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Dangerous Rescue in Iraq; New Shooting Details in Missouri; Refugees Escape to Safety from Iraq; Police: Officer in Teen Shooting was Injured; Intense Fighting in Ukraine Worsening Humanitarian Crisis; Did Clinton "Hug It Out" with Obama?

Aired August 13, 2014 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: dangerous rescue.

The U.S. says airdrops are not enough to save thousands of Iraqis who are stranded, starving and targeted by ISIS terrorists. President Obama now is considering military options for a full-scale evacuation.

Plus, this, more surprise as Ukrainian forces battle separatists. Is Russia using a humanitarian mission as cover for military intervention?

And protesters demand answers days after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed teenager. Now the police chief is sharing new details with CNN about the moments before the gun went off.

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: Let's get right to the breaking news tonight, American boots on the ground in the dangerous humanitarian crisis zone in Northern Iraq. We're learning new information about their direct assessment of the fate of trapped refugees on Mount Sinjar.

This as President Obama is deciding whether to order a perilous rescue mission. He's exploring options for evacuating tens of thousands of members of a religious minority group targeted by ISIS and threatened with potential genocide. We have new video that drives home the danger of military intervention.

It shows an Iraqi military aid helicopter that crashed on Mount Sinjar. The pilot was killed and several people on board were injured including rescued refugees, an Iraqi lawmaker and a "New York Times" journalist.

Our correspondents are standing by and we're covering the breaking news in Iraq, in the United States and around the world.

But let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's got new information for us first -- Barbara. BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at this hour, more than one dozen U.S. special forces are now off Mount Sinjar. They have spent the last 24 hours on that mountain very quietly and very covertly looking around, getting a picture of what is going on.

They were taken to the mountain about 24 hours ago. These special forces have looked to see to try and determine how many people are there, what the lay of the land is, what the terrain is to begin to get some firsthand eyes-on information for the United States about what would be involved in a rescue mission.

Whether it is done by air or by land, the U.S. had to put some number of small number of troops on the ground to get the firsthand look. We are confirming they left the mountain a short time ago. The reason we're telling you this is CNN has known this information for the last 24 hours. But at the request of U.S. military officials, we withheld it while the U.S. special forces were on top of that mountain for the last 24 hours.

They were in a very uncertain situation. There was a lot of concern about their safety, about anybody really finding out who they were and that they were there. Once it was confirmed to us that they were off the mountain, that they had picked up by a helicopter and taken off the mountain, we were then made the decision to go ahead and report that information.

It's just one indicator of how uncertain the situation is and how much more the U.S. needs to figure out about what is going on, on that mountain, and it starts with what they hope is the information they were able to gather about how many people are really there.

BLITZER: Those special operations forces clearly they were in harm's way. Is it fair to say, and I think it is, that these were U.S. boots on the ground on top of this perilous mountain?

STARR: Wolf, to the best of anybody's knowledge, this is the first time American troops have set foot on top of Mount Sinjar.

Look, the question that everyone is asking, does this mean -- boots on the ground mean combat? There are already some 800, 900 boots on the ground, military personnel in Iraq doing a number of jobs. None of them in very secure positions in Iraq. There's a lot of unrest there, of course.

So there's a lot of concern about everybody's security, all U.S. military security in Iraq. But this was a first, this was the first time U.S. special forces went to the top of Mount Sinjar. They had every right to defend themselves if they came under fire, if they came under attack. by all accounts, they did not.

BLITZER: Barbara, I want you to stand by.

General George Joulwan, retired U.S. Army, former NATO supreme allied commander, is with us as well.

You have got let's say 10,000, let's say you got 20,000 of these refugees on top of this mountain. You have seen the pictures, General Joulwan. The U.S. mission, now it's a military mission, save these people before they are slaughtered by these ISIS terrorists.

You can either get a convoy up there, some sort of secure land route or you helicopter them or airlift out of there. What do you do?

GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN (RET.), U.S. ARMY: You really come up with several options.

We call them contingencies. We have done this before. We have done evacuation of noncombatants from just about every country in Africa and elsewhere. We know how to do this. There are risks involved. The assessment that is being made by those troops that went in there, I wouldn't call them boots on the ground as if we're going to put in 200,000 troops, but it's an assessment that needs to be made.

