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Trump Arrives in Scorched Northern California; Trump to Meet Families & Survivors of Thousand Oaks Bar Shooting; Patients & Staff Escape Hospital Surrounded by Fire; CIA Concludes Saudi Crowned Prince Ordered Khashoggi Killing; Trump: I Wrote Answers to Mueller's Questions; House Republicans to Subpoena James Comey, Loretta Lynch; Avenatti: I'm Suing TMZ over "Garbage" Report of Domestic Violence; George Conway: Trump Administration a "Shitshow in a Dumpster Fire". Aired 1-2p ET

Aired November 17, 2018 - 13:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:00:14] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Staggering new numbers in California as the statewide death toll from wildfires is now at 74. More than a thousand others are missing. You're looking at live pictures right now, Beale Air Force Base in California, where Air Force One carrying the president has just landed there -- and of course, see the doors opening there. The president will be met by the governor and governor-elect -- there he is descending -- to get a firsthand account of the devastation.

The so-called Camp Fire in northern California has become the deadliest and most destructive in state history. Beale Air Force Base there in northern California.

But of course, before heading to California, the president echoed his thoughts about this unfolding tragedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a shame. It seems many more people were missing than anyone thought possible. And I want to be with the firefighters and the FEMA and first responders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Meanwhile, thousands of displaced families are living in pop-up tent cities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: It hurt a lot in my heart to see I actually have no house anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: It's not OK. It's hard to take all in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Some families are finding signs of hope and fear on message boards that they have put up, like the town of Chico. It shows photos of missing loved ones, notes written by those trying to find them.

The president there in Beale Air Force Base. Unclear if he'll have an opportunity to see something like that, a message board, or even talk face-to-face with some survivors, the victims. But he is getting accounts from many officials, many who are traveling with him, and those that he's seeing and meeting with in California.

The numbers are really extraordinary. We're talking about 148,000 acres have been burned there in northern California. That's equivalent to the size of, say, Chicago. And that fire is only 50 percent contained.

Our Kaylee Hartung is nearby in Chico, California.

Kaylee, you've had a chance to talk to a lot of people. Have they expressed what they would want the president to see if he has an opportunity to see firsthand or the sentiment they would like expressed to the president?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRSEPONDENT: Fred, the sentiment that I am having conveyed to me by so many people that I've talk to here is just one of uncertainty in general. I haven't spoken to anyone here today who's even mentioned the president's presence here because they're focused on survival. The question of what's next for so many of these families is the only one that matters. People have been camped out in this parking lot outside of a Walmart for days and days. Taking things literally one day at a time. Unsure where they lay their head next. A lot of the people in this campground, if you will, they know one another because they come from that same community within Paradise. I spoke to a man who said he had moved back home to Paradise to take care of his elderly father. They lost every possession they owned, including his father's life work. He was an artist. But he just had a volunteer here give him the keys to his car. A man he did not know prior to 10 minutes before that. Just handed him the keys to a car so he and his father could put the few blockings they escaped home with in that car and head to a shelter so they didn't have to camp here in a tent on the ground for another night.

So, Fred, while the president is here to convey his condolences, to show his support for people, to see the damage of this fire firsthand, the people here, truthfully, people who I've talk to are not concerned with the politics that visit may be a part of.

WHITFIELD: As we see the president has got be on Marine One, we understand the Paradise city, Paradise city of 26,000, which has been ravaged by the fire is roughly an hour away from Beale Air Force Base. We don't have the itinerary of the president and where they're off to now. We've seen him now aboard Marine One. Where he's off to get of course we're hoping to get more detail.

White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez, is joining us from the White House.

Boris, do you have a readout of what the president's plan is while he is there in California?

[13:05:09] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No clear indication from the White House about exactly where the president is going, Fred. We know as he was leaving the White House, he told reporters he would be make two stops today. He was greeted by some first responders, FEMA officials. And he's going to be meeting with firefighters from what we understand and he's going to be touring the state with California Governor Jerry Brown, who he has exchanged some heated rhetoric with in the past, as well as Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom. Before he left the White House, the president told reporters he will be sending them a message about forest management. As you know, in the last few days, Fred, the president received criticism from some after he suggested more could be done in California to prevent these sorts of wildfires. He has received criticism from some fire officials within California for his comments about forest management.

