Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
House Dems Release Text Of Impeachment Resolution; Top WH Ukraine Expert "Concerned, Worried" By Trump's Call; Shouting Erupts As Dems Accuse GOP Of Trying To Out Whistleblower; White House Blasts "Sham" Impeachment Resolution; New CNN NH Poll: Sanders And Warren On Top; Twenty-Six Million Facing Dangerous Fire Conditions; North Korea Rejects South's Offer Of Talks On Resort. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 29, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thank you so much for watching, we'll see you tomorrow.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, Impeachment resolution. House Democrats release the text of their plan to make their investigation of President Trump public. And the top White House Ukraine expert testifies he was so troubled by President Trump's call with Ukraine's President that he reported it to a superior.
Unpatriotic action. Speaker Nancy Pelosi slams House Republicans as Democrats accuse them of trying to expose the whistle-blower whose complaint about the President's Ukraine call sparked the impeachment inquiry. This hour, new details on the partisan shouting match that interrupted today's testimony.
Silly games. In a rare interview, the President's adviser and son-in- law, Jared Kushner, dismisses the Democrats' investigation of Mr. Trump and takes a direct swipe at Joe Biden with Kushner claiming he spent years, "Cleaning up the messes Biden left."
And resort rejection. The Kim Jong-un regime turns down South Korea's offer of face-to-face talks on how to fix up a dilapidated North Korea resort whose condition outraged the dictator. And tonight, a new threat from the regime to the U.S. warning of imminent hostilities unless there is progress installed in denuclearization talks.
I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're following breaking news. House Democrats have just released the text of the resolution detailing the next steps in the impeachment inquiry as it moves into the open from behind closed doors. A vote on that is expected Thursday.
And this hour, testimony by the top White House Ukraine expert continues. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman telling lawmakers he was so concerned and worried by what he heard during President Trump's call with Ukraine's President that he sounded the alarm and told a superior.
We'll talk about the breaking news and much more with Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and analyst are also standing by.
First, let's go straight to Capitol Hill. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju is there for us.
Manu, what are you learning first of all about how Democrats plan to conduct this next phase of the impeachment proceedings?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Democrats are prepared to move to the open phase of their impeachment inquiry in just a matter of weeks. And will move this week to vote on a resolution spelling out the procedures for some of the next steps as part of this resolution. It will allow staff members of this committee to question individuals for 45 minutes a piece on each side.
And then after these moves from the House Intelligence Committee in open session, it would then move to the House Judiciary Committee which could get -- which could collect the evidence that the Intelligence Committee is conducting now behind closed doors. And when it moves into open session in the House Judiciary Committee, the White House would have an opportunity to participate in the proceedings, but their opportunity could be removed by the chairman of that committee, Jerry Nadler, if the White House does not comply with their request for information. And we've seen so far the White House has not done that.
But now, and also Wolf, there are still requests for witness interviews to come in privately, including Brian McCormack. We are now learning that this Office of Management and Budget official at the White House has been requested for an interview. This individual served as the chief of staff at the Department of Energy.
And the Energy Department has been in the thick of this investigation because Rick Perry, the Energy secretary had been involved in some of these discussions with the President of Ukraine, Zelensky. He's also involved in discussion at the White House about where -- about why Ukrainian aid had been withheld and also about a meeting that the Ukrainian officials had sought in Washington at a time when the President himself and the President's top attorney was pushing for an investigation. And it was an announcement of an investigation into the President's political rivals.
So this investigation still happening now privately, but soon we will see that more open session. And then there's vote to formalize this process happening just by Thursday and expected to come down on party lines as Republicans are calling, they're attacking this resolution and most Democrats are expected to vote for it, Wolf.
BLITZER: And the next open session will be televised and we'll all be able to watch it unfold. Meanwhile, Manu a key witness in the impeachment investigation, Army, Active Duty Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, has been testifying as you point out today all day. What are you learning specifically about the shouting match that erupted during his deposition?
RAJU: Yes. He was testifying about his concerns that he had about the phone call that the President had with President Uk -- Zelensky of Ukraine, concerns that he had about the push for investigations into the President's political rivals, worried that it could undermine national security. Also saying that he had reported some of these concerns to the top attorney, the National Security Council on multiple occasions, but Republicans during one line of questioning, I'm told raised lots of questions about people that he had spoken with, during his time over while all of these controversies were unfolding.
