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Mulvaney Again Denies Trump-Ukraine Quid Pro Quo; More Diplomats Set To Testify, After A Week Of Critical Testimony; Pompeo: Impeachment Process Has Been "Unfair In the Nth Degree"; Largest U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Syria Underway; 16 Kurdish Fighters And 1 Turkish Soldier Killed In Past 24 Hours; New Video May Hold Clues To 3-Year Old's Abduction; Warren Hosts Iowa Town Hall As "Medicare For All" Questions Mount; Pelosi Makes "Meltdown" Photo Her Own. Aired 3- 4p ET
Aired October 20, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin with the expanding impeachment inquiry and the President's Acting Chief of Staff, once again, trying to convince the American people that his admission of a quid pro quo in the Ukraine scandal wasn't exactly an admission. Mulvaney attempted to tamp down the fallout from his bombshell admission during that press briefing on Thursday by saying his comments were taken out of context.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: That's what people are saying that I said, but I didn't say that. Can I see how people took that the wrong way? Absolutely. But I never said there was a quid pro quo because there isn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: I didn't say that, says Mick Mulvaney today. Here's Mulvaney from that press briefing on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: This is a corrupt place. I don't want to send them a bunch of money and have them waste it, have them spend it, have them use it to line their own pockets. Did he also mention to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that's it, and that's why we held up the money.
JONATHAN KARL, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: What you just describe is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happen, as well.
MULVANEY: We do that all the time with foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The shifting explanations come as multiple sources tell CNN Mulvaney faced internal efforts to oust him from the White House before Democrats moved ahead on the impeachment inquiry.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House for us with more on the latest in this damage control as well from the White House. Jeremy?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fredricka. The White House due to stabbing Mulvaney was repeatedly confronted with his own words. That stunning admission made late last week in which the Chief of Staff conceded that the White House security aide to Ukraine was, indeed, held up in part, at least, because of the President's interests in Ukraine launching this investigation into these debunked conspiracy theories related to the 2016 election and the Democratic National Committee. And so when Mulvaney was confronted with his own words once again today on the Fox News program, he insisted that once again he was simply being misconstrued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: You've again said, just a few seconds ago, that I said there was a quid pro quo. Never use that language, because there is not a quid pro quo.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: You were asked by Jonathan Karl, you've described a quid pro quo, and you said, that happens all the time.
MULVANEY: And reporters will use their language all the time, so my language never said quid pro quo. But let's go 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: And those things that was legitimate for the President to do included, as Mulvaney said, once again, today, the President's interest in that politically charged investigation into 2016. But Mulvaney's focus now appears to be on saying, well, I didn't use the words quid pro quo, even if that was indeed what he was describing, Fred?
WHITFIELD: And so Jeremy, you know, what about the threat of his ouster, even before this impeachment inquiry and might, this blunder if you want to call it that on this whole quid pro quo statement impact his future?
DIAMOND: Well, as you know, Fred, this misstatement, this attempt to clean up what he has previously said during this press conference has really shine the spotlight on Mick Mulvaney and raise questions about his viability at the White House. But even before all of this, the White House Chief of Staff, according to multiple sources was facing an effort by some administration officials to potentially oust him were told the top aides, the President reached out to at least two potential replacements for the Chief of Staff to gauge whether or not it was possible to replace him. Now, we should also note that Mick Mulvaney, still as the Acting Chief of Staff, 10 months after he was named to that position, no sign right now that he's going to be named permanently to that post.
WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy, down at the White House, thank you so much.
So Democrats are preparing to ratchet up the impeachment inquiry again this week as several diplomat and Trump administration officials are expected to testify and give depositions. This comes after a full week of testimony by diplomats and ambassadors, who bolstered many of the whistleblowers' claims.
CNN's Marshall Cohen joining us now to talk more about what is next in this impeachment inquiry. Marshall, so how important might this week be?
MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Fred, it's going to be another important and busy week on Capitol Hill.
You just pointed out there is a full slate of witnesses coming to Washington, telling their story. There are career diplomats including those with experience on the ground in Ukraine. There are officials involved in the Budget Office that was overseeing the freeze of U.S. military assistance to Ukraine. And there are also people that were on that phone call with the Ukrainian President listening in while President Trump was speaking to the new leader there, Volodymyr Zelensky. So, there are people with direct first hand knowledge of what was going on.
