Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY SATURDAY

President Trump To Visit Fire-Ravaged California Today; Wildfire Victims Set Up Makeshift Campground; Pence Vows To Hold Khashoggi Murder Perpetrators Accountable; CIA Concludes Saudi Prince Ordered Khashoggi's Killing; House Republicans To Subpoena James Comey, Loretta Lynch; Stacey Abrams Recognizes Brian Kemp As GA's Next Governor. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired November 17, 2018 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:00] BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Many of them have turned and then become his allies like some of his GOP primary challengers, or they're leaving politics like Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The death toll from California's deadliest wildfires keeps rising.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are more than 1,000 names on a list of missing persons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a raging inferno. It was 50-mile-an-hour winds and blizzard of embers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't breathe. I couldn't see. It was black and red, and I really thought that's how I was going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It hurts a lot to see that I actually have no house anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paradise, will always be paradise. And when we rebuild it, will be paradise again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The CIA now concludes that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the killing of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The assessment is that Mohammed bin Salman directed, ordered this assassination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump announced today he's finally done writing out answers for the special counsel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump's legal team balking, taking issue with some of the questions.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I write the answers, my lawyers don't write answers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday to you. Top of the hour now. And it is really a staggering number now because more than 1,000 people are unaccounted for in the wildfires burning across Northern California. Officials know of 74 people who have been killed but that number is expected to rise today.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And in just a few moments, the president is departing for California. He's expected to put politics aside, touring the devastation with California's governor and governor-elect. Both of whom, of course, are Democrats. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says the president wants to show support for the victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think this will actually probably be one of the harder days that we've had in the two years of this administration. And I think the biggest message and biggest takeaway will be the president saying we're here, and thankfully the president's got big shoulders, and I think he's going to go there to offer them up to people that need somebody to lean on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: That was the message from Sarah Sanders last night. The president taking on his role of consoler-in-chief, she says. President Trump spoke with Fox News, however, here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I was watching the firemen the other day, and they were raking areas. They were raking areas where the fire was right over there, and they're raking trees, little trees like this -- not trees, little bushes. That you could see are totally dry. Weeds. And they're raking them, they're on fire. That should have been all raked out.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: What about the argument --

TRUMP: You wouldn't have the fire --

WALLACE: What about the argument it's climate change? That's it's drier, it's hotter, and that that's contributing to it?

TRUMP: Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Thousands of people in Northern California, they face an uncertain future.

PAUL: CNN's Kaylee Hartung spoke with some wildfire victims who say, they are determined that they're going to move forward, they just don't know how.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The smoke from the campfire lingers. And survivors on the ground face a bleak picture. This makeshift campground in a Walmart parking lot is near the remnants of the town of Paradise. Many have lost everything. These survivors are trying to catch their breath in the smoky air, looking for answers to the questions: "What's next?"

ANNA GOODNIGHT, CAMP FIRE SURVIVOR: Did it burned down or didn't it burn down? We don't know. It's hard to try to figure out your game plan when you don't know your game plan.

HARTUNG: Anna Goodnight and her husband, William, rushed out of their home. They were only able to grab medication and some important documents.

GOODNIGHT: We saw everything burning down as we were leaving off the (INAUDIBLE). That was scary enough.

HARTUNG: They have no idea if their home is still standing. They're just glad they made it out alive.

GOODNIGHT: I hope there is some closure for the families that have lost family, because we've been hearing so many horror stories. But I'm sure it's going to get worse before it gets better.

KRYSTAL STIRRUP, CAMP FIRE SURVIVOR: We're living. There's a lot of people that didn't make it.

HARTUNG: Krystal Stirrup survived Hurricanes Andrew and Irma in Florida. She and her four young children were planning to make Paradise their new home. This was the start of the next chapter of your life. Putting a down payment on an apartment in Paradise.

STIRRUP: Yes, I thought that was going to, you know -- we were all that happy, excited. When they had actually us and told us to come next week. Which is supposed to be the time we were coming, but everything is gone, and I don't know what's the next step. I'm just winging it.

