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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Meltdown?; Interview With Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ); Interview With Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA); Rudy Giuliani Under Federal Probe; Criticism Grows Over Trump's Syria Withdrawal; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Says Trump Had A Meltdown During Meeting On Syria, Was Shaken By GOP Opposition To His Troop Withdrawal; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Takes Heat From Rivals In Democratic Debate As New Report Shows Biden Spending More Than He Raised; Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang is Interviewed About Last Night's Debate and Presidential Run. Aired on 6-7p ET
Aired October 16, 2019 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Giuliani intel probe. We're learning that the investigation of Rudy Giuliani's business dealings in Ukraine is broader than first thought. Tonight, even Republicans are worried that the president's personal lawyer is a wild card in the impeachment probe.
Doing the math. We're breaking down new 2020 fund-raising numbers and the takeaways from the Democratic debate. I will ask presidential candidate Andrew Yang how it all adds up for him and his rivals.
And World Series bomb. The election isn't the only race transfixing the nation's capital, as the Washington Nationals win the pennant. Will the Nats bring home a victory that everyone in D.C. can support?
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: Breaking news: President Trump unleashing anger and insults, as his Syria policy is under fire from both parties.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Mr. Trump had a meltdown during a White House meeting on Syria. She claims he was shaken by the number of Republicans who voted for a House measure condemning his Syria troop withdrawal.
Democrats say they walked out after Mr. Trump insulted Pelosi to her face.
Tonight, the president also is trashing his GOP-ally-turned-critic on Syria Senator Lindsey Graham. Graham is warning that Mr. Trump's Syria policy is the biggest mistake of his presidency that could leave him with American blood on his hands.
I will talk to a Democrat who was at today's White House meeting on Syria, Senator Bob Menendez. House Intelligence Committee member Jackie Speier is also standing by, along with our correspondents, analysts and other guests.
First, let's go to the White House. Our correspondent Abby Phillip is on the scene for us.
Abby, the president apparently exploding as he faces severe criticism for his Syria policy, in addition to the impeachment investigation.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
The temperature in Washington seems to be going up precipitously, as the pressure over impeachment and also the president's Syria policy seems to have combined at the White House today, with explosive results.
We have just gotten a response from the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, to the way in which this meeting was characterized by Democrats. Here's what she said.
She said: "The president was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi's decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising."
But Democrats say this meeting went totally differently and it went off the rails when President Trump went after Speaker Nancy Pelosi in personal terms.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Tonight, a White House meeting on Syria derailed hours after House Republicans joined Democrats to condemn his decision to withdraw troops from Syria.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): He was shaken up by it, and that's why we couldn't continue in the meeting, because he was just not relating to the reality of it.
PHILLIP: Democrats accusing President Trump of going off on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): He was insulting, particularly to the speaker. She kept her cool completely. But he called her a third- rate politician. He said that the -- there are communists involved and you guys might like that.
I mean, this was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe, not focused on the facts.
PHILLIP: Republicans pushing back.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Unfortunately, the speaker tries to make everything political.
PHILLIP: This as Trump continues to defend his moves to pull back from Northern Syria, which paved the way for a deadly Turkish military operation in the region.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going to lose potentially thousands and tens of thousands of American soldiers fighting a war between Turkey and Syria. Syria is not our friend. Assad is not our friend.
PHILLIP: Shortly before Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leave for Turkey to broker a cease-fire, Trump seemed to parrot Turkish President Erdogan's talking points against the U.S.' one-time allies the Kurds.
TRUMP: I'm not going to get involved in a war between Turkey and Syria, especially when, if you look at the Kurds -- and, again, I say this with great respect -- they're no angels. If you look at PKK -- take a look at PKK. ISIS respects PKK. You know why? Because they're as tough or tougher than ISIS.
PHILLIP: As the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry turns up the pressure on the White House, Trump is testing his Republican firewall in the Senate with his moves on Syria.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He is not listening to his commanders. He is not listening to his advisers. He is not -- he's making the biggest mistake of his presidency by assuming the Kurds are better off today than they were yesterday. That is just unbelievable.
PHILLIP: Trump firing back at one of his most loyal defenders, Senator Lindsey Graham.
