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Feds File Hate Crime Charges Against NY Stabbing Suspect; NYT Discloses Meeting Where Pompeo, Bolton, Esper Failed To Persuade Trump To Release Aid; Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) Is Interviewed About The NY Stabbing Attack And The Withholding Of Ukraine Aid; Judge Dismisses Case Involving Former Bolton Aide; Biden Responds To Buttigieg's Criticism Of His Record On Iraq, Foreign Policy; Officials Identify Suspect And Victims Of Shooting Attack At Texas Church; Kremlin Says Putin Invited Trump To Moscow In Weekend Call. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 30, 2019 - 17:00   ET



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Hate crime charges. The suspect in a horrific Hanukkah stabbing spree is ordered held as he's charged with federal hate crimes. Tonight, what we're learning about the attack, the suspect, and what his handwritten journals may reveal about the motive.

Ukraine aid freeze. New details of the scandal rocking the Trump White House, including a reported warning to chief of staff Mick Mulvaney about the risk of withholding money from Ukraine. We're going to talk to one of the "New York Times" journalists who broke the story.

U.S. strikes. Fresh fallout from retaliatory U.S. attacks on five facilities in Iraq and Syria tied to an Iranian-backed militia. Tonight, Russia is pushing back calling the strikes unacceptable.

And deadly church shooting. Chilling new details of an attack inside of a Texas church that killed two people as we learn the identity of the security volunteer who took out the gunman in a matter of seconds.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


KEILAR: Tonight, the man accused of using a machete to attack five people at a Hanukkah celebration in New York City -- in a suburb of New York City is charged with hate crimes, and investigators say they discovered anti-Semitic writings in his journey. We're also following a pretty undisclosed email conversation inside of

the Trump White House about Ukraine. "New York Times" is reporting that a senior adviser warned Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in June that withholding security aid to Ukraine would likely cause Congress to, quote, become unhinged. We're going to talk about that and more this hour with Congressman Eliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

Let's begin with CNN National Correspondent, Miguel Marquez.

And, Miguel, tell us more about these hate crimes against the suspect in the New York stabbing attacks.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, big question here, Brianna, is why this location. It is not exactly close to where the suspect lived. His government attorney in court today said that this is a person who is being treated for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The prosecutors say what they are finding points to a hate crime.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Tonight, federal hate crime charges lay out what prosecutors say was the anti-Semitic motivation behind the machete-wielding attack on Hasidic Jews at a rabbi's home in the middle of a Hanukkah celebration.

Investigators say on suspect Grafton Thomas's phone's Internet history, from recent days, researches for synagogues in New York and New Jersey. The search terms, why did Hitler hate the Jews and prominent companies founded by Jews in America.

From the 37-year-old's home, investigators say they recovered handwritten journals expressing anti-Semitic sentiments and references to the Black Hebrew Israelite Movement which asserts they are the true descendents of ancient Israelites, and Jews are interlopers.

The teachings of the same group were connected, says a law enforcement official, to the attack on a kosher market in New Jersey earlier this month.

JOSEF GLUCK, SURVIVED STABBING ATTACK: He's coming after (ph) me, hey you. I'll get you.

MARQUEZ: Josef Gluck was in the rabbi's home when Thomas walked in and announced to investigators no one is leaving. Wielding an 18-inch machete and according to court documents began stabbing and slashing people. Five people suffered serious injuries, including a severed finger, slashed wounds and deep lacerations. One remains in critical condition with a skull fracture.

GLUCK: Decided to come back to the front door and I opened the door and saw an older gentleman bleeding and he stayed in there and the attacker came back from the kitchen to the main room. MARQUEZ: Gluck had the presence of mind to chase the attacker to his

car and get his license plate number. Less than two hours after the attack, Thomas was arrested by NYPD officers as he returned to Manhattan. The video of that arrest captured on security camera and released by NYPD.

Investigators say his clothing and hands had blood on them and the car smelled of bleached in a possible attempt to wash away evidence.

MICHAEL SUSSMAN, SUSPECT'S ATTORNEY: My impression from speaking with him is that he needs serious psychiatric evaluation.