People, they wanted to know if he had spoke with, then Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, objected to that line of question because Democrats contend that this is all an effort to out the whistleblower whose complaint spawned this impeachment inquiry from the get go and some of them who has been targeted by the President and his allies alike.
Now, Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee came out after and I asked him if this is part of an effort to go after the whistleblower and he denied it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN, (R) RANKING MEMBER, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Yes, we want to know who this individual may have communicated with. That's important information. Adam Schiff is the who's continue to talk about the whistleblower. Oh by the way, he's the only one that knows who the individual is. So, that's not what we're trying to do, we're just trying to get information that we're entitled to get. And the witness is supposed to answer our questions.
RAJU: Do you want to know the whistleblower? Don't you want to know who the whistleblower is?
JORDAN: The American people want to know. I want to get to the truth.
And the idea that went during our hour, our counsels asking questions and Adam Schiff tells the witness not to answer our questions is completely ridiculous. And it's why this should be in public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And Wolf, things got so heated during that moment, that Mark Meadows, the Republican from North Carolina, got into a shouting match we're told with Eric Swalwell, a Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. And I had a chance to ask the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi about all this controversy afterwards and she also went after the Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP.NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: Telling the whistleblower is an unpatriotic action, they shouldn't even go near that and the public knows that.
RAJU: Probably not going to talk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And, Wolf, this proceeding is starting to do as Adam Schiff, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee walking by.
Mr. Schiff, are you -- are Republicans trying to out the whistleblower?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA, INTELLIGENCE CMTE. CHAIRMAN: We have a bill on the floor that I have to make sure I whip so I will talk to you later.
RAJU: Schiff, declining to comment there. We're trying to ask him questions about what the process and the prospects of what's going on through the course of this day. He has not commented during the course of this proceeding. He just declined to comment right there too. But he has been faced with criticism from Republicans for shutting down that line of questioning about the whistleblower, about what he believed was an effort to out the whistleblower.
Republicans say it was not the case, but nevertheless this is colored today's closed-door proceedings with this top witness who's been raising concerns about what happened here. And also said himself he does not know who the whistleblower is. Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, good try Manu, with Congressman Schiff. Thanks very much. We'll get back to you.
I want to go to the White House now. Our White House Correspondent, Boris Sanchez, is on the scene for us.
Boris, President Trump is clearly not happy about this first White House official testifying in the impeachment inquiry.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, President Trump going after Alexander Vindman as we expected with a familiar attack suggesting that the lieutenant colonel is trying to undermine the President's foreign policy.
Meantime, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, someone who doesn't frequently get involved in political fights or verbal attacks, is now getting into it with Joe Biden.
SANCEZ (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump attempting to discredit the first current White House official to appear as a witness before the House impeachment inquiry. The President labeling Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, as a never Trumper witness on Twitter as he was sent to testify. Trump also claiming he doesn't know Vindman.
One of the top Ukraine experts on his own National Security Council writing, "Why are people that I never even heard of testifying about the call". Well some Republican commentators questioned Vindman's patriotism because he was born in Ukraine and immigrated to the United States as a three-year-old. Others quickly dismiss that line of criticism.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MAJORITY LEADER: I'm not going to question the patriotism of any of the people who are coming forward. I'm not going to comment on the merits of what's going forward.
REP. LIZ CHENEY, (R) WYOMING: We're talking about decorated veterans who have served this nation. Who have put their lives on the line and it is shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this nation and we should not be involved in that process.
SANCHEZ: In a rare interview tonight, the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner tells Israeli T.V. that the Democrats are playing silly games when it comes to impeachment. Kushner also taking exception to comments from 2020 contender Joe Biden who told "60 Minutes" this weekend that having Trump family members in the administration is improper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is improper about that?
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's just simply improper because you should make it clear to the American public that everything that you're doing is for them, for them.
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: He's entitled to his opinion, but a lot of the work that the President has had me doing over the last three years is actually been cleaning up the messes that Vice President Biden left behind.
SANCHEZ: Tonight the President celebrating another blow to Isis via Twitter, announcing the death of Isis spokesman, Abu Hassan al- Muhajir, who was seen as a possible replacement to Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi. But questions remain about Trump's claim of how the death of the Isis leader went down.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He died after running into a dead end tunnel whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.
