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Trump Defends Pelosi, Attacks Former Speaker Paul Ryan; Source: Trump Discusses Again Replacing His Director of National Intelligence; Trump Confirms Immigration Raids Start Sunday; Putin Sells Sophisticated Missiles to NATO Ally Turkey; New Forecast: Barry Expected to Hit Louisiana as Hurricane; Rep. Ro Khanna (D) California is Interviewed About Labor Secretary's Resignation; John Hickenlooper (D-CO) Presidential Candidate is Interviewed About Immigration and His Presidential Candidacy. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 12, 2019 - 17:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news.

Powerful storm, the new forecast is just coming in for tropical storm Barry which is expected to make landfall in Louisiana as a hurricane bringing a storm surge and heavy rain to an area that is already suffering flooding. Why officials are so concerned.

Resign and replace. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigns amid an uproar over the sex crime plea deal he oversaw for Jeffrey Epstein a decade ago as a U.S. attorney. That comes as sources say President Trump is considering replacing the director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Fiery hearing. Following a chilling new congressional report about babies being separated from their migrant parents at the border, a hearing turns fiery as furious lawmakers lash out at a former immigration official.

And Putin's show of force. Russia delivers a very advanced missile system to Turkey who just happens to be a NATO ally. How worrisome is Vladimir Putin's latest show of force.

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: Breaking news, the latest forecast is just in for tropical storm Barry, which is expected to make landfall in Louisiana tomorrow as a hurricane. With the Mississippi River already above flood stage, Barry's storm surge and heavy rainfall could be especially dangerous. The mayor of New Orleans is asking residents and visitors to shelter in place while people in some areas are asked to voluntarily evacuate.

Also breaking, sources tell CNN that President Trump has talked with his advisers over the past few days about replacing director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. That follows today's resignation of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta under fire for a plea deal he worked out as a U.S. attorney a decade ago which gave multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein a very light sentence for sex crimes.

I'll speak with Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper and Congressman Ro Khanna of the Oversight Committee. And our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories.

As the gulf coast braces for Barry, we begin with our national correspondent Ryan Young. He's in New Orleans for us. So, Ryan, what is the very latest there?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, people are worried about rain and especially all of the water that is here. You look at the Mississippi behind me and the mighty Mississippi 12 to 15 inches of water could be headed this way and of course with the water already threatening some areas, people are being told to shelter in place.


MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D), NEW ORLEANS: We're focusing on 8:00 p.m. This evening, asking people to stay at home, shelter in place.

YOUNG (voice-over): Heavy rains, powerful floods and a strong storm surge. That is the triple threat that Barry could be packing as tonight it is slowly churns toward Louisiana.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: I want the folks in Louisiana to know we're taking this very seriously.

YOUNG: Barry is the first tropical system to threaten the U.S. this season and is presenting New Orleans with a dangerous problem.

CANTRELL: Prepare for heavy rain, slow-moving with consistent rainfall.

YOUNG: The Mississippi river is already about 10 feet above the normal level for this time of the year. And Barry storm surge could cause it to rise another two to three feet, meaning the river could crest at 19 feet tomorrow. A level it hasn't reached in nearly 70 years, according to the National Weather Service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these different components are adding up so it's just a unique circumstance.

YOUNG: Officials say they are confident none of the levees in New Orleans will be breached. The city's pumps were put to test earlier this week when the rain underground drainage pumps, pipes and canals briefly flooding streets and underpasses.

EDWARDS: We feel very, very good about the situation of New Orleans and we believe it's going to be able to with stand this storm.

YOUNG: Barry is also expected to dump anywhere from 10 to 15 inches of rain and that is forcing mandatory evacuations in some low-lying areas.

BENJAMIN SCHOTT, NWS METEOROLOGIST, NEW ORLEANS: Tropical storm Barry is a dangerous and life-threatening storm.

YOUNG: But despite the evacuation order, some residents are preparing to ride out the storm, stocking up on sandbags and supplies.

TIM BRADBERRY, LIVES IN GRAND ISLE: I expect some tidal surge and maybe a little flooding. I don't see no point really have to leave.

YOUNG: President Trump has declared a state of emergency for Louisiana. And the governor has activated 3,000 National Guard troops to assist with the destruction this storm is expected to bring and it isn't just Louisiana expected to feel the impact. Mississippi, Alabama and the Western Florida panhandle are all also preparing for extreme rain and flooding.


