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White House Official: President Trump Ordered the Ukraine Aid Freeze; U.S. Military Warns Anyone Who Attempts To Overrun Iraq Embassy; Sanders Lead Dems In Fundraising Ahead Of Iowa Caucuses; Report: Unredacted Documents Reveal White House Budget Official Told Pentagon that Trump Gave "Clear Direction" to Hold Ukraine Aid; New Security Measures in Wake of New York Anti-Semitic Attacks, Family of Stabbing Victim Speaks Out; North Korea Releases New Propaganda Video Amid Kim's New Threats. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 2, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you would have seen Australia's Prime Minister, Scott Morrison being heckled by residents at one of these townships. It was absolutely decimated. So, as I say, Jake, Australia is suffering.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Anna Coren, thank you. And stay safe. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, direct order newly unredacted documents from inside the Trump administration reportedly revealed that the freeze on military aid to Ukraine was a, quote, clear direction for President Trump. Tonight, Democrats claim its new evidence for their impeachment case.

McConnell's plan. All eyes right now on the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell expected to speak tomorrow on the Senate floor and possibly clear the fog. Currently, shrouding the President's impeachment trial. Could Republicans proceed without the Articles of Impeachment?

Fundraising frenzy, just over a month before the Iowa caucuses, Democratic presidential candidates announce their latest critical cash hauls. Who raised the most money? Who raised the least? And which candidate is dropping out of the race?

And man of his word? President Trump offers new praise for North Korea's Kim Jong-un, despite new threats from the dictator. Tonight, newly released propaganda video may belie Kim's frustration.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in "The Situation Room."

A new twist tonight in the Ukraine scandal at the heart of President Trump's impeachment. The National Security Website Just Security is reporting its review of unredacted Trump administration documents found that a White House budget official told the Pentagon that the order to freeze U.S. military aid to Ukraine came directly from President Trump.

Democrats are seizing on the new revelation with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling it a devastating blow to GOP plans for the President's impeachment trial. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just tweeted moments ago, blasting the President saying he, quote, engaged in unprecedented total obstruction of Congress, hiding these e-mails and all other documents.

We'll talk about that more with Senator Bob Casey. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's get some more on these e-mails that reportedly pinned the decision to freeze Ukraine aid directly on the President. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju is joining us. Manu, what more do these redacted documents reveal?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we just got a statement from the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who's jumping on these released documents that have been reported by Just Security, this website, reporting on national security matters.

And what Schiff says is, quote, the disclosure of these incriminating documents reinforces the need for all these materials to be produced and a fair trial in the Senate cannot occur without that. Now, these e-mails that have been reviewed by Just Security essentially shows how the concerns happening within the administration about the withholding of this military aid to Ukraine and makes it very clear that it was the President who had instructed this hold to be placed on the military aid, even though it had been appropriated by Congress, roughly $400 million for that country as it was fighting a war with Russia.

Now, in this e-mail from August 30th from the top White House budget official Mike Duffy to Pentagon's acting comptroller Elaine McCusker, Duffy says this, quote, clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold. POTUS, being of course, the President of the United States. And that e-mail came on August 30th, which is the same day as Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo actually met with President Trump to discuss the hold.

Now, at the same time this report shows that there were concerns raised by McCusker, the Pentagon comptroller, acting Pentagon comptroller, who had concerns in July 25th, the same day that President Trump talked to President Zelensky of Ukraine, urging Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens. And she had concerns that withholding this aid could potentially violate federal law, requiring the administration to appropriate money that had been -- spent money that had been appropriated by Congress. That concern had been revealed throughout some time, the two months or so in which this aid had been when would.

Now, all these documents had been blocked and prevented from coming to Capitol Hill. It was part of the House impeachment inquiry. But a redacted version of these documents were released because of a lawsuit that had been filed by an outside organization which got some redacted copies of these e-mails and these blacked out lines, behind these blacked out lines, Just Security is reporting about what they are seeing behind these blacked out lines.

Now, Democrats not only Adam Schiff but the House Speaker jumping all over this as well. She twitted earlier today Trump engaged in unprecedented, total obstruction of Congress, hiding these e-mails and all other documents and his top aides from the American people. His excuse was a phony complaint about the House process. What's the excuse now? Why won't Trump and McConnell allow a fair trial?

