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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Says All Sanctions Lifted Against Turkey Amid Ceasefire; Trump Claims Credit as Withdrawal Helps Russia, Syria, ISIS; Trump: Kurds Thankful for U.S. Leaving Them in Syria; CNN Poll: Biden's Lead Hits Widest Margin Since April; Biden Apologizes for Past Lynching Remark After Blasting Trump. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 23, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: President Trump putting some spin on the situation in Syria. Earlier this morning he declaring a big success on Twitter and then just a short time ago, he made a statement from the White House all economic sanctions on Turkey lifted and a 20-mile- wide safe zone will be established between Turkey and Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hopefully that zone will become safe. Thousands and thousands of people have been killed in that zone over the years. But it's been sought for many, many decades. And I think we have something that's going to be strong and hold up. Turkey, Syria and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries. We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them. And now we're getting out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And according to President Trump the Kurds are OK with that. Even though that claim is not backed up by these images. These images show angry Kurds pelting potatoes at vehicles, U.S. vehicles, leaving just on Monday. Yet today the leader of Syria's Kurdish forces did say this. I just spoke with President Trump and explained to him the Turkish violations of the truce has would not have been possible without his great efforts. We thank -- all in capital letters -- President Trump for his tireless efforts that stopped the brutal Turkish attack and the jihadist groups on our people.

Gregory Walker is a retired Army special forces soldier. He spent time with Kurdish fighter during the Iraq war. And so, welcome, sir, to you and thank you so much of course for you, for your service to this country. It's my understanding you say you are furious at President Trump and his decision to pull U.S. troops from northeast Syria. Tell me why.

GREGORY WALKER, RETIRED U.S. SPECIAL FORCES SOLDIER WHO FOUGHT WITH KURDS IN IRAQ: Good morning, Brooke. Thank you for having me. I want to preface that answer. I wrote a book in 1994 on U.S. special operations and the dedication to that read, for the war fighters whom a wise commander will use with great skill and forethought and whom the fool throws away with ignorance and contempt. And in my professional opinion, 20 years in special forces, two wartime campaigns, a significant amount of time in Iraq and in the autonomous zone in Kurdistan. President Trump and his decision and his method puts him in the latter category.

BALDWIN: The latter category being?

WALKER: Being a fool who throws away his war fighters through ignorance and with contempt.

BALDWIN: Now President Trump would disagree with you. He sees this as a victory. How do you see it? How do you think the Kurds see it?

WALKER: Well, I would say I know how the Kurds see it because I talk with the Kurds, I've worked with the Kurds since my retirement in 2005. The Kurdish are furious. The commander's statement today is beautiful in terms of how the Kurdish mind-set is. He's going to send a message to President Trump that, hey, you did us such a great favor. You really helped us out and we're good with it all. The Kurds are very good at doing that. He knows that he's got to hold on to any kind of good will that he can get from the American government right now. And the Kurdish are already saying, hey, when you come back to us to fight ISIS or to want additional help in this region, a third time, we're not going to be there for you.

[15:35:02]

BALDWIN: Which is also significant whether it's the Kurds or some other future ally of the United States. Let me add this, Greg. The President also said, let someone else fight over this long blood- stained sand. So the sand isn't worth defending, but the oil is? How do you interpret that?

WALKER: Again, I concurred with General Mattes, with General Votel and Admiral McRaven -- who I worked for and who was in charge of care coalition for special operations, wounded, injured and ill. President Trump doesn't have any idea of why we were there and what we were doing and the price that's been paid, and to now try to pawn it off as -- you know, historically they've fought for a long time and now we're going to get out. That's not even what the situation, what the effort was about.

BALDWIN: What was it about? Remind us.

WALKER: Well, we had ISIS take Raqqah and turn Syria into essentially the new caliphate, which was significant. And the fight had to go into Syria, and we engaged the Kurdish to help us, because they'd been helping us and fighting with us since 2003 when they helped us take northern Iraq. The operation that I helped oversee. And --

BALDWIN: So this wasn't about oil? Because, you know, the President wants to keep troops in Syria to protect the oil.

WALKER: That's, again -- that's absurd. We brought the Kurds in to fight ISIS because we didn't want to put American forces on the ground, because we knew the cost would be incredibly high. 11,000 Kurdish and Arab fighters, dead in the SDF to annihilate ISIS would have been 11,000 U.S. That's what the deal was. As far as the oil, again, ridiculous. A, it's not our oil. We played the same game in Iraq when we went in 2003, 2004. It's not our oil. We don't own it. We can't take it.

And I worked with an oil recovery and pipeline prepare folks in 2004 working out of Baghdad with high security protection details. 200 troops to protect the oil in Syria? That's absurd. That's ridiculous. It's another one of these bellicose shallow statements from somebody who made a terrible mistake and now does not know how to get out of it with courage, honor and loyalty.

BALDWIN: Greg Walker, the word I keep hearing from you, absurd. I would love to continue the conversation. Let's have you back. Thank you for your time and your expertise and your dedication to this country. It is truly deeply appreciated. Thank you.

WALKER: (INAUDIBLE).

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Coming up next, former Vice President Joe Biden back on top of the Democratic pack in a new CNN poll. We'll talk about what's behind the jump and whether President Trump's attacks on Biden are actually helping him.

And more on our breaking news, Republican lawmakers currently in a stan standoff in a secure room up on Capitol Hill after they destructed the testimony of an impeachment witness. Still ongoing here, folks. We'll be right back.

