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U.S. Troops Prepare To Withdraw From Eastern Syria But Not Head Home; President's Acting Chief Of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, Tried Once Again To Walk Back His Quid Pro Quo Admission Last Thursday Of The Ukraine Scandal; Democrats Are Setting The Stage For Another Week Of Major Testimony In The Impeachment Inquiry; 2020 Democrats Are Out In Full Force On The Campaign Trail; New Video Just Released Showing A Football Coach Jumping Into Action After A Student Brings A Loaded Gun To School. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired October 20, 2019 - 14:00   ET





FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. And welcome this Sunday. Thank you much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We start with breaking news and a CNN exclusive out of northern Syria where the largest U.S. troop withdrawal is now underway. This is new video from CNN's cameras on the ground as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw from eastern Syria. And in a surprise visit to Afghanistan today.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said about a thousand troops are withdrawing on the ground and in the air and are, I'm quoting now being repositioned to western Iraq from northern Syria. The troops are not headed home, contrary to how the President has been selling it.

U.S. secretary Esper said they will be in operations to defend Iraq and to conduct counter-ISIS missions. According to Esper a U.S. brokered cease-fire in Syria seems to be holding, I'm quoting him now. However, one Turkish soldier and more than a dozen Syrian defense forces have been killed in the past 24 hors. And both sides and accusing the other of violating the agreement.

Under the agreement the Syrian Kurds have until Tuesday to abandon a large piece of land in a buffer zone along Turkey's border. Speaking today, Secretary of state Mike Pompeo defended the agreement.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This was about getting a ceasefire, a secure area, and this, in fact, will save lives in that very space. That was our mission set. We accomplished it. And now we need to make sure that the commitments that were made in that statement are honored. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Earlier this month President Trump announced the pullout of U.S. troops in the area. And just days later, Turkey launched a military offensive to force Kurds out of the area.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is following U.S. troops movements. And he is there on the scene in northeastern Syria.

Nick, what have you been witnessing?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you saw that video early on today. We came across over a hundred, possibly hundreds of these U.S. vehicles gathering at a base near Hasika, rallying it seems at various different points of the country, a number of them from what they called the Kobani landing zone. That's the large strip near a cement factory outside of Kobani which for a long time being the main U.S. and coalition members headquarters in the fight against ISIS.

They will be pulling back today. There have been social media video circulating of those movements to this base from Hasika from which I understand they will continue their journey at some point in the hours and days ahead into Iraqi Kurdistan.

Now that is key. That is where Mark Esper, the secretary of defense, said the they will redeploy potentially continuing mission in to Syria to attack ISIS or this broader ISIS mission as a whole. But this the largest ground movement will be quite substantial when it gets on the way.

The largest crowd movement they have done since they have been in Syria and is deeply symbolic for may of those troops. It brings to a kind of an end, an imagery to some degree, this hectic couple of weeks. It is nightmare I think for military planners to have your movements broadcasted or announced before even a chance to execute contingency plans.

So withdrawal has been I think very much under hasty circumstances with all complicated logistics. Because remember, there is an expanding changing presence of the regime here. Russian forces moving (INAUDIBLE). Sometimes acting as peacekeepers and then this enormous Turkish-Syrian rebel force backed by Turkey which is moving around, taking areas of the Syrian Kurds.

A little changing dynamic here. But the key one here today, U.S. troops in a large withdrawal, essentially the big withdrawal here, which got underway at some point today and will continue in the hours and days ahead. A very symbolic moment I think for those soldiers, for the Syrian Kurds who have lost over 10,000 sons and daughters fighting against ISIS.

There is a mixture I think of sadness to see those soldiers go. I think many realize the decision to part has not been that of the soldiers personally but that of President Trump in Washington. So mixed feelings too amongst here in Kurds to feel America has generally betrayed them. But still, this large convoy on its way, America's withdrawal here underway. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, we will check back with you in northern Syria there. Thank you.

U.S. senator Lindsey Graham, one of President Trump's most ardent defenders has been openly critical of moving U.S. troops out of northern Syria. And earlier today, he clarified his concerns.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President indicated he was going to pull out whatever number of troops there were in that buffer zone, which as I understand it, was far less than 50? Is that what it was?