I did that going into Rwanda to stop the dying. That's what I say. Here to save the individuals up there, they will do the planning, they will either take them back to a base in Turkey or elsewhere, but we know how to do this.

BLITZER: It's a dangerous mission.

JOULWAN: Of course it's dangerous. Every time you put troops in an area like Iraq, it's dangerous. ISIS may take advantage of it. I would keep all options on the table here. I wouldn't telegraph what we're going to do if we can avoid it.

But I think we can do this. And what we need to get is clarity in terms of exactly what you want that force to do.

BLITZER: Barbara, I just underscore what you told our viewers and you were very transparent. We have known about this at CNN for 24 hours. We withheld the information at the request of the U.S. military because they were concerned that, if we broadcast that information, ISIS forces would know a dozen or so special operation forces were on top of this mountain and the fear was what?

STARR: Look, Wolf, unlike so many American television news networks, we know, we know here at CNN we are broadcast, we are seen around the world. We are seen in some very sketchy places around the world.

So there's always concern. It's a bit of a different situation for CNN because of our worldwide reach. And so when I first learned this information about 24 hours ago, my sources, U.S. military officials said, please hold on to it. Those people are up there. The special forces are on that mountain. They're going to be there for 24 hours. We don't want anybody figuring out that they are there. We need to keep them safe.

They don't exactly know what -- they didn't exactly know what they were walking into. But this is what special forces do. This is what we have seen U.S. commando units do for years now around the world, from going and rescuing Bowe Bergdahl from the hands of the Taliban to Osama bin Laden's compound to terrorism raids in Africa. These are the people in the U.S. military that walk right into the middle of it. When we found this out, we agreed that we didn't want to do anything to put them at peril. One of the biggest issues in any rescue mission now, you can get these people off the mountain, but what the U.S. is wrestling with, what do you do with them, where do you take them next?

You can't just get them off the mountain. You have to have enough security to transport them to a U.N. refugee camp, to somewhere across the border in Syria, believe it or not, or in Northern Iraq. You have to take them somewhere. And many of these people are said to be in failing medical condition, failing medical health.

So the clock is ticking. And right now, what they hope to do is get some initial options to President Obama in as soon as 48 hours. It doesn't mean a mission would start in 48 hours, but get some options to him and begin to put some shape to this thing.

BLITZER: I want you to stand by, Barbara. General Joulwan, stand by as well.

I want to go to the Middle East right now. Elsewhere in the Middle East, I should say. The Israeli military says it's now targeting various target sites across Gaza.

Let's go to Fred Pleitgen and he's in Gaza for us with more.

What's going on right now? The cease-fire ended supposedly about an hour or so ago. We assumed it was going to be extended. There were reports it was going to be extended for five days. Fred, what's the very latest?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very latest, Wolf, is that cease-fire is still in place for the next five days.

However, it does appear as though there are several smaller breaches of that cease-fire which doesn't mean the cease-fire is not still in effect. What we saw earlier today, we were talking about this in the last hour, is there were some outgoing rockets here from Gaza. We did see at least one that was fired here from our position that was then intercepted by the Iron Dome.

The Israeli Defense Forces are saying several other rockets were fired as well. Now what we're hearing and seeing, Wolf, is here limited retaliatory action from the Israelis. We're hearing jets that are over in the skies and we're also seeing impacts here. There were at least four strikes that we have seen from the Israel Defense Forces.

The Palestinians' Al Aqsa Television has so far confirmed two strikes. They say both of these strikes were -- quote -- "in open fields." However, these open fields or some of them have in the past been used to launch rockets from. At this point, it seems as though the Israeli air force is going after these rocket launching sites here, especially to the east of Gaza from where pretty much exactly the position from where we saw the one rocket that was being launched that then was intercepted by the Iron Dome. So, again, the Israeli Defense Forces are in the air over Gaza right

now. It seems as though they are conducting operations. But those Peshmerga seem very, very limited and they seem to be limited to, Wolf, the rockets' launching sites that were used today in the strikes that were aimed at Israel from Gaza.

BLITZER: Stand by, Fred.

I want to go to John Vause in Jerusalem right now.

