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At Least 48 Missing in Deadly California Mudslides; Record Number of Retirements Threaten GOP House Majority; Missouri Governor Admits Affair But Denies Blackmail Allegation; 7-Eleven Stores Raided in Sweeping Operation; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired January 11, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- 462 homes damaged in this massive, massive mudslide here in Montecito -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Paul, what are the victims on the ground -- what are the family members saying right now?

VERCAMMEN: It's just pure agony and heartbreak. For example, we had heard for days that people were looking for Josie Gower, both from her friends and from her children. Just a desperate search. And it just absolutely boggles your mind to listen to what they have to go through because we watched her son Hayden and her good buddy walk up one of these streets trying to find Josie Gower and then that grim, awful, terrible word, that -- you know, that she didn't make it.


HAYDEN GOWER, SEARCHING FOR HIS MOTHER: I thought she'd be all right. She was in the voluntary evacuation. Calling out her name all night long. Didn't get any response.


VERCAMMEN: Unfortunately too many stories like that. Seventeen dead, John, and now that significant number, 48, missing.

BERMAN: All right. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much. Our hearts go out to those families right now. 48 people still missing there.

In the meantime a huge number of House Republicans heading for the exit. Does this threaten the Republican majority in the House? Stick around.


[10:35:40] BERMAN: All right. A record number of Republicans are retiring from Congress, leaving the House majority potentially at risk. Long-time Representative Darrell Issa became the second congressman to California -- from California to announce he won't seek re-election. That's just this week.

Here to discuss, CNN political commentator Alice Stewart and just a moment Tara Setmayer will be with us as well. Alice, you know, first to you here, we are seeing, you know, what is

an essentially a parade of Republicans coming out and saying they will not seek re-election. Ed Royce was a surprise, I know, to Republican officials. Darrell Issa is someone they thought might happen right now.

What are these candidates are seeing that is making them flee?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's the same that there are other things for them to do. Clearly Darrell Issa has plenty of money and he doesn't need the headaches that they have here in Washington, and he's going home to spend more time with his family and make money.

Look, there are a lot of reasons why members of Congress decide to run for office and not to run for office. That being said, it's concerning as a Republican that as of now virtually 29 GOP held seats in the House that will be up come midterms and there's a lot of work to be done. The key is looking at how things will play out moving forward with regard to the economy.

BERMAN: Right.

STEWART: And if the economy is strong, I think that is good for Republicans and that will be positive sign come midterms no matter how many people are up for election.

BERMAN: A lot of these guys, they aren't waiting, right? They're getting out now. They obviously see that maybe they don't think it will improve by enough by next November, and Tara, there is a statistic that I saw from Cook that the party in power in the White House, if the president's approval rating is below 50 percent, that party has lost an average of 40 seats.


BERMAN: Forty seats.

SETMAYER: That doesn't spell good news for Republicans considering Democrats only need I believe 24 seats at this point and we already have 30 retirements. But a lot of those, there is some comforting news that a lot of these retirements are in districts that people won overwhelmingly and that Trump won overwhelmingly so there's still considerable Republican districts, however, like Darrell Issa and Ed Royce, those guys, their districts actually went plus 8 and 9 for Hillary Clinton. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, plus 20 for Hillary Clinton.

You know, Frank Lobiano in my home seat of New Jersey, even though went for Trump he was in trouble. You know, New Jersey is become more and more blue and I think a lot of these Republicans are seeing the writing on the wall that it just isn't worth it anymore for them in the era of Trump.

But something else I think that's concerning is the loss of the brain drain. You know, we're seeing seven committee chairman retiring.

BERMAN: Right.

SETMAYER: And, you know, people talk about the swamp in Washington, all that, but, you know, you really need to have experienced legislators to understand and move legislation through Congress. And when you lose these guys and you possibly bring in newbies, I'm not quite sure that that's good for the institution at this point.

BERMAN: That's an important issue.

SETMAYER: Especially in the era of Trump.

BERMAN: It's a little bit different. It's a little bit different than if there is going to be a way but it is an important issue and it is absolutely happening, all these chairmen are fleeing.

You know, Alice, you know, Tara, we've all sort of, you know, been in politics or covered it for a long time. A lot of these congressional elections that I've seen before, you know, waves wave, is how I would put it. You know, with we have just seen so many of these now from '94 to 2006 to 2010, you know, to 2014. When there is a wave, it goes big.

The one thing I will say, though, Alice, and you made this point, it's early, right. I don't know that we know it this far in advance or we knew it this far in advance in the past.

STEWART: Right. And clearly 2010 was a huge wave certainly for Republicans, and the possibility exists for that to happen for Democrats here.

Look, it is no secret and history has proven that the party in power in the midterm elections in the first term of a presidency typically the party in power suffers. But the good thing is that the Republican Party is very well aware of that and they are taking steps to be prepared for that.


