Return to Transcripts main page


New Video Shows Scene Where ISIS Leader Died in U.S. Raid; European Union Extends Brexit Deadline to January 31; Key Witness Sues to Avoid Testifying in Impeachment Inquiry; Rep. Katie Hill Resigns Amid Allegations of Affair with Staffer. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 28, 2019 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, October 28. It's 6 a.m. here in New York. And we begin this morning with brand- new video of the scene of the dramatic U.S. military raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The compound where President Trump says al-Baghdadi ultimately blew himself up, it has now been leveled.

You can see right here in this ground video, a burnt-out car and remnants of al-Baghdadi's life inside the compound: clothing, pots, pans, even children's toys.

This footage, shot by Syrian activists, reportedly shows the compound being destroyed after al-Baghdadi died.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump announced Baghdadi's demise with a vivid description, saying the terrorist was whimpering and crying, though there was no audio on the feed.

Democrats praising the operation but criticizing the president for giving the Kremlin advance notice while they were left in the dark.

Hours later, President Trump attended game five of the World Series, where he was greeted by some cheers and some boos. Some in the crowd even chanting "Lock him up."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up!


CAMEROTA: Baghdadi's death is a win, of course, for the Trump administration at a critical time for the president as the impeachment inquiry is accelerating. Six witnesses scheduled to testify this week. We'll see how that goes.

So, we have a lot to cover. Let's begin with CNN's Barbara Starr, live at the Pentagon.

What a weekend, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Alisyn, you know, it is a win for the U.S. military, trying to deliver justice for the families that have suffered so much under Baghdadi.

When the intelligence finally came together late last week, President Trump did make the decision to go ahead and go after the world's most wanted terrorist.


STARR (voice-over): Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, spent years hiding and on the run before U.S. Special Operations forces got him.

Special Forces used the cover of darkness overnight as eight helicopters carrying as many as 100 U.S. troops landed at a compound in northern Syria. They entered after blowing holes on the side of the building, believing the front door might be boobytrapped.

President Trump golfed in the early afternoon of Saturday, getting updates all day before returning to the White House Situation Room at 5 p.m., where the president said he watched the raid as it happened.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't want to say how, but we had absolutely perfect, as though you were watching a movie. It was -- that and the technology there alone is really great.

STARR: The president said the Special Ops teams were met by local gunfire on the ground that was quickly squashed. At least two ISIS fighters were captured, and 11 children taken out of the House. Two of Baghdadi's wives were killed during the raid.

According to the president, Baghdadi was chased into a tunnel inside the compound by military dogs, while bringing three children with him. The tunnel came to a dead end, where he eventually detonated a suicide vest that killed him and the children.

MARK ESPER, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We tried to call him out and asked him to surrender himself. He refused. He went down into a subterranean area and in the process of trying to get him out, he detonated a suicide vest, we believe, and killed himself.

STARR: During the two hours they were on the ground, U.S. forces collected extensive intelligence that must now be analyzed.

TRUMP: We took highly sensitive material and information from the raid, much having to do with ISIS. Origins, future plans, things that we very much want. STARR: Trump said Baghdadi was quickly identified through an on-site

test with lab technicians, using DNA samples the U.S. already had of him.

TRUMP: He will never again harm another innocent man, woman or child. He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place.


STARR: And it is now anticipated, according to U.S. officials, that Baghdadi's remains will be buried at sea, just as Osama bin Laden was. They are not saying whether that has happened yet -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Barbara, thank you very much for explaining how all of that happened.

It's been nearly 24 hours since President Trump announced the death of the world's most wanted terrorist. So what will become of ISIS now, and can the U.S. stop the terror group from a resurgence?

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is like for us in Irbil, Iraq.

What is next, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Such a complicated task ahead for U.S. Special Forces here, even after achieving this, the largest goal they had in the fight against ISIS.

Remember, ISIS will -- had a succession plan already in place. That's likely been put into place now. And we do know from Syrian Kurdish forces, who were the allies of the U.S. in the fight against ISIS for so long, until Turkey invaded and set that alliance back so far. We do know that they say there have been other raids. Just last night, in fact, against parts of Baghdadi's inner circle. Possibly the U.S. acting on the intelligence you heard there Donald Trump said they picked up from that compound.