John, what, the Israelis say five Hamas rockets or Palestinian rockets came into Israel. The Iron Dome intercepted one of them that was heading towards a populated area. And now we're seeing Israeli airstrikes going after I assume the launchers, some other limited strikes going on right now. What are they saying where you are in Jerusalem, John?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The IDF confirming that now carrying out strikes in Gaza in response to the rocket fire, which came from Gaza two-and-a-half-hours before that cease-fire officially came to an end. That's when it started. It went right up until the midnight deadline.

The IDF now saying it's carrying out military operations. The question now is how can this in fact be a cease-fire with both sides firing at each other? Clearly, there does seem to be a violation by the militants in Gaza, although they say the Israelis violated the cease-fire hours before by opening fire on Palestinian fishermen.

The Israelis say they breached a military zone and there were warning shots only, so tit for that. But the cease-fire does seem to have been violated two-and-a-half-hours before the deadline by Palestinian militants, and now the Israelis are responding.

But, Wolf, what is really striking right now, we have heard from the Palestinians saying this five-day cease-fire or humanitarian window, whatever you call it, is now in effect, has been for like an hour or so, but the silence coming from the Israeli side is deafening. There's not been a word. Everyone we have contacted refusing to give us any indication of where the Israelis stand right now.

We're still waiting to hear where things stand with that five-day extension -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The Israelis have told me that quiet will be met by quiet. Even if there's not a formal extension of the cease-fire, if there's quiet coming into Israel, no more rockets or missiles, there will be quiet coming out of Israel. Maybe that's why they are not saying anything right now. This is an extremely sensitive moment.

John Vause, Fred Pleitgen, I want both of you to stand by. General George Joulwan is with me as well.

Elise Labott, our global affairs correspondent, Jim Sciutto, our chief national security correspondent. You have been getting some information from your sources that there's been an agreement for all practical purposes for a five-day extension of the cease-fire. Is that right?


Even as you saw the rockets coming into Israel and the Israelis starting to fall back, senior Egyptian officials told me and there has been an announcement by the government of a five-day extension of the cease-fire. The Israelis were saying, listen, initially, this was one or two rockets. We don't really know what this is about, but maybe we can live with one or two.

I think there was really a desire for everybody even if they weren't going to formally announce it to keep going. I think the concern now is that if this becomes a real retaliatory situation where Hamas in response to these Israeli airstrikes now continues to launch the rockets. Then you get back to the whole cycle. That's what they have been trying to do in Cairo. Start a cease-fire. Keep extending it while they have these underlying issues are addressed so they can continue with the cease-fire, and bridging proposals I'm told have been presented.

I'm told the discussions have been very difficult. Both sides really staking out maximalist positions. The question is, will this recent bout of retaliatory measures have it all fall apart?

BLITZER: This is a dangerous, dangerous situation we're watching.

General Joulwan, you want to weigh in as a military expert?

JOULWAN: We have been going through this for decades. It goes back and forth. Who is willing to take some risks for peace? That's going to be the challenge here.

I hope that this cease-fire holds. It's incumbent upon both sides and Egypt is playing a good role, but the United States has to play a role as well.

BLITZER: Jim, let's get back to what is going on in Iraq right now. We know these dozen or so U.S. special operations forces, they are out of Mount Sinjar, the area where there are literally thousands, maybe 20,000 refugees, these Yazidi minority group who are stranded up there. They are out and they're doing an assessment for the president.

We have been talking a lot about what's called mission creep. All U.S. forces were supposed to be out of Iraq a couple years ago. Then it's going up 100, 200, 300, and now another 129 special operations forces have been deployed to Irbil. There's about 1,000 U.S. troops, active duty military personnel in Iraq right now.


The administration is using a fairly narrow definition of what a combat troop is. They are saying they will not be involved in offensive combat operations, but they are clearly in danger. Right? That's one reason Barbara did not report that the special forces were on top of the mountain.

If you're talking about whether it's an air or a ground evacuation of thousands of people from a war zone, you're going to need boots on the ground again to suss out where you're going to land the planes, to coordinate the flights when they take off, to secure the sites and the airfield where those planes eventually land.