SANCHEZ: Top Pentagon officials say they were not aware of how the President knew those details but would not publicly dispute his version, saying that perhaps he had spoken directly to teams on the ground. Officials with knowledge of the President's speech announcing al Baghdad's death say Trump's speech did not resemble the remarks prepared for him.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SANCHEZ: And, Wolf, we did not get a chance to ask the President about those details that he shared regarding al-Baghdadi's death today. And no public events on the President's schedule, though he is scheduled to attend a fundraiser at his hotel in Washington, D.C. tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much Boris Sanchez at the White House.
Let's get some more on all of this. Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York is joining us. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
Let me get your immediate reaction to the breaking news. As you know, Democrats have just released a list of formal procedures for the impeachment proceedings and the full House will vote on them later this week, we're told Thursday. Are you satisfied with these new ground rules that were laid out in this document?
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY, (D) INTELLEGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes. I think it is an appropriate next step. It's more than justified by the facts and the evidence that have been developed to date. And it addresses a number of procedural issues including due process for the President and other things that the Republicans have been asking for. So, they should welcome it. And it's going to put all of this before the American public which is appropriate.
BLITZER: All right, let's move on. You were in Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman's impeachment deposition throughout this day. I know there are restrictions on what you could tell us, but can you share some new information you may have learned?
MALONEY: Well, look I'm not going to comment on the substance of the testimony. I will say that I hope people understand. This is a decorated army colonel. This is somebody who earned the Purple Heart in an IED attack in Iraq. This is someone who has served his country honorably and who has stepped up to give testimony even though that comes at some risk to himself and we are very grateful for his participation.
This is someone with direct knowledge of the phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky. He was on the call. And so obviously it's very important testimony and we're glad he was here.
BLITZER: And as you point out, he was the first White House official who was actually on the July 25th phone conversation with President Zelensky. He's the first one to appear and testify before your committee. Was he able to tell you whether or not the rough transcript that was released by the White House was accurate and complete?
MALONEY: Look, Wolf, I am constrained in what I can say about his testimony. What I can tell you is that the President himself has touted the call memorandum as being a perfect reflection of the call. He just seems not to get that it incriminates him. So I don't think the call memo is in serious dispute. So, without commenting on Vindman's testimony let me just say that there is no question, that the call memorandum actually reflects what took place.
It is worth noting, however, that Colonel Vindman is a legacy Ukrainian speaker. He does speak Ukrainian and he had direct knowledge of the call and that's very valuable witness testimony.
BLITZER: Because President Zelensky, I think it was speaking in Ukrainian or Russian and Colonel Vindman, he speaks both of those languages. Did he say the translation was accurate?
MALONEY: Again, Wolf, you're asking me to comment on specific testimony, which I'm just not permitted to do.
BLITZER: Some of the President's allies have now publicly attacked the character. Question the patriotism of Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. After watching him testifies today, and you watched him for hours, what's your response to those attacks?
MALONEY: Well, it's disgusting and it's certainly a sign of desperation that they can't deal with the substance, their process arguments are now mooted and they really have very little to say. They strike me as people who are desperate to find something, anything to undermine this person's testimony.
But you're going to have to ask them why they would choose to use their time to try to undermine a decorated army colonel who is wounded in Vietnam, who has given his life in service to this country. That does not say something very good about my conservative colleagues who've been engaged in that effort and their allies on Fox News.
BLITZER: Did they try to discredit him during the course of the questioning?
MALONEY: Again, I'm not going to comment on any specific testimony except to tell you that you should ask them. Why those statements that are in the public domain are out there? Why this effort is underway?
It's to me a clear sign that the facts are killing them. That they are doing everything. I mean, just look at what's going on. They're doing everything to talk about everything to avoid talking about the substance. Whatever they could talk about, process, character assassination of a good Chairman Adam Schiff, whatever else they could do except deal with the facts and the evidence. Which are going to be laid before the American public soon?
BLITZER: Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, thank you so much for joining us.
MALONEY: My pleasure.
BLITZER: All right, we'll going to have a lot more on the breaking news. Democrats taking another step forward toward impeaching the President and we're going to get reaction from Democratic Presidential candidate, Tom Steyer, who's here in "The Situation Room." He was a very early proponent of impeachment. We'll discuss with him.