I will point out, it's all happening behind closed doors. Republicans have been raising concerns about transparency. So that's what's coming up.
WHITFIELD: And are there particular players that are more prominent than others who were scheduled to testify this week?
COHEN: Well, you're definitely going to want to zero in coming up I believe on Tuesday, an Ambassador by the name of Bill Taylor. He is currently the top diplomat in Ukraine. He had contacts with Trump appointees, other people involved this year in the effort to potentially manipulate Ukraine to do those politically charged investigations. He had told other people, those diplomats that it would be crazy to do so, to hold up the aid.
So they've already read his text messages. They're going to want to ask him directly, what was he -- what was happening and what was he thinking. And then additionally, they're going to talk to a guy by the name of Tim Morrison, who is a National Security Council official who was on the phone alongside the President of the United States, Donald Trump, when Donald Trump told Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader, two things. I want you to do us a favor, look into the DNC and investigate Joe Biden. That transcript that the White House released, there were some parts that weren't totally filled out. This guy was on the call and they're going to ask him, tell us everything you know.
WHITFIELD: Fill in the blanks. Alright, Marshall Cohen, thank you so much.
COHEN: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk more about this now. With me is Daniel Strauss, a Politics Reporter for POLITICO, also joining me, Renato Mariotti, he is a Former Federal Prosecutor and a CNN Legal Analyst. Good to see you both.
All right, Daniel, you first. You know, several career diplomats and ambassadors set to testify this week behind closed doors in this impeachment inquiry. What do you want to hear most? And namely Bill Taylor, who was that Acting Ambassador to Ukraine who had that text who said, wait a minute, for clarification, what are you asking us to do?
DANIEL STRAUSS, POLITICS REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes. I mean, I think my -- what I want to hear most is what many people want to hear most, which is what was Taylor's thinking. What about this situation, in particular, really started to raise the alarm bells and pushed him to say in this text chain, wait a minute, guys. I don't think this is such a great idea. But it's not just Taylor. I also want to hear from Michael Duffy, the official at OMB, who signed off on withholding these funds to Ukraine. I want to know his thinking too in this process, what he felt was the thinking of the White House while this discussion was going on.
WHITFIELD: And in OMB, wait a minute, we're talking about Mick Mulvaney, you know, while he was Chief of Staff, acting Chief of Staff who said what he said. I mean, we're talking about a message that might -- that Michael Duffy may be able to convey that Mick Mulvaney may know intimately about.
And Renato, you know, many people who are being called to testify, have their involvements with the State Department. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims, you know, the process is unfair. Listen to what he had to say about all this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: My view is that each of us has a solemn responsibility to defend the constitution and speak the truth. I said this the other day. I hope those officers should go to Capitol Hill, will speak truthfully that they'll speak completely. I only wish that this was a process that merited such a response. This has been unfair in the nth degree.
We've got officers going up there to testify about important security related matters without a State Department lawyer in the room, and then we're not being prepared to -- being allowed to know what it says, we're not able to protect the State Department. We're not able to protect the United States of America. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Renato, is any of that true?
RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, certainly, it is true that there is not a State Department lawyer in the room. But there is no constitutional requirement that there is and I think, you know, part of what is going on here is that the administration has had unprecedented and really illegal unconstitutional response to this impeachment inquiry. I mean, Mr. Cipollone, the White House Counsel wrote a letter and the State Department has adopted the position that essentially the entire impeachment inquiry is illegitimate, unconstitutional and they haven't cooperated at all.
And it has have I think a political response --
WHITFIELD: When there's a constitutional right to have this -- to play the role of oversight. But when Mike Pompeo says, you know, their attorneys are not, you know, present and, and this is, you know, fairly -- unfairly, you know, balanced and that there isn't the proper representation. Are those arguments that, you know, are fact based? I mean, is there some precedents that attorneys shouldn't be present and that you can -- because in the name of oversight, you can't ask these questions unless there is representation by, you know, legal extension of the State Department?