[17:05:08] YOUNG: 118 pumps are ready to go just in case the water does come into the city. But, Wolf, we talked to someone in the ninth ward who said they're only leaving if God tells them to. So you could understand there are some people who just don't believe in the storm.

BLITZER: Good luck over there, Ryan Young in New Orleans for us.

Let's get some more in the latest storm forecast from our meteorologist Tom Sater. He's in the CNN Weather Center. What is the latest forecast, Tom?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it looks like Barry has moved about 30 miles since the last advisory. It's currently, Wolf, 70 miles south, southeast of Morgan City. It's still expected just before landfall Saturday morning to reach a category one status. It means very little because this is all about being a rain-maker. We were discussing this in the Weather Center. It wouldn't be a bad thing for this to become a hurricane.

Let's get some power behind it. Let's get it in and get it out but it looks like Barry is going to hang around the state of Louisiana until maybe Monday. So there is our first problem. Unlike, of course, other situations where it starts to pick up speed later in the week, we'll be talking about that, but 10, 20 inches still right on cue. We're looking at pressure dropping which means it is trying to intensify. Broad circulation is really just hard to find a core here. They're starting to see some feeder bands now in the panhandle of Florida. This is the time now where we may be able to see a few unfortunate spin-ups, meaning maybe small tornados. But again, most of the precipitation, even though some is moving in, it is all about the rain and the storm surge. Never before have we had a tropical system move toward the mouth of the Mississippi River with storm surge battling now those extremely high levels on the Mississippi trying to exit.

So, again, we got to rely on the expertise of the men and women of the Army Corp of Engineers. They say that the levees will hold. Two days ago the forecast for the Mississippi River was going to be at 20 feet. They dropped it to 19, which is great news. That is a big difference from that one foot. All of these red dots along the Mississippi River are areas where the levees are below 20. North of the river, to the east of New Orleans, these areas of red are areas where they have failed during Katrina. So they're going to be watching it and, yes, the water is going to rise but more importantly, Wolf, it is all about the 10 to 20 inches of rain. I fear hundreds and hundreds of 911 calls, 250 911 calls just two days ago when nine inches fell.

BLITZER: Yes, this is a dangerous situation. Tom Sater, we'll get back to you. We'll have much more storm coverage just ahead. I'll speak next hour with the mayor of New Orleans LaToya Cantrell.

There is other breaking news we're following right now, including one high-profile departure from the Trump administration has been announced. Sources say the president is considering making another dramatic move.

Let's go to our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. He's got the very latest. Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well President Trump once again has another acting member of his cabinet as Labor Secretary Alex Acosta announced he is stepping down. A senior official said the president have been stewing over Secretary Acosta's fate after he was dragged into the Jeffrey Epstein scandal but there may be another top official who may be heading for the exit here at the White House. The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, we're told the president may be ready to make a change there as well.


ACOSTA (voice-over): There wasn't much laboring when it came to the fate of Alex Acosta as the president walked the embattled secretary in front of the cameras to announce his departure.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And Alex, I think you'll agree, I said you don't have to do this. He doesn't have to do this.

ACOSTA: The outgoing labor secretary told reporters he didn't want to be a distraction amid growing questions over the sweetheart deal he gave to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

ALEXANDER ACOSTA, OUTGOING LABOR SECRETARY: So I called the president this morning. I told him that I thought the right thing was to step aside.

But sources told CNN the president had been stewing over Acosta's fate after praising the secretary earlier on the week.

TRUMP: He's done a fantastic job.

ACOSTA: A senior administration official said there were concerns the revelations in the Epstein case would provide ammunition to Democrats in 2020.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it is certainly clear that he had to go. I think what this shows more broadly is a pattern in this administration where the country's business cannot get done because of these horrifying scandals that touch the White House.

ACOSTA: Despite his past friendship with Epstein, Mr. Trump claimed he once tossed the multi-millionaire out of his club in Florida.

TRUMP: It shows you one thing that I have good taste. But Jeffrey Epstein was not somebody that I respected. I threw him out --

ACOSTA: The president also confirmed reports that I.C.E. agents are launching a multi-city roundup of undocumented immigrants this weekend.

TRUMP: We're not giving warning. No, we're not giving warning. If the word gets out, it gets out. It starts on Sunday and they're going to take people out.

