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President Trump Announces ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Is Dead; CA Governor Declares Statewide Emergency As Extreme Winds Intensify Wildfires; Trump Leaves Key Democrats In The Dark About Baghdadi Raid; Graham: Trump's Worst Critics Should Congratulate Him; Source: Reeker Was Unaware Of Push For Ukraine Investigations; Trump To Attend World Series Game But Won't Throw First Pitch. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired October 27, 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.
This breaking news on the fate of the man who led one of the most feared and brutal terror organizations in the world, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. military raid Saturday in northwestern Syria. U.S. Special Forces using the cover of night after tracking him down at a secret compound near the border with Turkey. The White House releasing this photo showing a moment inside the Situation Room during the raid. Al-Baghdadi's death is being described as a devastating blow to ISIS and it marks the end of a years long manhunt.
This morning, President Trump went to explicit details about al- Baghdadi's final moments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way. The compound had been cleared by this time with people either surrendering or being shot and killed. He was a sick and depraved man. And now he's gone.
Baghdadi was vicious and violent, and he died in a vicious and violent way as a coward, running and crying. This raid was impeccable and could only have taken place with the acknowledgment and help of certain other nations and people. I want to thank the nations of Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, and I also want to thank the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, let's begin with CNN Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr. Barbara, a lot to dig into here. Also Rear Admiral John Kirby with us, he's our CNN Military and Diplomatic Analyst. So Barbara, let me go to you first. What are we learning about how this raid was orchestrated, how it was carried out?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it looks like the intelligence finally came together in the last couple of weeks, and they used U.S. Army largely Special Forces, other Special Forces unit, some of the most highly trained units to carry out this very critical raid, a very dangerous raid. It was deep into a portion of Syria where the U.S. generally, even before the withdrawal, had not operated. By all accounts, about 100 troops coming in by helicopters in the cover of night and basically descending on this compound.
As the President says, Baghdadi apparently called out, refused to surrender and ran into a tunnel dragging three children with him, detonating his suicide vest and all of them died. There are, according to the President, detainees that the U.S. troops there took into custody. And recover of intelligence. So now a key question will be, what kind of information can they get out of interrogating the people they took, what kind of intelligence were they able to get?
On these raids, they typically look for computers, laptops, cell phones, any documents, anything that would indicate where Baghdadi and his associates, if you will, had recently been, who they talked to, what kind of records there may be, who was in their cell phone. This may provide additional hint as they look to go after other elements of ISIS still there. Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right. And, Admiral Kirby, you know, this is a covert operation. How do you maintain that kind of secrecy when you have, as we heard the President say, you know, so many either involved or informed, whether it be the, you know, Syrian, Kurds, Russia, Turkey, Syria or even Iraq?
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Well, first you keep the circle of people that are informed about the planning of it to a very, very small number. And you heard the President talk about that today, acknowledging that it was a small number. Now, that was the experience I saw during the bin Laden raid back in 2011. Only a very, very small number of people were aware of that as it was being planned and the intelligence was being firmed up.
Then as you get close to the execution, you have to start, you know, allowing for a little bit wider circle because you have to deal with the actual execution of it, in this case air space concerns and then of course in the aftermath in terms of explaining it.
I don't think that -- My guess would be they didn't inform Russia or Turkey, you know, as it was getting ready to be launched. Probably just before the aircraft entered spaces that they needed to enter, is my guess, they would have delayed that to a maximum degree again to preserve secrecy.
WHITFIELD: Yes. The President did say there was some informing of Russia in that air space --
KIRBY: Right. WHITFIELD: -- issue, in fact, it was a factor. So then Admiral that too, the President said there really was no correlation between the locating of al-Bakr and this U.S. troop pullout of Syria. No real correlation here, but do you see that in some way there was an assist by U.S. troops being pulled out and then bringing in Special Forces in for this operation?
