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CNN: WH Aides Surprised By Backlash To Whitaker Appointment; Backlash As Trump Appoints A Mueller Critic To Oversee Mueller; Father Consoles, Sings To Daughter As They Drive Through Fire. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 10, 2018 - 20:00   ET



[20:00:13] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being here as we follow breaking news right now.

The deadly and very destructive, out of control wildfires in California. At least nine people have died so far. Most of them trapped in their cars or in their homes. One town in northern California is almost completely gone. Nearly every home and building there burned down.

Fires are also raging in Los Angeles. Close to 100,000 acres have gone up in flames.

Stay with CNN. We are live from both of these areas, with the wildfire emergency coming up.

But first, our breaking news in Florida tonight where a statewide recount of both the governor's race and the race is under way. This comes as the president launches new allegations of voter fraud. Machines were tallying votes this evening in Miami-Dade County.

Some other counties will begin their vote count, their recount tomorrow. Florida senate and governor's races were both so tight, under half a percent between the candidates in each race, triggering this automatic recount.

And after days of silence, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Desantis released a video statement just a few hours ago. Listen.


RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: At noon today, supervisors of the elections from across the state submitted their election returns to the secretary of state. Those results are clear and unambiguous just as they were on election night. And I am honored by the trust that Floridians have placed in me to serve as your next governor.


CABRERA: Just after the recount was ordered, the Democratic candidate, Andrew Gillum, withdrew the concession he made on election night.


MAYOR ANDREW GILLUM (D), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Let me say clearly, I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every single vote.


CABRERA: All of this as President Trump tweets today, trying to steal two big elections in Florida. We are watching closely.

CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now from Tallahassee, the state capital.

Ryan, is there evidence to back up the President's allegations of wrongdoing?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is certainly isn't, Ana. And that has not stop Republicans from trying to hint that there perhaps may be some criminal activity related to the vote count here in Florida. But you don't have to take my word, take the word of the secretary of state who is an appointed Republican who has said very specifically that there is no evidence of any criminal activity in the vote count. And that's after he had two election commissioners that were reviewing the activity on Election Day and beyond.

Also, the department of law enforcement here has also said the same exact thing. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean though, Ana, that there hasn't been some incompetence on the part of some of these supervisors of election particularly in Broward and Palm Beach County which took much longer to count these votes as they did in other parts of the state.

But that is behind us now. All those votes have been registered. They are at the secretary of state's office. It's this massive recount that's important now. They have until Thursday to wrap that up before we head into the next stage of this process -- Ana.

CABRERA: Ryan, what about the controversy in Broward County that triggered some protests at the supervisor of elections' office there? What can you tell us?

NOBLES: Yes. There's no doubt that Broward is often the center of controversy as it relates to vote tabulation in Florida. This isn't the first time that Dr. Brenda snipes, who is the supervisor of elections there, has been under scrutiny. She has in past elections as well. The difference here, though, is while in past situations she has been accused of something very specific in terms of handling the situation incorrectly, this time around it's just a matter of not doing it in a fast and timely way.

She was hit with a lawsuit by the Scott campaign where they accused her of not being transparent enough with the information. The Scott campaign did win that lawsuit. She did provide them with the records they were looking for. And we should point out that Broward County did ultimately get all of their votes in by the appointed time. Now, the big question though here, Ana, is does this have anything to

do with the ultimate vote count. And that's where it gets a little tricky now because Democrats are now arguing that perhaps there are some votes in Broward County that have yet to be counted, that they should be included in this recount. That could perhaps be the next legal battle. And that's something we don't have the answer to in terms of that question - Ana.

CABRERA: The story is far from over.

Ryan Nobles, thank you for staying on top of it.

And I want to bring in Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Her district includes parts of Broward County.

Congresswoman, thank you so much for being here.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: You are welcome, Ana. My pleasure.

[20:05:00] CABRERA: President Trump accuses Democrats of trying to quote "steal this election." He has pointed directly to your county and alleged fraud. Your governor, Rick Scott, has done the same. Listen.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach and Broward counties. We have all seen the incompetence and irregularities in both tabulations in Broward and Palm Beach for years. But here we go again. I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida. Their goal is to keep mysteriously finding more votes until the election turns out the way they want.