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Well, it's not so much the 28th. What I was concerned about is, number one, the President did not give Turkey the green light to invade Syria. But he didn't say red, either. He gave a yellow light, and you don't give a yellow light in the Mideast.


WHITFIELD: I'm joined now by Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."

Fareed, good to see you. So was the U.S. troops pullout a green light to Turkey to move into northern Syria?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: There's no question it was a green light, you know, in the sense that Erdogan called asking for the green light. There is no circumstance in which Turkey would have invaded if there were U.S. troops there. In other words, Turkey would have had to fire on U.S. troops.

That is what was holding them back for five years. So there is no doubt that the United States exceeded to this. President Trump later tried to deny that he exceeded to it, but he absolutely exceeded to it. And, you know, in a sense it is part of his plan. Just get the hell out and let the locals kill each other.

WHITFIELD: Is it irreversible?

ZAKARIA: It's very hard, I think, to now get back to unravel this. This is one of the great tragedies of what Trump has done, because he has given the Turks this kind of safe haven, this sphere of influence in Syria that they have long wanted. They have wanted it because it allows them to push the refugees that they have in Turkey and then it allows them to keep the Kurds at a distance. It also benefits Assad in Syria, Iran, Russia.

And the most important thing is, how would you get the Kurds to trust you again, you know? These are the people who fought and died for the United States. They were literally the ones who fought and died to defeat ISIS, and we have totally betrayed them. And can you imagine going back to them and saying, OK, guys, will you trust us again one more time? Very hard to imagine that happening.

WHITFIELD: There are current and retired U.S. military generals who are saying, you know, not only is the U.S. credibility threatened, but years of work of either strangling or containing ISIS has now been undone, that you really can't put that Jeannie into the bottle. Are they right?

ZAKARIA: Well, the most important sense in which they are right is this. Almost certainly in one of these ungovernable spaces, probably in Syria, some of these terrorist groups, probably version of ISIS will come back. The issue is we have found this beautiful formula where we got the Kurds to do the fighting for us while we provided air power, the United States provided air power, intelligence, logistics and things like that. But the actual fighting was being done by the Syrian Kurds because they were better at it, they knew the place, they knew the language, and they were not foreign occupiers.

You see, the biggest problem the United States has had is when it goes into these places and then it owns territory in the middle of the Middle East and think about Iraq, Afghanistan. That's always a problem. So the United States is going to have to take this on without a local force, because what local force is going to trust the United States when Washington says the next time, we have got your back. You would have to be a fool to believe Washington given what just happened.

WHITFIELD: You mentioned Iran and Russia being empowered. House speaker Nancy Pelosi, you know, told Trump in that contentious White House face-to-face all roads lead to Putin. Turkey and Russia are meeting this week. What is likely to be said, forged or perhaps even solidified?

ZAKARIA: More than anything else, what I think these countries want is greater influence and, you know, kind of unilateral ability to be involved and dominate the Middle East. The biggest obstacle has been the United States. So by America withdrawing, what it means is it gives Russia a free hand, it gives Turkey a free hand. And many of these places have interests in the United States.

The United States will have to get comfortable with the Middle East that looks a lot less amenable to American interest, amenable of America from Israel's security to stability of air flows and such. The United States have always been able to shape the geopolitical balance in the Mideast to make sure that those kinds of concerns have been taken care of. Now we'll be a spectator.

WHITFIELD: Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," thank you so much.

And then we are following breaking news, this out of fort Stewart, Georgia where three soldiers are dead and three others injured after an early morning training accident. We are told the first armor brigade combat soldiers were riding in a fighting vehicle when the incident occurred. The injured soldiers have been taken to the Wynn army community hospital where they are being treated and evaluated for their injuries. And of course, we will keep you updated as soon as we find out more.

All right. Still ahead, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney still playing cleanup over his admission that there was indeed a quid pro quo on the call between Trump and Ukraine. This as CNN learned of an inside effort to push him out. We're live from the White House, next.

Plus, Elizabeth Warren is just moments away from speaking at a town hall after getting slammed again by her Democratic rivals for her Medicare for all plan. Can she pinpoint exactly how she plans to pay for it?

And an Oregon coach hailed a hero for disarming a student with a loaded gun. We have a newly released video right here on CNN.