KIRBY: Yes. I don't know for sure, Fred. I wouldn't be surprised if we find out that the President's abrupt decision to withdraw forces from Syria might have thrown into some disarray or confusion the planning that went into getting al-Baghdadi. This was likely a months-long process, you know, from working on intelligence and monitoring his movements through various means of surveillance and reconnaissance. So I think it took a long time to get here.
And I suspect that we'll find out that his abrupt decision may have thrown that process a little bit off dead center here. That said, I think, you know, operationally clearly this was a success, but I do think it's important to remember that in some parts it was a success driven by the partnership that we have with the Kurds and the kind of intelligence on the ground that they have been able to give us. And that partnership now is very much in jeopardy because of a strategic decision that the President has made to withdraw from the northern part of Syria.
WHITFIELD: And Barbara, what now? What's next?
STARR: Well, I think a lot of people are looking toward Russia and Russia's growing involvement in this area, especially as U.S. troops have withdrawn. Russia's influence really in the last couple of weeks perhaps has really grown as the President has stepped back from U.S. involvement in Syria. The Russians have agreements with the Syrian regime with the Turks. They will be seeking to have some kind of accommodation.
And, you know, the President says U.S. troops will be guarding those oil fields in eastern Syria, but it's still a very big question if the Syrian regime, if the Russians, if Iranian-backed militias move into those oil field areas and you still have really relatively small number of U.S. troops. Without the massive support structure, what will they do? What will their orders be? Russia is giving no indication it's pulling back on its influence in Syria.
WHITFIELD: All right, all of this following the death of Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi. Thank you so much, Barbara Starr and Admiral John Kirby. Appreciate it.
All right, now, we're getting our first look at the aftermath of the raid that killed al-Baghdadi. CNN Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Iraq for us. What are you learning?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is an extraordinary difficult part of the world, frankly, to get into this area of Idlib province. So close to the Turkish border yet a stronghold of al-Qaeda where western intelligence official say possibly the next wave of radicalism, of Islamism, of Jihadists is already growing and may emanate as a threat to the west from. We have images of the aftermath of that scene, and it does show a remote area and one, frankly, obliterated, it seems, by this raid.
WALSH (voice-over): It was the hardest of places to get into and hardest to guess they'd be hiding in. This is all that's left of where the world's most wanted man hid, possibly for weeks. Much of intelligence value whisked away, flattened to rubble of repeated airstrikes. Cleared up it seems by the Islamists who control the area.
We obtained these images from a local cameraman able to function in a region where al-Qaeda is strong but elsewhere civilians abound too often for life to be normal. Two of the dead here collected and taken away.
Shells littered the area perhaps from the eight helicopters that arrived here in the dead of night before U.S. commanders blew holes through the compound walls. Achmed (ph) was woken about just before 11:00 p.m. local time and was shocked to see helicopters hovering about 150 meters up. Ninety minutes later, a blast follows. Doors and windows of houses as far as 1 kilometer away were completely shattered, he said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): We waited until sunrise before we came here and we saw the bodies of the martyrs. Women and children body parts, about six to seven dead.
In the morning, we heard that Baghdadi was here, but people living here thought displaced people from Aleppo lived in the house working in the catalone (ph) grain trade. No one knows, he said, exactly what happens.
WALSH (voice-over): Somewhere below this dust is the tunnel where President Trump said Baghdadi blew himself up, killing his three children with him. But by dawn, there was so little left to pick over here, Baghdadi's sudden end is fleeting as his appearances in the world he cursed with radicalized violence.
WALSH: Now we learned from President Trump that actually some children from inside that compound were left possibly with locals there, too. It would be interesting to learn more about exactly the makeup of the family where Baghdadi was hiding out. But also, too, in a key question who was sheltering him. Which radical group possibly in that area was providing the infrastructure to keep him hidden? That's a vital question to ask in terms of who they may have been supported by and how come they were so close to Turkey's southern border, yet so far off NATO's radar, it seems Turkey being a NATO member.
