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Deadly Fires; Impaired Air Traffic Controller?; Florida Recount; Trump Targets Puerto Rican Aid Money. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 12, 2018 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: They were triggered by law because of the margin of voters between the winner and the loser being less than 0.5 percent.

And as Florida election workers are working round the clock to recount these ballots, the lawsuits and the insults, they are flying between Republicans and Democrats.

I want to play a clip for you. This is the two vying for Senate, the incumbent Democrat, Bill Nelson, and Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott.


SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Rick Scott isn't interested in making sure every lawful vote is counted. And the second is that he's using his power as governor to try to undermine the voting process.

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: what Bill Nelson needs to do now is what he would be asking me to do if I had -- if I had lost the election, is say, look the election happened, let's go forward. But he's not. He's just a pure sore loser trying to steal an election.


BALDWIN: Plus, there's this tweet from the president accusing Florida election staffers of missing or forged ballot, and it ends with this -- quote -- "An honest vote count is no longer possible. Ballots massively infected. Must go with election night!"

Moments ago, a former Trump rival and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush just said this about the election official he appointed -- quote -- "There is no question that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes failed to comply with Florida law on multiple counts, undermining Floridians' confidence in our electoral process. Supervisor Snipes should be removed from her office following the recounts."

So let's go straight to our CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston.

And, Mark, what is the deadline, the absolute deadline to get all these votes counted?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, right now we're, looking at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, as we have been reporting, and Ryan Nobles has been reporting from Tallahassee, 3:00 p.m., 67 counties and Florida, 8.5 million votes have to be recounted.

Now, in one county, in Palm Beach County, they said that they will be able to get to that deadline. However, they will only be able to get to the deadline on the Senate race. So if you're in the agriculture commissioner's race or you are in that governor's race, you have got to be looking and wondering why Palm Beach County can't get their act together.

So what happens? So the deadline is 3:00 p.m.If they can't --there's a hand recount that will be ordered if the margin in any of these races is less than 0.25 percent. Again, all these races are less than point 0.5 That's why we have a machine recount. After the machine recount, if it's less than 0.25 percent, that's when we start going into the hands.

And then what happens when we do that? Well, after we do that, this is it. The deadline again, 3:00, go to the hand recount. Here's the deal. The hand recount is only for the undervotes and the overvotes.

You got to wonder, what is the undervote? The undervote is voters who didn't pick someone for every race. And the overvoter is voters who chose more than one candidate.

Let's just talk deadlines. Thursday, deadline 3:00 p.m., unless a court comes in and overturns that. A court will be meeting Wednesday on a separate issue, having to do with provisional ballots as well. They will meet in Tallahassee, a federal court.

And then, of course, on Friday, military ballots come in, overseas ballots come in, which go back to your tweet from the president earlier, Brooke, when he said no more accounting should happen. Very interesting that the president would say this right around Veterans Day. And you have veterans -- or rather active military serving overseas trying to get their votes back to Florida.

BALDWIN: I want to ask you, because we're also watching very closely the Senate race in Arizona. And it's interesting to me that, in Florida, where you have the Republicans are ahead, saying, stop counting the votes.

But, in Arizona, where Republicans are behind, they're like, whoa, whoa, keep counting.

PRESTON: Yes, well, because -- I mean, look, at this point right now, we have seen a different tack taken by Arizona Republicans. And that's because there's been a lot of pressure on Arizona Republicans amongst themselves.

The fact of the matter is, is that we have seen the Martha McSally campaign say move forward with the count and let's get this done correctly. And, of course, Kyrsten Sinema, who's benefiting -- or so far has benefited from the count, of course, likes to see that. We will have to see when that count eventually ends, when all the votes come in.

But right now Kyrsten Sinema has that lead, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Mark Preston, thank you very much.

We move to counting to California and wildfires, as these fires are hopscotching across both Northern and Southern California. The death toll has now risen to 31. And at least 100 others are still missing. New fires are breaking out today.

Dozens of firefighters and police officers and sheriff's deputies have lost their own homes and continue to fight these fires. By the way, those numbers are expected to grow. The fast-moving fires are giving people little warning and many are posting videos to show how terrifying their escapes from the flames has been.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK, mama. It's OK. Please, please drive. Just please drive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am. I'm trying. Oh, please God, please.



BALDWIN: Oh, my goodness.

Dan Simon is there in Paradise.

Dan, we see these videos. You hear these -- these -- you know, the cries. You're surrounded by flames. You're stuck in traffic. You want to get out. You talked to those two women. What did they say?



