tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN November 10, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PST
>> fantastic work. to cast your vote for the cnn hero of the year, go to cnnheroes.com. >> thank you for spending time with us. we hope you make good memories today. >> cnn continues with our colleague, fredricka whitfield. it is 11:00 on the east coast. i am fredricka whitfield. "newsroom" starts right now. right now, a trio of wildfires scorching their way across california, claiming lives, property, and forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate their homes as fast as they can. >> it was crazy. people driving like maniacs to get out of here. >> i just can't believe it. it is like a war zone. >> this is hard stuff. >> northern california at least nine people have died, 35 others are missing, and nearly 6500 buildings and homes have been
torched, making the campfire, what it is called, one of the deadliest, most destructive in state history. the town of paradise hit hardest. officials say 90% of the homes were destroyed there. meantime, two other fires are wreaking havoc in the los angeles area, south of that first fire we mentioned. the entire town of malibu. home to some of hollywood's biggest celebrities is almost completely abandoned. we have correspondents standing by in two areas seeing the most damage from these fires right now, dan simon is in paradise, in northern california where the flames have consumed nearly an entire community. dan, what is the latest? >> reporter: well hi, fred. the level and scale of destruction is unlike anything we've ever seen in the state of california. where we are here, this kind of gives you an idea of the kinds of things we're seeing. you can see cars that have just
been discarded here. take a look at this school bus. makes you wonder if the driver realized that he was in danger and just left the school bus here. keep in mind, this fire broke out at 6:00 in the morning. as you go through town, it is unbelievable in terms of what you see. pretty much every home you come across is gone. you see businesses burned to the ground. schools, churches, retirement centers, you name it. we talked to police officers and firefighters and everyone is basically saying they've never seen anything like this. in terms of containment, right now it is 20%. the fire doesn't seem to be threatening more buildings. there's a reason for that. that's because there's nothing left for fire to destroy in the town of paradise. they're concerned about nearby community chico. they set up containment lines and chico appears safe. in terms of the weather, right
now, things are calm, but there is concern about tonight when there's going to be another red flag warning and winds kick up again. so fire crews want to build more containment lines and get the upper hand on this blaze. fred? >> dan, horrible situation. also very bad south of you. kaylee hartung is in malibu. these flames are showing no signs of slowing down. what's happening there? >> reporter: the woolsy fire stands at 0% containment. since the fire broke out midday thursday, l.a. county and venture a county strike and air teams have been hard at work around the clock. you know, we started our day in oak park area around some of the first homes to be devastated by the fire. we moved south to calabasas, and we could see active flames in the hill sides. we weren't there long before an
air drop came from one of the choppers. it was unbelievable how accurately and quickly they were able to attack it. we made it through the santa monica mountains, the haze and smog so thick, that stench of smoke so pungent, we were able to make our way to malibu. this structure is one of the few still actively burning. we just heard the roof come off. i think first chunk moments ago, more of it falling behind me a second ago. now here in malibu we have seen so many pictures, videos come through on social media from celebrities who we all know that live in the area. lady gaga posting this morning about the devastation and activity she's seen from the fire. again, 0% containment for the woolsy fire. i should point out, the structure burning behind me is on the oceanside of pacific coast highway, the pacific coast highway running in front of me. the fire so powerful, able to
jump that and head all the way out towards the ocean. >> kaylee hartung, some tense moments there. many celebrities living there, cher tweeting earlier saying she has been living there since the '70s, can't imagine her home might be engulfed by flames, and even will smith after will smith posted how actively he and his family were trying to elevate, move to higher ground. very tense moments for so many living there. among them laura rosenthal, council woman and former mayor of malibu, council member rosenthal, glad you could be with us. what have the last few hours been like for you? >> good morning. it has been a very difficult 24 hours for the whole community of malibu. as you know we were all given the evacuation notice yesterday morning. a lot of people tried to leave in the morning. it was a nightmare getting out.