Despite that, he says he's going to deliver his message face-to-face. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm meeting with the governor and the new governor and governor-elect. So we have a lot of things to talk about. We will be talking about forest management. I've been saying that for a long time. This could have been a lot different situation. But the one thing is that everybody now knows that this is what we have to be doing. And there's no question about it. Should have been done many years ago. I think everybody's on the right side. It's a big issue. A big issue. A very expensive issue. But very, very inexpensive when you compare it to even one of these horrible fires.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: The president has also been asked if he believes climate change has played a role in the increasing frequency and the intensity of some of these wildfires, something that Governor Jerry Brown has pointed out in the past. The president says he believes climate change does play a small role. Though we should point out, Fred, the president in the past has suggested that climate change is a conspiracy perpetrated by the Chinese.

WHITFIELD: The president is also, you know, trying to accomplish a few things while he's there in California. He'll also be meeting south of where we're seeing Marine One now, more in the Los Angeles area, where the Thousand Oaks area, victims of that bar shooting. What's the plan with his meeting with victims there?

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's right, Fred. Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, told reporters the president would be meeting with families effected by that shooting where 12 people were killed last week. Not many details on exactly who the president will meet with, but Sanders said this would be one of the more difficult days for this administration, saying it will be very hard and very emotional -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you much, from the White House.

Again, live pictures, Marine One there, landing at Beale Air Force Base just an hour south of Butte County, which is where the city of Paradise has been so devastated by those wildfires.

Meantime, we're still hearing unbelievable stories of survival. Joe Khalil, which our affiliate KTXL, talked to patients and staff in Paradise, California, who escaped just as flames surrounded the hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE KHALIL, REPORTER, KTXL (voice-over): Six-day-old Halle is the last baby born at this hospital. Just moments after she arrived, the Camp Fire began to surround the building.

UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER: They came over the speaker to evacuate the hospital, all patients need to be removed.

TAMARA FERGUSON, NURSE: I went to my patients' rooms and I said, grab your baby, we've got to go, just grab your baby, there's no time.

KHALIL: In the scramble to evacuate, Halle's mother, Heather, had been separated from her child, put into an ambulance and driven away. Her ambulance made it about half a mile before it began to literally melt in the flames. Her C-section surgery left the lower half of her body numb. She couldn't move. And made what they thought would be the last phone call.

UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER: I said good-bye to my husband and to tell my kids I loved them and I was sorry I wouldn't be here. It was very, very hard.

FERGUSON: I heard the ambulance in front of us is on fire.

KHALIL: Nurse Tamara Ferguson, in an ambulance behind Heather's, making the same last phone call to her family.

FERGUSON: They kept telling me, you're going to be fine. I was trying to convince them, you don't understand, I'm not going to be fine. There's no way I'm going to survive this. There's fire blowing at me.

KHALIL: As the fire was consuming homes all around them, a stranger helped Heather get out of her ambulance and wheeled her up this driveway. Nurse Tamara followed. Eventually, they ran into David Hawks, Paradise's fire chief.

DAVID HAWKS, PARADISE FIRE CHIEF: There's a dog door here that one of the paramedics made access to. We unlocked the garage, moved patients into this home and sheltered them in place. I say, hey, if you follow the directions, which is to clear this home of pine needles, then we would be safe here. KHALIL: What happened next was nothing short of amazing. EMTs and nurses became stand-in firefighters. Some getting on the roof of this home clearing gutters of brush, hosing down the outer edge of the property, saving this home all while their patients were kept safe inside.

[13:10:26] FERGUSON: He said, you do this, you do this. All of us shifted our minds to, what do we need to do to survival mode here.

HAWKS: They followed directions. They did exactly what I asked them to do.

KHALIL: Amid a neighborhood devastated by the Camp Fire, this home survived. So did all of the patients and medical staff inside.

DES'REE BORDEN, CALIFORNIA HOMEOWNER: I am so happy that my home was spared so that their lives could be spared. That was that home's purpose was to save those people.

KHALIL: Des'ree Borden owns this home with her husband. Not long before it was used to save lives of people she had never met, she was fleeing from it with her 17-month-old daughter in the car.

