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Trump Asked Advisers If He Should Fire Rosenstein; Grassley Gives Kavanaugh Accuser an Extension; Carolinas Face Rising Rivers, More Floods; Cruz, Cruz, O'Rourke Spar In Texas Debate; The U.S. Has A Warning For Iran. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired September 22, 2018 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- colonial era, half way between other British -- Uganda, and the coastal cord of Mombasa.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein floated the idea of wearing a wire to secretly record President Trump last year.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just look at what is now being exposed in our Department of Justice and the FBI. There's a lingering stench, and we're going to get rid of that, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rod Rosenstein had a shocked reaction to something we all know to be true which is that the White House is a circus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeff Sessions needs to fire Rosenstein, and if he won't, Donald Trump needs to fire both of them.

TRUMP: Brett Kavanaugh is a fantastic man. He was born for the U.S. Supreme Court. He was born for it. And it's going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: the alleged attack was as bad as she says it was, Christine Blasey Ford would have filed charges.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I thought that the president's tweet was completely inappropriate and wrong.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. Top of the hour. I am Victor Blackwell.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Dianne Gallagher in this Saturday for Christi Paul. So, was it a plan to remove the president from office, or just a sarcastic comment that was taken the wrong way? Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is denying reports that he discussed wearing a wire to record conversations with President Trump last year.

BLACKWELL: CNN sources have now confirmed the story first reported by The New York Times that in the days after James Comey was fired as FBI Director, Rosenstein reportedly talked about recruiting cabinet members to help remove President Trump from office by invoking the 25th amendment. First, Rosenstein issued a rare statement denying the report calling it factually incorrect.

GALLAGHER: Then, sources say that Rosenstein went to the White House, spoke with top aides, and then he issued another statement. He said, "I never pursued or authorized recording the president and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the president is absolutely false," his statement.

BLACKWELL: Two statements. According to the Washington Post, President Trump asked advisers yesterday whether he should fire Rosenstein. Well, they talked him out of making any decision last night.

GALLAGHER: Yes. He's now spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, that's after a rally in Missouri. CNN White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez joining us live from nearby Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. And Boris, we were talking before, anything from President Trump so far on this?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not directly, Diane and Victor -- at least not yet. We're still watching Twitter to see if the president has announcements as far as personnel changes to his Department of Justice. Look, it's no secret that President Trump has been angry at the DOJ publicly.

Previously some of his grievances include the Department of Justice not shielding certain Republicans from investigations, not prosecuting some of his political enemies, and specifically what the deputy attorney general, the president according to sources, has voiced displeasure about the fact that Rod Rosenstein has given Robert Mueller free rein over the Russia investigation which, as you know, the president describes as a witch hunt.

Now, the president, again, has not directly addressed this. He was asked about it on the tarmac as he was walking to an event in Springfield, Missouri, yesterday. Though at that event, he did send a message that could be perceived as a foreshadowing of the deputy attorney general's future. Listen to this --


TRUMP: We have great people in the Department of Justice. We have great people, these are people I really believe you take a poll, I got to be at 95 percent. But you've got some real bad ones, you've seen what happened at the FBI. They're all gone. They're all gone. They're all gone.


TRUMP: But there's a lingering stench and we're going to get rid of that, too.


SANCHEZ: Perhaps, a bit of foreshadowing there. There have long been calls from a number of conservatives for the president to fire the deputy attorney general dating back to some of the previous grievances that I mentioned. This report about Rosenstein talking about the 25th amendment and potentially wiretapping of the president is ramping that up. We actually saw a tweet from Donald Trump Jr. last night saying that this was shocking, he was being sarcastic, of course, because this news plays into that narrative that we've heard from the president and some of his allies that there's a deep state out there looking to undo his agenda and to impeach the president. Victor and Diane?

GALLAGHER: Boris Sanchez for us in New Jersey. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joining me now: CNN Contributor Walter Shaub, he's the former Director of the Office of Government of Ethics; Michael Moore, former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia; and CNN Counterterrorism Analyst, Philip Mudd, he's a former FBI Senior Intelligence Adviser. Gentlemen, welcome back. Michael, I'm going to start with you. And first, I want you to listen to two people to whom we know President Trump listens -- Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham.


