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THE SITUATION ROOM

Dayton Police Release New Surveillance Video And Shooter's Timeline; Trump Tweets China "Moving Troops" To Hong Kong Border After Protesters Shut Down Airport; Interview With Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) On Gun Control Legislation; Democratic Leaders Demand Action On Guns As Trump Claims Republican Support For Background Checks; Trump Praises New Regulations Limiting Legal Immigration; Feds Make Changes At Jail Where Epstein Died; Apparent Missile Explosion Shines New Light On Russia's Highly Secretive Nuclear Program. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 13, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thank you so much for watching.

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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Happening now, breaking news: killer's timeline. Dayton police release dramatic surveillance video to go with a minute-by-minute timeline of the attack that left nine people dead. We see the killer get his gun and start the attack and, moments later, the police response.

But did the killer act alone?

Showdown with China: protesters flood Hong Kong International Airport then fight with riot police. President Trump gets involved, tweeting China is amassing troops in Hong Kong's border.

Did he reveal secret U.S. intelligence?

Trump backs down: the president is putting off tariffs on popular Chinese imports like smartphones, laptops and toys. That will keep prices down for the holiday shopping season.

But will his trade war heat up after the holidays?

And Russia's nuclear secrets: a deadly explosion and suspected release of radiation may have blown the cover of some of Vladimir Putin's top secrets.

Are the Russians trying to hide a nuclear explosion because it came in a secret city devoted to building new weapons?

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news. BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories including dramatic new details in the Dayton mass shooting investigation. During a news conference that ended just a little while ago, police revealed new surveillance video of the gunman before and during the attack.

They also released a detailed timeline of what happened. We're also following the very tense situation in Hong Kong, where protesters fought with riot police after forcing the international airport to shut down.

President Trump is calling for calm and claims China is moving troops to the border with Hong Kong. That came shortly after the president blinked in his ongoing trade war with China. His administration put off tariffs on popular imported tech goods like smartphones and laptops and toys.

The tariffs were set to start September 1st. They've been delayed now until mid-December.

I'll get reaction to the day's news from Congressman Andre Carson of the Intelligence Committee and our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories. Let's begin with CNN's Gary Tuchman.

Gary, you're in Dayton. Police tonight went into extraordinary detail about the shooter's movements that night.

What you have learned?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is right, Wolf. The surveillance video is dramatic. It is sickening. It is upsetting. And it tells you quite a bit. What we know right now, this wasn't any spur of the moment killing. This was well planned out. And what we see in the video is the actual time when this gunman fired the shots and it was 1:05 am last Sunday morning and he started firing the shots. We see it all; 32 seconds later he is shot dead by brave policemen.

There was a lot more that happened before that. We see about two hours worth of video and the police officers who were here today in Dayton City Hall told us more about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEUTENANT PAUL SAUNDERS, DAYTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: He goes into there and there about 30 minutes. The shooter comes out of Ned Peppers and walks in front of the police cruiser. He's aware of where they were.

Now he's traveling eastbound and you'll see he has the backpack and he's in long sleeves and the backpack is weighted down, it's not empty. And there he goes. And we know he's been firing and then paused for a second because, just past this umbrella is the taco stand on Fifth Street where our first three fatalities occur, one of them his sister who had heard the gunfire. And you'll see on the right-hand side the path approximately. So he's

engaging right now. That is the shooter who just went by. So you're going to see the shooter continue to run right here. And it is going to end right here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: He was with his sister and the companion in the bar when they first got to the very busy street here, the entertainment district of Dayton, Ohio, 11:05 pm. But when he carried out these killings he was not with them. Police say they do not know and they may never know if he intentionally killed his sister and the companion.

A very important thing we want to tell you, Wolf, at this point, is that there is no indication whatsoever that he was with an accomplice. In all of these snippets of video when he's going to change his clothes, when he gets his rifle and starts shooting, he is all by himself. There is no accomplice there.

BLITZER: Did police, Gary, reveal anything more about a possible motive?

TUCHMAN: I asked that question very specifically and they say not only do they not know the motive, they may never know a motive. However, they do know his mindset. They say that they learned a lot --

[17:05:00]

TUCHMAN: -- from what they saw on his computer and writings and they say he was obsessed with violence and that he expressed a desire to carry out a mass killing. So that is his mindset. They know that. But they may never know the exact motivation of why he did what he did, where he did.