STEWART: Look, look at money alone. The RNC has raised $130 million last year. The DNC half of that, nearly $60 million. Money is important. It's critical in politics. It helps to get your message out.


STEWART: It helps to recruit good candidates and it helps to sway elections in a way that any -- nothing else can so if you look at the money --

BERMAN: And people --

[10:40:05] STEWART: They're in good shape.

BERMAN: And people involved in running these elections tell me that they are prepared for this, although I will say when you face a big wave sometimes it amounts to, you know, doing something in the wind, spitting in the wind, let's say.

SETMAYER: Well, I think the Trump election shows that money, more money doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to win. I think there were some axioms that aren't necessarily true anymore. We've got to be careful.

BERMAN: One interesting development also in our last 30 seconds here, you know, we may not be seeing the same thing in the Senate. The House is one thing.


BERMAN: The Senate another. Democrats are defending a lot more seats at risk. We're looking at Ohio right now and Jim Renacci, a congressman may be getting in that race. He's a pretty strong candidate to get in that race against Sherrod Brown.


BERMAN: It will still be an uphill battle for him. But the Senate may be harder for Democrats to take over.

SETMAYER: That's true. That's something that I think most people haven't really concentrated on the Senate because of that. It's a much heavier lift. The statewide -- you know, they're getting elected statewide as opposed to individual districts where the races are a little more individualized.

I think the Senate should be OK for Republicans. What happened in Alabama gives Democrats a glimmer of hope that there is a chance but that was also an extenuating circumstance. But I'll tell you what, if in Arizona it's a potential that you're looking at two seats could be up, you know, god forbid, but there's potential for that in Arizona, but we already know that Jeff Flake's seat is an open seat and Arizona, even though it's plus 12 Republican if you have someone like a Joe Arpaio as the nominee for Republicans, you might as well hand that seat to Democrats.

We have to be very careful about who is recruited to run for these seats and can they run in the general election, or you're going to hand Democrats wins where they shouldn't be getting them.

BERMAN: I will say, just as we were talking, there news out of North Dakota, Kevin Cramer, the congressman, the at-large congressman said he will not run for Senate there. Just as we're saying the Senate looks better for Republicans, this congressman not taking on that race.

Quick last word, Alice.

STEWART: I just think, I mean, Kevin would have been a great candidate for Senate there. I think the world of him. Look, one thing that Alabama did teach Republicans, and Democrats should take a note from this, they're going to vet their candidates a lot better. They're going to make sure that they don't have another Roy Moore running for office. So I think that was a difficult lesson to learn but speaking with the NRSC and the congressional committee, they're taking a much closer look at making sure they have the absolute best possible candidate they have winning the primary that will also do well in the general.

BERMAN: All right. Alice Stewart, Tara Setmayer, thanks so much for being with us. Thank you very much.

Blackmail allegations rocking Missouri. The governor admits to an affair. But he is fighting against allegations that he threatened to blackmail the woman involved with a naked photo.


[10:47:03] BERMAN: All right. New this morning, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens denying claims he threatened to blackmail a woman that he did have an affair with. Greitens admits he was unfaithful to his wife before he became governor but his lawyers are fighting back against this woman's claims that Greitens took a naked photo of her to keep her quiet.

You know, Missouri is abuzz this morning with this, you know, potential scandal.

CNN's Alison Kosik is here.

Alison, so how did this all come to light?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. So the woman who had this affair with the governor, her ex-husband came forward and talked with CNN affiliate KMOV. This happening last night, the timing kind of interesting, the governor gave his state of the state address last night. But once again, the ex-husband telling the story to KMOV and the two got to know each other because the governor went to the salon where the woman cut his hair and she knew him even a year prior to, when this came out, saying that she had a crush on the governor.

But this ex-husband releasing a recording of a conversation that he had with his now ex-wife of her basically confessing this encounter that happened at the governor's house in March 2015 -- not at the governor's house, at his house, because this encounter happened before he became governor.

But this recording was done without the ex-wife even knowing that the recording happened. And then she confesses that it happened, but what's shocking about this story, not even so much that this extramarital affair happened because the governor admits to it, are the allegations that he took this photo of her without her consent, a nude photo, and threatened to blackmail her if she told anybody about this affair.

This is something that the governor is denying but in this recording she says this, she says, "He stepped back, I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said, you're never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of me everywhere."

So that is the allegation once again. The governor's attorney James Bennett saying Greitens denies taking the photo. He denies the claim of blackmail, calling it false.

Actually we have the audio. Let's go ahead and listen to her.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So on Saturday morning before my first client I did go to his house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the first time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the first time ever. Like I said, nothing, period, had ever happened or taken place until this snowball, this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) tornado just happened. I know I brought it on.


KOSIK: OK. Just to help you understand what's going on. That is the conversation that the woman had with her ex-husband just -- or now ex- husband just days after the encounter happened. Now listen to her allegation of the blackmail.