HARTUNG: Despite facing her own long road to recovery, Krystal's been visiting the people at the camp, offering to help however she can.

STIRRUP: I can't do anything but one day at a time. You know, it's out of my hands. Stay praying. Stay asking the lord to cover us. Or just covered in; make sure they have a soft place to land in all of the situations.

[07:05:16] HARTUNG: The number of missing persons continues to fluctuate. Authorities say, it is so difficult to pinpoint the exact number because so people have been displaced. Paradise, California is a town of the population of more than 25,000 people. Authorities say, that some people could have evacuated to areas where cell phone service is unreliable. Others could have evacuated and not reached out to family members.

So, some may not know that people are looking for them. Anna Goodnight, who you just heard me speak with says, she's afraid to look at that list because she's afraid that she'll see names on it she knows. Authorities ask, if you do look at the list, if you see someone's name on it who is safe, please let them know. Otherwise, they will continue to try to account for everyone who they believe to be missing. Kaylee Hartung, CNN, Chico, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: Kaylee, thank you so much. Paul Vercammen, with us now from Chico, California. Talk to us a little bit about where you are and what you're seeing.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Victor, I'm at that makeshift camp that Kaylee alluded to. This is outside a Walmart parking lot in Chico. And you can see what seems to be hundreds of tents ringing the Walmart parking lot on a chilly night here in Chico. And we've been talking about the list of unaccounted for. The sheriff coroner put a finer point on that saying this does not necessarily mean that all these people are missing and presumed dead.

He said, he wanted journalists to help give it context. So, how could one get on that list? Well, this would result from even acquaintance calling early on the fire and say I think so and so is missing, or an e-mail, or a 911 dispatch. But one thing that was just heartbreaking and could get someone off the list, officials are now asking for relatives to provide DNA samples to match with remains.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN VEER, CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER, ANDE: At this point, we're working full speed with the coroner to identify remains. Our need now is for parents and children of missing -- that have missing family members to go to the missing -- I'm sorry, to the family assistance center at the old Sears building at Chico Mall between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., to have DNA swab collected for comparison purposes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And they will be back out there again today in Paradise trying to recover more human remains, Victor and Christi.

VEER: And Paul, tell us more about the fire-fight today and -- you know, how the weather potentially could help and the resources that are coming in.

VERCAMMEN: Huge factor in all of that. Just was speaking to some representatives from Calfire. Here's the strategy -- they say, the main active flame is burning east of Oroville, California. They have to have cooperation from the weather, though. This air has been so hazardous; it looks ominous and dark in midday. And when you have poor visibility, you can't fly both the fixed wing aircraft which dropped that purple fire retardant or the helicopters which can douse flames, so there's some, I believe, 5,400 firefighters on the line for them to get help today.

They're going to have to clear the air. And you may have heard that there are sporting events being cleared throughout Northern California, there's a situation in Sacramento where they have what they call the Causeway Classic. It was to be between Sacramento State and U.C. Davis. They moved that to Reno. Just horrific here. They hope it clears. Back to you.

BLACKWELL: All right, Paul Vercammen for us there in Chico, California. Thanks so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Paul. Take a look, too, if you will, please -- I don't know what you're doing right now, but look at your screen. Because these are before and after images of what Paradise used to be. You saw that house there. We're going to pull it up again. There's the house. And now, just a couple of trees in the front yard. That was somebody's home.

BLACKWELL: And take a look at this church. One of the many churches in paradise. And now, just stone walls and a chimney that's on that's left there. Let's go this, this do-it-yourself car wash. And now, what's left after the fire.

The Calfire posted the pictures of the destruction. We matched them up with Google's street view images. But as we saw, not just the hundreds of tents where people will have to rebuild their homes. Businesses will have to be rebuilt, too. Sources of income and the people there in Northern California will need and Southern California will need a lot of work, a lot of help over the next months and years.