MARQUEZ: Thomas' family says he's a former marine and not anti- Semitic but does have mental health issues. His lawyer says he looked over the same journals described by investigators.

SUSSMAN: There is no suggestion in any of those ramblings and pages of writing of an anti-Semitic motive.



MARQUEZ: Now, Grafton Thomas was in federal court today and investigators are looking into whether there were other incidents in this area that could tie him to this area and give some reasons as to why he targeted this particular place. There is a synagogue right next door.

This is the rabbi's house. It could have been much worse as he tried to get into the synagogue and because they heard the screaming here, they locked the doors there and that's when he fled the scene and a short time later was under arrest -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Miguel, thank you for that report. Miguel Marquez in Monsey, New York.

There are new revelations tonight about concern inside the White House over withholding aid to Ukraine and those warnings that were ignored.

CNN White House Correspondent, Boris Sanchez is in South Florida where President Trump is spending the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

And it is far from a care-free holiday for the president, Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Brianna. With an impeachment trial, Senate trial looming, President Trump spent the day at his golf resort as his foreign policy is drawing even greater scrutiny.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): With a Senate trial looming, President Trump hit the links at his had golf club today, facing renewed scrutiny over foreign policy and his decision to freeze aid to Ukraine. "The New York Times" reporting Trump's top foreign policy advisers tried talking him out of it, one by one.

Then national security adviser John Bolton, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who scheduled to visit Ukraine later this week took turns imploring Trump not to withhold the aid during an Oval Office meeting in August, arguing that helping Ukraine is in the country's best interest. But Trump dismissing them, saying he does not trust Ukraine's new president, Vladimir Zelensky to weed out corruption and, quote, Ukraine is a corrupt country, we're pissing away our money.

Newly released emails reveal acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney playing a key role in freezing the funds. Writing to an aide just two days after Trump's call with Zelensky, quote, I'm just trying to tie up some loose ends. Did we ever find out about the money for Ukraine and whether we can hold it back? The aide responding it was possible but wouldn't be pretty. Adding Mulvaney should, quote, expect Congress to become unhinged.

According to "The New York Times," when another aide Mark Sandy later questioned if freezing money appropriated by Congress was legal, the White House took the unusual step of removing his authority to oversee the funds.

New questions also emerging about the shadow diplomacy effort by the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, that appears to go beyond Ukraine. "The Washington Post" reports Rudy Giuliani held a back channel talk with Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro last year. Giuliani trying to establish a separate line of communication between Trump and the Venezuelan leader, while attempting to coax Maduro into abdicating power.

Sources familiar with the efforts say Giuliani's attempts were dismissed by then national security adviser Bolton with a former senior administration official telling "The Post", White House officials did not understand why Giuliani was even involved in Venezuela policy.

The White House tonight also facing heightened foreign policy challenges in the Mideast. An Iranian backed militia vowing vengeance following U.S. air strikes in Syria and Iraq over the weekend. The attacks in response to the killing of an American contractor last week.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Today, what we did was take a decisive response that makes clear what President Trump has said for months and months and months, which is that we will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy.

SANCHEZ: Pompeo and Esper joined by Joint Chiefs chairman, General Mark Milley, stopping in Palm Beach for roughly three hours on Sunday, briefing Trump and reporters on the attacks, and vowing to continue exerting maximum pressure on Ukrainian, reviving concerns about whether Trump, despite previously condemning U.S. military action in the region, would risk another war in the Mideast heading into the 2020 campaign. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: There is one more bit of news, Brianna. President Trump shared a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin this weekend. The two of them talking about counter-terrorism measures and according to the Kremlin, Putin inviting Trump for the second time to visit him in Moscow next May for the 75th anniversary of the Victory Day celebration of the end of World War II. President Trump back in November said it was something he was interested in potentially doing -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Boris, thank you so much.

And let's get more on all of this with Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Sir, thank you so much for joining us.

REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D-NY): Thank you.

KEILAR: I do want to start with the horrific attack on the Jewish community on the home state of New York and actually Monsey used to be in your district.