TRUMP: Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years, with thousands of soldiers and fighting other people's wars. I want to get out of the Middle East. I think Lindsey should focus right now on Judiciary, like the Democrats, the do- nothing Democrats.
PHILLIP: The president also suggesting that U.S. troops in Syria are not in harm's way.
TRUMP: Our soldiers are out of there. Our soldiers are totally safe.
PHILLIP: But just yesterday, a U.S. official told CNN that advancing Turkish forces put U.S. troops on the ground direct low at risk.
Tonight, Republicans no longer trying to hide their frustration.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Many of us have been arguing that this was a mistake. I want to express my gratitude to the Kurds. They were great fighters. And we had a terrific alliance with them. I'm sorry that we are where we are.
PHILLIP: And just moments ago, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boarded their plane to Turkey. They are headed there on a mission to stop the violence in Northern Syria.
But some of their job today was made a lot more difficult by President Trump's words, which echoed Turkey's President Erdogan. And we're also learning about a letter that President Trump sent to Erdogan urging him to stop the violence.
He says this in the letter: "Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool." He says: "History will look upon you favorably if you get this done in the right and humane way" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Abby Phillip at the White House, thank you.
Now to the breaking news on the federal investigation of Rudy Giuliani and his business ties to Ukraine.
Our political correspondent Sara Murray is working this part of the story for us.
What are you learning, Sara?
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're learning there is a counterintelligence component to this investigation that is surrounding the president's personal attorney and his various associates who have been indicted.
And we learned this when I spoke to this lawyer. His name is Kenneth McCallion, who said that FBI counterintelligence investigators approached him months ago, February or March, so much earlier, of course, than we learned of these indictments.
And they were asking questions about Rudy Giuliani and his relationship and his business dealings with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. So, this is interesting, because it means that this investigation goes beyond just questions about this campaign finance scheme that Fruman and Lev Parnas were involved in.
And it could potentially include questions about whether Rudy Giuliani, either wittingly or unwittingly, was part of some kind of influence operation, some kind of effort from Ukrainians, Russians, perhaps others who may have been bankrolling this, to get information in front of the president.
BLITZER: And yet another Rudy Giuliani associate was physically arrested today.
MURRAY: That's right.
This is one of the men who was indicted, David Correia. He had not been taken into custody, but our colleagues Erica Orden and Kara Scannell, who are in New York, have been following this story today. He was apprehended this morning at JFK Airport in New York. He has since been released on a $250,000 bond.
He has not entered a plea yet, but he is set to appear in court tomorrow. So we could potentially get more information.
BLITZER: Yes, lots going on, indeed.
Good reporting, Sara. Thank you very much.
Now to the impeachment investigation and new testimony connected to the Ukraine scandal. Another key witness testified up on Capitol Hill today, a former senior adviser to the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.
Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty.
Sunlen, what are you learning about today's closed-door testimony?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, more than one week after he abruptly resigned, Michael McKinley speaking to lawmakers for more than five hours behind closed doors today.
And inside that room, he essentially outlined the concerns he had of what was going on behind the scenes within the State Department and the reasons that led to his abrupt departure last week, sources telling CNN that he testified and told lawmakers today that he repeatedly urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to issue some sort of support in support of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, someone who was criticized by President Trump, someone who was targeted by Rudy Giuliani, and someone who, of course, was recalled from her post earlier this year.
And McKinley told the committee essentially that he pushed Pompeo to do this, and Pompeo remained silent, and that was one of the reasons that led to him to resign last week.
Now, this just the latest in a series of depositions that House Democrats have lined up for this week, including potentially a critical big moment tomorrow, where Gordon Sondland, the former -- excuse me -- the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., he will be appearing on Capitol Hill.
Of course, he was a central figure in those text messages that were released by the committee talking about the withholding of military aid, talking about the July 25 phone call, so potentially a key testimony up here tomorrow -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill, thank you.
Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier. She's on the House Intelligence and Oversight committees.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: We're following, as you know, a lot of news today.
But, first, let me get your reaction to seeing this presumably important meeting over at the White House on the situation in Syria devolve and erupt the way it did. What's your reaction to that?