BORDEN: I was singing nursery rhymes to her, trying to keep her calm, although she was very calm. I don't know if I was singing the nursery rhymes for her or me. I just knew our story couldn't end that way. We couldn't burn alive in a car.

KHALIL: It wasn't until one of the nurses sent Des'ree a Facebook message that she learned her home was still standing. She assumed, like her neighbor's homes, it was gone.

Now these people, all strangers a few days ago, forever bonded through one common story of survival.

FERGUSON: We're all here. We're able to talk about this. It's absolutely extraordinary.

BORDEN: It's humbling to know your life was spared when so many aren't and so many are unaccounted for.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Harrowing stories of escape and survival.

Thanks to Joe Khalil, with our affiliate, KTXL.

For ways you can help those affected by the California wildfires, go to CNN.com/impact.

Next, the CIA issues a stunning report in the murder case of "Washington Post" Columnist Jamal Khashoggi that implicates the Saudi crown prince. With this new intel, how will President Trump respond?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [13:16:35] WHITFIELD: President Trump was briefed on the phone today by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel on the CIA's fiending that Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, personally ordered the death of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump spoke with them on Air Force One while flying to California, which he has landed. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the president has confidence in the CIA.

Khashoggi was a Saudi citizen who lived in the United States and was a columnist for the "Washington Post." He was killed and his body dismembered after he entered the Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey last month to get papers for his upcoming marriage. A "Washington Post" reports says that despite his comments, President Trump has previously been told of the prince's alleged involvement. The Saudi government admits Khashoggi's killing but denies the crown prince had any role in ordering it.

I want to bring in Kimberly Dozier, a CNN global affairs analyst and a contributing writer at "The Daily Beast" and CNN senior diplomatic correspondent, Michelle Kosinski.

Good to see both of you.

Michelle, the reporting is the CIA says the crown prince was directly involved. The president has, in the past, expressed skepticism of U.S. intelligence. After a briefing today about the CIA report, might this be different?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPODNENT: Right, it sounds like more of the same. When he's presented with the fact that there's this reporting, that the CIA has decided, yes, the crown prince ordered the killing of the U.S. resident at the Saudi consulate in Turkey, that the president goes on to say what a great relationship there is with the Saudis. It echoes what he's said in the past about, well, the crown prince says he was not involved, it could have been rogue actors. It's that same kind of implement skepticism and the things he's focusing on instead of setting the tone that the vice president just said in his response, where he said this is an atrocity, this is an affront to the First Amendment, we're going to hold everybody responsible who was involved in this. The president can't seem to bring himself to have that tone, at least at the same time others are taking it.

WHITFIELD: Kimberly, Turkey has implied and said this, and now it's the CIA which has reached this assessment based on an avalanche of intelligence or analysis. So now what? The intelligence agency is equipped with giving and providing the information but it will be the White House for anyone else to determine what to do with this information.

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Exactly. The CIA's job is to provide the best assessment they can with the intelligence they have. One reason the Turks let Gina Haspel, the CIA director, listen to the tape was because they trusted her to make this kind of blunt assessment, and deliver what could be an unwelcome message to President Trump, and also to Jared Kushner, who has maintained the relationship with the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Now, what is tough for the White House is they put so many eggs in the basket of the relationship with Saudi Arabia, from hoping they would quell the situation in Yemen, they could bring the Palestinians to a peace negotiation with Israel, and even offset Iran. What they'd like the outcome to be something that would check the crown president's power, send him a message, but leave the relationship intact and leave crown prince in his current job.

[13:20:22] WHITFIELD: Everyone has to wonder, how could that happen, because just listen to what president had to say about the value of the relationship with Saudi Arabia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We also have a great ally in Saudi Arabia. They give us a lot of jobs. They give us a lot of business, a lot economic development. They are a -- they have been a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development. I also take that -- you know, I'm president and I have to take a lot of things into consideration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Michelle, is this laying the groundwork for the president not to sanction the crown prince or doing anything?