five to six hours for normally a 45 minute drive. we're still assessing the damage. the latest i am told, still 0% containment. we have no assessment on number of homes lost. fires are still burning. i don't know about my home. i know i have a number of friends, close friends that know they've lost their home. and then we're working on county recovery effort starting with initial damage. they're looking at that now. and we're working with our cities, surrounding cities to find a regional local assistance center. they are reporting on two deaths. the sheriffs are investigating them. they weren't in the city of malibu proper but just outside
malibu on mulholland drive. >> talk to me about how difficult it is to get to people, to assess. i spent a little time in malibu. you can be in remote sections in the foothills where homes have a lot of acreage, horses, and then you can be on the opposite side of pacific coast highway and be there on the coastline. everyone's journey is different when it comes to evacuations. how do you check on one another, assist one another in a circumstance like this. >> sure. malibu is a small town. we really look out for our neighbors and we're used to evacuating, we're i'd -- used to dealing with fire. obviously it is easier to get to safe areas when you're closer to the beach. up the canyons people know how
to evacuate, what to do. i had one friend who stayed pretty late, later than i was comfortable with up one of the canyons, was able to get down. the goal is to get people in difficult to reach areas to leave earlier but many people want to stay and try to safe their houses. we lost power in most of malibu very early yesterday, so it was difficult to get information. where i lived, i had a bird's eye view of many different areas, a big area where the high school actually is, and i just watched the whole area burn with many homes lost. firefighters in different areas. we saw planes dropping water and fie fire retardant, but it was really scary to get --
>> i hope i didn't lose you. i know this is urgent and frightening. council woman, are you with me? we lost that signal. this is how perilous and difficult circumstances are there in the malibu area and in the region there in southern california as firefighters are trying to battle the blazes here in southern california and northern california. folks are trying to get the evacuations under way, reach out to loved ones, friends. lots of urgency. extremely frightening situation there. we're seeing some of the images now. we'll continue to reach out to the council woman and our deepest and heart felt thoughts are with everyone there in the fire zone regions. meantime, we could soon know if two of florida's tightest races this midterm season will end up in a recount. counties in the state have until
noon to submit their returns to the secretary of state. the race for governor and u.s. senate are still too close to call. florida law requires recount if candidates are within a half percent aj point of each other and that's the case in both races. jessica dean is in lauder hill. jessica, give us more details on the deadline and how people have turned out to express the their sentiment on counting and potential recount in two pivotal races. >> reporter: good morning to you, fredricka. we're here in broward county, outside the supervisor of elections office. you can hear the protesters probably. they're here to my left. we have people on both sideswho have come out to express their opinion. it has continued to grow throughout the morning, getting to the loudest point in the last ten minutes or so. let's zoom out and give you a
big picture of what's going on in florida a moment. as you mentioned at noon, that's the deadline for all counties to get unofficial results into the secretary of state office. they will then go through them and count them. if any of them stay within a half percent aj poimargin, that triggers a recount. that's a machine recount. in the meantime, we're here, and this is a hot spot. they're yelling the supervisor's name, chanting lock her up, the other side chanting every vote counts, a lot of them wanting inside.
again, as you're looking at the protesters, listen, there's a lot of emotion on both sides. we heard that throughout the day. we saw protesters here yesterday, screaming chants about lock her up in relation to brenda snipes. we're waiting to get to the unofficial count in broward county. we're also waiting for the unofficial count out of palm beach county. those are two counties that rick scott campaign has sued. bill nelson's campaign and the secretary of state. as you can tell, looking at the images live outside of broward county supervisor's office, a lot of emotion on both sides. a lot of people showing up to make their voice heard here. may i mention, it is florida. it is hot outside. people are drinking a lot of water. it is just a very potent situation out here. expect to continue to see the
protesters today. they were here all throughout the day yesterday and into the evening. again, it is about 11:15. we have about 45 minutes until the deadline when they begin to take a look at the votes and then we'll know if we are headed for a recount in florida. >> all right. jessica dean, we'll check back with you. clearly folks turned out on both sides, some upset about the fact there aren't definitive results as yet and others saying let the process go on. let all of the counties then present their numbers to the secretary of state by noonan then see what happens after that. next, scrutiny over president trump's pick for acting u.s. attorney general. is he qualified for the job or not? and after all of the backlash, where exactly does the president stand? (female speaker) when it comes to finding great deals it's always good to get a head start. (santa) ho ho ho!