WHITFIELD: All right, new developments that we continue to follow. This expanding impeachment inquiry. Today the President's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, tried once again to walk back his quid pro quo admission last Thursday of the Ukraine scandal.



MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: That is what people are saying that I said that I didn't say that. Can I say how people took that the wrong way? Absolutely. But I said there was quid pro quo because there isn't.


WHITFIELD: This coming as multiple sources tell CNN that Mulvaney faced internal efforts to oust him from the White House before Democrats move ahead on this impeachment inquiry?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever offer or think to offer the president your resignation?

MULVANEY: Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was that ever discussed?

MULVANEY: Absolutely, positively not.


MULVANEY: Listen, I'm very happy working there. Did I have the perfect press conference? No. But, again, the facts are on our side.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House for us.

So Jeremy, you know, how is Mulvaney now explaining this, you know, quid pro quo admission? And is it as a result of that meeting at camp David yesterday with Republicans?

JEREMEY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Fredricka, the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was repeatedly confronted with his own words after he made that stunning admission that Ukraine was in part, at least, frozen because of the President's interest in Ukraine investigating matters related to the 2016 election. And when he was confronted indeed with several of his clips, his won words, in which he made that admission, Mulvaney stuck by his denial of the words that he said.


MULVANEY: One of the things that you, again, said just a few seconds ago that I said there was a quid pro quo. I never used that language because there wasn't a quid pro quo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were asked by Jonathan Carl. You describe a quid pro quo when you said that happens all the time.

MULVANEY: And again, reporters will use their language all the time, so my language never said quid pro quo but let's get to the heart of the matter. Go back and look at that list of three things what was I talking about. Things that it was legitimate for the president to do.


DIAMOND: And the chief of staff's defense now appears to be that he didn't use the words quid pro quo even if that is indeed what he was describing. And when he went on to say what those three things were, one of those things was, indeed, once again he said the President's interests in that investigation into that debunked conspiracy theory involving the Democratic National Committee server back in the 2016 election.

WHITFIELD: And then what about these reported, you know, plots about his ouster?

DIAMOND: Well, Fredricka, multiple sources are now telling CNN that there were efforts to oust Mick Mulvaney before even all of this impeachment saga came to be. Sources telling us that top aides to the President began reaching out to at least two potential replacements for the White House chief of staff because of some internal dissatisfaction with Mulvaney's position.

And, again, Fredricka, this came before this latest matter, this briefing in particular in which the chief of staff has really prompted some concerns among even his own colleagues at the White House. But, of course, much of those efforts were put on ice, it appears, as this impeachment saga has really consumed this White House. That being said, Fred, it's been ten months since Mick Mulvaney has been chief of staff and he still has that acting word before his title. WHITFIELD: All right. That he also holds a different cabinet

position., office of management and budget.

All right, thanks so much Jeremy Diamond. Appreciate it.

All right. Here to talk about all of this. Margaret Talev, "Axios" White House editor and Sabrina Siddiqui, national politics reporter for the "Wall Street Journal." Good to see both of you.

Margaret, you first. You know, it's quite terrible to talk about whether someone's days are numbers but the acting chief of staff White did respond, you know, to that inquiry. So is this moment the prelude to his possible firing or dismissal given the pattern of events that usually unfolds at this White House?

MARGARET TALEV, WHITE HOUSE EDITOR, AXIOS: Well, Fred, I think because of previous chief of staff's experience at the White House, everyone knows that they serve at the pleasure of the President and that if their days are numbered, they might find out when everyone else does.

So I think with that as the caveat, there were, in fact, some folks inside the White House who felt like Mulvaney had overcorrected for John Kelly. John Kelly ran a very tight ship, one that ultimately President Trump struggled to get out of the kind of chains of. And Mulvaney's attitude was very different which was like, I'm here to support the President, I'm here to do whatever he wants to do.

There's some people outside the White House who feel a little more restraint is required on the President. There is also a factualization between the White House counsel right now. And many other parts of the White House including the chief of staff, so there's friction there. Jared Kushner in many ways has taken over more charge of responding to the impeachment process.

But on the flip side, there is a real question for President Trump. Does he want the optics of pushing out yet another chief of staff, and who would come in to replace him, and is that where they really want to be in the middle of an impeachment probe? So I think Mulvaney, like any other chief of staff, probably understands that things change very quickly there. But on the flip side, there really are all these other considerations that kind of make this a hazard one to predict what happens next.