WHITFIELD: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much. All right, the breaking news this hour, the leader of ISIS killed. President Trump detailing the graphic nature of the operation. Did he reveal too much about U.S. National Intelligence? CNN special coverage of this breaking news continues next.
WHITFIELD: All right, back to our breaking news. President Trump announces that U.S. forces led a raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The raid taking place in northwestern Syria on Saturday.
And during a statement this morning, President Trump revealed several graphic details about what led to al-Baghdadi's death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast. The tunnel had caved in on it in addition. But test results gave certain, immediate and totally positive identification. It was him. The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, let's turn now to CNN's Jeremy Diamond live at the White House for us. So Jeremy, the President giving a play by play of the operation. Why did he feel it was important to do that?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He very much did exactly that, Fredricka. A play by play is what we saw from the President today as he described how this raid went about. He described the operational details as well, including the number of helicopters that were used, the flight time that it took those helicopters to get to Baghdadi's compounds.
Even pointing out the Special Forces operators breached walls of this compound instead of using the doors which he said were booby trapped. That has raised concerns among some National Security officials, former National Security officials who are saying that perhaps the President revealed too much. But one of the other things that the President kept coming back to was talking in graphic detail really about how exactly Baghdadi died. Listen to how he described that just one of those moments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He died like a dog, he died like a coward. He was whimpering, screaming and crying. And frankly, I think it's something that should be brought out so that his followers and all of these young kids that want to leave various countries, including the United States, they should see how he died. He didn't die a hero, he died a coward. Crying, whimpering, screaming and bringing three kids with him to die. A certain death. (END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: Now, Fredricka, there is no indication that the U.S. is actually going to show that video, release it to the public. But this is part of the President's attempts here clearly to try and go after the image of some of these terrorist leaders who have been able to inspire others to act in ISIS's name. For example, you saw the President repeatedly describing Baghdadi as a coward, as a thug, and as someone he clearly hear, who in his final moments, was whimpering, as the President said. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thank you so much.
I want to bring in now former CIA Operative and CNN Intelligence and Security Analyst Bob Baer. Also with us, CNN Military Analyst and Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. Good to see you both. All right, Bob, you first. The President went into pretty detail about, you know, how this raid was accomplished, the kinds of apparatus and resources used, helicopters, how long it took, you know, breaching walls as Jeremy said. What struck you as -- an information enough, too much information?
ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I'm sure he was counseled on this. This happened after the bin Laden raid as well in Abbottabad where they portrayed bin Laden as essentially a coward, hiding behind women, if you remember that. So this is the playbook.
Now, as for breaching the wall, that's a bit odd. I can tell you from breaching that normally everybody inside the other side of the wall dies in an explosion like that. When you come through a door in a combat entry, you can get in and secure the place without killing everybody. Normally breaching with explosives kills everybody.
And as for wearing a suicide vest, I'm sure the President was hold to say that but it's unlikely that anybody would wear one of these all the time because they are so -- they go off very easily. I find that difficult to believe.
So, like any of these raids, there's a lot of disinformation come out and the question is really what did Turkey do. If you look at the map insert link (ph), the base is right there. If I were in the military, I would want to have some backup in that base, but maybe the Turks said, don't go public with that. But he did acknowledged Turkish, you know, help on this. And that was their area, by the way. For all we know, they provided the key intelligence. This is the kind of thing we're just can't wait may be years for the details to come out.
WHITFIELD: And General, you know, an operation like this does take an incredible level of planning and precision, so can you, kind of in a nutshell explain here, how do Special Forces plan something like this? And especially the time when we're talking about U.S. troops who are being moved out of the area?
MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You know, well, for having blessed and approved target packages for high value targets, certainly not as high value a strategic target as Baghdadi was.
What I would say is it takes a long time to put something like this together, it takes a great deal of intelligence, not only from human sources, hument (ph) as we call it. But also signals intelligence nascent (ph) the ability to track different things over a long period of time to get patterns of life and things like that. There are reports now that the initial indicators came from several people within Iraqi security forces and Kurdish forces as long ago as last summer in terms of patterns of life Baghdadi in this particular town.