PAUL: And they say they're dedicated to it because they are determined to rebuild. Now, I want to get back quickly to this quest to cross people off that missing persons list. Because we want to make sure that you have every resource available you to. The American Red Cross is asking evacuees to visit safeandwell.org and register on their list. Because their people can check for loved ones for you, also let other people know that they are safe. So, for other ways that you can help, as well, those affected by the California wildfires, just go to CNN.com/impact. And thank you for doing so.

[07:10:19] BLACKWELL: Absolutely. Coming up, we've got new developments in the murder case of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi that implicates the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

PAUL: And it was supposed to be a way for adults to quit smoking. E- cigarettes leaving more kids, however, to pick up the habit. Now, the FDA is proposing new regulations to stop the rise in teen smokers.

BLACKWELL: And the family of that 26-year-old security guard who was shot and killed outside a suburban Chicago nightclub is suing. They want answers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My baby lost his father. His hero. His hero. Jemel loved his baby so much. (END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:15:03] PAUL: Well, new developments in a murder case of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to a senior U.S. official, the CIA has concluded that the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered Khashoggi's killing last month.

BLACKWELL: Now, these findings may complicate things for the White House given the president's desire to preserve a good relationship with the crown prince and the Saudis. Vice President Mike Pence swiftly responded to the report this morning saying the U.S. will hold his murderers accountable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity. It was also an affront to a free and independent press, and the United States is determined to hold all those accountable who are responsible for that murder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is in Beirut following this story. Ben, hello to you. And it appears that a phone call was a crucial part of the evidence that led the CIA to this conclusion.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor, there's a lot of evidence that led the CIA to that conclusion. But one of them was a telephone intercept of a conversation between the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Khalid bin Salman, who happens to be the brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Jamal Khashoggi in which he tells him to go to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain a paper that would allow him to re-marry.

According to this report, that phone call was made at the -- with the prompting of the crown prince himself. But in addition to that phone call which was intercepted by U.S. intelligence, the Turks weren't involved in that, it's also based upon other information like the audio that was provided by the Turkish -- by Turkish intelligence to Gina Haspel, the Director of the CIA, who went to Turkey last month.

That audio apparently documents the torture, murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi. So really, it's a variety of pieces of information and intelligence that amount to circumstantial evidence which indicates that the crown prince himself was directly involved in the decision to kill this Washington Post columnist. Victor?

PAUL: All right. Ben Wedeman, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: So, last week, about ten days ago, the president said that he would have a stronger opinion about Saudi Arabia's role in Khashoggi's death. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Saudi Arabia is guilty of having him murdered. And if so --

TRUMP: I'll have a much stronger opinion on that subject over the next week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Well, over the next week was this week. And this week is over today. And we've not heard anything from the president since. Joining me now to discuss: CNN Contributor and former Director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Schwab. Walter, welcome back to the show.

WALTER SCHWAB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about it in this context, and potentially the conflict of American interests. The president says that he's interested in preserving the economic interest; these arms deal that he's talked about for several weeks now. Also, the national security interest and Saudi Arabia's cooperation with his focus on Iran. But there's also the interest of the freedom of the press. And there will be a consequence for killing a journalist working in America because you don't like his opinion. Is this a simple choice?

SCHWAB: Well, I think it is a simple choice. Obviously, it's a costly choice, but it's a simple one. We have a Virginia resident, permanent resident, who was murdered now we know by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Horrifically. This is an individual who wrote for a major United States paper. One of our top news sources in the country. And so, we have a national security interest, and sending a message to the autocrats of the world that you can't with impunity kill people associated with the United States.

And if gets away with this, it's not just going to embolden the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, it will embolden autocrats around the world, putting Americans in danger. What's next, an American citizen abroad or the fugitive from Turkey who lives in Pennsylvania, that the Turks have been trying to get their hands on? Do we turn him over, do they come and get him? So, I think what we have in the situation is a real risk to national security if we don't act.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Let me add one more interest here that you've raised the flag on, the president's personal financial interests which we don't know much about in Saudi Arabia.

