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More Than Three Dozen Killed In Wildfires; Iraqis Take Key City From The Kurds; At Least 29 People Dead In Wildfires In Portugal And Spain; At Least Three People Dead As Ophelia Hits Ireland; 360,000 Without Power In Ireland After Ophelia; Iraq Seizes Disputed City From Kurdish Control; U.S. Backs Kurds And Iraqi Troops Against ISIS; Tensions Build After Kurdish Independence Vote; Truck Bombings Deadliest In Somalia's Modern History; Trump And McConnell Put On A Show Of Unity; Trump Does Not Rule Out Visit To DMZ; Trump Falsely Claims Predecessor Don't Contact Families; McCain Warns Against Half- Baked Spurious Nationalism; Trump Campaign Vows to Fight Subpoena; Women of Color Making Their Voices Heard Online; Trump Promises to Tackle Drug Addiction in the U.S.; Some Puerto Ricans Tap Into Potentially Toxic Water. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired October 17, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, Wildfires across Spain and Portugal have left more than three-dozen dead. One witness has said, it was like a hurricane of flames.
SESAY: Plus, the strongest storm to hit Ireland in decades, Ophelia is not done yet.
VAUSE: And after Iraqi forces take control of Kirkuk from the Kurds, the U.S. sits on the sidelines as two key allies face off over this oil-rich city.
SESAY: Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Great to have you with us. This is NEWSROOM L.A.
SESAY: Wildfires are ripping through Portugal and Spain, killing at least 39 people. Thousands of firefighters are now on the frontline. It has been unusually warm and dry for the areas, but the authorities say some fire may have been started deliberately.
VAUSE: Portugal has declared a state of emergency and is asking for international assistance. Over the weekend, the fire was driven by strong winds from the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia. This is one resident to describe it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was about 20 past midnight, it was a hurricane of flames. There are no words to describe it. No words. It was a so strong. The houses burned, the animals are dead, the farming machinery has been destroyed as well. Next story is a company with trucks and machines -- everything burned. Everything. I don't know what to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us for more now. And you know, Pedram, we spend the last week looking back at the California wildfires. These seem -- looking at the images every bit as bad maybe even more so.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I think they are even worse when you think about exactly how many people are being impacted here, the amount of fires; you're -- talking about 145 large active fires across this region of Portugal. And, of course, you compare the California down into 117 range. But there are about 6,000 firefighters battling these flames across this region, with some almost 2000 vehicles as well. So, a lot of resources going into what is happening right now across portions of Portugal on (INAUDIBLE).
There is some improvement in the forecast. There are some showers coming their way over the next 24-some hours, and we'll touch on momentarily. But I want to show you exactly what we're talking about, and what it looks like when you go in for a closer perspective. Because that's just the parts of Portugal and Spain, but the northern portion of Portugal, really seeing the brunt of this with the tremendous growth of these fires in the last several days.
In fact, early Saturday morning when these flames ignited, within a matter of 24 to 48 hours, you go from five fires to 145 fires -- exactly how things have been playing out there. And again, rainfall is expected come in. So, we think it's improving there. And fortunately, with this storm, very little in the way of winds to go around as well. So, an incredible turn of events to get very much beneficial rainfall to come through here over the next a couple of days.
And of course, this hasn't been the case with what was Ophelia, at one point, pushing through this region just a couple of days ago. Just off-shore, but an explosive storm in its own right there, that it was able to fan the flame to tremendous growth there, going into Sunday morning. It takes a lot of smoke, a lot of the ash, certainly a lot of sand from this sub-Sahara region of Africa was picked up and transported to the north. And I've looked at wavelengths on satellite imagery, a different spectral imagery, we can see exactly what we're dissecting here.
I mean, the estimations are that 70 percent of the vibrance from the colors that we saw across portions of the U.K. and to France that came in with these sunsets. (INAUDIBLE) associated with the smoke, about 30 percent of that was associated with the sand coming out of sub- Sahara in Africa. So, really, fascinating to see the impacts of this tropical feature that at one point was the single strongest hurricane, we've seen this far east and this far north.
It then transitioned to be an extratropical storm. All that means is, it is a cold core storm. So, the dynamics of this storm change, but the winds still equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane. In fact, in places such as Fastnet Lighthouse, a southern thereof Ireland, almost 200-kilometer per hour wind gust was observed. So, that is a Category 3 equivalent wind gust coming ashore across that region. Of course, needless to say, the damage has been incredible across the region, especially in the coastal communities.
We know flights on the order of dozens canceled and halted across this region as well. And school for the second consecutive in all of Ireland have shut down now, going into Tuesday there. You think what is left of that storm begins to push off and bring in some of the ash and smoke potentially into places such as Scandinavia over the next couple of days.
But, quickly, I want to show what's happening out there across the Western Atlantic. There's a slight change there's a storm to form over the next couple of days. But models hate this disturbance and guess what, the steering environment and the atmosphere have not changed. This would-be Friday into Saturday, what would Phillipe -- the next tropical system if it develops. What is left storm will be battering this region going into this week., So, an incredible season and is not over yet, guys.
[01:05:09] VAUSE: Hurricanes and wildfires in the U.S, hurricanes, and wildfires in Europe, it is a weird season.
SESAY: It really, really is. Pedram, thank you.
JAVAHERI: Thank you.
SESAY: Well, now, Simon Partridge is a Meteorologist with the Met Office. He joins us on the Manchester, England. Simon, thanks for being with us. What are your biggest concerns with this storm as it maintains this course it's on?
