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Another Man Close To The President Quitting His Job Under The Weight Of Domestic Abuse Claims, President Said No To Letting The Public See A Congressional Memo That Democrats Say Answers A Republican Memo, American Spies Paid A Russian Man $100,000 After He Claimed To Have Hacking Tools Stolen From The NSA, North And South Korea United Under One Flag At The Olympic Opening Ceremony, Escalation Of Hostilities Over Israel's Border, Two Ohio Police Officers Were Ambushed And Killed Today After Responding To An Odd 911 Call. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 10, 2018 - 16:00   ET



[16:00:16] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Top of the hour. The White House this weekend dealing with another staff resignation, another man close to the President quitting his job under the weight of domestic abuse claims. The most recent resignation is David Sorensen, a White House speechwriter whose ex- wife this week said he was violent and abusive while they were married. Sorensen says this is not true, but he resigned anyway.

This is the same week that White House staff secretary Rob Porter quit. Now, both of Porter's ex-wives say he was physically and emotionally abusive. Now President Trump today without mentioning either by name, tweeted this.

People's lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false, some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused. Life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as due process?

Also this weekend, the President said no to letting the public see a congressional memo that Democrats say answers a Republican memo from a week ago that accuses the FBI of bias against the President. The reason for the no -- national security concerns.

The President tweeting this. The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo, which they knew because of sources and methods and more, would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon, they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to redo and send back in proper form.

Let's bring in CNN correspondent Ryan Nobles at the White House.

Ryan, first, let's talk about the staff resignations. Rob Porter on Wednesday and now there's news that this other man who worked in the west wing, both accused of violence against their wives. What are you hearing about who knew what and when?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, there are two different situations for sure. When you talk about David Sorensen, the speechwriter who stepped down on Friday, that came after Sorensen personally went to the White House and told them that there were these accusations against him from an ex-wife from his past, and he said he was resigning because he didn't want to be a distraction to the White House. He also put out a lengthy statement where he forcefully pushed back on these allegations and even at one point described himself as being the victim of domestic abuse.

The situation was a little different with Rob Porter, the staff secretary, someone who was well thought of in the White House. And as a result, as these early allegations came out, members of the White House administration attempted to defend Porter and his exit wasn't nearly as quick. That was until the picture of his ex-wife's black eye was surfaced. And then once that got around, the situation changed pretty quickly and Porter tendered his resignation.

Now the question is exactly when did White House officials know to the extent of these allegations against Porter. There is some thought that his security clearance has been held up as a result of this process. We know at least one ex-girlfriend did reach out to the FBI about her concerns about Porter's background.

And we also don't know exactly how much the administration looked into the background of Porter before hiring him to this very important job of staff secretary, one in which this person holds and is responsible for the flow of paper that ends up on the President's desk.

So right now, Ana, the White House also not going out of its way to talk about the victims in these cases. The women who accused both members of this administration of these very serious accusations. Instead saying the President, as you saw yesterday in the oval office, and then in a tweet again this morning, these are just accusations and that both of these men deny the claims -- Ana.

CABRERA: Thank you very much, Ryan Nobles, at the White House.

I want to talk more about these two sudden resignations from the White House and the President's message.

Let's talk it over with Ryan Williams, former spokesman for the GOP ex-gov. Mitt Romney, and John Sununu, and Matt Visor, deputy Washington bureau chief of "the Boston Globe" and Elaina Plott, staff writer for "the Atlantic."

So Ryan, as a Republican, the President here picking sides, tweeting lives being destroyed by a mere allegation. He is the leader of the Republican Party. Is this how you want a party represented?

RYAN WILLIAMS, FORMER SPOKESMAN, EX-GOVERNORS MITT ROMNEY AND JOHN SUNUNU: No, this is a terribly tone deaf response. This was a debacle the entire week, the way the White House handled the Rob Porter issue, the timeline has been inconsistent, and it's been a major headache for this administration. And for him to double down today, to come out really doubling down on the disastrous response we have already seen this week is not good. It is not good for him, it is not good for the administration, it is not good for the party.

And these weren't accusations. Rob Porter's wife filed a police report. There were photos. There was pretty credible evidence that portrayed him as someone who probably beat his wife. And for the President of the United States to come out, given that evidence, and to say what he said today is wrong. It's unfortunate. And it's not good for him and for his administration. It's a distraction from the things he should be focusing on. He should be putting this behind him if possible right now.