In fact, those two women actually live in this housing development where we are right now. Of course, they lost their home along with everybody else. But you really have to go back to Thursday morning, when all of this was unfolding. Everybody was trying to evacuate.

And there's really a -- you know, one main road that leads in and out of town. It's called Skyway. In fact, they call it Skyway to Paradise. And it was just filled bumper-to-bumper traffic, people frantically trying to leave, and then you had that mother and the daughter.

And here's what they told me about that experience.


AMBER TONEY, EVACUEE: I thought the windows were going to shatter because it was just so hot. And, I mean, everybody's trying to get out as fast as they can, but trying not to get in accidents.

SUSAN MILLER, EVACUEE: We had the air conditioner on high and it was still hot.

TONEY: Circulating.

MILLER: And you were praying the car in front of you wouldn't stop. It was -- I will have nightmares for the rest of my life. This was a bucket list I never wanted.


SIMON: Well, Brooke, like thousands of others, they are staying at hotels. Of course, thousands are you know, in evacuation shelters or staying with friends.

And those two ladies, they're just trying to figure out what's next. They don't know if they will actually come back and live here again. It's just one of those things.

You know, in terms of when residents are going to be allowed back in, it's going to be several weeks, at a minimum. And that's just to come back and just kind of pick through the rubble and see if you can find, you know, any belongings that you can salvage.

Who knows when people will actually be living here again. Keep in mind, the infrastructure was destroyed. You have all these power lines that -- that are down. So this is a monumental task that is in front of this community.

BALDWIN: The cleanup. We were just talking to the mayor of Paradise last hour. Dan, thank you for that.

Just these terrifying stories of survival, they are surfacing.

Nichole Jolly is a nurse at the hospital in Paradise. We're told her pants actually caught fire at one point during her escape, the car she was evacuating in engulfed in flames. She's with me now from Sacramento. Nichole, thank you for being with me.

When I read the quote where your husband -- it was in one of the papers over the weekend -- said, if you're going to die, die fighting. you were with your patients. And you didn't want to leave the hospital. I just -- I -- you tell me what he meant by that.

NICHOLE JOLLY, EVACUEE: Well, he -- I called him because my car was completely surrounded by flames, and I couldn't see out the window. And it started to fill up with smoke. And I called him. And I said, "Nick (ph), I'm going to die and I am not going to make it out of here. There's just flames everywhere. And I don't know how to -- I don't know what to do."

And he said: "Don't die. Run. If you're going to die, die fighting. You have to run."

And so I jumped out of my car in the middle of these flames and ran. And I -- and I ran up to my friend in front of me. Her name is Karen Davis. And her truck was melting into the ground, into the pavement.

And her windows, when I went to go knock on the window, it was completely black and filled with smoke inside her cab. So I either was -- thought I was watching her die in there, or she got to safety. I didn't know which one, and I couldn't open up her door. The doorknob was melted.

And so I had to leave her. And I thought I was -- that was the last time I was going to see her. And I went to the next vehicle in front of her, because it was so hot and I was running out of air. I thought, maybe I could jump into this car, and she will save me.

And it was Dr. McClarty's (ph) car, and I got into her car and I burned a hole in her seat from my pants. And we just sat there and prayed. And we held hands. And we prayed to God that I was -- that we were both going to survive this.

And we just thought, how can this happen? And my -- and it came back into my mind, because her car started to fill up with smoke again, that my husband told me: "Run. Don't stay there. Run. Just get out of the car and run."

And so I told Dr. McClarty: "I have to go. I have to run."

And so I got out of her car and I ran. And there -- the oxygen -- there was no oxygen in the air. The fire was just consuming it. And we were just -- I was just gasping. And I put my hand out. And I closed my eyes, because the ash was so hot, and there was just embers flying in my eyes. It was burning me.

I held my hand out. And I ended up touching the back of a fire truck. And I got over to the side of the fire truck, knocked on the doors. Stickers were melting off this truck.


And two firemen came out and picked me up and put me into their fire engine, and put a fire blanket on the windows. And it was just amazing. I thought, OK, I'm safe, that I can live in here, right? Because this is what they go through, this is what they do.

And then they called for air support. And they said: "That's impossible. We can't get air support." And he said: "We need air support. We're not going to make it." And I just thought, what do you mean? What do you mean we're not going to make it? This is -- this is -- this isn't happening. I can't leave now. They won't let me leave this fire engine. My husband told me to run. I was going to run. I can't leave. And so I ended up looking out of the fire blankets. And there was a dozer. And this dozer just came out of nowhere and cleared a path. And he saved all of us. He saved everybody's lives.