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the backlash over the president's choice for acting attorney general is growing. the president picked matthew whitaker after he fired jeff sessions. whitaker under scrutiny over the russian investigation. friday, the president defended whitaker and at the same time tried to distance himself from his acting justice chief. the president claimed that he doesn't know whitaker, despite an interview a month ago where the president bragged about how well he knew whitaker. >> well, matthew whitaker, i don't know him. i don't know matthew whitaker. >> i know matthew whitaker is a great guy. i know matthew whitaker.
>> michael zeldin, legal analyst and former prosecutor is with us. what about the contradictory comments by the president, is this a bull horn to say this job may be really short as the interim or acting attorney general by distancing himself from even knowing whitaker? >> good morning, fred. i'm not sure how to predict how long matthew whitaker will be in the role. clearly there's unease. you watch the president in the clip you just played answering that question. it doesn't matter how personally acquainted the president is with matthew whitaker. what matters is that, you know, matthew whitaker is a known political quantity, a republican appointed u.s. attorney, ran in a senate primary, republican primary for senate and lost. he has made many comments on cnn's air questioning the
special counsel's investigation, but once you put him in that role as acting attorney general, then the question becomes can he be an honest broker. then there are other questions i will defer to michael whether he has been properly placed in that role. that's why you see the president showing discomfort with the question. >> michael, whitaker, part of his duty being the acting ag is that he would have oversite over the mueller investigation, aside from the fact he has been outspoken about it, but also reportedly the deputy ag rosenstein will still be in the mix. however, when in august of 2017 matthew whitaker was on many people's show, i even had an opportunity to interview him, he spoke prolifically what he thought limitations should be for the mueller probe. listen. >> my understanding of the scope is that it is limited. this is one of the discussions i
have been having with lots of people and writing an editorial piece that should be up on cnn.com soon about that there is a red line, there is a very specific scope to this investigation, and anything that's outside of russian coordination or the 2016 campaign would be outside the scope of that investigation. >> michael, then you know, does it show listening to his words some prejudice over the mueller investigation and is that merit for recusing himself, similar to how jeff sessions had to recuse himself because of involvement in the campaign? >> right. under the federal recusal guidelines it says that essentially if you have an appearance of conflict or an actual conflict such as to give question to the world at large, whether you're an honest broker, you should be recused. you should step aside or voluntarily recuse yourself. i think those regulations are
the same that jeff sessions looked at and was counselled by professional responsibility personnel in justice and agreed he should step aside, applied equally in force to matthew whitaker and he should step aside voluntarily because of predisposition to a particular outcome of a case he doesn't know the facts of yet. >> while there's a lot of criticism of whitaker and how he has revealed his thoughts on the mueller probe, david, the acting ag or i'm sorry, deputy ag rosenstein is saying or commending whitaker having known him, saying he is the right guy for the job. this is rosenstein. >> i think it is a superb choice for attorney general. staunlds the work and priorit s priorities -- understands the work and priorities of the department. >> this only adds to confusion,
david. >> right, fred. i'm going to take deputy attorney general rosenstein at his word he thinks highly of acting attorney general matthew whitaker. let's face it, if this guy is his boss for however short a time period, doesn't behoove him to start a wharf worar of words him. rosenstein was caught in the mix not in a good way when james comey was fired in 2017. he was one of the authors, was the author of the memo justifying it, that justification or reasoning behind it was a little questionable, maybe he didn't realize the president was dead set at that time on pushing ahead with getting rid of comey. now you have to wonder, though, if he is not privately asking himself why he as the number two guy at department of justice is not put in position of acting attorney general. is it because, and imaski am as
is it because president trump likes how whitaker was handle the mueller investigation better than he likes the way sessions did by recusing himself or rosenstein did in managing it. >> and adding to the chorus of voices saying whitaker isn't qualified, begin with the fact he was not confirmed by the senate, george conway, husband of kellyanne conway, wrote in "new york times" this. mr. trump's installation of matthew whitaker as acting attorney general of the united states after forcing resignation of jeff sessions is unconstitutional. it is illegal. and it means that anything mr. whitaker does or tries to do in that position is invalid. is he right? >> well, it is not settled. i think the piece conway wrote is compelling from the standpoint of the nature of the position that whitaker has been appointed to, that in that case he should be a senate confirmed