[07:05:18] LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: The president tonight should seriously consider whether Rod Rosenstein should remain on the job. We just cannot have this plotting at the highest levels of the Justice Department against the chief executive of this executive branch.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: I have a message for the president tonight, under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody. They are hoping and praying that the president does just that. They're hoping he gets mad, that he gets sick and tired of it, and that they can turn this politically into their equivalent of a Friday night massacre. The president needs to know it is all a setup.


BLACKWELL: Judge Jeanine Pirro from Fox also tweeted that the president should fire Rod Rosenstein. So, Michael, what to do, what to do? The Fox bots, they are telling him he should fire Rosenstein. They're conflicted if he should or not, actually. Is his job any more in jeopardy than it was 24 hours ago?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: There's pretty clear dissension amongst the Fox cabinet there. Apparently, that's where the president goes oftentimes to get his advice. My guess at the end of the day, is that you'll find out this may be very well an inside plant from somewhere in the administration to create chaos as the investigation tightens up -- the Mueller investigation tightens up around the president.

I know Rod Rosenstein. He's a careful guy. He's deliberate, and my guess is that if comments like this were made, they were clearly made in jest, and now that's being turned into something else. But think about the chaos the White House is in right now with the Kavanaugh nomination that is teetering. You've got Grassley tweeting. You got Trump trying to decide if he's going to talk to Mueller, if he's going to do a take-home test.

So, it looks to me like the classic case of trying to create a diversion. I think that at the end of the day, Rod is probably safe because of -- there'll be so much discussion on Capitol Hill about what would happen to them in the midterms if he's fired. But what we need to see is some statesmen and women stand up in the Congress and just push back and say we won't let it happen, this is what we're going to do. The problem is, these are odd times. Who would have imagined something like this crazy would go on? But I think he's probably safe.

BLACKWELL: Let's stick with Rosenstein's job and then we'll get to the specifics of the reporting. Walter, next to you, you have in the past, given some strong guidance and warnings to the president about firing Rosenstein, firing Sessions. Does this reporting make it any easier for the president to do that? And you said that there would be some dire consequences, would those be as dire in the new context of what the New York Times reporting?

WALTER SHAUB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think the bottom line on all this is we should be very concerned about a president who wants to turn the Department of Justice into the imperial guard. He tweeted this week that he doesn't have an attorney general. Well, of course, he doesn't have an attorney general, America has an attorney general.

The job of the Department of Justice is to objectively and independently pursue criminal investigations and other litigation and intelligence matters, not to be the personal servants of a politician to wreak havoc on his enemies. So that's the context in which we have to view this, not the latest allegations, but that the president has been trying to warp the criminal justice process to his own hands. In terms of these allegations -- I mean, we'll talk about them more.

But I think we have to remember that talking about the 25th amendment is constitutionally protected activity. It's exactly what the 25th amendment calls on cabinet officials to do, which is confer which each other and try to figure out if something needs to happen. Now, I don't actually think that happened, but the point is, it's -- it's provided for in the constitution.

BLACWELL: Phil, to you, and let's get to the accusations here. Again, Rod Rosenstein has denied all of them. But to you, Phil, just put into context the gravity of the suggestion of wearing a wire to record the president of the United States, and then to what end -- I mean, he was recording the chaos and incoherence that many analysts were seeing at the time was public, that we all saw.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, count me skeptical on this, Victor, and I'll tell you why in a moment. But to answer your question, when I first saw this report and talked to some of my friends, I mean, I thought I couldn't be surprised anymore. But to have somebody who's a deputy cabinet official suggest that they don't trust the president enough to the point where they want to wear a wire in a conversation, presumably a reference to the Comey issues last year when Comey was writing memos, and there are differing -- obviously, differing stories from the president and Comey about what happened in their conversations. I mean, I couldn't believe it.

My point when I started by saying I'm skeptical here is context is everything. Let's say there's a comment about wearing a wire and Rosenstein was laughing. That one word, laughing, tells you it's not a serious conversation. Let's say somebody walked in and said there's conversations on Capitol Hill about invoking the 25th amendment and Rosenstein says, well, that could potentially be a federal legal issue, we might want to look at that. That context tells me he's just trying to research an amendment. So, context here is everything. And I think we're seeing maybe 20 percent of the story, 30 percent. Count me skeptical.

[07:10:42] BLACKWELL: All right. Michael, back to you. Rosenstein said early on that if at some point in this investigation it was appropriate to recuse himself, that he would do so. Let's remember as mentioned in the reporting of the last 12 or so hours that he wrote the letter on which the White House relied, at least said they did, to fire James Comey back in May of 2017. Is it time for him to recuse himself from this investigation?