ACOSTA: A senior administration official said the president's disclosure could jeopardize the operation.

TRUMP: We're focused on criminals. We're focused on if you look at MS- 13 but when people come into our country, we take those people out and we take them out very legally.

[17:10:05] ACOSTA: The president made time to respond to criticism from Paul Ryan published in a new book "American Carnage" which details how the former House Speaker says Mr. Trump didn't know anything about government when he came into office.

TRUMP: So, Paul Ryan was not a talent. He wasn't a leader. When the people in freedom and great congressmen wanted to go after the Dems for things that they did very badly, he wouldn't give subpoenas, whereas Nancy Pelosi hands them out like they're cookies.

ACOSTA: The president also fired back at Vice President Joe Biden.

TRUMP: Everybody that knows him knows he's a weak man, he's an ineffective man. President Xi laughs at guys like that.

ACOSTA: After Biden described Mr. Trump as a foreign policy disaster.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The world sees Trump for what he is - insincere, ill-informed and impulsive and sometimes corrupt, dangerously incompetent and incapable in my view of world leadership and leadership at home.

ACOSTA: But the president surprisingly came to the defense of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she was blasted by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The New York Democrat appears to suggest Pelosi criticism of outspoken freshman House members was racially motivated, something Ocasio-Cortez denied.

TRUMP: She's not a racist, OK. She's not a racist. For them to call her a racist is a disgrace.


ACOSTA: Now as for other departure that may be on the horizon here at the White House, sources tell CNN the president is frustrated with the director of National Intelligence Dan Coats but replacing Coats now would leave yet another vacancy in a critical national security position in this administration. The Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security both have acting secretaries right now.

And one other thing that we're watching, Wolf, we're waiting to find out if, in fact, the former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony next week will in fact be delayed. Our Capitol Hill team earlier in the day, Wolf, was reporting that it may be delayed next week, which would put off potentially for another week a huge spectacle here in Washington. Wolf?

BLITZER: We're standing by for final word on that. Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California, he's a member of Oversight Committee. Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Wolf, great to be back on.

BLITZER: Let's begin with the latest departure from the President Trump's cabinet. Does Alex Acosta still need to testify before the House Oversight Committee despite his resignation?

KHANNA: He does. Because Americans are concerned that there are two different types of Justice Department - justice for those who are rich like Epstein and get away with something of a 13-month sentence for trafficking in a sex offense and others who get long jail sentences for marijuana offenses. So Acosta needs to explain why that discrepancy exists.

BLITZER: CNN has also learned Congressman that the director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who you just heard Jim Acosta report, might also be on his way out. What impact would that departure have on President Trump's overall National Security team?

KHANNA: Well it is concerning because this president has a pattern of removing those who stand up to him or give him information which he disagrees with. He got rid of Mattis because Mattis was standing up to him with Shanahan. Shanahan, there was the scandal that was in part leaked because Shanahan may not have supported the president, and Coats has had the temerity to sometimes question the president. So we see that the president just wants yes people around him.

BLITZER: The House Oversight Committee held a hearing today on family separations and conditions at various migrant detention facilities on the southern border. Lawmakers became very emotional and at times very angry as did the former acting I.C.E. Director Tom Homan who was a witness of the hearing. I want you to watch a little bit of this.


REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-MA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: I've sat here and listened to horror stories. I thought it was fiction. I thought it was a novel reading from Charles Dickens. And the conditions that prevailed 19th century London -- children without soap, children in filth -- conditions that none of us would ever countenance with our own children. Well any child in our care is our children.

TOM HOMAN, FORMER ACTING I.C.E. DIRECTOR: Let me explain why I'm sitting here so frustrated because I'm the only one in this room that wore a green uniform and been in that line. I'm the only one in this room who has found dead aliens in a trail that were abandoned by smugglers and just left them there because they weren't money anymore. I'm the only one in this room that stood on the back of a tractor- trailer surrounded by 19 dead aliens including a 5-year-old little boy who suffocated in death in his father's arms. I was there. And I saw and I smelled it and it is terrible. And I still -- I still have nightmares to this day.


BLITZER: Congressman, you were at the hearing, is your committee getting the answers you need from the administration about its policies on the border especially impacting these kids.

