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Access Revoked; Lewandowski In Limbo; Philadelphia Standoff; NASCAR Star Plane Crash; Rep. Ted Lieu (D) California Interviewed About Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib Visit To Israel; Trump's Attacks On "The Squad"; Trump Raises Conspiracy Theory, Falsely Suggests Voter Fraud Cost Him A Victory In New Hampshire In 2016; Trump Blames News Media And Federal Reserve As Shaky Economic Indicators Spark Recession Worries; Philly Police Says, Suspect Accused Of Shooting Six Officers Had Assault-Style Rifle, Handgun During Harrowing Siege; Private Plane Carrying NASCAR Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Crashes in Tennessee; O'Rourke Restarts Campaign After El Paso Mass Shooting. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 15, 2019 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Tonight, Mr. Trump is attacking the lawmakers again as Democrats call the ban an insult to democratic values.

Lewandowski in limbo. As President Trump is about to appear with his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is slap with a subpoena in the House impeachment investigation. We're learning how the White House may brazenly try to block Lewandowski from testifying.

Philadelphia standoff. Police reveal new details on the man accused of shooting six police officers during a harrowing gun battle that lasted for hours. We're told he had an assault-style long gun and a long rap sheet.

And NASCAR star plane crash. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was onboard during a fiery runway accident in Tennessee. We're going to tell you what we're learning about his condition and the crash.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news.

President Trump is firing off new attacks against two Democratic congresswomen while praising Israel's stunning decision to ban the lawmakers from entering the country. Top Democrats are rallying behind representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, members of the so-called freshman squad calling the move beneath the dignity of Israel and the office of the U.S. president.

Also, breaking, new subpoenas in the House impeachment investigation, the Judiciary Committee serving former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as well as a former White House official subpoenas. Sources tell CNN that administration officials are considering invoking executive privilege to block Lewandowski's testimony, even though he never worked in the White House.

I'll get reaction from Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu. He's on the Judiciary and the Foreign Affairs Committees. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, the president is on his way to a rally in New Hampshire, where you are. He spoke to reporters just a little while ago about Israel's stunning decision to ban two U.S. congresswomen from entering the country.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. President Trump just confirmed to reporters a few moment moments ago that he has spoken with Israelis about that government's decision to block Representative Ilhan Omar and Representative Rashida Tlaib from entering Israel on a trip that they had planned in the coming days. The president says he supports that decision. And as you know, Wolf, the president has gone after the lawmakers known as the squad at rallies in the past. We'll see if he does it here at this rally in New Hampshire tonight. But the president is essentially telling the Israelis if those lawmakers try to go to Israel, they should send them back.


ACOSTA (voice-over): President Trump is reigniting his culture war with the democratic congresswomen of color known as The Squad.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it would be a terrible thing, frankly, for Israel to let these two people who speaks so badly about Israel come in. And they have become amazingly the face of the Democrats.


ACOSTA: The president is now supporting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to block Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering Israel, tweeting, "They hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. They are a disgrace."

But that's not true. The congresswomen have never said they hate Israel and all Jewish people. The president's tweet came just before a statement from Netanyahu, laying out his reason to bar the congresswomen, saying, "Their plan is only to damage Israel and to foment against Israel."


TRUMP: I think my social media statement pretty well speaks for itself. I feel that they are so anti-Israel, so anti-Jewish. Again, if other people made that statement, they would have been held to pay. So - but I did speak to people over their account.


ACOSTA: Before the president's tweet, the White House denied Mr. Trump was urging Netanyahu to ban the congresswomen, saying that was inaccurate. Democrats are railing against the move.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): It's an insult to the American people. Representative Tlaib and Representative Omar are equal members of the United States Congress.


ACOSTA: It is Mr. Trump's latest attack on Omar after some of his supporters chanted she should be sent back to her native country of Somalia at a rally last month.


TRUMP: And obviously and importantly Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.

CROWD: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!

And she talked about the evil Israel and it's all about the Benjamins. Not a good thing to say.


ACOSTA: In response to Israel's decision, Omar fired back, saying in a statement, "The irony of the only democracy in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation."

[18:05:07] Both Omar and Tlaib, who is Palestinian American, have drawn criticism for supporting a movement to boycott Israel over some of its policies.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): I can tell you they're all around college campuses. There are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, all different kinds of backgrounds who are pushing back against racist policies in Israel, because they see that the human rights violations of children being detained, the fact that my grandmother who lives in the West Bank right now does not have equality. She doesn't have freedom of travel.


