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THE SITUATION ROOM
State Probe Under Way in Alabama Mall Shooting; CNN Special Report: The State of Hate; Interview With California Congressman John Garamendi; Russia-Ukraine Confrontation; Roger Stone Associate Refuses Plea Deal; President Trump Disputes His Own Administration's Climate Change Report. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 26, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Will Jerome Corsi wind up in jail, like the former Trump campaign aide who started his prison time today?
Russian provocation. After Vladimir Putin's military seizes three Ukrainian ships, President Trump says he's not happy, but refuses to condemn Moscow's aggression. Will this new crisis off the coast of Crimea explode?
And state of hate. CNN investigates the alarming rise of anti- Semitism and hate crimes in this country. Why is the anger, the prejudice and the violence so prevalent right now?
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: Breaking news tonight: as President Trump plays to his base at a political rally in Mississippi, he's stoking fears about illegal immigration after a clash at the southern border.
Mr. Trump is defending the use of tear gas to disperse crowds trying to rush into the United States from Mexico, including women and children.
Also breaking, the president is addressing a major setback on jobs with General Motors' decision to close for plants in the United States. He says he had very tough words for GM's chief.
By contrast, there were no tough words for Vladimir Putin after Russia seized three Ukrainian shifts, the president saying he's not happy about it, but refusing to echo his administration's condemnation of Moscow's aggression.
I will get reaction from House Armed Services Committee member John Garamendi. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.
We just heard from President Trump only moments ago in Mississippi, doubling down on his newest attacks on illegal immigration. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are we doing OK on the border, folks?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Not going to happen. You got to come into our country legally.
AUDIENCE: Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!
TRUMP: You're right. And we have a lot of it built and it's going up, but I will tell you, that other -- the rest of it, you saw, that's pretty snazzy looking wire, isn't it, huh? Pretty nasty.
But we're doing well. We're not letting people into our country unless they come in legally. And we want people to come in through merit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's go to our White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. She's traveling with the president in Mississippi.
Kaitlan, the president, he's seizing on that incident at the southern border.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He is, Wolf, and he's trying to make it personal here in Mississippi and stoke fears even to this crowd bringing up those migrants who tried to rush the border on Sunday, causing it to be temporarily closed, asking if that's the kind of people they want in places like here in Mississippi, even though, Wolf, that was out near San Diego at that border crossing over.
The president is making one thing clear tonight. Even though he's here trying to save a Republican Senate seat, he has immigration front and center.
TRUMP: They will not be coming into our country.
COLLINS (voice-over): President Trump seizing on the unrest to at U.S.-Mexico border while leaving the White House today, as he hopes to squeeze his political opponents into funding his border wall.
TRUMP: Here's the bottom line. Nobody's coming into our country, unless they come in legally.
COLLINS: After tensions flared at one of the nation's busiest border crossing Sunday, when hundreds of Central American migrants rushed the border, Trump called on Mexico to send them migrants back to their home countries and defended U.S. border agents using tear gas to disperse the caravan that included children. TRUMP: they had to use because they were being rushed by some very tough people.
COLLINS: Trump telling Mexico: "Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it any way you want. But they are not coming into the USA."
But the border isn't the president's only political headache, after American icon General Motors announced it will stop production and slash thousands of jobs at five plants in North America, including one in Ohio, where Trump made this promise to residents last year:
TRUMP: Don't move. Don't sell your house. We're going to get those values up. We're going to get those jobs coming back.
COLLINS: Trump lashed out at the company today.
TRUMP: This country has done a lot for General Motors. You better get back in there soon. That's Ohio.
COLLINS: And as leaders around the world denounce Russia for its acts of aggression against Ukraine over the weekend, including firing upon and seizing three Ukrainian vessels, Trump offered a muted response today.
TRUMP: We did not like what's happening. Either way, we don't like what's happening. And hopefully it'll get straightened out.
COLLINS: All this as the president's legal team is preparing for the special counsel to issue his report on the Russia investigation, hoping to cast doubt on any final conclusion, Trump tweeting today that Robert Mueller is highly conflicted, asking why he didn't an interview the hundreds of people in his campaign who didn't collude with Russia.