That puts those troops into harm's way, to some degree. They are not combat troops, but they are troops in danger. That's a measure of what mission creep is as well. Right? That even though these still -- these strictly defined objectives, protect the Yazidis, protect U.S. personnel, the risk profile is gradually rising.

BLITZER: General Joulwan, the ground troops that the U.S. has in Iraq right now, they may not necessarily be engaged in combat. But the U.S. Navy and Air Force pilots who are dropping 500-pound laser-guided bombs, my definition, that sounds like combat to me.

JOULWAN: It's combat. And what we're trying to do is limited objectives, protect the civilians. If there is a retrograde of those civilians to safe area somewhere by air or by land, you're going to have a full array of forces, air, land, sea, intelligence assets, all overhead assessing the situation.

We are doing that right now. There's a lot of stuff in the air. And I think that's what -- in my old position, that's what we would be doing right now.

BLITZER: Yes. I can understand you fly a reconnaissance plane over that Mount Sinjar, you get a good sense of what's going on, but there's nothing like sending a dozen U.S. special operations forces there to see it and get a feel for what's going on.


JOULWAN: Exactly. What is the condition of the people? How many are ambulatory, so to speak? How many need to be evacuated, on litters? What's the total count that you're dealing with? Big problem.

BLITZER: They will be reporting back to the president very quickly.

SCIUTTO: There's also the question of which people. Right? Right now the operation is focused on Yazidis.

Ben Rhodes mentioned today Christians under threat as well. Will a decision be made to protect them down the line?


BLITZER: ... situation all around.

All right, guys, thanks very, very much.

Still ahead, a face that stood out of the crowd in the sea of refugees in Iraq. CNN tracks down a young girl who fled for her life.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in Iraq.

CNN has learned about a dozen members of the U.S. special forces spent the last 24 hours on top of Mount Sinjar. And they have been safely extracted.

Also in Iraq, an ISIS commander is revealing new information to CNN about the group's brutal assault on Iraqis. He says that more than 100 Yazidi women and children are now being held captive by the ISIS forces.

Our senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, is joining us now live from Baghdad.

It was another bloody day in the Iraqi capital. First of all, tell us what happened.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two blasts, Wolf, two dead at least and over a dozen injured. Really this is a city gripped by political deadlock. Nouri al-Maliki, who everybody basically says is the prime minister gone past, a successor anointed, refusing today to publicly accept that, leaving a very tense city.


WALSH (voice-over): Normal has been awful here so long, when they say it's worse than ever, pay attention.

We heard the bomb that went off on Tuesday. A survivor filming the immediate panic afterwards. Just down the road is the family home of prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi. Whether he was a target mattered little to these people, hours later, furiously demolishing the checkpoint of the police who did not protect them. Shots fired in the air to scatter them.

The next day, police there in force, refusing to let us film them, making life even tougher to live or for Ahmed to remember any other way of life.

"No," he says, "I don't remember a time when there were no bombs. I don't go out on the streets because I'm afraid."

Business as unusual for Baghdad, shops closed, traffic jams missing.

(on camera): This should be rush hour traffic and cars should find it impossible to move at this time of day around this key roundabout. But in some areas of Baghdad, there's a sense of a city unwilling to venture out on the street and braced for the worst.

(voice-over): Shuttered, locked, amid a paralyzed government and advancing extremists, saying it's never been so bad.

"Right now, 2014, is the worst year yet for Baghdad," he says. "The street is literally empty. Where are the army and the police?"

Down the road, water pipes, hipster haircuts, things ISIS militants would immediately punish brutally, and the recognition that the political elite's failure to organize itself is playing into ISIS' hands.

"When the old prime minister won't hand over power to the new," he says, "ISIS can exploit that and enter Baghdad."

"ISIS won't get into Baghdad," this man proclaims, but he's increasingly alone in what was once a crowded street.


WALSH: Now, Nouri al-Maliki, most people in Baghdad believe, is in the Green Zone with a lot of loyal firepower at his side.

Today, he said very clearly he wants the federal courts to decide if the announcement of him having a successor is in fact constitutional. But the political tide has really already turned here. People in Iraq just simply want him, it seems at this point, to openly say he will step down and let this government try and somehow get its feet so perhaps the West can offer better aid towards Iraq -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's see if he does that. Lots of concern. Nick Paton Walsh in Baghdad, thanks for that report.