ACOSTA: But even the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC opposes Netanyahu's decision, saying "We believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally, Israel, first-hand."

Democrats say the president's push for Israel to ban the congresswomen, is nothing more than a distraction from wobbly week on Wall Street that raise Concerns, a recession could be on the horizon.


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We saw him go off the rails yesterday. Now today it's this. It will be something tomorrow and the more the heat gets cranked up and the more this economy softens, the less he's going to be able to keep his stuff together.


ACOSTA: One thing to keep in mind about the president's attacks on The Squad, they are tactical. A Republican source in the White House told me earlier today, Wolf, that if Democrats are going to link the GOP, the Congressman Steve King, then they are going to link Democrats to The Squad.

One other thing we should point, the president, when he was talking to reporters on his way here to New Hampshire, he resurrected this old unproven conspiracy theory that thousands of people voted illegally here in New Hampshire in the 2016 election and that's the reason why he lost the state. Wolf, there is no evidence of that. It's another one of those false conspiracy theories that are spread around by the president. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta in Manchester, New Hampshire, for us. Thank you. Now, there's more breaking news on that new House subpoena for Corey Lewandowski as the former Trump campaign manager is set to appear with the president later tonight in New Hampshire.

Let's bring in our Congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly. Phil, what are you learning about the subpoena for Lewandowski and for another former Trump White House official?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, these are two central issues for the House Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, who have really ramped up their investigation, ramped up their pressure related to potential impeachment. Talking about how they may actually draft impeachment articles by the end of this year and this goes to the center of that investigation, potential obstruction of justice.

Corey Lewandowski and Rick Dearborn, former top White House official, were featured prominently in the Mueller report related to President Trump's efforts to curtail the Mueller investigation. In one instance, President Trump dictated, according to the Mueller report, to Corey Lewandowski directly, a message to be shared with then Attorney General Jeff Sessions about curtailing that investigation. A month later, the president checked in with Corey Lewandowski to see if it had been done. It had not. So Corey Lewandowski went to Rick Dearborn, who is the former chief of staff of then Senator Jeff Sessions. Wolf, what you know right now is that Democrats are very clear on this committee that they want to ramp up the investigations. This would call for a public hearing on September 17th. Wolf, they want to make that happen. The big question is, what will the White House do to try and stop it.

BLITZER: What are you learning about White House efforts on that point to try to stop this subpoena from being implemented?

MATTINGLY: Wolf, a really interesting element of this is Democrats have been urging Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to serve a subpoena to Corey Lewandowski, because he never served in the White House. You've seen numerous White House officials blocked from testimony or limited in their testimony, because they actually served in the executive branch. Corey Lewandowski never did. He was the campaign manager during 2016. He's been an informal adviser to the president, but shouldn't, based on past precedent, be covered by executive privilege.

What White House officials are considering right now, sources tell my colleague Kaitlan Collins, is possibly trying to apply executive privilege based on the fact that these conversations came from the president. Now, it's a long shot, but they are having discussions with the White House counsel, with the Justice Department to see if they can limit it in some way, shape, or form.

I've talked to Democrats about this. They don't think this is possible at all. But again, the White House taking every effort they possibly can to try and short circuit this investigation by House Democrats into the president's actions in the White House.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. It's a very sensitive issue indeed. Phil, thank you very much for that report.

Joining us now, Congressman Ted Lieu, he's a Democrat serves both the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm going to get to these subpoenas in just a moment or so. But first, President Trump just acknowledged that he did speak to people in Israel about the decision to ban two of your colleagues. These are elected members of the U.S. Congress. What message does this send?

LIEU: Thank you, Wolf, for your question. No American president should ever work with a foreign power to negatively affect Americans. Donald Trump should be defending the rights of Americans to travel to other countries. The fact that he has not done and has done exactly the opposite shows again that he is unfit to hold the high office of the presidency.

[18:10:00] BLITZER: And what about the Israeli government decision, Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to flip his ambassador here in Washington, Ron Dermer, a few weeks ago, said these two women would be welcome in Israel. But all of a sudden, today, that decision was reversed?

LIEU: The long-term security of Israel depends on bipartisan support. That's one reason that AIPAC came out opposing this decision. That's one reason that GOP leader Kevin McCarthy a few days earlier said that all members of Congress should be welcomed in Israel. This is going to hurt U.S./Israel relations. Israel security depends on bipartisan support now and in their future.