KOSINSKI: Yes. It certainly doesn't sound like he's setting up us for some kind of big punishment. I mean, this is the de facto head of state in Saudi Arabia, ordering the killing of a U.S. resident. Now the world knows it. And there are plenty of grisly details that have come out. Not just the U.S. but allies have been looking at this, kind of waiting for this day where the crown prince is directly implicated, and thinking,, oh, no, how are we going to deal with that. It is difficult for other allies as well because they rely on such a strong ally in the Middle East to try to help them solve other problems. There's that economic relationship, too, that the president like to talk about. But similar to the president seeming believe Vladimir Putin that he didn't interfere in the U.S. election, or calling Kim Jong-Un a smart guy he's now in love with. He wants to praise these leaders that, in the eyes of the world, have blood on their hands. Congress is upset about this. Congress wants to take harsher action, like not selling arms to Saudi Arabia. It's an unknown right now what kind of action, not just the U.S., again, but the world is going to be willing to take and risk hurting that relationship that is an important one.

WHITFIELD: Kimberly, has President Trump kind of removed any incentive for the Saudi king to do anything, admonish, punish the crown prince if everyone -- everyone, meaning the Intelligence Community -- is saying he is the one responsible for the death of Khashoggi?

DOZIER: The message, the signals coming from the White House toward Saudi Arabia seems to be that we're going to help you move on from this. Which may be why this report has now been made public from anonymous sources. Because this kind of thing gets briefed to people who watch the Intelligence Community and they need Saudi Arabia to understand you're not just going to get away with this by throwing a few people under the bus. We need to understand that you'll never do this again.

WHITFIELD: Kimberly Dozier, Michelle Kosinski, thanks so much.

DOZIER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, President Trump announcing that he has penned his responses to the special counsel's written questions about the Russia probe, but he did it without the help of his lawyers he says. What could that mean?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:27:57] WHITFIELD: President Trump says he has finished answering all the questions from Special Counsel Bob Mueller in the investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election. The president says he will turn his responses over to the special counsel's team next week. He made a point on Friday of telling reporters he wrote the responses, not his attorneys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: My lawyers aren't working on it. I'm working on it. I write the answers. My lawyers don't write answers. I write answers. I was asked a series of questions. I've answered them very easily, very easily. I'm sure they're tricked up because, you know, they like to catch people, gee, was the weather sunny or was it rainy? He said it may have been a good day, it was rainy, therefore, he told a lie, he perjured himself, OK? So you have to always be careful when you answer questions from people that probably have bad intentions. But, no, the questions were very routinely answered by me, by me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: With me now, Karoun Demirjian, a congressional correspondent for the "Washington Post." Also with me, Shang Wu, who is a defense attorney general and a former federal prosecutor.

Good to see you both.

Shan, you first.

He replied to these questions himself. Do you buy that?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. I think there's unilateral consensus among any white-collar defense lawyers there's no way any of us would permit a client to answer questions himself. It's a far more likely scenario that his lawyers did the first draft and spent many hours trying to get him to pay attention and digest it and to have him make sure that he didn't weigh in, because ultimately, he has to adopt those. Certainly a challenge with a client like this one would be getting him to pay enough attention and then not having him give further answers if there's a follow up to the questions that would be completely at odds with his written answers. But there's no way he wrote those by himself. WHITFIELD: Karoun, it's unclear at what phase, you know, the Bob

Mueller investigation is in, whether it's wrapping it up or not. And you've got Republican leaders in the Senate who are blocking what was a bipartisan effort to vote on a bill that would protect the Mueller probe.

[13:30:04] So what's with the resistance to that now?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the Republicans who are blocking that effort, starting with the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are doing it out of perceived loyalty to the president or because they believe it's unconstitutional to say a presidential order to fire somebody should be subject to the courts almost automatically if the special counsel doesn't believe it, they should have been fired. It's an ongoing debate that's happening. It's a question of, will the Republican leadership let it go to the floor. And Jeff Flake has said, I won't vote for any more of your judicial nominees, President Trump, until the Republican leadership allows a vote on this bill.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: -- much consensus behind him?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, I mean, there's no other Republican right now is willing to put their neck on the line. He's retiring. He's been critical of the president for a long time so he can afford to do this in a way other people can't. A lot of people are looking towards people like Susan Collins who has said, we should have a vote on this bill. She might follow suit. At this point, the GOP is trying to figure out what to do because, yes, they can keep bringing Mike Pence on to Capitol Hill to cast tiebreaker votes, but if one more Republican joins Flake, there's stuck. They cannot clear any more of these conservative judges. That's actually priority number one for the whole party. There's definitely --it's going to continue to be discussed, the Mueller issue, because he's leveraged the president's nearest and dearest priority item, or at least GOP's. How this resolves, unclear, though, because the party doesn't want to step in front of the president on this one.