[14:20:12] WHITFIELD: Yes. Sabrina, would it do more harm than good if he were removed or, you know, steps down, however way it were to happen?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think that, as Margaret pointed out, to lose your chief of staff in the midst of an impeachment inquiry just adds another burden at a time when the president is already struggling. It also would certainly give off the impression that Mick Mulvaney was pushed out for what many people believe is acknowledging what the White House has been trying to deny, that there was some kind of quid pro quo, that the reason the administration withheld aid to Ukraine was because the President wanted the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son hunter Biden and to also try to discredit the Mueller probe.

I think the challenge that Mick Mulvaney has ran into is frankly the same as his predecessors, which is in previous administration, a chief of staff has played a critical role in decision making and messaging at the White House. But in this particular administration, it's the president who calls all of the shots and routinely has a tendency to undercut his aides, including his own chief of staff.

And so, you know, ultimately, it's a job that not many people in Washington, frankly, want. I do think, though, that everyone saw the tape for itself. So as you look at Mick Mulvaney repeatedly trying to say, you know, I never said there was a quid pro quo, that's the media's characterization, most people will look at that setup that he was describing and very much describe it as a quid pro quo.

WHITFIELD: Yes, so Margaret, let's talk about, you know, some cracks in the Republican support. Republican congressman Francis Rooney recently announced he won't be running for reelection. Perhaps that's why he has felt more catty about his points of view on things. Listen to what he said today about Mulvaney's quid pro quo.


REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R-FL): I don't see how you walk back something that's clear. I would say game, set, match on that.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Is that impeachable?

ROONEY: I don't know. That's the question. The question is, is it of a great enough magnitude to justify impeachment? And I want to learn a little more about that. I want to get more counsel. And I want to talk quite frankly some leadership, Democratic leadership about what they have in mind. I think that this is a very egregious situation in the Ukraine and Syria is even worse.


WHITFIELD: Margaret, he said a lot there. I mean, a lot was said there about meeting of the minds among Republicans and even, you know, crossing the aisle with Democrats.

TALEV: He said a lot, but it's that last part that I think in the final analysis, it seems to be the most important. It is actually the president's moves to pull the U.S. out of northern Syria, to kind of almost invite Turkey to come in and then to try and undo it -- you know, everything that's happened in the last few days on that policy is really what's created this major riff with the president and the Republicans.

And it is ultimately Republicans in the Senate who are going to be much more important than the Republicans in the House for the President's fate if the house were to vote on impeachment. But even though if what happened in Syria is not centrally tied to happened in Ukraine. It is the Syria policy that is really undercutting his support. It is affecting his standing inside the ranks in the military. It is affecting his standing with former pentagon chiefs, joint chief of staff, important military voices.

And it is shaking the confidence of even folks like Mitch McConnell. Most of those Republicans in the Senate not saying that they support the impeachment investigation, but the major, major erosion of goodwill and support and any level of trust or consultative process is a real thing and it is important to watch in the days to come.


And Sabrina, you know, it is interesting. It's Syria and it is the G- 7, you know, being hosted, at least for a hot second, you know, at a Trump Doral property in Miami that really kind of touched a nerve with a lot of Republicans. And now there is this stunning reversal by the President that says next year's G-7 summit will not be at Trump Doral.

And in a tweet he said this based on both media and Democrat-crazed and irrational hostility, we will no longer consider Trump national Doral, Miami, as the host site for the G-7 in 2020. We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of camp David, immediately.

So, which is it? I mean, first, there were about dozen location, you know, that were in the running but it was Doral that kind of, you know, went above and beyond. So now, now camp David is a possibility?

SIDDIQUI: It's a possibility. It's a place where president Obama hosted a summit. And we know this president has a tendency to want to do the opposite of his predecessor. But I think what's more striking in the tweet is that he pinned the blame, as he always does, on the media and on outrage from Democrats, but he heard pushback from a lot of members of his own party --


WHITFIELD: About the emoluments clause.

SIDDIQUI: He said that his is a clear violation of emoluments clause. And notably also from FOX News that president preferred television network which is also a big booster of his administration because it would be really difficult for any members of his party to defend what would clearly be an example of the president in some way profiting from the office he holds, although he denies he would profit from holding the summit there. It would certainly be a good deal of publicity for one of his properties.