BLITZER: It's been only a month or so since President Trump told Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar to go back to where they came from, you remember that. And now he's heading to a rally in New Hampshire tonight. What are the potential repercussions of these continued attacks on these two women of color, the first two Muslim women in the U.S. Congress, by the way?

LIEU: So one repercussion is that Donald Trump is now nearing the lowest approval levels ever according to a Fox News poll that came out yesterday. We also know that according to another poll, more than majority of Americans think that the president is racist. And when he says, go back to Americans and tells them to go back from where they came from, that's simply a racist trope. People told me to go back to China or North Korea or Japan, and they tell that to me because of my race. So if I was white, I wouldn't hear that. So the president has been using a racist trope and for him to continue double down on this is very unfortunate.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, she's a Palestinian American. And she was also, by the way, planning on visiting her grandmother. She's got family living on the West Bank. She tweeted out this picture, by the way, of her grandmother and wrote, "The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a U.S. congresswoman, is a sign of weakness because the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening."

What's your reaction, Congressman, to that?

LIEU: Thank you for pointing that out. It is outrageous that the U.S. government is working against having an American go visit a relative in Israel. Ambassador Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, actually I think he should resign, because he doesn't seem to understand that his allegiance is to America, not to a foreign power. He should be defending the rights of Americans to travel to other countries and to visit their relatives.

BLITZER: Well, elaborate on that - Ambassador Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel. When you speak about an allegiance to a foreign power, what are you suggesting?

LIEU: Ambassador Friedman issued a statement today, supporting Israel's decision to ban two Americans from visiting Israel. That is an outrageous statement that Ambassador Friedman issued. He should be fighting to get these two Americans into Israel, one of which wants to visit her grandmother.

BLITZER: But the ambassador was basically saying what the president of the United States, his boss, was saying. LIEU: Well, I wish President Trump would resign. I don't think he's going to do that, but certainly, I can call on Ambassador Friedman to resign. His allegiance, again, is to America, not to a foreign power and to the Constitution of the United States, not to the president.

BLITZER: Let's turn to the work of your Judiciary Committee. The committee has just issued subpoenas, as you know, for Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager and another former White House official. How important is their testimony to illustrate the incidence of possible obstruction of justice in the Mueller report?

LIEU: Earlier today, Corey Lewandowski sent a tweet that emphasized he was a private citizen. I'm glad he did that, because executive privilege does not apply to private citizens. I look forward to him testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. And if you watched Robert Mueller's testimony, I had the opportunity to question Robert Mueller on this exact incident involving Corey Lewandowski. He was instructed by Donald Trump to tell Jeff Sessions to stop the investigation into Donald Trump and to focus it only on future elections. And Robert Mueller essentially confirmed all three elements of obstruction of justice were met during that incident.

BLITZER: Does the White House have any basis to invoke executive privilege over Corey Lewandowski, who never worked in the White House?

LIEU: They're just making stuff up. They would have no basis to do that. And the irony, really, is that Bill Barr has this view of imperial presidency, but because he's making really stupid legal arguments, he keeps losing in court, he's going to end up shrinking the powers of the president, because his courts are all going to rule against him.

BLITZER: Congressman Ted Lieu thanks so much for joining us.

LIEU: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we'll have more on President Trump versus the squad, as he's dragging Israel into his attacks on these two Muslim Congresswomen. How will it play in the presidential race?

And we'll have the latest on that fiery plane crash involving NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.


[18:19:25] BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news.

President Trump, now doubling down in his criticism of two U.S. congresswomen, as he praises Israel's decision to ban those lawmakers from entering the country, a decision he clearly influenced.

Let's bring in our analyst, David Chalian. The president tweeted earlier in the day, it would show great weakness if Israel allowed Representative Omar, Representative Tlaib to visit and he just weighed in this exchange he had with reporters on leaving New Jersey for New Hampshire. Listen to this.


QUESTION: -- Prime Minister Netanyahu about the congresswomen --

TRUMP: I don't want to comment about who I spoke to, but I think my social media statement pretty well speaks for itself. But I did speak to people over there, yes.


[18:20:07] BLITZER: How incredible is it to see a president of the United States lobby a foreign government to prevent two U.S. lawmakers from entering the country?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, pretty incredible, although I think we see pretty incredible things from President Trump with some frequency. I love that he first didn't want to acknowledge that he was talking to folks over there. And then couldn't resist but taking credit for talking to folks over there.