The United Nations now describes the Iraqi refugee crisis as a humanitarian catastrophe at the highest level of emergency.

CNN captured the drama and the suffering as the Yazidi refugees were evacuated. Now we're following up on the fate of some of the youngest survivors of this humanitarian nightmare, including a young girl whose tears moved people all over the world.

Our senior international correspondent, Nick -- Ivan Watson, I should say, has been doing some remarkable reporting for us on this crisis.

Ivan, you showed us that young girl when she was on the helicopter with you. You helped save her life. You tracked her down, this young girl, Aziza, and her family. Tell us what you have learned.


Aziza Hamid and her family are out of the danger zone. They have escaped ISIS and they have also escaped Sinjar mountain. But the struggle to survive is still not over.


WATSON (voice-over): In the chaos of an evacuation from Sinjar Mountain, several faces stood out, a 16-month-old baby and two very frightened sisters named Aziza and Dunya.

Two days after their airborne escape, we found their older brother, Thabed, who was also on the helicopter. He led us to the place where they found refuge.

(on camera): Can we see?



(voice-over): After fleeing ISIS, this is how thousands of Iraqis are living. Up on the third floor of this derelict building, we find our friends from the helicopter.

(on camera): Hi, guys. Look at you. I remember you. Hi.

(voice-over): It turns out 16-month-old Heline is a cousin of the teenage sisters Dunya and Aziza.

(on camera): Aziza, hi. It's good to see you.

(voice-over): Dunya says she had mixed feelings when she escaped aboard the chopper.

DUNYA HAMID, REFUGEE (through translator): I was happy we survived, but I was sad and worried about my father.

WATSON: The ordeal began a week-and-a-half ago, when everyone in the city of Sinjar immediately fled upon hearing news that ISIS militants were fast approaching. Amid the panic, Dunya's older brother says his father refused to leave.

THABED HAMID, REFUGEE (through translator): We all tried hard to convince my dad, but he refused to go. He said it would be a humiliation. I decided I couldn't let them capture the girls and women, so we left.

WATSON: The family didn't make it far in their car before they ran into ISIS fighters shooting at fleeing civilians on a bridge.

"I jumped out of a car and off the bridge," Aziza says, "because I was scared of ISIS."

The family of 12 fled on foot up Sinjar Mountain, from the frying pan into the fire.

D. HAMID (through translator): If we were able to find a tree where we could rest in the shade, we were lucky. For the first four days, we had no food, only water. Any bread we found, we fed to the little kids to keep them alive.

WATSON: The family lasted a few more days, thanks to aid drops from the sky and several sheep that they caught and slaughtered, but they realized they wouldn't survive much longer unless they escaped.

(on camera): The family says they tried and failed several times to get on board a helicopter to escape the mountain. When our chopper landed, they say they were lucky that they were the only people around in that particular area. The fact that, in that chaos, all of them were able to get on board

the aircraft is just short of a miracle.

(voice-over): Now safe in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Hamid family lives like thousands of other refugees, on a few square feet of bare concrete.

On Tuesday, the family got amazing news, a phone call from their missing father. He escaped ISIS and made it up to Sinjar Mountain. Like thousands of Iraqis on the run, the Hamid family's story is one of grit and survival against terrifying odds. It is a story that's far from over.


WATSON: Now, Wolf, the Haneed (ph) family, they are lucky because they got off in a helicopter. Many, many more people trying to escape Sinjar mountain have chosen to take an arduous and dangerous 12- to 15-hour trek by foot to neighboring Syria.

And we're hearing more and more about families who lost loved ones on that marathon hike through the desert, who quite literally left loved ones behind as they succumbed to dehydration and the extreme heat.

So this family is luck. They are now like so many other families, tens of thousands now, trying to figure out how to feed themselves as refugees here in this part of Iraqi Kurdistan. There's not an organized system for feeding these people, for giving them medical care.

What is kind of heartwarming is seeing the Kurds of this city that I'm in stepping up and trying to help this refugee population, whether it's bringing them clothes or helping them wash out the derelict buildings that they are now sleeping in or just bringing them bowls of soup.

BLITZER: The building is derelict indeed, sort of half built, if you will.

