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CNN NEWSROOM

"Bus Driver From Heaven" Rescues Students from Wildfire; Trump Slams Retired Admiral who Led Bin Laden Raid; Florida Sues CVC and Walgreens over Opiod Crisis. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 19, 2018 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00]

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: You saw it in Kansas with Sharice Davids.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right.

ENTEN: This is a trend that we're seeing across the country, is that education levels are beginning to take on paramount importance compared to everything else in terms of voting patterns, especially among White Americans.

HARLOW: And that should change how Republicans are running specifically there for example?

ENTEN: It will change there, but it also may put states into play that weren't in play in 2016.

HARLOW: Like?

ENTEN: Like Arizona, like Texas maybe, even Georgia.

HARLOW: Look at what we just saw in the midterms for example in Arizona, in Texas, even though Beto O'Rourke didn't win, the fact that he was competitive there, the fact that we saw the Democrat won the Senate seat in Arizona.

ENTEN: Right. That's exactly what we saw Kyrsten Sinema win in Arizona. We saw - look, Beto O'Rourke, I was always very skeptical of him but he did better than any Democrat running State Wine generation. I'm a young guy. I don't remember Democrats winning State Wine in Texas. And the fact that he only lost by 2 1/2 points. That to me paints a potentially interesting Electoral College path for Democrats. If Republicans like Donald Trump can play in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, so on so forth in the north, maybe Democrats can counteract that by playing in the south, playing in states like Georgia, Texas, Arizona.

HARLOW: Democrats advantage in the national House vote continues to climb. If you have Democrats with an eight-point advantage, better than Republicans did in 2010 or 2014. What does that signal to you?

ENTEN: Yes. I mean, look, there are different ways to try and measure whether or not this was a wave. We can look at in terms of pure seats. One, net gain, net losses, but I like votes. Votes are very easy because they don't depend on how the district lines are drawn, and you can see that when you look at that House popular vote, you see that Democrats winning by eight, if they get that advantage up to 8 1/2, 9, which is potentially possible given that there are still some votes to be counted in California, that would be the largest win for a minority party of either side in an election, going into the election, Democrats were in the minority. This would be the largest win in the popular vote for that minority party in that election dating all the way back since I think 1942. That's a blue wave.

HARLOW: This is why you have such job security, because no one knows these numbers like you do. Did you get a vacation, a break at all post-midterms?

ENTEN: I did not get a vacation and not get a break. I was up in Hanover, New Hampshire up at the alma mater and I got pulled back by Brooke Baldwin show. And you could see me with a nice little wrinkly dinky camera there, but it seemed to work pretty well though.

HARLOW: Harry, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Good to have you.

HARLOW: All right, to this now. A man is being called a bus driver from heaven after driving evacuated school students through the California wildfires.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were like fires left and right. Everywhere you looked, there was smoke everywhere. And people trying to get out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Their terrifying journey to safety is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:37:10] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Nearly two dozen elementary school students and their parents are thanking the bus driver who safely drove them through the massive and deadly camp fire in northern California, really a remarkable act of heroism.

HARLOW: A true, true hero. So the children, two teachers, were loaded on to a bus. Flames were approaching their school. Watch this story from our Paul Vercammen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had a bus driver from heaven.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you. PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the Camp Fire raged, Kevin McKay, a few months into his job for the Paradise School District brace for the bus drive of his life and the lives of two dozen others.

KEVIN MCKAY, BUS DRIVER: Well, it was just -- it was time to go.

VERCAMMEN: Stranded children and two teachers jumped on.

MARY LUDWIG, TEACHER: There were 22 kids and my first thought was just getting them on the bus and getting them out of there because this guy was really menacing.

CHARLOTTE MERZ, STUDENT: It was so crazy and there were like fires left and right, everywhere you look. There was like smoke everywhere and people trying to get out and it was like really hard.

VERCAMMEN (on camera): Were you scared?

MERZ: Very scared but I tried to just like calm down because that would just make it worse for everybody else.

MCKAY: We started getting fire on both sides of the bus. Kids starting to get pretty antsy. There's a couple points, I think that you know we had some honest discussions about is this the time to get out of the bus.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Smoke seeped into the bus. Children started inhaling and falling asleep.

ABBIE DAVIS, TEACHER: I ran to the front of the bus and I said Kevin, these kids are telling me they're tired right now. And Kevin without even thinking about it took his shirt off and tore it into little pieces and we just started -- we just started tearing it up as quickly as we could to make filters for these kids to breathe.

VERCAMMEN: They dipped the rags in water. The harrowing truck continued. McKay drove in the middle of the road to avoid burning trees and buildings. Coming down the hill, the sky becomes lighter, the tension eases, the adults intentionally make some light comments about having pancakes and a black bear surviving at the black bear diner.