But even those who frequently defend the president predicting the report will be politically devastating.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, ATTORNEY: I think the report is going to be devastating to the president.
COLLINS: The president departing Washington for cleanup duty in Mississippi tonight, holding two rallies in hopes of dragging Cindy Hyde-Smith across the finish line.
TRUMP: And I know she apologized. And she misspoke.
COLLINS: After the Republican senator became engulfed in controversy for making this remark.
SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R), MISSISSIPPI: If he invited me to a public hanging, I would be on the front row.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COLLINS: Now, Wolf, as the president was leaving the White House, he has also asked out that dire climate report warning of economic impact the climate is going to have.
He said he's received the report, he's read some of it and it was fine, but when he was asked about the core of that report that is going to be economically devastating, President Trump said he didn't believe that, even though this report was published by own administration.
Now, Wolf, he is on stage behind me now stumping for Cindy Hyde-Smith, hoping to save the Senate seat and going on later to Southern Mississippi down to Biloxi, after he's done here in Tupelo. And, Wolf, a lot of people have drawn parallels between this race and that Senate runoff in Alabama last year where a Democrat won a seat in a very red state.
The question tonight is if the president's going to help Cindy Hyde- Smith, or will it be ending up like Alabama did last year with a Democrat taking a Republican seat, Wolf?
BLITZER: The election is tomorrow. We will know tomorrow night.
All right, Kaitlan, thank you very much.
Let's get an update now on the tensions along the U.S.-Mexico border after that weekend clash.
CNN's Leyla Santiago is in Tijuana for us.
Leyla, the president and U.S. Customs and Border officials, they're defending their handling of the situation. What do you see on the ground?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, right now, we are at this sort of makeshift shelter, a center, a community center for sports here.
And this is where you will find more than 5,000 migrants from the caravan, many of them in tents, many of them filled with uncertainty today as they try to decide what their next step.
Of course, a lot of this now up in the air after the clash at the border yesterday. The migrants here will tell you that this was supposed to be a peaceful march to the border. Some even told me they were hoping to engage with officials on the other side. But, at some point, something happened and tear gas was released.
CBP says that the migrants were throwing things at them, that's why the gas was released. The migrants here are denying that claim, saying they were not the first to start the clash. But that has many people thinking about what's the next step, reconsidering if they want to go to the United States, if they want to stay here in Mexico.
And I want to show you this. We actually were here when 20 migrants, including a pregnant women -- woman, rather, and two children got on a bus for self-deportation, voluntary deportation to Honduras. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTIAGO: He says he was attacked by those on the border on the U.S. side when tear gas was thrown. And he says that was a factor in his decision to get on this bus and leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANTIAGO: And that was just one person who expressed that -- again, 20 people getting on that bus.
But when you think about that portion, that is 20 people in a place of 5,000. I can tell you there's a lot of uncertainty. I talked to one father who was there with his two children when the tear gas was release. He said, I don't want to go to a country that will do that type of thing to my children. But I can't go back to Honduras because the gangs there have threatened to kill me.
So there's sort of this wait and see. In the meantime, Mexico has said that they are not going to put up with any sort of disorderly conduct and they have actually taken about 100 people they believe were involved in that clash yesterday into custody. And they say, Wolf, that they plan to deport them.
BLITZER: All right, Leyla Santiago in Tijuana for us, Leyla, thanks for that report.
Now to the Russia investigation. Tonight, an associate of Trump ally Roger Stone says he was offered a plea deal by special counsel Robert Mueller, but he's refusing to sign it.
Our senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is joining us now.
Evan, so what's behind Jerome Corsi's walking away from the plea deal and how could charges brought against him be problematic potentially for the Trump campaign?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Jerome Corsi says that he was offered a deal to plead guilty to one account for lying, but we don't know exactly what happened behind the scenes.
He says his version of events is that he was being asked to lie, that he says he couldn't sign a document to plead guilty in order to accept something that he says he did not do.
Let me read a little bit of what he said to Sara Murray earlier today.
He says -- quote -- "They can put me in prison for the rest of my life. I'm not going to sign a lie."