And there are certain fees and costs that these foreign governments would obviously have to incur that would go toward his business. And this has been a prevailing theme of his presidency, one that clearly members of his own party are now raising concerns about.


WHITFIELD: Yes, Margaret.

TALEV: It would open up new layers of investigation, an inquiry for him, also new hearings, new requests for information, perhaps audits --

WHITFIELD: But then why wouldn't he have thought of that beforehand?

TALEV: I think they probably did, but in their strategy at that point was to show they were going to double down on their strategy. And the feedback from republicans and probably some lawyers inside has been, you know what, that's maybe not a greatest idea.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Because, you know, he launched that balloon publicly, you know, (INAUDIBLE), you know at the time. And people were raising eyebrows but then decide to move forward, anyway, only now to backtrack.

All right. Margaret Talev and Sabrina Siddiqui, we will leave it there for now. Thank you very much.

SIDDIQUI: Thank you.

TALEV: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. We could learn a lot this week as several key witnesses ahead to Capitol Hill as part of impeachment probe into President Trump. Could they bolster the whistleblower's claims?


[14:30:41] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Democrats are setting the stage for another week of major testimony in the impeachment inquiry as several diplomats and officials are set to testify and give depositions. This comes after a full week of testimony of diplomats and ambassadors who bolstered many of the whistleblower's claims.

Joining me right now, a Harvard Professor, Cass Sunstein. He served as president Obama's regulatory czar and he is the author of the book "Impeachment: A Citizen's Guide."

All right, professor, thanks so much. Good to see you?

CASS SUNSTEIN, PROFESSOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Good to see you. Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: All right. First, your reaction to Mick Mulvaney's attempts to walk back his quid pro quo admission just last Thursday. Is this a futile attempt?

SUNSTEIN: I think the answer is his attempt is awkward. That is the technical expression that clearly he said something that was unhelpful to his boss and that he regrets it. He did say it. And is walking back a bit is the only thing he could do but it didn't have the kind of enthusiasm and clarity that one would like if one were the president of the Untied States today.

WHITFIELD: That with the backdrop of this week, lots of depositions are planned. Bill Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, is schedule for Tuesday, you know. If you recall, he is the one who raised concerns in text messages where he said quote "I think it hurts to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," talking about that military -- U.S. military aide to Ukraine that Congress have already approved of. So what do you want ask of diplomat Taylor Tuesday when he scheduled to appear?

SUNSTEIN: Well, I think the question which he probably has some insight on is whether the withholding of economic assistance to Ukraine was actually connected to investigation of a political opponent. He may not know the answer to that but he might have some sort of insight into what was actually happening. It's a pretty simple question, and he might say I don't know, but his texts suggest that he kind of suspects.

WHITFIELD: Wasn't his text damning enough?

SUNSTEIN: It was. People are in various moods when they write texts, we all know that. Sometimes what we say in a text won't reflect what we think on reflection. He has had a lot of time to think about it which might mean that he will color it in a way that is favorable to the president, or he might know that he is under oath and this is a pretty historic moment. And that if something not good or actually very, very bad happened, it's his oath of office obligation to say so.

WHITFIELD: Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein, thank you very much. Good to see you.

SUNSTEIN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Up next, Senator Elizabeth Warren expected to speak at any moment now in Iowa. Will she address the backlash over how she would pay for Medicare for all?

We are live next.



WHITFIELD: Right now 2020 Democrats are out in full force on the campaign trail. And today 12 candidates are campaigning across the country, including seven in Iowa. And in just a few minutes, Senator Elizabeth Warren will host a town hall outside Des Moines in the appropriate named Warren County.

Warren continues to face intense criticism over how she will pay for her Medicare for all plan. This morning her Democratic rivals kept piling on.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to see how this is going to be paid for, because right now, whether you copy- paste the Bernie Sanders math or do it some other way, there is a hole mounting to trillions of dollars in how this is supposed to work. And I'm not having these problems describing how it's going to be paid for. SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you have to

show how you're going to pay for things, and that was the point. I don't think any one person on that stage has a monopoly on good ideas, and that seems to be what she said through these debates.