SCHWAB: Yes, that's absolutely right. I mean, the financial disclosure forms that the president files do not reveal the lenders or business partners or side deals or customers of his businesses. And as a result, we know very little about his financial motivations. What little we do know is that the Saudis are spending a lot of money at his hotels. We know that a construction company partly owned by the Saudis has signed a preliminary deal to construct a Trump property overseas. And the man has done business with them for 20 years and spoken highly of his business relations with him. [07:20:29] Another concerning conflict link is this -- there were

rumors that Jared Kushner may have leaked some information that led the crown prince to round up his rivals. And it was rumored that or reported, rather, that the crown prince had said he has Jared Kushner in his pocket. He denied that, but he also denied killing Khashoggi. And right now, Jared Kushner, who has a security clearance, has to be concerned that if they take a strong action against Saudi Arabia, perhaps the crown prince's denial that he had been working with Kushner to gather that information could change. And so --

BLACKWELL: Yes.

SCHWAB: -- this White House is in a difficult spot.

BLACKWELL: The Saudi story has changed several times in the last month and a half or so. Let me read this tweet from Ben Rhodes, this was President Obama's former Deputy National Security Adviser in which he tweeted: "It's not just a question of what they do now; it's whether they've been lying for weeks to cover for Mohammed bin Salman. For the CIA to have the high confidence assessment now, they likely had info implicating MBS for a while. Yet Trump/Pompeo stood by MBS. Why?" Is that possible and should there be the investigation he calls for in the subsequent tweet?

SCHWAB: Oh, absolutely think so. It's rather implausible that either the president or the secretary of state was unaware of the CIA assessment over the past several weeks which raises a question as to whether we've been lied to by the White House, raising further questions about what conflicts of interest might have been motivating those possible lies. I think that if the current congress won't look into it, I'm looking forward to the house in January, maybe under Elijah Cummings in the House Oversight Committee, to really dig in on this and demand some answers from the White House for us since we don't seem to be able to get them voluntarily from the White House.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's see if we'll get that stronger opinion from the president next week. Walter Schwab, thanks so much.

SCHWAB: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Up next, President Trump says he's now finished answering Robert Mueller's questions on the Russia probe and he says, he did it by himself. The lawyers looked over him, but he answered the questions himself, he says.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:27:15] PAUL: Well, President Trump says he's finished answering questions regarding Russian election meddling. But the answers have not been submitted to Special Counsel Robert Mueller just jet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: 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, you know, was the weather sunny or rainy? He said it may have been a good day. It was rainy. Therefore, he told a lie. He perjured himself. OK, so, you know, you have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions. But no, it's -- the questions were very routinely answered by me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: The president huddled with his legal team for at least the last three days. Sources say, he and his legal team were not happy with some of the questions covering the transition period after the 2016 election. They believe it could be off limits as they pertain to the presidency. Margaret Talev, CNN Political Analyst and Senior Correspondent for Bloomberg News with us now; as well as Shan Wu, CNN Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor. It's so good to have you both here. So, Margaret, I wanted to ask you, why have they not been submitted yet?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the lawyers and the president have spent a considerable amount of time and effort trying to figure out both how to answer questions and which questions to answer. The broad expectation now, is that it's going to be next week before these questions are submitted and we expect them to fall in the area of collusion.

Not really a legal term of art, but we all know in general what that's getting to. But the president and his legal team have indicated that they had no intention of answering, even in writing these other questions about the areas, the sort of broader issue of obstruction. So, we expect that a lot of what's taking so long is just going over and over the details in case to make sure that the president's responses are going to be consistent and hold up.

PAUL: So, Shan, you heard the president there saying he crafted these questions himself. He wrote them himself. Surely, you're laughing, surely a legal team is not going to just give him carte blanche to do this.

[07:29:42] SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. That's completely the opposite I'm sure of what happened. Judging from the president's tweeting style, if I was his lawyer, I would never let him put pen to paper. In fact, I think probably the legal team has written every single word of those answers and probably a lot of the time was spent forcing the president to digest the words and getting his buy into it, because ultimately, he has to adapt whatever language the lawyers come up with.