SPEIER: Well, I'm deeply troubled by it, Wolf.
I think the president was projecting. That comment he made to Speaker Pelosi should be grounds for censuring him. This is not the way the president of the United States, the leader of the free world, talks to colleagues that he must do business with.
He must engage with the leadership of the House and the Senate, regardless of what party they are, to try and do the people's work.
BLITZER: He said today either she's a third grade or third-rate politician. But the other day, in a speech, he said she hates the United States of America.
So what are you saying? Words like that should result in a congressional censure of the president?
SPEIER: I think so.
I'm actually at a point where he cannot continue to conduct himself in that manner. He creates an environment that our adversaries can look at this country and say, it's ripe for the picking.
And he's placing our national security at risk. I'm deeply troubled by that and very concerned that those who want to do ill towards our country are looking at opportunities to do it here.
BLITZER: When it comes to what's going on in Syria and Turkey right now, the president is effectively saying that the fight in Syria is no longer America's problem. That's why he wants to pull out U.S. troops.
What's your message to the president?
SPEIER: Well, I would ask him to listen to his friends Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, who recognize that we are there for our own safety and benefit.
There is a reason why ISIS was taken down. They were taken down because 11,000 Kurds stood shoulder to shoulder with our service members and fought against them.
Now, they lost many lives there. We lost only three. But we also brought ISIS to its knees.
Now, what the president doesn't appreciate, that ISIS can recalibrate, reconstitute in other cells around the Middle East. And if we're not there with eyes and ears on the ground, we are not in a position to keep our country safe.
BLITZER: We have now confirmed this letter -- and I have got a copy of it right here -- from President Trump to the Turkish president, Erdogan, urging Erdogan to make a good deal and that history will look favorably on Erdogan if he does this -- quote -- "the right and humane way."
What do you make of that?
SPEIER: I read that letter, and I thought this is not, "Let's Make a Deal." This is not a TV show. This is not a reality TV show. And yet the president carries on like that.
For Erdogan now to make a deal, so to speak, with the president, after the president gave him the green light, and now is reneging on that green light, would suggest that his word cannot be saved, and somehow felt that it would, in fact, be something that you can count on.
I don't have any support for Erdogan. I think what he is doing is a gross act, and that we should never have been in the position of giving him the green light. The president did it without consulting with his experts who are on the ground, with the military service members who are supposed to be advising him.
And once again, he is acting in a manner that shows a gross dereliction of his duty to the American people.
BLITZER: I want to turn to the Ukraine situation.
You're a member of the Intelligence Committee. How significant is it that federal prosecutors are now conducting what's being described as a counterintelligence investigation into Rudy Giuliani?
SPEIER: I think it's a very serious set of circumstances.
I think that it's been pretty clear that what's been going on is that Rudy Giuliani, a private citizen, has been given the green light again by the president to conduct foreign policy without portfolio, without being vetted, without being given clearances, and without consulting with the entire infrastructure of the State Department, which has a set of career leaders who have been studying Ukraine for decades.
We have heard from three people within the State Department, one with 37 years, one with 27 years, and I think another with over 30 years. These are people who have dedicated their entire lives to promoting the interests of the United States abroad.
And, meanwhile, you were Rudy Giuliani, with probably a very different set of interests, who is working in Ukraine, against the public's interest.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thanks so much for joining us.
SPEIER: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we have new details on what happened in that tense White House meeting on Syria, as Democrats say the president had a meltdown.
I will talk to a Democrat who was inside the room over at the White House, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez.
BLITZER: More now on the breaking news, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accusing President Trump of having a meltdown during a White House meeting on Syria following an overwhelmingly bipartisan House vote opposing the president's troop pullback.
Democratic leaders say they walked out of the meeting over at the White House when the president became insulting. Republicans in the meeting say Pelosi stormed out.
Let's get more with the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
You were there. You were inside the White House for that meeting. What unfolded exactly?
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Well, the president came in, and he was in a belligerent state from the beginning.
He smacked down a whole bunch of papers on the table and said: "You all asked for this meeting. I reluctantly agreed to it."
No one had asked for the meeting.