What do you think as you look at this, as you look at what we're seeing in New York City, what do you think is behind this rise in anti-Semitic violence?

ENGEL: Well, I've just gotten back from Monsey, the community is coming together and people are very concerned and, of course, I'm concerned. And we all should be concerned with this horrific uptick in anti-Semitic attacks. You know, it doesn't start with one person or one group of people and ends there. It spreads all around.

This is intolerable. And it's not something that we can accept here in the United States and I think we have to move swiftly and act swiftly and show no tolerance whatever for people who commit these anti-Semitic attack incidents.

You have five people hurt. Four or five people at a celebration for one of the last nights of Hanukkah in the rabbi's house. I mea, people should feel when they are home that they're safe and that is certainly not the case. We have a lot of thinking in this country, and a lot of action that needs to be done because live service isn't going to do it and the rise of anti-Semitism should not be tolerated by anybody.

KEILAR: This is a complex problem. When you look at what needs to be done to prevent future attacks, what do you think?

ENGEL: Well, I think, first of all, there needs to be education and I think that the federal government needs to provide some of the funding with that. Secondly, I think that hate crimes are something that should be treated differently than other crimes, more severely perhaps than other crimes. There are a lot of things we could do.

One of the things that we don't need are more rhetoric or talk and we get all riled up for a few weeks or a few months and then it sort of dies down again. That is not acceptable. It is not acceptable for anti-Semitic attacks. It's not acceptable for attacks against any group.

And I think in Congress, we have to look at these issues very, very carefully and put our money where our mouth is and begin with education and but make sure that if people are carrying out heinous crimes like this, that they're penalized to the fullest extent of the law.

KEILAR: I want to turn now to the president holding aid to Ukraine as he pursued Ukraine investigating Joe Biden's son and Joe Biden. "The New York Times" is reporting that Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then National Security Adviser John Bolton met with President Trump in late August to urge him to release the military aid to Ukraine.

How significant is that to the Democrats' case for impeachment?

ENGEL: Well, I think it certainly enhances it. I mean, I just think the whole situation is just a terrible situation. We have foreign aid which is important for the United States to give because we are one of the leading if not the leading country in the world in terms of trying to work with other nations.

And Ukraine was given this aid by a vote -- a full vote of the United States Congress. It wasn't the president's personal money. It wasn't for the president to decide that they're going to get aid or not. Congress appropriated the money.

And so, this just enhances it and really shows a total disregard for what the Congress wanted. And when you take a look at Ukraine, Ukraine has broken away from the old Soviet Union or Russia. They want to be friends with the West. They want to be a country that works with the United States.

And that is not a very good way for us to treat our friends. We should be doing everything to help them.

If there is a corruption problem in Ukraine, we should be trying to help them to root it out. We shouldn't be fanning the fire and sort of using this for the president's own politics. It is clear that the president used this money to further his politics to go after someone he perceived to be his political enemy and that is certainly not something that should be done by any president, that is not his private money to play around with.

KEILAR: Chairman, thank you so much. Congressman Eliot Engel, we appreciate it.

ENGEL: Thank you.

KEILAR: Up next, what needs to be done to stop this rise of anti- Semitism and keep people safe? I'll be asking an official of a town where a man attacked a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi's home.

And later, the security guard that people are calling a hero speaks out about shooting and killing a gunman just six seconds after the start of an attack at a Texas church.



KEILAR: Just in to THE SITUATION ROOM, a judge just dismissed a lawsuit involving former national security adviser John Bolton's deputy Charles Kupperman.


The House was seeking Kupperman's testimony for the impeachment inquiry and the judge effectively ruled that since the House withdrew its subpoena, the case is moot. And among the other stories that we're following, a suspect goes to court on federal hate crime charges in the wake of this weekend's stabbing attack on people gathering at the home of a New York rabbi. Authorities say the man's handwritten journals contain what appear to be anti-Semitic writings.

With us now is Michael Specht. He's the town's supervisor for Ramapo, New York, where the attack took place.

Supervisor, thank you so much for coming on CNN. We appreciate it.