BLITZER: Gary Tuchman in Dayton. Thanks for that update into we're also following a very tense situation in Hong Kong, where riot police clashed with protesters after they shut down the international airport. CNN's Ivan Watson is joining us from Hong Kong right now.

It is already Wednesday morning. So what the latest and the situation now?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is so surreal. It is 5:00 a.m. here and passengers and airport workers are filing in almost as if the incredible scenes that we saw five or six hours ago hadn't happened, when there were thousands of demonstrators and eruptions of violence.

The kind of violence that we've seen playing out in the streets of this city, increasingly for two months now, erupting here in this important international transit hub.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WATSON (voice-over): Overnight confrontations in Hong Kong turning violent as thousands of pro-democracy protesters flooded the country's busy international airport, paralyzing it for a second day.

As the growing tension played out on live television, police moved in, carrying shields and wearing body armor to push the crowd back. At times it is hard to tell whose side is with whom.

We were there when protesters turned on a man they suspected of being a Chinese agent. Some tried to protect him and others kicked him. Medics succeeded in taking the injured man away. He's since been identified as a reporter for the Chinese state news outlet "Global Times."

Other protesters blocked passengers from their reaching planes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

WATSON (voice-over): Forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and stranding thousands of passengers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot avoid this. It is somehow unavoidable because we fight for our final goal. That is our freedom.

WATSON (voice-over): Hong Kong's leader, who is effectively appointed by the Chinese government, admits she's losing control.

CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE (through translator): Hong Kong society is not safe or stable. The rioters have pushed Hong Kong to the brink of no return.

WATSON (voice-over): The protests here began peacefully two months ago, as millions of pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets to oppose a proposed extradition law with Mainland China.

But some hardliners who don't want this former British colony to be controlled by Communist China have grown increasingly violent, clashing week after week with police, at times leading to showdowns with teargas and night sticks.

WATSON: The protesters were spoiling for a fight. And now they've got one.

WATSON (voice-over): Tonight the central government in Mainland China is sending increasingly ominous warnings, showing off security forces close to Hong Kong. What is not clear is if China will use that force to quash the dissent or if protesters, who seem motivated for a fight for their freedom, will back down.

It is the worst political crisis this city has seen in decades.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: Wolf, just yards from where I'm standing, about six hours ago, I saw this crowd of protesters kicking this Chinese journalist, who was on the ground, beating him until he was taken away. And in the last couple of hours, this is, again, so surreal, airport

workers have covered over the graffiti that the protesters left and cleaned up the leaflets that were here and it looks like this airport is starting to function again and as if none of this actually happened.

The fact is, though, is that Hong Kong's reputation is being hurt badly. And there is a collective feeling that the wheels are starting to come off a city that was known as an island of stability and efficiency and safety here in Asia.

BLITZER: Yes, it certainly was. I've been there. It is amazing. Ivan Watson on the scene. Thank you very much.

Meanwhile President Trump is talking and tweeting about the situation in Hong Kong. Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, outside of the president's resort in New Jersey for us.

So what is the latest?

Tell us more, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, President Trump is weighing in on the unfolding situation in China, at one point, tweeting that U.S. intelligence has information that the Chinese are moving troops toward Hong Kong.

The president has also temporarily backed down in his trade war with China, delaying a new round of tariffs on Chinese products coming into the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Revealing what may be sensitive --

[17:10:00]

ACOSTA (voice-over): -- national security information, in a tweet, President Trump inserted himself into the growing crisis in Hong Kong.

As the protests there were becoming more violent, the president hinted China may be about to take action, tweeting, "Our intelligence has informed us that the Chinese government is moving troops to the border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe."

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy criticized the president's tweet, saying, "This is not foreign policy."

The president hardly sounded fazed by it all.

TRUMP: We'll see what happens. But I'm sure it will work out. I hope it works out for everybody. Including China, by the way.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president is backing off his trade war with China, delaying a new round of tariffs on Chinese products until December. The president said his administration is doing that to spare shoppers during the holidays, even though he's repeatedly said the tariffs aren't hurting consumers.