And Speaker Pelosi, just very professionally, said: "Mr. President, we didn't ask for a meeting. We asked for a briefing from the secretaries of defense, state and intelligence to understand the consequences of your actions."
And he said: "Well, then let's end the meeting."
And she said: "Well, while I'm here, it's my duty as the speaker to tell you that the House has just passed" -- I think, 362 -- I forget exactly the number was -- "a resolution opposing your decision and calling upon a strategy for ISIS."
And he just went on and then said, "That's a political hit job."
And it went downwards from there. He was belligerent. He was, I believe, denigrating to the speaker, called her a third-rate politician, suggested that the Kurds are communists, and, therefore, all you Democrats must be very happy with that.
And it just went downward from there. It was something like I have never seen in my 27 years in Congress and serving over the course of four different presidents.
MENENDEZ: It worries me in terms of where we're headed in our fight against ISIL and the security of the country.
BLITZER: The resolution passed 354-60, 354-60, a resolution condemning the president's troop withdrawal from Syria.
How long did this meeting go on, approximately?
MENENDEZ: Well, all told, it went for about an hour. The speaker and Steny Hoyer and others left before.
I stayed for a while longer, because I wanted to make a point to the president.
When it finally came to my time, I said, "Look" -- I said, "There's no one here who has greater love of country than the other. We may have, however, different views as to how we secure the nation. I disagree with the decision you made as commander in chief. And, evidently, a strong vote in the House shares that view, and I believe a strong vote in the Senate will do the same. Having said that, it's what happens now.
"You talk about sanctions against Turkey. It's rather late for that. And the sanctions that you have levied have -- mean nothing to Turkey. They're not stopping the process of their engagement in Syria. And the Turkish stock market went up."
I said: "You have created the possibility of a land bridge for Iran to come into Syria and attack our ally the state of Israel. You have 14,000, 18,000 fighters. I don't know if your defense people tell you that, but that's what the inspector general the Department of Defense says, that there are 14,000 to 18,000 ISIS fighters.
"If the 10,000 that were detained by the Kurds get unleashed, you're talking about a fighting force of hardened fighters up to 30,000. That is a clear and present danger to the United States. And these are the things that you have unlocked."
And this is the challenge with what we have. I don't think the president has a grasp of what he has unlocked in terms of whatever agreement he made with Erdogan.
BLITZER: So how did he respond to you?
MENENDEZ: Well, he said: "They will defeat ISIS."
I said: "Well, how?"
And that was one of the issues that erupted. Senator Schumer was pressing him on, well, what is the strategy to defeat ISIS?
And, basically, all he kept saying is, we will defend the homeland.
But there was no strategy enunciated, not even an outline of a strategy enunciated to defeat ISIS. This should be a concern to every American.
He suggested that they are 7,000 miles away. Why would we fight them? One other member reminded him that, on September 11, they traveled
7,000 miles and ultimately created harm to the United States.
And so there wasn't any clear -- this is what worries me. After sitting there for an hour, I am concerned for the nation and I am concerned about our fight against ISIS.
And, you know, it's -- it was an unnerving meeting, to say the least.
BLITZER: Senator Menendez, thanks so much for joining us.
MENENDEZ: Thank you.
BLITZER: The breaking news continues next with more on that tense White House meeting on Syria and what Democrats describe as an insulting tirade by the president.
Plus, we have new details of the closed-door hearings in the House impeachment inquiry and a key witness coming up.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news on what Democrats are describing as a meltdown by President Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the president unloaded during a White House meeting on Syria.
Let's bring in our correspondents and our analysts.
And you just heard, David Swerdlick. You heard Senator Bob Menendez said, this was an awful, awful meeting. He doesn't recall something as bad as this in his many years here in Washington.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Here is where we are, Wolf. Today, I think, in the Oval, the president said that he thought the move in Syria should be considered strategically brilliant, and that's what he wants to get out of members of Congress and the press and the public decide, yes, that he's a foreign policy genius.
But this move, which is being condemned by Democrats and Republicans is being seen as anything but strategically brilliant. 129 Republicans voted against him today in this House resolution, so you can imagine when the leaders of Congress come in that the president loses his cool, insults the speaker, and now you have a situation where he has egg on his face and yet he's the only one really who can fix the situation.