[17:15:03] KHANNA: No, we're not. And Tom Homan was a badgering witness. He wasn't answering the questions. He was interrupting Gerry Connolly. He was interrupting Ayanna Pressley. He wasn't answering questions that all Americans regardless of party want to know. Why can't we get these kids food? Why can't we get them blankets? Why can't we get them access to a doctor? We're not talking about anything more than upholding basic human rights. Frankly upholding basic moral principles rooted in faith.

BLITZER: Congressman Ro Khanna thanks as usual for joining us.

KHANNA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, the latest forecast is in for tropical storm Barry which is expected to hit the Louisiana coast tomorrow as a hurricane.


[17:20:32] BLITZER: Breaking news, during a speech this afternoon in Wisconsin, President Trump lamented that he isn't able to use military force in the southern border of the United States. Earlier, he confirmed immigration raids targeting thousands of undocumented immigrants will begin on Sunday. Something a senior administration official says is, quote, "head scratching and could jeopardize the entire operation."

Joining us now in "THE SITUATION ROOM" is Democratic presidential candidate, the former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Governor, thank you so much for joining us.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Wolf. Thanks for having me on.

BLITZER: So Denver, of course, state capital of Colorado. It is on the target list of these 10 cities that the administration wants to raid looking for undocumented migrants. What would you have done if you were still governor of Colorado in response to this upcoming I.C.E. operation? HICKENLOOPER: Well, I was mayor of Denver before I was governor so I think we and there are a number of laws that have gone through the judicial review, but the local safety, the state patrol, the local police are not intended to try and help the federal government do their immigration work. So that's the first place.

The second question you've really got to ask is why would the president create this sense of terror and hysteria - I mean if they've been found by a judge they should be deported in most cases, probably they committed some sort of violent crime. Well let's go through the process and be transparent. Let's have a priority list and do things the way that those of us who have actually been successful in governing, these are the processes that work. Why won't he do that?

BLITZER: The president says I.C.E. is focusing in on going after criminals and that Democrats like you, he says, are resisting his immigration policies because you want open borders. Do you want open borders?

HICKENLOOPER: No, I've said -- when I first ran for mayor in 2003 and I've never run for student council but you got to have borders that work and I believe you got to have laws that are obeyed. But that means we've got to go a comprehensive resolution of our immigration issues and that starts with making sure we have a humanitarian process at the border for the refugees that are coming, I think it means we also go back to making significant investments in Guatemala and El Salvador and Honduras to make sure that there is not a source of those refugees. But then we also have to make sure that we have a system here for all of the people that are here undocumented right now and make sure that -- we're not going to deport 11 million people. Let's get to a conclusion whereby this country can continue to move forward and be the beacon of freedom and hope that it has been from the very beginning.

BLITZER: A lot of Democrats and Republicans here in Washington and on Capitol Hill, they would like comprehensive immigration reform but they're not yet ready to take up that matter.

Let's talk a little bit while I have you governor about your presidential campaign. In a CNN poll just after the first Democratic primary debate, you registered at less than 1 percent. What are you going to do differently during CNN's debate later this month in order to stand out from the pack?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I'm going to keep pushing that I am the - really the one person running who is actually done what everyone else is talking about. Colorado got to universal background checks, gun safety, we got to near universal health care coverage, we became the number one economy in the country. I mean people cared about that. I think now I've got to draw a better vision of what that means for the future of America and what means to have an economy that is really roaring forward but at the same time with the highest environmental standards, the highest ethical standards and making sure that we begin to re-grow the middle class.

BLITZER: According to a report in "The Washington Post," as you probably know, several of your top aides supposedly left your campaign because they advised to you drop your presidential bid and instead run for the Senate against the Republican incumbent Senator Cory Gardner. First of all, is that true?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, we had a disruption, let's call it that and not -- several weeks ago. You know in business, in politics, I've rebooted a number of times and oftentimes things have dramatically improved and I'm in Iowa now, I'm going to be in New Hampshire early next week and we're drawing that clear distinction that we were able to get the environmental community and the oil and gas industry to actually create methane regulations, right, methane, 25 times worse than CO2 for climate change.

[17:25:12] We were the one place where we could get it done. I think that message resonates with people in Iowa and I think it resonates with people in New Hampshire and South Carolina and Nevada.