But one of the things that Donald Trump openly admitted in that speech was that he was able to simultaneously greenlight the Turkish incursion into Syria that damaged that alliance between the Syrian Kurds and the U.S. in the fight against ISIS while, at the same time, being briefed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was increasingly in U.S. Special Forces' crosshairs. Extraordinary that, tactically, he would allow their position on the ground to be eroded so swiftly -- that was the net effect of the Turkish incursion -- while at the same time knowing that key goal was imminently upon them.

What happens now? Well, as we said before, the U.S. have to continue hunting down these ISIS leaders. They are concerned, they say, that there are possibly people they still need to target or would have like to have kept tracks on, possibly, but can't do so because of their eroded position inside of Syria. So they have to continue this mission, with possibly one hand tied

behind their back. They'll be in the south of Syria in some small hundred numbers. Possibly in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan, too, though the government has said here they're only allowed to sort of pass through on the way out.

There are still vital ISIS leaders there to be tracked down. The next phase of that terror group is something people will be deeply concerned about. The question is how well-equipped are the U.S. here tactically to do that, although they have, frankly, pulled off their most complicated challenge whilst busy doing withdrawal instigated by the commander in chief -- John.

BERMAN: Indeed. And Nick, these are crucial days. Thank you for being there in Irbil for us. Appreciate it.

We're getting new details about the compound where al-Baghdadi died. And new details this morning about whether the president's detailed description of the raid was fully accurate. We'll discuss next.



BERMAN: CNN has obtained brand-new video. You're looking at it right now, showing the aftermath of the attack that ultimately led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The compound was leveled, you can see here, by U.S. fighter jets which reportedly fired missiles to put it in pieces there.

Joining us now to discuss this situation, CNN political analyst Margaret Talev. She's the politics and White House reporter for Axios. And CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd. He's a former CIA counterterror official.

And Phil, I want to start with you. You've had 24 hours for the dust to settle, literally, and we just saw the pictures there, as you assess this, you know, what's your takeaway of the intelligence and the planning that went into this?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Awesome. Awesome. I think people step back and look at this and say, hey, we knew where the compound was, so the guys who know how to raid compounds went in. That's not the right way to think about this.

Look at this over weeks or even months. You're looking at the compound, and we know now the president was looking at live videos, so I can talk about it. You're using that video to look at the compound for everything as detailed as patterns of life. When do people go in and out during the day? What kind of vehicles are there? Where are the women and children? Where are the men? You're looking at that over times to see those patterns change. For example, are there signatures for motorcades that suggests when somebody like Baghdadi is going on?

You can use tactical information. People have talked about the Kurds. They don't have to know about the operation. You might -- you might just simply say, hey, do you have somebody who can look at this compound and see what it looks like at the ground level? You might be getting intercepted communications from the compound.

So there's a whole range -- almost like a net over the compound for weeks that allowed you to say not just where the people are but what it looks every day, day in and day out.

CAMEROTA: I was so struck, Margaret. I mean, listening to Phil and just watching it all, you know, unfold, the news coming out yesterday about just how talented our intelligence officers and agents are. I mean, just like good police work when something happens here, it's astounding when you realize all of the resources, all of the energy that they've been putting in while we didn't know all of this was happening for months and so, yesterday, at least, President Trump liked his intelligence agencies.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes, and Alisyn, you know, I think it's a really important point. Because there are two groups that really helped make sure that this could happen, and one is the CIA and intelligence officials in the U.S. And the other are the Kurds and the president has been so dubious publicly about whether he can trust the intelligence agencies, whether he trusts their intelligence.

And we all -- we all know the fate of the Kurds, and so on the one hand, this is clearly both a national security victory for the Special Operations forces and a political victory for the president. But on the other hand, it does sort of underscore or highlight what's in conflict here because, of course, the president has been trying to get out of Syria and has been questioning the impact of the intelligence forces.

So I think, kind of underneath the surface, there are some real questions about whether his policies and approaches -- you know, going forward, how that would -- how the record of what's just happened here would match with -- with his approach.