TRUMP: We're doing this for the Christmas season in case the tariffs have an impact.

ACOSTA (voice-over): On the domestic front, the president continued to express confidence that new gun control legislation could make its way through Congress despite stout GOP opposition.

TRUMP: It is very simple. There is nobody who wants to protect the (INAUDIBLE). But I don't want guns in the hands of a lunatic or a maniac. And I think if we could offer background checks (INAUDIBLE).

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president also defended top immigration official Ken Cuccinelli, who told National Public Radio that the poem on the Statue of Liberty should be changed to reflect new administration policy to punish legal immigrants who receive government assistance.

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet.

TRUMP: I don't think it is fair to have the American taxpayer pay for people to come into the United States.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Cuccinelli was echoing top White House official Stephen Miller, who downplayed the importance of the poem two years ago.

STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISER: The poem that you're referring to was added later and it's not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president also resumed his war of words with former communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

TRUMP: He wanted to come back into the administration for the last five months, begging me to come back in. I said, Anthony, I can't take you in. I'm sorry. He's (INAUDIBLE) so much. He's a nervous, neurotic wreck.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Scaramucci fired back, tweeting, "President Trump isn't a fan of anyone willing to tell him the truth. The emperor has no clothes."

President Trump then turned an official White House speech into what sounded like a campaign rally.

TRUMP: In 2020 we're running so you better get out there and make sure we win.

ACOSTA (voice-over): As he complained that just being president has cost him billions, a claim that came with zero supporting evidence.

TRUMP: It is probably going to cost me, including upside-down side lawyers, probably costing me from $3 billion to $5 billion for the privilege -- (END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now at the moment the White House is offering the appearance of taking the gun issue more seriously. A White House official said daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump is sounding out lawmakers on the phone up on Capitol Hill.

It is unclear how much pull the first daughter has up on Capitol Hill as Democrats and Republicans are miles apart on the gun issue, Wolf.

BLITZER: They certainly are. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

Joining us now, Democratic Representative Andre Carson of Indiana, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Thank you so much for joining us. I want to get the aftermath of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton. In the aftermath you said this -- and let me read to you what you said.

"This president is incapable of bringing about solutions because he is part of the problem."

But today President Trump said he thinks Mitch McConnell and a lot of Republicans, in his words, want to do background checks.

So how do you interpret those remarks?

REP. ANDRE CARSON (D-IN): It is about background checks but it is beyond background checks. I think President Trump is fanning the flames of xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment. And Mitch McConnell is sitting on this. He needs to call an emergency session to get this thing done.

The House has already done the work. It is time for Mitch McConnell to not only stand up to the president but to stand up and be a leader to get those two pieces of legislation that have already been passed by the House through the Senate.

BLITZER: Why do you think he won't even allow the two bills to come up for a vote?

CARSON: Well, it seems to be, in one sense, a lack of leadership. On the other hand, I think he's playing to his base. He's on the ballot next year. He represents a very conservative base.

You have some good progressives and some good moderates in Kentucky but, for the most part, I think it is a political calculation that, hopefully, will not yield results positively for him.

Your colleagues on the Judiciary Committee are coming back early from recess to consider other gun control legislation.

What specifically do you want them to do?

[17:15:00] CARSON: Well, we're still looking at proposals and talking about proposals as a caucus right now. So we're getting insights from Chairman Nadler and we're also receiving input from folks like myself and Chairman Benny Thompson of Homeland Security and other people about what that looks like.

But one thing is clear, the American people are fatigued. The recent shooting in Ohio and El Paso, unfortunate shootings, were just two of over 250 mass shootings this year. And so we have a real problem with assault rifles.

As a former police officer, I can say I don't think that the average citizen should have access to those high-capacity magazines or assault rifles.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens, if anything. In the meantime, Congressman, you serve on the Intelligence Committee. Let me get your reaction to this tweet from the president earlier today.

He said, "Our intelligence has informed us that the Chinese government is moving troops to the border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe."

First of all, have you been briefed on the situation in Hong Kong?

CARSON: Yes, I think that the administration has a responsibility to urge the Chinese government to uphold the rule, the one country/two systems compromise, that has been enacted.