KEILAR: You know the rabbi who was hosting this celebration and you spoke with him after this attack. Tell us how the Jewish community, which certainly makes up a very large part of your county, is feeling in the aftermath of this?

SPECHT: The Jewish community in the town of Ramapo is very afraid, very frightened also at this point very angry that this could happen here. We, as you said, we have a large orthodox Jewish community that is made a home in our town and has many synagogues and schools and cultural institutions, and is a big part of our town and our community and they feel under attack and it is very frustrating for them and for us in the town government as well and very frightening.

KEILAR: What's your reaction to these new details that are outlined in the criminal complaint which include to be anti-Semitic messages in the suspect's journals?

SPECHT: Well, I think they confirm what everybody suspected. When we first heard of this happened, I got the call from the police shortly after it happened on late Saturday night and my first reaction, of course, is, you know, an attack at a rabbi's house, this sounds like a case of violent anti-Semitism. Now that the search warrant has revealed that he was in possession of journals with anti- Semitic phrases in them, hand-written journals, it obviously confirms to us what the attacker's motives were, what his intentions were. We know that he had -- he had pictures of swastikas and stars of

David. He had phrases about implying something about Jewish genocide and that Jews stole from other -- what he called Israelites, a number of troubling statements that reveal to us that he was acting with an anti-Semitic motive.

KEILAR: What do you make of his family saying he has no known history of anti-Semitism and his lawyer saying there wasn't anything anti- Semitic in his writing? They've stressed that he has a long history of mental illness.

SPECHT: Well, what's in the journal seem to be inconsistent with what his attorney is saying. He may have not participated in any organized anti-Semitic groups that we as of yet know, the investigation is still ongoing. But I think certainly the conclusions we can draw from the statements suggest that he was thinking along those lines. He also had done searches on the Internet looking for synagogues near him, synagogues in New Jersey. He had searched the phrase "why did Hitler hate the Jews".

So, it doesn't seem coincidental that he chose to go to a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi's house in an orthodox Jewish neighborhood.

KEILAR: When you look at this attack and the string attacks over Hanukkah, what needs to be done so that Jewish community members can feel safe?

SPECHT: Well, it's very frightening. As you know, every night of Hanukkah, there was an attack upon members of the Jewish community, many of them occurring in Brooklyn. But unfortunately, the worst one was in our town of Ramapo.

I think we need to have additional law enforcement measures. We have greater police patrols and greater presence and about to purchase license plate readers to cover all the entrances into and out of the town, all the roads, because that's how this person was apprehended. A witness, a victim actually had the presence of mind to get his license plate and plugged it into the system and he was caught going into New York City almost immediately once he got there by the NYPD.

If we have those devices in our town, we could hopefully stop it from happening even sooner. So greater police work, we're going to work on. But in addition, there was a problem in Rockland County, we have a problem with anti-Semitism, especially with anti-Semitism directed against the orthodox community in the town of Ramapo.

There are Facebook pages devoted solely to attacking the orthodox community in our town, using the most hateful, disgusting anti-Semitic slurs and there's been no consequence for that. There's been no shame by the people who publish that and I think although there is free speech and First Amendment right, I think it's time to start pushing back and holding people accountable and to hold the social media corporations accountable as well if they're not going to police and regulate this time of conduct on their sites.

[17:25:03] KEILAR: Supervisor, thank you so much. Michael Specht, the town supervisor of Ramapo.

SPECHT: Thank you.

KEILAR: Coming up, with exactly five weeks to go until the Iowa caucus, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are at odds about the former vice president's record on Iraq.

Stay with us for the latest back and forth.



KEILAR: Let's get more on the story just in to the SITUATION ROOM, a judge dismissing a lawsuit involving former national security adviser John Bolton's deputy, Charles Kupperman. Let's talk to our experts about this.

I want to ask you, Michael Gerhardt, first, just walk us through this because it sounds like the judge is saying because House Democrats withdrew this subpoena, the case is moot. Is that about right?


KEILAR: Tell us about this reasoning.

GERHARDT: That is exactly right. So the -- John Bolton's deputy had been subpoenaed to testify as part of the impeachment hearings. He then took that subpoena and challenged that subpoena in court.