[17:05:05]

But expect pushback from Republicans who say the Democrats, if they wanted this information, they should had gone to court to pursue that and try to enforce their subpoenas, Wolf.

BLITZER: Tomorrow, Manu, the Senate returns from recess as the President's impeachment trial clearly still remains very much in limbo right now. What do you expect there?

RAJU: Yes, we expect probably more of the two sides digging in, Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, will go to the floor shortly after noon tomorrow to convene the second session of the 116th Congress. Expect him to say that Senate will continue on its course of affirming judicial nominees of President Trump's and they will -- he will demand that the House Speaker turn over those Articles of Impeachment, as she is required to do, so the Senate can start its trial.

And if she decides not to turn over those Articles of Impeachment, then he's going to say we're going to carry on with our business of the Senate. And expect him also to dig in and say we're not going to agree to moving forward on witnesses and documents until after the opening arguments occur and then at that point they can make those decisions.

Democrats want that agreement about witnesses and documents locked in at the forefront, before the trial takes place. And expect Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, to go to the floor afterwards and demand Mitch McConnell listen to his own concerns, but we're probably going to see it, Wolf, more of an impasse. Two weeks and counting and perhaps there could be a resolution when all the senators return next week and Congress reconvenes.

But for the moment, two sides digging in on the President's impeachment trial in limbo. Wolf?

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. Lots of stake. Manu Raju, thank you. All of this clearly very much on the President's mind as he continues his holiday in his Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

Our White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez is in Florida for us. Boris, the impeachment drama clearly ratcheting up as the President's vacation is beginning to wind down.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. With lawmakers returning to Capitol Hill, sources close to the President tell us he is growing anxious. He's eager to get this Senate trial started. He wants his day in court, so to speak.

The President also confronted with some foreign policy challenges, not only with Iran, but with North Korea as well.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump railing against his impeachment, tweeting if this happened to a president who was a Democrat it would be considered the crime of the century. Sources tell CNN White House aides have kept in touch with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office during the holiday break. Though it's unclear how frequently those talks have taken place, Trump's legal team plotting various procedural steps that might force House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's hand as they wait for her to deliver Articles of Impeachment.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't really care. It doesn't matter.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): While publicly portraying ambivalence, sources say Trump has privately been restless, eager for a trial, quizzing allies and aides, concerning his legal strategy. This, as the White House faces threats from Iran and North Korea. The Pentagon issuing a strong warning that anyone who attempts to overrun the U.S. embassy in Iraq will, quote, run into a buzz saw after a siege on the embassy earlier this week by supporters of an Iran-backed militia.

MARK ESPER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: This obviously crossed the line for us.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Trump is also responding to North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

TRUMP: He likes me. I like him. We get along. He's representing his country. I'm representing my country. We have to do what we have to do. But he did sign a contract. He did sign an agreement. And I think he's a man of his word. So we're going to find out, but I think he's a man of his word.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): This, after Kim announced the world will witness a new strategic weapon and promised to deliver a Christmas gift to the United States.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: And, Wolf, back to impeachment, the President here at Mar-a- Lago has still been sort of figuring out his legal strategy. It's still fluid. The President quizzing allies and aides on exactly how he should move forward and whether he should add to his legal team, bolstering who's already on board. Wolf?

BLITZER: Boris Sanchez in Florida for us. Thank you very much.

Let's get the latest now on the situation over at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Our Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon is in the Iraqi capital for us. Arwa, very strong warning from the Pentagon to these Iranian-backed militia protesters who tried to storm the compound. What's the latest?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they also have had some pretty confident statements as well, believing they delivered their message straight to America's door in their attempts to storm that embassy compound. The situation now is normal in as much as it can be, although the embassy has suspended its dealings at this stage.

And you also now finally have the Iraqi security forces that have formed a perimeter around it and are manning the checkpoints. Meaning that unless you have a proper badge or some sort of an escort, you can't get through.

