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World Leaders Come Together To Mark The 100th Anniversary Of World War I; Firefighters In California Are Carrying Out The Grim And Heartbreaking Task Of Searching Through Ash And Debris For Victims Killed By Those Devastating Fires; Recount Votes In Florida Is About To Start; Russia Investigation Is In Danger Now That Matt Whitaker Has Become The Acting U.S. Attorney General. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired November 11, 2018 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:11] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Happening now in the NEWSROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe it. It really looks like a war zone.

WHITFIELD: California in flame.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A whole town is wiped off the face of the earth in a matter of eight hours.

WHITFIELD: The death toll now in the double-digits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just never anticipated having to evacuate all zones all at the same time.

WHITFIELD: With winds now picking up, there is no sign of relief any time soon.

Plus, a dire warping to President Trump from a key U.S. ally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying ours is first, who cares about the others.

WHITFIELD: Trump's nationalist America first agenda targeted by France's President as world leaders gathered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Millions of American's friends and ally troops have fought with extraordinary skill and valor in one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history.

WHITFIELD: CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Today, as world leaders come together to mark the 100th anniversary of World War I. The somber occasion upstaged by moments of tension during a mourning remembrance ceremony in Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a forceful rebuke of Trump's self-proclaimed nationalist position.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Translator: patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. I know there are old demons which are coming back to the surface. They are ready to wreak chaos and death. History sometimes threatens to take a sinister course once again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And later in the rain, Trump spoke at an American cemetery where 1,565 Americans from World War I and World War II are buried. Trump didn't acknowledge Macron's nationalism dig, instead focusing on honoring the fallen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: American and French patriots of World War I embody the virtues of our two republics. Honor and courage, strength and valor, love and loyalty, Grace and glory. It is our duty to preserve the civilization they defended and to protect the peace they so nobly gave their lives to secure one century ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Yesterday after cancelling a planned (INAUDIBLE) at another American cemetery roughly 50 miles outside of Paris because of what the White House called, I'm quoting now, "logistical difficulties caused by weather."

Vociferous backlash, the grandson of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who was also a member of parliament among those criticizing the decision, tweeting this.

They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate real Donald Trump couldn't even defy the weather to pay respects to the fallen?

CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is in Paris for us.

So Jim, President Trump is now on his way back to the U.S., but tense moments. What does this say about what was really a very warm relationship between Trump and Macron? Now what?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, I thought this was a stunning moment to witness here in Paris. It is not often that you see an American President on the world stage rebuked in this way. He was essentially given a lecture by the French President Emmanuel Macron when he made those comments about nationalism being the opposite of patriotism and then going on to make some of those other tough comments essentially warning the world that nationalism could give birth to much darker forces that could sweep the earth as we saw what happened after World War I. The world did not learn the lessons of World War I and went right into World War II and had to defeat the Nazis in order to save the world.

And it was really a stirring moment to see the President of France standing right there underneath the Arc de Triomphe, in a city that was occupied by the Nazis during World War II really sort of warning the world that is something like this could happen all over again. You can see the expression on the President's face. It was not a warm one. It was not a pleasant one. What we have seen so far since President arrived here in Paris, Fredricka, he is on his way back to Washington now, was a pretty frosty, you know, sense of body language really between these two leaders.

I talked to a source familiar with some of these discretions that the President has have with some of these leaders here for the armistice celebrations. And this source said that the President has been sort of in a sour mood with some of these leaders. He has been testy at times in having these discussions about some of his grudges that he has expressed in the past about, you know, European countries not doing enough to pay their fair share in terms of NATO spending and that sort of thing.

And so, this was a moment I think for Emmanuel Macron to say to President Trump, listen, you can do nationalism back in the United States. But over here in Europe, we don't think it's a good idea. Now, I did talk to an official following the speech because I thought it was pretty stunning. And I asked this official, I said listen, you know, was this a message directed at President Trump? And this official said no, no, no, this was a message directed to all of the world.

And so, I think Emmanuel Macron here just as Europe, Fredricka, and you know this, as sort of been looking around to see who the next leader of Europe is going to be with Angela Merkel announcing recently that she is not going to be running for reelection, I thought this was a pretty big moment.