And certainly, you know, as it was just pointed out, I mean, a lot of the issues with regarding what's off-limits and what is not off- limits, this is really just the opening salvo. I mean, once they put those forward, Mueller's team may have objections what they're saying are off limits. They could accept them, there could be further litigation. But the idea that he has written this all himself is just completely silly.

PAUL: You know, Margaret, the president tweeted on Thursday. "The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess." How would he know what the inner workings of the investigations are?

I mean, surely some of the questions he answered might give him some sort of insight?

TALEV: Well, and his lawyers, and Mueller's team are in contact as are the lawyers in the White House. But, you know, the president it has to think not only about himself, and not only about -- you know, people who advise his campaign.

But there are several members of his inner circle, and even his family including his son Don Jr. who have been brought into this, and have been sort of in theory in the potential crosshairs of Mr. Mueller's team for several months. So, some of his frustrations and concerns may involve what the implications on his family are going to be.

And we've seen him in sort of the public and Twitter setting veer between saying everything is fine. I've -- you know, I'm going to answer everything to being outraged at Mr. Mueller. And even just in the last few days, the same sort of thing everything will be fine, it's a total mess.

So, you know there's the president under a tremendous amount of pressure and he's had the break of the campaign. Those closing weeks of the campaign, the rallies for several weeks, and Mr. Mueller and his team doing the traditional thing where you put any sort of public notice of an investigation on hold.

That's over now, and there were in the closing weeks of Republican power in the House to takeover by the Democrats. So, the president's feeling a lot of pressure and this has come back into full force.

PAUL: But, there's been talk about James Comey, in his role here and he tweeted this week, he said, "House Republicans can ask me anything they want, but I want the American people to watch. So, let's have a public hearing. Truth is best served by transparency. Let me know when is convenient.

Shan, should the president release answers publicly in the art of transparency, and how likely is it that there would be a public hearing?

WU: I think it would be great. If you release them, I think his legal team is probably having break -- breaking out in sweats at your suggestion of that. And we might see him start tweeting out his answers.

But I think transparency would be great if he were to put out his answers, then he could say that no one can spin or try and mischaracterize them. And that's the same technique that Comey is using really, it's very smart to say I want to testify publicly because then everyone can see what the answers were and no one else can try and distort what actually happened.

But I think I'd be great if you put them out publicly. I don't know that either the prosecution or his defense team would like that very much, but it would be great for the American public. PAUL: Margaret, real quickly, I wanted to bring up Maria Butina. The Russian woman who's charged with conspiracy allegedly using NRA to infiltrate the U.S. on behalf of the Russian government.

Her attorneys have been meeting with federal prosecutors as we understand to craft a potential plea deal. Let's listen to Senator Ron Wyden, what he had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR), SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE: When she was a college student, she went and set up a shell company in South Dakota. You don't have very many college students set up by shell companies in South Dakota with NRA operatives for innocent purposes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Margaret, how does Maria Butina fit into all of this?

TALEV: Well, there's the legal question and that will play out probably much more discreetly, in the coming weeks. But, I think as the Senators comments reflect, you're going to see a whole new sort of change of pace, and process, and focus on the Hill starting in a little bit more than a month. Particularly on the House side.

But that's part of the reason why you see the renewed focus on Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch in this sort of closing weeks is. Republican leadership and the president's allies would like to be able to help turn the focus back to Democrats or to former FBI officials. The Democrats would like to be able to turn the focus toward not just the president, but broadly his team, the 2016 campaign, what happened in terms of connections with Russians.

And I think, we are certain if not in the legal track on the political track to see some of these figures from months or more than a year ago come back into play.

[07:35:02] PAUL: All right, Margaret Talev, and Shan Wu, we appreciate you both. Thank you.

WU: Thank you.