Now, he is basically -- behind the scenes, what's happening here is that Jerome Corsi says that he spoke to people around the Trump campaign, including Roger Stone, to describe what e-mails he said were about to come from WikiLeaks. This is obviously the hacked e-mails, Wolf, that were devastating to the Clinton campaign.
Now, he says he found this out all on his own, that he didn't find this by having any contacts with WikiLeaks or with the founder, Julian Assange. Take a listen to what he had to say in describing what his experience was in talking to the special counsel, Robert Mueller's team.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME CORSI, AUTHOR, "THE OBAMA NATION": What the special counsel couldn't figure out was that, in August, I knew that the e-mails remaining that Julian Assange had were Podesta's e-mails.
And I basically figured it out, which is what I do. I connect the dots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: Now, Wolf, he's talking there about the e-mails that were released belonging to John Podesta. Those were among the e-mails that were released in 2017.
As you can tell, he says that in his interviews, 40 hours or so of interviews with the special counsel, including an appearance before the grand jury, he says that they simply don't believe his story that he came up with this on his own, that he connected the dots on his own.
We reached out to the special counsel obviously for their version of whatever these negotiations behind the scenes have been going on. And, of course, they declined to comment.
At this point, Wolf, we only have the version of events from Jerome Corsi. And, of course, we should remind everyone that he has got a history of making things up.
BLITZER: Yes, those Podesta e-mails were released in the campaign in 2016.
Mueller, as you know, Evan, he sent us someone to prison today for lying. We're talking about the former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. What's the latest on that front?
PEREZ: George Papadopoulos finally showed up to prison camp today in Oxford, Wisconsin, Wolf. He's there to serve a 14-day jail term as a result of pleading guilty to lying to investigators.
Obviously, Papadopoulos is a key figure here simply because he was the first one, the first one of 35 people that Robert Mueller's team has indicted -- or charged, rather, in this 18-month-long investigation.
More recently, Papadopoulos has been singing a different tune. If you recall, back in September of 2017, when he pleaded guilty, he showed remorse. He said he wanted a second chance to get his life back. More recently on Twitter, he and his wife have been attacking the special counsel, saying that essentially they were railroaded. So today you saw their video of him showing up in Wisconsin where he
and his wife -- he said goodbye to his wife, and then he will be gone for the next 14 days. After that, we expect that the Democrats once they take over in the House of Representatives are going to be asking for Papadopoulos to come forward to provide some testimony.
He has indicated that he wants immunity before he provides that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Evan, thank you very much, Evan Perez reporting for us.
Joining us now, the Congressman John Garamendi. He is a Democratic who serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for coming in.
These developments you just heard from Evan in the Russia probe, how significant are they, the plea deal that Jerome Corsi says he's not ready to take, for example?
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: It's step by step.
There's absolutely no doubt that Mueller is progressing right up the line, starting here with a very low-level person. The next one is going to be Stone. And then we're going to go from there. He's got a lot of information
He has hours and hours of testimony from dozens of people, matching stories. Who is lying, who's telling the truth? Bottom line, the president has a very serious problem.
BLITZER: So, you don't think he really needed the Corsi testimony? I really don't know about that.
GARAMENDI: But what I do know is that Corsi is one of the low-level players. And Mueller has been working his way up the ladder. And who's at the top of the ladder? The president. What does it mean? We're going to find out very, very soon, because this thing is coming, I believe, to a conclusion, perhaps not before the holidays, but immediately thereafter.
BLITZER: Yes, that's what people suspect.
Let's go to the sensitive issue of immigration right now.
BLITZER: The president says -- and I'm quoting him now -- "Nobody's coming into our country unless they're coming legally."
Is that a realistic goal right now?
GARAMENDI: Well, an asylum seeker presenting themselves at one of the entry points is entering the country legally. It is national law. It is in our laws that somebody that seeks asylum presenting
themselves at one of the border crossings is legal. What's happening is that the president and the Border Patrol are choking off access; 100,000 people a day normally come through the San Ysidro entry in Tijuana, San Diego.
Now it's down to about 100 people seeking asylum. And so they choke it off. Therefore, people are trying to get across illegally. Nevertheless, under the law, they nonetheless are able to seek asylum, even though they may have entered at an illegal point along the border.
This has to be worked out. This whole thing is going out of control unnecessarily.