And later, a first ever warning of extreme conditions as another burst of winds could make California's wildfires even worse.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. Just a little while ago the White House dismissed the new Democratic resolution spelling out the rules for open hearings, the handling of evidence and White House participation in the impeachment process. The statement says, this process by House Democrats is a sham.
Joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM is Democratic presidential candidate, Tom Steyer. He's long pushed for impeaching the President, what about two years? How long has it been?
TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A little over two years.
BLITZER: Two years you've been calling for his impeachment. What do you think of the way Democrats, your fellow Democrats in the House are now moving forward with a formal resolution, they expect a vote on Thursday. And then they will open up the process?
STEYER: Well, Wolf, this is what I've been pushing for since October of 2017. Was really to make it a Democratic process to include the American people, to let us all across the country see the evidence, see how corrupt this President is and judge for ourselves. That's really what has got to happen in the United States is to let the American people make up our mind.
BLITZER: What's your reaction to the testimony and the deposition that's been going on for hours and hours today involving Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who told House impeachment investigators in a statement that we all have released and read by now that he twice raised concerns about the President's conduct toward Ukraine?
STEYER: Look, I think what Colonel Vindman is doing is what patriots do, which is they stand up for the country no matter what happens. So the idea of going after his patriotism and going after his service to me is absolutely wrong and it's an act of a desperate man and a desperate party.
BLITZER: Well, what do you think of the way they're going after him? He was three years old, he and his twin brother when his father and grandmother, his mother had died in Ukraine, brought them to the United States. They were poor. They had $750 in their pocket and all of a sudden he winds up lieutenant colonel as does his twin brother goes to Harvard and spends 20 years in the military, was wounded during his service in Iraq.
STEYER: Look, what they're trying to do is despicable. But it's also desperate. I think when you have no argument on your side, no logic, no justice, then you try and shoot the messenger. This happens to be a pretty unimpeachable messenger but that's the only option so they've chosen to go that way.
Wolf, that's why I want there to be public hearings so people can hear the true patriots like the Colonel Vindman tell the truth about the corruption of this President. That's what we all need to hear so we can all make up our minds.
BLITZER: Let's talk politics while I have you. We don't have a lot of time. But our new CNN New Hampshire poll has you down together with Kamala Harris at 3 percent, Andrew Yang at 5 percent, Bernie Sanders is at 21 percent, Elizabeth Warren 18 percent, Joe Biden 15 percent. But it's pointed out you've spent more in televised advertising for your campaign, $35 million, compared to the approximately $6 million for the other candidates combined. So what's going on?
STEYER: Look, I'm not a famous person. I have a very specific thing to say, Wolf, which I'm trying to get across to people. And when they hear it, I actually think they respond. What I'm saying simply is this, the American government has failed, it's been bought by corporations. If we're going to get any of the policies we want, we're going to actually have to break this corporate stranglehold on our government. That is the issue in the United States.
And if we get that done, then we're going to get all of the things we want. But we have to ask yourself, who can do that for a decade? I've been fighting these corporations and beating them and I've been pushing as I did in impeachment to push the power down to the people to restore democracy of by and for the people.
BLITZER: You've qualified for the next Democratic presidential debate in Georgia. That is in a couple of weeks. What's your game plan in trying to make your point that you're more qualified to be president than the other Democratic candidates?
STEYER: Well, Wolf, I'm completely different from the other Democratic candidates.
BLITZER: Tell us why.
STEYER: I'm an outsider. I worked full time in politics really to take on these corporations and beat them and push power to the American people. Virtually everybody else in this race is a Washington insider. So if you believe -- which I think most Americans absolutely know that corporations have bought this government and climate change is a perfect example, that if we're going to get change we're going to have to beat the corporations, we're going to have to focus on that first.
And if we do that, we're going to get everything we want. We're going to get health care as a right, the education our kids deserve, living wage, clean air, clean water. We're going to get it all. But right now the corporations are preventing it and we're going to have to beat them and we're going to have to focus on that first in order to get everything else.
BLITZER: We'll see how this next debate winds up. Thanks so much Tom Steyer for coming in. Good luck out there on the campaign trail.
STEYER: Wolf, it's really nice to see you. Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
Coming up, Democrats finally release their resolution setting up the rules for the hearings and the evidence as they move toward impeaching the President of the United States. Will any Republicans agree?