SIMON PARTRIDGE, METEOROLOGIST, MET OFFICE: Yes. Currently, we're expecting across Southern Scotland -- the most popular area of Scotland, through this morning for -- in time for rush hour. So, with strong winds there, we've already got bridge restrictions and closures, and we're concerned about trees coming down and disruptions on the roads, and possible overturning of vehicles as well.
SESAY: Yes. How satisfied are you with the measures put in place, the advice that's been given to the public to prepare for this?
PARTRIDGE: Yes. We're pretty good. We're are warning out last Thursday, so away in the event. And we're pretty confident on the track for the storm. And of course, we're taking in Ireland, certainly helped to keep the majority of people within their homes and limit the amount of loss of life. Anyway, all in all, unfortunately, three people did lose their lives yesterday in Southern Ireland.
SESAY: You know, another custom to this kind of weather event there in the U.K., I mean, to have it moving, you know, it's way along, and now about to reach Southern Scotland. Do you feel people are taking the weather advisory seriously? Do you have an expectation that people will stay off those bridges, stay off those roads? PARTRIDGE: Yes. Luckily, people were taking it quite seriously. Ironically as well, it was the anniversary of the great storm in the U.K., which happened 30 years ago, literally yesterday. So, additional publicity from that did help to heighten public awareness, and particularly people in Southern Scotland were aware of what's coming after the event in Ireland yesterday.
SESAY: Yes. And as we talk about Ireland, I mean, give me your sense of the scale of damage caused by Ophelia today as it made its way along.
PARTRIDGE: Yes. Currently, they're looking at 360,000 homes without power in Southern Ireland at the moment. And to have all the schools in the entire count closed is a massive thing in itself. So, yes, quite a big impact. We're not sure in anywhere near those sorts of impacts as it crosses Scotland today, but it will certainly cause further destruction we'll foresee at our shores.
SESAY: Yes. And the thing is, as we've seen in Ireland, even when Ophelia has gone, has kind of made its way off, there's still a threat that remains in Ireland. We saw that there's a possibility of flooding. Do you have the same concern with Southern Scotland?
PARTRIDGE: Thankfully, the rain is not going to be too much of an issue for Scotland. We (INAUDIBLE) of its -- going to be arriving over Western Scotland, which is an area that can cope with quite a lot of rain anyway there. They're quite used to rain up there, fortunately. So, it shouldn't be a problem.
SESAY: All right. Simon Partridge with the Met Office, really appreciate it. Thank you.
VAUSE: Well, in Iraq, violence has broken out between two U.S. allies in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The Iraqi military has taken the city, ending three years of Kurdish control after they defended Kirkuk from ISIS militants. But long before that, the Kurds claimed the city as theirs. Last month, the Kurdish referendum voted overwhelmingly for independence from Baghdad, which may have played into the timing of the Iraqi offensive on Kirkuk. And this is the scene Monday as Iraqi troops removed the Kurdish flag from the governor's building, and clashes have broken out as these forces move into the city -- many Kurdish families have fled.
Well, for more on all of this, we're joined by Michael Crouse, he's a former U.S. Marine Captain, State Department Contractor as well. In Iraq, he provided security for the U.S. Constable General in Irbil -- the capital of the Kurdish region. And also, he spent time in Kirkuk. So, Michael, thank you for coming with us.
MICHEAL CROUSE, FORMER U.S. MARINE CAPTAIN AND CONTRACTOR OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT: It's good to be here.
VAUSE: OK. So, there was an agreement between Baghdad and the Kurdish faction, which was basically, mostly in control of Kirkuk for this all to go ahead peacefully. And for the most part it did --
CROUSE: For the most part it did.
VAUSE: They were providing in months another faction, right?
CROUSE: Yes, and mainly the Kurdish Peshmerga forces decided they were going to leave peacefully. There was some sporadic fighting that took place between some of the Shia militias, which are mainly trained and back by Iran -- which creates a whole another problem. From my contacts on the ground, they basically said that the Iraqi military forces were said do not shoot unless you were fired upon.
VAUSE: So, they were disciplined as well.
CROUSE: They're very disciplined. And you know, it creates a problem for us right now, because we're still trying from the United States perspective. We're still trying to fight ISIS. These are our two strongest allies fighting ISIS.
VAUSE: Well, I want to get to that point, because so, at least for this point, the fact that this all went, sort of, almost according to plan, does that indicate to you that there will be some kind of peaceful resolution to this particular crisis.
CROUSE: I think so. This was inevitable. As you mentioned in the opening, you had the -- basically, the Kurdish forces saved Kirkuk from the same fate as Mosul. When the Iraqi army fled in 2014, the Kurdish forces are the ones that came in the city and saved it from falling to ISIS. It was inevitable that you were going to have Iraqi or federal troops as were calling from Baghdad re-enter and take it back. It's always been a disputed area because of the oil fields. You were always going to have this conflict of who's going to control the oil fields.
[01:10:27] VAUSE: OK. So, you've got these two forces -- the Iraqi and the Kurds force -- both American allies, both at odds, both trained by the U.S.
CROUSE: And equipped.