[17:10:08]

But these group of protesters, Wolf, they're not your ordinary protesters. They make up or are supporters of this Shia paramilitary force, who is extensibly part of the Iraqi security forces but also is very heavily funded, supported, trained and in some cases even provided with weapons by Iran, and how this was able to unfold really goes to the very crux of one of the many dilemmas that Iraq faces in dealing with this entity because they're not only militarily very powerful but they are politically very powerful as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: Amazing what's going on. So sad, 17 years after this war started back in 2003 it's still a crisis right now. Huge, huge casualties potentially at stake right now. We'll continue to watch it.

Arwa, be careful over there. Arwa Damon in Baghdad for us.

Let's get more on all of this right now. Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is joining us. He's a key member of the Finance Committee. Senator, thanks so much for joining us. I want to get to the situation in Iraq in a few moments. But let's start with Ukraine right now. These unredacted e-mails that we're seeing for the first time between the Pentagon, and the Office of Management and Budget reviewed by Just Security, that organization.

They show that the Pentagon officials were extremely concerned about the hold-up of U.S. military aid to Ukraine. They were worried it might even be illegal. And then in August 30th e-mail an OMB official says there is, and I'm quoting now, clear direction from POTUS, President of the United States, to hold. How significant are these e- mails?

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): Well, Wolf, I think these e-mails give new urgency to the question of who should testify in this Senate trial upcoming. And it's interesting that the Just Security reports point specifically to an individual named in the letter that Senator Schumer sent to Senator McConnell on the 15th of December, which is Mr. Duffey, who is the national security person at the Office of Management and Budget. He should testify because he has direct knowledge about the President giving the order, direct knowledge that's evident in that e-mail that's now disclosed. In addition to the testimony provided or summarized, I should say, in the House Intelligence report, way back in July, even before the August 30th e-mail, way back in July, there was real concern about two things, or two issues, I should say, that the President himself should have been concerned about. What will the delay in the aid or the holding up of the aid, what will that do to the -- our national security interests? And secondly, is it legal or not legal? And unfortunately, the President wasn't concerned about either of those. People around him in the administration were concerned about the aid itself as well as the legality.

BLITZER: Yes. The money, the appropriation -- the nearly $400 million was appropriated by the House and the Senate, signed into law by the President of the United States and withholding that money was considered, at least by some over at the Pentagon, potentially an illegal act. That's why they kept saying the President personally authorized it. We're going to just continue to follow this part of the story.

As you know, Senator, the Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer in the Senate, he says Trump administration witnesses need to come and testify about this new information, other information. Do you have a strategy to convince at least a few of your Republican colleagues in the Senate to back up this call for witnesses?

CASEY: Well, Wolf, I think that's going to be a determination that's made in terms of a strategy, that's going to be a determination that's made by the caucus. But I think Senator Schumer proposed something very reasonable. Four witnesses and then documents that are relevant to two basic issues. The question of the aid to Ukraine and the importance of that aid and also the second issue, which is how these decisions were made.

So, having witnesses that correspond to the national security and the appropriations questions are critical. But I think Chuck Schumer presented a very reasonable request to Majority Leader McConnell. Apparently, there's been no response yet. Maybe tomorrow leader McConnell will outline that on the Senate floor, his response. But I think the request for reasonable to have a trial, which is fair, and if there's nothing to hide, as the President said over and over again in the memorandum of the conversation with the Ukrainian President, if there's nothing to hide, why won't we put it on the table, let the Senate, as the triers of fact and the jury, make a determination based upon a complete record?

[17:15:00]

BLITZER: Well, you have 47 Democrats assuming all of you hold firmly and agree, you need four Republicans to join you get to 51, a simple majority. Is that doable?

CASEY: I think it is. I think there are some Republicans that have expressed concern about the process, have expressed concern about the denial of the request for witnesses. So I'm hoping that they will -- in keeping with not just their oath of office, but the oath they will have to take that I will take as well as jurors in this Senate trial, which is to do, quote, impartial justice according to the constitution and laws. So to do that, to discharge that duty that we have, you've got to have this information so the record is complete.

BLITZER: You expect the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to win any concessions by withholding formally, officially withholding these two articles of impeachment or could this delay backfire on Democrats?

CASEY: Well, we'll see in terms of timing, but I think what the Speaker has articulated is having information about the process before she puts her House managers or before she finalizes the list of House managers because the evidence presented to the Senate will be presented by House managers. It's difficult to make that decision about which House members will be managers until you have a sense of the process in the trial. So I think she's made a reasonable judgment here.