PAUL: The race to become governor -- Georgia's next governor appears to be over Democratic hopeful. Stacey Abrams, told supporters yesterday her Republican opponent Brian Kemp will become the new governor. But she made it very clear that she's not conceding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STACEY ABRAMS (D), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE, GEORGIA: So, let's be clear this is not a speech of concession. Because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true, or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that. But my assessment is the law currently allows no further viable remedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: Abrams also announced plans for a major federal lawsuit against the State of Georgia for what she calls the gross mismanagement of the election, and to protect future elections from unconstitutional actions. Now, in the statement, Brian Kemp, says he appreciates Abrams' passion, hard work, and commitment to public service.

For years, the number of kids who smoked traditional cigarettes dropped. Well, now many of them are turning to e-cigarettes. At such an alarming rate, the FDA is proposing new regulations to stop it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Well, mortgage rates actually held steady this week. Here is your look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:40:50] PAUL: 40 minutes past the hour right now, and disturbing new statistics about how teenagers may be using e-cigarettes. A study from the CDC and the FDA shows that vaping among middle school students has up 48 percent. Among high school students has up 78 percent.

Now, the Food and Drug Administration says the increase of teens and preteens using e-cigarettes is so alarming that it's proposing new rules to rein in products aimed at those kids. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look at this problem and potential solutions.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christi, I think when these e-cigs first came out, and they're still -- you know, a relatively new phenomenon, it wasn't exactly clear the impact they were going to have on kids on young people. But I think the data and the trends that people saw at the FDA this past year has really inspired a lot of these new recommendations for the crackdown here.

Nearly 80 percent increase in use among high schoolers. Nearly 50 percent increase in use among middle schoolers. I mean those are -- those are pretty staggering numbers. All along, it's been a balance according to the FDA and the Commissioner.

Look, maybe these e-cigs have a role in actually helping people stop smoking. But if people -- especially young people start smoking as a result, that's a balance they don't want to tolerate. This is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT GOTTLIEB, COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: We know that some proportion of kids who initiate on nicotine through an e- cigarette are going to migrate onto combustible cigarettes. And so, all that dramatic gains that we've made in recent years, getting smoking rates down among kids, there's a threat that that's going to be reversed if we don't do something about this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: And there's something else that I want to punctuate with this. 90 percent of people who become lifelong smokers start before the age of 18. 95 percent start before the age of 21. Only one percent of people who are lifelong smokers start after the age of 26. The point is it's a really vulnerable period for people if you start smoking at this point.

E-cigs even and then transition to real cigarettes, the likelihood of becoming a lifelong smoker is higher. And I think that's what the FDA is really trying to address. These are the specific proposed recommendations. You could take a look at the list there.

They want to restrict sales of these flavored e-cigarettes in particular. They feel that those are -- you know, targeting kids. They want to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, and they want to prohibit marketing that targets teens.

Again, the big goal here is to still make these e-cigs available for people, Christi, who are using them to help stop smoking. But really restrict the availability to young people. Christi?

PAUL: Sanjay, thank you so much. We appreciate it. Don Daniels is with us now. He's a ninth-grade teacher in Littleton, Colorado. Runs a tobacco education program. Don, what are you hearing from inside the high school, from some of these students?

DON DANIELS, NINTH GRADE TEACHER, CHATFIELD HIGH SCHOOL, LITTLETON, COLORADO: The things that we're hearing are the ease of accessibility. The students that I work with have no problem accessing these products, they have no problem accessing these devices. And so, anything that can be done to stop the ease of accessibility is helpful from our viewpoint, in our perspective.

PAUL: What is their attraction to this?

DANIELS: Well, when I was a kid, my dad would buy his cigarettes in front of me at the smoke shop, they'd have candied cigarettes. Well, a lot of these devices are the new version of that. They're adding flavors to these devices and they're lowering the threat threshold at the same time by making them seem safer than the most dangerous consumer product ever invented by humankind. Kids are assuming that they're safe, and they're really not.

PAUL: This is what's interesting. I know that there's a Colorado quitline. The eligibility age to call that to try to get off of this kind of thing is 15. But the health department -- public health officials call the explosion of teen vaping catastrophic. So, they're dropping that age level to 12.

DANIELS: Correct.

PAUL: Is that -- and do you see that that's very necessary?