VAUSE: Yes. And you've got this response from President Trump, which we heard in the rose garden on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't like the fact that they're clashing. We're not taking sides, but we don't like the fact that they're clashing. We, we -- let me tell you, we've had for many years, very good relationship with the Kurds, as you know, and we've also been on the side of Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. So, does his part of Arwa Damon's reporting -- she's in the region as well. This is part of the report she filed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Clashes erupted overnight on Sunday when Iraqi security forces, who also had the popular mobilization unit alongside them. That is the pre-dominantly Shia Paramilitary Forces, largely backed by Iran, pushing forward. And eventually taking control of some key strategic oil sites, a military base, and then eventually moving into the city of Kirkuk itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. So, you've got this sort of, you know, even-handed approach from the U.S. president, we don't want to get involved, we don't like it when they fight. But as the Kurds are pointing out, and as Arwa has reported, you have these Iranian-backed militias -- and you mentioned this as well -- taking part in this offensive on a key U.S. ally which has been crucial in the fight against ISIS. So, where does this all end up going?
CROUSE: Well, from a Kurdish perspective, this -- it's almost throwback to the late 1988 and fall offensive which Saddam created. Basically, he pushed out hundreds of thousands of Kurdish individuals, citizens from Kirkuk at the time. So, that's to freshen their mind. Most of us are familiar with the offensive with Halabja -- with the poison gas attack -- that was part of this offensive.
I've been there. The Kurds, this is something like it took place last week. They remember that. So, the Kurds are willing to fight. Now, that's only for the main territorial area of Kurdistan. Kirkuk tends to be at thought of it is outside of the territory aspect of what most Kurds considered to be Kurdistan. That also includes parts of Western Iran in Southern Turkey, which, you know, we all know that there are some issues with the PKK.
CROUSE: Exactly. Now, my problem that I have with the Trump administration's response here is, I do not understand why Tillerson is not the plane to Baghdad right now. You have the two strongest allies facing off against each other while we're still ISIS in Syria. ISIS is still around. Now, they've been badly defeated in Mosul, and they retreated back to Syria but we're still fighting them.
VAUSE: So -- well, these two sides are fighting each other, they're not fighting ISIS?
CROUSE: No, not at all. Well, now --
VAUSE: This is their main focus.
CROUSE: Yes, exactly. Like I said, you know, we've seen some small skirmishes. But what you're going to see from the Peshmerga, which is the Kurdish Military Forces, you're probably going to see a lot of their forces move from the western part of the border of Syria down to the Kirkuk area. You've seen Iraqi, as we've said -- Iraqi forces take their eye off the price. Instead of being on the border and fighting ISIS, now they're going to into position because we don't know what's going to happen.
Now, with Iran, the backed Shia, because -- the vast majority like 95, 96 percent of Kurdistan is Sunni. So, you have Shia Militias versus Sunni Kurds. So, you may actually get back to that sectarian violence that we saw back before the surge in 2007-2008 in Iraq, which should be the worst-case scenario.
VAUSE: Yes. Look, this is so difficult for people to understand. But essentially, I think the point is Tillerson or someone within this administration needs to be sorting this out --
VAUSE: And that's not happening right now. But Michael, so good to have you coming, we appreciate it. Thank you.
CROUSE: Appreciate it.
SESAY: Turning to Africa now. And rescuers are looking for survivors of the massive twin truck bombings in Somalia's capital. At least 300 people were killed, making Saturday's attacks the deadliest in the country's modern history. So far, no one has claimed responsibility, but the terror group al-Shabaab has carried out similar bombings in the past.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, this feud has been going on for months, but on Monday the U.S. president and the Senate majority leader they said that they're just getting on. All right, everything's fine. What a political turnaround. More on that in a moment.
[01:14:40] SESAY: Plus, almost a month after Hurricane Maria. Many in Puerto Rico have no option but to drink water that could be toxic.
VAUSE: Well, in Washington, Republicans are in the majority in the House and in the Senate. There's the Republican president in the White House, but apparently, that doesn't mean you're actually in control, because, clearly, right now the Republican agenda has stalled.
SESAY: Well, the infighting is approaching an all-out war. And so, the president tried to present a united front as it (INAUDIBLE) to the news conference. Jeff Zeleny reports.
TRUMP: My relationship with this gentleman is outstanding, has been outstanding.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump, breaking the ice today with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It's too soon to know if they'd buried the hatchet.
TRUMP: We're fighting for tax cuts the same thing. We're fighting for lower taxes, big tax cuts, the biggest tax cut in the history of our nation. We're fighting for reform as part of that.
ZELENY: With their vastly different styles on full display, the two men stood side by side in the rose garden, trying to make nice and hoping to smooth over the insults and infighting flying between them for weeks.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Contrary to what some of you may have reported, we are together totally on this agenda.
ZELENY: The Republican tax cut plan is a critical test for whether the White House and Congress can actually govern. It's an incentive for Trump and McConnell to come together, despite the civil war raging inside the GOP. The president's embrace of McConnell stood in contrast to weeks of blaming and shaming him for failing to repeal Obamacare.
TRUMP: We should've had health care approved. He should've known that he had a couple of votes that turned on him.
ZELENY: And today, McConnell did not question Mr. Trump's grasp for the presidency as he did this summer.
MCCONNELL: Our new president, of course, had been in this line of work before, and I think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the Democratic process.
ZELENY: After a -- lunch today, the president took questions for nearly 45 minutes as McConnell watched and occasionally joined in. It was an unusual sign of unity, considering Trump loyalist like Steve Bannon had declared war on McConnell and the Republican establishment.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE STRATEGIST: Yes, Mitch, the donors, the donors are not happy. They've all left you. We've cut your oxygen off, Mitch, OK?