MOORE: Yes, I don't think so. I think that basically he was used as a tool when he wrote the letter and Trump was trying to set him up or Sessions wanted to set him up at time to get some documentation to some concerns that they have about Comey and been expressed by both, frankly, after the election. So, I don't think he's got to recuse himself here. He's overseeing the Russia investigation.

The letter had nothing to do with Russia, had nothing to do with the interference in the election. And remember that by and large, why the system is setup, Bob Mueller is operating sort of a special counsel right now, and he's moving forward with him his team. Rod's job is to just oversee that. To do approvals, to make sure that things come through, warrant applications. I'm sure he reviews charges before they come out, budget matters, that type of thing.

So, the man in charge of this investigation on the ground is Bob Mueller. And I think we can have total confidence there. And we can have confidence in Rosenstein because he's withstood the pressure to -- he's not shut the investigation down. He said I'm going to let it run forward. He's done that no matter which side it's tended to favor through the different trials and indictments and charges and things that have come out.

BLACKWELL: I got about 90 seconds. I want to get to both of you, Walter and Phil, one more time. Phil, first, to you. Beyond -- well, let me say this, short of firing Rosenstein, what's the impact of this reporting on the investigation, on the department? Is it just rhetorical, or will there be more?

MUDD: There will be impact. Let me cut to the chase. When there are further indictments, and I suspect there will be, I would tell you the president is going to use to his advantage and walk to the American people and line this up with everything else that's happened including Jim Comey and say none of the indictments are accurate. People like Rod Rosenstein are the deep state, I'm going to pardon everybody.

BLACKWELL: To you, Walter, finally here, I want you to listen to President Trump last night at his rally in Missouri and saying who actually is on the ballot in November for Republicans?


TRUMP: A poll came out, they said everybody's going out in 2020 because they want to vote for you, they want to vote for the president. But they're not maybe coming out in 2018. Get out in 2018 because you're voting for me in 2018. You're voting for me.


BLACKWELL: Well, that's not what some vulnerable Republicans who are trying to create some distance want to hear. So, Walter, to you, in November, are the persuadable voters, whoever's left, are they voting for the president who says that he is against a rigged witch hunt or the deep state as he puts it, or against the person, who, for some reason, every couple of weeks, invoking the 25th amendment to remove him from comes up? How does this play with those who are still persuadable?

SHAUB: Yes. Well, I'm not a political analyst, so I don't think that I have the expertise to say who the voters are going to vote for. But I do think it's important that just in terms of the day-to-day operations of the government, we stay focused on the concerns about a president trying to interfere with the Department of Justice. And he brought that into the discussion there, and I think that it sounded a little bit to me like he's asking people to ratify his interference with the Department of Justice. And I think that's a job for Congress to step in here and hold him accountable and tell him that they are a co-equal branch of government under the constitution and tell him to leave -- stay out of the investigation that he's a subject of.

BLACKWELL: All right. Walter Shaub, Michael Moore, Phil Mudd, thank you all. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and Senator Mazy Hirono join Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION," that's tomorrow only on CNN, 9:00 a.m. Eastern. And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- former Mayor -- joins "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," again, only on CNN, that's tomorrow at 10:00 Eastern.

GALLAGHER: All right, up ahead, a deadline looming today for the woman accusing Supreme Court Nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual assault. So, coming up, this new timeline that Senate Republicans have setup for Christine Blasey Ford, next.

[07:15:14] BLACKWELL: Plus, Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke hit the debate stage, can the aggressive favorite block the Republican main stage from a second term?


BLACKWELL: According to The New York Times, Senate Republicans have told the woman accusing Supreme Court Nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual assault that she has until 2:30 this afternoon to agree to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

GALLAGHER: Christine Blasey Ford says that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party back when they were in high school. As CNN's Congressional Correspondent, Phil Mattingly explains, there's no guarantee that lawmakers are going to get the answer that they want today.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Deadlines have been set, negotiations have been ongoing. Fits and starts. But actually happening, and deadlines have been blown past. And now, the real question is, will Republicans move forward with a vote on Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh without hearing from the individual who alleges he sexually assaulted her back in high school?