BLITZER: You think the Customs and Border Patrol responded appropriately to those migrants who were trying to come in yesterday by using tear gas against them?
GARAMENDI: It's hard to say exactly who those migrants were. There are some children. There was obviously a pregnant lady and children.
What does all that mean? I don't think they were going to assault the Border Patrol. There may have been some young people -- it appears that way from the video. Was there overreaction? I just can't say right now, but it's certainly created a major issue that Trump wants to use in the election in Mississippi.
BLITZER: Let's get to the issue of climate change.
The president was asked about his reaction to this report that his administration released, scientists working in his administration released on Friday. And he was asked about the enormous economic consequences of climate change. And he was asked if he agrees. He says, "I don't believe it."
You represent California. We saw a very deadly wildfires in your state, the deadliest in your state's history, in recent weeks. So what's your reaction to the president's dismissal of his own administration's report?
GARAMENDI: His position on this is detrimental, it is a disaster for the world, certainly for California, certainly for other parts of this nation.
In the mid-'90s, I was involved in the Clinton administration preparing for the Kyoto conference. And it was clear then that climate change was going to devastate everything we knew about crop production, forest fires, on and on and on. This is not news.
It is unimaginable that the president of the United States would put at risk this nation, this world by simply refusing to deal with climate change. It is a fundamental worldwide problem. We have to get on it. And the president, every day he delays, every day he says it's not a problem is one more step towards the disaster that's coming to this nation and to this world.
BLITZER: Congressman, thanks so much for coming in.
GARAMENDI: Thank you.
BLITZER: John Garamendi of California.
Just ahead: top officials and allies issuing new warnings to Russia about its latest confrontation with Ukraine and the danger of escalating tensions in the region, this as President Trump offers a muted response. Will Vladimir Putin have to pay for this new act of aggression?
BLITZER: We're following breaking news on a very dangerous escalation of tensions right now, after Russia seized three Ukrainian navy ships off the coast of Crimea.
Tonight, President Trump says he doesn't like what's happening, but he's refusing to offer any tough words for Moscow or any details on the U.S. response.
In contrast, his U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, she's going much farther, calling Russia's actions an outrageous violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.
Let's bring in our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Jim, U.S. allies, they are right now very concerned about this new provocation by Russia.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question.
And you have France, you have Germany, you have the European Council, you have NATO all issuing unequivocal condemnations of Russian activity here, Russian aggression, they call it, but the president unwilling really to go there.
He talked about how he's unhappy either way, seeming to echo that both sides language he has used in the past. The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, issuing a more clear-cut condemnation of Russian aggression, but also including that language as well.
He said: "We call on both parties to exercise restraint and abide by their international obligations and commitments" -- a somewhat surprising statement, since these were Ukrainian ships heading to a Ukrainian port in international waters attacked by Russian ships, and now those Ukrainian sailors in Russian custody.
I spoke earlier today with Jens Stoltenberg. He is the secretary- general of NATO. He certainly issued an unequivocal condemnation of Russian aggression, but I did press him on what NATO, what the West, what the U.S. can do when Russia continues to hold so much territory there, violating Ukraine's sovereignty.
Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Four years after the annexation of Crimea, the start of military activity in Eastern Ukraine, that combination of economic sanctions and military support has not changed Russian behavior. It still occupies Crimea. It still occupies Eastern Ukraine.
And now it has this latest military aggression. Is that evidence that the West's policy in response to Russia is not working?
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: I think it shows how serious and difficult this situation is, because we provide strong support to Ukraine. We have adapted our military posture in the Black Sea region, with more air policing, with more naval presence, with more troops on the ground.
At the same time, we all want to avoid a full military confrontation. And, therefore, we continue to work for a political, negotiated solution. That's never easy, and sometimes it takes time, but the alternative, a full military conflict, is something we absolutely must avoid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Well, Russia seems very aware of that as well, continues to push the limits. And it has created facts on the ground in the Ukraine that have lasted years.
Look at the map. For four years, Russia has now occupied Crimea, claims to have annexed it. For four years, it has occupied a great deal of territory in Eastern Ukraine, and now this activity trying to set this choke point up for Ukrainian vessels going through that key strait there.