And the President, we should note, did make that trip out to that cemetery earlier this afternoon unlike what he did yesterday when they scrapped that decision because of rain.

And you know, Fredricka, it is no small thing when the grandson of Winston Churchill, certainly the president, other people in the White House they say admire very much rebukes the President as well for not going out to that cemetery yesterday and braving the elements to pay respect to the American soldier who is lost their lives during World War I.

So the President is heading back after receiving a pretty stinging rebuke that you just don't see very often on the world stage with an American President traveling abroad -- Fredricka.

[14:06:50] WHITFIELD: Yes. And Jim, you talked about the body language and that was most notable, you know, between Macron and Trump. Macron, many times, they are reaching out to him, touching him, hand on, you know, his hand and hand on his thigh a few different occasions and it seemed as though, you know, Trump did not reciprocate, did not in any way, even acknowledge or return any warmth. Was there anything to read into that?

ACOSTA: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Or have people ventured to read into that?

ACOSTA: My sense of it from talking to my sources here in Paris and I talked to a senior French official about this, Emmanuel Macron talked earlier last week, I should say Fredricka, and mentioned the need for countries in Europe to start thinking about their own strategic interest long-term perhaps without the United States being their chief defender. And you know, that is something the President tweeted about as he was coming into Paris. He said he was insulted some of these comments that were interpreted in that meeting that Emmanuel Macron wants a European military or something like that.

He tried to tell our Fareed Zakaria and others here in Paris that that was not necessarily the case, but the senior French official said to me that Emmanuel Macron is starting to think about France and French security interests in a whole new way in part because of what President Trump is doing back in Washington. It is unsettling. American allies across the world and I think Emmanuel Macron made that clear today -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jim Acosta in Paris, thank you so much.

So among other world leaders at the (INAUDIBLE) palace right after that moment was Vladimir Putin who Trump greeted warmly as the two engaged in mutual arm and back patting and Putin, you know, flashes Trump a thumbs up even as you see right there. A stark contrast to how the other world leaders were greeting the Russian President. Their faces noticeably very different than Trump who is there smiling.

So Russian news agencies has reported just moments ago that Putin and Trump actually exchanged pleasantries during the working lunch. And this comes as Putin says he is ready to negotiate with the U.S. on the nuclear arms treaty that Trump has vowed to leave.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in Paris with that development.

So what is being made with those exchanges just described?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Fredricka, I think there were two things to take away from what we have heard from President Putin today. His spokesperson said that over the lunch, there really was not time to get into anything much beyond pleasantries.

But President Putin has spoken to the French language Russian news organization in Russia today. And has been quite clear on a couple of things. One of these plays specifically into the language in that tweet that President Trump used when he arrived here to criticize President Macron. This was what Jim was talking about just now that President Macron has talked about forming a European army.

No surprise here President Putin is trying to exploit that difference there. He said it's natural because the European Union is strong economically and strong politically and natural that they should look to their own sovereignty to be able to protect their own sovereignty and interest through security and defense.

So Putin exploiting that but throwing open the possibility for those discussions as you say for the INF treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. But saying actually is much more important for the experts to speak about this than the leaders to speak about it.

And make no mistake, President Putin exploiting what President Trump tried to do here for his own advantage to get weakness among NATO allies between Europe and the United States.

[14:10:43] WHITFIELD: All right, Nic Robertson. Thank you so much. Of course, potentially setting the stage for when the two are in the same arena also in the G-20 summit in Argentina.

All right. Let's talk more about all of this now, the President specifically to France.

David Andelman, he is a global affairs commentator and a veteran foreign affairs correspondent. Good to see you.

DAVID ANDELMAN, GLOBAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: All right. So let's first, you know, start with your reaction to the French President Macron denouncing nationalism in a not so subtle swipe even though there was some analysis that he was speaking more broadly not necessarily targeting President Trump. How did you see it?

ANDELMAN: Well, not only a slight, but also something that is going to continue in fact over the next day or two. Because right after the ceremony and after the lunch, Macron convened a peace summit, if you will, peace forum it called in Paris for three days. The initial session was actually attended by 70 of the leaders who were at that ceremony this morning.

So what's really quite extraordinary is that this was a globalism summit, a globalism forum. And Trump was the only world leader who was not at this. He was already on the way to the airport heading back to Washington.