Plus, did the testimony end in a shouting match as lawmakers question the latest impeachment witness.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news up on Capitol Hill. House Democrats, this afternoon, released the text of their resolution spelling out the rules for going forward with impeaching President Trump. Let's bring in our political and legal experts to discuss.
Dana, walk us through these new House rules. We've all read the resolution. What's most significant?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, it's significant that there even is this resolution, that they are setting out the rules of the road how the process is going to go forward. That's news in and of itself. And what's in it, the content, is -- is interesting in that it is going to be the Intelligence Committee led by Adam Schiff, the Democrat, who is going to lead the public hearings.
But it does lay out some -- I don't know if it's olive branches, but some attempts to try to squash the Republican calls for, you know, saying that this is unfair and that -- and that there aren't -- you know, that there isn't equal time by saying that Republicans will, just like during the Clinton impeachment process, be able to call their own witnesses if they want. But -- but if they -- if the Chairman disagrees, there could be a vote from the whole committee that, you know, is a partisan vote generally. It's not unlike the -- that Clinton had gotten.
The other thing that I thought was really interesting is that -- you know how many times we're sitting and watching congressional hearings, getting frustrated because each member gets five minutes, sometimes they don't even ask a question, but there is no follow-up. They're going to try to avoid that by having 45-minute chunks by the Democrat and the Republican and the ability to allow staff to ask questions. And we have seen that sometimes the staff is maybe better -- better prepared and more able to get the information out of the witnesses than the representatives themselves.
BLITZER: It might be more informative T.V. BASH: Yes.
BLITZER: And I'm sure we'll have hours and hours, days and days of live television coverage of all of this, in contrast to what's been going the last few weeks.
Sabrina, let's talk a little bit about the Republican reaction to this new resolution. The Minority Whip, Steve Scalise, slamming the Democrats for holding what he calls Soviet-style hearings. Do you think the Republicans will really continue to go after the -- the process of what's going on as opposed to dealing with the substance?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I think the short answer is yes. In fact, the White House just put out a statement slamming the text of this resolution as essentially reaffirming that this is a sham process. Even though, guess what, there are, in fact, Republicans who sit on these committees that have been overseeing these depositions, and they could actually be questioning these witnesses behind closed doors if they so choose.
In fact, some of the Republicans who stormed that secure area last week known as the SCIF to try and protest at least one of the depositions, they were, in fact, on that committee. They could have accessed that area anyway. But it goes back to what we've talked about several times over the course of the past few weeks, Republicans can't defend the President on the substance, so they're going after the process.
And we've heard them go from saying, well, this is all hearsay to then being in a position where they couldn't dismiss it as hearsay because, guess what, people with first-hand accounts have been coming forward and testifying on Capitol Hill. They've now tried to say, well, it doesn't actually amount to a quid pro quo. I think the latest line from Senate Republicans is, well, we're jurors in this process, so we can't really comment because we're going to be part of this trial.
I -- what -- that's going to very much be tested, I think, when this all becomes public. And it's going to be harder for Republicans to ignore the entire substance of this inquiry when you have witnesses coming forward before the eyes of the American public with very damning allegations against the President.
BLITZER: You know, all of us have now read the opening statement by the Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, and he goes through details. He was actually one of those White House officials on the National Security Council. He's an active-duty lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who was on that controversial July 25th phone conversation between the President and the Ukrainian President.
But I -- what jumped out at me is, before that call, Susan -- I'll read to you a sentence from his testimony, his statement. In the spring of 2019, I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the inter-agencies.
How significant is his statement today?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: It's significant because I think it demonstrates that both on that call, before and after, the President was not just pursuing an anti- corruption agenda on Ukraine. What the President was doing was putting his political interests over the national security interests of the United States, and his own staff was alarmed by it at the time.
And so, that is -- that is, you know, fundamentally significant in part because, you know, we don't give military aid to Ukraine out of the goodness of our hearts. We do it because it advances important strategic regional interests for the United States.
And so, it is significant to see the President's own staff saying they were alarmed at the time. Keep in mind, witnesses that have come forward at this point have told a remarkably consistent story about this, a story that involves abuse of power and involves the President placing his own political interests over the interests of the country.
What I think what's significant about that statement is, potentially, that it doesn't exactly line up with Gordon Sondland's testimony. Vindman says that he warned Gordon Sondland or confronted him multiple -- confronted him. That Fiona Hill also confronted him.