ZELENY: But the show of solidarity at the White House today, sent a clear signal the president is far less interested in tearing down the Republican Party than Bannon, his former Chief Strategist is.
TRUMP: Steve is doing what Steve thinks is the right thing. Some of the people that he may be looking at, I'm going to see if we talk them out of that because, frankly, they're great people.
ZELENY: McConnell did not mention Bannon by name, but he's warned against the effort to mount primary challenges against Republican Senators.
MCCONNELL: You have to nominate people who can actually win because winners make policy and losers go home.
ZELENY: The president showed little interest in bringing his impromptu free will news conference to an end, taking questions on one topic after another. He even looked ahead to his next election, raising an improbable scenario.
TRUMP: I hope Hillary wins. Is she going to run? I hope. Hillary, please run again.
ZELENY: Of course, that's wishful-thinking for President Trump. Hillary Clinton has said, again and again, she is not running for president in 2020. But the president is back on the road; here in South Carolina, raising money for the Republican governor here. But it's the tax cut, tax reform package on the Capitol Hill that will test whether Republicans can actually show they can govern or not.
Republicans in the House and Senate, watching this so carefully to see if they can hold on to their majorities. They're looking for one accomplishment in this legislative session, what the tax cuts the president and Mitch McConnell, closer than ever, they said, are working on this together. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Greenville, South Carolina.
[01:20:33] SESAY: Well, our Political Commentator Dave Jacobson and John Thomas join us here in L.A. And Dave, to you first. So, this impromptu news conference that the president had, you know, bypassing the press shop, suddenly turning up, you know, doing a 40-minute plus Q and A. I mean, the situation with these gatherings are always done no harm. You know what I mean? Get out unscathed. Don't trample on your own message. How did he do?
DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think he's trying to create a facade. But like, he clearly glossed over this whole war with Mitch McConnell a couple of months ago. And you know, earlier in the cabinet meeting he insinuated that he endorsed Steve Bannon's strategy -- the scorcher strategy -- to go after GOP incumbents. So, I guess it's kind of a bizarre dynamic where on the one hand, he has to work with Mitch McConnell, he's trying to gloss over this whole war that he's had with Mitch McConnell because he wants to get stuff done. But then, he's endorsing his former chief strategist's campaign plan to take on some of those GOP incumbents.
VAUSE: I thought it would engage -- it's clear that he doesn't. But one thing which he did gloss over and didn't really sort of answer the question, sort of just dodged it when he was at this potential visit to DMZ on his upcoming trip Asia. He was asked specifically about, you know, was the sort of -- basically, tempting North Korea and causing trouble in this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you afraid of provoking North Korea by going to the DMZ?
TRUMP: Well, take a look at that. I didn't hear in terms of provoking, but we will certainly --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: John, clearly, in the current climate, with the tensions with Iraq right now. Other presidents submitted the (INAUDIBLE), not exactly a good move, is it?
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: No. It'd be a terrible move for a security standpoint if nothing else. I mean, it's -- I don't know how you secure that. Understand North Korea just on the edge of the DMZ has lots of military weapons. So, just security-wise. But also, look, if you don't want to thumb your nose by going in the guy's homeland right now. Let's wait and see --
VAUSE: He, with binoculars, are looking at here, and the military all around you, the message is clear.
SESAY: You know, Dave, there are those who believe and they've written about him talked about it, that this president really does want to have a confrontation -- a military confrontation -- with North Korea. And that the bellicose rhetoric is all about pushing the U.S. to that point. Should he go to the DMZ, is that a proof of their argument that that's where he wants to go? Is that how you've read it?
JACOBSON: I think the president thinks it's a politically advantageous move to be in a position where potentially we're at war. And I think it's dangerous; I don't think he should do it. But I think this is a reckless presidency, and Donald Trump is desperate to score cheap political points. He hasn't -- he not getting anything done through the Congress, and so this is something that the president has the power to do. I hope he doesn't go there.
THOMAS: It is pretty offensive to think because he can't get legislative accomplishments done, he's willing to go to war with North Korea, Dave?
JACOBSON: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't necessarily send back any other friends. But Donald Trump is extraordinary in that respect.
VAUSE: He also set off a lot of controversy during the news conference. He was asked simply why it is taking so long talk publicly about the four U.S. service members who died in Niger. And just talked about, you know, contacting these families, and why it all taking so long? And then, he threw this off-cuff comment about President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls; a lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate when I think I'm able to do it. They have made the ultimate sacrifice, so generally, I would say that I like to call. I'm going to be calling them, I wouldn't let a little time to pass, I'm going to be calling them. I have, as you know since I've been president, I have. But in addition, I actually wrote letters individually to the soldiers we're talking about, and they're going to be going out either today or tomorrow. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. A lot of Democrats who work for President Obama reacted angrily to that. This is former Attorney General, Eric Holder, he tweeted: "Stop the damn lying -- - you're the President. I went to Dover AFB with 44 (Obama), and saw him comfort the families of both the fallen military & DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency." But you know, John, again, what you have is the president of the United States in the rose garden behind the podium with the presidential seal making stuff up. I mean, because he did try to walk it back later in that news conference, and he just made it up.
THOMAS: Well, I mean, he shouldn't have said it.
VAUSE: But he did. He does it all the time.