And I'm sure when she presents the articles, we'll have a trial that's ready to go. But it's critical that we have information from the four witnesses I think that Senator Schumer outlined. Presumably, those in national security, meaning, Mr. Bolton and his team as well as Mr. Mulvaney in the budget appropriations process.

BLITZER: Senator Bob Casey, thanks so much for joining us.

CASEY: Thanks Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. A quick programming note for our viewers before we move on from impeachment. Joining us -- Please join us this Sunday for a special look back at the suspense of the drama from the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. This very timely CNN Special Report, "The Trial of William Jefferson Clinton" coming up Sunday night 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Up next, new numbers in the money race among the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Whose campaign is in the best shape with a month to go until the Iowa caucuses?

And later, North Korea release a new video of Kim Jong-un riding a white house on a revered mountain. So what's the message behind the pictures?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:22:31]

BLITZER: Newly released fund-raising numbers show some important trends in the Democratic presidential race with Iowa's first of the nation presidential caucuses just over one month away. CNN Political Reporter Arlette Saenz is joining us from Iowa right now, where Joe Biden just finished an event. First of all, Arlette, tell us about the money raise.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Wolf, these Democratic contenders are showing they're going to have the resources for what could be a very long primary fight. And leading the pack is Bernie Sanders. He announced raising a massive $34.5 million in the last quarter of 2019. He's really in a league of his own and large part powered by that small dollar base of donors that he has.

We've also learned today that Joe Biden raised $22.7 million which is a bit of a rebound from a sluggish quarter during the third fundraising quarter. Andrew Yang also with some impressive figures at $16.5 million. We're still waiting for Elizabeth Warren to release her numbers. But our colleague Jeff Zeleny caught up with Bernie Sanders to talk about this a little bit. Take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, what is important to me is not just the large amount of money. That is important. What is more important in this campaign so far, we have received over 5 million campaign contributions which is more than any candidate in the history of the United States. And that tells me the kind of grassroots support that we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: Now, Joe Biden has relied heavily on big-dollar fund-raisers, but his campaign says that he's actually seen an uptick in online donations, and they also view President Trump's attacks on Joe Biden as being a fund-raising boost. And Biden talked about those attacks from the President here at an event in Anamosa just a short while ago. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He will do everything that he can, possibly, to bait me. And, by the way, whomever the -- if I'm not your nominee, if I were to drop dead tomorrow, we're going to have another -- and, by the way, I may not be the nominee anyway. But if I were to drop out of the race tomorrow, guess what? Do you think he's not going to go after and lie about and misrepresent, and deal in the dirt with whomever the candidate is? He'll come up with something in their lives. But the difference with me is I've taken it now for eight months, and I'm still winning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: And Wolf, one other note tonight, the Democratic field is getting a little bit smaller. Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro announced today that he is suspending his presidential campaign.

[17:25:02]

There are now 14 Democratic candidates running for president here in Iowa. So we are 32 days out from the caucuses. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes. We get closer and closer. Arlette Saenz in Iowa for us, thank you.

Coming up, more on the newly revealed e-mail showing a White House budget official telling the Pentagon that President Trump gave clear direction to hold aid to Ukraine. Stay with us. You're in "The Situation Room."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:30:03]

BLITZER: We're closely following new developments connected with the impeachment of President Trump. Unredacted documents reviewed and published on the Web site, Just Security, including e-mail from an Office of Management and Budget official informing the Pentagon the hold on military aid to Ukraine was at the, quote, clear direction of the President.

Let's ask our experts about the impact of this late revelation. Nancy Pelosi, Bianna, she tweeted this. Trump engaged in unprecedented total obstruction of Congress, hiding these e-mails, all other documents, and his top aides from the American people. How much is this going to boost Democratic efforts to get witnesses to appear at a Senate trial?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look, we have yet to hear from Nancy Pelosi, and, no doubt, there's been pressure on her as to when she would transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate. And all along, she has been saying, I'm not doing so until we get a clear sense of what this trial will look like, specifically whether or not we're going to hear from key witnesses.

And this just gives her extra ammunition for making that argument because you're seeing, once again, direct linkage, not only to the President but also those around him, specifically Duffey and Mick Mulvaney, who were well aware of the President's desire to withhold that money.