So clearly, the rest of the world, certainly the rest of Europe has really basically decided that this is not the way to go. That they are going to have to find and tried an independent path, a new path.

Now, I'm often reminded back to the days of the treaty of Versailles which ended the war officially signed 100 years ago next June, a book I have written recently about this whole subject suggests that, you know, it was Woodrow Wilson (INAUDIBLE) the United States who actually wanted to bring the United States into the world and almost succeed in doing that. He was created the whole concept of globalism really with the United States in the leadership of that. Now Trump seems to be on the verge of trying to dismantle that whole system.

WHITFIELD: But is there a feeling perhaps among European leaders that this is, you know, temporary? This is temporarily unsettling and that, you know, the history is just too deep to be undermined or rewritten this quickly?

ANDELMAN: Well, I have talked to those close to a number of European leaders over the last week or so. And what they tell me is that a lot of them are simply waiting for two more years. They figure if they can get through just two more years, perhaps the American people will have come to their senses and that they will have a different choice, a different sort of President with a different world view to deal with.

So they are kind of hoping that this is just, as you say, a temporary passing phase. But they are also deeply concerns that there are forces within the United States that are working against that. Really, Trump is working against that.

One thing I found particularly striking was Trump's tweet about Poland. Poland is the one country or one of the very few countries in Europe that really has embraced very much a nationalist concept, it is a very right wing government, right wing conservative government. And it was Trump who almost all alone tweeted his congratulations on the 100th anniversary of the founding of this Polish state.

So it is very clear that Trump himself also is trying to pick and choose his friends in Europe, those who think similarly to him.

WHITFIELD: All right, David Andelman, always a pleasure to have you. Thank you so much.

ANDELMAN: Thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's Armageddon in here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Twenty-three people dead, more than 100 missing and hundreds of thousands evacuated from their homes. We will take you live to California as parts of the state become engulfed by the devastating fires.

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[14:18:23] WHITFIELD: Right now, firefighters in California are carrying out the grim and heartbreaking task of searching through ash and debris for victims killed by those devastating fires. At least 23 people have died so far and more than 100 others reported missing. And it may only get worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHIEF MARK LORENZEN, VENTURA COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: The rate of spread is exponentially more than it used to be. Please heed evacuation warnings. Do not stay in your homes to try to defend them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: At this moment, three fires are scorching the land and with wind gusts expected upwards of 60 miles per hour today, the uphill battle firefighters already face is steepening.

Let's go now to CNN's Scott McLean live in Malibu where high winds are expected to fuel the Woolsey fire there for the next couple of days.

So Scott, what do you see?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fredricka. Well, firefighters as you said had a bit of a reprieve yesterday. They are not going to have that stay though as those winds start to return and really stoke those flame.

We are talking about 83,000 acres already chewed up by this fire. It is only 10 percent contained. It destroyed more than 170 homes and there are 57,000 more threatened. Now, there is a wide spread evacuation area including wherein Malibu where we are, so people haven't been able to get to their homes. So they haven't seen in many cases what's left of them.

You can imagine just how hot and how quickly this fire came through here. And if you look to the left down the lane way, you can see in the garden, there is still, you know, some debris and some trees and some things smoldering. And you know, that you know, started to flame up just in the last couple of minutes it. You can see it doesn't take much wind to really restart that fire.

You know, you can see the car over to the right there. We can assume perhaps that firefighters were here or someone was here to put that out because the whole thing is not destroyed. But as I said, a lot of people have not been able to get back. So it has been hard to find actual homeowners.

We spoke to one yesterday though, Scott Major, who lived just a couple of blocks here and we were with him in the moment when he arrived back to his house and realized that it was gone. Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[14:20:25] SCOTT MAJOR, MALIBU RESIDENT: I was sick. I'm still sick. It's literally unbelievable, but it's right in front of my eyes. I just went down there where the house used to be and I wasn't down there very long, but the only thing I found left was a ceramic tea pot that I made in high school.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN: A ceramic tea pot he made in high school. And you know, the one thing that he finds is amazing. Here's one other house, Fredricka. And if you look on the other side

of it, or what's left of it, I should say, you can see a burned up hill side. The fire has just barely crossed that canyon. And we spoke to some people who lived over there. They have been working, just on their own, with garden hoses and shovels and whatever they can find to try to put out hot spots because they are worried that the fire could spread from this side over to that side and threaten their homes.

And as you said, the wind is going to kick up again today 40, 50 mile an hour gust. They are worried obviously that that will restart a lot of these smoldering areas and embers in places where they really don't want them to be. And so, it will be like this way for Tuesday. So there is going to be a lot of people on edge, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: So sad. And you know, that initial shot you gave us there, Scott, really helps people understand, you know, this is the appeal of Malibu. Why so many people love either live in the hillside there or perhaps right beach side. You can see that beautiful sea scape, you know, of the Pacific Ocean that we saw earlier right over your shoulder. It's extraordinary. And just so sad people have lost so much and lives are being so threatened and this deadly fire, you know, from top to bottom there in California.

Scott McLean, thank you so much.

All right. Let's go now to northern California where thus far it has been proven to be very deadly. The city of Paradise has been devastated.

Our Nick Valencia is there for us live - Nick.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fredericka.

This fire now the most destructive fire in California state history and the third deadliest. And looking the surroundings here, you can certainly tell why. All that's left of this home here is the chimney. And we are right here right by one of the main evacuation. It is the main thoroughfares or one of the three main thoroughfares out of Paradise.

Thursday morning when this fire started, this road was just absolutely gridlocked. And from these abandoned burned out cars here, you can tell the panic that may have ensued.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that the welcome to paradise sign? It is!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's our Paradise sign.

VALENCIA (voice-over): By the time most people in Paradise realized how quickly it was spreading, they were already in trouble. This man couldn't believe his eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The town is on fire! UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is nothing like what we had before. But

here, you are looking at 90 percent of the homes are gone in every single neighborhood.

VALENCIA: Jody Jones is the Paradise mayor. She says the speed and ferocity of the fire only gave the town five minutes to evacuate. The mass exodus caused gridlock on the main road out of town. There was such panic. Some drivers abandoned their cars as they tried to flee on foot.

MAYOR JODY JONES, PARADISE COUNTY: We did have an evacuation plan in place. We did implement it. It worked the way it was supposed to work. We just never anticipated having to evacuate all zones all at the same time.

VALENCIA: An automatic emergency alert was sent out to landlines and cell phones of registered residents.

But not everyone got a notification. Cole Wyatt and his family, they live here. And Cole tells me he was asleep at the time when the fire started. If had not been for a phone call from his other, he says, he might not have gotten out before it was too late.

COLE WYATT, PARADISE RESIDENT: He didn't think it was bad enough to call, but something in his gut said I need, you know, make sure my family knows.

VALENCIA: Cole was not registered to receive the alerts.

WYATT: I started thinking about my daughter.

VALENCIA: In the chaos, Cole says it took him two hours to find out his 8-year-old daughter had already been picked up from school by a family member. When he finally get to evacuate, stock in the gridlock, he ran out of gas. A stranger stop and gave him enough to get out of town.

I mean, has it hit you yet?

WYATT: No. I'm still in shock. I'm still trying to wake up from this terrible dream. My daughter, she said, I know we hated our home and we wanted to move out, but it was our home and I'm sad that it's gone.

VALENCIA: Outside of Paradise, we meet James and Ruby Harris. Their car still covered in ash from the fire. They show us where it was damaged when an RV crashed into them during the evacuation, trying to move it out of the way. The scene they describe is absolute mayhem.

RUBY HARRIS, PARADISE RESIDENT: And my husband had to get our son out of the car and into the wheelchair and, you know, buckle him in and, you know, keep my others (INAUDIBLE) from taking off.

[14:25:09] VALENCIA: This is wild flames are surrounding you.

HARRIS: Exactly. And everybody is running and passed us. VALENCIA: Though they were both able to get out, both the Harris' and

Wyatts have nothing left to return to.

WYATT: A whole town was wiped off the face of the earth in a matter of eight hours.

VALENCIA: The most destructive fire in California history has changed their town forever.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA: This fire only spread moderately overnight. Less than expected about 6,000 acres. And yesterday at a press conference, Fredricka, we heard from the sheriff, still 100 people unaccounted for, but we should expect that number to fluctuate as people were discovered in shelters and perhaps even bodies, more bodies are discovered here in the devastation - Fred.

WHITFIELD: Absolute horrifying.

All right, Nick Valencia, thank you so much for that.

All right. Still ahead, live pictures right now out of Broward County as they recount votes in Florida. Tensions are very high across the state as ballots are being carefully viewed in the heated races for governor and the U.S. Senate. Next.

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[14:30:34] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Happening right now for the first time in Florida history, the process of recounting ballots in all 67 counties is under way in Florida. This is a live look inside the Broward County supervisor of elections office where machine recounting is happening right now. County election officials across the state now have until 3:00 p.m. Thursday to get it all done.

Not only is a large gathering of media watching the recount but observers for each candidate are being allowed in the election room to watch the counting.

Let's get to the very latest now from CNN's Ryan Nobles who is in Tallahassee for us - Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. By an example, Fred, Rick Scott's campaign tells us that they have 7500 volunteers prepared to be a part of this observation process as that recounting begins. And while we wait for those second round of returns to come in, we are now hearing a back and forth war of words between both campaigns as they accuse one or the other of trying to take this recount process.

Governor Rick Scott himself on FOX News this morning. Listen to what he said about Bill Nelson's role in all of this. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Bill Nelson is a sore loser. He has been in politics way too long, 42 years. He just won't give up. And he is saying if you are not a citizen, your vote ought to count. He is saying that partial in ballots ought to count. That's wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: And so what Rick Scott was alluding to was a lawsuit that is pending right now in federal court here in Tallahassee that was filed by the Nelson campaign that deals with the signature match policy which is a law unique here to Florida.

And by an example, Bill Nelson's campaign tweeted this response to Rick Scott today. This is what the Nelson campaign said.

The state signature match policy that threw out thousands of votes in Florida prevented even a former U.S. congressman from voting.

And their quotes reading Patrick Murphy was a former congressman who put on his feed that his ballot was actually rejected because of the signature match. So Nelson campaign argues that these lawsuit is necessary so that votes that deserve to be counted actually get counted. And obviously Republicans feel differently about that.

Now, as to the counting, Fred, and I believe we have a live picture of what is happening in Broward County. Broward is one of the countries that we are watching most closely because it took them the longest to count the votes the first time around. And they have a history of having some issues I should say with counting. And so far Broward, while they are busy at work, they have yet to actually start the process of counting. Our Jerry Simon (ph) who is there reporting on this from Broward County says that they actually have to go through every single ballot that was cast on election day and separate out the pages that involve only the races that are being recounted. That's a lot of ballots. It is going to take them 30 to 35 hours to begin that and finish that process. So Fred, they haven't even started the recount yet for all intent of purposes there in Broward County.

WHITFIELD: So the process underway but really first, they have to do the sorting before the actual counting.

All right. Ryan Nobles, it is a big under taking we are seeing right there. Thank you so much.

All right. Coming up next, top Democrats pen a letter to the U.S. justice department, demanding acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker recuse himself. Why some are threatening a subpoena.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:38:23] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

Live pictures right now of a section of that Woolsey fire in southern California. And you see different angles here. You see, of course, the wind that is kicking up. The flame here are at this property, but if it ends up zooming in closer like we were able to see in the commercial break, you will see that there are hoses. There are people working really hard to try and contain that fire and keep it from jumping what appears to be like a fence just beyond the pool there, trying to protect that house as best they can.

But of course, you know by now in southern and northern California, hundreds of thousands of acres have burned, including thousands of properties. This is already proving to be a deadly fire in northern California. More than 20 dead.

And in southern California, the Woolsey fire there also lives have been claimed there. You see actively what firefighters, what teams are up against with the Santa Ana winds again kicking up there in California, proving to be a horrible situation for all those on the ground.

We will continue to keep a close watch of the developments in northern and southern California.

Meantime to politics now, Senator Chuck Schumer and likely incoming chairman of the House judiciary committee congressman Jerrold Nadler have serious question about Trump's recent appointment of acting U.S. attorney general Matt Whitaker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: I am sending a letter along with leader Pelosi and some of the other Democrats who are ranking members of their committees in both the House to the chief ethics officer of the justice department asking him to issue guidelines should Whitaker recuse himself from anything involving Mueller. He issued guidelines like that with Jeff Sessions. And Jeff Sessions recused himself.

[14:40:16] REP. JEROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: After January 3rd, we will subpoena or we will summon, if necessary, subpoena Mr. Whitaker.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And what are will you ask Mr. Whitaker?

NADLER: The questions we will ask him will be about his expressed hostility to the investigation and how he can possibly supervise it when he has expressed that - when he has come out and said that the investigation is invalid, that there was (INAUDIBLE) the findings of every intelligence agency, there was no Russian interference on our election when he expressed ridiculous legal opinions that go against the foundations of American law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Now in that letter sent today, top House and Senate Democrats also wrote "Mr. Whitaker has a history of hostile statements towards special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation including televised statements suggesting that the investigation be defunded or subjected to strict limitations on its scope," end quote.

I want to bring in now congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. Good to see you. He is a Democrat from Illinois and a member of the House oversight committee.

So, is it your feeling that the Russia investigation is in danger now that Matt Whitaker has become the acting U.S. attorney general?

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D), ILLINOIS: Well, thank you for having me on, Fredricka. I am very concerned about the appointment of Mr. Whitaker. He has expressed a number of prejudicial statements against the Mueller investigation. And now he would be overseeing it. And so, I think a number of us are very concerned about his appointment.

WHITFIELD: And Senator Schumer, you know, also suggested that in a protection of the Russia investigation could be tied up to must pass legislation such as a spending bill. Would you support something like that?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I hope it doesn't come to that. I think the one thing that the Trump administration needs to know or recognize right now that the American people want this investigation to continue unimpeded. Obviously, now that the Democrats are going to be in the majority in the House, they have a number of tools at their disposal including the subpoena power and other tools to continue this investigation, including taking up the investigation in the House if the Mueller investigation is prematurely ended.

So I hope it doesn't come to any kind of spending showdown in December. I hope that we can avoid that and continue the investigation unimpeded.

WHITFIELD: OK. Republican senator Lindsey Graham was on CBS earlier today and he actually said that he is scheduled to meet with Whitaker next week and this is also what he said about the question of recusal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You don't recuse somebody because their opinion is different than the people they are overseeing. Trustily, there is politics abounds when it comes to the Mueller investigation that Trump is guilty no matter what Mueller finds. But the bottom line here is that Mr. Mueller will be allowed to do his job without political interference by Mr. Whitaker. Mr. Whitaker I think is legally qualified and otherwise qualified to oversee this investigation until a new attorney general would be a pointed. And I think that will happen early next year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So Graham seems very confident that the Mueller probe will be uninterrupted with Whitaker in that seat. Do you feel that confident?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I can't say I share that confidence, I hope that he is right. But you know, first of all, Mr. Whitaker has expressed his opposition to this investigation several times. And I think with regard to whether or not he should be the acting attorney general, there is a constitutional challenge that he has to come to terms with. He is not a Senate-confirmed officer of the justice department unlike Rod Rosenstein who would otherwise become the acting attorney general. Obviously, the President side stepped appointing Mr. Rosenstein in favor of Mr. Whitaker. And I think he did so because of Mr. Whitaker's prejudicial statements against the investigation.

So I wish I shared Senator Graham's confidence, but right now we are just going to have to very carefully scrutinize Mr. Whitaker's next actions with regard to Mr. Mueller.

WHITFIELD: And is there anything that you can do, you know, as a congressional body, in which to shorten his potential length of time as, you know, an acting attorney general given the fact that he doesn't have the Senate, you know, confirmation?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, as you know, there is some talk about a lawsuit and so forth, challenging the constitutionality of his appointment. And that is certainly something that people are strongly considering. I personally hope that the President nominates someone to be the permanent attorney general and that his temporary appointment of Mr. Whitaker is just that, temporary, because he should not be there right now.

[14:45:24] WHITFIELD: All right. Congressman Krishnamoorthi, always good to see. Thank you so much.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you. Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: We got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

But first, tonight is the final episode of "PARTS UNKNOWN" with a personal tour of Anthony Bourdain's lower east side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN: In the New York City of the 70s, nearly bankrupt and riddled with corruption, the lowery side particularly Alphabet City was left to fend for itself. Huge swaths had been abandoned, ruined, were simply empty. Much of it became an open air supermarket for drugs. Whole blocks taken over by organized drug gangs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: See Anthony's final episode tonight at 9:00 only here on CNN.

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[14:50:54] WHITFIELD: As women around the country fight for their rights, they may have the upper hand when it comes to one issue, child custody.

On tonight's episode of "THIS IS LIFE," Lisa Ling talks to fathers fighting to play a more active in their children's lives.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.

LISA LING, CNN HOST, THIS IS LIFE (voice-over): Justin only sees his son every other weekend and Wednesdays.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You like that corn bread?

LING: So his family has to make every moment count.

What are does your son mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He means everything. Come on. You know how to get down. Come on. It's going to be all right. It's all right.

I really love this dude. I would do anything for him. I would die for him. I find out what love is with my son. Say bye-bye, everybody.

LING: It was a pleasure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say bye-bye, everybody.

LING: But part of loving his son means giving him back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give papa kiss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say bye-bye?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye-bye. All right, come on.

LING: Across town, there is a mother who loves Justin's son as much as he does. And another family waiting for him.

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WHITFIELD: Lisa Ling joining us right now.

It really is so heartbreaking. You know, you talk to so many fathers. I mean, what are the obstacles that many of them are sharing with you?

LING: Well, Fred, you know, the divorce rate in this country hovers at about 50 percent. And very often divorces become incredibly contentious. And when it reaches the courts and lawyers get involved, it can get pretty messy. And in most cases when there is no abuse involved, about 80 percent of the time the mothers get custody of the children. And what that often means for men or for fathers is they get to see their child every other weekend and one day a week.

And what happens in many cases is they become alienated from their children. Again, there is bad blood between the mother and the father and the kids don't really understand why dad isn't around that much. And so, it can have a pretty devastating impact on a father. And this episode is really exploring how it affects the children too when this happens when they don't have access or nearly enough access to one of the parents. WHITFIELD: Right. Because I mean, the hardships are great, you know,

for the parents. And I think everybody understand but then for the kids. And it ranges, right, the hardships are going to range depending on the age of the kids and their level of understanding or lack thereof.

LING: That's right. I talked to a number of father who said that their children stopped talking to them because they just don't understand why they are not there. And because of the soured relationship between the mother and father. The mothers are not as communicative with their kids about the reality of what's going on.

WHITFIELD: All right. It's a tough thing, but real life. Tune in, pf course, with Lisa. "THIS IS LIFE" with Lisa ling airs tonight. Good to see you, Liza. After "PARTS UNKNOWN," only on CNN.

All right. Still to come, tragedy in California. At least 23 people are dead as the state is engulfed in an inferno, multiple infernos. Now President Trump is threatening to pull federal aid from the state. How state leaders are responding.

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ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kevin Yu suffered for years with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a condition marked by stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, or alternating between both.

KEVIN YU, SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER: The only times that I really felt was either when I was sleeping or sleeping in the toilet.

COHEN: Yu went to GI doctors who tired traditional treatments from over the counter drugs to diet changes. Nothing works.

YU: My doctors tell me, Kevin, we want to try something new with you.

COHEN: They sent him to a psychiatrist who prescribe an anti- depressant. Then he started seeing a health psychology who diagnosed him with anxiety disorder and depression.

[14:55:04] YU: She actually helped me realize that the stomach was not the source of my problems. I was under a tremendous amount of stress.

COHEN: After six weeks of talk therapy that included deep breathing and meditation, Kevin says his symptoms were virtually gone.

YU: One of the biggest takeaways was how you carry your anxiety and how you carry your stress.

LAURIE KEEFER, HEALTH PSYCHOLOGIST, MT, SANAI SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: We have a lot of nerves in our guts that are messaging the brain about what's happening.

COHEN: Studies have found that mental health therapy has helped thousands of patients recover from IBS. KEEFER: They learn to think in ways that were more helpful and less

worrisome. They are really working on solving problems in a more flexible way.

YU: My psychiatrist and psychology helped give me my life back.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, reporting.

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