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BALDWIN: Former Vice President Joe Biden is back on top of his Democratic rivals with a solidly commanding lead. Take a look at our latest numbers. The latest CNN to 2020 poll of likely Democratic voters showed Biden with a 15-point lead over his closest rival Senator Elizabeth Warren. That is a 10-point jump from last month and stands at Biden's widest margin since he joined the race back in April. And it's a big bounce since last week's CNN debate when Biden lost his front-runner status for the very first time. Add to this this Monmouth University poll that also has him on top in South Carolina, a key primary state. David Chalian is our CNN political director. And David Chalian, how do you explain this?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I mean he never really lost his front-runner status, Brooke. He shares it with Elizabeth Warren. But I don't think Joe Biden has ever sort of slipped from being one of the front-runner in this race. He just got company and Elizabeth Warren felt the heat last week. But what I think we see happening here in this poll, and again, you know these things have margins of errors. So 10 points, I wouldn't -- he is out in front and he's the one with all the movement in our poll since last month. Everyone else moved slightly a point or two.

And I would say that you see his core supporters, his base of support consolidating that support around him. For instance, if you look at the split between white voters and nonwhite voters in our poll -- look at that -- you he has an incredible advantage among nonwhite voters. Among white voters he's splitting pretty evenly. Same thing happens when you look at older voters over 45 versus 45 and under, younger voters. Joe Biden enormous advance with older voters. Same with moderate and conservative Democrats, Brooke. He has key parts of the Democratic Party where he is overwhelming in support.

[15:45:00]

And then the other parts of the party, he may not be winning them, but he's just in a three-way battle with Sanders and Warren. So he gets to really extend his advantage with the places in the party that he's winning by those big margins.

BALDWIN: Do you think adding to all of that that it would be possible that the President talking about him so much, this whole Ukraine scandal is that helping him at all?

CHALIAN: It's such a good question, Brooke. I don't think we fully know the answer to that. The South Carolina poll that was out today had a few questions in there that suggested it is not a net problem for him. Right? But I do think -- my hunch -- and we'll see as other polls come out to see if this is true or not. You have the President of the United States beating up on you every day and beating up on your son and family and your fellow Democratic opponents are embracing you. They're not picking up that line of attack. They're not trying to draw contrast with you on that in any really significant message-driving way.

If you're a Democratic voter, you're going to rally around that guy who's being beat up by President Trump who you don't like. So I think some of this consolidation of support that I'm talking about, it may be happening because he's been in this battle with President Trump.

BALDWIN: You know what they say about A David Chalian hunch. You're often, always right. David Chalian, thank you very much. Good to see you, my friend.

CHALIAN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Breaking news involving the President's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. A federal judge has just ordered the State Department to turn over all communications related to Ukraine including Giuliani's communications with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

[15:50:00]

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BALDWIN: I just wanted to take a minute to talk about lynching. Lynching is a word with a history rooted in pain, despair and brutality particularly for African-Americans in this country. So when President Trump equated the impeachment inquiry against him to a lynching many were quick to denounce him, including the Democratic Presidential front-runner Joe Biden. Biden tweeted.

Impeachment inquiry is not a lynching. And he went on to write, to even think about making this comparison is abhorrent, it is despicable.

But as it turns out Joe Biden actually made a similar comparison back in 1998 right here on CNN describing the impeachment proceedings against[MT1] the then president, Bill Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, THEN VICE PRESIDENT. Even if the President should be impeached, history is going to question whether or not this was just a partisan lynching or whether or not it was something that, in fact, met the standard, the very high bar that was set by the founders as to what constituted an impeachable offense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Biden responded by writing, quote, this wasn't the right word so use and I'm sorry about that. Trump on the other hand chose his words deliberately today in his use of the word lynching and continues to stoke racial divides in this country daily.

Biden wasn't alone. Back in 1998 five House Democrats also compared the Clinton impeachment process to a lynching or a lynch mob. But today this is the focus. We must remember the real victims of lynchings. In the heart of what was once the capital of the confederacy and also the birthplace of America's civil rights movement sits a solemn memorial dedicated to more than 4,400 victims of racial terror lynchings in the South between 1877 and 1950.

The memorial for peace and justice opened just last year in Montgomery, Alabama, to tell the story of this horrific chapter in our nation's history. Among the real victims of lynching, Mary Turner. Who was lynched with her unborn child in Georgia in 1918 for complaining about the lynching of her husband Haze Turner. David Walker, his wife and their four children were lynched in Kentucky in 1908 after Mr. Walker was accused of using inappropriate language with a white woman.

William Stevens and Jefferson Cole were lynched in Texas in 1895 after they refused to abandon their land to white people. And in 1888 seven black people were lynched in Alabama from drinking from a white man's well.

So for politicians, whether it is President Trump or former Vice President Biden or anyone else, before throwing around the word "lynching" so loosely, just remember the real victims of the targeted racial violence carried out by white mobs that was intended to torture and traumatize an entire race of people. Lynching, it has real meaning. And that meaning has nothing to do with politicians facing impeachment.

[15:55:00]

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BALDWIN: Not guilty. That is the plea today from a pair of Rudy Giuliani conduits to Ukraine who were arraigned in federal court on campaign finance. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are accused of funneling foreign money to U.S. campaign coffers and Parnas had this to say outside the courthouse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEV PARNAS, INDICTED GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: Many false things have been said about me and my family in the press and media recently. I look forward to defending myself vigorously in court and I'm certain that in time the truth will be revealed and I'll be vindicated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Both men were indicted on four counts earlier this month after they were arrested at the airport with one-way tickets out of the country. For months they helped Giuliani's effort to compile damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

I'm Brooke Baldwin, thanks so much for being with me. Let's go to Washington. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.

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