I did ask the secretary-general, Wolf, whether the U.S. would -- whether NATO and the West would ever accept Russia's occupation of Crimea, Eastern Ukraine. He said they would never accept it.
But it remains to be seen, Wolf, what is going to change the Russian calculation here, because that combination so far of sanctions, military pressure, et cetera, hasn't worked.
BLITZER: We will see how this plays out this weekend, when the president is expected to meet with President Putin in Buenos Aires at the G20 summit.
All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you very much.
Just ahead: A key figure in the Russia investigation says he'd rather go to jail for the rest of his life than take a plea deal from Robert Mueller. Plus: President Trump blasting General Motors over job and production cuts. Can he pressure the company in changing course?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking tonight, we heard President Trump just moments ago rail against the Russia investigation, calling it "a witch hunt, garbage." He's in Mississippi campaigning for the Republican candidate in tomorrow's U.S. Senate run off.
[18:31:11] Let's talk about the Russia probe and more with our analysts. And Gloria, looked the other day like Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi was ready to strike a plea deal with Robert Mueller and his team. One count of perjury, but now he says CNN this -- and I'll quote him -- "They can put me in prison the rest of my life. I am not going to sign a lie." So what do you make of this 180?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's really hard to know. Are they going to prosecute him now that he didn't accept his plea deal?
I mean, his point of view, of course, and we'll never hear from the special counsel about this, because they're a black box. His point of view was that the Mueller team was trying to talk him into telling a lie and that he really just misremembered things.
And in the end, it seems to me that he had a sudden change of heart. I guess this is probably good for Roger Stone. Hard to know. But -- and it's also hard to know what the -- what the special counsel does now.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And obviously, this is sort of big picture. This is one of the major threads that we know about that Mueller has been looking into when it comes to any potential connection to anyone at all in the Trump orbit and Russia. Russia via WikiLeaks and the Trump orbit via Roger Stone and -- and Corsi.
BLITZER: The theory is that the Russians hacked Podesta and the DNC. They give that information to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks shares it with a Trump associate. And that's the thread of collusion --
BORGER: The rest is history.
BLITZER: -- you're talking about.
BASH: Precisely. If. Big if.
BLITZER: It's a huge if.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Can I --
BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: Can I just add that I would take anything Jerome Corsi says -- BORGER: Yes.
TOOBIN: -- not with grain of salt but with a boulder of salt. I mean, this guy has told so many lies and has been so dishonest, and you know, what he did to John Kerry alone during the 2004 campaign --
TOOBIN: -- lying about his military record, is such a disgrace.
In a peculiar way, the fact that Corsi and Roger Stone have these reputations -- pardon the expressions -- as incredible B.S. artists is weirdly helpful to them. Because the fact that they may have been talking about what they heard from WikiLeaks and what they heard from Julian Assange, they could credibly say, "Oh, don't listen to me. I'm full of it."
BORGER: Right, exactly.
TOOBIN: And they might be right.
TOOBIN: So it's -- it's a unique prosecutorial challenge to prosecute people for lying when they lie all the time anyway.
BLITZER: And Jeffrey, when Corsi says the Mueller team wanted to keep any plea agreement that he would make with them under seal, what's -- what's your thought about that?
TOOBIN: I mean, again, it may simply be that Corsi is lying. Because it makes no sense. I mean, you keep a plea agreement secret if someone is still cooperating, if they're wearing a wire. The fact that Corsi has been talking to the prosecutors is widely known. So the fact that -- I mean, he couldn't wear a wire in secret on anyone without their suspecting it. It makes no sense, but that's true of a lot of what Jerome Corsi says.
BLITZER: Amidst all of this today, David, the president's former campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, he started his 14-day prison sentence. We saw him walking into the prison in Wisconsin.
The president on Twitter though, he asked why Robert Mueller doesn't want to talk -- and I'm quoting the president now -- "to hundreds of people closely involved with my campaign who never met, saw or spoke to a Russian during this period?" So that doesn't sound like a very strong defense.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So Wolf, that was one of the president's patented two-part tweets in which he both said something untrue about Special Counsel Mueller, which was that he had all these conflicts. That's simply not the case.