And you really see the tension between the top Pentagon officials and the comptroller there at the Pentagon and OMB official Duffey, who e- mailed that this came directly from the President the very day that -- hours, perhaps, after his Chief of Staff, his Secretary of State and his Secretary of Defense tried to plead with him in the Oval Office why it was crucial to release that aid, obviously, to no avail. And thus, this e-mail was sent.

So we don't know when she will transmit those articles, but this does give her more leverage in the sense of this being so open now.

BLITZER: That's an important point. And, Michael Gerhardt, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff, he calls these documents deeply incriminating. He says it shows that the Pentagon was very worried that the President of the United States, potentially, was violating the law by withholding this military assistance to Ukraine.

MICHAEL GERHARDT, BURTON CRAIGE DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF JURISPRUDENCE, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL: Yes. And in fact, I think Adam Schiff is exactly right.

We're finding a pattern, and the pattern is that every time there's a new revelation made, it reinforces, it strengthens, the case of the House of Representatives for impeaching the President. It strengthens the support for the two articles.

And the other thing it does -- the other thing the pattern does is it strengthens the case for witnesses in the Senate. We now know that the President has, of course, ordered these witnesses not to appear. They seem to be in possession of knowledge that is hurtful to the President.

It hurts the President. It does not exonerate the President. And the strength -- and the strength for the request made by Senator Schumer to have witnesses is actually increased right now for the Senate.

BLITZER: As a result of that. You know, Samantha Vinograd, what stands out to you when you compare the previously redacted documents and you compare them to these new unredacted documents, the same documents?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the Department of Justice appears to have initially redacted the most damning content from what they released.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, federal agencies, like the Department of Justice, have to comply with lawyer requests unless content meets certain statutorily-defined exemptions like harming national security, privacy, deliberative processes, and other matters.

What it appears from the now unredacted e-mails is that the Department of Justice, instead, redacted content that was harmful to the President and harmful to the people closest to him in his inner circle. For example, the fact that legal concerns were raised, the fact that OMB lied to the American people and to Congress about the impact that withholding these funds would have on national security.

And so, I have real questions about whether the Department of Justice is complicit in some way in some kind of cover-up and is really focused on protecting all of the President's yes men rather than complying with the law.

BLITZER: And it's interesting as the fiscal year was ending, getting closer to the end of September, the deadline for releasing the money getting closer and closer, Michael Duffey, the political appointee from the Trump administration at OMB, tried to blame the Pentagon for the whole thing.

He wrote this. If you are unable to obligate the funds, it will have been DOD's decision that caused any impoundment of funds. The Pentagon official then wrote back, quote, you can't be serious, I am speechless. What does that tell you?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, it certainly underscores the tension between OMB and the Pentagon. And it appears to be an effort by the OMB to cover its track since, shift the blame for the freeze on aid to the Pentagon, even though the Pentagon had repeatedly raised questions about the legality of the freeze on that aid.

They had warned that they would not be able to obligate those funds if that freeze continued. They had until the end of the fiscal year to obligate those funds as they had been appropriated by Congress.

[17:35:09]

And you're now hearing Democrats say that these revelations really reinforce, as we gear up for the trial in the Senate, the need to have some of those key witnesses testify, including Duffey, including Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. And they're also reiterating that it's documents like these that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress that may contain more information about who was directly involved in that decision-making.

And also, it's important to point out one of the key takeaways is that the Pentagon, not only did they warn about the impact of that hold on that aid but they also repeatedly accused OMB of mischaracterizing the process. So you're really seeing those tensions in that exchange.

BLITZER: They certainly are. You know, Bianna, the Democrats, they really want to see witnesses appear, John Bolton especially, the President's former national security adviser. But what good options do the Democrats have right now, if there is going to be a Senate trial, to see those witnesses appear?

GOLODRYGA: The option is that we get more revelatory news like we're getting right now that puts extra pressure on Republican senators, specifically Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, who've already said that they are not very comfortable with the way Mitch McConnell has addressed this in saying that he is in lockstep with the White House.

But you know, these are really damning e-mails. And if more information does come out over the next few weeks, you're going to see more pressure on Republicans. That having been said, McConnell, of all people, can withstand pressure. He has done it in the past, and he knows this isn't a popularity contest. He wants to make this trial fast and quick, and he knows how damning a lot of these witnesses could be for the President.