Listen, for the president of the United States to call a foreign ally and say, don't let two members of the United States Congress come into your country, it is, at its core, an un-American thing to do.

SHAWNA THOMAS, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "VICE NEWS": And also, even Republicans, I mean, Senator Marco Rubio tweeted, there was a little bit of a dig at the congresswomen in his tweet, but he also said, it's antithetical to like our kind of democracy to not let them into this country. And so, I think there's a lot of Republicans who see your point and don't like it when the president does this. But trust me, tonight, when he gets on that stage in New Hampshire, this will be something that he will tout. And it will make his audience go crazy. But it also helps, you know, it helps Congresswoman Tlaib and Omar also put forth their narrative too.

BLITZER: David Swerdlick, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was a strong supporter of Israel. She issued a statement that said this among other things. "Israel's denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness, and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel. The president's statements about the congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the office of the president."

It's a very strong statement on her part.

DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It's a strong statement, and just to underscore what both David and Shawna said, Wolf. I mean I think that's a two-part message from the speaker there. One part of it is the idea that, look, if you're Israel, you've got to look at this and say, aren't you strong enough to handle some of your critics coming over there to see your country and to stand up and say, look, we disagree with them, but we still welcome them into our country. And it's also a message that underscores this idea that, look, Congresswoman Tlaib and Congresswoman Omar are not just private citizens, they're not bureaucrats, they're elected members of the U.S. legislative body and they're being denied entry to U.S. ally soil.

BLITZER: And remember, you know, Rebecca, the president railed against these two women today, but it was only a month or so ago when he was railing against all four of these women, these members of Congress, women of color, suggesting that they should go back to where they came from, which was an ugly statement, to put it mildly.

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: And so it's clear, not only that he didn't feel any sort of remorse for that and wants to keep the focus on them, but it's very clear that the president feels that it is beneficial to him politically, not only to exploit these divisions and deepen them further, but to focus on these two women in particular, as sort of his political foils. He's been trying to make them essentially the face of the Democratic Party right now. And energize his base through that. And so, as Shawna said, I think we're going to hear much more of this from him tonight in New Hampshire at his rally, be very surprised if this is an applause line for his crowd there. And the president shows no remorse whatsoever that he has put these two women in this position, put them in the spotlight in this way.

BLITZER: In his remarks just a little while ago and his tweet earlier in the day, Shawna, he said, Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democratic Party and they hate Israel.

THOMAS: Yes. I mean, I think the question is, when he does that, does he elevate them? And because he is the president of the United States, there's a part of this where he does get to set the narrative. So in some ways, he is going to keep trying to make them the face of the Democratic Party. But also know that it might be an applause line tonight in his crowd, but other people are watching this. They're seeing two women of color who are being attacked once again by the president and that could also play into the Democratic base. That may energize people. It works on both sides.

BLITZER: You know, and she wanted to go in part back to Israel and the West Bank, Rashida Tlaib. She's Palestinian and American. She has family who lives there and she wanted to see her grandmother. "This woman right here is my city. She deserves to live in peace and with human dignity. I am who I am because of her. The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a U.S. congresswoman, is a sign of weakness because of the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening." That is what Rashida Tlaib posted.

CHALIAN: Which goes to Shawna's point, which is that you don't see these congresswomen backing down from this fight at all. And in fact, I think now, second time around with this, you're also getting a little less concerned from Democrats about this notion of them becoming the face of the Democratic Party and that that may, you know, where I think Democrats were a little concerned when he sent out his initial racist tweets about them being elevated.

[18:25:00] I think this time around it's like, oh, there's the president doing his thing again. They're not concerned about it playing politically against them in some dramatic way, because we've seen over the course of the last six weeks, it's not like Donald Trump's numbers have rebounded because he pursued this strategy. BLITZER: Everybody, stand by. There's a lot more we're going to be discussing, much more on the breaking news right after this.


[18:30:00] BLITZER: We're back with our analysts and our experts. Rebecca Buck, just before leaving New Jersey for New Hampshire for this big political rally tonight, the president revived one of his conspiracy theories. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: New Hampshire should have been won last time, except we had a lot of people come in at the last moment, which was a rather strange situation, thousands and thousands of people coming in from locations unknown.


BLITZER: He lost New Hampshire in the election in 2016. He's still bitter about that and he's suggesting maybe there were some irregularities.