I think that the chief executive officer, Carrie Lam, should really listen to the protesters concerns about removing this extradition bill and also making sure that law enforcement and the military aren't excessive and they're allowing the protesters to protest peacefully.

But the protesters have a responsibility, too, in making sure they are not beating people up, especially members of the journalist community.

BLITZER: We've seen Chinese media release videos of their military assets near the border with Hong Kong.

If China were to try to put down these protests by major force, what would the appropriate American response be?

CARSON: Well, I think it is important for America to weigh in. Hong Kong is an economic center, one of the largest, arguably the largest, some would say, in the world next to New York. But it is also the center of cultural life in that region, so the United States has a responsibility to weigh in on this matter before it worsens.

It is already hurting the economy there, it is already causing a great deal of angst and anxiety and I think the people want and deserve an end. The protesters are tired and so is the military.

BLITZER: On a different subject, Congressman, you heard Ken Cuccinelli offer this update to the words on the Statue of Liberty. He suggested, "Give me your tired and your poor," and then he added, "who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge."

What is your reaction to that?

CARSON: I think right now -- I think what is happening, the raids that we just saw in Mississippi -- and Chairman Thompson had a powerful statement on that -- I think it is -- I think it is disappointing.

To watch little girls cry, having watched her parents get taken away and deported, having children fear not being able to start school all for the sake of political expediency and framing an issue to make sure a base turns out in 2020 to me is un-American and deeply disappointing.

BLITZER: Congressman Andre Carson , thanks as usual for joining us.

CARSON: What an honor. Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, President Trump said China is moving troops to the border of Hong Kong.

Will there be a violent crackdown after weeks of protest?

Plus the deepening mystery caused by an explosion and suspected radiation release during what the U.S. suspects was the test of a nuclear-powered missile.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:00]

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BLITZER: President Trump is sounding an optimistic note on potential background checks legislation for gun purchases. But there is little evidence that Senate Republicans are ready to make moves on a gun control bill already passed by Democrats in the House.

Our political experts are here to discuss.

David Chalian, the president said Republicans support his plan for some sort of background checks. There doesn't seem to be any serious movement in the Senate on that. The House has already passed such legislation.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And it is not at all clear that the president is saying he wants that House bill to pass the Senate. He keeps talking about quote-unquote "meaningful background checks."

But if you are looking for movement from Republicans, it is going to be tough to find right now. A, Congress is not in. B, I don't think Trump is speaking for most Republicans here. I think he may be speaking for some Republicans. We know he had a conversation with Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who co-

authored the bill back in 2013 with Joe Manchin on dealing with background checks. But I don't see some groundswell of Republican senators. In fact, I think more that we've heard from have been Barrasso and others who've said, whoa, slow your roll.

BLITZER: What are you hearing, April?

I know you are doing reporting on this as well.

[17:25:00]

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Basically, Wolf, it's talk. It is a lot of talk. If they wanted to create some kind of action around this, it would happen. I think back to Parkland, how America was incensed, how those students and that school pulled the world together to say, look, we're not going to take it anymore.

And then the president had a town hall meeting -- remember that?

And the president was so gripped by emotion that he talked about pushing forward with something.

And then the NRA said, whoa, this president and Republicans in the Senate are controlled and even Republicans in the House are controlled by the NRA.

If the president were to go to Dayton, Ohio, and to other places where these shootings are happening and meet with the people, like John Legend did the other night, he met with one of the children of one of the victims, 7 years old. He said he was crying and he gave that performance.

These murders, this domestic terrorism is really gripping this nation. And if the president really wanted to do something or if Republicans and the Senate and the House wanted to do something, they would do it.

BLITZER: You were learning, Jeffrey, that the president's senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, is talking with lawmakers about potential gun legislation. A White House official said the president's daughter, quote, "has trusted relationships on both sides of the aisle."

Do you believe she's qualified to broker these kind of sensitive issues?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Wolf, there is a reason why most companies have rules against nepotism, because people who are hired on merit are usually better at their jobs than people who are hired because they're related to the boss.

As far as I can tell, Ivanka Trump has led an accomplishment-free existence at the White House. And this mythology that followed Ivanka Trump and her husband from New York, that they're really the moderates, they're really not racist, they really believe in gay rights, all of that has proven to be untrue.