person acting as ag. there's a specific statute in the u.s. code, the senate passed criminal code statute and it says there's an order of succession. that order of succession is when the ag steps down, the deputy ag takes his place. there's no reason in this case why that should have been by tle bypassed. >> who can challenge that the president circumvented that? >> that's a good question. it is not clear. there has been litigation in the national labor relations board and with firing/resignation of veteran secretary. it could go to federal court. not sure mueller has standing to bring a lawsuit if whitaker tried to decapitate his investigation. but that's all to be played out depending on how whitaker acts in his role. to david's point we have to see how acting ag whitaker works as
opposed to private sector whitaker. >> all fascinating. >> can i make a quick point? just to follow-up on what michael said, i know you have to go. look, the whole reason you have the cabinet level positions, senate confirmed, is so it is not solely up to the discretion of the chief executive, in this case, president trump, especially in a case where the justice department special counsel, robert mueller, who serves as a u.s. attorney, is investigating. >> david swerdlick, michael zeldin, thank you both so much. he left the u.s. political turmoil at home, then stirred up global political tensions abroad. president trump blasting the french president before he even got off air force one. - [narrator] the typical vacuum head has its limitations, so shark invented duo clean. while deep cleaning carpets, the added soft brush roll picks up large particles, gives floors a polished look, and fearlessly devours piles. duo clean technology, corded and cord-free.
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welcome back. president trump is in paris trying to leave behind the turmoil in washington since the midterms. he and the first lady left the palace after lunch with french counter parts. president trump and president macron held talks earlier today after trump blasted macron on twitter over nato payments. world leaders are in paris for the 100th anniversary of the end of world war i. indicate lynn collins -- kaitlan collins is in paris. he is now saying it is a misunderstanding? >> reporter: this is something that macron said several days ago, but president trump waited until he was on french soil to tweet about it. air force one landed here last
night. president trump hadn't gotten off the plane when he sent a tweet, criticizing the french president for remarks in an interview regarding the president's position to withdraw from the inf treaty. he said in response to that, he believed europe was the victim and their security was at stake and they needed to form a true european army. then president trump sent this tweet blasting him, saying it was a very insulting remark, saying europe should first pay its fair share of nato which the u.s. subsidizes greatly before it focuses on making its army more robust. president trump essentially setting the stage for conflict. today they had a one on one meeting. fred, you can see though they use the words leaders use, fl
body language -- their body language showed it. they're usually back slapping, laughing. he once called macron perfect in the oval office. today there was none of that. there was very little eye contact or warmth between the two leaders which gives way to show what exactly the tension is between them. now they're spending the day together, were together earlier today. president trump is back at his hotel now after the white house cancelled a scheduled trip to a cemetery where americans who were killed in world war i are buried because of the weather in paris. but fred, they will be back together tonight for a dinner that the french president and his wife are hosting. >> and quickly, cancellation of the president not going to the location, was it because of the chilliness between them or something else? >> reporter: no, they said it was because of the weather. where he was going, the cemetery is two hours, 90 minutes to two hours outside paris. president trump was scheduled to take a helicopter.
we've had bad weather in paris, said they can't go. didn't say why they can't do it by car. instead, president trump has a seven hour block where he is back at the ambassador's residence where he is staying, which opened him to criticism that there could be logistical reasons president trump didn't make the trip today. >> kaitlan collins in paris, thanks so much. "the wall street journal says then candidate donald trump was involved in nearly every step of paying hush money to two women he allegedly had affairs with. the president says he has no idea of the payoff. so who is telling the truth?