It remains an open question, and is one that was driven by, kind of, high drama throughout the course of Friday as Senate Republicans responded to initial conditions laid out by Debra Katz, the Attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, on Thursday night. Those conditions were not only laid out but also given a deadline. First 5:00 p.m., then 10:00 p.m., then Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley made clear, 10:00 p.m. was it. There needed to be an agreement on testimony at 10:00 p.m., not a response, an agreement. While he got a response, but he did not get an agreement.

[07:20:46] Debra Katz, the lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford, accusing the committee of bullying Christine Blasey Ford of saying that there were arbitrary deadlines, of saying that they weren't given nearly enough time to respond in detail given the stakes and the scope of the allegations and the life-changing potential testimony that she would have to give. So, where does that leave things? Well, it leaves things as an open question. As it currently stands, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination on Monday. Will that change at some point over the course over the weekend? We'll have to wait and see. Phil Mattingly, CNN, Capitol Hill.


GALLAGHER: All right. Joining me now to break all of this down: Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun Times. OK. Lynn, you heard what Phil was just saying there, we've now seen three deadlines that have been set just the past 24 hours. What is the rush, first of all, here? I mean, between the death of Justice Scalia and appointment -- the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, it was just two weeks a year, so, what are the chances they're going to set another deadline here? Is there really a rush?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN TIMES: Well, there's a rush politically on the side of Republicans because they want to get this done before the midterm elections, where's there is a slight but a chance of the Senate Democrats taking over the chamber and also, it's always better to have this settled before an election than after, and letting this become of an issue closer to the midterms just weeks away. And when you mention the timeline of the replacement for Justice Scalia, remember that it includes more than 200 days where the Republicans refused to give Judge Merrick Garland even a hearing.

So, when Senator Grassley puts deadlines on, it does seem absurd because clearly, they were in no hurry during the last year of President Obama's administration. But this is to try and, I guess, to force some action while at the same time giving Senator Grassley the look of being reasonable and accommodating, but the only thing that's missing right now is a countdown clock at the bottom of our screen.

GALLAGHER: Don't count that out just yet. Look, you're talking about that because the longer the accusations hang over Judge Kavanaugh's head, arguably the harder it is going to be for Republicans to get him confirmed. Now, Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys have come back each time with sort of a listed demands that vary here. I want you to take a listen real quick to what Susan Collins who is seen as a key in all of this, what she had to say about some of those demands and what she thinks they ring.


COLLINS: For example, it does not make sense for her to insist that Judge Kavanaugh go before her because otherwise how can he respond? On the other hand, her request for a hearing later in the week, her requests for security, her requests to not have the judge in the room, I think, are requests that should be accommodated.


GALLAGHER: So, Lynn, if her attorneys are kind of coming back with these different requests, some of them make sense, some of them not so much, it sounds like, do they have the upper hand in this situation?

SWEET: For the moment because if Senator Grassley forces a vote on Monday, he will likely win it -- the committee vote. And you know, even if she testifies, by the way, it is still -- she will have to be a very compelling witness to change his trajectory. But the upper hand in the moment is with her because there is a sense that her story should be out for the Republicans and the White House to look like they truly want the story out and then give Judge Kavanaugh a chance to respond. But the true upper hand is with Mitch McConnell who has the power to call the vote.

GALLAGHER: Lynn Sweet, thank you so much. Mitch McConnell sounding very confident at the Value Voters Summit this weekend. Thank you.

SWEET: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Parts of South Carolina are already underwater from Hurricane Florence. And now, it's about to get even worse. CNN's Nick Valencia is in Conway, South Carolina.

[07:25:10] NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. The water is just now starting to creep into these neighborhoods. And as you mentioned, it's only going to get worse. I'm Nick Valencia in Conway, South Carolina. Coming up after the break, we'll tell you just how high this water is expected to rise. You're watching CNN's NEW DAY. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:30:11] GALLAGHER: Welcome back and good Saturday morning, I'm Dianne Gallagher in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you this morning.

GALLAGHER: So, South Carolina is still feeling the effects of Hurricane Florence this morning. The town of Nichols is almost completely under water. You can see there are some highways still closed, then, the local roads there are impassable.

BLACKWELL: And listen, this is not over, more waters are coming, expected to rise today. CNN Correspondent Nick Valencia is in Conway, South Carolina where the conditions -- when you could see how the conditions are there. Nick, what are you seeing this morning? What's coming?

VALENCIA: Yes. Good morning, Victor. We all knew that this was going to happen. All week long, officials here have been warning residents that these water which is overflow from the Waccamaw River, is mulch here.