And then, to that part that you just highlighted there, it's like saying, "Why doesn't the police officer look at everybody who's doing the speed limit instead of looking at the people who he thinks are not doing the speed limit?" It just -- even as a defense, it makes no sense.
[18:35:13] BLITZER: Yes, Jeffrey, I've never heard a defense like that, have you?
TOOBIN: Well, it's like "What about all those hours when I wasn't robbing a bank. Why don't you talk to me about those?"
I mean, you know, look, and the fact that, you know, there's a group suspected of wrongdoing, the fact that not every single person is suspected doesn't make the people who may have been involved innocent. I think people -- our reader -- our --
BASH: Also on a more practical level, if I were a Trump campaign official who, you know, thanking my lucky stars that I wasn't called into the Mueller team to them. I didn't have to hire a lawyer.
BASH: And I see a tweet from my boss saying --
TOOBIN: I didn't think of that.
BASH: -- "Why don't you -- why didn't you ask all the good guys?"
TOOBIN: Good point.
BASH: Thanks boss.
BORGER: And he considers himself one of the good guys, too. Don't forget.
SWERDLICK: I think his sort of logic, it's almost as if he's trying to say that, "because there were good people on my campaign, that mitigates any potential bad that was done," but that obviously doesn't work.
BLITZER: It looks like Mueller is beginning to wrap things up. We just --
BLITZER: We're guessing right now, because we don't know. But we know the Democrats are only just beginning to wrap things in a different direction, because they're going to be the majority in the House of Representatives. Is the White House prepared for what is about to explode?
BASH: I think probably mentally they understand, but when it comes to the tactics, when it comes to the personnel and when it comes to the sort of hand-to-hand combat political warfare that they're going to have to do, probably not. This is going to be really intense. Now, the Democrats have made it clear they're going to try to, you
know, streamline and be very specific with what they want to go after, because they have a lot of options, a lot of things that have happened over the past two years that the Republicans who have been in charge of the House simply ignored.
But I mean, just look at what's happening right now with Saudi. I mean, that's just right at the tip of the iceberg. Never mind what's happening with Russia with with Saudi. Adam Schiff told me yesterday that they're going to go ahead, and they're going to investigate whether or not the president has any financial interests in Saudi and whether that is why he's turning a blind eye to what happened with the killing of Khashoggi.
BLITZER: The Democratic investigation is only just beginning.
Gloria, the president had a major setback today when GM announced that there's a 15 percent reduction in the salaried work force. Five plants including in Ohio and Michigan being shut down. Eight thousand salaried workers are being laid off. But this is what he said on July 25, 2017 last year. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was looking at some of those big, once incredible job producing factories and my wife, Melania, said, "What happened?"
I said, "Those jobs have left Ohio." They're all coming back. They're all coming back. Don't move. Don't sell your house.
We're going to get those values up. We're going to get those jobs coming back, and we're going to fill up those factories or rip them down and build brand-new ones.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Well, that's clearly not happening with GM.
BORGER: No, it isn't. And he said today -- what struck me, when he came out on the lawn today and was talking about this, was he said he was very tough on the CEO, obviously. But he said, "That's Ohio." And he made a point of it. Because this is a political point for him. It's also Michigan, I might add. But that's Ohio, which is a state that the president survived the best in during the midterm elections. Ohio. Which is the state that he needs in order to win another presidential election, Ohio.
And the truth of the matter is, that GM has a problem, which is the people in this country are not buying the Chevy Cruise. It doesn't work in this country anymore. People are buying larger cars. Gasoline has been cheaper.
And so what GM says is "We're going to close the plants and we're going to start building these cars closer to the people who are actually buying them." Donald Trump is a businessman. He understands how business works.
But it's not about business at this point. It's about re-election. That's why he's, you know, saying to GM, "You better fix this." And I'm not so sure what they can do.
BASH: Can I just add to that, the people who I talked to who are in touch with the president say, on issue after issue, the economy, the economy, the economy. His focus right now is his re-election in 2020 politically, and whether it is gas prices, worried about that with Saudi. Whether it is, you know, trade. He's worried about all of these things coming down to what you picked up on in talking about Ohio, maybe Michigan, about the economy, the stock market. All of it doing more -- I mean, it's doing so well right now, frankly. It's hard to see it going any way other than down. And that concerns him with regard to his reelection prospects.