You know, it's hard to believe, Ivan, that you and your people on the helicopter, we all saw the video as you guys brought out about 20 of these refugees, including Aziza (ph) and her family, the dad, of course, left behind.

But let's keep some perspective. There are at least 10,000, maybe 20,000 people on top of that mountain who are still waiting for help right now. Isn't that right?

WATSON: I mean, the figures are hard to nail down. I've heard one senior Kurdish official saying it may be as much as 70,000. We saw hundreds on the ground. But there's no question from what the family told us that the conditions there were very, very grim. They said everybody was trying to survive. They were rationing out -- one family we talked to, rationing out what water they had in bottle caps and taking turns taking sips of that water. Some of the aid is getting to the people, but it's also first come,

first serve when bags come raining out of aircraft in the sky. It's the strongest and fittest who can get ahold of it.

And a brother of Aziza (ph) and Dunya (ph), he was so worried that his child -- his children might die from hunger and starvation that he took a dangerous hike back down the mountain towards the city of Sinjar where ISIS were to sneak some food back up the mountain -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And there are so many, so many just like Aziza (ph). Thanks for that reporting, Ivan Watson, on the scene for us doing an amazing job for all of us, all of our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Just ahead, much more on this story coming up. Also other news we're following, including some new details in the moments before an unarmed teenager was killed by a police officer in Missouri. The police chief is now speaking out to CNN.


BLITZER: We're learning details about the police shooting of an unarmed teenager. Michael Brown's death set off four nights of violent disturbances in a St. Louis suburb. Our national correspondent, Jason Carroll, is on the scene for us.

What's the latest, Jason?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a few more details about the officer that was involved in that shooting. That officer apparently received an injury to his face that occurred before the shooting, and the police chief tells me that officer is still emotionally rattled over what happened that day.


CARROLL (voice-over): New details emerging about the moments before an officer shot and killed this unarmed teenager. The police chief in Ferguson, Missouri, telling me the officer sustained an injury in an altercation before the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The officer was taken to the hospital and treated for a swollen face. That's pretty much all I know.

CARROLL: Police said Michael Brown attacked the officer in his car and then tried to take his gun. The officer, they say, then opened fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a devastating thing to -- to take a life under any circumstances, and so he's going to have to deal with that. He's very shaken about what happened that day, and the aftermath.

CARROLL: Dorian Johnson was with Michael Brown on that day; and he says his friend was unarmed and his hands were in the air when he was shot. DORIAN JOHNSON, FRIEND OF MICHAEL BROWN: At no point in time did they

struggle over the weapon, because the weapon was already drawn on us. So we were more trying to get out of the way of the angle or aim of the weapon besides going towards the weapon, because it was drawn at us already.

CARROLL: Tensions are running high since 18-year-old Brown was shot while he and Johnson walked home from a store. Johnson says the officer is white. There are calls for the officer's name to be released, but officials aren't naming the officer involved in the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was also concern for the officer's life. There has been death threats to many of our officers. Hackers have tried to find personal information and display it online in social media, asking people to target myself, council members, our police chief. The county police chief's own home was put up on Instagram and people asked to go there and assault him.

CARROLL: The lawyer representing the Brown family says the officer's name should be released.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, REPRESENTING BROWN'S FAMILY: That doesn't give the community confidence. That doesn't make it transparent. And remember, we've got a long way to go before this community starts to believe that the police are going to give them all of the answers and not try to sweep it under the rug.

CARROLL: Protests have erupted in the St. Louis suburb since the shooting on Saturday. Overnight, police fired tear gas at demonstrators who threw bottles at them. The latest protest follows clashes with police and looting on Sunday and Monday.

Michael Brown Sr., the teen's father, renewed calls for people to steer clear of violence and says he just wants justice for his son.

MICHAEL BROWN SR., VICTIM'S FATHER: I need all of us to come together and do this right, the right way. The right way so we can get something done about this.


CARROLL: Wolf, in terms of the investigation, a lot of the physical evidence has already been gathered. Once all of the information is gathered, it will be presented to the grand jury. And the St. Louis prosecutor says that the grand jury will decide whether or not charges are filed. And when asked about a timeline, Wolf, he said, quote, "There is no timeline" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jason Carroll on the scene for us in Missouri. Thanks, Jason, very much.