I'd have to disagree a little bit with what Bob said. You know, the breaching of a wall in a compound like this is not abnormal. The fact that a high value target wears a suicide vest is also not abnormal. They do go off sometimes frequently when the warrior (ph) doesn't want them too. But my experience has been on several high value targets that you see a lot of al-Qaeda and in this case, ISIS wearing those vests all the time specially when they're under threat for exactly the purposes that occurred last night.
But going back to the planning, it takes a long time. Not just the concept of gathering the intelligence and getting things together but also the rehearsals in this case by Delta Force as part of a special operations command. This kind of a mission takes a lot of energy and a lot of effort.
WHITFIELD: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, Bob Baer, thanks to both of you. We really appreciate your expertise.
We'll have more on this breaking news straight ahead. But first, when we come back, in California, nearly 200,000 were under mandatory evacuation orders there as the governor issues a statewide state of emergency. Winds up to 80 miles an hour threatened to push devastating wildfires into new areas. And CNN is on the scene, next.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. We're also following breaking news out of California today where the governor has declared a statewide emergency as winds tapping 80 miles an hour turning fire conditions from bad to worse across the state. These pictures are from just north of San Francisco in Vallejo where Interstate 80 was shutdown in the campus of the California State University Maritime Academy was forced to evacuate.
This picture of flames and smoke on the side of the road, this was captured north of Santa Rosa. Fortunately, there is help on the way. Officials in Oregon say they are sending 15 strike teams to assist.
CNN Correspondent Lucy Kafanov joining us right now. Lucy, describe the conditions where you are.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred, those Oregon teams on the way, we've also seen national guard volunteers manning certain checkpoints here, but it's been a terrifying night for residents in northern California and a devastating morning. You can see behind me, very little left of this farm. We've been given permission by the owner of this ranch to film here, to spend some time here.
And I want to show you a look around. This barn, the outside is still standing. Inside, there are still fires burning. It's quite dangerous to be too close to there so we're sticking to the outside. And over here you can see just how little is left after those fires raged through the night, picking up at around 2:00 a.m., picking at around 4:00 a.m., wind gusts up to 80 miles per hour and that is what created these unpredictable dangerous conditions that spread that fire so rapidly.
And I want to show you also behind us, the family who lived here survived. Their livestock still in the field. You can see the cows, they're standing around particularly terrified. They had a very difficult evening and they have been breathing in the smoke and the fumes, the same thing that the residents here are breathing as well.
It has been a very devastating and difficult 24 hours for the residents here. And officials say for another 24 hours, they're expecting what they called red flag conditions to stay in effect until basically 11:00 a.m. local time on Monday, and that means very low humidity, high risks of high winds, and that could spread the fire. Now they say they have a pretty good idea about which direction the fire is heading in right now, but the problem is as those embers blow out of control, as little sparks start, new fires can start, and that is an incredibly dangerous condition and incredibly dangerous situation for the people here.
So they have as many resources as they can get. The governor, as you mention, declaring that state of emergency, but a lot of concern here. We are not out of the clear at all for the next 24 hours.
WHITFIELD: Terrible. All right, Lucy Kafanov, thank you so much.
Still ahead, the President expressing a specific political calculation when striking down the ISIS leader. Why he decided not to involve key members of Congress? CNN's special coverage of this breaking news continues next.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. It was a surprise mission, all right. Not even Members of Congress knew about the Saturday night operation to get ISIS leader al-Baghdadi, who killed himself. Democratic Leaderships say they knew nothing about the mission, before or even immediately after it was announced. In fact, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he only found out about al-Baghdadi's death after hearing it on television.
Joining me now to discuss is Ana Kasparian, Host and Producer of The Young Turks, also with me is Doug Heye, former Communications Director for the RNC. Good to see both of you.
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. So Doug, you first, you know, how does it look that Trump would say in this morning's announcement that he alerted Russia but not Members of Congress about the raid?