BLITZER: He was rebuked, Bianna, by 354 members of the House of Representatives, twice as many Republicans voted to rebuke him than to support him, 354-60. And he seems to be obviously frustrated and angry by those developments.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yet he doesn't think he's wrong. He's frustrated because nobody thinks that he's right or agrees with him. I don't know why they would release this letter to Fox News that the president wrote, which had to be verified with the White House because so many people were baffled that they hadn't seen a letter like that addressed to Erdogan last week.
And from reports of what happened in the White House with meetings with congressional leaders, it appears he was much tougher and stern with them than he has been with Erdogan.
And moving forward, yes, he's been rebuked by Republicans, but he's now in a situation of not having any place to go ahead in Syria. We're not going to be sending troops there again. Erdogan -- reminder, this is the 20th largest economy in the world, now calling the shots against the largest economy in the world.
So Obama got criticized for some of his policies with regards to Syria. If Obama opened the door and handed the keys to Russia, the entire country, the House is now in Russia's hands. And this is something that he's done in just the matter of a few days. And the issue is how do you go forward? How do you resolve this? It seems like Mitch McConnell was quite contrite but deflated when he said, I'm sorry to the Kurds. It was a good run, but you're on your own because there don't seem to be many options going forward for the president.
I'm very curious to see what happens with this meeting with the vice president, if Erdogan does decide to sit down with him because there was a question as to whether he would even do that. It's a big blow to the U.S. internationally and it gives Russia all the leeway that they want now in the region.
BLITZER: Jeff, do you think the impeachment battle is also getting under his skin?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there's no question about it. I mean, just look at the tone and temperament that we're hearing from the meeting. I mean, even though impeachment was not actually discussed by word, clearly, that is a subtext hanging over everything here.
I think the one thing the president hasn't done on this is explain his position. We've seen time and time again when he explains and asks Republicans to come on board. They do very quickly. This is something where he is -- does not appear to have a long-term strategy here. He's not explained his foreign policy decision to the country, given an Oval Office address, given any type of a speech at all, even briefing members of his own party here.
So it's unclear who he's listening to more than Senator Rand Paul and others. But this is a communications and policy failure and we do not know what is next.
BLITZER: And there's so much going on. Sara, you've been doing some excellent reporting on. Now the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Manhattan apparently is engaged in a counterintelligence investigation into Rudy Giuliani and his dealings with Ukraine.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. If you want to talk about more precedence piling up at President Trump's feet, he has impeachment, he has Syria going on and then he has the fact that this investigation that's going on into associates of Rudy Giuliani is coming awfully close to Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney.
And I think we're already starting to hear concerns from other Republicans who are sort of questioning what Giuliani's role was with these guys, why he was running this shadow foreign policy within the White House, within the Trump administration, and whether this relationship between he and the president is sustainable.
Right now, Rudy Giuliani has not been charged with anything, he's not been accused of any wrongdoing. He's publicly said he doesn't need a lawyer but we'll see where this stands in the coming weeks and months.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, everybody stick around. There's a lot more news we're following right now. The state of the Democratic presidential race after the CNN/New York Times debate, Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang is standing by. There he is. He'll get his views out there right after this.
BLITZER: Tonight, new tests for the Democratic presidential frontrunners. Elizabeth Warren getting a lot of heat as the candidates debated in Ohio. Let's bring in our Senior Washington Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.
Jeff, after the fourth debate of the 2020 campaign so far, where does the race from, your perspective, stand?
ZELENY: Well, there's no question. It's a new chapter of the race right now, less than four months before the Iowa caucuses.
But the Elizabeth Warren campaign is doing something new tonight. They say it may be going back to the drawing board and studying a range of options for how to pay for Medicare for all.
That's an acknowledgement the debate last night in Ohio may have stung.
ZELENY: Tonight, a new bull's-eye in the Democratic primary fight and a fresh test for Elizabeth Warren.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that.
JOE BIDEN (D), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's being vague on the issue.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a different plan than Elizabeth Warren.
FMR. REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Warren.