In addition to the ongoing criminal investigation of Michael Brown's death, investigation the Justice Department are also looking into possible civil rights violations. Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, a former assistant FBI director.

Tom, the FBI has opened a civil rights investigation. Now they're involved in looking what's going on. What are they specifically looking for?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: What they're looking at, Wolf, that the shooting was not justified and, therefore, Michael Brown's civil rights were -- were taken away from him. The difficulty for the investigation is they're interviewing witnesses. We have a separate police investigation being conducted by the St. Louis County to determine whether or not the police officer was justified and possibly committed manslaughter or serious crimes.

So you have, you know, in a sense supplemental and parallel investigations going on. Both sides don't want to take witnesses. They don't want to have one side cause problems for the other side, if there's also a prosecution. So it's a very sensitive matter on both sides.

BLITZER: What are the big legal issues here at play?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the -- the first issue is factual. This is what happened here. We've obviously talked about this a lot. But at this point, it is still very much up in the air about how this shooting took place. Was it justified? That's the most important issue.

And then what you have to decide is were there any violations of Missouri law? Was it manslaughter or, given the FBI's involvement, is there an -- is there a civil rights violation?

But this is a complicated thing. It probably took place very fast, and you have lots of witnesses who may have information. All that's going to have to be assembled. It's going to take weeks, if not months.

BLITZER: I spoke last night with the young man who was walking with Michael Brown when he was shot and killed by this police officer. Listen to this little excerpt from what he told me.


JOHNSON: We didn't have a sharp object on us. Nothing. I didn't have pockets on my shorts that I had on. And the police did not interview me at the scene. It's almost like he wasn't paying attention to me anymore. It's like he was in shock himself, and his vision wasn't on anything but my friend, Big Mike.


BLITZER: What do you make of his account?

FUENTES: Well, I mean, that's one witness, and it counts for a lot, because he was with Mike Brown. But they also need to be interviewing other witnesses who were present and the other police officers who were also present, including the officer who pulled the trigger in this situation. There's a lot of investigation yet to be done. And I think, you know, in fairness here, we have a tragedy that's affected the family of Michael Brown, the community Michael Brown was in but also the law enforcement community. They have a tragedy, a police officer that's made a terrible mistake, let's say, and killed somebody that he shouldn't have. That's bad for all law enforcement also.

So this is -- this is a no-win situation, really, for anybody.

BLITZER: That young man just -- I spoke to last night. He had not yet been interviewed by the police, even though he was walking with Michael Brown and he's got a story to share.

TOOBIN: That's certainly surprising. And I listened to your interview, and -- at its full length. He tells a long and complicated story that, frankly, is not that easy to follow. What has to happen with a witness like that is they -- he has to sit down with investigators and have to say, OK, where were you standing? Where was he standing? Who said what to whom? When? How did -- it's a meticulous, difficult interrogation to go through, and it takes time, and it's indispensable if you want to find out what happened.

BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, Tom Fuentes, guys, thanks very much.

Just ahead, the latest on the fighting in Ukraine amid-growing fears of a possible Russian invasion. A humanitarian convoy is raising serious suspicion right now.

After Hillary Clinton seemed to criticize her former boss -- we're talking about the president of the United States -- did she and the president actually tonight on Martha's Vineyard hug it out? We'll tell you about their meeting scheduled this hour.


BLITZER: The following breaking news right now on the situation in Ukraine. There's intense fighting, deadly fighting going on between government forces and pro-Russia separatists. And the intensifying battles are making the humanitarian crisis worse.

CNN's Will Ripley is working the story. He's joining us from Kiev.

Will, how bad is it?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the United Nations is so concerned, Wolf, they just put out alarming new numbers. The death toll has skyrocketed in recent days. Now, more than 2,000 people confirmed killed, including at least 20 children.

And the U.N. is saying that that's a conservative estimate because in the city of Luhansk, they haven't been able to get any updates because the city's been cut off from the outside world for nearly two weeks. No food and no water for the families who are trapped in the middle of all this.

Meanwhile, you have a huge convoy, nearly 300 trucks, military trucks painted white coming from Russia, heading towards the border right now. We know that they headed for Kharkiv.