You know, it was going to start to overflow into this community. This is a community that had already been hit hard by flash flooding from Hurricane Florence. That water receded long enough for the president to make his visit here earlier this week. This is the same neighborhood that he walked around in.

Residents already hard-hit after landfall from Hurricane Florence. And now they're getting it for the second time in about 10 days here. We have been here most of the week, watching this water creep up for the Waccamaw River. And this morning, waking up to a new record.

More than 18 feet is the water level at the Waccamaw River. The last record was set two years ago during Hurricane Matthew, at 17 feet, nine inches. And we're well above that and it's only going to get worse here.

Just check out what this section of the Sherwood neighborhood it's called here in Conway. It's about three blocks of flooding, it just goes back and back. It's about two miles away from the Waccamaw River.

This is an area that's not under mandatory evacuation. Most residents have gotten out of here. Though that there are several that we spoke to this morning who said that they're just going to keep an eye on the water levels, they've been coming out every morning to check, and it's just been inching closer and closer into this community.

I talked to the city administrator, they are very anxious and nervous. They believe water rescues will take place sometime this weekend as that water is expected to crest from the Waccamaw River.

It's not expected to crest until sometime Tuesday, perhaps, even into Wednesday. And I mentioned, it's at 18 feet right now. Expected to crest at 22 feet, so you can imagine what this neighborhood is going to look like in the coming days.

BLACKWELL: Nick Valencia, trouble still ahead for the folks there. Thanks so much.


GALLAGHER: And CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar in the Weather Center now. With that forecast, Allison, Nick painted a pretty grim picture.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. So, the good news is there is no rain expected today in that general area. But that changes starting coming up this week, Monday and Tuesday specifically, around that Conway area. And that's a concern because look at all of the areas, you still have under flood warnings as we speak right now.

And you look at all of the rivers, all those dots you see there. Those are minor, moderate, even major flood stage for a lot of those locations. We are still keeping an eye on that area around Conway, the river that Nick just spoke about.

The other key concern too is look at this. At least, for the next week, it's expected to stay in major flood stage. We actually don't even expect it to get back to normal levels for even longer than that. So, that's going to be a major concern there.

And it's because of all of that water. Even as Florence exited, it was still able to pull all of that new moisture and the concern going forward, however, is going to be those additional rain chances once we get to Monday and Tuesday.

But this isn't the only spot that we're concerned about for flooding. Believe it or not, we've had other areas including Texas and Oklahoma.

Look at the amount of rain that has fallen in the last 36 hours. 14, even 15 inches in portions of South Central Oklahoma. That's not the only area though. We've also had Arkansas pick up some areas of very heavy rainfall.

The concern going forward is to look at where we have all of these flood watches, flood warnings, even flash flood warnings in effect because of the amount of rain. Dallas-Fort Worth, by the way, the seven inches they picked up yesterday, actually push them over the threshold to be the wettest September on record.

And Dianne, Victor, when you look at these numbers, they still have more to come. Still likely to pick up perhaps an additional two to five inches of rain again today.

GALLAGHER: She is Allison Chinchar. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: FEMA head Brock Long, will have to reimburse the federal government after an internal report found he misused government vehicles. According to the report, Long used the cars for his commute to and from work without permission. Now, that's a six-hour drive from North Carolina to Washington. This is a statement from Long, "As the leader of this agency, I accept full responsibility for any mistakes that were made by me or the agency." Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, says that she still has full confidence in Long's ability to perform the job. Early reports said, she had asked for Long's resignation.

GALLAGHER: Well, it could be the midterm's hottest contest and it is in Texas. The race between Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke. The two met face to face last night in their first debate. We'll get you caught up.

[07:35:06] BLACKWELL: President Trump calls them violent animals. America's most feared and violent street gang is making headlines again with a series of killings on the East Coast. Lisa Ling embeds with a law enforcement to understand the real terror of MS-13.


LISA LING, CNN HOST: Armed with tactics of seduction, coercion, and threats, MS-13 has had no shortage of potential recruits over. 100,000 unaccompanied minors have arrived in the United States since 2014, and most are vulnerable to recruitment.

Under the cover of night, I met one such target. A young teen recently reunited with his mother after a decade apart.

How old were you the first time you saw someone get killed?


LING: You were nine years old? Did a lot of your friends join MS-13 in El Salvador?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, 10 of my friend had joined MS-13.