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-SOUTH BEND, IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Warren.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Warren.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Warren, do you want to respond?
ZELENY: Warren's surging candidacy suddenly facing intense scrutiny Tuesday night in Ohio, as rivals pile on in hopes of slowing her momentum.
BUTTIGIEG: Medicare for all who want it.
ZELENY: Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar among those auditioning to become a moderate alternative to Warren.
First, it was the cost her Medicare for all healthcare plan and whether it would raise taxes on the middle class, as Bernie Sanders says it will.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you've endorsed his plan. Should you acknowledge it too?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So the way I see this, it is about what kinds of costs middle class families are going to face. So let me be clear on this. Costs will go up for the wealthy. They will go up for big corporations. And for middle class families, they will go down.
BUTTIGIEG: Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything, except this.
ZELENY: Then it was her proposed wealth tax.
WARREN: My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax, it's why is it does everyone else on this stage think that it's more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Senator Warren.
KLOBUCHAR: I want to give a reality check here to Elizabeth because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires. Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires. We just have different approaches. Your idea is not the only idea. ZELENY: For the first time of the 2020 primary season, the arrows on the debate stage were not aimed at Joe Biden. At a campaign stop today, the former vice president said he welcomed the respite.
BIDEN: It's kind of about time other people get questioned. Now, that she has moved and is taken more seriously, people are going to ask her about, you know, a little candor here. Tell us how you're going to do what you say you're going to do.
ZELENY: Warren repeatedly stood her ground.
WARREN: I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle class families.
ZELENY: Supporting Sanders' vision for a major overhaul of the healthcare system, but not accepting his explanation of how to pay for it.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The overwhelming majority of people will save money on their healthcare bills. But I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up.
KLOBUCHAR: And I'm sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that. And I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we're going to send the invoice.
ZELENY: It was the strongest showing yet for Klobuchar.
Was this your breakout moment?
KLOBUCHAR: I hope so. We've been waiting for one.
ZELENY: But all eyes were on Sanders, as he returned to the campaign trail for the first time after suffering a heart attack two weeks ago.
SANDERS: I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and I'm so happy to be back here with you this evening.
ZELENY: Now, Sanders also is going to be winning the endorsements from these three progressive members of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. His campaign believes that will be another sign of the health of his candidacy as this race goes forward.
But, Wolf, it's so interesting, the Warren campaign telling us tonight they are reviewing the plan and may diverge from Bernie Sanders. Of course, he has said taxes may go up, costs go down. She has never said that, so that clearly an acknowledgement that she's reviewing things because of last night.
ZELENY: Talking about the middle class too. All right, thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny, for that report.
The Democratic presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, he's here, there you see him. We're going to discuss all of this and more when we come back.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're back right now with Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, fresh off his appearance at the CNN/"New York Times" debate in Ohio last night.
Andrew, thanks so much for joining us. It was a rather lively debate as all of us I think will agree. Your ideas certainly came through, including your proposal of what's being described as a universal basic income package.
Do you feel like you're gaining some traction?
ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, definitely, Wolf. We had over 10,000 Americans already submit questions for my AMA on Friday, and we raised almost $500,000 in the hours after the debate, so the message has gotten through loud and clear that we can actually do much better for ourselves, have a dividend of $1,000 a month for every American would be a game-changer for millions of families around the country.
BLITZER: And that $1,000 a month, would very wealthy people get that money as well?
YANG: Yes, wealthy people too, Wolf, because in Alaska they have a dividend. Everyone gets it and makes it universally popular. There's no stigma, there's no I'm paying for it and you're getting it. And this way you don't have to monitor people's income. There's no incentive to underreport.
So this plan helps everyone. It's one reason why it's gaining in popularity every single day.
BLITZER: Like several of your Democratic presidential colleagues out there, you were critical of Senator Warren at certain points, but did you also find some common ground?
YANG: Well, I spoke to Elizabeth during the breaks and after the debate. We have many similar goals. We just have different paths to get there. So I think that she and I are going to be able to find ways to hopefully get to the same goal post even if we might have different visions on the best path.
BLITZER: What's the biggest disagreement you have with her?