[16:05:09] CABRERA: So Elena, why is he doing it?

ELAINA PLOTT, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: The thing about Donald Trump, of course, is that he doesn't back down from a fight. And he had gotten close to Rob Porter, my sources tell me.

Rob Porter, you have to remember, was a staff secretary who had years of experience on Capitol Hill, which was not something that most political appointees in this White House could claim. He is somebody he relied on for second takes, for things like speeches and Capitol Hill outreach, especially during tax reform.

So on the one hand, you have somebody who is never, you know, reticent to back down from allegations against somebody he is close to, but also Donald Trump knows what's at stake when he loses one of his most valuable political appointees. So I think you see a President wrestling with those two realities in the last two days.

CABRERA: Matt, the speechwriter, Sorensen, resigning quickly on Friday, even though he too denies the abuse allegations. Do you think this is a case of lessons learned by the Trump White House after the Porter uproar?

MATT VISER, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: I don't know. I mean, all indications are that, you know, "the Washington Post" had been working on a story there for a week or so. Dating before the Rob Porter allegations became public. This came up in his FBI interviews, you know, also for Sorensen, months ago. So I think it still -- they acted much quicker in this case, and probably handled it better from a public standpoint.

But it does raise questions about other people in their security clearances have not been cleared yet. And sort of how the White House has handled, you know, this staff, and that sort of speaks volumes about an example to other parts of the country. Setting a cultural example of being willing to overlook some things in their staffers' histories, and it sends a message. And probably the wrong message.

CABRERA: There's also some hypocrisy in all of this when he docks about due process. You look back to the campaign, leading the chants of lock her up, plus not to mention, he did parade out Bill Clinton's accusers before one of the debates during the campaign, trying to give them voice. So President Trump also causing controversy today. And sparking

allegations of another hypocrisy, due to his controversial decision to block the release of a Democratic memo, a rebuff of the Nunes memo.

Ryan, the President ignored FBI and DOJ concerns to declassify the Nunes memo, remember? And now, he is hiding behind them to block the release and redact this Democratic memo. How is it not pure political motivation here?

WILLIAMS: Certainly a double stand. I don't think there should have be any memos. There shouldn't been a release of the Republican memo or the Democratic memo. There should have been an investigation of the house intelligence committee. There should have been hopefully in a bipartisan manner, as we are seeing from the Senate intelligence committee.

This business with memos is just wrong, you know. We should have never released the Republican memo, which really didn't say too much we hadn't already heard already, but it doe puts the President into position where he looks hypocritical by having the Republican memo released despite objections from the national security community, but blocking the Democratic one on the same merits.

It's a foolish strategy. It was short sighted to release the Republican memo. And I think right now we are seeing, you know, the Democrats hitting him with the hypocrisy charge for not authorizing the release of their memo.

CABRERA: Matt, the Democrats' memo is ten pages long. So that makes it about three times as long as the GOP memo. So is it possible it does reveal more national security methods and sources than the Republican memo that should be redacted?

VISER: Yes, I men, that's possible. And you want to err on the side of caution with these thing. But the difficult position that the country and people who want to know the truth are in right now is that the Republican charge is that methods and sources used for the FISA memo were wrong. That the FBI should not have given credence to Christopher Steele, and they gave too much. So now you are in a position where it opens the question of what were the methods and sources that were used for that FISA memo. And that's what the Democrats are trying to showcase, is sort of that there were more methods and sources used. But that's also the reason why the FBI and the Trump administration is trying to say we can't reveal some of these things.

So like Ryan was saying, that's the whole reason why we shouldn't have had memos in the first place is that it puts you in a difficult situation of trying to figure out what's actually behind the FISA memo.

CABRERA: Exactly. And Elaina, when the President's team sent their response to releasing this Democratic memo, they included some response from the DOJ and the FBI. Now, Democrats say they tried to vet their memo through the justice department, even before it got to the White House. Do you think the FBI and the DOJ owes an explanation as to why they didn't raise their concerns earlier directly with those Democrats?

[16:10:09] PLOTT: I'm not sure if I think that's true, because I think one thing we have to remember, I mean, we have become numb to a lot of anomalies of this administration. But sending separate partisan memos out of the House intel committee about an ongoing investigation is highly unusual.

