one of their own. Though, in regards to the arrest that happened last night, they did say it was a step in the right direction. But they say there's still a long road to go when it comes towards that path to justice.
Here's what the brother had to say on CNN just last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADARIUS CARR, BROTHER OF ATATIANA JEFFERSON: He did get what I wanted him to get. And this is only the start. There's no way this is enough. We know this is a good step in the direction there, where we want to go. But it's definitely not the end.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: You want justice?
CARR: Absolutely. I demand it. It has to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: And as we await this press conference beginning, we'll also be hearing from the family in a press conference in just about 20 minutes after that -- Jim, Poppy.
HARLOW: OK. We'll be watching. It's a tragedy. Omar, thank you very much for the reporting this morning.
And thanks to all of you for joining us. Jim and I will see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.
SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts just after this break.