CABRERA: So to be clear, Florida's secretary of state says there's no evidence of criminal activity. But congressman, you know the history. How is it Broward County is at the center of Florida election controversy yet again? And do you worry that the public may be losing confidence in the integrity of Florida's elections system?

SCHULTZ: Ana, there is no controversy here. I mean, every county in the state had until noon today, Saturday, to finish their vote counting process. Broward County is the second largest county in the state and we had over 600,000 votes cast. It takes a long time.

We are talking about a five-page, two-sided ballot that has to be fed into the machine to read the votes that were cast. The tabulations have to occur. It's a cumbersome, arduous process. And that's why Florida law give us all 67 supervisors until 12:00 noon the Saturday after the election to complete that process and that's exactly what happened. What's unfortunate is that the governor and the President don't think

that the law should be followed and that they are actually suggesting that votes should not be counted. All we are doing is saying, let's just make sure we go through the process, follow the law, allow the votes to be counted, counted accurately, and every valid ballot cast should be accurately counted and allowed to be part of the tabulation. That's a radical concept, I guess, to Republicans, but that's what we are trying to achieve.

CABRERA: You make a fair point. What you said is accurate in terms of the process. But there was a complete lack of transparency until Broward County election officials were forced by a judge to lay bare how many votes were cast, how many ballots were left to be tabulated, et cetera. Also big questions about ballot design in that county.

Does Brenda Snipes who oversees elections in Broward County deserve to keep her job?

SCHULTZ: So the secretary of state's office has had monitors overseeing the entire elections process, since I believe May. And so the secretary of state has been monitoring our supervisor of elections office all these months, has specifically said there has been absolutely no concern about the way the election was conducted, and now the secretary of state's office has confirmed that there are no concerns about the validity of this election or anything related to it. The FTLE, even though Governor Rick Scott irresponsibly called for an investigation, they didn't investigate because there's no suggestion of anything having gone wrong.

CABRERA: So in your opinion she's done her job well and deserves to maintain it?

SCHULTZ: In my opinion, we need to count the votes. We need to make sure every vote that was cast be accurately counted and make sure that this election can be completed according to Florida law.


SCHULTZ: That's the process we are following now and that's what we should continue to do.

CABRERA: Forgive me for stepping on you, there's a slight delay. But I want to get to your job in Washington, because now Democrats have the majority in the house. So I want to ask you about the issue of oversight.


CABRERA: How do you plan be to a check on the President?

SCHULTZ: Well, you know, our founding fathers created a constitution that has three co-equal branches of government. And unfortunately, prior to this election, Republicans since President Trump was in office absolutely refuse to engage in responsible oversight. So now at least with Democrats being in the majority, we will be able to provide that check on the, you know, overreach or abuse of power and provide some accountability and oversight to this administration that appears to have been running amok.

So first and foremost, we need to advance an agenda that the American people care about. We need to focus on making sure we can probate people with preexisting conditions and make sure health care is a right, not a privilege that only the wealthy can afford. We are going to enact common sense gun safety legislation.

Those are the things we'll look at and more when it comes to the issue. But we are also going to conduct appropriate oversight and get to the bottom of how involved the Russians were and how much impact they had on the outcome of this election. We are going to look into the President's finances, because he has repeatedly violated the emoluments clause. There's a lot to look at. And that's the proper role of oversight that Congress is responsible for.

[20:10:16] CABRERA: Do you believe Nancy Pelosi will be the next speaker of the House?

SCHULTZ: I do believe Nancy Pelosi will be the next speaker of the House. I also am confident that we are going to have a lot of changeover in our leadership. We have a robust leadership team. There are a lot of wonderful colleagues of mine who are running for the various offices. And I am confident we are going to have a diverse range of seasoned or relatively new leadership. And they are going to help us advance the agenda that the American people elected Democrats to go to bat for.

CABRERA: CABRERA: Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, really good to have you with us. Thank you so much for being here.

SCHULTZ: Thank you, my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

CABRERA: Now back to our other top story, those deadly wildfires across California. At least nine people have been killed in the most destructive fire in that state's history. We will take you to the hardest hit areas just after a quick break. Stay with us.