YANG: Well, last night we talked about the fact that automation has transformed the economies of Ohio, where I'm standing right now.
They lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs. We lost 4 million manufacturing jobs due to automation and technology. And Elizabeth to her credit said she wanted to look at the studies and data because initially last night, she said that it was not automation, it was trade deals, but it seems like she's rethinking that position because she's a very smart person and she's open to new information.
BLITZER: At one point during the debate last night, you said both Russia and the United States have tampered with elections. I'll read the quote: We have to let Russia know, look, we get it. We've tampered with other elections. You've tampered with our elections and now it has to stop.
You got a little heat for doing this equivalency between the U.S. and Russia. Explain what you meant.
YANG: Well, I said what the American people already know. We have to protect our democracy, but we also know that our government has been aggressive throughout history in our own way and so we need to come clean and say, look, any attempt to undermine our democracy will be treated as an act of hostility and aggression, and as I said last night the American people agree with me on this. If we can't protect our democracy it's hard to trust the election in 2020 and beyond.
BLITZER: But you're suggesting that many years ago, the U.S. used to intervene in foreign elections and you're not suggesting, correct me if I'm wrong, that it's happened recently?
YANG: It's certainly the case that it's happened in our past and that's an acknowledgement of that.
BLITZER: So, that's what you were referring to. You have a lot of fans over there I see in Ohio.
You've already clearly qualified for the next Democratic presidential debate in November. That's going to be in a few weeks. So what are you going to do now to build on your momentum which is impressive?
YANG: Well, the message is growing all of the time, Wolf. We're gaining in popularity and we're finding different ways to reach the American people. We're having rallies around the country.
The debates are a tremendous opportunity. I certainly wish CNN was moderating every debate, but we're going to be there in November and whatever the threshold the DNC set, we're going to be there. Most importantly, when the voting starts in February, you're seeing voters come out for us in record numbers.
We're having a giant rock concert in Iowa, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer is going to be there, and we have a lot of fun stuff planned in the day ahead. So, stay tuned for the Yang Gang because you're going to -- you're going to find it to be really exciting.
BLITZER: How surprised are you that you're resonating out there with a significant bunch of Americans?
YANG: Wolf, I'm not surprise at all because Americans are very smart. We see what's happening around us every single day. We see Amazon is closing 30 percent of stores and malls while paying zero in taxes. And the most common jobs in our country are disappearing before our eyes -- retail jobs, call center jobs, fast food jobs, and soon truck driving jobs.
Unfortunately, our politicians have not been up to the challenge. Most of them don't understand technology. They have a limited understanding of the economy and much less how these things work together.
So, I knew that if we got the message to the American people we would grow very quickly and you haven't seen anything yet and we're fourth, fifth and sixth in national polls and all of our numbers show that our growth is speeding up.
BLITZER: Well, it's been impressive so far and you're doing well and see where it goes from here.
Andrew Yang, thanks so much for joining us.
YANG: Thank you, Wolf. I will see you soon. You and me. I'll see you in a bit.
Thank you, Yang Gang.
BLITZER: All right. You're always welcome to come here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I would love to have you joining us as well
Andrew Yang in Ohio, thanks very much.
BLITZER: Would love that, Wolf. I'll see you soon in New York.
BLITZER: OK, take care. In Washington, that is, that's where we are.
Much more news coming up, including this. My favorite story of the day and a very rare bipartisan celebration here in the nation's capital as the Washington Nationals are heading to the World Series for the first time.
BLITZER: Everyone here in Washington is talking about this latest story, my favorite story of the day. It led "Politico's" political playbook this morning. It's on the cover of "The Washington Post", and it's uniting Republicans and Democrats across the city.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robles will squeeze it, and there it is! The Washington Nationals are National League Champions! There will be a world series in D.C.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Congratulations to the Washington Nationals who are advancing to the team's first-ever World Series. They beat the St. Louis Cardinals last night to wrap up a dominating four-game sweep to claim the title as National League Champions. The Nats have earned some well-deserved rest as they await the winner
of the series between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros.
We fans, we are so happy and so excited. We'll all be watching next Tuesday for game one of the World Series and I'll leave you with these important, very important words -- go Nats!
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.