LING: And what happened to their lives?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two of them are dead already.


BLACKWELL: The season premiere of "THIS IS LIFE" airs tomorrow night at 10:15 p.m. Eastern. Right here on CNN.


[07:40:43] BLACKWELL: Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Beto O'Rourke, they held their first debate of their Senate race last night.

GALLAGHER: Yes, and now look, the true the two they traded barbs over, of course, the president, policy and who was the most Texan this was something that trended all night on Twitter. People in Texas and really around the country been waiting for it. National Correspondent Ed Lavandera was there and has the story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: So, what did you -- what did you not say?

REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I'm not going to repeat the slander and mischaracterization.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A Texas Senate debate isn't the kind of political moment that generates a great deal of intrigue. But 2018 in Texas is different. Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O'Rourke wasted no time scrapping it out over who is more Texan.

O'ROURKE: Only one of us has been to each county in Texas and would have an idea of what Texas values and interest are. Within months of being sworn to serve as your Senator, Ted Cruz was not in Texas, he was in Iowa.

CRUZ: Congressman O'Rourke doesn't seem to understand that representing Texas is not doing a photo-op in each County in Texas with reporters in tow. But it's actually standing up and fighting for the people of Texas.

O'ROURKE: Thank you so much.

LAVANDERA: El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke has the political world wondering if he can topple the Republican Senator Ted Cruz. O'Rourke has embraced a progressive agenda, universal health care, education reform, granting so-called DREAMers citizenship status. As well as criminal justice reform and legalizing marijuana.

CRUZ: God bless Texas.

LAVANDERA: Cruz is on a mission to paint O'Rourke as a dangerous leftist.

CRUZ: At a one, two, three.

LAVANDERA: And this fully embracing President Trump a strong economy and increased border security. Even in this debate, escaping the shadow of Trump was impossible. Cruz was asked if he had lost his dignity by praising the president after Trump insulted his father and wife.

CRUZ: I've got a responsibility which is to fight for every person here and every person in this state and so I have worked hand in hand with the President on substance. And we have delivered remarkable victories.

O'ROURKE: Listen, if the president attacks you personally, your wife, your father, how you respond is your business.

CRUZ: Thank you.

O'ROURKE: But when a president attacks our institutions, this country allows a foreign power to invade our democracy that is our business. We need a U.S. senator who will stand up to this president.

I love you, too.

LAVANDERA: Some polls have shown O'Rourke within striking distance of Cruz. However, the latest poll released this week from Quinnipiac shows Cruz with a nine-point lead. On the campaign trail, Cruz has been sounding the alarm that this race is indeed closer than most would expect in this red state.

The first debate ended with a hint of perhaps, what's to come in the final weeks of the campaign?

CRUZ: Bernie Sanders believes in what he's fighting for, or believes in socialism. Now, I think what he's fighting for doesn't work. But I think you are absolutely sincere like Bernie that you believe in expanding government in higher taxes and I commend you for fighting for what you believe in.

O'ROURKE: True to form.

LAVANDERA: The question, is will the Texas Senate race play out true to form. Where the history of Democrats trying to unseat a Republican in Texas have ended in unceremonious flameouts. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.


BLACKWELL: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a warning for Iran and the U.S. military could be involved. His interview with CNN, straight ahead.


[07:48:23] GALLAGHER: Two groups of Russian spy planes were spotted near Alaska last night. NORAD says that reconnaissance planes were identified in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone but they did stay in international airspace and never entered the U.S. or Canada.

BLACKWELL: At least, 24 people are dead and more than 53 injured now after a military parade in Southwestern Iran was attacked. This video coming into CNN just minutes ago.

A governor there told local media that terrorists disguised themselves as Islamic Revolutionary Guard members. A military spokesman says that the attackers were connected to a Saudi Arabian terror group.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a warning for Iran. Saying the country will be held accountable for any attacks on U.S. forces even by proxy forces. He sat down with CNN's Elise Labott.


MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: We have told the Islamic Republic of Iran that using a proxy force to attack an American interest will not prevent us from responding against the prime actor. ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: A direct threat from the Secretary of State against Iran after a pair of rocket attacks hit U.S. facilities in Iraq, allegedly by Iranian-backed militias.

POMPEO: We will not let Iran get away with using a proxy force to attack an American interest. Iran will be held accountable for those incidents.

LABOTT: Even militarily?