THOMAS: It was the case of foot in mouth disease. I mean, there's no doubt about it. The good news is, we're out here to fact check him. Everyone knows that not just President Obama, but President Bush, and President Clinton, this is one of the roles of commander in chief, is to call and console family members of service members who we've lost. So, you could see Trump as a stream of consciousness. I think what he was getting at is that this is a very important thing to him, and the values this component of his job. He's doing it better than it's ever been done before.
VAUSE: It's not a contest.
THOMAS: No, it's not. But he's saying how important -- he's trying to transcend how important it is. Now, why does go off on this tangent? I have no idea.
[01:25:36] SESAY: Well, let me read you the White House statement put out by Sarah Sanders, the Press Secretary. She said, "The president wasn't criticizing predecessors, he's stating a fact. When American heroes make the ultimate sacrifice, president's pay their respect, sometimes they call, sometimes they sent a letter, other times they have the opportunity to meet family members in person. This president, like his predecessors, has done each of these. Individuals claiming former presidents, such as their bosses, called each family of the fallen are mistaken." It's kind of --
VAUSE: Some spin.
SESAY: Yes, as we've been saying, he's kind of passing, it's --
THOMAS: As the play is com shop -- you know, parsing words.
JACOBSON: You know, when I heard this earlier today, it made me think back about Donald Trump's response initially after Charlottesville where he said, hold on, I don't want to respond to anything until I get all the facts. Well, presidential politics 101, get the facts before you talk in the rose garden with the presidential seal on the podium. SESAY: -- something like this.
JACOBSON: Definitely compare a basic thing, is like, to not lie about something like that about -- and to exploit our service members. This is an issue that Donald Trump campaign on 2016; he's the military guy. I mean, the guy was silent for 10 days as commander in chief, he should've spoken out earlier.
VAUSE: OK. Well, Republican Senator John McCain, obviously, delivered a medal a few hours ago out so many, given by the National Constitution Center. He had a few things to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The fear of the world we have organized, and led for three quarters of a century to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain the last best hope of earth for the sake of some half-baked spurious nationalism, cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solving problems --
MCCAIN: Is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans can sign to the ash heap of history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: John, who could he be talking about?
THOMAS: I have no idea. Somebody that he may not like so much. I mean, it was clear who he was talking about. But also, well, look, I admire and I'm grateful for his service. It's also fairly disingenuous because --
THOMAS: Just attacking the president about the -- on immigration and nationalism. Remember, here's a guy who campaigned essentially to re- elect on Trump's platform and now he's saying he disagrees with the president, he doesn't know where the president is going. I just don't think that's necessarily fair. And let's also not forget, John McCain was a huge advocate for the Iraq war, and so he obviously doesn't --
VAUSE: -- to every country around the world at one point.
VAUSE: But you know, he is a guy who is in the twilight of career, obviously, he isn't well. But he gets out there and speaks passionately about his concern, about the United States abandoning its core values. You know, these values, which have played such an important role in the country's history and in the world.
SESAY: And just to add to you were saying, John, he also said, we will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideas are absent. We wouldn't deserve to. I mean, really, it's a talk about a kind of dichotomy in terms of just kind of existentialism, sort of the how he sees the world and the president. But I think that is the issue -- I think certainly from abroad when they look at America, the fact that this president doesn't understand or doesn't care about the importance of American leadership in the world.
THOMAS: I think President Trump does care about that. I think they just have different views. Trump thinks that you shouldn't get involved unless it's absolutely necessary that we should focus on here at home. I think that he believes that America does have to lead the way when places like North Korea, right? He's taking the lead there. So, they clearly have a divergent philosophy. I think there are some similarities but there is also a clash of personalities. And this, to me, is, you know, McCain's final way of just saying screw you.
VAUSE: Well, Dave, those divergent philosophy is so divergent there.
JACOBSON: Right, for sure. I mean, John McCain is a patriot. And I think, you know, back to his 2008 campaign, his tagline was "country first," and that's the manifestation of what we're seeing with John McCain: America first -- whoa, sorry, that's a Trump line. Let's go back to country first. But, like, and you're seeing that reflected in policy, I totally disagree with him on policy. But like, whether it's health care, or tax plans, tax policy, he's calling for bipartisanship in Washington, and at a time where Americans are salivating for some change. He's stepping to the plain, saying, you know, let's work together, let's get stuff done.
[19:30:00] If this isn't going to be something where the left or the right are going to do this on their own like we ought to like, come together as Americans and solve some of our problems. And I think we need to see more of that. And so, hopefully, he -- you know, some of his colleagues are looking and watching and hearing what he's saying, but, you know, we'll see what happens in the next couple of weeks.
VAUSE: OK. And you know, John McCain, suffering from brain cancer.
SESAY: Yes, we wish him well.
SESAY: Gentlemen, thank you.
VAUSE: Thank you.
SESAY: Quick break here. Next on NEWSROOM L.A. President Trump calls sexual assault allegations totally fake news but a very real legal fight is brewing between the president's lawyers and one of his accusers.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay the headlines this hour. Wildfires in Portugal, Spain have killed at least 39 people and
injured dozens. Thousands of firefighters are on the line, tackling about 160 fires. Authorities believe some of them may have been started deliberately but it's also been unusually dry and hot in the area.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) storm Ireland has seen in decades has killed at least three people. Ophelia with hurricane force winds and heavy rain, leaving hundreds of thousands without power.