And when word came that the Ukrainian government wanted to either inspect the trucks, or turned them away, the convoy took a detour and right now, its location is unknown. Wolf, the president of Ukraine is saying within the past few hours, that if this convoy were to try to enter Ukraine, illegally, they would consider it an invasion.

BLITZER: Will, we know the Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Crimea today. How was he received?

RIPLEY: Well, he's meeting with his top security advisers in Crimea and tomorrow, with some of his biggest cabinet members at his side, including the prime minister. He's going to be making a big speech. He's going to be talking about a lot of things. And we're going to be watching that speech closely to see if he addresses the situation unfolding in eastern Ukraine.

Just the fact that he's in Crimea is very offensive to the new Ukrainian government here. They say essentially having Putin so close in an area that was annexed, taken from Ukraine earlier this year, they're very concerned, they're very upset about it. They want to see what he has to say.

BLITZER: Will Ripley -- joining us from Kiev in Ukraine -- thanks, Will, very much.

Just ahead, CNN asks Hillary Clinton about some fence-mending with President Obama. The two had a meeting this hour. There was talk that they would hug it out. Did it happen? We're going to find out.


BLITZER: The political world has been expecting a big "hug it out" session between President Obama and Hillary Clinton this hour. The former secretary of state planned to meet with her former boss on Martha's Vineyard, after giving an interview that was sort of pretty critical of the president's foreign policy.

Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us now.

You had a chance to catch up with Hillary Clinton on Martha's Vineyard, just a little while ago, Jim.


BLITZER: You asked her about all of this. How did it go?

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf.

Sounding very much like a presidential candidate doing some campaign cleanup, Hillary Clinton made a brief statement to reporters before a book-signing here on Martha's Vineyard earlier today. As you recall earlier this week, she laid into the president's foreign policy, suggesting that he was partly responsible for the rise of ISIS in Iraq, and she also said that one of his foreign policy principles, "Don't do stupid stuff", is not an organizing principle for the United States.

Now, she did say during her comments that she looks forward to hugging it out with the president later on this evening. But she did not necessarily walk back her comments. I asked her about that call to the president.

Here's what she had to say.


ACOSTA: Was it a hard choice to call him?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: No. Read in the book. We agreed we are committed to the values and the interests and the security of our country together. We have disagreements, as any partners and friends, as we are might very well have, but I'm proud that I served with him and for him and I'm looking forward to seeing him tonight.

REPORTER: Do you think he's handling the situation in Iraq right now? Would you be doing it differently?

CLINTON: I'm excited about signing books.


ACOSTA: And there was no response to that question.

Now, for anybody who wants photographic evidence of this encounter -- sorry, that's not happening. The White House says they're not allowing any photographs of the president and Hillary Clinton hugging it out later on this evening at the home of Vernon Jordan, the former Democratic aide to the Clintons.

We should point out when we asked the White House spokesman here, Eric Schultz, about this, he said that Hillary Clinton and President Obama, he was tongue in cheek here, Wolf, said that they've had many hugs over the years and that many of those hugs have been photographed and that they would provide a readout of this encounter later on this evening, Wolf.

But honestly, Wolf, how do you read out a hug? I just don't see that one happening. So --

BLITZER: There could be a lot of -- there could be a lot of people at that party at Vernon Jordan's house out there on Martha's Vineyard, for his wife Ann Jordan, it's her birthday -- I assume a lot of people have little smartphones. They're going to be taking pictures, tweeting them, Instagraming them. We're going to see those.

I assume, we'll see that picture at some point.

ACOSTA: It's hard to stop it, Wolf. We do know from some fund- raisers, sometimes, that the cameras, the smartphones are taken, but I doubt that's going to happen out here in tony Martha's Vineyard. I can't imagine taking away cell phones. We'll have to hope for some social media help later on this evening, Wolf.

BLITZER: I can't imagine taking away people's smartphones or whatever, as they walk into Vernon Jordan's house to celebrate a little birthday party, the president will be there, the former president, and Hillary Clinton. We'll see how that hug works out.

All right. Jim Acosta, thanks very, very much for that report.

Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Go ahead and tweet me @WolfBlitzer. You can always tweet our show @CNNSitRoom.

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That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.