But the judge had not decided the case by the time the House impeached the President. Meanwhile, the House withdrew its subpoena that had been issued against Bolton's deputy. And therefore, there was nothing to litigate in the court.

The hearing, therefore, became moot, meaning there was nothing left to decide in the court. Therefore, it's all withdrawn. It's irrelevant now, and it won't become relevant again unless this deputy gets subpoenaed again.

KEILAR: And what are the chances of that happening, Jackie?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, if you believe the House Counsel, Doug Letter, he said that the subpoena will -- they'll be no reissue, not today, tomorrow, or ever. So if you -- take him at his word, after when this was actually pulled, it won't be.

However, you always wonder if there is new information that comes out, if there is another explosive report, if they might reconsider that, considering that they haven't sent the articles over yet.

KEILAR: What does that tell you about moving on quickly to get to the articles of impeachment without turning over certain stones?

KUCINICH: I think this is one of the reasons that they -- this was one of the schools of thought for not sending over these articles of impeachment right away. Because there are still things that haven't been resolved in the courts, and there still might be threads out there that haven't been pulled and might reveal something.

Now, there is, of course, downsides to that. But certainly, that was one of the arguments you were hearing in the wake of that decision a couple of weeks ago.

KEILAR: Phil, I want to turn to the hold on Ukraine military aid that the President put in place as he tried to extract an investigation of Joe Biden and his son from the Ukrainians.

We're learning in a "New York Times" report that, in late August, the Defense Secretary, the Secretary of State, and then-national security adviser John Bolton met with the President, and they tried to convince him to drop this hold. What do you make of that?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, I'll tell you, one of the hardest things to figure out in any case is motive. Look, anybody who is in high school reading an Agatha Christie novel can tell you, if you're an investigator, you got to know who, what, when, where, and why.

We have a lot of those. We know who was involved in this including the individuals. In this case, the Defense Secretary, the Secretary of State, the national security adviser. We know when things were happening. We know what happened.

We don't know the why, but let me tell you something, Brianna. If the President of the United States tells us a thousand times that the why was corruption and that the phone call was perfect, if the phone call was so perfect, can you explain to me why three major players -- the national security adviser, the Defense Secretary, and the Secretary of State -- have to counsel the President that's it -- that it's a stupid idea?

The most critical issue here to close is that this story is giving us an indication of the why. The why was corrupt, and the people around the President knew it. And they were going to counsel him that it wasn't a perfect idea; it was a mistake.

KEILAR: The why, Shawn Turner, for why these three key members of the President's cabinet or top aides wanted this to proceed was because they made the case, hey, this is good for America to send this aid to the Ukraine. What does it tell you that despite that, the President disregarded them?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND COMMUNICATION ANALYST: Yes. Well, Brianna, you know, it's actually not that unusual. We have seen instances in the past where the President would disregard the advice of his national security advisers. But in those cases, those national security advisers and the broader security community were able to sway the President by making the very argument that you just pointed out. I mean, they were able to go to the President and say, Mr. President,

this is in the best interest of U.S. national security. And in many cases, they were able to get him to change his mind. Now, in this case, that very same argument, which is 100 percent accurate, didn't sway the President. He didn't buy it. And so, that leaves us with a question of why.

Well, as Phil pointed out, you know, look, all of the evidence here seems to indicate that the President disavowed those national security advisers, he disregarded their advice, because he was more interested in the political implications of a Biden investigation.

Now, look, there are going to be people out there who are going to tell you that, look, he didn't disregard this advice because the aid was ultimately transferred. The problem with that argument is that its timing is not on the President's side.

We know that within hours of the July 25th call, he released that aid. And the only thing that changed, the only new information he had, wasn't about whether or not Zelensky was going to pursue corruption, you know, vigorously. The only new information he had was that there was a whistleblower complaint that was going to take issue with that July 25th call.


KEILAR: All right. Everyone, stand by for me if you will.

As of today, we are just five weeks away now from the Iowa caucuses, and there is plenty of action on the presidential campaign trail. CNN's Arlette Saenz is keeping track of that for us.