SESAY: In Iraq, two U.S. allies are facing off after Iraqi troops seized the oil-rich city of Kirkuk from Kurdish control. The Kurds held the city for more than two years, defending it from ISIS militants. Tensions have been building the region since the Kurdish referendum last month. Overwhelmingly voted for independence from Baghdad.
VAUSE: Well, he was once the feared and powerful producer in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein, but he is now increasingly becoming a pariah in tinsel town. The Producers Guild of America is the latest organization to condemn him in the wake of sexual harassment and rape allegations. The board, they have voted unanimously Monday to begin expulsion proceedings.
SESAY: Weinstein has already been kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences, and his membership in its British counterparts BAFTA is suspended. He's also facing criminal investigations in the U.S. and the U.K.
VAUSE: Well, sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump came to light when he was a candidate running for the White House. Now that he is president those allegations have not gone away.
SESAY: Lawyers for one of his accusers have issued a subpoena to Mr. Trump's campaign for key document. The president's lawyers are vowing they won't get them, at least not without a fight.
More now from CNN's Jessica Schneider.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid a cascade of complaints from multiple women last October that Donald Trump had sexually assaulted them over the years.
SUMMER ZERVOS, TRUMP ACCUSER: And he came to me and started kissing me open mouthed as he was pulling me toward him.
SCHNEIDER: Then candidate Trump promised to take them to court.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.
[01:35:05] SCHNEIDER: The president has not sued but his repeated bashing of his accusers during the campaign -- TRUMP: When you look at that horrible woman last night you said, I
don't think so. Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication.
SCHNEIDER: -- has prompted accuser and former "Apprentice" star Summer Zervos --
TRUMP: You know what, Summer, you're fired.
SCHNEIDER: -- to sue him for defamation in January and as first reported by BuzzFeed her lawyer Gloria Allred issued a wide-ranging subpoena in March to the president's campaign, seeking all documents concerning any woman who asserted that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately including any basis for Donald J. Trump's statements that any such woman or women fabricated, created or lied about her/their interactions with him or motivated to come forward by fame or 10 minutes of fame, money, politics or pressure from the Clinton campaign.
GLORIA ALLRED, VICTIMS RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Part of their argument is that the president is legally immune from being sued because he is president. We respond with the case of Paula Jones versus President Clinton which went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court indicated no man is above the law even the president of the United States is not above the law.
SCHNEIDER: The Supreme Court did allow Paula Jones's sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton to proceed. But Trump's lawyers argue this issuance in the subpoena is a different circumstance, stating, "Miss Allred has served a far-reaching subpoena on the Trump campaign that seeks wholly irrelevant information intended solely to harass the president. Indeed Miss Allred herself has questioned how the president could run the country if faced with broad discovery."
ALLRED: Any attacks on me, this is not new. People who oppose me off and will attack me personally which is usually a sign that they don't have a good argument against the merits of my argument.
SCHNEIDER: Hillary Clinton even weighed in this weekend.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated anywhere, whether it's in entertainment, politics, you know, after all we have someone admitting to being a sexual assaulter in the Oval Office, there has to be a recognition that we must stand against this kind of, you know, no action that is so sexist and misogynistic.
SCHNEIDER: The president pushback from the Rose Garden against reports of the subpoena served on his campaign by Zervos and Allred.
TRUMP: All I can say is it's totally fake news. It's fake. It's fake. It's made-up stuff and it's disgraceful what happens but that taps into -- that happens in the world of politics.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SESAY: As we follow these accusation against Harvey Weinstein and President Trump it is clear that these scandals are about much more than successful men abusing their power. It is now a desperate call to address the reality that sexual assault is a global problem.
Estimates published by the World Health Organization indicate that about one in three women worldwide have experienced some sort of sexual violence in their lifetime but now more than ever women and men are using social media to call for action.
Actress Rose McGowan publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her in a series of three last week . Twitter then temporarily deactivated her account which prompted the #WomenBoycottTwitter movement.
Amid that boycott, a different social media campaign sprung up to amplify the voices of the segment of women who also often are not heard or championed. I'm talking about women of color, and the hashtag that came to signify our voices, "Women of Color Affirmation."
Joining me now is the creator of that hashtag, activist April Reign. April is also the creator of the OscarSoWhite hashtag that went viral back in 2015.
April, welcome, really good to have you with us on the program.
APRIL REIGN, CREATOR, #WOCAFFIRMATION: Thank you. It's my pleasure.
SESAY: So let me ask you was there a specific moment or incident that led you to say women of color need to stand apart from the "Women Boycott Twitter" movement last week?
REIGN: Well, it's not a matter of standing apart because I definitely support what Rose McGowan is doing. You know, she has been a one- person wrecking crew in sort of bring to light the sexual abuse and harassment that so many men and women have experienced in the entertainment industry so I stand with her and allowing those voices to be heard.
The issue is that what we saw on Friday was a groundswell of support for Rose and vitally and importantly so but there have been so many women of color who have experienced targeted abuse and harassment on social media who did not receive that support, so I felt it necessary to affirm those women of color so that we should stand with them just as we were standing with Rose.
SESAY: This is what Ashley Ford said, Refinery29. "The women who are boycotting Twitter today are not bad or wrong.
[01:40:03] The women who have decided not to boycott Twitter today are not bad or wrong. This isn't a moment to make accusations of divisiveness or maliciousness. This is a moment to recognize when the women with the most power forget or choose not to organize with those who have the least."