DANIELS: Absolutely. In the trainings that I attend as a facilitator in tobacco and marijuana education, the largest group that was at my last training were middle school, counselors, and teachers. In the group that I'm currently working with, almost every single student I'm working with started before the age of 14.

[07:45:09] PAUL: So, do any of the proposals that we heard from Sanjay there that changing the way that these are marketed, taking some of them off the market. Will that really be a deterrent?

DANIELS: Absolutely. We need a two-pronged approach. We need to reduce the availability and accessibility, and these regulations will help. In addition to that, we need to also replace the funding that's being lost in education and prevention because much of the funding is based on the tobacco tax on traditional cigarettes.

As usage, their drops our funding is dropping. At the same time, we're trying to fight these new devices.

PAUL: All righty. Don, thank you for the work you do. We appreciate you being here.

DANIELS: Thank you very much.

PAUL: Absolutely, take good care. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:50:04] BLACKWELL: Live pictures here of Marine One at Joint Base Andrews. The president spoke from the South Lawn of the White House a moments ago. Let's listen to what the president says.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: Two stops. We're going to the two areas that you know very well. And, it's a shame. It seems that many more people are missing than anyone thought even possible. And I want to be with the firefighters, and the FEMA, and first responders.

We'll be spending a lot of time. We'll be coming back here, probably landing at 4:00 in the morning, or something like that. But we want to spend a lot of time, we want to discuss many things. 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. It should have been done many years ago. But I think everybody's on the right side.

It's a big issue. It's a big issue. Very expensive issue, but very, very inexpensive when you compare it to even one of these horrible fires. And we'll save a lot of lives in addition to a lot of money. So, we'll be out there talking to the governors, talking to the first responders and FEMA. They have been incredible. The firefighters have been unbelievably brave. Some of the stories I read last night. Unbelievably brave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, on Saudi Arabia, will the Crown Prince be facing any consequences for his role in the murder.

TRUMP: But we haven't been briefed yet. The CIA is going to be speaking me -- to me today. We have not been briefed yet as of this moment. We were told that we did not playing a role. We're going to have to find out what they have to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you submitted your answers --

TRUMP: Then?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you submitted your answer to the special counsel?

TRUMP: No, we do that next week. They're all done. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you confirm eventually whether the Crown Prince was responsible for this?

TRUMP: Well, we're taking a look at it. You know, 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 of economic development. They are -- they have been a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development.

And I also think that -- you know, I'm president, I have to take a lot of things into consideration. So, we will be talking with the CIA later and lots about this. I'll be doing that while up on the plane. I'll be speaking also with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

We have not been talking about, we have not. We have not been talking about it. We'll see.

No, it's not under consideration. We are looking, always looking. And whatever we can do toward Turkey, and frankly, countries that we get along with very well. We could -- we're having a very good moment with Turkey.

As you know, he gave Pastor Brunson back last week and we appreciate that. We are doing very well with Turkey. I get along very, very well with the president. He's a friend of mine. He's a strong man, he's a tough man, and he's a smart man.

But he's a friend of mine and whatever we can do, we'll do. But that is something that we're always looking at. But at this point, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you (INAUDIBLE), Mueller?

TRUMP: What?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Mueller now?

TRUMP: We haven't even talked about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) southern border?

TRUMP: Yes, we have a tremendous military force in the south -- on the border -- on the southern border. We have large numbers of people trying to get into our country. I must say the reason it's increased so much is because we're doing so well as opposed to the rest of the world.

And if you look at south of our borders not doing so well. But regardless, we have billions of people on line to get into our country legally, and those people have a preference. They have to have a preference. They've been waiting for a long time, they've done it legally.