And, Arlette, Joe Biden appears to be having to defend his record tonight after a blistering attack from Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Brianna. Joe Biden's vote on the Iraq War has come into sharp focus this week.

Bernie Sanders has long been critical of the former Vice President for his 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq. And now, Buttigieg is also weighing in, really issuing his sharpest critique yet of the former Vice President.

Take a listen to what both Buttigieg and Biden had to say about this matter over the past few days.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I certainly respect the Vice President, but this is an example of why years in Washington is not always the same thing as judgment. He supported the worst foreign policy decision made by the United States in my lifetime, which was the decision to invade Iraq.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I put my foreign policy record against anybody in the country right now. And god love Pete, you know. I respect the fact -- his service and his willingness to go.


SAENZ: Now, Biden has expressed regret over that vote. And over the past few months, he has really made his foreign policy experience a key -- one of his key selling points on this presidential campaign. But it's clear that Buttigieg is trying to put a little bit of a dent on -- in that with his argument about Biden's vote on the Iraq War.

Now, another interesting note from Biden today, he's told voters in New Hampshire that he would potentially consider selecting a Republican as his running mate. It's unclear if that would actually come to truth at any point, but Biden has said in the past that he would prefer to select a woman as his running mate if he gets the nomination.

KEILAR: Very interesting, all right. And, Arlette, it's been three months now since Bernie Sanders had a heart attack. Today, his campaign actually released his latest health summary. Tell us about that.

SAENZ: Yes, that's right, Brianna, some good news for Bernie Sanders today. The physician at the U.S. capitol released a letter -- a summary saying that Bernie Sanders is in good health.

There are also letters from two physicians from the University of Vermont who have monitored and checked up on Bernie Sanders since that heart attack. They say he is in good health and making a strong recovery.

Bernie Sanders and -- is now the latest of the candidates who are over 70 years old, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie -- Joe Biden, and Michael Bloomberg, who have all released some type of health summary -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Arlette, thank you so much.

Coming up, new details about the suspect in the deadly shooting at a Texas church and the security guard who is being praised as a hero for killing the gunman just seconds after the attack started.



KEILAR: Tonight, we know more about the security guard who shot and killed a gunman just seconds after the man opened fire during a Sunday church service near Fort Worth, Texas.

I want to bring in CNN Correspondent, Lucy Kafanov. And, tonight, Lucy, we're learning more about the suspect as well as the man who stopped him.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More about the suspect and the victims, but this, Brianna, was a terrifying moment that members of this congregation will not forget. The gunman bursting into Sunday services, drawing his weapon, opening

fire as terrified members of the congregation screamed and ducked for cover. A volunteer security guard putting an end to all of it within seconds. The entire terrifying moment captured on camera.

I have to warn our viewers the footage is disturbing. Take a look.




KAFANOV: We can now identify the gunman, Brianna, as a 43-year-old homeless man named Keith Thomas Kinnunen. He has a long litany of arrests and convictions here in the state of Texas.

Deadly assault with a deadly weapon. Convicted of misdemeanor threat -- pardon me, theft of property in 2013. In 2016, he faced unlawful possession of weapons charge involving rifles and shotguns in New Jersey, pleading to a lesser charge. It does appear that he used some sort of a long gun in this shooting.

He was killed. The man who stopped him, Jack Wilson. He is a volunteer security guard here at the church. He owns a local shooting range. He trained many members of this congregation to react in this kind of situation, so when the gunman opened fire, Jack Wilson reacted. Take a listen.


JACK WILSON, CHURCH VOLUNTEER SECURITY GUARD: I know he discharged two rounds and possibly a third round as he was going down. Because one round went towards the front of the sanctuary. When he -- after he shot Richard and Tony, he went and started towards the front of the sanctuary. And that's when I am -- I was able to engage him, and I fired one round.



KAFANOV: Because of that carnage yesterday, the pastor was not able to deliver his sermon. Tonight, Brianna, he gets his chance. This congregation is gathering to pray, to heal, to send a message of unity, Brianna.