HEYE: Yes, it doesn't look good. And I tell you, I used to work for Richard Burr, the former -- or sorry -- the current Senate Intel Committee Chair. I know if this were something where a Democratic President was withholding information from him, he would be very angry. I think Democrats have a right to be angry.
And also this ties into Trump politically. He certainly wanted to withhold information from Democrats because he can say he doesn't trust them to hold the information. But I would counter that the reality is he would calls Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and other Democrats to have to give him credit where they probably wouldn't won't due so politically. Pete Buttigieg today tweeted that everybody who's involved in this should get the credit. That certainly involves the President. I think he should have allowed that to happen.
WHITFIELD: And then, Ana, again we're told that Trump did give some GOP lawmakers some sort of heads up that, you know, there were some good news it was coming. And if this turns out to be, you know, a partisan swipe against Democrats to keep them in the dark, how potentially problematic will that be for the President?
ANA KASPARIAN, HOST & PRODUCER, THE YOUNG TURKS: Well, I don't know how problematic it's going to be for the President, but I do think it's problematic overall, and it's also indicative of how Donald Trump handles foreign policy issues to begin with. His decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria was something that he did unilaterally without speaking to the Pentagon. And the reasoning he gave in the most recent example regarding Baghdadi's death was, well, there's an issue with leaks, I don't want to deal with the leakers.
KASPARIAN: Well, there are a lot of leaks coming from your administration, so I don't really buy that argument.
He's just very distrusting toward people that he's supposed to be working with and he really can't be making these decisions unilaterally. He needs to be able to speak to lawmakers and give them the proper warnings before he moves forward with his plans.
WHITFIELD: And then Doug, listen to what Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters at the White House earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I want to compliment the President for coming up with a model in Syria that we probably should have done in Iraq. This is a game changer with the killing of Baghdadi. This is a moment where we should all be proud of our American military and our intelligence community. This is a moment where President Trump's worst critics should say, well done, Mr. President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Doug, would this potentially mend some of those cracks within the GOP that were revealed just prior to this raid?
HEYE: Well I think temporarily it might, but what we saw over the past couple weeks was that real cracks were exposed and those cracks don't completely go away, because once you lose trust in something you never fully gain it back. But ultimately I would agree wholeheartedly with Lindsey Graham's last point.
You know, Democrats should give credit to the President for this just as Republican should have and, by in large, did give President to -- or a credit to President Obama when we captured Osama bin Laden. This is a good day for the country. We should recognize it, and the President and the administration should act in a way that helps them get the credit that they deserve.
WHITFIELD: And there was a lot of credit that is being, you know, dispense on the President. I mean, you're seeing tweets from a number of the Democratic presidential candidates who were saying, you know, job well done, you know, to the U.S. military, to the, you know, the operation, and most in agreement that, you know, al-Baghdadi needed to have been, you know, taken care of, so to speak. But, Ana, how do you see it in terms of what Lindsey Graham said, that this really ought to inspire critics, some of his worst critics to now say, well done, Mr. President?
KASPARIAN: Well, I think that while this is a victory, it's much more difficult to combat an ideology, and simply killing the leader of this particular terrorist organization doesn't necessarily mean that we're no longer going to have issues with ISIS. So that's point number one. And the wording that Lindsey Graham used was really fascinating, because he made it appear as though there has been a victory against ISIS.
WHITFIELD: You mean, when he said it's a game changer?
KASPARIAN: Exactly. When he says it's a game changer. And the reason why I mention this is because, you know, he's very hawkish when it comes to our operations abroad, military intervention abroad. So does this mean that we don't need to worry about ISIS anymore? He needs to be very careful and measured in the language he uses. While I do agree that it's a victory, I don't agree that this is a game changer. I think we're still going to have issues with terrorist organizations abroad.