And they have not -- Jared Kushner does have one success with the criminal justice reform bill, which was certainly a real thing.

But this is complete spin. And as far as I can tell, it means nothing and this gun control bill doesn't even exist and, if it existed, it would be going nowhere.

BLITZER: Let me get Arlette to weigh in.

How are the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates dealing with this, hoping to keep gun control on the radar?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Democratic candidates emerged from this weekend in Iowa united in the fact that something needs to get done on guns, whether it is universal background checks or banning the assault weapons bans but the tricky part is keeping this conversation going, especially as Congress is out of session.

You have Joe Biden write an op-ed, a calling for the ban on assault weapons and Bernie Sanders today hinted maybe he could go to Kentucky to try to get constituents to urge Mitch McConnell to act on a number of issues.

But with Congress out of session and a quieter time on the campaign trail, it is difficult for the candidates to keep this on the agenda.

TOOBIN: But it is not just -- it is not just that the campaign trail -- that Congress is out of session. As April said, every time there has been one of these shootings, whether it is Las Vegas or Parkland or going back to Sandy Hook under President Obama, there is a big call for action immediately.

And then things float away. There is no reason to believe that this is different from that, unfortunately.

BLITZER: I think you're absolutely right. All right. Everybody stick around. There is a lot more we're going to discuss right after this.

[17:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get back to our analysts and our correspondents.

Jeffrey Toobin, the Acting Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, offered a new version of the iconic poem that appears on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Listen to this exchange he had with NPR earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL MARTIN, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO HOST: Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus' words etched on the Statue of Liberty, "give me your tired, your poor," are also part of the American ethos?

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: They certainly are, give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What's your response to those words he added?

TOOBIN: It's hard to define un-American, but that statement was un- American. And I say this as people -- as the descendants of, a hundred years ago, people who came to this country looking for opportunity and found it. That's why people have come here.

You know, they don't want to be public charges, but they come here and they work hard. And a lot of them work in terrible jobs for low pay and sometimes, they need food stamps to eat -- you know, to feed their families.

That's who -- that's who is going to be penalized, the -- not the people who hire the illegal immigrants, who are -- you know, they always get away under the Trump administration. But the people who are working hard and trying to support their families, they're the ones who are punished by this. And it is just a disgrace that that is the prevailing ethos of our administration.

BLITZER: Is the administration, April, standing by Ken Cuccinelli's remarks?

RYAN: Oh, this president is embracing the new talking points by Ken Cuccinelli. Wolf, I talked to the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Joaquin Castro; and he said, look, at one point, this was about illegals, now it's about legals. This is about the Browning of America. They can parse words, say whatever they want, this is about stopping the Browning of America.

[17:35:12] But, also, if we're looking at this, this new talking point that they're using, when you talk about the charge that they have on this nation, who is the poorest in America? What area is the poorest in America? It's Appalachia. Who is Appalachia? White America.

BLITZER: What do you think, David?

CHALIAN: Well, I mean, I think there is no doubt that Cuccinelli's version is a totally perverse version of what is actually intended in what is on the Statue of Liberty. And I -- and I -- and I think that there is little doubt, this is not -- this is not new for this administration. Putting the target on legal immigration -- not just illegal immigration, on legal immigration has been something that President Trump made very clear early on was going to be a mission of his as well as trying to deal with illegal immigrants.

BLITZER: What are you hearing, Arlette, from the -- out there on the campaign trail?

SAENZ: Well, we're still waiting to hear, like, what further reaction we will be getting. I believe that there might have been a statement released a short while ago. But people on the campaign trail have often been critical of the White House and President Trump's approach to immigration, so this, surprisingly, probably will not sit well with those Democratic candidates. BLITZER: Let me get some of the political nuggets, David Chalian,

that are unfolding right now. Tom Steyer, the billionaire, he's now met at least one of the thresholds to participate in the next Democratic presidential debate in Houston. Fellow candidate Steve Bullock, though, is accusing the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, of letting wealthy candidates buy their way on to the debate stage. Does he make a fair point?

CHALIAN: Well, I think voters will have to assess that, his argument. There is no doubt that the way the DNC set up these rules, especially for this third debate -- you have to meet two qualifying thresholds. You have to have two percent or more in four polls, and you must have 130,000 donors across 20 states.