So, we have a lot of things happening. But we have a great military force on the southern border. We're not letting people in to our country illegally. And we're not doing a release, we'll do a catch. But we're not doing releases. So, if they think they're going to be released into our country like in the old days, like for years and years, they catch and release, we're not releasing. They don't get released.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: What?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: As long as necessary. They built great fencing, they built a very powerful fence, a different kind of a fence, a very powerful. The fence is fully man. (INAUDIBLE)

And period fence that now I said at this morning they come up --

They are talking about all their great fear, all their problems with their country, but they're all waving their country's flag. What is that all about? If they have such fear and such problems, and they hate their country, why do we see all the flags being waved? For Guatemala, for Honduras, or El Salvador, we're seeing flags all over the place.

Why are they waving flags? This has nothing to do with asylum. This has to do with getting into our country illegally. And we have to know who wants to come into our country. OK.

[07:55:46] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Vice President Mike Pence have been questioning his loyalty?

TRUMP: No, I don't question his loyalty at all. He is 100 percent loyal, it was a phony story. I doubt they had any sources, a typical New York Times' phony story. Mike Pence is a 100 percent. Not even a doubt about it in my mind.

He's been a trooper, he's been with me from as soon as I won the primaries. I mean, he was the one I chose, and I could not be happier. And I don't question his loyalty at all. He's already protested in many ways.

Mike Pence is a terrific person. That was a phony story written by the New York Times who by the way never called me for a comment. How do you do a story like that? See, it's fake news, and that's what breaks up a country, fake news.

How do you do a story like that and you don't call the principal? I would -- I would give them a quote, I would say it's not true. And that's the end of their story. But they don't do that, they write, and then they make up sources. They may speak to one person, but they make up phony sources.

They make it like you write a novel, have you ever written a novel? That's the way a lot of the news stories are written, that's why call it fake news. It's fake, and it's a very bad thing for our country, it's very dangerous.

Mike Pence is a 100 percent. They should retract that story. But you can't do that story without calling me for a quote. Or you can call Sarah Huckabee, and say could I get a quote? And here she is. Could I get a quote from the president? I would be happy to give a quote. I would be happy.

And you know what the quote would be? Mike Pence is 100 percent. Now, you can't do your story. So, that's why they don't like calling me for a quote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you (INAUDIBLE) Nancy Pelosi?

TRUMP: I would help Nancy Pelosi if she needs some vote, she may need to vote. I will perform a wonderful service for her. I like her, can you believe it? I like Nancy Pelosi. I mean, she's tough and she's smart, but she deserves to be speaker.

And now, they are playing games with her. Just like they'll be playing with me with its called, presidential harassment. The president of your country is doing a great job, but he's being harassed, is presidential harassment.

Well, in a way her own parties harassing her, there's nobody else should be speaker. Now, that doesn't mean for a 100 years. But, certainly, they should start off with Nancy Pelosi as speaker. And I already have a lot of vote. If she needs any votes, if she asks me, I will give her the votes to put her over the club.

Well, I saw Tom Reed as an example. He's a fine man, a congressman. I would call him a moderate. I'm not saying I get him for the super conservative side but maybe I even get him from there.

But I don't imagine she'd be too many. But, whatever number of votes he needs, if it's 15 or 10 or two or one, she's got him from me, automatic. So, tell her opposition they're wasting their time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Border wall, are you (INAUDIBLE) shutdown (INAUDIBLE) funding here at border wall --

TRUMP: We're talking about the boarding wall -- border wall. We're talking about quite a big sum of money, about $5 billion. And I think, probably, if I was ever going to do we shut down over border security when you look at the caravans, when you look at the mess, when you look at the people coming in, this would be a very good time to do a shutdown.

I don't think it's going to be necessary, because I think the Democrat will come to their senses. And if they don't come to their senses, we will continue to win elections. You know, we won the Senate, you do recognize, right?

That means all the judges that I'm getting approved will now be easier because we actually picked up which is historic. We picked up two seats in the Senate. We went from 51-49 to 53-47. That's a tremendous difference. And these are Senators I really like. That's also a difference. Thank you all very much. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: What?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) ambassador and attorney general?

TRUMP: I have very close to made a decision on U.N. Ambassador or the Attorney General, no, we have it. But I will tell you until that decision is made we have a great gentleman in Matt Whitaker. And everybody tells me he's doing a fantastic job.