If we look back to the Benghazi committee with Trey Gowdy and Elijah Cummings, the two of them look like, I don't know, Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon compared to how Nunes and Schiff have handled this. This is something that is not typically done not in tandem.

And another point I will raise is this is not what Republicans, especially in the House, want to be talking about right now. I'm not sure if anybody remembers, but we just emerged from a government shutdown, however brief it was. And as we go into midterms, to have partisan battles back and forth with the FBI and DOJ voices involved, it takes away from the tax reform message. It takes away any sort of economic advantage Republicans feel they have over democratic counterparts into midterms, which are not looking good for Republicans anyway.

So I do think this is House leadership's worst nightmare, as the President continues to tweet about this matter that they sort of wish would just be buried by this point.

CABRERA: I assume you could also argue that this is not what the Democrats want to be talking about either because this is sort of a side show to what is supposed to be the focus of the investigation in the intelligence committee, which is the Russia meddling in the U.S. election, and any potential links or cooperation with the Trump campaign.

So Elaina, are you sources saying anything about what the Democrats plan to do next?

PLOTT: Well, my Democratic sources on the intel committee say to your first point that they have no choice in a way but to respond. If Nunes is going to go ahead with a memo that they feel is incomplete and lacking context, it makes perfect sense, I think, to most observers and most voters why Schiff would move ahead with that. But of course, I think what you are going to see happen is Schiff say, Schiff urging his House colleagues, even Republicans, if the President does in fact send the memo back, say put partisanship aside. Let's vote whether to override this. Whether that happens, I'm pessimistic, but I think you will see Democrats urging that on behalf of their Republican counterparts.

CABRERA: Finally, Ryan, I have to ask about your former boss, Mitt Romney due to make a big announcement in a few days, February 15th. Is he running for Orrin Hatch's Utah seat?

WILLIAMS: I haven't talked to him directly, but I know that the governor is a man of great patriotism. He cares about the country, about the future of our nation. And I fully expect that he is looking at contributing to the country and I think he's going to run. I hope he runs myself. I think he would be a tremendous addition to in United States Senate. He is an independent voice and someone who I think could bring some sanity and some level-headedness to Washington. So hopefully he does run when he announces on Thursday.

CABRERA: And Matt, you think Democrats would actually support that?

VISER: I think that Democrats may overestimate sort of how much Romney would be on their side. You know, I mean, I think Romney, like Ryan is alluding to, will be independent, and will be a model somewhat like John McCain or Jeff Flake. Somebody willing to challenge President Trump, but not all the time. I don't think he is going to be the spokesman for the anti-Trump movement. But I do think he will give Trump some headaches.

CABRERA: All right, Matt Viser, Elaina Plott, Ryan Williams, thank you all. Really appreciate your time tonight.

Coming up, sources telling CNN that numerous White House officials are handling sensitive information without full security clearances, prompting real questions about the safety of national security. Could the White House be compromised? I will ask a former CIA officer what he thinks next.


[16:17:58] CABRERA: Did the U.S. get duped by a shadowy Russian? A new report in "The New York Times" claims American spies paid a Russian man $100,000 after he claimed to have hacking tools stolen from the NSA, along with compromising material on President Trump.

Now this man, however, never handed over these materials. According to the paper, the American spies were not interested in the supposed dirt on Trump, but they did want the stolen hacking tools back and agreed to pay this Russian $1 million. At one point, the U.S. spies gave the man $100,000 in a brief case as a down payment. And according to the "Times" the NSA even used its official twitter account to send coded messages to the Russian nearly a dozen times, but they soon had doubt.

The paper writes this apparent eagerness to sell the Trump kompromat, a Russian term for information used to gain leverage over someone to American spies, raise suspicions among officials he was part of an operation to feed the information to United States intelligence agencies and pit them against Mr. Trump.

There were other questions about the Russian reliability. He had a history of money laundering and thin legitimate cover business, a nearly bankrupt company that sold portable grills for street side sausage salesmen according to British incorporation papers.

Well, the American spies ended up chasing this Russian out of western Europe and warning him to never come back if he valued his freedom.

National security correspondent for "The New York Times" Matthew Rosenberg is behind this reporting and he joined me last hour. Here's part of our conversation. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Matthew, I have so many questions for you about the story, but apparently, first, your reporting caught the attention of the President. And he tweeted this about your report today.