[10:50:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said, you're never going to mention my name, otherwise there's be pictures of me everywhere.


KOSIK: OK. So in this recorded conversation the woman also said that Greitens apologized for taking the picture afterwards. He apologized for it and he said he deleted it afterwards. She did claim that she had at least one other physical encounter or physical interaction with the governor or before he was governor, with Greitens later that day.

BERMAN: So important. This is a recording of this woman, but this woman is now not speaking on the record as far as we know. Correct?

KOSIK: Correct. She didn't talk to KMOV last night.

BERMAN: She didn't talk to KMOV. As far as I know she hasn't spoken to anyone else. But the ex-husband of this woman is going forward.

KOSIK: Correct.

BERMAN: But that's her voice saying that a photo was taken and a blackmail was threatened. The governor through his lawyers denying that photo was ever taken or blackmail was threatened.

KOSIK: Yes. Exactly.

BERMAN: Although both sides or the woman says the photo was deleted so there may be no way to ever find out the truth here.

KOSIK: Well, no. Greitens said that he deleted it. That's a good question.

BERMAN: Now Greitens insisted the photo ever took place.


BERMAN: The woman involved said --

KOSIK: She's saying that.

BERMAN: Saying on the tape, later on you heard her saying that the photo she believes or was told that it was deleted.

All right. Alison Kosik, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

KOSIK: Sure, John.

BERMAN: All right. The largest nationwide crackdown against an employer under President Trump to date, immigration officials raided nearly 100 7-Eleven franchise stores from Los Angeles to New York. They raided them because they had been told these stores hired undocumented immigrants. Reportedly ICE officials say that there could be more of these raids to come.

Our Jessica Schneider following this, joins us now from Washington.

Jessica, what can you tell us?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, that warning, it's reverberating around the country. So ICE's deputy director, he put it this way. He said if you were a U.S. business that employs illegal immigrants, ICE will come after you. And that's exactly what they did early yesterday morning. So ICE agents they targeted 98 stores in what they're calling an enforcement action. They actually served paperwork to these 7-Elevens in 17 states plus Washington, D.C.

And as part of the action they interviewed employers and managers to find out if they had illegal employees and after that 21 people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally were arrested. So ICE's deputy director, he did warn that this would happen a few months ago. He talked about it in October and he promised that ICE would quadruple workplace crackdowns.

So 7-Eleven meanwhile today they're distancing themselves from the hiring practices that came under fire here. They put it this way, they issued a statement saying that 7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws.

You know, John, though, this isn't the first time that we've seen a crackdown like this. In fact, ICE cracked down on 7-Eleven franchises in 2013 under Obama, George W. Bush did something similar at work places all over the country, but as you mentioned at the top here, John, this is the largest workplace raid and roundup in the Trump administration over the past year -- John. BERMAN: All right. Jessica Schneider, thanks so much for following

this for us. Appreciate it.

Playing with heavy hearts, the Texas Longhorns earn their biggest win in the basketball season. The "Bleacher Report" is next.


[10:58:07] BERMAN: The University of Texas basketball team coming through with an emotional win after their star player was diagnosed with leukemia.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hey, John, this "Bleacher Report" brought to you by 2018 Ford F-150. Sophomore guard Andrew Jones, one of the leaders of the Longhorns team, he actually fractured his wrist back in December and when he returned he barely played because of complained of being tired. After undergoing many tests Jones' family announcing yesterday that he was diagnosed with leukemia.

Texas draping Jones' jersey across one of their chairs on the bench as they took on TCU last night. The Longhorns ended up getting their biggest win of the season, winning in double overtime. After the game the players they held up Jones' jersey as they sang "The Fight Song," "The Eyes of Texas."

The head coach Shaka Smart, with tears in his eyes, said they love Jones and they won that game for him.


SHAKA SMART, HEAD COACH: Andrew is the best fighter on our team and, you know, he's got a fight ahead of him, but I know he's really going to fight and our guys really fed off of his spirit tonight.


SCHOLES: The Chicago Bulls making NBA history last night, not for anything they did on the court. The team is believed to be the first ever to bring along all of their moms on a road trip. All but three of the players brought their mom along with them to New York. They had dinner together Tuesday night, then all of the moms went and got a manicure, pedicure and facial together before doing some sightseeing with their sons on game day.

The moms all wearing their sons' jerseys for the game as well and they got to watch a good one. Their sons, the Bulls, beat the Knicks 122- 110 in double overtime.

And John, all the other moms around the NBA are probably saying, I wish my son played for the Bulls.


BERMAN: Yes. Look, it's a good thing they won, else, you know, they would be disappointing mom. And no one wants to do that.


BERMAN: Andy Scholes, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

SCHOLES: Have a good one, John.

BERMAN: All right. Thank you all for joining us today. A lot of news. I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR" starts right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Kate Bolduan.