And what also strikes me after reading these e-mails and then with the information we now know is when we think back to Mick Mulvaney when he was in the briefing room and everyone was bewildered as to why he basically admitted that it was a quid pro quo and that we should just get over it, one has to assume that he knew that information like this would be coming out, and and there was a direct trail to both him and his deputies.

So this could have been a way for him to set the stage for what was to come and what we're now continuing to see on almost a daily basis.

VINOGRAD: And just --

BLITZER: I'm told, Michael Gerhardt, the White House fears John Bolton, the former national security adviser, maybe the most. Is it realistic to think he will show up and be a witness in the Senate?

GERHARDT: I don't think it's realistic at all. Keep in mind that the President is trying to stop Ambassador Bolton from testifying. He's trying to stop all these other witnesses from testifying. And I think it's becoming quite clear why he's trying to stop them --

because they don't have exonerating evidence. They have, actually, evidence that will incriminate him further. And that's a problem for the President.

There seems to be substantial evidence right now reinforcing the Democrats' case in the House that the President of the United States has been obstructing Congress and also trying to prevent any inquiry that would show the President is guilty as charged.

BLITZER: Everybody, stand by. There's more we're following right now as investigators look into yet another anti-Semitic attack in New York City. The family of a man severely injured during an attack on Hanukkah calls for people to stand up and stop the hatred.

[17:38:16]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As investigators look into yet another anti-Semitic attack in New York City, the family of a man injured during the stabbings at a Hanukkah celebration says the man's status is now dire. This comes as authorities just held a news conference to announce new security measures in the community where the Hanukkah attack took place.

Let's go to CNN's Brynn Gingras. She's on the scene for us. Brynn, what more did we just learn from this news conference?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, the Rockland County District Attorney says it's going to bring its case against that suspect, Grafton Thomas, to a grand jury tomorrow. They do expect an indictment to be handed down in this case.

Meanwhile, we did get an update from the police chief of Ramapo here about the investigation that's continuing at this point. They said they still don't have a clear motive as to why Grafton Thomas chose that particular home, the rabbi's home, to carry out this vicious attack on the seventh night of Hanukkah.

They also say Thomas is actually familiar to them, to police. They said they actually interviewed Thomas and his mother while on -- they were investigating a previous incident, a stabbing of a Jewish man in Monsey in November, though they were clear that they haven't yet made a connection between that incident and Thomas at this point.

And at this news conference, we also heard from the family of the victim that was most critically injured in this incident, Josef Neumann. Their family members, their -- his daughter, essentially, says their father is in a coma. He hasn't woken up since this attack.

And I want to show you a picture that they released of him in the hospital. And it's graphic, I want to warn your viewers. It is extremely horrific to see the injuries that he sustained and that is why this family said they released this picture.

They, essentially, say if there's anything good to come of this, they hope that his -- their father, in the dire condition that he is in, will have some change in the community. Take a listen.

[17:45:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICKY KOHEN, DAUGHTER OF STABBING VICTIM: Guys, I'm begging you, if you are watching this, please stand up and stop this hatred. It cannot keep going on. We want our kids to go to school and feel safe. We want to go to our synagogues and feel safe. We want to go to groceries and malls and feel safe!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRAS: And as we talk about safety, there are officials that are really stepping up safety measures all across the state when it comes to state police. Also, in New York City, we're seeing stepped-up patrols. And the town even announced here, in this county, they're going to be adding more cameras just for security measures.

And this, as we're learning, there have been 15 incidents, anti- Semitic, vicious attacks that have happened just within the last month, the most recent one happening yesterday, Wolf, on New Year's Day, against a Jewish man who was punched in the throat. And so, these security measures welcomed by this community as they hope and ask to do more and hope that these incidents stop -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Simply awful. Brynn Gingras, thank you very much for that update. We'll, of course, continue to stay on top of this story.