According to "The New York Times," a Russian sold phony secrets on Trump to the U.S., asking price tag was $10 million, brought down to $1 million to be paid over time. I hope people are now seeing and understanding what is going on here. It's all now starting to come out. Drain the swamp.

Is this an accurate characterization of your reporting, Matthew?

[16:20:00] MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It's not. It's not. Look, this is a complicated story, I think that's pretty clear here. The Americans were out looking for this kind of vast trove of hacking tools, cyber weapons that had been stolen from the NSA and the CIA. And the idea here, they weren't going to take it off the market to get them back. They were just trying to figure out what was missing, what was already out there in the wild and what they had to worry about because they didn't even know exactly what had gotten out. And they find this Russian who says I can give you everything. They are like great. We can maybe start unraveling this mystery. But then the Russian says, you know what, we have to include this material on President Trump. I want to throw that in there. And the Americans didn't really want that. They made it clear to the Russian, we want the cyber weapons. Don't sell us the other stuff.

CABRERA: Tell us more. Tell us more because I want to just unpack this first before you go further. They wanted the cyber weapons that had been stolen. So tell us about the guy who claimed to have these cyber weapons. What more do we know about him?

ROSENBERG: So the Russian who I interviewed multiple times in Europe, he is a fixture of sorts for Russian intelligence. He has connections to various Russian intelligence people. But he also has some underworld connections as well. He has done some money laundering. He has moved semiprecious metals around Europe from Russian oligarch. He is a kind of a hard guy to figure out. And that's one of the problems here when dealing with counterintelligence in Russia, is that the difference a Russian intelligence officer and an organized crime figure is often very, very blurry. And it makes it very hard to figure out who is who and what are we dealing with here.

CABRERA: And at one point, a meeting happened inside the Russian embassy in Berlin. So does the U.S. believe this man was being supported by the Russian government?

ROSENBERG: They suspect it was the case.


CABRERA: I want to get perspective from someone who knows how these deals should work. Evan McMullin is a former CIA operative. He also launched a third-party run against then candidate Trump in 2016.

So Evan, good to see you. Did U.S. intelligence handle this the right way or did they get played?

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: No, I think they did handle it the right way. And this is the reality any time you are dealing with Russians and the intelligence or the counterintelligence world, there's always a concern that there could be a disinformation campaign being directed at you instead of somebody coming with you with their true intention to provide information of value that's credible.

And so what you see here is U.S. intelligence, according to Matt's story, according to "The New York Times," and according to the intercept. You see that U.S. intelligence engaged with this interlocuter, this Russian, but did so in a very cautious way.

You see, according to "The New York Times" story, that the Russian started to offer information about derogatory information about President Trump. And U.S. intelligence was clear that they didn't want that. They weren't -- they weren't in the market for that, so to speak, but the Russian kept pushing it. And so, according to the story and according to what you would expect as an intelligence officer, that was -- that set off red flags telling them that this was -- this was not what they hoped it would be. Instead of obtaining information that -- about hacking tools that had been stolen from the U.S. government from someone who was genuinely willing to provide them for, in compensation or to provide them out of some ideological motivation, instead of that, you had somebody who was pushing information for some agenda of their own. And one can imagine what that agenda might have been, and I think U.S. intelligence anticipated very accurately that what the Russian was trying do is, you know, pit U.S. intelligence against President Trump or to embarrass U.S. intelligence, and I would say, to undermine the Russia investigations.

CABRERA: What is really surprising when you read how this unfolded, according to "The New York Times," is they were using twitter to communicate with this Russian, tweeting coded messages. Also, the fact that they paid him $100,000 and ended up with nothing. The way this all played out, how unusual is this kind of deal making?

MCMULLIN: Well, as far as, you know, the work of espionage, a lot of it actually happens wide open, on a twitter account or on the streets somewhere, if you are not trained to spot it, or even if you are, and if you're not paying attention, then you don't. It appears to be something that's normal, but actually, you know, signals are being sent from one side to the other. It's an unseen other dimension of the world that we live in.