WHITFIELD: There are other potential chess moves, Shan. Republicans are planning to subpoena former FBI Director James Comey and former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in connection with the Clinton e- mail probe and this Russia investigation. In fact, Comey has responded via tweet, saying this, "House Republicans can ask me anything but I want the people to watch, so let's have a public hearing. Truth is best served by transparency, let me know when it's convenient."

It's like your move, chess move one, next move. What do you make of this?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's a very clever move on Comey's part, really showing off his long-time legal and political and Washington, D.C., experience. He basically puts the GOP on notice there that you're not going to be able to spin what I say to you. If it's behind closed doors, they can characterize it, do their own takeaways from it. If it's out in front for everybody to see, then nobody can spin it that way. And he wants everyone to see it. I think he's also perhaps challenging them to do that because they probably don't want the public hearing. There's not much to control him with. When you ask him a question, he can give what answers he wants. They're going to be bad answers for them and they'll be in full view of the American public.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Speaking of chess moves, how about, you know, preemptively. The president has been rather loquacious this morning. He said Nancy Pelosi for House leadership, go all the way, and he then went on to tweet saying some kind words about Democrats, from Gillum in Florida to Stacey Abrams, perhaps they have real bright futures ahead. What's going on, Karoun? Why is he doing this?

DEMIRJIAN: This is not the first time the president has offered kind words to Democrats. Perplexing people in his own party as to why. And perplexing the Democrats as well because you don't know what he's doing. He's trying to make himself look like he was a softer figure and not quite as -- you know, the hatemongering toward the other side of the aisle as he was in the runup to the midterm elections. Or is he trying to kind of back people like Pelosi in the hopes that this move makes her less popular with members of her own party because she has been a polarizing figure. Unclear. The president does make these moves, then pulls him back all the time. He's talked about Chuck and Nancy before as being, you know -- he wants to negotiate with them and then he pulled the rug out from under that. So this seems to be, at this stage, the president looking toward 2020 as everybody in Washington, D.C., is. They, the people he's talking about, Gillum, Stacey Abrams, really did better than they should have in the states they were running in, given the competition is electric right now. So that's momentum that builds on itself. In two years, he could be in real trouble in states that have been either purple or decidedly red. So he's trying to send an olive branch without saying his tone, to voters, this would be a good work to do it.

WHITFIELD: Yes, thinking long term.

Karoun Demirjian, Shan Wu, good to see both as always. Thank you.

WU: Nice to see you.

DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.

[13:34:59] All right, next, Michael Avenatti telling CNN he is confident he will be exonerated after being arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. He's planning to sue TMZ, which first reported the incident. Does the high-profile lawyer have a case?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Lawyer Michael Avenatti is launching an aggressive fight against claims he committed domestic abuse. Stormy Daniels' attorney says he will sue the entertainment news site, TMZ, for its story on the allegations, including TMZ's erroneous claim that the woman involved was Avenatti's ex-wife, Lisa. Avenatti tweeted, "Whomever wrote and approved that TMZ article better get their checkbook ready because it was purposefully malicious and false. It was designed to harm Lisa, me, and my family. And we're going to expose TMZ for what they did. No journalist should rely on or defend garbage like that."

Avenatti also adamantly claims -- denies the allegations, claiming it's a story cooked-up by a right-wing blogger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[13:40:31] MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY: I have never struck a woman. I never will strike a woman.

I am a father to two beautiful smart daughters. I would never disrespect them by touching a woman inappropriately or striking a woman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, let's bring in Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor in Cleveland, and criminal defense attorney, Richard Herman, who joins us from New Orleans.

Good to see you both.

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Good to see you, Fredricka.

RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Hey, Fred.

WHITFIELD: We've heard Avenatti's side of this. What about the police? Details on the charges have not been made public.

Avery, why?