KEILAR: They will need that sermon tonight. Lucy, thank you so much, in White Settlement, Texas.

Coming up, an apparent new diplomatic push by Russian President Vladimir Putin. What's really behind his invitation to President Trump to visit Moscow?



KEILAR: The White House isn't saying much about the weekend phone call between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the Kremlin is.

CNN's Brian Todd is here with the details. And, Brian, what's the Kremlin saying about this Putin-Trump phone call?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the Kremlin is using phrases like mutual respect, normalizing relations, and ensuring global security to describe Putin's call with President Trump. Independent analysts are using words like deceit and manipulation to describe what's going on.



TODD (voice-over): Tonight, the Russian President making an apparent new diplomatic push with President Trump.

In a phone call over the weekend, Vladimir Putin, again, inviting Trump to Moscow. Putin thanked Trump for America's help in thwarting a terrorist plot in Saint Petersburg. The call was initiated by the Russians. The Kremlin issued a readout of the on Sunday. The White House didn't issue a readout until today and didn't say much.

HEATHER CONLEY, DIRECTOR OF THE EUROPE PROGRAM, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: This is all about Vladimir Putin shaping the narrative of the U.S.-Russian relationship. At his end of year press conference, his 4-1/2-hour conference, he was using the exact same words that President Trump was using to describe the impeachment inquiry, the witch-hunt.

TODD (voice-over): Putin's grand invitation is for Trump to attend the Victory Day celebration in Moscow in May, marking the 75th anniversary of the allies' World War II victory over Nazi Germany. Trump previously said he'd be interested in going.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's very big -- it's a very big deal celebrating the end of the war, et cetera, et cetera. It's very big deal, so I appreciate the invitation. So I'll see if I can do it, but I would love to go if I could.

TODD (voice-over): Analysts are concerned tonight about the possible optics of President Trump admiring Russian military hardware on parade.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Given the fact that we know Russia is already actively trying to interfere in the 2020 election. We know for sure they interfered, too, fairly well in the 2016 and the 2018 midterms. So is it appropriate for the President to go now, given all that context? And I would say, no, it's not.

TODD (voice-over): And Putin continues to flex his military muscle tonight. Russian state media says its new hypersonic missile known as Avangard has been placed into combat duty. Putin says the missile can fly about a mile per second.

JEFFREY EDMONDS, FORMER DIRECTOR FOR RUSSIA, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: The real challenge posed by Avangard is the speed in which it moves and the fact that it's maneuverable and also difficult to detect. And so, you have something coming in very fast that's able to evade defenses that you may not know about until the last minute, and that really poses a certain -- you know, a very real challenge for U.S. defenses.

TODD (voice-over): Avangard was part of a plan for sophisticated new weapons that Putin unveiled last year, including an underwater drone that could carry a nuclear warhead from a submarine.

TRUMP: President Putin, thank you very much.

TODD (voice-over): But tonight, there are broader concerns about the Trump-Putin relationship, not only because of Putin's attempts to interfere in America's elections in 2016 and 2018 and warnings about what he'll do in the next election but also "The Washington Post" reporting that Trump believed a false narrative Putin was pushing, that Ukraine was behind the election interference campaigns.

CONLEY: He wants to personalize this relationship. He wants to separate and divide the rest of the United States government and President Trump, and he continues to do this with friendly calls, support.


TODD: Analysts are now worried about the moves Putin might pull in the months ahead. They say he might not only continue to try to divide Trump from his domestic political advisors, but he might also try to divide Trump from his allies abroad. Experts say we should pay particular attention to any attempts Putin might make in 2020 to pull Turkey away from NATO -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Brian Todd, thank you so much.

Coming up, hate crime charges and new details of anti-Semitic writings in the wake of a chilling Hanukkah stabbing spree.



KEILAR: Happening now, charged with hate. The man accused of a vicious knife attack at a Hanukkah celebration faces a federal judge and new hate crime charges. Authorities say they found anti-Semitic writings at his home.

Inside the aid freeze. The President is facing renewed scrutiny over the Ukraine policy that led to his impeachment. New reporting reveals his top policy advisors desperately tried and failed to stop him.