[18:40:12] BLITZER: Everybody stick around. There's much more we're following. After police in Alabama killed the wrong man, a gunman is on the loose, and state authorities are investigating. Did officers rush to judgment when they saw an African-American man with a gun?
[18:45:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: In Alabama tonight, a state investigation is under way into a mall shooting that turned deadly when police killed the wrong man mistaking him for the gunman. The victim's relatives are accusing police of rushing to judgment based on race and they are demanding answers and justice.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Alabama following the story for us.
So, Ed, what is the latest?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Well, here, Hoover police say that on Thanksgiving night in the moments after the shooting erupted inside the mall here, that 21-year- old E.J. Bradford was brandishing, holding a weapon in his hand and that's when the officer arrived and shot him in the face. Now, the family of E.J. and the family's attorney Benjamin Crump take exception with that. They say he was able to legally carry a handgun in this state and that they rushed to judgment as you mentioned there off the top and they are trying to figure out why.
The mayor of Hoover, Alabama, south of Birmingham tonight, says patience is needed to find the truth. But Bradford's family takes exception with that as well. And they say the only thing that will lead to the truth is for authorities to release the body cam footage from the police officer and any mall surveillance. That's what they are calling for tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Parents of E.J. Bradford does not trust the Hoover Police Department at all. As they have stated, no say no more, just show the video, because you've already lied to them once, proclaiming to the world that their son was a shooter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: So, that is where we're at right now. A family hoping to speak with authorities here. The state authorities here in Alabama have taken over this investigation.
Benjamin Crump says that witnesses have come forward to the Bradford family to say they believe E.J. Bradford was the good guy with the gun in that shooting chaotic situation, and that he was actually trying to wave people away from the scene to get them to safety. So, all of these unanswered questions swirling around this case tonight -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Ed. Thank you. Ed Lavandera on the scene for us.
Just ahead, the state of hate in the United States. We're launching a special series of reports on the rise of anti-Semitism and hate crimes and the roots of this evil that is becoming more evident every day.
[18:52:13] BLITZER: In Charlottesville, Virginia, the murder trial is now underway for the white nationalist charged with killing a counterprotester at last year's Unite the Right rally. The march and the death of Heather Heyer cast a spotlight on the alarming rise of anti-Semitism and racism in this country.
Tonight, we're beginning a series of special reports, looking at the increase in these types of crimes as CNN investigates the state of hate.
Let's go to our national correspondent Sarah Sidner.
Sara, you've reported extensively on this clearly exploding problem.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I have, Wolf, and it is deeply, deeply troubling. Let's talk about the stunning numbers that we've just seen out from the FBI. Basically, they're saying those who are targets of hate, Jewish people face a lot more hate than many other groups. They were basically targets of 60 percent of anti- religious hate. But Jews make up just 2 percent of the American population, and nowhere was the more evidence that what happened in Pittsburgh.
RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: I'm not just concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism. I'm concerned about the rise of hate in our country.
SIDNER (voice-over): A quiet Saturday morning of prayer and reflection at Rabbi Jeffrey Myers' synagogue in Pittsburgh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired, shots fired.
SIDNER: Savagely interrupted by gunfire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got automatic weapon. He's firing (INAUDIBLE) in the synagogue.
SIDNER: Anti-Semitism had blasted its way back into America's consciousness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have at least four down in the atrium at this time.
SIDNER: Barry Werber was praying inside the Tree of Life synagogue when bullets started flying. He hid in a closet as a gunman mowed down 11 of his fellow worshippers.
(on camera): What is it like being a survivor?
BARRY WERBER, SURVIVED SYNAGOGUE MASSACRE: Sometimes I just feel dead inside, no feeling at all. And I hate that feeling, but it's there.
SIDNER: How many of your friends have you had to bury?
WERBER: Too many to count.
SIDNER (voice-over): It was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history, the personification of a rising state of hate in this country.
The Anti-Defamation League says anti-Semitism in America was already exploding from neo-Nazi marches to more subtle propaganda. In 2017, the ADL logged nearly 2,000 Anti-Semitic incidents, a 57 percent spike in just one year.