But as far as whether the U.S. intelligence agencies were duped, having paid $100,000 reportedly to this Russian, I don't see it that way at all. I know it's a lot of money. It seems like a lot of money. It is a lot of taxpayer money. But U.S. intelligence was trying to determine the extent of a serious security breach that resulted in the loss of very important, valuable, effective hacking tools. And in the scheme of things, $100,000 is not that much when you weigh it against what they were trying to do. And it was sort of, you know, that amount of money would have been what was required to sort of keep the discussion going while they figured out whether this guy was for real or not.

And so they were not at all played. They handled this the way they should have. What they never would have wanted to have done is turned away someone who ended up being credible, who ended up actually having information of value so they needed to play it out, and that was the price that they had to pay in order to do that.

[16:25:47] CABRERA: All right, I want to ask you about some CNN reporting about security clearances at the White House. We now know that between 30 and 40 White House officials still don't have full security clearances. We are now more than a year into this presidency. And we know one of them without full clearance is the son-in-law, Jared Kushner, son-in-law of the President. Several intel officials say there is a backlog. And to this extent, that's not normal. What does this indicate to you?

MCMULLIN: Well, there is a backlog for security clearances. That's true. And actually, there's been a backlog for a long time. But what's also true is that when a new administration comes to power in the U.S., the President's appointees, especially senior ones, those in the White House serving the President directly, they go to the top of the line. It's not like they start in the back of the line and just have to wait their turn. That's not at all how it works.

They go to the front of the line and they are processed more quickly for obvious reasons. What you have happening here is that you have people in the administration like, you know, like Rob Porter who were unfit for a full security clearance, and therefore, this is my read of it, therefore they struggled to get one.

But at the same time, both Rob Porter and Kushner were important to the President, are important to the President, in Kushner's case. And so, you know, allowances are made, and they have provisional security clearances that allow them to continue to operate in the White House. Of course, Rob Porter is now resigned or was fired.

But my point here, the bigger point here is that this administration and indeed Trump's team before the campaign, during the campaign, and now in the White House, includes people who are totally unfit to handle classified information. Either because they have relationships with foreign governments and foreign actors that are adversarial to the United States' interests or they have personal habits that leave them vulnerable to blackmail or they exhibit poor judgment or a lack of control over their own actions in the case of these wife beaters who have accused wife beaters who have resigned.

All of these factor into whether somebody should be trusted with our national's most trusted information. And sadly, Trump and his team are, I would say, poorly suited to handle information like this. And this is why getting clearances for his - for much of many members of his team is difficult.

CABRERA: Evan McMullin, we appreciate your insight and expertise. Thanks for sharing with us. MCMULLIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Up next, a historic moment. North and South Korea united under one flag at the Olympic opening ceremony. And now, an invitation from the north to what could be a groundbreaking meeting. What could it mean for denuclearization on the Korean peninsula? Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson joins us next.


[16:33:06] CABRERA: The winter Olympic games are now officially under way in South Korea. And today was the first full day of competition after the opening ceremony. And while the more good natured competition is playing out on the ski slopes and in the skating rinks, the very real and intense rivalry between north and South Korea is showing signs of a possible thaw.

Today, in the spirit of the Olympic games, the President of South Korea was invited to visit North Korea. That invitation comes directly from the sister of North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong-un. She is the first ever member of North Korea's ruling family to set foot south of the DMZ since the 1950s.

Now, the concern is whether this good will of sorts between the north and south will last after the Olympic games are over. I want to talk to former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who has traveled several times to North Korea.

Ambassador, thank you for taking the time today. I want to get your reaction to this invitation to President moon to travel to North Korea to meet directly with Kim Jong-un.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Well, I believe it's a very positive development because it's going to immediately ease tensions in the peninsula. North and South Korea are the most directly affected from a potential huge conflict.

This is going to be the third time that there's a summit of this nature since the Korean war. The first two summits kind of ended in failure between the Presidents. But this one, hopefully, there are no quid pro quos except gestures of maybe talking about family reunification, human rights issues. Hopefully, they will lead to a potential discussion between the United States and North Korea and japan on denuclearization, hopefully. So it remains to be seen, but I think it's an enormously positive step, what has happened in the spirit of the Olympics.

[16:35:03] CABRERA: You don't believe that North Korea has something up its sleeve?

RICHARDSON: Yes, they have something always up their sleeve. And you know, this is first of all, what is significant, the sister, who by the way, her title is deputy director of propaganda and agitation, but she's obviously very influential.

CABRERA: Is that the formal title, seriously? RICHARDSON: That's her formal title, yes.