And one way that Tom Steyer and others are trying to find those small- dollar donors is by spending millions of dollars on Facebook ads, saying, hey, just give me $1. And so now, Tom Steyer has crossed that fundraising threshold, and he's only one poll away from meeting that two percent threshold.

Now, he's been buying television ads. He's been in people's living rooms for months. That's another way spending he is spending his money to try and make it across the line and get on the debate stage. And he's likely to make it.

BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey Toobin, I just want to get your thoughts on Bernie Sanders. He seems a little bit, today, to be scaling back his attack on "The Washington Post," which is owned by Jeff Bezos who owns Amazon. He's now scaling that back a bit, but what do you make of the criticism he is leveling at what he calls the corporate news media?

TOOBIN: Well, the -- his attack on "The Washington Post," in particular, is idiotic. I mean, the work that they have done under Jeff Bezos, the golden age of "The Washington Post" that we are now in under Jeff Bezos, has nothing to do with Amazon. And they have done superb work, and it's an insult to our friends and colleagues over at "The Washington Post."

I think it's indicative of the fact that the Bernie Sanders campaign isn't going so well. You know, he's way down in the polls compared to where he was in 2016, and he is engaging in the venerable tactic of shooting the messenger, which is the news media. It's not the news media's fault that he's down on the polls; it's that he's competing one-on-one with Hillary Clinton anymore. But that is certainly not the fault of "The Washington Post" or Jeff Bezos.

BLITZER: You know, I know a lot of people, Arlette --

RYAN: Wolf --

BLITZER: Hold on one second. Arlette, I want you to weigh in because you cover the political campaigns for us. I know a lot of people at "The Washington Post," and all of them have said to me, repeatedly, they have felt no pressure from Jeff Bezos at all. They let "The Washington Post" do their job. SAENZ: That's right. And "The Washington Post" came out very

forcefully and said that this is kind of a conspiracy theory of Bernie Sanders. But it's also not entirely new for Bernie to be criticizing the media.

You remember, going back to 2016, they felt that they had received unfair coverage. In fact, one of his senior campaign advisers was calling that, just yesterday, the Bernie blackout and then, today, saying that it's the Bernie write-off. So there is a sentiment among his campaign that they're not exactly getting the coverage that they believe is fair, but the coverage that they don't like.

BLITZER: April, very quickly.

RYAN: Yes. You know, Bernie Sanders has to really worry about looking like Donald Trump going after the press, particularly in this moment in time. This is not like when he ran against Hillary Clinton. This is a moment where freedom of the press is being challenged and this president has shown his disdain against the press, so Bernie Sanders may want to start pulling that back a bit.

BLITZER: Everybody, stand by. There is more news we're following including a major shakeup at the jail where the wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein died from an apparent suicide. The overall comes as the FBI probes the circumstances surrounding Epstein's death and combs his private Caribbean Island for clues about his alleged sex trafficking ring.

[17:40:14] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Today's breaking news, as questions continue about the circumstances that led to Jeffrey Epstein's apparent suicide in jail, today, the Justice Department announced the jail's warden has been temporarily reassigned. At the same time, prosecutors are shifting focus to whether any of Epstein's associates were involved in sex trafficking.

[17:45:05] Let's bring in CNN's Brynn Gingras. Brynn, you're there on the scene. What's the latest in New York?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. I mean, we've been told this investigation is far from over, but now we have more proof. You can see here in the video that we're about to show you that FBI agents swarmed Epstein's home on Little Saint James, which is a private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

And authorities, along with federal prosecutors, are investigating just as you said, Epstein's inner circle, who may have known and helped him commit years of alleged sexual abuse. Now, of course, again, this is in the wake of Epstein's apparent suicide while in federal custody here in Manhattan.

Now, as part of charges filed against Epstein last month, prosecutors mentioned three employees as possible co-conspirators but didn't name or charge anyone. Well, Epstein's accusers are going after them. A lawyer representing some accusers asked the judge to reverse a non- prosecution agreement that protected four alleged co-conspirators as part of a deal made with Epstein more than a decade ago.