Those dozer operators are incredible.


JOLLY: And they just -- they deserve to be the heroes in this story, because they just cleared a path, and they made way for us.

And we were able to get back to the hospital and help patients that started showing up at the hospital.

BALDWIN: I mean, I'm hanging on your every word. And you never in a million years imagine a day like this. And when you constantly think, I'm not going to make it, and then you think you're going to make it, and then you think you're not, and finally you do and you're OK, and not only that you turned 34 on Friday.

And you mentioned the hospital. Nichole, happy birthday. I mean, talk about being grateful for your life.

JOLLY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Tell me how you spent your birthday helping others.

JOLLY: I just -- I just had to keep going. I had to keep working.

We got back to the hospital. And I just -- I had to keep working. I had to stay busy. And I'm trained to be a nurse and I'm trained to help people. And that's what I do. And that's what Karen Davis does. And all of our staff that was at the hospital, we just -- we worked and we just stayed busy.

And we didn't think about ourselves and our possessions that we just lost and anything else. We just helped these people. And, you know, that's what -- that's what nurses do.

BALDWIN: That is what nurses do. Bless the nurses. We need you.

Thank you for all that you do and have done.

JOLLY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And I'm glad you're OK.

What a story.

JOLLY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Nichole Jolly, I appreciate it.

JOLLY: Thank you.


In other news today, the president doesn't want Congress to provide any more aid to devastated Puerto Rico -- how the White House is explaining this one.

And Democrats haven't officially taken over the House yet. But they are already preparing for their investigations into Trump, what they plan to focus on ahead.

And former first lady Michelle Obama opening up in this new interview about her relationship with the current first lady, Melania Trump, and what went through her mind standing there at a rainy inauguration for President Trump.



BALDWIN: President Trump is taking aim at Puerto Rico again.

CNN has learned Trump wants to cut off relief funding that is helping the island after Hurricane Maria. As you well know,recovery has been excruciatingly slow. Full power was only restored in august, nearly a year after the devastation.

In the past, Trump has repeatedly dismissed the hurricane death toll that now places the number around 3,000.

Sarah Westwood is at the White House for us.

And so, Sarah, you tell me, how is the administration planning on doing this?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Brooke, the president is looking to make sure that Puerto Rico is left out of the spending bills that Congress will hammer out over the next few weeks.

The White House has a signal to congressional leaders that any supplemental spending bill that sets aside money for Southern states that were ravaged by recent hurricanes should not include any additional funding for the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

And the president has repeatedly vented his frustrations about the Puerto Rican recovery effort, for example, by disputing the death toll that place the loss of life around 3,000. He's claimed the Democrats had somehow falsely inflated the number of the dead in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in order to attack his administration's response to the hurricanes.

That, of course, is not true. And more recently, the president has accused Puerto Rican leaders of using relief funds to pay down their debts. But, of course, the more than $16 billion the Trump administration has appropriated for the relief efforts in Puerto Rico has gone to reconstruction, to infrastructure repairs, not to paying down the debt.

But White House aids and congressional sources tell me and my colleague Liz Landers that Trump's views on more funding for Puerto Rico had been known on Capitol Hill for a while now. One White House aide told me, Brooke, that one of the reasons why the Trump administration wants to block funding from Puerto Rico is because Puerto Rican leaders haven't spent all the money they have been appropriated so far, so they must not need any more help.

BALDWIN: I'm sure many people down there would obviously feel differently.

Sarah Westwood, thank you so much at the White House for us.

Meantime, Democrats are gearing up for a fight. Come the new year, they will have control of the U.S. House of Representatives. And with their new power, they could target President Trump with a number of probes, the first one focusing on acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.

He is -- here is the likely next chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.


REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Our very first witness on -- after January 3, we will subpoena Mr. -- or we will summon, if necessary, subpoena Mr. Whitaker.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: If he doesn't recuse himself, if he has any involvement whatsoever in this Russia probe, we are going to find out whether he made commitments to the president about the probe.


Mr. Whitaker needs to understand that he will be called to answer and any role that he plays will be exposed to the public.


BALDWIN: Let's go to CNN politics reporter Chris Cillizza.

And, Chris Cillizza, I wanted to talk -- I wanted to have you talk to us on the show about this -- all the potential subpoena -- the so- called hit list, right, that Democrats could have in store for Trump come next year.


And, look, Brooke because we don't have that much time, I'm going to run through these things quickly. We could have built a bigger graphic than this, and this list as key targets.