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: And this never happened, Wolf. The president actually established a voter fraud commission in his administration, which ultimately disbanded, as you might remember. But before it disbanded, it found no evidence whatsoever of voter fraud anywhere, especially on the scale of buses and buses of people coming into New Hampshire to vote illegally, as New Hampshire residents.

So it's just a fantasy that the president has. And it's so irresponsible that the president of the United States would suggest this level of voter fraud with no evidence to support it, it really undermines people's faith in the institution.

BLITZER: Yes. At one point, he was suggesting during the transition, there may have been 3 to 5 million illegal votes cast.

SHAWNA THOMAS, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, VICE NEWS: That we also never found. I mean, I think the votes that were cast in New Hampshire that didn't go for the president, like there were 30,000 votes for Bill Weld as the libertarian candidate in 2016. That's part of why he lost New Hampshire. He doesn't need to look around.

But it is interesting that he is there, that is clearly they're making a play for New Hampshire. I believe Brad Parscale has said that he thinks New Hampshire is flappable, unclear if that's true. But this early on, if they are going there, they are having this rally in this new arena, they're clearly doing something.

BLITZER: Listen to this. We've put together some sound from the president. He clearly believes that the economy will be his single most important issue in trying to get re-elected. But listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Last year, for the first time in a decade, the United States was ranked the most competitive economy anywhere in the world.

I've made the economy so strong that nothing is going to stop us.

We have the number one economy on earth.

Our country now has the hottest economy anywhere in the world.

Our economy is fantastic.

We're the hottest economy in the world. We're by far the biggest economy in the world.

The economy is doing very well, by every measure. We are having probably the greatest economy that we've had anywhere, anytime, in the history of our country.

Our economy has been very powerful.

The economic numbers just came out. They're very, very good. Our country is doing unbelievably well.

We have a country that's the envy of the world from an economic standpoint.

We're very proud of the economy.


BLITZER: He clearly cares about the economy and certainly in terms of his hope for getting re-elected.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Republicans on Capitol Hill for the last couple of years would have loved to see him do that and nothing else for the last couple of years. They would always claimed that he didn't talk up the economy enough. He clearly is proud of it.

But here's the thing, if the economy begins to sour, it is the thing in every poll across every measure for him that undergirds anything that's positive for him. It keeps him afloat. It keeps his approval rating somewhat in range for him. That is the economy. If that falters, if Americans' perceptions about the economy begin to falter, that could have a very dangerous effect on this president's approval rating and therefore his prospects for re-election.

And I would just say, you saw what he did to Jay Powell, the fed chairman today, when he talked to reporters. If you think what you saw him do with the Mueller probe and what he tried to do with Bob Mueller and the way he would act out around that, if this economy begins going down, he understands that that is a bigger threat to his presidential re-election effort than the Mueller probe was. Just wait to see what he has in store.

BLITZER: Some of his aides are suggesting they're deeply worried, if there is a recession that could totally undermine his re-election effort.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, because on the economy is one of the few areas where the president polls above 50 percent. But even that is is tenuous, right, Wolf? On this day in President Obama's presidency, the stock market was up almost 45 percent from inauguration day. Right now, Trump is barely up to 30 percent since his inauguration day.

If you have a couple of more days like yesterday, where the market is down 3 percent, most analysts say on things that the president has said and done directly, you really have a rocky situation where people start to lose confidence in his ability to lead us going forward, especially when you have a situation where different interests in Europe, Asia and here are competing and going into an environment where you might have a situation where a recession accrues.

BLITZER: And, Shawna, the way he goes after the Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, calling him clueless, almost every day, he's blasting him. And, you know, the Federal Reserve is trying to do their job to keep the economy as smooth as possible without inflation.

THOMAS: Yes. I mean, this president doesn't seem to understand that his words do matter. People watch his words. The stock market can react to his words.


He has to be careful about that.

But I do think your point is interesting that maybe he will throw Jay Powell turned bus, basically, if things start to get worse and worse.

BLITZER: What do you think?

BUCK: Well, I just want to point out, Wolf, politicians like to say that Americans don't really care about the issues that we often discuss here in Washington, D.C. The economy is an issue every American voter will care about. Donald Trump knows that, all of the democrats running know that. That's why this is so important.

BLITZER: It's the economy, stupid, as we all remember from the '92 campaign.