FRIEDMAN: All we have is suspicion at this point. He's been brought in, he's posted bond. We don't even have probable cause at this point. Instead of exercising his constitutional right to remain silent, Fredricka he decided to exercise his constitutional right to have a press conference. TMZ, by the way, changed their information on their site. It is correct that he has been held on suspicious. But there's an alibi by wife number one. There's an alibi by wife number two. Well, where's the victim? We will sooner or later find out if there's any substance to that.

WHITFIELD: Richard, you can't just arrest somebody on suspicious. There has to be something there. So what is the threshold for, you know, LAPD to make an arrest of this caliber?

HERMAN: So you're so good, Fred. I know you went to law school.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: I'm learning from you, both of you. HERMAN: You know, this -- there's definitely probable cause here.

There's someone who was injured. Someone who has shown substantial injuries to the judge. The district attorney has charged Avenatti not with a violation, not with a misdemeanor, with the highest level of crime, a felony.

FRIEDMAN: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

HERMAN: So there's smoke here, OK? I don't know who did it. I don't know how the injuries took place. But they charged him and a judge saw fit to impose a $50,000 bail. That's no chump change. That's fairly substantial bail. There's something there, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HERMAN: But as far as the TMZ article goes, he could very well be right. If TMZ was that reckless to posts this and say the victim was his second wife without any backup, without a video, because usually they have videos. Harvey Levin is a pro-Trump guy. If they did that with malicious intent, even though Avenatti is a public figure, Fred, he will win that case and he will win a lot of money. He really will.

FRIEDMAN: I don't know.

WHITFIELD: Really?

What are you suspicious about, Avery?

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDMAN: The problem is, if TMZ went to the police and the police shared that information, then I think they're in the clear. The standard for defamation actions against media is extremely high. When there was an error, they corrected that error quickly. So I think in terms of legally speaking, I think it's very doubtful that there's any claim against TMZ. Actually, TMZ, if you recall, walked away with a Pulitzer. They have done some extraordinary work. Not justifying what happened here. But you want to know something? This will be a battle. On top of that, remember, Avenatti is going after a blogger, who has aweful remarks about Mueller and beating women up. He's made the allegation. And has actually taken credit, if you can believe that, for the claim against Avenatti. We're just at the beginning of the story. There's going to be a lot of information that I would bet we'll see this coming week.

WHITFIELD: So he'll be scheduled to be in court December 5th, even though he has post odd bond, bail. I know you said that was chump change. It was no chump change, Richard, $50,000. In comparison to the fact that he really is a high-priced attorney, he's got notoriety, he's become a public figure, he's handling a very highly publicized and important case, is that considered kind of low bail?

HERMAN: Considering he owns two private jets and is worth well over $10 million, it's substantial, Fred. WHITFIELD: OK.

HERMAN: Listen, there's something there. There were injuries presented to a judge. He's been arrested for felony domestic battery. That's pretty substantial, Fred. So let's see when the smoke clears December 5th. And wouldn't it be ironic if there were hush money paid here to wife number two?

(CROSSTALK)

[13:45:04] FRIEDMAN: Oh, we're getting carried away. We're getting carried away on that one.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: And everyone knows by now that he represents Stormy Daniels. Stormy Daniels has responded as a result of this. She says this, in part, "I will say right now they're just allegations, and I am going to reserve judgement and I hope that everyone does. Trust me, I know what it feels like to be on the other end of that until all the details are discovered. But if the allegations turn out to be true, then I will definitely be seeking new representation because I cannot condone or" --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: -- "support someone who is abuse."

This is already -- these allegations have cost him, though, because Vermont's Democratic Party cancelled two weekend appearances for Michael Avenatti.

HERMAN: Yes.

WHITFIELD: So, Richard, there is a lot at stake here for a lot of people, right, these charges?

HERMAN: There is. Innocent until proven guilty. Whatever happened to that? I don't know.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HERMAN: But we fight that every day in court. But here, they did, the Democratic Party in Vermont took his appearances away because he represented Stormy. He had some victories, you know. He thinks he can run for president of the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: So, Avery -

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Avery, last word?

HERMAN: That's been our world today, insane. So insanity is all around us. But we'll see December 5 h. They'll be some movement on December 5th.

WHITFIELD: OK.

HERMAN: At least, Fred, Avery, at least this week we got a grab great laugh when the president said he personally answered all the questions that Mueller sent him. That was pretty funny, Fred, come on.