MERZ: It was great. I mean, after all that tenseness, we really needed a joke to just loosen everything up.

VERCAMMEN: Then back between walls of fire.

MERZ: When we turned the corner, there we were back again and it was awful. I just felt like this was never going to end.

DAVIS: Just being gridlocked trapped in the road, there was nowhere for us to go, the traffic wasn't moving, and then our last stretch too, I think that was the -- that was the moment I thought that we might not make it out. VERCAMMEN: Abbie's home burned, so did Charlotte's, and Kevin's,

Mary's still stands. Homes were lost but in the end, everyone on the bus survived.

[10:40:03] MCKAY: Safety is such an important part of a bus driver's role. And you know I must have paid close attention.

VERCAMMEN: A reference to the class he took on how to keep his precious passengers safe.

Paul Vercammen, CNN Paradise, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: What an amazing man.

SCIUTTO: If you're wondering, there are still folks, still heroes among us, right?

HARLOW: Right, there you go.

SCIUTTO: There's one.

HARLOW: And you can all help. Just go to CNN.com/impact. There's a big list there of ways you can help all of those folks who have lost everything.

SCIUTTO: Please do. That's a real chance to.

Well, just days ago, he praised America's veterans as a group of very important people. But this month, the president is launching a war of words against one of the country's most decorated veterans, the man who led the Osama bin Laden raid.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:45:20] SCIUTTO: Welcome back. This morning, the retired admiral credited with leading the Osama bin Laden raid is doubling down on his criticism of President Trump. William McRaven says that he stands by his comments that the president's attacks on the media are, quote, "The greatest threat to Democracy in his lifetime." It comes after the president slammed McRaven in an interview with Fox News Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, FOX NEWS: McRaven -- retired admiral, Navy SEAL, 37 years. Former head of U.S. Special Operations.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary Clinton fan.

WALLACE: Special Operations --

TRUMP: Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan.

WALLACE: -- who led the operations -- commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.

TRUMP: Look, he's a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer. And, frankly --

WALLACE: He's a Navy SEAL.

TRUMP: -- wouldn't it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: As a point of fact, McRaven says he did not back Clinton or anyone else in 2016. Joining me now to discuss all this is retired General Stanley McChrystal. He led forces in coalition forces in Afghanistan, also led Joint Special Operations Command during the capture of Saddam Hussein. He's written a book profiling 13 great leaders titled "Leaders, Myth and Reality." General McChrystal, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, FORMER COMMANDER U.S. AND ISAF FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN: Thanks for having me, Jim.

SCIUTTO: First, I want to get your reaction to the president's attack here, and just add that he himself has, you might say, tripled down on this. He tweeted just moments ago the following. "Of course, we should have captured Osama bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just before the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan billions of dollars and they never told us he was living there. Fools!"

Let's set aside the tweet for -- You're familiar with the president's criticisms here. You have your own tremendous service to this country, and you led Special Operations Forces before Admiral McRaven during a time when you were focused on capturing bad guys in Afghanistan, including Osama bin Laden. Tell me about the efforts you and the forces you commanded were making then, and how the president's criticism of those efforts resonates with you.

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, first, I know Bill McRaven and was honored to serve alongside him. I know just a few years ago, he was personally going out on counterterrorist raids with his forces, and the president is simply wrong. He's uninformed, and he is pushing an idea that I think is not helpful. But I really think it's symptomatic of the crisis in leadership we have in the nation today. And that is when we are allowing what a terrorist does, for example, when a car bomb blows up, that a terrorist has set, it's designed to frighten up, it's designed to enflame us, and it's designed to distract us. I think it's important when we think about leadership in America today, we not fall for that.

SCIUTTO: As you know, this is not new. This is part of a pattern with this president, that honored military service is no protection from the president's attacks if you criticize this president. You could say the same of John McCain. You could say it of Robert Mueller. Decorated for his service during Vietnam. Khizr Khan, who of course made the ultimate sacrifice in losing his son here, for someone like you who served so many years in the military, I know you're out of the military now, but you're in touch with your comrades, current and former. What effect does this have on military members' morale, when they hear the commander in chief make such personal attacks on people who have made such sacrifice for this country?

MCCHRYSTAL: I don't think personal attacks on anyone is warranted. I think there's certain honesty to what's happening now. The president didn't go to Arlington Cemetery for Veterans Day, and maybe that's honest, because if you really don't care, it would be a dishonest to pretend that you do. But I think when we think about leaders, what we really want is we don't need people who are smarter than everyone else or richer than everyone else or braver than everyone else. We need humans, but humans who can empathize, humans who can listen, even humans who can inspire, humans who can make us be better than we would otherwise be, and leaders who can bring together teams of the kind of people who are going to have to solve the problems that our nation faces today.