WHITFIELD: All Right. Both those candidates raising a million dollars after their performances on the debate stage last week. We have a team following all the latest on the campaign trail.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is at senator Warren's Iowa town hall and CNN political reporter Arlette Saenz is in New York where former vice president Joe Biden just spoke at a town hall earlier today.

Good to see you both.

Jeff, you first. 2020 Dems, you know, they are slamming Warren's unwillingness to disclose how she will pay for Medicare for all, but what are you hearing from voters? How much does it matter to them?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, that is essential question, of course Elizabeth Warren has been rising in popularity. It is one of the reason she was at the center of the scrutiny during the debate last week.

But talking to voters, I mean, Warren supporters are Warren supporters. They like her health care as one of the many options here. But I have not detected any concern among her supporters who are here. But the question is undecided voters. There are so many voters here in Iowa and New Hampshire, other early states, who are still trying to sort through all this and see, you know, what is possible. Of course, the top objective for Democrats is to find the most electable candidate.

So Elizabeth Warren, no question, has to resolve this. She said through her advisers last week after the debate that she would be studying and reviewing the possible ways to pay for Medicare for all. We will see if she talks about that here today. She has not yet talked about that specifically. She will likely be asked about it, though. Health care is such a front and center issue. But she is really taking it from all sides.

One interesting thing about the rise of Elizabeth Warren, it has created a big opening for a lot of the moderate candidates, if you will. Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and of course Joe Biden all asking the same question here, how would she pay for this. So we will see if she answers that question or begins to answer it here today, Fredricka.


WHITFIELD: OK. And Arlette, you know, Biden has also been critical of, you know, Warren on that same issue. What is she saying today, if anything? ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Fred, today here in New

York City, Elizabeth Warren and health care were not top of mind for Joe Biden. He really was focused on bringing his pitch to teachers. He spoke here at the United Teachers Federation at a union day event stressing what he would do as president, saying that he and his wife Jill Biden, who is a college professor, that they would be the best partners for teachers in the White House.

And he also talks about what type of education secretary he would want to nominate, insisting that it would be someone who has teaching experience. Take a listen to what he had to tell these teachers here today in New York.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Four years of Betsy Devos is plenty. It's enough. It's enough. And I have been saying this and I mean it. We are going to make sure the next secretary of education is a teacher! Someone who has taught in a classroom. I'm not just saying this to make you feel better. You know better!


SAENZ: Now, that pledge to nominate a teacher as education secretary is also something that Elizabeth Warren has promoted. But Biden, over the past few days, has been critical of Warren when it comes to Medicare for all, noting that while she is a candidate who has a plan for everything, she doesn't have a plan for that single most important issue. That's the argument Joe Biden has been making in recent days -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And Jeff, the 2020 candidates are also weighing in on Hillary Clinton's completely unfounded claim this week that Tulsi Gabbard is, you know, an agent, you know, of Russia, a real asset for Russia. What has the reaction been like?

ZELENY: Well, Fredricka, this was certainly a wrinkle that was added in the campaign discussion late last week when Hillary Clinton did not name Gabbard specifically, but she did leave that suggestion open. But take a listen to what Pete Buttigieg told our Jake Tapper as well as Cory Booker what they had to say about this earlier code today.


TAPPER: Do you think Tulsi Gabbard is a Russian asset?

BUTTIGIEG: I don't know what the basis is for that. Statements like that ought to be backed by evidence. I also think that our focus right now needs to be on things that are actually undermining America. I mean, right now we are being told to quote "get over it" when it comes to the mixing of domestic politics and foreign affairs.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, again, these questions are boring on the absurd. We got to get back focused on as a Democratic primary field, what is important. Not tearing each other down, not making -- these kinds of allegations are not constructive in any way.


ZELENY: So certainly no Democratic candidates are taking this and wanting to talk about this. Senator Amy Klobuchar declined to answer the question all weekend. And you could hear Booker and Buttigieg doing it as well. We will see if senator Warren brings it up. They try to pivot to election security and say that is the most important part.

But Fredricka, we'll see how this develops here. Congresswoman Gabbard was also in Iowa and she is actually getting looks by some people because Hillary Clinton's comments simply elevated her -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right had. Jeff Zeleny and Arlette Saenz, we will leave it there for now. Thank you so much.