BLITZER: Democrats certainly, as you know, could use another Senate seat. If your campaign, Governor, were to fail, and not gather the momentum you clearly want, would you consider dropping out of your presidential bid in exchange for a run at the Senate? You're a former two-term governor. You're popular in Colorado. You would potentially represent a significant threat to the Republican incumbent.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, Wolf, at this point I'm a 100 percent focused on trying to be the Democratic nominee for president and I feel like not only can I beat Trump, and I think in many ways I'm the one person that could legitimately say I'll beat him in Ohio, in Michigan and Pennsylvania and North Carolina. I created a strong economy. I've created those jobs but I think I can also bring the country together on the other side. And I think I've got a responsibility to myself and I think to the country that I've got to give it 100 percent. So I'm not -- people call or ask me questions that I don't even pay attention. I'm very, very focused on here is who I am, here is what I did in Colorado, here's how I can expand that for the United States of America.

BLITZER: One of your Democratic rivals, Senator Kamala Harris is directly taking on the front-runner Joe Biden. I want you to listen to what she had to say, an exchange she had today about the former vice president and his behavior in the last debate.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're on a debate stage and if you have not prepared and you're not ready for somebody to point out a difference of opinion about the history of segregation in our country and what was necessary to deal with that, which at that time was busing, then you're probably not ready.


BLITZER: Do you think her attack on Joe Biden is fair game?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, you could tell that the campaign is picking up steam when people are beginning to sharpen their tools and begin to attack each other. I don't think that is in the best interest of the country and I understand how that works. I still never have done a negative ad. I've never come out and attacked my opponents. Doesn't mean I don't draw a clear line of distinction and I'm open about those places where President Trump has made promises that haven't been fulfilled, but I think it is -- it is certainly in the Democratic primary if we're not careful and I think this also gets to the massive expansion of government that some of the Democrats are proposing. We got to make sure we don't help re-elect President Trump. You know I would argue he's one of the worst presidents we've ever had. We don't want to give him any extra assistance.

BLITZER: Governor Hickenlooper, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck out there on the campaign trail.

HICKENLOOPER: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

BLITZER: Thank you. Coming up, will congressional Democrats delay next week's scheduled public testimony from Robert Mueller?

And is the director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on the outs with President Trump?


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Today, President Trump actually defended the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, but attacked the former House Speaker, Paul Ryan. Let's ask our political experts about all of this.

And Paul Ryan in this new book, "American Carnage" by Tim Alberta, said this about the President -- I told myself I got to have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right. Because I'm telling you, he didn't know anything about government. I wanted to scold him all the time.

Today, the President responded to that. Also responded to what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had to say about the current Speaker. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Paul Ryan let us down. Paul Ryan was a terrible Speaker. Frankly, he was a baby. He didn't know what hell he was doing.

Cortez should treat Nancy Pelosi with respect. She should not be doing what she's doing. And I'll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi that you know better than I do. She is not a racist, OK? She is not a racist. For them to call her a racist is a disgrace.


BLITZER: All right. So your reaction?

RYAN LIZZA, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, ESQUIRE: Well, I mean, first of all, it's probably not -- internal Democratic politics being defended by President Trump is probably not the ally you want, you know, out there saying that. Whether -- you know, whether he's correct or not. So that's -- that's not the high-profile political person Nancy Pelosi wants making the -- you know, the case for her.

On the Tim Alberta book, I've actually read this book. It is a fantastic book and filled with nuggets like that. And, look, that's -- you know, Paul Ryan's left the scene now. I think he's pretty free to speak. But classic Trump coming -- Paul Ryan making a fairly measured criticism of the President and Trump, you know, hitting him back twice as hard with a sort of schoolyard taunt.

BLITZER: We shouldn't, you know, Abby, be surprised that the President reacts the way he does in the face of criticism. Why is it that so many of these Republicans wait until they're out of office before they say what they really believe?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is a great question, Wolf. I mean, I think especially for Paul Ryan who, especially in the latter part of his tenure, really went out of his way to defend President Trump in the face of a lot of things that reporters who spoke to him privately and who understand what's really going on know that he had a hard time with.

[17:35:06] And now we know because it's on the record in this book, but he worked very hard to patch things over publicly and privately with President Trump. And it worked. I think toward the end, by all accounts, they had a pretty good relationship.

But this book is laying bare what has been underneath the surface all along, the President has never trusted Paul Ryan and Paul Ryan has never liked Trump. And that's just the fact of the matter. They patched it up for a couple of years in order to get a few things done. And now that that's over, Paul Ryan is telling the world how it he really feels. But for a lot of people, it seems a little -- too little too late.