So tell me, April, how much push back did you get from coming up with this hashtag? How much negativity did you experience from those who maybe just didn't understand the hashtag?
REIGN: Yes. That did happen unfortunately, and in my experience the people that I get -- got the most pushback from where white women who didn't understand, who, A, didn't understand why we all didn't boycott on Friday and B, didn't understand why a special hashtag as they called it needed to be created to celebrate women of color. So it was unfortunate because the hashtag is nothing -- Women of Color Affirmation is nothing but positivity.
I mean, it's got the word affirm in it, right, but I used it and many used it as a teachable moment to say, you know, all too often feminism has not been intersectional.
REIGN: Feminism has been about white women when really we need to think about other women and the fact that women of color face additional challenges in being both a woman of color and female, or non-binaries so we need to keep that in mind. You know very often white women are considered the default and we just need to broaden our frame of reference a little bit so that we are being more inclusive of everyone.
It's the same type of thing that I talk about with Oscar So White, right? We just need to see beyond what our implicit biases are, think outside of our own bubble so that we are more inclusive of everyone else.
SESAY: And April, it is worth pointing out as you touched on that first answer, there have been no mass female driven outrage surrounding the treatment of Jemele Hill. Here's what musician and DJ Questlove tweeted. He said, "I and addition to supporting the Women Boycott Twitter Movement I asked all to remember that Jemele Hill is catching hell as well out," referencing her confrontation with the White House and President Trump, and the White House going as far as to say that she should be fired.
Then of course there was the situation with Leslie Jones who was subjected to most abhorrent, the most dreadful hatred on Twitter, which all centered around her being been part of the remake of "Ghostbusters."
How do you account for the lack of outrage for those two women of color and many others besides?
REIGN: Right. I think that there was outrage among the women of color community but unfortunately there wasn't outrage with white women, you know women who self-identify as feminists. And so Women of Color Affirmation is saying let's be consistent. If we are going to affirm women then let -- and we're going to stand with women, then let stand with Jemele Hill. Let's stand with Jamilah Lemieux. Let's stand with the (INAUDIBLE). Let's stand with Leslie Jones. Let's stand with all women who faced targeted abuse and harassment in any form so if you're going to boycott for Rose McGowan and really these allegations as you mentioned just came to light, within the last 10 days, why isn't that -- why is it that there was not the same type of outrage for Jemele Hill when this has been going on for nearly a month now?
SESAY: All right. April Reign, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for getting the conversation started. It is a much-needed one. Very much appreciate it. Thank you.
REIGN: My pleasure. Thank you.
VAUSE: Well, addiction to opioid is killing on average 142 people every day. And the U.S. president promising some serious action this national crisis could officially become a national emergency. Details on what that means after the break.
[01:46:02] SESAY: Well, President Donald Trump said he'll have a major announcement next week on the opioid epidemic which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the U.S. He made the promise following news reports about a 2016 law allowed drug companies to flood the U.S. with prescription narcotics.
VAUSE: Republican Congressman Tom Marino was a driving force behind that bill and until Monday he was also Trump's choice to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the so-called drug czar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So he was a very early supporter of mine. The great state of Pennsylvania. He's a great guy. I did see the report. We'll look into the report. We're going to take it very seriously because we're going to have a major announcement probably next week on the drug crisis and on the opioid. Massive problem. And I want to get that absolutely right. This country and frankly the world has a drug problem. The world has a drug problem but we have it and we're going to do something about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Joining us now Reef Karim, the founder and medical director of the Control Center of Beverly Hills.
Reef, thanks for coming in. Early this year a commission chaired by the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recommended that Donald Trump, the president, declare a national emergency. Here's what Governor Christie said speaking back in August.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: 142 Americans are dying every day of drug overdose. Every day. Which means we have a 9/11 scale loss every three weeks in America. So the first recommendation we say to the president is you must declare a national emergency. A public health emergencies that will power your Cabinet, the executive branch and motivate the congressional folks to be able to fund this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. At the time, the president a few days later said he would declare that emergency. He never followed through.
REEF KARIM, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Yes.
VAUSE: If he does, is there an immediate impact here like funds are available, that regulations a way to government could act, right?
KARIM: Yes. It's one thing to have money, it's another thing to do something with that money. You have to have a plan. You have to have a strategy, creating a national registry, bringing Narcan to as many places as possible, teaching medical students, teaching doctors. Limiting the pharmaceutical companies' ability to distribute these pills to doctors, regulating doctors, regulating pharmacies. There's a lot you can do.
VAUSE: But these declarations of national emergencies of, says, like, a hurricane or a food epidemic, a short-term immediate crisis gone undusted. This national emergency declaration if it happens will not solve this problem.
VAUSE: This is a long-term --
KARIM: This is a long-term thing. This is not something where the president goes, it's an emergency, let's fix it really quickly. No. This is a long, long term strategy. Think about this. Three times as many people have died from this opiate crisis than Vietnam. I mean, there are more people dying from this than car accidents, than gun violence and so many other things It is the elephant in the room of our country and 80 percent of the world's supply of prescription narcotics are abused here.
KARIM: In this country.
VAUSE: This country contributes enough medication to every adult, including medicated for -- even if it was distributed for three weeks or something.
VAUSE: Why is this problem so unique to the United States?