SCIUTTO: And to be asked to solve those problems, the military often under the most dangerous circumstances, you know well. You know better than me that soldiers, men and women, they answer the call.

[10:50:00] They answer the order when it's given. And they have shown that over the last couple of decades of the America's two longest wars. But as a commander, who is very conscious of the importance of good leadership, do you worry that there's a lack of respect for this commander in chief? Or that morale is being affected to a degree or even his judgment question by serving members of the military. That undermines America's military readiness because of the lack of the leadership you describe?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, I believe that the military culture is pretty solid. I think that the culture of the United States is solid as well. I think there's a belief in citizenship. There's a belief in responsibility. There's a belief in service that is just genuine and very, very deep. But I think that's stronger than any near term leadership things we may either follow enthusiastically or disagree with.

It's really important that we go back to what is important in America. We look in the mirror and we decide what we are and what we want our nation to be. How we want our nation to be viewed. How we want our grandchildren to look at us. And I think that culture is solid enough that even though winds will blow in every direction that will come through. But we do need to remind ourselves that when things are difficult, we need to stand up and be strong.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Many members of the military, of course, as many American citizens voted for this president. You might say there's some evidence that most members of the military voted for this president. I'm not going to ask you to be sort of an armchair pollster here, but I'm curious from your conversations and experiences, has the view of this president changed over time, in the last couple years, as they heard these consistent attacks on people like Admiral McRaven?

MCCHRYSTAL: I haven't asked anyone that question because in this environment, I don't think it's fair. But my sense is that the leaders I have known and the people who are followers of which I am one also, we have certain things we want and demand of leaders. And to a degree, there has to be a confidence in the leader's basic core values. We have to be able to believe in enough of what that leader represents to feel comfortable following them -- sometimes to our deaths. And so I think the degree to which people are uncomfortable with behavior or attitudes that are incongruent with what they believe in, that has to be a factor.

SCIUTTO: Well, General McChrystal, we thank you for your time this morning. More importantly, we thank you for your service to the country.

HARLOW: All right. For all of his service. Thank you.

Really interesting, important interview. Thank you for that.

On average, 45 people die every day in this country because of opioids. And the state of Florida is taking action. The country's two largest drugstore chains, Florida's attorney general says deserve some blame for the growing crisis. We'll update you on it next.

[10:57:20] SCIUTTO: The state of Florida is suing the nation's two largest drugstore chains. The state's attorney general claims Walgreens and CVS played a role in creating the opioid crisis by overselling painkillers and not doing enough to stop illegal sales.

HARLOW: CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans is with us for more. This is a case brought by the Florida A.G. Pam Bondi, who is also in talks might she be the next attorney general, and it goes hard after Walgreens, CVS and others.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And a whole bunch of others. Look, it's adding Walgreens and CVS into a big complaint, a suit they have, Purdue pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson, a whole bunch of names here that they say knowingly prescribed, distributed, and sold way too many pills. A couple examples here, Walgreens for example in the complaint, it says they sold -- dispensed 2.2 million tablets from a store in a town with a population of 12,000.

HARLOW: Unreal.

ROMANS: So think about that 2.2 million opioid tablets, highly addictive opioids. Another case of a town of 3,000, where 285,000 pills a month were distributed from a Walgreens and CBS are a little less precise, but on CVS, they also say there were way too many pills, humanly impossible for Floridians to consume that many pills.

Here's what CVS says. "We believe the state of Florida's addition of CVS pharmacy to this lawsuit is without merit. CVS is dedicated to helping reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion." And CVS goes on to in lengthy details showed how they have more recently really tried to ratchet this back. The awareness is really growing here. Walgreens told us they're not going to comment on pending litigation.

SCIUTTO: So what is their explanation for how they didn't notice that many millions of pills were being prescribed in a town with 3,000 people?

ROMANS: Their focus right now is how they are trying to fix this now. But what the state is saying is this went on for a very long time. They go all the way back to 1999 and they showed these huge numbers of opioids. You know, the problem in Florida was that people were coming from out of state, and I think 90 of the top 100 prescribing doctors of opioids in this country were all in Florida. So there were these sort of like pill mills in Florida. And Florida, you know, said their people suffered. They have morgues on some day, they chronicle some days where the morgues were overflowing. They didn't have more morgue space, and they have medical examiners who couldn't take a day off because you're having ten overdoses a day.

HARLOW: We saw that first-hand in Ohio. We were inside of a morgue freezer where they had no more room for these bodies because of this crisis. But Walgreens and CVS, they have limited the amount of pills that they sell to like seven at a time.

ROMANS: That's right. After one could argue that so much of the country is addicted you know. So now, what is the path forward here?