[07:49:59] POMPEO: They're going to be held accountable. If they are responsible for the arming and training of these militias, we're going to go to the source.

LABOTT: Pompeo double down on his attacks against former Secretary of State John Kerry, for meeting with Iranian officials and counseling them on a strategy to President Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran

Can you tell me, how is this jeopardizing your efforts right now?

POMPEO: No American, and in particular, no former Secretary of State should be actively seeking to undermine the foreign policy of the United States of America. You know, frankly, it was Secretary Kerry's problem. He always refused to treat our enemies like enemies.

LABOTT: Pompeo, said he will begin negotiations on a nuclear deal with North Korea this week. But conceded the fate of any agreement hinges on the bond between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

Is the president allowing Kim Jong-un to set the pace and scope knowing that he made these commitments and trust that he'll make that decision ultimately?

POMPEO: We know the pace would be uneven, but the progress each and every day was important. We think -- we think we're getting that. Remember, the sanctions remain in place. The world sanctions, not America sanctions. The U.N. Security Council resolutions demand that the Chairman Kim make this decision to denuclearize. And those sanctions and the enforcement of those sanctions will continue until such time as that occurs.

LABOTT: In his explosive book, Fear, Bob Woodward details measures the president's closest aides have taken to curb what they viewed as Trump's dangerous impulses on foreign policy.

Woodward book describes a president who doesn't understand national security. A cabinet that is moving things around to save the country from the president's national security. Have you seen that and do you do that?

POMPEO: I find that absolutely ludicrous. There is -- be careful there aren't many members of the president's cabinet who has spent as much time with him as I have a brief in almost every day. A CIA director, I see him and talk to him every day now. This is the president who was fully informed, well briefed, listens, asked hard questions, and is leading his foreign policy team toward solving so many of the problems that plagued this world.

I wish the previous administration had acted with such diligence and power but it was left to us, we'll get it right.

LABOTT: And Iran will be a major focus next week at the United Nations with speeches by Secretary Pompeo and national security adviser on the threat posed by Iran.

Pompeo will also be meeting with members of the Iranian opposition. All part of an administration-wide effort to rally the world to counter Iran. Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.


GALLAGHER: Frightening new video showing the moment a man comes face- to-face with a tornado.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! Oh, my God!



[07:57:26] GALLAGHER: In this week's "STAYING WELL", we take a look at how Philadelphia's mural arts program is helping everyone, from veterans to the formerly incarcerated learn new skills and see the big picture.


JANE GOLDEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MURAL ARTS PHILADELPHIA: There are 4,000 works of public art in the city. We use art to transform individuals, to provide people with a moment of hope, to build resilience. Mural Arts Philadelphia is the nation's largest community-based public art program.

Making our impact individuals in need because they are called on to be creative. They start to see themselves in terms of their potential and self-worth. The artists are leading the vision.

JAMES BUMS, ARTIST, MURAL ARTS PHILADELPHIA: And then, once you land on a design and everyone is on board with it, it's just amazing to see it come to life.

DAVID ALLEN, VETERAN, UNITED STATES ARMY: I'm a former sergeant in the army. I have PTSD, Post-traumatic stress disorder. When I got back I didn't even realize I needed help. We work with elementary school, children as one of the paint sessions. Wow! It's just one of the coolest things I've ever known. It represents every better.

GOLDEN: We work with young people, we work with people behind the walls of Prisons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today was the airbrush workshop. And today, we show the brothers how you make $10 every five minutes opposed to standing on street corners.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It helps you better you as a person, and to be independent when you're in a real world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It turning me to an artist.


BLACKWELL: Well, it took just minutes for a tornado in Canada to rip off roofs of homes there, send cars flying as one storm victim caught this video.

GALLAGHER: This was in the town of Gatineau near Ottawa. Now, the man who took that video says that he did get the warning but just minutes later, the tornado was right in front of him as we can see there.

BLACKWELL: The mayor of Ottawa, says emergency personnel are going door-to-door to check on people now. Almost 150,000 people are without power.

GALLAGHER: Well, I give you a live look now at Conway, South Carolina. We are watching floodwaters starting to rise. Again, right now in neighborhoods near the Waccamaw River. Now, officials say that by the time the river crests in just a couple days, it is going to set a new flood record. We're going to have a live report with our Nick Valencia in just a few minutes from there.

ANNOUNCER: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein floated the idea of wearing a wire to secretly record President Trump last year.