RICHARDSON: But she's very influential. And I think the positive side here is that, yes, Kim Jong-un wants to drive a wedge between the United States and South Korea. I mean, our policies are going in different directions. The vice President is very heated rhetoric, meets with North Korean defectors. The South Korean President is apparently accepting this visit to the north at the same time. So we have to merge our policies more closely.

And I think also, Kim Jong-un, you know, he is up to something. I think these sanctions that the international community has put on him are starting to bite. I think he wants to get out of this isolation because a lot of countries are stopping trading with them.

So he is up to something. There's no question about it. But I think the fact that he brought this invitation forward is a good step for him. And it's a good step for the South Korean President, who campaigned on a detente with the north. The question is, is this meeting going to produce much? I don't think it will, but maybe it will get the United States and North Korea to start talking. That would still be a positive.

CABRERA: Why do you think that it would have anything to do with bringing the U.S. and North Korea together? Because right now, this is all happening almost despite the U.S. being there, trying to send a message with Mike Pence of strength and some kind of unity with allies against North Korea. I mean, we know Pence was sitting in the stands near the sister of Kim Jong-un, not even acknowledging her presence there.

RICHARDSON: Well, you know, that's diplomacy, Ana. If you don't have a relationship, and there's a hostile relationship, you don't even shake hands. I mean, I don't blame Pence for that. But it does show in the same section where they are sitting, the South Korean and the sister shaking hands and smiling. So you know, there's a contrast.

I think what we need to do is give some space to the South Korean as he meets the North Korean. Let's see what the North Koreans are up to. Let's see if maybe it's going to lead to talks to a reduction or denuclearization of missiles, missile tests, nuclear tests, you know.

You have to remember, the South Koreans, 25 million live very near the DMZ. We have American troops there. So I think this potential trip has the possibility of easing tensions. But the South Korean President has to be careful. He can't go too far away from the U.S. on policy.

And then secondly, the past two summit meetings ended in failure because there was a lot of promises for aid and investment to North Korea, and North Korea didn't deliver at all on easing tensions. So he has got to watch himself, this President Moon, but he deserves credit. CABRERA: And North Korea, like you said, has not kept promises in the

past when deals have been made. Vice President Pence told "the Daily Beast" on this trip that the Trump administration wants this warming of relations between the two Koreas to end when the games are over. Do you think that's the right call?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think what's important here is that they meet and see what happens. The big test, Ana, is going to be will the United States and South Korea stop their -- renew their military exercises after the Olympics are over. That's going to be a big test. I suspect we will pressure South Korea to resume the tests. But will the North Koreans still want to meet while the joint exercises are going on? That will be the test to see what happens right after the Olympics on the U.S./South Korea military exercises.

CABRERA: Are you encouraged that North Korea has not launched anything, no provocative measures in that regard, no nuclear tests for several weeks? And even months, I'm trying to keep track of how many because it seemed like they were doing it so quickly, back to back to back to back. That seems to speak to what you are saying as a positive sign, no?

RICHARDSON: It is a positive sign. And look, I'm going to give credit to the Trump administration. I think the sanctions policy, tougher sanctions, is working. Getting other countries to stop dealing with North Korea has been working. I don't like the rhetoric, the tweets, you know, calling each other nuclear buttons and insulting each other. But the South Korean President has stepped in in a positive way with the North Korean. The North Koreans are up to something. They want to drive a wedge between us and South Korea. But if it eases tensions, it's a step in the right direction.

[16:40:19] CABRERA: Ambassador Bill Richardson, we really appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

CABRERA: Still ahead, an Israeli fighter jet shot down over Syria. This as Israel launches a large-scale attack on Iranian targets in Syria. So why is Israel attacking Iran inside Syria? We will explain after the break.


[16:44:43] CABRERA: Welcome back.

The state department says it's deeply concerned about an escalation of hostilities over Israel's border. This follows the crash of an Israeli jet in northern Israel today. Israel said this jet was hit by quote "massive anti-aircraft fire from Syrian forces." Two pilots ejected, one of them severely injured.

Israeli officials say their war planes were conducting airstrikes on Iranian targets inside Syria. The country's military says those airstrikes came after a combat helicopter intercepted an Iranian drone dispatched on a mission inside Israel. Now, CNN's Ian Lee is in the Gollan Heights area following this.