[20:15:20] CABRERA: Back to our breaking news from California where several separate enormous wildfires are taking a terrible toll. Roaring out of control through large parts of rural northern California and coastal Los Angeles. Officials are now confirming nine deaths so far and they fear that number will rise after they get a closer inspection of the burned-out areas.

CNN's Dan Simon is in Paradise, California, what's left of it. And Scott McLean is in Malibu.

Dan, fire officials tell us that nearly every home, business, and building in that town is just gone.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, this is a community of about 27,000 people. And it is completely paralyzed. Who knows when residents will be allowed back in? Maybe in a few weeks they can start going through the rubble. But in terms of when they will actually be able to start living here again, that is going to be several years from now.

Let me show you what one neighborhood looks like. This is basically total destruction. You can see this burned-out vehicle. There are homes as far as the eye can see that have been destroyed. The thing that stands out when you go through this community is just how widespread the destruction is. We are talking about homes and businesses and churches and schools and retirement centers, you name it. It is all gone.

Now Ana, the good news is the containment number has gone up. But the bad news is the wind is supposed to be ferocious tonight. So crews are really concerned that we are going to start seeing more flames. But hopefully the containment lines will hold and we won't see more devastation. Ana, we will send it back to you.

CABRERA: The skyline behind you is just kind of eerie looking.

Dan Simon, thank you for that reporting.

Scott, you are there in Malibu. Hundreds of thousands of people have wisely followed the evacuation orders. You and your crew I know saw for yourselves today just how destructive the fires are there. What's the latest?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ana. That's right. We are starting to lose light here in this part of California, but I can tell you that a good swath of Malibu is gone. You know, same pictures like this was a house. It's not anymore.

Now, we haven't really seen any residents thus far because it's under a mandatory evacuation order. I want to introduce to you to one person though, Scott Major who is actually just coming back to his house for the first time.

And Scott, I am so sorry, obviously, to look and see what's left of it. I just wonder, when you walked back here, what was your first reaction?

SCOTT MAJOR, MALIBU RESIDENT: Just sick. Just sickening to see. And it's hard to even have a reaction in this short period of time. And I pretty much knew the house was going to be gone when I left yesterday. We were trying to fight the fire coming up through the canyon with my dad. But you never really know until you see it. And it's gone. I mean, we have a lot to put back together. And just got to keep pushing forward. I don't know what else you can do.

MCLEAN: You mentioned you were trying to fight the fire off. I wonder how successful you were with that and what you had to do that.

MAJOR: Yes, obviously we weren't successful. Yes, we had a few hoses and a few sprinkler -- garden sprinkler setups but it wasn't nearly enough for this canyon down here is thick. It's never burned to my knowledge, so.

MCLEAN: At what point did you decide it was too dangerous to be here? MAJOR: When the houses up on the street were on fire, right next door

to us. We knew if we stayed any longer we wouldn't be able to get out of the driveway.

MCLEAN: You mentioned you only had obviously moments to figure out what you were going to take with you. How did you decide what to take, you know, your entire life-worth of possessions?

MAJOR: You just think about the things that mean the most and that are the most valuable, something that could help you out along the road if you need help from someone else. You know, grab and go and just fit as much as you can in there.

MCLEAN: Quickly, Scott, you know, what do you do from now? Where are you going to stay? What are you going to do?

MAJOR: Stay with friends and family, and people that want to have you. And everyone's so generous and hospitable. So we have just got to stay with them and regroup and figure out what's next.

MCLEAN: Well, thanks for talking to us, Scott. And again, so sorry to see what's left of your home.

And Ana, you know, the scary part here is that firefighters that have had a bit of a lull today but one official said don't get lulled into a false sense of security because tomorrow mother nature, she is going to turn on her fan again. The winds are expected to pick up and firefighters are going to have another tough day battling these flames.

[20:20:11] CABRERA: Scott McLean, thank you. Please send our best to Scott Major who you were just talking to. So sad to see his loss.

Dan Simon, thank you as well. Appreciate it, guys.

A scared little girl and her dad had to drive through the flames to get to safety.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess what? We are not going to catch on fire, OK? We are going to stay away from it.


CABRERA: Ahead, this father shares his story.

And President Trump in France with world leaders and apparently things are getting testy. The President's mood is being described as sour. Find out why, next in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:25:19] CABRERA: President Trump is generating controversy in Paris, during events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. President Trump began his trip by slamming France's President on twitter for proposing more robust European military cooperation. Trump called this idea insulting.