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and a local approach with a focus on customized insights. so you and your company are ready for today. a report in "the wall street journal" says then candidate donald trump was closely involved in payments to stormy daniels and former model karen mcdougal during the 2016 campaign. here is cnn's mj lee. >> reporter: new details implicating the president in two hush payments. "the wall street journal" reporting during the 2016 campaign donald trump closely coordinated with american media inc. chairman david pecker. federal prosecutors had enough to outline trump's role without naming him in an 80 page draft indictment of michael cohen. trump asked pecker to kill a story involving karen mcdougal.
she claims to have had a long running affair with trump. >> if he weren't married, i wouldn't have regrets, he treated me very kind and was respectful, it was a good relationship while it happened. had i known at the time there were supposedly all of these other women, no, i wouldn't have been in a relationship. >> reporter: trump was involved in or briefed on every step of agreements according to the journal. he directed deals and phone calls and meetings with a self described fixer michael cohen and others. >> i am obviously very loyal, very dedicated to mr. trump. >> reporter: cohen pled guilty to 8 criminal counts in august, including two counts of campaign finance violations. cohen told the court it was at trump's direction he facilitated secret payments. prosecutors said cohen coordinated with one or more members of the campaign and there's this secret recording obtained by cnn in july. >> i need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that
info regarding our friend david. so i'm going to do that right away. i have spoken to allen weisselberg how to set the whole thing up with funding. yes. it is all of the stuff. because you never know -- >> gets hit by a truck. >> correct. i'm all over that. i spoke to allen about it. when it comes time for financing -- >> what, if anything? >> we'll have to pay. >> in cash? >> no, no, no, no, no. >> reporter: cohen and trump discussing a payment to mcdougal. cnn reported that trump was personally involved in silencing daniels who claims to have had a sexual encounter with trump. >> my attorney and i are committed to making sure everyone finds out the truth and the facts of what happened and i give my word that we will not rest until that happens. >> reporter: new details of trump's intimate involvement clashing with previous denials
from the president and the white house. >> did you know about the $130,000 payment to stormy daniels? >> no. >> why did michael cohen make this. >> the president denied the allegations, i don't have anything further to add. >> reporter: a source tells cnn cohen was just doing his job, protecting his client. meanwhile, stormy daniels' lawyer michael avenatti says this is all further vindication that he and his client were right. all of this happening as cohen is meeting with various investigators and awaits sentencing in december. mj lee, cnn, new york. >> let's talk more about this with greg brour, former u.s. attorney, and margaret telev. good to see you both. we heard that u.s. prosecutors have accumulated evidence of
trump's role without naming him in the cohen indictment. greg, what kind of potential legal road do you see for the president? we have heard it time and time again, you can't indict a sitting president, but we're talking about alleged activity before he was president. does it matter, does it make a difference? >> right. good morning, fred. no big surprise here. i think this confirms what most observers thought when the story first broke several months ago. i don't think anyone really believed that the president had nothing to do with this or knew nothing about it. this pattern of conduct, if true, seems to be unseemly at the least, probably unethical, and the big question of course that you posed is was it illegal. that remains to be seen, but it could possibly implicate campaign, federal campaign finance law violations. to the question of whether a
sitting president can be indicted, that's a matter of policy within department of justice. it is not a hard and fast rule, certainly not a federal statute. we have to see what facts come out and what doj decides to do about it, if in fact they believe federal law was violated. >> and there's an acting ag which could make it that much more complicated, margaret. >> yeah. i mean, i think you both touched exactly on what's important to keep an eye on here is that there are some timelines and pivotal news events to put in context with this. one is michael cohen's sentencing hearing december 12th, the other the takeover of the house by the democratic party, and in january we'll see -- i know this will shock everyone, a lot of new investigations. this will certainly probably come up as a new line of questions or flushed outline of questioning. and then the attorney general