BLITZER: Samantha Vinograd, you spent most of your career in national security. These reports that we're now getting that the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, may be the next senior Trump administration official to be removed.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, and we don't need another acting cabinet-level official. At this point, we have four currently with Acosta's resignation. But when it comes to the Director of National Intelligence, it's largely irrelevant who's filling that seat right now. We have a lame duck DNI in Dan Coats right now.

President Trump puts more trust in Vladimir Putin's intelligence analysis than Dan Coats, and President Trump is the ultimate client for the intelligence community. President Trump is not looking for a Director of National Intelligence. He's really looking for a political intern that shares information with him that fits his political talking point.

So if Dan Coats leaves, whomever comes in next is going to be faced with the same challenges. The President is going to call on the intelligence community when he needs information that fits a campaign slogan, and he's going to undermine them and discount what they're saying if it's not censored before it meets his desk, if it doesn't fit, again, with the 2020 campaign slogan.

BLITZER: And you remember, in Helsinki, the President clearly didn't accept Dan Coats' view about Russian interference. He accepted Putin's view.

PHILLIP: Absolutely, and that was really the -- one of the many sources of tension in the intelligence community. I mean, Dan Coats is a professional. He's a former senator, a former congressman, and he's one of the last men standing of the people who President Trump brought in at the beginning to give him a sort of a sturdy foundation, the kind of establishment figures that would give him credibility on foreign policy.

But the President has grown tired of those people, and one by one, they have left the administration. Dan Coats is one of the few left. And President Trump has, frankly, become estranged from him for many, many months now. At this point, I think, for Dan Coats, it's a matter of staying in the job so that somebody is in that job because it's not clear who would replace him and if the President would pick someone who can be confirmed by the Senate.

LIZZA: Yes --

BLITZER: Yes, very quickly.

LIZZA: No, I just want to say I disagree with Sam that it doesn't matter that he's there. I think, you know, as the sort of these establishment adults vacate the administration one by one, it's -- you know, policy-making becomes worse.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There's a lot more news we're following. President Trump confirms federal raids aimed at arresting and deporting thousands of undocumented immigrants will begin this Sunday. Up next, the harsh realities faced by undocumented workers.


BLITZER: Breaking news, President Trump, today, confirmed federal immigration raids will begin Sunday, something a senior administration official calls head-scratching because it could jeopardize the entire operation. Agents intend to arrest and deport thousands of undocumented people, targeting 10 major cities across the country.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has been traveling with undocumented immigrants. He's joining us right now live from El Paso. So, Ed, what are you learning about these upcoming raids?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are told by immigration officials that these raids will focus on picking up some 2,000 people roughly in nine major cities across the country. And we are told that these will likely be migrant families that have recently crossed over into the United States and that they are now eligible to be deported, that they've gone -- they've exhausted their immigration process, and there -- they now are qualified to be deported.

But despite that, there is a ripple of fear and anxiety ripping across the country. In many of these migrant communities, many people worried about the collateral that will be picked up in these raids across the country.

Many undocumented immigrants live in households where there are U.S. citizens and other undocumented immigrants, so the scope and the breadth of this will be interesting to see, how it plays out in the coming days. And we're told that many of these undocumented immigrants don't even plan to leave their homes over the weekend out of fear of what is going on.

And all of this comes, Wolf, at a time where we are airing a CNN special report this evening, 10:00 p.m. Eastern time here on CNN, taking a much closer look at the lives of undocumented immigrants here in the United States and try to capture just how interwoven his segment of the community has embedded itself in the fabric of American society and how every corner of American society depends on these people, especially the farming industry.


LAVANDERA: How do you find people to come work for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recently, I needed to replace a worker. And I went on Indeed and Craigslist. Then Facebook. And I had about 20 to 25 people apply, I started to interview.

And the first one I interviewed, I hired her. She was a no-show. Then I tried another person, and same problem.