MARIOTTI: No, you do not have a right -- there's no right for them to be present. And, you know, it's not clear to me that these people couldn't have a personal attorney there. I think the concern the Democrats, you know, most likely have is giving the administration the opportunity to hear what they're saying and coordinate testimony amongst witnesses.
WHITFIELD: And then Renato, how about a follow-up on what Mick Mulvaney is arguing. You know, he is walking back on his quid pro quo, you know, admission at that press conference saying he didn't necessarily use those words. It was, you know, the media that has kind of run away with it. Did he clear things up or did it just get more murky?
MARIOTTI: Fred, I think you're -- I think, you know, you putting it out there and makes it clear that he is mocking this up even more. And look, whenever witnesses clean up their testimony, which happens sometimes in legal proceedings, when they make a false statement that gets them in trouble, then they try to clear it up. It just draws more attention to it here. Mick Mulvaney is basically trying to convince us he didn't say what he already said. I mean, he will be better off admitting that, you know, he made a mistake and trying to be, you know, be more direct and forthright about that.
WHITFIELD: And then Daniel, the White House is backtracking, you know, on this plan. The President announced it's going to be Doral golf, you know, resort to host the G7 summit. Mick Mulvaney underscored it by, you know, making that formal announcement than there was lots of strong backlash. And one of the places now according to the White House it's under serious consideration is Camp David. But listen to Mick Mulvaney dismiss that site just a few days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: Put the profit one aside and deal with a perfect place. I mean, who was here for the last time it was a Camp David? Was that a perfect place? In fact, I understand the folks who participated in it hated it, and thought it was a miserable place to have the G7.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. So Daniel, now it's not so miserable?
STRAUSS: I mean, I think this is an example of how the Acting Chief of Staff is sharing the sentiment of the President. Obviously, the President from the beginning would have preferred to have the G7 at Doral, at the residence in the property that he owns. And that was reflected in Mulvaney's explanation in response to this criticism, the complaint that Democrats and the media somehow were the ones that are causing them to consider other sites. This seems to be the sentiment of both President Trump and Mulvaney here.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And Mulvaney said there were about a dozen locations and it was, you know, Doral that seemed to rise above the rest. Now, of course, everybody wants to see the list. I mean, don't you want to see what the list of the other contenders are to see, you know, who's now next in line to potentially host the G7. Maybe --
STRAUSS: I mean, this is a White House that loves lists. But, you know, I --
WHITFIELD: But we may not be privy to that list.
WHITFIELD: All right, Daniel Strauss, Renato Mariotti, thanks so much.
MARIOTTI: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead. U.S. troops on the move in Syria amid a shaky ceasefire between the Kurds and Turks. The White House says there is relatively little fighting but is that really the case? We'll take you into the war zone.
Plus, one week later, and still very few answers, a family pleading to find a missing three year old in Alabama. Details coming up.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back, breaking news, in 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 prepared to withdraw from eastern Syria. And in a surprise visit to Afghanistan today, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said about 1,000 troops are withdrawing from that region, northern Syria, on the ground and in the air and they are quote, being repositioned in western Iraq, end quote.
The troops are not headed home, not to the U.S. contrary to how the President has been selling it. Esper said, they will be an operations to defend Iraq and conduct counter ISIS missions. Speaking earlier today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. brokered ceasefire was mostly holding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: I got a report within the last half hour from my senior leaders who indicate that there's relatively little fighting, a little sporadic small arms fire a mortar or two. But we got wounded out of a town called Ras al-Ayn last night. And we're hoping that the SDF forces will move out of those towns in this ceasefire that the Turkish leaders and the SDF leaders agreed to while we're on the ground at Ankara will hold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: However, one Turkish soldier and more than a dozen Syrian Democratic Forces have been killed in the past 24 hours, and both sides are accusing the other of violating the agreement. Under the terms Syrian-Kurds have until Tuesday to abandon a large piece of land in a buffer zone along Turkey's border. Earlier this month, President Trump announced the pull out of U.S. troops in the area. And then just days later, Turkey launched a military offensive to force Kurds out of the area.
CNN's Nick Payton Walsh's following a U.S. troop movements. He's there on the ground in northeastern Syria. What have you been seeing?