and acting attorney general who already is kind of the subject of a lot of speculation about whether he is going to be providing political cover for president trump or whether he is an honest broker, and this falls squarely into the middle of all of these debates as we move forward now, if in fact there's a chance that this would constitute an actual violation of election law, is that something that this jaults department now would pursue. >> greg, this is a con vvergenc of so many investigations, the mueller probe, the southern district of new york probe, and potentially the elections committee violation, but as far as we know, the president has not yet answered to any written questions coming from the mueller investigation. might this kind of questioning, line of questioning, be intertwined in the russia probe since cohen, you know, was a
confidant, was a fixer, was his attorney? >> it could be. what we know about the allegations and evidence that doj developed so far, this would seem to be outside the confines of the mueller investigation and would likely be handled by a doj outside the special counsel team. the point raised is an important one. with the majority of house of representatives flipping to democratic control, even if doj decides whatever the evidence is it cannot indict the president for a violation of federal law, the house, the new house majority will likely see that as a potential ground for impeachment proceedings, so there's a lot to come here. this will be very interesting to watch. >> and largely based on allegations of hush money, the
willingness for the candidate to have participated in the hush money, so as to allegedly protect his reputation. >> yeah. and this also -- >> go ahead, greg. >> what house democrats will likely focus on or be inclined to focus on is that if it is clear the president has lied about this, even if not under oath, but repeatedly to the media and to the american people, i think there will be some subset of house members who will see that that constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors under the constitution and i am impeachment proceedings would be in order. i'm getting a little ahead of where we are now. that's certainly possible but more facts have to come out. >> margaret? >> even if it never gets to that point, it won't stop the democrats who will be in charge of the oversite from having hearings and asking questions.
this is a bombshell report, but it is not clear how much of this mr. mueller's team or prosecutors in new york district already know. they may have already spoken to many of the same sources or heard much of the same information, putting it in the public creates a political track and political imperative for discussions alongside the on-going investigation. >> we'll leave it there for now. thanks to you both. appreciate it. we'll be right back. only half the story? at t. rowe price our experts go beyond the numbers to examine investment opportunities firsthand. like e-commerce spurring cardboard demand. the pursuit of allergy-free peanuts. and mobile payment reaching new markets.
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trump and jeff sessions, the attorney's chief of staff, matt whitaker, would attend white house meetings in his place. but sessions apparently did not know that whitaker at the same time was angling for a promotion. here's cnn's evan perez. >> matt whitaker's rise has been in the works for months. his boss, former attorney general jeff sessions, only came to realize this recently. cnn has learned new details of some of the behind the scenes drama that took place after white house chief of staff john kelly called sessions to ask for his resignation. top justice department officials including deputy attorney general rod rosenstein huddled with sessions to try to find a way to delay the resignation. rosenstein was the highest ranking official overseeing special counsel robert mueller's investigation. that is, until whitaker took over as acting attorney general on wednesday.
whitaker was huddling with his own aides on wednesday, strategizing his plans to take over. sources tell us that at least one official raised questions to sessions about whether whitaker appointment is constitutional, since he's not senate confirmed. in the end, president trump rejected sessions' request to remain in office for a few more days and sessions resigned. in an e-mail friday to justice department employees, whitaker said, quote, i am committed to leading a fair department with the highest ethical standards that upholds the rule of law and seeks justice for all americans. sources tell us that in recent months, whitaker was frequently at the white house, sometimes attending meetings on behalf of his boss. that's because of the rocky relationship between sessions and the president. a source close to sessions says that the former attorney general only recently realized that whitaker was having his own conversations with the white house to get one of the top jobs at the justice department. evan perez, cnn, washington.
>> in this week's final episode of parts unknown, we see anthony bourdain's personal journey through a formerly bohemian new york neighborhood. >> nearly bank rupt, riddled with corruption, the lower east side, particularly alphabet city, was left to fend for itself. abandoned, ruined or simply empty. much of of it became an open air supermarket for drugs. whole blocks taken over by organized drug gangs. >> wow. watch anthony bourdain parts
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