WHITFIELD: Ana Kasperian, Doug Heye, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
HEYE: Thank you. KASPERIAN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, as I mentioned, you know, many of the 2020 presidential candidates are weighing in on ISIS leader al-Baghdadi's death. Vice President Joe Biden issued this statement. I give you a litany of all the responses. "I congratulate our special forces, our intelligence community and all our brave military professionals on delivering justice to the terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It is thanks to their courage and relentless determination to carry out their mission that ISIS has suffered a vital loss."
Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeting this, "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi led a campaign of mass violence and terror that devastated the region and threatened the world. His death is a setback for ISIS and a victory for justice. I am grateful for the skill and courage of our special operations and intelligence professionals". Baghdadi's death closes one chapter, but it is not the end of our fight against terrorism".
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders also praising the Special Forces this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no question that the demise of Baghdadi is a very important milestone in terms of our fight against ISIS, and all credit goes to our special forces, to our intelligence community.
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a real blow against ISIS and a positive step in the fight against stateless terrorism, and credit should go to all who were involved. And I think it's an example of what our special operations and intelligence personnel are capable of around the world.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, my understanding interesting enough is that that mission was accomplished with informations supplied by the Kurds. As we know, Trump has turned his back and betrayed the Kurds, something that I think that will have a negative impact not only in that region of the world but in terms of our relationship with allies from one end of this planet to other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: More in our breaking news in a moment.
Coming up next, there is also this. The impeachment inquiry, it goes on, and another big week of testimony.
Why Trump's former National Security Adviser John Bolton is now possibly a key figure Democrats want to hear from.
WHITFIELD: All right, Democrats are gearing up for another busy week of testimony in the impeachment inquiry. House Democrats are threatening to hold Charles Kupperman in contempt after the former Deputy National Security Adviser filed a lawsuit asking a judge to decide whether he is obliged to testify. He is one of several diplomats scheduled to give depositions this week.
House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff insists that Democrats are making, quote, rapid progress in the impeachment inquiry. And sources tell CNN that Acting Assistant Secretary Of State, Philip Reeker, testified on Saturday that he did not find out there was a push by the Trump administration for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into Joe Biden and his son until the whistleblower complaint went public. Some Republicans are downplaying Reeker's testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SCOTT PERRY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, it's the same old situation, quite honestly. I haven't heard anything that has been earth shattering or really kind of anything different than what we've heard over and over again.
So we're just going through it methodically and see if there is anything different. But there's no difference in process and there's been no earth-shattering revelations or otherwise as far as I can tell so far today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, with me now, Shan Wu, he is a former Federal Prosecutor and a CNN Legal Analyst. Good to see you, Shan.
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good to see you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: So as it pertains to Reeker's testimony yesterday, and of course, we don't know all the details because all of these depositions have been behind closed doors, and perhaps, you know, if not for an open-ending statement, we have very little knowledge of what's being said. But how might his testimony impact the overall approach to this impeachment inquiry?
WU: Well, I think what's important about this testimony is it's indicating that someone in his position is saying that they were deliberately kept in the dark. And it really goes this idea that there has been this very deliberate cover-up, and not even a cover-up after the fact, Fred, it's right from the start they wanted to keep this particularly strategy that Trump was seeking the Ukrainians' help. Giuliani is doing the shadow diplomacy. They want to keep all that in the dark and they want to keep people out of the loop who might think that this was not such a good idea.
WHITFIELD: A federal judge weighed in on Friday saying, you know, this process is legit, you know, House members who are requesting information should be able to receive it, and that any of the grand jury notes from the Special Counsel's probe should be provided. Explain how this process, this approach to the process, you know, is legit and that all of the information does not have to be made public or does not have to have the same kind of transparency that perhaps one would if there were a final vote from the House.
WU: So the GOP is trying to attack the process, saying that, for example, these depositions are very improper because they are behind closed doors. They've also claimed that it's not really a proper process because there hasn't been a full House vote on the impeachment inquiry. So Judge Howell dismissed that. She said that this is a legitimate impeachment inquiry. They don't need to have the House vote.