Everybody, stand by. There's a lot more that we're going to need to discuss.

We're getting, by the way, some new information on the alleged gunman's arsenal during a shooting standoff with Philadelphia police overnight.



BLITZER: Breaking tonight. Philadelphia police are sharing new details of the harrowing eight-hour standoff with an accused shooter that left six police officers wounded. You saw some of the siege unfold right here in The Situation Room.

The police commissioner revealing that the suspect was armed with an assault-style rifle as well as a handgun and lots of ammunition.

CNN's Jason Carroll is joining us from Philadelphia right now. Jason, local officials held a rather emotional news conference today.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very much so. You know, at this point, we're following a number of developments. It turns out that the shooter had a lengthy criminal record, Wolf, going back for years, and now a number of officials are wondering why someone like this was ever allowed back out on the streets.


CARROLL: Tonight, Philadelphia Police are still trying to determine how much firepower was used by a suspect after a dramatic ending to a violent gun battle and hours'-long standoff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep your hands up. Keep your hands up.

CARROLL: The alleged shooter, Maurice Hill, finally surrendering around midnight Wednesday.

COMMISSIONER RICHARD ROSS, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: We know that he had one handgun, that believe it or not, he had in his pocket when he came outside and surrendered. We know that he had an AR-15, which is likely the weapon that he was firing at the police repeatedly.

CARROLL: SWAT teams used tear gas to drive Hill from the North Philadelphia row house and took him away in handcuffs.

The ordeal played out on live television, just minutes after narcotics officers showed up to serve a warrant and were met with a barrage of gunfire.


CARROLL: Six officers were shot. Their injuries were not life- threatening. Police cleared the streets as SWAT teams and negotiators moved in to engage with the suspect.

ROSS: I did not think it would end nearly the way it did. I mean, there was dialogue that was being presented to us at the scene that suggested this man was not going to go back to prison.

CARROLL: Complicating an already-potentially deadly situation, two officers were trapped inside with three civilians for hours until a SWAT unit got them out.

Ultimately, they say, it was Hill's former attorney who was key to resolving the standoff.

SHAKA JOHNSON, SUSPECT'S FORMER ATTORNEY: It was clear to me that he wanted this thing to end without him dying, because he kept saying, they're going to kill me. CARROLL: The lawyer says the gunman called him around 8:30 last night from inside the home.

Have you ever been in a situation where you've had to be in some ways a hostage negotiator?

JOHNSON: Never, never.

CARROLL: Johnson rushed to get the district attorney and police commissioner on the call with Hill to work out his surrender.

Now, there are questions. Could more have been done to stop the shooting in the first place?

MAYOR JIM KENNEY (D-PHILADELPHIA, PA): Our officers need help. They need help keeping these weapons out of the hands of the bad guys.

CARROLL: Court documents show Hill had a lengthy rap sheet, which included convictions for aggravated assault and illegal firearms possession.


CARROLL: And now there's a lot of political finger-pointing going back and forth. You have the U.S. Attorney pointing fingers at the D.A., saying the D.A. is soft on crime. You've got the D.A. defending his office. You've got the mayor saying the issue has to deal with gun control. But there's one point, Wolf, where everyone can agree, and that is this is someone who never should have been out on the streets. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jason Carroll reporting for us, thank you very much.

Just ahead, breaking news on the fiery plane crash with NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. onboard.


[18:48:34] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're getting breaking news about a plane crash in Tennessee involving NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has been gathering details for us.

Dianne, what are you learning?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, Wolf, on that plane were five people including two-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., as well as his wife, Amy Earnhardt, and their 1-year-old daughter, Isla. There were two crew members, two pilots there as well.

According to the FAA and the police office, the police chief there in Elizabethton, everybody got out OK. The police chief says that when they came on scene, that the plane was on fire, flames coming out of it. It burned for about 20 minutes, but all the people on the plane were already outside of it. Now, according to Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s sister, Kelly Earnhardt, he and

his wife, everybody onboard had been taken to the hospital just as precautionary measures, to get checked out, but said that everyone is safe.

Now, the FAA has said that this is a Cessna Citation, that it rolled off of the end of the runway 24 there, and then caught fire after landing. The NTSB is going to determine the probable cause of the accident.

But, look, Junior is an analyst for NBC Sports. He talks about NASCAR, the races in Bristol this weekend, this is very close to Bristol and he was taking his family there to start work. He's a retired driver, retired back in 2017, Wolf. One of the most popular driver in NASCAR 15 years in a row, and, of course, two Daytona 500s.