Gordon Sondland testified that he -- nobody ever raised concerns with him, so this is also going to provide a reason for the House to potentially bring Sondland back in and see if they can get him to tell a fuller story about what happened and potentially about his communications with the President on the subject as well.
BLITZER: You know, what's -- Bianna, what's really sickening and very, very disturbing is that some of the President's supporters, some Republicans and others, have started to attack Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, even questioning his patriotism, his loyalty to the United States.
He and his family, his twin brother, they were only 3 years old when his dad and his grandmother brought them to the United States. They were from the former Soviet Union. Ukraine was then part of the Soviet Union. They were Soviet Unionists.
They came to the United States. They had an opportunity to build a new life. He went into the military. He served 20 years, was wounded, still has shrapnel in his body from his service in Iraq, and now, they're questioning whether he is loyal to the United States or may have dual loyalty.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Look, this is about as anti-American as one can get. You know, this is a bit personal given that I, like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, came to the United States as a political refugee from the former Soviet Union. I was 2 years old.
One thing we share in common is that we have extremely brave and patriotic parents who moved mountains to uproot their lives and leave everything behind to move to this country where they could get freedom. They could get religious freedom. They could speak truth to power. And they could become what they wanted their children to be in this country, and that is free and that is someone to honor the U.S. flag. They sustained multiple jobs and has to learn a new language here.
You know, where I differ from the Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is that he is, in fact, a hero. He chose to serve his country. He chose to give back to the country that had given him so much. And you hear from him, in his opening testimony, that he did this for the love of our country, that he didn't do this as a partisan, as a Republican or a Democrat. He served both parties in this country and in this administration.
And of course, it's -- it's now an era where one who differs with the President is called an anti-Trumper, and you have people on television who question their loyalty. It's about as un-American as one can get. And it reminded me of what Vladimir Putin wrote a few years ago in an op-ed here in "The New York Times," where he questioned America's sense of exceptionalism. And it's people like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, it's people like the 500,000-plus immigrant military veterans who make this country so exceptional, Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly does, and we salute Lieutenant Colonel Vindman for his patriotism. He's a real hero, and he's a great American, a real patriot.
Everybody, stand by, a lot more coming up. We're also going to continue to cover all the breaking news, but there is other breaking news out in northern California where a new and extremely dangerous burst of strong winds could make things much worse.
And later, why is North Korea turning down a South Korean offer for talks on repairing a resort Kim Jong-un criticized?
BLITZER: Right now, breaking news. Twenty-six million people from California to Arizona are being warned they are facing dangerous fire conditions because of the combination of winds, temperature, and humidity. In California, forecasters just issued their first-ever extreme red flag warning ahead of an expected burst of strong Santa Ana winds.
CNN's Dan Simon is near the fire that's burning in northern California's wine country. What's the latest, Dan?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Wolf. The story in both northern California and southern California is the wind.
In southern California, in Los Angeles, the National Weather Service issuing that extreme red flag warning, the first time the organization has ever done that, indicating the major risk for both new file -- fires and that ongoing Getty Fire which, right -- right at this point, is only five percent contained. Obviously, when you have these major winds and you're talking about gusts up to 80 miles per hour this evening, that could push the embers in new directions and cause more fires.
In northern California, same story with the wind. This is the third major wind event we've had this week. Local experts say they have never seen anything like that. Of course, we're still -- still dealing with the Kincade Fire. Right now, that fire has consumed more than 75,000 acres and still growing, Wolf.
BLITZER: At least a million people, I take it, Dan, will be without power. Is that right?
SIMON: That's exactly right. This is really an unprecedented event as well. This will be the fourth time in northern California that PG&E, in less than a month, has cut the power. And we know that in L.A., southern California, Edison also may cut the power for as many as 200,000 customers this evening.
A lot of people are going to be in the dark. It's going to be a very long night for folks as well as for firefighters who, of course, are going to be prepositioned around various areas, trying to protect as much property as possible in the event more fires break out, Wolf.
BLITZER: Good luck to all those folks out there. We're wishing only the best for them. It's an awful, awful situation. Dan Simon, thanks for that report.
Coming up, a shouting match between Republican and Democratic lawmakers interrupts today's questioning of a very important impeachment witness.