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDMAN: That will never get out. It will never get by the lawyers.

WHITFIELD: Avery?

FRIEDMAN: He may have answered them but the lawyers are looking it over before it goes to the special counsel.

HERMAN: That's pretty funny.

FRIEDMAN: No doubt about it.

WHITFIELD: All right. See, look, we always get more with Richard and Avery.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: And look, you have corresponding ties today so you are kind of in sync.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Yellow.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: All right, Richard, Avery, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: Happy Thanksgiving, Fred.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Oh, yes, Happy Thanksgiving. Happy holidays. Thank you so much.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Grateful for everything you do all the time.

We'll be right back.

HERMAN: We are with you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:51:27] WHITFIELD: The husband of one of President Trump's closest confidants has become one of the most outspoken critics of the Trump administration. George Conway, who is married to White House Counsellor Kellyanne Conway, had some colorful language for the president. Here's CNN's Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The contrarian husband of one of the president's top aides, Kellyanne Conway, isn't just raising eyebrows but dropping jaws, speaking publicly for the first time about his disdain for the Trump administration.

GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY & HUSBAND OF KELLYANNE CONWAY (voice-over): It's like the administration is like a shit show in a dumpster fire.

TODD: George Conway, a conservative lawyer and prominent Republican, was once on the short list for a top position in the Trump Justice Department. Now he's become one of the president's chief critics.

In a new interview on Yahoo! Podcast, "Skullduggery," he explained why he turned down the job.

CONWAY (voice-over): : I was like I don't want to do that, I don't know. And then it is like, then you got the Comey firing, and then you got him going on TV saying, "I had Russia on my mind," and it is like, oh, no.

TRUMP: She just destroyed them

TODD: Despite his proximity to one of the president's most-ferocious defenders, George Conway has unabashedly slammed President Trump in recent months.

This week, he established Checks and Balances, a group of conservative lawyers who public question the president's adherence to the law. He also chided Trump on Twitter with tweets like this one, questioning the president's comprehension of the law. And he's written op-eds, including this one, saying, "Trump's appointment of the acting attorney general is, quote, illegal."

Until recently, he avoided the president's ire.

TRUMP: You mean Mr. Kellyanne Conway?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He said you are unconstitutionally appointing --

(CROSSTALK)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is just trying to get publicity for himself.

TODD: George Conway says he took the president's broadside inside, saying he also calls himself Mr. Kellyanne Conway.

His wife even changed her Twitter handle read to "The Kellyanne Conway and Kellyanne Conway's Husband."

George Conway admitted his wife is not a fan of his pushback on the president.

CONWAY (voice-over): I don't think she likes it, but I told her, you know, I don't like the administration, so it's even.

TODD: Despite their differences, Conway says he is very proud of his wife and what she accomplished in 2016.

CONWAY (voice-over): My wife did an amazing thing. She basically got this guy elected and other people like to take credit for it, but she got this guy elected. She steadied that boat. She did it. She went on television, she imposed message discipline on that campaign. He was in the crapper when she took that campaign over.

TODD: Perhaps the great irony, analysts say, that of all of Conway's criticisms, that remark, supporting his wife's role in the campaign, might be the one that pushes the president's button the most.

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We know that the idea of anybody had anything to do with his success except for him really seems to drive him bonkers. He is very narcissistic. It always has to be about him.

TODD: When asked if he thinks president Trump is fully stable, George Conway laughed and said, "No comment."

We asked the White House for comment on George Conway's remarks about the Trump administration. We didn't hear back from them. And neither George nor Kellyanne Conway would comment specifically for our story.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[13:54:44] WHITFIELD: So much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the wild, survival of the fittest rules the day. Being stronger and faster in competition with your rivals and live to see tomorrow.

But for humans that instinct to compete has evolved. Today, we organize contests of athleticism, skill and endurance just to determine who deserves to stand atop a podium and simply declare, "I'm the best."

And as we have grown more advanced, so have our competitions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run, run, run.

GUPTA: Today, simple foot races have become near impossible expeditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're breathing right now.

GUPTA: Lap swimming can be an extreme sport.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get down in the water.

GUPTA: And riding a bike is not just riding a bike.