A lot of people outside of the world know him as being the intimidator, Dale Earnhardt's son, who died in that 2001 Daytona 500 crash.

[18:50:06] BLITZER: And we're certainly happy all of them are fine.


BLITZER: Dianne, thank you very much for that report.

In the presidential race tonight, Democrat Beto O'Rourke is restarting his campaign 12 days after the mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso and he is blaming President Trump for the spread of racist gun violence.

CNN's Leyla Santiago is in El Paso for us. She's covering the 2020 race.

Leyla, Beto O'Rourke had a chilling warning about the president and new urgency about defeating him.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, today, he came back and said I'm back running for president with one clear focus, and that is taking down President Donald Trump.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If at this moment, we do not wake up to this threat, then we as a country will die in our sleep.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Tonight, former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke labeling President Donald Trump a threat.

O'ROURKE: Donald Trump is our greatest threat to our ability to make progress on anything that we care about.

SANTIAGO: O'Rourke returning to the campaign trail today after more than a week mourning with his community is blaming the president's rhetoric in part for the mass shooting that left 22 people dead in his hometown of El Paso.

O'ROURKE: We saw the realization of his rhetoric, his invitation of violence in our community, but it's not just in El Paso.

SANTIAGO: He's now calling for more gun control, including a mandatory buyback of assault weapons.

O'ROURKE: I know that this is not politically easy. It's frankly why far too few people have proposed it. It's frankly I have not proposed it in the past.

SANTIAGO: O'Rourke also insisting he's staying in the presidential race.

O'ROURKE: There have been some who suggested that I stay in Texas and run for Senate. But that would not be good enough for this community.

SANTIAGO: As O'Rourke resumes his run, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is dropping his presidential bid.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), FORMER COLORADO GOVERNOR: Today, I'm ending my campaign for president.

SANTIAGO: The former Colorado governor has struggled to gain support since announcing his candidacy in March. He didn't offer specifics about his future plans, but left open the possibility of a run for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Cory Gardner, who Democrats see as vulnerable.

HICKENLOOPER: I've heard from so many Coloradoans who want me to run for the United States Senate. I intend to give that some serious thought.


SANTIAGO: And tonight, O'Rourke is in Mississippi, says he wants to support the immigrant community at the center of the controversial ICE raids. And you see that's part of the new strategy he wants to put in place. He says instead of focusing on the early voting states, he wants to go to places made vulnerable by President Trump.

BLITZER: Leyla Santiago on the scene for us, thanks very much.

Much more news right after this.


[18:57:31] BLITZER: This month when the Pentagon announced that a cloud computing contract won't be awarded until it's reviewed by the defense secretary, the decision was seen as a blow to Amazon, which is considered a front runner for the $10 billion deal.

In a CNN special report tomorrow night, CNN's Poppy Harlow talks with company insiders about how Amazon Web Services, AWS for short, turned cloud computing into part of every day live.

Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the beginning a lot of companies would pooh- pooh the cloud and say that nobody was use going for anything interesting. When the value proposition is that good for consumers, you can howl at the wind all you want but you can't fight gravity.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thirteen years later, the cloud is now a $70 billion industry. And while formidable competitors have emerged, Amazon continues to dominate with a seemingly endless list of costumers, from Fortune 500 companies, to tech start-ups to yes, CNN, even secretive government agencies including the CIA.

(on camera): The cloud is crucial to the economy. It's now crucial to national security.

Do you think there should be more federal regulation of it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governments are going to make their own decisions what they feel like they need to regulate and what they feel like they don't need to regulate. And we expect that governments will want to understand how we're operating as more and more workloads are being put on top of AWS.

HARLOW (voice-over): For now, the federal government is busy deciding how much more of the nation's most sensitive data it wants to place in Amazon's hands. AWS is a final contender for the Jedi contract, a $10 billion Pentagon deal that would involve hosting government data for operations critical to military missions across the globe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think it's integral for the department of defense to have access to the most sophisticated cutting edge technology that exists, period.

HARLOW (on camera): Does having that much power give you pause?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have over 3,000 government agencies using AWS in a significant way. That's a significant responsibility. We're aware of that.


BLITZER: And be sure to watch tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern for Poppy Harlow's CNN special report, "The Age of Amazon".

And to our viewers thank very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNsitroom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.