NICK PAYTON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, today is when this troop withdraw the largest movement that the forces inside Syria have made. I understand from U.S. official on this movement about 500 personnel. It began today where it seems they began to coalesce on a base near Hasakah at a town in the east here. And we saw ourselves on one particular base dozens, possibly up to 200 vehicles gathering there. Now understanding the hours and days ahead, that convoy will make its way out of the country to Iraqi Kurdistan, a deeply symbolic moment for many Syrian Kurds. We'll see it passed by, and of course, the Americans on board.
I think it's fair to say that very few of them feel they want to leave in this much of a hurry. It's been an extraordinarily complex few weeks as American policy and Washington has shifted dramatically from the small withdrawal to enable this Turkish incursion to letting what frankly spiral out of control changing situation on the ground last Sunday so fast that it appeared, U.S. troops had to expedite their withdrawal so fast. No military wants to maneuver themselves in this hasty way, particularly with their intentions broadcasted so high by their commanders, before they get a chance to do it. But that is what U.S. troops here are underway doing at this particular moment in time. Often through hostile territory here, ISIS resurgent because of the chaos here, the Syrian regime increasingly cozy with the Syrian Kurds, who used to be America's ally. But now, frankly, feel a deep sense of betrayal because of the hastiness of this departure.
So, symbolic day, certainly for America's presence in the region. As you said there, they're not leaving. They're all going home. And a statement we got from their spokes people here, it's clear that these U.S. forces are going to Iraqi Kurdistan. They're being repositioned around the region. They may from there even launched incursions into Syria.
In fact, you know, their job fighting ISIS will continue. It wasn't quite finished. There are still a force here. They're able to get a second life as one U.S. official said to me here, but they'll have to do that job from inside of Iraq. So rather, frankly, than ending America's involvement in this region, instead, you have U.S. forces having to do a much harder job of fighting ISIS from a different country rather than the one they resurging in. And this more complex question now without the U.S. forces here who are not involved in monitoring the ceasefire or party to this conflict they pull back to enable it to happen under President Trump's orders.
The absence of them in the possible days or hours ahead, may engine the further change on the battlefield, may expedite things to as well. It's a deeply troubling situation for those Syrian Kurds who worried what the meeting in Sochi on Tuesday between Turkish President Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin will do in terms of carving up territory and where that will leave them after they felt abandoned by political leadership in Washington who had been, in the past, pledged greater loyalty. Back to you.
WHITFIELD: Yes, it be fascinating to see what comes up that meeting between the Turkish and Russian leaders. Nick Payton Walsh, that's this week. Thank you so much, from Syria.
All right, I want to bring in now CNN Military Analyst and Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. He is a former U.S. Army Commanding General. Good to see you. Let's start with these troop movements. Does moving them to western Iraq from northern Syria make strategic sense, particularly as it pertains to some counter ISIS strategy?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: In my view, it does not, Fred. It is just a movement to try and adjust to the situation, adapt to the orders that they've been given. Nick is just saying that he believes that they're moving to reveal. I think there's probably a possible they might move to al-Asad Airbase in Anbar province that would be closer to the fight.
The Pentagon said the other day Department of Defense mentioned that they were going to do two things, continue to support the fight against ISIS from an over the horizon capability, as well as improving the capability of Iraq to counter ISIS in the Iraqi territory. Now, anytime you hear the comment of over the horizon, that means the fighting forces are a long distance from the fight --
WHITFIELD: Out of play.
HERTLING: Yes. They can go in through aircraft. But in order to do that, and to be effective with OTH forces, you have to have intelligence on the ground. Right now, there's confusion, there's chaos. We don't really know what's happening. There's been suggestions that there's been atrocities and war crimes by the Turks. The Syrian Defense Forces has said they haven't been attempting to relocate out of these towns. But there, General Mazloum just the other day said that some of his forces weren't being allowed to relocate out during this ceasefire period, and indicated that he thought that Turkish forces were keeping them in those towns. So once the ceasefire was over, they could conduct more operations and actually annihilate the Kurdish forces.
Now, all of that is just conversation from both sides. And because American forces and the press is not there, we really don't know what's going on. We can have conjecture on all this, but we don't have any other facts and that's problematic.
WHITFIELD: Wow. So take a look at what President Trump tweeted out and then deleted saying this, "Mark Esperanto, Secretary of Defense" --
WHITFIELD: I mean, that's Esper, that's his real name. "The ceasefire is holding up very nicely. There are some minor skirmishes that have ended quickly. New areas being resettled with the Kurds. USA soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zones. We have secured the oil bringing soldiers home."
OK, so aside from getting the secretaries, the Secretary of Defense's name wrong, this is what Secretary Esper actually said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think overall, the ceasefire generally seems to be holding. We see a stabilization of the lines if you will, on the ground. And we do get reports of intermittent fires this and that. That doesn't surprise me necessarily, but that's what we're picking up, that's what we're seeing so far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So what's worrisome to you about the mixed messages or incongruent messages and he fact that current and retired military generals, you know, say at a minimum, in all of these U.S. credibility is damaged. General Petraeus, just said, you know, that this U.S. troop withdrawal is a real betrayal to the Kurds and the President is, you know, now misrepresenting the truth about the ceasefire and civilization overall being happy.
HERTLING: Well, a couple of things, Fred. I'd say that Secretary Esper probably has the best intelligence. And in my view, he's also likely playing it down to coincide with some of the things the President saying. As a former military guy who fought with the Kurds in northern Iraq, I will tell you, yes, we have suffered greatly from this action, our reputation, our ability to have trust with our partners on the ground, the Kurds and even to a degree, the Iraqis and the rest of the world that seeing us go back on our partnership with the Kurds a fighting force that helped us defeat or actually defeated with our help ISIS, they were the primary fighters against ISIS. So all of that is problematic to extreme degree, but it does hurt the U.S. military's reputation, the U.S. government's reputation.
The other thing I'd say is that the comment that the President made, or actually the Secretary of State made about talking with the Iraqi government to make sure that we can bring forces there or habitation for a short period of time, he was talking to the Iraqi president Barham Salih, who's a good friend of mine. Barham Salih is a Kurd. So imagine yourself talking to a Kurdish President of Iraq, saying, we've just basically broken our partnership and our promises to Kurds in Syria, we want to come back into your country, we're already a peek at forces in that country. So all of these things are just contrary to what common sense of anyone on the ground would tell you.
I spent three years of my life in Iraq, and I'll tell you this, this is chaotic. It's dysfunctional. And just the comments by the President versus a Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense that are not on the same sheet of music, and are playing this thing as if it's a minor event, it is a major event, in my view and in many other military members to use, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, we respect your point of view. Thank you so much.
HERTLING: Thank you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: A family is heartbroken. Just take a look at this little face, a three year old. One week ago, Kamille McKinney was grabbed from a birthday party in Birmingham, Alabama. And she hasn't been seen since. No arrests have been made in relation to her disappearance. And now police are looking at newly released surveillance video from the complex where McKinney was taken again during a birthday party, and they hope to discover something in these images to help them solve her mysterious disappearance.
CNN's Natasha Chen is following this story for us. Police just released this video on Friday, any leads? NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well that's what we have a call in to find out if they have had any calls come in after this video was released on Friday. Earlier in the week, they had called for the public's help to see if anyone had cell phone video. So they were able to release this surveillance video from the apartment complex on Friday. It is from October 12, the day that McKinney disappeared. You could see two little girls playing there at the top of the screen. Then what we see is one man walking through the frame.
And this is the second man actually. He stops to interact with them a little bit longer. And then you see that red circle following him, he exits the screen to the left and the little girls actually follow him. So the police chief tells us that one of the men in this video is considered a suspect and the other man may have information about the little girl's disappearance.
In the meantime, police have been doing these grid searches asking for volunteers to help search the area. They've searched an apartment complex. So far, no updates on whether any of that has resulted in helpful evidence at all. We do want to point out that the community is still very hopeful. They had a prayer service, a prayer vigil. Here is one of the please that was said during that event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY CROMBLIN, ATTENDED PRAYER VIGIL FOR KAMILLE MCKINNEY: We asked right now that you would unharden your heart, no matter how it looks, no matter how fearful that you may have done. Just release here, just release her, just release her. So the right thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And that is a similar sentiment to what the little girl's father also said to a local station last week as well. Now, two people, a man and a woman were arrested after an initial amber alert on this case, but their charges ended up being unrelated to the disappearance of McKinney. The man that you see there, his charges related to child pornography and his lawyer went in front of the cameras last week and said that his client has nothing to do with the disappearance of McKinney. So Fred, we are still waiting to see what happens in this investigation and if anything turns up.
WHITFIELD: So there was a description of vehicle.
WHITFIELD: And in the images there, we see a figure. And then we see the two little ones following that figure. What happened that the two little people got, you know, separated? I mean, are police able to fill in the blanks of a vehicle that was described? And, you know, what happened once you see these little ones, you know, exit that screen?
CHEN: The details are a little fuzzy. But right now we know that because of the description of the vehicle, that may have been what led to the arrest of the man and woman that you saw. But as we just discussed, their charges are unrelated to this case. So, it's unclear how or if they are connected, and how are -- if they are connected to these two men that we see in this surveillance video. And again, that was just released on Friday. So we're waiting for police to answer some of those questions.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. Of course, we're all waiting, hoping, praying for the safe return of that three-year old.
WHITFIELD: All right, I know the family is heartbroken.
WHITFIELD: Natasha Chen, thank you so much.
CHEN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, up next, Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigning in Iowa, facing questions about her plans for one of her most pressing issues in the 2020 race, health care. We'll take you to the trail right after this.
WHITFIELD: All right, today a dozen 2020 contenders are out on the campaign trail campaigning nationwide. Of those 12, seven Democrats are in the Hawkeye State. Among the candidates in Iowa, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who, right now, is taking questions from voters at a town hall. That just so happens to be in Warren county. Warren has faced intense criticism from her 2020 competitors over how she plans to pay for Medicare for All.
CNN Senior Washington Correspondent Jeff Zeleny is at the town hall. Jeff, what is the message today?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fredricka, good afternoon. Well, so far Senator Elizabeth Warren has not addressed all of these questions that are surrounding her candidacy about how she would pay for her proposal for Medicare for All. Of course, that was the topic front and center at the debate last week. She was really taking a lot of incoming from Amy Klobuchar, from Pete Buttigieg, from Joe Biden and others on the stage.
We're about an hour into this town hall so far. She has not addressed at one time. But if a voter asks her about how she would pay for the plan, we are watching to see how she will answer it because we do know that her campaign aids have been saying her campaign is going to look into a, you know, a variety of proposals for how to pay for that plan. And so she could be coming out with some ideas for how to pay for the plan but she is a staunch supporter of Medicare for All. But she talked about a lot, not that. Take a listen to what she did say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we want to beat back, we want to make this country, this government, this democracy work for us. It's going to take big structural change. And I got a plan for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So she always talks about how she has a plan for that, but of course, she does not have a specific health care plan separately from the Medicare for All plan that Bernie Sanders introduced in the Senate. So that really is the question here less than four months before the Iowa caucuses open the Democratic presidential voting. How Elizabeth Warren is going to pay for that health care plan and a variety of other proposals she has.
So again, she's not yet talked about that specifically, Fred. We'll see if she still does. But a lot of candidates are pressing her on that. So that is the next dynamic here to play out, Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.
All right, straight ahead. It's one of the fastest growing gangs in Mississippi but there's a new program to stop it more right after this.
WHITFIELD: Alright, welcome back. Tonight, Lisa Ling is back with an all new episode of "This Is Life". And this week, Lisa takes us inside one of the fastest growing gangs in the Deep South to find out why it's on the rise and what some members are doing to get out before it's too late.
LISA LING, CNN HOST, "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING": So Frankly, I'm shocked that one of the Royals at Hancock County Jail actually volunteered to speak with me. The code of silence and what could happen if you break it demands that we conceal his identity.
(on-camera): How old were you when you got involved in gangs?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never been involved in gang as an organization. I started about 12 years old.
LING (on-camera): And what was it about that lifestyle that appealed to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A devious life. I like quick money, girls and I thought that's what I want to do the rest of my life.
LING (on-camera): And at what point did you get connected with the Simon City Royals?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't know what it was until I actually hit prison (ph) (INAUDIBLE) what they were really about, royals in (INAUDIBLE) streets, the walls, (INAUDIBLE) walls.
LING (on-camera): So is it a street gang or a prison gang?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is neither. It's an organization.
WHITFIELD: All right, joining us right now, the host of "This Is Life", Lisa Ling. All right, so Lisa, help us understand the bottom line. So is it a gang or is it organization? And what's the difference either way? What's the message here?
LING: Well, it really depends on who you ask, Fred. So, the organization is called the Simon City Royals. They come from Chicago. They started in the 1960s, and by the '70s, they had spread to a number of southern states. They're not as much of a big presence in Chicago anymore, but they are, for lack of a better word, flourishing in southern states like Mississippi.
And one of the reasons why it has been growing so fast, and we communicate with law enforcement all over the country. And we started to notice this gang in particular, its growth increasing quite a bit, and it's because Mississippi has become a dumping grounds for methamphetamines from Mexico. It's a stronger mess than they have ever experienced, it's more potent. And so many people are becoming addicted to meth and then ending up in jail and prison.
And once you go in to a correctional facility, you have to ally with an organization. And if you're white, you probably have to ally with the Simon City Royals if you're in the state of Mississippi.
WHITFIELD: So, in other words, this gang activity, then, organization activity, is flourishing in the jails, so the folks that you talked to, is there a feeling that someone will turn it around or that there are efforts to, you know, get out but it's too late once you're in jail and now associated with these organizations
LING: Yes. Well, there certainly are efforts underway, and we profile an organization called the City of Refuge. Now, gang- affiliated inmates who are serving fairly lengthy sentences, some of them have the option of finishing their sentences at a place called City of Refuge.
And this is a faith-based organization, and it's actually having some pretty promising results. It tries to provide the kind of brotherhood to these young men that the gangs do. And as we all know, Mississippi has very, very high rates of poverty. Many of these young men who end up seeking out these gangs don't really have stable family lives to begin with and so they seek out these brotherhoods and that's what City of Refuge tries to do. Replace that negative brotherhood with one that is very positive. And again, they've had some pretty promising results.
LING: All right. We are going to be watching. Lisa Ling, it's fascinating. Thank you so much. Don't miss an all new episode of "This Is Life with Lisa Ling" tonight 10:00 Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN.
WHITFIELD: A picture of power sends the internet into a frenzy. Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Instead of just rolling her eyes, Nancy Pelosi is trying to turn the tables on President Trump using his own photo. He tweeted it with the caption, Nervous Nancy's Unhinged Meltdown. At a White House meeting, Democratic leaders walked out on. And when they walked out, she said he was the one who had --
NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES: The meltdown. Sad to say.
MOOS (voice-over): Well now the internet is melting down after the Speaker decided to use President Trump's photo as the cover on her Twitter account on what was National Boss's Day.
Fans said Speaker Pelosi was owning Trump like a boss. Pointing her finger, she was depicted shooting rays that ignited the President. The photo was annotated. Pelosi wearing a crown, President Trump a gesture's hat.
The image now joins other classic Pelosi moments like the time she clapped at the President. And put on shades exiting another testy White House meeting. Her legend is looming large. Pelosi had a couple of guesses when asked what was happening at the moment the photo was snapped.
PELOSI: I think I was excusing myself from the room. I was probably saying all roads lead to Putin.
MOOS (voice-over): She argued with the President saying his decision to withdraw from Syria leaves a void the Russians could fill.
(on-camera): But people aren't just analyzing the images of Speaker Pelosi and President Trump.
(voice-over): They were struck by the body language of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs State Department official and Republican Congressman, Steve Scalise.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hanging their heads in shame.
MOOS (voice-over): Chagrin and bear it, read one caption. President Trump may call her nervous Nancy, but on Thursday, she called him --
MOOS (voice-over): That's President Watchamacallit, Madam Speaker. Jeanne Moos, CNN.
PELOSI: It was a meltdown. That's the sound.
MOOS (voice-over): New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's right there.
WHITFIELD: All right, we've got so much more straight ahead the newsroom right after this.