Now, this would allow them to possibly face criminal charges. And the request has the support of Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who says the deal should be ripped up. In a statement he said this, in part, this crooked deal cannot stand, shielding Epstein's fellow rapist and exploiters.

And this, as the investigation into what went wrong inside Manhattan's MCC where Epstein was held is picking up steam. A source is telling CNN the two guards ordered to keep an eye on the accused sex trafficker were both working overtime shifts, and one of the guards wasn't even part of the regular detention workforce, instead filling in as a guard. The two members are now on leave pending an investigation, and the MCC warden was temporarily reassigned and replaced by an acting warden from another prison nearby in Otisville, New York -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brynn Gingras with the latest on that front. Thanks, Brynn.

Coming up, will a deadly explosion and possible release of radiation reveal some of Vladimir Putin's most valuable military secrets?

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[17:51:40] BLITZER: Tonight, a deadly accident apparently involving a nuclear-powered missile may have revealed new information about top- secret Russian military facilities. Brian Todd has been investigating. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, we have new information on that explosion and the secret nuclear network in Russia that it exposed, entire cities fenced off, inaccessible, completely classified. There are at least 10 of those cities, and we're told they form the heart of Vladimir Putin's nuclear weapons program.

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TODD (voice-over): Tonight, U.S. officials fear what Vladimir Putin has yet to acknowledge, that a deadly explosion late last week in Russia was caused by a nuclear-powered missile. Today, Russian military officials called for the evacuation of the village of Nyonoksa, about 30 miles west of the coastal port area where Thursday's explosion occurred.

They said it was because of military drills. But hours later, they called off the evacuation, even though independent groups have verified that some radioactive particles have very likely gotten into the air.

ALEXANDRA BELL, SENIOR POLICY DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR ARMS CONTROL AND NON-PROLIFERATION: I think, you know, a lot of other countries would have probably already evacuated the surrounding areas, but I think the Kremlin's a bit in damage control at this point.

TODD (voice-over): Damage control, experts say, because they believe the explosion may have tipped off the U.S. and others to information that Putin may never have wanted to become public.

The five elite nuclear specialists killed in the accident were from Sarov, one of Russia's secret cities. During the Cold War, it was known as Arzamas-16. The Russians have at least 10 secret cities like it, experts say, and they're the rough equivalent of Los Alamos, New Mexico, the birthplace of the first American nuclear bombs.

BELL: The 10 facilities are going to be focused on the width and breadth of the Russian nuclear arsenal. So some are going to have to do with developing the delivery systems, missiles or, you know, gravity bombs. Some are going to be more focused on the actual weapons themselves and, you know, processing the plutonium.

TODD (voice-over): Analysts say these secret Russian cities are even more closed off than those notoriously secretive American facilities like Los Alamos or Area 51, the classified aircraft and weapons compound in Nevada.

MICHAEL CARPENTER, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA, UKRAINE, EURASIA, AND THE BALKANS: Look, if you're a foreigner, you can't get anywhere near these cities. Sometimes, they will grant foreigners access. If you give up your passport, your phone, your camera, they'll let you in for a little bit. But that is very rare, even for Russians. You have to go through a checkpoint to get in. There are, sometimes, electric fences around these cities.

TODD (voice-over): Experts say many of these cities are decrepit, decaying, and have experienced deadly accidents with nuclear material, and even anthrax. But they're still important to Vladimir Putin, who's developing an ambitious new weapons program, which includes the missile that U.S. officials say just exploded, a cruise missile with, essentially, a nuclear reactor onboard and which could have unlimited range.

Experts say the deadly explosion is likely not on the scale of Chernobyl, the 1986 nuclear plant explosion which killed dozens initially and may have contaminated thousands more. Like this explosion, the Soviet Union, at first, refused to acknowledge the nuclear accident until the West detected high radiation levels over Europe.

BELL: What the danger really is here is that the Russians continue to pursue these kinds of potentially dangerous and risky systems.

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TODD: Analysts say despite this deadly accident, we should not expect Vladimir Putin to cut back his ambitious new weapons program. They say the Russian president is simply too eager to develop a sophisticated high-powered missile -- Wolf.

[17:55:07] BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting, thank you.

Coming up, breaking news out of Ohio where officials are now offering extraordinary new details about the mass shooting.

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