What is the response from Syria and Iran?

[16:45:27] IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, this incident today sparked a dangerous escalation of tensions in the Gollan where I'm at, in communities like this and across northern Israel, woke up to sirens going off. Those sirens were triggered by that heavy anti-aircraft fire that was going towards these Israeli jets.

Those eight Israeli jets carried out that first mission near Palmyra, that is deep into Syrian territory. They were going after a command and control center that was controlling that Iranian drone. And that's when one of those planes went down inside Israel.

They also retaliated again, going after Iranian and Syrian targets, anti-aircraft batteries around Damascus. Those planes were able to go back safely. Israel has said that they are going to go after targets like this when Iran or the Syrian government infiltrates Israel air space.

Now, on the other side, you have the Syrian government calling this an aggressive act by Israel. Iran called this allegation that their drone entered Israeli air space as ridiculous. They say that they were invited to operate in Syria, and that they are going after ISIS targets.

In the aftermath of this, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about this incident as well as secretary of state Rex Tillerson, to get them on board and up to date on the latest. But you also had this message for Iran. Take a listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel. This morning, Iran brazenly violated Israel's sovereignty. They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel. And this demonstrates that our warnings were 100 percent correct. Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today's aggression. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security.


LEE: So Ana, right now, things seem to be fairly quiet. Israeli officials have said the ball's in Syria and Iran's court. They don't want to escalate the situation any further. But there are two takeaways from today's events. First off, this is the first time an Iranian drone has allegedly entered Israeli air space since the beginning of the civil war.

Also, when we spoke with Israeli officials about when the last time an Israeli war plane was shot down, they really were scratching their heads. One official said it was likely back in 1982. So decades of air supremacy was also challenged today, Ana.

CABRERA: That's why it's such a big deal.

Thank you so much, Ian Lee, in Gollan Heights for us.

Still ahead, two officers killed in an ambush in Ohio today. We will hear from the devastated police chief live here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:51:05] CABRERA: Our breaking news right now. Authorities say two Ohio police officers were ambushed and killed today after responding to an odd 911 call. The deadly shooting taking place in Westerville, Ohio, a suborn of the city of Columbus. Authorities say a caller dialed 911 dispatch and hung up. Two officers came under fire as they responded to that address connected with the call. A male suspect is wounded, now hospitalized.

President Trump just tweeting about this. My thoughts and prayers are with the two police officers, their families, and everybody at the Westerville police department.

The emotional police chief just spoke moments ago about these two officers. Let's watch.


First of all, true American heroes who gave their life together responding to calls of assistance, a potential domestic situation. Both officers risk gave their life in protection of others. Those are true American heroes.

As Mr. Collinsworth said, our Westerville family, our Westerville community will rally around the immediate families of these officers who were slain in the line of duty.

I'm confident that our staff will take them under their wings and do everything possible for the families.

As far as the situation, we received a 911 call at 12:02 this afternoon, and officers responded on a hang-up call. At 12:10, the officers arrived on the scene. As they went into the apartment, they were immediately met with gunfire and both officers were shot. Officer Eric Joring passed away on the scene. Officer Anthony Morelli was transported to the hospital where he later passed away.

I also want to thank all of the agencies that have helped us out, who have supported us here at the police department and with this investigation. The Columbus police department will be handling the investigation. They are currently on the scene processing the shooting scene.

We have already received and the family should know, we have received condolences and pledges of support from all over the United States already. These were two of the best we had. This was their calling. And they

did it right. They knew how to do policing the right way, both of them. As I said, both gave their life in protection of others, and that's what they lived and breathed.

Again, I thank everybody for everything they have done for our division. I ask that you keep the families of the officers in your prayers. And all other law enforcement and public safety officers in the United States. They risk their lives every single day. This is evidence of that. We will miss both of these officers because they were pillars of our department. They were the ones people went to. They served in so many different capacities, both officers. And were always willing to go above and beyond to help out new recruits, to help out the organization in any way they could. They literally dedicated their life to our organization, our city, and our citizens. And I ask you again to keep them in your prayers. Thank you.


[16:56:00] CABRERA: You heard the names of the slain officers. We want to say them again as we honor them tonight. They were Eric Joring, age 39, and Anthony Morelli, age 54. Two lives lost too soon.

We will be right back.