KARIM: Well, a big one is we all know this, the pharmaceutical companies, but especially when they started doing consumer marketing. So it used to be the doctors were gatekeepers to prevent pharmaceutical companies from directly talking to consumers about their medications then suddenly that changed and doctors weren't being wined and dined anymore. Now it was direct to consumer marketing, that's why we all see these commercials about all these pills and the weird things at the very end of all the problems that these bills can cause.
So that's a big one but also its connection to pain. For some reason in this country people are so more apt to pop a pill to make all the problems go away.
VAUSE: Instant gratification.
KARIM: Or to numb and escape with in instant gratification, than other countries do.
KARIM: And it is a real prescription pill problem is very significant and is one of the main reasons we have an opioid crisis.
VAUSE: OK. The president said he's looking into that report by the "Washington Post" then CBS "60 Minutes" still got these efforts by the drug industry to weaken the laws so they can continue to distribute these drugs.
[01:50:08] Here's one part of that "60 Minutes" report in case you didn't see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was going to write a book about how to harm the United States with pharmaceuticals the only thing I can think of that would immediately harm is to take the authority away from the investigative agency that is trying to enforce the controlled substances act and the new regulations implemented under the act. And that's what this bill did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And that was the bill which was basically shepherd through Congress by Tom Marino, who probably would no longer be the drug czar.
KARIM: He better not be.
VAUSE: How much damage did that law do even though it was only on the books for a very short period of time?
KARIM: This law makes my blood boil. We are in such a significant epidemic right now and Congress decides unanimously, unanimously, no objections, to pass a bill that basically makes the opiate crisis worse by limiting the DEA's ability to monitor and to stop prescription drugs that have abuse potential opiates from getting outdoor streets let alone the hands of doctors or pharmacies that are overprescribing these medications.
This is a huge problem. If you're going to do something about this opiate crisis do the opposite of this, what are you doing?
VAUSE: Right. Other than it was called the Insuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement after 2016.
VAUSE: Which is the exact opposite.
Reef, good to see you. Thank you.
KARIM: Thank you.
SESAY: All right. After a quick break, nearly a month after Hurricane Maria, many in Puerto Rico still do not have access to drinking water. But some residents are tapping into supplies that could be toxic.
VAUSE: Well, firefighters in California are starting to gain the upper hand over those wildfires which have been burning across the state. At least 41 people have been killed and 15 large fires remained active. Even some officials are cautiously optimistic.
SESAY: Better weather could help. The winds are dying down and it could even rain later in the week. Residents are returning to their homes but some finding they have nothing left.
VAUSE: Almost a month after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico with more than three million U.S. citizens, well, they're still struggling to survive.
SESAY: Here's the reality. Food is scarce, over 80 percent of the island does not have electricity. And now some are using potentially contaminated water which could have serious health risks.
Our Ed Lavandera explains.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly a month after Hurricane Maria hit residents around the town of Dorado keep taping into this water faucet behind a chain-link fence with a sign that reads "Danger. Do not enter." And despite the warnings from a police officer they come here to fill containers of water.
But few of them know this well sits in an area designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as a Superfund site where the ground is known to contain dangerously high levels of toxic chemicals. It's located on the northern edge of the island west of San Juan.
In the Dorado Superfund site there are at least six wells that residents have reportedly tapped into for water. One of the wells is access in a shopping center parking lot and there have been long lines of residents waiting to fill up what they can.
The governor of Puerto Rico insist that the water is safe. He says the territories Department of Health has tested it.
[01:55:01] GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO: Obviously if it's a non-drinking water we're not going to be serving it but if it complies with the Clean Water Act then it is going to happen.
LAVANDERA: But it's not clear if the other wells are safe. An Environment Protection Agency team spent the weekend gathering water samples for further testing.
GARY LIPSON, INCIDENT COMMANDER, EPA IN PUERTO RICO: We're not saying that somebody is in immediate danger by drinking this water. We are considering it a long-term risk.
LAVANDERA: Gary Lipson is the EPA incident commander in Puerto Rico. He says they're looking for signs of industrial toxins often linked to serious health problems including cancer. An EPA documents show that as late as last year dangerous levels of those industrial toxins were found in the ground.
(On camera): How concerned are you about what might happen to them.
LIPSON: We're concerned because it's not absolutely clean, you know, pure water. There are some contaminants.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Right after the EPA team left and locked the site Juan Carlos Oqendo (ph) and his brother showed up, peeled back the fence and filled up dozens of containers with water.
(On camera): You're going to drink this water?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LAVANDERA: You're going to drink it? Are you will to take the chance?
He said this is it. This is it, there's no enough water. We'll take the chances.
"If I don't drink water I'm going to die, might as well drink this one."
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Juan Carlos brought us to his home where he lives with his family. The top floor was destroyed by the hurricane. His mother says they've only received two packages of water since the storm and she's been drinking the water from that potentially contaminated well for two weeks and says she now has stomach pains.
(On camera): She says the stomach pains started about two weeks ago and that she's trying to ignore them.
Do you think it has something to do with the water?
She doesn't know for sure but she thinks it might have something to do with the water she's been drinking.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): It's impossible to know for sure if the stomach pains are related, but in these desperate times with every drop of water many Puerto Ricans could be flirting with another disaster.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dorado, Puerto Rico.
SESAY: It is just so awful.
VAUSE: You got to do what you do. So what are you --
SESAY: I know.
VAUSE: Yes. Yes.
VAUSE: Tough guys.
SESAY: What happens next?
You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay with us. A lot more news after a short break.
VAUSE: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead --