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CNN NEWSROOM

Joe Biden Continues to Rise in Polls; Trump to Give Statement on Syria This Morning; Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to be Arraigned Today. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 23, 2019 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: -- politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza.

So, credit where credit's due. This is a strong lead. He's kept the lead, virtually since the beginning here. But you say that's not entirely the story of this poll. What is it?

CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes. I mean, I think it's part of the story, Jim. And I would argue that the most important number in the poll isn't 34, it's actually 42. And that's the percentage of the vote that the black vote -- or the non-white vote, I should say, so black and Hispanic as well as Asian -- that Joe Biden is winning in our national poll.

Why does that matter? Because that's what's boosting him up. The numbers among whites, only between him, Warren and Sanders, not a huge gap. But when you look at it with non-white voters, huge Biden gap and a growing one. He was only at 27 percent, I think, prior, 28 percent among non-white voters in our September poll.

That matters because, particularly as we get along in this primary process, starting with South Carolina at the end of February next year, black voters and Hispanic voters make up a big chunk of a lot of these electorates. And in 2008 and 2016, the candidate who had the non-white vote behind them, won.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Yes. And Elizabeth Warren's not even close. I mean --

CILIZZA: No.

HARLOW: -- 13 percent for her there.

CILIZZA: Behind Sanders, in some.

HARLOW: I know. Yes, I was just noticing that.

CILIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: Cillizza, give us your grades, your mid-week grades.

CILIZZA: OK. So I did -- I've got a few up here that I do want to note. Let me go -- let me just point at Biden first. Because Jim mentioned that, you know, I said there's some good news here, but not a ton. I gave him a C-plus this week.

And the reason I did it is because the one piece of good news for Joe Biden is our poll. No question, it's good news. No question. But less than $9 million on hand --

HARLOW: Right.

CILIZZA: -- at the end of September, he had to apologize for using public lynching, a fact unearthed by our Andrew Kaczynski. Just a long record.

Let me also highlight a few of the positives. Bernie Sanders, I gave an A to. Now, in our poll, Sanders' numbers are pretty flat. I think he was at 16, he's at 17 again or 17 and 16. But why? Why do I give him an A for this week? Well, simple. Bernie Sanders, three weeks ago, the story was he had a heart attack, he's 78 years old. Is he even going to continue in this campaign? Now --

HARLOW: Right.

CILIZZA: -- what's the story? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed him. Rashida Tlaib has endorsed him. Ilhan Omar has endorsed him. He has $33 million in the bank, which means he is going to run for as long as he wants to run.

HARLOW: Good points, as always.

CILIZZA: I do what I can.

SCIUTTO: Chris Cillizza, great to have you on. I think we might talk to you again before the 2020 election, it's possible. Might come up.

CILIZZA: Well, maybe. I'll check my calendar. Thanks Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, this morning, Joe Biden, back in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, part of an effort to reach out to middle-class voters, particularly in a swing state. The former vice president, expected to step up his attack on President Trump's economic policies, specifically in a speech expected to begin at any moment.

HARLOW: Our political reporter Arlette Saenz is with him. This is the narrative he wants: Joe from Scranton, I'm the guy who can beat Trump and only I can do it. How does he sell it today?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Poppy. Joe Biden's going to be taking the stage in just a short while here in Scranton, where he's going to try to present that contrast with President Trump, especially when it comes to the middle class.

A Biden campaign official says that the former vice president's going to draw on a bit of his own story, his own family's history here in Scranton. He had to leave here at a young age after his father lost his job.

And Biden, ahead of the speech last night, released a statement in which he says that Donald Trump does not understand what it's like to be part of the middle class, but he does. And that's something that you're going to hear him try to hammer away at, as well as try to draw contrasts when it comes to the Trump administration's policies.

And as you mentioned, we are here in Pennsylvania, this critical battleground state that Donald Trump won last time, back in 2016. And here in Lackawanna County, this is typically a Democratic stronghold. But during the last campaign, Hillary Clinton won here by a little less than 3 percent. So this is the type of area that Biden thinks he can really strike some appeal and draw some support from as he's trying to present a further contrast with the president.

And as you guys talked about in that poll that was released this morning, one area that Biden has really seen an uptick in his support of core backers, is among moderate and conservative Democrats. That number is up by double digits from when we polled back in September, and that's something that Biden often -- that's a constituency that Biden often tries to appeal to here in Pennsylvania. That is something that he will be promoting in this upcoming speech in just a short while -- Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. We'll watch, Arlette. Thanks for being there.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's hard to see how you win the White House without Pennsylvania --

HARLOW: You need --

SCIUTTO: -- Republican or Democrat.

[10:34:53]

President Trump, touting what he claims is, quote, "a big success" on the Turkey-Syria border. He's about to talk about the situation at the top of this hour. We're going to bring you a live report from the White House next. Of course, we'll bring you those comments from the president, live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: All right. So the president is about to make a statement in just a few minutes. The peg (ph) is the ongoing situation in Syria. Here's what the president just wrote. Quote, "Big success on the Turkey-Syria border. Safe zone created." Of course, that safe zone was created by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting this week, without any input from the U.S.

TEXT: Donald J. Trump: Big success on the Turkey/Syria Border. Safe Zone created! Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended. Kurds are safe and have worked very nicely with us. Captured ISIS prisoners secured. I will be making a statement at 11:00 a.m. from the White House. Thank you!

[10:40:02]

SCIUTTO: Exactly. And our Kurdish allies do not see it the same way. Democrats and Republicans have blasted the president for withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria summarily, calling it a blunder that weakens America's credibility and could lead to a resurgence of ISIS.

CNN's Joe Johns is at the White House. What do we expect, Joe, the president to declare a victory here? Is he claiming credit for this Turkish-Russian deal?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's pretty clear that the president is trying to get out of the way of this. I mean, number one, because when you look at that tweet, the first think you think of is, the big success is that Russia now is sort of the dominant, if you will, force in Syria.

But -- and you look at some of the other things he said, that captured ISIS prisoners have been secured. I mean, the big concern there in Syria is about the uncaptured ISIS prisoners who have not been secured.

So it's pretty clear, the president knows he's got a lot of opposition now, he's got a lot of severe criticism on Capitol Hill, not just Senator Lindsey Graham, who sort of led the way, but also Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who also has essentially introduced a resolution, warning the administration about this dangerous decision and suggesting the administration should not allow Turkish President Erdogan to come here for a visit soon, as scheduled.

All of this, playing in the background, of course, the impeachment inquiry and the concerns about the president's ability to hold together his Republican firewall coalition, should the president be impeached. These are the very people who are essentially going to have to acquit him. And the last thing he needs right now is a bunch of Republican senators, very angry at him on any other corollary issues.

So all of these things are playing in the background. The other thing, too, there has been this undercurrent of questioning as to whether the president essentially got rolled on his decision to pull military forces out of the area so that Turkey could move in.

The question, of course, whether Turkey, our ally in NATO, essentially told the president of the United States that they're going to conduct a military operation, and that they had to do something. That's a problem for the United States, that's a problem --

HARLOW: Yes.

JOHNS: -- for NATO, and it's a problem for the Kurdish allies who were protecting us in the war against ISIS. Back to you.

HARLOW: Joe Johns at the White House, thank you very much.

Of course, we'll bring you the president's remarks, live, right here.

All right. Soon, two associates of the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, they are going to be arraigned in court, here in New York City today, after being charged with campaign finance violations. We'll get reaction from the courthouse, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:47:27]

HARLOW: Right now, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is testifying on Capitol Hill. He is in front of the House Financial Services Committee, there to talk about digital currency Libra. But you can bet lawmakers have a host of other questions for him.

I want you to watch this exchange he just had with the chairwoman of that committee, Maxine Waters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Let me be clear. You do no fact-checking on any ads, is that correct?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Chairwoman, what we do is, we work with a set of independent fact-checkers who --

WATERS: Somebody fact-checks on ads? You contract with someone to do that, is that right?

ZUCKERBERG: Chairwoman, yes.

WATERS: And tell me, who is it that they fact-checked on?

ZUCKERBERG: Chairwoman, what we do is, when content is getting a lot of distribution and it's flagged by members of our community or by our technical systems, it can go into a queue to be reviewed by a set of independent fact-checkers. They can't fact-check everything, but the things that they get to -- and if they mark something as --

WATERS: OK.

ZUCKERBERG: -- false, then we --

WATERS: All right. My time has expired, and someone else will continue on this line of questioning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: No guaranteed fact-checkers, that's the headline out of that one, on political ads.

SCIUTTO: Right. Because they're saying they will do it for news stories or things purporting to be news stories. But on ads, which are paid -- and of course, this revenue stream, no.

HARLOW: All right. You can expect a lot more questions like that.

In the meantime, this morning, two men closely linked with Rudy Giuliani and his contacts with Ukraine will be arraigned in federal court on campaign finance charges: Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, accused of funneling foreign money to U.S. campaign coffers. SCIUTTO: Both men were indicted on four counts earlier this month, including conspiracy to violate the ban on foreign donations to federal and state elections. It's real election interference here.

CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz, live outside the court this morning. Tell us what we expect to happen today.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, the second defendant, Lev Parnas, just arrived moments ago, here in Lower Manhattan, at the federal courthouse. The hearing, the arraignment should get under way in about 30 minutes.

One of the big things is whether or not prosecutors are going to go into any more information concerning their investigation and their case. On the last court appearance for one of the other defendants, prosecutors revealed just the amount of evidence that they have so far gathered. They say that they went through 50 bank accounts, search warrants. They've reviewed about 50 bank accounts.

[10:50:06]

We'll see if they give us any more information concerning these men. There's a lot of questions swirling around these men, what were they doing here, what was their ultimate goal. And the other big thing here, obviously, is Rudy Giuliani and his role in all of this. As we've reported, he is under investigation for his interactions with these two men, for his financial dealings with these two men.

And the entire Ukraine situation and what's going on in Washington now has also caught the attention of investigators here at the Southern District of New York, the federal prosecutors.

If you recall in that indictment that they released, they talked about the removal of the ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and the role that these two men played when they were trying to get a congressman, a former congressman now, to try and get her ousted. All of that, under investigation now here by federal prosecutors in New York.

SCIUTTO: Shimon Prokupecz, it's quite a case to follow. Thanks very much.

There is more legal trouble for actress Lori Loughlin and other parents who have so far pleaded not guilty in the college admissions scandal. Prosecutors have them -- are charging them with new charges.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:56:01]

HARLOW: All right, welcome back. So the parents who pleaded not guilty --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: -- in the college admissions scandal now have more charges to consider. Federal prosecutors say the parents still fighting the charges, a group that includes Lori Loughlin and her husband, will now face additional bribery charges.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Loughlin and 11 other parents already faced charges of conspiracy, fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

CNN correspondent Alexandra Field, she's been following this story. I have to wonder about the legal advice they've been getting, because the situation is getting worse, not better.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And you had 52 people who were charged in relation to the college admissions scandal, 29 of them have accepted plea deals but you've got these parents who are still not accepting the deals, as well as a number of other college athletic recruiting officials who have not accepted deals.

So prosecutors have twice, now, upped the charges, seemingly to put pressure on these people to go ahead and just do it.

HARLOW: What do you know from the indictment in terms of new evidence?

FIELD: Well, it looks like the criminal activity is essentially what we've learned about before. The allegation is that parents were paying to up their children's SAT scores or paying to have their children designated as athletic recruits.

A few more details in the case of Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli. We're seeing messages in the new indictment that talk about the payments that were made. We can show you one of those messages from Giannulli to his accountant, saying something to the effect of, "The good news is, my daughter is in to USC. Bad news, I had to work the system."

I'll remind our viewers that this couple, they are facing 45 years in prison now.

HARLOW: Oh my gosh. I didn't realize that.

SCIUTTO: You know what also is incredible, too, is that the payments that were made, they also took a tax deduction on it, some of the parents involved did?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

FIELD: -- money, $500,000 in the case of Lori Loughlin, lost (ph) originally.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Can I just ask you one more thing? Did he plead not guilty as well?

FIELD: Correct. They are both fighting this charge. HARLOW: Even with that evidence?

FIELD: Well, you've seen this evidence that's out there. Look, a lot of the evidence that you're seeing in this indictment, we've seen in previous indictments. We know the allegation against them is that they had their two daughters designated as crew recruits --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

FIELD: -- the girls were never involved in crew in any way. But these are two parents, with a number of others, who are still wanting to fight these charges.

HARLOW: OK.

SCIUTTO: The details of the case are alarming. Alexandra Field --

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: -- thanks so much for following it.

HARLOW: We're moments away from the president delivering a statement from the White House on Syria. You'll see that live here in just a few minutes. Stay here for that.

Thank you for being with us today. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me. Any minute now, President Trump will be making a statement from the White House. There is the podium, right there from the White House. We're waiting for him to come out at any second.

He says he's going to be making a statement about the crisis unfolding in Syria. The announcement from the president, coming in a tweet this morning. But even before he speaks -- which he could walk out any second -- that statement that he mad, announcing on Twitter, requires a closer look. Let's just get to it.

President Trump declares in this tweet, "Big success on the Turkey/Syria border." For the record, not true. Don't take my word for it, just ask basically every Republican member of Congress, two- thirds of Republicans in the House and all Republican leadership in the House.

Then, the president says a safe zone was created. Again, not true. Turkey and Russia are patrolling the area. There is nothing safe there for Syrian Kurds right now.

And the president declares that the ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended. The pause has held somewhat, but tens of thousands of Syrians had to flee their homes with no place to go because of the military operation from Turkey and friends. And there's -- they have no idea when and if they were going to be able to return to their homes.

And when the president says, then, that the Kurds are safe once again, that is not true. And then he declares that captured ISIS prisoners are secured. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, he acknowledged to CNN in an interview that released just yesterday, that more than 100 ISIS prisoners have escaped.

[11:00:08]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Based on the intelligence.