And also, with regard to the depositions being in private, I think it's important for us all to remember that all depositions done to be in private. They're not --
WU: -- done in public. And here, the Democrats need to conduct things in private because they don't have the benefit of a Special Counsel like in Nixon or in Clinton that's been working on this secretly the way they normally work on investigations. You don't do them in broad daylight. So the Mueller report was not specifically on Ukraine obviously, but to extent it has relevant materials. There's no reason why they shouldn't be made public at this point. And that's the other part of the ruling allowing those materials now to be turned over. There may be very helpful information in those materials for impeachment inquiry as well.
WHITFIELD: Former National Security Adviser John Bolton's attorneys are in talks now about, you know, whether he will possibly testify. Can there be conditions attached to his testimony?
WU: Absolutely. In fact, the traditional method of witnesses appearing before Congress or disagreements between the executive branch and Congress is to negotiate, talk it out, figure out the conditions. So it wouldn't be unusual to figure out what conditions Bolton may want, and that would be the norm.
What's not the norm anymore is this very extreme position the Trump administration has taken which is absolutely no one is coming in, there's some immunity, people can't justify it at all. That's forcing people to have to go to court, force the Democrats to go to court, or force witnesses to go to court. And in the long run, that's not a very good idea because we're all going to have to live with those court decisions for a long time to come, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Shan Wu, always good to see you. Thank you so much for coming in this Sunday.
WU: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, another presidential tradition? Broken. Why Trump won't be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Game 5 of the World Series tonight.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:52:47]
WHITFIELD: All right. President Trump says he will go to tonight's Game 5 of the World Series in Washington D.C., but he won't be throwing out the first pitch, breaking yet another presidential tradition.
Here's CNN's Chris Cillizza.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE (voice- over): Presidential politics and baseball, two of the great American traditions and yes, they do often commingle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, it's a single.
CILLIZZA (voice-over): Dating all the way back to 1910 when William Howard Taft, yes, he of the rotund girth was the first President to throw out a first pitch. This was on opening day in the 1910 season. Now, it was five years later when Woodrow Wilson became the first President to throw out a fist pitch in a World Series game and presidents throughout the time between then and now have largely kept up that tradition. Not always at the World Series but certainly at some time during the season.
Donald Trump, yes, he is different than his predecessors in lots of ways including this one. Trump plans to attend Game 5 in Washington, the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, but will not be throwing out the first pitch at the first game, by the way, in major league baseball that he has attended as President.
(on-camera): Why? Well, Trump stated reason is that he would look too bulky and heavy in the bullet proof vest that presidents are required to wear when doing this sort of thing. Another reason, might be that Donald Trump wouldn't be getting the reception he would want from the D.C. crowd. D.C. isn't exactly a swing state. It's quite a Democratic place and Donald Trump would likely to be booed and loudly.
(voice-over): Now, the most memorable first pitch and one that would be diametrically opposed to the reception Donald Trump would likely get came six weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
George W. Bush in a World Series game between the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks strode to the mound and delivered a strike to uproarious applause from the crowd.
CILLIZZA: It wound up being a symbol of toughness, a symbol of fortitude, a symbol that we have unbowed and unbroken and it was one of the most memorable moments of George W. Bush's eight years in office. Donald Trump unlikely to have a moment like that takes a pass on trying to throw a strike. Back to you.
WHITFIELD: Chris Cillizza, thank you so much.
More on our breaking news straight ahead, President Trump announcing the death of a key ISIS leader, and singles out countries including Russia for helping in the raid to take out al-Baghdadi. But Russia firing back with a healthy dose of skepticism? We're live on this breaking news after this.
WHITFIELD: Hello everyone and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Fredricka Whitfield at CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta.
And we begin with breaking news now on the fate of the man who led one of the most feared and brutal terror organizations in the world, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. military raid Saturday in northwestern Syria. U.S. Special Forces using the cover of night after tracking him down at a secret compound near the border with Turkey.