Plus, Kim Jong-un's regime rejects a South Korean offer for face-to- face talks, not about weapons but about helping restore a mountain resort.
BLITZER: There's new tension tonight between North and South Korea over a resort that was once a showplace for Kim Jong-un. CNN's Brian Todd is here with the latest. Brian, this resort used to be a symbol of cooperation between North and South Korea.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a very successful symbol of that, Wolf, and it could be again. But tonight, Kim Jong-un seems to be frustrated at the efforts to revive cooperation over that famed resort, Mount Kumgang. And the dictator is getting more frustrated and impatient over nuclear talks with the U.S. that have, again, stalled.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): Tonight, the North Korean dictator exasperated
with adversaries whom he wants to become his partners. Kim Jong-un's regime has rejected South Korea's offer for face-to-face talks over how to restore North Korea's famed Mount Kumgang resort. Pyongyang insisting on discussing the matter in writing. Analysts say this is likely posturing, but that Kim is also probably feeling some real financial strain.
WILLIAM BROWN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: And they're getting -- I'm not saying desperate, but they're getting worried about it. I think Kim and his government is under huge financial stress from these sanctions.
TODD (voice-over): Kim visited Mount Kumgang last week and blistered the place for its state of disrepair, comparing it to a refugee camp. Mount Kumgang was once a successful resort, a joint venture between North and South Korea until 2008 when a South Korean tourist was shot and killed by a North Korean sentry. South Korea then banned its citizens from going there.
Now, Kim is demanding that South Korea come in and tear down old buildings it had constructed at the resort. Experts say Kim can complain about the South Koreans all he wants, but he needs them if Mount Kumgang is going to get its shine back.
MARCUS NOLAND, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR OF STUDIES, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: The market for Mount Kumgang is almost exclusively South Korean. So if South Korean tourists aren't going there, it's going to be very hard to operate it as -- as a resort. Maybe some wealthy North Koreans. They've tried to bring in Chinese. But basically, to make that resort work, you need South Koreans.
TODD (voice-over): The supreme leader is also exasperated tonight over his diplomatic impasse with President Trump. Kim's regime just issued a statement saying it would be a mistake for the U.S. to ignore a deadline North Korea has imposed for real progress on a nuclear weapons deal to be made by year's end.
JOSEPH DETRANI, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SIX PARTY TALKS WITH NORTH KOREA: This is how they posture. This is how they sort of put something in place saying you need to do more, you need to give us more than you are giving us. You need to show a little more flexibility.
This is their playbook. They've been doing it for years. We know that.
TODD (voice-over): The new North Korean statement telling because it's from Kim Yong-chol, the former intelligence chief considered Kim Jong-un's henchman and enforcer, warning that if progress isn't made, there can be the exchange of fire at any moment. What could the North Koreans realistically do if the Trump team doesn't meet its year-end deadline?
DETRANI: If they feel they want us to continue to push, they can do some things. They could put -- they could launch a -- a rocket and put a satellite in orbit.
TODD: Well, tonight, analysts are worried about North Korea going beyond that and playing real hardball after their deadline passes, possibly testing nuclear bombs and long-range missiles again. That might bring tougher sanctions on North Korea, and it could bring each side back to military threats, the so-called fire and fury days -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, what does it mean that North Korea had this hardliner, their former intelligence chief, issuing that statement of warning to the United States?
TODD: It means the North Koreans could be ready to get very tough in the negotiations. Wolf, that former intelligence chief, Kim Yong- chol, is known not only for his ruthlessness -- he does have South Korean blood on his hands -- but he's got a reputation as an in-your- face negotiator.
He once taunted a South Korean delegation, asking where their other briefcase was with proposals different from the ones they brought to him. He is not a pleasant guy to deal with.
BLITZER: Yes, it's a very sensitive moment right now. We'll watch it closely with you. Brian Todd, thank you very much.
There's more breaking news. Coming up next, House Democrats release their plan for making the impeachment inquiry public. New details emerging right now of what we'll be seeing and when.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Advancing impeachment. House Democrats just released a resolution to formalize their investigation of President Trump. The momentum building quickly with a vote set for Thursday, but will Republicans play by their rules?
Sounding the alarm. A White House official testifies that he reported his concerns about Mr. Trump's phone call with Ukraine in real-time, warning of risks to national security.