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: That's the single largest surge we've ever seen since we started tracking this data.
SIDNER: The FBI which only counts hate crimes reported by police, saw an astonishing 30 percent rise. Police in Pittsburgh say the gunman's anti-Semitic fervor was spelled out on social media.
[18:55:03] One site in particular that attracts racist and neo-Nazis because of its loose policies on free speech. Experts say those sites have become echo chambers that are getting louder and helping motivate real life attacks.
UNDENTIFIED MALE: Gas the (EXPLETIVE DELETE). Race war now!
SIDNER: The anger and misguided ideology of neo-Nazis which has been permeating the dark corners of the Internet now materializing on street corners and being scrolled across American landscape. Swastikas on a temple in Indiana, on a school in Colorado, on a school bus in Florida, on political signs in California, and on street signs in Nevada, words of hate on a temple in California.
(on camera): What was spelled out here?
RABBI YISROEL CINER, BETH JACOB CONGREGATION OF IRVINE: Expletive F- U. Jews expletive again in red spray paint.
SIDNER (voice-over): And anti-Semitism expressed through bullet holes shot through a temple in Indiana, cars were set ablaze at a Jewish cultural center in Tennessee. And across the country, posters are popping up on college campuses meant to instill Nazi ideals in young minds. Even the dead are targets.
At 92 years old, Millard Braunstein knows the pain of loss.
MILLARD BRAUNSTEIN, MOTHER'S GRAVE DESECRATED: This was the love of my life.
SIDNER: But he's never personally experienced anti-Semitism until this year, when 175 tombstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia were desecrated.
BRAUNSTEIN: My mother's stone was knocked over and it was really very upsetting. I said how could this happen in America today?
SIDNER: For the victims of anti-Semitism, the question is, why has it returned with such a vengeance.
GREENBLATT: Anti-Semitism is nothing new. What is new is, number one, the public conversation, the charged atmosphere, the incredibly polarized phenomenon in our society today.
SIDNER: Experts say Charlottesville, Virginia, last year was a turning point. The moment the growing rise in racism and anti- Semitism went public. Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Klansmen took to the streets, protesting the decision to remove a Confederate statute.
It was one of several protests last year, but this was different. It began with a torch lit march on Friday night.
MARCHERS: Jews will not replace us!
SIDNER: That turned into a violent confrontation the next morning between white nationalists and counter protesters. In the end, police say a man with neo-Nazi ideals killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Those who monitor Neo-Nazis say the aftermath may have encouraged the movement.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.
SIDNER: Especially because the president's lack of a complete condemnation of what happened was cheered by white nationalists.
BRAUNSTEIN: Show me a good neo-Nazi and a good Ku Klux Klan man. I mean, it just isn't there.
WERBER: Instead of saying, well, there's wrong on both sides. How are we wrong? What were we doing wrong? Except praying? That can't be wrong.
SIDNER: Barry Werber likens that kind of thinking to Hitlerism. He's well aware of the torture that regime meted out on a family member.
WERBER: He was used by the German scientists for experts. They had literally cut the muscles out of his arms to see if they would regrow, and he had to live with that. Thank God I never had to go through that.
SIDNER: Jews have a saying about the Holocaust, never again. After what he's been through, Werber is terrified it really could happen again.
SIDNER: And Barry Werber by the way, almost didn't want to talk about what happened to him, because he was afraid of becoming a target again. There is that much fear in the community.
We want to make clear, president Trump did come out and condemn what happened in Pittsburgh and condemn anti-Semitism, and some Jews, including one of the rabbis we spoke with in California said he doesn't blame Trump, but he does not like the political rhetoric. He feels that as do many others is fueling hate in this country -- Wolf.
BLITZER: There is enormous fear unite there, right?
SIDNER: There is enormous fear. There were so many people that said how could this happen in America? This was supposed to be the land of milk and honey, and many, many people were shocked out of that sense of security that this happened here.
BLITZER: Hard to believe.
All right. Sara Sidner, thanks for that excellent report.
Our series, by the way, will continue tomorrow. We'll take a closer look at the rise of hate in Europe.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.