BERMAN: You know, Phil, no question that the death of Baghdadi is a big deal. On the other hand, you've been walking through the studio this morning. Given your lifetime fighting terror, warning everybody, this isn't over, this is a long slog. And given that, what do you make of the president's choice of language yesterday: the whimpering, the cowering, especially given that it's not clear that that would have been visible -- it certainly doesn't seem like it would have been visible -- on the video to begin with?

MUDD: This makes me uncomfortable. The same feeling I had when I was walking around D.C. after the killing of bin Laden. I mean, there's an upper level on this you do not celebrate death. I don't care if it's a terrorist. I don't care if it's someone you hate. A human being has died. We don't celebrate that.

The other thing, in terms of language, you don't taunt an adversary. You know, we -- on Sunday afternoons in football, you tell -- you tell the guys in locker room don't give them stuff to put on the bulletin board. You don't use that language, which will echo around the Middle East about things like dogs and whimpering, because there are still a lot of people who follow this movement who are going to say, you talk about us like that, we're coming at you. I would not use that, and I find it -- it's embarrassing.

BERMAN: Are you surprised ISIS has been quiet so far?

MUDD: No, partly -- They haven't had that much time to react. But also, if you look at the degradation over time of their safe haven, remarkable degradation, I mean, Alisyn seemed surprised that intelligence officials know what they're doing. That was vaguely --

CAMEROTA: No, no, no. No, no, no, no. I'm always impressed.

MUDD: No, I understood.

CAMEROTA: I'm always impressed.

MUDD: I understood the mockery.

CAMEROTA: And what I -- no, no, no. I'm not mocking. I'm saying that, despite being criticized, despite being, you know, kind of undercut at times by the president --

MUDD: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- they just keep trudging ahead.

MUDD: There's -- there's a really important point let me make quickly.

First, is when you have especially -- I managed a lot of young people who are face to face sort of theoretically with an adversary, that is a motivator. I don't care what the president says. If you're hunting Baghdadi, and you're 26 years old, you're hunting.

The other thing, fascinating, there's a new piece of intelligence that people don't understand after -- especially after 9/11. It's called targeting. That is how do you find not missiles, not nukes, not what's going on in the Kremlin, a human being halfway around the world? How do you locate Alisyn Camerota in real time?

CAMEROTA: Who keeps moving?

MUDD: That's right.

CAMEROTA: That is incredible that they did that.

Phil, thank you very much for all of the expertise.

Margaret, thank you very much.

All right. A key witness who listened in on that phone call between President Trump and Ukraine's president is scheduled to testify today. But it is unclear whether he will show up. More on the impeachment inquiry next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BERMAN: Breaking news, the European Union has agreed to a new delay, giving the United Kingdom more time to negotiate its divorce from the E.U., three days before the U.K. was due to leave the European Union.

The United Kingdom now has until the end of January to find a solution. The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, said he whether die in a ditch rather than asking for more time, but he was forced to do so by lawmakers.

CAMEROTA: About three hours from now, a key witness in the Trump impeachment inquiry is scheduled to testify behind closed doors. Trump deputy national security advisor Charles Kupperman, who listened in on that Ukraine phone call on July 25, is asking a federal judge to decide whether he must testify before House investigators.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live for us on Capitol Hill with more. So he doesn't want to, but a judge may decide he has to today?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. We'll find out shortly. But this impeachment inquiry covered through the weekend. I covered a rare Saturday session, where they had a witness behind closed doors. And there is real doubt, Alisyn, this morning whether or not Charles Kupperman is going to show.

Because as you mentioned, he is now putting this in the hands of a federal judge to decide whether or not he'll be compelled to testify today.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): House Democrats threatening to hold former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman in contempt of Congress if he does not obey a subpoena to appear. But his testimony remains uncertain after he filed a lawsuit asking a judge to rule whether he is obliged to appear for the deposition.

The White House sent Kupperman a letter Friday, directing him not to comply, maintaining that he would be protected by constitutional immunity. In a letter to Kupperman, the three Democrats overseeing the inquiry saying the lawsuit is lacking in legal merit and an obvious and desperate tactic by the president to delay and obstruct the lawful constitutional functions of Congress.