[17:45:00] Then I hired another person, worked for four hours and said, this is not what I want to do. And then I hired another person, an able-bodied, locally born and bred young man --

LAVANDERA: And you're being nice. When you say locally --


LAVANDERA: -- locally bred --


LAVANDERA: -- native-born, you're talking about White workers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am. You said that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A nice young man but worked eight hours and said, this work is too hard for me. I know -- I just can't do this. This wasn't the first time that I've gone through this scenario.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LAVANDERA: So, Wolf, this is called "THE HIDDEN WORKFORCE," and we

hope it's -- you know, this immigration debate has become so toxic in the United States, and we hope there's a deeper poignant look at what's going on with the undocumented immigrants in this country -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Excellent work, Ed Lavandera. Thanks very much. And once again, to our viewers, be sure to tune in later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, for Ed's special report, "THE HIDDEN WORKFORCE: UNDOCUMENTED IN AMERICA."

Coming up, why is Russia's Vladimir Putin selling sophisticated missiles to Turkey, a U.S. ally, a member of NATO? The answer may impact U.S. national security.


[17:50:58] BLITZER: Another in your face move by Vladimir Putin as Russia sends a very advanced missile system to Turkey, which just happens to be a NATO ally.

Brian Todd has been looking into this for us. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, the Trump team is pretty upset over this, issuing stark warnings to the Turkish government. In one calculating move, Vladimir Putin has not only come between America and a key ally, he might also have figured out a way to steal information about a new American fighter jet.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight, a big money military score for Russian President Vladimir Putin undermines the U.S. in the process. A shipment of sophisticated Russian surface to air missiles, the S-400 system, has arrived on the soil of a crucial American ally, Turkey.

MICHAEL KOFMAN, SENIOR RESEARCH ANALYST, CNA: The S-400 air defense system is able to defend airspace, to take out really sophisticated fighters, intelligence aircraft, at long ranges and at pretty high altitude.

TODD (voice-over): Russians won't be operating the S-400 missiles on Turkish soil. Turkey is buying them, so its own military can use them. But a Trump administration official tells CNN tonight, quote, it's a problem, there's no question about it.

Why? Turkey has been in the process of acquiring a fleet of American F-35 fighter jets, and Turkish pilots were recently training in Arizona on how to fly them. The F-35 is the most expensive weapons system in history. A warplane with supersonic speed, great agility, and stealth capability, which means it can evade most radar detection, which President Trump has bragged about.

TRUMP: The enemy cannot see it. Even if it's right next to it, it can't see it. TODD (voice-over): U.S. officials have warned the Turks the new

Russian missiles aren't compatible with American weapons systems. And U.S. officials are worried those Russian air defense missile systems, if they're close to the F-35s, can actually figure out the secrets of the American warplanes.

KOFMAN: What the S-400 may be able to do is get a much clearer picture of how that radar works against U.S. stealth aircraft, right? And it would allow the user of that air defense system to much better design future radars and future air defense systems to work against U.S. fighters and U.S. aircraft.

TODD (voice-over): But analysts say the bigger worry is that by selling these missiles to Turkey, Vladimir Putin is once again trying to undermine American influence and drive a wedge between America and its important friends.

DEREK CHOLLET, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS: He would love to try to strip Turkey away from NATO, and he would love to try to undermine the United States and make it harder for the United States to cooperate with its NATO partners. So from Putin's perspective, this is a win across the board.

TODD (voice-over): Experts praise the Trump team for coming down on Turkey for buying those Russian missiles. But they point out, Trump himself has slammed NATO, practically bullying its leaders, demanding they increase their share of the cost of defense.

TRUMP: They're not paying their bills.

TODD (voice-over): And by doing that, he's played into Vladimir Putin's hands.

CHOLLET: To the extent that President Trump has been a force of disunity between the two sides, he has certainly, unwittingly perhaps, helped Vladimir Putin in his project to undermine confidence in the NATO alliance.


TODD: What's Putin's next target in his effort to undermine American alliances in Europe? Analysts say he's got big oil deals with Italy and is trying to help hardline right-wing politicians get elected there. He's got a big nuclear reactors deal going with Hungary. The Russian President gradually those NATO allies away from America, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very significant developments indeed. Brian Todd, thank you.

Coming up, breaking news. A new forecast predicts tropical storm Barry will make landfall in Louisiana as a hurricane bringing a storm surge and heavy rain to an area that's already suffering flooding.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Triple threat. As Barry gets stronger and closer, the gulf coast is bracing for a hurricane disaster. A new forecast out tonight warns of a life-threatening mix of heavy rain, bulging rivers, and surging tides. I'll talk live with the Mayor of New Orleans.

[18:00:04] More vacancies as the Labor Secretary calls it quits over a sex case plea deal --