Meantime, the President is being criticized for skipping a wreath- laying ceremony at a U.S. military cemetery, apparently due to rough weather. However, other dignitaries, including chief of staff John Kelly, were able to make the short trip to the cemetery by car.

Our Jim Acosta said he is hearing the President appears to be in a sour mood when dealing with other world leaders, even testy at times when it comes to burden sharing and defense spending.

I want to get right to CNN political Analyst Josh Rogin. He is also a columnist at "the Washington Post."

And Josh, again, here is how the President began his trip, moments after landing in Paris. He tweets, President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China, and Russia. Very insulting. But perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO which the U.S. subsidizes greatly.

What do you make of the President starting his visit with that shot across the bow at Macron?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, it's the height of un-diplomacy to insult the person that you are going to visit on your way to go and to visit him. But if you just look the tweet there, several things wrong with it.

First of all, the European Union is not proposing to build a military to protect itself from the United States. It's to wean itself off dependence on the United States which is what President Trump has been asking them to do this whole time. Then when they actually make a move to do it, he says it's insulting.

President Trump still doesn't understand how NATO works. People don't pay NATO. They build their own militaries in cooperation with other countries as part of NATO. So he is totally misrepresenting the funding mechanism for NATO, you know.

And then, you know, he goes to France and he misses the event to honor American service members when everybody else seems to be able to make it.

It's just a series of disasters that have really characterized most of the President's trips abroad. It's not the first time. When he went to Europe last time, he had a similar, actually greater number of embarrassing moments and gaffes and run-ins with allied leaders. The only conclusion one can draw is that the President is intentionally, and I have reported on this extensively, tried to downgrade and in some ways destabilize the American-European relationship which has been the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity around the world for about 75 years. And, you know, I reported once, when President Macron came to the White House, Trump actually said to him why don't you leave the EU? In other words suggesting the breakup of the European Union itself.

This is how President Trump thinks. This is what he believes. It doesn't really fit with American foreign policy over the last 75 years, it doesn't fit with the foreign policy of either party. Yet we see it over and over again.

CABRERA: And we know lawmakers on Capitol Hill do not agree necessarily with some of the thinking that you just laid out for us.

Democrats now prepare to become the House majority this January. And you have reporting that they are planning to investigate all aspects of Trump's foreign policy. Walk me through what you have heard.

ROGIN: Absolutely. We heard President Trump before he left for France tell reporters that the Democrats better not investigate him or he will investigate them right back. I talked to Eliot Engel, the incoming chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, and he is not scared of President Trump's threats. And he intends to investigate not only what's going on in U.S. foreign policy right now but what's been going on in U.S. foreign policy for the past years.

Basically, not only President Trump but secretary of state Pompeo, defense secretary Mattis, all of these leaders have gone without what we would consider basic congressional oversight, because the Republicans when they control these committees didn't exert that oversight. That's all about to change. So what Engel told me is that not only is he going to demand answers on what is going with the state department, Saudi Arabia, Russia. They are going to look back. They want to know what happened in the Helsinki meeting. Remember that? They still never really figure it out. They want to understand what the administration's actions were on lots of different foreign policy crises that have never actually explained. And they are prepared to use budgets, subpoenas, they are going to call Mike Pompeo to testify which he only done once to that committee since he has been secretary of state. It is going to be a whole new day in terms of congressional oversight.

CABRERA: It looks like we may need to buckle up for a potentially bumpy next couple of years.

Josh Rogin, we will be here. We will continue to report on all the developments. Thanks for joining us tonight.


ROGIN: Anytime.

CABRERA: Our own Fareed Zakaria, by the way, sat down with French president, Emmanuel Macron for an exclusive interview.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Obviously, your expression about the European army irritated President Trump. He tweeted something about it. Do you think that there is an inevitable clash here? EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: No. We had a very good discussion this morning and he confirmed in front of the press that he was --he was OK. I think --

ZAKARIA: Does that mean that his tweet was a mistake?

MACRON: I don't know. I'm not the one to comment on his tweets. He's in favor of a better burden sharing within NATO. I agree with that. And I think in order to have a better burden sharing, all of us do need more Europe. What I don't want to see is European countries increasing the budgets in defense in order to buy American's and other arms or materials coming from your industry.


CABRERA: Fareed's entire interview with French president, Emmanuel Macron airs tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Eastern and again at 1:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

Don't go anywhere. We're back in a moment.



[20:35:45] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know Matt Whitaker. I didn't know Matt Whitaker. I didn't speak to Matt Whitaker about it. I don't know Matt Whitaker. In all fairness to Matt Whitaker, who again, I didn't know.


CABRERA: And that was President Trump insisting repeatedly he did not know Matthew Whitaker, his new acting attorney general despite passing on multiple officials who would perhaps be the more natural choice like his deputy A.G., associate A.G., or solicitor general.

Instead, the president chose to personally appoint Whitaker. We knew when Trump said this that it wasn't accurate. But this weekend, we have new details proving just how demonstrably false the president's claim is.

First, we now know Whitaker has visited the White House dozens of times, sometimes meeting with President Trump, other times, forging a strategic relationship with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, understanding they were key in moving up in Trump's eyes.

We also know that besides meeting at the White House, Whitaker and Trump have talked multiple times on the phone. And then there's the way in which Whitaker got his initial job working with Sessions. It was actually the White House, not the DOJ, that pushed for Sessions to hire him as his chief of staff.

And at one point, there was even talk of Whitaker changing jobs. According to the New York Times, former White House counsel Don McGahn interviewed Whitaker about joining Trump's legal team to serve as an attack dog against Robert Mueller, the same Robert Mueller Whitaker has now been handpicked to oversee.

I want to bring in former Trump White House lawyer and CNN legal commentator Jim Schultz. And CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Renato Mariotti. Good to have both of you with us.

Jim, I'll start with you, because in addition to everything, I just listed off, Whitaker has also publicly criticized Mueller, suggested going after political opponents. He's questioned the authority of the Supreme Court. And he even has said judges should have to be Christians.

CNN reports that the White House aides are surprised by the backlash to Whitaker's appointment. Jim, you were at the White House when Whitaker was being considered to join the DOJ. Are you surprised by the backlash?

JIM SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: No. Look, Whitaker was presidentially appointed United States attorney. He's been with the justice department, he understands the justice department. He's a good pick for the attorney general. He was chief of staff.

Whether or not the White House had a hand in him becoming chief of staff is irrelevant. The White House typically has a role in picking chiefs of staff assisting with suggested chiefs of staff for a number of -- for cabinet secretaries across the board. This just is not uncommon.

And it's somewhat -- I think this is just folks not liking the president's pick for the acting attorney general. I mean, they're even going as far as to say that was unconstitutional that he's in the position when clearly it's constitutional under the Vacancies Act that he can be there.

CABRERA: Renato, is that how you see it?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not at all. First of all, the Vacancies Act has nothing to do with whether or not it's constitutional. The question there is whether or not it's an appointment for purposes of the constitution.

But as to some of the other views you mentioned, Ana, look, Matt Whitaker has a number of very troubling views. Not only the view you mentioned which would be unconstitutional, that we have a religious test for judges, but he doesn't believe that courts should have judicial review of whether or not laws are constitutional.

It was recently reported that he believes in nullification, which is of course that we did away within the civil war, the argument that states can nullify federal law. So there's a lot of extreme views.

I think the concern here and the reason people are so interested is, he has also extreme views regarding the Mueller probe, for claiming it a witch-hunt, saying there's no collusion, saying anyone would meet with the Russians in the Trump Tower meeting and now he's overseeing Mueller. I think those are legitimate questions. If he was put before Congress, I doubt he would have been confirmed before the Senate. And now there's all eyes on him because he is overseeing an important investigation for the next 210 days.

CABRERA: Jim, do you know anything about Whitaker? Let me ask real quick if you know anything about Whitaker being considered at one point to join Trump's legal team.

[14:40:08] SCHULTZ: I don't know anything about that. That's up to the president's private lawyers to the extent that those discussions were taking place. I represented the White House and the White House counsel's office.

But going back to the constitutional issue, clearly, this is a temporary and special circumstance. It's well within the province of the president to appoint whoever he wants. He doesn't have to appoint an inferior officer, meaning a deputy attorney general or one of the assistant attorney generals to that position. It's not required. It's not required by the law. It's not required by the constitution.

So if he wants to have Matt Whitaker for these 210 days for this temporary position, he's well within his right to do so.

CABRERA: Jim, if a frequent Trump critic, however, were appointed to investigate Trump, Republicans would be up in arms. Why should someone who's been a frequent critic of Mueller now be appointed to oversee Mueller?

SCHULTZ: Look, he's the attorney general -- acting attorney general of the United States, these cases, these investigations are going to move forward. The president hasn't stepped in and made -- and done anything to stop the Mueller investigation. I don't believe Whitaker's going to do that either. I think Whitaker is going to run the justice department.

There are a whole lot of things going on in the Justice Department other than the Mueller probe. A lot of very important cases, a lot of important cases out of the antitrust division and now the civil rights division that he's going to have to work in -- work on day in and day out. And as he did as chief of staff, and now he does as attorney general.

CABRERA: Do you worry about Mueller and his investigation, Renato?

MARIOTTI: I do, because under the special counsel regulations, Mr. Whitaker has the opportunity to question the decision making of Robert Mueller, to ask him to put in writing his reasons for actions he takes, to overrule actions that he takes. He controls his budget. He could even fire Mueller with good cause.

So obviously, there's a concern when somebody comes in, not only expressing views as you pointed out, very critical of Mueller, but also, as you alluded to a moment ago, Ana, here is a man who interviewed for a job being the defense attorney for the Trump administration against the Mueller probe. I think that to me is a very serious matter that really should warrant recusal, because here you have somebody learning of the private strategies of the defense team, learning potentially facts in a consultation with them, and now he's going to be overseeing that investigation, it seems improper to me.

CABRERA: Got to leave it there, guys. Renato --

SCHULTZ: That's just truly speculative. And there's nothing -- there's nothing there in the law that requires him to recuse at this point.

CABRERA: But why not recuse is the other question. Why not recuse if he's not concerned, he's not trying to influence the Mueller investigation?

SCHULTZ: He has no reason to recuse. There's no reason to recuse unless the law requires it. Why? Just because everyone doesn't like who he is or what his views are, then he has to recuse? The law just doesn't provide for it. He's not required to do it and quite frankly, he shouldn't.

CABRERA: Jim Schultz, Renato Mariotti, thank you both. Good to see you.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

CABRERA: In the middle of a life and death moment, a father finds a way to comfort his 3-year-old daughter.


OLIVIA ALLEN, DAUGHTER OF JOE ALLEN: We're going to get on fire.

JOE ALLEN, FATHER OF OLIVIA: No, we're going to get out of here and we'll come back when it's more Princess Poppy, OK?

CABRERA (voice-over): The man who got his family out of the fires is going to join us live in the CNN NEWSROOM, next.



[20:45:02] CABRERA: Imagine this. You are fleeing a raging wildfire and you have to drive through this to get your family to safety. Raging flames, walls of fire everywhere you look. This is the very real nightmare situation. Too many people are facing in California right now.

The Allen family of Paradise, California, recorded their own escape as the flames threatened their neighborhood. Joe Allen and his wife Whitney had to grab their two children, 3-year-old Olivia and 8-month- old Jordan, and get out fast. Whitney grabbed the baby and took off in one car, Joe followed in another car with daughter Olivia.

Now, watch and listen as Joe comforts his nervous daughter while the flames rage.


O. ALLEN: It's going to get hotter and we're going to get fire. Those fires --

J. ALLEN: Guess what? We're not going to catch on fire, OK?


J. ALLEN: We're going to stay away from it. And we'll be just fine, OK?


J. ALLEN: We're doing all right. Baby, it'll be all right.


J. ALLEN: We're going to get out, OK? We're going to leave.

O. ALLEN: We're going to get on fire.

J. ALLEN: No, we're going to get out of here and we'll come back when it's more Princess Poppy, OK?


J. ALLEN: I'm going to stay away from it, OK?

O. ALLEN: Yes.

J. ALLEN: Yes.

O. ALLEN: Was that fire?

J. ALLEN: Yes.

O. ALLEN: Oh, that fire.

J. ALLEN: What the (BLEEP)


[20:50:10] O. ALLEN: (INAUDIBLE)

J. ALLEN: Look, we're past it, we're out of it, OK?

O. ALLEN: Yay.

J. ALLEN: Yay.

O. ALLEN: You did it, you did it.

J. ALLEN: We did it together.


CABRERA: Thankfully, the Allen family made it out safely. And Joe and his beautiful daughter, Olivia, are joining us now from Chico, California where his family, their family is staying with relatives right now.

Wow. Joe, I am like sweating right now, my heart is pumping after watching that video. As a parent, I am wondering, how did you stay so calm and find the words to say to Olivia, and even started singing?

J. ALLEN: Well, you know, it's kind of our thing to just have conversations every morning when we go to preschool. And, of course, she loves her baby shark song. So --

CABRERA: I know that one. I have an almost 3-year-old as well.

J. ALLEN: Yes. And so we just kind of found a happy spot and had a normal conversation about what was going on. And just kept moving forward.

CABRERA: Did you ever have any doubts about whether you would make it?

J. ALLEN: Actually, yes, there was -- hold on, baby girl. There was a moment when the ambulance, towards the end of the video, they --

O. ALLEN: Mine.

J. ALLEN: It is yours. Towards the end of the video where -- baby girl, that's enough. Thank you. Towards the end of the video where they had actually made a U-turn and they decided not to go up the hill and I thought, you know, this is the last moment where they were going to, you know, just -- the tree had fallen -- baby girl, thank you, you goober.

You know, and I thought that a tree had fallen and that they're going to make us go back up the other way. We were going down the wrong way in traffic. And the other side was completely stacked. It's like there was -- there was nowhere to go. And it was extremely hot. I had my air conditioner going full blast. And I just still had the radiating heat coming from the one side of my car.


J. ALLEN: So, in that moment, absolutely.

CABRERA: Amazing that you could feel the heat and, I mean, you could see the flames, the smoke, hard to see, it looked like. Obviously, everybody made it out safely. Thank goodness. And you all celebrated Olivia's3rd birthday with a candle and a cake.

It looks like you guys are doing all right. Tell me what the situation is for your family now.

J. ALLEN: Right now, we're pretty fortunate enough to have some family in what we would consider Southern California, more like San Diego area and they've offered up a travel trailer for us to find refuge for parents. We were lucky enough to have our own travel trailer at my sister's house in the city.

And so right now, we're just kind of figuring out where we're going to put it and what we're going to do and just kind of move on from there. it's day by day, really.

CABRERA: Yes. One day at a time. Do you know the status of your home?

J. ALLEN: Actually, we found out about -- I want to say three hours ago, we had some friends, it's kind of the way it goes, a friend of a friend of a friend was able to go down our street and it's interesting to say that he can't say that our house is gone. He can just say that all of the houses are gone. There's no placards with address numbers. It's just absolutely desolate.

CABRERA: I'm so sorry to hear that. I have covered on the ground many a wildfire, having come from Colorado, also worked in Washington for a while. And I can, you know, maybe offer a glimmer of hope that every now and then you see these wildfires jumping and some houses still standing amid the rubble and many other houses. I pray that your house is one of those still standing.

But, Joe, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us, so great to see both you and Olivia safe and sound with family and we wish you all the very best.

J. ALLEN: Absolutely. Thank you.

CABRERA: Thank you. And for more ways you at home can help families like Joe's and others who are impacted by these California wildfires go to

Now, tomorrow in the final episode of "PARTS UNKNOWN," Anthony Bourdain takes a personal journey through a formerly bohemian New York neighborhood. Here's a preview.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, TRAVEL DOCUMENTARIAN: In the New York City of the '70s, nearly bankrupt, riddled with corruption, the lower eastside, particularly alphabet city, was left to fend for itself. Huge swaths of it abandoned, ruined, or simply empty.

[20:55:09] Much of it became an open air supermarket for drugs, whole blocks taken over by organized drug gangs.


CABRERA: Don't miss "PARTS UNKNOWN," the final episode, tomorrow night at 9:00, only on CNN.

Up in next, the best of "ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN," a "PARTS UNKNOWN" marathon. I'm Ana Cabrera. Thanks for spending part of your evening with us. I'm back tomorrow afternoon at 5:00 Eastern. Thanks for being here.