Kupperman was listening in on the July 25 phone call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, where President Trump repeatedly pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

Meanwhile, Kupperman's former boss, national security advisor John Bolton, could be heading to Capitol Hill soon.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): They're going to fight us having John Bolton, for example. John Bolton is a very important witness. He has very relevant information, and we do want him to come in and testify.

MALVEAUX: This as E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland clarifies reports of his congressional testimony earlier this month. His attorney telling "The Wall Street Journal" Sondland did think the efforts by the administration to press Ukraine "to open investigations in exchange for a White House meeting with Ukraine's president amounted to a quid pro quo."

REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D-MA): I'm not allowed to speak to the substance of the testimony, but I would not -- I would not dispute what -- what -- what the attorney is saying.

MALVEAUX: Vice President Mike Pence refusing to say if he was aware of the stipulations Sondland and U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor outlined in their testimony.

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I know is that the transcript of the president's call with President Zelensky shows that there was no quid pro quo. He did nothing wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But were you aware of that deal that they are giving details of, and sworn under oath, existed?

PENCE: I would also say that, in all of my interactions with President Zelensky, we focused entirely on President Zelensky's agenda.



MALVEAUX: So if the federal judge rules that Kupperman is not required to testify, it could give the Trump administration a powerful tool to either impede or slow down the investigation. But House Democrats are insisting that this just builds up the evidence that the president is trying to obstruct Congress, and they will use it to their advantage.

But in the meantime, it is going to be a very busy week here on Capitol Hill. At least six other witnesses scheduled to testify, John.

BERMAN: A busy week but uncertainty. We still just don't know what will happen with Kupperman. We're watching that throughout the morning. Suzanne, thank you very much.

Breaking overnight, freshman Democrat Katie Hill resigned from Congress days after she acknowledged she had an inappropriate relationship with a campaign staffer before taking office.

Kyung Lah is live in Los Angeles with the breaking details. We've been following this for some time, Kyung. What finally pushed Katie Hill over the edge?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it was an excruciating choice and one she did not want to make. But ultimately, it was the terror of the unknown, both for her personally and for the voters of her district that pushed her to make this decision.


REP. KATIE HILL (D-CA): Hi. How are you?

LAH (voice-over): This was Katie Hill last January.

(on camera): From congresswoman-elect to dropping the "elect."

HILL: I guess so.

LAH: How does it feel?

HILL: It feels good. Excited to get to work, for sure.

LAH: Moments later, she was sworn into Congress. No one had any idea her promising tenure would be so brief. In a letter from her congressional office, Representative Hill announced her resignation, writing, "This is what needs to happen so that the good people who supported me will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives."

Hill's estranged husband is the man standing next to her. He has not replied to repeated requests from CNN. But Hill says he is part of a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation. "Having private photos of personal moments weaponized against me has been an appalling invasion of my privacy. As long as I'm in Congress, we'll live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt."

Representative Hill is referring to private photos that were leaked and published online of her and a female campaign staffer. Hill has admitted to an intimate relationship with the campaign staffer, apologizing, calling it inappropriate.

But she denies a separate charge, an alleged relationship with her male congressional staffer, a relationship between members of Congress and their staff violates House ethics rules.

Some Democrats in Hill's district say personal issues don't matter in the Trump era.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd rather have someone "F" something than rather "F" our country.

LAH: But politically, this may matter in the swing district.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would we lose the seat to the Republicans again. I'm not saying we would. Hopefully not. But it just doesn't help.


LAH: Now, per California law, the governor does have two weeks to declare a special election, a date for the special election. As far as Katie Hill, she's working with authorities to try to bring to justice the people who are distributing theses photos, people or person. And one other thing, Alisyn. I did speak to a number of people about

this. There are, by some counts, hundreds of private images of Hill floating out there. I spoke to one GOP operative who personally says he has dozens and that they simply have not been released yet.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. This era of cell phones is complicated. Kyung, thank you very much for all of your reporting on this.

The White House is fighting back after President Trump's former chief of staff says he warned the president that he'd be impeached if he hired a "yes man" to take the place of John Kelly. That story, next.