But let's start -- we're going to start with Russia, which is down over here. OK. We know the situation with the Russia investigation. Robert Mueller continues to investigate. Donald Trump continues to call it a witch-hunt and a hoax. Matt Whitaker throwing in there -- you heard Adam Schiff, the likely chairman the Intelligence Committee -- mentioning what involvement he might have.

So this is going to be very Robert Mueller-dependent, OK? That's number one. Let's go to the next one. OK, you recognize that guy, Jim Comey. Now, his firing, which is back in May 2017, has become, we believe, a focus, at least a piece of the focus, of the Mueller investigation.

Was it obstruction of justice? Comey has kept a lot of memos that seem to suggest that what Donald Trump is saying publicly doesn't comport with reality. So, again, sort of Mueller-dependent, but not entirely dependent, so we will see.

OK, next, OK, this one to me is a big, big, big, big deal. "The Wall Street Journal" reported last week -- kind of got lost in the election back and forth -- that there are lots of sources and documents saying Donald Trump was intimately involved in the coordination of the hush payments made by Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

Big deal, especially because, remember, Michael Cohen said that under oath. We might get more information that. OK, let's go the next one, taxes. Remember, Donald Trump, Brooke, the only president in the modern era not to release any of his tax returns. He was also the only major party presidential candidate not to have releases his tax returns.

He continues to say as recently as a press conference last week, well, they're under audit. They are under continuous audit. You wouldn't understand.

Well, my guess is, House Democrats would like to try to understand, at least look at them. OK, so that's taxes. Let's go to the next one, family business over, here. Now, we know there's a very complicated thing called the Emoluments Clause.

The issue is, is Donald Trump benefiting from the fact that his name is still on lots of hotels? You have foreign dignitaries, foreign governments staying in his hotels. Is he reaping some kind of benefit there? We don't know, but, again, worth investigations.

Let's go the next one. OK, Cabinet chaos. This puts it lightly. We have had a lot of controversy, self-created and otherwise, from the Trump Cabinet. Ryan's Zinke, the interior secretary, currently under fire. We have had people resign. We have had questions about Wilbur Ross, who is right there.

This will be an attempt, I think, by Democrats to say, what do we know about these things? What can we ask questions about? Are these people misusing public office?

Let's go the next one. Hurricane Maria. As you heard Sarah talk about, Donald Trump very Adamant that no more money goes there. He has also raised questions on Twitter and elsewhere about whether the death toll in Puerto Rico actually matches up with reality. So I think you're going to see Democrats dig into this, because

there's a lot of questions here, and Donald Trump is very outspoken about.

Let's go next. Family separations, another huge deal, Brooke. I know it feels like I'm saying these are all big deals. But, look, this is Donald Trump's border policy. Is he going to change it? We know this has really -- he has created this situation. Is he going to solve it? Democrats feel extremely passionately about it.

Obviously, we're not hearing too much about the caravan these days from Donald Trump. And I think, do we have one more? Or did I do them all?

I think I did them all.


BALDWIN: I think you hit them all. I know. It's a lot, though.


CILLIZZA: Then we got this guy in the middle. That's the key.

BALDWIN: Right. Right.

CILLIZZA: So you know what is not on here, by the way, Brooke, is...


CILLIZZA: ... is impeachment or anything like that, because I don't think that's in the top of Democrats' wish list.

Listen to Adam Schiff. Listen to Nancy Pelosi. The question is, for Nancy Pelosi to get reelected -- to get elected speaker, which I think is likely, does she have to make a deal with liberals in the caucus that she does something related to impeachment of Donald Trump, if not articles of impeachment, something that allows them to be on the record?

And what is that? Keep an eye on that, I think, over the next week or two. But these are the more substantive issues. And, as you can see, there are a ton of them.

BALDWIN: Yes. No, this morning, I saw a listen of 85, so thank you for the key...


CILLIZZA: Right. We didn't put that on here.

BALDWIN: That would be a lot of people, a lot of little circles.

Chris Cillizza, thank you for hitting the high points. I appreciate it, or the low points, I guess, depending on your perspective there.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up here: An air traffic controller at an airport in Las Vegas starts slurring her words talking to pilots for roughly 40 minutes. Hear what happened next.

And what we're learning, details about a photo appearing to show high school students with their hands raised like the Nazi salute. Where in America this happened and reaction now from the school districts.



BALDWIN: You heard this one? A Las Vegas air traffic controller is no longer on the job, after slurring her words and giving pilots confusing commands for 40 entire minutes.

The baffling interactions all captured on air traffic control audio.

Here is a clip.



UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: Is there somebody up there that knows what they're doing?