Also coming up, a new propaganda video of North Korea's from Kim Jong- un coincides with new threats from the North Korean dictator.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:59]

BLITZER: Right now, we're following new threats and new propaganda video from North Korea. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us. Brian, some tough new talk from the dictator Kim Jong-un.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some tough talk, Wolf, frustration on the part of Kim and some real anticipation tonight. Military and intelligence officials from Seoul to Washington are now watching closely to see if Kim is frustrated enough to engage in a dangerous provocation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): The new year brings bold strokes of bravado from North Korea's Supreme Leader.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

TODD (voice-over): As his propaganda arm releases a new video of a recent visit Kim Jong-un made to the revered Mount Paektu on a white stallion, complete with sound effects of the horse's gallop. The dictator brashly declares that his country will no longer be bound by his self-declared halt to the testing of its nuclear bombs and long- range missiles.

As the world sees a fresh video of Kim's officers standing in the water then Kim posing with his wife, Ri Sol-ju, in a snowbank stream, we also get an ominous new warning from the despot -- the world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future.

What kind of weapon could that be?

BRUCE KLINGNER, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW FOR NORTHEAST ASIA, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Many of us are expecting some kind of ICBM launch, whether it's an existing missile that they have or a variant or perhaps even a new ICBM like solid fuel.

They could do additional submarine launches. They could do land-based medium-range. They could do intermediate-range missiles. They could, with an ICBM, finally demonstrate that they have a re-entry vehicle capability that would protect a warhead as it comes back into the Earth's atmosphere.

TODD (voice-over): Despite the cheerful propaganda of Kim emerging from a photo-op on Mount Paektu with soldiers frantically applauding, analysts say the young leader is likely frustrated tonight that his nuclear diplomacy with President Trump has not paid off for him.

JESSICA LEE, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW IN THE EAST ASIA PROGRAM, QUINCY INSTITUTE FOR RESPONSIBLE STATECRAFT: There has been no lifting of sanctions. There has been no progress in ending the Korean War. And there's been no progress in having regular diplomatic negotiations without it being cut short. And so, frankly, Kim Jong-un doesn't have much to show for right now.

TODD (voice-over): Venting that frustration, Kim's regime imposed a deadline for more progress toward a nuclear weapons deal with the U.S. to be made by the end of 2019 or else. The regime threatened a so- called Christmas gift to America, which many experts believed would be the testing of a long-range missile.

That hasn't come yet. And even with his latest new year's threats, analysts point out Kim did not say he is walking away from diplomacy with President Trump.

LEE: What Kim Jong-un has done by signaling assertiveness and aggressiveness but also leaving the door for diplomacy is to say, look, we want to negotiate as much as you guys do.

TODD (voice-over): And the President, even as Kim's latest threats were trickling in from Pyongyang, said he is still banking on his personal relationship with Kim.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He likes me, I like him, we get along. I think he's a man of his word, so we're going to find out. But I think he's a man of his word.

TODD (voice-over): But some believe if Kim tests a long-range missile soon, Trump and his team should no longer be so accommodating.

KLINGNER: The U.S. should stop our own self-imposed constraints on military exercises. We have canceled at least 13 exercises. That's degraded U.S. deterrence and defense capabilities.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Analysts say if Kim Jong-un does test as long-range missile sometime soon, a big challenge for the Trump team is going to be to get tough with Kim without overreacting. One way to thread that needle, they say, the Trump administration could target Kim with specific sanctions like going after the Chinese banks that are suspected of laundering his money for him.

Wolf, we'll see if they can do that.

BLITZER: And I understand, Brian, you've been hearing that Kim is really sensing some potential vulnerability with President Trump at this very moment?

TODD: Right, Wolf. Analysts have been telling me and a source familiar with North Korean leadership's mindset has told our colleagues in Asia that Kim Jong-un and his inner circle now view President Trump as politically vulnerable because of the looming impeachment trial and his re-election campaign. And that's why Kim has been behaving so aggressively with all these recent statements.

[17:55:06]

BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed. All right, Brian Todd, reporting for us. Thank you.

Coming up, Democrats seize newly revealed administration e-mails that show -- reportedly show President Trump directly ordered a freeze on Ukrainian aid. New details on the latest twist in the impeachment drama, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:59:58]

BLITZER: Happening now, clear direction. There's new evidence that the order to hold U.S. aid to Ukraine came directly from President Trump, and it's giving Democrats fresh ammunition tonight as they cry cover-up.