All right, next. New Video just released showing a football coach jumping into action after a student brings a loaded gun to school.

First, there are some surprising benefits to exercising in a cold environment. Here is today's "staying well."


JOHNNY ADAMIC, CO-OWNER, BRRRN: When you walk in to burn at 50 degrees, it feels good. It doesn't feel cold, but you are not sweating within the first minute because the room is too hot.

ZACK RETTOUN, CLIENT, BRRRN: In a normal situation, I get too hot ho, too uncomfortable, and working out in this cooler temperature allows me to push myself longer and harder.

DR. MATTHEW SCHMITT, PULMONARY MEDICINE, PIEDMONT HEALTHCARE: Studies have shown that people in cold workouts, they are actually auto- turboing their brown fat. It's a high thermo regulatory function in the human body. It raises our temperature by burning fatty acids, stuff we want get rid off.

[14:45:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cooler temperature and courage movements, you are exercising at your hardest output. You are definitely sweating but it's an earned sweat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to working out in a cold exercise class, the triggers for people underline cardiac or pulmonary conditions to be cold weather. And that is why it's important to check with your medical professional before you just jump in into extreme workout.



[14:49:39] WHITFIELD: Newly released surveillance video shows us exactly why a

high school football coach and a security guard in Oregon has been hailed a hero. The video shows the moment last May when the coach/security guard hugged the student that he had just disarmed.

Here is CNN's Polo Sandoval.



POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Angel Gornados Diaz walked into his northeast Portland, Oregon high school campus back in May armed with a shotgun and loaded with a single shell. This newly released surveillance video shows us what happened next.

That is campus coach and security Keenan Lowe encountering Diaz at the entrance to a classroom. He grabs the gun with one hand and reaches for the crisis stricken 19-year-old with the other. What follows was a consoling hard (ph) conversation allowing police time to respond and take control.

Coach Lowe has kept a relatively low profile for the last five months, only discussing that moment publicly a few times, including this interview with GMA after it happened.

KEENAN LOWE, HIGH SCHOOL COACH/SECURITY GUARD WHO DISARMED STUDENT: I feel like I was put in that room in that very moment for a reason to protect those kids. I ended up getting the gun from him, you know, getting the gun with my right hand and holding him off with my left hand and calling for a teacher to come grab the gun from me.

SANDOVAL: Surveillance video confirms accounts from witnesses and likely reassures parents who would fear the worst on that summer day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the grace of God, nobody was hurt on this one. So I'm very thankful for that.

SANDOVAL: Earlier this month Diaz pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and was sentenced to three years' probation. As part of the deal he will get mental health and substance abuse treatment. In a statement the deputy attorney claimed Diaz never meant to hurt anyone other than himself. The D.A.'s office also determined that the gun did not fire when Diaz pulled the trigger, giving the consoling coach time to act.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: Incredible hero.

All right. Still ahead, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on shaky ground? New CNN reporting on the inside effort to get him out of the White House, next.


[14:55:09] WHITFIELD: Tonight CNN's Fareed Zakaria investigates big money in the college admission scandal. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want to say to your former players?

ZAKARIA: Yale's soccer coach took over $400,000.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He pleaded guilty to taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.

ZAKARIA: Stanford's sailing coach agreed to take over $600,000 for the Sailing team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI believed the U.T. tennis head coach was paid more than $90,000.

ZAKARIA: In all, ten coaches and athletic officials were accused in Rick Singer's scheme. Five have pleaded guilty and five not guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about all these students who were qualified and cheated out of a spot?

ZAKARIA: It's no coincidence that college sports is at the heart of the biggest college admission scandal in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Singer worked with the parents to fabricate impressive athletic profiles for their kids.

ZAKARIA: Singer knew that the recruitment of athletes was a weak link in the admissions process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The students' athletic credentials had been fabricated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Charging documents say Singer accepted millions of dollars in bribes.

ZAKARIA: Coaches have enormous power to choose their recruits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What made you want to plea guilty?

ZAKARIA: It was tough to bribe a whole committee but you could bribe one person. School say they were addressing the problem stressing that they were victims in Rick Singer's scheme. But the system they created lives on where some kids get huge advantages in admissions through the side door of athletics.


WHITFIELD: Catch the CNN Special Report "Scheme and Scandal" tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN.