Return to Transcripts main page
Flames Rip Through New Areas Of Southern California, Death Toll From California Fires Now 25; Macron Rebukes Nationalism As Trump Observes Armistice Day; President Trump Marks 100 Years Since End Of World War I; W.H. Explains Trump's Cancellation Of Cemetery Trip After Backlash "Due To Logistical Difficulties Caused By Weather; Recount Underway In Florida Senate And Governor Races; Rick Scott Campaign To File Election Related Lawsuits In Florida; Trump Wildfire Tweet Triggers Backlash. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired November 11, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:32] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again everyone and thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin with this breaking news.
Right now, wildfires across California are growing rapidly. Take a look at these pictures taken just moments ago of the latest area of Ventura County to get hit by the Woolsey fire. And you can see flames creeping up the hillside there. It is one of three wildfires raging across the state.
You can see also people were trying to put out that fire to keep it from jumping the fence and then, you know, threatening those homes there. And this just in, the death toll now stands at 25, more than 100 others is reported missing. And nearly 300,000 Californians forced to pack up and flee.
Our teams are across the state this afternoon following all of the latest developments. Let's begin in Northern California. CNN Correspondent Nick Valencia is in the city of Paradise where the devastation is heartbreaking. Nick?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, this is known as the Camp Fires that already burned 109,000 acres and its spread by 6,000 acres overnight. That may sound like a lot, but it's not exactly what was anticipated by those that are fighting the fires, especially when you consider that there's a red flag warping in effect, 50-mile per hour wind gusts, making conditions very ripe for fire to spread.
We're just seeing these absolutely phenomenal, incredible images here. This is one of the main thoroughfares out of Paradise. This is Skyway. If you're familiar with this area, you know just how jam packed it was on Thursday when that fire broke out.
I want you to walk with me a little bit here and I want to show you some of the things that are just so jaw dropping here. This is a piece of aluminum from one of these cars that was abandoned, the aftermath of that gridlock.
We just had a quick check here, producer Tristan Smith, 1200 degrees Fahrenheit it takes to melt aluminum. This is some of the stuffs that left behind. These cars are just unrecognizable, Fredricka. The windshield has melted into the steering wheel.
This has already been the most destructive fire in California state history, the third deadliest. 23 lives have perished as a result of this fire, 19 of them here in Paradise, four in neighboring Concow.
And last night at the sheriff's office, they did give an update and they said 100 people are still unaccounted for. What they tell us so is that we should expect that number to fluctuate a little bit as they discover family members perhaps made contact with love ones that are in shelters or others are discovered.
They're, of course, still canvassing this area, some of it is still on fire. It is a little bit more east of us now. I mentioned that it did spread by about 6,000 acres. They're hoping to get this thing contained, but right now it is only 25 percent contained and from the looks of it, still continuing to spread. Fred?
WHITFIELD: And then, of course, winds are a continued threat as they are picking up this afternoon?
WHITFIELD: All right, Nick Valencia --
VALENCIA: Absolutely, 50-mile per hour wind gusts, yes.
VALENCIA: 50-mile per hour wind gust, Fred. I mentioned those red flag warnings, it's going to be very difficult, create very difficult conditions for firefighters.
WHITFIELD: All right. Nick Valencia, thank you so much in Paradise.
Meanwhile, this massive inferno that's taking place in Malibu, it too is scorching homes, some of them belonging to Hollywood's biggest stars. Celebrity is pleading to social media, in fact, to tell about their stories and voice their support for others.
A video from Lady Gaga and Caitlyn Jenner showing smoke billowing above their home. And then take a look at this picture posted by actor Orlando Bloom. You can see the flames consuming the hills above his street and others like singer Pink and actress Alyssa Milano taking to Twitter to offer their thanks to the first responders. And actor James Woods has also been tweeting out updates and reports of those still missing.
Let's go to Malibu where we find our Scott McLean there. So many neighborhood homes, you know, are really disintegrated. I mean, there's nothing left except sometimes the framework and maybe even the footprint. Tell us tonight -- tell us what officials are telling you.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fredricka. It's strange to see because, you know, you'll have a couple of row of houses, maybe two or three houses that are completely untouched and then you have a couple others that look like this, that are absolutely destroyed, really unrecognizable.
You can see some steel framing in the chimney, but beyond that, there's really nothing here to look at. You can imagine how beautiful of a property this would have been and how great of a view you can -- you would have had. Right now we can see all the way through what would have been the house. The other side of this canyon, you can see it's already scorched up the hill yet those condos or those houses on the other side, they are still untouched.
[15:05:06] We talked to some people who live over there, they're actually trying to put out whatever hot spots or smoldering areas there are with shovels and buckets, things like that, to prevent this from spreading.
Yesterday was a good day for firefighters. They managed to get this fire about 10 percent contained. It is going to be a difficult couple of days, though, now that the wind has returned and it's going to stay this way until Tuesday.
Now, this area is under evacuation orders. There's hardly a person in this area. It's very difficult to get through the roadblocks and there's a lot of hazards, like this tree that, you know, partially burned and manages to -- managed to fall just in the last day or so. Authorities they say, look, even though there may not be fire in your area, there are other threats just like this one. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSE GABRIEL, MEMBER OF CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY: There are numerous serious hazards that are not evident to regular folks, that are only evident to professionals whether it's downed power lines, hot spots that can reignite very quickly with the winds, trees that are burned on the inside that are at risk of falling over and causing serious harms. If you are under mandatory evacuation, please evacuate, please stay away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLEAN: And Fredricka, you can see, you know, some of these smoldering areas there that sort of reignite us as the wind starts to come up. Obviously here, there's not much left to burn, but in other areas that may not be the case and, of course, that's the worry, and you can see it right through to the Pacific Ocean and just on the other side of Zuma Beach.
And so you can imagine just how beautiful of an area this is and how beautiful of these properties it is, really Mother Nature doesn't care how much money you make or what your house looks like. It has decided which houses it's going to take and which ones it's going to leave. As I mentioned, wind gusts 40 to 50 miles per hour expected right through to Tuesday. That is going to be making efforts very difficult in this area, Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Always horrible. And Scott, you mentioned Zuma Beach, I mean traditionally that's a, you know, place where people exercise. They're, you know, swimming. They're enjoying a beautiful beach there. I have been there and spent time there as well, but then I understand now it's also being used kind of as a refuge for so many people who have horses, you know, and livestock and now they are using that beach as, you know, a safe spot for their animals.
MCLEAN: Yes. We haven't had a chance to get down there, Fredricka, but, you know, there are very few places in this area where people can kind of come together. I met one person actually who used to live at the house next door, which is also completely destroyed, she owns a business, a restaurant, and she said that she's really the only business in this area that has opened actually to feed people food and feed the first responders and whatever residents are still here because, as I said, the evacuation area is absolutely massive.
There's not a lot of centralized areas, there's hardly any people. In fact, we've barely been able to find any homeowners because those homeowners, they haven't been able to get homes to actually see this. And so there's hardly a person in this area.
Authorities are also warning, hey, looting will not be tolerated. They will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, so they're on the look out for that. But obviously the main focus at this point is trying to keep people out of this area and also watching that fire and making sure that it doesn't flair up again, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Yes, horrible situation for so many involves. Scott McLean, thank you so much.
So, firefighters, will they be receiving any help from the weather in the coming days? For that, let's turn to meteorologist, Tom Sater. So, Tom, they're really up against it. You know, they are working really hard to do what they can, but the Santa Ana winds, well, that's the root of some of the problems, right?
TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. We've got a world of problems, Fredricka. I mean, number one is we haven't had rain in a month. Typically October and the first two weeks of November we would see five, six, maybe isolated seven inch totals, but we haven't had any.
And it looks like the strong winds we had last Thursday that started this mess could return. In fact, we're going to see some improvements to the south today and then maybe tomorrow up to the north. So, again, red flag warnings almost all of California. Winds have been shifting around a little bit, but they're going to start moving in from the mountains again.
Camp Fire to the north, we're going to break this down, 109,000 acres. At one point on Thursday it was scorching over eight football fields a minute. This is the plume what we had on Thursday, pretty much offshore driving that, of course, that fire towards the sea -- the ocean, but then the wind shifted and now look at the smoke across all of California. San Francisco, San Jose, down to Fresno, air quality is just terrible, it's off the charts.
This is our area of concern. Paradise is right in the middle. Here is our burn scar right now or the problems. Here's Chico. And you can see where our hot spots are. If we take our hot spots, you can actually take a look at the flight patterns the takers have been hitting so that northern flank up around to the north down to the south.
Now, this is Oroville. Remember, we had a story in Oroville Dam with the flooding that's a couple of years ago. Flooding is not a concern, they're trying to beat that and chop that off before it gets down to the south. Camp Fire, most destructive in history, beating out just last year's Tubbs Fire for the most destructive.
[15:10:00] But the interesting things to note are all the years, from 2015, 2017, 2018 now, this is not a good trend where we're seeing an extended wildfire season in California.
Down to the south, Woolsey Fire 83,000 acres are now scorched. This is the one, of course, with the pictures of them dropping the return (ph) down on Malibu, trying to protect that area as the surge of other fires have been heading towards, of course, the coastline.
But also on the southern flank, you've got area such as Hidden Hills. Tens of thousands of homes are threatened with this fire and, again, only 10 percent containment as opposed to the north.
Here is the plume on Friday -- Thursday and you get into, of course, over the weekend, that smoke as well has been moving inland. So when we look at our problems, I think we'll see some lighter winds to the south, some such as Malibu, but we're still under extreme threat here and a critical to the north tomorrow vanishes. So we get a little improvement for, of course, the Camp Fire up to the north.
But after tomorrow, it looks like the conditions may reverse and get just as bad as they were on Thursday when this whole mess started, so it's not going to be good and that may continue into Wednesday or even Thursday.
WHITFIELD: That's terrible. All right, Tom Sater, thank you.
All right, still ahead, two world leaders with very different messages. French President Emmanuel Macron dismisses nationalism as President Trump touts America first. Does this rebuke signal a frayed relationship -- friendship between the two nations.
And later, with recounts underway in Florida, some are already crying foul and turning to the courts, so what's really happening? We'll check in, coming up.
[15:15:47] WHITFIELD: All right, right now, President Trump is traveling back to the U.S. from France after a tense 48 hours. The tension overshadowing remembering ceremonies to mark 100 years since the end of World War I. French President Emmanuel Macron led the commemorations and took a swipe at President Trump's nationalist America first talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translation): Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying our interest first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential, its moral values.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Later, President Trump spoke at an American cemetery where American soldiers from World War I and World War II are buried. Instead of addressing Macron's nationalism dig, Trump focused on the fallen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Exactly 100 years ago today on November 11th, 1918 World War I came to an end, thank God. It was a brutal war. Millions of American-French and allied troops have fought with extraordinary skill and valor in one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history. We are gathered together at this hallowed resting place to pay tribute to the brave Americans who gave their last breath in that mighty struggle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Yesterday after cancelling a planned wreath-laying at another American cemetery roughly 50 miles outside of Paris because of what the White House called logistical difficulties caused by weather, vociferous backlash.
The grandson of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who is 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 his respects to the fallen?"
CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is in Paris with what this means for the relationship between Trump and Macron.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is on his way back to Washington after receiving something of a lecture from the French President Emmanuel Macron at the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I here in Paris. President Macron said that nationalism is the opposite of patriotism and what seemed like a stinging rebuke of President Trump's politics. Here's more of what Macron had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MACRON (through translation): 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 its sinister course once again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Later on today, the President paid a visit to U.S. Military cemetery to remember American soldiers who died in World War I. President made the trip despite the heavy rain in Paris, contrast that with the decision he made one day earlier when he scrapped a visit to a cemetery to remember U.S. soldiers.
That is a decision that was blasted on Twitter by the grandson of Winston Churchill who send out a tweet saying -- of a soldiers who died in World War I, "They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate Trump couldn't even defy the weather to pay his respects to the fallen?"
Jim Acosta, CNN, Paris.
WHITFIELD: All right, let's discuss this now. With me now is CNN National Security Analyst Samantha Vinograd. So, good to see you. What does this mean potentially? This, you know, maybe the bromance is over between, you know, Macron and Trump. They used to be so friendly and now this was a little chilly.
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Fred, I just have to say President Macron, he did what so many people before him have done, which is speak up against the root causes of violence in World War I and in modern times. We know that nationalism was one of the drivers of World War I. There were 40 million casualties in that war. We also know today that nationalism is resurgent in the United States.
[15:20:00] We've seen horrible hate crimes here and political and violence. And we know that the President has really picked sides. He said that a nationalist leader in Italy, the new prime minister, is whom he feels closest to. He's praised the leaders appalling in Hungary, who are nationalists as well. He even praised Macron's biggest opponent, Marine Le Pen, who represents the Nationalist Party in France. So I am glad that Macron was able to stand up to nationalists all around the world, including President Trump.
WHITFIELD: And Macron has also, you know, brought up the issue of a European force to contribute to NATO. But this is what the President tweeted, you know, when he was on Air Force One just before a landing, you know, in Paris, saying, "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." And then not long after that tweet, the spokesperson for Macron said there's a misunderstanding. What's going on here?
VINOGRAD: Well, first off, the President is again saying that the United States should be repaid for NATO spending when in fact the United States overspends its NATO commitment, which is 2 percent of our GDP, by choice because we have a variety of security concerns around the world that require enhanced defense expenditures.
The part of the President's tweet and Macron's remarks that is most troublesome to me is not the misunderstanding by President Trump on how NATO works, it's that Macron is putting the United States in the same bucket as China and Russia.
Russia is a country that invaded Ukraine, parts of Ukraine. Russia used chemical weapons on European soil, but Macron seems to be putting us on a level playing field with them, which is a deep cause for concern for me.
WHITFIELD: So this was self-inflicted then for Macron?
VINOGRAD: I don't think it was self-inflicted. I think that Macron was speaking about the need to bolster European defenses in light of a variety of threats. And typically leaders, perhaps not our own, make statements that benefit their national security rather than worry about what a personal reaction might be.
He knew that this would get most likely a reaction from President Trump just like he probably knew that making these claims about nationalism might get a reaction from President Trump. But that isn't holding him back anymore and I think that's actually a smart move when he thinks about his strategic interest.
WHITFIELD: Sam Vinograd, good to see you. Thank you so much.
All right, coming up, the contentious Florida elections are in sharp focus as hundreds of thousands of votes are recounted. Here's a live look as poll workers painstakingly are going through, sorting through ballots. A live update, next.
[15:27:15] WHITFIELD: Happening right now, recounts are under way in Florida. This is a live look inside the Broward County Supervisor of Election's Office. And at this moment, the voting machines are separating ballots to begin the process of recounting there.
The vote totals for Florida governor and U.S. senate are less than half a percentage point, forcing this recount, this do-over. Also, it caused Democrat Andrew Gillum to withdraw his concession in the gubernatorial race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW GILLUM (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: So let me say clearly, I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every single vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Republican candidate Ron DeSantis argues that voters have already spoken and said he considers himself the governor-elect of Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: At noon today, supervisors of election 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Jessica Dean is in Broward County of -- and the recounting, the sorting, all of that is already under way. So, Jessica, you know, there's also sparking -- it's also spark a lot of back and forth, and it's not just inside of that building but outside as well.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fredricka. We're seeing a lot of back and forth between the candidates, between the people on both sides who are outside participating in this recount in the sense that they can watch and participate outside, but we're seeing a lot of back and forth.
The recount is under way here in Broward County. It is the recount process, really, because what's happening is a very tedious process. They're having to separate out these ballots as you mentioned. They're taking the pages off.
They think it's going to be 30 to 35 hours to take those first pages off and then begin the process of putting them through the machines. Meantime, outside there have been a lot of protesters on both sides trying to have their voices heard and they are back and forth between the candidates. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Scott is abusing the full force of his public office as governor to stop a complete and accurate counting of all the votes in Florida, which would determine whether he wins or loses.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: Bill Nelson is a sore loser. He's been in politics way too long, 42 years. He just won't give up. And he is saying if you're not a citizen, your vote ought to count. He's saying that fraudulent ballots ought to count. That's wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:30:02] DEAN: And so the deadline for all of this to happen is Thursday, as I said, a lot of back and forth. We've had a lot of protesters here outside. They are specifically targeting in on Brenda Snipes who is a supervisor of elections here in Broward County. There have been a lot of questions about competency, how quickly they have been able to count these votes, where the votes have been. There have been a lot of legitimate questions about that, but it is important to note that so far the Secretary of State, a Republican appointee and the Department of Law Enforcement say there has been no evidence of criminal activity for. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right, Jessica Dean, thank you so much.
Let's talk further on this. Kendall Coffey is with me. He is a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Also with me is Steve Bousquet who is the Tallahassee Bureau Chief for the Tampa Bay Times. Good to see both of you.
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Thanks Fred.
STEVE BOUSQUET, TALLAHASSEE BUREAU CHIEF, TAMPA BAY TIMES: Good afternoon.
WHITFIELD: All right to Steve, let me begin with you. You know, will this recount solidify clarity or potentially lead to new disputes?
BOUSQUET: The way the numbers look in the senate race, Fredricka, it's going to go into a manual recount for sure. Now, Rick Scott has a lead. It is a much of a lead, but Rick Scott has been leading all the way. The lead has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller and, you know --
BOUSQUET: That's right. And so what is this machine recount all about? It's basically this. Those machines separate out votes, ballots that are -- that have under votes, over votes, write in choices and what supervisors tell me are ambiguous marks. That is a mark on the ballot that made the machine reject the ballot perhaps. So there's going to be thousands and thousands of those ballots that beginning on Thursday will be then part of the manual recount.
WHITFIELD: And these methods were still electronic voting machines, right? We're not talking about, you know, manual punching of holes and all that like we saw in 2000?
BOUSQUET: No. You know, Florida long ago got rid of punch card voting and went to touch screens and discarded touch screens and went to optical scan voting. And the good thing about optical scan voting is -- the good news is there's a paper trail. There's a ballot for everybody who showed up to vote or who mailed in a ballot.
However, when you get to these large numbers of over votes, there are going to be judgment calls by canvassing boards all over the state in terms of deciding whether this was a voter who intended to vote for Rick Scott or intended to vote for Nelson.
WHITFIELD: So then, Kendall, this is Florida law, right? When you've got a race where there is, you know, a half of percentage point or less difference between the candidates, there is an automatic recount.
And if that's the case, if that is law, then what can help justify any kind of legal disputes here? At the same time, you know, among the legal disputes that been filed from the Governor himself. And so could he stop this recount? So, two questions there.
COFFEY: Well, he can stop the recount, although it's unfortunate that Republicans are trying so hard to discredit it. As you pointed out, this is automatic. There are specific standards that were created by the Florida legislature, Republican-controlled legislature, and they have standards for doing a manual recount which seems inevitable in two of the races, and those are also standards that are written out, appear in image form for recounting that were done by Republican administrators.
So, this is open and shut. There is no election finally decided among these three when elections are too close to call Florida mandates that this recount process be undertaken. So at least from 18 years ago, we now have a clear path to a statewide recount and the machine count is going to happen, manual recount will almost assuredly happen in at least two to three races.
WHITFIELD: The deadline for this recount by machine is Thursday. And then, yes, it can potentially go to the manual then. So there are a lot of politicians who've been weighing in, including the President, you know, who's called this a fraud. And here is what Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had to say today, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: Saying its going too slowly is one thing. Saying you have concerns about how legitimate the count is another because as you just said, no one has said there's any fraud here and the paramount issue here, the paramount issue is having every vote counted, even if it takes a little longer. We should not be rushed into doing this, particularly in an election that is so darn close.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Steve, you know, this whole process and the things that people are saying on all sides, is it at all rattling the confidence of voters?
BOUSQUET: Yes, it is, especially voters who lived through 2000. It's unfortunate because I talked to the supervisors of election of the state every day, election after election and they are very conscientious people who want every valid vote to count in every election and they want everybody voting.
[15:35:04] You know, this situation with Brenda Snipes and Rick Scott, I want to say this, and that is that Rick Scott has -- Brenda Snipes' confidence is certainly open to question, seriously, and her track record speaks for itself. But Rick Scott is the Chief Executive Officer of Florida and he has the power to suspend Brenda Snipes from office for incompetence and neglect of duty.
I've seen overnight. I've seen people like Congressman Matt Gaetz calling for Rick Scott to suspend Brenda Snipes. He has not done so. To do so now in the middle of a machine recount would be extremely problematic and very disruptive.
But I've talked over Tim Canova who's a former congressional candidate in South Florida said he asked Rick Scott to suspend Snipes months ago and Scott did not do so. So, when Rick Scott is going to make allegation of rampant fraud, I think he ought to back that up with factual evidence or he ought to suspend Snipes from office.
WHITFIELD: And, you know, all of us lived this, you know, in 2000. I was covering it. Steve, you were covering it, you know. And, Kendall, you were on the law enforcement that ended all of it. And because of all of it that took place in 2000, one would think that people would feel a lot more confident about the process. So, Kendall, in your view, what has happened?
COFFEY: Well, what's happened is we have a much better process than we did 18 years ago when I was a member of Gore-Lieberman team, but we also have politics. And it's striking to me that there is so much resistance coming from the Republican side when they want to be saying at the same time its game over.
So what we are seeing is instead of a calm confidence of a victory lap, we are seeing angry anxiety, which tells me that at least one or more of the Republican candidates is convinced that at the end of this they are not going to be ahead. And that's one of the things that fuels Nelson's confidence and that's one of the realities that recount is necessary to determine.
WHITFIELD: All right, Kendall Coffey, Steve Bousquet, good to see you both. Appreciate it.
All right, still ahead, at least 23 dead as wildfires rage across parts of California. President Trump is blaming poor forest management. Firefighters on the ground are telling the President that he is flat out wrong. We'll talk to one of the firefighters after this.
[15:41:57] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. We're following breaking news out of Florida. Florida Governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott and his campaign are preparing legal action on the Florida recount under way right now. Let's bring in CNN's Ryan Nobles. Ryan, tell us more.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Fred. We just received this information that Rick Scott and his campaign have filed three different lawsuits in both Broward and Palm Beach County related to the recount. And the first one is significant, well they're are all significant, but this one is particularly significant because they are accusing the supervisor of elections there, Brenda Snipes, of counting ballots after the noon deadline and that is against Florida law according to this lawsuit. And they are asking that a judge look into whether or not that happened.
The second round of lawsuits, these are two separate lawsuits, one in Palm Beach County, the other one in Broward County, they are asking that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and local sheriffs impound and preserve all of the voting equipment and the ballots in both of those counties after the recount is finished. So those are two significant developments.
And, Fred, I should point out that Bill Nelson's lawyer, Marc Elias, who has been handling the recount on his behalf, has only already responded to these lawsuits. He described them as such. He said that Governor Scott's campaign has now sued to invalidate lawful ballots counted yesterday in Broward County. He describes it as stunning.
This is an example of how we're going to see this continued back and forth, not only a war of words in a public relations, but also a legal battle that's going to play out in the courtroom here at this lengthy and in-depth recount that's going to take place here in Florida. Fred?
WHITFIELD: So, Ryan, does it mean these lawsuits filed though, it doesn't interrupt the recount right now. The deadline is Thursday. But in what way does it invalidate or disrupt the recount that is under way?
NOBLES: Right, great question, Fred. This shouldn't impact the ongoing recount as it currently stands. They're not going to ask for the machines to be impounded until after the recount is completed. What the Scott complain -- Scott campaign is arguing here is that there is a small number of ballots that they believe were counted after the deadline.
They will set those ballots aside if a judge asks them to. But at this point, it shouldn't impact the counting of ballots. And keep in mind, Fred, we're still waiting for Broward to officially begin counting again. That hasn't even started yet. There is no reason that this should impact it, but I offer up a caveat every single time we're talking about Florida recount because we do need to see how these whole situation plays out.
WHITFIELD: Right. So on Broward County right now, we understand that they're sorting before they actually start their machine counting. When you talk about that noon deadline, we're talking about the Saturday noon deadline to get those numbers in before they can actually do the recounting which is under way right now. I know it's really confusing, but we're trying really hard, you know, to offer some clarity for folks.
NOBLES: Lots of ballots to be counted, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Ryan, you're doing awesome.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. Appreciate it. All right, we'll be right back.
[15:49:18] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The death toll in the California wildfires is now 25 with more than 100 missing. President Trump weighing in on the fires yesterday, tweeting out, "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forest. Remedy now or no more Fed payments."
And this one was a day -- was earlier as well saying, "With proper forest management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get smart." That from the President of the United States while these fires burn, people lose their homes, lives lost.
[15:50:03] So these tweets are provoking a strong response from firefighter groups, including the Pasadena Fire Fighters Association, which said, quoting now, "Mr. President, with all due respect, you are wrong. The fires in So. Cal are urban interface fires and have nothing to do with forest management. Come to SoCal and learn the facts and help the victims."
Scott Austin, President of the Pasadena Fire Fighters Association joining me right now. Mr. Austin, good to see you. First of all, we know that people of California, really across this country, are especially grateful for the worked being done and the sacrifice being made to help save lives and try to put out these fires. So, you know, big heartfelt thanks going out to all of you. So what are your feelings when you see these tweets from the President?
SCOTT AUSTIN, PRESIDENT, PASADENA FIRE FIGHTERS ASSOCIATION: Well, good afternoon, Fredricka, and thank you for the opportunity to share this with you.
Yesterday morning, we woke up, saw the President's tweet, and felt like there needed to be a correction of facts. The fact is that the fires in Southern California and Northern California where the urban inner face basically fires that are starting in the urban, suburban areas burning in lighter fuels, I know I'd be too technical for your viewers, and would have rapid growth. And we literally had 250,000 residents in Southern California flee for their lives.
We have two losses of lives in California -- or Southern California and 23 right now. And we really need partnership with the federal government and we need their help and we need a president that's going to stand up and work with us. And I really want to ask him to come to California and his team to learn and know what we're faced with here.
We have thousands of firefighters out there and our law enforcement partners as well putting their lives on the lines for our residents, so that necessity of that tweet.
WHITFIELD: You said you'd prefer some partnership. Right now, you know, what -- how would that partnership assist in what you're up against?
AUSTIN: Many of our local agencies for, Fredricka, are understaffed, under funded, and in some cases they have lack the necessary equipment and what we need here -- we have a large state. And as you see, this large does -- these large fires devastate large amounts of areas that over multi-jurisdictional areas.
And we need the federal government to partner us up on a daily basis, not just on these disasters, to provide the proper resources, funding for the proper amount of firefighters, funding for the proper amount of fire equipment.
And likewise, when firefighters are sent, I think we have upwards of 3,500 to 4,000 firefighters in Southern California firefighters. We have to fill behind these firefighters in their own jurisdictions because there -- the calls go on daily. So we need the federal government to partner with us.
They've literally have 60 percent of the federal land in California, the forest area. And another third of that that is under private ownership and basically about 3 percent to 4 percent are the state and local agencies.
So we're covering their areas and we just like to have them come out, get educated, and understand our needs here. We have a large population. And we would love to partner up, have them come and learn so they can send the necessary economic and assets to Southern California.
WHITFIELD: And hopefully that will help in the future.
WHITFIELD: But right now the need is very immediate. I know you could use all the resources --
WHITFIELD: -- and support possible, particularly as the fires continue to grow today. Scott Austin, thank you so much.
AUSTIN: Thank you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
[15:58:17] WHITFIELD: Tonight, CNN invites you to join us for the final episode of "Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three, four.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, PARTS UNKNOWN, HOST: I like -- most of our shows are about places and this show is about a place, Lower East Side of Manhattan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, you have to remember, 1988, you couldn't close a 10.5 acre square park in Lower East Side. Now with 450 right cops' forces -- they couldn't do it.
BOURDAIN: Really it's about a bunch of extraordinary people. You had a plan, yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, if we had a plan, we would have made more money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I always had a cue ball and a sock in my pocket. I'd split your head open quicker that you could see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody cared what we were doing. We were just left to our own devices.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came together. I saw Camber (ph) this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, she's like my daughter.
BOURDAIN: Say something out of extraordinary time. So do you have any sense of flawless so we could --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Those were the bad old days, baby.
BOURDAIN: Under extraordinary circumstances --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's insane and it's sick and it's wrong and I don't mean we want to complain about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You complain --
BOURDAIN: I'm complaining about it. Yeah, I am bitter and did extraordinary things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The New York Times" called it the cinematic equivalent of kindergarten scribbling.
BOURDAIN: In New York City.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The final episode of "Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown" airing tonight, 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happening now in the Newsroom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just can't believe it. It really looks like a war zone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: California in flames.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A whole town was wiped off the face of the earth in a matter of eight hours.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The death toll now in the double digits.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just never anticipated having to evacuate all zones all at the same time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With winds now picking up, there is no sign of relief any time soon.
Plus a dire warning to President Trump --